Title: Allusion Illusion
Theme: POV Challenge
Elements: colour – yellow ; number – three ; shape – sphere
Author’s Notes: In the chapter ‘Three is Company’ from The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and his companions encounter Gildor and his company. When questioned how by Frodo how they know his name, the Elves say to him, ‘We have seen you often before with Bilbo, though you may not have seen us.’ I adapted this from that. Bunniverse compatible. And also? Writing Hobbits is harder than writing Elves. In addition, thanks to nancylea57 for the impromptu lesson on hobbit genealogy ^_^
Archived: Phoenix http://phoenix.zhie.us
Summary: Bilbo and young Frodo take a walk.
Word Count: 2288
“Where we going, Uncle Bilbo?”
“We are taking a nice walk to... Frodo-lad, I am not your uncle, I am your cousin.” This was not the first time the conversation had come up, and Bilbo was beginning to wonder if the child was partially deaf, or only selectively so. “We are taking a nice walk to the Woody End, to meet some friends of mine.”
Frodo nodded – to what, Bilbo was not entirely sure – and then his young charge began to swing his arms back and forth. The fabric of the poncho he wore flopped forward on the right and back on the left, and then the opposite as his arms were propelled in the other direction. It made the fringe and the tassels swing and bounce as well, and Frodo continued with this task as they walked, something that kept the lad busy and from asking Bilbo any questions. Bilbo liked his nephew – no, cousin, he reminded himself – well enough, for he was an intelligent boy from the start, but the subject of children was not one that Bilbo was well versed in, except for those whom belonged to other people and could be delivered back home after a story and a few sweet cakes.
Back and forth Frodo swung his arms, now punching the fabric to make it flip up more impressively as they trudged through the leaves of last Autumn, visible now in Spring after the final thaw. Bilbo considered saying something to Frodo about being careful with the new garment, but he kept his mouth shut for fear of sounding like a nag.
Then again, it would be a shame for it to be ruined, for it was well-made by Mrs. Proudfoot... or was it the one Mrs. Boffins had brought over when she had delivered the jam? Bilbo could scarcely recall the accounting of where things came from these days, only that everyone in the Shire flocked to Bag-End to offer their condolences and a ‘wee bit of something’ for the poor dear.
“If you are my cousin,” spoke Frodo, unexpectedly drawing Bilbo from his private thoughts, “then why are you so old?”
“W-well, how old do you think I should be?” Bilbo countered.
Frodo shrugged. “How old are you?”
“That is not something for polite conversation, my dear boy.” There was a pause and Bilbo asked, “Do I really look so old to you?”
“No, but everyone says that you are,” replied Frodo, and they stopped for a moment, though Frodo’s arms kept swinging for the poncho continued to jump and jostle as he stood looking up at his guardian.
Bilbo’s expression was much like that of a duck with ruffled feathers. “Oh, everyone says such things?”
“Everyone,” repeated Frodo. “Everyone I meet says to me ‘Oh, musn’t you be young Frodo, dear old Mr. Bagginses nephew?’ so I says to them ‘No, sir, I am dear old Mr. Bagginses cousin’, but they tell me I must be your nephew, great-great-nephew I think they say.”
‘Ah-ha! So he IS listening to me!’ thought Bilbo.
“Since Father and Mumma told me never to argue with my elderfolk, I just nod. Then I got to think, maybe since so many of them think so, they could be right and you might be wrong.”
“Now see here,” said Bilbo quite sternly. “I happen to be a very adept genealogist, and there is no doubt what-so-ever that you, my dear boy, are my cousin, second cousin once removed to be sure... or was it first twice removed...?” he trailed off. With a shake of his head he dismissed it and placed his hands on Frodo’s shoulders to still his arms. “Be mindful, Frodo, or you will wear this new cloak out by sundown. How terrible to walk back to town and have Mrs. Proudfoot see her work in threads.”
“I thought Miss Bolger made this,” answered Frodo as he shoved his hands into his pockets.
“So she did,” answered Bilbo as he noticed the badgers that were stitched along the hemming, a favorite theme of the Bolger family. “Now we have delayed long enough. Time to come along.”
The pair started off again, with Bilbo taking quicker steps and Frodo half-scampering to keep up. “Are we going on an adventure?”
“Every day is an adventure, my lad.”
“Mrs. Sackville-Baggins says terrible things about adventures.”
“Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a terrible thing herself,” Bilbo informed Frodo. “And sometimes, an adventure as well.”
“Huh.” Frodo paused for a moment. “I heard her say something nearly like that about you, Uncle Bilbo.”
“Frodo, for the last time, I am not—“
“I know, I know. Sorry, Cousin Bilbo.”
Bilbo wrinkled his nose. Cousin Bilbo – that did sound dreadful. And dreadful to make the lad call him that, especially when Uncle Bilbo had such a nice ring to it. Then again, one did not go around deciding what sort of family connections they wanted to have to whom. If that were the case, Bilbo reminded himself, he would stay as far disconnected from Otho and Lobelia as possible...
“Even without knowing your age, I know you are much older than my other cousins are. Cousin Daisy is a little older than me, and Cousin Seredic is a little more older than me, and Cousin Merimac is a lot older than me, and his brother Saradoc is a lot, lot older than me, but you have to be a lot, lot, lot, lot, lot, lot, lot older than me.”
With a little huff, Bilbo said, “I am probably even a lot, lot, lot older than your real uncles are.”
“Probably,” answered Frodo in agreement. “You move much faster than most of them, though.”
Bilbo decided to take the compliments where he could get them and smiled. “Thank you, my lad. A brisk walk every day keeps the body young and the mind open and active.”
“A brisk walk in the Springtime is a time to be shared among friends,” announced a new voice in the conversation. As Bilbo stopped and looked up with a smile, Frodo tilted his head back in awe. “Hail, Bilbo!” greeted the tall Elf, pale tresses straying from beneath his hood to frame his kindly, youthful face. “It is a pleasure to cross your path, or for you to cross ours as the case may be.”
“Perhaps a little of both,” admitted Bilbo, “though I should hope our paths not only cross, but instead converge a little while today.”
“That is your cleverest way yet of inviting yourself to tea,” remarked the Elf. He regarded Frodo with a warm smile and said to Bilbo, “I am hardly at liberty to assume there is a Mrs. Baggins, but must inquire as to your young companion.”
“I am still living in a state of happy bachelorhood, yet with space to spare in Bag-End – I did fit a whole army of Dwarves in there once, you know,” he reminded the Elf, in case the story had not been made clear the first time around.
The Elf nodded, and addressed the younger hobbit instead, “Greetings to you, friend of Bilbo, whose name I have yet to learn.”
“I am Frodo, son of Drogo,” explained the lad as he began to collect his thoughts. “You are an Elf!” he suddenly exclaimed in spite of himself.
The fair one laughed merrily and nodded. “As are my companions,” he said, and as Frodo turned his head others like the one who spoke to him, tall and graceful, appeared before him. “How came you to join Bilbo at Bag-End?”
There was sadness in Frodo’s eyes now, and the Elf looked to Bilbo with concern. Bilbo cleared his throat and said, “Frodo is my c--, err, my nephew. That is, I am his uncle and he has come to live at Bag-End because he is my family, or that is to say, all I really care to have left of my relations at most times.”
Frodo looked shocked, but the Elf seemed to assume it to be the residual effect of their appearance. “We are about to have our lunch. I invite you both to join us and share what meager provisions we have.”
“Even the most meager of Elven fare far exceeds the spread on the tables of princes,” said Bilbo, and speaking on behalf of himself and Frodo, added, “We would be delighted to join you!”
They were led to a sheltered glade among the oak and ash. Here they found food aplenty, plates filled with small, steaming morsels no more than two or three bites each (and perhaps only one for a hobbit). Bowls of fruit, early apples and some berries, were passed around while some of the Elves busily poured drink into the empty cups of their companions.
Frodo was given leave to explore the Elven encampment while Bilbo made himself comfortable with the Elf who had greeted them. Food was brought, as was mead, and Bilbo quietly recounted the boating tragedy that led to Frodo’s arrival at Bag-End.
“How terrible for him to lose both parents at once,” said Gildor. He and Bilbo were seated on stumps that had been carved into comfortable seats and benches years ago. “I do regret my choice of words now upon our meeting.”
“For one of his age, he has taken it all quite well,” credited Bilbo. “I only wish his courage might have been tested in some other way. I hope I have made the right decision in welcoming him into Bag-End.”
“Lord Elrond and King Thranduil both speak highly of your decision-making skills, Bilbo. You likely have an instinct that helps to guide you in making your choices.” Gildor motioned for Bilbo to look forward, and he did. Not far away, Frodo watched another Elf with great curiosity. The Elf had on his shoulder a small furry creature with a long tail that curled at the end. The creature ate pieces of fruit given to him, holding them with both hands like a small child might. Beckoned closer, Frodo was handed a bowl of fruit and the Elf instructed him on how to feed the pet.
“Do you think he might like one of those?” asked Gildor.
“Gracious, no! Whatever it is, it looks twice the handful that a hobbit-lad would be,” insisted Bilbo. “Thank you, but no. There are no further vacancies in Bag-End at this time.”
Gildor smiled and asked, “Might I give him a gift in parting that would cause a little less stir in your household?”
“It would be impolite to refuse a gift from anyone, especially an Elf such as yourself,” replied Bilbo, fully aware of having just done so moments before, but he had been quite adamant about keeping anything that creeped, crawled, burrowed, or barked out of the house.
Once Frodo finished feeding the other Elf’s pet, Gildor called for him. The young hobbit came over immediately and watched as Gildor picked up a sack from the ground. From it, he pulled out three yellow onions. “Do you know how to juggle, Frodo?” The boy shook his head. “It is quite easy to do. This first one gets tossed up here,” explained Gildor, and he flicked his wrist. One onion shot up into the air, arced, and landed in his other hand. “Then this one goes up this way,” said Gildor, doing the opposite. “It looks like magic, but the ‘trick’ is to do it fast enough to make it look difficult.”
“Oh.” Frodo looked bored, but Bilbo hardly noticed. The older hobbit was focused on Gildor’s lesson.
“So what you do is speed things up, and toss the second one before you catch the first, and the third before you catch the second and so on, like this.” Gildor demonstrated, slowly at first, but he sped up until he was juggling all three with seemingly little effort. “Before you know it, you look like an expert.” Gildor caught the onions and did not toss them up, but instead held them out to Frodo. “Would you like to try?”
Frodo shook his head. “I hate onions,” he remarked.
Gildor nodded in agreement. “That is why sometimes, instead of onions, I like to use something else.” He took the onions, one at a time, and threw them high into the air as hard as he could, each with a few moments in between. After the third went up, the first began to come down. Gildor caught it, but instead of an onion he held a small, smooth sphere. It was yellow and had a slight glow to it. Two more fell from the sky, one after the other, and Gildor caught each of them.
A yawn escaped Frodo, who then asked, “Can I go play with the monkey again?”
Bilbo, who had been enthralled by Gildor’s performance, blinked and gave a consenting nod.
After Frodo had gone, Gildor elegantly shrugged. “Most children love that,” he said. He reached for the sack to put the little spheres away, but Bilbo stopped him.
“Might I see one of those?” he asked, quite interested in the trick.
Gildor smiled. “Of course.” He took one of the spheres and wrapped his fingers around it. Bilbo extended his hands, and Gildor dropped the concealed item down into Bilbo’s palm.
Bilbo looked down at the onion. “What happened to the glowing ball?”
“These?” Gildor held up the other two, one in each hand. He covered them both with his fingers, extended his hands out and dropped them into Bilbo’s open palms. As with the first, they were now only onions.
“Fascinating! How do you do it?” wondered Bilbo.
Gildor merely smiled. “We all have our secrets, Mr. Baggins,” he said with a wink.