"Fun?" Merry swivelled his head around sharply. He gaped at his wife. "Fun?"
Suddenly he realized that her blush, the trembling lips, the widened eyes were not a reaction of shock at whatever their son-in-law might have done to their daughter, but a failing attempt at suppressing laughter. "Fun?!" Merry repeated in a hoarse whisper, and his voice seemed to come from far away, sounding almost disembodied. He stared at the book in his hands. It was closed. Nothing on its cover revealed the nature of the book in any way. He looked back at Éowyn.
"You... you... you know what this is!"
Éowyn was biting on her lips so hard that they were invisible. A fine tremor had gripped her body. She was shaking all over, about to burst out in raucous laughter that would probably bring the entire population of the Smials running to the door of Ivy's and Pippin's bedroom.
Merry knew what Éowyn's temper sounded like when unleashed, both in a good mood and in a bad mood.
He did the only thing he could do. He quickly made his way to the door and closed it from the inside. Leaning with his back against the closed door, he returned his attention to the object of his wrath and her mirth. He held up the book to her. Daughter of kings. Widow of prince and steward. High lady of Rohan. Mistress of Brandyhall. Wife. Mother. And grandmother, for all that was curly on his feet!
This train of thought must have been visible on his face, for Éowyn was now slowly sinking down on the bed, her face covered in her hands. Muffled sounds of laughter refuelled the fire Merry felt in his cheeks. His toes curled under as he clenched his fists, feeling the unreasonable urge to beat the book on his wife's head. This impulse (unthinkable, striking the woman he loved!) more than anything else finally calmed him down. He relaxed the death grip on the book and padded over to Éowyn. When he spoke again, he could not quite keep the sound of shock from his voice, but at least he was not screaming. "You know what this is?"
For a moment the room was silent but for Éowyn's heavy, irregular breathing. Then she looked up at him, her face flushed crimson, her hair tousled, her eyes wet with tears of laughter and brilliant with mirth.
She was so beautiful that he thought his heart would stop.
Éowyn nodded, blushing even harder. "It's not Pippin's book, you know." She ducked her head, looking at him out of the corners of her eyes, obviously embarrassed in spite of the exhibited hilarity. Merry knew that the expression on his face was probably priceless in its disbelieving stupidity. "Not Pippin's book?" He blinked at her. "This..." He struck his fingertips against the cover of the book – but softly. A gesture as disbelieving as the expression on his face. "This is Ivy's book?"
Éowyn pressed her lips together again, a visible effort not to burst out laughing again. An effort that Merry thoroughly appreciated.
He was a successful hobbit. A grandfather many times over. Happily married for the second time. He was quite secure in his masculinity. But there were dark nights when he remembered ribald jokes of his tweens, made between hobbit lads about hobbit girls... about how size did matter as well as the skill for successfully ploughing certain furrows. And while he was aware that his tool was very well sized indeed, sometimes he could not suppress an anxious thought or two about how he could ever measure up to Éowyn's first husband in bed. Faramir had been a tall and strong man, probably in every respect. And if Ivy needed such a book to enhance her... he looked at the bed that was customarily shared by his daughter and her husband and gulped. Ivy was quite a bit smaller than her mother.
"Ivy's friends in Gondor wanted to give her something special when she got married. They knew just how smitten she was with Pippin. And they were quite old enough to know the delightful details of bodily love themselves, dear." Éowyn grinned at him. "I admit that even in Gondor you don't talk about these things openly, and it's not easy to find a book store that carries these little books and that will sell them to women... but as there are quite a few pleasure houses catering to nobility in Minas Tirith, there are places where you can find the most amazing things."
Merry gaped at Éowyn. How was it possible that he could grow so old and still be surprised and overwhelmed at customs of the Big Folk and... he gulped. And his wife's attitude towards them. "You bought it?" he croaked.
Éowyn snorted, "No, I did not." Then she winked at Merry. "I only located a shop that would sell... certain... literature to respectable young ladies. That's all." Then she looked from the book to the silk scarf on the floor. "I never knew if she really received it... or if she liked it..."
Merry looked at the scarf and remembered a picture he had glimpsed in the book that seemed to involve ties of that manner which made his body tighten in a not entirely unpleasant way. He swallowed hard.
"Well," he finally replied in the driest and most reasonable tone he could manage. "Judging by where and how Willow found this book," he glanced at the night stand, "I'd say that yes, she does indeed like this... book."
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.