"Can I hold him"? Frodo had asked nearly every day since he had
arrived. Esmeralda had not yet allowed it. She knew Frodo
would not hurt him; at least not intentionally. But the baby was
so small there would be plenty of time.
As it was she enjoyed just watching her dear Frodo look at her little
one. Already it was apparent that Frodo held a great love for the
child. She was not surprised Frodo was full of love and eager to
give it to others.
"Meriadoc Brandybuck", she whispered his name as he nursed. She
tickled his soft velvety cheek with her thumb. He was a sweet
baby; hardly any trouble at all. His hair was the same as his
Da's, a light brown, golden like honey. The curls were growing at
an amazing rate adding to his appeal.
Esmeralda placed him on the settee beside her when he had finished his
second breakfast. The babe was awake and attentive looking around
and cooing. His chubby baby fists swung in the air as he tried to
focus his eyes.
Frodo came into the parlor and stood next to his cousin. He bit
his lip tentatively, deciding if he should ask yet again. It was
a great desire in his heart to hold Merry close to himself. He
didn't understand it and really didn't care to; he just knew he wanted
to be close to him. He chose not to ask this time. Instead
he knelt beside him, his own face mere inches from Merry.
"Hullo Merry". Esme sighed; she knew it was no use. Frodo had
called the lad Merry the moment he saw him. So far only Frodo called
him by his nickname and she had decided not to correct him. In
fact the more she looked at her son the more she saw the rightness in
the name. He simply looked like a Merry; perhaps Meriadoc was a
bit formal for everyday wear, She thought.
At the sound of Frodo's voice Merry stilled and listened. And in
his slow uncoordinated baby way turned his head to find what he
sought. He found Frodo's eyes searching his own. He grew
quiet and stared, sucking on his fist and smiling. Frodo smiled
back and unbidden a tear rose in his eye; he brushed it quickly away.
Frodo placed a hand gently on Merry's chest feeling the warmth and the
rapid beating of his heart. "Was I this small Esme?" Frodo asked
suddenly. "Smaller, Frodo much smaller; but just as sweet and
Frodo smiled he liked when Esme thought about him as a baby and
told of things he had done. It was a connection he needed; a
thing he lacked having lost both parents. Only Esme, Saradoc and
Bilbo knew enough about him to help him in this way; he treasured every
little bit they gave him.
He bent to kiss Merry on his soft cheek; such was his ritual. A
look, a touch, a kiss and a smile, it was enough yet he dearly wished
to hold him. He looked longingly up at Esme, his soulful eyes
burning into her.
She knew what he wanted and she knew that he would have his way. She
could not long say no to young master Baggins when he decided to turn
his gaze on her. She smiled at him, "Alright then Frodo, climb up
and sit down you can hold him."
This was the reward, she thought to herself as she saw Frodo's face
light with joy. To see Frodo completely happy should be enough to
sustain her through any dark times. He was so absolutely perfect
when he smiled like that; the joy spread from his mouth to his cheeks
then straight to his eyes.
Frodo climbed up hastily and sat beside Esme. She picked up Merry and
placed him in his arms. A host of instructions followed; Frodo
heard little of it he was lost in the feeling. The little body in
his arms was so strong yet fragile. He could feel his little ribs move
with each breath. Frodo looked down at his little cousin and
closed his eyes.
He whispered "Merry", the sound of his name in his ears and the
feel of it on his tongue was so right. Frodo felt as if he could
see him, as he would be grown. He felt for him as if he had
always known him; he was a long time friend, a confidant and a fearless
When he opened his eyes again he saw only little Meriadoc Brandybuck a
tiny Hobbit with exceptionally large and fuzzy feet. Just a baby;
he was, but he would be his friend always. Frodo shifted him in
his arms he was heavier than he first thought. His head fit just
right into the crook of his elbow; from there he could feel the soft
breathing against his own chest. He smiled at the wonder of the
little one he held, He was so glad he was finally here.
He whispered softly to him, "I love you Merry…Always"
Esmeralda watched quietly holding back tears that threatened. The
interaction between the two was beautiful yet heart wrenching.
Frodo held Merry's heart she knew. If not yet than as soon as he
understood…No one could resist Frodo Baggins' undivided love and
attention, Merry never had a chance.
She smiled, grinning in joy at the sight before her. It was a
common thing these days. Esmeralda was the proud Mum of the next
Master of Buckland. But that was not what caused her to smile
continually. Her babe was lovely; Sweet tempered and handsome and
yet this was not what brought her to tears of laughter.
It was her dear cousin Frodo; the lad had been in her care for several
years and she loved him as her own. He was her blood after all; though
his name was Baggins. Frodo had waited for Meriadoc to arrive,
upon that arrival had adopted his small cousin as his friend and
It was difficult to get Frodo to leave Merry alone long enough to nap.
Likewise it was impossible to take Merry from Frodo. When Frodo
was near Merry stared at him cooing and laughing; his little legs and
arms would wave frantically for attention.
This was what caused her such joy. The site of the two was like a
tonic to the soul. Frodo spent so much time alone before Merry
had come that it was impossible for her to be firm with him.
Frodo spent most of his time playing with the infant. The love
that He placed onto Merry was obvious and a bit frightening.
Esmeralda knew of Frodo's capacity to love; and though she was the
recipient of his gift, it was but a bare measure of what he gave to
Merry. Seeing him so open and so relaxed and so loving to the
babe is what fed her joy.
The concern she had harbored deeply in her heart for Frodo began
finally to fade. The child had simply never been like this since
his parents had died. Yes, he expressed love and accepted it. Yet
he had never been able to let go and give in fully to his own loving
depths, not since 'they' had gone away. Esme had always known he
was different afterward. The change was subtle and none but those
closest to the lad would ever have noted it.
Since Merry had joined the little family Frodo had returned. He
was the Frodo she remembered from another time. He bloomed like a
desert after a long awaited rain. He glowed in love and joy; all
who looked on him now noticed the change. It was as if someone
had turned a light on inside him. He fairly glowed from inside;
Frodo was indeed a beautiful soul. No one had noticed what was missing
until it had returned.
Esmeralda wiped a tear from her eye yet again. She was so happy
that Frodo was so…the words escaped her; Frodo was truly indescribable
She was brought from her thoughts by Frodo's voice.
"Merry is hungry Esme." Frodo grinned as he held his growing cousin, carrying him to his Mum.
She stifled a laugh at the sight. Frodo was slight of build and
small for his age; but he was strong beyond his size. Merry was a
stout and heavy infant he was hearty and chubby. He held the lad
under the arms, legs dangling hitting Frodo in the belly as he
kicked. Merry had claimed a prize and held tightly to Frodo's
chestnut curls. He tried to pull Frodo to his face by the hair.
"What does he eat when he can't get hobbit?" Frodo remarked using
an age-old joke.
Frodo was never cross with Merry but Esme knew he had enough for the
time being. Even as tolerant as he was Frodo needed a break now and
again. She smiled sweetly at Frodo. "Hungry again is
he?" She took Merry From Frodo's arms releasing the grip on his
hair also. "Alright then Frodo I'll take him" Esme said.
And she tried to think of a task to give Frodo so that he could and
would leave for a bit and take a well-deserved break.
"Frodo luv, could you be a dear and go out and get some fire wood for
the night?" Frodo smiled and with a light in his eyes went to
gather wood. "Wear a jacket", she called after him.
Merry fussed a bit as he always did when Frodo left him. He soon
settled into his supper and then was fast asleep in her arms. She
hurried to place him in his bed so that he would not be
disturbed. She kissed his brow as she lay him down. "Good
night Meriadoc", she said.
She couldn't help but think how lucky Merry was to be loved so.
If the amount of love bestowed was any indication of luck, then Merry
was the luckiest Hobbit in the Shire.
Frodo was back with the wood. She heard him despite his effort to
be silent. He knew it was naptime and always tried very hard not
to disturb. He placed the wood by the grate and sat down next to
Esme. He leaned his head on her shoulder as she began to mend a
Esme tell me about when I was little again. And she did, she
always did if he asked. He asked for so little it was the least
she could do. The very least in return for the love he bestowed
on her little one.
He fell asleep listening to his history an exhausted, peaceful smile on
his soft lips. She placed an arm around his shoulders he was too
big to move now. And so he slept peacefully in the comfort of
love. Esme thought she preferred him where he was anyway. "Sleep
well Frodo Baggins", she whispered as she stroked his soft curls.
They were all so blessed to have him…
He missed him already; he wondered how he would ever get along an
entire week with out Merry. He had promised Bilbo however and he
would not disappoint the old Hobbit. Bilbo was as important to
him as Esme Saradoc and Merry. Since Merry had come he had seen
less of Bilbo; he had no way to get to Hobbiton with out Saradoc.
Bilbo had sent word several weeks prior asking him to come. He
seemed quite lonely in his letter and Frodo had promised, the reply was
sent the following day. Bilbo had sent the Gaffer for him and
Frodo was glad to see him when he pulled up to Brandy hall. He
looked a bit out of sorts not liking to cross the river or knock on the
doors of his "betters", But Bilbo had asked him to do it and so he
could not refuse. In fact he could refuse old Bilbo nothing.
They had been traveling steadily it was a cold day though bright and
cheery. Frodo's mind settled back into thoughts of Merry.
He did not like leaving him behind there was a bond between them that
he knew was forever. Yet he could not understand it, not yet
though he knew one day Merry would be one of his most cherished
friends. He loved him this much he knew; he loved him as much as
Bilbo or Esme or Saradoc, Almost as much as he loved his Mum and
Da. He reflected on the thought, deciding that Merry had brought
all this out of him. He felt so much more since Merry had arrived
he had forgotten how good it felt to love so much that it burned in
Frodo shuddered at his next thoughts, to love so much is to expect
pain. Can I stand to care so much? Could I bear to lose
more? The answer was before him he could not ignore the feelings
he had. How could he dare not love Merry or the others? It
was not possible he decided he had to give what he had inside.
He shifted closer to the Gaffer on the seat of the cart. He
had argued his way to the spot, telling the Gaffer he'd be much warmer
up front with him. In reality he just wanted to be close to
another hobbit. Frodo liked to be alone sometimes but he found
more and more that he just wished for company. To know and
experience as much as he could within the Shire was his hearts desire.
Bilbo was part of it, he taught Frodo to read and to write. He
was getting quite a bit better now. He thought he should have
been practicing more, Bilbo would know he had neglected his
lessons. Bilbo had said that soon he would begin teaching him of
the outside world. Frodo wondered what that meant, he knew Bilbo
had gone on a journey years before and he told marvelous tales about
it. But what exactly was outside the Shire? As one traveled
from Buckland to Hobbiton then on to Tuckborough the lands changed the
trees differed slightly region-to-region. So if one traveled
"outside" would it not be the same? These types of questions
always bothered him when he visited Bilbo.
He turned and looked at the Gaffers careworn, aged face, "Gaffer Gamgee"?
He looked towards Frodo. "Yes Lad, What's on yer mind? It's plain your thinking fer to much again."
Frodo smiled delighted that the Gaffer was willing to indulge him. "Did Uncle Bilbo really leave the Shire?"
"That he did lad, I saw him comeback myself though I was much younger
then of course. He was gone a right long while if I recall,
though where he had been was not tole to me. The Sackville
Bagginses were fixen to sell all his things and move on into BagEnd
when he marched back into town." The gaffer laughed at the scowl
that formed on Frodo's face at the mention of his cousins. "That's how
we felt about it too lad. Believe you me, no one wanted them to
move to Bag End."
The Gaffer laughed again, a hearty laugh it echoed against the woods
they were passing through. "Otho and Lobelia were quite put out
to find Master Baggins still alive not to mention looking well.
They were ordered off and we, the neighbors spent the day setting
things to rights in Bag End. Master Bilbo as I remembered was
quite annoyed by the whole affair. He mumbled and complained and
then vowed that the SB's would never, never live in Bag End." He
looked at Frodo strangely then and smiled.
Frodo smiled back at the Gaffer, still amused at the picture of the
disgruntled Aunt Lobelia being order off the grounds. It
explained much that he recalled from his early life. He had none
but unpleasant memories of his Aunt and Uncle and his cousin
Lotho. More than once he recalled Bilbo and them at odds with
each other. It was no wonder the mention of their names made him
No worries of seeing them on this trip he thought and he sighed.
Just he and Bilbo and the lessons he wriggled in his seat in
anticipation. "Hold on now lad, there is still a ways to go.
We'll be in by supper though and I know Mr. Bilbo has a big sup
planned." Frodo pulled the blanket around his shoulders and leaned in
again to settle for the rest of the ride. He yawned, as his eyes
grew heavy, he was hardly aware of the strong arm that suddenly
encircled him as he slumped to his side sleeping. "Rest young
master", a voice said softly and Frodo did just that.