Young Frodo

by Overlithe

Chapter 43

His visit with Bilbo was going well, it had been over a week and he had learned many new things.  However, Frodo was ready to get back to Buckland.  He was torn; the time he spent with Bilbo was precious to him and he, more and more loved to learn.  Bilbo told such grand tales of his travels and showed him maps of places he could not imagine.  He had met elves, dwarves and big folk on his journey and he knew and had seen so much.  Something about the tales disturbed his heart, there was a vague stirring in his blood; one day to see the things he had heard about.  But the thought of stepping foot beyond the borders of the Shire frightened him, petrified him.  He looked at Bilbo with new admiration.  He could only imagine the bravery it must have taken to walk out of his front door that fateful day.

Frodo shuddered, the anxiety the thoughts caused him were one reason he was ready to return to his life in Buckland.  He missed Merry mostly, but the constant reminders of the adventures of his Uncle were becoming too much.  He needed to get back to his everyday life, the toils of caring for Merry and helping out Esme and Saradoc.

He had only to tell Bilbo he was ready to go home and he would arrange it.  Every time he visited he felt more at home at Bag End. His room in Bilbo's smial was home, in some ways it was more his than his room in Buckland.  The solitude of Hobbiton and Bag End was an additional plus.  In Brandyhall it was seldom that one could find a place to be alone.  At Bag End he could be alone or choose to seek out company.

Frodo smiled at the thought of little Samwise, he had snuck down to the row several times to catch a glimpse of the youngster.  Seeing him made him miss Merry more, while helping him to forget for a while.  Sam was always quietly looking around him, his walk was still unsteady but he had no trouble coming to Frodo when he saw him.

It had been quite a boring day; Uncle Bilbo had gone off to Bywater for some supplies.  Frodo went in search of something to do. He found his way to the row the inhabitants were always friendly and glad to see him.  Little Samwise was in the garden in the front of his home.  He spied Frodo, smiled and laughed and came to him.  Frodo had sat down with him in the dirt and played for hours.  The day ended with a hot bath and scalding sunburn on his face and arms.  Bilbo only laughed at his discomfort, telling him that he should stay in the library and leave the gardening to those more suited.

That day had been an enjoyable break, but now it was time, he was ready to go.  He settled himself at the table for Breakfast.  

"Bilbo, he said.  I'm ready to go home, do you think that I could…" no matter how he said it the request felt ungrateful to him.  "I just need to see Merry," he said and bowed his head.  He tried to conceal the unshed tears in his eyes, he felt foolish for his feelings.  He had never before asked to go home before the time was past.  His heart lay in Buckland, for the time being, and with out Merry his heart was breaking.

Bilbo glanced up from his meal for a moment, wondering what was bothering the lad.  The realization came as he spoke Merry's name.  The lad was simply homesick and missing his new cousin.  He nodded to himself, of course he is, he thought.  Merry is the first hobbit he has allowed himself to love wholly, since…Dear Drogo and Primula.  It's no wonder he misses him they are like brothers.  "Of course Frodo!  You can come and go here anytime you like. This is no prison and there is no required time lad.  When do you wish to go?"

Frodo brightened at the understanding in Bilbo's voice. "Tomorrow would be fine Uncle," he said as he smiled looking at Bilbo's loving expression.

"Tomorrow it is Lad, if its nice outdoors I'll pack a picnic and make a day of it.  Heaven knows; I need to take a peek at that little squirt, Merry." Bilbo smiled at Frodo reassuring the lad.

Frodo beamed with pleasure; perhaps Bilbo would stay a few days to visit he thought.  He wondered if he would always feel so torn in two.  Buckland and Hobbiton seemed so far apart; his heart lay in both locations.  It would be wonderful indeed if Bilbo and his Merry were in the same place for even a short time.  The tingle of excitement fluttered in his belly, tomorrow evening he would see Merry.
 

Chapter 44

Esmeralda heard the calls before the door to their private rooms opened.  Her heart leaped; Frodo was home, she had grown so accustomed to him that his absence was a void.  She never let him know how his visits to Bag End bothered her.  It was all part of a greater future for him she knew.  She could not keep him from becoming all he could be.  So she allowed the separations as painful as they had become, as much as she longed to keep Frodo, as her own it would never, could never, be so.  Meriadoc was Saradoc's heir and adopting Frodo would only complicate things.  Frodo was meant for something different.  She did not know why she knew this; Of course he would one day be Bilbo's heir, that much had been decided.  He would one day be amongst the wealthiest and admired of the Shire.  

She and Saradoc had always considered Frodo quite special.  It was a secret they shared alone, what Bilbo felt and dreamed for the lad they could only imagine.  To them Frodo was…the two of them often lacked the words to describe the feelings.  They felt honored to have been given the opportunity to care for one so…there it was again the lack of description.

Frodo had a life full of love and caring. Yet the lad had endured great hardship already.  He bore it well and though most hobbits bore well under pressure and grief; Frodo had shown himself exceptionally insightful, for one so young.

He entered the room then and the emptiness that had been with her was filled; Frodo was back.  She smiled as he came to her and embraced her sweetly.  "Hullo Frodo lad, you've come home early." She softly whispered into his soft warm curls.

"It was time", was his quiet response. "Where's Merry"?

She smiled knowingly, understanding that it was Merry that drew him.  Merry filled him and delighted him; she was glad and a bit envious of her own son.  She wished Frodo loved her as he did Merry.  The moment passed and she answered him cheerfully.  

"He's in bed luv, but I am sure he is not asleep yet, if you care to disturb him."

Frodo paused but a moment as Bilbo stepped into the room behind him.  "Bilbo needs to stay, he wants to visit Merry too."  Frodo then headed to Merry's room.  As he grasped the knob in the center of the door he heard him and knew Merry was still awake.

He opened the door and looked about in the growing darkness.  "Merry"…he called softly.  He heard rustling in the cradle as he approached.  As he looked over Merry's face broke in to a delightfully contagious smile.

Esme stood at the door with Bilbo undetected watching.  The dim light in the room seemed to brighten as Frodo began talking to Merry.  She could not make out all that he said.  It fascinated her that Frodo spoke to the infant as if he could understand.

It was Bilbo who was able to put the vision to words.  His voice was choked with emotion.  He whispered over Esme's shoulder. "Those two will be friends until the end, mark my words; Frodo is totally devoted to Merry.  Look at him you can see the love pouring out of him."

It was true Frodo was more alive, more everything when he was with his little cousin.  Somehow the little soul in the crib had provided Frodo with something he had needed.  What it was they did not know but all who beheld it were glad for it.  Frodo and Merry would be friends always, until the end of the age.