The Magic of a Wizard's Song by Shirebound

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Book-verse: Merry and Pippin did not attend the Council of Elrond, nor were they immediately chosen to accompany Frodo and Sam to Mt. Doom.           

         

The Magic of a Wizard’s Song        

"Ass! Fool! Thrice worthy and beloved Barliman!" said [Gandalf]. "It's the best news I have had since midsummer: it's worth a gold piece at the least. May your beer be laid under an enchantment of surpassing excellence for seven years!" said I. "Now I can take a night's rest, the first since I have forgotten when."        

‘The Council of Elrond’, The Fellowship of the Ring          

The hobbits enjoyed a light meal in Bilbo’s room while Frodo and Sam filled Merry and Pippin in on the goings-on at the Council. Bilbo sat at his desk, furiously scribbling notes.            

“How d’you think he did it?” Sam asked, reaching for a third piece of delicious bread piled with a sharp, golden cheese.            

“How who did what, Sam?” Frodo asked.            

“Mr. Gandalf said he magicked the innkeeper’s beer for seven years,” Sam reminded him.            

“Sam Gamgee,” Frodo said in amazement, “after all those hours of talk, and everthing we heard, the beeris what made the biggest impression on you?”            

“But sir, it’s real magic, and that’s a fact,” Sam said eagerly.  “Seven years!  Why, the barley for that vintage hasn’t even been sowed, let alone harvested.  How would it know if it was enchanted or not?”            

“Sprouted grains can be dried and put aside,” Merry offered.  “Maybe Gandalf hunted up the inn’s grain stores and spoke some words over them.”            

“That would be very useful wizarding,” Pippin said approvingly.  “Suppose the soil is poor in Bree, or the rains not enough?  But here would come harvest after harvest of enchanted barley, sure as anything.”            

“Or maybe it’s plain old beer, right enough, until someone tastes it,” Sam added.  “Mr. Gandalf’s spell could wait until just the right moment, and then.... there it is!”            

Frodo chuckled.  “Perhaps.”  He pushed a dish of toasted nuts closer to Bilbo, whose left hand was absently reaching for them while he continued to write.  “Bilbo, do you have anything to add to this conversation?”            

“Of course I do, lads.”  Bilbo turned around in his chair to face the others.  “I’ve seen my share of marvellous things... swords that glow, trolls, a dragon.... my old ring, which caused so much fuss and bother... Why, it’s said that the Powers sang the whole world into being.  Couldn’t a wizard sing up a superb beer or sup?”            

“Did you ever hear him sing, Mr. Bilbo?” Sam asked.  “Has he a good voice?”            

Bilbo laughed.  “Not bad, not bad.”            

“Then you did hear him?” Frodo asked.  He leaned forward, eager to hear a new story from Bilbo.            

“Oh my, yes,” Bilbo said.  “When the dwarves first came to Bag End they brought ever so many musical instruments with them.  What a night that was!”            

“Tell us about it,” Frodo begged.           

“Frodo, you’ve heard my tales so many times, you must have them memorized by now,” Bilbo said with a smile.           

“But you never mentioned Gandalf singing.”           

“And I haven’t heard nearly as many stories,” Pippin declared.  “I was only 11 when you left the Shire, Cousin Bilbo.”           

“So you were.  My goodness, if you really care to hear about it...”  Bilbo looked pleased.  He took a drink of water, then cleared his throat in anticipation of telling a tale.           

“You go ahead, Mr. Bilbo,” Sam said, gazing about the depleted table.  He got to his feet.  “If you’ll pardon me, I’ll see if I can find the kitchen again, and bring us back a little something for afters.”            

“I’ll go with you, Sam,” Merry said.             

When the two hobbits had left the room, Merry clapped Sam on the shoulder.  “Well done,” he said approvingly.           

Sam looked at him warily.  “Mr. Merry, I’m sure I don’t know what you—”            

“Now Sam,” Merry said gently. “Enchanted beer?  Singing wizards?  I know a diversion when I hear one.”          

“Well... maybe so,” Sam conceded.             

“I know so.  Frodo was exhausted when you returned from that Council, and looked to have the weight on Middle-earth on his shoulders.”            

“Mr. Frodo’s been through a lot, and no mistake,” Sam said earnestly.  “The less he thinks about.... well, things, the better.”           

“I agree,” Merry said quietly.  “You’re good for him, Sam, more than you know.”  He paused for a moment as they tried to remember which corridor to take.  “That way,” he said at last, pointing down a stairway.  “I’m sure I smell bread baking.”           

“And such lovely bread it is,” Sam said happily, following Merry down the stairs.           

“Sam?”           

“Yes, sir?”           

“How doyou imagine Gandalf enchanted that beer?”           

“I couldn’t say.  But do you think he’d be willing to do it again?”  Sam’s eyes shone at the thought.  “I think we might be here a good while, so we should be able to talk to him.  If we told him it was Mr. Frodo who was in need of a nice mug o’ something, why, he’d probably be glad to...”           

As Sam chattered on, Merry just smiled and listened.  After all, Frodo wasn’t the only one who needed a diversion now and again.           

** END **




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