The first time Bilbo saw the dragon, he was not expecting it.
While the company argued within the sick forest of Mirkwood, Bilbo looked up and gasped at the sight of a small white dragon. It was beautiful, its scales shining and its green eyes bright and focused.
"Hello," he found himself saying, unable to believe there was a real dragon here! Though smaller than he imagined.
"Hello," it answered in a feminine voice.
"Are you going to eat us?" Bilbo asked, the forest affecting him stronger than he'd like to admit if he was making small talk with a dragon.
"Why would I do that? You're very entertaining and I've been very lonely. It'd be rude to eat you. Just as it is rude to not introduce yourself."
"Oh. I am Bilbo Baggins, of the Shire. And you?"
The dragon actually smiled, showing off fangs. "I am Emerelda."
So it was a female.
"You're smaller than I imagined," Bilbo pointed out.
"That's because I am not an actual dragon," she said, sounding sad. Bilbo was about to respond, but realized how silent it had gotten.
"Dragon!" rang throughout the company. They rushed towards her, causing her to glare at them, spread her wings, and take off. Once she was gone, they surrounded Bilbo.
"What did he want?"
"Are you hurt?"
"Was he one of Smaug's spies?"
"Of course he was!"
"What did he want?" Thorin repeated.
"She," Bilbo corrected. "She wanted friends."
The second time was when Bilbo was preparing to go into the mountain. The company was gone, looking out for Smaug. There was a quiet flap of wings and Emerelda dropped down beside him.
"Hello again," Bilbo said.
"Hello. What are you doing here of all places?" she asked, tilting her head.
"I've come to help Thorin reclaim Erebor."
"You realize there is a huge dragon in there, right?" she said. "It's not safe."
"You're a dragon," Bilbo pointed out.
"No, I'm really not," Emerelda reminded him. She hung her head. "I used to be an Elf. I was the daughter of Galadriel, the princess of Lothlorien. I was cursed right before my wedding."
"By who?" Bilbo couldn't imagine being about to marry, then having that ripped from him.
"I don't know, but when I find out, they will regret it," she vowed. "My love has not seen me in three hundred years, my mother has not spoken to me. It gets very lonely."
"I'm sorry," Bilbo said honestly. She seemed to smile.
"Well, thank you, Master Baggins. But you still cannot go in there with no protection. I shall help," she declared.
"There's no point in risking us both," Bilbo protested. She just stared at him before crawling into the mountain, looking at Bilbo over her shoulder.
Bilbo grinned before hurrying after her. As they got closer to where Smaug was sleeping, Bilbo felt his unease grow. Soon they came to a room filled with gold. There was so much gold, Bilbo felt like he could never see all of it in his lifetime. There was a larger pile resting in the far corner, gently going up and down, showing where Smaug had taken his nap.
"Careful," Bilbo whispered. "We're looking for a stone. The Arkenstone."
Emerelda nodded and gently crawled around, nosing little piles of gold. Bilbo searched as well, keeping an eye on the large pile. After an hour of looking, he was so focused on finding the stone, he forget to look towards the pile.
"Who goes there?" a thunderous voice asked. Bilbo quickly put his ring on, then looked to Emerelda in fear.
"It is I, Emerelda!" she called, lifting her head high. Smaug, who was much larger than Bilbo ever imagined, looked to her, not noticing Bilbo.
"Ah, you've finally come home," he said, standing and making piles of gold roll and slide around. Bilbo nearly gasped as he saw the bright flash of blue. The Arkenstone!
"My home is not here. My home is in Lorien." Emerelda sneered.
"Not anymore. Tell me, tiny one, how would your dear mother react if her daughter came home a monster?" Smaug asked, his voice taunting. Bilbo was quiet as can be as he raced for the blue stone. Emerelda continued to distract Smaug.
"I am no monster! I am an Elf, cursed by unseen magic!" she yelled.
"Thanks to me!" Smaug yelled back, effectively silencing her. "It is I who called for you to be cursed. That mangy Elf had no idea he was about to marry the greatest beauty that ever walked Middle-Earth. He did not deserve you!"
"And you do?" she asked, disgusted. The truth was finally coming to light, centuries after the fact.
"Of course. I am Smaug, greatest and mightiest of the dragons. None can fool me, none can kill me!"
"I've seen better," she taunted. "I know an Elf who battled worse than you in the north and lived! You are nothing more than a witless worm!" She flapped her wings, scattering Bilbo's scent until it was nearly gone. Smaug snarled as he rose to his full height. Bilbo, who had found the Arkenstone, froze in fear as he realized just how tiny Emerelda was to this red dragon. He needed to get out of here. He ran for the door.
"What is that?" Smaug asked, turning towards Bilbo, who ran faster. Emerelda lunged for Smaug, scraping her teeth against his scales, loosening some. Smaug pulled back in fury and let loose a roar that shook the whole mountain. Bilbo was forgotten as the two dragons fought.
Smaug fought for an undeserved love, tainted by dark magic. Emerelda fought for freedom from a curse that tore her from her family. Together, they were terrible to watch.
Bilbo shrank against the wall, the company forgotten as he watched the mighty battle. As tiny as she is, Emerelda held her own against the much bigger Smaug. Then, the unthinkable happened. Her teeth clamped down on his neck, twisting and biting down. Smaug struggled, growing weaker as he lost blood. She refused to let go and eventually Smaug quit fighting, hanging limply from her mouth. Blinded by rage, Emerelda didn't stop there. She bite down further and severed Smaug's head from his body.
"Emerelda! Stop!" Bilbo shouted, taking off his ring. Her beautiful white scales were dripping red, her green eyes fiery. At his voice, however, she stumbled and dropped Smaug's head. Frightened by her own anger, she curled in on herself, whimpering. Bilbo ran forward and ran a hand down her scales, rubbing off some of the blood. He whispered nonsense to her, trying to calm her down. The sound of running feet caused her to curl tighter.
"What happened?" Thorin demanded, stopping in his tracks as he looked onto the battlefield. Then he noticed her trembling. "What does she want?"
Bilbo rubbed a hand soothingly on her scales.
"She wanted revenge."
The third time Bilbo saw her, it was in the middle of another battle. The terrible battle of five armies. He was rushing to find Thorin, to warn him, when he saw a flash of white in the sky. Ever since she killed Smaug, Thorin had been more welcoming to her, despite her being a feared creature. The company learned her story and sympathized with her. As he found Thorin and they looked up to Azog, who was holding Fili, Bilbo's heart stopped.
Not Fili. Not the young prince who watched over his younger brother and played pranks and held way too many weapons than was possible to hide on a small body. Not him!
Azog held Fili over the ledge as Fili yelled for them to run. Then she came in.
Emerelda swooped in, full of wrath and protection. She rammed into Azog, causing him to drop Fili, who only got a few bruises from the fall. The two tumbled over the cliff onto the ice.
"Where did you come from?" Azog asked in his guttural language.
"Your nightmares," she answered in the same language before charging. He swung his mace, catching one of her wings. She huffed in pain, but ignored it as she bit his arm. The mace fell as he howled in pain, clutching the bite mark.
"Please. I barely bit you," she taunted. He snarled and picked up his mace again. Swinging it, he charged at her. She allowed the mace to hit her as it gave her an opening to clamp down on his leg. Ignoring the wound it gave her, she spread her wings and took off into the air, dangling him as he screamed. She flew to the cliff and opened her mouth, watching him plummet towards the ground.
As his body broke, she flew back into the battle, doing the same to another Orc who nearly stabbed Kili. Soon the Eagles came and the battle finished, the good side winning out. Emerelda was licking her wounds when Thorin found her. She was still cautious around him as he didn't like dragons, but he was coming around with her.
"Thank you," he said simply, bowing his head. "Thank you for saving my sister-sons."
"It was my pleasure," she said, bowing back.
"I can never repay you, though I will try. I shall start by making you an official dwarf friend, alongside Bilbo." She nodded, knowing the significance of this gesture.
"I would be honored, Thorin Oakenshield."
"We also have a friend, a Wizard friend, who may be able to help you. He might know who cursed you," Thorin said. "And Oin can help patch you up."
She nodded and stood, limping alongside Thorin. When they reached the part of the camp where the company was, a cheer rose up. All the dwarves, elves, and men cheered Emerelda for she did a great part in stopping the battle by taking out the leader.
"But why did she drop him over a cliff when she could have done what she did to Smaug?" Kili asked. Bilbo grinned as he watched Oin flutter around her wings, patching them up.
"She wanted peace."
After that, Bilbo did not see her for almost seventy years. He had grown very old and was living in Erebor with the company, who barely changed. He had gotten word that Frodo was successful with the task of taking the ring to Mordor. Now he was just waiting for him to return so he could sail to the Gray Heavens with Elrond and Galadriel. Thorin was sad to see him go, but understood Bilbo wouldn't last long on this earth for much longer.
He was outside the mountain, breathing in the fresh air, when he heard something. Footsteps. He turned and saw something strange. A woman was walking towards him. She had white hair and brilliant green eyes. She was dressed in a white dress that fluttered around her bare feet.
"Bilbo," she said, smiling.
"Emerelda?" he asked, unable to believe she was here after so many years and back to her original form!
"Yeah, it's me. It turned out that Suraman was the one who cursed me, so when he died, I turned back. I'm an Elf again!" she said excitedly, clasping her hands together.
"Wonderful!" Bilbo hugged her when she reached him, only coming to her waist.
"I've been tasked with escorting you to the dock. The boats are about to sail." Bilbo smiled and looked towards the mountain. She seemed to read his thoughts. "Anyone who wishes to come can. Since I am a dwarf friend, they are now elf friends and those who want to can come with."
"Let me discuss it with them. How long do we have?" Bilbo asked. Her smile softened.
"All the time in the world for my first friend," she said. He hurried back to the mountain to talk it over. In the end, all the older dwarves decided to go with the exception of Thorin. He still needed to train Fili to become king. Balin, Oin, Gloin, and Dori all left with Bilbo and Emerelda after a farewell party.
Once they reached the docks, Emerelda became more excited. She was nearly bouncing as the boats left, leaving three crying hobbits. Galadriel, who had been beyond happy to get her daughter back, smiled fondly, as though she knew what was making Emerelda so happy. She probably did.
As they sailed, drawing closer to the Gray Heavens, she kept scanning the shore.
"Emerelda, what on earth is wrong?" Bilbo asked, laughing slightly.
"I received news that my love is here. He died in battle, in Aragorn's arms, so he should be waiting for me. It's been so long…" She turned to him, tears in her eyes. "What if-"
"Emerelda!" a faint voice called. They both turned and saw a blond elf waving to them from the approaching shore.
"Haldir!" She jumped from the boat and ran to shore, to the amusement of everyone watching.
"Why didn't she wait for us to dock?" Frodo asked. Bilbo drew in a deep breath, peace spreading throughout him. It was done. It was finally over.
"She wanted her love."