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Keys to the Kingdom

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Bilbo went from being off on some Tookish adventure for almost a year to being holed up in his hobbit hole for almost a year. He would only allow in his aunt and namesake, Belba Bolger (Baggins), into his home, bringing food and stuffs, and when immediately questioned by the rest of Hobbiton as to Bilbo’s behavior, she said absolutely nothing.

Speculation ran wild as to what had come over Bilbo – some said that he thought he was too “adventured” to want to socialize with hobbits anymore, some said dragon sickness had come over him and he was hoarding his dwarven gold, some said he was working on a book, and some still said that Bilbo had not in fact returned from his adventure, and that the Baggins’s were trying to keep up appearances as if he was still here.

However, Bilbo was truly there. And in the eighth month since Bilbo’s return, one of his neighbors spotted him ever so briefly in the yard. In the soft moonlight, Bilbo was seen holding a youngling. Not just any youngling, a baby youngling. He rocked it softly as it slept, staring pensively as he looked up at the stars. After a short while, he returned back to the warm glow of his hobbit-hole.
And all of Hobbiton went absolutely mad.

Everyone knew that, due to a hobbit’s gentle and nurturing disposition, male hobbits could also bear children, but it certainly wasn’t something that was common, especially when that hobbit had no partner that the people of Hobbiton knew of - quite a scandal indeed. Once again, speculation ran wild, as to who sired Bilbo’s new youngling, who had still yet to be seen by most of the townfolk, as Bilbo remained scarce in his departures from Bag-End.

Until, about a year and a half after Bilbo’s return, Belba became ill and unavailable to run errands, Bilbo made an appearance in the market with his youngling in a sling against his chest. After a minute of murmurs and staring by the hobbits present, Bilbo paused in his shopping to make an announcement.

“Yes, hello everyone. It is true, I have a youngling now.” Bilbo said with a smile and a sigh.

“Her name is Brea Baggins, and her mother ” he emphasized “was from Bree-land. She was born during the 2nd summer moon, and was brought to me by her ailing mother at Bag-End shortly after her birth. Her mother is now passed, and I will hear no other questions on the matter. She is healthy and loved, and my only wish is for her to be treated as a welcome new addition to our lovely town,” Bilbo finished firmly, daring the crowd to give him any trouble on the matter.

“Her first birthday is fast approaching,” Bilbo changed his candor with a smile, “and I do hope that you would all join me for a small celebration. I apologize for my absence since my return, but I do hope that a good Baggins party would make up for it. Details will be sent in the invitations.” And Bilbo immediately returned to his shopping.

The hobbits of the market had mixed reactions, but they all knew better than to turn down a party invitation. Not a single one of them believed Bilbo’s story, as no one had seen or heard of this mysterious mother-from-Bree-land before, but the youngling was of larger than usual size. Bilbo and his Took relatives had always been a funny bunch though, and Bilbo’s demeanor during his announcement left no question that he would remain steadfast on his story. He was very clever, that Bilbo, for he knew that he could not stop the churn of the rumor mill, however, the promise of a good party always seemed to smooth things over in the Hobbiton community.

After a pause, most of the hobbits went back to their shopping, the murmurs still lingered, but most folk that Bilbo interacted with simply said hello and gave the babe a warm smile. Speculation still ran wild, but it slowly turned into speculation on which meads and pies would be selected for the party buffet.

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Bilbo knew that they wouldn’t believe his story, but it didn’t really matter what they believed, as long as it wasn’t the truth. It was true that Brea had no other living parent, Thorin lost his soul to the Arkenstone and then lost his life to the battle. Before that time, a baby for them would have been incredible, thrilling – a new, direct heir to the Throne of Erebor. Now, Dain II ruled the remaining Durin folk, who were little by little rebuilding their kingdom. Bilbo couldn’t remain there, it was too dark, too rocky, and far too empty without Thorin there.

Their affair had been brief, passionate, and deep. Thorin’s reluctance and suspicion of Bilbo turned into fascination and protectiveness after Bilbo refused to be anything but cleverly brave and steadfastly loyal. Bilbo’s desire to prove himself focused more and more directly towards Thorin as the journey went on, rather than the rest of the company. Thorin first kissed Bilbo at Beorn’s cabin. Exhilarated and exhausted from their encounter with the goblins, wargs, and eagles, Bilbo found an equally unable-to-sleep Thorin outside in Beorn’s beautiful garden. Ever since then, the stars always meant something more to Bilbo.

There wasn’t much privacy traveling in such a large company, so the kiss wasn’t much addressed until they entered the Lonely Mountain. Long held gazes and rare smiles built something between them on the way, though. Something that, once in the endless rooms and halls of Erebor, became something very real indeed. The terrifying encounter with Smaug left Bilbo shook to the core about the danger of this mission, and after seeing the same lustful gaze for treasure in Thorin’s eyes, Bilbo wondered if the monster of the Lonely Mountain had not merely razed Laketown and fled, but had passed on his spirit to the next King Under the Mountain.

Bilbo had known the capabilities of hobbits in terms of bearing children, but believed himself nearing the end of his timeframe, and also far to preoccupied with not dying every day to think of such things. It was only on his journey back again did he realize what had happened. He contemplated turning around and returning to Erebor, but quickly dismissed that idea. He did not wish to spend the rest of his days there, and knew that a half-breed heir to a dead mad king would have no guarantee of safety and security within a post-exile dwarven kingdom. He instead continued his journey home, taking his time to stay healthy and safe along the way, giving himself the entire journey back to figure out what his story was.

Upon returning to Bag-End, he made quick work of the sale going on and managed to shoo the town away with his stronger-than-usual temper. Bilbo knew that he needed to confide trust in someone, calling upon his favorite Aunt Belba to help him while he carried the child. She always was one of the kindest and least gossipy hobbits he had ever met, and was nothing but happy for Bilbo to “finally have some company in Bag-End.”

He had never really imagined that it would be a girl. He had pictured a boy, with Thorin’s dark hair, but perhaps with Bilbo’s own softer features. Half-breeds were quite uncommon (and frowned upon), and in all of his reading during his time holed up in Bag-End, he found no mentions of hobbits and dwarves together. He was constantly worried that something was wrong, every twinge, every sniffle seemed to Bilbo the sign of disaster. But she turned out healthy. Brea Galdin Baggins did have Thorin’s dark locks, but they grew to be highlighted with streaks of Bilbo’s honey blonde, and it fell in the wavy curls similar to his own. It grew fast and thick, and he never had the heart to cut it, until one point, when she was equal parts mane and body. Bilbo wished that he would be able to look upon Thorin’s eyes in hers once again, but later became glad that they were identical to his own – the look of madness in those eyes would have haunted him forever. She was large, he knew that would be the case. It made it easier for him to lie about the time of her birth, keeping it vague of when this supposed affair with a woman from Bree-land was to have occurred.

When he first brought Brea down to the market, he knew that he would have to answer for how he came to have a child. He was not ashamed of having a youngling out of marriage, but he was fearful of the retribution and danger than might come to them both if it was discovered that she was sired by a dwarven king. He came up with a simple lie, barely believable, but easy to stick to – only Belba and himself knew the truth, and he wanted to keep it that way. The townsfolk would believe whatever they wanted, but Bilbo knew that they would return to life as normal and treat them both kindly after a bit. After all, “life as normal” is what hobbits do best.

Unfortunately, Brea Baggins was only half hobbit. Life as normal could only go on for so long.