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A Heart of Red Roses and Diamonds

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The first time that Thorin tears his stitches Bilbo frets and fusses while Oin scowls and sews him back together, reminding him all the while that even kings are not immune to the laws of healing. The second time he tears them Oin sends the young healer, Arja, to deal with it. Oin has apparently been impressed with her skills, and unlike others she doesn't chatter on while she works. Thorin's injuries are such that they need to be checked twice a day, which he feels is a little much, to ensure that infection does not become a problem. Since he would rather keep his leg, he bears it as well as he can and as a rule Arja is unobtrusive, though he notices that she will sometimes linger in the mornings. Bilbo refuses to comment on it, though the fussy little hobbit enjoys gossip as much as the rest of them, but Oin tells him that he has heard a rumour that Arja is Fili's One and, to Thorin's annoyance, Fili is aware of it.

Thorin has no idea how or where Fili came about the information about recognising your One by being able to see the stones that make up their heart. Thorin and Dis have carefully kept that particular piece of information away from Fili and Kili both. Ultimately they would have been expected to marry to strengthen the line of Durin's position in the world and now that Erebor has been reclaimed that has become all the more important. They had felt it would be kinder if neither boy was ever aware that their One was standing in front of them, just out of their reach.

Especially for Kili.

Although that may not be so much of a problem now. Tir would always have been a good match for either of his sister's sons. Her father is a powerful figure in the Blue Mountains and exceedingly wealthy. They had tried to organise a match before, but Nirdan had insisted she marry Fili and Dis had been adamant that it be Kili she join with. Her reasons had made perfect sense and Kili had always harboured a greater affection for Tir even though he hadn't been aware that she is his One. Now that Erebor has been reclaimed Nirdan will likely be perfectly happy for his daughter to marry Kili. If only Fili's One were such a perfect prospect.

"Why would it be such a terrible thing?" Bilbo asks after Thorin has been informed by Fili that he will not be permitted to stand in the way of his heir's courtship (and while he is so proud that Fili has stood his ground with such conviction he wishes that it had not been this particular topic that had prompted it). "If your Creator thinks they will be the best match, surely it doesn't matter?"

"If Fili were any other dwarf I doubt it would," Thorin admits. "If he were already king with heirs I doubt anyone would say a word. But he is neither."

"He's one of the few who would join you to reclaim the mountain from a dragon," Bilbo points out,"surely that entitles him to some freedom of choice?" Bilbo's tone is reasonable, but over the months of the quest Thorin learnt that those are the times when his tongue is at its most lethal.

"We will make what we can of it," Thorin sighs. "It is all we can do. Fili has made his position very clear to us and I have rarely known him to change his mind when the matter at hand is of such great importance." Bilbo hums.

"What about you?" The hobbit asks after a quiet moment where Thorin contemplates Fili's stubborn determination to have his way and tries to ignore the throb of the new stitches in his torn leg.

The healer, of course, is right. If he keeps on reopening the wounds he will lose the leg to some form of rot. Dain does well enough, he knows, but he's had decades to become accustomed to his iron foot and there are still days where it doesn't sit right and causes him all manner of aches and pains.

"Thorin?" Bilbo cuts into his thoughts again and he turns blue eyes towards the smaller male. "What about you? Will you marry now that Erebor is yours again?"

"If I thought my One would have me," he replies slowly. "But there is much between us which must be addressed and more still that I would have to discuss with the council in regards to him."

"Him?" Bilbo almost squeaks and Thorin frowns.

"Aye, him. Is that not something that occurs among hobbits?" He asks.

This could cause all manner of problems if, as among Men, hobbits shun those who would lie with others of the same sex. Dwarves see little trouble with it, indeed in a race where there are three males for every one female it is almost a necessity. Dwarrowdams are in demand enough as it is and not every dwarf wants to marry their One or even gets the opportunity. Not every dwarf has a One who survives long enough to meet them and it would be a sad thing to spend all their days waiting. If they can be happy enough with another there is nothing to prevent it. Thorin had, once, believed that he could be happy enough with Dwalin instead of searching out his One. Until he had met Dwalin one evening to find his closest friend ranting about a cheeky auburn haired thief who happened to be his One. That idea had fizzled and died that night and even though Thorin had regretted it for a time he is glad of it now.

"Oh," Bilbo flushes delightfully, "No, they do, it does, but it isn't something we talk about openly. I've indulged myself often enough, I suppose, but, well, I had thought a king would need heirs."

"I have two," Thorin shrugs, "both of whom happen to be quite well suited when they deign to apply themselves. Fili, especially, shows more promise than I had thought he would before we left Ered Luin and will make a fine king. I have no need of others. Provided both of them marry, and there's no reason that they shouldn't, they will hopefully produce enough children between them to keep the line secure.

"My problem, or the council's anyway, is not that my One is male. That has happened before and doubtless will again. Their problem will be that my One is not a dwarf." Bilbo stares at him with wide eyes. "My One is a hobbit." In for silver, in for gold, he thinks.

"I didn't know that you knew any other hobbits," Bilbo says in a rush.

"I don't," Thorin keeps his tone neutral but his heart is beating so hard in his chest that he fears it might fly out.

"I see," Bilbo's voice is soft. "Say what you mean, Thorin," he continues after a heartbeat. "There have been too many misunderstandings and harsh words exchanged by the two of us. We are, both of us, too old for games."

"You are right, of course, as you so often have been." Thorin shifts uncomfortably. His bed is remarkably soft, but after almost nine days confined to one bed or another his body is aches in ways that he is unaccustomed to. "I know only one hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. You. I see your heart as clearly as Fili claims to see Arja's. I have watched the rose at its core bud and bloom and wither and I have seen it bloom anew these last days. There is, however, much that must still be said between us, many apologies I must make and more still that I must achieve here before I can offer that which my heart most desires. I know nothing of the ways of hobbit courtship, just as I am aware that you must know equally as little about our ways."

"You're right," Bilbo has sat heavily in a chair as Thorin has been talking and his usually cheerful face is drawn. "There is a very great deal that we need to talk about and much of it deeply unpleasant for both of us. Yavanna has not gifted hobbits with such deep certainty of the identity of the one grown for us as Aulë obviously has His children, but we always know them. Whatever else happens, whatever else is between us, my heart is yours, but you know that I cannot stay." Thorin moves to stand, even though he knows that he will likely undo whatever good Arja has achieved with his leg this morning. "Please," Bilbo breathes, holding up his hand and Thorin settles back again. "I didn't come for the promise of gold, or even because you were the one grown for me. By Shire standards I am incredibly wealthy and I long ago resigned myself to the life of a bachelor. I came for the adventure that my mother always wished I might have and I found so much during the course of it." Bilbo's fingers slip into a pocket, an odd habit that Thorin has noticed since they crossed the Misty Mountains.

"But you cannot stay?" Thorin prompts.

"Not indefinitely," Bilbo sighs. "I left Bag End in a very great hurry that morning. I didn't tell anyone where I was going, nor how long I was going to be. I own a lot of land, Thorin, and though I have tenants who oversee it and a foreman who deals with them all I cannot be away forever without setting my affairs properly in order. Much as you would have to do were you to leave Erebor for any length of time, I imagine.

"Yes," Thorin agrees, "and the affairs of a king are much more difficult to settle." It is not, perhaps, the answer that Thorin would have wanted, but it is the one that he expected. He knows Bilbo well enough by now to know that this venture was far outside of his usual behaviour and that he has been as dedicated to his inheritance from his parents as Thorin has been to reclaiming his own birthright.

"Until I do have to leave, however," Bilbo smiles, "there is no reason we can't indulge ourselves a little."

Thorin's startled laugh is swallowed by a rather enthusiastic kiss.