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This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.
PART SIXTEEN – TROUBLE
Tamsyn nodded, giving Perry another smouldering look, then twirled away, past Donna and Tommy, past Boar with a pretty blonde girl and all the way to the other side of the clearing, where she nearly collided with a short, stocky hobbit who had planted himself squarely in her path. As she checked herself and regained her balance she tried to recall where she had seen him before, and then it came to her: this was Colman Chubb, the melon farmer’s son.
He looked her up and down and smiled unpleasantly. “So, the melon thief has finally managed to find himself a girlfriend, has he?” he sneered. “You’re a comely wench, I’ll give him that.”
Tamsyn gave him one disdainful look then turned to walk away, but he grabbed her arm and stopped her. His sweaty palm made her skin crawl, but she remained still, reluctant to cause a scene in the middle of the celebrating hobbits.
“Oh, you’re the haughty type?” Colman said, tightening his grip. “Think you’re better than us?” He leered closer, and Tamsyn leaned away from the sour, beery smell of his breath. “Has he fucked you yet?”
She froze, but otherwise gave no reaction to the profanity, and Colman looked almost disappointed. Then his eyes narrowed.
“I bet he has, you little slut,” he hissed. “I saw you kissing him. You like getting kissed like that in public, do you? Shall I give you a kiss, slip you the tongue like that?” He stuck out his tongue and wriggled it at her.
Tamsyn recoiled further. “I would sincerely advise against trying that,” she warned him in a voice of frosted steel.
“Oh, you would, would you?” he sneered. “Or what, your boyfriend is going to get me? Don’t see him here now, do I?”
He couldn’t, no, but behind Colman Tamsyn could see Perry pushing his way through the partygoers toward her. He was still too far to interfere though, and Colman gave a lecherous laugh and grabbed Tamsyn by the shoulder with his other hand, yanking her closer. “Come on then, bitch, give us a kiss,” he taunted, his tongue protruding like a wet, brown slug.
Tamsyn’s judo training took over and she reacted out of instinct. She grabbed the hand on her shoulder and twisted it outwards whilst freeing her arm from his grip with a quick twist. Then she locked his arm by pressing her other hand against his elbow, making him bend backwards awkwardly to stop the pain. As he stood there like that she hooked her foot behind his knees and pulled his legs out from beneath him so that he made a half-somersault and crashed to the floor, just as Perry arrived.
Others now noticed what was going on and gathered around in consternation. Colman started to scramble up, and Tamsyn knew without a doubt that he would lunge at her again. In a flash of insight she also realised that although she was capable of dispatching him herself, if she didn’t let Perry deal with him now, he would lose all respect for himself. So she nimbly stepped aside and left the floor to Perry, who balled his fist in quiet fury and landed it on Colman’s jaw just as he came fully upright. He crumpled back to the ground without another word.
“Tam?” Perry’s face showed a mixture of anger and worry as he pulled her into his arms. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”
Tamsyn clung to him as the delayed shock finally hit and her legs gave way, and she took a deep, shuddering breath when Perry hugged her even tighter.
“I’ll kill him,” he growled in her ear, rocking her from side to side.
“No! Let it go,” Tamsyn said urgently. “He’s not worth it. Just… let’s just go home, please.”
He swung her up into his arms without another word, and she clung to his neck as he walked away from the party, his eyes fixed straight ahead, ignoring everyone’s anxious questions.
They moved into the dark maze of Tuckborough’s streets, the shadows long in the light of the waxing moon, and after about five minutes Tamsyn tried to shift. “You can put me down now, Perry, I can walk again.”
“No,” he said hoarsely. “I’m carrying you.”
She protested no further, instead pulling herself tighter to him and kissing the skin in his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“I saw how you threw him on the floor,” Perry said, sounding like he was about to cry. “You didn’t look like you needed my help.”
“Yes, I did,” she replied. “I needed you to punch him for me, which I never would have managed. I needed you to stand up for me, which no one else did. And most of all I needed – still need – someone to hold me, and make me forget that his filthy hands touched me.”
“Oh, Eä, Tam, I let him touch you,” Perry sobbed, hugging her so tight that she could barely breathe.
“Perry, sweetheart, hush,” she said, stroking his face. “You also punched him for me. It more than balances out.” She kissed him until he calmed down, then started walking again.
When they arrived at Great Smials, Perry still refused to put her down. He carried her all the way to the great lounge, to where Faramir and Esme sat in their comfortable chairs. Between them on the sofa were Izzy and Frodo, both talking loudly over each other as they seemed to try and convince Faramir of something. They fell silent when they saw Perry, however, who finally placed Tamsyn back on her feet.
“What’s going on here?” he asked.
“That’s what I’m trying to establish,” Faramir replied, rubbing his eyes. “Izzy just ran in to say that you knocked out Colman Chubb, and then Frodo came in right after him to tell me that Tamsyn did it. Neither seem to be able to tell me why either of you would, though.”
“I told you, father!” Frodo said indignantly. “He attacked Tamsyn!”
“No, he didn’t!” Izzy shouted over him. “He was talking to her, and then Perry hit him!”
“Enough!” Faramir said, raising his hands. “Go to bed, both of you.”
Frodo stomped his feet. “But father, he–”
“I said enough!”
Frodo pouted, but stood up and slunk away. Izzy followed, and when the door closed behind him Faramir rubbed his face again.
“Now, I’m hoping you two can tell me what really happened,” he said, though his eyes were focused on Perry. Tamsyn squeezed his hand, willing him to not lose his temper.
“Frodo was right,” Perry said, his voice tight. “Colman attacked Tamsyn. He put his filthy hands on her and tried to kiss her. So yes, I punched him, and I would do it again and again if I had to.”
Tamsyn squeezed his hand again, but Faramir gave his son a bemused stare. “But why did Colman try to assault Tamsyn?”
“You two have been a little… overt with each other,” Esme entered the conversation, her voice reproachful. “I’ve never seen any two people kiss each other like you two did tonight.”
Perry turned to her. “Are you saying that Colman attacked Tamsyn because I kissed her? That he assumed that if she kissed one person like that, she must like kissing everyone else the same way?”
“Well, it’s just not done…” Esme faltered under her son’s furious stare and turned pleading eyes to Tamsyn. “Surely you agree with me, dear? Proper girls just shouldn’t do that!”
Tamsyn’s mouth fell open, and Perry’s hand clenched around hers. “Mother, leave her out of this, she–” he began, but she stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Esmeralda,” she said, using the woman’s full name for emphasis, “in the short time I have been here I have grown to love you like a mother.” Then her voice turned steely. “But if you choose to disagree with Perry, do not ever expect me to take your side against his.”
Esme gave her a look as if she’d just come face to face with a sheep, only to discover it had claws. “Even if he’s wrong?” she asked.
“Perry can do no wrong,” Tamsyn stated. “I don’t care what accusations you level at him or what habits you don’t want him to have. He is my chosen and he can do no wrong. And as for Colman Chubb…” She took a shuddering breath. “If Perry had done anything other than punch him, he wouldn’t be Perry. He did exactly what he should have done. And if he wants to kiss me then he can do so for as long as he likes, and I don’t care if there’s two, twenty or two hundred people watching.”
She whirled around and threw her arms around Perry, seeking his comfort, and he squeezed her gently as he buried his face in her hair.
Then Faramir cleared his throat and Tamsyn stiffened. She expected a lecture, or a point of contention, so was surprised when he said, “Esme, my love, our Perry has found himself that rare gem of a woman who is willing to stick by him, regardless of what he does.”
Tamsyn raised her head and looked at Perry, though her words were aimed at Faramir. “Maybe you, as his parents, should consider doing so as well sometimes, instead of always telling him off for being who he is.”
There was a shocked silence behind her, and even Perry stared at her in astonishment, but then Faramir gave a chuckle which turned into a laugh and then a full-blown guffaw.
“Well, that’s us told,” he eventually managed to say. “Twice today too, for me!” He stood up and walked over to Tamsyn, took her by the shoulders and kissed her forehead. “Welcome to the family, my dear. I think you may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to our Perry.”
Tamsyn managed a smile, but she could not look Faramir in the eyes for more than a second. Instead she turned back to Perry, giving him a look full of apology for what she knew she would have to do to him. An ever larger part of her wished that she could simply forget about England and stay here, but she resolutely kept pushing the thought away. If she dwelt on it for too long, she knew she’d be lost.
Perry gave her a small nod, and she lowered her eyes again. “Good night,” she said, turning to go to her room. Perry followed without another word to his parents, but he stopped her in the corridor just outside her bedroom door.
“Wait a minute,” he said, then dashed away. He returned five minutes later, out of breath and holding out another red rose.
Tamsyn felt tears well up as she took it. “Oh, Perry…” she whispered. “Thank you, I–”
She faltered when she looked at him and saw the intense hope in his eyes. She had been about to tell him that she loved him, that she didn’t want to leave him, but now she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Their future together was bleak, nonexistent, and the last thing she ought to do was encourage him.
Instead she fled into her room and threw herself on the bed, not even bothering to undress. She pressed the rose to her face, inhaling its sweet fragrance, and eventually cried herself to sleep.
Will Colman’s actions have consequences? Find out what happens in part seventeen!