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A Conspiracy of Hobbits  by Dreamflower


The next day, Frodo approached Merry alone. His manner was hesitant and unlike his usual confident self. Merry knew immediately that something was up.

“Merry, will you be going home to Buckland soon?”

“Frodo, are you saying I’ve worn out my welcome here?”

“No! No, of course not!” Frodo flushed. “I just want to ask a favor of you.”

“Anything, cousin, you know that.” For one brief instant, Merry had hope that Frodo was going to confide the truth to him after all.

“Well, I’m finding it difficult to keep up Bag End. It’s really too much for an old bachelor like me, and--and even dragon’s gold doesn’t last forever…” his voice trailed off lamely, then he cleared his throat. “I--I thought I might move back to Buckland.”

Merry tried not to goggle. Frodo was such a bad liar. Running out of money? Did he really think anyone would believe that? Even if his Baggins money was running out--which Merry didn’t for an instant believe--he knew for a fact that Frodo had yet to touch a copper of his substantial Brandybuck inheritance. Frodo was looking at him anxiously. “You’re not joking,” Merry finally responded.

“No, I’m not. I was hoping you could find me a nice little hole or house in Buckland; I can give you an authority to buy it for me.”

“I’ll be glad to do it for you,” said Merry sadly, “how soon will you want it?”

“I’d like to be able to move in by the twenty-second of Halimath.”

“On your birthday.”

“Mmm--hmm,” said Frodo miserably.

“Will you be able to sell Bag End by then?”

“There’s already someone who has a standing offer to buy.” He refused to meet Merry’s eyes.

“Frodo! No! Not--” Now Merry did goggle at his cousin, whose expression was more miserable than he had ever seen it.

Frodo nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

It was unspeakable.

The Sackville-Bagginses were finally going to get their hands on Bag End.

Merry felt his blood run cold. This was the clearest indication yet that Frodo had no plan to return to the Shire, ever. That cursed, cursed Ring!


Pippin was furious at the news. He just barely remembered in time that he was not supposed to know anything, and kept from blurting out what a daft plan it was. Instead he vented his feelings in language that a tweenager of his social standing should not even have known.

Merry didn’t have the heart to rebuke him. He agreed with every profane word.


Sam knew. He was in the back garden viciously double digging one of the beds. The dirt flew, while tears streamed down his face, and choice words went through his mind.


A few days later, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her son Lotho arrived to sign the contracts. In addition to Merry and Sam, Fatty and Folco were there, as were Gaffer Gamgee, and Farmer Cotton and his son Tom, to provide the seven witnesses. Pippin for once was glad he was not of age, since it meant he did not have to put his name to this farce.

Lobelia was her usual rude self. Pippin amused himself by imagining how she would look if he upended the bottle of red ink over her head. Lotho’s supercilious sneer got on everyone’s nerves. He either did not know or did not care how close he came to getting his face punched by at least five different people.

There was a moment of interest. Right in front of Lotho, Folco Boffin offered Frodo an interest free loan to tide him over if he really wanted to keep Bag End. Frodo looked stupefied. He’d tried so hard to make people believe he was running out of money, and here was someone who actually believed it; he was also touched at Folco’s generosity--it was obvious that he was at a loss for words. Lotho, however, turned an interesting shade of purple, and began to bluster nastily about people keeping their word. Finally, Frodo found his voice and thanked Folco gently, and told him that it was too late to change his mind. Fatty heaved a sigh of relief. Other people in the room might believe that Folco was just having a joke on Lotho, but Fatty knew that the idea had just occurred to his friend, so he blurted it out.

As soon as the signing was over, Frodo hustled the unwelcome buyers out, in defiance of hobbit custom, which usually required food and drink be offered afterwards. At this point, he did not much care if he gave offense; it was dire enough that they were getting his beloved Bag End.

Gandalf had kept himself out of sight. He had told Frodo that this step was not necessary, but could not dissuade him. He feared that this was only the first of many painful sacrifices his dear friend was going to be making in the near future.

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