3. Days of Death
Days of Death
The Shire was never the same again. Many towns had been destroyed, and in the years that followed most days were spent rebuilding them. There was more joy in the Shire then. The enemy was gone, we had a new beginning. There was also however much misery. Lives had been lost, homes destroyed and spirits shaken. Most of the joy I saw and experienced seemed to be just one way of hiding our pain.
Years passed during which Ferumbras and I returned to Tuckborough, hoping to live in peace and happiness for the rest of our lives. Fortinbras grew older of course, and we spent long days in the garden planting herbs. Gardening did not seem to bring joy for me any longer though, the memory of my garden in Waymoot would constantly haunt me, and the older Fortinbras grew, the less he fancied flowers and the more he fancied swords and bows.
So it was that each year I grew apart from my son and my garden. Ferumbras saw that I was ailing and he would try every day to make me laugh. I loved him all the more for it, but hated him as well for being able to go on, to forget all the misery I endured. He lived with glory and renown, I lived only with the death that followed the battle. No glory for Mirabella Took, only memories.
I remained a Midwife, for my love of caring for others did not end, but I felt as though the beauty of the world had had a veiled placed over it and was forever to be in shadow for me. My son, my husband, myself... all shadows of what they had once been.
These years did come to an end though. As the Shire was rebuilt, my spirit was also and it was on a cold winter's morning in 1150 that it came to my attention that I was pregnant once more. That night the house was ablaze with warmth and joy as we celebrated this. I recalled my sincerest wish to have a family when I was younger and all my sorrow left me then.
It was in September when the leaves were just beginning to fall that Angelica Took was born. My first daughter. The dark veil had been lifted and I was given a daughter. How many hours I spent holding my daughter and taking in her beauty I cannot tell you. She was my daughter, my Angelica. I no longer missed my dear old Midwife, because here she lay in my arms.
Fortinbras, being only six did not care for her nearly as much as I did, he had wanted a brother after all, but Ferumbras loved her as I did and I felt then that my dear family couldn't have been happier, or indeed more whole. We had wished to live in peace and happiness for the rest of our lives, and so we were.
I would take Angelica into the garden with me, and although my love for gardening was nothing like it once had been, I found joy in it once more and began teaching Angelica the herbs. Even though she was only an infant I began to imagine what she would be when she came of age. Would she too, be a Midwife? Would she become a house wife? Whom would she marry? How many children would she have? Would she be happier than I?
Perhaps my mother used to think this as she watched me sleep. What would she think of my life now? Would she be proud of me? Had she been proud of me? What did my mother and father think of me before they died? Those were the only sad thoughts that I had in those happy times. I felt as though nothing could again bring my spirit down.
Three years later I had yet another daughter, my last child. Ferumbras named her Donnamira after myself and his mother, and I thought it a very good name for her. Fortinbras was by this time nearly ten and more troublesome than any Took or Waymoot, as far as I knew. Every day he would find some way or another to get himself into (and less often) out of trouble. Having yet another sister meant to him that he would have to find a more efficient way of finding followers. Angelica however, loved having a sister and would spend every moment that she could looking over her.
How was I to know that the Long Winter was coming? How could any of us have known that although the Shire was plentiful and happy once more, that I would be taken back? A final test for the Shire, and the final sorrow for I.
The winter of 1157 came early and simply never left. At first we thought nothing of it, there was more snow than we were used, but the children enjoyed playing in it. The parents didn't have this comfort though, and had to concentrate on the cost of keeping the house warm and feeding their families.
I worked more that winter then I can ever remember. Sickness began to plague us, and my saved herbs were quickly running out. Food became scarce, every day people were sicker and hungrier and when spring arrived, we were faced with the horrible truth that no flower would bloom and no crop would be sewn.
Panic nearly swept the Shire, but we stayed strong... at first. We knew that our food supplies would not last us long, for we had never planned for such a horrible event to fall upon us. My own supplies of herbs I knew were not nearly enough for the increasing sickness, I was forced to give out smaller amounts, but knew that it would have nearly no effect. Ferumbras and Fortinbras had to go out hunting to find us food, but there was little more than birds to hunt in the Shire.
I tried to keep Angelica and Donnamira inside as much as possible, knowing that because they were young they were more susceptible to sickness. Out of fear of becoming ill myself from patients and passing it onto them, I tried to stay away from them as much as possible, touching them only in the most dire circumstances. Most days I found myself cleaning my house over and over, trying to kill any disease and then I would clean my children before and after they did anything.
When 1158 came around and we saw that the winter was becoming worse, we finally did panic. Almost all animals were gone and so food was near impossible to find. We would go days without so much as a bite. The death toll became so high that we could no longer ignore it. People were now dying from sickness and hunger. Those hobbits who had pets would, only out of desperation, eat them.
My own family became sick and weak. Ferumbras and Fortinbras were almost never at home, always out hunting for food, fighting wolves or working on farms to receive a small portion of what crops were able to grow, and they were very few. Ferumbras and Bandobras also spent much of their time caring for their sick and dying father, Isumbras. Everyone knew that he would not last this, but continuing to hope for the best, he was carefully brought to live with us, Bandobras stayed with us afterwards as well.
Donnamira was only four, and sickness claimed her first. Weeks I spent pouring over her, using everything I had learned in my years to save her, but it was futile. My dear Donna, my youngest daughter, died on that excuse for a summer and I was left with the knowledge that I could not save her. I had let my daughter die.
The end seemed nearer then, nearer even then when Orcs charged on me. Death seemed inevitable. After her death I stopped caring for others, I stopped being a Midwife and waited for death to claim us all. I waited long months, and death did not come, but something else did that none of us expected.
Gandalf came to the Shire.
When first I layed eyes on him, it was from the window in my hobbit hole. He came to Tuckborough. We were one of the last towns he visited in his mission of salvation. When he first arrived at Tuckborough his reputation had preceded him. He was known for his magic, how he had made crops grow and warmth come. How he had healed many who were sick and fed more who were hungry. He did not banish the winter, but he made it far more bearable.
He came to our home first, passing by desperate hobbits who reached out for him. He would hand them a loaf of bread and continue on his way. He came to us because of the position of our family, Isumbras was Thain - though his son presided in his sickness - and he knew me to be a Midwife of great talent.
I saw him walk to our door and knock with his great staff and I wondered at him because I had never seen a man of such height, grace and power. There seemed to go with him a hope and I felt for but a moment that things might become much better for us hobbits.
Tea was served and the entire family, Isumbras excluded, sat down with him and began speaking about the condition of the Shire. He told us something of his past, how he was a Wizard and was here to help all the free peoples of Middle-Earth. He told us how things would get better, but there was still a hard road before us.
I won't bore you with all the talk of planning and medicine and crops that was discussed. To tell you that Gandalf had many ideas on how to help the Shire is enough. However the season was getting colder and we knew that soon it would be 1159. Sickness and hunger were always worse in the real winter, and so all knew that only a little help could be given, but Gandalf was sure that it would be given.
When the men left to hunt, Gandalf stayed behind with me and Angelica. I was nervous of speaking with him, because already I had such a strong reverence of him, but he seemed to like my company and I soon found myself speaking gaily with him. He let me forget about the troubles of the Shire and I began to tell him many stories of what the Shire had been like, such stories I was sure he had heard before, but was polite to listen to me nonetheless.
The subject of pipe-weed eventually came up when I saw that he had a pipe, and as I told him of the fine pipe-weed that we had, my spirit shrunk again because I felt as if those crops would never again grow.
"It sounds like a marvellous weed," he said, speaking lightly as he saw my disparity. "I will try it when the crops are sewn again."
There were times when we would also speak of herbs and medicine. He taught me a great deal that I did not know, and I think I thought him a few tricks of my own. But such talks were hopeless because there was no way they we could use them, with herbs not growing and sicknesses being far beyond our healing.
My favourite talks though, had nothing to do with the Shire or herbs, they had to do with the rest of the world. I asked Gandalf much about the going ons of other places, at first he was shocked of this, because not many hobbits worried beyond their own borders, but was soon enchanted by my curiosity and told me great stories of great battles and good times of Elves and Men and Dwarves. He told me for the rise and fall of kingdoms and love stories from lands long lost. He taught me and Angelica many songs from these places as well and when we sang them the house seemed warm and happy once more.
He had a kind smile and a gentle look and he became to me like a father. He spent many months with us during that hard winter, the hardest of all. Bodies were layed out in the streets and we would go out to burry them with heavy hearts so that the wolves would not eat them. Gandalf was always helping to cheer and take care of us. He would go off for days at a time to help the neediest and return exhausted, but hid it behind a smile. He was our saviour.
When spring was approaching, and the whether mildly lifting, Isumbras Took III died, his old age could no longer hold off sickness and he died in his sleep. Ferumbras became the Thain then, but none rejoiced. Things went on as they ever did, in an unbearable misery on us all. My talks with Gandalf were fewer now and I found myself losing all hope once more.
One day during a grey summer of dead plants and dying people, Gandalf came to me for my assistance. He had with him, to my greatest surprise and delight a bag of herbs. He said it had taken him long to gather them all, and now that he had them he wanted me to go out and help the Shire once more. Of course I was hesitant at first.
Why was I needed? Who would take care of Angelica? What could I even do to help? Gandalf's answers were simple. I was not the first person he had asked to help, many doctors and Midwives had been asked to lend all their talents to the sick, and he knew that I had great knowledge in the matter. Angelica, he said, could be taken care of by Fortinbras.
I can remember sitting by my daughter's bed, holding the bag of herbs and thinking about how much I loved her, and I had loved Donnamira. Then I thought of all the other poor mothers in the Shire who had lost their children, and might lose their children. I know I had to help them, and I knew that I would have to leave my dearest Angelica.
For the second time, I left my child.
What a wonderful tale it would be if I said that I travelled far and long, going down my old paths and helping those in need by the side of Gandalf, but it was not so. I did not travel far, and Gandalf was not with me either. The paths were cold and there was a constant fear of wolves in the air. The sick were everywhere, and I felt like no amount of help that I gave them did any good.
I did not travel for very long. The entire summer I was gone, and by the end as the colder weather descended on us, my herbs were gone as well, and so I returned home wondering if I had done any good, and whether or not Gandalf would ask me to leave once again.
I returned home and came face to face with a nightmare. Angelica laid in her bed, a fever deep-set on her and there was nothing I could do.
How I cursed myself for having left her! How I cried at not having saved any herbs for my family. How I hoped and wished harder than anything that Gandalf would soon return to save my dearest little one! I thought that if I had come home sooner, I might be able to do something, but all my thoughts were hopeless. I knew that my daughter was going to die.
Those long days and nights, I sat by her bed, singing the song Gandalf had taught us. She would stare at ceiling as if death had already taken her, but there were times when as I sang, her eyes would light up... but always, they would return to their darkened state and I would turn to fear once more.
Gandalf did return, and this time he did not knock. He threw open the door and ran through the halls. He had heard of Angelica's sickness and had returned as fast as he could. He found me siting in my daughter's room, crying as I held the hand of my dead daughter. The last of my spirits faded in the fleeting moment that Angelica had ceased to breathe and I was left with nothing.
My family mourned over her loss, as did Gandalf, but their tears would not bring back Angelica or Donnamira. I gave up on the Shire, I could nt longer care for its fate and told Gandalf that I would never heal again.
He put his warm hands on my shoulder and looked at me with sad eyes
"You are a brave girl, the finest Took - no hobbit, I have ever met," he smiled his kind smile, and all I could do was cry in his arms.
I retired to my bed, and that is where I stayed. The winter came, less harsh then before and I saw that the Days of Death were almost over, but I did not rejoice, there was no more joy in me. Ferumbras, my dear husband, my truest love, spent many of his hours watching over me, but no longer could he get me to laugh, or even to smile.
Gandalf would visit me as well, and he would tell me more stories about all of Middle-Earth, most of them good tales with strong characters happy endings, but few of them could I remember moments after he had spoken them, and nothing he said could bring me any happiness. I was beyond all of their help.
Often in those days I thought of my parents, my daughters, my companion from the battle, all these hobbits who had passed on. I wondered if there was anything after death, or if everything just stopped, and you felt nothing and saw nothing and was nothing. I thought to myself that such a thing would not be so terrible, for I could no longer feel in life.
All thoughts were fleeting.
There is nothing left of my tale. I died in the spring of 1160. Outside my window I saw flowers blooming in my garden once more, and it was the last thing I ever saw before I finally gave into sickness and heartbreak. I would like to tell you of what happened to me after my death, but... Well, Gandalf tells it much better than I.
You probably mourn my passing or my tale, but do not. Try and think of the better things. I loved, was loved. I lived and gave life to others and although my end came, the Shire continued and never saw days as sad as the ones I have spoken of. The Shire is a happy place, and I think it always will be. There will always be happiness and love. Most importantly, there will always be life.
So do not mourn, smile instead at all of life's beauty.
(Now, I'd like to say that I really don't see this as a FanFic. It is, because it's based off of someone elses creation, but when you look at it, the only real connection it has with the other stories is Gandalf, and he's in it for like one page in total. Anyway, there's my story. Some of you may be wondering where the hell Mirabella fits into the Middlevers. Well, she's the sister-in-law of Bullroarer, Grandmother of Gerontius the Old Took, Great-Great-Grandmother of Bilbo Baggins, Great-Great-Great-Grandmother of Frodo Baggins and Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother of Peregrin Took, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Fatty Bolger, but of course, no relation to Sam. So all but five of the characters mentioned in here were made up by me, using the text as references, so it's very possible that this story could have happened. When writing scenes between Mira and Gandalf I kept on thinking that Gandalf would remember her and see some of her in Bilbo and Pippin, probably Frodo too. I like the thought that she was the first hobbit that he really befriended and as a result was eternally fond of hobbits. I was sad about not writing in his fireworks, but I just couldn't see any way of adding them in! Let's see, oddly enough this last chapter was inspired by Frankenstein, not so much the book as Mary Shelley's writing, especially that last bit, Victor's speeches were running through my head, rather than anything Tolkien ever wrote. Probably why there is so little dialogue in this chapter is because of that influence. Mary Shelley doesn't use a lot of dialogue - although, when you think about it, all of Frankenstein is told completely in dialogue... then again, so it my story. The ending was a little hard at first, I didn't know where to go from 'I died', but then I just started writing and all those other lines came out and I hope they make you smile. This story is not meant to be sad, honestly. Well methinks this is the end, but I urge you to read my other LOTRFic, because you'll probably like it more. Thanks for reading!)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.