Hi guys! This story has been in the works for many years and has been rewritten more times than I care to admit. Anyway, this is it and I'm not changing it again.

I don't own anything but my OCs.

xxx

'Please!' the young elleth pleaded, tugging desperately on the fabric of her sister's cloak. 'You can't go'.

The older sister turned to face the younger one with steely resolve. 'I must go, Eruanna. Our king would have us all sit by while those poor souls suffer'.

Tears welled in the big, brown eyes of the younger sister as she gazed up entreatingly into icy blue of her sister's.

'Please don't leave me,' she whispered. 'You have to let me come with you!'

'You are too young to leave the safety of this kingdom,' the older sister explained calmly and took her sister's face in her hands. 'You must stay here and learn. Ada wishes you to join the guard when you are fully trained'.

Eruanna wept harder. 'But Ada is not here. I will be alone. Aranel please…'

Aranel turned back to her packing. 'You will be safe here, Eruanna. You have many friends and caregivers. If there is one merit to give our king, he is fiercely protective of his kin. I will return for you when I am able'.

Small hands snaked around Aranel's waist as the younger elleth embraced her. Aranel's heart twinged with guilt, but her mind was made. She knew that there was no other choice for her, not anymore. She turned around and pressed a soft kiss to her sister's forehead.

'One day you will understand, dilthen er,' she whispered. 'There are far greater things than duty in this world'.

'But you will be banished,' Eruanna sniffled. 'Please, take me with you'.

'No, I cannot do that. You still have a life here. Opportunities that'—

'What have dwarves ever done for you that would cause you to abandon us? Abandon me?!'

Aranel was taken aback by the outburst so uncharacteristic of her sweet sister. 'Be still and hear me. I will see you again, even if I have to fight the entire guard to get to you, I will do it, but right now I must leave'.

'Promise me'.

'I promise,' Aranel took her sister into her arms one last time. 'Now, I must go before the guard changes'.

Xxx

60 years later…

For the most part, Bilbo Baggins considered himself a level-headed and intelligent creature. He never did anything brash or ill-advised. He lived a safe life filled with simple joys and humble comforts.

Having found himself thrust out into the open world, he had to stop every so often and remind himself that it wasn't forever; that he would once again fall asleep in his favourite armchair, by his merrily crackling fire after a delicious, peaceful meal.

Every step he took was another step further away from these comforts, but he knew that it was a small price to pay if the company could reclaim their home and have similar experiences to look forward to.

'And how are you coping, Master Baggins?' a friendly voice asked gently.

His reverie broken, he glanced around their surroundings with an unconvincing shrug. 'I don't know how you're expecting me to feel, Gandalf. I am perfectly fine'.

The wizard nodded but did not look convinced. 'Well, never fear, my friend. I believe that when our last member arrives, you will not feel so alone'.

The hobbit whirled around on his pony, nearly losing his balance as he did. 'Another member? Who else could possibly be coming?'

The wizard smiled slyly but said nothing.

It was several hours before Thorin decided to stop them for the night, by which point they were far from the safety of The Shire, having passed even Bree without a second glance.

Bofur and Bombur set about preparing dinner, while the rest of the company split off naturally into several smaller groups to tend to their weapons, smoke their pipes and to talk amongst themselves.

Bilbo waited patiently by the edge of the camp for dinner, aware that he would have no place in conversations about weapons or great battles. The dwarves' merry laughter rang out across the small clearing and Bilbo sighed quietly to himself.

A snapping of twigs beyond the line of light startled him and he leapt back, stumbling to the ground in the process. Several of the dwarves that had witnessed this chuckled and shook their heads.

'Are you alright, Bilbo?' Bofur called with laughter in his voice.

'No, I'm not alright,' Bilbo grumbled as he scrambled to his feet. 'There's something out there'.

Bofur shrugged. 'Probably a fox'.

Bilbo breathed a sigh of relief, a little embarrassed that he had panicked in front of the company. Especially Thorin, who was certainly his harshest critic.

Once the dinner was ready, Bombur dished out the portions of stew and passed them out between the others. Bilbo's stomach growled as he took in the delicious aroma of roast vegetables and meat and the steam from his bowl rose and spread across his chilled face.

He sat beside Gandalf after dinner, enjoying a puff from his own pipe as he warmed his feet by the campfire. Apart from the occasional laugh and quiet chatter, silence embraced the company. It was then that Bilbo was made more aware of every sound around them. Every breath of wind that hit the trees caused them to rustle and sway. Bilbo shivered.

Suddenly, the unmistakable sound of something moving in the darkness caught his attention and he stared out into the night, heartrate rising rapidly in his chest.

'Fox?' he asked Bofur shakily.

Bofur did not respond but shook his head.

Bilbo turned to Gandalf to find him already rising to his feet. 'Gandalf?'

The wizard's gaze did not leave the trees. 'We are not alone'.

At this, Thorin stood as well and crossed the camp to the fire. 'What is going on?' he hissed.

'I believe that our last member has arrived,' Gandalf replied matter-of-factly.

'Excuse me?' Thorin rumbled. 'I do not believe you mentioned another member joining us'.

'That is because I knew you wouldn't approve,' the grey wizard murmured back and slowly made his way toward the trees. 'You can come out, my dear'.

All eyes turned to the same place as a tall, slender figure emerged slowly into the light. Bilbo gasped, his eyes widening in awe, while several of the dwarves rose to their feet in an instant, hands on their weapons.

Thorin glared coldly at the wizard. 'What is this? You invited an elf to join our company!'

'You did not tell him?' a soft voice trilled from across the clearing. 'Gandalf, you told me'—

'Yes, I did,' Gandalf nodded, 'but I must confess that I wasn't entirely truthful with you, Eruanna'.

The elf stopped walking and turned to Thorin, bowing her head. 'Forgive me, I did not know'.

Taken aback by her words, he frowned thoughtfully over at her. 'Why are you here?'

She made her way forward again, slowly looking from dwarf to dwarf. 'I know that there is much tension between our races, and I have never wanted any part in it'.

'Why are you here?' Thorin repeated lowly.

She sighed softly, her large brown eyes entreating. 'Because I wish to help you'.

Thorin scoffed. 'And you think that we will believe you? You whose kin sat back and watched as we had everything taken from us!'

She flinched noticeably at that. 'I am sorry. I was much too young to know what was happening that day,' she murmured.

He seemed surprised at this but did not say a word. Bilbo moved from beside the fire and cleared his throat. 'You are offering Thorin your service?'

Before she could answer, Thorin growled. 'Which I do not want'.

Gandalf huffed angrily and moved towards Thorin. 'A word, if you would'.

Thought clearly still unimpressed, Thorin allowed the wizard to lead him over to the other side of the camp where they continued to speak to one another in hushed voices. The other dwarves glanced at each other in concern as the elf sighed and took a seat on a rock a little way away from them.

The sound of footfalls startled her, and she leapt up as Bilbo approached her from behind, a bowl of stew in his hands.

'Here,' he said gently. 'It's not very hot, but I thought you might like it'.

'Thank you,' she whispered back, smiling despite her current predicament.

Bilbo smiled back his first proper smile since leaving his home and gave her a half wave as he turned back to the camp.

After finishing the small portion of lukewarm stew, the elf stood and walked slowly over to fire. The dwarves all seemed to freeze at her approach and the strong, tattooed dwarf reached for his axe immediately.

'I thought you might want this back,' she said, offering the empty bowl back to them.

The largest of the dwarves was the first one to move, reaching up to take it from her hand. 'Thanks Lass'.

'Did you get enough, Lass?' another with a strange hat asked after a beat. 'I'm afraid he doesn't leave much for anyone else'.

'Bofur,' the tattooed dwarf hissed in disapproval.

The hatted dwarf rolled his eyes. 'I don't see any point in being hostile to the lass. She clearly doesn't mean us any harm'.

The same dwarf growled something in a language she didn't understand and turned back to the fire.

'Don't mind him,' Bofur grinned up at her. 'He's never been very friendly'.

This coaxed a small smile from her, and they lapsed into silence for a short time, hearing little but the crackling of the flames and the arguing across the camp.

'So, Gandalf called you Eruanna?' Bilbo asked. 'I'm Bilbo'.

'Yes, it's nice to meet you, Bilbo'.

'And where would you hail from?' Bofur asked.

She hesitated. 'I am from the Woodland Realm'.

'I thought as much,' he nodded. 'That will not make Thorin any happier'.

'I may be from the Woodland Realm, but I have not dwelt here for some years,' she replied with a small shake of her shoulders.

'And where have you been these last years?' an older dwarf with a long white beard spoke up. 'Thorin will want to know these things if you are to come with us'.

Eruanna looked surprised. 'Would you not object?'

The old dwarf gave her an appraising look. 'We may be a proud people, but even the stubbornest of dwarves can see that we need all the help we can get'.

'Brother,' the tattooed dwarf warned.

'Come brother, you know as well as I do that we are not the best equipped for this journey. We are old and out of practice'.

'But Thorin would never accept help from'—

'Thorin will do whatever he feels will benefit this company, and I for one am on the side of the lass'.

At that moment, Thorin and Gandalf re-joined the company by the fire. There was a pause and everyone went silent once more.

'Draw her up a contract, Balin,' Thorin addressed the white-haired dwarf before turning his eyes on her. 'You're lucky you have someone who vouches for you'.

Eruanna's eyes flickered across to Gandalf, who gave her a warm smile in return. 'Thank you'.

Soon enough, Thorin declared it was time to rest, ordering the tattooed dwarf he called 'Dwalin' to take the first watch.

Eruanna moved carefully through the camp and found herself an empty space between two younger dwarves. The younger, dark-haired one looked up at her approach and smiled cheerily at her while the other blonde-haired one laid out a thin blanket between them.

'It's not much,' he gestured to the blanket, 'but it's better than sleeping on the ground'.

'Thank you,' she beamed at him and slowly removed her small bag, bow and quiver before sitting down.

'I'm Fili,' he gave her a half-smile and gestured to the other dwarf. 'This is my younger brother, Kili'.

'It's nice you meet you…' Kili grinned broadly again and Eruanna felt herself relax a little more.

'Eruanna,' she ventured and they both nodded.

'A pretty name'.

There was a pause.

'So, how old are you?'

'Kili!' Fili hissed him.

'What?' the younger dwarf asked indignantly. 'I always heard that elves were deceptively old'.

Fili looked mortified while Eruanna just laughed. It was a pleasant sound, he thought.

'I am one hundred and two,' she laughed.

'One hundred and two!' Kili exclaimed. 'That's nothing!'

'It is older than you, I'd wager'.

Kili shrugged. 'Well yes, but that is younger than even Uncle'.

Eruanna laughed again. 'I did say I was young'.

'What about your family?' Kili asked excitedly. 'Surely they are older?'

Her smile fell and she sat quietly for a moment before replying. 'My parents were thousands of years old, but they're gone now. My sister is nearly six hundred years old'.

'Is?' Fili asked. 'She's still alive?'

Eruanna released a shaky breath. 'I would like to think so'.

'Oh, I'm sorry. Is she missing?'

Eruanna nodded. 'I have not seen my sister in over sixty years'.

'Well don't you worry,' Kili patted her hand happily as he lay down. 'You'll find her, you'll see'.

The young elf smiled at the dwarf prince as he curled up on his bedroll. 'I do hope so'.

xxx

Thanks for reading my first chapter guys! I must warn you though that I do love to write a good bit of angst, so if that is not your cup of tea and you don't like suffering for enjoyment then go no further. Thank you!