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Disclaimer: Hobbits do not belong to me, but to the great Professor, JRRT Tolkien.
Thank You to Pearl Took AND PipkinSweetgrass: For the Challenge.
Special Thank You to Pearl Took: Who has encouraged me, and was/is my extra pair of eyes for this story. But should anything be amiss--blame me, not her!
Gandalf and the Seahobbit
Elladan tells me the others have arrived. I leave Frodo in the care of Elrond, as there is nothing further that we can do for him. The dear hobbit had been stabbed by a Morgul blade just days ago on Weathertop. It was nothing less than a marvel that Elrond was able to bring him back from the evil slumber that took him.
I take the passage past the Great Hall and find Glorfindel, Aragorn, and three young hobbits in another room used for welcoming visitors. I instantly recognize Samwise--I was the one who gave him this charge. To watch over Frodo along his Journey, or to be turned into something unnatural, as he put it. The next hobbit I see is Meriadoc Brandybuck. A young hobbit just out of his tweens yet has proven to be a very thoughtful and insightful lad. So far, I am commending Frodo on his choice of friends.
Meriadoc obscures the face of the third hobbit as he leans down and speaks something into his ear. There are scrapes and cuts on the unknown’s hands and knees as if he has fallen on sharp rocks. I am eager to discover the identity of this companion so I wait, engaging Aragorn and Glorfindel in conversation until Meriadoc can move from his position. He does not; he is still too close to the injured hobbit for me to observe, so I draw near to Meriadoc and inquire about whom he is speaking to.
The face is clear to me now; he is no longer ‘unknown’ to me. I have seen his face before. I do not commend Frodo on his choice of this friend. Who I see before me is a very young, and very irresponsible hobbit still in his tweens--considered little more than a boy by his own people. I have only met this rapscallion thrice before; the first time he was a young eleven-year-old boy and incessantly asked me if my rockets were enchanted and perhaps I would show him how to make one as well. The second time, I caught him playing truant along the road--and I presume that he was the invention behind Meriadoc’s involvement. The third--and thankfully the last time I saw him, he was not much older. It was by mere chance that he was staying with Frodo and Meriadoc at Bag End when I paid a visit to Frodo. The teen-aged hobbit had pinched my staff and was wielding it in the garden towards the daisies, making great effort to cast a spell on them to sing.
I instructed Frodo to select friends he can trust, but now I see that he erred in his judgment.
Aragorn tells me he is taking the hobbits to the guest quarters so he can tend to them. They have had very little sleep or food in the past couple of days. It is now that I see the exhaustion etched in their faces. Sam is quiet; looking wide eyed all about him at the various elves greeting them. Meriadoc and Peregrin repeatedly ask Aragorn about their cousin. All three hobbits are oblivious to their own wants and needs. Their collective concern is for Frodo. Is he alive? Where is he? They refuse any comforts offered until they are satisfied Frodo is in the hands of a healer and is safe.
Suddenly my eyes become riveted on Peregrin. I am captivated as if I am seeing him for the very first time. I notice his unkempt hair is the color of clover honey kissed by a warm summer’s sun, full of ringlets the size of a silver coin reaching down past his shirt collar. His clear, green eyes, though heavy and weary now, remind me of bright emerald gems. His nose, his lips...are all reminders of a friend who lived long ago....
* * * * * * * * *
The year was 2823. I was riding through the Shire on the East Road when I happened upon an old oak tree near the Three Farthing Stone. I spotted perched upon one of the lower branches a large, strange bird. I knew it was no bird, but a hobbit. Yet what I found even more strange was that he was not sitting, but actually standing upon the limb in the brusque autumn breeze. I stopped the cart underneath the tree and offered a greeting. “Good day, young fellow,” I said.
I sadly recall that my greeting was not expected. The poor hobbit was gazing in the other direction and was startled at the sound of my voice. I watched as he struggled to keep hold of the limb. His grasp slipped and he fell to the ground.
I had traveled through the Shire on many occasions before yet never stopped to engage any of the inhabitants in conversation. Most--if they saw me--would suddenly disappear into the underbrush, so I rarely had opportunity to study Hobbits thoroughly; yet they seemed most worthy of consideration. I hesitated to help the little fellow but soon realized my concern of interfering with their culture was unfounded.
I jumped from the cart and went over to the slumped figure on the leaf-ridden ground. I crouched down to roll him over onto his back. I began to chide myself for my abrupt greeting when the lad took in a rasping breath.
“You’re not an Elf,” he said slowly.
“No, I am not,” I replied. Lifting the hobbit up in my arms I carried him to the back of my cart, checking his limbs and head for any broken bones. Thankfully there were none--only a lump on his head. I take in a calm and easy breath. I watch him looking at me; looking at me through his emerald green eyes that were getting clearer by the minute. His hair was a head full of honey-brown curls that appeared not to have seen a comb in days. In countenance and stature he reminded me of a child I once knew in Rohan, yet he seemed not to be a child.
I returned his gaze with my own. He never turned away. What was he seeing?
“You’re an old, old Man,” he finally spoke.
“Yes, I am,” I say, not wanting this encounter to become too difficult for the little hobbit. “What is your name?”
“Gerontius Took,” he answered me. He sat up with some difficulty, brushing himself off.
“Well, Gerontius Took,” I said, “I will be taking you home to your father and mother before they become anxious.”
I puzzle at his hearty laughter, so I asked him, “Why are you laughing?”
“I’ll have you know I’m a respectable thirty-three year old hobbit,” he said, “I live in my own quarters now.”
“Thirty-three?” I query, “Then I take it you have a wife and three children?” I smile with satisfaction of my fairly accurate guess. But now I see the little hobbit is mortified.
“Married? How do you figure I’m married when I’ve just come of age two weeks ago?”
Just come of age? At thirty-three? I muse on this fact as I try to smooth things over with the young, er...adult hobbit. “Either way, Master Hobbit, whatever were you doing standing up in the tree anyhow?”
“I was Elf-watching I’ll have you know,” he answered. “They travel into these parts quite often and I wanted a closer look is all. Haven’t you ever seen an Elf?”
“Once or twice,” I answer, looking around at the surrounding woods and meadows. “Now where in the Shire do you live?”
My young charge glares at me, “You don’t know? I told you I’m a Took--Gerontius Took, at that.”
I do not admit that I have only studied the Shire from afar. I ask him, “and by your name alone I am supposed to know where you live?”
The hobbit seems exasperated with me. He rolls his eyes, “Yes--nearly all Brandybucks live in Buckland, the Bagginses in Hobbiton, and nearly all Tooks live in the Tookland, just south of here. I live in Great Smials near Tuckborough where my father is The Took and Thain of the Shire.”
I am discovering more about Hobbits during informal conversation with Gerontius than I have in my own studies over the past few hundred years. I had always been both curious and amused by their lodgings and simple living, but I also understand that there is more to these creatures than meets the eye. Together, Gerontius and I ride towards Great Smials.
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