“You were always blessed by Her, our lady.” The Thain’s voice was soft. Bella could hear him mumbling, even through the heavy cloak they had placed over her head. “Yavanna has graced you with Her magic, and Her gifts. Show them.”
Bella lifted a hand, freshly bloodied, and flicked her fingers out. In this holy place, vines and flowers bloomed. Green sparkles coated Bella’s skin, giving it a glossy shimmer.
“You will rage forward at Her direction-”
“I will take Her orders-”
“You will accept Her gifts-”
“I have accepted it.”
“Raise your hand, Belladonna Baggins.”
Bella did as she was told. Within seconds, the small blade made a space for itself below her palm. The veins at her wrist pulsed with pain. One of the Thain’s attendants, an elderly hobbit, approached and placed her wrinkled hands on the wound. Flowers bloomed, belladonnas, wrapping around her wrist and covering the wound. The petals accepted the flow of blood, turning a deep crimson.
“Go, Belladonna,” the Thain commanded. Then, softly, “Be safe, blood of mine.”
Bella left the large stone chamber that had been erected at the back of the Took hills. She finally was able to take that musty cloak off, folding it neatly and wincing at the new wound in her wrist. It was a ceremony -- rather pointless she since had already spoken directly to Yavanna herself -- but the Thain had insisted. With the red belladonnas in her wrist, hobbits across Middle Earth would recognize her as Yavanna’s chosen. The Thain had insisted that this would bring about more aid than anything else while on their long journey.
The flowers would fade into a tattoo over time, sinking into her skin. Until then, the petals would bloom around the wound. Blood seeped from her wrist, dotting the ground. Where it touched, the grass began growing, soft daisies blooming in the ground. Bella started down to the market to say goodbye to poor Hamfast. She would have to ask him to care for her garden while she was gone.
Bella had drafted her will, ensuring Bag End went down to little Frodo and his parents, and not that pitiful fool Lobelia.
As Bella entered the marketplace, a shush came over the normally bustling stands. Eyes were focused on her wrist. Of course, this ceremony was rarely held and only when a hobbit had been identified to have Yavnna’s touch.
Bella had a little more than just that, but they didn’t have to know that. She strolled through the markets, finally spotting Hamfast sitting behind his tomato stall. His eyes were wide, and as she approached, he took off his straw hat and scrambled to his feet.
“Miss Belladonna…” Hamfast breathed, eyes flickering down to her wrist. His hands twitched, and Bella let him gently grab her forearm to study the flowers closer. “The- well. The town has been buzzing about the dwarves staying at your home,” Hamfast made eye contact. Bella hadn’t ever considered him an easy crier before. “Are you leaving?”
“I am, dear Hamfast. I was wondering if you would look after my gardens. I left a few trinkets for you in my will. Please ensure it be carried out in the event of my disappearance.” Bella gently brought a hand up to pat at his shoulder as he dug a handkerchief out of his pocket and blew into it miserably.
“It would be my honour!” Hamfast gave her a watery smile. “Try to return safely, yes? I would like to hear about these adventures of yours.”
“I will do my best.” Bella leaned forward and gave him a kiss on the forehead. He had been a constant presence in her life as she had been growing. He and his wife had offered unwavering support while Bella was reeling from her parents’ death. “I left a trunk of baby items I had been saving for little Sam by your front door. I was planning on giving it on Tuesday’s baby shower, but I’m afraid I will not be able to make it.”
“T-” Hamfast stopped to blow his nose again. “Thank you so much! We will miss you terribly, I will pray and cherish the Goddess for your safety!”
“Thank you, Hamfast.” Bella tried not to cry herself, until she took a look behind her. Along the path, Thorin had just stepped out of the house, gently shutting the green door of Bag End behind him. Bella felt her power strengthen. She had a destiny to march towards, after all. She pulled away from Hamfast and waved sadly, walking back through the path of the marketplace. She reached her mailbox before Thorin stepped off the stairs to greet her.
She watched his gaze fall down until his lips parted at what he saw somewhere near her hips. Thorin launched himself forward and Bella jolted, his calloused hands gripping at her wrist.
“Master Baggins, whatever happened? There are vines growing in your wrist-”
“Ah,” Bella had not ever seen him quite this frantic, even after she had gotten thrown over the ledge during the clash between the two stone giants during their last journey. “It is ceremonial and was consensual, I assure you. We do it to invoke Yavnna’s blessing -- to carry her power into our blood, so to speak. It will fade into a tattoo as time passes.” Thorin glared up at her -- and there was the angry face Bella remembered. She had been faced with that expression far too many times for it to hold any weight. And yet. The ground trembled softly beneath her, rocks shaking. One of her stone steps cracked, half falling off the staircase. Had Thorin-
“I would be careful, Master Oakenshield,” Bella ripped her hand away from the dwarf, too angry to see his shocked expression. “Belladonna is poisonous.”
She stalked away, stepping inside her home to change into some better travelling clothes. She had packed light, but she was going to reorganize it. Anything to get away from that brute of a dwarf who had dared raise his power against her. The Shire sat on a massive fault line, and he must have known. He was threatening her entire people, for what?
Bella didn’t bother to hide her footsteps as she stormed past the dwarves in her living room. She slammed her bedroom door.
Belladonna is poisonous.
Thorin stared down at the dark juice covering his hands.
Belladonna is poisonous.
“Not to dwarves.” Thorin licked gently at the juice. It had, in fact, been one of his favourite drinks when he was a child. He jumped when he heard the door slam inside Master Baggins’ house. He cautiously stepped back inside to see Nori, Ori, and Dori rising from their blankets. Nori raised an eyebrow in Thorin’s direction, opening his mouth to say something-
Vines burst from Master Baggins’ door, thorned, crawling for the walls. Dori yelped as Nori put himself between Ori and the wall.
“Calm yourself.” that blasted wizard stepped out from the entryway, glaring down at them. They hadn’t made it easy for him last night, Thorin could testify that much, but considering how poorly the old coot conducted himself on a daily basis, Thorin really wasn’t mad about it. “And stay here.”
“Bilbo?” Gandalf knocked on the door, and Thorin bit back the ugly curl of jealousy that wrapped his throat in a vice at the familiarity. “May I come in?” The door swung open and the wizard shut it behind him.
“Your orders, Your Highness.” Nori fixed Thorin with an unreadable expression. Thorin felt his eye twitch.
“You will not be spying on Master Baggins, honestly Nori. He is my One. Whether he realizes that or not,” Thorin glanced a look towards the bedroom door, desperately wishing to be the one Bilbo would allow inside. “I will respect his privacy.”
“Sure.” Nori looked away, stepping back from Ori. He cast a suspicious glare towards the door before Dori herded them both out. They needed to pack.
Thorin reluctantly followed.