For Ariel, who wanted to see the first time Bilbo met Frodo...

FIRST MEETING

I knock on the door of my favorite cousin's apartment, and he opens the door. "Bilbo! How good to see you!"

I enter, and Drogo looks at me with a grin, and that mixture of astonishment and exhaustion often found on the faces of new fathers, I have observed.

"Do you want to see him?"

"Well, of course I should like to get a look at your excuse for missing my birthday last week," I jest.

He leads me into the room where Primula rests with a blanket wrapped bundle in the crook of her arm. She smiles at me. "Have you come to have a look at our lad?" she says with that mixture of pride and shyness I have often heard in the voices of new mothers.

At my nod, Drogo bends over and picks up the bundle, which squirms a bit, and makes a mewling noise. Truth be told, I don't expect much. Most week old babies look much of a sameness, all red and raw-looking, with squinty little faces, but it doesn't do to say such things to the proud parents, and fortunately the children do grow out of it-most of them, at least.

He tucks the babe up in his arm, and carefully draws away the blanket. The little one is clad only in a nappy, and he is indeed rather red and new-looking. He has astonishingly thick dark curls on head and feet.

Drogo offers him to me, and I take him gently. He squirms a bit, and puts a tiny fist to his mouth like any other newborn.

And then he opens his eyes.

Oh my!