- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Bilbo Baggins lay on the ground gasping for breath after the majestic but somewhat terrifying eagle released him. He stifled the urge to roll over and kiss the earth. Hobbits were not meant to fly. A hobbit kept his feet planted firmly on the ground, thank you very much. Being hurtled through the air with nothing more than feathers too hold onto was not an experience he was anxious to ever repeat. He was quite relieved to be alive and grateful to their winged rescuers for their assistance. The eagle who carried him took flight once more, even as Bilbo slowly struggled to his feet.
He stood and looked intently over at Thorin, who had been deposited as gently as possible by another eagle a few feet in front of Bilbo. He had feared the worst when he’d seen Thorin go down under the orc’s attack, but had been too busy fighting Azog to render aid.
When he had seen Thorin’s determination to confront his mortal enemy, Bilbo had been horrified and reacted on pure instinct. He hadn’t made a conscious decision – he hadn’t given any thought to his own life – all he knew was that he couldn’t let Thorin die. The very thought made his stomach sink to his toes and his heart clench painfully. So he had thrown himself headlong in between Thorin and his mortal enemy.
The events were still fresh in his mind, and the memory rose up behind his eyes as Bilbo tried in vain to push it away. But it proved impossible.
Azog came down off his warg. His need for revenge apparently stronger than his desire to remain safely above his enemies. Bilbo saw himself swing sting in a last desperate attempt to save both their lives, and it seemed that Yavanna – and perhaps even Mahal – had been watching over him because he managed to slit Azog’s throat. As blood began to spurt from Azog’s neck, Bilbo had to move away to keep from being crushed by the falling orc. Bilbo stared at Azog as if frozen as the orc clutched at his neck desperately trying to keep the blood in.
As if from far away, he heard Gandalf shout, “His head Bilbo, cut off his head.”
Bilbo was still frozen; he had never killed an intelligent creature before. At least not up close and personal. But he knew that if he didn’t cut off the orc’s head, his wound would inevitably heal and Thorin and Fili and Kili would continue to be in danger. Bilbo could not allow that so he’d taken a deep breath, and gathered all the strength he possessed for one last strike, and with a pained scream, he cut Azog the Defiler’s head from his body.
Shaking from his effort, Bilbo’s knees had given out and he’d fallen to the ground, his sword slipping free of his numb fingers to clatter to the earth. The eagles’ arrival and their subsequent journey was a bit of a blur. All Bilbo could remember was the wind against his face, and a mind numbing terror in his chest.
Bilbo was surprised how much killing Azog didn’t bother him. The simple truth was that Bilbo did not regret his actions. Nor did he feel any remorse for having taken a life. Orcs were nasty, vile creatures, and Azog the Defiler had sworn to end the line of Durin. Bilbo had vowed to protect the members of his company no matter the cost to him. It mattered not that Thorin hated him and thought he was useless. He had begun to care for his dwarves, stubborn and infuriating though they may be at times, and Bilbo protected those he cared about.
If he had stood by and let Thorin face Azog on his own, if Thorin had died, he would never have been able to face any of his company again, but especially the boys. Fili and Kili had suffered much loss already for ones so young, and Thorin was the closest thing they had to a father. No one knew better than Bilbo how losing a parent at a young age could affect someone for the rest of their lives. For all that Fili and Kili were of age, they regularly reminded Bilbo of overgrown children, and he knew they were still young for dwarves. Bilbo wanted to spare them as much pain as he could.
Within the privacy of his own mind, Bilbo acknowledged that it was himself he was protecting most from the pain of Thorin’s loss. If what he suspected about Thorin was correct, he refused to lose him before he had a chance to find out the truth. Hobbits could be just a stubborn as dwarves after all. For now though, he kept his hopes buried deep within his heart. First he had a job to do, and afterwards he could see about earning the respect, and perhaps even the affections, of a certain dwarf.
Was he too late? he wondered desperately. He felt the hysteria begin to swell up and he tears stung his eyes. Gandalf quickly leaned over Thorin and began reciting in a language Bilbo couldn’t understand, attempting to work a healing on him. Please, please, please be alright. Bilbo repeated to himself over and over as he watched. He prayed to every god he could think of for Gandalf to be successful.
He almost collapsed again in relief when Thorin opened his eyes… and asked for Bilbo.
Thorin was on his feet, and making his way toward Bilbo. He was so relieved to see Thorin was alright, that he didn’t have time to be surprised that Thorin seemed so focused on him.
He finally noticed that Thorin’s expression as dark as a thundercloud, and his heart sank. Would he never be able to do anything right in Thorin’s eyes? He had just saved Thorin’s life, for Mahal’s sake! Didn’t that earn him favor in any way? What did he have to do to prove that he was worthy of the dwarf king’s respect? How could he ever hope to rise in Thorin’s estimation when all of his actions and best intentions were met only with suspicion and anger?
“You! What you were doing?” Thorin bellowed. “You nearly got yourself killed!” Thorin sounded almost worried. Could that be true?
For a moment Bilbo’s heart lightened, and he allowed himself to enjoy Thorin’s obvious concern for his safety. However, the unexpected loveliness of the moment was ruined by Thorin’s next words.
“Did I not say you would be a burden?” Bilbo felt himself flinch at the unjust words. Thorin did not stop there, instead he dug the knife in deeper. Reminding Bilbo that as far as Thorin was concerned Bilbo had no real place amongst the company.
Bilbo felt the anger within him rise like a star shooting across the night sky and something inside him snapped.
How dare Thorin call him a burden? “Excuse me your, majesty.” Bilbo’s voice dripped sarcasm. “I just saved your idiotic life! I have done all I can to be an asset to you. I tried to tell you I was not equipped for this quest but no one would listen to reason! You are so hardheaded, and infuriating. You drive me mad!” he shouted.
“The lad certainly has Thorin’s number,” he heard Dwalin say loudly to his brother Balin. He heard some of the company laughing, albeit a bit uncomfortably. Bilbo ignored them but his anger cooled a bit, reason returning as it receded.
He took a deep breath and attempted to calm himself. “I could have been killed, true,” he said more quietly, “but what about you? What did you think you were doing, just waltzing up to Azog, facing a giant Orc all by yourself? Don’t you realize how important you are? Your nephews and comrades and people need you to survive. Your people need you to reclaim their home, and I need-“
Much to Bilbo’s shock, he was rudely cut off when Thorin grabbed him and kissed him soundly on the lips. Before Bilbo could react, Thorin released him but Bilbo noted the slight smug smile on his lips. That smile annoyed Bilbo to no end. Dwarves were so aggravating, it was unbearable. He resolutely ignored the way his lips still tingled, and the warm feeling in his stomach. He wanted to wipe that smile right off.
Bilbo didn’t think, he simply reacted and slapped Thorin right in the face. He looked up at Thorin, who was gaping at him in silence. Thorin’s hand touched his reddened cheek. Then he burst out laughing. A big belly laugh, the likes of which Bilbo had never heard from him.
Before he could get offended at being laughed at, Thorin smiled at him. “Oh my burglar,” he said, “you have spirit. You reacted just as any dwarrowdam would have at my impertinence, although admittedly with a bit less violence. If a suitor did that to my sister Dis, she would have knocked him clear across the room, if he were lucky. I would not have imagined you had it in you. I look forward to learning what other surprises you have in store.”
Any other time Bilbo would have been enthralled the wondrous sight of Thorin laughing. It was an extremely rare occurrence, and well worth savoring. However, Bilbo was too dismayed at himself. What had he done? Not that Thorin didn’t deserve to be slapped, but the only other person who had ever inspired Bilbo to violence was Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Words were Bilbo’s preferred weapons. Thorin had startled him so badly he’d just reacted.
The events caught up to him and Bilbo berated himself for being a fool! Thorin had kissed him, and he hadn’t even had time to enjoy it. Sometimes life was truly unfair. Bilbo did not let himself linger on the negative, it was not his way. He was a Took, after all. Instead, he focused on the matter at hand.
He was relieved Thorin had not been offended. In fact, for only the second time on this journey he seemed approving of Bilbo’s actions. Well third if one counted the three trolls. All of this was too much for Bilbo. He wasn’t sure how to react. Nothing in his world made sense anymore; everything had gone sideways when he wasn’t looking. Perhaps he really was losing his mind.
Thorin’s behavior had been shockingly inappropriate, it was true. His relatives would have been horrified, but privately Bilbo couldn’t deny the thrill of excitement he had felt when Thorin kissed him. Thorin might think that he was clarifying matters but Bilbo was only more confused. Why couldn’t the blasted dwarf speak sensibly? He watched Thorin carefully, almost desperate for clues.
There was intensity to Thorin’s face and an expression that Bilbo didn’t know how to read, but Bilbo felt himself flush under the assessing gaze. As Bilbo had been woolgathering, Thorin had regained his composure. He called Bilbo back to the present.
Bilbo could still hear warm amusement in his voice as he spoke. “I apologize for taking such a liberty, but it was the quickest way to silence you. Your actions this day gave me reason to think you might be amenable to my advances. I have treated you most unjustly. I’m sorry I have let my prejudices blind me to the treasure I have had in front of me all this time. I hope you will give me the chance to make amends. I will strive to be worthy of the amazing gift you have given me.”
Bilbo opened his mouth to speak, although truth be told he didn’t know what to say. Bilbo hardly recognized the man in front of him. He’d suspected that a kind, generous dwarf lay under Thorin’s hard, gruff exterior, but he’d never thought to witness it or have the force of Thorin’s charm directed at him. Bilbo did not know what to think. This new side of Thorin was making his head spin.
Thorin help up his hand and Bilbo was silent.
“If you’d let me finish,” Thorin said much more quietly. “I was going to say, that I have never been so wrong in my life. Your bravery and fortitude astounds me. I am honored and humbled by what you have done to secure the safety of myself and my line. I am not currently in a position to accept your offer of marriage between us, but I ask for the chance to court you properly in the ways of both our people.”
Now it was Bilbo’s turn to gawp. Marriage proposal, courting, Thorin accepting his marriage proposal… the words flittered around in his mind, apparently stuck on repeat. No matter how he tried, the words refused to make sense. Then suddenly sense returned to him in a rush and he realized exactly what it was that Thorin was asking of him. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing; this was a hallucination surely. Thorin could not be offering what Bilbo had secretly so badly wanted.
Behind Thorin, Kili and Fili were nodding their heads frantically. Clearly, encouraging Bilbo to accept. Bilbo would have laughed at the picture they made if not for the serious look on their faces.
Bilbo realized that not only was Thorin serious but Bilbo’s response could change the entire course of his life. Bilbo felt excitement tighten in his belly. He felt the same way as he had when he’d signed his name to the contract. He was scared but there was also a sense of rightness, of inevitability. Like every other moment in his life had led to this one.
Bilbo had learned to trust that feeling. He imagined his mother looking down on him and smiling. He knew he had to follow his heart.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. This time when tears stung his eyes they were tears of joy. Did he admit that he had no idea that the dwarves would see his actions in defense of Thorin as a marriage proposal?
He looked at Thorin’s face. He was no longer smiling, but Bilbo could see the hope mingled with fear of rejection in his eyes. He decided that discretion was the order of the day. Thorin never need know the truth that Bilbo had not intentionally proposed. He decided to grasp at his chance for happiness.
Bilbo nodded slowly and was rewarded with a blinding smile from his intended. Intended. He could hardly believe it.
But he wasn’t prepared. He had nothing to give Thorin to show his acceptance of the courtship.
Then he remembered his father’s penknife and he pulled it from the inside pocket of his coat. “If you had let me finish,” he said, “I was about to say I saved you because I need you in my life, as well. I’m not sure what I would do without you to annoy me constantly. I panicked at the thought.” He smiled at Thorin so he knew Bilbo was teasing. “I accept your offer of courtship,” he said. Around them the company cheered.
Bilbo waited until they had quieted down, and then continued. “It is the custom of Hobbits to give their intended small gifts and flowers at the beginning of the courtship. I don’t have much to offer you at the moment, but this penknife was a gift from my mother to my father during their courting. I’d like you to carry it.”
Thorin accepted the gift reverently and with a soft smile. “I’d be honored,” he said. He kissed Bilbo’s palm and then grasped Bilbo’s hand tightly.
“When they come of age, dwarves make a courting bead that will one day be braided into their intended’s hair. The bead is usually bland at the start, and as the courting progresses, the dwarf decorates the bead as he gets to know his intended better. At the very end of the courtship, the beads are exchanged. The final design illustrates the familiarity and affection that has developed during the courtship for all to see.” As he spoke, Thorin was unwinding a small silver bead from his hair.
Bilbo was touched. He almost told Thorin how sweet he found the idea but he didn’t think his dwarf would appreciate it. “That’s a charming custom,” Bilbo said softly instead.
“I gave that bead to my sister for safekeeping. I could not risk losing it on this quest. In the meantime, I’d like you to accept this silver bead, as a token of my esteem, and a declaration of my future intentions. It was the first bead my mother ever made for me.”
He handed it to Bilbo, and Bilbo could see it was decorated with words in a beautiful flowing script. It was a language he could not read. “Is this Khuzdul?” he asked.
Thorin nodded. “My mother engraved it with her first thoughts when she learned she was pregnant with me. It is not really a widespread custom among my people but it a tradition in my mother’s family. The bead is small and difficult to read. A person must be very close to do so. Sometime, when we have more privacy, I will tell you what it says.”
Bilbo’s heart hammered in his chest but his voice was steady when he spoke, much to his relief. “I accept it gladly,” Bilbo said gazing deeply into Thorin’s eyes. He hoped Thorin could hear the happiness in his tone.
“May I,” Thorin asked
“Of course,” Bilbo said softly. Part of him still did not believe this was happening but he decided to grab onto what happiness he could. The future was very uncertain, and they might all be about to die tomorrow.
So, there in front of their companions, Thorin carefully braided the bead into Bilbo’s hair.
The significance of the moment was not lost on either of them, for Bilbo noted Thorin’s hands were shaking ever so slightly. Once he was finished his fingers lingered over the braid for a few seconds, and then Bilbo leaned up, and they kissed gently. No more than a brush of lips, but it was everything to Bilbo, and left him tingling down to his toes. Thorin had squeezed the back of Bilbo’s neck gently in a very dwarven gesture of affection. Bilbo brushed his fingers over Thorn’s wrist in return, answering his affection in the hobbit way, and they shared one last smile. Bilbo did his best to memorize the look in Thorn’s eyes.
As Thorin looked away toward his mountain, and the difficult road ahead, Bilbo couldn’t help but follow his gaze. He didn’t like the loss of his future’s husband attention so soon, but he did understand they had more pressing concerns.
He allowed himself to daydream about what Thorin would look like with a crown of flowers and leaves on his head. It was tradition among hobbits to exchange courtship wreaths; they would be saved and worn during the wedding ceremony. Bilbo would have to make sure he picked just the right flowers. He’d pick one that were beautiful, yet hardy, determined to not just survive but thrive. Like his Thorin.
Thorin had to put his people first, and it was Bilbo’s job to support him any way he could. They still had many obstacles to overcome, but as Bilbo looked to the Lonely Mountain, his heart was surprisingly light. He reached up and touched his lips. He fancied he still feel the lingering heat from his beloved’s lips.
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