The Bedtime Story

by Orangeblossom Took

A youthful-looking Hobbit woke with a start, intelligent eyes snapping open. It was such a soft sound that disturbed his slumber and it was surprising that he even heard it from rooms away. He did seem to have a deep connection with his young kinsman already and the grief in those gentle sobs could, perhaps, carry further than less emotional sounds.

He was concerned about the lad, who had lost his parents so tragically, and then gotten lost among all those wild Brandybucks. He wondered if he ought to go see to his young cousin or if that would just be seen as an intrusion. Well, he couldn’t just lay there and not do something to help. He would just be mindful of Frodo’s dignity, for the fry was rather decorous for one of his years.

He lit a candle and walked first to the kitchen, where he gathered some oatmeal cookies and milk. When he reached Frodo’s door, he knocked and said, “Lad, I couldn’t sleep and I noticed you were awake. Maybe a snack and a story would help us both to get back to sleep?”

There was a moment of silence while the youngster steadied himself, then he replied, “You do tell wonderful stories, Bilbo. I hope I didn’t wake you. I had a nightmare.”

“No, not at all, lad,” he lied smoothly, “when you are as old as I am, you don’t sleep as deeply.” In a quiet, solemn voice he asked, “Was it about your parents?”

The fry just nodded and hugged his pillow close to his chest. He did not want to take about the deaths of his parents tonight and Bilbo wasn’t about to harass the boy about it. No stories involving water then, he thought. He knew just the thing.

“Frodo-lad,” he asked, “did I ever tell you about the time Radgast the Brown came to the aid of a boy who had been turned into a raven?”

Bilbo embellished the story when vivid descriptions of the raven-boy flying in a blue sky with his strong wings outstretched and a good west wind blowing off the sea and lifting him up to the sun.

Now, Frodo was normally a very attentive lad and duly appreciative of the fact that Bilbo knew all kinds of stories that no one else in the Shire knew; stories of people and places completely removed from the sleepy, green land of the Hobbit but he drifted off to sleep and dreamed of soaring through the clouds on glistening black wings.

Bilbo smiled and tucked the blankets around Frodo’s chin before making his way back to his own bed. He liked having the lad around and thought he had made a good choice of heir. Confound the Sacksville-Bagginses, anyway. He nestled into his featherbed and signed with contentment to think that, after his time ended, there would still be a Baggins under the Hill and a very worthy one at that.