Title: A Little Adventure
Author: Ice Princess
Summary: Lobelia, convinced that she's owed more than Bilbo left her, goes to Bag End and takes a few items that don't belong to her, some more important than others...
Rating: PG13 (to be safe)
Disclaimer: all characters and places are property of J.R.R Tolkien and Tolkien enterprises. I make no money from this Fan fiction.
Author's note: Many thanks to Nicole Sabbati who actually came up with this idea. I'm just stealing it from her. She is an excellent writer….check out her work!
Billions of thanks to the lovely SHIREBOUND regarding Lobelia's husband. It's been a while since I read the books and I somehow had it in my head that Lotho was Lobelia's husband and Otho her son, but it is the other way round. I must pay you with gold, shirebound!or cookies…or maybe marshmallow…
Chapter one: the argument
"You spoiled little upstart you! Ungrateful son of a…"
"That's right! It's ours I tell you!"
"I don't believe-"
"Hold your tongue, you filthy maggot, or I'll release the full brunt of my rage!"
"No! You've had your say! Respect your elders! Honestly, did Bilbo teach you no manners?!"
Frodo slumped against the door to Bag End, a synthetic smile twitching as it struggled to survive under the blades of hatred thrown from Lobelia's words. For not the first time since he had found himself in this little scenario he was seized by a bout of wishful thinking, annoyed with himself that he had not heeded Gandalf's words and been more particular about who he opened the door to. Lobelia may not have been an orc or any other vile servant of the enemy that Gandalf had weakly suggested may decide to become visitors, but at that moment he would rather have faced a whole army of the legendary beasts rather than the shrill voice of his relative.
"You're a disgrace!" Lobelia spat, practically inches away from him, edging ever closer with every anger soaked word. "A disgrace to the name of Baggins! Why your father married that good for nothing Brandybuck I'll never know, especially when the end result is a smirking wretch like you!"
Frodo's smile dipped under the malevolence, and the smile he had painfully adopted gave a threatening lurch. Taking a deep yet subtle breath to try and still the flurry of thoughts he could not banish at such words, he pulled himself up straight, trying to look more dignified and so more believable when he spoke his side of the argument.
"Lobelia," he said, bowing ever so slightly, yet underneath the gesture wishing that Bilbo had left sting behind to deal with this dragon. "I don't quite understand what you are worried about. Bilbo left quite explicit instructions about who was entitled to what, and I'm afraid that there is no more in Bag End which is due to you. I am sorry if you expected more."
"Sorry!" She shrieked, scaring a swarm of sparrows into the sky from a near by tree. "Sorry! We're entitled to more than spoons! We were due to be the beneficiaries of his estate, not you! We are due half of the belongings in this place!"
"I'm afraid you are not," Frodo said simply, causing Lobelia to stutter and turn to him in her rage, for few dared to stand up to her. For a moment he honestly believed that she was going to strike him, barge her way into Bag End and walk off with half its contents, but the worried whistling coming from Sam somewhere in the garden seem to remind her of her manners, and she backed off, though her eyes burned with unreleased hatred.
Taking advantage of her temporary and rare silence, Frodo said: "Again all I can do is apologise, Lobelia. Bilbo was unusually specific with what was due to you and I can assure you there is nothing left to give. If you are still unhappy, perhaps I could show you Bilbo's instructions and you will see for yourself."
She was trapped, and Frodo knew it, for Bilbo had been very specific on what to give the Sackville-Baggins, and the few items they had been given had been designed to annoy them. Bilbo had warned him that Lobelia may over react a little, but he doubted even he would expect such behaviour. Usually Lobelia hid her disgust of them under a low key of hostility, throwing the odd comment that only the victims of her poisoned words could correctly interpret. Now that Bilbo was gone she seemed to have abandoned the act, retaining the façade only when there were others around to hear her words. Unfortunately for Frodo, living on his own as he did, there was ample opportunity for Lobelia to catch him when he was unprotected by mulling crowds.
"You haven't heard the last of this," she seethed, waving a finger in his face, her own purpled.
"I do not doubt that," he replied, not backing away from the physical gesture or bothering to offer a nicety. He bowed again, signalling the end of the conversation, but Lobelia did not budge, and Frodo just stared at her, thoroughly fed up with her actions.
"I'm sorry to have to leave you," he said when it became obvious she would not leave unless told to do so, "but I am afraid that I have much to do, and little time to spare. Perhaps we could continue this discussion tomorrow at elevenses, if you would be so kind as to come."
The invitation was not one he wanted to offer, never mind for her to accept, but it was all he could do to keep his manners, sticking to the polite dialogue that he had heard Bilbo use so often when in their company. It was highly unlikely that she would accept the invitation for the very idea of being nice to him seemed to sicken her, and he was silently relived when she cried: "I will do no such thing, you waste of space!" She turned on her heel, her back facing him in the deepest sign of disrespect. "But I will come back on the morrow to collect what is mine."
"I will look forward to it," he replied swiftly, unfazed. "But you will only get the same answer from a different source. You will gain no more from me tomorrow than you will today."
Lobelia, wrapped in a rage so thick and chocking it was impenetrable, whipped around and grabbed him by the sleeve with a surprising strength as he made to move back into the smial.
"You think you've got it made, don't you?" She hissed, pulling him away from the door frame. "Well you haven't won this yet. Why oh why such riches and prestige should be showered upon you is a mystery to me, and I for one want to make sure that you get what you rightfully deserve."
Frodo merely stared at her, face impassive. "You have already been given what you…er… deserve. Bilbo's will is very specific. There is nothing you can do; I will make sure of that."
"Curse you!" She spat, dropping his sleeve, but not before Sam, who had just popped from around a hedge, could see what she had done, his face blanching at the sight.
"There is nothing more that I can do for you," he said simply. "I bid you good day."
And with that he watched her turn in a swirl of frills from her dress, and storm down the path, her feet practically drilling into the earth as she huffed and puffed her way down the lane.
The moment she was gone Frodo took a deep sigh of relief, and he leant against the door frame once again, one hand raised against his forehead to still his pounding head ache.
"Mr Frodo?" Frodo opened his eyes and looked wearily up at Samwise, who, in comparison, looked like he had just seen a ghost. Frodo smiled, realising that Sam had little knowledge of the venom of the Sackville-Baggins.
"Begging your pardon Mr Frodo, sir," Sam said, blushing slightly. "But I was just wondering if you are well. You look a bit bothered, if you know my meaning."
Frodo smiled. "I am perfectly well Sam," he said, though he rubbed his temples with his forefingers to quell the headache. "I am sorry that you had to hear that. I hope we did not disturb you."
"Of course not, Mr Frodo," Sam replied, seemingly still overwhelmed by what he had just heard. "There be no need to go apologising to your Sam."
"There is every need," Frodo countered, taking another deep breath. Had the argument really gotten to him so badly? "I am very sorry that you had to witness that. But," he said, stepping forward, dropping a friendly hand onto Sam's shoulder. "I was grateful that you were here. She daren't do more when others are around."
"She would do more, Mr Frodo?" Sam asked, shocked by the very idea. "I dread to think what!"
"Indeed," Frodo agreed. "But somehow I know it is not over. She will probably be hanging on the bell first thing on the morrow."
"Tis a shame," Sam said, "what with it being your birthday and all… "
"Yes," Frodo said again, a picture of Bilbo coming unbidden to his mind."They do have impeccable timing." He turned to watch the dwindling figure of Lobelia, then, as if struck by a sudden idea, Frodo turned to Sam and said: "Sam, do you care to come to the Green Dragon tonight? I am sharing a drink with my friends Merry and Pippin, and would be most delighted if you would come."
"w-what, me?" Sam stuttered, face scarlet, causing Frodo to squeeze his shoulder reassuringly.
"Why of course!" He said, laughing at his friend's reaction. "I normally prefer to stay in Bag End, but this little encounter has made me feel like I need a change. I would be most grateful if you would come with me. It would be my honour and just a small part of repaying you for all the excellent work you have done on the garden."
At this he gestured towards the flourishing flowers and sparkling saplings. Sam blushed so his face was the colour of the roses that he had grown that year.
"I…would be most…honoured…" he stuttered. Frodo, smiling, took his hand from his shoulder. "Excellent! Perhaps a bit of ale will still the sour experience!"
"I think you'd need more than a bit," Sam said bravely, and Frodo laughed loudly.
"You may be right, my dear Samwise."
Sam looking a bit uncomfortable at his own words, and he looked away as if expecting a reprimand. Frodo, noticing his friend's discomfort, lightly embraced the gardener.
"Well, we shall see tonight how much ale we will need." He said, still chuckling, pulling away so he could look at his friend. "We shall see!"
"He did what!?"
"He won't give us anything!? But that property is ours! It is damn generous of us to allow him to have it! All we ask is to have our possessions back!"
"He's a rotten little troublemaker! You should have seen him smirking at me when I kindly asked to be shown the will…"
"Oh he did, Otho! It's unbelievable! Wouldn't let me see it! Some nonsense about how he'd lost it…"
Lobelia stormed around her kitchen, meat knife being flung viscously through the air as she told her tale. Otho was sat at the kitchen table, an unlit pipe in his mouth temporarily forgotten.
"Unbelievable! A travesty! We are entitled to more than spoons!"
"That's what I said…"
"And he didn't…"
Otho stood up abruptly, his chair falling back as he did so.
"I won't stand for this! Not ours, he says?! What right has a peasant to order us around?!"
"Now Otho dear," Lobelia said, taking a seat at the table herself, removing the apron from around her neck as she did so. Her voice was calm now, but it hid a calculating and devious tone that drew her husband's attention. "I am going back tomorrow to take our possessions by force if we must!"
"And how are you going to get into the smial?" Otho asked, bending down to pick up his chair, his pipe still locked between his teeth. "He never leaves the cursed thing. He doesn't have any friends except for those irresponsible two from wayside."
But this proved to be the wrong thing to say to his steaming wife, and suddenly Lobelia snapped, her face contorting with a blackened rage.
"I don't know!" Lobelia shrieked, folding her arms across her chest, looking away towards some unseen point as she ran the plan over and over in her head. "But I'm not letting him get away with it! We'll get our items! We will!"
"Of course," Otho answered appealingly, waving his hands to try and calm her. In their anger neither of them had noticed the pots and pans were boiling over and a weak smell of burning drifting from the fireplace.
"I will talk to our young friend tomorrow," Otho said, his own anger not subsiding, Lobelia merely looking at him to check the validity of his words. "I will certainly not be denied!"
Lobelia did not smile, but she was frowning less, and Otho took it as a sign that she was pleased.
"Stupid little…" she muttered to herself, the knife within her hand being clutched more tightly. "He makes me so angry! Not ours, not ours!" She spun to look at her husband who was trying to light his pipe. "It is ours, and all of us know it! How convenient of him to lose the will for without it we can do nothing within the law to get our things back."
"Now dear," Otho said, but his tone held pride and cunning. "You wouldn't dream of doing anything which may damage the family name, would you?"
"Damage! Damage!" The knife was slapped down onto the table. "Hasn't that old mad man ruined the family name enough?! They are ours! Ours! And we can do nothing about it!"
Otho's pipe lit up and he took a deep draw of it, but his eyes were twinkling with some unknown plot. "He does have a lot of money, doesn't he?" Otho said looking down towards Lobelia, the devious look upon his face rich enough to stop her imminent out burst.
"So they say," she huffed instead, looking at him warily.
Otho took another draw of his pipe. "Yes, very rich. Not many can say as such."
"No," Lobelia replied, looking at him oddly, trying to follow his train of thought.
"Yes, I'm sure news of his wealth has spread far and wide along the Shire, and, as I said, not everyone is so well with money. Some," he said, and he looked at Lobelia with a horrible smirk, "may take it upon themselves to take some of that money." He paused, twiddling with something in his pocket, slightly fidgeting on the chair as he sought for the item. Then suddenly his voice was offhand, and for anyone who may be listening no connection would have been made between the two topics.
"There have been an extraordinarily large amount of robberies lately. Some horrid vagabond that needs to feed this or the other." He waved his hand freely in the air, indicating the apparent unimportance of the robbers needs. "I heard four families in Buckland were robbed of everything they had just last week and they never did find the culprit."
He pulled more pipe weed from his pocket, crunched it into a fine ball, and gently deposited it into his already smoking pipe, gently prodding it deep down into the open belly. He returned his hands so they sat on atop each other upon the table, but his eyes were settled upon the flickering candles upon the walls.
"Some are calling it a crime wave," he continued, the smell of burning now so acute that someone outside could smell it. But Lobelia and Otho were locked in their little scheming and nothing could bring them out of it.
"Imagine," he said lightly, thumbs circling each other, his tone falsely concerned. "If Bag End was robbed…well, it's no secret how much wealth is hidden away in there. A criminal would automatically head towards Bag End. If things were to go missing, perhaps, stolen," he quickly glanced down at Lobelia, a cruel smile stretching over her face to match the one on his own, "it would not be a big surprise."
"No," she agreed, feigning concern. "I'm sure the mayor has thought of this too. I'm sure he would not be at all surprised if Bag End was seemingly robbed."
"It's bound to be a thief that's responsible," Otho continued. "No one else has any motive."
"No, not at all…"
"Well then," he said, and he laughed, his hands now upon his hips. "Mr Baggins better look out, then!" he laughed heartily.
He stood up from his chair, hand extended towards Lobelia who took it, her own grim smile flickering as she fought to rid herself of it.
"I think," Otho said. "We should celebrate in the Green Dragon tonight." He nodded towards the burning chunk of meat above the fire. "That is too far gone to save."
"Not that we have anything to celebrate," she said lightly, and together they laughed, entwined their fingers around each others, and headed towards the door.
In the next chapter Shelob turns up! Oh…wait…no she doesn't…note to self: Don't put Shelob in this fanfic. Second not to self: see psychiatrist regarding obsession with Shelob…