Young Frodo

by Overlithe

Chapter 39

"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 wondrous."

 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 companion.  

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.


Chapter 40


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 favorite pastime.

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 at times.

"Esme?"…

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 shirt.

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 your chest.

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 cringe.

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.