3. Trees and Avoided Tantrums
"A tree, now what can that mean?" he wondered.
Bilbo looked up again at the Party Tree. It was gigantic by even Mirkwood standards. The broad trunk was gnarled with deep fissures and several branches, nearly as thick around as a tweenager, and heavily laden with leaves, stretched outwards and upwards over the field. There was never a time in Bilbo's life that he hadn't seen it standing there. Of course, when he had been a lad it had been much smaller, less tall than, say, one of the houses in Dale and considerably smaller than the buildings he had seen in Rivendell. Now, over a hundred years later the Party Tree towered majestically over every other tree in the Shire.
But, all of that brought Bilbo no closer to an answer. His mother had always urged him to let the images speak for themselves and not to concentrate too hard. So, Bilbo let his mind wander.
It strayed all the way down the hill, through the gate and over the path before he was caught in watching what his young charges were doing. Apparently being only a year before his thirty-third birthday had had no effect on Frodo. To Bilbo's amusement, he was walking on his hands while the others, a still-grubby Pippin especially delighted, clapped.
"A Brandybuck trick, that," he snorted, then sighed. "Now, where was I? Yes, that's right. Trees mean…what?" Well, the only thing he could think to do was to list his experiences with them. He looked up at the blue sky, closed his eyes and began to recite:
"I've fallen out of them as a lad, eaten from them in orchards, hid in them from both wolves and goblins, been rescued from the top of one (that was on fire) by an eagle, and been trapped in a dark forest of them for weeks. Oh, yes, and they've tormented me my entire adult life…a family tree, that is."
Bilbo stopped, surprised at the last connection. Was that the correct interpretation of his lads' futures? He glanced down at the cup again. Well, they were certainly going to be large ones.
"The roots on a tree like this go deep." Bilbo said softly, a bit overwhelmed. If what he inferred were right, the descendants of the four young hobbits below him would long outlast his memory.
"Changing the tedious Shire and deep-rooted family trees." Bilbo stared into his teacup for a long while, swirling the contents gently. Much of the tea had evaporated in the rising mid-morning heat, but Bilbo thought there might be enough for one last peek into the future.
Which would have to be quick if he wanted privacy. Bilbo could hear the voices of Frodo and Sam as they neared. Standing, and stretching briefly, Bilbo hurried around to the front gate and looked down the lane. They were coming up the hill, and as he watched, a mud-streaked Pippin stopped abruptly. Frodo and Sam continued onward, seemingly unaware (although Bilbo saw them glance at each other and share grins). The miniature Took gazed appealingly up at his cousin Merry, who shook his head. Pippin immediately stamped his foot, and opened his mouth wide, his sharp little face screwing up in anticipation of a tantrum. Which, to Bilbo's relief, was cut mercifully short by Merry instantly bending down and swooping a (now smiling) Pippin up in his arms.
Bilbo gauged their progress up the hill. It was getting warm and none of the hobbits hurried. Poor Merry was last, being hindered by Pippin's weight. Bilbo guessed he had enough time.
So, although his mother had cautioned him against direct questions, saying that he may not like the answers, he gathered his courage and asked,
"Well, shall these four accomplish any great deeds?"
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.