I thought it was time there was more humour in this fandom, so decided to write these. That's about all the explanation there is.
In which Bofur bets that Bilbo will believe anything, and the hobbit suddenly finds himself saddled with two over-enthusiastic guides to dwarf customs.
"Your turn." Kíli's demand raises a small sigh from one of the older dwarves riding behind them, probably Oín or Gloín.
Luckily Bofur has more of a sense of humour, and less of a sense of propriety. He glances up and down the line of ponies with a secretive look. "After much observation," he announces, "I am willing to bet you that our burglar, Mister Baggins, will believe anything." He pauses, and clarifies. "Anything realistic, that is."
Kíli screws his nose up. "Realistic?"
"He means that we can't try to tell him that the sky is green, or that Uncle actually has three arms."
The younger dwarf grins. "But he-"
"What are you wagering?" Fíli interrupts, elbowing his brother in the ribs, then expertly dodging the return blow.
"A turn on watch."
"Fine. When can we start?"
A distinct cough sounds from behind, and Fíli feels a pang that this profitable, amusement-promising venture is going to be brought to a halt so soon. But his fears prove to be unfounded.
"Any chance of us joining in?" Dwalin asks. A few other dwarves express agreement.
Bofur spread his hands wide. "Open to all comers – one hobbit to tell tall tales to. If you can get him to openly disbelieve anything you say by the end of the day, I'll take your next watch. If not, you each give me, oh, a silver piece each."
There's some grumbling. "That's not fair. Thorin will stop us trying to swap watches anyway…"
"Money or a turn on watch then. Your choice, Nori."
The dwarves nod. "Off you go then lads." Dwalin rumbles. With twin grins Kíli and Fíli prompt their ponies forwards, already bantering about how to split the prize.
"Hello, Mister Bilbo!"
"Mind if we have a chat with Bilbo, Master Gandalf?"
"Not at all. I'm perfectly happy talking to myself."
Bilbo suddenly finds himself separated from the rest of the group, sandwiched between the two brothers. "What, what were you wanting to talk about?"
"We were just wondering if…"
"… anyone has ever explained dwarf culture to you?"
"Well, I've mostly been picking it up as I go along."
"What have you picked up?" Kíli asks with some interest.
"That you're, ah, keen warriors, hardy, stub-, sorry, er, resilient, strong… err, very loyal…"
"Well, that's something." Fíli looks him up and down. "And all true of course. But we were just thinking that since you're going to be travelling with us we really ought to answer any questions you might have."
Bilbo is suddenly overcome by a near-irrepressible desire to ask how flammable dwarves are, but decides that this probably isn't the sort of question the brothers are aiming at. He'll probably find out when they get to Erebor anyway. "Are there any dwarf women?" He asks instead.
"No." Says Kíli suddenly.
"Where do you come from then?"
"From rocks. Haven't you heard the stories?"
Fíli realises that he may need to give his brother a better definition of 'realistic'. He's sure Bofur is probably hovering about a short distance behind them, eavesdropping.
"So how come you two are brothers?"
"We came from the same rock. Obviously."
"Hmm. What about Thorin?"
"Well, he came from a rock too."
"The same rock or a different rock? He is your uncle. How does that work?"
Fíli decides now is the time to break in, as he's not sure where Kíli's train of logic, if it could be called such, is taking him. "Bilbo, it would be better is you did not pry into the sacred mysteries of our people. And Kíli, it would be better if you did not tell of them."
Kíli dips his face to hide a grin. "Sorry brother." This was going to be more difficult than they thought.
"Alright. In that case, may I ask about the beards?"
"What about them?"
"Just generally… about them."
"Well, a dwarf's beard and braids are symbolic of many things." Fíli starts off. "Fighting prowess, skill at smithing, completion of some great deed or feat of arms…"
"…eating lots, er, intelligence, common sense…"
"Which is why we had to get rid of Kíli's of course."
"Hey! That's n-" Kíli catches his brother's look and quickly amends: "You didn't have to tell him that."
"What did you do?"
As Kíli tried desperately to think of something he hadn't done, his brother came to the rescue. "He brought down the whole roof… where was it, Kíli?"
"Doesn't matter. Anyway, you dared me to. You told me to go take some of the tiles off."
"And you listened, brother."
"Stop plaguing our burglar, both of you." Dwalin booms, pulling up beside them. "He doesn't need to hear about your escapades."
Bilbo tried not to breathe a sigh of relief as they moved off. He had been feeling rather trapped. "Have you never had any 'escapades', Dwalin?"
Dwalin gives him a disparaging look, which makes Bilbo presume he hasn't. "I'm a warrior, lad. I've escaped from situations you couldn't imagine."
"Well, I suppose…" Bilbo trailed off, as Dwalin proceeded to launch into a speech longer than any Bilbo has ever heard the taciturn dwarf make before, as he describes some of the countless battles he has fought in, and the hundreds he has killed. Gloín joins them, and backs up Dwalin's story that he once fought off and beat a cave troll with only a sharp stick, singlehanded.
"Of course," Dwalin adds, "if Gloín hadn't jumped on the other one's head and throttled it, I doubt I'd be here today."
Bilbo politely assured them that he was most relieved to have such brave and battle-hardened warriors by his side and edged his pony away, back towards Gandalf.
He was very popular today. Either that or Fíli and Kíli were practising ambush tactics.
"Bilbo, sorry we went off on a tangent earlier."
"We didn't really answer your question."
"So we thought we'd better-"
"-come back." They chorus.
"How do you do that?"
Bilbo isn't sure which one to address. "Finish off each other's sentences."
"We can read each other's minds." Kíli replies seriously and receives a shove from his brother. He need not have worried.
"Sorry, was that another 'sacred mystery'?" The two brothers pause, so he continues. "Sorry, you're right, I really don't know what's going on here, and I'm sorry if I-"
"No, no, it's fine." Fíli is not quite sure how the hobbit can manage to fit so many 'sorry's in one sentence. Or not look the least hesitant in accepting what Kíli has just said.
"It's just us who can do it." Kíli reassures the hobbit. "I think. Uncle can't, anyway, otherwise we'd be in trouble."
"A lot." They exchange grins.
"Is it because you're so close? I mean- "Bilbo tries to cover himself, "you're closer than the other dwarves."
Kíli looks bemused, and Fíli can't really see a way of denying this one. "Yes. I suppose we are."
That was more like it.
"Well, when we were but small dwarflings, our par-"
"Rocks." Kíli breaks in.
"…Our rock -", Fíli glanced at Bilbo, but he still showed no sign of noticing the near loss of narrative-continuity. "Well, a rock isn't a very good parent anyway, I'll be honest, and Thorin was generally busy."
"And Balin's quite slow."
"And so once we got lost in the woods and had to look after each other – or rather, I had to look after Kíli –"
"- for nearly a month. On our own." Fíli stresses this, but Bilbo still appears unfazed. "We built a nest in a tree and lived like elves until Thorin found us."
"And lived off raw rabbit. Mostly."
"Actually, I think it was two months."
Kíli looked across at Fíli, who shrugged. "I fear we are wanted, Master Baggins. Hopefully we can continue this conversation later?"
"Nori? Where are we?"
"Keep your voice down, Master Baggins. This is one of the most dangerous areas we've travelled through yet."
Bilbo looks around at the spreading sunlit hills, and gives the straggly copses to their left a cursory glance as well. "Why? Have you been here before?"
"Only once." Nori shudders. "There are evil things that lurk in these hills. Pray we do not stay the night."
"What… what are they?"
"They do not have a name. They come when you are sleeping and suck the life right out of your blood. If you wake up you feel only the cold slowly seeping into you as all the warmth fades away." Nori has been taking lessons from Bofur.
"How do we stop them? If we do need to stay the night?"
"Thistles." Nori says cryptically. He waits a moment for a reaction, then leaves in disgust.
"What's for dinner?"
Bombur peers at the hobbit from over the rim of the cauldron. "Stew."
"Stew? Rabbit stew?"
"No rabbits round here." Kíli assures him. "We spent ages hunting for them."
"What is it then?"
"Squirrel. And two crows."
"And whatever it was Ori hit with his sling." Fíli adds.
"A sparrow." Ori informs him.
"Oh. Well, that's in there too."
"That can be your portion, Bilbo!"
Bilbo doesn't quite share Kíli's delight at this prospect. "Squirrels. Right. Well, I hope it's been seasoned well…"
"And your share is… three silver coins, since you did most of the work. Buy yourself some more handkerchiefs with it."
"Thank you." Bilbo carefully put the money in his belt pouch as Bofur leaned back against the tree, pipe in his hand, watching the camp below.
"That went very well indeed. I swear I haven't heard such ridiculous stories since Gandalf last told one of his tales."
Bilbo shares the smile. "Yes. But can I just confirm-" he hesitates, "that none of it was true?"
Bofur suppresses a smile. "Well, you've seen Dwalin fight a troll yourself – he does not favour the pointy stick method. Nori tried to frighten you with dwarfling tales, and as for the lads, well…"
"Obviously the bit about the rocks wasn't true. I think. And the stew. And their childhood. But-"
"As far as we are all aware, they cannot read each other's minds." Bofur looked back pensively towards the camp. "Probably," he added. "If they actually could I cannot see them telling anybody. You should probably know, though …"
"You've been eating squirrel stew for the past three days."
I have a few more ideas, but if you would like to share some, please do! Otherwise I may revert to less humourous tales... At least, I hope you found that one amusing. Please review if you did, and tell me what you found amusing, so I can make more like it.