Disclaimer: I'm not extremely old, rich, or a guy so therefore I do not own the Hobbit.
"So... what's her story, anyway? What does she do when not intimidating Dragons into behaving?" Bofur asked as politely as he could, even as he watched Langeth shaking a finger in Smaug's face.
Bilbo was laughing about whatever was being said so that was probably the only reason the she-Elf was still alive, he thought.
"She cares for and teaches the Elflings." Legolas, who seemed just as content as the Dwarves were to watch the Dragon take magic lessons and get scolded like a child for getting it wrong, answered distractedly.
It was an amusing sight to see, a Dragon trying to match glares with his old nursemaid, though it made him shiver slightly to remember every time he had been on the receiving end of one of her looks. Smaug must be made of stern stuff to hold her eye for so long.
"Ah. So this is a bit of break for her then." They shared a chuckle at that before lapsing into a companionable silence.
"So, if she cares for the tots, how did she lose her arm?" Bofur finally asks once the lesson happening on the other side of the room settled down again.
"It was a very long time ago, even by Elvish standards." Is the eventual, reluctant reply.
The story wasn't a secret, but it wasn't much talked about out of respect.
"She was a scholar- one of the best, it is said- in the great library of Gondolin." He had the attention of everyone in their small group as he said this.
No-one hadn't heard of Gondolin, one of the most revered of the first cities.
"It was during one of the first battles, while she defended the knowledge of our people singlehandedly from those who would have burned it all, that she was greviously wounded. She lost her arm and it wasn't thought she would survive, but then she was found in the nursery one day caring for a sickly Oropher, my Grandfather, and that has been her life's task ever since." The gathering of Dwarves all looked over at the she-Elf with a new respect, but it was Bifur who summed up their sentiments.
"She is a remarkable female... She carries the soul of a true Dwarf!" Ducking his head, he was still getting used to the odd looks he received whenever he opened his mouth and spoke clearly, so he didn't see the approving nods his statement garnered.
Legolas didn't protest this statement but simply rolled his eyes at this all too Dwarven compliment and went back to watching the Dragon's training. He had known Langeth for far too long to have not thought that same thing himself, after all.
Smaug was fed-up with the Elf in front of him, if it wasn't for Bilbo by his side he would have flamed her long before now and been done with all this... practice.
He was Smaug! Last of the Great Dragons! He did not need to learn all these petty tricks and disciplines, it was enough that he could heal his Hobbit and hold Bilbo in his newly small arms, learning magic was a waste of his time! The only reason he agreed to try was that Bilbo had smiled at the suggestion.
He was beginning to think he would do anything for one of those smiles.
"You are not concentrating hard enough! Now. Let us try it again, shall we?" Again? Again! Not concentrating hard enough?! He'd show her!
Putting everything he had into the tiny seed in his hand he was surprised when, a moment later, he was left holding a flower.
"Oh!" Smaug turned to see Bilbo staring in awe.
"Did you really just do that, Smaug?" Smiling- maybe learning magic wouldn't be so bad after all- he hands the flower over to his Hobbit.
"F-for me?" At his nod Bilbo goes red and gapes for a moment before jumping up and running for the door, flower held protectively to his chest.
Moving to follow his Hobbit he is stopped by a hand on his shoulder. Turning, he looks at the she-Elf in mild confusion.
"That was a red tulip you just handed to him, in the language of flowers that was a declaration of love. I may be rusty on Hobbit culture, but I'm fairly certain that he has only gone to find you an answering flower or two." Nodding to show that he had heard, Smaug then looked at the bag of seeds he had been practicing with.
If one flower had made Bilbo that happy...
"Now, where were we?" He said as he reached for the bag.
"What if I've overreacted? What if he didn't mean it the way I thought he did? Do Dragons even know the language of the flowers? How do Dragons even court?" Nori patted the Hobbit on the shoulder as they walked back towards the Gates.
The Dwarf had been enjoying a few restful moments of solitude under a tree when he had spotted the small man running near frantically towards a thick clump of greenery, and so had, of course, followed.
And now he was trying to calm a nervous, flower wielding Bilbo down before he damaged the meticulously done bouquet any. Really, in the last hour Nori had learned far too much about what flowers, in all their once innocent beauty, were really saying.
He now knew that you could say anything from 'hello' to 'I'm going to murder you in your sleep' with the right combination of the colorful things. It was all rather disconcerting.
He was just glad that the bouquet Bilbo carried had a simple message to it, if he had wanted a more complex one the thief didn't know where they would find all the plants needed.
Bilbo had explained about Smaug's giving him the red tulip- and once he understood the implication all Nori could think was 'and about time too'- and then went on to explain his need to give a reply.
The Hobbit now carried pansies- to show loving thoughts- lilac- for first love(it struck Nori as sad that Bilbo hadn't had someone to love before now)- and a single red rose tucked away in the center- Bilbo had blushed as he explained that one, and soon Nori was blushing too, though not as badly.
"Everything will be fine! You'll see. Just explain it to him and I'm positive he will be just as happy as you are." He reassured as best as he could, he had never been as good as Dori at it.
"Really?" Bilbo asked, looking hopeful.
"Yes. Though... you might wait until you are alone to explain the rose." They descended into silence then and shared a blush as they entered the mountain.
Thorin stood outside the Gates, waiting for the procession of Mirkwood Elves to arrive, and hating every minute of it.
Prissy Elves, he thought darkly.
Just as he caught sight of the Elvin party, and that prick Thranduil at the lead, he also saw Bilbo and Nori heading back into the mountain.
Seeing Bilbo's happy, blushing face tore at his heart, but he held his tongue in check; as well as his desire to chase after the Hobbit and beg for his favor.
He had apologized, profusely, to the small man and had been humbled by the forgiveness he had been shown, but he had not approached Bilbo since. It was his greatest fear that, should he do so, he might hurt the small man, even if only on accident. So he had stepped back, had made amends with the rest of his company and watched with a breaking heart as Bilbo drew closer and closer to Smaug every day.
At least the Dragon would never hurt him, he consoled himself.
He was so caught up in his musings that only an elbow from Dwalin brought him back in time to greet the other King, even if he really didn't want to.
"And just where is my son?" Thranduil demanded as he slid gracefully from he back of his horse, not even bothering with a pretense at political niceties.
Thorin sighed even as the words of greeting died unspoken on his lips.
Why could nothing ever go as planned, he thought as he led the way into the mountain.
The Great Hall, where everyone had been staying as of late, looked like springtime had exploded within it.
There were flowers everywhere!
From one end of the Hall to the other you could not see one spot that did not have a bloom on it.
Even his Dwarves and the two Elves were covered!
And then there was the mound.
To one side of the Hall, just where Smuag had taken up residence, there was an overwhelming number of flowers all piled high on top of each other- the pile towered over even Thranduils head- and looking ready to topple at the slightest touch.
In the middle of this pile stood an indecisive looking Dragon-man staring at Bilbo, and on the outskirts of it stood a confused looking Hobbit staring at Smaug.
He must have missed something because everyone seemed tense, waiting for a response of some sort.
Then, before Thorin could really grasp a hold of the scene before him, Bilbo had shot forward and tackled Smaug to the ground with a loud squeal of delight.
Thorin wasn't too sure, the flowers chose that moment to topple and obscure the two from view, but it looked as if Bilbo had been trying to suck the lower half of Smaug's face off.
"There you are! Do you have any idea of the mess you've made! You're coming home right now!" The yelling of the Elf King at his side barely registered with the Dwarf King as he continued to look forlornly at the flower pile.
How he wished he could be the one under there with Bilbo right now instead of the Dragon.
Shaking himself out of his jealous thoughts- he had made his bed and now had to lie in it, even if it hurt to do so- he turned just in time to see a sight that made him smile for the first time since he had been freed from the Arkenstone's influence.
Langeth, in all her slim severity, had taken hold of the Elvin King's ear in a hard pinch and was pulling him, doubled over at the waist, out of the mountain.
As she passed him Thorin caught a bit of what she was muttering.
"...taught you better manners than this... should have taken you over my knee centuries ago... how I ever let you leave the nursery I'll never know!" And then they were gone, Legolas following close after with a smothered grin and an apology.
Turning back to view his company- none of whom were doing half as well as the Elf Prince at hiding their mirth- he caught sight of two petal covered heads before they pulled back out of sight and into their private mound once more.
Sighing- he would need to have the Hall cleaned(Where did all these flowers come from anyway? How had they gotten in here?)- Thorin turned to find Balin and get back to work on all the administrative duties he had to perform now that Erebor was to be reestablished.
As a high-pitched giggle and a deeper chuckle reached his ears, Thorin, not for the first time, wished Gandalf hadn't taken off to parts unknown so quickly.
He rode like the wind yet tried to attract as little attention to himself as he could.
His goal was a far too needful one to let sit idle for even a moment.
Smaug, as the first bit of magic he attempted after healing Bilbo, had created a magic proof bag- just a bit of cloth, really, soaked in Dragons blood with the intention of keeping any and all magic from being able to pass through it- and then had proceeded to wrap something from out of Bilbo's pocket in it.
"I think you will want to drop this into Mount Doom sooner rather than later." The Dragon had said nonchalantly as he passed the tiny bundle into the Wizard's hands.
Gandalf had, only once, attempted to open the cloth up. The feel of Evil pouring off the gold band had him quickly rewrapping it, and mentally thanking the Dragon for having the forethought to make an unbreachable barrier between this, the One Ring- he had no doubt that it was so- and the outside world.
Now, with the Ring secured inside his belt pouch and safely inside its wrap, Gandalf rode towards the cursed lands of Mordor; and he prayed all the while that he could do this before he was sussed out and stopped.
AN: So... I'm wrapping this story up in the next two or three chapters.
Please don't be mad, it had to happen sometime.
But if there is anything anyone would particularly like to see, or something that I haven't fully addressed and would like to have it fleshed out more, let me know and I will try to incorporate as many requests as possible.
Thank you all for reading this far! And please drop a review, it really makes my day!