“I am very glad to see you again, Drogo,” Bilbo said as he carefully poured tea into mugs for himself and his guest. “Very glad.”
“It has been a while hasn’t it?” Drogo replied.
“Nearly three months.” Bilbo handed Drogo a mug and sat down. He took a sip of his tea before looking at his younger cousin,
“Now lad, what is the matter?”
Drogo looked up surprised. “Matter? There is nothing the matter, Uncle. What could possibly be the matter?” He blushed, his cheeks as hot as his drink.
“I see,” Bilbo said nodding. “Who is she?” Drogo’s cheeks became redder.
“How did you know?”
“My dear lad, it may not have occurred to you, but I was once your age. To act as if nothing is the matter, when one are secretly pining over a lass is nothing new to me, bachelor though I am. Who is she?”
Drogo looked down at his mug. “Primula Brandybuck,” he murmured.
“Ah yes,” Bilbo said. “A very pretty girl.”
“She is beautiful, Uncle! Her hair is like sunshine and her eyes, oh Uncle. Her eyes are blue like forget-me-nots and are round like saucers. Her skin is white, like fresh clean wool. Primula is so sweet and gracious.” Drogo sighed. “I love her, Bilbo.”
“Then why don’t you court her?” Bilbo asked.
“How can I? Look at me, Bilbo! I am homely at best. I can’t just court the most beautiful hobbitess in the Shire. Do you know that it’s rumored she has the fairy blood of the first Took’s wife? She is surrounded by suitors much better looking than I. What makes you think she will even care about me”
“Because you have a kind and gentle heart, lad.” Bilbo clapped a hand on Drogo’s shoulder. “It is worth a try.”
Primula sat in her sitting room, redoing the hem on a dress she was making for Asphodel. It was a lovely dress; pale green satin with white lace at the sleeves and waist. But she hadn’t sewn the hem properly, and when Delly first tried it on, it fell. Primula sighed. Sewing was not one of her strengths.
The door opened and Primula looked up to see her maid enter. Lilas bobbed a curtsy. “You have visitor, Miss Primula.”
“Who is it, Lily?” Primula asked excitedly.
“Mr. Drogo Baggins.” Primula’s face fell. Another suitor.
“Invited him in, Lilas,” she said half-heartedly. Primula carefully folded Delly’s dress and placed it on the table beside her. She stood up and smoothed her white dress.
Suitors. They came close to driving her crazy. Tooks, Bracegirldes, Hornblowers, and now, Bagginses. It was always the same: they would arrive with flowers, or sweets, or sometimes jewelry, and then they would throw themselves on their knees and dramatically declare their love for her. Their half-mad love words made her sick. They only loved her face and she knew it. The old gossips had begun to call her Primula the Spinster. Prim sighed. The title was sounding better every day.
“Drogo Baggins, ma’am.” She led the hobbit inside and left, closing the door behind her.
Drogo Baggins was short, and a little chubby. His brown locks came almost down to his chocolate eyes. He was not handsome, by any means, and yet there was something about him that endeared him to Primula immediately.
“I hope you are having a nice day, Miss Brandybuck,” He said shyly. For a moment she had been taken aback. No wild declarations, no sweet-sick poetry.”Yes I am. Thank you,” she replied awkwardly. She frowned slightly, trying to see what he held behind his back.
“Oh I almost forgot! I’m so sorry!” He held out a small bouquet of her name flower. “These are for you.” She touched one of the silky-smooth petals.
“I’m sorry I didn’t give them to you earlier,” he continued. “It’s just that I fidget so much that I always seem to have to have something in my hand. My sister, Dora, scolds me so when she catches me fidgeting. I used to bite my nails when I was little. It was horrible. I would bite them all the way down to the quick–I’m sorry. I must be boring you terribly.”
Primula looked up from her bouquet. “Oh no. You’re not. Please, go on.”
“Do you like them?”
Drogo smiled. “I grew them myself. Though I had a little help from my cousin’s gardener. Well, at least he hopes to be a gardener. We’ll see as soon as he comes of age.” He paused. “Primula, would you like to take a walk with me?”
“I would love to.”