This is just a little bit of humor I've had in the back of my mind for a while, and it is still in the process of fully developing, so stay tuned for more chapters!
Thank you to Dreamflower for her lovely Hobbit-to-Man years age chart! Goldie and Fair are five years old in this story, or three in human years, Elanor is around eighteen (twelve in human years), and Hamfast is about two (a little over a year in human terms).
Slight changes I have made to canon:
1.) The children's ages do not follow those in the Appedicies.
2.) Like my other stories, I have "omitted" Sam and Rose's children by the names of Frodo, Rose, Merry, and Pippin, because it just gets too confusing with the names. We go right from Elanor to Goldilocks, and then on to Hamfast. In this particular story, Rose is pregnant with Daisy.
3. Like my other stories, this fic operates on the assumption that Frodo has returned to the Shire after a brief stay in Valinor.
Now that the notes are out of the way, I hope you enjoy "The Bachelors Babysit"! Please, please review- they absolutely make my day!
Thanks a bunch!
The magnificent late afternoon sun is just beginning to slip down past the horizon as I see it from my place behind Sam’s tree. I lean my back against the tree and inhale deeply- the cool, evening spring air washes through my lungs like a cleansing rain. It’s wonderfully peaceful here- although want of peace was not the reason I came here in the first place.
I’m on the run, you see, or in hiding would be an even better description. My momentary vision of peace is shattered when I hear the voice of she who seeks me, and I know that all hope is lost when those two words reach my ears.
The next thing I know, my arms are full the little girl, all golden curls and blue eyes, and squealing with joy.
“Oh, Goldie, you found me! What a smart little lass you are!” I laugh and toss her in the air. For some reason, this does not seem to scare her as one would think it would a Gamgee child. This still amazes her father.
I’m getting all set for my turn to count at the game of hide-and-go-seek when Rose comes to collect her daughter to clean her up for dinner. Goldilocks looks for a moment like she’s going to pout about this, but a stern look from her mother is all it takes to squelch this idea. I wave goodbye to her, as though I’m not going to see her again in less than ten minutes. She smiles that adorable little smile possessed only by five-year-old Hobbits and waves back.
I figure I have time to give the ponies their grain if I hurry. I’m just reaching to scoop some into a bucket when I hear a giggle coming from behind the feed bin. I smile when I recognize the voice.
“Now, what was that?” I muse aloud in mock wonderment.
Another giggle, less concealed this time.
“I think someone might be hiding behind the feed bin. I wonder who it could be.” Still more giggles. I freeze, and then suddenly drop to my knees in order to see in between the feed bin and the wall. The giggler squeaks with surprise and dashes out from the gap on the other side of the bin. I leap to my feet to give chase, but stop when I see that he has already been apprehended by another. This other scoops him up into his arms before the little one can run away again.
“There you are, Faramir, you little rascal! What were you doing hiding from your da like that? You could have very well missed dinner!”
The lad’s smile vanishes and is replaced with an expression of pure horror at this prospect. I have to stuff a fist in my mouth to hold back my laughter. Pippin glances upward at me, emerald eyes twinkling, and then looks back down at the little boy in his arms.
“It’s a good thing Frodo found you and kept that from happening, now, isn’t it?”
Fair gives a vigorous nod, his green eyes still wide as he considers what might have come of his actions.
“Well, then, don’t you suppose you ought to thank him?”
The child’s face scrunches up in deep concentration as he considers the best course of action. Pippin raises an eyebrow- apparently the answer to this question is not so obvious as he thought. The sight of the vibrant, joyful little lad who I had watched grow up, chased through the fields, and looked after on numerous adventures, now playing the role of the father and trying so very, very hard to be stern is enough to nullify all my inhibitions. I burst into fits of hysterical laughter which are only amplified by the looks Pippin is shooting me that are telling me that I am in no way helping matters.
Fair’s little face suddenly lights up in a grin. He wriggles free of his father’s grasp, runs over to me, flings his arms about my neck and exclaims,
“Fank you, Fwo!”
We’re both laughing now, Pippin and I. But I get a glimpse of his eyes as I hand his son back to him- the humor in them doesn’t quite overwhelm the relief. It makes me wonder just how long little Fair had been hiding behind that feed bin.
I give Cheyanna and Bill, as well as their guests, Cratez and Lema, their long-awaited dinner and start back to the house with Pippin and Fair, who is now nestled comfortably in his father’s arms. He’s smaller than most children his age, much like Pippin had always been, so my little cousin can carry him comfortably.
When everyone is sitting at the dinner table, there are eight of us in all- Sam, Rosie, Goldie, Merry, Pippin, Diamond, Fair, and me. Elanor is spending the night at Freddie Bolger’s house, as she and his daughter Lila are quite good friends, and baby Hamfast is asleep in his cradle.
The Tooks and Merry are spending two weeks at Bag End this spring. I was so glad that they were finally able to come, as I hadn’t seen nearly enough of them since my return from Valinor. We had tried numerous times, of course, to get together for extended periods of time, but Faramir kept Pippin rather preoccupied, and Merry was reluctant to come without his best friend.
The littlest Took has now picked up his piece of bread and is waving it in the air like it is a bird, making “whoosh” sounds as he makes it swoop. Goldie watches this routine with interest from across the table, and soon there are two bread-birds flying over Bag End’s dinner table. Diamond and Rosie soon catch on and this form of amusement is quickly put to an end.
I lean over to Merry, beside me, nod toward the undaunted auburn-haired lad who is searching his plate for a new toy, and whisper,
“Doesn’t he just remind you of…”
He rolls his eyes and gives a shake of his golden-brown curls. “Don’t even say it.” He’s chuckling though, obviously lost in his own memories of the developmental days of our favorite little cousin.
Come to think of it, said favorite little cousin doesn’t exactly look like his usual cheery self. Actually, he looks slightly exhausted and rather stressed. So does his wife. Now, I’ve never had children of my own, and certainly not Took children, but I don’t think I’m going out on too large of a limb when I conjecture that their lack of enthusiasm has something to do with the little boy who has now turned his mashed potatoes and string beans into a horse and cart.
I glance over at Sam and Rosie and realize that they, too, share the same tired and exasperated look that Pippin and Diamond are exhibiting. Although perhaps Rosie’s has something to do with the fact that she is four months pregnant, I do believe that perhaps little Goldie, currently the biggest handful of the three Gamgee children, is causing her parents some grief. Right at this particular moment, for example, she is ogling her own string beans, obviously considering how they would look as a necklace.
I lean over to Merry again and whisper, “I think they could use some time off.”
He doesn’t meet my gaze- private conspiracies are generally looked down upon at Bag End, especially if they are made at the dinner table. Discovery could be fatal to our mission. But I can tell his mind is working about three thousand leagues per minute. But then again, when is it not?
With the children occupied with inventing a new food game each time the previous one is vanquished, their tired parents having lapsed into an exhausted silence, and Merry and I deep in thought, there is a lull in the general noise at the table. Then suddenly, quite out of the blue, Merry turns to me and inquires,
“Say, Frodo, have you had the chance to try that new restaurant that Digo Chubb has opened up?”
I look at him for a moment like he’s got two heads. But then I see that familiar mischievous expression in his blue eyes, the one he always gets when he’s thought of some new ingenious plan or prank. I’m told it’s a trait of the Brandybuck family, like auburn hair and emerald eyes in Tooks or obnoxiousness in Sackville-Bagginses.
“Oh, you mean that really fancy one, The Sprouting Strawberry? No, I haven’t, but I’ve heard the most wonderful stories.”
Merry’s smile widens, and he nods his head, egging me on.
Curse you, you creative little Brandybuck, can’t you think of some of the details to back up your own devious plot? It was a good thing I really had heard stories.
“Like the live entertainment every night, the musicians and such. They’re very talented, I hear.” Rosie and Diamond, both avid music lovers, and Diamond quite the flautist herself, perk up as they listen. So far, so good. I continue.
“And I’ve heard that their apple crumble is the best there is.”
I have Pippin’s full attention now. One mention of apples is all it takes.
Thankfully, Merry’s decided to take it from here.
“Sounds like a wonderful place to relax.”
Sam’s in now. Four for four. Now for the proposition. Merry keeps at it.
“Here’s an idea: Pippin, Sam, why don’t you take Diamond and Rose there for a sort of double-date?”
Pippin’s eyes light up, and I can see Sam’s mind at work behind his distant gaze. Rose and Diamond look slightly concerned, though. Diamond voices both their thoughts.
“That’s a lovely idea, Merry, really, but who would watch the children?”
Rosie nods. “Elanor’s going to be at the Bolgers’ until late tomorrow evening, so she won’t be around to babysit.”
Merry and I shoot a quick glance at each other, and come to a mutual understanding without saying anything. Having grown up for years at Brandy Hall together, we developed this ability some time ago.
I take a deep breath. Here goes nothing.
“Merry and I could watch them for you.”
Rose and Diamond look relieved at this newly unearthed opportunity, and Pippin’s glowing, genuine smile is back. Only Sam looks cautious.
“Are you sure they wouldn’t be too much trouble?”
Merry and I shake our heads vigorously.
Rosie looks over at her husband. “Mum has been saying for quite some time now that she’d be willing to take Ham for an evening. I could take her up on that offer; that way, Frodo and Merry would only have to look after Goldie and Fair.”
Sam studies her face for a moment, and then gives in. “Alright then, if you’re sure. Tomorrow evening, then?”
Merry and I nod our heads this time. All four of them are smiling now. Rose and Diamond are thinking about going to a relaxing restaurant with live music in less than twenty-four hours. Sam is thinking about how glad he is to have made his Rosie happy. Pippin is still thinking about apple crumble.
Merry and I give inward sighs of relief and exchange victorious looks. I then turn my gaze to our charges, who have now abandoned their food games in pursuit of quelling their hunger, and are eating quietly like good little children.
Two children, two adults. One child per adult, for one evening.
How hard could it be?