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.

A Shire Romance (Part Thirty)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

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

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

PART THIRTY – WELCOME BACK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 o–o-o–o

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o–o-o–o

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

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

A Shire Romance (Part Twenty-nine)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

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

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

PART TWENTY-NINE – REUNION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you weren’t?”

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

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

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

“What? Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And do they know the truth?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o–o-o–o

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

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

A Shire Romance (Part Twenty-eight)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

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

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

PART TWENTY-EIGHT – BACK TO THE SHIRE

With the truth now out, Tamsyn spent all of her remaining time in a frenzy of activity with Andy, planning her departure down to the minutest details. She made sure that to the public and the paparazzi she still presented the same melancholy image of the past months, but as the twenty-second of May came ever closer, she became jittery with anticipation.

Much as she hated to fake something as traumatic and serious as suicide, Tamsyn had not been able to think of any other way to accomplish her disappearance, and she and Andy had decided that it would ‘take place’ at Beachy Head on the south coast of England. Sadly enough it was a popular location for it, but the lack of a body could be attributed to it being washed away with the tide. Tamsyn would leave her car there with a suicide note, then disguise herself and take public transport to Somerset, paying in cash all along the way.

Andy booked himself and Rhys onto a two-week Caribbean cruise which was due to start a week before the designated date of the meeting with Radagast, and the night before his departure he and Tamsyn spent talking and saying their goodbyes.

“I will miss you, you know,” Tamsyn said at one point, squeezing his hand.

“I know,” he replied, squeezing hers back. “I’ll miss you too. But I’ll know where you are, and that you’ll be happy, and I’ll have Rhys to distract me.”

“I’m sorry you can’t tell him what will really happen to me.”

“That’s a secret I’ll just have to live with. I’ll be fine, Tam. Just look after yourself, and make sure you don’t get recognised on your way to Somerset.”

“Mmm, I’ve got a foolproof way to ensure that,” she said with a smile.

“Oh?”

“I’ll wear a pair of shoes.”

 o–o-o–o

The last few days on her own Tamsyn spent pacing around the house, then on the twentieth of May she could finally set her plan in motion. She checked her disguise in the mirror – a plain headscarf to hide her hair and baggy, nondescript clothing to hide her figure – then tucked a pair of running shoes in her bag and left the house. There was a lone photographer camped on the pavement, and she made sure he got a good shot before she got in her car. She knew she had gained little weight and that her pallor was unfashionably pale, which would confirm her distressed state of mind.

The drive to Beachy Head took a few hours, and she arrived there late in the evening. She knew there were always suicide patrols scanning the area, so when a man approached her car she quickly drove away again and returned an hour later.

She abandoned the car and walked through the night, then just before dawn she donned the scarf and put on the shoes. They felt tight and constricting after so many months without, but she shrugged off the feeling and headed for the nearest village to find a bus going west.

The trip to Bristol was long and dreary, made worse by the usual hiccups and glitches in the British public transport system, but once there she found a local bus service which took her to the village near the site. From there she set out on foot, as if going out for a hike.

She was tired to the bone when she finally got to the site. The fences had gone, since the nature reserve was accessible to all, and at the first bin she could find she took off everything but her underwear, then wrapped herself into a picnic blanket. A pile of abandoned clothes might raise suspicions, but an abandoned blanket was unlikely to. She wasn’t certain about the underwear, but she had to draw a line somewhere, even if she was almost too tired to care. Once she reached the portal she wrapped herself into the blanket and fell into exhausted sleep.

Dawn tickled her awake, damp and shivering. To pass the time she combed out her hair with her fingers, then started counting birds, wondering with every one whether it was one of the shrikes. Around mid-morning her nerves got the better of her and she started pacing, increasingly worried that Radagast wouldn’t show. Then, after yet another fifteen-pace circle, she turned and found him looking at her.

“Radagast!” she called, weak with relief, and ran to him, hugging him with one arm and clutching the blanket to her with the other.

“Good day, Tamsyn,” he said, giving her a bemused look. “Do you have good news for me?”

“Good news, and a request,” Tamsyn said, her heart now beating in her throat.

“Very well, I’m listening.”

“The news is that the site is secure. It is a nature reserve for as long as my money can pay for it. I’ve made sure that that’s a very long time.”

Radagast breathed a sigh of relief. “That is the best news you could give me. I have news for you too. Or rather, a message.”

“From…?”

“From the Thain. He listened to my story, and asked me to pass on his gratitude, if I ever saw you again. He said he understood, though it saddened him.”

“And… and Perry?”

“Peregrin did not look well, I’m afraid. He cried when I passed on your message, and his words in return are that he loves you still, and misses you more with every day.”

Tamsyn let out her pent up breath. “When did you speak to them?”

“When I returned, six months ago. I have not seen them since. I have been at home, in Rhosgobel. Now, what is your request?”

Tamsyn straightened and looked him in the eyes. “Please, take me back with you.”

He looked at her for a full minute before he spoke. “You are sure of this?”

“Absolutely. There is nothing left for me here. Please, take me back, turn me back into a hobbit and let me stay in the Shire forever. The spell… the spell is permanent, right?” She felt a sudden stab of terror as it occurred to her that it might not be.

“Yes, the spell is permanent,” he replied, and she nearly collapsed in relief.

“I’m serious, Radagast. All my affairs are in order and Andy will take on everything I own. But for me… Well, matters are very simple. I cannot live without Perry.”

He looked at her for a moment more, and Tamsyn felt like he was scrutinising her soul again, like on the first day she had met him. Then he smiled, and it was as if the sun appeared from behind the clouds. “Very well, Tamsyn Moriarty,” he said. “I believe you will make a certain young hobbit very happy today. Let us delay no further.”

He held out his hand, and this time she gripped it willingly, closing her eyes in anticipation as the wind started whipping round her and Radagast’s voice echoed in her ears. For the third time, the world around her went black as she lost consciousness.

o–o-o–o

The first thing she noticed when she came to was the purity of the air around her. This time it smelled like spring, and the slightly moist ground felt warm to the touch. Once her dizziness and blurred vision had passed she checked her feet, and nearly cried with joy when she found them to be large and hairy. Her ears were next, and tapered to a very satisfying point. She once again wore a shift-like garment and nothing else, and when she called for Radagast and found him, he towered over her like a giant. He was also exhausted again, and she tried to catch him as he sat down hard on the ground.

“I’m afraid I can’t carry you this time,” she said, “but I’ll send help for you, I promise.”

“It’s fine, Tamsyn, there is nothing here that could or would harm me. Go find your young man, I’ll be fine.” With that he fell asleep, and Tamsyn looked around to try and get her bearings. It had been mid-morning back in England, so logic dictated it would be mid-morning in the Shire too. She peered at the sun through the trees, determining an approximate south, then turned west, towards where she knew Great Smials should be.

She started off at a walk, but broke into a trot when she found a well-worn path. By the time it led to the big boulder that marked the boundary of the Smials garden proper she was out of breath, though she didn’t slow down. The bright green Smials door was wide open and she dashed inside and to the kitchen, knowing that even if Perry wasn’t there, she’d at least find Esme.

The hobbit matron sat at the table, together with a young woman who bore a striking resemblance to Perry, though her hair was brown like Faramir’s. She was nursing a baby with a head of bright auburn hair, and both women looked up in surprise at Tamsyn.

Esme gasped and fainted, sliding to the floor with a thump.

“Oh, shit,” Tamsyn muttered, running over and trying to drag the woman back upright. She gave a sheepish grin at the younger woman, who was hampered by the baby at her breast, and said, “Uh, hi. You must be Diamond.”

The woman’s smile widened. “So I am. And I can guess who you must be, judging by your looks and my mother’s reaction. Here, use this.” She handed Tamsyn the baby’s wiping cloth and pointed at a cup of water on the table.

Tamsyn poured a little water on the cloth and wiped Esme’s forehead with it until the woman came to. When she focused on Tamsyn she nearly fainted again, but then she clamped her into an embrace that left her breathless.

“Tamsyn, is that really you?” she whispered.

“Yes, Esme. I’m back.”

She helped the woman back to her feet and suffered another rib-cracking hug. “Oh, you’re a sight for sore eyes! Let me look at you!” She pushed Tamsyn to arm’s length and tutted. “You look as bad as he does, poor lamb. Come, sit down, tell me everything! Are you here to stay? Do you want something to eat?”

“Mother!” Diamond’s voice was amused. “Don’t you think there’s someone else she’d rather speak to first?”

Tamsyn gave her a grateful look, while Esme put a hand to her mouth. “Oh! Of course, what am I thinking?”

“Where is he?” Tamsyn asked, turning to Diamond for further help.

“He’s on the hill with my husband,” the woman replied with a warm smile. “I’m sure you know the spot.”

“I do, thank you,” Tamsyn said, then rushed back outside without a further word.

o–o-o–o

How has Perry been in Tamsyn’s absence? Find out in the next installment of  A Shire Romance! The story will be a weekly release until completion.  

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

A Shire Romance (Part Twenty-seven)

A classic romance with a Hobbit twist!

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

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

PART TWENTY-SEVEN – TAMSYN’S PLAN

Several months passed, with Tamsyn dividing her time between library visits and long sessions in her office at home, during which she locked the door and refused to speak to anyone, even Andy. He was getting increasingly worried about her, especially since on those rare occasions when she wasn’t in her study, she went back to sitting on the window sill in her living room, staring out the window without seeing anything.

Preparations for the nature reserve were making good progress. The Donnan brothers finally admitted defeat when the ornithologist sent through a euphoric report on two red-backed shrikes who had made their nest at the site, and Tamsyn was finally able to buy it for three and a half million pounds.

The first thing she did was create a charitable institution to take over the ownership of it, and to establish it as a nature reserve for as long as the charity could look after it. For this she set up a separate fund with enough money that the charity could run itself without running into financial difficulty. It took some months for all the paperwork to be sorted out, but at the end of March Tamsyn held the final certificate that declared the Somerset Portal Nature Reserve to be a reality, now and in perpetuity. It was the final proof that Middle-Earth, the Shire and Perry’s family would be safe, and it was a cause for celebration.

When Andy suggested they go out for a meal, he was surprised at Tamsyn’s instant agreement. Hoping he would finally get a chance to question her on her months of seclusion he reserved a table at an exclusive restaurant in London, knowing the tables would be screened from other dinner guests to give them privacy.

Tamsyn had grown pale, and her once curvaceous body was now plain skinny. Andy knew she ate – he encouraged her whenever he was around – but she rarely finished her plate, and he did not think she enjoyed any of her meals anymore. She had started featuring in gossip magazines, always on the lookout for scandal, and as the eighteenth richest woman in Britain, not to mention a bachelorette, the public lapped it up. The magazines focused on her court case, her wan appearance and her strange refusal to wear shoes.

On the day of the meal Tamsyn took a taxi from the library to the restaurant rather than letting Andy chauffeur for her, and she arrived a little later than she had intended. She spotted Andy at the bar and was about to go to him when she was intercepted by the maitre d’.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said. “I’m afraid you cannot enter without shoes.” He pointed at her feet, as if she didn’t know where shoes were supposed to be, and Tamsyn narrowed her eyes at him. She had once been a regular customer of this restaurant, and although she had not visited since her return from Middle-Earth, she had not expected anyone to bar her entry. But then, this maitre d’ appeared to be new; she had not seen him before.

“Why can I not enter without shoes?” she asked, impatience lacing her voice.

“Dress code, ma’am,” he said, pointing at a sign on the wall.

“No trainers, flip-flops, slippers or hiking boots,” she read out loud, then looked at her feet. “I’m not wearing any of those, so I don’t see the problem.”

A hint of uncertainty crept into the face of the young man, who had clearly not expected such an assertive response. Tamsyn was not by nature arrogant, but had learned early enough that it was sometimes necessary to fake the arrogance that only the very rich could afford to display. She stared the young man down, and he shifted uncomfortably to his other leg.

“It is implied that neat shoes should be worn, ma’am,” he insisted, though he lacked his earlier conviction.

Deep down Tamsyn knew he was only doing his job, but she had little patience for anyone but Andy these days. “Implied, is it?” she snapped. “Well, it is implied that if I receive good service at this restaurant, I might frequent it again and recommend it to my associates. However, it is also implied that if I don’t, I shall be directing people to the Golden Pheasant instead. Now run along and fetch your manager, I’m fed up with standing here.”

He was spared the trip: at that point the manager came trotting up with Andy in tow. “Miss Moriarty,” he said with an air of forced conviviality. “Please excuse young Daniel here, he is new and unaware of our special regard for you. Please, do follow me, we have our best table ready for you.”

Tamsyn swept after him without a further glance at the hapless maitre d’ and gave the manager a gracious nod as he pulled back her chair for her. He took their drink orders and left, and Andy raised an eyebrow at her.

“That maitre d’ will be in trouble, methinks,” he remarked, his voice neutral.

Tamsyn sniffed. “Serves him right, the officious git.”

“Serves him right for what, not knowing who you are?”

“For not realising that only super-rich eccentrics show up in posh restaurants without shoes on. Besides, if Richard Branson turned up in jeans and trainers, do you really think they’d turn him away for not sticking to the dress code?” She snapped her menu shut and signalled a waiter. “Ready to order? I am.”

They both placed their order, then Tamsyn folded her hands, suddenly looking nervous. “Andy, we need to talk,” she said, then rummaged in the briefcase she had brought with her. “And here, this is for you,” she added, sliding an envelope across the table to him.

He stared at her in surprise, the initiative taken out of his hands, then opened the envelope and scanned the papers inside. “Last will and testament of Tamsyn Moriarty…” He looked at her in consternation. “A will? Tam, what are you planning?”

“Suicide. Well,” she added with a little wave, “not really, but to all intents and purposes.”

Andy’s initial shock turned to confusion. “You what? You’re not making sense, Tam.” He took her hands, and his voice turned anguished. “I know you miss Perry, but you… surely there’s no need to end it all? You’ve so much to live for and–”

“Oh, shush,” she interrupted him. “The suicide is just a cover. I’m going back to the Shire. Back to Perry.”

The comment hung in the air, and Andy could not respond, for at that moment the waiter arrived with their wine. They waited until the wine had been tested and poured, then Andy focused on Tamsyn again.

“You’re going back? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“It’s the best idea I’ve had in six months,” Tamsyn said quietly. “There’s nothing left for me here. I’ve tried to live without Perry, tried to find something to occupy me, but there is nothing. I left my life back in the Shire, and I’ll only get it back by going back to him.”

“But… but what about your work?”

“What about it? You think I enjoy the court case? The snipes I’ve started getting from the board? The kind of shit I have to deal with when we contract with twats like the Donnans? Andy, I’ve not enjoyed my job for a long while, not since dad died, and it’s at the bottom of the list of things I might miss in the Shire.”

“Okay, but you admit you have a list. What about your wealth? You can do anything you want, buy anything you want over here.”

“And what use is money without someone to share it with? Besides, the Tooks are rich too, both in land and money. I shan’t be any worse off as Perry’s wife.”

“What about food?” Andy insisted. “There are no Italian restaurants in the Shire, no Thai takeaways, no curry houses.”

Tamsyn laughed, a genuine, exuberant laugh which was all the more surprising for having been absent for so many months. “You mention food when I’m going to be a hobbit? Andy, every single dish I’ve eaten in the six days I spent there tasted ten times better than anything I’ve ever eaten in London’s most exclusive restaurants. Here, look at this.” She gestured at the morsel of food on her fork. “Smoked pheasant with some exotic fruit chutney. Do you honestly think it tastes better than Esme’s pork cutlets with her special gravy? Take my word for it: it doesn’t.” She ate the piece of meat and waved her fork around. “Besides, do you think I’ve been idle these past months? I’ve studied all sorts of cook books so I know how to make my own pasta, and how to combine spices and herbs to obtain certain flavours. The Shire doesn’t have every herb you can buy over here, but you’d be surprised at the ones they do have, and I have a lifetime ahead of me to experiment.”

“So that’s what you’ve been doing all these months,” Andy said in sudden understanding.

Tamsyn nodded. “I’ve studied. Not just pasta making and cooking, but also how to preserve vegetables for winter, how to card wool and weave fabrics. How to keep things fresh when you don’t have a fridge and anything else I could think of that I might need over there. I’m sure Esme can teach me a lot of it, but I wanted to be prepared.”

“How long have you been planning this?” Andy asked, slumping back in his chair.

“Since, uh, just after New Year,” Tamsyn admitted, lowering her eyes. “I realised there’s nothing left to live for over here.”

“And you waited until now to tell me?” The hurt in his voice was obvious.

“I’m sorry, Andy. I was afraid that you’d do exactly what you’re doing now.”

“What I’m doing… What am I doing, Tam?” he asked, confused.

“Trying to dissuade me from doing this,” she replied, scratching at a mark on the tablecloth.

He took a breath to reply, then let it out again. “I am, aren’t I?” Then he leaned forward and grabbed her hand. “Tam, I’m your friend. I’m trying to look out for you. If you really feel you need to go back then I’ll help you, of course, but I need to make sure that you know what you’re doing, that you’re fully aware of what you’re letting yourself in for.”

“I’m letting myself in for spending the rest of my life with the man I love.” She finally raised her head again, and her gaze was steady and full of conviction.

“A life without plumbing, or hot water on command?”

“They have a pump, an unlimited supply of firewood and are in no hurry to get things done.” Tamsyn countered. “Besides, I have an engineering degree. I have some ideas.”

“You’d modernise the Shire?” Andy said, aghast. “The last one who tried that was Saruman, and look where that got him.”

“I’m not stupid, Andy. I’m talking little things, nothing that will impede upon the landscape.”

He blushed. “I know you’re not. As I said, I’m just making sure you know what you’re doing.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand. “I know, and I do appreciate it, but I really have thought this over thoroughly. Go on, give me more objections. I can counter them all.”

Andy tilted his head, then smiled back. “Okay. What about music? There’s no radio in the Smials, no CD or mp3 player.”

Tamsyn chuckled. “Can you remember what my music collection consists of?”

“Uh, The Dubliners, RunRig, The Chieftains… mostly Irish folk music, right?”

She nodded. “Now guess what hobbit party music sounds like?”

“Fine, another point for you,” Andy said as their main course arrived. He waited a moment for the waiters to disappear again, then said, “What about television? Films? You can’t go to the cinema there.”

“No, that’s true, but whether I’d miss it?” She shrugged. “I can do without the X-Factor or Big Brother, and while there are some classic films out there, none of them are good enough that I’d choose an evening watching them over an evening in bed with Perry.”

“Right, ah…” Andy gave an embarrassed cough, then pointed at her. “About that. No contraceptives in the Shire, surely?”

“And? I don’t see a problem there. I want his children, Andy. I know I haven’t shown much of a motherly instinct before, but this is different. I want to be the mother of Perry’s children.”

“And what if you fall ill?” Andy asked softly. “What if pregnancy gives you trouble? What if you have difficulty giving birth?”

She shrugged again. “Hobbits are a hardy race, remember? Besides, they have a healer. Melilot, I think her name was. Look, I can pick up some nasty virus here just as easily. It’s not an issue.”

“What about electricity? Central heating?”

“Electricity operates those things I do not need except lights, and for that they have candles and oil lamps. As for the heating: Great Smials is a hobbit hole in a hill. No house will be better insulated.”

Andy shook his head, smiling despite himself. “You really have thought this through, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I have. I’ve looked at it from every possible angle, and always reached the same conclusion: I miss Perry as much as when I just left him, and I’ll never be truly happy again without him.”

Andy nodded, then lowered his eyes and fussed at his food with his fork. “And what about me?”

Tamsyn looked down and bit her lip, then gestured at the envelope she had given him earlier. “Please look at those papers more closely, Andy,” she said, then feigned undivided attention on her food.

He frowned at her, taking out the papers again. “What am I looking for?” he asked, then froze when he saw the name on the will. “Oh,” he said. Then again, “Oh.”

“I know that once I’m gone we’ll never see each other again,” Tamsyn said, still avoiding his eyes, “and that’s the only thing I’ve been able to think of that I would truly miss in the Shire: your friendship. But even though you’re like a brother to me, I cannot choose you over Perry. I just can’t. But that,” she gestured at the document, “that is something I can do for you. I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

He still sat there with the will in his hand, staring at the legalese that stated that Tamsyn Moriarty, declared to be of sound mind and body, would bequeath everything she owned to Andrew McIntyre in the event of her death.

“So you’re buying me off?” he asked, swallowing hard.

“No!” she protested, eyes wide. “Andy, you’re the only friend I have, and I have no more living relatives who can lay claim to any of this. It has to go to you, and it’s nothing to do with… with compensation for anything.”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” He wiped at his eyes, and Tamsyn grabbed his free hand.

“I’m sorry too, Andy. Don’t think I won’t miss you, but you don’t need me cluttering up your life. You shouldn’t have to look after me, and worry about me. Once I’m gone you can start living your own life again. Maybe even find a love of your own.”

He gave her a wistful smile. “That, at least, I may already have done,” he admitted.

Tamsyn sat up. “You have a boyfriend?”

Andy nodded, then shrugged. “I’d have told you, but you were rather preoccupied. Remember that group of solicitors you hired to sort through the company records? I hit it off with one of them.”

“Preoccupation or no, I’m sorry I never noticed that. What’s his name?”

“Rhys,” Andy said, a blush creeping up. “Rhys Jones.”

“Ahh, the cute Welsh one? He’s got beautiful eyes,” Tamsyn said. “So when did this start?”

“Uhh, Christmas. We, um, got a little drunk, and one thing led to another, and well…” He gave an embarrassed shrug and Tamsyn laughed.

“Well, that’s one load off my mind then,” she said with a smile. “So all that’s left is to plan my supposed suicide, and in such a way that it can’t even hint at murder.”

Andy’s head shot up. “M…murder?”

“Come on, if I disappear and leave my entire fortune to you, do you really think people won’t cry murder? We have to ensure you’re completely above suspicion, especially as there won’t be a body to find. I think you should go on holiday a few days before I go, to somewhere far away. Take Rhys with you, so he can testify that you’ve not come back to kill me.”

Andy nodded slowly. “I can see your logic. I…” He hesitated, then said, “I guess I won’t be seeing you off back to the Shire then.”

Tamsyn sagged. “No, I guess you won’t. I’m sorry.”

“Well…” He took a deep breath and smiled, though it looked shaky. “You’ll just have to pass on my regards to Radagast then. And tomorrow… tomorrow I’ll come and help you to plan for this.”

She smiled back. “You’re a gem, Andy, truly. I’m sorry for neglecting you all this time, I couldn’t have made it this far without you.”

“It’s okay. Come, let’s eat up and get back, we’ve got work to do tomorrow, and I want to check out a few things tonight.”

“Such as?”

He grinned. “Caribbean cruises. If I have to go on holiday, I want to do something I’ve always dreamed of.”

Tamsyn laughed. “Fair enough, let’s pay then. I’ve had enough.”

o–o-o–o

Will Tamsyn’s plan be possible? 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.