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.

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.