Passing Regrets

Author: Ariel

Nominator: Budgielover

2006 Award Category: Races: Hobbits: Pre-Quest - First Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: The very first meeting of Frodo and Bilbo. Even a confirmed old bachelor can see there is something incredibly special about this unique boy.

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Reviewed by: Mechtild  ✧  Score: 10

What a great story! I’ve read many stories of Frodo’s early childhood, often depicting it as dreary or even downright terrible, but you seem to have hit the right note. This story of what it was like for Frodo growing up, with loving, normal hobbit parents, with [a thoroughly enchanted] Bilbo looking on, seems right on the money in terms of what I read in canon. Bilbo’s first sight of Frodo: I loved the vision of the toddler: [“He walked very deliberately as he clung to his nurse's hand, tottering a bit as if he were still learning the craft, and drinking in the sights and sounds of the celebration. Primula gathered him up and straddled him expertly over her hip as she rejoined her husband at the edge of the circle of hobbits under the party tree. The boy didn't make a sound as the Bagginses dutifully greeted him. His little face had a look, not of fear, but of serious deliberation, as if he were busily memorizing every name and face for later evaluation. Bilbo chuckled and rose lightly to his feet, setting himself in line to greet the newest Baggins lad.”] I can just see him. At first I thought you were going to paint Frodo as too humourless, too serious a child, but then you included Primula’s cautions to Bilbo about what her son would be like once he began to feel more familiar and comfortable in his new settings. Then, she warned with a twinkle, he’d be a terror! Which only made Bilbo want to see this “hellion” in action, I am sure. That Bilbo should be won by the child’s smile -- “like a beacon” (ah, that “spark” Tolkien spoke of!) -- said more about Bilbo, perhaps, than about Frodo. Your picture of young Frodo as highly observant, and observing, makes so much sense considering the sort of person he turns out to be, the hobbit who was chosen to bear the Ring, and who recorded the tale of many in The Red Book. If he were not a child who paid attention, who watched, from an early age, how would he have gathered the material that would become the saga of LotR? How would he have survived in the first place? [“And, in turn, the boy stared at him. Bilbo felt himself being weighed and measured, catalogued and judged by this studious little fellow. So intense was the feeling that Bilbo would not have been surprised if the boy had opened his mouth and spoken, in a clear and adult voice, the words of fair greeting.”] You are not just describing a “precocious” child, but an arresting child. Your little Frodo is so – immediate, so direct – in his interactions. I love that. What a shame he will have to veil it all when he is older, if only out of self-protection. I’m going to quote a long section here, even though I know it counts as no points at all, simply because the sequence is so brilliant, and because it moved me so much (and I could quote many more snippets). Bilbo makes so bold as to ask if he might hold Frodo. Primula teases him for his wish (like “the ladies”), but hands him over the table. [“Frodo looked at him even more intently when he realized he was being handed over, his piercing eyes raking over Bilbo’s frame. Whatever he saw seemed to satisfy him, however, and he settled against the older hobbit without a backward glance. Bilbo sat back down with the child nestled in the crook of his arm.”] Bilbo had better watch out! No one, not even an eighty-year-old bachelor hobbit, can be assessed by a pet or a child and found acceptable, and not turn to putty. [“He wasn’t as light as his small body suggested and Bilbo’s respect for Primula’s handicapped grace increased. He was a solid child for all his softly padded curves, and Bilbo could feel the surging mischievous energy that swirled just under the surface.”] It may seem like an innocuous paragraph about how “cute” Frodo is, and what a dear little bum he would have had, but I read it as a statement of Frodo’s future mettle. He’s pretty, he’s unique (yes, that ubiquitous word, “Elvish”), but, as you say, he’s unexpectedly solid, with lots of fire underneath his peaches-and-cream exterior. [“Once in Bilbo’s arms, Frodo seemed to realize he was once again within range of the mugs on the table and he reached for them. “Oh, you are a thirsty thing!” Bilbo chuckled. “Here, this one has some cool cider left. Would that do you?” He reached for the indicated cup and gave it to the tyke. Frodo wrapped his small hands around it and began to drink with gusto. He paused once, seemingly to breathe, and then finished off the cup, panting afterwards as if he’d just run a race.”] Again, it seems like a harmless observation on perpetually thirsty and hungry children, but I read it as a statement about Frodo’s ardour and zest, his appetite for life, and his will to have what he wanted to have, which only makes his fate more grave. [“Easy there! You were thirsty, weren’t you! There now, Uncle Bilbo will have your father get you some more of this.” He looked up, searching to where Drogo had gone to see if he could request a cider instead of the shrub. “Beebo?” said the small voice and Bilbo felt a surge run up his spine. The boy dropped the empty cup in his lap and reached up to touch Bilbo’s face, exploring the laugh lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth. Bilbo didn’t move, afraid to disturb the child’s studious investigation.”] That was it. Bilbo was done for. The poke in the eye and the “sweet breath against his cheek” only confirmed it. No other child could have fiddled with Bilbo’s diamond stud or wrinkled his waistcoat and got away with it. This one could and did. This interaction starts a whole train of thought going in Bilbo’s head, all about what he might have missed, not having a child. But Bilbo is a very astute hobbit; he realizes that it isn’t “having a child” that he has missed, but having *this* child. In this passage of your story, you make clear that from this moment on, Bilbo will be watching out for this child, in new-found, unanticipated love.

Reviewed by: este tangletoes  ✧  Score: 10

[Passing regrets by Ariel] This is my favourite wee-Frodo story of all time. I took this wonderful story to my heart the very first time I read it at the beginning of 2005. I have since read it several times and I love it even more now. Ariel’s description of one of my favourite hobbits, Bilbo Baggins, is very believable and well written. Even though it was a great tragedy that Frodo lost both his loving parents, I have always loved the idea of uncle Bilbo taking over the responsibility and the upbringing of - the worst rascal of Buckland. I imagine that it must have been no easy thing for Frodo’s foster parents, Esmeralda and Saradoc, to part with him. It was wonderful to meet Frodo’s parents especially Primula, and discover that she knew, without a doubt, that Frodo would be fond of his uncle Bilbo. A very wise lass. The conversation between Primula and Bilbo was very entertaining. Bilbo’s pangs of regret, for not having children of his own were very real and heartfelt. I was quite moved. Arial’s story made me feel all the sorrows and joys that the characters felt. Well done Ariel! I simply melt when I think of baby Frodo saying 'Beebo?' It’s precisely the way a baby would have difficulty in pronouncing the name. This beautiful warm and touching story of how Bilbo first met Frodo, will always be, for me, exactly how it happened. There is only one complaint that I have, apart from the story being far too short of course, and that is that it is not illustrated.

Reviewed by: Budgielover  ✧  Score: 6

In fanfiction, we are blessed with so many alternative events - but "Passing Regrets" has to be the definitive version of Bilbo and Frodo's first meeting. Written from Bilbo's point of view, we are first charmed and intrigued by Bilbo, then are treated to his thoughts as he meets the newest little Baggins. Bilbo's observations of little Frodo give the reader the feeling of rare confidence, of being privileged to share in something momentous. Through Bilbo's eyes, the author shows us what a special child Frodo is, and how his birth continues something greater than the achievements of a single lifetime. More charming yet is Frodo's reaction to Bilbo. Infused with humor, love, and affection, this story would draw praise from Professor Tolkien himself.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 4

The charm of this story, the lovely characterizations, and sweet events make it almost easy to overlook how perfectly wrought it is. Bilbo's reluctance to disturb "the flow" of his accidentally established peace and the sudden regret at an opportunity not wanted until lost are wonderfullly perceptive, while the characters of Drogo, Primula, and even Dora are very clearly and realistically drawn.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 3

It's delightful and touching to witness how Bilbo's usual disinterest in children is totally overcome by little Frodo. The child is described charmingly perceptive and earnest, already exhibiting many of his later character traits, while at the same time acting according to his age.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

This lovely little vignette of a fauntling Frodo casting a spell of his charm over his Uncle Bilbo is just lovely. The author describes the child in such an appealing manner, and lingers over each of Bilbo's delighted reactions. Bilbo's realization of what it means to love a child as a parent does is a very nice bit of foreshadowing.

Reviewed by: Lily  ✧  Score: 3

This is one of the rare stories focusing on Bilbo. It describes his first meeting of Frodo in such an intimate and affectionate way that you get the feeling of sharing something special. Not only Bilbo is incredibly well done but Frodo is as well. Through the eyes of his elder cousin you see a child that touches not only Bilbo’s but many hearts.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

I'm not a parent but have actually had an experience similar to Bilbo's, and it's magical. You captured it here and gave us a reason why Bilbo would have singled out Frodo as his heir. Nice forecasting of things to come, for both of them -- I can easily see Frodo growing into the character we see in LOTR.

Reviewed by: White Gull  ✧  Score: 2

This was a sweet and wonderful look into Bilbo & Frodo's meeting. I found myself loving Bilbo as I did when I first read "The Hobbit," and that, dear Ariel, is praise indeed.