The day in which Bilba Baggins was born was a most unusual day.
There had been a great wind blowing through the Shire since that morning when Belladonna felt the first labor pain. Grass and flowers talked excitedly. Birds flitted through the trees spreading the news of the young hobbit’s coming arrival to this plane. Trees whispered to one another, speculating on the future of the child.
Animals were sighted making their way toward Bag End. Dogs tried to leave their master’s side, sheep attempted to leave their fields (much to the shepherd boy’s frustration). Cats disappeared from their owners the entire day, bunnies rabbits and hares were spotted gathering in little rings in the flower meadow behind Bag End. Fawns wobbled along behind their mothers. Elk rested in the wood of aspen trees that were near Bag End.
Then when Belladonna Baggins had begun the arduous process of bringing her child into the world, everything stopped. Every tree, grass blade, and flower seemed to turn toward Bag End. Rabbits bunnies and hares broke from their circles and hopped up to the back door of Bag End. The deer settled down, and soon the fawns had followed their mother’s example. Sheep, goats, and dogs ceased their noise making all over the shire. Everything within the shire that was not a hobbit seemed to sit waiting, waiting. Waiting for what, the hobbits had no clue. The wind began circling around Bag End.
At two in the morning the child was almost free of her mother’s womb.
The wind (which had been whistling around Bag End at a hurried pace) stopped and gathered at the doorstep of the smial. Everything seemed to stand still.
The cry of a child newly brought into the world pierced the heavy silence that hung over the Shire.
As the child cried the wind started up again with joy. It whirled around the Shire singing the news of the child’s birth. Windows rattled and nearly fell off their hinges, smial doors were barely kept closed. Trees bent their heads in the direction of Bag End. Grass, flowers, and crops bowed. The animals that had gathered about Bagshot Row all day let out great cheers that were carried away on the wind as it hurried toward Breeland and beyond bringing tidings of the child’s birth.
Of course the new mother did not notice all this commotion over her daughter. She was tired from the stress of labor, and her eyelids grew heavy as she smiled at the sight of her husband holding their precious little girl. Before she drifted to sleep Belladonna saw her husband hand their tiny daughter over to her dear friend, Gandalf the Grey.
~* * * * * *~
“So what do you think those marks might be?” Gandalf glanced up from the tiny new born in his palm. Bungo Baggins stood by the hearth of his and his wife’s bedroom, anxiety written clearly over his features. Gandalf gave Bungo an amused smile as an answer.
“Dear Bungo, certainly you are afraid of your new born daughter?” Bungo started. The hobbit looked immensely offended then furious. A tiny yawn drew both of the male’s attention back to the small bundle of hobbit in Gandalf’s hand.
“Of course not! It would be more accurate to say I’m afraid for her,” Gandalf gave his new friend a look that prompted him to continue. “Hobbits, as you know by now, don’t like things that’re unusual. Those marks on little Bilba’s palms are about as unusual as unusual things come. I want her to be able to make friends, go run around and cause trouble like any other fauntling.” Bungo took a shuddering breath as Gandalf handed him their daughter.
“I cannot tell you what the marks are, dear Bungo, because I do not know what they are,” Bungo looked into Gandalf’s twinkling eyes. “I might have an idea though. I must go make sure of it first.”
“You’re going to leave? At least stay until Belladonna is well enough again to putter around like she does.”
“I think I may just take you up on that offer. How long did the midwife say it would take for her to recover?” The two men looked now at the sleeping hobbit woman on the bed. Her dark hair was matted down on her face with sweat.
“She said it’d be a week at the most.”
“Then I shall stay a week.”
With that Bungo wrapped Bilba in the swaddling cloth her mother had embroidered for her arrival. He laid her down in the cradle he’d made for her. The new father placed a protective kiss on their daughter’s forehead. After a moment, spent in which the two men stood over the sleeping child, Bungo led Gandalf to the room they’d had built for one his size in anticipation of his staying there.
~* * * * * *~
A week turned in two weeks, which turned in a month, which soon became a year. Gandalf left the Shire morning after Bilba’s first birthday party.
Gandalf urged Belladonna and Bungo to make sure that Bilba never showed her marks to anyone, at least not until he’d returned with some information on what they were.
He kissed Bilba a fond goodbye, and hugged Belladonna with promises to return with whatever information he had as soon as he could. It would’ve been a lie to say that there was a dry eye in Bag End that first night after Gandalf’s departure.
For the first few months of Gandalf’s absence Bilba would rushed to the door every time there was a knock. She broke her mother’s heart a little whenever Belladonna would see her sitting in the foyer; watching the door eagerly awaiting her favorite playmate’s return. After nearly two months of Bilba waiting for her wizard to return. The fauntling gave up waiting for him. Bilba returned to her normal everyday business of being a toddler.
If her head hung lower after that, her parents never mentioned it to her.
~* * * * * *~
The gloves first came to Bilba only two days before the Yule, and only three days after the incident with her mother’s tomatoes. She’d only wanted to hold the fruit in her palm. The fruit had molded and rotted in her hand, Bilba had cried for a full day after that.
It was the first time the potential danger of her abilities became apparent to her and her parents.
The gloves were made of light brown fabric sewn to fit her hands. An ivy vine of dark green thread was embroidered to curl around the thenar space of both her thumbs then wrap around her wrists. White heather flowers, lavender, and blue bells were embroidered in curving circular designs that’re common to hobbit embroidery.
Sewn into the inside of the gloves was an elvish charm taught to her mother during her adventure. It was meant to help conceal and keep hidden.
For a few years it did conceal, until Bilba was six.
She’d been out in the flower meadow behind Bag End and found a dead bird. She picked it up to possibly give it a proper burial, thinking all the time of the music the bird must’ve once made (as is how hobbit funerals are, thinking of how alive the deceased had once been). When vines made of nothing but warm glowing sunlight sprung from beneath her gloves and encompassed the bird. After a few moments the vines receded and the bird sprung back to life and flew away into the clear blue sky; thanking her in its shrill sing song voice.
The brief moment of oddly placed maternal happiness was quickly replaced by cold gripping fear. A fear that caused all the flowers and grass of the meadow to wilt.
Bilba ran back to Bag End. She locked herself in her room (or simply shut the door because hobbit holes very rarely have locks on doors anywhere within exception being the two points of entry).
It was two days before her parents coaxed her out of her room. During which time Bilba gripped at her wrists, and refused to touch her parents. They finally got her to tell them what’d happened while she paced nervously in her father’s study.
“Sweetie, calm down. Getting upset only makes it worse.” Her father’s statement was punctuated by the further wilting of the potted plants within his study. Bilba paced quickly in a short line.
“You said the gloves were supposed to help!” the young girl’s voice rose to a barely contained sob of distress.
“Well then I just need to readjust the size, and put a fresh charm in there.” Belladonna vainly tried to comfort her only child without holding her. At this Bilba recoiled, drawing into herself and backing away from her parents.
“It’s getting stronger! It’s growing!” Her voice brittle as she sobbed the words.
“Look!” Shakily she tore away the gloves to reveal two black thorny vines coiling in a spiral that ended at the flower shaped mark in the center of her palm. The vines had curled a little ways around her wrists. There were small scratches from the thorns that began showing droplets of blood.
Bilba collapsed onto the study floor, sobbing. Belladonna and Bungo moved to comfort her. To which she cried out again, “Don’t touch me!” Then looking at their hurt expressions she clarified “I don’t want to hurt you.”
That night Bilba stayed up and learned how to make her own gloves. She learned the charm her mother had used in her gloves.
Bilba slept curled around her hands.
Belladonna stayed up until dawn making her daughter a second pair of gloves.
In his study Bungo Baggins penned a letter to Gandalf begging him to return to the Shire soon. The letter was sent off the next day with a Ranger friend of Belladonna’s.
Bilba never allowed her parents or anyone to touch her after that.
~* * * * * *~
Summer turned to fall, which in turn became winter. Many years passed, and Bilba was only thirteen when the Fell Winter wreaked havoc on the Shire.
Wolves prowled somewhere outside. The entire Shire was trapped indoors by their fear.
Bilba hated it. She hated the fear she could feel pulsing through the Shire. She wanted to destroy the wolves, to fiercely protect her neighbors. Bilba felt humiliated with how weak she was. Playmates from when she was a fauntling where torn limb from limb. The white of the snow marred by the bright red of their blood.
Those taken to Arda by the wolves the cold or the hunger didn’t get proper burials. No hobbit that died during the fell winter was ever given the rights owed to them. Bilba knew though, she knew that they now tilled the fields of Arda, and were with the Green Mother.
This was little consolation however, because her father was dying.
Bungo lay sick and weak in his bed. He was thin and gaunt, skin pale, and eye unseeing. Bilba knew he was going to die if he didn’t get the medicine that she knew the healers kept on supply. The teen knew this how she knew many strange things she just knew.
Bungo was sunk deep in fever, delirious and delusional; he often forgot who his wife was. The illness he had was called The Wasting amongst hobbits.
Bilba stared out the sitting room window to the white world outside. She clenched her gloved hands. The vines had grown to her elbows, and now Bilba took to wearing long sleeves all year round.
Today Bilba was waiting. Someone was coming; someone who was bringing help, not only for the hobbits but also for her father. She just knew it. The horn of Buckland had sounded two days ago.
There came a great strangled cough from the direction of her parents’ bedroom. The cough escalated to violent hacking. Her mother, and her rushed instantly to Bungo’s side. He was convulsing in bed, her mother began nervously tending to him. Wiping a cold cloth on his forehead, trying to give him water to drink.
He was dying.
Bilba didn’t let herself think about what she was about to do. She ran out of the smial door, her mother shouting after her. She was going to get the healer. She was going to get her father’s medicine, and she was going to make sure he lived. Bilba was done waiting for the help that was on its way. They needed help now, her father needed help now.
She ran as fast as she could through the white powder that had gathered around the Shire. Stopping only when she heard her mother behind her. Belladonna was racing after her daughter, her eyes wide with fear at what being outside in the Shire meant during those days.
Then with a movement that could’ve been mistaken as nothing more than a trick of the sunlight; the two hobbits were surrounded by wolves. Dark hungry eyes flashed at them from beneath white fur, yellow fangs bared, a deep growl like thunder resounding around them.
Bilba trembled against her mother’s side. Her eyes darting for escape. Bilba didn’t like how wolves talked, their voices deep and growling. The wolves were talking about eating them. They were discussing how best to rip them limb from limb.
When with a shrill cry that pierced the air Belladonna rushed forward. She managed to take them by surprise enough that the wolves paused. Belladonna screamed, “Go! Get back to Bag End!”
With a snarl the wolf’s teeth closed around Belladonnas arm. A sickening crunch resounded in Bilba’s ears. She was frozen as she watched blood ooze from between the wolf’s teeth. Everything stood still for a moment as her mother looked into her eyes. Then there was white hot pain across her abdomen as another wolf clenched its fangs around her. Out of the haze of pain and screaming she could see her mother; trapped in the wolf’s mouth as others tore into her with their teeth. A great white body blocked her view for a moment as with a gut wrenching scream Bilba heard rather then saw Belladonna’s head bit into.
Mind foggy, Bilba managed to tear her glove from her hand. The vines that crept up her forearms had become thorny. Thinking only of how her mother had suffered in her final moments, Bilba hit the muzzle of the beast trapping her. She felt in her heart a deep coldness that made her only want for these creatures to suffer as Belladonna had.
Black thorny branches sprung from her bare palm. They wrapped around the wolf which immediately dropped Bilba and began howling in pain. The thorns only became tighter around it as the wolf struggled. Until the howling stopped and the wolf was but a mass of branches and red flesh in the white snow.
Through the haze of her mind Bilba registered someone screaming in agony and anger.
It was drowned out by the snarling behind her. Bilba rounded on the wolves, possibly to make a last stand.
In her mind’s eye she could see the figures racing towards her on horseback, and she knew they would get here before she collapsed from blood loss.
The person was still screaming. Bilba realized it was her.
Bilba clamped her jaw defiantly as she dug her feet into the cold ground and snarled in return at the wolves.
Buy time, all she had to do was buy time until the Rangers and the Grey Wizard reached her. She could do it, she could stall until then.
A tense standoff began between the young hobbit and the white wolves began. The beasts continued growling to each other. They were taunting her in their gruff snarled tongue. Talking about how delicious she’d be, and how delicious her mother had been.
Her heart rate slowed as she watched one tense up to jump on her. In her mind she could see herself charging at the beasts as her mother had done. Her mind conjured up the image of her with her mouth wide open as she screamed a hoarse battle cry.
Then as if in a dream the wolf sprang forward to her, yellow teeth bared, dark eyes flashing. As sudden as the move to pounce had been; the wolf was down. Pierced in the side by an arrow shot by one of the Rangers.
Bilba sank to her knees in the snow. She glanced only a moment at her mother’s headless corpse, before turning her gaze to the blood that was soaking her dress. She registered dimly the Rangers chasing after the wolves. The noises around her became muffled. Like the time her Took cousins had tried to teach her to swim and instead she’d simply sunk to the bottom of the water.
She then thought of her glove, the glove she’d removed in a stupid whim of anger. The thorns were making her hands and forearms bleed. People would see her strange marks, and she would hurt someone. Bilba couldn’t let that happen. Despite her wooziness she began frantically digging through the snow. Her glove had to be there somewhere, it just had to be.
As her vision became blurry she saw it, being handed to her by a withered elderly hand. She looked up at the kindly face of Gandalf. His eyes twinkled with worry, and apology that he hadn’t arrived sooner.
Bilba only managed a strangled “Thank you Gandalf.” Before she slipped into the darkness that was framing her vision.
~* * * * * *~
When Bilba awoke the first thing she was aware of was the fact that she was in bed. The second was that there were voices arguing in the sitting room.
She sat up slowly, wincing all the while. She gritted her teeth against the burning sensation of the stitches and bandages. Bilba groped in the dark for her gloves, before she realized they were already on her hands. Her room never seemed so large and dark as she walked slowly from her bedside to her door.
Opening the door slowly so as to make sure it didn’t creak. She poked her head out of her room; looking up and down the hallway. It was dimly lit by the fire burning in the sitting room, and so she had no trouble of vision creeping down the hall using the wall as support. She could hear their voices much more clearly now as she paused for breath near her father’s study.
“I won’t allow her to go!” That was her father’s voice. Bungo’s sick addled voice sounded angry; Bilba had never heard her father angry. She’d heard him testy and annoyed before, yes, but never angry like he was now.
“Dear Bungo, she will need it. Now more than ever it is important that she be somewhere that can teach her about what she is.” That deep voice was the wizard Gandalf’s. Bilba stopped cold in her tracks as a weight sunk down upon her stomach when a realization hit her. They were talking about her.
“She won’t want to go! Not now! Especially not since her mother is now gone.” Bungo’s voice broke at the mention of Belladonnas fate at the hands of the wolves. The sentence puttered out into shaky breaths. Bilba inched forward until she was leaning against the wall next to the sitting room doorway. Her head was spinning, and she felt like she was going to be sick.
“I tell you Bungo that I know people who can not only tell her what her marks mean, but can also help her to learn how to use it. She has a great gift. Bilba must learn to control it so that she may not harm others.” Her eyes slid shut as sweat formed on her brow.
If she left the Shire who would care for her father? She was kidding herself on that one. Bilba knew the Gamgees would care for her father with all the loyalty they’re famous for. She could learn to control it; she could learn what she was.
Taking a shuddering breath Bilba pushed herself away from the wall. Swinging around until she was in the doorway of the sitting room. A fire burned bright in the hearth of the room. The two men were staring each other down. She coughed to announce her presence. Both swung to look at her.
“Bilba you should go back to bed-” Bungo began.
“I want to go.” She looked to her father as she said this. Bilba turned to Gandalf next. “I want to know what I am Gandalf. If you know of others who can tell me; then take me to them as soon as I am well again. I don’t want to hurt people.”
Bungo looked defeated, Gandalf just looked thoughtful. All Bilba knew was that she was dangerous, and had to get out of the Shire before she hurt someone she cared about.
~* * * * * *~
The Rangers brought with them rations, medicine, and security. They slayed all the wolves and drove whatever was left out of the Shire.
Bilba healed quickly in the physical sense only. She would have nightmares frequently about that day.
The snow had melted away, and flowers had begun to spring up. She was fully healed now, and so she set off for Rivendell mid-spring.
The trees, flowers, and grass all bowed and swayed in goodbye as she passed. Animals called her and wished her good fortune and good health. The birds followed her well past Breeland; they often sung to her. The wind followed her and stayed with her for as long as the birds did. Bilba had no doubt the birds and the wind would’ve stayed with her all the way to Rivendell and back if she hadn’t told them to go carry on.
Bilba knew that one day she would have to return to the Shire. She did not let these thoughts bog her down, she was going to Rivendell. She was going to learn how to control her abilities.
Bilba would make sure she never hurt another living thing again.