6. Chapter 6
Eomer nudged Theo's arm. "The Gamgees are here."
Theo looked up, heart suddenly in his throat. It had been a long wait since he'd last seen Rose, at his visit to Bag End with his dad. He'd been miserable on the ride back to Tuckborough that day. His father had said a few words of comfort as they rode out of Hobbiton, but after that they'd ridden in silence. He was glad. He hadn't felt like talking after getting his heart trod on. He'd gone straight to his guest room when they'd arrived at Great Smials, and he'd just laid on the bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out how he could live without Rose. Ivy had come in later to check on him and he'd broken down then, sobbing into his sister's shoulder. She hadn't said anything either--what was there to say? She'd just held him until he didn't have any tears left. For being bossy, Ivy could be a great sister.
He'd been miserable ever since. Rose hadn't come for Pippin's birthday and he'd tried to be understanding, that she was still too upset to see him. But it had still hurt. Then the Gamgees had gone to Greenholm for Lithe Day, so he'd lost his next chance to see her. He had to wait for his father's birthday for a chance to see her again, to try to talk to her.
He searched the newly arrived family for familiar red curls. But he didn't see her. He got up from the table, Eomer and Fari following behind, to greet the family. His stomach churned nervously and he peered back along the path to the stable to see if Rose had been delayed, maybe talking to someone... But he didn't see Rose anywhere.
He avoided Uncle Sam and went straight to Frodo. Before he could say a word, Frodo shook his head. He glanced at his father, then leaned close to Theo's ear. "She didn't come," he said quietly. "She's staying with Elanor for the rest of the summer." Frodo put a hand on Theo's shoulder. "Sorry."
Theo turned away, feeling like he couldn't breathe. All his waiting had been for naught. He wasn't going to see Rose today. She was far away, on the other side of The Shire, in Greenholm.
"Come on," Frodo said, taking his arm. "You look like you need an ale."
"We'll just..." Eomer looked at Fari and shrugged."We'll let you two talk, then. Frodo's better at this stuff anyway." Eomer patted Theo's shoulder. "Sorry, Theo."
Theo nodded. There wasn't anything his brother or Fari could do anyway. "It's all right. You two go have fun."
He watched them hurry away to catch up with Mer and Pip. Sometimes he envied them, not having their hearts wrapped up in a lass.
"Let's go," Frodo said, tugging him towards the casks of ales. They made their way through the laughing, happy crowd and Theo kept his eyes on his feet. He didn't want anyone to notice he was unhappy and ask about it. He didn't feel like talking to anyone except Frodo.
Frodo filled a mug for each of them and they walked to the back of the garden and out the gate, into the small orchard beyond. Theo slumped down under a tree and just stared into his ale. Rose wasn't here. He didn't know when he'd see her again.
“I think she’s being stupid,” Frodo said. He sat down next to Theo. “She really likes you. I'm fairly certain she loves you. She cried for days after you'd come to ask about courting. But she listens to Mum and Dad, and our aunts and uncles and everyone else, and their talk about what people would say and ‘remembrin’ her place’.” He rolled his eyes.
He'd said the last in a perfect imitation of his father, which made Theo snort, a small smile on his face. He looked up at Frodo. “So why don’t you care about all that? You were raised that way, too.”
Frodo laughed. “Me? I’ve seen our future Master of Buckland knee-deep in muck catching frogs and our future Thain throw up after eating green apples on a dare.” Frodo grinned at him and lightly punched his arm. “And it's hard to be in awe of someone I’ve had belching and farting contests with.”
Theo chuckled. “I suppose so.” He swirled the ale in his mug. “But it still doesn't explain it. Rose has seen me at my worst as well.”
Frodo shrugged. “Don’t know. I can't speak for Rose, but Aunt Daisy thinks I inherited more from Frodo Baggins than just his name. She says he’s haunting Bag End and it’s made me as odd as him and old Bilbo.” He snickered and took a swig of ale. “I told her Frodo couldn’t be haunting Bag End, because he’s alive and just gone over the sea. Then she made the mistake of tellin’ my dad about it, because I talked back to her. Well, when Dad found out that she’d been sayin’ Frodo was dead, that was the end of that! Aunt Daisy never brought that up again!” He grinned at Theo. “Personally, I think it’s your bad influence that’s made me this way.”
“You’re welcome,” Theo said. He bowed his head and lifted his mug to tap on Frodo's.
“I’ll try talking to her when she comes home,” Frodo said. “Because I’d certainly rather have you as a brother-in-law than some boring Smallburrow or Overhill.”
Theo frowned. “She’s not...?”
“No! No, sorry.” Frodo patted Theo on the back. “She’s not courting anyone. I was just sayin’.”
Theo nodded. But he still had a tight feeling in his stomach. What if Rose did start courting someone? What would he do then? How could he stand watching her marry someone else. He drained his ale and took a deep breath. It was better not to think about that. “So, how’s your courting going?” he asked. Might as well enjoy the fact that one of them was happy.
“Great!” said Frodo, getting that grin that all lads in love seemed to have, the one that made them look like an idiot. Theo envied Frodo, though, that he had the lass he loved. “Em and her family will be coming to Hobbiton for my birthday in August." Frodo winked at Theo and nudged his arm. "And Rose will be home for that, too.”
Theo sighed. August seemed like an eternity away.
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.