8. The Light in your Eyes
Author notes: We're finally back at the funeral. This chapter takes places shortly after the prologue.
It was a sombre and chilly morning. The weather had changed rapidly. Where a week ago summer had put forth its fingers, now winter's forceful hands were sailing in. Slowly the mist cleared, as the sky opened and poured down all its content. But the darkness lingered, there was no light this morning. The only sounds that could be heard were the quiet sobbing of mourning hobbits and the sad sighing of the wind. Rain was dripping from the last leafs, like silent tears. The world itself seemed to mourn their loss.
Bilbo gently rubbed one of Frodo's cold hands. If the boy was aware of him, he did not show it, but stared blankly into the distance. He was shivering all over and Bilbo feared that not only the lad's hands were cold. It must be terrible for him to bury his parents.
Frodo's face was wet, but if from tears or from the rain no one could tell. He had calmed down again. The feeling of drowning had passed, although the dismal darkness was engulfing him still. But that he was accustomed to. Ever since he had seen his dead parents lying on the bed in Brandy Hall, he was devoured by shadow and not a single beam of light got through to him. His life was a constant alternation of sadness and fear, especially the fear of water. Even Esmeralda had not succeeded in bathing him. He would have screamed and lashed about in desperation, weeping bitter tears of anxiety. All she could do was wash him with a wet towel and a bit of soap.
Bilbo sighed, when suddenly he felt Frodo squeezing his hand. He looked down at the child, who was watching him with sad eyes. He remembered Frodo's eyes: blue as the sea, sparkling as the sun, filled with a happiness that would have made the saddest person smile. Now they had changed. They were still blue, but no longer filled with light and happiness. The colour had darkened and the light twinkles of joy and cheerfulness had turned into dark pools of grief, pain and an unbearable sadness. Bilbo's heart bled when he thought about the carefree lad, running around in Bag End, asking one question after the other.
Frodo drew back his hand jerkily, looking sulkily at his uncle, who had slapped his fingers. "Wait until they've cooled. You'll only burn yourself if you eat them now," Bilbo told him, as he pushed the griddle with the fresh-baked biscuits further back.
Frodo got himself a chair, placed it in front of the cooker and leaned over the cookies breathing in their tasty smell. "Just a small one," he begged, looking pleadingly at the old hobbit.
Bilbo chuckled. "Well, a small one won't do any harm. But you've got to be careful. They're still very hot."
Frodo grinned, his eyes sparkling and, taking away the biggest cookie, he jumped from the chair. Bilbo shook his head and smiled.
He followed Frodo into the garden, took a seat on the bench and filled his pipe. Thoughtfully he observed Frodo, who was sitting on top of a sand hill, digging his fingers into the mud, forming strange figures and humming delightedly to himself as he did so.
The sun was setting, plunging the sky into a bright red. Frodo's dark form emerged from the evening light. Bilbo called for him, telling the lad to get cleaned and then come into the kitchen to have some supper. Frodo immediately did as he was bidden, while Bilbo headed for the kitchen to get dinner ready.
Their meal was soon finished and Frodo helped his uncle with the dishes. Afterwards the two of them sat in the living room. It was not long before Frodo asked for a story. To fulfil this desire, was a pleasure for Bilbo. He lit his pipe and leaned back in his seat. Frodo, sitting on the floor beside the fireside, watched him expectantly. "It was one morning long ago," he began. "I sat beside the door of Bag End, smoking a pipe, when Gandalf came by. Although I didn't know him at first, I greeted him."
"Was he very angry, when you didn't recognise him?" Frodo wanted to know.
Bilbo chuckled. "I don't think so. And if he was, he didn't show it. Anyway, when I finally found out who he was (and after he had said much about me, the grandson of the Old Took, not knowing him from the beginning) he had already come up with the idea of an adventure." Bilbo underlined the last word as if it was the most unbelievable thing to happen. Frodo grinned, knowing all too well of his uncle's liking for adventures. "You need to know, my lad that I wasn't so fond of adventures back then. You know, we Bagginses were considered respectable. We never had any adventures or did anything unexpected."
"But now they do!" Frodo laughed. "Or at least you did so, when Gandalf came back the next day."
"Indeed!" Bilbo smiled. "And that was very unlike me. All these dwarves had made me quite confused. Thirteen of them were just enough for one poor hobbit like me."
"Thirteen?" Frodo's eyes grew wide. "Did you have enough chairs for all of them? There's no room in Bag End for thirteen dwarves, is there?"
Bilbo chuckled, tousling the boy's hair. "There was room for all of them and for Gandalf, who came with the last troop."
Frodo's eyes grew even wider, sparkling with wonder. "Did Gandalf show any magic tricks? I'm sure he must've bewitched Bag End, otherwise the dwarves would never have had enough room."
Bilbo laughed out loud. "My dear boy, you're underrating the spaciousness of Bag End. There is enough room for thirteen dwarves and I think there would be even enough for twenty or more dwarves."
Frodo looked around as if he wanted to satisfy himself that Bilbo was right. Finally convinced he turned his attention back to the old hobbit. "But what about Gandalf? Did he show any magic tricks?"
"Nothing very magical except blowing smoke rings and "
"Smoke rings?" Frodo interrupted.
"Yes," Bilbo laughed, puffing his pipe and creating a smoke ring of his own. "Smoke rings."
Frodo watched the smoke ring with delight, as it rose above his head and faded before it could touch anything in the chamber. His eyes reflected the dazzling flames of the crackling fire."Will you show me how to blow smoke rings when I'm older?" the child wanted to know.
"Of course," Bilbo assured, ruffling the dark curls of his nephew.
Grinning broadly Frodo looked at him with shining eyes. "Do you think I'll see Gandalf one day?"
Bilbo thought for a moment, before answering. "You're very fond of Gandalf, aren't you?"
Frodo nodded. "Of Gandalf, and of Elves and Dwarves and " he made a gesture as if he wanted to show his uncle the whole world. " and of adventures." He sighed, his eyes shimmering dreamily.
"Adventures, eh?" Bilbo said, raising an eyebrow. "I don't know what we'll do about that but, as for Gandalf, I think you'll see him sooner or later."
The two of them kept talking late into the night. The fire cast long dancing shadows on the wall. The eyes of the child glistened with curiosity, as he kept interrupting Bilbo, who didn't get very far with his story. As someone knocked at the front door, Frodo ran to open it. His parents greeted him delightedly and he jumped into their arms bursting into a bubble of words. "He baked biscuits and told me a story and oh, mama, it was wonderful!" Frodo's eyes sparkled, as if they wished to outdo all the stars in the night sky. He smiled contently, as he leaned his head against his mother's shoulder.
The image disappeared. The shimmering eyes faded. There he sat, his eyes still veiled by a shadow of agony. Frodo, who once had been as happy a child as one could wish. Bilbo felt tears stinging in his eyes and, twinkling them away he laid an arm about the little one and pulled him closely. A soft whimper escaped the boy's lips. Bilbo closed his eyes. It should not be that a child so joyous as he had been should suffer so much. He would do everything to see those sea-blue eyes sparkle with happiness again.
Frodo buried his face in the old hobbit's cloak to avoid seeing the Master of Buckland throwing a shovel of soil into a hole in the ground where his parents now lay. He swallowed the tears that were welling up inside him. Instead he concentrated on the chilliness of his body. He was soaked through and terribly cold and he felt very tired.
Bilbo seemed to recognise, for suddenly he said: "Come, my lad, let's get back home and warm ourselves up. You should not become ill again."
He nodded weakly and got to his feet. Rory patted him on the back as he passed them by and Frodo could hear him telling Bilbo that they would meet afterwards. He had no idea for what reason and looked questioningly at Bilbo, but the older hobbit would say nothing.
Taking Frodo's hand, Bilbo watched the boy sadly. It would be a terrible loss for the world if those eyes would not regain their cheerfulness. He desperately wanted Frodo to smile again and he would try everything to give him back his carefreeness as soon as he had talked with Rory.
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.