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Fifty years… it was so odd how the second fifty went faster than the first. The land had changed little—if anything, it had gotten more beautiful, but Frodo thought that that came with perspective more than anything else.
He had insisted on riding ahead of the rest of the train, just for this. He knew there would be a great party, filled with too many titles and speeches and rather embarrassing compliments—but he knew, deep down, that this was exactly what everyone else wanted and needed, and if honouring him made them happy—well, so be it.
But for now he could slip back in time, just a little. He dismounted his pony and walked the rest of the way, ignoring the creaks in his bones.
Elanor answered the door. Somehow, despite her age and the children she had borne, she still possessed the uncanny grace that Sam had sworn was the gift of the elves.
Then an entire troop of Gamgees spilled out the door, and soon they were all caught up in reunions. He only greeted Sam briefly; enough had passed between them that few words were needed.
They let him settle into the guest room (Sam did remark at that, but Frodo reminded him that his earliest memories of Bag End were in a guest room). His cousins arrived later. They had bought out all the inns in Bywater, Bag End being filled to the rafters already. The rest of the retinue camped in the Party Field, and all throughout the day many a hobbit flocked to see the spectacle of a King who had traveled leagues upon leagues to honour the Shire’s most famous son in his old home.
The next day the feasting lasted all day, and there were many, many speeches. Frodo refused to give any beyond a simple “Thank you,” “I am humbled,” and “You are clearly neglecting to mention the important part Sam (or Gollum, or anyone that he had ever met on his travels) played in this.”
At last, after supper, the King himself arose, and spoke for a goodly time about the importance of the small and the weak in the grand schemes of the world. He had just finished when Bilbo Gamgee pointed down the road and cried, “Look!”
There, in the distance, walking towards them and pulling a cart, was a very old man in a grey cloak and a blue hat. “Gandalf?” said Frodo.
“I thought,” said Gandalf, when he had finally made his way to the party, “that it would be fitting to assume an old guise.”
And for the first time in seventy-five years, the Shire was treated to a grand display of fireworks.
In order to fulfill the prompt, I borrowed (with permission) Dreamflower's Eucatastrophe AU, in which the Straight Road is opened two ways. In her take, Frodo is able to sail back after getting some perspective in the West, and subsequently retires to Gondor.
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