Recipient's name: Larner
Title: A Great Smials Yuletide
Rating: Probably PG, I would think, or perhaps light PG-13 depending on one's sensibilities - there's mention of a minor canon character's offscreen death, but nothing too disturbing, and a kiss is shared between two tweenaged
Request: Gandalf finds himself spending Yule in the Great Smials as Gerontius's guest, and is ambushed by a number of the Old Took's grandchildren demanding stories and other entertainment.
Author's notes: (optional) The Old Took’s grandchildren on the Took side that were born before his death in SR 1320/TA 2920 are: Fortinbras (later Thain Fortinbras II), Adalgrim Took, Flambard Took, Sigismond Took, and probably Isembold’s children. I’ve given him nine: Sapphira, Hugo, Ruby, Calla, Tip, Tulip, Diamond, Aster, and Isengard. (It’s a perfectly likely Took name; he’d have no knowledge of its other use, after all!) Isengar Took may have had children but they’re not listed.
His non-Took grandchildren include: Bilbo Baggins (of course!), Jago and Jessamine Boffin, and Rorimac, Amaranth, Saradas, Dodinas, Asphodel, Dinodas and Primula Brandybuck. Primula was born the same year Gerontius died, so if she was born before then (and in my-verse she was; see November’s “News from Great Smials”) she can’t have been even a year old at the time. I’ve chosen to set this during the run-up to Yule of 1310, the year before the Fell Winter. Gorbadoc Brandybuck has just become Master of Buckland, and he’s sent the children to their Took grandparents, Mirabella (pregnant with Dodinas) accompanying them. (Isembold's wife is pregnant with Isengard, but she doesn't come into this - I think she took to her bed once they reached the Smials, while Mirabella did not.)
Beta: Dreamflower, Sparx, Lady Edlyn and Rhyselle have taken looks at it in various stages. Thank you for the help, my friends!
Summary: Gandalf finds himself spending Yule in the Great Smials as Gerontius's guest, and is ambushed by a number of the Old Took's grandchildren demanding stories and other entertainment. (An alphabetical set of drabbles with prompts mostly of my own making, though I stopped short because the story looked finished)
Disclaimer: The Old Took, his children, and his grandchildren (except Isembold's brood) are not mine. (Even the Professor said Isembold had "many descendants"). Gandalf is not mine either, or any other characters you recognise as the Professor's. I just play in the corner of his sandbox allotted to me.
Hobbit Ages: Sapphira is 35, Hugo is 33, Fortinbras is 32, Adalgrim and Ruby are 30, Calla is 27, Tip and Tulip are 25, Flambard is 23, Diamond, Sigismond and Bilbo are 20, Jago is 16, Aster is 15, Jessamine is 13, Rorimac is 8, Amaranth is 6, Saradas is 2, Isengard and Dodinas will be born shortly, perhaps on First Yule itself.
That would be about 23, 21, 20 1/2, 19, 17, 16, 14 1/2, 13, 10, 9, 5, 3 1/2-4, and 13-14 months in Man-years, for physical ages only. Ithink (thank you, Dreamflower :) ) that they would be at least a bit more mentally, socially and culturally in line with their numerical ages at least most of the time. The presence of Gandalf tends to reduce even the most mature hobbit to a more childlike state...I mean, we're dealing with a Big Person! *Grin*
A is for Adalgrim
When Gandalf arrived, it was Hildigrim’s son who was first to find the Wizard. And why not? the Grey Wizard thought to himself, taking the tween’s measure. He was tall for a Hobbit, strong and sturdy; his gaggle of cousins gathered round him like a mother hen with her chicks.
Adalgrim was the eldest there; Isembold’s eldest son and daughter were looking after their mother, while Fortinbras was closeted away with his father and the Thain. So it was Adalgrim, son of Hildigrim and Rosa Took, who bowed in welcome to Gandalf the Grey. “At your service and your family’s!”
B is for Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo sighed as Chop got the formalities out of the way. Adalgrim would always be ‘Chop’ to him, almost grown up or not. Ordinarily, Bilbo would have supposed himself quite grown up as well, but he had only been a tween for a few months. He didn’t feel much more than a child in Gandalf’s presence!
Gandalf requested a place where he could rest, and Bilbo followed Chop to the Lady’s parlour. Grandmother Adamanta would surely not mind. It was nearer than the Thain’s study, Bilbo thought. No doubt that was why Chop had chosen it – enough room for all!
C is for Carrot the Cat
They had only just gotten settled when a sleek ginger tabby kitten wandered into the parlour, jumping onto Calla’s lap. Calla cried out in surprise. “Carrot! What’re you doing here?” she demanded. Carrot dropped a beetle onto Calla’s dress, meowing proudly. He had found prey! Admire me! I am a mighty hunter! he seemed to say.
Most lasses would have squealed or shrieked, Bilbo thought, as he watched his cousin. Not Calla Took. She carefully took the beetle and wrapped it in her handkerchief. “I will save it for later, Carrot. Thank you,” she told the kitten. Carrot purred proudly.
D is for Diamond and Diversions
When the excitement of Carrot’s arrival had died down, the little ones looked up at Gandalf. “Gandalf, will there be fireworks tonight?” Diamond asked. Isembold’s second-youngest daughter, she was only a few months older than Bilbo, and remembered Gandalf’s fireworks well. “Will you tell us a story?” she added hopefully.
“Just one story?” Gandalf asked, his eyes twinkling. “There will be fireworks; not until tonight – and that means staying away from them,” he added, eyeing Chop in particular, whose face flamed.
“I promise!” Adalgrim said hastily. “Please, sir…” A story would keep the little ones quiet, and Gandalf’s attention diverted!
E is for Eggs and Excitement
“A story, then,” Gandalf said thoughtfully, puffing on his pipe. “A Yuletide tale, no doubt, as First Yule is on the morrow?” His question was met by a clamour of excited voices, which the Wizard quelled.
“A story about food?” Jessamine Boffin, only thirteen, piped. “Tookland Eggs!” her older brother Jago suggested.
“Ah! I happen to know exactly how Tookland Eggs became a Yuletide mainstay…” Gandalf said. The children sat back. “Thain Gerontius’ first Yule was lean, and there was no cake – Yule cakes were what Isengrim wanted for breakfast. Lady Adamanta was fretting, but what was there to do?”
F is for a Ferocious Fortinbras seeking Forgiveness
“What, indeed?” The new voice made all turn – even Gandalf, and the Thain’s eldest direct heir blushed under Gandalf’s stern regard. “Forgive me, Gandalf, sir. But I heard, and – well,” his face twisted into a ferocious scowl, “you would think Grandfather would have found anything but preserved eggs, sausage and stale crumbs instead of cake!”
Sapphira and Hugo, the only cousins older than Fortinbras, turned round. “Forry!” Sapphira exclaimed, and the lad blushed at his baby-name. “Manners!”
“Forgive me, Master Gandalf,” Fortinbras murmured, his cheeks aflame.
“It is forgiven. May you never live to see such days, Fortinbras,” Gandalf replied.
G is for Gerontius, Gooseberry jam, and Gandalf giving Galadriel's greetings.
The cousins were herded like a gaggle of geese to second breakfast, and Gandalf joined Gerontius at the High Table. Slices of toasted bread, spread thickly with gooseberry jam, sat on the Wizard’s plate along with a Tookland Egg, and at first the talk was all about the food – as was proper. At last, though, the Thain turned to Gandalf and asked him quietly, “What news from outside the Bounds, my old friend?”
“Old indeed, Thain Gerontius,” Gandalf chuckled to himself. “I have told you of my dear friend, the Lady Galadriel – to you, my friend, she sends fair greetings.”
H is for a Hysterical Hugo Boffin
Donnamira and Hugo looked at each other – he was the Boffin, these ten years past since Otto, his father, had died, and he had grown up on Gandalf’s tales himself, being rather close to his Baggins cousins. But Galadriel he had heard little of. “The Lady Galadriel?” he ventured.
“O yes my son,” Gerontius nodded, smiling. “She is a great Lady, a Queen amongst Elves!”
Elves! Moonshine and nonsense, Master Bungo, Master Hugo, you oughtn’t be thinkin’ of such tales, though I say it as shouldn’t. But Adar Gerontius wouldn’t lie. “A Queen!” Hugo’s expression was hysterical – Donnamira grinned hugely.
I is for an impetuous Isengar (150 words)
“O yes, brother!” Isengar Took smiled brightly at his brother-in-law. “Galadriel, Queen of Elves – at least, of the High Elves, the Noldor, on this side of the Sea!” He flashed a grin at Gandalf, but sobered a little as his eldest brothers exchanged grim looks. “I saw the Lady myself on my journeying,” he said softly. “I was welcomed there, in Lothlórien the Fair, the Golden Wood, but that, I think, is a tale for another day.”
Hugo nodded quietly, but Isengar, despite his words, couldn’t help singing, his tone reverent.
In Dwimordene, in Lórien
Seldom have walked the feet of Men,
Few mortal eyes have seen the light
That lies there ever, long and bright.
Clear is the water of your well;
White is the star in your white hand;
Unmarred, unstained is leaf and land
In Dwimordene, in Lórien
More fair than thoughts of Mortal Men.
J is for Jessamine and Jago
At the children’s table, Hugo and Donnamira’s children had been listening raptly to their newly-tweenaged cousins’ tales of Gandalf. They couldn’t wait to see real fireworks – Jessamine and Jago thought the idea of a whole flower garden made of stars sounded too good to be true! But they were true, every word, as Bilbo was quick to tell them. Sigismond, too, nodded knowingly. “Great fountains of fire, popping up like jacks in their boxes!”
“Really and truly? Will there be butterflies? Will there be dragons?” Jago gasped.
“All that and more, young Master Boffin!” Siggy grinned. Jessamine’s smile widened. Dragons!
K is for Keeping Kissing Traditions – Or Not?
As second breakfast drew to a close, Fortinbras jumped up from his seat, looking distracted. The source of his distraction was immediately evident – the buxom tweenaged lass who was approaching the High Table – who had stopped under the arch of Yule greenery, waiting. Waiting for him. O the lovely Lalia Clayhanger, he caroled in his mind, she’s the only lass for me, and he was only a hand’s breadth away from kissing her under the mistletoe when he realised all the Hall was staring.
Aware of his grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles watching from the High Table, he froze. “Lalia…”
L is for Lalia Clayhanger
“Forry, my love,” Lalia cooed, around the lad’s protests. Forry’s cousins had definitely heard, though – not to mention his grandparents, aunts and uncles. “Come and kiss me, shan’t you, my Fortinbras?”
Above them, at the High Table, her Forry’s ancient Great-Aunt Opal Took could be heard making her displeasure known, and Lalia felt distinctly annoyed as the hobbit-matron snarled, waving her walking-staff about from her wheeled chair. The elderly hobbitess could get about with her staff for short distances, but preferred the chair, clearly.
She pressed her lips to Fortinbras’ to silence him. Never will I be like that hobbitess!
M is for Mirabella, Mentioning Master Marmadoc, the Masterful (150 words, mention of minor canon character death)
A loud hmph from the very pregnant Mirabella brought the young couple’s attention to her, and Lalia stared at the older hobbitess with disdain. Going across the Brandywine to marry the Master of Buckland was not the sort of thing a Clayhanger would do! Bucklanders were certainly queer, and Mirabella’s words proved it.
“Fortinbras Took!” Mirabella scolded her young nephew. “Of all the ridiculous displays – with all respect, Father,” she added, nodding to Gerontius, “were this Father Marmadoc’s hall, he wouldn’t have stood for this!”
“Brandy Hall is yours now, my chicklet,” Gerontius reminded his youngest daughter gently. Marmadoc’s passing had not been quick or easy, and Mirabella wept, remembering. “Gorbadoc will be a fine Master, and I am sure his standards shall be kept…as will mine.” He leveled a look on Fortinbras, who quailed.
“I’m sorry, Aunt, Grandfather,” Fortinbras replied dutifully. “Still, I am not sorry for loving Lalia.”
N is for Nasturtium
Nasturtium Clayhanger, Lalia’s mother, was frozen in place. How could her eldest have been so brazen? As the wife of the Clayhanger’s son and heir, she was looking for advantageous matches for her daughters, true, but even she’d no idea Lalia had set her cap for the Thain’s grandson – and likely eventual heir! She turned to her husband.
“Osric,” she hissed, “what are we going to do now?”
Her husband seemed to be just as much at a loss for words as she was. He would have to talk to his own father, Eldric… and he was not easily pleased.
O is for Osric and Opal
Since the Clayhangers had been guests of the Thain, Osric was seated next to Opal Took. “I trust you understand, Lady Opal, we had no idea our daughter would behave so,” he said, in an attempt to calm her.
Opal drew in a breath and settled back in her chair. “Of course,” she replied with a brief nod. “Well, Osric, I for one am not in favour of this relationship. Lalia is a comely enough lass, but her temperament makes her no fit Lady for a future Thain.”
Osric felt Nasturtium bristling beside him, but he knew Opal was right.
P is for Peace
As the adults discussed Fortinbras and Lalia’s breach of etiquette amongst themselves, peace reigned at the children’s table. After the initial excitement, they’d decided the rest was grown-ups’ talk and best left to those who were of age.
So it was that the younger set followed Gandalf back to the Lady’s parlour as if he were a hen with her chicks, all eyes on the Wizard as he settled down with them again. All thoughts of Tookland Eggs had been put aside now that the children had eaten their own. Instead, Siggy asked, “Will you tell us about Queen Galadriel?”
Q is for Quiet tales and elven Queens
Gandalf settled back, puffing on his pipe. “Ah, the Lady Galadriel’s tale is a long one, young hobbits! Suffice it to say, she was young once, when first I knew her a very long time ago. She was but a princess then, the youngest daughter of the House of King Finwe, who was her grandfather.”
“Was the Queen her grandmother, then?” Bilbo asked slowly, trying to imagine an Elven gammer. What would Galadriel’s grandmother have been like?
“She was, and is, for as far as I know, she lives yet. Her name is Indis.” Gandalf turned his thoughts to Valinor.
R is for Rorimac Brandybuck
Little Rory Brandybuck, snuggling into his Cousin Bilbo’s lap, turned his gaze on the Wizard. “Indis,” he repeated thoughtfully, and Gandalf nodded, fixing his gaze on the young lad, only eight to Bilbo’s twenty.
“Yes, that is her name. It means Bride in the old Elven-tongue,” Gandalf added. Rorimac wrinkled his brow.
“That is a silly name,” he declared, and Gandalf raised an eyebrow, frowning severely in response. The lad squirmed uncomfortably, and Bilbo popped a biscuit into his young cousin’s mouth. Perhaps that would keep Rory from making any further inappropriate comments!
Rory chewed happily. Ginger was his favourite!
S is for Surprised Siggy and Sleepy Sara
Siggy, too, found himself with a lapful of small cousin – Saradas, Rory’s little brother, was only two and quickly dozed off. He idly stroked the lad’s curls, looking up at Gandalf. “I’m sorry, Gandalf,” he said softly. “It seems we can’t get the story without interruptions.”
“Or without little ones falling asleep, hmm?” Gandalf asked, and to Sigismond’s surprise, the Wizard knelt by him and lay a fingertip on Saradas’ brow. Gandalf sang in a tongue Siggy didn’t recognise, a song that was rich and beautiful, evoking images of distant shores over silver Sea, and endless skies sparkling with stars.
T is for Tip and Tulip
Sara wasn’t the only young hobbit lulled to sleep by Gandalf’s song – even most of the older hobbits were affected. But Tip and Tulip Took, Isembold’s twin son and daughter, seemed resistant to the effects of Gandalf’s voice. They looked around at their sleeping siblings and cousins in awe.
“Gandalf, we’re not sleepy!”
“That’s Master Gandalf,” Tulip corrected her brother. “We’re not sleepy, Master Gandalf.” The tweenaged lad and lass shared a look. “Perhaps we’re too old for it?”
Tip shrugged. “Calla and Ruby are asleep.” He nodded to their older sisters.
Gandalf gave the twenty-five-year-old twins a considering look.
U is for Unfinished Tales
“Well, it seems I have lost most of my audience,” Gandalf said regretfully. “Perhaps I ought to take myself back to your grandfather. He may need my advice regarding Fortinbras.”
“Lalia Clayhanger’s no good,” the twins informed Gandalf vehemently.
“She’ll be a very bad Lady if Fortinbras ever marries her. She’ll be the worst thing that ever happens to the Shire,” Tip added with a grimace.
Gandalf gave the lad a nod, acknowledging his remark. “Perhaps not the worst thing,” he replied quietly.
“Who could be worse than Loathsome Lalia?” Tulip asked.
Shaking his head soberly, Gandalf took his leave.
V is for Visions of Valinor
As Gandalf walked in Gerontius’ gardens, he found himself drawn to the glasshouse, and thinking of Lord Manwë’s extensive gardens upon the Oiolossë. The snow-white peak glittered coldly in the realm of distant memory; it was no difficult task to substitute the snow now falling outside for that upon the height of Taniquetl.
There were fountains of roses blooming here year-round; Gerontius had built these long ago for his Chubb bride, who loved the variety of sweet blossoms that could flourish here. But for Gandalf, they recalled another time and place, where he had been Olórin, of Lord Manwë’s People.
W is for Wandering Wizards
Gandalf wended his way through the rose-trees and made his way to the citrus trees – Isengar had brought the seedlings from his journeys South, tending them faithfully until they had become sturdy trees. Oranges, lemons and limes grew here despite the winter’s chill, and the scent of the overhanging ripe fruit made Gandalf’s spirit soar. He leaned back against the tree; enveloped by the warm air, he let his mind wander Westward, thinking of his true home.
O Atto, he prayed, when dark times come, let me be your Light.
May it be so, My son. Be the Children’s Light.