8. At the Fair
The road was busy, with everyone heading in the same direction - to the Fair. There were a great many cheery greetings and the elves had soon been introduced to several dozen families from Hobbiton and Bywater (along with a quick summary of their family histories). In the end, Elrohir felt positively dizzy trying to remember any names at all, let alone who was Rosie's brother-in-law or Sam's third cousin.
As the path from Tuckborough joined the East Road, Elrohir noticed that the passing hobbits would doff their hats to the Took family.
"Nice to see a bit of respect given to the Took and the Thain for once," commented Pippin. "Must be the company we're keeping."
The remark earned him a playful slap on the back of the head from Diamond. "Take no notice of him," she said to Elrohir. "The folks round these parts simply appreciate a job well done. He's spent weeks getting ready for the Fair, making certain those without transportation get a lift from another family, that the older hobbits can travel in comfort and finding volunteers to stay behind and to look after the livestock."
Pippin blushed. "'Nominal dignitary', that's what the Thainship's supposed to be you know," he said, chuckling. "Yet it seems there's an awful lot of work in holding an 'honorary office'."
At the back of Elrohir's mind, his father nodded his approval at the hobbit's energetic care for his people and his wry attitude to authority. It was a style of leadership of which Elrond would have approved.
Eventually, they reached the White Downs. The Fair was plainly visible from some distance away, with crowds of hobbits, tents and bright coloured flags spread out across a hillside. There was music too - or at least a cacophony of musical sounds, since the various bands and musicians were mostly still warming up or practising for the contests and performances to come later in the day.
Over to one side of the Fair, Elrohir saw, there was an area set aside for stores - with plenty of barrels and boxes of provisions.
As they neared, dozens of hobbits of all ages came running to meet them, calling out greetings. He could only pick out a handful.
"Daisy, Primrose, come and see our kite!"
"Estella! Your cakes arrived earlier, they look amazing!"
"Gosh Elanor, you've got elves!"
"Mister Gamgee! We need your help. There's a dispute over vegetables at the produce competition!"
"Theo, you should see what Matty's brought!"
Merry laughed and stood up on his driving seat, addressing the little crowd.
"Before we lose track of everyone, I suggest we agree to meet up for lunch in a little while, by that green flag over there at the top of the competition field," he said. Everyone nodded his or her assent.
He turned to the elves. "If you make your way there slowly, then by the time you get there you'll find a horde of hungry Gamgee, Brandybuck and Took children. Come Elrohir, we will find a place for your horses and our ponies."
"Oi, Golden Tresses!"
Glorfindel, who had been making his way along the edge of the competition field, stopped, puzzled.
"Oh, your hair shines like sunlight!"
The shouting was coming from the other side of a jaunty red and green tent in which two elderly hobbits were setting up rows of flagons containing some kind of sweet-smelling drink. It sounded like the voices of young girls. Perhaps it was some hobbit game in which the little ones were trying to involve him - but the voices seemed harsher than that, with more than a hint of mockery.
As he rounded the corner of the tent he caught sight of a flurry of girl hobbits running away. One of the Gamgee girls stood alone, her head bowed.
"What's going on?" he asked.
As she turned to face him, he saw that her fists were balled with rage and miserable tears stood in her eyes.
"They were being unkind to you?"
"Yes," she said, taking a deep breath and fiercely blinking away the tears. "And all because of my stupid name."
"I'm sorry," said Glorfindel. "You'll think me very rude, but I don't think I met you properly last night and I don't remember your name."
"I'm Goldilocks," she said, raising a hand to her shoulder and tugging handful of her hair. "Though you wouldn't think it would you?"
Glorfindel looked at the unhappy teenage hobbit in front of him. Her curly hair was a rich nut brown. He was forced to agree.
"When I was born it was golden and they thought I'd grow up to be beautiful, like Elanor. But after they named me, it turned brown and I came out plain. It's probably a good job it grew brown though, that way it doesn't show the mud."
She raised a weak smile at her own joke.
"Well, I don't know what hobbits think is beautiful, but I think you are very pretty," said Glorfindel. "And you know, Queen Arwen has dark hair."
Goldilocks' smile spread to her eyes and she blushed a little.
"By the way," said Glorfindel. "Do you know what Glorfindel means?"
"Well, it's your name, but - "
"It means golden haired," he said, smiling.
Goldilocks looked mortified. "Oh, I'm sorry." She stared at her toes.
"I didn't mean to say your name was stupid."
Glorfindel laughed. "I've had my name a very long time. I think I'm used to it now."
The hobbit lass grinned at him. "Well, I think I feel better about mine then, knowing I share it with such a nice elf."
He was surprised how overjoyed he was by the girl's simple, honest flattery.
"Will you show me around the fair?" he asked. She offered her hand and they set off in search of some sweet treats.
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.