Written for Marigold's Challenge #36, which required writing about any type of 3rd anniversary, and had to include the elements of a rainstorm, a sprained ankle and Boromir.
Sweet Memories by PipMer
Beta by Marigold and Llinos
Tears slid down the hobbit's cheeks as he reclined on the grassy bank, jug of apple juice on one side, a small basket of sandwiches on the other. The day was very fair; the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was just right. Verdant fields stretched in all directions, dotted here and there with colourful wildflowers. The big willow tree provided enough shade for the maximum comfort of an early afternoon picnic lunch.
The hobbit sitting under this tree was completely unaware of the captivating view surrounding him. His thoughts were lost in the past; three years to the day, to be exact. He had heard it said that the movement of time blunts the pain of memory and loss. But it was not true in this case. The pain lancing through the very core of his being was just as sharp, just as devastating, as the day it had happened. He wondered if it would ever go away, or if it would keep clinging to him like a limpet to the end of his days.
Frodo's blue eyes lost their glazed expression as they focused on the river winding along its appointed path. The Brandywine. For some reason, she never evoked the feelings in Frodo that he thought she should. He should consider her a monster, an uncaring enemy that had snatched his parents from his side and his life forever. Instead, he considered her a pleasant companion to his oft-times melancholy mood. He actually found a semblance of peace when he relaxed by her side, even when that day happened to be the anniversary date of his parents' death. He even went swimming in the river's clear, sparkling waters. One would expect him to be terrified of it, afraid to enter its inexorable current. The fact that his parents had drowned while boating on it had never turned into fear for himself. His guardians at Brandy Hall, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, couldn't understand why he chose to spend this day by the side of the entity that had changed his world forever. Frodo couldn't explain it, because he himself didn't understand.
Most days Frodo couldn't even conjure up images of his parents' faces, despite the short span of years since their deaths. Frodo didn't know whether this fact should concern him or relieve him. He didn't want to forget them; he didn't even have a sibling that would somehow have been a connection to them. Although from rumours he’d heard, he’d soon have a new little cousin that could fill the void in his heart and give him a welcome distraction. Maybe that's why he didn't fear the river; for all that she was the cause of his parents' absence, she also was a reminder of the fact that they had, indeed, existed. That they had loved him fiercely, never withholding affection for any reason, not even when he had been disobedient. He smiled a little to himself; he had, indeed, been quite spoiled.
Unconsciously, Frodo reached into the picnic basket and took out another sandwich. Absently, he started to nibble on it as his memories took him back through his first eleven years. He might not be able to remember their faces, but he remembered other things...more important things. Like the feelings of belonging and comfort when his mother would tuck him into bed at night. Like the pride that had swelled in his chest when his father took him fishing and he had caught his first fish, all by himself.
Remembrance washed over him in waves. He could remember every birthday since the age of three. His parents always made an important occasion out of his birthdays. There were always many relatives invited, even when he was just a faunt. He had many aunts, uncles and cousins, and it always seemed like at least half of them came to his birthday parties. His parents had made it a game to collect mathoms or make presents for all the guests. Ever since he had turned five, Frodo always had a say in every gift that he gave out. And the food.....only the Master's family at Buckland and the Thain's family could best the spread laid out for his parties. It wasn't just because his parents were wealthy, either; they just cherished their son and wanted to make life as enjoyable for him as possible.
Drogo and Primula were always thinking of creative ways to spend time with their only child. Once, when Frodo was eight, Drogo had taken him for a walk along the Hedge that bordered the Old Forest. During this walk, Drogo had told Frodo all kinds of stories about the beings that supposedly lurked in this ancient wood. Not just elves or faeries, mind, but tales of tree-like beings that actually walked and talked! How Frodo had soaked up stories like these. The only person who could tell a story better was his cousin Bilbo.
Ironically, his favourite memory of one of these exciting outings occurred on that day that had ended in unthinkable tragedy. That morning, the three of them had risen early from their beds, had prepared a picnic breakfast, and had hiked up to the top of one of the taller hills surrounding their property to watch the sun rise. Oh, what a sight that had been! The morning fog was just beginning to dissipate as the first rays started peeking over the horizon. The grass had been damp with dew, but that was all right, because the blanket that was spread kept the moisture from causing discomfort. They had watched as the sky slowly dissolved from an inky violet colour into the dark blue of early morning. It had been a cloudless night, and the stars all gradually winked out as the sun rose. Frodo had enjoyed the experience so much, that he had asked if they could do it again the next day. His parents had agreed.....only the next day had never come for them.
Lost in memories, Frodo had failed to notice that the air had become chillier and that the breeze had picked up. Startled, he glanced up and saw the grey clouds gathering and noticed a few drops of moisture in the air. Drat! he swore to himself. How could the weather do that, change so in such a short time? Then he started when he checked his pocket watch. Three whole hours had gone by since he first sat down here! Where had he been all that time? He knew he tended to have his head in the clouds, but still!
Sighing, he gathered up his picnic basket and jug, took a final cursory glance around, then stood up and started back to the Hall. The rain began to fall in earnest, but Frodo didn't run; he liked the feeling of cleansing that the rain gave him as he sedately walked across the field toward his home. The remaining sandwiches would be safe inside the sealed basket; there was no rush.
Boromir was lost in thought as he carried the injured hobbit, careful not to jostle the sprained ankle. Not two days out of Rivendell, Frodo had slipped while trying to fell a rabbit with a large stone for their evening meal. Since haste was essential, Frodo had reluctantly agreed to let one of the Big People carry him until the swelling had gone down enough for him to walk. Boromir didn't mind in the least; he and Frodo had been getting to know each other by telling stories of their respective childhoods. When Boromir had mentioned that he had lost his mother at the tender age of ten, Frodo shared his story of being orphaned at eleven. An instant feeling of kinship between the two had ensued, and the time passed rather pleasantly as Frodo's ankle healed.
This bonding caught Boromir by surprise. When he had first met the hobbits in Rivendell, he had thought them childish, weak and annoying. They didn't seem real, somehow; just characters out of legend. But finding out that he had something in common with at least one of them...the loss of a parent....had put them into perspective for him. Not only were hobbits real, but they had many of the same experiences that men had. Smiling to himself, Boromir realized, not for the last time, that men and hobbits had more in common than met the eye.