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FOR THE GREATER GOOD

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Bilbo crossed from his rocking chair to the front door, opened it and looked outside. In the still autumn night silence hung over Bag End, profound silence of the type that was more oppressive than the wall of noise of war. Stars twinkled in a black sky with drifts of clouds harboring impending rain.

Anxiety was making him restless. Bilbo clicked his tongue, annoyed with himself, torturing himself with recurring questions. How could he have let this happen? He forced himself to think about something else.

Where is he?

Returning to his rocking chair, he clasped his hands together beneath his swollen belly, lifting it to relieve the strain on his upper thighs. His legs ached for a good long walk but recently this had become too much for him. He sat back in his chair, trying to make himself comfortable.

His thoughts wandered back to the time he had first set eyes on the dwarves who had changed his life, to that day when Thorin first knocked on his door. Of course what happened after that was all Gandalf's fault, but as the old wizard had said many times by way of avoiding proper explanation, the expedition was made "for the greater good".

Bilbo snorted. "The greater good." How could all the trouble have any good result? Here he was pregnant and bereft of the company of the one he most longed to see. Even the once hated cacophonic dwarvish company would be welcome rather than being left at home alone, having to do everything himself and frightened of the future. He reflected on how odd it was that being alone had never bothered him in the past.

How he wanted to see Thorin again, gaze upon the sternly handsome face, stare deeply into those dark, unfathomable eyes. But at present Bilbo hated Thorin for what he had done to him, leaving him pregnant and alone.

Bilbo sighed. It had always been love or hate between him and Thorin, that most exasperating but fascinating creature. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander back to the days of the quest of the joourney to the Lonely Mountain, so far from here, the Shire. That damn adventure had not been in the least enjoyable. Dangerous, terrifying, painful and confusing, the riches that the expeditioners returned with did not make up for the suffering. Bilbo had come upon the Arkenstone, the large jewel with its secret, special properties, and had given it as a gift to Thorin who had recently become his lover, because he could see the desire in the dwarf's eyes and at the time that spark of desire had made him beautiful and irresistable.

Various scenes flashed briefly in his thoughts: the Lonely Mountain, tall, austere, shrouded in mystery as nebulous as the clouds that enveloped its peak; the noisy, irritating dwarves who had become his companions; wary of them at first, he had grown eventually to love all of them. But the things he had witnessed on the journey that he never had known existed: the intense fighting for one's life and the lives of one's companions, followed by the love among the men, shocking to him at first but eventually growing to understand it with Thorin's help.

After the quest Thorin had taken Bilbo to a special, most incredible place for a vacation. Thorin told him this place was called Thebes and that it did not yet exist in Middle Earth, that it would later be founded in the far future. He explained that he was able to take Bilbo there only because of the special properties of the Arkenstone. At first Bilbo regretted giving the Arkenstone to Thorin but later he felt it had been worth it because Thorin had bestowed his love upon Bilbo after that, but as a direct result he had become pregnant. He was sure that this would never have happened outside of Thebes and without the powers of the Arkenstone.

In his dream he awoke to see Thorin lying on the smooth stone floor of a pavilion whose doors had been flung open to let the soft summer breezes indoors. It was warm and humid. Thorin lay naked and relaxed and Bilbo blinked in surprise to see him in repose that way, so used he was to the warrior being fully clothed in black, tense and wary, always waiting for the enemy to attack.

Nearby was a huge fountain surrounded by statues of naked men, all bleached white by the relentless sun.

Looking down at himself, Bilbo saw that he was clothed in a loose white robe that floated around his body without clinging to his sweaty limbs. Bilbo felt awkward and not himself, wishing in a panic that he could find himself back in the Shire, in his rocking chair and contentedly smoking his pipe.

"Thorin," he whispered. "Where are we?"

The dwarf turned his penetrating gaze upon Bilbo. "It is a placed called Thebes."

"Where is that?"

"Very far from the Shire, in both space and time."

Bilbo blinked repeatedly. "I don't understand."

Thorin rose to his feet. Bilbo could not help but stare at the dwarf's wonderful physique, taut and athletic, tanned skin glistening in the sun. His long black hair was tied behind his head, a thick plait hanging down his back, the sides braided and hanging down in front. Scars covered his body from the many wounds he had suffered in battle. Bilbo thought it a wonder that he was still alive. His heart beat rapidly in his chest. Thorin approached and Bilbo's lips parted, his tongue darting forward, tasting the salty perspiration that glistened upon his upper lip.

Thorin, tall for a dwarf and much larger than Bilbo, lifted him in strong arms and pressed his mouth hard to the hobbit's lips, his tongue pushing its way into the slack mouth, and carried Bilbo to the fountain.

Ending the kiss abruptly, Thorin sat Bilbo upon the edge and deftly pulled the filmy white garment from the hobbit's body. Sitting beside him, Thorin dipped his feet into the cool waters that poured from a huge marble fish in the centre.

"Do you see these statues, Bilbo?" Thorin pointed to the sculptures around the perimeter.

Bilbo could see that they were male erotica, with finely toned and muscled bodies and most of them bore erections.

"They look like men - like Bard."

"Here in Thebes they are all men," Thorin explained. "As I told you Thebes exists in the future. Here the people are only men and women. Gone are the elves and dwarves of our time."

"Where have they gone?" Bilbo's eyes were wide with alarm.

"By now most of the elves have gone back to Valinor," Thorin replied. "The dwarves stayed behind but died a long time ago."

"What about hobbits?"

"Gone too, or became assimilated into the culture of men," Thorin surmised.

He gazed at Bilbo, his brows lowering themselves over his dark eyes.

"I wanted to show you this special place and explain something important about it to you," he said quietly.

"Please, if you will," Bilbo encouraged. He was confused and not a little upset about the fact that in the future the people he knew best would no longer exist. He welcomed any kind of story that would clear his mind and help him to understand the strange situation he found himself in. He clasped his hands in his lap, listening intently while Thorin explained the culture of men and young men that existed in Thebes.

"Here men have created something called a sacred band," Thorin went on. "It is a group of soldiers, 150 pairs, made up of lovers, each pair a man and his younger lover, also a man but only just reached maturity and groomed in the arts of hunting, fighting and loving, by his older lover. It is considered a boost to a warrior's fighting spirit, Bilbo, that man and lover shall fight together, for each other as much as for country, for love and honor. This love makes men better warriors because of their strong bond."

Thorin's voice grew louder in its passion, making Bilbo's heart beat faster. He could see that the dwarf had grown very excited by the concept of the sacred band and its erotic nature.

Thorin abruptly stopped speaking and seized Bilbo by the shoulders. "That is what I want for us, Bilbo."

"What? That we should fight together along with other lovers?"

"Only if fighting becomes necessary," Thorin said softly. "More importantly, I want us to share that kind of love."

Bilbo shivered a little. Thorin's fingers began to explore the much smaller hobbit's body, moving gently over his chest and belly before cupping him between the thighs.

"I would like you to call me Papa," Thorin whispered. "While I take you, when I am making love to you."

"P-Papa?" Bilbo stammered. Thorin's touches had made him giddy and more than a little excited.

Thorin scooped him up and waded into the fountain. He set Bilbo down in the shallow waters and bade him get on his hands and knees.

"As you wish, Papa," Bilbo whispered, raising himself upon hands and knees, his bottom reaching just above the water's surface. It was cool and soothing as it lapped about his arms and legs.

Thorin growled with pleasure. "Good. Very good."

"Take me, Papa, I beg you."

The dwarf had brought him to full excitement. He wanted nothing more than to be taken over and over again by the big warrior, to feel his thick cock taking him to the pinnacle of ecstasy.

Thorin was much larger than him. At times it made Bilbo feel insignificant and loving him could be painful in more ways than one, but he didn't mind. Thorin made him feel at once loved and powerful, something that a hobbit rarely feels. At least the powerful part. But being invisible could be a boon as Bilbo well knew.

His mind wandered to the time of the quest to when he and the dwarves had defeated the Stone Trolls in Eriador and had decided to camp there in the Trollshaws before resuming their journey the following day. Bilbo had fallen into a fitful sleep while fretting about various things, mostly the unknown dangers that awaited them ahead, when he was fully awakened by moaning sounds coming from within the camp. Sitting bolt upright he looked around although it was pitch dark, trying to detect any signs of immediate danger and eventually located the origin of the moans. He got up, sword drawn, and tiptoed to the stone wall of the structure where the trolls, turned to stone, were sitting.

His eyes now used to the dark, he could dimly make out the forms of Fili and Thorin. Their white skin glistened in the moonlight, stark naked. Thorin was pressing his body against Fili's, whose back was against the wall, both of his legs wrapped around Thorin's waist. Thorin was thrusting himself hard into Fili's flesh and Fili was whispering something inaudible to him.

Not wanting to see or hear anymore, Bilbo returned as quickly as possible to his sleeping bag. His heart beat strongly with conflicting emotions.

At that time he had never before known about the practices of soldiers during wartime and the actions of his fellow travelers shocked him, he now understood what Thorin had taught him about this kind of love among men and how it did not take away anything from their ability to fight. Rather, it made them better warriors for they battled out of love for their brothers in arms and the desire to protect them.

"Papa," he whispered, his heart full of love for Thorin. "Please don't stop. I love you."

After Thorin had come to full release and helped Bilbo come to his, they lay together, basking in the midday sun. Bilbo traced a long scar on Thorin's back that ran from his shoulder blade to his bottom rib.

"I remember when you suffered that wound," Bilbo said. "It was after we reached the Lonely Mountain and the Pale Orc tried to run you through."

"Ah." Thorin turned his head to look over his shoulder. "Luckily I moved just enough that his sword cut me, but shallower than that villain would have wished. Hah!" He smiled widely at the recollection.

"Tell me something, Thorin," Bilbo remarked. "Was the idea of the sacred band something you introduced among the dwarves after learning about it here, or...?"

"No, Bilbo, the sacred band was made a practice in Thebes, but in fact the coming together of fighting men during times of war has been in existence since the beginning of time, I believe. I know that we have been doing such things since before I ever knew about Thebes."

In his dream Bilbo sighed and came awake with a start. Alone at Bag End, sitting in his favourite rocking chair, he suddenly felt impatient waiting for Thorin to arrive. The baby had kicked him quite strongly. His hand flew to his belly and he stroked it softly.

"Maybe some tea would make me feel better," he muttered and raised himself to patter into the kitchen to put the kettle on.

The sudden knock on the door startled him nd he almost spilled boiling water on his hand.

For the past several months since his belly had begun to swell he had kept out of sight of neighbors, friends and relatives. No one had been suspicious of his behaviour since it was well known that he liked to keep to himself and valued his solitude. He considered himself a historian and was currently writing an account of the Shire, although lately he had not done any writing at all.

He hurried to the door and flung it open. "Thorin!" He exclaimed in delight. Tears started to fall, much to his distress. He had become so emotional of late.

"My dear boy!" Thorin shouted, shutting the door behind him. "Let me look at you!"

He stood, tall for a dwarf, handsome as always, exuding a particular energy. He regarded Bilbo with dark eyes sparkling, his dark clothing making him look like a huge raven. "Has it been so long since we've last seen each other?"

Bilbo wiped his eyes with a clean handkerchief plucked from his trouser pocket. "Far too long," he blubbed.

"I am sorry dear one, but duty always calls me away. I can visit only briefly this time as well. Have you given more thought to what you will do with our child once it is born?"

Bilbo caught his breath and swallowed. "I am going to tell people that I found the baby on my doorstep. Then I will ask Drogo and Primula if they would like to raise the child. They have always wanted one of their own but have been unsuccessful. They are close to me and this way I will be able to see our child all the time."

With this Bilbo burst into tears once more.

Thorin stepped forward, clucking his tongue in impatience. "But you could raise it yourself," he said. "You live alone. A babe would be company for you."

Bilbo's face grew red. "I thought I would go with you on your travels," he said. "It would be no place for a baby to come along with us."

Thorin's eyes opened and he stepped back as if shocked.

"That is out of the question. It would be far too dangerous."

"But I did all right before! I helped you a great deal. I found the Arkenstone and gave it to you! Why do you not want me now?"

Thorin stared at him speechlessly. The look in his eyes told Bilbo what he had suspected these last months.

"You would rather be with Fili than with me. Fili has not become pregnant. He is a better warrior than I am. I can see it now."

Thorin's eyes narrowed and his face grew an unpleasant dark red. Bilbo hated that look. He had seen it only when Thorin had become very angry when facing a threat.

"Now see here, Bilbo," he hissed. "We have been through this! Fili and I have not---" he stopped abruptly. "No, I refuse to explain myself to appease you as if you were a child. I expected more from you, Bilbo."

"You arrogant bastard!" Bilbo plucked a plate from the shelf behind him and let it fly at Thorin's head. "You think you can come and go as you please! You think you can fuck any man you choose any time you want him and they would all love to have you!"

Thorin shrugged. "I could not lie about that," he started to say.

Bilbo threw another plate at him which missed as did the first one.

"Get out!"

"No." Thorin ducked as another plate flew over his head and crashed against the door. "Your emotions are running to extremes. You are wrong about Fili and the others. I won't leave until things are settled between us."

He stepped forward to take Bilbo in his arms. "Don't do this, Bilbo. Please calm yourself." Cradling the hobbit, he rocked him as he would a babe.

"Are you still my daddy?" Bilbo's sobs subsided into a whisper. He gazed up at his lover's handsome face.

"Yes, my dear, and I always will be." Thorin pressed his lips to Bilbo's forehead.

"Will you stay with me tonight?" Bilbo stroked Thorin's arm.

"Tonight I shall stay here with you," Thorin promised. "But in the morning I must take my leave. There is trouble again in the south and I promised that I would help fight another orc uprising."

That night, cradled in Thorin's arms, Bilbo was visited again by vivid dreams. This time he was back at camp with Thorin's band of dwarves. They had almost reached the Lonely Mountain. The Pale Orc and his company had attacked them that day but the dwarves and Bilbo had successfully driven them off. Afterwards everyone's blood was up so that no one slept much that night. Thorin had come to Bilbo's bed and asked if he would be willing to do certain things. He wanted Bilbo to praise him. It was the first time he asked Bilbo to call him "Daddy" or "Papa". Bilbo surprised himself by first obliging Thorin and afterwards loving it.

They lay together while the other dwarves moved discreetly off to carry on their own shenanigans. It was the first time that he and Thorin had spent the entire night sleeping together.

Bilbo had been shocked to see Fili and Kili together when he rose after a few hours' sleep to find a spot to relieve himself. "I cannot seem to go anywhere without stumbling over a dwarf or two," he muttered to himself. He could hear groans of passion coming from other areas around the camp and hurried to do his business so he could avoid any unpleasant confrontations.

Thorin had denied having a relationship with Fili yet Bilbo always had a suspicion that something was or had been going on between them since he had first come upon them together. Bilbo sighed and rolled over, and came awake. Thorin was sleeping quietly beside him. Bilbo rose and padded to the window. It was still dark outside. A few more hours and Thorin would be gone again. Bilbo supposed that he must get used to the dwarf's comings and goings. At least he would visit from time to time and once their child was born Bilbo would be able to spend much time with him; he was sure it would be a boy.

When Thorin made to take his leave Bilbo stopped him for one last long hug. Thorin gave him a look tinged with sadness, fine lines deepening around the outer edges of his eyes.

"My dearest Bilbo, I wish things could be otherwise, but you know how I am. If I am needed I will go to fight, though I might long to be elsewhere. It is for the greater good that I must go." He lifted Bilbo's hand and squeezed it tightly. "You are my greatest love. I will return as often as I can to visit you and the babe, I promise."

"I wish I could go with you." Bilbo tried to make his words not sound like begging.

Thorin sighed and smiled at him. Bilbo could read his expression very well. It said, "Fighting is not your vocation and war is not your place in the world."

0o0--0o0--0o0--0o0

True to his word, Thorin returned often to visit Bilbo and the child, named Frodo, whenever Bilbo was looking after him. At those times they were like a true family, spending the day together, on picnics or playing games. During these times Bilbo was at his happiest. He had accepted that the era in which they lived dictated that Thorin must spend long periods of time away fighting, but because of the great skill he possessed as a warrior, he always returned unscathed. Bilbo would regard little Frodo with a keen eye, wondering if he would grow up to be more like his father Thorin, or more like a hobbit. He did possess the hobbit characteristics of furry feet and small stature, but it was too soon to be able to tell if he would develop the characteristics of a warrior like his father. Bilbo hoped not, but time would tell. For now he would enjoy and cherish the time he could spend with Frodo while things in the Shire were peaceful.

The other dwarves would visit often too, sometimes with Thorin, or sometimes one or more would come to Bag End without Thorin. Bilbo welcomed them although he still liked to spend a great deal of time alone to work on his annals. He remembered one time fondly, when Bofur came to see him, hat in hand, and with a sheepish aspect that puzzled Bilbo, so far was it from Bofur's normal demeanour.

"I want to apologize," the dwarf blurted suddenly. "For taking you from your home and putting you in grave danger far away from the Shire. I know it must have been very difficult for you. I've wanted to say I am sorry for a long time now."

"But you are not responsible for what happened." Bilbo felt quite astounded. "Especially not you alone, Bofur. I have never held any of you dwarves accountable, and have always blamed the quest on Gandalf. And yet everything has turned out very well, don't you think? For all of us? No, Bofur, please do not beg anything of me. I am quite fine, thank you."

Bofur grinned hugely at that and the two friends embraced each other warmly. From that day forward Bilbo enjoyed his life which always felt full enough that he desired no more than what was given him.

When Frodo was still very young, Drogo and Primula died in an accident on the Brandywine River. Bilbo was able to adopt him and thus fulfill his duty as a parent.