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Twice Twenty  by Dreamflower

Title: Clear Night

Theme: Set #1, Theme # 9 “Heaven’s field”

Genre (s):
Pairing (s): N/A

Rating: G
Notes: It is Frodo’s 29th birthday, Sam is 17, Merry is 15 and Pippin is 7 ( 18 ½, 11, 9 and 4 ½ in Man Years)

Summary: Gandalf talks to the lads about the stars…

CLEAR NIGHT

The fireworks had been lovely, and the food had been delicious. The music and dancing were winding down, and Bilbo was having a talk with his old friend Rory Brandybuck. Most of the older adults, in fact, were busy in conversation, and most of the older tweens who were not still dancing had slipped off by couples.

Frodo was tired, but he was enjoying this party. It was lavish as with Bilbo such things always were, but not so crowded as some years. He had no doubt that in four years, when he came of age, Bilbo would probably invite half the Shire. Right now he headed up the Hill, where Gandalf was putting away his fireworks and cleaning up after his efforts. He could see that Merry and Sam were already up there.

“Frodo!, Frodo! Wait for me!” a little piping voice, and the sound of small feet running hard. He turned and smiled. It looked as though Pippin had slipped away from Pearl. Most of the little ones were tuckered out, and had found themselves places to curl up and sleep, but considering the size of the piece of birthday cake Bilbo had given the lad, it was no wonder he was still wide awake. Pippin had far too much energy when he ate much in the way of sweets.

He reached down and swung the lad around, before putting him up on his shoulders. Pippin crowed with glee, and fastened his fingers firmly in Frodo’s hair, though he didn’t pull hard enough to hurt, as Merry usually had at that age. He shook his head, remembering when he finally realized that Merry was frightened by heights. Yet he had never wanted to let Frodo know, because he thought Frodo would feel bad about scaring him. Pippin however, was utterly fearless, and would already clamber up into the tree branches with Frodo.

As he approached, he heard Sam speaking. “Mr. Gandalf, those was the best fireworks I’ve ever seen! They were like rain showers of stars! I think they was even prettier than the real stars!”

“Yes,” said Merry “they were all kinds of colors! And so big and loud!” he added enthusiastically.

Frodo approached and swung Pippin down. He saw Gandalf look uncharacteristically serious. “No, my lads, they were nice enough, and I am glad you thought them beautiful, but they could never compete with the real stars of heaven’s field.”

The wizard sat himself upon the ground, and Pippin clambered quietly into his lap. Gandalf seemed easily able to calm the little one by his mere presence. Frodo, Merry and Sam sat themselves down around him, and looked at him expectantly. “Ah,” he said. “It appears that you expect a story.” Merry and Sam looked abashed, but Frodo just grinned.

The wizard looked up at the sky, at all the stars wheeling above, and a smile lit his gruff face. “Fireworks, you say, my lads, are beautiful, and so they are, in imitation of the stars. But fireworks burst forth and are gone in a brief instant, scarcely lasting longer than it takes to draw a few breaths. They are larger and more colorful, but they are very fleeting, gone in a blink.”

He looked down at the young hobbits, who were now gazing at the sky. “But you know, my lads, the stars have been there for a long time--longer even than the Sun in her splendor or the Moon in his glory. Do you know how the stars came to be?”

Frodo smiled. Of course he did; but Merry and Sam and Pippin solemnly shook their heads, and turned rapt attention to the wizard.

“Many long ages ago, the world was once lit by the light of two beautiful trees--a Tree of silver light, called Telperion, and a Tree of golden light, called Laurelin. These Trees shone with so mighty a light that the world was lit by their glow. But one day the evil Enemy came, and destroyed the Trees, and the world was cast into utter darkness.

Then the Lady, whom the Elves called Elbereth, Varda the Star-kindler, took some of the dew that was left by Telperion the Silver, and with it she kindled the stars across the field of heaven, and so for many ages, there was naught in the world but starlight. This was so long ago that there were no hobbits, there were no Men, there were not even any Elves. That is how long the stars have been in the heavens, and when the Elves awakened and came to be, the first light, the most beloved light they saw, was the light of the stars.

For the stars endure, my lads, and give light even on the darkest night, even when they are obscured by clouds, and they give hope to the weary and guidance to the traveller who must wander at night.

None of these things can a firework do. And as much as I love the fireworks, I love the stars more.”

The young hobbits gazed in awe at the stars above, glittering down upon them.

After a moment of reverential silence, Gandalf put a finger alongside his nose, and said “On the other hand, the music of the stars is very faint and not easily heard by mortal ears. But I do think that I have some squibs and crackers left that careful hobbit lads might use to make a glorious noise!”

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