Bedtime Stories by Certh

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'When [Uglúk] had forced a drink from his flask down the hobbit’s throat, cut his leg-bonds, and dragged him to his feet, Merry stood up, looking pale but grim and defiant, and very much alive. The gash in his forehead gave him no more trouble, but he bore a brown scar to the end of his days.'

    - The Two Towers, Book 3, Chapter III

The lights of Brandy Hall twinkled merrily in the darkness, and quiet blanketed the hill. Somewhere within, a young hobbit trotted to his bedroom, small legs working ceaselessly as he bustled about the chamber, relocating toys and other small things.

The smiling face of a dark-haired female hobbit peered through the doorway. Seeing the four-year-old in such a flurry, Estella walked inside. “Caradoc,¹ it is time to go to bed, love.”

The boy paused and looked at her with pleading eyes. “Must I, Mama? I am not sleepy. It is my birthday tomorrow.”

“And that is why you should rest. You would not want to fall asleep on your feet tomorrow, would you?”

As her son's expression changed, Estella grinned to herself, eyes sparkling. After that, she managed to get her firstborn into his nightclothes without much fuss.

Fidgeting in bed, little Caradoc turned to his mother. “I have found the most pretty presents for you and Papa,” he said excitedly, curly locks bouncing on his shoulders.

“And your Mama and I are looking forward to discovering what they are.”

The young hobbit beamed as his father entered the room and came to sit by him on the bed. Then he frowned, gaze fixed on his parent's forehead. “Papa, how did you get that mark? It looks bad.”

Watching the candle of the bedside table burn low and knowing the answer to that question would probably be long-winded, Estella turned to her son: “It is late, darling, and you need to be rested for tomorrow.” She made to tuck the four-year-old in, but Caradoc didn't move.

His father noted the eager face and bright eyes and let out a breath of laughter. “Do you promise to go to sleep if I tell you?”

The answer was an enthusiastic nod.

Merry thought for a moment. “Well, it all happened a long time ago, when four Hobbits set out on an Adventure,” he began. Of course, the long tale would have to be shortened, turned into something fit for young ears: a bedtime story.

Chapter End Notes:

¹ In the first drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Caradoc was the name of Merry Brandybuck's father, afterwards rejected (The History of Middle-earth: The Return of the Shadow, Chapter XIV).

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