This chapter is dedicated to Freydris, and Skreech for making me smile.

She had to admit, the whole ugly-beyond-belief feet thing, whilst both annoying and soul destroying at times, did have some benefits. For one, she definitely stood on a thorn earlier and she didn't feel a thing. For another, there was apparently no sweat glands on her feet so smelly feet were now a thing of the past! The biggest benefit though was that she no longer had to worry about shoes. Or more importantly, trying to fit shoes in her already near bursting survival pack. Eliza, who was unprepared at the best of times, had made a promise to herself that she would no longer be fate's bitch. She wouldn't just sit down and take it. She would be prepared; she would be badass. So, the day after Gandalf's impromptu trip at the beginning of last week she had taken it upon herself to root through all of Bilbo's personal and private things to get them, and more importantly her, properly prepared for the trip he swore they weren't going on. Puhlease. She may not have actually read The Hobbit-she tried to read the first Lord of the Rings book and it did not end well- but she was nearly one hundred percent sure the book did not just follow Bilbo around his house while he was an anti-social little bastard. Shit was going to go down. She was pretty sure there was a dragon at some point, which would be unbelievably awesome; she was a big Eragon fan. Not the last book though. It sucked ass.

First thing she found for herself for her awesome bag of tricks was an actual bag for said tricks; an old, brown leather rucksack which looked like it had seen better days and had probably belonged to Bilbo's great-great-grandfather. Then she rolled up two of the three brown pairs of trousers Bilbo had purchased for her, the other pair she left out to wear, three of Bilbo's shirts, a new green travelling cloak, some underwear, and the light green dress Ms Burrows had made for her, just in-case they went anywhere fancy; the abomination would be remaining behind.

She took her small coin pouch off her belt and sat it on top of her bag. She wanted to make sure she didn't forget it; she worked really hard to beg all that money off of Bilbo, and he never paid her for all of her Oliver Twist duties he kept shoving at her so she liked to think of them as the wages he would never pay her. All she needed now was a weapon, but the only thing she was likely to find in the Shire remotely weapon-like would be a pitch fork. She was not going to fight the forces of evil with a pitchfork. Not that she actually wanted to fight the forces of evil, because she didn't. At all. She just knew that if it someone in this house had to fight off an Orc or a different otherworldly evil creature, then it would be the bad ass Irish girl and not the guy that yesterday showed her the correct way to fold napkins, and then preceded to make her fold all the napkins he had collected in his life. Her hands were still sore.

It was part of the reason that she had been trying to avoid him all afternoon. The other part was that he'd been acting really fidgety today. Like proper wringing his hands/staring at her face when he thought she couldn't see fidgety. He was either building himself up to confess his undying love to her, or to ask her to move out and live in the bushes. It could go either way. She hated having these conversations with guys. The, 'I really don't see you that way and I was pretty sure before now that you were gay' talks. And if it went the other way and he asked her to leave she was pretty sure she'd cry. Or punch him and refuse.

She was a big girl though, avoiding him was beneath her, plus she was really hungry and she could smell something delicious cooking. She straightened her trousers and then made her way into the kitchen to see if Bilbo was done cooking. All the pretend cleaning she'd done earlier had really worked up her appetite.

"What's cooking, good looking?" she asked Bilbo, pulling out one of the chairs from under the table and slipping into it.

"I beg your pardon?" Bilbo turned, eyeing her strangely while ladelling massive helpings of stew from the cooking pot over the fire into two plain ceramic bowls. He was wearing his really cool patchwork dressing gown over his pjamas. Eliza, who choose to sleep naked rather than wear the frilly nightgown he provided, had been 'absolutely forbidden' from wearing it because Bilbo was 'putting his foot down.' Sometimes he was just selfish beyond words.

"I was just wondering what my little chef had cooked up for me today," she replied, shooting him a massive, cheesy grin.

"Your 'little chef'-who may I mention is actually taller than you are- has cooked you exactly what you told him to cook you," he told her, whilst grabbing the two bowls and sitting them on the table; one in-front of her and one in the place directly opposite. "Beef stew with green peas and freshly baked bread on the side." Bilbo grabbed a large bowl with a metal spoon sticking out the top of it and plate piled high with crispy brown rolls from beside the stove and placed them in the middle of the table before taking a seat.

"You spoil me," she told him, using one hand to spoon peas into her bowl and then mixing them into the stew and then the other to grab a roll and take a hearty bite out of it. "And I'm definitely on the verge of being the same height as you. I'm going to grow any day now." She said the last part around chewing her food.

Bilbo however was far more graceful with his eating habits; trying to eat his stew with both his knife and fork while Eliza was now trying to eat both her stew and her bread at the same time and as a result looked like an over stuffed hamster. "I'm perfectly aware," he said between small mouthfuls, choosing to ignore her height comment. "There's also an apple pie in the stove."

She stopped shoving her food in her mouth to turn her grateful gaze at him, "I think I love you." Like serious, live in his house, never leave him, love. She'd try and marry him if she wasn't ninety percent sure he was gay. And if she was remotely attracted to him. "Like a brother. Brotherly love." she hastened to clarify when she saw him blush brightly and cough into his hand.

"Yes. Well, I've found that I quite like cooking for the both of us. And I rather enjoy your company, more than I ever thought I would." Bilbo, who was usually such an awkward little bastard decided to just jump straight in. She should have known this was a trap! Please don't do what I think you're going to do. She could feel herself start to panic as he set his fork down and looked into her eyes; giving her his undivided attention. "What I'm trying to say Eliza is that I know that you've recently suffered a great loss, a terrible loss, but I want you to know that you will always have a home here, as long as you want it."

She was actually rather touched by that, but of course he wasn't finished. "And you should know that I don't expect anything to happen right away, but I was wondering if you could see us, in the future that is, possible hav-"

She stopped him, waving a hand in his face; hoping to cut him off before he could truly get started. She dropped the hand and reached across the table and grabbed one of his hands. "Bilbo, it's not that I don't care for you. I do-you know I do. It's just, I think of you more like my brother." she reiterated, "And us being together sexually, well it would feel like incest."

He paused, a look of dawning horror overcoming his face.

"Oh Dear Lord no!" he pulled his hand back in disgust, his cheeks going an alarming shade of red. "No, no, no. Eliza, that's not what I was suggesting at all."

"Then what are you talking about?" she asked him, totally confused. He didn't have to seem so disgusted by the very suggestion though. Rude bastard.

"I was suggesting that we make these arrangements more permanent. That we move you in properly." He paused to collect himself; his face still not back to it's natural colour. "I would never sug-"

He was interrupted by three sharp raps on the door.

Eliza had never been more relieved by anything in her life. Why was she always the one to take things to a weird place? Her best friend Sarah was the overly sexual one, not her!

She jumped up out of her seat, "Door! It's the door!" Then she sat down trying to play it off nonchalantly, "You should probably get that, Bilbo."

The hobbit sitting across from her who had been scowling darkly at the interruption conceded and got up mumbling under his breath about unwanted guests at this time of night. Though most of the people that passed through the Shire were seen as unwanted guests by Bilbo.

She watched him disappear into the hall, glad for the time to think of a way to stop the conversation on his inevitable return. She could hear him talking to someone at the door, someone who sounded like they had a deep, Scottish accent. She didn't really care about their late night caller until he came walking around the corner with Bilbo trailing helplessly behind him.

He was an absolute beast of a dwarf; the top of his head was completely bald but he thick brown hair at the side of his head and across his face. He looked like he was suited up for battle; he had a thick fur cloak across his shoulders and his clothing was a mixture of metal and leather. Eliza was pretty sure she could see several long daggers strapped across him.

And he just plonked himself down in Bilbo's seat like he owned the place. He looks at her across from Bilbo's food which he had naturally helped himself too. "You must be the cousin," he looks her up and down and then grabs one of her rolls. "I had been informed that you were a lady. The old man's eyesight must be going."

How fucking rude.

Eliza, who had been staring at him in a mixture of awe, fear, and then loathing when he grabbed her bread, snapped her gaze to Bilbo in disbelief. The other hobbit had taken a seat on the stool beside the intruder and was looking at his food longingly. She snapped her gaze back to the dwarf across from her who now seemed to be inhaling the rolls. She saw Bilbo sneak one into his pocket.

"I am a lady!" she told him indignantly. So what if she was wearing Bilbo's clothes, it's not like she had a beard. "And s'cuse me," she snatched his latest wheaten victim from his hand; he had some weird metal glove on so it was harder than it seemed. "I don't mean to be rude, but who did you say you were?" And why was he eating all their food? Or, well Bilbo's food. He'd have to be a brave man to try and take some out of her bowl.

He paused, and slowly looked her up and down. "I beg your pardon. Of course you're a lady! Dwalin is my name." He gave her a small incline of his head just as more banging was heard at the door.

"Bilbo, door." she said, not taking her eyes off the dwarf in front of her. The hobbit had been staring off into space but snapped out of it when he heard his name.

"What? Yes, of course." he replied, catching the roll she threw him before making his way into the hall.

"You better hope that's not another one of you." she said, squinting her eyes at the dwarf.

He gave a short barking laugh in return. "Heh. One? Lass, you could be expecting twenty."

The dwarves are coming! All I ask is that you all kindly disregard my previous promise to update faster. Clearly that was a lie. For that I apologise. You know the drill by know, let me know what you think! Is it good, bad, or should I hide my face never to be seen again?

-The Lieutenant Sarcasm