Laenlis’ fault. I borrowed a few characters without permission; any fumbles are entirely my own. This is unabashed warm fuzzy feel-good fluff. Approach at your own peril.
Belion wasn’t sure precisely why everyone was giving him things today, but he certainly wasn’t going to argue. This mysterious “Yule” had been coming for weeks, and he had run about the night before shouting “My Yule!” until Ada used his stern voice and Mama threatened him with socks. He hated socks.
And then! Very early Mama and Ada wrapped him up in Blankie and a coat and boots (which he did not like and struggled in vain to avoid) and took him outside! Outside was a special treat indeed reserved for when Ada went out or Mama was having a singing day. Mama sang a lot lately, prettier than Aunt Luned even. The sun rose and he watched with fascination. Why did the sky turn colors? How far away was the sun? Could he run and put it in his pocket if he ran far enough? He wanted to get down to try, but Ada held him tight.
“I don’t know what gets into him,” Mama said in her calm, happy voice.
“He is fearless.” Ada proclaimed, then tossed him up into the air until Mama begged him to stop. Still, Mama was laughing. Ada put him down and let him climb the stairs himself. Belion pulled his own boots off and Ada helped him put them on the tray, right between Ada’s great big outside boots and Mama’s neat leather shoes. Belion did not put his slippers on, and Mama didn’t even try to make him.
The day got better by the minute. Breakfast was apple crisp and spice bread with bacon. Then there were presents wrapped in paper that he was allowed to tear. He stared at Mama in case this was a trick; ‘Never tear paper’ was a Rule. But she nodded and bent to help him. Oh it was fun! He tore and tore until he had tiny pieces he couldn’t tear anymore. “Only on Yule” she said, and Ada helped her clean up the bits for the kindling box.
He had a padded toy hammer he could pound on a toy anvil. Both had silvery grey felt, but if he pounded hard enough, he could make a lot of noise. Mama had made him a tabard in grey and black with a white tree right over his front. “Like Ada!” he squealed as Mama tightened a real leather belt around his waist, and paid no attention to the melting grins from his parents. They had to make him put down the hammer to open the other packages.
There were more building blocks and sturdy cloth books from Master Cel and Ked. He flipped through the pages of bright pictures and letters he recognized from his blocks and proclaimed, “This is inaccurate!” He grinned as Mama said indulgently, “Indeed. Bears do not play with birds or talk.” He wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but Mama was smiling. When Mama smiled, the world rested.
Mr. Marshfield brought more paper to tear away from another sturdy book. It was in squiggly letters and had funny pictures with words and green and blue. “This is a simple Sindarin geography text,” he said. Belion flipped through carefully. It was a rule to be careful with pages. He pointed to one picture and announced proudly, “Horse!”
“Yes, Sprout. That is a Mearas horse from Rohan. Say ‘Thank you’,” Mama prompted. Stubbornly he said, “You’re Welcome.” There was laughter and sweets. He hugged Mr. Marshfield’s leg, then ran under the table to play string-grab with Citri.
Uncle Nallo brought him a book without a lot of pictures in it. Belion frowned as he looked through it, then gave Uncle Nallo a doubtful look. “It’s a collection of Hobbit fables,” he explained. “We’ll read it later,” Mama said. Belion blinked at fables, and Uncle Nallo said, “Stories.” Belion brightened. Stories were nice. Uncle Nallo even read him one about a cat, and wasn’t as boring as he usually was.
Aunt Kendry gave him a ring with bells on it. It was gloriously loud when he shook it, and the grownups nearly had to shout to have their boring conversations over the racket. Uncle Leafcutter gave him a tablet with a stick. You could make lines on it and draw, but not in front of Uncle. Every time you tried, he would melt the wax and say “untidy.” “Later,” said Mama.
Aunt Luned was the best of all after Mama and Ada. She acted out the Fall of Smaug. It was his very favorite book, and she did voices and danced about with a red cloth dragon fluttering overhead. Bard shot the dragon, just like Ada used to shoot orcs. Belion was sure Ada could shoot a dragon too, and before it burned down the town. He clapped and cheered and begged to be allowed to keep the dragon. Aunt Luned hugged him and said he could, then held him up so he could fly like a dragon as she ran around the room. He was so happy he could hardly hold still in his bed for naptime as he snuggled in the warm, white fur from Aunt Suleth. She stayed with him and read until his eyes wouldn’t stay open another minute.
Even Mrs. Minah came with Mr. Glariond, though that did not go so well. She had a bundle, and he knew by now what that meant. “Mine!” he shouted as he reached for it. There was more laughter and the woman with the picture-hands and the bag on her face knelt and said, “She is mine, for now.” The bundle was already unwrapped a bit, and there was a face in it. Belion gave her an uncertain look; this wasn’t a toy.
“This is Melethannas. She is a baby.” Oh. Babies. He knew babies. They were dull and didn’t do anything interesting. Then, this baby did something very interesting; she went a little cross-eyed, then burped. Belion laughed and tried again, “Mine?”
“No, Belion. I am afraid her father does not wish to arrange her marriage. You must content yourself with this.” And she had a pot with her special honey pears! “My pears!” he said, and ran off with them before anyone could try to argue the point.
“I suspect a time will come when pears will not discourage suitors,” Mrs. Minah said to Mama. The grown-ups laughed and said boring things to each other while he shoved the golden bites into his mouth and got as sticky as he could.
That night, he sat turning his book pages as Mama turned hers. “Inaccurate” she muttered. Ada told him a story about a king and his army, and Mama sang him his favorite song. Citri purred next to him as he clutched his hammer and dreamed of snow. His mouth still tasted of honey and pear. He liked Yule very much.