Gardenella by Lbilover

Once upon a time there was a young hobbit named Gardenella. He lived in a small hole with his elderly (and very deaf) father and three older sisters. Gardenella loved to garden, and the flowers and vegetables knew it and grew better for him than anyone else. His sisters, who were vain and frivolous and thought only about fancy gowns, parties and finding rich husbands, made fun of Gardenella and sneered at his dirty clothes, but whenever guests visited the hole and exclaimed over the gorgeous flower arrangements, they took all the credit.


One day an invitation written in gold ink arrived at the family's hole. Gardenella's sisters were in alt. Prince Frodo, the most eligible bachelor in the Shire, a hobbit immensely wealthy and renowned for his beauty, was holding a ball at his fabulous smial, Bag End, and everyone was invited.


'I've always wanted to see the gardens at Bag End,' said Gardenella, excited. 'I hear they're the finest in the land.'


Gardenella's sisters tittered. 'As if you'd be welcome,' they said. 'A common gardener with dirt under his fingernails.'


'But it says everyone is invited,' pointed out Gardenella.


'Everyone who is anyone,' his sisters corrected. 'And you are no one.'


So, when the great day arrived, Gardenella's sisters, grandly outfitted in new gowns that they had bought using the money Gardenella raised selling vegetables and fruit at the town market, set off for the ball.


'Have a good time,' Gardenella said wistfully as they climbed into the carriage.


They didn't hear him, being too busy bickering over which of them would get to dance with Prince Frodo first.


As the carriage dwindled into the distance, Gardenella was sad. How wonderful it would have been to go to Prince Frodo's ball and stroll through the fabulous gardens, not to mention possibly meet Prince Frodo himself, who, rumour had it, was the closest thing to an actual Elf (except shorter, of course) that could be found in the Shire. And Gardenella had always longed to meet an Elf.


To cheer himself up, Gardenella went to check on his roses. He'd developed a new cultivar, an ivory white rose with a deep sapphire blue blush. He felt proud as a father with a new baby as he admired the first just-opened blossom. He only wished he could come up with a name for his blue rose, but nothing seemed quite good enough.


'What on earth are you doing, loitering about this way?' said an irritable voice from behind Gardenella. 'Why aren't you at Prince Frodo's ball?'


Gardenella jumped and whirled around to see a very tall man in grey robes and a blue hat glaring at him. He had a long bushy white beard and moustache, and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of his hat. In one hand he held a tall staff with a crystal at the top and his dark eyes snapped with impatience.


'I - I beg your pardon?' stammered an understandably confused Gardenella.


'The ball, Gardenella, the ball. Why aren't you there?'


'I wasn't invited.'


'Of course you were invited. Everyone was invited.'


'But I'm not everyone. I'm no one,' pointed out Gardenella, recalling his sisters' words.


'Pshaw,' said the man. 'Not only are you not no one, you happen to be THE one.' He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from pocket in his robes and brandished it. 'It says so right here.'


'What?' Gardenella's head was in a whirl.


'Never mind,' the man said dismissively, stuffing the parchment back in his pocket. 'Now run along do, Gardenella,' he added, poking at him with his staff, 'or you'll be late. You have to be home again by midnight. I'm not precisely certain why, but it's some sort of requirement in these situations.'


Gardenella was beginning to think the old man was completely barmy. 'Who are you, anyway?' he asked suspiciously.


'Your fairy god-wizard, of course. But you may call me Gandalf.'


'Well, Gandalf, I don't mean to sound ungrateful-like, you being my fairy god-wizard and all, but even if I wanted to go to the ball, I can't.' Gardenella held out his arms. 'I haven't got the proper clothes.'


Gandalf sighed. 'Galadriel would be so much better at this.' He raised the staff, pointed it at Gardenella and spoke a bunch of gibberish (or so it sounded to Gardenella, though it probably made perfect sense to Gandalf).


There was a loud crack like thunder, a brilliant flash like lightning, and a terrified Gardenella squeezed his eyes shut, hoping the world wasn't about to come to an end. When he opened them again, Gandalf said, 'There, are you satisfied now? Proper clothes.'


Gardenella glanced down at himself and gawped. He was clad from ankle to neck in green and amber velvet lavishly embroidered with golden thread and tiny tawny jewels and gold sequins.


'Not a bad effort for my first time,' Gandalf said smugly. 'A bit flashy, but still tasteful. Now do get a move on, Gardenella.'


'Oh! Oh!' said Gardenella overcome. 'Oh, how can I ever thank you, Gandalf?'


'By hurrying up.'


Gardenella was about to dash away, when it occurred to him that he should probably have some sort of gift for Prince Frodo. There was only one thing good enough. So he picked up his suddenly gold and jewel-encrusted secaturs and cut the beautiful blue rose. Clutching it in one hand, Gardenella took off at a run, tossing a final 'Thank you, fairy god-wizard,' over his shoulder as he went.


'Don't forget you have to be home by midnight, or else,' Gandalf shouted after him. Then he added in a mutter, 'Wasn't it something to do with rats, mice and pumpkins? Oh well.'


~*~


Gardenella was rather puffing and out of breath when he reached Bag End. He panted to a halt and stared admiringly at the smial, which was indeed as magnificent as rumour said. Gardenella positively itched to go explore the gardens, but a large white pavilion erected in the field below the smial distracted him. Sounds of music and merriment issued from it, and a large tree at one end was hung about with multi-coloured lanterns. It was an enchanting sight.


A bit nervously, Gardenella approached the pavilion and went inside. Crowds of grandly attired hobbits filled it, many of whom were spinning around the dance floor to the lively music of the orchestra. In the center of the whirling throng Gardenella espied a slender hobbit with midnight curls and ivory skin who could only be Prince Frodo. Gardenella stared at him, entranced, and unconsciously began walking forward.


Perhaps because of all the jewels and sequins, which winked and glittered in the lamplight, eyes turned to Gardenella. Whispers broke out as the hobbits speculated on the identity of the handsome newcomer. Some of the whispers came from Gardenella's sisters, who didn't recognise their own brother (granted, they paid as little attention to him as they could unless they needed him to perform some chore for them). 'He must be titled and wealthy,' they said to each other. 'We have to wangle a dance with him.' Which might have led to a very awkward scenario, except that they never got the chance (as you will see).


Gardenella, with eyes only for Prince Frodo, who was indeed fair as an Elf (only shorter), moved toward the dance floor. A hush fell over the crowd and one by one the dancing couples, catching sight of him, came to a halt. Last of all was Prince Frodo and his partner (who alas shall remain nameless in this little tale). The Prince's long-lashed blue eyes (for which he was justly renowned and generally envied) widened as they fell upon Gardenella. He stopped and stared in wonder. Though normally the most polite and well-mannered of princes, Prince Frodo abandoned his dance partner and went straight up to Gardenella.


'May I have this dance?' he asked, and held out his hand.


Blushing, Gardenella took it. 'This is for you,' he said shyly, offering Prince Frodo the blue rose. It was precisely the same shade of blue as his eyes, Gardenella realised happily.


Prince Frodo took the rose and tucked it into his belt. 'This is the loveliest gift I've ever been given,' he replied, but his expression said that he wasn't talking about the rose. 'Now come with me.' He drew Gardenella onto the dance floor, and with a nod to the orchestra conductor, swept him into a waltz.


Gardenella's sisters, watching with expressions sour enough to curdle milk, realised that certain rumours they'd heard about Prince Frodo (but refused to credit for obvious reasons) must be true. They flounced away in a huff.


As for Gardenella, he and Prince Frodo danced and danced and danced. Prince Frodo took no other partner after that. They spoke but seldom, only gazed besottedly into each other's eyes as they twirled around the dance floor. Gardenella felt that he was living a fantastic dream from which he must awaken any minute, and only the blue rose tucked into Prince Frodo's belt, bobbing and nodding with every step as if in approval, convinced him that it was no dream but a delirious reality.


Finally, after their seventh waltz in a row, Prince Frodo said, 'It's nearly midnight and time for supper. Will you accompany me to the buffet table?'


'Nearly midnight?' Gardenella gasped, recalling Gandalf's warning. He didn't know what 'or else' meant exactly, but he had a feeling it wasn't wise to ignore the warning of a fairy god-wizard. 'I'm sorry, but I've got to go.'


'Go?' exclaimed Prince Frodo in dismay. 'So soon? But the night is still young.'


'I'm sorry,' Gardenella said again, and tearing his hand from Prince Frodo's grasp, turned and ran.


'Wait!' he heard Prince Frodo shout, but Gardenella didn't wait, only ran faster, disappearing into the night.


Just as Gardenella reached home, on the stroke of midnight, his beautiful green and amber velvet outfit turned back into the soiled and worn clothes he'd been wearing when Gandalf appeared. Tears trickled down his cheeks as he went into the hole and straight to his bed in the kitchen pantry. He cast himself down on the itchy, straw-stuffed mattress and cried himself to sleep.


~*~


Next day, Gardenella's sisters were all abuzz, talking non-stop about the ball and the handsome mystery hobbit who had enchanted Prince Frodo and then run off and left him holding a blue rose and looking as if his heart had been broken.


'Serves him right,' they sniffed. But Gardenella's faithful, loving heart broke, too, for Prince Frodo, and he wished he could go to him and take him in his arms and hold him. Only, Prince Frodo wasn't likely to look twice at him now, he thought dejectedly.


Several days later, a great commotion broke out in the village when Prince Frodo, mounted on a noble white steed and accompanied by several of his friends, came riding into the market. In his left hand he held a perfect white rose with a deep sapphire blue blush, the exact colour of his eyes.


'I am looking for the garden from which this rose came,' he said. 'For there I will find my true love and the one I intend to marry.'


Prince Frodo went from hole to hole and walked through every garden, but nowhere did he find a rosebush with blue roses (though a few enterprising hobbits tried to convince him that pink or red or yellow was blue, and one went so far as to try to color a bloom by dipping it in blue paint - which unfortunately he got all over his fingers and the tip of his nose).


Last of all, Prince Frodo arrived at the small hole where Gardenella and his father and sisters lived.


'My dear Frodo,' said one of his friends, 'you will never find your lost love in this dismal place.'


Prince Frodo dismounted from his pony. 'Nevertheless I will look, and keep looking, until I find him,' he said with determination, and strode through the front gate and around the side of the hole to where the garden was located.


Gardenella, oblivious to the goings-on, was in the garden, mooning over his blue rose, which he had decided to call 'The Prince Frodo'. He looked up when he heard footsteps approaching, and gawped at the sight of Prince Frodo himself.


Their eyes met and Prince Frodo let out a gasp. 'It's you! Oh my love, it's you! I've found you at last!' He rushed toward Gardenella, who stepped back and held up his hands, palm outward. Prince Frodo halted, and his face fell. 'Then you don't care for me, too?' he said sadly. 'I was so certain you felt the same.'


'It's not that,' said Gardenella. 'But I'm just a poor humble gardener, and you're a prince. What can I be to you or you to me?'


'Pshaw,' said Prince Frodo, sounding an awful lot like Gandalf. 'As if that matters. And besides, a gardener who can grow a rose such as this is of far greater worth than any prince.'


'You mean it?' Gardenella asked in wonder.


Prince Frodo stepped close and answered him at length, but not in words. 'Do you know, I don't even know your name,' he said when he drew back at last.


'It's Gardenella,' replied Gardenella shyly.


'Then dear, dearest Gardenella,' said Prince Frodo, dropping to one knee and holding out the rose. 'Will you marry me and be my love forever and ever?'


But Gardenella hesitated. 'It's my dad, you see. He's old and very deaf, and I don't like to leave him.'


'He can come and live with us,' Prince Frodo answered with alacrity (and no idea what he was getting himself into - but then, does absolute perfect bliss ever truly belong to any of us?)


'Oh Frodo, of course I'll marry you and be your love forever and ever,' Gardenella said, happy tears welling up in his eyes, and he took the rose from his newly affianced lover.


'Well, thank goodness for that.'


Gardenella and Prince Frodo jumped and whirled around to see Gandalf standing behind them.


'Gandalf,' said Prince Frodo, who was apparently acquainted with the fairy god-wizard. 'What are you doing here?'


'Standing by in case you needed a little nudge in the proper direction. But I'm pleased to see that you did just fine on your own. Congratulations. You will be most happy.' He made no mention of Gardenella's father. Why put a blight on the perfect bloom of romance?


'Thank you,' said Prince Frodo, but Gardenella gave his fairy god-wizard a significant look.


'Very well,' Gandalf said, and raised his staff.


Boom, crackle, and Gardenella was once more clothed in green and amber velvet lavishly embroidered with golden thread and tiny tawny jewels and gold sequins. He sighed happily and took Prince Frodo by the hand. 'I'm ready,' he said.


~*~


The wedding of Prince Frodo and Gardenella was the event of the year, and everyone was invited.


Everyone who was anyone, that is - and that did not include Gardenella's three sisters.


The End