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Ancestress  by Dreamflower


Chapter Seventy: The Burglar Steals Away

For a few days Bilbo dwelt in a calm and cheerful lassitude, eating little but tea and toast, mostly sleeping. Frodo spent most of that time sitting by his beloved cousin's bedside, studying Bilbo's face, holding his hand, and remembering the times they'd had together.

When visitors arrived, Bilbo would rouse, sending Frodo away to spend time closeted alone with Adamanta, or Elrond, or Celebrian or Galadriel, but most of all Gandalf. Frodo suspected he was the subject of conversation and that in spite of their talk, that Bilbo still worried about what would come of him once he was alone. Truthfully, Frodo knew it would be difficult.

When Bilbo sent him off, he would wander down to the shore and stare out over the changing Sea. More than any time since his earliest habitation on the Blessed Isle, he missed the Shire. Most of all he missed his friends, and longed for Merry's stout protectiveness, Pippin's indomitable optimism, Rose's gentle care, Elanor's bright smile--and most of all, for Sam's loyal and sturdy understanding.

He returned one day to find all their closest friends gathered. "How old am I, Gandalf?" Bilbo whispered.

"It was exactly one-hundred years ago today that you ran out of Bag End's door without so much as a handkerchief." Gandalf's smile was sad.

Frodo went over and clambered onto the bed at Bilbo's side, and put his arm around the frail shoulders, and drew him into his embrace.

Bilbo looked into Frodo's face. "I'm uncommonly proud of you, my child," he whispered. He closed his eyes, and leaned against Frodo. Frodo brushed back the wispy white curls from his brow.

Suddenly, Bilbo opened his eyes and smiling, clearly said: "I think I'm ready for another adventure!" His breathing slowed, his eyes closed, and he was gone.

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