Author name: Dreamflower The Search for the Perfect Gift
Recipient's name: Larner
Title: The Search for the Perfect Gift
Request: "I'd love to see Frodo asking for advice regarding the best Yule present to give someone he loves, and receiving absolutely the worst suggestions possible." (I hope this fills your request, even though some of the suggestions aren't awful. Just not right.)
Author's notes: This story is a drabble set of nineteen 100 word drabbles, not including the titles, sub-titles or drabble numbers. Frodo is 21, just entering adolescence for hobbits, while Sam and Folco are nine, about the maturity of a human 6-year-old, but with three years of extra experience.
Summary: Frodo worries about the perfect Yule gift for Uncle Bilbo, now that he's been adopted by him.
For the first time ever in his young life, Frodo Baggins was stumped about giving a gift. He wanted his gift for Uncle Bilbo to be absolutely perfect this year. Of course, he knew that Bilbo would love anything Frodo gave him, simply because it came from him, but this year was special. This year, Uncle Bilbo had adopted him, made him his heir, and given him a brand new life in Bag End. He wanted to show his beloved cousin just how much that all had meant to him. So whatever it was had to be absolutely perfect.
He hoped his quest could be filled before he and Bilbo left for Buckland. But every idea he'd thought of was something he'd done before. In the past, he had painted pictures, he'd written poems, he'd purchased Bilbo journals and penknives and stationary of all sorts. What could he do that was new? He had more pocket money to spend than ever before, since he was getting a generous allowance from Bilbo and the stipend he was now being allowed from his parent's inheritance. But it was so hard to think of something worthy of being the perfect gift this year.
Frodo needed some advice, and since to ask Bilbo himself would spoil the surprise, he would have to ask other people who knew his cousin well. Aunt Dora! She had known Bilbo for a very long time, since she and her family had moved into Greenbriars back when she was a very young child and she was Bilbo's first cousin, twice removed. And she was Frodo's own aunt, after all. He threw on his jacket, and popped his head into the study. "I'm going down the Hill to visit Aunt Dora, Uncle Bilbo!"
"That's nice, Frodo. Give her my greetings."
"Why, Frodo! What a pleasant surprise!" Aunt Dora opened the door."Come in!" She gave him a brief embrace, and a kiss on the cheek. "It's nice to see you!"
"I need advice, Aunt Dora. I want to find the perfect Yule gift for Uncle Bilbo!"
"How thoughtful! Let me think while we have tea!"
She led him into the parlour, and he found himself plied with tea and cakes, and listened to her talk.
Finally, she snapped her fingers! "Cousin Bilbo loves books!" She went to her bookshelf fetching him an old leatherbound volume. "This book is by Great-great-grandmother Berylla..."
The two of them finished their visit. Frodo left thinking he should visit Aunt Dora more often on his own, rather than just once a week with Bilbo. He was sure Uncle Bilbo would cherish a book written by his Great-great-grandmother. But was it really the perfect gift? He flipped it open, to see what she had written.
Oh dear! This book was full of old-fashioned advice. He opened it at random, "Do not let a sick person read, as it is too great a tax on the sight and brain..."* Bilbo would find this funny, but it wasn't perfect!
Number 3 Bagshot Row
Who else could he ask? Not Uncle Dudo. All he wanted to speak of were his own ailments and illnesses. As Frodo trod up the Hill, he passed Number 3. The Gaffer and Mistress Bell might have ideas!
The Gaffer was harvesting turnips but stopped at Frodo's query. "Well now, Master Frodo, Mr. Bilbo is right fond o' his garden. Mayhap you could order him seed for some o' them fancy herbs and flowers he favors. He's right fond o' tomatoes, you know. Or some o' them bright-colored hollyhocks. If you order 'em now, you'd surely have 'em by Yule!"
Frodo gave a nod, and went over where Bell was hanging laundry. "Mistress Bell, do you have any idea of what would be a perfect gift for Uncle Bilbo this Yule?"
She gave him a motherly smile. "Why, Master Frodo! He always thinks your gifts are perfect! Whatever you give 'im will be just right!" Frodo sighed. It was nice to hear, but it wasn't really useful. She saw his disappointment. "I know. You come down here and help me bake some o' them sweet biscuits shaped like mushrooms!"
Frodo shook his head. "Those are your special gifts, Mistress Bell."
He found Sam laying mulch on the herbs by the smial's front door. "Well, Mr. Frodo, I learnt how to force bulbs. I could do up some daffodils or some crocus for you!"
"Why don't you do that anyway, Sam! He'd love it if you gave that to him."
Sam blushed. "Would he really. Mr. Frodo? But you and Mr. Bilbo go to Buckland at Yule!"
"That's true! But I could tag it with your name, and then when it's Yule, I can give them to him and say that they are from you."
The child grinned. "Thanks, Mr. Frodo!"
Journey to Buckland
Frodo ended up talking to several people in Hobbiton and Bywater in his quest for the perfect gift, but all he learned from them was what they thought of as the perfect gift. Most of these ideas were not dreadful, but while Bilbo might like them, they would not be just right for him. Bilbo's gift needed to be special and perfect. Still, their ideas were kind, so Frodo offered to give Bilbo those things from each person who suggested it. The days flew by, and nothing Frodo thought of was good enough to be his perfect gift to Bilbo.
The day finally came to head off to Buckland, and still Frodo didn't have the gift. He did, however, have many gifts from all those who he had talked to, sealed up in a large wooden crate.
"What do you have there, lad?" Bilbo asked as they loaded their things into the trap that Bilbo had hired for their journey.
"Never you mind, Uncle, it's Yule!"
Off they drove. They would make good time, stopping for the night in the Yale, at the home of the Boffin cousins and their lad Folco, who was about the same age as Sam.
Cousin Daisy and her husband greeted their guests enthusiastically, and hauled Bilbo off so they could hear all the latest gossip from Hobbiton. Bilbo also had greetings from her father Dudo, who lived in Hobbiton with Aunt Dora.
Folco was glad to see Frodo. He was a cheerful, generous lad, but had the habit of blurting out the truth, when it would've been better to stay silent.
"Do you want to watch me wrap presents?" he asked Frodo.
Nodding, Frodo followed him to his room. There were several packets bundled in paper and tied up with twine on his bed.
"There's one for you and for Cousin Bilbo," he said. They were labeled rather messily. "I gave him pocket handkerchiefs because he didn't have any on his Adventure...oops! I shouldn't have said that."
Frodo noticed Folco wrapping a small penny-whistle. "Isn't that your favorite toy?"
Folco nodded. "It's for Merry."
"Don't you like it anymore?"
"I do like it. I wouldn't give it away if I didn't."
"Why do you say that, Folco?" Frodo was puzzled. Much as he loved Merry, he couldn't imagine him giving away his favorite toy.
"Because that's how you know they'll like it, of course."
Yule in Brandy Hall
They arrived at Buckland in the midst of a flurry of snow. Merry was waiting for them on top of the fence near the lane. He jumped down and pelted into the road, scarcely waiting for the trap to stop before he scrambled up to hug Frodo fiercely. "I missed you, Frodo," he said into his cousin's waistcoat.
"I missed you, too, Sprout." He ruffled the sandy curls and drew Merry up into a warm embrace.
Merry glanced over at Bilbo. "Hullo, Cousin Bilbo. Thank you for bringing Frodo to me."
Bilbo laughed and turned the trap towards Brandy Hall.
After the greetings from his numerous kin who resided in Brandy Hall, went to his old room in Uncle Saradoc and Aunt Esmeralda's quarters. It was now a guest room. While the furniture was the same, the bedding and pillows were new, for he had taken his away to Bag End. Some of his possessions were still there, stored in the old wardrobe. He pulled out a box, placing it on the floor as he looked through it. These were mostly early childhood things that he couldn't bear to part with, and they would return to Bag End with him.
He searched through it and found a folder. This was just the perfect thing. It would be the perfect gift, with just a little help from one of his cousins. His heart gave a clench. It would be a wrench to give it up, but Folco's advice had been the best of all, even if the child hadn't known he was giving any. He took the folder, and when the coast was clear, he headed to the upper levels of Brandy Hall and tapped on a door.
His cousin grinned when she saw him. "Frodo! How delightful!"
"Hullo, Cousin Calla..."
Bilbo looked astonished at the box Frodo had brought out for him. "Bless my buttons, lad!" Looking in at the many packages and parcels, he was quite flummoxed. "Surely you didn't get all that for me?"
"No. These are from some of your friends and kin who wished you to have these gifts here on Yule." He pulled out one wrapped package. "This one was the first, from Aunt Dora."
Bilbo felt it. Surely it was a book, and not one of his elderly cousin's bits of needlework, as was her usual wont. He opened it, and laughed. "Oh my!"
There was a tin with several of Bell Gamgee's mushroom-shaped sugar biscuits, and another with one of Lily Cotton's superb fruit cakes; there was a bowl filled with soil, and the tips of crocus bulbs peeking out from young Samwise; a package was filled with handkerchiefs from little Folco Boffin; the Hobbiton stationer had given him a new journal; the healer Mistress Salvia had given him some sachets of herbs to help when he could not sleep; from the seamstress who did his mending was a new linen pillowslip. He came to the bottom. "Where is one from you, Frodo?"
Frodo had something behind his back, wrapped in muslin, tied with ribbon, rectangular and flat. Bilbo smiled; he was always pleased with a piece of Frodo's artwork. He untied the ribbon and let the fabric fall away. "Frodo!" He was shocked. This was one of Frodo's prized possessions, one they had planned to take home. In one half of the frame was a Calla Brandybuck watercolor: Drogo and Primula, with Frodo between them--he appeared just out of faunthood. On the other side was a more amateurish version of the same painting, one of Frodo's efforts when he was about fourteen.
Bilbo was touched beyond belief, but surely Frodo didn't mean to give this to him. It was the only picture of his parents and him, so far as Bilbo knew. "Frodo, you can't mean me to have this! It's one of your most cherished things."
Frodo looked at him seriously. "Oh yes I do. A very wise person showed me that the things you like the most are the best things you can give to people you love, because if you love it, they will, too."
"Well, that does sound like someone wise. It's absolutely perfect."
Frodo's face lit up.