B2MeM Challenge: Based on this prompt from starbrow: Elrond and Frodo have a chat about their unique family circumstances and their love for the ones who sheltered and kept them safe as children.
(Remember Bilbo was treated as somewhat of an outcast from the Shire on his return, nothing anything like Maglor & Maedhros of course, but still enough for Frodo to feel it.)
Genre: Gapfiller, Character Study
Characters: Frodo, Elrond
Creators' Notes (optional): A couple of Elrond's conversations with Bilbo occurred in my drabble series Getting Reacquainted and in my drabble Fathers by Choice.
Fathers of the Heart
Frodo stood on the wide porch, gazing at the magnificent view of one of the waterfalls and trying to let the beauty soothe his famished spirit. But he was troubled, and even the serenity of Rivendell could not banish his thoughts.
He looked up to see his host. "Master Elrond. It is a beautiful evening."
"It is. However, I thought you would still be with Bilbo and your other friends, celebrating your joint birthdays."
"We were. After your marvelous feast, we went back to Bilbo's rooms and visited a while. But Bilbo soon grew weary; I stayed to see him tucked in, and Merry, Pippin and Sam went down to the Hall of Fire. I shall join them shortly I suppose." He sighed, and looked back in the direction of Bilbo's apartment.
"I see that you are troubled." Elrond stepped closer, and then also looked back. "Are you worried about Bilbo?"
Frodo nodded. "It's so strange yet to see his age beginning to catch up to him. It felt so odd to be tucking him in, when for much of my life that was his role." He hung his head. "I know there's no logic to it, but somehow I feel it's my fault." He stopped abruptly. He would not mention the Ring; bad enough that he could not cease thinking of the cursed thing. He was not obliged to speak of it.
But the Master of Imladris had no such qualms. "The Ring extended his life to be sure, Frodo, but it was not good for him. You know that. He may be aging more quickly, but he is happier now, especially now that his child has come safely through his trials." Elrond smiled gently at him, as the hobbit looked up with startlement on his face.
"His child?" Of course Frodo knew that was how Bilbo thought of him, but it was surprising to hear it from Master Elrond.
"We spoke of that often while you were gone. It was something we had in common."
Frodo cocked his head, thinking hard, and then it came to him. "Aragorn."
"Yes. Both of us were fearful for the safety of the sons of our hearts." He smiled, and his smile made Frodo recall Bilbo's description: "kind as summer". "Both of you won through, and we were immensely proud."
Frodo felt a little of the tightness in his heart ease. "Thank you. I am glad that Bilbo has made such a good friend in you."
"But you and I have something in common, as well."
"You and I?" What could he have in common with this ancient and immensely wise person?
"Yes, for both of us were raised by those we thought of as 'uncles', though they were not."
Frodo's eyes widened, as he suddenly recalled his First Age history. "Oh!"
The Elf put a hand upon Frodo's shoulder and pointed upwards to the sky, where Eärendil rode high. "That is all I know of my father. I cannot recall much of him, he was so often and so long away even before the calamity that befell us. I remember my mother somewhat more. But Maglor and Maedhros had spared us and took us in. Maedhros we saw but seldom: he was distant but courteous, and though he showed no outward affection, he sometimes deigned to teach us. Maglor, though, was as a father to us. He it was who endured our childhood mishaps. At first we were afraid of him, but he eventually won us over, with music to start, for we were very young. Elros resisted him longer than I, for he felt it would betray our own parents to love the one who had driven them away. Yet even he came to love our foster father in time." His eyes grew distant with memory, and Frodo realised that it must be rare for him to speak of those days.
"I resisted my Uncle Saradoc and Aunt Esmeralda; I did love them, but not as much as they deserved. I tried not to show them the kind of affection I would have given my parents; I did feel it would be a betrayal. I never could resist Uncle Bilbo, though, I suppose because he was not always there at first. By the time I went away to live with him, I understood things a little better. Besides, we always had seemed to have so much in common, even when I was very small and he came to visit my parents."
"I could tell from the first time I met you that you and Bilbo were kindred spirits. But I had heard much of you over the years--he often found excuse to boast of you, and I know that he missed you greatly, more really than he missed the Shire or his home." His hand tightened slightly on Frodo's shoulder, and he looked down with a twinkle in his eye. "Had I a silver penny for every time I heard the phrase 'Frodo is the finest hobbit in the Shire' over the years, my coffers would overflow!"
Frodo blushed to the tips of his ears. "Bilbo was good for me. He did not hover over me or seem to worry overmuch the way my Brandybuck kin had always done. I understood later that he was simply better at hiding his worry. But in many ways he treated me more as a friend and companion rather than a child, and I responded well to that. After he left, the thing I missed most was our long rambles as we spoke of so many different things that most hobbits never cared about it."
"I missed the songs. Our evenings were always ended by Maglor's music, as he played and sang to us. He was a bard beyond compare, and I shall never forget the sound of his voice."
Frodo looked up shrewdly, with a twinkle in his own eye. "Is that why you have music in the Hall of Fire every evening?"
Elrond laughed outright. "Bilbo is quite right. You are a hobbit of exceptional intelligence! Shall we join the others there now?"
As the two of them walked back in that direction, Frodo could not help but think how lucky Bilbo was to have found such a staunch friend in the Last Homely House.
Fathers of the Heart