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Pussy Willow and Pomegranate

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Bilbo Baggins should have known immediately that something was amiss the first time he felt the urge to press his fingers in the dirt and plant an orange tree right at his very feet. The company was resting in Beorn’s home, and there were plenty of gardens surrounding the buildings there, filled with a variety of vegetables and lovely looking plants to be honest. But there were no orange blossoms, it definitely needed orange blossoms. Bilbo frowned at the thought as he regarded the well-tended to grounds oddly. He was a Hobbit after all, and all Hobbits liked growing things, but Bilbo had never been overly keen on spending his time doting after the plants in Bag End, so it was strange that he was overcome with such a powerful urge to do so. And in the middle of an adventure of all times. He chalked it up to homesickness and shook his head, going about his day, though he couldn’t manage to get the image of beautiful white orange blossoms out of his mind, no matter how hard he tried.

The company began their travels into the thick of Mirkwood, and Bilbo still occasionally felt a strange itch in his fingers. He yearned for the soil around them, caked beneath his nails, despite the decrepit nature of it. The only thing that kept Bilbo from straying off and rolling in the dirt were the strict orders to stick to the path. He wasn’t so inept that he couldn’t do at least that, no matter how much he longed to surround his body with plants and drag his toes through freshly hewn land.

Oddly enough, his yearning came back tenfold while he was staring into the many eyes of a giant talking spider. He held his sword aloft, blinking at the sight of goo encrusted pincers, and all he could think about was pussy willow. There wasn’t enough pussy willow in the forest, in fact none. Never mind that it certainly wouldn’t thrive in such a location. Bilbo needed to plant some, immediately in fact. Instead he cut off the spider’s leg and ran for it.

Bilbo was of course a traditional hobbit, the kind that ate six meals a day and still had room for more if given the opportunity. So it wasn’t unusual that he was hungrier than normal as he sneaked around Thranduil’s kingdom with his magic ring upon his finger. He’d gone for several days without much more than a nibble and his belly ached accordingly. What was strange however, was his intense craving for pomegranate. He’d even managed to find some stores of well-aged cheese and been unable to stomach it, only desiring the rich and sweet taste from pomegranate seeds. The Gamgees back home in the Shire grew the juiciest, reddest pomegranates on shrubs and trees throughout their yard. Bilbo wished he had some of the seeds. He’d dig his nails right into the solid floors of Thranduil’s halls if he had to and plant one or two of them. He’d even sit and watch them grow, no matter how long it took. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how one looked at it, Bilbo did not have those seeds, so he searched the halls until he found a way to free the dwarves from their cells.

The barrel ride proved difficult and exhausting for Bilbo. He felt much like a wet dog afterward. He was irritable and noticeably grumpy, though amongst a company of even grumpier dwarves he blended right in. The source of his irritability however, was perhaps not what one might expect. While his thoughts should probably have been preoccupied with orcs, and elves, perhaps mountains that needed reclaiming, he wanted nothing more than to walk into the nearby foliage and plant an entire row of day lilies. Bilbo frowned at his feet in a surly manner, and wrung out his clothes fiercely. There was just no way. He refused to admit it. Bilbo didn’t even like day lilies, they reminded him too much of his mother. But the urge was there and it frustrated him immensely.

The hobbit scowled for a solid minute, ignoring the complaining of the rest of the company. He finally scoffed and shook his head, stomping away to the side in a huff. His feet slapped against the ground and he mumbled incoherently, his hands finding a place at the sides of his hips. He glanced at the other dwarves, his eyes straying towards one in particular. He studied Thorin briefly, a flash of longing in his eyes, his cheeks flushing lightly as he recalled the feeling of callused fingers running across his skin, but he quickly pulled his gaze away. No, no, definitely not. Bilbo growled one last time and made to move further towards the trees, but his foot crunched atop something on the ground and his legs flew out beneath him. He tumbled to the ground awkwardly and curled his toes once he came to his wits, peering between them at the culprit. Before him, looking incredibly innocuous, sat a plump and very pristine pinecone. Bilbo felt his eyebrow twitch and he narrowed his eyes at the thing, but it didn’t budge.

“Bollocks,” Bilbo whispered. There was simply no denying it any longer. He pulled his legs back gingerly and slouched a bit, his face frozen in some sort of awkward grimace.

“Bilbo, you’ve gotten yourself into a right pickle, haven’t you?” he muttered, his nails dragging lightly through the dirt at his sides. He sat there feeling rather sorry for himself for quite some time, until someone approached and settled on the ground beside him.

“Mr. Baggins?” a kindly voice spoke to his right, and when Bilbo turned to look he was met with Bofur’s still somehow smiling face.

“I couldn’t help but notice you seem a bit…distraught. I mean obviously all of us are a little out of sorts, a bit weary around the edges, you might say. None of us fancy being holed up in a dungeon or riding down perilous rapid waters in no more than leaky wooden barrels. I imagine you’re much the same in that respect. But still, I can’t help but notice your brow is a bit more strained than usual. Is something the matter?” Bofur asked, his voice somehow still cheery and his eyes crinkled at the sides. Bilbo sighed heavily and tried to offer the dwarf a smile, but all he managed was a slight lift at the corner of his lips, and the muscles in his cheeks trembled with the effort.

“You…might say that,” Bilbo answered. He glanced back at the company, who seemed to be planning their next move, and preparing to continue the journey. Thorin was ordering the dwarves to gather supplies and Bilbo couldn’t help but watch him. Even when exhausted and angry the dwarf was somehow captivating for him. Bilbo sniffled once and pulled his gaze towards the dwarf beside him. Bofur was still waiting for him to elaborate, looking ready to listen, and perhaps that’s what Bilbo really needed for the time being. Someone he could share his secret with. He leaned over and whispered into the other dwarf’s ear, then pulled back, waiting for a reaction. Bofur seemed confused, and he tilted his head to the side, and then studied Bilbo up and down.

“Are you sure?” Bofur asked, one hand clamped beneath his chin as he pondered things further.

“Yes, yes I’m sure,” Bilbo spoke, nodding quickly. His fingers had unconsciously pressed further into the soil and he pulled them out and shook off the dirt before entangling his hands together in his lap. Bofur’s eyes were impossibly wide, and he looked towards the company’s dark and brooding leader with a goofy grin.

“Well, you have to tell him,” the chipper dwarf urged, but Bilbo wasn’t so sure. He looked towards Thorin once more. He was the surliest, the most impatient, the quickest to anger, and he hadn’t looked Bilbo’s way once since...well for many days. Bilbo deflated, and shook his head, not sure how he could possibly tell such a thing to Thorin Oakenshield.

“He’ll be happy, I know it!” Bofur encouraged, even as Thorin shouted an irate command to one of his nephews and urged them to stop slacking off. Bofur cringed and rubbed Bilbo’s back in a soothing motion, though it did little to ease the hobbit’s inner turmoil.

As luck would have it, he didn’t get the chance to speak to the dwarf until many days later, when the company was climbing the remaining distance to the mountain. It was Durin’s Day, and Thorin was in a particular rush. He urged them on edgily, and refused to wait for Gandalf’s return. Bilbo knew it was not a good time to broach such a subject, but he worried, as he looked up at the mountain top, that if he did not that day, he might never have an opportunity to do so. Bofur was sending him occasional obvious looks, and tilting his head meaningfully towards the dwarf king. Bilbo huffed as he climbed up the jagged rocks behind the other dwarves and mustered all of his courage, of which he’d been told he had plenty, for a hobbit that is. It took several minutes, but finally he managed to skip towards the front of the group and match the dwarf king’s wide stride. He wasn’t a coward after all, oh no. He was part Took, and he could very well speak to a dwarf when necessary about a simple matter, even if that dwarf was an infuriating, stubborn idiot. Except that it wasn’t really a simple matter at all.

“Thorin, do you have a moment, just…a word…in private,” Bilbo voiced, breathing heavily as he moved his legs faster than normal. Thorin spared him a single glance, his gaze firmly set on the path up the side of the mountain.

“Is this important? The end of Durin’s Day approaches quickly, we must find the door before sunset,” Thorin stated impatiently, and his pace did not slow. Bilbo paused just long enough to sigh heavily and he groaned and hurried back to the dwarf’s side once more.

“Please, Thorin, just a moment,” Bilbo asked once more, and he knew he sounded worried and more than a little desperate. The other dwarf merely frowned in annoyance and it took a touch to his arm to stop him.

“Please,” Bilbo begged, and Thorin eyed him strangely, glancing at the other dwarves of the company and toward the mountain before looking into the hobbit’s eyes. The last time he’d done so had been many weeks prior, and Bilbo flushed and nervously looked away. Thorin stepped off to the side, beckoning him to follow and once they were out of earshot he looked down at the Hobbit fixedly.

“Well?” his deep voice urged Bilbo to explain and the hobbit knew the longer he took to say the words, the less likely Thorin would wait around much longer to hear them. Still it was difficult to say much of anything under the scrutiny of the dwarf, and he fiddled a bit with his jacket. The blue material was coarse, and not nearly as nice as the red overcoat he’d donned when his journey first began. He let go of the fabric and slapped his hands against his sides, sensing Thorin’s obvious aggravation.

“I’m…I’m with child,” Bilbo stuttered slightly, feeling it was best to just get it out. Despite the slight rise in his voice the words were clear, and he felt relieved after having spoken them. However, when he looked up at Thorin’s face the other sported no reaction. Thorin’s eyes seemed almost glazed over, and he stared at Bilbo blankly, almost as though he was still waiting for the hobbit to begin speaking.

“I’m going to have a baby Thorin,” Bilbo spoke again, and it was much easier to do so the second time for some reason. Thorin still did little more than gaze at him, though his eyes did noticeably veer lower to study Bilbo’s form. They lingered somewhere around the hobbit’s midsection, and now Bilbo was the one beginning to feel annoyed.

“Thorin?” Bilbo asked, waiting for any sort of response, and he felt his foot tapping anxiously on the ground.

“Thorin!” Bilbo shouted, and he must have startled the dwarf, for Thorin flinched and pulled his gaze back up to the hobbit’s face in an instant.

“You don’t look any different, how can you be so sure?” Thorin snapped, his voice a bit rougher than normal. Bilbo frowned at him and clenched his fingers tightly together.

“Well, because,” he began, gesturing oddly to his sides at nothing in particular, trying to figure out how he could possibly explain such a thing to a dwarf.

“Because…I want to plant things,” he explained with a shrug and Thorin’s brow twitched.

“You want to plant things,” the dwarf repeated and Bilbo nodded enthusiastically.

“And not just any things, but specific things, things that…look I know what flowers mean, all hobbits do, and you don’t just wake up in the morning with the urge to have a garden full of pussy willow and pomegranate trees!” Bilbo exclaimed, as though it was plain as day. Thorin nodded slowly, his mouth slightly agape.

“I would think not,” he muttered, his blue eyes narrowing and watching the smaller being in interest.

“I should have known with the orange blossoms. But I have always thought them beautiful, so it wasn’t that hard to convince myself I just missed the Shire,” Bilbo continued, his head tilted to the side thoughtfully.

“Orange…blossoms?” Thorin muttered, and his brow was furrowed in a strange way, making him appear confused and more than a little bit ill.

“But the day lilies really are the final straw; they are simply just not something I would ever want to plant unless I was having a baby boy,” Bilbo mentioned casually, pointing his finger wildly and shaking it back and forth. Thorin’s mouth opened and closed several times and his eyes widened just a touch.

“A…a boy?” the dwarf wheezed, suddenly feeling as though his lungs had emptied of air. Bilbo crossed his arms about his chest and nodded convincingly.

“Oh yes, day lilies always mean boys. My mother filled the gardens surrounding Bag End with them while pregnant with me. They were everywhere when I was growing up, it wasn’t until her passing that I had them all removed…,” Bilbo trailed off a bit sadly, and his eyes slid low as he became lost in a memory. Thorin’s eyes were wide, and his fingers were hanging limply at his sides.

“Is it mine?” the dwarf’s low tenor sounded, drawing Bilbo’s attention to his face again. The Hobbit frowned in surprise.

“What?” He said, scandalized by the implication, and Bilbo’s face morphed into an expression of absolute revulsion.

“Of course it’s yours, you insufferable dwarf!” Bilbo shouted, drawing the attention of the nearby company as their acquaintances froze and observed the brewing quarrel with interest.

“Of all the…how dare you imply such a thing!” Bilbo accused, and for once Thorin felt an unfamiliar flush begin to fill his face. Bilbo huffed loudly and turned about-face, skittering off in a hurry before the dwarf had a chance to even utter a word.

“Wait..I…that’s,” Thorin struggled, his hand raised as though to halt the other, but he reacted far too late. Thorin stood frozen; his fingers hanging inelegantly in the air as he watched the hobbit’s back disappear beyond a lift in the rocks. The other dwarves approached cautiously, but one of his nephews slung an arm about his shoulder and laughed heartily.

“Nicely done, oh great leader. You really know the way to a hobbit’s heart uncle!” Kíli teased, and he was met with a glare so seething that he quickly backed away, hands raised in the air in apology.

The stress had overtaken him and once Bilbo settled down atop the rocky surface he finally gave in and dug into the ground, just letting his fingers linger in the soil. It wasn’t exactly the kind of nurture he craved. The dirt was too hard, and cool to the touch, and there were very few plants that managed to thrive in such a mountainous region. But it calmed him, eased his nerves.

He should have known better. He didn’t even know what came over him. Bilbo certainly wasn’t the sort to go gallivanting around and jumping willy-nilly into bed with the nearest being. But that night on the carrack, something had felt so different about the dwarf king. He’d been…happy, joyous even. Perhaps Bilbo had eaten a few too many wild berries at dinner, but when Thorin approached him, saying not a single word, instead kissing him gently and leading him away from the prying eyes of the company, Bilbo had not fought him off. He’d been all too happy to let the dwarf have his way, and well…let’s just say that Bilbo wasn’t exactly chaste any more. He flushed deeply at the thought, recalling the memory of their joining. Bilbo removed one of his hands from the ground and brought it back to rest against his belly. His eyes lingered there, and he clenched his brow together tightly.

He was the fool, not Thorin.

Of course the dwarf was surprised. Surely Thorin had not intended to make such a commitment to him. Surely the dwarf had only needed to touch another being, and Bilbo had been the most willing and easy to sway at the time. It was no matter, in just a few days his job would be finished, and he’d be on his way back to the Shire. He was just beginning to predict the reactions of his neighbours when a throat clearing pulled his attention to the side. Bilbo half expected Bofur, as the dwarf was always eager to lend an ear, but to his surprise it was Thorin, and the dwarf was looking at him with a foreign expression set upon his features.

“I did not mean to insult you,” Thorin spoke, looking like he was struggling to form a sentence.

“It’s just that…I was not expecting-,” the dwarf began.

“To have a child with a hobbit. It’s fine, I get it. I know you wouldn’t want to settle down with someone so simple minded as me, I’m just your company’s burglar after all,” Bilbo interjected quickly, rambling on as he often did when upset.

“That’s not...,” Thorin tried to respond but he was only interrupted again.

“After we get your mountain back I’ll just go back to the Shire and you can forget all about it, I don’t expect anything,” Bilbo reassured, looking away and back towards the rolling hills to the west.

“I…,” Thorin’s voice was gruff, and he failed to get out another word.

“I suppose you would prefer someone a bit more adventurous to share your bed and future with. I know I’m nothing special when it comes to appearances and well…further activities. Even if you did wish to find a mate with a hobbit, I can admit that I’m not the most experienced of hobbits from the Shire. Why, I’m almost certain Lobelia has seen the inside of near all the homes built in Hobbiton, and not in the respectful way of course,” Bilbo uttered, his fingers still pleasantly buried in the soil.

“Bilbo Baggins!” Thorin shouted, finally drawing his attention and silencing the hobbit.

“That is not what I meant,” the dwarf expressed in a low tone. Bilbo blinked at him and shifted the best he could with his fingers still encased in the ground, when Thorin moved to sit beside him. The silence between them lasted for several moments and Bilbo could faintly hear the company gossiping excitedly not so far away.

“I do not regret our time together. I merely, did not think it was possible, such a thing…between a dwarf and a hobbit. You’ve caught me by surprise,” Thorin admitted, and Bilbo scoffed at him. Instead of getting angry, as the hobbit expected, Thorin merely smiled and reached to pull one of his hands from the ground. The dwarf entwined their fingers, and even at the loss of contact with the soil, Bilbo still felt a feeling of calm embrace him.

“I’m not a young dwarf,” Thorin confessed as he played idly with a few of Bilbo’s fingers.

“I never imagined I would find…my one, and that we might have children together,” he turned to look at Bilbo fondly, and the hobbit’s eyes widened the barest amount.

“Y-your one?” Bilbo stuttered in surprise, and he was caught in the other’s piercing blue gaze. It brought a flush to his cheeks and reminded him once again of their shared night together.

“I was…inconsiderate towards you. I’ve not been very attentive. I’ve been in such a hurry to get here, the sight of the mountain just…urged me to continue, regardless of the consequences. And suddenly, I’m not quite sure what to do anymore,” Thorin acknowledged, and Bilbo swallowed and tightened his fingers around the dwarf’s solid hand. Thorin’s eyes were studying him intently, and again they paused at his belly.

“You’re sure it’s a boy?” Thorin asked as the corner of his mouth rose up in a tiny grin.

“Oh yes, no doubt whatsoever. It’s always day lilies for boys,” Bilbo confirmed, feeling a little bit lighter than before. They sat beside each other, watching as the sun drew ever lower in the sky and the clouds moved in irregular patterns above them. Bilbo figured they would have to move soon, or they’d lose the light. He was just pondering getting up when he felt Thorin place something in his palm. Bilbo looked towards his hand, pulling the object closer to his face.

“What’s this?” he muttered, studying it and twisting it about. His eyebrows rose ever so slightly as he recognized the unique shape of the nut.

“You mentioned wanting to…plant things,” Thorin voiced, and Bilbo eyed him with an open expression.

“An…an acorn?” he stammered, holding it gently between his thumb and forefinger.

“It’s the best I can do. I’m afraid that oranges and pomegranates aren’t readily available in these parts. When Dale was still bustling with trade, perhaps, but now you’d be lucky to find little more than a wild raspberry. Pussy willow maybe, if one knows where to look, which I don’t. And admittedly I wouldn’t know a day lily if it was right before my eyes,” the dwarf continued, gesturing to their surroundings.

“But oak trees are everywhere. And they are very important to dwarves, as are…children,” Thorin disclosed, looking towards Bilbo carefully. His eyes were filled with an emotion that he often kept hidden. It made the hobbit shiver in anticipation.

“Perhaps we might plant it together? Somewhere we can watch it grow,” Thorin suggested, and Bilbo felt heat engulf his entire being. His eyes were becoming suspiciously moist and he tugged the acorn close to his heart.

“Thorin…,” Bilbo whispered, biting his lip and closing his eyes. He leant to the side, slumping against the other’s shoulder and he smiled when he felt the heavy weight of Thorin’s chin atop his head. Not much later Bilbo cleared his throat and pulled away, standing up quickly and stretching out his arms.

“We should get moving soon, the sun will set, and you need to find that door,” Bilbo urged, looking up towards the climb they still had ahead of them. He didn’t get an immediate response and he turned to look back at the dwarf. Thorin was still sitting, looking at him passionately, and he appeared in no rush to get moving.

“Thorin?” Bilbo uttered, and he watched as Thorin stood, took a deep breath and stepped towards him. The dwarf sidled up behind him and slid arms about his waist, and his strong hands came to rest atop Bilbo’s abdomen.

“Suddenly…my priorities have shifted,” Thorin whispered, tugging their bodies close together and Bilbo gasped slightly as he lay his hands atop the dwarf’s bigger ones.

“Let’s wait for Gandalf,” Thorin decided, and Bilbo turned his head in surprise.

“But…you…the company, after coming all this way,” Bilbo faltered, his fingers tightening atop the dwarf’s heavy arms.

“They will understand,” Thorin assured the hobbit, before he pressed a kiss to the point of his ear. Bilbo felt dazed as he watched the sun continue to lower and he listened to the droning sounds of the dwarves laughing in the distance. None of them approached to urge them forwards, and Thorin seemed content to stay where they were for an indefinite amount of time. Bilbo leant into his embrace with a soft intake of air, imagining what the hills all around them would look like covered in hundreds of vibrant day lilies. He smiled as he envisioned an oak tree sprouting somewhere in the centre, and a little dark haired boy running about it chasing butterflies on the wind.