19. Chapter 19
The first thing Eomer noticed when they arrived at the Party Field was the scornful eyes on them. Well, the eyes on Rose. When the Master and Thain passed, the eyes were nothing but respectful, but then they’d glance at Rose and the looks would turn to accusation and anger, all for breaking some stupid, unwritten rule about who you’re allowed to fall in love with. And she certainly wasn’t the first lass--or lad--to break a betrothal!
He glanced at Rose and Theo, walking just ahead of him. Theo held tight to Rose’s hand and Eomer noticed his brother’s other fist was clenched--Theo must have noticed the glares as well. Rose was walking with her head down, tucked between Theo and Ivy, not looking at anyone.
“There’s your mum,” Theo said quietly as they approached the long table set up with the birthday feast for Rosie, Frodo, Pip and Hamfast. Rose looked up then, a smile appearing on her face, and she let go of his hand to run to greet her mum. Their teary reunion attracted the attention of her dad and siblings, and soon Rose was encircled by her family.
Even Elanor embraced her, and after a few moments of whispers, Rose turned to them. “We’re going to go have a chat,” she said. Theo nodded and smiled. Elanor smiled back at him, and then the sisters went down the path to Bag End.
Fastred, Eomer noticed, wasn’t quite so forgiving. As soon as the girls were out of sight, he turned a scowl on Theo. Theo just turned away. Eomer returned the scowl instead, and for a moment he had to fight the urge to say something, but then he turned away as well to follow Theo. He had a lot he’d like to say to Fastred, and everyone else who were making Theo and Rose’s lives miserable, but he wouldn’t do it today and ruin the party.
Frodo came up to them and nodded towards Bag End. “Elanor’s been anxious to talk to Rose,” he said. “Now that she’s had time to think about it, she feels really bad about getting upset with her.”
“Fastred’s still angry,” Theo said. He looked around the crowd. “And everyone else, it seems.”
“That’s why she’s in Buckland,” Frodo sighed. “How are things? In Buckland?”
“Great.” Theo smiled. “She’s been spending time with Éowyn. And Clara and Chloe came to stay for a few days, to cheer her up.”
“And I’m sure someone else has been cheering her up as well?” Frodo grinned.
Theo smiled and shrugged, and Eomer saw his cheeks go pink. “I have to admit I’m not entirely sad she came to stay with us.”
Frodo raised an eyebrow and Eomer clapped Theo’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Frodo, I’m keeping him in line.”
“No,” Theo said, grinning. “I think it was Dad offering to help Uncle Sam kill me if anything happened with Rose that’s keeping me in line.”
They all laughed, Theo loudest of all. Eomer glanced at his brother’s happy face, a happiness that had been missing for so long, and he no longer cared what the scowling hobbits around them thought. Rose made his brother happy and if they didn’t like it.... to Mordor with them!
Rose came back from her talk with Elanor much happier than she’d been before. “Elanor apologized,” she said with a teary smile and Theo hugged her tight. Well, at least one person had forgiven Rose, Eomer thought. Now if only the rest of Hobbiton would do the same.
They took their lunch down to the Bag End garden--Theo, Rose, Eomer and Fari, with Frodo, Emerald, and Goldi joining them--to avoid the looks and whispers. Goldi had retrieved a basket from their home and had filled it from the mounds of food on the table with Rose and Emerald, while the boys got the ales.
“Where’s Mer and Pip, by the way?” asked Eomer as they settled down in Sam’s garden. He hadn’t seen much of the boys since they’d arrived.
“They’ve been running around with our cousins,” said Frodo. He shrugged and fidgeted, glancing at his sister. “Because...erm...”
“Goldi told me, Frodo.” Rose sighed, her eyes on her lap, then she looked up at them. “The Gamgees and Cottons aren’t very happy with me,” she said. “Mer and Pip are keeping our cousins away from me while I’m here, because they aren’t afraid to say what they think of me to my face, for breaking Mattas’ heart.”
There was an awkward silence and Eomer tried to think of something to say to ease the tension. It was Fari who came to the rescue. “Well, that’s more for me, then,” and he dug into the plate of sandwiches.
“I don’t think even Mer and Pip’s portions would be enough for you, Fari,” Rose said. They laughed, then Rose looked around at them. “It’s all right to talk about it. I know what people think. It doesn’t bother me anymore.” She reached over and took Theo’s hand. “I love Theo, and nobody will change my mind on that again.” Then she grinned crookedly. “Unless Theo does something incredibly stupid.” She leaned over and kissed Theo’s cheek while the rest of them laughed.
“I think it’s terrible, Rose,” said Emerald, leaning over to pat her future sister-in-law’s knee. “It’s none of their business who you marry and they should accept whatever decision you make, as long as it makes you happy.” She gave Frodo a dreamy smile. “I know I couldn’t imagine marrying someone else.” Frodo smiled back, then leaned in and kissed her. Eomer couldn’t help but smile at the couple, no matter how mushy they were. He was glad Frodo had found such a nice lass, because Rose needed all the support she could get.
They were halfway through their lunch when Mer and Pip joined them. “We told the cousins we’d tell Dad on them if they said anything to you,” said Pip, plopping down next to Fari and snatching a sandwich from the basket.
“And that they’d get a punch in the nose from me as well,” said Mer, sitting next to Pip.
Nobody came to bother Rose, though, and they were even pleasantly surprised when a few relatives and neighbors came by to offer their congratulations. At least there were some hobbits who understood.
They decided to spend the afternoon in the garden, away from the crowd. Theo, Eomer and Fari told stories of their trip to Rohan and Gondor, which amazed Emerald. While the Gamgee children had all been to Bree a few times in their life, Emerald had never seen any Big Folk besides Éowyn. The existence of places like Edoras and Minas Tirith were no different than a fairy story to her.
Elanor came down to Bag End just before teatime. “Time for Elfstan’s nap,” she said. She had her newest baby cuddled in her arms. Willow and Éoleof were trailing after her, quietly bickering over who would get to hold the baby first when he woke up.
“Your sisters are adorable, Fari,” said Emerald, watching the group go into the house.
“You want ‘em?” Fari asked brightly, a big grin on his face.
“Fari!” Goldi swatted at his arm. “That’s a horrible thing to say!”
“Oh, like you never said anything bad about your little siblings.” He gave her a crooked grin. “I seem to recall you wishing your parents would just send Tom back to Gondor, because you thought they got him there.” He snickered and poked her in the side. “That’s not how they got him, by the way.”
Goldi squirmed and blushed bright red. “I know that,” she said, “But I didn’t know it when I was twelve. I bet you didn’t either.”
“Sure I did. Theo told me before Bori was born, because I was wondering how exactly Ivy got the baby in there, and he told me that Dad--”
“Theo!” Rose exclaimed. “He was only eight!”
Theo turned sheepishly to Rose. “He kept pestering me about it,” he whined.
Eomer snickered. Fari had pestered Theo about it, and Theo had thought telling the boy the icky details of how a baby was made would make Fari shut up about it. But rather than disgusting Fari, it had only made him more curious. Theo had ended up telling him everything, things that Eomer hadn’t known about. He shuddered at the memory. He didn’t really need to know most of that stuff. He had always wondered what had possessed Theo to ask their mum for the details in the first place.
“I don’t know why it’s kept a big secret,” Fari continued. “I suppose I should have realized what Dad and Ivy were doing. I’d seen the ponies--”
“Ugh, Fari, just stop!” Eomer said. “That is my sister you’re talking about.” He did not need to be reminded of what his sister did with Pippin.
Fari shrugged. “So? They’re married, right? And they love each other.” He grinned at Emerald. “You may have noticed my dad and Ivy can’t keep their hands off each other.” He leaned forward to grab an apple. “Now, thinking about what Dad had to do to get me...” He wrinkled his nose. “Now that’s disgusting!”
Mer and Pip both snickered, but they stopped at their sister’s glare. “All right, I think that’s enough of this conversation,” said Rose, her cheeks tinged pink.
“Now you know to be careful what you say around Fari,” said Frodo to a blushing Emerald, “because he has no sense of propriety or modesty.”
“Or just no sense at all,” said Eomer with a grin. He quickly ducked to avoid the apple that was lobbed at his head.
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.