A/N: Hey guys! So this is my first fan fiction, I have written some in the past but never finished or uploaded them on a website. Please let me know what you guys think and I hope you enjoy it. I am basing this story more on the movie than the book but I will be including things from the book as well. I do not own any of the characters except for Annora, all other characters belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
The night air was crisp and sweet, soft laughs drifted with the breeze and all was calm in Hobbiton. The valley glowed with lamplight and Annora smiled to herself as she urged her pony, Tuff, onward toward her cousin's home. The young woman had not seen her cousin in many years and missed the warm, curly haired hobbit. She recalled the times, when they were small children; when they would run about the woods looking for elves and grand adventures. Her parents would travel to her Uncle and Aunts home often during her childhood and all visits were wonderful.
But as much as she had missed her cousin over the last few years, he was not the reason she soon found herself standing at his green door with a letter clutched in her hand. A few days previous she had received the letter and was surprised, most pleasantly mind you, to find that Gandalf the Grey had sent it. Now the contents of the letter surprised and shocked Annora even more. The message was short and to the point with little explanation. All she knew was that Gandalf wished for her to journey to her cousin's house to meet with him and a company of companions to partake in an adventure. She had been hesitant at first. Much like her cousin and almost every hobbit in history, she had never ventured away from the Shire, even though she had dreamed of it often. Dreaming and doing were two very different things however and the thought of leaving her comfortable home left her feeling queasy. In the end she convinced herself to travel to her cousins home and listen to what Gandalf had to say.
Annora could hear deep muffled laughter inside the hobbit hole in front of her, the commotion clearly created by the companions mentioned in Gandalf's letter. She took a deep breath and knocked on the green door. Silence immediately followed her knock and she held her breath as her heart rate increased. She was incredibly nervous, what kind of quest would this be, would Bilbo recognize her, Gandalf clearly would wouldn't he? The door opened with a creek and a dark figure stood on the other side.
Before her was a sight she had not seen in many years. "Annora my dear, do come in", beckoned Gandalf with a smile on his face. "I am pleased you could make it"
Annora stepped into the hobbit hole and turned to peer up at the wizard with a huge grin on her face. "It has been far too long Gandalf". She couldn't help but wrap her arms around the old wizards waist in a loving hug.
Gandalf chuckled at the happiness she expressed as he gave her a small squeeze back. "Yes it has been many years my friend".
While the two were greeting one another, Annora's cousin had walked to the entrance of his home unnoticed by the two. "Annora is that you?"
She spun around to look at the person who had just addressed her and the grin on her face widened even more. "Bilbo! Oh how I've missed you cousin!" she cried, enveloping the hobbit in a crushing hug. She couldn't help the small sob and wetness that welled up in her eyes at the sight of her cousin. She really had missed him.
"I have missed you too cousin" came his muffled reply from her shoulder. Annora finally released Bilbo from her crushing hug and took a step back to look at the Hobbit before her. He still had his curly light brown hair and warm hazel eyes, just as she remembered him from her childhood.
"You…have grown Annora" Bilbo commented as he took her in. The girl he remembered had always been a head shorter than him with chocolate hair that fell in subtle waves framing her face, a face that held stormy grey eyes. While her hair and eyes had stayed the same, her height definitely had not; she stood much taller than himself, close to the height of a dwarf, perhaps a bit taller if he were to guess. Looking up at his younger cousin would take some getting used to.
Annora never got to reply to Bilbo's comment as the other occupants of the hobbit hole had abandoned their seats to come closer to observe the interactions between the newcomer, Bilbo and Gandalf, and her attention averted to them. To her surprise every single one was a dwarf, and were of all different shapes and sizes.
Her eyes scanned over each one quickly taking in each of them. She had never met a dwarf in her life and she certainly had never seen so many beards! Hobbit men did not grow beards; well really they couldn't grow beards. But oh my did these men have beards; short, long, small, large, twisted, twirled and even braided, all in an assortment of colors.
"Ah, allow me to introduce to you Balin, Dwalin, Fili and Kili" The last two dwarves, both on the younger side of things, winked at her as Gandalf introduced them. "Oin, Gloin, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur and finally, the leader of our company Thorin Oakenshield." Annora smiled at each dwarf as they were introduced and settled on Thorin, who was starring at her with an expression that she could only think of as displeased. The look he was giving her certainly did not help her nervous state. "Everyone, this is Annora Took. She will be accompanying us on our journey."
Annora's smile disappeared at that last comment and she turned to look at Gandalf. "Wait, you still haven't told me what this journey of yours is all about. I want to hear about what I'm getting myself into before I agree to go" Her hands were on her hips as she scowled at Gandalf, he didn't really think she would go along without answering her questions first did he?
At this Thorin stepped forward, "Gandalf she is not coming with us, I will not allow it, and is there anyone you haven't told about our business?!" The dwarf was clearly angry with the wizard, who merely stared at him with a raised brow.
"She is coming with us whether you like it or not Thorin Oakenshield son of Thrain. There will be no discussion on the matter". Gandalf grumbled as he turned and walked away from the group to sit back down at Bilbo's table.
Annora frowned as Thorin strode past her following in Gandalf's steps. She couldn't understand how someone she had just met could look at her with such disdain and was so set against her accompanying the group in their journey. The dwarf's clear dislike of the idea was the final push Annora needed to make her decision. She would be joining this group in their journey and she would prove to Thorin and any of the others who doubted her that she would be helpful. No one was going to regret having her with them.
A warm hand settled itself on her shoulder and her gaze moved from the hallway Thorin had disappeared down, to the kind face of the dwarf Kili. He had a warm face full of mischief, long tangled warm brown hair, dark eyes and short facial hair. What struck Annora the most about Kili was his face structure, very much like Thorin, Kili was one of the few dwarves that didn't have the face of a dwarf. If it weren't for his height, Annora would have pegged him as a human man.
"Do not worry about what my uncle said, he is stubborn and it takes a lot to impress him but he will warm up to you eventually", grinned Kili. She smiled back at him, she felt slightly reassured and the knowledge that Kili seemed to have faith in her helped. At least someone didn't mind the idea of her joining the group.
"You do not agree with him? You do not mind if I join in this adventure?" she asked.
Kili laughed at that, "Of course not! We will be traveling for a long time and having someone intelligent to talk to who doesn't stink would be a great reprieve." Protests and mutterings erupted from that last comment; many shouts from the dwarves around them consisted of defenses of their intelligence and hygiene. "Besides there will be someone pretty to look at" Kili winked as he gave her shoulder a final squeeze and walked off towards the kitchen. Annora laughed at his statement and followed him to the dining room, the rest of the dwarves and Bilbo following after her.
They all took a seat at the table, where Gandalf and Thorin were deep in discussion, except for Bilbo who hovered just outside the room. Annora sat herself between Kili and Fili and glanced down to the other end of the table at Thorin and Gandalf.
In front of the two lay an old map. "I don't see that this will help us much," said Thorin disappointed after a glance at the map. "I remember the mountain well enough and the lands about it."
"There is one point that you have overlooked and that is the secret entrance. You see the runes there," Gandalf pointed them out. "That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls".
"Perfect, there is another way in," grinned Kili. "But how are we to open it without a key?" murmured Balin, the old dwarfs face was a mask of contemplation.
"That wont be a problem master Balin," Gandalf then reached into his cloak pulling out a dark key, holding it up for Thorin to see. "This was entrusted to me by your father so that one day you should have it". With large eyes Thorin reached out and gently took the key from the wizard. He looked pleased about the object that had just been handed to him; he held the key up and was looking at it intently.
"The real problem is finding it's exact location. These kinds of doors are almost impossible to find, even to their creators", Gandalf reminded the eager dwarves.
"I'm sure we will find it. These runes must say something about its location. Can any of you read them?" Annora asked without moving her eyes from the map. Everyone around the table went silent at her question and she laid curious eyes on Gandalf.
"Unfortunately my dear, we do not, but there are still a few in this world who do," he answered Annora then turned his attention to Thorin. "At the very least with that key we now have a way through the back door of Erebor and to your foe Smaug."
This last comment reached Bilbo's ears and fully gained his attention, "Smaug?"
"Aye Smaug, a flying, fire breathing lizard, razor sharp teeth and claws like meat hooks. Smaug who destroyed Erebor and now lives buried deep inside with his mounds of stolen gold to keep him company. A fire-drake", replied Bofur.
"Yes I know what a dragon is", Bilbo sniffed in impatience.
Annora looked to her cousin, all the unexpected guests in his home truly distressed him, not to mention all the food the dwarves had consumed. She had noticed the empty pantry on the way to the dining room. Hobbits love food and having an empty pantry would distress every hobbit in the Shire.
Thorin turned in his seat to look at Bilbo. "So this is our burglar?" Doubt rang in his voice and disbelief was evident on his face.
"He looks more like a grocer than a burglar," laughed Gloin. That comment was all it took for within minutes the room erupted into opinions and arguments about Bilbo's status as their burglar until it had become quite harsh on ones ears. Bilbo and Annora could only observe the chaos helplessly as the arguing continued.
Darkness started to consume the room and the wizards voice boomed loud and deep, "If I say he is a burglar, a burglar he is".
Annora couldn't help but smile at this, Gandalf sure knew how to gain a groups attention, and the idea of her cousin as a burglar forced a larger smile to spread across her face. She trusted Gandalf's decision of choosing Bilbo; the boy from her childhood was very courageous and adventurous. She had no doubt that those traits would again surface in the hobbit. She had more faith in him than he had in himself.
"Balin give both of them their contracts", instructed Thorin, clearly defeated in any say about Bilbo and Annora joining the company.
Did that dwarf ever have anything other than a serious expression on his face? Annora wondered as she took the papers that were handed to her. They were all quiet as the cousins read through the contract.
"…Incineration?" Bilbo squeaked, turning a worried look towards the dwarves.
"Aye, melt the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye." Bofur informed Bilbo. "A quick burst of light, a second of searing pain then you're nothing but a pile of ash", he added as he twirled his curly mustache around his finger.
Bilbo bent over with his hands on his knees and started to breath heavily. He had paled considerably and started pacing back and forth. "Nope." He dropped to the floor like a rock.
"Bilbo!" Annora jumped up from her chair and attempted to get to her cousins side but there was little space for her to pass the others in the crammed room. So she did the only thing she could. She climbed onto the table, much to everyone's surprise and ran across it, leaping over Thorin's shoulder to land safely on the ground behind him. She quickly bent down next to Bilbo and placed her hands on his face, checking him over. "Bilbo? Come on cousin wake up." She gently rapped her hand against his pale cheek trying to rouse him from his fainting spell.
"Well she sure is a lively one isn't she?" Balin chuckled.
"Ah that she is. Annora has always cared greatly for her older cousin; she has a good heart and would protect all those she cares for with everything she has. That's why I asked her to accompany us; in her own way she will be a great asset to our journey", Gandalf said warmly. He stood up from his seat and walked over to Annora's crouched form. "Annora he will wake up soon enough, no need to worry".
She glanced up at the wizard, "Yes you are right Gandalf, I'm sorry", she sighed as she stood up and ran her fingers through her hair. "Could we move him somewhere more comfortable than the floor?"
A little while later with the help of Fili and Kili, Annora had Bilbo moved into an armchair in his living room. She gazed at his unconscious form and frowned, would he agree to come? She really hoped he would, having him along would help her get comfortable with the rest of the men, besides they both had dreamed about going on adventures together. It wouldn't be the same without him.
"He will need some hot tea when he wakes up", she whispered to no one in particular. Turning on her heel she headed straight for the hearth to put on the kettle. As she waited for the water to boil she walked back to the dining room where she had abandoned her contract in her hurry to reach poor Bilbo. She knew in her heart that she would go even if her older cousin did not. Without any more thought to Bilbo she snatched a quill from his study and signed the contract.
"So you will be joining us then Mistress Took", came a voice behind her.
She jumped slightly startled by the voice and turned her head to see the owner of the voice standing there. It was Thorin with his arms crossed against his chest and he did not look happy about her decision. She turned to him fully and mimicked his stance, breaking his hard stare only to fully take him in.
She hadn't truly looked at him before; there hadn't been a chance before with everything that had gone on. She now noticed the few streaks of grey in his long dark tangles of wild hair and he did not have a long beard as the others did, his was short and speckled with grey. He had a fairly normal human looking nose, unlike most of his kin, which sat between the blue eyes that stared back at her. He wore a dark blue tunic underneath a long fur and leather coat, fur boots graced his feet and all his armor was silver, as was his belt that was carved with intricate designs. He stood a few inches taller than her and as far as she could tell, was rather tall for a dwarf.
Annora shifted uncomfortably when the dwarf said nothing more and continued to stare at her. "You do not agree with Gandalf's decision to include me in this journey of yours" It was not a question; Annora knew perfectly well that he did not want her along, he had made that clear the moment Gandalf introduced her earlier that night.
"I do not believe a woman has a place in this journey, especially a hobbit woman who has never left the safety of her home. You will just be another burden to myself and my men", he replied evenly never looking away from her.
That bit at Annora's pride and the woman lifted her chin defiantly and scowled at the dwarf prince. "Gandalf and even Kili have faith in me and believe I can do this. My cousin would not be a burden and it is a mistake to underestimate him. And you", she poked a slender finger into his chest. "Know nothing of me and what I am capable of, do not think you know me because I am a mere woman!" She stalked past him in a wave of fury towards the hearth in the next room and the kettle that was now singing. "And I am not a hobbit!" she called over her shoulder.
Now that left Thorin Oakenshield surprised and perplexed. Did she not realize that he was a very important dwarf! Never had a woman talked to him in such a fashion and did she really poke him in the chest? And what did she mean not a hobbit? He shook his head trying to shake away the confused thoughts and stalked back to the living room where the others had settled.
Annora fumed silently as she prepared the tea. That stubborn, self-important, cold, hardened dwarf! What gave him the right to judge her when he had barely had a conversation with her? He did not know that she not only owned a bow but also was skilled at using it and while she wore a gown now, she certainly would not once they set off. She could help hunt for food if needed, could prepare and cook any animal they managed to bring down and help defend the group. She was not useless or defenseless; she would not be a burden.
Pouring the tea into two teacups, she took a deep breath to calm herself and carried the steaming cups on a small tray into the living room.
And there we have it, chapter one! I will upload as often as possible but with school starting up again I do not have as much time as I would like to write. Encouragement from you guys will help me out a great deal to stay motivated.