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A Brother's Heart by Dreamflower

Author: dreamflower02
Title: A Brother's Heart
Rating: G
Theme: Hearts & Flowers
Elements: brotherly love, broken heart, violet (faithfulness)
Author's Notes: This story is a sidebar to my story “Trotter”
Summary: A brother never forgets.
Word Count: 1,322

A Brother's Heart

Isembold Took sat on the fallen log by the duck pond behind the Great Smials, and tossed a handful of bread crumbs out upon the water. Half a dozen squawking waterfowl converged on the treat, but their benefactor found no amusement in their antics. Feeding the ducks was just an excuse to be here. He gave a heartfelt sigh.

“Ah, Hilfy! If I’d only gone with you, you might be here with me tomorrow, and stood as my witness.” Three years it had been since he’d seen his younger brother, three years since poor Hildifons had been thrown over by Gardenia Sackville. Three years since Isembold’s offer to accompany his brother on a visit to the North-tooks had been declined, and Hildifons had disappeared from the Shire.

It had been almost two months since the dejected Hildifons had set off on his journey when Isembold and his older brother Hildigrim had been called into their father’s study…

”Lads, I’ve some disturbing news from the Northfarthing.” Gerontius’ face was pale and troubled.

“What is it, father?” asked Hildigrim.

But Isembold’s heart dropped to his toes. He suddenly knew in his heart that something was wrong with his younger brother. After all, they’d had not a single letter since he’d left.

“Last week, I wrote to your brother in care of the North-tooks at Long Cleeve. Imagine my chagrin today to receive a letter back from Cousin Bandigar, informing me that Isembold was not there and never had been.”

"Never had been?" Isembold repeated, feeling stunned.

His father nodded, and handed the letter to his sons. Hildigrim took it, and after a quick perusal, passed it to Isembold, who barely glanced at it.

"Bandigar says they were surprised by the letter we sent, as they had not expected a visit from Hildifons, and he had never shown up there. I want the two of you to go up there. But slowly. Ask around, find out if he stopped and stayed somewhere else in between. See if you can find out what became of him. It's possible he had an accident along the way somewhere and was injured, and if he were in no state to identify himself..."

Isembold swallowed hard. Or, perhaps was dead. Hildifons would not have tried to harm himself over his heartbreak. But he was distraught, and could easily have had an accident of some sort if he were not paying close attention. What if he'd galloped in unsafe country? Or tried to jump his pony over a hedge it could not manage?

Hildigrim and Isembold rode towards Hildifons's likely first destination. There were inns in Hobbiton and Bywater. The innkeeper and the regulars at The Green Dragon in Bywater recalled him.

The innkeeper said, "Yes, we recall Mr. Hildifons. A couple of months back he was in here, bought a round for the house, and gave us the tale of the Battle of Greenfields! A right good story teller, Mr. Hildifons was." He looked hopefully at the brothers, for business had been quite brisk that night when Hildifons Took had been there.

But Hildifon's brothers were in no mood to tell tales. "Did he speak of where he was going?" Hildigrim asked the room at large.

"Aye," said one hobbit, a grizzled old gaffer. "He spoke o' his cousins, in the Northfarthing, up to Long Cleeve. I've a grandson in Needlehole, what's on the road to Long Cleeve, and I told him to be wary o' the road up that aways, seeing as how it passes through the Rushock Bog, and we've had a wet summer. He said he might cut cross country." The old fellow shook his head. "Young folks is so impatient. Best to stick to the roads. It's why they have 'em."

At the mention of the bog, the two brothers exchanged a troubled look. They stayed the night in Bywater, and the next day slowly made their way towards Needlehole, stopping briefly in Hobbiton, to see if there were any news of him along the way.

Mindful of their father's instructions to be thorough, the journey to Needlehole took longer than it should have, as they made inquiries at every cot and smial and hamlet along the way.

No one could recall a young hobbit, travelling alone along that way in the last couple of months.

At Needlehole, they found themselves staying at
The Golden Goat. The innkeeper, had not seen Hildifons either, but his son was the local Shirriff.

Young Mim Puddifoot joined them at their table, and his sister brought them a platter of ham and bread and cheese, and a pitcher of brown beer. Isembold could not help but blush when she smiled at him. Mim introduced her as his sister Violet.

She blushed as well, but said without simpering, "I'll bring you a freshly-baked brambleberry pie when you are ready for afters."

Mim grinned at her as she walked away. "My sister's a good cook, as well!" Then he turned sober as he faced the Took brothers. "We've had a very wet summer, and the bog is more dangerous than usual. Most years, I may have one occasion of livestock wandering in there and getting caught. This year we have twice had to pull sheep from the bog, and a local tween who ventured in to do some duck-hunting got lost. It was a very near thing for him, for we found him clinging to a rotting log, exhausted from holding on. Had we come an hour later, it would have been too late."

"Are you saying that our brother may have drowned in the bog?" Hildigrim asked, his voice holding all the horror that Isembold was feeling.

Mim shook his head. "All I'm saying is, if he travelled this way, but none have seen him, it's a possibility to keep in mind. But there's no way to know he even got to Rushock Bog."

After they had finished their meal, heartened somewhat by the pie, the two discussed what they should do next. Finally it was decided: Hildigrim would travel on towards Long Cleeve, while Isembold remained in Needlehole, and with Mim's help, would search the area around Rushock Bog for any possible signs that Hildifons had passed through there.

"Be careful, little brother," said Hildigrim, as he mounted his pony to leave the next morning. "Don't fall into the bog yourself while I am gone." His tone was light, but his eyes were troubled.

"I'll be careful, and will not go alone," Isembold had replied, and then watched his older brother ride on.

He had stayed at
The Golden Goat for nearly three weeks, searching in vain for any sign that Hildifons had passed that way. He spent the days following Mim about in the bog, and the evening in the inn where he came to appreciate the company of Miss Violet Puddifoot. By the time Hildigrim returned with no news, good or bad, Isembold and Violet had reached an understanding.

Now his own wedding day would dawn upon the morrow, and Isembold would sorely miss having Hildifons stand witness with him. Hildigrim, who had only recently had a rather scandalous wedding himself to the very young Rosa Baggins, would be at his side instead. No scandal for Isembold. His Violet was steady, unlike his flighty young sister-in-law; and she was faithful, unlike the fickle Gardenia. She was as pretty as her nameflower, and as shy.

Most of the time, when he thought of his younger brother, it was with guilt and the conviction that if he had been at his side on that journey that he could have prevented what he was sure had happened: that his brother lay somewhere at the bottom of Rushock Bog.

But every now and then a strangely un-hobbity thought came to him, that Hildifons was somewhere in the Outlands, out in the Wide World, alive and well. If that could be true of any of his brothers, it could be true of Hildifons.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Ohhh, how they must have worried and wondered about their lost one! If only they had your stories to read. :)
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
I know. It really brings home how different life is now-- communication is so easy and universal, it's hard to realize that only a few generations ago, there were no guarantees you'd ever hear from a traveling loved one again.
Feb. 15th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
A most enjoyable story.
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Feb. 15th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
How I can so see this, Barbara! The private worry and terror must have been almost too much to deal with! Alas that they had to go through all this. I find myself wishing your Trotter had indeed written that letter he'd considered to his father or brother!
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
Well, of course, I was trying to go with canon, and the Family Tree says they never heard from him again. I bend that just an eensy little in having Gandalf communicate privately with Gerontius.

But if I'd had my druthers, I'd have seen to it that at least one or two letters cane through in a somewhat more timely fashion!
Feb. 15th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
Oh, Dreamflower! It's so sad to read about Hildifons' brothers thinking him drowned :( But it's still a happy thing, that WE know he isn't, and that they've found love...and I remember the story of Hildigrim and Rosa! Heh! Well told tales, all :) I enjoyed this very much.


(Off topic, is there any way to get my lj-cut fixed? I can't figure out what I've done wrong)
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
Yes, at least we readers know he's alive and well. Even though his family doesn't.

(I think your problems are straightened out now!)
Feb. 15th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
Ooh, I never thought about the family Hildifons left behind when he went on his adventures. This was very poignant and i just love the idea of that "strangely un-hobbity thought"
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:43 am (UTC)
Well, I never lost sight of them. They had to have been grieved and worried. I did let Isembold have that one occasional hopeful thought-- and though he thought it un-hobbity, I don't.
Feb. 15th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
While Trotter is off having the time of his life and finding a new life, his family is in mourning for him. It's so unfair. Shame on him for not writing sooner than he finally did.

- Erulisse (one L)
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
Well, of course, we must lay the blame for that upon the original Author of hobbits, who said in the Took Family Tree that they never heard from him again. *sigh*
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
Indeed, wondering and never knowing for sure must be terribly hard-- no way to have any real closure.
Feb. 17th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
This is a very touching story, sad because of the loss of a loved one, but still with hope for the future.
Feb. 17th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I could never write a hobbit story with no hope at all. There must somewhere be at least a *little* glimmer.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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