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Author: Dreamflower
Title: “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” (with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)
Theme: September: “Young/Old” Challenge
Elements: curious, gentle, abundant
Author's Notes: There is a reference in here to my story “The Knight Has Been Unruly”, which was part of Lindelea’s group story “To Tell a Tale”.
Summary: Young Bilbo has a conversation with his grandfather Gerontius and with Gandalf.
Word Count: 1,375

A Midsummer’s Night Dream

“Yes, it is all very dim, and stuffy, in here,” said Pippin. “It reminds me, somehow of the old room in the Great Place of the Tooks away back in the Smials at Tuckborough: a huge place, where the furniture has never been moved or changed for generations. The say the Old Took lived in it year after year, while he and the room got older and shabbier together--and it has never been changed since he died, a century ago. And Old Gerontius was my great-great-grandfather, so that puts it back a bit.” (TT, Book III, Chapter IV, "Treebeard")

“Come in, Bilbo-lad, come in. I can’t see you properly from all the way over there.”

Bilbo entered, shutting the door behind him carefully, and padded across the polished oak floor of the study. His grandfather lay upon a settee where he was bundled up in a knitted coverlet. Though it was mid-summer, a fire blazed in the hearth, and the room felt stifling.

“Hullo, Grandfather,” he said politely. He hoped his nervousness did not show. It had been a while since he had seen his Grandfather, and Gerontius looked older than ever. It was frightening to see how frail he looked.

But the green eyes twinkled back at him, as sharp and curious as ever. “It’s good to see you again, my lad.” He coughed, and then pulled himself up to almost a sitting position. “Have a seat, Bilbo.”

Bilbo looked behind him. The armchair was too far away for comfortable conversation. He pulled the footstool close, instead, and sat down near his grandfather’s side. Gerontius put out a withered hand, and Bilbo took it between his own. The skin felt thin and dry. “I have missed you, Grandfather.”

Gerontius smiled. “I know that it is not your fault you have not seen me these last few years.”

Bilbo bit his lip. When Grandmother Adamanta had passed on, the year after the Fell Winter, the Old Took had moved out of the rooms they had shared for so many happy years, and into his study. He never came out of there anymore now. He took his meals there, and slept there as well. And when Bilbo’s cousin Fortinbras had wed Lalia Clayhanger (to the disapproval of both his parents and his aunts and uncles) his own parents rarely visited the Great Smials any longer.

Only the news that Gandalf was coming back to the Shire for the Tookland Litheday celebrations, with his famous fireworks, had brought his mother to reconsider their attendance. She was very fond of the old wizard, and thought that the chance of seeing him once more was worth the annoyance of seeing Lalia.

“I wish I could see you more often,” said Bilbo.

His grandfather laid a gentle hand against his cheek briefly. “I know that you do. Tell me how you are getting on in Hobbiton, amidst all of those stuffy Bagginses, lad?” But he said it with a twinkle in his green eyes, and Bilbo did not take offence.

“I get on well enough. But none of them are so much fun as Chop and Siggy,” he replied cheekily, referring to his Took cousins Adalgrim and Sigismund.

“Yes, well, I daresay none of them get you into as much trouble, either,” he chuckled.

Bilbo blushed, but he laughed as well. “I am too old for such things now, Grandfather,” he said.

“Of course you are, a great tween like yourself! Why you are nearly of age!”

“I’ll be twenty-nine on my birthday.”

Just then, there was a sharp rap at the study door.

“Would you go see who it is, Bilbo-lad?”

Bilbo got up and went across the room, and just before he opened the door there was another rap. Bilbo’s eyes grew wide. “Gandalf!” he exclaimed. “Grandfather, it’s Gandalf!”

“Well, don’t just stand there, let him in!!”

Bilbo stood back nervously. He had not come face to face with the wizard in nine years--since he and his cousins had been caught filching some of the old wizard’s fireworks. He cleared his throat and stood back.

“H-Hello, Gandalf,” he stammered. “Grandfather says to come in.”

His tall figure bent nearly double to enter the door, but once inside he could stand easily, for the ceilings at the Great Smials were much higher than normal hobbit-ceilings. He walked over to the settee, and greeted Gerontius.

“My old friend,” he exclaimed heartily, “it’s so good to see you once more!” He bent down and took the Old Took’s hands between his own. “I have missed you!”

“And I you,” was the answer.

Bilbo stood there placing his weight first on one foot and then on the other, biting his lip. Should he stay, or should he go?

His grandfather answered his unspoken question. “Run along, Bilbo-lad! I will see you later. You and your parents are to take supper with me before the bonfire and the fireworks tonight.”

Gandalf looked at him beneath lowered brows, though the sternness was belied by the twinkle in his eye. “I believe that you will find I have abundant fireworks for tonight! There will be no need for you to steal them!”

Bilbo blushed furiously, and giving a quick bow of farewell, he backed out of the room and closed the door.


Gandalf chuckled. “He is a very remarkable young hobbit.”

Gerontius smiled. “I think, in spite of his Baggins heritage, that he is one of the most Tookish of my grandchildren! His adventurous nature was somewhat subdued by the Fell Winter, however. He is far more cautious than he used to be. But I think that the Tookishness is just below the surface, ready to burst forth if the right occasion comes along.”

Gandalf nodded. “I think that you are quite right, my friend. So, can I coax you out of your cosy den tonight with the promise of bright explosions?”

“I think perhaps you may, Gandalf! I would quite like to see your fireworks once more.” Unspoken were his last words, “before I die”.

Gandalf nodded. He knew what his friend did not say.


That night, tucked up snugly beneath a rug, in a large wheeled chair, Gerontius was the center of his family. Bilbo could not get very close to him, for all his aunts and uncles were nearby, rejoicing in the fact that their father had seen fit to come out of his room on a beautiful summer’s night.

Gandalf’s fireworks had been brilliant, like a fiery flower garden, Bilbo thought. The wizard had been generous as well with squibs and crackers and sparklers--abundant fireworks, as he had said. Now the family and villagers from nearby Tuckborough listened to fiddle and harp and drum, and some of the couples were still dancing, but it was clear that the night was winding down.

Bilbo gave a great sigh--he did not know if it was a sigh of satisfaction for a wonderful evening, or of sorrow that the evening was soon to end.

“Well, Bilbo Baggins,” rumbled the deep voice of the wizard from behind him, “did you enjoy the fireworks even though they were not stolen?”

Bilbo looked up at him. “Yes, sir! They were the most splendid thing I’ve ever seen! Like lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire, like a whole garden of fire! I will never forget it--or you!”

Gandalf laid a hand on his head gently, and bent down to look into his eyes. “Never is a long time, young hobbit. I think that you will forget for a time--but when the time is right, you will indeed remember!”

What a very peculiar thing to say! thought Biilbo. But then his attention was caught by his cousin Siggy, pulling him to come and join the Tangle Dance, in which all hobbits young and old, joined in.


The Lithedays of 1319 was the last time Bilbo saw his Grandfather Gerontius to speak to. When his family returned at Yule, the Old Took was too ill for conversation, and he passed from life only a few weeks later, in the early Solmath of 1320.

It was many years, however, before Bilbo saw Gandalf again. Over the years, that magical evening gradually came to seem like a long-ago and faded dream, and when he did remember, he found it most peculiar that he could have nearly forgotten so remarkable a personage.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
and from such gloriously painted memories are history made, thanks for weilding your palette so carefully.
Sep. 16th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear! What a lovely comment!
Sep. 15th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! This brings new life to Bilbo's greeting to Gandalf at the beginning of The Hobbit. I like the idea of Gandalf feeling that Bilbo is remarkable at such an early age, as he will later come to feel the same about Frodo.
Sep. 16th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
I like to think that Gandalf had a little bit of foresight there, about Gerontius' Baggins grandson!

I'm glad you liked it!
Sep. 16th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Mmm... I liked it very much. You've brought to life an interesting persona that only gets a brief mention in canon, and I really like thinking about how far back Gandalf's "love for the halflings" goes. Nice!
Sep. 16th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
I've always thought that Gandalf and Gerontius must have had a wonderful friendship--after all, he's the only person I know of who ever received a magical gift from the Wizard (those mysterious shirt-studs).
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 16th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
I could see Gandalf, examining Bilbo, and seeing that special Tookish spark in him, and having a bit of foreknowledge about him.
Sep. 17th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
A delightful story.
Sep. 17th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I loved this! Interesting to read about a young Bilbo, and I don't think I've ever read much about Gerontius. Loved your perceptions on both characters!
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thats a great little story. Very much enjoyed Bilbo in it. So and Pips grandfather was a trouble maker too, huh? And Bilbo with him? *g* Interessting!

Sep. 20th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
As you commented, perhaps Gandalf himself (or some other power) interfered with his memory sufficiently that when a grey-robed stranger approached as he sat smoking his pipe he didn't recognize him.

Two older beings Bilbo must deal with! Love how you handled the challenge.
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
oooh, what a lovely vision of Bilbo and Gerontius and Gandalf! And the beginnings of a coming adventure for Bilbo....:))
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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