Hello! This is just a little humorous one-shot set at the beginning of the quest- I hope you like it!
The fire spat and crackled, the white embers glowing in the night. The company were all sat around the fast receding flames, waiting for it to sputter out before they turned in for the night- having an open fire whilst asleep only asked for trouble.
Bilbo yawned, stifling it with the back of his hand- his eyes were stinging from the plumes of smoke that wafted in the wind from the centre, and the day's trek up a mountain pass had exhausted him. Fili and Kili, however, looked like they had only just woken up- they were running around the group, giggling like children, playing some inane sort of game that looked like chase, only with more hitting and pulling to the floor.
Thorin, it seemed, had finally had enough of his nephew's antics. 'Why don't you two just act your age?' he growled, voice rising along with his temper. 'I didn't bring you along so you could mess around!'
The two brothers stopped, out of breath, with solemn looks on their faces- they looked to the ground like children who had got a nasty telling-off from a parent.
'Sorry, Uncle…' they muttered simultaneously, before moving to Bilbo's direction and sitting down with soft flumps. They looked at Bilbo, then at each other, before breaking into twin grins, but being careful not to make a sound.
Bilbo rolled his eyes, chuckling- he caught Thorin's eye and stopped, suddenly feeling like he was part of the telling off as well.
To mask his apparent misdemeanour he took out his pack of playing cards; the cards were worn from frequent use, the colours and shapes fading here and there where he had held them with deft fingers.
Solitaire was his game of choice, but as any Hobbit down in Bywater will say, he was also quite partial to the odd game of Rummy and, only on very special occasions, Poker. He wasn't very good at it, mind- he always smiled when he had a good hand, and when drunk he used to fling his cards into the table with a flourish in the middle of a game.
So he quite frequently ended up playing card games alone- hence he was an expert at Solitaire.
He was painfully aware that two young Dwarves were staring at his every move- he placed his cards next to him, feeling his ears grow hot.
Finally, he could stand the tense silence no longer; he looked up, eyes wide.
'Can- can I help you?' he asked, looking from Kili to Fili.
'What are you playing?' Kili asked without missing a beat.
'What am I pl-cards, I'm playing cards…' Bilbo gestured down to the deck in front of them.
'I can see that- what I mean is, what game are you playing?'
'We've never seen a game you play alone.' Fili butted in, looking intently down at the cards as if they would rise up and explain themselves.
'It's called Solitaire, and yes, you play it alone.' Bilbo tried not to over-pronounce the word alone but it somehow slipped out; he caught Kili giving Fili a sideways glance.
'Maybe we should leave Master Baggins to his alone game….' Kili muttered, sounding put-out.
'Oh no- you don't have to go. Sorry for being rude it's just…..bit tired and cranky tonight….' Bilbo explained; realising he was gabbling he stopped, feeling his cheeks go as red as his ears.
'If you're sure? Everyone else is settling down for the night.' Fili replied, but they sat nonetheless, without waiting for Bilbo to reply.
The Hobbit looked down, frowning. They couldn't play solitaire now- there was too many people, and he was in no mood to explain any long-winded rules for any other game either.
Suddenly, he had a brainwave. He grinned inwardly, feeling as mischievous as Fili and Kili as he took up his deck and started shuffling it.
'What games do you play?' he asked nonchalantly, pretending to play for time.
'Well, we play Durak, Basra…oh and we discovered one called Sheepshead once!' Kili listed them off on his hand.
'Right- what about fifty two card pick up?' Bilbo asked casually, still shuffling.
'Ummm…no, I don't think we've played that-you, Fili?' Kili turned to his brother, frowning.
Fili thought for a moment, before shaking his head. 'Don't think so…..is it hard?'
'Incredibly easy.' Bilbo reassured him, feeling giggles in his throat. He pushed them back, masking them with a cough.
'Hmm….how many players?'
'As many as you want.'
Suddenly, Fili turned to his side, cupping his hands to his face. 'Oi Bofur- you ever hear of a card game called fifty two card pick up?!' he yelled.
The dwarf in question looked up, a quizzical look on his face. He knew exactly what that game was, as did probably every other dwarf here….. He was just about to answer, before he caught Bilbo's face behind the two lads.
He was putting a finger to his throat like a knife, whilst putting his other hand on his mouth. Be quiet! Don't say anything, the look plainly said.
'Uhhh No, can't say that I have laddie- I'll come over, see what it is….' He said, grinning as Fili turned away- he gestured to the others to follow, and they all walked round to the three of them, supressing knowing chuckles.
'Right, you want to know the rules?' Bilbo asked the two youngest dwarves. They nodded, looking at the Hobbit like he was the most important thing in the world.
'Well, all you have to do is wait till I've finished setting game out- the rest will come to you….' He muttered, looking to Thorin for a split second; their leader looked down at him, his mouth curling slightly with humour, before he turned away, shaking his head as he did.
'Go on then- I want to play!' Kili grinned, rubbing his hands together. 'You are going to lose, brother!'
'I always win- you know it!' Fili replied.
'Oh don't worry, there can only be winners in this game!' Bilbo replied.
'What a strange game you Hobbits play….' Fili frowned.
'Ready?' Bilbo asked, not wanting to delay their evening's fun.
'Ready!' The brother's said together, smiles on their faces.
'Ok…..Three…..two…..one…' Bilbo counted down- on one he threw the pack in the air, watching as all the cards went flying onto Fili and Kili's heads.
The raucous laughter that followed was almost deafening. Every Dwarf was clutching their sides, tears streaming down their faces as they pointed at the two red-faced dwarves, cards still on their heads and stuck in the clothes.
Fili and Kili looked at each other, presumably feeling very silly- suddenly, Kili broke out into a grin, and soon they were both laughing at the joke as well- Fili shook Bilbo's hand, tears in his eyes.
'Very well played Sir!' he chuckled, before sitting back, cheeks still feeling hot.
'Thanks….at least you know how to play now!'
'Aye, we do!' Kili grinned, before he stood up, shaking his head to get rid of the cards. 'I am off to bed- see you in the morning…..and no more card games!' he jokily admonished Bilbo, before he and his brother strode off, still chuckling along with the rest of the dwarves.
With a sudden realisation, Bilbo looked at the ground- he would have to pick all these cards up now….
He didn't mind a bit, however- he had built bridges, broken the ice, made friends, whatever they called it….
….maybe this journey wasn't going to be so bad after all.
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it!
The card games that Kili said the Dwarves played are actual international card games- I don't know their country of origin or the rules, so I just borrowed them for this tale ^^