It Is A Fine Night by Celeritas

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Story Notes:

Theme: Potluck/Recycling (Summertime July Challenge)
Elements: The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon.
Author's Notes: Since I did not, as promised, pick up more prompts, I decided rather than drabbling this prompt to do the obligatory "prompt gets repeated everywhere, skipping scenes" fic. There is one OC at the end, but she should not detract from the rest of the tale even if you don't know about her.


July 1342

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

Bilbo didn’t know if it was all those nights in the wild that had done it, or whether it was that Elvish poetry. But sometimes, when the bed suddenly felt too soft (he hoped he would get over that; it was so bothersome that such comfort should, at times, make him restless!) and his feet began to twitch he got the urge to go outside, breathe the night air (so rich and heady in the summer) and gaze upwards. As if the stars ever changed from night to night, and as if they needed looking at! He snorted. Two years ago he would have scoffed at the very idea—but then again, he was not the sort of hobbit he had been two years ago. And so, muttering to himself about precisely what sort of fellow he had turned into, he stepped out of bed and out of doors, and walked to the top of Bag End and lay down. He had heard such wondrous things about them from the Elves—the seven stars that made up the Sickle, the sign of Elbereth in defiance of Morgoth all those years ago. It had been like drinking red wine for the first time: his head had whirled, and he feared that if he had much more it would be quite muddled, but he had wanted it all the same. And the Lonely Star, which the Elves called Eärendil, and Gil-Estel, the Star of Hope. There was a story behind that, he knew it, but if he had heard it he had quite forgotten it among everything else. It was important, wasn’t it? No matter—he had a life ahead of him, and enough adventuring for now, and he could find out.

 

Somehow it helped, being out here. The Took in him was soothed: he felt closer to the Wild and the people he had met, and closer to that great Past, that great world that was out there and had been and would continue to be, regardless of Bilbo Baggins. He would continue to go outside at night, and hang what anyone else said about the matter.

 

* * *

 

June 1402

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

He missed him fiercely, but not quite as badly when he was outside stargazing. For after all, was not his uncle doing the same, night after night, wherever he was on the Road? Maybe he recalled the names of all the stars, just as he had taught Frodo himself during those early days of his fostering when he still couldn’t get to sleep. Maybe he remembered him, and smiled. Someday, perhaps, Frodo would follow him, but he still felt so small and Bag End was secure. And Bilbo would want it this way, anyhow.

 

Perhaps, next time his young cousins came over for a visit, as they had done so often when Bilbo was still master of the hole, he would take them outside at night, just as his uncle had with him, and teach them the names of the stars.

 

Yes. He was quite sure Bilbo would like that.

 

* * *

 

Mid-year’s Day 1419

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

There was revelling in the streets below, but up here it seemed distant, which was just the way Frodo liked it. Too many people about for too long a time ran the risk of his losing his mind, or at least fraying his nerves. It was much better to sit apart from the world, let it continue going along its merry way while he stopped and simply thought.

 

Until, at least, he was found out. “Frodo, what in the name of the Shire and all its inns are you doing up here?” Turning his head to the source of the voice, he saw Merry’s head poking up through the trapdoor.

 

“I wanted to sit and think,” he said.

 

“Good heavens! Up here? I thought you had gotten yourself drunk and fallen down a well.” Merry finished climbing up the ladder and joined him, carrying a few pastries wrapped in cloth.

 

“It’s probably the closest to the stars we’ve ever been.”

 

“If it hadn’t been snowing up on Caradhras, maybe—”

 

“Maybe, yes. And of course, there were no stars—there, in the Black Land, for all was shadow and dust—”

 

“I saw one,” came Sam’s voice from below.

 

“What?” Frodo shouted back down. “Don’t you want to come up and have a look, Sam?”

 

“No, sir, begging your pardon.”

 

“It can’t be any worse than in Lórien, Sam. And they are ever so beautiful.”

 

And with a good deal of cajoling and wheedling Sam came up, but only for a short while.

 

“Which star was it?” said Frodo.

 

“What?”

 

“The one that you saw there?”

 

“I shouldn’t know,” said Sam. “But it didn’t twinkle like the others—it shone all steady-like, like there was a world beyond there that would keep on being beautiful even if the worst happened.”

 

“There aren’t many stars like that,” said Frodo. “Where was it on the horizon?”

 

“Low, if I remember aright.”

 

“That won’t tell us much, unless you knew what time of evening it was. But look—” and his hand guided Sam’s eyes to Eärendil where he lay near to setting.

 

“I’d say it were that one,” said Sam, “though I wouldn’t vouch for it.”

 

“The Star of Hope,” said Frodo. “Maybe the Lady was looking out for us after all.”

 

* * *

 

August 1422

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

At least, that was what Sam told himself. He wasn’t sure if that was the real reason, or the only one, that he was out here all alone, when he should be abed. When his eyes automatically sought out the Lonely Star in the West he knew it was not. Look to the stars, his Master said, for I shall see the same, but it didn’t make him feel any better.

 

* * *

 

July 1446

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

She knew the names of them every one, from her father (and she had a feeling she knew who had told him), and she would pass it on to her children and her children’s children. And they were all so marvellous and so beautiful and every one of them had a tale if she could only learn to tell it. Not that she didn’t know the best ones by heart, and the one that was Light before Sun and Moon and the holiest jewel and that gave her father light and hope in the darkest of lands. Once, when he was telling her about it, his voice had broken. And she had wondered about it at the time and now she thought she knew, for she was losing her heart to someone—not a friend, but a lover—and if she were parted from him she thought she’d go mad. One day, she knew Dad would join Frodo, over there. But it was not yet: he was out here with her, his arm around Mum as they lay on the grass.

 

So she smiled, and took Fastred’s hand in hers, and began to guide it towards the stars as they shone. “Do you want to hear a story, love?”

 

* * *

 

June 1537

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

Harding would miss the children of the White Downs—one of the few things he would miss, actually, whenever he did go back home. Sometimes, if they were young enough, sense had not won out over imagination. And none of them ever judged. So he went around and knocked on a few doors and talked to a few parents, and when enough of them were rounded up he found a hill in a fallow field and had them all lie down on their backs.

 

“Now, find the seven stars shaped like a plough. Do you see the last two? If you follow them straight off the plough’s back into the sky, you’ll find the North Star, and from it you can learn all the other directions. It’s said the reason the plough was shaped that way, around the North Star, was because, long ago, there was an Enemy in the North, and the plough was a sickle circling it, telling him his time was limited and watching him even when it looked as if no one else was.”

 

After the lesson was done, many of the children were asleep, but others of them had starlight in their eyes. He wished he could capture it forever, before it was quenched by the daily grind of reality the way it had been in so many others.

 

* * *

 

August 1549

 

The stars glittered against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It was a fine night to go out and have a look.

 

Kira’s heart always weighed on her this time of year, because everything was too bright and beautiful to last and she knew it. But she would not yield such moments as these for all the world, fleeting as they were.

 

And somehow, looking at the stars and thinking of who else through all the long ages had looked at them and loved them, she did not feel as lonely as she normally did, isolated and starved in this paperless wilderness. Gazing west, she thanked Elbereth and asked for her help, as she had done year after year. Maybe this time it would be enough to make a difference.

 

* * *

 

The stars glitter against the indigo sky, not a cloud to be seen, nor a sliver of moon. It is a fine night to go out and have a look.




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