In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it so sit down on or to eat. It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.
In this particular hole, with a bottle-green entrance door lived a single hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. He had been born and raised in this smial, and had inherited it after the unfortunate death of both of his parents. Being a single hobbit with such a big smial and rather well off, many a suitor had come to present himself to the hobbit that had only a short time ago come into adulthood, only to be refused by a shake of the curly haired individual. It took some time, but the suitors lessened and finally stopped coming at all.
By then Bilbo had a reputation of a well off bachelor, that didn't seem to have any intent in forming a family. Some unsavory characters whispered that such a large smial should have fauntlings running through it. That it was a waste for one hobbit alone, with no care for forming a family. But neither Bilbo, nor his grandfather Gerontius Took the Thain were bothering with those people. And despite their mutterings there was nothing to be done. Bag End belonged to him after all.
The real reason why Bilbo refused his suitors was his dream. He wanted to find the love of his life, just like his parents had found each other. It was just his unfortunate luck that said soulmate was not to be found anywhere in Hobbiton, Tuckborough or in the lands of the Michel Delving. He had even visited the river-folk, near the Brandywine river.
Bilbo had looked, went to parties and danced with pretty much everyone to no avail.
Never had Yavanna started to whisper in his ear. His parent's had told him how they had met and both recognized each other by the song they could hear, like a whisper in the wind. A song about their mate, said to be the whisper of Yavanna herself to tell of their past, present and future.
Bungo had described how he had listened to Belladonna's song, speaking of lands, far away, of rivers and elvish cities. Of a girl that loved to see the world but would be always be tempted back to her home. That's when he had decided that he would make her the most beautiful home to return to.
Belladonna had listened to the sweet voice whispering of a safe haven, of love and life and happiness aplenty. Of home and heart. Of books detailing adventures of his wife, of patience and devotion.
Stubbornly she had resisted. A home was well and truly nice, but she wanted adventure!
And he let her go. And when she came back after the first adventure with Gandalf, he had started to build a home. He smiled and welcomed her with open arms, a quill behind his ear and a book under his arm. And after she had refreshed herself, he asked her about her time away, noting it down in his little book with a serious face and a spark in his eyes.
After that she had fallen, and fallen hard.
For Bilbo, there was silence. Especially after the death of his parents, first his father and after eight years his mother. His smial had an empty feel now, no matter how many books he dragged into his home, or how his pantry was sometimes filled to burst. No matter how many guests came over, at the end of the day there was silence. No song or content humming or another person to share everything with. Silence. But Bilbo... well, he got used to it, slowly.
Someone else would have given up on that dream, after searching for so long. But Bilbo was as stubborn as his mother and as devoted as his father. He waited. And waited. And waited some more.
It's not like he had much hope to find his soulmate after all this time, with him now being 50 years old, he had settled into his life rather well. He enjoyed his evenings in his armchairs, the warm fire in the hearth in winter. On sunny days he loved to sit outside his smial to smoke his pipe. It was comfortable. And if it was a little lonely at times, he could count on his neighbors for a nice chat over tea in the afternoon. He was content in his peaceful existence.
So how had it come to this, with twelve rowdy dwarrows invading his home, plundering his pantry, without so much as a by your leave and seemingly set on destroying everything in their path, never mind the hobbit that was a little too scared to step in their way for fear of simply being mowed over.
It started with one dwarf, which had been bad enough. With a scary frown on his face and weapons strapped to his back, big enough that Bilbo was sure he couldn't even lift one of them, the dwarf introduced himself to the shell-shocked hobbit. Bilbo barely even remembered to pull his nightgown close!
“Dwalin. At your service.” And then he had ambled right in, past a wide-eyed stunned Bilbo, as if he owned the place. The nerve!
“Bilbo Baggins... at yours...?” he had went to the door, intent on telling whoever came calling this late off. He had not expected a dwarf. It threw him off his game. He was... he was not too intimidated to block Dwalin's path. He was not. It was simple curiosity that kept him from throwing the stranger out.
“D-do we know each other?” Bilbo was hesitant to provoke the clearly insane being. Which was sensible and polite. Because Bilbo was not intimidated. Not in his own home. Surely he had gotten lost and needed help. Or had mistaken Bilbo for someone else. Bilbo would point his mistake out – politely mind you – and send the dwarf on his way. Yes.
“No.” it sounded like Dwalin thought Bilbo was stupid for even asking, but who wouldn't when a stranger just pushed his way into your home?
“Which way, laddie?” Looking around, the dwarf's eyes settled on Bilbo once more “Is it down here?”
“I-is … is what down where?” he watches as Dwalin roughly put his things down and suddenly has his arms full too. Staggering under the sudden weight he almost lost his balance completely and only the wall behind him saved him from landing on his bum as he watched open mouthed as the dwarf settled down to eat the dinner Bilbo had prepared for himself. Still, despite his confusion and the rude behavior, Bilbo was a good host. When Dwalin asked for more, he had calmed down enough to actually serve the clearly hungry dwarf. Better feed him, before he went crazy or something. Keep him in a good mood. And try to get him to tell you what's going on. Better yet. Get him to realize he's at the wrong place!
“Mmmmh. It's just that...” Bilbo hovered next to the dwarf “Uhm... I... I wasn't expecting company.”
Of course the bell had to ring in exactly this moment. Feeling torn Bilbo looked between his uninvited guest and the door in alarm. What was going on this evening?!
“That will be the door.” Bilbo managed a weak glare at the dwarf for stating the obvious. Since he would not be able to actually throw the burly being out by himself, he opted to get the door instead.
Another dwarf had come.
“Balin, at your service!” the white haired dwarf said with good cheer and an elegant bow. He seemed friendly enough and Bilbo thought he could have surely gotten on well with him. If, you know, he hadn't been standing on his doorstep. Uninvited. Way too late in the evening.
“Good evening.” he managed to greet Balin faintly, his tone desert dry as he fought to keep his composure. Good manners had been drilled into Bilbo from a young age. Still... while he could expect one person to get the wrong place, two was a bit too much of a coincidence. Right now Bilbo was getting a really bad feeling about the happenings in his smial. And this feeling was telling him something, and that was: He was missing information.
“Yes, yes it is!” Balin chanced a look at the night sky. Not many stars could be seen.
“Though I think it may rain later.” Bilbo agreed silently, still feeling overwhelmed and having this ominous, unexplainable gut feeling.
“Am I late?” the dwarf stepped inside too and grabbed Bilbo's hands kindly and with an earnest look.
“Late... for what?” He was missing something here. He was sure he was missing something...
But again, no answer was forthcoming as Balin recognized the other dwarf in his smial and they seemed to enter their own world, completely ignoring Bilbo's existence.
“Uh, excuse me... sorry, I hate to interrupt...” seeing them bang their heads Bilbo stumbled over his words “ah... ahem. Yes. B-but the thing is... I'm not entirely sure you're in the right house.” he was also not sure they weren't. Not anymore. One dwarf getting lost and finding his smial? Fine. Another one doing the same?
His voice didn't even seem to register, so he followed them into his pantry. His agitation grew as he watched them sample his food and he tried again.
“It's not that I don't like visitors.” really. Really, really! But...
“I... I like visitors as much as the next hobbit, but I do like to know them before they come visiting.” waiting a second he hoped to get a reaction.
“It's gone blue...” Balin held up a piece of cheese.
“Riddled with mould.” Dwalin grunted.
Were they inspecting his food?? That was a very nice piece of blue mould cheese, thank you very much! As if he would keep bad food in his pantry! The nerve! The insult!
Wait, did that just fly past him?! The sooner he got them out of his house, the better! No matter what he tried to say, it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Bilbo watched helplessly as the dwarrows rifled though his pantry, feeling completely out of his depth. He had never been put into a situation quite like that. No hobbit would dare to invite himself to another's pantry, picking through it and sampling it and, and... and insulting it and throwing it away! What a waste!
“The thing is... um. I, I don't know either of you.” looking at the cheese on the floor was easier than looking at the dwarrows for the moment “Not. In. The slightest.” he put extra emphasis on it.
He looked back at his... guests and steeled his resolve “I don't mean to be blunt, but I had to speak my mind. I'm sorry.”
Finally. Finally they looked at him. Then Balin gave him a short nod.
Struck speechless he was distracted just a moment later. By the bell. Going off again. Bilbo felt a headache coming.
And they multiplied. The smial went from occupying two dwarrows and a hobbit to four dwarrows and a hobbit. Upon seeing the two new arrivals a sound that was a mix of a finished kettle and a desperate moan escaped Bilbo.
“Fíli.” the blond-haired dwarf intoned.
“And Kíli.” the dark-haired dwarf added, before they both bowed and said together “At your service!”
When they came up again, Kíli's face broke out into a grin.
“You must be Mister Boggins!” Bo-Boggins?! Nevermind.
“Nope! You can't come in.” better cut them off at the door “You came to the wrong house!”
Feeling fed up, he tried to shut the door in their faces, no matter how rude that might be. No more! No more dwarrows! He was already the minority in this house as it is, without 'inviting' more of those rude beings into his dwelling!
A steel-clad shoe stopped his plan and Kíli pressed the door back open. Easily. His eyes were wide.
“What?! Has it been canceled??” he asked while Fíli helpfully added in a hurt-kicked-puppy-way “No one told us.”
Bilbo was... well, honestly a little surprised at the strength with which Kíli had opened the door again, as well as their manner that was so different than that of the other two dwarrows. If Bilbo would have to guess, he would say they were a lot younger too. At least they were not as intimidating. Not that he had been intimidated before. No.
“Canc-? No-” shaking his head a little as if to clear it he cast a befuddled look at them “Nothing's been canceled.” mostly because nothing had been planned to begin with. Well, nothing planned by him at least, Bilbo amended.
“Well, that's a relief” and now they proved themselves to be just like the other dwarrows by entering his smial and throwing their weapons carelessly in Bilbo's fumbling arms.
“Careful with these, I just had 'em sharpened.” nice to know. Bilbo desperately hoped they were all sheathed or else he would soon be missing some limbs and bleeding all over his previously clean – now mud stained – floor.
Bilbo might have been a little petty when he threw the weapons and other stuff down in a corner without any care whatsoever. But then again, he had to stop the dark-haired one from destroying his mother's glory box, so it was their own fault.
And then they came like a literal tidal wave! Rearranging his place to their liking and pulling the food out of his stores. All the while ignoring his protests and only seeming to hear what they liked. Selective hearing, the lot of them!
He felt dizzy just from watching them. Throwing his stuff around (and his mother's beloved china!) and his poor silvery, that his mother had gifted to his father. It was extremely difficult to resist the urge to pull his hair out in frustration. And in the middle of it all? Gandalf.
This was all Gandalf's fault. But every time Bilbo tried to squirm his way to the wizard a dwarf would somehow block his path, or distract him with their antics and before Bilbo could look again Gandalf would have moved to another spot further away, where Bilbo could not reach him quickly and strangle him with his own robe like he deserved.
Maybe Gandalf could feel the murderous intent in the hobbit and that was why they were playing this game of cat and mouse until Bilbo resigned himself to playing host to those invaders. Well, actually it was quite out of his control. They seemed to feel at home enough to simply take whatever they felt like having right now.
Honestly. Would it have been too much to ask first before inviting strangers into his hobbit-hole??
。・゜゜・ ✿ ・゜゜・。
The heavy knocks on his front-door made the whole lot of them freeze. Gandalf's grave voice “He's here.” did nothing but unsettle Bilbo's already frayed nerves even more. With all the activity his smial almost didn't resemble his normally quiet and beautiful home. It was not... bad, but Bilbo was unused to it. He felt ill prepared and honestly bewildered. If Gandalf would kindly explain why dwarrows seemed to think his home was an inn with free ale, it would be much appreciated. Inching to his door he watched as it slowly opened and peered at the individual standing on his steps.
The first he noted was his eyes. A beautiful, unique blue, that almost resembled the clear sky. They were narrowed a little, honing in on the wizard and for that alone, Bilbo liked the dwarf. Gandalf deserved a hard time for all he had put Bilbo through in the last few hou-
Bilbo blinked in shock at the whisper, a female voice clear as a mountain spring, and froze on the spot while staring up at the dwarf standing in his entrance hall now. Black hair, streaked with silver framed a handsome face and some of the bluest eyes Bilbo had ever seen on another person. His attire was different from the other dwarrows in his smial. He wore a deep blue coat, lined with fur that – if you asked Bilbo – looked like it came from a canine like a wolf. It was his bearing though, that drew attention.
...King under the mountain...
At the second whisper Bilbo nearly swallowed his tongue. KING? His soulmate was a king?? Or maybe Yavanna had meant that metaphorical? He did look majestic right now with his regal bearing and everyone seemed to gravitate towards him. Even Bilbo did, a little.
Meanwhile Thorin and Gandalf had their own conversation (how anyone could get lost in the Shire was a mystery, but Bilbo wouldn't judge) while Bilbo was just starting his very own midlife-crisis surrounded by dwarrow-invaders. Thorin's smooth, deep, rumbling voice made a shudder run through Bilbo's body. It was deep and steady, as if the dwarf himself was impersonating a mountain.
Something about a mark on his door caught his attention and finally snapped him out of his stupor.
“Mark? What mark, there is no mark on this door, it was painted just a week ago!” Bilbo's mouth worked on automatic but seeing indeed a mark glowing on his door like some... some...
Well. Yes. There was a mark. Giving Gandalf a reproaching glare he was distracted by his soulmate focusing on him after Gandalf introduced him. The nerve of that wizard! As if he was not able to introduce himself! Then again, Bilbo was a little blindsided... not only by the invasion happening right now, but also at finding his soulmate on his doorstep. What were the chances of that happening?? Pretty damn low, so excuse Bilbo for being a bit stumped that it was happening to him.
Thorin stepped closer and Bilbo had to look up even more. It's not as bad as it would be with a big person, like Gandalf, but Bilbo was unused to it nevertheless. He was almost normal sized for a hobbit, but a little on the taller side. Since you rarely came by strangers in the shire it wasn't something he experienced often. He felt small in comparison to Thorin, but intrigued.
“This is the Hobbit.”
Did Thorin recognize him as his soulmate? Did dwarrows even have soulmates?
“Have you done much fighting?”
Blinking in confusion Bilbo tried to keep Thorin in his sight as the dwarf begun to prowl around him.
“Pardon me?” fighting? In the Shire?
“Axe or sword, as your weapon of choice?”
Ehr... what? Was this some kind of joke? Well, he did have an axe for wood cutting, but somehow he didn't think that's what Thorin meant. Feeling a little indignant he straightened (not that it helped much as he was still smaller than Thorin), raised his chin and adopted an almost haughty tone he normally used on annoying relatives.
“Well, I have some skill at conkers, if you must know.” and there his mouth went, going off by itself again, because Bilbo felt terribly confused by what was happening around him, that he fell into his usual habits. Needless to say that this was not how he had imagined meeting his soulmate.
“Though I fail to see how that's relevant.”
“Thought as much.” Thorin said, crossing his arms and... was that amused disdain in his gaze??
“He looks more like a grocer than a burglar.”
And his soulmate had just called him a grocer. Bemused Bilbo kept to his spot and tried to let his thoughts catch up with his actions, while the dwarrows headed back into the sitting room and decimate what little had survived from his pantry.
What just happened?
The next events were enough to make Bilbo think he had only dreamed about it. Listening to Thorin and Gandalf explain the quest, as well as Bofur's helpful comments about what would lie in wait at the end of it, as well as realizing just what part had been intended for him to play...
“Funeral arrangements?” Bilbo had voiced, already feeling faint. And the terms of that contract. Cash on delivery? Well, right. Only problem being the dragon sitting on it.
The words lacerations, evisceration and lastly incineration had made his head swim. And Bofur's cheerful “Think 'furnace with wings'” was practically the last straw. Of course he continued on, oblivious to Bilbo's distress.
“Flash of light, searing pain, then poof! You're nothing more than a pile of ash.” Bilbo lifted a finger, the world already spinning and hoping he could stop Bofur's word's with that single gesture. He opened his mouth and tried to say something, closed it and opened it again for another try.
“Nope.” was all that came out and he didn't even get to hear Gandalf's sarcastic sounding “Oh, very helpful, Bofur!” as he hit the floor. Well, who could blame him for fainting after all that?
And then, regaining conscious and refusing to leave Bag End, he retreated to his bedroom, still feeling out of his depth and completely blindsided. He needed to think! He had to get to terms with what was happening and he couldn't do that surrounded by maniacs and mayhem. No, he was right to deny Gandalf, was right to insist staying at home. He was a Baggins of Bag End. Yes his mother had been a Took. Yes, there might have been a time when he had... wished for an adventure himself, but he had been a child and now? Now he was an adult. He was no warrior, or... or even a burglar. He would become a burden on them, probably rather sooner than later.
Of course that was when his blasted soulmate had to sing. In such a deep and gut tearing voice that it nearly brought tears to Bilbo's eyes. It was as if he could feel the longing himself. The silence afterwards was heavy, and Bilbo kept staring at the ceiling while sleep evaded him. His soulmate... Thorin... his eyelids grew heavy after a time, heavier still. Just before slipping closed another faint whisper of Yavanna teased his mind
...Alas no more shall rule this domain...
It had to be his imagination that it sounded sorrowful... right?