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An Extra Burgler

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"Cassia! Cassia! Cassia!" A horde of small children come barrelling around a corner and mob the young Hobbit lady.

"Whoa, there," she laughs, holding her arms out for balance as they clump around her skirts, one taking the gesture as invitation and leaping into her arms. "What's all this about?" She asks, wrapping her arms around the lass's legs, sitting her on her hip.

"Tell us the story about the dragon!" The children yell in unison.

Cassia raises an eyebrow. "That's a long story. And haven't you heard it already?"

"But it's the best one!" A little brunette boy near her knee says.

"Well, it is a good one," Cassia concedes. "But it's not just about a dragon."

"We know!"

She leads the children to a patch of sunlight and sits down, gathering them around her. "Oh do you? What's it also about?"



"A battle!"




"An adventure?"

"Yes, you're all right!" Cassia pushes a blonde lock of hair out of the eyes of the little boy leaning against her knee. "What about you, little one? What do you think it's about?"

He takes his thumb out if his mouth with a pop. "Home?"

Cassia grins. "It's about home, too. But for me, it's a story about love."

All the children cry out with varying levels of disgust and she laughs.

“That’s yucky!” the dark-haired boy from before shouts. “No one wants to hear about kissing!”

“Don’t you worry,” Cassia assures him, “It’s not just about the kissing kind of love."

"Oh really?" he challenges, "what other kinds of love even is there?"

"Oh, lots and lots," she says. "This story is about all of them, I think."

"What are they?" The lass who leapt into her arms asks.

"There's romantic love, of course," Cassia says, and the children cry out again, but she continues on doggedly, "but! But there's also love between friends, and love between family, love for your king, and love for your home. And would you believe this story is about all of them.”

“How does it start?” The blonde boy asks.

“It starts like this: In a hole in the ground, there lived two hobbits…