For the birthday of Anglachel, who wished a story looking at midlife crisis. Beta, as always, by RiverOtter.
“I’ve heard them all these years, Freddy,” Frodo said to his cousin as he and Fatty Bolger fetched another pitcher of ale from the cellar where the barrels of such drink were stored. “Old Odo and cousin Olo, Aunt Wisteria and Cousin Ponto and all--they all think I’ve done nothing but waste my life. Why haven’t I married and settled down? Why do I continue do such foolish things as celebrating Bilbo’s birthday when there’s no proof he’s even alive still? Why do I entertain Gandalf at all, as unsettling an influence as he is?”
He turned to search Fredegar’s eyes. “Half my life already wasted, they tell me. How, they ask me, am I to amount to anything at this time in my life? I’m not young any more, no matter how young I might appear--the candles on my cakes, after all, keep mounting up now!”
He slapped his hand on the beer barrel by which he’d paused, causing Fatty to jump at the unexpected sound. “Well, now I’ve done something at last, and they are all complaining of it! I have sold Bag End and am leaving Hobbiton, and what do I hear? ‘How could you do such a thing--give the Hill to the Sackville-Bagginses when Bilbo made it quite plain he wanted it kept in sensible Baggins hands?!’ The same ones who last week were rejoicing I’m apparently but a few steps above poverty are the very ones now to bemoan my profligacy and how it will affect them! They seem to take it as a personal affront that I have indicated that I will no longer buy my fish and foul from their stands in the marketplace, and that I will purchase my weekly rations of pipeweed in Bucklebury or at the Kingsbridge market from here on out.”
He turned west now, although there was no window in this inner room to look out over the Shire. Now he murmured so low that Fatty had to listen closely to hear, “But, if half my life indeed is spent, perhaps it is I this time who wishes to see something of worth accomplished in what time I have left. It is time, Freddy--time to finally test me to see whether or not it was a mistake I was even created to walk Middle Earth.”
Such words made the Bolger shiver.