Characters: Hobbits, Bilbo, Frodo
Source: Pre-Ring War
Disclaimer: Tokien’s map and characters… Kortiron’s ambience
Bilbo strode along, cheerfully remarking each time Frodo wavered on their long, increasingly snowy walk – ‘this is nothing, lad. Why when I travelled through the Misty Mountains…’ and Bilbo was off on reminiscences both familiar and exciting.
Bilbo paused, looked around; the fields had become increasingly difficult to navigate as thick snow blanketed the landmarks on their way to Tuckburrow. He rummaged in his pack.
“Here we are lad, my old compass, dwarfish-made. Soon be there. Nice hot crumpets for tea, eh?”
Frodo nodded wearily.
“Why don’t I show you? Useful skill, compass-reading, you never know when you’ll need it.”
Next day… The mansion-smials’ duck- pond was shallow enough to freeze solid. Pippin and Frodo were out early. Bilbo came to call them to breakfast, but he couldn’t resist a slide…
His arms swung like weathervanes in a cyclone when the slippery ice proved too much; he sat down heavily with a noticeable thud. Pippin tittered behind his hand, while his older cousin, Frodo, made haste to Bilbo’s assistance.
They were there as guests for the wedding of Anemone Took to one of the Brandybucks. Perverse, to wed in winter, said some, but Anemone was adamant – it was her day!
After a satisfying breakfast it was agreed some should climb the hill above Stock Road to look out for the wedding party coming from Brandy Hall. They’d planned to overnight at the inn after Woodhall, but that left 30 miles, and in this weather it would be slow… that’s if they made it, muttered some.
Bilbo produced his leather-cased telescope; the Tooks crowded around to look at this novelty.
Anemone stamped her foot, her day would be perfect and Bungo Brandybuck had better get there in time!
“But it’d be a good excuse if he didn’t,” Bilbo whispered to Frodo.
It was sunset, and worryingly late. They’d taken wood up the hill to light a beacon, and provide a bit of warmth for those left on look-out duty. The cooks had pots of soup boiling and hot bread warming for those in and out, both checking the road, and finishing off the winter greenery decorations in the big hall. Anemone’s mother alternately scolded, praised and lapsed into vapours at the thought of the preparations going awry.
“A horseshoe – we must hang a holly horseshoe above the hearth for luck!”
Just then the shout went up, Pippin dashed in. ‘They’re here!’
The carts rolled in, filled with Brandybucks muffled in furs, scarves and blankets; teeth chattering, they were led to the blazing hearths of the mansion-smials and served cups of soup, hot tea, and tots of brandywine… though a few already seemed to have had several nips from ‘medicinal’ hip-flasks, ‘just to keep the cold out’. Grandpa Brandybuck kept losing his expensive new spectacles because they crookedly slid down his nose.
“Where’s Bungo?” wailed Anemone.
The guests looked confused, surely he was here? He’d ridden with his little cousin Merry…
“Here”, shouted Frodo, “The pony lost a shoe – I found them.”
The following day, the wedding morning was bright and sunny under a blue sky. The younger hobbits made an honour guard of snow-hobbits down both sides of the courtyard and cleared and salted a path for Anenome and her bridesmaids to arrive by.
Bungo, dressed in his best, waited nervously in the main hall, then the little band struck up and the guests craned their necks to see the bride arrive… nothing happened. The band began again, there was murmuring…
Pip sneaked quickly into a seat beside Frodo, giggling.
“Anemone slipped over – her dress flew up… I saw her drawers!”