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Sweet is the Sound of Falling Rain

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“You look like you could use a bath,” Bofur said.

“I beg your pardon!” True or not, the observation was appallingly rude. At least the dwarf had not said Bilbo smelled as though he could use a bath. “Your brother and I have been slaving all day in this kitchen trying to put it in order so that we can turn out respectable meals for the rest of you lot. I should think a little gratitude in order!”

“Yes,” Bofur said slowly, “That’s why I’m telling you the royal baths are ready.”

“They are?” Bombur interrupted with a look of interest. “Well why did you come to get the hobbit and not me?”

“Quit your complaining the both of you, or I’ll go alone. I’m sure half the company is already having a go without us.”

“Do you mean to say there’s a real, proper bath? With hot water? The kind of bath that a weary hobbit can have a good long soak in?” Bilbo had been doing his best with a basin and cloth since Laketown, which meant he hadn’t felt even slightly clean in a month at least.

“Aye,” Bofur said. “Long overdue, in my opinion. At least Thorin is letting the entire company use the royal baths, so we don't need to wait weeks more for repairs to the public baths to be finished.”

Bilbo sniffed. “How kind.”

“Ah, it's not just a matter of letting us past the guards and trusting us in the private parts of the royal wing. Even the great generals of the past weren’t allowed to share those waters. Or so I'm told.”

Bilbo smiled. He supposed Thorin was being a good host, no matter what dwarven tradition may have dictated. It wouldn't do to be an ungrateful guest. Especially not if he was really sharing his own bath with the entire company. “I guess we'll have to work up a rota or something, if we only have one bathroom to share among the fourteen of us.”

Bofur’s laugh was sudden and loud. Being Bofur, however, he refused to explain the joke, saying Bilbo would understand soon enough.

Shrugging seemed wisest response to this, and the little hobbit trotted along behind his friends, as eager as anyone for a nice hot soak.

There were indeed guards at the door, but Bilbo recognized them all by sight and they only smiled, letting the three friends pass. Then the big doors opened wide, and Bilbo understood why Bofur had laughed at the idea of a rota.

The royal baths were huge. Bigger than the great fountains at Rivendell, almost as large as Gollum’s underground lake had been, many pools of different heights stretched and filled an enormous room with high, vaulted ceilings. Despite the comparisons which sprang to Bilbo’s mind at the sight, these baths were clearly crafted by dwarven hands. Around the outer edge of the great pool were stone benches of the type so common under the mountain, strewn with clothing and dry towels. Beyond that, rising from the main pool were over twenty, smaller pools hewn from dark stone and decorated with beautiful tiles. Bilbo watched Kili, naked as the day he was born, race up a long stair to the top of one of those towering pools and fling himself like a ball to the depths below.

“Don’t worry,” Bofur said. “The waters in the center there are deep enough that he won't hurt himself hitting the bottom, the reckless little blighter.”

Bilbo did not know what to say to this, but apparently Bombur had had quite enough talk. The big dwarf stripped off all his clothes and sprinted to one wall at top speed. The hobbit watched in a numb kind of shock as his friend pulled a chain that released a torrent of water over his head. Then Bombur soaped up more quickly than Bilbo would have imagined possible, and pulled the chain again. With an almost morbid fascination, Bilbo wondered why his friend would take what was essentially a bucket bath when he was clearly excited about the enormous pools. He was not afforded the opportunity to ask. Once clean, Bombur raced up the stairs just as Kili had and repeated the prince’s maneuver. For a dwarf of Bombur’s impressive girth, the act had a markedly different result. A great tidal wave rose from where he landed in the water, splashing over all the other bathing dwarves. When he surfaced they all cheered, while Fili tackled the big dwarf, trying to dunk him back beneath the surface of the water.

“Bit much for you, Bilbo?” Bofur’s smile was kind and knowing. “Why don't you and I head over to one of the side pools for a nice quiet soak, eh? The lads will leave us alone, I'm sure. They know we'll make them regret it if they don't!”

Bilbo opened his mouth, but no sound came out.

“And of course you'll want to be careful. The highest pools have water that's come directly from cooling the forges. It only flows past in the ducts, you know. The water itself is as clean as all the rest. But it’ll be hot as dragon fire. Only a smith with firetouch can bathe safely up there.”

The hobbit couldn’t force his gaze away from the throng of bathing dwarves. Once again, he tried and failed to speak.

“Bilbo?”

“Bofur,” the hobbit said at last, very calmly, “there is a dwarrowdam bathing over there.”

Bofur blinked. “Aye, Dain’s wife. She's actually royalty, though. Has a right to be here, unlike you and me. Did you think it would only be the company?”

“She’s a she!” Bilbo hissed. “She’s naked! I can see her—she's naked!”

Laughing heartily, Bofur slapped Bilbo on the back. “Afraid for your virtue? Don't be! Did you miss the part where she's married? Dain may not have both his feet, but I can see from here that he still has plenty to please his wife with.”

Bilbo very carefully did not look at the nude Lord of the Iron Hills, even though the big fellow was practically posing on the edge of one of the smaller pools. Despite averting his gaze, the little hobbit couldn’t help being peripherally aware that the iron-footed dwarf did indeed have a great deal with which to please his wife. A very great deal.

It was not unheard of in the Shire for family members to bathe in the same room at the same time, if there was a party or an occasion when everyone might need to get ready at once, but even then hobbits used separate tubs. They certainly didn’t bathe with members of the opposite sex, not even siblings. And Bilbo had never had any siblings, nor been close enough to the rest of his family to have much experience bathing with others at all upon reaching his adulthood.

Of course he'd noticed on the road that the dwarves would all strip off and wash in any convenient pond that presented itself, but he thought that was a sacrifice they made to being clean on such a hard journey. He had never once suspected they preferred it. Bathing all together. Like there was nothing shameful about it. Like it was perfectly natural to lark about without any clothing on. None of them seemed embarrassed in the least. But then, none of them were soft little hobbits. They were all big, impressive dwarves. They didn’t have anything to be ashamed of, did they?

Without a word to Bofur, he turned and stumbled out of the room.

Now, while Bilbo had no intention of embarrassing himself by stripping down in front of his friends, he did desperately want a bath. Not to disparage the facilities in Laketown or Beorn’s hospitality, but he hadn’t been properly clean since Rivendell, and even that had been a tub of rather tepid water. Apparently elves did not enjoy hot water the way dwarves and hobbits did. Or perhaps they simply did not mind one way or another, and so did not go to the trouble. Bilbo had not asked. In his present circumstances, what mattered was that there was hot water to be had. Only it was not to be had in his room. Likely the idea of private baths would not be something to broach for months yet, as there were many more important things for the construction crews to work on. The idea tortured him. He could have a nice hot bath if he wanted one, but only in that great big room.

Well there was nothing to say that the room needed to be full of dwarves when he took his bath, was there?

Shortly after midnight, Bilbo Baggins crept through the halls of Erebor like the burglar he was. If most burglars tended to wear a little more than a dressing gown, it was only because most burglars were out to steal more than a few minutes alone.

He was a little surprised to see that there were still guards on the door to the baths despite the late hour, but they smiled and waved him through. It made sense, he supposed, to guard the place while unarmed members of the royal family were using it, but he wasn't sure why they would still be there so late at night. Not that it mattered. Bilbo trusted them to take their duty seriously and not peek. That was all he cared about, really.

Slipping into the cavernous bathing room, the little hobbit took a moment to appreciate how empty it was. The shouting and laughter from earlier was entirely replaced by the gentle sound of flowing water. It really was a beautiful place. The soft gold lights illuminated many of the pools from underneath the water, showing lovely patterns in the tiles. Each of the tiered walls had a waterfall spilling over the ledge to yet another pool below, turning the whole bath into a fountain as impressive as any found in Rivendell. For a long moment, Bilbo simply looked on the arrangement in awe, enjoying the peaceful feeling of being all alone with such beauty.

Then a dwarf surfaced from underneath the water of the uppermost pool, like the cherry on the very top of a big cake. Though it gave Bilbo quite a shock, he did not cry out. After all, he had not yet disrobed, and he saw at once that it was only Thorin. The king had likely been having a nice soak under the hot water. Bilbo remembered what Bofur had said about that pool being hot enough to cook a hobbit, and he was rather impressed by the way Thorin treated it like an ordinary bath.

However, when the king turned his head in the direction of the door, Bilbo ducked swiftly behind a bench. He didn't know why he hid, but hide he did. Thorin didn't seem to notice his presence. The dwarf settled back into his bath with a small smile.

Thorin was very handsome when he smiled, and so Bilbo settled in as well. It was not truly like spying, the hobbit told himself, for Thorin would not have minded at all to know that Bilbo was there. Apparently dwarves did not mind being seen while bathing. Yet staring was always a bit rude, and Bilbo had never felt comfortable looking at Thorin as much as he liked while in company. The opportunity to simply watch for a few minutes unnoticed was almost as good as a bath. Anyway, he was just waiting until the king finished up so that he could have a chance to bathe alone. That was a perfectly sensible excuse. Er. Reason.

Thorin ducked under the water again, but Bilbo waited patiently. After a few moments, the dwarf erupted from the smooth surface of the water like one of Gandalf’s rockets, his long hair a black curtain around his face. As Bilbo looked on, the king threw his head back, flinging water droplets through the air like diamonds and flipping that glorious mane in an arc all the way back behind his shoulders where it belonged. The little hobbit quite forgot how to breathe. Amazement did not seem to be a strong enough term.

Sitting up on the wall, so high above Bilbo that he might have been among the stars, Thorin began to comb his hair.

Impressively long as Thorin’s hair was, it only came down to the center of his back. His seat on the wall was quite bare, giving the hobbit a wholly unobstructed view. Bilbo thought that he had never seen such a perfectly formed bottom in his life. Reddened by the hot water, it reminded him of a delightfully ripe apple. The temptation to beg for a bite was nigh overwhelming.

But Thorin did not even know that Bilbo was there. He was only combing his hair. Gleaming gold showed that the comb was a very valuable one, but whatever beauty it possessed was nothing compared to the long ebony strands that ran through it like the little waterfalls streaming over the poolside. Combing with long slow strokes that ran the entire length of his hair, Thorin showed a patience Bilbo hadn't realized the king possessed. Moreover, each stroke of the comb lifted the curtain of hair just a little, showing hints of that powerfully muscled back.

Bilbo wondered if Thorin would have such patience with other things, now that each moment was no longer a struggle for the survival of his people. It was lovely to see the king so contented and at peace. Hours might have passed with Thorin simply combing his magnificent hair, Bilbo hiding behind a bench far below to watch, and the hobbit would have called them happy ones.

Lovely was too mild a term for how Thorin looked when he finally rose to his feet and began walking down the stair toward Bilbo. Masterful would have been nearer the mark. Majestic was also generally appropriate when trying to describe the way Thorin moved. The king’s steps were slow and deliberate, but he did not seem to be cautious or careful about the wet stone stair. Indeed, he took the steps two at a time in places. This stretched his legs and flexed the thick muscles in his thighs quite impressively, though only Bilbo was there to see.

Only Bilbo saw the heroic scars across that flushed skin, and the way the damp, humid air made the generous thatch of Thorin’s chest hair look so orderly as it trailed down his belly. The hobbit was quite alone in luridly admiring the king’s cock. It was, in fact, every bit as impressive as his cousin Dain’s had been. Perhaps even more so. The little burglar felt a deep pang of regret on behalf of all the dwarrowdams who must have bathed with the king over the years. Clearly, Thorin could have made someone extraordinarily happy, and Bilbo wondered that he had never taken a wife.

In point of fact, if he was completely honest, Bilbo felt a little pang for himself. Thorin certainly had the capacity to make a hobbit very, very happy.

When the king finally reached the base of the long stair leading down from the upper pools, he paused. With one leg upon the steps in a right angle, Thorin seemed to stretch a little, turning his head to one side and putting his hands on his hips. The position showed all of the dwarf’s muscles to impressive effect and had the benefit of displaying his noble, dignified profile. Bilbo tried to keep his admiring gaze on the king’s handsome beard, but his eyes would drift downward to the juncture of his friend’s thighs.

He was not erect. Not wholly erect. But it was quite clear that Thorin was perhaps halfway there, looking fuller and thicker than he had before descending the staircase.

If he placed a hand upon himself, Bilbo would reveal his presence. Arguments might be made that dwarves did not care whether or not they were seen bathing, but Bilbo was not such a sneak that he would spy upon a friend’s pleasure. He would explain that hobbits generally bathed alone, and he’d only been waiting for Thorin to leave. Then perhaps, if he dared, he might offer the use of his own hand. Surely that was a kind enough offer of help. A friendly offer indeed, which would likely offend Thorin beyond words. Fortunately, the matter did not come up. Instead of touching himself, Thorin spoke.

“Will you not join me, my burglar?” Turning his head from side to side, scanning the benches, it was clear that Thorin did not know exactly where Bilbo was hiding. It was equally clear that he knew the hobbit was there. “Bofur said you were too shy to bathe earlier with the others, but surely there is no need for such hesitation between the two of us.”

Standing up, Bilbo straightened his dressing gown.

The king smiled. At Bilbo. While very naked. The little hobbit nearly fainted. “There you are. Why did you not join me before now? I have come down from the heights, and I promise not to splash at you as my sister-sons most certainly would. Let us bathe together.”

“I was only.” Bilbo’s voice trembled with the weight of his excuse. “I thought I would wait until you finished up. Wouldn’t want to chase you from your own bath or anything. I just. I have become rather accustomed to bathing alone in the forty odd years since my childhood.”

Thorin’s smile fell away. While the king did not look angry, Bilbo thought perhaps he detected disappointment in those blue eyes before they hardened into forceful politeness. “Of course, Master Baggins. I should have realized you were only waiting for your turn. My apologies. I have wasted your time by dallying in my own ablutions.” With a short bow, Thorin turned and strode hurriedly over to a stack of clean, fluffy towels. There was no question that Bilbo had offended him in some way.

By rejecting what was clearly an offer of friendship among dwarves. Oh dear. “Thorin, wait!”

The dwarf stopped, but did not turn back to face Bilbo.

“Sorry. Before you go, would you please be so kind as to show me the proper way to use the baths? I just remembered that Bombur took a bucket bath before he went in, and I would not want to behave badly. Among hobbits, we do our washing in the tub.”

“Of course,” Thorin said politely. Returning to Bilbo’s side, he put a warm, slightly damp hand on the hobbit’s shoulder. “The baths are too large to clean more than once a month. Indeed, draining them is the work of an entire day, so it is considered wise to wash before soaking. Simply pull the chain there, and water will shower from that faucet. I promise you, it is no cold bucket bath. If a friend holds the chain while you wash, you need not feel the chill of the air until you are ready to enter the pools.” Thorin hesitated. “I would be very pleased to assist you.”

Then it was Bilbo’s turn to hesitate. Obviously this was a second chance to accept Thorin’s gesture of friendship. “Thank you.” The hobbit ducked his head shyly. “I know you will not laugh at me.”

Thorin’s voice was an earthy rumble when he said, “Laugh? No. I will not make merriment out of your attempts to follow the customs of my people.”

Feeling a little ridiculous, Bilbo shrugged quickly out of his dressing gown. Hanging it on one of the nearby benches, he immediately crossed his arms over his bare chest. Thorin didn't even look at the hobbit. Of course he didn’t. Bilbo really wasn't anything to look at, was he?

Thorin pulled one of the chains and water rained from the faucet in a gentle flood. Bilbo stepped into the stream. It was warm and sweet. Tilting his head back, he closed his eyes for a moment and simply enjoyed the feeling. When he opened his eyes, it was to meet Thorin’s. The king’s steady gaze was fixed very firmly on the hobbit’s face. Blushing, Bilbo reached for the soap.

The soap was not a bar as Bilbo expected, instead it was a light, flaky powder that seemed to wash away the moment he picked it up. Every time he got a little in his hand, the water from the shower slipped it from his hand and sent it spiraling down the drain.

“I could.” Thorin’s mouth was set in a thin line. Likely the dwarf had lost patience with Bilbo’s bumbling. Confirming this, he continued. “I could help you. If you hold the chain, I will wash your hair.”

“Oh!” Bilbo smiled sheepishly. “As hopeless as that, am I? Thank you, Thorin. I should be much obliged if you would show me how to work up a lather.”

Taking the chain so that the lovely warm shower of water continued to pour around them, Bilbo watched as his friend took a generous handful of soap flakes. Wetting them, Thorin rubbed his hands together quickly making a foam which he immediately began to work into Bilbo’s hair in a businesslike manner. Tilting his head back so that the soap did not drip into his face, the hobbit was forced to close his eyes once more against the showering water. Having strong hands massaging his hair was lovely. Thorin never once pulled on a tangle, but he did twist his fingers through Bilbo’s curls in a gentle way. After a few minutes of this, Bilbo noticed that he could no longer feel the water on his face and he opened his eyes in confusion.

Thorin stepped back hastily, apparently he’d been standing over the hobbit in the way of the spray. “Your hair is clean now,” the dwarf said gruffly, taking hold of the chain.

“Right.” Bilbo released the chain and took a bit more of the soap. “Thank you.” Rubbing his hands together quickly, he was pleased to see that the flakes turned into a lovely lather with a few drops of water and a little effort. Not wanting to waste the king’s time, he quickly scrubbed up and allowed the shower to wash away all the dirt and sweat that his simple bucket baths never quite seemed to. When he was finished, he blinked up at Thorin, squinting his eyes against the falling water.

“Ready?” the dwarf asked seriously.

“Ready,” said Bilbo.

Thorin released the chain and the two friends sprinted from the shower over to the edge of the pool. The air truly was not that cold, but the act of running together was a joyful one. Bilbo whooped with laughter as he splashed into the shallow water at Thorin’s side. The king grinned at him, a heart stoppingly wide smile, and Bilbo was suddenly very pleased with himself for overcoming his shyness. The fact that he was a hobbit was no secret, and Thorin had never seemed to mind looking at him, even if he wasn’t anything like handsome by dwarven standards.

“This is quite pleasant,” the hobbit admitted, wading in the water and stopping when it reached his chest. “Just as warm as that lovely shower was.”

“Good,” Thorin said. Water that reached Bilbo’s chest was slung low around his hips, and the hobbit tried not to stare at that striking expanse of muscles and scars.

“There is rather a lot of it,” Bilbo said, looking around the expansive pool. “And Bofur said it was quite deep in places.”

“And you are not a swimmer,” Thorin remembered. “Come.”

Taking Bilbo by the hand, he led the hobbit to the stairs. Walking up the steps was as good as admitting they needn’t have run earlier, but Bilbo quite enjoyed the feel of Thorin’s hand in his. He was not going to hurry along and end the experience early. The pool Thorin had in mind was only raised a few feet above the main bath, so it was not a long walk by any measure. Thorin bounced down into the water and Bilbo sat on the edge, easing himself in.

It was perfect. The water came up to Bilbo’s armpits, and there were benches of stone around the inside edge of the small pool to sit. Since it was not deep, the hobbit did not use these. Instead, closing his eyes, he leaned back to float easily in the hot water. It was an ideal temperature, not scalding, but just as hot as a bath the moment Bilbo had one ready in Bag End. Even better: unlike a bath in Bag End, it didn’t cool down at all as Bilbo drifted. After a little while, the hobbit opened his eyes to look up at the vaulted ceiling, decorated as it was with beautiful geometric shapes. Some time after that, he tilted his chin sideways to look at Thorin.

The dwarf’s face was a portrait of fondness. Thorin did not look even slightly embarrassed to be caught looking at Bilbo with soft eyes and a small smile at the corner of his mouth. Rising up, Bilbo’s feet found the bottom of the pool and he made his way over to the built in seat next to the king. The water came to Thorin’s chest, which meant it was right at Bilbo’s chin when he sat.

“This is a pool for children, isn’t it?” the hobbit asked, a small smile playing about his lips.

“It is a pool for members of the royal family who may be too small to enjoy the other baths,” Thorin agreed, his own smile growing a little. “I hope you take no offense.”

“Of course not,” Bilbo said. “I don’t mind in the slightest. This is absolutely lovely, all of it. My back has been aching for days and I can already feel the hot water just leeching the pain away.”

“Allow me.” Between the weightlessness of floating in water and Thorin’s dwarven strength, Bilbo was barely aware of being lifted before Thorin slipped in behind him on the bench, broad hands sliding over the hobbit’s shoulders.

Feeling himself go entirely red, Bilbo tried to inquire as to the nature of Thorin’s intentions when the king found a particularly tense knot of muscle and simply massaged it away. Bilbo’s objection turned into a soft groan. He leaned back into Thorin’s hands. “Oh thank you,” he said. “That’s lovely.”

Thorin gave a soft little hum of agreement and continued his work until Bilbo felt like clay beneath the hands of a skilled potter, ready to be shaped into whatever form the king desired. It was innocent. Friendly, even, and Bilbo did his best not to whimper when Thorin’s hands found the place on his lower back just to the left of his spine that happened to be particularly sensitive.

“There is oil.” Thorin’s voice sounded a bit hoarse, cracking slightly. Perhaps he was tired. It was very late at night after all, and Bilbo was keeping him awake to give backrubs of all ridiculous things.

“I’m sorry?”

“Oil, and perfumes, for after a bath. Just over there.” Following Thorin’s outstretched arm, Bilbo saw that there was indeed an elegant marble table with various bottles, combs, and other things laid out for use quite near to the pools. “I could. If it would please you.”

“Oh.” It was a very broad hint, and Bilbo was no socially ignorant Biffin. “Yes of course.” Indeed, it probably was time for them to finish bathing and go to bed, but it had been a very pleasant night. Perhaps Thorin might want to repeat the experience sometime. Bilbo would certainly be amenable to the prospect.

The moment the hobbit said the word yes, he felt the brush of a beard against his ear and a rush of water behind him as the bulk of a large dwarf suddenly left the pool. Turning to look, Bilbo saw Thorin leap from the wall of their little pool, landing in the broader pool below. With short, sharp strokes, the dwarf swam to where he could stand, sprinted out of the pool, seized a glass bottle from the table, and raced back to the stairs. All told, it was less than a minute from the time Thorin made the suggestion until he was back in the water with Bilbo, holding the bottle. Barely enough time for the hobbit to take note of the truly impressive erection the king was sporting.

Bilbo stared at Thorin.

The king smiled hopefully. “You have not changed your mind?”

“Definitely not,” Bilbo said firmly, not even a little bit sure when matters had turned from two friends bathing to something else entirely. Fortunately, the hobbit was absolutely positive that he was happy with the change. Putting a hand on the back of the dwarf’s neck, Bilbo pulled himself up and pressed their lips together in a light, fleeting kiss. Then he eased back, waiting for a reaction.

He did not have to wait long. Less than a second passed before Thorin’s mouth covered his completely and strong dwarven arms pulled him close. Bilbo’s lips parted without thought and Thorin’s tongue slipped past them immediately. Suddenly all pretense of innocence was gone. They were naked, pressed together, and Bilbo moaned to feel a throbbing dwarven cock twitching against his belly.

Thorin pulled back to kiss Bilbo’s cheek, his ear, his neck, one big hand twisting in the hobbit’s wet curls while the other still clutched the bottle of oil, pressing it into Bilbo’s back as he held tight.

Grinning up at the dwarf, Bilbo did his best to sound cocksure and more experienced than he was. “Planning to put that to use?”

Thorin’s answering smile was slow and filthy. Instantly, the hobbit found himself pulled forward as the king sat in the water. His mouth was captured in a kiss, and he heard the gentle clink of the glass bottle being opened. Eager hands encouraged Bilbo to kneel up as they kissed, and he was rewarded at once for doing so by strong, massaging hands focusing on his rump.

The hot water swirling around his cock as he pressed back into Thorin’s hands was lovely, but Bilbo would not have minded a hand there as well. Beyond that, he should certainly have liked to get a hand about Thorin as well. To feel that massive dwarven cock, thick and throbbing in his fist would have been a real pleasure. That was not to be, though. Bilbo needed his hands where they were, bracing him against Thorin’s shoulders. He needed to brace himself because of what Thorin’s hands were doing: twisting, teasing, tickling, and above all pressing into him. Bilbo would not have traded the sensation of Thorin’s thick fingers inside of him as the water lapped around them both for all the world.

Yet trade it he did when Thorin kissed just below his ear, beard dragging against the damp, sensitive skin of the hobbit’s neck. “May I?” The king’s voice as a low, hungry growl.

“Yes, yes, please, anything,” Bilbo babbled.

So he quickly found his feet upon the bench, and his upper body bent over the wall mostly out of the water, though the rosy tip of his cock dipped back into the heat of the pool as Thorin practically poured the rest of the bottle of oil over them both in his haste to continue.

And then the king pressed slowly into his body.

Bilbo cried out.

Thorin froze immediately. “I have hurt you.”

Blindly craning his neck, Bilbo sought a kiss which the king readily granted. “Continue,” he panted. “Please.”

Thorin’s hands were firm and steady on Bilbo’s hips, but he did not move. “Oin said I might simply be too large for this, even with plenty of oil and care.”

Since the dwarf had saved these doubts until Bilbo was more aroused than he had ever been in his life, the hobbit had very little patience for them. “Ridiculous!” he cried. “You know I am not some stupidly stoic dwarf. If I were in pain I would tell you to stop, you foolish fellow. Carry on and do not tease me by hesitating so!” Then Bilbo squinted over his shoulder at Thorin. “Er. Unless you are uncomfortable? It cannot be that you are too large, but perhaps I am too little to suit you?”

In answer, Thorin rocked forward just a little. Bilbo whimpered in surprise. Gaining confidence, the king slowly began to work back and forth, driving ever deeper as Bilbo keened beneath him. Then Thorin found his target and Bilbo wailed. Which each forceful thrust from the king, Bilbo’s own cock dipped fully into the hot water. As Thorin withdrew, so did the hobbit, trying to keep Thorin wholly within him, pressed against the center of his pleasure, for as long as he could. The dual sensations of Thorin fucking into him and the water lapping at his dick were entirely overwhelming. Moaning, thrusting, cursing, and panting, the hobbit took everything he was given and begged for more, but he did not have dwarven stamina. For the very first time in his life, he came without so much as a single touch to his own cock. Crying out in ecstasy, Bilbo spilled into the pool. Thorin did not even pause. When Bilbo’s knees buckled, he found the whole of his weight supported by Thorin’s hands on his hips as the dwarf continued to work the hobbit back and forth on his dick. Finally, the king pulled Bilbo up, hugging the hobbit close and burying himself fully, coming completely apart.

Releasing Bilbo, the king dropped backward into the water with a great splash. Bumping down gently onto the bench beneath the surface of the water, the little hobbit floated in the hot water for a few minutes trying to get his bearings.

“So,” he said at last, “this is what you dwarves get up to in your public baths. I suspected as much.”

Thorin blinked one eye open from where he was drifting in the shallow pool and laughed. “You forget, Master Baggins. This is my private bath.”

Master Baggins, Thorin called him. Well. That answered quite a few questions right there. “Of course, Your Majesty. I am honored to join you.”

Both of Thorin’s eyes opened wide and he sat up immediately, water pouring down his hair and chest in perfect parallel to the water spilling down the sides of the higher pools in the bathing room. The hobbit watched the wonderful pools, and kept his eyes off the dwarf.

“You doubt me.” Thorin’s voice was gruff and unhappy. “Yet I value your advice more highly than any other’s. If I failed to please you, will you offer me no instruction?”

Closing his eyes, Bilbo sank back into the water so that his ears were beneath the surface, but he did answer. “Sorry. I just. Is this likely to happen every time I take a bath? If Bofur and I come here alone tomorrow night, will he do as you did?”

“I will kill him!”

Bilbo’s eyes shot open in surprise and he saw Thorin slowly releasing a clenched fist.

“No.” Thorin turned his face away from Bilbo, looking down toward their clothes mingled on the benches at the poolside. “No, I will not kill him. If I have failed to win you, then I have failed and you may entertain what suitors you will.” Thorin looked devastated, and Bilbo was more confused than ever.

“I don’t understand.” Standing up, Bilbo reached for Thorin’s hand.

At the touch, Thorin’s head snapped up, his eyes full of hope and determination. “Then I shall convince you.” At once, the king’s mouth was on Bilbo’s kissing him with hungry urgency. Strong arms pulled him close and those clever fingers pressed into the place on his lower back that made the hobbit whimper. As Bilbo’s mouth fell back to moan, Thorin’s bearded kisses trailed along his jaw to just that place below his ear. Clearly the dwarf had been paying close attention earlier. Bilbo gasped.

Then, desperately mastering himself, Bilbo managed to push with both hands against Thorin’s broad chest, squirming out of the dwarf’s grasp. “No,” he said firmly. “Explain with words. Do you, er, do you have feelings for me?”

Thorin blinked. “Feelings?”

Blushing crimson, Bilbo looked away. “I mean, you know, is this just a spot of fun, larking about in the bath as dwarves do? Will you want to do it again sometime? Do you do this with a lot of other people? Would you be upset if I kissed you where someone might see? That sort of thing.”

“No. Yes. Never. Absolutely not,” Thorin said.

Frowning, Bilbo crossed his arms over his chest. “Use more words than that.”

Thorin smiled. “Very well. I love you.”

Feeling very faint, Bilbo decided to sit down. Only he missed the bench entirely and sank to the pool bottom, dunking his head completely under the water. Thorin caught his arm and pulled him up, so Bilbo spluttered and shook his dripping hair even as the king held him close.

“I love you,” the dwarf repeated. “And I blame Dwalin for this.”

“You blame Dwalin for the fact that you love me?”

Thorin’s smile was rueful, but there was yet hope in his eyes. “Recently Dwalin has reminded me of the many offers he and I have recieved after bathing. Among dwarves we are both generally considered an attractive type, he more so than I, of course.”

Unhappily, Bilbo tried to pull away, but the king did not release him. “Naturally. That is not to say. But you are both quite handsome. I am sure the two of you do very well for yourselves.”

“I do not act upon such offers, Bilbo. I am a king. I cannot simply please myself where I will, as Dwalin might. I apologize if my actions have led you to believe otherwise. I’m afraid that I was so overcome by the sight of you unclothed that I neglected to wait for you to speak.”

“Okay.” Suddenly Bilbo found it much easier to breathe. Overcome sounded good. It sounded very promising indeed. “So you don’t just do this with anyone. That’s good to know.”

Thorin ran his fingers through the hobbit’s wet hair. “No. Dwalin suggested that the difference between our friendship and a marriage was my failure to.” The king coughed politely. “Join with you physically in a manner sufficient to please you. He mentioned that this might change if you had the chance to see me bathing.”

Bilbo blinked. “So earlier, when you were combing your hair and everything, that was you showing off?”

Thorin blushed. “Aye.”

Bilbo blinked again. “A marriage? That’s something you, that’s what you’re angling for here?”

“Aye.”

“Oh. Well. That’s good.” Leaping up out of the water, Bilbo kissed Thorin with all of the love, hope, and promise in his little hobbit heart. If Thorin wanted him, then he had no use at all for shyness.