Summary: Gandalf drops a bomb on the Company and Beryl. Notes: Image found on Deviantart by DarkTristania She has lovely stuff, well worth a visit. Whatever else she might have been about to say was interrupted by the low rumbling sound of music mixed with dwarfish singing. Beryl whirled as if stung. She knew that tune. How did the dwarves know it? “Fili? Why are they singing my great gran’s lullabye?” Honestly confused brown eyes regarded Fili steadily, expecting him to solve the mystery. “You must be joking, that’s the Lament of Erebor.” A perfectly round smoke ring floated lazily on the night breeze, as if dancing slowly to the music rolling out of her hobbit hole in wide melodic waves. “The what?” Fili sang to her. His low, velvet voice blending with the instruments wafting from her home into a spell all its own. It wove a tale of the greatness that was Erebor. It sang of the metals and magic and beauty crafted there under the mountain. It sang of life in the mountain: the laughter, triumphs and tragedies, all brought crashing down by the greed of a dragon, sweeping away kith and kin just to claim the riches won from the earth by Dwarfish sweat and skill. His song spoke to Beryl as nothing else ever had. She wanted to feel the metal take shape under her hammer, to walk the deep paths of Erebor, and win back the mountain from a greedy dragon that had no business stealing it in the first place. For a moment, Beryl wanted to be a heroine. She wanted to stand victorious over the dragon, earn the dwarves gratitude for winning back their mountain, hear the songs and tales sung of her bravery. She could see it clearly in her mind’s eye, and then somewhere off in the distance, a cow lowed, and she was just plain Beryl Baggins again, who had a Ladies Committee tomorrow and no time to run off with dwarves after dragons or mountains. She was very glad for the rail’s support just then. She felt wrung out and confused. “You look like you could use a sit down, and probably some tea.” Fili carefully tapped the ashes out of his pipe, and tucked the thing back in his furry jacket. The other hand was already gently turning Beryl around to escort her back into her own house. The irony was not lost on her. “Fili, I do know the way in to my own home.” “Yes, but how often do you think I’ll offer to play gentleman? Allow me this once?” “Alright, you blonde scamp.” “Some evening, I might just ask you what you named everyone.” “Fine, and I’ll answer. Right now, I want to know why Gran’s lullaby's the same tune as that Lament.” BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB*BB “Really, Beryl, you can’t guess?” Gandalf took his ease in the wide armchair by the fire. His pipe occasionally adding smoke rings to those already wreathing his head. Thorin leaned against the mantle, arms folded as he regarded her with calculating eyes. The rest of the dwarves arranged themselves comfortably around her den, watching the discussion as if it were for their entertainment. “Humor me. Why are the tunes the same.” Beryl never took her eyes off Gandalf. She was about done with surprises and word games. She wanted answers. “How familiar are you with your family history on the Took side?” Gandalf asked the question without much inflection, exactly as if asking no more than how the current crops might grow this summer. “There were tales the First Took had a fairy wife, and every gather, Granther trots out the tale of Bullroarer Took. That’s about it.” Beryl’s patience was growing thin. Gandalf’s need for showmanship was starting to wear out its welcome. “Refresh my memory about Bullroarer, if you please.” She had to take a deep breath to keep her composure. “Well, he was big, so big he could ride a proper horse. He fought in the Battle of Green Fields and knocked a goblin chief’s head clear off his shoulders.” “Does that sound very hobbitish, to you, Beryl Baggins?” Suddenly, it wasn’t just Gandalf’s sharp eyes regarding her, but every dwarf in the room. It made her uncomfortable. “Sounds almost like a dwarf.” Bofur was carelessly twirling his clarinet. His insightful comment spoken as if to the instrument in his hands. “Dwarf or no, I’d drink with him.” Was that approval from stolid Dwalin? Beryl thought she might have to mark the calendar. “Very Dwarvish indeed, Bofur.” Gandalf’s keen gaze, if possible, became even sharper. Beryl felt the bottom of her belly drop out. He couldn’t be suggesting what she thought he was suggesting. “Bother and befuddlement, First Took didn’t marry a fairy…” Beryl couldn’t finish, not with thirteen of them watching her like a bug under glass. “No indeed. He married a dwarf.” Gandalf said it calmly, as if passing the time of day. The uproar was instantaneous. Apparently, the idea a Dwarf maid would even dream of marrying outside her people was enough to incite violence. Had anyone but Gandalf said those words, he may not have escaped unscathed. But it was Gandalf that said them, and Gandalf did not lie. “Beryl, would you sing your lullabye for these gentlemen? Perhaps that might put to rest the last of their objections.” Fili, having some idea of what was coming, limbered up his bow and fiddle for her, offering accompaniment. Beryl nervously stood, feeling much like a young hobbit at her first recital, and sang as her Gran had sung it to her. Far over, the Misty Mountains roam To a Hill, I’ll call my own and there I’ll stay, for all my days and will there make my home The stars were shining in the night, and the moon, offered pale light no more to say, i must away No way left to make this right “No..” The immaculate white haired dwarf, that Beryl had learned was Balin, looked as if all the breath had been knocked out of him. “The Exile’s song.” Ori, the small and shy dwarf, breathed the words as if he could barely believe them, and stared at her with wide eyes. Beryl felt the temperature in the room drop ten degrees, and felt horribly vulnerable. She felt her fingers twitch again for her trusty broom. Gloin, the least pleasant of the bunch, said something rude sounding in their language and stalked out of the room. “Anyone care to explain all this to me?” Thorin would not look at her, he glared resolutely into the hearth, as if the answer to all his woes were hidden in the dancing flames. All the other dwarves were in various states of surprise, disbelief, and discomfort. None would meet her gaze or answer her question. “Lass, your ancestor was one of the Exiles.” Oin finally said, as if it cleared everything up. “Okay, that still tells me nothing.” Beryl waited patiently for edification. She cut her eyes quickly to the wizard. He seemed to be taking great pleasure in the dwarves’ discomfiture. She always knew he had a devilish streak. She took this turn of events as proof positive. “One of the Great Houses of Moria, their patriarch made a bid for the High Seat, and lost. They were exiled, not long before Moria fell to darkness.” Balin’s voice sounded heavy, as if each word took great effort to get past his mouth. “and that means?” Honestly, how long were they going to draw out the suspense? When did this turn into a penny farce? Beryl’s patience was dangling by a mere thread at this point. “Congratulations, Lass, yer a Dwarven princess.” Bless you Dwalin, for being a blunt one was the last thought Beryl had before her consciousness decided to take a break from the crazy. A/N: Did I lose you with this chapter? I promise, I only went where Tolkien's clues and the story monkey made me go. Buckle up, me hearties, cause the ride's only gonna get wilder from here.