"You've packed entirely too much."
Bilbo's head whipped around to find the speaker, although the dwarf's voice was distinctive enough to pick out even after hearing it only a handful of times.
"E-excuse me?" It came out at half of its normal depth, resulting in a rather undignified yelp. When he saw the leader of the group, legs solidly placed wide apart and arms crossed, he stood up to face him and clear his throat. "Er, that is, what were you saying, Thorin?"
Glancingly pointedly down and off to the side, Thorin nodded at the bulging pack that lay at Bilbo's feet. "Your bag, it has too much in it, Master Baggins. It will slow you down, which will in turn slow the rest of us down."
"What do you mean, I have too much?" Bilbo hissed, shifting to protectively stand in front of his materials. A flush of red darkened his cheeks, but he tried to ignore it. "It has exactly all that I need within it for an extended trip."
"It is quite literally bulging with all that you have brought along. I hope that this excessive gorging is not typical of all that you do, or you will eat all of the supplies within a week." A slight nudge of his boot sent the bag tipping over, sending the items within it sideways so that they strained against the latches holding them all inside. He evaded the scramble that the smaller creature made to right his bag and the venomous glare directed in his direction.
"I-I'm the one who gorges? You and your company," a pause in his tirade to flap a hand toward the dwarf while he dragged the bag to the safety of a tree's roots, "were the ones who came out of the blue, raided my pantry, and left me with almost no food left. I could have very well starved!"
"Oh yes, Im quite sure that you would have, evidenced by the vast assortment of food stuffs that you carry around with you. Yes, you certainly didn't have any left."
"The sarcasm is not appreciated, I'll have you know." Anger and frustration were now evident in everything from his demeanor to his words. Although an enraged Baggins was not much to fear, he was also most certainly a Took. And Tooks were not well known for being a mild sort of folk. "And that isn't the point! The point is that you and your men forced your way inside my home and filled your bellies with food that was never yours! I didn't even know you were all coming!"
"And if you had known that we were coming, would you have welcomed us?" Thorin's words were calm, his posture relaxed and not threatened at the least. He was being infuriatingly rational about all of it.
"Well, no, I wouldn't have..." Bilbo started, seeing the beginnings of another sentence forming on Thorin's tongue. "But! But, that does not justify barging into someone's home without permission!"
"We did have permission, from Gandalf." Thorin pointed out, leaning against a tree. Although it was an argument, it had to have been the most that Bilbo had talked to the Dwarf Kong.
"Permission that was not his to give!" The Hobbit's cheeks were bright red, although not with embarrassment. Anger and gall rosied them, uneven splotches appearing on his tawny skin. He was practically livid, eyes wide with a special kind of disbelief.
"Gandalf had to set things in motion, and although I still do not agree with his choice of burglar," an obvious once-over with an up and down motion of Thorin's head, "I trust him. I am sorry for any trouble we may have caused, but let us put that behind us." Standing up fully from his position of resting against the tree, he gave some sort of half bow, half salute. He started to walk away before he stopped, looking again at the bag that had started their disagreement in the first place. "And do something about all of that, we do not want to attract unnecessary predators."
"But you all have your weapons and your shields. Surely you could just-"
The king's sharp glance cut off the other, scathing and less than friendly. "We are not bloodthirsty by nature, hobbit. We do not seek to leave a path of destruction through this forest in our awake. It is better to avoid killing what we can. The amount of food that you posses is unneeded for all earlier stated reasons. I suggest you get rid of it quickly, if through eating it or sharing it amongst the others. It does not matter to me." And that was obviously the last sentence that he was going to put towards the subject, for he continued on his way, cape and great mane of hair caught half-heartedly by the wind.
Signing heavily, Bilbo crouched down next to his pack, fingering the latch that haphazardly kept it all together. Perhaps he should get rid of it all, it wouldn't hurt to skip a few second breakfasts...
A heavy arm was slung across his back, and a presence at his side that radiated heat appeared.
"You know, if you need help eating all of that..." Fili started.
"Then we'd be glad to help you out!" His brother finished, the owner of the arm. Fili was the one pressed against his side then.
Guiltily he looked down at the food, thinking about how selfish he must have seemed to Thorin. The dwarves had been driven out of their very home-it had probably been quite a while since any of them had experienced a good meal. "You can have it all," he murmured, half hoping that the two hadn't heard him. A Hobbit was loathe to ever part with his food.
"What, really Bilbo?" Kili almost vibrated with excitement, his goofy wide grin crossing his face. "We can have all of it?"
Bilbo winced at the idea of giving it all-all of it to them, but he nodded his consent. It was the right thing to do, and he should probably offer it to the rest of the warriors as well...
"You aren't half bad, master thief!" Fili yelled awfully close to his ear before ripping the monstrosity of a traveling bag open. The brothers fell open the food within with a childish fervor that made Bilbo almost not regret it.
"You even have gravy and biscuits!" As Kili finished off the previous find he discovered more and more, making a large dent in the supply of food.
"Potatoes too, Kili!"
"And butter knots as well!" Bilbo tried not to wince at that particular statement. Butter knots were his favorite.
"You know..." Kili started thoughtfully as he licked off the last crumbs from a loaf of nut bread, "I think that uncle is rather fond of you."
A disbelieving scoff was Bilbo's answer as he tried to ignore the complete and utter destruction of the food that he had left. "I'm sure that he wants to be the most bosom of friends with me. Next he'll ask me to skip through a field of flowers with him-as I run and he chases me with his blade."
Kili laughed. "You are entirely too hard on him, Master Thief. Thorin does not bother with those he does not care for. He was only trying to help with his advice about your bag."
"W-wait, so you mean to tell me you two were watching the whole time as he verbally decimated me?" It made sense, though. How else would the two have had such wonderful timing to inherit the food?
"The whole time." The younger of the brothers winked, wiping his hands off on his trousers. He reached into the bag to grab another set of crackers before Bilbo smacked his hand away.
"You two-you two were just waiting for it!" Hurriedly he started to cram the remaining items back inside.
"We knew he was going to tell you to get rid of it." Fili said, looking at the disappearing food mournfully. He didn't try to fight it, although Kili tried to tug back the steadily disappearing trail of goods.
"Yeah, we saw him glancing worriedly back at it for the past week! We were actually surprised that he hadn't said anything about it sooner!" Kili joined in, at this point eager to say anything to stem the disappearance of his feast.
"Now you two are just pulling one on me." Bilbo gave a nervous laugh. "I think his feelings tip more towards wanting to skin me than care." Kili's statement had done its job, though, and his hands had stilled in their packing. "That's a nice thought, but..."
"Not to be rude, but are all Hobbits this dense?" The blond dwarf cut in, leaning his face upon his upturned palms in a sign of feigned fascination. "Please, do tell me, are they all this oblivious to obvious attraction being shown towards them?"
"I-I beg your pardon-"
"My pardon will not be given, if you don't mind."
His brother laughed at this, although quickly stopped when he realized that the action brought attention to himself, and he hurriedly shoved the food that he had been rather obviously lifting behind his back.
"Now, if you two will be quiet for a minute, I will explain." Leaning back from his position, he lowered himself from his knees to sit closer to the hobbit. "I've seen my uncle watch you, with no obvious intent. Not to maim or kill, or to send home or away."
"Now, perhaps that's just because I tend to be in the back sometimes and he needs to check to see if we are being followed-"
"I told you to stop talking, didn't I?" Fili interrupted, granting Bilbo with a look that might have made him terrified. And maybe it did.
"Now, as I was saying, I think he fancies you. His face softens when his eyes fall upon your form, and there is little explanation besides adoration."
A nod from his dark haired sibling seemed to confirm his statement, because after the nod he started to continue. "And-"
"Wait, wait wait wait!" Bilbo held up his hand, waving it front of the other's faces. He took a deep breath and then let it out before continuing. "But...but, I'm male."
"Is that a problem with you Hobbits?" Kili asked, genuinely curious. It had at least surprised him enough to pause his rapid consumption rates.
"Well, it is not unheard of.." It felt uncomfortable with both set of eyes trained on him, and it caused him to shift and scuffle his legs. "But it is not talked about for the most part, and marriage is rare between men in the Shire..."
"Really?" The younger looks scandalized, as if someone had just informed him that his mother was less than savory.
"My brother is only surprised because in our culture it is not an uncommon occurrence." Picking up a rock, he inspected it before throwing it away from their huddle. "There are very few women in our population, and not all of us can marry them. We marry for life, and only one partner, so an alternative was found. Males can marry just as easily as females and males. Our women also are very similar in appearance to the men, so in the end it does not make much difference except to keep family lines alive."
"I..suppose that makes sense, then..." The hobbit trailed off, watching as Fili bounced another rock far from them.
"So you see, it's not such a far stretch that uncle could like you. He certainly acts like it." Kili concluded, digging back into his meal with gusto. At this point Bilbo decided longer cared about the food, and it was better that someone else eat it beside himself because his stomach was starting to feel rather peculiar all of a sudden. It certainly couldn't have been about the topic at hand, though. He must have just caught a bug, or something.
"We should probably head back to camp, it's rather dark..." Wringing his hands together nervously he glanced at the sky. The sun was starting to set, and the woods were strange to him.
"The hobbit is right," grabbing his brother by the arm, Fili hauled Kili up. "The others will eat without us, although at this point I'm not sure that you could eat much more."
"I still have plenty of room!"
Trying to ignore the bickering of the two brothers, the burglar checked his supplies to make sure nothing but food was amiss. Thoughts of dwarf marriage and companionship churned in his head, but he quickly shut them out. the brothers could very well just be playing a trick on him again. They were well known for doing that sort of thing.
Once satisfied, he slung it over his shoulder and turned to face the two, who were no longer arguing.
Actually, they both wore knowing grins, standing shoulder to shoulder and both leering. "We'll be returning to camp..."
"...and we'll be seeing your beau!" They crowed together, cackling at the humor they found in this situation.
"Yes, yes, I'm sure that it's all very amusing to you two. I am sorry to inform you that you are also wrong, and as such, should desist."
That was the exact opposite of what happened, though. The whole way back to the camp the brothers were pestering and bothering him and crooning love songs obviously made up on the spot. Bilbo had half a mind to go up to Thorin and have him disprove the theory himself, but it was such a ridiculous whimsy that there wasn't even any need to.
Because they were most certainly wrong.
This is what Bilbo told himself at the fire that night when he felt dark eyes upon him, studying the small figure that he cut against the log.