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O The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night  by Lindelea

Chapter 15. In which a youthful hobbit musters his courage

Frodo awakened groggy and not sure at first where he was. He sat up slowly, his head spinning in an unaccustomed way. He swung his legs out from under the blanket that covered him - when had he gone to bed? He could not remember.

Instead of jumping to his feet, ready to greet another day of adventure, surprise, and unexpected delights, as had become his habit since Bilbo had taken him in, he sat slumped, staring dully at his legs. At last it occurred to him that he was fully dressed... he’d gone to bed fully dressed, not in a nightshirt, not tucked up between smooth, cool bed linens, under a cosy coverlet. No, he’d been laid down upon a bed, and covered with a blanket, in carelessness or haste.

That might have happened in the old days, in Brandy Hall, where so many had been watching over him that sometimes he’d been overlooked, with aunties assuming that one or the other had seen the poor orphaned lad to his rest. It had been most convenient to be overlooked, at times... especially when the mushrooms were growing thick in old Farmer Maggot’s fields.

Come to think of it, he remembered this groggy feeling, swirling in a dim mist from the past - the day his parents had died... yes, they’d drugged him to insensibility, that first night; they’d sent him off to sleep when it seemed he might never sleep again. And so, seeking to give him relief from pain, someone - likely Bilbo, who’d be looking out for him, or perhaps the healer - someone had dosed that mug of sweetened warmed milk...

Resentful, he shook his head to clear it. They needn’t treat him like a babe! He was a tween, after all, no longer a child, to be cozened and coddled.

And then he ducked his head, to hide the flush of shame that rose in his pale cheeks, for to entertain such thoughts was to be the worst of ungrateful beasts, as Lobelia Sackville-Baggins would say. She’d given the tween quite a lecture on gratitude not long after his arrival at Bag End - he’d been exploring the neighbourhood, to see how different things looked to him now that he was a resident of the area, and not a mere visitor, and he’d not had the wit to duck into the hedgerow on her approach.

He did not want to be an ungrateful beast, with all that Bilbo Baggins had done for him!

No; he’d be strong - yes, that’s what he’d be, strong, a prop and a stay for the old hobbit, in this terrible circumstance.

His heart lurched within him as he thought of the particulars of this particular circumstance - Merry! - an anguished call, that he kept within himself only by the measure of biting his lip until he tasted blood.

He drew a shuddering breath and arose from the bed.

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