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Title: Relatives & Family I
Author: Flakedice
Fandom (Hobbit/LOTR/SIL/crossover): Hobbit
Characters/pairings: Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield
Rating/warnings/etc: PG. Nothing worse than the book or the movies
Summary: Lobelia is seeking to ruin what remains of Bilbo's reputation in the Shire. Torn by grief and guilt, Bilbo is doing little to stop her. But not everyone is willing to let Bilbo fade.

Green Hills:

Relatives & Family I



"Gerontius!" Lobelia gave the Thain one of her sweetest smiles. "It's so good of you to invite me to tea."

Gerontius' white eyebrows rose slightly at her words but he stepped back to let her inside. "As Thain, my door is open to all, Lobelia."

Lobelia shut her parasol with a sharp snap, face averted to hide any expression of irritation. Gerontius was a stubborn old coot. When she glanced up again, her smile was back in place. "For which the citizens of Hobbiton are very grateful."

Adamanta, Gerontius' wife was waiting in the corridor behind her husband. "Lobelia." Her voice held a note of annoyance below the welcome. Lobelia had heard the exact same tone in Bilbo's voice. "How kind of you to visit."

Lobelia's hackles rose. She smiled extra sweetly. "I have business with your husband, the Thain."

Adamanta's eyes narrowed slightly but her smile remained fixed, as warm as Lobelia's. "Of course. Important matters, I'm sure." The tone of her voice suggested she thought they were anything but.

Tooks. Conniving, dishonest snipes the lot of them. It explained a lot about Bilbo.

"Very much so." Lobelia folded her parasol and handed it to Adamanta with a smile.

For a moment it looked like she would refuse but good manners prevailed. Adamanta took Lobelia's parasol with a tight smile. "I'm sure Gerontius will set you straight."

Lobelia resisted the urge to snarl, her smile becoming wooden.

Gerontius, showing the wisdom for which he was known, quickly directed Lobelia towards the dining room. A pot of tea was waiting along with a tray of baked goods.

"Well, now, Lobelia," Gerontius started once tea, scones and slices of Adamanta's suspiciously delicious tea cake had been served. "What important matter requires such a hasty meeting?"

"I'm concerned for dear cousin Bilbo." Lobelia spread jam on her scone, watching Gerontius from the corner of her eye. "His health is failing. And I suspect his mind is following."

Gerontius set his cup back on his saucer. "Lobelia.” The old hobbit sounded tired. “It may be true that Bilbo has been quieter since he returned. But the lad had been travelling for more than a year. He might be acting a little odd, but he'll settle down."

"Like he did last night?" Lobelia raised an eyebrow. "Gorbo Sandyman found him wandering around in the dark of night with a sword."

Gorbo wasn't the most talkative of hobbits, but his sister, Tansy, was. Word of Gorbo's encounter with Bilbo hadn't taken long to reach Lobelia's ears. And she had made certain word had spread quickly through the rest of the Shire.

Gerontius frowned. "Yes." He regarded Lobelia over the rim of his cup. "Word spread surprisingly quickly this morning."

Lobelia raised her chin. "It's a matter of great concern in the Shire. If Bilbo goes wandering around in the depths of night with a weapon, who knows what he'll do?" She recalled the letters she had seen on Bilbo's desk. "He isn't right in the head, Gerontius." Her voice grew sharp. "He's a danger to the Shire."

Gerontius was quiet for a long moment, taking great care to slowly carve a bite of cake from his slice. "Bilbo was gone for a long time. A journey like that can change a Hobbit."

"Yes, he's changed." Lobelia jumped on his words. In her opinion Bilbo had always been a danger to the Shire in one way or another. It would have been better if he'd never returned. "And not for the better."

Gerontius gave her a sharp look. "I heard you went to visit Bilbo yesterday."

Lobelia took a sip from her cup, trying to hide her suddenly shaking fingers. "I did."

The Thain's eyes narrowed as they dipped down to take in the tea cup clasped in her hands. "And?" He was watching her face closely.

Lobelia knew she had to tread very carefully. And just maybe she could use the situation to her advantage. "Gorbo wasn't exaggerating when he said Bilbo was walking around with a sword."

Gerontius' forehead creased. "You saw it."

“It was hard not to," Lobelia retorted sharply, recalling the nerve of Bilbo to threaten her. "He had it in his hand."

With a sense of satisfaction, Lobelia watched Gerontius’ frown deepen.

The Thain laid aside his fork, giving Lobelia his full attention. "And why would Bilbo have a sword in hand during your visit, Lobelia?" There was a world of disapproval in his voice.

Disapproval Lobelia intended to focus on Bilbo.

"I was simply looking at some of his scribbles." She grimaced in disgust, unable to help herself. "The next thing I knew, he was threatening me in his own house." She shuddered for effect. "Imagine what people would think if they knew the Baggins of Bag End was threatening his guests with violence?"

Indeed, what would they think?

Gerontius wore a look of deep concern. He nodded slowly to himself. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Lobelia." The words had an absent tone, the Thain clearly troubled by Lobelia’s news.

Lobelia hastily hid the flash of triumph that filled her at his words. "Well, anything for the well-being of the Shire. As a Baggins, it's only right that I see the reputation of the Family is maintained." She peered at him demurely from under her lashes.

"Indeed." The suddenly assessing gaze the Thain fixed on her suggested that he didn't quite agree. "I'll visit Bilbo tomorrow."

Lobelia resisted a frown. She hadn't intended for Gerontius to visit himself. Bilbo had an annoying cleverness and a way with words. No doubt Gerontius would let Bilbo try and talk him into thinking he was harmless.

But the Thain was genuinely disturbed by what she had told him. Particularly the mention of Bilbo’s sword. He was taking her seriously. And after seeing Bilbo for himself, Gerontius couldn't deny that he needed help. That Bilbo might be better off with Primula rather than rattling around Bad End by himself.

"Well." The Thain looked a little cheerier, though some of his worry lingered in the lines of his mouth. Even so, there was a hint of warning in his voice. "Leave it to me, Lobelia. No doubt this will get sorted out."

"No doubt." She smiled into her cup. If nothing else, she could ensure that the rest of the Shire knew the Thain was concerned by Bilbo's behaviour as well.

Even the Thain was known to cave to public opinion when the outrage was great enough.

~x~X~x~

On to Part Two

~x~X~x~

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