Written for the B2MeM Bingo Prompts ‘Eligible Bachelor Baggins arrives in Tol Eressëa’ and ‘Crossover with another author's fanfic’. This story takes place before the Fellowship reunion at the Rivendell Enchantment Resort.
'He needs something to keep him occupied,' Bilbo said to Gandalf. 'The lad is too hard on himself, thinks he failed. Nonsense, of course, but he'll keep dwelling on it, if he doesn't have a distraction.'
Hobbit and wizard contemplated Frodo, who stood on the balcony of the sitting room in the apartment he and Bilbo shared in Avallonë, gazing east across the white city to the wide harbour and beyond. His face was pale and set, as if enduring a necessary exile, not radiant with the joy that might have been expected of one who had just arrived in the West.
'You are wise as ever, my dear friend,' Gandalf replied as he selected another honey-cake from the tea tray on the table between them. 'I'll give the matter some thought.'
'Goats,' said the old hobbit sagely. 'I've already given it thought, Gandalf, and I think goats will answer nicely.'
'Goats?' Gandalf had just swallowed a bite of the sweet rich cake and choked on a crumb.
'You know, those ornery creatures that bleat and like to butt people with their heads.'
'I know very well what goats are. I'm only surprised at the suggestion.'
'Well, it will give him someone to care for besides me. I'm old, but not a dotard yet, and he will persist in wrapping blankets around me and making me possets. Detestable things, possets,' Bilbo said, and made a face. 'And keeping goats will get him outside in the fresh air, bring the roses back to his cheeks, don't you know. Goat's milk is very nourishing, too, and he can use some of it to make cheese. He's very fond of cheese.'
Gandalf smiled with amusement. 'I see you have it all planned out, Bilbo.'
'I'd be content to stay and live here in Avallonë, with a small set of rooms, but it won't do for Frodo,' said Bilbo. 'I'm sure the Elves won't mind building a nice little hole for us, overlooking the sea, with a bit of garden for Frodo to potter around in and keep ready for Samwise when he arrives.'
'Ah, I see you know about Samwise.'
Bilbo raised an eyebrow. 'I may be old, but I am not senile.'
'I never said you were. But they were so careful to keep their feelings secret from each other that Sam was married to Rose Cotton before I could lift a finger to stop it.' Gandalf sighed. 'I vowed not to meddle anymore after Aragorn was crowned, but if I'd realised how badly Frodo and Sam would bungle the matter, I should have interfered and arranged for them to marry before they ever returned to the Shire.'
Bilbo patted the wizard's arm consolingly. 'Now, now you mustn't blame yourself, Gandalf. More tea?' He reached for the teapot, intending to pour them both another cup, but he was forestalled.
'Bilbo dear, wouldn't you rather have a nice posset?' Frodo said, hurrying over. 'I'll just nip off to the kitchen and make you one. But first...' He picked up a blanket from a chair and shook it out. 'Really, you need to wrap up. The breeze coming off the water is damp. I don't want you catching a cold.' Frodo draped the blanket tenderly over Bilbo's shoulders. 'There!' He kissed the top of the hobbit's head. 'Now just you sit tight until I'm back with that posset.' He looked at Gandalf. 'Would you like one, Gandalf?'
'Thank you, but no, Frodo. I'm fine.'
'Hmm,' said Frodo. 'Well, I'll bring you one anyway, in case you change your mind.' And he bustled away.
'You see what I mean?' Bilbo said, and sighed.
'Goats,' Gandalf declared with feeling. 'Definitely goats. And the sooner the better!'