DISCLAIMER: The characters and places in this story all belong to the wonderful and fabulous J.R.R. Tolkien. I am in no way recieving profit from this, and it is only for entertainment purposes.
Summary: Bilbo overhears a conversation between Thorin and Gandalf before the quest to Eriador.
It was the night before the quest to Eriador, and Bilbo couldn't sleep. The evening had been such an odd one, and that, added to the thoughts of a long journey that awaited him come dawn, robbed Bilbo of the sleep he yearned for. What use did he have for gold? If the dwarves wanted it, then they were welcome to it, if only they let him be as he was. He almost wished this was all a bad dream, and all these horrid dwarves would be gone in the morning. But unfortunately, Bilbo was reminded all too well of the reality of the situation by the constant snoring coming from the next room. Bombur's no doubt.
Sighing, he pulled the warm covers off himself and stood up on the chilled floor. A good cup of tea was exactly what he needed. Nothing better. His own father had prescribed it for many ills, always with good results.
Tiptoeing through the house in order not to wake the precariously placed dwarves in slumber, although there was probably little danger of this, as dwarves are among the heaviest sleepers in the world, he stiffened at the sound of voices and the smell of a pipe outside the open window.
A little curious, or startled, most likely both, he silently crept over to gain a better view. Outside in hushed voices was Gandalf and Thorin.
"If this is a jest Gandalf, then I will flatter you by saying it is a well played one. But let me also say that it is one that has gone on far enough!" Came the unmistakable voice of Thorin, annoyed and to the point.
The wizard answered somewhat hotly, "I assure you Thorin, this is no jest. Mr. Baggins is the burglar I have chosen. He will accompany on you on your quest if you wish for my aid, so let there be an end to it."
Interested, Bilbo shifted into a more comfortable position. He was eavesdropping perhaps, but then again he did not believe it quite fair that dwarves had invaded his privacy without his exactly said permission.
"Ha! A burglar? The halfling is afraid of his own shadow!" Pausing for a moment, as if wondering if it were quite wise to say what was on his mind, Thorin spoke, "I think... that perhaps age has clouded your judgement in this matter Master Gandalf. "
That statement hit a chord within Bilbo. Afraid of his own shadow?! Perhaps he would come...
"I asked for a warrior Gandalf, a dragon-slayer. And this is what you give me? A halfling that I doubt could handle even a dagger, let alone a sword!"
"Weapons do not perform great deeds, but courage from the hand that wield them and a bold heart." Gandalf sent up a smoke ring, attempting to appear unruffled by Thorin's observation.
"I see none of these qualities within Mr. Baggins." Thorin answered looking down at one of Bilbo's prize roses. Bilbo inwardly hoped that Thorin was not having any thoughts of plucking it, and wondered if yelling and waving a broom would have the same effect on Thorin as it did on young Hobbit lads and lasses.
"Courage comes from the most unlikely of places." Gandalf answered matter-of-factly. "And as for his being a burglar, I think he is well fitted for the task. Hobbits can be unseen by most if they so choose."
"So you say Gandalf. But forgive me if I do not recollect there being any tales of Hobbits performing great deeds." Thorin fingered the rose, and Bilbo caught his breath.
Releasing it, and releasing Bilbo's anxiety, Thorin with his back turned to Gandalf continued, "You think Gandalf, that you are being kind to this Baggins." Turning he looked at Gandalf, "You are not. Let me say now, there is no hope for this quest, and certainly less with Mr. Baggins. He is not made for adventure, a blind man could tell this. He does not long for dragon treasure, he longs for his Hobbit hole and all to be in his life as it has ever been since the days of his long forgotten forefathers. Such are the ways of Hobbits."
"I have already chosen, and Mr. Baggins is that choice. You will humour me in this matter Thorin, or go to the mountain without my aid. Those are my terms." Gandalf eyed Thorin.
Thorin's eyes flashed in anger, "You mock me wizard. I believed or rather hoped this to be a jest. I came to you for aid in recapturing my father's kingdom, I offer you a share in what belongs to dwarves alone, a more than generous offer!" He drew himself up proudly, "I am the heir of Durin, though that family be in dire straits, I do not merit this derision."
Gandalf muttered 'Durin's line lacks in gold but not in pride'.
"Thorin, I assure you I make no attempt at mockery. I leave that business to Sauron's servants. Mr. Baggins is more than he appears. It is my own judgement that I believe he is a remarkable person that will greatly benefit your company on it's quest." Gandalf seemed tired of arguing this point.
"And if you are wrong?" Thorin still appeared very much annoyed with the wizard, "If Mr. Baggins is not what you think he might be, and the quest comes to ruin? If the bones of myself and my company lie among those of our kin on the mountain?" He looked Gandalf in the face, with no emotion betraying him, "Then Master Gandalf, the blame will be upon your head."
Gandalf was silent at this, and Thorin turned his back once more. After a few minutes he said slowly, "I will take the halfling, if he dares to accompany us. On condition that you accompany us as well."
Gandalf seemed to think it over, and then answered, "I will accompany your company Thorin Oakenshield, as long as I am able."
"Well, I suppose that beggars cannot be choosers. Welcome to Thorin & Company, Master Gandalf." Thorin smirked at the latter half, "It will be an early dawn for all it seems."
Gandalf emptied his pipe and made as if to return to the warmth of Bag End, and Thorin stood up to follow.
"I fear you have the worse end of the bargain Gandalf, for Mr. Baggins will not come." Thorin remarked.
"Oh?" said Gandalf, "Well, I would be willing to wager a good amount that he will come."
Thorin raised an eyebrow and looked amused. "Is that so wizard?"
Both dwarf and wizard made their way to the kitchen, with little concern for those sleeping around them. But then again perhaps there need not have been, as it has been said in ancient tales that dwarves will sleep through an invasion. A sound of stumbling was heard, perhaps Thorin tripped over one of the companions. Little did the pair know that their seemingly unimportant conversation had made the mind up of a both perplexed and determined Hobbit, who in the near future would influence the fates of many, but perhaps even more so the fate of a dwarf.