57. Chapter 57
Fari reached the top of the hill and turned in his saddle to look back at Goldi. “It’s the River Running, Goldi! We’re nearly there!”
She smiled and trotted her pony up next to him. “Finally!” she said with a weary sigh. “I’m so glad to get out of that forest!”
Fari looked back at the vast expanse of trees behind him. He’d wondered--and worried--about meeting the strange and dangerous creatures from Bilbo’s tales. But they saw no eagles, never met Beorn, and, best of all, no spiders. In fact, the forest had been a much more pleasant place than Bilbo had made it out to be, now that it was the Greenwood again. The gloom that had hung over the forest, giving it its previous name of Mirkwood, had lifted with the defeat of Sauron.
They hadn’t seen any elves either. Fari had been a bit disappointed at that. He had been hoping to see some of Legolas’ kin, just to know they weren’t alone out here. He wished Legolas wasn’t far away in Ithilien. He would have liked to have seen a familiar and friendly face before going amongst strangers in Lake Town. He wondered if anyone in Lake Town even remembered what a hobbit was. If they did, he hoped Bilbo had left a good impression.
They reached the river and made their camp a little ways off the road. Fari didn’t want to meet anyone out here alone. He didn’t know what kind of people lived here. He pulled out his sword, a gift from Lord Celeborn, to polish it. He couldn’t believe how stupid he had been, setting off on this journey with only a knife, especially when he had Goldi to protect. Although, in his defense, he had only been expecting to go to Bree. While planning their route, Elladan had told them that though the orcs were gone, there were still thieves that prowled the Old Forest Road between the mountains and the river. Celeborn had given Goldi a sword, too, and Fari had been teaching her to use it. A ruffian might kill him outright, but they’d have much worse in store for Goldi.
He was worried about Goldi. She’d been unusually quiet during their trip through the forest. He had thought it was worries about the creatures from Bilbo’s tales, but she’d always shrug off his assurances that there was nothing to worry about. He supposed she was just tired.
The following day they started to see signs of the inhabitants of this region. Small farms and fisherman’s huts were becoming more frequent as they made their way north along the river. Fari was surprised when they came upon the city. Lake Town was much bigger than Bilbo had described it. It seemed to have grown since the hobbit’s adventures here.
There was no gate to indicate the edge of the city, but the dirt road turned into cobbles and the huts gave way to larger buildings and businesses. They travelled a good distance into the busy town before someone noticed them, a man who by his dress seemed to be a guard.
“Aren’t you children a little young to be out riding by yourselves?” asked the man. “Where are your parents?”
Fari frowned, indignant at the assumptions of the man. “I’m thirty-two!” he exclaimed. “I’m hardly a child anymore!”
The man shook his head. “Right, lad, and I’m a grandfather,” he scoffed.
Fari sighed and held out his bare, hair-covered foot. “Hobbit?” he said.
“Hobbit?” The man stared at Fari’s foot. “Well, bless my...most folks believe you was just stories!”
“I’m not a story,” Fari scoffed. “I’m a traveller. Could you point us to a reputable inn?”
The man didn’t seem to hear him. “We’d heard it was one of you that killed that Necromancer. The Dwarves was talking about it. And my great-grandfather swore he’d seen the little fellow that faced the dragon back when he was a boy. You’re a feisty lot, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” said Fari, getting annoyed at the man. “An inn, please?”
“Oh, certainly.” The man turned, looking up the road towards the center of the city. “There’s many an inn in Lake Town, but I’d recommend The Mended Drum. Especially as you’re travelling with a lady.” He peered around Fari towards Goldi. “She’s grown up, too?”
“Yes,” Fari said through gritted teeth. He didn’t like how the man was looking at Goldi. The man must have noticed his tone, because he blushed and looked back up the road. “It’s a few blocks down from the first bridge. On your right.” He bowed and hurried away.
The Mended Drum was massive, more than twice the size of the Prancing Pony. There were many other inns around, but the guard seemed to have been right. The Drum looked to be the best of them.
They had a hard time convincing the stable hands that they weren’t children--furry feet didn’t sway them as easily as the guardsman. “I want to speak to the owner of the inn,” Fari finally said. Soon, a large man came out, wiping his hands on an apron.
“My name is Faramir Took,” Fari said. “As I’ve been trying to explain to your stablehands, we are hobbits, not children. All we want is a room and something to eat.”
The man turned to the stablehands. “Take care of their ponies, you lazy dogs!” the man yelled. He leaned over and shook Fari’s hand. “Sorry for the trouble, Mister Took,” he said. “I’ve heard of hobbits. Never seen one in these parts before. But, I’m not one to turn away a customer because he’s on the short side. We get Dwarves here all the time, you know.”
“Thank you,” said Fari. “And if we could, we’d like to eat in our room.”
“Certainly,” the man said. “And how will you be paying?”
“I’ve got gold.”
The man smiled. “Right, then. Follow me and I’ll get you settled and have one of the girls bring you some supper.”
Fari nodded his thanks. He thought he should ask about seeing their mayor or Shirriff or whoever it was who performed marriages. But then he thought the man might make them take separate rooms and he didn’t want Goldi out of his sight in this place. He’d ask elsewhere tomorrow.
After their meal they went straight to bed. Fari was really learning to appreciate beds after so many nights on the cold ground. Goldi climbed in next to him. He turned his head to look at her. Her hands clutched the blankets and her jaw was tight. He’d thought she would have perked up, now that they were in Lake Town, but she seemed to be even more stressed this evening. She’d barely said a word during dinner. And now she was biting her lip, eyes squeezed shut, like she was wrestling with some problem.
“Fari,” she finally said, her voice small and shaking.
Fari rolled over to her, his brows furrowed with concern. “What’s the matter, love?” he asked, reaching out to stroke her arm.
“I...” She gave a great sigh. “I haven’t gotten my monthly.” She sniffled and wiped at her nose. “I think I’m pregnant.”
Fari rolled onto his back, too stunned to say anything. Pregnant?
“I’m sorry,” Goldi whimpered. She rolled away from him and pulled the blanket over her head.
Fari sat up and bowed his head into his hands. He clenched his jaw, fighting back his anger. He couldn’t deal with this now, not with everything else going wrong in his life. They’d even talked about this! They’d agreed to wait on children, until their lives had become settled. “How did...? We were careful!” he complained. She’d gotten her monthly after their first time together. After that, he’d endured the frustration and mess of pulling out of her before his climax, just to avoid this very thing.
“I’m sorry, Fari,” Goldi whimpered, her voice muffled by the blanket. She rolled over on her back. “I didn’t mean for it to happen. I know we’re not ready for this.” She broke down in muffled sobs.
That brought Fari out of his tantrum. He lifted his head to look at her. But she was turning away from him again and he realized he’d done it again. He’d hurt her because he was a selfish idiot.
“Oh, Goldi, love, don’t cry.” He lay down next to her and put his arm around her, then buried his nose in her hair. How could he have been angry at her for this? He was the one who couldn’t keep his trousers buttoned. He was the one who wasn’t careful enough. “It’s not your fault,” he mumbled into her ear. “There’s no reason to be sorry.” He propped himself up so he could see her face. “Things will be a bit more difficult with a baby, but we’ll mangage. All right?” He smiled weakly and lay a hand over her stomach, hoping his words would come true.
“Yes, Fari,” she said. She turned over to hug him tight and started to cry again, but it was relieved tears this time.
Fari sighed and ran his fingers through her curls. Well, this explained her behavior the last few days. “You’ve been worrying about this for a while, haven’t you.”
She sniffled and nodded into his chest. “About a week. I wanted to be sure, before I said anything.” She tightened her grip on him. “I am sorry, Fari,” she whispered. “I--”
“You didn’t do this alone. And I’m the one who couldn’t keep his hands, or his other bits, to himself.”
She sighed and relaxed in his embrace. “I didn’t exactly fight you off, either.”
He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. Within minutes, she was fast asleep on his chest. He supposed all that worry had exhausted her. Now it was his turn to worry, about supporting his new family and being a father.
“You know, maybe this is a good thing,” Fari said as they dressed the following morning. “They certainly can’t split us up if we’ve got a baby.”
Goldi smiled and lay her hand on her belly, which gave Fari an unexpected warm feeling. He tried imagining what she’d look like when she got big, imagined caressing her round belly, and realized he was getting aroused at the thought.
He cocked his head at her. “What?”
She grinned. “You’ve got a silly look on your face. What are you thinking about?”
“You.” He agandoned the buttons of his shirt and went over to her. He put his arms around her from behind so he could caress her belly. “I was thinking about what you’re going to look like a few months from now.” He leaned in to kiss her neck.
“Fat!” she said. “Like I swallowed a pumpkin.”
“No, you’re going to be beautiful.” He nuzzled her ear and slid his hand up to tug at the bodice laces she had just finished tying, but she slapped his hand away.
“None of that!” She wriggled away from him. “I’m starving!” she said and patted her belly. “Eating for two, remember?”
Fari smiled and took her hand. He tugged her close to give her a quick kiss. “Breakfast. And then,” he squeezed her hand, “we’ll go get married!”
The Mended Drum is borrowed from Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
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.