Sorry this took so long, folks. The days just seemed to pass by so fast!!! And I've been a bit depressed about my writing.:/ -Rufferto.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
TWILIGHT YEARS -- CHAPTER FIVE
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Frodo looked up at Bilbo as he scooted into a stool rubbing his sweaty face. He really didn't feel all that well…but his stomach was literally empty. He'd had nothing to eat most of the day and what he'd had to eat he had thrown up throughout the day while they tried to figure out what was wrong with him. Depending on how they were cooked, Frodo really liked apples. He smiled tentatively at the older hobbit. Bilbo never looked old though, he always looked the same every time Frodo saw him.

"Bilbo…" Frodo asked tentatively as a few spoonfuls of the pudding was scraped out for him. "What if I can't eat this either?" he asked in a small frightened voice. It wasn't that he didn't -want- to be able to eat, it was just that it hurt every time and it always made him want to curl up and hide.

But…Bilbo was here. And Bilbo always made everything all right.

"Well now, lad. Then we'll just have to find something that doesn't. Don't you worry; I've a few tricks up the old sleeve when it comes to cooking. Learned well. Your father was not entirely healthy all the time either, Frodo, m'boy. We often had to take turns keep'in an eye on him." Bilbo pushed the little bowl over to the small hobbit and sat down next to him, reaching across the table to ruffle his nephews' thick mop of curls.

Inwardly, the older hobbit frowned at the dampness of Frodo's curls and the heat of his nephew's brow. But…he did need something in his stomach. There was also a nice glass of warm tea with a mixture of oranges and apple spice in it, but he did not ply that yet.

Frodo took a spoon and dipped it into the little bowl. He swirled it around nervously and a little sadly. Whenever he was told something about his parents his throat tended to knot up and he suppressed a little sob as he tried to be brave. Bilbo had made the pudding after all…just like his mama used to make. He wished with all his heart that she was the one feeding it to him, but unfortunately that was not to be. The child took a deep breath and brought a tiny bit of the putting to his lips, his pink tongue snaking out tentatively to lick at it a bit first.

His bright blue eyes widened a little as he sucked down the delicate thick liquid. It tasted almost like he remembered it…even on top of the icky taste in his mouth from the tonic and throwing up all day and it was just so nice to taste something good. Tears welled up in his big blue eyes as he sniffled. Bilbo moved closer to the hobbit and brought a gentle cloth to dab the hobbit's little nose. "There now, my lad." He lifted Frodo into his lap and let his nephew snuggle against him. "This better?"

"Yes, Uncle Bilbo." Frodo whispered softly as he looked back at the bowl. The small bit he had taken seemed to settle a little better than anything else he had taken that day or for the last few days even. He reached over and filled his spoon again as he felt a bit calmer.

Only a few more bites later and Frodo shook his head when Bilbo tried to cajole him to eat more. "I'm sorry…tummy full…" The small hobbit yawned and blinked up at Bilbo sleepily. "Are you taking me away in the morning?"

"In the afternoon, Frodo. Don't you worry about a thing." Bilbo frowned at the small amount that the hobbit ate, too small. It was hardly enough to feed a tiny bird let alone a growing hobbit lad. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a while, trying to come up with some different things to feed Frodo, but also trying to figure out what he could do to help Frodo in Brandy Hall. He needed someone looking after him who focused totally on him, especially when he was such a delicate lad. "Just have a bit to drink, there's a good lad."

Frodo complied, reaching over to take the tea in his small hands and sipped. He was rather comfortable at the moment, and his stomach was actually settling somewhat though he still felt pain here and there…at least he didn't feel like he was about to throw up.

That's it! Bilbo smiled. A nurse. He would get one of the Banks lasses to look after Frodo. What an excellent idea. She could come into the hall and make Frodo personal meals. He'd speak to the Gaffer and ask him about who would be suitable. The Gaffer Gamgee knew all of the lower class hobbits in the Shire…and especially the one's who might need extra money in the Buckland area. He would take Frodo to Bag End and figure out what the lad could and couldn't eat and then he'd make a list. It all made wonderful perfect sense, and he could still go about his travels knowing that Frodo was in good hands.

"Bilbo?" Frodo yawned again, pushing away the tea.

"What is it lad?"

"Can you take me on one of your adventures?" the small voice was muffled against the older hobbit's vest but the plaintive note was clear. Frodo didn't want to stay in Brandy Hall anymore. "I want to see what the mountains are like."

Bilbo sighed gently and lifted the small hobbit into his arms. Frodo was really not that much to carry, smaller than most children and frightfully thin at the time. Thin enough that Bilbo could feel the child's ribs and that wasn't right…that wasn't right at all.

"Don't you be talking silly there, Frodo. You're far too young to be gallivanting after the likes of me." He carried the young hobbit back down to his bedroom and tucked him into the soft quilts. "But…I'll tell you about them. And we can imagine that the next few weeks are an adventure. It'll be just the two of us alone together and we can imagine what we please. What do you say, lad?"

Frodo coughed a little and smiled wearily. "I'd like that. Bilbo…."

Bilbo watched over Frodo as the small lad finally closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. When he did, the older hobbit took a cool cloth from a nearby basin and rubbed down the boy's forehead and face. He was not too sure it was a good idea to move Frodo at all, but he was not entirely comfortable looking after the lad here in Brandy Hall. People were always under foot and getting in the way.

Esmerelda was at the door to Frodo's bedroom smiling at the Baggins, "He did eat something, then."

"A little, Esse. But I feel he'd fare better in Bag End with me. Its not that you're not doing a good job here, but I think the Lad needs some personal handling and special foods. I've been thinking a bit and I may have a solution to the problem. I know you care about him too, Esse. Don't blame you t'all."

Esmerelda laid her hand on the old hobbit's shoulder, "I wish you would make up your mind about staying in the Shire, Bilbo Baggins."

"Someday." Bilbo wrung out the cloth and gazed at the angelic face of his young nephew who had been through so much. "Someday I will."

**TBC**