BRANDY HALL

Volume One

Part 1: Ethereal Light

SUMMARY: Welcome to Brandy Hall, the great ancestral home of the Brandybuck family, often described as a rabbit's warren filled with soft-headed hobbits dwelling on the wrong side of the river and doing things as preposterous as swimming and tree-climbing. Or more precisely, welcome to the story of some of the earliest and arguably most important years in the life of the most famousest of hobbits. From his own birth, to the drowning of his parents, to the birth of his first best friend, to the fateful adoption that may have altered the course of history, inside you will find the chronicles of the early years of Frodo Baggins.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, as much as I would like to, and do not intend to step on any toes or steal anyone's property. Several of the characters, however, are mine.

I have a total of 101 chapters planned out for this. I know, that's a lot. But don't be intimidated! I've put a lot of work into research on this and making an effective flow, so it should be interesting enough. This is certainly an experience for me, so I hope it will be one for you as well. On with the story, then...

20th of Halimath, 1368 S.R.

Bilbo was sitting study in Bag End, going through the pile of letters he'd pulled out of the mailbox that day. He scanned them one by one, reading them aloud then commenting to himself. "A letter from Dora... wonderful," he crooned sarcastically. "Let's see- 'Hello dear Bilbo, I hope you're doing well and that this letter finds you in good health and relaxed as someone of your age should be'-" Here he grunted and gave the letter an accusatory glance. "'Someone of my age'? Completely unnecessary to bring that up, isn't it?" He continued to read, "Formalities, formalities, ah- 'Primula is quite close to giving birth. I hear from Drogo's letters that everyone over there in Buckland is quite excited and ready for the child. He sounded immensely excited himself, the dear, and that's to be expected as he and Prim have been trying for some offspring tirelessly for a few years, as you well know'."

He let out a short laugh. "As you well know," he repeated. "Surely everyone in the Shire knows with the busy-bodied, half-witted gossips that parade about..." He continued, "Let's see, 'I wondered when Drogo last wrote to you, Bilbo. In fact I wondered when anyone last wrote to you other than me and your financial advisers and whatnot. It's fortunate for you that I keep up on the happenings for you, because I'm quite sure you'd never be up-to-date on anything otherwise.' Oh, yes, Dora! Why else might I want to interact with people? This is exactly why I stay in here more than I go out. This is what I get when I try not to be a hermit." He sighed and finished the letter, tossing it out and picking up the next one.

"From Gorbadoc Brandybuck. Hm. Alright then," he opened it and read it to himself. It appeared that Rorimac's time to take his father's place as Master of Brandy Hall, and all of Buckland had come. "I am getting old, Bilbo, and I am ready for a good retirement. We both know Rory is ready to be Master of the Hall and with Saradoc having wed Esmeralda Took this past year, there are hopes for the continuation of his line. I do hope you will visit for your birthday again this year, the children do adore your gifts, strange and dwarven-made as they are. I am looking forward to the arrival of my next grandchild and this time I will enjoy it without responsibilities to Buckland keeping me occupied. I hope the babe arrives when you are here, if you come." The rest of the remarks were mostly formalities but Dora's letter and Gorbadoc's had put an idea in Bilbo's mind.


23rd of Halimath, 1368 S.R.

Sunset had cast its last rays over Brandy Hall, painting the sky with purple and red as it sank to the ground. Bilbo stopped in his tracks to watch its dying colors reflected in the sky for a moment before moving to the large front door and knocking as loudly as he could without injuring himself. Poppy Proudfoot, a plump, middle-aged serving lass in the kitchens, happened to be hanging up some things in the entry hall and made her way to the great door. She opened it to see a face she remembered from her younger days, a little lass listening to the amazing stories of a mysterious and "cracked" gentlehobbit. Her face broke into a smile. "Master Bilbo! So good to see you! Come in, come in!" She ushered him inside, taking his pack and hanging up his coat and immediately beginning to ask all her questions.

"How was your trip? You walked, didn't you?" She handed him back his pack as he chuckled and simply said "Yes..." "Why, sometimes I think you must really be mad! You've travelled more than anyone I know- and walking, too! You couldn't have hired a wagon, or at least a pony?" Poppy put her hands on her hips disapprovingly. "Well, I enjoy-" "I'm messing with you, dear Bilbo," she cut him off, laughing. "However you got here, you've come at a most opportune time. My sister Anthurium- oh, you do know Anthurium, don't you? She's married to Merimac, Mister Rory's second son-" "Yes, yes, I remember," Bilbo interrupted with a frown. Anthurium was something of a gossip and not Bilbo's favorite person. Poppy went on, unfazed, "Well, Anthurium was helping with the delivery and she told me yesterday that Primula-that's your cousin Drogo's wife-" "I'm aware." "-delivered a healthy baby boy yesterday!" "Really?" Bilbo was quite shocked. Drogo's long awaited son arriving on his own birthday? It was quite an interesting coincidence. "Well... He's healthy now, anyway..." Poppy amended. Bilbo have her a questioning look. "He's quite the tiny lad. Small as anything and he had some trouble breathing at first but his father held him and told him he needed to breathe and he listened! Fascinating, I think," she said. "Well, where are my manners?" She suddenly whispered. "Come on in, I'd best be off and settin' the table, now."

Poppy bustled off as Esmeralda, wife to Saradoc, Rory's eldest son, approached, herding a rowdy group of children out of her way before giving Bilbo a grand hug. "Good old Bilbo!" She laughed knowingly. "How was your trip? You walked, didn't you?" Bilbo, sighing, answered, "Indeed, and will I ever hear the end of it?" "Of course not," she told him matter-of-factly. "Did it go well? Having your birthday on the road as well..." She began leading him down the hall, avoiding rambunctious children playing on the floor. "Yes it did, as a matter of fact," Bilbo said. "My birthday was quite pleasant and I have brought some belated presents for everyone. And how have you been at Brandy Hall?"

Esmeralda stopped and opened a a guest room door, the one he usually used, ushering him in, before answering, "Twice as busy as usual!" Bilbo chuckled and lowered his pack. "But I'm sure you are such a help to have around. I'm dreadfully sorry to have missed your and Saradoc's wedding last Foreyule. The weather was so awful, you know, and the trip would have been dangerous...Congratulations, by the way..." Esmeralda smiled softly. "Oh... No, no, you're forgiven. It's understandable; that was a bad year for snow. The wedding was excellent. I know you'll be wanting to visit with Drogo and Prim and meeting a certain someone, and I'd best be helping Poppy with dinner, now. It's wonderful to have you back, Bilbo." She shut the door behind her.


The Baggins' quarters in Brandy Hall were connected to the Master's, but at their request had plenty of privacy. "As soon as I'm well enough to travel we're going back to the farm," Primula had told her parents. She could be quite a headstrong lass when she wanted to. She and Drogo were very proud of their little farm in Crickhollow and hated to leave it alone. Drogo stood in the little kitchen connected to their quarters, chopping vegetables and putting them in a stew. A knock came from the door. Primula, feeding Frodo from the rocking chair in the master bedroom, looked up as Drogo ushered Bilbo in quietly.

Pleasantly surprised, she greeted him. "Well, good evening! I must apologize, I'm in the middle of feeding my little Frodo..." She smiled tenderly at the child.
Trying with some difficulty to hide his amazement at the child in front of him, Bilbo nodded. "Frodo... So that's his name? Beautiful." Drogo cleared his throat and addressed his wife, "Prim, you remember my second cousin Bilbo Baggins, yes?" "Ah, yes! I do now," Primula laughed, recognizing their guest. "You'll be pleased to know that out of all of Drogo's family, you are the first to visit Frodo!" Bilbo was embarrassed, but not surprised. "Indeed, I am, though I must admit I was not even aware you had given birth until I arrived at Brandy Hall. I haven't really spoken with the rest of the Baggins family in awhile, but Dora wrote to me and said you were quite close to delivery. I thought a visit and some exercise were overdue anyway. I suppose the rest of the Bagginses will be along in their carriages and wagons eventually. He's such a tiny lad..."

Primula, attempting to lighten the mood, pulled Frodo out from under her nursing apron and nodded to Bilbo. "Why, you haven't even seen him yet! Here we are!" Drogo pulled a chair over from the desk for Bilbo and said, "Go ahead and have a seat. I'd better make sure the stew isn't catching fire." He winked at his wife and left the room. "I'm surprised not to see your sisters or the other Ladies of the Hall in here with the babe," Bilbo commented. Primula smiled sheepishly at him, "They certainly were before. They've had plenty of time to ooh and ahh over my little lad before I sent them off to help with dinner. I needed some privacy then, but your arrival is most convenient. All done, my love?" Primula asked her squirming son. "There we are. Time to be burped. Would you like to burp him, Bilbo?"

Bilbo, sitting down and feeling suddenly awkward, stuttered, "Oh, I- I don't have any experience burping a child. I'm not sure I'm quite prepared for that job..."
With a laugh, Primula told him, "Well, then I think you ought to be taught." Primula placed Frodo over her shoulder and patted his back gently. Frodo soon let out a satisfactory burp, and Primula returned him to the original position. "Well done, my lad! There now, open your eyes for Cousin Bilbo, why don't you?" She instructed as she handed him to Bilbo. Bilbo smiled at the new mother. "Well, if they're anything as beautiful as his mother's, I'm sure I'll be quite-" Frodo opened his eyes and blinked at Bilbo once before staring at him, revealing the luminous blue. The gentlehobbit was taken aback. He finished his sentence, now whispering hoarsely, "...Stunned. Sweet Eru, what gorgeous eyes! I can't fathom... I've never seen any eyes as beautiful as this."

Primula gazed at her son. "Can you believe them? Ethereal. I can tell just by looking at him that he is meant for great things." "He's so small, smaller than most infants even, and yet there's this light in him," Bilbo observed. Primula looked up at Bilbo now. "I wouldn't be surprised if we had somehow been sent an elf child from one of your stories..." Bilbo laughed, but did not tear his eyes from the infant's. "Indeed, he looks as if he could be one. Very ethereal. He does look like you and Drogo; the family resemblance isn't lost on him, and both of you have very lovely blue eyes as well, but... My, my. I'll never forget this."

"To look upon that face for the rest of my life!" Primula sighed. "I've truly been blessed. And he's such a good little babe! Only a day in the world and he's already got this wisdom about him. I truly cannot explain it." Whispering again, Bilbo told the boy, "Frodo my lad, your name is perfect for you." The room was silent for a few more minutes before Frodo let out a little yawn. Primula smiled again. "He's starting to look tired. Would you be terribly offended if I put him to bed now?" Snapping out of his thoughts, Bilbo answered her, "Oh, of course not! Do as you must."

He relinquished Frodo to Primula as Drogo walked in, munching on a carrot. "Dinner is ready," he announced. "I hope that it's edible. Bilbo, please feel free to join us! Unless you'd rather dine in the Great Hall with the rest of the family. The rest of the very extensive family..." Bilbo laughed at this. "What have you made, Drogo?" "Chicken and vegetable stew," came the answer. "I must admit I am not a natural cook, but Prim's been patient with me as I've been trying to give her a little break from the housework for obvious reasons." "Indeed!" Bilbo said, standing up. He gestured to Frodo. "I hope I didn't scare your son too much. I seem to have that effect on some people." Primula rose as well and put Frodo in his cradle. "Oh, of course not! His little eyelids are already drooping... You've put him right to sleep!" Drogo looked over the side of the cradle at Frodo and made a funny face while chewing off part of his carrot. "Hello, there, my little star!" He turned to Bilbo with a grin. "Isn't he the brightest?" "He certainly is," Bilbo looked thoughtful for a moment. "He's got quite an ethereal light in him. Little star- That's "elenti" in Elvish. Sindarin, I believe..." Primula gasped. "Elenti! How adorable." Turning to Frodo, she told him, "You've got yourself another pet name, my lad."

She gave him one last kiss on the forehead and headed for the kitchen while Drogo and Bilbo followed, the latter sending the baby one last look. Primula sat down at the small kitchen table and looked up at her husband. "Chicken and vegetable stew you say? Sounds delicious!" Bilbo sat down across from her. "I'm sure it will be." Drogo brought the stew over from the fire and placed it on the table along with some bowls and utensils. "You're staying for dinner then?" He asked his cousin, sitting down. Bilbo smiled. "Yes, I think I shall. We've quite a bit of catching up to do."


THE NEXT EVENING

Rorimac sat at the right hand of his father, Gorbadoc the Master of Buckland, who was concluding his last evening as the Master of Buckland. There was quite the party prepared for the transition feast and when the clock struck six Gorbadoc stood, wine glass rasied, and a hush fell over the crowd. "I would like to propose a toast- to the new Master of Brandy Hall!" Cheering filled the hall as everyone raised their glasses. Rorimac stood with his father, and nodding to one another they switched places at the table and sat, Rory now in the Master's chair. Rorimac smiled and waited for the clapping to die down before signalling for the first course to be brought out.

It was a feast to remember and the dancing went on for quite some time before the various guests began to disperse. Bilbo, starting to feel his age and ready for bed after a long couple of days, retired early and Drogo and Primula took Frodo into one of the Ladies' parlours, certain various female relatives would want to meet the babe. Indeed, it did not take long for Primula's sisters Amaranth and Asphodel to arrive, Asphodel bringing in her husband Rufus Burrows as well as a host of ladies wishing to coo over the lad. It took a couple of hours for them to disperse until only Amaranth, Asphodel, and Rufus remained with them. Primula sighed, took a sip of her tea, and turned to her sister. "How are things with you and Rufus?" As Asphodel was currently occupied with a mouthful of tea, Rufus answered for her. "Same as always. Work work work..." Drogo looked up from Frodo, who he was holding, and stared curiously at Rufus. "You have quite the interesting job, though," he commented. "It takes a lot to be a Bounder."

Rufus was a fidgety hobbit who didn't make it business to learn the art of conversation and, when all was said and done, was actually quite shy. It had been a long week away from his family in a job that was fairly new to him and, soft-spoken as he was, he did his best not to sound grouchy. "The training is interesting, I suppose, but what's the point of being a Bounder when nothing happens?" Primula had the answer immediately. "Being prepared. Someone has to be. The Shire mustn't be caught unawares if a threat from the Outside presents itself." At this, Amaranth put down her knitting in annoyance. "'Threats from the Outside'? Really, Prim? Have you been listening to that Mad Baggins or something?" Asphodel, distressed, whispered, "Amaranth, no..." Amaranth was the second eldest in the family, after Rory. She was the oldest of the three sisters and yet had passed her coming-of-age quite a long time ago without a single suitor. She had never courted anyone in her life and as a result remained slightly bitter toward her two married sisters and their flourishing families. Asphodel was closer to Primula and, always the peace-loving sweetheart, wanted only to prevent the inevitable argument.

Amaranth went on, heedless, "The most likely thing to invade the Shire is a predator from the Old Forest, and that's what the training is for. Bounders don't need to waste their resources on threats that don't exist. Their training seems completely practical to me, and if it's boring then that's what you signed on for." Rufus, quite uncomfortable at being argued over, decided to put a stop to it. "I didn't mean to complain, Amaranth, merely to point out that the Shire is quite safe," he told her awkwardly. "That is, in fact, a blessing. I'm sure a dull day at work is a much better situation than a disaster, however exciting. If you'll excuse me, I'd like another helping of cake..." With that, he left the room, glad to have the social situation out of the way.

There was silence for a few seconds as Amaranth picked up her knitting again and Primula took another sip of her tea. "I do think Rufus is right," she said softly, with her eyes on Frodo. "Our cozy little corner of the world has been spared much." Amaranth shook her head, but didn't even bother looking up from her knitting this time. "'Spared'? How in the Shire would you know the rest of the world isn't a peaceful place? What does it matter anyway?" Asphodel, desperately trying to change the subject, forced out some pleasantries to Primula. "I must say, the Hall has begun an excellent harvest this year." Primula smiled at her. It was a very Asphodel-like thing to say. "Have you, Asphodel?" she played along. "I'll have to be sure to visit the Hall more this year. Besides, Frodo needs to get to know his cousins. How has Milo been doing?"

Asphodel, smiling, became much more relaxed. "Very well. He's excited to be almost done struggling through his schooling." Drogo, who had kept silent in his care for Frodo, perked up at the mention of Asphodel's only son, and his favorite nephew. "I'm sure," he laughed. "I remember how much he hated keeping up with his correspondence once he learned his letters." Amaranth allowed a small smirk to creep on her face. "He still does!" She told them. "Doesn't understand why he ought to write to others in the Hall." Asphodel shook her head knowingly. "He doesn't want anymore practice. Ready for the real world, he says," Asphodel explained. "Not if he doesn't keep up with his correspondence," Amaranth mumbled.

Frodo was beginning to squirm in his father's arms. Drogo signalled with a nod to his wife that he was ready to hand him over. "Come here, Elenti," Prim said as she took her little bundle into her arms. Amaranth lowered her knitting again and asked with a quirked eyebrow, "'Elenti'? What in the Shire is that nonsense supposed to mean?" "Little star," Drogo answered her. Amaranth narrowed her eyes at Primula. "I don't even want to know where that came from. Father and Mother would disapprove." Primula, quite ready to be done treated like a child, youngest member of the family or not, was clearly upset. "I'm old enough to make my own decisions regarding what Father and Mother disapprove of, in case you've forgotten."

Saradoc walked in, completely missing the tense atmosphere and said enthusiastically, "More wine, anyone?" Frodo began to cry as Sara glanced around the room, confused.


When all the guests had departed and even those in the parlour had gone to bed, there still remained a few hobbits in the Great Hall at the dining table finishing off their bottle of Old Winyards as the moon rose in the velvet-dark sky and crickets took up their calls. Saradas, the third child after Rory and Amaranth, and ever the task-oriented, responsible one, had sent the last of the dirty dishes off with the kitchen maids and retired with his quiet and subdued wife, Amalda. Then only Rory, his second son Merimac, and his two other brothers, Dodinas and Dinodas, remained. Dodinas and Dinodas were two gentlehobbits who, to most, acted as if they had never left their youth. Both were less ambitious in business and managing than in courting lasses and drinking good ale. They had both passed the prime courting age for certain, but ladies never seemed to fail to be interested in a rich gentlehobbit with good connections.

Knowing full well that Dino wouldn't stop drinking until the wine bottle was gone, Rory's wife Menegilda had sent him off to bed before leaving herself with an admonition to Rory not to stay up too late. Dodinas himself was a bit tipsy but kept up the conversation in his cheerful manner. "How does it feel, brother?" He asked Rory with a chuckle. "Well, it won't really feel different until I'm handling the legal matters and whatnot," Rory snorted. Merimac smiled from his seat. "Then it's a good thing the legal matters are your favorite, Father. I never liked them much." Rorimac took one look at his youngest son and laughed. "Oh, I'm aware, Merimac. Didn't you ever wonder why I gave Saradoc the more intense finance lessons?" Merimac shrugged. "I suppose I assumed it was because he'll be the Master one day. He needs it more." "Indeed he does," Rorimac nodded. "But you put quite a lot of energy into subtly hinting to me that finances aren't your favorite in your time." Mac beamed and asked, "So it did work?"

Dodinas laughed at him, a little more loudly than was necessary. "I'd say so, but 'you'll still need to handle your finances and learn how to manage your land'". He was repeating what he and Dino had been told many times by their parents. "Not to mention culture and etiquette," Rory mumbled, eyeing his brother. Merimac kept smiling. "Actually I didn't mind those lessons so much," he reported, thinking of his wife. "Anthurium is the queen of etiquette!" Just then Saradoc came in and cleared his throat. Everyone looked to him and waited for him to speak. "Uncle Dodi, Mother is asking for you." Dodinas sighed before getting up, stretching, and muttering "That blasted Menegilda always has to have a handle on things" before walking out. Merimac stood as well, catching his brother's eye. "We ought to be getting to bed, too. It's far past midnight and there's work to do tomorrow." "Congratulations, Father," they chorused, each giving him a pat on the shoulder before leaving the Hall. Rory decided to sit outside for a bit and by the light of the moon, smoked his pipe and looked upon his inheritance and the land around him. Things were changing in Buckland.


There were celebrations lasting the entire week for the new Master as well as the new baby, and at the close of them, Bilbo finally took his leave. "Remind me to visit you, if you will," he told Drogo as he said farewell. "I'd like to keep an eye on this little one," with that he smiled fondly at little Frodo in his mother's arms, and left Brandy Hall. Frodo's first year was full of surprises. He remained a tiny lad, and no matter how many times a day he was fed, he would not fatten up the way other lads did. His skin remained pale and soft, and no matter how much his mother brought him out in the sun, he would not tan like other lads did. His hair stayed very dark brown and the cute little curls atop his head and tiny feet grew steadily. The disarming blue of his eyes never faded. To his parents' delight, his first real smile was only two weeks after his birth. It was a big, comforting smile that set off his eyes brilliantly. His first laugh was on First Yule, and to those listening, it sounded like the high, clear tone of bells ringing triumphantly.

It was a fine day at the end of Rethe when Amaranth and Anthurium were over at the Baggins' farm in Crickhollow to help with the spring cleaning (Amaranth making a pot of tea) that Drogo suddenly shot out of his seat and exclaimed, "Prim! Primula, look!" His wife and Anthurium came rushing in from a back room where they were going through boxes of mathoms and a gasp escaped Primula's lips. Frodo was struggling across the room, and crawling for the first time. "Oh, Frodo! Look at you!" She turned to Anthurium. "Didn't I tell you he was a fast learner?" Amaranth shook her head from the fireplace. "The babe can crawl. Congratulations." Drogo picked up on the sarcastic hint in her voice and frowned. "Amaranth! This is an important step for him," he told her, slightly hurt. Amaranth cracked a smile. "Only it isn't a step. He's just crawling." Soon the bitterness was forgotten and even Amaranth was laughing at her jest.

By his first birthday, Frodo was weaned and walking, and by his second, he was stringing together sentences that had his parents hanging onto every word. Visits from Cousin Bilbo weren't as frequent as any of them would have liked, but they were always filled with wonder and delight. In his toddler's brain, Frodo had worked out that Bilbo was more of an Uncle to him than a cousin, especially considering their ages. And so he took to calling him "Uncle Bilbo" and every Yule his favorite uncle would make his trip to Brandy Hall at the same time that Frodo and his parents did, and every Yule during story-time Frodo was his best listener out of all the children. At the occasional times Bilbo would travel to their farm in Crickhollow or the Bagginses would travel to Bag End, Frodo begged and pleaded for stories of magical elves and heroes of men. During the Yuledays, however, it was Bilbo's special time to tell his own story, of his adventure with the dwarves of Erebor. Frodo heard more of it at Yule every year and his tenth Yule, he became enthralled with the idea of floating down the river in a barrel.

It was spring of that year, and his mother had been quite sick. He didn't really understand why she had been so sad after the doctor left. She would make a full recovery from her illness, and Drogo and Frodo were very happy to hear it. But Primula remained sad, and did not pay much attention to her son for a couple of days. On a morning when his mother stayed in bed and his father was in the fields, Frodo decided to go on an adventure. He made his way down to the river, finding himself an empty barrel outside of one of the riverside homes and jumped in it, before rolling himself into the Brandywine. It wasn't as fun as he had hoped, as the river wasn't rushing very quickly like he expected. But he was quickly faced with another problem; this was not an elven barrel. It was not bigger than him and could not hold his weight, small as he was. As he was reaching out his arm to try and paddle his way downstream, he heard a deafening crack, and the next thing he knew, the barrel was gone, and he was struggling to stay above water. He then realized he probably should have learned to swim first. Frodo had barely struggled for half a minute when his arms started tiring and his splutters became less, and he knew he was sinking. He took a gulp of air and squinted up at the bank. His father was sprinting down it, along with a figure he didn't recognize. He reached out weakly and then even his fingers had drifted under. When Frodo next opened his eyes, it was to see the unfamiliar figure grabbing hold of him.

Frodo clung on tight until he was deposited on the ground, hacking and coughing up river water with his father's hand rubbing his back. The tears started coming and eventually he was persuaded to explain what in the Shire he had been doing. When Drogo had sighed at his tale and rocked his precious son some more, he explained that he had seen Frodo go off and had followed him, running into the riverside home that Frodo had gotten the barrel from and calling for help when he saw his son go under. The fisher-hobbit that lived there had rescued Frodo and both Bagginses were quite grateful to him. Drogo was not a Bucklander by birth, and having been raised in the non-swimming society of Hobbiton, regrettably never learned to swim. But he decided then and there that Frodo needed to learn. Learning what had happened to her darling boy brought Primula out of her melancholy shell and convinced her to give her son some proper swimming lessons. She, of course, had been raised on these waters, and there was no one better qualified. It was a memorable summer, full of lazy days by the water, and hard days of work and swimming lessons. Frodo took after his mother once he learned the basics and was soon quite at home in the Brandywine River. His father looked on proudly from the bank, and would wade out as far as he could to congratulate him. Those summer nights were nights of stargazing together and catching glow worms and also of whittling lessons and practice. Drogo had made Frodo a small wooden pony to pull around on a string when he was younger, and Frodo, fascinated with it, wanted to make something like it himself. The years passed at a comfortable pace, and the family was content with their way of life and each other. They had a bright future and a home full of light and love. It came as a horrible shock when all that ended.


Anthurium was five months pregnant with her and Mac's first child. Frodo was twelve and had many friends among the other farm boys in Crickhollow and at Brandy Hall. He was very excited to be having a new relation born who could, in time, perhaps become his best friend. He had convinced his parents to allow a weekend long trip to the ancestral hole in order to get in touch with the maternal family again and enjoy a pleasant visit. The first two days passed splendidly, with Frodo getting up to all kinds of mischief and having loads of fun with the other lads milling about the Hall. The third and last night was a clear, sweet, romantic one with the moon providing a shimmer of light and the surrounding darkness comforting. An old longing was struck up in Primula, and, with little resistance, she was able to coax Drogo into going off on a romantic boating adventure, just for the evening.

They tucked Frodo into his bed in their guest room, each one kissing a cheek and giving a warm goodnight hug before they set off. For years afterward it was debated what really happened, and no one but the two of them ever knew. Drogo had rowed out to a tranquil spot before pulling in his oars and revealing a flower to hand to his wife. She blushed like a tweenaged lass and took it, stroking the petals thoughtfully. The two of them talked for hours in that boat, about the past, present, and future, but in large part, about Frodo. The wind picked up, and neither of them had noticed for awhile that they had drifted downstream.

Drogo suddenly paused in the conversation and looked around. The surroundings were different than where they had started and a persistent breeze played with his wife's dark locks. Primula's bright eyes suddenly widened with fear. "Drogo- look out!" He whipped around just in time to see a boulder in the river crash into his end of the boat. Water immediately began to fill it and he rose quickly in alarm. Slipping, he fell over the edge with a shout and splashed into the now fast-moving water. "Drogo? Drogo!" Primula leapt in after him, trying to pull his sinking body up, but her skirts weighed her down. She couldn't hold the combined weight but would not drop her husband, who had stopped struggling against the water and fallen unconscious. She raised her tear-filled eyes to the surface, where the moon shone down, still as clear and sweet as before. Primula raised her delicate hand towards the surface but didn't find purchase on anything. She gave one last pull to her husband's limp body before lowering her head in resignation. Succumbing to her starving lungs, she closed her eyes and fell to the bottom, joining her husband in the depths of the river. Their last thoughts were with Frodo.


A/N: I hope this was an enjoyable start. If you are wondering about the Shire months, look at a Shire calendar that has the real-world equivalents. Also, if you are confused about how everyone is related, it would probably do you some good to find a Brandybuck family tree to reference. The one in the back of my Lord of the Rings one-volume giant has done me a world of good. And finally, what I have done is that I have taken characters I don't know much of anything about just by looking at that family tree and, by making inferences that may or may not mean anything, I have given them something of a personality. Of course, everybody has shades of grey, so nothing is assumed.

NEXT CHAPTER: A tragedy occurs that later defines Frodo's life and the initial aftermath is damaging.

Please review, constructive criticism and other comments are most certainly welcome, and have a great day! Thank you -TFF