Once there was a hobbit couple who lived in their cosy burrow, in a peaceful village at the forest edge. Their life was most uneventful, and they were happy about it. They loved long walks, tales by the fire and picnics in their garden. Their garden was pretty simple, nothing fancy; only a single apple tree stood there. But even though the tree bloomed every year, it didn’t grow any apples. ”Maybe we should cut it down”, the husband said to his wife. ”No, we shouldn’t!” the wife replied. ”I like to lean against that tree while I sit and read my book.” And so, they let the tree stand there. One day, they were having another picnic in the garden. It was a hot day, and they sat under the tree, in the cool shadow. ”The juice bottle is empty, my dear”, said the wife. ”Could you please fetch more?” As the husband went back in, he looked back at his wife. She was leaning against the tree trunk, eyes closed and smiling, holding a cup of juice in her hand. She looked beautiful. But when the husband came back to the garden, his wife was gone. The cup had fallen on the ground under the tree where she had been sitting. The husband shouted after her and looked everywhere, but there was no sign of her. When she didn’t return by nightfall, the husband got restless. Next day, he summoned all his neighbours to help him with searching. They combed the woods for the missing hobbit lady, but they found nothing, not a single footprint. The husband didn’t want to give up, though. He searched the whole Shire and even visited his wife’s scary relatives in Staddle. But no one had seen her. Someone started a rumour that the lady had left her husband for another lad or somet. Days and months passed, and it seemed the most probable explanation for anyone. For anyone, except the husband. He knew his wife wouldn’t leave him like that. Autumn came, and his wife’s birthday. To commemorate his wife, he went to the apple tree where he had last seen her. He laid a bouquet of roses under the tree, and then, he saw something laying on the ground… An apple! And when he looked up, the branches were hanging heavy with red apples. The tree had never grown a single apple before, so it was quite a surprise for the hobbit lad. The apples were quite tasty and made a delicious juice with a sweet taste. But the strange thing was that the first apple always fell from the tree on a certain date: The wife’s birthday. The hobbit lad started to spend more time in his garden and with the apple tree. On peaceful, warm summer nights he even slept there… …and in his dreams, he could hear his lost love singing as she had used to. Years passed, and the hobbit lad became more certain of it… His wife was somehow trapped inside the apple tree. But how could he free her from the spell? The hobbits were not magicians or wizards and couldn’t deal with magic, he knew. But there was a thing that many Shire hobbits mastered very well: Gardening. So the hobbit lad turned to Master Hamfast Gamgee who was a respected gardener and asked him to take a look at his apple tree. ”It looks like a fine and healthy apple tree to me”, Master Hamfast said as he inspected the tree in the garden. ”What is wrong with it?” The hobbit lad blushed as he told about his suspicions related to his wife’s disappearance. Master Hamfast frowned but he didn’t say anything. ”I know it sounds crazy”, the hobbit lad said, ”but it disturbs me still. You know some trees might act strange, Master Hamfast.” ”In the Old Forest, yes”, Master Hamfast said and looked at the apple tree, taking a few steps back from it. ”But whatever the case is, I’m afraid that I can’t help you here”, Master Hamfast sighed. Master Hamfast waved goodbye and was about to leave, when the hobbit lad got an idea. ”I have one question you could answer though”, the hobbit lad said. ”Let me hear it”, said Master Hamfast. ”What do apple trees need to grow apples?” the hobbit lad asked. Master Hamfast smiled. ”Well, that’s an easy one to answer:” ”They need another apple tree nearby. A lonely apple tree seldom grows apples; they need to be cross pollinated.” ”You mean they need… a partner?” the hobbit lad asked. ”Yes, in a way”, Master Hamfast said and chuckled. ”I could plant you one.” So Master Hamfast took a seedling from the Appledores and planted it in the hobbit lad’s garden. Years passed, and the seedling grew bigger and stronger. The hobbit lad tended it the best he could, with Master Hamfast’s advice. Meanwhile, the hobbit lad had grown older himself, but the hope in his heart grew stronger as well. Then one autumn, he woke up to realise that it was his wife’s birthday again. With his legs shaking and clutching a walking stick, he went to the garden. And on the grass, he saw the first ripe apples lying, fallen from both trees. And amongst them lay the love of his life, sleeping peacefully. Her hair had turned grey and her face was wrinkled like the tree trunk, but she was more beautiful than ever. The husband went to his wife and kissed her, and that’s when she woke up. ”That was a long picnic”, the husband said. ”I am still hungry”, the wife smiled. ”Is it supper time yet?” So they went inside and had a meal. And probably lived happily ever after. The end!