26. Chapter 26
“Isn’t she lovely!” Rose exclaimed and put the squirming bundle into Theo’s arms. Theo looked down into the pink face of Pansy Gardner, still a bit squished from her entry into the world just two days before. Pansy flailed a tiny fist and opened her eyes. Theo smiled down at her. She was a lovely baby. He cuddled her to his chest, remembering that newborns liked to be held close. “She’s beautiful, Emerald,” he said, looking up at the proud mum. Emerald smiled back at him from where she was resting in the rocking chair in the little parlor. She looked exhausted. She’d had a long labor, according to Rose, almost two days of pains. Theo didn't know how lasses could do it.
“Here’s your tea, love,” Frodo said, coming in with a tray bearing kettle and cups. He looked tired, too. He set the tray on the small table next to Emerald and poured her a cup. He handed her the tea and gave her a gentle kiss, then turned to Theo, beaming with happiness.
Theo handed Pansy to her dad and smiled when Frodo kissed his tiny daughter. “It’s amazing, Theo,” Frodo said. “I can’t even describe what it’s like, to be looking at her and seeing me and Emerald both looking back. It's the most amazing feeling in the world!”
Theo snorted. “Well, with those looks your sister keeps giving me, I’m sure I’m not going to have long to wait to find out for myself.”
Frodo laughed and waved a finger at Theo. “Just wait until after your married.”
“Yes, Dad,” Theo chuckled. He certainly wouldn't argue with that, though he was actually starting to warm up to the idea of having babies. Especially after seeing how happy Frodo was.
Rose came to them and leaned over to touch her niece’s downy head. Then she slipped an arm around Theo's waist and looked up at him and...yes, there was that look in her eye that said she wanted one of her own.
The front door creaked open and Rosie came into the parlor, carrying a basket. “I’ve brought some lunch for you,” she said. She disappeared again, off to the kitchen most likely, then came back. She went to see Emerald first, leaning down to kiss her daughter-in-law’s cheek. “How are you feeling, dear?” she asked.
“Tired. And sore,” Emerald sighed.
Rosie patted her shoulder. “That’s to be expected after what you’ve gone through. Frodo gave me a long labor as well, so I know.” She winked up at her son and Frodo shrugged a bit guilty. She turned back to Emerald. “But you should be feeling better in a few days.” She stood up and turned to take her granddaughter from Frodo.”Oh, you’re a darling girl,” Rosie cooed to her. She smiled at her son. “She’s got your eyes, Frodo. Same as your dad’s.” Rosie sat in the chair next to Emerald, expertly balancing the baby with one hand while she poured herself tea with the other.
“Come on,” Rose said, nudging Theo towards the parlor door. “Let's go unpack Mum's lunch.”
Rosie returned to Bag End after lunch, but Theo and Rose stayed, having offered to watch Pansy while her parents took a well-deserved nap. Theo was in Emerald's rocking chair, holding the baby while Rose caught up on chores for Emerald in the kitchen.
Pansy had a tight grip on his finger and was squinting up at him. Then she screwed up her face a little and at the same time Theo felt wet warmth against his stomach. He sighed and looked over at the towel Rose had brought him--the same towel he'd assured her he'd remember to put under the baby while he held her.
“Well, little one, I suppose we both need a change,” he said softly. He got up from the chair, then knelt down on the floor. He used one hand to spread the towel out to lay Pansy on, then grabbed a diaper from the small stack that Emerald had given them.
Unlike most lads, he wasn't bothered by diaper changes. How could he be, when he had all those nieces and nephews? He--and Eomer and Fari--had been pressed into caring for babies since Bori was a baby. His mum and Ivy had insisted they learn, because their future wives would appreciate it. His mum had told him how glad she was his dad had known how to care for babies--saved her a lot of work.
Pansy started to whimper and Theo glanced up at the clock on the mantle--it was just about time for her to eat. He quickly finished fastening the ties on the diaper, then scooped her up to take into her mum.
Her parents were sound asleep when Theo went into their room, but as soon as Pansy gave another cry, louder this time, Emerald startled awake. She blinked up at Theo, then smiled. “Feeding time,” she mumbled, and sat up.
“She 's been changed already,” Theo said quietly as he handed Pansy to her mother.
“Thank you, Theo,” Emerald said. “She'll probably fall asleep while she eats, so I'll keep her here with us. That way you can have some time alone with Rose.” Emerald winked at him.
Theo gave her a grateful smile back, then headed down the hall to the room he was staying in for his visit to Hobbiton. Frodo's smial was much smaller than Bag End, but it certainly had more room for guests. The two beds in Theo's room were unused, still waiting for future children.
He pulled off his wet shirt and washed up at the , then retrieved a dry shirt from his bag. He couldn't believe he'd forgotten the towel. How many times had he been peed on by nieces and nephews? He should have learned by now! And--
“There you are! Could you...? Oh!”
Theo turned around. Rose was standing in the doorway, gaping at him, her cheeks turning bright red. He looked down, wondering why she was looking at him like that. He was without a shirt and his breeches were hanging open so he could tuck in the clean shirt--which gave her a good view of just about all of him.
Rose squeaked and turned around to face the hallway. “I'm sorry! I...I didn't know you were dressing. I shouldn't have barged in.”
“It's all right, Rose,” Theo chuckled as he pulled his shirt on. “You're going to see it all the time after we're married.” He fastened the buttons and tucked his shirt in. “You don't even have to wait that long if you don't want to.”
“Theo!” she groaned. “You know I--”
“I know Rose.” She was adamant about not doing much of anything until they were married. He had to admit that it was frustrating--it certainly wasn't unexpected that a betrothed couple might play around before the wedding. But he would do whatever Rose wanted. He finished the buttons on his trousers. “You can turn around now.”
She turned, keeping her eyes on the floor. Her cheeks were still flushed. Theo was surprised that she was still so embarrassed, but then he noticed that she was breathing a little fast. And she still wouldn't look at him. He grinned. He didn't think it was just embarrassment.
He picked up the wet shirt from the floor and walked towards Rose. “The baby wet on me, so I had to change,” he said. He stopped in front of her, so close that he could feel the warmth from her body. “Rose?”
She looked up at him. The look in her eyes sent a thrill down his spine and into his groin. Her lips parted slightly and she made a noise that was somewhere between a whimper and a sigh.
Theo smiled and stepped closer to slip his arms around her. He nuzzled her cheek. “Did you like what you saw?” he whispered. She stiffened under his hands, and for a moment he thought she would pull away, but then she nodded against his cheek.
He couldn't tell who moved first when their mouths met. Not that it mattered. He had other things to think about, like the fact that Rose had thread her fingers in his hair and was pushing her tongue into his mouth.
He pulled her closer and his growing arousal was pressed between them. But instead of pulling away, Rose pushed closer. Theo moaned into her mouth. She usually pulled away. Did she want to go farther?
The creak of a door down the hall made them leap apart. They were both panting hard, staring at each other, when Frodo peeked into the room. He raised an eyebrow. “Everything all right? Staying out of trouble?” He was trying to look stern--the protective older brother--but Theo caught the smile tugging at his mouth.
“We're fine!” Rose squeaked. “I needed to ask Theo...” She furrowed her brow and nervously tugged at a red curl. “Cellar! I needed to ask Theo to go to the cellar, to get the smoked ham for dinner.” She looked at her brother. “I have to go work on dinner.” She hurried out of the room.
Theo met Frodo's eyes. “Erm...”
Frodo snorted and shook his head. “I don't care what you do. But, you should keep in mind that my dad could come by at anytime.” He winked and grinned. “I was heading for the privy. I think you're supposed to be going to the cellar?” He chuckled and continued down the hall.
Theo let out the breath he'd been holding, relieved that Frodo wasn't going to kill him. With a pounding heart, he headed for the cellar.
He found Rose fluttering around the kitchen. He set the ham on the sideboard and caught her hand as she hurried past.
“Was he mad at you?” Rose asked.
Theo chuckled and shook his head. “No. He just warned us to be careful, in case your dad comes by.”
Rose slapped her forehead. “Oh, gods! What if my dad had found us!”
“Rose.” Theo hugged her close. “It's fine.”
“No, it's not, Theo.” She pulled back to look at him. “I don't know what got into me. It shouldn't have gone that far.”
He wanted to argue that it hadn't gone very far at all, but he didn't think that would help matters any. “We are betrothed, Rose.”
“I know, but...” She sighed and crossed her arms. “What if I got pregnant? Then what would people say? That you only wanted me because I'll give you a tumble? That I got with child so you can't change your mind about marrying me?”
Theo frowned. “Have people been saying things to you again?”
“No. Not that I know of, anyway. But you know how people can be.” She sniffled and wiped at her eyes. “I'm sorry. I know you don't want to wait...”
“I'll wait. I'll wait as long as you want.” He gave her a cheeky grin. “Well, I'll wait until our wedding night. After that, I can't make any promises.”
She laughed and threw her arms around him. “I certainly won't make you wait any longer than that,” 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.