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The End of Ways

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He was going home.  

That was what he knew as he felt the gentle rocking of the boat that they were riding.  

"Are we nearly there, Gandalf?" he asked quietly, voice now quiet and weak because of age and exhaustion. Exhaustion from traveling, from moving, from waiting...from living.  

The White Wizard looked at him kindly and nodded. There was a gentle smile on his face as he sat down beside his old friend. "Yes Bilbo, we're nearly there," he said softly as he glanced at Elrond who bowed his head at them; he knew that this was goodbye.  

"Close your eyes, Master Baggins," Gandalf coaxed. "Close your eyes and when you open them you'll be home."  


That sounded like a good place to be right now.  

'Close your eyes...' 

And so Bilbo did. He closed his eyes and let out a breath. Gandalf watched and waited until he took in another breath....but he never did.  


Sunlight, warmth and the smell of something delicious baking in the oven.  

Slowly, Bilbo opened his eyes. Everything was suddenly familiar and at the same time not. He slowly sat up and anticipated the pain on his back to start but nothing came. Confused, he looked down and paused. These clothes were different. Familiar but different. He managed to look at his appearance with a mirror that he had always kept beside his bed. His face was familiar...and he hadn't seen it for a long time. It was almost as if time had reversed... 

"Oh good you're awake." 

Bilbo froze. He knew that voice well. Too well. Like everything else around him, it was familiar and he had thought he had forgotten the sound of it now...after all, it had been years.  

"Father? Everything alright?"  

Father. Now that was something he hadn't heard for a long time. Slowly, he turned his head and looked towards the direction of the door where the voice came from.  


Kili didn't look any different from the time he had last seen him. 


Kili did look different.  

For the last time Bilbo had seen him Kili had been covered in blood, arrows protruding from his back and blood seeping out of a wound on his chest. That was the time that Bilbo felt his heart completely shatter, never able to mend itself again. 


That was the last time he had heard Kili call him that. 

'I'm dreaming...' he thought painfully as he felt his heart twinge. 'I fell asleep on the boat and I....'. 

And then Kili smiled, not his usual happy and smug smile that was full of mischief. It was a smile that held so much sorrow and at the same time relief. The kind of smile that Kili would give him when he had accidentally gotten lost and Bilbo had just found him.  

"Kili?" he called out again and the boy walked up to him and as he came closer, Bilbo saw him turn into the little boy he had first found under the rain. The little boy that changed his life in ways he could never fathom happening again.  

All of a sudden, he felt tiny arms wrapped around him as a small boy with medium length dark hair nuzzled into his shirt.  

"Welcome home, Father."  

Yes. He was home. Finally home. This was how it was supposed to be. Him and Kili. Their little family long before they were thrust into a world of uncertainty, pain and eventually...death. 

"I'm home."  

And everything was as it should.