Bilbo sat on the balcony connected to his and Thorin's shared room. His slim legs dangled over the stone carved railing and his toes curled on themselves and wiggling so often, as he looked out to the dark expanses of the ocean before him. He had been in the Durin home for many moons and as much as he loved it, as much as he loved spending all his time just being with Thorin, going on long walks with Fili and Kili, and helping Dis whenever he could, he still felt something was wrong. Something was calling him back to the ocean, he felt it in his very heart that was already so full with joy just from being on the land with Thorin and his sister and her sons.
Thorin was due to return today from his expedition to some land he called 'Rohan' with his company of sea walkers (or sailors as Thorin preferred him to call them) and some merchants. He had left Bilbo in the very capable and loving hands of his sister and her sons for the time of the trip, during which Dis had shown Bilbo nothing but kindness while he was feeling a little lost and helpless without Thorin around. When he was home in the ocean he knew every rock and quivering wave that passed him but on land there were so many new customs for him to learn, the Durin's being high titled and powered people were often hosting large balls and celebrations in their amazing halls of polished stone. Bilbo had been kept away from the celebrations until he learned proper human folk etiquettes, such as not slurping from bowls, use forks not fingers, do not speak to the guests with a full mouth, and under absolutely no circumstances touch anyone's face fuzz... other than Thorin's of course! Bilbo had been confused at first with all the new fancy customs, but when Dis had explained it deeper it almost made sense, and that was good enough for Bilbo.
Tonight from his balcony view Bilbo could see bright swinging lanterns of carriages rolling up the gravel drive of the Durin estate, the ball tonight was in celebration of Thorin's return from Rohan with new treaties and fine silks for the trade stalls in the market place. It was also the night that they would finally introduce Bilbo to the rest of their friends and colleagues as Thorin's love interest, which was apparently a big occasion to the humans standards. Mercreatures? Not so much high ranking in standards, because if all they did was swim around and talk all day how would anyone have the time to cook, or hunt, or grow in their gardens?
"Bilbo," A voice said gently from behind him and the small ones head turned quickly, sending his golden curls jostling. Thorin was standing in the archway of the bedroom door, a small smile on his lips and his large familiar hands behind his back. "Is everything alright?"
"Yes, everything is fine." Bilbo lied and the Thorin smiled, it didn't get much to have the large human to believe him, only a soft smile and a flutter of eyelashes made the human turn into a pile of sea sponge, but that was Bilbo's little secret.
"Good," Thorin said as he leaned against the railing beside Bilbo and looked him over with his lips tilted in a small smile that made Bilbo's stomach feel like it was full of fluttering guppies. "I missed you while I was away, you know?"
"I know, and I missed you too." Bilbo replied before he leaned forward and pressed his lips to the large mans own, the bristly hair around Thorin's jaw brushing against his chin as he sighed into the touch. This had been an incredibly new custom for Bilbo, what humans called 'kissing' was not a typical thing back in the ocean. However, Bilbo had to admit that it was incredibly pleasant nonetheless. The larger man to pull back a moment later and ran his calloused hands down Bilbo's arms in a far too respectable manner, only to frown slightly a moment late.
"You're not wearing shoes." Thorin commented and Bilbo looked at his small toes and wiggled them again before looking at Thorin bashfully, his toes curling shyly in on themselves once more out of shyness.
"I know, I- I just don't like shoes." Bilbo said truthfully, he didn't like them at all, they were awkward and constricting. It reminded him of the day he was trapped in that fisherman's net and he couldn't escape, he felt weak and powerless when he had the leathery carcases on his pale feet. Far too much like rope binding around his tail and a current dragging him out to the dark sea that he had never known. He couldn't tell Thorin all this of course, he didn't want to see those unattractive lines on Thorin's face when he was worried or stressed, he was the one to kiss and stroke them away, he was never to be the one to cause such dips of desperation.
Thorin only smiled at him and gently took the small beings tiny hand in his own large one, and ran his thumb over the beings pale knuckles softly. Bilbo knew his hands were most likely dry from being away from water for such long hours, but Thorin still looked at them and at him like he was made of the polished pearls straight from an oysters mouth.
"I truly did miss you on my travels, Bilbo, and if I had the choice I would take you with me everywhere," Thorin confided and Bilbo smiled slightly, going to return the sweet words but stopped as the large man continued, keeping his eyes on Bilbo's hands at all times as he did. "And I hope you take this token as a testament for how much I-I care an- and how deeply I feel for you."
Thorin then slowly got up, removing a box that he had held behind his back when he first stepped onto the balcony and stepped around behind the small man. Bilbo turned his head to look forwardly onto the ocean once more as the larger man stepped behind him, a moment later Bilbo felt a cold feeling brush smoothly against the sides of his neck and a feather like pressure rest against his chest. The small being looked down then to see a silver and glinting shape on a chain that glistened in the moon light.
Bilbo moved his hands slowly toward the piece and took it between his nimble fingers, feeling the smooth texture as he did and sighing at the comfort it brought to him, it brought him memories of all the charms he had at Bag End and how much it made his heart hurt more at the thought of his home. The shape of a crescent moon took form as an amulet on Bilbo's chest and the small man smiled, before noticing Thorin pulling out a similar charm he wore around his own neck.
"Now, whenever you look at your charm or look at the moon in the sky, I promise I will be looking too and you won't feel so alone, you'll never be alone again Bilbo. I promise." Thorin whispered and Bilbo felt salted water sting his eyes (tears, as the humans referred to them) but he quickly wiped them away with the back of his hands and turned to Thorin with a gentle smile.
"Thank you Thorin, It's beautiful." Bilbo breathed before leaning forward and pressing his lips to the larger mans, winding his arms around the mans broad shoulders as he did. He still had no idea why he felt this way, why was it so suddenly that Thorin wasn't enough to fill his heart completely? Was it the pull of his mothers and fathers spirit that called for him to go back to Bag End? Was it the feeling that maybe he didn't belong here as much as he thought, and if so where did that salted grain of an idea come from?
Bilbo could not answer any of his own questions so he simply concentrated on kissing Thorin, on feeling the mans chapped lips against his own smooth ones, on how much he had missed Thorin while he was away and never wanted to be away from his side again, even though the ocean called for him to follow the rippling waves back home.
Thorin pulled back and chuckled slightly at the slight flush spreading over Bilbo's plump cheeks, before lifting him from the balcony railing.
"That's enough for now," Thorin stated as he helped Bilbo stay on his weak legs. "We have to get dressed for the ball."
Bilbo only nodded before Thorin pecked his lips again and turned to go toward their room, expecting the smaller man to follow. Bilbo paused for a moment and looked at the dark distant ocean and sighed deeply before following his Thorin back into the room. Bilbo was such a fool, why should he go anywhere when he had everything here with him?
"Introducing Lord Thorin Janavius Durin and his partner, Bilbo Baggins."
Bilbo breathed in deeply and Thorin looped their arms together, placing a hand over the smaller mans before leading him into the bright light of the ballroom which made him wince instantly, he had never been in the overly large room when it was so full, there was not even enough room for a tiny hermit crab let alone Bilbo. The room was littered with humans all looking up at Bilbo with raised brows, many muttering amongst themselves as they did.
Bilbo practically froze as Thorin lead him down the large swirling staircase, toward the guests who were now all watching the pair in judgement, well not really the pair, more Bilbo than anyone else. The way the others gazed at him was like the way a man would inspect a fish in the marketplace, and t made the small being feel tinier than usual and made him squeak in nerves, finding comfort in the way Thorin looked and smiled at him like he was the only one in the room. He certainly looked dashing tonight.
Thorin wore a dark blue tunic covered in golden bobbles with strange markings on them, he remembered one night Thorin explained that they were awards for his bravery and achievement in battles at sea, medals he called them or something of the like, Bilbo would never admit that he wasn't really listening as he was too enchanted by the glittering coins on ribbons, he also wore dark trousers and thick leather boots with a golden thread running though both. Bilbo wore almost exactly the same except it was in a pale cream colour that reminded him of the sand outside of his ocean home and he didn't have any of those fancy golden bobbles.
When they reached the bottom of the stairs they were instantly flocked by people, Bilbo ducked behind Thorin slightly as the humans surrounded him, it was almost instinctive now that whenever trouble came his way he would find of hide behind Thorin because he was the only human he truly felt comfortable around, even the young Durin's and Dis did not compare in the way he felt for Thorin. Though he did not have or had not found the right word to say what it was yet. All he knew was that Thorin was very dear to him and he was able to tell the larger man anything, within his own reason of course.
"My lord Thorin, where did you find such a exotic creature?"
"Blond curls on a young man?! By the gods you look so young!"
"How did you two meet?"
"Are you planning on getting married?"
"Is it true you are descended from royal blood, Bilbo?"
"Bilbo. What a peculiar name. Where are you from, may I ask?"
"What is like being intended to a lord?"
"Is this true love?"
True love? Bilbo could have sworn he had heard that word before, in his mothers stories perhaps or maybe in a dream?
The questions came like a storm that would never end, as if Neptune himself was whipping up a cursed storm that would wipe Bilbo clear from his own life, when Thorin knew the questions were getting to be too much for his little Bilbo he called for dinner to be served. A salmon roast broth for the guests and a roll of bread with a large plate of fries (or delicious sticks, as Bilbo called them) for Bilbo who smiled delightedly as it was placed before him, the guests closest raised brows at the strange diet of their latest host.
"Excuse me, may I ask why your young Bilbo is not eating what his guests are served." A loud and bloated man said to Thorin who was sat at Bilbo's left, leaving the small man to wonder if he had done something impolite, but they said nothing about his select dinner option in his etiquette classes! He felt relief as Throin placed an arm around his shoulder, so Bilbo now spoke up.
"I choose not to eat the stew thing sir, as I do not think we should be allowed to eat other living things, they could have families that are worried for them, or friends perhaps. So please continue being a savage and keep your big fat nose out of my choices." Bilbo stated calmly and Throin started laughing loudly beside him, at Thorin's other side sat Bilbo's etiquettes teacher who was currently choking on the cursed broth and heaving while Dis nearby looked on proudly. Bilbo smiled at her, she had been a great teacher in the art of 'come backs' as the humans called it. The small man still didn't know what it meant but it must have been good as all the eyes of the guests turned on him in shock, Bilbo smiled politely back before breaking open his roll of bread.
After the practically silent dinner the rest of the evening had been reasonable, he and Thorin had danced, talked more with the guests, watched the firework display in awe, talked some more, enjoyed some of Bilbo's favourite punch which he had come to love on his first try, talked, ate dessert, talked, talked again, talked even more.
Okay, so the night didn't go on perfectly and Bilbo would have preferred to dance with Thorin in the centre of the floor rather than talk to people he didn't even understand, but everything was not like the fairy tales, and not everything ended in happily ever after. Including the last event.
Two men walked into the centre of the room, with them were two large and furry creatures, chained harshly with its paws and nose bound in clinking metal. Bilbo's stomach hit the floor.
The guests around him laughed. Laughed! As if this was in the least bit enjoyable! The creatures, or bears as it said on the cart that had pulled them in, were groaning and whimpering as they were forced to shuffle awkwardly. They were in pain! Couldn't the people hear them cry?! Bilbo looked over at Thorin who was watching the bears with entertained eyes too. No, not Thorin, his Thorin was not like these humans! Was not a savage!
Maybe that's all Bilbo was to Thorin, an amusing creature for him to show off at celebrations, he was not chained however so it could not be, but then Bilbo looked down at his chest where the crescent moon rested, the slim chain around it feeling much heavier than he had thought. He was chained.
"Stop!" Bilbo shouted over the laughing crowd. "Stop this right now!"
The two men in the centre did as instructed and stopped. The bears falling to the floor exhausted as they did.
"You're hurting them! Do you not hear them!?" Bilbo cried as he shoved through the crowd, he sometimes forgot how different this world and their creatures were, how dense and barbaric they were, how uncaring they could be. But he thought Thorin was different, he must be different. "You must release them!"
"Master Bilbo, they are only beasts." One of the bear masters commented and Bilbo frowned at him.
"No, you're the beasts! All of you!" Bilbo cried and there was a gasp in the room. "How dare you think these mighty creatures below you!" He looked at Thorin. "How dare you keep them hidden away for your own personal amusement! How dare you take something so beautiful and fill it with such atrocity!" He pointed this time to single the raven haired man out. "How dare you just sit there and let this happen!"
Thorin looked away ashamed before Bilbo felt hands grab his shoulders, he looked up quickly to see Fili and Kili looking at him the same way their uncle did. Ashamed. The two young boys lead Bilbo out of the deadly silent room and back up to his chambers.
"That Baggins is an absolute disgrace!"
"- He will bring shame upon the Durin's, you mark my words!"
"How dare that runt call me a beast!"
"The nerve of that boy! He'll see what's coming to him!"
Bilbo heard it all. Every harsh word of the dinner guests as they passed beneath the balcony to return to their carts. Ashamed, that's what Bilbo felt, he had let everyone down, his teachers, himself, Dis, the boys, and Thorin. The last name hurt the most in his mind and heart, the ashamed look on Thorin's beautiful face would forever haunt him in a way no shark attack of sting from a spike fish ever would, the large man had looked so ashamed of who Bilbo believed was of him.
Bilbo curled in on himself as he was currently laid in the centre of the bed, arms wrapped tightly around himself and his heart and mind arguing, like the sea and the sky would on a dark day.
A knock on the door alerted Bilbo to Thorin's presence as it was his usual knock and his heavy boot steps that followed.
"Bilbo, are you awake?" Thorin's tired voice asked but Bilbo remained silent, even though a whimpering tear escaped him at the sound of the man's soothing voice. "I don't blame any of this on you Bilbo... I should have told you it was going to happen and let you have your opinion in the arrangement. I'm sorry."
Bilbo didn't reply only sniffed sadly again until he felt a warm hand press against the gap between his shoulders.
"Come on now, I'll make you comfortable." Thorin promised, Bilbo still not saying a word as Thorin tugged off his tight boots, socks, and then rolled his long trousers up. Bilbo sighed in relief. "Any better?"
Bilbo nodded before Thorin carded himself behind the smaller man and pressed his pointed nose to his soft golden curls, his arms snaking around Bilbo's waist as he did. Bilbo felt his tongue begin to tingle with so many questions dancing upon it, but only one fell out as he fiddled with the moon bound around his neck.
"Thorin," Bilbo began in a breath and Thorin hummed. "Do you love me?"
Thorin paused for a moment and Bilbo could feel a hitch in the steady flow of breath against the back of his neck.
"Of course I do, yes, with all my heart." Thorin replied and Bilbo paused himself for a moment, letting that sink into his shattering heart.
"And you would do anything for me?"
"Yes, of course."
"Even if it meant me leaving you?"
Another long pause and Bilbo bit his lip as he waited for the reply which came softly.
"If that is what you needed, with a heavy heart I would let you go."
Bilbo sighed slightly out of relief, a breath he didn't even know he was holding, until he turned in Thorin's arms and pressed their lips together gently, a declaration of his love for the raven haired man as he fell into an easy sleep, leaving Bilbo to himself and his flurry of thoughts.
Bilbo stood at the end of the bed, watching over the man he had loved the moment he met him and every moment since, he fiddled with the necklace he held in his hand for a final time before leaning over Thorin and placing the curved metal into his calloused palm, which instinctively curled around the charm.
"I'll never forget you, Thorin Durin." Bilbo whispered as he leaned over the large mans ear before pressing his lips softly to his bearded cheek, this time letting the salt water fall from his eyes. He would return one day, he knew he would but he didn't know if Thorin would welcome him back, but the man wouldn't have said he loved Bilbo if he did not mean it.
Bilbo then straightened his back and stepped out of the chamber room, his legs carrying him down to the pier that extended from the Durin estate and into the water, the waves were whirling in rhythm of the dark clouds above that were swirling, Bilbo could feel the air around him, it was thick and electrifying and it made him feel whole once more.
Bilbo felt air curl around his legs as he stood on the edge of the pier before he quickly peeled off his clothes and leaned forward, letting himself be pulled forward and fall into the water, as he hit the water he sighed in relief as his scales returned once more and his legs began to fade away into the crystal waves of the ocean.