Cover Art by justaddgigi
Bilbo was reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed he shared with Thorin. His husband’s arms were wrapped around him, holding him fast against the broad furry chest. He was quite comfortable and loathe to move. It was rare for him to wake before Thorin and he was enjoying the chance to cuddle.
Though it was the third time this week that this had happened. Bilbo shifted just enough that he could see Thorin’s face. He carefully traced the shadows beneath Thorin’s eyes. It was likely he was just tired from the seemingly never-ending trade negotiations with the Iron Hills, but Bilbo made a mental note to talk to Óin about checking Thorin over, just in case.
Bilbo allowed himself several more minutes to laze about and just enjoy the presence of his husband but he finally forced himself to get up and start his day. It took a bit of wiggling to free himself from Thorin’s grip. He smoothed the hair back from his dwarf’s face and pressed a kiss to Thorin’s forehead before he climbed out of bed.
He soon found himself in the royal kitchens, trading hellos with Bombur and his helpers. Some of the other cooks still frowned whenever he showed up in the kitchens but after nearly five years it was mostly for show. They had long since learned not to try and stop a hobbit when it concerned food.
Bombur told him the latest antics of his children—and Bofur—as Bilbo prepared a quick breakfast for himself and Thorin. It always amused him—but never surprised him—that Bofur generally instigated much of the trouble his little nieces and nephews got up to. Once the food was done and the tea ready, he piled it all upon a few trays and allowed the kitchen boys to carry them back to his quarters.
He had tried protesting in the beginning, but Bombur had put his foot down, and Bilbo had conceded gracefully. To tell the truth, the argument had been mostly for form’s sake, as he would need to make at least two trips to carry everything on his own. He was not sure he would ever get used to having servants but he could admit they were necessary in most instances. After the boys had set everything down, he shooed them off with a few warm scones.
He was humming as he poured the tea and set everything up just so, when Thorin finally made an appearance. He was sleepy eyed and his hair and beard were yet unbrushed and unbraided. It was all Bilbo could do to stop from cooing at him; Thorin did not take well to being told he was adorable. So instead Bilbo bussed Thorin’s cheek and pushed his hair out of his face as he set a cup of tea before his husband.
“Good morning, dear,” Bilbo sat down and began fixing his own tea. Thorin grunted in reply. Bilbo hid a smile behind his cup.
Breakfast was pleasant, if mostly silent. Bilbo ate slowly, enjoying the little time they had before they must both attend to their duties. All too soon, he was finished, with nothing left to do but tidy up the dishes for the maids to take away. Thorin took his hand as he turned to leave.
“Will I see you for lunch?” he asked, voice still a bit rough with sleep.
Bilbo stepped into his husband’s arms as Thorin tugged him forward by the hand. “Hmm, I should think so, unless one of the Guild Masters attempts to murder another. Again.”
Thorin buried a laugh in Bilbo’s curls. “So, probably not.” Bilbo pinched him but Thorin merely laughed again.
“There’s no call to be so pessimistic,” he huffed.
“It is not pessimism, âzyungel,” Thorin brushed one last kiss to his lips before allowing Bilbo to pull away. “but simply knowing my people well.”
They parted ways, Bilbo to his meeting, and Thorin to make himself presentable. The last sight of his husband, sleep mussed and smiling, helped keep him calm when tempers started to rise. Still, Bilbo was glad when Balin called the meeting to a close pending research into a legal matter the head of the Jewelers had brought to their attention.
With the meeting ending early, he took the rare opportunity to enjoy elevensies before seeing if Thorin was free for lunch. Upon entering the royal kitchens, he was greeted with the welcome sight of Bombur, Bofur, and Bifur.
“Bofur, Bifur, how lovely to see you,” Bilbo said as he pulled a chair up to the table where the cousins were seated.
“Well, ain’t this a pleasant surprise,” Bofur thumped his mug against the table. Bifur murmured and made a questioning gesture. Bofur squinted at Bilbo, face so close their noses were almost touching. “Aye, that he is. Bifur’s wanting to know what’s gotcha so chipper this morn? Practically got a glow about ye, ye do.”
Bilbo leaned back in his chair, trying not to cough at the ale fumes on Bofur’s breath. “Awfully early for ale. Find a good seam, did you?” Bilbo asked, eyebrow raised. “And I’m not glowing; I’m not an elf. I’m just happy to escape the Guild Masters without any bloodshed.”
Bofur guffawed and slapped Bilbo’s shoulder. “That’s a right trick, that is. Bunch of old battle axes wouldn’t know a good...” Bofur’s voice faded away as Bilbo starred in disbelief as Bifur pulled a handful of flowers from somewhere and dumped them on his plate. He was aware that Bofur was still talking, and Bombur replying as he set out plates on the table, but all he could see were the flowers.
Bell shaped and nearly as large as his hand, the blooms were a pale silver, seeming almost to glow, faint as moonlight. Everything seemed to slow down as he watched with growing horror as Bifur raised a single bloom toward his open mouth.
“STOP!” he yelled, nearly throwing himself across the table to grab Bifur’s wrist. The world froze for an endless moment, leaving him plenty of time to note the looks of bewilderment and alarm on his companions’ faces, before the atmosphere was broken by a loud crash. Sound and movement flowed around their table like distant storm.
“Sorry, sorry,” Bilbo hastened to say, but did not let go of Bifur. “I shouldn’t have shouted like that but you mustn’t eat that.”
“Bilbo?” Bombur laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Is it poisonous? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flower like that before.”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Bilbo reassured him. “But they are very important, well, sacred really. I need to know, where did you find them?”
Bifur began speaking and signing agitatedly. Bilbo caught ‘tree’ and ‘garden,’ and knew where he needed to go. He barely remembered to let go of Bifur before he slid off his chair and scurried between the workers and out of the kitchen. He could hear his name being called behind him, but ignored it, and broke into a flat out run once he reached the hall.
He didn’t stop, ignoring the dwarrows chasing after him, until he reached the entrance to his gardens. He pressed his shaking hands flat against the door, taking deep breaths. The pounding footsteps behind him screeched to a halt. Bofur called his name but Bilbo couldn’t answer.
After one last, deep breath, he opened the door and stepped outside. There was still a chill in the air, though the morning sun shone brightly. Most of the beds were still covered, awaiting warmer weather but straight ahead, in the very center of the garden, stood a small tree that hadn’t been there before. Just yesterday he had gone out to check if the soil was ready to be turned and wondering how hard it would be to transplant a fruit tree or two to the very spot the tree now stood.
It looked very much like a small weeping willow, but the leaves were a much darker green, and dotted throughout the branches were large, bell-shaped silver blossoms. A Blessing Tree! Bilbo’s breath caught in his chest. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He’d never thought that he, of all hobbits, would be so blessed!
While he was tangentially still aware the others had followed him outside, and that Bofur at least was still trying to speak to him, all he could focus on was the tree. He stepped carefully beneath the bowed limbs, parting them like a curtain. The trunk was thick and gnarled, bark a warm nutty contrast to the dark leaves. The whorls and gnarls made fantastic handholds and he quickly climbed up to the lowest branches.
“Bilbo!” Bofur yelled up to him from the base of the tree.
“Don’t try to climb up here,” Bilbo called down to him. “I don’t think the branches are strong enough to hold a dwarf’s weight.” When he looked down, he could see that Bombur and Bifur had joined Bofur, who was wringing his hat in his hands. He tried to smile reassuringly at them but wasn’t sure how well they could see in the dappled light beneath the bower.
“Maybe you should come down here,” Bombur said.
“In a moment! In a moment,” Bilbo said. “I need to see.” He carefully eased around the trunk until he found it.
There, just above his head, hanging from a thick sturdy branch, was a tiny fruit. Nearly the same shade as the leaves, the fruit was almost invisible until you were right on top of it. Bilbo carefully reached out to touch. The fruit’s skin was fuzzy and warm beneath his fingers. So overwhelmed with awe and happiness, Bilbo almost cried when it shifted under his touch, revealing that there was, in fact, two fruits.
He snatched his hand back, covering his mouth, though he wasn’t making a sound. He knew he needed to climb back down, that he was worrying his friends, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the fruit that bore the seeds of his and Thorin’s children.
Thorin would have felt bad about abandoning Fíli to deal with the representatives from the Iron Hills, but he already felt terrible enough just being awake. His head was pounding and if he had stayed and listened to the ambassador's whining for any longer he would have ended up throttling the moron. Besides, it would be good practice for Fíli. And Dáin was reasonable enough—and close enough kin—that it wouldn’t be a big problem if Fíli screwed something up. In fact, knowing Dáin, he’d sent his most bothersome official on purpose for his own amusement.
Thorin grunted as Dwalin clipped his jaw as he dodged back too slowly.
“Stop thinking ‘bout yer husband’s bum before I knock ye on yers,” Dwalin growled. “If I’d known what a lousy fight ye was going to be, I’d’ve found me an elf to fight instead.”
Thorin growled, punching out fast enough to catch Dwalin’s shoulder as he twisted away. He ignored the way his vision swam briefly, dancing back to avoid the return jab. As much as it annoyed him to admit it, Thorin wasn’t at his best. Already he was starting to breath hard and his hits were quickly losing speed and force. He had hoped that a good brawl would clear his head, as it usually did, but now he was just bruised as well as tired and sore.
The world suddenly upended, knocking Thorin’s breath out of him as his back unexpectedly meet the floor. Dwalin’s smug face wavered above him as his body fought for breath. Unable to speak yet, he resorted to making a crude gesture. Dwalin just laughed, walking to the barrels of water on the sidelines.
Thorin thanked Mahal that they were alone, his performance had been plain embarrassing. He hadn’t felt that slow and been beaten so handily since his early days of training. He still hadn’t moved by the time Dwalin wandered back over. The guard squatted beside him, face concerned as he looked Thorin over to see if he had been injured during their spar. There was water beaded in his beard and Thorin noticed suddenly just how thirsty he was.
“Ye alright?” Dwalin asked and he held out a hand.
“‘m fine,” Thorin batted the hand away. Dwalin huffed but didn’t push it. Thorin slowly pushed himself up. He stopped once he was sitting upright to let a wave of lightheadedness pass and didn’t decline Dwalin’s hand a second time.
Thorin staggered slightly once he regained his feet. “Really? ‘Cause ye don’t seem fine.”
“It’s nothing,” Thorin forced himself to walk over to the water without a single waver. “Just a bad night’s sleep followed by a morning of dealing with asinine dwarrows who never had to work a day in their lives.”
“Aye, that could be it,” Dwalin nodded and took another swig of water. He wiped his mouth before continuing. “Or mayhap, yer just getting soft.”
Thorin jerked away from Dwalin’s poking finger but not fast enough. The guard made contact with his stomach, just hard enough to be annoying. Thorin resisted the urge to poke him right back, but that would inevitably lead to a wrestling match, and he’d no doubt lose that as well. No need to give Dwalin something else to take the piss about.
“Thorin,” Dwalin said, sounding oddly strangled, taunting lilt missing.
“What?” Thorin growled, swatting Dwalin’s hand away as he tried to touch his stomach again. Dwalin merely snuck his other hand in while Thorin was distracted with the first. “Leave off! Dwalin!”
“Thorin!” he barked and Thorin finally paid attention to the look on Dwalin’s face. His mouth was hanging open making him look simultaneously stupid and amazed.
“Dwalin? What?” Thorin froze as Dwalin grabbed his hand and pressed it next to Dwalin’s own. “It can’t be.”
His stomach was hard and the skin felt stretched taunt. It wasn’t like the hard, but giving feel of muscle he was used to, nor even the soft, plush feel of his hobbit’s familiar form. It instead felt solid, as if there was stone under his flesh, rather than muscle.
“It can’t be,” he repeated. He meet Dwalin’s eyes, wide as his own felt. “It’s not possible.”
“Well, clearly it is,” Dwalin said, not unkindly. Thorin swayed on his feet, Dwalin’s grip on his forearm steadying him.
“I have to see Óin,” Thorin blurted. “I have to — to make sure.”
Dwalin nodded and used his grip on Thorin to lead him over to where they’d stripped down earlier. Any other day he would have growled at Dwalin when he stopped Thorin from bending over to grab his tunic, doing it for him instead. But he barely noticed, too lost in his own turbulent thoughts.
The trip through the halls felt alternately to take forever and seemed to end just as they began. Óin greeted them as they entered the healing chambers but Thorin couldn’t seem to find his voice. He remained silent as Dwalin all but dragged him and Óin back to Óin's office.
“What’s all this then?” Óin demanded, trying to yank his arm free. Dwalin ignored him and forced the healer’s hand much the same way he had with Thorin. Óin's tirade cut out in the middle as he registered what he was feeling.
“Oh, lad,” he breathed, ire completely forgotten. He smiled widely at Thorin, before giving himself a shake. “Right then, tunic off, and up on me desk.
“This would be a sight easier out on the ward, but I can see why ye’d want to keep this quiet fer now,” Óin continued briskly.
Thorin stripped down again, and glowered at Dwalin when he tried to help him onto the desk. He sat, impatiently, while Óin bustled around the room. Dwalin leaned against the door, arms crossed, giving every impression he was bored. But his eyes were alert and suspiciously bright. Thorin would have to remember to tease him about it later, when he was not so stunned.
Óin finally stepped up in front of Thorin. “Right, when did ye first start feeling tired?” Óin asked as he put both hands on Thorin’s stomach. His touch was firm, but not forceful, as he prodded and poked.
“It’s only been the last week or two,” Thorin said.
Óin snorted. “If’n yer far enough along to feel it, ye’ve been tired longer than that.”
“That’s when I noticed it was more than usual,” Thorin shrugged awkwardly and avoided both Óin and Dwalin’s eyes. “Between my duties and my family and my husband, I am always a little tired.”
“I can well believe that,” Óin stepped back, grabbing a measuring tape before looping it around Thorin’s waist. “And yer urge to craft?”
“Not noticeably greater than ever,” Thorin watched Óin writing something down in a notebook before taking the measure of his chest. “Though I have had the desire make Bilbo a new crown — something more suited to him — which is new.”
“Ta be expected,” Óin nodded absently and made more notes on his measurements. “Any nausea or joint pain?”
“No, but I seem to be developing headaches more easily. I woke up with one in fact.” Óin hmmed and laid a palm along his jaw, before prodding behind his ears. Thorin grit his teeth as his hair was brusquely examined.
“Well,” Óin said as he stepped back and waved Thorin off his desk. Thorin slipped his tunic back on as Óin poked around on his shelves. “Ye’ve gained an inch since yer last measuring. Yer hair ain’t much different but yer beard is a bit softer. And ye can’t deny that.” Óin waved at Thorin’s midsection.
“Yer definitely pregnant. ‘Bout three months or so along, not yet four or ye’d have already made a right mess o’ a crown.”
Thorin considered disputing that, but there was no point. They knew his strengths as well as he did and delicate jewelry was more his sister’s domain. She would be in charge of making the babe’s first ring and he would make its first blade.
“Oh,” Thorin suddenly sat in the chair Óin maneuvered under him. “I’m going to have a babe. We’re going to have a babe.”
“Aye, laddie, that ye are,” Óin patted his hand a couple of times before going back to whatever he was doing. Thorin ignored Dwalin’s snort.
“But how is this possible? Dwarrows have never had children with other races.” Thorin couldn’t help but press his hand to the hard stone of his stomach. “Bilbo is a hobbit.”
“Aye, and his kin are loved by Mahal’s Lady Wife,” Óin pointed out. “Just ‘cause it’s ne’er happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. And who says it hasn’t happened before? As many times as we’ve been driven from our Halls, there might be a lot of things that happened that we’ve lost record of.
“After all, Durin had to find a wife somewhere.” Thorin shared a shocked look with Dwalin as Óin finally stopped in front of him. He held out a bag. “Tastes right awful but this tea will help with the headaches.
“Not much ye can do about the exhaustion ‘sides getting more sleep. If ye don’t tell Balin right quick so he can manage yer schedule, I’ll tell him meself.
“And ye need to start making it to every meal, ye can’t afford to miss ‘em any more.” Óin glared at him until he agreed. “Make sure to eat plenty of meat. Those greens yer husband keeps forcing on ye won’t hurt but cheese or nuts would be better if ye have to choose.
“And no more sparing,” he switched his glare to Dwalin, who shuffled and nodded. “Ye’ll still need exercise but no more knocking around.”
“Is that all?” Thorin asked after Óin had stood silent for a minute.
“Fer now, fer now.” He said, and shooed them out of his office. “Now find that husband of yers and leave me to me work.”
Dwalin followed Thorin out of the healing ward, through the hall and all the way back to his chambers. He would have liked to protest that he could make it fine on his own but he was still too stunned not to appreciate Dwalin’s silent support.
That didn’t mean he would tell him that, though.
Just before he opened the door, Dwalin’s hand squeezed his shoulder. “Congratulations, may Mahal smile upon you and your children, cousin.”
Thorin smiled, and grasped Dwalin’s hand. “Thank you, cousin.”
Bilbo wasn’t sure what exactly he said to Bofur and the others but somehow managed to convince them he was alright, as he was soon racing back to the quarters he shared with Thorin. He’d had to stop more than once to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He’d never in his life thought he’d be so blessed. He was so excited, he couldn’t wait to tell Thorin.
He stopped at the door to their chambers a moment to catch his breath and compose himself. He ran a hand through his curls and tugged his weskit straight. Thorin probably wasn’t even back yet; he would need to calm down and think about exactly how he was going to break the news. Bilbo couldn’t be sure but he didn’t think dwarrows had children in such a manner. After all, Bifur hadn’t recognized the flowers from the tree or surely he wouldn’t have tried to eat them. And he’d never heard tell of any of the families in Erebor who’d been blessed with children by Yavanna. No Men had ever been, either, to his knowledge.
As he opened the door, he wished longingly that the Shire were closer to the Mountain. Surely one of his Took relatives would be more than up to the task of explaining Blessing Trees, even to the densest of dwarrows.
Oh dear, he was going to need to write quite a few letters in the near future. Everyone back home would want to hear the news. And every one of his relatives would complain if they weren’t the first to know. Well, at least the distance would probably keep his relatives from competing to give the best birthing gift.
Bilbo was so lost in thought, the sound of his husband’s voice nearly scared the hair off his feet.
“Thorin,” Bilbo gasped and stared at Thorin where he sat in front of the fire. He hoped he didn’t look as shocked as he felt.
“Forgive me, ghivashel, I did not mean to startle you,” Thorin strode over to Bilbo and enveloped him in a warm hug.
“That’s quite alright, my dear,” Bilbo snuggled up to his husband, never ceasing to enjoy just how demonstrative he was. “I was just lost in my own thoughts. Not your fault I wasn’t paying proper attention.”
Thorin chuckled, sending delicious vibrations through Bilbo. “And what had you so preoccupied?”
“Just mentally composing letters to annoying relatives and thanking Yavanna they are currently on the the other side of the world right now.” Bilbo finally pulled away from Thorin to take a place by the fire. He was surprised to see that Thorin had made a pot of tea. It was usually harder to get him to make tea than to eat vegetables.
“Ha, if only I could say the same of my sister,” Thorin’s words brought his attention back to his husband.
“Don’t be silly, you’d be lost without Dís,” Bilbo continued before Thorin could try and refute his words. “I take it the meeting with Ambassador Tari went well.”
“What?” Thorin paused in retaking his seat, a momentary look of confusion crossed his features before his face cleared. “Ah, as well as could be expected.”
Bilbo stared at the way Thorin focused on cleaning up his tea things rather than meeting his eyes. “Thorin. What happened?”
“Nothing happened.” Thorin finally looked at him straight on. “Truly. I merely left Fíli to it while I attended to other things.”
“Really,” Bilbo drawled. “What other things?”
“Ah, well, that is to say.” Thorin paused, a look of deep concentration on his face. “I have wonderful news!”
“Oh,” Bilbo started, he’d gotten so distracted by his husband’s shiftiness, he’d nearly forgotten he needed to tell him about their children. He could feel the smile breaking across his face as he thought of them. “So do I!”
“Ah, perhaps you should go first then.” Thorin smiled in return. “We will have much to discuss after I impart my news.”
“We’re going to be parents!” Bilbo blurted out against his better judgment. “We’ve been blessed by Yavanna!”
“What?” Thorin reeled back, the shock on his face nearly comical. “How — but what? How do you know? Did Dwalin tell you? I wouldn’t have thought it of him, but Óin certainly wouldn’t have, so it must have been him.”
Bilbo was rocked by the look of near rage Thorin wore, confused and hurt by his husband's reaction. “What? No. Dwalin didn’t tell me anything, nor did Óin. How would they even know, how do you know? I’ve only just found the tree myself.”
“When I get my hands —” Thorin stopped muttering abruptly. “Tree? What tree? What are you talking about? What do trees have to do with our child?”
Thorin hated the harsh edge he could hear in his voice but couldn’t help himself. He had so looked forward to celebrating their good fortune and couldn’t figure out how they had gotten to this place where Bilbo looked hurt and his head throbbed with his anger.
Mahal damn it all! This was meant to be a joyous day!
“Children,” Bilbo’s voice broke him out of his dark thoughts. “And the Blessing Tree has everything to do with our children.”
Thorin sat back and took several deep breaths, forcing his fists to unclench. He rolled his shoulders and rubbed the back of his neck absently as he watched his husband. Bilbo watched him back, looking confused and unhappy. Thorin hated that he had put that look on his beloved’s face.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Thorin confessed.
Bilbo tilted his head, eyes contemplative. Thorin was always a little unnerved by that look but it was preferable to the previous one.
“No, I don’t believe you do.” Bilbo murmured softly. “But then how do you know about the children?”
“Because Óin just confirmed my pregnancy.” Thorin stated baldly. “And why do you keep saying children and not child?”
“Pregnancy!” Bilbo spluttered, eyes widening so far they looked in danger of falling out.
Thorin chuckled. “Yes, I am pregnant. How else were you expecting to become a parent?”
“Oh dear,” Bilbo said. “How is that — but you are most definitely male. I certainly would have noticed if you weren’t. How can you be pregnant?”
“Ah, I take it then that male hobbits cannot bear children?” Bilbo shook his head frantically. “I am not surprised, as I know it does not occur amongst Men either. It is a gift from Mahal that all among the dwarrow can carry children. We would have dwindle to nothing long ago if we had to rely solely on the few females of our race for children.”
“That is. That’s,” Bilbo shook himself, seeming to throw off his confusion. “That is amazing Thorin. I’ve never heard of such a thing. A child, our child. You’re having our child.”
“Yes, âzyungel, our child.” Thorin pulled his husband into his lap, gratified that he was as happy as Thorin himself. He didn’t know what he would have done had Bilbo reacted badly.
“But why have I never heard of this before?” Though Bilbo’s words were not accusing, Thorin still felt guilty.
“It is one of our greatest secrets. When it became apparent that Men, and likely Elves, could not have children this way, we feared how they might react. They scorned us already,” Thorin took a deep breath, consciously setting aside the old anger. This was not the time for that. “I did not keep it from you deliberately, I merely did not think about it. I have never heard of a dwarf having a child with another race, and, to be blunt, I am a little old for this.”
“It won’t be dangerous, will it?” Bilbo pulled back to search his face anxiously.
“No, shh,” Thorin soothed. “I will be fine. We will be fine. I merely thought myself past my fertile years.”
Bilbo settled back against him reluctantly. “You’re sure?”
“Yes, mudtê, I am sure. Óin has checked me over already and he would have told me if there was any danger.” Thorin savored the warmth of his husband in his arms before trying to divert him. “Now, how did you know we were to be parents if you didn’t know I was pregnant? And what was all that talk of trees?”
Thorin looked down, worried as his small husband began to shake in his arms. “Bilbo? Bilbo!”
“Oh, oh dear,” Bilbo’s words were stifled by laughter. “We are going to be so busy!”
Thorin stared in confusion at his giggling mate. While his little love’s laughter was always a joy to behold, he was once again befuddled as to what was going through Bilbo’s mind.
“Sorry, I’m sorry, but —” Bilbo sat up and appeared to gather his wits. “Just as Mahal gifted your race with a different way to have children, Yavanna has also blessed hobbits. I keep speaking of a tree, because this morning I discovered a Blessing Tree in the gardens, put there by Yavanna, that bears two fruit that will grow into our children.”
It was a few days before they could arrange dinner with everyone and Bilbo nearly vibrated with excitement at finally getting to share the good news. Óin and Dwalin already knew, of course, at least about Thorin’s pregnancy. Bilbo knew Thorin had also pulled Balin aside so the steward could start reworking Thorin and Bilbo’s schedules in light of their news. Bilbo would confess to being a little worried at taking a larger role in the ruling of the kingdom but he had faith his family would support them both.
Dís would probably take on most of the duties he had now, so he could better fill in once Thorin was on bed rest. He wasn’t worried about that as she had long filled that role before he had wed Thorin. She had, in fact, been the one to train him for his role as Consort.
“Bilbo,” Thorin called from their bedroom.
“Yes,” Bilbo rushed into the room. “Do you need something?”
“Yes,” Thorin was just finishing up with his braids. “I would very much like it if you would calm down.”
“I am calm,” Bilbo instantly denied.
“So calm you have paced a trough in the floor?” Thorin’s voice was amused. Bilbo pouted at him, but Thorin merely laughed. “Come now, ‘tis happy news we have to share. There is no need to worry.”
“I’m not worried. Truly,” he added at Thorin’s disbelieving look. Bilbo stepped into his husband’s arms and wrapped his own around Thorin’s waist. “I know they’ll be happy for us. I’m just not looking forward to explaining about Yavanna’s Blessing. I can already imagine some of the questions they’re going to ask, and I’m not sure whose are going to be more ridiculous, Fíli and Kíli's or Bofur’s.”
“Probably Nori,” Thorin nuzzled the sensitive spot behind his ear, making Bilbo shiver deliciously. “He really does enjoy asking the awkward questions.”
“True,” Bilbo said as he reluctantly pulled away. “Come, it would be bad form to be late to our own dinner.”
Thorin hummed in reply, but let him go.
The Royal Dining Hall was already full of loud boisterous dwarrows when they arrived. Greetings were called out as they took their places at the head of the table.
“Thank you, everyone, for making time to join us this evening,” Thorin called, grabbing everyone’s attention. “We asked you all to join us so that you might help us celebrate.”
Thorin paused to look down at Bilbo and share a wide smile with him.
“Bilbo and I are happy to announce that we have been doubly blessed by Mahal and Yavanna, and are expecting our first children!”
The cheers that instantly arose from their family were deafening. The entire room seemed to shake with the force of their yelling and stomping, fist and mugs alike being banged upon the table.
It took several minutes for the ruckus to calm down. Balin was the first to rise—moving surprisingly fast to beat Bofur to the punch—mug held high in a toast. “Long life and good healthy to our King and Consort and their new family. Congratulations, Thorin. Bilbo.”
There were many calls of “Here, here,” as they all raised their pints and drunk deeply.
“Aye, congratulations lads,” Bofur called next. “So which of ye is up the duff?”
Everyone laughed at that, even Thorin. Glóin called out a bet, quickly followed by most of the Company. Even Dís put down money. Only Fíli and Kíli refrained, looking more than a little traumatized at the frank discussion of their uncles’ sex lives. Bilbo bubbled over with amusement, unbearably glad he had gone running out his door after this crazy lot.
“I think it’s both,” Nori’s assertion caused an uproar. “They said they were doubly blessed with children.”
“Aye, yer right, they did,” Bofur nodded. “So, is he right?”
“Well, not exactly,” Bilbo hedged. “But he’s not precisely wrong either.”
“What’s that mean?” Óin demanded. Bilbo was relieved there were several people between him and the healer. He wasn’t sure, but he thought Óin's professional pride might be pricked at the idea that Bilbo hadn’t come to him if he was pregnant.
“Well, I’m not actually pregnant as male hobbits cannot fall pregnant but —” Everyone started speaking at once, and money changed hands, though several people seemed to be contesting their losses.
“BUT,” Bilbo nearly shouted to be heard over the ruckus. He waited as they quieted down, satisfied by the shocked looks many of them sported. “Now, as I was saying.
“I am not pregnant but we have been blessed by Yavanna.” He paused a moment to consider how to explain. Thorin slipped his arm around Bilbo’s shoulders and gave him a quick squeeze. Bilbo couldn’t help but smile up at his husband before continuing.
“Bifur, I’m sure you remember the tree you found a few days ago and how I got a bit — overwrought — when you tried to eat its flowers.” Bifur signed his assent and apology. “It’s quite alright, I should really be the one apologizing. You weren’t to know that it’s a Blessing Tree put there by Yavanna to shelter and nurture the fruit that will grow into the children she blessed us with.”
The silence that followed his announcement was unnerving, especially given how loud the dwarrows had been just moments before.
“Did he say he was having fruit babies?” Óin stared down at his ear horn as if it had betrayed him. Everyone began speaking at once as if the words had broken a spell.
Bilbo could not repress a deep sigh. Thorin squeezed him again but left the explaining to him. Bilbo supposed it was only fair as it was a hobbit peculiarity that needed explaining, and he was the only hobbit there.
He missed his mother so fiercely in that moment it stole his breath away.
“QUIET!” Thorin bellowed and turned concerned eyes on Bilbo. He smiled up at his dwarf, the old ache soothed away by the presence of his family.
When he looked away, the others were all watching him. “Well, this may be a bit difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best to make everything clear.
“First off, no Óin, I did not say I am having fruit babies.” Bilbo pushed down the urge to giggle. Now was not the time. “Though our children will grow inside the fruit of the Blessing Tree.”
“Did you come from a fruit?” Kíli seemed equally curious and confused. “Is that how all hobbits are born?”
“No — well, yes. That is how I was born, but most hobbits are born the same as Men or Elves,” Bilbo’s brow furrowed as he tried to think of the best way to explain. “Generally fauntlings come from hobbit ladies in the — uh — usual fashion. But sometimes, when a couple needs a little help, a Blessing Tree will appear in their garden.”
“You mean when couples are both male or both female, since you said male hobbits can’t fall pregnant?” Bombur asked.
“Mostly, though not every such couple is so blessed.” Bilbo said. “And sometimes a male and female couple who’ve had difficulties, like my parents, will also be blessed.
“There have even been those without such difficulties that have been blessed,” he continued. “My mother and both her sisters were blessings from Yavanna even though my grandparents already had eight children at that point.”
“EIGHT?” everyone seemed to shout at once.
“They had eleven children all told?” Ori asked, looking just as shocked as everyone else. “That’s even more than Glimmis and Bombur have.”
“Twelve, actually,” Bilbo corrected. “They had another son in the usual manner some years after they were blessed.”
More than one of the dwarrows paled or sat abruptly. Bilbo suppressed a another giggle, as it would’ve been unkind to laugh at them. Though, clearly not well enough as his husband pinched his side. It was several minutes before anyone spoke again.
“But how do children come from fruit?” Balin, ever practical, asked. “What do ye need us to do, laddie?”
“Well, I don’t really know how it works.” Bilbo shrugged and wished he had better answers. “Blessing Trees are given to us by Yavanna, and it is through her grace and magic that children are born to us.
“Parents will usually spend time in the tree, talking or singing or whatnot to the children, but we don’t actually need to do anything. After the tree appears, the fruit ripens like any other, and the children are born precisely thirty-three weeks later.”
“Thirty-three weeks,” Bofur said with a contemplative look on his face. “So they’ll be born on, what, October 22nd? And how many are there going to be anyhow?”
“Three, altogether. Two fruit babies,” Bilbo elbowed his husband, but Thorin ignored him and pointed at his own stomach. “and this little one. Who should be born right around the same time.”
“Three children all at once,” Dís snorted. “And I thought my two were bad enough with five years between them.”
“Hey,” Fíli and Kíli pouted at their mother.
“Ye’re sure we don’t need to do nothing?” Dwalin’s frown was known to terrify new recruits but it didn’t fool Bilbo. “Whatta ‘bout birds and the like?”
“They steer well clear of Blessing Trees.” Bilbo reassured. “Insects won’t even eat the leaves. Yavanna protects them from all harm. Even in the Fell Winter the children were born without any problems.”
“That’s amazing,” Bofur pounced on Bilbo, grabbing him up in a tight hug. Thorin, the traitor, dodged back as Fíli and Kíli descended on them. But Bilbo couldn’t help but laugh at his family’s enthusiasm.
Especially when Thorin dodged right into Dwalin.
Dís skirted around the mob that was Bilbo, Bofur, and her two sons. She would congratulate her brother-in-law personally later but for now she had something to say to her brother.
“Thorin,” she dragged him free of Dwalin’s headlock. He backed off with a smirk, taking Balin and their cousins with him.
“Yes, sister?” Thorin grumbled as he straightened his hair and clothes.
“May Mahal smile upon you and your children,” Dís said and pulled him close so she could press their foreheads together.
“And the same to you, Dís.” Thorin’s eyes crinkled when he smiled.
“It will be good to hear the patter of little feet again.” Dís smiled herself at drawing a genuine laugh out of Thorin.
“I can only hope so. If they take after Bilbo, we may not hear their steps at all.” Thorin pulled back so he could glance at his husband with a besotted look on his face. “I don’t think I can handle more than one sneaky hobbit.”
“Don’t worry, brother, you will learn. Eventually.” She couldn’t help but smirk at Thorin’s scowl. “And you will have plenty of help.”
“This is true,” Thorin said as they both turned to look over their family. Dís had never expected this when her brother dragged her sons and cousins off on a damn fool quest. But she would not change anything. They were returned to their proper home, no longer having to struggle for mere survival and their family had expanded, swelled by the fellowship born of the Company.
And now there would be babies for her to spoil. She would be able to give them everything she had never been able to give her own boys. Truly, Mahal had smiled upon them the day her idiot brother had finally found his way to Bilbo’s smial.
Tomorrow would be soon enough to start planning. She had just seven and a half months to get everything ready for the arrival of her nieces or nephews.
The sun had barely peeked over the horizon and already Thorin and Bilbo were ready to face the day. As tired as Thorin was, he could not afford to linger in bed that day. There was too much to do if they were going to be prepared for the day, all too soon, that he would have no choice but to pass most of his duties to others. He could already feel the drain as his body accommodated the life inside him.
He was overjoyed at becoming a parent, of having children with his hobbit, but he was not looking forward to the next seven months.
He stifled a yawn as he followed his husband to his garden. He was humbled at the support of his family and knew they insisted on celebrating into the night because they were happy for them. But right then he would trade any one of them for a mere hour’s more sleep.
So inattentive was he, he nearly plowed right over his little husband when Bilbo stopped walking abruptly. It took a moment of blinking before he realized what had arrested Bilbo’s attention. Standing directly in front of the Blessing tree was Dwalin, kitted out like he was on guard duty in the Throne Room.
“Dwalin?” Bilbo asked incredulously. “What are you doing?”
“Guarding the wee princes or princesses.” Dwalin’s answer was matter of fact, though the quirk of his lips said exactly he what he thought of that question.
“Wha-what? Why?” Bilbo spluttered at the same time Thorin asked, “Alone?”
“Of course, not,” Dwalin scoffed. Thorin ignored the betrayed look Bilbo threw him. “Bifur’s doing a perimeter check.”
“Excellent,” Thorin nodded at Dwalin, who returned the gesture.
“Excellent. Excellent!” Thorin herded Bilbo past Dwalin and under the bower, ignoring his indignation. “This is not excellent, it is absurd! We do not need guards in the garden!”
“As long as yer children are here ye do!” Dwalin called. Thorin grabbed Bilbo’s shoulder before he could turn around and urged him closer to the tree.
“You knew about this, didn’t you?” Bilbo hissed before scurrying up the tree trunk. Thorin followed more carefully on the ladder he had propped there. He wished his husband would use it, it made him nervous enough to have him up a tree at all.
“I did not,” he answered when he stood at the top of the ladder uneasily. Perhaps they could build some sort of platform around the trunk, one supported by nice, thick columns. “But I cannot say I’m surprised. Nor should you. You know our family as well as I.”
Bilbo grumbled under his breath but didn’t respond directly. Thorin ignored it and focused instead upon the tiny fruit that would some day bear his children. It was still unbelievable and yet he could not deny the warmth and life that pulsed beneath his fingers as he gently brushed over the thin rind.
Bilbo’s skin pressed against his own as he gently touched the fruit. His husband looked nothing but joyful as he smiled at Thorin. Thorin smiled back, holding his hobbit’s hand as they gazed at the precious miracles before them.
Dís ignored her brother hovering in the doorway of her workshop. She had little time these days for crafting, in no small part thanks to said brother, so he could just wait. Not that she was displeased with the reason behind the drain on her time. Her latest project was, in fact, a gift for her brother’s future children.
Once she reached a natural stopping point, Dís set the project aside and began cleaning up. Thorin took that as his cue to approach. He wisely didn’t attempt to help her, knowing well that each dwarf preferred a specific set up. When her worktable was reasonably clear, he set a cloth wrapped bundle upon it.
Dís finished putting the last of her tools away before giving the bundle any attention. She unwrapped it slowly just to irritate Thorin. He huffed at her but wisely kept his mouth shut. Clearly, five years married to hobbit with a sharp tongue had taught him the value of silence.
“It’s a crown,” she said once the bundle was unwrapped. “Why are you showing it to me?”
“Because it’s wrong.” Thorin plopped down on a stool, the picture of dejection.
“Looks fine to me,” Dís remarked. Though she’d never admit it to Thorin, it was one of the most beautiful pieces she’d ever seen, and put many of their ancestors’ crowns to shame. In fact, it was the finest work of jewelry Thorin had ever created. Apparently, pregnancy was improving his taste.
“It’s too dwarvish,” Thorin mumbled.
Dís hmmed her understanding. “You know he’ll love it anyway.”
“It’s far too heavy, he’d never be able to wear it, unless I made it from mithril.” Thorin looked contemplative for a moment, before he shook his head. “No, he be livid with me if I crafted something so costly and precious for him.”
“True,” Dís sighed. She still found Bilbo’s attitude towards jewelry strange. “I suppose there is no other option. I will help you create a crown fit for your hobbit Consort.”
“Thank you, namadith,” Thorin hugged her close.
“But I demand first babysitting rights,” Dís said. “And it has to be before they are a year old.”
Thorin slumped against her like she was asking for the impossible but he didn’t deny her.
Balin stood in his customary spot just behind Thorin’s left shoulder. His cousin had decided to announce the good news to the kingdom in the Great Hall, rather than the Throne Room, so all his people could bear witness. It was a savvy move that would endear the royal couple even more to a people that already loved them, and one the Nobles could not protest, though they would likely still grumble. He very much suspected it was Bilbo’s idea.
Balin listened to Thorin’s words with only half an ear, giving the impression of paying attention to his king, while in truth watching the Nobles for their reactions.
A deafening roar from the gathered crowd signaled that Thorin had gotten to the point. Balin was relieved to see that most of the Nobles openly cheered as well. Even those who were silent did not seem angry or disgusted. Many of them seemed confused and no few were amusingly resigned. If he was not mistaken, they were all veterans of Fíli and Kíli's childhood.
He had not expected there to be a great outcry, his people cherished children too dearly for that. But it would only take one dwarf who objected to children of mixed blood to cause problems. But it appeared his worry was for naught.
Still, he would make sure Nori kept his ear to the stone. He could not see every dwarrows’ reaction and the Nobles were practiced at hiding their thoughts. Well, some of them. Subtlety was a hard earned trait for dwarrows.
There was no such thing as too careful when it came to the newest members of his family. But for now, he would enjoy the celebrations along with the rest of the kingdom.
The weeks following their discovery of impending parenthood were extremely hectic. More than once he wanted to rip out his hair as he was repeatedly asked inappropriate questions about Yavanna’s Blessings and hobbit childbearing. He strongly suspected that at least a few of the Nobles secretly thought he was daft and were trying, in their own way, to make him see reason so he would not be devastated when the fruit did not bear children.
It might be vindictive of him but he couldn’t wait to shove his beautiful fauntlings—how could they not be beautiful with Thorin for a father?—in their faces. He would never be so crass as to say ‘I told you so,’ but he had no doubt they would get the message loud and clear anyhow.
He entered his garden, unsurprised to see Halbur, Bombur’s oldest, standing guard in front of the Blessing Tree. All of the Company and their families had insisted on taking shifts on guard duty. Even Bellur, Bombur’s youngest who had only recently started toddling, could be found sharing watch with her beloved Uncle Bofur.
Bilbo took a moment to speak to the young dwarf, and slip him a few biscuits, before he climbed the tree. The two little fruits had nearly doubled in size since he’d first laid eyes on them. The rind had paled in color as well, more closely resembling the green of young spring leaves.
“Hello, my loves.” Bilbo gently stroked both in turn and spoke softly of his day, the family eagerly awaiting their birth and anything else he could think of. It didn’t truly matter what he spoke of, it was merely a way to express his love for his children.
Eventually the demands of his stomach drove him back out of the tree. It was as he climbed down that something caught his eye. Feet firmly on the ground again, he walked around the trunk to find what he had seen.
Leaning against the trunk on the far side from Thorin’s ladder was an upright slab of some dark stone, veined with gold. It had been polished to a shine and engraved with cirth. Bilbo recognized the symbols for Mahal and Yavanna but was mystified by the rest. At the base of the slab was a collection of, well. Bilbo wasn’t certain what exactly it was a collection of.
There were small polished stones and gems in a variety of colors. A bowl of salt sat next to a loaf of bread, stones with more cirth carved on them, and several dwarven figures carved of wood. It was only as he knelt there, holding a carved figure that looked suspiciously like a hobbit wearing dwarvish armor that he realized what he was looking at.
“Oh,” he whispered to himself. “It’s a shrine!” Glancing over the collection again, he thought he picked out runes for health and luck. Bilbo could feel the ridiculous smile spread across his face as his heart warmed with love for his strange little family.
He carefully placed the little hobbit warrior back down and strolled over to the nearest flower bed. Most of the beds were still bare, but several bunches of daffodils had recently sprung up. He cut one for each of his children and one for his husband as well and arranged them in front of the shrine. He smiled in satisfaction at his handy work, then went in search of tea.
“Should be a mattock, hammer and an ax, o’ course,” Bofur said as he nibbled on a scone. He’d never had one made with Dorwinion peppers before, but it was pretty good, once you got used to it.
“Don’t be silly, all they need is a good ax,” Glóin insisted, punctuating his point by jabbing his own pepper scone in Bofur’s direction.
“But they’re all good, traditional dwarf tools,” Bofur argued. “How can they ken which is the best for them if they don’t try them all?”
“Bah, giving them one o’ each’ll only lead to them fighting when they all want ta have the ax,” Glóin proclaimed.
“Not if you give them all a full set of their own,” Thorin pointed out as he sat down. Bofur had been so focused on arguing with Glóin, he hadn’t even noticed Thorin enter the room.
The king looked exhausted, with shadows under his eyes worse than after Mirkwood. “It’s not like we can’t afford to make them however many they want.”
“True, true,” Bofur agreed as he watched Thorin slather some deep red jam on a scone. Bofur hadn’t thought to try anything on the scones, the taste being so odd, but judging by his majesty’s moaning, it was quite tasty.
“Bilbo,” Thorin called. “You have to come try this.” Bilbo wandered over from where he had been sitting by the fire knitting a baby blanket. The seventh one that Bofur himself had seen him making.
Bilbo opened his mouth and Thorin popped the rest of the jammy scone in it. “Oh, oh. That is lovely.” Thorin slather another scone in jam and split it between them.
Bofur scooped a dollop on his own scone, Glóin following suit. He froze as soon as he took a bite. He absently noted the horrified look on Glóin's face and reflected it likely matched his own. It was undoubtedly the most vile thing he had ever tasted and the only reason he didn’t spit it straight out was fear of being banned from Bilbo’s cooking for wasting food.
Although, that might not be such a trial until the babies were born. He chewed and swallowed the bite as fast as possible without choking, then slammed back his entire cuppa. He immediately poured another and didn’t bother doctoring it before he started drinking.
“Why have you been fighting about axes and hammers and what not?” Bilbo asked once his mouth was no longer full.
“Oh, we was just discussing which to give the wee babies first, a hammer, ax or mattock.” Bofur remarked offhand as he wondered if ale would clean the taste out of his mouth better. “But we settled it all so don’t ye worry, we’ll just give them each all three.”
“What.” Everyone at the table froze as they registered the flat tone. Bofur was afraid to look, not wanting to see the fury that was sure to be shining in their hobbit’s eyes. “Are you talking about.”
“Um,” Glóin hemmed and hawed.
“I know you are not talking about giving weapons to my fauntlings,” Bilbo growled. Bofur made the mistake of looking at the hobbit. He was brandishing his knitting needles like a blade, punctuating each word with a jab. The sunny yellow blanket hanging off them didn’t make the implicit threat any less terrifying.
“No, no, o’ course not,” Bofur hastened to reassure him. “We was talking about toys. Toy axes and such. Like I sell in me shop to the wee dwarflings.”
Glóin and Thorin’s heads were nodding so fast they looked like to pop off. By the way Bilbo narrowed his eyes, he wasn’t buying what they were selling.
“There will be no weapons, absolutely none!” There went the needles, jabbing menacingly. “Do you understand me?”
They all gave various affirmatives. Bilbo nodded decisively. “Dwarrows!” He stomped back over to the armchair by the fireplace, muttering the whole while.
Bofur sipped his tea and eyed the exits.
Bilbo snuggled into his husband’s side, tired but content. He played with the hair on Thorin’s chest absentmindedly, thinking about Ori’s innocent question.
“What are you pondering so intently, Burglar?” Thorin’s voice rumbled through Bilbo where they were pressed together.
“Hmm, Ori asked if we had picked out names yet.” Bilbo answered. “I told him we haven’t. I suppose we should start think of that though.”
“And have you?” Thorin rearranged them so they were facing each other.
“A bit. It seems like we’re so busy these days I barely have time to think on anything at all!” Thorin chuckled and Bilbo couldn’t help but smile. “Have you? Thought about it.”
“A bit,” Thorin replied. “It’s strange, having to choose so many names at once.”
“Well, at least we know how many we’re having. It’s not uncommon in the Shire for a couple to have triplets when they thought they were only having twins.”
“I cannot imagine birthing more than one child at a time. To go through that much pain several times in a row.” Thorin shuddered and frowned deeply.
“Perhaps there is a point where the pain simply cannot get worse,” Bilbo offered, though he was unsure how comforting that might be. “Anyway, names. In the Shire, girls are often named after flowers. Though I have an aunt named Linda.”
“Would you like to give one of our children a flower name?” Thorin asked.
“The only flower I could see using is Belladonna and my mother would have insisted it was silly to name a child after her,” Bilbo confided. “I think my father would have liked that though.”
“I am sure we can find a way to honor your parents,” Thorin murmured, stroking a hand through Bilbo’s curls. “They must have been remarkable people to have raised you.”
Bilbo pressed a kiss to the tip of his dwarf’s nose. “What about you? Do you have any ideas?”
“I think. I wish to name the child I bear after my brother, Frerin,” Thorin whispered, as if imparting a guilty secret. “Almost from the moment I knew I was with child, I have felt the ache of his absence as I have not since we first lost him. To know that our children will never know their uncle —”
“I think that’s a lovely idea,” Bilbo pulled his husband into his arms. Thorin buried his face in Bilbo’s throat. Bilbo combed his fingers through his dwarf’s hair, trying to soothe him best as he could.
Bilbo glared at the gold and jewel encrusted baby rattle in his hand. He knew dwarrows were stronger than hobbits but he had serious doubts that the children would even be able to lift the toy before they were walking and talking.
And what if they managed to pry loose on of the gemstones? Fauntlings were notorious for sticking things in their mouths that didn’t belong. Surely gems weren’t good for digestion. And maybe he was a bit silly for worrying on it, after all, it was dwarven made, so the changes of one of the fauntlings pulling off a gem was pretty small. But Bilbo was going to be a parent, he was supposed to worry about stuff!
And he might not be so annoyed if it were only the rattle but nearly everything in the nursery had jewels on it. The cribs, the dressers, even the floor had colored, sparkly stones inlaid in patterns.
Bilbo honestly wasn’t sure how the fauntlings would ever get any sleep when every flutter of flame in the fireplace sent a riot of colored lights and sparkles skittering across the room. It was as distracting as it was lovely.
Someone had even added gems to the corners of the swaddling blankets he had put in the cribs for Eru’s sake!
Bilbo huffed and grumbled to himself as he glared around the room. It was time to add some hobbity touches and woe to any dwarf that tried to add any gems to them!
Bilbo fingered the gems on one of the blankets before sighing and letting the annoyance go. He knew his family was only trying to show their love and care for the fauntlings but it just served to remind him that his hobbit relatives were all on the other side of the world.
He didn’t feel homesick, precisely, but oh how he wished his parents were there to help him.
Bilbo put the blanket back with a sigh. His eye caught on the mobile hanging over the crib as he started to turn away, wringing a smile from him. Thorin had made one for each crib and proudly hung them that morning.
They were made of gemstones and metal in a myriad of colors and shaped into the most exquisitely beautiful flowers. They made his hobbity heart swell with love for his silly dwarf. Only the presence of their nephews had stopped him from tackling Thorin and ripping off all his clothes right then and there.
Bilbo left the nursery determined to find his husband and spend some quality time with him. Then he would see what he could do to make the nursery more hobbity.
Thorin watched Bilbo putter around the nursery as several members of the Company hung the tapestries Bilbo had commissioned. Dori and Nori had done a beautiful job weaving them, of course, but Thorin was mystified as to why his husband had insisted they show baby animals frolicking amongst flowers. He considered asking about them, but was afraid it would turn out like the conversation about the booties.
The last caravan to arrive from the West had borne dozens of packages for his hobbit. Nearly every relative of Bilbo’s had seen fit to send birthing gifts—as well as letters full of advice. Thorin had been incensed to find his husband crying over a particularly long letter, and had started planning how many dwarrows he would need to send to the Shire to find and destroy the writer; he would have preferred to go himself but he could barely manage to stay awake through an entire meal these days.
Bilbo had insisted that that was unnecessary and that they were happy tears. Thorin had acquiesced, but he still hated to see his hobbit cry.
He had helped Bilbo to go through every package, becoming more and more confused. There were blankets and clothes, and no jewels or precious metals of any kind. All to be expected of hobbits. But there were also seeds, and what Bilbo called cuttings, and many soft toys made to look like animals.
And booties. Every single package contained at least three pairs, and often more, of booties. Added to the ones Bilbo himself had already made, there were enough of the things for each child to wear a different pair without repeat for near three months. Thorin had finally been forced to ask what the use of the things were.
“To keep their feet warm, of course.” Bilbo hadn’t looked up from where he was putting baby clothes away.
“But I have never seen you wear socks of any kind. Why would the babies need to?” Thorin asked.
“Well, I have hair to keep my feet warm,” Bilbo said. “It’ll take a while for the fauntlings’ fuzz to grow in.”
“Grow in?” Thorin was uncertain if he was misunderstanding, or simply too tired for the conversation. “Won’t they have hair on their feet when they’re born?”
“Perhaps some, but not enough to be of use.” Bilbo tossed over his shoulder. “Not if they take after me and my Took mother. It’s a family trait. I was near bald, head and feet, when I was born.”
Thorin was so horrified by the prospect he couldn’t even speak. Even Kíli, whose beard was only now starting to come in, had been born with a full head of hair. He’d even had a tiny patch on his chest! Thorin couldn't even imagine the shame of being born bald.
Not that he would love them any less. But he could already hear the taunts they would endure. He prayed to Mahal that they all took after him in at least this one thing. And first thing in the morning, he was going to put as many offerings at the shrine as he could carry.
Bilbo paced the small antechamber, wringing his hands. He had been doing so for two hours now, and had spent the three hours before that huddled up next to Dís trying not to be sick. He still couldn’t believe they’d waited so long to tell him Thorin was in labor. The meeting with the delegation from Ered Luin wasn’t that important.
Thorin had been in labor for nine hours already, how much longer could it take?
“Sit down Bilbo,” Dís grabbed him on his next pass and pulled him back into his seat. “You’re making me dizzy just looking at you.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing wrong?” Bilbo blurted out. “It’s just taking so long.”
“Long?” Dís snorted derisively. With a nod towards Fíli she said, “This one was impatient enough to come nearly a month early, and then refused to actually be born for a good thirty hours.”
“Thirty —” Bilbo put his head between his knees and tried to take deep breaths.
“Aye, Kíli was much easier, for the first and only time in his life.”
“Hey,” Kíli cried from the far side of his mother.
“But even then it took over twelve hours. I’m actually surprised they called you down here so soon,” Dís gripped his shoulder but didn’t try to force him upright. “They must be expecting a speedy birth. I don’t think it will be much longer now.”
“Speedy —” Bilbo started to respond but had to pause as Thorin could be heard yelling again. Bilbo was unsure what exactly he was saying, but judging by Dís’ gleeful expression and the mortified looks on the boys’ faces, he was sure Thorin must be cursing a blue streak.
He didn’t bother asking for the translation, he’d rather not hear his heritage besmirched again. He wouldn’t be surprised if his husband never let him touch him again after this. He wouldn’t blame Thorin in the slightest.
“How long does hobbit birthing take?” Dís asked before he could regain his line of thought.
“Well, I’ve never actually been to a hobbit birth,” Bilbo confessed. “But the longest I’ve ever heard anyone talk about was when Aunt Camellia had Otho. She says it took five and three quarters hours, but my mother claimed she was exaggerating and it really barely took three.”
“Three!” Several voices exclaimed at once. Bombur continued before anyone else. “And here I thought your women must be as tough as my Glimmis, to have so many children.”
“Ah, no. There is no one as tough as Glimmis.” Bilbo huffed in amusement. “And I doubt any family in the Shire would have more than one child if birthing was as difficult as it is for dwarrows.”
“Except those blessed by Yavanna,” Kíli pointed out.
“Yes, of course,” Bilbo murmured. It was only three days until the fruit would be ripened. Would Thorin even be able to attend the birthing? How long would it take to recover from such a trying and painful experience?
Another hoarse cry drew him from his thoughts. Thorin screamed wordlessly for an endless moment, before he was joined by another, higher voice, wavering and thing. Bilbo had to bite his fist to keep from crying out himself.
“Congratulations!” was shouted at him from every side. Dís swept him into her arms and did her best to crush him into her bosom. He managed to extricate himself, only to be assaulted by Glimmis next. Then Glóin and his wife, Brumili.
Every member of the Company and their family felt the need to congratulate him themselves with a hug. Bilbo gave up trying to get away after the fifth time the breath was crushed from him and resigned himself to his fate.
Just as Fíli and Kíli finally turned him loose, the door to the birthing chamber opened. Óin's braids were drooping and mussed, and the lines on his face seemed deeper than usual. But despite his tired eyes, he was smiling.
“Come along, Mister Baggins,” he said, waving behind him as he stepped aside. “Thorin’s waiting for ye.”
Bilbo was through the door before the healer had finished speaking. He paused just beyond the threshold, eyes inextricably drawn to his husband. Thorin was propped up in a large bed in the center of the room. His braids were unraveled and sweat mussed, and the shadows beneath his eyes looked all the deeper for how pale he appeared.
In his arms was a small blanket wrapped bundle.
Bilbo didn’t remember crossing the room, only that he was suddenly on the bed beside his husband. He pushed a hank of hair off Thorin’s forehead before pressing his own against it. He closed his eyes and breathed in his dwarf’s familiar, beloved presence. They stayed like that for several minutes, until Thorin drew back slightly.
“Hey,” Bilbo said, blinking his eyes open. He drunk in the sight of his husband, still whole and well, if weary.
“Hello, love,” Thorin rasped. “There’s someone here who wants to meet you.” Bilbo pulled back finally, and turned to look at the babe in Thorin’s arms. “Say hello to your father, nathith.”
Their daughter—daughter!—was beautiful. She had a thick mop of golden curls, and her bearer’s blue eyes. Bilbo hoped the color remained true as he gently ran one finger down the sharp little nose she had also inherited from Thorin. He pushed a bit of hair aside to reveal a rounded ear, and a respectable start to a sideburn. He traced the line of soft hair, then over her tiny little lips.
“Would you like to hold her?” Thorin asked.
“Yes,” Bilbo sat back and accepted the precious bundle. Once he had her in the crook of his arm, Thorin shifted to lean on Bilbo’s other shoulder. He brushed through her hair with such tenderness, Bilbo’s breath caught in his chest.
“Hello, Frerís,” Bilbo whispered to the sleeping child. “Yavanna’s blessing upon you.”
Thorin reclined on a low padded bench with his hobbit snuggled back against his chest. They were set under the branches of the Blessing Tree, waiting for their children to be born. It was thirty-three weeks to the day since Bilbo had discovered they were expecting twins and the fruit that bore their children were finally ripe.
Thorin stared at the fruits over his husband’s curls; they were a rich, golden color and had grown nearly as large as watermelons. Thorin still found the idea that his children grew within them strange but he was too happy to care the manner in which his children came to him. Already he had a beautiful daughter and here again he was about to be blessed with two more children. No dwarrow in their long history could claim the same.
Thorin had long thought he and his people abandoned by Mahal; Bilbo had changed all of that. He would never again doubt his Maker. He had his home reclaimed, his hobbit by his side and three children.
He wished for a moment that Frerís was there with them. They had left her with Dís only an hour hence, and already he missed her. But Bilbo had insisted they must be at the tree at dawn, though the children could be born any time that day. It was much too chill in the gardens for a babe of three days. Perhaps if the birthing took long enough, Dís could bring her out for a while.
“Look,” Bilbo exclaimed, snapping Thorin’s attention back to the present. “We’ve got a pair of early risers it seems.”
“Oh,” Thorin breathed. The fruit was jolting slightly, swaying side to side, before stilling, only to start again a moment later. “Are you sure we should let them fall? Would it not be better to pick them?”
“They’ll be fine,” Bilbo reassured. “The rinds are thick, they’re well protected. And it’s bad luck to pick them before they’re ready to come out on their own.”
Thorin had never put much stock in superstition, that was Óin's province. Then again, his children were about to be born of magical fruit.
He couldn’t help but gasp as the swaying became more violent, the limb holding the fruit creaking loudly. Minutes or hours later, he could not say, there was a sharp crack and one of the fruit plummeted to the ground. It landed with a wet thud, teetering on end for a moment before falling back against the trunk, revealing where the rind had split up both sides.
It was only when Bilbo’s hands pushed him back down that he realized he had tried to rise.
“But —” he started.
“Shh, it’s alright,” the calm surety in Bilbo’s voice was the only thing that could have stopped him right then. “That’s meant to happen. We’d have to cut them open, otherwise.
Thorin shuddered, immediately picturing how that could go wrong.
“And there we are,” Bilbo said just as there was another sharp crack. The second fruit fell just as the first had, right beside their sibling.
Bilbo was off the bench the moment the fruit settled back. Thorin followed swiftly, bringing the swaddling blankets Bilbo had prepared. His husband knelt amongst the tree’s roots and gently pried the broken rind away from the first fruit. The front came away all in one piece, and nestled inside the back half was a tiny baby.
He was perfect. Riotous black curls hung over blinking blue eyes. A tiny upturned nose wrinkled before a mouth opened to let out a plaintive wail. Bilbo scooped him up quickly, placing him in the blanket Thorin held, wrapping him against the chill air.
“Welcome, Belbo. May Mahal bless you all your days,” Thorin murmured as he traced one impossibly small, pointed ear. Thorin thought he would never be able to take his eyes off his son—his son!—but out of the corner of his eye he caught Bilbo moving to the other fruit.
It opened as easily as the first, revealing a second son. Bilbo wrapped him quickly and placed him in Thorin’s other arm. Thorin drank him in with his eyes, astonished at how he was nearly identical to his brother. Save for the nose, blade sharp like his own, they were alike as reflections.
“Welcome, Paladin. May Mahal bless you all your days,” Thorin’s voice was barely a breath of sound, chest tight with an overwhelming joy he’d only felt once before, just three days past.
Bilbo brushed a kiss on each little forehead, “Yavanna’s blessing upon you.” Bilbo pushed to his feet before helping Thorin stand as well. “Come, let’s head home. These boys have a bath to take and a sister to meet.”
Thorin did not remember the walk to their quarters, he had eyes only for his sons. They settled quickly, cries overcome with yawns. Before he knew it, they were in their rooms again to find not only Dís and Frerís waiting. The whole of their family was settled in the sitting room.
It took but a moment for them to be surrounded by their family. Congratulations and well wishes were spoken by every person. Dís shoved her way through the pack and passed their daughter to Bilbo as she got a good look at her nephews.
“Say hello to your brothers, Belbo and Paladin,” Bilbo leaned against his side, holding their daughter up though she obviously slumbered.
Thorin had never felt as happy as he did in that moment, surrounded by his family, holding his children, with his husband pressed close to his side. Surely, there had never been a dwarf more blessed than he.