I recover from my fall through the plothole and look up at my surroundings. I’m in the middle of a field with a hill and a road on one side. Gleaming in the sun at the top of the hill is a freshly-painted round green door. Success! I’m in Middle Earth!
I get to my feet and head up the hill. A sandy-haired hobbit is pottering about with planter boxes on the front landing while his dark-haired master lounges on the bench, smoking his pipe and chattering away happily. I smile to myself, wondering if I’m about to actually find out the answer to the question that everyone wants to know (are they? Or aren’t they?) when a young lad comes tearing around the side of the hill, trowel in one hand and uprooted potato plant in the other. He’s almost an exact replica of the older hobbit, right down to the cowlick in his sandy curls and the freckles on his nose.
“Hom? Hom!” he exclaims breathlessly. “Are the –“
Hom? What? Who?
Hom stands up. “Now Ham lad, don’t take on so in front of Mr. –“ his words are obscured as he takes the lad by the shoulder and leads him away, with an apologetic glance over his shoulder for his master.
The hobbit on the bench stands up and bows politely.
“Good morning!” he says. His eyes are really quite distractingly blue, but his hair is reddish rather than dark brown and beginning to be flecked with streaks of grey. Clues click into place.
“You – you’re Bilbo Baggins!” I blurt.
“Yes, my good lady,” says Bilbo dryly, bowing again. “At your service, and your family’s.”
I manage to control my gaping, although I can’t quite help but steal a glance over the hill to where Hom and Ham have gone with their taters. That’s the future Gaffer! This is really weird (though why it should be more weird than falling through a plothole into the same place but seventy-seven years later I'm sure I don't know).
Bilbo is still looking expectantly at me. I drop a curtsey. “Uh, Kate Fairfax at your service and your family’s,” I say.
“Now, where have you come from?” wonders Bilbo aloud. “Come in, come in!” He opens the door to Bag End and beckons me in. “We don’t often get travellers in this part of the Shire –“
He chatters away as I follow him through the smial. My head clears the chandelier and the rafters by bare inches. Wow. This is what it’s like to be tall!
“Can I get you some tea?” Bilbo is saying. “Seed-cakes? Cheese?” Does he ever shut up? “Gracious, you haven’t any pack! But you can’t be from around here. Don’t say you have been set upon by thieves, here in the Shire –“
“Do you have any coffee?” I interrupt.
“Coffee? That’s a dwarvish drink!” says Bilbo. “You’re not a dwarf, are you?” I shake my head. “Never met a dwarf, but it happens I have got some coffee. Came all the way from Far Harad, or so I’m told, wherever that may be. Haven’t a clue how to prepare it, though, have you?”
He produces a crockpot full of whole beans. I take a whiff. Now that’s some good coffee. Wonder if he has anything to grind it with. As I’m puzzling over the mechanics of making coffee in Middle Earth Bilbo glances out the window and I see a flash of grey robes.
“Do excuse me, Miss Fairfax,” says Bilbo. “It looks as though I’ve got another visitor –“ and off he goes towards the door, chattering all the way.
By the time he comes back I’ve rigged up a primitive filter system with a sieve and a piece of cheesecloth over a pot, but I haven’t quite figured out the grinding part yet.
“Well, of all the nerve!” Bilbo is saying. “Gandalf the Grey wants me, Bilbo Baggins, to go off on some adventure, as though I were some irresponsible Took! No thank you, I told him, we don’t need any adventures around here – I say, are you having an adventure, Miss Fairfax?”
“Yes, I rather think I am,” I reply dryly, “and not the adventure I was expecting, either.”
“Well, better to stay home snug in your own little hole, that what I always say,” says Bilbo. “Easier not to miss supper if you stay put. How’s that coffee? We’ll try it with our elevensies.”
I try to explain to Bilbo how I mean to make the coffee, and soon it’s dripping away in the contraption I threw together, smelling wonderful, while Bilbo is setting out seed-cakes, and scones, and jam, and three kinds of cheese, and two kinds of mushrooms, and he is still. talking. He’s come round to the topic of where I came from and what I’m doing here again.
“Are you from Far Harad?”
“No, I’m from a place called Avacal, which is even farther away than Far Harad –“
“And you walked all the way here? Goodness me!”
“No, I – I’m not really sure how I got here, by magic, I guess.” How did I get here? I can’t seem to recall, though it might have had something to do with the brownie I ate this morning and the two Tylenols with codeine I took right afterwards.
“Magic?” Bilbo is off again, about the nerve of Gandalf for expecting him to go on an adventure. Happily, when he thinks to ask why I came here, he accepts my explanation that I was hoping to find someone but apparently I have come too soon and begins to go on about the difficulties in arriving somewhere precisely when one intends to.
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.