Circle of Joy by Dreamflower

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Story Notes:

 This story was inspired by the music “Circle of Joy” by Lisa Lynne on The Celtic Circle 1 CD. The music just seems so very hobbity to me.


The birthday feast was ended, and it was time for music and dancing. This party was not anything as elaborate as Bilbo’s famous Last Party; for his fortieth birthday, Frodo had invited a number of his closest kin and friends, not more than a score of people altogether.

Esmeralda sat on the edge of the bandstand and took out her fiddle. It was such a beautiful instrument--it had, in fact, been her gift from Bilbo on that last birthday--and she never tired of looking at it. She began to tune it, and felt, rather than saw, Pippin sit down next to her, with his own fiddle, which he also companionably began to tune. Soon they were joined by his sister Pimpernel with her tambour, and Folco Boffin with his flute. Not a large band, nor a professional one, but perfectly adequate for this small gathering. Once the instruments were tuned, they discussed the order of the songs, and got ready to play.

They started with the Tangle Dance; no need to announce it, once the strains of the music began, all the guests, young and old hurried to join in. Frodo led the dance himself, weaving in and out under the arms of the dancers until they were all hopelessly entangled, and as the last notes played they broke apart, breathless with laughter.

Most of the older hobbits retreated to the sidelines. Esmeralda shook her head at the sight of her husband Saradoc and her brother Paladin, going right back to their interrupted conversation--probably politics or business, or both. They couldn’t get away from it even at a party.

She brought her attention back to her fellow musicians, and the group of younger hobbits who had remained in front of them. There were enough there to make up a set of four couples: Frodo, and his cousin, Pearl, Merry with Pearl’s sister Pervinca, Fatty Bolger and his sister Estella, and Samwise Gamgee and his younger sister Marigold. The young Gamgees had seemed a bit ill at ease at first, at being included as guests, but they had relaxed a bit as the evening wore on. Esmeralda thought perhaps it had helped that the weather was fine enough to hold the party outdoors, where the two felt more at home.

They did “Candles”, which was rather a lovely dance done by two sets of two couples, and “Took’s Procession”, which was done all in a line, and “Exchanges”, which was a lot of fun. Esmeralda noticed Pippin’s longing expression. He liked to dance just as well as he liked to play, but he couldn’t do both.

Then they did some circle dances.

They finally came to the one Esmeralda loved the most. The sprightly notes of “Circle of Joy” came forth, and the couples moved in time to the music, dancing to the side, and then moving in to the center, and back out again, then the lasses weaved in and out between the lads, and all turned around, and the lads did the same. The movements were repeated, and Esmeralda lost herself in the music.

Finally they came to the last notes, and the music ended. The musicians came down from the stand, and became once more simply guests.

Frodo came over to Esmeralda, and gave her a brief embrace. “Thank you for leading our music tonight, Aunt Esme.”

She looked into his sparkling joyful blue eyes. “I was glad to do it, Frodo, my lad. You know how I love to show off my fiddle playing! And how seldom I have a chance to do so.”

He gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Well, thank you just the same. It was perfectly lovely.”

Esmeralda grinned at him. It was so good to see him happy. She had feared that after Bilbo left, he would no longer be content in the Shire, but now she thought, he has found his place, and she was glad.

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