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Rained In by Dreamflower

Author: Dreamflower
Title: Rained In
Rating: G
Theme: Character study
Elements: Your character is confined in some place with only one other person.
Author's Notes: Is this a study of Gandalf...or of Bilbo? I leave that to the reader to decide.
Summary: During a rainstorm on the journey back from Erebor, Gandalf and Bilbo seek shelter in a cave; Bilbo ponders his companion.
Word Count: 1,453

Rained In

The two of them had checked the small cave quite thoroughly. Neither Sting nor Glamdring showed any signs of glowing, and there were no suspicious cracks in the wall, nor any inconvenient side tunnels or holes that might lead elsewhere. After they had looked it over, Gandalf had stood for a moment with a faraway look on his face, and then nodded his head. "Nothing has dwelt here for many years; I think this shall be a safe enough shelter."

Bilbo was quite glad that they'd thought to load several faggots of firewood on the packhorse before they had attempted the High Pass. The horse had been given them by the Elf-king, Thranduil, before they had parted company with the Elves, and he'd proven an amiable and useful companion. Bilbo had named him Cheesey for the yellow colour of his coat. Gandalf had been amused, but did not gainsay him. Now Cheesey stood at one side of the cave, eating the oats they had for feeding him when there was no grazing available. Outside the long narrow entrance to their shelter, the rain poured down like a waterfall.

In the center of their small haven the darkness was dispelled by the fire, where over the past day and a half they'd heated water for tea, and made soup from dried vegetables to go with the twice-baked honeycakes and the dried fruit given them by Beorn before they had left his home and lands.

Bilbo stood by the fire for a moment, using a bit of kindling to light his pipe, and then he went to sit looking out of the cave entrance. He was on watch after all.

He blew a few smoke rings, and shook his head. Back in the Shire he would have been very proud of them, but now that he'd seen what Gandalf could do, they seemed quite ordinary to him now. Bilbo glanced over at his companion, who was lying upon his side, his eyes wide open.

He'd learned a lot about Gandalf the Grey since he'd gone dashing out of his house nearly a year ago, hatless and handkerchief-less! They'd spent several nights on the road before Bilbo realised the wizard slept with his eyes open. The Company had been camped for the night, and Bilbo had gone over to where he lay and asked him a question; there was no response, as if Gandalf had not even heard him--then Balin had come over with a chuckle to tell him that the wizard was asleep. That had been quite embarrassing, to say the least. Yet the Dwarves had yet to learn that since he slept with his eyes open, that meant that he might not actually be asleep--one night Bilbo had innocently asked them how long they had known Gandalf. There followed a spate of tales, many of which had been less than flattering. Of course, by that time Bilbo had come to understand that among Dwarves telling unflattering stories of their friends had come to be an art form. Just as Bofur was describing how the wizard had looked after losing his footing and sliding into a mud-filled ditch, Gandalf spoke and said sternly: "And shall I describe how you and your companions looked afterwards, since none of us escaped that particular ditch?"

Only Thorin and Bilbo had laughed at the abashed faces of the rest of the Dwarves. Bilbo had noticed the twinkle in Gandalf's eyes long before he spoke; he assumed Thorin had done so as well.

Bilbo had known Gandalf since as long as he could recall. The wizard had been a fixture at the Old Took's Midsummer celebrations since the Old Took had been the Young Took. Yet at some point during his tweens, he'd put Gandalf out of his mind. He supposed it had been dealing with his parents' ill health since the Fell Winter. The last time he recalled seeing him had been shortly before his grandfather's death. And then he had shown up out of the blue at his doorstep last year--and Bilbo had not at once known who he was. Now that he thought about it, that seemed very peculiar.

He'd known a lot about Gandalf's appearances in the Shire, how he had shown up with much needed help in both the Long Winter nearly two hundred years ago, and more recently during the Fell Winter. Yet Bilbo (along with nearly everyone else in the Shire) had always simply thought of him as a wandering conjuror and purveyor of fireworks and teller of tales. Like most with Tookish connections he had thought of the old man as benign and harmless; but many others in the Shire looked up him as a vagabond at best, or a fraud at worst.

Now Bilbo had begun to wonder just who his companion was. Clearly he was a being of far more power than he'd ever displayed in the Shire. Bilbo recalled how he'd used his power to rescue them all from the goblins, and the fire which had driven off the wolves. The Elves all seemed to know him; Master Elrond and King Thranduil had all treated him with high honour. Yet no one knew how old he was or whence he came; there were no tales of his youth. No one wished to even discuss what a wizard was. Bilbo had even asked him directly how he became a wizard. Gandalf had muttered something about the insatiable curiosity of Tooks, and then said, "Never you mind, Bilbo Baggins! You are a hobbit, not a wizard. Wizards do not 'become'; they simply are. Now mind where you are going lest you fall off the side of this mountain!"

What did he know of Gandalf? Well, he knew that for some reason he really liked hobbits, and most especially he liked Tooks. Bilbo had sensed the wizard's affection and good will from the start, yet had never realised until he went out into the wide world how unusual that familiarity with his race was. Some of the people he'd encountered had never even heard of hobbits, and many had simply thought him some odd kind of Dwarf.

And for some reason, Gandalf had always had faith in him. He had insisted that Bilbo was the right hobbit for the job, and had never doubted him once, frequently speaking up on Bilbo's behalf to the Dwarves, who'd not cared for Bilbo much to begin with.

Bilbo recalled how he had felt when finding the Dwarves again after escaping the goblins and Gollum. His relief on learning he was not alone had been tempered by hurt when he heard what some of them had said about him. But his heart had been lifted to hear Gandalf's sharp defense of him:

"After all, he is my friend, and not a bad little chap. I feel responsible for him." and then when they had called Bilbo useless, Gandalf had been quite sharp with them: "I brought him, and I don't bring things that are of no use. Either you help me to look for him, or I go and leave you here to get out of the mess as best you can yourselves. If we can only find him again you will thank me before all is over."*

But the thing Bilbo knew best about Gandalf was that when he was with the wizard, he felt brave and clever and safe. Even when Gandalf had left them all behind at the eaves of Mirkwood, it was Bilbo's wish not to let Gandalf down that had kept him going through spiders and dungeons and barrels and the Dragon. He remembered again his delighted astonishment after he had brought the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elf-king, to see Gandalf once more, and the pride he'd felt in that "Well done! Mr.Baggins!"

Now he'd travelled alone with the wizard for many a long mile towards home, and he knew with certainty that Gandalf was his friend, perhaps even his best friend...wait! Something was different...

Oh! The water still poured down the mountain in front of the cave opening, but Bilbo could tell that this was run-off, not rain. It was slowing to mere drips. The sky shone a clear blue beyond.

"Gandalf!" he called cheerfully, "the rain seems to be stopped!"

Gandalf sat up, drawing his knees up to his chin and peering out. "So I see, Bilbo Baggins! Perhaps in a few hours the trail will be dry enough to resume our homeward journey."

Bilbo went over to the fire. "How about a cup of tea and a few smoke-rings while we wait?"

*Quoted from The Hobbit, Chapter VI, "Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire".


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this very much.
May. 22nd, 2014 12:27 am (UTC)
Thank you, Linda!
May. 22nd, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
I very much enjoyed reading about Bilbo pondering his companion, especially since their journey together back to the Shire hasn't been explored very much. Very nicely done.

no one knew how old he was or whence he came; there were no tales of his youth. No one wished to even discuss what a wizard was. Bilbo had even asked him directly how he became a wizard.

Who but a hobbit would ask such a thing? That's why I love them so much, and perhaps one of the reasons Gandalf does, too.

May. 22nd, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
With just the two of them on that journey home, I imagine that Bilbo's thoughts about his companion were just brimful and running over!

Who but a hobbit would ask such a thing? That's why I love them so much, and perhaps one of the reasons Gandalf does, too.

And what hobbits but Tooks (or part-Tooks)? Actually, I think you are quite right.
May. 22nd, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
i got to the part where the dwarfes were arguing about bilbo's usefulness and wondered: many years later
do they discuss that he had already completed the most urgent of tasks in this journey?

the old puzzle in an enegma(?) wrapped in [why am i suddenly not sure of this quote?]... problem 1. conquer dragon. problem 2. build alliance hobbit to dwarf. problem 3. recover ring.

Edited at 2014-05-22 09:54 pm (UTC)
May. 23rd, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
I don't know about that part, but I'll bet they spent many years regretting the way they treated him at first!
May. 23rd, 2014 08:07 am (UTC)
A very nice little scene. I particularly liked this line of Gandalf's: "Never you mind, Bilbo Baggins! You are a hobbit, not a wizard. Wizards do not 'become'; they simply are. Now mind where you are going lest you fall off the side of this mountain!" It sounds so thoroughly Gandalf. Considering just how many fantasy novels are all about young heroes becoming wizards, it was a very sensible question of Bilbo's!
May. 23rd, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC)
Well, of course none of those are set in Arda! LOL!

You can tell sometimes when a fanfic is by someone who has not read the books thoroughly when they try to cast their OC as "Gandalf's apprentice"! Or then there was one which told the story of "Gandalf and Saruman growing up together at wizard school"!
May. 23rd, 2014 10:36 pm (UTC)
Apparently, only those of us who have read Tolkien know that Gandalf is really a Maia--a lower-ranked angel. And so, he comes to Middle-earth with angelic powers!

May. 23rd, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
I really liked seeing what Bilbo thought about Gandalf and how Gandalf thought about him.
May. 23rd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
It was fun to explore their friendship!
May. 26th, 2014 11:12 am (UTC)
Yes, Bilbo would have a lot of things to think through, on that homeward journey. And I think perhaps you can see that he did, considering how thoroughly he trusts Gandalf at the beginning of LotR, despite the insidious influence of the Ring.
A good gap-filler!
May. 29th, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC)
I think that journey probably cemented their friendship. I'm sure there were a lot of moments during that time in which they learned to know one another better.

There's a lovely fic I read on AO3 that explores friendship and the influence of the Ring; it's a wonderful conversation between Elrond and Bilbo, about Bilbo's trust in Gandalf:

A Light in Shadows by icarus_chained
May. 29th, 2014 06:10 am (UTC)
Again, a delightful study of two of our favorite people as Bilbo ponders his memories of his friend the wizard. I am glad that Gandalf examined the cave before they trusted themselves to its shelter, by the way. Heh!
May. 29th, 2014 12:38 pm (UTC)
Well, after what happened with the goblins, neither of them is likely to trust any kind of cave without checking it out thoroughly!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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