Young Frodo

by Overlithe

Chapter 21

Saradoc returned to Buckland later that same day.  Esme stayed behind at her home in Tuckborough.  The ritual separation would begin today the wedding would be next week and until that time the two would not see each other again.  The wedding had been planned in less than a day from his point of view the rest was up to the Tooks.  The ceremonies would be in Tookland as tradition dictated the two wed in her home as they would then be off to Buckland.  Saradoc had one remaining duty and that was to ready a place for their post nuptial home.  Hobbit traditions were quite well thought out and so it was that a newly wed couple was isolated completely for at least 10 days time sometimes as long as two weeks.  The environment at Brandyhall was not one of seclusion or privacy.  So Saradoc was to ready a small hole in Crickhollow for the couple.  He knew just the place first he had to let his parents know the plans.  The Tooks were odd in that they did not believe in long engagements.  Once a couple decided it was to be finalized as soon as possible.  He knew his parents understood this his grandmother was a Took so it should not be a surprise.  Yet a three-week betrothal was short by all standards but Saradoc thought it best.  He had his reasons they were few, but he knew what he wanted and so why delay it, his bride had agreed and so it was set.

Saradoc was lost in his thoughts of his bride as he walked up the lane from the ferry and past the little lane to the cemetery.  He did not see Frodo join him as he walked on toward home. 

"You look happy." Frodo commented.

Saradoc was startled and looked around and then down until he met the eyes of Frodo.  I am happy he smiled in response. He was always glad to see Frodo, and then he noticed how blue Frodo's eyes appeared he stopped and knelt by the lad.  He looked at him long in the eyes noting how red they were thus giving the illusion of the brighter blue.  Frodo sniffed but continued smiling at his older cousin.  "When is the wedding Saradoc?" Frodo asked him.  Saradoc frowned, "just a minute master Baggins, why have you been crying? Don't try to distract me."  "I was sad, I was visiting Primrose." He said simply. "I'm better now. Really I am".

Saradoc looked at him. "Well, I don't know."  But then he saw the gleam in Frodo's eye and knew that his cousin was indeed well.  Saradoc thought to himself something his old Took grandmother used to say. "Not all Tears are evil," he remembered her saying they can be quite healing.  He simply nodded at Frodo and stood to continue walking.

"But Saradoc?"  Frodo was persistent if nothing he thought to himself.  He answered him before he could finish his question,  "Next week Frodo".  "Next week! Frodo stopped but that's so soon then you will have no time for me at all."

"That may be so for a bit Frodo but once Esme and I set up housekeeping in Brandyhall you are most welcome anytime, as long as you knock."  Saradoc gave Frodo a playful shove and Frodo laughed.  "But we will be gone for a few weeks right after the wedding."

 "Why?" Frodo asked innocently.

"Well, because, Saradoc began walking again as he spoke, new married hobbits need time alone to get to know each other better."

"You know Esme, Saradoc I don't understand." Frodo sighed but let the topic drop it was another of those adult things he knew by Saradoc's tone of voice he would get no further explanation.  "Next week, though what will I do who will I spy on while you away?"

"You will think of something Frodo, you always do.  Perhaps its time you learned your letters.  Uncle Bilbo taught me a few things but I just am not interested in more. Perhaps you would be an apt pupil for him, you are very smart Frodo."

Frodo frowned hadn't he just thought he wished he could read.  Perhaps Saradoc was right learning to read and write might be fun. At least it would take time and time he felt he had plenty of. "Maybe but I don't think I am smart Saradoc not as smart as you."

Saradoc laughed at this comment. Frodo had no idea how unusual he was. There were not many children his own age nearby and so he no way to compare himself.  He was precocious and intelligent it was frightening.  "Frodo lad you are the smartest hobbit I know."  Frodo started to laugh but looked at Saradoc he did not appear to be joking.  So he stifled the chuckle and just kept what was said to him in his heart.

"Frodo, would you like to have a part in our wedding?"

Frodo stopped, looked up to his cousin whom he admired and was unable to answer. Participation in Weddings was for grownups.  "What would I be able to do?"  he asked in awe.

"You can carry the garland strand to the alter and give it to me to place on Esme's head." He said.  "Me, alone? Or you can give it to your Mum and she will give it to me. Esme's Mum is no longer with us so it will be a close friend.'

Frodo smiled. " I will do it he said shyly, am I really your friend?" 

"Yes you little imp now get a move on it will be past dinner and I am starving."  Frodo nodded and realized he was starving he had not eaten since his porridge in the morning. His Mum must be worried he had been out all day, he thought. "Ok Saradoc hurry then", and he began running; he ran and laughed joyously all the way home Saradoc Brandybuck close on his heels the entire time teasing him and grabbing for him in mock anger.  Frodo was very happy and it shown all over his face.  His cheeks were bright red and his eyes glowed luminous his smile would break hearts someday.  His Mum saw him approach and all worry and anger over his extended absence was forgotten she had not seen him so excited and happy for several weeks.  She just waited and watched him come.  He leaped into her arms hugging her tightly apologizing and explaining.  She shook her head this is the way it would be. Frodo was the kindest, sweetest and most easily distractible hobbit ever to be born.  She knew it would only get worse as he got older.  He was just like Bilbo Baggins in this way and she loved him.  Her dear son already was notorious at losing track of time and she could only remind him to take care to be home for meals.

Later in the evening Saradoc and Frodo together told of the wedding plans in Tuckborough.  Frodo could scarcely sit still until Saradoc got to the part he waited for.  Primula sat quietly listening and waiting she knew there was some reason for this formal information.  Then she knew Saradoc told her that she and Frodo would be part of the joining ceremonies and she smiled broadly.  It was perfect she thought and Frodo looked so proud and he really did not even know what it was he was to part of. 

She had difficulty getting her son to sleep, she was glad the wedding was going to be soon. She feared Frodo would not sleep properly until it was over.  He was so restless a soul normally that this added stimulus might just be too much for "her" to take.  Perhaps Bilbo could come for a visit that might occupy some of the time.  She mad a mental note to contact 'uncle Bilbo in the morning.

Chapter 22

Bilbo arrived late in the evening the following day.  The message sent by Primula was clear.  Frodo need a diversion, the lad was distracted and excited about the upcoming wedding.  Two of his favorite relatives and friends were to be wed and he was more anxious than the groom.  Another reason for the need distraction that Bilbo would provide was that Frodo would indeed drive Saradoc mad.

 Saradoc loved Frodo but he had mentioned his concerns to Primula.  He needed to get the house ready for the two-week seclusion.  The tiny place in Crickhollow was perfect but Saradoc really did not want Frodo to know where it was at least not until later on.  "He is so young, he had said, he will not understand why he is being kept away."

 Saradoc was actually concerned over Frodo's feelings being hurt Primula reminded him also that Frodo being the curious lad he was would undoubtedly try to visit if he knew where they were to be.  Saradoc nodded and agreed it would be best if Frodo did not know where they would be spending their first two weeks of marriage.

And so it was that Bilbo came to Brandy hall in the last week of July.  And two days later after a few walks and tales of elves Frodo Baggins began his lessons.  Frodo was ready and a willing apt pupil.  It seemed his distractedness and forgetfulness were products of a bored child.  The more information he was given the more clam and attentive he became.

By the time the day of the wedding Frodo already knew all his letters and how to spell a few words.  Bilbo was pleased beyond words and in the back of his mind planned out Frodo's education.  First the common tongue, reading writing and speaking properly as a gentlehobbit should.  Sindarin would be next then lastly the Quenya. Then if time allowed perhaps a bit of the old Dwarvish language could be learnt.   It was really irrelevant as all dwarves spoke the common tongue. The elvish languages though would never be dead.  Not if Bilbo could help it the very words were like music.  He himself was merely a student and knew only a fraction of what was to be known but what he knew he would pass on to Frodo.

They awoke early the day of the ceremony it was a long trip to Tuckborough.  They would be traveling with Saradoc.  Bilbo had stayed on and he too was joining them then he would return to Bag End.  The ponies were laden with clothing and gifts. And Frodo sat atop a sturdy pony with baggage around him.  He smiled and looked up at the clear blue sky and breathed in the early morning damp summer air.  It was a perfect day he didn't really care to ride but his Mum insisted he needed to be well rested.  The others were in a cart and also walking along. Hobbits could make good time when reason drove them.  And a wedding feast was enough to drive the laziest hobbit.

They made excellent time and arrived at Tookland by early afternoon.  The area was a buzz of excitement. The wedding that was to take place was indeed and important event.  The future Master was taking his bride and soon there would be another generation of Brandybucks to inhabit Brandyhall.

Paladin Took the Brides brother already was married and his wife expecting their first child just after the Yule. He was already the Thain. The title had passed to him a few years prior.  And so it was of special significance this marriage.  The Thain's sister was to marry the future master.  And so an alliance between the two ruling families of the Shire was about to be formed.  A bond would exist that no disagreement could breech.

The ceremony was beautiful and as Esmeralda Took walked down the flowered path no one could turn from her.  She was radiant and the young Frodo Baggins was amongst her many admirers.  Frodo could scarcely remember his part in the ceremony so enthralled was he by his Esme.  He stared at her as he delivered the Garland to his Mum who handed it over to Saradoc who placed it upon her head.  Words were exchanged promises of love and honor and peace and faithfulness were spoken.  And Frodo found he was moved to tears.  He did not know why he wept yet the tears came.  Many thought it was sweet that he was sad that Esme had wed another…But it was more, somewhere in his mind he knew he would never have this.  These moments would ever be someone else's to enjoy not his own.  He shook his head trying to remember he was only turning 6 years old and time was an unknown. 

Frodo managed to pull himself together and smile at the end when all applauded as the couple completed the open eyes open hands ritual.  He did not understand the ritual but it was lovely. At the end Esme and Saradoc were married they would be together always now.

**I'd like to credit Mary, Cedar Rapids Born for portions of the wedding ceremonies in both this tale and in the Unexpected return…**