Rose Spinner was the eldest of four children belonging to Posco and Marigold Spinner, the proud owners of one of the best pubs in the Shire; The Bear's Ball. It didn't have the best name, but it had belonged to Rose's great-great-great grandfather and Posco didn't have the heart to change it.
Rose was a small hobbit, standing tall at 4"9. She had inherited her thick, white-blonde hair from her father, her curved figure from her mother and her dark brown eyes were similar to her Grandma Pepper's. She worked evenings in the pub and spent the day patching up her younger brother's clothes. Once a month she'd take the evening off and was sent over to The Prancing Pony to pick up deliveries. She didn't like making the journey as some of the people she met along the way weren't the nicest of folk. They were men, drunk from their gambling and night out. Fortunately her cousin Finnie made the trip with her. Finnie was 50, six years older than Rose, and acted a lot like a body guard when Rose had to visit Bree. It was a half-day's journey both ways and the two hobbits always arrived late evening, the worst time in Rose's opinion.
It was no exception one later summer evening in May. They had loaded up their cart in the courtyard outside the Prancing Pony and Finnie had taken the reigns, leading them back down the country lane. The two were talking quietly to each other, focused on the road ahead and not the road behind. The owner of the Prancing Pony had told them about thirteen dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard which had been by not an hour before in search of some provisions.
If Finnie and Rose had been looking behind then they would have noticed the three men following them. However the drunkards were upon them before either could see them coming. "Get off me!" Rose cried, batting away a pair of hands. Other set grabbed at her, pulling her from the horse. "Let me go!" her vision was filled with a man's blue waistcoat. The smell of whisky flooded her senses, making her gag. The man had not been sober in a long time.
"Let us go you flea-ridden maggots!"
"Maggots?" the man holding Rose laughed. "'ere, David, you 'ear that? The best they got is 'maggot'!"
Hobbits were usually peaceful creatures and had no need for insults. 'flea-ridden maggots' had been the best thing Finnie could think of. "She's got a sharp tongue, though!" another chortled. "Could be put to good use, I suppose."
"I reckon Mistress Maude would get 'least five pennies an hour from this one." A third said. "What 'bout yours, Bryn?"
"I recons three and hour." Rose realised what they were discussing and began to struggle again.
"Three? She ain't worth that!" David laughed.
"She's strong!" Bryn objected.
"And she's got a pretty fa- OW!" the third man let out a howl as Finnie sunk her teeth into his hand.
"Run!" Finnie cried, pushing between the men and dragging Rose from the path. "Run!" Rose hooked her skirt up over her knee and took off through the grass.
"Look here, boys! We got ourselves a chase!" Bryn of the drunks called, laughing harshly.
"Aye! I call the red one!" the unnamed man laughed. Rose picked up speed, stumbling after her cousin.
"The dwarves!" Finnie muttered, pulling Rose behind a tree. "If you're lucky, they won't be farther than Chetwood. Get to them and stay with them until daylight."
"What about you? Finnie, I'm not leaving you!"
The other hobbit laughed. "I'll be fine, I've dealt with this sort of thing before. Be as fast as you can and don't stop for anything. Good luck!" Finnie squeezed Rose's hand reassuringly before darting from the tree. She caught the attention of the three men before hurtling off in the opposite direction to the way Rose was going. Rose herself counted to ten before running towards Chetwood. She didn't dare look back but the voices of the men were fading. Finnie's taunts still cut through the night, leading them back towards Bree.
Rose made it into the woods a few minutes later, panting and with a tight chest. She wasn't used to running and doing so in long grass and a skirt didn't make it any easier. "Right. Now, which way?" The path was a few feet to her right so she decided to make for that.
She didn't get very far and let out a terrified scream as something grabbed her around the waist, fingers tearing small holes in the waist of her shirt. "Fast little bitch, aren't you?" it was Bryn. "Still, the pretty ones are always worth the chase. Maybe Mistress Maude will give me you as a prize."
"Help! Somebody, help me!" Rose doubted that anyone would hear her. The dwarves were probably long gone and there would be no one else around to hear her.
"No use in screaming." The man smirked, tugging Rose towards him and turning her so he could look at her face. "No one's gonna hear you no-ah!" he let out a pained scream, releasing Rose and stumbling backwards as an arrow embedded itself in his shoulder.
A second person grabbed Rose and she tried to struggle free. "Get off me!"
"Watch it, lass!" her captor released her instantly. "I'm only trying to help ye!" Rose spun to find herself face to face with a dwarf wearing a funny hat. Another dwarf, one with a bow, appeared at her side. He readied another arrow in his bow and raised it. He never fired it as the drunk ran off cursing into the woods. The two dwarves were then joined by eleven other dwarves, another hobbit and a wizard.
Rose didn't recognise the wizard but he seemed to recognise her. "I do hope your father didn't send you to Bree by yourself, Miss Spinner!"
"No, sir, he didn't." Rose eyed him wearily. "It's why only one of the three men was chasing me."
"Who else was with you?" the wizard questioned. "Come now, Miss Spinner, you can trust me."
"Forgive me, sir, but I do not even know your name."
"Bless me! It seems that all hobbits are the same!" the wizard exclaimed. "It seems I must visit the Shire more often for your kind to remember my face. I am Gandalf."
"Oh!" Rose exclaimed, now recognising him. "So you are! My apologies, Gandalf, it has been some thirty years since I last saw you! I was barely fifteen years old!"
"Indeed you were." The wizard chuckled. "You have also grown as I predicted you would, too. Now, who was it you were with?"
"My cousin, Finnie."
"Ah yes, Miss Braybell. Well, I daresay your cousin will be fine. However you will have to stay the night in our company."
Rose and one of the dwarves (one wearing a fur-lined coat) spoke at the same time. "Of course she will!" Gandalf exclaimed. "Would you have her wander through the woods on her own at night?" the dwarf remained quiet. "I thought as much. Now, Rose, allow me to introduce you to the members of our company; Oin, Gloin, Ori, Nori, Dori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, Kili, Balin, Dwalin, Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins." Each dwarf bowed respectfully except for Thorin. Bilbo nodded his head and offered Rose a smile.
"Thank you for coming to my aid." Rose addressed Kili and Bofur. "If you had not come when you had I dread to think what might have become of me." The two dwarves waved off her thanks but didn't say anything.
"We must return to camp." Thorin stated, already moving through the trees. "We leave at sun rise. You had best be ready to head back by then, Miss Spinner."
"Don't worry about him." As they began to head back to camp Bilbo Baggins came to walk with Rose. "He's not overly fond of me either and he's stuck with me!"
"Why is that? If you don't mind my asking."
Bilbo shook his head. "It's a very long story and if you wish to pass the night in sleep I shan't tell it to you. Now, Gandalf called you Rose Spinner?"
"Yes, daughter of Posco and Marigold Spinner."
Bilbo laughed. "Posco Spinner, owner of The Bear's Ball?"
"The very same."
"Well, I'll never!" Bilbo smiled. "Quaint little place. I must visit more often. I think that if I return I shall come and have a drink there."
"Customers are always welcome." Rose smiled, not questioning Bilbo's 'if'. "You're a Baggins of Bag End, yes?"
"Well, it's lovely to meet you Bilbo."
"And it is lovely to meet you too, Rose."
The dwarves led Rose back to a make-shift camp where a small fire was crackling quietly. "Dwalin, return to watch. Bombur, tend to the fire. Bofur, see to our guest." Thorin barked. Rose had a growing distaste for the dwarf, a feeling she did not often harbour.
"This way, miss Spinner." Bofur led her over to a small area filled with bedrolls. He motioned for her to lay down on one but she eyed him wearily. "I'm not gonna harm you." He smiled gently.
"Who does the bed roll belong to?" Rose asked quietly.
"I beg your pardon?"
"The bed roll. You can't be carrying a spare one."
"It's mine." Bofur smiled. "You can use it for the night."
"No, thank you. I can sleep on the moss. I don't want to be a hindrance after you saved me tonight."
"Don't worry about it." Bofur waved a hand. "I'm used to sleeping on the ground."
Rose didn't have time to argue as the others joined them, settling themselves down for the night. Rose found herself using Bofur's bedroll despite her protests. She was tired and desperately needed to sleep, but she was still shaken from the earlier events. Across the way Thorin and Gandalf were talking in hushed tones. The dwarf looked unhappy about something but the wizard merely shrugged him off. Thorin turned and stormed back to the others, turning his glare on Rose. She quickly rolled over, not wanting to think about the angry dwarf for now. Come tomorrow it wouldn't matter anyway.
A different start to my normal stories but hey, I don't think it turned out that bad!