1. The Diary
Frodo paused to wipe the sweat from his brow before it dripped into his eyes. It had been a long wearying day spent in the dusty confines of Bilbo’s study, trying to tidy up the mess his uncle had left behind. Frodo sighed as the thought “left behind” passed through his mind. It hadn’t been long enough since Bilbo had left for the thought of his leaving not to hurt.
Frodo turned back to the last unit of the bookshelves still needing to be cleaned out, dusted, then the books put back into place in a more orderly fashion. He removed one handful of the dusty old volumes, another handful, and then the last. But on turning back to the shelf with the dust cloth in hand, Frodo saw a small book had been left behind.
He picked it up and turned it about in his hands. It was a rather thin book and bound in a thin cover of leather that had once been supple, he supposed, but was now brittle with age. Frodo opened the cover and turned back the flyleaf to find, not a title page, but a page in Bilbo’s writing.
21, Halimath, S.R. 1331
Another dreary day. Been raining a bit too much. One hopes the Water and the Brandywine don’t flood.
Frodo’s eyes went wide, and he quickly shut the small book. It was obviously an old diary of Bilbo’s. He sat for a few moments with the diary lying between his two hands, unsure of what to do next. He did not feel he should throw the book away, as he had some of the volumes that had become moldy or worm-eaten. But if he kept it, he would be tempted to read it, which he didn’t feel was right to do either. Frodo set the diary gently atop the other books he had pulled from the shelf. He would finish the cleaning he had started and decide what to do with the diary later.
21, Halimath, S.R. 1331
Another dreary day. Been raining a bit too much. One hopes the Water and the Brandywine don’t flood. It will just be too fitting if the wretched weather continues into my birthday. I shall be forty-one tomorrow and, for some reason not known to me, it seems a dreary age to be turning. There is, of course, a party scheduled for the day with family and friends from Hobbiton and the Tookland.
The Aunts will be there in abundance, I am sure, with their smiles and their wiles and this or that feminine cousin they wish to introduce to me. All the flowers of the garden will be there - - Amaryllis, Anemone, Aster, Begonia, Buttercup, Carnation and Camomile, Petunia and Rose and a host of others! Paraded past for my perusal.
Bebother and confusticate meddling female relations!
I shall find a lass to court in my own good time! On my own, in my own manner! Perhaps I shall find a way to be somewhere else tomorrow.
Frodo was laughing as he closed the diary. Many were the times he and Bilbo had laughed at their tales of the antics of the Aunts in their attempts to marry them off! They had started in on Frodo even before he came of age, trying to see who they could find for him to court so he would be ready to wed not long after turning thirty-three. He chuckled to himself again, “They hadn’t succeeded.” He was half a year past his coming of age and nowhere near betrothed.
He ran his hand over the cover of the little book and smiled. “This would be interesting reading.” Frodo had decided, after thinking on the matter for two days, that he would go ahead and read the diary. It was all old news at this point in time, and Bilbo . . . well, Bilbo was gone and so hardly had a say in the matter.
1 Afteryule, S.R. 1332
How did this happen? Did I really not notice her? Well, I suppose it would have been rather easy, she being shy and my being so terribly determined to avoid anyone who might be someone the Aunts where setting on me. How glad I am that I ducked into the library at the Smials to avoid some of the Yuletide silliness! And she’s not even a flower! Perhaps that is why the Aunts appear to have overlooked her? Amethyst North-took. No flower could be so fair.
Frodo once again let the cover of the book slowly close over his thumb while he sat in open- mouthed wonder. “No flower could be so fair,” had Bilbo Baggins actually written that about a hobbit lass? The hand writing was most certainly Bilbo’s. Frodo gazed at the old leather cover of the diary as his mind spun a bit in his head. Bilbo had never once given any hint, not the slightest indication, that he had ever cared for any hobbitess. The rest of the diary, to this point, had been rather boring, but this . . . well this was a shock to the system, totally unforseen, unbelievable.
“Tea,” he thought, “hot, steamy with lots of honey; yes, I need some tea.” He got up and went into the kitchen, the little book still in his hand, and fixed the tea one-handed, unable to release his hold on the diary. He sat at the old worn kitchen table with the steaming mug of tea and the book before him. With a push of the thumb that was still between the pages, the diary again opened to that most curious entry, which Frodo slowly read again. There was no doubting it, Bilbo had fallen in love.
8 Afteryule, S.R. 1332
How curious this all seems. I don’t remember wanting to stay at the Smials any longer than absolutely necessary since I was but a lad, even though my Mother has lived here since my Father passed away, and it is always pleasant to visit with her. Everyone has been quite cordial, even the Aunts, and I have felt nothing but welcome.
It is interesting how bright the stars are this winter. Amethyst knows even more about them than I. Not surprising when one remembers that the book she was reading in the library the day we met was “The Stars and Their Stories, Both Elven and of the Shire”, a ponderous tome that she had placed upon a book stand to read.
I wonder if she noticed that I kept standing more and more closely over the past few nights until tonight? . . . Well if she hadn’t liked my arm about her shoulders, she certainly would have said so. The wonder is that she said nothing about it at all, she simply pushed up tighter against me. She snuggled. I’ve stood aloof from the females of my kind for so long, so as not to be bullied about by the Aunts, that I’ve never thought, truly never thought, about being snuggled up to. How very pleasant such a simple action can feel.
17 Afteryule, S.R. 1332
There’s been a blizzard. Odd really, we don’t often get those. Such a pity that I’ll have to stay at the Smials longer still. Amethyst seemed to find it all rather amazing, as well. She thought perhaps this is just the beginning of the unusual weather and that she might not be able to return to the North Farthing until the Spring thaw. She smiled a most interesting smile as she said this and looked straight at me. I only hope I didn’t blush, as that would be most awkward.
In my room for the night now, as the clouds prevented any star gazing. Amethyst and I played cards with cousins Sigismond and Fortinbras in the parlor nearly all afternoon. She has a quick mind and was an excellent partner.
An excellent partner.
An excellent partner?!
What am I thinking! I have not even known her for a month! I cannot possibly be thinking . . .
An excellent partner . . .
From this point on the diary entries were not much more than the recording of rather ordinary day-to-day activities in the Smials, simple and homey interactions between Bilbo and Amethyst. The only exceptional thing being that the snow stayed around and always, when it seemed it would melt off enough for all the roads and such to be opened, it would snow again. Frodo was beginning to feel drowsy and had nearly decided that an afternoon nap would be pleasant when the next entry reeled him in like an expert fisher-hobbit with a prize catch on the line.
22 Solmath, S.R. 1332
I have reached a decision. It has become unavoidable, a necessity and delaying action on it will simply not do. I will on the morrow, in the quiet of the library of Great Smials, ask for dear Amethyst’s hand in marriage.
There, I wrote it down.
It is in writing, and there is no going back on it.
I love her.
Now that is in writing too.
Stars in the heavens above watch over this poor foolish hobbit! May she say yes!
23 Solmath, S.R. 1332
She said yes!
The stars are shining down upon us, blessing us. We have not been walking on this Middle-earth today. We have been walking amongst the stars!
30 Solmath, S.R. 1332
I have been horribly remiss with recording things for posterity. Oh, my! I shall now actually have posterity to whom I can leave this!
Where did I leave off? Ah, yes, she did say yes. I never knew that one word could sound so wonderful. Yes.
The last several days we have been hosted and toasted and fussed over until we are nearly breathless from it all! My Mother has been so excited, and the only sad aspect of it all is that my Father isn’t here to share this with her.
Also, we have been terribly busy packing. The snow decided to stop falling and start melting. So my betrothed and I (I do enjoy how that sounds, my betrothed and I . . . yes well) are heading off to the North Farthing to tell her parents the good news, as they had not come to the Smials for Yule. This will be a complete surprise to them. Amethyst assures me that they will love me, a statement I find hard to accept as few hobbits have ever found me to be very loveable. Friendly, yes, well mannered for the most part, but difficult and opinionated. She assures me still that her Mother will love me and her Father will find me respectable. I told her I could, perhaps, conceded those points to her.
The tea in Frodo’s mug had long ago grown cold, and the sun was quickly sinking. He dumped the cold tea down the sink and put the kettle back on the fire to boil while he put fresh tea in the tea ball. He was having so much fun; he had read through Rethe and Astron and part way through Thrimidge and was amazed at the Uncle Bilbo he was discovering in the pages of his diary. Bilbo noticing the spring flowers blooming. Bilbo waxing eloquent about the shapes to be seen in fluffy clouds. Bilbo singing the praises of his betrothed. Truly a Bilbo that Frodo had never seen before and never would now that Bilbo had left.
Frodo hesitated in reaching for the tea kettle. Bilbo had left; the thought was suddenly a sadder one than it had been for a long time. He missed his gruff yet kindly guardian and friend. Frodo shook off his gloomy thoughts and once again thought about Bilbo the betrothed hobbit lad, so bright and cheerful and eager to begin a new part of his life. He took the kettle off it’s hook and, while he carried the hot water to the table to fill the teapot, he chuckled to himself over the image of Bilbo playing a game of tag with little hobbits at Amethyst’s parents’ home in the North Farthing.
The kettle did not make it to the tea pot. Frodo suddenly froze. His hands lost their grip, and the kettle fell to the table top with a thud and slosh of boiling water. At least it had remained upright, otherwise he would have been scalded. Frodo felt his heart freeze inside his chest. He had stopped breathing for a few moments and now gasped in a large mouthful of air. He felt around the edge of the table till he bumped into his chair and barely remembered to turn a bit before he let his weak knees collapse landing him with a hard thump on the seat. He stared at the diary, fear widening his eyes and then causing them to slowly blink.
There was no happy ending.
He waited until he felt he could trust his legs to hold his weight and staggered down the tunnel to his bedroom, shut the door, bolted it, climbed into his bed still fully clothed, and shut his eyes against the bitter thought.
In the morning Frodo avoided the little book as much as possible, placing a towel over it while he went about fixing his breakfast and sitting at the table to eat it. He stayed out of the kitchen until his rumbling stomach forced him back in there at noon, not having bothered with second breakfast or elevenses. Frodo kept glancing over at the towel that covered the diary. “Why did I ever start reading that thing?” he said aloud to himself, “I really should have known no good would come of nosing into someone else’s memories.” As he sat his full plate on the table, he shoved the book aside hard enough to knock it off the table and onto the floor; the towel fluttered away, and the book lay open, naked, and exposed on the reddish-brown tiles.
“Just ignore it.” Frodo said, averting his eyes.
But the diary would not leave him alone. It kept creeping into his thoughts and making sure he could see it out of the corner of his eye, or at least that was how it felt to Frodo. He ate his lunch and started to get up to clear the table when he suddenly set the his empty plate back down with a sharp thwack.
“Leave me alone!” He hollered at the book on the floor, then gave it his best glare, the one that stopped misbehaving little hobbits in their tracks.
But nothing happened. The book just stared back in defiance.
Gradually the tension left him, and Frodo slumped against the back of the chair with a sigh. He closed his eyes and thought for a while, thought of the happy tale he had been following through the pages of the little diary. A happy tale that he knew, knew absolutely, could not have the happy ending he wanted it to have. Frodo had gotten to where it had seemed like a pretend story, a fiction, that someone had written using his Uncle’s name and the names of familiar places. It had no longer been real until that moment yesterday when the reality of it crashed into his heart and sent him reeling.
But . . .
Frodo’s thoughts paused, “but didn’t the story deserve to be known? Don’t times of hardship deserve their moment? It is not only the good times that shape us.” If he truly loved Bilbo, and he certainly did, then would it serve that love well to ignore whatever hurt it was that had come to his Uncle?
Frodo slowly opened his eyes and looked again at the forlorn little volume on the tiles as a totally new emotion rose in him - - guilt.
“What if Bilbo had refused to share my hurt about my parents?” Frodo said to the diary. “What if he had, so to speak, shut the cover and put my pain back on the shelf never to be dealt with or soothed? Would that have been right or good for me? Didn’t he love me more deeply because we talked about how badly I was still hurting at being an orphan, and isn’t this the same thing?”
Frodo bent over and gently closed the diary and picked it up. He cradled it tenderly in one hand while caressing the cover with his finger tips. He bit the inside of his cheek, pursed his lips, and nodded his head.
“He shared my hurt. I owe it to him to share his pain, whether he is here to know it or not. You need to finish telling your tale, little friend,” he said to the book, “and I apologize for turning away from the hurt of a loved one.” Frodo opened the diary, “Now, where did we leave off?” Frodo found where he had left off the day before, took a deep breath, and started to read.
9 Thrimidge, S.R. 1332
A fine day. Warm and pleasant with flowers blooming everywhere and Hamfast Gamgee hard at work keeping them that way. A fine day.
We set our wedding day. It will be 26th Halimath of this year. Amethyst’s birthday is 18th Halimath and mine the 22nd. We both love the weather in Halimath, so we decided that after our birthdays would be a good time.
I must admit to finding kissing and cuddling to be a very pleasant pastime, more so than I would have anticipated. Not, mind you, that I had never kissed or been kissed, but such light hearted and childish pecks and mashings I now know are not true kissing. The real thing has all your heart behind it and is inexplicably tender and exciting all at once. And the cuddling! I don’t think I have ever felt anything quite like the pride and joy I feel when Amethyst is as close to me as she can be with my arms firmly around her - proud that such an amazingly wonderful lass sees good in me and joy at feeling so truly and honestly accepted and loved.
20 Thrimidge, S.R. 1332
Today we discussed our plans for a family. Really, it all seemed so odd to me to have to talk about it. I mean to say, do not the two just come together and, if they are so blessed, they have a child? Then do they not simply repeat the process and, again if so blessed, have another, and another, and so on and so on until they have no more? Apparently not. Apparently the couple can make efforts at determining the number and frequency of their offspring. I had always assumed that if there were large gaps of time between children, or if there was an only child, that something had gone wrong. The couple had lost children or were unable to produce more.
I think my poor dear Father had tried to pass along to me such information as some of what Amethyst said (rather in shock at my seeming to know nothing at all about such matters) did seem familiar. But Father had been a rather bashful hobbit and, as I recall, I really could not grab hold of most of what he tried to tell me about a male hobbit’s responsibilities in marriage. However, all is now taken care of. We have decided that we do wish to have children, that we would like to have three or four of them, if so blessed (apparently the ‘blessing’ aspect does play a part), and to have our first during our second year of marriage.
A small note here: I have often liked children better than adults. They are not pretentious. They are usually honest (often to the point of rudeness) and they have the most wonderful imaginations!
30 Thrimidge, S.R. 1332
Tomorrow, 1 Forelithe, Amethyst and I leave Hobbiton for Buckland to visit family and friends at Brandy Hall. We are planning to be gone the whole month returning to Hobbiton for the Lithedays Fair. Amethyst has already begun some of the planning for the wedding and will really get busy with it all in Afterlithe.
We really are getting married!
I still am not over the wonder of it all!
The next entry brought Frodo up short. It nearly looked to be in someone else’s hand, and the date showed the passage of more than a month’s time.
7 Afterlithe, S.R. 1332
My hand shakes from sorrow and from weakness. All seems gloomy and cold, although this is a time of year given to bright sun and hot weather.
I only know what has been told to me. I remember nothing for myself of the accident. I wish I remembered nothing at all.
When we did not arrive at the Hall at a reasonable time, Old Rory and his brother, Saradas, went riding out upon the road to see what was detaining us. Near to sundown they came upon the wreckage of our buggy off the road a ways in a field. I was unconscious and badly injured. Amethyst and the pony were both dead.
8 Afterlithe, S.R. 1332
I found I could write no further yesterday.
Two days later, a lad was Brought to Brandy Hall who admitted to throwing a rock at our buggy, trying to see if he could land the stone in the back where the luggage was. A common thing, I did this several times when I was a lad. His aim went bad, and the stone, he said, hit the pony in the neck. Would that he had hit me with it. Poor Star bolted in fear off the road, into the field and eventually into a tree. The lad came to check on us but thought all were dead (if only it had been so) and ran home and said nothing until the next day out of sheer terror.
Star was buried, Amethyst was sent home to her parents and I . . . I
Here, Frodo sadly noticed, the letters turned to a wavering line and stopped.
9 Afterlithe, S.R. 1332
Why could I not have died or stayed in the deep sleep that held me for nearly a month? Waking has brought only the deepest sorrow.
I cannot go home. My Mother is in no state to care for me and I cannot yet care for myself. Well, more that I do not wish to care for myself, I wish not to care about anything.
18 Afterlithe, S.R. 1332
Still at the Hall. They keep trying to force food into me, but I cannot tolerate it. It comes back up. Enough must remain that I’ve not died from starvation. A pity.
26 Afterlithe, S.R. 1332
I am doing better. Some food stays put now. I have begged for my own home, and finally they have relented. I return to Bag End on the morrow with a cook and a healer from the Hall.
13 Wedmath, S.R. 1332
I slept well. The old hole soothes me and throws it’s comforting presence around me, nearly like Amethyst’s arms. Nearly.
22 Wedmath, S.R. 1332
I’m still not well. The weakness will not release me. It knows I welcome it.
Amethyst’s Father is coming to see me tomorrow, though I do not know why. His letter only said he would be arriving and spoke not at all to the reason behind it.
23 Wedmath, S.R. 1332
News both strange and wondrous! My Amethyst lives! Yet she wanted to be thought dead, at least for me to think her dead.
Her injuries were of a sort she has found impossible to bear, and she did not wish me burdened with herself. This cut me deeply! But her Father bade me be still while he explained. She is an invalid, needing to be cared for like a babe. Her bodily functions are no longer hers to control and she is not even able to feed herself. Amethyst is scarred upon her face, he said, and no longer does she wish people to see her. It was she who pled to be taken away from the Hall before I awoke and that I be told she had died in the accident. Then, through various relations, he and his dear wife had heard that I had indeed awakened, and that I was wasting away from grief. He came to beg that I not do this to myself. She talks of me always, and imagines to herself what I am doing each day, that I am mourning her but smiling at the memories of the time we had together.
“Do not take this one dream from her!” he beseeched me. “We fear she will hear of your present state and will be crushed by the news. Do not take her dreams for you away, Bilbo, we beg of you!”
“Will she live long as she is?” I could barely whisper the words.
He hung his head and slowly shook it. For a long time he sat that way and said nothing. “The healers say she will not see the new year,” he said sadly without raising his head.
I sat and thought for a while. “Is there anything that I can do to make her days better? More comfortable, more pleasant? Are you caring for her yourselves? Could you use a nurse to help?” I reached over and put my hand on his knee. “Anything, anything so that I can still show my love to her?”
He raised his tired eyes to mine, “She wishes you to think . . .”
“I know. She need not know the help is from me, I will know and that will ease my pain; and the help will ease your load as well. Please, what may I do?”
Arrangements have been made.
Frodo put the edge of his serviette in the book to hold his place and got out his handkerchief to dry his eyes and blow his nose. So there was the answer to his question, love found and love lost. No marriage. No little hobbits to charm their Father with their honesty and imaginations. Frodo sat for a bit, then turned to the last few entries in the diary. There were only a few more with great chunks of time passing between them.
21 Halimath, S.R. 1332
Tomorrow will be a happier birthday than I would have dreamed possible a month ago. I received word today that the nurse has been a great help. So have the tools and things I designed and had the carpenter and blacksmith make to help Amethyst to be able to feed herself, since it is her hands that do not function, but her arms do work well.
She is smiling more, they write, and last week she asked to be taken outside to look at the stars!
I am helping her. I am loving her, even if from afar.
14 Winterfilth, S.R. 1332
A letter from the North Farthing came today. She is growing weaker. They can no longer take her out in the wheelchair I bought for her, it tires her to sit up for too long. I wrote to ask if I may break my promise, if they will break theirs to her, and let me come and be with her.
I hope they grant my request.
29 Blotmath, S.R. 1332
At last! Their letter arrived today. She has been ill, or they would have written sooner. They nearly lost her, and I would not have gotten to say good by.
They have said I should come.
I leave tomorrow.
6 Foreyule, S.R. 1332
I arrived at Amethyst’s home three days ago just before noon. They had not told her that I was coming, that they had broken their promise to her. She did not seem to care, as she reached out her arms to me and I ran to fill them.
Her paralysis was no longer an issue. She was like anyone who is ill would be, tucked up in bed, needing help to sit up or to take a drink. Two ragged scars raked their way across the right side of her face. I held her head gently in my hands and kissed along the length of them both then kissed her dear mouth. And we talked. Talked about the spring and the summer and stories from our childhoods . . . of the accident. We talked of the Took Aunts and about how she had done so much better for a while because her Father found so many things that helped her. I smiled at that, knowing it was me; it was me who had helped her. And we sat together on her bed and I cuddled her close. Oh, the glorious joy of cuddling! And we kissed! We kissed and kissed each other’s lips and faces, then just sat and talked some more.
Evening came. I wrapped her up and carried her outside where we looked at the stars we had fallen in love under. “The Stars and Their Stories . . .” filled our eyes, our heads . . . and our hearts. Before she became chilled, we went back in, and I stretched out beside her on her bed to be close to her. I needed to be close to her.
We talked about food and family, feasts and festivals until she slowly drifted off to sleep, her breathing gentle and slow. I sang her lullabies until I, too, must have drifted off to sleep with Amethyst in my arms.
In the morning I woke up.
Frodo’s splayed hand rested on the open diary. His head rested on his forearm. His body shook with his sobs.
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.