SUMMARY: "Anchored" is a continuation of "Adrift," but each part can be read on its own. This part covers the period from when Frodo moves to Hobbiton in 1391 to the Long Expected Party in 1401. My aim is to explore how I imagine Frodo's youth might have been, and what influences might have shaped him into the hobbit we all know and love.
A note about age: Some people use the 2/3 rule to figure out how old hobbits should act/appear, i.e. a 30-year-old hobbit would appear about 20 to us humans. I, however, use a nonlinear conversion that I won't bore you with here, except to say that young hobbits will seem about half their age, but it will approach (and pass) 2/3 as they get older.
Hobbit's age (human equivalent)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Lord of the Rings or any of its characters, all of which were created by J.R.R. Tolkien. I do not profit financially from this story; I'm writing it purely as an act of admiration for Tolkien's work.
The Making of a Ringbearer: Anchored
By Obelia medusa
1. The Troll Under the Bed
December 2, 1391
It was mid-afternoon when the travellers finally reached Hobbiton. The journey from Buckland was normally three days on foot, but with a wagon and pony it was scarcely a day and a half. Frodo had already enjoyed the trip tremendously; here he was, travelling with his adventurous Uncle Bilbo as he'd always dreamed. They had camped in the woods the night before, and Bilbo had entertained Frodo and Hamson, a local lad hired to drive the pony, with tales of his adventures.
Frodo could not help wishing the journey would go on a little longer. He was becoming nervous now that they were so close; he was not at all certain he would like his new home. He had come to know Bilbo well in the years since the river had claimed his parents; the old hobbit had taken a special interest in him over his many visits to Brandy Hall, and Frodo, so often lonely and ignored, had delighted in the attention, in spite of the Bucklander relatives who didn't quite approve of Bilbo's ways. Frodo didn't care; he thought it was marvellous that Bilbo went on adventures and did interesting things. There was no hobbit he admired more, in fact.
When the adoption had been suggested, those whose opinions mattered were delighted. As for those who were not delighted, their opinions did not matter, so it was of little consequence. But how would things be, now that Frodo was to live with Bilbo? Frodo did not consider himself a very interesting person to have around; and he had seemed forever to get into trouble at Brandy Hall. Would Bilbo weary of his company after a few weeks? Would he get into trouble in his new home too, and cause Bilbo grief?
Aside from his new guardian, Frodo was uneasy at leaving the only home he had ever known. He told himself that this was an adventure, and he must face it bravely, like Uncle Bilbo would. Frodo knew he had been to Bag End before, when he was very young, but he could not recall it clearly. He had been told that it was a very fine smial, large and richly furnished. Frodo had never imagined he would miss the extensive warren that was Brandy Hall, where a small hobbit lad could get lost in the shuffle at every turn, and yet the familiarity was suddenly comforting.
And then, of course, Frodo already missed his little cousin Merry. How could he expect to find any new friends as dear as Merry?
"We're nearly there, my lad," Bilbo said quietly, interrupting Frodo's musings. "You can already see the smoke rising from the chimney."
Forgetting his melancholy for the moment, the twenty-three-year-old hobbit sat up straighter on the wagon seat, eager for a glimpse of this place.
Hamson glanced sidelong at Frodo and said, "That'll be my Gaffer, Mr. Frodo, warmin' up the place for your arrival." The older tweenager turned his eyes back to the road and urged the pony forward.
"Ah, dear Hamfast," Bilbo said with a chuckle. "I told him we'd be back today."
And just like that, they were rolling smoothly up the lane, past a row of small neat smials set low in the hill ("Bagshot Row," Hamson announced proudly as they passed), and pulling up in front of a bright green door near the top of the hill.
Hamson halted the pony and jumped down from the wagon just as that startling green door swung open. A plainly-dressed, middle-aged hobbit stepped out, nodding at Bilbo. By the close resemblance to Hamson, Frodo knew that this must be his father, Hamfast.
"Welcome back, Master Bilbo," Hamfast said gruffly, although he did in fact look quite pleased to see Bilbo. "I've got the place ready for ye, and the young master."
"Thank you indeed, Master Hamfast!" Bilbo exclaimed, then glanced at Frodo with a twinkle in his eye. "And may I present to you my heir, Frodo Baggins!"
Frodo grinned at this reminder of his new connection with Bilbo, but got to his feet and bowed politely as he had been taught. Now that he was standing, he realized how high up he was off the ground. How was he to get down?
"At your service, Mr. Frodo," the Gaffer muttered. Then, seeming to realize the lad's predicament, he stepped forward and lifted Frodo off the wagon, setting him neatly on the lightly-frosted ground.
"Thank you, sir," Frodo said. Hamfast merely nodded in reply, and directed his son to unload the belongings heaped in the back of the wagon. Frodo was a little intimidated by the Gaffer's gruff manner; had he already done something to offend Bilbo's gardener?
While Hamson set to work, the other three went inside. Bilbo was speaking with Hamfast, but Frodo was too busy looking to listen. The floor was dark, richly polished wood, and the rounded walls, neatly plastered and painted an earthy green, rose and met several feet above Frodo's head, to make the ceiling. They were standing in the foyer, and he could see the long, tubular central hallway burrowing off into the hillside. The hall was lit at intervals with intricately carved candle sconces mounted on the walls. The wainscoting looked old but well cared for, interrupted every so often by a door on one side or the other, and thick oaken beams curved overhead, supporting the tons of earth that comprised the top of the Hill.
Bilbo saw him looking, and came back to put a firm hand on Frodo's shoulder. "Come along, Frodo-lad," he said. "I must give you a tour of your new home, since I doubt you remember your last visit!" Frodo nodded eagerly, and Bilbo looked at Hamfast. "I'd like it if you and your boy stayed to supper, Master Hamfast," he said, with a questioning note in his voice.
"Thank 'ee, sir. I'll go build up the fire in the kitchen, after I help Hamson," Hamfast replied. "My youngest lad is about somewhere, too. I sent him to bring in more kindling from the wood shed."
"Excellent!" Bilbo exclaimed. "I'm sure Frodo will be glad to meet him."
Hamfast went back outside and Bilbo steered Frodo to the second doorway at the right.
"The first leads to the best parlour, my boy," the old hobbit said. "I don't use it much these days, though it does come in handy for entertaining, as does this room!" The door revealed a large dining-room, with a long table in the centre and seats enough for twenty hobbits. A huge fireplace towered in the corner, and Frodo could instantly imagine the fancy dinner-parties that must have been held here, in years gone by.
Next came the kitchen. This was a bright, cheery place with its own set of chairs and a table, all much plainer than those in the dining-room. There was also a more modest cooking fireplace in the kitchen, in which a small fire had been recently built. This room was far smaller than the kitchen Frodo was used to at Brandy Hall, but pots and pans hung from hooks all over the walls, and the gleaming countertops looked well-used.
"Those are two of the pantries," Bilbo said, motioning to more doors. "And here..." they passed through another door "... is my favourite sitting-room."
Frodo liked this room immediately. It wasn't nearly as impressive as the dining-room; it was small and cosy, and more than a bit messy. A well-worn couch and two armchairs faced a brick fireplace, over which were hanging two small framed portraits. Bilbo's parents, Frodo guessed.
They proceeded down a hallway decorated with tapestries and old Baggins family portraits. They passed Bilbo's extremely cluttered study, a large bathroom, and the library, which Frodo looked forward to exploring, and Bilbo's bedroom, and innumerable guest rooms, before Bilbo paused in front of another round door.
"And what is this room, Uncle?" Frodo asked.
"This, my dear boy..." Bilbo pushed the door open "... is your room."
Frodo grinned and stepped inside. He walked all around in a circle, trying to take in every detail. It was not an overly large room, but it was bigger than what he'd had at Brandy Hall. And this was all his! Frodo couldn't remember ever having a room to himself. It had the air of a place long unused but recently given a good airing out.
The colours of the room were soothing greens and browns. There was a large, soft rug on the polished wood floor, and dark green drapes hung at the round window. The furniture was all of the same dark, rich wood, and it looked nearly as expensive as the fine furnishings of Brandy Hall's best parlour.
He looked back at Bilbo and was surprised to see the old hobbit watching him almost... anxiously?
"Do you like it, lad?" Bilbo asked finally. "I lived in this room when I was a child."
Frodo gave him a fierce hug. "It's perfect, Uncle Bilbo," he said firmly.
Bilbo laughed in delight and ruffled Frodo's dark curls. "Well, then!" the old hobbit exclaimed. "I'll leave you to get acquainted while I go and see about getting supper started. Can you find your way back to the kitchen, Frodo-lad?"
"I think so," Frodo replied cheerfully. "I'd like to try, anyway."
"Very well," Bilbo said, his warm brown eyes twinkling. "But if you don't appear within the next half hour, I shall be forced to send a search party to find you."
After Bilbo had gone, Frodo resumed his inspection of the room. There was a fireplace in the corner, and a fire was crackling on the hearth, making the room seem cheerful and cozy. There was a bureau for his clothes, as well as a cupboard. Frodo opened the cupboard door and frowned. He certainly didn't have enough clothes to fill such a space! No matter. It would make an excellent cave, for the next time he felt like playing Dwarf King.
Next, Frodo examined the desk. His desk. It had a fancy green top and looked just like a child-sized version of the large desk in Bilbo's study. A tall bookcase stood beside it, and Frodo was delighted to finally have a place to arrange his small but ever-growing collection of books, which he had always kept under his bed at Brandy Hall.
Frodo turned to examine the bed. It was certainly larger than any he'd ever slept in, and it was covered with a chequered blue-and-green quilt. It looked to be freshly made-up with crisp white linens. Wondering if it was as soft as it looked, Frodo approached, preparing to sit down. Just then a flash of movement near the floor caught his eye. Was he imagining things, or had he just seen a small brown hand whisk itself quickly out of sight? A brief glance at the space under the bed, not quite hidden by the edge of the quilt, confirmed his suspicions; an arm rested on the floor.
It was a lucky thing he hadn't flopped down on the bed as originally planned; he might have given the small fellow quite a scare. Frodo frowned. He guessed (correctly, as it happened) that the intruder was frightened of him already. Perhaps Frodo could show that he didn't bite, and coax his shy guest to come out? He considered how he would deal with his little cousin Merry in such a situation, and a plan rapidly took shape in his mind.
Frodo turned round again and yawned elaborately. "Oh! I'm so tired!" Frodo exclaimed. "I think I'll lie down on this fine bed!"
A muffled gasp was heard from beneath the bed, and Frodo suppressed a giggle. Continuing the game, he took another step back toward the bed, and then gave a startled yelp. "But wait!" he cried. "There's someone under the bed! Who could it be?"
The bed remained silent.
"Hmm. Perhaps I'll have a guess, then," Frodo said. "Is it... Hamfast Gamgee?"
This time the silence was broken by an incredulous snicker.
Encouraged by this evidence that his visitor was enjoying the game, Frodo continued, "no, perhaps not. I can't imagine why Hamfast Gamgee would be hiding under my bed; he has plenty to keep him occupied elsewhere. I'll have to guess again. Could it be... Mayor Whitfoot?"
A muffled giggle escaped from the bed.
"No, the Mayor is a very busy hobbit. He'd scarcely have time to pop under my bed, would he?" said Frodo. "Aha! I've got it. It must be... an Elf!"
The bed gasped in delight, and Frodo smiled.
"On the other hand, one of the Fair Folk would hardly find himself in such an undignified position, would he? And besides, he would be too big by far, to fit in such a small space."
The bed waited silently.
Frodo turned again to face the bed, trying to suppress a smile. "Well, I'm afraid only one possibility remains," the tweenager said, keeping his eyes on the gap under the bed. "And so I know it has to be... a Cave Troll."
The bed snorted loudly and dissolved into helpless giggles.
"Come on out, Mr. Troll!" Frodo exclaimed.
After some delicate manoeuvring, the Cave Troll emerged from beneath Frodo's bed and stood upright, looking startlingly like a small, well-rumpled hobbit lad, with honey-coloured curls and honest brown eyes. He looked a little older than Merry, perhaps eleven or twelve years old; he had a round, cheerful face, and he was still struggling to contain his mirth.
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I reckon I'm not nearly big enough to be a Troll!" the wide-eyed lad exclaimed, finally catching his breath.
"Well then, it seems I was mistaken after all," Frodo said. "It is only a hobbit lad, like myself." He crouched down to the smaller boy's level, and blue eyes met brown.
"Samwise Gamgee at your service, sir," the younger lad said, suddenly recalling his manners.
"Frodo Baggins, at yours and your family's," Frodo replied, extending his hand.
Samwise shook it shyly, and then Frodo straightened up. "Now then!" he said. "I believe my uncle said something about an early supper. You Trolls must get hungry, hiding under beds all day. Will you come with me?"
"Aye, I will, Mr. Frodo!" Samwise exclaimed, slipping his hand into the older lad's.
Several hours later, in Number 3, Bagshot Row, six children were preparing for bed and two adults were talking out in the kitchen.
"Aye, he seems like a nice enough lad," Hamfast agreed. "But he is from Buckland, and them Bucklanders are a queer lot, they say."
"Well, mind you don't go talking about Buckland folk and their odd ways in front of the children, Ham," Bell said, reaching up to extinguish the lamp that burned in the little kitchen. "Like it or not, Mr. Frodo is our master's heir, and he must be treated as such."
"I reckon you're right, Bell-lass," Hamfast sighed. "And at least he'll get a proper upbringing here in Hobbiton. Aye, he may yet turn out all right."
"Oh, nonsense, Ham," Bell replied. "Since when have you paid any mind to what folks say? Anyway, Hamson seemed to like him all right. And little Sam is quite fond of the boy already."
"That's a fine thing, then," Hamfast nodded, "since our Sam will one day take over for me, I daresay, when I retire."
Bell laughed. "Did Sam tell ye how he came to meet the young master?"
"Nay," the Gaffer said, turning to look curiously at his wife.
"Well, after he brought in the kindling you'd asked for, he thought he'd have himself a look in Mr. Frodo's room," Bell said, shaking her head at her son's lack of propriety. "As Sam tells it, Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo came along while he was still inside, so he hid 'imself under the bed!"
Hamfast choked on the cup of tea he had been sipping.
"Now, now," Bell said hastily. "Don't go gettin' yourself upset. There was no harm done. Little Sam said that Mr. Frodo found him, but he wasn't upset at all and treated our boy with uncommon kindness."
Hamfast couldn't help chuckling at the imagined scene. "All the same, Bell, I'll have to have a talk with Sam," he said. "If he's going to start helpin' me in Mr. Bilbo's garden this year, he'll have to mind 'is manners better'n that."
Bell merely laughed and went to tuck in the children, while Hamfast made ready for bed.
Up the Hill in Bag End, another child was being tucked into bed. Frodo yawned and closed his eyes. Bilbo shut the book he'd been reading from and smiled at his young cousin.
"I think that's enough for tonight, Frodo-lad," Bilbo said.
"Thank you for reading to me, Uncle Bilbo." Frodo opened his eyes again.
Bilbo reached out hesitantly and smoothed a dark lock of hair away from Frodo's face, then pulled the covers up to Frodo's chin.
"Sleep well, dear boy," Bilbo said, placing a kiss on Frodo's forehead. He laid the book down on the bureau and left the dark room, closing the door softly behind him.
Frodo smiled in the darkness. This adventure was starting out better than he could have imagined.