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Just to be With You  by Pervinca

Just to be With You


2: The Bolgers Arrive

Estella Bolger sat silently in her carriage trying to listen to what her older brother, Fredegar was telling her. In truth, she did not hear a word that he said. Her mind was debating and trying to justify just why she had even accepted the invitation to Meriadoc Brandybuck’s birthday party. She had never been one to enjoy large social events. She tended to shun them completely, giving her the reputation for being rude and antisocial.

But the real reason was nothing like that at all. Estella was a “lad’s lass”, meaning she had more fun climbing trees, playing in the mud and running across fields than with dolls and dresses. She had been this way since she was small, and her father did not seem to mind, but her mother insistently tried to make her “a proper lady”. This usually pertained to wearing ridiculously uncomfortable dresses and being paraded before a hoard of potential suitors. Estella was a pretty lass and her family quite well off, so she was a perfect catch for any young hobbit. But Estella usually made it quite clear she had little interest in marriage.

She was not sure why she had given in when Freddie begged her to come to this party. She supposed it had a lot to do with her being almost unable to refuse her beloved brother anything. And he had assured her that he would keep her as far as possible from their mother, so any potential betrothals could be avoided. He would also introduce her to all of his friends.

Estella had met Freddie’s friends once or twice, but her years of seclusion had made her quite shy, and she wondered how she should act around them. Would his male friends be annoyed by having her around all the time? And if she was to spend time with his female friends, what would they think of her?

“You really will have fun, Stella!” Fredegar cried. Estella was finally able to interpret his words. “Just wait until you meet Pervinca. She’s the same age as you, and in some ways a lot like you. I’m sure the two of you will be perfect friends in no time at all.”

Estella simply clenched her teeth and nodded. She hoped Fredegar was right.

* * * * * *

It was dusk when the Bolgers arrived at Crickhollow. Fredegar caught sight of Pippin and Frodo inspecting the garden. He hardly waited for the carriage to stop before climbing out.

“Pippin! Frodo!”

“Well, hullo, Fatty!” Pippin replied, embracing his friend. “Are you staying at this cosy little house too?”

“That we are,” Odovacar Bolger answered.

“Welcome, Cousin Odo,” Frodo greeted with a bow. This was merely a courtesy, since Odo was only related to Frodo by marriage. Frodo saw Estella and asked, “And who might this lovely young lass be?”

“Oh, this is Stella, my baby sister,” Fredegar answered, “Remember her? Well, I finally managed to convince her to make an appearance at one of our little get-togethers. You don’t mind her spending some time with us, do you?”

“Not al all!” Pippin replied, cheerily. “And I’m sure Pervinca won’t mind giving up some of her time either.”

“Pervinca might not be so happy to do so, Peregrin Took,” a voice belonging to Pervinca said. “Perhaps you should explain what I shall be donating my time to.”

Estella instantly liked Pervinca from the first moment she saw her. She looked a lot like Peregrin, with the glint in her green eyes and mischievous smirk.

“This is Fatty’s sister, Estella,” Pippin explained. “She needs another lass to look after her and I thought you might be able to do it, since Everard hasn’t arrived yet and Pimpernel is spending all her time with Berry.”

Pervinca flushed red at the mention of Everard’s name, but did not reply to Pippin. Instead, she smiled warmly at Estella. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mistress Estella.”

Estella’s fears were suddenly rekindled. Pervinca seemed to be the perfect proper lady Rosamunda wished Estella to be. Hadn’t Freddie said Pervinca was different to other lasses?

“No need to be so polite, Pervinca,” Fredegar laughed. “Stella’s even less of a lady than you are!”

“I resent that, Master Fredegar,” Pervinca returned with a smirk. She looked back at Estella. “But I am glad to hear that I shan’t have to spend a week inside sewing and doing other dull things like that.”

Estella let out a sigh of relief. “I am glad to find another lass who dislikes the same things I do. I don’t often come to parties, and I was worried that I might have to spend this one alone in the shadows.”

“We certainly won’t let that happen,” said Frodo, bowing again.

Rosa noticed this and smiled to herself. Was Frodo Baggins showing an interest in her Estella? That would indeed be a splendid match. Frodo was an enviously wealthy young hobbit, with no known female attachments. Rosa was certainly pleased Estella had decided to come to Merry’s party after all.

* * * * * *

Later that night, Merry managed to escape from his relatives and come to greet Fredegar and his family. He only vaguely remembered Estella – they had met once or twice in their youth – but now he was quite interested in all she had to say. He could not deny that she was pretty (though nothing like his cousins or Rosie), and her shy personality was charming. Despite all he had said to Berilac, Merry was starting to fancy Estella.

Berry had also come to Crickhollow, since he was rather good friends with Fredegar. He knew Estella better than any of the others and was the only one to notice Merry’s interest in the girl. He decided to keep this knowledge to himself.

While Estella, Pervinca and Pimpernel spoke together inside, Merry, Pippin, Frodo, Fredegar and Berry found a nice spot in the garden to sit. Frodo, Fatty and Berry took out their pipes, filled them and were soon blowing rings of competing sizes. Merry fished out two pipes and handed one to Pippin.

Pippin was not allowed to have a pipe of his own. In fact, Eglantine had decided that he was not yet old enough to smoke, a decision which his father and most of his other male relatives thought completely ridiculous. But Eglantine stood her ground. Of course, being the responsible older cousins that they were, Merry and Frodo allowed Pippin to smoke as long as there was little chance of Eglantine catching him, and one of them would usually lend the lad a pipe. They both felt it their duty, since it had been their older cousin, Bilbo, who started them smoking. Frodo had started when he moved to Bag End, and Merry had started a little while after Bilbo’s party (after all, Old Bilbo had given him a pipe, and it would have been rude for him not to use it).

“Are you sure you should be having that, Pippin?” Frodo teased. “What would your mother say?”

Peregrin snorted, indicating he thought as little of his mother’s rule as the rest of them. “She’ll say nothing about it as long as she doesn’t see me. And she won’t see me as long as the rest of you keep your mouths shut.”

“So, how have you two been spending your day, Meriadoc, Berilac?” Fredegar asked.

Berry smiled dreamily. “With a gem among lasses. With Pimpernel Took.” Pippin snickered, but Berilac glared at him. “I wouldn’t laugh, Master Peregrin. Just remember who found you in the Brandy Hall orchard with my dear cousin Celandine.”

Merry, Frodo and Fatty roared with laughter as Pippin blushed a glorious shade of crimson. They had not heard about that.

“When did that happen?” Merry asked between giggles.

“Just last Autumn, when Peregrin came for his annual visit. I noticed that both he and Celandine had missed elevenses, and thought it my duty to investigate. I dare say, we may have had some rather young parents on our hands had I not interrupted them.”

“It was nothing like that,” Pippin scoffed. “We were just fooling around, nothing at all serious. She said she was curious and wanted to do a bit of experimenting. No doubt she expects the same thing this visit.” He smiled behind his pipe. “Not that I’ll have any objections…”

His companions threw a couple of insults his way and ruffled his hair. At twenty-five, Peregrin was too young to be seriously involved in a relationship, but age had never stopped any hobbit from fooling around with a pretty lass.

“Peregrin! Peregrin Took!” Eglantine’s voice called. Pippin cursed, and quickly hid the pipe. His mother appeared a moment later. “There you are. I hope you aren’t trying to break my rule by sitting out here with your friends. Do you think that second-hand smoke is better for you than smoke from a pipe of your own? I want you inside now.”

Pippin hung his head and walked inside. He could not believe his mother had embarrassed him in front of all of his friends. It was not fair that he had to go inside early just because he was only a tween.

Frodo smiled, guessing Pippin’s thoughts. “Merry, you should probably be heading home soon. You won’t come of age for another few days, and I’m sure your own mother wants to baby you for as long as she can.” He winked at Pippin.

“Oh, if you say so, cousin Frodo,” Merry sighed. “Come Berry, they might lock us out if we don’t hurry. We shall come back tomorrow, though I suppose Berry will want to spend all his time with Pimpernel.”

As the Brandybucks wandered back to Brandy Hall and Pippin, Frodo and Fatty walked past Eglantine into Crickhollow, Eglantine asked, “What did Merry mean there about Berilac wanting to spend time with Pimpernel?”

* * * * * *

Estella had enjoyed her night with the Took sisters. Pimpernel was pleasant enough, though probably more of a “normal” lass than Estella or Pervinca. But spending time with her had made Estella feel more like a normal lass herself. She had listened eagerly as Pimpernel had detailed her time with Berilac.

“Oh, he is just the sweetest thing!” she squealed happily. “Oh, Pervinca, I think I may have found him. My one true love!”

“I certainly hope so, sister,” Pervinca replied. “Though I wonder what Father will think. After all, he lost his sister to a Brandybuck. Will he want to lose his daughter too?”

“I will deal with that obstacle when I come to it,” Pimpernel stated. She turned her attention to Estella. “I’m awfully sorry, dear Stella. You must have found my story frightfully boring!”

“Oh, no, Pimpernel!” Estella assured her new friend. She fidgeted with her fingers. “I’ve never actually heard a story like that before…”

“Truly? Well, that is surprising! Do you have anyone special?”

Though she was uncomfortable having the spotlight on her, Estella appreciated that Pervinca and Pimpernel were so interested in her. “Well, no. I have a lot of friends that are lads – very few that are lasses, actually. But not really anyone special.”

“So, I did not notice you staring at my cousin earlier?” Pervinca asked, slyly.

Estella gasped and blushed. She did not think anyone had seen her casting looks at Meriadoc Brandybuck. She had not seen him since they were both only children. For the first time in her life, Estella had actually regarded a hobbit with more than friendly interest. She stammered a response to Pervinca’s remark. “W-well, you may have seen me…”

“Well, this is splendid!” Pervinca cried. “I shall be able to play matchmaker for you now, since Merry seems to have beaten me to Pimpernel.”

Estella looked up at Pervinca, still blushing. “Would you…would you help me? I’m afraid I do not really have much of an idea on how to attract someone’s attention.”

Pervinca was going to say that she did not think Estella needed much help. She had also noticed Merry’s apparent interest. Unlike her brother, Merry seemed able to keep his hormones in check and rarely showed interest in lasses, unless it was to play a nasty prank upon them. The look on Merry’s face when he saw Estella was an expression Pervinca had seen before, though never on Merry’s face. She smiled at Estella. “Of course I shall help you, my dear Estella.”

* * * * * *

A/N: I couldn’t resist having yet another mother try to set her daughter up with Frodo (Eglantine suggests that Pervinca would make a fine wife for Frodo in “Life is What Happens”). As much as I don’t like him, I can imagine every hobbitess in the Shire wanting him to marry her daughter! Oh, and I have a note to make about the note in the previous chapter – Orlando Burrows can’t be the son of Milo Burrows, since Milo already had three sons (and one daughter). But he could still be a nephew or cousin, something like that.

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