Playing in the field with boys was certainly not becoming of me. Or so my parents and several elders seemed to think. My cheery yellow dress was now completely soiled around my skirts. My long ringlet hair was pinned up, to the best of my abilities, and was matted slightly from the sweat from my brow. Several twigs and leaves had resided in the tangled mess of mahogany curls.
"Clara! I know you are here somewhere!"
At these words I covered my agape mouth, stifling a laugh that would no doubt get me caught if it escaped. Unfortunately as I had taken an arm of the branch I was currently holding onto, my balance was now uneasy and I quickly lost my footing and tumbled out of the oak tree I had been hiding in.
"Ouch!" a muffled voice came bellow me, "I told you I would find you!"
I shifted my weight of the green and golden lump beneath me and quickly stood with a start, fixing my upturned skirts.
"Are you okay Pip? I am so sorry" I muttered, quickly ushering him to his feet and patting him down. "You know I'm no good at climbing trees. Not as good as you or Merry at least"
"Well that would be because we are boys, and older than you at that"
His mischievous smile was rather contagious.
"You are not that much older Peregrin Took!" I exclaimed. My own mischievous smile on my face I added, "And as for boys being more skilled than girls just you wait and see!"
The eighteen year old shifted uncomfortably for a second, clearly imagining how horrid a revenge I would make him suffer. Although I was four years his junior, I could easily outsmart him when it came to scheming. My small frame shook as I giggled at his worried expression.
"Did everyone forget that I was playing to then?" a voice shot from the nearby shrubs. "I've been hiding in there for almost an hour!"
He shook leaves from his hair and came to join us in the clearing.
"Sorry, Merry. I uhm...fell out of a tree. Again..."
My cheeks flushed crimson as I remembered all the clumsy attempts of me climbing ending near enough the same way. I didn't know why I still bothered to try. Laughing Merry came over and brushed my cheek.
"I think that is to be expected of you now Clara. Your mother is going to blow her top when you get home however. You have a huge gash on your cheek!"
My eyes popped open with shock as I muttered my goodbyes and ran off towards home. I dreaded how long I would be grounded for this time.
"Goodbye Clara. Good luck!" shouted the boys behind me. Oh how I would miss them the next few weeks.
The days passed slowly, feeling like months without Merry and Pippin. My mother scolded me for climbing and hurting myself again. I was made to scrub my dress clean and wasn't allowed out for two weeks. The only time I was allowed, was when Amelia Chubb would ask me over to hers, which was worse than doing my chores.
It wasn't like my parents disliked Merry or Pippin, they were actually quite good friends with their parents. They just didn't approve of the trouble they always got me into. It wasn't the first time I had come home covered in mud and cuts. My mother would say, 'it's all fine now playing climbing games and getting into trouble Clara, but I just want you to have some female friends. It will be good for you dear'. My parents were just afraid that I would end up being overly mischievous like Merry and Pippin or worse, adventurous like their cousin Bilbo. I loved going to Bilbo's with them and listening to his adventures with dwarfs and wizards. I greatly admired his sense of adventure for I would be too scared to even venture as far as Bree!
My father came in and interrupted my train of thought. "Clara, your friends are at the door for you. They are a bit early but I am sure I can convince your mother to shorten your sentence. No need for you to mope around here for another day. Off you go!"
At my dad's words my neck snapped to where he was standing at my room door. I was shocked at what he was saying. Obviously my moping was acting as a punishment to more than just me in the house.
"Thanks dad!" I beamed as I jumped up and hugged him.
Exiting my room and hurried down the tunnel leading to the front of my smial and put the book I had been reading on the small table next to the door as I was greeted with the sight of two sheepish hobbits staring at their feet. They were clearly afraid that my mother would catch them being here and scold them for letting me get into trouble in the first place. I coughed to get their attention.
"Clara! We missed you so much" chirped Pippin as he threw his arms round me in a big bear hug.
"And I am just glad that I am not stuck with Pippin on my own anymore!"
"Oh Merry shush! You know that I am wonderful company to be around"
"Wonderful' but annoying my dear Pip"
And with that they both tumbled to the ground in a mock wrestling match.
"I am going to get grounded again if my mother catches you two rolling in her flowerbeds!" I hissed as I closed my front door and stepped over them and out of my garden. "I have only just broken free; please do not give them anymore reasons to send me back. Please?"
The moment they saw my pout they stopped and followed me out and down the road. Dusting pollen and grass of their clothes as we walked down towards Bagshot row.
"I assume we are heading to Master Bilbo's today then. No vegetable stealing?" I enquired as we approached Bilbo's smial.
"I thought we would save some of our more meddlesome activities to later in the week as we don't want to risk losing you again as we have just gotten you back!" Merry explained a childish glint in his eyes.
"Besides, there is someone we want you to meet!"
"I am not meeting anymore of your sisters Pippin!" I panicked as my eyes dashed about frantically, waiting for some golden haired girl to bob out of the nearby bushes with ribbons in her hands. "The last one I met nearly pulled my hair out she had yanked it that hard. I could have told her it wasn't going to sit well in a high circled plait! I like my messy hair the way it is, thank you!"
"Don't worry; you have scared them all off when you put worms in Pearls hair" Pippin laughed as he knocked on the bright green circular door of Bad End.
"This person won't try and make you over" Added Merry to reassure me.
Bilbo opened the door to his smial with a bright cheery smile on his crinkled face as always. I cold faintly see the grand mahogany furniture behind him was covered in various objects and items of clothing that I had never seen before.
"Come in! Come in young hobbits! So nice to see you again" He beamed. He was quite short for a hobbit and was about a hundred years old, but had a young heart of gold. "Would you care for some tea?"
"If there is any cake then yes!"
Merry and I looked at Pippin. He was always rude, and hungry. Bilbo just smiled as always and retreated into the kitchen to fix some tea and cakes. We were standing in one of the smial's larger sitting rooms. Now inside, I could clearly see that there were more than just a few untidy obscure belongings lying around. There were piles and piles of books, clothes and personal nick knacks randomly stacked all over any counter space and spilling onto the floor as well. It looked as though someone was either moving or having a rather large spring clean out.
"Bilbo where is Frodo?" Merry called into the kitchen from his place on a very comfy and expensive looking armchair.
"He is no doubt just in his room sorting his belongings out. Will no doubt appear once he smells the tea" Bilbo chuckled as he ushered us into the kitchen. We sat at a large oak table where a magnitude of cakes, breads and cheeses were laid out in a most welcoming manner.
"Who's Frodo?" I asked, extremely glad that he definitely was not one of Pippins annoying female relations.
"He is our dear cousin from across the way. Bilbo has just taken him in as of last week"
"Is he from near Buckland then?" I questioned Merry. Pippin wasn't paying our conversation any attention.
"Yes he was. But after a misfortunate accident he doesn't much like it there so old Bilbo's took him under his wing"
"Oh I see..." I muttered, not quite knowing what to say. Bilbo smiled a sad smile towards Merry and I, Pippin was still too busy gorging on cakes to contribute to our conversation.
"There you are Frodo!" Bilbo called. "We were just explaining to Miss Clara here who you where"
He seemed to force a small smile at them words and shuffled into a seat across from Pippin, as far away from me as possible. He was taller that Merry, Pippin and I. About nearly four foot I would say, and had dark brown, almost black curly hair. He was extremely fair looking, almost elf like in appearance. He then stole a quick glance at me, curious no doubt to whom I even was. His eyes were sea blue, piercing my skin with their gaze. It was my turn now to shuffle uncomfortably as I lowered my hazel gaze to the floor.
We stayed at Bilbo's for what seemed like the whole day. I learnt from Pippin that Frodo's parents were killed in a boating accident when he was twelve and Bilbo had taken him in to be heir to Bag End. Frodo didn't speak much that day, although I could not blame him as it was extremely hard to get a word in around Merry and Pippin. The little he did talk was mostly about what he, Merry and Pippin got up to in their days as younger hobbits. I found him fascinating! Never before had I seen a hobbit be so shy and intellectual, yet tell stories of such mischief you would swear he was lying. I had little interaction with him that day as I was too shy to do anything more than just listen. I spoke a few times about my family though and to what trouble Merry and Pip got into at the moment. He found it quite amusing when I told him of the ale incident which happened last year. He didn't seem shocked at all to learn we had spiced the ale of the Sackville Baggins last big celebratory party which caused everyone's noses to itch for a week there after!
"Thanks for second supper Bilbo and for everything else" I said as we stood outside on Bag Ends porch.
"It has been nothing but a pleasure Miss Clara. Please pop round anytime, especially now young Frodo's here. I'm sure he will bring a much needed relief to an old man's babbles!" Bilbo laughed. Frodo smiled awkwardly behind him. I was struggling to believe that he was in fact related to the two rowdy hobbits next to me as he seemed so timid, the opposite of them.
"You know we love your babbles Bilbo!" called out Merry.
"And, your food!" Pippin added.
We all laughed as we waved good bye and started walking home. Merry and Pippin insisted on walking me to my door in case someone attacked me between the ten steps from my gate to my door.
"We shall see you tomorrow Clara"
"Yes, see you tomorrow!"
And with said, I entered my home and went straight to bed, spending the whole night speculating if Frodo would come out to play with us the next morning.
Just want to note that I take some time updating as I don't have alot of spare time, and also have a beta reader which adds to the timescale. Bare with me however and I promise the story shall not disapoint.