16. Chapter 16
Theo didn’t want the dream to end. He’d dreamed that Rose had run away from her betrothal and came back to him, had declared her love for him, but if he opened his eyes the wonderful dream would be gone. He’d awaken all alone in his bed and Eomer would be in any minute to nag him about eating breakfast.
A soft sigh from the other side of his bed made his eyes shoot open and he turned his head. Rose was curled up next to him, her red curls spread out on the pillow, her cheek cradled on her hand. His stomach did a flip--it hadn’t been a dream.
He watched her sleeping face for a moment, still marked with streaks where her tears had made tracks in the dust from her journey. She had a slight smile on her face, though. He could only hope the smile was about him.
Then his stomach rumbled, reminding him it was morning, and he sat up to look at the clock. They’d missed breakfast, but it was just about time for second breakfast. He lay back down and rolled over to Rose to kiss her gently. She awoke with a start, then smiled up at him. “It wasn’t a dream, then?” she asked.
“No, no dream.” He kissed her again. She smiled beneath the kiss and ran her fingers through his hair. Theo sighed and pulled her closer. He was thinking about skipping second breakfast as well, but then she moved her leg, pressing into his growing arousal. He gasped and rolled away from her.
“What’s the matter?” she asked.
“Erm...” How could he explain? It’s not like he could control it. And would she be angry? He tugged the blanket up over his hips to hide his... problem.
She looked down his body, to where his hands were clutching the blanket. “Oh.” She turned away, blushing, staring off past the end of the bed.
“Rose, uh, it’s just--”
She looked back at him. “I know. Mum’s explained things to me.” She rolled towards him and smiled. “Maybe we’d better stop for now?”
He smiled back, happy that she didn’t seem upset about it. “It is about time for second breakfast.”
She chuckled, the awkwardness melting away. “Mum said you lads like your meals almost as much as you like... you know.” Rose’s eyes flicked down his body again and her cheeks flushed, but she was grinning. She sat up, holding the blanket up to keep herself covered. “Can you turn around so I can get dressed?”
Theo sat up. “I’ll leave you to it. I need to use the privy.” He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, then swung out of bed--a bit uncomfortably--and made a quick exit out of his room and down the hall.
When he returned, Rose was struggling with the laces of her dress. She’d washed the dusty tear tracks from her face and a ribbon that looked like it had been plucked from her dress was holding back her unruly curls.
“Can you help me?” she asked and turned her back to him. Theo took the laces and pulled them tight, working his way up the bodice. He was suddenly reminded of all the times as a boy that he’d watched his father do this same thing for his mother.
“I’m afraid the dress is ruined,” Rose said, “It’s all stained from the pony and I caught the skirt on a fence when I stopped for lunch. I think it’s only good for rags now. Could you ask one of your cousins if I could borrow...?” She looked at him over her shoulder. “Theo, are you all right?”
Theo started, realizing he was just standing there, holding the half-done laces, lost in thought. “This just reminded me...my dad always did this for my mum.” He shrugged and smiled. “It just made me realize how much I want to do this for you for the rest of my life.”
“I want you to do this for me for the rest of my life,” Rose whispered.
Theo finished the laces, then stepped close to her, slipping his arms around her waist and and nuzzling his nose against her ear. Rose leaned back into him and lifted her hand to thread her fingers into his curls. They stood like that for a moment, just being together, then Rose sighed.
“We should go,” she said softly. She turned in his arms and gave him a quick kiss, then pulled away.
Theo took her hand and led her to the door. “Are you ready to face Brandy Hall?” he asked.
Rose sighed. “I’m ready.”
Theo gave her an encouraging smile and squeezed her hand. He opened the door, stepped out into the hall, and nearly walked right into his father and Éowyn. They were supposed to be staying at Great Smials.
“Dad!” Theo exclaimed. “You’re... back.” His father didn’t say anything, just glared at him. Theo smiled weakly. He was in trouble. Big trouble.
“We came home last night,” Éowyn said.
Theo’s father looked at Rose, standing next to Theo and clutching his hand, and raised an eyebrow. “I think we need to talk, Theo,” he said. “Now. In my study.” He turned and strode down the hall.
Éowyn touched Theo’s shoulder. “I’ll take Rose to breakfast,” she said.
Theo exchanged worried looks with Rose, and then Éowyn took Rose’s hand and led her off down the hallway. Theo gave a deep sigh and followed behind them, stopping in front of the study door.
His father was standing at the window, looking out over the garden. Theo stepped into the room.
“Shut the door.”
Theo tried to quell the nervous nausea that suddenly came over him. His father had never given him a reason to fear him, but there was a first time for everything, right? He supposed that coming out of his bedroom with another hobbit’s betrothed--and the daughter of one of his father’s closest friends--was a reason to make his father very angry. He closed the door and waited.
“I was under the impression, from your brother, that Rose was staying in a guest room.”
“Eomer didn’t know,” he said quickly, wanting to protect his brother. He was sure that Eomer knew where Rose was sleeping, and had probably closed one of the guest room doors to cover for them. “He and Fari were still in the kitchen when Rose and I went to bed.” Theo cringed at how that sounded.
His father turned to face him. “I’m very disappointed in you, Theoden. How could you take advantage of Rose after what she went through yesterday?”
“We didn’t do anything!” Theo pleaded. “I mean we... she just slept in my room and we only...” He could feel the blush burning on his face. He threw up his hands. “I didn’t bed her!”
His father studied him for a moment, then sighed. “All right, Theo. I believe you.” He leaned on the back of a chair. “She’s left quite a mess behind. Mattas’ family is very upset about the whole thing. Not to mention Mattas himself. They’ll all be arriving here today to ‘reason’ with her.”
Fear clutched Theo’s stomach, fear that his happiness was going to get snatched away from him again. “No! Dad! You have to do something. She’s decided! She came back to me!”
“Theo, there’s not much I can do. Legally, the betrothal has already been set and her father can still make her go through with it, and with the marriage.”
“Uncle Sam wouldn’t...” He stopped. He really wasn’t sure what Uncle Sam would do. Her father had never been happy with the idea of Rose being courted by a gentlehobbit. He’d been one of the ones telling her she was doing the right thing.
“I don’t know what he’ll do, Theo. He’s quite upset, too.”
Theo slumped down into a chair, head in hands. “They’re going to take her away from me, aren’t they?” he mumbled. He didn’t know how he’d survive it, losing Rose again after a night spent with her in his arms. He wanted to sleep like that for the rest of his life, with Rose by his side. And if he couldn’t have Rose, he’d sleep alone for the rest of his life.
“Theo.” His father knelt in front of him and put his hands on Theo’s shoulders. “I’ll do what I can. I’ll try talking to Sam again.”
Theo nodded. He knew it would only be a token effort. His father would always respect Sam’s wishes. But he was grateful his father would speak for him again this one last time. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Now,” his father said, standing up, “we’ve got two lovely ladies waiting for us in the dining room and, according to Eomer, you have some meals to catch up on. A lass isn’t impressed by a skinny hobbit.”
Theo snorted “Ivy was.”
His father winced. “Yes. Ivy.” He coughed. “Which reminds me...” He fixed Theo with a serious look. “If this all works out, you and Miss Rose will no longer be sharing a bed, even if it is ‘just sleeping’, right? I don’t need to be worrying about getting grandchildren before the wedding again.”
“I don’t think you ever had to worry about that, Dad,” Theo said, a smile tugging at his mouth. “I think Ivy and Pippin were both too scared to risk it. I’m still amazed you didn’t kill Pippin when you first found out about them.”
“Well, keep that in mind then, son,” his father said as he opened the study door. “Because having been in the same position, if anything happens with Rose I’m almost certainly going to side with Sam.”
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.