Beyond the Shire

A Last Glance of Home

By the time the fire went out and the stars twinkled brilliantly overhead, each Hobbit and dwarf alike nodded their heads in sleep. They had talked into the night, telling stories of the past and discussing the rumors that snaked their way even through the Shire. Hobbits usually took no concern of the goings on outside of their own comfortable home, but there were travelers that occasionally told tales that even the most unsociable of their kind had to pay attention to. They brought ill news of dark times and told of the shadow of Mirkwood returning to the land it once hung over before. Some had seen stirrings in the wood that were unexplainable in their wickedness. All of these accounts old Gandalf could not bring himself to dispel.

The morning soon brought its tidings of sunshine and brisk air. There was a stir about in the kitchen as Bilbo was the first to wake, and he was busy preparing breakfast for his guests. A platter of breads, eggs, cheeses, meats, and small fruits decorated his table, and coffee brewed so strong in his pot that the smell penetrated even the furthest rooms in the house. He had made up his mind in giving his niece a proper breakfast.

Gandalf had taken great precaution in rising early and searching about the Shire to find a pony that would suit Ísbel, since she was too small to climb up the full height of a horse. He had managed to go almost full circle until he came to old Gamgee and his son Sam, who was helping his father work in the front garden. There he found a nice black pony that Gaffer was more than willing to loan to him because his stable was quite full. Her name was Prance, and she would last a long way; she was fed and looked after beautifully. He had brought her to the front gate and tied her round it by the time Bilbo finished breakfast and the rest of the party had woken.

Ísbel sat at the table in between the two brothers Fili and Kili, while Bilbo perplexedly fiddled with the handle of one of his coffee pots, which had been broken. Gandalf sat for a bit at the table and took to smoking his pipe and gazing at the map he once again produced from his robes before deciding that it was a particularly good time for them to depart on their journey.

“This girl is now yours,” Gandalf smiled fondly at Ísbel, patting the pony tied around the fence gate, “and you must take good care of her. I believe she’s been spoiled by the Gamgees. Her name is Prance.”

She gaped at the pony for a second, before turning to thank Gandalf. Not once before had she been able to do more than look at those that old farmers down the road kept in their barns. She had always found horses to be delicate and beautiful creatures and had at many times taken old scraps of parchment out with her on walks so she could draw them. She then noticed two other ponies- one dark brown and the other one tan- tied up to the gate as well, accompanied by a white horse who grazed freely on the patch of grass around Bilbo’s mailbox.

“Well up you go!” Kili exclaimed, and suddenly she found herself being lifted up by the dwarf. He put a strong arm around her back and one under her legs to hoist her onto the pony, and she couldn’t help but feel a tinge of embarrassment reach her cheeks. She wasn’t quite used to receiving help from men, especially handsome ones at that. But her thoughts were washed away when she realized it was time to say goodbye to her uncle.

“I’ll miss your presence terribly,” Bilbo sighed, running his fingers through Prance’s mane, “But you deserve your own experiences as I’ve had mine I suppose, and it’s not likely for you to find any here in the Shire.”

“She’ll learn more than a thing or two out there with us,” Fili toothily grinned down at Bilbo from his horse. Kili nodded in agreement and Gandalf mounted his white steed, swinging his staff up with him.

“I hope you keep the old Hobbit hole well until I return,” Ísbel smiled, “I know I’m in good hands.”

And with that, the last of the goodbyes were said and their journey began.

The sun had taken to the center of the sky and beat down on the riders, soaking through their clothes. It was certainly welcome since the January temperature called for heavy cloaks and scarves. Gandalf rode at the front of the pack silently in thought, while Ísbel rode behind wedged between Fili and Kili.

“Where do you suppose we’re off to first?” Ísbel asked the brothers. Gandalf had not directly told them where they would be headed and in what order. He was proving to be especially vague about the whole business.

Fili raised an eyebrow, as if he did not even know himself where the wizard planned to take them, “He had made a mention of Elrond and Rivendell, but has not told us what to expect. We only know that we need to seek out our matters in Minas Tirith.” It was all rather queer, going somewhere and not quite knowing exactly where.

“I would suppose he would want us to meet with Elrond,” Kili agreed, “he helped us a great deal when we were traveling with your uncle Bilbo.”

“Indeed we are on a path to visit the elven King, he knows of our perils ahead and can only give us great advice,” Gandalf peered back at them, “Besides, Aragorn himself might be found yet before we reach Minas Tirith.”

He did not speak again. Instead, Ísbel was made all to aware of the silence that fell over the outcroppings of the Shire, and of the features of her companions. She hardly knew anything of the two dwarves riding beside her, let alone had she any real knowledge of the dwarven race.

“Fili and Kili, where are you exactly from?” Ísbel asked, breaking the silence. The brothers exchanged a glance.

“We are of the line of Durin from Erebor, the Kingdom Under the Mountain, and we were members of the company your uncle once traveled in,” Kili stated, tugging at the reins of his horse. She scrunched her eyebrows and tried to remember the dwarves Bilbo had told her of, but she could not remember because at the time all of the names he mentioned sounded too much alike. “I am surprised he has not made a mention of us to you.”

“Oh he has,” she corrected, “I could just not remember the names from the couple of times he told his stories to me. He has tried to keep me sheltered from the outside world for most of my life. He would usually go on about how his adventures had brought great knowledge, but with a great deal of trouble he didn’t wish for.”

“And how old are you?” Fili sent her a curious glance.

“Not shy of sixty.”

“Ah, ten years older when Bilbo started on his journey. You’re still young,” he commented.

“And how old are my companions?”

“Seventy-seven,” Kili mused, his dark eyes turning to study her again.

“Eighty-nine,” Fili laughed, “and we still haven’t seen a greater adventure than our quest to reclaim Erebor.”

Kili suddenly changed the subject, after he had finished studying his new companion. “You are odd of a Hobbit,” he stated pointedly, “Your feet are small and you are quite... small.”

Ísbel scoffed and cut him a look. Odd? She was already only an hour or two into their journey and her companions were handing out insults.

“He means you’re rather fair for a Hobbit,” Fili covered, shooting his brother a grin.

By this time, they were nearing a place around the edge of the Shire called Woodhall, where Gandalf had remarked they would be meeting some others that would be joining them for the rest of the way. How many more were joining, he did not say, but she knew that they would probably not be of her race. And when they reached the small inn they would be staying at for the night, she was not surprised to see a company of more than just two dwarves sitting around the table.
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Once again, I can't thank you guys enough for the subs + comments + recs!

I'm dragging the beginning out I know, but when I finally finish introducing these characters we'll get into the thick of it. In the mean time, if you're looking for an excellent Kili/OC I've been reading this on and off for the past couple of days, and it's FABULOUS. I love it.