88. Chapter 87 - December 1437
Estella shrugged. “He’s going to have to realize you’ve grown up some time.” She finished pinning Ivy’s hair back and patted her shoulder. “You look lovely, Ivy. There’s nothing wrong with the dress. Éowyn said it’s what the Queen wears, right?”
Ivy sighed. “But Queen Arwen isn’t built quite the same as me.” She patted her breasts. “If I were smaller, then maybe--”
“It’s fine, Ivy. Everything’s covered, nice and proper.” Estella set down the brush and smiled at her. “I’m sure Pippin will like it.”
Ivy looked up at her. “Which is why Dad will have a fit!”
Estella just laughed and took her hand, pulling her up out of the chair. Ivy walked in front of the mirror. All right, so it didn’t look so bad from the front. The loose silk overdress mostly hid the form-fitting dress underneath. It was just when she looked down that the dress was a little... revealing. And the only ones tall enough to look down were Pippin... and her Dad. She sighed. She wondered how long it would take before her dad told her to go change.
Estella fastened her necklace for her, the necklace she’d gotten from Pearl. She touched the green gem and sighed. “All right, I’m ready.”
Her fears were confirmed when she saw her father’s face as they entered the Great Hall. He scowled. “Ivy, do you really think you should wear--?”
“Doesn’t she look lovely in the dress Éowyn gave her?” Estella said, cutting him off. Ivy watched her father’s jaw tighten. She had a feeling he wouldn’t refuse her something her mother had given her. He took a deep breath and nodded. “You look lovely, Ivy.” He kissed her cheek. “Just... stay away from Pippin tonight,” he whispered into her ear. She turned to look at him, ready to be angry, but saw the smile at the corner of his mouth. She relaxed and smiled back. “I’ll try,” she said.
Fari darted past them, dressed in his best clothes, heading for Theo and Eomer over near the long table of food. Which meant his father was probably close behind. Ivy turned and smiled at Pippin.
“Hello, Ivy,” he said. “You look...” His voice trailed off, his eyes widened, and his mouth fell open as he gaped at her.
Her father coughed and Pippin shook his head. He must have realized he’d been staring, because he blushed a little. “Um... you look... very nice!” he said and took her hand and kissed it.
“If you’re going to ogle my daughter, at least try to be more subtle about it,” her dad said, keeping a straight face. But Ivy saw the amusement in his eyes. He took Estella’s arms and they walked away to greet the guests. Ivy bit her lip, trying not to laugh. Estella’s last ‘chat’ with him must have worked.
“Are you laughing at me?” Pippin asked. He pulled her close. “That’s really quite cruel, wearing a dress like this, when...” He looked down and made a strangled noise in his throat. He looked up at her. “You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?”
“Oh, no,” she giggled. “I need you to help me pass out gifts.”
“That’s all you need me for?” he asked, eyebrow raised.
“Well, no...” she said. “I need you for some other things, too. But not for a while yet. Five more months.” She gave him her best version of a seductive smile.
“And what are you going to need me for in five more months?” he asked coyly, slipping his arms around her waist.
“I’ll need you to help me pack, because I’m moving to Tuckborough.” She grinned at him.
“Tuckborough?” he asked. He pulled her closer, so they were pressed together. “I live there, too. Maybe we’ll see each other.”
“Maybe,” she said. He closed the distance and kissed her.
“Eww!” Theo’s voice said behind her. “Do you have to do that in front of everyone?” He made a gagging noise.
Ivy turned and glared at him. “Go away, Theo.”
He smirked and stuck out his tongue at her before trotting away into the crowd.
Ivy shook her head. “Sorry,” she said.
Pippin chuckled. “I remember being like that. In fact, I think I did the exact same thing to Pearl, once.”
Ivy laughed, imagining a small Pippin teasing his sister. “You must have been adorable.”
He snorted. “Not according to my sisters.”
She poked him in the side. “That’s not true. I know they adore you. I heard from Aunt Celly that they spoiled you rotten.”
“Oh, look who’s talking,” he laughed. “Your Dad was worse, spoiling you.” He winked.
She smirked. “Aunt Celly told me that, too. Of course, she also told me that someone else spoiled me as well.”
Pippin tried to give her an innocent look, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I have no idea who she could be talking about.”
“I don’t think we should be in here,” Pippin said, stopping in the doorway.
“I want to spend some time alone with you!” Ivy laughed, pulling him into her father’s study. She dragged him over to a chair near the fire and pushed him down. Then settled herself on his lap. “And this is the one place we can be alone and no one will suspect us of doing anything.” She leaned in to whisper in his ear. “And you do want to do things, don’t you Mr. Took? I’ve seen you watching me all evening.”
He let out a shuddering breath and she saw desire darken his eyes. “Soon,” he said. “Five more months...”
She smiled and kissed him, then settled into his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed. “Five more months...”
She closed her eyes and pressed her nose under his ear. Only five more months and they’d be able to do this all the time. She could curl up in his lap without worrying what others would think, and he could ogle her all he wanted. He’d been sneaking glances down her dress all evening. And from the way his breath was brushing across her chest--and the hardness against her thigh--she guessed he was doing it again. She smiled.
His hand started rubbing small circles on her back. “How does it feel to be a grown up, now?” he murmured.
“Not much different,” she said. Coming of age was going to be overshadowed by becoming Mistress of Tuckborough. She’d have new responsibilities as an adult, but even more responsibilities as the Thain’s wife. “Estella’s been giving me more responsibilities, to get me ready to be mistress of a huge household.” She looked up at him. “I have to admit I’m not really looking forward to that part.”
“I didn’t look forward to being Thain, either,” he said. “But don’t worry, my sisters will look after you. If you need help with anything, ask them.” He smiled. “And if anyone gives you any trouble, go to Pearl. She got most of the temper in our family and can be quite scary.” He kissed her gently. “You’ll do fine, love,” he said.
She smiled and nestled back into into his arms, closing her eyes again. It was lovely, sitting here in front of the fire in Pippin’s arms, warm and cozy. She thought she could stay here forever.
The next thing she was aware of was voices--her father and Estella whispering together. She opened her eyes a crack. The fire had burned down and the room was dim. She must have fallen asleep. She kept her head down and her eyes closed. If she was still ‘sleeping’, maybe her dad wouldn’t be too upset with them for sneaking away.
Pippin startled awake. “Wha...?” His hair brushed her face as he looked up... probably at her dad. “Oh...sorry, Merry.” Pippin shifted under her. “We fell asleep. I didn’t mean--”
“Pippin,” her dad said, cutting him off. “Just make sure she gets to her room. You’ll get a stiff neck sleeping in that chair.”
“You want me to take her,” Pippin asked incredulously.
There was a slight pause and Ivy held her breath, wondering what her dad would say. “I trust you, Pip,” he said.
Ivy nearly gasped, but managed to keep quiet as the footsteps padded out of the study. Then she lifted her head. Pippin was watching the empty doorway.
“He trusts you,” Ivy said. She smiled and ran her finger around the buttons of his waistcoat. “I suppose this means you won’t be taking me to my room and having your way with me?”
“No,” he chuckled, taking her hand and kissing her fingers. “I want your dad to continue to trust me.” He winked at her. “Doesn’t mean I can’t think about it, though.”
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