When they reached the river a little less than an hour later, you were waiting diligently atop a tall rock with your chin rested on your bent knee while the your other leg dangled over the edge. You dropped down next to Gandalf when Thorin announced you would camp here for a while and then started wandering up river, prompting Fili to call, “Where are you headed, lass?”
You turned and gave him a lopsided grin, “To find a place to clean up away from the prying eyes of cheeky dwarves. If you value your life I suggest you do not follow.”
You continued on as Gandalf chuckled and Thorin tugged the ears of the two princes, who had grown twin mischievous smirks, ordering in a warning tone, “You will not follow her and if you defy me, do not expect me to rescue you from her wrath.”
“You may as well clean yourselves up to keep your minds off it, lads,” Balin grinned, motioning to the river as the other dwarves stripped down.
Moments later you could hear their splashing and laughter, shaking your head as you ventured upstream to try and find a peaceful place to wash away the events of the past few days. You found your haven as short while later, stumbling upon a calm inlet just off the main river that housed a nice looking pool and a small waterfall born of a stream joining the river.
You did a quick assessment of the area, ever cautious for the dangers that could lurk nearby, and then slowly peeled off every layer of clothing to wash it in the cool water as best you could, laying it on a wide rock to dry in the strong midday sun when you were done. With that taken care of you could fully enjoy yourself, diving into the pool from a rock at its edge and lazily swimming towards the waterfall. You used the pressure of the gushing water to rinse out your hair and get off some off the tougher grime before ducking behind the sheet of water, giggling happily when you found that, like most waterfalls in Middle Earth, there was a small shallow cave and ledge behind it. The ledge turned out to be the perfect place to finish your clean up as the water shielded you from the prying eyes of any dwarves slow enough to not have heeded your warning and you could sit on it with your legs still dangling in the water as you gave everything a good scrub.
Once you were clean, you slipped back out into the pool with the grace of a water sprite, enjoying how the water cradled your aching body and the feeling of being clean, and then picked a spot on a flat rock to bask in the sun. It’s wavy rays warmed you most pleasantly, drying your wet skin quickly, and you would have fallen asleep with your hair fanned out around you had a call not broken the calming sounds of the forest.
Bilbo had been sent, rather unwillingly, to retrieve you so the company could continue on before night started to settle in. He flitted through the forest in an attempt to find you without calling too much attention to himself and ended up stumbling upon your haven entirely by accident. His eyes landed on your clothes first, a knowing blush settling across his face, and before he could stop himself his gaze had already found your slender form stretched out on the flat rock.
He gulped as his throat went dry and his eyes traced the curved line of your body, admiring the way the sun reflected off your pale skin and made it glow. They lingered a moment longer as he wondered how you always managed to hide the prominent curves and dips of such a distinctly feminine figure and then he snapped them shut. He quickly reminded himself he was a respectable hobbit and as such should not look upon you so rudely nor think lewd thoughts as he was, turning away from you and scrunching his eyes even more tightly shut. Taking a few deep breaths, he deliberately thought of ghastly things to calm the distinctive bulge in his trousers before calling out your name.
You bolted up from your rock, covering your breasts as you prepared to thrash whoever intruded on your privacy, but then spotted Bilbo fidgeting uncomfortably with his back to you. Despite your anger towards the hobbit, you couldn’t help but give a soft giggle at his obviously flustered position and hoped that he hadn’t seen more than your clothes as you slipped off the rock, responding to his call, “Keep those eyes closed and your back turned, Mr. Baggins. I am far from decent.”
“Of course,” he nodded quickly and patiently waited for you to pull on your clothes. You straightened yourself out after putting on your first layer of clothing before pulling on the soft dark violet tunic without bothering to tuck it into the light grey pants as you normally did. It was more comfortable to let the short sleeve tunic hang loose around your hips even without your usual stacked belts, relying instead on the straps of your short swords to keep it from riding up. You lamented the loss of your hair clip, shoving the long locks from your face as you slipped your feet into your boots. Once they were laced, you secured your short swords tightly on your hips, going a couple notches further in on the buckle than you normally did to make up for the lack of belts, and shook out your hair as you strode past Bilbo.
“Don’t doddle,” you called when he didn’t move, sure that if you’d turned to him you would have caught him staring. Upon hearing his light footsteps, you picked up a steady pace to get back to the dwarves and Bilbo sighed, noting that you were still very upset with him as the walk back was almost painfully silent and you stayed a few paces ahead of him.
Fili and Kili snickered at the two of you when you finally met up with the dwarves and you rolled your eyes, giving Fili a playful shove as you murmured, “You are only jealous that you were not sent- let your poor burglar alone.”
You had tried to keep your voice low enough that he would not hear you defending him but his hearing was on par with yours and he picked it up all the same, breaking into a grin- there was hope after all!
The dwarf princes grilled him for details as discreetly as possible as the company crossed the river and continued on the path but Bilbo kept your honor intact, claiming that he saw nothing- not even a bare toe.
You on the other hand were entirely preoccupied with the new flora and fauna that was beginning to appear along with bees the size of your pressed together fists and Gandalf finally had to restrain you from wandering off in curiosity to avoid alerting your intended host of your presence prematurely. It wasn’t too much of a loss since there was plenty for you to observe from where you were- the tales Radagast had told you of this place did not do it justice. You doubted that it was ever possible that they could have in the first place as you sucked in the sweet air and admired the varieties of clover lining the path.
Reaching a hand out toward one of the many fluffy looking bees going about its business, you and Bilbo had a similar thought- should one of these sting you (or him) would you double in size from the swelling?
You didn’t particularly want to find out, retracting your hand, and Gandalf came to an abrupt stop, “Beorn is a man who does not desire the company of others and dislikes visitors so we must introduce ourselves slowly. His temper is fierce like the bear he often roams as and angering him will end in tragedy so I suggest you be as polite as you can. On my call or whistle come after me in pairs of two with a five minute gap between each set.”
He looked to you for a moment, narrowing his eyes, “Can I trust you not to wander off, (F/n)? It will be tempting to explore once his lodgings are in sight.”
“It wounds me that you would doubt me so, Gandalf,” you cried, placing a hand over your heart in mock injury as you smirked, and he gave a closed lip smile, “Then, my dear, you will come last, after Bombur who is fat enough to count for two.”
You nodded in agreement and he beckoned to Bilbo, “Come on Mr. Baggins.”
Gandalf found the skin-changer and after introducing himself and Bilbo, began the tale of your trial with the goblins, incrementally increasing the number of dwarves in his telling before each new pair appeared to not only peak Beorn’s interest in the story with the numerous pauses but to also ease into the number of people really in your company.
The skin-changer was in a much more jovial mood by the time Bombur arrived then when he'd started and Gandalf slyly continued, “Now we were on the peak of the cliff, the trees burning around us and our little hobbit friend in a bad position, when my apprentice let out a battle cry, raising her swords in the air as her hair whipped around her face.”
The man let out a deep, loud laugh, “Her? Surely you mean your apprentice to be a he, wizard. I see no maids among these dwarves.”
Gandalf acted surprised, looking over the group, and the exclaimed, “Right you are! It would seem she has become shy. I will call her.”
You heard your mentors whistle and gaily bounded to join them, seeing what he had meant about the temptation as soon as you grew close enough. There were sprawling gardens dotted with stables, barns, and sheds all just begging to be explored and, in the center of it all, a long low wooden house. You slowed to observe, noting the horses and ponies that grazed freely, and thought of Blossom before skipping to your destination.
None of Radagast’s descriptions could have prepared you to meet your host without a great deal of awe. He was a giant of a man with a jet-black beard and mess of hair, towering over even Gandalf, and could have easily cradled you in one arm like a newborn. Bowing deeply, you quickly offered up your name before exclaiming, “Come on now, Gandalf. Do not keep the poor man waiting on my account. Get on with it.”
Your impatient host let out a bark of a laugh that shook the whole room before heartily agreeing, “Listen to this little flower, wizard. Tell me what happened after she let out this battle cry! Though it can’t have been much of a battle cry when coming from one so small.”
You grinned proudly and slid in between Fili and Kili to listen to the rest of the story and study your host- everything had gone according to plan and you would now have a place to sleep tonight.