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Title: Parchment & Mithril III
Author: Flakedice
Fandom (Hobbit/LOTR/SIL/crossover): Hobbit
Characters/pairings: Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield
Rating/warnings/etc: PG. Nothing worse than the book or the movies
Summary: Bilbo Baggins is not the Hobbit he used to be before taking off on his adventure. Lobelia knows he's hiding something.

Green Hills:

Parchment & Mithril III

Gorbo Sandyman hummed happily to himself as he strolled along the path from the Green Dragon, lantern hanging from his hand. Broken reflections of the lantern's gold glow flashed from the millpond as the path curved around it.

Stomach full of Briar Took's delicious fish pie and Gloriana Chubb's dark ale, Gorbo was content to wander home at his own pace. He was looking forward to some tea in front of the fire. Perhaps he would smoke a pipe before retiring.

He hummed along cheerfully, the path curving along the lake. It slowly rose, forking and rising to greet the Party Tree. Gorbo lifted his lantern, casting light up upon its branches as he passed. Rose Brandybuck and Tobias Cotton's smials were dark, their occupants gone to bed. Gorbo lowered his lantern, keeping the light low. Careful not to cast light into the darkened windows.

He passed the Gamgee smial, heading toward the path forking down towards the pond. It felt quieter here, more isolated, even though there were smials nearby. Hidden by the hills but there.

But with only the light of his lantern and the lonely road, it was somewhat spooky. Gorbo could almost imagine something lurking in the trees, watching. A fox, maybe. Some large dog slipped free from its kennel-.

Something large in the shadows moved.

Gorbo jumped in fright, shrinking back against the side of the path. The lantern swayed wildly in his fist, casting the light up and revealing a hobbit with a naked blade in his hand.

An alarmingly high pitched noise escaped him. Only to be choked back when he recognised the hobbit standing next to the path.

"Master Baggins!" Gorbo clutched a hand to his chest. "What are you doing out without a lantern?"

Master Baggins put the blade away. "Walking."

"Well now." Gorbo fidgeted, his hand wrinkling and unwrinkling his shirtfront. He realised what he was doing and smoothed his shirt before letting his arm drop by his side. He opened his mouth then shut it again. He couldn't think of anything else to say.

Master Bilbo didn't say anything either. Simply stood there in the dark, pale and ghost like. He looked unhealthily thin in the lantern light. The furthest thing from a Hobbit a Hobbit could be.

Gorbo cleared his throat. "Well, I'll just be on my way. Goodnight, Master Baggins."

Master Baggins blinked, his shadowed eyes focusing on Gorbo with a sudden intensity. "Goodnight, Gorbo."

After a moment of anxiously shuffling his feet, Gorbo nervously bobbed his head. He started down the path to the pond, lantern clasped tightly in hand. After a few steps he dared to look back.

Master Baggins was still standing on the path, watching him.

Gorbo jiggled his lantern, a nervous little wave, before turning back to the path. When he next glanced back, Master Baggins was gone.

He'd been somewhat strange among Hobbits, always reading and writing in Bag End. Not that it was Gorbo's place to say what a gentle Hobbit was to do with his days. But that strangeness had grown since his unexplained absence. Thought dead by all in the Shire, Master Baggins had returned dressed in strange garb, thinner, drawn and with a sword at his hip and a shield on his back.

Maybe the same sword he held tonight.

Gorbo suppressed a shiver. Swords weren't common in the Shire. Maybe as mathoms, hung over fires for decoration or used occasionally as rusty stakes for the odd stubborn rose or tricky bean sprout. But to carry one. It was frightening to think what Master Bilbo needed with a sword in the dead of night. Even more so why he would need one in the Shire of all places.

Gorbo picked up his pace. A nice comforting smoke was suddenly looking a good deal more tempting.


On to Relatives & Family



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