1. Since Spring
"You seem to find that fire absorbing," said Bilbo.
Frodo blinked and turned to Bilbo. "You know, I find that it's all different," he said. "Different from how I remember it."
"What? The hearth?"
"No," said Frodo, "the valley. Rivendell."
"I find that somewhat surprising." Bilbo settled deeper in his chair and pulled his shawl close. "It's all very much the same as when you left, right down to the uncivilized time of night: cold and dark and wintry."
"I suppose, but that isn't quite what I mean." Frodo rose from his chair and stepped to the cooler air by the window. He could see scattered, twinkling lights that blurred when his breath fogged the glass.
"For heavens' sake, Frodo, don't force me to pry it out of you," grumbled Bilbo. "You are hardly the tight-lipped youth you were, and I am far to old to waste time on such nonsense."
Frodo went to his uncle and settled on the floor by his knee as he had done when he was a boy. "I have no words to describe it."
Bilbo tugged his ear sharply.
"Ow!" Frodo pulled away. "What was that for?"
"'I have no words to describe it.' What sort of nonsense is that?" muttered Bilbo. "Since you seem so determined to act the child tonight, I'm treating you like one."
Frodo smiled at that and rubbed his ear. "Rivendell is different," he said. Bilbo made disparaging noises; Frodo ignored him, and then continued thoughtfully. "The trees smell like they have forgotten that spring will come after winter. Before, each stream had a song as fanciful as any elf could sing, but I don't hear them now."
"That is a sad thing to say, my dear boy."
"Is it?" Frodo asked, surprised. "I did not mean it that way."
Bilbo regarded him thoughtfully, his brow drawn as if reading a book of ancient elvish text. Frodo grasped Bilbo's hands, hiding his fingers in Bilbo's warm palms and stroking with his thumbs the papery dry knuckles freckled with age spots. Frodo knew the thief of Bilbo's youth.
"Only since spring," Bilbo said softly, "have I found real rest."
Frodo glanced at the windowpane still fogged with the mist of his breath. The fire snapped cheerily. Frodo laid his head in Bilbo's lap, his cheek soft on their clasped hands, and he closed his eyes.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.