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The Master of Imladris stared out his window watching as the small group of dwarves and one hobbit (only nine Dwarves this time, and no Wizard, but the hobbit was the same) wended their way East.
Long ago as hobbits reckoned things, but not very long at all in the reckoning of Elves, he recalled a conversation with that hobbit as he was going home to the Shire from his Adventure.
"I thank you once more for your hospitality, Master Elrond. I have felt quite at home here."
"You are most welcome, Mr. Baggins. Do not forget that we have agreed to correspond. Gandalf has already said he will be glad to bring me your letters, and to carry mine."
"I do appreciate it, though I hope the accounts of our small doings in the Shire won't bore you." Bilbo had looked up at his host shyly. "I hope you don't think me too bold when I say I hope to return some day."
For just an instant, Elrond had found himself seeing Bilbo, aged and venerable, here in this place, comfortable and settled. He had smiled at the vision.
"Not at all, my small friend." He had placed a hand upon the hobbit's shoulder. "We would be most pleased to host you once more." It was bound to happen; his own foresight was reliable.
"Come along, Bilbo!" Gandalf had called out impatiently.
"Gandalf awaits you. Go in peace and safety to your Shire." He had placed a hand upon the hobbit's curly head in benediction. Bilbo's was a most generous and shining soul and he looked forward to a long (in hobbit's estimation) friendship, even though he knew the grief he was bound to know at the end.
Now, sixty years later Bilbo had returned, to pass through Rivendell on his way to Erebor. But Bilbo had resumed his journey, and Elrond had about a year to prepare for his small friend to return and take up residence.
He moved to the bellpull next to the door. The day of the hobbit's return was bound to arrive in a rush. He would set Eledwhen to restoring and preparing the hobbit quarters. Thankfully, due to another hobbit many years before, they had a head start on the task.
Eledwhen let herself into the quarters where a hobbit had once dwelt for a time. They were located on the southwest corner of the House. It would have seemed a long time to the inhabitant, but to her it had only seemed a short time. She easily recalled Hildifon's cheerful face, not so different from that of Bilbo Baggins. Had they been kin? she wondered. If so, that would be a delightful surprise for him to discover one day.
The rooms were not dusty nor neglected; in Rivendell, all rooms, whether occupied or not, were cleaned on a regular basis. But the absence of any personal items or the touches that made a space homely emphasized that much would need to be done to make them comfortable for a new inhabitant.
There were four chairs and a settee in the sitting room directly in front of the door. One of the chairs was sized for a small person, such as a hobbit or a Dwarf; the rest of the furnishings were the usual size. There was a low round table fit for serving a small meal or tea, and several side tables. Beneath the large window on the western wall (which gave a fine view of a distant waterfall) was a small desk and chair, with a low bookcase beside it. Several bookshelves were built into the walls. But the chairs and settee had no cushions, no pictures or ornaments adorned the shelves or mantel, no books filled the bookcases. A large fireplace, cold and empty, was built into the wall opposite to the door. There were bookshelves at either side, but next to the bookcase on her left was a small round door; she would have to bend nearly in half to enter the room beyond. Choosing what items to put in the room to make it more homely would take time.
To her left was a low step beneath a rounded arch that led into a tiny kitchen. To casual eyes it might appear to be a kitchen built for a young child's playhouse. On the southern wall was a cooking hearth, with a built-in stone oven on one side. Unlike the sitting room, the kitchen seemed to be fully furnished. From hooks on the wall to the right of the fireplace hung miniature cast iron pots and pans and utensils: skillets and spiders in two sizes; a bake kettle; spits and tongs and toasting forks and long-handled ladles and lids in several sizes. Nothing hung higher than halfway up the wall. Instead, above this was a beautiful mural of a green and pastoral country, with soft rolling hills. The hills were pierced with small round windows and doors. She knew it was meant to be a depiction of the perian's homeland. It seemed to be a pleasant and orderly place, and the sight of it made her smile.
The brick oven built into the chimney on the other side was also far too low for an Elf to use. There were shelves next to it, laden with copper kettles and saucepans and pots, and tin bake pans. There were also pottery cooking vessels on the lower shelves. As on the other side, no shelves went higher than halfway. The mural on this side featured a table laden as if for a feast. The candles glowed as though with a real light, and it showed bowls of fruit and plates of breads and cheeses. Platters of meat--a ham, a fowl of some sort, and a roast of venison featured prominently. Steam appeared to be issuing forth from the hot meats. A pitcher seemed to have drops of condensation that glistened like dew.
The rest of the shelves on that side were almost empty, though a row of pottery canisters lined up on the top shelf. They were, of course, empty.
On the far wall opposite the entry arch was a sideboard with a cupboard above. It contained an assortment of dishes in pewter and china. They were in two sizes, both sized for the perian and for Elves or Men. A low worktable covered in butcher block was in the center of the room.
On the final wall to the left of the arch, two cupboards flanked a stone sink set into a stand, above which perched a copper pump. Eledwhen was pleased: the kitchen only needed to be stocked with foodstuffs to be ready for its new cook.
Now she looked at the round door by the fireplace in the sitting room. She opened the door; it was easier to simply crawl through into the room beyond, rather than try to bend over so far. Within was a small bare bed, a night table next to it on one side and a small bookcase on the other, a generous wardrobe, a washstand, and a rocking chair. There was a fireplace located at the back of the fireplace in the sitting room. In the wall on the left, next to the wardrobe was another door, which led into a water closet. In the wall on the West was a large arched window with an excellent view of the valley. Above the bed, high in the wall was a small round stained glass window depicting an eight-pointed star against a vivid blue background. There was no bedding, no pillows or cushions, no rugs upon the floor, no ewer and basin on the washstand.
She backed out of the room and stood up, pondering. She knew that there were some items for this room stored away, but it was likely that new linens and other soft furnishings would need to be prepared. And she knew that the new resident of the room had left behind some of his own belongings in storage here, rather than risking them on the perilous journey to Erebor.
That would be her next stop.
"Erestor, may I have a word with you?"
Erestor halted his stride for Lindor to catch up with him, and then continued down the passage to his study. "Yes, Lindor?" he asked, suppressing a sigh. The minstrel was prone to taking offense over small slights, real or imagined, by other members of the household.
"There is a rumor that we are once more going to have a mortal, a perian, no less, living among us once more. Do you think it wise?"
"Master Elrond believes it to be wise, else he would not have issued the invitation," Erestor said in his most imperious tones, tones that would have instantly warned off anyone else, but had little effect on the self-absorbed minstrel. "We often have mortals living here, most often the heirs of the Dúnedain chieftain, but sometimes others."
"But they are the heirs of Elros and they are young! This one is merely a Halfling, and old" Lindor said the last word like an obscenity.
"What has that to do with anything?" asked Erestor. "Our Lord's hospitality is open to all of good will who find our home a refuge, whatever their age."
"But...he is likely to die here, like that last one did!"
Ah! thought Erestor, now we come to the heart of it. Lindor deems himself too sensitive to deal with mortal death. He recalled that the minstrel had been quite offended at the death of Hildifons Took. "That is the way of mortals when they arrive at the end appointed to them. Master Elrond has deemed this particular perian to be worthy of his hospitality and friendship. I suggest that if you have any objections to Mr. Baggins' presence you keep them to yourself lest you risk offending the Lord of Imladris."
Lindor's face flamed. He gave a wordless nod and took himself off in a huff. Erestor breathed a sigh of relief. The Elf had a wondrous way with a song, it was true, but his personality was most grating!
Eledwhen led her friend Mairen and Mairen's husband Avorn, into the storage room where Master Baggins' belongings had been stowed. In a corner were four good-sized wooden crates, neatly stacked; three trunks which looked quite small to the Elves, but must have seemed quite large to the hobbits; and two other crates which were about half the size of the first four.
Today they would not be bringing the items up to the quarters where he would be living, but they did plan to go through what Master Baggins had brought with him, to get an idea of what sort of things he would like to go with his old possessions.
Avorn lifted down the topmost crate. It proved to be filled with books. All of them were written in Westron, and were mostly about the hobbit's homeland. Some of them appeared to have be written in his own spidery hand. Some had woodcut engraved illustrations, others were charmingly illuminated by hand. Some were even the product of woodblock printing. There were several genealogies, cookbooks, herbals, journals of some of Master Baggins' kinfolk, and so forth; there were a handful of books of poems, and of fanciful tales as well. The second large crate was more of the same. At the bottom were two portfolios filled with drawings and paintings. Many of the drawings depicted a quaint round green door set into a hill between two round windows and surrounded by a lush garden; the art clearly having been done at different times and seasons, and it was easy to see the growth of a young artist into a mature one. The letters for "F.B." in Westron were appended at the bottom, presumably the initials of the artist.
"I am quite certain," said Eledwhen, "that this art must be the work of a beloved younger kinsman."
Avorn nodded. "He seems very talented, and also it seems he loved his subject. Perhaps Elves could render these scenes more accurately, but only one who loved these places dearly could have done them so charmingly."
"I would love to see such a place," said Mairen, "it looks so warm and inviting."
The trunks appeared to be filled with garments, although they found a few breakable trinkets tucked in carefully among the pocket handkerchiefs and the nightshirts and dressing gowns.
Mairen giggled at the sight of one trinket painted in crude figures and bright colors. "I would say that this is the work of a very young artist, younger than the one who did the other paintings!"
"I dare say you are right," Eledwhen agreed. "I am sure there must be a story behind this!"
The other two large crates were much lighter. They contained soft goods--there were pillows and cushions in the upper box. The last one contained two nicely pieced quilts and a knitted coverlet. Packed between the folds of the quilts were several portraits of other hobbits who were clearly kin of one sort or other to Master Baggins.
Over the months, Eledwhen and her friends worked on Master Baggins' new home. It was decided that a new coat of white paint was needed in the front room and in the bedroom.
Gauzy white curtains were made to fit the windows, and so was a new featherbed mattress for the small bed, as well as a couple of new pillows. While there were small cushions in Master Baggins' possessions, there was a need for some larger ones to be used in the larger chairs when the hobbit entertained any of the Elves of the household in his rooms.
Gradually the possessions were brought up, to be placed about the room and give it a welcoming air. A few of the pictures and ornaments were placed upon the mantel, while others graced the shelves. Master Baggins' own books were also shelved, though there was much room left for new acquisitions.
The following spring there was much excitement at the news that the Lady Arwen was returning to her home after her latest visit to her grandparents in Lothlórien. Her arrival was the cause of much celebration and feasting, and then she once more took up her reins as the Lady of the House, and Eledwhen gladly resumed her place as one of Arwen's handmaidens.
Arwen was quite excited at the prospect of the perian who was coming to dwell among them. "For, you know, I was not here when the other one dwelt among us. I have never had a chance to know one, but I have heard many good things of his people." She blushed when she said it, and Eledwhen knew who must have told her those things. The Dúnadan had a lot of experience of the periannath. Hobbit! she reminded herself; Estel always said that was the word their people preferred.
Once the Lady Arwen had learned the news of all that had been happening in the Valley while she was gone, Eledwhen took her up to show her the rooms and all that they had done.
"Does it please you, milady?"
"It does indeed, my friend, though there is still more to do. But not quite yet. They are the sorts of things that should be done just before he arrives."
Bilbo winced as the waggon lurched over another hole in the road. He ached from the top of his head to the tips of his toes from the bouncing and bumping. He had taken to the waggon to spare his poor little pony, Merrylegs, who was not so young as he used to be, either. The pony was currently following the waggon, tied to the back by his leading reins. He looked up at Dori, who had accompanied him, along with two of his young kin, Nuri and Borin. "I am glad the journey's nearly at an end, Dori! I do not think I will be doing much travelling any longer after this."
Dori nodded. "None of us is as young as we used to be. It has been many years since we thought it was a good idea to challenge a dragon."
Bilbo turned to the driver of the waggon, a Man, a travelling tinker from Dale who had agreed to bring Bilbo and some of his newly acquired possessions from Erebor to Rivendell. "Mr. Tinkerson, how much longer do you think we shall be on the road?"
"If the weather holds, and no other mishap takes us, we should be there before summer's end--two weeks, three at the most, Master Bagg--oops--ins!" They had hit another hole. Bilbo had been bounced a good three inches into the air. Perhaps he would go back to riding Merrylegs tomorrow.
He was glad of the tinker's words, though. He'd like to be settled into his new home before the cold weather set in. And if he could get settled before his birthday so much the better!
Elladan and Elrohir studied the Eastern pass into the valley. Their keen Elven sight spotted a slow-moving cart or waggon in the far distance, high on a pass, accompanied by three figures on ponies.
"How long, do you suppose?" asked Elrohir.
"Five days at least, possibly six, depending on how early they stop for the nights. Might even be seven if they run into any small difficulties on the road," replied his brother.
"I am sure that it must be."
The twins turned back, heading down the track to home, to tell the news that Master Bilbo Baggins was likely to arrive within the week.
What a bustle there was when their news was delivered! The Lady Arwen herself went down to the kitchens to oversee the stocking of Master Baggins' small larder with the things he might need in his small kitchen. Of course, the hobbit would be welcome to take as many meals as he liked in the common dining hall among the Elves; but Arwen knew what Estel and Gandalf had told her, how hobbits found much joy and comfort in doing their own baking, or in entertaining others to tea. She was sure that the old hobbit was likely to take at least a few of his many daily meals in his own quarters.
The bed was made up with new linens, but using Master Baggins' own quilts, and the new curtains were hung. Avorn even saw to filling the grate with firewood.
Master Elrond himself chose a score of books from the library to add to those his new guest had brought with him. Not all were in Westron; the hobbit had taught himself Sindarin, and had even begun to learn a bit of Quenya.
Very soon the rooms were finished, and Arwen was able to turn her attention to the planning of a welcome feast for their new resident.
As the waggon, and the Dwarves on their ponies were led to the stables (for after only a brief rest for their animals, Bilbo's escort was to continue along their way), along with Merrylegs who now would make his home there, the Master of Rivendell was able to speak to Bilbo alone.
“It is good to see you once more, Master Baggins.”
“And I could say the same of you, Master Elrond. It is very good to be once more in the Last Homely House.”
“And how was your journey to Erebor and the Lonely Mountain?”
“Far less eventful than my first visit,” the hobbit chuckled. “It was very pleasant to go the whole way upon the same pony, with no side-trips through goblin-mines or up in the air with Eagles or down rivers atop barrels, and no dragon at the other end to singe my heels.”
“Have you given any further thought to my invitation?” Elrond asked with a smile, for he knew already the answer.
“And are you so very sure that you wish to have a lowly hobbit take up space here indefinitely? I am afraid that you might find my presence a bit trying at times.” Bilbo's eyes sparkled with mischief.
“I think that we would find ourselves very honored to have a hobbit of such distinction make his retirement here in Rivendell.”
“I shan’t give up my pipe," a touch of challenge in Bilbo's tone.
“I would not expect you to. But I know that you will be courteous enough not to smoke indoors in any of the common areas.”
“Of course. Well, in that case, I should truly be glad of taking your offer of a home here, for I have always been very fond of Rivendell, ever since I first set foot here over fifty years ago. It’s a most remarkable and unforgettable place you know.”
“Very well then, I hope, Bilbo Baggins, that you will not take it amiss that I anticipated your answer, and have prepared a place for you? I have even had placed there some of the items you left here for safekeeping on your way to Dale.”
Filled with amazement at this revelation that his stay had been foreseen, Bilbo followed his host down a wide and airy passageway. Elrond opened a door all the way at the end, and Bilbo stepped through.
“Bless me!” he exclaimed. “This is most remarkable!”
“In addition, there is a sleeping chamber through that door--” Elrond indicated a small round door at the opposite side of the room. “The bed and other furniture there are all of hobbit size. There is also a bathing room with a water closet, and a very small kitchen.” He pointed to the archway to the left of the room, opposite the window. “You are free to take your meals here or join us in the dining hall, as it please you, and we hope that you will honor us with your presence in the Hall of Fire in the evenings.”
“Oh my! Oh dear!” Bilbo was tearing up and sniffling. He drew out his pocket handkerchief and blew his nose. “I did not imagine that you would go to such trouble for such an insignificant fellow as myself, Master Elrond.” He turned, suddenly and impulsively, and hugged his host about the knees, and then jumped back in dismay. “Oh, I am sorry for presuming! But I was quite overcome by your kindness!”
Elrond smiled down, and placed a hand comfortingly on the curly white head. “Not at all, my dear friend, I am very glad to have you here, as I hope this may show. Now, I shall leave you to get acquainted with your new home, and I hope that we may expect you to dine with us this evening.” He gave a polite half bow, and went from the room.
Bilbo looked about him, seeing placed here and there the cherished treasures he had brought away from Bag End, mostly things of sentimental import, and which he had left here for safekeeping when he had journeyed on to Dale. It was not Bag End, by any means, but it was cozy and welcoming and altogether homely.
“Oh, I do think I am going to like living in Rivendell!”
Elrond smiled to himself as he retreated down the corridor. His new resident seemed pleased with the arrangements they had made. He would have to be certain to let both his daughter and Eledwhen know that their efforts were successful and appreciated.
The first weeks of his stay in Rivendell were filled with explorations of the Last Homely House and its surroundings. His birthday came and went, and he had been melancholy at first at the thought of spending it without Frodo--but was delightfully surprised to find that his beloved cousin had anticipated that, and had given a letter and a gift to Gandalf, who had left it with Elrond for the occasion, which had cheered him immensely.
Shortly after, he had taken a short walking trip around the Valley, and had made the acquaintance of Aragorn--the Dúnadan, as he liked to call him. It was only just in time, since the weather began to cool. It was still mild enough compared to the same season in the Shire, but it would not have been as comfortable for sleeping under the stars.
Bilbo began to develop a routine, much as he had when back at Bag End. He would have his first and second breakfasts in his apartment, usually tea and toast for first breakfast which he would eat sitting at his little desk by the window, and something a little more substantial for his second breakfast which he took at the worktable in his cozy little kitchen. Then he would go to spend the mornings in Elrond’s library, and, with his host’s kind permission would occasionally borrow a tome or two to take back to his own little apartment to read and to copy. He would take luncheon (a meal which seemed to be optional for Elves to Bilbo's amazement) in the big kitchen, where the cooks were delighted to have someone who appreciated their efforts, and Bilbo enjoyed sampling some of their experiments and trading recipes from the Shire with them.
The afternoons he would spend writing, sometimes working on translations and sometimes on his own little doggerel, which was how he thought of his poetry. He would usually have tea by himself, making it in his kitchen, which was well furnished with hobbit-sized dishes and saucepans and pots. Once in a while he could prevail on Master Elrond or one of the other Elves to join him. Most of the Elves seemed quite pleased to have him there and were very friendly, but there were a few who took no notice of him, and one who seemed to avoid him.
That one was the minstrel Lindor. Bilbo had once tried to compliment the fellow on his singing (which was exceptional even among Elves). His "thank you" had been disdainful in tone, and Bilbo overheard him say to another Elf after he thought Bilbo was out of earshot: "How can a mortal appreciate the music of the Eldar?" A younger Bilbo might have been hurt by this, but at his age he could be philosophical about it; Lindor was at least politer than Lobelia. When the time came, he would make sure to say what needed to be said.
After nights spent in the Hall of Fire listening to the Elven music, he would return to his chambers in a daze of pleasant exhaustion, to fall sleepily into his small bed, in the bedroom with the round door.
Autumn was giving way to the crisper air of winter, though Bilbo had been assured that winters in Rivendell were never bitter. One morning Bilbo went into the library to discover a fire had been laid in the hearth there, and the windows, which usually stood open were closed, and the Sun shone in dusty motes through the panes.
The day before, Bilbo had found an area of shelves on which most of the books were written in Westron, rather than the more usual Sindarin or the occasional Quenya. A brief examination showed him that they seemed to be the records of the Northern Kingdoms, and he looked forward to perusing them.
Most of them were bound in grey leather, and were rather large, with the year of the Age on the spine. But as he examined them, he espied a smaller volume, bound in dark brown leather. It had no lettering on spine or cover, and he drew it forth curiously. He carefully opened it to the first page. “Oh my stars!” he exclaimed.
In a very Shire-like hand, the first page read: The Memoirs of Hildifons Took, also Known as Trotter: His Adventures Beyond the Bounds of the Shire. Then he noticed the date, just beneath: The Year 2938, of the Third Age, being 1338 of the Shire Reckoning.
Bilbo felt his heart pounding with excitement. Hildifons Took, his long-lost uncle, had been here in Rivendell at some point in time! Was he finally going to learn his uncle’s fate?
Closing the small tome, he took a deep breath. He had questions. Some of the answers might be in this book, but he had a feeling the Lord of the House could answer more.
Elrond looked up in surprise at the tap upon his study door. It was rather tentative, and came from lower down upon the door--it must be Bilbo. Elrond was puzzled; the hobbit had never seen need to interrupt him during the day before. He wondered was aught amiss. “Please enter, Bilbo,” he said.
The door swung open, and the elderly hobbit padded quietly across the floor, and placed a small brown volume upon Elrond’s desk. Elrond smiled to see it. Bilbo looked at him expectantly.
“Ah! I see you have found out about your predecessor.”
There was a hint of both anger and hurt in the hobbit’s eyes as he looked at his host. “This apparently came to be here only a few years before I came here myself for the first time! Why was I never told?”
Elrond looked at him, and there was a twinkle of fondness in the ancient eyes, though his face remained solemn. “Because your uncle asked that we keep his secret, and we respected his wish. Although I am not certain that Gandalf did not confide in your grandfather. But he had severed all his ties with the Shire. He died shortly after writing out these memories.” Elrond leaned back, and steepled his fingers thoughtfully. “I can see no harm in your knowing now, however. You are his kin; consider the book a gift and an inheritance. I hope that you will understand more after reading it.”
Bilbo stood thoughtfully for a moment. “Thank you,” he said, much mollified by his host’s attitude. “But I do have a question.”
Elrond chuckled. “You are very like your uncle. Ask me.”
“The rooms I have now--those were his, were they not?”
“Yes, Bilbo, they were. You were not the first hobbit to live a well-deserved retirement within these walls. Go now, and read what he has to say, and perhaps you will understand.”
After returning to his rooms, he looked at them with new eyes. Now that he came to think of it, it was clear that the little kitchen and the small bedroom with its round door were not something new, built within the last few months, but had been there for a number of years. He prepared himself a light luncheon, and took it to his sitting room. Settling in next to the hearth, he began to read.
He spent several days reading his uncle's journal, realizing that the two of them had far more in common than was first apparent. But Hildifons' life had turned out more difficult in the end than his own. It was something that gave him furiously to think.
One afternoon there came one of those odd weather days, in which winter seemed to retreat, and it felt more like fall or spring. Bilbo decided to take some fruit and the book outside and wander the gardens of Rivendell. He was still discovering places new to him, even among the paths and grounds nearest the House.
The ground was bare, and save for such plants and trees as stayed ever green, the leaves were gone. There were holly trees, laurel, juniper and bay along a pleasant flagged path. Some of the thyme growing between the pathstones were yet green and gave a pleasant herbal scent. As in most of the gardens small benches and seats had been randomly placed for stopping and resting during a garden stroll. He espied the Lady Arwen seated on one such bench; she also had a book in hand. She looked up and gave him a warm smile.
"Will you not join me, Master Baggins?" She patted the bench next to her.
"Since you are so kind, milady, I will." He set down the little basket with Hildifons' journal and a couple of apples on the end of the bench, as he scrambled up.
"Please, call me Arwen," she said to him as he settled back.
He offered her one of the apples, which she accepted. "Only if you will call me Bilbo," he replied. "The weather is delightful today."
"Today only," she said. "My father tells me the morning will bring frost again." She glanced at the book in the basket. "What are you reading?"
Bilbo took it out and showed her. "It's my uncle's journal. I've finished it, but am still perusing it. Did you know him when he was here?"
She shook her head. "No, I was gone for a number of years visiting my grandparents, when he was staying among us, and never had the chance to meet him then. I always wished that I had done so--my father and brothers speak very fondly of him."
"And what are you reading, mil...I mean, Arwen?"
She lifted out the slim volume bound in blue, the cover lettered in gilded Tengwar.
"Ah," said Bilbo with a grin. "The Lay of Leithian, the tale of Beren and Lúthien."
"Yes, one of my favorite tales." She gave a wistful sigh.
Bilbo glanced up at her slyly. "The Dúnadan left yesterday, didn't he?"
She looked down at him startled, and then laughed. "You are most observant, Bilbo!" He looked up at her with a grin, and gave her a cheeky wink of the eye.
Shaking her head, she laughed again. Truly, the old hobbit was delightful. She foresaw that they would be great friends over time.
The weeks passed, and the weather grew colder. Bilbo had quite lost track of time; he thought that they were still in what was called "Foreyule" in the Shire, but he wasn't sure. He was fairly certain that Yule had not yet come, as the days were not growing longer yet, but he was not sure when the shortest day would come.
He had spent a quiet and fairly normal day, and after a grand supper in the feast hall, he headed for the Hall of Fire. He was surprised when Elrond came up and asked "May I walk with you, Bilbo?"
"Of course...Elrond," he replied. He was still getting used to being on a first-name basis with the Lord of Rivendell. He supposed that over time he would find it easier.
They entered through the wide double doors. "Oh my!" he said.
The hall had been festooned with greenery! Bilbo looked up at his host with joy. "I never expected such a thing!"
Elrond chuckled. "Before he left on his latest patrol, Aragorn took great pains to remind me that the turning of the year holds great significance for your people. And my daughter has been reminding me for the last several days that today was the longest night. Happy Yule, Bilbo Baggins!"
Here is the link to Lindelea's story "The Tenth Walker", in which Merrylegs makes an appearance: "The Tenth Walker"
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