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A Minor Bird

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Thorin's voice echoed through Bilbo's mind hours after Bilbo had left Erebor, somehow walking to the foot of the Lonely Mountain, out of the way, where a small, shallow, cave was.

He had seen it during the battle, when things were mad, but it would give him shelter while he tried to figure out what to do, now that he was no longer welcome with the Family of his Heart.

"You are never to step foot into my kingdom again, Halfling."

And Bilbo, who had fought so hard, and so long, for Thorin’s affection (and trust), had felt his heart shatter at the demand. But, because Bilbo could give nothing else, he had sworn to Thorin Oakenshield, to the King under the Mountain, to the Dwarf who urged him out his door, that Bilbo Baggins would never again step foot in Erebor, leaving once his vow was given.

Now, hidden in the little cave, he carefully opens his Dwarven coat, a gift from Balin (and Dwalin, not that the taciturn warrior would ever admit it) and carefully investigates his injury.

His infected injury, if the heat coming off of it was any indication, caused by a lucky orc blade.

Bilbo knows because, foolish him, he had not taken the gift of mithril mail with him when he left to visit Bard, had not worn it when he delivered the Arkenstone to them.

Bilbo Baggins had left it behind, refusing to take anything more from Thorin than he already had.

He truly was an undersized burglar now wasn't he?

He closed his eyes in emotional turmoil and then gave a shaky, morbid, smile over the heat coming off the injury.

He would never make it to the Shire, not with this type of injury, and he would find no help here, all of the Healing and Food Tents within Erebor proper, where he could not, would not, go.

He considered, for a time, attempting the journey back to the Shire anyway, but he did not wish to die somewhere on the lonely, winding, road. With that realization, he made his choice.

He would die, here, at the foot of the Lonely Mountain, as close to the Family of his Heart as he could get.

And he would do so with no regrets.

An accepting, and morbid, smile spread across his face, even as the rain began to pour down, as if the sky itself mourned his decision, mourned his choice to seek no aid and, instead, just wait for infection, or starvation (or dehydration) to take him.

Bilbo Baggins had no idea that his salvation had, just now, passed through the gates of Erebor.