Bilbo's noisy thoughts were cut off by a knock at the door.
He startled to his feet. Eyes wide. Silence before another knock. Who could that be? He dusted his hands off on his vest, then dusted his vest off, and pattered towards the door. Bilbo leaned out his window carefully without being seen, he had much practice at this, and managed to see out. What he saw threw him back around the corner from the door. Liliana Appleworth was on his doorstep.
"She must be lost!" He cursed under his breath, his heart pounding beneath his vest. He hoped he would never see her again. Well, if not for a long while. For thoughts of her made him uneasy, unsure and like he might trip on his own feet. But he couldn't leave her out there. Bilbo took a deep breath. You faced a dragon mad Baggins. How hard can this be.
Bilbo hurried to the door before changing his mind and opened it.
"Liliana." She grinned, her hands clasped at her waist.
"I'm sorry to pop in on you."
"No no, popping is just fine." Bilbo winced at his words. Reddening as he tripped on his tongue. "Are you passing by?" Don't sound so accusatory! He winced again. Liliana smiled, curving her freckled pale cheeks.
"Well, I realized I didn't get the chance to ask you what I was trying to say earlier." Bilbo leaned against the door frame.
"Blasted Stonewall. He never, ever knows the right moment. Or I should say always knows the right moment to bust in." The right moment? You're making this sound larger than it is! Luckily, because of Liliana's own anxious tingles in her chest Bilbo's nervous manners were unnoticed.
"I wondered if you might want to have tea sometime?" She nearly blurted out. Bilbo's brow rose, blinking.
"Have... have tea?" He said with a nod. "Surely, I might very muchly. Muchly? Now that didn't come out right." She smirked. "Tea. How about now?" Her brow rose.
"But I've come so unexpected." Bilbo smirked rocking back on his toes.
"Believe me this house and unexpected have many memories together. I've got a kettle on just now. Please," he gestured for her to come in. And as he closed the door behind him. He paused, his back to her. You let her in, Bilbo. The hobbit spun about at the sound of her voice.
"Your home is lovely." He nodded in response before fumbling out.
"What's your favorite tea I've got a barrel full." And dashed for the kitchen on his rush of adrenaline before she could answer.
Though Bilbo was used to unexpected, and he had learned to like it, he didn't know and wouldn't admit except through uncontrollable smiles, that he rather, very much, did enjoy this kind of unexpected. After much fidgeting and nearly dropping the steam bellowing kettle, the pair of hobbits sat across from one another in the afternoon sunlight. And talked long into the soft glow of sunset. Hours of laughter rang through Bag End. Hours Bilbo hadn't realized had slipped by like soap in the bath. When she promoted him politely about the journey, Bilbo spilled more to her about this mountain and that battle than he had to anyone since returning home. And in turn from the sour face he usually received upon his excitement of his tale, she questioned and asked for more. Her eyes as eager to hear this story as his heart was to relive it.
"You spoke to a dragon?" Bilbo chuckled and flung his arms out proudly.
"Yes, yes I did. He was a snappy one that. And I don't just mean his words," he raised his brow with a smirk.
"Though I'm sure you matched him word for word." She smiled over her tea as she sipped it. He rocked back in his seat.
"Well, we got out didn't we? Oh and the trolls. How could I have missed the trolls?" Bilbo leaned over the table at her. "I, was a troll bogey." From there he filled in all the bits and pieces that were for sharing, and ones he had skipped over in all his laughter and excitement.
"Even I know trolls can't be in sunlight!" Liliana exclaimed.
"Do you really?" Bilbo asked inquisitively, crossing his leg over his knee. Liliana arched her brow.
"I know more about these things than one might expect."
"Is that so?" Bilbo asked with a smile and curious eye, the look of her own making his toes wiggle.
"You see, I am one of the Post Riders." Bilbo furrowed his brow.
"The one's whom take this and that from from here to Bree and-" Bilbo paused his speech upon remembering reading about a local hobbit who delivers long distance packages as far as... his thoughts faded as he leaned in closer. "You've, you've been to the Lone Lands?" She nodded.
"Once. Barren rocky. My pony took a stone outside the Forsaken Inn." Bilbo's mouth was agape. A piece of mint cookie falling out.
"I had no idea."
"You're not the only one in this shire who gets an eye for liking adventure." She stirred her tea. The steam rising before lips as she sipped it. Bilbo leaned back in his seat.
"You don't say." My my, this day has been full of unexpected. As they continued on about Liliana's work, her large pony and the things she had seen. Including a troll camp once, at which Bilbo clapped his hands and hit the table.
"Either you're spewing tales so tall I can't see them, or you and I are going to be very good friends." Bilbo said with a grin. The pair chuckled and rolled on their words until the sun was faded. At times Liliana's words would become distant as the setting sunlight caught her eyes and smile as she laughed, glowing like a welcoming fire on winters night. Like she was a fire his hearth of a heart had been waiting for. But didn't know it. Much was unexpected about this day. About this hobbit. Like the unexpected rush sprouting in his chest to his fingers and toes as she patted his hand when laughing.
"Good gracious. It seems we've frightened the light off with all our tales." Bilbo said as he rose to light the candles about the kitchen.
"I should be getting on before it gets too dark." Bilbo paused in lighting a wick, his back to her.
"Of course you have to go." He mumbled shaking his head. His curls bouncing. "Take a candle?"
"I'll be alright." He smiled, walking with her to the door. She paused in the doorway.
"Thank you for the tea and the biscuits, and most of all the company."
"My door is always open." He tapped his fingers on the green wood. As she stepped out, Bilbo instinctively stepped out with her, hand still on the door knob. "Would you care to," Bilbo paused, realizing he hadn't known what he was to say after that point. Liliana turned about, a light breeze playing with her curls.
"Have another tea?" Bilbo smiled. "Or perhaps you'd like to meet my pony and see the farm." Bilbo's eyes lit up, since Myrtle he had a rather soft spot for the animals.
"Like it more than you could know! Tomorrow then around noon?" She nodded.
"Tomorrow it is. Berrywood Road, Bywater."
"Bywater? My, my you best be going. Tomorrow it is. And good night." They exchanged smile that made Bilbo's heart flutter before closing the door. As he heard his gate shut, Bilbo leaned his back against the wood. His eyes closed. What... was... that. Bilbo whispered with a knock of his head against the door at each word. Bilbo looked to a mirror on the wall, at his own smile. And tried to slap it off. Did you look this stupid while she was here? He growled as he hurried into the pantry to start dinner.
As he began to cook a stew with vegetables he had bought earlier, he realized how very much he enjoyed Liliana's company. But after an hour when the stew was done and bread was baked, Bilbo stared at his bowl of stew and steaming rolls. Leaving it untouched. Watching it for so long it started to grow cold. For all of his happy thoughts about Liliana lead him again and again back to something else. You can't do this Bilbo. He thought. You have had your adventure. You have friends. And having a...a... lady would just be... He let out a sigh.
"I am just getting back into my routine." He mumbled to himself as he routinely salted and peppered his food. "You don't need an interruption like that. One that will last a lifetime." Bilbo shook his head as if someone was trying to convince him otherwise and stirred his soup. When something else came to mind. His truest fear about his liking of Liliana surfacing like the carrot in his stew. And you certainly don't need something that you will loose in the end. I have had enough loss in my life as of late. Enough friends falling forever. I don't need start to care about her before she's whisked off by hobbit or beast. And that was that. So he decided. It was the easiest answer. The best answer. But as he discovered the following afternoon, staring at his empty hearth while the clock tolled 12, it was the most painful answer. He feverishly picked at his handkerchief. His heart and mind bickering on and on.
"This is for the best." The clock continued ticking. The house silent. Save for that small clicking of time. Time. And he was wasting it. Leaving Liliana out to dry like a stale biscuit. And it made him sick. What was he doing to her? To him? He bit at his fingernail which was something he never did, and tapped his fingers on the end table. It was nearly 1 now. "Yes. This is making you sick. You are making yourself sick mad Baggins." He tossed his handkerchief aside. "For this is wrong. What's life without risk." Uneasy memories of his fear of losing everything when signing that dwarven contract propelled him to his feet and out the door faster than Bilbo realized why. As he sprinted down the hills and the streets, around passerby whom merely shook their heads, the reason made his running all the faster.
Trying to avoid loss while all your doing is creating it. If that's not boiled bread who knows what is!
Bilbo ran and ran, all the way to Bywater. Taking small breaks of course. But his feet ached by the time he got there and that time was nearly 3 o'clock. Doubled over in a panting breath. Looking about for her home when a bushel of red locks caught his eye. Leading a large white pony up the quiet road. "Liliana!" He bellowed, pattering up the dirt path. The hobbit looked over her shoulder and smiled.
"I'm so sorry I was-" She began, pausing in her step.
"No no!" He panted, bracing himself on the fence post as he met up with her. Sweat sparkling his concerned brow. "It is my fault. Entirely." He took a deep breath and stepped up to her. "I am a half-wit when it comes to these sorts of things." She smirked.
"If you're talking about being on time I-"
"Please. We both know that's not the issue. I was-" Luckily, Liliana cut him off and his coming words of 'I wasn't going to come' never reached her ears.
"Bilbo listen, I had a run that took me longer than I expected. Whatever your reasons are for being tardy are just the right reasons. I only just got in." Bilbo's brow rose as he tumbled on his words.
"My reasons... my reasons are, are the right reasons?" He mumbled to himself, looking back to her. "I suppose you're right." Realizing all his fretting had come to good use. For if he hadn't chewed and growled about all this all morning, he would have come to find her not at home. And think himself a bigger fool and leave himself more against it all than fire thinks of water.
"Truly?" She nodded, looking rather charming he thought. Hair unkempt and brushed behind her shoulders by the wind. Dirt on her hands and knees and a golden leaf clinging to a curl, a dashing pony at her side.
"It seems you've got a friend on you." Bilbo stepped closer to her, plucking the leaf from her head. Liliana looked to it than to him. The pair closer than either had realized, and closer than Bilbo would admit he liked. Until now at least. For it scared the courage out of him looking into her blue eyes so close.
"Liliana I..." He began, taking her hand in his with a deep breath. "I would very much like to see more of you." She gave him a small smile, shifting her weight.
"What would you say if I felt the same?" Bilbo smiled, and did the bravest thing he had ever done. Using more spirit than when confronting a giant spider, a hungry troll or feisty dragon. The little hobbit leaned in and pressed his lips to her freckled cheek.
"I would like that. I would like that very much so." He said. His face as red as Liliana's curls that fell into her face as she too blushed about her grin. Suddenly, the pony's face was upon the hobbit's shoulder, rubbing his itchy face on her blouse.
"Don't mind us." Bilbo teased as he nosed at Bilbo's hand when he held it up to him to smell. The red haired hobbit smiled.
"I expect you came to see him anyway?" Bilbo stroked the pony's warm cheek and held Liliana's soft blue gaze.
"You would expect that, wouldn't you? But no." He squeezed her hand, "Because sometimes, these things are unexpected."
Thank you for reading, please review! I hope you enjoyed this story! I may write a sequel in time but in the mean time check out my other Hobbit stories. Thank you!