They had covered a fair amount of ground, some of it at speed, since they had wanted to cross the river before the weather closed in. The urgency of their journey had also meant they had chosen to go through the wood, rather than take the longer route round the outside. It was too late in the year for the wood to present any true danger, although they had all sustained a number of scratches from riding close to the trees.
But that wasn’t the only problem with travelling through a wood in autumn, Bilbo thought. Every branch they had brushed against had dropped some of its leaves, which had proved an annoyance for those further back amongst the riders, who were constantly having to make their way through what amounted to a leaf storm.
And quite why Thorin had felt it necessary to toss his head as much as he had, Bilbo wasn’t sure. Every time his pony had tossed its mane, Thorin appeared to have done the same, and now the flying leaves had become entangled in Thorin’s locks. The pony didn’t seem to have fared nearly as badly, but Thorin had arrived at their night’s resting place looking as though he had a bush on his head.
Slowly Bilbo ran his fingers through Thorin’s hair, removing leaves and bits of bark as he did so. There were even a few sycamore seeds which had become entwined in the hair. Thorin sat quietly, complaining occasionally when Bilbo pulled at a particularly recalcitrant tangle, and practically purring when he ran his hand down to check he had removed everything. Finally Bilbo leant over to kiss Thorin.
“All done,” he said. “You’re free to go.”
“That was very pleasant,” Thorin replied. “You could do that again some time.”
“Hmpf. Maybe next time you could leave the foliage behind where you found it.”
Thorin turned round, grinned at Bilbo and pulled him into a hug. If Bilbo hadn’t known better, he’d have thought the dwarf had deliberately been tossing his hair.