13. Chapter 13
They made it home in time for Theo’s thirtieth birthday. Theo had a mix of emotions when Rose arrived with her family for the party. He wanted to give her the necklace, but he also didn’t want to see her with...whatever his name was.
He managed to smile pleasantly as he passed out the gifts to the Gamgees. When it was Rose’s turn, he reached into his pocket for her special gift. He placed the small box in her hand, making sure that his fingers lingered and brushed her palm. She took a sharp breath at the touch, then pulled her hand away. He tried to look at her, but she kept her eyes averted.
Then the handsome young hobbit was there. “Come along, Rose,” he said, taking her arm and to pull her away towards the party. The hobbit leaned over to whisper in Rose’s ear, then he looked up at Theo while Rose giggled at what he had said. Theo stared back. The hobbit gave a smug smile and turned back to Rose to kiss her cheek. Then they were gone, disappearing into the Hall. Theo clenched his fists.
“Sorry,” Frodo said, putting a comforting hand on Theo’s shoulder. “I tried to talk her out of bringing Mattas, but she seems to think it’s about time you got used to the idea.”
Theo clenched his jaw. “Maybe I don’t want to get used to the idea.”
Frodo clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, you’ve still got a chance, because they haven’t been betrothed yet.” Frodo leaned in to his ear. “And if you need any help, let me know.”
Theo was digging into the cake with Fari and Eomer when a very flustered Rose approached them. Theo’s heart pounded, anticipating what she would say to him.
“Theo, may I speak to you a moment?” she asked. Her voice was cold, tinged with anger.
“All right,” he said, shrugging, trying to keep his face neutral. Had he really expected her to just come running back to him?
“Alone?” she said, looking pointedly at Eomer and Fari.
Theo handed his plate to Fari. “Fine,” he said. “But I’m not going to make them leave. You come with me.” He grabbed her elbow and pulled her towards the Hall.
Rose stopped and pulled away. “Oh, no. We’re not doing this again!”
“I’m not going to your room!” she whispered, blushing.
“We’re going to my father’s study, Rose, as you did just request to speak to me alone. No one will interrupt us there.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “I don’t know what you were imagining, but it sounds quite naughty.”
He watched her face go an even deeper shade of red, not quite sure if it was in anger or embarassment, then he started walking towards the Hall again. He was going to leave it up to her to follow.
He was rewarded with footsteps behind him as he entered and turned down the hallway to his father’s study. He opened the door and gestured her inside.
“What is this?” she asked as soon as the door closed. She held up the small box he had given her.
He looked her in the eye. “It’s your gift.”
“So did everyone get one?”
“No. Only the lass I’m in love with.”
Rose closed her eyes and sighed. “Theo, you know we can’t... You know I’m being courted.”
“I know,” he said, walking towards her. “But you aren’t betrothed yet, so I’m doing nothing wrong.”
“Nothing wrong?” She opened the box and tipped the necklace into her hand. She pulled out the piece of paper it had been resting on, unfolding it and waving it in his face. “What is this supposed to mean?”
“It means, my dear Rose, that I love you. More than anything.” He moved closer to her, keeping their eyes locked. “I can’t remember ever not loving you.” He plucked the necklace from her hand. “I will love you until my last breath.” Still holding her gaze, he brought the necklace up to her neck, his hands pushing under her red curls. “I would go to the ends of the earth for you.” She didn’t move, her eyes still locked with his, as he brought the necklace around her neck. “I would die for you.”
He leaned closer until their faces were only inches apart. Her breath had quickened, her chest heaving--a bit distracting, really, but the elven clasp was easy to manage. “Would he die for you?”
Their breath was mingling, he was close enough to kiss her, but instead he leaned farther in, his breath ghosting her cheek, until he was able to whisper in her ear. “Will he love you like I do?” His lips brushed her ear and she shuddered. Then she pushed him away.
“No. No,” she said, finally finding her voice. She reached back for the clasp, looking away from him. “I can’t accept this. I can’t.” Her fingers fumbled under her hair for a moment. She was flustered--her breath quick, her cheeks pink. She finally parted the necklace and she held it out to him. “I can’t accept it.”
He looked her in the eyes. “Didn’t you read what I wrote? The poem? The explanation of the necklace? The elves believe that the knot represents undying love. It is my gift to you, Rose, and I can’t take it back. The choice is yours. If you don’t want it...” He shrugged. “Throw it in the river.”
He turned and left the study, leaving her holding the necklace. But instead of going back to the party, he went to his room. He couldn’t return to the crowds just yet. He collapsed on the bed, his body shaking from holding back his emotions. He had done his part, now it was up to her.
When he had regained his composure, he went back out to the party. As soon as he stepped out the door, Eomer, Fari and Frodo grabbed him and dragged him away to a quiet corner.
“Well?” Eomer asked.
“She was a little mad at me.” Theo shrugged. “I told her how much I love her and left her holding the necklace. Now she has to decide.”
“Great!” moaned Frodo. “Well, better luck with the next girl.”
“I told Frodo about the necklace. I hope you don’t mind,” Eomer said.
Theo shook his head. “No. Of course not.” Frodo was his closest friend besides his brother and cousin.
Ivy came over to them. “What did you say to Rose, Theo?” she asked. “She’s very upset and wanting to go home.”
“Oh.” Theo felt his heart sink. Well, there went the plan that she’d change her mind and come talk to him.
Ivy sighed. “Theo, what did you say to her?”
Theo shrugged. He quite honestly didn’t remember exactly what he’d said to her. Everything he’d planned to say had left him, and the words had just poured out, trying to convince her how much he loved her. He remembered what Arwen had said to him, about convincing Rose to turn back from the easy path. “I gave her a choice.”
Ivy gave a weak smile and slipped her arm around his shoulder. “Well, Theo, at least it seems it isn’t an easy one for her to make.” She gave him a squeeze. “And I’d avoid Mattas. Sam had to talk him out of coming after you for upsetting Rose.”
Theo shrugged. He wasn’t afraid of Mattas, not after spending the winter getting fighting lessons from Elboron and Théodred. Rose was the only thing he worried about now. He’d done his part. Now it was up to her.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.