Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings belongs to JRR Tolkien. I'm just borrowing it for a while.

Warming Up is Hard to Do

July 1450

Ivy peered out the window, trying to see the sky in the darkness. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. She hoped Pippin would be home soon. It was a long ride home from Hobbiton, and she didn't want him to get caught in this storm. Flashes of lighting lit the distant sky, revealing glimpses of thick clouds. It was going to be a big storm.

The rain came suddenly, lashed against the windows by the wind. Ivy shuddered and drew the curtains closed. Pippin was going to be soaked if he was still out on the road. She pulled on her robe and went out into the hall, down towards the bath. She gathered some towels and went back to her bedroom, after making a quick sweep by the children's rooms. They were all asleep.

She lay the towels next to Pippin's nightshirt on the dresser and took off her robe. There was no use waiting for him by pacing and she might as well get the bed warmed. She blew out the lamps, leaving the one near the door still burning. Then she crawled into bed to wait.

The rumble of thunder were getting close enough to rattle the windows a bit when the door to the bedroom finally opened. Her husband came in, looking soaked and miserable. She sat up.

"You're still awake?" he asked, dropping his sopping cloak near the door.

"I was worried about you," she said.

He shrugged. "I managed not to drown," he said, pulling at the buttons of his jacket. "Barely."

"There's towels on the dresser."

He finally gave her a smile. "Oh, love, what would I do without you?"

"Freeze to death, most likely," she said. She started to get out of bed, but he shook his head.

"No, you stay there. No use the both of us being cold." He grinned and wagged his eyebrows at her. "And I'll need you to warm me up."

Ivy giggled and settled back under the covers, watching Pippin strip off his wet clothes and dry himself with the towels. She loved to look at him. It was hard to believe he was sixty now, well into hobbit middle-age. He certainly didn't look middle-aged. Although a bit rounder about the middle than when they married, he was still thinner than his fellow hobbits. He continued to exercise occasionally, running through sword drills to keep up his skills, and he had no trouble keeping up with the children. The only indication of his true age was the flecks of grey in his reddish-brown hair and maybe a few new laugh lines around his eyes. Besides, there were other parts of him that still thought he was a tween. She smiled a bit, glancing at his exposed groin.

He peered out from under the towel he was rubbing through his hair and caught her eye. "I'm afraid I'm not much to look at tonight," he said, glancing down to the object of her gaze. He looked back at her and winked. "I'm a bit cold."

"Well, then," she said, a blush warming her cheeks. "You'd better come over here so I can warm you up."

Pippin chuckled and pulled on his nightshirt. He blew out the last lamp and made his way through the dark to the bed. Ivy pulled back the blankets for him, holding her arms open to him. He slid closer to her and Ivy squeaked. "Your feet are cold!" she complained.

Pippin just laughed and squirmed closer, putting his hands under her nightgown and on her bare bottom. She squealed, but he just laughed and cut off her protests with a kiss.

"You're mean," she mumbled into his kiss, squirming against his cold hands on her skin.

"You said you'd warm me up," he chided, giving her that "innocent" look he'd perfected over the years.

"Mmmmmmm," was her only reply, because he was kissing her again, plunging his tongue into her mouth. He pushed his hips into her and she noticed certain bits of him were starting to warm up.

His hands were warming up, too. At least, she didn't notice they were cold anymore as one of them slid farther up under her nightgown, moving slowly over her hip and up her ribs to cup her breast.

A crash of thunder startled them a moment. Ivy had completely forgotten about the storm, she was so wrapped up in Pippin. Pippin just grinned and went back to kissing her. "It can...storm all...it wants now," he said, punctuating his words with a trail of kisses along her jaw and down her neck. "We're nice...and cozy...in here...and..." He stopped as his kisses reached the scoop neck of her nightgown. He grinned up at her, his eyes twinkling. "Hmmm, I wonder what's in here?" he asked, as he fingered the tiny buttons running down the front.

"Why don't you open it and find out," she said huskily, holding his gaze. She barely noticed the next crash of thunder when he started to slowly open the buttons. "Are you warming up now?" she asked when he reached the third button. He chuckled and lifted his head to kiss her

The door to their room flew open. "Mommy!"

Willow and Eoleof came racing into the room, their eyes wide in fear. Another crack of thunder and both girls were leaping into the bed and burrowing between their parents.

Pippin cringed and grunted when Willow's knee landed high up on his thigh.

"You all right?" asked Ivy, holding an armful of shivering Eoleof.

"Near miss," said Pippin, finally letting his breath out. "Nothing damaged." He lifted the blanket to let Willow snuggle in next to him. "How do children always know where to put their knees," he muttered.

Ivy patted his cheek then turned to her daughters. "Did the storm scare you?" she asked.

They both nodded. "Can we stay here?" whispered Eoleof.

"Are you sure you don't want to go jump into bed with Fari?" asked Pippin hopefully.

Ivy scowled at him. "You can stay here," she said, smoothing back Eoleof's hair. Thunder boomed again, the lighting flashing in quick flickers, and the girls pulled the blanket over their heads.

Pippin sighed and lay down, looking over his huddled daughters at Ivy. "I guess I don't get any more warming up tonight," he whispered, his lower lip pouting.

Ivy rolled her eyes. "You don't give up, do you?"

"But I like it when you warm me up," he said, wagging his eyebrows.

"Are you cold, Daddy?" Willow asked, peeking out from under the blanket, even as another crash of thunder made her jump.

"No, love, not anymore. I was out in the rain earlier, but Mum got me warmed up when I came home," he said, sneaking a wink at Ivy.

Ivy pursed her lips at his double meaning, but Willow just nodded and then dove back under the blankets when the thunder rattled the windows.

The door opened again and two more little bodies hurtled onto the bed.

"The thunder is scary!" said Legolas, pushing his way between Willow and his father.

"Very scary," agreed Gimli, trying to squeeze in after Legolas.

"Ow, Gimli. Stop pushing!" Willow yelped. "You're on my hair, Legolas!"

Pippin slid over, making room for the twins. He looked up at Ivy. "It's a good thing this is a big bed," he said, "and not just for..." He gave Ivy another suggestive look, that made her shake her head.

"Not just for what?" asked Eoleof.

"Yes, for what?" Ivy asked, with an innocent tone that didn't match her wicked grin.

Pippin wrinkled his nose at Ivy, then made a show of thinking about it. "Well..., I think it can be used for...tickling!" He shot his hand out to tickle Eoleof, then moved on to tickle the other three, until all four of them were giggling and squealing. The squirming children pushed Ivy to the edge of the bed.

"All right, I think that's enough," she said, sitting up on the small bit of space left to her.

"Mum's no fun," Pippin said, poking Legolas' belly and making the little boy giggle.

"You're not the one getting pushed out of the bed," said Ivy.

Another flash and crash shook the room. The four children squealed and dove under the covers.

Ivy stood up, her spot on the bed now taken up by Eoleof and Willow. The four lumps under the blankets were squirming and giggling, still wound up from the tickling. She cocked an eyebrow at Pippin. "You got them all worked up," she said.

Pippin shrugged and gave her an apologetic grin. "At least they're not scared of the storm anymore." He lifted the blanket to look underneath. "Are you ready to go back to your rooms now?" he asked.

"No!" came the chorus of muffled little voices.

Willow pulled the blanket down to look at her dad. "Mum said we could stay here."

"Well, then you should move over and let Mum have some room then," admonished Pippin. Some squirming and shuffling soon gave Ivy her spot back.

She sat down just as the door opened again. Fari stood in the doorway, carrying a sniffling Estella. Bori and Ari were behind him.

"Stel woke up crying from that last crash of thunder," he said sleepily. "And those two have been in my room, but they're not scared." He rolled his eyes.

Bori and Ari spotted their brothers and sisters and trotted into the room. They climbed up on the foot of the bed. "Can we stay here, too?" Ari asked.

Ivy stood up. "There's not much room left..."

"We can sleep here," Bori said, and he flopped down across the foot of the bed.

Ari did the same. "But we're not scared of the storm," he said a bit defensively.

"Of course not," said Pippin, barely managing to keep a straight face.

Fari put Stel down between Willow and Eoleof. "I'm going back to bed," he said, yawning.

"No, you have to stay, too!" said Bori, sitting up.

Ivy bit her lip against the smile. Bori worshipped his big brother.

"There's no room, Bori," Fari said.

"Sure there is," said Pippin. He slid out of bed and waved towards his spot. "You can have my spot."

Fari nearly glared at his father for a moment. "Thanks, Dad," he mumbled. He shuffled over to get into the bed, much to the delight of his young siblings.

Ivy pulled an extra blanket from the trunk at the end of the bed and covered Bori and Ari. "Everyone settled in?" she asked. Seven cheerly little voices and one slightly grumpy voice said 'yes'.

Ivy turned to her husband. "Now where are we supposed to sleep, Mister Took?"

He came over and wrapped an arm around her waist. "We'll just go to a guest room." He kissed her ear. "Then you can finish warming me up."

There was a cough from the bed. "Um...Dad?" Fari said. "They may not understand it," he said, nodding towards his siblings, "but I'm twenty years old. I know what "warming up" means." He wrinkled his nose.

"Oh." Pippin's face went red.

Ivy couldn't help herself. She clapped a hand over her giggles. "I knew that would get you into trouble," she said, poking Pippin in the arm. She looked over at Fari. "Sorry, Fari."

Fari shrugged and rolled over, pulling the blankets up over his head.

"Well, we'll just...um...go then," said Pippin. Ivy shook her head. Her husband didn't seem quite so enthusiastic now that his son knew what he was planning on doing.

"You can't go either," said Eoleof. She was pouting.

Pippin sighed. "She looks just like you when she pouts, Ivy. I can't turn that down."

Ivy just rolled her eyes at him and went back to the trunk for more blankets and pillows. "Do you want the couch or the floor?" she asked.

"The floor," he said. "And you can stay there with me?" He pouted.

"Are you sure Eoleof gets the pouting from me?"

Pippin grinned and took the blankets from her. He spread them out on the floor at the end of the bed and lay down. Ivy lay next to him and he cuddled close to her.

"I hope you appreciate I'm giving up a comfortable couch for you," she said.

"You must love me very much."

"Sometimes." She grinned at him, then kissed his pouting lip. "Most times, actually."

Pippin grinned back and gave her a squeeze. "And I'm much warmer than a couch."

"I'm not "warming you up" right now," she said, shaking her head.


Ivy woke to the sound of a quiet chuckle. She shifted in Pippin's embrace and opened her eyes. Pearl was standing over them, smiling down at them. "I see you got kicked out of bed last night," she said quietly.

Ivy nodded and sat up, stretching her back. Pippin mumbled in his sleep and reached out for her, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Are they all still sleeping?" Ivy asked.

Pearl smiled. "Like eight little puppies in a basket," she said.

"I'm not a puppy," a voice growled from the bed.

"All right, seven puppies and a grouchy tween in a basket," Pearl said with a wink.

Ivy nudged Pippin, who just mumbled some more and squeezed her tighter. She sighed and gave him a poke in the ribs, which startled him awake.

Pippin sat up, rubbing his eyes. "You're mean," he muttered to Ivy. He looked up at his sister. "G'morning, Pearl."

"I saw all the empty rooms and wondered where everyone got to," Pearl said, "and I found them all cozy in your bed." She cocked her head at Pippin. "You don't look like you had a very comfortable sleep, though."

Pippin rubbed his lower back. "Not really. We weren't allowed to go to a guest room and the floor isn't very soft."

Pearl snorted. "Well, if you'd like to sleep in a bit longer, I can take this lot to breakfast."

"That would be wonderful," Pippin said with a sigh. He got up, then pulled Ivy to her feet. They stretched sore joints before heading for the privy, leaving Pearl to get the children up. When they returned, Pearl was just getting the children herded out the door.

"Come along, dears," Pearl said, "We'll let your mum and dad have a bit more sleep."

Fari snorted. "And I think Dad needs to be warmed up." He grinned and darted out of the room.

"Dad sure gets cold a lot," Willow said to Eoleof as they left.

Ivy and Pearl both snickered at that. Pippin just turned a very bright shade of red.

Once the children were gone and the door was closed, and locked this time, Pippin grabbed Ivy's hand and pulled her over to the bed. He sat down, pulling her into his lap, and kissed her quite thoroughly.

"Mmmm," she said, "I don't think we're going to be catching up on sleep."

Pippin nuzzled her neck, his fingers quickly opening the buttons of her nightgown. "No," he said, slipping his hand inside the opened gown. "I'm not very tired," he said as he caressed her skin, "I'm feeling a bit cold, actually."

Ivy laughed and leaned over to whisper in his ear. "Well, I guess I need to warm you up then."

Author's Notes:

Fluffiness! If anyone's wondering (or doesn't want to do the math), the character's ages in July 1450 are: Ivy-30; Pippin-60; Fari-20; Bori-11; Willow-10; Ari-8; Eoleof-7; Legolas & Gimli-4; Estella-2. Now, let's hope I did the math right!

Story 3 is coming along. I have a (mostly) completed outline and I'm starting the first draft. Go me!