The portrait had hung in the front room beside the fireplace for many years while old Bilbo still lived at Bag End, but was taken down and stored when the elderly hobbit disappeared, leaving the estate to his nephew. Frodo hadn't much cared for the drawing of himself, so it was set in an unoccupied room until Sam was cleaning out the room to have a nursery for his first child with Rosie.
Ever since he could remember, Frodo-lad would stare at the portrait after his Da told him and his siblings the stories of the Quest of the Ring. He loved the tales and knew them by heart.
This night, it was Frodo-lad's twenty-second birthday. He didn't care much for big celebrations; it was only the family and close friends who came to celebrate. Everyone had left or gone to bed, but he was still awake staring at that portrait…and wondering.
"Time for shut-eye, Frodo-lad" his Da's voice cut through his thoughts. Frodo-lad turned, startled and dumbfounded. Sam knelt beside his son. "Did I give you a fright, my lad?"
Frodo-lad bowed his head. "Just a little, sir."
"Well, I'm sorry, my lad." There was a sad presence about his son, and Sam could sense it plainly. He slipped a finger under his son's chin, lifting Frodo-lad's eyes to meet his. Sam studied his face for several moments. "Is something the matter?"
Frodo-lad's straight-lipped expression melted into a frown. Shame flooded his eyes and he started to weep.
"My son," Sam said, pulling Frodo-lad against him. ", you should be happy on your birthday. Tell your ole Da what's the matter."
Frodo-lad stayed silent, only sniffling every once and a while. He finally pulled away from his Da, and stood, walking beside the fireplace. "Wasn't Mr. Frodo about my age when he came to live here?"
"I believe he was" Sam answered, remaining on the floor. "Why do you ask?"
"I'm growing up, Da."
Sam couldn't help but smile. It only felt like yesterday that Frodo-lad was born, and he could finally give honor to his Master by giving his firstborn son Mr. Frodo's name. "I can see that, son. You'll be my height by your next birthday."
"I don't mean myself" Frodo-lad waved his hands up and down his body. "I mean, I'll be coming of age in a matter of years. One day I'll be the Master of Bag End, and I don't know if I can handle."
"By stars, my son, why are you thinking of such things so far from now?" Sam got to his feet, and stood beside his son in front of the portrait - a hand resting on Frodo-lad's shoulder. "You're still just a tweenager. You should be thinking about how far you can skip a rock on the pond of Bywater. What is burdening you?"
"It's just," Frodo-lad started. "How am I going to live up to him?"
Sam was fixing to ask who, but noticed how intensely his son was looking at Mr. Frodo's portrait. "Why do you think you need to live up to Mr. Frodo?"
"Because, Mr. Frodo was such a gentlehobbit who did so many great things. He was one of the greatest heroes by saving all of Middle-earth. I'm afraid I'll dishonor his name by being who I am."
Sam was on one knee in a moment, both hands now on Frodo-lad's shoulder. He looked straight into his son's eyes. "You could never dishonor Mr. Frodo's name. I see who you are, and you could never do such a thing. "
"But, what about the other half?" Frodo-lad's voice was desperate.
"What other half?"
"I'm Frodo Gamgee!" He looked at his Da with large, wild eyes. " I have to live up to two namesakes. You were as great a hero as Mr. Frodo. I want to be a gardener like you, but what if I mess up my responsibilities and I make you angry and I don't know how to handle that either. I'm so confused!"
Frodo-lad crumpled to the floor in a frenzy of sobs. Sam pulled the boy into his lap, and just held him and smoothed him. Sam never knew his son had so much bottled up inside. Frodo-lad was a happy child, delighting in gardening, always willing to learn something new, took good care of his sibling. Sam would never guessed that all this was on his mind.
After a long while, Frodo-lad fell asleep and Sam carried him to his room. He stayed with his son the rest of the night, after explaining to Rosie what had happened. It wasn't until morning that he saw the open eyes of his son.
Frodo-lad woke a short time after sunrise. He buried his face in the soft, feather pillow under his head until memories of the night before came to him and looked up to see his Da propped up in a chair by his bedside. Sam was just stirring as Frodo-lad lay a hand on him.
"Good morning, son" Sam greeted, groggily. He sat upright in the chair, and stretched his stiff back. "How are you feeling?"
Frodo-lad rubbed his eyes on his shirtsleeve and answered, "I'm sorry I acted the way I did last night."
"You mustn't be sorry." Sam scooted onto the bed, wrapping a comforting arm around the boy. "Please tell me whenever you feel that way. I don't want it to eat you up inside. I think I should tell you something about Mr. Frodo that you didn't know."
"What's that?" Frodo-lad asked eagerly.
"He would keep a lot of things that bothered him to himself - especially after the Quest - and it would hurt him dearly. I didn't know of it until I found out by accident one day. I had to talk it through with him just like I did you, because he felt ashamed of himself."
Silence crowded the room for several moments until Frodo-lad spoke. "He felt ashamed of himself?" he squeaked out. "Why?"
Sam nodded. "He did, because he did something during the Quest that he really didn't have control over, but he blamed himself and was hurting from it."
Tears began to form in Frodo-lad's eyes. Everything he'd heard of Frodo Baggins, he hadn't heard of this. He knew Mr. Frodo had been tormented by the Ring and that's why he left, but…"What did he do?"
"Now that I can't tell you, son, because it's a secret between me and him. I can tell you that you don't have to keep hurt or shame inside. All it does is make it worse. I hope you can see that you won't dishonor Mr. Frodo or the Gamgee name. Do you hear me, lad?"
The boy laid his head against his Da's chest and sighed. "Yes, sir."
"Frodo-lad, I love you."
"I love you too, Da."
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.