25. Chapter 25
Rose leapt from the cart before the ponies had even stopped and ran up the path from Brandy Hall’s stables to grab Theo in a big hug. “Emerald’s going to have a baby!” she squealed. “I’m going to be an aunt again!”
“A...baby?” Theo sucked in a breath, a twist of shock in his gut. Frodo was going to be a father?†
“Emerald told us only a week ago! Isn’t it exciting?” She laughed. “You should see Frodo. He’s practically floating on air!”
“Rose, come get your bags so the cart can be put away,” Goldi chided.†
“Oh! Yes.” Rose gave Theo a peck on the cheek. “And I forgot to say hello, since I was so excited to tell you about Frodo and Em.” She kissed him again, then ran to back to get her things from the back of the small cart. She and Goldi had come to stay at Brandy Hall for a few weeks.
Theo stared after her, still reeling from her news. He’d been expecting it, of course, that Frodo and Emerald would have children after they married, but now that it was real, it seemed a little...unreal. He hadn’t really thought about it too much, when Elanor had babies. She may be Frodo and Rose’s sister, but she was older and was Ivy’s friend. Frodo was his friend, though, and only a year older. They’d grown up together. Only Eomer and Fari were closer to him than Frodo.
Fari untied his pony from the back of the cart and walked over to Theo. He was going to stay for the winter, too, and had ridden with the girls from Tuckborough. “I had to hear about it the whole way,” he said, rolling his eyes. “You’d think Rose was the one having the baby, she’s so excited.” Then Fari gave him an sly grin. “Of course, that won’t be too far off now, will it?”
Won’t be far off... Theo gaped at him. Fari snickered and led his pony into the stable.
Frodo and Emerald’s impending parenthood was the topic of dinner conversation. Rose was cheerily discussing Emerald’s condition with …owyn.
“She was awful sick for a while,” Rose was saying, “but she’s feeling better now.” Rose sighed. “I hope it won’t be so bad for me.”
Theo felt that thrill of shock twist his gut again. Rose was so relaxed about the whole idea, discussing having babies like it wasn’t a very big thing at all. How could lasses be so calm about it? Because, hearing all this talk about Frodo, it suddenly had him scared to death. He’d always known he’d be having children with Rose someday, but someday suddenly seemed an awful lot closer.
Rose nudged his arm and leaned close to him. “Are you feeling all right? You’re not eating,” she whispered.
Theo nodded. “I’m fine. Just...thinking.”
“About what?” she asked.
He shrugged and glanced around the table. Everyone else was engrossed in eating or conversation--or both--and not paying any attention to them. But he still didn’t want to talk about it here. “I’ll tell you later.”
He supposed it was too much to hope that Rose would forget about it. Especially since she kept a worried eye on him through the rest of dinner. He forced himself to eat, no matter how much his nervous stomach was against it, and threw himself into the conversations going on around him. But every time he glanced at Rose, he would catch her watching him, concern on her face. She’s just like a mum, he couldn’t help but think, and that didn’t make him feel any better.
As soon as dinner was over, Rose grabbed his arm. “A walk in the garden?” she asked, giving him a pointed look.†
Theo nodded and they stood up.†
“Where are you going?” Fari called out. He and Eomer and Goldi were all looking at them. Theo hoped that maybe Rose would change her mind about the talk.
“We’re going for a walk,” Rose said. “Alone.” Fari, Eomer and Goldi all snickered. The way Rose had said ‘alone’ implied that there wouldn’t be much talking going on. But he was fairly certain she’d only done it to get them some privacy. Well, on the bright side, perhaps after their talk they actually could do something other than talking.†
The garden was empty, as the days were getting shorter and cooler. There was only the dim glow from the windows to cast any light. Rose hugged his arm close as they walked down the shadowy path to the bench beneath an ancient oak.†
They sat down, tucking their cloaks around them to ward off the autumn air, and Rose took his hand. “What’s bothering you,” she asked, getting right to the point. It was one of the things he loved about her, that she wasn’t coy about things like some lasses were.
Theo shrugged. “I don’t know. I suppose...” He sighed. “I suppose it’s hearing Frodo’s going to be a dad. It’s scary. Because I’m not that far behind and... I don’t know.... I just can’t imagine myself as a dad.”
Rose looked him in the eyes and frowned. “You don’t want children?”
“No! I mean yes! But...not yet.” He slumped over, head in hands. “This isn’t coming out right,” he mumbled.
“Theo...” Rose wrapped her arms around him and rested her cheek on his shoulder. “I understand.” She kissed his shoulder. “But you do still have two and a half years before you even have to worry over it.”†
Theo sighed. “I know.” It was pretty silly, to get all worked up about something that wouldn’t happen for a while yet. And he wasn’t opposed to having babies. In fact, he quite liked them. It was just all that responsibility that came with having one of your own. He’d always been able to give his nieces and nephews back to Ivy when they got to be too much trouble.
“This must really be bothering you,” Rose said, “seeing as how you’re preoccupied with worrying over things that are years away when you’ve got me alone in the garden.”
Theo looked up at her. She was grinning at him. He grinned back and sat up. “Whatever am I thinking?” he asked and pulled her close to kiss her quite soundly. And concentrating on Rose--how soft and warm she was, and how she smelled of flowers--was much better than worrying. He let his hands wander a little and the tight feeling in his stomach moved lower, turning from worry to desire. He sighed and tilted his face close to her ear. “I missed you,” he whispered and nuzzled the point of her ear with his nose.
“I missed you, too,” Rose said. Then she took his hand and slid it away from where it was resting, just barely brushing the swell of her breast. “But you still need to watch your hands,” she chuckled.
“But I want you so much,” he whined, trying to sound as pathetic as possible. Not that he thought it would work.
“Oh, no!” Rose laughed and tapped his nose with her finger. “Then you’ll be worrying about babies much sooner, won’t you?” she chided.
Theo pouted. Yes, there was that. He sighed. Why did something he wanted to do so much have such a big consequence?
Rose stood, then took his hand to tug him up after her. “We should go in. It’s getting cold out.” She gave him a peck on the cheek. “And you can warm me up in front of the fire,” she whispered in his ear.
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.