- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Suicide
- Alternate Universe
- Fix It
Chapter Two A
Thorin put off reminding Bilbo of the world outside the steamy haze they had cocooned themselves within for as long as he possibly could – his beautiful Hobbit husband had fallen into a peaceful doze after his earlier panic had been quelled and Thorin was loath to disturb the rest that Bilbo so clearly needed – but eventually the luncheon hour grew near enough that he could no longer ignore it.
“Ghivashel,” Thorin spoke, prompting Bilbo to stir in his arms. The Submissive blinked his eyes open and looked up at Thorin with so much trust and affection that it momentarily took the Dominant’s breath away. “We need to dress. I dare not put off getting a proper meal in you and the Company will wish to see you as well.”
“I’ve missed them,” Bilbo murmured, stretching. “I’m sorry about earlier.”
“It was a perfectly natural reaction,” Thorin replied. “You went through hell, Bilbo. I would be concerned if you were not affected by all that happened.”
“I thought I was okay,” Bilbo said, not protesting when Thorin carried him up out of their bath.
“You will be,” Thorin promised, “It will take time, perhaps longer than you may like, but you will be.”
Thorin sat Bilbo atop one of the obsidian countertops, cushioned by one of the thick golden towels they owned. He used a second to carefully dry every inch of his love, from the curls on his head – sunshine and fire and shadow all at once – to those on each little toe. It would not do for Bilbo to catch a chill after everything else he had endured.
“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Bilbo spoke.
“I want to,” Thorin replied earnestly and was rewarded when Bilbo nuzzled their noses together – an innocent and much used gesture of affection in the Shire.
After drying himself off in perfunctory fashion and tying a towel closed around his waist, Thorin helped Bilbo down off the counter and wrapped him up as well.
“These are the softest towels I have ever felt,” Bilbo told him, “And I spent most of my childhood in Rivendell.”
“They silk they were made with was harvested from Milk Spiders and imported from the east – one of the final shipments Thrór ordered before Smaug descended. You may eventually hear the Tailors’ Guild refer to it as grade three, because there are only two silks superior to it in quality and rarity in all of Arda,” Thorin related, taking Bilbo’s hand and leading him into the hallway that was connected to their bathroom.
“I think I recall Lindir moaning about this kind of silk once or twice,” Bilbo laughed a bit, “He was very dramatic as he lamented how impossible it was to get a hold of.”
“Blacklocks despise Elves more than any other clan of Dwarrow; they would burn their own stock before they sold it to an Elf,” Thorin admitted, “They are also… more violent in nature and their caste-based society is quite rigid. I imagine you would find it extremely distasteful.” That was an understatement, Thorin knew, as Bilbo would surely be made horrified and furious by the majority of the people in Ulf’s kingdom. He quickly continued, “The silk was made by artisans skilled in the Craft. Over half of your clothing was made from the material.”
“Wait, what?” Bilbo demanded, only to gape when Thorin guided him into the space that would serve as both his closet and dressing room. “When you said you had clothing for me, I thought… by the Grace of the Green Lady, Thorin, I could wear a different outfit every day for a year and not wear everything in here!”
“There is a year and three months’ worth of everyday clothing ready for your use; that was all I had time to have commissioned while you were gone,” Thorin supplied helpfully.
“I had rooms devoted to clothing in Bag End and the Nórui tower in Rivendell.”
Thorin nodded, “Fíli and Kíli might have mentioned that. They’re shameless snoops, just like their mother, which is, at times, quite useful.”
“Even still, I did not have half the amount of garb as is in here.”
“I had to ensure that you had clothing aplenty, as is fit for the Arch Consort of Erebor,” Thorin said.
“You have… you still want me to be the Arch Consort?” Bilbo inquired softly.
As Thorin’s husband, he already was a Consort, as the title was used for all spouses of Ereborian royalty, and he had to be obeyed implicitly by everyone outside the Royal Family. Once officially declared the Arch Consort during a session of Court, Bilbo’s authority in the Mountain would be second only to the King of Carven Stone.
“I would have none other save you,” Thorin assured. He hesitated for a moment before walking over to a pair of smooth silver doors and sliding them into the walls, “Our dressing rooms are connected this way – these doors can stay open or closed as it pleases you.” Retrieving a ring from his vault, he returned to Bilbo’s side and held it up for him to see, “This is your signet ring, it marks you as a member of the Royal Family.”
“It’s made of Mithril,” Bilbo noted, letting Thorin slide it onto his thumb.
“They all are and each one is unique. All have the Crest of Durin, but while mine has a wolf and Orcrist,” Thorin offered his up for examination, “Yours has-”
“Sting surrounded by roses,” Bilbo said.
“Among its many uses, it is the key to your vault. That door there,” Thorin gestured to his left.
Despite his obvious confusion, Bilbo still walked over to the door and pressed his signet ring into the lock. The door popped open and Bilbo swung it easily toward him – Thorin had purposefully designed it to be light, ever mindful of his Hobbit’s physical capabilities. He was by no means weak, but there was no denying that even the average Dwarf was far stronger than he – Bilbo more than made up for it with his determination and loyalty and fierce love.
“Thorin Oakenshield,” Bilbo breathed after a long minute of utter quiet, “If I learn that you emptied the Treasury to make all of this, I will be very cross with you.”
Thorin laughed, “You saw the obscene amount of wealth in the Treasury, Lasleluh, you know that I did not.”
“Still… there is a not so small fortune in here, Thorin.”
“Yes,” Thorin agreed, because it was true. “You can consider it a portion of what you are due as a member of the Company, if you like, though it was not intended to be. Except for the more intimate pieces, those are definitely gifts.”
“Oh no, mister, I gave my share to Bard and Thranduil,” Bilbo crossed his arms across his chest and frowned at Thorin in mild consternation.
“It was unanimously agreed amongst the Company that you shouldering that entire burden was hardly fair, or right, and so the cost was evenly split fourteen ways. It was a matter of honor and justice,” Thorin related, kissing Bilbo’s scrunched up nose tenderly. He picked up a flat oaken box from the nearest shelf and carried it over to the plush cream chaise that sat, at an angle, in one corner of Bilbo’s closet; in between the silver floor-length mirror and the equally ornate dressing screen. “The things in here belong to you. I took them from you at the pinnacle of my madness and I spent each day since then regretting it.”
Bilbo sat beside him on the chaise and looked at him in silence for a moment before removing the lid and carefully setting it to the side, exhaling sharply as he caught sight of what the chest had concealed, “My beads and my shirt.”
“When I came back to myself and realized what I had done… I would have shorn myself bald had Dwalin and Dori not held me down. I was not allowed to be left alone with weapons until I swore not to use them against myself,” Thorin revealed softly, shamefully.
Bilbo looked up at him sharply, understanding writ upon his lovely features, “I was briefly furious with my parents and Gandalf for pulling me out of Mordor.” Thorin felt himself choke at that. “But, I’m quite grateful they did so now. I rather adore your hair, Thorin, and I’m glad our family stopped you from cutting it.”
And Thorin knew that Bilbo was not simply speaking about the locks on his head.
“Can you put my beads back in?” Bilbo requested, “I’m positively hopeless at braiding my own hair.”
The happiness that Bilbo’s adjure brought crashed through Thorin’s body. An avalanche of sacred rock, it cascaded all the way down his person, grounding him and granting him, for the first time in his life, the surety that he was truly capable of handling the inviolate duties assigned to him at birth. There was no doubt that Mahal had known exactly what he was doing when he had bound Dwarven and Hobbit souls together, because with Bilbo at his side, Thorin could move mountains – he could be the ruler that everyone needed him to be.
“Of course I will,” Thorin granted, and if his voice shook a bit, Bilbo did not call attention to it.
Thorin rose briefly to fetch a comb and beading loop from Bilbo’s dressing table – most of the beads he had been tasked to weave in were far too intricate to simply slip on – and the returned to his husband’s side. Sitting cross-legged with Bilbo facing him, Thorin selected the first section of hair to be braided, which was to be a shade thicker than the other six, and carefully ran the comb through it.
“I’ve never seen pearls in those colors before,” Bilbo pointed to the comb, “Blue and green and hues in between.”
“They are cave pearls from the Iron Hills,” Thorin said, “Erebor has them too, in some of the hot springs, but they come in shades of red, orange, and yellow due to the difference in minerals in the water. The pearls were a wedding gift from Dáin to you. My cousin said that you impressed him mightily during the Battle and that he would be glad of the chance to meet you properly one day.”
“You mean when there’s not a war on?”
“Exactly. Dori suggested using the pearls to create one of your evening raiment, which was done, and then I set those that remained into this comb and a matching brush and hand mirror,” Thorin told him as he carefully twisted soft groups of hair into a seven-strand braid.
“Along with diamonds, golden butterflies, and ivory flowers,” Bilbo noted. “It’s gorgeous, everything is. Balin briefly spoke of there being protocol about what I’m meant to wear at certain times.”
“You can wear whatever you wish whenever it pleases you,” Thorin declared, placing the largest of the twenty-one beads at the end of the braid and securing it in place with a tiny hair tie.
The Beads of Betrothal and Marriage were crafted by every Dominant Dwarf upon their coming of age if they knew they had a One waiting for them. These beads were then constantly kept on a Dwarf’s person until the time came to weave half of them into the locks of their perfect mate and the other half into their own. The Bead of Courtship was another matter, only crafted after both individuals had met. Typically, The Dom presented the bead to the Sub first and, if it was accepted, the Submissive would present a bead to the Dominant seven days later, initiating the start of a typical seven-month courting period.
Thorin and Bilbo had not done things the typical way.
Only moments after Kneeling for Thorin and accepting his Collar, Bilbo had entreated the All-mother in a stunning display of Green Magic and created a bead shaped like a blossoming purple rose, which he had given to Thorin without delay. Thorin had affixed it to the end of a Courtship Braid gladly and had found, with time, that the gem – it had to be a gem though Thorin had no name for it – held some of Bilbo’s magic inside of it, for the braid never became unraveled. Thorin had not even waited seven minutes before he had offered the bead he had forged only the day earlier in return, a golden cylindrical piece marked by a Mithril wolf and blessed with an ancient good luck charm.
Only two days later, the pair were wed.
Bilbo chuckled a bit,” You love tradition when it means you can spoil me with gifts, but the moment it inconveniences me you throw it out the window.”
“Well, yes,” Thorin shrugged, because it was true and there was no point denying it, and gently turned Bilbo’s head to the side to better reach the hair he needed next.
“Ridiculous Dwarf,” Bilbo said fondly, “I followed Elven protocol in Rivendell and Lothlórien and Hobbit customs in the Shire, so I can dress as your people expect me to here in the Mountain. I draw the line at shoes, though.”
“No one would dare suggest you wear them,” Thorin promised warmly.
Bilbo prodded Thorin’s knee, “Tell me.”
“The three primary tiers are day raiment, evening raiment, and court raiment,” Thorin illuminated as he worked. “Every outfit in the first category, which is also the largest, is made of grade three silk and has gemstones sewn onto the outermost parts. Your evening raiment are made of grade two silk – which comes from the Giant Spiders – and are more elaborately adorned, with jewelry sets to match them all.”
“How many…” Bilbo trailed off.
“Seventy,” Thorin answered all the same, “And you have half that number in the third group. The biggest differences with your court raiment are that they are all cut in Dwarven-style, complete with cloaks and gloves, and have either purple or green incorporated into them, as those are your official colors. The clothing is all separated by what group it belongs to, if that is a help to you.”
“Alright, that seems simple enough, I suppose,” Bilbo replied, “And utterly extravagant at the same time.”
“I think ‘utterly extravagant’ better describes the festival raiment that Dori has planned for you,” Thorin commented wryly.
“I tried to have it toned down, but I was outvoted.”
“You’re the King!” Bilbo protested.
“Only to a point where you are concerned, which is all your doing,” Thorin teased, “You did name them Baruf, after all, and they take the responsibility very seriously.”
“I know they do, they scolded me terribly when they learned I couldn’t swim,” Bilbo stated with a sigh as Thorin arranged the last bead of the fourth braid into its place with the wire loop, “And they had this horrible idea of trying to teach me. I told them repeatedly that Bagginses can’t swim, but they didn’t wish to listen.”
“You were burning up with fever at the time,” Thorin reminded, “And I do not believe you learning such a vital skill is so terrible a scheme.”
Bilbo looked at Thorin, “Thorin, darling, when I say I can’t swim, I mean that quite literally. I understand the mechanics of swimming just fine, but Bagginses, Tooks, and Brandybucks are incapable of staying afloat in deep water. Certainly, there are Hobbits amongst the other families who swim – though most avoid the activity, regardless – but I cannot be counted amongst that number.”
“Why is that?” Thorin asked in surprise.
“Hobbits of the three Noble Families all bear the weight of Green Magic, even though only Submissives can wield the heights of it,” Bilbo told him, “The Mother’s Grace is a dense thing and that manifests in unusual ways, I suppose.”
“I thought all of Yavanna’s sons and daughters had magic,” Thorin remarked evenly.
“Perhaps a sort of it,” Bilbo responded, turning his head in the other direction at Thorin’s urging, “Though it is not really considered such by my own people. The natural abilities all Hobbits have – feeling the earth, encouraging it to be bountiful, growing fauntlings – are perfectly normal for us. It is like the Dwarven abilities to sense gems in stone and craft absolute masterpieces; they are the little, day to day magics that are always with us.”
“Yes, I see,” Thorin said, because he understood the point Bilbo was trying to make easily, “What is the norm for one group of people may seem other to a second group and vice versa. At any rate, I’ll ensure the swimming lessons are placed in indefinite hold.”
“Are they angry with me?” Bilbo inquired then, the touch of real fear catching Thorin’s attention, “For leaving so suddenly?”
“Not in the slightest,” Thorin was quick to assure, “They have missed you so much, Ûrzudel, and will be overjoyed to see you once more.”
Bilbo relaxed minutely, “I’ll be very glad to see them too. Is there anything else I need to know about the clothes?”
Thorin did not protest the subject change, “You have a crown that you can don or not as you please. As the King, I must wear mine whenever I am out in public, but there are no such regulations for the rest of the Royal Family. They are encouraged at Court, but not mandatory – you will find Fíli and Kíli almost never wear their own.”
“Is it heavy, my… crown?”
“It is made of Mithril and green diamond. It weighs about as much as your beads do altogether,” Thorin said. “Aside from the crown, you have clothes to garden and paint and cook in, sleepwear, autumn and winter coats and cloaks, and training garb ready for you.”
“Everything I could possibly need,” Bilbo echoed Thorin’s earlier words, “And then some.”
“That was my intent.”
“Thank you,” Bilbo murmured, “I honestly don’t know what else to say, just… thank you, dear heart.”
“You’re most welcome,” Thorin replied, finishing the second of the three braids on the right side of Bilbo’s head and moving to start the third, “I will do anything for you, Bilbo, anything. You need only ask it of me and I will see it done.”
“I want to never have to leave your side again, though I know how absurd a wish that is,” Bilbo revealed pensively.
“It is not,” Thorin contradicted, “And I will be more than happy to grant it. I do not wish to be parted from you either.”
Thorin was exceedingly doubtful that a time would come when he would be comfortable without his husband directly within arm’s reach. The very idea seemed like the worst kind of nightmare, if he were being perfectly honest with himself.
“I can barely contemplate the notion,” Bilbo stated, the words a mirror to Thorin’s own thoughts on the matter, “It’s unbearable to imagine us being separated again – it hurt so much before.”
“I will fight tooth and nail to keep it from happening again,” Thorin oathed. “There, Madtithbirzul, all done.”
Seven braids framed his face, twenty-one beads split unequally between them. The braids were flanked by an enchanting mess of curls that just reached Bilbo’s bare shoulders, marginally brushing the tips of the boldly hued wings inked across Bilbo’s back. Beautiful was not word enough to describe Bilbo Baggins; alluring, beguiling, and transcendental were, perhaps, better ones, but they still were not good enough.
“I suppose I ought to dress then, unless you would prefer to skip lunch and take me to bed.”
“You need to eat,” Thorin replied, trying and mostly failing to sound stern about it, “Besides, the Company will surely revolt if they learn I kept you from seeing them for longer than absolutely necessary.”
“Yes, alright,” Bilbo stood and stretched, letting the towel fall away as he did, “Are there underclothes somewhere?”
Thorin had to shake himself before he could reply, “In the armoire. The champagne-colored pieces are for the colder months and the cream ones are for the warmer ones.”
“The cream are linen,” Bilbo noted as he explored the contents of the wardrobe, “And are these wool?”
“Woven from the hair of Ebrian rabbits,” Thorin nodded, moving quickly to retrieve his own set of underclothes and a suitable outfit, keeping Bilbo within his line of sight, “It’s lightweight, but also soft and warm. There used to be thousands of them living on the mountainside, but they vanished when the desolation came to Erebor. So far, no one has spotted any signs of their return; they may very well be extinct.”
“Where did the material for these come from then?” Bilbo asked as he pulled a pair of pants on.
“Erebor is rich in many things besides gold and gems, Khajmel. Salt, coal, and chalk, to name a few, have been mined in abundance as well. There are great storehouses full of extremely useful resources that the cursed worm took no interest in; miles and miles of Ebrian wool was in one of them. A portion was set aside for the Royal Family’s use, but most of it was distributed amongst the people over the past year – I will have no one freeze in my kingdom.”
“Of course not,” Bilbo agreed lovingly, “You’re far too good a person to allow that. Is that where the wood for all the furniture and the shelving in here came from, a storehouse? Was there a type of tree that used to grow this silver and gold wood on the slopes of the Mountain?”
“The wood was a gift from Thranduil’s Queen, given to Erebor when my grandfather was just coming of age. It’s called Twixenwood and only Queen Gwilwilathel knew the secrets of growing it; her grove died with her, a few years after I was born. I split most of the wood between you and Tauriel” Thorin shrugged his overshirt on and buttoned up his trousers, “I figured that the two of you would appreciate it better than anyone else. Your day raiment begins on the far side of that wall.”
“Does it matter which I choose?”
“Not at all.”
Bilbo nodded once and then picked the first outfit up, “I’ll just wear them in order then; at least until I have the time to properly sort through them.”
“You should wear your Mithril shirt beneath your other clothes,” Thorin blurted out before he could stop himself.
“Do you think I’m going to be attacked?”
“It’s certainly not probable, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossibility,” Thorin responded. “Anything could happen. Not that you’re not safe here, because you are, but…”
“Are you wearing armor, darling?”
“You want me to wear it because it will make you feel better,” Bilbo concluded.
Thorin winced a bit, “Yes.”
“Alright,” Bilbo conceded.
“Really?” Thorin questioned, astonished by the easy capitulation.
“Really,” Bilbo confirmed. “Healing a relationship takes the combined efforts of both participants, not just one. If me wearing the Mithril helps you, then I will do so gladly. I’ll keep Sting at my side if you like, as well.”
“I would be most grateful,” Thorin accepted, “And relieved.”
“Mind you, I’m still bloody awful when it comes to properly wielding her,” Bilbo said, plucking the armor from the box and working it over his head, “It’s been mostly luck that I’ve had any success at all with using a sword or any other close combat weapon. I’m better with archery, and throwing knives, and my magic, of course – ranged things.”
“I can fix that,” Thorin returned, already plotting out a training schedule for his husband in his head.
“Oh,” Bilbo gasped, staring down into the oaken chest intently.
Thorin wanted to hit himself as he remembered the two other things that were inside, things that had been tucked under the shirt. It certainly was not the crown that had produced the blush painting Bilbo’s cheeks a rosy hue.
The Collar that Bilbo lifted delicately out of the chest had been crafted at the pinnacle of Thorin’s grief and regret. It had been designed to mimic the one he had cut off of Bilbo’s neck so cruelly on the Battlements, with seven cords of braided Mithril replacing the green leather that had been easily sliced through and a lock of green diamond substituting for the golden one of before. The inscribed endearments were the same as they had been, but the ones on the new Collar were filled with slivers of Habanûrzudaz – a feat that had proved to be exceptionally challenging, but Thorin had been determined that Bilbo would never have to fear the dark again.
“That, too, is yours, but please don’t allow its existence to trouble you; I have no expectations,” Thorin said lowly.
Bilbo bit his lip briefly, “Do you not want me as your Submissive anymore?”
“That’s not it at all,” Thorin moved to stand in front of Bilbo and cupped his face with all the reverence he was capable of. “Your Submission was a gift that I should have treated as priceless and I… I took it for granted, as if it were something I was owed. I let arrogance and unchecked pride pry away the shields of honor and reason from my mind and madness took me as a result. I failed you as your husband, as your Dom, and as your One. When I cut…” Thorin closed his eyes in pain, “When I cut your Collar off, I forever lost the right to ask for that level of trust from you again.”
“You don’t have to ask,” Bilbo all but whispered, “I trust you, Khaeluh, and you didn’t fail me. I won’t deny that what happened on the Battlements that day hurt me, because it did, a great deal, but you were not in your right mind. Even as furious as you were, you did not intentionally attempt to harm me physically. The cut was an accident.”
“I should have exercised greater; no, I should not have done it at all.”
“Yes,” Bilbo agreed, “But the sickness is gone. You beat it when no one else in your line ever has. I am proud of you, Thorin, not afraid of you… please don’t be afraid of yourself. You’ve spent a year punishing yourself, is that not enough?”
“I don’t know,” Thorin replied honestly, “It doesn’t feel as if it is.”
“Guilt is a noxious thing,” Bilbo asserted, “It can eat away at your soul if you do not keep it at reasonable levels.”
“Do you still want me to be your Dom?” Thorin asked, because the answer was far more important than any other consideration.
“Yes,” Bilbo professed without hesitation. “There is no one else I would consider ever Submitting for. You are it for me, whether I wear your Collar or not.”
There had been dregs of hope he had not been able to quell during the bleak period that Bilbo had been gone, hope that one day Bilbo might grant Thorin the permission to Dominate him again. Thorin had believed that if such hope was sound it would take Bilbo years to build up his faith in Thorin to the point where such an occurrence could come to pass. Truthfully, most of him had been sure that there was no chance of his husband doing anything of the sort.
Bilbo really did love proving him wrong.
“We can speak to Balin after Luncheon then,” Thorin said, “And he can draw up a Collaring Contract for us.”
“We didn’t have one of those before,” Bilbo tilted his head in open curiosity.
“Which was negligent of me,” Thorin opined, “I intend to rectify all of my past mistakes.”
A Submissive who willingly wore a Dominant’s Collar for more than three days without both parties signing a Collaring Contract was automatically subject to Erebor’s regulations. The rules for non-contacted Subs were archaic and, thus, stringent enough that Thorin knew Bilbo would find them more than a bit debasing – a non-contracted Sub, for example, would have to receive written permission from their Dom each and every time they wished to travel anywhere outside of their residence without being leashed. Thorin fully intended to create a better standard in his Kingdom, but he could not alter those particular laws without approval from the Mavens of all seven of the Mountain’s Great Pleasure Houses, and such ratification was no easy thing to attain.
“So… what should I do with this?” Bilbo held out the Collar.
Thorin accepted it from him and took a seat on the chaise again, “Kneel.”
A gust of air escaped Bilbo’s lips and he visibly shuddered at the Dominance in Thorin’s voice moved through him, sinking to his knees in between Thorin’s spread legs, “Oh, thank Eru. I thought you were going to make me wait.”
Thorin huffed out a laugh, “I know better. Will you accept this Collar from me, as a symbol of the chains that shall shackle our hearts together, of your willingness to be the very source of my strength, and of my oath to be the shield that safeguards your body, heart, and soul from all dark things?”
“I will,” Bilbo pledged and then bowed his head.
Thorin leaned forward and settled the Collar around Bilbo’s throat, gently tapping the two ends together to lock it in place. There was no physical key – the lock required Thorin’s touch and the utterance of a special phrase.
Bilbo collapsed against Thorin’s legs, clutching at the fabric of his trousers and breathing heavily.
“Easy,” Thorin gentled, “I’ve got you.”
Subspace was an intense experience for Bilbo, Thorin knew, even the edges of it.
“I’m okay,” Bilbo managed.
“If you need a few minutes that’s fine.”
Bilbo blinked up at him, Green Magic flashing in his eyes, “We can’t be late for… something. I can’t remember.”
“It’s half-past noon and Luncheon is at one,” Thorin reminded, running a hand through Bilbo’s riotous curls.
“Mmm, yes, that,” Bilbo agreed, “Mustn’t be late. Can I suck your cock before we go please?”
“You can tonight,” Thorin countered, and it took every nuance of determination he had not to cave to Bilbo’s subsequent pouting, “There are things we have to do first.”
“Oh, are you going to fuck me again?”
Non-sexual things, Ghivashel.”
“Sounds boring,” Bilbo muttered into Thorin’s knee.
“I can guarantee they won’t be.”
A few minutes later, Bilbo looked up at him, “Can you help me up?”
“Of course,” Thorin stood, keeping an arm wrapped around Bilbo’s waist. A necessary precaution, because Bilbo’s legs nearly gave out once he was upright, “It’s alright, lean on me.”
“It’s because it’s been so long and I practically depleted my core of magic,” Bilbo related. Coming further out of the haze, he waved a hand flippantly, “You know, with the Battle and everything that came after.”
“You said before that doing so was unhealthy,” Thorin chided.
“I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“I would have understood if you had been intimate with another whilst you were gone,” Thorin said, “I would have far preferred it to you dying because of core damage.”
He would have hated it, but he would not have held it against Bilbo. He would have had no one but himself to blame, after all.
“I bound myself to you with Green Magic, darling,” Bilbo lightly touched Thorin’s rose bead, “You are the only person I can be intimate with for as long as my love for you exists. It doesn’t go both ways, if you were worried.”
“I wasn’t,” Thorin denied. “Though you have, in fact, ruined me for other people.”
Bilbo smiled at that and began dressing again, “I did figure it had been awhile – you ripped my clothed off.”
“If you behave, I’ll do it again once night falls,” Thorin said, affixing his crown atop his head.
“I think the Tailor’s Guild might commit regicide if you do,” Bilbo rejoined, admiring the russet silk brocade of the waistcoat in his hands, every point of the woven chestnut leaves accentuated with triangular slivers of orange spinel.
“They shall more likely see it as an opportunity to sell you additional clothing,” Thorin responded, buckling his boots and strapping Orcrist to his waist.
“So, you’ll be doing them a favor and building up the local economy, then,” Bilbo teased.
“Quite so,” Thorin deadpanned, picking up Bilbo’s jacket and helping him into it. “Ready?”
“I need Sting,” Bilbo said, “I think I left her in your study, with my pack… and my ripped clothes.”
“We have time enough to fetch her,” Thorin assured.
“Should I wear the crown?”
“That is entirely up to you.”
Bilbo deliberated for a moment before picking it up and placing it on his head, “I don’t want there to be any doubt. I will stand by your side in all things, good and bad, as your husband and your consort. I will surrender myself to you and be your touchstone as your Submissive. I can and will be all that you need of me.”
Thorin’s heart swelled, “There is no doubt, Lasleluh, I have complete faith in you.”