Little One

Frodo Baggins has always been rather slim and pale by hobbit standards… A little fic considering a possibility on why this is so, and why Frodo never had any other siblings.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings belongs to me. All characters, places and names are mine. Or so I wish… ;)

Chapter 1

It was late September in the year 1368 by the Shire Reckoning, and the atmosphere in Brandy Hall could not have been more pleasant.

The harvesting season had begun, and to celebrate, several relations of the Master and his family had been invited to the Hall. Several Tooks, a handful of Bagginses and some Bolgers and Boffins had been arriving over the course of a week, and now everyone was here. Even old Bilbo Baggins had made the trip, deciding to forgo his usual birthday celebration in Hobbiton in favour of the East Farthing. It would, after all, provide an opportune excuse to not have to invite the dreaded Sackville-Bagginses over for anything.

Of course, there were other reasons why so many were making the trip to Brandy Hall. Drogo and Primula Baggins were making their last trip to the Hall for what would probably be a very long time. Primula was almost eight months pregnant with her first child and would not have the time or energy to visit any of her relatives soon. So she had taken advantage of this opportunity to see as many as she could at one time (though her husband had put up a very convincing fight for them to remain at home), and found that she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Though the trip did prove to bring many surprises her way…

A gentle smile graced the glowing features of Primula as she sat listening to the teasing argument that had arisen between her two elder sisters, Amaranth and Asphodel. She, Esmeralda Took and Eglantine Took exchanged amused smiles. No doubt this argument would escalate into a full on war of words between the two sisters before long.

"Perhaps we should go and see what the men are up to?" suggested Esmeralda. Primula gave a light laugh.

"You just want to charm my nephew even more than you already have done!" she accused with a mischievous sparkle in her bright blue eyes. Esmeralda took on a decidedly sheepish expression as the colour rose on her face. Eglantine and Primula exchanged knowing looks before bursting out laughing. Amaranth and Asphodel looked up from their argument.

"What's so funny?" asked Asphodel rather indignantly, as though daring someone to admit they had been gossiping about her behind her back.

"Nothing!" said Esmeralda at once.

"Oh Essie," said Eglantine. "You might as well give in now. It's obvious that as soon as Saradoc comes of age you two are going to get married." Esmeralda's blush intensified so that she looked as though she had fallen headfirst into an enormous tub of scarlet dye.

"Oh yes," agreed Amaranth with a wicked grin. "Before you know it there'll be a little Saradoc or Essie running around the hall, trailing after a little Primula. I can see it now."

"I wish you would stop going on about how the baby will be a girl," said Primula with a small frown. "We won't find out for sure until it's born." She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as the baby in question gave a rather hard kick inside her womb, as if agreeing with its mother. Primula's frown deepened. This was the third hard kick in the last hour. Amaranth sighed.

"I'm telling you, it's going to be a girl," she said adamantly. "I can sense these sorts of things."

"Oh yes," said Asphodel with a roll of her eyes. "Just like you predicted that my Milo was going to be twin girls – and you know how impossibly rare twins are!" She paused as everyone (besides a fuming Amaranth) started laughing again. "And let's not forget when Amma also predicted that Daisy Baggins would be a boy."

"You're also forgetting Ponto, Porto and Peony Baggins," provided Primula. "She thought they would be two girls and a boy." Esmeralda and Eglantine started giggling helplessly. Primula started laughing as well, but winced and bit back a cry as she felt the hardest kick yet.

"How many children are you predicting Paladin and I will have again, Amma?" asked Eglantine. Amaranth only glared at the recently wed hobbit, her current fury overruling her ability to speak.

"So basically, Prim," said Asphodel, turning back to her younger sister. "I think it is very safe to say that you will be having a lad… Prim?"

Primula looked up, as if being drawn out of a daze. "What was that?" she asked slowly.

"Prim?" said Eglantine slowly. "Are you alright?"

"You've gone all pale," said Esmeralda. Primula tried to give a reassuring smile, though the others noticed how her arms were wrapped protectively around her belly.

"I'm fine," she said. "The baby's just getting a little over-excited about all this laughter, I think."

"Are you sure?" said Amaranth, finding her tongue at last. "Are you sure it's nothing more than that?"

"Oh no!" said Primula at once. "It couldn't be. The baby's not due for another five or so weeks yet."

"Then it must just be overexcited," concluded Eglantine. "How about we go and get some luncheon now? The food might settle the baby down." Primula nodded her agreement and allowed herself to be helped to her feet by her sisters, their argument completely forgotten for the time being.

As it was, the rest of the Hall seemed to agree that it was indeed time for the midday meal. The five women met many on their way to the enormous dining room, including their brothers, cousins, husbands and husbands-to-be. Upon seeing his wife's fair face, Drogo's own features broke into a warm smile and he lovingly wrapped an arm around Primula's shoulders.

"How is the little one?" asked Drogo. Primula smiled. Drogo was a rather typical hobbit – practical, sensible, a great lover of food, ale and pipeweed… But as soon as he had found out that he was to be a father, it was as though he had woken up from a long, deep sleep. He now often looked like an excited child on the eve of Yule, being close to bursting at the prospect of the gift of being a father. Primula could tell that their child was going to be in serious danger of becoming far too spoilt.

"Very restless," she said in answer to his question. "It has been kicking around all morning."

"Ah," said Drogo with a distant smile. "He is going to be a sack of perpetual energy when he is older."

"She," corrected Amaranth. Asphodel, Eglantine and Esmeralda worked hard to contain the laughter threatening to spill from their twitching lips. Drogo turned to Amaranth in confusion.

"I beg your pardon?" he questioned.

"Your child is going to be a 'she'," informed Amaranth factually. "I know it."

"I think it's going to be a 'he'," said Drogo with a shrug.

"Come now, Drogo," said Bilbo as he and Rory joined the group on their way to the dining room. "You know better than to argue with a lady on these sorts of matters."

"Normally I would agree with you, Bilbo," said Rory. "Women do tend to have a rather good instinct when it comes to children. However, considering that it is Amaranth who said it, I think an exception can be made."

At this, Asphodel, Eglantine and Esmeralda could no longer hold in their laughter. "See, Amma?" said Asphodel. "What did I tell you?" Amaranth muttered something under her breath that no one caught, and stalked off ahead of them to the dining hall.

"I still think it's going to be a boy," muttered Drogo with a gentle squeeze of his wife's shoulder. Primula smiled up at him, but the smile had vanished in a heartbeat as the worst pain yet shot through her body, pulsating from her womb. This time she could not stifle the cry that rose up in her throat. Her eyes clenched shut and she felt her knees buckle beneath her. She spared a fleeting moment to thank the Valar that her husband's arm was still wrapped around her shoulders, though now it was the only thing that supported her. Drogo quickly caught her before she fell too far.

"Prim?" His voice trembled as his fear was unveiled. For a moment Primula did not reply. But then her eyes cracked open and she stared up at her husband. He gazed into those blue orbs, willing them to tell him what her voice would not. What he saw sent a chill up his spine. Primula Brandybuck Baggins was one of the strongest hobbits he knew. And in her eyes was a deep-set fear that wrenched his heart.

"Drogo," she managed to choke. "I think the baby's coming."