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More Than Meets The Eye

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It all happened so suddenly and unexpectedly. The company had been on the road for quite some time- maybe a few weeks, even months, Bilbo Baggins could hardly tell anymore. They had faced bears, Wargs, Orcs since he had left the safety of the Shire and if the Hobbit hadn’t regretted leaving his home in the Shire before, he certainly was now. But that hardly mattered anymore, he was far from Bag-End now. His home. With his leather bound books, his fireplace, and his bed. He would not be seeing those any time soon and it filled him with longing every time he remembered it. He missed being warm, being safe, and being… well, being a Hobbit. Temptation was there, tantalizing him and trying to convince him to turn his back on the quest and just make a break for it in the dead of the night. This wasn’t his problem, this was not his Kingdom he was risking his life day in and day out for. He could turn his back on all of this and other Hobbits of Hobbiton would hardly bat an eye, claiming that what he did was right and just (after they stopped with their gossiping, of course).

But then a thought had occurred to him. With all of his thoughts of Bag-End, missing his home, he realised that this is what the Dwarves had felt for so long. They didn’t have a place to call home like he did. That was the reason he was still on this blasted quest and he wordlessly swore that he would see this adventure through. That and it gave him a few more stories for dinner parties- anything to rile up that Lobelia Baggins. Oh no. His silver- she was guaranteed to steal it from-

What was that?

Bilbo paused his train of thought from where he had been laying out his bedroll, pointed ears perking up to listen better to what had broken him out of his jumbled thoughts. The rest of the Company were busying themselves around the campfire, cooking, sharpening their weapons for the next day. Gandalf was, unsurprisingly, absent- claiming to have gone scouting ahead again as he did every few days or so.

The Halfling’s ears twitched again, desperately trying to pick up any sound to make sure he hadn‘t been imagining things. It may have been a rabbit or squirrel or another form of small animal. After all, they were camping in one of the larger forests. Maybe Bilbo could catch it for supper tonight considering that Bombur’s food had started becoming something along the lines of… well- tasteless for a fine Hobbit of his taste. No more snapping of twigs or crushing of leaves attracted his attention and Baggins glumly believed whatever animal had made the sound had run off at his quiet and hesitant approach (he hardly even remembered climbing out of his bedroll). He stepped closer to where he believed the sound had originated, head tilted to the side to listen better and frown pulling his features downward.

It was sunset now, the last few rays of the sun reflecting on something in the darkness, successfully grasping Bilbo’s attention and making his nose twitch in curiosity. A gasp fell from his lips and his brown eyes widened when they finally came accustomed to what it was.

A knife-

-and it was moving closer. Bilbo knew what kind of blade it was and which race it specifically belonged to; for a moment the words had died in his throat before they could leave his lips. The blade began moving quickly, more light reflecting off of the metal and revealing just who the wielder was. The hobbit began stumbling in reverse and it was only when he fell backwards and landed ungracefully on his side that he finally found his words. Camp was hardly that far away, but he didn’t hold anything back once he looked up to the sky and screamed as loud as he could, hoping to alert his companions to-

“-ORCS!”

~~

The moment the single word had clawed out of Bilbo’s throat, a heavy weight landed on his shoulders and his chest, effectively pinning him to the ground hard enough to bruise. He gasped in a mix surprise and horror as a bony and cold hand closed around his throat, abruptly cutting off his air. Thrashing wildly proved useless as soon his legs and arms too were pinned in place. The blade he had recognised earlier was now pressed against his cheekbone and dragged down to his chin, splitting the delicate skin there and earning a broken choke of pain. Blood dipped from the new wound and he tried to scream again but all that came out of his mouth was a pathetic wheeze of air.

“You are more trouble than you are worth, creature.” The Orc spat. Bilbo’s fear began to rise as it had seemed his cry hadn’t alerted his companions to anything wrong. What if they hadn’t heard him? What if they were ignoring him? Or even worse, left him to his fate?

Black dots danced across his vision, forcefully hauling him from his darkening thoughts and he became aware of pending unconsciousness that was soon to claim him.

“I shall kill you were you lay.” The Orc sneered, raising its blood covered blade, ready to bring it down and Bilbo closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable blow that was to come.

He waited.

And waited.

And waited a little bit more.

Unexpectedly, the weight on his body disappeared and the restraining grip on his arms and feet were lifted, freeing his limbs but more importantly, the hand around his throat was gone. Bilbo’s eyes snapped open and he rocketed into a sitting position and breathed in gulps of precious air and filled his lungs to the point of pain. Coughing soon followed; ripping through him somewhat suddenly and so ferociously he fell to his side. He hacked away until his throat was raw and tears had spilled down his cheeks and dripped onto the leaves below him.

Battle cries were heard over the roaring of blood in his ears, accompanied by the sound of sprinting feet and Bilbo, much to his relief, concluded that the dwarves had indeed heard his yell and were charging against the intruders. On quick inspection, the one who was choking him earlier had an arrow right in its head, the force having sent it backwards. He couldn’t feel the satisfaction of the death due to the ongoing fact he was still barking out coughs so violent that they rattled his bones and made the bleeding cut on his face hurt. A gloved hand fell onto his shoulder, gripping firm but gentle as they hauled him into a comfortable sitting position whilst the second hand slapped his back with so much force he forlornly noted that bruising would be inevitable in the morning.

The hobbit inhaled and clutched at the front of his open waistcoat as he leaned forwards in an attempt to get his breathing normal. The hand on his back stayed where it was, despite the raging battle around them, and rubbed slow circles

“Bilbo?” a worried voice ventured, unsure and hesitant. “Are you alright?” Bilbo managed a trembling nod at Bofur who remained kneeled next to him, worry etched across his usually jolly features.

“I-I’m okay.” The smaller finally got out and staggered to his feet, swaying for a moment before stabilising himself.

Bofur offered him a nod before whirling in a neat circle and slamming his mattock into the face of an Orc who had stupidly snuck up on him and continued to beat it to a pulp with his said weapon.

Bilbo looked around at the chaos around him, noticing how there wasn’t a single dwarf of his company who wasn’t engaged in battle. Fili and Kili were working together and when an Orc got to close to a brother, the other would be there and striking it down. Bifur was expertly twirling around his spear and seemed to be coping, unsurprisingly, well on his own. Dori and Nori had Ori between them, fighting yet also protecting their youngest brother who was still armed with that endearing slingshot and a few pebbles. Dwalin and Balin were not as close together compared to the others but only strayed a few meters away should either need any help. Bombur, however, didn’t even have a weapon to fight with (as ladles were not considered as weapons thank you), and then proceeded to head-butt and sit on Orc with the lack of gracefulness one would expect from the action.

Baggins looked around frantically-

One, two, three-

-eight, nine, ten-

Eleven. Where was eleven?!

A blasted dwarf was missing! He spun in circles in his panic before he broke off into a jog, weaving past Orc’s and Dwarves, dodging axes and blades that were swung and ignoring any attackers that charged at him. He cursed at his idiocy at leaving Sting on his bedroll, rendering him even more defenceless than he already was when in battle. This was quickly becoming inevitable. His head snapped up as he heard a loud roar to his right and he sprinted as fast as his large feet would take him towards it. Bursting through a clearing, he had finally located the last dwarf.

There Thorin stood, fighting a trio of Orcs singlehandedly by cutting one down and moving to the next before it could even move to attack- and then pommelling the third in the face. Though his fighting was admirable, his sense of awareness was not- something that quickly became apparent once a fourth attacker had been left unnoticed and had began to sneak up on the dwarf.

Bilbo’s mouth went dry when he saw the beast raise his weapon to attack and already he found his legs running- moving him to Oakenshield’s aid without a second thought. He came to a sudden halt between Thorin and the Orc just as it plunged the knife down-

-and directly into Bilbo’s chest.

Chapter Text

Bilbo felt the knife all the way as it pierced the skin near his stomach and inched deeper. A gurgle erupted out of his throat as the blade was suddenly yanked from his body. His legs felt weak and the pain flared in his abdomen, spreading like fire through his veins and sending him to his knees. A scream never made it to his lips as he choked and fell to his side for the second time today. Vision flickering, he saw the Orc sneer and raise his weapon above his head again and plunge down.

~~

Thorin Oakenshield was sharpening his sword when he had noticed the hobbit wander off into the trees. Not only did he go on his own, but he had the audacity to leave his sword on his bedroll. Whatever had made their burglar stray away from the company AND leave his weapon behind must have been either important in his eyes and trivial in Thorin’s. He was tempted to bark at the hobbit to come back or send one of his nephews after him but he shrugged and continued tending to Orcist. If the Halfling wanted to get lost or injured, it was his own fault and nobody else’s. That was until a shill scream made his hands freeze and his head to snap up

“ORCS!”

All the dwarves’ heads snapped up and they all exchanged worried looks. They sat there in shocked silence for a few time-wasted moments. They dropped whatever they were holding and grabbed their weapons from their sides and without a second thought, began sprinting in the direction they saw Bilbo Baggins tread through. Thorin cursed and chased after them.

He saw Kili notch an arrow and fire at an Orc that was about to bring his blade down into Bilbo’s heart. He ignored the relief that flooded his body as he sprinted past the coughing hobbit and into battle, swinging his sword and killing Orc’s left right and centre. Not long after, however, he found himself surrounded by three of them. An Orc charged suddenly and he swiftly killed it moved onto the next who was close to stabbing him.

He was only just aware of the loud slamming of feet behind him just as the second orc went down. He swung around 180 degrees and had only a few milliseconds for his eyes to graze over Bilbo’s convulsing and curled form on the floor and an Orc over him and bringing his knife down. He blocked the dagger, flinging it away and stabbing it, soaking his blade in black blood. He snarled and turned, ready for another Orc only to find that the rest had fled. He glanced around for a few moments before wiping his blade and sheathing it.

He was about to take a step towards the camp when his brain remembered something quite important. It was less of a something and more of a someone. His cobalt eyes glanced downwards at Bilbo. The hobbit looked a little worse for wear but otherwise unharmed apart from the cut on his cheek and bruises littering his neck where the Orc had strangled him harshly. He lay on the dusty floor, his clothes covered in mud, and eyes closed and breathing a little irregular. Thorin rolled his eyes. How the hobbit could faint with such little injuries was a mystery. He shifted to one foot and lightly, but harshly nonetheless, kicked Bilbo in the back and growling a:

“Get up, pathetic Halfling.” The burglar’s eyes snapped open and he groaned. Thorin swallowed the feeling that something was immensely wrong with the hobbit and this time nudged him instead “Get. Up. Or I will leave you here for whatever beast to kill you” He winced inwardly at the bitterness in his tone but shook it off again. Bilbo nodded and scrambled quickly to his feet, a cry of pain ripping from his lips a tug pulled at Thorin to check if the hobbit was alright but instead he hissed out the first thing that came to mind

“You had better not gotten yourself injured, Halfling, you are no use to any of us dead.” He sneered and saw Bilbo’s mouth snap shut as if he were about to say something before he was interrupted.

“No…” Bilbo whispered “I’m not injured. I just… got up too quickly,”

“Good.” Thorin nodded absentmindedly “Now let’s return to the camp, the company is waiting.” With that, he turned and started walking, not caring if Bilbo was following or not.

~~

Bilbo certainly thought he was going to die the moment his body had given out and fell to the floor. He certainly didn’t think he’d die like this, and so early on this death-forsaken adventure. He had been stabbed. Stabbed! And nothing could prepare him for the agony that ripped through him like nothing he had felt before. For at least 20 years of his life he had convinced himself he had been through worse after falling out of a tree and breaking his arm. That was nothing compared to now. This made breaking a bone seem like a paper cut. Speaking of injuries, shouldn’t he be dead?

Clanging of metal made his ears ring and yank him out of his thoughts. His breath hitched as something landed near him and footsteps approached. Did Thorin kill the Orc? Or the other way round?

A harsh kick landed on his back and his eyes, that he wasn’t aware of closing in the first place, snapped open.

“Get up, pathetic Halfling” Oakenshield growled from above him; Bilbo bit his tongue so he didn’t spark an argument that consisted of many swears and curses that his father’s hair would have grown white. He was nudged again and he stifled a scream of agony

“Get. Up. Or I will leave you here for whatever beast to kill you” Bilbo found himself struggling quickly to his feet and this time failing to swallow a cry as white exploded in his vision. Opening his mouth to say that he was hurt was interrupted

“You had better not gotten yourself injured, Halfling, you are no use to any of us dead.”

Oh

The words died in his throat. He wished he hadn’t saved Thorin at all and left him to die. He wished he wasn’t so stupid and charged into that. He wished he had actually died himself. He wanted to shout at Thorin-No, scream!

‘Of course I’m injured you idiotic dwarf! I’ve just saved your sorry excuse of a life! I have a wound just above my stomach and am still bleeding through my shirt!’

“No…” the hobbit started, ignoring his Took side as it barked at him and he strained his eyes to look at something other than Thorin’s cobalt orbs that left him shaking in fear “No I’m not injured” he lied subtly, closing his waistcoat that did a perfect job in blending in with the blood “I just… got up too quickly”

“Good.” Thorin nodded and just left.

 When he was sure the bastard of a King was out of ear-shot, Bilbo’s hands flew to his abdomen and he whimpered

“Fool of a Took” he whispered at the rising moon “What have you gotten yourself into?” He swayed slightly and stumbled into a tree, smearing it with fresh blood. His wound burned like no fire he had ever felt before and it was spreading.

~~

By the time Bilbo had stumbled back to camp, he was shaking like a leaf in the wind and shivering like he had in the Fell Winter. His wound was throbbing something fierce and he felt sick. It was almost pitch black and the fire embers were being blown away by the wind. All but one of the company were sleeping and Bifur was on watch. His head had snapped up in surprise as Bilbo’s legs finally folded in on themselves and had him sprawling across the floor, limbs a mess and a hand pressed against his stomach. He must have looked a right mess as Bifur had helped him to his feet, saying words in Khuzdul and dark eyes worried.

~~

“I’m fine” Bilbo had gritted through clenched teeth which was disguised with a smile “Just a little dizzy is all, it will pass and I should be fine in the morning” Bifur was not convinced

Earlier in the journey, the grey-streaked bearded dwarf had taken a liking to the hobbit and secretly began teaching Bilbo Iglishmêk, ignoring Thorin’s words not to. He had become awfully protective of the small creature, growling at anybody he didn’t like that came near to the Halfling, sharing some of his food with the Hobbit and, on most nights, covering the small frame in a blanket. Only to have Bilbo wake up a while later and take it off, only to have Bifur place it back over him and the process to repeat all over again. His cousins too had enjoyed Bilbo’s company and they had all become a little like a family and despite Bifur’s inability to speak common, Bilbo had never shunned him or frowned at him or took pity on him like most Elves, Men and Dwarves. Oh no, he would always come up to him and say a bright ‘good morning’ and always check if he was coping well during the journey and even went as far as, Mahal bless the small creature’s heart, offer to carry his pack when he looked like he was struggling a little even though the Burglar was visibly struggling himself. Over the past few months, he and Bilbo began to easily read each other like an open book. But seeing Bilbo Baggins like this made Bifur want to kill something. He signed something furiously

Where have you been? Thorin arrived at the camp almost an hour ago!

Bilbo looked up at him and shrugged, wincing at the movement

You’re injured.

“No, I’m alright” Bilbo smiled and Bifur knew it was fake

You’re lying. Where does it hurt?

“I’m fine, Bifur, I promise.”

Then why are you holding your stomach like that?

“I’m just hungry… I didn’t have a chance to eat before we were attacked”

Why do you keep lying? It’s obvious something hurts!

Bifur stopped and his eyes softened and he placed his gloved fingers on Bilbo’s cheek, ignoring the flinch, and tilted Bilbo’s head to the side, exposing quite a nasty gash from the cheek bone to his chin. Bilbo was one of the only beings that Bifur showed such gentle kindness to as well as his two cousins. All three meant the world to him. Seeing them injured broke his heart

That’s a nasty cut, little one.

“It will heal.” Bilbo mumbled, looking down at his large feet

At least let me wake Oin and have him check you over.

“No!” Bilbo and Bifur jumped at the loud outburst and Biilbo lowered his voice “No… Use it on somebody who needs it”

Dwarves are stronger than hobbits. We will be fine in the morning.You however are a different story.

“I will be fine Bifur, stop worrying” Bifur’s brow creased as Bilbo leaped five feet in the air when Dwalin groaned and moved in his bedroll before relaxing beside Ori again

You’re shivering!

“I’m just cold.”

Please don’t lie to me

~~

Please don’t lie to me.

That made Bilbo’s small heart break.

“I’m not. Bilbo lied through his teeth and he nearly threw himself at the dwarf in front of him. He wanted to cry and shout until he couldn’t anymore. He was in agony and he couldn’t tell anyone, not even about the dwarf that has shown him such kindness when most of the others wouldn’t. He just didn’t want to seem weak. He wanted to prove himself and gain the respect of the rest of the dwarves. He didn’t want to be teased anymore. He didn’t think he would be able to take it.

At least have something to eat. Bombur and Bofur left some food for you.

“I don’t want to eat anything” Bilbo answered truthfully this time “I don’t feel hungry anymore”

Then let me help you to your bedroll

Bilbo relented and gave a nod. He made sure Bifur supported him on the side which didn’t have any blood on so no suspicions would arise. He felt like his guts were twisting in knots every time he lied to the dwarf. He didn’t want to. Really, he didn’t.

They reached Bilbo’s bed, which definitely had more blankets than usual, and Bilbo lay down. Bifur covered him up quickly and bumped his forehead with his. Bilbo didn’t know whether it was to reassure the both of them or if Bifur was checking something. He didn’t really care because his body finally gave up and he lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Bilbo didn't think he would wake up in the morning. He certainly didn't want to wake up in the morning. What he became fully aware of when he was waking up was the biting and mind-numbing pain in his stomach and stinging of his left cheek. He was really, really hot. As far as he could tell, he was in agony

In the night, he had somehow managed to roll on his side so his back faced the company and his knife wound was elevated. Most of the Company were awake, Balin, Dori Bombur and Goin were still asleep, and occupied themselves by talking, cooking and checking on wounds from last night. None were too bad.

Ori, Bombur, Gloin, Dori and Kili suffered minor bruises here and there; Nori, Fili, Dwalin, Balin and Bifur just had a few scraped and cuts. Bofur, however, was possibly the worst off of all the dwarves. He had been majorly outnumbered by Orc's, 5 to 1. His arm had been sliced open and ran from his elbow to his wrist but thankfully wasn't poisoned. So with a few stitches and a bandage, the hat-wearing dwarf was back to his jolly and loveable self in no time. And finally, Thorin. He had escaped the battle completely unharmed. Seriously. Not a single scratch or bruise could be seen; Bilbo couldn't help but envy the bastard. If he hadn't jumped in behind him, he would have had a lovely new scar on his back. He didn't realise he was scowling at the dwarf until Fili and Kili plopped beside him. His eyes snapped away from the infuriating dwarf king and to his mischievous young nephews.

"Can I help you, boys?" he asked curiously and they beamed at him

"We just wanted to say that there's a stream nearby that you can bathe in" Fili began

"We know how much you like your privacy, so we let you sleep until everyone had finished so you could bathe in peace." Kili finished with a grin. If Bilbo wasn't in so much pain, he would have grinned back at them. Instead, he mustered a small 'thank you'

Fili and Kili nodded, patted him affectionately on the shoulder and walked off. Bilbo paused. Oh. This was going to be a problem. Whenever he moved, it sent sparks down his spine. Ah. This was indeed going to be a problem. He couldn't even sit up, let alone walk to the stream.

Footsteps approached his bedroll and Bofur's cheerful grin loomed over him

"Hiya there Bilbo" he began and tilted his head

"Aren't you supposed to be with Oin?" Bilbo rasped, wincing at how his voice sounded

"Yeh. I slipped past him when I saw you needed some help standing"

"What made you think that?"

"You would have already jumped in the river by now. You must be a little sore from yesterday, yeh?"

Oh you have no idea Bilbo thought to himself

"Yeah…" he nodded and Bofur chuckled and offered a hand of help. Bilbo happily took it with the hand that wasn't covered in blood and allowed himself to be, slowly, pulled to his feet. He gritted his teeth as his torso flared but ignored it until he was upright. His waistcoat had done a perfect job in hiding the blood he noted as he nodded thanks at Bofur and walked towards the stream

"Bilbo, where are you going?" Oin called at the hobbits back "I haven't checked your wounds yet!" Bilbo turned and despite the agonising pain in his side, smiled and waved him off

"I'm fine; use your time checking everyone else's wounds"

"But what about the one on your cheek?"

"It's fine, I don't need your help, honestly" The dwarf healer opened his mouth to protest but Bilbo had already disappeared through the trees. He shook his head and continued wrapping Bofur's arm. If the Hobbit said he was fine and didn't want to be seen, then so be it.


 

Kili was right when he had said that the river was close. It was probably just a few paces away from the camp. He travelled downstream and when he was a respectable distance, he took off his clothes and walked into the water. It was cold but his mud-streaked cuts and washed away the blood and grime that clung onto his body. Unfortunately, he had no soap to wash either himself of his clothes so he made do with removing as much muck and crimson as he could from both. His side didn't scream anymore so he took his chances to inspect it.

He hissed. The cut wasn't made by a clean blade as it instead looked jagged and still bled sluggishly into the water. It was about 8 centimetres long. Bilbo couldn't tell how deep it was but most likely it needed stitches but at this moment, Oin was the only one with needle and thread so Bilbo had to make do with bandages he had swiped from one of the dwarves. The severity of the cut would make him have to change the wrappings quite frequently as he's probably bleed through them. He closed his eyes in pain and anger. What would the dwarves think of him now? What would Thorin? Weak, most likely. They would scold him for getting injured in the first place. They would scold him for being pathetic enough not to be able to even defend himself from an Orc. At least the knife hadn't pierced his stomach. He traced his finger over the cut and his stomach dropped he noticed that there were tints of purple all over the stab wound and was agonisingly slowly spreading across his pale skin. He could actually see the purple crawling upwards and he shivered. Maybe it wasn't that bad. He should wait until Gandalf arrived from wherever the hell he was. Gandalf would know what to do.

He stayed in the water for a little longer, waiting for his clothes to dry in the early morning sun, and enjoying the feeling of his cooled wound. As much as it saddened him, he would have to get out soon or one of the company or, Yavanna forbid, Thorin, would come and get him. He crawled onto the river bank, dried himself and wrapped his stomach with bandages, making the layers thick so it would take a while to bleed through if it started again. He moved slowly when he settled his clothing over his body and made sure the bandages were not visible. Once satisfied, he rose to his feet and walked slowly back to the camp. Ignoring the dizziness and how the world swayed around him


 

When he arrived, he noticed all of his things were packed away and his sack leaning against a tree. He was thankful for that. He didn't think he's even be able to put anything away by himself.

"There ye are!" Bofur greeted brightly "We were wonderin' when you'd finish!"

"Who packed by bag?" Bilbo asked and there was a small tap on his shoulder. When he turned, he saw a sheepish looking Ori, pulling at loose threads of his gloves

"I didn't want you to get into trouble with Thorin for being too slow so I packed it all away for you while you were bathing." he said sheepishly.

"Thank you Ori" he said with a beam. He leaned forwards and a whimper escaped his lips as his body twinged

"Are you alright Master Baggins?" Ori asked and Bilbo nodded, placing on a fake smile and grabbing his back before straightening quickly.

"Let's move out" Thorin's loud voice boomed, cutting off the hobbit's reply.

Bilbo sighed. This was going to be a long and painful day.

Chapter Text

Thinking about it now, 'Long and painful' was an understatement. Time seemed to lapse over and over and the pain just built. It wasn't like the burning pain that spread flames through his veins anymore. It was blinding and breath-snatching as it came as soon as it went. It made his head spin alarmingly and almost unbearable feeling of the sharpest of knives slowly digging into his flesh. Not only that, he wasn't just hot anymore, he was on fire. The cut on his cheek he couldn't even feel anymore, it was that bad.

"Bilbo?" a small worried voice brought him out of his pained reverie and his eyes met the caring browns of Bofur's "Are ye alright?" Ah, good ol' Bofur, always caring about those around him. Bilbo felt a hand on his head and he flinched away from it.

"Bilbo, yer burnin' up!" the toymakers loud cry made some of the company who were closest to them stop and look back. The Durin brothers walked, well more jogged, towards them

"Are you okay?" the youngest brother asked frantically and Bilbo subtly brought his shirt collar higher to cover the purpled veins that had now alarmingly passed his collar bone. That was not a good sign.

"Do you want us to carry come of your stuff?" Fili says at the same time and Bilbo was assaulted with twenty questions and by the time they stop, the rest of the company had turned round and continued trekking forwards

"I'm fine, I assure you." Bilbo explained the overreacting brothers; Kili opened his mouth to object but was cut off by a sharp shout from the leader of their company

"Master Bofur, Fili, Kili! What is going on back there?" Bilbo ignored that his name was missing from that sentence and avoided that fact it could have been on purpose

"Bilbo is ill" Bofur shouted back at Thorin

"How bad?"

"High Fever"

"Have Oin check on him" was the simple reply. As if on cue, the medic appeared in front of them, nudging the Durin brothers out of the way. He placed a hand on Bilbo's forehead and he flinched

"That's alarmingly high" he muttered and Bilbo shrugged it off

"It's nothing"

"Are you sure you're okay? A fever as high as that is uncommon especially if you're uninjured-"

"I said I'm fine!" Bilbo snapped and Oin backed off. The sick hobbit ignored the glare from Gloin as Oin shook his head and wandered back to the group who began to carry on. Bilbo tensed as he realised how rude he just was. He dug his palms into his eyes and groaned. The pain was getting to him.

"Bilbo, give me yer pack. You're obviously not feelin' well" Bofur sighed, interrupting his thoughts

"I'm fine!" Bilbo protested "I don't want to be a- Hey!" Bilbo exclaimed, mostly in pain, as his bag was yanked off of his smaller shoulders and Bofur rummaged through it, taking items out and putting them in his pack or passing them to the brothers. After a few minutes, he passed the empty sack back to the hobbit who felt touched t such kindness and compassion shown by the three dwarves. For a moment he forgot about the pain all over his body and he mustered all of the strength he could spare and gave them the brightest and grateful smile that could have put the sun to shame.

"Thank you. All three of you" he weakly hugged all three of them, being mindful of his injury. He heard Bofur chuckle and return it while he Durin brothers gently patted his back, giggling. For just a moment there for Bilbo, he forgot he was hurt. He forgot he was bleeding slowly. He forgot he was in agony and that he was on the brink of death. All he felt was the gratitude to some of the dwarves he came to know and love and cherish like a family he lost oh-so-long ago.

"Come on." Bofur said, patting him gently on the shoulder "Let's get going."


 

Thorin Oakenshield wasn't in all the pleasant of moods. He wasn't exactly in a bad one either. The Company had set off a little later than planned but, to be fair, they had been ambushed before. And in some ways, even though Thorin didn't show it all, he was quite grateful that Bilbo Baggins had warned them. If he hadn't, the injuries sustained during the attack would have been much worse and perhaps even devastating. Looking back at the end of the ambush, he had to admit, he was being a little too harsh to the hobbit and to be honest, he didn't know why. It was something about the burglar that reminded him of something that he couldn't quite place. Speaking of Bilbo, why had he stopped walking?

"Master Bofur, Fili, Kili, what's going on back there?" he called back, wincing at the slight anger in Bilbo's eyes.

"Bilbo is ill" Came the shout

"How bad?" he found himself asking

"High Fever" He frowned. Why did Bilbo have a fever? His cheek hadn't become infected had it?

"Have Oin check on him" He found himself replying dumbly. He continued walking, the rest of the company trailing behind and he noticed how Bilbo snapped at Oin and his frown deepened. Something was not right with their hobbit.

And he would find out.

They travelled for hours after that incident. Their pace was agonisingly slow and the hours dragged by. Thorin took no notice of it. But what he did notice an hour or so before was that the hobbit shivering at the back of the line. Shivering of all things! It was quite a warm day and the sun pounded on them all. How could Bilbo be shivering? After that, he had found himself looking behind him every once in a while, checking if the burglar was still trembling. It was pitiful to watch really, it was clear that this brought a lot of distress among the other dwarves for their spirits had disappeared and they seemed rather glum.

Bilbo looked awfully pale in the sun and light reflected off of the sweat on his brow. His small arms were wrapped around his torso and what Thorin wanted to know was if it was in pain or to stop his shoulders from shaking. Enough was enough. The dwarf stopped, allowing the company to pass him. Only then did he notice was how slow Bilbo was walking and how far he was from the last dwarf in the line.

The Halfling's head was ducked down and as he approached, the chattering of teeth could be heard. He didn't seem to notice Thorin standing there because he walked head-long into his chest. Bilbo gasped and began to fall backwards, arm's flailing wildly and Thorin acted quickly, grabbing his waits and pulling him up and straight onto his big feet. Thorin could feel the heat radiating off of the small body. He was so warm.

"Master Bilbo" Thorin said and the other looked up, blue eyes glazed over and confused and… ill. He noticed something purple on Bilbo's neck and he reached to pull the collar down but the hobbit had scrambled backwards

"I-I'm sorry! I should have looked where I was going, I didn't mean to-" he was cut off when Thorin had taken off his jacket and plonked it on his shoulders, fastening it tightly; the purple prospect forgotten. Bilbo's eyes widened and he shook his head

"You don't have to-" he began to protest but Thorin silenced him with a glare

"You are ill, Master Baggins" he said calmly, trying to sound gentle, as he placed a hand on the sickly forehead "And with high fever. You need to stay warm and you only have a thin layer of clothing. We don't want you dying on us yet."

He smiled, it was small but it seemed to make Bilbo's eyes brighten slightly. This had to be one of the kindest things he had said to him since he had met him. And hopefully not the last. The hobbit snuggled into the jacket with a content sigh. He waited for Bilbo to catch up with the Company, and for the rest of the dwarves to stop grinning at him, before he made his way to the front of the line. But even then, he still didn't stop looking back.


 

Having a heavy coat wrap around his shoulders and get fastened to his body was not what Bilbo was expecting. Especially when his fever-confused mind had realised just who the coat had belonged to, he had nearly freaked out. This was Thorin Oakenshield we were talking about! The dwarf who had refused to even make eye contact him since he had entered Bag-End a few months ago. The very same dwarf who had kicked him in the back as he lay in pain on the floor just after saving his life. Who was now wrapping his coat around him and gently clasping it shut in the front.

"You don't have to-" he had started but he clamped his mouth shut at the look those blue eyes shot at him.

"You are ill, Master Baggins" Was the smooth reply, and did he hear a small hint of gentleness? A big hand was on his forehead and he nearly recoiled away from it if it had not felt cooling. "And with high fever. You need to stay warm and you only have a thin layer of clothing. We don't want you dying on us yet." And was that… was that a smile?! Bilbo felt… lighter. Or maybe that was because he was ill. He nestled into the over-sized jacket and a small nudge made him catch up to the back of the company with a small spring in his step. Maybe this adventure wouldn't be so bad. But he still had that awful knife-wound to worry about.

It started hurting again.

Chapter Text

Exhausted, aching and hungry, Bilbo Baggins had only just un-folded his bedroll before his body decided to give up. His legs folded and he landed onto his mat, grunting as it twinged his wound. The bedroll was possibly, to him now, one of the most comfortable things he had ever felt. He hadn't realised he had dropped off until there was a small, hesitant, shaking on his shoulder. He groaned and the shaking intensified, making him open his eyes and coming face-to-face with Bifur

Dinner is ready The dwarf signed

Bilbo's hands instinctively moved to his torso, when he found nothing wet, he sat up slowly. It meant that he still had time before he bled through the bandages. He would eat first and then go into the forest to change them. Bifur coaxed him closer to the fire, between him and Bofur, so he would be warmer

It is cold over there

"Yes, a little, but I can manage" Bilbo smiled softly. A bowl, which was suspiciously full, was thrust into his hands by Bombur who winked at him and wandered off to serve the rest of the Company. Bilbo beamed at the meal and dug in slowly, savouring the tastes. Bifur chuckled beside him and ate his meal as well. All the dwarves circled the campfire; none of them ate in silence because they all talked to those around them. Bilbo took no notice though; they were probably talking about dwarf things that a hobbit would not understand.

"Master Bilbo!" a voice shouted and he looked up. Fili and Kili were now sitting in front of him and he blinked.

"Yes?"

"We wanted to ask you a few questions!" Fili grinned

"About what?" Bilbo narrowed his eyes. Last time they did that, he got extremely embarrassed about just what they were asking. He shuddered, it took him days to get over the fact the dwarf women had beards.

"About hobbits."

"Alright" Bilbo placed his half-eaten bowl down suspiciously "What would you like to know?"

"Firstly, we want to know about your feet."

"Erm…" Bilbo stammered as he realised all eyes were on him, filled with curiosity and interest

"Why are they so big?" Kili asked

"Well, hobbits tend to walk around the Shire barefoot. The soles of our feet are quite big and thick so the skin can't be cut or damaged easily." There was a small chorus of 'oooh's'

"And why do you eat so much?" Fili questioned "You're so small!"

"Hobbits tend to have six to seven meals a day."

"Seven?!"

"Yes. We have breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Supper." Bilbo explained and the dwarves laughed apart from Bifur who didn't see how it could be funny

"No wonder why some of you hobbits are quite pudgy!" Fili grinned and Bilbo gritted his teeth. He really didn't enjoy being called pudgy.

"Excuse me Master Dori, but hobbits-" he was cut off as another dwarf threw a comment about him that made his ears burn and his grip on his trousers tighten. Then there was another remark about his weight and then another and another until he couldn't bear it anymore and he burst

"Enough!" Bilbo barked loudly, cutting everybody's taunting off. Bilbo clenched his fists and his jaw

"Bilbo…" Bofur began, surprised at the sudden outburst and the tears evident in the hobbit's eyes

"We didn't mean-" Kili said in unison

"No. Just… Just don't" Bilbo's words were strained as he stood on his feet and walked into the forest

"Bilbo where are ye going?" Kili called worriedly

"Away from you insufferable dwarves, Master Bofur!"

"But you can't go by yerself!"

"I don't care! I have had more than enough of all of you!" Bilbo screeched, ignoring how some of the company flinched at his bitter tone. He stomped off into the forest, except this time, he was armed and furious.


 

"I don't care! I have had more than enough of all of you!" That made Thorin flinch. There was so much venom dripping of the small hobbit's voice, something that Thorin had never seen in him before. When their Burglar trudged off into the forest, Fili, Kili, Ori and Bofur were quick to follow but were held back by other members of the company despite their protests at how Bifur was allowed to go by himself. They only got a 'Bifur will handle it'. The king rolled his eyes and leaned backwards against the rocks he placed himself on. The Company stayed in silence after that. Balin gazed around the camp and made his way to Thorin.

"Can I help you, Balin?" the raven-haired dwarf asked without tearing his gaze away from wherever he was looking at

"Thorin. I think you should take it easy on the wee lad. He's only a hobbit."

"I've not been the one taunting him"

"Yes, but you have been the one scolding him for anything he does whenever he does."

"I am aware of that, Balin. But he is on a quest surrounded by dwarves and will be going against a dragon. He needs to learn that it will not be so easy later on. And I had been nice to him this afternoon" Why was Balin coming to him about this?

"We know, but remember he is trying his hardest."

"I am trying to push him to do his best. Not his hardest." That was a little harsh…

"The company are thinking you've been pushing him too much. None of us think his body can take the strain."

"What makes you say that?"

"Bifur said that Bilbo hasn't been himself since the ambush." Thorin knew something was off about their hobbit. He just couldn't place it. And hearing this from Balin made his suspicions rise.

"In what way?" Thorin turned so he looked at the grey-haired dwarf straight in the eye

"Bilbo's been quieter. His postures gone and he's always falling behind. The lad refuses to be seen by Oin!"

"He seems fine. Just a little fever"

"Tell that to the rest of the company. They've all noticed it Thorin." The king clenched his jaw "Something isn't right with our Burglar. And then with you treating him like you do, the dwarves are thinking you don't actually care what happens to him"

"I do care about him." Thorin admitted, hanging his head and sighing sadly "He reminds me of Frerin..."

"It still doesn't excuse how you've been treating him"

"I just I do not want to see him come to harm."

"You're harming him every time you speak to him!"

"I want him to be strong. So he can look after himself if needs be. I don't want him to suffer the same fate as my brother."

"We all know how you felt about Frerin, but I doubt he would be so cold. Just at least try to treat Bilbo nicer. Today was only a small step; it was a good one, but only small. I dunno, maybe you can actually be friends" Balin chuckled at the scowl Thorin threw his way as he waltzed off.


 

Stupid, Insufferable, DWARVES! Bilbo roared inside, throwing his hands up in rage. What right do they have to say such things?!

Never before had he felt so much fury towards somebody before. Not even Aunt Lobelia! He just wanted to hit something, anything! Hot tears of frustration streaked down his cheeks and he wiped them away, growling

What gives them the-

"Ah!" Bilbo exclaimed, grabbing his stomach and groaning. Oh. Yeah. The stab wound. He moaned, through his anger, he hadn't realised he was pulling at it and made it start bleeding again. It would need changing. The pain was getting to him. It was making him on edge and easier to anger and annoy.

He took off his shirt, hissing as it pulled the cut. He looked down at himself and saw the wound was now indeed bleeding and had nearly bled though the 8 layers of bandages he had put on. Ever so slowly, he unravelled the cloth and dumped it on the forest floor as he rummaged through his pockets for more.

He was so busy with the task that he didn't notice one of the dwarves walking up and freezing. He blinked. Once. Twice. He opened his mouth and then closed it.

"Bil…bo?" Bifur struggled to say the name but it was enough to make the hobbit jump in the air and spin to him in shock, blue eyes widening.

"Bifur!" he exclaimed, bandages in hand, as he struggled to cover his stomach. Too late. Bifur saw.

What is that?

The dwarf strode forwards and swatted the small hands away. He growled

What is this?

"It's nothing" Bilbo shrugged away the gloved hands

This is not nothing!

Bilbo was thankful he had washed earlier this morning because now the wound didn't look as bad as it was

I asked you last night if you were injured! You said no!

"Because I'm not!"

You ARE hurt! Look at your stomach, it's infected! And your back! You have been poisoned, and you are decorated in bruises! I need to tell Oin.

Bifur made a move to leave but Bilbo was quicker. He grabbed the dwarf's arm and dragged him to face him

"Tell any of them and I will I never forgive you. Promise me you won't tell them" Bilbo emphasized the 'never'. He gripped the arm in his grip "Promise me" Bifur clenched his jaw

You are going to kill yourself!

"Then let me die!" Bilbo snarled "Everyone thinks I'm weak and I'm not supposed to be here. Thorin still doesn't respect me even though I have saved his life! I should never have left the Shire, I should have just stayed in Bag-End and never gone on this silly adventure!" Bilbo was rambling so much; he didn't notice how he bled through his new bandages and Bifur's frantic attempts at stepping closer

Please, little one, you're hurt and need help-

"I said I'm fine! I don't need your help or your pity! None of you actually care about me; I'm nothing but a lowly hobbit. I don't care if I die, I hate you all!" Bilbo roared, taking a step away from Bifur's arms. Bifur took a step back, dark eyes wide and hurt and surprised. Only when Bilbo saw this, did his anger dissipate and replace with guilt. Bifur nodded slowly

As you wish, Halfling. I will leave you alone from now on.

"Wait, no Bifur-"

Before Bilbo could continue, Bifur had already disappeared through the bushes and most likely back to the camp. Bilbo dropped his outstretched hand and his shoulders slumped

"-Don't go" he whispered, tears gathering in his eyes.

He moved to follow the path in which Bifur took but lightning spread through his body and he yelped. Gripping a nearby rock, he steadied himself and gripped his torso. He sagged against the rocks and dug his blood-soaked palms into his eyes painfully as he suppressed the urge to scream. That was it. He had done it. He had actually turned the only people that could have cared for him on this entire journey away from him and against him. Fili, Kili, Bifur, Bofur; all of the company. He had shouted at all of them and now they were going to leave him. Now they wouldn't care about him. Not anymore.

I don't need your help or your pity! Now leave me alone! I hate you all!

"Idiot!" he snarled "Idiot of a Took!" he punched the rock beside him with such force he heard something crack. But he didn't feel the pain of his bruised and broken knuckles, but the guilt drilling into his heart and the scalding tears that dribbled down his cheeks and chin. He fell to the floor and curled up, bringing his knees as close to his chest as he dared without causing him pain. He curled up and he cried.


 

Bilbo didn't know how long he had wept for but he knew that he had been gone for quite a while now. The sun had set, bathing him in the moon's light. It was cold. He noticed when he began shivering. His hands shook as he cleaned the blood off of his skin and re-wrapped his torso. Great. The wound was infected. He would need some sort of treatment soon. He put on his shirt, followed by his waist-coat.

Getting to his feet caused quite some trouble and he was out of breath when he finally succeeded. He walked, limped really, back to camp. All was silent when he arrived. Nori was on watch tonight and didn't even look at Bilbo as he shuffled to his bedroll. Bifur was sleeping near to his cousins but facing away from them and Bilbo felt his heart clench as he looked between all of the company. He looked down at his hands which were now shaking really badly; he tucked them close to his chest, rolled over so he no longer faced any of them and closed his eyes. Ignoring the aches and flames and shivering around his body wasn't easy but he made himself believe that he deserved it after what he had done. He might as well die suffering after what he did to the people that he could actually consider as family. His eyes drooped and then finally closed. He drifted into an uncomfortable sleep, not noticing the midnight blue eyes staring at him from the other side of the camp.

Chapter Text

Morning came slowly and Bilbo felt worse than he had ever felt before. His head felt like it was being wrapped by a vice and slowly being squeezed. His mouth was as dry as a desert and it felt like it was stuffed with cotton. His limbs were heavy and stiff and he ached in places he never even knew could ache. And goodness gracious was he cold. He was freezing! He realised he was shivering alarmingly and his teeth were chattering. He stifled the noise as he swayed to his feet ungraciously. The whole company was asleep. As well as Bombur who was supposed to be keeping watch; he stumbled deeper into the forest, when he reached a suitable distance, he doubled over and retched last night's dinner, the contents of his stomach spewing all over the forest floor. His eyes were screwed shut and his stomach clenched again and again until it was just bile expelling from his mouth.

He hadn't realised he was gripping onto a nearby tree for dear life until he had finally stopped. Blinking away tears, he wiped his mouth and gagged at the awful smell of puke and… something tangy. He frowned and looked down at what was left of his food from yesterday. Oh. That wasn't good. That wasn't good at all. The bile he had thrown up was red. Not just little hints of blood. Fully. Red. That was not a good sign. Not at all.

The sun was rising and he knew the few members of the company would have started waking up by now. He wandered back into the camp casually as if he had just gone off to relieve himself and refused to look at any of the dwarves in the eyes, fearing what he would find there, or what he wouldn't.

Bilbo really didn't want to know. He just kept his head ducked down as he packed everything away with clumsily and numb fingers, it wasn't helping that his vision wavered every now and then so much so, he missed his target every once in a while.

Nobody said anything to him that morning. He was handed his breakfast without a word and no eye contact was made. Bilbo felt his heart tighten and made him feel even more ill and sick. He didn't eat much of his breakfast so he ended up secretly sliding his leftovers into other dwarves' bowls when they weren't looking. No point having it go to waste, yet alone on him.

Bofur never once looked at him from under his floppy hat, never said a cheery 'good morning!' and never offered to help Bilbo pack. Fili and Ori avoided him whenever he approached them. Kili seemed to recoil and hurriedly walk away whenever he was near him so apologising for his actions was, for now, out of the question. Bifur didn't even go anywhere near him and Bilbo found himself missing the dwarves furious signing and companionship. The rest of the Company just kept their heads ducked down and didn't say a word, not even to themselves. A tense atmosphere surrounded them all. The only words that Bilbo had heard from anyone that day was

"Move out" from Thorin once Bilbo had clumsily gotten his pack securely onto his back. Nobody offered to help him.


 

Bilbo's condition deteriorated from there. It wasn't at downhill pace, it just happened. It was as if he was holding onto dear life because of the dwarves that he thought as family but now that they were gone, he just… let go. He was no longer steady on his legs and he stumbled more than just once over his large feet. Still nobody helped him. Even when Bilbo found himself being overtaken and falling to the back of the line and falling behind by a few meters. He was sweating heavily now but he felt as cold as ice, e no longer had Thorin's coat on his shoulders to protect him, just a thin waistcoat. His wound was definitely infected and his veins were purple up to his chin, covering it up was starting to prove futile and Bilbo knew he would have to tell the company soon.

No! Not yet! His Took side hissed

I'm in agony! What do you expect me to do? Wait until I die? His Baggins side snapped back.

To be honest, thinking about it, dying didn't seem like such a bad idea. It seemed like a nice way out to end the pain he was feeling. Yes, it would be disappointing that he didn't make it to complete his side of the contract and Bag-End would probably fall into the hands of Lobelia Baggins and her awful husband, but those things were, far, far away. Miles and miles and miles and miles and-

He couldn't think about it anymore as his thought became muddled and began to repeat themselves. There was a loud and deep call of:

"Stop!" from in front of him somewhere. Why were they stopping? Had something gone wrong? Was somebody hurt? Did they need help?

Oh. Right.

Bilbo realised he was no longer walking and the Company was quite a long way ahead and walking back his way, confusion soaking their features. The hobbit was leaning against a nearby tree, pale as ash and gripping his stomach tightly. The world was swimming before his eyes and he couldn't breathe. He was drowning as his lungs refused to cooperate with his body.

"Master Baggins?" a small voice filled his ears, it sounded strange. "Bilbo? Are you alright?"

Bilbo clamped onto that voice. Listened to those words and his lungs finally kicked in and he breathed in, eyes clearing for a few moments to see all of the company staring intently at him.

"Bilbo?" the voice said again and he locked eyes with Fili "Are you okay?"

The burglar opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a chocked wheeze as he doubled over and spluttered and coughed up his own blood. There were a dozen cries of:

"Bilbo!" and hands grabbed his stomach to stop him from falling flat on his face. That made him see red. Bilbo's instincts made him shove the dwarf who was holding him away as he coughed harder, his lungs constricting as he sagged against the tree weakly. His mind flashed back to the time of the ambush only a day or so before, sending him into a state of hysteria.

He was going to die.

Chapter Text

 

That night, when Bilbo Baggins had returned to camp after his outburst, Thorin Oakenshield knew something was very wrong. Bifur had returned earlier empty-handed and quietly set up his bed-roll and fell asleep. He ignored the frantic questions of the dwarves, demanding if Bilbo was alright. Thorin believed that the only dwarf that would have been able to coax the hobbit back was Bifur. Thorin believed wrong.

It was an hour after the outburst when Bilbo had returned to camp. By then Nori was placed on watch and everyone had fallen into a quiet sleep.

Bilbo looked absolutely awful to say the least. Thorin couldn't help but feel sorry for him; he was certainly not the same hobbit who had left the Shire so many months ago. He was thinner, so much thinner. And it definitely showed. His blue-green eyes were dull, glassy with fever, and sunk into their sockets. His movements were no longer swift and calculated, but rigid and stiff. Even his hands were bad. They shook alarmingly as they were clutched to a small chest. The dwarf kind watched closely as their burglar looked around sullenly before curling under his bedroll in a shivering mess. There was no doubt about it now, something was wrong with Bilbo.

When Thorin woke up in the morning, he was surprised to catch the hobbit walking back into camp, looking paler than before and, if it was even possible, more ill. It didn't take a genius to notice that Bilbo was having troubles packing his bag with his shaking fingers. It made him feel bad that nobody was helping the Halfling at all Thorin ripped his eyes away from the sight, not wanting to see anymore, and spoke loudly to the awkwardly silent Company.

"Move out."

The dwarf King couldn't help himself when he looked back every once in a while to check if their hobbit was still with them. He gritted his teeth when he noticed Bilbo was falling more and more behind every time he did and looking dead on his feet.

On about the umpteenth time Thorin looked back, he noticed the Halfling was gone. He paused and noticed the small being was leaning against a tree, clutching tightly at his stomach and the tree to his right.

"Stop!" he barked, moving past the company as he made his way back. There were murmurs of confusion from all of the dwarves as their eyes locked with the smallest member of the company.

"What's Bilbo doing?"

"Is he alright?"

"He's probably just a little under the weather"

"The lad's gonna drag us back again"

"He doesn't look to well"

"Master Baggins?" Thorin ventured once he neared. Bilbo didn't look good. Not in the slightest. Was he- Was he struggling to breathe? "Bilbo, are you alright?" he demanded, worried now. Baggins breathed in and looked up with his cloudy eyes

"Bilbo?" Fili stepped in closer and Bilbo's eyes snapped to him "Are you okay?"

The burglar's mouth opened for a reply and Thorin expected for the small thing to say something along the lines of 'I'm alright' or other lies like that. He didn't expect blood to come out of his mouth and for him to double over in seemingly agony. There was screams of his name as Fili grabbed him, only to be roughly shoved away as the coughing intensified. Fear flashed in glossy blue-green eyes and Thorin's breath stopped.

Bilbo was going to die


 

I'm going to die

Was one of the thoughts that spread like lightening across Bilbo's mind as he struggled to take a single breath in. He felt the cold, clammy fingers of an Orc close around his throat and squeeze, tighter, harder and he clawed at his throat, willing for the hands to be gone and away so he could just breathe.

"H-" he choked on a word "He-lp –m-e" he spat weakly as blood dribbled down his lips and stained his shirt. There was a sudden force whacking him on the back and his back arched in pain and he threw his head back as he could finally breathe small and shallow breaths. He staggered into the tree, tears mixing with the blood on his cheeks. He stared at the Company who were no longer looking at him. The whole Company's eyes widened as they saw what soaked the oldest Durin brother's hand as he moved it so all could see. They looked up to the hobbit.

Fili's hand was glistened red with Bilbo's blood.

Bilbo's breath hitched and he could feel it as his whole world crumbled around him.

They knew.

They knew he was sick.

They knew he was hurt.

They knew something was wrong with him.

This is bad.

This is very bad.

They can't know about it.

They shouldn't know about it.

They weren't supposed to find out.

Gandalf was supposed to be the only one when he arrived.

They were going to laugh at him.

They were going to think he was weak.

They were going to make fun of him again.

He couldn't go through that.

He didn't realise he was hyperventilating and his hands were shaking as he choked on tears

They weren't supposed to know!

He was panicking as Thorin's eyes locked with his. They were filled with an emotion he couldn't recognise. The company were shouting at each other and at Bilbo. He covered his ears with his blood-soaked fingers and his knees buckled; he fell hard onto the floor.

"Bilbo?!" Kili's voice managed to slice through the haze and his hands "Bilbo can you hear us?!

"Please! Please, Bilbo!" That was Bofur.

He felt like he was underwater and cotton was in his mouth. He thought he could hear something screaming in the distance and he realised sluggishly that it was him. He was the one screaming. Bilbo Baggins was screaming.

There was rushing in his ears and he leaned forwards. He didn't feel the pain of falling to the floor, he didn't hear the alarmed yells and worried shouts from those around him, nor did he notice the purple veins clawing onto his face and blossoming like a flower across his cheek.

He was numb and he knew nothing more.

 

Chapter Text

Thorin Oakenshield's hands had twitched to cover his ears once Bilbo Baggins' deafening scream rang in his ears. He moved like lightening as he saw Bilbo fall forwards and his eyes slipped shut. He stopped the hobbit's descent with a large hand, the pale face lolling forwards as the Company let out yells

"What's that on his cheek?!"

"Why's his face purple?"

"Don't just stand there, help him!"

"Oin!" Thorin barked "What is that on his face?!" the healer shoved forwards, pushing Fili and Bifur out of his way and kneeled by the unconscious form, inspecting the bruise-coloured cheek and shaking his head in disbelief

"This cannot be right. It can't be" he murmured "Lie him down" he ordered and Thorin did as he was told, removing his coat and using it as a makeshift pillow, Bofur placing his hat on Bilbo's head.

The Halfling shivered violently in his sleep, his eye's darting underneath closed eyelids and his head jerking left to right every once in a while.

"Oin, what's wrong with him?" Kili demanded frantically

"Stand back!" the medic shouted at the Company, sending everybody but Bifur, Bofur and Thorin, back. The three dwarves would not be stirred to leave the sick hobbit's side. Oin ripped the waistcoat off of the limp body before growling at the shirt underneath

"Knife!" he commanded and over half a dozen blades were thrust into his view and he chose the sharpest to rip through the shirt and throw it to the side, apologising quietly to Bilbo and ignoring the hisses as some of Bilbo's purpled chest was revealed.

"Are those… bandages?" Bofur grimaced and Oin looked critically at Thorin

"It appears our Hobbit has been hiding something from us after all." He curled his lip in distaste as he began cutting gently through the bandages "Sorry Bilbo" he said quietly as his patient let out a low whimper and his body shuddered.

As he slowly unravelled, his noticed how the cloth slowly became sticky with blood and harder to pull away.

"This is not looking good" he growled, noticing how Kili and Ori looked away. After a minute of heart-stopping moments, Bilbo's chest was fully revealed.

Screams of outrage and anger and anguish were shared across the group.

"Oh Bilbo," Bofur whispered his tone heartbroken and eyes sorrowful. Kili and Ori found it too much as they buried their faces in their brother's shoulders, tears in their eyes. Oin shook his head and Bifur looked away

"This is not good. Not good at all" Oin said, eyeing the newly exposed wound.

It was a nasty red and pus and blood slowly oozed out. The area around it was swollen painfully and almost every inch was covered in purple.

"Bilbo has been poisoned by an Orc blade" Oin spoke up. Another uproar.

"When did this happen?" Fili asked and Oin's fingertips lightly pressed on the cut

"No more than three days. He must have acquired it during the ambush" he said and he looked at Thorin who now looked sickened and stunned

"How did he even manage to hide it for so long?" Dwalin murmured

"How did he get it is the question" Balin said with narrowed eyes

"I don't know" Oin shook his head, breaking eye contact with the midnight blue orbs "But it needs immediate attention and stitching. Someone, give me their water flasks and send someone to refill them, I need the wound cleaned. Somebody go and find some Kingsfoil. Get me some bandages for his broken knuckles! I need to get his fever down before he dies of it!" There was no time to curl up and cry about Bilbo's wounds. He was dying and he needed to be saved.

Nobody moved and Bofur turned to them, red-faced and angry

"Well?!" he barked, his tone so sharp it could cut through stone and eyes as dark as night "What are ye waitin' for?!"

All of the Company jumped and sped off in at least 6 different directions and almost throwing their water skins at Oin who took them all quickly and started on the job of cleaning the wound. Bilbo groaned in his sleep, head lolling to his left and his small fists clenching and unclenching in obvious discomfort.

"Thorin" Oin snapped and the king ripped his eyes away from the Hobbit "Sitting there won't help the lad, do something useful instead a' sitting there"

"What can I do to help?" Thorin asked, a strain evident in his tone

"Get the bandages from my pack as well as the needles and thread" The grey-haired dwarf demanded just as Fili and Kili burst through the trees wielding the Kingsfoil and frantically pressing it into Oin's hands.

By this time, Bilbo was writhing around; his face scrunched up into a mask of agony as he clawed at the grass beneath his palms and dug his large feet into the soil.

"Thank you. Now sit over there so I can work" Oin snapped and the Durin brothers looked crest-fallen

"But we wanted to-" Kili began and shut his mouth when Thorin glared at them. They obediently sat a few metres away. The company returned moments later as Oin mashed the herb together and paused.

"Hold Bilbo down."

"Why does he need to be held down?" Ori asked his eldest brother who shook his head sadly.

Bifur and Bofur took a leg each, taking their positions and nodding an affirmative. Dwalin held both arms in place while Thorin took his place at Bilbo's head, making sure the Hobbit didn't cause any further injury. Oin whispered the third-or was it fourth?- apology to Bilbo's blessedly unconscious form as he pressed the plant into Bilbo's wound.

The reaction was instant.

Bilbo's eyes snapped open and he gasped before he began thrashing, desperately trying to break free of his restraints and howling in pain. He tossed his head back; the company was thankful Thorin had folded his cloak and put it under Bilbo's head, and let out a howl of agony. He kicked and he thrashed and he arched his back but the dwarves around him held firm.

"Keep his head down!" Oin commanded and Thorin pressed a large, and surprisingly gentle, hand on Bilbo's forehead and made his head relax on the folded coat. He didn't want Bilbo to see what was happening. The rest of the company by this stage had looked away, not wanting to see what was happening and some even covered their ears. Fresh tears stained pale and purple cheeks as he stopped fighting and his body grew slack

"Please…" Bilbo wheezed, chocking on tears and shivering violently due to fever "Ple-ase stop"

Almost every dwarf closed their eyes and Oin finally removed the herbs. He opened a water skin and began pouring water all over the wound.

Bilbo whimpered and tugged weakly at Dwalin's hold, trying as a final attempt to break free. Dwalin stroked the small Hobbit's arms, making small shushing noises.

"It will be all over soon, lad" Bofur piped up with a half-hearted smile which disappeared when Oin brought out a needle and small roll of thread.

"I'm sorry Bilbo"

Oin shook his head again as Bilbo's eyes widened and he began to squirm with what little strength he had left in his small frame as another onslaught of ears rained down his face

"But this will hurt"

Chapter Text

 

Bofur felt his heart clench as terror swirled in Bilbo's fevered eyes and he made a pitiful attempt to struggle, pretty much all strength dispelled from his body.

"I'll need to heat the needle" Oin said and within a blink of an eye, a fire was lit a meter away

"Do ye have to?" Bofur blurted as Bilbo whimpered and his whole body tensed underneath the large hands holding him down

"The needle needs to be sterile" Oin shook his head, hovering the needle over the flames "There is no other way"

"Be quick" Thorin said and stroked Bilbo's flaming brow. Once satisfied, Oin tied the thread and moved towards Bilbo whose eyes were panicked and held a hint of betrayal. He was wheezing and the medic opened his mouth to pop a strip of leather in.

"Bite on that, Bilbo. Cover his eyes" he said gently and placed a hand on the small stomach and clenching his jaw as Thorin placed a large hand over the blue eyes. The wound was clean and had stopped bleeding for now, so Oin needed to act fast before it started again.

He pressed the needle into the flesh and Bilbo's body jerked as he screamed through the leather in his mouth and back arched. Everyone held firm.

"Keep him down!" Oin ordered and he saw Nori and Gloin skid to the floor and hold Bilbo onto the ground. Oin tried to be as quick as he could for, not only the benefit of the Company, but for the fragile Bilbo Baggins. He dragged the needle through the skin, trying to block out the agonised and muffled screaming above him.

In the needle went

Out it came

In it went

Out it came

In

Out

In

Out

When he had finally finished the last stitch he realised that the Halfling was no longer struggling and the dwarves had let go of his limbs

"He lost consciousness" Thorin murmured, removing the leather from the Hobbit's mouth

"Poor lad…" Gloin whispered, shaking his head "Doesn't deserve this" Oin nods in agreement, wrapping the wound with bandages.

"There" he announces "All done for now"

"Will he be able to travel?" Balin asked

"Not in this state, no. He will die of blood loss if you try. It's surprising he had not died of it in the first place"

"You think he's been hiding it?" Ori whimpered

"No doubt about it. The wound is over a day old, the lad must have been in an agonising amount of pain"

"Did anybody know of this before?" Thorin asked, searching the eyes of the company and Bifur steps forwards

I did he signs and the Company's eyes snap to him

"Why did you not say?" Thorin demands harshly, grabbing the front of the dwarf's coat

Because Bilbo asked me to! He made me promise and I do not break them easily Bifur shoved himself away from the company leader, ignoring how all eyes were on him The night I found out, do you want to know what he had said?

Nobody objected

He thought he was weak and he was not supposed to be part of this company. He longed for his home in the Shire, and who can blame him when this adventure had brought him so much pain. He insisted that none of us cared about him and that he was not worthy of it. And you Thorin Oakenshield are to blame!

Confused whispers echoed among the Company and Thorin shook his head, scoffing

"I was at no fault" he growled "The Hobbit could barely protect himself"

Because he was saving your life! Bifur signed that as well as screaming it in Khuzdul. Everyone froze and even Thorin was surprised

"What?" Bofur whispered

When Bilbo told me, it was not hard to put two and two together Bifur had gained his composure now and settled in glaring the Thorin

The day the Orcs ambushed the camp, when Bilbo returned, I noticed something was not right with him. The night after, when I followed him into the bushes, I walked on him bandaging that very wound. I inquired about how he got it and he said he had saved Thorin's life. So, tell me, Thorin Oakenshield, do you recall our dear burglar saving your life?


 So, tell me, Thorin Oakenshield, do you recall our dear burglar saving your life?

At that, Thorin had actually paused. He was puzzled for a few moments. What was Bifur talking about? Bilbo could not have saved Oakenshield's life; he was too busy saving Bilbo's!

"I don't know what you mean" Thorin growled despite the dozens of questions in his mind "I saved his life"

So then how do you think Bilbo got the wound? Bifur signed quickly. The rest of the company seemed too shocked to indulge in the conversation, so they settled to just listening and watching.

"Possibly he was clumsy with his sword" Thorin winced on how pathetic that excuse sounded. Of course Bilbo wouldn't have been dumb enough to stab himself so deeply!

Surely he would have told us, then!

"So then what is your reason that he did not?"

Because he was scared!

"Of what?!" Thorin's voice was dangerously loud

YOU!

The king under the mountain froze, clenching his fists

"Bifur, I don't understand…" Bofur said, a frown tugging his lips downwards

On the night of the ambush, Bilbo saved your life, Thorin Oakenshield. Didn't he?

Thorin couldn't recall it; Bilbo couldn't have saved his life.

But then it hit him.

Bilbo. On the floor. Bruises blossoming on his neck and curled up into a ball. Thorin kicking him in the back and ordering him to get up all the while Bilbo crying out in pain. The purple peeking out from the red jacket collar the day before; that was forgotten-oh-so foolishly quickly.

Thorin's eyes widened in realization as he looked at the unconscious Hobbit, shaking of fever and eyes darting under closed eyelids.

"I… I…" he stammered, no coherent words coming out of his mouth as he tried to think of something to say. He opened and closed his mouth and Kili stepped forwards

"Uncle…? Is this true? Did Bilbo truly save your life? And you never realised he was hurt because of it?"

"How was I supposed to know?!" Thorin argued

"You could have least checked if he was harmed!"

"I did!"

"What did you say to him then? If you had actually shown you cared about him, then he would have said! What did you say?!"

"You had better not gotten yourself injured, Halfling, you are no use to any of us dead."

That was the exact sentence that Thorin had said to Bilbo right after the ambush and he had only just noticed how much hurt there had been in the burglar's eyes. It made something in his heart ache.

He decided not to answer his youngest nephews question.

Kili shook his head

"I thought as much" he murmured "We need to set up camp nearby! We will have to wait until Bilbo is fit to travel"

Oakenshield made no remark on how the young brunette dwarf had taken charge and began giving orders with his older brother. Their mother would have been proud of them.

He didn't move when the Company set up camp nearby to him. He didn't complain when he began shivering due to the cold and how the sun had disappeared into the clouds. All he could think about was Bilbo.

It's all my fault.

He stood, alone, as he buried his face in his hands

I did this.

 

Chapter Text

Pain. That was all Bilbo Baggins was aware of. A searing, hot, pain that wrapped around his bones and set his body ablaze.

What had happened?

Why did everything hurt?

When was he hurt?

Who hurt him?

He thrashed around, trying to throw off the things that were holding him onto the floor and letting out a wail of pain and fear and frustration. He tossed his head back, willing the pain to go away as it flared through his veins like poison and he screamed, louder than he had ever done before as his back left the ground.

He couldn't take it.

It was too much.

Why did it hurt?!

A large, warm hands were placed on his flaming forehead as tears rained down his cheeks.

"Please" he had no idea he had started speaking until the words scraped at his throat like a dozen knives as he shivered "Ple-ase stop"

Whatever was hurting him was removed but the agony still lingered through his body, he whimpered. He gave a small, not even there; tug at his restraints testing them for any weakness when he knew there would be none. Somehow, he managed to open his eyes but they refused to focus on anything

"It'll all be over soon, lad" a calm, gentle voice whispered. It sounded so far away but Bilbo actually believed it.

Then he saw the needle.

And he knew things were going to get much, much worse.

He started to struggle, trying to back away and hide. He knew the attempt was futile to his lack of strength and hands holding him down to the floor.

This couldn't be happening.

This could not be happening.

Bilbo whined when the thin metal was heated over a flame and he knew his body had seized up in terror. The hand was back again, pushing his head down and onto something soft and stroking his brow.

Who was doing that?

It could not have been the touch of a dwarf. Dwarves were hard, brutal beings and this touch was gentle, almost like his mothers. He snapped out of his reverie when whoever was holding the needle moved closer. Who was that? His name was on the tip of his swollen tongue…

Boin?

Doin?

Oin?

Oin!

Oin, you betrayer! How could you?!

He may have been sick, but it didn't mean he couldn't have been as angry as Thorin. He breathed out heavily through his nose and his mouth was prised open, something firm and long being placed into his mouth and his jaw instinctively bit onto it

"Bite that, Bilbo" Oin whispered "Cover his eyes"

What? Cover my eyes? What for? Why do my eyes need to be covered?!

A cold hand was placed on his bare stomach.

When had his shirt been removed?

A gloved hand was placed over his blurry eyes; cutting off his limited vision and making him panic even more as he strained to see what was going to happen.

Where was the needle going to go?

Where exactly was he hurt?

Wh-

All he could see was white.

He aware of something screaming in his ears through the brandishing pain that washed over him 10 times worse than before.

Oh.

It was him who was screaming.

But it wasn't a loud scream. No. It was muffled by the strap in his mouth. It made breathing hard and screaming even more so. He felt something hot and metal force its way into his skin and then back out.

It was excruciating.

He jerked his head from side to side as he chomped harder on the object in his mouth and the hand slipped from his eyes, only slightly.

Through the wetness in his eyes he finally saw who the one was holding him by the head.

It was Thorin.

That wasn't right.

Thorin couldn't have been doing that.

He wouldn't have been doing that.

He shouldn't be doing that.

Bilbo must have been dead but the agony was all too real. Thorin was holding him. Not fully of course. But he cared. He did didn't he?

He wouldn't be doing what he was if he didn't, right?

But why did he care?

He had treated Bilbo with such ferocity for the past few months of this damned journey. Was he only helping because his burglar was hurt?

You had better not gotten yourself injured, Halfling. You're no good to us dead.

Maybe he didn't care

But his touch was so gentle.

He just wants you better as soon as possible so he can go back to shouting at you as soon as possible

But he is holding me with such kindness

He doesn't actually care for you

Then why does he look so concerned?

And why was everything going dar-

Chapter Text

With great care and around 5 minutes of listening to Oin screaming at them, Dwalin had finally managed to pick up Bilbo and place him onto his laid out bedroll without opening his newly stitched wound. A fire was set up closer than the dwarves dared to Bilbo as they made a frantic attempt to keep him warm as the Halfling shivered, sweat glistening across his brow.

Numerous blankets and coats appeared from tin air and piled on top, beside and below their injured member and the Durin brothers actually huddled as close as they were allowed to Bilbo.

For the first time since they had set off for this journey, the Company had fallen silent. It wasn't an awkward silence. It was worse. It was type of silence that brought a sense of dread and foreboding into the atmosphere. It was the type that left many frightened or afraid of something. And that certain something was whether or not their dear Burglar would survive.

Oin had said that Bilbo Baggins' injuries were grave and if had not been tended to sooner, the Hobbit would have most definitely perished. He was 'surprised the wee lad had survived that long in the first place'. But even though they had found out when they did, there was only a slim chance he would survive. Dwarves were large, strong beings and would be able to survive even the harshest of wounds if their will was strong enough. But Bilbo was a Hobbit; a small, delicate thing who was more susceptible to illness and easier to break. Hopes were low for his survival but none dare give up on him.

Not yet.

"What if he takes a turn for the worse?" Kili finally ventured, breaking the silence like glass.

"What do you mean?" Oin grunted, applying a towel soaked in water onto Bilbo's forehead

"If Bilbo gets bad. Really, really, bad. What would we do?"

"I doubt that will happen, laddie" Balin butted in before the healer said anything that would upset the younger members of the Company "Bilbo has a strong will."

"But Oin said so himself" Fili spoke "He said that it was shocking Bilbo was still alive after having such injuries inflicted on him."

"What if Bilbo dies?" Ori whimpered, looking up from where he picked at his gloves and Dori sent him a sad look

"Bilbo will not die" Balin appeased

"And how would you know?" Dwalin grumbled '"You have no medical knowledge. For all we know Bilbo could be dying!"

"Don't say that!" Bofur yelled, glaring at the larger dwarf harshly

You can't give up Bilbo so easily! Bifur signed angrily

"He wouldn't have been this way if you had told us about Bilbo's injury earlier!" Nori fired, pointing a dagger at him

I promised him!

"Promise or not, you could have told us!"

"If Gandalf was here, none of this wouldn't have happened!" Ori yelled

"Maybe if some of us were more aware of the Hobbit's condition!" Gloin glowered

"Enough!" Thorin barked, silencing the Company as he stood up straight from where he was leaning against the tree bark, listening to the squabbles of the dwarves. His eyes were hooded despite how bright it still was "Enough fighting among yourselves and placing the blame on others."

"You can't talk!" Dori snapped "You were the one who is to blame most for this!"

"We are all to blame!" Thorin continued, growling and baring his teeth "Some of us more than others but it no longer matters. Our Burglar is wounded and we must look after him until he wakes. The worst we can do is go against one another. Master Baggins will need us"

"What are you implyin'?" Bofur asked

"Bilbo will either live or die" Thorin said, ignoring the glares and growls around the dwarves. He looked at Bilbo. His eyes ran over his sunken eyelids. At the bandages that weaved around his body and were as white as his skin. It was wonder on how nobody actually didn't notice his condition.

He gritted his teeth. This was certainly not the Bilbo Baggins he had met in the Shire. This was not the round, joyful Hobbit that had opened his door over 5 months ago. His eyes were a dull, sickly colour that went the same for his skin. It no longer glowed with health but was as pale as snow and glistened with a layer of sweat as the whole framed shivered. He was thin, so thin that Thorin could actually see his ribs prodding out. They weren't prominent, but he had still lost an alarming amount of weight since he had left his home in Bag-End.

The clothes he had left it had most definitely seen better days. It was ripped in more places than there were stitches. There were places were random strips of cloth had most likely been sewed over the shreds. Thorin knew that the waistcoat itself needed to be washed. It was probably soaked in Bilbo's blood.

Blood that could have been avoided if he had just looked.

"We must be prepared for either." Thorin carried on, breaking his gaze and addressing the dwarves who had given them their undivided attention. Some looked murderous, others sad but most had a look of understanding in their eyes. "If Bilbo is to survive, we must all help to speed his recovery as fast as possible. Wizard or not. If he dies, it is unavoidable." He clenched his jaw "I will take the blame upon Gandalf's return. I am to blame more than all of you. I am the leader of this Company and I should have taken better care when looking after every member, not only of my own kin. Bilbo is part of the Company and I should have treated him as such before this happened. We all should have been aware of his condition beforehand but we can no longer dwell on them. What we need to think about is Bilbo's health.

To answer your question, Kili. If Bilbo takes a turn for the worst, and we know he will not survive and there is no way to help him, we stop his torture"

"Uncle, you don't mean…?" Kili covered his mouth, the company's eyes widening in what Thorin was actually suggesting. He couldn't actually mean…?

"If he goes past the point we can no longer help him and he is in great suffering,

We end Bilbo's life."

Chapter Text

"If he goes past the point we can no longer help him and he is great suffering,

We end Bilbo's life."

Ori gave a small shudder at those words. Oakenshield seemed so confident with what he had said, nobody questioned it. Their minds were on other things at the moment.

Would Bilbo survive? He had to! They hadn't even reached the mountain yet! Ori huffed slightly

The pained moans of their hobbit pulled at everyone's heartstrings and proceeded to as the day evaporated into night. The smell of burning wood entered the Company's noses but they all grimaced at the stench of sickness and infection.

Still, Bilbo did not wake.

The fire began to slowly die, casting shadows over Bilbo's sickly skin and all of the dwarves' melancholy faces as Bilbo began shivering violently. Oin touched the pale face and he growled something in Khuzdul

"His fever's getting worse" he reported applying a towel to the flaming forehead

"And the fire's going out" Ori heard Kili mumble

"We can see that, Kili" his older brother snapped, a little too bitterly.

"I just thought I should point it out." The brunette fired, glaring at the blonde dwarf.

"It isn't helping."

"Well I don't know what else to do-!"

"Stop arguing, the both of you!" Thorin barked, silencing the brewing squabble "If you want to do something useful, accompany Dwalin and Ori to collect more wood, we need as much as possible."

"Yes Uncle" his nephews mumbled, hanging their heads and standing. Ori stood as well, following the brothers and Dwalin quickly into the trees obediently.


The four of them trudged silently through the grass, the young scribe trailing slightly behind. Dry leaves crunched bellow them and stray twigs snapped below their weight.

"Get what you can" Dwalin had informed them "Even the smallest of branches matter" the younger ones nodded, splitting into different directions "Don't wander too far." Dwalin called before they were out of ear-shot.

Ori fingered his gloved nervously as he scoured the grass below him for any branches; he picked some up, balancing them on an arm. It was getting darker and darker now and harder to see a few meters ahead. It began to become a chore to spot twigs and branches through the gloom and Ori found himself wanting to head back despite the small handfuls of bark he had collected. Finally, after a minute of debating, he decided he could collect for a few more minutes and then head back. The young dwarf kneeled on the ground, patting his hands on the floor to grasp firewood and add it to his growing pile. It was getting heavy in his arms so he thought it would be best to head back and perhaps search for some more later, when it was brighter.

The sun had pretty much set now and the young scribe could barely see a few meters in front of him. He had just turned in direction of the camp when there was the sound of something crunching in the distance. He stopped, looking behind him and squinting to see through the gloom.

What was that?

There was another crunch, closer and Ori gripped the firewood in his arms tighter, tiptoeing backwards.

Was it more Orcs?

Or an Animal?

Maybe it was just one of the other dwarves?

Maybe they had come looking for him for taking too long?

He heard footsteps wandering closer and his heart sped up. His breathing became erratic as he began to stumble backwards in alarm. The steps were too quick for a dwarf and they were moving towards him. He abandoned his collected kindling in a wild panic and began running as fast as he could, his legs got caught on roots and vines and they snagged at his limbs.

They tangled with his feet and he fell forwards, covering his face with his arms before he hit the soft ground.

Hang on.

Soft?

Slowly, Ori opened his eyes and moved his arms from his eyes, he looked up and his eyes met the fearsome brown of Dwalin's.

"Ori" the large dwarf said and helped the scribe stand, he took in the smaller dwarf's panicked features "What's the matter, lad?"

"There… There is something in the forest." Ori stammered, eyes wide as he gripped onto the large arms holding him with such strength, even Dwalin was left surprised.

"Are you sure it wasn't Fili or Kili?"

"It was no dwarf." There was the sound of fast, approaching footsteps and Ori held no argument when he was pushed behind Dwalin, axe already in his grip

"Stay behind me, laddie" he said. The foot-falls grew louder, closer and Ori found himself shaking in terror. The bushes in front of them parted and the dwarves found themselves gasping.

Grey robes, dirtied by mud and streaked with dirt, emerged through the dark bushes and Ori sighed with relief.

"Gandalf" Dwalin exhaled, lowering his weapon at the sight of the, long since seen, wizard.

"Dwalin, Ori" the grey wizard greeted and paused, eyes narrowing like a suspicious parent as he adjusted the grip on his staff "Where are the rest of you?"

"Back at camp, we were collecting firewood for Bilbo." Ori blurted, covering his mouth immediately after. Gandalf's eyes narrowed to slits and his face twisted into something Ori couldn't recognise

"What has happened to Bilbo" Dwalin and Ori exchanged looks

"Let us find Fili and Kili. We'll take you back to camp and we'll show you" Dwalin said, face impassive.


For most of the day and through the night, Thorin Oakenshield found himself watching the small hobbit for ongoing periods of time. Every time Bilbo Baggins would let out a small whimper of pain or shift his position as he slept, normally, the hobbit would find it unsettling, but he wasn't awake now was he?

It was obvious the Company Burglar's condition was deteriorating by the hour and worst of all; Oin was running out of ideas to keep the fever and poison at bay. By this time, Bilbo's clothes had to be replaced with new ones as his sweat had soaked through his shirt and waistcoat. His fever was rising and there was nothing anybody could do bring it down or even stop it. The purple veins had spread now, further. It now covered almost all the right side of Bilbo's ashen face and created a grotesque image the most would find rather revolting to look at.

But this was Bilbo Baggins they were talking about. The hobbit who had been hired as their thief but had successfully stolen nothing but their hearts (Bofur's hat, Ori's notebook and numerous blades that Fili kept did not count). The first outsider that Bifur had taken a shine to and Ori had finally had the guts to talk about his writing to. The hobbit who Bofur had found a friend in and Fili and Kili enjoyed pulling harmless pranks on. The very one who asked about Gloin's son over and over and was seemingly okay with listening to him talk about nothing but his son for hours on end and Dwalin had finally shown his soft side to and Bombur shared his secret recipes with.

And the one Thorin Oakenshield had hurt. The one he had harmed emotionally, physically and verbally damaged the moment he had stepped into his home. He wouldn't be surprised if Bilbo wanted to leave back to the Shire if –no, when- he survived this ordeal.

"Thorin" a weary voice said in his ear and he snapped out of his thoughts to stare Balin straight in the face

"Yes?" Oakenshield rasped, cursing his voice for sounding so weak

"Are you sure it the best course of action? For Bilbo?"

"I will do what is best for every member of my company"

"But they do not wish Bilbo to die"

"But they do not want him to suffer either." Balin said nothing in reply, he just hung his head and walked back to the collection of rocks he sat on.

"Where is that firewood?" Oin griped as Bilbo let out an incoherent, slurred babble and mewled in his sleep

"Dwalin is taking his time, isn't he?" Dori said, looking up from where he had stared at for the past 15 minutes

"They are" Thorin mused grimly "They should have been back"

"Should we go look for them?" Bifur asked in Khuzdul

"Not yet" Thorin shook his head "Dwalin must have a good reason to take longer than he should. Most likely he went in search of Fili and Kili." There was the sound of multiple footfalls nearing the camp "They're here" he said before Dwalin, Ori Fili and Kili entered the camp.

Thorin's features twisted into a frown as a large form trailed in after them. After a moment he found his heart speeding up and the colour draining from his face as he recognised just who it was.

"THORIN OAKENSHIELD, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY HOBBIT?!"

Gandalf.

Chapter Text

Two weeks Gandalf had been gone for. Only two Mahal forsaken weeks. Not even that! Gandalf should have known much better to leave dwarves on their own and in charge of a hobbitHis hobbit. The one he had taken from his home in Bag-End in the Shire. The very same hobbit he had made a promise about to Belladonna Baggins that he would look after if she were to pass. Such a simple request she had given him many years ago and he failed at it. He should not have left in the first place; he should have stayed with the rest of the Company. Oh, but how was he to know?

But yet there Bilbo Baggins was, right before his very eyes, unconscious and boring a grave injury on his torso and drenched in sweat while his, usually cheerful, features were twisted into that of agony. Gandalf didn't realise he was shouting until the form he was apparently pinpointing flinched from his place under a tree, his pointed features hooded as his eyes

"THORIN OAKENSHIELD, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY HOBBIT?"

The dwarves around him recoiled from such fierceness in the old voice and shadow tendrils whipped harshly around the grey wizard in his rage. When the man didn't receive an answer, it depleted his fast diminishing patience and building on his temper. Gandalf's umbrage burned hotter than the fever hiding in the small frame of the ill hobbit.

"Answer me!" he roared "I demand to know what has happened to Bilbo Baggins!"

"Mister Gandalf" Balin began cautiously, holding a hand up in defence when Gandalf's eyes snapped to him dangerously. He seemed taller, looming over the forms of ever dwarf treacherously and ready to lash out at any moment, fury escaping his robes like waves strong enough to knock the strongest of men off of their feet. "Perhaps it is best we explain once you calm down" Balin chose his words carefully, not wanting to send the taller figure into a fit of unbearable rage. When Gandalf spoke again, his words were quieter, darker and held every ounce of poison that no person could handle

"I do not wish to calm down" he snarled "I wish to know what has happened to our Burglar. I do not care who explains it to me, Master Balin, but I do wish for these explanations to enter my ears in the next second otherwise the flames of Smaug himself will feel like steam compared to the fire I will use to burn your bones" All of the dwarves gulped and their eyes travelled to their leader whose eyes outlined the scene unfolding before him with a surprising sense of composure. He wasn't exactly on Gandalf's good side and he was on the top of his hit list.

"I ask once more" Gandalf said, his voice low and sent shivers down the youngest of the Company's spine "What. Happened?"

"We were ambushed" the deep, passive voice of the exiled king under the mountain made everybody's eyes stare at him "By Orcs 3 days ago" Thorin Oakenshield's face was betraying all signs of emotion as he took a deep breath and folded his arms, there seemed to be an edge to the action.

"And?" Gandalf cocked his hatted head, inquiring for more information. He looked ready to tackle the arrogant King where he stood, royalty or not.

"Master Baggins was injured during the fight and none of us found out until this morning."

"And why was that, Master Oakenshield?" Gandalf took a step forwards and Dwalin took one closer to Thorin in case the grey wizard lashed out. The axe-wielding dwarf may have not been happy with the actions of his king, but it did not mean he was not to defend him should his safety be put in danger.

"He refused to tell anyone of his wounds, let alone be treated for his developing fever the day before." Oakenshield continued strongly, ignoring the shift in the atmosphere that near enough left most gagging.

"And so you allowed him to suffer?"

"He insisted the same night he did not require nor desire any assistance. He made that very clear."

"I said I'm fine! I don't need your help or your pity! None of you actually care about me; I'm nothing but a lowly hobbit. I don't care if I die, I hate you all!"

"And so you listened to a sick, injured, and most likely delirious, hobbit who was in no control of his actions?! He was ill! Have you no shame?! Hobbits are stubborn creatures when admitting they need assistance but it appears dwarves are most stubborn to notice when those closest to them are hurting!" Gandalf looked around the camp at this and Thorin unfolded his arms.

"Do not take this on the rest of the Company" he growled, features contorting into that of a barbaric snarl.

"And who should I take this out on?"

"Me. I was to blame for the hobbit's injuries in the first place" Thorin looked so confident with his answer. So sure. His nephews could have sworn they saw a hint of guilt in those midnight blue eyes. But as fast as it came, it was gone.

"As a brave action it may be, Thorin Oakenshield, it will not undo what has been done. The damage has been done and it had put the life of a valued member of your company in danger" Gandalf almost hissed. Thorin looked taken aback for a few moments before his cold mask was once more replaced over his face. "You have admitted your mistakes, but admittance is no help for Bilbo." The wizard's eyes held a look that said 'I will talk to you later' before the grey iris' locked onto the form of their Hobbit. Their poor; small; frail; fragile; injured Hobbit.

He should have been there to stop it. Stop all of it. To prevent this from happening. Belladonna and Bungo Baggins would be rolling in their graves.

"Can you do anything? Anything at all?" Thorin asked guardedly, not wanting to sound hopeful

"That remains to be seen" Gandalf murmured dejectedly as he kneeled by the thief, sweeping the bangs of moist curls from a sweaty, pale forehead. Bilbo shuddered at the light touch and clutched at the bedding below him. Gandalf could practically smell the sickness and fever draining off of his body and felt the amount of heat radiating from only his forehead. "Oh, Bilbo" he murmured, brow knotting as his long fingers traced over the purple and blackened veins that ran across his face and disappeared under his shirt. How had the poisoning gotten so bad? Bilbo must have been in excruciating amounts of pain since the wound that had started all this was inflicted.

"Well? Can you do anythin'?" Bofur's curious voice asked from the other side of the camp. He received no answer from the other dwarves of the wizard. Gandalf shook his head, placing a delicate hand on the flaming forehead as he muttered things lowly in a foreign tongue. The hobbit below him gave a small whimper jerking his head to the left before falling limp for the umpteenth time.

"I don't see any difference" Bifur said loudly in Khuzdul from over Gandalf's shoulder where he kept a close eye on the grey male should any harm come to his favourite Hobbit. Gandalf straightened and turned to the rest of the company, a dark look swirling in his eyes.

"Is there anything you can do?" Bofur inquired, a hint of hope in the tone and Gandalf's jaw tightened.

"I might have come, but I cannot save him. The poison has spread too far for even my ability. I have only just managed to lower his fever and stop the spread of the poison. For how long I do not know. We might have only just lost our Burglar for good."

Chapter Text

"I  might have come, but I cannot save him. The poison has spread too far for even my ability. I have only just managed to lower his fever and stop the spread of the poison. For how long I do not know. We might have only just lost our Burglar for good."

The thought of losing Bilbo Baggins made everyone's stomach drop low. Some of the dwarves were almost drawn to tears. They simply couldn't lose him! He was their hobbit!

"But there is absolutely nothing you can do?" Bofur whispered, voice coming out strangled and weak

"No. I cannot" Gandalf said, shaking his head "Perhaps earlier, when the poison was fresh and the wound treated, I might have been able to help. But currently, we must wait. The only thing keeping him alive is his will and his will alone." Bofur opened his mouth to retort but his voice didn't make it when the hobbit in question gave a long, painful, moan and a violent full-body shudder. Silence fell among everyone again as they watched, unaware on how to advance on the situation. Gandalf reacted the quickest, kneeling by the small form under piled of blanket and tapping on a flamed cheek lightly

"Bilbo? Bilbo, can you hear me? Please, my boy…" he murmured desperately

Finally, there was some movement, a twitch really, as the Took's eyes fluttered open. There was a blink of dull, lifeless Gandalf had thought, blue eyes. Once. Twice. The gaze was strange and set off alarm bells in the wizards mind. Bilbo's gaze was cloudy and milky as if… As if he could not see.

"Bilbo?"

There was a small, weak reply. So quiet almost none of the company heard it

"Gandalf? Gandalf are you there?" the wizard stroked his thumb in the hollowed curve of the Baggins' cheek

"I am here my boy" he said, brow knotting in concern.

"Gandalf- I can't- I can't see you." Not a single face around the campfire looked away from the hobbit. Gandalf's stomach dropped low. "Where- where are you? Why can't I see you, Gandalf? What's happened? Gandalf!" his tone was absolutely frantic, his breaths growing panicked and shallow

"Bilbo, please, you must calm down" Gandalf lulled as the pair of translucent eyes darted from left to right.

"Master Gandalf, out of the way" a deep grumble of Khuzdul and a light shove made Gandalf stand and move as Bifur kneeled by the small body of their burglar. He placed his hands on either side of a ghostly pale face and his head on the others forehead, mindful of the axe

"Bilbo" he murmured "Please, be calm"

"B- Bifur? Is that you?" small, almost tiny, hands lifted and groped the air, searching. The grey hair-streaked dwarf moved his head so small fingers poked at the axe spouting from his skull. "Bifur- I-I'm scared" Tears rained down almost colourless cheeks "I can't – I can't see you, I can't see anything. Help me, please Bifur, please. I don't like it" the last sentence came out as a choked whisper and Bifur's hand moved to stroke soggy curls.

"Bifur, I'm scared."


"Wizard" Thorin Oakenshield said quietly, his eyes not leaving the scene in front of him as he leaned in towards Gandalf. His voice was edgy, as if it took great difficulty to speak "What is wrong with him?"

"The poison has spread" Gandalf replied so the most of the company could hear, taking no pleasure in it when their faces grew white and the three youngest burst into tears, older dwarves not far off "So far it has affected his sight. Bilbo Baggins is blind, Thorin. He will remain that way if he is not treated."

"But how are we to find a cure for the poison?" Gandalf sighed, shaking his head.

"I do not know. But we must do what we can." He dipped a long hand into his rope and pulled out a pink flower with a spikey cone in the centre.

"What is that?" Oin asked once he was handed the plant

"Echinacea" the grey haired man said. "It helps with infection and is effective alongside Kingsfoil" The healer nodded gratefully and moved to his patient, slowly moving Bifur, who was still by the hobbit's side, to the left. Bilbo's eyes were seemingly unseeing, his small hands urgently searched for Bifur's who found it and gave a reassuring squeeze.

Oin worked quickly, taking off the blankets and bandages and inspecting the stitched wound despite the fact he had checked it earlier. There was no change but it still remained an alarming shade of infected red. He bunched the flower into a ball and pressed the flower into the wound. The Halfling let out a piercing scream of agony and began to thrash about on his bedroll. Fili, Dwalin and Bofur stood up quickly, ready to jump to help

"OH BY THE GODS IT BURNS!" Bilbo shrieked "IT BURNS! STOP IT! MAKE IT STOP!" his fingernails clawed at his palm while the other gripped onto the gloved hand of Bifur. He threw his head back, mouth wide as yet another scream tore out "PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP!"

Bifur stroked the hobbit's head, making small, shushing noises and rubbing circles in the back of his palm, willing for the pain to go away.

"Bifur…" Bilbo's half-lidded eyes snapped to where he thought the dwarf was before snapping left right and centre "Please, please…" he began to utter the name every member of the company fervently and repeatedly, begging for their help.

"Gandalf, there has to be something to help him!" Dori piped up, rubbing the back of a sobbing Ori who had covered his ears with his hands in an attempt to lock out the cries. "Some of us can't take this anymore!"

"I am trying, Master Dori" Gandalf responded and turned back to Thorin, trying to ignore the wheezes from his burglar "You were attacked by Orcs, weren't you?"

"We were." Oakenshield nodded, folding his arms and clenching his jaw when Bilbo mewled his nephew's name.

"Did you kill them all?"

"No. Some ran away, most likely to regroup with others."

"You must find them."

"What?" the dwarf frowned

"The poison in Bilbo's body cannot be healed by magic however most likely the Orcs will have a cure. Anything can happen during an attack; Orcs would probably hold a cure in case they are hurt by their own blade."

“So… there may be a way to save Bilbo?” Kili sniffed, wiping his nose and a hopeful sparkle in his eyes

“We might still have time to save the lad!” Gloin hollered

“How can you be sure?” Thorin interrupted before the rest of the Company would got ahead of themselves

"Do you have a better plan, Thorin Oakenshield?" Gandalf bit back a snarl when the king opened his mouth

"Thorin…" Baggins whispered and the dwarf stopped, looking at him. Bilbo fell unconscious again. His body was still shockingly stark white. Thorin watched the rise and fall as breaths rattled a thin chest. The poisoned veins was sickly compared to the snowy skin, most was a deep purple but some a charcoal black that had covered at least half of Bilbo's face now.

"We search for the rest of the Orcs at sunrise." He finally announced, much to the joy of some of the company. "For now we rest. Oin, can you keep watch of Bilbo?"

"Aye."

"Good. Dori, you take first watch. Nori, you're second. Whatever Oin needs through the night for Bilbo, you get, do you understand?" A simple nod. There was a light, but angry, tap on his armoured shoulder and he looked up to the grey eyes of Gandalf as he jerked his head to the forest.

We need to talk.

Chapter Text

The look Gandalf gave Thorin that said: ‘We need to talk’ was quite an understatement. It more or less screamed ‘Get your sorry arse over here so I can personally scream at you

Oakenshield had to physically drag himself to follow the grey man, dreading the utter onslaught he was about to receive. However part of him managed to convince the rest of his mind that, in most ways, he deserved it. As they grew further and further away from the camp, he found it harder and harder to believe.

Only when they reached another opening in the trees Gandalf turned suddenly, his robes swishing around him.

“Sit down” he said, his voice devoid of any emotion. Thorin looked around at the blanket of dead autumn leaves surrounding him. “Sit” Gandalf hissed, tone impatient and lacking tolerance that not even Thorin Oakenshield could stand up to. Not a second later, he found himself sitting uncomfortably on the ground, twigs digging into all the wrong places.

Gandalf began pacing furiously and Thorin couldn’t help but note on how out of character the wizard was. He seemed on edge, frantic even. Completely unlike his wisdom-telling and calm self.

“Gandal-” a glowing staff was pointed at his nose

“Do not speak. I’m thinking of ways to tear you limb from limb.” Thorin didn’t know whether he was joking or serious. After 2 minutes of the deafening silence, Gandalf looked at Thorin and the dwarf almost cringed under the attention. He was now really wishing he wasn’t sitting because now he was feeling extremely small.

 “Thorin. Oakenshield.” He began and the leader of the company swore he saw his life flash before his eyes “I left Bilbo Baggins in your care-”

“He was not in my-”

Do not interrupt me!” For first time in his life, Thorin’s mouth snapped shut. Gandalf continued talking, his voice was quiet again, much like earlier, but it held more of an edge.

“I left Bilbo Baggins with you, Oakenshield. I trusted you enough to leave the son of one of my closest companions in your care. I was gone for no more than two weeks.” A pause “And yet somehow, someway you are able to harm Bilbo Baggins both physically and mentally. You have allowed him to get injured and his health to deteriorate to such a low his life has been put in danger.” Gandalf’s voice dropped low on that word and it took almost all of a King’s willpower not to shiver

“I did not think Bilbo was that bad-” Thorin was cut off again

“Exactly, you did not think about your actions. You did not think about what you were doing. Bilbo may be a Hobbit; however he is a stubborn as his mother. He isn’t one to easily ask for assistance, especially around a group of dwarves.” Thorin mentally flinched at that.

 

“He has friends among the company.” Thorin argued “He could have easily gone to them for help during his time of need.” Gandalf shook his head

“Even though, the damage had already been done.”

“I could not have jeopardized our quest for the sake of a single member of our company-”

“Do not speak to me about your quest, Oakenshield. If your pride was not in the way, Bilbo would not be in the very position he is now. He would not be on Yavanna’s doorstep and the rest of the Company already in mourning. Your arrogance is what has put this quest in jeopardy. It does not matter if Bilbo is not your kind or kin, he is part of your company and it is your duty as the leader to take care of every. Last. Member.” Gandalf had gotten close again, face inches away from the raven-haired dwarf’s. “And for failing that before the journey has even begun,” his scrutinizing gaze was shifted to the trees to the side, as if the very sight of the dwarf repulsed him “Many will find it hard to trust you again. The consequences of whatever happens will be yours to bear and yours alone.” Gandalf paused a second time and seemed ready to continue speaking but the sound of a breaking twig filled his ears. Those grey eyes narrowed and searched the bushes beyond before he pulled a face which was close enough to a snarl.

Dwalin was standing a few feet away, axes tied to his back and arms crossed. Of course the larger dwarf would follow. Despite the fact he is enraged beyond words with Thorin Oakenshield; he still must stay loyal to his King and protect him with his life. Thorin is given a look by grey eyes that he thinks mean he can stand up so he does so, brushing off the leaves from his person, Gandalf already walking away.

“You had better hope, Oakenshield,” Gandalf hums, head turning slightly so Thorin could see only half of his face, moonlight dancing across his expression. His face was that of a calm mask however his eyes gave away an unchained fury that could match even a mightier foe than Smaug. “That you retrieve the cure from the Orcs; otherwise you will fear much more than just a Wizard’s wrath.” Thorin gritted his teeth, nodding as Gandalf disappeared from view; then walking back to camp, nudging Dwalin to the side as he passes.

~~

Upon his return, Thorin was not surprised that Gandalf was absent, most likely to gather his thoughts and mutter profanities to the trees and himself.  But what did make him raise an eyebrow was that everyone was surrounding their injured burglar, fussing about doing something wrong and doing it a little carefully.

“What are you all doing?” Thorin demands, knowing better than to charge in. None of the dwarves would dare hurt Bilbo, so no alarm bells were ringing. Everyone jumps and the king feels Dwalin stop behind him, most likely with his arms crossed and eyeing the Company as they part, revealing their burglar, unruly curls now completely off of his face. Thorin’s heart clenched as his cobalt eyes landed on the beads woven into Bilbo’s hair by an amateur braid, obviously done in a rush or by someone who isn’t exactly skilled. He was most definitely not jumping to the conclusion it was Kili.

“And what is this?” he swallowed

“A braid” Ori mumbled, picking at his gloves as he usually did when nervous.

“And the beads?”

We have been working on it for a while.’ Bifur signs eyes not meeting Thorin’s at all. In fact, nobody was meeting his gaze, either staring the floor, their feet or finding the vegetation surrounding them more interesting. Through the firelight, Thorin could see engravings in the wooden bead but he eyes the braid keeping it in place irritating. He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment before walking over to the hobbit, clenching his jaw as some of the Company shuffled a little closer, as if fearing he would hurt their burglar again. They allowed him to kneel by the Baggins.

“You did it wrong.” He murmured, almost in a rebuking manner; hands shaking as he redid the plait into a more suitable knot. His fingers woved carefully and gently through the strands and Thorin couldn’t help but feel how unworthy he was doing such a thing. Braiding ones hair was a sign of family, friendship or love. None of which he had shown before.  And on closer look, the beads definitely had engravings, quite nice ones as well. He nearly choked on air as he recognised the symbols on them.

They were family crests.

There was one for every family in the company. Even the Durin’s crest. Once the job was finished, he heard Bofur speak up, voice raspy as if he were crying. He probably was.

“Bilbo’s part of the family. All of our families. We just thought we’d make it official” with that, he stood and moved to his bedroll, slumping onto it, curling up and supposedly falling asleep. Everyone else followed apart from Dori, Ori and Oin who remained awake to look after Bilbo. Thorin wandered over to his cold bed, taking off his thick coat and boots and tucking himself in, facing the forest and wrapping his arms around himself.

“Dori?” Ori’s voice was small, whispered, but loud enough for Thorin to pick up

“Yes?”

“I don’t want Bilbo to die.”

Thorin could feel his heart shatter into a thousand pieces and the guilt weigh him further than he ever thought possible.

He did not get any sleep that night.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Thorin woke up from his shallow rest to the sound of forceful retching and shouting. He was up in an instant, throwing his blanket to the side and shaking the last effects of sleep to look at the sick member of the Company who was currently bending over a bush- crying- and dry heaving violently, his whole frame shaking with tremors. The dwarf King saw Oin and Ori beside him; rubbing his back and helping him stay on his feet. The rest of the Company who were awake watched from afar, too frozen with fear and shock to actually approach. Thorin noticed thickly that the bile spewing from Bilbo’s mouth was red with blood and black with poison.

“Thorin!” Gandalf turned to the leader from where he watched Bilbo, his eyes were positively ablaze. “We need to find the remaining Orc’s today. Bilbo is getting worse by the minute and-” he broke off once Bilbo let out a rather loud cry of anguish and more bile was expelled from his throat. Gandalf’s voice dropped low “he does not have much time. The poison has spread to his lungs and e is vomiting blood; he will be choking on it soon enough. ” Thorin’s fists were clenched by his side, purely from anger aimed at himself.

“We move as soon as we are prepared.” He replied “Some of the Company will remain here to tend to Bilbo.” The Wizard nodded at that so Thorin took that opportunity to bark at the dwarfs who were accompanying him. Preparation was quick and efficient and under ten minutes, most of the Company was ready and raring to go. Only Oin, Ori, Balin, Bofur and Kili remained and on strict orders (from Gandalf, of course) to keep Bilbo alive until everyone else returned with the cure.

They hoped they would not have to wait long.


 

“Fili, have you picked up anything?” Thorin asked for at least the fourth time in under an hour. His nephew shook his head, picking himself up from where he knelt, fingers prodding the dirt.

“Nothing, Uncle.” He sighed, frustration radiating off of the action. “What if we don’t find them?”

“Then we keep looking.” Gandalf spoke, walking around a small patch of bushes and inspecting the berries there. He murmured something and picked a small handful, putting them away in his grey robes for later.

The company murmured amongst themselves, mostly worried drabbles about Bilbo and how they may never find the Orcs and how their Hobbit would die before they even saw the peak of Erebor.

“Move on.” Thorin grumbled, jaw clenching and unclenching as the dwarves began stomping onwards in one direction. Thorin remained where he was before he placed a hand on Dwalin’s chest before he could continue, effectively stopping him in his tracks.

“Do you see that?” he murmured lowly, the bald individual following his king’s eyes.

“Smoke.” Dwalin replied. “Smoke would mean fire.”

“And fire could mean Orcs.” Thorin finished a small smirk forming. “We move west!” he shouted, gaining his companions attention and then heading towards the origin of the smoke.


 

Darkness. Fire. Ice. Pain. Agony.

Bilbo Baggins’ eyes opened, only to shut them just as fast, whimpering as the light stung his eyes. He jerked his head to the side and moaned, throat raw and stomach feeling like it was set ablaze. It was hot. Too hot. He wheezed, shuddering slightly as he tried to rid himself of what was causing him such discomfort. The moment he moved, however, there was a hand on his shoulder, gripping hard enough to make its presence known but not enough to hurt.

 “Ye with us, lad?” Bilbo hesitated before he peeled his eyes open, this time the sun didn’t attack his eyes and he picked out a grey blob looming over him. Eventually he began to focus and saw Oin looking down on him, a relieved smile on his lips.

“There ye are. We got ya.” Bilbo opened his mouth to speak but the healer shook his head “Best not laddie.” The hobbit nodded slowly in reply before his face creased into a frown. He lifted his hands, ignoring how much they shook, and signed the best he could.

‘Where is everyone?’

He had never been more grateful for Bifur teaching him Iglishmêk when Oin broke into a grin that suited a proud father.

“No need to worry ‘bout them, lad. They’ve gone-” an abrupt pause “-hunting.”

‘For what?’

“Orcs!” Kili said, a bright grin plastered onto his face as he leaned over Bilbo. His eyes, though, betrayed his features. His eyes were sad and melancholy. He was promptly elbowed in the side and away by the older dwarf.”

“Shush!” he hissed and Kili made a face.

“Oooh. Uncle told us not to tell him…” Kili murmured and he was punched in the shoulder by Ori.

‘Why?’

“We’ll tell ye later, why don’t ye go back to sleep?” Bofur piped up from where he sat. His hat was gone and he looked rather worn out.

“Aye, that’s a good idea.” Oin nodded “You’ll need yer rest. Sleep.”

As sceptical as he was, the Baggins did as he was told and closed his eyes.


 

Thorin and the company didn’t waste any time in getting to their new destination; they all ran there and only stopped when they reached the clearing in the forest, panting. They all searched only to find an extinguished campfire.

“But…” Fili whispered, looking and padding around in confusion as Thorin advanced towards the burnt logs. The rest of the company, including Gandalf, remained silent at the outburst, not daring to question it.

“But where could they be?!” he snarled, kicking the remnants of a fire and sending the half-burnt wood into the bushes beyond. There was a hand on his shoulder and he whirled, teeth bared at Dwalin who had a solemn look in his eyes.

“Uncle!” Thorin turned to the voice of his oldest nephew. The blonde dwarf was crouching on the floor, dirt on his left hand as he stared off into the forest. “The tracks lead this way,” Fili pointed somewhere deeper in the forest and looked up at his uncle who clenched his teeth and finished the sentence.

“And towards our camp.”


 

Bilbo listened weakly as those who remained at the camp conversed between themselves silently, believing their patient was asleep. He managed to pick up Oin saying something about Gandalf’s herbs helping his sight. He was still in pain but it was less than what he remembered. Well, of what he remembered. He recalled a lot of screaming and shouting and… fingers in his hair. Subconsciously, a hand shakily carded through his curls and found they had been braided and a bead knotted at the end of it. He didn’t know he was smiling until he felt the tell-tale twitch on his lips. He lowered his hand back down, content on listening to the forest around him.

Why were the birds cawing? He furrowed his brow and opened his eyes a crack just in time to see a slightly large flock of birds squawking and flying up into the air and away from, where Bilbo assumed, was their nest. Why were they flying away from it? That wasn’t right. His ears twitched slightly to the sound of a cracked twig and dried leaves bring crushed. Those steps were too slow. Too light to be an animal’s. Something was not right. His heart sped up when the crunching was seemingly getting closer to the camp and he opened his eyes fully. It couldn’t be the rest of the company. They would have just entered the camp not just sneak up on it. Unless…

Bilbo gasped and shot into a sitting position, crying out when his stitches were pulled. The remains dwarves’ chatter was silenced as they stared at him in surprise. The burglar fell sideways and he caught himself by throwing his hand out.

“Bilbo!” Ori yelled, hand covering his mouth as Oin got up and jogged towards him

“Bilbo!” he reprimanded when the hobbit made a desperate move to stand  “You’re not supposed to be up and walking! What were ye thinking lad?!”

“Be-” Bilbo choked as he felt like his throat was closing in on itself.

“And no talking!” Bilbo shook his head, eyes pleading for the practically deaf dwarf to listen to him. The hair on the back of the hobbit’s head stood on end as he heard more birds screeching nearby and taking off. “I expected that you could listen to just that simple-” Bilbo’s light grip on Oin’s arm hardened, cutting off the upcoming rebuke. “Laddie? Ye alright? You look like ye’v seen a ghost.” By this time, all the dwarves were eyeing him worriedly. The burglar swallowed down the tickle in his throat thickly and squeezed his eyes closed, trying to get his breathing under control before he finally locked eyes with his healer and took a deep breath that made his lungs ache.

Behind you!” Bilbo finally screamed, ignoring the fire the ignited in his throat; his voice loud enough for even Oin to hear without his ear trumpet.

The dwarves only just had time to whirl around as over dozen Orcs burst into the clearing, weapons at the ready and battle cries roaring.

Chapter Text

Hello, all.

Wow- it's been quite some time, hasn't it? My last update was just 3 days before my 15th Birthday over a year ago. I feel bad, I really do. I feel guilty that I haven't gotten anything posted in such a long time; and a lot of you are still there, waiting for an update to this fic. I have to admit, I never expected it to be this popular- on or AO3. There's a lot of you still out there, reading this fic and I love reading each and every comment that comes through, taking whatever critique and compliment there is with a smile.

Life has become busy- hectic even and I'm somewhat all over the place. It's been hard, I won't lie. In December of 2015 I lost my mother to Cancer- and as a low blow as it was, I have lost many more family members since then, and throughout 2016. But I never forgot about any of you- or this story you could say thinking about this is what kept me going in a sense.

I've tried many attempts to get back to this fic- but despite lack of updates, I will never ever abandon it. There are too many people I would disappoint but a lot of you are going to have to bear with me as an update may still not come for another few months. Most likely something will come in 2017, however. And upon rereading this fic, I have to say I'm disappointed in myself from grammatical and punctuation errors and those will be fixed and this story will be added to. But for now, again, you will all have to bear with me. I will get back to More Than Meets the Eye and I will rectify mistakes.

Thanks all,

Rei.

Chapter Text

Hello, all!

I certainly took my damn time with getting back to all of you about this fic (considering I was 15 it was last updated, I am now 17)- and I'm pleased to say that the first step of getting this fic updated and improved if finally, finally underway. Chapter 1 of MTMTE has been edited and updated. Granted, it isn't my finest work as I haven't written any form of fanfiction since the last chapter of this fic, but it's the first step to finally concluding this story.
A side note is that I have now made my own personal Tumblr account under the name of 'arishockles'. Here, you can freely contact me about the progress of any fics, especially MTMTE (or just scream at me).
Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me for the past 2 or even 3 years, please know that your waiting has now come to an end.

Thanks again,

Rei.

Chapter Text

Legs began to carry him in the direction of the camp before anybody could even react. Surprised cried fell upon deaf ears as Thorin Oakenshield ran as fast as his legs could take him—

They were in danger, Kili, Oin, Ori and- Bilbo. By the stone, he prayed to whatever gods were listening to keep them all safe until they got there. Footfalls fell in sync with his own as the rest of the company followed him, a mixture of determination as well as fear set on their features. There was no time to converse, argue amongst one another about the next course of action or whether they were even going in the correct direction towards their camp. All there was was action. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes like hours and Oakenshield hated to admit they he was scared- no, terrified. Not only because members of his company were in danger, but because he had himself to blame.
His sheer stubbornness alone got them all here, if he had treated the hobbi- no. Bilbo. If he had treated Bilbo just that little bit better, he would have been able to console in someone anyone about his injury and they would never have been here in the first place. They would have continued travelling and be closer to their destination. But no- his foolishness had gotten him here and his foolishness would force all of them to remain here unless he changed. A late revelation, but a revelation nonetheless that he hoped he could put to good use before they were forced to find not only a new burglar, but members of the company.

This quest would not end before it started. Not if the Mountainless King had a say in it.


"Behind you!"

Kili's blood ran cold at the screech and he turned just in time for a party of Orcs to burst through the clearing, brandishing weapons of every size and sneers plastered on their faces.

"Protect Bilbo!" Kili demanded and the other dwarves followed suit, forming a loose protective circle around their collapsed hobbit who remained unmoving on the floor, panting in exertion as if he ran a mile with a dragon at his heels. The younger dwarf swallowed down the concern that bubbled up in his chest, stopping him from rushing to the burglar's side and making sure that he was okay., it seemed that the other members of the company with him were also struggling. Not was not the time, it was better to have a half dead burglar than a dead one.

The Orcs had them surrounded, circling them and occasionally darting forward and then retreating backwards- they were taunting them, playing with them much like a predator would with its prey. This, prey, however would not back down.
An Orc took a swipe towards Ori and received a pebble to the face from the small dwarf's catapult. He was soon pushed behind Oin as the healer flourished his staff and growled in warning. Kili had abandoned his bow and arrow, the Orcs were far to close and he had swapped his preferred weapon of choice in fights with twin daggers, swiping uselessly whenever a foe came too close. There may not have been much of a chance that they would all survive but he was planning on taking more than one of them down before he did. A moment passed, then another- and a wordless instruction was passed between the dwarrows and, with a battle cry from Bofur, all four dwarves charged and separate in several different directions, tackling the first Orc in sight and attempting to kill them in one fell swoop.

The fight was swift, easy even- but Kili's guard and will was yet to be broken. He refused to back down even when one foe had been slain- he occasion ally cast a glance to his companions, watching how Oin tripped an Orc up with his staff and then Bofur proceeded to smash its skull with his mattock and swing his weapon into the side of another who snuck up a little too close to Ori. So much fighting and bloodshed that Kili had forgotten about his main objective- and hit seemed his friends had as well. When he believed his last foe had been slain, a single word had cut through the haze of combat fuelled mind.

Bilbo, he thought, his eyes widening in realisation to their grievous mistake and head snapping in the direction of where he remembered they had foolishly left their Hobbit- and met the eyes of an Orc, holding Bilbo up by the throat, his other hand holding a dagger which was pressed to the Baggins' purple throat.

"Step no further, dwarves, or the halfling will taste an Orc's blade for a second time." He sneered and the whimper that bubbled from the Hobbit's throats made Kili stop in his tracks, halting his movements. He refused to let panic set in just yet, he had to be strong- just like his Uncle. Strong and stoic (but by no means arrogant and stubborn).

"It is poisoned, yes?" the Orc continued, "We knew it was- we saw it go down in the last ambush." Bofur took a step forward, poised and ready to fight but the blade pressed insistently into the poor Halfling's throat was enough warning for him to stop in his tracks.
"It is a stubborn creature, we are surprised it still lives. Not for long, though, it will die soon-" a pause as the creature's fingers wrapped around a vial which housed a green coloured liquid.
"Without this." The Orc's smirk smiled once he saw the flash in Kili's eyes.

The antidote.

"What do you want, Orc?" Kili's eyes flashed with anger, his grip tightening on the blades smeared with Orc's blood. He could throw them, aim them right at the damned creature's head- but what if he missed? What if Bilbo was hit? He couldn't risk it- nor could he live with the guilt.

"Oakenshield." Silence hung in the air, much like a dead man at the end of a noose.

"Right behind you, foul creature."

Thorin.

As soon as the words had been uttered, a blade was forced through the head of the Orc- killing it instantly. A merciful death for a creature as disgusting as it was, but it meant that the danger- mercifully was over. The rest of the company soon emerged from the clearing, panting and clearly exhausted from running but looked relieved to see those left behind were safe and sound.

"Took you long enough." Oin griped, nudging Gloin with a sour look on his face, "Any later and- Bilbo!" and reprimand was put on hold as the Halfling's legs gave out on him. While Bilbo half expected to meet the cold and unforgiving floor, he was instead greeted by warm and strong arms. Wide and alarmed cobalt eyes met his own and it surprised him when he released just who was holding him. Thorin Oakenshield. The King was saying something but there was a rushing in Baggins' ears, so he tried to read his lips.

"I have you Bilbo. I'm sorry- I am so sorry."

I'm sorry.


 

"Bilbo is down, find the antidote- quickly you fools, quickly!" Before the sentence had fallen from Gandalf's lips, the dwarves were already searching through the bodies of their felled foes, frantically checking belts and pockets in vain. The Hobbit had gone down only moments before and son fell still, an occasional twitch the only hint to show the onlookers that he was in fact still alive. His breaths were shallow, unnoticeable and the purple in his veins still seemed to be growing.

"Here!" Kili exclaimed, extracting the vial he had seen the Orc holding earlier from his hands and pushing it into Gandalf's awaiting hands.

"Save him Gandalf, please, save him."

The wizard was silent as he cupped the back of Bilbo's head and let his jaw fall slack. The vial was uncorked, and the thick green liquid was poured into the hobbit's mouth and fingers soothed it down. The company swarmed around the wizard, the hobbit and the King, expectant and hopeful.

"Is he okay?" a voice asked.

"Will he live?" another asked.

"Something is wrong…" Gandalf murmured, brows drawn together in concern and confusion. "The poison should have stopped spreading." In the corner of his eye, he saw a large hand encompass Bilbo's small and pale one, holding on tight- a comfort for whoever was holding it or Bilbo, the man did not know.

"What? What do we do. Gandalf? What do we do?!" Thorin hissed, his grip and tightening around a pale shoulder. All was silent until Gandalf met his eyes, eyes shining with… hope? Fear? No… his eyes were shining with tears.

"I do not know."

"We have to do something!" Thorin whispered, shoulders slumping in horror and realisation that they may all have been too late. There was crying, now, but Oakenshield did not have the energy to lift his head from where he was staring at the Halfling's face to see who it was.

"Mahal, Bilbo." Thorin could not hide how his voice cracked ever so slightly as he spoke, "Please- please come back to us. We are not yet ready to say goodbye."