A/N: This story is going to digress from the book/film quite considerably. Just a quick warning.

I own nothing. All characters and locations are property of J.R.R. Tolkien.



Why was it so cold?

He just lay there, in the contorted position that he'd landed in, feeling the blood soak into his ripped shirt, the fire burning through his body at complete odds to the cold that bit at his face. He'd only wanted to prove himself, to actually help for a change, but it had gone so, so wrong. And so he lay there, waiting for death.

Why couldn't it hurry up?

He didn't want to be found until after he was dead. He only had a short amount of time for this world anyway, but if he was found, then he had no doubt that they would put him through more pain. And that was something he couldn't take. Yet at the same time, he couldn't get the sight of his brother's face out of his mind. He wondered what had happened to him, he wondered if his brother had escaped...

A shadow appeared across the strip of light that had crept upon his face. He flinched. They had found him, they had found him and they would hurt him until he had finally lost all semblance of pride, all desire to cling onto life.

Why couldn't he have died when he'd hit the ground?

Ten days earlier...

Bilbo had never heard a howl like that before.

It was the kind of howl that froze his blood, that tore at whatever strength he had in his heart.

"Was that... Was that a wolf?"

In answer to his question, a warg leapt down the hill, racing towards them, its sights set on one person – Thorin. It leapt into the air, teeth bared –

An axe embedded itself deep into the warg's back, knocking it out of the air. Gloin removed his weapon, only to have Bifur replace it with yet another blow, this time smashing the beast's skull.

Bilbo took several shallow breaths, staring in shock at the warg's corpse.

"Gundabad wargs," Gandalf said, a note of disgust in his voice as he jabbed the body with his staff.

"Which means that there's an orc pack nearby," Thorin said, immediately taking charge. "We need to leave. Now!"

Bilbo was still struggling to get his head around Thorin's use of the phrase 'orc pack' when he heard Dwalin say: "but the ponies! They've bought it. The wargs got them first!"

"Not all of them," Gandalf said, pointing to his own steed. "I brought mine with me, and a good thing too."

"Great, so we have one pony," Thorin was beginning to get impatient. "What good will that do?"

"I'll draw them off," Radagast said, reminding them all that he was still there. "It'll buy you time."

Gandalf looked as though he would have liked to argue, but thought better of it. He merely offered Radagast a shrug, as if to say 'good luck.'


Thorin offered Kíli a nod, and the youngest member of the company fitted an arrow to his bow, before running out and shooting the orc that stood above them twice. It fell down with a scream, but it wasn't enough to kill it. The others had to run out to prevent the orc from getting up again, but the orc wasn't going to die quietly. The last thing it ever did in that world was ensure that all those on that plain knew exactly where the dwarves were.

Thorin pulled the others back, unable to hide the panic that he felt. The entire plain had gone silent, as orcs around them looked towards the rock behind which they were hiding.

Thorin reached behind him and led the one pony that they still had, not having had time to remove the supplies from it before the orcs attacked. He immediately started pulling the reins over the pony's head.

"Follow Gandalf. I'll provide a distraction that will give you time to get away. I'll catch you up later."

Gandalf quickly stepped in front of the pony. "Thorin, you are the leader of this company. Without you, this quest will come to nothing. You can't go!"

"Then what would you have me do?" Thorin hissed. "Sit here and wait while wargs come and tear us apart?"

Gandalf grabbed the reins too. "Let me go," Gandalf said. "I'm the faster rider, and when I get into trouble I can get myself out of it!"

The last remark was a low blow, and Thorin glared at Gandalf, as though he would have liked nothing better than to punch the wizard. "Well, if we're so bad at getting ourselves out of trouble, then perhaps you'd like to supervise us?"

Not one of them noticed the third hand that had crept onto the reins.

Gandalf sighed, before hissing back at Thorin. "If it's a choice between you going and me going, it would be far smarter to let me go, now, wouldn't it? I could catch you up-"

The argument was stopped abruptly as the reins were ripped from both Gandalf's and Thorin's hands, and the horse shot forwards, knocking Gandalf out of the way. Thorin's head spun in the direction of the retreating horse, and he didn't need elvish eyesight to recognise the dark hair, nor did he need to count the company to know who was missing. But it was Fíli who called out the rider's name.


A/N: So I wrote this quite late at night when I was bored. It may not be great but I hope the concept's interesting enough. And I know that most of that was taken from the film, but the AU stuff comes in the next chapter (probably.) Anyway, just let me know what you think!