Until the Moon Shall Rise

Before the party ended, the door to Brandy Hall was opened, and two figures slipped out into the darkness. Their hands were clasped lovingly, and they appeared to harbour deep affection for one another.

“What do you say we go for a short drift downstream?” whispered a deep male voice. “It is such a perfect night.” He surveyed the sky, dotted with glistening drops of diamond set against velvet blackness. Half of those luminous stars seemed to have fallen into the Brandywine River, mingling with the warm lights of Buckland. The slender feminine figure moved closer to him and sighed.

“We cannot leave Frodo alone much longer,” she said wistfully. The half-sized male laid a finger on her lips.

“It is not often we get a chance like this, Primula. Frodo will be fine, he is sleeping soundly.”

Primula slipped her hand into his and giggled.

“All right Drogo, it is a lovely evening.”

The couple padded down to the boathouse, making very little noise in their hairy hobbit feet. It was very musty inside, for many of the Shire folk were dead against anything connected with large bodies of water. Only some adventurous Bucklanders, mostly Tooks and Bolgers, dared to occasionally venture out on the swift Brandywine.

They had a rather hard time of it; extracting their creaky old dinghy from the crowded shed. But they managed. After passing inspection for leaks or mould by Drogo, the rowboat was set on the glimmering surface of the Brandywine and boarded by the hobbits.

They pushed out into midstream, basking in the fresh breeze that played with their hair and gently licked at their faces, carrying the aromatic pungency of spring; primroses and dank leaves and freshly cut grass, blending with the mild smoky smell of spring burnings.

All was peacefully quiet, except for the murmur of the river and the rhythmic dip of oars on the water. A nightingale sang out sweetly, and a cricket gave a resounding chirp, while ripples of mirth still issued from the inviting colony of Buckland steadily drifting out of sight.

The hobbits sat facing each other, conversing on various matters of little importance but relishing their time alone.

“I really don’t feel comfortable attending these boisterous social gatherings where drunkards infest the place, swearing and talking profanity – and all the women’s talk is centered on what types of flowers to select for the spring gardening retreat,” Primula was saying with a hint of disgust in her voice. Drogo grunted in agreement.

I can’t say I was too pleased with the vittles neither,” he added. “Of course, there’s naught a barrel of beer in the Shire that can surpass that of the Green Dragon.”

Primula laughed – a high tinkly laugh, like a fresh spring of water flowing down the mountain side into the first lights of dawn.

“You and your beer!” she said. “Remember the time when you -” She paused for a moment and leaned out over the gunwale, studying the water ahead intently. It swirled deftly around a black object directly in their path – in the likeness of a protruding log. “Drogo!” she screamed. “Look out!”

Drogo hauled on the oars with all his might, but the river was stronger than he. A sickening grating sound – and a gaping hole in the bottom of the boat. Black water gushed in, depriving the rickety craft of buoyancy. Drogo glanced around desperately. They were stranded smack dab in the middle of a swift current in a sinking boat. Even if they had been able to swim, they certainly would have drowned before reaching either side. Using their hands, mouths, anything they could think of, they scooped water out of the boat – about 1/5 as fast as it was pouring in. They shouted until they were hoarse, but to no avail. No one heard their cries of distress, and the hobbits’ feet were now swamped in water over a foot deep. What could they do? They stood terrified and grieving in an inseparable embrace, waiting for death to do them apart. A stray hound bayed mournfully at the waning moon as they made their last vows to each other.

“I am so sorry that Frodo could never know the love we have for him” Primula sobbed into Drogo’s shoulder. “Perhaps he will be an orphan, stranded and alone, with no one to love or care for him.”

Drogo wept with her. They cried for what was lost, and what could have been.

Old Harrydump Proudfoot was just getting back from a tiring and rather stressful day at the construction site. Of course, he never had the sense or the charm to get married, so it was a cold and empty house he came back to. He lived on the bank of the Brandywine, in a humble cottage on a grassy knoll which commanded an excellent view of the river, although it was a pain to drive all the way into town every morning. On this particular evening, he had stabled the horses, lit a crackling fire in the stove, and was just sitting down to soak his large feet and brush out all the dust and dirt, when he thought he heard a faint cry. It was mournful, yet it carried a sense of urgency and desperation. He muttered something under his breath and strode outside. Surveying the river, he saw nothing. All was peaceful and still.

Shivers ran up and down his spine as an owl hooted eerily. He was a trifle superstitious, and he had heard a rumor that when the owl hoots as the full moon of spring rises, someone has died. The owl screeched again.

At that moment, Harrydump saw a dark blotch come around the corner, riding smoothly along on the current. A few more minutes, and he deciphered it to be a sunken boat. Quite a ratty old thing… was that a hole in the bottom? It was completely empty.

“Folks jist ain’t ceerful ‘nuf ’bout how dey tie der skiffs up,” scoffed Harrydump, quite proud of his own little fishing boat. He stroked his bristly whiskers thoughtfully. “Aww… ah reckon daht scream was jist a mountain lion or sompin; maybe mah ‘magination.”

And so it was that Drogo and Primula Baggins never did experience the joys of parenthood. Their only son Frodo was a small child when they died, and thus had no recollection of it. Having the fortune to later on be adopted by his lonely Uncle Bilbo, he was taken to Bag End in Hobbiton and spent many happy and peaceful days there.

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