Written for the There and Back Again Impersonal Love challenge. Beta by RiverOtter.
It is difficult, this letting go of what he loves. Here in Bag End he has known the joy of family and the contentment of self-acceptance. He came of age here, and had thought to remain here for the rest of his life--or at least until the desire to be with Bilbo again took him too strongly to withstand at last.
He steels himself, for he knows that it must be done. He looks up at his lawyer Brendi with what he hopes is an expression of quiet competence and sets himself to the task of signing the bill of sale. As of midnight, there between his birthday of September twenty-second and the day following, Bag End will belong to Lotho Sackville-Baggins and his detestable mother. How he can do this to the hole he’s loved so he doesn’t know; but he prays they will do well by the place.
His hand is--almost--steady as he affixes his signature.
Paladin Took, signing as one of the witnesses for Frodo, has a stern, disapproving expression as he affixes his signature to the document. Well, at least it’s not the disbelieving stare he’d shown when Frodo had tried lamely to explain how he’d indeed come to the end of the fortune Bilbo had brought home from parts unknown along with tales of dragons and huge spiders and battles involving five armies.
Odo Proudfoot pauses before signing, giving Frodo one of his best “you are only doing this to prove you’re as cracked as he was” stares.
Griffo Boffin glances briefly at him both before and after adding his own signature, and unconsciously tries to wipe away the stain of having signed his name to such an abomination on the legs of his trousers.
Merry Brandybuck signs next, his expression unreadable. He scrawls his signature as swiftly as possible, as if hurrying to complete such a disagreeable task. Setting down the pen, he steps back as if trying to distance himself from the act he’s just witnessed.
Lotho’s smile twists one side of his face. Triumph at last for him and his family, if belatedly for Otho, gone these many years! Bartolo Bracegirdle, Lobelia’s lawyer, signs as one of his witnesses, and somehow appears no happier to be signing this bill of sale than are any of those signing for Frodo Baggins. Rico Clayhanger signs also as a witness, but due to his friendship for Bartolo and his relationship by marriage to Frodo Baggins, not truly for Lotho’s sake. Not even Benlo Bracegirdle, as Lobelia’s family head, appears particularly happy to be signing the document.
Finally the bill of sale is presented to Lobelia, whose face alone shows true satisfaction as she prepares to sign her own name on the indicated line. As she finishes her final curlicue, as spidery in its own way as ever Bilbo’s had ever been, she finally lifts her eyes to meet those of Frodo.
Somehow, in spite of the satisfaction he sees there, he feels relieved, for he knows that, in her special way, Lobelia loves this smial as much as he does--has loved the idea of owning it for far longer than he’s been alive.
May she do well by it, he thinks again as he nods to Brendi to present the document to Lotho’s lawyer Timono. But his heart still breaks.
What else of all I love will I be asked to sacrifice ere this is done? he wonders.