If I should stay I would only be in your way, we both know I'm not what you need. So I'll go but I know I'll think of you every step of the way. I hope life treats you kind and I hope you have all you've dreamed of. I wish you joy and happiness. But above all this I wish you love. I know it’s hard for you to see now but I’m doing this out of all the love I hold in my heart for you. I can only hope that someday you’ll come to see that and be able to forgive me. Darling, I love you and I always will.
Thorin read over the little note for the millionth time. By the time anyone had noticed Belle’s absence she was long gone with the aid of that traitorous wizard. The note she left for the rest of the company was little better. It was actually quite a bit worse but Thorin was in no mood to care for such things. ‘Tea is at four, no need to knock’ really?
To say that feelings were hurt would be an understatement. Thankfully, Nori had been able to read between the lines of her message and see that she’d been heavily influenced by the dwarves arriving daily from the Iron Hills and the Blue Mountains alike.
“They all want to see you wed sire. To a proper dwarrowdam and see your line continue. There is no doubt she was aware of the negative implications for you if she became your wife. Especially since you no longer hold the kings jewel.” He reported flatly, clearly trying to hide his upset over their burglars disappearance from under his very nose.
Of course he didn’t still have the Arkenstone. He had given it back to the mountain, unwilling to risk anymore lives for the greed it awoke in his line. The terror in her eyes when he’d nearly thrown her over the wall haunted his dreams.
He had nearly killed his One over a stone.
A stone that his people valued over the strength of his line. And now they had driven her away. No wonder so many council members had been so keen to throw banquets and balls filled to the brim with high born dwarrowdams. He had thought they were trying to ensnare his nephews. Apparently he had been in the net as well.
“Is that why she wouldn’t marry you?” Bofur asked softly.
And yes, Thorin supposed he finally had his answer. He had always thought she was holding back because she feared the return of his gold sickness and didn’t want to bind herself to him fully. But perhaps that hadn’t been it at all.
“What are we going to do?” Fili asked, stunned by this turn of events.
Belle had been with them for three years now. Had even sent a will by raven to turn her home and property over to a cousin and received a gushing, grateful response. They had thought to keep her for the rest of her short life. Nearly eighty years by her reckoning. To only have had three was unthinkable.
“We’re going after her of course!” Kili announced like his brother was mad to think otherwise. “We’ll convince her to come home and marry Uncle! That’ll shut the others up once and for all!”
“No, we’ll let her go.” Thorin said quietly, mind stuck on one morning a few months after the Battle of the Five Armies.
They had been curled around each other in bed talking about nothing important when three messengers arrived for him, each needing his urgent attention.
Belle had sent them all away to find Fili and Balin and come back to him with a soft smile. “After all you’ve done for them they’re still not grateful. You deserve a lie in.”
“I can’t-”he began, rising from the bed.
She pushed him back down gently. “You can and you should. Be selfish for a little while. You’re not just King Under the Mountain. You’re Thorin too.”
The shocked, vocal response of the assembled company jarred him from his memories. “She’s right. This will never be her home, not even after all she’s done for us. The other dwarrow will never accept her; I can’t make a decree over their feelings. I won’t ask her to stay where she’ll be unhappy for the rest of her days.” Because he knew she would stay for him and that wasn’t the kind of selfish he wanted to be.
“But Uncle, she’s your one! You can’t just let her go,” Kili turned to him with betrayed eyes.
“I’m not letting her go. I’m going after her.” He said simply. If he was lucky he had a good century left give or take and he was going to spend it doing exactly as he liked.
“I thought you said?”
“That’s what I just said!”
“When do we leave?” the company chattered over one another in their usual uproar.
He shook his head. “I’m going after her and staying with her if she’ll have me.” He rather thought she would. She could finally have her dream wedding under that massive tree she was always on about. He smiled at the thought.
To think that was all it took to shock them all into silence.
“But, we just reclaimed the mountain!” Dwalin yelled, as though Thorin hadn't been there.
“You can’t leave, you’re the king!" Balin joined in, as if Thorin didn't know that.
“What?!” yelped Oin as Gloin explained to him in rapid Inglishmek.
“You’re both mad!!” Bombur shook his head in wonder.
Thorin sighed, of course it couldn’t last.
In spite of all the protests made to that effect, Thorin would not be swayed. He spent the next year planning his abdication. Fili would make a fine king, especially under the careful guidance of his mother and Balin as well as the actually helpful council Thorin had painstakingly helped him select.
A council that was happy to have him, especially since he actually seemed inclined to marry a dwarrowdam and carry on the family line.
Fili actually seemed somewhat eager for the challenge. Thorin couldn’t have been more proud had he been his born son. He said as much, and promised to write and send return ravens with messages as often as he could. The lad was a fine dwarf and would be a better ruler than any of them could imagine, Thorin was sure of it.
With his life’s work complete, Thorin was finally ready to live for himself.
As he made his final preparations to head west, Kili had come to him in all seriousness. “They’ve been worse to Tauriel than she let on. She’s having a hard time without Belle here for company. Especially so close to her former home. How could I not have known how bad it was?” he asked, despondent.
Thorin shrugged, he asked himself that same question every day. The fact that the love of his life had been convinced her presence was the worst thing for him would haunt him for the rest of his days.
“What will you do?” he asked, knowing that his nephew wouldn’t have approached him without a plan.
Kili squared his shoulders and looked his uncle in the eyes. “I would rule Ered Luin since mother has journeyed here and left a steward in her stead. We always got on well with the elves there, better than anywhere else. I think it would do us well to have a change of scenery,” he said solemnly.
Thorin chuckled at the idea, which he regretted not thinking of himself. The boy was clever, he’d give him that. “To think, I’d worried about you growing up too close to elves.”
“I’d say it all worked out in the end,” Kili laughed. “Besides, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on you. Who knows what trouble you and Belle would get up to on your own?”
He couldn’t argue with that, besides, it would do them both some good to have family nearby. “I’ll be happy to have your company on the road. You’ll have my support for however long you’ll need it,” he promised gladly.
“Alright. We’ll send a raven to the steward and be on our way by the end of the week,” Kili said, clearly relieved to have his uncles’ support. “Have you thought of writing Belle? It might not do us any good to just show up on her doorstep.”
Thorin had thought about it, but the words wouldn’t come whenever he tried to write them down. “No. This is a message best given in person.” He hoped he was making the right decision but there was nothing for it, he had to see Belle at least one more time no matter the outcome.
Belle was on her knees in the garden, Frodo napping in a basket in the shade when someone started pounding on the front door. He fussed in his sleep but thankfully didn’t wake. She wrinkled her nose in irritation and quickly wiped her hands before rising to her feet.
Oh how she wished Prim were here to nurse Frodo. How she wished it was Drogo at the door, having forgotten his key again. How she missed Thorin in these days of loneliness and grief. Of course if Belle hadn’t come back, Frodo would have been on the river with his parents that horrible day and that didn’t bear thinking about.
Another knock sounded, “Coming, coming hold your horses,” she griped irritably, rounding the house to see the last person she’d expected.
“Thorin,” she stopped in her tracks, mouth open in shock as though he'd just stepped out of her dreams.
“Belle,” he gave a small, uncertain smile as he walked towards her.
“I said you didn’t have to knock,” she said shakily for lack of anything better to say.
“I didn’t want to presume.”
Belle blinked tears out of her bottle green eyes, “I thought I’d never see you again. You didn’t reply to my letter,” she whispered when he was an arm’s length away.
“There are no words to express how sorry I am for how you were treated by my people. For not noticing how unhappy you were. For…everything. I’m sorry Belle. I’d have set out after you right away but there was the matter of my succession-”
She paled at his words, “Fili and Kili? Are they alright?” she cut in sharply.
Thorin smiled at her worry, “They’re fine. Kili and Tauriel are boarding the ponies at the inn right now. Fili was crowned king just before we left Erebor.”
Belle was taken aback, “You…stepped down?”
“But that’s not what I wanted for you! This is exactly why I left!” she protested angrily, feeling robbed of her grand gesture. As though the ache of missing him for years had been for naught.
“You leaving made me realize that this is what I wanted for myself,” he interjected firmly. “I’ve done my duty to my people and won back our home. Now I want to be just Thorin.” He saw her stance soften as she remembered their conversation from so long ago.
“So…you’re staying?” she asked hopefully.
“If you’ll have me?”
“Oh Thorin, there hasn’t been a day I haven’t missed you. I’ve so often wished we could have figured out a way to stay together,” she stepped into his arms and pressed her face into his chest.
It felt like coming home.
“Me too, love,” he murmured into her riot of chestnut curls.
“In a way, you did!” they jumped apart at Kili’s cheerful words.
“Kili!” Belle cried, rushing to pull him into a tight hug. “It’s wonderful to see you!”
“You too, Aunt Belle!” He swept her off her feet and spun her around before setting her down again.
She blushed at the term of endearment the boys had taken to calling her in spite of the fact that she and Thorin had never married. Not wanting to unsettle the volatile political alliances in the mountain.
She swatted his arm playfully and laughingly hurried over to embrace Tauriel who she had grown quite close to during her time in Erebor. They had bonded as the only non dwarves living in the city and their shared love of animals and nature. She had missed her dearly since returning to the Shire and was ecstatic to hear that she’d be living just a three week ride away in the Blue Mountains.
That said, there was still much to be discussed about this fortuitous turn of events.
“Before we get settled there’s someone you all need to meet,” Belle stopped Thorin and Kili as they made to move their packs into the smial.
A quick trip to the garden had them gaping at the babe sleeping in his basket. At that moment as though he could feel their gaze on him, he fluttered his wide blue eyes open and began to wail as he so often did.
Belle rushed forward to pull him into her arms where he settled quickly into quiet fretting before self soothing by sucking on the lace at her collar. “There, there little one. I’m here,” she said softly.
Thorin stepped forward slowly to take a closer look at the tiny boy, a deep frown lining his handsome face, “your cousin?”
Belle blinked back tears and cleared her throat. The months since their deaths hadn’t blunted the pain of losing Drogo and Primula. “Gone,” she whispered shakily. “This is his son. Frodo. My son now, at least legally.” She babbled nervously. “He’s two.”
Thorin held out his massive hands questioningly, “May I?”
She handed Frodo over wordlessly, smiling at the sight of his twining his tiny fingers in Thorin’s short beard and screeching like a little bird when the dwarf pulled him away from his new toy. “None of that, now.” Thorin said mock sternly, momentarily quieting the boy with the depth of his voice alone.
Belle’s heart melted at the sight.
“A little cousin!” Kili exclaimed as the shock wore off, happy as ever to hear the news.
“He’s darling, Belle.” Tauriel said, giving Kili a warm look as she grasped his hand in hers. “May I hold him?”
“Of course,” she said, watching as Thorin carefully handed over the precious boy who stared up at Tauriel in quiet wonder.
“Belle,” Thorin gently pulled her aside as the other couple fussed over the befuddled babe. “Darling, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how much you loved your cousin. I see they accepted you back into Bag End when you returned.”
“Yes, they did. I’m just glad I was here when- the accident happened. Else Frodo might have been with them when they…” she faded out, too close to tears to continue.
"We'll take the baby out of the sun," Tauriel said, sensing that they needed a moment alone.
Belle nodded her thanks as the three headed back into the smial, Frodo babbling all the way.
Thorin pulled her into his arms and held her close until she’d regained control of her emotions. “I’d be honored if you let me help you raise him. I don’t think I did such a bad job with Dis’ boys.” He teased gently after some time.
“You did a great job with them,” she was relieved, having been slightly worried that he wouldn’t be interested in the baby. “I’d love to raise Frodo with you.” It was, in fact her deepest dream come true.
"Then we'll have to set a good example and have a proper hobbit wedding under your party tree," he said with a warm smile.
She gaped at him, not having expected that in the slightest.
"I mean, we may have to wait, most of the Company will surely want to attend and I'm sure you'll need time to plan... that is, if you'll have me?" he concluded nervously.
"Thorin! Of course I'll have you!" she cried, still in shock from his sudden proposal.
"Good, because in your letter you wished me all I've dreamed of, joy, happiness, and love but my dear you were wrong. I can't have any of that without you by my side,"
"Oh, Thorin. I should never have left," she sniffled into her pocket handkerchief, "I thought I was doing what was right for both of us."
"Darling you were, if you hadn't left I couldn't have followed you and you'd still be unhappy under my mountain. We wouldn't be here in the shire with that tiny boy to raise. I don't regret your decision to leave. I only regret not noticing that you were being driven away."
Belle smiled so wide her cheeks hurt. "I love you."
“I know, and I will always love you,” he said against her lips just before claiming them in a perfect kiss.
And so, having had all their dreams come true, they lived happily ever after.