Everything and everyone belong to JRR Tolkien. I'm just taking them for a walk.
“Beebo!” the tiny tot squealed, delightedly as he threw himself into his uncle’s arms, the squeal turning into a giggle as Bilbo scooped him up and swung him around. Drogo chuckled as he lowered the bags and Primula smiled delightedly.
“He’s been impossible for the last half hour. As soon as he started to recognise the road he started calling for his uncle Beebo,” she explained.
Bilbo tried to put the little hobbit down but Frodo threw his hands about his uncle’s neck and refused to be parted, so in the end he was settled on Bilbo’s hip and that was how they entered the kitchen.
“I’ve put you all in the big guest bedroom. Leave the bags in the hall. I’ll help you with them after tea.”
The sight of food was about the only thing that would have parted Frodo from his uncle and he began to wriggle to be let down when he saw the contents of the kitchen table, one chubby little hand reaching towards a plate of still warm scones.
“Oh no you don’t,” Primula warned, catching the tiny fist before it could close about its target. “We need to clean you up first.” With that she prised her pouting son loose and carried him away to their bedroom. She returned a little while later with Frodo toddling along at her side, his face and hands scrubbed pink. He was tugging determinedly at a large white bib fastened securely about his neck. When his eyes lit upon the table, however, he reached out two little arms to be picked up and sat in his chair.
It was Drogo who obliged, settling him in the chair that Bilbo had bought specially. It had been commissioned from a local carpenter and had it’s own tray attached. Frodo loved and at the same time hated it. He was high enough up to be able to see everything clearly . . . and it was his own special chair. But he was also out of arms reach of the contents of the table and so unable to sneak items off it when the grown ups weren’t looking.
Primula took a seat next to her son and Drogo made to sit at the other side but jumped when Frodo yelled, “Nooooo. Beebo!” The little chap folded his arms and pouted as his father burst out laughing.
“It seems Frodo has decided on the seating arrangement.” He gestured Bilbo to the seat he had just vacated, grinning broadly. He had no objection to Bilbo being the one to get strawberry jam tats in his hair for once. Bilbo brought the teapot and took the indicated chair, earning himself a crow of delight from the child, who turned big blue eyes upon him in eager anticipation.
“Cake, Beebo,” he demanded brightly. Bilbo shot a questioning look at Primula and was answered by a slight shake of her head and a glance at the sandwich plate.
“Let’s try a few sandwiches first, Frodo lad. Then you can have some scones before your cake.”
The big blue eyes took on a determined look and pink, cupid bow lips clenched shut. “Cake.”
Pretending that he had not seen or heard the last, Bilbo took up one of the small triangular sandwiches and took a bit. “Mmmmmmmm. Mushroom pate. My favourite,” he murmured, with a wink at Primula. A little hand reached out, fingers stretching.
“Sanbidge,” pleaded the tot.
Bilbo smiled, reaching for another and moving to set it on Frodo’s tray but Primula stopped him.
“What is the word we always use, Frodo?” she asked pointedly. Frodo thought for a moment.
“Pease,” he announced proudly.
“Clever boy,” his mother beamed and Frodo clapped his hands in delight at the praise. Bilbo put the sandwich down on the tray and chubby little fingers caught it up immediately.
“Tank oo.” Blue eyes lit up and Frodo took a bite out of the middle of the sandwich, leaving a line of mushroom pate either side of his mouth. The adults left him to it, content to clean him up at the end of the meal.
Frodo was known for being a bit picky about his food but today there was no evidence of this. A cheese one, a carrot stick, a cheese straw, a fruit scone, followed the mushroom sandwich, then a gingerbread hobbit, a bun and ending with a long awaited slice of cake. All washed down with a cup of cold milk.
“Slow down, sweetheart,” Primula chided, pulling the cup away a little to emphasise her point. “You’ll give yourself hiccups, gulping like that.”
The little brow furrowed for a moment, dark eyebrows forming perfect s shapes, but he waited until his Mama let go and began to drink more slowly. When the last drop was gone and everyone sat back, contented, Drogo surveyed his son.
The contents of Frodo’s tea could be read from the items smeared all over the bib. Unfortunately they were also visible on his hands and face. Drogo stood, with a rueful smile and lifted Frodo into his arms.
“My turn, I think.” The little hobbit nestled compliantly, curling a sticky fist in his father’s hair and the two headed off to try and get Frodo relatively clean again while Bilbo and Primula cleared the table. A few minutes later however, a peel of giggles followed by Drogo’s exasperated voice interrupted their work.
“Frodo! Come back here, you little terror. I haven’t finished.” With that, Frodo ran squealing into the kitchen, his father only steps behind him, facecloth in hand. Bilbo made a grab for the little tot but he squirmed out of reach and dived under the table, grubby face grinning up mischievously from his refuge.
All the elder hobbits ended up on hands and knees, trying to coax him out but the table was too big and without getting under with him, there was no way they could reach the cheeky mite. (A fact which Frodo worked out fairly quickly.) Every time one of them made a move towards him, Frodo backed away giggling delightedly at the new game he had discovered. For some minutes they continued thus and Bilbo was beginning to edge the lad back towards Drogo when . . .
“hic!” The giggle was halted in full flow and Frodo’s blue eyes widened in alarm.
“hic!” The tiny chest jerked again and Frodo swallowed.
“hic!” His bottom lip began to quiver and his face crumpled.
“hic!” Tears sprang to his eyes and rolled down grubby cheeks as he scooted towards Primula.
Primula scooped him into her arms and kissed his brow. “Awwwwww. Poor Poppet.”
They sat in the parlour, the only sound for the present, Frodo’s dying whimpers and the continuing tiny spasms of hiccups.
“Come on, Poppet. Try a sip of water.” Primula patted the tiny back and offered the cup but Frodo only buried his head in her shoulder as his chest jerked again.
“Try, for Mama.”
Tearful blue eyes gazed up at her and the dark curls bobbed. She put the cup to his lips and Frodo took a sip. Unfortunately, it coincided with a particularly strong hiccup and the water went down the wrong way, resulting in a coughing fit that deteriorated into more crying. Him Mama patted him on the back, shushing him until the tears subsided again.
“There’s the key cure,” Drogo offered cryptically. Primula looked up at her husband in disbelief.
“I thought that was an old wives tale.”
“I don’t know whether it works,” Drogo admitted. “But it may be worth a try.”
Primula continued to look sceptical as Bilbo left the room. He returned a moment later, brandishing the large key to Bag End. Frodo blinked, blue eyes staring up with some suspicion . . . trying to work out what was about to be done with it. He shrank down in his Mama’s arms.
“It’s alright, Poppet. We’re just going to slip this down your back,” his Mama volunteered. Another hiccup shook the little hobbit but he sat still while his Papa pulled back the neck of his shirt and popped the large key inside. It was cold and he squirmed, looking up in mild confusion. Then he turned accusingly on Bilbo as he was shaken by three little hics in quick succession.
Primula tried to hide a smile. “Well, I think that confirms that . . . old wives tale.” She pulled her child’s shirt out of his trousers and retrieved the key, returning it with mock solemnity to Bilbo. Frodo’s face began to crumple again as a fresh bout of hiccups shook his tiny frame.
All three older hobbits turned to stare in alarm but Primula’s voice was calm.
“What hurts, Poppet?”
“hic . . . tummy.” Frodo laid a tiny fist over his diaphragm, his bottom lip beginning to quiver a little.
“I’m sorry.” Primula slipped her hand under his and rubbed gently, sighing when she felt it contract with another hiccup. Tears began to slide down a tiny pink face and she cuddled him closer.
“There’s the other cure,” murmured Drogo in his wife’s ear.
“What other one?” Primula asked.
“Sometimes you can S . . . H . . . O . . . C . . . K it out of people,” he replied.
Primula continued to try and soothe their child, rubbing his tummy and rocking him.
“Are you sure that is a good idea?” Bilbo asked, worriedly. Frodo seemed scared enough already.
“No. It is not a good idea and we are not going to try it,” announced Primula firmly, running fingers through the shock of brown curls that rested miserably against her shoulder.
Drogo stared at Bilbo in disbelief. “Drink out of the wrong side of the cup?”
Bilbo nodded. “It’s always worked for me.”
“I’m willing to give it a try, as long as it isn’t going to S . . . C . . . A . . . R . . . E him,” Primula declared in exasperation as Frodo’s tiny body jerked again.
Bilbo knelt down in front of the settee and held the cup out to his nephew with a smile. “Come on now, Frodo lad. It’s only water. You have to drink it from the other side, though.”
Frodo accepted the cup, looking from it to his uncle and back again in some confusion. Primula sighed and rescued it, handing it back to Bilbo.
“He’s a child, Bilbo. You have to show him.”
“Oh, yes. Of course.” Bilbo smiled at his little nephew. “You do it like this.” He stood and bent over, almost double, placing his lips on the far rim of the cup and sipping the water carefully. Unfortunately he looked up, to see if Frodo was paying attention. The action closed his throat and instead of swallowing, he almost breathed it, the action causing him to cough and send the water up his nose.
Frodo giggled with delight, clapping chubby hands as his uncle blew water out of his nose, finding the whole thing very entertaining. He had never seen anyone do that before and he reached for the cup to try it for himself. Mama spoiled his fun, however and shook her head.
“hic!” The sad little bundle in Primula’s lap whimpered again and she bent to kiss the curls on his crown. They had long since run out of remedies, both logical and illogical, and now all they could do was hope that the hiccups would fade of their own accord if they kept little Frodo warm and calm.
The sun was setting as Bilbo came up with one last idea. “Sometimes distraction helps get rid of them. Or so I’ve heard.”
Frodo looked up, a worried expression on his face. He did not know what a distraction was but if it was anything like the incident with the key he didn’t feel inclined to try it. Primula eyed Bilbo with some scepticism.
“I would have thought your water breathing trick was distraction enough and that didn’t work.”
Bilbo smiled ruefully. “I was thinking of something gentler than that.”
Primula hesitated a moment and then nodded. Bilbo reached out to Frodo, who also hesitated a moment and then let go of his Mama and allowed himself to be handed over to his favourite uncle, settling his tiny head against the shoulder that smelled of lavender and pipeweed.
“Come on Frodo. Let’s you and I go and look at the garden.”
Primula and Drogo watched as Bilbo headed for the back door, with little Frodo cradled in his arms. The sun was quite low on the horizon and shadows were beginning to lengthen in the vegetable garden. Bilbo stood quite still, feeling every tiny jerk of his nephew’s body. It was a sign of how upset he was that the little mite was content to rest there and was not squirming to be let down.
“This is my vegetable plot, Frodo. The Gaffer grows all kinds of vegetables for me here. Carrots and cabbages, potatoes and beans. Not many people have a plot as big or as well looked after as this.”
“Plot,” Frodo repeated quietly. It was a nice short word. Easy to learn.
“That’s right, lad. Plot. Ahhhhhh . . . here’s Bertie. I thought it was about time for him to wake up.” Bilbo pointed across the vegetable plot to a patch of shadow under the hedge. “You have to be very quiet or you will scare Bertie bunny away. Bunnies are very scared of people. Hold your breath so that he won’t hear you,” he whispered.
Frodo nodded, entranced by the little brown rabbit hopping about in his uncles vegetable plot. The silence didn’t last long, though.
Unaware of the very still hobbits, Bertie hopped towards them. Excited at the prospect of Bertie coming closer, Frodo let out his breath with an explosive little shriek of delight. Bertie did a swift about turn and skittered back into the safety of the shadows to cries of, “Plot bunny! Plot bunny!”
Bilbo roared with laughter and turned back to Bag End with a wriggling Frodo.
“Oh no you don’t! It’s past your bedtime and I don’t think Bertie is in the mood to play.” He closed the kitchen door and let Frodo down. His nephew went straight to the door.
“Plot bunny, Beebo.” The words were not accompanied by a hiccup.
Primula and Drogo stood at the entrance to the hall, their faces a picture of relief. Primula held out her arms.
“Come on Frodo. Time for bed. You can go and visit the plot bunny tomorrow.”
Frodo looked at the door longingly but finally ran to his Mama’s arms.
“Say goodnight to Papa and Uncle Bilbo.”
Drogo leaned close and Frodo planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek, then looked around. Little arms reached out and a wide grin graced the grubby, tearstained face. “Beebo!”
Bilbo crossed the room and the tiny hobbit wrapped his arms about his uncle’s neck and gave him a huge wet kiss. When he pulled away, still smiling, Bilbo’s eyes were sparkling with unshed tears.
“Night night, Beebo.”
“Good night and sleep tight, Frodo lad.”
As Primula turned to leave Frodo’s little face peeped over her shoulder. “Frodo see plot bunny tomorrow?”
“Oh yes, Frodo. We’ll see if we can find you some more plot bunnies tomorrow.”
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