Fireflies - A continuation of the "Darkness Into Light" story arc. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Middle Earth, nor any of the characters or places mentioned in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien in his incredible stories. I am not making any money off of these stories, they are written purely for pleasure, and the intellectual idea of alternate endings. ,_, I promise to bring the "boys" home in time for supper, none the worse for wear after our little adventures. ,_,

The time was high summer, and the hot sun had almost completed its nightly descent into the hills, casting off the daily trappings of deep purple and frosted pink into the evening sky. Two hobbits were sitting on a bench outside one of the many entrances to Brandy Hall, one adult, and one young lass. The adult was the Master of Buckland, but was fondly referred to as "Uncle Merry" by the child seated next to him.

The lass was growing sleepy, and was beginning to list to one side as her eyes slowly closed, eliciting a broad grin from her caretaker. Careful not to jostle her, he shifted slightly, easing himself so that when the lass did fall asleep, her head would fall neatly into his lap. His movements completed, Merry sighed softly, closing his eyes and drinking in all the evening glory surrounding them both. He was startled from his pleasant reverie by a slight tugging at his sleeve, slight, but insistent. Looking down a the now wide-awake child next to him, he saw that she was pointing at something in the distance.

"Uncle Merry, Uncle Merry! What are those lights there in the flowers? Are they little tiny stars? Why are they down here and not up in the sky? Are they lost? Do they need help to find the sky?" the lass asked, worry and puzzlement puckering her brow, large blue eyes wide in concern for the tiny, lost "stars".

Grinning and doing his best not to laugh, Merry answered, "Oh Prim, those aren't stars! Those little lights are fireflies. They come out in the summer to play at night, and that's what the lights are. They are talking to one another with their lights. They aren't lost or lonely."

"Oh," the lass answered, still watching the dancing lights intently.

"Can, can I touch them?" the lass asked after a moments' pause, all tiredness forgotten.

Instead of answering, Merry rose from the bench and set out with careful strides to the nearby flowers. Very soon he gently captured one of the tiny insects, and brought it back to the bench and his waiting niece.

"Oh! Uncle Merry! You caught one! Look, it's lighting up your hand, you can see it there!" Prim giggled as she watched the light peek from between her Uncle's fingers, lighting up the darkness within.

"Certainly, here put out your hand, and let's see if we can encourage the little thing to walk over to you," Merry answered, carefully opening up his own palms to release the glowing insect.

Apparently relieved to have been release from his makeshift prison, the firefly was quick to leave the large hands, but apparently found something pleasantly bug oriented on the smaller hands he was transferred to, crawling about and lighting up his glowing portions every now and again. Primula watched entranced, bringing up the tiny creature to her eye level, her curly bangs just touching her outstretched fingers. After a few moments, the firefly took flight, heading off back into the flowers, participating in the final few lights of the evening before darkness fully enclosed the sleeping world.

The lass watched him go, a huge smile lighting up her face, blue eyes wide in excitement at the novelty of fireflies.

For a few moments the garden was quiet, and Merry settled back down on the bench, content to muse upon the fireflies and their evening dance, the child sitting softly next to him.

Merry was startled a few moments later as the lass once again pulled on his sleeve, begging a question with her eyes.

Looking down at her, wondering what she might be going to ask this time, Merry answered. "Yes Prim?"

"Uncle Merry...fireflies are good bugs, right? They don't hurt anything or eat the flowers, right?"

Puzzled at that turn in conversation, Merry took a moment to think, but not being able to recall any of the Hall's gardeners nor Mayor Samwise ever having complained about fireflies, he felt relatively sure of his answer. "I don't think so Prim, but you might want to ask Sam, he's got more knowledge of bugs and the like than I do. But why do you ask, Lass?"

Sighing to herself, looking for a startling moment so very much like her father that Merry was once again forced to bite back a grin, Primula answered, "I just wondered. Da says that I'm a little firefly sometimes, and I always wondered what he was talking about. An, and I wanted to make sure that fireflies were good bugs, not bad ones that eat plants. But you think they are good bugs, Uncle Merry?"

Finally realizing the nature of the question, Merry was quick to cover any doubt he might have instilled about the goodness of the tiny twinkling insects.

"Ah, I see. Yes, I do believe that fireflies are wonderful little bugs. Every night in the summer they turn on their little lights, and they dance and play and sing their little buggy songs, just to please themselves. And they are such good bugs they even allow other creatures to watch them, and sometimes even stay and hold them for a bit. Fireflies are wonderful bugs, because they bring light into dark places. You can't ask for a better gift than that, my sweet Prim," Merry answered, wondering if the young child sitting so still and quiet next to him fully understood why her father would refer to her with such a name.

"Oh," was the lass's only reply, but a soft smile graced her features, and she snuggled down into her Uncle's lap with a contented sigh, watching as the final few twinkling lights went out around them.

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