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Title: Bilbo`s Gift
Author: Anso the Hobbit
Characters: Frodo and Merry
Timeline: SR 1401, Hobbiton, so Frodo is 33 and Merry 19
Summary: Preparing for bed, Merry discovers the gift that Bilbo has left for him
“Good night Frodo” Merry said as Frodo prepared to leave the study and go to bed.
“Night, Mer. Thanks for helping me out.” Frodo wearily but lovingly embraced his younger cousin and left him to shut down the smial for the night. Hopefully there wouldn`t be any more visitors this evening.
Merry watched Frodo go, and thought for a moment to just leave the smial as it was before going to bed himself, but at the rate visitors were coming, more would probably arrive early next morning, so Merry went through Bag End to set everything in order for the next day. He yawned and rolled his shoulders a little before making himself ready to go to bed. As he opened the door to his room in the back of the smial he saw something lying on his bed that he couldn`t remember having been there before. He put his candle down and approached the bed. What could this be? A gift gone astray? But why was it lying on his bed if it was not meant for him? Both Bilbo and Frodo had given him their gifts earlier at the Party, he still had Frodo`s gift in his pocket, a watch that fit perfectly in his weskit pocket, a token of appreciation that Merry was becoming a young adult in need of his own pocket watch. Merry shook his head and sat down to have a closer look at the package.
Merry hadn`t thought about the possibility that there was an extra gift for him though he had helped Frodo assemble the packages in the hall, ready for the morning. He had been too occupied with his work with helping Frodo to think that Bilbo would leave something for him.
For a moment he thought about Pippin and the wonderful little wooden boat he had received, and the joy on Pippin`s face when he was given the toy, exclaiming loudly that this was perfect for playing in the pond by the Smials, and “Oh, Merry, it looks like your boat!” Merry had agreed that it did and Pippin had wanted to go and play with it at once, in the bath.
Then his thoughts flew to the wonderful crackers they had been given, full of tiny instruments that could be played, and how they had had such fun with them, playing along with the band. For a brief moment he wondered where his drum had got to, but decided that he`d find out the next morning.
Merry edged a little further up towards the headboard on the bed, reading the nametag. “To my adventurous Merry-lad From Cousin Bilbo” It was the same kind of nametag that had been on the other gifts, Merry remembered, and stretched a hand out to touch it. The shape of the gift wasn`t revealing, and by the look of it, it could be a lot of things. He thought for a moment that this probably was the last birthday gift he would get from Bilbo. Bilbo had gone to stay with the Elves, Merry was sure of that, after spying on Bilbo for some time after he had once seen him put his magic ring on. His heart jumped a little at the thought of not seeing Bilbo again, but something in him told him that maybe, just maybe, he`d see his old cousin again.
Bilbo had always given wonderful gifts, and seemed to know what a hobbit wanted as well as needed. Merry was sure this was something special and not simply another mathom Bilbo felt like giving away because he or Frodo didn`t need it. Merry lifted the package onto his lap and tossed it a little in his hands. It wasn`t heavy, but it wasn`t too light either. What could it be? A thin book? Maybe about breeding ponies? Merry had started learning how to breed ponies just this year, and was gathering all the knowledge he could find. Or maybe it was a set of pens? Bilbo had several lovely sets of those, Merry knew. Handkerchiefs? A scarf or tie? The package was soft, but not soft enough to contain cloth or at least not only cloth. Merry was excited and happy and giggled a little, feeling a little as a child who had been given an unexpected treat. In all Bilbo`s hustle and bustle with the magnificent Party and his preparations to leave, Merry was not forgotten. Merry`s heart swelled with love for his dear, old relative, and sent a silent prayer to the Valar to protect Bilbo, and he hoped that Bilbo was safe wherever he was.
Like everyone else, Merry had got his mathom at the Party, a beautiful little flute made of beech, but this was something more. There were gifts for all and sundry wrapped and given away by Frodo and Bilbo that day, but Merry felt that this gift was something special, a something to treasure for the rest of his life and remember Bilbo by.
Gently Merry started to unwrap the coloured strings that held the package together. Slowly the wrapping gave way, and fine parchment was revealed. It was a map! Merry was beside himself with joy, and had Frodo been awake he would have run into his room to show it to him. Merry turned the map right-side up and just marvelled at the beauty of it. It was a detailed map of the entire Shire, and Bilbo had made it himself. Merry saw that at once. Villages, rivers, forests, the Smials, Bag End and Brandy Hall were all painted on in red and green and blue ink. Bilbo`s work was remarkable, and even if Merry had seen Bilbo make maps (before, he hadn`t seen a map as wonderful and detailed as this. It must have taken the old hobbit days of work.
Merry hugged the map to his heart, and with tears in his eyes he whispered a heartfelt “thank you” as memories of Bilbo teaching him to understand, read and draw maps flooded into his mind. Bilbo had always encouraged Merry`s adventurous side over the years, and on more than a few occasions joined him and Frodo tramping through the Shire.
Carefully putting the map on the nightstand, Merry undressed and crept under the covers. Taking a last look at the map before blowing the candle out, Merry laid his head on the pillow and slept with pleasant dreams of himself tramping around the Shire with Bilbo`s map in hand, with Frodo, and someday Pippin, for company.
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