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Tea With A Dragon Would Be More Palatable Than This. Or, The One Where Bilbo Gives Thranduil A Telling Off.

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Thorin scowled as the elves took away his weapons.

He sent a proud glance Fili’s way when he saw just how many knives he had managed to hide upon his person. Then he frowned when the elves managed to find every single one and confiscate it.

Dam.

“Get your hands off my chest!” An indignant shout reached his ears and Thorin felt the urge to either duck and run for cover (Dis had honed certain reactions into him when he heard her use that tone of voice) or to watch avidly from the side.

(And possibly pity the elves...they had no idea what they were up against. Miss Bilbo Baggins was not one to be trifled with.)

He turned, along with most of the company to see an abashed looking elf and their burglar standing there, her hands on her hips, managing to cow a being twice her height and more likely ten times her age.

“Enough of this. Take away any weapons she may possess.” Another elf ordered the ashamed looking elf.

Bilbo merely glowered. The elf took a step back.

“I’m needed elsewhere.” He called back as he ran off. Coward. Thorin glanced at Bilbo's mutinous expression and took a strategic step back.

The elf who had ordered Bilbo’s weapons be taken simply sighed and moved over to the Halfling himself.

“You can try your luck but I assure you I travel with no weapons attached to my person. Dreadfully nasty things, weapons. You could cut yourself! And then where would you be? Late for dinner that’s what.” Bilbo sniffed and Thorin was almost taken in by her act. Almost.

He half wondered if her prissiness really was an act before remembering that she had hardly complained when they got mud stained and soaked, she had just appreciated the opportunity to bathe.

She had whined less than Dwalin, who had been worried about his precious axes rusting.

The elf however, just coolly reached over and plucked the dagger sitting in Bilbo’s hood. Face blank. He hadn’t believed her for a second.

Bilbo’s eyes widened with surprise.

“How did that get there?! It could have sliced my neck open! I mean, it is very impractical to have a weapon in a hood! How are you supposed to reach for it? And it wasn’t very well hidden...I do wonder how it got there...”

Again the elf expressionlessly reached over and pulled a knife from her hair.

“That? That isn’t a weapon! That’s to cut my hair. Do you know how irksome long hair is when you travel? Completely horrendous that’s what and braids don’t keep it out of the way properly.”

Thorin was almost impressed. Almost.

The elf casually undid Bilbo’s thick coat. Amidst many affronted protests from Bilbo about de-clothing a lady without permission.

Thorin snorted but covered it as a cough. If Bilbo was a lady then Kili was the cleverest dwarf ever born.

Bilbo kept on her blithe denial of ever touching a weapon while the cool faced elf methodically plucked, unstitched and poked weapons out one by one.

Thorin stared at the steadily increasing pile of tools.

How-

What-

Where?!?

Even her belt was a sling, for Mahal’s sake!

Her earings, little diamond studs-easy to dismiss, unfolded into something not unlike a needle.

She had knives smaller than Thorin’s pinky finger sewn into every crevice in her coat, the beads in her hair all either unfolded into something or had a vial of something Thorin assumed was poison in. There were strong needles, not used for sewing, here and there, the fancy embroidery of her waistcoat hid numerous things, Thorin didn’t even want to guess what they were for.

There were little wooden boxes in waterproof leather pouches in the ruffles of her shirt, her second belt had weapons on the inside as well as a buckle that Thorin was sure was several lock picks sewn to work as a buckle but still usable as lock picks.

Thorin wasn’t the only staring mouth agape.

Nori was watching the hobbit lass with hooded eyes and - that was already more detail than Thorin ever wanted to know.

Even the elf lost his cool expression and began staring at Bilbo as though she was a star fallen to Middle Earth. Or maybe an Oliphant. Something along those lines.

The scarf like thing Bilbo used to keep her hair restrained was taken once the hooks were discovered, the knives (more knives?!?) and dried leaves.

Her cloak had long since been taken and was being shaken out by another gobsmacked elf.

The pile of weapons was now nearly at the same height of Bilbo and they were still going.

“You know they could have just fallen there, I mean conkers grow around these parts? Don’t they? They should. Anyway, most of these are either ornamental or used for sewing, have you seen the embroidery on this jacket? It needs constant upkeep to stay properly neat, you can’t walk around with subpar embroidery on your person, it just sends the wrong message.

Do take care with that, when I get it back I want it in perfect condition, my mother gifted it to me, to keep my feet hair nice and clean on trips like this. She was an amazing woman my mother and she would be very disappointed that her beloved daughter was being treated so rudely...”

Thorin tuned her out. Mahal, could she talk about the most inconsequential things.

The pile was still growing!?!?

It was as her necklace (it looked like a simple leather thong) was taken when it happened.

“You’ll need to remove your clothes. I don’t trust you not to hide something in the seam.” The elf ordered, eyes still a little wide from the sheer amount of weapons.

It was almost enough metal to forge a full set of armour for their entire company.

“Excuse me, what did you say?” Bilbo asked incredulously.

The dwarfs closest to Bilbo attempted to shift away from her, forgoing discretion in order to get out of her way.

“That was not a request.” The elf said staring Bilbo down. Well, attempting to stare Bilbo down.

Thorin had no idea how exactly she did it, being little more than half the elf’s height, but suddenly Bilbo had the unfortunate elf’s ear in her little hand and twisted.

It was hard to say which emotion dominated the elf’s face then, befuddlement or pain.

He was forced to his knees while Bilbo held his ear tightly in her little grip and brought his face level to hers.

“Now, let me get this straight. You expect me, a lady of the Shire and granddaughter of the Thain - the chief in effect; to bare myself in front of an elven guard, thirteen dwarrows and whoever else wants to jolly along this pleasant hallway?”

Well, when put like that...

Thorin did not feel pity for that elf. Not at all.

No, he was highly amused. Really.

“And then you expect to what? Search me? You know I heard such grand tales of the fair folk. Were all those ‘great deeds’ just stories, myths? Is the valour of elves a thing of the past? Does this sound like something you let happen to, or tolerate even, your sister? Your mother? Aunt? Cousin? Wife?”

With those particularly cutting remarks out of the way, Bilbo’s face softened slightly and she let go of the elf’s ear.

“No, of course not. I’ll be having my coat back now. And my boots, scarf, belt and gloves.”

Thorin blinked as she was handed the items without complaint.

Didn’t the elves realise she didn’t wear boots? Or that she hadn’t come in with gloves? And why was she being allowed to take a cloak? That wasn’t hers, Thorin might add!

The elves that guided them to the cells were even more silent than before and they stayed clear of Bilbo.

Bilbo in contrast, was all smiles and sweetness as she was gently led to a cell (larger than the rest of theirs, Thorin noticed with discontent) and locked up by an elf that almost seemed fearful of Bilbo.

“Have I told you how much I love you?” Nori asked once the elves were out of earshot.

Thorin blinked as he watched Nori lean out of his cell and look directly at Bilbo a charming smile on his face. He looked besotted. Bilbo winked.

Sweet Mahal, did he really have to watch this?

“Of course Rori bear...but I do like to hear so again.” Bilbo simpered.

Dear Mahal.

“Why my dear Nilbo, I could wax poetical about you for hours, serenading you from your cell.” Nori fluttered his eyelashes.

Please, Mahal, if you have any mercy, strike them down.

It wasn’t long later, less than an hour (but more than enough time to get sickened of the two thieves of their group flirting, honestly weren’t there better times for that? Like when they weren’t stuck in Mirkwood in cells? Okay, okay, so when they were somewhere Thorin couldn’t see, like halfway across the known earth? Please?) when elves-other than the guards- came down unlocking Thorin’s cell and strangely enough Bilbo’s.

There was an outcry as he and their burglar were led away to...somewhere.

Thorin walked in stately silence, refusing to be rushed by those ridiculously straight haired idiots.

He heard chatter behind him and a muffled chuckle. He took a brief glance back and resisted the urge to bang his head against a rock until the world made sense again.

(He couldn’t leave Fili as heir to the throne.)

The same elf Bilbo had cowed earlier was chatting along with Bilbo as merry as you please, as though she hadn’t humiliated him in front of his squad. As though she hadn’t given him a verbal lashing. As though she hadn’t pinched his ear.

(Which was still bright red, by the way.)

Thorin watched, disbelievingly, as one by one the guards fell for Bilbo’s charm, joining in the lively conversation on flowers of all things.

Now, if they had been talking about axes, or swords, or a properly lit forge then he could understand. But they were talking about flowers.

And not even toxic ones. Pretty ones.

Thorin was almost relieved by the time they reached the throne room. Almost.

They were led up to the throne (not nearly as pretentious-ahem, not nearly as magnificent as Thrór’s in Thorin’s humble opinion).

Why did Thrór and Thranduil insist on such ostentatious thrones to meet people in anyway? It wasn’t like they were comfortable (quite the opposite) and intimidation wasn’t really worth all the stuttering and stammering of awed idiots.

Thorin frowned. When had he begun to dislike things from Erebor? The mere thought of his home usually inspired almost reverential feelings. He supposed it was sometime between losing his home and having to work to simply feed his sister-sons.

Suddenly a lot of the frippery of court seemed unimaginably unnecessary.

One of the needless tapestries in Thorin’s old chambers in Erebor could have been sold to feed a small family for a year, at least.

He soon forgot all those distracting thoughts when he came face to face with the elven king.

He felt better after he had had his say, even if Thranduil did get hissy with him and show him his true face with a burn bigger than Thorin’s head marring it.

Thorin would have laughed at the obvious blow to the ‘perfect’ elven kings ego...if it hadn’t been caused by a dragon.

Dam elves. Always taking the joy out of things.

“Ahem.” A quiet voice said to the side. Thorin closed his eyes.

The elven king took his eyes away from Thorin (and they were almost creepily intense) and turned to the only female member of their group.

“Pardon me if I am interrupting, but I wanted to express my thanks on the particularly excellent lodging you have allowed us, so generously, to stay in during our visit. Why, it almost matches up with the rooms Lord Elrond gifted us with...I’m afraid it isn’t quite as nice as the suite he offered me when he asked me to stay in Rivendell, but then few things are. I’m sure you agree. Anyway, thank you, I’m sure we couldn’t ask for better.”

Thorin opened his eyes. Wow. How many different things had she managed to imply in that innocent sounding speech?

If only the dwarf council had half as smooth a tongue as Bilbo, then the meetings would be a lot swifter and more productive.

Maybe Bilbo could be enticed to stay in Erebor when they recovered it?

Thorin dismissed the thought. He couldn’t deal with even more headaches.

Thranduil’s face worked and Thorin mentally congratulated Bilbo on managing to get under the elven kings skin.

He didn’t care if this made things worse for them, all that mattered at the moment was enacting a little revenge on the elf who had turned away his ailing dwarves once Smaug had taken over Erebor.

Even if it had to be passive aggressive revenge delivered by a hobbit.

“The iron work around the windows is particularly magnificent and I can see how you all thrive in such abundant sunlight. And the beds...I’ve never felt softer!”

And still she went. She wielded sarcasm like Dwalin wielded Grasper and Keeper...only better and with far more grace.

Thranduil’s face pinked.

“What is your name, little one?” Thranduil asked sounding far more composed than Thorin had hoped for.

“Nilbo. Nilbo Dwaggins.” She lied without a twitch. Thorin was definitely impressed. No almost about it.

“Well then, Mrs Dwaggins, may I ask why you are travelling with thirteen dwarves?” Thranduil asked. Probably presuming Bilbo was married because she was travelling with a group of males.

Bilbo paused, mulling over the question. “You may.” She finally agreed, nodding her head regally as though bestowing upon Thranduil a large favour. Thranduil’s eye twitched.

The elven king waited for an answer and it was only when none came that he (and Thorin) realised the unintentional play on words.

“Why were you wandering around Mirkwood with dwarves?” Thranduil asked, sounding as though he was at the end of his patience.

Thorin could commiserate. He could, but he wouldn’t.

This was funny when he wasn’t the blunt object that Bilbo sharpened her tongue upon.

“We were lost.” She answered promptly.

Not a lie...

“Why did you enter the forest in the first place?”

“We were being chased.”

Again not a lie. But also not why they entered.

“But why were you near the forest in the first place?” Thranduil pushed.

“Ah! Well you see, this is a long story, well, my people, we call ourselves hobbits, come from a land a few months travel away. But our histories tell of a time when we came from a land near to the Misty Mountains. I’m a historian, you see, so when the opportunity came I decided to travel along to see if I can find out anything else about the old stories, maybe legends in the area, or old settlements.”

Thorin blinked. He didn’t know if it was true or not but...it certainly sounded a likely tale.

“But why travel with thirteen dwarves?”

“Well you see, I am the granddaughter of the current Thain, chief of the Shire, and so couldn’t go without an escort! Especially along such a perilous long journey. An old family friend gathered everyone up and agreed to be my...bodyguards for the trip.”

Thorin almost bristled. He was not a bodyguard for hire!

Thranduil seemed to be considering the ton of horse droppings Bilbo was feeding him. Again Thorin had to applaud (and in the depths of his mind, fear) the deviousness of one Bilbo Baggins.

“I do not believe you have given me the whole truth. Take them back to the cells. We’ll see if a few weeks imprisonment will loosen their tongues.” Thranduil waved them away.

This time Bilbo walked next to Thorin but still talked merrily with the guards.

“Have you mapped the route?” A voice whispered in his ear. Thorin resisted the urge to flinch back.

Bilbo might be a comely lass but he emphatically did not want her that close to him ever. Her lovely full figure was not worth the headaches she induced.

Then her words hit him. Mapped their-

Oh.

Um...

“Of course.” He answered, lying through his teeth.

She gave him a funny look then shook her head.

“Dam. I was hoping you’d ignored where we were walking. Your sense of direction is so terrible that if you tried to lead us through this warren without knowing the way then you might actually manage to lead us out.”

Thorin blinked. Then frowned. And then scowled.

He didn’t deign to respond to her (untrue! And completely illogical) comment.

“Good thing they didn’t get my best lockpicks.” She whispered, hot breath fanning his ear. Thorin would have been more comfortable sitting next to Smaug and sharing a pot of tea. Really.

(Where was she hiding them?)

They were thrust back into their cells, much to the relief of the dwarves waiting for them.

“Oh, Lori it was frightful! There is dust in the hallway!” Bilbo exclaimed from her cell. Thorin frowned. There certainly had not been dust on any of the paths. And why was she calling Nori ‘Lori’ now when she was calling him ‘Rori’ earlier?

“Oh dear. You want me to use Yilbo or Nilbo, dearest?”

“Yilbo definitely, Lori, definitely Yilbo. It's a Yilbo kind of day.”

“Well done.”

“I know. You catch the fly?”

“And you attract the spiders?”

“As always.”

Code? Were they speaking in code? Did that mean their sickening conversation earlier was a ruse?

Thorin wondered if that thought would make his remembrance of the conversation less nauseous. His stomach rolled. Nope. That settled it; Nori and Bilbo would have to find a different method of speaking in code. Something less cringe worthy.

He didn’t think his stomach could stand another lovey dovey speech even if it was pretend.

He hastily began examining the stone walls when the couple in question started making eyes at each other.

He was beginning to think the quest wasn't worth it.

Seriously.