In honor of All Saints. Beta by RiverOtter.
There are echoes of old conversations to be heard in the rooms and passageways of Bag End, if one listens closely enough. Frodo Gardner hears them from time to time--has been hearing them all his life.
“I brought you your tea, Master. Where shall I put the tray?”
“How about here? No, wait--I’ll move these books.”
“Shall I open the window for you, Mr. Frodo?”
“Now, tell me the story of this picture you’ve done.”
“It’s to illustrate the story of the lost toys that you were telling to Merry and Pippin last time they were here. See? I have carefully worked the missing toys into the picture of the lad searching for them. Do you see the two wooden sheep? And the spinning top? Oh, good, Bilbo--you found the ball!”
“You left Pippin in Gandalf’s care?”
“Oh, but Bilbo--he had about worn us out! Merry was almost ready to strangle him by the time we got him untangled from the brambleberry vines--and if we didn’t all get nettle stung!”
“You’d best believe it, Mr. Bilbo, sir--we used a fair amount of comfrey and aloe, we did, what with nettle stings and scratches and all! The lad didn’t like feelin’ left out, that was plain enough.”
“But how in Middle Earth do you expect a Wizard will entertain a Hobbit child? I know you two find his tales interesting, but--stars! Gandalf! What are you and the faunt doing with my butter dish and cutlery?”
“Mummy, when will I have a little brother or sister of my own?”
“I don’t know, Bilbo dearling. These things aren’t as easily planned as I’d once thought.”
“There, Belladonna my love--welcome to our new home! And you are the sole mistress here!”
“I wish to see that will!”
“Spoons? He left us spoons? That for his spoons!”
Voices singing, “Hey, ho, to the bottle I go
to heal my heart and drown my woe.
Springs may come and springs may go,
but I still have many miles to go!”
Some days Frodo hears glasses clinking in the empty dining room, or seems to see a group of lads leaning over something lying on the windowsill there while the tallest, who has quite dark hair, murmurs, “Watch now--it’s about to break out!”
He hears contented humming in the bathing room, soft lullabies in the nursery, and cheerful singing in the kitchen. Sometimes he and his family will return from the Free Fair in Michel Delving to smell seedcakes baking in the kitchen and pipe smoke in the parlor, although it will be plain nobody--or no bodies--have been in the smial.
He notices spirited debates at the kitchen table, calm murmurs in the parlor that are always accompanied by the scent of tea or wine, barks of commands in the gardens as well as lads’ laughter, and excited questions in the hallway.
And there in the study, where the past three Masters of Bag End and the Hill spent so much of their time writing, there is almost always the sound of the scratching of quills on paper or vellum.
And Frodo Gardner doesn’t mind--not at all. They are peaceful ghosts, for the most part, ghosts that tie him to the memory of his father and his father’s dearest friends. Indeed, it is a blessing that he is surrounded by them!
And when he sits on the bench outside the door, he often feels his now-absent father join him, always smelling of good loam and Longbottom leaf, or old Mr. Bilbo, who favored Old Toby, or on occasion, Uncle Frodo, who had a secret passion for Goolden Lynch smoked while he sipped from the dwindling store of Old Winyards.
It is difficult for him to say which delights him most.