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Summary: In which Frodo understandably does not have the Yule spirit…
OUT OF THE DARK: FIRST YULE, S.R. 1380
(Frodo is 12, or 7 ½ in Man-years)
“Please go away, Aunt Esme.”
“Frodo, will you not at least light a candle? It can’t be good to lie here in the dark.”
“I don’t care. I like it dark.”
“Frodo, the others are wondering where you are.”
A sigh. “They don’t really care.”
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“No.” But the rumble of a stomach gives lie to that.
A sigh. A click of the door. The sliver of light when Esmeralda held it ajar vanishes.
“I don’t wish to come out to supper, Uncle Saradoc. Please just let me rest.”
“We are worried about you, Frodo.”
“Frodo, you know that you can come join us. We miss you.”
“I miss my Mama and Papa!”
“We will set a tray aside for you, Frodo.” Once more the sliver of light disappears. All is black within the room. The only sound to be heard is of the ticking of a clock in the darkness.
“Uncle Bilbo?” A hesitation. Then “Please go away.”
“I’m coming in, Frodo-lad.”
The sliver of light widens, blocked at the center by the darkness of a moving shape. There is a scent of chicken and of tea. Bilbo moves into the room, and fumbling a bit in the darkness puts a tray upon the night table. Then the sound of a striker, and Frodo gasps, and squints his eyes at the sudden brightness of flame as Bilbo lights the candle there.
Frodo sits up, prepared to argue. But Bilbo is not looking at him, but is pouring out tea into two cups upon the tray. “I brought a bit of chicken soup as well. Your Aunt Amaranth made it.”
Frodo’s stomach rumbles again. “Why are you here? You should be in the side parlor, telling stories.” Bilbo *always* told stories at Yule.
Bilbo hands him a cup of the soup, and Frodo takes a sip before he really means to. He bites his lip.
“I can tell stories later. I’d rather be here with you. Besides, how can I tell stories without my favorite listener at my knee?”
Frodo puts down the cup. “Oh, Uncle Bilbo! It *hurts*! I miss them so much!”
“I know, my lad.”
Bilbo gathers Frodo into his embrace, and Frodo’s sobs into Bilbo’s waistcoat, great wracking sobs, as Bilbo rocks him and pats his back.
“I know, Frodo, I know.”
After a while the storm passes. Bilbo hands Frodo a handkerchief, and Frodo blows his nose.
“I suppose I can eat something now, Uncle.”
“There’s mushroom pie and pork roast and carrots on a tray in the sitting room.”
Frodo nods, and allows Bilbo to lead him from the room.
They close the door behind them, leaving the darkness inside.
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