(This is a continuation of Ladywriter and the Unexpected Guests. I apologize for the delay, I was ill most of last week and didn’t get much writing of any kind done. Hope you enjoy! Here’s the link to Part I.
Harry turned, his own bright blue eyes wide with curiosity. “Ladywriter, do you know a lot of–little people with a great deal of—hair?”
Ladywriter furrowed her brow. “There’s my friend Colin, but he’s not particularly hairy . . .”
Recognition dawned on her face. “Why, it must be Thorin and his friends–”
LW raked her fingers through her still uncombed hair. Glancing down at her rumpled tee and shorts, she bit her lip.
“Oh, heavens, I haven’t met any of them other than Thorin. I really need to make myself presentable.”
She expelled a breath and looked up at Harry.
“Dear Mr. Kennedy, will you play host and welcome them in? I’ll be back in a jiffy. Took a shower last night, so I just to change and slap on a little face paint.”
Harry grinned with his typical amiability. “I’d be happy to, LW.”
A loud sniff sounded as Sir Guy tossed his raven mane with considerable disdain.
“Guy . . .”
He bared his teeth in her direction and inclined his head.
“I promise to play nice, my lady.”
“See that you do,” LW replied, brandishing an admonishing finger before disappearing to do a bit of primping.
She was no longer a spring chicken, nor was she as vain as her beloved Sir Guy, but LW did want her unexpected visitors to know she could at least clean up nicely.
In the meantime, Harry opened the door to quite a crowd congregated on the front deck and down the steps.
“Hullo there,” he said with a smile. “I’m Harry. I take it you all are here for Ladywriter’s birthday celebration?”
The tallest and most regal of the hairy little men—actually, they were dwarfs, of course—stepped forward and made a polite bow.
“Indeed, we are. I am Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of this company. I am pleased to make your acquaintance on this auspicious occasion.”
Sir Guy managed to contain his sniff, but I fear he did roll his eyes at Thorin’s words.
“And with me I have Oin, Gloin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Ori, Nori and Dori.” As Thorin named the dwarfs, each stepped forward, a sack in hand, and made a small bow before entering the house.
There were probably going to be a lot of sore necks by the end of the day, what with the dwarfs craning theirs to look up at the lads, and the lads bending theirs to look down at the dwarfs as they all introduced themselves.
Soon Porter, Lucas and Claude were in full decorating mode. Porter used his mighty lungs to blow up balloons whilst the former spy and his art instructor hung a broad and colorful birthday banner (hand-painted by the two ChaRActers) above the mantelpiece in the den.
Ori, who was quite the artist himself, looked on with interest and gave them two thumbs up when they got it straight. “I love the flowers around the lettering,” he said with an approving smile.
Monet flashed a dazzling grin at Ori. “Flowers were the inspiration for me to become an artist.”
Across the way in the kitchen (LW’s home had an open floor plan) Harry organized the food and drink, assisted by one very rotund dwarf—Bombur–who presented the Jumper-Clad One with the dwarves’ contribution to the festivities.
“Arkenstone’s Finest Dwarf Ale,” said Bombur with a nod of his bushy red head.
Harry’s eyes widened as the quantity of ale was revealed, bottles and bottles and bottles of the stuff.
For little fellows, it appeared they could put away quite a lot . . .
Harry’s brow furrowed as he shook back his floppy fringe. “I am not sure there’s going to be room in the refrigerator for all of it, Bombur.”
The dwarf shrugged his shoulders. “’Tis no matter, we will drink it at any temperature.”
“That’s right. Hot, cold, or in between, you can’t stand between a dwarf and his ale, my friend,” chimed in another dwarf. This one wore a rather silly-looking hat with a pair of dark pigtails sprouting right out of the sides of his head.
Yes, it was Bofur, he of the devilish dimpled grin . Somehow Harry suspected this dwarf would be sporting one of LW’s lampshade on his head and swinging from one of the chandeliers before all was said and done.
Bofur had moved to the stereo in the den and was sorting through the CDs. “We need to get this party started—we need some music!”
Soon the sound of KC and the Sunshine Band—who knew dwarfs were a fan of 70’s disco?—was blasting through the Surround Sound speakers as Bofur did his best Saturday Night Fever imitation, spinning his arms and pointing at the ceiling.
In the kitchen, his brother Bombur’s eyes lit up when he spied a large box of Cheez-Its. “Ooooh, I love a good cheese snack,” he said with a clap of his chubby hands before opening the box and shoving a large handful into his mouth.
Harry looked on with a bemused expression. Sir Guy—aficionado of all things Cheez-It—would not be happy.
Oh, dear, what have we got ourselves—and Ladywriter—into?
Whilst her beloved ChaRActers and their guests were busy taking over the house, LW changed into her best jeans and a favorite blouse in a festive tomato red color.
Giving her hair and teeth a quick brush, she popped in her contacts and applied a touch of liner, a coat of mascara, a sweep of blush and a swipe of red lippie. After a spritz of her J’Adore, she was ready to face all her unexpected guests.
“Oh, heavens,” she murmured under her breath as she walked into the living room. Her home was average-sized—just over 2,000 square feet—but it seemed very crowded.
One might be surprised by just how much space 13 dwarfs can take up (Bombur alone equaled at least two dwarfs), not to mention five full-sized ChaRActers.
It was not only crowded, but rather noisy, as music blared from the den stereo, mingled with an unusual number of deep baritone voices talking and laughing together.
Everyone, that is, except Guy. The knight was quiet as he lounged against the upright piano in the living room, watching Thorin and the other dwarves as they conversed. His arms folded, Guy was wearing what he thought was an impassive expression.
Ladywriter smiled at him and gave a quick pat to his arm.
Guy is never very good at hiding his feelings, bless his heart. He is certainly not happy about this latest development.
He gave her a small nod. “My lady looks lovely,” he rumbled, his face still rather somber, save for a certain glint in those blue eyes.
“So does my dark knight. Now, if he will only behave as beautifully as he looks . . .” Ladywriter said, positioning her head so that Guy alone could see the slow wink she gave him.
She saw a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
He bent his head and whispered in her ear. “I promise to be a veritable pussy cat, my lady.”
“A declawed and toothless one, Sir Guy?” Oh, I really should not tease him.
“Ladywriter . . .” There was definitely the hint of a growl there.
Ladywriter squeezed his arm, giving him another wink and turned to find the leader of the dwarves had risen to his feet.
“My lady,” Thorin said with a gracious bow. “I bid you good tidings on this special day.” He withdrew a square package tied with blue ribbon from a pocket inside his coat and presented it to LW with a flourish.
“’Tis a small token from our company to mark the occasion.”
LW smiled down at Thorin—what a handsome creature he was, and that hair!–and inclined her head. “Thank you so much for your good wishes and for this gift. I am sure I will treasure it, whatever it may be.”
Thorin inclined his head. “You are most welcome. And now, Ladywriter, may I introduce to you our company?”
LW raised her hand. “Actually, if you don’t mind, Thorin, I would like to see if I can name them all–” She gave him a rather sheepish smile. “And get the right name with the right face. I have been studying.”
LW thought she detected a twinkle in his grey-blue eyes beneath those bushy brows.
“Then by all means, proceed, my lady,” Thorin said with another small bow of his regal head.
LW nodded. “OK.”
She looked at the older grey-haired dwarf, wearing a somewhat dour expression, sitting to the left of Thorin. “You must be—Dori, brother to Ori and Nori.” LW smiled. “You’re the caring big brother who always looks out for the younger ones.”
Dori nodded and gave her an appreciative half-smile. “I do my best—although it certainly isn’t not easy,” he replied with a put-upon sigh.
LW glanced at the dwarf sitting to Dori’s left and wagged a finger. “And you, if I am not mistaken, are Nori.”
Dori would want to keep an eye on you. You’re always up to something. A bit light-fingered. But not here—I am hoping. What is that bulge in your coat pocket?
Nori grinned, waggling the multiple braids of his brown beard.
“If you are looking for little brother, he’s in the other room with your artist friends.”
Well, that made sense, LW thought. Quiet, polite, artistic Ori would very likely be drawn to that sensitive soul, her darling Lucas and the brilliant and passionate Monet.
However, she still had dwarves in the living room to identify. It was pretty hard to mistake which one was sitting next to Nori.
The rusting remnants of an Orc ax buried in his poor head was a dead giveaway. She knew the dwarf was no longer able to speak.
“Hello, Bifur,” LW said, stretching out a hand and giving him a welcoming smile. The dwarf gave her hand a firm shake, grunting in reply.
She turned her attentions to the loveseat, where a couple of handsome young dwarves, one fair and one dark, were seated.
They both jumped to their feet with the enthusiasm of youth and gave her a bow.
Ladywriter inclined her head. “I believe I have the honor of meeting—Fili and Kili, if I am not mistaken.”
“At your service,” Fili and Kili chimed in unison.
“Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake your bootie, shake your bootie!!” Someone was singing at the top of his lungs.
A dwarf with Pippi Longstocking-style braids came dancing into living room, doffing his hat to twirl it in the air above his head as he wiggled his posterior with great enthusiasm.
“This has to be Bofur,” LW said with a chuckle, shaking her head.
“At your service, my lady.” He took her hand and pressed a kiss to it even as he still kept dancing, his dark eyes full of mirth. “Happy Birthday and I hope you don’t mind us making ourselves at home.”
Ladywriter gave him a lop-sided grin. “I understand dwarves have a habit of doing just that . . .”
She glanced toward the den, where she could glimpse Porter, Lucas and Monet tying balloons to pretty much–everything, while assorted and sundry dwarves looked on.
“Well, it certainly is looking festive,” she announced loudly, slipping over to the stereo cabinet to turn the volume down just a tad.
“Oh, the banner is gorgeous! Did you lads paint it?”
Lucas and Claude glanced at each other, grinning, and nodded.
“And you must be Ori. The artist of the group.” Ori gave her a soft, shy smile, his dark eyes not quite meeting hers, a blush coming to his cheeks.
Clearly a sweetheart.
And more dwarves to identify: two on the sofa and two more in the oversized easy chairs. She restrained an impulse to giggle as they rocked, their booted feet dangling in mid-air in the rocker-recliners.
Something told her it would be bad form to laugh at—
“Hello, Oin.” LW said in a loud voice, knowing this grey-haired healer was hard of hearing. He nodded in response.
“And you must be Gloin, his brother. May I say you have a most impressive beard.”
The fierce-looking dwarf lightly stroked said beard, trimmed with a great deal of silver jewelry. He was obviously proud of it.
“Regular conditioning treatments. My wife’s beard is almost as impressive.”
That left three dwarves to name. She smiled at the venerable-looking white-haired gentleman on the sofa.
“I believe you are Balin, the Dwarf Lord and a trusted advisor to Thorin?”
Balin gave her a gracious nod. “Indeed, you are correct, my lady. Thank you for welcoming us into your home.”
As for the fearsome balding tattooed dwarf sitting beside Balin, it could only be–
“Dwalin, welcome.” Knowing Dwalin’s prejudices, LW was thankful no elves had shown up. Yet. Where would I put them if they did?
That left only one dwarf. And he was unmistakable.
The rotund red-haired fellow in the kitchen with Harry was the Company’s chief cook, Bombur.
He stopped stuffing his mouth with Cheez-Its long enough to mumble an amiable reply to LW’s greeting. Cheez-Its! And it was Guy’s favorite flavor, Hot and Spicy.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and gave her a reassuring smile as if to say, “Go with the flow, LW, go with the flow.”
“I say break out the Arkenstone ale!” Bofur cried.
Ladywriter was surprised he hadn’t already been into it.
Oh, dear. A dozen naughty, raucous, hard-partying dwarves, five ChaRActers, including a somewhat volatile knight whose favorite snack food was rapidly being scarfed down by one of those dwarves.
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy birthday,” she murmured to herself.
(End of Part Two)