5

Title: "A Talent for Magic"

Author: Darkover

Rating: K

Disclaimer: The characters of "Lord of the Rings" were created by J.R.R. Tolkien, not by me, and I am not pretending otherwise. This story was written for love, not for money; no infringement of copyright is intended.

Summary: The hobbits discover their own talent for magic.

~ooo0ooo~

"They won't believe it when we get home to the Shire," Merry was saying to the other three hobbits, as they sat comfortably in the quarters in Minas Tirith provided for them by the King. "Not only did Frodo and Sam complete the Quest against impossible odds—" Frodo self-consciously concealed his maimed hand at these words—"but we've seen people and things that other hobbits have never even dreamed of."

"Ents!" Pippin said.

"Oliphaunts!" Sam said.

"Wizards. Kings and Queens," Merry added.

"Elves," Frodo said, rather dreamily.

"You're right there, Mr. Frodo!" Sam exclaimed. "I won't forget any of the Fair Folk—Lady Galadriel, Lord Elrond, Legolas, and all. There's no better folk for doing magic."

"What about Gandalf?" Merry asked.

"Mr. Gandalf's different," Sam replied. "Magic is like a tool for him, part of his job, if you take my meaning. Whereas with the Elves, it's as if magic is a part of them, part of their nature."

"I think you may have something there, Sam," Frodo said. "Certainly it is something wonderful, quite outside our experience as hobbits."

"I wouldn't say that," Pippin protested. "When it comes to doing magic, I think hobbits are among the most skillful people in all of Middle-earth."

Bursts of laughter followed this comment, with Sam shaking his head and smiling as Merry said; "Don't be silly, Pip! Honestly, Gandalf is right, you can be a bit of a fool sometimes."

"Let him explain," Frodo insisted, seeing a look of hurt in the eyes of the youngest hobbit. "Can you tell us what you mean, Pippin?"

"Right, Pippin," Sam said. "I'm a hobbit, and I'm one of the least magical persons about, I'm sure."

"But that's not true, Sam," the young Took said earnestly. "You can make almost anything grow, and grow beautifully, under almost any conditions."

"Well, that's hardly magic. That's just being a good gardener, as my dad taught me."

"But that's part of what I mean," Pippin insisted. "Hobbits in general are very good at encouraging things to grow, although you and the Gaffer are even better at it than most." He turned to his Baggins cousin. "Frodo, you and Bilbo are both so smart, so good at reading and writing, including Elvish languages. Bilbo is even writing a book!"

"One I hope the old dear will finish," the former Ringbearer replied with a smile. "He's been working on it for as long as I can remember."

"Even so," the young Took said stubbornly, "Bilbo is bringing something into existence that wasn't there before, and when he finishes it, he will have shared his adventure with lots of people—anyone who reads his book. And even though there are hobbits who don't know their letters, almost all hobbits can tell a good story."

Merry was frowning pensively as he considered this. Frodo said thoughtfully; "So, if I understand you, Pippin, you're saying that any creative act is magic?"

"That's exactly right! And oh, I nearly forgot—!" Pippin suddenly got up and ran out of the room, leaving the other three hobbits staring after him. A moment later, he returned, bearing a loaded platter that made the other three exclaim with delight as they saw what he carried.

"I went mushroom-hunting earlier," he explained, "and then I was able to beg the cook's indulgence for a time. He gave me some cheese, breadcrumbs, and spices, and I stuffed and baked them! Help yourselves," he added, placing the platter on the table before them all, "but save some for me!"

"Pip, you have my humblest apologies," Merry told him. "Not only finding this many mushrooms in a stone city like this one, but preparing and cooking them as well? That is an act of magic, if ever I saw one!"

"Yes, well, it is maybe the biggest example of the point I was trying to make," the young Took replied. "Certainly, if there is one thing we hobbits know how to do, it is cook! And that is creative, too!"

"And therefore magical," Frodo said, beaming at his young cousin. "And I know that this hobbit, for one, not only knows how to cook, but how to eat! You are offering us quite the treat, Pippin, thank you. Now," he added to the others as well, "what do you say we all perform a magic trick, and make these mushrooms disappear!"

The four hobbits all laughed with delight, and applied themselves to doing just that.