Author's Note: So, this was written purely because I thought the line from the film where Thorin mentions getting lost in The Shire very amusing, but I wanted to try and do a bit of writing about the dwarves who aren't heirs of Durin. And I was bored.
"Shouldn't we have gotten there already?" asked Ori.
Nori groaned - they'd gone through this at least a dozen times since they had entered the Shire. He wasn't sure about Dori, but his patience was starting to wear a little thin.
"We're looking for a green door," he said "A green door with a mark on it. Look around, Ori. Not a green door in sight."
They'd reached a fork in the meandering dirt road that the three of them had followed thus far, and had stopped to confer with all due civility.
"You said you'd been here before!" said Dori, accusingly, giving the middle brother a dirty look.
"Yes, and I have been!" said Nori, raising his hands in a defensive gesture and beginning to sound decidedly peevish "I just didn't take time to memorize the colour of every door!"
"Maybe we missed it," suggested Ori, looking back over his shoulder at the darkened hills and the smattering of lights which marked each dwelling.
"We can't have," said Nori, with a good deal more confidence than he felt.
"Well, in any case, which way do we go?" Dori asked.
The three of them stood there, looking at the two diverging paths as if hoping that directions to the house of the mysterious burglar would scratch themselves into the dirt.
"I'm- I'm getting a little hungry," said Ori, timidly breaking the silence after a few minutes of fruitless fidgeting and thinking.
Well, at least that was something that Nori could help with. He rummaged in his pack and pulled out a bundle, wrapped up in a bit of leather. He unwrapped it to reveal several slightly squashed but still warm meat pies.
"Here you go, Ori," he said, holding out one of the pies to his younger brother.
"Where did you get those?" asked Dori, sounding more than a little suspicious.
"Oh, from that inn we passed a while ago," Nori said, vaguely, staring off into the distance as unconcernedly as he could manage, trying to give the impression that any suspicions that Dori might be harboring were ridiculous and ill-founded.
"But we didn't stop there."
"No," admitted Nori "But they happened to be sitting on the window ledge to cool when we were going by..."
"That's stealing," Dori hissed, trying to reprimand his brother while not actually raising his voice enough to disturb the inhabitants of the nearest hobbit-holes.
"No, it isn't. Not if the innkeeper leaves the food out where anybody could come across it."
Dori batted Ori's hand away from the meat pie that the younger dwarf had been reaching for.
"We're not having any if it's stolen, are we, Ori?"
"Well, I -" began Ori, looking rather longingly at the meat pie - they hadn't stopped for food for many hours "Well, I suppose not..."
"Oh, really-" Nori started to say, wanting to express his views on the subject of Ori being perfectly capable of making his own mind up, but then he stopped abruptly.
The left hand fork lead up to the top of the next rise, and suddenly the sound of muffled voices in conversation drifted down from that direction.
"Why didn't you tell me about that bush being there?" said the first voice, in an aggrieved sort of way.
The reply to this question was a serious of hacking growls which would have been unintelligible to anyone but those who happened to be listening.
As one, Nori, Ori, and Dori started off up the left hand path, the former still clutching his spurned meat pies.
"Well...fair enough," muttered the first voice again "Look, Bofur, stop laughing and help me up!"
The three brothers exchanged grins - that settled it. There was no mistaking that voice...
Soon the path levelled out again, and once more became lined with small gardens, wooden fences, and houses built into the hill with round doors (none of them green). Nori, who had taken the lead, almost tripped over the form of Bofur, who was leaning over a large hawthorne bush that grew by the side of the path. From the bush protruded a pair of wildly thrashing boots, which belonged, Nori realized, to Bombur. Bifur stood a little way off from his cousins, occupied in scraping what look like a good amount of cow excrement off the sole of his own boot.
"Hello, Bofur. I'd recognize that hat anywhere," Nori said, taking in the scene with interest, as behind him his two brothers exchanged greetings with Bofur's cousin "I heard that you and Bifur were coming - I didn't know about Bombur, though. What happened"
"Oh, hello," said Bofur, looking up and nodding to Nori in an amiable fashion "We tried cutting across that field. Bit of a mistake, really, and we didn't realize that they kept cows in there until we stepped in...what they'd left behind. And then we were climbing back over that fence, and Bombur lost his balance and fell straight into this bush."
It was an appealing image to contemplate, especially since Nori's own journey had been quite far from enjoyable.
"Would you like a meat pie?" he said.
"Maybe a bit later."
Nori sighed and stuffed his pies back into his pack.
"Do you need some help?" he asked, politely, after a few moments of watching Bofur doing his best to tug Bombur out of his rather unfortunate and definitely uncomfortable position.
"Well, if you wouldn't mind, of course.."
"Me? Mind? Perish the thought. Hey - Ori! Come help Bofur, will you?"
Ori obligingly grabbed Bombur's other arm and, bracing themselves against the nearest fence posts, he and Bofur managed to right the fallen dwarf, while Nori stood well back and watched their efforts with interest.
As Bombur was heaved to his feet, something slipped out of Bofur's pack and rolled across the ground until it bumped against Nori's foot.
"What's this?" he asked, picking it up and holding it out so that it was illuminated by the light of one of the lanterns that hung over the door of a nearby hobbit-hole.
"That's my flute," said the instrument's owner, plucking it from Nori's grasp "I thought we might need some music later. Did you bring your drum?"
Nori shifted from foot to foot a little guiltily - in a desperate moment several years earlier he had used his drum as firewood.
"You can't have lost it.'"
"Not exactly lost. More like...used for a different purpose."
"Do you know how long me and Bombur spent working on that drum? We don't make that kind of thing for everyone."
"Look," said Nori, wretchedly "I never was very good at keeping the beat, anyway. And we saw Kili and Fili on the road - they said they were bringing their fiddles."
"I don't think Thorin will have brought his harp, though," put in Ori.
"So," said Dori, helping to brush twigs off Bombur's shoulders and changing the subject "Are you three as lost as we are?"
"That depends," Bofur said "How lost are you?"
"Very lost, indeed," supplied Nori.
"Us too," Bombur said, picking a few more twigs out of his mustache.
Bifur nodded in agreement and growled something that Nori understood to mean that perhaps they should ask for directions.
"That's not such a bad idea," said Nori, nodding thoughtfully as he considered this option - one which hadn't actually occurred to him "Dori, can you...?"
Dori nodded, and walked up the small garden path that lead to the nearest round door - which, Nori noted, was painted blue - and knocked on it. Bifur and Bombur sat down on the garden bench, while the others settled for leaning against the fence.
After a few minutes, the door swung open to reveal a middle aged, female hobbit, who gave Dori what was probably a look of suspicion simply on principle.
"Yes, what is it?" she said, expression changed to one of shock as her gaze traveled from Dori to his companions.
They weren't exactly bristling with weapons, but there was a certain air of 'well-armed'-ness about them, and the hobbit's eyes widened.
Nori carefully stepped to the left, so that his mace was hidden by Ori, as beside him Bofur eased his mattock off his shoulder and hid it behind his back. All three gave the hobbit amiable, if slightly forced smiles.
"What do you want?" she asked, stepping back slightly as if prepared to run away if necessary.
"We're looking for a Mister..." Dori paused, trying to remember the name.
"Baggins," put in Bofur, helpfully 'Mister Baggins from Bag-End."
'Yes, him -"
"He's got a green door," Nori interrupted.
"Yes, thank you, Nori," said Dori, shooting his brother a glare over his shoulder before turning back to the now rather bemused hobbit "Could you maybe tell us where this Mister Baggins lives?"
"Yes, he lives -" the hobbit began, pointing to her left, before her eyes settled on Nori and narrowed "Aren't you - oh!"
With brief burst of quite impressive cursing, she ducked back into her house faster than Nori had believed possible and slammed the door shut - making Dori rock back slightly.
There was a long, uncomfortable pause.
"Very helpful," said Bofur, breaking the silence "I wonder if they're all like that around here..."
"Well, she looked like she was going to tell us to go this way," Dori said, gesturing in the direction indicated "Let's go."
They set off along the road, which wasn't broad enough to allow more than two of them to walk abreast. Nori fell in beside Ori, while Dori walked with Bifur and the other two dwarves brought up the rear.
"She looked like she recognized you," said Ori, as they walked.
"I told you," Nori said "I was here on...business."
"Sorry," called Bofur from behind them, who had clearly been listening "But was that 'business-business' or 'shifty-pause-business'?"
"Ha-ha. Very amusing."
This conversation could have dissolved into a rather heated debate, had not Bombur made a shh-ing noise and pointed up to the nearest hobbit hole the door of which, Nori noticed immediately, was painted a rather nice shade of green And he was not the only one to have seen this. Two more figures were standing outside the door; leaning over as if examining it.
Nori exchanged surprised glances with Ori as they let themselves in at the front gate. Yes, they had all agreed to meet at the burglar's house, but they seemed to be meeting most of the other dwarves on the road.
"Hello, Gloin. And Oin, too, I see."
"Oh - hello, Dori. Ori. Bombur. Bifur. Bofur. And Nori."
Greetings among fairly large parties of dwarves tended to take a while to complete...
"It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Aye, nearly ten years."
"It's good to see you again."
Nori looked at the door closely, for the first time, and saw that a rune had been scratched on it and furthermore the lines appeared to be glowing faintly.
"Do you think this is it, then?" he asked, gesturing to the door.
"Must be," said Bombur 'It's got a mark on it, and everything."
They all squinted at the aforementioned mark - all of them clustering together to fit on the front step.
"It looks like it's a 'k'," Dori noted, pushing past Bifur to get a better look "I wonder what it stands for..."
"No, see those two lines? That's a 'g'."
"But what can 'g' stand for, for that matter?"
"I don't know, but it's better than 'k'..."
"Shouldn't it be 'b'?" asked Ori "For 'burglar'?"
"Maybe we've come to the wrong house," Gloin said.
"How many hobbits scratch glowing signs on their front doors? This must be the right house."
"I still say it's a 'k'," said Dori, sticking to the basics.
"That, my dear dwarves" said a new voice from behind them "is clearly a 'g'."
There was a long silence, while all eight of the dwarves tried to pretend that they hadn't all jumped in surprise and made a few undignified and alarmed noises. Then, as one, they turned around.
"Oh...Mister Gandalf. What a surprise..."
And it was. And eventually after only a little more arguing, they did knock on the door and then, as you might say (well, the dwarves wouldn't say it, but someone else might), the rest is history.