Hobbit's Hallowe'en

by Lothithil

 Hobbit's Hallowe'en, with Frodo, Merry, and Pergrin

There was an ample stack of firewood at hand, but Frodo let the campfire burn low. There were only the bed of glowing coals left from their cookfire, like winking eyes of yellow and red with a few bluish flames dancing like sprites across the rippling surface. The glow underlit his face as he leaned forward, giving him a solemn and mysterious look. Pippin held his breath; Frodo could tell the most scary-eveolous stories!

He paused for a moment, then continued his tale. "The hedge was high, but the trees leaned over it. They reached out with their long, branching fingers, to grab any hobbit fry who dared leave his bed after nightfall!" Frodo spoke slowly and as he did, he reached his hands out, looking up as if to catch a movement in the trees around them.

Pippin was sitting across the campfire, leaning close to Merry as they listened to Frodo speaking. He was shivering with delighted terror, but he was not truely afraid. He knew that he'd never come to harm in Merry and Frodo's company, so he could really enjoy the thrill of the darkness and the spooky fire.

He clutched Merry's arm as the firelight faded preceptably, so that all around them the shadows of the trees seemed to reach over them. "The trees?" he squeaked, burying his face in Merry's sleeve.

Merry laughed and put an arm around Pippin. "Ease off, Frodo! You're scaring him out of a year's growth, and he's already so short his feet barely reach the ground!"

"Very well!" Frodo relented. He reached behind him and laid a largish log of wood on the coals. The flames licked it eagerly and the light climbed up and made the trees shrink back to their former, non-threatening shapes. "It is just a story, Pippin. There is no danger here."

"That's right!" agreed Merry. "Now, if you're ever in Buckland, it is better to stay indoors at night, and don't wander near the High Hay nor beyond. There the trees really are unfriendly. Not like here in Tookland."

"The trees in the Green Hills are all friendly?" Pippin asked, searching his cousins's faces. "Promise?"

Frodo hastened to assure his little cousin that he was perfectly safe with him and Merry, but he did add another log to the fire. He took comfort in the bright blaze, too, and after Pippin had dropped off to sleep after a last midnight snack, and he believed that Merry had drifted off, too, Frodo sat up and kept the fire fed, his eyes scanning the skies and the treetops, remembering...

There had been that night he had wandered into the Old Forest, when he was still a lad in Buckland, chasing a light that he thought was Elves walking between the trees. That had been the first night that he had met Gandalf, though he did not learn his name at that time. Many years after that, he had been walking in the Woody End, down further east toward the Waymeet roads, when he had an ill adventure in the trees. He had not told anyone about that day, except for Gandalf; the wizard had rescued him that day, too.

With a wry smile, Frodo realized that Gandalf, in his quiet and unimposing way, had in fact saved his life more times than he had considered. I really ought to do something for him, Frodo thought, poking the fire with a long stick to keep the cinders from leaping out of the circle of stones. But what can I do for a Wizard? Surely, if he had any need, he could take care of it himself...

"Frodo?" Merry lifted his head and nodded at him. "What are you doing still awake?"

Frodo made a shh! gesture, pointing toward the smaller bundle of blankets next to Merry. Merry carefully slipped away from Pippin and joined Frodo on his side of the fire. "I was just thinking. A sky full of stars and a bright fire are good for thinking," Frodo said softly.

"You're worried about something," Merry stated. Frodo glanced at him sharply, but Merry did not blink or back down. "I know you," he said simply, stretching his hands out to the warm caress of the flames. Out of his blanket, the night had grown cold. He wondered that Frodo did not seem to feel it. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Frodo shrugged uncomfortably as Merry continued to stare at him. He never really could lie very convincingly to Merry, or to anyone he considered a friend. "Well, really, I was just thinking about... well, about Gandalf," Frodo finally admitted. "I was thinking it would be nice to do something for him for a change. He has done so much for me and for Bilbo, when he was still here in the Shire..." Frodo's face grew wistful; so he often appeared when he spoke about his uncle. Merry looked away, telling himself that it was so Frodo wouldn't be embarassed. He had a lump in his own throat to try to swallow before he could speak.

"He comes and goes without a note or notion, these days," Merry managed finally to say. "It would be hard to anticipate him, but you might make him a gift and keep it at hand, for when he does appear. Would he like that enough?"

"How can one repay a life with a gift? Oh, I am sure he would be grateful, whatever I tried to do; but what does a wizard need? When he does comes by... on these more and more infrequent and shortened visits... he seems only to want to know about me, what I've been doing,and my heath and such. He promised Bilbo that he'd look after me, I guess. I wonder if he'd even come by, if my uncle had not asked this of him." Frodo sounded very small as he said this, almost bitterly sad.

Merry stared at Frodo incredulously. "That's rubbish!" he said loudly. Pippin started and stirred, and they both remained silent until the little Took fell back to sleep. "Sorry!" Merry said, genuinely contrite. "Sorry, but I just don't believe that! If Gandalf is a wizard, as Bilbo has always said, then surely he has ways of knowing things without even having to appear and see them. Wizards talk to trees and birds and things, am I right?"

Frodo searched his memory. "I don't recall Gandalf ever talking to a tree or a bird, but I guess you might be right..."

"If Bilbo could talk to a thrush, then I am sure Gandalf can talk to birds, too. He talked to that giant Eagle in Bilbo's story!"

Frodo smiled at his cousin. "Gwaihir could speak in Man's tongue, Merry."

"Whatever. Still! Gandalf needn't step foot in the Shire to learn of your doings, I am sure. He comes to visit you because he likes you, and because Bag End is a comfortable and pleasant place to rest. I think he gets tired from all his wandering. I'll bet he enjoys coming to visit you, more than you know."

Merry wasn't sure why he felt the need to reassure Frodo, but he felt very much in earnest all that he said. "I'll bet that just knowing that he is welcome to come and sit at the garden window with a cup of tea and a chat with you is the best thing he can think of; his very favourite holiday!"

Frodo laughed, a little louder than he had ment to. Pippin rolled over and peered at them sitting together, whispering and chortling. "Wha's so funny?" Pippin knuckled his eyes. "It's the middle of the night! What are you two doing? What's wrong?"

"We were just coming to bed, Pip," Frodo said, cuffing Merry lightly on the arm. "There is nothing wrong at all, my lad. All's well." He took his blanket and settled down to one side of his youngest cousin, while Merry lay on the other. Still chuckling, they both drifted to sleep at last.