35. Chapter 35
There seemed to be as many Gamgees as Brandybucks at the table when Theo and Rose arrived for breakfast. He smiled as Rose went over to take Pansy from Emerald. Everyone except Goldi was heading back to Hobbiton today and Rose wanted to spend as much time as possible with her niece.
“Where’s Eomer?” Theo asked as he sat down for breakfast. “His door was open, but he wasn’t in his room.”
“Haven’t seen him,” Fari said with a shrug. He frowned and stabbed at a sausage. “He was in another mood yesterday.”
“He went to Bree.”
The conversation at their end of the table stopped. Goldi shrank down when everyone looked at her.
“Has he gone to see Moira?” Theo asked.
She nodded, keeping her eyes on her plate.
Fari huffed, looking put out. “Why didn’t he tell us he was going?”
“Because he only decided to go last night,” Goldi said.
“He told you, but didn’t tell me or Theo?” Fari asked indignantly.
“Yes.” She glanced up and Theo could tell by the look in her eyes and the flush of her cheeks that there was something else, beyond Eomer going to Bree. Goldi finished her breakfast quickly, then excused herself.
“Something’s going on with her,” Rose whispered to him. “Something to do with Eomer.” They exchanged a look. They had noticed Eomer and Goldi had disappeared from the party early in the evening, but they’d shrugged off any suspicions. Now Theo wasn’t so sure. Rose frowned. “We’ll go see her after breakfast.”
Goldi opened her door without a word, as if she had been expecting them. She went and sat on the bed. Rose went to sit next to her.
“Want to tell us what happened?” Rose asked her.
Goldi didn’t say anything. She just sat hunched over, avoiding eye contact.
“Do you want me to leave?” Theo asked.
Goldi sat silently for a moment, then shook her head. “No. You can stay.” Theo shut the door.
“I know something is wrong, Goldi.” said Rose. “Tell me.”
“What do you mean?” Goldi asked, still staring at her hands in her lap.
“Goldi, you were drinking too much ale yesterday, and then you and Eomer both disappeared from the party rather early. How about if you tell me if my suspicions are true or not.”
Goldi squeezed her eyes shut. “We didn’t mean for anything to happen,” she whispered.
Rose gasped and Theo clenched his hands. He was going to kill his brother.
“Oh, Goldi...” Rose breathed. She took a deep breath and lay her hand over Goldi’s. “Did you bed him?”
“No.” Goldi shook her head. “It didn’t go that far. We just kissed.”
Theo let out his breath. At least he wouldn’t have to kill his brother anymore. Maybe just rough him up some.
“Why?” Rose asked. “I thought you loved Fari. I thought he loved Moira. What possessed him to...”
“It’s not his fault, Rose. It was me.” Goldi tugged at her braid. “I was upset over Fari and Eomer was being so nice to me. And...I just wanted to know what it felt like, to kiss someone who likes me.”
“I know he doesn’t love me, Rose, not like that. But he likes me. And it was lovely and I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to be alone. But then I was thinking that I wanted Fari to treat me like that, and Eomer, he must have known I was upset again and he stopped and told me I had to tell Fari I loved him and that he’d go do the same to Moira today.” Goldi took a deep breath and wiped at her eyes. She looked more relaxed now that she’d told them everything.
“Poor lass,” Rose said, hugging her. “So you’re going to tell him today?”
Goldi nodded. “If I can get him away alone. I’ll have to figure out how to do that.”
Rose kissed her cheek. “Leave that to me and Theo.”
Fari glanced over at the girl riding next to him. Goldi was being awfully quiet today. He figured she probably had a hangover, because he’d never seen her drink as many ales as she had yesterday. He’d never seen any lass drink that much. He was quite impressed, actually.
“You feeling all right?” he asked. “You should drink some willowbark tea. That will help with a hangover.”
“I don’t have a hangover,” she said, staring straight ahead.
Fari raised an eyebrow. He was even more impressed. “So, why’re you so grouchy today?”
She glared a him. “I think you should figure it out.”
Fari shrugged, wondering what kind of game she was playing at. Guess why she was grouchy? “Is it that time of the month?” he asked.
She whipped around to look at him. “What?”
“That’s what Dad calls it, when Ivy’s all grouchy from--”
“No, it is not ‘that time of the month’!” she snapped and turned back to look straight ahead.
Fari shrugged. It had seemed like the obvious answer, because Ivy could certainly get grouchy. He shuddered, dreading the future when his sisters would have their monthly, too. Then he’d have four of them to hide from.
He thought some more on Goldi’s grouchiness and remembered how quiet she had been at breakfast while explaining that Eomer had gone to Bree. “Did Eomer do something to make you mad?”
“No, it wasn’t Eomer,” she said.
“Oh! So someone did make you mad?”
She shrugged. “Maybe.”
“That’s not an answer,” he scoffed.
“Over here you two!” Theo shouted from up ahead. He and Rose were waiting near a bend in the Brandywine, where there was a nice flat spot on the shore. “We’ll picnic down here.”
Fari grinned. “Race you there!” he said and kicked his pony forward. It wasn’t until he had reached Theo and Rose, pleased with himself at having beat Goldi, that he realized she hadn’t even raced him. Her pony was still walking some distance down the road.
“What’s wrong with her today?” He frowned at the girl down then road, then turned to Theo and Rose. “She never passes up a race.”
“She’s got a lot on her mind,” Rose said. Fari dismounted and Rose dropped the pack containing their lunch into his arms. “Would you take this down to the beach, please.”
Fari followed Theo, who was carrying a jug of cider and a blanket, down to the sandy beach. It was a spot they had often come to swim when they were younger. Maybe Goldi would cheer up after a swim.
Rose and Goldi came down the hill to the beach and joined Theo and him on the blanket. They ate quietly. Fari sensed the tension in the air, but he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
“So Eomer’s finally going to tell Moira how he feels?” Rose said, breaking the silence. “That’s good. It’s nice to see a lad admit he’s in love and face up to it.” Fari wondered why Rose was staring at him so intently as she said that.
“She’s a nice girl,” said Theo. “She really likes Eomer. He just can’t see it himself.”
Theo looked his way, too. Were they expecting him to say something?
“Yeah, she’s nice,” admitted Fari. If he had to lose his best friends to marriage, at least they were picking decent girls. “She’s smart, too. She could be one of those scholars in Gondor if she wanted.” He laughed and nudged Goldi. “Maybe you could go with her.”
“What?” she looked up at him, eyes narrowed.
Fari cringed. He had forgotten Goldi was being touchy today. “Well, it’s just that you’re smart, too. You and Moira could both be scholars in Gondor.” He braced himself, waiting for the retort or the punch on the arm, but was surprised when Goldi, eyes wide, blushed a deep red. He looked over at Theo and Rose. They were both smiling at him. What was that about?
“Well,” Rose said, putting cups and plates back in the pack, “I’d like to go for a walk.” Theo stood, then pulled his wife to her feet. “We’ll be back in a while,” she said.
“Do you want to go, too, Goldi?” Fari asked.
“I thought it would just be the two of us,” Rose said.
“Oh,” Fari smirked. One of those walks. “Well, don’t worry, we definitely won’t be coming to look for you!” he laughed.
Theo grinned back at him and then took Rose’s hand and led her off down the shore.
There was an awkward silence after they left. Goldi was still refusing to look at him. He sighed. “So who are you mad at?”
“What?” She looked up at him, brows furrowed.
“I’m supposed to guess why you’re grouchy, remember. And you said it wasn’t Eomer you were mad at, which means you must be mad at someone else, so I’ve guessed, right? You’re grouchy because you’re mad at someone.”
She drew her knees up to her chest and absently brushed the sand from the curls on her feet. “I’m not mad at anyone. Not really.”
Fari groaned in frustration. “Well, what is it then?”
“I’m exasperated with someone,” she said, finally meeting his gaze. “Because he doesn’t see what I feel about him.”
“You like someone?” Fari exclaimed.
“Yes,” she said. “But he doesn’t realize it.”
Fari stared out at the river. He supposed he should have expected it, that Goldi might like a lad someday. It’s just that... he’d never thought about her like that. She’d always been his friend. She’d always been such a tomboy and he’d never imagined her being interested in flirting and courting. And now she liked this lad, and for some reason the thought of it made him feel sick. He looked over at her. She looked sad. Because this lad didn’t notice that she liked him, she’d said. He sighed. “You should probably tell him, then,” he said quietly. That funny feeling in his stomach was getting worse. “But are you sure he’s worth all the trouble?”
“I think so,” she said. “But I don’t know if he’ll think I’m worth the trouble.”
“You’re not any trouble!” Fari exclaimed. “Compared to other lasses, you’re perfect.”
“You really think that?” she asked. She was blushing again.
“Sure,” he said. If he hadn’t decided to be a bachelor... He looked at her and his heart beat faster. She was pretty and smart and she wasn’t all girly and boring like all those other lasses. But even so, it was too late for that. She liked someone else. “If this lad is too blind to see that, then maybe you should just forget about him.” Yeah, Goldi forgetting about this lad seemed like a good idea.
“What if I don’t want to forget about him?” She leaned towards him, looking him straight in the eyes, noses just a few inches apart. “What if I’ve loved him for a very long time and I can’t imagine being without him, no matter how much he’s hurt me?”
“He’s hurt you?” He had a sudden rush of anger, that someone had hurt his Goldi. “Who is he? Because I’ll really hurt him if you want me to.”
She gave a deep sigh. “You’re an idiot, Fari,” she said, shaking her head.
“What? You don’t think I could? Look, if I can take on my brothers, I can certainly take on some... Why are you laughing?”
“Eomer was right. You are clueless.”
He stared at her. Here he was, offering to defend her, and she was calling him clueless? And an idiot? “Why--?” But he never got a chance to finish that thought, because suddenly Goldi was kissing him, and not in the way that he got kisses from aunts. This was like how Theo kissed Rose. It certainly was nice. More than nice, really. But why was she kissing him, if she liked that other lad? Then it all started to click into place, what Goldi had said and what others had said to him... Oh, Great Eru, he was the one who was hurting her!
He quickly pulled away from her and she turned away from him. “Sorry,” she said.
He couldn’t quite get his voice to work. “It’s me?” he asked softly.
She nodded. “Don’t worry, Fari. I know you probably don’t feel the same way, and if you want we can just forget this ever happened, all right?” She hugged her knees and buried her face in her arms.
Fari just sat there, dumbstruck, not quite certain what to do next. Goldi liked him? He reached out a tentative hand and touched her shoulder. “Goldi?”
“Don’t worry about me, Fari.” she said, her voice muffled within her arms. “I’ll be all right. Really.” She looked up at him, her eyes wet. “I just need to be alone for a while.” She sprang up and ran towards the path up to the ponies.
He bit his lip, watching her go, not sure what to do. He realized she must have planned on this, on telling him this, and that Theo and Rose knew about it. It certainly explained their behavior today.
He thought about the look on her face, when he’d pulled away from the kiss. Goldi must have thought he was rejecting her. And he wasn’t, because now that he knew how she felt about him, being with Goldi seemed like the most obvious thing in the world. He sighed. She liked him and he hadn’t even noticed. He never thought Goldi would be interested in him like that anyway. But she was and now...
He heard the hoofbeats of her pony on the road and sighed. He’d missed his chance to go after her. She’d be locked in her guest room at Brandy Hall by the time he caught up with her. It was probably better if he let Rose handle it anyway. He’d just mess it up more than he already had.
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.