2. Chapter Two
Excitedly, Frodo grasps my hand once again and drags me throughout his beloved homeland of Hobbiton within The Shire. We, together, share an unexplainable love for the surrounding nature – each of us holding identical, humiliating smiles of admiration and unconditional worship. There is a gentle breeze blowing in from the east that swipes my hair across my face and returns the favor to Frodo as well. The young Frodo, wild-eyed and filled with much content, guides me in the direction of two blonde-haired Hobbits within the same general lifespan as himself. With a mere glance as their disposition, it is no secret to know that they are quite mischievous. I recollect a vision of my brothers when they were much younger, adventurous and always wreaking havoc – however that is no longer the tale to be told for Elladan and Elrohir.
"Meriadoc Brandybuck," Frodo speaks, gesturing to the blonde-haired Hobbit with the crooked jaw, "And Peregrin Took," he includes and gestures to the other and shorter of the two, "Two of my very dear, and foolish, friends."
"Merry," the Brandybuck corrects.
"Pippin – Pip," the Took nods.
"Celairiel of Rivendell," I introduce, bowing politely to them.
"You're an Elf!" Merry exclaims.
"That's quite exciting," Pippin adds as though he is finishing his companion's sentence. He then nods to Merry. "We can't say that we get many strangers around these parts. Except Gandalf, but we can't quite consider him as a stranger."
"Not a stranger at all," Merry butts in, "Gained quite of a reputation, he has."
"Of course," an unfamiliar voice says, joining the conversation, "Those lovely fireworks of his are enough to gain fame in any region within Middle-Earth!"
A plump, golden-brown haired man approaches the four of us and places a hand on Frodo's shoulder, "Excuse my impoliteness, I am Samwise Gamgee – Mr. Frodo's gardener."
"It is a pleasure to meet you Samwise Gamgee," I reply and give him a smile, then curtsy to him, "I am Celairiel of Rivendell."
"An Elf," Pippin continues.
"Rivendell!" exclaims Gardener Gamgee, "I greatly admire the Elves, ma'am. They are so beautiful and elegant and I have always fancied paying their lands a visit!" he says, blinks at his own actions and then bows as if he were a patron to my rule.
I give a soft, amused laugh and straighten his back with a ginger tug of my hands on his shirt, "There is no need to bow, Gardener Gamgee. I am not of those whom you must address to as a higher-power."
"Always so humble," Frodo says, looking to Mr. Gamgee, "Of course, she considered that of some prominence. She is the daughter of Lord Elrond."
The stout Hobbit reddens, curling his back to bow once again. I shake my head in disapproval at Frodo and pull Samwise Gamgee straight once again. "As I said once before, Master Gamgee, you need not bow to me. I am as common a person as you."
"Sam," he says in a shied tone, "You may call me Sam."
"Sam," I smile at him.
"Come, shall we visit The Green Dragon?" Frodo asks, beginning to walk to his left.
"The Green Dragon?" I question, looking between the four Hobbits for an answer.
"It's a pub and an inn," Merry answers, "Do Elves drink much?"
"When we do, which is a rare occasion; it has little effect on us."
"That seems rather bland," Pippin adds, furrowing his eyebrows as if to contemplate a controversy, "It would not seem much fun to remain keen on your wits at all times."
"You have no wit to be keen on, Pip," Merry says, nudging his friend.
I use my hand to suppress a giggle, "How terribly rude of you, Master Brandybuck."
"Even he knows it's true."
"If I have no wit, then you have no wit!"
"I have more wit than you."
I listen as they banter back and forth, cracking a smile every now and again when they would bite at one another's throat as though they were rabid dogs. When we arrive at The Green Dragon, I am forced to duck down in order to enter the building and when I stand tall again; my head nearly reaches the ceiling. The five of us sit at a table with a few older Hobbits otherwise known as "gaffers". They laugh and drink and speak of the consistency of their gardens, the finest pipe-weed, or "Old Toby", within their borders and the warm weather of the season. I listen, finding pleasure in such simple conversation that can bring so much interest.
I am pulled off of my feet by both Merry and Pippin as they jump about in circles. I join their merriment and we have a three-way dance. I drink, as the two stated, "the strongest ale in the pub", and live up to my word that alcohol has little effect on the Race of Elves. Even with this news to be such a disappointment, they do not seem dismayed in the slightest.
There is cheer, there is laughter, there is music and there is ale.
There is no better place to be than in The Shire.
Once dusk has fallen over Hobbiton, the five of us leave The Green Dragon to attend Bilbo's birthday celebration. There is liveliness once again. The Hobbits dance, sing, drink, laugh and speak – all in the favor of Bilbo living another year. I almost scold myself for wanting to feel admiration once again, but the love within The Shire is too great to deny acceptance of empathy.
Frodo and I sit at a wooden table with Sam as the two of them enjoy their mugs of ale. I notice that Sam has fixated on a woman with rosy cheeks and curly hair. I give him a gentle nudge of encouragement, "Speak with her."
"Speak with whom?" Sam asks, pretending to be oblivious, "I wasn't watching anybody."
"I did not mistake you for a liar, Master Gamgee."
"A liar – no, you've got it all wrong. I was just watching the others dance and Rosie Cotton caught my eye for a moment. I was being a harmless onlooker, I promise."
"You weren't being a "harmless onlooker", you were admiring her. It is easy to deduct the look of love in one's eyes."
"How is that?" he asks.
"My elder sister, Arwen, she has a lover. I often see the same look in her eyes as I saw in yours. It only appears when gazing at the one you fancy."
"Rosie is very pretty…"
"You should speak with her," I encourage again, "I believe she would enjoy your company."
"There are far more interesting Hobbits than myself dancing around her," he says, seeming saddened, "She'll prefer to talk to one of them, I'm sure."
"I insist you try."
"Don't be foolish, I can't – I won't!" he says firmly, setting his drink down as a hint that the conversation is to be over.
"If you refuse to speak with her, perhaps you could dance with her?"
Sam gives me a bewildered look, his face paled.
"Go on, Sam," Frodo agrees, "Ask Rosie for a dance."
"No," the Hobbit says, standing, "I'm going to the barrel to grab myself another drop of ale. That is all I will be doing tonight; enjoying my ale!"
Frodo gives me a sidelong glance and cracks a grin of amusement. As Sam stands up, he grabs ahold of his friends' shoulders and shoves him off to Rosie, whom grabs his hands and begins to dance with him in return. He sits back down, satisfied with his deed.
"That was a noble act," I say, leaning down to smell a flower of purple coloring.
"It was only necessary," Frodo replies, grinning at me, "He's fancied Rosie Cotton for as long as I can recall, and I will not sit back on my toes and watch him waste such a perfect opportunity!"
"You believe they are matched for one another," I say as a statement rather than a question.
"I do," he agrees, then looks to the right, "Excuse me a moment, Bilbo is calling."
I wave him off and look up to the stars hovering above the Halfling's Leaf. I close my eyes and inhale; catching the scents of the burning pipe-weed, the brewing ale and the blossoming flowers. I am at peace in peaceful lands – as it is to be expected.
There is a sudden disruption in my peace as the surrounding Hobbits holler out. I open my eyes to see them ducking onto the ground as if something was coming, and when I turn around; I see the blast of a dragon-shaped firework heading my way. I drop down and curl under the table, watching as the dragon whips past and explodes into the night's sky. There is an awe of admiration afterwards.
Once each member of the party has gotten to their feet and recoils from the shock of the firework, Bilbo – who looks quite young for his old age – waves his hands and asks everyone to sit down and gather around. I sit myself at Frodo's side, prepared to hear what Bilbo has to say.
"My dear Bagginses and Boffins!"
A cheer emerges from one section of the crowd and they raise their glasses.
"Tooks and Brandybucks!"
"Grubbs," – a cheer – "Chubbs," – a cheer – "Hornblowers… Bracegirdles," – cheers – "And Proudfoots!"
This outburst causes Bilbo to raise his hands as if the semantics were unimportant, "It's my one-hundred and eleventh birthday!" he admits to the crowd and they all wish a "happy birthday" to him in unison. "Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable Hobbits!"
More cheers emerge.
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!"
All of the Hobbits look around in confusion as they try to deduce as to whether or not they have just been complimented or insulted. However; Frodo, Gandalf and I share a smile of mild amusement. Gandalf is, once again, puffing on that long wooden pipe of his.
The crowd is silent and Bilbo looks ahead with a slight hint of horror in his expression. Using his arms, he fidgets with something behind his back – but none of the Hobbits notice this. "I have things to do," he says, which draws more confusion from the crowd.
His lips move, but no words are spoken – at least not to our ears. He pulls himself together and swallows the lump in his throat, then announces to the crowd, "I regret to announce – this is the end. I thank all of you who ventured such ways to join in the celebration of a life as simple as mine, but… I'm going now… I wish you all a fond farewell."
With another moment of silence and mutterings to himself, Bilbo vanishes into thin air and the Hobbits throw their hands up and gasp in shock. I furrow my eyebrows, staring at the exact spot where the elderly Hobbit had evaporated. I then look to Gandalf, who is traveling towards Bag End with his pipe in his mouth and his staff in hand. I look to Frodo, who seems just as confused as everyone else, but also shocked and partially mortified at the strange disappearance.
"Frodo," I beckon to him, "Are you alright?"
"Quite," he says, although his tone says otherwise, "You should go back to The Green Dragon with Merry, Pippin and Sam. I'm going to run home for a moment to check on Bilbo."
I decide not to argue his decision, for it is his decision. I stand, accompanying the three Hobbits and we venture back to the pub, sitting down with the gaffers once again. "That was a bit odd, wasn't it?" Sam inquires to the three of us sitting across from him and his father, "Bilbo just disappearing within a second's time."
"You ought not to worry about it, Sam," says Hamfast Gamgee, "Bilbo – although an interesting character – has always been out-of-sorts," he says, taking a hit from his Old Toby, "Best not to question those who choose not to be questioned."
"A word from the wise," Merry says, raising his glass and the Hobbits surrounding – despite Sam – raise their glasses in agreement.
"It's still odd," Sam says, dismissing his father's words, "It seems as though he's leaving The Shire."
"As I said, 'Best not to question those who choose not to be questioned,'" Hamfast says in rebuttal.
"I ought to question it," his son disagrees, "Frodo is my friend."
"It's no matter of yours."
"I wonder if Bilbo said his goodbyes," I wonder aloud. The Hobbits within earshot turn to look at me.
"No business of yours, either," the gaffer replies, placing his index and middle finger over the bowl of the pipe, "It's not our business to worry about those who do not concern us – nor is it your business to question those beyond your borders."
I give him a hard glare.
"Be polite," Sam says in exasperation.
"You shouldn't worry, Sam," says Pippin, "I'm sure ole Bilbo will says his goodbyes."
"Perhaps," he replies, seeming torn between the theory and the true answer.
"No matter to a gardener, anyhow," the gaffer says, looking directly to Sam.
"I'm not just his gardener!" he exclaims in an outrage, "Mr. Frodo considers me a friend and I believe it my duty to act as such!"
Hamfast Gamgee grunts to himself, waving his hand at his son and returns to the enjoyment of his pipe-weed. I look to Sam, almost concerned.
"We can ask Frodo when he arrives," I say in an attempt to uplift him.
Sam smiles at me in return, seeming satisfied with that. Within a few more moments of waiting's time, Frodo arrives back into the pub, seeming somewhat off, but immediately shifts to a cheery disposition when he sees all of us gathered around. Sam and I both forget to ask of Bilbo. Merry and Pippin climb onto the tables and begin to sing, in unison:
"Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.
Better than rain or rippling brook,"
Then song is then finished by Pippin as he says,
"Is a mug of beer inside this 'Took!"
The crowd cheers positively for them and Frodo picks up his own glass to toast with his friends.
The rest of our night is spent with singing, drinking, dancing, more laughter and more cheer. The gaffers speak of strange folk walking abroad their land, but they decide to agree that it is best not to worry about those who reside outside of their boarders. Once the Inn begins to close, we all exit – thanking Rosie, who is the bar-maiden, and stumbling our way onto the road.
Frodo and I head back towards Bag End, and once we enter there is an eerie silence in the darkness of the nestled house.
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.