Chapter 9: A Quest
"Goodnight, Lavender," he tells me, eyes already closed. Josie makes a tiny squeaking noise; I send a beady stare her way, one eye open, and she flutters her hand like a fan before her face.
'That was so cute,' she mouths; I throw her a smirk and close my eyes.
Josie's fumbling around the room in her hunt for something to watch on the laptop means that it is rather difficult to try and sleep; I hear her draw the curtains and start humming along with the theme tune of the show she has selected. Kili is surprisingly loud, too, thrashing left and right amongst the sheets in an attempt to get comfortable; when all falls quiet I find that I am, at last, able to relax.
Here goes nothing...
...The familiar lurch knocks me senseless, and I wake up back in the world that Kili was born into. The first thing I notice is a horrible crick in my neck; I massage it with my fingers, and realize that my temple is leant up against Kili's shoulder.
"Ah, she is awake, then!" calls a voice; I look up from rubbing my pained neck to see Fili stood there, naked down to his waist with what I can only presume is one of Bilbo's velvet curtains wrapped around his midriff. Well, that's a sight to see first thing in the morning. "Tell me, Miss Lavender, to you plan on leaning against my brother for the rest of the day, too? It's already nearing midday. We were planning on leaving at the break of dawn, but even the little Hobbit is still sleeping."
I sit up, flushing red. "You're rather naked," I say, looking away quickly, blushing even more now that I've become aware of my flushed cheeks.
"We went down to the river to bathe," Fili tells me, picking up a half-eaten plate of dry meat left over from last night and chewing on it, "I think we gave the women of the Shire quite a fright... particularly dear Bombur. Poor Ori was so embarrassed that he could not even get in the water."
I smile, and then realize with a tiny gasp that I 'm no longer wearing my mis-matched pajamas, but am dressed in the leggings and dress which I put on back at home.
"You've changed as well," Fili notes. He too seems a little surprised at my bare legs.
"Yeah," I tell him, still staring down at my clothing, "I guess I have."
"You are peculiar," he notes with a laugh, leaving the room. "Wake that brother of mine up, will you? Thorin wants to be out on the road within the hour."
With that, the shirtless Fili vanishes; I shake Kili lightly by the shoulders with no response. I suppose he's just not fallen asleep back in my room yet.
"Come on, sleeping beauty... it's morning time. Don't make me have to kiss you awake." Because I just might, I think maliciously, and watch him sleep a little while longer before realizing I am probably the biggest creep in the world right now and leaving him to sleep, hearing the sounds of the Dwarves in the kitchen. I hope to God that the rest of them won't be shirtless by the time I make my way in there.
My prayers are answered; I'm greeted with a round of 'Good morning!', a few horrified glances at my state of dress and a plate full of cheese being thrust into my hands by the erratic Bifur; I thank him and he mumbles merrily in Dwarvish, disappearing to Bilbo's tiny sink and proceeding to wash the crocks from last night.
"Best eat up, Lass," Bofur grins from the other side of the table, "you're going to need your strength for what's to come."
"What is to come?" I ask, subconsciously avoiding sitting in Thorin's seat again. Bofur laughs, and so do the others. "Well, the Wizard has told us that you're coming along with us.
I nod, suddenly very nervous; the feeling washes over me of a child being called into the head-master's office. As horrifying as Dragons and Orcs sound, I'd rather be out there facing them with these people I know and Gandalf's promise of helping me find some answers rather than being abandoned here with nowhere to go. I need to be on this quest, that much I know. So when Thorin Oakenshield returns to the Hobbit hole, I stand from my seat totally prepared; Gandalf enters with him, the expression on his face showing that he knows what is to come.
"Thorin," I say as clearly as I can manage; he glances at me darkly and I quickly add, "your Majesty."
He nods, beckoning me to continue, and sits down at the head of the table with his arms folded. The room goes quiet, the only sound Bombur chewing loudly on his cheese; Bofur nudges him sharply, and all falls to silence.
"I... I just wanted to say thank you for letting me tag along." Stellar performance there, Al.
Thorin's face stays expressionless. "You have the Wizard to thank for that."
"I still think it's a bad idea," Gloin growls in his rough way, "bringing a woman- nay, a girl- along. We already have a cook, what else could she do?"
"I'm sure Bombur wouldn't protest to another cook," Bofur offers lightly, "good food will surely bypass us out on the road; two hands are better than one."
"Yes, well, too many cooks spoil the broth," Gloin mutters.
"Oh, I don't know," quips Bofur, tipping his hat in my direction, "a little culinary expertise will go a long way out there on those freezing cold nights when not even a song can cheer our spirits; What sort of things can you cook?"
I roll my tongue and offer, "oh, you know... all sorts of things, really."
"What sorts of things?"
"Stuff... and, uh... things."
"Can you cook chips?" Ori asks me, and suddenly I'm inundated with a list of requests; roast potatoes, bread, but mainly meat, meat, meat. I nod along dimly, and Oin speaks up.
"But still," he booms in his thick voice, "she's only a wee thing. Not built for dealing with beasts and the like."
"I'm sure we can watch out for her between the thirteen of us," Fili says, sat to his uncle's right. "Shouldn't be too much trouble."
"More trouble than it's worth," Gloin balks. He looks to Gandalf. "Why'd you want to bring such a thing along in the first place, Gandalf?"
"That is my concern and nothing for the rest of you to worry about," Gandalf says. "I shall be responsible for her."
"It is already decided," Thorin says, ending the conversation with a firm glance. "I'll hear no more of it. The girl will come."
I nod awkwardly. "Thank you, sir."
Thorin barely acnowledges it; I can see by the look in his face that he is less than impressed with me tagging along. "Where is Kili?" he asks the group; no one responds, until Fili gestures to the living room. "Go and wake him, Ori."
Ori moves automatically at the request of their- or should I say our- leader, sweeping from the room in a bundle of woll and nervous energy.
I sit back down in my chair besides Bofur. He gives me an encouraging wink and I grin, eyes wide. I'm going on a quest... I'm going on the quest.
"Hope you're all set for some adventure," he grins, tapping my leg under the table; he must feel my cold skin there, because he hastens to add, "though you may need to change into something a little warmer. We've a long journey ahead."
Ori returns several minutes later with a face set in stone.
"Ori?" Nori calls to his little brother, "what's the matter with you, Lad? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Ori shuffles forwards, eyes wide.
"There's something wrong with Kili."
AN: Yeah... shamelessly threw shirtless Fili in there for my own visualizing pleasure. I REGRET NOTHING! *runs away*