Calm The Fire: 55

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A long rocky corridor was all it took to get to the outside world again. Sunlight greeted them along with tall standing trees and short green grass. A long slope they all ran down, and they didn't slow down until they had finally got away from the narrow opening which led back into Goblin Town.

“Five, six, seven, eight. Bifur, Bofur, that's ten. Fíli, Kíli, that's twelve. Bombur, Náriel, that's fourteen. Where's Bilbo? Where's our Hobbit?” Gandalf counted when everyone had come to a stop. He was making sure everyone was present, only they were one short. Bilbo was not with them. Where he was he didn't know.

“Curse that Halfling! Now he's lost!” Glóin said annoyed with the missing member.

“Where did you last see him?” Gandalf asked seriously.

“I thought he was with Dori,” Glóin replied.

Dori in retort looked at him sharply. “Don't blame me!”

“I think I saw him slip away when they first collared us.” Bifur piped up answering Gandalf's earlier question.

“What happened exactly? Tell me!” Gandalf said while looking to the Dwarf which had spoken. Only his gaze shifted to Thorin as he answered.

“Master Baggins saw his chance and took it. He's thought of nothing but his soft bed and his warm hearth since first leaving his home. We will not be seeing our Hobbit again, he's long gone.”

Fíli and Kíli exchanged a look a both reached out and clutched onto Náriel's shoulders as she went to return to the one place they'd all just barely escaped from. “Don't be silly,” Fíli said quietly to her.

She looked defeated. “We can't just leave him behind!” She exclaimed and looked up. “He can't just be gone...”

“He's not,” came a familiar voice. Bilbo stepped around a tree and looked at the surrounding group. Most of which looked at him with shock, but none the less they were all pleased to see him.

“Bilbo Baggins. I’ve never been so glad to see anyone in my life.” Gandalf said while walking forwards smiling gently at the Hobbit, who was still standing looking slightly awkward, little did they all know that he had listened to their conversation, through secret means.

“Bilbo, we'd given you up!” Kíli said while finally letting go of Náriel, seems Bilbo had reappeared she wasn't likely to go charging off in search for him.

“How did you get past the Goblins?” Fíli asked curiously, following suit of his brother, Náriel rolled her arms in their sockets, the sudden freedom felt good.

“How indeed?” Dwalin asked lowly and curiously. Beside him Thorin looked at Bilbo with the same look in his eyes. Bilbo let out a rather nervous laugh and put his hands in his waistcoat pockets.

“What does it matter? He's back.” Gandalf said his tone sounding slightly sceptical.

“It does matter,” Thorin said while not looking away from Bilbo. “Why did you come back?”

Bilbo let out a sigh. “I know you doubt me. I know...I know you always have. And you're right, I do think of home. I miss my books, and my arm chair, and my garden.” Bilbo said honestly while looking around at the surrounding Dwarves. “See, that's where I belong. That's home. And that's why I came back, because...you don't have one. A home, it was taken from you, but I will help you take it back, if I can.” He finished while looking to Thorin, who looked at him and then downwards, Gandalf just looked around and nodded gently. A new found respect may have just been injected into the group.

The peaceful moment didn't last long before howls ripped into the air and echoed down. The distant sounds were all too familiar. The group looked upwards to where the sounds came from.

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