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Benders

Chapter Text

Bilbo observed Thorin curiously as he led the company around the river channel. There was something different about Thorin that made him stick in Bilbo's mind but he couldn't put his finger on it. He'd worked out all the other dwarves' elements but he couldn't figure what Thorin's was. Most dwarves were rock or fire as illustrated by the company. Poor Ori stuck out a bit as an air but it could've been worse. Most Hobbits were either earth or air and from what he gathered elves were similar in this respect. Bilbo himself was actually an omni or rather a bender who could master all the elements. No one had ever known though, except his parents, so everyone assumed he was an earth. After all, his tomatoes were prize winning.

There was just something different about Thorin. He'd tried asking the others but it seemed in dwarven culture, ones element was not be disclosed by others. In fact, the look Dwalin had given him suggested that the fact Bilbo knew he was a rock was suspicious. It took ten minutes for Bilbo to stammer out an explanation of his ability to just be able to tell, leaving out the omni part, for Dwalin to stop glaring.

Bilbo sighed. He just couldn't put his finger on it. He knew Thorin wasn't an earth because of the ease he had getting lost above ground. Earth's never got lost like that. He knew Thorin wasn't a fire by the way he always assigned someone else to cook or collect firewood. Fire benders tended to be pyromaniacs like Fili and Kili. Bilbo mused that Thorin could be a rock with his stoicism but that didn't quite sit right. Bilbo tilted his head curiously thinking that maybe Thorin was an air because he did have that sort of presence about him but an air should be able to detect another air which made Bilbo wonder whether Ori not actually knowing what he was, because of certain customs or whether Thorin wasn't an air at all.

Thorin called the company to a stop and they set up camp for the night. Fili and Kili eagerly set off to find firewood. Bombur starting clearing an area for cooking. Dwalin had gone off hunting with Bifur. Everyone else was setting up the bed rolls and unpacking. Well except for Thorin and Balin who were planning the next stage of travel.

Bilbo let his pack drop to the ground and began to ruffle through, gathering the items he would need tonight. Not long after he'd pulled out his bed roll did he feel the air shift around him and it took him a second longer than it should've to work out someone was actually there.

Bilbo looked over his shoulder with a small frown and noticed young Ori of all people quietly standing there, wringing his hands. He turned fully around and plastered a smile on his face in attempt to ease the poor lad's anxiety.

"What can I do for you Master Ori?"

Ori started slightly before looking down, turning beetroot and mumbling something incoherently that was something about Dwalin.

Bilbo took a small step forward. "I'm sorry. I can't quite hear you."

He heard Ori take a deep breath and look up before blurting out a long line of sounds as one word.

"MasterDwalinsaidyoucouldtellwhatpeople'sabilitieswere,"

Bilbo frowned slightly, "Uh... Yes, I can. Is something the matter?"

"W-well D-dori said only f-family should know what your element i-is but D-dori and N-nori say they don't know what mine is and they think that I might not h-have one," Ori stammered.

Bilbo smiled knowing where this was heading.

"Is not having an element common among dwarves?"

He shook his head violently.

"Do you think you don't have one?"

Once again Ori shook his head.

"You want to ask me what you are?"

Ori's head jerked upright and he met Bilbo's gaze with hopeful eyes.

"If you would be so kind Mister Bilbo,"

"Just Bilbo. And the answer is air. You are an air bender."

Ori frowned, "Air? What's an air bender?"

Bilbo sighed as looked around spotting a log to sit on.

"How about we sit down and I can explain all you need to know?"

Ori nodded and they both sat down.

"Have you ever... Felt something shifted that you couldn't explain? Like known things were where they were without knowing how?"

Ori nodded eagerly, "Nori always tries to sneak up on me but has never been successful."

Bilbo grinned," Well that's because you could sense the way the air moves. You'll also find you can be quieter than most because sound travels through the air as well."

Ori squinted at Bilbo, "Then how did you know that I was behind you?" Ori tilted his head, "Actually, you're the only one I don't scare when I walk behind them."

Bilbo's cheeks smarted. He held out his hand upwards in front of him and gestured for Ori to watch. Ori shivered as he felt the air move and stared in wonder at the little wind tunnel that appeared in Bilbo's palm.

"But I thought-" Ori cut himself off.

Bilbo closed his hand and shut of the wind.

"You thought?"

Ori blushed and looked away, "I thought you were a grocer."

Bilbo frowned slightly,"An earth bender?"

Ori turned back towards Bilbo, "Yes."

Bilbo thought back to the night when the dwarves invaded his home and how Thorin had spit out the word 'grocer' as like it was distasteful.

"Is that... Is that bad among dwarves?" Bilbo asked hesitantly.

Ori nodded, "To be a grocer-dwarf is extremely rare and looked down upon. Dwarves live in the mountain with rocks and metals as our friends. Only man and elves are grocers and weed-eaters."

Bilbo felt indignant," I'll have you know that most Hobbits are earth benders. In fact you are either an earth bender or an air bender!"

Ori turned bright red, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to offend you!"

Bilbo sighed. He knew it wasn't Ori's fault. It was the way dwarves were brought up, so he placed a hand on his back.

"It's fine Ori, don't worry."

"Mister Bilbo-"

"Bilbo,"

"Bilbo," Ori corrected himself. "Can you teach me to air bend?"

Bilbo grinned, "Of course I can."

Chapter Text

The next morning Bilbo was approached by Dori, who proceeded to help him pack up without a word. Bilbo turned to Dori with a smile.

"Thanks for that. Sometimes it's a bit hard to pack up in the morning,"

Bilbo frowned as he noticed the unshed tears in his eyes. He reached forward slightly before retracting his hand.

"Master Dori? What's wrong? Is it- is something wrong with Ori?"

Dori let out a sob and launched forward, engulfing Bilbo in a tight hug and crying into his shoulder. Bilbo caught the eye of Nori nearby who then approached and explained.

"We wanted to thank you. For helping Ori."

Bilbo nodded and rubbed soothingly on the elder dwarf's back.

"Honestly it wasn't a problem,"

Dori squeezed a little tighter before letting go.

"He was so excited to find his element!" Dori said before wiping away his tears. "He had been so down and we didn't know how to help him!"

Bilbo grinned, "Well I am happy to have been able to help."

Nori squinted at Bilbo, "Ori said you can just... Tell what someone's element is. Can you?"

"Yes," Bilbo replied. He wasn't exactly hiding it at this point and he was happy to be of some use to the company.

"So if I were to ask you to tell me what my element is, you could?"

Dori shot Nori a warning look which Nori ignored. Bilbo nodded.

"Well?"

Bilbo gave Nori a once over and thought about it for a second.

"I would've thought air given your 'slight of hand' abilities but given you didn't know what Ori was, I'd say... Fire. Which is unusual given the lack of pyromaniac tendencies you possess but I'm willing to wager that you learnt more amount controlling heat within the air and manipulating that to your advantage as that would be far more useful as a thief."

Nori grinned and in the next second, the air around Bilbo warmed, taking away the morning chill.

Dori shot Nori an indignant look and the warmth fell away.

"What?!" Nori challenged. "He's an honorary brother! He shared his gift with Ori to help him and helped Ori. The least we can do is show him ours!"

Dori sighed in a way which suggested he agreed. "You are honorary Ri-brother Master Bilbo, if you would accept."

Chuffed Bilbo replied, "Of course, and it's just Bilbo."

"Dori and Nori then."

And then Bilbo suddenly came face-to-face with a wall of stone. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the wall disappeared and he was once again looking at the eldest Ri brothers. Bilbo blinked before smiling.

"Thankyou for sharing, Dori."

The brothers looked at Bilbo expectantly before he realised what to do. Feeling a little like showing off, he pushed the air below himself and raised himself a foot off the ground. Only a foot, because anymore would've caught the attention of the others.

Both the jaws of Dori and Nori dropped before he padded back down again.

"Ori will be able to do that?" Nori asked shocked.

Bilbo smirked slightly, "Oh he'll be able to more than that."

Nori's head peaked at the challenge, "Oh yeah?"

Bilbo looked carefully around camp to see who was watching. Luckily, most were out collecting supplies or loading their packs on the other side of camp.

Bilbo turned back to Nori." I won't hurt you but this will shock you."

Nori nodded and braced himself.

The next second he was laying on the ground gasping for breath and Dori rushed over. Bilbo had pushed the air around him to push him to the ground and briefly stole the air inside his lungs.

Nori pushed himself up and accepted the brushing off Dori gave him. Meanwhile he gave Bilbo an appreciative look.

"I have severely underestimated you Bilbo Baggins."

Bilbo just gave a nod before they all headed back to camp, ready to depart for the day.

Chapter Text

The day went on without further event. The weather was clear. They stopped for an appropriate amount of breaks. In the spare time Bilbo began teaching Ori some neat little tricks to get revenge on Fili and Kili. From what he had heard, they might 'accidentally' set fire to something of Ori's once and he wanted to be prepared if something 'accidentally' happened again.

Bilbo and Ori rode at the end of the company, out of earshot so they could privately discuss their element.

"A big thing to remember is that Air can be manipulated around other elements. Air is very important in everything we do and it is rarely ever not present so you'll never have much problem in that aspect."

Ori nodded slowly, "How can Air effect Fire?"

Bilbo grinned cheekily. "Master Ori, what do you think fuels a fire?"

Ori's eyes widened comically.

"Air can be used to smother a fire, redirect it, enlarge it and best of all, manipulate it."

"I don't follow,"

Bilbo sighed. "You understand the concept of how fire benders function? How they create flames, control the movement of flames and generally are masters of it?"

"Nori tried to teach me. I understand bits."

"Well," Bilbo shifted in his saddle slightly. "You can do the same by directing the fuel it needs. You can change the direction of the wind. You can remove air from one spot and you can concentrate it on another."

"Oh right."

There was a long silence between them as they rode on up the horrid hill.

"Bilbo?"

"Yes?"

"How do I control the air?"

Overall, the day had been peaceful which should've clued Bilbo in that something was bound to happen.

It was later in the day, after they'd set up camp that Bilbo had been assigned to deliver Fili and Kili's dinner to them while they were watching the ponies.

It didn't take him long to find them but when he did he noticed the tension in the air immediately. Frowning he put the two bowls down next to the pair, who still hadn't noticed him.

"What did you two do?"

Both erupted with a quiet-like squeak and jumped.

Bilbo frowned and put his hands on his hips.

"Well," Bilbo said impatiently.

"Well there were 16 ponies - " Fili began.

"-And now there's only 14." Kili finished.

Something heavy shifted in the air around them and Bilbo quickly shushed them. A few seconds later, they watched as two Trolls went by, both carrying a pony in each hand.

This is not good, Bilbo though to himself. Not good at all.

Silently the trio followed the Trolls to their camp and found a third troll watching the rest of the ponies while stirring a pot.

"Well off you go Master Baggins," Fili whispered with a little shove.

Outraged, Bilbo whipped round. "What?!"

"Well you are the company's burglar, are you not?" Kili whisper-replied.

Bilbo watched as they silently backed away.

"We'll be right here-"

"-Promise-"

"-And if you get into trouble-"

"-Hoot once like a brown owl and twice like a barn owl-"

And with that the princes disappeared into the scrub, leaving Bilbo alone with the Trolls and ponies.

He sighed but silently made his way around the camp site. He noticed that the Trolls were arguing about cooking (as if they had any clue) before he finally reached the ponies.

Circling the pen, he found the gate and how it was tied shut with a thick piece of coarse rope. He tried in vain to undo the knot. He thought about setting the rope on fire but he'd be sure the Trolls would smell it. He thought about using earth or rock to push the ponies above the fence but realised that might spook the ponies. He quickly came to the solution that pushing air through the knot was the only way about it.

It took only two seconds but the ponies were freed. Bilbo silenced their footsteps and his own as he went to follow their departure. Unfortunately Bilbo has never really been lucky.

He must of walked too close the the back of the Trolls because the next thing he knew, he was covered in troll boogies and being interrogated by half-witted Trolls.

Chapter Text

"What's this then?" The troll started, obviously a bit disturbed by what had seeming just come out his nose.

"I'm an omn-Hobbit!" Bilbo gasped out in disgust. He tried in vain to wipe away some of the troll snot from his face.

"An onmhobbit?" The troll frowned in confusion.

"Can we eat it?" Another troll asked.

Bilbo, who'd been concentrating on finding a way out piped up indignant, "You most certainly cannot!"

The troll looked affronted. Bilbo almost apologised for being rude before he remembered what was happening.

"Maybe we should just put him in the pot any ways?" The second troll suggested and Bilbo had quite had enough.

He pushed air in the troll's grip forcing him to drop him. Then using his earth-bending skills, he wrapped large and thick vines simultaneously around each of the trolls, tripping them up and pinning them all the ground. Dusting his hands of dirt, he then used the air to rid himself of the horrible snot. Unfortunately though, it had still stained his clothes and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.

A large battle-cry scream erupted behind him, immediately putting him in defence only to find it was young Kili, who'd tried to run to his defence and now only looked completely gobsmacked at the trolls bound and struggling.

He then looked between Bilbo and the trolls with a frown upon his face.

He opened his mouth to ask a question before he was interrupted by the rest of the company charging through the scrub.

Thorin was the first to make the connection and glowered at Bilbo before turning away.

"Don't worry," Bilbo started. "The sun will come up soon enough."

Thorin turned back with a scowl. "And what of the ponies, Master Burglar?"

Bilbo's eyes widened comically as he looked around frantically. Dammit, he thought. It's always something.

Before long, Gandalf arrived, looking far to amused at the hobbit and King glowering at each other and the bound trolls, still struggling.

"Are they gonna kiss?" One troll asked another. Immediately both parties looked away. Thorin to glare at the trolls and Bilbo to notice Gandalf as the company hid their snickers under the guise of coughs.

With a dramatic pause, Gandalf decided to announce his arrival with a booming "Let the dawn take you!" the boulder he was standing upon then cracked revealing the sun and turning the trolls to stone, Thorin still glaring at them.

Kili leaned into his brother with a snicker, "Takes a whole new meaning to stony glare."

Thorin turned angrily to stomp off, mumbling something about a cave.

Fili turned to Bilbo with a smirk, "Don't worry about him. He can be a troll sometimes."

The company snickered before turning to follow their leader into the wood. Bilbo hung back a bit to talk to Gandalf.

"Where did you go?" he asked.

"To look forwards, my dear boy." He replied unhelpfully.

"And what brought you back?"

"Seeing you covered in troll snot," Gandalf chuckled, speeding up before Bilbo could reply.

Bilbo huffed in anger. Bloody wizards, he thought as he rushed to catch up.

Chapter Text

Bilbo followed the company through the forest, a bit behind when he heard the comical groan of disgust from everyone. He would've laughed until the smell assaulted his nose too.

Discreetly, he renavigated the air around him so he didn't breathe any more of it in.

"What is that smell?" Kili groaned.

"That, my lad, is the smell of sleeping trolls." Gandalf replied, before Bilbo watched him disappear behind some scrubs. Hesitantly, he watched see of the more battle-hardened dwarves follow Gandalf. Bilbo himself, elected to stay outside. There was no discreet way to get that amount of troll-ridden air away from his nose.

After a couple of minutes the rest of the company came out of the cave. Thorin with a new sword, Bofur and Bifur looking like they'd won the lottery and Gandalf with two swords, one man-sized and one suspiciously smaller.

Bilbo didn't need to be able read minds to guess why Gandalf had the latter one.

"No. I don't need a sword. Thank you very much, Gandalf."

Gandalf gave Bilbo a look a mother does to her misbehaving child.

"You need a backup. And remember, true courage isn't about knowing when to take a life but rather when to spare it."

Bilbo begrudgingly took the letter-opener thinking about the rare times Gandalf isn't cryptic.

The company chatted among themselves, hungry and exhausted from the last night.

"We must move on. Daylight is wasting." Gandalf boomed, being the only one who didn't need to eat and sleep like normal people.

A distant thumping sounded through the ground, getting closer every second. The company immediately went on the defensive, creating a wall of dwarves toward the incoming sound. Tension built as the sound grew nearer and nearer. All the dwarves were getting antsy.

Then over the little mound in the forest, came the most peculiar thing Bilbo had ever seen.

Radagast the Brown.