80. Chapter 79 - December 1436
“I have asked permission to court Ivy Brandybuck and her father has agreed.”
It was the silence that got to her. The dead silence that followed Pippin’s announcement to the elder Tooks that he had chosen to court her. Ivy made herself stare straight ahead to face them, while next to her, out of sight of everyone else, she had a deathgrip on Estella’s hand. There had been whispers and stares when they’d announced it to the Brandybucks, but not this shocked silence.
Then Reg and Everard and Ferdy came forward to offer their congratulations, and a few more followed after that. But many of the older Tooks held back, whispering and looking down their noses at her.
“Are you sure that is a wise choice, Peregrin?” an old aunt asked, peering at Ivy like she was a broken-down horse for sale.
Ivy looked up at Pippin. His jaw was clenched, his eyes angry. “It is my choice to make, Flora,” he said coldly.
“She’s...” Flora gave a little cough. “You have a bloodline to consider, Peregrin,” she scolded. “You are the Took and Thain. And she’s one of them. The Big Folk.” She whispered the last like it was something dirty, too embarrassing to be brought up in polite company. “You could certainly do better.”
“Better!” Her father was on his feet now, next to Pippin, the both of them looking quite angry. Ivy had a silly thought, that she was glad to see them angry together, rather than at each other.
“Yes, better!” a middle-aged hobbit said. “It’s a disgrace, mingling with the Big Folk.” He shook his finger at them. “Your father, Peregrin, went through a lot of trouble to make that alliance with the Northtooks! And you threw it away!”
“Yes, we’ve heard it all before from you, Hildibras!” Reg said, stepping in front of the hobbit. “But the fact remains that Diamond was unfaithful to the marriage. Don’t go blaming Pippin for any of that! She hated him from the start. That match should never have been made!”
“Paladin did what’s best for this family!” Hildibras said, pounding his fist into his hand. “But that wasn’t good enough for his selfish son, who couldn’t uphold his responsibilities and had to drown himself in drink--don’t deny it, Reg, we know you were covering for him!--and then he throws over his son’s mother so he can get a new young wife in his bed!”
“Diamond was never a mother to Faramir!” Pearl stood up now, going to stand next to her brother. “Everyone with eyes knows that.” She glared at Hidibras. “And don’t you lecture Pippin on our father!” she scolded, stabbing a finger at him. “My father made a grave mistake arranging that marriage and he finally admitted it at the end of his life! Huh! Didn’t know that, did you Uncle Hildi?”
The hobbit’s face reddened. “Doesn’t matter! He’s still passing over many suitable lasses for...” He turned his hard gaze onto Ivy. She made herself stare back. “...one of the Big Folk,” he finished. “Why is that, Peregrin? Why upset your family for this one lass?”
Pippin took a step towards Hildibras. “Because I love her.” Ivy got a warm feeling from those words, spoken clearly and with no uncertainty. Hildibras wasn’t so moved.
“Love? The Thain doesn’t have that luxury, Peregrin!” He shook his head. “You make your alliances and if there’s another lass you fancy, well...” He coughed and avoided Pearl’s stare. “I’m sure Meriadoc’s by-blow could be as accommodating as her mother apparently was.”
It was only the quick reflexes of Pippin’s cousins that Hildebras didn’t get a fist--Thain’s or Master’s, whoever reached him first--in his mouth. Reg and Pearl both got a hold of Pippin, while Everard and Ferdy managed to grab her father. The room exploded in shouting.
Ivy just swallowed and stared at her lap, her cheeks warm. Old Hildibras actually hadn’t been too far off the mark with that. Estella squeezed her hand and Nel scooted over into the chair that Pearl had vacated next to her.
“Don’t listen to him, Ivy,” Nel whispered into her ear. “He’s a right bastard. Never had much use for Pip. And he was one of Diamond’s supporters. I’d be surprised if she hadn’t given him a roll in her bed.” She took Ivy’s other hand and squeezed it.
Ivy shrugged. “I know. It’s just...” She looked up at Nel. “He’s kind of right.”
“So what?” Nel said softly. “You make my brother happy. Nothing else matters.”
Estella suddenly snorted and they both looked at her. Estella shook her head and leaned in close to whisper to them. “The idiot just accused Merry of using his ‘extraordinary influence’ over Pippin to break up the marriage and push Ivy onto Pippin instead.”
Ivy gave a snort of her own. If only it had been that easy...
“My cousin does bring up a good point,” another aunt said, “though he didn’t present it in a respectable way.” Ivy remembered her name was Rosa Took. She’d always been kind to Ivy when Ivy had visited the Smials as a child. “I’m not saying anything against you, Merry, but there is the issue that Ivy isn’t legitimate.”
“She was claimed by her father and that is enough,” said Reg. “It’s in the books.” He stabbed a thumb over his shoulder at the bookshelves behind Pippin’s desk. “I did a lot of reading while covering for Pippin,” he said, aiming a glare at Hildibras. “As long as the father claims the child and inheritance isn’t in question, legitimacy isn’t going to be an issue.”
There was a murmur through the crowd. Ivy bit her lip. She’d never even thought about that. She’d never thought of herself as ‘illegitimate’. She just had extra parents in Estella and Faramir.
“And what of her age,” another uncle said. “Only sixteen? I’m surprised you’d allow such a thing, Meriadoc.”
“I’m nearly seventeen,” Ivy blurted out. Her age was still a sore point with her. All their eyes turned to look at her. She took a breath and continued. “And I’ll be of age at eighteen, seeing as I’m one of the Big Folk.” She couldn’t decide whether to glare at Flora or Hildibras.
“And she talks back, as well,” Flora sniffed.
Her father opened his mouth to reply, but Pippin beat him to it. “I’d rather she talk back than be one of those simpering girls that agree with everything I say!” He glared at his aunt. “And isn’t it your granddaughter, Flora, who everyone was saying I should choose?”
Flora grumbled something and stepped back.
Pippin looked around the room. “I am going to choose who I court! And I choose Ivy. I told you today because you need to know, not because I need your opinion on the matter. I let my father choose a wife for me, because it was ‘best for the family’, and it brought nothing but grief to me and my son. If Ivy and I decide to marry, then it will be decided between us and her parents, and no one else!” He looked around at the Tooks. “Not one of you has been beyond the borders of the Shire or Bree. You have no cause to judge the Big Folk by the actions of a few ruffians, just as the Big Folk would have no cause to judge the manners of hobbits by a few of you.” Estella gave a little snort of laughter, quickly turned into a cough under her handkerchief. “Her mother’s people are brave and honorable. It is through the sacrifices of them, and other Men, that we can enjoy peace in the Shire. And as for ‘bloodlines’...” He wrinkled his nose on the word. “Ivy is a daughter of kings,” he continued. “But it would not matter to me if her mother had been a simple peasant of Rohan. I love her, and that is all that matters.”
Ivy’s breath caught in her throat, the emotions threatening to well up out of her. Derwyn had not even tried to defend her to his friends, yet Pippin was defending her to the most important Tooks in the Shire, people who could make his life miserable if he got on their bad side.
Pippin looked over at her and frowned, then turned back to the crowd. “That’s all,” he said sharply, then hurried over and knelt in front of her, taking her face in his hands and looking at her with worried eyes. It wasn’t until he brushed his thumbs across her damp cheeks that she realized she’d been crying.
“Are you all right?” he asked softly. “Did they upset you?”
She shook her head. She hadn’t paid any mind to the insults, really. She supposed she was used to them by now. “No, I’m fine,” she said, wiping at her happy tears. She leaned forward and kissed him, then looked into his eyes, smiling at him. “Everything’s fine.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.