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Beneath the Moon

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After dinner, Bilbo sat out on Beorn's veranda, quietly smoking. Truth be told, he was still thinking of their narrow escape from the orcs and the wolves, and their terrifying rescue, and neither his stomach nor his heart had quite returned to normal just yet.

From inside, he could hear the merry voices of the dwarves, still drinking and laughing at their near escape.

"I wasn't afraid one bit, I swear!" cried Ori, about the harrowing flight on eagle-back to the top of the Carrock, while his companions teased him good-naturedly, saying that perhaps they would ask Beorn for an eagle for Ori to ride, rather than a pony, if he was so fond of soaring in the air.

Bilbo half-listened to their banter and half-drowsed, lost in thought, so that when he heard the quiet creak of the door and a soft step on the veranda next to him, he gave a start and turned to look. He thought it might be their host, and he was not ashamed to admit to himself that he felt a little afraid of being alone with the great man.

It was Thorin. Bilbo's shoulders relaxed and he sat back, smiling a little awkwardly at the dwarf. Ever since Thorin had embraced him atop the Carrock, he had felt a little unsure how to act around the leader of their group. He was glad indeed to have the dwarf king's approval, but rather than making him more comfortable, he felt as embarrassed and awkward around him as ever.

"May I join you?" asked Thorin.

"Of course," Bilbo replied, hastening to make room on the bench. Thorin sat down beside him, pulling out his own pipe. From the corner of his eye, Bilbo noted that Thorin still moved with some stiffness, but the tension was only in his body, not in his face, which looked more relaxed than Bilbo had yet seen him on this journey. They smoked for a while in companionable silence.

Bilbo started again when Thorin's hand gripped his shoulder. The dwarf was looking at him, his stern mouth turned down at the corners. "Why do you shiver, little one?" he said. "You are not cold?"

"Oh—no," Bilbo replied, for it was a lovely warm midsummer's night, with the drone of the bees and the press of the warm air seeming like one and the same sensation.

"Then you are not afraid?" Thorin pressed. "I assure you, you are safe here." As he spoke, his hand tightened on Bilbo's shoulder.

"Oh yes," Bilbo said. The words rushed out, unthinking. "I know I'm perfectly safe with—with you." Then he blushed to the tips of his ears. Oh, curse his fool tongue! Why, in the presence of the dwarf king, did he feel once again like a tongue-tied tween, instead of the full-grown hobbit he was?

The hand did not leave his shoulder. Thorin's deep voice held no mocking or frustration, merely concern. "Then why do you shake?"

His head was heavy and buzzing with the mead, with the bees all around them—that was the only possible explanation for what he did next. Images from the night before still flashed before his eyes and constricted his heart: Thorin lying, wounded and stunned, with the orc's blade at his neck. Thorin clutched in the eagle's claws, eyes closed and still, so still. How vulnerable he had looked, this mighty warrior, and how Bilbo had felt at that moment that he would do absolutely anything, if only Thorin should live.

Before he knew what he was doing, he had turned, flung his arms around the dwarf's shoulders, and pressed his lips to that bearded cheek.

Thorin froze, his body stiff in Bilbo's arms. Slowly, Bilbo felt the spell lifting, and with dawning mortification realized what he had done. To be so familiar with Thorin, the leader of their company, a king of dwarves! You fool, Bilbo! he cursed himself inwardly. He must have greatly offended the proud dwarf, for Thorin had not moved an inch, nor spoken. Blushing redder than ever, Bilbo made to pull away, stammering out apologies.

Before he could move away, however, one great hand came up to grip his arm tight, the other to rest on his cheek, and Thorin's lips were on his, stealing his breath in a fierce kiss. Bilbo's head swam, his heart raced, and all he could do was hold on.

Thorin pulled away at last, though his arms still held tight to the hobbit. His eyes shone in the dark, piercing, and Bilbo felt hooked like a fish, and gasping like one to boot.

"Ah, Bilbo," said Thorin, fierce and low, "glad am I to find that what is in my heart is also in yours."

Bilbo gaped, scrambling for an answer as Thorin pulled him close once more. This isn't what I meant, he wanted to say. He'd never imagined—had only wanted to offer comfort, to reassure himself that Thorin was alive and well, to express something of the admiration he felt for this man—or at least, that's what the Baggins part of him had wanted. As Thorin's tongue slipped past his lips and he heard himself give a little moan, he realized that maybe there was a small Tookish part of him that had wanted this, had imagined it somehow.

With a slight grunt, Thorin lifted Bilbo to sit facing him, astride his lap. Bilbo flushed again, equal parts embarrassed and excited to be handled so easily, as if he were no more than a child. Thorin's large, rough hands framed Bilbo's face, and he fixed Bilbo with a look that made the hobbit's breath catch in his throat. "Truly, you want this?" he asked, his dark gaze searching Bilbo's face.

There was a glittery, tight feeling swelling up beneath his breastbone and he couldn't find the words to answer, so he simply bobbed his head up and down and sighed with relief when Thorin threw his arms around him and pulled him close once more.

Whether it was a minute or an hour that they held each other close like that, Bilbo could not have said. Thorin kissed him deeply, the scratch of his beard on Bilbo's face feeling strange and wonderful. Thorin's hands stroked down his back and came to rest on his hips. When he tugged downward, Bilbo gasped and saw stars. It felt so nice that he tried it himself, burying his face against Thorin's shoulder and grinding his hips down. This time, they both gasped.

Bilbo knew his fair share of what could be done with hands and a bit of well-placed friction—there was very little to do with pleasure that hobbits didn't have some experience of, after all—but his explorations had always been solitary, and there was still much he didn't know. He'd always thought, before, that there was no use rushing headlong into things, no use grasping for anything beyond the ordinary—but this night, under the bright, swollen moon, he suddenly burned, he wanted to know. Both he and Thorin had nearly been killed by orcs, for goodness' sake! Not to mention the trolls and the Wargs and that nasty creature in the caves, and the falling, falling into nothingness. Who knew what they would encounter next? I cannot promise that you will return, Gandalf had said. And if you do, you will not be the same. If he might die at any moment, then he wanted to live now, and to live more than he ever had before.

"More," Bilbo gasped. He flushed with embarrassment, but forged on, having only a vague idea of what he was asking for. "I want—is there—more?"

Above him, Thorin paused, his face hidden in shadows, haloed by moonlight. "There is more," he said huskily, fingers tracing Bilbo's lips. "But are you sure? I would not wish to hurt you."

"Yes," Bilbo said, "yes. You won't hurt me." You couldn't, he thought fiercely.

Silently, Thorin spread his thick cloak on the wooden floor of the veranda, guiding Bilbo to lie down beside him. Bilbo cast a slightly anxious glance at the door, but already the sounds of dwarvish snoring were audible from within the great hall, their companions already deep asleep thanks to their toilsome journey and Beorn's strong mead.

Bilbo's head tipped back, eyes gazing at the stars studding the inky night sky like diamonds, as Thorin's rough hands stroked him, setting his body alight. Bilbo arched his back, desperate for more touch, and Thorin obliged, pushing his jacket and waistcoat off his arms and helping the hobbit wriggle out of them. For once, Bilbo had reason to be thankful for the loss of his waistcoat buttons. There was a brief moment of levity as Thorin fumbled with the small, pearly buttons of Bilbo's shirt, cursing under his breath. Bilbo squirmed at the ticklish touch, laughing breathlessly, which caused Thorin to look up, a smile quirking his lovely mouth, and huff out a low chuckle, seemingly admitting defeat. Bilbo felt a deep surge of tenderness and affection at the thought of this self-assured warrior being bested by a simple wardrobe item. He had barely enough time to undo the buttons himself before Thorin's mouth was on his again, and then lower, pressing long, sucking kisses to his neck and chest. When at last Thorin's fingers undid the lacings of his trousers and slipped inside to grip his cock, Bilbo nearly wept with relief.

Thorin's touch was firm yet gentle; his calloused hands moved with assurance on Bilbo's body, wringing quiet moans and sighs out of the hobbit. Bilbo felt himself hesitant and unpracticed by comparison, but Thorin seemed content with his shy touches, biting his lip when Bilbo managed to slip a hand beneath the dwarf's shirt, feeling heated skin and hard muscle beneath his fingers.

Bilbo felt himself nearing his peak, when suddenly the glorious sensations stopped and he was left feeling cold and bereft. He whimpered with frustration, but Thorin leaned to press a reassuring kiss to his lips.

"Patience, little burglar," he whispered. He sat up only long enough to shrug off his own armor and shirt, and to fetch a little bottle from the pocket of his coat. Uncorking the bottle, he poured some of the liquid into his hand. Bilbo saw his fingers shining in the dark, and then Thorin's hand was on him again, now slick and more wonderful even than before. He bucked up into that sweet touch, so overwhelmed by sensation that he only dimly noticed when Thorin's other hand slipped back and between his legs, yet he gasped at the first push of a slippery knuckle against the small opening there.

"All right?" Thorin asked, and Bilbo could only gulp for air and nod his head, yes, yes, oh, yes. Then Thorin's fingers were pushing into him, reshaping him, remaking him. Tears sprang into his eyes, but they were not tears of pain, only wonder at the strange intensity of it. He had never felt anything like this, never imagined it. Nothing had stirred him like this, not any appreciation of a comely hobbit lass, no poem or song, not the distant beauty of the elves. His whole body felt afire, like a blade of white-hot steel on the forge, taut and aching with anticipation. With each thrust of Thorin's fingers, sparks flew up behind his closed eyes.

The delicious feeling built higher and higher, until Bilbo felt as if he were soaring with the eagles once more. Thorin's touch on him and in him, the quiet endearments whispered in his flushed ear—it was all too much—he bucked and flung the back of his hand against his mouth to stifle his cry as he spilled himself over Thorin's hand and his own stomach.

It seemed an eternity later when Thorin whispered in his ear, "Are you ready for me?" Still in a daze, Bilbo's reply was to kiss him as best as he knew how, clinging tight to the broad shoulders as Thorin slid slowly into him, hard and hot and ever so much larger than fingers. I won't survive this, he thought. I'll be split open. But he did, and he wasn't, and somehow Thorin was fully seated within him and Bilbo was arching up to meet him, urging him on with the press of heels against his back. Bilbo buried his face in Thorin's thick hair and breathed deep the scent of leather and woodsmoke, listened to his harsh breaths, felt the strong beat of his heart, and held on and on until they were both falling endlessly once more. But this time, instead of darkness, there was light.