14. Chapter 14
Fari pushed his way through the crowd, past the Party Tree and down the hill towards Bag End. It was there that he finally found her.
Rose was surrounded by sisters and cousins, all of them fluttering around her, fixing her hair and adjusting the ribbons on her dress. A lass had to look her best on the day she was officially betrothed.
Fari caught Goldi’s eye and Goldi turned to her sister, tugging on Rose’s hand. She pointed toward Fari and Rose looked up at him.
Fari was satisfied to see the guilt in her eyes. But she plastered on a smile and nodded at him. “Fari,” she said.
“Rose,” Fari said, but he didn’t nod his head in return. “It’s traditional to give congratulations and wish luck on a day like today. But today I will be doing neither.” The chatter of the girls came to a halt.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Rose said. All eyes turned to him.
“You’re a liar, Rose Gamgee.” The girls all stared at him, wide-eyed. Goldi gasped and covered her mouth. “I certainly won’t wish you well on something that’s a lie.”
“I think you should leave,” Rose said coldly.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be staying to see this,” Fari said, never breaking his gaze. “I only wanted to come to make sure you knew what you were doing. My cousin loves you, with all his heart. And you found it necessary to rip out his heart, because it was easier than loving him back.”
Rose’s face softened, her eyes filling with tears. “I never wanted to--”
“I can’t believe you’d let a bunch of narrow-minded people turn you from him.” Fari’s voice was shaking with anger now. “Don’t you remember how people talked about Ivy, too? They said lots of bad things about her and Dad. But you know how happy they are. Every bad thing that anyone ever said about them means absolutley nothing because they truly love each other.”
Rose didn’t say anything. She was obviously upset, though, her fists and jaw clenched. Fari took a step forward and leaned close to her. “Did you throw it in the river?” he asked.
Rose gasped and Goldi gave her sister a puzzled look. The other girls were starting to whisper to each other, their curiosity evident. Rose closed her eyes to him. “Leave,” she said, her voice shaking, barely a whisper.
Fari straightened and took a step back. He turned away, then stopped, pausing for a moment before turning back. “Maybe you will be happy,” he said, “but if you aren’t, would you do me a favor?” His voice broke. “Try not to blame your children.” He turned and walked away as fast as he could, needing to get away. He startled when a hand grabbed his arm. Goldi had caught up with him.
“Are you all right, Fari?” she asked.
“No.” He pulled his arm away and continued walking, down to the stables at the end of Bagshot Row. Frodo was standing at the door, holding Anduril’s reins.
“Thanks, Frodo,” Fari said.
Frodo nodded. “I don’t suppose you changed her mind?”
Fari just shook his head. He was shaken by what had happened. He hadn’t meant to mix his own life into this. It had just come out of him from somewhere.
Frodo must have noticed, because he watched him with narrowed eyes. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, Frodo, thanks.” Fari mounted Anduril. “I’m off to Buckland now. Hopefully, Eomer has managed to keep Theo out of the river.”
“Tell him...” Frodo sighed. “I guess there really isn’t anything I can say, is there?” He shook his head. “I’ll be out tomorrow to see him.”
He clasped hands with Fari, then Fari encouraged his pony to get out of Hobbiton as quickly as possible.
Frodo leaned against the the wall of the stable, absently stroking the nose of a pony. He wouldn’t attend the ceremony. He’d explained to Emerald and she had nodded and kissed him and if anyone asked, she’d tell them he wasn’t feeling well and had gone home to lie down. Frodo sighed. He just couldn’t bring himself to pretend to be happy when one of his dearest friends was so miserable and it was his sister’s fault. And he couldn’t bear to look at Rose, because he knew the truth. Goldi had told him how Rose had cried every night since the betrothal was set. Goldi would pretend to sleep and watch her sister weep silent tears and clutch a small box to her heart. Frodo knew what was in that box. And it was the contents of that box and Rose’s tears and a flicker of a fool’s hope that made him come down to the stable to saddle a pony and have it waiting.
The clock chimed noon and Theo’s fists clenched, his eyes shut tight to hold back the tears. It would be over now. He hated Queen Arwen for ever giving him hope. He had failed. A little over a week after giving her the elven pendant, Rose’s betrothal was announced. And now, a week after the announcement, he had lost her forever. He felt Eomer kneel in front of him, taking his hands and loosening his fists.
“It’s only the betrothal,” Eomer said softly. “There’s still hope.”
Theo shook his head. “No. She made her choice.”
He clenched his jaw, fighting the urge to cry, rant, scream. He knew he would have to make himself move on, but today he would mourn his lost love.
He opened his eyes and looked into Eomer’s. Eomer had their Mum’s eyes and right now they were filled with concern and love.
Eomer got up and shoved him over a little to sit on the edge of the chair. He pulled Theo into his arms and Theo didn’t fight the tears anymore.
Noise from the crowd up the hill startled Frodo from his thoughts. It couldn’t be over with already? He slumped back against the wall for a moment. He had hoped...well, it had been a fool’s hope. There was no use dwelling on it now. It was done. He patted the pony, handing him a piece of carrot from his pocket. Might as well put him back in the stall. He moved next to the stallion, using hands and words to soothe him, and reached for the buckle of the girth.
The pony nearly kicked him in fright when the back door to the stable banged open. Rose stood there, tears streaming down her face.
“I...” she gasped, surprise at his presence in the stable evident on her face.
Frodo grabbed the pony’s reins to calm him. “There’s some food and a flask of water in the saddle bags,” he said. They stared at each other a moment longer, then she was in his arms.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed.
He pushed her away to look in her face. “It’s not me who needs the apology.”
She nodded, embracing him again. “I’ve been such an idiot, Frodo,” she sobbed, clutching her brother tight. “Do you think he’ll forgive me?”
Frodo pulled back to look at her again, knowing that she wasn’t talking about Mattas. “He’ll forgive you, Rose. He loves you.”
She nodded, threatening to cry again. Frodo knew he had to get her on her way before they were found, so no one could try to change her mind. “Let’s get you going,” he said, leaning over to boost her up, but the door flew open again, startling them.
Rather than being angry relatives, it was Goldi. She hurried in. “I told them you went to bed and want to be alone for a while. Mum’s probably in the hall consoling an empty room right now.” She grinned. “I am in so much trouble.”
“Thank you,” Rose said. She pulled Goldi into a hug. Then Goldi backed away. “You’d better hurry, before they figure it out,” she said. “And don’t forget this.”
Goldi reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out a small box. Rose gasped. “But, how...” She took the box, then looked back at Goldi. “How did you have time to get it? It was under...”
“I’ve had it in my pocket all morning.”
Rose choked back a sob. “You both knew I wouldn’t be able to go through with it?”
“We suspected,” Frodo said. “And hoped.” He passed the reins to Goldi to keep the pony steady, then bent down again, cupping his hands for Rose’s foot. “Now let’s get you on this pony and off to Buckland. He’s the fastest pony in the Shire, so he should have you there by supper.” He boosted Rose into the saddle and the pony danced beneath her, eager to be off. She took the reins from Goldi, then smiled at them. “I love you both,” she said. “Tell everyone...” she stopped and sighed.
“We’ll take care of it,” said Frodo. He could hear someone calling Rose’s name up the hill. “Go!”
She blew them a kiss and turned the pony, kicking him into a gallop and out the front doors.
Frodo turned to Goldi. He pulled her into a hug and swung her around, both of them laughing. The back door opened again and their very frazzled-looking father peeked in.
“Have you seen Rose?” he asked.
Frodo and Goldi looked at each other. There was no use lying about it. “She’s gone, Dad,” Frodo said.
Their father just sighed. “I suspose I don’t have to ask where she’s gone.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I need to go smooth some ruffled feathers. That girl has caused a right mess of trouble.” He left, closing the door behind him.
Frodo grinned at Goldi “I feel like celebrating!” he said and offered her his arm. “Would you like to join me, dear sister?”
Goldi took his arm and smiled back at him. “I would love to, dear brother.” Then she paused for a moment, brows furrowed in thought. “Wasn’t that Uncle Pippin’s pony?”
Frodo shrugged and laughed. “I didn’t think he’d mind.”
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.