How to beat Gold Sickness
The metallic sound resonated in the cavernous room.
It continued, repeating on and on.
Torches rested against the wall, alongside with small niches filled with oil that had been lit, were lighting the room.
The shiny gold reflected the shimmery light, as did the odd jewel or crown. There, behind a dune of gold, semi-hidden from the light sat a dark figure.
The sound was continuous, the movement repetitive.
But it didn’t seem to be enough for the figure.
For there sat Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror – the King Under the Mountain, of a mountain that had just been reconquered.
Alas, with the joy of reacquiring their so longed for home, had also brought back the illness that so affected the dwarves – and more so, the line of Durin – the Gold Sickness.
So there sat Thorin, running his hands through the gold, grabbing a handful of coins and letting them fall, like water dripping from one’s hands.
His eyes took in, greedily, every little spark that caught in the coins, blue eyes glancing every now and then towards the darkness ahead on the massive area he was in.
His cloak lay in a heap by the entryway, his well-worn clothes and armour didn’t do enough to warm him from the chill, but he didn’t notice it.
The others – his Company – had offered to light a fire but he hadn’t allowed it. No. He not only hadn’t allowed it but he had also ordered them all from the treasury. They didn’t have the right to so much as glance towards his treasure.
Contracts and promises didn’t matter. Nothing from before getting there mattered.
Not when there was all this gold calling to him, he could almost hear a small melody, enticing him to have more, to own, to possess.
An odd feeling started spreading within him, coming from the tips of his fingers and engulfing his whole being in an almost trance-like state.
Nothing else mattered but the gold.
And the completely enticing way how it slipped from his fingers only to fall down and join the rest of the gold.
The clinking of the coins reached the two dwarves that stood by the entryway.
They either looked at the other or their gazes roamed the expanse of gold in front of them to stop on the dark figure of their uncle.
“He’s been like this for too long.” Kíli remarked in a low tone.
“What can we do? He doesn’t allow anyone in the treasury.” Fíli replied, frowning. “Even we are only barely tolerated there before he starts growling at us to leave.”
“You were like him for a bit,” the dark haired one muttered, a tight smile stretching the corners of his lips as he elbowed his brother. “Good thing I was around to snap you out of it.”
Fíli looked at him, affronted.
“You speak as if you hadn’t been affected. And that, my dear brother, is not true. I saw some drool…” he shot back while putting his brother in a headlock. “But it was a good moment to roughhouse.” He said with a fierce smile.
They mock struggled for a bit and nearly toppled to the floor but caught themselves and, just like that, the small playful moment was gone.
“What can we do?” Fíli asked once again in a hopeless tone.
“We must speak to him. Maybe we can bring him back to his senses…?” Kíli concluded in a fake optimistic tone. With a half nod to his brother so that his resolve got strengthened, he started walking towards his uncle, Fíli only a step or two behind.
When they reached Thorin they took in his disheveled appearance. The clothes and boots were caked with mud, his hands were dirty with soot and his hair and beard were in complete disarray – the hair that usually was tamed now resembled a bird’s nest.
They noticed, with some alarm, that the dagger that he usually had tucked on the back of his boot had been discarded near a pile of sapphires.
But what worried them the most was the air of complete entrancement he had for the shiny metal. It was as if nothing else mattered.
With a tiny shudder at seeing what fate might have befallen them, Kíli started the long – and so far ineffective – process of bringing their uncle back.
“Uncle Thorin,” he paused but as the archer noticed that Thorin wasn’t paying attention yet, he continued. “You must come with us.”
“It has been too long since you’ve eaten or just drank water.” Fíli piped in.
“And you also need to rest,” Kíli grit his teeth, the clinking sound was really grating on his nerves, “the gold will still be here-“
“No.” A rough voice all but growled. “I’m not going anywhere. I don’t need to go. I only need... this... here.”
“Uncle, please.” Fíli knelt in front of Thorin and tried to grasp his hands, to stop the motion. However this only earned him an enraged growl, a glare – scathing and so much more scary because of the glazed quality of the eyes – and a forceful shove. He fell on his rear and looked up at Kili.
“Thorin, the rest of the Company is out there.” Kíli stated. “They can help guarding the gold but we need you to-“
“No! No-one touches my gold. It is not to-“ Thorin ground out between clenched teeth. “Not for you to touch…” he said the last part absentmindedly and turned back to his coins.
The brothers looked at each other, desolate. Kíli motioning his brother to say something more, to continue speaking before their uncle was lost to them once more.
Fíli opened and closed his mouth a few times before blurting out the first thing that came to his mind – hoping that the relationship had advanced enough for it to be possible.
The words seemed to echo in the immense expanse of the room.
The king stood completely frozen. Kíli hurried to interject.
“Yes, yes. He mentioned it earlier. And he said it was yours, uncle. But he was also saying something else, I wasn’t exactly paying attention at the moment, about the courting and of it-“ the dark haired dwarf noticed his brother’s nearly frantic signals to stop his babble and rushed to repeat, “Yes, Bilbo’s child is yours.”
Thorin remained immobile, the coins falling from his now lax fingers and when there were no more. The clinking was followed by a heavy silence.
Thorin’s arms fell numbly against his sides.
He stared into the nothingness, unblinking, while the words Bilbo, pregnant and my child ran through his head.
Slowly he started to become aware of his surroundings, the staleness of the air, the chill that permeated just about everything, the hard and uncomfortable ground where he was sat.
Still, an oppressing fog remained at the corners of his mind, pressing down to be, once more, at the forefront of his thoughts.
The faint siren’s call still beckoned at him though…
“P-pregnant?” he rasped out. His query was met by the eager nodding of his nephews.
“How can-?” Thorin started, frowning, but his words dried out in his mouth as he was taken in by a memory.
As the expanse of smooth skin got unveiled a pair of rough hands and lips began to map it out, words were murmured and then small hands were also exploring his body, petting the coarse hair at odd places before curling on the hair on his nape, pulling and directing him to supple lips which parted eagerly.
Limbs moved, more words were uttered, endearing. He heard a giggle and felt himself chuckling in response.
There was something slick and then he was sliding into the hot, tight body.
He could hear himself uttering calming words, feeling the moist gasps against his cheek while nails broke the skin of his shoulders. His hand reached up and fingers ran over the small braid and the bead at the end.
His lips found the other's mouth and returned to its heated dance and, oh, he was moving.
Oh, the pleasure…
And the smaller being, safe in his arms.
He hadn’t felt this at peace in far too long.
Shaking his head to clear the wisps of memory, Thorin looked at his nephews once more. A small ache blossomed in his chest.
“Bilbo?” he blinked once again and let out a gasp, the sudden pain making him double over.
“Uncle!” his nephews yelled in unison and hurried to grasp him, helping him to a standing position and slowly – and a little bit fearfully – started taking him towards where the rest of the Company was.
They had Thorin curled on his coat and with two blankets tucked over him, a water skin was pressed against his hand and he took a few small sips, the voices of the Company a cacophony around him. But all he wanted to do was search for his burglar and ask him, ask him to make these questions go away.
“Bilbo… where is-?” he coughed and took another sip of water.
“Bilbo’s over there with Bofur and Ori.” Balin answered promptly, turning and calling out for the hobbit.
Thorin made to stand as Bilbo approached them but was firmly pushed down by his nephews with a few grumbles for him to ‘sit down, damnit’ and 'stubborn'. Bilbo stopped a few steps away from them and looked questioningly at Balin, his distance indicating his wariness towards the king.
Thorin noticed the absence of a braid in the honey-brown curls. He frowned but there were more important matters to attend to. Clearing his throat, Thorin finally asked.
“Are you pregnant? With my child?”
At those words an uproar broke at the same time that Bilbo’s eyes widened.
Around them voices spoke, each one louder than the other.
“Males can’t bear children!”
In the background Bifur’s gravelly contribution to the argument could be heard, though his words weren’t discernible above the ruckus.
“But he’s a hobbit. Maybe things are different to them…”
“It can’t be true.”
The dwarves argued among themselves, incredulity etched in their expressions.
Bilbo looked around and rolled his eyes before looking back to where the Durin family was assembled and he took a step closer.
He crossed his arms and looked at Kíli and Fíli – who else – for long moments. The minutes seemed to drag by which made the younger dwarves begin to shift their weight from foot to foot, nervously.
Finally, Bilbo opened his mouth.
“Yes, it is possible for male hobbits to bear children.”
The whole Company looked at Bilbo in surprise and a stunned silence fell over them, before exploding in a wave of noise.
Kíli looked at Fíli, his eyebrow movement inquiring but was only met by Fíli’s baffled expression, mouth still open in shock.
Thorin managed to untangle himself from the blankets and slowly, with his nephews’ help, stood in front of Bilbo. He made the question that seemed to be burning his mind.
“And, are you? Pregnant?”
Bilbo looked blandly at him, his blue eyes and face not betraying his thoughts.
“Wouldn’t you like to know that, oh king?”