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Speak of the Devil

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“Oh, I don’t think we need to worry about Gandalf’s choice for a burglar. He will have chosen a capable hobbit, not one that has never left the Shire and knows more about scones than about burglary. It will probably be someone who would stand up to the fiercest wargs without hesitation and not somebody who faints at the mere mention of a dragon,” Bofur told Dori as they walked up to the door of Bag-End.

“I’m not entirely sure you aren’t putting too much trust in the wizard there,” Dori replied as he knocked on the door with Gandalf’s mark. “We know nearly nothing at all about this Gandalf and even less about this hobbit of his.”

“Yes, but…” Bofur was interrupted by the door being torn open. He lost his balance, fell forwards and all the other dwarves tumbled into the hobbit’s smial as well.

There was a moment of silence in which Bofur stared at the hobbit’s hairy feet. Then, when the others began grumbling, he remembered his manners.

“Bofur, at your service. And these are…” the pressure increased as the others struggled to get up and Bofur groaned, “...all rather heavier than I’d like at the moment. And wearing rather too pointy weapons,” he added when the handle of Glóin’s axe poked him rudely in the back.

“I am tired of dwarves invading my home and eating my scones!” The hobbit burst out and stamped away. “And I already have had far too many weapons deposited in my umbrella stand!”

Dori, who had managed to free himself from the tangle of dwarves, reached out a hand to help Bofur up and raised an eyebrow. “Looks like he does prefer scones to weapons.”

“He’s fierce though,” Bofur pointed out. “He won’t be any more afraid of a dragon than he is of us.”

When Bilbo fainted later that evening, Dori threw Bofur a rather smug look.

 

“I hate this weather,” Ori complained as the rain poured down on them. “I can’t knit and every inch of me feels damp. I wouldn’t be surprised if our bread gets soaked as well.”

“Just think about how much worse things could be,” Bofur said. “At least there’s no thunder. And just imagine there would be storm or hail as well.”

There was a sudden gust of wind and Bofur felt something thump against his hat. Within moments, hail was gathering in the flaps of his hat.

Ori glared at him and Nori turned around to him. “You just had to say that, didn’t you?”

His words were nearly drowned out by a loud clap of thunder.

 

Escaping the trolls had the entire company feeling rather euphoric and taking what they could use of the trolls’ treasure even more so.

“I think I like trolls,” Bofur said. “You just have to wait until they turn to crumbling stone in the sunlight and they keep you warm as well. So much more relaxing than being chased by wargs, fighting orcs or having to deal with elves.”

“I didn’t like it much,” Fíli said. “The prospect of being squashed to jelly, eaten alive or grilled on a camp fire isn’t exactly my idea of fun.”

There was a hair-raising howl.

“Was that a wolf?” Bilbo asked.

Bofur shook his head. “No, that was a warg…”

 

Bofur had not expected to survive the fall down the goblin tunnels, much less in one piece. When he hit the ground and realised he was still alive and mostly unharmed, he couldn’t help be relieved. “That could have been worse.”

He was rewarded by a loud crash and pain shooting through him as the goblin king fell onto them. He gingerly tried to figure out whether his limbs were still functioning.

“You just had to say that, didn’t you?” Dwalin groaned.

 

Bofur had never particularly liked heights, but in this case, he was more than thankful for the trees growing on top of the cliff. At any rate, sitting in a tree was much better than being devoured by the wargs snapping at their heels.

“It’s a good thing these trees are sturdy,” he said, looking down at the wargs with their enormous, sharp teeth. “I wouldn’t want to be sitting in a little sapling that topples over at the slightest disturbance.”

The tree groaned as the wargs threw themselves against it. Then, slowly, it leaned over and crashed towards the next tree. Bofur, Bilbo and Nori just barely saved themselves onto the next tree.

“Why did you have to say that?” Óin complained.

“What?! How is this my fault?” Bofur protested.

“Whenever you talk about the worst thing that can happen, it tends to happen,” Nori pointed out.

“I have nothing to do with the tree being unstable,” Bofur said. “Nobody is going to topple off a cliff because I say they might.”

“Just stop saying things like that,” Óin said, just as the tree they were sitting in crashed into the next one, throwing Ori off balance.

 

Mirkwood loomed above them dark and forbidding. Long trails of lichen dangled down from the trees and unsettling statues guarded the entrance to the forest path.

“I bet there are spiders in there,” Bofur said into the gloomy silence. “Big ones, at least as long as my arm. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they like eating dwarf or hobbit whenever they can catch them. In fact...”

“Would you stop that!” Thorin demanded.

“I was just wondering about the road ahead,” Bofur protested. “You do that all the time!”

“I don’t come up with new ways we could all die though,” Thorin said. “You ought to know by now what happens when you do that.”

“The things I say have nothing to do with the problems we encounter,” Bofur said. “That is pure coincidence! If I say...”

“Just shut up!” All the dwarves yelled.

“Or perhaps talk about nice things that could happen,” Bilbo suggested. “Like seeing elves, pretty butterflies, or something like that.”

Thorin glared at him too.

 

Bofur looked down from the ramparts at the armies of elves and men. They could see Dáin’s army approaching, but all was oddly quiet for the number of people present.

“So we go to war then?” Bofur asked. “Well, at least Dáin is here. What’s the worst that could happen? We...”

Maitkit!” Bifur shouted at the same moment Bombur clamped his hand firmly over Bofur’s mouth.

Bofur struggled against him, mumbling his protest against Bombur’s hand.

“We’ve told you before: don’t talk about anything that can go wrong,” Dwalin said. “Especially not before a battle.”

“We have this for you, since you don’t seem to be able to stop talking about things that could go wrong,” Kíli said, waving a thin length of cloth. “We’ll make it as comfortable as possible, but we really can’t let you go on saying things like that.”

Bofur shrugged, then nodded and they tied the piece of cloth around his mouth. It wasn’t tight enough that he couldn’t close his mouth, but if anything, it was a good reminder to stay silent.

 

All through the battle with the orcs, Bofur remained silent as the others screamed their battle cries. Perhaps he really should stop saying things like that, just to be safe. After all, he really didn’t want any of the things he had been about to say to actually happen.

The battle lasted for hours and after that, they searched the battlefield for injured and dead warriors. It was only in the afternoon of the following day that Bofur finally had the time to wash the blood off and get some sleep.

When he woke, the other members of the company were gathering for a meal, though which meal it was, none of them could say. It consisted of cram anyway.

They mostly ate in silence, still weary from the battle and the awful things they had seen happen during it.

“I’m curious,” Glóin said finally. “About whose death were you about to speculate, Bofur?”

Bofur swallowed. “I shouldn’t have said anything, I’m sorry.”

Balin frowned. “Just say the names, we won’t put you in the dungeons for it, laddie.”

Bofur looked down at his hands. “Thorin,” he whispered. “His heirs. Maybe all of us. I’m not entirely sure.”

Thorin blanched and swallowed. He turned to Bifur and Bombur. “I think you two will be the first to receive an award for services to the newly refounded kingdom of Erebor. Thank you for stopping Bofur before he could finish that sentence; I will be forever in your debt.”