Fond memories of Crickhollow…

Rating: G
Theme: January Potluck (from the September '11 "Hit the Books" challenge)
Elements: Book Title- House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Author's Notes: Several references to my personal fanon—some are explained more fully in the End Notes.
Word Count: 1,087

House of Mirth

"What was it like here when we were children? In many ways nothing like it is now. It was much smaller then. Originally there was only a kitchen, a small sitting room, a little room used as a study, two bedrooms and a bathing room. When our fathers lived here as bachelors after they'd come home from abroad, that was all. They built a wing for Da and Mum after they married, and another for Uncle Pippin and Auntie Diamond after they were wed. The original two bedrooms became guest rooms, and nurseries were added as we children began to come along…oh, you mean what was it like!

Well, child, I suppose as you are marrying Cousin Fosco, you want to know all the family stories. I can understand that, dear! Our family can be rather overwhelming…

Perry and I were very young when we moved into Brandy Hall, but our earliest years were here. I can remember Da and Auntie Diamond working in the herb beds, and in the stillroom where Auntie Diamond made her medicines. Mum mostly kept the house herself at that time with the help of Mrs. Bluebell, who came in to help most days with the cleaning and baking. She baked the most delicious little cakes, with berries and cinnamon in them…"

"Uncle Pippin taught me to climb in that old oak by the gate yonder. Don't look at me like that! I assure you I was young and bold enough as a lass. I daresay I could still climb it if I cared to! Shall I freshen your tea?"

"Mostly I remember how happy we were here. We'd spend the evenings by the fire, sibs and cousins huddled together like so many puppies, listening to our fathers tell us tales! Oh, such stories they told, not only of their famous adventures, but of the mischief they got up to as lads, and tales of the wonders they had seen out in the Wide World. Occasionally we'd have visitors from afar: Uncle Legolas and Uncle Gimli visited at least once as I can recall, and there was the occasional Ranger. What? The Edict? Ah, well, we are in Buckland here, and not truly a part of the Shire unless it suits us—listen to me, I sound like I still live in Buckland, when I've lived over in the Westmarch for years. Hending and I are very happy there, being near neighbors to Elanor and Fastred, but when I come here I just feel like a Bucklander. Our most frequent visitors were Uncle Sam and his family, of course. I can recall Uncle Sam reading to us out of the famous Red Book—the original of course, though I know you've seen the copy we keep up at Brandy Hall.

Then Granda Sara passed, and we Brandybucks had to move up to the Hall; and after that was the Great Flood of '33 and then old Thain Paladin passed and Uncle Pip and Auntie Diamond and Prim and Pet and Pansy and Faramir all moved to the Great Smials. It was dreadful in a way, Perry and I missed them awfully. But then Mum and Auntie Diamond came up with the idea of the family retreats, and we'd gather here for a couple of weeks twice a year, early spring and late summer, usually, depending on what was going on in the Shire and abroad. Sometimes, as when we had the King and his court in Arnor, we only had one retreat a year. And then of course, there was the year we went South…

As we grew up and married and our families grew the place got more and more additions. I don't believe it will ever rival Brandy Hall or the Great Smials, or even Bag End. But it's grown into far more than the simple cottage it started out as."

"What is my favorite memory? Oh my… to be honest, I think it was the few occasions when I would come upon Da and Uncle Pippin, just the two of them talking and jesting as if they were tweens. They didn't know I was watching and listening, as they would speak of Cousin Frodo and smile as they remembered him. As a child, I always had the notion he could see us and was helping to make us all as happy as he could. Silly of me, but it did seem that his presence was here."

"No, dear, no, Cousin Frodo was gone before Da and Mum were wed, so none of us children had the chance to know him. I think he only ever spent a few days here—the one night before they all left on their Quest, of course, and then I think he stayed here about a week or so right after Uncle Sam and Aunt Rose wed. And I believe one other time after that, for just a short while, before he sailed away."

"Have you read the Red Book yet? No? Well, you can start on the copy at Brandy Hall while you are here in Buckland. After all, you need to know more about the family whose line you are restoring! You've no idea how much it meant to my father, to know that Uncle Freddy and Aunt Angelica were going to restore the Baggins name."*

"Ha! Yes, it is a long story. But worth reading. And you will find out why I am called 'Auntie Wyn'. I hope you will come to some of the family retreats here and make some of your own memories!"

"Of course Dilly and Merry** will keep up the retreats, even though they will be living here permanently. They know that's why Da and Uncle Pip gave Crickhollow to them when they left the Shire."

"Welcome to the family, Amalda. It's about time we had an infusion of Goold blood once more. I know how proud Uncle Freddy would be if he could see his grandson getting married tomorrow. I'm so glad we had the chance for this little talk, dear. Did it help calm your nerves?"

"I'm glad! You get some rest and we will all see you as a beautiful bride tomorrow!"

-oo000oo-

* In "my" Shire universe, Fredegar Bolger married Angelica Baggins. They named their older son Folco Baggins-Bolger. But with the approval of the Convocation of Family Heads, their younger son was Filibert Bolger-Baggins and then dropped the Bolger when he came of age, so that the Baggins family name would not die out. His son is the Fosco of this little monologue.

**"Dilly" and "Merry" are Niphredil Brandybuck Gamgee and Merry Gamgee, who were married in "my" Shire. Niphredil was quite a bit younger than Meriadoc's two older children, Simbelmynë (who was called "Wyn" after Éowyn) and Peridoc (who was called Perry).