(Written in 2005 for the 20_rings community on LiveJournal)

Title: Bullroarer
Theme: Set #1, Theme #13 "Legend"
Genre (s): fluff
Pairing (s): N/A
Rating: G
Notes: Frodo is 24, Sam is almost 13, Merry has just turned 11, and Pippin is just barely 3. ( 15, 8, 7 and 2 in Man Years)
Summary: Bilbo tells the lads a story about one of their relations...

BULLROARER

The faunt climbed up to his knee. Bilbo looked down into a pleading pair of wide green eyes. " 'tory, Bi-bo! Pip want 'tory."

He lifted him up and settled him on his lap, and looked at the others in the room, Frodo on the chair across from him and Merry on the floor by his cousin's knee, Sam sitting shyly next to Merry, and looking up with almost as much eagerness as Pippin, and Eglantine on the settee with Vinca in her lap, and Pearl and Pimmie on either side. Paladin, having business in nearby Overhill, had dropped his wife and children off for a visit.

Eglantine's lips twitched. She knew exactly how much resistance the old bachelor had to her youngest. Pip looked up through long dark lashes expectantly, and stuck his thumb in his mouth.

"Ahem. So, then, Peregrin, you want a story?"

The lad nodded his head.

"Hmm…what should I tell?" He noticed Merry, quite ready to speak up and make a request-the Brandybuck lad almost always wanted the 'Battle of Five Armies'-but he held up his hand and shook his head. That one was not appropriate for a faunt , nor for the little lasses. Merry subsided, disappointed.

Sam's favorite, the riddles with Gollum, was also a bit too dark and frightening for present company, and Frodo loved stories of the Elves, which were too melancholy. And he was in the mood for something a bit different this afternoon…ahh, he had it!

"Since our visitors are Tooks, I think that I shall tell a story of one of their Tookish relations. How does that sound, young Pippin?"

The little one nodded again. He didn't much care what story Bilbo told, he just loved to hear the old hobbit's "story-telling voice", so different and more amusing than his everyday voice-soothing, exciting and funny by turns. Pippin at that age would have been happy for Bilbo to recite his grocery list, so long as he used that voice.

Bilbo slipped into it now.

"Long ago-many generations back, there was a Took. This Took was the brother of the one who was Thain back then, Ferumbras the second. He was great- uncle to Gerontius, the Old Took. His name was Bandobras." Bilbo saw Frodo and Eglantine smile, for they had heard this one; Merry and Pearl nodded, for though they had not heard the story before, they did know their family trees.

"But this story happened when Bandobras and his brother were only tweens, long before Ferumbras became Thain. Bandy and Ferry, as they were called, were both strapping lads-uncommonly large and tall for hobbits, both already overtopping their father. But Bandy was even taller and stronger than his older brother, and being only in his mid-tweens, had yet to get all his growth.

The two brothers were very good friends, as does not always happen with brothers, but being so close in age, they had developed a friendly but fierce rivalry, and they often dared one another to do some very interesting things, some of which I am afraid their parents would not at all have approved. From jumping ditches to raiding crops to snatching undergarments off the washing lines of lasses and finding strange and unusual places to display them to snatching pies from the sills of kitchen windows-it is said the song 'One Hundred Apple Pies' was started by them-there was not much mischief that they had not found in which to indulge. They never got caught, amazingly enough, and though everyone was sure who had perpetrated each outrage there was never any proof. As the lads were kind-hearted and cheerful and uncommonly comely, most folk just looked the other way, or shook their heads and chuckled."

Merry looked up at Frodo, who grinned back at him with a wink. The two of them had found mischief enough in Buckland, in spite of the difference in their ages.

"One day, the two lads had slipped out after luncheon. I am very much afraid they were playing truant, for they had been expected to report to one of their older cousins for lessons. But they were not much for learning, those lads, and often gave their poor cousin a hard time when he set them lessons. They often slipped away or sometimes played pranks on him. But he was fond of them all the same, I am afraid, and so he seldom punished them or reported their misbehavior to their father, who would not have been at all amused.

They had taken their fishing poles, and some food they had raided from the larder, including a jug of ale-which at their age they should not have had in that quantity-and set off cross-country.

They spent the afternoon wetting their lines and their whistles. They caught no fish, but made themselves rather merry by finishing all the ale. The time passed, and as it drew on for teatime, they decided to head back to the Great Smials in order not to miss the meal.

As they passed the farm of one of their tenants, arms around one another's shoulders, and singing 'Hey Laddie, Laddie' rather loudly, Bandy stopped singing.

'Look, brother,' he said.

'What am I looking at?' asked Ferry.

'There's Old Red.' He pointed.

Old Red belonged to the tenant farmer, who was I believe, a Grubb. He was a bull renowned for his temper, and he was minding his own business in the middle of the field quietly enough.

Bandy looked at Ferry. 'I dare you.'

'Dare me to what?' giggled his older brother.

'Pick some flowers for mother' laughed Bandy. I am afraid he would not have thought that such a bright idea if they had not consumed such a quantity of ale.

Ferry gave his younger brother a grin, and ducked between the rails of the fence, and began to pick some of the meadow flowers that grew in the field in abundance. Bandy leaned over the top rail and encouraged his brother. Ferry gradually moved further and further into the field. The bull still paid him no mind. But the further he went, the more Bandy began to be afraid this might not have been such a lovely idea after all.

'Ferry, that's enough! Come on, we'll be late for tea!'

Ferry turned and laughed, and called 'Don't be such a worry wart, Bandy!'

Bilbo leaned forward, and his voice suddenly became more ominous.

"That was a ba-ad mistake!" Pippin looked up with a gasp, his eyes very round, and took his thumb out. This was Cousin Bilbo's exciting voice!

"The bull looked up for the first time, and seeing his field had been invaded, raised his head, stamped the earth, and gave a mighty snort.

'Look out, Ferry!' Bandy called.

His brother turned and saw the bull was watching him, an angry gleam in the beady eyes! He started to run, which was another mistake, as the bull decided to charge!

Poor Bandy! He was frightened for his brother. He leaped over the top rail and gave a mighty roar, to distract the animal's attention! It worked! Suddenly, Old Red was focused on Bandobras instead of Ferumbras! He changed directions. Ferry had gained his feet, and was nearly to the fence, when he saw the danger had turned to his brother!

He gave a forceful yell, which drew attention to himself once more, and then ran to the fence! But Bandy gave another roar, and whipped off his red weskit, which he began to wave about in a most distracting manner.

Well, of course, everyone knows one should never do such a thing with a bull, but Bandy was determined to protect his brother!

Enraged the bull made for Bandy! Now Ferry was already over the fence and screaming for his brother to hurry! The farmer had heard the commotion and was also headed toward the field, followed by his wife and sons-he was terrified that he was about to witness a tragedy!

Bandy was nearly to the fence-suddenly, he turned and flung the weskit! It flew through the air and landed right over the bull's head, covering his eyes, and caught by his horns he could not throw it off! He ceased his mad charge and began to jump about in circles, for of course he could not see! It gave Bandy just enough time to leap over the fence into the arms of his terrified brother. But I am afraid that was the end of the lovely red weskit, which had been a gift of his mother, for the bull completely destroyed it in the efforts to get it off his head.

Now the farmer, over his fright that one or both, of the Thain's sons would be hurt or even killed on his farm, was furious. For all that the lads were larger than he, he marched them home to their father by the ears.

The Thain, as you can expect, was most vexed with them, and for once they reaped the consequences of their foolish actions, for they had to go the farmer's place for a week and muck out his stables. And the Thain had a word with their cousin. After that, they had to produce for their father's inspection each day the lessons they were set.

But of course, the word of their exploit got 'round quite quickly, and Bandy soon found himself with a new nickname: Bullroarer."

Eglantine and Frodo were chuckling; they had heard this particular bit of family history before, but not for a while, and Bilbo told it well. The lasses were round eyed with excitement, Sam was nodding in agreement with the ending of the story. Merry had a speculative gleam in his eye-Frodo noticed, and knocking his knuckles on his younger cousin's head, whispered "Don't even think about it, Meriadoc Brandybuck."

And Pippin? Well, after the exciting part was over, and Bilbo got to the soothing part at the end, he had slipped off into sleep, and was snoring ever so gently in Bilbo's arms.