A Shire Romance (Epilogue)

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.

EPILOGUE

“Mother, where are my riding trousers?”

Tamsyn sighed and stretched her back, wincing at the stabs of pain shooting upwards. “I’m washing them, dear,” she called back, pulling the last of the garments through the wringer attached to the washtub, then placing them in the basket next to her.

Her son walked into the washroom, looking contrite. “I’d have done that, mother. I promised, didn’t I?”

“Faramir, I’m not yet so old that I can’t do my son’s washing for him,” she replied. “Besides, you should be packing. We’re leaving tomorrow.”

“I’m done,” he said, brightening up.

She put her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?”

He squirmed. “Well, mostly. I mean, we’ll only be gone two or three weeks, right? I don’t really need to take that much, right?”

“Which I take to mean that you packed one spare shirt, one spare pair of trousers and probably about seven cheeses, am I right?” Tamsyn said sternly.

Faramir tried to meet her gaze, but looked down after only a few seconds. “Only six cheeses,” he muttered, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

Tamsyn shook her head at him, then smiled and tousled his hair. It was the same as hers – straight, thick and stiff as a brush when short, meaning that it usually stuck in every direction. “You and your cheese,” she said fondly. “You should have been a mouse. Go on, go pack again, and properly this time. If you’ve done it right you can have a shower, but I will check first.”

“A shower?” he said, eyes bright. “Can I?”

“Yes, you can, just this once. This is a special occasion, after all. It’s not every day that my eldest son goes off to Bree to get his Gondorian livery.”

“Thanks, mother, you’re the best,” he said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek, then dashing off. He nearly ran into Perry, who came in just as he left, but ducked under his father’s arm and scarpered down the corridor.

“Did I hear you give away our hot water?” Perry asked, walking up to his wife.

“I’m afraid I did, my love,” she replied, smiling at him. “Unless he leaves enough for us to use the shower after him, but somehow I doubt it.”

In the first few years of their marriage, Tamsyn had used her engineering skills to design and build a primitive solar-heated water system with an insulated storage tank, which had been dug into the hill above Great Smials and connected to the big bathroom. It was virtually invisible from the outside, but once enough water was pumped into it, it was heated by the sun and stored, ready to provide a warm shower. It was a fair amount of work to keep it going, but still less than manually filling a bath, and the rule of the house was that the shower was for Perry and Tamsyn’s use only, unless special permission was obtained.

“Shame,” Perry said, pulling her into his arms. “I was looking forward to our shower.”

“We could have a bath instead,” Tamsyn suggested with a sultry smile. “It’s been a while.” She kissed him, then sighed and tried to pull away. “But I need to sort this washing first.”

“Do you?” Perry asked, refusing to let go. He nuzzled her neck and whispered, “What if I have other plans? Surely you can spare five minutes?”

Tamsyn gave him an indignant stare. “Five minutes?”

“Okay, ten?”

“I won’t settle for anything less than fifteen, and you’ll have to make up for it tonight.”

“Make up for what?”

“For rushing me. Lock the door, will you?”

o–o-o–o

Twenty minutes later they lay in each other’s arms on a big pile of blankets in the corner, sated and content. Tamsyn shifted position and let out an involuntary grunt of pain when her back sent another protesting stab upwards.

“Are you alright, my heart?” Perry asked.

“I’m fine, it’s just my back,” she grumbled. “I’m not as young as I used to be, and washing takes it out of me a bit.”

“You ought to have let Faramir do it,” he reproached her.

“Don’t you start,” she muttered. “I’m not decrepit yet. It’s nothing you can’t fix with a massage tonight.”

He gave her a slow smile. “I’m sure I can do that.” Then he turned serious again. “Are you sure you want to come with us tomorrow? You would be the first Took wife to go to Bree.”

“Oh, Eä, not that argument again, I thought we’d settled this. You’re not leaving me behind, Perry,” she said, glaring at him.

“But it’s a long way to Bree.”

Tamsyn snorted. “It’s only three days further than Buckland, and we’ve gone there lots of times. I can ride as well as you and Faramir, and I’m coming with you, period.”

“But I’m still not sure we should leave the children on their own for so long.”

“Oh for…” She sat up and turned to him with an exasperated look. “Paddy is twenty-seven and will be delighted to not have his parents around for a few weeks. I’d worry about him trashing the place, but Frodo and Lily are around and I’m sure they’ll keep him in check. You know Paddy adores his uncle. Iris and Esme will be fine over at Donna and Tommy’s, and they’ll love spending time with Peony and Ruby.”

“And Andy? He’s only nineteen, Tam.”

“Andy is a very sensible child, nothing like his father. He’ll be fine. He’ll help Lily look after Addy and Vinca, and he’ll love every moment of it. He’s fascinated by the twins, and you know it.”

He still looked dubious, and she leaned forward and stroked his face, studying it like she still so often did. There were a few more lines, and his eyes had little crows’ feet at the corners, but at seventy-two his hair was as coal-black as it had been at forty-one, and to Tamsyn he was still the same young man she had fallen in love with so long ago. “Perry, my love, if all of that doesn’t convince you, I have one last argument that you cannot possibly counter,” she said quietly.

“Which is?”

“I have not been away from you for more than a day in over thirty years, and I still don’t think I could bear to be. So do you think that you could do without me for several weeks?”

He looked at her for a moment, then pulled her close. “No, I couldn’t,” he admitted.

“So it’s still settled, like it’s been for weeks. I’m coming with you to Bree. Besides, I’ve always wanted to see–”

She was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Mother? Father?” Paddy’s voice was hesitant. “There’s someone at the door, and… and he looks like one of the big folk. Says his name is Radagast. Should I go and call the shirriffs?”

Perry and Tamsyn stared at each other, then scrambled up and began pulling on their clothes. “It’s fine, Paddy,” Perry called back. “Give him something to eat, we’ll be there in a moment.” He was up and out the door while Tamsyn was still lacing her bodice, but she followed soon after and rushed up to hug the old wizard, sat awkwardly at the kitchen table on a just-too-small chair.

“Radagast, we haven’t seen you in thirty years!” she exclaimed. “What brings you here today?”

“I’m about to go through the portal, and I thought I’d check here first, to see how you and Peregrin are faring. You’re looking well, Tamsyn. You’re as beautiful as ever.”

“See?” Perry said triumphantly. “It’s not just me who thinks so.”

Tamsyn waved him away, suddenly intent. “You say you’re going through the portal?” she asked, grabbing the wizard’s sleeve. “Can you do something for me, please?”

At Radagast’s nod she dashed away and returned a few minutes later with a flat piece of paper, placing it before the wizard. “I’ve had this ready for years, hoping you’d come by. Please take this and put it in a postbox somewhere. You know what they look like?”

Radagast smiled. “I know what they looked like thirty years ago, yes. What is this?”

Tamsyn opened the makeshift envelope and took out a drawing. Years before, Frodo had discovered a talent for drawing, slowly honing his skill. The picture before her was evidence of just how talented he was.

She looked at the image, at herself and Perry, then brushed her fingers past all five of her children. Faramir, with his unruly hair and his father’s eyes, and the quiet, shy character of Donna and Izzy. Paddy, who was such a carbon copy of Perry that it was uncanny sometimes. Iris, with Tamsyn’s hair and Perry’s eyes, and a quiet confidence that made heads turn even though she was only twenty-five. Esme with her hobbit hair and black eyes, and with the same calm confidence as her sister.

And last but not least, Andy, who looked as much like Tamsyn as Paddy looked like Perry. He was easygoing and cheerful, and Tamsyn knew that once he had grown out of his puppy-fat he would be even more handsome than Perry. They all sported the same midnight-black hair as their parents, and Tamsyn felt a fierce pride for all five of them.

She showed the picture to Radagast, then put it back in the envelope. She had addressed it to Andrew McIntyre, at her old address in London. “It’s been a long time, and he may not live there anymore,” she said with a shrug, “but it’s worth a try. I’m sure he won’t mind paying the postage.” Then she walked back into Perry’s embrace.

“I never really got to say this to you at the time, Radagast, but I cannot thank you enough for bringing Tamsyn back to me,” Perry said. “I never knew I could be as happy as I have been these past thirty years. Is there anything at all that I can give you, or do for you?”

Radagast smiled. “Seeing the two of you together and happy is reward enough. I’m glad to have been of service.” He sighed and stood up, remembering at the last moment to stoop, then picked up the envelope. “Farewell Peregrin, farewell Tamsyn. I do not think I shall see you again.”

They watched him disappear into the woods, then turned to each other. “Come, let’s finish packing,” Tamsyn said. “Tomorrow we’re off to Bree.”

Perry smiled. “Tomorrow we’re off to Bree,” he agreed.

o–o-o–o

Andy sat on the sofa, engrossed in a book, when Rhys walked in. “Andy, there’s a really strange letter for you here,” he said. “It looks like it was delivered to the old place, but I guess the porter must have remembered where we moved to. There’s no postage or anything.”

He held out the envelope and Andy accepted it, bemusedly taking in the stiff, parchment-like paper and the makeshift nature of the envelope. Then he saw the handwriting and lost all strength in his legs, dropping heavily onto the sofa.

“Andy? Are you okay?” Rhys asked as Andy ripped open the envelope with trembling hands and took out a picture, hand-drawn in pastels and charcoal. There was a dedication at the bottom:

To Andy, with love. These are Thain Peregrin Took and his wife Tamsyn. Also their children, Faramir, Padraig, Iris, Esmeralda and Andrew.

Andy stretched out his hand and drew Rhys down onto the sofa beside him. “Rhys,” he said, “there’s something I have to tell you…”

THE END

o–o-o–o

A Shire Romance was 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.

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A Shire Romance (Part Seventeen)

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 SEVENTEEN – AFTERMATH

Tamsyn woke to urgent banging on her door the next morning. “Tamsyn!” Perry whisper-shouted.

She sat up groggily, taking in her dishevelled state. Her dress was crumpled and twisted, her hair was a tangled mess and Perry’s rose had been reduced to a swirl of crushed petals on the sheets. Rubbing her eyes she walked to the door and opened it, coming face to face with Perry. “Hmm?” she said sleepily.

He stared at her for a moment, tenderly brushed a rose petal off her cheek, then seemed to remember why he had woken her. “Tolman Chubb is here to complain to father,” he said, his eyes intent.

Tamsyn was instantly awake. “What?!

“Come,” Perry said, and grabbed her hand.

He led her outside, but this time he turned left, following the Great Smials hill to a lesser used area. More round windows dotted the hillside, and after the fourth he crouched down and motioned for Tamsyn to do the same. They continued below the window ledges until they rounded a corner, where they found Frodo sat on his heels underneath an open window, from which Faramir’s voice drifted out.

Frodo startled when he saw them, ready to bolt, but relaxed again when he recognised them and moved over to give them room. The three of them settled themselves against the wall, knees pulled up out of sight, and Perry wrapped an arm around Tamsyn’s shoulders in a gesture of comfort.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” Faramir’s voice came from above them. “I had some urgent business which could not wait. Are you sure you won’t have a cup of tea?”

“You know very well why I’m here, Faramir, and it’s not to drink tea,” Tolman blustered. “That rotten son of yours beat up Colman yesterday. His jaw hurts so much that he can hardly chew, and three of his teeth are loose!”

Tamsyn grinned at Perry and quietly planted a kiss on his cheek, getting a grin in return.

“Well,” Faramir replied, calm as always. “I see that you intend to be direct. If I may ask, were you there last night? Did you see the incident? If not, did you hear it from your son or from someone else?”

“What’s that got to do with it? No, I didn’t see it, but Colman told me everything. Which was very painful for him, I should add.”

“And how reliable is your son, Tolman?” Faramir asked mildly. “Is he trustworthy? Can you believe what he tells you? Because I can tell you one thing.” His voice turned sharp and authoritative as he continued, “My son has never lied to me. So when he told me last night that your rotten son tried to manhandle and kiss his fiancée against her will, I believed him.” He let the comment hang for a moment, but when Tolman started to splutter he spoke over him.

“Let me also say, Tolman Chubb, that my son has done exactly what I would have expected him to do in the circumstances, and if he hadn’t, I would have been on your doorstep this morning to personally give young Colman a good thrashing. And believe me, I have a sincere inclination to do so anyway.”

It was quiet again for a moment, and Tamsyn gripped Perry’s hand like a vice as she waited for what would come next. Then Tolman whined, “He’s lying! Colman never did nothing!”

“I already told you, Perry never lies to me,” Faramir stated icily.

“But what about all those times he nicked my melons?”

“Have I ever claimed to you that he said he didn’t do it? Perry isn’t the only young man in Tuckborough who steals your melons, Tolman, but he has readily admitted it to me on those occasions when it was him. But we’re not here to talk about your melons, or I would feel it necessary to mention to you the countless times when your son has been stealing the eggs from underneath my chickens. Ah, I see he has never admitted to that either, has he?”

Tamsyn wished she could see Tolman’s face, for silence radiated out once more. She imagined him open-mouthed with shock.

“So we shall forget about the melons, shall we?” Faramir continued. “Just as I have never bothered to complain to you about my eggs. However, I expect a full apology from Colman to both Tamsyn and my son for his unforgivable behaviour, and I expect it today, regardless of his inability to chew, speak, spit or whatever else he can’t do with his mouth. He can do an apologetic dance for all I care, but he will apologise. Do I make myself clear?”

Tamsyn stifled a snigger, and Perry shot her a panicky look, putting his finger to his lips.

Tolman, meanwhile, must simply have nodded, because again it was Faramir who spoke. “Very well, that’s settled then. Good day, Tolman.”

Footsteps faded away, a door opened and closed, then they heard Faramir walk to the window. All three of them shrank back, but then he said, “You can get up now, he’s gone.”

Tamsyn and Perry shared a look, then slowly stood up and turned to Faramir, guilt written all over their faces. Frodo followed, gripping his brother’s hand tightly.

“How did you know we were here?” Perry asked.

Faramir chuckled. “I’ve known you for longer than just today, Peregrin. Why do you think I kept him waiting? I knew you needed enough time to get here so you could listen in.” Then he turned his gaze to Frodo. “I had not expected to see you here, though.”

Frodo glowered. “Colman tried to hurt Tamsyn. I wanted to know what you were going to say to his father.”

“And are you happy with what I said?” At Frodo’s meek nod he smiled contentedly. “Good, because to me that was an extremely satisfying conversation.”

Perry laughed. “Thanks, father, you’re the best,” he said, and surprised Faramir by hugging him through the window.

“I did what was right, Perry,” he replied, patting his son on the back. “Colman’s behaviour was unforgivable, so he shall apologise.” He nodded at Tamsyn, but she shook her head.

“Faramir, I appreciate the gesture, but I… I’m not sure I can suffer him anywhere near me now.”

“I can appreciate that, my dear,” Faramir said, “but bear in mind that if you cannot face him now, chances are you’ll never be able to face him again, and Tuckborough isn’t a very big place.” Then he smiled again. “Besides, I only said that he had to apologise, I never said that you would have to accept it.” He winked, and for a second he looked so much like Perry that Tamsyn couldn’t help herself. She bent over the window sill, hugged him and kissed him on the cheek, and had the satisfaction of seeing him blush.

“Thank you, Faramir. And you too, Frodo. Thank you for sticking with me.” She hugged the boy, and he grinned at her.

“I’m gonna go and give Izzy a kicking for you now,” he declared. He turned and tried to run off, but Perry grabbed the back of his shirt to stop him.

“No, you won’t,” he said. “Leave Izzy to father.”

Faramir nodded. “You go and have breakfast, I’ll find out what’s up with Izzy. It’s not like him to defend Colman.”

His remark made Tamsyn aware of her grumbling stomach, and she gave Perry a quick smile. “Let me go change,” she said. “I’ll see you in the kitchen in a bit.”

When she emerged ten minutes later she was pulling faces as she tried to drag her fingers through her matted hair. Perry gestured to a bowl of porridge, then winced when she yanked out another tangle.

“What happened to your hair?” he asked.

“Forgot to braid it last night.”

His eyes went wide. “It does that when you sleep on it?”

She smiled at him. “It doesn’t just hang off my head, Perry. It takes a lot of maintenance.”

He watched her untangle another lock, then resolutely pushed her into the chair facing the porridge. “Let me do it, you just eat.” Then, with infinite patience and excessive care, he started untangling her hair.

When Esme walked into the kitchen, five minutes later, she watched her son at his task for a few moments, then produced an old-fashioned, four-pronged comb from a drawer. “Here,” she said, handing it to Perry. “Hair like Tamsyn’s needs more than just fingers, no matter how loving.”

Tamsyn looked around and saw her stroke her son’s head with a look more fond than she’d ever seen Esme give him; a look which Perry returned with a warm smile. The day before might have been a shock, but Perry had been vindicated.

It took Perry far longer to untangle her hair than it took Tamsyn to eat a bowl of porridge, and for a long time after she’d finished she simply sat and enjoyed the feel of him running his fingers through her hair.

Then Faramir appeared from the corridor. “Tamsyn, Radagast is asking for you.”

She gave him a startled look before nodding and standing up, a leaden sense of foreboding settling into her stomach. A quick look at Perry showed him to be just as apprehensive, and she held out her hand to him.

They entered Radagast’s room together, and the old wizard looked up when they approached the bed. “I’m nearly recovered, Tamsyn,” he said. “Tomorrow I can take you home.”

Home is here, it flashed through her head, but she nodded. “Okay,” she said hoarsely. “I’ll be ready.”

Perry squeezed her hand so hard it was painful, but she barely felt it as she left the room again. Everything felt numb, faded, as if someone had dragged a veil over the sun and had made the world a dimmer, duller place.

“Tam?” Perry said in a small voice, and she turned to him and hugged him fiercely. Neither of them cried, they just held each other for what felt like hours, lost in a sadness beyond tears.

“Come,” Tamsyn finally said, and started walking, pulling Perry with her.

o–o-o–o

Where are they going? 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 Sixteen)

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 SIXTEEN – TROUBLE

Tamsyn nodded, giving Perry another smouldering look, then twirled away, past Donna and Tommy, past Boar with a pretty blonde girl and all the way to the other side of the clearing, where she nearly collided with a short, stocky hobbit who had planted himself squarely in her path. As she checked herself and regained her balance she tried to recall where she had seen him before, and then it came to her: this was Colman Chubb, the melon farmer’s son.

He looked her up and down and smiled unpleasantly. “So, the melon thief has finally managed to find himself a girlfriend, has he?” he sneered. “You’re a comely wench, I’ll give him that.”

Tamsyn gave him one disdainful look then turned to walk away, but he grabbed her arm and stopped her. His sweaty palm made her skin crawl, but she remained still, reluctant to cause a scene in the middle of the celebrating hobbits.

“Oh, you’re the haughty type?” Colman said, tightening his grip. “Think you’re better than us?” He leered closer, and Tamsyn leaned away from the sour, beery smell of his breath. “Has he fucked you yet?”

She froze, but otherwise gave no reaction to the profanity, and Colman looked almost disappointed. Then his eyes narrowed.

“I bet he has, you little slut,” he hissed. “I saw you kissing him. You like getting kissed like that in public, do you? Shall I give you a kiss, slip you the tongue like that?” He stuck out his tongue and wriggled it at her.

Tamsyn recoiled further. “I would sincerely advise against trying that,” she warned him in a voice of frosted steel.

“Oh, you would, would you?” he sneered. “Or what, your boyfriend is going to get me? Don’t see him here now, do I?”

He couldn’t, no, but behind Colman Tamsyn could see Perry pushing his way through the partygoers toward her. He was still too far to interfere though, and Colman gave a lecherous laugh and grabbed Tamsyn by the shoulder with his other hand, yanking her closer. “Come on then, bitch, give us a kiss,” he taunted, his tongue protruding like a wet, brown slug.

Tamsyn’s judo training took over and she reacted out of instinct. She grabbed the hand on her shoulder and twisted it outwards whilst freeing her arm from his grip with a quick twist. Then she locked his arm by pressing her other hand against his elbow, making him bend backwards awkwardly to stop the pain. As he stood there like that she hooked her foot behind his knees and pulled his legs out from beneath him so that he made a half-somersault and crashed to the floor, just as Perry arrived.

Others now noticed what was going on and gathered around in consternation. Colman started to scramble up, and Tamsyn knew without a doubt that he would lunge at her again. In a flash of insight she also realised that although she was capable of dispatching him herself, if she didn’t let Perry deal with him now, he would lose all respect for himself. So she nimbly stepped aside and left the floor to Perry, who balled his fist in quiet fury and landed it on Colman’s jaw just as he came fully upright. He crumpled back to the ground without another word.

“Tam?” Perry’s face showed a mixture of anger and worry as he pulled her into his arms. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”

Tamsyn clung to him as the delayed shock finally hit and her legs gave way, and she took a deep, shuddering breath when Perry hugged her even tighter.

“I’ll kill him,” he growled in her ear, rocking her from side to side.

“No! Let it go,” Tamsyn said urgently. “He’s not worth it. Just… let’s just go home, please.”

He swung her up into his arms without another word, and she clung to his neck as he walked away from the party, his eyes fixed straight ahead, ignoring everyone’s anxious questions.

They moved into the dark maze of Tuckborough’s streets, the shadows long in the light of the waxing moon, and after about five minutes Tamsyn tried to shift. “You can put me down now, Perry, I can walk again.”

“No,” he said hoarsely. “I’m carrying you.”

She protested no further, instead pulling herself tighter to him and kissing the skin in his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“I saw how you threw him on the floor,” Perry said, sounding like he was about to cry. “You didn’t look like you needed my help.”

“Yes, I did,” she replied. “I needed you to punch him for me, which I never would have managed. I needed you to stand up for me, which no one else did. And most of all I needed – still need – someone to hold me, and make me forget that his filthy hands touched me.”

“Oh, Eä, Tam, I let him touch you,” Perry sobbed, hugging her so tight that she could barely breathe.

“Perry, sweetheart, hush,” she said, stroking his face. “You also punched him for me. It more than balances out.” She kissed him until he calmed down, then started walking again.

When they arrived at Great Smials, Perry still refused to put her down. He carried her all the way to the great lounge, to where Faramir and Esme sat in their comfortable chairs. Between them on the sofa were Izzy and Frodo, both talking loudly over each other as they seemed to try and convince Faramir of something. They fell silent when they saw Perry, however, who finally placed Tamsyn back on her feet.

“What’s going on here?” he asked.

“That’s what I’m trying to establish,” Faramir replied, rubbing his eyes. “Izzy just ran in to say that you knocked out Colman Chubb, and then Frodo came in right after him to tell me that Tamsyn did it. Neither seem to be able to tell me why either of you would, though.”

“I told you, father!” Frodo said indignantly. “He attacked Tamsyn!”

“No, he didn’t!” Izzy shouted over him. “He was talking to her, and then Perry hit him!”

“Enough!” Faramir said, raising his hands. “Go to bed, both of you.”

Frodo stomped his feet. “But father, he–”

“I said enough!”

Frodo pouted, but stood up and slunk away. Izzy followed, and when the door closed behind him Faramir rubbed his face again.

“Now, I’m hoping you two can tell me what really happened,” he said, though his eyes were focused on Perry. Tamsyn squeezed his hand, willing him to not lose his temper.

“Frodo was right,” Perry said, his voice tight. “Colman attacked Tamsyn. He put his filthy hands on her and tried to kiss her. So yes, I punched him, and I would do it again and again if I had to.”

Tamsyn squeezed his hand again, but Faramir gave his son a bemused stare. “But why did Colman try to assault Tamsyn?”

“You two have been a little… overt with each other,” Esme entered the conversation, her voice reproachful. “I’ve never seen any two people kiss each other like you two did tonight.”

Perry turned to her. “Are you saying that Colman attacked Tamsyn because I kissed her? That he assumed that if she kissed one person like that, she must like kissing everyone else the same way?”

“Well, it’s just not done…” Esme faltered under her son’s furious stare and turned pleading eyes to Tamsyn. “Surely you agree with me, dear? Proper girls just shouldn’t do that!”

Tamsyn’s mouth fell open, and Perry’s hand clenched around hers. “Mother, leave her out of this, she–” he began, but she stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“Esmeralda,” she said, using the woman’s full name for emphasis, “in the short time I have been here I have grown to love you like a mother.” Then her voice turned steely. “But if you choose to disagree with Perry, do not ever expect me to take your side against his.”

Esme gave her a look as if she’d just come face to face with a sheep, only to discover it had claws. “Even if he’s wrong?” she asked.

“Perry can do no wrong,” Tamsyn stated. “I don’t care what accusations you level at him or what habits you don’t want him to have. He is my chosen and he can do no wrong. And as for Colman Chubb…” She took a shuddering breath. “If Perry had done anything other than punch him, he wouldn’t be Perry. He did exactly what he should have done. And if he wants to kiss me then he can do so for as long as he likes, and I don’t care if there’s two, twenty or two hundred people watching.”

She whirled around and threw her arms around Perry, seeking his comfort, and he squeezed her gently as he buried his face in her hair.

Then Faramir cleared his throat and Tamsyn stiffened. She expected a lecture, or a point of contention, so was surprised when he said, “Esme, my love, our Perry has found himself that rare gem of a woman who is willing to stick by him, regardless of what he does.”

Tamsyn raised her head and looked at Perry, though her words were aimed at Faramir. “Maybe you, as his parents, should consider doing so as well sometimes, instead of always telling him off for being who he is.”

There was a shocked silence behind her, and even Perry stared at her in astonishment, but then Faramir gave a chuckle which turned into a laugh and then a full-blown guffaw.

“Well, that’s us told,” he eventually managed to say. “Twice today too, for me!” He stood up and walked over to Tamsyn, took her by the shoulders and kissed her forehead. “Welcome to the family, my dear. I think you may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to our Perry.”

Tamsyn managed a smile, but she could not look Faramir in the eyes for more than a second. Instead she turned back to Perry, giving him a look full of apology for what she knew she would have to do to him. An ever larger part of her wished that she could simply forget about England and stay here, but she resolutely kept pushing the thought away. If she dwelt on it for too long, she knew she’d be lost.

Perry gave her a small nod, and she lowered her eyes again. “Good night,” she said, turning to go to her room. Perry followed without another word to his parents, but he stopped her in the corridor just outside her bedroom door.

“Wait a minute,” he said, then dashed away. He returned five minutes later, out of breath and holding out another red rose.

Tamsyn felt tears well up as she took it. “Oh, Perry…” she whispered. “Thank you, I–”

She faltered when she looked at him and saw the intense hope in his eyes. She had been about to tell him that she loved him, that she didn’t want to leave him, but now she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Their future together was bleak, nonexistent, and the last thing she ought to do was encourage him.

Instead she fled into her room and threw herself on the bed, not even bothering to undress. She pressed the rose to her face, inhaling its sweet fragrance, and eventually cried herself to sleep.

o–o-o–o

There’s trouble ahead! Find out what will happen 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.