The deep blue water slowly rolled over the rocks of the small stream that resided near Robin Hollowroot's hobbit-hole. With her back against the rough bark of an aging stump, she slipped her foot into the cool water. The book that sat by her side sat open, her page marked by the bent corner at the top of the page. She inhaled deeply, leaning her head back onto the top of the stump.
"Enjoying yourself, Miss Hollowroot?" A smooth voice called from directly above her. Her eyes snapped open, trying to focus on the intruder, only to see best friend smiling down at her, his long, brown curls falling down around his face.
"Frodo Baggins, why are you trying to ruin my Sunday afternoon?" She scolded playfully. His face fell from a smile as he plopped himself on the ground beside her. Leaning her head up, she locked her dark brown eyes with his shocking blue ones.
"Have I told you that you look beautiful today, by chance?" He reached his hand over, brushing her soft cheek with his rough fingertips. Her beauty, to him, was something that didn't happen by mistake, but most hobbits may tell you it did. Her hair, long and grey, was straight, even though she was still young. Every time they walked together in the market, whispers followed the pair, teasing her straight hair and his family's peculiar past. Hobbits didn't take kindly to difference, so the two of the strangest hobbits in town teaming up together scared them.
Robin's cheeks flushed with color. Even though he said things like that every day, Frodo still made her blush with every complement.
"You should not say such things, Mr. Baggins. Someone might accuse you of flirting."
Frodo grinned broadly over at her. The pair had been friends ever since they were young children. They were virtually inseparable for most of their lives. When Robin's brother died when she was a tweenager, Frodo had been the person she turned to. Her mother told her once that she and Frodo were born under the same star, only one year apart, which Robin grew to believe more and more each year.
Frodo retracted his hand, laying his elbows in his bent knees. "What are you reading?"
Robin reached over to her open book and clapped it shut, holding the cover in front of him. "Mirkwood: Of Elves and Spiders. I borrowed it from Bilbo last week. He caught me trying to read a page from that book he is writing, so I had to tell him that I was just looking for one to read in his bookshelf." This earned a chuckle from Frodo. His uncle's book was beginning to be something of myth to Robin, who refused to believe that it existed, seeing as she, or anyone else for that matter, was allowed to read a word of it.
"I am returning it today, since I am only a few pages from the end."
Silence claimed the conversation. The two sat, listening to the trickle of the stream and the sparrows that had set up residence in a nearby tree.
"I am going to go there one day."
Frodo looked over at his friend only to see her staring into the stream. Her words hung in the air. When they were children, Bilbo would captivate them with his stories of dragons, trolls, and dwarves. They would run outside promptly and pretend to be climbing The Lonely Mountain or battling giant trolls.
The young hobbit grabbed his friend's hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "We are going,"
Later that night, Robin knocked firmly on the round door of Bag End.
"No thank you!" A voice sounded from inside the home. "We do not want any more well-wishers, solicitors, or distant relations!"
The noise made Robin laugh lightly. Bilbo's birthday was only a few days away and he had more than his fill of disturbances from well-wishing hobbits.
"Bilbo, it is Robin!"
Sounds of feet scurrying to the door could be heard just before the door flew open to reveal an elderly hobbit with a wide Baggins grin on his face.
"Ah! Miss Hollowroot! I am afraid Frodo is not here-"
"Oh, no, Bilbo. I came to return your book." She held up the leather bound novel with both hands before extending it toward him. His wrinkled hand reached out and retrieved the article as he stepped aside and gestured inside.
"Would you care for some tea, Miss Hollowroot?"
"And so I said, 'Martha! It is four hours before dawn. Take your presents and go back home or I will have to call the night watchmen!'" Bilbo's laughter rang out at his own story. The story, however not funny, made Robin laugh just the same. Every story he told stayed in her mind, egging her to hear more. As the laughter subsided, Bilbo cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in the chair he had claimed at the small kitchen table.
Hearing her name from him, her first name, made her sit her tea cup down immediately. The only times he had ever used it was when she was younger and in trouble or when it was getting dark outside and it was time for her to go home. Her deep brown eyes found her way to his face which carried a solemn look.
"You care for Frodo very deeply."
Even though it was not a question, she nodded her head 'yes'. Bilbo looked into her eyes. She could see concern in his. She was sure he could see fear in hers.
"Take care of him." His voice was firm but low. His hand grasped her with gentle force. She furrowed her brows in determination and wrapped her fingers around his hand.
"Always." The word came out as a whisper, but it had as much strength behind it as a shout.
The moment was interrupted by the front door bursting open with the sound of laughter from multiple voices. Instantly Bilbo freed her hand and turned a glaring eye toward the door. Frodo and the Bag End gardener Samwise spilled into the sitting room in a laughing fit.
"Confound it! It is too late at night for this kind of foolishness." Bilbo stood from his chair and stomped into the conjoining room, Robin hot on his heels. The younger hobbits quickly stood as Bilbo made his way toward them. "Home with you, Samwise Gamgee!"
The stout, ruddy hobbit scrambled to his feet, his hands up in the air as if he had been caught with his hand down Rosie Cotton's blouse. "Y-yes sir, Master Baggins. Goodnight Mister Frodo, Miss Hollowroot." With that, Sam bolted from the hobbit hole, quickly making his way to the front gate and down the path in front that connected the homes on the street.
"Frodo," Bilbo called to his smiling nephew, "Walk Miss Hollowroot home if you will."
The full moon lit the walking path that Frodo and Robin had made connecting their two hobbit-holes, bathing the two in a pale light as they walked hand-in-hand.
"Does Bilbo seem odd to you?" Robin looked over at her counterpart, watching a small crease of confusion work its way into his forehead. "Is he still talking about leaving?"
A small chuckle escaped Frodo's lips. "Yes, he always is. You know that." He turned his face to hers. It interested her, she thought, that his blue eyes could be so icy, even in the dark.
"Something he said to me sounded so… so final." Robin's lips pursed. Bilbo's words heavy on her mind. The feeling of Frodo's hand squeezing hers caused her to look up at him.
"I am in love with you, Robin."
A breath hitched in her throat. He had only said that once before. When they would children and she had snuck out to in the middle of the night right after her brother died from falling off the top of her aunt's roof while working with their father. Frodo soothed her, kissed her forehead and whispers his love to her over and over again.
"Did you hear me?" His voice called her out of the past and made her stop in her tracks. "Robin?" She lifted her face, leaning forward on her toes and very close to him. In one swift move, she wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing his head down to hers and locking their lips together. She could feel Frodo smile in surprise and clutch her waist with his hands, stroking up down her sides with his thumbs, causing her to shiver in pleasure. After a moment, she pulled away from him, earning a grunt of disappointment from him.
"I heard you."