A Shire Romance – Part Twenty-eight

Missed the start? All installments can be found here.

Or go back to part twenty-seven.

This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.

PART TWENTY-EIGHT – BACK TO THE SHIRE

With the truth now out, Tamsyn spent all of her remaining time in a frenzy of activity with Andy, planning her departure down to the minutest details. She made sure that to the public and the paparazzi she still presented the same melancholy image of the past months, but as the twenty-second of May came ever closer, she became jittery with anticipation.

Much as she hated to fake something as traumatic and serious as suicide, Tamsyn had not been able to think of any other way to accomplish her disappearance, and she and Andy had decided that it would ‘take place’ at Beachy Head on the south coast of England. Sadly enough it was a popular location for it, but the lack of a body could be attributed to it being washed away with the tide. Tamsyn would leave her car there with a suicide note, then disguise herself and take public transport to Somerset, paying in cash all along the way.

Andy booked himself and Rhys onto a two-week Caribbean cruise which was due to start a week before the designated date of the meeting with Radagast, and the night before his departure he and Tamsyn spent talking and saying their goodbyes.

“I will miss you, you know,” Tamsyn said at one point, squeezing his hand.

“I know,” he replied, squeezing hers back. “I’ll miss you too. But I’ll know where you are, and that you’ll be happy, and I’ll have Rhys to distract me.”

“I’m sorry you can’t tell him what will really happen to me.”

“That’s a secret I’ll just have to live with. I’ll be fine, Tam. Just look after yourself, and make sure you don’t get recognised on your way to Somerset.”

“Mmm, I’ve got a foolproof way to ensure that,” she said with a smile.

“Oh?”

“I’ll wear a pair of shoes.”

 *   *   *   *   *

The last few days on her own Tamsyn spent pacing around the house, then on the twentieth of May she could finally set her plan in motion. She checked her disguise in the mirror – a plain headscarf to hide her hair and baggy, nondescript clothing to hide her figure – then tucked a pair of running shoes in her bag and left the house. There was a lone photographer camped on the pavement, and she made sure he got a good shot before she got in her car. She knew she had gained little weight and that her pallor was unfashionably pale, which would confirm her distressed state of mind.

The drive to Beachy Head took a few hours, and she arrived there late in the evening. She knew there were always suicide patrols scanning the area, so when a man approached her car she quickly drove away again and returned an hour later.

She abandoned the car and walked through the night, then just before dawn she donned the scarf and put on the shoes. They felt tight and constricting after so many months without, but she shrugged off the feeling and headed for the nearest village to find a bus going west.

The trip to Bristol was long and dreary, made worse by the usual hiccups and glitches in the British public transport system, but once there she found a local bus service which took her to the village near the site. From there she set out on foot, as if going out for a hike.

She was tired to the bone when she finally got to the site. The fences had gone, since the nature reserve was accessible to all, and at the first bin she could find she took off everything but her underwear, then wrapped herself into a picnic blanket. A pile of abandoned clothes might raise suspicions, but an abandoned blanket was unlikely to. She wasn’t certain about the underwear, but she had to draw a line somewhere, even if she was almost too tired to care. Once she reached the portal she wrapped herself into the blanket and fell into exhausted sleep.

Dawn tickled her awake, damp and shivering. To pass the time she combed out her hair with her fingers, then started counting birds, wondering with every one whether it was one of the shrikes. Around mid-morning her nerves got the better of her and she started pacing, increasingly worried that Radagast wouldn’t show. Then, after yet another fifteen-pace circle, she turned and found him looking at her.

“Radagast!” she called, weak with relief, and ran to him, hugging him with one arm and clutching the blanket to her with the other.

“Good day, Tamsyn,” he said, giving her a bemused look. “Do you have good news for me?”

“Good news, and a request,” Tamsyn said, her heart now beating in her throat.

“Very well, I’m listening.”

“The news is that the site is secure. It is a nature reserve for as long as my money can pay for it. I’ve made sure that that’s a very long time.”

Radagast breathed a sigh of relief. “That is the best news you could give me. I have news for you too. Or rather, a message.”

“From…?”

“From the Thain. He listened to my story, and asked me to pass on his gratitude, if I ever saw you again. He said he understood, though it saddened him.”

“And… and Perry?”

“Peregrin did not look well, I’m afraid. He cried when I passed on your message, and his words in return are that he loves you still, and misses you more with every day.”

Tamsyn let out her pent up breath. “When did you speak to them?”

“When I returned, six months ago. I have not seen them since. I have been at home, in Rhosgobel. Now, what is your request?”

Tamsyn straightened and looked him in the eyes. “Please, take me back with you.”

He looked at her for a full minute before he spoke. “You are sure of this?”

“Absolutely. There is nothing left for me here. Please, take me back, turn me back into a hobbit and let me stay in the Shire forever. The spell… the spell is permanent, right?” She felt a sudden stab of terror as it occurred to her that it might not be.

“Yes, the spell is permanent,” he replied, and she nearly collapsed in relief.

“I’m serious, Radagast. All my affairs are in order and Andy will take on everything I own. But for me… Well, matters are very simple. I cannot live without Perry.”

He looked at her for a moment more, and Tamsyn felt like he was scrutinising her soul again, like on the first day she had met him. Then he smiled, and it was as if the sun appeared from behind the clouds. “Very well, Tamsyn Moriarty,” he said. “I believe you will make a certain young hobbit very happy today. Let us delay no further.”

He held out his hand, and this time she gripped it willingly, closing her eyes in anticipation as the wind started whipping round her and Radagast’s voice echoed in her ears. For the third time, the world around her went black as she lost consciousness.

 *   *   *   *   *

The first thing she noticed when she came to was the purity of the air around her. This time it smelled like spring, and the slightly moist ground felt warm to the touch. Once her dizziness and blurred vision had passed she checked her feet, and nearly cried with joy when she found them to be large and hairy. Her ears were next, and tapered to a very satisfying point. She once again wore a shift-like garment and nothing else, and when she called for Radagast and found him, he towered over her like a giant. He was also exhausted again, and she tried to catch him as he sat down hard on the ground.

“I’m afraid I can’t carry you this time,” she said, “but I’ll send help for you, I promise.”

“It’s fine, Tamsyn, there is nothing here that could or would harm me. Go find your young man, I’ll be fine.” With that he fell asleep, and Tamsyn looked around to try and get her bearings. It had been mid-morning back in England, so logic dictated it would be mid-morning in the Shire too. She peered at the sun through the trees, determining an approximate south, then turned west, towards where she knew Great Smials should be.

She started off at a walk, but broke into a trot when she found a well-worn path. By the time it led to the big boulder that marked the boundary of the Smials garden proper she was out of breath, though she didn’t slow down. The bright green Smials door was wide open and she dashed inside and to the kitchen, knowing that even if Perry wasn’t there, she’d at least find Esme.

The hobbit matron sat at the table, together with a young woman who bore a striking resemblance to Perry, though her hair was brown like Faramir’s. She was nursing a baby with a head of bright auburn hair, and both women looked up in surprise at Tamsyn.

Esme gasped and fainted, sliding to the floor with a thump.

“Oh, shit,” Tamsyn muttered, running over and trying to drag the woman back upright. She gave a sheepish grin at the younger woman, who was hampered by the baby at her breast, and said, “Uh, hi. You must be Diamond.”

The woman’s smile widened. “So I am. And I can guess who you must be, judging by your looks and my mother’s reaction. Here, use this.” She handed Tamsyn the baby’s wiping cloth and pointed at a cup of water on the table.

Tamsyn poured a little water on the cloth and wiped Esme’s forehead with it until the woman came to. When she focused on Tamsyn she nearly fainted again, but then she clamped her into an embrace that left her breathless.

“Tamsyn, is that really you?” she whispered.

“Yes, Esme. I’m back.”

She helped the woman back to her feet and suffered another rib-cracking hug. “Oh, you’re a sight for sore eyes! Let me look at you!” She pushed Tamsyn to arm’s length and tutted. “You look as bad as he does, poor lamb. Come, sit down, tell me everything! Are you here to stay? Do you want something to eat?”

“Mother!” Diamond’s voice was amused. “Don’t you think there’s someone else she’d rather speak to first?”

Tamsyn gave her a grateful look, while Esme put a hand to her mouth. “Oh! Of course, what am I thinking?”

“Where is he?” Tamsyn asked, turning to Diamond for further help.

“He’s on the hill with my husband,” the woman replied with a warm smile. “I’m sure you know the spot.”

“I do, thank you,” Tamsyn said, then rushed back outside without a further word.

How has Perry been in Tamsyn’s absence? Find out in part twenty-nine!

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