These six teensy ficlets have been posted separately on my LiveJournal, but I thought I'd put them together in one place. They range from pre-Quest to post-Quest, are a blend of book and movie, and are all Frodo-centric. "I Was Just Wondering…" is just a bit of silliness.
DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
* A New Beginning * (written for Ailsa Joy and Aprilkat's birthdays)
Frodo awoke with a start, momentarily confused by the dark, unfamiliar setting. As his eyes grew accustomed to the pre-dawn dimness, the room and its furnishings slowly took shape. Warm, harmonious colors… an entire wall containing shelves of new books… a large closet just for him… a half-unpacked trunk, clothes still strewn about on chairs and floor… Taking a deep breath, he smelled the sweet fragrances of flower gardens and fresh-baked bread.
And it was so quiet.
Frodo sighed with happiness and snuggled back under the thick, soft blankets in his new bed in his new home.
* First Yule *
Frodo lay on his stomach in front of the fire, his chin in his hands and his feet waving lazily in the air. Of all the rooms in Bag End, he loved the parlor best, with its big, overstuffed chairs, cozy hearth, and Bilbo's legendary sword hanging on the wall.
"Bilbo," Frodo asked drowsily, "what's Yule like in Hobbiton?"
Bilbo put down the book he was reading. "It's your first here, isn't it? Well, Frodo, Hobbiton is a quiet village, and Yule is a quiet affair. Neighbors visit one another for a bit of tea and cakes, and some talk. Treats are hung in the trees so the birds can feast, and most shops are closed for a few days so merchants can spend more time with their families. The more well-to-do folks, most of them, anyway, see to it that the poorer families receive baskets of food, and leave small gifts for the children." He smiled at the lad. "Nothing special, dear boy. No fireworks or big parties -- a far cry from what you're used to, I suppose."
"I don't mind," Frodo yawned. "That sounds wonderful. We're 'well-to-do', aren't we?"
"Yes, Frodo lad, I suppose we are."
"That's good." Frodo yawned again, then curled up on the thick rug. "That means we can give out… lots of gifts…" He closed his eyes and grew quiet, the flickering hearth bathing his face in a gentle glow.
Bilbo sat for awhile, gazing with contentment at the lad who now lived with him. You are a gift, dear boy, the old hobbit thought to himself… the best I've ever received.
* A Moment's Ease * (written for LilyBaggins' birthday)
Aragorn examined Frodo's bruises as gently as he could. There was no question that, without the mithril coat, the cave troll's spear would have surely killed this brave hobbit.
"Try to relax," he said, settling Frodo against the pile of packs. He began to apply warm athelas compresses to the small chest. "There was no need for you to walk in such pain, Frodo. Why didn't you ask for help?
"I didn't…" Frodo's breaths came in short gasps. "I thought…"
"You didn't want to slow us down, am I right?" Aragorn asked.
"I've lived alone for so long, Aragorn; I'm used to… doing for myself."
"As am I," the Ranger smiled. "Yet another thing we have in common, Frodo Baggins."
Frodo smiled back. "You would have done the same, you stubborn Ranger."
"Perhaps," Aragorn admitted. He looked around. "We must move on soon -- I want you within the protected borders of the Golden Wood before nightfall."
"Protected borders," Frodo sighed. "Like Rivendell?
"Yes," Aragorn said reassuringly, "evil does not stain that land." He looked into Frodo's eyes, noting the pain, grief, and exhaustion the hobbit had been concealing. And the fear.
"It's overwhelming to be hunted, isn't it?" Aragorn asked quietly, winding soft cloths about the hobbit's chest. "I've lived my entire adult life like that, Frodo."
"I know," Frodo whispered. A chill January wind blew through the glade, causing him to shiver.
"Put this back on, if you can bear it," Aragorn said softly, fastening the mithril shirt back onto the small frame, then the shirt, vest, and jacket. Frodo's breaths were still slightly labored, so he wrapped the hobbit in his own blanket and drew him against his chest.
"Breathing will be easier if you're sitting up. Just rest for a bit."
Frodo nodded, but found his attention wandering to the Ranger's pack. He reached out and ran his hand over it. "No wonder this is so bulky," he observed. "If you have bandages in there, you must have a lot of other things… just in case."
"That's right," Aragorn nodded. "Just in case." He took Frodo's right hand and examined the red, abraded palm. "In fact, I have some salve that should help with this. It takes many months of practice to become hardened to using a sword." He removed a jar from his pack and opened it, then began to work the herbal salve into the hobbit's palm. "You did very well, Frodo," the Ranger commented. "We were outnumbered in Moria, and hard-pressed. You all did very well."
"Not well enough," Frodo said ruefully. "When that spear hit me, slammed me against the wall… before everything went black, I thought… it was the end."
"You were unconscious for a short time," Aragorn said with a frown. "We have had to make such haste…" He ran his fingers gently through Frodo's tangled curls, and found a bump on the left side of the small head. "Do you feel dizzy?"
"I'm all right," Frodo said hastily. He did feel dizzy, but at least he was now able to breathe more deeply as the sharp, crushing pains eased. "Resting is helping."
"Close your eyes."
"I'm fine, Aragorn."
"I can't," Frodo whispered brokenly. "When I close my eyes, I see…Gandalf."
Aragorn sighed. "Do not bury your grief, Frodo," he said softly. "Gandalf was dear to me, as well. Let me tell you about how we first met. I was young… perhaps younger than Pippin, and oh so confident about the world and my place in it. One day I was out hunting, and…" He spoke carefully, in the gentle, modulated way Elrond had taught him. He felt Frodo's breathing deepen, and the hobbit relaxed against him as the calm, hypnotic cadence wove its spell, soothing and comforting. The blue eyes fluttered closed, and moments later Frodo had slipped into a light, healing sleep.
"Gandalf," Aragorn whispered to himself. He too was weary, and grieved, and longed to sleep, but dared not -- all too soon they would have to move on. But for a little while longer he sat, quiet and still, giving what ease he could to the small one in his arms who was enduring so much, for so many.
* Grief, Wisdom, and Hope * (written for Elwen's birthday)
As they sat together by the stream, Frodo letting the cool water wash over his feet, Faramir was startled by an unexpected rush of emotions. Why wasn't Boromir here, to enjoy this beauty they had fought to protect? Why had his father died not knowing that his Stewardship had not failed, and his lands had not fallen? How had it come to this?
"I am alone," Faramir whispered, astonished to be sharing such things with anyone. "My brother is dead, and my mother and father…"
Frodo said nothing, but he inched closer, laying his head against the Man's chest. Suddenly Faramir began to sob, and he buried his face in the hobbit's curls. He wept for a long time, and was grateful for the pocket-handkerchief Frodo finally held up for him. He started to apologize for such weakness, but the hobbit pressed even closer, and he let the comfort wash over him. After a long silence, Frodo began to speak.
"I have met Bergil, the son of your Guard and Captain," Frodo said quietly. "He is nearly 11, I understand, and so mature. A hobbit at that age is very young… so very much younger than a human child in both thought and experience." He sighed. "I was 12 when both my parents died in an accident, and it took me a long time to even believe it had happened."
"I did not know that," Faramir murmured.
"The Shire has not known war or battle, Faramir," Frodo continued. "Hobbits do not wake up wondering if each new day will take someone from us, as your people have grown used to doing. We tend to experience the death of a loved one nearly always from old age or illness, for which we are prepared. To be suddenly orphaned… well, it's practically unheard of."
"I can scarcely imagine such a place as your Shire," Faramir said softly. "What did you do?"
"I was so sad and empty, for so long," Frodo whispered. "I couldn't imagine that anyone had ever felt that way, or knew what it was to be so sad." He gazed into the rushing water, blue eyes wet with unshed tears. "A year later, my aunt and uncle lost a child -- their newborn infant girl. It was awful, Faramir, so awful… but it taught me that I wasn't the only one to suffer grief and loss. Then, a year after that, they had another child -- healthy and happy. He filled their hearts with such joy…" He smiled up at the Man. "My cousin, Merry."
"Merry," Faramir smiled in return. "A true gift for all of us."
Frodo looked up at him, eyes filled with wisdom. "I still miss my parents, and always will. You will always wish your brother and parents are still here with you. But new joys and wonderful things also happen. We can't close down completely and deny the heart a chance to embrace love and sing once again."
"Thank you, Frodo," Faramir said. "We will always miss those who are gone, but a bright future beckons for all of us."
Frodo smiled suddenly, his eyes sparkling. "Éowyn."
"Éowyn," Faramir nodded, unable to keep a smile from his lips. "Yes." He looked deeply into the deep blue eyes that had seen so much. "And you, Frodo Baggins, will you heal? Will your heart sing once again?"
"The Shire will heal me," Frodo said softly. "It's difficult for me to remember my home, Faramir, after…" He took a deep breath. "I need to breathe the air of the Shire once more, and try to regain some of what I've lost."
"May you find peace, my friend," Faramir said. "You have surely earned it."
"And may you find peace, as well," Frodo teased gently. "From what Merry tells me, your maiden may not be so easy to tame."
Faramir threw back his head and laughed, a full, easy laugh of pure joy and delight. "Merry speaks the truth, and he knows her far better than I!"
Frodo's stomach suddenly grumbled loudly, and Faramir immediately scrambled to his feet. "Let us get you fed," he smiled. "Although I had packed what I believed to be more than enough, your cousins and your faithful Samwise somehow crammed even more food into the baskets. I doubt you will starve this day."
Frodo grinned and stood up. He and Faramir stood for a moment in silence, facing West, before racing each other to the picnic baskets.
* I Was Just Wondering… *
"Gandalf, could I ask you a question?"
"Anything, dear boy."
"If the Eagles could fly us out out of Mordor, why couldn't they fly us in?"
"Well, er... because of the Nazgul. With nine of them on flying beasts---"
"But the Nazgul didn't have flying beasts until after we left Rivendell," Frodo persisted. "With everything Sam and I went through..." The hobbit sighed. "It just would have been much easier with Eagles, that's all I'm saying."
Gandalf chuckled and patted Frodo on the head. "Don't let such silly thoughts bother you, dear boy. It all worked out for the best."
* Let Them Wait *
A hot bath. A long, hot, luxurious, lathery, delicious bath. Frodo didn't know how long he had been in this tub, or even where Faramir had found one so small in the Citadel -- perhaps it had lain unused since he and Boromir were children? But this was the first real bath he had enjoyed since Rivendell, and he would not be hurried.
Of course, he mused, breathing deeply of the scented water, there had been the warm pools of Lothlórien… and he and Sam had awoken in Ithilien perfectly clean (how, he hadn't ever asked) -- with even their ragged fingernails trimmed and scrubbed. He didn't remember getting clean, though, so it didn't count. But this…
"Frodo!" Pippin's voice came plaintively through the closed door.
"Aren't you ever coming out?"
"No." Frodo reached out for one of the wide bowls sitting on the brick hearth next to the tub and added more hot water to the bath, then picked up the soft, soapy cloth to run it over his arms and chest. Again.
"But the feast! Everyone's waiting for you!"
Frodo smiled and closed his eyes, sliding deeper into the steaming water -- limp, relaxed, and at peace.
Everyone would just have to wait a little while longer.