"By Durin…she's nothing more than a mere lass."
"Could it really be…?"
Bilbo turned just in time to see the relief and the conflicting shame play on Thorin's face.
With the softest of touches that even he did not know he was capable of, he traced the curve of her mouth and admired the silky feel.
"Who are you?" Thorin murmured to himself. His fingers briefly touched her smooth jaw before withdrawing his hand.
Magorpîn was full of contradictions and Thorin wished he could understand. He saw her eyes flicker and knew it was time to go. With regret, he turned around and left.
"If you care for her, you would leave her here. Look at her Bilbo; she is badly wounded because of us. Can you really ask more from her?"
"Then can't we…can't we wait? Lord Elrond said that she heals fast. Just give her two more days and we can all go."
"I know what that elf said," Thorin replied coldly. "Every hour we spend in Rivendell is another hour our enemies can make use of. We waste our time here. Pack your bags, hobbit. We depart in an hour; with or without you."
"Well if you are still set in completing this journey, we must leave as soon as we can. How are you feeling?"
Buffy flexed her fingers and rubbed her ribs. "Kinda tender on the inside but I think I'm ready to be up and about. Why? What's the rush?"
Gandalf shifted. "It seems Thorin and the rest have continued the journey without us."
"They did what?!"
"Buh-feeh? Such a silly name for such a puny human-girl!"
"Well then you call me 'Slayer'," she brought her sword up, preparing to lunge. "Comma 'The'. Fugly."
A bright light followed by a massive shockwave went through the entire hall, and for the second time that night, everyone was shocked into silence.
And then all hell broke loose.
"Take to arms! Take to arms and fight," Gandalf urged yet no one moved.
"That's your signal to move your asses, dwarves," Magorpîn snapped, hoping to bring them out of their dazes. But it wasn't until she beheaded a goblin and kicked one off from the bridge that they finally started arming themselves. She tossed Dwalin one of his axes before ducking and slicing another goblin in two. Gandalf joined in the fight and wielded Glamdring with surprising ferocity.
The Goblin King squealed in fright as he caught sight of The Beater.
Magorpîn couldn't help the smirk when she caught sight of Gandalf fighting. Many saw the Grey Wizard as nothing more than a meddling old man renowned for his fireworks. If only they could see him now.
"If I didn't know better, I would think that you are actually enjoying yourself," Dwalin grunted as she stood nearby. They were close to clearing off the main bridge away from the 'throne'. She gave him a crooked smirk and let her sword respond for her. "Glad to have you with us, lassie!"
The Slayer chuckled silently before piercing two goblins at once. She caught sight of Thorin who finally managed to stand up and was wielding the Orcrist once more. Magorpîn made her way towards the dwarf-prince, indignant anger replacing her glee from the fight.
"Thorin Oakenshield—" she poked him with her finger. "—you've got some nerve leaving me behind." She barely turned to kick a goblin attempting to stab her from the back. It squealed as it fell off.
The dwarf-prince spun around, surprised that she brought this up in the middle of battle. "Are we really going to talk about it—" he paused to punch one of the goblins before running Orcrist through the goblin's stomach. "—now?!"
"What? You think a—" she stopped to behead another goblin and sliced another in half.
"—goblin horde is gonna make me—" the Slayer flung a throwing knife at a goblin that Kili was having issues with.
She lunged for a leap and a strike, "—forget how I was just—" Thorin grabbed her just in time before she fell over the edge.
Magorpîn suddenly found herself right up against Thorin. They were both slightly panting from the fight, but all they could do was stare at each other in surprise. Thorin still hadn't taken his hands off her waist and she had to force herself to relax her grip on his coat.
"You should not have come back," he muttered softly, but the look he gave her made her stiffen. His eyes flickered over her lips before pausing at her eyes.
She shoved his hands away and glared back with annoyance. "That decision was not yours to make," Magorpîn snapped. "Remember this Oakenshield: I may have a contract with you but you are not my lord or prince." She took satisfaction in the return of his familiar glower. It was far more comfortable than the intimate look he gave her earlier.
"Thorin! Magorpîn! We must hurry if we are to escape this cave."
Neither bothered to spare each other a glance before jumping back into the fray. With her anger renewed, Buffy did what she did best—she slayed and left behind carnage only matched by Thorin's own fury. It wasn't long before they caught up to the rest of the company and began leading the charge. They ran through bridges and broke down several lines of goblins but the waves kept coming. Up ahead, Gandalf shoved his staff at a particularly low ceiling, breaking off a large boulder that rolled down the path. Navigating the boulder, Gandalf was able to clear a path for them, finally breaking through the horde of goblins.
At last, they finally had a clearing!
They were crossing the bridge when suddenly the Goblin King broke through from underneath. "Slayer!" He pointed furiously at Magorpîn. She moved to stand in front of Gandalf, painfully aware of the growing numbers of goblins that were surrounding them.
"You were supposed to be a myth! A mere whisper from the forests of the east—" His words were cut short by the spear that was now sticking through his chest. Everyone stared at her in surprise.
"That's the rumor-mill for you. Always reliable," Magorpîn smirked, having just thrown the crude spear. She brought up her sword to finish him off, but not before he was able to utter his final words.
"You were born from the shadows and deathhhh…"
She pulled her sword from his neck with a start, causing the king to fall off the wooden bridge. Within seconds, the howling of the goblins grew to a roar and the bridge cracked and broke underneath them. It was their turn to scream as they crashed through several levels of pathways and bridges.
Down and down they went, their section of the bridge somehow only gaining momentum and speed no matter how many other structures they broke through. Thankfully the walls of the mountain started closed in, slowing them down until it brought them to a stop. There was a collective sigh from the group, before the heavy body of the goblin king crashed on top of them.
"Have I told you how much I hate you recently?" Magorpîn growled at Gandalf, who had already managed to get out of the wreckage before the creature landed on them.
The wizard huffed indignantly. Really! It wasn't as if he came out of it completely unscathed… Before he could respond however, the screams of the goblin reverberated through the cave and they were once again running.
The cave turned into dark narrow passages, with unexpected twists and bends. In fact, if it wasn't for the dwarves' excellent vision and Gandalf's lit staff, they would have already been captured several times before they managed to escape through a crack on the wall.
When they finally exited the mountain, it was already late in the afternoon. Magorpîn was thankful to finally be in the open spaces of the country but she knew they had to keep running. Goblins may hate the sun, but it was only a matter of hours before darkness approached. They jogged to a small clearing, with the slayer following at the rear. She began counting each head of the company, only to realize at the same time as Gandalf that they were missing one.
"Where is Bilbo? Who saw him last?"
She only had to look at one face in particular to know the answer. With a snarl, Magorpîn strode over to Thorin and punched him on the face. Surprised, the dwarves yelled with protestation while Balin and Dwalin quickly pulled Magorpîn off their leader.
She ignored their protests. "You left him behind, didn't you?! You saw your chance to ditch Bilbo too and you took it!"
Thorin schooled his face back into indifference and gingerly touched his throbbing chin. He would not give her the satisfaction of seeing how painful that strike was, or even his dwindling guilt for leaving her behind in Rivendell.
"I saw Bilbo slip away in the middle of the chaos," Nori defended, angry with Magorpîn for striking Thorin. "He was the one who left us!"
"Does that satisfy you, lady?" Thorin snapped. "It was Bilbo who saw the chance to finally leave us and he took it! Do not put his departure on me."
Magorpîn shoved off Balin and Dwalin and glared hard at Thorin. She was still frustrated with herself for not having noticed Bilbo's absence earlier but she refused to believe Thorin's words. Bilbo was useless in a fight but that was precisely why he wouldn't leave in the middle of the goblin cave—how the hell would he survive that mess?
"That hobbit has been nothing but a liability," continued Thorin, this time giving Gandalf a pointed look. "All he longs for is his soft bed and warm hearth ever since he stepped out of his door. He is long gone—we will not see him again."
The dwarves looked at each other. They may have all thought the same thing about Bilbo, but it still saddened them to know that the hobbit would actually abandon them now…
"Oh I don't know about that."
Everybody turned and saw the subject of their conversation step out the line of trees.
A flash of blonde was his only warning before being pulled into a fierce hug.
"Magorpîn?! How did you…when did you…?" Surprised at the sudden physical contact from Magorpîn, all he could do was stutter his surprise. She pulled away and punched him on the shoulder. "Ow!"
"Don't do that again." But her crooked smile gave away her relief. Bilbo returned her smile; glad to know that she was back although his sore shoulder might say otherwise. Gandalf chuckled, also relieved to see that they had not lost their hobbit.
"We thought you had left," Kili started. "How did you get pass through the goblins?"
At this, Bilbo nervously laughed. He looked like even he didn't know how to answer Kili. The hobbit shoved his hands in his coat pocket and fidgeted.
"Well what does it matter?" Gandalf broke the pause, tearing his eyes away from the brief glint of gold from Bilbo's hand. Everything had its time. "He is here, safe and all in one piece."
But Thorin was shocked at being so openly proven wrong and could not let it go. "It matters. I want to know why did you come back?"
Buffy didn't miss him briefly catch her eye. The question was silently directed at her as well, but he will not be getting her answer tonight.
Bilbo straightened his back, indignant at having his honor questioned—though it wasn't that long ago when he genuinely tried to leave them. "I know you've doubted me, ever since we've met. You've always had. And you're right. I often think of Bag End…I miss my books, my bed…my garden. It's where I belong, it's my home." He paused, painfully aware of Thorin's intense look. "That's exactly why I came back, because you don't have one. A home. It was taken from you and I'm here to help you take it back."
Thorin had no words. Humbled by his response, all he could give was a brief nod. The dwarves found themselves staring at Bilbo with something akin to awe and respect. They were touched by his selflessness, and were grateful to have him in their journey. Even Magorpîn seemed moved.
As Gandalf looked around, he was pleased once again with himself for dragging Bilbo into this journey. He eyed Magorpîn's softened features with satisfaction. Perhaps there is still a chance yet…
Their celebration was cut short as warg howls reverberated around them.
"Out of the frying pan…" Thorin muttered darkly.
"And into the fire," Gandalf finished with a groan. "Run!"
Buffy sighed but started running.
Will this day ever end?
AN: Please don't kill me…
I know this is pretty short (AND LONG OVERDUE) but I pinky promise that I have the following chapter already written and would be updating next week. Thank you for all the patience and the reviews you've left me.
As always, this has not been beta-ed so forgive the grammar and spelling errors.