Gandalf sat outside staring out into the darkness, at the smials hidden in the hills of the Shire, smoking his pipe. While he stared out into the hills, however, he did not seem to see anything.
Because his worries lay behind his back inside the smial of BagEnd, directed to a she-Hobbit that lay just beyond the green door with the rune carved into it. One that, even though the dwarves still claimed to have cared about in Erebor lay alone now bearing the secret that only he and she fully knew.
"Please don't go and tell him."
He hadn't expected anything different to be honest. He had seen how heartbroken she had been, even in her fevered mind. But now he wondered if he should have gone ahead and told. Maybe then, she wouldn't be facing the hardest trial a woman of any race could face.
Billanna Baggins could say that she was not having the greatest of days. Her contractions had started early in the morning, and now the sky was dark with dusk. And while she had given birth to her eldest a few hours or so, she could hardly have concentrated on that as her youngest child had begun to follow their sister. But now it seemed the child had changed their mind and was determined to stay where they were. Now she panted exhaustedly over the next five coming up to six hours pushing, trying to get this little one to appear, but they seemed stubbornly set on staying put.
So stubborn. So much like…
She shook her head. No she wouldn’t think about him right now. She wouldn’t think of the once exiled dwarf king that she had helped reclaim his throne. She wouldn’t think of how madness had drove them from one another and how it wouldn’t matter…it couldn’t matter because he was in Erebor and she was in BagEnd again.
But try as she might, she couldn’t.
She wanted Thorin to be here, or just outside pacing the hall worriedly as she brought their children into this world, the Company likely betting on whether they were both girls, boys, or one of each. She wanted the infants to see the kingdom that their father had nearly died trying to reclaim as the first thing they saw other than their makeshift family.
Tears that were of a different pain slid down her cheeks as she let loose another scream and bore down on the contraction, pushing hard. Sweat and tears covered her face as she breathed erratically before the pain ripped through her again. She was so tired, exhausted. She pushed once more and, seconds later, she felt herself her back hitting the pillows again. She clenched her teeth. Emotions flood deep inside her like they were forming a whirlpool. Part of her wanted to beat Thorin into a bloody pulp for getting her pregnant, tearing his beard out in retaliation for making her go through this, while the other wanted to kiss him and declare her love for him, and it confused the hell out of her.
"She's exhausted," she heard the midwife say. Her voice seemed incredibly distant right now – like he was in the opposite side of a very large room. The voices seemed to blur and soften down to a murmur as the sudden instinct to push overfilled her senses. Instinctively she bore down and tried to breathe. She could hear now the sudden calling out from the assistant that sounded reminiscent of 'that's good. You're doing real well!' Pain came again, and the urge came once more and she started to push again. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the blanket that she was lying on. She'd had no idealistic fantasies about the process of childbirth, but like so many women before her, she had hoped that it wouldn't be as bad as she heard.
And like all the women before her, she was wrong.
Another scream erupted as she bore down again. She could feel pain, excruciating pain. She didn't know if she was crying or that was sweat sliding down her face. She didn't really care right then.
She had read dozens of books about pregnancy in Rivendell and when she had finally returned fully in Hobbiton, and a few on the actual delivery of a child. Even so, the pain was unimaginable. Whoever had written those books HAD to have been a bloke…because no sane person would describe the way labor actually felt if they had gone through it. . The pain was indescribable. Words were indescribable. Another push and she heard the assistant state the baby's head was out. She pushed again as hard as she could, praying that she could deliver the baby quickly. After another push, the baby's shoulders were out, and, despite her exhaustion, she put all of her strength into one final push. She screamed again, but the sound didn't register in her pain and worry filled mind.
What if this baby was hurt, because of something she had done or she had taken too long to be born?
What if both children hated her?
No. She wouldn't let that happen. She couldn’t lose them like she lost him. She couldn't-
Slowly the sound of her own scream died out, and she flopped backwards onto the pillows breathing heavily. The ringing in her ears slowly died out, and the ringing was replaced by another sound…a sound that erased any signs of her exhaustion from the forefront of her mind, nearly passing out in relief when she heard the outraged squall from the newest newborn.
The world became less blurred and she blinked until she could see the small squirming infant next to her head as the assistant showed the outraged infant.
“Another healthy girl Mistress Baggins.” The young she-hobbit said with a smile and Billa’s heart melted, and suddenly, the months of odd food cravings, the hours of backaches, the emotional outbursts, the labor, the heartache of being alone…all of that seemed meaningless as she watched the girl go to where the other infant was, who had been asleep but was now fussing again as her younger sister was cleaned. The hobbits paused briefly, looking at the eldest before picking them up and bringing them over to Billa, who reached out instinctively for her daughters as they were placed into her arms. They were both wrinkled and red, the youngest’s eyes clamped shut as she screamed at the top of her lungs, loudly protesting at entering this cold world in exchange for leaving the warm safe one she had grown in. Her dark hair was matter firmly on top of her scalp, but she could see they were already curling. She felt tears—not of pain—slide down her cheeks as she smiled at her.
“My daughters…oh hello…” She whispered as she kissed their temples softly. Her soft hushing softened the youngest’s cries, and she slowly blinked, opening her eyes just a crack, and staring at her with the most familiar expression she had ever seen and it made her heart jump to her throat as they finished cleaning her.
“…it appears your eldest is blind, Mistress Baggins.” The older she-hobbit said, startling Billa out of her thoughts and turned her head to look at the other one. She watched as the girl opened her eyes, but she could see that there was no recognition, no sense of her even realizing who she was. “If you want we can always-”
“You even suggest it, I don’t care if I just got out of labor, I’ll find a way to make you eat those words.” She growled, clutching her daughters tightly to her. “They are my children, and I will be keeping them both.”
The midwife’s seemed stunned by this as Billa went to look at her daughters again barely hearing them say that they needed to move her or when Gandalf came in.
Delicately she kissed their foreheads.
Billa thought about their names quietly, her fingertips brushing against their soft cheeks as she was picked up and moved to a plush armchair and the midwife’s set to change the bedding, and the youngest squirmed again. Billa smiled gently and then remembered a small amount of history she had managed to pull out of Balin about the Seven Dwarf Fathers and their wives. Two wives in particular.
“Freya. Your name will be Freya.” She pressed a quick kiss to the youngest child’s nose in her left arm. “And you shall be Frigga.” She continued pressing a swift kiss to the other to her eldest nestled in the crook of her right arm. Gandalf smiled.
Even in separation and heartbroken, she still was willing to allow some of the lasses paternal heritage forth. Though it could have also been a homage to that small caravan of dwarrowmen and dams that had stumbled upon her when they had been heading to Erebor. He had never been so glad to see such a strange sight of nomadic dwarfs that he didn’t even bother to ask for their names as he left with the wounded hobbit woman with Beorn to return to the skin-changer’s home.
She looked up and smiled at Gandalf. She probably looked unseemly and unkempt, but she cared little for anything else other than two precious bundles in her arms. Gandalf smiled, his eyes shining as the one bundle squirmed around.
“They are beautiful.”
Billa beamed proudly before looking back at the now small cooing parcels in both of her arms, looking at the soft mops of black curls against healthy pink skin, the opposite of her mousey brown hair, she placed a kiss on each of their foreheads. Freya, whose hair stuck in all manner of ways squirmed to the touch, but remained asleep, suckling on her fingers gently, while Frigga, her dark curls wild, but not to that degree of her sister, simply cooed again, remaining virtually still. The hobbit woman smiled and looked at the grey wizard.
“Thank you for staying here until they were born.” She remarked and the wizard smiled, though she saw a flash of anger, before she looked down at her daughters. "I don't think I would have even made it to Rivendell without you."
“It was the least I could do.” He finally remarked looking at her. “Thankfully, they are healthy lasses…in a matter of speaking.” He remarked as Frigga opened her eyes.
"They are healthy, and if anyone disagrees they will go through me first.” She remarked coldly, causing him to chuckle. She paused.
“They look like him…” She whispered softly.
“But they are your daughters.”
“They are his too…he just doesn’t know it.” She responded and he remained tactifully silent. Soon after she stifled a yawn and Gandalf offered his arms.
“I believe it is time for you to rest, Billanna. You have had a long day. I shall watch over the pair.”
“Thank you…” She murmured softly, glad that the mid-wife had forced her to move so she could change the sheets after the labor, as she was far too exhausted to do it herself. The lights were dimmed farther, she slid back into the bed, and the last she saw before sleep took hold of her was Gandalf holding her precious daughters in both arms, her jeweled flowers.
And a smile crossed over her face and she fell asleep.
It was late at night when Billa awoke again and slid out of bed walking in the shadows to the nursery. She was limping and had to lean on the walls, but she managed to get there and looked over the cribs. She stared at her daughters with a soft smile on her face as she pushed back their black curls from the forehead.
She had something she needed to say to them…something she didn’t know how or when to say earlier, but she was alone now, save the sleeping infants.
“My precious treasures. Mama loves you more than anything.” She whispered softly. “And Mama will always protect you.” She added.
“Oda’u Abanaz Melhekinh Zesulul Abadaz.” She said pressing a kiss to Freya’s temple and then went over to Frigga.
“MakhajmulKans Abanaz Melhekinh Zesulul Abadaz.” She whispered to Frigga, doing the same as she had done with Freya and smiled at her little treasures.
It was a few hectic first months, Billa realized, as she watched Frigga sucked on the head of a doll in her sleep as Freya kicked around. It was hard being a single, first-time mother of two, harder still with trying to deal with something you never had seen before for one of them. But Frigga’s blindness was overshadowed by the other beautiful quirks she had. Any sound, touch, or smell gave a brilliant smile to her daughter’s face, a look of wonder crossing her expression as those sapphire eyes that stared at nothing in general lit up in excitement. How her ears, pointed at the end but larger than most fauntling’s ears, would almost wiggled whenever a bird sang its song into the air, enjoying the sound. And Freya, maker’s above, was one that she was sure would cause trouble once she could walk always had to try something, or roll in something. And like her sister, any sound or touch brought peals of laughter from her, and any sight that was new made her face light up. And despite the headaches she would gain, whenever she spotted them napping on their blanket as she helped Hamfest tend the garden, a sense of pride washed over her. They were perfect.
If only everyone else in the Shire thought as much.
While she could handle the whispers said about her, about her apparent horrid behavior, she was far too used to such gossip and was almost amused by the nickname 'Mad Baggins', the whispers that had been directed at her children wanted her to rip off out the tongue of those who dared to talk about Frigga and Freya.
How Frigga must have been cursed with blindness for being born out of wedlock, that maybe she had multiple fathers, for how were they to know what could and couldn’t happen with dwarves, how she was a lost cause, not worthy to understand the ways of the Shire. How Freya would grow up a wild child with no morals, as she was already turning into one. That no one would want a bastard child who was too loud and vibrant as his wife.
Billa stood in the doorway of the room that had two basinets, watching her girls. She was internally grateful for Hamfast and his wife Bell for lending her the cribs, offering her a shoulder to lean on during her pregnancy, which had lasted longer than most hobbit pregnancies. So few had been willing to accept her and her daughters. She dimmed the lamp which softly lit the room for Freya if she awoke, casting away the shadows that would startle a tiny babe such as herself. She went to the cabinet and pulled out an old music box that her mother had gotten on one of her adventures. Her mother had always joked it had been made by dwarfs, but Billa could never be sure.
Whatever the case, Billa had always loved the tune and both her daughter’s loved it as well. Slowly she twisted the knob, listening to the soft creaking of the wheels inside. Then slowly the music filled the room and she stood there looking at the intricate designs on the outer box, listening to the tune, before she left the nursery and slid into her own bed. She stared at the ceiling, wishing that the darkness that surrounded her would vanish, before she closed her eyes and allowed her memories take her back.
“Hm? What do you mean?” Billa murmured tiredly, curling up to Thorin. The dwarf absently drew designs on her bare arm causing goose bumps to rise up and she shifted looking up towards him. He was staring at her.
“After we reclaim Erebor, stay here. With me.”
To many it would be an order, but she could hear the question in it. She was silent and then sat up leaning on her upper arms and then delicately kissed him. Granted Thorin, being Thorin, deepened it, cupping the back of her head and pressing her close. She laughed against his mouth, pulling away slightly.
“You’re not going to give me much choice, are you?”
“You foolish dwarf.” She teased. “But I suppose I can.” She added and he offered a soft smile. She then grinned teasingly, twirling a braid with her finger. “Though I MIGHT need a bit more persuasion.”
“That’s quite enough teasing for one night, Mistress Baggins.” He said with a chuckle and she stuck her tongue out, before opening her mouth to argue.
Much to her delight he kissed her again, shutting her up.
Granted there were quite a few other sounds that followed after.
If only they had known what laid ahead of them.