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Not What You Expected

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Alice and Erin were ordinary girls from an ordinary life on Earth. The fact that both were currently in raptures over the latest Peter Jackson movie 'The Hobbit' did nothing to change that, nor did the fact that they were currently insisting on being called Rayvyn and Atara, in an effort to sound more like they were from Middle Earth.

None of that mattered though, since they were finally being allowed to go to New Zealand, where they intended to spend the entire four days exploring anything and everything to do with the movie. You could actually go to the setting of the Shire, and spend the entire day there.

OK, so they were only allowed to go because it was the school holidays and Rayvyn's older sister had permission to go to some re-enactment thing being held not far away, where she was better known as Mairi, dragging along an acquaintance, who had yet to choose a name and was known as Suzi, who had very slowly become a reluctant friend of Mairi's, but that was beside the point.

At the moment, Atara and Rayvyn were giggling over how cool it would be if they could magically be thrown into Middle Earth and take part in the Quest for the Lonely Mountain. Especially if they could get Thorin Oakenshield and Kili to fall for them along the way

Sitting near the hotel window (She and Suzi would go to the faire in the morning) and valiantly trying to ignore them, Mairi huffed in exasperation, engrossed in the Unfinished Tales and explaining something to Suzi.

Suzi looked awkward as soon as she heard the younger girls mention the words 'cool', 'thrown into' and 'Quest', and downright uncomfortable at the idea of either Dwarf instantly falling in love with them. Rayvyn stuck out her tongue at her sister. "Admit it; you'd love to fall into the Hobbit. Hot Dwarves, adventures, treasure… what's not to love?"

Suzi actually patted Mairi on the shoulder. Mairi closed her eyes. "You wouldn't last five minutes, unless you had more lives than a cat."

Mairi could spout more random facts about Tolkien than anyone Rayvyn knew, so maybe they should have multiple lives if they hypothetically fell into Middle Earth. Adept at reading her friend's facial expressions, Atara smiled and lowered her voice. "We should bring Mairi along as a guide that only we can see or hear when we choose. She can tell us the unimportant details and we'll look wise and powerful!"

Rayvyn beamed. "I suppose I should be a dwarf, since that much height difference could make things difficult."

Atara waved a hand. "I'm sure I can get Thorin to fall in love with me, even if I am an elf. Everyone thinks elves are hot, and I wouldn't be from that nasty forest, so he wouldn't have that grudge."

Mairi threw a package of complimentary hotel peanuts at them. "Shut up and go to sleep. You can dream about going to Middle Earth all you like, as long as I don't have to listen to you."

When Rayvyn woke up, she was not on a soft hotel mattress, but on the hard ground, and the late afternoon sun was shining in her eyes.

Jumping to her feet (the ground seemed a lot closer than it should have been when she was standing up); Rayvyn accidentally stepped through Mairi as she darted over to where Atara lay. Atara's shriek of glee made Suzi appear out of nowhere, instantly finding herself on the receiving end of Mairi's most baleful glare.

Suzi seemed to shrink under the gaze. "If you did this on purpose, there is going to be trouble."

After a whispered conversation while Rayvyn and Atara were exclaiming at each other in delight before noticing a slight clothing dilemma, Mairi had spent the last half an hour shouting at them, showing absolutely no sympathy for their plight of their clothes now hanging off them, several sizes too large.

Suzi (no-one was quiet sure how she got there, and Suzi had muttered something about 'resonating parallels' and the Valar probably thinking it served her right) was looking conflicted, but seemed to be falling on Mairi's side.

Rayvyn finally managed to out-shout her sister. "Can we focus on the fact that my mini-dress looks like something you'd wear, but baggier? How am I supposed to impress Thorin and Kili looking like this?"

Mairi gave Suzi a telling look that conveyed the impression of being the town gossip, before she sighed and took off her over-dress that Rayvyn had seen her pack for Canterbury Faire, leaving her in a shift and kirtle. She handed it to Atara, taking the other girl's mini-skirt and folding it into a makeshift belt, a vindictive smirk twitching at her lips. "Look into a reflective surface, and then tell me that the clothes are your biggest problem."

Suddenly wary, Rayvyn walked over to a small puddle (it had rained the previous night), looked down… and let out a shriek to frighten a Nazgul.

Atara, who had been more concerned with keeping her clothes up and the revelation that, rather than being a cool name, 'Atara' was High Elven for 'Mother', had not paid much attention to Rayvyn's appearance, and hurried over. What happened?"

The sobbing dwarf-maiden, who had missed a key factor of her new race, looked up. "My BEARD, is what! I'm about half my former height and I have a bloody BEARD! And not a small one, either!"

Terry Pratchett had been the one to actually state that a female dwarf was most likely to be complimented on the silkiness of her beard, but that didn't change the fact that Tolkien dwarves, no matter their sex, had beards. Suzi-Maria sounded sympathetic. "It would be culturally inappropriate to shave it off, I'm afraid."

Rayvyn's voice was a despairing wail. "Kili doesn't have a beard or a long moustache!"

Mairi rolled her eyes. "Kili is an archer; facial hair like the other dwarves would be asking for a tangled bowstring, a missed shot, and lots of pain!"

Rayvyn sniffled. "But I don't want a beard! I look hideous!"

In contrast to Suzi, Mairi's voice held all the sympathy of a granite boulder. "The dwarves will probably find it the most attractive thing about you."

It took a lot to get Mairi worked up into fury, so Rayvyn tended to forget how nastily waspish her sister could become when her patience ran out. Perhaps bringing her along as a 'Spirit Guide – just in case' hadn't been such a good idea.

Mairi's silent but tangible air of icy disapproval kept them quiet until they reached Hobbiton, but the sight of Bag End had both visible girls running to ring the bell, especially when they heard the sounds of a party inside.

There was the sound of someone muttering darkly, a sound they had become very familiar with after keeping most of the plane awake with their squeals whenever the dwarves showed up during the in-flight showing, and large feet stomping toward the door. "I thought you said that Thorin was the last! We're not at home to anyone, and especially not to any more dwarves! I've already got thirteen of you ruining my Hole, and I won't have another!"

The door was yanked open, revealing a Hobbit who looked ready to spit nails, and did not look the least bit impressed. He barely even glanced at them before he glared back at the dwarves. "I thought there weren't supposed to be any more of you!"

A large (comparatively speaking) dwarf with a tattooed head frowned. "There were not. Whoever they are, they're not with us."

His words caused Thorin to glance over, his face settling into a black scowl as he saw Atara. "We do not have dealings with elves."

He stomped over, but instead of falling head over heels in love, as Rayvyn had planned, he shut the door in their face.

Shimmering into view again, Mairi looked far more cheerful than she did an hour ago. Suzi, at least, was making a token effort at sympathy. "Let's move on, shall we?"

Atara had been very lucky that she had followed Gandalf in order to make an equally dramatic entrance, as the three Trolls William, Bert and Tom would have viewed her as a much larger mouthful than the dwarves, who were more armor than flesh.

As it was, Rayvyn had not counted on what seemed such an amusing scene in the movie being quite so terrifying, and her mouth seemed frozen cold with fear. Even Mairi seemed worried, having whispered something about not knowing how their presence would affect the chain of events, but since Rayvyn and Atara had made her intangible, there was nothing she could do.

It was a good thing that Bilbo managed to keep his head with no help from Rayvyn, and that Gandalf showed up in time, despite having been forced to put up with Atara following him.

Rayvyn and Atara had tried to follow Thorin so that they could point out the Moon-Runes, but Thorin had set Dwalin and Gloin to keep Rayvyn out of trouble. When Atara tried to follow Gandalf and Elrond to the meeting of the White Council, promising to tell Rayvyn the details of how she saved Middle Earth by revealing information that she would realistically have no way of knowing, she was intercepted and sent to the kitchens, with a scolding for shirking her duties to gawk at the dwarves.

How was she to know that her dress, which she had switched to linen after trying to travel in velvet became too hot, was a copy of the uniform worn by the Domestics of the Last Homely House?

She barely escaped in time to join Rayvyn in following the other dwarves as they left Rivendell. Both of the 'Company Unwanted Additions' tried not to notice the muffled hysterical laughter that seemed to be coming from thin air.

The eyes see what the mind expects to see.

In the middle of a pitched battle, the only person that the Dwarves expected to see in a robe, over five feet tall, with long hair and a sword, was Gandalf. As the Wizard could take care of himself, and the mind could play tricks in a fight like this - explaining why there seemed to be two tall, long-haired, robed, sword-wielding people at the same time – they paid the second no heed.

If they paid little attention to the tall figure who was surviving through sheer luck and the fact that most orcs were concentrating on the more immediate threat of Gandalf, Thorin and Company, they noticed the dwarf that was mostly hidden behind her even less, and the intangible spirits floating nearby not at all.

Suzi took on a look of intense concentration before they all suddenly vanished.

They reappeared in the sunlight on the side of a mountain, looking around to take their bearings… just in time to be bowled over by a pack of Wargs. The last, noticing that Rayvyn was a dwarf, even if she wasn't the thirteen dwarves that the pack had been sent to find, turned back, and Suzi barely managed to whisk them all away again only seconds before the sharp teeth closed around her body.