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8
A Pretense at Civility

Written for the B2MEM "Civility" challenge, and for a second challenge submitted by Celeritas. For Celeritas and Dreamflower, as we've all wondered what this first meeting might have been like. Beta by RiverOtter.


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A Pretense at Civility


Lalia Took, the Thain’s Lady, looked on the younger couple who’d accompanied Longo Sackville-Baggins to the meeting of the Family Heads being held at the Great Smial. And was Longo actually reluctant as he introduced them?

“My son, Otho Sackville-Baggins, and his wife, Lobelia, formerly of the Bracegirdles.”

A Bracegirdle, eh? Well, that fit well enough, what with that watchful, acquisitive look in her eye and the patently false courteous smile on her lips. Lalia nodded an acknowledgment of the introduction. “Otho, and—Lobelia, wasn’t it? Welcome to the Great Smial. And have you been introduced to my son Ferumbras?”

Ferumbras turned impatiently from his conversation with Ferdinand. “And who is this? Oh, it’s you, Baggins. Your cousin hasn’t arrived as yet. Have you any idea what is keeping him? He is usually far more punctual than this!”

“Actually,” Otho answered him, “Bilbo hasn’t been seen in some months, not since he hosted those Dwarves in May. There’s been talk that he might have left Hobbiton with them.”

“Gone with Dwarves? Has he gone mad? Since when do Hobbits, and particularly Bagginses, go off with Dwarves?”

Lobelia sniffed. “Perhaps he has gone mad indeed,” she said. “He certainly is failing to display the level of responsibility one would expect from the head of the Baggins family from what I can tell. And, Mr. Took, I would remind you that my husband is not merely a Baggins, but is the heir to both the Sackville and the Baggins family heads.”

Lalia noted the tone in her voice, and suppressed an inner smile. Oh, but this one was so proud of that distinction, wasn’t she? And now she remembered where she’d heard the name of Lobelia Bracegirdle before—from Adalgrim and his wife. They’d had tales to tell of a young Bracegirdle lass who’d been pursuing Bilbo Baggins and doing her best to arouse his interest—just before she transferred her attentions to Bilbo’s younger cousin Drogo, who had retreated to Buckland to escape her attempts to seduce him.

Ambitious, she thought. Most ambitious, this one. Well, it appears she has managed at last to land at least one Baggins, for all his pretensions of being a Sackville. Amateur!

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, she thought, would bear watching—close watching! And so the Thain’s lady put on her widest smile, the one she believed appeared most sincere. In honeyed tones she cooed, “Oh, but you are most welcome, Mistress Sackville-Baggins. Most welcome indeed. I am so very sorry I could not have convinced Fortimbras to bring us to attend your nuptials—I remember that we did receive the invitation, but not, if I remember correctly, until but a month before the wedding. But we did have other commitments at the time, to attend another wedding—a family wedding, I fear, in the Northfarthing. One of our own had been betrothed to one of the North-Tooks, you must understand. It would have been a family scandal had we not honored our commitment to attend, particularly as we had promised six months previous.”

There—let this one chew on the fact her wedding was rather—hastily arranged. Now, could it be…. Oh, but I do believe that these two might well have put the dessert somewhat ahead of the main course! How delightful!

Lalia found herself delighting in the anticipation as to how much entertainment she could know by being civil to such a one as Lobelia Bracegirdle Sackville-Baggins.

The pretentious cow! she thought to herself as she placed her arm about the other’s shoulder to lead her into the sunroom. Let young Mistress Sackville-Baggins see just what elegance in a smial actually was!

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