Fandom: The Hobbit
Series: The Magic of Hobbits #4
“Well this is unexpected,” Gandalf murmured from his place by the gate.
Bilbo looked up from the inspection of his garden and smiled. “Hello there! You knew I was going to be planting a garden, Gandalf. I even told you it would be two this year.”
“Oh, I know my dear Bilbo, but I didn’t realize how… enthusiastic the planting would be,” the wizard murmured.
“Well, yes. Dwarrow and Hobbit seem to combine to be a bit of a force of nature,” Bilbo allowed.
He had planted rosemary seedlings for his dwobbits and the wee little sprouts had taken off and were now fully mature bushes. Love and fidelity were only the start of his gifts to his children. And frankly, the strong and evergreen plant reminded him of their father. He hadn’t used oak saplings since there was already an oak tree over Bag End and from the way it had added growth since the spring, he was certain it had its roots mixed in with the rosemary.
“So they are healthy?” Gandalf asked.
“Yes. Very much so,” Bilbo reassured.
The wizard looked pleased with that. “Excellent. Do you need to do anything else today?”
“No, I don’t. But tomorrow is a sowing and I will need to be adding some things to the cradles as supplements.”
“Ah. I have just the thing for that,” Gandalf murmured before patting his chest until he got to his belt. He unhooked the pouch that Bilbo had given him the previous year and handed hit back.
“I have plenty of Old Toby, Gandalf,” Bilbo teased as he started to untie the pouch. “And I don’t want them to pick up that habit quite yet.”
The wizard laughed and shook his head at that. “I wouldn’t give you any pipe-weed old friend. But I did bring you back some things from Erebor.”
“Erebor?” Bilbo questioned. The pouch opened then and he poured out a fistful of the green marble that the mountain was made of. “Oh, Gandalf.”
“I got them from Dís,” the wizard reported. “She chiseled the stone out of Thorin’s old rooms. Right where his bed was located.”
Bilbo took a deep breath at that and pushed the need to weep away. It wouldn’t do for him to break down now. “This is lovely. Thank you.”
Gandalf looked pleased with himself and leaned on his staff. “I also squashed a suggestion of sending you more of Erebor’s gold.”
“Good idea,” Bilbo confirmed. “I’ve barely touched what I brought home and I doubt I will ever really use it all. After all, I still have plenty of money from my tenants and businesses. Maybe I’ll invest?”
“Sounds like something to do,” Gandalf agreed. “Also, Bofur and Bifur wanted to know if you wanted them to make toys for the children.”
“Yes, please,” Bilbo poured the marble back in the pouch and tightened the strings. Rocking back on his heels he looked around. “Where are my manners? Would you like tea?”
“Please,” Gandalf agreed. “And I have a number of messages to pass on. Apparently, the whole Company wants to come by for a visit next year and want to know if you would be willing to host them.”
Bilbo shook his head and started to laugh. “At least this time they are asking. I think that’s more than sufficient time to plan a party.”
“Good. I suggest you send a raven with that news. Because several of the more adventurous are wanting to come down.”
“Eh. I know the Blue Mountains are basically empty of dwarrow so why would they be coming this way?” Bilbo asked as headed for the back door of Bag End. The smial anticipated him and swung the door open.
“They want to visit you, dear one. And they said something about meeting the children,” Gandalf admitted.
“You did say that Bofur and Bifur wanted to send toys… Here I thought Balin and Dís could keep a secret better than that,” Bilbo muttered as he put the kettle on the hob to warm up. Stretching up, he took the mug he had commissioned for Gandalf down from its hook and placed it on the table with the honeypot with his own cup. “I have a lovely black tea from Lothlórien if you want to try it?”
“Please,” Gandalf confirmed. “And it’s only the Company who knows and Dís. But it’s not like you will be able to hide them forever, Bilbo.”
Bilbo leaned his hands on the table and took a deep breath. “I know. But right now, they are still in their cradles and so very vulnerable. It will be more than eight months before they emerge and I don’t know which one of us they will take after. If they follow Thorin and the dwarrow in their growth, I doubt I will live to see them reach their majority. If they follow a hobbit’s lifespan, they will live only a third the length of their father. Either way, that’s a mess for another day.”
“It is,” Gandalf murmured, voice soothing. “When they emerge, I’ll take a look and see if I can give you some idea of where they will fall on that scale. Who knows? Perhaps they will divide it down the middle.”
“Perhaps. At any rate, Dian is king under the mountain and he has his own heir,” Bilbo murmured as he spooned tea into two tea balls before setting it in the mugs.
“You know that it was Thorin’s line that claimed that mountain and if Dís was willing, she could claim it and rule in the name of her family,” Gandalf reminded him. “Balin would support her.”
“Likely he would,” Bilbo agreed. He had learned a great deal more about the dwarrow and the line of Durin over the winter, so Gandalf’s thought wasn’t an unheard-of option. “Given that Thorin claimed her children as his heirs, it would follow that she would claim his as hers. But would the dwarrow in Erebor accept a half hobbit king?”
“I… do not know,” Gandalf admitted as Bilbo took the kettle off the fire to pour hot water into his mug. “I think they would, given that the child would be descendant of Thorin, but I can’t say for certain.”
“I’m not going to wave the children in front of Dian like a flag,” Bilbo admitted as he filled his own mug. “But I will be taking them and their brothers to Erebor in the next ten years. After that, I’ll be too old to comfortably travel and to be honest, I doubt I will want to. They need to see the home of their father and I want to let Thorin know about them.”
“Well that will put the cat in the pigeons then,” Gandalf said, amused. “Do let me know when you are planning on heading up there so I can make sure to see.”
“You are still a meddler,” Bilbo said with a sigh. “Honey?”
“You two are so like your father,” Bilbo murmured as he worked the plant, mineral and animal additives into the cradles of his children. They had taken the offering with aplomb, sucking the new bits into their cradles without a problem. If he had to put a thought to it, he would say they had accepted the contribution as their due.
He was going to have to talk to his grandmother to check to see if all children were the same when they were cradled.
“I think he would be very happy to know I actually am cradling you lot,” he continued, turning to carefully inspect each rosemary bush. They were all healthy and the smell of them perfumed the air around the small plot. “I don’t think he really realized what it meant when I said that I had the four of you in my heart, but I do think he would have been happy.”
Bilbo watched as the twin forms in the cradles flexed and rolled. He patted both before he moved on to the oak. It was at the head of the plot and if he reached out, he could indeed feel the tree putting out new roots. “I truly wasn’t sure that you wanted to help, old friend,” he said as he let one hand rest on the bark in apology.
If he hadn’t planted the acorn he had taken from Boern in Dale, he would have used that to support the children. But needs must and the rosemary had been the better choice. Thorin’s use name might have been Oakenshield, but there was no need to augment that layer of stubbornness in their children. Well, he hadn’t planned to. But nature seemed to have made her own decision and done it anyway.
Task complete, Bilbo walked over to the gate to retrieve the last item for the night. Baring one wrist, he sighed. He needed blood to sprinkle over the tops of each cradle, but it always made something in him cringe to cut himself. Tilting his wrist so he could see the side of his fist, he clenched his hand and sliced quickly. The mithril knife he had gotten from Erebor was supremely sharp and moved through his flesh with startling ease.
Releasing a sharp breath at the bite of pain, Bilbo set the knife down and went over to the first cradle. Walking the length of it, he let his blood drip onto the soil. When he reached the end, he moved to the other and walked up it. As each drop hit, the children moved in response.
“I do not like that you need to hurt yourself to nurture them,” Gandalf murmured from his place in the shadows.
“No child is brought into this world without some pain, Mithrandir,” Bilbo told him, voice serene. “And this will be healed in the morning. Such is the magic of hobbits and cradling. It wouldn’t do to have me be incapacitated in caring for them, no would it?”
“No, it wouldn’t.”
“How soon will you leave?” Bilbo asked as he wrapped a clean strip of cloth over his cut. He had plenty of practice tying it off one-handed and exited the garden once he was finished.
“I’ll be leaving in the morning. I need to head to Gondor,” Gandalf said.
“Checking to see how bad things are down there?” Bilbo guessed.
Gandalf nodded, eyes holding a melancholy light. “Yes. And to see if there have been any orc sightings. Thranduil’s Greenwood is starting to return to what I remember it being, but it will take time for the trees to calm down and accept the stewardship of the elves again.”
“Speaking of elves… Have you seen Tauriel?” Bilbo asked. He had met the female elf in the aftermath of the Battle of the Five Armies and had been charmed by her. He had invited her to tea, but she had just shaken her head at him before leaving.
“No, I haven’t. But then, she was heading East with several of Thranduil’s elves that could no longer live in the world after the battle,” Gandalf said after several moments thought. “She should have passed by here several months ago.”
“Unless she is passing time with Elrond?” Bilbo suggested. “Would you like some ale?”
“Please,” Gandalf said. He said nothing as they moved into Bag End and settled into the parlor. “If she does pass by, let her know I am thinking of her and would offer any assistance I can.”
“I will,” Bilbo confirmed. “I’ll have the Bounders keep an eye out for her.”
“That’s all we can do now,” Gandalf admitted. “I don’t think she’s going to Fade, but I’ve been wrong before.”
“It’s been less than a year since the battle, Gandalf,” Bilbo reminded him. The surge of pain he felt at the reminder was pushed to the side as he took a deep breath. “Fading in an elf can take much more time than that. I’ll send a raven to Elrond to check with him.”
“Hmmm,” Gandalf hummed before he pulled his pipe out. The ritual to pack and light the thing was obviously soothing and Bilbo pulled out his own pipe-weed to share. “Thank you, dear one.”
Neither of them spoke the rest of the evening, content in each other’s company.
By the time fall had truly come around, Bilbo was getting concerned. Elrond had reported that Tauriel had indeed spent the winter in Rivendell and had left with the spring. She hadn’t been Fading that he could see, but she had rarely spent time with him.
The Bounders were having no luck either. There were a number of elves making their way to the Grey Havens, but none of them were the small red-haired elf he remembered.
There had been two more sowings since he had seen Gandalf and he was planning on one that night due to needing to cover the cradles for the winter. Those of his people who could read the winter in the air had reported that it would be a fairly mild one, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.
When there was a knock on his door, Bilbo felt his eyebrows head for his hairline. He wasn’t expecting anyone and every single one of his Dwarrow knew to just come in. Even if they were just passing through.
“Hello?” he asked as the front door of Bad End opened. “Tauriel!”
“Hello, Bilbo,” she called as she peeked in his door. She looked like she had been running on thin rations for a long time and had finally hit the end of her rope. “May I come in?”
“Please, please!” he said as he waved at her to come in. She was short enough for a big person that she didn’t stand out too badly in the smial. “I was hoping you would come by.”
“I’m on my way to the Grey Havens,” Tauriel said, voice soft. She looked around and rubbed her hands over her arms. “The journey takes us close to the Shire and I remembered your invitation.”
“Thank you for coming by,” Bilbo said. He stared at her as the smial closed its door. “Something is different about you.”
“I…,” Tauriel took a deep breath and took off the backpack she was wearing before sitting down on the foyer floor. Unfolding the top carefully, she tilted it to show Bilbo the contents.
Nestled securely in the pack was a wee baby, obviously very new and not fully elven. Sucking in a deep breath, Bilbo reached out to run one gentle finger over the wee one’s cheek. “Kili’s child?”
“Yes,” Tauriel confirmed. “I couldn’t stay with Elrond and I wasn’t going to be anywhere near Thranduil or Erebor. Not when I had her.”
“Ah,” Bilbo could fully understand that urge. Hadn’t he come home to garden as well? “So, no one knows about her?”
“You. The midwife who helped me deliver her in Bree. That’s it,” Tauriel admitted.
“Well, you aren’t going any further, that’s for sure and certain,” Bilbo declared. “Unless you are planning on taking her with you when you leave Middle Earth.”
“I don’t know that it would be fair if I did. I don’t know that she would truly grow up if we went to the Undying Lands now,” Tauriel admitted. She looked at her daughter and shook her head. “If we go, it will long from now. I can only hope that Mahal will take her into his keeping if Eru won’t. Because I do want Kili to meet her one day.”
“We’re a fine mess we are,” Bilbo said on a sniff. “I’ve got some of the same worries. Only my worry is between Yavanna or Mahal. And… I have four. I don’t know which of us has the worst time of it.”
“How?” Tauriel asked. She gazed up at Bilbo and tilted her head to the side as she looked him over. “You are a male of your species, correct?”
Amused, Bilbo nodded. “I am indeed. But Hobbits don’t carry our young like Men, Elves or Dwarrow do. We plant our children in the ground and nurture their Cradles for a full year before they are born.”
“That’s amazing,” Tauriel said, wonder tinging her voice. “So, you and Thorin?”
“We have two children being cradled now and two more will be cradled next year,” Bilbo admitted. “So, yes, things will be interesting and I certainly want you to stay. My wee ones should get to know their cousin as they grow.”
“I didn’t want to intrude. I can find a place to stay if needs be,” Tauriel offered.
Bilbo snorted softly as he shook his head. “No, lass. Stay here. Be safe. Raise your daughter where there is a place where she can learn of her heritage. And meet her grandmother. Because Dís is going to know.”
“I didn’t want to tell her in case she blames me for his death,” Tauriel said. She looked even more pale than she had before when Bilbo mentioned Dís.
“She won’t,” he tried to reassure her. “She blames the boys, she blames Bolg and Azog and she even blames Thorin, but not you.”
“How will we tell her?” Tauriel asked as she pulled her daughter out of her backpack.
“May I hold her?” Bilbo asked. He smiled as he took the baby from her hands. “Well, aren’t you tiny?” he asked. “I’ll send a raven. And see about getting a sketch done so she knows what she looks like. What’s her name?”
“Dwarrow naming conventions say that she should have a name that relates back to Kili’s,” Tauriel reminded him. “Do you have any idea what you will be naming your children?”
“No,” Bilbo shook his head before he handed the baby back to her mother. “I’m stuck as well. I’ve got a few possible options, but again, those pesky naming conventions are coming to mess with me.”
“Combining my name and Kili’s leaves me with Tauli,” Tauriel mused as she rocked her daughter in her arms. “I’m not upset at the name.”
“Tauli, daughter of Kili of the line of Durin?” Bilbo asked. “I like it. And it works well enough.”
“Well, we can try it for a while. And if we still like it in a week, we can write a letter to Dís,” Tauriel suggested.
“I like that,” Bilbo agreed.
“What were you thinking of for your children?” Tauriel asked.
“They’re boys,” Bilbo said before he headed for the kitchen. “Come this way. I think we need some tea for this discussion.”
“You know the sex of the children before they are born?” Tauriel asked as she moved through his smial with ease.
“One of the things that comes with the way Hobbits have children is that we can tell the sex of them before they emerge. It’s come in handy before,” Bilbo informed her. He pulled the mug he had for Gandalf down and set it in front of her before he reached for the teapot. “I have a lovely black tea with peaches?”
“That does sound lovely. Do you have honey to go with it?” Tauriel asked.
“And cream if you want it,” Bilbo confirmed. He carefully poured the tea into the strainer before adding the lot to the pot. The hot water followed and he carefully pulled out the cream and honey out while the tea steeped. “Do you want a scone?”
“Please,” Tauriel murmured. She cradled Tauli to her breast and paused. “Would it offend you if I nursed her?”
“No,” Bilbo shook his head. He pulled the basket with the tea out and set it aside before he poured them both a cup. “While that’s something that we don’t do, we know that humans, dwarrow, and elves do. The baby comes first and she needs what you can provide.”
“Thank you,” Tauriel said. She settled the baby on her lap and unlaced her bodice to expose a breast.
Bilbo ignored the sight and arranged some nibbles on a plate for her to enjoy while she had her tea. He settled into his chair with his tea and poked at the idea of names for his sons. Bilbo sipped at his tea and discarded several names that reminded him too much of the Company. “The first boy I cradled will be Thrain. The second will be Florin.”
“Good strong names that will remind everyone who their parents are,” Tauriel saluted him with her cup of tea. “I’m looking forward to meeting them.”