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This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.
PART THIRTEEN – DESIRE
They left the wizard’s room, both too deep in thought to say anything. When they got to the kitchen, Perry started gathering bread, cheese, milk, butter and a bowl of fruit for a meal for them both. Again Tamsyn wondered whether she had gained a hobbit-like relationship with food together with her hobbit body, because she was hungry already, and the simple act of eating restored some of her composure.
“Where is everyone?” she asked, suddenly realising that the house was strangely quiet.
“Frodo is out with his friends, Izzy is in the garden somewhere,” Perry said. “Pala and his family left last night to go stay with Daisy’s relatives for a few weeks. Mother, father, Donna and Tulia have gone to visit Falco and Celandine Bracegirdle, who have just had their first child.”
Tamsyn raised an eyebrow. “And they left you here alone with me?”
He gave a wry grin. “Mother wasn’t happy about it, but father, of all people, told her to stop whittling on about it.” He looked at her and shook his head, eyes wide. “What did you tell my father yesterday? He’s never trusted me like that before.”
“I told him I wasn’t easily afraid,” Tamsyn said with a smirk.
Perry didn’t smile back; if anything he looked annoyed. “I guess he told you that I have a history of scaring off girls?”
“He did, but so did you yourself, yesterday.”
Perry gave an irritable shrug. “That was me. It’s something altogether different when your father says the same thing.”
“And do you think I care?” Tamsyn said. “Perry, I’m not afraid of you, and I never will be. Please believe that.” She reached out a hand to him across the table, and squeezed his fingers when he took it.
“Thank you,” Perry said. “I can’t tell you how much that means to me.” Their eyes locked, and Tamsyn felt a sudden charge in the air; a current that made her fingers tingle where they touched his. Her breath started going a little faster, and the look in Perry’s smoky green eyes was so intent that she couldn’t tear her gaze away.
When Perry looked away instead, she felt strangely disappointed.
“I, um, would like to wash myself,” she said after an awkward moment of silence. “Where can I do that?”
“It dep–” Perry coughed, then started again. “It depends. If you want a quick wash then there’s the rain butt outside. Or if you want a thorough, proper wash…? Then I can fill the bath for you, if you want,” he finished when Tamsyn nodded emphatically.
“Thanks, I would appreciate that very much.”
“Right,” he said, getting up. “Give me a hand, will you?” He left the room for a moment and returned with two empty wooden buckets. “Can you fill these with water from the pump outside?”
When she came back in, walking awkwardly with both brimming buckets, Perry had just finished raking up the fire in the giant cast-iron hob. He took a bucket from her and emptied it into the biggest kettle Tamsyn had ever seen, then set it to heat. Then he took the other bucket and beckoned her to follow, leading her to a room in the deep recesses of Great Smials.
Tamsyn looked around in curiosity when she went in, for this was clearly a hobbit bathroom. The floor was tiled and sloped gently towards a drain hole in the middle. Shelves on the wall held lopsided bars of soap and stacks of towels, and she smiled when she opened a cupboard and saw several cheeses, a loaf of bread and a small basket of dried apples.
Perry put the bucket aside, then walked towards a large copper tub which hung from the wall by one handle. It looked big enough for two hobbits, but he lifted it off its peg with apparent ease and dragged it over to the floor between the door and the drain hole, then emptied the bucket into it.
“Now it’s just a matter of filling it up,” he said, and left the room.
Tamsyn followed him, and between them they began the laborious process of filling buckets. It took sixteen trips each for them to fill the copper tub almost halfway, then they had to sit around and wait for several more kettles of water to boil to make the water nice and comfortable. With something akin to shame Tamsyn realised that she ought to have known that bathing would be a lot more complicated here than back in her luxury London penthouse. Yet when she tried to apologise to Perry for causing so much trouble he shook his head.
“I would run a bath for you every day, if you wanted me to,” he said with that smouldering look in his eyes that made her knees grow weak. Without conscious volition she walked into his embrace, and his kiss, and a tension in her body that she had not been aware of until that point ebbed away. It was their first proper kiss that day, she realised, and it felt like coming home.
She threaded her fingers into his hair, marvelling at how soft and silky it felt, and heat shot through her blood when he ran his hands up along her sides. His touch was tentative at first, but when she crooned and pressed closer he responded in kind, deepening the kiss and brushing his thumbs over her breasts.
Then the kettle started whistling, and Perry turned to it with a muttered curse, leaving her trembling as she tried to gather her scattered thoughts together.
It turned out to be the last kettle they needed. As Perry emptied it into the tub Tamsyn tested the water with her hand, and although her voice was a little wavery, she declared herself satisfied. Perry turned to the soap shelves, pointing out lavender, green apple, heather, rose and lilac, then dragged over a stool and placed several towels on it. He was already on his way out before Tamsyn had lifted her head again, and when she followed and stopped next to him, he indicated the bolt on the door.
She raised her eyes to him in surprise, but although his look was as intent as it had been before, he swallowed hard and shook his head emphatically. “Please, lock it,” he said hoarsely. “I don’t trust myself.”
I don’t mind, she wanted to say. Stay, watch, join me. Do whatever you want. But his eyes held such quiet, agonised apprehension that she swallowed it all and instead closed the door in his face, bolted it and rested her head against the doorframe.
“Perry!” she called, before he could walk away.
“Yes?” He sounded close, like he mirrored her pose on the other side.
“Please stay and talk to me. I want to hear your voice.”
“You… What do you want me to talk about?”
“Anything. Ask me questions, tell me things. I… I just want to hear your voice, know that you’re close.”
“I… Okay,” he said, and with a sigh of relief she turned and walked to the bath, shedding her clothes and underwear and unbraiding her hair, and Perry’s voice followed her.
He asked her about her life back in England, about what she did and what she was, and in return Tamsyn asked him about his childhood and his friends. When she got him to the point where it was mostly him talking, she leaned back and placed her hand between her legs, remembering his kisses and slowly bringing herself to orgasm to the sound of his voice.
She dried herself off, now smelling faintly of lilac, and wrapped one towel around her hair and the other around her body, tucking in the end just above her breasts. The bathroom was humid and steamy, so she picked up her dress in order to get dressed in her room.
Perry’s breath hitched and he stopped mid-sentence when she came through the door, his gaze taking in her naked shoulders and dropping to where the towel stopped, midway down her thighs. It made Tamsyn’s blood heat up again, especially since he had shed his shirt and she got another good view of the dark line that ran from his chest hair into the waistband of his low-slung trousers.
“I… I thought I’d use the, uh, the bath after you,” he stammered. “No use wasting the water.” He tore his gaze away and tried to push past her, but Tamsyn reacted before she could even think about it, and caught him around the waist.
They both sighed at the touch of skin on skin, and Tamsyn gave in to her impulse and pulled him close, burying her face in his neck to kiss his collarbone. She lifted her hand, traced her fingers through the soft, curly hair on his chest, then slowly let it drop again, following the line down.
“You’re so handsome,” she murmured, and with a groan Perry sought her mouth, sliding his tongue against hers until he drugged her senses. She dragged him closer still, responding with fervour, and when she felt the ridge of his erection against her belly she crooned and ground herself against him.
“Eä, Tam, don’t do this to me,” he suddenly whispered, and when she looked at him in confusion he tore loose and fled into the bathroom, bolting the door with such finality that Tamsyn felt like crying.
“Perry?” she asked, uncertain what she had done wrong.
“Please, Tam,” he replied, so close that he must have been leaning against it on the other side, “just… just leave me for a bit. Please.”
She ran to her room and threw herself on the bed, crying silently for a few minutes before she managed to calm down. As she combed her wet hair out with her fingers, patiently separating the long tresses, she thought she began to understand what the problem was. Perry wanted her, that was clear as glass, but for all that she had shown herself to be different from normal hobbit girls, he could not know that she wanted him just as much. This too was simply something too far outside his normal experience to even occur to him.
Kissing was one thing, sex was something else altogether.
It made her wonder whether she ought to push him further, ought to go that far with him. The thought was infinitely appealing, but their situation had not changed, and their imminent parting was still looming over them. Would it be fair to Perry if she had sex with him, when they both knew they would never see each other again?
For that matter, would it be fair on her?
Too many questions, she thought. With a sigh she dressed and went to the kitchen.
She was a fair way into her preparations for a beef stew with turnips, potatoes, peppers and onions when Perry finally entered the kitchen, moving so quietly that she didn’t hear him until he drew back a chair at the far end of the table with a scrape.
She whirled around and swallowed when she saw how far away he had chosen to sit, and turned back to her stew without a word.
“Tam, I… I’m sorry,” Perry said, and the misery in his voice made her sigh. This wouldn’t do at all.
“No, Perry, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have tempted you so,” she said, turning around again and meeting his eyes. He looked less tense somehow, and she wondered whether he had masturbated as well. “Please, don’t ever apologise for wanting me. It’s the biggest compliment you could give me.”
Misery turned to confusion, and she held out her hand to him. When he finally stood up and walked towards her she took both his hands and kissed them, then said, “I mean it. You have nothing to apologise for.”
“But–” he began, and she pressed a finger on his lips.
“No buts. No apologies.”
He stared at her for a moment more, then pulled her into a tight hug. “Oh Tam, I know I keep saying it, but you’re amazing.”
“So are you, Perry,” she said, returning the hug with relief.
When he pulled back he nodded to the stew behind her. “Do you need to watch that?”
“It’ll keep, if I stick it away from the fire. Why?”
“Let’s go sit on the hill for a while.”
What will they talk about on the hill? Find out in part fourteen!