‘I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.’
Gandalf’s words flooded through Ro’s senses and she felt as though every bone in her body were vibrating.
It was time!
Ro rushed about Bag End trying to get everything ready for her family’s arrival. She hadn’t seen anyone besides her parents in the past ten years. Now they were coming to her home and they were going to go on their quest for Erebor. Ro could hardly contain her excitement.
The time had finally come and she was ready.
Everything felt sorted. She felt like she could jump in and maybe, just maybe, things could be how they once were, before… before everything.
A knock came to the door. The dwarrow weren’t coming until this evening. Ro rushed to the door and practically threw it open. Caspian and Lobelia and their little daughter Rosie were smiling at her.
“Good afternoon!” Lobelia said with a big smile. “We figured you might have forgotten to have afternoon tea so we thought we might make sure.”
Caspian rolled his eyes affectionately towards his wife. “What she means is, Rosie wouldn’t stop crying until we brought her to see her Auntie Ro.”
“And how is my favorite niece?” Ro reaches out and picked the darling girl up in her arms and sprinkled kisses across her cheeks.
Rosie giggled. “I’m your only niece!”
“Shhh!” Ro nuzzled Rosie’s nose with her own. “That’s supposed to be a secret!” The girl giggled. “Come in, come in! Believe it or not, I do have the kettle on.”
The Evergreens came in and glanced around the place.
“It looks like a wind storm has come through,” Caspian whistled.
Lobelia elbowed him in the side. “Must be a lot to do, would you like me to stay and help? Thirteen people are coming right?”
“Mahal, there are.” Ro laughed, bouncing her niece on her hip. “It’s going to be crowded! I’d love the help. Especially the food prep.”
“Consider it done,” Lobelia smiled.
“Thanks again for agreeing to look after the place for me. Once we’ve settled in Erebor again, I’ll send word and you can send my stuff on it’s way, then the deed is yours.”
Caspian and Lobelia glanced at each other.
Lobelia chewed her lip. “It’s just… are you certain you want to leave the Shire… permanently?”
Ro sighed. “I love it here, you know I do. But the mountains are my home. They always have been. I grew up on the stories of Erebor and of the vast lands that surround it. It’s my home.”
Caspian nodded. “You’ll always have a place here, with us. Just so you know.”
“I know.” Ro pressed a chaste kiss to Caspian’s cheek. “I’ll come back and visit. Well,” she grinned. “I’ll visit Lobelia and Rosie at least.” She looked at her little niece and bumped her forehead gently. “Boys are gross!”
“Yucky!” Rosie shrieked.
Caspian sighed and Lobelia giggled.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Lobelia asked as they prepared the meal for the dwarrow.
“What do you mean?” Ro narrowed her eyes in confusion.
“I mean… you haven’t seen… THEM in ten years. You’ve only written to them. I know you’ve been… trying to sort out your feelings.”
Besides her grandfather and grandmother, Lobelia was the only one who knew about Ro’s dreams. She was the only one who knew the full extend of them and Ro’s own suspicions though.
“I just don’t want you to be hurt.” Lobelia reaches out and took Ro’s hand in hers. “You’re my best friend and it’s been torture to watch you tear yourself apart over it.” Ro knew she was speaking, in part, of the first time Ro had cried in front of Lobelia, when she first began to think her feelings for Fíli were hopeless.
“I know. I’m okay.” Lobelia squeezed her hand. “Really. Völva is Völva and I am me. There’s… a difference. It’s not much, but there’s a difference. I am my own person. I shouldn’t have to wait around for some prince to find me. Mahal knows they're probably stuck in a tree somewhere.”
“We’ll just get through this quest and I’ll see where this goes. Like you said, I haven’t seen them in ten years. We’ve all changed.”
“Caspian was speaking for both of us when he said you’d always be welcomed here,” Lobelia insisted. “You’re family. The annoying sister we both wished we had.”
Ro rolled her eyes. “You already have sisters.”
“That’s why I added annoying.”
Ro scoffed and blew some flour into Lobelia’s face.
“Mum! Da!” Ro threw her arms around her parents.
Dwalin swept both her and Nori up in his arms and showered kisses upon Ro’s face. “You’ve grown, bunnanunê.”
Ro giggled as he put them down. “So have you! I suppose mum hasn’t been cooking lately?”
Nori rolled her eyes and pressed a kiss to her daughter’s temple. “We’ve missed you.”
Ro pressed her forehead to her mum’s. “I missed you too.” She smiled. “Come in! Come in! Help me set the table for everyone. Is Thorin coming with anyone or is he going to get lost so he’ll make a dramatic entrance?”
Dwalin threw back his head and barked out a laugh. “I’ll tell him you said that. But he’s coming late, meeting with some of the lords to see if any are going to join us.”
Ro nodded and they set out to make room for everyone. Ro might be stronger than other hobbits, but that didn’t mean she could lift furniture around as well as her parents could. Soon another knock came to the door.
“I got it!” Ro rushed to the entryway and opened the door. “Uncle Balin!” She rushed to hug him quickly.
“Hello, nadadnathith,” he squeezed her back. “It’s been too long. Now look at you, at your majority for a second time. No doubt your da had to fight his way in here with all the boys you’re attracting.”
Ro rolled her eyes affectionately before placing a kiss on his cheek. “Come inside. Mum and Da are here and helping setting everything together.”
Balin came in and began to help his brother and sister-in-law, catching up since they hadn’t seen each other in a while as well. Ro began setting the plates and then they all started to put the food together.
There was another knock. “I’ll get it!”
Ro opened the door and found the two dwarrow she was truly the most nervous to see again. And of course they would come together.
Fíli looked every bit the prince that he had been last that she’d seen him. The little girl that Ro had been so many decades ago would have melted right on the spot with the gentle smirk he was giving her. His blond hair was kept and just as long as she remembered it. He had a braid to show he was a master smith just like his uncle. He had a braid to show his status as the heir under Thorin. His beard was short, almost like Thorin’s but his mustache was grown and he had two neat braids to keep it sharp. His blue eyes were just as bright as ever. Lion prince indeed.
Kíli had changed a little. His beard was close shave with mostly stubble sprinkling his chin and cheeks and neck. He had told her it was because it helped with his bow. Ro had to agree with him. She doubted shooting an arrow would be easy if she had to think of a beard, not that she was able to grow one. He kept his face stern, but she could see a gleam of mischief in his brown eyes. She could almost imagine the wolffish grin he was trying to suppress.
The two gave her a mocked bow in unison. “At your service.”