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This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.
PART EIGHT – JUDO
Tamsyn woke up because someone was politely but persistently tugging at her sleeve, and opened her eyes to the sight of angelic little Adalgrim watching her with intent, serious eyes. As soon as he saw that she was awake he let go, and she smiled at him.
“Good morning, Adda.”
“Good morning, Tamsyn,” the boy replied. “Uncle Perry sent me to wake you up.”
Tamsyn stretched, then sent an inquisitive look at the child as she swung her legs out of the bed. “Did he? Well, I’m awake now, thank you Adda.”
He didn’t move. “Uncle Perry said to come have breakfast before it’s all gone.”
“Thank you, Adda, I will,” she replied.
The boy still didn’t budge, but glanced at the door before screwing up his face in concentration. “Uncle Perry also said you should wear something… something green or brown, ‘cause you’ll need to hide today.” He beamed at her, and she patted him on the head, looking at the door. It was open a crack, just wide enough to let the child through, and a suspicion began to form.
“Well remembered, Adda,” she praised the boy, then gently pushed him ahead of her as she walked to the door. “Go on, tell Uncle Perry that I’ll be there shortly,” she said, ushering him through the gap. Then she raised her voice a little and said, “Tell him I can’t come straight away, because I’m not dressed yet.”
She realised that it hadn’t been necessary to raise her voice when she heard a sigh. “Tease,” Perry muttered, his voice coming from right beside the doorframe.
Tamsyn sniggered, but waved at Adda. “Off you go.”
He looked at her, then at where Perry stood, just out of sight. “Did I do okay, Uncle Perry?” he asked innocently.
Another sigh, then Perry’s resigned voice. “Yes, Adda, you did very well.”
Adda finally scampered off, and Tamsyn caught a glimpse of Perry’s face before she shut the door, laughing at him from behind it.
The chest of clothes had been moved to her room sometime the day before, and after some rummaging she found a dark green dress with brown ribbons which she thought would suit Perry’s purposes, whatever they were. She also found a few loose ribbons in the bottom, which she used to tie her hair into two braids.
When she appeared in the kitchen ten minutes later, Izzy and Donna were just leaving the table, Frodo was mid-breakfast and Perry was lingering over his plate, which held the remnants of eggs, bacon and sausages. His face lit up when he saw her, and he nodded in approval at her choice of dress.
“Good morning, my dear,” Esme greeted her. “Full breakfast?”
“Yes please,” Tamsyn replied, suddenly aware of how hungry she was, then wondering whether that was her hobbit body asserting itself. She had never really needed to watch what she ate, but had no idea whether that would be the same in her current body. Still, with any luck she wouldn’t be in the Shire long enough to find out.
Then she looked at Perry again, and found that the thought didn’t actually cheer her up.
Esme placed an enormous plate full of eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms and fried bread in front of Tamsyn, and while she tucked in Perry asked, “Do you need me for anything today, mother?”
“I don’t think so, why?”
“I thought I’d show Tamsyn around today, since she’s never been in Tuckborough,” he replied nonchalantly.
“You’ve never shown any other girls around before,” Frodo remarked.
“That’s because they live in Tuckborough, dummy,” Perry retorted, then ducked out of the way of the wooden spoon Esme aimed at him.
“Don’t call your brother a dummy, Peregrin,” she said sternly.
Frodo sniffed and grinned at his brother. “Takes one to know one. Ow!”
Tamsyn bit back a laugh – Frodo obviously did not yet have the reflexes to avoid his mother’s kitchen tools. Then she said, “We should check up on Radagast first though.”
Perry shook his head. “I already did. It still doesn’t look like he’s been awake yet. We put some water and food by his bed, and it’s untouched.”
“Oh,” Tamsyn said, crestfallen.
Perry put his hand on hers. “Don’t worry, Tam, he’ll be fine. He’s a wizard, remember? They’re tougher than they look.”
She gave him a watery smile and nodded, and he patted her hand before drawing it away again with clear reluctance. Tamsyn finished her breakfast, though her appetite had all but disappeared.
Once she was done she went to fetch the green shawl she’d seen in her clothes chest, and joined Perry where he was waiting by the front door. He was wearing nut-brown trousers, a light brown shirt and a dark green jacket, and Tamsyn was getting more curious by the minute about what he had in mind.
There was another matter she had to settle first, though. Once they were out on the path she said, “I’ve been given to understand that you’re devious and a troublemaker, but I would have thought it below even you to use a three-year-old in your dastardly ploys.”
Perry smirked. “I’d have woken you up myself, but mother would have had a fit, and I couldn’t find anyone else to do it. Besides, I thought anyone but Adda might startle the life out of you.”
“Ahh, so you were being considerate?”
“Considerate is my middle name.”
She chuckled. “Of course. So, what are we hiding from today then?”
Perry didn’t answer. He had stopped in the middle of the path and held up his hand in a gesture to quieten her, his eyes fixed straight ahead. Tamsyn looked at him in confusion, but then he said loudly, “I know you’re there, Frodo. Come out where I can see you.”
A few seconds of suspicious silence followed, then the bushes ahead of them rustled and Frodo stepped out, looking chagrined. “How do you always know where I am?” he asked sullenly.
Perry said nothing, just smirked. Tamsyn flicked her gaze from him to his little brother, then decided he looked far too smug. “He didn’t, Frodo.”
Both gave her a surprised look, and Frodo said, “Eh?”
She grinned at him. “He doesn’t need to know where you are if you step out like a guilty boy whenever he tells you to. If you hadn’t come out, he’d have assumed you weren’t there and moved on.”
Sudden understanding dawned on Frodo’s face, and Perry gave her an exasperated look. “Three years I’ve managed to catch him out with that trick, and now you’ve given it away!” he sulked. “I thought he’d never figure it out.”
Tamsyn gave him an unapologetic grin. “That’s because he doesn’t have your devious streak yet. He’s still young and innocent.”
Frodo, clearly unhappy with being talked about rather than talked at, shoved his hands into his pockets and said, “Where are you going anyway? Tuckborough is that way.” He nodded to behind them, where they had come from, then lifted his chin defiantly.
“What, you want me to tell you so you can go and tell mother?” Perry said. “Not a chance. Go home, Frodo.”
“I don’t snitch on you!” Frodo said, straightening with affront.
Perry sighed. “No, you don’t, I know. Sorry. But,” he added, raising a finger, “mother still always finds out, even if you don’t mean for her to. So just go home, okay?”
Frodo stuck out his bottom lip, then looked at Tamsyn. “He’s going to get you into trouble, you know.”
Tamsyn smiled. “I can take care of myself, Frodo, don’t worry. And of him too, if I need to,” she added, cocking a thumb at Perry.
He looked from her to Perry, grinning at the idea of his big brother being looked after by a girl, then sobered again. “But what if you get caught?”
Tamsyn raised an eyebrow at Perry. “My, you really do have an… interesting reputation, don’t you?” she said with a half-smile, before turning back to Frodo. “I won’t get caught, but even if I do, they won’t be able to hold on to me,” she confided.
She considered a moment, then said, “I could show you, but I might hurt you.”
Frodo bit his lip in indecision, but before he could say anything, Perry spoke: “Use me.”
“What?” Tamsyn said.
“Show him, but use me. I doubt you could hurt me.” He looked her over, clearly dismissing her as a threat, and Tamsyn gave him a wicked grin.
“Fine,” she said, dropping her shawl on the ground. “Try and catch me.” She sprinted off, and Perry dashed after her. It only took a few seconds before he had caught her by the arm, but his cry of victory was cut short when Tamsyn suddenly stopped, turned her back on him and, using his momentum, casually flipped him over her shoulder. He landed on his back in the grass with a painful huff, and lay there for a few seconds with a look of extreme bafflement on his face. Tamsyn stood above him for a moment with a satisfied smile, then held out a hand to help him up.
As soon as he was back on his own two feet she danced out of reach, then stopped. “Try again.” She didn’t move, and this time Perry approached her more warily. He feinted, and her grin widened. “Come on then,” she taunted, and he lunged at her.
Again she used his own momentum against him, placing a foot in his stomach and rolling over backwards. For the second time Perry found himself on his back in the grass with the wind knocked out of him, and Frodo laughed in delight.
“Right, now I’m going to get serious,” Perry growled, getting up again. Tamsyn took one look at his face and ran off, giggling. He pursued her, and this time when he caught her arm and slowed her down he immediately transferred his grip to one of her braids. She stopped and he grabbed the other one too, reeling her in until he was holding her shoulders, her face inches from his own.
“Now I’ve got you,” he said with a triumphant smile, which wavered when she returned it with a knowing one of her own.
“What do you think, Frodo, has he got me?” she asked.
“No!” Frodo crowed. “Knock him over again!”
Perry tightened his grip, his palms suddenly sweaty, and gave Tamsyn a panicky look. “No way,” he said. “You can’t possibly… Not this time.”
“You think?” she said, then twisted, stuck her right leg behind his knees and yanked his legs out from underneath him. She fell with him, his hands still on her shoulders, and this time he ended on his back with her elbow almost touching his windpipe. He stared at her with wide eyes, and she beamed at him. All her judo lessons hadn’t been for nothing, after all.
“Do you yield?” she asked.
“Yes,” Perry croaked, and she let go, standing up and dusting herself off casually.
“And that, Frodo, is why they won’t catch me,” she said.
“That was amazing!” Frodo said, still bouncing. “How did you do that? Can I learn that?”
“Yes, you could, but it takes a long time and a lot of practice.”
His face fell. “Oh.”
Perry stood up with a groan, wincing as he straightened his back. “Right, that’s enough. Frodo, now you know we’ll be fine, so you can go home again. Bye.”
Frodo pouted. “Can’t I come with you?”
“I’ll be quiet!”
“Frodo, Perry and I would like to talk alone,” Tamsyn interrupted them, bending closer to the boy. “You can help us by telling anyone who asks that we’ve gone that way.” She pointed back to where they had come from. “It’ll be our secret. Will you do that for us?”
He thought for a moment, torn between following his big brother and doing something important and secret, then his sense of adventure took over. “Okay, I’ll tell anyone who asks that I saw you go towards the Green Hills.”
“Brilliant, I owe you one,” Tamsyn said, ruffling his hair.
He looked at her for a second, then blurted out, “When I grow up I want a girlfriend like you,” and dashed away down the path.
So what are Perry and Tamsyn hiding from? Find out in part nine!