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A faraway stare was the first sign, a departing of rational thoughts as the warm fizz of anger would slowly build within the chest of the dwarf. A tempestuous, wild thing it was this anger; a relic of his harsh life in exile that stole away his ability to listen and process words coherently as he was swamped by raw emotion that beat at his ribs like a caged animal and all was lost to the hum that settled in his ears. The king was admittedly mercurial at times, but never angry without just cause, as Bilbo had come to learn in these few years of knowing the dwarf.

The signs would betray him as an unseasoned liar might be caught in a misstep of their fable as the wrong words tripped carelessly from their tongue. In Thorin, such a betrayal showed itself in the flush to his cheeks, the intensity of his hardening stare, the tension in his shoulders, and the locking of his fingers about the armrests of his seat. His jaw too would lock; teeth clenched in an attempt to keep the words he clearly so longed to utter behind his lips and choked back as decorum dictated.

He was king, he could not lash out verbally or otherwise; no matter how his esteemed guests sought to provoke him into doing so.

He would not rise to this bait, to the taunt Thranduil had so brazenly hung before him like a cruel child might goad an irate dog by tugging at its tail. Thorin would not bite this day.

Thranduil had regarded him with cool disdain as the thinly veiled mocking of his bloodline and past transgressions had left his lips.

To their credit, both Tauriel and Legolas had looked rather embarrassed on their lord's behalf; sharing a look between them as they sat beside King Thranduil, it had been a callous thing for him to say.

Thorin breathed heavily, his breath stuttering against the ire he felt still welling like a spring within him. Seeing then that he would gain no reaction from the dwarf, Thranduil had concluded the meeting at an end and swept out of the room with his entourage, appearing for the entire world like a cat in a snit over being denied its favoured plaything.

A soft hiss passed between Thorin's teeth as he breathed out, shoulders starting to relax from their tense posture, and as Bilbo made to stand from his seat beside Thorin he found a hand grasping his wrist; desperate was the grip, but entirely gentle.

Thorin might be prone to anger when dealing with certain elves; but with his kin, his people, allies, and his beloved, he was unfailingly tender.

The dwarf king was stern only when the situation called for it with his subjects. Following the dragon sickness and his subsequent healing and coronation after the Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin had atoned for any wrongdoing and so much more.

More than Bilbo thought was necessary if the hobbit was being honest with himself.


Wasting not a moment, Thorin tugged Bilbo back towards him and then down so that his husband was seated on his lap.

Bilbo let out a breathy 'oomph' as he found himself there, but was entirely willing to remain, making himself more comfortable by straddling Thorin's hips and shuffling closer.

Thorin's actions were not surprising; Bilbo had found that meeting with Thranduil often made his husband more inclined to keep him close. The hand at the nape of his neck was new though, as was the face suddenly buried against it, Thorin inhaling sharply through his nose as he nuzzled Bilbo shamelessly.

Not that anyone else was in the room at present, but still…

"Stay… please," Thorin murmured, voice quiet and thick with emotion. Be it lingering anger or something else entirely, Bilbo could not quite tell with the dwarf's voice muffled thusly.

"Of course I will." Bilbo's tone was indulgent, a hidden smile lacing the words though concern for Thorin's emotional state remained a priority.

"I need to calm myself a little, and you being here gives me great comfort," Thorin confessed as if he needed to bother giving a reason.

"There is no need to explain yourself to me, Thorin. Thranduil was entirely out of line, and you have every right to feel this way."

Feeling he should do more than simply sit as he was, Bilbo reached up and removed Thorin's crown, nimble fingers disentangling the hair that had become caught in the coronet and depositing it on the table. Then, he began combing through Thorin's locks, working dexterously through a few snarls and knots the dwarf had acquired over the course of his busy day.

"You know I dislike feeling-"

"Let's have none of that now." Bilbo's voice was quiet, soothing as he gently hushed and chided his dwarf. "Feeling anger towards Thranduil for such thoughtless comments is nothing like the sickness, darling. If it is, then I must have it too, because I do believe our dear guest could benefit from a swift kick to the shins… I'd happily oblige if you'd let me-"

Thorin huffed a laugh as arms rose to encircle Bilbo's waist, holding him steady on his lap, warm breath tickling Bilbo's ear and stirring his hair.

"You are a wonder, Bilbo."

The shuffle of soft booted feet on stone alerted Bilbo to the fact that Balin had most likely ducked into the room in order to speak with Thorin, had seen the tableau before him, and left as silently as he had entered.

Thorin did not seem to notice, but Bilbo's sensitive hearing caught the sound of the door clicking shut and the murmur of voices beyond; Balin was likely ordering his brother to stand guard so they were not disturbed… he would have to thank the elder dwarf later. Balin was very fond of sweet cherry tarts; a trip to the kitchen would suffice…

Bilbo smiled, nosing at Thorin's hair, fngers combing through long tresses now of their own volition.

"So glad to find that of all my royal duties, sitting in your lap to invoke a calming presence is the one you deem most important."

Lips that were pressed to his neck had curled into a hesitant smile at the teasing ring to Bilbo's tone. "Indeed, your influence alone has prevented many a war." He paused to let lips brush the hollow of Bilbo's throat. "I am perfectly serious, Bilbo. You are a wonder, but not for this alone. Clever and resourceful thing that you are, unwaveringly loyal, kind, able to run this kingdom single handed I should think; a true hero amongst dwarves."

"Oh, hush you! Speaking honeyed words has no effect on me and you know it."

"I beg to differ, I believe they have every effect on you, but rest assured I mean them sincerely. I'm not trying to give you false compliments, amrâlimê."

"Well… good, that's- that's good." Damn and blast, Thorin knew just how to make him weak at the knees didn't he. For all Bilbo Baggins could riddle with a dragon and treat with lords and leaders from other kingdoms as if he had done it all his life; all it took was one small gesture from Thorin to make him feel like a love-struck tween, fumbling for his words.

Quiet reigned for a time, Bilbo continuing to card through Thorin's hair with gentle strokes of his fingers whilst Thorin kept his face pressed to Bilbo's neck, breathing slowly evening out and becoming calm and steady once more.

Bilbo knew not what it was about combing Thorin's hair that the dwarf enjoyed so much; perhaps it made him feel loved and cared for, maybe Thorin simply liked the sensation of someone brushing out his hair, or perhaps it was just a trait shared by all dwarves. Whatever it was, Bilbo revelled in the knowledge that Thorin seemed more relaxed when Bilbo did this for him than at any other time.

Letting the pads of his fingers massage gently against Thorin's scalp, Bilbo suppressed a soft chuckle when Thorin's head tilted to lean into the touch… not unlike a cat, the hobbit thought.

Bilbo carefully leaned back, letting his hands guide Thorin's head back so he no longer had his face buried in the crook of his neck and Bilbo could see his expression. Gone was the anger from before, replaced instead by a blissful expression of serene joy. His eyes closed to waxing slits, the blue of Thorin's irises were barely noticeable and he hummed happily as Bilbo gently tugged one of his braids to try and gain his attention… daft thing.

"You are a wonder too you know." Bilbo began, continuing their earlier conversation.

His hands had moved to cradle Thorin's cheeks and the dwarf blinked slowly up at him, the barest hint of white teeth flashing in his dark beard as he grinned up at his hobbit.

"You have far more patience than I do… I cannot tell you how close I have come to giving that sorry sod a piece of my mind- ah but..." Bilbo cleared his throat and continued in a softer tone, not wishing to remind Thorin of the upsetting words that had made him angry before. "You are also noble and honourable, a far better king than any I have ever read about-"

"I daresay you are biased, âzyungâl."

"No, I truly mean it. You have done so much, Thorin, so much for your people. You are brave and daring, whilst still as sweet as any person I've ever met… more so even."

"I'm not entirely certain 'sweet' is a word dwarves would aspire to be described as," Thorin jested, but his voice was pleased, full of delight and the smallest amount of pride which Bilbo was always elated to hear.

"Well, this one is," Bilbo affirmed stoutly and Thorin chuckled, eyes crinkling at the corners as he regarded his husband with open adoration.

"Then who am I to argue against it when you say it with such conviction." The king relented and made as if to tuck his face against Bilbo's neck again, only to be stopped.

"Thorin, I am perfectly serious you know… you are a wonderful person and a good king; fair and just and nothing, nothing like Thranduil insinuated."

To lend strength to his words, Bilbo took that moment to swoop in and capture Thorin's lips in a firm but loving kiss. And if there were any doubts left in the dwarf; they were chased away by the smile pressed against his and the fingers tracing his jaw, the line of his neck, and then down his chest that set sparks of pleasure in their wake.

Thorin broke the kiss and grinned, wide and playful. "I still maintain that you are entirely biased."

"Do you really need more proof, or are you just teasing, Thorin?" Bilbo huffed looking rather put out that his demonstrative nature may have been for naught.

"Which answer will gain me more kisses?"

Bilbo laughed, tugging on his braids again to pull Thorin close. "You are impossible."

"Ah, so much for brave and daring and all of that-"

Bilbo silenced him with another kiss.