A/N Once again thank you very, very much for all your wonderful reviews, favourites and follows. Also, before we move on to the next chapter, I want to announce that in this story Bolg is very much alive and kicking ( Azog died at the Battle of Five Armies – going sort of movie verse a bit ) and the Ring is still in Bilbo's possession. These two things will be important. Also, I want to specify something because I think I've been a bit ambiguous about it: Bilbo still has the knowledge that come with the memories he lost. For example he still knows how to make a stew, he just doesn't know who taught him. He still knows what Rivendell is, but he doesn't remember how he knows.
Chapter VI: Hollowness in my soul
It is a chilly November day when Bilbo Baggins wakes up from his slumber. Dark, heavy clouds hang ominously in the sky, preparing the land for the storm that is soon to come. The hobbit's eyelids flutter open in the relative darkness of Bag End and he gazes at his surroundings in awe as a newborn babe would when faced with his first sight of the world. The hobbit climbs down from his bed, letting his hands brush against the crisp, white linens – changed by Paladin Took twice weekly, though Bilbo has no way of knowing that – and starts making small steps across the house.
His mind is foggy from too much sleep so Bilbo strolls through the house aimlessly waiting for his thoughts to clear. He remembers his name first – Bilbo Baggins – and the name of his Thain – Paladin Took, head of the Took family, though who the Took family is he does not know. He recalls he is in the Shire – land of the hobbits – and that he has made a pledge – but on behalf of whom he does not now. The hollowness in his throat reminds him powerfully of the pledge as does the blankness in his mind. He cannot remember the names of his parents, the life he has lived or even those who he has given so much for.
He figures everything in the house is his, but nothing sparks any kind of familiarity in him. It is not a home any longer, hasn't been ever since that day he cannot remember three years ago. Nothing binds him to this place and he realizes the fact with pain. Portraits adorn the walls, portraits of men and women with names written under them; names like 'Belladonna', 'Bungo' or 'Gerontius' that mean nothing to him and do not spark even the tiniest recollection.
His pantry is full of food, as befitting a hobbit, but as he takes into account the mountains of cheese, cookies, sausages, smoked fish and fruit, he realizes he doesn't even know what kind of food he likes.
'I'll just have to start from the beginning again,' he tries to motivate himself, but a weight settles into his soul and he finds himself thinking he cannot do this alone. Perhaps it had been a stronger version of him that had made that pledge, but that person was no longer him. He had nothing to rely on; love, friendship, family, these were all abstract notions to him. Logically, he knows he should have been bonded by at least some of these ties before, but now all he feels is emptiness.
'One step at a time, Bilbo,' he thinks to himself. 'First let's see this place.'
There are many rooms in the house and he takes his time to check them all out. There's one room in particular to which he feels himself drawn to and it is not the one he woke up in, the one that had to be his. It is a round room, with sunset orange curtains and a large bed; a room that has a woman's gentle touch in the painting above the bedside table, in the doilies arranged everywhere in the room and the sweet smell of lavender that still lingers in the place. Bilbo wonders whether this was his mother's room at some point and the warmth the room seeps in his bones tells him yes, although his mind cannot answer.
With reluctance he moves away from the room, determined to return there whenever the emptiness because too much to bear. He finds a family tree framed on a wall in one of the studies as sees his name tied to Belladonna Took and Bungo Baggins. The branches of the tree twist further and he learns that Gerontius Took was his grandfather and that he had lived for 130 years.
'Is that even possible for a hobbit?' he wonders to himself as his fingers brush over books and spare pieces of parchment, trying to reacquaint himself with their touch.
Back in his room, he notices things that he did not see when he woke up. A sword sheath is leaning next to a wall and his fingers moved over the sword's hilt. He takes the blade out and feels that somehow it belongs to him, somehow the sword's natural place is in his hand.
But hobbits are no warriors, so why does he feel thus?
Placing the sword back to where it came from, he sees a couple of brass buttons arranged neatly on a small table and a beautifully carved pipe that clearly does not hail from the Shire. There's also a travel journal that has, at one point, fallen into a river or something similar, because the ink in it is smeared all over the place and there are water stains on the pages. Some words remain clear, words like 'Mirkwood', 'Beorn' or 'river', but they make no sense, so Bilbo gives up on trying to read it.
Moving from his bedroom, Bilbo checks out the sitting room which he left last. A small fire is cracking merrily in the fireplace, its flames illuminating the armchair and table beside it. Bilbo's eyes fall on a leather bound object placed on the table and he walks towards it. Picking it up, he notices it is an empty journal with a letter caught between its pages.
I may not be there when you wake up, but be assured that I will arrive as soon as possible. Even though you might not remember us, we remember you and never for one moment should you think you are alone. Things might seem hard now, they might just get worse, before they get better, but you will make it Bilbo Baggins. Even though you may not remember it, you are strong, perhaps one of the strongest hobbits I know. The judges would not have given you this fate had they not thought you could handle it.
This journal is my gift to make it easier for you to share your thoughts with the others. If things become overbearing you can always write down in it and ease some of the burden that presses on your soul through writing.
Paladin Took II, Thain of the Shire."
A beautiful quill is set on the table next to where the journal previously lay, together with a bottle of ink. Bilbo's fingers shake as he picks up the quill and his eyes get clouded by tears; he should remember learning to read and write, should remember hands over his, steady, guiding the quill over the paper, should remember soft encouragements in his ears. Something in his heart tells him at one point he was offered all this, yet now it is no longer there. Everything disappeared and was replaced with a haze that might never go away. He finds it strange that it was not the sword, or the family tree or his mother's portrait that reminded him so keenly of what he had lost, but a plain, simple quill that is both alluring and frightening at the same time. He wants to pick it up and write his thoughts; he is afraid that once they are set on paper he will regret what he has written. A whirlwind of emotions rushed through him and he chokes back a sob.
He wants to remember and he cannot. He wants to go back to sleep and never wake up. He doesn't really know what he wants.
His hands continue shaking as he puts ink to paper and starts writing, staining the journal with tear drops and ink splashes.
"My name is Bilbo Baggins.
I am a hobbit of the Shire.
I live in Hobbiton.
I have no memory of my life, of my past or my present.
There's a hollowness in my throat and a hollowness in my soul.
No matter what Paladin says I am alone, because who would want to be near me?
I gave up everything for people I cannot remember. Was it even worth it?
I gave up everything and lost myself. Will I ever find myself?
Is it wrong to wish that everything had been ended three years ago? It is wrong to regret my decision? Is it right to continue living when everything that defines you has been stripped away and all there's left is an empty shell?
I feel like a leaf adrift in the wind... there's no knowing where I'm going or what will happen to me.
A part of me wants to shut myself inside this house and never leave.
A part of me wants to leave the Shire and never look back."
He shuts the journal and puts it forcefully on the table, before collapsing in the armchair. His shoulders shake with the sobs that rack his body, but in the end he feels better. He can do this, he just has to figure out how.
Unknown to him, back in his room, in the pocket of a ruined waistcoat, a Ring understands its Bearer has woken up and starts whispering in the darkness.
Unknown to him, far away, over hills and rivers, in the depth of the Misty Mountains, howls and jeers echo in the darkness. A small army of orcs and wargs is preparing to march led by an orc with grey eyes and metal bound to its head. Revenge is called in one ghastly voice, revenge over the Line of Durin and the cursed Akashuga who aided the dwarves.