3. Chapter 3
“I’m sorry, Theo, I can’t talk right now,” Rose said, pushing past him with an armful of plates. She stopped a few steps away and turned to give him an apologetic smile, then continued on to the table near the Party Tree. With four birthdays to celebrate in August, the Gamgees held one party for Rosie, Frodo, Pip and Hamfast. And with Elanor married and living in Greenholm, Rose was now in charge of the event.
It was hard not to resent Rose’s responsibilites to her family, but he didn’t get to see her much. He hated that they had to live so far apart. The only opportunities to spend time together were at parties and today her attention had to be elsewhere. He sighed and took a last look at her, fluttering around the table and sending sisters off on errands, then went to join Eomer and Fari.
“You’ve come to grace us poor bachelors with your presence?” asked Eomer. He and Fari were lazing under a tree, ales in hand. Theo slumped down next to them. Eomer raised his mug to him. “We’re honored.” Theo scowled at him, and Eomer and Fari exchanged grins.
“You have been ignoring us, Theo,” said Fari. “I haven’t seen you in weeks, but Eomer’s been to visit lots of times.”
Eomer let out an exaggerated sigh. “I hate to break the bad news to you, but I’ve stolen your best friend.”
Fari batted his eyes at Eomer. “I just couldn’t resist his charms!” he said in a girly voice. Eomer made kissing noises at him.
“I hope you’ll be very happy together,” said Theo, rolling his eyes. He looked away, not wanting to acknowledge that he felt just a little jealous that Fari was best friends with Eomer now. Of course, it wasn’t like he was spending a whole lot of time with either of them lately. When he wasn’t doing things for his dad at Brandy Hall--usually struggling with the accounts he had to learn to keep for when he was Master--he was writing letters to Rose or re-reading the ones she had sent to him.
He recalled a few times that Eomer had been upset with him, because he’d rather write letters than go riding or swimming. And Eomer had gone to Great Smials alone a few times that summer. But it had never hit him that... well, that Eomer and Fari had given up on him. He sighed. Maybe Ivy was right. He was besotted.
“I don’t know why you’re sulking,” chided Eomer. “It’s not like she ran off with another lad or something. She’s just busy today with the party.”
“And it can’t be healthy, being all mushy over someone like that all the time,” Fari said. “It has to affect your mind. Just like poor Frodo over there.” He pointed to where Frodo was walking with Emerald Fairfield, completley enthralled with her. “Pathetic,” said Fari. Eomer nodded in agreement.
Theo shrugged. Maybe they were right. It’s not like she was deliberately ignoring him. He looked up and found her in the crowd. She and her sister Goldilocks were refilling the platter of pastries.
“I think I’ll go get something to eat,” said Theo.
“A pastry sound good all of a sudden?” asked Eomer.
Theo stuck his tongue out at him and got up. A pastry did sound good, and it had nothing to do with the lass laying them out. Really. He made his way to the table, Eomer and Fari following behind.
“Hello, lads,” said Rose. “You’re just in time. These are hot from the oven.”
Fari looked over the pastries, wrinkling his nose. “Goldi didn’t make them, did she?” He reached over and tugged on Goldi’s braid. She slapped his hand away.
“That one just there is yours, Fari,” said Goldi, pointing at one of the pastries. “I put worms in it, just for you.”
Fari made a show of picking up the pastry and taking a huge bite. “Mmmm, worms!” he said around a mouthful of apples.
“You’re a pig,” Goldi said. She poked Fari in the stomach. He yelped and sprayed pastry over his cousins.
“All right, none of that around my table!” said Rose, shooing the boys away.
“When are you going to be done?” asked Theo, brushing crumbs and apple from his shirt.
“Later,” Rose said with a sigh. “I’ve got loads to do today, Theo. I’m sorry.” She gave him a peck on the cheek, then she and Goldi were off down the path to Bag End. Once again, Theo was left watching Rose’s back.
“Come on,” said Eomer. “Let’s go get another ale.”
Theo sighed and followed his brother, wondering if he’d ever get to spend time with Rose today.
Theo squeezed Rose’s hand when the dance ended. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered into her ear.
She squeezed back. “I’m sorry. I’ve been so busy today.”
“Go for a walk with me?”
She looked around, probably checking on the status of food and guests.
“Everything’s fine,” Theo said, tugging her away from the crowd. She gave one last look and nodded.
They walked together out of the circle of light from the lanterns, down the hill towards a grove of trees where the path was lit only by moonlight. He kept hold of her hand. She didn’t try to pull it away.
“Isn’t Emerald sweet?” she asked. “Frodo is very taken with her. It’s so adorable. I heard him talking to Dad yesterday about asking to court her already, seeing as she lives so far away and it’s a bit harder for him to compete with the other lads.” She giggled. “I don’t think there will be any objections. Emerald’s quite taken with him as well.”
Theo smiled. “I know how he feels. I’m quite taken with you.”
Rose laughed. “Well, that’s a bit different. We’ve been friends since we were babies. This,” she held up their entwined hands, “is a part of that.”
Theo nodded. It did seem like he’d loved her his whole life. When they reached the edge of the grove, he pulled her close for a kiss. She was so warm in the chill night air. He let his hands roam across her back and then lower...
“Theo!” She pulled back. “None of that!” she scolded, wagging her finger to scold him, but she was smiling.
Theo shrugged and smiled back. “I just can’t help it, Rose.” Which was true. Ever since he’d learned what lads and lasses did together, he could imagine only doing it with Rose. And lately, he was imagining it a lot.
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Perhaps we should continue with our walk?”
They walked in silence for a while, around the side of the hill. They were nearly at Bag End when Rose finally broke the silence. “Promise me that when a pretty lass steals you away we’ll still be friends?”
“Rose?” Theo stopped and gaped at her. Where had that come from? Why would she think that any lass that could ever take her place.
“Forget it. I’m being silly.” She turned away, frowning, avoiding his gaze. “We’d best get back to the party. I’ve got loads to do to clean up.”
Theo grabbed her hand and tugged her back to him. He took his face in his hands and kissed her again, just a gentle brush of lips. “I promise you we’ll always be friends,” he said. He didn’t know where her request had come from, but he’d give her what she wanted. Besides, his dad had always told him that being friends was an important part of loving someone. He knew that it was a promise he would easily keep.
Rose nodded. “I’m glad,” she said softly.
Theo tugged a red curl. “How about another dance before the party’s done.” Something fun to take her mind off whatever had her worried.
She gave a slight smile and her dimples made his heart flutter. “I’d like that,” she said.
Theo took her arm and they walked back up to the party. Once back in the light of the lanterns, surrounded by laughter and music, Rose was smiling again. He swept her into his arms for the next dance and when she looked at him with bright, laughing eyes, Theo hoped that her odd worry had vanished.
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.