West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Rustle Of Spring
Love in bloom. Or, at least, lust.
Author: Elderberry Wine
This story was written for the hobbit_smut
Livejournal Community "I'm Doing WHO?!" Challenge.
Notes: Part of the Shire Morns series. Follows
In The Very Best Of Company. Het and slash contained herein.
Saradoc burst into the back drawing room of Brandy Hall
with a distinctly frazzled look about the eyes. Merry
glanced up from the solitaire game in which he had been
engrossed, giving his father a puzzled stare.
"At Frodo's, last Yule, did I mention visits of any sort?"
the older hobbit stammered in a surprisingly breathless
"Erm, visits?" Merry had to ask, genuinely bewildered. "By
who? To whom?"
"To me," Saradoc clarified. "By anyone."
"Well," Merry scratched his ear thoughtfully. "I was
rather in and out of the room a good deal, so I really
couldn't say. Why do you ask?"
"Because apparently I did," Saradoc fairly hissed, his
agitation threatening to make him incoherent. "Or why else
would she be here?"
"She?" repeated Merry, rising to his feet, curiosity
seizing hold of him.
"That Baggins creature! Or at least part Baggins," his
father nearly wailed, noticeably wringing his hands. "Some
relation of Bilbo's, I think."
"Lobelia Sackville-Baggins?" Merry asked in delight, a
tickled grin breaking across his face. "You invited her
"Certainly not in one of my sober moments," the Master of
Buckland declared grimly, grabbing his son by the arm and
proceeding to haul him unceremoniously from the room.
Fredegar Bolger, who, ignored by the two Brandybucks and
calmly draped over a nearby armchair rather like a lanky,
scone-munching afghan, slowly rose to follow. "Red Jack of
Hearts would have won it," he proclaimed laconically, to
no one in particular, and ambled down the hall after them.
"Good thing that mother's not home," Merry chuckled,
following his father down the wood paneled halls towards
the front door. "She'd have a proper fit."
"It's always a good thing when your mother's not home,"
growled Saradoc, not turning around, and also not
bothering to hide his feelings under the mask of polite
pretense, as he normally did. "But she will be back in a
couple of days, and I'm sure that the presence of any
relative of Bilbo's, no matter how remote, will not
lighten her mood."
Merry couldn't help but silently agree to both sentiments.
Esme Brandybuck was paying another strategic visit to the
Bolgers, the cause of Fatty's appearance at Brandy Hall.
"Too many females," he had announced frankly, showing up,
as usual, uninvited, and Merry and Saradoc had
sympathetically taken him in, at least temporarily. They
both rather felt it was the least that they could do,
considering. Thus he now sauntered after the two
Brandybucks, curious as to the sort of hobbit who could
rattle Saradoc Brandybuck so.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She had just been assisted down from the hired wagon, and,
adjusting her voluminous shawls and veils, shelter from
the light early spring rain that had just begun to fall,
turned to greet her hosts. The wagon driver rapidly
unloaded an ominously high stack of baggage next to her,
and without even waiting for any sort of tip, was off in
an instant, not even letting the ponies be watered first.
Merry, whose exposure to Frodo's cousin had been brief the
night of the festivities, took this to be not a propitious
sign. He had heard tales from Frodo, however, and even
more surprisingly, occasionally from Sam, so he studied
her carefully, from behind his father.
She was tall, and the section of her face that could be
seen amidst the wrappings bespoke a certain grim weathered
dignity. She now stood imperiously in the front courtyard,
and her regal bearing, as she glanced haughtily about her
before spying Saradoc and his son, was alarmingly
reminiscent to Merry of his mother.
But upon catching sight of the Master, she theatrically
threw back the coverings from her face, advancing upon
him, and managed to convey, entirely without a smile, her
satisfaction upon being able to bestow the rare pleasure
of her visit upon him and his household. Both Merry and
Fatty, who had by now joined him at the door, watched in
awe. This was a level of impenetrable majesty to which
Esme Brandybuck could only aspire.
"Mistress Sackville-Baggins," Saradoc proclaimed,
advancing towards her with an outstretched hand, and
neatly managing to disguise his agitation. "What an
unexpected pleasure. A pity Esme is not here at the
present; she'll be so disappointed to have missed you."
"My dear Saradoc, it should not be that unexpected,"
Lobelia responded with what looked alarmingly like an
archly raised eyebrow to the amazed onlookers. "And even
in the benighted hamlet of Hobbiton, we do receive some
news, you know."
Sweeping past the speechless Saradoc, she advanced upon
the two younger gentlehobbits, sheltered in the doorway
from the rain that was now beginning to come down in
earnest. "Your dear son, I remember from that evening, and
of course, he looks so very much like you, the dear lad.
And this would be?" Stopping under the overhang, in front
of Fatty, she surveyed him cautiously.
But Fatty was equal to the challenge. "Fredeger Bolger, my
dear lady," he announced loftily, raising a competing
eyebrow, and producing a finely calibrated bow for the
occasion. "And I can't believe that Frodo managed to fail
to introduce such a lovely creature as yourself on any of
my previous visits. I shall have to speak severely to him,
indeed, I must."
Lobelia fixed him firmly with her gaze, but Fatty faced
the threat with aplomb, dispensing out a rather insouciant
grin. However, by this time, Saradoc had managed to get
movement back into his limbs, and hastening toward her,
escorted the guest toward the front room, directing Merry
to make sure that the best guestroom was prepared, and
that her things were delivered appropriately. A quick
desperate glance towards Fatty, as he passed him in the
entryway, was understood, and with an unseen smirk, Fatty
followed the older pair of hobbits into Brandy Hall's best
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dinner had at last been maneuvered through, and the
general boundaries of polite conversation had been staked
out, as the four gentlehobbits withdrew back to the parlor
for another bottle of wine, sweet this time, and the
afters. No one brought up Esme, and indeed, surmising from
one or two stray remarks made by the guest of honor, the
fact that she would not be present was known to Lobelia
when she made her travel plans, a detail that caused
Saradoc to mutter a quick command to Merry, as he had
passed him in the hall on the way to the parlor after
dinner, that he was not to be left alone with her under
Bilbo was also found to be a touchy subject, and was
rapidly dropped, and even the subject of Lotho was
politely brought up exactly once, and subsequently left
alone, by surprisingly mutual silent consent from all
those present. However, Merry was finding the politesse of
a conversation based on the weather, and the likely
outcome of this year's crops, wearying in the extreme, and
took a great impish delight in Fatty's sudden bland
inquiry into Frodo's health.
"I'm sure I wouldn't know. I rarely see him," Lobelia gave
the speaker a distasteful glance, as if he had brought up
a topic eminently unsuited for polite company.
"But if I understand all this properly, because you know,
I do get so dreadfully confused at times, you met these
other two at some sort of festivities that Frodo was
putting on?" he pursued the topic artlessly, beaming a
broad smile beneficently in her direction.
"Well, yes," Lobelia admitted reluctantly, dabbing at her
lips daintily with a linen napkin, "but that was only
because he assured me that there would be some hobbits of
quality there, rather than the normal low sort he keeps
about the place. Of course, with the lack of a proper
upbringing that he has had, one can hardly expect..."
"Oh, now that's curious," Fatty was shaking his head in
bewilderment. "Since he was, after all, raised right here
in Brandy Hall, one would think some of it would have
"Well, of course he was certainly started off right,"
Lobelia hastened to assure Saradoc, with a swift murderous
glance in the direction of the other guest. "It's just
that all those years under Bilbo seemed to have had their
effect." Sensing a certain resistance toward this
hypothesis from the other three present, she quickly
added, "I'm afraid my dear cousin never had much of a
sense of responsibility, and left Frodo to more or less
finish growing up on his own. And then, Hobbiton society
is so very limited, and there are just not enough
gentlehobbits for a young lad with whom to associate."
"Oh, why then your Lotho and Frodo must have got on
swimmingly," Fatty brightly interjected, "being such a
small pool to choose from, and all." He beamed cheerfully
as Lobelia obviously tried to calculate the possibility
that this young stranger was actually fully aware of the
fact that Frodo and her son loathed each other with a
But with that, Saradoc stepped into the matter, determined
to halt the escalating tension in the room, much to
Merry's disappointment. "I am so sorry to have to excuse
myself," he spoke firmly, rising to his feet, with only
the thinnest veneer of regret. "A matter of business, I'm
afraid. Merry will be more than glad to show you about the
smial, and I have no doubt that you would welcome an early
evening after your travels."
Merry swallowed, and rose with as much politeness as he
could manage, wordlessly coerced by a certain tone in his
father's voice. "It would give me great pleasure, Miss
Lobelia," he bravely said, walking over to her and
offering an arm.
"Oh, please, just Lobelia," she unmistakably giggled at
his formality, rising and sweeping back her rather
elaborate frock with a flourish before taking the arm
Merry was offering her. "After all, we are cousins to a
certain degree, are we not?"
With that disturbing thought in his mind, Merry nearly
didn't hear Fatty's low chuckle, as he followed the others
from the room.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Saradoc strode into the kitchen of Brandy Hall, where he
customarily took a quick first breakfast before making his
initial rounds of the morning, and nearly tripped over his
feet in consternation. There, seated at the center of the
unusually empty long table, where the working folk of the
Hall customarily took their first breakfast, was an
unexpected figure, hair elaborately curled, and clad in
something ruffled and beribboned in a brightish green
velvet, daintily sipping a cup of tea, smallest finger
fully extended in the height of current fashion. There was
a plate of toast in front of her, pieces of which had been
liberally smeared with honey, and elegantly picked at. The
rest of the kitchen staff was warily watching her, while
theoretically attending to their chores, and Cook gave
Saradoc a dark look immediately upon his entrance.
Saradoc gulped. His wife, in a foul mood, could be
handled, but it really didn't do to upset Cook. "Why,
Lobelia!" he proclaimed, with a somewhat forced
cheerfulness. "What an unanticipated pleasure, seeing you
up so very early."
Lobelia rose at his remark, and Saradoc did have to admit
that, whatever her age might be, a fact about which he
dared not surmise, she had managed to remain a fine
figure. With a gracious tilt of her head, she indicated
that she might be entertained by a tour of the estate, and
Saradoc, to his very great amazement, found himself
agreeing to precisely that. It was several hours later
when they returned to the Hall for elevensies, and Saradoc
could not remember the last time he had had quite such an
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Merry was poking moodily at his cinnamon roll as Fatty, a
large platter of cream scones before him and in the
process of vanishing, one by one, kept a close eye out the
round front parlor window.
"Ah. Your father and his illustrious guest," he casually
mentioned, his mouth only somewhat obstructed by the
pastry. "They've been gone all morning," he further
observed pensively, washing down the scones with half a
pot of tea as Merry stood up and glared at the pair out
the window from behind Fatty's shoulder. "What do you
suppose she has in mind?" Fatty turned, glancing at Merry.
"Why, she's after him," Merry observed scornfully, his
eyes narrowing. "Any fool can see that."
"Well, yes," Fatty nodded impatiently, "but, you see, my
dear thing, the question is why." He continued to stare
meditatively out into the drizzly morning, pondering the
question. "It can't be the money, you know, for there's
certainly no chance of that. Her son seems to be a bit of
a catastrophe, from what I've heard, but I really don't
see her taking you in instead, Merry. So what could it be
that lures this impressive creature here?"
Merry could not help but raise an eyebrow at that
question. "She is also a very ancient creature, Fatty.
They have reasons the rest of us will never fathom."
"Perhaps," Fatty murmured thoughtfully, continuing to
stare out of the window. "Perhaps."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Luncheon was a decidedly more comfortable affair than the
previous evening's dinner had been. Saradoc, heartened by
the interest that his guest had shown in the estate that
morning, was in an expansive mood, and Lobelia, with the
merest hint of a smile, and the appropriate nod of her
head from time to time, kept him positively chattering
throughout the meal. Merry watched his father with
undisguised interest. He had always considered him to be
the sort of hobbit who generally kept his thoughts and
emotions closely guarded, but apparently, he had been
quite mistaken. He wasn't at all sure how Lobelia was
managing this entrancement, for when her keen glance
occasionally fell upon him, he felt as if he was once
again an awkward teen, mistakenly allowed in the room with
his elders, when he really should be having milk toast in
the nursery. He gave a quick glance towards Fatty for
support, but as usual, Fatty's expression was serene and
There was another matter preying upon Merry's mind,
however, in addition to his father's unanticipated
transformation. Esme Brandybuck was due to return to
Brandy Hall on the following day, and by a very
unfortunate turn of events, Pippin had not been able to
time his visit to coincide at all with her absence. Merry
suspected the hand of Aunt Lana in that, and even more
likely, that of his mother, but fortuitously enough,
Pippin had finally managed to solve whatever difficulties
had been placed in his path, and was due to arrive at
Brandy Hall this very afternoon. Fatty was pleasant enough
company in his own way, to be sure, but Pippin's
companionship was incomparably more desirable. Merry
suddenly felt impatient beyond all bounds with the
conversation and with every other hobbit in the dining
room, and heartily wished that his father might be enticed
to continue his tour of the Buckland estate for Lobelia's
entertainment, and that, somehow, they could be persuaded
to pack Fatty along besides. And much to his amazement,
and great delight, exactly that did happen.
In fact, as he lay in his bed with Pippin, precisely two
and a quarter hours later, Pippin was equally as puzzled
by Fatty's actions. The customary greetings between the
both of them had been immediate, spontaneous, and
extremely gratifying, involving, as it always did these
days, all clothing being shed as quickly as possible, just
as soon as Merry had kicked the door of his bedroom closed
behind them. Sated for the moment, Pippin sat next to a
sprawled-out Merry, absently trailing his hand down
Merry's chest and across his pleasingly lightly padded
"Why on earth did he want to go poking along after them?"
Pippin mused, before Merry sighed dramatically, unable,
however, to stop the grin that Pippin's actions were
"Pippin, really, you do need to give me a few moments
"No, actually, I don't think I do," Pippin continued
watching his hand descend even further, as if it were
entirely unrelated to him, and the truth of his statement
was instantly quite evident.
"I suppose not, you insatiable Took," Merry laughed at
that, and abruptly pulled Pippin down for quite an
extended kiss, wrapping both of his legs around Pippin's
backside, as Pippin, with an only slightly muffled giggle
of delight, settled his hand strategically between the two
of them, and soon had to break his mouth away,
passionately breathing Merry's name. With an
uncontrollable thrust upward, and a shudder that flooded
deliciously through his entire frame, Merry gave a hearty
cry of joy, followed by an answering echo from Pippin.
Before very long, the two figures were comfortably, if
somewhat stickily, tangled together, and asleep in the
light of the reddish late afternoon sun as it streamed in
through the high round window, completely oblivious to the
matter of Fatty's motivations for now.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For the afternoon's excursion, Saradoc had brought out the
ponies, and he had been delighted to discover that his
guest was quite a competent rider. She rode beside him, in
the fine mist of the grey afternoon, and he could not help
but notice her straight back, and easy sway to the gait of
the animal. Esme was a fine rider, as well, one of the
qualities that had originally attracted him to her, but he
had to admit that Bilbo's cousin was every bit as
proficient. Catching a glimpse of her sharp profile, as he
brought his pony up beside her, he indicated the path that
wound down from the spring pastures to the Brandywine, and
vainly tried to remember anything Bilbo might have
mentioned about her. Unfortunately, Bilbo had been rather
fixated on her ambitions regarding Bag End, and had said
very little otherwise. He had mentioned something as well
about spoons, he recalled vaguely, but whether she
collected them, or disliked them, or gave them freely
away, he really had no idea. But certainly, Bilbo had
never mentioned that she was quite handsome, in a stern
sort of way, and amazingly easy to talk to.
They turned down to path to the river, and Saradoc cast a
casual glance behind them. Fatty was still following
along, affably silent as usual. Saradoc had been perplexed
all afternoon by his son's young friend's uncharacteristic
desire to bond with nature, and was a trifle disturbed and
annoyed by it as well. Surely, he needed no chaperone, but
Fatty seemed to consider being the third of the party to
be his duty.
As it neared the river, the path suddenly dipped down
through a wild tangle of branches, and Lobelia gave a
short exclamation of annoyance as one caught in her hair.
"You might want to clear this dead wood out, Saradoc," she
exclaimed, with a light laugh, as Saradoc quickly came to
her aid, reaching over from his mount, and gently freeing
the twisted and whitened branch from her grey curls.
"I do beg your pardon," he smiled apologetically, holding
up the branch to let her pass before him. "I so seldom
ride this way, I hadn't realized how overgrown this path
"It isn't dead, you know," came a quiet voice from behind
them, and they both watched, puzzled, as Fatty rode past
them, and stopped his pony not far ahead. "Forsythia," he
commented, nodding to another tangle of grey branches,
closer to the river. But unlike the others, these were
covered in brilliant golden bloom, shining like the sun
itself through the mist rising above the river. "Spring
isn't that far off, you see." Turning toward Lobelia, he
added, with a slight smile, "You might not want to be too
hasty in judging what might be lost."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Saradoc poured himself another goblet of wine, and studied
his dinner partners. There were now five at the table, but
his son and Pippin had long since given up any pretense of
involvement in the rest of the company, and he well knew
that they would probably be leaving before the afters
could be served. He couldn't help but smile slightly as he
watched his son, golden curls catching glints of
candlelight, but his eyes shining even more brightly as he
exchanged stolen glances with the hobbit seated next to
him. It had been a very long time ago, but Saradoc could
still remember what that had felt like, the excitement of
the lightest of touches, the thrill knowing what was to
come. He didn't begrudge his son a bit of the happiness
that he knew he felt, and it was with great regret that he
had come to realize that he would never be able to
persuade his wife to feel the same. Duties and
responsibilities would be inevitable in his son's life,
but there should be some joy as well.
With a shrug, he turned his attention back to his guest of
honor. She would be leaving on the morrow, and quite
considerately, had managed to arrange for the wagon from
Hobbiton to pick her up before Esme's arrival later in the
afternoon. Not that he planned on hiding her visit from
his wife, of course, but it just seemed prudent to him,
somehow, that their paths should actually not cross.
Certainly, Esme was not given to jealousy, especially when
the thought of having any cause to be jealous of anyone at
least a full twenty years older than she would never have
occurred to her. Possibly more than twenty years. That was
not a speculation Saradoc was prepared to make.
He was beginning, however, to understand why Lobelia might
have come to Brandy Hall. He knew that her husband had
died a few years back, and that her son had been involved
in some sort of trouble, and was currently not welcomed in
Hobbiton. Frodo seemed to have inherited Bilbo's attitude
towards her, with absolute justification, he had no
doubts, but that must have left her feeling, at least in
Hobbiton, quite isolated. And isolation was something
Saradoc understood all too well. With an effort, he
dragged his thoughts away from a cold foreboding regarding
the morrow's dinner, when he and Esme would sit alone
across from each other at this table, eating in silence.
And then there was Fatty. Characteristically, he seemed to
not be noticing in the least that he was, in a manner of
speaking, the odd hobbit out. Occupied as Fatty was with
his meal (and Saradoc could only admire Cook's skills when
she aspired to greater heights, as she generally did in
Fatty's presence and Esme's absence), he was still
managing to inject the occasional comment into the
conversation. Indeed, to Saradoc's way of thinking, he was
taking an odd delight in introducing subjects that very
nearly crossed the boundaries of decorum, given his fellow
dining companions. He seemed absolutely incapable of
keeping to topics such as next summer's Market, and the
possibility of it being an especially fine year for oats,
and had, once again, brought up the especially touchy
subject of Frodo.
"You must forgive me, my dear lady," he glanced in
Lobelia's direction directly after a large bowl of creamed
parsnips that had been in his vicinity quite suddenly
managed to empty itself, "but I find it quite curious that
you and Frodo don't manage to see more of each other.
These family connections do get me so very confused, but
aren't the both of you the last of the Baggins in the
vicinity? Excepting your charming young son, I might add."
Lobelia lifted her head with a frosty air, and even Merry
and Pippin suddenly directed their attention back towards
her, since her response promised to be interesting. "I'm
afraid that he brings the name of Baggins no honor," she
said briefly, engaging Fatty's eye with no hesitation.
Merry almost had to say something at that remark, but
caught his father's eye at just the last moment and
subsided, squirming slightly in his seat. Pippin watched
the exchange guilelessly, his glance immediately reverting
back to Fatty.
But Fatty nonchalantly picked up a piece of bread, and
quite without shame, began wiping up the gravy on his
plate with it. "How very odd. I had always thought he was
rather well-respected in Hobbiton. But, of course, I go
that way so infrequently."
"He would be thought of more highly," Lobelia sniffed, "if
he had had the decency to live alone, as long as it seems
he has chosen not to marry, rather than moving that
working class lad into his home."
"Ah," Fatty picked up a bit of mashed carrot along with
the gravy on his bread. "Of course, marrying is, I
suppose, the ideal situation." He shoveled the bread into
his mouth at that moment, leaving his audience to reflect
upon the astonishing possibility of Frodo's choosing, at
some point, to marry.
Some of the drawbacks to that proposal immediately
presented themselves to at least one member of the
audience, and she hastened to interject, "Not that there
is anything wrong with him choosing not to marry, of
course. Some hobbits are by nature not meant to marry.
It's just that I find it so unsuitable for a hobbit of his
position to be so obviously infatuated with his gardener."
"So, and do try to help me out here, because I get so
horribly muddled," Fatty, with a puzzled air, pursued her
relentlessly. "Then it's the discrepancy in their status
that you believe is the issue? But my dear lady, I had
always understood that it's precisely those differences
that give the mystery of love its power. The known, the
expected, the commonplace? Why, what's the charm in that?
Nay, I would claim it is the mysterious, the ambiguous,
the sweet thrill of connecting with the unknown and
unknowable other, that allows love its supremacy over all
Merry and Pippin sat mesmerized, staring at Fatty as if he
had suddenly gone green and sprouted leaves. Even Saradoc
was taken aback by Fatty's odd eloquence. But Lobelia
narrowed her eyes, and gave him a thoughtful look.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The room had remained unlit, by mutual consent, to keep
the distraction of sight from allowing them to maintain
their focus on the other senses. There was a certain
concession in this, as much as the acknowledgement of the
loss of firmness and elasticity of flesh. And yet there
were compensations as well. There are skills that are not
known to the young, and a stamina and sense of pacing that
are likewise a mystery, as well as a curious sense of joy
in undertaking such a gesture of trust, of reliance on
another, at an age at which the risks are fully
No time had been wasted on kisses, nor indeed in leisurely
disrobing, for there was no question as to what was
intended by either of them. Both were acutely aware,
however, of the ebb and flow of sensation, the natural
rhythm of their bodies, the laughing tease of coming to
the edge, and then retreating, seductively, from that
It was late into the night as she lay, lulled into a
delicious lassitude, glad beyond all measure that she had
taken this chance. But she could tell that her partner was
not in the mood for sleep either, as she felt those strong
hands on her again, stroking up her sides, molding
themselves around her breasts. His erection, strong once
again, pushed into her backside as she stretched herself
tantalizingly back against him. Giving a throaty chuckle,
she turned suddenly in his arms and guided his hand down
between her legs and grasped him appreciatively. "Thrice
before you sleep, my dear?" she murmured, serenely
delighted. "Well, that's rare."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next morning, and a beautiful clear lovely morning it
was, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins departed with, what was for
her, positively a grin on her face. She had, after all,
received what she had come for, if not entirely in the
manner she had expected. She was extremely pleasant to the
apprehensive driver, and had nothing but kind words for
the Brandy Hall staff that helped bring out her luggage.
And as a matter of fact, as the scullery maid told the
astonished Cook, she was actually humming some antiquated
tune, and gave Saradoc Brandybuck a hearty kiss on the
cheek on parting.
Saradoc, still full of regret over missed opportunities,
was rather mystified as well, but bade her good-bye with
genuine reluctance, and sincerely insisted that she would
be most welcome to come at any time, even if the Mistress
of Brandy Hall should also be present.
Merry and Pippin, who had shown up just in time to wish
her farewell, not being present for either first or second
breakfast, received each a cheerful parting wave, and a
sincere invitation to stop by anytime they happened to be
in Hobbiton, causing them to eye her warily, as if age had
quite suddenly taken her wits.
But at the very last moment before she left, Fatty
sauntered out, bags in hand, and giving his hosts a bow,
tossed them lightly into the cart as well. "Think I'll be
pottering on, old things," he grinned complacently in
their astonished direction. "I understand the spring bloom
is especially fine in Hobbiton this year. I'll drop you
all a line."
Lobelia gave him a cool glance as he joined her in the
wagon. "Such an impertinent young hobbit," she murmured,
and only Fatty could see the smile she was hiding.
"I'm afraid I am that, my lady," he answered, with a
remarkably cheeky smile, settling himself beside her. "But
I've been told I have my good points, as well."
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