"Master Baggins." Thorin called softly from outside Bilbo's tent.
Bilbo looked up from his copy of 'Pride and Prejudice' upon hearing his name called.
Sighing, Bilbo slipped the bookmark into place and set the book aside. He had been enjoying the tale. Flicking off his camping light, Bilbo left his tent to see what Thorin wanted.
"Look at that, Master Burglar." Thorin said as Bilbo stepped out into the open, "Did you ever see such a sky?"
Bilbo looked up. It was twilight, and sky was painted a glorious orange. He smiled.
"It's beautiful, Thorin." he stated.
"Bilbo, will you walk with me?"
Bilbo cocked his head.
So they went wandering away from the camp where the other Dwarves went about their business, and across over the little hills of the meadow they were camped in, just straying into the trees of a nearby woodland.
"There's something I must discuss with you, Bilbo. Something important." said Thorin
Immediately a suspicion began brewing in Bilbo's mind.
"Yes... I've been wanting to have this conversation with you for a while now."
Bilbo's heart thudded in his chest. This could be good or bad, it was, as yet, impossible to tell.
"There's something wrong with you. Every passing day you are more reserved and saddened than when we first met."
"A-am I?" Bilbo stammered, "I hadn't noticed..."
"I can see through your act, Bilbo. I understand. We can come to some arrangement, the contract can be amended. We would see to it that you're returned home safely."
Bilbo was dumbstruck. Was he effectively being fired? What was this?
"Thorin?" Bilbo muttered before he was interrupted.
"I want you to be here with the Company of course, I want you to share this adventure with us, but I want you to be happy more than that, and if going back will make you happy, then so be it."
"Thorin, listen to me," said Bilbo, "I don't want to go back. Far from it, in fact. I want to be with you all, every step of the way."
The 'all' hung in the air as an unwanted extra.
"I wouldn't go home now if you offered me the world." Bilbo furthered.
Bilbo noticed Thorin's relieved tone when he next spoke.
"But what of the way you've been acting? Something's still wrong with you." said Thorin.
"I have had a lot to think about recently, Thorin. I had things on my mind. Nothing to worry about..." Bilbo sighed.
"Then who is it you miss?"
"Who- who do I...?"
Thorin nodded at Bilbo, who was now deep in thought. Sherlock had been at the front of his mind in the past few days, and fighting for dominance were his feelings for Thorin. Bilbo had found himself stumped. He was miserable to be without Sherlock, but Thorin left him so intrigued, forming thoughts of unfaithfulness in his mind, which left Bilbo feeling sick at himself, only adding to his misery.
"My best friend." said Bilbo, feeling it was too awkward to say 'boyfriend', "He died a long time ago, but I miss him terribly. I'm being stupid I know, but being so far away I suppose I feel like-"
"Like he's going to come back, and you're not there." said Thorin.
Bilbo gave a soft intake of breath in sadness at his gentle comment.
"That's it." he said, "That's exactly it."
Thorin slid his hand onto Bilbo's back.
"Death is a terrible thing, Bilbo. But far more terrible is the pain it leaves behind. It's fine to feel the way you do, you mustn't feel guilty about it, wherever you are in this world. Your friend, he is free now. It's high time you were free too. Don't you realise that?"
"No, no forget that. That was wrong of me to sound so accusing. Forgive me, Bilbo, and forgive me for the manner in which I've treated you this entire journey. I'm a fool of a Dwarf to be so cruel to you, and I pray for your forgiveness. I forget everything since we left the boat has been new and strange for you. I should give you patience."
Bilbo nodded. It had indeed been daunting. After leaving London, the Company had travelled to the coast, where they had met some men, money exchanged hands, and they were taken to a ship, very cloak-and-dagger, and had from there had sailed across the sea to a gulf Bilbo could not remember the name of, and now they where were somewhere in Eriador, in this land of Middle-earth. Apparently it would still be many months before they reached the Lonely Mountain the Dwarves proclaimed.
"Thank you, Thorin." said Bilbo humbly, "For apologising. And thank you for taking me away from that place."
"No," laughed Bilbo, "Not the tent- London. My flat. My old life. I was so unhappy there, so trapped... I- I don't believe I can ever repay you for how much happiness you've brought me."
Thorin stopped walking. He had not expected such a statement. Bilbo wasn't sure, but he was sure he saw a glaze appear over those blue eyes. The Dwarf cleared his throat importantly.
"I- Bilbo, you, I-"
Thorin cleared his throat again, before turning and locking Bilbo in a tight embrace. Astonished at such a show of emotion, it took a second for Bilbo to hug back, but when he did, the two were so in harmony they could have been infinite.
"I could never have hoped for a better burglar- a better person- to be with on this quest." Thorin said quietly, "You've changed me Bilbo, made me a better Dwarf. With you by my side I swear I could conquer anything. I couldn't bear to lose you, not now. I mean not for this to be an excuse, but my aggression to you roots from the fact the you so effortlessly broke down the walls I had built for myself, and made me feel things I never thought I could feel. Perhaps I will regret asking here and now, but, Bilbo Baggins, consider this a formal offer of courtship. I'll give you time to think. Take all the time in the world, but if you agreed, all the gold in Erebor couldn't make me happier."
Thorin let go of him and went back to camp, leaving Bilbo stood awestruck under the darkening sky. He had no words.
Once over the initial shock, Bilbo sat down on the soggy grass, toying with the proposal. He had felt the spark of a connection with Thorin, that was something he could not deny. No. No! Bilbo already had a lover, Sherlock! Sherlock. Sherlock... It had been so long. People told him to let go of the past, but they had been boyfriends. Partners. Surely he could not let go of that. Bilbo missed having love in his life, he missed having connections with people. Sherlock would have wanted him to be happy, that was always true. He wanted happiness and safety for his Bilbo. Surely Sherlock didn't want him to be a lonely widower-of-sorts for the rest of his days? Thorin certainly loved him, and Bilbo could not deny his own affection. The more he thought about it, the more he came to realise that Thorin was the embodiment of everything he needed in life: adventure, security, romance, freedom. Love, he needed love. And Thorin Oakenshield could give it to him. It did not take him long to come to a conclusion after that. After all, what did he have to lose?
Darkness had now completely taken over the sky, night had fallen. Composing himself, Bilbo stood outside the Dwarf-King's tent, choosing his words carefully. Eventually, he spoke up.
"Thorin?" he tried.
Bilbo did as he was asked and went in. Thorin lay on his bed furs, looking somewhat anxious.
"Thorin." said Bilbo, "I've thought long and hard about this, and I- I have decided to accept your offer of courtship."
A daring smile broke out across Thorin's face.
"Get down here." he laughed, dragging Bilbo down to the bed. He hugged him and rested his forehead against Bilbo's.
"Thank you." Thorin growled softly.