Crimson Sunrise - Chapter 9
"Yes, and that's not even the odd part. The strangest thing was when the bird..." Bungo trailed off as a shriek came from Bilbo's room down the hall. He looked to Gandalf in alarm- Gandalf was giving Belladonna (who had come in from the kitchen at the noise) an equally perplexed look. The three quickly walked the hall to where the noise had come from, putting their heads inside the doorway cautiously.
The sight that greeted them was undoubtedly a strange one. Jessina was slumped up against the wall, looking as though she was sleeping. Bilbo stood nearby, but not quite close enough to touch her. He crept nearer and nearer as they watched, and just as he extended a pudgy hand to poke her cheek, her arms shot out and grabbed him, pulling him into her lap, where she relentlessly tickled him until he was red in the face. Bilbo's screams of laughter had been what they heard, mingled with Jessina's own giggles. The three sighed with relief and smiled broadly.
"Bilbo seems to like you," Belladonna stated, hands-on-hips as she watched the game. Jessina looked up, startled, and blushed.
"He's very adorable." Bilbo was trying to push her back to the wall so they might play another round.
"Well, I'm sorry to interrupt, but supper's served," Belladonna said. Bilbo frowned.
"I want play," he said, mimicking his mother's stance by placing his hands on his hips. She shook her head firmly.
"Our guests are hungry. You can play with her later tonight. Now come, let's wash you up before you eat. I made a pie," she said, winking. Bilbo eagerly ran to her and she picked him up and carried him out. Jessina stood, and straightening her dress followed Gandalf into the kitchen.
In her opinion, the kitchen/dining room area was the cheeriest part of the house. Filled with the wonderful smells of Belladonna's equally wonderful food and the flowers that seemed to be everywhere- as well as a drawing or two from Bilbo and the trinkets he found lining the walls- it seemed to be the most lived-in room of the place. She took a seat at the large table (large for a hobbit at least, it was still a bit small for her) and watched as the others entered the room.
Bungo was a very hardy hobbit, not what she would have called fat, but rather, festively plump. He had a slightly-tanned face, with only the first few wrinkles of fatherhood beginning to show around his mouth and eyes. His eyes were a deep brown that sparkled in the warm candlelight, and sandy-brown hair covered both his head and feet, which was mildly wavy and only first beginning to thin out on the very top of his head. He often smiled and laughed- which was a deep, rich sound, as was his voice.
Belladonna was very beautiful, to put it shortly. She had gray eyes of the same shade as Bilbo's, but unlike his, her hair was a brown so dark it was almost black. Bilbo apparently got his curls from her, however- these she had tied back in a bun, but constantly they slipped out and fell into her eyes- thus it was a habit of hers to always blow or brush at her forehead with a hand, even though sometimes no hair had fallen there. Her cheeks were a rosy pink that almost matched her pale red lips, and she always seemed to be doing something- whether it was wiping her hands on her apron or brushing away a curl or picking Bilbo up to keep him out of something, she never stopped moving- a symptom of being a mother. She was now bringing to the table what looked like a chicken, then rushing back in for a platter of corn, then back for carrots, and peas, and thus until the table was loaded with bread, potatoes, butter, milk, apples, cheese, mushrooms, and beans. The table seemed to groan under the weight of all the food, but they simply sat down, and talking excitedly, began to load their plates. Jessina looked to Gandalf in surprise- he gave her an amused grin.
"Clearly, my dear, you have much to learn of hobbits," Gandalf said, taking an ear of corn. Jessina shrugged- and suddenly her stomach growled with enough force, it seemed, to rattle the table. She grinned sheepishly as all talk ceased and the three hobbits looked at her.
"My goodness, eat!" Belladonna said, gesturing to the table. "I made extra, no need to worry about that. You're starving, dear!" she said with a concerned look.
"Won't have anyone goin' hungry at my table, no sir," said Bungo, nodding in agreement with his wife.
Jessina was hungry, that was certain, but not wanting to seem rude she took only a little chicken, some peas, milk, and bread. She soon learned however, that how much you ate was of no care to hobbits, as they most likely would eat more anyways. At their insistence she loaded her plate again once she had finished, and again, until it seemed she could eat no more. After there was little more than scraps left on the table, Belladonna got up and began to clear it while Bungo pushed back his chair and wiped his mouth happily. Jessina rose to help her, but she shook her head firmly as she had done with Bilbo.
"Don't worry my dear, you're a guest. No need to help, I can get it myself." Jessina sat back down slowly and listened to the talk of Gandalf and Bungo.
From what she heard, Gandalf, it seemed, was a wizard widely known around the area, but not always with greeted with a smile as he seemed to be one of the oddities to the hobbits he had explained to her earlier that day. But apparently he had been friends with Belladonna's father, whom they referred to as "the Old Took". She had taken to him when she was a young hobbit-lass, mostly because the stories he told of far-off lands he had visited appeased her oddly adventurous side.
A wizard? she thought, pondering what it might mean. She would have to ask Gandalf later.
"It's time for pie!" Belladonna said, as she brought in an enormous, still-hot apple pie from the kitchen. With the pie came freshly-picked berries and cream, as well as a few seed cakes. Jessina found that somehow she was able to eat a huge slice of pie as well as a cake and berries with cream. Finally, with a sigh she pushed her chair back from the table. Belladonna was already in the kitchen washing dishes.
"Would you like some help with those?" Jessina called, stepping into the kitchen. She could hear Belladonna's cheery voice rise in a quiet tune as she worked.
"That's really alright, go ahead with the others."
"At least let me keep you company," she said, kneeling and picking up a cup from the basin filled with soapy, hot water. She took a spare towel from the edge and began to scrub. Belladonna smiled as she sighed.
"I see there's no refusing you." Jessina laughed. They washed in silence for a moment, each lost in her own deep thoughts.
"It's not every day that Gandalf brings someone with him," she said quietly after a moment. "Where are you from?"
"I don't know." Jessina sighed. "Gandalf says I was found on shore. He and Voronde- an elf and healer at the Gray Havens- had to nurse me back to health. I don't remember anything before that." She went back to washing a plate, and both were silent again.
"Dessina..." both started at Bilbo's voice from behind them. "You said you play with me"
"But Bilbo, I'm helping your mom now." Belladonna shook her head.
"There's not so many left. You go ahead and play with him. But Bilbo," she said, turning to the small hobbit, "when I'm done here you're going to go to bed."
"But Gandalf said to tell stowy," he said, his voice quivering. "Want to listen." Belladonna sighed, and then smiled.
"I suppose you can stay up for tonight. But I don't want you to be grumpy tomorrow, alright?" Bilbo nodded eagerly and began to pull on Jessina's arm. She quickly dried her dripping hands on a towel then allowed him to lead her into the sitting room, where Gandalf and Bungo were once again talking.
"I have `nother game I show you," Bilbo said, smiling contentedly. He made her sit down and began digging in a small chest by the fireplace, from which he brought handfuls of wooden blocks with pictures painted on the sides. She laughed- his hands were too small to carry many at once and they kept falling out of his grasp. Finally he had a reasonably-sized pile near her feet. "I show you to make house, okay?" he said, smiling up at her eagerly. She nodded and grinned as she watched him build- though she could not help but feel a pang of sorrow. There was something so familiar about him, something she just couldn't place...
"You build now," Bilbo said, pushing blocks into her lap. Her thoughts fled and she smiled again, building the block house as the small hobbit-lad instructed her.
(Hello again everyone! I've got loads to do for school and such, as usual... *sigh* So I'm going to ask that if you read it, please post a comment, even if it just says some random nonsense world such as "moose." lol... I just want to make sure that at least some people are reading. Thank you!!! )