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Better Than all the Gold in the Mountain

Chapter Text

The sky was a fuzzy mixture of blue and white as it shone bright above her. She was groggy, she couldn't see right, and the far off sounds of swords clashing and shouting was reaching her ears. Faint screeching could be heard. "The eagles are coming," she said faintly, smiling at the large birds swooping past. She stared for a few more moments before shaking her head blankly to clear her mind and her eyes. She turned, and her eyes widened as she realized what she was seeing.
The sun was glistening off of the dark ice, making the scene before her all the more graphic. Thorin- her Thorin, her One- was there, near the edge of the waterfall's ice, breathing harshly with eyes squeezed shut, face contorted in pain. She suddenly found her bearings, and the edges of reality were no longer fuzzy. She rushed to his side. "Thorin!" His eyes blinked open, focusing hazily in at her.
"Bilba." He smiled weakly up at her, his face distorting in pain and sorrow. "I'm-Bilba, I'm so sorry for what I did to you. You do not deserve someone so-", he coughed violently, breathing shakily. "So selfish." Her hands fluttered over his face nervously, and she could feel the tears dripping down her cheeks.
"Do not- Thorin, you're not. You weren't yourself. I forgive you, please, don't leave me here." He touched her face gently, other hand planted firmly over the wound in his stomach.
"Don't cry, Bilba. I am glad you have found it inside yourself to forgive me where I had wronged you." He took a great shuddering breath. "I am proud to call you my One. If everyone were concerned with the wellbeing of others like you, the world would be merrier." He smiled at her once more, wiping the tears from her cheeks as he brought his hand back down. "Goodbye, Mistress Burglar." Bilba's eyes widened as Thorin's fluttered closed.
"Thorin? Thorin, no, please don't," she cried, fresh tears streaming down her face. She kissed his forehead, whispering nothings to him. She glanced down at his wound, wincing through her tears at the blood pooled on his stomach. And with a start she realized that his chest was still faintly rising and falling. "Alive! You're alive, thank the stars, oh oh oh." She wiped the tears from her cheeks and elevated Thorin's head on her lap. She wondered faintly if she'd be able to carry him down the slope. She very highly doubted it, but it was worth a shot.

Gandalf was the one who found her, stumbling blindly towards the halls of Erebor, weak, cold, tired, and covered in blood. Thorin was pale and unconscious on her back, and she’d managed to wrap her coat around his wound to staunch the bleeding. “Bilba Baggins!” he thundered at her, rushing across the battlements to aid her. “What are you doing with-is that Thorin?” Bilba grunted in response, nodding heavily.
“Please help me get him to Oin, Gandalf, he gravely injured. I fear he could die!” she said in a hoarse voice, throat parched from the long haul down the mountain. Her tears had stopped falling a long while ago, and her entire body felt numb from the cold wind that was whipping snow around her. She barely registered what Gandalf shouted, weakly wanting to collapse and perhaps sleep for a lifetime. Somehow she found the strength to stand, but only until the great weight of Thorin was lifted from her shoulders by Dain and Dwalin. She promptly collapsed sideways, and was deftly caught by a pair of arms that happened to belong to Bofur.
“Bilba, what happened?” he asked, helping to keep her steady.
“I-I don’t know,” she stuttered, trying to regain her footing. “I was knocked out, and when I woke up he was bleeding over the ice.” Bofur shuddered and helped her walk back to the mountain, slower than the procession that was carrying Thorin. She rubbed her eyes, hoping that new tears wouldn’t appear in front of the company.
“It’s no matter now, we’ll find out when he wakes up,” Bofur said steadily, carefully stepping over the body of an orc.
“He’ll be alright, won’t he?” she asked fearfully, stumbling briefly. Bofur looked at her, frowned slightly, and led her into the slowly warming halls of the mountain.
“I don’t rightly know, Bilba,” Bofur said slowly, helping her over to sit. “Are you alright?” he asked suddenly, changing the subject as she sat down. She grasped her head, aware that the fuzziness had returned. She shrugged, looking over Bofur until she could spot the top of Thorin’s head, lost amidst a crowd of Dwarves, who were all unceremoniously shoved away by a very angry Oin.
“I don’t know how you expect me to fix him up if you won’t bugger off!” he shouted, shoving them away from their king and immediately beginning to work. Bilba wiped her cheeks, afraid of the worst, and looked back at Bofur.
“Are Fíli and Kíli alright?” she asked solemnly. She hadn’t seen them since the Company had joined the battle. Bofur shook his head, pointing to a secluded corner that was separated from the rest of the hall by a makeshift wall of broken stone, with a door made from a battered piece of fabric that Bilba recognized as one of their sleeping packs. Her blood ran cold and she looked at him with wide, tearful eyes.
“NO-I mean, they’re not fine, but they’ll live,” he explained quickly. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“May I see them?” she asked quietly, dearly wanting to. She also needed a distraction from Thorin’s current situation. Bofur shrugged.
“I don’t know why not. Sure. But I think you should drink something first.” She nodded in agreement, but before she could bring herself to stand, Bofur hopped up. “I’ll get it for you. Stay here.” He rushed away, weaving between the many unfamiliar dwarves who had arrived for the battle and out of sight. Bilba glanced around the entry hall. The light from the sunset was filtering in the opening, reflecting red and orange off of the pillars. Many of Dain’s men were lighting torches and lamps, lighting the hall quite well. Then her eyes shifted to a familiar, yet unknown face coming towards her.
The dwarf was wearing a deep blue tunic that went to her mid thighs, dark grey trousers that were tucked into heavy boots. She looked as if she’d been wearing armor earlier, as she still had the mail on. Her sleeves were pushed up to her elbows and her arms were stained pink by what Bilba could only assume was blood. Her face was stony, dark hair pulled back into a neat braid, as was her beard. Her dark eyes reminded her of Kíli, and it was when the dwarf stopped in front of her that she realized who she was looking at.
“Are you Mistress Baggins?” she asked, voice laden with sorrow and a hint of regal stubbornness that Bilba was very used to.
“Just Bilba, please. Are you Thorin’s sister?” She nodded, a piece of loose hair slipping over her shoulder.
“Dís of line Durin, sister to Thorin, mother to Fíli and Kíli.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Lady Dís,” Bilba said, attempting to stand, but Dís shook her head.
“You need to rest, Mistress Baggins. You carried my brother halfway down the mountain to save him. I will forever be thankful to you.” Her hand rested on Bilba’s shoulder. Bilba blinked her eyes to keep from crying.
“I only hope it worked,” she whispered, taking a deep breath. Bofur chose this time to return, coming to a halt when he spotted who was with Bilba.
“My lady Dís,” he said with a short bow. “I hadn’t realized you’d arrived.” He handed the flask of water to Bilba, who wasn’t able to drink very much of it. Dís spoke a quick greeting in Khuzdul before turning her attention back to Bilba, who sipped her water very carefully.
“I want to know more about your quest, Mistress Baggins,” she commented, removing her hand from Bilba’s shoulder, “But I must return to my sons.” Bilba straightened where she sat.
“Lady Dís, I-may I accompany you? I haven’t seen them since they came into battle.” Dís’s eyes softened, and she nodded. Bofur helped her to her feet, and Dís led the way to her war-damaged sons.
“Bilba!” Kíli’s voice was hoarse, but happy at her appearance. He had a bandage wrapped around his head and one around his left leg, but other than that, he looked fine. Fíli was fast asleep on his cot, and looked worse for wear than his little brother. An arrow had pierced his shoulder, and had been removed quickly, but his whole arm was bandaged, though Bilba knew there was probably an unseen wound there as well. His face had several gashes, which had been deftly stitched up. And his right leg appeared to broken. But he snored with a tranquility that reminded Bilba of the quest.
“Hello, Kíli,” she said, smiling and going to his side. “Are you alright?” He gave her a smile.
“I’ve been better.” She nodded, glancing down at his wounds. “Where were you?” he asked, suddenly serious. “You’ve been gone since before the battle ended.”
“I was knocked unconscious,” she said sheepishly. “And then I carried Thorin down the mountain.” Kíli’s face turned stony.
“He didn’t deserve that, Bilba.” She glowered at him. “Don’t give me that look. We all knew what he did.” Dís was listening very closely to her conversation while changing Fíli’s bandages.
“He apologized. He had Dragonsickness, Kíli, he wasn’t himself. And I’ve forgiven him.” He frowned, but did not press further, instead pulling Bilba in closer.
“Have you seen Tauriel?” Bilba gave him a questioning look.
“No, why?” His expression turned pained.
“I tried to protect her, that’s how I got this,” he said, pointed to the bandage on his head. “I don’t know if she’s alright.” Bilba’s expressions softened.
“If I see her, I’ll tell her.” Kíli gave a sigh.
“Thank you, Bilba.”

Chapter Text

The night was long, hard, cold, and filled with an unrelenting awakeness. Bilba had eaten a little and found her strength, and made her way to sit at Thorin’s side. His breathing was stronger and less laborious than it had been on the battlefield, and his wounds had been tended to by Oin. “I’m fairly certain he’ll live,” he’d said at the beginning of the night, “But his fate’s in Mahal’s hands now.” He’d given her the task of washing the dirt from Thorin as best she could without removing the bandages, which was something she was sure she’d be able to handle.
Because of the relative simplicity of the process of removing dried blood and dirt from skin, she let her mind wander to more pleasant places than the present. She thought of her parents, she thought of her lovely little smial, but most of all, she thought of Thorin. She’d liked him from the beginning, which was something she could very honestly say. She wasn’t sure when he’d developed feelings for her, but she knew it had been sometime around when they’d encountered the trolls. After she’d managed to distract the trolls for long enough for the sun to rise, Thorin looked at her with a new respect. Their obvious attraction towards each other was the talk of the company, and it embarrassed Bilba, but Thorin didn’t mind. Or at least he didn’t show it.
The first bead he’d put in her hair was after she’d saved him in the Misty Mountains. Ori’d told her what it meant afterwards, when they were setting up camp for the night. “You must not know much about courtin’, Miss Bilba,” he’d said with a laugh, working on his knitting. Bilba had started at the subject of courting-she wasn’t sure they were, in the first place. It was a few days later when Thorin actually asked her to court him; she’d turned a glorious shade of scarlet before accepting, and he’d given her one of his heart-melting smiles. Really, she was in too deep.
He’d braided a piece of her hair behind her ear and fastened it with a clasp, apologizing that all he’d had was silver. She’d thanked him, although frightfully unsure of what he meant. Hobbit courtships were easy; you got to know who you were courting, the occasional gift is given, and if you want to marry, the one proposing asks with a ring. A fairly simple one at that, usually a gold or silver band. She wasn’t sure about Dwarven courting customs, and so she had decided to ask Balin about it. He’d given her a great pat on the back in congratulations before sitting with her to explain.
“I’ll start with something simple, Lass. Every dwarf has their One, as in the person they were meant to be with. Usually, it’s another dwarf, but… well, I’ve seen Thorin court others, and I’ve known they’ve never been it, but… It’s different this time. With you.” Bilba was already a bright pink.
“One? Like a Soulmate, you mean?” Balin nodded his head slowly.
“Almost. There’s a certain chemistry between those who are One’s, and dwarves who marry outside their pair usually aren’t very happy about it. That almost never happens, though.” He cleared his throat. “About the bead,” he said, motioning to the clasp in her hair. “Most beads throughout a Dwarf’s life are made of silver or gold. Courting beads are different, made of more precious stones, to show the meaning of the relationship. That’s what his apology was for.”
“What do I do? I want to-to show him I reciprocate.”
“Suppose you should get him a bead.”
She nearly laughed at the thought of it now. The crafting of that bead had taken ages. Balin had pointed several valuable (though dull-looking at the time) stones that she gathered and chipped away at until their insides were revealed. She decided on a very interesting stone that changed color depending on the time the sun hit it. She chipped it down until it was the size and shape she wanted, and Balin took care of the rest. ‘The Rest’ turned out to be carrying it around in a bag filled with water and stone dust until it was smooth, and then drilling out the center.
Thorin had looked at her as though she was made of starlight when she presented it to him, allowing her to braid it into his hair. That memory set her heart aflutter, even after what had happened.

A bang brought her from her gentle scrubbing, and she turned her attention towards the sound. No one else seemed to have stirred, so she peered over Thorin, looking out into the crowded hall. There was a tall figure, towering over everyone and looking confusedly around. It’s hair swung, and Bilba briefly saw it’s face before it turned away. “Lady Tauriel!” she whisper-shouted, glancing down at Thorin fearfully(though she knew he wouldn’t respond). The elf’s head whipped around, and her stance relaxed when she realized who’d spoken. She carefully approached, stepping over numerous sleeping dwarves. “How did you pass the guards?” Bilba whispered, wiping the last of the dirt from the unconscious dwarf. She pulled his blanket back up to his midsection before the elf responded.
“It was rather easy, if I’m honest with you, Miss Baggins.” Bilba smiled faintly.
“Dwarves are fools, but proud fools.” She paused, smoothing the blanket that covered Thorin awkwardly.
“What happened to him?” Tauriel asked, peering down at the broken king.
“Azog the Defiler,” Bilba said venomously. “Orcs are truly wicked creatures. I never wish to see one again.” Tauriel nodded in agreement, glancing around nervously. Bilba blinked up at her. “You came to see Kíli, didn’t you?” Tauriel’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Was it that obvious?” Bilba laughed.
“I assure you not. Kíli only asked after you earlier, so I assumed. You’re free to see him; I grant you my express permission.” She cocked her head curiously at the elf. “I would be wary of the Lady Dís, however.” At Tauriel’s blank expression she added, “The boys’ mother.” And the elf’s eyes widened.
“I was not aware she had arrived.” Bilba nodded at the elf’s words, dusting off her somewhat tattered dress and standing.
“She arrived a few hours after Dain did. She looking after Fíli and Kíli now, and I expect she’ll still be awake. Would you like me to accompany you?” Tauriel shook her head, standing as well.
“No, Miss Baggins, you don’t have to,” she stated. “I’m sure I can handle it.” Bilba gave a short laugh.
“You have not dealt with the stubbornness of dwarves, Lady Tauriel. Particularly the stubbornness of the line of Durin. Besides, I need to bring them more food and water anyways. And last time I visited, Fíli was sleeping. I’m hoping he’s awake now.” Tauriel looked at her uncertainly, but nodded slowly.
“Alright, Miss Baggins. Lead the way.”

Bilba peaked her head in past the curtain, into the dimly lit, makeshift room that held her ‘almost’ nephews. She’d told Tauriel to stay put until she told her to come, and the elf obliged, though unhappily. Dís was asleep, wrapped in a blanket in a chair next to her eldest son, who was looking bored and tossing a bit of rock up and down with his unwrapped hand. “Fíli!” she whispered. His head whipped around, and he smiled at the sight of her.
“Bilba!”
“Is Kee awake?” Fíli shook his head as she came in, but the pile of blankets that was Kíli sighed and moved and groaned.
“Who? Wh-I’m awake, yeah. Hey, Bilba,” the pile said, yawning spectacularly as the face of Kíli emerged, surrounded by a halo of bedhead. Bilba laughed, patting them both on the arms.
“I brought you a present, Kee,” she said. “And you, Fee, but I don’t know if you’ll like it as much.” Kíli emerged farther from his blankets, eyes lit up with excitement, and Fíli sat up a little straighter, wincing as he put pressure on his bandaged arm. She grabbed at the bag on her hip, pulling bread, cheese, and water out for the both of them. She pulled her old pipe and the rest of her pipe-weed for Fíli. “Here, Fee. You could probably use it more than I can.” Fíli smiled, taking the gift.
“Thank you, Bilba. Do you have a match?” She nodded and pulled one out for him. He lit the pipe and sat back against his pillows, puffing away happily at the pipe, giving an occasional cough, lungs surprised after months of not smoking. Kíli looked expectantly at her, and she looked at Dís, who was still fast asleep.
“Alright, Kee. Just a moment.” She pulled the curtain aside, motioning with her hand to Tauriel, who was looking warily around at Dain’s sleeping men. She stepped forward at Bilba’s motions, stepping into the room with an uncertainty that Bilba wasn’t sure was justified.
Kíli’s face nearly broke in half when he saw her, his grin and general look of fondness was so big. She smiled in very poorly hidden relief when she saw him, and was at his bedside immediately. Bilba turned toward Fíli, to give the couple some semblance of privacy.
“Hello, Fíli.”
“Hi again, Bilba.”
“How did the battle treat you?” He gave a small harrumph and shook his head, smoke puffing past his lips.
“Not as well as I would’ve liked, but as well as you would expect. Going to be scarred. And I lost two fingers.” He lifted his left arm, which was covered in bandages, and wiggled around his three remaining fingers; his middle, his pointer, and his thumb. Bilba’s face fell.
“Oh, I-Fíli, I’m sorry.” He dropped his arm, winced at the impact, and shrugged.
“I’m alright. I’m healing well so far, according to Oin.” He looked up at her, noticing the tenseness in her shoulder and the tired bags under her eyes. His expression grew worried. “Did something happen to Uncle Thorin?” She nodded solemnly.
“He’s been unconscious since the battle. Oin says we can do nothing more but wait.” Fíli nodded, and took a particularly large drag from the pipe. As he exhaled, he coughed a particularly loud cough that startled Bilba into jumping, and startled his sleeping mother into consciousness.
Dís’s eyes settled on Bilba first, and she gave to her a nod of greeting. And then she turned, and her eyes widen, expression heavily guarded, but still visibly confused and angry.
“Why is there an elf with my son?”

Chapter Text

Tauriel stood quickly from her kneeling position next to Kíli’s bed. Her face was a mask, and when she spoke, it was a hard line of seriousness. “My Lady,” she bowed. “I am truly sorry for the intrusion; I only wished to look after Master Kíli, as he saved my life in the battle. I’ll take my leave now, if you wish it of me.” Kíli’s expression had transformed from that of a smitten dwarf to one of shock and surprise.
Dís had suspicion etched into the lines of her face. Her eyes narrowed as she stood and looked up at Tauriel. “I don’t recall your name.” Fíli and Bilba were looking on, Bilba with a mix of horror and concern, and Fíli with a mixture of horror and amusement.
“I am Tauriel of the Greenwood.” Dís’s expression did not change, though her voice was softer.
“I will not ask leave of you, Tauriel. Looking after someone’s well being is not something to be punished.” Tauriel gave a small nod of her head. Kíli’s eyes flicked very briefly to his mother, before he pressed something into the palm of Tauriel’s hand. He gave her hand a pat and leaned back against his pillows.
“Thank you for your concern, Lady Tauriel.” She gave Kíli a faint smile, before turning to Dís.
“I know it was not asked of me, but I will take my leave of you.” Dís nodded.
“As you wish.” Bilba stepped forward.
“I’ll accompany you, Lady Tauriel.” Dís made a face of disappointment that rivaled Thorin’s.
“I’d wished to hear of your quest. I’ve heard much from these two,” she motioned to her sons, “But from what they’ve told me, you’ve saved the Company quite a few times.” Bilba laughed.
“Perhaps after I get some sleep.” Kíli smiled and waved in farewell, his eyes fixated on Tauriel as she stepped out. Fíli waved as well, before his face lit up.
“Bilba, wait!”
“What, Fee?”
“Could you-could you bring me a quill and parchment? I need to send a letter.” His cheeks were turning a dusky pink. Several thoughts flew through Bilba’s mind. Well, does he want ink too? Of course he does. Who wants a quill without ink? Then again, he could have ink. No he couldn't, what are you thinking, Bilba? Just take the ink with you. It was then she realized the lack of sleep was catching up with her. She shook her head to clear it, then nodded.
“Yes, Fíli, of course. I’ll try and find some for you.” He nodded and slumped back against his pillow, giving her a large smile as she left them.

Bilba fell asleep as the sun touched the mountain. It was a dreamless sleep, which was probably the best of the situation. Her cot was located up against a wall, away from most of Dain’s men, but near enough to Thorin that if anything happened, it wouldn’t be hard to reach her.
She slept for ages. When she woke, it was nearly dark again. Someone was gently shaking her, and it took a few minutes of trying to focus to figure out who it was. “Oh,” she yawned. “Hullo, Ori.”
“More of Dain’s men arrived while you were asleep, Miss Bilba.” She nodded, barely comprehending. Why has he woken me up for this? “They’ve cleared a room for Thorin. They’ve moved him. I thought you’d like to know.”
“Is he awake?” she asked, sitting upright, tiredness suddenly gone, excitement filling her. Ori shook his head silently, and the excitement drained away, to be replaced with dread. She covered her face with her hands and groaned. She really didn’t mean for the tears to start up again.
“What am I to do, Ori? What if he doesn’t wake up?” He patted her shoulder soothingly, though awkwardly.
“He’ll pull through, Miss Bilba. Oin says he’s gettin’ stronger. And putting him on a real bed can only help.” Bilba looked up at her friend; he was the youngest dwarf in the company, yet he was still older than her. She looked at him for a moment longer, pondering her options.
“Did Oin say anything about moving into Thorin’s room?” Ori shook his head.
“Didn’t say anythin’ for or against it.” Bilba gave a nod, wiping the tears from her cheeks, and stood. She began to pile what little she carried onto the cot-her pack, her jacket, her extra blanket, her ring.
“Would you help me move it? I don’t want to be far from him.” Ori gave a nod, picking up one end and nearly dumping all of Bilba’s belongings onto the floor. Bilba laughed as she steadied him. “Lead the way.”
Bilba had underestimated just how many stairs there were in this place. She had nearly fallen over twice by the time they’d finally reached their destination. “And this was the first room they cleared,” she panted. Ori’d nodded, setting down her cot in the corner of the room. He’d left not long after they’d arrived, saying something about Dori needing his help. Bilba had been sitting at Thorin’s side for near an hour, listening faintly to Oin puttering around the chamber. Thorin’s breathing had increased, and Oin believed Thorin would be alright if he left one of the company to watch him while he tended to the other wounded. Which is how Bilba was left alone (save Thorin) with Dwalin in the chambers.
Dwalin had never been the best of company. He was quiet and gruff, very rough around the edges. The chamber was eerily quiet as Dwalin managed to build up a fire in the long unused fireplace. Bilba lit candles around the chamber and tried to find something to keep her hands busy while the fire crackled. She managed to find a stack of parchment and several quills and bottles of ink for Fíli, along with a simple, dust covered gown that’d been in a trunk with Fíli’s things. It was only after a fair amount of worried pacing in front of the fire that she noticed the dust laden door hidden on the darker side of the room.
“Dwalin, do you know what that is?” He looked up from the book in his hands, glanced at where she pointed, and shrugged.
“Bathroom, I would expect.” Bilba cocked her head.
“Running water?”
“If the pipes are still in order, there should be.” Bilba’s day had suddenly, unexpectedly brightened. She hadn’t even thought about real plumbing since they’d left Beorn’s.
“Right.” Dwalin looked up again and gave her a curious look as she shifted through her things. “I’ll be back.” Grabbing her soap, her less tattered (but still grubby) dress, the new dress she’d found, and a candle, she pushed her way through the dusty door.
Dwalin had been right. This was a bathroom fit for kings. The first thing she noticed was the bathtub. It was the largest she’d seen-sunk into the floor, it even had little seats. It was lavish, and because the door had been shut tight, the room was completely free of spider’s webs. She found the bases for several nearly depleted candles around the room, and didn’t hesitate to light them.
It took a few tries fiddling with the valves to get the water to appear. At first there was nothing, which slowly turned into a trickle, then a stream. It wasn’t long before a steady gush of hot water was pooling into the empty basin. Bilba left her clothes on the floor, took her soap, and sank down into the water. It was ecstasy. The journey had been full of bathing in ice cold streams, so being enveloped with hot water was a wonderful shock to her aching bones. She only allowed herself a few moments to relax, however; she wanted to be clean. She scrubbed dirt from her skin until it was pale pink and she could see every bruise she had. She didn’t finish until her hair was strawberry blonde again, and then the water was drained and filled anew, but only to it’s halfway mark.
She scrubbed her clothes until they were as clean as she knew they would get. Her hair was nearly dry by the time she’d finished, one of her dresses already hung drying on the wall. There was a knock on the door as she drained the tub for a second time and hung her dress up. “Yes, Dwalin?” she asked, pulling the pale yellow gown on over her head.
“I hope you're dressed, Bilba,” he said softly. “Because he’s awake.” Bilba’s back stiffened, and she threw the door open. Tears pricked at her eyes as she dashed to the side of the bed. The deep blue eyes of Thorin, eyes she hadn’t been sure she’d see again, looked up at her, and a small smile flitted over his face. Her smile was wide and unfaltering, and he brought a hand up to brush a tear away. His voice was weary and tired, but tinted with happiness.
“Bilba.”

Chapter Text

Bilba spoke approximately three words before she broke down into relieved sobbing. She heard Dwalin leave as she sunk down to her knees and buried her head in her hands. Thorin rested a tentative hand on her hair. “I thought you were going to die,” she choked out through her fingers. “You said your goodbyes and I thought you were gone. You bled so much.” He was silent for a moment before he spoke.
“Ghivâshel, help me sit up.” Bilba wiped her cheeks clean, though it did nothing to stop the flow of tears and the hiccuping breaths she was taking.
“I d-don’t know if Oin would approve,” she hiccuped, but nevertheless, she gently lifted him up and placed a few more pillows behind him. He grunted as he leaned back against them, looking at her fondly, yet sadly.
“Bilba, when you found me on the ice, I didn’t know if I would make it. I honestly thought I wouldn’t. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” Bilba nodded at his words. Tears still flowed freely down her cheeks, though they were slowing. She wiped them again.
“You’ve been unconscious for almost two days.” Thorin raised his eyebrows.
“Two? Two days?” She nodded, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“I’ve been looking after you. Looked in on Fíli and Kíli as well.” Taking a deep breath, she wiped the last of the tears from her face. “More of Dain’s men arrived while you weren’t awake. They’ve started making repairs. I think Dís put herself in charge of that.”
“Dís is here?” Bilba nodded, looking at Thorin. He blinked slowly. “I don’t know why I didn’t expect that. How are the boys?” Bilba laughed and patted his hand at his statement about his sister, but turned a little more serious. His expression was one of concern.
“They’re alive. And fine, both of them. Nothing serious. Probably out walking around by now.” Thorin breathed out a sigh of relief, running his fingers through his hair.
“What of the gold?” Bilba stiffened beside him, hoping dearly that the Dragonsickness wasn’t making a comeback.
“We’ve begun separating it. Bard and the men of Laketown were given their share before anything else. We’ve come to an agreement with Lord Thranduil about his gems and the Arkenstone.” Thorin nodded, tucking a loose strand of Bilba’s hair behind her ear.
“What I should’ve done from the beginning, then.” Bilba glanced at him. His shoulders were tense, his lips were pursed. He began nervously braiding a few small strands of her hair together. “Bilba… I cannot ask you to forgive me for what I did.” She made a move to interrupt, but he held his hand up. “What I did was unforgivable. My mind was a fog, and all I could see was the colour gold. I could’ve killed you, and all of the company.” He dropped the now-finished braid, and it bumped softly against her elbow. “I don’t know what brought me out of my haze. But I am glad it happened. I only wish it does not happen again. I have not been the most agreeable of travel companions on this journey, either. I constantly dragged you into danger, and what’s worse is that I expected you to be able to do everything we could. And then I was rude about it.” He paused, “You constantly proved me wrong. I’m sorry. For everything.” Bilba looked at him again. He was avoiding her gaze, looking down at his hands with great interest. She sidled up next to him and began gently combing her fingers through his hair, wondering what to say. He relaxed quickly, though not completely, by the time she began to speak.
“I don’t want you to think that the only reason I forgave you before was because of your imminent death. I honestly forgive you for everything you’ve done, be it accidentally or purposefully. I understand. In the beginning, you didn’t want to have an inexperienced Hobbit lass slowing you down, though it didn’t stop me. And then you got sick. It wasn’t your fault; I know that, you know that. Also, I signed up for the danger. It was written in the contract that I signed.” She smiled slowly, gently tugging knots out of his hair. “Besides, I’ve saved your arse enough times that you owe me,” she finished with a laugh. He turned to her and gave her a cheeky smile.
“I want an example.” She raised her eyebrows and scoffed at him.
“Well, there’s the time with the trollshaws. And then again, later, in the Misty Mountains, when that orc nearly beheaded you. And again, in the Mirkwood, when Thranduil had you imprisoned. And again, with Smaug. And again, when I carried you down the mountain.” She had been ticking each occasion off on her fingers. Thorin’s expression had turned incredulous.
“You carried me down the mountain?”
“Always doubtful, Master Dwarf? Of course she did,” came a voice they did not expect. Gandalf was leading a procession of dwarves into the room; Dwalin, leading Balin, leading Dís, leading Oin, leading Bombur (who carried the food). Bilba looked at Gandalf before turning back to Thorin.
“I couldn’t just let you die.”

There wasn’t much time for them to talk alone after that. Thorin’s bandages were changed meticulously by Oin (his wounds no longer made Bilba lightheaded or sick to her stomach). Dís greeted her brother with a hug that Bilba surely thought would hurt, but Thorin laughed and patted her shoulder. Bilba busied herself with helping Bombur set out the feast. It was the first food besides bread and cheese she’d eaten since the battle, and the first food Thorin had eaten at all.
“Dwarves have arrived from Ered Luin,” Dís said later, voice serious. “They arrived to help with the restoration of Erebor, and we could use it. It’s nice to have a few familiar faces around. There’s almost enough rooms cleared to house Dain’s men. They work quickly.” Balin had nodded at this, then added on.
“We’ve sent about a hundred of them to try and get the mines in working order again. The sooner we get them open, the sooner trade opens, and the sooner we can get a steady supply of… well, everything, really. Winter’s well on it’s way, and we’ll need what we can get.”
Bilba ended up sitting near the fire with Gandalf. The old wizard was making smoke-rings with his pipe, and Bilba was lost between watching the rings and trying to make out what the dwarves were babbling on about.
“Gandalf?”
“Yes, Bilba?” The wizard looked at her from the corner of his eye.
“If this is what it’s like when he’s bedridden, what’s it going to be like when he’s healed?” Gandalf puffed and let out a grumble.
“Only time will tell. I do not know if his fate rests in the halls of Erebor, or somewhere else. That is for him to decide.” Bilba crossed her arms. “Think on those words, Miss Baggins; they could come in handy later. Now, Fíli said you might have something for him?”

Tauriel managed to find her near dawn. She was sitting on the steps near Thorin’s room. Oin had kicked everyone out nearly two hours after they’d arrived, Bilba excluded. But the broken king had fallen asleep, and Bilba was not ready to let it take her. So that’s how she came to be braiding a certain bead into the Lady’s hair.
“Kíli gave it to you, then?” Tauriel nodded briefly as Bilba braided.
“I wasn’t sure what it meant, originally. That’s why I thought it best to find you. You have beads in your hair, and you aren’t a dwarf.” Bilba smiled fondly at the thought of her beads.
“It means he wants to court you. If you agree, you put it in your hair. It shows you’re taken.” Tauriel hummed.
“That is convenient. And sort of… sweet. Did he make it himself?” she asked, voice full of curiosity and fondness. Bilba paused her braiding to get a better look at the bead. It was a blue opal, flecked prettily and somewhat oddly shaped. It was etched with the sigil of Durin; one she recognized from her own bead.
“It looks like it,” she said with a smile. “You should do something in return. I don’t know Elven courting customs, though.” Tauriel was silent for a few moments, and her hair flashed orange, red, and yellow in the lamplight.
“What did you do for your dwarf?”
“Thorin? I made him a bead in return. Asked Balin to help me with it. I’m pretty sure it’s still in his hair. I should redo that braid.” Tauriel turned to inspect it, and Bilba laughed.
“Not your braid, his. Your’s is done, here.” She gave the end of the braid and the bead both to Tauriel. “You should put it on. It’s more… special that way, I think.” The elf nodded and slid the bead onto the braid, tying her hair in a delicate knot just below so it wouldn’t slide off.
“Thank you, Miss Baggins,” she said softly, gently twisting the bead. She stood suddenly, turning towards Bilba. “If you’ll excuse me. I must find Kíli.” Bilba nodded and gave her a smile.
“Good luck!”
When the elf disappeared, she climbed back up the stairs, pushing the door to Thorin’s room open. When Oin saw her, he made ready to leave. “He’s steady now, lass. Shouldn’t get worse. If he does, let me know.” Bilba nodded as he left. She prodded another log onto the fire before climbing next to Thorin on the bed. His steady breathing (with an occasional snore) was reassuring, and lulled her into sleep without her even meaning it. The dawn struck Erebor on it’s third day reclaimed, and everything seemed well.

Chapter Text

The hushed sound of lowered voices was what Bilba woke up to. She had no clue what time it was. She nestled further into the blankets while the talking continued, blissfully warm and bone achingly tired. There was a hand on her hip that she could only assume was Thorin’s, and she was surprised at how comforting the weight of it was. She tried to get back to sleep, but the conversation kept interrupting her attempts. So she blinked open her eyes, stared sleepily at the wall, and tried to listen to what was being said. “...I can feel it nagging in the back of my mind. The want of gold. I don’t want to lose myself again.” His thumb was moving in small circles over her hipbone. “I don’t want to lose myself,” Thorin’s voice repeated.
“I understand that, Laddie,” came Balin’s voice. “You’ve done as much as any great king can do for his people.”
“What am I to do, Balin? If I want to keep my mind, I cannot stay here.”
“Your choices are your own, Thorin. I respect any decision you make. You have done much for our people, and they are grateful for it.” No sound came from Thorin for a while, though his thumb continued it’s circular pattern.
“I’ve wanted nothing more than to reclaim this mountain. But I will not risk losing my mind and endangering my people by staying here now.” Balin’s voice was solemn when he answered.
“What would you have me do?” Bilba heard Thorin’s hair rustle and could only assume he was shaking his head.
“I am still unsure what I am to do, let alone you, Balin. I would leave this place, but where would I go? I have no wish of returning to Ered Luin.”
“I’m sure Bilba would take you back to the Shire with her.”
“I could ask, of course. I know she doesn’t want to stay in the mountain. She wishes for her home. I do not know if I would be welcome, however; I was extremely horrendous to her.” Balin chuckled.
“She’s forgiven you once. She’ll forgive you a thousand times before you believe it.” Thorin made a noise that was a cross between a sigh and a groan.
“Bring me parchment, if you can find it, Balin. I need to do something.”
“Of course.” Bilba briefly heard Balin’s steps across the floor before they faded away into the echoing hallway. The hand from her lifted, and she felt the weight distribution on the bed change slowly. She turned around, now facing Thorin. She made an effort to try and make her eyelids appear heavy, though her tiredness had escaped her during her listening.
Thorin wasn’t facing her, however, so she watched him curiously. He had swung his legs over the edge of the bed, tentatively resting his feet against the floor. He pushed himself up and stood, wincing as he put weight on his injured foot. Bilba was slightly surprised that he had the strength after being bedridden for days to pace in front of the fire, but he did it regardless. He was completely lost in thought, brow furrowed in concentration, so it took a few minutes for him to realize that she was sitting up and staring at him. “Bilba, you’re awake.” She nodded in confirmation.
“And you’re walking.”
“Yes. Oin was in earlier. He told me that it was healed enough now that I could walk on it. Although it hurts.” He stood still for a moment, looking at her. “How long have you been awake?” She shrugged.
“Long enough.” He nodded, before beginning his pacing again with a look of concentration on his face. “Thorin?” He turned back towards her, lips pressed into a thin line. “Did you mean what you said? About leaving?” Thorin’s eyebrows drew together, his face paled, and he swallowed thickly as he rubbed his hands together.
Mahalu-me turg,” he groaned. “How- mm. How much of that conversation did you hear?” Bilba cocked her head at Thorin’s sudden shift in behavior.
“Are you alright? I only heard the last bit about Dragonsickness and leaving. Why?” He let out a shaky breath before nodding.
“Okay. I’m fine, yes. And yes, I was being serious about leaving.” Bilba climbed out of bed and walked over to him, reaching up to feel his forehead.
“Are you sure you’re alright? You look like you’re going to be sick.” He smiled faintly and nodded, though he still had a worried expression on his face. “You really want to leave?” she murmured softly, dropping her hand.
“Yes. As you heard, this place isn’t good for me. I’ve wanted it back since I left it, but… My priorities have changed since then.” Bilba rubbed the back of her neck, feeling the apples of her cheeks heat in a blush. She chuckled nervously as he continued. “Besides, there’s not very many windows in this mountain.” Windows? What? He doesn’t want to stay because there aren’t many windows? Really? This is his selling point after fighting a dragon? Thorin seemed to notice her confusion, and added, belatedly and nervously, “I don’t want to keep you from the sky and the stars.” Bilba laughed.
“That’s very sweet.” And not as stupid as I initially thought. Thorin’s cheeks were slowly turning pink, and Bilba smiled reassuringly at him, before asking, “What were you and Balin discussing before I woke up?” Her eyes flicked down to his wounded foot and she briefly wondered how much it hurt before her gaze returned to his face. The look from before had returned, only now it was paired with a guarded look of determination.
“It was nothing,” he replied nonchalantly. “Talk of politics. Speaking of Balin, he owes me paper. I’ll, uh-be back.” Bilba knew Thorin well enough to know that he was lying. She shot a disapproving glare at his back as he quickly slid out of the room, hands on her hips. What would he need to lie about?

Bilba had decided to investigate. She’d watched Thorin limp to Balin, and had made her way to Oin instead. He was sitting next to his brother at a makeshift table. The hall was relatively empty besides the few injured soldiers milling about, as everyone able was off clearing mines, rooms, or just the general debris. Bilba could faintly hear Dain’s voice echoing off farther into the mountain as she stopped across the table from them. “Hello, Oin.” He looked up and waved, chewing slowly on a roll. She didn’t want to waste time on formalities, though the rudeness of it made her remember how much harder this would’ve been months ago. “Has Thorin told you anything that he’d keep a secret from me?” Oin laughed, crumbs falling from his mouth and into his beard.
“Why would he keep anything from you?” Bilba huffed and gave Gloin a pointed look, who shook his head as well. “Thank you anyways,” she said, waving briefly as she looked towards where she’d last seen Balin. Thorin was still standing with him, so Bilba set her sights on the next best; Dwalin.
It was surprisingly easy to find him. He was the only person she knew who could make a neutral look seem so menacing. He sharpened his axes, looking threateningly at a few of Dain’s men who were talking to Dís, and Bilba supposed that he was set on guarding her, though the swords at Dís’s waist told her she could take care of herself. Her stomach made a loud grumble as she walked in his direction, so she made a small detour before getting back on track, now holding a plate full of bread, cheese, and meat, with a knife and fork balanced on the top.
Dwalin looked up as she approached and sat. His whetstones stilled as she settled on the stone next to him and picked up her bread. “I haven’t eaten properly in days,” she said, glancing at him. He appeared to have recognised the look of determined anger on her face, because his demeanor had changed completely. No longer a threat to all of the mountain, he was now cautiously leaning away from her, as if she could explode. She chewed thoughtfully, not going to bother correcting him on his stance. “Have you talked to Thorin lately?” At Bilba's inquiry, Dwalin shrugged swallowing a growing lump in his throat. “Uh, well, we talked about...stuff.”
“Stuff?” she asked as she finished chewing, raising an unimpressed eyebrow.
“Look, I really shouldn’t be discussing this-” Bilba interrupted as she slammed her bread onto her plate.
“If someone in these damned halls doesn’t tell me what in Yavanna’s name is going on, I will make it a very lonely mountain, indeed.” Her fork was clenched tightly in her fist as she glared at him. He leaned further in, though he looked more cautious and concerned than before.
“Bilba, you should really talk to Thorin about this,” he said, cautiously. Bilba sighed and deflated slightly, putting down her fork.
“I’ve tried. If he had given me straight answers, I wouldn’t be running through this godforsaken rock trying to get them.” She sighed deeply, resting her elbows on her knees, completely discarding her plate on the stones next to her. Dwalin chuckled nervously.
“Don’t worry, Lass. You’ll find out soon.”

Bilba had enough patience to sit with Dwalin and finish her lunch before the cavernous hall filled with the whisper of familiar voices. Bilba looked up from the remnants of her food to see Thorin and Balin having a seemingly heated conversation with Dís. “Wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” Dwalin said, back to sharpening his axes.
“The good news is that you aren’t me, Dwalin,” she replied, standing and brushing her skirt. Dwalin shook his head as she made her way to the group.
Dís was reading a piece of parchment, presumably the one Thorin had gone to Balin for. “Mahal, Thorin… you’re sure?”
“I’ve never been more sure.” He turned as Bilba approached, and an anxious look crossed his face as he noticed her expression. “Everything all right, Bilba?”
“No, everything’s not all right, Thorin Oakenshield.” His eyes widened. “You’re keeping something from me, and no one in this damned mountain will tell me up from down!”
“Bilba-” It was quick, the movement of her hand. His mouth was covered within a second, hairs from his beard tickling faintly at the palm of her hand.
“No.” She took a deep breath while Dís and Balin looked on in awe. “I do not appreciate being lied to. Think you would’ve known that by now. Now. I would like to hear from one of you,” she gestured to Balin and Dís, “what’s going on.” Dís cleared her throat, and Bilba looked at her expectantly.
“He’s-well, he’s seceding his throne.” Bilba’s mouth dropped open and her attention was drawn back to Thorin as she whipped her hands back down.
“You’re what?!”

Chapter Text

“So let me get this straight,” came Dain’s voice. Bilba rubbed her temple. They’d gathered the entire company, along with Dain and Dís, in a cleared room to explain what was happening. “Thorin is seceding his throne to Lady Dís, leaving Erebor, and living in the Shire with this… this…” He regarded Bilba with a disapproving eye, “Jargh?” Every dwarf in the room visibly stiffened, and Bilba glanced between them. Thorin’s expression turned dark and thunderous. Dís had put a hand to each of her sons shoulders to keep their tempers from getting the best of them.
“You offer insult to her?” Dain paled, though he didn’t apologize. Everyone besides Dain and Oin looked bothered by the comment, and Oin only because he hadn’t had his trumpet to his ear.
“What’d he say?” he asked loudly. Thorin ignored him while Bofur whispered into the trumpet.
“To insult someone’s Taerin is one thing, but to insult and not apologise is another,” Thorin growled. Dain scoffed at that.
“Your Taerin cannot be another race, Thorin.” Thorin’s eyes narrowed.
“Have the Valar descended and told you that themselves, Dain?”
“You may think lowly of her,” piped in Fíli, “but Bilba Baggins has saved all of our lives multiple times, and Thorin’s at least four.” Dwalin nodded in agreement.
“We would’ve been eaten by trolls by now if not for her.”
“And we’d never had made it to the mountain if she hadn’t got us out of Mirkwood!” added Ori. Dain snuffled.
“That does not excuse this behavior. Of all the people, you decide to run of with a halfling” Bilba was slowly growing more angry at the dwarf, but she didn’t have time to voice it before the person she least expected to did.
“Menu shirumund!” shouted Balin. Bilba very sincerely doubted that she’d ever seen him look this angry. He was red in the face, brow furrowed in a furious scowl. Everyone was taken aback by his outburst, and Dain looked sincerely offended. Bilba briefly wished she could understand Khuzdul.
“Balin-” Dain started, but Balin interrupted him.
“Out. Get out. Now.” He pointed to the door. Dain looked at Thorin, as if he expected support from his cousin. Thorin shook his head.
“Do as he says, Dain.” Dain glared at Thorin as he stomped out, the loud clunking of his boots still audible as he left the hall outside. No one spoke as Thorin finished his explaining. “As soon as we’re ready, we’re leaving for the Shire. I’m leaving Dís as King under the mountain until she sees fit to pass on her rule. Is that clear?”
There were no objections.

Dain’s rudeness kept Thorin in a mood until the end of the week, which is when Oin announced to the pair of them that Thorin was healed enough for them to leave. It took another day and a half to get all of their things together, everything they would need for the journey included. Gandalf had decided to wait for them (upon Bilba’s request) to act as their guide and company back to the Shire.
Finally, on a Friday, they were ready to say their goodbyes. The ponies were packed and waiting with Gandalf a little farther than the entrance to the mountain. The company was gathered round, expressions changing between the lot of them. They mostly wore mixtures of happiness, sadness, and discomfort as snow began to drift lazily down around them. Bilba made her way down through her friends. Dori, Nori, Gloin, Bifur, and Bombur all received big squeezes of hugs and a few faint goodbyes.
The harder goodbyes began with Oin. She looked up at the old dwarf with respect before hugging him. "You saved his life, and I can't thank you enough for that." Oin patted her back with a small laugh.
"You're welcome, Lass." He patted her back. "Was just doing me job."
"You did a good job, Oin. Thank you again." He laughed and patted her back heartily before she stepped back and moved on to the next dwarf. “Hello, Ori.” He smiled before quickly shoving a small package in her hands. “What’s this?” He shrugged.
“I just wanted you to have them.” She gently pulled away the paper to reveal an intricately knitted pair of gloves with a scarf with a matching pattern. She recognized them almost instantly; Ori’d spent the whole journey knitting them after dinner and before bed by the campfire. She looked up, mouth dropping open slightly.
“Oh, Ori. Are you sure? You’ve been working on them for ages now.” Ori gave a sheepish little shrug and rubbed the back of his head.
“Well, yes!” he insisted. “I figure that I’m not gonna have much use of them, Miss Bilba. You’ll be out in the winter and I’ll be warm in the mountain.” Bilba smiled fondly at him before more thoroughly unwrapping the gift, wrapping the scarf around her neck with a flourish. She pulled her friend into a hug. His hands fluttered rather nervously along her back before they settled. "I'll miss you, Miss Bilba."
"I'll miss you too, Ori." He pulled away with a small sniffle and rubbed at his nose. She slipped the gloves on and smiled softly at him. He gave her a little wave as she moved on to Dwalin. The warrior was doing his usual; standing tall, arms crossed, with a stony expression on his face. His expression softened a tad when she stood in front of him.
"Take care of your big lug, if you will." She laughed so loudly that it could nearly be classified as a guffaw as she nodded and patted Dwalin on the arm. She saw him turn and whisper something to Ori, who turned a deep shade of scarlet as she moved on to Balin. The old dwarf was standing with his hands behind his back. "Thank you for everything, Balin." He gave a nod, beard bobbing.
"It was no problem, Lass. Anything to help." She smiled and stuck out a hand. He brought his left hand from behind his back and shook it with gusto, smiling. "Until the next time."
And then there was Dís. Her eyes flicked to Bilba's as she sighed. "I wish I'd gotten more time to know you, Mistress Baggins."
"And I you, Lady Dís," Bilba said with a nod.
"I agree with Mister Dwalin, though, Mistress Baggins." Bilba cocked her head. "Take care of my brother. I've known him my entire life, and he can be rather dull sometimes." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Thorin stiffen slightly at this comment, glaring at his sister. "He'd be dead several times over if it wasn't for you. So keep your eye on him, please." Bilba nodded.
"I'll be sure to keep an eye on him. If not for you or Dwalin, for me, at least." Dís nodded, one of her braids slipping over her shoulder.
"Agreed. Have a safe journey, Mistress Baggins."
Next was in line was Bofur. The behatted dwarf pulled her into a hug almost immediately, his braid faintly tickling her nose. "Thanks for watching out for me," she said quietly. He gave a hearty, though quiet, laugh.
"Couldn't jus' let the world get ahold of ya now, Bilba. Don't need me lookin' after you anymore, yeah?" He gave her shoulder a pat as she released him from her grip. She grinned up at him.
"Think I can handle it?" He nodded.
"I think you've got it." Tears pricked at her eyes as she smiled at Bofur. "I'll see ya round, Bilba." She gave him a watery smile.
“Goodbye, Bofur.”
Kíli and Fíli were waiting for her. Bilba didn't know how Fíli had been standing for as long as he had been on his leg, but she didn't have much time to worry about it before Kíli spoke up. "Don't leave, Bilba." Kíli’s eyes alone nearly made Bilba change her mind. She shook her head solemnly, looking at them both sadly.
"I have to, Kee. I don't belong under mountain. I belong under hill." His pout somehow managed to intensify. Fíli decided then to speak up.
"Are you sure you must go back to the Shire, Bilba?" Bilba nodded, and he gave her a sheepish look. "We have everything you could need here. You could stay with us and be Queen. Please?" Kíli nodded along with his brother.
"Fíli and I could build you a skylight. And doesn't 'Queen Bilba' have a nice ring to it?" He gave her a little nudge, though avoiding her gaze. Bilba sniffled.
"My boys. My lovely boys. I'm glad you're so fond of me that you wish for me to stay so badly. But I can't be queen. I can barely be a proper hobbit!" Fíli laughed quietly. "I would love more than anything to stay with you. Perhaps you should just move to the Shire." Fíli and Kíli exchanged sly glances.
"Would Mother let us get away with that?" Kíli asked quietly. Fíli shook his head. Their somber expressions returned, and it broke Bilba's heart. She opened and they fell in as if they were tiny babes, fighting over space to hug. It was sort of suffocating, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.
"Don't leave us, Bilba," Fíli whispered. The tears were pricking her eyes again.
"Yeah, we love you too much to let you go," Kíli said softly. Bilba was starting to get choked up.
"My warrior princes, getting all emotional about little me leaving," she managed to get out, before she felt her cheeks dampen. "You two are so sweet…" She could faintly hear the stomping footsteps that she recognized to be either a worried or angry Thorin.
"What did you two do?" he asked, voice laced with worry for Bilba and anger at his nephews. They released Bilba from their hug, looks of worry on their faces. Bilba flapped her hand around and wiped at her cheeks.
"Nothing, Thorin, they're just giant sweethearts." He rested a tentative hand on her shoulder.
"You're okay?" She nodded slowly, patting cheeks dry and sucking in a breath.
"I'm ready."

The company was still gathered before them, though looking considerably colder and sadder than before. Thorin and Gandalf both looked like they were ready to depart, and Bilba turned round in her saddle to look at her friends once again before they left. She waved at them-they waved back. "If you're ever coming through the Shire," she shouted, "do come round! Tea-time is at four, and don't bother knocking!"

Chapter Text

It was much quicker traveling back to the Shire than it had been traveling to Erebor. The weather was mild, there were much fewer foes to face, and it turns out to be much easier to keep track of three people, rather than fifteen. It was simpler now that they were using the trade routes that had recently been reopened to Erebor. They made a few stops along the journey; Beorn’s garden and Rivendell being the major two (Thorin was not pleased to be in the company of Lord Elrond, again, but Bilba made sure that he did not offend).
In Rivendell, in January, Bilba asked Gandalf his opinion on marriage. Specifically, her marriage to Thorin. Even more so; her proposing to the dwarf. Gandalf told her to wait until they were back in the Shire, and perhaps to get a bead, or use Hobbit traditions with a ring. Bilba had nodded and wished she’d talked to Balin about it before they’d left, and then decided that her father’s wedding ring would have to do for proposals.
In March, only a few weeks before they reached the Shire, Thorin pulled Gandalf aside as well, inquiring about the same as Bilba had been. Gandalf nearly laughed at the hilarity of it all; both were planning to propose to each other. So he told Thorin the same he’d told Bilba-to wait until they were back in the Shire, and perhaps to get a bead, or use Hobbit traditions with a ring. Thorin had very thoroughly stated that he’d already had a ring (by showing it to Gandalf and hastily putting it away when he’d heard Bilba stirring in her bedroll).
The next few weeks passed without incident.
Gandalf left them at the edge of the Shire. Bilba could feel herself relaxing as they walked and talked through the warm April air. It’d been nearly two and a half years and Bilba felt like barely anything had changed. Everything had changed, of course, but she was returning home, and she wasn’t returning home alone, and she’d never been happier.

Chapter Text

Bilba was nearly giddy with excitement. Their surroundings were getting more and more familiar as they got closer and closer to Hobbiton. Thorin thought her giddiness was cute, and didn’t hesitate to tell her so; the comment made her flush a pale pink and bat at his arm. She dismounted her pony in favour of walking, leading their steeds and Thorin to the outskirts of her village.
The familiarity and tranquility of it all was soothing compared to the months and years of rough-and-tumble adventure that they’d just been through. They were standing atop a hill looking down into the town, and Bilba could see everything she could possibly want; the market, the bridge, even Bag-End from here. “I don’t know how you managed to get lost the last time,” said Bilba, turning to Thorin. He gave a little scoff and smiled, dismounting his pony.
“To be fair, it was dark at the time.” Bilba put her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows.
“And you missed the big and round green door?” He shrugged and looked down upon Hobbiton. It was abuzz with the activity of many hobbits, all coming and going. Bilba hmed. “Must be a flea market day.”
“A what?” Thorin asked quizzically.
“Oh, flea market day. Go around to other smials, trade things,” said Bilba with a shrug. “Not my favorite days, but they’re alright.” Bilba’s stomach as they began walking down the path again, loud enough for Thorin to hear it. She glanced down in surprise, and then her face brightened. “Thorin, would you mind going on ahead to Bag-End?” He glanced at her, clouds of dirt puffing around his feet.
“Why?”
“I feel that it could be aired out before we unloaded, and I’m really in the mood for lunch. A real lunch. A real, hobbit lunch.” Thorin chuckled. He’d heard enough on the journey to and from the mountain about how much Bilba missed hobbit meals. Besides, he couldn’t possibly say no when she looked at him with her big hazel puppy eyes.
“I could go for lunch as well,” he agreed. “You head on down to market, then.” Her face lit up at the prospect of food, and he smiled fondly at her.
“It’s just up the hill, you see it,” she said, pointing up the hill towards the deep green door he remembered. “Just tie the ponies up in the back, they can graze. I’ll be home in a bit.” She dug around in one of the saddlebags for a moment before pulling out her coinpurse. Standing on her toes, she briefly pressed her lips to his before taking off down the hill at a brisk pace. “Don’t get lost!” she called back with a grin.
“Be careful!” he called back. He saw her roll her eyes before she turned back around and marched off towards the right to the market. Thorin stuck to the left, going on the path that he faintly remembered leading up the hill to Bag-End.

All the hobbits she passed seemed genuinely surprised to see her. Bilba supposed that was to be expected, however, considering the circumstances surrounding her departure. She thought on what would be for supper and ignored the majority of the confused looks she was getting as she made her way past the different stalls in the marketplace.

Thorin expected stares, he really did. Who wasn’t going to stare at an unfamiliar dwarf making his way through town leading two ponies? The answer was virtually no one, because everyone was preoccupied with gossiping as they carried heavy loads down the path opposite of him. He caught snippets of conversation as he made his way up the hill. “Best dishes from West Farthing I’ve ever seen-”
“Did you manage to get any of her crochet? I managed to pick up at least three pieces-” None of these conversations really concerned him, but as he drew closer to Bag-End, it was beginning to get harder to walk through the thick congregation of hobbits. The babble was growing louder as he pushed through.
“I got such a good deal on Bilba’s spoons, Otho, much better than we would’ve got down at market,” said one hobbit woman. Thorin stiffened and stopped, turning towards her. She made a disgusted face and regarded him with suspicion when she caught his eye. “What do you want, Dwarf?” She spat out the last word like it was sour on her tongue, and Thorin glared.
“What is going on here?”
“Oh. The hobbit that used to live here has been gone for so long that the Thain assumed her dead. There’s an auction.” Thorin’s eyes widened as she scoffed at him.
“Why would- she’s not dead,” he said incredulously. The hobbit raised her eyebrow at him.
“What do you know about it? She ran off without a word two and a half years ago, what else are we supposed to assume?” Thorin turned away from her and made his way once again through the group of hobbits. The man nearest the door was standing behind a podium trying to auction off a quilt. “Homemade, top quality! Been in the Baggins’s family for generations, how much-”
“Stop that,” Thorin interrupted as he stood next to him. The man looked at him blankly, but stopped talking. The hobbits below were still tittering on, though. “Stop, stop, stop!” he shouted. The crowd hushed and stared with wide eyes. “I need everyone to put everything they’ve bought back. Now, if you would.”
“Now just why should we do that?” shouted one woman, clutching a book to her chest.
“Yes!” shouted another, a man draped in drapes. “Why should we give the things we’ve bought back? It’s fair and square, innit?”
“We’ll give you back your money, it’s just-this is unlawful.”
“Not if the Thain pronounced her dead!” the one he’d been speaking with earlier piped in. Many of them voiced agreement with her, but he hushed them again.
“Bilba Baggins isn’t dead. She’s down at market.” And suddenly chaos erupted. Hobbits were shouting at him from every angle, denying she was alive, applauding the fact she was alive, arguing about their newly purchased possessions. One of the hobbits, a portly little man with greying blond hair took off at a brisk walk down the path towards the marketplace, a few other following in his footsteps. The auctioneer pounded his gavel on his pricebook.
“Quiet! Quiet, everyone!” he exclaimed. He seemed to distract the crowd, and the noise came to a grumbling halt. “With no further evidence of the life of Miss Baggins, the sale will continue as planned.” Thorin scowled at him and snatched the book away.
“No, you will not,” he snarled. The auctioneer’s eyes widened and he took a step back. “You’ll not sell any more of her things. She deserved to come back to her home when she returned, not an empty hole.”
“We don’t even know if he’s telling the truth!” screeched the one who he’d spoken to. She was clutching the spoons protectively to her chest. There was a small grumble of agreement among them, though most had the beginnings of guilt showing on their faces.
“You could always go check the marketplace,” Thorin snapped. Spoon-Woman waved her empty hand about.
“Hamfast and Drogo have already gone. We all know you’re a liar,” she sniffed. Many of the hobbits looked like they did not agree. “Dwarves are liars and cheats; you probably just want all of her things for yourself.” Thorin felt his rage growing, and many of the hobbits could see it, but she continued nonetheless, staring at him with a glint in her eye and a smirk on her face. “I don’t know why you’d want her things, anyways. She was a strange, disrespectful little thing. It’s a blessing that she’s gone.” And that’s precisely where Thorin lost his temper.

“Bilba! Bilba Baggins!” The voice was easily recognised, and she looked up from the loaf of bread she was placing in her basket to see the face it belonged to. “It’s you! I can’t believe it’s really you!” shouted Hamfast Gamgee with a relieved smile. He stopped in front of her, eyeing her basket with faint interest. “Where’ve you been?” She smiled and shrugged, giving him a brief hug.
“Hello, Hamfast! I’ve been all over, it is quite a tale.” He smiled and laugh.
“It’s good to have you back! I want to hear about it.”
“Well, perhaps you and Bell and the kids could come over for dinner.” Hamfast’s smiled faltered.
“I don’t… I mean, we’d love to, but. Um. Bilba, the Thain pronounced you dead.” Bilba’s eyebrows shot to her hairline. “They started auctioning off your things earlier today.” Bilba ran a hand over her loose curls and muttered ‘oh dear’ to herself, but Hamfast wasn’t done. “And when I left, there was a very angry dwarf arguing with one Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.” Bilba wondered if her eyebrows had disappeared off her forehead. Her jaw dropped.
“Oh my, oh-Lobelia? Oh, shit.”
“Bilba!”
“Oh, hush now Hamfast,” she remarked, taking off out of the market and up the path, Hamfast on her heels. “They’ll tear each other apart, what, with the temper on the both of them.” Hamfast’s gulp was nearly audible, and Bilba quickened her pace.

Thorin was making noises like an enraged bull, and Lobelia was screeching back like an infuriated owl. The other hobbits were in a tizzy, confused by the anger and wanting nothing more than to leave but wanting to see the end of the predicament. Not one of them made notice of Hamfast and herself pushing through the crowd, not even the ones she pushed. She tried shouting over them, but her voice was lost in the babble amongst the others.
Thorin looked as if he were going to explode. She shouted his name, but he didn’t seem to hear. I need something to throw, Bilba thought. The ground was too crowded for her to feasibly be able to pick up a rock without getting kicked in the face, but then she remembered. Potatoes! Her basket was laden with potatoes and cheese and bread; she stuck her hand in and pulled one out. Then she put it back, because really, that was too big a potato to waste. The next one was smaller, and she threw it with all her might.
It grazed the side of Thorin’s head and blew to pieces against the front of her home. Thorin’s mouth slammed shut as he peered into the crowd; Lobelia looked around as well, probably angry at whoever interrupted her argument. Thorin’s eyes found her almost immediately, his expression softened, and body his relaxed. A whisper went through the crowd as they turned towards her.
“What in Yavanna’s name is going on?!”

Chapter Text

At least the day had had a good start. It had taken a turn for the worse, however, when they’d actually reached Hobbiton. Currently, Bilba was standing with her head on Thorin’s chest in the middle of her empty parlour. You’d think after a two-and-a-half year adventure, things like her entire house being emptied of everything but the beds wouldn’t stress her out as much as it did.
Thorin was in a mood. He was rubbing cautious, comforting circles into Bilba’s back and silently raging about everything that had gone missing. He wondered how long it’d take to get it all back. The auctioneer had left the sales book and the coins when he’d left, which would come in handy. Bilba sighed. “I just expected to come home and everything would be normal.” Thorin rubbed a circle. “Everything is gone and I’m not going to be able to relax or get anything done for at least three days.”
Thorin pulled away and tilted her chin up to look into her eyes. “You should get started on dinner. I’ll take care of it.” She smiled and shook her head with a short little laugh.
“You don’t know where anyone lives, Thorin.” He gave a little shrug and leaned in to kiss her forehead.
“How hard can it be? I’ll get that uhm-Hamfast?-to help me.”
“Hmmn,” she started with a thoughtful look. “I’m sure Hamfast would help you.” She straightened. “Alright, Thorin. Go out and retrieve our things. And invite Bell over for dinner. They live in the smial to the left of us.” He nodded and turned towards the door, making his way outside. “Oh, and Thorin?” He glanced back at her. “Get my silverware back first.”

Hamfast Gamgee was a stocky little fellow, polite, but not afraid to speak his mind. He had four children, and his wife was pregnant. He was a friendly man, but cautious, which made him somewhat suspicious of the dwarf that had brought Bilba Baggins home.
It wasn't as if he didn't understand his motives. The way he looked at Bilba told you enough about those-but strangers are strangers, and nothing sets you off to a bad start like arguing with Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. She was an unpleasant sort, sure, but a respected member of the community. It sets a lot of people on the wrong path of opinions if the first thing you do is start a fight.
Apparently Thorin didn't know. Hamfast could forgive him for that. And he was thinking about going next door to speak to Bilba and the dwarf when there was a knock at the door and Bell shouted at him to get it, because Samwise has gotten into the potato cakes again, Hamfast. So open the smial door swung, and Hamfast, who's there? could be answered with Bilba's terrifying dwarvish fellow.
Of course that's not what he said, because that would be quite rude of him, and so he offered a curt "Good afternoon," as his daughters peered out from behind his knees. And the dwarf nodded at him in response before speaking.
"As I'm sure you're quite aware, our home has been quite efficiently emptied of belongings."
"You can partially blame that on Lobelia, I'm afraid," mentioned Hamfast with a shrug. Thorin raised his eyebrows.
"I want to reclaim what's rightfully ours." He nodded thoughtfully, listening to the dwarf's words. "I did not want Bilba to stress, so I have volunteered to collect everything that's been taken. She suggested I ask you to help with directions. Would you mind?" He personally didn’t mind; in fact, he’d like to get to know the dwarf (under the assumption that he’d be staying awhile), and this seemed like a good opportunity.
“I don’t mind. But of course, it all depends on Bell.”
“What depends on me, now?” Hamfast’s wife was Bell Goodchild, and she was currently walking (as she wasn’t pregnant enough to waddle yet) towards them with their youngest, Samwise, on her hip. The dwarf turned and gave a short bow to her, to which all of the hobbits raised their eyebrows, save Samwise.
“I was asking your husband’s assistance on retrieving our possessions. I’d also like to extend an invitation to dinner from Bilba.” The men looked at her expectantly as she thought over her answer.
“Yes, alright,” she said quickly. “Go on, Hamfast, go help Master Dwarf here with their things; I’ll take lemon tarts and the children over to Bag-End. Would you mind taking Marigold with you, though? She’s been bothering to go out all day.” Hamfast shook his head as his eldest looked excitedly up at him.
And so a dwarf, a hobbit, and a fauntling took off down Bagshot Row with a book of names and a bag of coins.

It was nearing suppertime. Primula hadn’t even thought about what she’d be cooking. She’d mostly been marveling at the trinkets and heirlooms that Drogo had managed to bring back and looking after Frodo. Her son had only just decided to start walking, and boy, had he gotten good at it fast. She caught glimpse of his little black curls as he rounded a corner and she raced after him, only slightly aware of how foolish she would look if Drogo’s mother were to see her. “Frodo? Come out darling, it’s nearly time to start on supper.”
“No, Mumma!” was the response she got, along with a collection of small giggles from further down the hall. Primula huffed and pushed her red hair over her shoulder, wishing that she’d tied it back. Really, a nearly-two-year-old should not be this fast. She saw Frodo slip under the desk in the study and heard him giggle again, and made her way to it.
“Frodo, please come out, I’d love to play with you, but aren’t you getting a bit hun-” She was interrupted by a faint knock on the door. Drogo had left earlier to go to market, and he was the only person who came to mind when she thought of people knocking upon the door. “Frodo, Da’s home.” At those words, the toddler stumbled out of his hiding spot and raced for the door, a look of pure glee upon his face. “Really, Drogo, you’ve bought so much that you can’t even open the door?” she called, following her small son to the front door. She scooped him up at the front hall (he wasn’t yet tall enough to open the door himself), and pulled open the round door.
It was not her husband. One of Hamfast Gamgee’s daughters was standing in front of her, smiling brightly and holding tightly to a box which she knew held Bilba Baggins’s spoons. And behind the girl was… a dwarf? “Hello, Missus Baggins!” said the girl happily.
“Hello, ah…”
“Marigold, Ma’am.”
“Yes, Marigold.” Primula mentally hit herself for not remembering her name, but really, they only moved to Hobbiton from Brandy Hall a few weeks ago, and she couldn’t possibly be expected to know everyone in that amount of time. “Well then. What brings you here?” Frodo squirmed in her grip, but she was hesitant to let him down.
“Well, Miss Bilba is back. And not dead. Oh! This is Mistuh Thorin.” She pointed to the dwarf behind her, who bowed his head slightly at the introduction. “He came back with Miss Bilba. Me an’ Pa are helpin’ to get their stuff back, ‘cause Bag-End is sorta empty now.”
“Oh,” was the only thing she managed to say immediately. Bilba was back? Oh, she had things to return, and perhaps something for supper, and, and, Frodo! She had to introduce her son-oh, so many things to do- “This is great news!” Marigold smiled and nodded, though Thorin only raised his eyebrows. Frodo squirmed again, though this time she put him down.
“Have you got the stuff Mistah Baggins bought?” asked Marigold innocently.
“Of course!” Primula nearly shouted. She was newly abuzz with energy. “I’ll take it back. You go on, Marigold, Mister Thorin. I’ll take them back. Oh, this is great news.”

Bag-End was filled with a great many hobbits that Bilba hadn’t expected to see for a few days, at least. Bell Gamgee was taking up the newly acquired sofa with all of her children, talking merrily with Lily Cotton, who had her daughter, Rosie, on her lap. Eglantine Took and Esmerelda Brandybuck were chasing their respective sons around, trying to keep them out of trouble (and failing miserably). Primula was standing next to her in the kitchen, carving up the ham she’d brought along.
The women had sent their husbands to help Thorin get the rest of the furniture back into it’s rightful place, and the job was nearly done. The parlor was beginning to fill up with the clamor of hobbits returning from a hard job. Marigold Gamgee had set the table earlier, which Bilba had rewarded with a scone, and there was a great shout from Primula of, “Food’s done! Come on in, then! You deserve a reward for all your hard work!”

Thorin had underestimated how much hobbits could eat and talk. He had a large stomach, he knew, but he’d retired to sit in front of the fireplace long ago. The hobbits were just now finishing their meals, the chatter was dying down, and the sound of dishes clinking could be heard from the kitchen. Tiny, tired, and full hobbit children were working their way out to the sitting room where he was, a few of them collapsing on the sofa. The troublemakers named Peregrin and Meriadoc (he learned later that their parents called them Pippin and Merry) decided that he looked like a comfortable thing to curl up on, and very suddenly he was covered in snoozing hobbit children and Bilba was laughing.
Parents sat on the now-clear sofa and in chairs, most of them pulling out pipes. “So what ended up happening on your adventure then, Bilba?” asked Drogo after a few puffs on his pipe.
“It’s quite a long story, actually,” she said with a laugh and a small wink directed at Thorin. “Perhaps you could come by for tea and I could tell the whole thing.” Primula nodded along with her husband at that, before raising her hand to cover her mouth as she yawned.
“I think we’d best be going,” said Paladin, Eglantine’s husband. Eglantine nodded.
“Us too. The children are ready for bed,” said Bell with a small yawn.
“I’m excited at the prospect of a real bed to sleep in,” Bilba closed her eyes and hummed.
“I agree,” nodded Thorin, careful not to dislodge the small Frodo that was asleep on his shoulder. Hamfast turned a bright red.
“Really, you two! In front of the children!” Bilba raised her eyebrows at him, and Marigold whipped her head up at the prospect of hearing something she wasn’t supposed to.
“What’s the matter? I meant sleeping when I said sleeping, Hamfast. And besides, dwarven tradition is a bit different than hobbit in that sense.” Hamfast’s face was slowly returning to it’s normal color, and he gathered Samwise and his daughter, Daisy, off of Thorin.
“...How so?” he asked, curious. Pippin and Merry were gathered off of Thorin by their mothers, and Bilba was saying goodbye as Thorin handed Frodo to Drogo.
“Dwarves may live together with their One while courting,” explained Thorin, standing and stretching, “But sleeping in the same bed is generally frowned upon until after marriage.” Hamfast’s nose twitched as he made his way to the door.
“What a strange tradition.” Bilba waved to him as he left. “Goodnight, you two. Sleep well.”

And so the day ended better than it had begun. Most of the furniture had been returned (save a few of the spoons), and they were now settling down comfortably in their separate rooms, very aware of the empty space next to them.

Chapter Text

Bilba could feel the morning sun on her legs as it filtered in through the window. As it worked its magic in waking her, she was faintly aware of an arm draped across her middle and a faintly snoring dwarf at her back. So much for dwarven tradition, hm? Thorin's nose pressed against the back of her neck as the snoring slowly settled into quiet breaths. And then he yawned and hmed and tightened his arm. "Good morning, Amrâlimê," he murmured against her skin.
"Morning, love," she said with a yawn. She loosened his grip and turned over to face him. "Threw out those old traditions, did you?" she asked with a small smile. He looked at her sheepishly, eyelids still heavy with remnants of sleep.
"On the way home, I grew very accustomed to sleeping next to you. And I tried to fall asleep last night alone, truly, but I couldn't. So here I am. Besides, no one is here to see." She cupped his cheek and kissed him softly for a few moments, pulling away briefly before giving him a few extra.
"I don't mind," she hummed. He chuckled and yawned once more. “How’d you sleep, then?” Bilba asked.
“Better than I have since we left Erebor.”
“Mm. Me too.” She rolled onto her back and sat up, leaning back onto her hands before stretching. “It’s time to get up then!” Thorin looked up at her, surprised, and sat up enough to support himself on his arm.
“Hobbits don’t sleep in?” he asked, incredulous.
“Not on a perfectly sunny day in the middle of April when there’s a breakfast to be made,” she responded with a smile, swung her legs over the side of the bed, and threw her covers off. Thorin grumbled and slumped back down into the bed. “Stay then, love. I’ll bring you something to eat.” She gazed back on the dwarf with a look of fondness before making her way through the empty smial.
Luckily, the Tooks and Brandybucks had brought her enough food to last through elevenses last night as a homecoming gift, which spared her from having to go to the market this early. No doubt she’d have to later, as her pantry was near empty, but breakfast should always come first. As she was gathering the things she would need for breakfast, she heard the faint steps of her dwarf coming down the hall and through the pantry. She had barely begun to fry the first egg before she felt a chin on her shoulder and strong arms wrapped around her abdomen. “What are you making?”
“Eggs, toast and jam, sausages, hash-I’m making anything my heart desires, presently,” she replied smoothly, cracking another egg into the pan.
“That’s quite a lot of food.” Bilba laughed at his statement.
“You know nothing, Thorin Oakenshield. I know I’ve told you about our food, but have I told you about how often hobbits eat?” She felt the miniscule shake of his head on her shoulder and flipped the eggs over. “Alright. Hobbit meals start with breakfast, then move to second breakfast, elevenses, and luncheon.” She took a small pause to pinch some salt and pepper onto the eggs. “There’s only three more after that; afternoon tea, dinner, and supper.” Thorin was quiet for a few moments.
“Seven meals?”
“Mhm!” Bilba hummed, nodding slightly and making room for another egg on the pan.
“I doubt Bombur could even eat that much a day.” Bilba gave a snort and cracked her egg. Thorin chuckled and jostled his arms slightly, bumping into her elbow, which sent an egg tumbling out of the frying pan and into the fire. Bilba frowned slightly and Thorin withdrew from his former wrapped-around-his-love position. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s alright,” she said, with a little shrug. The eggs were quickly replaced.
“Should I go find something else to do?” She smiled and rolled her eyes at him.
“I don’t mind that you’re here, honestly. Though, if you want to leave me to cook in peace, you could go pick out what you want for lunch? We’re going to need to go shopping soon anyway to refill the pantry, but nothing before one, I think.” Thorin gave a nod that he knew she couldn’t see.
“Alright.”
“Don’t be gone too long, I don’t want your breakfast to get cold.”

The day was bright and warm, and Thorin couldn’t help humming on his way down to the marketplace. Much to his delight, Bilba had graciously volunteered to braid his hair back before he’d left, and it was now held back against the breeze (the braid was a relief, actually; he often forgot how heavy his hair actually was). Not a great deal of people were down at market currently, though he could see that most of the townsfolk had already started their day. The walk down to the center of Hobbiton was a pleasant one.
Among the hobbits milling around the stalls were a few Thorin recognised from the night before, though none of them were looking at food. Quite a few were talking about it, and he caught snippets of conversation while he looked over some apples in front of him.
“Yes, the Bagginses were in charge of this year’s festival feast,” said Primula, adjusting Frodo on her hip. “I think Drogo’s still working on it, actually, with his mother.” Thorin raised his eyebrows and placed a few of the apples in his basket.
“Does this mean Laura’s made her raspberry tarts?” Eglantine inquired. Primula nodded, and then spotted Thorin looking at them.
“Good morning, Thorin!” she exclaimed, waving. Frodo copied his mother’s actions.
“Good morning, Primula,” Thorin responded.
“Are you and Bilba coming to the Festival?” asked Eglantine, dusting her dress off as she and Primula came over.
“Festival?”
“Yes, of course, you wouldn’t know about it,” started Primula. “Well, it’s April seventeenth, meaning today is the Festival of Spring. Happens every year. It used to be in March, but it’s too chilly to dance and eat during the night in March, so now it’s in April.”
“I bet Bilba’s forgotten all about it! Go back up the hill and tell her to come over, we’ve got a few dresses ready. And you should probably change, too,” said Eglantine with a nudge to his ribs and a cheeky smile.
“Thank you for telling me. I should go, then.”
“Get on now, then! The food starts at two!” stated Primula, waving him off.

Bilba had not let him speak much when he got back; instead, he ate breakfast. Dishes were now being washed, and Thorin cleared his throat. “So…” Bilba looked up at him.
“Hm?”
“The Festival of Spring.” She furrowed her brow for a moment before she smiled and her face lit up like the sun.
“I can’t believe I forgot about it!” Thorin smiled at her excitement as she handed him the last dish to dry. “We’re going to need to get ready!” She wiped the water from her hands and turned to walk out of the kitchen. She stopped halfway to the door and her expression fell as she turned towards him. “I haven’t a dress. I mean, not a festival dress. What will I do about that?” She crossed her arms with a huff, brow furrowed in frustration and thought.
“Bilba,” he paused to pat her shoulder, and she looked at him quizzically, “Primula and Eglantine asked me to send you over to them, because they’ve got a few dresses ready.” And the smile was back, easy as that.
“I should-I should go, then, shouldn’t I?” Thorin smiled at her and gave a small nod. She perched herself up on her tip-toes and gave him a kiss before whisking through the door. “We’ll get your outfit situated when I get back, okay?”

Primula was holding up two dresses. Eglantine was brushing off the other two, ones that Bilba had already discarded. "Alright, c'mon, Bilba. Blue or yellow?" she asked, turning round.
"You've always looked nice in yellow," piped in Primula, her voice muffled behind the fabric. It was true, of course. Bilba tapped her chin, before nodding.
"Yes, all right. Yellow it is, then." Primula smirked triumphantly as she handed Eglantine the discarded dress.
"I want to see you in it, come one Bilba." The girls were already in their dresses, Eglantine in a deep purple and Primula in pale green, and waited patiently as Bilba switched into the new dress. "Oh, it's perfect on you!" gushed Primula, tugging the hem into place and tying the front.
"Your dwarf is going to swoon when he sees you," remarked Eglantine with a laugh, as there was a knock at the door. She answered. "I'll be back, apparently Paladin and Pippin need my assistance." The door clicked shut behind her, and Bilba turned towards Primula.
"Shall I bring the dress back to you after the festival, then?" she asked. Primula laughed and shook her head.
"Please now, Bilba. Honestly, it looks better on you than me. It's a present."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure, you nut," said Primula with a smile and a wave of her hand. "Now, onto bigger and better things… that dwarf of yours…"
"Thorin? What about him."
"You did good with that one, Bilba. He's a looker." Bilba could feel her cheeks heating up as she attempted to come of with an answer. She ended up just sitting down in a chair against the wall with red cheeks, hiding behind her hands. Primula laughed. “You can’t say it’s not true, though,” she said matter-of-factly. Her expression turned semi-serious. “Are you going to marry him?” Bilba lifted her head.
“I certainly plan to.” Primula gave her a grin, and then jumped at the squeak of the door opening.
“Come on girls, it’s time to go.”

Chapter Text

"Then, we fell down and down into the deep underside of this mountain. I lay among a patch of mushrooms, and this... creature, named Gollum, dragged away the goblin." Thorin was paying as much attention to the story as the hobbits surrounding them. This was a bit he hadn't heard before. "I knew when he spotted me that he planned on killing me, but I had to make the best of the situation, as anyone would." The hobbits waited with bated breath as she paused to take a sip of lemonade. "So I challenged him to a game of riddles."
The Festival had started hours ago; so long ago, in fact, that dessert had been placed on the tables and the sun was beginning to set. This was the third time that Thorin reckoned Bilba had told this story, though she told it with the same amount of enthusiasm each time. (He regretted not listening to her tell it sooner, actually, but she'd told him to go socialise.)
"Surprisingly enough, he was quite good at riddles. He started with, 'What has roots as nobody sees, is taller than trees; up, up, up it goes, and yet, never grows?'" A few members of the crowd whispered their responses to the person they sat next to, waiting eagerly for Bilba to continue. "Of course, that one was rather simple, the answer being 'the mountain'. I wanted desperately not to die and I knew I needed to outsmart him." She prattled off a few more of the riddles for the crowd to mull over before she came to the end of them.
"I had one more chance. And without even meaning it, I asked him a question he couldn't possibly know the answer to; 'What have I got in my pocket?'" A few of the crowd cocked their heads. "Not a riddle, but to be fair, he did ask for a question. He told me it wasn't fair, but he still wanted to try. So I gave him three chances to guess. His first guess was ‘Handses’, and then ‘Knife!’, ‘String’, or ‘nothing’. He was wrong on all counts, and I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t going to show me out of the tunnels like he promised. So I raised my sword, and…” Heads turned as Lobelia Sackville-Baggins marched over to the group.
“Come on, everyone. The dancing’s about to start.”
“But Bilba hasn’t finished her story yet!” shouted a fauntling sitting on the ground. There was a murmur of agreement from a few of the other hobbits, but most of them had begun to stand and brush off their skirts and trousers, Bilba included. Lobelia scoffed at the statement.
“Why do people listen to your ridiculous tales, anyway?” asked Lobelia with a sneer. “You couldn’t have possibly done everything you say you have.” She watched the group depart to where Paladin had begun setting up his instruments and sniffed. “You must’ve had a terribly boring trip if you had to make up a dirty creature to play riddles with to entertain yourself.” Thorin wanted to yell at this hobbit, do something to stop her absolutely horrid rudeness, but before he could even think of what to say, Bilba laid a hand on his arm.
“My journey was terrifying and tiring, but not boring. And the creature I encountered was far more endearing than the one I see in front of me now," Bilba remarked, looking Lobelia up and down before turning away. She glanced back over her shoulder to say, "Even if he only had nine teeth and a bald head, even if he tried to kill me, he was still easier to look at and better company than you, Lobelia. Come along, Thorin, I’ve got to teach you the steps.” They left Lobelia with her mouth agape and her face red with anger, and Thorin laughed at the sight.

There were a few things that Bilba was learning today. One of them was that apparently, Thorin was quite good at dancing. It wasn’t like the dance was particularly difficult, but he caught onto it quicker when she showed him than she had the first time she’d done it. She also learned that he looked particularly handsome in his shade of blue, which was something she’d known before, but could always appreciate.
The field was surrounded by lanterns, and the sky was alight with stars. “Come on, Thorin, you’ve got the steps down, we’ve got to dance!” she urged, tugging him towards the field. And so he took both of her hands and pulled her into the crowd. The dance had begun.

It was a whirlwind of music and light and movement. Elbows linked as partners spun, and then each pair stood in front of each other, lifting skirts with kicks of left forward, back and behind, right forward, back and behind, twice. And then there was the touching of palms as partners spun once more, clapped thrice, and swung around to a different partner. It was rather organised, all things considered.
As the dancing continued, the tempo sped up, feet moved faster, and people were nearly swung off balance. It was laughter and happiness and cheeks rosy from the heat of it all. Each partner Thorin had did it a little differently, and he had to move differently to accommodate them; stooping low for the fauntlings and slowing slightly for the elderly (he’d tried this with Laura Baggins and had been swatted at and told to keep up).
People started falling out as the tempo increased, laughing and standing on the side to watch and clap with the beat. The spinning steps sent many couples out of the dance until he and Bilba were among the only few left, the others being Drogo and Primula, a few couples he didn’t know, and surprisingly enough, Marigold Gamgee. And very suddenly his partner switched from Marigold back to Bilba again and it was like looking at the stars.
The apples of her cheeks were flushed from the dancing. She was panting slightly, smiling widely up at him and laughing as they spun. The light from the lanterns made her hazel eyes sparkle and shine. As the song stopped, the dancing did as well, her honey-blonde curls bouncing to a stop against her back and shoulders. The crowd surrounding them cheered, though it was already starting to spread out again for the next song. Bilba laughed and released his hands as the crowd dissipated, and looked up at him curiously. “What’re you looking at?”
“Nothing. Well, I mean. You. You’re beautiful, ghivâshel,” he breathed. Bilba blinked up at him, lips parted slightly in surprise, and began to blush.
“I-thank you,” she murmured, giving him a small smile. Thorin cleared his throat slightly before straightening.
“Would you like a drink?” Bilba nodded slowly.
“I think Grandmother has had the wine set out. At least, I would hope she would have by now.” Bilba led the two of them to the table and poured two glasses of wine, handing one of them to him. After taking a sip, she cocked her head slightly. “Do you want to take a walk?”

The night was warm and the moon lit the path for them. They walked at a leisurely pace, hand in hand, sipping their wine. The comfortable silence continued until suddenly the wine was gone and they were sitting on the bench inside their front gate, Bilba tucked happily into Thorin’s side. The glasses had been placed on the step, and both were looking at the stars, Thorin humming a song under his breath, and tapping the beat onto her ribs.
“Thorin?” Bilba asked after a moment. He stilled his humming and tapping.
“Yes, ghivâshel?”
“What does that mean?”
“Ghivâshel?”
“Yes,” she said with a nod. Thorin gave a small chuckle before answering.
“It means ‘treasure of all treasures’.” She smiled softly, leaning against him.
“What’s the other one?”
“Amrâlimê?” Bilba nodded furiously. “It means ‘my love’.Would you like me to tell you more?”
“If you’d like to,” she hummed.
“‘Men lananubukhs menu’ means I love you. And I do.” Bilba could see his face turning pink; it made her smile and her heart grow fonder of him (if it was possible).
“I love you, too.” He was looking down at her like she was the greatest thing he’d ever seen. She could feel the blush heating her cheeks.
“Men mahayâsith.” I’ve never heard this one, she thought.
“What’s that one mean?”
“Marry me.” The question surprised her so much that she nearly toppled off of the bench when she sat up straight to look at him.
“I. What?” her voice wavered when she spoke, and her right hand was planted very firmly over her heart.
“I asked you to marry me. I know it’s sort of-but I’ve been waiting to for-well, I’ve had this since we left the mountain,” he stuttered nervously, pulling a small cloth out of his pocket. “I made it the week before we left. It’s why you didn’t see me much,” he added. He tugged a corner of the cloth away to reveal a small ring.
“Oh, my,” was all she could say, currently. It was a very thin band, the gold surrounding the jewel curling up to create ornate little flowers and leaves. “You made this?” she asked incredulously, looking up at him. He nodded. “Oh, my.” She could feel her heartbeat with her hand. Then she smiled, and very nearly felt like her face was going to break. “Yes, I’ll marry you, of course! But!” She reached into the pocket on the skirt of her dress, and pulled out a ring of her own. “Only if you marry me.”
Now Thorin, who was beaming at her, looked as surprised and happy as she had been a few moments earlier. “It’s not nearly as fancy, and I didn’t make it; it was my father’s. I didn’t know when the time would come, so I’ve just been… carrying it around.” And very suddenly she was squished up against the chest of her dwarf in a very large, very comforting hug that she happily reciprocated.
“I’m so happy I think I could cry,” murmured Bilba into his shoulder. “My heart could burst. I love you, Thorin Oakenshield.”
“And I you, Bilba Baggins.”

Chapter Text

Primula wasn't exactly sure why she'd agreed to do this. She was surrounded by dried flowers, live flowers, and pictures of flowers. She could feel her hair coming out of its bun, and could see curly red strands of it hanging down in front of her eyes because she'd ran her hands along it and through it so many times. Planning your own wedding nearly drove you mad, Prim, she thought. Why would you volunteer to help with Bilba's? She gave a sigh and peered in the kitchen after her cousin, who was preparing tea, before her gaze flicked to Thorin, who was stroking his beard and thoughtfully flipping through the pages of one of the flower books.
"I'm afraid I can't figure out how to arrange your flowers, Bilba," Prim sighed, closing one of the books. "Do you even know what flowers you want?" Thorin had switched to twiddling with his courting braid while reading one of the flower descriptions. Bilba reappeared from the kitchen with a tray of tea and biscuits.
"Clear a space, if you would." Primula pushed a few of the books and vases to the side as Bilba set the tray down. "Mm. I was thinking about daisies, or gerberas? For loyal love and cheerfulness, of course." She poured a cup of tea and handed it to Prim, then another to Thorin. "Hydrangeas for feelings from the heart, purple lilacs for first love. Perhaps sunflowers? I'm not sure about the sunflowers, though."
"You can't have a wedding without peonies, Bil," added Primula in a slightly frazzled voice. Bilba snapped her fingers and smiled.
"Knew I'd forgotten one."
"What do peonies stand for?" asked Thorin, staring at them both quizzically and taking a sip of his tea.
"Oh, bashfulness, compassion. It symbolizes a happy life and a happy marriage, good health, and prosperity." She sat besides Primula and flicked open one of the books, before glancing up at Thorin. "Have you got any suggestions?" It didn't seem that he was going to say anything, until he furrowed his brow, trying to remember.
"Al.. hmm. Alstroemeria?"
"Mm. Wealth, prosperity, and fortune," quipped Primula, yawning slightly. Bilba scribbled it down in a little book next to a few other flower names. Primula sipped her tea again, before humming and lowering the teacup. "Have you two even decided on when the wedding’s going to be?"
"October," said the two of them simultaneously. Primula raised her eyebrows.
"Really? Decided that already? It took Drogo and I nearly a month to set the date."
"It was such a lovely spring wedding, though," responded Bilba with a small smile. The three settled into a comfortable silence as they continued with their tea and biscuits, and were promptly interrupted by a knock on the door. Thorin and Primula both moved to stand, but Bilba was up before either of them. "I'm getting it, sit down," she commanded, before bustling off down the hall. They both settled back into their seats, Thorin still twiddling with his braid and bead, and listen to a familiar babble of voices.
Only about a minute had passed before the sound of the front door closing again resounding through the smial. "Mumma!" came an easily recognizable shout. Primula sat up and dusted her skirt off before standing. Bilba led Drogo, who was holding Frodo, into the sitting room.
"Hello, Loves," said Prim, walking over to her family. "Suppose I'll be on my way now, Bilba."
"Thank you for helping us, Primula," Thorin responded.
"Yes, we'd probably still be arguing about colors if you hadn't stopped by." Primula smiled at them both.
"It was no problem. I'll be back round in a few days to help again, if you need it." Bilba nodded, smiled, and waved at her cousins as they departed.

Bilba returned from seeing her cousins out to Thorin, who was quietly piling the plates and empty teacups back onto the tray to carry into the kitchen. There was a stoic look on his face, and his lips were set into a hard line. His expression was one she recognized, one most commonly found in the line of Durin, one that usually had something to do with wounded pride, and it was what made her follow him into the kitchen. "Everything alright, Thorin?" The dishes clinked together as he set the tray on the countertop and turned towards her.
"Are you going to go to Primula about our wedding the whole time?" Bilba nearly rolled her eyes; this was something they'd talked about, briefly, the week before.
"I won't go to her, but if she offers help, I'm not going to turn her down."
"Bilba-"
"I'm not going to turn down her offers to help us out of stubborn pride, Thorin," she said forcefully, crossing her arms. She could see him clench his jaw.
"It's not a matter of pride," he muttered, before strengthening his voice. "We talked about this. It's tradition for the planning to be taken over by the couple two weeks after the initial engagement, and now it's been four, and you continue to accept help we shouldn't need. This period of time is supposed to be a trial to see how we work together!"
"We shouldn't need this time to see how we work together, we had to work together for two and a half years before this," she scoffed, glaring up at him. "Besides, hobbits don't do trials! We plan our weddings with our families, and usually have a good time doing it; we don't throw away the enjoyment and bonding time to prove to others that we work well together. We aren't so proud that-" She was interrupted by his humorless laugh.
"Proud? You once told me that you were not respectable, that you were the worst type of hobbit. If being kind, honorable, adventurous, intelligent, and loyal to a fault are not traits that hobbits find pride in, then I most certainly will say that your people are not a proud people." Bilba's face reddened and her eyes turned thunderous.
"Really! And like dwarves are any better! What, with your pointless wars, your sulking, your distrust, and your overabundance of pride! You've got nothing to be proud of, either, Thorin Oakenshield! You're arrogant and brutish, so stubborn that it's hard to believe! All dwarves care for is the crown on their brows and the gold in their purses! At least hobbits care for more than beads and braids!" Thorin sucked in a breath through his nose and glared down at her, balling his hands into fists at his sides.
"If that's how you feel, why am I here?! Why am I in this smial, hundreds of miles from my kin when I could be ruling besides them in Erebor?!" He barely glanced at her face before he stormed past, thundering through the smial and into the breezy afternoon air. He let out a large breath, dropping his head and rubbing at his eyes with his right hand. Mahal, I need a drink.
Inside, Bilba sat on the floor and let her head fall into her hands, trying to keep the sound of her tears quiet.

It’d been two hours. Bilba knocked on the door of the smial next door, and it was Bell who answered. “Oh, hello, Bilba. Everything alright?” She looked worried, but didn’t press. Bilba gave her a weak smile.
“Do you think I could borrow Hamfast for a bit?”
"Of course I don't mind. I'll just-" she turned briefly into the smial and yelled, "Hamfast! Bilba for you!" before turning back around with a smile. Bilba waved when he appeared at the door.
"Would you like to take a walk?"

"I feel like I've just ruined my relationship. I don't even know where he stormed off to, I just know that it was a very angry conversation and now I'm hoping he's not so cross when he comes home." He looked at her thoughtfully. "If he comes home," she added. Hamfast hmed.
“Every couple has arguments, Bilba. It’s perfectly normal.”
“You didn’t see this one, Hamfast. It was awful.” She rubbed at her eyes. “I didn’t mean anything that I said. And it was all about traditions and the wedding… I think he’s a little overwhelmed with it.”
“It’s a lot to handle, so I can see how he would be. Doesn’t excuse his actions, though,” he grumbled.
“No, it doesn’t, but mine aren’t justified, either.” They were silent for a few more moments. “I need to find him so we can fix this.”
“He loves you Bilba, I truly think he does.” Bilba looked over at him, surprised. “Everyone can see that you two are over the moon for each other. And if he’s too stubborn and thick to not make amends, then honestly, he doesn’t deserve you. But if you both care for each other as much as it looks like you do, this’ll be just a bump in the road. It’s going to be fine for you, I truly believe so.”

He left her on the steps of Bag-End at sundown, and she sat in front of the fireplace, waiting for her stubborn dwarf to return.

Chapter Text

The walk home from the Green Dragon seemed to take a great deal longer than the walk there. He supposed it had something to do with his mood, though. His father used to say that anger made your blood pump and your actions quick, while regret did the opposite. He could see now how true that was. He'd been so cross on the way to the pub, letting his anger simmer under the surface of his skin. He had barely even ordered his pint before the stomach-roiling guilt had started to seep in.
There'd been a dwarf, a merchant who said he was at the Green Dragon with trade from the Prancing Pony over in Bree, and they'd gotten talking, and Thorin had accidentally ranted to the fellow. And he'd suggested that Thorin return to Erebor, the thought of which sent Thorin into a scowl.
"Of course I couldn't do that," he'd said, shaking his head. "That's a horrible suggestion. Leaving her here would ruin my life, I don't want to think about what it would do to her. I love her, I couldn't do that to her." That conversation and the realization that she'd been right about him being stubborn made him abandon his half-full pint and his payment on the bar.
He was nearing Hobbiton now, though. He could see the faint lights coming from candles in window. The stars twinkled as he dragged his feet up the path and hoped to all the Valar that he could somehow convince Bilba to forgive him.

He sort of expected there to be some sort of noise inside the smial when he opened the door, but the only thing that seemed different from any other night was the candlelight coming from the sitting room. He shut the door, waiting for the quiet click before going to find the source of the candlelight.
Bilba was asleep on the sofa in front of the fireplace, feet tucked under her and cheek resting on her open palm. There was an empty cup which he could only assume had held tea earlier, and a closed book besides it. With the fire dwindling, and not wanting to wake her, there was only one thing he could think to do. He was gone briefly, down the hall and into their room, to grab the quilt that sat at the foot of the bed. When he reappeared in the sitting room, he draped it over her. I suppose our talk will wait until morning, then.
He blew out the candle that sat on the table besides the cup and the book, gathering up the cup to take to the kitchen. Before he could take more than three steps, however, there was a tired yawn from the chair. "Thorin?" Or perhaps not. “Is that you?” He gently placed the cup back before speaking.
"Yes, I'm home," he murmured softly, taking a seat besides her. She regarded him with sleepy, heavy-lidded eyes, before yawning spectacularly.
"I wasn't sure you'd be coming back," she admitted softly, sitting up, still curled under the blanket. He looked nervously at his hands. "Where'd you go?"
"The Green Dragon."
"And how much did you drink?"
"Barely half a pint. I had it in my mind to be angry, but... You were right, you know. About my stubbornness. And nearly all you said about dwarves."
"No, it was wrong of me to say those things. I didn't mean them. I was just cross with you, and for my own selfish reasons. I didn't stop to think about you and how strange this transition must be for you and I didn't... Take you into account, when I should've." Thorin looked up at her when he heard her sniffle. She had both of her hands on her face, wiping desperately at her cheeks. "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm still..." she choked out. Thorin reached out and brought her close to him immediately, and she leaned heavily against him.
"Hey now, hey," he murmured into her hair. "This isn't your fault, not entirely. I pushed on changing things that come as natural to you. We didn't talk about our clashing traditions and values and I mean." He paused for a moment. "I shouldn't've said what I did. And it doesn't help that our tempers are bested only by each other's." She laughed quietly.
"I'm sorry. And I just thought... Perhaps that you were so angry that you'd just. Leave." She looked with tired eyes up at him. He pressed his lips against her forehead and pulled her closer. She tucked her head under his chin.
"I'd never do that to you, ghivâshel. I'm sorry that my actions made you think I would." A large yawn made its way past his mouth, and Bilba pulled back to look at him, a small smile on her face.
"We could finish discussing this in the morning, if you'd like. Over breakfast. And we could start settling the whole 'traditions' thing."
"Deal," he yawned. Bilba finally moved to stretch, leaving the quilt heaped on the sofa. She bent over quietly, briefly pressing her lips softly against his before pulling away and humming.
"Your beard's getting longer."
"I know, I'll get to put a braid in it soon," he responded, smiling brightly up at her. She smiled back.
"Come on, come to bed."

Knock knock knock! The sound was making its way into her subconscious. The loud knocking was accompanied by an even louder cawing. Bilba groaned, burrowing farther under the covers. Knock knock! Bilba could hear Thorin groan this time, and felt his arm tighten on her waist. "What in Mahal's..." He groaned again, releasing her and sitting up, while Bilba pulled the blankets farther over her head. "Is that...?" The mattress dipped and then the door opened, Thorin's footsteps receding. Bilba sighed, settling back into the pillows as the knocking stopped. She was just dropping off again when she felt Thorin tug the blankets down and gently shake her shoulder.
"What is it?" she mumbled, batting tiredly at his hand.
"A raven. From Erebor."
"Yes, well," she yawned, "I don't speak raven as you do." She opened her eyes, blinking blearily before she focused on the window. "It's not even dawn yet! Can't it wait?" Thorin gave her an amused look.
"The sun's nearly up anyhow. Besides, there's a letter on his leg and its addressed to you." Bilba frowned slightly before slowly sitting up.
"Do you know who from?"
"Well, as it's for you, I haven't opened it." She yawned and stretched as he paused in his answer. "But the handwriting is familiar. If I had to bet, I'd say it's from Kíli." That woke her up a little more, and she finally stood up, pushing her hair out of her face. The tiredness started to leave her, excitement taking its place.
"Alright, take me to the raven."

Dear Bilba,
I wasn't sure when you two'd reach the Shire, so I'm sending this now in caution and in the hopes that you two have made it there safely. If you have, then good! I’m glad! You’re probably reading this then. Anyways, I’ve been wanting to write for a while, and Fíli was nagging (and so was everyone else who found out about it) so I finally got around to doing it. It’s been busy since you left, Bilba. Amad has been working hard at the restoration of Erebor, and I barely see Fíli anymore because he’s busy helping. I suppose that’s his job, though.
Speaking of Fíli, I think Amad is going to pass the throne to him soon. Don’t let Uncle tell him with the raven, though. And again about Fíli; he’s invited his betrothed to Erebor and she’s finally told him that she’s coming. Her name is Ylda and she currently resides in Ered Luin, though I suspect she’s on her way to Erebor now.
I’ve been told multiple times by multiple people that you and Uncle are missed very dearly (I think the Company misses mainly your company and not his as much, but don’t tell him I said that). Ori is a particular bother some days; he’s a scribe now and, surprisingly, can’t find the time to write. Bofur travels between Dale and Erebor a lot; he and Bifur went into toymaking-well, Bifur makes the toys, and Bofur sells them. They’re quite popular, actually. He’s told me to tell you that things are going well and he misses your company, and wonders when he can visit (I wonder the same, actually. Let me know when you reply). I’m one-hundred percent certain that everyone wishes you two were back here, even Dwalin, though he hasn’t expressed this emotion directly or to me.
I have other news, by the way. Tauriel and I were married at the beginning of April. Amad had finally warmed up to the idea enough by then. She says thank you for helping her when she needed it. We live in Dale, which is flourishing surprisingly well since we took the mountain and the people of Laketown took Dale. Speaking of weddings; we’ve all taken bets on when you and Thorin are going to announce that you’ve been married. If you get married sometime after July, Fíli, Dwalin, Gloin, and Nori all owe me.
I hope the raven reaches you in a reasonable amount of time, because it’d be rather silly to get a response in August and have forgotten what I’d sent. Hope you’re well, give Uncle our love. We miss you! Still wish you’d’ve stayed here with us. (Perhaps) we’ll see you soon?
Lots of love from us here,
Kíli

Bilba reread the last two paragraphs of the letter three times over before looking up, a mixture of confusion, mild anger, and mild excitement on her face. Thorin glanced up at her, glanced at the raven, and then, finally, his gaze settled on her. “Is something wrong?” Bilba turned to look at him, knowing that she needed to reply to the letter immediately. The raven stopped its pips, twiddles, and whistles.
“He got married!”

Chapter Text

Dearest Kíli,
It's May 14th when I'm sending this, so when you get this, you'll know how long letters from the Shire to Erebor take. We arrived here in the middle of April, after your wedding, I'd imagine. Congratulations, by the way!
I almost got mad at you for not inviting us, even though we wouldn't've been able to come (I did get mad, in fact; that's not the point), but then your uncle explained that apparently, dwarvish weddings only have the parents and siblings of the bride and groom as guests. That is not how hobbit weddings are done.
He also looked as if he were going to explode when I told him who you married. Then I got to explain that if he's still mad about elves not helping, he should be mad at Thranduil, not all elves everywhere. And I also explained that he can't be mad at you for not marrying a dwarf, and that'd be very, very hypocritical of him. He sends his congratulations, the same as I.
I am slightly disappointed in you all for taking bets on our wedding date, but that does not mean I did not expect it. I suppose, though, that this means you should tell Fíli, Dwalin, Gloin, and Nori to pay up. And you can visit when you all come to the wedding. It's set for October the Third. I've sent along separate invitations for everyone, even though Thorin told me that I didn't need to (it would've been rude of me to not). (Also, I know it's not dwarvish tradition, but it is hobbit, and we're trying to have an equal balance of the two).
Please make sure to distribute the invitations for me, Kíli! Thank you. Send a letter back with who's coming so we know who we should expect and who we won't. We're hoping to see you very soon!
-Love, Bilba

PS: Make sure that your Tauriel is healthy and happy. Treat her right, I don't expect you'll be any nephew of mine if you don't.
P-PS: Tell Fíli that I expect nothing less from him for his Ylda, alright?

 

Tauriel finished reading the letter in the early morning light. Kíli sat in a slightly overstuffed armchair next to the window, a smile plastered on his face. Fíli, who’d come over for breakfast, sat at the kitchen table with a glass of milk and one of the included invitations in his hand. Fíli's smile was near as big as his brothers, but faltered slightly when the first thing out of Kíli's mouth was, "Pay up, big brother."
"Really, Kíli, not even 'it's about time'? Straight to 'pay up'?" grumbled Fíli, but if there's one thing you could say about dwarves, it's that they didn't stint on their debts. Tauriel was poring over the letter, an amused smile on her face as she read the ps's again. She interrupted the brother's jesting after a few moments.
"I quite like that they're trying to make a balance of each other's traditions." Kíli plopped back down into his chair, pockets jingling slightly.
"Don't you think it'd get confusing, though?" stated Fíli, taking a sip of his milk. "I mean, it'll be quite a jumble when we get there."
"There's no saying we can go, Fee," Kíli said with a frown. Fíli gave his younger brother a scowl.
"Well, we both know that there's no way we're not going, even if it is against Amad's wishes. Besides, this could be the only time we'll see them in a great while, and I want to see how everything turns out."
"We should probably begin handing out the invitations, don't you think?" asked Tauriel, waving the handful of envelopes slightly. Fíli nodded.
"I'll take half, you take the others." As Tauriel separated the papers, half to Fíli and half to Kíli, Fíli added, "I do wonder what will come of their whole 'bonding traditions' thing."
"Mm. Me too. Best keep it simple, I think," Kíli mused. Tauriel rolled her eyes at the both of them.
"Honestly, you two. I think it's noble. They are getting married, and they'll have to bond in each way they can. Exposing each other to their each heritage and such will help the relationship get stronger. And besides, I would've done the same, if I'd been able to get everything needed to have a traditional Elvish marriage."
Even Fíli paled at the thought of that.

Kíli was having a fine day, thank you very much. He'd somehow managed to convince Fíli to convince their mother to let them go, his pocket was jingling with a bet well paid off, and he'd (more likely than not) be able to travel to the shire for a wedding. He had two more invitations to deliver; Bofur's, and Ori's.
He'd expected to find Bofur where he found Bifur-in their stall in Dale, where he usually was. And he hadn't been with Bombur, either. He hadn't really expected that, but they were brothers, so it was plausible. He'd even checked to see if he was with Bombur's wife and children, but no, he'd not been there, either. He half hoped that the always-behatted dwarf would be with Ori, in the library, so that's where he'd set his sights.
Erebor's library was a grand old thing, and it had barely needed any restoration after Smaug. The great prune probably didn't have much need for books of paper and ink thought Kíli, pulling open the door. It smelled of dust and old pages, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant. Lamplight flickered gently on the walls, and no open flame was near any of the shelves.
Ori was not hard to find. The back left corner was where he was usually, at a little table, poring over old books. Sometimes he copied books, sometimes he copied things to put into books; his jobs varied, and Kíli wasn't one to keep up with them. They changed too often for that. The younger dwarf looked up when he heard the approaching footsteps, and smile briefly before his eyes returned to his work. "Hello, Kíli."
"I've brought something for you, Ori." This made Ori look up again, confusion written on all of his features.
"Usually it's servants or-well, not usually princes who bring requests." Kíli handed him the paper, grinning. "What's this?"
"A request, of sorts. Have you any idea where Bofur would be?"
"Of course I do, he's at home." Ori's confused face turned delighted when he read the invitation. "Oh, this is just-! Do you think we'll actually be able to go? I've got to talk to Dori!" He shut his books, shuffled his papers into a neat pile. "I'll take that to Bofur, if you'd like." Kíli nodded, handing him the last invitation. "Thank you, Kíli!"
"You're welcome, Ori," Kíli responded with a laugh as the younger dwarf made his way, rather excitedly, out of the library.

"What do you mean, an invitation?" came Dís's voice. Fíli passed her the piece of paper. "When did you get this?" she asked, reading it over.
"This morning."
"You're sure it's from them."
"Yes. It arrived with a letter for Kíli. He wrote to them, not too long ago." His mother hummed, placing the paper on her desk. She was surrounded by papers, and Fíli wasn't quite sure how she'd be able to pick it out, later. But apparently there was some semblance of organization in his mother's eyes, because she picked out two documents from beneath a pile, signed them, and set them off to the side. He could tell by the look on her face that she was thinking. It was a few more moments before she deemed it wise to speak.
"I'll have to go, of course. As is proper."
"Amad-"
"Don't know how I'll manage that. Perhaps Balin will be able to look after things." She looked up at her eldest, saw the look on his face, and furrowed her brow. "What is it?"
"We've all received invitations, Amad." She raised her eyebrows at that, and ran her fingers through her beard.
"That's strange. Why?"
"Hobbit tradition."
"That's absurd, we can't all leave the mountain for a few months for a wedding on the other side of the world."
"It's not as if everyone in the mountain would be leaving. Only the company has been invited, and you are Tauriel, as well. It would be… rude, not to go, Amad. In Bilba’s eyes. They’d be hurt by it. Bilba more than Thorin, though."
"I can't very well leave Erebor in Dain's hands, can I? He's got the Iron Hills to look after, his own lords and lands. I don’t wish to offend or annoy, but if we cannot find the men..."
"I'm sure that Lords Alvis and Baldr would be honored if you left the mountain to their care…" His mother hummed, still weaving her fingers through her beard.
"If we were to go-which I'm not saying we shall-who would you leave in our stead?"
"Well," said Fíli, thoughtfully, after a few moments. "Lords Alvis and Baldr, of course. We value their opinions above most others, and they don't often make decisions that we don't see wise. But also, Lord Sigrún. She balances out Alvis and Baldr, adds insight and knowledge of our people to their choices." Dís nodded slowly.
"And what of the guard? If everyone were to go, we'd need a captain of the guard to replace Dwalin, for the time being."
"Dwalin should be the one to decide who commands them while he's gone, if he wants to go. He knows the guards best, so it only makes sense." His mother smiled at him, clearly pleased with him.
"I don't think it's that unreasonable for us to go…" Fíli brightened tenfold. "But we'd need to leave soon, to get there in a reasonable amount of time. And we must make adequate plans in advance beforehand." Fíli didn't even mind the extra work he was getting himself into; it was for good reason.
“Spread the word, Fíli,” said his mother, with a grin. “We leave in a week’s time.”

Chapter Text

Dwarves are not the best traveling companions, anyone could tell you that. But especially not thirteen dwarves, three of them royalty, and an elf, who’s married to one of the royal dwarves. It’s all very complicated, and rather tricky when you get them all together. That was a concern, however small, of the Company, when they set out from Erebor. The company may have been short two of the original members, but the two that replaced them nearly made up for it.
There was a great deal of arguing, which was to be expected, but they still managed to move somewhat quicker than Bilba and Thorin before them. It didn’t really matter that they were dragging along a wagon as well. The month of June passed without incident, the only problem worth mentioning being a broken wheel on the road that took a day to fix. July was much the same, with nearly all of the company miserable in the heat as they plodded along (the only one exempt was the elf, who seemed content in near any type of weather).
August brought summer sickness and dry heat, and the dwarves had nearly been persuaded by Tauriel to stay in Lord Elrond’s halls, until Ori brought up how little of the food they’d wanted to eat, and that’d brought an end to that. There was much arguing on that day, until they’d found a river and fallen in (on purpose, mind you).
It was all a rather tricky business. Half through September they were met up with the wandering wizard himself, Gandalf, who chastised them for coming this far and not telling him. Though, Bofur rebuked this argument soundly with You are known as the wandering wizard, Gandalf, not a raven nor a crow can find you when you don’t wish to be found. And Gandalf had said, Quite true, Master Bofur with a puff on his pipe, and that had been the very end of that conversation.
They reached the edges of Hobbiton on the evening of September 26th, and Gandalf managed to lead the (somewhat large) procession through the town without much fuss, although one hobbit had screeched at them through an open front window. And then they’d been at the round, green door, and Gandalf had given it a tap, and then Bilba’s voice was heard, Really now, company this late? The door swung open. Well, this is a rather tricky business, isn’t it? she sighed with a smile. How am I to fit you all inside?

Chapter Text

The morning was bright and warm, the day ahead of them looking to be the same. All in all, Primula thought it was a wondrous day for a wedding. The invitations had been sent out and responded to; only family and close friends were attending the ceremony, but anyone who wanted could come to the reception. She'd thought it rather silly to keep the ceremony private from everything else, but Bilba had told her that that was how it was going to be, so she didn't argue.
Prim knocked on the door of Bag-End, which was answered by a dwarf-the tall and terrifying bald one, who wasn't so bad when he talked to you. His name was… Balin? Dwalin? Something of the sort. She honestly had no idea how Bilba kept all of them straight, but she wasn't to bother with that now. "Good Morning. May I come in?"
"Good morning, Missus Baggins," said the dwarf gruffly. She decided then it was Dwalin.
"Is Bilba up yet? Eglantine and I need to start getting her ready." Dwalin ushered her in, and she was surprised with the hustle and bustle that was already making it's way through the smial. There were dwarves everywhere, carrying things and shouting through rooms. The fat one had a load of food on a tray and was passing things out to people.
"Just wait here a moment, it won't be long." He stepped away then, towards Ori, whose name she could always remember. And Ori pointed down the hall after Dwalin spoke to him. Prim looked to where he was pointing, and there was her cousin, coming out of her bedroom, yawning with hair looking a mess. Bilba spotted her after a few moments of keeping out of the way.
"Come on, Bilba!" Prim shouted. "I've got a lot to do today, and fixing you up is number one on the list!"

“Were you nervous on your wedding day, Prim?” The question came hesitantly, almost shakily, through Bilba’s lips. Primula laughed, slowly pulling a comb through Bilba’s damp hair. She could practically feel the anxiety radiating off of her cousin as she reached the end of the strand.
“Of course I was nervous. I’m pretty sure I threw up, actually. At least you haven’t reached that point yet,” she said before pausing. “But that didn’t stop it from being the best day I’ve had thus far.” Bilba was quiet and still, and the only sound was the birdsong coming in through the open window and the faint sound of thunder in the distance.
Prim finished Bilba’s hair in the silence, and the strawberry-blonde curls shone softly in the light. “Alright, Bil. It’s time for your dress.” Bilba nodded and stood, and Primula could she her wringing her hands anxiously as she stepped towards the vanity.
“Do you think everything is going to go smoothly?” Her voice echoed quietly around the room, coming from her and everywhere. Primula helped her into the dress, buttoning the back when it was finally in place.
“I expect so, yes. There wouldn’t be any reason for it not to.” Thunder cracked again, a little nearer this time.
The door opened with a creak, Bilba and Prim both spinning to see who was entering. And Eglantine’s voice came forth. “Oh, Bilba, you look gorgeous.” She was clutching the bouquet of lilacs and peonies in her hands, and she smiled widely before saying, “Oh, here. Ori brought them.”
The flowers seemed to make everything perfect. The bouquet matched the blossoms embroidered into the dress almost perfectly, and the lace of the bodice seemed extravagant, but was light and simple if you tried hard enough to see it. Bilba smiled for what seemed the first time in forever, and the whole room seemed lighter.
“It’s almost time,” Primula stated with a grin. Eglantine turned to her, her lips pursed.
“Yes, about that…” Bilba gave Eglantine a panicked look, and Prim raised her eyebrows.
“It’s nothing to worry about, it’s just… The dwarves need some assistance, before everything gets started.”
“Well, there’s still time, right?”

She was very, very wrong. Everything was chaos where she was not. Bombur seemed to have burnt something vital to the feast, Ori was running things from place to place, looking panicked when someone squawked new orders at him, and Thorin was glaring at the sky. Prim wanted to pull her hair out. Why must something always go wrong? She heard a booming voice cut through the dwarves.
“We can’t do it today.”
Now, this particular phrase would make anyone stiffen on a wedding day. But on this particular wedding day, with this particular couple, something just seemed to snap. And Primula Baggins marched her shorter self up to the dwarf who happened to say those very loud words. And that dwarf happened to be one Thorin.
“Don’t you say that, Master Dwarf.” The groom-to-be turned to her as she came forward, glaring at him with her hands already in position on her hips. His face was ashen and pale, and she could see that he was obviously much more nervous than Bilba.
“We can’t, Primula, it’s going to storm and everything will be ruined and Bilba will be disappointed that it’s not perfect and-”
“You stop that, Thorin Oakenshield,” she snapped. Everyone had grown quiet, and the clouds drew up rapidly in the distance. “That storm isn’t set to hit until the beginning of the reception, at the earliest. And if we need to, the reception can be moved indoors.”
“Bag-End won’t fit-”
“Did I say Bag-End, Thorin? No, I did not. Stop interrupting me. Laura Baggins’s smial is big enough for near everyone in town, and near everyone is attending. So we’ll move the reception. You are not going to move this wedding to another day, you stubborn oaf, and I’ll tell you why.” She had to pause to catch her breath. Everyone was staring, most looking amused, but she did not let the attention still her fire. “You have both waited a very long time for this day, and you both love each other beyond belief. There is no reason that a spot of rain should stop you from doing what makes you happy, and you being nervous is not cause enough to move this day to another. Pull yourself together, Oakenshield, we’ve got a ceremony to start.”

It was almost time. The storm was a ways off, the whole feast and all the chairs and tables and decorations had been moved to Laura Baggins’s- it had taken about half an hour, because no one is going to miss a wedding feast. The stormclouds were still rolling in, but they did little to dampen the mood of the guests, who were spilling in quickly.
The dwarves had arrived earlier than everyone else, mostly because most of them were sleeping in Bag-End. They’d had a few surprise guests arrive; Fíli had introduced Primula to his betrothed, Ylda, who’d arrived when Fíli told her of the event via raven, Gloin’s son, Gimli, who was younger than Ori by two years, and Thorin’s cousin Farin, who Gimli’d brought along, just because.
Thorin’s family (surprisingly large, actually, even though it mainly consisted of the company) was sitting on the left, watching Thorin nervously twitch as he waited for Bilba to come. Bilba’s family (mostly just fellow Baggins’s, Tooks, and a few Brandybucks) was to the right, also watching Thorin nervously twitch as he waited for Bilba to come.
Primula let out a sigh of relief as she saw Eglantine in the doorway, who subtly gave her a wave, a nod, and a smile. And as she turned to watch Thorin twitch with everyone else, she was very grateful that they’d made it to this point without any major disasters.

 

He doubted he’d ever seen anything more beautiful in his entire life. This moment trumped all moments. It was better than Erebor, better than the sun and the stars and the moon and all the Valar in the heavens. Hamfast Gamgee led her to him, and he could barely breathe.
Balin was speaking, of course he was, he was marrying them, but he could only focus on her eyes and her freckles and her nervous smile and pink cheeks and honey-strawberry curls.
And very suddenly, they were saying the words, and he recited them without thinking about it, and everything was fine and wonderful and glorious.

With these words I do wed
To share my heart and home and bread
To love and cherish for all of time
To love and cherish because you’re mine
With these words, I do say
To never leave and always stay
I’ll be with you, through and through
Now to finally say,

“I do.”

Chapter Text

The thunder crackling outside dimmed the day into night, but did little to dim the spirits of the people under hill. The hall was never short of food, the drink was ever-flowing, and laughter filled the smial. The dwarves were in charge of music at the moment, most of them playing. Bofur was teaching a few of the hobbits how to do a dance, though the only one who was currently getting all of the steps right was Marigold Gamgee. (That fact didn’t actually surprise anyone but Bofur.)
Sat on the window seat of the study were the newlyweds, quietly talking and laughing amongst the noise of the guests. Most were respectful enough to let them have their space as a newly married pair (at least until desserts and dancing began), but, eventually, Balin approached the two. The storm outside still raged, and the party inside continued. “Hello, you two. Enjoying the night?” Bilba smiled widely at him, and rain splattered against the window.
“Of course we are, Balin! And how is it going for yourself?” Balin gave a shrug and a nod.
“A bit busy for my taste. You hobbits are a loud folk, and there are so many of you. But you’ve got good drink, I’ll give you that.”
“Your lot are no louder than mine, Balin,” said Bilba with a laugh. “Glad to see you enjoying yourself, at least. How are the others? I’ve-well, we’ve-seen none but Ori give congratulations since the ceremony itself.”
“Ahh. They’re a bit busy at the moment. Primula put them in charge of the third hour’s music. Bofur is teaching some of the small ones to dance. That one, the daughter of your neighbor, what’s her name? She’s a grand dancer.”
“Marigold?” asked Thorin, and Balin gave a small nod. “I’d expect nothing less.” Balin chuckled, then pulled a box from the pocket of his jacket.
“I know you haven’t opened your other gifts yet, because that is a semi-private affair, but I wanted you both to have these before anything else. Sort of selfish of me, I know, but it took the efforts of several of us to get them done on the way here.” He handed the small box to Thorin with gentle hands. The box was a fine gift by itself, ornately carved from a beautiful stone. “We didn’t think you’d have access to any, so we- That is, Dwalin, Fíli, Kíli, Dís, and I-decided to make you a pair.” He gave a small nod and smile, before glancing back at the door. “I’ll leave you to it, then.” He wove his way through the company, and Bilba took the box out of Thorin’s hands.
“What do you think it is, then?” she said softly, running her thumbs over the engravings.
“Beads, I’d suspect. He would not have needed so many to help on something so small, if not. But, then again…”
“They already gave us the beads, you numpty.” She glanced up at him. “What could it be?”
“Open it and find out.”
“I suppose that’s one way to figure it out, yes.” She gingerly lifted the lid of the box, and set it onto the cushion besides her.
The inside of the box was lined with red velvet, so anything inside was cushioned. The contents of the box were wrapped in the same fabric, and Bilba pulled out the biggest of the bundles first, and placed the box gently next to it’s lid. She unfolded the fabric, and let out a breath of air.
It was a little circular shield, made of stone, on a long, dark metal chain. The outer edge of the pendant was carved into an ornate weaving pattern, eventually meeting in the center to form a small tree. The leaves of the tree were small, thin emeralds that had been inlaid painstakingly into the shape set in stone.
“I assume this one is yours,” came Bilba’s voice. Thorin glanced at her questioningly, before taking the necklace from her hands.
“This is Dwalin’s work. Why do you think it’s mine?”
“Dwalin really made this?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes, you can tell in the strokes here, and here.” He pointed to the weaving, and the outline of the tree. “The detail in the trunk and leaves is all Kíli, and the stonework is from Balin.” Bilba hummed in surprise and looked up at her dwarf.
“I can’t say I’m not surprised. That’s impressive.” Thorin nodded, a small smile painted on his face. “Anyways, it has to be yours. It’s a little shield with an oak tree on it, it couldn’t be mine.” Thorin cocked his head and looked at the pendant.
“How’d you know it’s an oak?”
“The leaves, see?” She pointed at the shapes of the small jewels, outlining one with her finger. “Oak leaves. It’s very clever, actually. Thorin Oakenshield, lost his oakenshield. Now you’ve got another one.” She paused briefly to smile, before asking, “May I put it on you?” He gave a swift nod.
“Of course, ghivâshel.” He lowered his head and she reached around his neck, under his hair, to clasp it at the top of the hem of his shirt. She smoothed the fabric of his shirt before withdrawing her hands, settling them back into her lap.
“It’s a very handsome amulet,” she murmured. He looked at it in the palm of his hand for a few more moments before letting it drop and thump against his chest.
“We’re going to have to give them a big thank you for this. And what about yours, Bilba?”
“Oh!” She turned back for the other bundle, pulling it into her lap and unwrapping it with the same gentleness that she’d handled the other with. Thorin wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer as she pulled out her own necklace by the chain.
It was an acorn, hanging besides a thin stone oak leaf. The acorn itself was made of deep orange topaz, polished to a neat shine, and connected to the chain with a cap made of the same stone as the leaf. “I’ve never seen such pretty wedding gifts.” Thorin took the necklace gently from her hands and clasped it round her neck, same as she’d done for him. She held it in her hand and watched the light reflect through the gem, and noticed the faint green emeralds inlaid in the leaf.
“I believe Dís made the chains. She was always good at bending metal to her will.” Bilba knew he couldn’t help but marvel at the handywork. Bilba ran her thumb over her little acorn once more before laying it still on her breast.
“These are beautiful, Thorin. But didn’t Balin say Fíli helped?” He nodded, before looking again at both of the necklaces.
“I don’t believe it was in the pendants,” he commented slowly, after a moment of thought. “Hand me the box, though.” Bilba complied easily, handing both box and lid over to her husband. He looked over it for a few minutes, before humming his approval. “This is where he contributed to the gift. He even wrote something in the lid, as a congratulations.”
He handed the lid back to her, and she turned it over in her hands, before reading the faint inscription that was carved into the inside. It was long, and so very sweet.
“We need to thank them all, immediately.”

Immediately turned out to be When-The-Hobbit-Guests-Decide-To-Let-You-Free. As soon as the couple stood from the window seat, Laura Baggins decided it was high time for the desserts and dancing to begin, and that meant specifically hobbit tradition. So Bilba and Thorin danced, a slow one at first, and then the more complicated one that Primula had had to show the both of them. Others were allowed to join in after that, and the couple separated and danced with whomever else they wished.
For Bilba, that was who she wanted to thank. She danced with each, one at a time (even Dís, who’d, afterwards, spun away to dance with Dwalin). She wound up with Bofur for a while. They spoke of the wedding and Erebor and Bofur and Bifur’s shop. They danced for such a long time that, before she spun away again, she’d accidentally invited the Company to stay until the end of Durin’s day.
Ah, well. They’d cross that bridge when they got to it.

The walk back to Bag-End was quiet, and wet. And Thorin had insisted on carrying Bilba. She held a lantern with one hand, and the warm rain dripped slowly down from the sky. “You really can put me down, you know. I can walk. Although I don’t actually mind this.” He chuckled and looked on down the road.
“Your dress doesn’t need to get muddy, I don’t think. Someone, eventually, might want to wear it again.”
“I certainly won’t be. And who would wear it?” she asked with a laugh. “Frodo wouldn’t fit it, I don’t think. And dresses pass between family members. Usually.”
“Who’s to say someone won’t have a daughter? Who’s to say we won’t have a daughter?” His face still had the faint hint of laughter, although it was turning more serious as she looked up at him. They were nearing home now.
“Really, then? Children on your mind?” She brought the lantern closer, and his eyes flicked to hers momentarily before going back to the path ahead.
“I don’t… I like children. I have always liked children. I never thought I’d have any, though. Or have the opportunity, or get married. But now I’ve got you, and I… I don’t know.” A small smile had appeared where his had left, and he lowered her gently to the ground when they reached the front gate. The lantern light painted the wet landscape around them a light yellow, and Thorin led her up to the door.
“Maybe we should try?” He turned to her, a somewhat surprised look on his face. She used the lantern to light the candles in the entry, speaking as she went. “I love children. And I love you. So children with you… best of two, yeah?”
“I’ve never heard of a Dwarf-Hobbit, Bilba.” His voice was riddled with worry, but Bilba turned to him with hands on her hips.
“That’s no reason not to try. There’s a first for everything, right?”

Chapter Text

This was the first morning that it’d been quiet since the dwarves had arrived. They weren’t awoken by the loud jests of Kíli and Fíli, or by the sound of clinking dishes as breakfast was prepared for them by Bombur. The Company had departed yesterday afternoon, under threat of snowfall. It had been a bittersweet affair, with Bilba nearly crying in front of most of her friends. (She didn’t; Ori, however, did, and had to be consoled by Dori as they said their goodbyes.) She extended the open invitation for tea once more before they’d left, and that had been that.
So Bilba was a little more than disoriented when she awoke to complete silence in the middle of November when she’d been living the past two months in constant noise. Thorin was still deeply asleep next to her, and she rubbed her eyes and groaned before rolling over onto her stomach and pulling the covers over her shoulders. The room was unusually cold, and, frankly, it made her want to fall back asleep under the blanket. She knew that she should probably get up, though, no matter how much the cold wanted her to sleep.
Wind rattled against the window, sending the sound throughout the room. A small hum emerged from Thorin as the window rattled again. Bilba turned to face him as he blinked open his eyes and yawned. “Windy this morning, isn’t it? Windy and quiet,” he remarked, before yawning once again.
“That’s what I thought when I woke up, too. How was your sleep?” He pushed a few curls off of her forehead, closing his eyes momentarily before he answered.
“It was peaceful. Didn’t dream at all. I kept feeling a draft, though.” Bilba nodded thoughtfully in agreement.
“It’s getting cold enough for the cracks to make themselves known. There’s always at least one, usually. Mm.” She stretched, before pulling the blankets tighter. “I’m not really in the mood for getting out of bed yet, are you?” He shrugged and shook his head, before giving her a small smile.
“I wouldn’t mind a few more hours of sleepy relaxation, no.”
“Good.”

“Your hair’s still wet, we don’t need firewood that desperately,” called Bilba from the sitting room. “Tea’s ready, by the way.” Thorin slowly braided his last bead back into place, before smoothing his damp hair down.
“I’m sure everything will be fine if I just step out for a moment to get more, right? I’ll have tea when I come back in. With the wood.” Bilba raised her eyebrows at him, one hand patronizingly on her hip.
“Have you glanced out a window this morning, Thorin? Have you seen the snow?”
“Yes, and I’ve dealt with worse.” He pulled on his thick furs, the ones that had been hung in the closet since April. “I’ll be back in a moment,” he said, after putting on his boots.
“You’re going to catch a cold, Thorin!” she shouted at him as he went into the snow. “Such a stubborn one you’ve married, Bilba, good on that,” she murmured to herself. She shook her head and closed the door against the drifting snow, turning back to the sitting room and dusting off her hands. I suppose we are low on firewood, but still. No reason to get dumb about it.
The tea sat steaming in its cups and she sat in front of the fire for a good long while before the door opened again, and Thorin grunted as the sound of wood hitting the floor echoed through the smial. “Bilba!” His voice was strained, and she could practically hear the shiver in his voice. And she couldn’t help but laugh when she found him in the front hall.
“What did I tell you?” she chuckled, pulling his coat off. His hair was practically frozen solid, his beard and eyebrows frosted with a thick layer of snow. “Go in front of the fire, I’ll stack the wood.”
“Bilba, I want to help-”
“No, no, no,” she tsked, “you brought it in, and your need to sit in front of the fire and drink your tea. You’re hair is literally frozen to your head. Go on, then.”
The wood was somewhat damp and mostly cold, but she carried it to it’s place besides the fire to dry, and placed in a few of the pieces that had already been inside. Thorin sat, dripping, in front of the flames. “This was a bad decision on my part, I think,” he said, after a moment’s hesitation. Bilba laughed and nodded, handing him his tea before sitting down on the sofa opposite. He sipped his rather sullenly while Bilba giggled.
“You are going to catch a cold, though, for sure.”
“Mm.” He looked up at her as he took a sip of his tea. “I should always listen to you.”
“Yes,” she nodded in amused agreement. “Yes, you should. Oh! I hope you don’t mind, but I told Hamfast that we’d keep the children when Bell has the baby.”
“How long would that be?”
“A day, more likely than not. Probably overnight. Nothing we can’t handle. I’ve already set a few of the guest rooms up for them.” Thorin nodded, before standing to come sit himself next to her.
“I don’t mind. The Gamgee’s are marvelous anyhow. And speaking of children..”
“It’s not been that long, these things… take some time, you know.” She stared into her cup.
“That’s not where I wanted the conversation to go, actually. If we can, and I hope we can, how many would you want?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never put much thought into it. I never thought I’d have the chance. It’s the same for you, I suppose. But honestly. I’d want to have more than one child, I think. I didn’t have any siblings growing up. Plenty of cousins, but to come home and only have your parents was sort of.. I don’t know.” She looked at him then, frowning slightly. “At least you had your sister.”
“Would you mind turning, amrâlimê?” She shook her head and did what he asked, and he combed his fingers through her hair before separating the strands. He began braiding slowly and rhythmically. “I actually had a brother as well.” Bilba nearly turned around in surprise, but the braid stopped her.
“Really?”
“Yes. Younger than me, but older than Dís.” His voice was neutral, but Bilba desperately wanted to see his face.
“What was his name? Where-where is he?”
“He died in the same battle as my grandfather. The Battle of Azanulbizar. He fought bravely, and nearly made it out.” Bilba turned to him then, and the braid unraveled down her back. “He didn’t, though. He was lost, as was my father and grandfather before him.”
“You have lost so much.”
“That is life; is war. I have mourned for them. It is better, I think, to live with who I have left. I have lost, yes, but I still have my sister, my nephews. The Company. And you. I avenged my lost family when we took back the mountain. And now, I think, it is time to live for myself. And for our future, not for my past.”

Chapter Text

“Hello, Mistuh Thorin!” Marigold’s voice surprised him, as did the small hands patting the bedspread. And the, “No, Samwise,” that came from Bilba. He’d completely forgotten that they’d agreed to watch the smaller Gamgees. It was quite early for it though, wasn’t it?
“Miss Bilba says you’re sick, so we’re gonna make some soup for you to feel better, okay?” By the time he decided to crack open his eyes, Marigold was gone already. His wife was standing in the doorway, though, little Samwise in her arms.
“How’re you feeling, then, love?”
“Not my greatest.”
“I assumed that when you slept through breakfast and elevenses.” She set Sam down and he took off down the hall. “I’m going to bring you more blankets. And Marigold wasn’t lying about the soup.” Thorin groaned and covered his eyes. His head was pounding and he was a mixture of pleasantly warm and burning hot, but he wanted to get up. And he voiced that opinion, and tried to sit up. Bilba was there in a minute and pushed him back down into bed. “No no no, I’m not having sick old you around the children. They probably won’t be here that long and we don’t need to send them home sick to a new baby.” Thorin sighed and did was he was told, reclining back against the pillows.
“Well,” said Bilba after a moment, standing and placing her hands on her hips, “I should be back soon, I suspect. Get some rest. Well, some more rest, Mr. Sick.”

Bilba managed to keep everyone settled and calm until naptime rolled around. They’d eaten, taken Thorin his soup; she’d even read them a book she’d picked up in Rivendell when they made the return trip from Erebor. She’d expected Marigold to lay down without a fuss, which is what had happened. She’d partially expected Daisy and May to be a bit troublesome, and she’d expected the real fuss to come from Samwise. It was near opposite of what happened, really.
Marigold and Samwise went down immediately, without fuss. Marigold was in the spare next to her bedroom, as was little Sam, both curled under a mound of quilts. Daisy and May, though, were not having a bit of it. Daisy started crying as soon as the word ‘nap’ left Bilba’s mouth, and she was a blubbering mess almost immediately. Her cheeks turned cherry red as the tears streamed from her big, brown eyes. She fussed and squirmed when Bilba picked her up, so she eventually wrapped her in a blanket and left her on the sofa to try and get May to lie down.
May’s acts of rebellion were quieter, but just as distinct. She allowed Bilba to tuck her in, and as soon as Bilba returned to the tear-streaked Daisy, May was there, too. “Why’s Daisy sad?” is what alerted Bilba to her presence, and she turned to face the fauntling with her crying sister in her arms.
“May, why did you get out of bed?”
“M’not sleepy’s why,” she said, her features squinching as she replied. “Daisy, stoppit!”
Daisy did not stop it, only cried harder, tears interrupted briefly with hiccups and occasionally with “I not nap.”
Bilba shook her head, frustrated, and plucked May off the ground. She carried the girls, one sobbing, one calm, to the second spare room, and plopped them into their respective beds. Daisy’s tears slowed, but only slightly. She still cried openly, lying sad and still under her blanket. May squirmed out of bed as soon as she was tucked in, and Bilba picked her up, put her back in, and straightened the covers over her immediately.
“No, m’not sleepy so m’not gonna sleep, thank you,” she said stubbornly as she pushed the covers off of herself again. Bilba raised her eyebrows as May stood again, and promptly stuck her back into the bed. Daisy’s crying had all but stopped, but she was staring at them with eyes wide.
“It’s naptime, May. Naptime means it’s time to sleep.”
“But I’m not sleepy!” She crossed her arms and furrowed her brow, glaring at Bilba with all the fire a five-year-old could muster. Bilba’s frustration was beginning to grow as May, once again, threw off the covers and slid to the floor, all the while staring at Bilba defiantly.
“May, really now, it’s time to behave,” came Thorin’s voice from the doorway. Bilba whipped her head around immediately, eyebrows raised, and May’s eyes widened. “If you lie down and try to sleep, I’ll sing to you.” He was leaning against the doorway, looking slightly disheveled from the sleep, but altogether better than he had earlier. May nodded slowly, trying to scramble back into bed, until Bilba lifted her in and brought the covers up to her chin. And, true to his word, Thorin began to sing.
It was very obviously a lullaby, and he moved to sit in a chair to sing it. It was soft and melodious, and very frankly took Bilba’s breath away. Sometimes she forgot how lovely his singing voice was. It only took the first three verses of the song to lull both May and Daisy to sleep, though he sang to the very end. By the time his voice tapered off the girls were snoozing lightly and Bilba was looking at him in adoration.
“What was that?” she asked quietly. He stood and cleared his throat, and followed her out of the room before answering.
“I used to sing it to Fíli and Kíli when they were young. It’s about a lost raven finding it’s way home.”
“You always sing it in Khuzdul?” she asked, curious. “It was very beautiful, but I couldn’t understand a lick of it.” He laughed, before sitting on the sofa and sighing.
“It’s… not as well spoken in the common tongue as in Khuzdul, I’m afraid. Sounds wrong. It doesn’t directly translate.”
“Mm.” She sat next to him. “Feeling any better?”
“A little. Enough to get out of bed. It shouldn’t last too long, this sickness.” She nodded in agreement, running her fingers absentmindedly through her hair.
“You should teach me, I think.”
“Teach you what?”
“Khuzdul.” His eyes widened at the thought, his brow furrowed slightly.
“It is… no easy task, if I do say so myself.” He tapped his chin, before turning to look at her. “I did bring a few books back from Erebor, and I know not all of them are translated…” He nodded, and smiled slightly. “Alright. When do you want to start?”
“Now’s good, I think.”

By the time they were tucking the children in for bed, she knew how to (quite badly) say, ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘you couldn’t forge a spoon’. (She’d wanted to learn an insult, but “not an insulting insult, do you know what I mean?” and then promptly remarked, “Could I tease someone with that? What would someone do if I said that? Ooh, what would Dwalin do?”, which the thought of made Thorin laugh.)
They were just heading to bed themselves when there was a great knock on the door. It annoyed Thorin, who had to relight several candles he’d just put out, but Bilba sent him away and tightened the belt of her robe before pulling the door open. Hamfast stood there in the cold, shivering slightly, but the look on his face was of pure excitement and happiness. Bilba let him in immediately.
“I’ve got no time to stay and talk for long, but I’ve come to tell you that Bell’s had a boy!” Bilba smiled brightly at him, before giving him a quick hug.
“Congratulations! That’s wonderful, Hamfast.” His smile didn’t fade as he continued talking.
“I can bring the children home with me now, if you’d like.”
“No, that’s quite alright, Hamfast. Come by in the morning, they’ve just gone to sleep.” He nodded his understanding.
“Thank you for watching them today.”
“It was no problem, Hamfast. What’d you name your new boy, by the way?” He had already opened the door, and was ready to depart.
“Oh, his name is Hamson. Little Hamson Gamgee.”

Hamson? Like Son of Ham?” Thorin asked as she slid into bed. “Really, that’s terrible.”
“Don’t be rude,” she laughed, pulling the covers up.
“You don’t agree?” The laughter was clear in his voice, she could practically see it on his face, even in the darkness.
“No, no I never said that. I very much agree. You have to promise you won’t make choices like that when naming ours.”
“I promise.”
The darkness settled over them like a second blanket, and sleep pressed heavily onto their minds.
“Thorin?”
“Hm?” His voice was heavy with sleepiness, but she knew he was quite ready to sleep.
“It’s probably a strange time, but…”
“Hmm?”
“And I know I’ve not had the sickness yet…”
“Yes..?”
“But I also haven’t bled in a while.”
“Bilba…”
“Thorin, I think I’m pregnant.”
“Oh, Mahal.”

Chapter Text

The snow swirled around her, surrounding her with dagger-sharp needles of cold. The ice pricked her arms and face and hands, the wind gnawed at her until she was raw and red. The snow surrounded her, suffocated her with its thickness. She'd lost sight of everyone in the thick whiteness of it, and all she could hear was the growls. Her hair whipped around her, her cheeks stung. The tears were freezing on her cheeks. Someone screamed, and she cried out, rushing forward towards the familiar voice. Her mother's voice. She stumbled forward blindly. The growling grew closer, and suddenly, she stumbled. Her knees bit into the ice that covered the ground, and before her, the white was covered in red. It was blood, thick and red and warm. The screaming had stopped, her mother's voice vanished, and suddenly, lying before, her drenched in red, she saw herself.
Her hands shook as she pressed them to her own face; checking for the scratches that she saw on the face before her. Black eyes stared blankly at the sky above, blood soaked the snow. Horror and anxiety was clawing it's way through her heart, and she clenched her jaw and blinked away the terrible sight. And she blinked again and suddenly everything was different, but unnervingly familiar.
The growl of the wolves had been replaced with the clanging of swords and the turmoil of battle. The snow still raged around. She stood, stumbling forward, avoiding the shadows of the fighting and dying. A gasping, wheezing sound was coming from nearby. And she knew who it was coming from, and her heart beat faster in fear. She ran now, tripping over rocks she couldn't see in the snow.
Before her was a sight she'd hoped to not see again. It was him, holding the gaping wound in his stomach, bent over on the ground. His teeth were clenched, but his sword lunged forward at his opponent as he tried, and failed, to injure him.
Azog laughed, pivoting easily aside, knocking the sword from Thorin's grip. He gasped in pain and toppled over as the Orc kicked him. She screamed. She screamed as the pale orc ran him through with his blade, left him bleeding his life's blood onto the snow and ice, screamed as she threw what she could at the hulking figure of the retreating creature. Screamed as the tears stung her eyes and the snow turned red for a second time. And Thorin looked at her. Eyes filled with betrayal, anger. Pain.
"This is your fault, halfling," he snarled. "Your fault. You betrayed us. Betrayed me, and now we're all dead for it." He was paling from the loss of blood. Her tongue was thick in her mouth. "Bilba Baggins, traitorous wretch," he spat.
"Thorin, no, I-"
"Bilba." He said her name with such venom that it made her recoil. "The dwarves will remember your name. Bilba, Killer of Kings. Bilba, Betrayer of Friends. Traitor. Burglaress. Bilba."
"Bilba."

"Bilba!" The third was a shout, and came intoned with worry. The storm was gone in a flash, the dying Thorin and sounds of battle replaced with the real Thorin, and the quiet crackle of the fire. She was drenched in a cold sweat, she could feel the panic in her heart. She lifted her hand, saw it shake, and inhaled sharply before sitting up. “Are you alright?” She swallowed thickly. She could feel the faint echoes of pain and terror leaving her body, and exhaled a shaky breath as her husband looked on worriedly.
“I am fine.” Thorin studied her face, before pressing his palm against her forehead. It rested there for a moment, before he brushed his fingers through her hair.
“You aren’t,” he replied, softly. “This is the third one this week.” She sighed, blinking away the dream and ignoring how tired it made her.
“Bell said nightmares aren’t unheard of, during pregnancy, you know.” She stood slowly, watching as Thorin did the same. “They aren’t common, but it happens. The fact that it’s winter doesn’t help, either,” she added. He followed her as she trailed out of the bedroom, ambling towards the kitchen. She stopped in the living room, tossing a log on the fire.
“What was it about?”
“I… do not want to talk about it, not right now,” she stated, plainly. “Besides. I’ve told Hamfast and Bell that you aren’t sick any more. It’s been a week, they want you to meet Hamson.”

Bilba’s nightmares weighed heavily on his mind throughout the day. He wasn’t going to press her when she obviously didn’t want to talk, but they didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would normally go hand in hand with pregnancy. Not that he’d had a lot of experience with pregnancies, but… This worried him. He knew, though, that she would talk when she was comfortable with it. He just hoped it was soon.
The day was a slow one, and Thorin took it upon himself to cook while Bilba did what she’d been doing for the past few days. Even though, reasonably, he knew it was quite too early to start getting a room around for the budding baby, but Bilba had started, nonetheless. He knew that she knew that it was too early, but it didn’t stop her.
She’d begun clearing out the guest room next to theirs after coming back from the Gamgee’s tuesday afternoon, though once he knew her purpose, he moved all the furniture, arguing that it wasn’t good for the baby. She didn’t disagree.She had somehow located a cradle from a deep corner of the smial, and it’d already been moved into the room. She’d found some old baby clothes, too, and Thorin had gaped at how small they were.
He carried lunch to her in the newly-cleared room at around one o’clock, to find her hanging new curtains over the window. She turned her head when she heard the door creak, and gave him a smile before dusting off her hands and turning to him. “How d’you like it? It’s not done, of course, and I’ll most likely change it around again, before it’s born, but it’s a start.” He chuckled as she sat and started eating, taking in the room around him.
“It’s very quaint, Bilba, but you’re only-what, eight weeks pregnant?” She scoffed and rolled her eyes as she bit into a sandwich and sat down.
“It’s just a thing we do. Hobbits like to socialise about pregnancies, and we like to nest.” He sat on a stool next to her, with his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand.
“Oh?”
“Don’t ‘oh?’ me, Thorin,” she said, laughing slightly while chewing. “It’s-we like to have things ready, and, preferably, perfect, months in advance. Well, it’s not as much a want as a need. It’s really-this baby is going to be as comfortable as possible and I need to make sure that that happens.”
“It seems like a perfectly rational instinct, actually.”
“Thank you.” She finished her sandwich, and reached for another. “Do dwarves have anything like that?”
“Mm. We’re prepared for the baby, usually; pregnancies are rare and valued things, usually kept secret until the last moment. It’s bad luck, actually. Not everyone believes that, though.” Bilba nodded in understanding, chewing thoughtfully.
“How big are dwarven babes when they’re born? How big were Fíli and Kíli?”
“We’re born smaller than we probably ought to be, but dwarves grow quickly as babies, and slow off as they get to childhood. As for the boys-they followed that trend, mostly. Fíli was the bigger of the two when he was born, but Kíli grew to be taller. Took after his mum.” Bilba could hear the pride in his voice as she finished her second sandwich. “What of hobbits?”
“Oh, we’re always wee things. Small from birth til death, and slow growing at that. Speaking of, though, we’d better get going, or we’re going to be late.”
Thorin’d nearly forgotten about the promised visit.

He could not fathom how something could be this small. Dwarven babes were nowhere near this tiny, how was this even possible? He knew hobbits were smaller than dwarves, but this was ridiculous.

Bilba could see the panic in his eyes, and the surprise written very neatly upon all of his features. She’d placed the bundle of blankets into Thorin’s arms after a short conversation with Bell, before turning to talk to her friend again. It wasn’t that Thorin didn’t know how to handle children; she knew quite well that he was capable. Hamson was nestled quietly in the crook of Thorin’s elbow, little head propped up on the fabric of his shirt.
After a few moments, though, Bell’s face grew concerned, and Bilba turned to see that Thorin’s expression had changed very little, though his eyes had softened. “Is everything all right, then, Thorin?” Bell asked, eyebrows quirked. “I can take him, if you’d like me to.”
“No, it’s fine.” He adjusted slightly, and his features changed as he held the snoozing child closer.
“You all right?” asked Bilba, smiling slightly as his softening.
“Yes, quite. He’s just.. very small.” Bell laughed.
“He’s actually the biggest any of my babes have been at birth.” Thorin raised his eyebrows and looked up at them.
“Hobbits are extraordinary.”

Chapter Text

Thorin spent a large portion of his days in his stall down at the market. It had formerly been a blacksmith’s stall, but had been empty for some time. The Thain happily gave him permission to use it when he’d asked in mid-July, and now he spent three days a week repairing various tools. On his off-time, he sometimes fashioned trinkets or jewelry with the metals and stones available, but he’d been out of gems since a project he’d started in mid-October.
Bilba slowly gathered more things for the nursery, and Thorin managed to procure for her a large amount of pale yellow, flower patterned fabric that she started to fashion into a quilt. And near the middle of the month, a small but discernible bump had made itself shown on the lower-middle half of Bilba’s abdomen.
It was also near the middle of the month when she started adding strange requests to her goodbyes as he left for the marketplace. “I need at least twelve pine boughs, if you could get some before you come home. Not big ones, though! Small, and easily bendable!” “Bring me as much holly as you can find.” “You know what would be grand? See if you can’t find some cranberries today, thank you.” “D’you know if you could get me some candles? White, preferably, probably four inches high? No, I can’t use the ones we have, they aren’t proper.” “I can’t find my red ribbon, could you fetch me some?”
Their sitting room was slowly filling with all the trinkets she was making him collect for her, and she would never tell him what she was planning on doing with them. When she found his efforts unsatisfactory, she went down herself, and came back with more than she had originally anticipated getting in the first place. It was a very confusing affair for Thorin, to say the least. The only explanation he ever got was, “It’s Yuletide, Thorin.” and “Please don’t touch anything, it’ll make sense later.” So he let her do what she would, filing Yuletide away in his mind, alongside the other hobbit traditions he was slowly learning about.
On the twentieth, they walked down to the market together, the early morning light filtering through the slight snowfall. Bilba hummed happily under her breath, before pulling her coat tighter around her. “Primula’s coming to visit today,” she remarked, blinking the snowflakes away from her eyelashes.
“Oh? Will she be there when I get home?”
“I expect so. We’ve got a lot to do.” She smiled up at him. “I know you’ve been curious, and I haven’t been much help, but it’ll make more sense when you get home. Probably.” She looked ahead at the storefronts ahead of them, face brightening as she caught sight of something. What it was, Thorin didn’t know. “I’ve got to go,” she murmured, with a small smile. He leaned towards her, and she gave him a chaste kiss, and a small peck to his cheek as he pulled back. “I’ll see you at lunch!” she called.

Primula was already sat on her sofa when Bilba returned home, a large box cradled in her arms. “You’ve not gotten much accomplished, you know,” she remarked, eyeing the half-finished wreaths and a mound of ribbon. She tied a few sprigs of holly together, placing them atop a pile that hadn’t been there when Bilba left.
“Hello to you, too,” Bilba laughed, before setting the box down on a table.
“You haven’t gotten more supplies, have you? We can’t possibly finish the decorations and start dinner and do whatever it is you’ve got in there.”
“The celebration’s not for another three days, it’ll be fine,” she stated matter of factly. “But this,” she patted the box for emphasis, “is Thorin’s gift.”
“Ooh!” Primula’s expression changed to one of excitement, and she scooted nearer. “What did you get for him?”
“I commissioned Dalia Proudfoot for a coat.” At this, she pulled it proudly from it’s box, and Primula’s eyes widened. It was deep blue wool, though the color was a few shades lighter than his current coat. It was trimmed with light grey rabbit fur, and lined with white. The buttons gleamed a shiny silver in the candlelight. “It’s also got extra pockets on the inside, because I thought that it would be convenient.”
“It must’ve cost a fortune!”
“Not as much as you’d think, actually. And well worth it, anyhow. His old coat’s battleworn, and there’s still a few bloodstains that we haven’t quite been able to wash out yet.”
Primula paled, and Bilba laughed.

Thorin sighed as he opened the door. He’d finally finished it (to his satisfaction-it included a great deal of intricacies that he could have gone on without adding), and thought today was as good as any to give it to-hang on, what was that smell? He closed the door and hung up his coat, patting the pocket to remind himself to come back for the little package. He could hear Primula and his wife giggling and chatting from the kitchen, and that could be the only place where it could be coming from.
It was a mixture of many different things, from what he could tell as he walked towards it, but it was heavenly. And once he stepped through the door, he saw why.
“What’s all this?” Primula waved as he finished speaking, and Bilba turned and smiled widely.
“Yuletide!” The kitchen was a mess, but several neatly-prepared dishes sat upon the countertops as Primula stirred a violently red boiling liquid on the stovetop. At Thorin’s gaping look, she laughed, and Bilba explained. “Okay, well; we’ve finished the decorations, and now it’s time for dinner, and tomorrow is time for gifts! And then on the twenty-third we go to grandmother’s for the family dinner.”
“What’s.. for dinner, then? And aren’t we keeping Primula from her’s…?” Prim shook her head and tapped the spoon on the side of the pot.
“Each family does it different. Drogo and I do gifts and dinner tomorrow. Twenty-third is always the big one, though. As for your dinner, we made a glazed ham, and sweet potato tarts, roasted chestnuts, a cherry pudding, and some cranberry cider, which I do believe is done.” Bilba cheeks were red from the heat of the kitchen but Thorin could not deny the happiness that was written all over her face. So he smiled back, was grateful that he’d finished his gift when he did, and said,
“I”ll set the table, then?”

Bilba was up earlier than expected the next morning, which surprised him. They’d not gone to bed late, though, and she’d stopped having nightmares, so he supposed any time was a reasonable time for waking. And though he was hesitant to leave the warm recesses of their bed, sleep left him as Bilba did, and he got up a few moments later.
Bilba had stolen his dressing gown.
He didn’t let it deter him.

Thorin came emerged from their bedroom wrapped in the blanket, and as soon as Bilba saw him, she started laughing. She was in the hall, on her way back from fetching Thorin’s gift, and he was standing in the doorway, looking put out. She’d only grabbed his because it was closer and she hadn’t expected him to get out of bed and follow her. “Get back in bed, you numpty, I was only getting your present.” So he shuffled back inside, rather clumsily, and flopped onto the bed unceremoniously as Bilba sat next to him. “Alright, once you free your arms, open it. And then we’ve got to get ready for the day.”
“What are we doing?” He unwrapped the blanket from his upper body, picking up the box gently from where it sat in front of him.
“You usually go down to market on Tuesdays, and I told Prim I’d help her with her dinner since she helped with ours. It’s only fair. Go on, then,” she urged. He smiled and rolled his eyes, pulling the top off. As he pulled out the coat, his eyes lit up, and his smile got wider. Bilba blushed as he inspected it. “It’s wool, and rabbit fur. I know it’s different for you, but Yuletide is… important to hobbits, and so I thought, even if you didn’t celebrate it, I could still-”
He cut off her sentence by pulling her into a long and large hug. “Thank you, Bilba.” She knew he meant that for more than the coat, and she couldn’t help but wrap her arms around him. It was very relaxing. But then he pulled away and leaned across the bed, opening the drawer in his bedside table. He handed her a small package, wrapped in light, brown paper. She cocked her head curiously at him and he shrugged. “I had just made it as a gift, but then you mentioned Yuletide gifts and I couldn’t think of a more opportune time. Because I want to share this tradition with you, from now on.”
It was a crown. It was dainty and small, and similar in color and shape to the crown that he left in Erebor. But instead of being angles and lines, it was more of a weaving, with dark sapphires placed strategically throughout. She glanced up at him, and at her look, Thorin shrugged, and said (face a blazing pink), “You’re my queen.”
Her chest tightened at that, and she stared at the crown in her hands as a smile danced it’s way upon her lips. “Uhm. Don’t worry though, I realise you can’t just wear a crown around the Shire-”
“They’d think me a little vain, I think,” she giggled, and he chuckled along.
“It comes apart.” He took it from her, and with a simple twist, the whole thing collapsed in his hands. “Clips and beads and such. Thought you would like that.”
She thanked him with a kiss.

Chapter Text

Things started progressing rather quickly after the new year. It didn’t get much colder than it had in December, and even that changed, come mid-January. With the lack of snowfall, and the days slowly growing longer, the snow slowly wasted away. By the end of February, the snow had gone completely, and brought a surprisingly early spring along with it.
February also brought an onslaught of baby-related changes. Bilba’s stomach ballooned, and her wardrobe shrunk. She had strange cravings, sometimes in the middle of the night, and Thorin could not always get her what she wanted before it went away. And, as spring slowly brought itself back to the shire, Bilba Baggins blossomed.
As March made it’s way past, the grass grew green and the flowers in the garden began to sprout. And an unexpected visitor made his way to Hobbiton from the Blue Mountains.

Chapter Text

The tulips down in the market of Hobbiton were just starting to peek when he finally arrived. It was the last day of March, if he had the days right. The trading deal had gone well, he thought. Fíli had sent him to Ered Luin from Erebor to further solidify a deal that they’d made before they’d even retaken the Lonely Mountain. And now that the business was done, he was to map the route they’d be using.
Who’s to say that they couldn’t start a trade in Hobbiton as well?
So he’d decided that was something that was going to happen, and here he was, being nodded at by the passing hobbits. A few of them he recognized from the wedding, but not many.
His original plan had been to pass through the marketplace, perhaps pick up breakfast, before heading to Bag-End to surprise Thorin and Bilba. That plan went down the drain when he caught sight of the blacksmith’s stall. Very much to his surprise, Thorin was there, arguing with a hobbit about what looked like a frying pan. It was only unexpected because Thorin was on the inside of the stall, not the outside. Which was certainly unusual, but he supposed it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
The hobbit huffed and nodded, pushing a handful of coins towards Thorin before turning and walking away. Thorin turned towards the inside of the stall, counting the coins in his hand. And he thought now was as good a time as ever to approach his friend.

“So this is what ye do now, then? Make and fix trinkets for the wee folk?” Thorin jumped at the unexpected voice. And once it registered in his head who’s it was, he spun around.
“Dwalin!”
“Aye,” he chuckled. “Good to see you.”
“What’re you doing here?” Thorin asked, motioning Dwalin inside. He sat down heavily on a chair Thorin had in a corner, tossing his pack against the wall.
“It’s a long and boring story, but most of it revolves around a trade route being set up between Erebor and Ered Luin. I was sent to solidify the details and now that I’ve finished, I’m on my way back home. Thought I’d drop by for a visit, though. Also thought it’d be a good idea to thread the route through the Shire.”
“You’re doing it without permission?”
“No, you think me daft? It was my idea, but I ran it past Fíli and the lords in charge of Ered Luin.” He shrugged, scratching at his beard. “Seemed to turn out all right, for the most part.” Thorin smiled at him then, before closing the stall.
“Come on, let’s see if Bilba’s home yet.”
“Was she not supposed to be?”
“No, she spends most Wednesday’s with Primula, and Tuesday’s with the Gamgee’s. She doesn’t like to stay still, not even now.” Dwalin glanced at Thorin as he picked up the heavy pack he’d pushed aside, laughing at Dwalin’s ‘I can carry my own things, ye dolt.’ before ignoring the sentence completely.

Bilba turned out not to be home. Thorin wasn’t at all surprised about the fact, though Dwalin seemed a little disappointed. Thorin simply slapped his back and told him not to worry, that he’d obviously be staying until the morning, at the very least, and he’d see her in a little while. So, gruffly, Dwalin agreed, and Thorin shoved his pack into an unoccupied spare room, and made the two of them a brunch that a hobbit would be proud of.
Around one o’clock, after eating and discussing the affairs of the Line of Durin for a long while, it became apparent to the pair of them that Bilba wouldn’t be home in the near future. “I’m usually at the stall until around six, so I imagine that that’s how late she’ll be,” Thorin quipped absentmindedly, behind a yawn. Dwalin frowned at him, before his face lit up.
“I’ve an idea about what we could do in that time.”
And, unsurprisingly, Thorin happened to know exactly what that idea might be.

The road was long, and made their boots dusty, but the walk was not altogether unpleasant. The day was warm; the sky was blue and full of clouds. The white, fluffy, non-threatening kind. The conversation had switched from the affairs of the Mountain to the affairs of the Shire, with Thorin relaying what seemed like interesting information. Most of it tended to be about the Traditions of Hobbits, though he made no mention of the pregnancy. It would be of best interest and best luck to cross that bridge when they got to it.
The Green Dragon was as well-kempt as the last time Thorin had been here. He was a great deal more calm this time, though, which was noted by the barkeep, who remembered him only slightly. In a matter of minutes the two dwarves were settled at a table, each with a pint of ale, and the conversation turned to Thorin’s family.
“So then, how’re my nephews? My sister?” Dwalin took a sip of his ale before answering.
“Fíli’s doing well. The throne suits him; he handles the responsibility well. You trained him well for the throne, Thorin.” Thorin beamed in pride while Dwalin took another drink. “He and Ylda wed in, what, February? Mm. February, I think. And your sister is positive that the lass is already with child. I’m not supposed to know that, though, and neither are you.” He took another gulp while Thorin nodded and sipped his own pint.
“And Kíli?”
“Married life suits that one well, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him quite as happy as he is now. Perhaps when he was only a boy and ye got him his first bow. Ye remember that look on his face? Like a pup who’s just been given a bone? Well, he’s like that all the time now. It’s sometimes hard to look at him,” he said with a chuckle.
The barkeep slid another pint to Dwalin as he finished his first, and Thorin idly sipped his first. “And your sister..!” He paused. “Busy as always. Less now that Fíli’s taken over, but she’s still in charge of rather a lot.” He sighed, and drank, before wiping the ale from his lips. “Still quite a looker, though.” And Thorin raised his eyebrows, and Dwalin blanched.
The next few hours passed by with idle chatter and Dwalin drinking. Thorin stopped after his first, and eventually ordered a late lunch of bread and beef stew for the pair of them. Dwalin was nearing the end of his sixth ale, while Thorin was finishing his meal, and the pair of them were more than ready to leave- but then a pair of men entered the pub and everything, well. Everything went to shit from there.

He described it to Bilba later as an even match, even though it very clearly wasn’t. The men were travelers, though not seasoned ones, and had never seen any being smaller than another human. For some unknown reason, the two of them found the sight of the two dwarves humourous. And they weren’t quiet about it.
It made Thorin a bit peeved, but that was all, really. But to Dwalin-oh, Dwalin- it was much more than that. And, in fact, his first words that left his mouth after their laughing insults were, “What, you want to fight me, lads?” They weren’t so much said as shouted across the pub.
For some reason, they didn’t take into account the very obviously battle-hardened dwarves in front of them. For some reason, they scoffed in Dwalin’s face and bet the Barkeep that they’d win. The Barkeep, knowing better, bet against the lads, which made them angry. For some reason, they accepted Dwalin’s proposal.
And so they took it outside.
The travelers were not as bad at fighting as Thorin had originally anticipated, but it wasn’t even near being an even match. Dwalin took out the taller one with barely the blink of an eye, though the swinging of fists and flailing of legs as he went down landed a few bruises on the warrior. When the second saw the downfall of the first, he pulled a knife, and all Dwalin did was laugh. Loudly. “Ye’ve made it that much more interesting of a brawl, lad!”

The adrenaline made the trip back to the Shire seem a great deal shorter than it actually was. Dwalin was laughter all the way, even with the cut above his eyebrow and the various bruises. Thorin was less laughter, and more support-Dwalin-so-the-ass-doesn’t-fall-on-his. And as the night drew in, he wondered how he would explain this to Bilba.

She opened the door with her hands on her hips. They knew they were in trouble. She didn’t even look surprised at the sight of Dwalin standing next to her husband. “Hello. Welcome back. To your home, and your wife, who you did not make aware of your plans to be out until who knows how late. Where’ve you been, you absolute arses?” She didn’t move to let them in, and Dwalin coughed as he looked her over, an expression of grim realization on his face.
“She’s bigger than I remember. Are ye sick, then?” Thorin had not often seen her roll her eyes hard enough for him to feel it, but this was one of those times. She sighed and pressed her face into her hands, massaging her temples with her fingers.
“Oh, sweet Yavanna… Alright, bring him in.” They made their way to the sitting room, and Bilba bustled off to find her healing kit.

She finished scolding them a good while after Dwalin’s head had been tended to, and then the conversation flowed from, “Don’t go around beating up a couple of dimwits every time they say something rude! And don’t try to tell me again it was a ‘fair fight’, Thorin Oakenshield, we both know you’re lying,” to “And no, I’m not sick, Dwalin, I’m pregnant, and every person with eyes can see it nowadays,” to “I hope you don’t mind that I told Prim and Drogo we’d watch Frodo for a few days while they visit the Brandybucks” and “So, tell me about my boys.”

Chapter Text

The boat had capsized minutes before. Well, it had been more of a raft. Drogo had said that they should’ve waited for the rain to die down before attempting to cross the river, but she’d insisted that they go, and that they go now. She just wanted to visit home, to see her mother, and to sit next to a warm fire instead of out in the rain in the middle of April. But not everything goes to plan, apparently. The water was pressing her down. She’d lost sight of her husband, but he couldn’t be far away in the current.
The good thing about the situation is that she was seeing something she’d never thought she’d get to see. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a “good thing”, so much as an unexpected last sight. After a few minutes of floundering in a vain attempt to get back to the surface, she was tired, so tired, and elected instead to look around. Bubbles surrounded her, lifting her red hair in the dim imitation of a halo.
Her lungs burned for air but she could do nothing to help them. She was too deep now, a cold, blue light filtering in from the surface above. The current was slow, lazing, pulling her down into darkness. She drifted off in a burning sort of comfort, wishing blankly that she’d gotten to say more of a goodbye to her son.

Chapter Text

Thorin was standing in the foyer, Frodo on his hip. The toddler was sleeping, unaware of the fate of his parents. The funeral had happened three days before. Bilba hadn’t really wanted to talk about what had happened, not that Thorin could blame her. She’d spoken at the funeral, about Prim, about the times they’d had when they were younger, about how much she’d miss her-- this was before she’d started crying. He’d comforted her as best he could but honestly, it wasn’t the easiest thing when you’d lost one of your best friends.
He thought she was writing about it. About Primula. He knew she’d been writing about the journey (although technically she’d been keeping quiet about it, working on it while he was working, but he wasn’t sure how far it’d come along since then.) She’d been in her study most of the day during the time after the funeral, and the times he’d peeked in on her, she was writing in a book that wasn’t her normal one. He didn’t want to ask what it was, but it seemed to be helping her perk up. Besides that, the past few days hadn’t been busy. Except for the knock at the door. Which was strange. And, was technically the reason he was standing in the foyer with the sleeping Frodo.
The knocking became more insistent as he approached, and the person standing there when he opened it wasn’t who he was expecting, though he didn’t quite know who he expected. (Gandalf, perhaps?) It was one of Bilba’s cousins, whom he’d been briefly introduced to at the funeral. She was red faced and breathing harder than was probably necessary. Her light blonde curls were flying in every direction as she looked up at him, eyes wide in surprise. “Peony?”
“Mister Thorin- hi - I though Bilba would open the door.”
“She’s in her study. Do you need someth-” He was interrupted as she pushed passed him. He raised his eyebrows as she rushed past.
“Sorry, it’s just - really very important!”
He sighed in slight disapproval as Frodo yawned against his shoulder.

Bilba came out of the study with Peony only a few minutes later, looking brighter than she had since the funeral. She showed Peony out and turned to Thorin. “They read the will. Apparently… Frodo is to be staying with us. Indefinitely.”

Chapter Text

The end of April arrived with the addition of Frodo more solidly into Bag-End. It also meant Bilba’s twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. The baby was starting to kick more often, and was getting bigger by the week. It also meant the end of the rainy season, and the garden started blooming in earnest. Thorin spent less of his time down at his stall and more time at home, helping Bilba prepare for the baby, helping get Frodo more settled down, and helping with the vegetables in the backyard.
May meant Frodo’s yearning for his parents was growing stronger. He was also growing more accustomed to living with Thorin and Bilba. Bell thought that the baby was most likely a boy, but wasn’t sure entirely. Marigold came over more often to help Bilba garden when Thorin was at work, and by the end of the month Bilba had overseen the rearrangement of all the furniture in the smial.
June and July were slow. Bilba was larger than ever, and honestly, she had grown quite tired of it. Most of her time was spent in the garden or in her study. Frodo had begun playing with the Gamgee children on the days that Thorin was down in market, or while Bilba was in the garden, with Marigold helping beside her. The summer was a relatively cool one, which was actually quite lovely, but when August arrived, it did so with the biggest heat wave of the season.

 

The August heat had really taken it's tole on Bilba. During the day it was bearable, but hadn't been able to sleep for two days. She'd kept Thorin awake with her tossing and turning as well (the heat didn't seem to affect him the same, but her movement did). After he'd fallen asleep tonight, however, she'd scooted away so she wouldn't bother him as much. So far it'd worked. As she blinked awake for the third night in a row, she groaned. Her abdomen was uncomfortably tight, but she'd been having those feelings for the past few weeks. Bell had told her to get used to it, because until the baby was ready, her body was going to be getting ready for it.
She could hear rain splattering against the window, and it made her want to open it and feel the cooling air on her skin. She yawned, rubbing at her tired eyes, before hoisting herself into a sitting position. Thorin turned over a little in his sleep, but didn't end up waking up. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, stretching slightly before standing. She shuffled over to the window, not having the energy to actually lift her feet off of the ground. Luckily, though, the window wasn't that far from the bed, and she felt amazing relief as she pulled it open. A cool breeze gusted through, bringing with it sweet relief from the heat and a mist of rain. Bilba stood there for a few moments longer, belly bumping gently against the windowsill, before she felt cooled enough to return to bed. She left the window open, though only slightly (she didn't want the floor to be soaked come daylight).
The tightness was a dull ache for the shuffle back to the bed, but slowly grew as she sat back on the edge of the bed. And then very suddenly there was a great burst, she felt her nightdress soaking in the liquid, and the dull ache escalated very quickly to a quiet roar of pain. She inhaled sharply and clutched at her stomach. It wasn't as if the pain was unbearable; no, she'd had worse. But really, she was much too tired to deal with this now. The pain subsided again, but only for a few minutes, and she used those to reach over and shake her husband forcefully, one hand on his shoulder, the other on her abdomen. It took a few moments to rouse him, and he looked at her blearily, looking so tired that she almost felt bad for waking him. Almost, until another wave of tightening, uncomfortable, barely bearable pain crashed upon her. "Hmm? What-" he paused to yawn, "is it, ghivâshel?"
"My water just broke," she murmured. She was slightly surprised at her calmness, and less so by Thorin's lack of as his eyes widened and he sat straight up. "It would be greatly appreciated if you'd go and fetch Bell, please," she added, groaning slightly in relief as the pain stopped. He threw off the thin blanket they'd been using and scrambled to his feet, very quickly pressing a kiss to her cheek before vanishing through the door. He returned quickly with a candle, though, before kissing her cheek again.
"I'll be back in a moment, just keep calm," he babbled. She laughed as he rushed away again, he was telling her to keep calm, all while running around like a hunted rabbit. As the ache started back up, Bilba reclined against her pillows and took deep breaths, waiting for her midwife and her husband to arrive.

The first thing Bell did when she arrived was look up Bilba's skirt. Thorin stood anxiously behind, drying himself off with a towel he'd nicked from the bathroom. "Well," Bell started, "Baby's definitely coming, though it's not quite time for it's arrival. We'll check again in a little bit and I'll get some more light in here." She bustled around the room, lighting more and more candles, until it was light enough to see without squinting.
"Are you positive it's not time yet?" Bilba asked through clenched teeth as another round of pain hit her.
"Quite sure, yes. I've done this several times before, Bilba, I'll tell you when it's time," she responded, checking once again under Bilba's skirt. Thorin dragged a chair to the side of the bed and sat next to her, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes. And then Bell came to his side and asked him, very politely, if he’d go fetch water for Bilba, and perhaps a few towels.
By the time he returned to the bedroom, glass of water in his hand with a pile of towels balanced on his right arm, Bell was nodding at Bilba, who looked quite nervous. And Bilba looked at Thorin, and, with a shaky voice, announced, “It’s time.”

The sun was rising. The sheets had been changed. Bilba was very nearly sleeping, for the first time in nearly three days. Her eyes drooped, heavy with exhaustion. Thorin, on the other hand, was wide awake, staring, incredulously, at the bundle he held in his arms. A little tuft of reddish-brown hair sat atop his head, and, even though his little face was bright red and slightly squished, Thorin’d never loved anything so much, so quickly.
The door creaked open then, and Thorin glanced to see Bell leading in a sleepy Frodo. His hair stuck out in every direction, still mussed from his sleep. He toddled over, paused at sight of the bundle, and then decided to finish his trip, placing his hands on Thorin’s knee as he peered at the baby thoughtfully. “Not Hamson.” Thorin laughed at that, shaking his head.
“No, not Hamson.”
“Baby.”
“Yes, Frodo.” He looked quizzically up at Thorin, before staring back at the new arrival.
“A brother?”
“Yes, if you’d like.” Thorin smiled warmly at the toddler, who gave the baby a satisfactory nod before stumbling over to Bilba’s side and the bed. Thorin followed with his eyes, about to pull Frodo back, when Bilba opened her eyes slightly, and pulled Frodo up besides her. “Hello, Bibba,” he said, patting her cheek.
“Hello, love. Do you like the baby?” Frodo nodded, glancing back over.
“What’s brother’s name?” he asked Bilba, and she turned her gaze to Thorin’s.
“We could name him after your father-” started Thorin, standing as Bilba gestured to hold the newborn. She settled him in her arms, smoothing back his hair as he yawned.
“No, no, I couldn’t name him Bungo, it doesn’t fit him. I was thinking… how about Frerin? After your brother?”
“I-” Thorin started before she spoke, then paused as he listened to her words, smiling a bit. Then his son opened his big, blue eyes and blinked up at his wife, and he knew it was a perfect fit. He took a seat besides Bilba, Frodo, and the baby, the bed dipping underneath his weight as he settled in. “I think it’s time his name was used again. I think it fits him rather well.”
Bilba looked up at him, a glowing smile lighting up her face, and the tired lines disappearing briefly from under her eyes. He pressed his lips to her forehead, then to Frodo’s, then to Frerin’s.
“I want time to stop, so I may remember this moment perfectly as it is,” he murmured, sitting back, his arm still wrapped around Bilba’s shoulders. She laughed, briefly, and turned her radiant smile onto the boys she held. She spoke softly next, as a breeze shifted the curtains, and the morning sun shone through the open window.
“That’s ridiculous." She paused, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "After everything that's happened... All we've been through... We've made it so far since the first time we left this little hole in the ground. I think... It’d be strange to end a chapter of our lives here, when the book has barely begun.”