5. Strong Roots in the Earth of Shire
'To battle!' he shouted, 'they are driving the humans away! West Farthing is free, and North almost too! Some of the scum have gone hiding into your woods, Master Maggot!'
Instantly Farmer Maggot ordered all the younger hobbit-men to search the woods, armed with hunting-bows and sharp poles, Maggot's sons leading the dogs. Soon they were joined by the folk of other farms, who had followed in the wake of the messenger.
Maggot himself remained on his farm, and asked the messenger to stay too.
'You've had a hard ride, I'll wager, my boy, and I don't think you would object to a glass of juice or milk - we are sorely out of ale, I'm afraid. I'll see to your pony, and Lily - come out from behind the roses, girl! - can serve you.
Timidly Lily led the young hobbit into the house and bade him sit on a bench. Then she fetched a glass of apple juice, which the boy emptied in one go.
'Would you like more?'
'Thank you and no thank you, miss.'
'You can call me Lily.'
'I'm Alf. Alfons Took.'
'Have you been to battle, Alf?'
'Yes I have, Master Peregrin came to Tookborough all by himself and then we broke through the human's blockade and rode to Bywater, where we aided Master Meriadoc and the others in destroying the human's main force. I killed only one human, I think.'
Lily thought about Peregrin Took, younger and shorter than she herself, as a commander of war. His eyes had not been a killer's eyes. But maybe he had more in him than was visible on the outside. He was a Took, after all. A Took, like Alf here, sitting on the bench next to her... her thoughts wandered, and she looked straight into Alf's eyes. Which were large, and brown, and eager, and looking back at her in a way that made Lily blush. She lowered her eyes, noting in passing how very golden his hair was.
'What are you thinking, Lily?'
'Everything will turn good again, won't it? No more Chief, no more humans, no more mindless rules.' There was pleading in her voice.
'Yes', Alf whispered, and lifted his hand to wipe away the tears that were streaming from Lily's eyes.
IIt was just this moment that Farmer Maggot returned from the stable. He saw the two youngsters sitting close to each other, the boy's hand caressing the girl's cheek.
He knew of Lily's reputation as a heart-breaker, and did not approve of it. He had tolerated it in the past, and had recently hoped the girl would have outgrown these childish games. Right now, however, things were a bit too tense for her to start playing with the feelings of others. She ought to know better than start fluttering her eyelashes at the young war-hero. All the same, Maggot did not direct his anger at his daughter. There would be time for family matters later on.
'You rascal! Leave my Lily alone!' he bellowed.
To his surprise, the youth stood up and looked him squarely in the eye.
'Leave her alone? Wouldn't that be a terrible fate for such a nice and handsome maiden as she? To be left all alone! No, with your permission, of course, I intend to become her friend and visit her as often as I can. But now I really must be going to see if there are any humans left for me to hunt.' With that, he bowed, and walked out the door, to the road and into the forest.
'Lily, Lily, Lily. What on earth were you thinking?' Her mother shook her head in reproach. Outside, the first stars gave their twinkling light.
'I didn't do anything!'
'No? What did you say, then?'
'We talked about the battles.'
'Oh. Of course. The heroic battles. War in the Shire and all my daughter can think about is how handsome the young fighters look.'
'Were you never young, mother?'
'Of course I was, but I was never shallow.'
'I'm not shallow!'
'Hush, my child. The hunters are coming back.'
'Oh, mother, is my red dress clean?'
The man-hunt had been a success: the hobbits had captured five humans and sent some guards to take them to the southern border of the Shire. Alfons Took had taken his pony and led these guards. Many of the tired hunters were offered a simple but nourishing meal at the Maggots' table. Lily's dissapointment faded when one of her brothers started playing his fiddle and their neighbour's son wanted to dance with her. The celebration lasted well into the night, despite the absence of ale. Music and dancing had been on the list of forbidden things, too.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.