Belladonna's Gift by Dreamflower

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Belladonna's Gift

Leaning heavily upon her walking stick, Belladonna went into the mathom room.  She had not been in this particular room in seven years.  It had been meant to be another bedroom, but it was rather small, and when no other children had come along to fill it up, it had gradually turned into another mathom room. 

Most of the items stored in this particular room were clothing.  Belladonna gazed about at the stacks of boxes filling the room.  The room was not dusty nor musty—Mrs. Button, who took care of the housekeeping for the Bagginses now that Belladonna's own health prevented her from doing most tasks herself—dusted and aired all of the unused rooms on a regular basis.

First she hobbled over to a large oak wardrobe, and pulled open the doors; tears sparked in her eyes as she looked at all the clothing hanging there, smelling of lavender and other herbs. Oh, Bungo! she thought. I still miss you so much..  She gave a deep sigh.  She really should have done something about these clothes years ago.  But Bilbo could not have worn any of them.  There had been a time when he and his father had been much of a size, but Bungo had shrunk over the years…as had she.  And she did not believe she could have borne to see anyone else wearing them. 

She reached in and took out a cloak of rich velvet; it was of a wine color so deep as to be nearly brown.  He had worn it to the wedding of his cousin Fosco, not long before his last illness overcame him.  She drew it forth and laid it aside.  There were many of his favourite waistcoats as well.  He had been very fond of fancy waistcoats, a conceit his son had inherited.  She took forth several of his favorites.  And there was a jacket of golden velvet—one which he had not worn since Bilbo was a child.  She recalled that she once had a redingote made of the same material, (which she later gifted to her niece Amaranth Brandybuck).  The two of them had looked quite smart together-- he in his golden jacket, she in her redingote…

Bungo had only been eighty.  Not old for a hobbit, really.  She felt a sob trying to force its way past her throat, and she drew a deep breath and denied it.  She had made the decision to lay her mourning aside, and she would abide by it.

Bilbo had been crushed by his father's death.  He was only three years past his majority.  Belladonna followed the old customs, and had retained the Family Headship, although part of her had longed to give it over to her son and follow her husband beyond the circles of the world.  But she could not do that to her lad, so bowed down by his own grief, and she had struggled on.  She was, after all, daughter of the Old Took himself.

But the struggle was nearly ended.  Her breath came less and less easily, her legs swollen and her feet painful, and Mistress Rose Greenhand, who had long been the family healer had confirmed Belladonna's own suspicions.  The same illness that had laid both Bungo and Belladonna low during the Fell Winter, the illness that had nearly claimed both of them when their son was still only a young tween, had permanently damaged their health, as it had many other hobbits of their generation—those that were spared at the time.

 Her next birthday would be her last.  She was determined to last that long.

She had not plied her needle in such an ambitious project in a long time, but Bungo's young cousin Dora, who would come of age next year, was willing to help her, especially with the cutting.  Bilbo's gift would be from both his parents, enfolding him in their warmth and love long after they were gone…

~~~~~~~~~~

The guests had been few in consideration of their hostess, whose health was no longer robust.  Each had gone away after the Birthday Supper well-pleased with the gifts they had received.

"I've one more, Bilbo dear," she said.  "But I wished to wait until we were alone.  I suppose that's selfish of me."

"Not at all, Mama," Bilbo replied, smiling at her as he took the parcel.  It was rather soft and large—clearly an item of clothing.  He carefully untied the ribbon and drew away the muslin wrapping.  His eyes grew large as he held up the magnificent dressing gown.  It took him only seconds to recognize the bits of rich fabric which had been pieced together. 

Tears came to his eyes and he rose to go to her side and embrace her.  "Thank you, Mama.  It is beautiful, and it looks to be quite warm."

"I am glad that you like it, my son."  Belladonna smiled brightly at him, and hoped he did not realise that this was a farewell gift.

In the end, she rallied, and stayed a few months longer.  But one spring day in early Astron, Bilbo entered her room with her morning tea, looking quite smart in his dressing gown.  She was always pleased to see him in it.

It took only one look at the smile on her peaceful face to know that she had left him.  Hands trembling, Bilbo set the teacup down on the nearest surface and approached her bed.  Tears went unnoticed as he dropped a gentle kiss on top of her head.  "Say hello to Papa for me, Mama," he whispered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author's Notes: This story inspired by the following screencaps for the upcoming movie of The Hobbit.

Bilbo's Dressing Gown (close up)Bilbo's Dressing Gown (the back)




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