Chapter One

An Unexpected Party

It was a chilly evening and Dwalin just couldn't wait to get inside out of the ferocious wind that chilled you to the bone. Dwalin ran through his head as he had done many times that day exactly why he was rooming through this well kept land. He was heading for the shadowy hill in the distance. Perched in this grassy mound was a hole. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell. But a comfortable hobbit hole. As Dwalin approached he noticed a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.

What a funny place for a burglar to live, thought Dwalin, but Gandalf obviously knows what is best. Dwalin wrapped his dark green cloak closer around himself as a cold burst of wind rushed past ruffling his beard. Double-checking that the door had the sign on it, he strolled through the gate and took the final few steps up to the door and rang the bell.

Dwalin heard a crash from inside the hole and some scuffling which sounded as if someone was putting on a kettle. Then some hurried footsteps behind the door before it creaked open. Standing in front of Dwalin was a hobbit, stopping in mid-sentence as he saw Dwalin. The hobbit looked as startled as a mouse to see him standing in the doorway. In an effort to avoid being interrogated before the others arrived, Dwalin pushed past the hobbit, which the top of its curly hair only just reached his shoulder. Out of the corner of his eye Dwalin looked the hobbit up and down as he hung his cloak on a peg in the hall.

Dwalin was now becoming very uncomfortable under the shocked hobbit's gaze. He could think of nothing else to say except "Dwalin at your service!" bowing to the little hobbit.

"Bilbo Baggins at yours!" squeaked the hobbit.

After a few more uncomfortable moments in the hall Bilbo said in a rather inaudible voice , "I am just about to make a cup of tea; pray come and have some with me."

Dwalin thought that by his tone, that tea was the last thing that Bilbo Baggins wanted, but he was cold from his long march in the wind and therefore gladly accepted. I wonder why this hobbit is so shocked to see me, especially because he has that sign on his door, thought Dwalin as he was led into the kitchen and given a cup of tea.

Dwalin was still pondering this topic while, as he reached for his third piece of cake, the door bell rang. Finally, thought Dwalin as he munched on the seed cake, I will get some answers now. Bilbo immediately jumped to his feet and hurried to the door with a rushed "Excuse me" to Dwalin.

Dwalin listened intently to the sounds from the hall and chuckled as he recognized his brother Balin's husky tone. While little Bilbo hurried down to the cellar Balin made his way to the kitchen. The brothers embraced each other and sat down. Dwalin eyed his brother up and down. "You need to cut down on the cake brother," Dwalin joked, eyeing Balin's protruding stomach.

"What about you brother? How many seed cakes have you had?" Balin threw back at Dwalin as Dwalin reached for his seventh piece of cake. They were both overcome by laughter that they didn't even notice when a confused Bilbo arrived back in the kitchen.

Dwalin hushed his brother's cackles as the doorbell rand for the third time. Moments later in came Fili and Kili. Dwalin so enthusiastic to see them jumped to his feet, brushing the millions of tiny cake crumbs from his tunic and hurried round the table. He wrung both of their hands. Their hands were so alike that if blindfolded Dwalin would have thought he had shaken the same hand twice.

The dwarves all gathered around the table and seedcakes. They were munching and talking about goblin's and such things when, yet again, the doorbell rang. Bilbo got up again, very flustered and pink in the face. Dwalin noted this but as the talk turned to gold he dismissed it without a second thought.

Not more than a minute later five more dwarves entered. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin trudged into the kitchen and collapsed in the chairs nearest to the blazing fire on the back wall. Exhausted from their journey, the dwarves yelled their requests at poor Bilbo.

Dwalin watched Bilbo fluttering around in the kitchen and was not completely convinced that Mr. Baggins was infact a very successful burglar. To Dwalin he seemed more peaceful and no-nonsense sort of hobbit.

As he watched, Bilbo's face formed a frown as a rat-tat-tat came from the door. It sounded like somebody was banging on the round green door with a stick. As Bilbo yet again hurried out to answer the door, Dwalin sank into his armchair by the table and thought about the night's proceedings. 'Yes, tonight is an important night. If we could just plan it right," Dwalin muttered, "and if Mr. Baggins is all Gandalf says that he is then tonight could change our lives, forever.

And as he said these final words, a wizard clothed in gray surrounded by dwarves and a bewildered hobbit entered the small kitchen.