Frodo awoke slowly with a clarity he dreaded. From the moment he
opened his eyes he knew, he remembered. This was the first day he
had wakened this way. He had no doubts left, he remembered
vaguely talking to Bilbo and crying him self to sleep his eyes felt
sticky and swollen. He sat up somberly and pulled his knees to
his chest and took a deep shuddering breath. Bilbo was right
there was nothing to be done for it he blinked and slow tears trailed
down his cheeks and soaked his nightshirt. They were gone somehow
after all these days of denial and uncertainty he now knew. It
was true his beautiful Mum and his kind Da had drowned in the river and
they would never return to him.
The naked reality of it was laid bare before him and Frodo cried now in
earnest. He had loved them more than he could explain. He
missed them and he needed them. Alone, he was alone. There
was a dark voice in his mind that had been beckoning to him since that
day. It told him he could join them and that to remain would be
too painful, it told him to die. It reminded him every moment
that he was… An Orphan. He was alone, all alone.
He heard the faint stirrings of the others as dawn broke in the
Shire. His room in Esme and Saradoc's he thought he hadn't taken
note that he had slept in their rooms rather than his own home.
This room was a place of adventures and of fond memories they had put
it together for him shortly after they had married. Frodo loved to
visit with them and so they had surprised him with a place to call his
own in their home. He looked around and realized that many of his
things were here now and he wondered if it was expected that he would
now live here permanently. But what of his home, his room and his
mum's things, could he bear never to live there again? Living in
Brandyhall had always been difficult he was a Brandybuck by blood only.
His heritage was mixed as were most hobbits but he was a Baggins by
name and Baggins meant Odd. He had known this from an early age he was
just not quite a Brandybuck and not quite a Took. His home was
his parents were they were he was happy and comfortable now they were
gone. He wondered without his Mum would he really be home here in
Without his Mum…it rang strange in his ears. What would become of
him? He wondered were he would stay. Here with Esme and Saradoc
or in his own room or would he be sent from Buckland forever. He
wondered if Bilbo would take him away to Hobbiton. It really
didn't matter he decided for nowhere would ever be home to him again.
He rose and went to the privy to get a bath. The coppers were
full and always hot in the mornings. He lifted the heavy pot and
poured the steaming water into the tub then the cool water to make it
bearable. He climbed in with the bar of soap and began to scrub.
He tried to remember the last time he had taken a bath. It
was the morning that his parents went "away". His mum had poured the
water for him telling him they were still to heavy for him to
lift. He supposed now he would always pour his own. The
tears filled his eyes again and he wondered would everything he did
everyday be so painful. He stared at the water and the tears fell
softly dripping off his tiny nose and into his bath.
Part of his mind told him that the water had grown cold. Yet he did not
move he sat staring at the ripples. Other folks must have come in
it was a large bath divided into small private rooms. But he
remained alone thinking staring, wondering what he would do how he
could go on. Indeed why he should go on at all. It was Saradoc
who came for him. He heard him speak yet he still did not move
though he was shivering violently. Finally he felt himself lifted from
the tub and wrapped carefully in a towel and carried away.
Saradoc carried him back to his rooms but as they got to the door Frodo
began to struggle and cry. No I want to go home, he was kicking and
struggling so that Saradoc had to put him down. Frodo hit the
floor running and left his towel behind. Esme simply put her
hands over her mouth and began to cry. She couldn't stand to see
the lad in such a state.
The hallway was empty and Frodo ran down to his own home his parents
home and into his room. "My room" he thought. He pulled on some
mismatched clothing and climbed up into his bed. "My bed" he
thought. And he lay down on his pillows. After a few moments he
saw Saradoc peek in and check on him then quietly leave.
Saradoc wasn't sure what to do but the lad seemed content where he was
and so he left him. He was dressed and warm and clean for the first
time in several days. Perhaps it would be good if he were left in his
own rooms for a bit. He slowly walked back to tell Esme that Frodo was
safe and to let Bilbo know what had happened.
Frodo heard the door close and he sat up. He wiped his eyes and nose
with his sleeve and then remembered how his mum scolded for that and
vowed never to do it again. He climbed out of bed and wandered
around the place he had lived all his life. It was different
somehow it was empty it was no longer home. He walked though to
his parents room and walked in…almost he knocked as he always
did. The habit so ingrained that he had to will himself not to do
it. He stood staring at their bed, many mornings he would knock
and then push through the door and jump into bed with them. He
turned from the sight of it.
A strange thought came to him then and he went to his Da's chest of
drawers. He picked up the clothing that was laid out just as
always and he held it to his face. Faint traces of his Da's smell
remained and he pulled the far to big waist coat on over his own
He went to his Mum's closet then and touched all of her things.
Fingering them lightly and lovingly. She had a kerchief that she
wore almost everyday. He picked up the soft worn cotton it had
been washed recently but he held it against his face and he could smell
her hair. He tied it around his neck loosely. He got a
drink and a piece of cheese that was still in the pantry and sat down
in his Da's chair.
Bilbo found him sleeping there hours later. The half filled juice glass
teetering on the edge of the chair and bits of cheese scattered over
his chest and the chair. Bilbo gently took the cup from him and
then stood looking at him watching him sleep.
He was simply glad to see that the lad had thought to feed
himself. Then he noted the waistcoat and the kerchief and his
smile faded a bit. Though he was glad Frodo had found some sort of
comfort. He doubted the child would want to live in the place
with out his parents. His own eyes were swollen as he had managed
to find sometime to himself and found the loss of Drogo and Primula had
hurt more than he had thought. It was a grief he would carry for
sometime Drogo had been a favorite cousin. He put his own feeling
aside and focused on Frodo. What would be done with Frodo what could be
done? His heart told him that Frodo was his child. Hadn't
he thought as much when he was a wee babe in his Mums arms? He had
loved him from the moment he saw him so pale and tiny and frail.
Yet his practical hobbit sense told him he was not equipped to handle a
lad Frodo's age. He needed the guidance of two. He wondered if
Esmeralda and Saradoc would consider it or if they assumed he would
take Frodo with him.
All the potential problems began to flit through his mind. The
lad may feel rejected if I do not take him. Yet he needs the security
of being where he is familiar. And I am just not able to care for
his needs myself he finally thought. "I must discuss this with
Saradoc at once." He whispered to himself. He took one last look
at the dear lad sleeping n the chair and went to find Saradoc.
Saradoc, Esmeralda and Bilbo sat in the parlor room of Drogo and
Primula's home. It was a small but efficient grouping of rooms
and neat as a pin as Prim always left it. Esmeralda looked around
despairing for her friend. Primula Baggins had been one of the
gentlest folk she had ever known. Her death was a great loss to
all of Buckland but no greater to anyone than the dear lad in the next
room. He still slept in his Da's chair wearing his old waistcoat
and his Mum's kerchief. The sight of him had nearly broken
her. Esmeralda loved the lad and Bilbo had brought them all here
to see him as he lay and to discuss the fate of Frodo Baggins.
Frodo was a bright lad and no doubt the questions had arisen in his mind. Who would care for him, and where would he live.
Bilbo loved him it was true but during their long talk it became
apparent that Bilbo did not feel up to the task. He brought up
many good arguments. He desired to adopt Frodo one day as his
heir but did not wish it to be public for many years. As a
bachelor he felt ill equipped to handle an 11-year-old lad alone.
He felt that if Frodo could remain in his usual environment that for
now it would be best.
It was Saradoc at last who tried to sum up what Bilbo was trying to
say. "He cannot go with you now, you say. And better he
remain in his home. But who will be the lads guardians and would
he wish anyone other than you dear Bilbo?" Esme bowed her head
knowing the answer before the question could be asked.
"We will take him," she whispered. Saradoc and Bilbo looked to
her. " I love him as a child of my own already. If Frodo will
consent he will stay with us until he is old enough to go with you
Saradoc smiled gently at his wife. He too had known that her
words were the only real solution. They would not adopt the lad
they would simply care for him as they always had. Then with out
any entanglements he would be Bilbo's adopted heir when he no longer
needed them. Bilbo smiled too and it was settled an agreement
among family and dear friends. It was an agreement to protect and care
for a lad that they all considered a son. All that was left was
for them to talk with Frodo and help him understand.
Esme went to the kitchen and put the pot on to boil for afternoon
tea. She hummed a tune as she worked and put out some
cakes. Saradoc and Bilbo remained in the parlor working out
details. She heard the rush and pattering of his feet first and
smiled to herself. Frodo was awake and from now until he was
grown she would care for him. She turned toward the door just as
he arrived. His face was alight with joy and excitement…then dark
and forlorn. The light left his eyes he moaned softly and he
collapsed in a heap on the floor.
"Frodo!" She screamed and rushed to him. She slid to her
knees beside him. She lifted his slight body to her lap and
cradled him as she had when he was a wee lad. She rocked calling
him softly out of his faint. Bilbo and Saradoc found her there
cradling him weeping for his loss.
Frodo groaned his intense blue eyes fluttered open. There was
little recognition there then he came to himself. She saw the
thoughts race through his mind then the utter despair returned.
"I thought you were Mum," he cried.
Esme held him close, "I am so sorry Frodo."
"Esme? What ever am I to do?" he whimpered and snuggle close to her.
"Oh Frodo, luv…I don't know. Just don't ever forget them lad, they loved you so."
"I won't forget I loved them too." He broke down into a new wave
of tears. Grief took him once again. Esmeralda looked up at her
husband and Bilbo and shook her head. Now was not the time to
discuss his new arrangements it could wait after all. The lad was
already home he just didn't know it yet. Bilbo would be an almost
constant part of his life. Visiting and schooling him and sharing
Birthdays but his home for now would be as it always had been,
"Shhhhhh, Frodo, hush lad", she soothed and rocked until he cried himself to sleep yet again.
"Rest Frodo you are home."