Bilbo was frowning, his brow creased with concern. His eyes were fixed ahead of him, on the slightly slumped figure of Thorin. After a night’s rest, they had set off the next morning with higher hopes and the sight of the mountain resting in their hearts. They had been walking for hours, and Bilbo couldn’t help but feel slightly anxious for Thorin, after getting attacked just yesterday.
Thorin had refused all help, insisting to the Company that he was well, and no injury was grievous enough to warrant any care. All who pressed him, including Kili and Fili, were pushed aside. Gandalf just shook his head, apparently believing the effort needed to overcome Thorin’s pride not worth it. Bilbo had just watched this all silently, only thinking.
His eyes bore holes into Thorin’s back as he walked and contemplated if or what he should do. There was no question to him that Thorin did have wounds that were causing him pain; there were tell-tale signs that even he couldn’t conceal to the practiced eye, like the way his hand clenched the pommel of his sword tighter as the day went on or how his left foot every several steps dragged slightly on the ground, causing him to misstep nearly unnoticeably. Nothing substantial enough to cause alarm concerning his health to the others, but enough for Bilbo to resolve to do something about it.
That evening, after Thorin had declared to camp in the sloping hillside for the night and a dinner he barely partook in, Bilbo slowly approached his dark blue, hunched form standing at the edge of the camp.
Thorin’s back was to the group, his hand resting on a tree trunk, as he looked out to the path before them. Bilbo stood beside him. For a while he said nothing, but he could see out of the corner of his eye that Thorin was casting furtive and slightly confused glances at him.
“What do you want?” he asked finally, his tone accusatory.
“Thorin, I…” Bilbo started, unsure of how to succeed when all help had been refused.
Thorin narrowed his eyes, guessing the hobbit’s intentions. “I’m fine. I feel fine and I do not need to be coddled and tended to like a child,” he declared harshly.
He glared at Bilbo and started walking away in a huff.
Frustration and anger began to boil up inside Bilbo’s gut. Before he even realized what he was doing, he followed after Thorin, and grabbed his arm. Thorin looked down at Bilbo’s hand on his arm and growled in annoyance, but before he was able to start shouting, Bilbo cut in.
“Just be silent for one minute, Thorin Oakenshield, and listen to me,” he demanded tersely.
“The fact is I don’t care if you believe you don’t require help. I will not be frightened away by you, nor shall I be pushed away when you certainly do need assistance and I am willing to offer it.”
Thorin opened his mouth to reply, his eyes wide, but he found no words and closed it again.
Bilbo smiled in triumph, and swung his water flask off his shoulder.
“Have you even really looked at your injuries to assess them?”
Thorin shook his head. “I don’t see how a few scratches warrant someone to ‘assess’ them,” he answered roughly, his arms now wrapped protectively across his chest.
Bilbo only narrowed his eyes at the dwarf, giving him a hard look before motioning at him to sit down.
They were a ways from the rest of the group now, but the soft glow of the campfire and the silver glow of the nearly full moon provided enough light for Bilbo to see.
Thorin was grumbling in disagreement but sat down with Bilbo all the same.
“This is ridiculous,” he muttered to himself, his arms folded across his chest again.
Bilbo huffed in exasperation. “Then how about we get it over with?”
Still looking as though he’d rather marry an elf than receive attention for his wounds, Thorin slowly took off his furs, and then his leather outergarments and then slowly unbuttoned the course undershirt. Bilbo, with a guarded look, watched Thorin wince several times during this process, and hide it badly. Sighing, Bilbo leaned in for a closer look and pulled away almost immediately, with a short hiss of surprise.
There were several large gashes across Thorin’s abdomen, with dark brown red blood congealed, and the skin around the cuts red and inflamed. His shield had not prevented most of the damage nowhere near as well as he had led them to believe. It was much worse than even Bilbo had thought.
“Are you serious?” Bilbo looked back up to Thorin, his eyes hard. “These are nothing to you? Some of these are quite deep, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this alone, I might need the others to…”
Thorin grabbed his shoulder suddenly, his eyes pleading.
“Please,” he whispered, his stubbornness melting away, and replaced with raw emotion. “I do not desire that the others know of this. I have healed well from such wounds before, it just takes a little time. Please. It will cause unneeded trouble, and I know I will be fine.”
Bilbo searched his face and contemplated his words for several moments. Finally he sighed.
“Fine. I will not tell them. Just let me do this without hassle, that’s all I ask. You need someone to tend to these wounds.”
Thorin inclined his head. “As you wish.”
Bilbo smiled slightly at him, and grabbed his handkerchief, pouring a little water on it. “Now lean back against that tree.” Thorin tensed slightly but followed directions.
“Thank you,” Bilbo said softly, and he started to dab away the blood around the wounds, working slowly and gently. Thorin’s eyes were squeezed shut and his hands clenched to lessen the pain and his show of what he felt.
His fingers gently skirted around the wounds, as he slowly wiped away blood revealing how long the scrapes really were, and confirming their severity. As he worked, Bilbo could hear Thorin cursing under his breath in Dwarvish, and he flinched slightly at certain times.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” Bilbo would murmur every time this happened. Finally, with his free hand, Bilbo grasped Thorin’s clenched fist, squeezing it reassuringly.
Thorin’s hand relaxed and enveloped Bilbo’s.
“Almost done,” he said at last. Thorin peaked out of one eyelid to Bilbo’s face, watching him. “There.”
Bilbo threw the red-stained rag to the side. “Are you feeling all right?” he asked, concerned.
Thorin said nothing but moved to sit up. He immediately sharply gasped, and fumbled his hands protectively over his bare stomach.
“Just… stay. I’ll go get something,” Bilbo said in a rush, and ran off to camp. Most of the dwarves were sleeping by this time, except a few that were in nearly silent conversation with each other, and Ori who was keeping watch. Bilbo slowed down as he approached, and nodded towards Ori who was looking his way inquisitively.
Reaching a bundle of food, he unwrapped the excess linen around it, and crumbled the brown cloth in his hand, heading back to Thorin.
Thorin was still resting against the tree, his face scrunched in pain.
“Here,” Bilbo said softly. “It won’t do much for the pain but wrapping it should speed the healing process.
Bilbo clutched his hand again, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
Slowly, gently, he uncrumpled the fabric and began wrapping it around Thorin’s abdomen, making sure to cover the larger scratches on his stomach and the smaller scrape across his breast. Luckily, it was a large cloth, and so Bilbo was able to securely, but comfortably cover his entire midsection.
This time, Thorin silently watched Bilbo as he worked. The hobbit’s eyes were intent, and the tip of his tongue could be seen at the corner of his mouth, from concentration. His hands moved carefully and deliberately.
Bilbo secured the corner of the fabric to the rest, and looked up to Thorin, who had a curious expression Bilbo was unable to place.
“Are you okay?” he asked, placing a hand on Thorin’s shoulder. Thorin swallowed and shook his head.
“I’ve been better.” He gingerly sat up, testing out the bandage, and then began putting his overgarments back on.
Bilbo sighed but got up as well, continuing to watch Thorin until he was done dressing.
“Do you need help back to the camp?” Bilbo asked hesitantly, knowing what the answer would be.
“No,” Thorin replied shortly, but his face softened slightly.
He reached out to Bilbo, laying his hand on Bilbo’s upper arm.
“Thank you,” he muttered, with a small smile, and walked back to join the rest of the group.
Bilbo shook his head.
Well that could have been worse, he thought. He was actually surprised it went that well. Yawning, he decided to follow Thorin back to camp.
Rolling out his bedroll on the ground, he curled up on his side to sleep, letting the dying fire warm him and lure him to slumber at last.