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 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.

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 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.

A Shire Romance (Part Fourteen)

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 FOURTEEN – SWORD PRACTICE

“This is your favourite spot, isn’t it?” Tamsyn asked once they’d arrived. They both sat with their backs against the trunk of the copper beech, shoulders touching, and looked out over the hills to the south, away from Tuckborough.

“It is,” Perry confirmed. “I always go up here when I want to think. It’s the highest hill around, you can see for miles. I can see Tuckborough if I want to, or look away from it if I don’t. I can see Frodo or Izzy or Tulia when mother sends them for me, and run if I don’t want to be found. It’s perfect.”

Tamsyn smiled. “I had a spot like that, back when we still lived in Oxford,” she reminisced. “When I wanted to be alone, I’d sit in this secluded little spot by the river where I could spend hours with a book, or just look at the boats passing by.”

“Where do you live now then?” Perry asked. “Don’t you have a spot like that there?”

She gave a wry chuckle. “Most of the time I live in London, which is big, crowded, dirty and noisy. Finding a place like this in there is almost impossible.”

“Then why do you live there?”

Tamsyn sighed. “Sometimes I ask myself the same question.”

They were quiet for a while, their silence companionable, then Perry wrapped his arm around her and drew her against his chest. “Tam, why does it feel like I’ve known you all my life?”

“I don’t know, Perry, but I feel it too.” She scooted over until she was sitting sideways on his lap, and rested her head against his shoulder.

“You smell of apples, on top of everything else,” she said, breathing in his scent. “It’s even better than usual.”

“Same goes for you. You used the lilac soap, didn’t you?”

She nodded. “I’ve always loved lilacs.”

“Shame you can’t be here in spring. There are several bushes by the house. On warm spring evenings the scent gets so strong that you can smell it all around the house, even the furthest corner.”

“That sounds lovely. I wish I could be here for it,” was all Tamsyn said in reply, and then they were quiet again until they heard Frodo’s voice in the distance.

“I think that’s the call for dinner,” Perry sighed. “Come, he’d better not see you sitting on my lap.”

They met Frodo halfway down the hill and Perry sent him back with the message that they were on their way, then they continued at leisure, holding hands as they walked. It felt so natural to Tamsyn that she never even thought to let go as they entered the warm, inviting hobbit-hole. Esme took one look at them when they walked in and her eyes widened. Then she clasped her hands together and beamed a smile at them. She ambled over, grabbed Perry’s face and gave him a resounding kiss on each cheek. She did the same to Tamsyn, then walked off, wiping at her eyes.

She hadn’t said a word.

Utterly bemused, Tamsyn looked at Perry, who lifted their interlinked hands with a shrug. “I think we just got engaged,” he said with a half-smile.

Tamsyn smiled back, but she felt a stab of sadness that it wasn’t true, because the more time she spent with him, the more she found herself wishing that it could be.

When she went to bed later that night, she found another rose on her pillow, and it joined the other two in the vase. Her thoughts were on her predicament, and how on earth she was going to ensure that the portal to Middle-Earth would be protected, but by the time she fell asleep she was no closer to a solution.

 o–o-o–o

When she woke up the next morning she remembered the party that day, and dressed with extra care in a deep lilac dress which had been right at the bottom of the chest. The colour was so vibrant that it made her wonder what hobbits used to dye their fabrics; she wouldn’t have thought they could have created something this bright.

The cut was also different from the other dresses she had worn. The bodice was more elaborate, and the skirt was double, so that it flared out widely when she turned a pirouette.

Her hair she left loose but for two locks at the front, which she plaited into slim braids and fastened together at the back of her head. It felt good to dress simply to look nice, rather than to make a certain impression on chauvinistic men.

The kitchen contained only Esme, as always stirring in various pots and pans, which she interrupted to serve up a full breakfast.

“Where is Perry?” Tamsyn asked when she’d finished eating.

“He’s in the practice yard with his father and brothers,” Esme replied with a fond smile.

“The practice yard?”

“It is the Thain’s tradition to train his sons in swordfighting, ever since Pippin the Great learnt to fight in the lands of Men,” Esme stated proudly.

“Swordfighting?” Tamsyn asked, baffled. “Why would they need to learn to do that?”

Esme chuckled. “Why don’t you go and see? I’m sure Peregrin will be more than happy to explain, and I’m sure you will enjoy it better if it comes from him.”

Tamsyn smiled, and in an impulse she went over to the woman and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you, Esme, I will. Where is the practice yard?”

“Out beyond the vegetable garden. You’ll hear them before you see them.”

Sure enough, before Tamsyn was even halfway past the vegetable patches she heard the clacking of wood on wood, and when she emerged from behind the beanstalks she entered a rectangular area where Faramir was instructing Frodo. Perry and Izzy were watching them from a bench along the side.

“Hello Tamsyn!” Faramir greeted her. “Do join us, it’s been a while since we had an audience. You’ll have to bear with young Frodo here though, this is only his fifth lesson.”

“I’m sure he’ll do fine,” Tamsyn said, smiling at the boy before seating herself on the corner of the bench. “Morning Perry, morning Izzy.”

Izzy blushed and mumbled a ‘good morning’ back, but Perry gave her such a look of admiration that it made her blush.

“Good morning,” he murmured for her ears only. “You look stunning today.” He added a quick kiss to the cheek, and she blushed deeper.

“Thank you. You look…” She took in his shirt, which he had clearly just quickly slung back on in between sessions, and his hair, which hung in wet ringlets from his head. “You look like you’ve been busy this morning,” she finished with a grin.

He grinned back. “Father gives a good workout, for all that he’s seventy-five.”

“So I see,” she replied, looking at Frodo. The boy was intent on parrying Faramir’s hits, which appeared to be based on the numbers he called out.

“One is overhead, two is high left, three is high right, four is low left and five is low right,” Perry clarified, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb his brother’s concentration. “Once he gets better he’ll need to do it without the numbers, or father will call the wrong numbers to confuse him. For now he’s just learning the basics. Oof!” He winced when Frodo took a stinging slap to the thigh.

“Perry, step up,” Faramir said, and Perry jumped up and nimbly caught his father’s practice sword as it was tossed to him. He took over the attacks on Frodo while Faramir stood behind the boy and corrected his stance and sword grip.

“One,” Perry said, and lunged. Frodo caught the blow on his own wooden blade.

“Hold there,” Faramir said. “Felt that in your arm, Frodo?” When the boy nodded he said, “Give way with your knees a little when you catch an overhead blow, then it won’t jar so much.” He demonstrated, and Frodo nodded. “Okay, continue.”

“Four.” This time Perry came in low at the knee, and Frodo suffered another slap against his leg.

“Point your sword down when you parry that one, son. You tried to catch it with the blade pointing up, and the blow was too low for that.”

Frodo nodded again and parried the next few of Perry’s hits without fault, even if he lacked finesse.

“Good,” Faramir said after a few more minutes. “Take a break, Frodo. Izzy, step up.”

Izzy fidgeted when he got up and cast an apprehensive glance at Tamsyn before accepting the sword from Frodo.

“Don’t mind Tamsyn,” Faramir said. “She’ll only be looking at Perry anyway.” He winked at her and she laughed, blushing again.

Perry grinned and took off his shirt, tossing it across a fence behind him. “Come on then, Izzy, let’s give her a show,” he said, also winking at Tamsyn. He stepped into an attack, and for close to ten minutes Tamsyn watched with growing admiration as the two brothers gave it their all. Perry was clearly the superior fighter, but Izzy gave a good account of himself and managed to land several hits.

“Enough,” Faramir called, and Izzy immediately let himself drop flat on his back to the ground, exhausted. Perry leaned his hands on his knees as he caught his breath, then held out a hand to Izzy to help him back up.

“You’re getting real good,” he said with a grin, and Izzy blushed like a tomato.

Tamsyn grinned at the boy as he walked back to the bench. “You did well there, but I reckon you ought to have hit him harder,” she said, nodding at Perry. “He still looks smug.”

Izzy glanced at Perry, then at Tamsyn, and gave her a tentative smile. He said nothing though, and Tamsyn figured that he would take longer to open up to her. It was a shame that she would never get the chance to get him that far. It made her smile fade, and her eyes turn distant.

“Copper for your thoughts,” Perry said in her ear, startling her.

“It’s not one you want to know about,” she replied, shaking her head. “It’s not one I want to have. Tell me, what’s the purpose of this practice? Hobbits are the most peaceful people I know of.”

“It’s something Pippin and Merry introduced, after the scouring of the Shire,” Perry replied. “They didn’t want hobbits to ever get caught out again. Oh, everyone handled themselves well enough at the time, but it would have been easier if we’d known how to fight.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “Initially they wanted all hobbits to learn, but after a few generations no one could be bothered anymore, except the Tooks and the Brandybucks. We’ve kept it going all this time.” Then he elbowed her playfully and added, “Besides, it’s great fun to give Pala a good kicking when he’s being an insufferable git again.”

Tamsyn laughed, but Faramir said, “Perry, don’t call your brother a git.”

“Bah, you know he can be,” Perry scoffed. “He’s such a goody-two-shoes that he’s never even nicked an apple from the larder without mother’s permission.”

“Whereas you, Peregrin Took, regularly need to be reprimanded for the disappearance of other people’s property,” Faramir said, giving his son a stern look. “I bumped into Tolman Chubb yesterday. He told me that one of his melons was stolen the day before. He seemed convinced that you had something to do with it. Hardly the behaviour you would expect from the son of the Thain, as I have told you many times before.”

Perry snorted. “Can he prove it was me?”

Faramir sighed. “No, but that’s hardly the–”

“It was me, actually,” Tamsyn interrupted him, her tone casual. She let that hang for a moment while four pairs of incredulous eyes turned to her.

“Tam–” Perry began, but she spoke over him.

“Faramir, please correct me if I’m wrong, I know that we in the Westmarch are a bit… aside from the hobbits in the four farthings, but the position of Thain, whilst one of authority, is mainly ceremonial, right?”

“Yes, it is,” Faramir confirmed, still astonished, “but–”

“And you are in charge of hobbit military affairs? I suppose that otherwise you mainly intervene in minor disputes, solve neighbourly quibbles?”

“Yes, I do. My dear, I don’t see where you are going with this.”

She smiled at him. “Faramir, from what I could see just now, Perry’s military capabilities seem more than sufficient, though I’ll admit that I’m hardly an expert. As for the stealing… I saw that patch of melons. Most of them were rotten, because Tolman doesn’t do anything with them. Why I don’t know; maybe he just doesn’t like sharing, but that doesn’t make it right to let them go to waste. Also, people will be happier about being judged if the person judging them is someone who they know has made mistakes himself. Someone who knows that no one is infallible. And lastly, was Pippin himself not known to often steal from Farmer Maggot’s crop?”

Faramir stared at her, dumbfounded, then he started to laugh. Quietly at first, but before long he was guffawing with such abandon that his sons all stared at him as if he’d sprouted another head.

“Tamsyn, you are an uncommonly wise girl,” he said eventually, nodding at her. “Come, Perry, show me that military prowess of yours again.”

He stood up and Perry followed, giving Tamsyn a look that promised he was going to kiss her senseless later, then took up position opposite his father. They started to spar, and Tamsyn once again feasted her eyes on Perry’s body.

Izzy scooted closer to her. “Did you really steal one of Farmer Chubb’s melons?”

Tamsyn’s mouth twitched. “Yes, I really did, but please don’t tell your mother, or she might not like me as much as she does now.”

“I won’t. Why are you staring at Perry so?”

She laughed. “I’m just admiring the view, Izzy.”

He gave his brother a critical look. “Girls like looking at that?” he asked, cocking his head dubiously.

“I can’t speak for all girls, but this one definitely does.”

“Okay,” he said, and scooted away again, still looking uncertain. Tamsyn concentrated on the fight, and when Perry and Faramir finally finished, they found her with a contented smile on her face.

“We’ve not bored you away yet then, my dear?” Faramir said.

“Not at all,” she replied. “I could watch this for days.” She stared at Perry as she said it, and Faramir chuckled.

“Good, just making sure. Come, boys, time to wash off the sweat, we’ve got a party to go to. Go get ready.”

“How long do we have?” Perry asked, his eyes locked with Tamsyn’s.

“Couple of hours. We’re expected around mid-afternoon.”

“Right. Time for a bucket of water and some food then, in that order,” Perry muttered, and strode off with a last smouldering look at Tamsyn.

“He’s very smitten with you, you know,” Faramir quietly said behind her. “I do hope you’re aware of it. For all that he can be difficult sometimes, he’s still my firstborn, my son, and I do not want to see him hurt.”

“Faramir, I adore Perry,” Tamsyn told him from the bottom of her heart. “I would never intentionally hurt him.” She did not look him in the eyes, however, since she could not hide the guilt in them. She knew that there was no way she could avoid hurting Perry unintentionally.

o–o-o–o

What will happen at the party? 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 Eleven)

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 ELEVEN – A CHAT WITH FARAMIR

“What party were you talking about?” Tamsyn asked as they strolled back to Great Smials, holding hands.

“It’s old Alderick Bolger’s one hundredth birthday this Highday,” Perry replied. “He’s throwing a big party to celebrate, you’ll enjoy it.”

If I’m still here, Tamsyn thought, but she didn’t voice it. Instead she said, “You’ll have to teach me the days of the week, before I get caught out by someone.”

“Sterday, Sunday, Monday, Trewsday, Hevensday, Mersday, Highday,” Perry rattled off.

“Not so fast! Again, more slowly please.”

Perry patiently repeated the list several times until Tamsyn thought she could remember it without difficulty, then she asked, “So what day is it today?”

“Hevensday.”

“Okay, so the party is… the day after tomorrow, right?”

Perry nodded, and Tamsyn spent the rest of the trip home repeating the list of days under her breath.

When they got to Great Smials, Perry halted her just outside the circle of light spilling from the kitchen window, and lifted her chin with a finger. “One more kiss, before I can’t touch you again,” he murmured, and Tamsyn gladly moved into his arms.

They kept a modest foot of distance between them when they finally walked inside, and Esme looked up and smiled at them. “Hello my dears, did you enjoy yourself today? What did you do?”

Tamsyn gave a general reply of assent to the first question, and Perry a non-committal response to the second. Then Tamsyn asked, “Anything I can help you with today, Esme? Sorry we weren’t back sooner.”

“Oh, that’s no problem, dear,” Esme said, waving her spoon in a magnanimous gesture. “Dinner won’t be long now, so just go and enjoy yourself a little longer. Why don’t you go sit outside? It’s still quite warm at the moment, and there’s a lovely sunset tonight.”

“There’s a bench a little over to the right,” Perry said. “Go ahead, Tam, I just realised there’s something I forgot to do.”

She nodded and left the house, wrapping her shawl close. For all that it was warm, the darkening day was starting to chill, and she was no longer running to keep warm, nor was she sharing her body warmth with Perry. The sunset was indeed lovely, blazing across the sky in pink, gold and red, and she sat down on the bench to watch it, drawing up her legs and hugging her knees.

For a while she was lost in thought, and she startled when someone ambled past her. At first she thought it was Perry, but when he stopped next to her she realised it was his father.

“Good evening, my dear,” he said. “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all, sir,” Tamsyn replied, scooting over to give him more room.

He waved a hand at her dismissively. “None of that ‘sir’ malarkey please. My name is Faramir.” He sat down and produced his long-stemmed pipe, which he lit before he spoke again. “So, I understand that you arrived here with old Radagast?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Has he woken up yet?”

“He hadn’t this morning. I’m… I’m beginning to get a little worried,” Tamsyn admitted, biting her lip.

Faramir gave another dismissive wave with his pipe. “Don’t you worry, my dear, I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s a wizard; they’re a lot tougher than they look. And in the  meantime we’re blessed with your delightful company. I do hope you’re enjoying yourself with us?”

“I am, Faramir, very much,” she replied. Privately she was still astonished at just how much she felt at home here. The smoke of Faramir’s pipe drifted past, and that too contributed to the sense of homeliness, even though back in England she had always detested smokers. But then, hobbit pipeweed smelled nothing like cigarette smoke, and she was growing to love the scent of it.

“So, you have spent today in the company of my son?” Faramir interrupted her musings.

“I have.”

“Tell me, Tamsyn, what do you think of him?”

She didn’t reply immediately, trying to take stock of her feelings. She was by now pretty sure that she was in love with Perry, but she didn’t feel that it was something she could admit to his father, certainly not when she was afraid to admit it to Perry. Yet when she tried to think of other ways to describe him, she found it very hard not to use words of love or attraction.

In the quiet, Faramir chuckled ruefully. “Ah, it’s like that, is it?”

“No, not at all,” she hastened to say. “I’m just having difficulty in finding the right words to describe him.”

He chuckled again. “Use as many as you feel necessary, my dear.”

“Okay… Intriguing. Strong. Funny. Clever. Capable, pleasant, unusual,” she listed, waiting a second before adding, “he is… unique.”

“Handsome?”

“Certainly,” she replied without even a moment’s hesitation. “He takes after you.”

“Ah, you flatter an old man.”

She smiled at him and shook her head. “Not at all, Faramir. He has your features, your nose. His mother’s eyes, though.”

“My, you’ve been studying him, haven’t you?” Tamsyn blushed, but his voice had been warm and approving, and after a few moments he added, “Ahh, but it’s good to see that there is at least one girl who my son is unable to scare off.”

“I’m not so easily scared,” she assured him with a smile.

“Good, good. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, Tamsyn.” Without further warning he stood up and disappeared, leaving her no time to say anything else, but with a feeling that she had somehow just passed a test.

Barely two seconds later another shape materialised out of the dusk, and this time it was Perry. She wondered whether Faramir had heard him coming, and had deliberately left so they could be alone.

Perry plunged down into the space his father had vacated, though he sat much closer to her, and Tamsyn leaned against him.

“Did I hear you talk to my father there?” he asked, trying – and failing – to sound casual.

“You did.”

“What did you talk about?”

“He wanted to know what I think of you.”

“Oh.” He was quiet for a second, and Tamsyn fought the urge to chuckle. “And?”

“I told him.”

“Told him what?”

“What I think of you.”

He sighed, and Tamsyn could no longer hold in her laughter. She could almost feel his reproachful look in the dark, but then he too started to snigger. “Are you always this insufferable?”

“Only to those who are fishing for compliments.”

“Ah-hah! So you’ve complimented me then?”

“I didn’t say that, I said you were fishing for them.” Then she relented. “Perry, I’ve not told him anything bad, if that’s what you’re worried about. I wouldn’t get you into trouble with your parents.” She sniggered and added, “Let’s face it, you hardly need my help with that anyway.”

“Oi,” he said, tugging at one of her braids. She could see that he was about to wrap his arm around her, but then the kitchen door opened and he hastily pulled it back.

“Dinner’s ready,” Donna said, and they went back inside.

 o–o-o–o

 After dinner Perry and Tamsyn went to check on Radagast again, and this time, finally, the old wizard opened his eyes when they entered his room.

“Ah, I was hoping I might see you before I fall asleep again,” he said, his voice even reedier than the first time Tamsyn had heard it.

“How are you feeling?” Perry asked.

“Tired… So, so tired,” he replied, closing his eyes.

Tamsyn picked up the bowl of cold porridge that they had left for him. “Here, you should eat something. Do you want me to warm it for you?”

Radagast shook his head. “Strange though it may sound, I am still too tired to eat. Some water would help, though.”

She held the glass while he drank, with Perry propping him up, and this time too she got the feeling that he was stronger for having drunk some. “Can you explain what’s going on yet?” she asked.

“Not tonight, Tamsyn… Come and see me tomorrow morning. You too, Peregrin, for I see you are bound to her already.”

Perry and Tamsyn looked at each other in confusion, but Radagast closed his eyes again, and before Perry had even lowered him back down he was already asleep.

“What did he mean?” Tamsyn asked. “And how did he know it’s nighttime?”

Perry gave an eloquent shrug. “He’s a wizard.”

“Well, hopefully we’ll find out more tomorrow,” Tamsyn said, then yawned. “I think I’m about ready for bed.” She turned to Perry and took his face in her hands, kissing him lightly on the mouth. “I had a wonderful day today, Perry. Thank you.”

“So did I, Tam. The best day of my life so far,” he replied, and his green eyes were so full of feeling that she could have drowned in them.

She walked to her bedroom, her heart as light as a feather, and found that someone had lit her bedside candle already. By its light she saw that the rose that Perry had given her the day before now rested in a small clay vase. She smiled to herself and turned to her bed, and her breath caught, for on her pillow was another red rose, from the same fragrant bush as the first one. She picked it up and sniffed it deeply, then placed it in the vase with the first one.

She fell asleep with a smile on her face and Perry in her dreams.

o–o-o–o

What will happen on Tamsyn’s third day in the Shire? 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.