The Fellowship of Sarah

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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:29 pm

FIFTEEN

We met her at the back door. She had the oven on, and a couple of pots heating. She was her usual ‘I’m in charge here’ self as she stepped back to let us in. We looked around and didn’t see Sarah.

“Where is she?”
“Upstairs. It’s too dangerous for her to come down on her own, and it would humiliate her to be carried.” We were in shock.
“How did you get her to trust you?” Jean was upset. “How could you leave her alone? I’m going up to see her.”
Rose grabbed her sleeve.
“I wouldn’t right now. She’s fine. I’m getting her some dinner and when it’s ready, we can all go up together. In the meantime, we need to talk.”

We all grabbed cups and sat down with coffee from the Perry coffeemaker. I didn’t realize it at first but I was staring at my left hand, running the index finger from my right crisscross over the palm, remembering that firm kick to it. Rose was watching me. I sensed it and looked up.

“I know who the Hobbit is.” Rose raised her brows as if in surprise, but I don’t think she was.
“Oh?”
“She’s the mother of Frodo. Is that true?” Rose let out a deep sigh.
“Yes. She is. And she’s about three weeks from her due date – give or take. She’s healthy, the baby’s active, and as far as I can tell, she’s not having any problems.” Jean was puzzled by something.

“But if she’s carrying Frodo – it’s December. His birthday is September 22cd.” Rose gave her a knowing look.
“That’s right.” But something in the way she said it made Jean’s mouth shut like a trap. I waited to see what would happen. Nothing did, so I asked point blank what was haunting me.

“Where’s Sarah, Aunt Rose?” Rose took a sip and looked me right in the eye.
“I don’t know.” And like with Jean, I didn’t press it. For some reason I couldn’t find the will to. Rose folded her hands, and her piercing eyes stared into ours.
“Now…how did this happen?”

We told her the whole story, starting from when we got to Peking Cuisine. Jean did most of the telling, since she could do it faster and not be as wordy. Rose listened without comment until she was through, her face thoughtful.
“You’ve probably been wondering why Sarah’s wish came true and neither one of yours did.”
“Well, yeah, we have.”

“It was in the nature of the wish. You can’t make a wish for another person, like you did (meaning me), and you can’t wish away a habit, like you, (meaning Jean.) Sarah’s wish was pure. She wanted to be a Hobbit because she loves them, so it was granted. But wishing is always treacherous. There are many paths to fulfillment. You can’t choose which path, only state the desire. And, MOST importantly, there are always other forces at work, looking for an opportunity to bring about what they want. If they spy it, they can latch onto the sincere wish, tainting it. That’s why it’s said, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. One thing in our favor, is that I do know that we can return Primula to her time. And it’s vital that we do.”

“How? How can you know?” She placed a firm hand over mine.
“When the time comes, I’ll show you.”
“And Sarah?”

Rose took took away her hand, took another deep sip from her cup...and didn't say another word.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:27 pm

SIXTEEN

As soon as everything was ready, the three of us carried the food upstairs. The Hobbit had been lying on Sarah’s bed, and when the door opened, she sat up – slowly – and smiled at Rose. For Jean and me, she had a look of deep contempt in her eyes. If Sarah was in that face, I couldn’t see her.

She’d been bathed, and was dressed in a plain white shift, long-sleeved and that came to the tops of her toes when she stood. Over it she wore a heavier gown of fall colors, softly trimmed with velvet, gathered and tied under her bosom, with a belt of the same cloth. Her honey hair was swept back with combs, exposing the leaf-shaped ears. She was unsteady on her feet, placing one protective hand over her precious cargo as she held onto the furniture with the other. On the floor, was the open cherry wood box. It was empty.

“Mistress, this is my niece Karen and her friend Jean.” I owed her an apology. It was my fault that I touched her and made her afraid.
“I’m sorry I scared you – ah, Mistress. I didn’t mean to.” The contempt softened.
“Rose tells me that you are interested in becoming a midwife.” The lilting voice was kind.
“Yes, I am. My curiosity got the better of me and…I’m sorry.” She had such a sweet smile.
“Well, the wee one’s awake. Come here, now.”

She reached over and took both my hands. She placed my right above and my left below her navel. He was awake. Frodo glided beneath my hands as smoothly as a seal in the deep. I met Primula’s delighted look with one of my own. There was a lump in my throat as I thanked her. She asked Jean if she would like to feel the baby. She looked as though she didn’t at first, but the little woman took her hands and arranged them as she had mine. A look of wonder came over her face, and she started to cry. Primula smiled, thinking that Jean was just overwhelmed by the sheer miracle of it all. But it was more than that, and soon I would know what it was, but only me.

There was no conversation during the meal. When she finished, the three of us gathered up the plates and took them back to the kitchen. Rose filled her coffee cup and headed back up the stairs. “She’ll probably want to sleep now. I’m just going to see if there’s anything else I can do.” I started rinsing the dishes.
“We’re fine. Jean and I can take care of down here.” She smiled thanks and went back to Primula.

Jean hadn’t said a word since the comment on Frodo’s birthday. We worked side by side with the cleaning up. I could feel something coming from her – raw energy, wave upon wave of emotion. I tried to start a conversation, but she wouldn’t pick up. Then she stopped and sat down at the table. She wasn’t crying now, at least not on the outside. I was uncomfortable because I’ve never seen her like this. I didn’t know what to do other than to just wait her out and see what she’d say. I slowed down but kept on cleaning. That’s when I heard her over my shoulder.

“I can’t let it happen again. No matter what, it can’t happen again.”
Last edited by shireling on Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:21 pm

(intermission)...:D
Last edited by shireling on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:41 pm

SEVENTEEN

I turned around. She was looking out the window, but as late as it was there was nothing to see but yourself and the room reflected in the glass. I reached out and touched her shoulder. She flinched, as if my being there was a surprise.

“Let what happen?” I said. “What are you talking about.” Her voice sounded hollow.
“Frodo…I can’t tell you, Karen. If I do, it’ll spoil ‘The Return of the King’ for you and I don’t want to do that.” My jaw hit the floor.

“Would you mind repeating that, I’m a little deaf in this ear! After everything we’ve been through today, do you know how that sounds? What can’t happen?” She hesitated. I took her face in my hands, making her look at me. “Screw the movie! What can’t you let happen!”

And she told me everything, everything that still lay ahead for Frodo. Long before she finished, she was sobbing.

“I want to keep her, Karen. Keep her here. I want to take care of her. She can stay and have the baby. He’ll be a citizen, and they'll-they’ll both be accepted - as little people. We can always be here for them. I don’t…I don’t want him to go through all that. I can’t take his suffering. I’ve always wanted to save him from it, and now’s my chance.” Here was another side of Jean that I hadn’t known before.
“I never knew you felt this way. I knew you’ve always loved the books, but...this other.”

“I always have, since day one. But what would have been the point of talking about it? It’s not a real place, there are no such things as Hobbits. There never was a Dark Lord or a Ring – it’s just a story. The first time I ever read the books I couldn’t finish them, things got so bleak. The friend who told me about them in the first place said I had to. I needed to finish what I started, she said, just like Frodo. When I said, ‘It doesn’t matter it’s only a story,’ she said, ‘Then you should be able to finish it'." Jean looked down at her upturned hands, a bitter smile on her lips.
“That was Sarah. ‘Always finish what you start’...”

My knees gave way, and I sat down. I reached for her hand, but she pulled away. I knew what I had to say; it was just that I was afraid to say it.

“You know better than anybody else that she’s got to go back. If she doesn’t, then, that’s the end of MiddleEarth. We owe it to everybody that’ll be enslaved by Sauron, to fix this. We owe it to Sarah, to try to bring her back.” I was afraid of sounding unkind. I knew Jean knew better; I just think she needed to hear it. But, by then I was crying too, and I hated it.

“You’re saying you can’t take it. But it’s not about you or me or any of us, it never was. If Frodo isn’t born where he needs to be, Bilbo will still have the Ring. He’ll just adopt somebody else. And it’ll be his second choice, somebody who doesn’t have the strengths, or the smarts – or may not even try at all. And what kind of life can we give them here anyway? Can you imagine? The two of them – behind the registers at It's All A Dollar? Or on display at the county fair? This has already been lived, Jean. It’s all been written out. It’s history.”

I was such a liar. I felt exactly the same. I thought of that tiny boy child, safe and unafraid in his mother’s womb, and my heart ached. But, it couldn’t be undone.

“We can’t change it.” She nodded, and softly set about wiping her eyes and nose on her sleeve.
“I know.”


A few minutes later, Rose came into the room. She stopped when she saw us. We were both sitting at the table, looking like we’d lost our best friend. She sat down in the chair between us, and for a few minutes nobody said a thing. Slowly I started to feel better. Something inside was speaking to me – don’t ask me to explain, because I can’t. All I know is that I felt less sad and more hopeful, and I could see Jean did too. Rose looked at us both as though she knew what was going on. I had to believe she had something to do with it.

“Well, Sarah’s mother should be home soon and we’ll have much to do before daybreak.”

When she said that, my feelings, which were lifting, hit bottom. What did I care about daybreak? My friend’s mother had to be told that her daughter had metamorphosed into a Hobbit, and a pregnant one at that, who just happens to be carrying the savior of Middle-Earth. At this point I was willing to give up Chinese food altogether, if I thought it would help. Jean sounded heartbroken.

“What are we going to tell Sarah’s mom?”

Rose reached over and took Jean’s hand. I knew they were warm and comforting, and doing for her what they’ve always done for countless women in Rose’s care. I could see the tension drain from her face and shoulders. Seeing my other best friend at ease, eased my heart, too. She let go of Jean’s hand with one and took mine with the other. She leaned toward us.

“I have a tale to tell you that you do not know. It began long ago, when MiddleEarth was young...”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:11 am

EIGHTEEN

“…and the foundation of the Grey Havens had just been laid, and the greatest of the Men of the First Age had just reached Numenor. Aragorn would descend from them, and Sauron, who from the beginning had never ceased being a source of concern, saw with fear the growing power of Men. He made a stronghold of Mordor, and began building the Dark Tower. He tried to win over the Eldar – the Wise. The great Elven King, Gil-galad was not deceived but the Elven-smiths of Eregion were, and under Sauron’s instruction, began forging the Rings of Power...

In all they made nineteen – three for the Elves, seven for the Dwarves and nine for the Kings of Men. Then Sauron made the One, and with it, could control the others...”

“The Elves hid the three and the Dwarves were not drawn into the terrible wars of that Age, but the Nine fell under the control of the Dark Lord, and became slaves to the One. There were terrible things done that I won’t tell you, mainly because it is more than you need to understand…”

She bit her lower lip, and trembled. For the first time in my life, I saw Rose upset.

“When the Last Alliance was formed, the Elves of Gil-galad and the Men of Elendil went on the march. They fought Sauron for the next eight years. Both Gil-galad and Elendil died in battle, but Elendil’s son, Isildur, cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand and took it for his own…” *

“Aunt Rose, this is very interesting… ”
“I was there. I was there. I was born in Imladris, and grew up in Rivendell.” She looked down at her cup and wouldn’t raise her eyes. “Not all of us – I’m ashamed to say – sided with the Alliance. A handful took up the cause of Sauron.” Jean found her voice.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute…you’re an Elf? You’re thousands of years old?”
“I am.” I was with Jean on this one.
“You can’t be!” Rose raised her right index finger to the ceiling, right under Sarah’s room.
“Why? Because it's all a myth?”
“No, because you're...you're my Aunt Rose…I-I know you.”

I knew how stupid that sounded. Why is it that I can’t ever know that until I’ve already opened my mouth?

“All I know is the movies, and I just figured that…Well, what about your ears? Your ears aren’t pointy.” Rose’s voice took on a low, suitably patronizing tone.
“If you’ll sit still now and be quiet, I will try to explain.” I could feel my face getting redder by the minute. I resolved to keep my mouth shut for the duration. “A few of us sided with Sauron…” Jean was shaking her head.

“Why would you do that?”
“Because I listened, and he convinced me of his truth. I’m ashamed to say that I was of those deceived and realized too late. When he was overthrown, those of us left alive were brought before the White Council for treason. Because it was I who convinced the others to join with the Dark Lord, I alone was held responsible. To their credit, those with me protested, but the sentence was passed and I was banished to the world of Men. One of those who pleaded for me was allowed to accompany me in exile, and the two of us have lingered here. As to my appearance, I was given it as a mercy from the Wise, so that I could move more freely among humankind.” I broke my resolve.

“Why the tattoo?” A look of pain swept her face.
“It’s a brand, a part of my sentence. It marks me as a traitor.”

So. She was ashamed of it. I didn’t know. I always thought it was so beautiful. I was even going to ask her about having it done myself. The next thing Rose said made me blush. “I’ve lied for years about myself to survive. But of all those I claimed, I’ve come to love you more than any. I couldn’t have asked for better to be my kin.” Jean looked like she was in an incredible dream that she was afraid she might wake up from.

“So you can’t ever go back?”
“I didn’t think it possible that I ever would. But something has happened that I thought could never be. My companion and I were told that our term of trial would end when this came to pass.”

‘Near Yuletide, seek, and ye shall find
There among the Western kind -
The answer that will pay your fee,
End your loss and set you free.’

‘Chance upon the Halfling ship
Cast in the world of Man adrift.
May one aboard her ever reign,
As Shire’s hope and Sauron’s bane!’

‘In peace, invoke to ward off Death,
The sacred name of Elbereth.
And haste to home the promised birth,
That one to succor Middle-Earth.’+

“Primula!” Jean blurted out the name. I still didn’t get it.

“Primula is the ‘Halfling ship’ that appeared and is lost in our world. Rose stumbled onto her when we called her for help. The ‘one aboard’ is the Ringbearer.”
“You are a wonder, Jean. My companion and I are considered of being from among the Wise, and, yet, could not unravel its meaning for an age!”

I was noticing little changes in Rose as we sat there, mainly her speech, which was sounding more and more to me like – well, movie dialogue.

“But we did, back when the two of you were yet strangers to living. When we learned the meaning of the verse, we dedicated ourselves to those with child. For hundreds of years, we made ourselves useful to the women of this world, ever seeking the Ringbearer’s dam from among those in travail.” A car door slammed, and Rose stiffened, her eyes wide.

“Sarah’s mother is here.”


*Gleaned from the appendices to LOTR, found in THE RETURN OF THE KING.
+written by me
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:41 am

NINETEEN

Rose got up from the table and went to the door, opening it before Mrs. Perry could use her key. To our surprise, they greeted each other like very old friends, speaking in a language that neither of us understood. Mrs. Perry smiled warmly at the two of us. Rose put a loving arm around her shoulders.

“Jean, Karen – please meet my friend and fellow-exile for all these many years. This is Mellona. And I am Rosileth. We have not spoken these names since the beginning of our exile.” I was just sitting there with my mouth open, but Jean knew what mattered. She was not happy, and her voice shook.

“I’m glad that you had each other to turn to all this time! But our friend is still missing and no one seems to know or care where she is! We were left to worry what to say to her mother, only to find out that ‘she’ already knew everything! Now, will you please tell us what happened to Sarah!”

The Elves, at least, had the decency to blush. Mellona went to Jean and before she could move, touched her forehead. Jean quickly calmed down, and I tried to do the same – not wanting to have the same done to me - just in case it wasn’t good. Mellona tried to explain.

“We constantly commune with one another, so I know everything that you have experienced since last evening. Sarah is Primula Baggins and always was.” I couldn’t accept this.

“She’s been our friend for years! I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t know her! I – I can’t believe this.” That earned a ‘ditto’ from Jean.
“By some strange chance,” said ‘Aunt Rose’, “the Halfling has always been in our midst. We were made to search everywhere, but not those nearest to us. Until the sleeper within Sarah awoke and became her true self, we did not know she had been so close.” Jean tapped my arm.

“Karen, you remember all the times she would talk about Hobbits, wanting to be one and frustrated because she wasn’t?”
“I can’t forget it. She was always going on about the books. And once the movies came out, she was like somebody obsessed.” I decided not to share what she said about Elves. “But if you’re her mother, then how…?”

“I wanted a family,” said Mellona. “I wanted to make a life here, if I could never return home. I met and fell in love with many men, but could not give them children. I could never stay long with any one man, for I age so slowly. Then one day, I assisted in the birth of a baby girl whose own mother denied her. She was so ill that she stayed in the nursery for many weeks, and I fell in love with her. I was granted the right to make her my own, never dreaming that she was the very one I sought. You haven’t lost your friend. Primula has found her reality.” I wasn’t satisfied.

“But we HAVE lost our friend! The Sarah we knew is gone!”
“Yes, she is. I know it is hard to accept that she never really existed. Your friendship was with a shadow. She is and always was Primula, from the moment of her coming into being. And you’ll remember that I myself did not know that she was the Halfling. I believed her to be Sarah as well, the only daughter I would ever have. So, you see, I also have loss.” I knew I should have felt bad for her, but it was hard to drum up much sympathy.

“If the War of the Ring has already happened, then why is she here and why hasn’t Frodo been born on the day that we know IS his birthday?” You go, Jean!

“I don’t expect that you will understand this,” said Rosileth, “but Time is fluid. We think of it as something stable and dependable, but it’s always in motion. The past plays itself out over and over once it stops being the present.” We both looked at her like she was sprouting gardenias.

“I said you may not understand, but perhaps this will help. Primula was in danger from Sauron. He knew with foresight that in time, Hobbits would be responsible for his doom. When he learned of Primula, he did not know her precise link to his demise, but sought to kill her. It was the intervention of the Wise that hid her in the form of a human child. The sincerity of Sarah’s wish awakened the Halfling within, and now those works taking place in Sauron’s present, have him obsessed with finding the Ring. His attention is turned away, and we can return her to her rightful place. Apparently, our exile was necessary as well, to provide her with a safe haven and escort home.”

I still held out hope that something somebody said would make sense to me.

“But when this all started, didn’t she know what was happening? It didn’t sound like she knew who she was at all.”
“You know what it is to wake from a dream?” said Mellona. “Primula dreamed of being Sarah. That is how it was for her – a long, strange, and in some ways, terrifying dream that she’s finally awakened from. And, now, my dear Jean, as to the burning question of the date of Frodo’s birth: It is late August in the Shire, and his birth is mere weeks away…”

It was pointless to ask any more. The only thing that Jean and I were sure of was that Sarah, shadow or not, was gone. And she would not be coming back.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:21 pm

TWENTY

As if they were one, the Elves turned toward the kitchen window and gazed out at the sky. Night was nearly done, and without saying another word, they left us. They moved with such grace, that there was no sound, and we stayed put. I don’t know for how long we sat there. Then Jean started giggling.

“What’s so funny?”
“I was just thinking, what if Peter Jackson had been here and seen what we've seen?” I laughed.
“Oh God...”

We stopped. Upstairs we could hear Rosileth reciting the final lines of the Prophecy.

‘In peace, invoke to ward off Death,
The sacred name of Elbereth.
And haste to home the promised birth,
That one to succor Middle-Earth.’


Then it changed. We heard melodious chanting in three voices. It was the Invocation to Elbereth. It began soft and low, but grew stronger and more harmonious as it was sung over and over again. The air seemed heavy, pressing down on us. Jean and I crawled up the stairs to Sarah’s room, kneeling outside the door to listen.

‘O Elbereth! O Star ablaze!
From bless’ed Abha+ afar you gaze.
Now from Death’s shadow
I cry to thee!
O Everwhite, O look
Towards me!’*


They were leaving without saying goodbye, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to open the door. As the chanting grew, the walls shook and I felt like covering my ears but didn’t want to block out the beautiful song. Then, just as I thought I couldn’t bear anymore, Jean reached for the knob and pushed the door open. My eyes first fell on the green satin bag. It lay empty near the cherry wood box.

And, there, kneeling on the floor, were the two Elves, arrayed for battle. Their breast plates of yellow-green and their tall visors, gleamed as the first fingers of daylight came into the room, glancing off the slender sheaths that held their tempered blades. Skirts of silver mail lightly fanned the carpet, and long, raven tresses streamed from beneath their helms; their faces were as pale as marble, and bathed by an inner light. Between them, stood the Halfling, brave in rusts and golds, her eyes open, her cupped palms raised toward the sun.

They paid us no mind, but continued to chant. The pressure on my forehead and chest grew, and I found it impossible to stay upon my knees. I wasn’t aware of Jean anymore, and I closed my eyes, lost in the brilliance of the light that filled the room and the beauty of those voices. Suddenly, it stopped. I looked up. The eyes of the Three were fixed on us, their faces filled hope and glory…and pity. They didn’t move from where they were, but, as I watched, I felt a kiss on my forehead, and the word ‘Namarie’ was in my ears...



+Paradise, from the Arabic and placed there for the sake of rhythm.
*from ‘The Choices of Master Samwise’ THE TWO TOWERS, from the original Elvish as quoted by Frodo Baggins, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien and rendered in verse by me.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:28 am

EPILOGUE

“Oh, it can’t be morning already…”
“Sweetheart, come on. Time to get up.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I know you don’t. I don’t either, but we’ve got a lot to do today and I’m going to need your help. Or would you rather be off to school.” A hollow threat, there was no school today, but my little brother leaped out of bed and almost fell into his clothes. “No, you don’t! You need a wash first. Now out with you!”

Dudo had only been living with me a few months. Our parents were elderly, Dudo being born late to them, and my mother was the better for the burden being off her. I hurried to get ready, but I didn’t need much time. Unlike most Hobbit women, I cut my hair and found it easier to live with, though it made me rather unpopular with the menfolk. Dudo rubbed his eyes and stumbled to the basin, trying to wash his face but doing a better job with the floor. Oh, well – he’s saved me the need to fill a bucket.

What a beautiful day it was turning out to be! For the past few years May Day had been rainy and cold, but this year it was warm and sunny. I kept the windows open and it seemed that the smell of every food being cooked that day had decided to come and hang their delicious hats in my home. All the spring flowers were decked out in their Sunday best, and it would be the first festival that my younger brother and sister-in-law would attend with their new baby. There was a knock at the door.

“Are you ready yet?”
“Almost. Come in, come in!” Gilly was all decked out for the holiday. Her auburn brown hair was loose on her shoulders and her white dress was trimmed with newborn daisies. Her eyes sparkled as she burst into the room.
“My, aren’t we excited? It wouldn’t be because of any gent in particular, would it?” I knew she was sweet on my cousin Posco, though I couldn’t see what all the excitement was about. Gilly blushed.

“Ah, maybe…Is there anything you need help with?”
“Nay, just a quick lick over the floor where Dudo washed up.” Gilly grabbed the mop.
“Here, let me. What are you bringing?”
“My mushroom and bacon dish that Bilbo’s so partial to.”
“Well, I hope you’ve made enough. The last time he took the dish and asked what the rest of us were having.”
“Oh don’t worry – I think I have plenty on hand this time. Dudo! We’re leaving! Hurry up!”
He ran to the door, all decked out in stripes and checks. I’ll just pretend I don’t know him.

We carried the dozen crocks of my ‘mushroom delight’ to the goat cart, and loaded up. It wasn’t far. We didn’t have a Party Tree here in Buckland as they do up in Hobbiton, but we do have a pleasant grove on the banks of the Brandywine. A little stone wall was built to keep the beer and wine from floating away as they chilled, and there was plenty of room between the trees for tables and dancing. Gilly offered to place the crocks out for me so I could visit family. She is always so thoughtful. I hope Posco appreciates her.

Quite of few of the Tooks had already arrived, and Dudo went off to play with some of his cousins. The Brandybucks, Baggins, Boffins and Bolgers were all accounted for. Not to mention the various Hornblowers, Bracegirdles, Grubbs, Cubbs and Proudfoots.

I could have stayed in Hobbiton, but I wanted to be near my sister-in-law, just in case she needed help. Primula herself was never very strong and having the baby took a great deal out of her. Even all these months later, she found herself feeling tired much of the time. Fortunately, my nephew’s a good baby and rarely fusses.

“Dora!”

My brother Drogo came toward me, his son and heir held high. But Primula came more slowly – I do wish Drogo would slow down and wait for her.
“Hullo, Drogo…Hullo, love!” I held out my arms and he handed me the baby. I nodded in Primula’s direction.
“You really should see to her.”
“Ah, she’s fine. You fuss too much, Dora.” Oh, how he annoys me!
“All the same, you should go and help her!”

Primula had stopped to lean against a tree. My brother is always infuriating cheerful, even when being reprimanded, and he started back, shouting to me over his shoulder.
“All right, Big Sis! I always aims to please.” I turned my attention to my favorite nephew.

“How’s my sweetheart? How is he?”

Frodo was busily sucking on his hand, his big eyes taking in everything around him. He has Primula’s looks, her hair as well as that charming chin dimple – bless us – and from Drogo, his appetite. I nuzzle his soft cheek and he giggles. And for an instant, I see something…something old and beautiful in the baby’s sweet face, and it pains me. It’s brief, as I’ve said, but it was there, and it faded slowly from my heart.

“Oh, Frodo loves his Aunt Dora!”

Primula, on Drogo’s arm, had finally reached the comfy chair I’d placed in the shade. She was only too happy to sit down, Drogo excusing himself as he went off for a pint. I offered her the baby, but she signed that I could hold him if I wished. I didn’t protest.

“And Aunt Dora loves him. By the way, Primmy, how did you come by the name ‘Frodo’? I’ve been wantin' to ask.”
She leaned back with a sigh, her cheeks still pink from her walk. “I just liked how it sounded. Besides, it was the only boy’s name we could agree on. Drogo didn’t like my choice for a girl name at all, not that he had one in mind.”
“Oh, what was it?”
“‘Sarah’.”

I’d never heard it before. “Is it Elvish?”
“No, at least I don’t think so. I had a strange dream a few weeks before Frodo was born. I don’t remember very much about it – it’s all a muddle – but I do remember this name. Well, I would have chosen ‘Sarah’, no matter what Drogo thought. I think it’s pretty.”
“Aye, it is.” Frodo took his hand from his mouth and reached for his mother. I started to hand him to her, but she stopped me.
“No. Set him down and watch what he does.”

I tried to sit him on the ground but he stiffened his legs, planting his feet in the grass. He grabbed both of my thumbs, and the baby started an unsteady journey to his mother’s arms, his face one big smile. Primula held out her arms, her emerald eyes aglow.

“That’s it! Come here, Frodo! Come to Mummy! That’s my boy…”


The Beginning
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'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
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