Cloves. Bilbo could smell cloves. Well, at least he thought he could. His wrists and forearms were rubbed raw, rawer than a pigeon he had once tried to smoke in ten minutes (the product of an unexpected visit from his Took relatives), and it felt like someone had covered them in an unrefined, gritty salt. Even more than he had put on that blasted pigeon.

His back slid against pebbles and dirt, bumping and jumping as they moved, and as he came about, he could feel that the back of his hobbit peacoat was getting torn beyond repair. There were rough hands holding on to his feet.

Forest damp greeted his sleep-narrowed eyes. If he had been sleeping. No...that's right. He had been knocked out. The memory was barely tangible in his addled mind, but it had had something to do with dwarves. Two dwarves.

No, no. Couldn't have. Dwarves are folk of an unsavory nature. Not here in the Shire.

But there had been, hadn't there? Gilly had said so, she and Holman and Falco. They had all went out together into Old Forest.

Fili son of Dis, of the line Durin, at your service.

One of the dwarves had been trapped, and he and his companions had helped out.

So why am I tied up?


Bilbo had intended for this monosyllable to be intelligent and polite, but when your lips felt like two grubs fighting to assert dominance, clarity could prove difficult to achieve.


"What the bloody-" The leather attached to his wrists fell slack as Fili turned towards the noise. "Did you hear that Kili?"

Kili stopped. He set down Bilbo's feet, and the other hobbits stopped behind him. It wasn't so much that darkness had fallen in Old Forest - rather, it had tripped. It lay collapsed among the trees, unwilling to get up until dawn. Kili could barely see a thing. "You don't think it's Thorin, do you?"

"Hrmph." A desire to be polite conflicted with the need to get up. "HRMMPH."

"Bilbo!" Falco shouted. "It's Bilbo! He's trying to get your attention Mr. Fili."

"Someone untie him, for pity's sake." Poking her head around Falco's ample torso, Gilly tried get a look at her friend. Her imagination could see him lying prone, blood entangled in his curly mess of hair.

It really wasn't quite that bad.

Fili knelt, his dwarf eyes struggling in the dimness. He still felt dizzy, clammy, but it wouldn't do to tell Kili in current company. It was obvious that the hobbits thought he was inebriated in some way, possibly with the stolen brandy, and now his method of unconscious hobbit transport was once again put in question. Frankly, it was quite trying.


"One moment!" Moving his hands across the length of the leather, Fili made his way to where it should have connected to Bilbo's wrists. The leather wasn't giving him any resistance, as if it were weightless.


A rustling made itself heard. Somewhere off the path. Close. Fili stood, anxious, and shouted into the dark: "The hour is late. Who travels the woods unseen?"

Kili grabbed his brother's arm. "It could be Uncle you just yelled at."

"Would you prefer that to have been Uncle, or would you prefer the step of a goblin. An orc?"

Even in the dark Fili knew his brother was undecided on the matter.

"Where's Bilbo?" While the dwarves were talking, Falco had made his way to where his cousin had lain. Leaves stuck to his hands. Wet and cold, like a snake's shed skin. But no hobbit. He found the leather noose that had once held Bilbo's hands, torn as if by teeth. "He's gone missing! Bilbo's gone missing!"


Branches clamped onto Bilbo's frame like tongs around wilted salad. Tight, but not overly so, in that Bilbo still felt like he could slip out. A horrifyingly slippery sensation.

He knew the stories, all hobbits did. Even in the dark of Old Forest, especially in the dark of Old Forest, they came back to him, a summer breeze that whispered:

Trees that can move.

"Holman!" Bilbo's fingers curled around the soft bark. "Falco!"

A voice came back to him. Just by his ear. It was more gravelly than a hobbit that smoked too much pipeweed, slower than a spoon of molasses, and all together...tree-like.

"Let us, hrm, not be too hasty."


It was Dwalin who found them, not Thorin. Granted, Thorin wasn't far behind, but Dwalin was the one who picked up on the scent of orange peel, the scent of something sweet after the bitterness of finding Thorin's trap missing.

The culprit lay in Bilbo's pack, which had spilled, leaving pungent fruit to be stepped upon by panicked hobbit feet. Oranges the color of flame burned at Dwalin's booted feet.

"Bilbo's gone!" He saw a rotund hobbit kneeling on damp leaves. There were two other hobbits, and two other...dwarves?

"Fili and Kili?"

Their heads swung as one to face him, and Dwalin found it was like looking at two bunnies about to be run down by stone giants.

"Fili and Kili!" That was Thorin, having heard Dwalin. His nephews had been far from his thoughts, but now he found them unpleasantly close. "What in the name of Durin...?"


Author's Note: So this chapter is a little skimpy because I'm on vacation at the beach, not being productive like most people (shoutout to the Guest reviewer who was reading this after mowing the lawn. I admire your resolve to cut grass into uniformity and wish you well on this task) I wanted something intelligent to say here about movie or book canon...I JUST LOVE ENTS. I suppose I should put that baneberry, while being a real plant, was given completely fictitious side effects. It's current symptoms make it sound shady but this will remain a slash-free fic.