When Bilbo had been small, he had not thought himself strange.
After all, he had a mother and a father, just like anyone else. It would take a few times of going out to the Took smials and to the meadow with the Party Tree for him to realize that other faunts had something that Bilbo did not.
The first time Bilbo had asked about it, his mother had gotten a very sad look on her face and became frighteningly silent for hours after.
The second time Bilbo asked, he asked his father when his father was alone.
His father had looked sad too, but not as much as his mother, and so Bilbo had listened carefully as Bungo explained something that Bilbo would have to carry for the rest of his years.
“Sometimes, something happens that has no rhyme and reason and there is nothing anyone can do to change it. You being an only child is one of those things. I’ll explain when you are older, but remember, no matter what you hear, it was never your mother’s fault,” Bungo explained and Bilbo, too small to truly understand the meaning of the fenced-off garden of white daisies, too small to realize what his father was warning him about, nodded.
“I promise,” he swore and then skipped off to go snuggle with his mother.
When Bilbo was small, he had decided being an only child was a grand sort of thing, for he got his parents all to himself.
That he alone got his father’s undivided attention as he was taught Sindarin and the Language of the Rooks. Of walking (and being carried) down to the rookeries that had sworn to aid the Baggins Family in carrying messages to and from caravan leaders, and bonding with the birds that looked like they were wearing fluffy trousers.
That his mother got to teach him how to crochet and which plants were good and which were not, among other things, with her focus only on him, not on two. That only he got to cuddle with his mother and listen to her singing songs that she had heard on her travels from before Bilbo was born.
Those feelings, however, all changed on the Midyear’s Day of his tenth year. For that was the day a bunch of other faunts ganged up on him and demanded to know where his twin was.
It only got worse from there. They surrounded him and poked and prodded, wanting to know if he had killed his twin in the womb, and if he had, why was he still in Hobbiton, as murder was wrong.
Frantic and in a near panic, Bilbo managed to free himself from his tormentors and ran till he could hide behind his mother’s skirts, shaking and crying.
Not even Gandalf’s fireworks later that night could cheer Bilbo up and he could not speak of it, even when his mother asked him much later what was wrong.
It was the first of many festivals ruined for Bilbo, as Hobbits are gossips to the core and they do not make sure that their children are out of hearing before gossiping about the Only Child Under the Hill.
The other faunts only got worse with time, for when his playmates began to gain the roundness they would work on till adulthood, Bilbo began to grow thinner instead.
Oh, he had a softness to his belly, a bit of a pooch, but that was the extent of his roundness. It was the extent of his width and, sometimes, he got even thinner while doing the same things others did, despite the fact the others grew rounder.
When he was twelve, he was pinned to the ground by bullies and force-fed mud until one of the Bounders came over and broke it up, leaving Bilbo to vomit up the mud practically on his own before he made his way back to Bag-End, where he refused to talk about it.
When he felt his body shift at the time before entering tweenhood, felt that feeling of fertility under his hands, hope began to bloom that he would one day have a family of his own.
He began to have hope that how the others treated him would change.
While he had double-checked, privately, with the Baggins Family healer, who confirmed that Bilbo was in fact a Bearer, a male Hobbit who could carry children, before telling his parents what he had sensed, he had been over the moon and beyond the stars with the information. His parents had been equally excited and they had thrown a party to welcome Bilbo’s change. Blinded as he was by his hope, Bilbo did not hear the words of those around him bantered about. Whispers that the barrenness of the mother had passed to the son and, no matter what he sensed, he would never carry a child, and his thinness proved that.
Shortly after his party to celebrate his Bearer status, his father took him aside and lead him up to the fenced off garden and explained as he had promised all those years ago. Bungo explained to Bilbo that the garden, this garden, that no one else had, was a private graveyard, for the children unborn, or those born without life.
They had been started during their Wandering Days, and fields of certain flowers that dotted around were marks of those lost, but only they really had this graveyard and then Bungo lead Bilbo over to the tree in the middle.
It was there that Bungo explained that Bilbo had been born with a twin, but both had been born early and sickly.
Bilbo had survived and his twin had been buried under a sapling that grew into this tree.
It was only after gaining this information that Bilbo felt his hope shiver like a candle in the wind. For it was only then that Bilbo realized that he would be alone for the rest of his life unless he could change his thinness, or his mother’s lack of children.
As his mother’s lack of children was something he could not change, he began to look for ways to gain the proper roundness Hobbits were known for. He listened to the healer in all regards to his Bearer status and followed the herb mixture that would keep him from getting pregnant should he have sex with anyone (though it was easier to get pregnant with other males), taking it at the prescribed times required.
Only after gaining this information did he press the healer for ways to gain weight and when she had no answer, Bilbo searched for other ways. In his search, he tried every trick he had ever heard and may have even bought a few ‘potions’ that others said would help, but only got him violently ill and lost him pocket money.
After the second time he was tricked by such a ‘quick’ remedy to his thinness, Bilbo just tried to eat as often as he could, which resulted in the same side-effect as the ‘fattening’ potions he had tried.
It did not stop him from trying, however, even as he turned twenty and the only thing Bilbo had to show for his efforts was his slight belly. Not the nice roundness expected of Hobbits, for even those who were poor (or as poor as one could be in the Shire) were rounder than Bilbo.
He was barely clinging to hope of starting a family of his own when the Fell Winter came and killed it all.