Chapter 1: A First Meeting

All the dwarves were already gathered at Bag End, in the small, idyllic country side of Hobbiton. The sound of their laughter and raucous behavior could easily be heard upon approach, which gave the young, hooded figure standing at the gate no doubt that this was indeed the right place. The young visitor didn't know much of hobbits, only that they were a quiet race, not very keen on visitors, which would have to mean this was the right house. As the unexpected guest approached the little, round door, the sign that Gandalf had mentioned lay clearly visible in the green paint. From beneath the crimson red cloak came a hand, which knocked three times.

It did not take long for the door to open, and silence to fall upon the group. On the other side of the door stood a small hobbit, looking intensely annoyed, and behind him the great wizard, Gandalf the Gray. A smile instantly appeared on the wizened face of the old man, and he greeted the next guest heartily,

"Welcome, my dear child Lily! Do come in, I am afraid you are the last one of the group to arrive."

The young hooded figure lowered her crimson cape to reveal long, dark brown, curly tresses, with two braids running behind her head like a small wreath. She stepped inside silently, nodding to both her new host and Gandalf. As she stood in the hallway, she noticed twelve pairs of eyes focused solely on her. She turned to face the dining room full of dwarves. At that moment, the dwarf king Thorin rose from his chair and fixed his deep blue eyes on her. Lily had very little experience with dwarves, only that which she had come by in occasional trade, but she was certain she had never seen such a strikingly handsome one, and it made her uneasy in his company.

"Please, my dear, come in, make yourself at home, we have much to discuss." Gandalf said in a merry tone. "This is our host, Bilbo Baggins." He said, gesturing at the little hobbit in front of him.

As a gesture of politeness, Bilbo stuck out his hand and said, "How do you do?"

It was at that moment when Thorin turned to Gandalf and spoke in a rough, rumbling voice,

"Gandalf, what is the meaning of this? You bring a daughter of Man into our midst?" Suddenly Thorin's gaze turned icy cold as he beheld the human woman before him. As though she had dishonored him by simply being in his presence.

"Master dwarf, it would be wise to hold your tongue in the presence of the lady of the house of Winters." Gandalf warned in a raised, gruff voice.

A sudden whisper raced amongst the dwarves, as they had heard of the house of Winters, it had been one of the mightiest blood lines of the human kingdoms, the most noble and ancient.

Thorin's gaze shifted from cold to disbelief as he spat, "It cannot be, the house had fallen near fourteen years ago."

"Yes, indeed it had, or so their enemies thought, but there was one survivor, and it is indeed a wonder that she still stands here today." He then turned to Lily and spoke in a softer tone, "My dear girl, I do still wish to hear of how you escaped, the elves and I had searched for you for almost two years in hopes of you being alive. Where did you go?"

It seemed all ears in the room were now perked in her direction, it was something everyone wanted to know, as before that very instant, her entire blood line was presumed dead. Lily looked from face to face, locking eyes with a cold stare before opening her mouth for the first time,

"Gandalf, to what purpose am I hear? I wish to know or I will take my leave."

At the cold manner in which she held herself, Gandalf had to quickly straighten himself up, ushering her into the den, the dwarves all following.

"Come come my dear, this way now."

Gandalf seated himself with a groan in the tiny furniture of the Hobbit. Thorin strode into the room like a wary hunter on the prowl, with slow, deliberate movements. He stationed himself across the room from Gandalf and the seated lady in crimson. He began to smoke his pipe, his eyes shielded in the shadows as he waited to hear Gandalf's proposal as to the purpose of the woman.

"My dearest Lily, I know you have not the faintest idea as to why you are here, and I know it baffles the dwarf king as well. What I propose for you, my lady, is that you join us on this quest to take back Erebor from the dragon Smaug. The dwarves may reclaim their homeland and -"

"What does the dwarven homeland have to do with me?" Lily broke in, with a low, steady tone.

"You and Thorin Oakenshield share a fate, my dear, what that fate is, we will only come to discover if you accompany us on this journey." Gandalf explained.

"Share a fate?" Lily said in a voice of disdain, "How can we share a fate? We have nothing in common-"

"Except your fate." Gandalf said with a tone of finality, leaning back into his seat, taking a puff of his own pipe.

Thorin stood in the shadows, listening intently, trying to discover what plot was underway. His suspicious nature always got the best of him, and the arrival of one who was supposed dead did not ease him at all.

Lily could feel Thorin's eyes in her back, needling her like daggers. She looked Gandalf in the eye without hesitation and simply stated,

"I thank you for the kindness you had once bestowed upon my house, dear Gandalf, but I am of no aid here, and do not enjoy the spectating eyes of strangers." She began to rise when Gandalf spoke,

"You are the greatest aid the dwarf king could ever need, even if he himself does not see it, and even if you do not yet either." Lily looked at Gandalf curiously, not sure what riddles he was making play of. She pulled her hood over her head again, turning to face the dwarf king in the shadows. She paused for a brief moment before silently heading for the door.

Gandalf sat calmly in his chair, now puffing on his own pipe. "She will return, once she feels it time."

"And when would she feel it time?" Thorin grumbled in his deep voice.

"My dear king, the aid she brings you cannot be rushed." Gandalf said, cocking his head to the side while observing the dwarf king feeling uneasy. "She will be the key to your fate." He said, his blue eyes twinkling.