Title: Noises In The Night
Author: The Artful Dodger / dodger_sister
Fandom: The Hobbit
Category: Altered-Reality, Action/Adventure, Fic-For-Kids, Gen, Humor
Characters/Pairing: Bilbo, Bofur, Balin, Fili, Kili, Dwalin with Gloin, Oin, Bombur, Bifur, Dori, Nori, Ori and Thorin Oakenshield.
Warnings: Talk of ghosts, dragons and trolls.
Summary: There is a terrible wailing noise coming from Bilbo’s cellar. With the help of his friends, Bilbo must be brave enough to face the monster that has found its way inside his home.
Word Count: 6,057 words.
Date Written: April, 2013.
Disclaimer: The Hobbit is not mine. JRR Tolkien’s and other people’s, but not mine. This story is all mine though and was written for fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Beta’d: Yes, by the incomparable liptonrm - thanks, babe!
Author's Notes: I came up with this idea right after taking The Nephew to see The Hobbit at the theater. I knew I wanted to do an adventure/comedy and I thought it would be cute to have it all take place actually in Bag End. This is the first time I have ever written him a story that he did not prompt me for - (though he did ask me a few weeks before his birthday if he could have another fic and I said, "What do you think, that you have a birthday coming up?" and he said, "Hey, I do! I do have a birthday coming up!" and then I cleverly steered him towards Hobbit fic, since I had already started writing this one!) Also, he told me his favorite dwarf is Kili and when I asked him what he would name a cat, if he had one, he said, “Roar, because that’s the nickname for the Detroit Lions.” So that is why Kili names his cat Roar.
Dedication: This one is for my nephew - the bravest little hobbit of them all! Happy Birthday, Monkey!
It started the day after the big storm, when everything had been soaked with rain and the wind had brought down trees along the road and everyone had huddled around their fireplaces, until even those warming flames had been blown out by the ferocity of the howling gale outside.
It had been a long time since Bilbo had seen a storm quite like that roll across The Shire.
The next night, as Bilbo was bedding down for the evening, he heard a long low wail of a noise. It was surely the wind again, another storm coming through, though the sun had been shining all day and the skies had been clear.
Bilbo thought nothing of it, until he was laying, all alone, in the dark of the room and the wailing noise happened again.
“Hello there?” Bilbo called out and then felt ridiculous. He knew very well that he was the only one in the hobbit hole he called Bag End.
Bilbo rolled over to sleep and the wailing came again, this time accompanied by a second smaller noise that was almost a hiss.
“Hello there!” Bilbo shouted and sprang from his bed.
He lit a candle and then went to his trunk, where he kept the great sword, Sting. Sting was not glowing, as it was apt to do when orcs were about, but that didn’t do much to put Bilbo’s mind at ease. After all, there were many other wild creatures in the world that would just as soon eat you than answer when you called out.
The wailing grew louder, though it was now starting and stopping in odd bursts, like a chorus choir singing out in pain. Bilbo tiptoed slowly around his house, candle held out in front of himself, but there was nothing to be found in any of the rooms, so he let out a great sigh and went back to bed.
All was quiet for awhile and then the wailing began again. Bilbo simply pulled a pillow over his head and drifted off to sleep.
The next day a visitor arrived and Bilbo was most glad for the company, though a bit tired after waking several times in the night, sure he could hear someone - or something - making the floorboards creak in his house.
His visitor was none other than Bofur, the dwarf, as he and Bilbo had become great friends on their journey and Bofur came to visit more often than any of the other dwarves.
“They’ll be coming though,” Bofur told him, a piece of bread shoved whole in his mouth. “We’ve got business near the shore, you know, and we thought, ‘Well then, we should meet on the road. Where do we know that would make a fine place to stop for good bed and good food?’ Quite easily ol’ Bilbo Baggins came to mind. I hope it’s not too terrible of an inconvenience, though I suppose a bit late to say if it were,” Bofur told him and grinned at Bilbo with half a bit of egg stuffed in his mouth.
“I dare say,” Bilbo answered, “you lot are always welcome in my home, though it will make quite the scuffle throughout the Shire. Everyone will be wanting to know if I’m off on another adventure.”
“Hmm,” Bofur said into his cup. “Your neighbors are far too nosy for their own good.”
Bilbo did not disagree. They ate in happy reminiscing of days gone by and sat in front of the fire for a good long while, singing songs together and reciting poems until Bofur’s eyes began to fall shut.
“Goodness, I am being a terrible host,” Bilbo said. “Come, let me get you fresh blankets and put you off to bed.”
Once Bofur was settled in one of the extra rooms, Bilbo began to tidy up the kitchen. When the dishes were nearly done, he stopped to take the rest of the leftovers back to the pantry. That was when he heard the noise again, this time a chorus of sharp cries, like tiny little bleating lambs, coming from the cellar. Now Bilbo had been in that house his whole life and he knew the only creatures who ever set foot in that stuffy old cellar were rats. As Bilbo had absolutely no interest in chasing rats out of his house in the middle of the night, he simply ignored the noise and went to bed.
In the morning, Bofur asked him quite plainly, “Were you walking about in the wee hours of the morning?”
“No, I should think not. I was awake much later than you, straightening up and all, and I slept very soundly, thank you,” Bilbo answered.
“Hmm,” Bofur said. “I could have sworn I heard the floorboards creaking.”
Bilbo thought about telling his friend of the odd noises he was hearing at night, but then decided he didn’t want anyone thinking he had rats in his house. So instead he went and made them each a cup of tea.
Balin came next, much later in the day, and Bilbo was quite happy to see him.
“I thought I’d come visiting earlier than the others,” he told Bilbo, “as I feel we have some catching up to do, laddie. Now tell me, what sort of adventures have you been up to since I last saw you?”
Bilbo told him about his trip back to see the elves of Rivendell and of his long days spent reading the books of Lord Elrond’s library. Bofur scowled a bit at the mention of the elves, but Balin only nodded his head and said, “There is a whole world outside of our own borders and we mustn’t hold ourselves back from any of it, I suppose.”
Halfway through his story of the warg he encountered on his way home from Rivendell, it became clear to Bilbo that Balin was quite tired, so Bilbo held the rest of his tale for morning and ushered both of his guests off to bed.
Once they were all settled in for the night, Bilbo could hear the wailing noise start up again. Several of them this time, in fact.
“What’s that then?” Balin cried out.
“I hear it as well,” Bofur yelled from his room.
“It’s nothing,” Bilbo hollered back. “Just some rats in the cellar, I think. I’ll deal with it in the morning.”
“Large rats you have there, Mr. Baggins,” Balin answered him, but Bilbo simply rolled over, stuffed his head under a pillow and went back to sleep.
Fili and Kili came next, together of course, as they were always together it seemed.
Bilbo was very glad indeed to see them, though he suspected at least some of his dishes would get banged around, since the young dwarves always seemed to have an abundance of energy.
“We’ve brought you some gold,” Fili told Bilbo and held up a small bowl, made of gold and bordered with tiny diamonds.
“It’s a bowl,” Kili told him.
“I can see that,” Bilbo said and took it from Fili and held it up to the light.
“We made it for you.” they both said at once.
“Thank you very much,” Bilbo told them. “I will treasure it more than any of my other jewels, by far.”
Fili and Kili grinned quite wide and then asked when dinner would be served. Bilbo decided he would have to make a trip to the market soon, as he was starting to run low on food and there would surely be more dwarves coming.
Later, as the sun went down, there were songs and stories and poems by the fire and then, once again, everyone turned in for bed.
The wailing did not come and Bilbo was quite relieved.
Until very late in the night, when Bilbo awoke quite suddenly to what sounded like the cellar door being pushed open, a long low creak that echoed around Bag End. And then, as if on cue, the wailing noise began again, so much louder this time that Bilbo jumped from his bed and ran around the room in a mild panic.
Then there were footsteps running quickly down the hall and both Fili and Kili came crashing into Bilbo’s bedroom, wearing nothing but long nightshirts and brandishing their weapons in front of them.
“What’s that wailing howl?” Kili said in alarm and looked around the room for any clues as to the noise.
“Whatever it is, it can open doors,” Fili told them both. “I heard it with my own ears.”
The wailing continued and Fili held his knife aloft and cried, “Show yourself, beast!”
The floorboards creaked and then the cellar door made another whining cry of protest on its hinges and suddenly the wailing was much quieter and very far away.
“It’s just rats in the cellar,” Balin said, appearing in the doorway of Bilbo’s bedroom.
“Yes, yes,” Bilbo said, though he was still a bit shaken. “Rats, of course. In all the excitement today, I forgot to take care of that. I’ll get right on it tomorrow.”
“It sure doesn’t sound like rats,” Kili said, but Balin just put a hand on his back and shoved him towards his room.
“Off to bed with you lads,” he said and Bilbo thought bed sounded like quite a good idea for everyone.
“It’s clearly a ghost,” Fili said the next day, during breakfast.
“That was my idea first!” Kili cried and shoved at Fili with his elbow.
“I was the one who said it wasn’t rats,” Fili told him.
“And I was the one who said it was probably a ghost,” Kili reminded him.
Balin cleared his throat rather loudly and both the younger dwarves stopped talking and turned to look at him.
“There are no such things as ghosts,” Balin told them quite seriously.
“Yes, there are,” Fili and Kili both said at once.
“We stayed at an inn this one time that had a very ugly old man ghost who would walk the halls at night,” Kili said.
Bofur snorted through his nose. “I was there at that inn with you and that was not a ghost. It was just an ugly old man.”
“It was very well a ghost,” Fili said with a pout and Balin just glared at him.
“That’ll be enough of that kind of talk,” he said.
Fili and Kili said nothing more, but glanced at each other with quite serious expressions on their faces.
Dwalin came later that day, just in time for lunch. As soon as Bilbo had stepped aside to let Dwalin in through the front door, Fili and Kili came bounding over to him, rather excited to say the least.
“Bilbo has a ghost!” Kili cried.
“It walks the halls at night, wailing in misery,” Fili said.
Dwalin just scowled at them.
“I am far too hungry to listen to your nonsense,” he said and pushed past the two dwarves and into the kitchen. “I suggest it is time for lunch.”
“Quite right,” Bilbo said and went to fetch the ham.
In the evening, they all sat around the fire and Dwalin told Bilbo of the business they were attending near the shore, trade with the race of men that lived there.
Suddenly, in the middle of Dwalin reciting all the goods they were taking to trade, there was a great cry from back down the long hallway of rooms. Bilbo and the five dwarves all jumped to their feet, for it was not the cry of a hobbit nor dwarf, but something else entirely.
“Who goes there?” Dwalin called out and made to the other side of the room to grab his axe. “Fili, Kili,” he snapped, “grab your weapons and come with me.”
“You can’t fight a ghost with weapons,” Fili told him, but they both grabbed their weapons and followed after him.
They crept down the hallway, but the noise was getting quieter and it seemed to be echoing off the walls, first coming from the left, then the right, once again as if a great chorus was crying out. Dwalin led them, very carefully, into the first room. He pushed the door open with his foot and then jumped into the room, his axe held out in front of himself.
“Ah-ha!” he cried and whirled around to face his foe.
But there was nothing there.
Fili and Kili stood outside the door, their own weapons held aloft, and peeked into the room.
“Is it safe?” they asked.
“Well, if it wasn’t, the creature would have taken my head off by now,” Dwalin grumbled. “Next time, come in right after me.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Fili and Kili said at once.
When Dwalin pushed the next door open and jumped into the room, Fili and Kili came rushing in after him. They came in so fast, in fact, that they knocked him down and they all ended up in one big pile on the ground.
“I thought you two were suppose to be great warriors,” Dwalin said unhappily, as he picked himself up off the floor.
“Well, we’re out of practice,” Fili told him sullenly.
“Indeed,” Dwalin muttered.
The next room went much better, with Fili and Kili carefully stepping in behind Dwalin, weapons at the ready for any danger.
Of course, there was none in this room either and in fact, the wailing noise was getting farther and farther away. They continued to look through each of the many bedrooms, one at a time, but they could find nothing.
“Perhaps we should look under the beds?” Kili suggested.
“Ghosts don’t hide under beds,” Fili told him. “That’s monsters.”
“Maybe it is a monster,” Kili said.
“Maybe your face is a monster,” Fili said back and Kili shoved him and then they were both shoving each other at once. They threw down their weapons and began to wrestle, right there in the middle of the hallway.
Dwalin merely rolled his eyes, stepped over them and headed back to the front room, where Bilbo, Bofur and Balin were all sitting around the fire once again.
“You,” he said and pointed his axe at Bilbo, “have some sort of animal living in your house. This is what you get for making your home in a hole in the ground.”
“You, sir,” Bilbo said, “live in a mountain, which is basically just a hole inside a giant rock.”
“We’ll tend to the wild animal in the morning,” Balin said then, interrupting their argument. He looked back towards where Fili and Kili were still wrestling each other to the ground. “For now, I suppose we should do something about the wild animals we brought with us,” and he and Bofur stood and went to break up the fight.
Gloin and Oin arrived very early the next morning. So early, in fact, that Bilbo was still sound asleep in his cozy little bed when someone was knocking rather loudly on the front door.
“Did we wake you?” Oin asked surprised, when Bilbo answered the door in his nightshirt.
“The sun hasn’t even come up yet!” Bilbo cried “You gave me a fright, with your banging on the door at all hours of the night.”
“It’s morning,” Gloin pointed out.
Then, in the quiet moment that came next, Bilbo heard, quite plainly, the squeak and creak of the cellar door.
“Is someone else up and about at this hour?” Gloin asked.
“No, no,” Bilbo said. “It’s this dreadful business with something living in my cellar. Come, I’ll make you some tea,” and he ushered them inside the house.
“Something in your cellar, you say?” Oin asked him, putting his ear-trumpet up close to his ear. “That is odd. I have heard tales, you know.”
“Please,” Dwalin said, coming around the corner then. “Don’t tell us it is a ghost.”
“Oh no, I dare say not,” Oin said. “But I have heard tales of baby dragons finding their way inside deep holes in the ground.”
“Oh yes,” Gloin said. “When their mothers have been killed and they are trying to hide, it seems.”
“A baby dragon?” Bilbo squeaked and he suddenly felt quite faint.
“Don’t be ludicrous,” Dwalin told them. “Come, Bilbo, let us sit you down before you fall over and make a spectacle of yourself.”
“A baby dragon,” Bilbo repeated and let Dwalin lead him to the kitchen and make him some tea then.
Later in the day, Bilbo decided he was most definitely going to need to make a trip to the market and get some more food for his guests. Bofur offered quite graciously to come along with him.
They took the donkey hooked up to the pull-cart and were headed down the dirt road in front of Bilbo’s house, when he asked Bofur quite suddenly, “Is there a baby dragon living in my cellar?”
“Nonsense,” Bofur told him. “I am quite certain that you do not have a baby dragon living in your cellar.”
“How do you know?” Bilbo asked him warily.
“You would know,” Bofur said and leaned over to whisper up close in Bilbo’s ear. “They have a dreadful smell at that age, after all.”
“Oh,” Bilbo said then.
“Yes, yes,” Bofur told him. “I am almost sure of it. Or, perhaps that was baby trolls who smell foul? I can’t remember now but at any rate, you probably don’t have a baby dragon living in your cellar.”
“Probably?” Bilbo squeaked.
“Well, you may have a baby dragon living in your cellar.”
“Bilbo, we had better check and see if there is a baby dragon living in your cellar.”
Bilbo suddenly felt quite faint again.
It was nothing compared to how he felt once they returned home and found all of Bilbo’s house in disarray.
Bombur had arrived while they were out and Bilbo found him standing in the middle of the food pantry, stuffing a wedge of cheese in his mouth.
“Bilbo!” he cried. “Good to see you,” though the words came out jumbled around the food in his mouth.
At the other end of the pantry - near the cellar door that led to a small flight of stairs and into the cellar itself, at the lowest point in Bilbo’s home where it stayed the coldest and was most apt for storing food - there was a whole host of dwarves standing about.
“It’s clearly a dragon!” Gloin was shouting.
“In the Shire?” Balin said with a laugh. “I think Fili and Kili were closer with their ghost nonsense.”
Fili was standing at the top of the stairs, peering down into the darkness of the cellar, weapon in hand.
“It isn’t nonsense,” he said fiercely and raised his knife higher in the air. “Bilbo has a ghost.”
Kili was standing behind his brother, holding a rather large bucket and Dwalin was standing next to him, holding two very thick boards that Bilbo recognized at once as his stairs.
“What have you done!” Bilbo cried in alarm. “You’re tearing out my stairs? What’s next, my floorboards? Confound you, dwarves!”
“Calm down, laddie,” Dwalin said and tossed the now broken stairs into the corner of the room. “You’ve had a flood.”
“A flood?” Bilbo said, though it still came out rather loud and upset.
“We heard the noise again,” Kili told him. “It was most definitely a ghost.”
“It was not a ghost,” Dwalin said “It was clearly an animal.”
“A baby dragon?” Bilbo asked, this time very, very quietly, because he was very, very afraid of the answer.
“I highly doubt it,” Dwalin told him and then stopped, looked at Bilbo and said, “Well, perhaps.”
“There was water,” Bombur said and reached for an apple at the top of Bilbo’s box of food from the market, which he was still holding in his arms.
“Water? What are you on about?” Bilbo asked and set the box on the floor.
“We opened the door. You know, to investigate,” Fili said. “And all this water came pouring out.”
“Oh,” Bilbo said and then, “It must be from that horrid storm we had the night before Bofur arrived.”
“Well it’s been sitting all pooled up in your cellar and it’s gone and rotted away all the wood on your steps,” Dwalin told him.
“Dreadful, dreadful,” Bilbo said and came over to inspect.
“I’ll need a candle and both my axes,” Dwalin said and then looked very pointedly at Fili and Kili, who both turned and ran to fetch what he required. “I’m going down to investigate.”
“By yourself?” Bilbo asked. “Perhaps Balin should go with you?”
“I will have to jump,” Dwalin said, quite seriously. “Balin’s legs are not nearly long enough to make it past where both of the broken steps used to be.”
“And I’m a might to old to be making jumps like that, at any rate,” Balin replied.
“”Do be careful then, friend,” Bilbo told Dwalin and clasped him hard on the arm.
Dwalin nodded his thanks and took his axes from Kili’s outstretched hand.
“Now, Fili, you hold the candle aloft while I go down. Give me some light to work with.”
Then Dwalin turned and leapt, as far as he could, down the cellar stairs.
Suddenly there was a scream, a horrid cry of pain from Dwalin that echoed out across the room.
“Smokies!” Fili hollered and held the candle higher.
“Aaaahhhhh,” Dwalin groaned and Bilbo could hear him thumping and thrashing around.
“Dwalin,” Fili said, “what happened to your legs? Where have your legs gone?”
Bilbo covered his face with his hands. This was all too awful. He had a dragon living in his cellar and now it had gone and eaten off poor Dwalin’s legs, when Dwalin was just trying to be a good friend and help Bilbo out.
The noise started up then and this time it was the loudest Bilbo had ever heard it; huge guttural cries of misery and hunger, something horrid and wretched down in Bilbo’s cellar, just waiting for them to descend so it could eat all of their legs off as well.
“I’m stuck,” Dwalin said and Bofur and Kili ran over to see if they could help.
“Does it have you in its teeth?” Bilbo called out and quite honestly, that was the worst thing Bilbo could ever think of, being trapped in the mouth of a dragon while it crunched away on your legs.
“No,” Dwalin said and he sounded rather unhappy. “The stair I’ve landed on rotted away under my feet and I’ve fallen through and now I am quite stuck.”
“Oh,” Bilbo said. “Well, I’ll get some rope.”
Bilbo came back with the longest bit of rope he had and tossed one end of it down to Dwalin.
“Now tie that off around yourself and then we will all heave until you are freed,” he told Dwalin.
All of the dwarves were set to help; Bofur, Kili, Fili, Bombur, Oin, Gloin and Balin, as well as Bilbo Baggins himself, grabbed a hold of the rope and began to pull.
“Pull, pull!” Balin ordered them all and they strained and tugged but Dwalin would not come loose.
“Heave, you useless lot,” Dwalin hollered at them.
They heaved and pulled, but Dwalin still did not budge from where he was stuck in the hole on the stairs.
“Unnnhuh,” a voice said from behind and Bilbo turned his head sharply to see who had come into his house, unannounced and without knocking. It was Bifur, just arrived from the road, and he pointed at the rope and the line of dwarves pulling hard at it and raised one very pointed eyebrow.
“Oh,” Bilbo said then. “Dwalin has gone and gotten himself stuck in the stairs.”
Bifur shrugged one shoulder and went to join the line, falling into place right behind Bilbo and grabbing the very last bit of rope there was.
“On my count,” Balin told them. “One, two, three.”
And they all pulled hard one last time, now eight dwarves and a hobbit, and then there was a loud wrenching cry from Dwalin and he came flying backwards, up the stairs, out the cellar door and right into the line of rope pullers, knocking each and every one of them flat on the floor.
“Well done,” Balin told them all, from somewhere near the bottom of the pile.
“Yes, yes,” Dwalin grumbled. “Now would you all kindly get off of me?”
The screeching and howling got much, much worse that night and Bilbo could hear it even with his pillow over his head. It wailed and echoed, like so many tiny little voices coming up from the ground.
“We disturbed it, that is very clear,” Balin said from the doorway to Bilbo’s bedroom.
“Well, it has spent a great deal of time disturbing me,” Bilbo told him. “I suppose it is only fair turnabout, after all.”
“There certainly was a lot of water in the basement. Whatever it is must be able to live in water,” Gloin said, coming out of his own room.
“Or it has found a nice little perch, way up out of the way,” Bombur said.
“Can’t get up the stairs now though, can it? Too many broken steps,” Fili told them.
“Poor thing,” Bofur said. “Comes up at night and looks for food. Must be awful hungry down there now that it’s stuck like that.”
Bilbo didn’t like thinking about that. Be it a baby dragon or a small warg or even a very large rat, Bilbo found himself quite sad to think of it down there in the cold, wet, dark of the cellar with no way up and starving on top of it all.
“We’ll fix the stairs in the morning,” Bilbo told them. “Whatever it is, it doesn’t deserve such a fate as to starve in my cellar. Now get out of my room and to bed with you all.”
“You heard him,” Dwalin scolded. “To bed, to bed with you.”
The creature, whatever it was, wailed and cried all night, and Bilbo got very little sleep indeed.
Dori and Nori came just in time for second breakfast the next day and they found nine very unhappy dwarves and one rather miserable hobbit when they arrived.
“What’s the matter with you, gentlemen?” Dori asked them.
“And what is that wretched wailing noise?” Nori asked.
“Bilbo has a ghost,” Kili said, though he didn’t sound nearly as excited as he had been previously.
“It’s not a ghost,” Fili told him. “Ghosts don’t need to use the stairs, you ninny.”
“You’re the ninny,” Kili said and stuck his tongue out at his brother.
Dwalin smacked them both on the head and then asked, “Where is Ori?”
“Oh, he’ll be along shortly. He’s leading the ponies,” Dori told them. “How about some tea, Mr. Baggins?”
“Very well,” Bilbo said and covered his ears against the terrible cries and howls from the cellar. “We’ll be eating and having some tea and then it is right to work with you lot. Coming into my home, tearing up my stairs, cornering that awful creature in the basement. You dwarves bring mischief with you wherever you go.”
Bilbo meant it, it seemed, because as soon as breakfast was over, he marched all of the dwarves - eleven of them now - straight into his pantry and over to the cellar door.
“Now to work with you. Fix my stairs. Whatever that creature in my cellar is, he is either going to be free or slain by supper.”
They all set to work; Bofur showing them how to cut the boards to just the right length, Bifur pulling out the old rotted steps from the cellar stairs, and Dwalin holding both his axes close, just in case whatever it was attacked them.
Bilbo helped by bringing them food to eat while they worked.
The wailing and crying carried on and Bilbo was beginning to suspect that it wasn’t one creature in his cellar, but instead many, many creatures, all trapped down there, just waiting to eat off his fingers and toes.
But by the time afternoon tea had rolled around, the crying had actually stopped and Bilbo was suddenly afraid that the creature was, in fact, starving to death down there It seemed a sad state, even for a baby dragon. Ori joined them at last, tying the ponies up outside, and everyone waited to see what Bilbo would have them do next.
“The cellar is still a bit flooded,” Bofur told his friend. “We’ll have to wade through it and if whatever that is down there can swim, it will definitely have the advantage in an attack.”
“Especially if it is hiding,” Dwalin reminded them. “It will have the element of surprise that way.”
“Especially because we don’t even know for sure what it is,” Balin said.
Bilbo went to his trunk and got out Sting, then went back to the cellar doorway.
“Well then, it will be a very fine how-do-you-do if I die in my own cellar, after so many adventures in the world.” Then he nodded at his dwarf friends and said, “Let’s go get it, gentlemen.”
The dwarves all screamed out their battle-cry, “Aaaaaahhhhhh,” and raised their weapons high.
Suddenly there was a knock on the front door.
“What’s that then?” Bilbo asked and went to see who it was.
There, standing on the other side of the door, looking as noble as he could after such a long travel, was none other than Thorin Oakenshield, Bilbo’s very good friend.
“Oh, Thorin!” Bilbo cried. ‘I am so glad to see you. It seems I have gotten myself into a bit of a pickle.”
He ushered Thorin inside and led him quickly to the pantry, where the other twelve dwarves were all still standing, holding their weapons over their heads.
“What is all this?” Thorin asked gruffly.
Bilbo sighed. “There was a terrible storm and some horrid creature found shelter in my cellar and now it has flooded and the creature is still down there and it wails and cries and sneaks around my house at night and it’s all very dreadful,” Bilbo explained.
“It’s a ghost,” Kili told Thorin.
“It’s not a ghost,” Bofur said. “It’s clearly a baby dragon.”
“Or a baby warg,” Ori added, though the creature hadn’t even made a single peep since Ori had been there.
“Perhaps an orc or two,” Bombur said.
“It really could be anything,” Gloin told them all.
“Even a lion!” Kili shouted.
“What’s a lion?” Fili asked his brother.
“You know, a mythical creature with big teeth and a lot of fur that lives in the forest and eats mice.”
“Like a big cat?” Fili asked.
“Not at all,” Kili told him.
“Enough!” Thorin hollered. “Quiet your ridiculous stories now. We’ll just see what this is,” and he drew Orcrist, the mighty sword, and took a step towards the cellar. “Someone hold a candle high for me to see where I am going and the rest of you, ready your weapons.”
Bombur held the candle, while the rest of the dwarves; Bifur, Bofur, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Fili and Kili all followed Thorin down the stairs, their weapons ready for battle. Bilbo came last and held Sting close to his side, very glad at the least to see it wasn’t glowing, which meant no orcs were living in Bilbo’s cellar.
Thorin stepped into the water that had flooded the cellar and then pushed his way through.
The crying started up then and it was definitely more than one animal now, Bilbo was quite sure. And it didn’t sound so big after all.
Suddenly Thorin hollered out and smashed into a stack of boxes on the far wall and there was a terrible screech and a hiss of attack and something fell from the top of the boxes, straight into the water. Thorin lunged for it and then disappeared under the water completely.
“Thorin!” all the dwarves cried and turned in circles looking for the foe that had attacked their leader.
They were preparing to start swinging their weapons, even though they could see nothing at all to attack, when Thorin suddenly popped back up from the water, clutching something tight to his chest.
“Dash it all,” he sputtered. “It’s a cat!”
It turned out, in the end, to be several cats - a mother and her thirteen babies - all cornered on top of a stack of boxes in the dark, flooded basement.
“She must have hid in my cellar from that terrible storm and then given birth to all these kittens while she was hiding down there,” Bilbo said, drying off the mother cat with a towel.
“And then they were stuck, the kittens being too young to swim,” Bofur said and moved the blanket of kittens closer to the fire, to help warm them.
“She must have been sneaking up stairs at night to get herself some food,” Bombur said and set down a bowl of milk for the babies and a bowl of crushed up meat for the mama cat.
“Confound,” Thorin muttered under his breath. “A cat!”
“They are quite beautiful creatures though, aren’t they?” Ori asked. “I think I may keep one for myself.”
“Oh, me too!” Kili cried just as Fili grabbed quickly for the fluffy orange kitten.
“This one’s mine,” Fili told them all. “I’m going to name him Lion.”
Kili picked up the black and grey striped kitten and said, “I’m going to name mine Roar.”
“Why ‘roar’?” Fili asked.
“Because that’s the noise a lion makes.”
“Ooohuh,” Bifur said and grabbed a kitten for himself, a small black one with big green eyes.
“I get the one with the white patch on it’s eye,” Bofur told them and snatched it from the blanket and then all of the dwarves - save for Thorin - were picking up a kitten and holding them close, thinking up names for their newfound pets.
Lion, Roar, Ooohuh, Tinker, Warrior, Jelly Cake, Treasure, Rosemary, Little Warg, Axe, Bell, and Medley.
“What about you, Mr. Bilbo?” Ori asked him.
Bilbo looked down at the mother cat, curled up in his lap now. “I think I’ll keep this one,” he said and scratched behind her ear. “And I will call her Rain, after the flood of rain that brought her into my home.”
Suddenly there was a small whining cry and they all looked down at the blanket and saw one last kitten left. And there was only one dwarf who didn’t have one yet.
Everyone stared at Thorin.
“I will not take one of those things,” Thorin told them plainly.
The last remaining kitten - all grey with bright yellow eyes - stood up and walked on its little legs over to Thorin. It put one little paw on Thorin’s foot and said, “Meow.”
“I will not indulge you,” Thorin told the kitten.
The kitten tried valiantly to climb up Thorin’s leg, but it was still much too small for that.
“Hmmph,” Thorin said and scooped the kitten up in his hand. “You are a determined little thing, aren’t you?”
“Meow,” the kitten said.
“Look at the color of its fur,” Balin said. “It’s grey like the fog off the mountain.”
“Like a mist,” Thorin replied and pushed at the kitten to stop it from chewing on his finger. “Do you like that name, Misty?” Thorin asked the kitten.
“Meow,” the kitten said and curled up on Thorin’s leg and promptly fell asleep.
“Confound,” Thorin muttered and scratched the kitten’s ear once more.
“There then,” Bilbo told his guests, “I believe Misty has quite the right idea. We should all be off to bed, I think.”
The dwarves all agreed at once and as soon as Bilbo had them all tucked away in their own rooms - dwarves and kittens alike - he climbed straight into his own cozy little hobbit-bed, looking forward to a good sound night of sleep at last.
“Well then,” he said to Rain, who was curled up at his side, “who would have ever thought that I’d go on such an adventure in my very own home!”
But then, Bilbo Baggins always was a grand adventurer, after all.