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This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.
PART TWENTY-TWO – CATCH-UP
Once they had manhandled Radagast onto the big double bed, Tamsyn picked up the laptop again, and Andy sat down next to her. She tried all the links to the various sanity tests she had found, but became increasingly frustrated. Half of them were jokes, and the other half seemed to be the same, even if they purported to be serious. After fifteen minutes she thumped her fist on the table in frustration.
“Tam,” Andy said, “is it really that unbelievable, what you’re going to tell me?” She nodded, looking away, but he turned her face to him. “Try me anyway. I saw you disappear right in front of my eyes, leaving your clothes behind. I saw a great whirlwind in that cabin which didn’t touch anything other than you and him. That’s why I didn’t involve the police. What was I going to tell them? You weren’t kidnapped, you just… vanished.” He swallowed. “Was it… was it magic?”
She simply nodded and he sighed in relief. “Tam, for six days I’ve tried to think of possible ways in which you could vanish while leaving your clothes, and for six days the only thing I could come up with was magic. Which was even dafter than religion, but it couldn’t be religion, because you were the only one who disappeared. So whatever you’re going to tell me, I’ll believe it, because either we’re both sane, or we’re both insane.”
For a few moments she looked into his eyes, gauging his feelings, then finally nodded. “Okay. Let’s sit over there then, because this will take a while.” She gestured at a set of low, comfortable chairs around a small table. “Let’s order some room service too, or at least a big pot of tea.”
Andy did so, and when he hung up the phone and sat down, Tamsyn took a deep breath. “Did you ever read The Lord of the Rings? Or The Hobbit?”
“Absolutely, lots of times.”
“I thought you might have,” Tamsyn said with a nod, then gestured to the sleeping figure on the bed. “That is Radagast the Brown.”
Andy stared at her blankly, then slowly turned his head to look at the wizard, taking in the robe, the makeshift shoes and the white scraggly hair. “I take it that it wasn’t just his appearance that convinced you of that?”
“No. What convinced me that he wasn’t some batshit crazy old fool from a nearby mental institution was the fact that he made me disappear right in front of you, and reappear in the middle of the Shire.” When his eyes widened she added, almost as an afterthought, “As a hobbit.”
Andy’s mouth sagged open. “He turned you into a hobbit?” At her solemn nod he rubbed his face a few times, then took a deep breath and sat forward. “Okay, tell me everything.”
So she did. Her initial account was brief and to the point, and recounted her arrival in the Shire, her stay with the Tooks, Radagast’s explanation of the portal and the importance of not building on it, and why it had taken nearly a week for her to return. She went into more detail when Andy asked questions, but throughout her account she avoided speaking of Perry as much as she was able to. An hour later she had drank three cups of tea, and Andy sat back in his chair, shaking his head.
“I can see why you wanted to convince me you’re sane first, because this does sound ludicrous beyond reason.”
“But you believe me anyway?” Tamsyn asked, holding her breath as she waited for his answer. She could do what she needed to do without Andy, but she didn’t want her only true friend to turn away from her.
“If you hadn’t disappeared before my eyes…” He shook his head again, then smiled. “But you did, and whatever happened over there, you’re still the Tamsyn I know. I can’t see any signs that make me think you’re crazy, so yes, I believe you.”
Tamsyn let out her pent up breath in relief, but froze when Andy added, “But there’s something else that you’re not telling me. What aren’t you telling me, Tam?”
She fixed her gaze on a random whorl in the pattern on the carpet, suddenly blinking away tears. “I haven’t told you about Perry,” she whispered.
“Is he the one who found you? The Took lad who took you to his family and put you up for a week?”
She nodded, squeezing her eyes shut, but it had no effect on the flood of tears that had now been unleashed. She took a breath which came out as a sob, and then Andy was on his knees in front of her, wrapping his arms around her in comfort. “Tamsyn, what’s up? What’s the matter?”
“I love him,” she managed to bring out, and then she broke down and bawled on his shoulder for the next five minutes, with Andy awkwardly patting her on the back and trying to calm her down, to no avail. Finally her sobs subsided and she wiped at her nose and eyes with her sleeve, until Andy gently pushed her hands away and dabbed at her cheeks with a tissue.
“You managed to fall in love with him in six days?” he asked, disbelief lacing his voice.
Tamsyn shook her head. “No. It took a day to fall in love with him. Six days for me to know that he’s the only man I’d ever want to marry.”
“Wow,” Andy said. “He must be something special.”
“And he? Does he love you?”
She nodded miserably. “Leaving him has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. He was stood there watching me, and he was crying… Oh God, I’ll never see him again!” She burst into a fresh fit of tears and Andy resorted to patting her back again.
“So that’s why you’ve changed,” he said when she’d calmed down again, shaking his head in wonder. “You’re in love. I’ve never seen you in love before.”
“I haven’t been in love for… I don’t know, eight years? Nobody seemed worth getting all hot and bothered about.” She dabbed at her eyes again with the tissue.
“I’d like to hear about him, if… if you can, and if you don’t mind,” Andy said carefully.
Tamsyn’s eyes unfocused and she gave a wistful sigh. “He’s cheerful, and handsome. Black hair, broad shoulders, strong… And he’s got the most beautiful dark green eyes I’ve ever seen. They’ve got these little black flecks in them that somehow sparkle when he smiles at me. I know that makes no sense, but they do…”
And then it all spilled out. Tamsyn talked and talked, and this time Andy simply listened. After an hour and a half he ordered another pot of tea, and the remaining contents of it were long cold by the time she finally finished.
“He does sound like he’s one in a million,” Andy remarked. “And he’s there and you are here… I don’t know what to say, Tam. I am so, so sorry for you.”
She made a helpless gesture. “I’ll have to get over him somehow, though God knows how I’ll do it. And I have to try and save him. I’ll never forgive myself if I allow that portal to be damaged.”
“Do you know where it is exactly?”
“No, only Radagast does, and he’ll need a few more days sleep before he’ll be able to show us. In the meantime I must try and buy the site. What time is it?”
“Seven thirty. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow before we can get started on that.”
“Fuck,” Tamsyn said with feeling, then yawned. “To be fair, I’m knackered. I could do with some sleep.”
Andy raised an eyebrow. “Is travelling between worlds that tiring?”
“Not for me, only for him,” she replied, pointing at Radagast. “No, I spent last night in Perry’s bed, so I didn’t get much sleep.”
“Oh!” Andy said, his eyes widening. “Um, does that mean that you…?”
“Oh yes. Yes, I did.” Then, with a shock, Tamsyn realised that she could be pregnant. She wasn’t on the pill, and didn’t know whether hobbits even knew of contraceptives. There certainly hadn’t been any thought or mention of protection the night before. Automatically she placed a hand on her stomach, fervently wishing it to be true; a child would not only be the best, but the only memento she might ever have of him.
“Well, I’d better go and arrange another hotel room then,” Andy interrupted her thoughts. “I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of sharing a bed with old beardy here.”
Tamsyn gave him a half-smile, then placed a hand on his arm. “Andy, would you… would you mind sharing with me tonight?” she asked, her eyes pleading.
He stared at her. “Well, as long as you’re not looking for any more nookie,” he tried to joke. “You know I’m not into that sorta stuff with women.”
“No, I know. I just… I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
“Hey, you know I’ll always be there for you,” Andy said, putting his hand over hers.
“I know. I’m glad I have you.” She hugged him, then tried to walk away, giving him a questioning look when he wouldn’t let go.
“Tam, please smile at me? I’ve never known you not to smile at my jokes, no matter how bad they are.”
She bit her lip. “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure that I can. Without Perry I have nothing to smile about.”
With that she walked away, and Andy looked after her, his heart aching for her.
Can Tamsyn buy the site and save the portal? Find out in part twenty-three!