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The Singer: Fire and Ice

By mjones1206

Romance / Fantasy

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Eirian Sayer was known throughout Middle Earth as "The Singer". She travelled, never settling in one place, sometimes staying a few months, sometimes only a few days. She was kind and friendly to those she met, but no-one knew anything about her. All they knew was she had a love for singing, and sing she did. Her voice was not as beautiful, or elegant as that of the Elves, but it had a rich, undulating quality that made people stop, and listen. Standing at 4"6, she was tiny, but she remained cheerful. Her deep red hair was nearly always braided, two plaits around her forehead, meeting at the back to form one, thick braid. She had an angular face, with high cheekbones and thin brows. Her storm grey eyes were always watchful, but the light in them made them warm, rather than cold. A pendant rested at the base of her throat, in the shape of a dagger. She dressed in black and whites: black breeches, black leather boots, a white corseted top and a black cloak. Her cloak was clasped with a golden brooch in the shape of a round shield, a bow and arrows in front of it. It signalled the peoples she belonged to – and they were not common in Middle Earth.

(*)

Eirian was silent as she made her way through the Shire. She had been staying there for two weeks now, relaxing and getting her strength back. She had travelled far, and both her and her pony, Cade, were tired. The Hobbits had been very accommodating, and loved to hear tales of her travels, and were more than happy when she joined in their songs.

She was on her way to the stables to check on Cade when she noticed a person up ahead on the path. He was taller than her (which wasn't difficult) but he seemed much taller than the Hobbits. As she got closer, she caught sight of a thick mane of hair and a short beard. Braids swung from both hair and beard, and as he turned at the sound of her soft steps, she caught sight of a flash of steel. She studied him, not minding he was staring at her curiously. He was at least four inches taller than her, and was well built. Clear blue eyes looked back at her from underneath a strong brow, and set above a straight nose. Eirian was pulled from her observations by his clearing of his throat.

"Excuse me, m'lady. I seem to be lost, and was wondering if you could tell me the way to Mr Baggins' home."

Eirian tilted her head to the side slightly, considering for a moment. She knew he was a Dwarf and she was curious as to what a Dwarf wanted with Bilbo. From what Eirian had seen over the course of her stay, Bilbo was a quiet, kindly Hobbit, albeit slightly strange. Nevertheless, Eirian nodded and beckoned him to follow her. She didn't speak at all as she led him to Bilbo's home. Frankly, he had an imposing air that made her slightly nervous. She did not fear him, but she was more wary of him than other Dwarves she had encountered.

They finally drew up outside Bilbo's gate, and Eirian waved him through. The Dwarf nodded in thanks and made his way up the short path, knocking three times on the round door. Eirian watched, wanting to make sure he was accepted in to Bilbo's home. The door swung open, and Eirian's jaw almost dropped, for there was Gandalf, bending down to see out the door, beside Bilbo. Where she was standing, the Dwarf was blocking her from view so Eirian quietly crept up behind him, slipping through after him before the door was closed.

"Gandalf. I thought you said this place would be easy to find. I lost my way…twice. I had to ask for help from a lady. I would not have trusted her if it were not for the mark on the door."

Eirian was still hidden from most of everyone's view but two young looking Dwarves had noticed her. She pressed a finger to her lips and they grinned, nodding to tell her they understood. She heard Bilbo cry out about the mark on his door and then Gandalf spoke, sounding amused and annoyed at the same time.

"There is a mark; I put it there myself. Bilbo Baggins, allow me to introduce the leader of our Company, Thorin Oakenshield."

Eirian stared at the back of the Dwarf with wide eyes. Thorin Oakenshield? She stepped back, colliding with the door. The thud attracted attention and Thorin stepped aside, revealing Eirian.

"Eirian, my dear! I should have known it was you who lead Thorin here."

She smiled weakly at Gandalf, glancing round at the gathered Dwarves. There were at least thirteen, including Thorin. She swallowed heavily, relieved when Thorin turned his attention to Bilbo.

"So, this is the Hobbit. Tell me, Mr Baggins, have you done much fighting? Axe or sword? What's your weapon of choice?"

Bilbo looked terrified as Thorin paced around him, sizing him up, and Eirian felt an irrational surge of anger at the imposing Dwarf. Couldn't he see how scared he was making the Hobbit?

"Well, I have some skill at Conkers, if you must know, but I fail to see why that's relevant."

Eirian smiled at his answer; typical Hobbit fashion.

"Thought as much. Looks more like a grocer than a burglar."

The Dwarves laughed, but the petite lady did not miss the scorn in Thorin's voice. She stepped forward, and pointedly ignored Thorin as she hugged Bilbo. He returned it, a little surprised, but a wide grin spread across his face as Eirian whispered in his ear. They both let out snorts of laughter as they glanced at Thorin. He shot them a hard look and Eirian bit her lip as she struggled to contain herself. Gandalf raised an eyebrow, shaking his head as they all disappeared in to the dining room. Eirian wandered in to the living room, sinking in to a chair by the fire. After a moment, Bilbo appeared, offering her food, but she waved him off with a small smile. She had eaten…in a manner of speaking. She could hear the Dwarves speaking, but she paid no attention, instead staring in to the fire. Something had been bothering her for a few days, but she hadn't been able to figure out what. It was as if something was watching her, but every time she turned to see it, it disappeared. A shiver ran up her spine and she shook her head, trying to dispel the thoughts. Her head jerked up as Bilbo spoke, sounding curious.

"You're going on a quest?"

It took Eirian a moment to figure he wasn't speaking to her. He was addressing the Dwarves. Gandalf caught her eye over his shoulder, and she stood, padding softly over to stand next to Bilbo.

"Bilbo, my dear fellow, let us have a little more light."

Gandalf spoke, laying out a map he had pulled from his pocket. Bilbo carried a candle over, illuminating the map.

"Far to the East, over ranges and rivers, beyond woodlands and wastelands, lies a single solitary peak."

Eirian stared at the map, tears suddenly springing to her eyes.

"The Lonely Mountain."

Bilbo read from the map, voice getting more intrigued.

"Erebor."

Eirian whispered the word so quietly, she was sure no-one had heard her. She looked to her right to see Thorin staring at her, blue eyes blazing with something she couldn't identify. She knew that she had said the word with love, longing, pain, but how could she explain its meaning to her to Thorin? She looked away, suddenly realising a conversation had been going on. With an effort, she pulled her mind back to the present in time to hear Bilbo ask what beast inhabited the mountain. A Dwarf in a hat spoke up, sounding much too cheerful for the topic.

"Well, that would be a reference to Smaug the Terrible, chiefest and greatest calamity of our age. Airborne fire-breather, teeth like razors, claws like meat-hooks, extremely fond of precious metals – "

The Hobbit cut him off, sounding annoyed.

"Yes, I know what a Dragon is."

Eirian let out a soft sigh as a Dwarf jumped up. Here we go, she thought.

"I'm not afraid! I'm up for it. I'll give him a taste of the Dwarfish iron right up his jacksie!"

He was pulled down amid shouting from several other Dwarves. There was a momentary lull and Eirian spoke for the first time to the Dwarves.

"You should be afraid. You don't look old enough to have been there when Erebor was taken, so you do not know the chaos and bloodshed that Dragon wreaked. If you are going to do what I think you are, you need to be very afraid. Your task will be difficult enough with an army behind you. As it is, you number just thirteen, and from what I've observed and heard just now, not thirteen of the brightest."

Uproar followed her words, but Eirian held her ground. Gandalf nodded at her, a glint in his eyes that Eirian knew all too well. Finally, the din died down and one of the younger Dwarves spoke up. He was blonde, a colour not too common in Dwarves. He was quite handsome but looked too young. The Dwarf beside him shared the same facial features as him, but slightly more delicate, and he was brunette instead of blonde. Eirian surmised they were brothers.

"We may be few in number, but we're fighters, all of us, to the last Dwarf!"

Eirian raised an eyebrow, and his brother spoke next, pride and arrogance in his voice.

"And you forget, we have a wizard in our Company! Gandalf will have killed hundreds of Dragons in his time!"

Eirian let out a bark of laughter and turned away, walking out of the dining room. She didn't want to hear anymore. She didn't turn back when yet another uproar ensued nor did she turn back when she heard the baritone voice of Thorin making a speech. Eirian stood before the front door, debating whether or not to leave.

She knew what they were trying to do; with Thorin Oakenshield as their leader, what else would they be doing? Eirian wanted to be part of their quest. Erebor was close to her heart as well, although for different reasons, and she could hardly divulge those. They probably wouldn't believe her – after all, she had only set foot in Erebor a handful of times, and those were in secrecy. A smile spread across her face as she remembered the reason for her secret visits. She could see his face as clear as day in her mind, but the smile faded as she remembered his fate. He was gone now. They had spent so much energy in keeping their relationship a secret, that when he had…gone, she had been left by herself to deal with the near over-whelming grief. Eirian had only just managed to move on, and she wondered whether journeying to Erebor to get it back from Smaug would open up old wounds.

Her internal battle was interrupted by a loud thud. She whipped round, on the defensive, but relaxed as she saw Bilbo lying on the floor, in a dead faint. Her lips twitched in amusement as a huge Dwarf scooped him up and set him on a chair by the fire. A second later, she heard Gandalf calling her name. Slowly, she trudged back to the dining room, keeping her eyes down. She stood before the wizard, shifting from foot to foot, knowing that curious gazes were being sent her way.

"Do you still have it?"

She looked up, confused. Gandalf was staring intently at her, wise eyes searching her face.

"Do I still have what? I do not exactly have many possessions."

The wizard chuckled softly before speaking.

"I was referring to the necklace he gave you the eve of his departure to Aule's halls."

Eirian stared at him in shock, hand drifting up to her throat. There, nestled under clothes, was the gift he had given her. A diamond, shaped like a rose, hung from a delicate silver chain. It was her most prized possession, after her dagger pendant.

"You know I do. Why ask such a thing?"

Her voice was hoarse with emotion, and she swallowed the lump in her throat.

"It may help them to trust you more if they realised who you were. Especially Thorin."

Eirian's eyes blazed with an emotion that Gandalf knew all too well. He merely puffed on his pipe, hoping she would see the logic in it, but she shook her head, hand dropping to her side.

"If anything, it will make Mr Oakenshield hate me all the more."

Her voice was hard, and her eyes flashed. A cough made her turn around, and Thorin stood there. She had the grace to look slightly embarrassed but it didn't last for long before her neutral mask slipped in to place.

"It seems as if you have a connection with Erebor?"

It was posed as a question, but Eirian knew it was a statement. She nodded, and Thorin looked thoughtful.

"Can you fight?"

Again, she nodded, a small smile curving her lips up. Thorin took it to mean she had seen her fair share of fights and battles.

"What is your weapon of choice?"

She paused before answering, her grey eyes focused on his blue ones.

"Bow and arrow, but I carry a sword as well. I also have several daggers on my person at all times."

Thorin raised an eyebrow, mildly surprised at how much weaponry she carried. She was such a tiny thing, he wondered how she carried it all.

"I do not see them with you now."

She scoffed, looking amused.

"I hardly need to carry them in the Shire. I would frighten the Hobbits. My sword and bow and arrows are with my mount, Cade."

The Dwarf King nodded, and again, that thoughtful expression fell across his face. In the ensuing silence, Eirian noticed that Gandalf had slipped away, and was talking with Bilbo, who was still sitting by the fire. She looked at him for a moment; did he really have it in him to be the burglar this Company needed? Gandalf seemed to think that he was capable of it, and since Eirian trusted him with her life, she trusted his judgement.

"If you were a man, I would ask you to join us on our quest."

Eirian returned her attention to Thorin, who had spoken. She stared at him incredulously. He didn't look the least bit shame-faced or awkward.

"You think women are not capable of holding their own?"

Her voice dripped with ice, and her eyes were as cold as her tone. A lesser man than Thorin Oakenshield would have quailed under the look she was giving him, but as it was, he merely shook his head.

"It is a long and arduous journey we will be under-taking. I cannot constantly be looking out for one member. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and we need to be as strong as possible."

This time, Eirian's jaw did drop at his harsh words. She quickly closed it, and she itched to slap him, hard, but refrained.

"How can you be related to…."

She trailed off, biting her lip. She had almost revealed her connection to Erebor. Stupid, stupid mistake! Her promise to her loved one echoed in her mind:

"I promise you, my love, I will help to get your home back, even if it kills me. I will protect your family as much as I can."

She had done at least half of her promise. She had kept a close eye on the Dwarves of Erebor when they had been homeless. During that period, she stayed close, seeing off any threats but never making herself known to them. The only time she had almost been seen was when she had been by her beloved's side, holding him as he passed. She had cried, briefly, but had had to slip out of the Healing tent to avoid detection. She had stayed close until they had settled in the Blue Mountains. Then, she had been off again, travelling far and wide. To reveal who she was to Thorin now would be disastrous.

"Related to whom?"

Eirian sighed, and ran a hand down her face.

"I am sure you do not want to hear what I have to say. After all, I am just a woman. My opinions are nothing to you, are they not? I wish you well on your quest, Thorin Oakenshield. Do not do anything foolish."

With that, she bowed stiffly and turned. She did not say goodbye to Gandalf or Bilbo. It would be best if she slipped away quietly. She reached the door and glanced over her shoulder just once. Thorin had not moved, and he was staring after her. She met his piercing gaze for just a second and then opened the door and stepped out in to the night. Eirian sighed, looking up at the stars for a moment. It was time for her to move on again.

(*)

Hello, my lovely people! Since my LOTR fanfic has come to an end (*sob*) I thought that a Hobbit fanfic would be in order.

Now, a few things. I am not entirely sure where this story is going at the moment, or whether you want it to continue based on this chapter. If enough people like it, then I will try my hardest to keep it going. I know that some people don't like when the movie transcript is used, but sometimes, it is necessary for the conversation trees I want to use. Oh, and please, please, please, alert me if my character starts to veer towards becoming a Mary-Sue. For those that followed the LOTR story, you will recognise the type of character: strong, no-nonsense woman. Heck yeah! However, Eirian does have weaknesses so look out for those! Wow, this was a long AN, so I'm going to go!

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