1. Fairy Lady by Armariel
2. Omen by Armariel
3. Secret by Armariel
4. Tattoo by Armariel
5. Beautiful by Armariel
6. Wondering by Armariel
7. Legendary by Armariel
8. Gratitude by Armariel
9. Jealousy by Armariel
10. A Fairy's Burden by Armariel
11. Harm by Armariel
12. Discovery by Armariel
13. Fragrance by Armariel
14. Respectability by Armariel
15. Lo, how a Rose by Armariel
16. Sparkles and Twinkles by Armariel
17. Mushrooms by Armariel
18. Resignation by Armariel
19. Colors by Armariel
20. Something Queer by Armariel
21. Riding a Swan by Armariel
22. Columbine by Armariel
23. The Call by Armariel
24. Toadflax by Armariel
25. Tangles by Armariel
26. Mortality by Armariel
27. Gossip by Armariel
28. Farewell by Armariel
29. A Boon by Armariel
30. Pondering by Armariel
31. Beauty Secrets by Armariel
32. Insomnia by Armariel
33. Aim by Armariel
34. Grandmum Took's Pride by Armariel
35. Sweet Dreams and Frozen Faces by Armariel
36. Truffles by Armariel
37. Sam's Gift by Armariel
38. Name Calling by Armariel
39. Amaryllis by Armariel
40. The Bridal Sweet by Armariel
41. Preservation by Armariel
42. A Treasure Unearthed by Armariel
43. Message by Armariel
44. Prism by Armariel
45. Keepsake by Armariel
46. Token by Armariel
47. Home Again by Armariel
48. The Coronation by Armariel
49. Fairy Cocktails by Armariel
50. The Deliverer by Armariel
51. Adoration by Armariel
52. The Color Purple by Armariel
53. Darlings by Armariel
54. It's a Ridiculous Life by Armariel
55. I Caught a Fairy by Armariel
56. Beauty in Common Things by Armariel
57. Company by Armariel
58. Iron by Armariel
59. Sam's Song by Armariel
I. Fairy Lady
Her wavy hair, cascading nearly to her ankles, was three different colors. Bronze-brown underneath, overlaid with coppery red-gold, and on top, streaks of flaming gold that could appear silver at times. Beneath it shone a face of pure delicate beauty, like the lilies-of-the-valley she liked to tuck behind one sharply pointed ear. And her eyes could go from green to blue to lavendar to silver to gold and back again.
Her wings, whenever they appeared, seemed made of lace and starlight. Usually, however, she looked merely to be a tiny bubble of twinkling light in the dusk.
Frodo had arisen to answer nature's call, but once that was accomplished, he heard a soft chiming music outside his window, and saw a flickering brightness. His ten-year-old heart fluttered and he climbed out for a better look.
There in the starry darkness of the midsummer night, danced a radiant little lady about one foot tall amongst the garden flowers. Her hair appeared a candle flame whirling out about her as she moved with quicksilver grace and lightness. Her gown seemed made of a moonbeam.
Am I dreaming? he thought, with a rush of both fear and joy.
"Those who have seen Petal, say my mother was very similar when she was young," Primula Baggins said as she set the breakfast table. "Of course, the Bagginses scoff at such nonsense."
"Have you ever seen her, Mum?" Frodo asked.
"No, I think not. Although...I may have heard her voice. It was just before you were born. She whispered, 'I will let no harm befall him.' I often thought I dreamt it...but now....Best we not tell your father what you saw. He will not understand, and may be impatient."
"It will be our little secret," Frodo said with a wink.
She could make a flower appear on her face just by looking at it and then thinking about it. This morning she had seen a blue morning-glory in the Baggins garden. And she thought of the lad who had watched her that night, how his eyes were near the same shade.
She bent over the forest pool sparkling greenly and silverly in the noonday sunlight, carelessly ordering her long hair to stay back. And an imprint of the morning-glory showed beneath her left eye, looking pleased to be upon such a lovely background.
I've a mortal tattoo, she thought laughing.
He was beautiful.
Even she could not have told why. She only knew he was beautiful and she wanted him.
She held her fingers out to the full moon. Strands of moonshine soon found their way to her fingertips, and she wove them into a simple white gown. And washed her hair in morning dew and honeysuckle nectar. Lastly, she put a tiny red rose on her face.
I'm on my way to get myself a mortal mate, she told the other Fairies.
Bloodroot would not be happy about it. But he would have to learn to do without her.
Why would you mate a mortal? Vervain asked from the little hammock of milkweed-down she had woven for herself.
Why indeed? He was different. He did not sit with the others drinking hobbit-nectar, shouting songs and tossing pony-shoes about. He wandered in the wild, wondering. What turned an ugly grub into a many-colored flower-kisser, or what made a maidenhair fern look silver when one dipped it in the stream. Climbing trees to look into nests. Wondering what made things fit together, becoming more and more. He was beautiful.
Because I am the piece that fits against him, Petal said smiling.
So, Petal, what lovespell will you use? Vervain asked.
I shan't use one. They do not last, and can be used but once.
You think it enough to look big and beautiful, and smell good, and put flowers on your face?
And to sing and dance upon his lawn. I shall make use of my voice.
What of your feet? Will you put hair on them?
Only if he wishes it.
I cannot understand. Hobbits are so dull. Why do you trouble with them?
Petal's smile lit the entire dell.
After he is mine, they will be legendary, she said.
A drabble and a half....150 words;)
“And...and...I got big, and helped him pull the goat from the pit,” Butternut sputtered, “and what do you think he said? 'Thank you!' Fancy that! 'Thank you' indeed! Of all the...Why are you laughing?”
For his sister Bittersweet was falling over giggling, and Petal laughed also, albeit gently.
“'Tis considered polite amongst Mortals,” she explained, “to thank one for a favor. To us, to thank one means one is forgetting the good deed done, and wanting something to guarantee remembrance of it. But 'tis different with them. Mortals think it rude not to thank one.”
Butternut thought this over, with crossed arms, and crossed legs also.
“Well,” he sniffed, “I'm glad one of us has lived amongst them, and knows their ways. However, you certainly won't catch ME doing so. I've a good mind to tie a knot in his hair while he sleeps.”
A/N: Tangles in the hair, or "elf-locks" were once thought to be the result of fairy mischief.
“I say,” Bloodroot suggested, “that we tie knots in his hair, paint his eyes yellow, and make his teeth black, so he will look very ugly, and she will not want him.”
“She will just put him back again,” Vervain said. “She has more powers than us. Why don't you just wait until he dies? Then perhaps you will have your chance...if you change your ways.”
“Change my ways?” he snorted. “I don't wish to change. Wickedness is part of my allure.”
“Well, obviously you did not explain that to Petal,” Vervain said.
X. A Fairy's Burden
“So,” Bittersweet said, “did you take the Queen's suggestion, and paint a gold streak in his hair?”
“I did not,” Butternut said defiantly, “do aught so ridiculous. But neither did I tie knots in it. I've my pride to think of.”
“But of course,” Bittersweet said most sweetly. She saw Petal come up behind them, but Butternut did not.
“These Mortals,” he grumbled, “with their thank yous, and their thises and their thats. The things a Fairy must put up with.”
“It gets worse,” Petal said with her most radiant smile.
“She said she would let no harm befall me,” Frodo said a week after the funeral. “Then why did she do this? Why didn't she save them?”
“Who?” Bilbo said brushing back a curl from the boy's wet face.
“HER,” Frodo lifted his head from the pillow. “My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother...or whatever she is. Mum said so.”
“My lad,” Bilbo said, “no harm has befallen you.”
“What could be WORSE than losing BOTH your parents??” Frodo demanded, sitting straight up.
“Never to have had them at all,” Bilbo said, a bit helplessly.
Drabble and a half.....
But flowers are so pretty, his mother said. Why would you take them apart?
To see how they work, he replied.
Now he sat by the brook, having found that he could make things appear larger by putting them in the water. He could see that the leaf he held was composed of tiny parts that all fit together. If only he could see inside each of them to discover what made them work.
And even as he held it to the sunlight to look through it, suddenly it grew much larger, and he could see each tiny part as though it were as big as the leaf. And all the tinier parts that made it up.
What can be doing that? he wondered, with sudden joy.
And Petal smiled as she held her thumb and forefinger in a circle over his leaf.
You will find out soon, she thought.
Ever since he had seen her dancing, he had spoken to her betimes, loved her, believed in her, planted a special yellow rose, just for her. And now she had let him down.
He seldom came out of his room at Brandy Hall. Rarely talked to anyone. Ate very little.
One morning his maidservant, Daffodil, came bursting in, crying, “Mister Frodo, look out your window!”
The girl practically had to pull him out of bed. Reluctantly Frodo looked out, saying, “This better be good.”
There, dewy and glistening in the morning sun, was that very same yellow rose.
Drabble and a half.............
You've met someone, haven't you, his mother said. I can see it. Why do you not let me meet her? Is she not respectable? Do you not care at all what folks will think?
His smile was slightly maddening.
And that night when he slipped out of bed and went out to the garden, she followed him secretly.
There she saw a slender luminous form, moving with incredible slow grace to the sound of a small drum and tinkling bells, unseen. A shower of pale-blue and silver tiny stars followed in its wake, and suddenly it sprang upward like a startled bird, whirling and scattering more stars.
And then it drifted back to the ground, and she saw a pair of wings, seemingly made of lace and starlight, rising behind it.
And she saw her son sitting motionless, just watching. And she knew nothing would ever be the same again, including herself.
XV. Lo, how a Rose
How did that get here? Mrs. Brandybuck asked. That yellow rosebush. Our gardener didn't plant it.
SHE planted it, Daffodil said. Didn't she, Mister Frodo?
The Fairy lady. His great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmum....
Stop talking nonsense, Daff, said Mrs. Brandybuck. That's all a lot of tall tales. Sheer moonshine.
The others continued to prattle about the Fairy lady. Frodo just stooped beside the small rosebush and touched the yellow petals of the one flower on it.
Bilbo smiled sadly to himself.
Let 'em think it was she, he thought, digging at a bit of dirt under his thumbnail. Why not?
XVI. Sparkles and Twinkles
I saw her last night, his mother said. Don't think I didn't. She had no hair on her feet. And was she wearing any clothes? I could scarcely tell. So many sparkles and twinkles in the way. Never saw the like of it.
She was clothed in dewdrops and starshine, he said with dreamy eyes.
Oh, be off with you, she said impatiently.
I do not know, really, Mum, he said. But I would like to find out.
Listen to you! Always wanting to find out things.
At least I come by it honestly, he said with a wink.
Drabble and a half.........
“Bilbo, look!” cried Frodo as they entered the gate of his new home. And there, on his lawn, outside the window of the room that would be Frodo's, was a circle of mushrooms.
“A Fairy ring,” Bilbo said. “'Twasn't there before.”
“Are they good eating?”
“Nay, you don't want to eat those. Why, I'm surprised at you for asking, lad.”
Frodo told himself he would not look out his window that night. He was done with such nonsense.
He lay with the covers pulled over his head, yet could not sleep.
And then he heard a soft shimmering music. Giving up on his resolve, he finally stole over to the window, taking his lighted candle.
He saw no bright beings dancing in the Fairy ring. But he did see something in the middle.
The yellow rose, softly glowing.
Those mushrooms were most definitely not for eating.
Drabble and a half.........
One does not simply go off and wed a Fairy. Who ever heard of such a thing?
Standing before the burrow with him in the afternoon, she appeared not as an elemental creature, but merely a lovely little woman, dressed as a Hobbitess, her hair trimmed to hip-length and braided. Its colors were synthesized into a beautiful auburn, and she had been practicing keeping her eyes green, supposing he would like green best, being so fond of leaves. In one hand she held a bunch of flowers.
What will I tell my friends? Why must you make me look a fool?
“Hullo, Mother,” she said with a quaint curtsey, offering the bouquet.
What of your children? What will they be like? Will they have wings?
And his mother looked at her feet, clad in green slippers.
Why can't you be like your brother?
“Hullo, Daughter,” she said, resigned.
Fairy eyes come in five colors: blue, lavender, silver, gold, and green. Petal was one of the few whose eyes were all these colors.
Blue denotes humor, a spirit of mischief and merriment, while lavender eyes indicate tranquility, a satisfaction and peace with one's sphere. Silver is for wisdom, an intuitive feel for the right thing, while gold is for an affinity for beauty and music. And green is for love, of the sort that is selfless and giving and enduring.
And so Petal decided to keep hers green while she was married. At least, when others could see her.
XX. Something Queer
“Sam, what's the matter with you, lad? You used to love going to the Bagginses with me to help with the gardenin'. Now you're actin' like there's a snake over there goin' to bite ye.”
“There's...somethin' queer goin' on there, Dad. Somethin' mighty queer, and somebody ought to tell 'em about it. I've looked out my window and seen...somethin' mighty queer.”
“Yer tryin' me patience, lad. What is it you been seein'?”
“Well sir...it's in their garden. I been seein' pretty lights there in the night. 'Specially in that mushroom circle. And I've heard music. You have to get real close to hear it. But I heard it. Then there's that yellow rosebush. There's only ever one flower on it, and it stays pretty for two weeks, then when it's gone, another takes its place. It's queer, I tell you. And it's only been happenin' since Mister Frodo went to live there. Then there's that light he's got. You can see it 'specially when he's a sleepin'. Before he started livin' there, he didn't have it.”
Gaffer Gamgee emitted an impatient snort.
“You'll be tellin' me that Fairies dance on their lawn next,” he said.
XXI. Riding a Swan
Of course you can ride on a swan, Petal said gold-eyed. Here is one now.
And Frodo climbed onto its back. Up it went, into the infinite blueness. And he felt that he was inside a morning-glory that had grown huge. Below him were clouds like endless fields and mountains and copses of snow. And more swans floating in lakes of lavender.
Then it went dark and there were silver stars, and some fell on him and stuck, singing.
And Sam looked at his glowing face shaded in greenness.
What are you dreamin' of this time, Mister Frodo? he wondered.
You would give a hobbit-child a Fairy name? No one names their children after flowers here.
She's half Fairy too, Mother, he explained patiently.
But she has to live amongst Mortal children, son. Why not give her a sensible name? You simply cannot call her 'Columbine', it's perfectly ridiculous.
Perhaps it will set a precedent, Petal said smiling. And it seemed the babe smiled in her arms as well.
And so she was called Columbine. And Petal's sister-in-law, not to be outdone, named her newborn daughter Pansy.
At least the poor little creature has no wings, his mother thought.
Drabble and a half.....
XXIII. The Call
Sam went to bed with the chickens, as his mum would have put it, and as he did he saw a lovely little lady standing right in the middle of his room, all lit up like a lamp she was, and he would have sworn she had wings, although he actually didn't see any such.
Samwise, she said in her silvery little voice, you must go next door. I must leave him now. That Thing he carries is too much for me any more. You will know soon what you must do.
And before he could say boo, she vanished, just like that, and he jumped up, yanked on his clothes, and fairly jumped out his window. Dashing over to the Bagginses, he heard voices, and went to peek in a window. And could not believe what he saw. And heard.
You will do what I can no longer, Petal thought sadly.
After Columbine came the two little lads, Valerian and Yarrow, and then baby Marjoram. At the least one's naming, their grandmother was heard to heave a great sigh of relief, and the older siblings giggled.
“She was afraid you would call it 'Toadflax',” Columbine said as she held her tiny sister for the first time.
“Where would she get such an idea?” their dad said. Petal glanced at the two lads, who were looking very innocent indeed, and gazing intently upon the new addition.
“Grandmum takes some odd notions sometimes,” she said smiling beatifically upon her family.
Ugh, here's another!
What is it, Mum?
Son...ever since you married that...creature, I've gotten one tangle after another in my hair! You can't tell me it wasn't her doing...Why does she hate me? Because I opposed the match? It was for your own good!
Petal wouldn't do this, Mother. I will ask her, she'll know what to do.
Petal appeared in the doorway just then.
This is Bloodroot's doing, she said. Hang a pony-shoe in your bedroom window and another on the door, Mum. Fairies cannot abide iron. That will keep him out.
And she ran her fingertips over her mother-in-law's curls, and all the tangles disappeared and the hair was shinier than before.
Petal could not come within three feet of that doorway afterward, but she did not complain. No one had said marriage would be easy. And her mother-in-law frequently baked her favorite strawberry layer cake after that.
Drabble and a half....
She had to wonder what her husband was feeling when he made love to her.
She greatly enjoyed the closeness. But she knew she was not feeling what he was feeling. What was it? This pleasure that he said was the greatest one could know?
Was he frustrated that she did not feel it with him, that it was enough for her to be able to give it to him, like a meal she cooked just for him, unable to taste any of it herself?
Sometimes I would like to be Mortal for just one day, she thought. Even if it meant becoming acquainted with Pain also. Like those mothers whom she had helped to bear their children. When she asked him, he said it was worth it all, that she did not have to go through that. He could scarcely have borne it.
And yet she continued to wonder....
In the first few weeks of her marriage, she had felt it was enough just to be with him. Then she began missing Vervain and her other friends. And she wondered what it was to have friends among the hobbit-women.
She walked through the village invisible, just observing. She watched the hobbitesses in the market-place, walking their babies in prams, or chatting over tea or needlework. They talked of their families, or the best way to cook potatoes, or what to do for the croup. Sometimes they exchanged items of gossip, not always malicious, but occasionally so. Petal did not understand the nature of scandal, but the wicked gleams in their eyes told her much. They spoke of who had gotten betrothed or jilted, or who had a little black sheep and what were they doing wrong?
And they spoke of her. She contemplated suddenly appearing before them, just to see the look on their faces.
She's lovely to look at and seems very charming, but what IS she??
I feel so sorry for his poor mother.
Well, I don't. She's a nosy old thing, and she got exactly what she deserved.
I am missing something, Petal thought. But what?
It came to her in a dream.
She had not even been aware that he had safely returned home.
And she did not know if he had truly forgiven her for what she could not do.
She arrived in time to see the ship sail away, with the light shining from it as his friends wept on the shore.
She did not weep. But she tried to convey one last message to him.
I did not think I could ever love anyone else that way, after my husband died. Farewell, and may you find joy in your new home...my Beloved.
<p>XXIX. A Boon<em><br /></em>
</p><p><em>Lord Ulmo, can you grant me a boon?</em>
</p><p><em>And what would that be, child?</em>
</p><p><em>Can you turn back the time? For but a few minutes?</em>
</p><p><em>Why do you wish this, daughter of Irmo?</em>
</p><p><em>There is one I would farewell. And see one last time.</em>
</p><p><em>One hour is all I can give you.</em>
</p><p>She looked to the retreating figures of his friends. They would have to go through the pain of parting once more....
</p><p><em>Never mind, Lord Ulmo. Just see him safely home.</em>
</p><p><em>I will, dear one. And I will see to it that he has joy.</em>
</p><p><em>Thank you, my Lord.</em> <br />
Sam...did you notice that the mushrooms and the yellow rosebush disappeared...the day after Gandalf told us about the Ring?
Of course I noticed, Mister Frodo. What do you suppose is with that?
It means she's gone. I don't know where. And I don't have good dreams anymore.
Don't you, sir?
No. I wonder why she'd just leave. Just like that.
Maybe it's a sign of some kind. Maybe...she thinks you should go on this...journey.
I wonder why she took such an interest in me in the first place. Bilbo said it was because I was marked out for something, special. Do you suppose this is it?
Could be, Mister Frodo. Yes. This could very well be it.
Well, there's no more doubt in my mind, then. I'm going. Even if she's not around to see to me any more.
You still got me, Mister Frodo.
Yes, Sam. That I do.
<p>XXXI. Beauty Secrets
</p><p><em>Lina dear, WHAT have you been using on your hair? I've never seen it look so shiny, and never realized it was such a pretty shade of brown. No grey at all. Tell me love, what's your secret?</em>
</p><p><em>Oh, I simply started brushing it a hundred strokes per night, like my mother taught me.</em>
</p><p>And she went her way, chuckling to herself. That old biddy had never been so nicey-nice to her before.
</p><p><em>Blessed if I'm going to tell her my beauty secrets,</em> she thought as she stopped at the fruit-stand to buy some fresh strawberries. <em>Just let her wonder.</em>
The others are asleep now. But I cannot sleep. I do not think it is because we are so high up in this tree. I slept in a tree once before, when I was a lad.
I wonder where she is now, what she is doing.
Perhaps she left because I did not appreciate her. I took what she gave me, and did not thank her. For her protection, for the lovely dreams, the inspiration.
I wonder if I shall ever see her again. I hope so, so I might thank her.
I think perhaps I could love her, but of course that is absurd. She is my ancestress. It would scarcely even be natural.
I wonder if I shall even come back alive. Perhaps she is somewhere about even now, keeping watch as she used to? No, I think not, I would sense her presence. I would have better dreams.
I cannot but wonder if she gave me that dream of the Sea. I dreamt it again. What can it mean?
Is that where I will find my doom?
Or perhaps my greatest joy?
I should be glad of some peaceful sleep now. That is all I would ask....
Her mother-in-law had suffered no further outrages upon her locks, so they decided it was safe to take the pony-shoes from the door and windows.
But then one day they came upon an astonishing sight: a lady looking exactly like Petal, strutting through the marketplace singing a rude song, hiking her skirts nearly to her knees, flirting with the males, snatching things from small children.
He's at it again, Petal said with lifted eyebrows.
She snatched an apple from a cart and and started to hurl it, when her mother-in-law took it from her, saying, Allow me. And she flung it, breaking his concentration so he became Bloodroot once more. He turned and saw them, then disappeared like a soap-bubble.
She pulled out a coin and gave it to the apple-vendor, smiling most sweetly.
We hobbits have the best aim, she said to Petal, who smiled back in wicked delight.
XXXIV. Grandmum Took's Pride
She most certainly had the best-looking grandchildren in town.
Columbine was the prettiest, with her reddish-brown mop of curls, the big hazel eyes like her father's, her heart-shaped face and dimpled cheeks. She had a merry heart, and liked to find out things, just like her daddy. And she wouldn't take any guff from anyone. Anybody who tried to trifle with her or her siblings would likely get their noses pulled.
Many years later, Petal would look at Belladonna Took and see much of Columbine in her. Even though it was Valerian who was her ancestor.
Valerian was violently red-haired, clever, quick-tempered, and reckless. Not much he wouldn't do on a dare. When he got big, he was the world's greatest flirt. Every lass in the village was in love with him. He married late in life, and begot six children. Only one was a boy, who would become the great-great-grandfather of Isengrim Took II.
Sandy-haired Yarrow admired Valerian without reservation. He was an incorrigible chatterbox, who was constantly in trouble because he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He liked to eavesdrop, yet was nearly always discovered because he just couldn't keep quiet. Which was why no one liked to take him fishing. His father did so, however, just because.
Marjoram was everyone's baby, even when she grew up. She was very pretty and knew it, and full of oddities and whims. Her mum said she was the most fairy-like of them all, and the only one with changeable eyes. They could look hazel, or green, or grey, according to what colors she wore or the light around her. However, she could not change them at will.
All four of them attracted much attention everywhere they went, whether they tried to or not...and more often than not, they did try.
Not a drabble, but I decided it belonged with this collection instead of on its own........
XXXV. Sweet Dreams and Frozen Faces
Petal had lived among Mortals before. Very briefly, and a very long time ago.
It was when the village had just begun to be built. She was curious about it, and went to watch. A good deal of digging went on, as with rabbits, but the creatures building were most certainly not rabbits.
It was her first sighting of Big Folk.
Her curiosity grew, until she got closer and closer, hovering invisible above it all, until she got a bit too close to a pile of strange objects that had a debilitating effect, and she lost her strength and fell among them. Then one of the big folk picked one of the objects up, and she happened to be caught in it. He then began pounding on a building with it, and it was dreadful. She cried out to him to stop it, very weakly, but he did not seem to hear her.
It was her first encounter with iron.
Then a smaller member of their race came and picked up the hammer after the bigger fellow laid it down, and examined it closely. She called to him, feeling her strength draining more and more until it seemed she could not even raise her voice, and she wondered if she would expire like an insect.
Then it spoke.
Daddy, this squeaks!
Nonsense, me lad, Daddy said. Hammers don't squeak. They go blam blam BLAM! Didn't yer hear?
It's a squeakin' Dad, listen.
But instead of checking, Daddy went inside the round door, and the offspring followed him in, where a female was using a bundle of long straws tied to a long stick on the floor, and a much smaller female sat holding what appeared to be a babe but it did not move or cry. She watched the lad with interest as he waved the hammer about. Then she would try it out.
This time Petal became dislodged from it.
She flew toward the door, but realized the hinges were of iron.
She was trapped inside the burrow. But at least she was alive.
The wall-holes all had curved iron things hung in them. This family was taking no chances letting Fairies in.
She would have to attach herself to someone, and when that person went out, she would go out also.
She chose the little one holding the inanimate babe. The child was closest to the door at the moment.
'Tis almost time for supper, the older female called out. Ferris, Meggy, go out and get washed up now.
So there was Petal's chance to escape. And yet, she was intrigued. She wished to stay and observe for a while.
Daddy took the two offsprings outside where he pulled up water from a deep hole in the ground. Soon the children were rubbing it on their faces, and the boy threw some at the girl, which made her squeal and cry out.
Daddy, he splashed meeee!
Ferris, leave your sister alone afore I knuckle yer head, Daddy said, sounding angry.
Baby, Ferris said, and Daddy brought his knuckles down on his head. Ow! The boy cried rubbing the top of his head and screwing up his face.
Petal noticed that all three had squigglies all over their heads, as well as on their feet. She decided it looked attractive, so she made her own hair so, before she remembered that they could not see her.
They all went back indoors, where the older female, whom the others called Mummy, was setting things on a platform with long legs. A pleasant smell permeated the air. Then all sat down on two shorter platforms on shorter legs, and began eating. Mummy told Ferris not to take such big bites, and then she told Meggy not to play with her food. Daddy was taking bigger bites than anyone, but Mummy did not tell him not to do so. Petal, invisible, went about sampling bits of the food, finding that some of it appealed to her. Once more Ferris saw fit to annoy his sister, putting his fingers in the corners of his mouth and pulling it to the sides, crossing his eyes, then pulling them downward at the outer corners and flicking his tongue like a snake.
Ferris-lad, your face will freeze that way, Mummy said. Petal stared at him, waiting to see his face freeze, but it did not happen. Meggy's lower lip protruded and her eyes got wet.
Someone is likely not to get any arfters, Daddy said looking sternly at Ferris. Petal once more was puzzled, wondering what this could mean.
Then Mummy brought in something on a large disk, with red berries on the top. She cut it into wedges and put one on each plate, then took a silver vessel and poured thick white stuff all over each wedge, and the children's eyes widened in evident delight.
And Ferris's face did not freeze. It looked quite warm, in fact.
But then he put a blob of white stuff on his tongue, and a small berry on top of that, and extended it toward Meggy, rolling his eyes around and around and pulling his ears outward, and Petal had a sudden inspiration. She waved her hand, and suddenly Ferris's face stuck, his tongue still protruding, his eyeballs fixed looking upward.
Mummy, look! Meggy exclaimed, pointing at her brother. Mummy looked, frowning. Ferris made a strange noise but spoke no words.
Ferris-lad, stop that at once, Mummy said, but the boy could only make more noises.
Upon me word, his face IS froze, Daddy exclaimed, looking upon his son with fearful eyes.
Meggy giggled. Mummy looked sharply at her, and the giggle died. That was a pity; it was such a lovely sound.
Ferris, I said stop it, Mummy said. And once more he made the noise.
He truly is froze, Hanna, Daddy said. Look, he can't blink. Something is goin' on.
Petal was puzzled at this other name for Mummy. Why did she have two names?
I want to try it, Meggy said. Mummy-Hanna looked sharply at her once more as the child's chubby forefinger made as if to dip itself in the white stuff.
Petal decided the joke had gone on long enough, and she unfroze Ferris's face. He began to whimper a bit.
Something queer is goin' on, Daddy said, and I mean to get to the bottom of it.
Never mind it, dear, Mummy said. He was just bein' silly, like usual. Ferris-lad, sit up and eat yer cake before I take and throw it to the pig.
Later on Mummy put the remains of the supper into a large container, and carried it outside. Since the handle of it was iron, Petal did not go with her. She remained in the cooking-room, looking at the dishes piled into a very large wooden bowl—or tub. They were smeared over with food and smelled rather badly, so Petal decided to clean them and surprise Mummy when she came back. She waved a hand over them, and behold, they were sparkling, and then she piled them nicely, plates on one stack, cups in another, bowls, eating-sticks, all in neat piles.
Then she went into the other big room, and saw Daddy sitting and putting some dead grass into a tiny cup attached to a curved tube. He set the grass on fire, then put the tube in his mouth, and watched little Meggy holding her false baby and rocking it in her arms. He seemed to have a soft glow about him. Then Ferris came in, making a whistling sound through puckered lips. He carried something on a string. It consisted of pieces of wood held together with bits of metal, and she saw that it was meant to represent a person, just as the cloth thing Meggy held represented an infant. Ferris dangled his wooden person and shook it, making it click and clack, appearing to dance, and he made it dance on Daddy's feet, then on Meggy's head, and she cried out and slapped it away, and Daddy told him to stop picking on his sister or he'd take that thing away and put it in the fire.
And once more Petal had an inspiration, and she caused the string holding it to break so that the wooden dancer fell to the floor, then sprang up and began to dance on its own, all about the room. The children gasped, and Daddy sat transfixed, as it leaped up on articles of furniture and danced on them. Then Meggy laughed in delight, and Ferris's face nearly froze again, and the cup of burning grass Daddy held in his mouth fell into his lap. He came untransfixed then as the ashes fell onto his breeches, and picked it up and knocked the ashes into a little bowl beside him, but he did not take his eyes off the wooden thing. Finally it came back to Ferris, who backed off from it fearfully, and collapsed once more in front of him.
Somethin' mighty queer is goin' on, Daddy exclaimed. I must of left a pony-shoe off one of the winders. I better go and check on it.
Mummy came in just then, saying Who done the dishes? Ferdy, was that you?
So Daddy did have another name also.
And Petal noticed then that Mummy's belly was a bit large for the rest of her, and she smiled gently as she divined the reason. She also noticed that although Mummy was a good bit plump, she had a pretty face and rosy cheeks and sparkling big brown eyes, and a ready smile particularly when she watched her family. And the squigglies on her head were bound into a coil at the back of her neck, and partially covered with something white and ruffled.
After the children were taken to their nesting-places, Mummy sat near Daddy and took a thin pointed silver object with string connected to it, and with this she made two pieces of cloth stick together. So that was how clothing was made, thought Petal. It looked a slow and tedious process, but Mummy seemed to enjoy it somehow. Daddy said he must go and purchase some more pony-shoes from the blacksmith tomorrow, while Mummy told him smiling that he was pulling her leg. Another puzzlement, since he was doing nothing of the sort, but he only made a little snorting noise, and said he saw what he saw. Petal almost giggled then.
Later she left them talking quietly and went into the children's room. They lay asleep in the two nesting-places, Meggy still clutching her false baby, and Ferris had a cloth bear-cub in his arm, to Petal's surprise. She smelled iron, and saw two iron bowls under the beds. She realized she would have to go out soon, but not before bestowing some dreams on the children. She turned Meggy's doll into a real babe, and put it into her arms so she might have a taste of what it would be like to hold the new little brother or sister she would soon have. And she brought Ferris's wooden dancer to life once more, and the bear also, so that they danced with each other, and Ferris watched with wonder until he too felt drawn to dance, and they capered over a flowering meadow while Meggy rocked the babe in her arms beside a silvery streamlet where fishes came and nibbled at her toes in the whispering water.
And Petal let them see her only in those dreams.
Soon she found a nesting-place in Mummy's basket of cloth-scraps, Mummy and Daddy having gone to their nest as well. Before they retired, she gave them a dream also, in which they saw a blessing fall upon their home, and the apple-trees grew thick and high, and the berries in the garden especially red and plump and sweet, the cow gave so much milk they could scarcely use it all and had to sell some, and the hens laid so many eggs that many had to be sold also.
And so they found it when they all awoke next day. Not all at once, but gradually, and Daddy forgot about buying the pony-shoes and instead, at Petal's unseen bidding, constructed a swing in a high tree and a box full of river-sand, and in a few days the children were playing together more nicely, Ferris less inclined to tease his sister, and Meggy less apt to cry and whine over small things. It seemed they all sensed Petal's presence, and a spirit of joy and gladness pervaded like the freshness of the early morning.
And at last as she took her final leave a week later, she noticed a piece of wood out by the path to the burrow, which had some writing on it: THE TOOKS. The letters were drawn very badly, and she had no idea what the words meant. Yet it seemed important, so she waved her hand, and the letters became beautiful and graceful, with little dots within the circles like berries on little cakes, and the S with a long tail like a pretty snake, twining protectively about the other letters.
She would visit other families from time to time, yet it was this one to which she returned, feeling compelled somehow; it seemed this one was chosen for something, although it would be many, many years before she knew. She saw the farm flourish and become fertile and lush, and the family grew wealthy and yet always willing to help out their less fortunate neighbors. She saw Ferris and Meggy and the other children that came along grow and marry and have children of their own. And one of the descendents would be he who became her husband.
And when she told Valerian his face would freeze if he persisted in contorting it at his sisters, he stopped, for he knew that it would, for absolute certain, if only for a time....
“What's Essie got?” Yarrow called to his brother in excitement.
Valerian ran to the hazel-thicket to inspect, and saw that the pig had dug up something near a tree and was eating it now with obvious relish. The boy sneaked up and grabbed part of it from her.
Now the girls were coming. Marjoram rode her big sister piggy-back, since she was still too little to run very fast.
“Looks like a lump of dirt,” Columbine said in some disappointment as she came chugging breathlessly up.
“It's not,” Valerian said. “I think it's a mushroom...of sorts. Look at it.”
“Don't eat it,” Columbine said in some alarm, as Valerian looked about to taste it. “It may be poisonous. We must ask mum or dad.”
“Smell it,” Valerian said. “It doesn't smell poisonous. It smells like...”
“It smells good,” Yarrow said sniffing. “Like an apple...or a pink rose.”
Columbine laughed, then she took a whiff.
"It smells lovely," she said. “Like springtime. Or a kiss.”
“A kiss!” Valerian hooted. Marjoram was reaching for it.
“What do you think it smells like, luvvie?” Columbine asked her.
“Snowflakes,” the little one said, and all laughed, including Marjoram.
“Essie ate some and she didn't die,” Valerian pointed out. “Let's taste it.”
“Nay, we must ask mum first,” Columbine insisted. But it was too late. Valerian had already taken a nibble.
“It's delicious!” he pronounced, as the others stood about with open mouths, waiting for him to fall down dead. And then he fell over on his back, twitching, his eyeballs rolling up, clutching at his stomach. The others screamed, including Marjoram, although she was too little yet to understand. She was shrieking now at the top of her voice.
“Not in my ear,” Columbine told her. Then she noticed Valerian was still clutching his treasure in one hand, and she reached down to take it. Immediately his fingers clenched over it, and she kicked her brother in the side.
“Just as I thought,” she said. “He's faking. Twit.”
Valerian laughed, and rolled away as she made to kick him again.
“I want to taste,” Yarrow said jumping up and down. “I saw it first.”
“No you didn't, Essie did,” Valerian said as he got to his feet. “And I took it from her. If you tried that, you'd probably have a finger missing.”
“Here, Essie Essie Essie,” Marjoram called, but the pig was nowhere to be seen.
“Let's show it to Mum,” Columbine insisted, as Yarrow looked at his fingers to make sure they were still attached. “She'll know what it is. She knows these things.”
“If we must,” Valerian said with an expression of exaggerated resignation, lifting his eyes heavenward. In truth, he was curious to find out what it was also. And if it were anything truly wonderful, which it likely was, she would be most proud of him. A feeling of sudden wild joy and excitement seized him and he broke into a run, hollering back at his siblings, "Last one in is a drunken hop-toad in a snake's mouth!"
And Petal smiled as her children came running toward the smial clutching the fruit of the hazel-thicket she and her husband had planted shortly after their wedding. So they were finally bearing. And already she was planning out the delightful dish she would make with the new delicacy tonight, and even thinking of giving a party. It had been far too long since the last one.
And this one would be far more interesting.
XXXVII. Sam's Gift
“What have you there, Sam?” Bilbo asked, as young Samwise shyly entered the front gate of Bag End, bearing a peck basket full of some mysterious dark-colored objects.
“Hullo, Mister Bilbo,” Sam said. “I...well, I found these. On top of Bag End. Not sure what they're called...but I dug 'em up out of the ground. See, I was trimmin' the grass around the big tree like my old Gaffer told me, and I hit my toe on a big root. That's when I noticed there was somethin' clingin' to it, like. So I picked it up and it sorta came open...and it smelled so nice, I thought it might be good to eat. And so I took a taste of it, and it was delicious. Better than mushrooms even. I think it's some kind of mushroom, but I never seen the like of it before.”
“Sam, you shouldn't be eating those, lad,” Bilbo said. “They might be poisonous.”
“Well, I ate one, and I didn't die, sir,” the boy chuckled a little. “See, I had this feelin'...well, it was like somebody was a tellin' me there was more, and to go get a basket and dig for 'em. So I went home and begged one of my mum, and then started diggin' with this little trowel. And there was lots of 'em, hangin' on to the roots and all. I'd like for you and Mister Frodo to have 'em, sir. Taste one. They're like nothin' you ever tasted before.”
“They were clinging to the roots, you say?” Bilbo said, picking one up and sniffing at it.
Sam nodded. “You know what they are, sir?”
“I've seen something like them in Rivendell,” Bilbo said. “They looked a bit different from these—much lighter in color. But they grew on the roots of trees, and had to be dug up, like potatoes. And they smelled and tasted wonderful. They're called truffles, in the common tongue. We sometimes had them in our dinner. They are rare and hard to find, and so bring a high price in the marketplace. So we didn't have them so often. And yet...you found all these, on the roots of the tree atop Bag End. That's a pure wonder, that is...”
“Aye, it is,” Sam agreed. “Uh...where's Mister Frodo?”
“Off by himself once more,” Bilbo sighed. “He was in one of his moods, and went off without telling me where he was going. Yesterday was the anniversary of his parents' deaths, and he's been out of sorts for the past three days. What can I say, he's twenty-eight years old, and he'll do what he will.”
“Aye, I noticed that. That's why I wanted to give these to him. I thought they might cheer him a mite, don't you think, Mister Bilbo?”
“They might, at that. Here, let me try one.”
And Bilbo nibbled at one of the truffles, and his eyebrows went up.
“I say, these are better than the light-colored ones,” he declared. “And to think they grow atop Bag End! I wonder how long they've been there?”
“You don't think...She had aught to do with it, do you sir?” Sam said.
“She?” Bilbo looked blank for a moment. “Oh...you mean...”
“Aye. Her.” Sam glanced toward the fairy-ring. “Mayhap she caused 'em to grow there? 'Cos I did feel a, a pull like someone was tellin' me to look there. It was most powerful, it was.”
Bilbo put a hand to his chin.
“I think you may be on to something, my lad,” he said. “Well. I dare say they could do him no harm, at that. I much doubt she'd lead him into something that would be harmful to him. So I tell you what, dear lad. Let's divide these up, you take some for yourself, and--”
“I want you and Mister Frodo to have 'em, sir,” Sam exclaimed. “They were on your property, after all.”
“But you found them, and you did all the work of digging them up.”
“I'll just take one for each of us,” Sam said. “And you and Mister Frodo take the rest. I don't think my old Gaffer would like for me takin' so many anyhow. I--”
And he paused as he saw Mister Bilbo looking toward the gate, turned around and there was Mister Frodo.
“Hullo, Sam,” he said, although he did not look very glad to see the boy. “What have you there?”
“They're...what're they called again, Mister Bilbo?”
“Truffles,” Bilbo replied. “Sam found them, Frodo-lad, and wanted us to have them. Take a whiff of these, my lad. They smell delightful, what?”
Frodo sniffed. “They're nice,” he admitted. The gloomy aspect of his face seemed to lighten a little as he breathed in the fragrance once more.
“Taste one, Mister Frodo,” Sam said eagerly. “You won't believe the taste of 'em.”
Bilbo held out the truffle he had bitten into. “Have a nibble,” he said with twinkling eyes.
“You're not having me on, are you?” Frodo said with a little frown at the unsightly brown lump.
Bilbo grabbed it from him and took a big bite. “Mmmm,” he murmured rolling his eyes up. “This is what the Powers must have for breakfast.”
Frodo smiled a bit sheepishly, and took the truffle and bit into it. The look on his face was something to see, almost comical in its amazement.
“They're all for you—and Mister Bilbo,” Sam said, thrilled that he had managed to snap Mister Frodo out of his funk.
“Nay, you must take some too, Sam,” Frodo said, and for several minutes they argued the point until finally Sam agreed to take half for himself and his family.
After the boy had gone home, Bilbo and Frodo took the basket and went inside and down to the cold room to put it away. As they came back up, Frodo looked back with a puzzled frown between his eyebrows.
“To think they were there all this time,” he said, “and we didn't know it. Do you suppose...”
“What, dear lad?” Bilbo said, although he was reasonably certain of what his nephew was going to say.
“That this was Her doing. You know who I mean.”
“'Tis all right to say her name, lad.”
“It was, wasn't it. Her doing.”
“And if it were?”
“You may have my share, Bilbo,” Frodo said sulkily. “I want no gifts from Her.”
“She broke her promise,” Frodo said blinking hard. “And I'll accept no bribes from her, only to have her let me down again.”
Bilbo sighed. “'Twas not a gift from her, lad. 'Tis from Sam.”
“But if she put them there...or caused them to grow...”
“Sam it was that found them. And gave them to you. Because he was concerned, and wished to cheer you.”
“But nothing. Now let's leave off this nonsense and enjoy what's given while we can, what say?”
“Very well, uncle. You know best, I suppose.”
“Damned right I do. Now how about a game of chess.”
Frodo smiled then. It was as if someone had suddenly pulled up the shade in a dim room.
“You know, I bet those would be good in an omelet,” he said as they went to retrieve the chessboard from the closet. “We could try it out tomorrow morning.”
“Why wait till tomorrow?” Bilbo beamed.
XXXVIII. Name Calling
With marriage came many adjustments, Petal found. Sleeping in a bed, for instance. It took much getting used to, and after the first time on their wedding night, she had a hard time falling asleep. So after he did so, she got up and poked about the place, looking for a more comfortable nest. Then she beheld her wedding flower-bunch, stuck in a bottle of water to keep it fresh, and she made herself small and curled up inside one of the roses, which smelled very nice and was soft and cosy.
Another thing was what name to call her husband. She had been calling him by his first name, which she had assumed was the natural thing to do. But before the wedding, she began to notice that other hobbit-women did not do so. They called theirs “dear” or “darling” or sometimes by their last names, preceded by “Mister.” Yet when Petal called her husband “Mister Took” he laughed at her, and said she was free to use his first name. Remembering the first Took family she had observed, she called him “Daddy”, but he laughed about that too, and said he wasn't a daddy yet.
And so the morning after their wedding night, she fixed him a lovely big breakfast of sweet rolls and bacon and eggs and potatoes and mushrooms, along with hot sweet tea, and set the flower-bunch where she had spent the night in the middle of the table. And as he came in, yawning, yet widening his eyes in appreciation of her beauty and the sight of the table, she gave him a loud kiss on the side of his face and smiled, having come up with a satisfactory other-name for him at last.
Good morning, Lover, she said.
It had been a while since he had put flowers on his baby sister's grave.
It was next to those of his parents, of course. And his grandparents. There were Baggins graves all over the place. It made him profoundly uneasy.
And he remembered, for the first time in years, the soft form of his prematurely newborn sister lying in his nine-year-old arms, how she had opened her eyes for a single moment, and they seemed to look right into his, and the wee fingers curled about his as though in blessing, before leaving him and her parents forever.
And then he spied something lying on the tiny grave. A flower-bulb.
He did not know what kind it was. But he knew precisely what to do with it.
Three weeks later he came back to find a beautiful tall lily growing on the grave. An amaryllis. Her namesake flower.
Gently he tilted the red and white streaked flower up to his own face, and it seemed he heard a baby's cooing issuing from it, very briefly.
Thank you, he said to it, and walked away whistling.
You are welcome, Petal thought from her hiding-place, as she wistfully watched him go.
XL. The Bridal Sweet
“You should see the place,” Vervain said to her friends Goldenrod and Gooseberry. “I've seen nothing like it, even in rabbit-holes. And she wants to live there? If our Petal were mortal, I should think she'd broken her mind.”
“What's wrong with it?” Goldenrod asked.
“What's RIGHT with it would be a better question,” Vervain grumbled. “Is our Petal an earthworm, to dwell in such a place? We simply must do something. How can we allow our dear friend to be condemned to such miserableness? Her wedding is in several seconds.”
“I'm sure I can fix it nicely,” said a familiar voice nearby, and the three female Fairies turned to see Bloodroot merrily swinging from a milkweed vine above them.
“No one asked you,” Gooseberry put in, “and you would do well to stay out of it. We females can attend to it very nicely, and you would only pull some ridiculous trick.”
“Aye, be off with you,” Vervain said, “before I influence some Mortal to drop a pony-shoe and squash you like the ugly stink-bug you are.”
Secretly she thought him far from ugly, and not at all stinking. But if she let him know it, he would make her life a ceaseless torment for all her days.
“The wedding is in fifteen seconds,” Goldenrod pointed out. “If we don't stop talking and go to work, we will miss it.”
And so they carried out their plan, and made it to the wedding a full seven seconds before it began.
Petal had never looked lovelier, they all agreed. She had put six flowers on each side of her face, and some on her arms, and butterflies of many colors fluttered all about her head, which was covered all over with squigglies, just like the Big Folk had. And she wore a shimmering white gown, an unheard-of innovation among hobbitry, with a web of silver-white lace on her hair, even. And her flower-bunch was huge, with nearly every kind of flower imaginable in it; it looked as though she were carrying a garden in her arms.
And they could see her wings, even if no one else could.
Vervain and Goldenrod and Gooseberry whispered among themselves as they watched. There were some things still needing attending to, they said. And so just after the couple were united, as some strangely dressed Mortals began playing music on some very odd contraptions and the newlyweds danced, the three Fairies excused themselves, saying they would be back in a few seconds.
And when the bridal pair came at last to their smial, they beheld a wondrous sight.
There was an oak tree growing in the midst of the largest room, with fireflies clustering all over, and moonflower vines twining around the trunk, and little birds perched on the branches. Enormous mushrooms stood in a circle all about, with little dishes and bowls of fruit and glasses of juice on them, and vases of flowers. Around each window hung a wreath, crammed with flowers and berries and pinecones and vines, and bunches of grapes. In the kitchen little will-o'-the-wisps bounced and flickered all over, and dishes heaped with cake and berries and nuts and cream and cheeses, and mushrooms and truffles, and several flasks of wine and pots of honey. Butterflies and bees nearly covered the walls.
In the bathing-room, the tub was filled with water on which floated lilies and pads, with frogs sitting on them, and fishes could be seen in the water. Nearby a little waterfall could be seen and heard, with a small rainbow shining over it. The water ran into a large copper kettle, but it did not overflow. Flowering vines grew all over the ceiling, with wisteria and moonflowers and clematis and roses dangling from them, some of them falling into the water and floating on the surface.
And in the bedroom...the bed was heaped with flowers, and birds of many sorts, all singing and cooing and twittering, and there were little fruit-trees all about, abounding with more fireflies, butterflies, dragonflies, caddis flies, and crickets, all making quite a noise. Rabbits and fawns and squirrels frisked about, while a snake twined itself around one of the trees, flicking its tongue in and out.
And a great many Fairies flitted here and there like little luminous bubbles, rising and falling and bouncing and swaying as if in a trickling streamlet.
And stalactites, just like in a cave, hung from the rafters, glittering in the soft light of many candles as though all the diamonds in the world had met in one place.
Petal smiled in amazed delight, while her bridegroom was stunned speechless, just looking all about.
“My friends went all out,” she said softly. “I am almost inclined to thank them.”
Her husband finally found his voice, saying, “How did they get all this in here?”
“Why, they sang it in, of course.”
“Oh...of course. Well. It was very nice of them, but still...”
Petal laughed. “It will go away in a few days,” she said. “It would be lovely if it would last much longer. But what would your mother say?”
And then he laughed too. His mother was staying with his older brother for a few weeks so the bridal couple could have their privacy.
“Let us bring her in now, before she goes,” he said. “She should not miss this for anything. She will be talking about it for the rest of her life.”
“Let's bring her tomorrow,” Petal said turning to her new husband. “I am longing to be 'brided' right now. While everything is fresh and shining and new.”
And as she raised her lips to his and twined her arms about his neck so he could smell her unnameable perfume, he could scarcely find it in his heart to refuse her wish.
When Columbine first learned to walk, Petal would watch her wistfully, wishing she might preserve such moments for all time. She could draw the child, but the movements were too quick. There were so many she wished to capture.
Then one day as the child awoke, she heard a click, and her pencil began to move with lightning speed. In an instant, there was Columbine, the exact image, along with her bed and toys. Petal produced picture after picture after picture, and pinned them up all over the nursery walls.
My memories are safe now, she thought with a smile.
XLII. A Treasure Unearthed
“Frodo-lad, look at this!” Bilbo said coming in with a large bundle, where the tween was hunched over a book he was not reading. “I was cleaning out one of my wardrobe rooms, meaning to get rid of some old things that don't fit anymore...and here this was. I've not the vaguest idea how it got there, or where it came from.”
“Let me see,” Frodo said sitting up straight. Bilbo laid the huge leather folder on the desk before him as Frodo laid the book beneath.
The folder was full of pictures, but not ordinary pictures. In fact, they looked exact images of real folks, rather than drawings or paintings. Many of them seemed to go far back, some showing evidence of much handling.
“This is my mother when she was a girl,” Bilbo said softly. “I know it. And here she is with her sisters...your grandmother, and my aunts. What bonny lasses they were. And here's your mother when she was just a wee thing...did you ever see a lovelier child? And here she is holding you when you were a babe, in the garden. How happy she looks, and what merry eyes you had!”
“How extraordinary!” Frodo exclaimed several times, as he picked up one picture after another. “This one must be you, Bilbo. Yes, I know it is! It's delightful to see how your mother looked...besides in that picture over the mantel, that is. She looks so wonderfully naughty, I would love to have known her. I can see where you get that wicked streak of yours, although you look the most like your father. And my grandmother Mirabella...she was so beautiful, even more than my mother. I barely remember her, since I was only about four years old when she died. Mum and Dad did have one drawing of her, but if this is how she really looked, it didn't begin to do her justice. I think Amaryllis might have grown up to look like her, don't you? Just a feeling I have. And these...why, look, it's Mum and Dad on their wedding-day! These are so realistic, it's positively uncanny. They all look as though they might speak, or wink, or laugh....Who could have made these?”
And then his eyes and Bilbo's met, and a slow smile spread over each of their faces, until it seemed they might have been mirror images of each other, had their features and ages been more similar.
“Of course,” they both mouthed simultaneously, as they came across a large picture of a very lovely lady, with hair of three different colors, and a little flower beneath her right eye.
While Rosie was bathing little Elanor one evening, Sam went to sit outside on the garden bench, sighing.
Whatever you're doing now, Mister Frodo, I hope you're well and happy, he thought.
Then something caught his eye, a glimmer of dancing light in the yellow rosebushes. Sam sat absolutely still, entranced. Then he heard a soft shimmer of music. And then he heard a very familiar voice. Even then he knew he was not dreaming.
Dear Sam, It is a beautiful evening here, and the sky is full of colored light which I can see reflected on the waves below....
Petal slipped into the Bag End garden just as the sun was setting, and hung something from the tree atop the hill. A crystal prism, barely visible from the ground. She hung it so that it might catch the light of the Evenstar from the west, then watched from the rosebushes until Sam came out the front door and sat on the garden bench.
My farewell gift, she thought as he lit his pipe and gazed sadly toward the gate. May it prove a comfort and joy to you for the rest of your days, and connect you with your heart's treasure from afar. It is more than I will have.
And even as she watched, she saw the prism fill with glimmering silvery light, and a soft voice of singing, and the sadness in Sam's eyes began to dissipate little by little, until a golden glow like candlelight illuminated him and he looked to be listening to words she could not hear. Before long, a happy smile found its way to his features, and she knew that her work here was done.
Farewell, friend, she whispered as she diminished to a tiny bubble of light that Sam did not see.
“Frodo-lad,” Samwise said the day before he was to depart for the Havens, “there's something I need before we go.”
“And what would that be, Sam-dad?” his son asked him, as he paused in packing his father's valise.
“The Tree on the hill,” Sam said coughing a little. “Have you, at times, by any chance seen a bit of light coming from it of nights?”
Frodo smiled a little. “You mean the prism, dad?”
“Aye, lad, exactly,” Sam chuckled in relief. At his age, explaining things took a lot out of him any more. “Is there some way you can get it down for me?”
“You mean to take it with you then, dad?”
“Aye, I do. It's what I've heard Mister Frodo's voice from. She put it there, long ago—his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmum, I mean. It was her last gift to me. I need to have it with me on the ship. I dread the very thought of crossing the waters without ever hearing his voice. Perhaps you could take a long pole and knock it out for me? I know of no one's got a ladder high enough to reach.”
“I don't know of how I'd find a pole long enough either,” Frodo-lad said with twinkling eyes. “But I'll think of something. Tomorrow morning I'll look into it.”
“I've an idea,” his son Holfast said as he came in the door just then. “I'll throw a rock at it. I can throw a stone clear into the next farthing.”
Sam laughed. “I bet you could, at that. Well, you could try it, my lad. But not tonight. In the morning, when you might see better.”
Yet in the morning, Sam said he had changed his mind.
“I'd best leave it here for the rest of you,” he said. “Then mayhap you can hear my voice. I can make do without.”
There was a clamor of protests, but Sam held firm, and at last he said he was ready to go.
After father and son had returned to Bag End, Holfast went out to the garden every evening and sat on the bench, waiting to hear his granddad's voice. This he did for several weeks.
One evening he got restless, and walked around the garden, and then climbed up on the hill, looking up in hopes of seeing the prism. But he could see naught but the stars winking through the branches at him.
The next evening he did the same, and the next. His mum told him to give it up, it was not likely he was going to hear from his granddad, who, she said when his dad was not in the room, was old and perhaps a bit “cloudy” in his mind, and had only imagined he heard Mister Frodo's voice.
And that night he decided perhaps his mum was right, and he did not go out again.
But alone in his room, he could not sleep. He went to the window and looked out, leaning his head on his arms.
If only I could know you was all right, Grandad, he thought. That would be good enough for me.
I'm all right, lad, Sam's voice spoke from outside the window. The boy jerked up his head, looking all around. But he could see nothing outside that had not been there before.
Without even dressing he ran out to the front door and the garden, in his nightshirt, and dashed up the hill. There he saw that gleam of light high up in the tree.
His heart pounding wildly, he plopped down on the ground to listen, and as he did so, he smiled....
This he did for five years...until at last the light went out, and did not come on any more.
A stone was carved and set next to Rosie's grave. There was a large family gathering, with all Sam's sons and daughters and their families standing about. A box had been made, and since there was no body to lay in it, it had been filled with things, objects the grandchildren treasured: old toys, dolls, books, items of clothing, stones, odds and ends of kitchen utensils, various keepsakes that had any connection at all with Sam. Aunt Elanor brought something she and her daughter Firiel had made. A fairy doll. It was too pretty to put in, everyone said. But it was put in anyway, on top of all the other things.
Holfast had meant to put the prism in, and yet when it came his time, he pulled from his vest pocket a handkerchief that had once belonged to his grandfather, and dropped that in instead, right next to the fairy doll. Never mind that it had a wet spot on it. Granddad wouldn't mind.
He hung the prism in his bedroom window, and although it did not speak to him, every so often he would wake to see a soft light gleaming from it, and he would remember his granddad's voice, and all his dreams were pleasant and peaceful for all the nights of his youth. In the daytime he carried it about with him in his vest-pocket, and he was often noted for the tranquility and kindness of his temperament.
And when his own son was born, he hung the crystal in the nursery window so that little Harding might be soothed in the night, and all wondered that he was such a good baby.
But his parents weren't telling.
Lord Ulmo...there is another. What comfort can I give him?
I take it you mean the Companion? His time will come.
But there will be many years between? They will be hard, with no word of his friend?
Perhaps there is a way.
The Sea-Lord vanished, and she waited, wondering if she should go down with him. Before she could decide, he surfaced once more, holding something tiny.
A small token from Lord Irmo, child. He told me you would know what to do with it.
Thank you, my lord. And she smiled as she took it...something like a teardrop.
XLVII. Home Again
“Welcome back to Tookland, Petal!” Vervain exclaimed embracing her friend. “How we have missed you! Much has happened while you were away.”
“I know it must be something of monumental importance,” Petal said smiling. “You are twinkling all over. I've never seen you look so scintillating and vivacious. Have you fallen in love?”
“Not only that, I have had twins!” Vervain said pointing out a little fairy-lad and lass bouncing on a morning-glory leaf above their heads. “Butternut and Bittersweet. Butternut, stop making faces at your sister or you will freeze that way!”
“How delightful!” cried Petal waving gaily up at the two little ones. “They look good enough to eat.... I suppose they've a father somewhere?”
“Did someone say father?” spoke an all too familiar voice nearby, and even Petal had to gape as Bloodroot appeared grinning before her.
XLVIII. The Coronation
The Fairies threw a party, ostensibly to celebrate Petal's return. It took place inside a fine Fairy-ring in a forest glade, and later a couple of hunters swore they came upon a cloud of light that had music coming from it.
Petal put flowers on her face, which she had not done in a very long time, and she even danced with Bloodroot once. In order to keep him from asking her again, she thanked him for the dance. He took great offense, but he did ask her again two and a half minutes later, saying he had forgiven her. Fairies usually take all of four minutes to forgive, as he saw fit to point out to her. She sweetly thanked him for his magnanimity, and he went off once more in a huff.
About three-quarters of the way through the party, a young Fairy named Persimmon intimated to Bittersweet and Butternut that she thought Petal should be their Queen.
“She was married to a Big Person once,” Persimmon said, “and she has traveled far and wide. And she is the prettiest Fairy I ever saw, with hair of three different colors, and she can put a flower on her face...and she can make her eyes change color. I wish I could do that.”
“I think our mother should be Queen,” Bittersweet said. “After all, she did not go away for forty-odd years, and not let anyone know what she was about. She has stayed here, and looked after things. I think she would be an excellent Queen.”
“I heard,” Butternut said, “that there was some fiddle-faddle about a Dark Lord, and a Ring, and a mountain full of fire, and all that. Mum said Petal had aught to do with it.”
“My mum said Petal knew the Ring-bearers,” Persimmon said. “Perhaps she went on the Quest. That is a most Queenly accomplishment, I should say. I think I love her. I should wish to be her lady in waiting...whatever that is. Perhaps she will show me how to put flowers on my face also.”
“Fol-de-rol,” Butternut scoffed. “All will wish our mother to be Queen. After all, she does not go running about after silly Big Folk, with their hairy feet and their pony-shoe-tossing and cups of burning grass in their mouths, and the noises they make when they sleep. Pah! Catch our mum about such nonsense!”
“And I can be my own mother's lady in waiting,” Bittersweet said. “What does a lady in waiting do, anyway?”
“She waits, of course,” Butternut said. “Which I should not care to do, myself. But I still think our mum would make a splendid Queen. And our dad could be King, also. I'm sure he would much enjoy telling everyone what to do.”
“None would do it,” Persimmon giggled.
“They would, and you too,” Butternut said. “He might make you marry me, and you would have to do his bidding.”
“Ugh,” Persimmon said, yet her wings turned just the tiniest bit pink. “I would sooner marry a...a centipede. I think I shall marry a Big Person, just to see what it is like.”
Before anyone could say more, a male Fairy, named Filbert, came to announce that there were two candidates for the position of Fairy Queen, Vervain and Petal, and would they please step forward. Both Fairies of those names looked at each other in astonishment.
“Queen? I?” Petal exclaimed. “No one said aught to me of being Queen.”
“I heard something of it,” Vervain said peering down into the tiny flower full of fizzy nectar that she held. “But I thought it was all in jest.”
“Nay, my lady,” said Filbert. “It has been bandied about, and the folk have chosen the two of you to vie for the position. What have the both of you to say on the subject?”
Petal looked at her friend in some dismay.
“Why, I think Vervain would make a splendid Queen,” she said, although she was thinking to herself that perhaps being Queen would not be a bad idea at all. It would give her something to do, take her mind off her sadness over Frodo's departure. Yet she wanted naught to come between herself and her dearest friend. “She is a splendid mother to her children, a wonderful friend, and a scintillating presence in the vale. No gathering would ever be complete without her. And none can make things grow as she can, nor concoct such delightful drinks.”
“Pish-tosh,” Vervain said. “None asked me if I wished to be Queen. And I don't wish it at all—I haven't time for it. I have a family to think of. And our Petal has traveled far and wide, and she it was who played a part in felling this Dark Lord. She was ancestress to the Ring-bearer, she mothered his line, and she watched over him and helped to make him into what he would become. But for her, who knows what would have happened? Where would we be now? I say no one is more fitted to be our Queen that she, and therefore I withdraw my candidacy, and step down to her.”
And with that, she took Petal by the hand, and drew her to the center of the mushroom on which they had been standing, then leaped off and settled into the glowing throng. And all the Fairies began to cheer, and Filbert grinned, and fluttered his wings a bit, and made a little bow to Petal.
“Dear friends, I...” And she caught herself before she could ruin everything by thanking them for the honor bestowed upon her. “I humbly accept your wishes, and resolve to be the best Queen that I can possibly be. I will do what I can to improve relations between Fairies and Mortals whenever possible...” She paused to consider that there had been little trouble between the two races, other than the occasional drunken hunter stepping on mushrooms, but it sounded good, so she went with it. “I will tighten security so that all Fairy-rings shall be safe from hunterly invasions, and keep our truffle-grounds from the maraudings of those who would get Big Ideas about selling truffles to Big Big Folk in far lands, and rest assured that if the Shadow should fall across our domain...well, he shall bitterly regret it.”
And the Fairies cheered once more, and Persimmon looked in cheeky triumph at Butternut, and just a tad flirtatiously too, but he pretended not to notice, and said to his sister that he thought Petal made a fine Queen after all, and he wondered if she would ever consider him for a mate when he grew older. Vervain cheered the loudest of all.
And the rest of the party lasted a full twelve minutes—a most unprecedented amount of time. Such debauchery, Petal would say afterward, then smile to herself and wonder when they would do it all again.
XLIX. Fairy Cocktails
One of the very first things Petal did upon returning to Tookland was ask for one of Vervain's famous drinks. She made the best drinks in all the land, and no one else could match her. And no one knew her secrets, not even Petal.
Petal watched her mix the drink. One drop of honeysuckle nectar brought in by a luna moth. One drop of wild-rose nectar fetched by a honeybee. Two drops of cherry-blossom nectar procured by a spring-azure butterfly. A grain of pollen from a jasmine flower, gathered by a bumblebee. A dewdrop fetched by Vervain herself, from a young fern frond. Three poppy seeds, one mushroom spore, all stirred with the stamen of a lily of the valley. But that was only the beginning. There was a secret to it that only Vervain seemed to know, and could impart to no one. The secret is in the fizz, she would say. Any Fairy can mix the drink. But without the Fizz, it's only a drink. It's not THE drink.
After mixing all the ingredients, Vervain would hum a song over it, looking at it with enormous concentration, until it began to effervesce, and then she would breathe on it, until it became all foamy and smelling utterly delicious. And then with twinkling solemnity she would hand you the drink in a lily cup, instructing you to inhale the scent before quaffing it. And when you drank it, you would be suspended in a rainbow mist, or in the light of a star, or drifting over a pool of the clearest and brightest water imaginable, with the most wonderful music ringing in your ears. And there was no after-effect, no hangover, no nausea, no dizziness, no unbearable craving for more and more. Only a feeling of having the sweetest dream possible.
Lord Irmo gave me the secret, Vervain would say if asked. He entrusted it to me alone. You'll have to ask him.
I've truly missed these drinks, Petal said as she took the draught her friend handed her. Well I remember how they made me feel after losing him, and the children, and the grandchildren, and all the others. I do not think I could have gotten through it all without them. And now...I need them more than ever. They are the very liquor of Friendship.
A Christmas gift to all.
L. The Deliverer
"Are you SURE we're going in the right direction?" Gandalf asked for the fourth or fifth time as he sat down to rest on a tree stump, laying the bag he carried at his feet. It was just after dawn, and it had been raining much of the previous night. "I say we stop and ask where in blazes we are."
Radagast nodded his agreement. "I know you said the star would guide the way, Saruman," he said, "but I've got to wonder if that's the...well, the right star. It's possible, is it not, that Sauron may have sent one of his minions to..."
"I'm reasonably certain I would recognize a minion of Sauron if I saw one," Saruman said a trifle testily.
"But we're headed toward hobbit country," Gandalf protested. "I'm absolutely certain of it."
"I've had naught but water to drink," Radagast said, "but I can swear I heard that star giggle last night."
Saruman gave a snort. "The Star-Kindler knows what she's doing," he remonstrated. "And one thing she would NOT do is send a giggling star to show us the way to the one who is to deliver us from Sauron's evil."
Radagast sat on the ground beside Gandalf, and took something from the bag he too carried. It was a dove, wrought from fine gold.
"I rather wish I'd brought something less heavy to gift our Deliverer," he sighed.
"I suppose you could tie it over his cradle to amuse him," Saruman said, "and devoutly hope the string doesn't break. Really, is that all you could find among your effects to bring him?"
"Well, at least I didn't bring embalming fluid," Radagast retorted, nodding to the costly-looking flask Saruman held. "Of all the things to bring to an infant! Aren't you afraid he might drink it?"
"What else can I do with it?" Saruman said defensively. "It's no use to me, being immortal as I am. I might just as well re-gift it. And it's most valuable, you know. I'll instruct the parents to keep it out of his reach until he's old enough to know better, of course."
"Well, I'm sure MY gift is at least somewhat practical," Gandalf said, peering into his sack of fragrant lumps. "It could mask the odor of diapers. I just wish I had a nicer-looking container to hold it."
"It's the thought that counts," Radagast said kindly.
"Well, let's find a place to put up for the day," Saruman said. "Wish we could afford one of those nice inns. I'm rather tired of sleeping on the ground, especially in this beastly wet weather. I detest the autumn."
"We're not likely to get much sleep in one anyway," Gandalf pointed out. "Not in the daytime."
The three Wizards finally found an abandoned shed in a valley and put up in that, covering themselves with the thick blankets they had brought. Saruman, who was used to much nicer quarters, grumbled considerably, but finally dropped off to sleep. When night fell, they awoke and took a small repast, then resumed their journey. The weather was much clearer, the night air cool and crisp.
The Star twinkled in the dusky sky far above. It was an uncommonly large and beautiful one, and seemed to have a personality all its own, even on wet or cold nights. Sometimes the three Travelers could detect a faint music coming from it, sweet and poignant and yet somehow joyous, and when they felt weary and frustrated from their long journey, it had a soothing effect.
"I wonder if it can be the Star-Kindler herself," Radagast said softly, at one point.
"There's something remotely familiar about it," Gandalf said, "but I can't put my finger on it. I wish my memory were better."
"I'm beginning to wonder about it myself," Saruman admitted. "It seems we are headed toward hobbit country. Perhaps someone IS having a joke with us. And I, for one, do not find it terribly amusing."
"Well, one never knows," Gandalf said clearing his throat. "Sometimes heroes are found in the unlikeliest places."
"But a hobbit, of all things?" Saruman said. "To overthrow Sauron? I would sooner trust a troll."
"A hobbit was very instrumental in the demise of Smaug," Gandalf reminded him.
"Look," Radagast said pointing, "the Star has stopped. It's hovering over yonder."
"So it has," Gandalf said. "Why, this is near where Bilbo Baggins lives, I do declare!"
Saruman scowled a little, but said nothing. They tramped in the star's direction for over two hours, saying little, yet their hearts grew lighter. The star seemed to glow more brilliantly than ever, and the music grew more audible and more joyous. At times it shed a light almost like day-glow over the hills and valleys, in which sheep could be glimpsed, watched over by a shepherd or two sitting beside small fires and nibbling at bits of food.
"I wonder," Radagast spoke up at last, "when this Deliverer will overthrow Sauron? I hope we do not have to wait long."
"If it's to be a hobbit after all, don't hold your breath," Saruman said. "From what I've heard, it's all of thirty-three years before they reach full maturity--isn't that right, Gandalf."
Gandalf nodded. "Somehow I think he will want some watching over," he said, "and...well, something tells me the Watcher might well be...well, one of us."
"I'll be glad to do it," Radagast said. "I've naught better to do. I dare say there's many a thing I could teach him."
"Such as birdcalls?" Saruman sniffed. "I am certain I could teach him far more useful things, versed as I am in the magical arts."
"We could take turns, I'm sure," Gandalf said. "All of us have things we could impart to him."
"Well, I hope we haven't been sent out on a fool's errand," Saruman said after a while. "I'm starting to feel slightly ridiculous, in very truth. A full year we've been on this journey, and if it turns out to be a wild-goose chase, I'm likely to...do something very nasty."
They went on for another hour, and then Radagast said, "Look! It's dipping lower and lower!"
"By all the Valar," Gandalf said in wonder. "It's hovering over that smial over yonder!"
"So it is," Saruman said. "So. Are we going into a hobbit-burrow? A pretty sight we'll be trying to squeeze into one of those, to be sure!"
"There's nothing to it," Gandalf said cheerfully. "I've done it before, you know. And likely they'll have very nice things to eat. Come, let's go."
Now the three Wizards were walking down a road, and the lantern Saruman held seemed unnecessary, although it must have been close to midnight. The Star was indeed hovering over a burrow surrounded by a small fence and several trees and many flowers, nicely kept. This was where the Deliverer had been born?
Saruman raised the lantern as they reached the front gate. "'Baggins'," he read on the small sign attached to the gatepost. "Well, what do you know. It's one of your beloved Bagginses, or I'm a bloody balrog."
"Wonderful!" Gandalf said in obvious delight. Radagast glanced down at his brown robe, at Gandalf's grey one, and Saruman's, which, while white, had accumulated considerable grime from their travels.
"A pity we're not more presentable," he sighed. "We should have gotten ourselves cleaned up a bit. But I did not expect to reach our destination this soon."
"We'll do, I suppose," Gandalf said. "Ah, to think we're here at last! Ha, the Star seems to be laughing at us. Yet I'm certain this is the place."
Saruman shook his head. "Well, you may lead the way, Gandalf. I'm feeling sillier by the moment. I tell you what, I'll wait outside the door, and if this is indeed the place, call me in."
"Very well," Gandalf said, and he strode up the little path that led to the very round door. Lights shown through the round windows, and an air of joy seemed to pervade the little burrow. Then a baby's cry was heard from within. Smiling hugely, Gandalf sprang forward and knocked at the door.
"Who is it?" a small voice called out from within.
"'Tis a friend of Bilbo Baggins," Gandalf said. "We've come to see the new arrival."
The door opened a crack, and a little old hobbitess peered through.
"Oh my!" she exclaimed in considerable alarm at the three huge figures without.
"Don't be afraid," Gandalf reassured her. "We've gifts for the child. We have heard he is to be the Deliverer..."
He paused as it occurred to him that this little creature had no idea what he was talking about.
She tried to slam the door, then a voice called to her, saying, "Who is it, Mistress Lightfoot?"
"'Tis some giants, I declare, Mister Baggins," her voice croaked. "They say they know Mister Bilbo. There's three of 'em, big as trees, with all manner of hair comin' out a' their faces, and bushes in their hands. They'll beat the daylight out of us, sure's I'm borned! What'll we do?"
A face peered out a window then, holding a candle, then laughter was heard.
"Why, if it isn't Gandalf the Grey!" said the voice. "Let him in, Mistress Lightfoot. Here, allow me..."
And the door opened, and a male hobbit stood there, considerably younger than Mistress Lightfoot, who stood by trembling, seizing an umbrella from the stand by the door and holding it out in front of herself like a weapon.
"Drogo Baggins, at your service, gentlemen," the hobbit said with a most friendly smile. "Won't you come in...and these are your friends, or...?"
"This is Radagast, and here is Saruman...my fellow Wizards," Gandalf said. "My friends, this is Bilbo's cousin Drogo Baggins. I'm delighted to have met you at last. And how are your lovely wife and child?"
"Doing well," Drogo beamed. "But...how did you know of them?"
"Well, that's a story for later, I'm sure," Gandalf said. "We've brought gifts...not much, I'm sure, but they were all we could come up with. We live rather simply, you know. May we see the little one?"
"This way," Drogo said. "Come...and watch for the rafters."
The Wizards followed the little fellow, glancing about in wonder. Mistress Lightfoot set the umbrella back in the stand as Radagast gave her a smile of most engaging and disarming sweetness. Saruman held up the hem of his robe gingerly, as though expecting a mouse to climb up onto it, although the floor looked spanking clean.
"Here we are," Drogo said, as they came to a door that stood partially opened into a room lit with many candles. Gandalf followed into the room where a young and very lovely hobbitess sat up in bed, holding the little one in her arms and looking in surprised wonder at the three visitors, who entered almost timidly. There was a sweet and tender radiance all about her as she smiled at them, and Gandalf and Radagast could scarcely help but absorb it as they stood looking down at the incredibly tiny babe.
Saruman hung back a bit, looking confused and a trifle disgruntled. He glanced at Drogo, who did not seem to notice. The hobbit went to his wife's bedside and sat down beside her, looking down at his newborn son.
Radagast was about to say, He's a mighty cute little fellow, isn't he, but thought better of it.
No one spoke of the Deliverer. It didn't seem the right time or place.
And no one noticed the bright figure hovering at the window, peering in and beaming as she looked at the face of the infant over the mother's shoulder.
I suppose my work here is done, she thought as Mistress Lightfoot crept into the room behind Saruman. At least, for the time being. Yet I suppose I could go and give those shepherds a thing or two to talk about. I dare say they are wondering already about the "Star"....
And yet it was fully an hour before Petal made her way toward the pasture where the shepherds huddled about their small fires swapping tall tales, and ragging each other about how they must have swigged a bit too much from their bottles. And she made a most grand appearance, showing her wings in all their glory, and gave them plenty to talk about, indeed....
And when the smallest one asked if he might play on his drum for the infant, she smiled, saying, I don't see why not.
<p> LI. Adoration
</p><p>Persimmon bent over the small forest pool, holding back her long rose-gold hair with one hand, and gazed into the silvery waters.
</p><p><em>Let a flower appear upon my face, she whispered to it. </em>Any sort of flower. And my hair....
</p><p>Petal's was three colors, she recalled. Her own was but one color. Perhaps she could fix that.
</p><p>She took a pokeberry and made streaks of the purple-red juice through her hair, then found a blueberry and made purple-blue streaks. That looked well, she thought, although her hair now lacked the radiance of Petal's. And her eyes. They were but one color, a common lavender. And no amount of berry juice would change that.
</p><p>But she would settle for making a flower appear on her face.
</p><p>Perhaps she would just have to ask Petal the secret. But she could not yet bring herself to approach the Fairy Queen.
</p><p><em>I am too far beneath her,</em> she thought with a sigh. <em>If only I could make myself worthy of her. Then perhaps she would make me her lady in waiting. I would be the happiest Fairy in Fairydom....<br /></em>
LII.The Color Purple
Persimmon puzzled for days about how to get the flower on her face. She would try to get where she could watch Petal in secret, but without success, and she encountered much teasing from her sisters Peppermint and Periwinkle.
She thought to confide in her friend Bittersweet, but lost her nerve. Inasmuch as Fairies have nerve.
Then one day it occurred to her: What would Petal do?
And there it was.
She had never been among the Big Folk, and the idea frightened her. It was a full six minutes before she could find the courage to go out in search of What Petal Would Do.
And then she heard something. A strange sound. And she saw one of them.
It appeared female, and it was walking along with drops falling from its eyes.
It is weeping, thought Persimmon. And I think it is a young one. Although I am not sure.
It had brown sploingy things coming down from its head, and its face was pudgy and rather red. Persimmon did not think it very attractive. Even so she asked herself once more: What would Petal do?
She would try to still its weeping. That is what Human mothers do. But how? I cannot mix The Drink like Bittersweet's mother. Besides, I think only Fairies can drink it. So what do I do?
And then she had an idea.
She made herself big, although no bigger than the child, and approached it from the front. It made an "Oh!" sound, looking at Persimmon with very round eyes. And Persimmon turned herself purple, then began to dance and pull silly faces in hope of making it laugh.
Yet it did not. Instead it made a high shrill noise and began to run.
And now another much bigger person was coming.
There you are, lovey, it said to the little one. It's all right now, mummy found her darling, don't cry!
And Persimmon made herself invisible, seeing as how her presence was so alarming.
She had failed. She would never be worthy.
She turned for home, making sounds like the babe had done, until she came to the pool. She sat down beside it, then bent to peer morosely into its waters.
And started as she saw what was on her face.
A tiny purple violet, beneath her left eye. She could even smell it.
A little follow-up to "The Color Purple."
“You've a purple flower on your face!” exclaimed Bittersweet at the sight of her friend.
“So I have,” Persimmon said. Butternut was staring at her.
“How did you get it?” he inquired.
“I danced before one of the Big Folk,” Persimmon said. “A young one. A Darling, I think they are called. That's what its mother called it.”
“You danced before a Darling?” Bittersweet said. “Funny, Mother has a flower also, and she never danced before a Darling, I'm sure. There must be other ways.”
Persimmon told about the incident. Her sisters Peppermint and Periwinkle had come up to hear the tale.
“Let's all find some Darlings to dance for, so that we may all have them,” Bittersweet said. “I shall have a calla lily, I think.”
“And I a tulip,” Peppermint said. “Red, with white stripes.”
“A periwinkle, like my name,” Periwinkle said.
“What will you have, Butternut?” Persimmon asked rather shyly.
“I don't wish for one,” Butternut said decidedly.
“Then what do you wish for?” Bittersweet asked her brother. She could see he was in one of his tiresome moods, in which he refused to go along with the others, just because.
Butternut looked long at Persimmon, noting how sweet she looked with the violet on her cheek. Funny, he had never thought her anything special before. Just his sister's rather silly friend. It was disturbing.
And Bittersweet was looking at him like she knew what he was thinking. That would never do. He tossed her a withering glance, without even bothering to favor the others thusly.
“I wish never to hear anything ridiculous again as long as I live,” said he.
A little follow-up to the previous.
LIV. It's a Ridiculous Life
"Perhaps that can be arranged," spoke a voice, and there was Petal smiling blue-eyed behind them.
"Fine," Butternut said after a startled moment. "Just put me in a place where there are no females, no Darlings, and no hairy-foots slinging pony-shoes about and saying thank you and such nonsense, and I shall be perfectly content."
"Very well then," Petal said, still smiling, as the others giggled. And he suddenly found himself surrounded by the ugliest and smelliest creatures he had ever seen and smelled in all his short life. They were huge, they were hairy all over, and were obviously not female. They appeared to be boiling something in a pot, although they were obviously not human. He had to back far away, for the pot was made of iron, as if the stink were not enough. Then he heard the creatures talking, although he could not understand one word they were saying.
Then a strange feeling came over him, and he felt his limbs swelling, and something was clearly happening to his face. Looking down at himself in the firelight that came from beneath their pot, he could see that his body was coming to resemble those of the hideous creatures before him. Frantically he looked about for Petal, then remembered he had requested to be put in a place where there were no females.
But what a dirty trick she had played upon him!
"Do not fear," she spoke, and he felt a mixture of relief and fury. "No female Fairies, Darlings, nor Big Folk will come near you. Love is a thing these creatures know not, nor any such thing as manners, so I promise they will never thank you, even if you should save their lives. They do not have young, so you will not be plagued with any Darlings. Therefore, you will never see nor hear anything ridiculous again. Of course, you must avoid sunlight, which will turn you to stone. I wish you a fine life with these wondrous folk, and hope you will be happy now for the rest of your days. Now I bid you farewell, and--"
"Wait," he said with a hand raised in what he hoped was an authoritative manner. "I do not wish this life. Put me back as I was, at once. Do it now, or I will tell those...things...to drop that iron pot on you."
Then it occurred to him that making threats might not be such a good idea, after all.
"I promise to tell them not to drop their pot on you, if you will only put me back," he amended.
There was no answer. He began to grow quite terrified.
"PLEASE put me back as I was!" he wailed. "I will do anything you wish! I will dance for TEN Darlings!"
Still no answer.
"And I will take you for my mate, and not look at any other," he said. And thought, If that does not do the trick, what will?
But she was gone.
He looked down at himself once more, then at the other creatures. They were looking at him. And talking to each other.
He could understand them now. They were grumbling about the poor quality of their dinner, and wondering if he would be good to eat. Even though he was of their kind.
He thought to tell them where they might find truffles, but had a feeling they would not be impressed.
He began to run, even though it was too dark to see where he was going. He ran and ran, stumbling over big stones, bushes, branches, and other obstacles, feeling some most unpleasant sensations in several body parts. He did not know whether the others were following him or not. He did not even care.
And he realized soon that he was becoming what humans called exhausted. It was very serious business indeed.
Finally he could go no more, and he dropped down on his belly, whimpering, very glad for the ground he fell on, not even caring that they were on him.
The next thing he knew, it was daylight and he was lying underneath a tall and fragrant golden lily, Bittersweet standing there looking down at him with a frown on her very lovely face.
He looked up at his sister with the most ridiculous grin ever.
"Fetch my breakfast, if you please," he said, thinking how delighted his mother and Petal and Persimmon would be at his wonderful new manners.
A little song I wrote for an album I'm putting together of fairy-ish songs. Decided this one sounded a little Tolkienesque, so decided to post it here. :)
"I Caught a Fairy"
by Columbine Took (daughter of Petal)
I caught a fairy in a jar
shimmering, glimmering like a star
She said if I would let her go
I could have, I would have my wish, and so...
I said I'd like to be a fairy
glittering, flittering light and airy
living in the flowers and trees
fluttering, twittering like birds and bees.
She said, "Are you sure that this you wish?"
"Yes indeed!" with all speed and a swish
She burst into a shower of light
glamouring, clamouring in the night;
Leaving me there with wings so fair
skipping up, tripping up in the air
In glee I danced about the lawn
singing and winging until the dawn.
Making mischief everywhere
making spots, tying knots in sleepers' hair
giving people silly dreams
of the most, uttermost nonsensical themes.
A bully who lived just down the road
was warned by me, turned by me into a toad
I made him hop down by a lake
where he was cobbled up, gobbled up by a snake!
A maiden wished to be joined in love
with a young, handsome one she was enamored of
I waved my wand with a mighty zing!
Now she's bearing his, wearing his wedding ring.
Then one night when the stars were dim
I saw a fine lad and was caught by him
I told him if he would let me go
He could have, he would have his wish and so;
He said he'd like him a fairy wife
to dish up his, wish of his all his life
And now my friends, his home is mine
We're dancing in, romancing in the bright moonshine!
Now it has music! I Caught a Fairy
"I should love to be a bard," Columbine said after she had sung her fairy song for her family members, much to the delight of her parents, and even her grandmum. "But what should I sing of? No one around here ever had any adventures. When I ask them they become angry. They say, 'No one in my family ever had any adventures, and if they did I had better not hear of them.' So what would I have to tell? Elves and big folk have adventures, why can't we? I don't wish to write songs of just fairies. I'm a hobbit too, am I not?"
She stood in that way she had, as though she were owed something, and someone really ought to give it to her. Petal was certain that she was the one in debt, and she smiled softly to herself.
"One need not have adventures to be worthy of song," she said, although she was not absolutely sure she believed it, herself. "I married a mortal, and it was then I became aware of the beauty of common things. The things no one thinks to sing of. Watching a bird teach her young to fly. Seeing a spider weave her web. Helping a babe learn to walk. Baking a pie for one's family. Such things have the true music and poetry in them. Why worry over having adventures? You are a child yet. Go on about the business of being a lass, and you will find much poetry in that."
And although Columbine was doubtful, she did as bidden. She would go about softly unobserved, as her mother had once done before her, often watching the neighbors about their business, and then she would run home and write down their doings in a small notebook, which she never showed anyone. Even her mother did not peek. And one day she tried making a song of her observances:
Mrs. Pease was down on her knees
working her garden one day
when a powerful gust of impudent breeze
snatched her skirt almost away.
And from the stickers I saw her knickers
So white and ruffledy on her
And from the neighbors they drew snickers
Like a huge white cloud they were...
She was certain her family members would be proud of her, and her brother Valerian, who was the only one she showed it to, suggested she sing it at the Mayfest, turning away so she should not see the naughty twinkle in his eye. Yet when she did so, somehow it did not go down very well. And she wondered if her mother had been pulling her leg, after all, and if she should ever take her advice again....
"I could surely do with some hobbit company," thought Gandalf as he rested from his travels by his campfire. "And some hobbit pipeweed. This wild stuff just doesn't do it for me. Better than nothing, however."
He paused to light his pipe with the end of a smoldering stick, and puffed on it thoughtfully, grimacing a little at the bitterness. He thought back on that most recent adventure, and wondered what Bilbo was doing now. It had been many years ago, he couldn't remember how many. Twenty? Thirty?
He sighed. It was a lonely life, this. If only...
But what was this? Bright bubbles seemed to be floating up from the air. No, this weed was not of that sort....
"Can those be Fairies coming to visit?" he spoke aloud. "Upon my word, I believe they are! Next best thing, I suppose, as long as they don't pull any of those tricks of theirs. Fairy foolery can be quite entertaining, so long as it's not at one's own expense. Well I remember the night they made me fall in love with my own staff. Would have been far more amusing if I hadn't happened to be visiting with Saruman at the time. Likely I would never have heard the end of it, if they hadn't made him sing a ridiculous song about a weasel and a spool of thread all night long. Now THAT was amusing. I imagine he has set himself up a fairy-proof barrier in his tower by now. Ahhh, those were the days..."
And a smile began to peep through his long grey beard as the bubbles of light descended all about him in the twilight. Let them bring on all the tricks they pleased. Company was a good thing.
"There is too much iron in the world," Butternut grumbled. "It's not fair. I should like to know what you intend to do about it. As Queen of the Fairies, you had really ought to do something, you know."
"I do something," Petal said barely repressing a smile. "I stay away from iron whenever possible, and so should you."
"It's discriminatory," Butternut said in an exasperating tone, as he hunkered down on the mushroom seat below the morning-glory vine where she was perched in a purple flower listening to his petition. "Can you not see that? It's anti-Fairy. Think of it. Iron tools. Hinges. Pony shoes hung in windows to keep us out. Big Big Folks wearing iron in battle so we cannot join in and help to defeat the forces of evil. Why do you think the world is in such hideous shape as it is? It is because of the iron. Iron is slowly taking over the world. Something should be done before it is too late!"
"Big folk would not have needed to hang pony-shoes in their windows if certain Fairies did not have a habit of sneaking in to play pranks upon the occupants," Petal pointed out softly.
"Not all Fairies are evil," he said loftily, although he knew perfectly well he had been one of the Fairies she was alluding to. "Some are most benevolent. It is unfair to punish all Fairies for what a few of them have done."
"So what do you think should be done?" Petal asked him with admirable patience.
"We must eliminate iron from the world, of course," he said, scarcely able to believe she couldn't figure this out for herself. How had she gotten to be Queen, anyway? Not for her wisdom, certainly. Probably because of her beauty. Those eyes, that could change color, and were looking silvery green at the moment. That pearly skin, with the tiny crimson flower beneath the left eye. Those rosebud lips. And that hair, fire and flame caught in its ambery-copper flow. And that delicate figure...
"You've a great deal of influence over Mortals, you know," he said after a full three seconds, remembering why he had requested this audience with her in the first place. Perhaps he should propose... Then perhaps she would see why he would make a much more fitting mate for her than that Mortal husband of hers, or that other Big Person she had been so smitten with, who had ended up leaving her after (supposedly) saving the world. "Perhaps you could persuade them to..."
He had to stop and remember once more. This was exasperating.
"Yes?" she said looking him intently in the eye.
"To..." Drat it all. She was doing this to him. Glamouring him, trying to make him forget why he had come to her. "Never mind. I shall have to do it myself. Already I have an idea."
"And that is...?" She lifted her eyebrows.
"I am not sure yet," he said stiffly. "But I know I have one. I am just not sure what it is yet."
She nodded, with her gentle smile. "It is a start, I'm certain."
"You will see that," he told her, "when I have saved the world."
And with that, he disappeared from her view, and went off to brood and find out what his idea was. But once alone, all he could really manage to think about was her eyes and her smile.
Sam Gamgee loved to sing. There was just one problem: he could not carry a tune in a basket with three handles, as his old Gaffer was wont to say.
Stop that racket! family members would yell at him when he got to singing one of his favorite ballads, became carried away and bellowed at the top of his voice.
Who told you you could sing, his big brother Halfred would say. Yer sound like a donkey down a well.
A skunk has got into your tune-patch, his other brother Hamson snickered. Not that he was any song-thrush hisself, by a long road, as their mum was quick to point out.
Stick with gardening, Sam's relations would tell him. And take care. The flowers may wilt if you start up your caterwaulin' with 'em. The taters 'll rot in the ground, like as not.
So Sam sang only where others couldn't hear him, which was rarely because there was nearly always somebody about, sooner or later.
Then Mister Frodo moved in with Mister Bilbo next door, and everything changed.
Sam had always been fond of the old hobbit. Mister Bilbo knew so many stories, and although his old Gaffer said they was probably mostly made up, Sam loved to hear them. And he could make up poems and songs of his own, and he taught them to Sam, who wrote them down, and that made learning his letters much more fun.
If he could just sing them! Mister Bilbo was a decent singer for a hobbit of his age. And he came up with jolly tunes to some of his ditties, the one about the merry old inn and the man in the moon being Sam's favorite, and he wished others could hear them. But Mister Bilbo wouldn't sing in public much. Folks were too apt to laugh at him.
And then Mister Frodo came.
Sam was in awe of Mister Frodo from the first day he saw him. Not only was he far more pleasing to look at than other hobbits, he was smarter, and dreamier, always poring over those books that had strange and beautiful writing Sam couldn't make head or tail of and pictures the like of which he had never seen before. And he noticed things others didn't, like the stars, and he wondered what made things work, and he liked to go about the woods examining things like ants and birds and fishes, even snakes, and the lichens on tree bark, and cocoons on stems of grass, and the dewy webs of spiders in the branches of trees, and many other things.
And he told of Elves, some of whom he had met on a jaunt with Mister Bilbo.
And one day Sam came upon him in the garden, and Mister Frodo was singing. Softly, and Sam could not understand a word, but the sound of it was so passing beautiful, Sam held his breath listening. Even when the song was over, Sam did not make his presence known, for he had a feeling Mister Frodo did not wish to be disturbed. He seemed sad somehow. Sam recalled that he had lost both his parents in a boating accident when he was but twelve. Sam couldn't imagine that at all. Even as prickly as his old Gaffer could be, Sam thought the whole world of him, and of his mum too. He couldn't begin to picture a world without them.
He wished he might sing a song of his own, for a small lyric had come to him, and he had written it down. In his head he could hear the tune that should go to it, but he didn't know how to set it down, and his voice would not bring it forth the way his head and heart heard it.
And then one day, as he was going over to help with the gardening, there was that yellow rosebush, with the fairy ring all around.
It was early morning, and yet he could see something in the middle of the rose. Like a sparkling dewdrop it was, only brighter and bigger. And it seemed to pulsate like a star. He stood there, a yard or so from the circle of mushrooms, just looking at that bit of light on that yellow rose.
It seemed to be calling to him. Step inside the fairy ring, Sam, it seemed to be telling him.
Some folks said it wasn't lucky to step inside a fairy ring. You might be trapped, unable to get out. You might get a spell put on you. You might be turned into a toad or a bug.
He wondered if Mister Frodo had ever stepped inside the fairy ring.
Sam found himself standing just a foot outside of it. He looked at the rose once more, and saw the bit of light gleaming, seeming to laugh a little, then he heard a soft and lovely sound, very faint, but distinct in the morning air. And before he even knew what he was about, his feet moved closer and closer until he was inside the fairy ring.
He didn't turn into a toad or a bug. And if a spell was being put on him, it was a mighty fine one.
And the bit of light in the rose vanished. But something washed over Sam, like a very light summer rain, and he shivered a little, and he could smell the fragrance of the rose, intoxicating, for the first time. And a smile lit his face as if he himself were the rose, and a strange happiness overtook him, and he ran home laughing out loud. And he dug in his things for the song he had set down, and sang it softly, and it was the way he had heard it in his head, only much better. It was only a bit of stuff and nonsense about a troll, inspired by one of Mister Bilbo's tales, but it sounded so jolly, and he swayed from one side to the other as he sang:
Troll sat alone on his seat of stone
and munched and mumbled a bare old bone
For many a year he had gnawed it near
for meat was hard to come by
Gum by! Done by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone
and meat was hard to come by….
Oh my, a little silvery voice behind him said. It was his littlest sister Marigold.
Sing that again, she said, her eyes glistening like they had fairies in them.
Sam made other songs, and he sang some of them for the Bagginses, and it always made them smile, especially the Troll Song, which seldom failed to cheer Mister Frodo when he was out of sorts. There would come a time when it wouldn't, but that would not be for a good many years yet.
Much later, another song came to Sam. It was utterly unlike any other song he had made. It was in Rivendell that it came to him, and he quickly set the words down so he shouldn't forget them, and after he heard the Elves singing, a tune came stealing in the night to him. But he sang it for none of them, save for Mister Frodo when he lay in his deep sleep, and Sam's heart was heavy and afraid for his life. Only then did he sing it, holding to his master's hand, and no one else was about, or so he thought.
In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.
That was as much as he dared sing at first. For the next verse had to do with journey's end, and he dreaded to give voice to it, lest it come to pass for Mister Frodo.
But finally one morning he did sing it. He did not see Mister Gandalf come in behind him at first, and he sat there a long moment, then finally he wiped away a tear and fumbled in his pocket for his handkerchief to blow his nose. He found he lacked it, and nature was calling anyhow, so he stood up and tottered out blindly past Mister Gandalf, whom he was not even aware of had finally returned.
Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep
Above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
And when he came back from the privy, that was when he heard Mister Frodo's voice at last.
And the next time he sang it, he heard Mister Frodo's voice that much sooner, and their journey would soon be at its end, and he would never quite know where the song had come from. But he was certain he could guess, even though She had left the Shire long ago and he had not been aware of her since then….
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story archived at http://www.lotrgfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=1606