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This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.
PART THREE – A KISS (OR TWO)
“Oh shit,” Tamsyn said, rushing over to Radagast and rolling him over. For a brief, terrifying second she thought he had died, but then he gave a loud snort which turned into a snore, and she realised he was asleep.
“Well, that’s just great,” she muttered, turning to Perry. “It seems I’m stuck here, at least until he wakes up. Any ideas?”
He stroked his chin, then said, “Come with me. There are strange things afoot here, and I have a lot of questions to ask you.”
“Fine, as long as you answer mine,” she grumbled, heaving at Radagast’s shoulders. “Christ, how heavy can an old man be? I’m sure he wasn’t this heavy before.”
“Allow me,” Perry said, gently pushing her out of the way. “I’ll take his shoulders, you take his feet. Your side should be lighter.”
Between them they dragged Radagast away, Perry light-footed as a deer and Tamsyn stumbling and tripping over every fallen branch and tree root on their path. She marvelled at how the wizard managed to stay asleep every time they dropped him. After the umpteenth fall, however, Perry sighed and waved her away.
“I think I’ll be better off carrying him on my own,” he said with resignation. “You’re as clumsy as you are beautiful.”
Tamsyn blushed angrily. “It’s these fucking feet!” she exclaimed. “They’re too big! How do you people manage?” Only then did she notice that Perry had frozen where he stood, staring at her with a mixture of awe and astonishment. Then, suddenly, she was in his arms, his face no more than an inch away from hers. She had barely even seen him move, so fast had he been, and once again she was staring into the emerald depths of his eyes.
“Now you have proven to me that you’re not a hobbit,” he murmured. “No hobbit girl would ever use the f-word when talking to a man, certainly not the son of the Thain.”
“What, fuck?” Tamsyn asked, too confused to even think of struggling. Then her eyes flew open wide when he groaned and pressed his mouth on hers. For a second she flailed her arms, then her body took over and she held on to him, closing her eyes and kissing him back like her life depended on it. God, but he was good.
The kiss lasted for what felt like hours, then Perry seemed to come to his senses, and with a muttered curse he set her free. “My… my most sincere apologies for that,” he said, taking a deep breath and turning away.
Tamsyn stared at his back, then started to laugh. Perry whirled around and gave her an indignant stare, and she shook her head at him. “Perry, take it from me, that wasn’t a kiss you needed to apologise for,” she assured him.
He stared at her for a moment more, then returned her smile. “You are a very interesting woman, Tamsyn Moriarty,” he said, appreciation in his eyes. “I think I shall enjoy getting to know you.”
“Ditto here,” Tamsyn replied, her smile turning into a smirk. “Are you going to do that every time I say ‘fuck’?”
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, clenching his fists. “I might,” he said tightly.
Tamsyn gave him a bemused look. “Well, all I can say is that either the girls around here are extremely polite and well-behaved, or you are normally locked away as a menace to society. Did I happen to catch you on the one hour when they let you out for some fresh air?”
He chuckled. “Polite and well-behaved, yes. That’s one way of describing them.” He knelt next to Radagast and started wriggling his arms underneath his sleeping form.
Tamsyn moved up to help him. “How would you describe them then?”
He snorted. “Boring.” With a grunt he heaved himself up, then after a momentary stagger he started walking again.
“Are you okay with him on your own?” Tamsyn asked, guiltily trailing after him as he swayed under his load.
“Not really, but you need to get used to your feet being bigger. Try facing them outwards a little more.”
She did, and found that it worked. She had a way to go yet before being as light-footed as Perry was, even when carrying the wizard, but at least she wasn’t tripping up anymore with every second step.
“You’re taking all this rather well,” she commented after a few minutes. “Are all hobbits so unconcerned?”
“Tookish blood,” he said with a wry smile. “I seem to have a larger dose than most. My cousin Fred would probably have run away screaming if you’d fallen in front of him. Besides, I’ve met Radagast before, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected with him.”
Tamsyn nodded, then asked, “Where are you taking him?”
“Home. Great Smials. But you’re not familiar around here, of course.”
“Not really, no. Is that in Tuckborough?”
Perry nodded. “It’s on the edge. All my family lives in the Smials.”
At that comment, Tamsyn remembered how big hobbit families could be, and put a hand on Perry’s shoulder. “Rest a moment. I think we need to talk a few things through before we get there.”
He gave her a curious look, but put his burden down. “Such as?”
“Such as what will you tell your family when you turn up with a half-dead wizard and a girl nobody knows in tow.”
“Hmm, you have a point,” he said, scratching his head. “Let’s say you’re from the Westmarch, and you’re related to… hmm, to the Fairbairns, I’d say. Not many Tooks have kin in the Westmarch, so that should be safe enough. And you’re here because you were travelling with Radagast to visit your kin in Buckland.”
“Is that normal, for girls to go travelling with wizards?”
He chuckled. “Hardly, but it’s the best I can come up with right now.”
“Okay, so how are we going to explain the fact that I’ve come all the way from the Westmarch without even a scrap of spare clothing?” Then her eyes widened as she registered something which had been tugging at her thoughts for a while. “Or a single piece of underwear!” She turned to Radagast’s prone figure and kicked him in frustration. “Do you hear that, you bearded pervert?” she hissed. “I’m not wearing any fucking underwear!”
Once again Perry moved faster than she had thought possible, and once again she found herself in his arms with his mouth caressing hers. This kiss was even better than the first, and her breath was going decidedly faster when he finally raised his head.
“That, Tamsyn, really isn’t something you wanted to tell me,” he whispered.
“Well, who am I supposed to tell other than you? Your mother?” she retorted, slightly flustered. Then she pulled herself together and added sarcastically, “I can just see it: ‘Good day, Mrs Took. I’m travelling on my own with an old wizard. Could you possibly spare me some underpants, since I forgot to wear any?’”
He reluctantly let go of her. “Okay, I take your point.”
Tamsyn hesitated a second, then said, “Not that I mind really, but, um, what’s with the overreaction to the word… to that word?” she amended when she saw the look on his face.
He shrugged and gave a wry grin. “Call it a character flaw. I just find it really, really exciting when a vulgar word like that comes out of a pretty woman’s mouth. Or when she tells me she’s not wearing any underwear,” he added sotto voce.
Tamsyn gave him a sly smile. “Okay, I’ll bear that in mind.”
He stared at her, then took a deep breath. “I think I shall have to add ‘dangerous’ to the list of words to describe you.”
Tamsyn took pity on him and returned to business. “Right, so I’m from the Westmarch and I’m related to the Fairbairns. Where is my luggage? Stolen on the road?”
“Stolen? In the Shire?” Perry shook his head. “No, let’s say you lost it in the river. You would have crossed it about two nights ago, and we had a big storm then. It was bad enough that your stuff could have washed off the raft.”
Tamsyn considered, then gave a grudging nod. “Not a great story, but it’ll have to do.”
“Hey, we’ve got the basics covered,” Perry said, heaving Radagast up again. “Past that we can improvise.”
Tamsyn looked dubious, but stumbled after him. After a few more thoughtful minutes she asked, “So what if I’m asked about my family? You hobbits are big on family trees, aren’t you?” Before he could answer, however, they rounded a corner and Great Smials came into view.
Tamsyn’s breath caught at the sight. It was a true hobbit hole, a giant hillock in the countryside with a large, round door painted an inviting green. Round windows dotted the hillside to the left and right of it, showing bright curtains drawn back to let in the light. A head appeared behind one for a moment, and a few seconds later the door flew open.
“Peregrin!” From the doorway emerged the most hobbit-like hobbit Tamsyn could possibly have imagined. She was shorter than Tamsyn, portly and round-cheeked, with light brown hair so curly that it reminded her of the poodle-perms in eighties’ music videos. She wore a bright green dress with a white apron, and waved a wooden ladle at her wayward son. “What have you been up to this time? Is that Radagast? What have you done to him, you impossible boy? And who is that with you?”
Perry waited patiently, a resigned look on his face that said he had gone through this a thousand times before. “Mother, this is Tamsyn Moriarty, from the Westmarch,” he inserted when she stopped for breath. “She and Radagast were travelling to Buckland, but they got caught in that storm two days ago and lost their luggage in the river. Radagast here was nearly washed away and needs to rest. A long time, I think,” he added, peering at the sleeping form in his arms. “I have done nothing this time, except find them in their hour of need.” He waited for a second, then continued, “The wizard is very heavy, mother. I should like to put him down somewhere.”
“Oh, you impossible boy, come on then,” his mother tutted, turning around and waving them into the house. “You’d better put him in old Isengrim’s room. It’s the only one with three beds in it. Shove them together and he probably won’t stick out too much if you put him in sideways.”
She waved her ladle in the direction of a corridor which disappeared into the gloomy depths of the hill, and Perry nodded. “Righto,” he said, starting to walk.
“Do you want me to call your brother to help you?”
“No, mother, I’ll be fine. I’m sure Tamsyn will want to help and see that he’s cared for properly.” To Tamsyn he hissed, “Quickly, before she starts whittling about propriety,” and she scuttled after him when he disappeared around a corner.
She caught up with him easily. He was trying to walk sideways, but still couldn’t prevent Radagast’s head from bumping into the furniture that cluttered the corridor. “Sorry, sorry, excuse me,” he muttered with every bump, and Tamsyn sniggered.
“I thought you said she calls you Peregrin,” she couldn’t resist saying, “but I’m beginning to think that your middle name is ‘you impossible boy’.”
“Ha ha, very funny. Open that door, will you?” He nudged the wizard’s head against the wood and Tamsyn hastened to turn the knob. Behind the door was a large, cosy room with a low ceiling, a sheepskin rug and three oak-wood beds. They were singles, but when Perry dumped his burden on the floor in front of them, she could see that his mother had been right and Radagast would likely fit in sideways.
Perry started pulling at one of the beds and she walked over to help. Between them they soon had one giant bed sorted, and with some heaving and a lot of swearing on Tamsyn’s part they managed to deposit the wizard on top. No sooner were they done or she was in Perry’s arms again.
“You continue to court with danger,” he said, his eyes gleaming.
“What, no kiss this time?” she replied, and was rewarded with one that made her toes curl.
Then a shout came from the corridor: “Peregrin!”
He let go of her with a regretful sigh. “I’d better introduce you to my mother properly,” he said. “Do control your tongue around her, will you?”
Tamsyn smirked. “What, or you’ll snog me in front of her?”
“Contrary to what you may believe, I can restrain myself if I have to,” he replied haughtily. “No, my mother always carries a kitchen implement of some description, and she’s not afraid to use it. Nor would she be stopped by the fact that you’re a complete stranger.”
She gave him a strange look. “You can restrain yourself? So why didn’t you?”
He gave her a wide smile. “Why would I have wanted to?” he asked, looking her up and down appreciatively. Then he turned and walked out the door.
Tamsyn glanced one last time at Radagast, who had resumed snoring the moment he hit the bed, then shrugged and followed Perry.
Can Tamsyn stand up to the interrogation of a hobbit mother? Find out in part four!