Gift of the Valar - Chapter 1: The Beginning
He set his satchel down upon the bed in the room he was to occupy. He wondered to himself ' how many rooms have I called home?' He tried not to dwell on that. He really wanted this newest living arrangement to work out, for quite honestly Frodo knew what he really wanted, a place to call home.
He sighed and wondered how best to act...and be...around his Uncle Bilbo. 'He'll want me to be respectable I expect' he thought to himself as he eyed the elegance of the finest hobbit hole in the Shire. A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth as he realized that the elder hobbit was considered anything but respectable by the tonques that wagged behind hobbiton's society. 'Perhaps he'll want me to seem respectable to everyone else....but be privately interested in his tales of adventure'. He paused in his thoughts as he realized 'being repectable may be the challenge of this arrangement'. Frodo mulled over his thoughts, he'd have no trouble being interested in tales of adventure.
Frodo had spent much of his young life lost in the pages of books, preferring to see the world through the eyes of others rather than live in the world he had left to him. He suspected that his love of the printed word, rather than his distant blood tie, had been the reason the elderly hobbit had sought him out. Frodo found himself hoping that he could figure out what Bilbo wanted from him in this arrangement. He reallywanted this one to work out. He had a year before his adoption would becom final in the eyes of hobbit law...a year that unknown to him at that moment, would test his strength, loyalty and love to their very limits. He sat on the bed and looking at his hands, vowed to be the very hobbit lad his Uncle envisioned...as soon as he figured out what that was.
Suddenly a lilting and cheery voice broke the pattern of Frodo's thoughts.
"Frodo lad, there you are, still eying the new room eh? Well, what do you think lad, will it suit you? Of course we can make changes as we go along, but I think you'll find it comfortable." Bilbo said cheerily. Frodo smiled to himself, his Uncle Bilbo did have a way of answering his own questions, "that comes of living alone for so long I expect, he thought to himself.
Frodo took a moment to take in his surroundings a comfortable armchair by the fire, bed covered with downy quits and soft pillows and a large bookcase filled with books he was just itching to open. "Uncle Bilbo, this looks like the perfect arrangement to me" Frodo said as his whole face lit up in honest appreciation of the glories in front of him.
Bilbo looked at his nephew and soon to be adopted heir, he took in the serious demanor, the thin and chisled features which were highlighted by his shockingly blue and somewhat sad eys. 'What he needs , you silly hobbit' he thought to himself 'is a good friend and time to find some fun in life....he is entirely too serious for such a young child....caries the weight of the world he does'. Bilbo clapped his charge on the back, "Welcome to Bag End lad, we shall have some fun here, yes we shall indeed. And with that Bilbo led Frodo down the hallway. After a quick tour of the hobbit hole they settled in for a cup of tea and some mushroom stew in front of the kitchen fire. Bilbo found that he had to encourage the lad to eat ' I expect he's just nervous' he thought to himself. 'I do hope that I can make him feel at home here....he has had a tough time of it' he thought. "Well lad, a long day it's been, we'd best turn in so you'll be fresh for meeting the cream of Hobbiton's society tomorrow" Bilbo said laughingly.
The next day Frodo awoke slowly, listening to the sounds of the day. He could hear the steady 'clip clip' of grass shears outside his window...along with a voice. He got up from his bed and moving noiselessly to the window spied the broad back and sandy curls of a hobbit who was on his knees busy moving plants around in the garden. "ah yes....there ye go love...you'll be happier here next to this here bed 'o roses. I know ye didn't get on with the daisies so well. 'Tis ok....you'll be on better terms with these here chrysanthamums." Frodo smiled to himself as he listened to the voice. He didn't mean to eavesdrop, but found himself drawn to the ease and comfort of the voice. He moved closer to the window, straining to get a better look at this chatty gardener. Frodo noted the ease with which this hobbit worked the earth and how lovingly he handled each bloom. As the gardener turned to take another planting from his wheelbarrow Frodo was surprised to see that this accomplished gardener was young, probably no older than 12 or 14. Frodo slipped quietly back from the window and he suddenly felt very alone.
A short time later he found himself dressed; dark brown trousers, white shirt and brown weskit. "Well, I guess I look respectable" he muttered to his reflection and he made his way down the hallway to the kitchen. His Uncle Bilbo was up already, making quite a commotion as he busily ran from one end of the kitchen to the other, trying to cook, make the tea and set the table all at the same time.
Frodo eyed the situation carefully and decided he would be most useful to his Uncle by setting the table. He quietly started setting out plates, cups and flatware. Then, as the kettle started boiling he found himself reaching for the oven mitt and pouring the steaming water into the cups at the table. Bilbo paused long enough to say "There's a good lad Frodo, teas on the top shelf, next to the sugar...right you are..put the sugar on the table while you're at it. Oh dinglebats...forgot the butter" Bilbo's voice trailed off as he scooted out to the root cellar to fetch the butter he'd made yesterday.
Frodo found himself pulling muffins from the oven, stirring the eggs and turning the bacon as Bilbo re-enterd the room, looking a little flush after his sprint to the root cellar. "Here Uncle, let me get that, why don't you sit and enjoy your tea while it's still hot. I've got breakfast nearly on the table" he said, hoping to sound fresh and cheery. Truthfully, he'd much rather still be abed, he was not an early riser as apparently his Uncle was. 'I can be an early morning riser if that's what he's looking for' he thought to himself.
By the time they'd eaten and together cleared the dishes and tidied up it was going on mid morning. "Well Frodo my boy, let's get to our wandering shall we"? Bilbo said with great enthuasiasm.
Frodo looked longingly at the armchair by the fireplace in the study and the shelf of books he'd been hoping to explore. Well, his exploration of Uncle Bilbo's library would have to wait he guessed to himself. Just then he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Here you go lad, I brought you your coat, the one with the big pockets " Bilbo said warmly.
Frodo looked puzzled for a moment, not understanding. Bilbo winked. "You never know when your'e going to want to slip a bit of reading into your morning wandering....go on my dear boy...choose one that'll fit right here" he said as he patted the pocket of Frodo's brown velvet walking coat.
"Are you sure Uncle Bilbo? I know how important your books are to you" Frodo asked him softly as he eyed the books with reverence.
"Absolutely my boy, books that are closed will never do what they're intended for...." Frodo gazed at his Uncle with a question in his eyes "That's open minds my lad, open minds and take you far away from here....which is where we should be now ourselves" Bilbo laughed as he clasped Frodo's shoulder, stuffed a book in his nephew's pocket and pushed him gently towards the door.
The freshness of Autumn was in the air as Bilbo escorted his new charge around Hobbiton. Frodo had not been back to hobbiton since he'd lived there as a child and Bilbo busily pointed out the changes that had occurred. Frodo tried to remember what it had been like here, when his parents were still alive. He searched his mind for an image of them that he could attach to what he was looking at now...but his memories were dim and faded and just beyond his reach. "maybe I'd best not try to bring 'em to mind while I'm still learning my way with Uncle Bilbo' he thought to himself sadly. Without realizing it, Frodo had sighed deeply and rather loudly while lost in his thoughts, just as Bilbo was intorducing him to Mr. Sandyman, the town miller.
He blushed with embarassment as Bilbo eyed him strangely and the miller's son Ted snickered from behind his father's rather sizable frame. "Well Baggins, a mite small your new lad looks compared to my Ted" Mr. Sandyman continued his discourse witout seeming to have noticed Frodo's lapse in attention. "But I'm guessing some romping with the boys of Hobbiton will but put some meat on his bones" The miller laughed loudly as he clapped Frodo on the back, none to gently, in a gesture of welcome. Frodo found himslef propelled forward, violently, from the force of the miller's greeting and was saved from tumbing over the rail into the mill pond by the quick thinking of the miller's son Ted who grabbed Frodo roughly by the collar of his coat and jerked him back.
"Well Da, it's gonna take some serious romping and wrestling to bring this one up to snuff eh?!!" Ted laughed with
what seemed an evil gleem in his eye. Frodo stared at Ted for a long moment and thanked him before turning to respectfully shake the miller's hand "It's been a pleasure meeting you sir, I am certain that I will enjoy many fine outings with your son and the other boys of Hobbiton."
As they walked away from the mill Frodo muttered under his breath "it'll be a cold day before I enjoy any outing with that one".
Bilbo eyed his nephew with concern. "Are you alright then lad? I might have warned you about that pair, they tend to be big on brawn and naught else." Bilbo laughed.
"Honestly Uncle, Iv'e never felt so...well, assaulted from one family's introduction" Frodo laughed a little stiffly, but as they walked farther from the mill he became serious and continued "There's real evil in him Uncle". He said staring intently into Bilbo's eyes.
Bilbo was a little uncomfortable with the intensity of Frodo's gaze. "I'll grant you that they're not always the brightest of the bunch lad....but evil? That seems a harsh description."
Frodo grabbed his Uncle's arm "He willdo great harm to someone I, and you hold dear" Frodo continued. His eyes seemed to stare eerily right through Bilbo and the old hobbit knew that his friend Gandalf had been right, there was something different, something special, surreal, almost elvishabout the lad.
"Frodo, my dear boy, are you alright? perhaps you should rest a moment. A bit of a nasty scare back there, nearly toppling into the water.." Bilbo's voice trailed off as he looked at his nephew. Frodo stared,and as if in a trance continued "Be wary of his ways, he seeks only his own betterment, no matter the cost to others".
Bilbo reached up his hand to steady Frodo as he suddenly swayed and nearly fell. "Frodo my boy, what's gotten into you? You are not well....here, sit a moment." Bilbo guided Frodo to a spot under a nearby tree and taking Frodo's book from his pocket began fanning him.
Frodo was pale with beads of sweat across his brow. He closed his eyes a moment and when he opened them he was looking into the concerned face of his Uncle. "Frodo, Frodo my boy whatever is wrong?" Bilbo whispered with great concern in his voice.
Frodo was dazed, "Oh Uncle, I am so sorry, I don't know what comes over me at times" he buried his face in his hands, ashamed of what his Uncle had witnessed. He felt Bilbo tenderly grasp his chin in his hand, lifting his chiln Bilbo stared into his nephew's eyes "Frodo my boy, you've had some tough times. It'll take you some time to 'find your feet' and I'll be here to help you every step of the way". Bilbo said quietly.
Frodo sighed, not wanting to scare his Uncle, but desiring to be truthful. "At times I see things Bilbo" he whispered "I see things happen in my mind."
"Now lad, I'm sure you've got one of the finest minds for adventure, and the most interest in book tales I've ever seen in a hobbit, besides myself. I'm sure your imagination is playing with you at times." Bilbo replied.
Frodo looked beseechingly at his Uncle, wanting him to understand, desiring that there be no secrets between them, but...perhaps now was not the time to make his thoughts known. He smiled weakly "I'm sure you're right Uncle" He replied quietly.
Bilbo eyed the boy carefully, his color was coming back and he seemed to be breathing easier. This was a big change for the lad, perhaps it was just the excitement. But Bilbo decided that if he remembered it, he'd try to mention this episode to Gandalf, he might just have an explaination...he just might Bilbo thought to himself.
"Come on my boy, we'll make one more stop today then it's home to Bag End for a bit of rest, that's what you're needing...maybe 2nd breakfast will settle you" Bilbo said knowingly.
'Dear Uncle Bilbo' thought Frodo as the elder hobbit helped him to his feet. 'I've certainly given him a fright, I'd best find a way to keep these 'visions' to myself, or I'll find myself back in Brandy Hall'. He resolved to work harder to keep his views of the future to himself.