A Shire Romance (Part Thirty-one)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART THIRTY-ONE – THE WEDDING

The weeks passed like lightning, and the wedding drew ever closer. It took several days before Tamsyn and Perry could stand to be away from each other for more than a minute at a time, but they steadily got accustomed to each other’s presence again, even if their desire for each other did not lessen one whit. Perry only needed to give Tamsyn one smouldering look and she’d be ready to jump him, and he seemed determined to exploit this to the full. They stole quick kisses between the jobs they had to do in preparation for the wedding, or made quick, passionate love in unlikely places, such as the mathom room where Perry’s livery was stored. Their evenings in bed were spent exploring each other’s bodies in a more leisurely fashion.

Radagast woke up after three days, and left after a further three, declining all requests to stay for the wedding. He stated he preferred to keep his relative anonymity among hobbits, and did not want to disturb their wedding day with his unsettling height.

Perry and Sarry spent a lot of time in the training ground, sparring or teaching Frodo, until one day Tamsyn showed up in a pair of Izzy’s borrowed trousers and a shirt knotted tightly under her breasts for support.

“Teach me,” she said, picking up a wooden sword and turning to Perry. “I want to learn how to fight too.”

Perry stared at her in surprise. “Why would you want to?”

“Because it’s good exercise, and it looks like fun,” she replied with a grin. “Come on, teach me.”

“B…but I might hurt you!”

“So? You’ll just have to teach me how to avoid getting hurt.”

He still shook his head, a dubious look on his face, so she sighed and turned to Sarry. “You teach me then.”

Sarry laughed. “What, and have him kill me when I’m the one who hurts you? Not a chance.”

“You both seem rather intent on hurting me.” Tamsyn sniffed. “All I want is to learn how to fight. Come on, Perry, please?”

“Tam, I love you!” he said, throwing up his hands. “I couldn’t possibly attack you! Every time I’d land a hit it’d be as if I hit myself!”

“God, you’re hopeless, both of you,” Tamsyn muttered, then planted a fist on her hip and raised her chin at Perry. “I’ll fight you for it. No, not with those, I’ll fight you my way,” she added when he looked at his wooden practice sword in confusion.

Understanding dawned on his face and he backed away. “Oh no, sod that. You’d win, and you know it.”

“Exactly,” she said with a grin.

“Wait, what?” Sarry said, scratching his head. “Did I miss something here?”

Tamsyn looked at Perry. “Did you not tell him?”

“Tell me what?” Sarry asked, but Perry shook his head.

“I think I may have mentioned it in passing, but I, um, didn’t elaborate.”

Tamsyn’s grin widened. “Too embarrassed? How about this: for five minutes Sarry can try to catch me. If he does, I’ll go away. If he can’t, you both teach me how to fight with swords. And if I do get hurt…” She shrugged and smiled coyly. “Well, you’ll just have to kiss it better again.”

Perry’s face turned pensive for a moment, then he grinned. “Kiss it better, eh? Fine, it’s a deal. If Sarry is up for it, of course.”

They both turned to the auburn-haired hobbit, who still stared at them in abject confusion. “I’m sure I missed something here, but what you’re saying is that if I manage to catch her within five minutes, we won’t have to teach her how to swordfight?”

“Catch her and hold on to her,” Perry corrected him with a sly smile.

Sarry looked at Tamsyn and her disconcertingly wide grin, then shrugged. “Okay?”

“Good man,” Perry said, and turned to Tamsyn. “Don’t damage him too much, or I think Diamond might have something to say about it.”

“Oh, wait, wait, hang on, I remember now,” Sarry said, edging away from Tamsyn. “Didn’t you mention something about some kind of special thing she can do? Is it too late to back out of this?”

“Yes, it is,” Tamsyn and Perry said together, and Sarry sighed.

“Fine, let’s do this then. It can’t be that bad, you’re only a girl.” He lunged at her, and seemed taken by surprise when she didn’t run away or dodge, but instead caught his outstretched arm and used his momentum to casually flip him into the dirt.

“That, my friend, was the wrong thing to say,” she stated archly.

Sarry grunted and scrambled up, and for the next five minutes Perry watched with interest as his friend was flung to the ground seven successive times, never even getting close to catching hold of Tamsyn.

“He’s tenacious, I’ll give him that,” she remarked as he came at her again. “You gave up sooner than that, Perry.”

“I didn’t have a time limit to reach, my heart,” he replied. “Enough, leave him be. I’ll teach you.”

“As will I,” Sarry said, grinning from ear to ear as he leaned against the fence, wheezing. “On one condition.”

“Which is?”

“You teach me how you do that, because that was amazing.”

“And me,” Perry added.

Tamsyn grinned. “Deal.”

 o–o-o–o

On the morning of the wedding, Tamsyn awoke to find Perry with his head propped up on one arm, watching her with a smile on his face. “Good morning, my love, and happy birthday,” he said, stroking her cheek.

“Good morning,” she replied, kissing his palm. “Are you ready for today?”

Perry considered a moment, then pulled her into his arms. “Tamsyn, dearest, I am very much looking forward to having a big party today, but as far as I’m concerned it’s merely a formality. In my mind we got married the night you came to my bed, the night before you left. I already knew that I wanted you and no other, but that sealed it. Today will only make that official. It will make not one bit of difference in how I feel about you, or how I behave towards you.” He grinned. “I actually think it will make more of a difference to mother, because she won’t have to give us disapproving looks anymore for sharing the same bed.”

Tamsyn smiled and shook her head at him. “Only you could be romantic and unromantic at the same time. Don’t you know that a girl’s wedding day is supposed to be the best day of her life?”

“Mmm,” he said, pulling her closer and nuzzling her neck. “I can make sure it will be.” He trailed his hand down her side and Tamsyn shivered, then pulled back a little.

“Perry, the best day of my life was when I came back here and found that you still loved me,” she said. “The way it felt to be back in your arms after months of being alone… I can’t describe it.”

“I bet I can make you feel like that again,” Perry whispered, pushing her onto her back and running a trail of nibbling kisses from her collarbone to her breast. He stopped just as he reached her nipple and raised his head. “Do you want me to, Tam?”

“Always,” she breathed, and closed her eyes to enjoy the sensations he evoked in her.

Afterwards they snuggled into each other’s arms, and Perry ran his hand over her stomach in a slow, lazy caress. “I don’t think I will ever get enough of you,” he murmured. “I never thought it was possible to love someone as much as I love you.”

“Nor I,” Tamsyn replied. “You’re everything to me, Perry.” Then she sighed and pushed the covers away. “Come, we’d better start getting ready.”

They broke their fast in their dressing gowns, with Esme prattling around in nervous happiness. After that Tamsyn went away with Esme, Diamond and Donna, while Perry moved to a different part of the house with Faramir, Sarry and Paladin.

Tamsyn had discovered that hobbit wedding dresses were pastel rather than white, and had chosen a pale sky blue for hers. The bodice was decorated with dark blue ribbons, and blue fabric flowers trailed down the skirt in a spiral pattern. She had also learnt that it was traditional for hobbit women to wear their own wedding dress to other hobbit weddings, and that the bodice lacing allowed for expanding waistlines in maturity. Diamond’s dress was pale yellow, and Esme’s the delicate green of spring leaves. The distinctive style also made it easy to differentiate between married and unmarried women, since weddings were a favoured occasion for matchmaking or partner-finding.

Donna disappeared into the garden and returned with an armful of forget-me-nots, bluebells and white roses, which were twined into a wreath and set on Tamsyn’s head like a crown. They kept it in place with a few locks of her hair and some strategic hair pins, but the rest of her hair was left unbound.

Finally, after some last-minute fretting and fussing, Esme stepped back and clasped her hands together. “You look stunning, my dear,” she declared. “Perry will think you are beautiful.”

“He thinks that anyway, mother,” Diamond said, though she also nodded her approval. “But you do look stunning, Tam. Absolutely radiant.”

“That’s because I’m happier than I could possibly have imagined, Di,” Tamsyn said, giving her a hug. “I love your brother more than life itself.”

There was a knock on the door, followed by Sarry’s voice. “Are you ready yet? Only Perry is getting restless. He’s on his fifth sandwich by now, and if we don’t get moving he’s going to spill chutney all down his livery.”

Tamsyn and Diamond laughed, though Esme tutted. “We’re ready, my darling,” Diamond called back. “Go clean him up if you need to.” She arranged a last fold in Tamsyn’s skirt, then they all trooped out with Tamsyn at the back.

She caught a glimpse of Sarry dabbing at Perry’s face with a wet napkin, but then her love looked at her, and the rest of the world ceased to exist. She only saw his eyes at first, green and smoky, and so full of love that she thought she would burst. Then he smiled, and she managed to look at the rest of him. He was wearing his livery; the silvery, slippery shirt and the black velvet tabard with the embroidered white tree, together with matching black trousers, and to Tamsyn he looked breathtaking.

She didn’t even realise that she had walked up to him until he took her hands and pulled her close, kissing her fingers as his gaze roved over her body, her face and the wreath in her hair.

“You have never been more beautiful than you look right now,” he whispered, and kissed her.

After a few moments Sarry cleared his throat. “There will be time for that later, you know,” he said. “Right now we have about two hundred and fifty hobbits waiting for us, and the food is getting cold.”

They laughed, and then Perry took her hand and led her out of the house and to the big field a few streets away, where the wedding would be held. Since hobbits did not have any real religion the wedding would be more of a handfasting, and it would be conducted by Faramir, who was the highest authority in Tuckborough. He wore his own livery for the occasion, and looked as content as a hobbit possibly could.

Tamsyn walked past the assembled hobbits, clinging to Perry’s hand, and they stopped in the middle of a rough circle which had been left open for them. Faramir turned to face them, and when someone handed him a pint of ale Tamsyn realised that this would be quite an informal affair. It made her feel a lot less nervous.

“My dear Tooks, Brandybucks, Bracegirdles and Bagginses,” Faramir began, and Tamsyn had to bite her lip not to laugh, for she felt like she was at Bilbo’s birthday party.

Faramir continued. “Boffins, Bolgers, Chubbs, Proudfeet and anyone else I might have forgotten, I welcome you all to the marriage, at last, of my eldest son.”

There were a few chuckles as Faramir paused for a swig of ale, but then he motioned for Perry and Tamsyn to face each other, and Tamsyn knew that the formal part of the ceremony was at hand. She smiled and looked into Perry’s eyes, seeing her own smile mirrored on his face.

“Peregrin Took, seventeenth of that name, son of Faramir Took, twelfth of that name, son of Adalgrim Took, fourth of that name,” Faramir intoned. “You are here to pledge your life and love to this woman. Will you love her and provide for her?”

“I will, now and forever,” Perry replied, his voice ringing across the field for all hobbits to hear.

Faramir nodded and turned to Tamsyn. “Tamsyn Moriarty, daughter of Padraig and Iris Moriarty, you are here to pledge your life and love to this man. Will you love him and care for him?”

“I will, now and forever,” Tamsyn replied, her voice as confident as Perry’s had been.

“Who stands witness for Peregrin?”

“I do,” Sarry replied, stepping forward. “I have seen their love and it is true.”

“And who stands witness for Tamsyn?”

“I do,” Diamond replied, moving next to her husband. “I have seen their love and it will last.”

“Then I have the authority to declare you husband and wife,” Faramir said with unmistakable, smug pride. He took another swig of ale and added, as an afterthought, “You may kiss each other.”

They did, and in the hush that fell there were a few wistful sighs. The silence stretched and stretched, until Dongo Baggins suddenly called, “Treebeard’s Roots, Perry, let her breathe!”

The entire congregation dissolved into laughter, and it was the signal everyone had been waiting for. A great cheer went up and people started throwing flower petals at Perry and Tamsyn. Somewhere in the back a whistle began a dancing tune, soon joined by a fiddle and a drum, and Perry picked Tamsyn up and twirled her around until they were both dizzy and nearly fell to the ground.

It was a party like only hobbits could organise. There were mountains of food, casks of ale so big that Tamsyn wondered how on earth they managed to transport them, and among it everyone laughed and talked and danced and ate like there was no tomorrow. She was asked to dance by many young hobbits, some of whom she knew and some of whom she didn’t, but she was gloriously happy and would even have danced with Colman Chubb, had he asked her.

After a dance with Sarry he deposited her back into Perry’s embrace with a neat twirl, and Perry’s arms locked around her like a vice. “Now you stay with me,” he said, sitting down and pulling her onto his lap. “I’ve had enough of you dancing with other men.”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous?” she said, raising an eyebrow. “You know there is no need, my love.”

“I’m not,” he replied with a grin. “I’ve just had enough of you being over there when I want you right here.” He nuzzled her neck and kissed her jaw, and Tamsyn snuggled closer.

“It looks like we might have another wedding soon,” she said, nodding over to the side.

“Hmm?” Perry followed her gaze and saw Donna and Tommy, holding hands and kissing each other. “Oh, wow, I’m impressed, it only took them six months. The way those two are, I figured it’d take them three years before one of them plucked up the courage. Who do you think started it?”

“Donna,” Tamsyn said without hesitation. “She’s got quite decisive recently, plus I think we’ve been teaching her a few things these past weeks.”

“Have we now? Do tell,” Perry said, kissing her jaw again. Then he stopped. “Wait, you don’t mean she’s seen us when…”

Tamsyn chuckled. “She may have. I was sure I heard someone that one time we did it in the pantry.”

He swallowed, staring at her, then shook his head and shrugged. “Well, let’s hope she learned something. I suppose it means it won’t take five years for them to have any children. Speaking of which…” He moved his hand to stroke her stomach. “Do you think we might find a quiet spot somewhere? We still need to keep trying for that son.”

She hugged him and brought her mouth beside his ear. “I don’t think that will be necessary,” she whispered, and licked his earlobe.

Perry went very still. “Tam, you mean… What?”

She pulled back and gave him her widest smile. “I’m pregnant, Perry.”

He stared at her, then looked down at her stomach as if he expected to see a difference already. “Are you sure?”

“Well, not completely,” she admitted. “But I’m two weeks overdue, and normally I’m very regular. Plus my breasts are starting to feel a little sore.”

Perry’s hand, which had been resting on one of them, jerked away as if it were on fire, and he stared at her in consternation.

Tamsyn grabbed his head and kissed him, then gave him a stern look. “Peregrin Took, if you now start treating me as if I’m made of porcelain I’m going to give you such a kicking!” she threatened. “You won’t see or feel anything yet for weeks, and even then I’ll be fine!” She kissed him again and pulled him close, and after a few moments he slid his arms around her and pulled her tight.

“That’s better,” she murmured, and Perry placed a hand on her belly.

“You’re carrying our son,” he said in wonder.

“It could be a daughter, you know,” Tamsyn muttered, placing her hand on top of his.

He laughed and shook his head. “Tam, for over forty generations the eldest Took has always been a son, ever since Faramir the First. I don’t know if it’s magic, and we may have nothing but daughters after that, but our eldest will be a son, take it from me.”

“Really?” She looked down at her stomach again, then shrugged. “Whatever, it’s yours and I’ll love it. And it means we won’t have to try for a child again.”

He gave her such a crestfallen look that she laughed out loud. “Oh, Perry, you’re so easy to wind up sometimes!” Then she snuggled close and whispered, “We may not have to try for our first child anymore, but I think we’ll need lots and lots of practice for our second one.”

His smile was as sudden and as bright as a sunrise over the hill. “Have I told you lately that you’re amazing?” he murmured. “I love you, Tamsyn.”

“And I love you, Perry,” she replied from the bottom of her heart. “Now and forever.”

o–o-o–o

The end? Not quite! Come back one more time for the Epilogue!

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.

Advertisements

A Shire Romance (Part Thirty)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART THIRTY – WELCOME BACK

When Tamsyn and Perry walked into the kitchen, hands clasped tightly, it contained not just Esme, Sarry and Diamond, but also Faramir, who looked uncommonly shaky when he stood up.

“Tamsyn,” he said. “They said you were here, but I could barely believe it. Are you… are you here to stay now?” He looked from her to Perry, taking in his son’s glow of intense, utter joy, and breathed a sigh of relief before Tamsyn could even answer.

She reassured him anyway. “Yes, Faramir, I’m here to stay,” she said, walking up to him to give him a hug, though she did not let go of Perry’s hand.

“That’s the best news I’ve had this year,” he said, regaining his calm. “Come, my dear, sit down and talk to us. We’ve missed you like a daughter.”

“You’ve never told me you missed me, father,” Diamond said with a mischievous grin.

“That’s because you were the bane of his life, sister dear,” Perry retorted with a wink.

“This, coming from you!” Sarry joined in. “Come on, give us some proper introductions. Where are your manners?”

Perry smiled. “Tamsyn, dearest, this is Saradoc Brandybuck the Seventh, eldest son of Master Meriadoc the Fifteenth of Buckland and destined to be Master after him, Eä help them. And this is my eldest sister Diamond, Sarry’s wife, and their son Theoden. Sarry, Diamond, this is Tamsyn Moriarty, the love of my life and my wife in all but name.”

The significance of what he said appeared to be lost only on Esme, who was too busy wiping away tears to have listened closely. Faramir’s eyes widened, but then he looked at the way the two lovers still clung to each other, and gave an almost imperceptible nod. Sarry’s grin showed emphatic approval, and Diamond gave Tamsyn a slow wink, bouncing her son in her arms.

“I’m glad to finally meet you,” Tamsyn said. “I have always regretted that I didn’t get the chance to meet you last time I was here.”

“We will get you to make up for that,” Diamond said. “Hopefully Perry will be better company as well now, he’s been insufferable without you.”

“He’s always been insufferable,” Sarry said with a snort, and deftly caught the apple that Perry aimed at his head.

“Git,” Perry said with a grin. “Mother, is there anything to eat? I’m hungry.”

Everyone at the table froze for a second, and Tamsyn got a lump in her throat. “Let me guess, he’s not said that since I left? I know the feeling. I’ve not been hungry either, but now that I’m here I find that I’m famished.” She looked into Perry’s eyes, seeing the understanding that it was not just food she was talking about, and for a few moments they forgot there was anyone else in the room when they kissed each other.

They were interrupted when Esme placed a big bowl of stew in front of both of them, and Tamsyn blushed as she picked up her fork and started to eat.

“So, when shall we have the wedding then?” Faramir asked.

Tamsyn looked at Perry. “Tomorrow?” he suggested, and she laughed and nearly choked on her stew.

“Certainly not!” Esme huffed. “You’re the eldest son of the Thain! We’ll have to invite half the Shire, and Tamsyn doesn’t even have a dress yet! Diamond, you’ll help me with that, won’t you? Your fingers are defter than mine, and my eyes aren’t what they used to be.”

“Gladly,” Diamond said. “That is, if you want me to, Tamsyn?”

“I would love for you to help,” Tamsyn said. “I’m afraid I know little to nothing of hobbit weddings, so I’m entirely at your mercy.”

“Good, that’s settled then,” Esme said. “But that still doesn’t give us a date.”

“What about Mid-Year’s Day?” Sarry suggested. “That’s always a good day for a party.”

“That’s my birthday,” Tamsyn said, who had worked it out on the hobbit calendar. “I think… I think marrying Perry would be the best birthday present I have ever had.”

“Tamsyn, if I may be so bold… How old will you be on your birthday?” Faramir asked.

“I will be twenty-eight. But humans in my world are considered to be adults at eighteen. I’m not sure what my hobbit age would be; from what I have observed with your children the difference isn’t entirely linear, but I think I’m very close to Perry’s age, maybe even a little older.”

“You don’t look it,” Diamond said. “You could easily pass for a twenty-eight-year-old hobbit girl.”

“Then how about we stick to what I claimed before, and I’ll turn thirty-three on my birthday? That would explain why we’ve waited until then, when my beloved would clearly have wanted to settle down sooner.”

Faramir nodded. “That works. We’ll start preparations for that.”

“Right,” Perry said, pushing his empty bowl away. “If that’s sorted, I will take my wife and find her something decent to wear rather than that sorry excuse for a dress.” He stood up and Tamsyn followed, and they made it halfway through the kitchen before Esme found her voice.

“Peregrin! What do you think you’re doing?”

He turned around, resting his hands on Tamsyn’s shoulders. “I just said. I’m going to take this rag off her and find her something decent to wear.”

“But… but let me prepare a room for her first,” Esme spluttered. “She can’t stay in Diamond’s room this time, now that Diamond is here.”

Perry sighed. “Mother, she is staying in my room.” He sounded exasperated, but there was also an edge to his voice that told Tamsyn he wouldn’t budge on this. She leaned against him, and he slid his arms around her waist.

“She… You… What?” Esme stammered. “She can’t, Peregrin!”

“Can’t she?” he asked. “Mother, for seven months I have tried to sleep in that room, knowing that I had lost her forever. Today she has given me my life back. Do you really think I’ll let her be apart from me for even a moment now that she’s back with me again?”

Esme stared at him, still in shock, then her eyes turned pleading when she looked at Tamsyn, who smiled but shook her head. “Don’t look at me, Esme. Didn’t I tell you whose side I would always take in an argument?”

The stalemate lasted for a few more seconds, then the tension was broken when Diamond laughed. “Oh, mother, stop being so prim and proper. It’s not like Sarry and I didn’t do the same thing.”

Esme turned incredulous eyes on her daughter as Sarry walked up and put his arm around her. “Come on, did you really think that Theo was born early?” Diamond continued. “If anything, he was late. Weren’t you, little one?”

“F…Faramir, say something!” Esme said in a last resort effort.

“Very well.” Faramir sighed and turned to Perry. “Son, go find your wife a decent dress to wear and take that extra nightstand with the pitcher and bowl from Tulia’s room. I’m sure Tamsyn would prefer to have her own clean water in the morning rather than using your dirty dregs.” Esme started to splutter again, but Faramir raised his hand. “Enough, Esme. They need each other, and that’s the end of it.”

“Come, let’s leave them to it,” Perry whispered in Tamsyn’s ear, and she followed him while Faramir continued to placate his wife.

“I’ll go get that chest out of Diamond’s room,” Perry said as they walked down the corridor. “Just wait in my room.” He gave her a gentle push and smiled as she went inside. The door clicked closed behind her, and even those few moments without him felt like a loss to her.

In an impulse she pulled her shift over her head and dropped it to the floor, kicking it aside. There was a bumping noise as the door opened again and Perry came in, dragging the heavy wooden chest with him, and while he moved it to the foot of the bed, next to his own clothes chest, Tamsyn closed the door again.

Perry turned at the click of the lock, and Tamsyn dragged her fingers through her hair, spreading it like a curtain before letting it fall back to her naked body. Perry gazed at her as if hypnotised, his eyes changing from loving to lustful. With a quick motion he pulled off his shirt and tossed it away, then shrugged off his trousers and underwear so he stood before her in glorious nakedness.

For a few seconds Tamsyn feasted her eyes on him, then she closed the distance between them, pushed him until he sat down on the bed and straddled him. He pulled her close and shivered when her hair brushed his skin as she bent to kiss him.

“How can I want you again?” he wondered. “You’ve satisfied me twice already… Is this normal?”

Tamsyn chuckled. “I have a feeling that for us, it will be.” With that she started moving her hips, and there was no further talk.

 o–o-o–o

The rest of the day Tamsyn spent talking to Sarry and Diamond, who were everything she had expected them to be. Sarry was as mischievous as Perry, even if he had been tempered somewhat by fatherhood, and Diamond was a confident, self-assured woman who was obviously fond of her eldest brother and did not hesitate to take his side against their parents. She and Sarry were very much in love, and when Tamsyn held their little boy she felt her motherly instincts soar. She fervently hoped she would have a child of her own to cradle soon.

They went to bed early; emotional turmoil as well as prolonged lack of sleep had finally caught up to them, and their mutual presence was enough to let them both fall asleep within seconds.

It was the middle of the night when Tamsyn awoke with a shock. Groggily she took stock of her environment, wondering what had woken her, but then she heard a strangled cry of distress from Perry and realised he was having a nightmare.

“Tamsyn!” he called, and she wrapped her arms around him.

“Hush, Perry, hush,” she crooned, cradling him close. “I’m here. I’ll always be here.”

He woke up then, and when he found himself in her arms he started caressing her feverishly, stroking her breasts as he kissed her hard. She sensed that what he needed right then was the comfort of her body, so she rolled over and pulled him on top of her, spreading her legs to invite him into her. She gasped when he complied, then lost herself in his lovemaking until they both tipped over into bliss.

Afterwards he remained on top of her as they caught their breath, and she ran her fingers along his back in long, lazy strokes, waiting for him to calm down. His heart was racing, and it took a while before it steadied and he raised his head.

“I thought you’d gone again,” he said. “I thought I was alone again. I’ve had this nightmare almost every night since you left, only to wake and find it the truth.”

“Not this night, my love,” Tamsyn said. “Nor any night from now on. I’m yours, I’m here.”

“I love you so,” he whispered, stroking her face. “Thank you so much for coming back to me.”

“Anything for you, my love.” She rolled him off her and nestled herself in the crook of his arm. “Go on, go back to sleep. Don’t fear your nightmares, I’m here to guard against them.”

He squeezed her tight for a moment, then relaxed, and within seconds his breathing evened into sleep. Tamsyn followed soon after, falling asleep to the steady beat of his heart in her ear.

o–o-o–o

What will the wedding be like? Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.

A Shire Romance (Part Twenty-nine)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART TWENTY-NINE – REUNION

Tamsyn was even further out of breath before she was even halfway up the hill, but she pushed on, craning her neck to try and catch a glimpse of Perry. He had chosen to face away from the path though, and only when she finally got to the top could she see someone leaning with his back against the trunk. This was a different hobbit, though, with the same bright auburn hair as Diamond’s baby, and she guessed that this was Sarry Brandybuck.

He noticed her and stared at her in surprise while she caught her breath, but then recognition flashed in his eyes and he gave her a wide smile.

“Perry, I think there’s someone here to see you,” he said, turning to the person beside him, who had been hidden until then.

Tamsyn held her breath, clasping at the fabric of her shift with her hands. Perry leaned forward to look at her, his face a mask of bland disinterest, but as soon as he saw her, his eyes went wide and he jerked upright in shock.

“Hello, Perry,” Tamsyn said, not knowing what else to say. “I’m back.”

He gave a strangled sob and made as if to get up, then hesitated. “For how long?” he asked, his voice a barely audible squeak, and she could see the fear in his eyes, the dread that she would go away and leave him alone again.

“Forever, Perry,” she replied, clearing her throat when her voice broke on his name. “I’m here to marry you, to bear your children, to never leave you for the rest of my life. If… if you’ll still have me.”

He moved with that lightning speed she remembered; one moment he was staring at her in disbelief, the next she was in his arms with his face buried in her hair as she clung to him. “Tam,” he whispered. “It’s really you. Oh, Eä, it’s really you. Yes, of course I’ll still have you, how could you think otherwise?”

She didn’t reply, just threaded her fingers into his hair and kissed him, sinking into the feel of him like a starving person tasting their first meal in weeks. His body was solid and real against hers, the flavour of him was better than honey, and his scent almost overwhelmed her: still smoky, but fresher now, as if his smell mirrored the seasons. She never wanted to let go, and it seemed an eternity later when he drew away a little.

“When did you get back?” he whispered, cradling her face in his hands.

“Just now. I came here as soon as I could, and I left… Oh! I left Radagast in the forest! I couldn’t carry him.”

Perry looked over her shoulder, and behind her Sarry chuckled. “No problem, I’ll go sort a rescue party. You two want to be alone anyway, just introduce us later.”

As Sarry trotted away Perry turned his gaze back on Tamsyn, and she nearly drowned in his deep green eyes as she reacquainted herself with the little black flecks on the irises. He smiled at her, and it warmed her like the sun on a bright summer day.

“I love you,” she breathed, and he kissed her again, pulling her back against him.

“I’ve missed you so,” he murmured. “The past months have been a nightmare. I can’t live without you, Tam. Please, don’t ever leave me again.”

“Never,” she promised him, and he lifted her up and twirled her around in a sudden burst of exuberance.

As he set her back on her feet his smile turned sly, and he rubbed the cloth of her shift between his fingers. “This looks a lot like what you were wearing the first time you arrived here,” he said, the look in his eyes now smouldering.

“It does, doesn’t it?” she replied, giving him a sultry look of her own.

“Hmm, and I remember one specific aspect of that travel-wear. Is that still the case?”

“No underwear, you mean? Yes, that is still the case.”

His breath caught and his grip tightened, and suddenly Tamsyn couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. “Every night, Tam,” he whispered as he slowly pulled the fabric upwards. “Every night since you left I have tried to recall what it felt like. The feel of your skin under my hands, the sensation of being inside you…” His hands reached the hem and closed around her naked buttocks, and he took a deep, shuddering breath as he pulled her against him. “…And I couldn’t. I tried to remember the look on your face, and it was nothing but a blur. I tried to remember your voice, and it was as elusive as a breath on the wind. Oh, Eä, I’ve missed you so!” His voice broke and she hugged him tightly.

“I’ve missed you too, Perry,” she murmured, pulling him with her as she lowered herself to the ground. “I’ve missed you more than I could ever tell you, so let me show you instead.” She untied the drawstrings of his trousers and slipped her hand inside, and Perry moaned when she closed it around his rigid shaft. He closed his mouth over hers again and slid his hand up along her leg, then pushed two fingers inside her when he found her moist and willing.

“I’ve dreamed of this,” he breathed when she pulled his trousers down and led him towards her. “I’ve wished for it so many times…”

“This isn’t a dream, my love,” she said, lifting her hips as he entered her and closing her eyes at the feeling. “This is real. I’m here for you, always.”

He moaned again as he sank into her, and Tamsyn wrapped her legs around his and clasped him to her tightly. She shifted her hips, and with a groan Perry started thrusting, slowly at first, but soon his movements were fast and frantic as six months of pent up desire rushed towards release. Tamsyn met his every stroke, just as desperate as he was, and before he could even think of helping her along she suddenly opened her eyes wide and grabbed his hips to yank him even closer.

“Perry…” was all she managed to bring out, then she shivered and arched, her sheath tightening around him as she writhed in her orgasm. He gave two more thrusts, then cried out his own release.

Tamsyn clung to him as they caught their breath, unwilling to let go. “I’ve missed you so much,” she said in his ear. “The nights were cold, and lonely… I’ve barely slept since I left you.”

“Never again, Tam,” he replied. “I’m never letting you go again.” He brushed her hair away from her face, and she noticed a slim black cord around his wrist, recognising it as the lock of hair she had left behind for him.

He followed her gaze and smiled. “You have no idea how much it meant to me to have that. The first night without you I could almost imagine that you were still there. The bed still smelled of you.” He sighed. “And then mother changed the sheets.”

He sounded so sullen that Tamsyn chuckled. “Shush,” he chided her, kissing her until she was serious again. “You may find it funny now, but I wanted to shout at her. Except I couldn’t, because I couldn’t have explained to her why. So instead I tied this around my wrist, and every time I thought of you I could smell it.”

He took a handful of her hair and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply. “Your hair smells so wonderful… I still can’t describe the scent, but it lingered in this. I have no idea how I kept going without you, but this helped. Eä, it helped so much…”

Tamsyn gave him a sad smile. “I had nothing. Nothing but my memories of you.” She trailed her fingers down his collarbone. “For a few days I thought, hoped that I might be pregnant…” She swallowed and fisted her hand into his shirt.

“But you weren’t?”

She shook her head. “It destroyed my last hope of having something to remember you by.”

“You could be pregnant now,” Perry whispered, kissing her jaw.

Tamsyn looked at him, then grinned. “I hope not.”

“What? Why?”

“Because, my love, that means we’ll have to try again.” She kissed him. “And again…” Another kiss. “And again…”

A slow smile curled around his mouth. “A convincing argument, my heart. I suppose it will take some effort, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.” He kissed her jaw again, then trailed his tongue to her earlobe. “How about we try again right now?”

In response she shifted underneath him until she could feel his erection, then pulled him back inside her. They made love again, more slowly this time, even if there was still an edge of insatiable hunger there, a remnant of desire too long denied.

When they had satisfied each other again they finally felt ready to face Perry’s family, and they stood up and righted their clothes. Perry winced when he saw the twigs and beechnut shells that stuck to Tamsyn’s skin and were tangled in her hair, and began to brush her clean. “I’m sorry, Tam. I should have realised how uncomfortable that was for you.”

Tamsyn laughed and kissed him. “Uncomfortable? Perry, I could have been on a bed of nails and I wouldn’t have felt it. I’ve had to do without you for months; do you really think I’m going to worry about a few twigs?”

“Okay, but still.” He brushed her cheek, then continued removing the debris. As he did so, Tamsyn studied him more closely. He was still the handsome man she remembered, but she now noticed the dark circles under his eyes and the hollowness of his cheeks.

“Your mother said I looked as bad as you do,” she said. “I can see what she means now.”

“You’re pale,” he replied, cupping her face in his hand. “Your hair has lost its sheen. But you’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“You’re still handsome too, my love, and we’ll get better now,” Tamsyn said around the lump in her throat. “God, I’ve missed you…” They hugged each other tightly for a moment, then Perry turned and pulled her with him.

“What does everyone know about me?” Tamsyn asked as they walked down the hill. “I only asked Radagast to explain to your father.”

“He did, and then father explained it all to mother. She wouldn’t believe it at first, wouldn’t believe that you’d never come back. I think in the end it was I who convinced her, when I wouldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep. I’ve been… difficult to live with, I think. I owe mother an apology.” He sighed. “She invited Sarry and Diamond over in the hope that they could snap me out of my apathy.”

“And do they know the truth?”

“Yes. Sarry is my best friend, we’ve never had secrets from each other. It’s been really good to talk to him about you.” He grinned at her. “He’ll be thrilled to finally meet you, I’ve not talked about anything else since he got here.”

Tamsyn rubbed his arm. “I wish you could have met Andy. He did the same for me, he listened, helped me with everything so I could come back here.”

“Then he has my eternal gratitude. But I guess you’ll never see him again? I’m so sorry, Tam.”

She stopped and faced him. “Don’t be. I’ll miss him, yes, but being with you is worth everything. I can’t live without you, and I don’t know why I ever even thought I could. I’ve given up everything for you, and I know I’ll never regret it for as long as I live.”

He pulled her into his arms. “I would have done the same for you, Tam. You know that, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. But this way is better. I feel at home here, with you and your family. You would never have been happy in my world. I don’t think I ever really was, even before I met you. Here, I am home.”

She kissed him, and they continued their walk to Great Smials.

o–o-o–o

What will Perry’s family have to say? Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.

A Shire Romance (Part Eight)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART EIGHT – JUDO

Tamsyn woke up because someone was politely but persistently tugging at her sleeve, and opened her eyes to the sight of angelic little Adalgrim watching her with intent, serious eyes. As soon as he saw that she was awake he let go, and she smiled at him.

“Good morning, Adda.”

“Good morning, Tamsyn,” the boy replied. “Uncle Perry sent me to wake you up.”

Tamsyn stretched, then sent an inquisitive look at the child as she swung her legs out of the bed. “Did he? Well, I’m awake now, thank you Adda.”

He didn’t move. “Uncle Perry said to come have breakfast before it’s all gone.”

“Thank you, Adda, I will,” she replied.

The boy still didn’t budge, but glanced at the door before screwing up his face in concentration. “Uncle Perry also said you should wear something… something green or brown, ‘cause you’ll need to hide today.” He beamed at her, and she patted him on the head, looking at the door. It was open a crack, just wide enough to let the child through, and a suspicion began to form.

“Well remembered, Adda,” she praised the boy, then gently pushed him ahead of her as she walked to the door. “Go on, tell Uncle Perry that I’ll be there shortly,” she said, ushering him through the gap. Then she raised her voice a little and said, “Tell him I can’t come straight away, because I’m not dressed yet.”

She realised that it hadn’t been necessary to raise her voice when she heard a sigh. “Tease,” Perry muttered, his voice coming from right beside the doorframe.

Tamsyn sniggered, but waved at Adda. “Off you go.”

He looked at her, then at where Perry stood, just out of sight. “Did I do okay, Uncle Perry?” he asked innocently.

Another sigh, then Perry’s resigned voice. “Yes, Adda, you did very well.”

Adda finally scampered off, and Tamsyn caught a glimpse of Perry’s face before she shut the door, laughing at him from behind it.

The chest of clothes had been moved to her room sometime the day before, and after some rummaging she found a dark green dress with brown ribbons which she thought would suit Perry’s purposes, whatever they were. She also found a few loose ribbons in the bottom, which she used to tie her hair into two braids.

When she appeared in the kitchen ten minutes later, Izzy and Donna were just leaving the table, Frodo was mid-breakfast and Perry was lingering over his plate, which held the remnants of eggs, bacon and sausages. His face lit up when he saw her, and he nodded in approval at her choice of dress.

“Good morning, my dear,” Esme greeted her. “Full breakfast?”

“Yes please,” Tamsyn replied, suddenly aware of how hungry she was, then wondering whether that was her hobbit body asserting itself. She had never really needed to watch what she ate, but had no idea whether that would be the same in her current body. Still, with any luck she wouldn’t be in the Shire long enough to find out.

Then she looked at Perry again, and found that the thought didn’t actually cheer her up.

Esme placed an enormous plate full of eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms and fried bread in front of Tamsyn, and while she tucked in Perry asked, “Do you need me for anything today, mother?”

“I don’t think so, why?”

“I thought I’d show Tamsyn around today, since she’s never been in Tuckborough,” he replied nonchalantly.

“You’ve never shown any other girls around before,” Frodo remarked.

“That’s because they live in Tuckborough, dummy,” Perry retorted, then ducked out of the way of the wooden spoon Esme aimed at him.

“Don’t call your brother a dummy, Peregrin,” she said sternly.

Frodo sniffed and grinned at his brother. “Takes one to know one. Ow!”

Tamsyn bit back a laugh – Frodo obviously did not yet have the reflexes to avoid his mother’s kitchen tools. Then she said, “We should check up on Radagast first though.”

Perry shook his head. “I already did. It still doesn’t look like he’s been awake yet. We put some water and food by his bed, and it’s untouched.”

“Oh,” Tamsyn said, crestfallen.

Perry put his hand on hers. “Don’t worry, Tam, he’ll be fine. He’s a wizard, remember? They’re tougher than they look.”

She gave him a watery smile and nodded, and he patted her hand before drawing it away again with clear reluctance. Tamsyn finished her breakfast, though her appetite had all but disappeared.

Once she was done she went to fetch the green shawl she’d seen in her clothes chest, and joined Perry where he was waiting by the front door. He was wearing nut-brown trousers, a light brown shirt and a dark green jacket, and Tamsyn was getting more curious by the minute about what he had in mind.

There was another matter she had to settle first, though. Once they were out on the path she said, “I’ve been given to understand that you’re devious and a troublemaker, but I would have thought it below even you to use a three-year-old in your dastardly ploys.”

Perry smirked. “I’d have woken you up myself, but mother would have had a fit, and I couldn’t find anyone else to do it. Besides, I thought anyone but Adda might startle the life out of you.”

“Ahh, so you were being considerate?”

“Considerate is my middle name.”

She chuckled. “Of course. So, what are we hiding from today then?”

Perry didn’t answer. He had stopped in the middle of the path and held up his hand in a gesture to quieten her, his eyes fixed straight ahead. Tamsyn looked at him in confusion, but then he said loudly, “I know you’re there, Frodo. Come out where I can see you.”

A few seconds of suspicious silence followed, then the bushes ahead of them rustled and Frodo stepped out, looking chagrined. “How do you always know where I am?” he asked sullenly.

Perry said nothing, just smirked. Tamsyn flicked her gaze from him to his little brother, then decided he looked far too smug. “He didn’t, Frodo.”

Both gave her a surprised look, and Frodo said, “Eh?”

She grinned at him. “He doesn’t need to know where you are if you step out like a guilty boy whenever he tells you to. If you hadn’t come out, he’d have assumed you weren’t there and moved on.”

Sudden understanding dawned on Frodo’s face, and Perry gave her an exasperated look. “Three years I’ve managed to catch him out with that trick, and now you’ve given it away!” he sulked. “I thought he’d never figure it out.”

Tamsyn gave him an unapologetic grin. “That’s because he doesn’t have your devious streak yet. He’s still young and innocent.”

Frodo, clearly unhappy with being talked about rather than talked at, shoved his hands into his pockets and said, “Where are you going anyway? Tuckborough is that way.” He nodded to behind them, where they had come from, then lifted his chin defiantly.

“What, you want me to tell you so you can go and tell mother?” Perry said. “Not a chance. Go home, Frodo.”

“I don’t snitch on you!” Frodo said, straightening with affront.

Perry sighed. “No, you don’t, I know. Sorry. But,” he added, raising a finger, “mother still always finds out, even if you don’t mean for her to. So just go home, okay?”

Frodo stuck out his bottom lip, then looked at Tamsyn. “He’s going to get you into trouble, you know.”

Tamsyn smiled. “I can take care of myself, Frodo, don’t worry. And of him too, if I need to,” she added, cocking a thumb at Perry.

He looked from her to Perry, grinning at the idea of his big brother being looked after by a girl, then sobered again. “But what if you get caught?”

Tamsyn raised an eyebrow at Perry. “My, you really do have an… interesting reputation, don’t you?” she said with a half-smile, before turning back to Frodo. “I won’t get caught, but even if I do, they won’t be able to hold on to me,” she confided.

“Really? How?”

She considered a moment, then said, “I could show you, but I might hurt you.”

Frodo bit his lip in indecision, but before he could say anything, Perry spoke: “Use me.”

“What?” Tamsyn said.

“Show him, but use me. I doubt you could hurt me.” He looked her over, clearly dismissing her as a threat, and Tamsyn gave him a wicked grin.

“Fine,” she said, dropping her shawl on the ground. “Try and catch me.” She sprinted off, and Perry dashed after her. It only took a few seconds before he had caught her by the arm, but his cry of victory was cut short when Tamsyn suddenly stopped, turned her back on him and, using his momentum, casually flipped him over her shoulder. He landed on his back in the grass with a painful huff, and lay there for a few seconds with a look of extreme bafflement on his face. Tamsyn stood above him for a moment with a satisfied smile, then held out a hand to help him up.

As soon as he was back on his own two feet she danced out of reach, then stopped. “Try again.” She didn’t move, and this time Perry approached her more warily. He feinted, and her grin widened. “Come on then,” she taunted, and he lunged at her.

Again she used his own momentum against him, placing a foot in his stomach and rolling over backwards. For the second time Perry found himself on his back in the grass with the wind knocked out of him, and Frodo laughed in delight.

“Right, now I’m going to get serious,” Perry growled, getting up again. Tamsyn took one look at his face and ran off, giggling. He pursued her, and this time when he caught her arm and slowed her down he immediately transferred his grip to one of her braids. She stopped and he grabbed the other one too, reeling her in until he was holding her shoulders, her face inches from his own.

Now I’ve got you,” he said with a triumphant smile, which wavered when she returned it with a knowing one of her own.

“What do you think, Frodo, has he got me?” she asked.

“No!” Frodo crowed. “Knock him over again!”

Perry tightened his grip, his palms suddenly sweaty, and gave Tamsyn a panicky look. “No way,” he said. “You can’t possibly… Not this time.”

“You think?” she said, then twisted, stuck her right leg behind his knees and yanked his legs out from underneath him. She fell with him, his hands still on her shoulders, and this time he ended on his back with her elbow almost touching his windpipe. He stared at her with wide eyes, and she beamed at him. All her judo lessons hadn’t been for nothing, after all.

“Do you yield?” she asked.

“Yes,” Perry croaked, and she let go, standing up and dusting herself off casually.

“And that, Frodo, is why they won’t catch me,” she said.

“That was amazing!” Frodo said, still bouncing. “How did you do that? Can I learn that?”

“Yes, you could, but it takes a long time and a lot of practice.”

His face fell. “Oh.”

Perry stood up with a groan, wincing as he straightened his back. “Right, that’s enough. Frodo, now you know we’ll be fine, so you can go home again. Bye.”

Frodo pouted. “Can’t I come with you?”

“No.”

“I’ll be quiet!”

“No.”

“Aww, pleeeeease!”

“Frodo, Perry and I would like to talk alone,” Tamsyn interrupted them, bending closer to the boy. “You can help us by telling anyone who asks that we’ve gone that way.” She pointed back to where they had come from. “It’ll be our secret. Will you do that for us?”

He thought for a moment, torn between following his big brother and doing something important and secret, then his sense of adventure took over. “Okay, I’ll tell anyone who asks that I saw you go towards the Green Hills.”

“Brilliant, I owe you one,” Tamsyn said, ruffling his hair.

He looked at her for a second, then blurted out, “When I grow up I want a girlfriend like you,” and dashed away down the path.

o–o-o–o

So, what are Perry and Tamsyn hiding from? Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.

A Shire Romance (Part Seven)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART SEVEN – DINNER AND ROSES

“You sit over there, dear.” Esme pointed to the corner of the table. “Next to my husband and opposite Peregrin.”

Tamsyn nodded and sat down, curious but a little apprehensive about meeting Perry’s father. She hoped he wasn’t a severe, ponderous, officious hobbit, worn down by his duties.

She needn’t have worried. It turned out that in appearance, Perry was the spitting image of his father, except for his raven-black hair, which on Faramir was walnut-brown, and his green eyes which came from Esme. Faramir was of late middle age, and had expanded around the waist enough to be considered a proper hobbit, but he was still a handsome man and a kind and generous patriarch to his family.

Paladin looked more like his mother: fatter and blonder. He seemed pleasant enough, but Tamsyn could see why Perry considered him to be a bit of a bore. His wife Daisy was a shy young woman, even blonder than Paladin, and Tamsyn had to admit that their two children were the most adorable little things she had ever seen.

Both Izzy and Tulia were a mixture of their mother’s ruddy, earthy looks and their father’s dark grey eyes, and seemed as shy as Donna. Frodo was a mischievous teenager – probably around twelve in human years – who clearly adored his eldest brother. He didn’t have Perry’s unusual black hair, but Tamsyn could see that before long he would be nearly as handsome as Perry.

They all approached Tamsyn with varying degrees of friendliness, and bombarded her with questions about herself and the Westmarch, which she would have struggled to answer if Perry hadn’t helped her out as much as he could. He had a sharp, intuitive mind, and Tamsyn was quick on the uptake, or she suspected she would have given herself away as fake within the first ten minutes. But then, there was no reason for them to suspect that she wasn’t a hobbit. She marvelled again at Perry’s ability to take what had happened at face value, without panic or fear.

Perry himself looked to be at ease, not just with his family but also with himself; more so than she had seen from him so far. It made her strangely happy, and she couldn’t help but smile whenever she met his eyes. He had given her a delighted grin when he spotted the pork cutlets and beans, and a surprised look when Esme announced that the unknown extra dish had been cooked by Tamsyn. It disappeared with impressive speed.

“That was delicious, Tam,” Perry complimented her after he had wolfed down his portion. “What did you say it was?”

“Just a dish from home,” Tamsyn replied, blushing furiously, but with a smile so wide that her cheeks were starting to hurt. “My fa… my mother called it moussaka.” She had been about to say her father, but wasn’t sure whether it was normal among hobbits for men to cook.

“Well, please pass her my compliments, it was wonderful,” Perry said.

Tamsyn’s smile faltered. “I can’t,” she said quietly. “She passed away.”

His grin dropped. “Oh, I’m… I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I didn’t–”

“It’s okay, Perry,” she reassured him. “You couldn’t have known.”

He gave her one last apologetic look, but she shook her head with a smile and he returned to his dinner.

When all the food had been polished off, Esme brought out teacups and the biggest teapot Tamsyn had ever seen, with an equally gigantic tea cosy in the shape of a fat chicken. Faramir, Perry, Paladin and even Izzy lit their pipes, and Tamsyn and Donna helped Esme put out a veritable smorgasbord of cakes, scones and cookies, including Tamsyn’s buttercake.

“What’s that?” Izzy asked, pointing at it.

“Another contribution from Tamsyn,” Esme said, as proud as if Tamsyn was already her daughter-in-law.

Perry had already snatched up a slice, and Tamsyn waited as he took his first bite. He chewed it thoughtfully, then crooned in delight and shoved the rest in his mouth in one go.

“Peregrin! Where are your manners!” Esme exclaimed, but Tamsyn couldn’t help but laugh when he winked at her and started chewing with bulging cheeks.

“It’f velifiouf,” he mumbled, spraying crumbs into his hand and ignoring his mother’s indignant spluttering, and Tamsyn felt a warm glow at the clear appreciation.

After tea the table was cleared, but when Tamsyn offered to help with the dishes, Esme waved her away. “My children can do that,” she said with a significant glance at Izzy, Tulia and Frodo. “You’ve done enough today. Peregrin, darling, why don’t you show Tamsyn the rose garden? It smells lovely at this time of the day.”

“Sure,” Perry agreed. “That is, if you’re interested of course?” His eyes were full of hope, and Tamsyn smiled at him.

“I love roses,” she replied. It was the truth, but she would have said it regardless, simply because of that look in his eyes.

“Here,” Esme said as she walked to the door. “It’ll be chilly out, wear this.” She handed her a long, soft shawl of bright red wool, and Tamsyn gratefully wrapped it around her shoulders with a nod of thanks, before following Perry outside.

For a few minutes they walked without speaking, then Perry said, “You seem to have impressed my mother. It’s not everyone she lends her best shawl to.”

Tamsyn smirked. “Told you so.”

He chuckled, but then he stopped and stepped in front of her, stopping her in her tracks. It was dark, but the quarter moon was bright enough that she could see the solemn look in his eyes. “Did you do that because of our… agreement?” he asked. Tamsyn heard a hint of doubt in his voice, and realised that he was afraid that she was faking her attitude.

“Initially, yes,” she admitted. “But I find that I like your mother very much, and I wanted to help her. And because I like you, I wanted to see if I could impress a hobbit with my human cooking skills.”

He seemed surprised at her answer, but nodded and continued walking. “You did,” he confirmed, then looked at her sideways. “How many more talents am I going to discover you possessing?”

“Talents?”

“Cooking. Insight into hobbit personalities. Beauty.”

“Beauty isn’t a talent.”

He sniggered. “Point.”

They fell silent again, and Tamsyn could detect the scent of roses wafting towards her. It was heady and sweet, and she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply.

“You called me smart and capable earlier,” Perry said beside her.

“Yes, I did.”

“What makes you think I am?”

She opened her eyes and looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “What makes you think you aren’t?

“I’m not asking me, I’m asking you.” He sounded a little sullen, and Tamsyn stopped by one of the fragrant shrubs, turning to face him.

“You very quickly deduced what race I had to be if I wasn’t a hobbit. You told me what to do with my feet to stop from tripping. At the table tonight I would have been utterly lost if it hadn’t been for your quick thinking and subtle prompting. That’s why you’re smart. Got that?”

Perry nodded, and she continued, “When someone fell out of the sky right in front of you, you didn’t lose your head, you didn’t panic and you didn’t run away screaming for help. You dealt with it, and even when you found out what I really am you took it in your stride. You’re strong, not just physically, but mentally too. That’s why you’re capable. Any more questions?”

He gave a sudden grin. “Yeah, may I kiss you?”

Tamsyn crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow again. “Answer my question first.”

His grin wavered. “Okay?”

“You’ve already kissed me… hmm, six times before. Why do you suddenly feel the need to ask my permission?”

“Oh, I see,” he said, and pulled her close. His lips met hers, and Tamsyn melted against him. He smelled of sweet smoke, fresh wood and autumn leaves, with just a hint of honest sweat. It made her feel at ease and at home, and when he lifted his head she tucked her head under his chin and breathed his scent in deeply.

She felt him reach behind her, and his hand came back holding a deep red rose, half open. He held it under her nose so she could smell its fragrance, then carefully tucked it into her hair.

“Beautiful,” he whispered, and kissed her again. Tamsyn lost herself in him, moulding her body to his and burying a hand in his hair, and it felt like an hour later when they finally let go again. Perry wrapped an arm around her shoulders and they continued their walk among the roses, Tamsyn’s arm around his waist.

“I’m sorry about your mother,” Perry suddenly said.

She gave him a reassuring squeeze. “It’s alright, I barely remember her. She died when I was four.”

“Oh.” He paused for a second, then asked, “So how could she have taught you that recipe?”

“She didn’t. My father did, though it was her recipe. I just wasn’t sure whether hobbit men ever cook.”

“Oh, okay.” Another pause. “Your father must be missing you right now.”

Tamsyn swallowed away the sudden lump in her throat. “My father died two years ago,” she said hoarsely.

“Oh, Eä, I’m so sorry,” Perry said, pulling her back into his arms. “Do you miss him much?”

“Every day,” she whispered, and started crying. It startled him, but he only hugged her tighter.

“Hush, Tamsyn, hush, sweetling,” he murmured. He stroked her hair as he continued to mutter endearments, and after a few minutes she calmed down.

“I’m sorry,” she sniffed, wiping at her face.

“Don’t apologise,” he said, offering her a neatly folded handkerchief. “I wish I could do something to make you feel better.”

“You already have, Perry,” she replied, dabbing at her eyes, then sighed. “I guess we’d better go back. I’m sure your mother will only cut us so much slack.”

He nodded without enthusiasm, and they took their time walking back, not talking but simply enjoying each other’s presence. When the light of the kitchen window came into view they reluctantly let go of each other, and walked back inside with a modest distance between them. Despite that, Esme gave her a warm, secretive smile as she accepted her shawl back, and Faramir gave her an approving nod when she left the kitchen with a murmured ‘good night’.

Only when she reached her bedroom and ran her hands through her hair to braid it for the night did she discover that it still held the rose Perry had picked for her. She placed it in the cup she found on her nightstand and fell asleep with a smile on her face.

o–o-o–o

What will the next day bring? Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.

A Shire Romance (Part Six)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

When Tamsyn left for Somerset that morning, little did she realise that she’d end the day somewhere she didn’t even realise existed. Nor did Perry know when he set out for a stroll that day that his life would be utterly changed. Thrown together by chance and torn apart by their responsibilities, their future lies in Tamsyn’s hands.

Note to Readers:  This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It’s a few years old, and I know it’s far from perfect. That was never the intention either, since it isn’t something I can publish traditionally due to copyright issues. I like the story, however, so I hope people reading this will enjoy it on those terms. Please be aware it contains explicit language and scenes.

PART SIX – COOKING FOR HOBBITS

As they left Tamsyn’s room, Perry pointed to the door next to hers. “That’s my bedroom.” She thought he might be trying to tell her something, but then he pointed to the door after it. “Izzy sleeps there, and Tulia there.” That was a door on the opposite side.

“Where are they?” Tamsyn asked.

Perry shrugged. “Probably with my nephew and niece. You’ll see them all at dinner.”

Radagast didn’t look like he had awoken or even moved, so they left him and returned to the kitchen. Esme turned to look at them when they came in and Tamsyn caught a small smile on the woman’s face before she turned away again. She glanced at her dress to see if it maybe looked a little dishevelled, but she could see nothing out of the ordinary.

“Can I maybe help you with anything, Esme?” she offered, and the woman gave her a wide smile.

“That’s very kind of you, dear. I would appreciate some help,” she said. “Peregrin, darling, go help your father will you? He’s outside chopping wood. Tamsyn and I will have a chat while we’re sorting dinner.”

Perry gave Tamsyn a look that said ‘you’re in for it now’, but she gave him a reassuring smile and waved him outside. She noted that he had suddenly become a darling rather than an impossible boy, and steeled herself for what she was expecting to be a one-person cross-examination from Esme now that the two of them were alone.

Sure enough, the door had barely latched behind him or Esme said, “He’s a good lad really, but are you sure he hasn’t been any trouble to you?”

“Not at all, he’s been a perfect gentleman,” Tamsyn stated again, then couldn’t resist adding, “you say it as if you were expecting him to cause problems?”

“Well…” Esme said, blushing. “He can be a bit… boisterous sometimes.” She rummaged with a pan and stirred a pot or two until she had gathered her poise again, then muttered, “Right, that’s the stew for tomorrow luncheon. Now, what to eat tonight?”

“Do you have any pork cutlets?” Tamsyn asked innocently. “I do so like pork cutlets.”

Esme gave her a surprised look. “I’m sure we have, they’re Peregrin’s favourite,” she said. “What would you like with that?”

Tamsyn was about to say ‘green beans and roast potatoes’, but then thought better of it. There was no need to overdo it. “Anything really,” she said instead. “I don’t know what you have, I wouldn’t want to ask for anything awkward.”

Esme pondered for a second, then opened a cupboard and took out a large, open-woven basket. “Here,” she said, holding it out to Tamsyn. “Why don’t you go look in the vegetable garden and see what we have left? Fresh is always nicest. It’s out the door and to the right, you can’t miss it.”

Tamsyn nodded. “Do you want me to fill this?”

“Yes please, my dear. And thank you so much for helping me, you really are a darling. Off you go, I’ll find some cutlets.” She patted Tamsyn’s shoulder fondly, then ambled towards the corridor.

As she walked out the door, Tamsyn felt a stab of guilt for leading the woman on like that. Much as she liked Perry, there was no chance of them ever getting married; she didn’t belong here after all. The thought saddened her for some reason, but she shrugged it off and went to find the vegetables.

The vegetable garden turned out to be very large, and she walked through it for at least five minutes before she finally found a stand of green beans, which luckily looked full enough to fill her basket.

As she started picking she heard the sound of an axe hitting wood, and peered through the stalks to see Perry hard at work. Although the day was on the chilly side, he had taken off his shirt and his skin was shining with sweat, his hair plastered to his face. Tamsyn swallowed as she saw the play of muscles in his back and shoulders when he lifted the axe, then swung it down hard, splitting the log on the stump in one blow. He did seem to have a slender build, though she had not seen any other hobbit men to compare him with, but she could see that he was strong and no stranger to hard work.

She watched for a few moments more, but then a sense of voyeurism overtook her, and she guiltily went back to picking beans before rushing back to the kitchen as soon as her basket was full.

“Here you go, Esme,” she said, placing it on the work top. “Do you have another container? I thought I’d maybe make a salad while you work on the rest of the food.”

“In that cupboard over there, dear. That’s a lovely idea.” Esme gave her a warm smile, and Tamsyn mentally tallied another brownie point on her ledger.

They chatted as they worked, with Esme continuing her none-too-subtle probing of Tamsyn’s thoughts on her son, until Tamsyn suddenly registered the amount of food Esme was preparing.

“How many are coming to dinner?” she asked.

“Twelve, if we count Adalgrim and little Eglantine.”

Tamsyn considered. “Do you mind if I have a peek in your larder to see if I can contribute anything else? Just one salad is hardly going to feed twelve.”

“Oh, I’m sure there’ll be plenty, but help yourself,” Esme said, her face now beaming. It made Tamsyn glad that she liked cooking; if she’d been unable to so much as boil an egg, Esme would probably have had her thrown out as a freak.

In the larder she found everyday basics such as butter, flour and sugar, but also large cured hams hanging from the rafters, big round cheeses on shelves, and baskets full of vegetables stored in the cool recesses at the back. Apart from that she found a few things she would never have expected to see in the Shire, such as aubergines and a large slab of chocolate, though the latter looked like it had been there a while and was hoarded carefully. The larder was twice as big as Esme’s kitchen, and that itself was large enough to accommodate the great dinner table, which Tamsyn had estimated could easily sit fifteen, or twenty at a push.

She loaded her arms full of aubergines, onions and a chunk of cheese, then went back to look behind the door she had seen in the back. It turned out to be the meat larder, full of salted pork, jerked beef and even a few fresh braising steaks. It wasn’t quite beef mince, but if she cut them up small enough she was sure they would suffice. If Esme would let her have them, of course.

Esme would, and Tamsyn dashed back into the vegetable garden for more tomatoes and a good handful of parsley, ducked back into the pantry for cream, eggs and garlic, and at the last moment decided to also grab some flour, sugar and butter.

When she was finally back in the kitchen again, surrounded by a mountain of ingredients, Esme looked at her with a mixture of admiration and pride. “Bullroarer’s Belly, my dear, the boys will be delighted with what you’re going to cook up, I’m sure!” she stated. “I didn’t think you’d have cooked for so many before, what with your family being small.”

Tamsyn grinned nervously. “Truth said, I haven’t, but I’ve found that in cooking it’s not so much about the exact quantities, as long as whatever comes out tastes well enough. I’m sure I’ll be okay.”

She turned around to set to work, and was taken completely by surprise when Esme ambled over, turned her around and gave her a resounding kiss on either cheek. “You’re a gem, my dear,” she said, still beaming. She looked as if she wanted to say something else, but thought better of it and returned to her gravy, bubbling away on the stove.

Tamsyn had expected Esme to interfere, but to her surprise and delight the woman was interested, but left her to do her cooking on her own. Perry appeared to have a rare gem of a mother who was doting but not stifling. Except when her eldest gets himself into trouble again, I suspect, she thought with a little smile.

Esme vacated a corner of her great iron stove, and Tamsyn nervously wiped her sweaty hands on the apron she had borrowed. This was the moment of truth: cutting up things to cook them was one thing, but preparing them on a wood-fired, cast-iron stove was something else altogether.

She fried the beef with the onions, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, and in a separate pan managed to roast the sliced aubergines. At her request, Esme produced a large, deep roasting tray, and Tamsyn carefully layered the beef mixture and the aubergines under her prospective mother-in-law’s interested eye. She topped it all off with a mix of cream, grated cheese and eggs, and placed the whole in the big oven in the wall, which also ran on wood. As long as she managed not to let it burn, it should be a serviceable moussaka.

That taken care of, she took nearly equal parts of flour, butter and sugar and made a thick, stodgy dough which she pressed into a large, flat baking tin and covered with beaten egg. Buttercake was a favourite sweet of hers, ever since she had overseen a building project in the Netherlands, where it originated. It was rich and sweet, and Tamsyn couldn’t think of anything more hobbit-like.

As she nervously hovered around the oven, intent on not letting her contribution to dinner burn, she asked Esme about her dishes and watched with interest when the woman added a variety of herbs and spices to her pork cutlets, in addition to the fruit Perry had mentioned, until the whole gave off a smell that made her mouth water.

“Well, between us I think we’ve conjured up a dinner worthy of a king, my dear,” Esme said with satisfaction when Tamsyn removed the moussaka and buttercake, and found both to be perfect.

“Or a Thain,” Tamsyn said with a smile, and Esme gave her shoulder a fond squeeze.

“Ahh, a girl like you is wasted in the Westmarch,” she said ruefully. Whether Esme really meant that or whether she was just looking fore Perry to finally settle down with someone Tamsyn didn’t know, but she felt an unexpected squeeze around her heart nonetheless. She felt at home, she realised.

“Would you go find Peregrin please?” Esme asked, interrupting her thoughts. “I think it’s about time to lay the table.”

“I don’t mind doing that, Esme,” Tamsyn said, but the woman shook her head.

“Peregrin knows where everything is, my dear, and you don’t. Plus he can go fetch his brothers and sisters when he’s done.”

Tamsyn nodded and went outside, heading towards where she had seen Perry cut wood earlier. Instead she found him closer by, just as he ducked his head into the rain butt. He proceeded to sponge off his torso with a wet flannel, and Tamsyn couldn’t help but stare at the thatch of hair that covered his well-defined chest. It narrowed down into a black line that disappeared into his low-slung trousers, and she found that it took very little effort to imagine what he would look like naked.

Just at that moment he spotted her, and he stopped in mid-motion. Tamsyn looked away, a blush creeping onto her cheeks, and she said, “Um, your mother would, um, like you to lay the table.”

When no immediate response was forthcoming she glanced back at him, and found him giving her a warm, slightly teasing smile. “I’ll be there in a moment,” he said. “Pass me that towel, will you?”

She tore her eyes away from him to look where he pointed, and handed it to him. “So I’ll, um, see you inside,” she stammered, taking a last look at his bare chest before almost fleeing back inside. After all the leers she had had from men, it would be hypocritical of her to just stand there and leer at Perry, much as she would like to.

He entered the kitchen only moments after her, now decently dressed in his wide, lace-up shirt, though he hadn’t tucked it back in yet. He looked nothing short of dashing, and Tamsyn spent ten minutes glancing at him surreptitiously. She only stopped when she noticed that while she was watching Perry, Esme was watching her with a small, secretive smile on her face that made another blush creep to her cheeks.

Perry winked at her when he left the kitchen, and Tamsyn hastened to help Esme with putting the food on the table, a nervous lump in her stomach about meeting the rest of Perry’s family.

o–o-o–o

Will dinner be an ordeal?. Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

A Shire Romance is written by Erica Dakin. You can find out more about Contrary Erica on the Guest Reviewers page and check out her website to find out more information about her work.