Fireworks at Harvest

by Orangeblossom Took

Hobbiton, 2891

A tall figure in a grey cloak drove his cart up to the large smial with the green door. He was not as unfamiliar a sight in Hobbiton as he would become in later years and many remembered seeing him at the Old Took’s funeral.

He walked up to the round door and rapped on it smartly with his staff, then awaited a reply. The wizard heard steady footsteps approaching and a female voice call out, “I’m coming.” The door was opened and a Hobbit matron whose hair was unusually straight and black appeared before him.

A wide grin appeared on her face and her dark eyes sparkled with happiness. She exclaimed, “Gandalf! My dear Gandalf! It has been far too long.”

He took her hand and, in an apologetic voice, said, “Belladonna, my girl, It is very good to see you. It has been too long.”

“Well,” she said, “let’s go inside. You haven’t seen Bag End yet!”

Before Gandalf could enter the smial a small, speeding object nearly knocked him down the stairs. The wizard expertly caught the small hobbit lad by his collar and returned him, protesting to his mother.

“Now, Bilbo,” she scolded gently, “you almost caused an accident and it is time for your nap.”

“No nap,” wailed the child, “Walk!”

“I will take you for a walk later, little lad,” said Belladonna, “and Master Gandalf will join us.”

“No,” cried Bilbo in a wail that was less sure of itself but he began to settle down in his mother’s arms.

Gandalf twitched his mustache, arched an impressive eyebrow, and said, “He must keep you quite busy, Bella. He seems small to be walking quite so well. He is a fine lad and has your eyes.”

Belladonna smiled and said, “Yes. His first birthday was last week. My little harvest baby. Will you stay for the harvest festival Gandalf and provide fireworks? Bungo has gone to supervise getting the tents up.”

“I will stay for the festival, Belladonna,” he said, “and I have most certainly brought my fireworks.”

Gandalf and Belladonna shared a pot of tea and talked for a long time. Belladonna quizzed him in her Tookish way about news of the Wide World and listened eagerly to every word. They reminisced about adventures they shared and Gandalf could see that she was sad. Despite the fabulous smial, the handsome son now curled up asleep with his thumb in his mouth, and an adoring husband, there was something bothering her.

“Bella,” he asked, “why aren’t you happy?”

It was as if a dam had burst. “Oh, Gandalf,” she said, “what happened to my brothers, especially Hildifons, will never really leave me and I miss the Elves. I know I will probably never see them again.”

Gandalf held her while she cried. When her tears stopped coming he said, “Why don’t we take that walk, Bella. I made a special firework just for you and I think it may cheer you. A small firework won’t scare the lad, will it?”

“Not Bilbo,” she said ruefully, “he is as noisy as ten fireworks, anyway.”

Belladonna left a note for Bungo, scooped up Bilbo and they walked out into a glorious autumn evening with the moon, huge and golden, rising in the sky. When they reached a hill overlooking a field of goldenrod, Gandalf set off the firework. It burst into the crisp air, took the form of a rose in white sparkles, then dissolved into a silver shower.

It was a few moments before Belladonna could speak. When she found her voice she gasped, “Oh, Gandalf! That is so beautiful.”

The sat and gazed at the rising moon while Bilbo played in the grass. Belladonna was wondering if she would see the Wizard again when she heard Bilbo give a delighted squeal and saw that her son had decided it would be amusing to jump on Gandalf. She laughed at the wizard’s pained expression, collected the child, and the three of them walked back to Bag End in the moonlight.