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Chapter 18

Bilbo's Point of View

"Men!" Bilbo mumbled irritably to herself as she climbed the tree, wincing as the rough bark dug into her hands, breaking the skin in some place.

The trolls were talking amongst themselves and the dwarves were complaining so loudly that she didn't worry about them hearing her.

"Oh no, you stay at camp," she deepened her voice, hissing in a mock imitation of a man. "We manly men will sort this out and vanquish the evil trolls,"

She stopped her grumbling to blow a stray strand of hair out of her eyes only for it to stick to her sweaty forehead instead.

"Now look where it got them," she mumbled in her own voice, "Plucked and tied to a spit," although she had to admit that reaching the outskirts of the troll's camps just in time to watch Thorin being very unhappily stripped to his long-johns had very nearly been compensation enough for his rotten attitude towards her this past month. Taking aside that all the Dwarves were being stripped so that they could be tied to the spit, it had to be the most hilarious this she had seen since leaving Hobbiton.

She had never seen him look so disgruntled. And that was saying a lot. Try as he might, his kingliness had slipped a bit.

Finally high enough to have a good view of what was happening on all sides she carefully manoeuvred herself onto a branch, swinging one leg either side so she straddled the branch.

Half of the company were being turned on the spit – good, she wouldn't have to worry too much about them for a little while as long as the spit kept turning and none of them got too burned – and the other half were bagged with only their heads free. She did a quick count and was relieved that one of the trolls hadn't fancied a before-dinner snack. Everyone was there.

"They should be sautéed and grilled, with a sprinkle of sage," the chosen cook mused, pausing to spit for a moment and sprinkling imaginary herbs onto the dwarves.

Bilbo rapidly thought. What could she do – other than kill Gandalf when he made an appearance of course?

"Dawn ain't far away. Let's get a move on,"


"I don't fancy being turned into stone,"

She looked up, and true enough the sky was beginning to lighten. How had so much time passed?

Keep them busy. That's all she had to do.

She could do that…couldn't she?

Bilbo shimmied forward on the branch getting further away from the security of the trunk.

"Umm excuse me Mr…" bother, what was the cooks name again? Bert!

"Excuse me, Mr Bert,"

All the trolls turned to her and she nearly fell out of the tree in a panic when she realised she was just on level with their mouths.


The cook looked at her and she could tell his slow mind was trying to join some dots.

"Who are you?" growled the grumpy one – she would have to keep an eye on him.

What was she doing? Why did she ever leave Bag End.

"Oh, I'm sorry, how rude of me. I'm Bilbo. Bilbo Baggins," she held out her hand and the cook looked at it dumbly.

Alright then.

"I'm your friendly forest…cook!"

Forest cook, really Bilbo.

The trolls looked at her in confusion and she dared not look to the now silent Dwarves.

Think. Think. What now.


She began to swing her legs playfully, leaning forward on her hands where she gripped the branch. Her behaviour was confusing the trolls who were so used to people running and screaming. Yet here she was, quaking inside but acting like she had done this a hundred times.

"Forest cook?" piped up who she guessed was the youngest of the trolls.

She nodded her head with a little bit more eagerness than necessary.

"Yes, forest cook, and I really must tell you that you are going about cooking Dwarf all the wrong way," she swallowed loudly going with whatever popped into her head and hopping it didn't land her in a sack of her own.

"How's that then?" asked Bert, leaning in closer to her. So closes her eyes as they watered from his breath.

She now spared a glanced down at the Dwarves who were all staring at her like she had grown a third eye. Or just lost her mind.

"Well you see, the sage isn't the best way to bring out all the flavour. And have you smelled them?" she crinkled her nose and threw the sacked Dwarves a reproving glance, "Sage just isn't going to do the job I'm afraid,"

Bert glanced over his shoulder at his two companions as the Dwarves began to squirm and grumble at her insult. They had been travelling none stop for nearly a month what did they think they smelled like? For all that their beards and hair was kept in immaculate condition the rest of them was not quite up to the same standards.

"Hear that lads? That's some quality cooking smarts that is," Bert bellowed.

She took the time he wasn't looking at her to take several deep breaths to calm herself. When the troll turned back to her she realised the breathing hadn't worked.

"What's best then, little cook?" the troll asked everything in his bearing hopeful and eager. Bilbo felt a surge of guilt wash through her at what she was doing. She would feel sorry about Bert turning to stone.

"Do you like mint?"

Please say you like mint.

There were nods all round.

"Brilliant. Well I would suggest boiling them with mint. Opens the pores you see, and sorts the smell like nothing else,"

Bert nodded his head and thoughtfully pinched his chin.

"There's some thoughtful thinking, boys," he shouted to the other two.

"Load of rubbish. I say we cook her an'all," snapped Grumpy, abandoning the spit and stomping over towards Bilbo and Bert, his hands reached out to grab her.

She began to back away along the branch in a panic and she heard some of the dwarves shouting trying to draw the attention away from her. That was something else that didn't work.

Thankfully Bert didn't appreciate the culinary lesson being interrupted and swatted Grumpy's arm away before his hand could close around her body.

"None of that," Bert growled at Grumpy and she hardly had the time too squeal as Bert's hand closed around her instead.

She was going to be eaten. This was it.

He held her up to his face.

"You reckon mint'll do the job?" he asked, that wide eyed look making the guilt churn even more in her stomach.

"Absolutely!" she squeaked.

"Rot! Nothin' but rot! I've had plenty of Dwarves without givin' them a bath first," Grumpy voiced his opinion again – thankfully he was back at his post turning the spit - and Bilbo stole a glances at the ever lightening sky. Just a little longer and the sun would be up over that rock. Wait. Was that a flash of grey and white? Gandalf.

"Yeah. And who says we need to cook 'em at all. Bit o' raw dwarf never did anyone any harm," the youngest joined in, moving with far too much purpose towards the dwarves and scooping up Bombur by his legs. He dangled the poor dwarf over his mouth and began to lower him.

Now what.

"Umm…Ah…No...No I wouldn't do that if I were you," she struggled in Bert's grip trying to see properly. When she finally got the angle right she sighed in relief to see that her words had made the troll stop.

"Why not?"

Yes Bilbo, why ever not?

"Because umm…Because…"think!

"Because he had worms in his uhh tubes!"

Worms in his tubes? I'm going to get everyone eaten.

"Ugh," she tensed as the troll threw poor Bombur back onto the pile. Moans erupted from the Dwarves as their largest member landed on then.

"In fact, I would say they all do. You'll need some rosemary in with the mint to deal with that," she nodded her head and looked at Bert, "I wouldn't risk it otherwise. Very contagious are these parasites," she tried to keep hold of her temper as the Company piped up that 'no' they didn't have worms. And in a brilliant show of maturity Kili informed her that 'I don't have parasites, YOU have parasites!'.

And then something changed their minds – maybe they finally caught on to what she was trying to do – and suddenly they were trying to out-parasite each other. Some had more than others, while some where fatter or longer than everybody else's.

"It's a nasty business it really is," she confided in Bert who was once again holding her at eye level and far too near to his mouth.

"You don't think I know what you're doing," yelled Grumpy, stomping towards them yet again.

Bilbo's stomach flipped, and up became down as she found herself being held out of Grumpy's reach but upside down above Bert's head.

She held onto Bert's hand for dear life and closed her eyes tightly having no desire to see the ground so far below her. Thankfully Bert's grip on her didn't loosen even as he spun around several times to avoid Grumpy's grasping fingers.

"That thing," he swiped for her and Bert leaned back and reached impossibly higher. Bilbo felt like she was going to be sick and tried to breathe as steadily as she could, "Is taking us for fools,"

"Fools?" asked Bert dumbly, still holding her high.

"The dawn will take you all,"

Despite the desire to throw up the meagre content of her stomach all over Bert's scabby head she couldn't stop the reflexive eye roll at the wizard's dramatic flair.

Sun light suddenly filled her vision and she had to close her eyes at the slash of pain that lanced through her head.

A strange crackling sound filled her ears and the grip around her body spasmed but never released her as the trolls groaned. And then silence.

There was a cheering from below her and calls to be released from the fire. She opened her eyes and found that Bert had hunched over, leaving her facing the ground and all the pressure on her chest. She watched through blurring vision as Gandalf entered her line of sight and began to smother the fire. The most immediate problem taken care of he released Balin from the heap.

Bilbo, fearing that he was going to set about free more of them cried out.

"Gandalf, help, please," she wheezed, trying to wriggle free of the now stone hand wrapped around her.

She was well and truly stuck, and it hurt.

"Bilbo, my dear, how on earth did you get up there,"

Really, he was going to do this now.

"Get me down," she snapped, although it came out a lot weaker than she wanted, but that was to be expected considering the lack of air that was making it into her lungs at the moment.

"Stay calm, I will have you down in a jiffy,"

That jiffy turned out to be not so quick as Gandalf led her to believe and she was still hanging from Bert's grip when most of the Company had regained their clothing and were assisting the wizard with the puzzle of how to get her back on the ground. Never had she been so glad of wearing her father's old trousers or she would be showing everything to the men below her and the situation was pressing enough without having that added mortification.

Bofur was standing on Bifur's shoulders and helping to support her, lifting her slightly and taking the strain from her chest and allowing her to breathe properly. It wasn't the most proper of positions to find herself in. The Dwarf was leaning over the back of Bert's fist where she couldn't see him and had somehow threaded his arms through the massive fingers to support her, preventing her from being a dead weight and easing her breathing.

"Well now," the cheerful Dwarf chuckled at her ear, "I have gone from being on a troll's dinner menu to having my arms around a very bonny lass. An improvement, aye?"

A breathy giggle escaped Bilbo before she could do anything about it.

"You, Mr Bofur," she gasped, "Are a rogue,"

There was another chuckle at her ear.

"Aye, that I am miss, and a devilishly handsome one I am too,"

"How are we going to get her down, Gandalf?" someone grumbled behind her.

There was a wizardly mumble from out of Bilbo's sight and then within a few seconds Gandalf appeared in front of her a reassuring smile on his face.

"Now my dear, I need you to close your eyes when I tell you to," he told her as he stuffed pinches of something into some of the slight crevices in Bert's knuckles.

Poor Bert, she really did feel terrible about the cook being turned to stone.

Bilbo didn't feel particularly reassured when after being so careful to push the … whatever into Bert's hand he then turned around and rubbed his hands on his robe.

Oh, by the Shire, the wizard was going to kill her.

"Don't look so worried my dear, I've done this plenty of times," he smiled stretching out with his staff.

"More times than you have slain a dragon, I hope," she bit back, panic making her tone harsh.

Instead of earning her a snappy comment in return all it did was make the wizard chuckle deeply in his throat.

"That's the spirit," he laughed.

"Now, Bofur, keep holding her but keep your hands away from the – Yes that's it,"

Bilbo had already shut her eyes and was trying to breathe as deeply as the she could. She was beginning to feel sick, and her head was swimming more than it had been.

"Now my dear keep your eyes tightly shut, you too Bofur, Bifur. Everyone else look away please, the light may be quite bright,"

What was he planning.

She felt a slight movement behind her and a hand was gently laid across her eyes.


"Now don't you worry none, Miss. Gandalf will have you out of this before you know it, just you keep your eyes shut," he mumbled into her ear.

She heard him growl something in the guttural language he often used to communicate to Bifur and then-

"Everyone ready," Gandalf sounded far too happy about this.

He spoke something in a language Bilbo wouldn't identify and then she heard a sizzle, not unlike bacon in a pan, heard a pop - or was it a crack? – and suddenly the smell of burning was in her nose and her ears were ringing dreadfully.

Bofur had taken his hand from her eyes so she took that as permission to open them.

It had not worked.

No. Bilbo was certain that if it had worked she would not be looking down at the ground still. But she was. Therefor it had not worked.

But the smile on Gandalf's face told her that it had worked and he was hitting the hand holding her with his staff.

Was that a flake of stone that had just crumbled from Bert?

"Did it work?" she heard Bofur – still supporting her as best as he could behind her – ask the question she too would like the answer too.

Gandalf looked quite put out by the question. She supposed he took it as someone doubting his abilities. Understandable really – the doubting – at they had seen him do nothing of the magic variety since they had left Bag End.

He hit the hand holding her roughly – making her tense - with his staff and more of Bert crumpled away, he snorted in satisfaction and nodded his head.

"You'll be out in no time. What did I tell you, my dear Hobbit?" she was really starting to resent his cheerfulness. She didn't know how beings this tall could do it. No wonder trolls were so bad tempered, she had only been up this high for…well, quite long enough thank you, and she was getting more than a little testy.

Gandalf had the Dwarves at work with hammers and hands, hacking away at Bert's collapsing limb. All the time Bofur spoke nonsense to her and tightened his arms as Bert's hand became a pile of rock by the ash of the fire.

"Right lass," she opened her eyes and found herself looking into Balin's kind eyes. He was smiling at her.

"One more knock and you'll be free,"

She nodded her head in understanding.

"Bofur won't let you fall, will you lad," he met eyes with the Dwarf at her back.

"Don't you worry Miss, I won't be dropping a lovely armful like you anytime soon," she blushed violently and as quick as a flash Balin had taken care of what remained of Bert's fist and her whole body dropped. She couldn't stop the cry that escaped her lips as her whole body jolted as the troll crumbled.

"You're alright lass," the voice at her ear spoke and she suddenly remembered the arms wrapped around her, holding her firmly, securely, not letting her fall.

She gripped at the arms around her waist and kept her eyes firmly shut as she was lowered from Bofur's arms into another 's care.

"That's a good lass, you're alright now," Balin was speaking, but his voice wasn't close enough to be the one holding her, and the chest beneath her was moving in time with the words.

Bilbo breathed deeply and opened her eyes. She looked up to meet Dwalin's concerned gaze and smiled her thanks, leaning heavily against him.

Nothing about this was proper in the slightest but she wasn't about to be clever and try and walk. Instead she focused on staying still and trying not to tense up as the blood flowed back to where it should be.

"You did well, lass," Dwalin grumbled and just like that the discomfort didn't quite matter so much.

Hi everyone.

I hoped you enjoyed this chapter :)

I am not feeling very well at the moment so I apologise for any errors (well, more than usual ;)) that you may stumble across, I am typing this while feeling pretty groggy so anything could have slipped by.

I have had the Troll/Bilbo scene planned up from the first chapter so I am really happy to finally get it posted. :)

I couldn't resist having a little flirty Bofur in this chapter.

Please let me know what you think

Have a good and safe weekend everyone.

Take care. :)

PS. I don't know if any of you follow my femSherlock stories…? But just a little heads up that there are a few more OneShots on my tumblr :)