Speak Again

fanfiction by Wild Iris

Gift Economy

There are some things money can't buy, and Bilbo had soon realised that the acquisition of vast wealth didn't help him to find good Yuletide gifts for his cousin Lobelia. That would have required a fundamental change of temperament on her part or his. He had tried irony (a silver spoon-holder), thinking outside the box (a trip to Michel Delving's most exclusive grooming establishment), and some incomprehensible article that was described as the latest feminine fad of the season. Finally he gave up, and settled for the universal standby of handkerchiefs. He gave up because he realised that buying token gifts for Lobelia brought him as little pleasure as it apparently brought her.

Why make a pother about Lobelia, he thought, when he could take care of her by a yearly retainer to the haberdasher. Instead, he could spend the days of Foreyule ensconced by his own fireside, with a nice glass of wine and a catalogue from that freshly revived toy market in Dale. Flipping through the brightly illuminated pages, deliberating the merits of clockwork soldiers with velvet tunics against gilded dragons that breathed real smoke, Bilbo discovered a far more enjoyable use for his riches: surprising his favourite nephew.