Merry's Milestone by Dreamflower

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Author's Chapter Notes:

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Frodo is 17, Merry is 3 ( ages 11 and 20 months in Man years)


MERRY’S MILESTONE

 

It was the aroma that first penetrated Frodo’s consciousness, followed by a small hand insistently patting his face, mostly his cheek, but also his nose. He did not need to open his eyes or hear the urgent little voice insisting “Fwo! Fwo!” to know that Merry was standing by his bed.

“Fwo! Wakey!”

Frodo opened his eyes and found himself staring into a pair of wide grey eyes full of distress and brimming with tears. He sat up at once. “What is it, sprout?”

The little faunt hung his head, and the tears rolled down his cheeks. “ ‘M bad! ‘M bad lad!”

Ah. The aroma. And the drooping nappy, obviously full. Ever since Merry had become a fauntling on his third birthday, his parents and nurse had been trying to teach him to use his chamber pot. He was still too young to use the privy alone, but it was time, Aunt Esme said, for him to be out of nappies.

“Oh, Merry dearest,” Frodo said, giving his little cousin a hug. “you’re not bad. You just need to learn a new thing.” As if the hug and reassurance released a flood, the child began to cry against his older cousin’s chest. “Not bad? Fwo ‘till wuv me?”

“Of course I love you! Come on, let’s get you cleaned up before your mum or Dahlia find out.”

He nodded, and with the expertise of long experience, Frodo scooped him up, and started to go from his room to Merry’s nursery.

Unfortunately, they did not get far.

“Master Merry! I told you to wait in your bed until I brought your breakfast! I’m that sorry, Master Frodo, that he woke you up.”

“I don’t mind, really, Dahlia.”

She shook her head. “You spoil him, Master Frodo. Now he’s learned to climb out of his crib, I don’t know what we’re going to do!” She wrinkled her nose. “And here you are, Master Merry, making a mess again! You know your mum wants you to use the potty!” She reached to take him, but Merry gripped Frodo’s neck in a stranglehold.

“No! Want Fwo!”

Dahlia gave a long suffering sigh, and Frodo gave her a cheeky grin. It tickled him that Merry preferred his company to that of his nursemaid. In truth, he felt a bit smug about it. Sometimes Merry even preferred him to his mum or da--he couldn’t help but feel a little proud of that. After all, “Fwo” had been his first word.

The nanny shrugged, and Frodo followed her the rest of the way into the nursery, and with practiced ease, put the little one on the changing table, and soon had him clean and dry, amid many giggles and tickles. He dropped the soiled nappy into the bucket provided for that purpose, and picked Merry up again, lifting him high over his head, and making him squeal with delight.

“Frodo.”

Frodo gave a start and turned to see Esmeralda standing in the doorway, watching.

“Frodo, as long as you keep this up, he is never going to learn.”

“I’m sorry, Aunt Esme,” he said ruefully.

“I’ve been talking to Mother Menegilda about this problem, and I think we have the solution. And *you* are going to help.”

“You know I’ll do anything to help my Merry, Auntie.”

She smiled at him fondly. “I know you would, Frodo-lad. But this is going to be quite a chore. Take off his nappy.”

Frodo blinked. “But it’s clean!”

“For the next few days, he is to wear no nappy, just a shirt. Every two hours, you will make him sit on the chamber pot for a short while, whether he does anything or not. If he does, you will praise him. If he makes a mess anywhere but his chamber pot, he will have to clean it up, with your help. I don’t expect you to do all of it, you can have a break each afternoon, and Dahlia can handle things. But it is obvious that no one can motivate him like you can. Mother Menegilda assures me this method can produce results very quickly.”

Frodo nodded, eyes wide. He had meant it when he said he would do anything for his beloved baby cousin, but that didn’t mean he was going to enjoy it.

______________________________________________

The first day was very frustrating. Only once did Merry manage to actually *use* his little potty. And once he *almost* made it. He made puddles on the floor three times, and had no results at all the rest of the time. Poor Frodo was feeling a bit frazzled by the time he was allowed to have a few hours off after lunch. His only consolation was that Merry had seemed quite cheerful and proud after his one little accomplishment.

It was quite true that he had rashly volunteered for this, and he did love little Merry to distraction, but right now he was very glad to be shed of the lad for a while. He flopped himself down in the library with a book, but he couldn’t really keep his mind on it. How long, he wondered, would this take?

______________________________________________

The second day was somewhat better. Merry did not make any mess on the floor at all, and actually used the chamber pot twice for Frodo. But there was quite a setback when Frodo left after lunch, and apparently Dahlia had a very difficult time. Merry had not only made a mess, but had become very distraught when it happened.

Frodo returned to the nursery, to find his cousin crying as though his little heart would break.

_______________________________________________

The third day, when it was time for him to take a few hours off, he offered to stay instead. Dahlia was very grateful, and took him up on it. Esmeralda, no doubt, would have disapproved, but she was busy preparing for the arrival of guests. Frodo’s cousin Bilbo Baggins, and his aunt, Dora Baggins, would be arriving the next morning and would spend several days before taking Frodo back to Hobbiton with them for a springtime visit.

As much as Frodo wanted to be in Bag End with his beloved Uncle Bilbo, he wondered was it fair to leave little Merry right now?

Merry did not have a single accident. And he used the chamber pot every time. Frodo was lavish with the praise. Merry was so delighted to be told what a “big lad” he was, and how proud his big cousin was, that Frodo did not even miss his time off.

_________________________________________

On the fourth day, he was overseeing Merry’s little accomplishment, just after elevenses.

“Oh, Merry! You are *such* a big lad! I’m so proud of you, you are learning fast!”

Merry’s little face lit up with joy. Then he gave a little squeal of delight, and hopped up. “Mum! Da! Come look-see!”

Frodo turned to see his cousin Saradoc, along with Esmeralda, enter the room. Merry picked up the chamber pot and trotted over on his furry little feet.

His parents exchanged grins, and then looked into the pot with its aromatic contents. “Oh Merry! That’s wonderful!” exclaimed his mother.

Saradoc was obviously having trouble keeping a straight face, but he looked at it as well. “My goodness, Meriadoc! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a splendid job!”

He almost spoiled it with a snicker, but it changed to a yelp of pain as his wife elbowed him in the ribs. “Erm, ahem, yes, very splendid indeed!”

Esmeralda looked at Frodo. “Frodo, dear, you must take your break this afternoon, so that you can prepare for tea. You are to take tea in the Master’s apartment with Mother Menegilda and me, and with your Uncle Bilbo and Aunt Dora."

Frodo made a face. Glad as he always was to see Uncle Bilbo, Aunt Dora was another matter altogether. She always pinched his cheeks, and then told him he needed to get a little meat on his bones. And she was always on the lookout for the least little bit of indication that he might not be getting a proper raising by the Brandybucks. Thank goodness Aunt Menegilda would be there. She would not let Aunt Dora get by with too much criticism.

_______________________________________________

Tea was miserable.

Frodo was very hungry, but he couldn’t bring himself to eat heartily of the lavish spread the Mistress of Buckland had laid out, for fear of Dora’s eagle eye. He was terribly afraid he would drop something, or spill something, or make some mistake in manners. And his jaws ached where she had pinched his cheeks.

He eyed the lovely honeycakes with longing. But they were very sticky, and he was too anxious to take one.

The conversation was boring and stilted. All they were talking about were people that Frodo had never met, who had wed, and what had been worn to the wedding. His eyes had begun to glaze over, when he caught his Uncle Bilbo’s eye. Bilbo gave him a little smile and a wink, which made him feel a bit better, but he was still bored.

Just then, he saw his Aunt Esme’s eyes grow wide with horror. The door to the Master’s sitting room was ajar, to make it easier for the maidservant bringing and taking the tea things.

Through the door marched Merry, on uncertain feet, wearing only his tiny shirt, which hid nothing below his little belly. In his hands was his chamber pot. The aroma wafted through the room.

Esmeralda went pale. Menegilda placed her hand over her face, and gave a little moan. Dora drew herself up with an air of offence. Bilbo was biting his lower lip, and his blue eyes twinkled and his face was red from suppressed laughter. Frodo’s eyes went wide.

Merry toddled across the room, holding out his tribute.

“See, Fwo! I did it all by myself!”

Torn between humiliation and laughter himself, Frodo did the only thing he could. He took the chamber pot in both hands and peered in.

“Why Merry! You certainly did! I’m very proud of my big lad!” He took the chamber pot in one hand and Merry by the other, and with a desperate glance at his aunts, escorted Merry from the room.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Frodo bent down and said softly into Merry’s ear: “Thank you, Merry, for rescuing me.”

Merry was not sure what he had done, or what “rescuing” meant, but he beamed up at his adored cousin. “I did good, Fwo?”

“You did *very* good, Merry-lad!”




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