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Eggs

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"Eggs." Bilbo said mournfully, poking at the fire with a stick. "It's been so long since I've had decent eggs."

From next to him, Fili nodded. "We haven't had much nice food on this journey."

"We haven't had much nice food." Kili amended. You took what you could get when you lived on the road and only made money from odd jobs.

Bilbo was too caught up in feeling somewhat bad for them to catch the glance they exchanged. He also didn't notice Thorin, in the spot furthest from the fire, look up at him in interest. If Bilbo had noticed any of these things, he would probably be much more apprehensive about the whole ordeal. But as it was, he wasn't expecting anything. In fact, by the time anything had happened, he had quite forgotten about the entire incident.

That night, they were staying in an inn in a small town they had happened upon just as night had fallen. It was a nice bit of luck, something they hadn't encountered in a while, and it was the perfect place to enact their plans. Not that Fili and Kili knew about Thorin's plans, or that Thorin knew about theirs, but they did have a tendency to think alike.

They went to sleep that night, Thorin's bed on one side of Bilbo's and Fili and Kili's on the other, planning what they would do in the morning. Thorin woke first, easily sneaking out without anyone noticing him. Fili woke slightly after him and shook Kili awake. They didn't think it odd that Thorin was gone, he had always been an early riser. Bilbo was still sound asleep in the bed next to them and that was what mattered.

They split up once out of the inn, looking for people who had eggs to sell. It wasn't that hard to find them, many in those parts kept chickens, and the weather was just cold enough for eggs to keep for a while. It was a stroke of luck they didn't encounter Thorin, who was also successful in his search for eggs.

Kili and Fili met back at the inn slightly after Thorin slipped in. By that point most of the dwarves were up, and Bilbo wandered down the stairs a minute after they re-entered. Bilbo, still tired, completely missed the somewhat dirty remark Kili made to Fili about Bilbo and beds when he sat down next to them.

They waited until they had been back on the road for several hours, until they stopped for lunch, to do anything about the eggs they were carrying. Thorin was scouting around the area they were camped out in to make sure it was safe, and the other dwarves were occupied with each other. Bilbo looked somewhat surprised when they approached him, both pulling wooden boxes out from somewhere. "We got you something."

Bilbo looked even more surprised about that, but accepted the boxes that were practically thrust into his arms by the brothers. He opened Kili's first, surprised to see there were a dozen eggs in it. The other box contained much the same. He must have looked confused, because Fili explained, "You said you wanted eggs."

It took him a minute before he remembered. "I suppose I did. I didn't think you'd take it this seriously, though. At least, not with this many eggs..."

Fili and Kili's faces fell in unison and they both looked somewhat guilty. "Did you not want eggs?" Kili asked, and Bilbo felt so bad about it he quickly shook his head.

"No, no of course I wanted eggs. Didn't I say I did. We could all have eggs for lunch with this many. Thank you both." He managed a smile, and immediately the brothers perked up.

"You're welcome!" Fili said cheerfully, letting Kili tug him to sit by the fire as Bilbo searched for something to cook the eggs in.

Bilbo had just found something when Thorin strode back into camp. The first thing he did, after pronouncing the area safe enough, was to seek out Bilbo, a wooden box held in his hand. "I have a gift for you, burglar."

Bilbo jumped slightly, startled by Thorin's proximity, and turned to look at him. "What's with all these gifts today? Not that I'm complaining..."

Thorin just held out a suspiciously familiar box, which Bilbo took and opened. "More eggs." He looked from Thorin to Fili and Kili and back to Thorin. "What am I supposed to do with all these eggs! I have thirty six eggs!"

Thorin's expression turned startled and a bit angry. "Did you not want them? You did say you wanted eggs..."

"I do want them, I just didn't want thirty-six of them." Bilbo addressed what he said partly to Fili and Kili, and Thorin turned to glare at them. Kili's eyes widened and Fili shuffled backward a bit. Bilbo stood and picked up the other two boxes and the pan he had found, stacking them precariously and making his way back to the fire. He set them down carefully and looked back up just in time to see Thorin practically dragging Fili and Kili off, who were protesting loudly that they were adults and they could do what they wanted.

He was glad for the change in company when Bofur sat down next to him, looking somewhat amused. Once he'd started the first batch of eggs cooking he glanced at the dwarf next to him. "Do you know what all that was?"

"You're being courted." Bofur explained to him, looking even more amused now. "By the remnants of the royal family."

Bilbo froze and turned slowly to look at him directly. "Courted? Royal family?"

"Sure. Fili and Kili are Thorin's nephews. We thought you knew that. They think you know that."

"Courted." Bilbo repeated, looking slightly stunned. He turned back to the eggs and stared down at them like they'd tell him what to do.

"I'm sure they would stop if you asked them to." And once upon a time, Bilbo might have. But he wasn't that hobbit anymore, and at least watching Thorin, Fili, and Kili try to outdo each other would provide him with some entertainment on this journey. Even if it lead to an overabundance of eggs.

In the end, with thirteen dwarves to feed, it turned out to be the perfect amount of eggs, and Bilbo was left debating over whether or not he would accept and who he would if any of them.