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Frodo thrust his sword into the growling beast that was about to swallow him whole. His enemy staggered backward, holding his chest and with a howl crashed to the ground. Primula Baggins poked her head around the corner to survey the havoc.
Her five-year-old son was bouncing up and down. “I killed the dragon, Mama! I killed the dragon!”
Primula looked down at the defeated enemy and smiled up at her son. “I see that, sweetling. How brave of you!”
Frodo beamed. He threw his sword aside and pounced on the dragon’s chest. He ran his hands through his father’s curls and kissed his face. “I won, Papa! Wake up and let’s do it again!”
Drogo didn’t move. Frodo kept calling to him and started shaking him and then finally when both he and Primula were getting concerned, and the lad’s lower lip began to tremble as tears began to crawl up his throat, the elder Baggins opened his eyes and grabbed his son with a roar and began to mercilessly tickle him. The little lad shrieked in delight, his fears and tears instantly forgotten. Primula merely shook her head and let them be. Her lad’s giggles followed her in the kitchen where she finished cleaning the dishes. She didn’t think any hobbit could be happier than the three of them were.
“Can we go walking today, Papa?” Frodo asked when Drogo had him firmly in his arms with no wiggle room. “Maybe we’ll see a real dragon or maybe even some Elves!”
Drogo kissed his son’s dark curls. “Maybe. You better make sure you bring your sword.”
Frodo picked up the discarded weapon his father had carved from a fallen tree branch and the two went out together, the lad’s other hand firmly clutched around his father’s.
“My sword needs a name, Papa,” the child said after they had walked awhile through their favorite meadow. “All swords have names, you know,” he added in a very serious tone.
“Of course they do,” Drogo replied in the same tone.
“Uncle Bilbo showed me his sword once. It was made by the Elves and looked real sharp. He wouldn’t let me touch it. He said its name was Sting.” Frodo looked up at his father. “What do you think mine should be called, Papa?”
Drogo looked down at his beautiful son. “Well, I don’t know, how about Dragonslayer?”
Frodo giggled. “That’s me, Papa!”
“Well, you can’t have the same name as Bilbo’s, but how about something like it? Stinger, maybe?”
The child brightened at the thought of his sword having a similar name to his beloved uncle’s. “I like that, Papa!”
“Good, Stinger it is then.”
Frodo beamed and swung his weapon up and down and through the grass and then ran ahead with it, pretending to go into battle once more. He didn’t see the rock in his path, though, and went sprawling to the ground. Drogo ran and caught his son into his arms. Frodo was sniffling, trying not to cry but some tears had already escaped. His breeches were a little grass stained and there were dirt on his hands, but looking the lad over, the elder hobbit did not see any worse damage. He wiped at the tears traveling down his son’s cheeks and at the dirt in his hands, then held him tight against him. “Are you hurt anywhere, sweeting?” he asked.
Frodo held on just as tightly, hiding his head against his father’s chest where he could hear his heartbeat. “No, Papa,” he said.
“Then let’s just rest here awhile while you catch your breath a little.”
Once the pain and shock of the fall had worn off, Frodo lifted his head from his father’s chest and turned around so his back was now against Drogo. He was in no hurry though to leave his father’s arms and settled his own small arms against the elder’s hobbit’s larger ones. From that safe place, the lad looked up at the swiftly moving white clouds in the bright sky.
“Where do the clouds go when they leave the Shire, Papa?” he asked.
“I don’t know, my lad, out into the World, wherever the wind sends them I guess.”
“I wonder what it would be like to be out there. Uncle Bilbo’s told me all about his adventures. I think I would like to go on my own adventure one day.” The child raised his head to look up at his father. “Could you come along too, Papa?”
Drogo looked into those luminous, bottomless blue eyes and smiled. “Of course, dearling. I would love to come with you.”
Frodo beamed. “And we have to bring Mama too. Oh, Papa, it will be so much fun! I don’t think I would like to go alone.”
Drogo kissed the top of his son’s head. “You’ll never be alone, my sweet.”
Frodo squeezed his father’s arms. “I know, Papa.”
“Are you ready to get on home?” the elder hobbit asked after a while. “Mama’s going to have dinner all ready and she’ll be wondering if a dragon ate us or something if you don’t get back soon.”
Frodo giggled. He squirmed out of his father’s arms and picked up his sword. “I don’t think there really are dragons in the Shire, Papa, but I will protect you and Mama from them, just in case.”
“Thank you, my lad.”
Father and son took up each other’s hands again and began the walk home. That night, after eating, they stepped outside and looked up at the stars.
“Where do the stars go when it’s morning, Papa?” the child asked.
Drogo smiled down at his inquisitive child. He wondered where Frodo got all that curiosity, but then remembered there was some Took blood in the mix and there were his Uncle Bilbo’s tales that Frodo always begged to hear.
“I don’t know, my lad. Maybe they are always there, just waiting for their time to shine again. Sometimes it takes a lot of darkness to see the light best.”
The child gave that some serious thought then they went back inside.
That night, Drogo watched his son sleep. The lad’s lips were just slightly parted in sleep, his lush eyelashes lay against his cheeks and there was a faint light shining from within. He was laying on his side, clutching his favorite stuffed bear that Bilbo had given him on their last birthday. Drogo leaned down and kissed his son’s cheek softly.
“Thank you for making me a father,” he murmured. “I love you.”
“Love you, too, Papa,” Frodo murmured very sleepily.
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