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Stay With Me

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Bilbo wandered the bloody fields, his vision greatly impaired by the ring he wore on his finger. His surroundings were blurry, and he saw the ghostlike forms of goblins, orcs, elves, dwarves everywhere. The bodies of many fell around him. His feet were drenched in the blood of others and they slipped on the ground as he walked.

Bilbo searched helplessly for Thorin Oakenshield, praying his body still fought on the battlefield somewhere and did not lay on it. They had not parted on good terms. The king hated him now, he was sure. Bilbo's betrayal had been terrible and guilt wracked his mind. The Arkenstone had never been his to give away, and though, it had been perhaps the right choice, the logical one, Bilbo regretted it with all his heart. He had hidden from Thorin for several days, and he knew the dwarves thought he'd abandoned them again for home. But Bilbo refused to leave Thorin's side. The dwarf did not desire his presence near, but still, Bilbo was determined to stay and protect Thorin and the company to the best of his ability. He would do so with the cover of his ring, unseen, and then when the battle ended, he would slip away back to his Shire. He wore the mithril armor that had been gifted to him, wielded his small blade, and prepared for battle.

Bilbo ran quickly across the fields, tripping over rocks and doing his best to dodge weapons from both sides. Arrows flew by his body, and several grazed his arms and legs. He fell to the ground, shaking at the pain of his open wounds, but was far too determined to give up. Occasionally he would slide his sword into the back of an unsuspecting orc, each kill wearing on him. He could feel bones breaking, and flesh tearing as he stabbed the vile creatures. It made him sick and he choked on his own bile. Still he continued, up towards the front lines where he knew Thorin and the rest of their company were fighting.

His eyes caught sight of Kili and Fili, fighting side by side as they almost always did. They were completely surrounded. Fili turned to push his sword through a goblin attacking his brother who was desperately trying to shoot his bow through their enemies. Fili lost sight of his own back and Bilbo knew he would certainly die. He ran towards the dwarves, stumbling over dead bodies, then thrust his blade under a sword headed for Fili. It missed him, instead piercing the skull of a nearby goblin. Bilbo moved quick, slicing down orcs and goblins alike, targeting their knees and toes, whatever he could reach. Fili looked around them in shock. Their enemies were falling to some unknown force.

"Did you see that Kili?" Fili shouted at his brother, and Bilbo hurried to pull his blade from a body on the ground. The two dwarves watched in awe as a blade moved on its own then disappeared.

"Was it…was it him?" Kili shouted in surprise, then quickly turned to fight off another pack of orcs. Fili returned his attention to the battle as well, but he could see tiny footprints moving through the mud and blood covered ground away and towards the other dwarves. Fili looked on in shock and thrust his sword hard into an enemy. He knew they'd been saved just now, by whom, he couldn't say for sure. But those footprints looked very much like the size of a hobbit's. A hobbit he hadn't seen in many days now.

Bilbo knew the brothers had the upper hand now so he moved on, still looking intently for a specific dwarf. He could see Gloin spinning his axes into his foes. And there was Dwalin, roaring and yelling in Khuzdul. Ori, Dori, and Nori were fighting together, the two older protecting the younger. He ran on, passing Oin who knocked a foe hard to the ground with his staff.

Bilbo tripped over the body of an elf, his head and hands falling into mud. He gasped in pain and pushed his fingers into the thick mess on the ground, gaining his balance and rising again. Then he felt a searing pain in his shoulder blade. That one hadn't been a graze. Bilbo faltered, but maintained his grasp on his sword. He swallowed hard then continued moving.

He could see Balin, and knew that Thorin must be near. Slowly he sidestepped blades and arrows alike. A body knocked into him and he pushed it away hard. His vision was blotchy and he blinked several times to clear it. Then he saw him, atop a rock, holding Orcrist, a violent blue emanating from it. Thorin Oakenshield looked powerful as he sliced down orc after orc with his blades. His hair was dirt ridden and his eyes ablaze with a fire Bilbo had never seen the likes of. His heart skipped a beat and he gasped. This was a king.

Bilbo wasted no time, he was moving towards the dwarf, fighting through his pain. Then he tackled an orc approaching from behind. Bilbo thrust his blade down into its body, cringing at the feeling, and this time he did retch. But soon he was pulling back on his sword and turning again. And he saw another orc as it approached the dwarf from his side. No! Bilbo screamed in his head, he would not let harm come to Thorin! And Bilbo knew in that moment he would never love another as he did this dwarf. He charged, rushing forward even as his feet struggled to keep a grip on the slippery ground. Thorin was turning, but both his blades were still stuck within bodies, and Bilbo saw his eyes widen in realisation. The king knew he was about to fall. Bilbo yelled, and thrust his sword up into the side of the orc, pushing his small body between it and the dwarf. Thorin stumbled to the side in surprise, knocking several enemies away.

Bilbo had made it in time and he smiled, but then choked. He felt…pain, terrible pain, and when he looked down he saw the hilt of a blade protruding from his abdomen. Bilbo stood in shock, his hands shaking around his sword then he let it go and grabbed at the blade in his body.

Thorin had cleared the remaining orcs around them away, his swords back in his hands as he gaped at the sight beside him. A small blade hung from the side of the orc he was sure would have killed him and the orc's blade was half visible and dripping with blood, seemingly floating in midair. He glanced up again at the tiny sword and recognized it immediately. The hobbit was here? Then realisation hit, and he looked back at the blood dripping from nothing with dread.

"No! It cannot be," he spoke, his voice barely audible in the battle. His hand reached out to touch beside him, and it pressed up against loose cloth. He stood frozen in shock. Someone was yelling beside him.

"The eagles are coming! The eagles are coming!" They cried, but Thorin could not look, his eyes were ensnared on the blood dripping before him. It was impossible. The hobbit had abandoned them for home, unsurprisingly after the harsh words the dwarf had spoken to him. Thorin reeled back as the invisible body collapsed into him. Bilbo's arm fell away from the sword to hang limply at his side, and the ring slipped off his finger. It fell without a sound to the ground, forgotten, and the hobbit appeared suddenly in front of the dwarf.

Thorin dropped his swords and gripped the Halfling by his arms. Bilbo was pale and shaking and blood dripped from his mouth and many places on his body. There was an arrow protruding from his upper back. Thorin caught the hobbit as his legs gave out to fall to the dirt beneath him. The dwarf lowered him gently and he looked aghast at the blade still within the hobbit's body. He gripped the hilt and pulled hard, drawing it from the flesh. Bilbo screamed with pain and then breathed in trembling gasps of air. Thorin pressed his hand to the wound, blood pulsing around it. He could not speak, his eyebrows clenched together in disbelief and he looked into the hobbit's fading eyes. Then Thorin twisted the arrow from his shoulder, and Bilbo wailed and whimpered. When he had calmed slightly, the hobbit's eyes looked upon the dwarf.

"Thorin," Bilbo whispered gently, and the dwarf watched him intently.

"I'm s-sorry," he struggled to finish, his eyes falling closed in pain. He was gasping for air and Thorin watched as a small sad smile appeared on the hobbit's face. Thorin felt wet tears overflow from his eyes and he shook his head in astonishment. Bofur was at his side, confused by the sight of the hobbit, though he took it in quickly then began yelling around. He was pointing and Thorin managed to tear his eyes from Bilbo's face just long enough to see the powerful silhouette of a bear coming at them. Beorn. Thorin looked up to the sky and saw the eagles. They were attacking and warding off the orcs and goblins. Others were around them talking, arguing, and Thorin's eyes travelled lost to Dwalin and an elf engaged in a battle of wits. Everything seemed so far away.

"Enough! This is no time for fighting! Our battle here is finished," Balin's voice penetrated them all. Then he focused on Thorin his voice awakening him from his daze.

"Beorn will take you to Thranduil, he is the only one that can help us now," Balin finished, looking pointedly at the dwarf king. Thorin could not find it in his mind to care about elves, battle, or anything. He just lifted the hobbit and carried him to Beorn. The two mounted his back and the great bear took off in a hurry, leaving the rest of the company behind to catch up. Thorin gripped the fur on Beorn's back and held the hobbit tight to his chest. How many times had this creature in his arms saved his life, and the lives of his comrades? And how had he repaid him? By casting him away, as though he were nothing of importance. He was so very angry. He was angry at the orcs for existing and at the elves for their betrayal. He was angry at Gandalf for making the hobbit come on this cursed journey. Mostly though, he was angry at himself, for his lust for gold, and the greed that had consumed him and caused this battle to start. And he was angry at himself for turning the hobbit away. He looked down at the courageous being in his arms. How could he ever have doubted this hobbit? Bilbo's breathing was coming in quick short wheezes and his lips were trembling. Thorin pulled him tighter against his chest.

"Bilbo, please. Stay with me. Do not give up this fight," Thorin breathed into the hobbit's ear. Though he knew his words went unheard. Thorin could see a group of elves approaching. They had their weapons wielded as though unsure what to expect. When Beorn stopped Thorin looked upon them desperately until he saw Thranduil, his crown standing out amongst them. Thorin bellowed to gain the king's attention and their eyes connected with no small amount of hatred. Thorin forgot it immediately when he felt the hobbit shake in his arms.

"Please, Thranduil. I need your help," Thorin pleaded with the elf king. Never in his life had he lowered himself to beg, especially not in front of an elf, especially not this elf. Thranduil gazed at him emotionlessly.

"Let us lay down our swords this day, help this Halfling in my arms," Thorin continued. He hoped the elf could see through their rivalry this one time. Thorin would do anything; even kneel before this elf for help if he must. This life was more important than even their history of hate. Thranduil seemed confused by the request and shocked at the actions of the dwarf. One of his guards spoke to him hurriedly in the language of elves, clearly trying to stop the king. But Thranduil was too intrigued by what would make a dwarf so desperate for his help and he raised his hand to quiet his kin. He looked ready to speak but instead his gaze passed over Thorin to the hobbit in his arms. The elf approached them and tilted his head to look at Bilbo. The hobbit's form held his attention for some moments before Thranduil looked back at Thorin searching his face for something.

"Please," Thorin asked once more, and he knew his eyes were wet with unshed tears, and that his voice cracked with fear. Whatever the elf had been looking for he must have found, for Thranduil turned beckoning Thorin to follow, as he mounted his elk. They travelled to the Elvenking's campsite away from the battlefield and Thranduil dismounted beside a tent and entered it with grace, speaking swiftly to the elves around them. Beorn lowered his body and Thorin slid off, grasping the hobbit beneath his knees and shoulders. The dwarf carried him past many surprised elves, all of whom whispered and bickered around them. The dwarf heard Thranduil speak out to the elves as he entered the tent.

"Boe de nestad," he said, and gestured at Bilbo. The elves gathered around as Thorin lay him gently on the ground, resting his head upon his lap. Bilbo was unconscious now, though his body still trembled, and Thorin brushed wet locks of hair from his face. The Elvenking knelt beside them and began removing the hobbit's garments. He paused at the sight of the mithril vest, touching it lightly, then removed it as well. Bilbo's wounds were still bleeding freely and the other elves focused on healing the smaller ones as Thranduil focused on the wound from the sword. They placed herbs upon his body, and cleaned him, while Thranduil's hands hovered and he whispered in ancient Sindarin.

Thorin stroked Bilbo's face and leant forward to place a kiss on his forehead. He prayed Bilbo would be alright, that he could one day apologize to him. That he could perhaps gain his forgiveness. That he could shower him with kisses and touches, and braid his hair with the most beautiful beads among dwarves. Thorin even prayed that someday he could tell the hobbit how much he loved him. He hoped that he could make love to the beautiful Halfling, and whisper in his ears beautiful words in the night. That he would hear words whispered in return. He was such a fool. He was unworthy of being a king and unworthy of the hobbit's love, love he was sure he would never receive.

"I would give away all my gold; I would give away my home, just to see your eyes open again," Thorin whispered while he kissed Bilbo's brow and nose. He listened to the shaky breaths that came from between cold lips and stroked at the hobbit's ears. The small wounds on Bilbo's body had been tended to by now and the elves all focused their attention on the grievance in the hobbit's abdomen. Thranduil's face was focused as he continued to chant in the language of elves. Suddenly the voices stopped. The room was bathed in absolute silence, and Thorin realised with a fright that he could no longer hear the hobbit's short breaths.

"No," he gasped in shock, pulling back to look at Bilbo's face. He stroked a hand down the hobbit's neck, placing his fingers over his pulse. It was unresponsive.

"No!" He yelled this time, and the elves watched with horror as Thorin collapsed above Bilbo in a fit of sobs. Thorin's hands clenched in the soft folds of fabric beside the hobbit's head and he wept, his tears falling atop Bilbo's brow. Thranduil leant forward, reaching to touch the hobbit's face then ushered one of the elves away to grab something. He brushed his cheek, then his brow, then placed his hands over Bilbo's eyes. When the elf returned, Thranduil grabbed a vial from his hands and placed it at Bilbo's lips. Clear liquid poured down the hobbit's throat, and Thorin watched, his eyes cloudy, as Thranduil began to whisper foreign words once more. Thorin held his breath and clenched his eyebrows together. And then there was a quick gasp. Thorin watched in awe as Bilbo's chest rose once, then twice, until his breathing evened out. Thorin choked out in relief and bowed his head so that his brow rest against the hobbit's.

"Dolzekh menu! Thank you! Thank you!" Thorin chanted. The elves released soft sighs of relief and Thranduil lifted his hand from the hobbit's eyes. He pulled back and continued to make sure Bilbo was stabilized. Thorin lifted his head after some time and looked across at the Elvenking. He nodded, his face serious, and Thranduil slowly returned the sentiment with a small hint of a smile. In that moment the dwarf gained a newfound respect for the elves. Today they had done him a great service. He would never forget their abandonment of his kin, but it seemed that he could forgive, and perhaps their races could live in peace once more.

It was many days before the hobbit awoke. Thorin watched over Bilbo and moved him to a luxurious room within Erebor. The rest of the dwarves worked to clean up after the battle, tending to wounded and counting the deaths. Somehow all thirteen of their company had survived. Thorin's nephews had described what they saw during the combat, and the dwarf knew the phantom fighter had been one Bilbo Baggins, though his magical ring was long lost on the battlefield amidst bodies and blood. He was in debt to the hobbit, more than he could ever imagine, for saving his nephews' lives, for saving his own life. Regret at his actions continued to haunt him as the days passed.

It was the first calm night since the battle and Thorin sat near Bilbo's bed reading an ancient text. Movement startled him from his book, and he looked up to see the hobbit shifting on the bed. Thorin was at his side in seconds. Bilbo moaned lightly and opened his eyes, squinting at the light. The dwarf quickly blew out several candles leaving the room bathed in only the soft glow of a single flame. The hobbit blinked a few times before he focused on the dwarf's worried eyes.

"Th-Thorin?" he asked surprised, and his voice was scratchy and dry. The dwarf quickly brought him water to soothe his throat then sat gently on the bed beside Bilbo as he drank.

"I'm so glad…you're alright. The others?" Bilbo asked, and Thorin considered him for a moment. So kind was the hobbit, worried only about the wellbeing of others even after nearly dying himself.

"We are all well," Thorin voiced and raised an eyebrow.

"In no small part thanks to you," he finished and lifted a hand to take the glass from Bilbo. The hobbit blushed lightly then looked down, cringing as he tried to sit up. Thorin lifted him gently into a comfortable position then brushed his hand across Bilbo's back. The hobbit glanced at him startled. He fidgeted a little and looked off to the side, as was one of his habits. Thorin smiled gently at him; somehow such a little thing brought him great happiness.

"I…I had meant to disappear…I mean. I was planning to leave after the battle. I know you did not…wish to see me again," Bilbo spoke sadly. At this Thorin's face fell, and his eyes lowered in shame.

"You will do no such thing," Thorin intoned.

"Wh-what?" Bilbo asked, and he looked up at Thorin with confusion. The dwarf looked away thinking over his words.

"What…I mean to say. Is that…I would like, for you to stay. Here, in Erebor," Thorin explained and Bilbo continued to stare at him blankly. Thorin lifted a hand to stroke the side of the hobbit's face and Bilbo flinched from it slightly. The dwarf's eyes saddened.

"I am sorry Bilbo, for all I have said to you. I am sorry for casting you away. I am not…fit to be a king," Thorin struggled to apologize, and brushed stray hairs from Bilbo's eyes. This time the hobbit did not flinch, but Thorin noticed that his eyes were shiny and that his lips shook. Bilbo's voice cracked and a tear rolled from an eye to drip down his face. Thorin rubbed it away with a finger, but more followed.

"I had no r-right, to give away what was yours," Bilbo gasped through his tears, then he lifted his hands to hide his face from the dwarf. Thorin gripped his wrists, pulling them away and he watched Bilbo sob before heaving him into an embrace.

"Hush now, none of this was your fault. I was consumed by greed, so consumed I could not see a war was coming. So blinded I was, I could not even see my greatest treasure was right before my eyes," Thorin admitted.

"What…what do you mean?" Bilbo asked, his eyes wide as he pulled away a bit. In them Thorin saw many things, hope, sorrow, happiness, pain. He searched the hobbit's face, then unable to voice an answer, leant in and pressed his lips against Bilbo's lush and slightly parted ones. Thorin gently kissed him, pressing the hobbit's body against the bed posts behind him. He pulled away just slightly and looked into Bilbo's flushed face.

"Stay with me," he spoke, his voice naught but a whisper, then pressed their lips together again chastely. He ran his tongue across Bilbo's lower lip and pressed a hand into the hairs at the nape of his neck.

"Please, stay with me," He begged, and kissed up the bridge of Bilbo's nose, between his eyebrows, then on his brow. Their lips joined once more in slow, timid kisses, before Bilbo gasped and looked into the dwarf king's eyes to answer.

"I will."