There’s that lovely sound again. A warm, gentle hum of strings plucked by skilled fingers. Slowly, Bilbo opens one of his living room windows, sighing as they creak no matter what, and thinking the musician upstairs must be annoyed at him, always opening a window to listen, if he can hear the creaking that is.
Dragging his comfortable armchair closer to the window, Bilbo smiles to himself as he sits down into it. A cold breeze sends a shiver down his back, the sound of the harp fading as the bare branches of the maple and birch, and the needles of the pines outside rustle in the wind.
Throwing a tartan blanket around his shoulders, Bilbo pulls his legs close, up into the chair. He had thankfully just made a cup of tea before sitting down, and takes a sip of the earl grey, and a bite of the honey cake he made yesterday, just as someone begins playing the piano. Then there’s the sound of a violin, and Bilbo thinks he can hear the cello as well.
It’s slow and lovely, and it takes Bilbo a moment to hear it’s “O Holy Night.” Oh, how wonderful it’d be to be in the same room as the ones playing, to hear the music clearer, see their fingers move over such wonderful instruments. But maybe most of all, finally knowing whom it is who’s playing.
After coming home from his parents after a weekend away a month ago, his neighbours had told him someone had moved into the top flat. He's used to hearing music from across the hall, his neighbour Dís and her sons often playing the harp, cello, and piano, and most certainly don’t mind the playing from their new neighbour. Maybe it's a friend or relative of Dís.
When the song ends, it’s to cheer and applause, the noise taking Bilbo by surprise. But not everyone spends their evenings alone, he reminds himself.
The room has grown cold and dark, and Bilbo let the creaking window shut out the sound of happy chatter. He sighs as he pulls the blanket closer around himself and looks around the room. There are books on both the coffee table and floor, notes for his own book taking up half the space on the table, assignments from his Friday history class half the dining table, all finally looked through and ready to be handed back tomorrow, Frodo’s homework the other half.
He knows he should’ve tidied the place, but settles with his kitchen finally having been tidied earlier that evening, and let the chair stay by the window, the blanket thrown halfway onto the floor as he gets out of it and walks into his bathroom to brush his teeth.
Outside, the sky is cloudy and grey, the snow falling thick and fast, and one of the perks of living in a flat instead of his own house, is that it’s already shovelled outside, the path down to the main road clear of snow and covered with gravel.
Downing the last of his lukewarm breakfast tea, Bilbo puts on his burgundy coat and makes sure to put up the hood before heading out. He loves his couple of days a week at the university in town, but if he were to be honest with himself, he’d rather spend this cold Friday at home.
Exiting the elevator, Bilbo is met with a gust of cold wind as the front doors open and closes, and he shudders just as the reason for it stops in front of him.
“Hello, Bilbo,” Thorin smiles.
Bilbo can feel his heart start beating faster immediately, the familiar warmth filling his chest, and he silently curses himself.
“Oh, uhm, hello Thorin!” Bilbo says, feeling his cheeks going warm. “Are you here to visit your sister?”
Thorin frowns at first, then smiles. “I, ah...”
“Oh!” Bilbo interrupts him. “Were you here yesterday? Did you hear the wonderful music? I don’t know who it is who’s playing, but I’m always tempted to go upstairs, if only to applaud them when they’re finished.”
“I heard you’re nephews have started playing the violin?”
“Yeah, Kili got tired of waiting for the piano to be available,” he chuckles, Bilbo grinning at the sound.
“You should go upstairs one day,” Thorin says, and Bilbo’s smile fades.
“Oh no, no no, I won’t be doing such,” he says. “Terribly sorry, but I’ll have to run, students to teach you know!” he winks and pats the satchel at his hip.
“I think they’d appreciate it,” Thorin chuckles after him. “Have a good day, Bilbo!”
“You too!” Bilbo says as he walks out into the cold.
As soon as he walks up the path, the dark air around him filled with snow, Bilbo can hear the music coming from the building. There must be a window slightly open, he thinks as a part is played perfectly on a violin, soon followed by the same part in a more shrieking tone, and a loud “Kili!” and children’s laughter, making Bilbo chuckle as he walks through the doors, and into the elevator.
It’s quiet when he walks into his flat, stumbling over Frodo’s backpack with a growl, the teen chuckling an apology as he walks past him and into the living room, and Bilbo unlaces and toes off his boots, takes off his coat, not thinking more of the music as he follows him.
The box of Christmas decorations is still standing open in the middle of his living room, the lights, and garlands peeking out of the mess. He should’ve put up more than just the big star in one of his living room windows and the Christmas tree, but it’s been hectic with work and book writing, and usually spending their Christmas at his parents, Bilbo can never really be bothered to decorate much.
“Alright,” he sighs, thinking he can decorate some more before dinner. But just as he’s about to put on some Christmas music to get in the mood, someone above him begins to play the piano.
He stares at the box for a few seconds, then up at the roof, and back to the box.
“Do it,” Frodo says, smiling back at him from where he’s landed on the sofa. "I'll decorate more later."
"You sure?" Bilbo asks softly.
"Go, Uncle!" Frodo grins.
Pulling at his knitted jumper, and biting his lower lip, Bilbo turns on his heel, letting out a loud breath as he quickly opens and closes his green door, not hearing Frodo’s soft “finally.”
“Good gracious, what am I doing,” he mumbles to himself as reaches the top of the stairs and the door to the top floor flat.
It’s suddenly yanked opened, and Bilbo’s hands go cold and clammy, his heart feeling as if it’s missing a beat.
“Hey, Bilbo!” Fili and Kili say as they walk through, violin cases in hand, and their voices makes Bilbo’s shoulders slump, and he smiles, relieved it’s only them.
“Hello, boys,” he says. “What are you two doing up here, I thought you practised at home?”
“We do sometimes,” Fili says.
“But now we can go upstairs to Uncle!” Kili smiles as he follows his older brother.
“Bye, Bilbo!” the 13 and 15-year-old say in unison, Fili giving Bilbo a wink as he walks past him.
“Uncle... Why would he be here...” Bilbo mumbles confused as he reaches for the half-open door, his eyes still on the boys as they walk down the stairs, until the piano goes quiet.
“I, I’m so sorry,” Bilbo says as he turns to look inside, “it was ope-,”
“Evening, Bilbo,” Thorin grins from where he’s sat in front of a piano between two large living room windows.
“What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” Thorin chuckles. “Please, come in.”
Bilbo frowns, shakes his head, and opens his mouth to say something, anything, but only a small hmm comes out, and so he does as told, and closes the wooden door behind him as he walks into the flat.
“I was just about to make some mulled wine,” Thorin smiles as he stands up. “Dwalin left half a bottle of red here yesterday.” Bilbo follows him with his eyes, going from looking surprised and confused at his face, to smirking as he gets a view of his behind in tight jeans as Thorin walks past and into his kitchen.
“Would you like some?”
Bilbo’s cheeks heat up once more at the question and clinks of mugs, and he nods when Thorin looks back at him. “Ah, yes, yes please, I’d love some!”
The silence between them as Thorin makes the mulled wine is comfortable, and not at all as awkward Bilbo thought it would be if he ever was to be alone with him.
They’ve known each other for quite some time now, around two and half years to be exact, not that Bilbo’s counting. His sister Dís moved in five years ago with her husband and two sons, Dís inviting Bilbo over for dinner at least three times a month since her first weekend in the building, sometimes both cooking together. And when Frodo moved in with him a year ago, he got closer to the Durins as Frodo’s friendship with Fili and Kili grew.
Dís often told him stories of her two brothers, and of how the youngest was a restless soul often found travelling around, the older working for their father and grandfather’s business, Dís constantly worrying about him taking on too much, spending most of his life always working too hard, not living it.
When she had introduced him to him, a tall, broad man with long dark locks and blue eyes like her, and the perfect amount of beard to make Bilbo’s knees go even weaker, he had gone red and stammered out a greeting. His heart had felt as if it was trying to beat out of his chest when Thorin smiled and shook his hand.
“Oh, those hands...” Bilbo thinks, looking over at Thorin and his big, strong, yet slender and graceful, hands as he pours the mulled wine into two mugs.
He’s seen them gently pluck the strings of a harp, made a violin play the loveliest tunes, and now apparently heard them play the piano as well. And if Bilbo’s cheeks are burning by the time Thorin stops in front of him and hands him the mug, his mind filled with thoughts on what else he wouldn’t mind have those hands do, he certainly will never tell Thorin of it.
The drink is warm and spicy, Bilbo humming as he takes another sip. “Thank you,” he mumbles into his mug. “I haven’t had mulled wine in years, feels like I stuffed Christmas into my mouth.”
Starting to laugh just as he’s taking a sip, the burgundy liquid drips down Thorin’s chin. Swallowing and wiping away the wine with a finger, Thorin lets the deep sound of his laughter fill the room, making Bilbo all warm inside, and finding it impossible not to grin into his mug as he mumbles an apology.
“Oh, Bilbo,” Thorin chuckles softly as his thumb strokes Bilbo's cheek, his eyes going wide at the touch. The hand cups his cheek and Bilbo let out a soft sigh, closing his eyes and letting himself enjoy the warmth and comfort.
He can hear Thorin shuffle closer, and opens his eyes a little just in time to see Thorin smiling before coming even closer. His fingers disappear into the mass of curls at the back of Bilbo's head, and Bilbo smiles as Thorin’s lips meet his. They’re soft, warm, and spicy, and Bilbo can’t help but dart his tongue out to lick his lips, only happy to touch Thorin’s too even if not initially meaning to.
Thorin hums, and pulls Bilbo close as he kisses him again, Bilbo throwing an arm around his neck.
And that’s when he spots it. The mistletoe hanging right above them, one of the Christmas decorations he’s always tried to spot and avoid, terrified of having to kiss one of his relatives or their friends, even if it’s just a peck on the cheek. Now, on the other hand, he couldn’t have been happier to be standing under one, and eagerly kisses Thorin back.
“Remind me to thank Dís for putting that up, as I am sure she’s the one who’s done most of the decorating,” Bilbo chuckles.
“Oh that one,” Thorin chuckles as he looks up, “that’s Fili’s doing.”
“Well then, I’ll make sure he gets something nice for Christmas.”
“Well well, what do we have here,” Frodo grins as Bilbo and Thorin enters Dís’ flat hand in hand the next morning, both having groaned and snuggled closer after being woken up by her breakfast invitation via text at 8 that morning, agreeing it not being an acceptable time to get up on a Saturday.
“Told you the mistletoe was a good idea, didn’t I, Uncle?” Fili grins from his seat by the dining room table.
“Thanks, kiddo,” Bilbo winks, the hold on his hand tightening, Thorin grinning as he shakes his head.