Bilbo Baggins shifted in his bed. The morning light trickling in through the hedges. Tickling his eyes open to greet the morning. A very good morning it was. But a quiet one. Too quiet. Bilbo sighed. His home was silent. It hadn't seen any excitement since the day the dwarves stepped through his green door. And Bilbo missed that day. Missed his dwarven brethren. The little hobbit was beginning to feel lonely. He picked at his pillowcase when he smiled, brightening upon remembering that the market was on for it was a Tuesday, and all the hobbits would be swarming to Mitchel Delving. To exchange their coins for a pumpkin or two, breads and goat cheeses.
A small blue jay pecked at his window, wiping its beak off on the smooth surface. Bilbo cracked open his eyes. "Yes, yes I'm up, I'm up." He said to the bird as he stretched beneath his cozy blanket. Bilbo smiled. The morning was sweet indeed, alone or not. The air warm and sun shimmering. Not a cloud in the sky from what he could tell from his bed. Though it had been a few months since his adventure, he was still settling in. Getting back in the swing of things. Still taking in the comforts of home. And he often felt his bed too comfy and at times, didn't rise till around 8 o'clock. Nearly missing First Breakfast! But he'd have none of that today.
Bilbo swung his feet over his bed, landing with a soft pad atop the wooden floor, that was warmed from the sun beneath his toes. The hobbit pulled his robe over his arms with a yawn and pattered to the pantry. Gathering out a bit of goat cheese, a slice of bread with a dab of chopped parsley, and fist sized small meat pie. It was a good morning after all indeed. He was back in his routine. And that made him smile. Things were just getting back to normal.
Bilbo cleaned his plate as the sun made its way into the kitchen, playing off the surface of his steaming tea. After dressing he settled in by the window, overlooking the shire below. A small piece of parchment in hand. "Now now. What do I need." He chewed the end of the quill, wiggling his toes. "Ah yes. Block of cheddar, mix of meal, some vanilla beans would be nice." The hobbit mumbled as he jotted down a small grocery list. He paused, the swinging of his feet coming to a halt. If only he had someone to make a meal for, eat with, instead of night after night. Alone.
Since the "Great Robbery," as he called it, when Shirefolk thought he was dead and sold his things, he hadn't had many visitors who didn't want something from him. Those somethings mostly being a something he had taken back when finding they'd stole or bought it during that dreaded auction. There were a few he enjoyed a good drink with down at the Green Dragon, but things had been awkward since his return. Accusations of still being dead or not truly being Mr. Baggins were made, especially after a few pints. Things were different now. "Not them. No no not today." Bilbo folded up the list and pulled out his pipe.
When Second Breakfast passed with fork fulls of oatmeal and toast, Bilbo dressed in a blue vest over his white tunic, gathered his basket and coins and headed out the door. He better get there by 11sys. Some hobbits waited all morning to get the first pick. He didn't want to be left with anemic carrots and wilting gourds. Bilbo brought his 11sys with him, a large muffin and apple. Though some Hobbits would call that hardly a snack, Bilbo had become accustomed to smaller portions of food since his great journey.
The Shire was becoming alive as every hobbit, this way and that bustled out their front doors, children in hand or even a piglet or two. Bilbo headed down The Hill, into town, across The River and straight for Mitchel Delving. A few hobbits giving him a queer eye as they had done since his return, but most a smile or word or two that warmed his little heart. He loved his Shire. And he loved the market. It was becoming a something of a usual Tuesday afternoon.
Bilbo made his way to Mitchel Delving, and the closer he got to it the more wagons he saw. More pony whinnies, pig and child squeals danced about the hills. As the hobbit reached the market place, littered with tents and goods going on for quite a long while, he paused and took in the sight with his curious blue gaze. Resting a hand in his pocket. A smile growing on his lips. Even if he had no company in his home, no family sharing his walls, watching all the other hobbits going about with their own filled his heart.
Though when saw married couples hand in hand, crossing the fields and flowing down the roads, a part of his heart stirred uneasily. Something about watching them made him a bit sad. He missed company, friendly company, but he wondered if he missed that type of company, for he had never had it. Would he want it, if it came? What are you going on about, those types of things don't come like packages lest they come at all. Which they usually they don't. In any case I didn't order any of that excitement and am just fine with that. He thought as he watched an elderly couple stray past him with a heavier heart than he would admit.
Bilbo watched all the hobbits before him flooding to the market. All the little creatures looking like butterflies drifting down the dirt roads in their variety of pinks and oranges, blues and greens. And yellow, a very beautiful yellow stood out as he headed down the path. Like a bit of sunlight in dress form amongst the billowing grasses. When the hobbit tried to get a look at who belonged to the dress, she disappeared into the crowd and Bilbo carried on.
"Good day Mr. Baggins!" Called old Brandybuck from behind his table.
"Good day to you as well Mr. Brandybuck." Bilbo stepped past a hobbit and her child, "Excuse me, pardon me. I see your fish are just as fresh as always," he eyed the slimy creatures and looked up to the hobbit. "I could swear this one," he poked its tail, "is still moving." The old hobbit wrinkled his face in a smile.
"Bring him home and see how he likes your frying pan!"
"Perhaps on my way out, I've got to fill this first!" He patted the side of the basket. "Good day to you!" Bilbo called as he stepped back into the crowd.
First things first. He took care of what he needed to buy before browsing for extras. Sweets of all kinds. He searched all the stalls well until noon and beyond, chatting with hobbits from Tuckborough, Waymeet and even one from Frogmorton. Bilbo glanced about when he noticed something yellow from the corner of his eye. He looked up from the tomato he was handling and met the eyes of a pretty faced hobbit. Cherry lips and rosy apple colored hair. Falling in red waves over her broad shoulders. About his age he'd guess.
"Good day." He said as he looked back to the fruit. The lady smiled in return, her eyes bright with cheer.
"To you as well Mr. Baggins." Bilbo paused as he gingerly placed the tomato down, his eyes on the food stand. How did she know his name when he didn't know her face? Because you're a Baggins you nitwit. Bilbo gave her a polite smile before moving on. Unaware of her eyes still upon him. As he continued shopping his basket grew and grew. And was overflowing after getting too excited over bundles of cinnamon tea bags and little mint biscuits.
"There's only one left Mr. Baggins." Said the hobbit whom rung him up as he filled the wicker to the brim and more with her biscuits. "Sure you don't want to finish them off?" Bilbo smirked as he swallowed the last bite of his biscuit sample that had convinced him to overflow his shopping basket.
"Oh britches, count me in." He fumbled in his pocket for change, "or count me out of coins as I'm running out faster than I expected." Bilbo found the proper amount and handed them over. "Thank you kindly." He said with a nod of the head, his curls bouncing upon his brow.
As he went about to browse some more, just for looking as he had less than no room left, he noticed that lovely yellow dress again and that kind looking hobbit. She was at the pumpkin stands when he was, the clothing stall... the cake stands... the cheese wheels, and each time he caught her curious eye upon him. One thing that other hobbits were too good at was being suspicious and as much as his time with the dwarves had broadened his hobbit mind, suspicion as of late, had grown strong in him. Since the Great Robbery and all.
When Bilbo noticed the yellow dressed woman perusing through a vegetable stand, he headed straight for her. He strayed to the other side of the table laden with pumpkin orange carrots and willowy green stems. Glancing up at her when he felt her eyes do the same. He waited a moment, tapping his fingers on the wooden table. Perhaps she was the hobbit that wouldn't come forward, no matter how many "Stolen Tea Kettle" signs he put up around the Shire. He did see her eying a tea set that would match his kettle perfectly... but then again, she didn't exactly seem like a kettle stealing type. She seemed more of someone to have a kettle of tea with.
Bilbo inspected a carrot before quickly saying as he looked up. Her river gray eyes meeting his blue. "I'm sorry but, do I know you?" He clasped his hands behind his back.
"We've never properly met. But I know you." Bilbo smiled. "Liliana Appleworth." Her voice was kind and reminded him of the lightness of a soft summer breeze. She held her hand out over the table.
"Bilbo Baggins. Though I suppose you already know that." He said as he shook her hand firmly. Liliana brushed a heavy curl from her face.
"I'm sorry to ask, but are you getting on all right since, well, the auction?" Bilbo raised his brow, rocking on his toes.
"Ah yes yes. I'm quite all right but everyday there seems to be a missing doily. Or missing tea cup. Or tea kettle as it is. But they will turn up all in good time... Even if 'good time' is taking a bit too long for my taste."
"Very strange that all is."
"You're telling me. I still have bits of butter or burn stains on my dishware after rescuing them from the hands of who knows who from under, over and beyond the hill." He gestured in each direction.
"I've seen those tea kettle ransom notices." She teased. Bilbo let out a chuckle as did she.
"My do they come off that way?" She smiled out a laugh. A type of contagious smile that left him still wearing one when he spoke.
"Well since I'm not dead, that is indeed, theft." He insisted in a teasing tone.
"And what is most queer. Is those people," he said with superior tone leaning in, "don't think I'm truly me. Some of them anyway. So they refuse to return my things. Including my cousin twice removed. Looked at me like I was from the Barrow Downs." The redhead raised her arched brow.
"Well if its any comfort, I do not think you are dead and know you to be yourself. I'd know your lovely face anywhere Mr. Baggins." He smiled, something about her word tickled in his chest. Bilbo was quiet for a moment, glancing about the grass between his toes.
"So what are you here for? Are you with family?" She shook her head, her curls swaying about her lightly freckled cheeks.
"No, it's just me and my father at home and it's too far a walk for him."
"Ah." Bilbo rocked on his toes, glancing to the grasses again. No husband or children? After short silence Bilbo opened his mouth to speak at the same time as she and the two shared a laugh, insisting the other to speak. "You go first. Please I've rolled my tongue too long already." She held her hands at her waist.
"Well, I wondered if you might-"
"Bilbo! My dear Bilbo!" A voice skipped into the hobbit's ears. He spun about, the man's words drowning out Liliana's. William Stonewall, a long time friend of his whose ability to interrupt was better than his ability to be silent for even a wink. "You must see my pipes. I've got one I just I finished carving that you've ought to give a smoke." The hobbit's overly friendly arm was upon Bilbo faster than he could turn about to Liliana.
"I'm sorry, I will be right back! Truly!" He said as he was about dragged off. But as truly as he wanted to be right back, at the hobbit's side whom he no longer thought a queer sort rather quite the opposite, he wasn't. No matter how many hints he dropped to Stonewall, insisting he already had a pipe that was just fine, the older hobbit wouldn't see it. And by the time he slipped away while the man was distracted, Liliana was no where in sight. Not a yellow dress in the market. Bilbo sighed, adjusting his grip on his basket that's weight was beginning to take its toll on his little arms.
"And she's gone." He said with a sigh. To home I go. Bilbo headed for Bag End, it was a decent walk back to Hobbiton, but cutting through the fields was a bit of a short cut. And he didn't want the chocolate in his cookies to melt from the sun. As he walked, Liliana's face came into every thought. Why had she been so kindly to him? It seemed more than a stranger to stranger talk to him. But why?
Of course there's no reason Mr. Baggins. You're knocked in the head. She was just being kind. She wasn't perhaps following you about the market today because she... Bilbo slapped his own cheek, Of course not! Who do you think you are? Mr. Farely whose had more wives than all of Hobbiton? But her face was so pretty. Stop stop stop. Yes, it was, but use your head. Bilbo continued a mixture of mumbling aloud and in his head. Even if she's without a husband surely she has a beau. And at the thought of Bilbo wondering if he could be that hobbit, he gasped out loud and stomped his foot. You. Are. Mad. Baggins. Utterly mad. You will have none of that and even if I wanted it, which I don't, she was being friendly. Nothing more. Not ever. Is that anything of a normal thing for you? No. Would someone as lovely as her like an unusual and queer Baggins like me? Why she'd have never a reason.
Bilbo crossed a stream and weaved through a herd of sheep, down a valley to a path he felt he only knew of, and came out behind his home. He climbed down the hillside and made him way into his green door without dropping one grocery. As he put all his things away and left a fair amount out to eat, Bilbo started up a kettle of water. What was Liliana going to say before he was yanked off like a flea? Bilbo wondered as he set out a tea cup. Get your nose out of other hobbits bus-. Wait it was his business. "I suppose that's true." He mumbled, playing with his unlit pipe in his mouth. There's no need to wonder if you don't want what you're wondering about. Ladies are for chatting with and other people to take into their lives. There would never be one whom thought him normal enough to even consider- but Bilbo's noisy thoughts were cut off by a knock at the door.