Story title: Thirteen Gifts for Thirteen Gardeners Rating: G Subject: General Main characters: Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee

Date: S.R. 1482

Chapter 1: The Study

"Are you sure it's in here, Elanor?" the dark-haired younger hobbit asked. "I've looked through Dad's desk a couple of times already, and I couldn't find it." He was dressed in his finest dark brown suit; black armband tied around his left sleeve.

"Yes, I'm sure, Robin" the golden-haired middle-aged hobbitwife said. "Dad gave me instructions on how to find the secret compartment in his writing desk. You have to take out this little drawer, and slide this one over to the right, and then lift up this lid." She concentrated on getting the right combination of movements in order to unlock the secret drawer, her beautiful light blue eyes squinting into the dark corners of the writing desk.

"Here, let me see," demanded another lass with sandy-brown curls. Rose pushed through the small gathering of relatives to stand next to her elder sister. "Well, I'll be. I never knew the drawers could side sideways! And to think how many hours I've spent at this desk!"

"Ah! Success!" said Elanor. She lifted out a thin section of polished hardwood and reached inside the hidden compartment. Out came the key they were all expecting. It was an old key. An ancient key. The kind made out of iron and with several intricately made knobs and flanges. A small, thin red ribbon was attached to the key.

The others gathered round as the object of their hunt was passed among them. There were fourteen hobbits crowded into the little study. Thirteen siblings and one husband. Long had they desired to find this family treasure. It was the key to the only room in the grand smial of Bag End which was completely off-limits to them for as long as any of them could remember. The room only their father visited. The now-legendary Frodo Baggins's bedroom.

"Hey! There's something else in there." A beautiful hobbit with reddish hair reached into the desk's secret compartment and pulled out a carefully folded letter. She opened it and tears came to her soft brown eyes. "It's from Daddy," she whispered.

"What's it say, Daisy?" Pippin asked. He was also dressed in his best formal outfit and clearly uncomfortable in the starched grey suit. He was rather more used to comfortable work clothes of his rope and furniture making trade. Pippin could read, though not very well, and preferred to have someone else read for him. He was a hobbit of his hands rather than his brains.

Several of Samwise and Rose Gamgee's children sat down on the old chairs in their father's study. Daisy turned so that the soft light filtering into the room through the old round leaded window could illumine the letter. She cleared her tight throat and began to read:

"Dearest children,

This is the key to your Uncle Frodo's bedroom. I have kept the room locked for all these years for a purpose known only to myself. When Uncle Frodo went over the Sea more than sixty years ago, he also left a number of items for you all. I might have given them to you earlier, but I did not think it was the appropriate time.

I never could bring myself to disturb anything in his room, including his gifts to you. But I have a confession. I did read his letters which were addressed to you individually. Please forgive your old sentimental Father in this transgression. I was trying to preserve my memories of my dearest friend. It was selfish of me, but then again, I always was very jealous of who had access to my Frodo.

Know then that I have neither added nor subtracted anything from his room, nor from the letters. And I never let anyone else into the room; not even your mother, though it vexed her mightily."

"I know it vexed Mother," Merry snorted. "I remember Dad going into that room each Friday evening after work, taking a glass of wine and locking the door behind him."

"Right," a young lass dressed in formal mourning black smiled at the memory. "Mom would always rage about the kitchen for the hour Dad was in that room." Primrose smiled wistfully at the memory of her beloved mother. "But then he would come out and all was forgiven. It never changed, week after week."

"Wait a minute," Bilbo said. "Are you sure you read that correctly, Daisy? How could Mister Frodo have written letters to each of us, when he left before we were even born?" Bilbo was the only male hobbit of the clan to have also inherited the blonde hair. It made him seem slightly older than his real years.

Daisy handed the letter to the brown-haired hobbit standing next to her. "Here, you read it, Hammie."

Hamfast tilted the letter a little to better catch the light and read it again.

".I did read his letters which were addressed to you individually.."

"There it is, Bilbo," Hamfast said. "Plain as daylight."

"Great," a richly dressed middle-aged hobbit with a thin pointed nose said, "another Bag End mystery."

"Hush, Faramir," an equally elegantly dressed hobbitwife with golden hair equal to her elder sister frowned at her husband. "Go on, Hammie. Read the rest of it." Goldilocks smiled sweetly at her closest brother, but also took her husband's hand and lightly kissed it. He grinned a little and raised one eyebrow.

Hamfast cleared his throat:

" Know then that I have neither added nor subtracted anything from his room, nor from the letters. And I never let anyone else into the room; not even your mother, though it vexed her mightily. The room is exactly as Frodo left it back in 1421.

I feel the time has finally arrived for me to let go of Uncle Frodo's room, and pass along his gifts to you. Treasure them and the letters as you treasure my memory.

With love, Daddy"

"Frodo, I think we should keep this letter here at Bag End," the youngest hobbit said. Even though Tom was past his coming-of-age, he still lived at home with his eldest brother. They looked more like father and son than brothers, since twenty years separated the two.

"I could keep it with the rest of Dad's maps and things in the medical library," a very pregnant hobbitess volunteered. Ruby was the midwife for Overhill, but was now preparing for her own labor. Her husband had not wanted her to travel to Bag End at this late stage in her pregnancy, but Ruby's stubbornness could not be brooked. More than anyone else in the East Farthing, she knew the risks of late term travel, but accepted the risks anyway. This was family matters, and the Gamgees were an unusually close family.

"I like Tom's idea better," Frodo said. "I think we should keep Uncle Frodo's letters here at Bag End, if you don't mind, Ruby. Somehow it doesn't seem right for me to take anything of Uncle Frodo's out of Bag End."

The Gamgee children had a standing agreement that the eldest son would continue to live at Bag End and take care of their aging parents. But now they were gone. Their beloved mother had died in her sleep earlier in the year, and now their father had left. Sam had passed the title to Bag End on to his eldest son the day that Sam departed the Shire for the Grey Havens. Frodo had traveled to the Western Holdings beneath Tower Hill, leaving his wife and children at Bag End as the siblings gathered to see their father onto the grey Elvish ship awaiting him in the harbor. Elanor had traveled back to Bag End with her brothers and sisters in order to take care of legal matters. This key was the last item of business.

"Well, that's it then," Elanor matter-of-factly said. "Let's go see what's in that room."