Frodo crouched behind the large willow tree. It was a favorite hiding
spot for spying out the ferry. Today was a particularly nice day
for spying, looking eating or resting. In fact it was a perfect
midsummer day in the Shire. It was indeed Midsummer's Day and
later there would be a picnic and eating and dancing.
Frodo peaked around the wide trunk of the ancient tree watching the
ferry as it approached. He was aloud no closer to the water than
this very tree a fact he was painfully aware of. Although he loved to
sit and watch the swirling depths he was not "big enough" to do so
alone. He had gone closer once by himself and it was one of the
few times he had been harshly disciplined. He had been found out
and his Da had taken a switch to his bottom to make him remember his
mistake. And he did remember, he still was not sure why his
parents did not want him near the river. To him it was a
beautiful mystery; the sight and the sounds of the water drew
him. He was intent that as soon as he was aloud he would take the
At the moment though his thoughts were elsewhere and he strained to see
if his cousin Reginard would be on board or if he would have to
wait. Reg was a Took cousin and one of the very few hobbits of
his age. He had met him just last month at Reginard's 5th
birthday. He was born the June after Frodo and He wondered why he
had never before met this "cousin." He had enjoyed the birthday
so well that his Mum had been telling him since that Reg and his family
would be in Buckland again 'soon'. Frodo wondered exactly what
soon meant to grown ups and knew that it surely was not the same as
what he thought soon was. To him soon was after teatime or after
a long nap not months or weeks. He had tortured his Mum with
questions upon questions until finally she scolded him and told him to
hush and go play.
Frodo frowned at the memory; he disliked being scolded especially by
his Mum. It happened rarely and when it did he knew he had pushed
to far. Reginard had been so funny he couldn't wait to see him
again. To laugh and run and be able to keep up with a playmate
was a rarity for Frodo he couldn't wait to do it again. The ferry
was docking and he could not see him he was not on board this
trip. Frodo turned and wandered aimlessly it would be another
hour until the ferry returned again. He found himself traveling
up a small hill on a well-traveled path.
It was a path he knew all too well. It was the way to the burial
place. The garden with the white stones was an early memory of
his. He still was not quite sure but he was beginning to
understand. Last winter a well loved elderly gentle hobbit had
gone to sleep and never awakened and after much crying and a long
speech he was brought to the garden and put in a hole in the
ground. A new white stone with the gentle hobbits name had
appeared later. It was his first real memory of the thing called
death and it made him curious. The stone that his family visited
was his very own sister's; he had never known her though he knew all
about her. Primrose who looked just like him but with yellow
curls. He stopped a moment at her stone as he always did if he
came this way. He stopped in the middle of the garden and looked
around at the rows of markers brows furrowed in concentration.
Knowing somehow that this "garden" was not the end. He continued
on back to Brandyhall walked in and sat down to wait for "soon" to come
so that Reginard would be there and he could have some fun.
After a few moments of sulking he looked over to see his cousin
Saradoc. Saradoc looked worried and Frodo decided to pass the
time and spy on him. Saradoc was always interesting and since his
coming of age last year he had been easy to spy on. And little
Frodo did spy, every chance he got. Saradoc was very preoccupied
with his attentions to his new lass. Frodo wasn't sure what it
was all about but Saradoc was funny to watch and he always knew if Esme
was expected in Buckland. He grinned at the memory of her she was
so sweet and kind and next to his Mum she was his favorite lass.
When Saradoc left the hall Frodo followed knowing that Esme must be
coming on the next ferry and hoped that Reg would be also.
Perhaps Saradoc would take him closer to the water and he could look
into the rippling water as they waited. He had to run to keep up
though as Saradoc seemed more than unusually excited to meet his lass
He caught up to him by the hill. "Saradoc can I come with
you?" It was a question he need not ask as he was already "with"
"Frodo Baggins! You little sneak are you following me again?" Saradoc
stopped and turned to address his young cousin. "And if I do take
you with me will you steal my love away from me with those big blue
eyes of yours?" Frodo thought for a moment then blinked, "Uhhh,
No Saradoc I promise I won't steal Esme", He smiled. Knowing he had won
and would be allowed to stay. "Oh its hopeless", Saradoc said.
"One look at you and she'll not even see me." Frodo frowned and
shook his head. Grown hobbits were so peculiar. He took
Saradoc's hand and walked with him to meet the ferry. "I am
waiting for cousin Reginard," he said. "So I will not be in your way
long", he looked at his cousin through his lashes smiling. "But
when are your going to marry her and be done with it." Saradoc stopped
and looked down at his little cousin and shook his head. Frodo could be
so precocious. "Who told you we were to marry?" Frodo just
smiled lips sealed and kept walking. "No one", he giggled and took a
few more steps. "But with all the kissing you do it can't be long
can it?" Frodo ran for he knew Saradoc would try to grab him. It
took four strides for the older hobbit to catch him. Frodo braced
himself but was surprised Saradoc was not angry in fact he was
grinning. "I should have known you would see it Frodo. Can you
keep a secret?" Frodo nodded, He loved secrets. Saradoc
bent close to his ear and said. "Today I shall ask her. But mind
you it is a secret don't go spoiling it." Frodo placed a hand
over his mouth and shook his head. They turned and went to greet
Frodo was flushed and his breaths came in short little gasps and he
found it difficult to stand still. His mum had brought him up
short as he ran through the crowds at the midyears celebration.
"Frodo, Luv are you alright?" she asked concerned. As she spoke he
looked over his shoulder finding it hard to concentrate on what she was
saying. He knew he was not far behind they were almost evenly
matched and he had managed to out run Reginard for quite awhile.
Frodo saw him too late as he ran towards him and slapped him forcefully
across his back. The air rushed from his lungs in a sudden burst
as his cousin yelled, "tag your it!" He looked up at his Mum
mournfully with one eyebrow lifted in a comical display of
displeasure. Primula couldn't help but laugh as she smiled at him
with a shrug as if to say why didn't you say so…Instead she said,
"Well, your it." "Thanks", was all he managed as he took off in
pursuit of his new friend.
Frodo caught up with Reginard as he rounded the buffet table.
Reginard had decided that perhaps a snack was in order. Oddly
Frodo agreed he could not remember ever feeling so hungry. He
smiled at his cousin as the eyed the food table ravenously. The
two retired to a small table set off for the children and made short
work of the plates they had piled high with all manner of delights.
Frodo sat contentedly for the moment and began thinking. Thinking
really was what he did best. He knew this to be true of himself,
sometimes he lacked the vocabulary to say what he thought but in his
mind he clearly saw and felt things far beyond his years. Right
now he was thinking of Saradoc and his lass Esmeralda. He
wondered if he had asked her yet. He knew they would marry they
were perfect together and though he loved Esme himself there was naught
to be done for it. She would be an old hobbit by the time he was
of age. So if someone must marry her beside himself then it may
as well be a cousin whom he liked. And he liked Saradoc very much
nearly as much as old Bilbo. But Bilbo was one of a kind and his
face was one of the earliest memories he had. When his Da and Mum
were sad it was always Bilbo who came to keep things 'normal'.
And he told such wonderful tales, tales of travel and elves and dwarves
and wizards and treasure. Bilbo was not here this day there would
be no tales or adventures so he would have to invent some of his own.
He hoped up and began looking about for something to do. Reginard had
fallen asleep after their little snack. Frodo however was not
sleepy and was feeling a bit mischievous. He spied Esmeralda Took
across the room he had not seen her since earlier when she had
arrived. Saradoc of course was with her and still looked quite
anxious, "Perfect", Frodo thought. "A nervous adult could be
great fun." He grinned slyly and made his way casually to the
couple. As he approached he put on a very somber expression,
pouting as best he could he tried desperately not to smile. Esme
was so pretty he wondered what Saradoc was waiting for he should just
ask her. Then he knew what he would do, had his cousin looked
into his eyes then he would have known Frodo was up to something for
there was a glint in them that screamed trouble.
Little Frodo Baggins walked over to Ms. Esmeralda Took and climbed up
into her lap. He leaned his head gently on her shoulder and said
nothing but sat quietly. She took him to her without question for
Frodo had always been her favorite young cousin. He was so sweet
and innocent and she remembered him as a tiny babe when she cared for
him for his Mum. He looked up at her through his dark lashes and
blinked and sighed contentedly. He turned his eyes to Saradoc who
stood near and let a hint of the mischief enter into them. And
Saradoc knew there was going to be trouble, It seemed Frodo's Tookish
half had taken over and Frodo knew way too much. He braced
himself and stared back at his young cousin.
"Hmm, what is it Frodo luv?"
"Will you wait for me to marry you?" He said with out hesitating.
Esmeralda smiled lovingly at him and gave him a squeeze. "Oh
Frodo, It's so kind of you to ask. But I am afraid I will be a
bit old by then love."
Frodo nodded and glanced again at Saradoc. "I just thought you
might be tired of waiting for Saradoc to ask." He said simply and half
smiled at his cousin who had gone first pale then bright red. He
almost laughed. "Are you going to marry Saradoc, Esme?"
She was speechless and flushed. Everyone knew that was what she
wished more than anything she had been interested in Saradoc for as
long as Frodo had been alive. "I will, she said allowing her gaze
to drift up to Saradoc's face, if he ever asks me."
Frodo hoped down and ran off giggling. It was so easy why were
grown-ups so odd. He stopped and turned to watch the results.
Saradoc would have no choice now …He strained to listen.
"Well Esmeralda Took," he said as he knelt before her. "It just
so happens that I was about to do just that, as our little imp over
there well knows for I told him so this morning. Esme would you
do me the honor of being my wife?" He looked up at her smiling
over the humor of the moment and the sincerity and the beauty.
She looked back in love and said simply, "yes".
Saradoc didn't know whether to ring Frodo's little neck or kiss
him. He had stood there on the brink for nearly an hour thinking
of just the right way to ask. And in moments Frodo had mortified
him and solved the problem. He shook his head to all but him what
had transpired was pure and innocent. But he looked at Frodo and
knew that the youngster had contrived it just so. He would need
to keep an eye on the lad. It seemed nothing was ever quite as it
seemed with Frodo Baggins.