Alert
By Katherine Williams

October 8, 2012

Based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Disclaimer: I OWN NOTHING! Please let me use my imagination and the characters I love without scrutiny!

I ran my calloused hands through my dirty and unwashed hair. My legs felt as if I had been walking on them for ages, but I could not give in to the desire to fall in a heap on the ground and massage some life back into them. The other Dwarves were doing so, and that fat Hobbit as well. The moment Gandalf had said we would stop and make camp, they had thrown their packs on the muddy and frozen ground and proceeded to break out their rations – what was left of them – to stuff in their faces, oblivious to any impending danger lurking in the trees. I could not afford such extravagance.

Out of the corner of my eyes I noticed Fili squatting by a pile of kindling, pressing knife and flint together, showing off a light shower of red-hot sparks. My face flared in annoyed anger, and I dashed to his side, grabbing stone and knife together in a fury, yanking them away from the Dwarf's grasp. "No fire!" I rasped, my face inches from his. I stared at him with a vengeance that was brought on – unfairly, I might add – from severe sleep-deprivation. He looked up, suddenly apologetic.

"Sorry, Thorin, I should've known. T'won't happen again, sure it won't."

I grunted an irritated "See that it doesn't" and turned back to survey the woods, searching for any threat to the camp. I could feel every eye – except Gandalf's, maybe – on my back, wondering why I flew off the handle and what brought it on. They wouldn't know, I thought grumpily. They wouldn't know what it felt like to have the lives of twelve of your kindred and a tag-a-long halfling dependant on your good judgment and careful eye.

Within a half hour everyone was asleep. I myself was wrapped up in my traveling cloak, propped up against a tree truck. Asleep? No. My fingers caressed a thin cut to my palm, acquired when I snatched the blade from Fili's grip. My tired eyes continued to survey the landscape. I could not rest, no, not while we were still in the Wild, where everything was a danger. I could not sleep when we were exposed to every evil Melkor could rain upon us. I could not sleep…

Suddenly I saw a shadow, flying, over there, in the trees, where? …No, it was nothing. My imagination. I buried my head in my hands, rubbing my eyes gruffly. Stay awake, I told myself. Stay awake. Keep them protected – keep them safe – until we reach the Misty Mountains.

But the other half of myself said: Can you really?