22. Chapter 22
Theo walked with Rose from Bag End, heading up the hill to the party tree. The hill and field were filled with hobbits celebrating the appointment of Fastred Fairbairn as Warden of Westmarch. The lands west of Greenholm had been gifted to the Shire by King Elessar in 1452, and enough hobbits were moving to the Westmarch that Sam felt it would soon grow too large to be under the Mayor’s guidance. He’d spoken with Theo’s dad and Pippin, and they’d decided to create a Warden. Sam had suggested Fastred for the job. Nobody had objected. Fastred was well-liked and respected by the hobbits of the western Shire--which had contributed to the ill feelings towards Rose for breaking his cousin’s heart.
“Glad to be home?” Theo asked, squeezing Rose’s hand.
“Yes,” she said, squeezing back. “I’m glad there aren’t many people still mad at me.”
Theo smiled. Mattas was courting a girl and was, according to Elanor, very happy. That didn’t leave the hobbits still angry with Rose much of an excuse to continue to be angry with her.
“It’s sad, though, that Elanor will be leaving.” Rose sighed. “I’ll miss her. The Tower Hills are twice as far away as Greenholm. And then, when we marry and I move to Buckland, we’ll be on opposite sides of the Shire. Days apart...” She sniffled, and turned her head away. “Sorry,” she mumbled, wiping at her eyes.
“Don’t be sorry, Rose.” Theo pleaded. He put his arms around her and kissed her brow. Though he would miss her terribly when his family returned to Buckland, he knew it was worse for Rose. Not only would she have to say good-bye to him, but she’d have to say good-bye to her sister as well not long after. And the Tower Hills really were a very long ways away. Elanor might as well be moving to Rivendell.
“Is she all right?”
Theo lifted his head. He hadn’t even heard Eomer and Fari approaching. He nodded at his brother.
Rose pulled away and smiled at them. “I’m fine. Just getting all weepy because I’ll miss Theo. And you two as well.”
“We’ll miss you, too, Rose,” Eomer said. He grinned. “You kept Theo from moping around the house all winter. Right, Fari.”
Fari snorted. “Now we’ll have to put up with him moping all summer, so I know I’ll miss you. I won’t miss Goldi, though. She hit me again.” Fari rubbed his upper arm.
“Did you deserve it?” Theo asked.
Fari opened him mouth to say something, then closed it again, pouting. Eomer laughed and gave his cousin a shove. “He was pulling her braid again, so don’t feel sorry for him.”
A voice called Rose’s name. Her mum was up by the Party Tree, waving to her.
“I need to go. I promised Mum I’d help set up for tea.” She gave Theo a quick kiss and trotted up the hill.
Theo sighed, watching her go, wishing she didn’t have family responsibilities today, then feeling guilty because Rosie really did need the help with all their guests. He distracted himself by turning to his cousin. “Why do you keep teasing Goldi when you know she’ll hit you?”
Fari shrugged. “Don’t know. Can’t help it. She’s just fun to tease, I suppose. She doesn’t cry or tell on me like other lasses.”
“But why do you have to tease them at all?” Theo asked.
Fari grinned. “Because it’s fun!” He said this like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“They won’t like you if you keep teasing them.”
“So?” Fari said, wrinkling his nose. “I’m not going to marry any of them anyway. I’m going to be a bachelor, remember?”
“Yes. Right.” Theo shook his head. He had to remember that Fari was only twenty-five. Of course he would still be convinced he was going to be a bachelor. “Are you still going to be a bachelor, too?” he asked his brother.
Eomer shrugged. “I suppose so.”
Theo smiled. “I think Iris Brandybuck would like you to change your mind.” Their distant cousin had been making eyes at Eomer for a few weeks now.
“You’re not going to marry her, are you Eomer?” Fari exclaimed. “She’s boring.”
“No, Fari, I’m not,” Eomer said. He turned to Theo. “Fari’s right. She is kind of boring. Besides, I’m only twenty-seven. I have plenty of time to decide if I want to stay a bachelor or not. Dad didn’t get married until he was forty-one!”
“See you have plenty of time to change your mind, too, Fari,” Theo teased.
Fari scowled. “I won’t,” he grumbled. “Too much trouble. Look at what happened to Dad.”
“Your dad and Ivy?” Theo asked. He didn’t know of any trouble between his sister and her husband. In fact, they seemed as mushy as ever.
“No, of course not!” Fari scoffed. “Before Ivy. You know. Her.”
Theo shook his head. “Fari. It doesn’t have to be like that. You could be as happy as your dad is with Ivy.”
“Or I couldn’t be. So why bother.” He huffed and crossed his arms. “And I really don’t know why we’re even talking about this. I’m going to get an ale.” He trotted away towards the casks.
“There’s no use pushing him on it,” Eomer said, slightly scolding.
“I know. It’s just...” Theo sighed. He just wanted his brother and his cousin to be as happy as he was.
Theo really wished Ivy would quit glancing back to give him sympathetic smiles. Somehow, it only made it worse.
He’d been dreading this day, the day he left Rose behind at Bag End and returned to Buckland without her. Yes, he realized they’d be married soon enough and would be spending the rest of their lives together. But it didn’t make the separation any easier. He sighed and slouched back in the saddle. It could be worse. At least this time he knew she’d be there for him after their separation. Not like when he’d gone off to Rohan and Gondor.
He caught Ivy glancing at him again and nearly said something to her, but bit his lip. He supposed Ivy knew better than anyone what he was going through. She’d been kept apart from Pippin for all those months, while Dad had been so angry at them. He smiled back at her.
She motioned to him and he guided his pony around to ride up next to their cart. “You know,” she said casually. “You and Eomer could come stay with us this summer, rather than Fari going to stay at Brandy Hall. I know your nieces and nephews would love to have you come visit.” She grinned. “And you’d be a little closer to Bag End. If you ever wanted to go for a visit. To see Frodo.” She winked.
He grinned back. Why did he ever think his sister was bossy and annoying? “Maybe I will.”
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.