One Golden Summer Day by Lbilover

Originally written for an LJ friend's birthday and inspired by the accompanying painting of Frodo and Elanor by Ted Naismith.

frodo and elanor by naismith
frodo and elanor by naismith

A commotion in Bag End was an unusual occurrence, even with a baby in residence, for Elanor was as sweet-tempered and sunny-natured as her father and rarely cried. But she was crying now, and loudly - so loudly that Frodo found it impossible to concentrate on his writing.

It was not annoyance, however, but concern that drove him from the study to see what was wrong. He discovered Sam pacing back and forth in the kitchen with a seemingly inconsolable Elanor in his arms. Her face was scarlet and screwed up tight, and silver tears ran down her cheeks.

‘My dear Sam, whatever is the matter?’ Frodo asked in alarm.

‘Oh Mr. Frodo, there we’ve gone and disturbed you. I’m that sorry.’ Sam’s already frazzled expression grew even more so.

‘Nonsense. Tell me what’s wrong and what I can do to help. Where is Rosie?’

‘Lying down in the bedroom,’ replied Sam worriedly. ‘She’s got the headache something fierce, and I ought to be tending to her, but I think Elanor might be cutting a tooth and I can’t get her to settle nohow.’

‘You should have called me, Sam,’ Frodo said.

‘I didn’t like to disturb you.’

Frodo refrained from pointing out the obvious: that he’d been disturbed anyway. He rarely took a commanding tone with Sam these days, but he could foresee endless argument if he didn’t. ‘Give me Elanor, if you please,’ he said firmly, and held out his arms.

Looking as if he wanted to argue but didn’t dare, Sam handed over his daughter.

‘Now go to Rosie.’ Sam hesitated, and Frodo added gently, ‘She needs you, Sam, and I know better than anyone what magic your hands can work on a headache.’

‘Mr. Frodo...’

‘Go on, Sam. I promise you, I’ll be fine.’

‘Bless you, sir,’ Sam said, giving Frodo a grateful look, and fled.

Left alone with the squalling baby, Frodo was nonplussed. Easy enough to tell Sam that he’d be fine, but it had been many years since he’d had to deal with such a situation - not, in fact, since Pippin had been a babe. Not that he hadn’t spent time with Elanor, but never without one or the other of her parents there, too.

Her plump body was hot and damp against his shirt front; her hiccoughing sobs between pitiful wails rent his heart. Frodo jounced Elanor gently and said, ‘Hush, poppet, hush now,’ but though his Aunt Eglantine had always claimed that he had a magic touch with children, Elanor showed no inclination to stop crying. He could only imagine how her crying must be exacerbating Rosie’s misery and Sam’s anxiety, so he decided to take her out-of-doors and out of earshot.

It was another of the seemingly endless succession of golden summer days with which the Shire had been blessed, and that touched Frodo’s heart with such a bittersweet mix of joy and sorrow. Joy for the healing of the wounds inflicted during the Troubles, and sorrow at the knowledge that his own wounds could not be so easily healed... and what that meant.

But at the moment he had more immediate concerns: the unhappy babe in his arms. Talking soothingly to Elanor all the while, Frodo crossed the garden and went down into the Party Field. His breath caught, as it always did, at sight of the mallorn, already a splendid, sturdy tree that might have been growing in that spot for twenty years, not a matter of months.

He carried Elanor into the shade of its overspreading golden boughs and sat with his back against the smooth grey bark. Drawing up his knees, he laid Elanor carefully against them, so that he was looking down into her tear-streaked face.

‘You poor sweet lass,’ he said. ‘I wish I knew how to ease your pain.’

Elanor flung out a chubby hand, and Frodo let her grasp two of his fingers. That gave him an idea; reaching inside his shirt with his other hand, he took out the star-gem on its silver chain and drew it over his head. It was such a comfort to him in his moments of pain and darkness, perhaps, he thought, it might help another?

He transferred Elanor’s grip from his hand to the beautiful white gem that Arwen had given him. As babies that age did when teething, she immediately put her fist, and the gem, to her mouth. The effect was immediate and startling: Elanor’s eyes, the same gold-flecked green as her father’s, grew almost comically wide with astonishment. The wail that had been building inside her died. She kicked her legs against Frodo’s stomach and gurgled contentedly.

‘Well,’ said Frodo humorously, pulling a handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket, ‘that was an eye-opener and no mistake, as your father might say.’ Elanor kicked her legs again, and Frodo smiled and dried her tears. ‘I hope the Queen won’t mind her gift being used as a teething ring for a hobbit-babe,’ he added, but somehow he felt certain that she would not.

As Frodo tucked away the now-damp linen, Elanor yawned and her eyes blinked sleepily. ‘Poor babe, you’re tired out from all that crying, aren’t you? Sleep then,’ he said, and began to sing softly the lullaby that he’d heard Sam sing countless times to lull his daughter to sleep.

Oh, rock-a-bye, hush-a-bye,

Wee babe of mine,

As stars twinkle high in the sky;

The whippoorwill's crying,

The night wind is sighing,

The river runs murmuring by.

The pine trees are slumbering,

Wee babe of mine,

The grey squirrel has gone to his nest;

The robins are sleeping,

The mother bird's keeping

Her little ones safe while they rest.

The roebuck is dreaming, oh,

Wee babe of mine,

His mate lies asleep at his side.

The breezes are pining,

The moonbeams are shining

All over the fields so wide.

Then hush-a-bye, rock-a-bye,

Wee babe of mine,

You sail on a river of dreams;

Remember I love you,

And stars above you

Will keep watch 'til morning light gleams.

By the time he was done, Elanor was sound asleep with the star-gem still held fast in her hand. In the tranquil moments that followed, Frodo stared down into her sweet, sweet face, and thought, Will you remember me after I’m gone, sweet Elanor?

He answered his own question. Elanor would not remember him, for she would be too young, but Sam would remember for her. He would read to her from the Red Book that Frodo would leave in his keeping, and Sam, best of all hobbits, would keep Frodo’s memory green and alive, long after Frodo had departed Middle-earth.

But that day had not yet come, and there were these golden summer days yet to enjoy, and to treasure up inside him like the squirrels hoarding seeds and nuts against the winter cold. Let the future take care of itself, he decided. He was still Frodo Baggins of the Shire, for now.

Carefully, Frodo lifted Elanor and set her against his chest then he eased back against the mallorn’s trunk, holding her close and secure in his arms with her sweet-scented golden curls silken and soft against his throat. Peace settled inside Frodo with the same confiding trust that Elanor slept in his hold. Time flowed past, and all unknowing, Frodo’s eyelids drooped shut and he slept.

That is how Sam found them some time later, asleep beneath the mallorn-tree. He stood looking down at them long and long, at Elanor resting quietly against Frodo’s breast, the star-gem clutched in her fist, with Frodo’s maimed hand cupped tenderly at the back of her head, and tears glimmered in his eyes.


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