Bilbo finds it hard to keep his pupil's attention when the weather is fine.

(Written for LJ hobbit_ficathon's "Spring Fever" challenge.)

Bilbo is 40, Drogo is 22 ( about 25 and a half and 14 in "Man Years")

A Young Hobbit's Fancy

"Drogo?" There was a slightly sharp edge to the query that made Drogo realize his name had been called more than once.

"I'm sorry, Cousin Bilbo," the tweenager replied. "I'm afraid I was not paying very close attention." His gaze flicked once more to the sounds of laughter coming through Bilbo's study window.

"I asked you, Drogo, what major event took place in the year 1147?"

With a start the young hobbit came to himself, and after a brief struggle to get his mind on lessons once more, replied "That was the year that Bandobras Took, also known as 'Bullroarer' drove the goblins out of the Shire?" Normally he would have sounded a bit more confident of himself, but his inattention had shaken him. He was normally very good at lessons, and Cousin Bilbo had told him more than once that he was his brightest pupil. This was embarrassing.

A gentle breeze billowed the gauzy curtains, bringing with it the smells of flowers and grass clippings, and more sounds of laughter.

Both hobbits now looked out the window. On the field below Bag End could be seen the figures of several lads engaged in a rowdy game of "Breakthrough". Two teams would form lines, holding hands firmly. One team would call on a member of the other team, who would then race forward, and try to break the hold between two team members. If he failed to break through, he remained on that team, however, if he did manage to do so, he returned to his own side, taking one of the losers with him. The game could get very fierce.

Drogo sighed. It was a Highday, and the working class lads all had the afternoon free. He was a gentlehobbit, however, and here he was, stuck doing lessons on a lovely spring afternoon.

Bilbo cast a sympathetic look at his young cousin. Drogo had missed a lesson earlier in the week, due to his grandmother's birthday, and so it had needed to be made up. But it was hard on a young lad to be cooped up inside on such a lovely spring day.

Fosco and Ruby counted on Bilbo to be teaching his cousin; still, when the mind was elsewhere it was hard to learn anything. He turned and looked out the window at the lads at play, and an idea came to him.


"Yes, sir?" He sounded a bit subdued. He expected to be scolded.

"I think that I should like you to write an essay for me as homework, on the benefits of fresh air and exercise. Now, in order to do that, do you not think it necessary that you have a bit of experience of it?" His blue eyes twinkled, as he gestured out the window with his chin.

Drogo leaped up, and gave his older cousin a hug. "Cousin Bilbo! I think that a splendid idea! Thank you!"

"Well, then, be off with you, lad! It looks to me as though they are choosing up sides for another round!"

Bilbo watched his cousin race to the field and become just one more small figure in the game. This was far too nice a day to stay indoors. He might be too grown-up for the lads' games, but it would be a lovely time for a short ramble.

He paused only briefly to don his jacket and tuck in a pocket handkerchief.