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The Least of Rings by Dreamflower, Part 1

Since this is turning out longer than I expected I am going to post it in multi-parts; however, I hope to have the entire thing posted by the end of the day, or by tomorrow at the latest.

Author: Dreamflower
Title: The Least of Rings
Rating: G
Theme: "All Things are Possible" AU
Elements: This story-starter-- "In the Springtime, birds a-wing time, all hearts are merry and light!"
Author's Notes: This story was inspired by Tolkien's original version of The Hobbit. The relevant passage is quoted at the beginning—taken from the original 1937 edition of The Hobbit.
There will be acknowledgements and special notes at the end of the relevant parts.
Summary: Bilbo picked up a very interesting trinket on his journey with the Dwarves…and it's not what you think. (A series of 500 word vignettes)
Word Count: 6,500 total; 500 in each part

The Least of Rings

Now Gollum was in a much worse state than when Bilbo had asked him the egg-question. He hissed and spluttered and rocked himself backwards and forwards, and slapped his feet on the floor, and wriggled and squirmed; but still he did not dare to waste his last guess.

"Come on!" said Bilbo. "I am waiting!" He tried to sound bold and cheerful, but he did not feel at all sure how the game was going to end, whether Gollum guessed right or not.

"Time's up!" he said.

"String, or nothing!" shrieked Gollum, which was not quite fair-working in two guesses at once.

"Both wrong," cried Bilbo very much relieved; and he jumped at once to his feet, put his back to the nearest wall, and held out his little sword. But funnily enough he need not have been alarmed. For one thing Gollum had learned long long ago was never, never, to cheat at the riddle-game, which is a sacred one and of immense antiquity. Also there was the sword. He simply sat and whispered.

"What about the present? asked Bilbo, not that he cared very much, still he felt that he had won it, pretty fairly, and in very difficult circumstances too.

"Must we give it the thing, preciouss? Yess, we must! We must fetch it, preciouss, and give it the present we promised." So Gollum paddled back to his boat, and Bilbo thought he had heard the last of him. But he had not. The hobbit was just thinking of going back up the passage-having had quite enough of Gollum and the dark water's edge-when he heard him wailing and squeaking away in the gloom. He was on his island (of which, of course, Bilbo knew nothing), scrabbling here and there, searching and seeking in vain, and turning out his pockets.

"Where iss it? Where iss it?" Bilbo heard him squeaking. "Lost, lost, my preciouss, lost, lost! Bless us and splash us! We haven't the present we promised, and we haven't even got it for ourselves."

Bilbo turned round and waited, wondering what it could be that the creature was making such a fuss about. this proved very fortunate afterwards. For Gollum came back and made a tremendous spluttering and whispering and croaking; and in the end Bilbo gathered that Gollum had had a ring--a wonderful, beautiful ring, a ring that he had been given for a birthday present, ages and ages before in the old days when such rings were less uncommon. Sometimes he had it in his pocket; usually he kept it in a little hole in the rock on his island; sometimes he wore it--when he was very, very hungry, and tired of fish, and crept along dark passages looking for stray goblins. The he might even venture into places where the torches were lit and made his eyes blink and smart; for he would be safe. Oh yes! very nearly safe; for if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that was a faint and shaky sort of shadow.
I don't know how many times Gollum begged Bilbo's pardon. He kept on saying: "We are ssorry; we didn't mean to cheat, we meant to give it our only only pressent, if it won the competition." He even offered to catch Bilbo some nice juicy fish to eat as a consolation.
Bilbo shuddered at the thought of it. "No thank you!" he said as politely as he could.

He was thinking hard, and the idea came to him that Gollum must have dropped that ring sometime and that he must have found it, and that he had that very ring in his pocket. But he had the wits not to tell Gollum.
"Finding's keeping!" he said to himself; and being in a very tight place, I daresay, he was right. Anyway the ring belonged to him now.
"Never mind!" he said. "The ring would have been mine now, if you had found it; so you would have lost it anyway. And I will let you off on one condition."
"Yes, what iss it? What does it wish us to do, my precious?"
"Help me to get out of these places," said Bilbo.
Now Gollum had to agree to this, if he was not to cheat. He still very much wanted just to try what the stranger tasted like; but now he had to give up all idea of it. Still, there was the little sword; and the stranger was wide awake and on the look out, not unsuspecting as Gollum liked to have things which he attacked. So perhaps it was best after all.
That is how Bilbo got to know that the tunnel ended at the water and went no further on the other side where the mountain wall was dark and solid. He also learned that he ought to have turned down one of the side passages to the right before he came to the bottom; but he could not follow Gollum's directions for finding it again on the way up, and he made the wretched creature come and show him the way.
As they went along up the tunnel together, Gollump flip-flapping at his side, Bilbo going very softly, he thought he would try the ring. He slipped it on his finger.
"Where iss it? Where iss it gone to?" said Gollum at once, peering about with his long eyes.
"Here I am, following behind!" said Bilbo slipping off the ring again, and feeling very pleased to have it and to find that it really did what Gollum said.

Now on they went again, while Gollum counted the passages to left and right: "One left, one right, two right, three right, two left," and so on. He began to get very shaky and afraid as they left the water further and further behind; but at last he stopped by a low opening on their left (going up)--"six right, four left."

"Here'ss the passage," he whispered. "It musst squeeze in and sneak down. We durstn't go with it, my preciouss, no we durstn't, gollum!"

So Bilbo slipped under the arch, and said good-bye to the nasty miserable creature; and very glad he was. He did not feel comfortable until he felt quite sure it was gone, and he kept his head out in the main tunnel listening until the flip-flap of Gollum going back to his boat died away in the darkness. Then he went down the new passage.

(From the 1937 first edition of The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark", the Lost Version, found online here: Riddles in the Dark: the Lost Version.)

The Least of Rings

Part 1

6 Astron, S.R. 1349

"In the Springtime, birds a-wing time,
all hearts are merry and light!
In the Springtime, a let us sing time,
voices are cheery and bright!
In the Springtime, da-da-da-da-ding time..."

Bilbo paused, and waved his quill. "da-da-da-da-da-da right...tight...might..." He sighed. It had started out so promisingly too. But it was difficult to think up new rhymes.

Suddenly he heard rapping at the door. Bilbo was glad of the interruption.

"I'm coming!" he shouted, as the caller rapped again more sharply. He flung the door open and found himself gazing at a set of grey robes.

"Gandalf! it's so good to see you!" Bilbo spotted the other smaller figure at the wizard's side. "Balin! Come in, the both of you! It's nearly time for luncheon!"

They hung their cloaks on the pegs by the door, and entered the hall. "Ah," said Balin, "this brings back memories, this does!"

The Dwarf enveloped Bilbo in a back-slapping embrace that took him off his feet, Gandalf knelt down to give him a gentler greeting. Then they followed Bilbo to the kitchen. He had earlier put a bean soup on to simmer for hismself; he scurried about finding extra things to add to stretch the meal for three. He put some eggs on to boil, brought extra loaves of dark bread from the larder, and a cheese. There was a seedcake he had planned to save for tea, and radishes, scallions and carrots that Hamfast had brought up earlier; Bilbo quickly washed and trimmed them, and went down into the cellar for a pitcher of ale. Soon a simple repast was on the table and the three old friends tucked in.

Bilbo was glad to see his old friends, and through the meal conversation dealt with the doings in Erebor; Balin told Bilbo of what Dain had done in the rebuilding of the Lonely Mountain, and how Bard had begun the restoration of Dale. He was given many messages from the other Dwarves, his old friends. Gandalf spoke little, smiled and nodded, listening until Balin wound down.

"So, Bilbo, you look remarkably well. You do not seem to have changed at all since I left you at your doorstep eight years ago in the middle of an auction."

"I'm doing very well indeed, Gandalf, though my Baggins relatives seem to feel I have disgraced the name; I spend much time among the Brandybucks and the Tooks now!"

Gandalf took a sip of ale. "And do you still have that curious little ring?"

Bilbo grinned. "I do; it comes in handy avoiding unwanted callers. I was thinking I might amaze the children at Brandy Hall with it this Yule."

The wizard's eyebrows climbed up his forehead. "I pray you do nothing of the sort, Bilbo! You've kept it a secret this long--it won't be nearly so useful if everyone knows about it!"

"You have a point there! Very well, since you advise it!"

Balin raised his mug. "To useful little rings!"

Part 2


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
LOL - A useful little ring, indeed. I really enjoyed this little luncheon between old friends.

- Erulisse (one L)
May. 29th, 2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
It was fun to write this visit.
May. 28th, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, indeed, to useful little Rings indeed! And love that he's doing his best to write a poem with your starter sentence! Heh!
May. 29th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
LOL! I couldn't think what else to do with it--but it did seem to me like a sort of song lyric that Bilbo might come up with!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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