Tealeaves in the Garden: 1. Excitement of the Tookish Kind

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1. Excitement of the Tookish Kind

Bilbo was in the kitchen pouring himself some tea when he heard the shouting. Not especially alarmed, but rather curious as to what the lads were up to this time, (a 15 year old Merry and 7 year old Pippin had been allowed to visit Bag End) he quickly topped off his cup. Keeping one ear on the somewhat exuberant sounds outside, Bilbo spooned sugar into his tea. As he stirred rapidly, noting a vaguely disquieting increase in the volume in his garden, the spoon clunked against the inside of the cup. Suddenly reminded him of how his mother used to scold him for sloshing the amber liquid onto the table, Bilbo smiled and slowed the motion of his hand. She'd taught him not to stir violently; it spoiled the magic of the tea. Belladonna had been a firm believer in magic. She'd taught him how to read the shapes left in the bottom of his cup when he was only five. Learning his future in the tealeaves had been his favorite way to end teatime for years.

Memories quickly banished in favor of excitedly shrieking hobbit lads, Bilbo walked through the hall and, careful not to spill his cup onto the stone tiles, (sticky floors and bare feet made unappealing bedmates) opened the round door. Leaving it open behind him, Bilbo began to walk around to the garden. He noted the carefully pruned hedges in passing, the neat and weed-free flowerbeds, the dirt of which was a warm brown that told of good fertilizer and generous water. Bilbo's bare feet moved easily through warm grass that had been cropped down to a length just long enough to cover them with a blanket of deepest green. And, although at seventeen Sam was undoubtedly the youngest gardener in the Shire, Bilbo had yet to see any signs of decline in the quality of service. In fact, he believed the flowers looked lovelier than ever and the vegetables were producing at an unusual rate of abundance this year.

Bilbo sighed, a wave of melancholy passing over him, how sad that he could quite remember Hamfast in the gardens when he was just a lad. And, while on the subject of lads, Bilbo's tea and his life were in sudden jeopardy as a squealing Pippin raced directly for his legs.

"Whoa, lad! What are you making such a fuss about?" Now, Bilbo added mentally, forcing a mock-scowl at the panting young Took clinging to his knees.

"WellMerrywaschasingmewewereplayinghideandgoseekandIthoughtIsawasnake"

It took Bilbo a moment to translate. He was just about to comfort Pippin when Merry, Frodo, and Sam trotted up. Surprised and pleased the other hobbits had managed to tear Sam from his duties long enough to play a game, Bilbo smiled at the boy. Sam, predictably, blushed and smiled back.

"I'm sorry, Uncle, we didn't mean to disturb you." A flushed Frodo said.

"Sorry, Mr. Bilbo."

"Yeah…sorry…"

That was Sam and then Merry, bent over and gasping for breath. From chasing Pippin, Bilbo presumed. He waved off their apologies, and then concentrated on finding a way to pry his youngest cousin off his shins.

"You said you saw a snake, Pippin? What did it look like?"

The little Took nodded and sniffed pitifully before saying, "It wasblackwithyellowstripes."

Bilbo sighed in relief; it was just a harmless garter snake. Paladin would have had his head if his only son had been snake bit.

"Well, he wouldn't hurt you, Pippin." Bilbo used his most soothing voice. "Why, he's probably far more frightened by a big hobbit such as yourself then you were of him! Run along with your game, Pippin."

Success, Bilbo thought, as Pippin digested this thought and released him. He rather planned to sit quietly here on his little bench and enjoy his tea before it got cold. Bringing the cup to his lips, he sipped and sighed in enjoyment. Watching his young cousins and Sam shout and sprint this way and that was entertainment enough for the morning.

"I'm a lucky hobbit." Bilbo said softly. It was simple pleasures like these that made him glad he had not left the Shire yet. He would have missed adopting Frodo and that was something Bilbo would not have traded for all the gold in Smaug's lair. But, he had wondered of late what the future held for these four he loved. Even if he lived to be old as the Took he wouldn't get to see it; older hobbits preferred the warmth of a chair by the fire to cool mornings in the garden with rowdy cousins. His mother's encouraging voice filled his ears from long ago.

"What do you see, Bilbo? What will your day be like, my love?"

Ah, he thought, and peered into his teacup. He hadn't yet drunk enough to make the attempt useless. There was time to feed the magic. Belladonna had taught him to concentrate and think about his question as he drank. Now, as an adult and uncle to countless squirming, screaming young cousins, he rather suspected the concentration was partly a bid to keep him quiet for a few minutes, but his mother had insisted it was necessary.

Bilbo raised his head and watched the four friends play a moment. I wish to know what their future will be, he thought, fixing it in his head. Focusing his mind on that question and taking regular sips, Bilbo soon reduced the level of liquid so that he could swirl the leaves into shapes that would stay put.

Momentarily closing his eyes, Bilbo swirled the cup one last time. To his surprise he felt the same breathless anticipation of his childhood. What will their future be, he thought with deliberate strength, and upon opening his eyes, gasped at the shape that had formed.

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.

Story Information

Author: SoundofHorns

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/03/04

Original Post: 02/12/04

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