More Than Meets the Eye by Shirebound

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MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Chapter 1 – By Hearth-light

They came back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin’s harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill.

‘An Unexpected Party’, The Hobbit

 

How long had it been since he and his comrades had gathered like this, playing their instruments for the sheer joy of music -- the ancient melodies washing away, for a time, the bitter memories and heartsick longing that never fully left them? How many innkeepers had welcomed his songs merely as a bit of diverting entertainment, offering a night’s lodging or hot meal in exchange? How low the proud sons of Durin had sunk, how nearly forgotten, how...

As he played, his thoughts swirling into dark places, Thorin happened to glance at the hobbit. This Mr. Baggins was so excitable and unknowing of the wide world, and so very young. Not a hint of a beard yet graced his round face. There were no weapons proudly displayed in this home, neither sword nor bow nor axe; and he wore upon his simple garments no sign of any rank or position among his people. How could his merit be judged? What did Gandalf see in this one that he could not?

But just then, in the flickering hearth-light, he noticed something odd. The hobbit was gazing out one of the windows into the night. His face was flushed, his small, fidgety hands utterly still in his lap, his breathing slow and measured. With a slight shiver, Thorin felt the stirring of true seeing, the rare gift that those of the royal line of Durin the Deathless carried in their blood. With the effort of a long-unused skill, he followed the hobbit’s thoughts as they flew beyond his comfortable parlor and secure homeland. Mr. Baggins, his eyes suddenly aglow with wonder, was caught and held by a vision of caverns and gems, fire-spouting beasts, and mountains his physical eyes had never known. Thorin felt the young one’s heart burn, his breath quicken.

Thorin sensed someone looking at him with thoughtful regard. Still playing smoothly upon his beloved harp, he turned slightly to meet Gandalf’s even gaze. The wizard gestured with his chin towards the hobbit, nodded, then with a twinkle of his eye his face was once again lost behind a curtain of smoke.

So there was more to this hobbit than met the eye. He possessed at least the depth of spirit to be stirred by the ancient power of Dwarvish music, and the courage to follow where it led. So, then. Let him choose his path full willing. Let him hear and feel what truly lay beyond his gentle land’s carefully tilled fields and predictable lives.

And so, closing his eyes, Thorin began to sing.

“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old...”
 

** TBC **     




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