Bilbo sighed and locked the doors behind him to his pawn shop, dusting off his jacket and making sure all of his brass buttons to his coat were fastened. He would be making quite the hike. His cousin Lobelia had demanded that he come see her this afternoon for tea, for she wanted to discuss Bilbo’s future plans for Bag-End.
She was constantly arguing with him, saying that if Bilbo was never going to marry, he might as well give the rights to Bag-End to her. But Bilbo refused. It was the last thing he had of his parents, and he’d give up his life before seeing his poor hobbit-hole be taken by that dreadful woman.
The Shire was literally buzzing with news. Apparently it was due to something about a war. Something about an Elvish Prince going missing or some sort, and the elven king blaming dwarves for his capture. It was all a load of rubbish to Bilbo. But he had seen a few dwarves here in the Shire asking for food or ponies.
“Did you hear?” A young hobbit girl asked. “They say the dwarf Thorin is out on the prowl!”
“You know what that means... no staying out past dark! They say that Thorin resides in a flying mountain above the clouds, and will occasionally come down and eat the hearts of those he catches!” Another whispered not to quietly.
The girls all giggled and ran away, and Bilbo merely shook his head. Such stories that spread about these days.
Bilbo frowned and pulled out his pocket-watch. Oh dear. He was going to be late for tea! Lobelia would clock him upside the head if he was late. The bronzed-haired hobbit treaded quickly down the stone paths of the Shire, knowing it would take half an hour to get to her candy shop. Oh, why him?
The marketplace was filled with hobbit lads and hobbit lasses. Most were buying food or selling a few fresh vegetables from their garden. But Bilbo would occasionally catch a few lads giving some flowers to beautiful young girls, their cheeks turning as red as roses. This would make Bilbo’s heart squeeze in a slight ache. No one had ever so much as cast Bilbo a glance when he had tried courting. But that was just his luck, he thought.
But then something caught his eye. Two visitors whom he’d never seen before. They were big-folk, but no one had seemed to pay them any mind. They both stared at him, and Bilbo felt a bit of a cold chill up his spine. Without thought, he picked up his pace and took a turn that led off from the market and towards the wood. He would continue his journey to Lobelia’s when those two had finally wandered off. Bilbo kept walking, but could hear their quiet footsteps lingering on behind him. His heart started hammering in his chest. What did these strangers want from him exactly? He hobbit stopped in his tracks and took a deep breath.
Turning around, he folded his arms around his chest and looked up at the two men. They froze for a second, but then continued until they were infront of the hobbit.
“Why are you following me?” Bilbo asked, trying to keep the shakiness out of his voice.
“We meant no alarm,” the first man said, pulling down the hood of his cloak. He had a thick mustache.
“Yeah... we just wanted to have a small chat.” The other said, leaning down.
Bilbo almost gaged. He smelled of smoke and alcohol.
“About what?” He asked, his hands curling into fists at his sides.
The man with the mustache knelt down aswell, bringing out a hand to let his finger gently brush against Bilbo’s cheek. “Nothing in particular... you’re quite the looker, you are."
The hobbit’s eyes widened and he took a step back, but stumbled and fell. “Leave me alone,” he babbled.
The men merely chuckled and began to move forward to descend upon Bilbo, but two large hands firmly grasped his shoulders and pulled him to his feet. He was pressed into something warm on his side, and an arm had wrapped itself firmly around him. Lips grazed his temple and a cloud of warm air gently blew over his bronze curls.
“There you are, my treasure,” a deep voice rumbled. “I was wondering where you ran off too... You were beginning to make me worry.”
Bilbo didn’t look up. He didn’t dare, in fear he would have a heart-attack.
The two men scrambled to their feet, eyes wide. “Oi! We’re busy here!” The younger man snapped.
“Are you really? It appeared to me you were just leaving...”
The hand on his shoulder raised lazily, and he pointed his finger up. The men froze and straightened their postures. He flicked his finger again, and the men both bolted off into the trees.
Bilbo blinked in confusion. What had just happened?
“Do not mind them,” the voice grumbled. “Not all men are like that. It is the Elves who you cannot trust.”
The hobbit looked up and held his breath for a moment. His rescuer was rather handsome dwarf. The first thing he noticed was his stunning blue eyes, so blue that he felt as if they were seeing straight in his soul. He had a thick mane of midnight colored hair with a full beard, and his cheekbones were sharp and defined; followed by a thin nose.
Our Master Baggins opened his mouth to thank his savior, but no words came out. I must look like a fish out of water, Bilbo thought.
“Where are you headed? I’ll be your escort this evening.”
“I-I’m just headed to the candy shop,” Bilbo stammered.
His savior slid his arm down to wrap lightly around Bilbo’s waist, pulling him firmly against him before dipping his head to breath into Bilbo’s ear. “Do not be alarmed, but I am being followed. Just act normal.”
Bilbo said nothing and allowed himself to be dragged along by his mysterious savior. The two continued to make their way down the path, until Bilbo heard something behind him. Glancing over the strangers fur coat, he saw several jet-black wolves with red eyes. By Eru! They were going to be eaten alive!
“It looks like your involved,” his savior snarled under his breath.
More wolves jumped out onto the path ahead of them, and Bilbo pressed himself hard into the side of the dwarf. The raven-haired dwarf grumbled and turned on the closest path, dragging the small hobbit behind him. But this was a mistake. Because soon they were surrounded.
“Hold onto me,” the dwarf breathed as he wrapped his arm hard around Bilbo’s waist, jumping into the air. The air left Bilbo’s lungs when he was suddenly shot up through the trees and high into the air. They were both floating several feet above the trees, and gentle breezes of air blew on Bilbo's face.
“Now, straighten your legs and start walking.”
Bilbo did as the raven-haired dwarf said and straightened his legs, matching his steps with the dwarfs. They both flew gently over the Shire, and everyone went about their business. No one even seemed to notice them, it was like they had turned invisible. The hobbit released a small gasp. The Shire looked utterly beautiful from above.
“You are a natural,” the dwarf complimented. This made Bilbo blush, but he smiled happily.
The two continued to float gently over the Shire, until Bilbo spotted the candy shop owned by his cousin and kindly as the dwarf to land them there. And as light as a feather, the dwarf gently lowered Bilbo to the ground while his savior continued to float in the air. His raven hair flowed gently behind him, and his royal blue clothes made his eyes shine even brighter.
“I’ll be sure to draw them off. But wait awhile before going back outside, especially after dark.”
“Alright,” Bilbo breathed, completely mesmerized by the stranger.
“Goodbye, my treasure,” Thorin said, flying back up into the air.
Bilbo ran forward a few feet and then stopped. Oh, he wanted to know his name! He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, turning to walk inside his cousins candy shop and face Lobelia’s wrath.
“Why must you always get into trouble!” Lobelia said angrily, staring at Bilbo with a frown before taking a sip of her tea.
“It wasn’t as if I planned to be whisked away by a dwarf,” Bilbo countered.
Lobelia tucked one of her many curls behind her ears, setting her tea-cup back down onto the table. “It sounds like it was Thorin... Really, Bilbo, you were lucky. Rumor has it that he eats the hearts of those he catches, since he lost his own long ago.”
“But.. he was very kind to me. He rescued me from those two men... he saved me, Lobelia.”
“Of course he did!” Lobelia snorted. “He was trying to steal your heart.”
Her cold expression softened just a bit. “You are very lucky, Bilbo. If it really was Thorin, he really would have hurt you.”
“No he wouldn’t...”
“But you never know! You need to be more careful. Even the Wizard of the Waste is on the prowl.. are you even listening to be, Bilbo Baggins?!”
Bilbo’s head shot up. He had been daydreaming about the recent events, and had hardly paid his cousin any attention. Lobelia’s temple was throbbing in annoyance.
“Alright,” Bilbo said while getting to his feet. “I suppose I better get going before it gets dark. I just wanted to come make sure you were doing okay.”
“Now, Bilbo,” Lobelia said quickly, jumping to her feet and rushing over to Bilbo. “If you ever get tired of Bag-End... you can always consider giving it to me. I could really restore that place to it’s proper glory.”
Bilbo’s cheeks grew hot at that comment, but he kept his cool. “No, I think I will keep it with me. Bag-End was just so important to my mother and father, and I rather enjoy living there. It comforts me and reminds me of them. I don’t mind it at all. Good evening, cousin.”
“Just remember me!” Lobelia called after Bilbo as he turned to walk down the path.
It took Bilbo almost an hour to walk home, but the trek had been worth it. His pawn shop was only over the hill, so he never really had to travel far in the mornings. Walking past his front gate, he began raiding his pockets for his keys as he stopped in front of the large green door. But his keys were nowhere to be found, and he only had the keys to his pawn shop.
“Where are those blasted keys,” he muttered to himself. And then it hit him. He had left his keys to Bag-End sitting on the counter to his pawn shop.
Groaning, he turned to go back onto the path to his pawn shop. It took him only fifteen minutes to get to his shop, where he quickly unlocked the door and made his way inside. He turned on a light and made his way over the the counter, putting his keys into his pocket. He heard the door open and close behind he, and he turned.
A rather fat man with amber colored hair stood inside his shop, looking around at the different items stored on the shelves. He might have been handsome when he was younger.
“Oh. I’m sorry, sir, but we’re closed. If you’d like, you may come back again tomorrow.”
The man said nothing and simply continued to look aimlessly around the shop. “Such a tacky little pawn shop,” the man sighed, as if he was disappointed. Then his eyes landed on Bilbo. “But you by far are the tackiest thing here.”
Bilbo’s cheeks grew hot and he curled his fists at his side. Holding his head high, he marched over to the door and opened it. “The door is over here, sir. Again, we are closed.”
“Standing up to the Wizard of the Waste... How very bold.”
The hobbit’s heart seemed to stop in his chest, and he mouthed the word’s in disbelief. When he turned around, two large black wolves with glowing red eyes growled at him; making him jump.
Suddenly, the man lunged forward, and Bilbo felt as if he were covered in a layer of cold film.
“The best part about that spell is that you can’t tell anyone about it,” the man chimed. “My regards to Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror.”
And with that, he the man closed the door and left without a trace. Bilbo sat crouched to the floor, wondering just what exactly that crazy man had meant. In the confusion, he had dropped his keys. He looked around his shop once, then reached down to grasp his keys. Then froze. His hand.. his hands were spotted and wrinkled with age.
Bilbo’s eyes went wide, and then his hands quickly shot up to his face. He could feel the evident wrinkles and the thinness of his hair. Oh no, Bilbo thought in dread.
Quickly, Bilbo hobbled over to the nearest mirror. What he saw, though, shocked him. The man certainly looked like Bilbo... but it wasn’t. The face was old and wrinkled, with hair that was thinned and feathery white.
“I.. Aah... That’s really me!” Bilbo shouted. The reflection followed his movements. He placed a hand over his heart and quickly ran back over to the door, grabbing the keys to Bag-End and then slowly locking up the shop. His joints ached and his vision seemed blurred, but he was making his way down the path just fine. When he reached Bag-End, he quickly made his way inside. He slipped off his shoes and made his way around Bag-End until he reached the bedroom.
“It’s just a bad dream,” he kept muttering to himself. “It’s all a dream. Everything will be alright when you wake up.”