In which Frodo gives Bilbo a present.
Morning, Bag End, 22 Halimath 1389
‘Good morning, Uncle Bilbo!’
Bilbo looked up from his desk in his study at Bag End, and smiled at Frodo. ‘Good morning and Happy Birthday, my boy!’ he crowed right back. Frodo dashed across the room to bestow a hug and kiss. Through the closed window could be heard the sound of Hamfast Gamgee whistling and chatting to himself and the plants as he readied the garden to be seen by the birthday guests who would arrive later that day.
They had arrived midevening on the night of Wednesday the nineteenth, to find that Bag End was lighted and had fires in the parlor and kitchen. The trunk full of linens had arrived from Frogmorton that morning, so Ham had concluded, quite properly, that Mister Baggins would be arriving later in the day. Poor Frodo was so exhausted from the tramp that he could barely spare a look at the smial, and gratefully tumbled into bed in the first available guest room, not even bothering to eat supper.
Thursday had been spent deciding which room would be Frodo’s. They spent a space of time discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each room, and Frodo had finally chosen the best bedroom across the hall from Bilbo’s, with a small round window looking out on the gardens, the one his parents had used so long ago. Very carefully, Frodo had unpacked the linens trunk and sorted through them until he had found the bedding he wanted. The lad would do nothing else until he had made the bed just so, had put the crocheted lace covers on the small bedside table and the top of the chest of drawers. He only had a few shirts and trousers to put in the drawers, so the first stop after lunch was the tailor. A fine shirt, some plain but good-quality trousers and a pleasing waistcoat were quickly made up, and an order for more everyday wear was placed. The day concluded with a very large supper to make up for having missed it entirely the night before. Bell Gamgee had sent over a large apple pie as a welcome home gift, and Frodo made short work of most of it. Friday morning had been for sending out invitations for their birthday, then Bilbo spent the afternoon catching up on all his business while Frodo slept.
‘Well, our party shall be a rather small affair this year, Frodo, since we haven’t had time to get you settled in yet,’ Bilbo said, ‘but there will be many more celebrations in days to come. I shall spare us the Sackville-Bagginses. We’ve both had our fill of testy relatives for this week, I believe,’ Frodo sent him a grateful look, ‘so it shall just be the families along Bagshot Row, and they shan’t stay for too long. The Gamgees have quite a mix of youngsters to meet, as do the Rumbles, and there will be a number of adults who will all poke and prod at you. You, know, check your teeth, look in your eyes, have you trot up and down a few times to see if you’re sound.’ Frodo was laughing a bit at the description, but he did not look quite relaxed.
‘Frodo, we needn’t have a party if you’re not up to meeting people yet,’ Bilbo said quietly.
Frodo shook his head, ‘It’s all right, Uncle Bilbo. I’ll be fine. I just don’t have birthday presents for everyone.’
‘Neither do I, but we shall serve a fine meal and give presents later when we’re more settled. These are good folk. They’ll understand.’ Frodo looked quite embarrassed now. ‘What is it, lad? Spit it out!’
‘I don’t have a present for you, uncle,’ Frodo said sheepishly. ‘You gave me that beautiful pipe and I was still trying to think of what to give you. I was going to make something, and then there wasn’t time.’
Bilbo looked down at the thick letter that had arrived from the morning Messenger. ‘Well, if you will, Frodo, there is something I would very much like to have as a present from you.’
‘Your permission.’ Frodo looked at Bilbo, more confused than ever. Bilbo laughed and leaned back against his desk. ‘I just received something by Messenger, Frodo, and I would like your permission to complete a document.’ He turned and picked up the paper from the desk and handed it to his boy.
Frodo read it over, delight spreading across his face. ‘These are adoption papers,’ he said slowly, ‘for me.’
‘I would like your permission for me to complete the papers, and formally adopt you as my child and heir, Frodo,’ Bilbo quietly said.
‘I’ll be yours and no one can take me away, can they?’ Frodo asked, very serious.
‘Yes, and no one can take you away.’
Frodo thrust the paper back at him. ‘Yes! Sign it! Sign it at once!’
Bilbo took the paper back with a grin and set it on the leather writing pad. He selected his finest fountain pen, which he had spent the morning carefully cleaning, and opened a small pot of ink that shimmered gold in the light that came in the window.
‘Dwarves brought this ink from Rivendell for me, about a year ago,’ Bilbo informed Frodo as he carefully filled the pen with the ink, ‘and I have been waiting for just the right occasion on which to make use of it. I think this is the perfect one.’ He carefully laid out the original document and a copy, to be sent to Rory, and signed each in the best hand he could manage. He capped the pen and handed it to Frodo.
‘One more present for you.’ He threw an arm around his boy’s shoulders, and they went out to see their garden.