A fire blazed in the parlor of Bag End the afternoon Thorin's company left.
Kili held Bilbo astride him in the hobbit's favorite armchair. Coming down from another crying jag, Bilbo snuffled into a handkerchief and Kili's arms tightened around him.
Cradling the back of Bilbo's head, Kili rocked him gently. From somewhere, deep and clouded in his mind, Bilbo recalled a scene in Lake Town (from memories he did not remember he had) of Thorin doing the very same while Bilbo was ill. Nearly able to hear Thorin's soft whispers, Bilbo's tears renewed.
"It is okay," Kili whispered, softly weeping with him. "I understand."
Several moments passed with Bilbo trying to calm himself once more. Turning his head on Kili's shoulder, he looked into the warm, inviting fire through bleary eyes. He had been chilled to the bone outside without his cloak, staring into the air over the hill where he last saw Thorin, and only now felt finally heated through. Thinking about how he had a cozy fire when Thorin was still out there in this cold autumn air, would still be out in it for many days between here and Erebor, Bilbo could not stave off a fresh round of weeping. Why hadn't he said something sooner? Thorin could be there right this minute, ruffling Kili's hair, discussing politics with Fili, kissing Bilbo...even bickering with Bofur would have been welcome. Bilbo had not realized how much he wanted Thorin to stay--truly stay--until he was faced with watching him go.
Kili rubbed Bilbo's back, shedding a few more tears along with his distraught love. This reaction was not surprising to him. Kili knew this would be a difficult afternoon all around, and for Bilbo in particular. He guessed (rightly) that in many ways, it was more trying for Bilbo to let Thorin go with a promise of love than the times he let him go as a lover estranged. As Kili expected, Bilbo eventually grew heavier in his arms, exhaustion overtaking the sadness. Kili was impressed Bilbo had lasted this long, truthfully.
"Here, why don't you have yourself a bit of a rest?" Kili said, adjusting Bilbo to continue holding him as he stood.
Bilbo did not argue when Kili carried him to bed, nor did he fuss when he was tucked under a cover he didn't realize had been pulled open for him.
"Don't go," Bilbo murmured sleepily.
Kili climbed up next to him, staying above the covers. Putting an arm over him, Kili kissed the back of his neck.
"I'll stay until you fall asleep. You could use an uninterrupted bit of a nap after the morning you've had," Kili said.
"Thank you, Kee."
Bilbo's breathing grew deeper, though his stuffed head made it sound anything but peaceful. Kili did not have the heart to giggle at the very un-Bilbo like snores, knowing the reason behind them to be far from merry. When he was sure Bilbo was well and truly out, Kili eased out of bed and let Bilbo sleep.
To Thorin's surprise, Dís's exception with Thorin's goodbyes had nothing to do with the kiss he gave Kili and everything to do with the one he gave Bilbo.
"Right in front of Kili! Our friends! Our citizens! To say nothing of the hobbits! Fili told me they are awful gossips--just think what have you done to poor Kili! All that talk! And Bilbo, letting you, letting you...well, letting you, and not having the decency to so much as try to stop you!"
Thorin listened as Dís ranted on for at least a half a league, noting smug looks from Dwalin whenever he caught his eye--looks that said, "I told you to leave it well enough alone." By the time Dís repeated her primary objections for the third time, Thorin figured she had gotten most of it out of her system and interrupted her.
"Can we stop, now? While I still have some skin upon my brow?" he asked.
"Oh, you think it is funny?" she countered. "Making light while you and that hobbit break Kili's heart and ruin his reputation in his new home?"
Thorin rolled his eyes. "Kili's reputation is going to be fine. You spent several days there, you know hobbits can be a little more, ah, liberal than dwarrows, not to mention Bilbo has a solid family name. If marrying a dwarf and marching elves through the Shire didn't shake his standing, neither did that kiss--and Kili's heart is hardly broken."
"How can you say that when-"
"-He knew, Dís. He gave his blessing."
"No son of mine would agree to that!"
Dwalin scoffed, immediately catching their attention. He artfully turned it into a coughing fit.
"Sorry, I think I inhaled a bug or something," he muttered.
Back to the subject, Thorin said, "Well, he did. There's history there and many, many discussions have been had in the past couple weeks--that's all you need know. I have heard your concerns and I appreciate your input, but this conversation ends here. You have gotten enough assurances to know I didn't leave Kili's marriage and reputation in tatters on the road outside Bag End, and I think it is enough."
"Enough, Dís," Thorin said, using his stern, brotherly tone.
She crossed her arms but pressed the argument no further.
"How is he?" Bofur asked when Kili joined them in the smoking room.
Replied Kili, "Worn out. He's resting right now."
"How are you?" Fili asked.
Shrugging, Kili said, "Better than he is. I'm sad, of course, sadder than even I thought I'd be, but Bee's heartbreak has made me cry more than Thorin's and Mam's departure."
Fili shot him a look of concern.
"Oh, not because I'm worried about anything between Bee and Thorin," Kili clarified. "No, I ache for Bee because--Durin's Beard!--I know how it felt to leave him for only a week. I hate seeing him so beside himself, but I understand it. How are you doing?"
"I wasn't as well-prepared to see everyone go as I thought I had made myself," Fili confessed. "I'll admit to crying a few tears of my own while you were consoling Bee. Still, I'm trying to have Beorn's attitude about the whole thing, keeping the happy memories and looking forward to the day when we all can make more."
Bofur smiled kindly, slipping his arm around Fili. "Aye, and we will."
"How are you faring today, Bo?" asked Kili.
"About the same as Fee. The Shire has been so alive with our friends and relations." Bofur quirked a hint of a smile, thinking of Bifur. "It won't be the same without them, and that's a fact."
"You are right about that," Kili agreed.
Rorimac sat in front of his fire with Bifur's letter and read it for the umpteenth time since he had raced home with it. He guessed he could almost recite it from memory.
The time we spent together was brief but exhilarating for me. It has been a long time since I've felt such happiness, but it is tempered by doubt. My good judgement says we should end it before we get too involved, but I confess your impassioned pleas echo my own deeper urges. I still mean what I told you before, so I propose this: let us use this parting to get to know one another in a way too awkward in person with my affliction--through letters. Allow me to share who I am with you, and allow yourself to share who you are with me. If was more than body for us, we will discover it through our written words. If not, we'll have a lustful affair to fondly recall as we part in friendship.
I will send you something at the first available opportunity. As luck has it, I am traveling with a few who will be anxious to send letters of their own back to the Shire, so I anticipate this could happen well before we reach Erebor.
Daylight waned and shadows overtook the sun, bit by bit, across the rolling green hills. Bilbo had sleepily (and grumpily) declined to get out of bed for afternoon tea, and--although Kili thought Bilbo ought to drink something for all the tears he had wept and get a comforting bite into his belly--Kili let him be. Now, as he prepared dinner with Fili, Kili was not as inclined to let Bilbo's mood get in the way of his body's needs. Kili glanced at Bofur, who had been concerned about Bilbo all day, restlessness growing with each hour the hobbit slept.
"Bo, would you mind assisting me?" Kili asked.
Bilbo stirred to a gentle hand stroking his hair.
"Bee," a voice called.
"Bo? Is that you?"
Rolling over, Bilbo blinked to adjust his eyes. The light coming into the window was far sparser than it had been, though it was not quite full night. A fire (when did that get built?) was lit and gently illuminating the room, along with the candle on the nightstand.
"Aye, it's your Bo," Bofur said with adoring gentleness. "We've been worried about you. Your nap make you feel any better?"
Bilbo made a face. "I suspect all it did was replace my tongue with wool. I'm pretty sure it was the bawling that gave me this headache, though."
"Well, Kee sent me in with strict instructions. You are to drink this entire tankard of water, and he also fixed us each a mug of tea to sip while you got yourself ready to think about the dinner they're making us," Bofur said. "One of them is bound to fix those two problems, at least."
Bilbo considered arguing, but he had no reason to be contrary other than his melancholy mood. Also, it was difficult to retain his fussy demeanor with Bofur gazing upon him with such love and concern in his face.
"Very well," Bilbo said, downing the water quickly.
Bilbo scooted to sit up against the headboard. Bofur handed him his tea, sitting on the bed in front of him with his own drink, one leg folded in front and the other dangling over the side. They sat quietly for a few moments, taking cautious drinks so as not to burn their mouths.
Sighing, Bilbo broke the silence. "I know today isn't even truly goodbye, it's just...I-I guess all this seems a bit extreme, doesn't it?" he said, glancing into his cup guiltily.
"Not at all," Bofur replied. "I cried a lot myself when the three of you left me at Erebor. Like you, I knew it wasn't forever, and I had even turned down an invitation to come along, but I still wept like a babe all the rest of that day. There's no shame in missing the ones you love, Bee."
Bilbo peered at him curiously. "Why didn't you come with us, then? You knew you'd be joining us eventually, after all. Why put it off?"
"I've told you, I felt a responsibility to stay with Bombur and Bifur, at least until Bombur's family arrived."
Bilbo looked into his cup again, carrying something on his tongue that he was not sure should be given voice.
"But you still had Bombur and Bifur when you offered to flee Erebor with me," Bilbo said.
Bofur hesitated before softly confirming, "Aye, I did."
"I wanted you safe, and it seemed within my power to at least try to make it so."
Bilbo eyes met Bofur's, searchingly, as though he suspected the explanation did not stop there. Bofur shifted under the weight of Bilbo's gaze.
Rubbing the back of his neck, he asked, "Mahal, Bee, what do you want me to say?"
Bilbo shrugged but his gaze did not waver. Bofur sighed resignedly.
"And I knew if ever I was to have a shot, no matter how small, that would have been it," he admitted quietly. "Though it was second to worry of your safety, it was the opportunity--the slightest chance you and I could have been an us--that blinded me most to the other responsibilities otherwise keeping me in Erebor."
"Bo," Bilbo murmured, reaching out for Bofur's hand.
"That night you called me to the gate, I thought...I thought--that is to say, it seemed as though you were asking me to take watch duty because you wanted, you wanted-" Bofur unexpectedly choked on the renewed emotion of that long-past disappointment.
Bilbo spoke gently, "No, that wasn't what I wanted, but you helped me anyway. Oh, my sweet Bo! You didn't give me any idea, not the smallest inkling I had disheartened you. You even feigned happiness at Kili carrying our bead!"
"It wasn't feigned, Bee. I knew he loved you, and my heart went out to him, understanding how it felt to be so in love without it being returned. My happiness for him in that moment was real--it wasn't as though you had been mine, after all." Bofur swallowed and canted his head thoughtfully. "Other things were meant to happen, it seems, and by some act of the Valar, Fee fell in love with me. I've had a feeling for him nearly as long as I've known I was in love with you, and he was no less a dream come true."
Bilbo spent a moment lost in memory, eventually breaking the quiet mood with a giggle. Bofur looked at him strangely in question.
"All those times I kept insisting you were a prince, and now you actually are one."
Smiling bashfully, Bofur said, "Not quite yet."
"The same as! You've even signed an official document with your title! Who knew I had been so prescient?"
"It could not have happened to a more deserving, more lovely soul, Bo. Really."
"Could you--I mean, would you mind keeping that bit about me offering to abscond with you to ourselves? Fee may have guessed it along the way, as he has guessed so many other things, but it seems possibly a hurtful thing to say to him outright."
"I will keep it a secret."
Bilbo let his head fall against the headboard, taking another sip of tea. Bofur idly combed through the hair on one of Bilbo's feet with his free hand while Bilbo watched the light from the flames sway along the ceiling. The combination was hypnotic and calming.
"This is nice, you know?" Bilbo said.
Bofur hummed in agreement.
"Puts me in mind of something..." Bilbo trailed off, shaking his head.
"Nothing, seems I have Lake Town on my mind today for some reason. I was thinking about it earlier, remembering when I was sick, something reminded me of Thorin and now, now, well, never mind. It sounds foolish."
Bofur set his tea down and pulled Bilbo's calf into his lap. "Please, tell me."
"I had this strange little thought--almost a memory--of you talking to me, quiet and low, rubbing my back while I was ill," Bilbo said, embarrassed. "It is silly, really, because I-"
"-I did," Bofur murmured.
"I'm surprised you remembered. You were sick, very feverish, and I came to check on you in Thorin's absence. You were dreaming awake, hallucinating and crying out. You couldn't take another tea again so soon, so I did the only thing I could. I sat with you, humming tunes and murmuring comfort, trying to soothe you as much as I was able until Thorin returned or until you could drink another medicine, whichever came first."
"That's--oh," Bilbo said, voice filled with emotion.
"What else could I do? I've always been happy to be there when you needed it, to watch over you and let you know you were safe and loved."
Bilbo set down his mug, crawling forward to give Bofur a hug. Bofur's arms wrapped around him and neither of them made a move to let go for many moments.
"See? I knew you were a prince--even back then," Bilbo said, voice wet again with tears.
Bofur choked a laugh.
Bofur's laugh infected Bilbo with giggles of his own. Parting, they both wiped at their eyes and grinned at each other.
Bofur stood and drained his tea. Holding out his hand he said, "Want to go find out what smells so delicious?"
Bilbo nodded decisively, shimmying out of bed and slipping his hand in Bofur's. "I'm famished!"
"What do you expect when you skip lunch and tea?" Bofur teased.
Thorin's traveling company stopped at sunset for camp. Thorin carefully unpacked the meal Bilbo prepared for him, which also contained a touch of Fili's bread and one of Kili's handpies Thorin taught him to fold. He hummed a laugh to himself that he must be turning hobbit, feeling so sentimental about his food. Still, he held small portions representing the ones he loved in his lap and something about that made each bite taste better, somehow.
After he ate, he pulled Bilbo's letter from its pocket.
Fate is mocking me, my king. How many times did you write me sad, wistful letters, knowing in your heart we were meant to be--even as I was planning to ride away? Now I am in your boots, so to speak, and it is hateful.
As of this writing, you have not yet left my roof and I can already feel the yearning growing in my core. You leave Bag End with my heart and my promise this time, just as I hold yours, and yet it does not assuage the sting.
I've been covering you with kisses and murmuring apologies since we've reconciled, but I don't think I'll ever stop begging your forgiveness for putting you through all I have. I always felt pulled in two, drawn to you and Kili both, aching and confused because living without one of you seemed to break my heart. I didn't know, I couldn't see, I had no idea the answer to our heartache was in front of me all the while.
Get back to Erebor safe and wait for me. I will come to you in the spring, my love. Until then, I shall be counting the weeks until I am able to hold you once again.
I love you, my husband.
Bilbo, Prince Consort of Erebor
Discreetly, Thorin wiped a tear, though he also grinned. He had no doubt Bilbo deliberately included his title, knowing it would give Thorin these splendid butterflies in his stomach.
Much calmer after his nap and pleasant tea with Bofur, Bilbo felt embarrassment to see Fili and even his Kili again after the spectacle he had made of himself, weeping over the company departing. Still holding Bofur's hand on the way down the hall, he tried to tamp down the feelings and quell the flush that had been no doubt filling his cheeks.
To Bilbo's great relief, Fili neither teased nor fussed. He greeted Bilbo with a pleasant kiss and that was that. Kili kissed him, too, and asked if he slept well. No one seemed to pity, press, or pry. That, along with the lovely roast chicken the brothers made (and a little wine), helped Bilbo relax. Having skipped a few meals, he felt free to enjoy his dinner thoroughly.
Though he was under no obligation, Thorin volunteered for the first watch. It enabled him to take advantage of some semblance of privacy to begin writing to Bilbo by firelight. Only a small handful of their company were still waking and upright, one of them being Bifur.
Sitting not far from Thorin, Bifur indicated Thorin's lapful of paraphernalia. "Are you turning scribe like Ori?" he teased.
Replied Thorin, "No, I promised Bilbo I would write whenever I could so, when the time came, he would get a bundle of letters from me instead of just the one."
Bifur looked thoughtful. "Do you think you could spare some supplies?"
Closer to bed time, Bilbo grew nervous again. He thought perhaps Bofur and Fili might be awaiting a return to his bed, and he didn't know how to tell them he didn't have the heart for it tonight without offense. Bilbo greatly looked forward to their next session, but he was too heart-wrecked and raw this evening with Thorin's departure to share himself with anyone save Kili. With intent too easily misread, and this new union so fresh, Bilbo fretted over Bofur misunderstanding him entirely.
In the end, Bilbo needn't have worried. Fili stood, announcing that he was ready to go to bed, as it had been a long day. Fili bent to claim a kiss from Bilbo, enticing but far from filthy.
"Sleep well, Bee. We'll see you in the morning," Fili said.
Bofur took his turn, also choosing to share a promising but noninvasive kiss. "'Night, Bee."
A fair share of the remaining tension in Bilbo's body left it with a whoosh as Kili received his own goodnight embraces. Bilbo looked fondly at the hall down which Fili and Bofur had disappeared.
"Isn't that something?" Bilbo breathed, almost to himself.
"How they just...knew. I'd been worrying all night how to tell them what I wanted without them thinking I had changed my mind completely, and in the end I didn't have to."
Kili hugged Bilbo to him. "That's the thing about truly knowing and caring about each other--sometimes words aren't needed."
In light of Bilbo's relief from Fili and Bofur retiring to their own bed, Kili thought it might be too much to expect Bilbo to feel libidinous tonight. Even so, he washed up and refrained from privately finishing himself before he joined Bilbo in the bedroom. If it was up to Kili alone, he personally craved Bilbo's closeness after a morning of sad partings.
Undressing for bed, Bilbo's eyes couldn't help but sweep over the loveliness of Kili's body in the candlelight. Kili gave him an affectionate smile when their eyes met and Bilbo's heart swelled. Here, he had gone on and on all day over Thorin and their friends leaving without offering comfort to Kili, plus how would he feel if Kili had spent the day squalling about someone leaving when Bilbo was still very much here and by his side? Yet here Kili was, doting, caring, smiling.
In bed, Kili gave Bilbo soft kisses goodnight, his cock growing harder between them but not pressing for more. He rolled over with his back to Bilbo's chest and scooted firmly against him, tugging Bilbo's arm around his waist. Exhaling a long breath, he settled in comfortably, waiting for slumber.
Bilbo could tell Kili wanted to go beyond kissing, but he had stopped himself, snuggling up against him and heading toward sleep instead. If he thought Kili truly was exhausted, or not interested in coupling tonight, Bilbo would have chased sleep himself, but he was sure Kili was denying his arousal for Bilbo's benefit alone. True, Bilbo did not want to share the bed with Bofur or Fili this night, but it wasn't because he was too overwrought to feel desire. Tonight he wanted--no, needed--his Kili, his Kee. Oh, and didn't Kili's body against his feel like exquisite sin? Even if Bilbo had been too beside himself, he suspected he might have been able to put it aside for several moments of worship and rapture with this gorgeous creature in his arms.
Bilbo kissed Kili's back, his tongue darting out with each press of his lips, chaining soft, damp spots across the expanse of Kili's shoulders. He rubbed his prick against Kili's buttocks, relishing the sweet sigh the movement elicited. His hand smoothed across Kili's chest, pausing to tweak at his nipple ring before caressing down over his hip, gripping it, and pulling Kili into him harder. Kili whimpered.
"Let me, Kee. Please, say you'll let me," Bilbo whispered into his ear.
Kili turned his head as far as he could and Bilbo met him there, claiming his mouth hungrily. Surprised by Bilbo's passion and willingness, Kili yielded to his kisses, his touches, his flesh pressed against him. Something about Bilbo's mood and caresses made Kili feel new, explored as though this was the first time Bilbo proposed to make love to him. His heart fluttered with adoration even as his cock was hardened with lust--he would not deny Bilbo anything he wanted.
"I'll let you, beg you even," Kili replied.
Bilbo leaned over Kili's body, slicking his fingers at the nightstand before returning to his position behind him. Kili closed his eyes in bliss and awaited the sweet stretch to come. Still on his side, he clutched his pillow as he struggled through deep breaths and needy whines. Bilbo worked him open steadily, but with clear haste. Understanding Bilbo did not wish to tease sent a jolt up Kili's spine. It was always so delicious when Bilbo craved him too badly to linger.
Kili gasped Bilbo's name when he felt his cock slide inside him, still at his back, the two of them spooned together. A loving, protective arm held him close as an appealing mouth puffed out moans against his nape. Bilbo moved in him slowly with even, agonizing rhythm. Tingling, anxious warmth spread through Kili's arms and legs--Bilbo had been in a needy hurry but took him languidly, wanting him both body and soul. Though their pounding, frantic sessions had a delightful appeal, Kili adored times like these. He relaxed in Bilbo's arms, surrendering.
"That's it," Bilbo whispered encouragingly. "My beautiful Kee, give in to me."
"Yours," Kili whispered back.
Bilbo's hand slipped down, taking hold of Kili's cock and pumping in lazy tandem with the movement of his hips. Kili stuttered out a sound of surprised pleasure. With his lips next to Kili's ear, Bilbo murmured devotions.
"No matter who is in this bed, whose kisses we share, nor even whose spend we taste, everything, all of it, returns to this. Us. There's nothing, no one, like you for me," Bilbo said.
Kili floated in a pool of ecstasy, the emotions running through his heart and mind with Bilbo's words as intense as the sensations rippling through his body while it was being thoroughly pleasured. The past few days had seen them caught up in their play, and he had tried to be so mindful of Thorin's departure, he didn't realize how amazingly welcome this assurance would be, how much he needed a night alone with Bilbo in their marriage bed.
"As much as I love him, not even Thorin," Bilbo whispered.
The urge to both cry and come welled up within Kili, a tear breaking well ahead of the rest.
Before Bilbo had realized what had happened, he was on his back with Kili's arse sinking down around his erection. Kili pitched forward, seizing Bilbo's face with one free hand while he supported himself with the other. Watery eyes met Bilbo's gaze.
"There's no one like you for me, either," Kili said. "No matter how I play with Thorin, or what Fee and I might do, it is this, our union, the two of us together...my jewel, you are everything to me."
Bilbo whispered his name, threading a hand in his hair and pulling him down into a passionate kiss.
When they broke free, Kili rested his forehead against Bilbo's and panted, "It is true."
Bilbo, still rolling his hips into Kili, whispered back, "You've made it possible--all this pleasure, love, and obscenity--I would have stayed bottled up and confused without you to free me."
"You've captured me and freed at the same time, because none of it means anything without you."
"I belong to you, Kee. Regardless of anything or anyone, I am yours foremost."
Kili sat up, his expression a mixture of adoration and impish lust. "Then I shall take you."
Having seized control of this encounter, Kili turned seductor. He rose and fell, riding Bilbo steadily and without mercy. Bilbo gasped and held on as Kili fucked him, breathtaking and wild. Stroking himself as he moved, Kili rode until he forced Bilbo's release. Bilbo gripped him hard and came, momentarily lifting them both off the bed. Kili spilled onto Bilbo's stomach just after, easing off Bilbo and lapping it up thoroughly. He crawled along Bilbo's side and was rapidly pulled into an embrace.
Entangled in one another's arms, they kissed until they were drowsy, eventually falling asleep with barely a jot between their lips.
Fili begged Bofur to fuck him hard. Bofur had hoped for a more tender coupling this evening over the rougher, animal sessions Fili had been fixated on recently, but whenever Fili got that feverish glint in his eyes, Bofur found it incredibly difficult to deny him.
Collapsing together at the end, Bofur had to admit the rigorous activity (and the subsequent hammering orgasm) did just as fine a job of soothing his sadness, after all.
"Hold me," Fili whispered, happily shaken apart.
Bofur pulled him close. "Always, Fee."
"I adore what you do to me," Fili sighed. "I adore you."
Bofur grinned and held him tighter, lovingly stroking his hair.
Thorin rued the turn of fortunes that would land him on a bedroll on the hard ground when only last night he shared a comfortable bed with two warm lovers, but the blanket Bilbo sent with him helped immensely. Breathing deep, Thorin pulled the symbolic comfort of Bag End around him more tightly. Although it had been quite a feat to avoid breaking down as Bilbo disappeared in the distance, Thorin had not wept as much as he expected. He missed Bilbo desperately already, to be true, but he carried love and hope back to Erebor for the first time in months, celebrating Bilbo's return to his side more than he mourned his temporary absence. Making joyous plans in his head for when Bilbo would come to Erebor in the spring, Thorin finally fell off to sleep.