Bilbo Baggins stepped out of his front door and breathed in the sweet summer air, the path was pleasantly warm on his feet and the sunlight highlighted just how beautiful his beloved Shire really was, it was a perfectly perfect day. He knew the market would be bustling with Hobbits and bursting with fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Artisans would be showing their best wares and the whole scene would be completed by the giggles of playing fauntlings. Bilbo had put on a nice waistcoat with the intention of wandering slowly down the lane and shopping for some nice jams to go with his breakfasts for the week, maybe gossiping a little with some of his favorite vendors, if he was lucky he might even manage to get there in time to get some of Poppy Gamwich’s delicious teacakes. He stood on his stoop and looked around at the picturesque landscape and then shook his head.
“Oh fuck it” he muttered as he turned back into his comfy home and slammed the door behind him.
“Something has to be done” the matronly Hobbit settled down at her small kitchen table and offered her guests a plate of scones.
“I’m not disagreeing Poppy,” May Goold told her “but shouldn’t it be Mr. Baggins family as does something?”.
Lily Burrowes snorted “tain’t a single Hobbit in his family as would do anything, they might as well have disowned him for all they seem to care”.
“Well, that’s not quite true” Poppy Gamwich picked up a tray of cheese cubes and pickle slices and offered them around, “I think there are plenty as do care they just don’t know what to do or they have other matters that seem more important to them, after all, those that don’t live right ‘round Hobbiton may not realize how bad things are”.
“I think you’re being too kind” Lily retorted “but, regardless, they’re not doing anything so I guess you’re saying we ought to?”.
“Quite” Poppy answered.
“Poor Mr. Baggins, it’s obvious that something mighty strange happened on that little trip he took with those dwarves” May offered “but I’m not really sure what’s wrong with him now, he’s home safe and sound where he should be”.
“Mayhaps that’s the problem?” Lily suggested, “he’s quite cranky but he also seems sad and he’s just shutting himself up in Bag End all the time now”.
“He didn’t even come to market today!” Poppy exclaimed, “he missed out on my teacakes and we all know he’s usually first in line for them”.
“Is that why you’ve got some cooling on the sill?” May asked.
“Well, I just thought as I’d take him some a little later,” Poppy said, “maybe put together a little basket of food, I hate to think of him in there starving himself, he’s so skinny now”.
“Do you think he’s not eating right?” Lily asked in concern “I could see about getting together some of my sausages and a couple of pies for him”.
“Milo Farfoot has some delicious new cheeses” May offered “and I could bake one of my spice cakes, Mr. Baggins has always liked them”.
“Milo Farfoot huh?” Lily smiled at May.
May blushed “his cheeses are the best in Hobbiton,” she said staunchly.
Poppy nodded “oh good for you” she twinkled “and, yes, they certainly are delicious my dear”.
May blushed again “oh now really, we aren’t courting or anything yet”.
“Yet” Lily patted her hand “that is the important word there and, as Poppy said, good for you”.
“Back to Mr. Baggins…” May said “we’ve got a bit off track, he certainly does look skinnier than he should and we can certainly help with that but how are we supposed to cheer him up? We don’t really know what’s wrong”.
“I think he misses his dwarves” Lily declared “or at least one of them anyway”.
“You think he fell in love with a dwarf?” May asked.
“Well, he’s certainly acting lovesick in my opinion” Poppy agreed with Lily “you should’ve seen him just staring off into the sky t’ other day, thinking about someone special if you ask me”.
“But whatever can we do about that?” May exclaimed “we don’t even know which dwarf, or where they are now, or why Mr. Baggins left them if he was in love with one of them”.
“Maybe he just missed his home?” Lily offered doubtfully.
“Well, he’s certainly not happy to be back though” Poppy shook her head “I don’t know, mayhaps we could write a letter to Gandalf, he’s the one what got Mr. Baggins into this mess in the first place. He can darn well help us get him out!”.
“Agreed!” Lily and May chorused.
“Pardon my language” Lily began “but that damn wizard likes to meddle so he can damn well meddle some more until our Mr. Baggins is happy again”.
“My thoughts precisely” Poppy nodded “more scones anyone?”.
The battered letter that awaited Gandalf at the inn in Bree was unexpected, it had obviously been there a while and the innkeeper confirmed he’d been holding onto it for nearly two months. Gandalf wasn’t exactly used to receiving mail, he picked it up and broke the seal, then huffed a small laugh as he read the neatly wrote letter.
I don’t reckon as you would remember me. My name is Poppy Gamwich and I live in Hobbiton. I’m writing you this note with the help of May Goold and Lily Burrowes (also of Hobbiton) because we are worried about our Mr. Baggins, Bilbo Baggins has not been himself since he came home from wherever it is that you took him.
We would very much like to discuss this matter with you at your earliest convenience. Please drop by my home in Hobbiton just as soon as you can.
Gandalf folded up the letter then stood still for a moment before nodding to himself. He left the inn and followed the road out of Bree and set off… in the opposite direction of the Shire.