Brandy Hall, Hearthside at Yule, S.R. 1349 by Dreamflower

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(written for hobbit_ficathon) 


Outside the snow swirled and the wind howled. Inside, the smial was redolent with the wonderful warm scents of Yule--the smells of baked goods and sweets mingled with the aromas of the evergreens cut to decorate the halls and of the candles that brightly burned and of the Yule logs blazing in each hearth.

Most of the adults were in the main dining hall, still filling up the corners, and enjoying various alcoholic beverages--ale or mulled wine, or brandy or sherry. But some of the tweens and children had gathered in this little side study, with its cheerily burning hearth, to listen to old Cousin Bilbo spin his tales.

Bilbo had been spending Yule in Buckland for several years--since his return from his mysterious journey, in fact. He said Hobbiton was too stodgy over the holidays, and Tookland was too noisy. He found that Brandy Hall was a nice happy medium, or so he said. And this year, he had brought along his cousin Drogo, who was the only other full adult in the room. He sat in an armchair alongside Bilbo’s, and held little Marmadas Brandybuck in his lap. Marmadas, only six, was nearly asleep, in spite of Bilbo’s exciting tale.

Primula Brandybuck, a beauty in her late tweens, sat on the settee between her dear friends Primrose and Peridot Took, with her little nephew Saradoc, who was only nine, on her lap. Primrose held her own little sister, Esmeralda, twelve, on her lap as well and Peridot held Primula’s other nephew Merimac. Their little brother Paladin sat on the floor at their feet, leaning back on Primroses’s knees.

“…and so, there I was, as you can imagine, feeling quite foolish. I had packed all the Dwarves neatly into a barrel apiece, and it was nearly time for the Elves to begin throwing them into the River. But I was not in a barrel, and there was no one who could have put me into one if there had been. I was beginning to feel a bit frantic, to say the least.” Bilbo waggled his eyebrows, and the children chuckled, as he seemed to expect it.

Drogo discreetly rolled his eyes. He had heard the tale many a time, and improbable though it seemed, he tended to believe most of it, if only because it did make his older cousin seem a bit foolish.

Primula caught his eye, and winked at him. He blushed furiously. It was not the Brandybucks’ lavish table, nor his cousin’s tales, that had brought him to Buckland for Yule this year.

No, it was the pair of sparkling blue eyes, the dimples, the dark curls, of the Master’s youngest daughter. It would be another long four years before he could formally court her, and she had any number of other younger and more dashing suitors. He could only hope that the attraction she seemed to feel for him now would still be there when she finally came of age, for he could imagine himself with no one else. And so from now till then, he would take every opportunity he could find to be in her company.

Bilbo was singing now, the song that he claimed was sung by the Elves as they threw the barrels into the river, though Drogo suspected the song was one of Bilbo’s own, and now Saradoc and Merimac were also losing the fight against sleep. Drogo caught Bilbo’s eye as the song finished, and glanced at the sleeping little ones. Bilbo smiled and nodded, and Drogo, Primula and the Took sisters carefully got up to take their sleeping burdens at last to bed. That left Esmeralda Took and her brother Paladin to listen to the story. They slid over and scooted up close to Bilbo’s feet.

“And then what happened, Cousin Bilbo?” asked Esme breathlessly.

And outside the windows, the snow swirled and the wind howled.

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