A Brandybuck Turns Baggins

A third LOTR fic by Iorhael

Disclaimer: Nothing in here is mine, except perhaps the plot

Rated: G

Summary: Inspired by my lovely beta, MBradford's brilliant
and touching story, On the Banks of the Brandywine. How Merry
felt knowing that Frodo was more than overjoyed to find out he
was about to leave Brandy Hall.

Chapter 1 - Hidden Feeling

- 'And so I have made a decision, Frodo lad. A decision I'm sure you're going to accept for I have witnessed for myself how unhappy you are there. I have considered it several times but I still think that this plan is the best. I'm asking you to come to Bag End to live here - for good. It won't be just as a holiday anymore, Frodo, but you will stay here, eat, drink, study, sleep, oh! And I will teach you the Elven language that you're so fond of. You will have the chance to read any books you want, not just the ones I choose for you. You will have your own bedroom, the one you have always slept in every time you visit me, and you may use the study as well.

You will have the kitchen all for yourself whenever you please. You can cook and bake any food you want without having to be bothered by others and to worry they will get the food first. You.'

Frodo's eyes bulged out at the unbelievable things mentioned as he continued reading Bilbo's letter. This was real, he tried to convince himself. The letter was truly for him and the 'you' Bilbo referred to in it was he, Frodo!

The content of this piece of paper was like a dream come true, and the world suddenly changed. Frodo could not believe that just several minutes ago, before the boy delivering this letter found him in the porch and handed that to him, his life still seemed to be bleak and dark. But now!

There was someone, the only one actually, that Frodo was dying to tell of this great news. Merry! His younger cousin would certainly feel happy, too.

Frodo rose from where he was lying and strode quickly down the steps to the backyard where Merry was often found swinging on one of the strong limbs of a tree. Merry, several years younger than Frodo, was as agile as a monkey, and Frodo loved him so. Merry was in fact the only Brandy Hall inhabitant Frodo could open his heart to.

"Merry!" Frodo chirped cheerfully, standing under the branch. He had been correct that Merry was there, straddling that big branch, legs swinging freely. Merry lay on his stomach, hugging the branch. Resting his right cheek against the bark of the tree, Merry gazed down at Frodo lazily.

"Good news, Frodo?" he asked, and then yelped a little when Frodo pulled at one of his ankles.

"Come on down! I'll show you something." Frodo pretended to be about to tug Merry down again. Not wanting to crash onto the ground beneath him, Merry slung both legs to one side and, grumbling impatiently, hopped down.

"It'd better be good or---"

"Aw, come on!" Frodo dragged Merry to sit down on the silky grass and thrust the carelessly folded paper into his cousin's hand. The younger hobbit was silently wondering what this was all about -this news that could bring stars into Frodo's beautiful eyes.

"Read it," Frodo said softly, bracing himself for Merry's reaction.

The urgency in Frodo's voice made Merry even more hesitant to comply. Frodo had never looked so bright and happy before during his stay in Brandy Hall. Whatever was in that letter had successfully broken the ice. Somehow Merry could guess what the letter had told Frodo.

Merry opened the letter slowly. The brittle sound of the paper seemed to be the only sound audible in that big field. Frodo was still smiling but no sound escaped his lips.

Merry threw him a brief glance before his eyes finally skimmed down the lines. Once in a while his eyes turned to Frodo, a cousin who almost seemed like a brother to him. Frodo, on the other hand, leant forward, impatient at Merry's slowness to respond.

"Well? What do you think?"

Frodo still had to wait for a couple of minutes. Merry did take his time. He finally looked up slowly, folding the letter like it was before, but did not give it back to Frodo.

"You are leaving," Merry pronounced each word slowly and carefully. There was a slight disappointment in his voice. Frodo frowned. He hoped the grief in Merry's tone was only his imagination.

"Yes, in two weeks," replied Frodo. "Merry, aren't you - happy for me?"

"I believe you are happy," smiled Merry, struggling to hide his true feelings. Frodo was relieved to see the smile back on his beloved little friend's lips. He got up and embraced Merry tenderly.

"I was nearly at a loss to describe it, Merry," Frodo's voice quivered a little. His eyes turned glassy, although smiles never ceased to adorn his small lips. He reached out at the letter that was still in Merry's hand. He wondered a little at Merry's too firm grip on it. Finally he snatched it away and let the strange incident pass.

***

Merry sighed deeply. He could understand that Frodo was overjoyed. Bilbo was Frodo's closest friend, besides him, of course. Every time the old gentle hobbit paid a visit to Brandy Hall, he always brought a lot of things just for Frodo alone. Books, clothes, food, sweets, and sometimes even strange things he got from his journeys. The rich old bachelor knew Frodo would always welcome the souvenirs brought to him, and above all, Bilbo himself.

Without realizing it, Merry snorted. Always Frodo and not the others. A Baggins for a Baggins. Merry knew now what it was about. When you did not have a blood relation ---

But that was not true either. Frodo had a Brandybuck blood. So why did people seem to always ignore him? Was it because he was here without any parents that should have been there to take care of him? Merry realized Brandy Hall housed many families with their children. With the exception of Frodo, all those families were complete, with father, mother, and children. And that left Frodo alone in the midst of busy parents taking care of their OWN children.

Merry observed Frodo closely, his heart wrenched at seeing how Frodo reread the letter over and over.

"Listen to this, Merry," Frodo said without lifting his eyes from the paper. "Bilbo said that I will have my own bedroom! Can you imagine that? After sharing one with so many children here---"

Frodo's voice was fading away as Merry went back to his own reverie. Yes, he thought. That would be quite a change to have your own bedroom. Privacy cost a lot here. Even Merry did not have the privilege to have his own although his father, Saradoc Brandybuck, was the master of the house.

"And I can eat and drink anything I want, and anytime I want! I don't have to wait for meal times or finish them directly without fearing it will be taken away."

Merry was snatched back to reality. He glared at Frodo sharply, and spoke a bit more harshly than he'd intended.

"But it is you who never finish your food! Don't blame my mother if she has to clear away what's left!"

TBC