Notes/Disclaimer: I have been very liberal with canon here, except oddly enough in geography. I made up the city where the dwarves are held, but everything else follows Tolkien's maps. I changed Bilbo to Frodo's actual uncle because I felt like it and I have, of course, completely mucked up the timeline. I make no apologies for Thranduil or Elrond.
Unbetaed so if there's any glaring mistakes, let me know. I own neither The Hobbit nor Finding Nemo. Thanks for reading!
Bilbo Baggins acknowledged, if only to himself, that he was overprotective of his nephew. But he really thought that no one could blame him. The world beyond the Shire was a dangerous place, and even within it was not always as safe as it seemed. His mother had died in the Fell Winter after all, and his father followed soon after. This had left Bilbo, who had just come of age, with care of his younger sister, Primula. He had relaxed a little after her marriage, but then she and Drogo drowned in the Brandywine. Now, all Bilbo had left by way of family was ten year old Frodo Baggins, and he was determined that nothing in this world would ever harm him.
But he trusted Arathorn, leader of the rangers. And so when Arathorn took all the little hobbits to the edge of the Shire on a trip to learn the wild herbs and plants, he let Frodo go after admonishing him to stay close to his friends: Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
And then once they had gone, he made himself small and unseen as only hobbits can do, and followed after them.
Which is why he was there when men came galloping past and snatched up Frodo, who had strayed much further than his uncle had told him to. They grabbed Sam, and Merry too, but a well thrown rock by Bilbo sent the man who had grabbed Sam tumbling right off his horse, and Arathorn felled the other who had Merry. But the one with Frodo had pulled ahead.
Bilbo didn't even hesitate before he was charging down the road after them.
Frodo had been in the sack for what felt like a very long time. Even when they camped, he had only been allowed out after they tied a rope to his leg. He'd had to do his business behind a bush in a dark, and scary forest, then they'd put him back into the sack. But now the sack was lowered on the ground and the strange voices of the big folk who had taken him were nowhere to be heard. With a great deal of hesitation, he found the mouth of the sack and poked his head out.
He was in a big cavern, like the Took Hall back home, only not as finished. Shiny points of smooth looking rock in colors of yellow, white, red, and purple reached for the ceiling and floor, though when Frodo limped over to see them (something in his leg hurt very badly), he saw they were planted in white sand and nailed onto the ceiling. A clear pool was to one side, and it looked like semi-precious stones like jasper, turquoise and pyrite had been used to line the bottom of it. Curious, Frodo reached into the pool to feel the stones.
"What are you doing?" demanded a voice behind him. Frodo startled and almost fell into the pool. "Those are mine!" A big hand grabbed his collar, and placed him very far from the pool. Frodo had the impression of a tall, hairy hobbit, but knew that couldn't be right.
"Don't mind Oin, little one," said another voice from the shadow of one of the rocks. Frodo awkwardly scrambled backwards. The owner of the voice took a step forward to reveal he was also tall, and with a beard, though it was the funny hat and the smile that stopped Frodo's backward crawl. "He thinks it's real gold and gems in there." The speaker hunched down so his face was level with Frodo's, though he was still far enough away that Frodo felt safe. "He's going a bit senile from being stuck here. What's your name, little one?"
"Frodo. Frodo Baggins."
"Well, Frodo, I am Bofur. At your service." He tipped the hat towards Frodo, and wriggled his nose in such a way that it made his moustache dance. Frodo smiled for a second, but then frowned. He didn't know where he was, or who or even what these people were, and really, he missed his uncle. A lot.
"Where am I?"
"You're in a dwarf cage, Frodo, but I'm thinking you're not a dwarf."
Frodo shook his head. "I'm a hobbit." He vaguely remembered there being mentions of dwarves in his uncle's books. It must have been the big folk who named them because they seemed very tall to him.
"A hobbit! I passed through the Shire a long time ago. Is that where you came from?"
"Yes," said Frodo. He bit his lip. His eyes were filling with tears. "I want to go home."
Bofur held out his hand. "Well, don't fret yet, little one. If you will let me introduce you to the others, perhaps we'll find you a way home." Frodo took the hand, but let out a cry when he was pulled to his feet. "Are you hurt?" asked Bofur. He quickly picked Frodo up, holding him sideways and peering at Frodo's legs and feet
Frodo nodded. Bofur turned and shouted into the dark, "Gloin!" After a moment, another dwarf loomed out of the darkness. His beard was huge and red. "What is it?" he asked gruffly, staring at Frodo who huddled closer to Bofur.
"If you could get Oin away from the pool, the little lad is injured and needs a healer," said Bofur. He turned and headed into the dark. "It'll be awhile before Gloin can get his attention," he explained as they walked. "So I shall be your transport." They headed into the dark, but it turned out to last only a short while since soon the pretty, pointed rocks gave away to bare walls, and a lot of dwarves gathered around a fire pit, sunk into the earth. There were a lot of dwarves around the fire, but Frodo's attention was drawn by the dwarf seated on a rock further away which was good since Bofur headed in that direction.
The dwarf had long black hair and a short beard. He leant against the rock behind him, absently running his hand over an ugly log that was lying in his lap. The dwarf studied them very closely as they approached, which made Frodo go still.
"Frodo Baggins, this is Thorin Oakenshield. The leader of our company," said Bofur.
Bilbo puffed furiously on his own pipe, resisting the urge to storm angrily away from the infuriating wizard who had inexplicably joined him on his hunt for his nephew. "Yes, you already said that, Gandalf." And Bilbo was sure he had said this several times a well. Just what was in that pipe Gandalf was smoking? It didn't smell like any pipe weed Bilbo had ever tried. "It's written in one of the men's languages. And we need someone to read it. So if we could just find someone to do so…"
Gandalf coughed a little, somehow hacking out a cloud of smoke that looked exactly like a rabbit. "What was that you were saying, my boy?"
Bilbo's pipe stem snapped and he jumped back to avoid the ash from the bowl. He muttered a curse before taking a deep breath to calm down. Getting angry with Gandalf did not work. "That you knew someone who could read the note in your hand?" he asked hopefully
Gandalf glanced at the note in his hand as if it were the first time he had ever seen it. "Oh, I see. Whatever am I doing with a request for a slave?"
"A what?!" It figured that Gandalf could read the paper when he put his mind to it, but it was the content that concerned Bilbo.
"Yes, this is a request for the delivery of at least one dwarven child to city of Gundar. I wonder where that is. It must be new. I've never heard of it."
Bilbo adjusted the pack he had bought in Bree. "We will ask until we find it."
Gandalf took a long pull on his pipe. "Yes, well, no sense wandering in circles. We could stop by Rivendell to ask for directions."
Bilbo nodded his consent and set out, but something made him pause. He turned to look at Gandalf. "Rivendell is where you got that strange pipe weed of yours, isn't it?"
Gandalf didn't answer, but this time the cloud of smoke Gandalf puffed out looked like a dragon.
Frodo didn't really understand why the dwarves were here. There were no slaves or zoos in the Shire and although they tried to explain the concept to him, he didn't understand how you could own another person or why anyone would want to keep someone or something in a cage just to look at it.
"But you're your own people," he protested. Balin, whose soft white beard was Frodo's favorite to sit against, chuckled.
"That we are, laddie. But the men about these parts have the hearts of orcs. We are different enough from them that they justify it by saying we are animals. They make us labor for them during the day, then they parade past those bars there in the evening." He nodded his head towards the bars that blocked off all but the very top of the cave. "Wanting to see dwarves in their natural habitat, though this false cave is nothing like a dwarven hall."
"You can't escape?" asked Frodo in a small voice.
"We have tried," said Thorin, who was seated next to them. He held out his arm for Frodo's inspection. The skin along it was melted lengthwise down his forearm. "This was from our first attempt. They have not let us work at the forge since, and the tools they give us are carefully blunted." Thorin pulled his sleeve down. "When your ankle heals, we may be able to make another attempt with your help."
Frodo nodded eagerly. He wanted to impress Thorin because Thorin had told him how brave he was not to cry out while Oin had examined and treated his tender, swollen ankle the day before.
"You're tiny, you see," said Fili. He and his brother reminded Frodo of Merry and Pippin. "That means you can get places that we cannot," chimed in Kili.
"They may have dwarf proofed this cave," said Nori, who along with Dori, Bwalin, Bombur, and Gloin had been trying to dig a hole out of the cave with no tools but their bare hands since long before Frodo arrived, "but they haven't hobbit proofed it." The hole they'd been digging was still not big enough for even Frodo to fit in it, but perhaps that was part of the plan? Frodo trusted Thorin to explain it when the time came.
"Okay," he said then turned to Balin. "Tell me again about Durin the Deathless?" And Balin complied.
Gandalf shook his head, trying to dislodge some of the twigs from his hair where they had gotten stuck during their escape. "I do believe those are the nicest trolls I have ever met."
"They tried to eat us, Gandalf," said Bilbo. One of the trolls had sneezed on him, and he wanted nothing more than to burn his clothes and take a long bath. He would have if Frodo's life weren't at stake.
"Ah, but first they welcomed us, and tried very hard not to eat us until their stomachs got the better of them. Bruce was quite friendly."
"They welcomed us so we could explain to them the best way to cook us!" shouted Bilbo. There was laid back, and then there was Gandalf the Grey.
Gandalf harrumphed. "Yes, well, these are some magnificent elvish swords we grabbed from their hoard. They will come in handy down the line, I imagine."
Bilbo was becoming a bit ashamed of his childhood fascination with elves, to tell the truth. Rivendell was as majestic as he had imagined, but its inhabitants were not living up to the proud and noble image Bilbo had formed from his readings. In point of fact, the elves were up in the trees making up and singing mocking ditties about how uptight Bilbo was. As if caring about his nephew being captured by slavers wasn't important!
Gandalf seemed inclined to shoot the breeze with Lord Elrond (who would be a tall, dignified elf if he would ever sit up straight) until the end of time. Elrond had told them the night before of the Men's city of Gundar in the Grey Mountains to the north of Mirkwood. It was an awful long way, and there was no way of catching up with the men who were on horses, but Bilbo was not going to let Frodo stay there a second longer than he had to.
"Lord Elrond, your hospitality has been magnificent, but we should really be on our way before we lose our daylight," he said. Gandalf and Elrond exchanged a look of long suffering which Bilbo primly ignored.
"Mr. Baggins, I shall give you a piece of advice that was given me long ago," said Elrond. "Chill out, dude."
"I shall take that under advisement," said Bilbo, though he had no intention of doing so. Gandalf stood up and went to grab his pack. Bilbo already had his, but he turned back towards Elrond, a thought occurring to him. "Lord Elrond, would you mind telling me your age? Frodo always wanted to know, but conversion between Shire years makes it difficult to calculate."
"Gladly. I am 6,440 years old. I've got several good centuries left in me."
Such a great age was awe inspiring. "That's amazing."
"Dude, what's totally amazing is that it took me so long to discover Gandalf's awesome pipe weed!"
Bilbo sighed. Yes, he was definitely ashamed of his childhood fascination with elves.
It was several days later, and Frodo's ankle was no longer swollen and tender. Oin pronounced him healed. Thorin took the news well when he and the other dwarves arrived back from the work the men made them do (they never took all of them at once so Frodo had spent the day with Ori, Oin, and Dori. Ori was teaching him how to braid.).
"Good. We will wait until the show is over," said Thorin. "I hope you can swim."
Frodo froze. "Swim?" The truth was he could, but he hadn't been in any water since his parent's drowned. They had been able to swim too, but the current in the Brandywine River was so strong…
"You all right there?" asked Bofur, settling his hand on top of Frodo's head. It was only then Frodo realized he was trembling and swaying. Frodo clutched at Bofur's tunic to steady himself. He looked at Thorin who was watching him expectantly. Frodo wasn't going to let Thorin down.
"I can swim," he said.
"Good," said Thorin. "We've managed to shape out a proper sized rock. It needs to be wedged deep inside the drainage pipe to the pool. Once it does, the cave will fill with water and flood the rooms outside. They will have to let us all out of here at once if they don't want us to drown, and then we can escape." Frodo nodded his understanding, then went to find Gloin, who despite being very loud, gave excellent hugs. Gloin hugged him tight while the men and their women paraded by the bars of the caves to see the dwarves. They always laughed at Bifur who talked in the dwarven language to the walls as if he expected them to answer back.
But all too soon, it was over, and Frodo was standing at the edge of the pool. Bombur was off keeping Oin distracted, but everyone else was there. He took off his outer coat, then stepped into the cool water. Fili handed him the special rock, and Frodo struggled to hold it with both his hands. He'd have to push it along the bottom of the pipe because there was no way he could swim with it. He walked as deep as he could without his head going underwater – luckily, the pool was shallow except for the area with the drainage pipe. He took some deep breathes, then took a few more trying not to panic.
"You can do it, laddie," said Balin encouragingly.
"Yeah, we won't let you drown," said Bofur. Frodo could hear someone smack him upside the head. "Ow."
Frodo was so terrified, but if he didn't go now, he was never going to go. He tossed the rock as close to the drain as possible, then followed it under. The pool was clear and the drainage pipe went underground at a gentle angle. There was light at the far end of it too, which meant it wasn't that long. He pushed the rock ahead of him, and its weight was easier now that it was underwater. The sides of the pipe got narrower so he gave the round stone one last push, only the walls weren't as smooth as they seemed, and two of the fingers on his right hand got wedged in with the rock. He tried to jerk them out, losing his air as he gasped in pain. It didn't work. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and yanked, tearing his fingers out of where they were wedged and dragging him back into the cave and the air.
He took deep, shuddering breaths as he leant against the chest of his rescuer. "I can't," he said. "I can't." He just kept repeating it over and over because maybe if he repeated it often enough, it would be true.
"Can't what, Frodo?" And Frodo looked up and realized his rescuer had been Thorin. It was Thorin's blue tunic that Frodo was getting all snotty.
"Can't drown like Ma and Da," answered Frodo.
Thorin went really stiff. "Your parents drowned?"
Frodo nodded. "That's why I live with my uncle."
Bofur whistled. "Yet you went in that pool anyway? Hobbits are made of sterner stuff than I imagined." He gently pulled Frodo's injured hand away from Thorin's chest for a moment to wind a cloth around the bruised and scrapped fingers.
"You have shown more courage today than many a dwarf. I am sorry to have put you through it," said Thorin. "It is poor repayment that I cannot even offer you escape in return."
"What!" said Frodo, and it was echoed by Fili and Kili. Thorin nodded his head to the pool which they were still standing beside. "The water level has hardly risen. The rock is not plugging it well enough for our plan to work." It seemed like the whole company heaved a great sigh.
"Our plans never work!" cried Ori in frustration.
Thorin sighed. "We should look for a way out for Frodo when his uncle arrives. One which doesn't involve the pool."
"Do you really think he'll come?" Frodo was doubtful. He knew Uncle Bilbo loved him, but uncle hated adventures and worried so much about all the dangers inside and outside the Shire, it was hard to imagine him venturing beyond the borders, especially since Frodo had disobeyed him by getting so far away from Arathorn and his friends. He shouldn't have taken the dare to touch the rock shaped like a boat.
Thorin hugged him close. "If your uncle is anything like you, then I doubt there is anything on Middle-earth that can stop him from getting here."
Lost far beneath the Misty Mountains, having been chased by goblins, and with Gandalf nowhere to be found, Bilbo Baggins silently went through the litany of Elvish curse words he had learnt in Rivendell. Ahead of him were two glowing yellow eyes – the only light now that his sword had stopped glowing – and the echoing sounds of the creature's hacking cough of 'gollum, gollum, gollum."
Their next escape attempt was to make the cage very dirty. Frodo delighted in smearing mud over everything in sight, though if he were honest, Kili seemed to enjoy it even more. However, one evening the big folk simply drugged their food, and when they woke up, the cave was clean again.
"Gandalf, you may speak a number of languages, but that is a giant bear. You do not speak bear!" said Bilbo, devoutly hoping that the bear would turn and go away. And after a second of vigorous head shaking which Gandalf seemed to mimic, it did.
"Come, Bilbo, we must follow him." Gandalf strode off and after a long moment, Bilbo followed cautiously behind so that if the bear did decide to eat them, it would go for Gandalf first.
The bear led them north, along the edges of Mirkwood, since the men's city of Gundar was in the Grey Mountains above it. However, the bear disappeared one day. Gandalf said they were out of his territory, but at least they'd been left with honey cakes and dried fruit as supplies. So they travelled onwards, always with the Mirkwood uneasily on their right. Bilbo wanted to travel through it because going north then east was going to add days to their journey, but he conceded to Gandalf and the bear's warning about entering the forest.
Unfortunately, the forest came to them. One night while they were sleeping, spiders crept out, stinging them before dragging them deep into the woods. Bilbo learnt of this later, since it was Gandalf who awakened first. His use of magic and sword to defeat the spiders drew the elves to their aid. And so it was that Bilbo woke up two days later in the palace of the elven king.
Or, as Bilbo was about to learn, the elven party king.
There was something wrong. The dwarves kept hiding Frodo from the big folk's sight. He liked hugging Gloin, but being hugged for hours with Gloin's back facing the front of their cave was a bit much. And if it wasn't Gloin, it was Fili, or Bofur, or Bombur. One evening even Dwalin took a turn, though he didn't so much as hug as hold Frodo as lightly as possible, like he was worried Frodo would break.
After a lot of deliberation, it was Balin he approached because Balin always explained things in small words so Frodo would understand. "What's wrong with me?" he asked Balin.
"Nothing's wrong with you, laddie. It's just…" Balin trailed off to look at Thorin, who was nodding when Frodo turned to look. "One of the noble's wives has been eyeing you. Nori overheard her telling her friends that she wanted you as a pet. We're worried she'll get her way so we've been trying to keep you out of sight."
Frodo shuddered at the thought of some big lady coming to take him away. "I can hide behind the rocks," he offered.
Balin pulled him closer. "Yer a brave lad, but we wouldn't ask you to hide alone."
That night, Frodo made his decision.
Bilbo didn't know what to be more thankful for – the fact that news of his quest for Frodo had apparently spread across Middle-earth or the fact that he now had a ring that made him invisible. The ring had allowed him to steal the keys to the cage where his nephew was trapped, and the popularity of his quest had gotten him his current escort. Prince Legolas was the greatest archer in Middle-earth and he had picked Bilbo up and run like the wind to the city of Gundar, thus making up for the three days he had been stuck 'partying' with King Thranduil. His only complaint was that Legolas was still wearing his party hat, though at least he had forgone the strange shades with lines across them that his father seemed so fond of.
Legolas was guarding one entrance to the cave, while Gandalf guarded the other. Bilbo had volunteered to open the cage, wanting to see Frodo as soon as possible. The cave was dim, it being the middle of the night, so he wasn't very concerned when he didn't see Frodo in amongst the dwarves who were all huddled around a dying fire at the back of the cave. The whine of the poorly oiled hinges of the cage door sent the dwarves scrambling. They rushed towards him so quickly that Bilbo instinctively drew his sword.
"Where's Frodo?" he asked.
One of the dwarves stepped forward. His bearing and the way the others gave way to him marking him as their leader. "You must be Frodo's uncle. I told him you would come."
"Of course, I came! But never mind that. Where is he?"
Now some of the dwarves were looking sheepish, or possibly sorrowful. Bilbo was beginning to feel a little faint. If anything had happened to Frodo…
"He's all right as far as we can tell," said a dwarf in a funny hat.
"As far as you can tell?!" Some of the dwarves took a step back, though their leader stood his ground.
"One of the women was trying to buy Frodo. We were hiding him, but it was only a matter of time until she got her way," said a dwarf with grey hair done up in intricate braids. "We're terribly sorry we couldn't keep him safe, Mr. Baggins."
"Then he's…" Bilbo let the tip of his sword hit the ground.
"Oh, he escaped," said the dwarf in the strange hat again. He looked quite cheerful. "The little one must have cleared out the rock from the drainage tunnel, then dove back down and got out that way. No body floated back up, so I'm sure he's fine."
"You're sure? You're sure?" The sword was up and pointing directly in the dwarf's face.
Their leader laid his hand on Bilbo's fist, gently pushing the sword down. "Mr. Baggins, I am Thorin Oakenshield and this is my company. If we had not already owed Frodo a debt, we would still owe you one for freeing us from our captivity. None of us are leaving until we find Frodo. You have my word."
"Yeah!" cheered two of the younger looking dwarves.
"Only, could we leave the cage?" asked another young looking one in a tattered cardigan.
Frodo was beginning to doubt his great plan. The drainage pipe had gotten him out of the cave, but it had drained into some sort of well room. He had fled from there, but now he had to hide in dark corners terrified whenever the big folk got anywhere near him. It had been a long time since he last slept.
"Let's have a bit more light," muttered a voice from the corridor outside. Frodo shrank back, but he must have been seen because the enormous man in grey spoke, "Mr. Baggins. I am Gandalf the Grey, a friend of your uncle's. If you follow me, I can lead you to him."
"How do I know you're not one of them?" asked Frodo, meaning the Big Folk.
"My dear boy, I am a wizard. Do you think men have glowing staffs of power?" Gandalf gestured with the staff. Frodo decided he was probably telling the truth. The wizard didn't wait for him to follow, but strode back out into the corridor so Frodo had to run to catch up with him. He took refuge behind Gandalf's robes though when he saw another tall person.
The tall, blond spotted him anyway, but as he cocked his head to look, his hair slipped to reveal he had pointed ears. He was an elf! Though the flower covered hat he wore was a little odd. The elf looked down at the floor and grinned. "You are definitely a hobbit child. I'd recognize those feet anywhere. I am Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, and I have accompanied your uncle and Gandalf to rescue you. Only you have rescued yourself."
Frodo just nodded, feeling a little shy. But then Uncle Bilbo rushed around the corner with all the dwarves at his heels. Frodo ran, throwing himself into his uncle's arms.
"I'm sorry I went beyond the edge of the Shire! Merry dared me to touch the boat rock!" wailed Frodo. Tears were streaming down his face. "You were right. It was dangerous."
"Ah well, I have learnt on this journey that sometimes the danger is worth it. I am sorry you had to escape on your own, my boy. I travelled as fast as I could."
Frodo sniffed. "Are we that far from the Shire?"
"Why, it is at least a month's journey back. I have nearly been eaten by trolls, fought goblins, encountered talking bears, been stung by spiders, and met far too many elves. No offense meant, Legolas."
"None taken, dude," said the elf cheerfully. "But we should get moving. I can hear the men stirring above us."
"Wait!" said Gandalf. "There is something I am forgetting."
"Only one thing?" muttered his uncle. Gandalf was staring at the dwarves who were all fidgeting impatiently except for Bifur, who came over to Frodo and Uncle Bilbo and gave them a big hug, much to Uncle's shock.
"Ah, yes," said Gandalf finally. "I have your father's key and map, Thorin. I do believe I forgot to give them to you before you left on your journey."
Thorin said a lot of words in the dwarven language then, but snatched the key and map out of Gandalf's hand.
"Can we escape now?" whined Kili.
That got the whole group of them in motion. Between Legolas' ears and Bilbo scouting ahead with the ring, they were able to make it out of the citadel which had housed the dwarf cage. They encountered the city guard on their way out of the city itself, but since the dwarves had managed to find the armory while they were searching for Frodo, they made short work of them. Then they had to run through the night. Or so Frodo was told. He was tied securely onto Dwalin's back and slept the whole way.
Apparently, it was only when they reached the gates of the Mirkwood palace that it finally occurred to any of the dwarves that they had run from one enemy right into the arms of another. Bilbo charitably attributed their slow uptake to being imprisoned for so long.
"We will not be welcome here," said Thorin. The expression of distaste he was giving the beautifully wrought palace gates made it clear the feeling was mutual.
"Twenty years ago he'd have thrown you in the dungeons," said Legolas cheerfully. "But he's changed since then. He hasn't turned away a visitor since."
"This is the same Thranduil who stood by while Erebor was destroyed by Smaug. He hates dwarves more than any other," said Thorin.
"He's learnt to forgive." Legolas saw their doubtful looks. "Truly. 'Live and let live' is my father's new motto," said Legolas. "He'll welcome you with a party, I guarantee it."
"That's because he welcomes everybody with a party," pointed out Bilbo. It was the reason why he'd had so much trouble getting away and finding Frodo. "And I'm fairly sure his new attitude is related to this special pipe weed he is now smoking."
"It's a magnificent blend, Bilbo," said Gandalf.
"If it's such a magnificent blend, why don't you use it to get rid of the dragon, or tame the goblins?" Bilbo was practically shouting near the end of his question. He was exhausted from all that had happened over the past day and night.
"That is an awesome idea," said a voice far above them. Standing at the gate and surrounded by his guard was Thranduil in his leaf and flower studded crown, robes woven with silver thread, and the strange stripped glasses he seemingly wore all the time. "Everyone is welcome to the Mirkwood Palace. We shall hold a feast in honor of the freeing of Frodo Baggins and his dwarven friends. And at some point we should discuss Mr. Baggins most excellent idea."
One of the elven guards behind Thranduil gave Bilbo thumbs up and whispered, "Duuude!"
Bilbo sighed and bid farewell to his childhood imaginings of the majestic and noble elves.
And so it was that after a lot of discussion on delivery mechanisms, treasure distribution, and payloads, Smaug the Terrible was first inundated with 'special' pipe weed, then lured, with the judicious use of wagons of gold, to the city of Gundar (who had built up a respectable pile of gold from the slave trade). Bilbo was named elf friend, much to his despair. And not to be outdone, the dwarves named Frodo a Prince of Erebor, and Bilbo a dwarf friend (though Bilbo was fairly certain they made the term up).
After a month filled with partying, cleaning up after a dragon, more partying, and figuring out how to distribute a tremendous amount of gold so it didn't lure anymore drakes down from the north, the dwarves returned to Erebor. The elves returned to Mirkwood. The men returned to Dale. And Bilbo and Frodo returned to the Shire.
They were accompanied part of the way there by the elves who, with giant bellows, were going to attempt to smoke out the goblins of the Misty Mountains. They travelled the road to Rivendell with only Gandalf for company. At Rivendell, they were encouraged to rest as long as they wished and to take as much pipe weed with them as they could carry. It was surprisingly useful when they encountered the three trolls again. The pipe weed stopped their cravings for eating people, turning them into avowed vegetarians, much to Gandalf's delight.
And then they were home.