28. Chapter 28
“What is?” Eomer asked. He turned, following the direction of Fari’s gaze. Theo and Rose were standing together near the table that held the remnants of Rose’s birthday feast. Theo was feeding her bits of cake and they would giggle and kiss after every one. Eomer turned back to his cousin. “Theo and Rose?”
Fari wrinkled his nose and grimaced. “Ugh. They’re kissing again. What is so great about that? Yuck!”
Eomer snorted. “Oh? And how many girls have you kissed to know any better?”
Fari glared at him. “The same number as you. None.” He narrowed his eyes at Eomer. “If it’s so great, then why haven’t you been doing it?”
Eomer shrugged. “It’s not the kissing. It’s the finding someone I’d want to kiss.” He sighed. Plenty of girls wanted to kiss him. They were always cornering him, looking at him with doe-eyes and giggling over whatever he mumbled to them like it was the most witty and brilliant thing ever said. Not one of them had been a lass he’d want to spend any time with. If he did decide to give up on being a bachelor, he’d want a girl who didn’t fawn all over him because he was the Master’s son. So far, the only eligible girls he knew of like that were the Gamgee sisters. But Rose was spoken for, Goldi’s heart was with Fari, and the other sisters were too young.
“I don’t want to kiss anyone,” Fari said. “I’ve had girls following me around because I said ‘hello’ to them. Uncle Ev said I should get used to it because I’m going to be Thain someday.” He huffed, brows furrowed in annoyance. “I don’t want any girl who likes me because of that,” he muttered. He frowned. “I’m better off being a bachelor.”
Eomer had to bite tongue. He wanted so much to say something, that Fari had a perfect girl if he’d just open his eyes and see her. But Fari was going to be stubborn. And Goldi... He looked past Fari. Goldi was heading this way. He smiled. Maybe, just maybe, Fari would realize what he had.
“How are you lads?” she asked and sat on the bench next to Fari.
“Hiding,” Fari said. “I’m staying as far away from the dancing as I can.”
“What’s wrong with dancing?” Goldi asked, keeping her eyes on her lap.
“It’s boring!” Fari whined. “My aunts make me dance because it’s ‘polite’ and ‘proper’. And you get all sweaty and then the girl starts acting like you’ve proposed to her or something!”
“Maybe you just haven’t danced with the right girl?” Eomer asked. He pursed his lips, studying the couple in front of him--Fari with his annoyed frown and Goldi with pink cheeks and her eyes on her lap. He decided to give a little push. “I bet Goldi would be fun to dance with.”
Fari snorted and looked at the lass next to him. “Goldi wouldn’t want to dance!”
Goldi’s head shot up and she glared at Fari. “How do you know that?”
Fari shook his head, looking at her like it should be the most obvious thing in the world. “Because it’s girly. You don’t like that girly stuff.”
“Says who?” she shot back. “I happen to like dancing very much!”
Fari laughed and tugged at her braid. “How many lads’ toes have you trod on?”
Goldi turned away from Fari, her jaw clenched, and Eomer saw the glint of tears in her eyes. Fari didn’t seem to notice at all. He was still smiling like he’d just told a big joke.
“You’re not mad at me, are you?” Fari pouted. and he tugged at her braid again. Goldi scooted away from him.
“Would you like to dance with me, Goldi?” Eomer asked, standing up. He wanted to give her an excuse to get away to compose herself and he wanted to get himself away before he said something he’d regret later to Fari.
Goldi nodded and stood up. She didn’t look at Fari, just stepped over to take Eomer’s offered arm.
“Have fun,” Fari groaned, rolling his eyes. Eomer scowled at him, which only seemed to confuse Fari. Good. Maybe it would give him something to think about.
They walked away, towards the dancing at the bottom of the hill in the Party Field. He glanced at Goldi. Her eyes were still down and she quickly brushed her hand across them.
“He doesn’t mean to be an ass,” Eomer said. “He’s just...” He shrugged.
“I know,” Goldi mumbled. “Rose talked to me about it. About things Theo’s told her, about Fari and why he wants to be a bachelor because of his dad and Diamond.” She sniffled. “She said I must be patient with him. That lads don’t mature as fast as lasses, so I need to give him more time.”
Eomer didn’t know what to say about that. The only lass he knew really well was his sister, and Ivy had grown up faster than hobbit lads because she was half Big Folk. But he did know that Fari could push anyone beyond their level of patience. “I suppose,” he said.
They reached the crowd around the dancers and Goldi came to a halt. She looked on the happy couples with a teary face. “I’m sorry, Eomer. I really don’t feel like dancing right now.”
He nodded. “That’s fine.” He looked around. Theo and Rose were in the group of dancers now. He sighed. He wished they were here, so Goldi could talk to her sister. And he didn’t see anyone else close by--not Goldi’s mum nor Daisy nor even Emerald. He didn’t want to just abandon Goldi in her state. “Want to go for a walk?” he asked. “I don’t know much about these things, but I’m always willing to listen if someone wants to rant about Fari.”
She giggled and smiled up at him. He smiled back. She nodded away from the party, to the path that led down to the road. “We can walk down to the river.”
They turned away from the happy crowd and it wasn’t until he noticed people smiling at them as they passed that he realized Goldi still had a hold on his arm. They must think... He resisted the urge to yanks his arm away from Goldi’s grip. He didn’t want people to get the wrong idea about them, but he also didn’t want to pull away from a distressed Goldi. Well, he supposed any damage had already been done. He and Goldi would probably be the talk of The Shire within a day or two. He’d have to get Theo to dispel any rumors.
They passed through the gate and and onto the road that led down to The Water. Once past the blacksmith’s shop, they cut through the long grass down to the river. There was a clearing near the mill where they’d spent countless hours as children playing on the shores of the river. The Water was much smaller than the Brandywine--not as deep or fast or wide--so there was more of a sandy shoreline rather than a steep bank.
They sat down on the edge of the grass, toes in the cool, damp sand. Goldi heaved a sigh and burst into tears.
Without any hesitation, Eomer put his arms around her. Goldi wrapped hers around his waist and pressed her face into his chest. Her body shook with her sobs and he could feel her tears soaking his shirt. He wished he could help. He wished he could shake some sense into Fari. But Rose was right about Fari. He still wasn’t mature enough to deal with this. If Fari still thought kissing was ‘icky’, there was no way he could give Goldi what she wanted or needed right now. She would have to be patient.
He rubbed her back and looked down at her riot of golden curls. For a moment, he had a wicked thought, that if Fari didn’t wise up soon, perhaps he’d try to convince Goldi there were other lads...like himself. But he pushed that thought away. He wouldn’t ever do that. Not unless Goldi came to him first.
Goldi’s tears subsided and she pulled away from him, rubbing her eyes with her sleeve. “I’m sorry.”
“No.” Eomer shook his head. “Don’t be sorry. You needed it.”
She wrapped her arms around her knees and stared out at the river. “I don’t know what to do. Rose says to be patient, but I don’t know if I can.” She sighed and rested her chin on her arms. “I get so angry with him. But...” She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. “I love him. I can’t really explain it, but...it feels like...like we were meant to be together. Ever since I realized it, that I loved him, I can’t imagine ever being with anyone else. Does that make sense?”
Eomer shrugged, and at the same time felt a stab of guilt over his earlier thoughts. “I think so.” He’d never been in love with anyone, but he’d seen his sister and his brother both go through the hardship of being separated--possibly forever--from the person they loved.
“And I know he can be an immature idiot sometimes...well, most of the time,” she continued. “But I also know that he can be very sweet and he’s funny and when I see him, when he smiles at me, it makes me feel...” She blushed deep red and buried her face in her arms.
Eomer shifted uncomfortably, trying hard not to imagine what exactly Goldi felt to make her blush like that. He really wanted to knock Fari upside the head, for being so blatantly clueless about this lass who loved him so much, when Fari had really given her very little reason to keep loving him.
He sighed. “He’ll come around eventually,” he said. “Not even Fari can be that clueless for so long.” She looked up at him and he gave her a weak smile. “And if you like, I can pound on him for you.”
She smiled. “You don’t know how tempting that is.” She shook her head and sighed. “I suppose we should be getting back. They’ll be wondering where we are.” She gave him a crooked smile. “I think some people might have gotten the wrong idea about us walking together.”
“You noticed, too?” He shrugged. “If there’s any rumors, Theo will set them straight. He’s still the center of the gossip circle at Brandy Hall.” He chuckled. His brother gossiped worse than any of the old aunts.
He stood up and reached down to give Goldi a hand up. She kept hold of his hand and looked into his eyes. “You know, Eomer,” she said softly, “if it wasn’t for Fari...”
Eomer nodded, then swallowed hard and broke their gaze. He didn’t want to tread into this territory. “He’ll come around, Goldi,” he said.
“I hope so,” she said sadly.
They walked back up to the party, careful to keep some distance between them this time. Fari had been joined by Theo and Rose. They all looked up when Eomer and Goldi approached.
“What took you so long?” Fari scoffed. “It doesn’t take that long to dance.”
“We didn’t dance. We went for a walk to the river,” Goldi said shortly. She sat down next to her sister, the farthest spot away from Fari.
Theo and Rose both stared up at him, eyebrows raised. Eomer sighed and sat next to Fari. Great. Now they thought he was trying to steal Goldi away.
“Why didn’t you invite me?” Fari complained to Eomer. “I was bored sitting here waiting for you to come back!”
“Because we wanted to talk about what an idiot you are,” Eomer said, half jokingly. He ignored the punch Fari landed on his arm and threw a pointed look at Theo and Rose. They both relaxed and nodded slightly.
“You don’t think I’m an idiot, do you Goldi?” Fari asked, and he looked at her with those puppy dog eyes, the same look Pippin used to get his way with Ivy.
Eomer watched Goldi as she looked up at Fari. Her face softened, turning a little pink, and a smile crept back on her face. “Sometimes,” she said and smiled mischievously.
Fari huffed indignantly. Eomer traded smiles with Goldi.
“Since nobody here loves me, I’m going to go get another ale,” Fari said and stood up.
“Me, too?” Eomer asked holding his empty mug up to his cousin.
“And me.” Theo held his mug out as well.
Fari stuck his tongue out at them, but he collected the mugs and walked off towards the casks.
“I heard an interesting rumor about you and Goldi,” Theo said.
“Already?” Eomer sighed. “It’s not anything like that. Goldi just needed to talk because Fari was being stupid again.”
Rose looked at her sister. “Are you all right?”
Goldi nodded. “I had a good cry and Eomer offered to pound on Fari.”
Goldi gave him a grateful smile. Eomer thought Fari didn’t deserve her. Then he felt guilty for thinking that. He looked at his brother. “People just got the wrong idea. Erm...about those rumors. Could you--?”
“Consider it done,” Theo said. “I’ll tell them you were asking Goldi advice about a lass you’re sweet on. That should send everyone into a frenzy, wondering who you like. They won’t remember a thing about Goldi.” He laughed.
“Thanks.” Eomer shrugged. “I think.” As long as it quelled those rumors about him and Goldi, he’d put up with it.
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.