20. Chapter 20
Theo was a little disappointed about the turn-out for his and Rose’s betrothal party. He couldn’t complain too much, he supposed, as there were more guests from the Western Shire than he expected, but he had hoped that most people would have come around by now. He sighed. At least most of Rose’s Cotton and Gamgee relations had come, having finally forgiven her. Even Fastred didn’t frown so much and had actually offered his congratulations.
He sipped at his ale and looked across the garden at back entrance of Brandy Hall. Ivy had pulled Rose away to speak to her and they’d been gone a while. He had not idea why his sister suddenly had to talk to Rose when their betrothal ceremony was about to begin. He looked over at the arbor where the ceremony would take place. His dad, Éowyn, and Rose’s parents were talking together, and some of the guests were starting to gather around. He got butterflies in his stomach, remembering the last betrothal party for Rose, when he’d moped in his room, believing he’d lost her forever. And now she was his. Theo looked back at Brandy Hall and huffed impatiently. Ivy and Rose had better hurry--they were expected to be starting soon.
He grinned when they finally came out the doors. Ivy and Rose were smiling, chatting happily as they made their way towards him. He drained his mug, then stood up to greet them.
“Almost time!” Ivy said cheefully. She came over and hugged him. “How are you doing?”
“Good.” He pulled away and looked up at his sister. “What took you so long?”
Ivy smiled at him, shaking her head like it was a ridiculous question for him to ask. “I had to give Rose her gift,” she said.
Oh. He looked at Rose, his eyes drifting to her chest, to the pendant that hung there. His mum’s necklace. He’d nearly forgotten about it, in all the excitement of the preparations. Rose would receive his mum’s jewelry box when they wed, passed down through generations of Mistresses of the Hall. Éowyn had refused to take it when his dad had offered it, insisting it should go directly to Theo’s future wife. On the betrothal, it was a tradition for the Mistress to gift her new daughter-in-law with something from the box. Theo had chosen the pendant weeks ago, a rose carved in silver, and Ivy--as Estella’s ‘daughter’--had presented it to Rose. Theo got a little lump in his throat, wishing his mum could have been here to give it to her. But he’d already shed his tears on the day he’d gone through the box. He swallowed and smiled, knowing his mum wouldn’t want him to have sad thoughts today.
“It’s lovely, Theo,” Rose said, brushing her fingers over the pendant.
“You’re lovely,” he said. The rose nestled perfectly just above the swell of her chest, glittering silver on creamy skin. Lovely.
Ivy patted his head. “The guests are waiting, so let’s go get your betrothal done,” Ivy said, nodding towards the arbor where their families waited. “Then you can go back to admiring her necklace.” She winked at him and Rose giggled.
Theo shrugged, his face warm because his sister had caught him staring. It wasn’t his fault the pendant rested there. He took Rose’s hand and they followed Ivy through the sea of guests to take their places below the arbor, decked out in roses from both Sam’s garden and the garden here at the Hall.
A betrothal ceremony differed some from a wedding. The ‘official’ part had been completed with the contracts. But it was an old tradition to celebrate a betrothal with a party. Whereas the marriage ceremony was for the couple, the betrothal party was more a celebration for the families that would be joined. The ceremony itself was just speeches by the fathers on the joining of their families.
Theo was aware that his father was saying somehing, but if asked later, he wouldn’t remember what it was. His attention was completely focused on Rose, and hers on him. He held her hand tight and gazed into her bright blue eyes, while his father said something about the high regard he held for Sam and the Gamgee family.
He ran his thumb over the back of her hand, gazing at the lass he loved more than anyone. The past two years were like a bad dream to him now. Did they really break apart? Had he really considered throwing himself off Edoras’ cliff? Did she really almost marry someone else? It didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was that they were here today.
“I love you,” he mouthed to her, after his father had finished speaking and the crowd was applauding.
“Love you, too.” she mouthed back, and smiled at him with the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen.
Then Sam stood up to speak, and Theo noticed he stammered a little nervously at first as he talked about the honor of his family being connected to the Master of Buckland’s. He supposed Sam had never dreamed in his whole life that he’d one day be making speeches at Brandy Hall. Theo rather liked the idea that he and Rose were the first to break down these silly divisions that stood in the way of friendships between families.
At the end of it they were presented to the crowd as betrothed, and that was it. Unlike a wedding, there was no kiss to seal the contract. That was reserved for your wife. At a betrothal, a lad may not even have permission to kiss the girl yet. Theo was grateful there was no such limitations with Rose. But he still decided to sneak her away from the celebration to steal a kiss anyway.
They had planned the betrothal to be close to Rose’s birthday, so her family only had to make one trip to Buckland. A party was held a few days later at Brandy Hall, though much more subdued than their betrothal. Mostly family and close friends. Rose claimed not to mind, but Theo knew she wished this whole business to be over with--all this anger directed at her--even if it meant their separation when she was able to Hobbiton. But there were still hard feelings, so Rose would stay with them through the winter. Not that Theo complained about that, but he did feel sad for Rose. She missed her family terribly. She’d be spending the rest of her life in Buckland, after all. She wanted to spend as much time with her family as she could before they married.
At least a solution was found to her homesickness. “Mum and Dad said I could come stay with you this winter, if it’s all right with Uncle Merry and Aunt Éowyn,” Goldi said excitedly as they took Rose’s birthday lunch together.
“I’m sure that will be fine, Goldi,” Theo said. “We’ve got plenty of room for guests.” He nudged Fari with his foot. “Not like you Tooks.”
Fari shrugged. “Don’t blame me because Dad can’t keep his hands off Ivy. I mean, you’d think I’d have at least a dozen more brothers and sisters.”
“Lucky for us, you don’t,” Eomer teased his cousin. He grinned at Goldi. “You’ll still have to put up with the lot of them when they come visit us for Yule.”
Fari stuck his tongue out at Eomer. Goldi giggled. “I think I can manage.”
“You haven’t been trapped in a a smial with the Tooks during a snowstorm,” Eomer said. He made a show of shuddering.
“Hey!” Fari complained. He gave Eomer a shove. “We’re not so bad!”
“Well, not Fari, of course.” Eomer grinned. “Of all my nephews, our little Fari is the most well behaved.” He leaned over to pinch Fari’s cheek. Fari responded by launching himself at Eomer and they wrestled around in the grass.
“Still want to come stay?” Theo asked Goldi. He managed to pick his mug up in time, before a foot--he couldn’t quite tell if it was Fari’s or Eomer’s--nearly kicked it over.
Rose huffed and stood up. “That’s enough!” she shouted, hands on hips, scowling down at them. The boys wrestling came to a halt and they stared up at her. “You’ve nearly kicked over a mug of ale and your clothes are a mess!” she scolded.
Eomer looked at his brother. “She sounds like Mum,” he said, grinning at Theo. “She’s going to be a great Mistress of Buckland.”
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.