Where's Frodo?

By KathyG.

How is it that, near the end of the prologue in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Frodo tells Bilbo that he's going to go off and wait for Gandalf, and then, in the introduction to the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo thinks that Frodo is still somewhere in the smial? This little movie-verse gapfiller explains how that could have possibly happened. (Thanks a million to Dreamflower02 for beta-ing my story!)

Disclaimer: Bilbo, Frodo, and the other hobbits are not my creation, but J.R.R. Tolkien's. And the scenes I have sought to explain in my story are not mine, but Peter Jackson's and New Line Cinema's.

Gazing up at the clouds drifting across the sky, Bilbo sighed. Pleasant though it was to sit outside, smoking his pipe, he'd been woolgathering long enough; he had a job to get back to inside. It was time for him to return to his study and get back to work on his book. After all, time was running out, since Bilbo was leaving the Shire that night, never to return; before he died, he wanted to eventually have his book ready for Frodo to read. It was going to be difficult to continue writing as it was with all the visitors that he had already been getting that day. Doubtless there would be more visitors in spite of the sign nailed on his gate, and he was counting on Frodo to deal with them.

So with his pipe dangling from his fingertips, the elderly hobbit strolled back up the steps and into the smial. His furry feet made no sound as he returned to his study, where beams of sunlight poured through the round window facing the study's entrance; his high-topped desk blocked that window. With a brief glance toward the stacks of books littering the floor to the left of his desk, he pulled out his chair.

Perching on the soft cushion spanning the seat of his wooden chair and sticking his knees underneath his desk, Bilbo opened the book's soft red leather covers, the first six pages of which already contained paragraphs of his handwriting. He had already finished the letter that he had written to Frodo at the beginning of that book, in part to explain about Erebor and the nearby city of Dale, and their destruction by the dragon, Smaug. He had begun writing that letter the night before and had worked well into the night, returning to it as soon as he had eaten first breakfast. Now, Bilbo wanted to start afresh with a new beginning, leaving his letter to serve as the prologue. He fully intended to eventually leave that book with his nephew, to serve as an account of his adventure with Gandalf the Wizard and the Dwarves 60 years before, even though he would be taking it with him for now. He was confident that at some point, he and Frodo would be reunited, if only for a time. He could share the book with his nephew then.

"The 22nd day of September, in the year, 1400," he muttered after clearing his throat. "By Shire Reckoning. Bag End, Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, Westfarthing. The Shire. Middle-earth." He paused to ponder that. "The Third Age of this world," he mused in a low voice.

After Bilbo had turned to a fresh, blank page that immediately followed the ones that he had written his prologue on, he picked up his quill pen and dipped it back into the ink container. "'There and Back Again,'" he continued to softly mutter to himself, as he wrote the title. "'A Hobbit's Tale, by Bilbo Baggins.'" Setting down his pen, he turned to the next blank page and then, leaning back in his chair, he folded his right arm across his chest and inserted the tip of his pipe into his mouth with his left. "Now," Bilbo mused, as he took a whiff of Old Toby, "where to begin?" As smoke from his pipe wafted toward the ceiling, his face brightened. "Ah, yes!" He dipped his pen back into the reddish, squat-shaped ink bottle and bent back over his desk. "'Concerning Hobbits,'" he wrote, muttering those words aloud.

For the next few minutes, as yellow flames crackled in the fireplace to his right, Bilbo wrote down his thoughts about hobbits and about life in the Shire, pondering aloud in the process. He wrote, among other things, about the hobbits' love for food, ale, pipe-weed, peace and quiet, and in particular, for gardening. Suddenly, as the elderly hobbit leaned back in his wooden chair and chuckled, he heard a knock on the front door. He half-turned toward the study's entrance. "Frodo! Someone at the door!"

Bending back over his desk, he went back to what he was writing; shortly, somebody knocked on the door again. With a sigh of annoyance, he yelled, "Frodo! The door!"

An instant later, yet another knock interrupted his concentration. Quite annoyed that time, Bilbo said to himself, "Sticklebacks! Where is that boy?!" And then, in a shrill voice, he yelled, "Frodo!"

No answer. It was as if Frodo wasn't even in the smial! Where could he be?! "Where's Frodo?!" he muttered, fidgeting.

Suddenly, a bit of a conversation from a little less than an hour before came flooding back to Bilbo's memory…

"Right, then. I'm off." As he spoke, Frodo, who had just nailed a "No admittance except on party business" sign on the gate on Bilbo's orders, raised his hand in farewell and then started down the path under a partly-cloudy sky even as he talked, with a leather-covered book in his left hand.

"Off to where?" Bilbo asked, standing at the top of the flight of steps leading down to the gate.

"Eastfarthing Woods! I'm going to surprise him," Frodo said, pausing.

"Well, go on, then! You don't want to be late." Not needing to be told twice, Frodo, who had already started off again, darted down the path till he had disappeared around the curve…

Of course, Bilbo thought, chagrined. I should have remembered. Frodo has gone to the Eastfarthing Woods to wait for Gandalf. I will have to answer the door myself. He shook his head. At least, when he returns, I will know that Gandalf has arrived.

Rising to his feet, the elderly hobbit laid his pen on the desk and left the study to answer the door. Silently, he hoped that it was not the Sackville-Bagginses; he knew that it wasn't likely to be Gandalf yet, although he was fully confident that the wizard would arrive in time for Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday party that evening. Bilbo paused to glance out the window first; to his relief, it was not Otho Sackville-Baggins, his wife, Lobelia, or their son, Lotho. Instead, Lily Cotton, who lived on a farm near Bywater with her husband and children, stood fidgeting on the Bag End doorstep; she must have finished his birthday cake.

At least, he thought, if the Sackville-Bagginses do come to my birthday party tonight, Lobelia won't be stealing any of my valuables; I took the precaution of hiding them before Frodo left the smial. With a relieved smile, Bilbo strode to the front entrance to swing open the round, bright-green door and welcome Lily in.