So, I was going to write Smaug, but then someone left a review saying about the Elves, so I thought, why not?

The Elves in Mirkwood were frightening. Tall, cold-spoken, with eyes that seemed to be able to see all, even if they couldn't see him. He followed the Elf he'd seen with the jangling keys, shivering at the icy temperature that blanketed them as they descended down the stairs, though his unknowing Elevn companion didn't seem to notice the change.
There was a lot of talking, along with words that made Bilbo raise an eyebrow. The Dwarves weren't happy at their predicament and made it all too clear with loud descriptions of the Elvenking as a 'haughty, spider-shagging, leaf-eating bastard!'

The Elf with the keys cleared his throat. Bilbo crept as close as he could, trying to steal the keys. Unfortunately, the Elf kept walking around, leaning toward the Dwarrows, snidely requesting them whether they wished to be free yet.

"Ah, bugger off, you tree-shagger!" Dwalin snarled.

"Seems you don't." the Elf purred, his mouth twitching. "Shame." he ran his fingers across the keys, making them jingle musically. "Best be off. My king has a new shipment of the most excellent wine..."

"Take the wine and shove it up your jacksie!" Óri suggested as the Elf wandered away.

"I would agree, but you don't ever want to waste good wine." Bilbo said, removing his Ring and stepping into the light.


"You're alive!"

"Come here, quick before he comes back!" Óin requested. "Are you hurting anywhere?"

As the healer pushed back his curls to examine his scalp, Bilbo glanced around at them all, frowning once he saw Fíli and Kíli were apart. "Why aren't they together?"

"Less said about that, the better." Balin told him.

"You're fine," Óin told him, lightly patting his shoulder. "How did you get in here?"

"I was quick," Bilbo answered. "But he is too quick, I cannot get his keys."

He looked around, searching for the familiar hair of Nori. Seeing a flash of silver in what he'd thought to be an empty cell, he went over.

"Bilbo, that you?"

"Yes. Why are you so far in?"

"Don't want to see their horrible faces."

Bilbo snorted. "How do I get his keys?"

Nori deigned to come closer to the twisted bars. "It's simple. Follow him 'round until he puts the keys down." he reached through the door and squeezed his hand. "You can do this. It's no harder than stealing from Dwalin was."

"That was hard!"

"And you did it."

Bilbo nodded. "Yes."

He turned, only for a chorus of curious voices to stop him in his tracks.

"You can't be thinking of going!" Thorin said. "You'll keel over. Stay here with us, they'll shut up so you can sleep."


"Go and sit opposite where Bombur is by his door. He's plenty padded, so you won't be uncomfortable." Nori suggested.

Bombur could be heard chuckling. "That's a cruel thing to say!"

The Dwarf really was quite comfortable. All the excitement of the day wore off leaving tiredness in its stead and Bilbo slept for a few hours until Bombur gently shook him awake, quietly warning him that guards could be heard.

Days passed and Bilbo began to despair. One night, he made his way to the dungeons, going when he knew the others would be sleeping, but hoping to talk to Nori.

"You alright, lad?" Nori whispered.

"Nori, I'm trying, but he has them all the time. I even followed him to the baths and he would've seen me looking through his robes, so I couldn't and-"

"Hey, shh! Come on." Nori tried to find Bilbo's shoulders with his hands. "Don't panic," he said softly. "I know it's difficult, but it's not your fault that Elves are such sneaky bastards. It's alright. Just keep trying."

"I'm letting you all down by taking so long." Bilbo murmured.

Nori swatted his arm. "Don't be an idiot! You're doing really well."

"What about Durin's Day?"

"Listen here and listen well," Nori said. "You're doing what you can for us and whether we are freed before or after Durin's Day, we will still be grateful to you because you're doing all you can. Enough of the worrying, enough of feeling useless."

Bilbo moved closer to the door, trying to find Nori's arms, feeling the cold metal dig into his skin. Nori awkwardly wrapped his arms around him as best he could. "Thank you, Nori."

"Ah, it's alright." Nori was quiet for a moment. "Bilbo?"


"Did you really follow him to the baths?"

"Say what you will about our ill-tempered king, he has the most excellent taste in wine."

Bilbo watched, heart pounding as the Elf placed his keys on a hook and went to join three others in an impromptu wine-tasting session. He tried to stand on the tips of his hairy toes in order to reach the keys, flicking at them until they jangled- not that the Elves noticed.
Without warning, they fell. Hastily catching them in his small hands, he gazed anxiously towards the drinking Elvenfolk, stowing the keys in his coat for later.

Nori had been right. He could do it.