Volume One

Part 3: We Commit Thee

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 changed 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.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, but I haven't updated anything since over a year ago. The reason? I lost all my hours and months of research and drafts for this project, and then gave up on rebuilding it a few weeks in. What inspired me to attempt to continue this story is a very, very difficult loss I'm experiencing. I went back and read the scene in the past chapter where Frodo runs from room to room with growing anxiety and denial when he finally sees his parents' bodies. I realized that this was exactly how I'm feeling and how I felt receiving the news about this situation. So, I'm back. Writing became my outlet and here we are, with the next installment. It's different than it was in drafts, but probably is more accurate now. Sorry it's also rather long. Warning: Intense feels trip ahead (but that shouldn't really be a surprise). Without further ado, here you go...

Rory and Primula were eighteen years apart and had such different personalities that they were never extremely close. But Primula was Rory's youngest sister; she was his baby, she was everyone's baby. And as much as she relished certain aspects of that title there were some parts of it that she would have preferred to have done away with. People's noses in her business was one of those things she wanted to keep away, and Rory gave her all the privacy she and her family had needed to accommodate her. Now, with an incident like this, he was second guessing himself. Perhaps he should have kept a closer eye on them. Perhaps he should have popped his head in every once in awhile to make sure they were well. As he slowly began to accept what had happened, he thought perhaps he should have appreciated her more, treasured her more, loved her more... but it didn't matter now. It was all too late for that. She and Drogo had gone wherever spirits go knowing what love they did know.

As head of the family, the Hall, and all of Buckland, he knew he needed to set the standard for how to relate to the tragedy before the Brandybucks. And that meant it was time to get out of his chair and his room and the Master's quarters completely and resume with his life. How to go about mourning in the Shire was usually fairly straightforward, but the problem with this situation was that the deceased were still young, relatively speaking. They were not elderly, they hadn't thought about at length and detailed their wills, they hadn't told those they left behind where to bury them or how to go on. What would make Prim proud? What everyone always said in the wake of a death was "what would make them proud?" Usually it was to lift the spirits of the grievers by focusing on the future and to think about what the deceased would want for them to do about their absence. Only usually the deceased was well on in years and unafraid of death, if not ready for it. How was anyone to know what would make Prim proud in her absence if she had never thought about it herself?

Rory could only hope that she wanted for those she left behind what everyone always wants for those they leave behind; to be able to move on and be happy. So that was how Brandy Hall was going to approach this. "Give Primula and Drogo the appreciation and love they deserve, and let them rest while we move on from this." It would be harder for some than for others, and it certainly wouldn't be easy with their bodies lying around in the mathom room still. Rory remembered when his grandmother died how strange things had been around the Hall directly afterward. He supposed any hobbit felt a loss when someone died, but everyone knew everyone at Brandy Hall, and every bond was strong. So every hobbit felt a loss, and it was a painful one. The Master of Buckland knew the Shire hadn't seen such a tragic premature death since a lass in the Great Smials had a stillborn child fifteen years ago. Either way, it was about time Buckland got their act together and handled the situation.

Rorimac shook his head and stood up, keeping a firm hand on his armrest as the blood rushed to his head. A couple of deep breaths and stretches later, he was off to the fields. A few farmhands were sitting around, muttering and glancing about. Seeing Rory approach, they leapt to their feet and stuttered out a polite greeting, faces as red as tomatoes. "Why aren't you working?" Rory sighed. "N-Not meanin' any disrespect, sir," one of the lads got out. "But we haven't seen our masters since the drowning..." Rory's eyes narrowed. "But the hobbits I employed here are from Waymoot. How could they possibly be connected enough to the Bagginses to need to take a full three days off to mourn without telling anyone? It sounds like they're just trying to get out of work to me." An awkward moment of silence passed with eyes shifting back and forth across the ground. The breeze died down and the insects in the trees grew louder.

Another of the Hobbit-lads finally piped up, "Not to be a squealer, Master Rory, but I'd say that's correct. None of them have any Baggins or Brandybuck relations for several generations at least, for certain none they keep up with, and none of them ever met Mister Drogo or Miss Primula. I think they did have that idea in mind, to use the accident as an excuse. Not that it's my place to judge, sir-" "Yes, alright, that's enough, lad," Rory cut him off. "I'll make sure your masters are found and dealt with, but you lot get back to work. I want all the land that should have been inspected and cleared for planting during the last three days ready to go by the end of the week, understood? And next time no one makes an effort to come to work, notify the Hall and get your own work done anyway." Heads bobbed and a chorus of "yessir" echoed before each lad scampered off to his own task. Rorimac departed from the fields after a few more similar visits among the field workers, and several visits that were veritably better because the managers and workers had continued on with their tasks despite the tragedy that halted others. Having done his business, he returned to the Hall to find Saradas.

Instead, he found Sara's wife Amalda who was on her way back from town. "You wouldn't happen to have seen Saradas recently Amalda?" She froze mid-stride and stared at him for a moment. "He didn't come home last night, Master." He approached her slowly. "Please, to you it's Rory. He's been out since yesterday then?" She nodded, red curls bouncing up and down. "Sara went to the legal office in Bucklebury to inquire about their will a few days ago." There was no questioning the 'them' she referred to. "The gentlehobbit needed some time to get everything together, all the papers and records and such, so Sara went back into town yesterday to inform the Buckland coroner of the deaths and plan an investigation, I believe. I've no idea where he is now." Rory sighed. "If he is indeed beginning the investigation and ensuring that the proper legal procedures are taken, then I can deal with those matters later. Primula and Drogo need to be buried first, I'm sure of it. It's been three days since the official death, and their bodies have been lying in that mathom room for too long without going to rest." The Master adjusted his hat and turned with resolve towards the Hall. "I have an announcement to make at dinner. Shall I walk you back?"

Other than Gorbadoc and Mirabella, there were no exceptions for this meal. Rory had all the servant lads run around the Hall to check that everyone was present at dinner; family, staff, apprentices, guests, even Frodo was forced out of his room to hear what the Master had to say. He came compliantly without struggling and sat at the children's table where he immediately became the focus of a dozen pairs of curious eyes. When the food was brought out, he stared at it, contemplating whether or not to eat. He didn't need to agonize over it for long because only a few minutes into the meal Aunt Menegilda came over and ushered the lad to the adults' table, seating him at the end and informing him that Uncle Rory had something important to say. When the Hall had hushed sufficiently, the Master rose to his feet and cleared his throat.

"I understand that improper grieving can be harmful, and desire nothing more than to be able to put Drogo and Primula Baggins to rest in a fitting way. Because of this, I believe it is time to commence with funeral preparation." All was silent and still in the great room while Rory closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. "We need to bury them. They've laid in that room for too long, not properly let go of and not given peace. They're in an uncertain state of betweenness, neither fully living nor dead. To be right with ourselves and for them to be treated well, we must acknowledge that it is time for them to go. If this concept doesn't communicate clearly to you than consider that to the rest of the Shire, Buckland is already odd. We are viewed as being strange despite our carefulness next to the Old Forest and in relation to the river. Brandy Hall needs to show the other Farthings that we are moving along, we are taking care of matters, and we are mourning appropriately. It was a very, very tragic accident that occurred a few days ago, but Drogo and Primula are gone, and the Shire is watching. How we respond to this will affect our lands and our reputation. I propose that we direct our finances to investigating what happened to the deceased and handle funeral planning ourselves. If I could ask for a volunteer, would anyone be willing to tend to funeral matters?"

A response was almost immediate. Asphodel had already been preparing for the official call for the funeral by ordering the larders to be stocked with extra care and clearing guest rooms. It was only a matter of time before Rory took action on this important stage of the mourning process, and the time had come. "I'll do it," Asphodel said, clearly and confidently. Eyebrows were raised all around the table as Asphodel raised her chin. "Asphodel?" Rory whispered to himself, doubtful. "Very well, Asphodel," he repeated loudly enough for everyone to hear. Heads snapped back to him and he met eyes with his sister. She seemed to be determined to go through with it and if it was beneficial to her and to the Hall, he could not deny her, as the Master or as her older brother. "You may plan the funeral. And if you need help, I'll trust you to appoint whomever you see fit." And so the Master sat down again and the meal continued, though a quiet chatter persisted.

Once dinner was finished, Asphodel hardly had a moment to reconsider before a number of hobbits approached her with questions on this or that about the funeral. After a good ten minutes of repeating "no, I don't know where they'll be buried" and "I haven't been through their clothes, of course I don't know what they'll be wearing!" she and a select few ladies retreated into a parlor to discuss the funeral in earnest. The conversation fell to Asphodel choosing who she wanted to assist her, and the list was Menegilda, Saradoc, Esmeralda, Merimac, Amalda, a few of the servants, and, despite initial reluctance to admit her for her lack of a positive attitude, Amaranth. Anthurium wasn't allowed to assist physically in any way because of her pregnancy. She put up as much of a fight as she could, arguing that she still had at least four months to go before the baby was due. Asphodel wouldn't hear it, however, and the ladies settled on Anthurium assisting in a non-physical way. Saradas also would have been added to the group if he'd been present, but seeing as his location was unknown, he was not. Asphodel would not be so presumptuous as to include him anyway when he was most likely dealing with legal matters.

The blur that was the rest of the evening didn't seem to touch Frodo. He had sat in the dining Hall with his eyes fixed on the table until everyone else had left. "Funeral" was just much too massive of a subject to dwell on. Part of him wanted to do something with himself, to help or provide input, to do the best he could for his parents and make sure everything was as nice as it could be. And the other part wanted to forget the funeral business, turn his tail and run, to lay in the fields and escape this dreary atmosphere where his mother and father were dead and the household was in shambles. The adults always tried to hide it, but he saw through them. He knew they were sad, too, and scared, and unsure of how to express it without frightening everyone else. The sun was setting outside, and a stray beam peeked through a window and settled in Frodo's eye. The lad looked up at it and knew his decision had been made. His aunts would be after him for information on his parents anyway, and he needed to get out for awhile. Frodo finally pushed back from the table and let his feet carry him somewhere else.

Rory wiped his sweaty palm on his trousers before knocking on the parlor door. Asphodel and the other ladies had been holed up there for a couple of hours while Rory had sat, unsettled, in his study, worrying and trying to make decisions. A few of these decisions needed to be discussed with his sister Asphodel. "Come in!" his wife's voice drifted to him in his deep state of thought. Rory cracked the door and made eye contact with Asphodel, nodding his head in the direction of the hallway. She frowned at him before complying with a few hasty apologies to the others. "Is something wrong, Rory?" she asked, closing the door behind her. "Well, I've a few matters that will affect the funeral planning..." Asphodel closed her eyes and sighed before nodding for him to continue. "The first is to say that the Hall will fund the ceremony in part, and I've already drawn up some figures, but as you know, we're focusing our contributions on the investigation. I think some of the money for the burial ought to come from Drogo and Prim's savings of course, too. The caskets, the flowers, all of it is for them, so it was a natural decision." "I haven't got a problem with that," Asphodel told him. "Was there something else?" Rorimac glanced at the door. "Well, I've just received correspondence from Saradas that the coroner wants to postpone the funeral so they can examine the bodies for the investigation. So when I tell you we're saving some spending on this process, I don't just mean money-" Asphodel finished for him "You mean time, too. Well, you're lucky we've only just started on the invitations because now we'll have to change the dates. Do you happen to have a suggestion?"

"The coroner wants a week." Asphodel's eyes widened. "It was a drowning, Asphodel, you need to give them time to gather reports and all that," the Master waved his hand dismissively and stopped talking. "Alright," his sister agreed, shaking her head and moving to re-enter the parlour. Relieved that he had gotten that business over with, Rorimac made his way back down the hall and left it to his sister. Asphodel relayed the news to the others and encouraged them to continue the process with the hurried speed they were taking. No one wanted this on their minds longer than it had to be. Not twenty minutes later, Milo and Seredic passed by the room quite by chance and were stopped by the committee inside to run a few errands. "Seredic, could you run all of these invitations to the post office before it closes?" Amalda begged her son. With a glance at Milo who returned an unhelpful smile, Seredic gave in and set out for town on a pony. Milo was turning to leave the parlour when Asphodel stopped him. "Not so quick, my lad. I have an errand for you, too."

Ten minutes later Milo was trekking through the fields, already having searched the house and ready to give up on who he was looking for. It was sheer luck that he heard a slight rustle to his right and saw a small hobbit foot disappear into some tall grass. "Frodo, is that you?" The only response was from the crickets and insects coming out for the night. "Frodo, I haven't come to drag you back inside that stuffy place. But I will warn you that it does look like rain tonight," Milo cracked a smile as a curly head popped up. "Come on out," he urged the lad, having a seat himself and patting the patch of grass next to him. "It isn't as if I have any bad news for you." Frodo sighed at this and complied, plopping down next to his cousin. "Sorry. I probably shouldn't have said something like that..." Milo mumbled, realizing his directness might have been in poor taste for the fragile child. Frodo turned his head up and met Milo's eyes, holding the stare until his cousin got uncomfortable. "Why did you come here, then, if not to fetch me?"

Milo shrugged. "Mum wanted me to ask you a question. Just one, she said, because she already knows the answer to everything else she might think to ask you. You weren't in your room or anywhere inside the Hall, so I came out just in case you had somehow..." "Needed some fresh air?" Frodo finished for him. "Milo cracked a smile. "Exactly." He lay back in the grass and watched the stars beginning to come out. "I wouldn't mind some of it myself. It's a mess in there, with everyone trying to organize themselves. It's funny isn't it? Inside there's chaos, and outside it's as if nothing's changed at all." There was silence for a moment before Milo took it a step further. "That's something like how I feel, as well. My head is confused, but I'm fine externally." Frodo felt his eyes on his back, the tension hanging in the air before Milo asked what everyone had been wondering. "How do you feel?"

Frodo was tempted to answer him. To tell him his entire reality had shifted and it was frustrating to think of the rest of the world going on like normal, but terrifying to think of the hole waiting for him in that impossible subject- the subject of his parents. But Milo couldn't help him. Milo was really only here because he was told to be, and perhaps because he was curious as well. Either way he had certainly allowed his curiosity to get the better of him. Frodo decided to slightly change the topic. "Does everyone whisper about me?" Milo sat up quickly, caught off guard, before sighing and scratching his neck. "Not when many others are around to hear. In groups, they gossip with their eyes. You've seen them do that, though." It was true. Every reaction Frodo had had since the incident was chalk full of glances and pointed looks, even this one. Uncomfortable now, Frodo proceeded to ask what the question Asphodel had sent Milo with was. Milo clasped his hands and looked towards the ground. "What was you mother's favourite flower?"

Frodo froze. He could see her face light as day in his mind's eye.

"And do you know why it's my favourite, Frodo?" The young child shook his curls. Primula smiled. "Because every time your father saw me when we courted, he would bring me a handful. He said they matched my eyes, and I made the flowers more beautiful when I wore them, instead of the other way 'round!" Frodo giggled, as his mother placed a single flower in his shirt pocket. "It's very small and delicate, Elenti. You'll take care of it, I'm certain." Primula placed an equally delicate kiss on her son's head before opening the door of the hobbit hole and releasing him to play to his heart's content.

Frodo knew what all of his aunts and their guests would say. It was a small, delicate, flower and it wasn't at all showoffish or expensive. But it was her favourite, and it was just like her. The lad's eyes began to fill up with tears, he stood up suddenly and swallowed back the lump in his throat. Like a frightened rabbit, he turned in the direction of the Hall and fled the rain that was coming. Milo stood up and called after him, "Frodo?" Frodo continued running, not breaking his stride for a moment to shout his answer back.


Two days later, the storm clouds had cleared and the morning found Bilbo Baggins sitting in his study, all of his luggage still in the hall. He had returned from his small adventure, popped into the Gamgees' smial to let Hamfast know he had returned, and taken his mail into Bag End with him. The hobbit hadn't been in a rush to break into it; it was probably just gossip or invitations to tea and other festivities, but a letter from Brandy Hall had piqued his interest. Bilbo had been paying more attention to anything from Buckland, as Drogo and Prim had been sending him correspondence every once in awhile and occasionally Frodo would draw him a picture. He was quite fond of the lad, and, weary from the road, decided to open it up, in case it was a message from his favourite relations. He dropped his bags in the corridor and made his way to his study for his letter opener. The words which he read seemed to be sent out of a nightmare.

"Brandy Hall, with deep sorrow and greatest sympathy for the other relations of the victims, regrets to announce the sudden deaths of Mister Drogo and Mistress Primula Baggins. They passed unexpectedly some time over the night of Astron the Seventh by way of what appears to be a boating accident. They are survived by their twelve-year-old son, Frodo Baggins, as well as their other immediate relations. Word regarding their burial and funeral service will be sent shortly. Thank you for your patience."

After scanning these words once, Bilbo lifted his head and cleared his vision with several quick blinks. His eyes were failing him, he was sure, and he had completely misread what was supposed to be a joyous report of some announcement- any announcement- that was normal, and regular, and safe. A shiver passed through him. Drogo and Primula? Sudden deaths? Boating accident? Ridiculous. Bilbo swallowed and glanced down again, reading what he had just skimmed a second time. It was true, every word that was there was clear and gave no indication that it was a jest. If it was, the punchline was missing, and it was too cruel to believe, but Bilbo had a sinking feeling that it was the truth. Wet spots appeared on the parchment as tears splashed on the letter in the hobbit's shaking hand.

A knock on the door made Bilbo jump out of his seat. He kicked his bags out of the way and swung it wide. A bashful looking messenger-hobbit stood on his threshold, with an arm outstretched holding another letter. Bilbo glanced at him and took it. Realising what a mess he must look, he swiped his finger under his eyes to clear away any tears and checked the return address on the envelope. Sure enough; Brandy Hall. He only half listened to the lad's excuses of the storm keeping him from delivering it and his pleas for forgiveness as he was young and unsure of what to do, even though he had delivered all the other letters on time and was well qualified for his position. Bilbo waved him away and ripped open the envelope on the spot, not even bothering with the letter opener. It was either the "word regarding their burial" that was promised in the first letter, or it was the explanation that the previous message was a prank by some of the lads at the Hall offering their apologies for worrying him. He held his breath and unfolded it.

It was about the funeral- and the service was tomorrow. Bilbo's eyes widened. There was no possible way he would make it in time, even if he left at that moment. Reaching back inside to grab the bags still sitting on the landing, he hoisted them over his shoulder and grasped his walking stick. He didn't care if he was late, he was going anyway.

The tomb of a mathom room that held the bodies needed to be open so they could be inspected by the coroner and then dressed for the funeral, and no matter how much he wanted to hide from it, Frodo had to see them before they were packed away and disposed of like rubbish. It wasn't very difficult to sneak in after Uncle Saradas and the coroner walked out to discuss the results with Uncle Rory and all the attention was diverted.

They looked much like they had when he had seen them outside that day. It was wrong to him that their skin could be that colour- so lifeless and warped into some dead creature. It looked as if they had never been alive. Frodo wondered briefly if these were just stuffed mannequins made to slightly resemble his parents but he quickly dismissed it after hesitantly reaching out to touch his father's hand. No one would be able to convince Frodo that the cold, dead hobbits in front of him had not once been alive and happy, and full of laughter and song as well as tears and angry words, but most of all of love. Mother and father had been real with a full range of emotions and every day they had lived and breathed and they had been his. His parents.

He didn't want to assume, and he wasn't a great elf with the gift of foresight like Lord Elrond from Bilbo's stories, but he knew himself and he was fairly certain he wouldn't have any semblance of a clear head during the actual ceremony, so he figured that if he were to "say goodbye" or anything of the sort, he had better do it now. Frodo opened his mouth to whisper something, but his eyes filled with tears, and he found himself clamping his mouth shut to trap a sob from escaping. Saying goodbye would have to be goodbye forever, and he couldn't do it. It just wasn't fair. Milo could say goodbye to Uncle Rufus and Aunt Asphodel and it wouldn't be goodbye forever, it would be "goodbye until I see you later". How anyone could be expected to say "goodbye, I'll never see you again" to their own mummy and daddy escaped him. Was it really forever? Frodo didn't know. There were so many things Frodo knew he didn't know, and he didn't know where to start. "I love you," he choked out. "I love you." He repeated it aloud until his voice broke. He couldn't beg them not to go, because they were already gone. He couldn't ask them what to do, because they wouldn't answer. But he could tell them he loved them, because he knew they loved him back. He knew they loved him back.

"Frodo-lad!" Aunt Menegilda's surprised voice shrieked. She hadn't seen him when she walked in with the clothes Drogo and Primula were to wear. He lifted his tear-stained face, surprised as well, as he hadn't heard her come in. Frodo didn't realize he had been crying, but he was immediately embarrassed and turned his head away. "Come now, let's get you ready..." Menegilda muttered several other things, but Frodo wasn't listening. He felt her pull his quivering hand out of Dad's cold, limp one and into her warm, sweaty one. He was deposited outside and the door was closed behind him.

Drogo and Primula were to be buried on a hill under a tree. The family had picnicked there once or twice before, and it was as good a spot as any. Frodo took notice of the forget-me-nots growing there as the procession made its way to the plot and looked away before too many thoughts invaded his brain. It was simpler if he focused on one thing and distracted himself. The sky was clear save for a few wispy clouds, so Frodo focused on those. Cousin Esmeralda noticed him staring at them and nudged him. Frodo flinched and hesitantly met her eyes, afraid she would scold him, but she understood what he was trying to do and whispered, "What do you think that one looks like?" She discreetly pointed at the closest cloud. Frodo hadn't thought about it looking like anything and wasn't much in the mood for speculation, especially not when cloud-gazing was an activity he had enjoyed with his parents.

"I don't know." He shrugged and looked away. Hearing Esmeralda's sigh, he felt guilty and had to say something. "A rabbit?" Both of them were aware the cloud looked nothing like a rabbit, but the conversation was clearly over. "Where's Uncle Bilbo?" Frodo asked, glancing around the sea of somber faces marching up the hill. Esmeralda perked up at the opportunity to help the poor lad in some way, but then grimaced as she realized the answer she had to deliver wasn't what he wanted to hear. "I'm afraid I didn't see him arrive. Why don't we look for him during the reception?" She figured he wouldn't feel like eating anyway after burying his parents. Frodo didn't answer her, but kept walking. When the plot had been reached, the gentlehobbits carrying the caskets went about placing them in the holes which had already been dug. They seemed like enormous pits to Frodo, and he didn't want to watch any longer. He turned his head and began to fumble with the excess handkerchiefs which had been stuffed in his pockets by one of his aunts, he wasn't even sure which one.

Some gentlehobbit he had never seen before went up in front of the crowd gathered and began to speak. "Drogo and Primula were a much loved couple of outstanding hobbits that left a mark on Buckland society and all of our hearts." Frodo wondered if this speaker had ever actually met his parents. "We can all truly attest that whatever may happen to their souls, they will never leave our hearts." Here Frodo tuned him out for the rest of his speech and chose to listen to the birds' conversation. It was much more interesting anyway. Suddenly, he felt another nudge from Aunt Esmeralda. His head shot up as he observed everyone staring at him. His eyes went to the speaker, who had stopped speaking, and was now holding out a hand full of dirt in his direction.

Frodo's stomach hit the floor. He knew what this hobbit wanted him to do. It took another nudge from Esmeralda and the intensifying stares of all his relatives to get him to remember how to move his legs. One in front of the other, he finally made it to the gaping graves in front of him. "And now, Drogo and Primula, we commit thee to the earth," boomed the voice of the speaker. Not looking at him, he grasped a fistful of dirt and held it for a moment before relaxing his fingers and letting it tumble into his father's grave. He grabbed another fistful and moved to his mother's, dropping it in before his body began to shake. No one said anything, and for a moment Frodo was afraid that he had missed the graves completely and dropped the dirt in the wrong place, but he heard the footsteps of other nameless gentlehobbits approaching with their shovels and finishing the job Frodo had started. He stood there, frozen to the ground, before someone placed two forget-me-nots in his right hand and he realized time had passed and the hobbits with shovels were done and he had just been given another job to do. He turned around, trying to discover who had given him the flowers and realized that everyone gathered there was holding a bunch of the little blue buds. The sea of blue began to blur as tears gathered in Frodo's eyes and he whipped around again to avoid crying. He knelt in between those two patches of earth that concealed the most important people in the world, not realizing how difficult it was going to be to get up again, and delicately placed a flower at the heads of each, horizontally, right where their eyes would be. Eyes as blue as forget-me-nots.

Time passed unheeded, and others laid their flowers on the graves and walked away, but Frodo was not aware of it. The rest of the world faded away, even Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her unnecessarily loud sobbing. He felt the wind on his face and pretended it was his mother's hand. Even the birds to Frodo became silent and he spoke into the void, "I'll be back. Soon." He let Uncle Saradoc pick him up and carry him away on his back, face still turned towards the hill, and the tree, and his parents. He let himself be dragged away as he looked back, tears streaking down his face.

A/N: In the A/N for the previous chapter I mentioned that writing this was difficult because it forced me into a place where I had to remember and sometimes re-live the parts if my life where my heart was in a dark place. How much truer is that now, with an even more heartbreaking death in the family? I will do my best to channel this into a well-written story for you guys. Thank you for your patience and for being here! Please, please comment and ask questions, it means the world to me.

REVIEWS: Frodo's sister, the first time I read your review on Chapter 2, I jumped out of my chair thinking, 'yes! Someone gets it! It made sense why I built Frodo's thoughts that way'. And when i reread it I nodded again because it makes even more sense now that I've been in his shoes to an extent. This review is very important to me, so thank you again for it.

NEXT CHAPTER: The Brandybucks must face the reality of having an invalid among them, and that invalid must face his own condition.

Thanks again, and stay tuned for more! -TFF