Hobbiton seemed to be a nice place. Small round doors, gardens, flowers and lanterns that lit the small streets so it wasn't pitch black at night. Rin would stop and admire the place if she wasn't already late. The trip from Bree to here had taken longer than she expected, so right now she was walking as fast as she could, trying not to draw the attention of the few hobbits still sitting in their gardens smoking pipes or just enjoying the evening.
She looked around, searching for the mark the wizard had said he was going to leave on the right door. And in the same time trying to think how was she supposed to explain to Thorin Oakenshield and his Company that she was joining their quest to reclaim their kingdom, because she was sure that Gandalf had not, at any point explained to them who was going to knock on the door in a few minutes and join the party. Or at least try to.
Rin checked her weapons for the tenth time for the day, wondering what was she going to do if things got to the point of a fight. Probably run. Surely run, if she had any common sense left. She reminded herself that those dwarves were not orcs, and had years of battles and wars behind their backs. And she was a sixty-five year old half-elf, looking like a fifteen year old in human years that had left Greenwood less than five times in her life. She had no chance to win that fight.
Rin looked up and noticed a faint glow on the door of a house that was built directly into a hill, a little higher than the others around it. That had to be it, then. If not the sign, then the many voices talking inside gave it away. The only reason Rin could hear them was because her hearing was almost as good as an elf's, but still, if she had been at Gandalf's place, she would have put some kind of spell around the place to block the noise. But he didn't use his magic for this kind of things, and Rin never understood why. She had given up on trying to. Trying to understand wizards was like trying to reason with her uncle. A lost cause.
Rin stood before the door and took a deep breath. Then she raised her hand and rang the doorbell.
The talking from inside stopped, then there were footsteps coming towards the door, along with a mutter that sounded a little hysteric, and then the green door opened to reveal a curly haired hobbit with the most hopeless look Rin had ever seen on his face. His frown changed to a surprise as he probably realized she was not a dwarf.
-"You must be Master Baggins. I am here for the meeting."-Rin tried to keep her voice steady and remember how to move her feet as the hobbit nodded and stepped aside, letting her in. She pulled the hood of her gray cloak back and looked around, noticing the few swords left in the umbrella holder. She made her way towards the what she guessed was the dining room, holding the handle of her own sword so tightly that here knuckles had become white.
While traveling, Rin had gone over a few possible scenarios in her head. She had thought about presenting herself as a completely different person, not saying that she was the princess of Greenwood and pretending that she wasn't the niece of the king who Thorin Oakenshield utterly despised. But she had decided against it. There was no point in even trying to win their trust if she was going to break it later.
And with nothing but her heritage and Gandalf's request for her to join that adventure behind her back, Rin stepped into the dining room where thirteen pairs of eyes immediately darted at her direction. Gods, that was worse than the time she visited Rivendell. Though she could see why everyone was staring. Rin looked like an elf, but not exactly, so most people were confused the first time they saw her.
-"Rin, I am glad you decided to come, after all."-Gandalf said from where he was standing at the other side of the room.
The silence after his words was so damn heavy that Rin spoke just to break it.
-"I am Rin, princess of Greenwood."-she said to no one in particular-"I am here by Gandalf's request to help you on your quest."
That could have easily been a lie, since she looked as far from royalty as she could right now. Her green tunic was worn out, one of her sleeves was torn, her leather boots were splattered in mud and black blood from the nasty encounter with a wild Warg a few days ago. The nasty scratch on her cheek that still hadn't healed completely was also from then. She looked more like some homeless person living in the forest than like a princess.
The dark-haired, blue-eyed dwarf sitting closest to the door, who, by Gandalf's description had to be Thorin, was now looking at her with a gaze that could burn through walls.
-"What is the meaning of this?!"-His sharp voice cut through the silence, the question directed at the wizard.
-"As I said, Thorin, I requested a friend to come and aid with your task."
-"You trusted an elf, one related to that damned king, with the secrecy of this quest, and you are calling her a friend? We do not need the help of outsiders, especially the one who refused it when the kingdom fell. No help came from elves then, why should it now?"-Gods, he seemed angry. Not that he didn't have every right to.
-"Because I am not him, and I am here to try and fix that mistake!"-Rin had raised her voice, just a little, but enough to draw his attention.
-"There is nothing left to be fixed, girl. You lost your chance a hundred and sixty years ago. Go back to your father and tell him that we don't need outsiders."
-"First, I don't think you can hold me responsible for something that happened a hundred years before I was even born."-Rin tried to hold back the sharpness that had started to creep in her voice.-"Second, I am not as much of an outsider as you think. I am half dwarf."
She hadn't been planning to drop it like that. Now everyone was quiet again. She could see the confusion on some faces, so she went on and tried to explain.
-"Thranduil is not my father. My father was a dwarf, and my mother was Thranduil's sister. I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but I am telling the truth. They were killed, soon after I was born, so I never really got to know them."
-"You are a half-blood."
Rin knew a few more polite ways to explain it, but she wasn't really eager to get into a fight over that, so she just nodded.
-"Who was your father then?"
-"I don't know. This is the other reason I am here. I want to find out who my father really was. My mother left Greenwood after she met him, so no one there knows either."-Rin stared at the wooden floor for a few seconds. Then she looked up.-"I know that what happened all those years ago wasn't fair. You have every right to be furious. If you don't allow me to join this adventure, then so be it. I won't say a word about it to anyone. But I am here now, and I will do anything I can to try and fix that mistake."
Thorin's expression remained stone cold, but Rin knew that he was thinking, weighting the options. Deciding if she was telling the truth or not. She was almost sure that his answer was going to be no. Rin braced herself for the moment when she had to walk out of that door, leaving any chance to learn who her father had been behind.
-"Give her the contract."
Rin was so surprised that she couldn't even ask what in Iluvatar's name was this contract about. Then she was handed a long piece of parchment that her eyes quickly scurried across before she signed her name at the bottom, agreeing to the Gods knew what, and handed it back.
-"You are allowed to come on this quest, for now. However, if you become a danger, I will not hesitate to take measures, neither will I be responsible if you get yourself killed along the way."
Rin couldn't hide the smirk that appeared on her face.