J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the series. I didn't. Peter Jackson directed the movies. I didn't.
I'm so sorry about my long absence again. I went to Italy, had a summer research paper to write and recently finished an internship.
To those wondering when the story will end, I'm guessing there's about roughly 7 chapters left. After all there's Smaug, BoFA and of course a cute little epilogue to tie things up! Thanks for being awesome and for messaging me about the status of Naive Melody; I love this story to death and though I may disappear from time to time, I have no plans of abandoning Relly and Bilbo :)
This chapter is mostly in Relly's POV but there is Bilbo's POV near the end.
Terror of Future Dangers
Never was anything great achieved without danger.
- Niccolo Machiavelli
Relly woke up the next morning with a full belly and an even fuller mind— a mind filled with fiery determination to find Thorin and the rest of her fellow dwarves. Her stubbornness to get inside a barrel had led up to her and Bilbo being the only ones capable of rescuing the company from a watery end. Although she was happy not to be bobbing about in the river, she hoped that the two of them could find the dwarves before the elves or other enemies found them.
The thief stood up from the damp autumn ground and brushed off the dirt on her breeches as her hazel eyes wandered over closely to where Bilbo had fallen asleep. Relly had waken him up hours ago to tell him that she missed him and the poor bachelor had fallen asleep immediately after saying he missed her as well. It was a weird complicated motion they were going through. She heard his snoring hitch low and soft as if he were back home in his cozy bed. She couldn't help but smirk at how oblivious and yet handsome he looked in sleep. Relly's smile turned into a grumble as she used the heel of her foot to push Bilbo's arm. He hardly stirred. Cute or not, he needed to wake up and help her find some dwarf-filled barrels.
"Bilbo? Bilbo, wake up. I stole a whole blueberry pie for breakfast," she said in a sing-song voice, hoping it was the magic phrase to wake up her hero.
That worked. Bilbo licked his lips as he sprung up, not even caring there was a giant yellow leaf on the shoulder of his buttonless vest. Relly reached out and gently swept the leaf off his clothing, an unplanned moment of affection on Relly's part. Bilbo's face turned a light pink at her gesture as his round brown eyes looked for pie. His eager reaction caused Relly to feel a quick pang of guilt for lying but it was for the greater good, or so she figured.
"You did?" Bilbo asked, his stomach grumbling.
Relly laughed with a crooked smile. "Hah, no. But I thought it'd get you up quicker."
Bilbo frowned. "Is there anything at all for breakfast?"
"Mmm," she tapped her lip. "I found some eggs. Maybe you can scramble them."
"You found them?" he asked with a brow raised. "Where?"
She grinned again. "I found them...in my pockets."
Bilbo had a different sense of humor when it came to food. Relly heard a faint but uneasy chuckle in his throat as he went over to the dampened fire pit and started it up again, holding out his hand so that she could give him the eggs.
In the not-so-far distance, Relly and Bilbo could see the dusty silhouette of the Lonely Mountain. An anxious tingle ran down her spine as she observed just how sad the mountain looked against the backdrop of the red-orange sunrise. There was no question that Erebor had become desolate in the years since it was abandoned. All the treasure and gold of dwarven kings from ages past was all hoarded away by a great and terrible dragon. As some runaway egg freckled the bottom of her chin, she was lost in her thoughts concerning the beastly terror in the heart of the mountain. Only now did she remember the words Bofur had said that first night at Bilbo's home; how Smaug's talons could pierce a man's flesh like it were a spike. How the dragon's fiery breath pained worse than a thousand searing rays of the sun...
"Relly?" Bilbo's voice snapped Relly away from Smaug and back to the land, the quarterling quickly running her finger across her chin to eat the last specks of her breakfast. "You looked not all there, Relly. If you need some rest...you can rest, just for a little while."
She snorted. "I'm fine," she asserted herself to Bilbo as she stood up from the stump. "I'm fine. But we need to hurry up. Oh!," a random thought interrupted her usual ones as she excitedly shook Bilbo's shoulder. "We should follow the river! Maybe it could lead us to where the others drifted off to!"
"I was thinking the same," he raised his head up and looked at her with a concerned but hopeful smile. "I'm almost done eating. Can't begin the day with egg on my face like you can."
She stuck her tongue out at Bilbo in response to his statement. Relly sat back down on her stump as she rested her chin on the top of her hand, watching Bilbo finish his eggs. For ten minutes, the urgency of their mission faded away as she watched her closest companion enjoy his breakfast. Relly had nearly forgotten the earlier days of their journey, where the atmosphere was friendlier and the terror of future dangers hadn't quite soaked into the bones of the adventurers. In a time not so long ago, Relly had been laughing with Bofur and looking at Ori's sketches while a shy Bilbo looked on from the stew pot. Relly used to never dwell on the past, not until she almost lost it.
"We'll find Thorin and everyone," Bilbo promised her, wanting to lighten the mood around them. "I've saved you all before and well, I intend to do it again!"
Relly smiled at his optimism. Certainly no dumb river could take away Thorin, Balin and all her other dwarven companions, not when she had almost lost her dwarven friends from amnesia, elves and goblins.
The two set off to follow the dwindling path of the river and lost themselves between the thinning trees and the not so distant fires in a town not too far from them. Relly was naturally light on her feet but Bilbo had also become accustomed to nature during his time on the journey and improved his stamina. Every now and then she would eye his pocket where he kept his magic ring.
During her twenty years on the run, Relly had seen cheapshot magicians perform illusions in town squares and at first Relly believed what she saw. Eventually she would see past the distractions and stopped believing, rolling her eyes at the stupid crowds that watched in awe of the so-called magicians. When she met Gandalf all those months ago, she thought he was a kook and rightly so. She was quickly proven wrong and like all other things on this adventure, she began to believe in things beyond her realm of understanding.
Never had she seen someone truly become invisible. Never had she imagined she would turn invisible and if the barrel incident proved anything, being invisible felt unearthly and strange. How Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire, would be the proprietor of such a wondrous object fascinated and concerned the quarterling. Relly had stolen jewelry here and there having been enchanted by their prettiness, but something about that gold band unnerved her to no end. Just looking at its smooth texture struck a chord deep in her body; an urge to obtain it. It was a primal and disturbing force, a familiar feeling Relly had once given into when she was in her unsavory occupations.
"Relly?" Bilbo's voice burst her mental bubble as he directly looked at Relly. "I think I hear some racket down by the bend. I'll sneak down there and see what the raft-men are doing. Do you..." and he hesitated, "want to come along with me?"
She side-eyed him and gulped. "N-no, I'll stay behind the trees and follow you."
Bilbo nodded, unaware of her previous thoughts as he slipped on the gold band and went on ahead, his footsteps crunching the autumn leaves below him and leaving an easy trail for her to follow. She blended within the whitening bark of the slim trees, keeping her focus on every footprint Bilbo made as she slipped through the forests by the river. It didn't take long to discover the source of the noise: raft-elves poking their poles in a large bunch of barrels.
Relly fought the urge to bolt from the trees. Could it be that Thorin and the rest were in those very barrels? Her hazel eyes flickered with a gleam of hope, her nails digging into the chipped bark of the tree she was hiding behind. She peeked around the corner to try and find Bilbo's footprints but she lost track and mentally cursed herself for getting so distracted.
"Relly?" a harsh whisper floated to her ears as she perked back up. "I'm right here."
"Okay," she quietly whispered back to Bilbo as the duo continued to observe the grumbling raft-elves try and bunch up the barrels. Relly didn't particularly care for elves at the moment after thorny king Thranduil imprisoned her but she also forgot how nice Elrond had been to them. Elves were weird.
"They're too heavy," complained one as he weakly attempted to hook his pole onto the lid of a barrel. "What's in these anyway?"
The other raft-elf shrugged. "Who knows. Shove 'em off. Some are never empty."
And so the barrels out of bond continued to float down the river, past the poking and prodding of the raft-elves and were close to drifting out of sight from the small party of heroes. Relly's stomach grew into a dark pit, her face turning pale. Her dwarven friends had escaped the dungeons of the king and through the wood but whether alive or dead remained to be seen. She wasn't on the verge of crying but she was upset.
Bilbo became visible as he gently approached the clearly upset Relly. He swallowed down a gulp as he placed his hand on her shoulder. He hated seeing her so distressed. Sure, it would have helped if the raft-elves had managed to bring up the possible dwarf-filled barrel up on land. On the other hand, a fight could have ensued and Relly and Bilbo weren't in the best condition to fight.
"We'll just continue down the river. They're heavy barrels, they can't go too far," he tried to cheer her up.
She sighed as she bit her bottom lip, her eyes lighting up a little. "Yeah, especially if Bombur's in one of them."
The two giggled together for a minute and everything seemed to be alright. For a minute, anyway. When his eyes were still closed from laughing, Relly raised her chin up to look at Bilbo, a pink blush on her cheeks.
The next day poor Bilbo was sneezing left and right, much to the worry and annoyance of Relly. There was no use in the Hobbit staying invisible due to his irritating cold and it hadn't helped that it rained last night and put out their fire. Thanks to her handy Warg skin, Relly had stayed warm and possibly was the reason why she didn't have a cold. Bilbo refused her Warg skin last night and now he was paying for it.
"AH-CHOO!" Bilbo's loud sneeze could have set the forest aflame with how much force he expelled from his nostrils. "I-I hate this cold."
That was it. Relly spun around on her heels and grabbed Bilbo by his forearms, a large pout on her face as she glared at him. She let go and ignored the red spreading on her face as she untied her Warg skin from her neck and shoved it in Bilbo's arms. "Take it."
"I-Relly, Beorn gave it to you. I couldn't po-possib- CHOO!" and Bilbo sneezed once more. Relly tapped her foot repeatedly until Bilbo reluctantly accepted her gift and wore it as a cape like Relly had previously been using the skin for.
"Much warmer, isn't it?" she asked with a brow raised and a blush on her face betraying her. "You can be really stupid sometimes."
If he didn't care for her so deeply he would have been offended. But she was right in a way and he sighed into the warmth of the Warg fur as he walked behind Relly, chuckling to himself that he was essentially doomed to love such a strange quarterling.
Which reminded him about their kiss. He really needed some answers about that. At night he would gather the pride and courage to confront her only to back out when she fell asleep or changed the subject. He had to know for certain. The little things she did gave him hope that she loved him too and with their adventure getting more twisted and dangerous by the hour, Bilbo wanted to express everything to her before it was too late.
But not now, he told himself. Not when we still have so much left to do.
And so his romantic thoughts relating to his thief ebbed away as the two followed the curves of the river. The Lonely Mountain loomed ahead of him and sent a shiver through his skin. How close they were to the end, and yet too far to see the outcome of their journey!
If only Gandalf were here, Bilbo conjured up an image of the friendly grey wizard in his mind. It felt like centuries since he last saw the powerful wizard. But I suppose this truly is our own adventure and we must complete it without his aid.
True, he had been pretty successful in rescuing his companions with only his luck and sheer determination but it would have been nice to have access to some of Gandalf's magic. He remembered the ring in his vest pocket and felt a little comfort knowing he had an ace up his sleeve.
"Bilbo look!" Relly pointed her finger at a strange sight. "It's a town on the water!"
He blinked. She was correct, no matter how silly she sounded. Located on the mouth of the Forest River was the very town Relly excitedly spoke of, an amazing collection of houses and establishments on the surface of the lake. There were a few buildings on actual land but Relly was right; a majority of the town was built on the water, luckily protecting by large jutting rocks that kept the bay so quiet and calm. Upon observation Bilbo saw no elves but Men who had settled onto this territory despite the danger of the dragon within the mountain.
The closest human Bilbo had met on this journey was Beorn but he was hardly considered as such. A whole town of Men...this could go well or terribly wrong. He had seldom seen humans in the Shire outside of merchant business and Relly of all Hobbits had seen the spectrum of the race of Men.
Bilbo's eyes traveled to the figure of Relly, watching the town go about their daily routine like they were normal. As if they were safe. Bilbo could see Relly's eyes narrow, the thief probably thinking about how such people could live under the shadow of the dragon. Maybe they treated it as a fun legend or a danger on the back-burner. Either way, the two had a duty to follow through and that was rescuing Thorin and company. Lake-town would have to wait.
"Relly, the barrels!" Bilbo jerked her sleeve, grabbing her attention. "Ah-chuh, I see the rafts they are on!"
The black haired quarterling looked in the direction of the docks where the raft-elves and boatmen had been hoarding the barrels onto rafts of sorts. It was broad daylight now but if they could just be patient a while longer, then they could finally free the dwarves and decide on whether they wanted to approach Lake-town.
"Wait until night," Relly said. "Those morons will go back into town to eat and we can finally free them!"
Seeing her happy now made Bilbo happier, even with his cold and the worries he held for the future. He agreed with her plan and so the two of them stayed put in the forest, watching the village together until the blue skies darkened into black.
When the time came for their daring action, Bilbo made a sudden decision as he took his magic ring out of his vest pocket and grabbed Relly's hand. Without a word, he slipped the band in her palm with a small smile.
"I trust you with this, Relly. You be on watch and I'll go dive after the barrels."
Relly stuttered, looking strangely at the ring in her hand. "I...I, okay."
"Good. Keep it safe. I'll be back with Thorin and everyone."
Bilbo felt comforted knowing the magic ring would be with her rather than in his pocket underwater. He looked over his shoulder to see his apprehensive quarterling and smiled to her as he set off to the docks to cut loose the barrels. After this, he thought to himself, after this is over it'll be a better time to talk.
After all the groaning and complaining and drying off, the smelly straw-covered dwarves were all eventually released from their prisons. The most ornery of the group were Dwalin and Balin, who offered no help to free their brethren. The only chipper dwarves were Fili and Kili, who were tremendous help with unscrewing the tight lids on the barrels. Kili complained a little about the crick in his neck and Fili swore he would never eat apples again.
"Apples, apples, all lining my barrel and yet I could never taste them!" he spoke of the torture he endured. "I never want to smell another apple again! I would rather smell dragon dung than smell an apple!"
Kili laughed at his brother's melodramatic words. "You won't even eat Mother's delicious apple cobbler?"
Fili awkwardly paused as he finished wringing out the ends of his chin braids. "Well...maybe except for Mother's cooking..."
The crew was slowly coming to life again as Bilbo watched his fellow comrades dry off and adjust their legs on land. Bombur was still asleep in his barrel-induced coma and Dori, Nori and Ori were waterlogged and had to be carried onshore before they were any good. Bifur and Bofur were probably the most energetic besides Fili and Kili. and Bofur was the first to ask after Relly.
"She never got into a barrel, eh?" Bofur chuckled loudly, his chest still heaving from water residue. "That sounds like her!"
"I was worried all this time and she was never with us!" Ori balled up his chunky fists and then let out a relieved sigh. "Where is she, Bilbo?"
Bilbo looked behind the trees where he last saw Relly and anxiously smiled back at Ori and Nori. Before he was about to answer, the large presence of Thorin Oakenshield quite literally dwarfed him.
"Well! Bilbo Baggins, I guess we have you to thank as well as the stars above us. However, I wish you could have arranged a more comfortable journey down stream," Thorin lamented as Bilbo inaudibly snorted at his comment. "No doubt we will be even more grateful for your service once we have rested and eaten. Though, I do not see our companion Relly here...is she on watch?"
Bilbo lit up. Relly would be ecstatic to see her almost-fatherly figure again. "Y-yes, she is! In fact she should be right around...well...I saw her here!" and he stared in the general direction that he last saw Relly standing.
She wasn't there.
Kili frowned. "You lost her."
Fili, Balin and Bombur joined in on Kili's mutterings as Bilbo's face washed pale. This wasn't good. Oh sure he could cut loose twelve dwarves without too many complications but once again Bilbo lost one of the few things he held precious, and no he didn't mean the ring.
The able bodied dwarves that could walk joined Bilbo to look for Relly where she was last seen. Bofur played his flute to try and draw her out but it was still soaking wet and only bubbles were playing from the holes. Kili and Fili shouted her name until Thorin hushed them; not wanting to draw too much attention from potential enemies in the forest.
"Poor girl gets knocked out, develops amnesia and now she's lost! I can only hope Smaug hasn't flown down and gobbled her up!" Gloin raised his arms up, exasperated with all the unfortunate events that had befallen their only female companion.
"Don't say that," Nori bonked him on his red haired noggin, although his fears were forming on his bearded face as well.
Bilbo absentmindedly reached for his vest pocket but reminded himself that he had given the ring to Relly for safekeeping. Now look at all the trouble I caused now, he clenched his temple with his hand, sneezing loudly into the now oncoming rain.
What truly scared the Hobbit was the fact Relly carried an object with powers of invisibility and an old fear crossed his mind as he continued to look behind trees and rocks.
She ran off with the ring, his mind creaked out slowly. She ran off and left you behind.
I'm evil, I know.
Next chapter starts with Relly's POV after Bilbo leaves to rescue the dwarves. Where did Relly go...?