'What Ifs' and 'If Onlys' - Chapter Three: Farmer Maggot's Dog

"Frodo! Frodo Baggins, where are you?"

Frodo slowed his sprint to a jog at the sound of his mother's voice. "FRODO!?" He winced. Oh boy, this was going to be fun. He slowed his jog into a slow walk, kicking at the stones sullenly. Suddenly a bright flash of color caught his eye.

"Perfect!" he breathed and reached down.

"There you are, Frodo!"

With a slight gasp he straightened, one tiny hobbit hand now filled. The outline of his mother could be seen marching quickly towards him down the garden path. Primula Brandybuck Baggins was a small plump woman with dark curls and green, piercing eyes. Frodo could feel those eyes boring into his forehead as she furiously approached him. He gulped and thrust his clenched hand behind his back.

"M-Mama," he began hesitantly. She had reached him now. Crossing two bronzed, strong arms she waited for his excuse. He gaped for a while searching for the most pitiful story he could come up with. Now he had it. Looking up with pleading blue pools and arched brows he began.

"Mama, I'm so, so, so sorry I'm late! See, I was walking through the field to make sure that the crop was coming along nicely...wh-which it is! Quite nice...in fact I think that this year we'll have the biggest crop ever!" He stopped to let this sink in, but his mother remained unimpressed. "Well...like I was saying, I was just walking through the field when all of a sudden one of Farmer Maggot's dogs came barreling out of nowhere! The big one...you know...with the dripping fangs and huge muscles like a horse." Primula couldn't help but smile. The lad had been terrified of those dogs since Maggot had ordered them after him the last time he decided to help himself to some of the Farmer's mushrooms. Somehow the dogs had a way of being anywhere and everywhere an accident happened. I swear Mama, I was just sitting here polishing my bow when one of Farmer Maggot's dogs burst in and knocked your vase right over. You know...the dog with the missing eye and bloody mouth... Or whenever Frodo was late. Well, to begin, school let out kind of late. Then I walked Lily and Hufbuff to their house, which is on the other side of Buckland, remember? Well, then on my way back I saw one of Farmer Maggot's dogs chasing a poor cat down, and you know, that poor cat didn't stand a chance, so I had to help it. It was the dog that foamed at the mouth and only had three legs...And even occasionally problems at school. Farmer Maggot's dog ate it.

"Frodo," Primula scolded gently, her anger slowly draining from her heart. She could never be angry with her boy for long.

"I'm really sorry again, Mama, but look," Frodo revealed his hidden hand and its contents. His mother gasped and grinned.

"Oh, Frodo...flowers! How sweet!"

Frodo grinned, quite pleased with himself. He had not only gotten out of being grounded for a week, but he had even scored points with his mother today. His grin dissipated as quickly as it had come.

"Ow! Ow!"

Primula had a firm hold on his slightly tapered lobe. Dragging him along behind her she began to walk briskly back to the small Smial in which the Baggins family lived. Frodo staggered along behind her, whimpering while she twisted his ear.

"We're already several hours late...and you still haven't packed! Come along, it's time that you put your back into it, and because you dawdled with Mister Maggot's dogs again you'll have only half the time you had this morning. Come along!"

Drogo followed them at a distance, trying to laugh as silently as he could. He watched his wife drag their son into to round doorway. He also saw his wife's best attempt at a serious expression fail as she released the boy's ear and embraced him gently. He grinned happily. He glanced at the sky to check the unpredictable Shire weather. The sky was pure blue and the air was warm. He sighed contently. Today was a perfect day...for boating, that is. The family was taking a trip to the lake for a weekend of relaxation, not that the Hobbit-life was stressful, but that the lake was relaxing. Relaxing and peaceful.

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