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"This is the Hall of Fire" said the wizard. "Here you will hear many songs and tales- if you can keep awake."
(Lord of the Rings; the Fellowship of the Ring)
(Chapter: Many Meetings)
"I beg of you," said Bilbo stammering and standing on one foot, "to accept this gift!' and he brought out a necklace of silver and pearls that Dain had given him at their parting.
"In what way have I earned such a gift, O hobbit?" said the king.
"Well, er, I thought, don't you know," said Bilbo, rather confused, "that, er, some little return should be made for your, er, hospitality. I mean even a burglar has his feelings. I have drunk much of your wine and eaten much of your bread."
Third Age, 3019,
The Hall of Fire was wondrously warm. It was filled more than it was ever before. The lighter robes of the inhabitants of Imladris mixed among the darker colours of Elves who travelled from Eryn Lasgalen with their King. Thranduil and Elrond sat together on a high platform, while the minstrels played soft music by the crackling fire. Finally the music ceased and Bilbo stepped forward.
Bilbo's song was unlike any other; it was not Elvish, but went more along the lines of joyful tunes sung in the Green Dragon on wintery nights. It was a jaunty tune, of a young Hobbit forced to leave the comforts of his home due to a company of Dwarves and the longing of his own heart. Bilbo stepped and gestured as he sang as much as his old age allowed, of how the Hobbit went from one trouble to the other, following it with the woe of losing his perfect buttons at the Goblin-door, of the terror of wolves and the barrels swinging in the river. It was a story King Thranduil knew well.
Bilbo never witnessed the horror on the Elves' faces as he witnessed then. At first, they struggled to keep their composure but towards the end, laughter rose up even among King Thranduil's company. When Bilbo stepped away, he looked over to where the mentioned King sat. Curiously, Thranduil's face was hidden behind his hand. His shoulders shook. Beside him, Lord Elrond sat with a merry smile on his face. Bilbo went up to them.
"Well, Master Burglar, for all the years that passed by you, your memory is still as sharp as a knife." Thranduil said. He removed his hand and Bilbo found a smile in place of a frown he was expecting. The King turned to Elrond. "I hope you were not the one to encourage him, my friend. If so, the consequences will be dire."
At times, Bilbo found King Thranduil frightening. He was a like a king in tales of old; proud, fierce, like a lion baring its teeth. But then Thranduil would smile, and Bilbo would see the kindness and generosity lingering just beneath the surface, and only then would one notice the cubs the lion was protecting.
"I told if he had the audacity to sing about the shortcomings of the Elven King of Greenwood in his presence, it will be his tongue and neck at stake and not mine," Elrond said. But his voice was merry, and Bilbo knew there was no harm. "But then Master Bilbo sung about my father in my presence, and I will say he indeed has courage for a being so small."
"You were not offended then, Master Elrond, and forgive my saying so. Had I known you felt differently, I would not have put your father's tale to song." Bilbo said, slightly defensive. But Elrond was not surprised.
"I believe I have been put to my place." Elrond remarked. Thranduil gave a short laugh and reached for his goblet.
"You have been indeed, my friend. Have a care! This burglar managed to evade my watch and roamed my halls. I believe you are severely outmatched."
Bilbo, at first, began to feel a bit offended, but then he noticed the jests were not at his expense. Their words for him were full of respect, but they were entirely meant for one another.
"I need not fear he would resort to burglary again! After all, those days are past him. Are they not, Master Bilbo?"
Bilbo flushed up to his whitening hair.
"They are long past and I hope the nasty business does not return, for I am too weary to take any adventure. Although I hope," Bilbo turned to King Thranduil, rose and gave an awkward little bow. "I did not offend you, Elven King. The song was meant to only remember the past."
"Do not worry, Master Hobbit. I am not offended. Indeed, it was splendid to hear, though I cannot believe one as good in burglary as you could have made so many slips!"
"Most were highly exaggerated, King," Bilbo sat comfortably on the seat provided for him. "It was meant to be comical."
"Ah, then you should have lengthened the part of taking your helpings in my dinner, Master Hobbit." The King leaned back in his chair, the informal position only complimenting his royal form. "For the chase of finding who was responsible for eating for the supper I sung for was indeed a comedy none of my people will forget!"
Remembering his hunger and the King's tempting (and unwatched) dinner, Bilbo flushed but the King laughed once more.
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