Thorin Oakenshield does not smile.
Now there are several very good reasons for that, being as most of Thorin’s life has been filled with tragedy and loss almost beyond the count of grief. And it is a testament to Thorin’s courage and strength of character that he has endured all this and borne the weight of his awesome responsibilities as King of Durin’s Folk with true Dwarven pride and honor. So if his countenance is best described with words like “serious,” “grave” and “grim,” then that is perfectly understandable.
Except that both Fili and Kili can say that their first memory is that of their Uncle’s smile.
Their mother Dis tells them the stories often enough. It’s their mother who tells them about a Thorin the brothers had not known, the elder brother who had delighted in the pranks she and their brother Frerin had played on the Elves when they visited Erebor and covered for them. More often than not, he instigated a few creative pranks of his own. The Thorin then might have been conscious of his responsibilities as Crown Prince but he had not been afraid to laugh.
And then Erebor fell and one by one, they lost their family - Frerin, Father and Grandsire until she and Thorin were all that was left.
Dis remembers that the first time Thorin had ever truly smiled again, after all those long years of grief and pain, was when Fili was born. And then again, when Kili came after him.
The younger Princes of the Line of Durin are best described as merry and still possessed of a certain lightness of heart. If they try to coax their Uncle into giving his all-too-rare smiles with their pranks or by living up to his expectations, then it is an Accomplishment. If they actually get Thorin to laugh, then it is an Accomplishment Worthy of Epic Song.
Fili and Kili only have dim memories of their own Sire, who died defending wife and children from orcs. A dead hero’s memory may be honored by his sons but it is cold comfort. Thorin has been both father and uncle to them for as long as they can remember.
Fili likes to think that when he sees his Uncle give one of his rare smiles, he gets a glimpse of what he had been like before the Dragon and the Fall of Erebor. Kili has a simpler way of putting things.
“Uncle’s smile is a bit like magic,” And he’ll grin himself and it’s definitely an echo of Thorin’s own smile.
Little Frodo Baggins would tend to agree with his new Cousin Kili on that.
When he first met the King Under the Mountain, husband to his Cousin/Uncle Bilbo, he thought that he was scary with his scowl and those eyes that seemed to see through every lie, not that Frodo did that, for he was a good hobbit lad and his Mama taught him that fibbing was a Bad Thing. And he had a rumbling, low, growly sort of voice that definitely told Frodo it would not be a Very Good Idea to have King Thorin angry.
But Cousin… well…. Uncle Bilbo and his Mama had always taught Frodo to look just a bit harder, that things weren’t always as they seemed. And Frodo saw that the King scowled because the people around him asking him to decide on Various Supposedly Important Kingly Things were actually very silly and they fibbed a lot besides. And that the King’s eyes were rather sad and Frodo knew that expression very well, because he had that same look, ever since he lost his Mama and his Da.
And then of course, when Uncle King Thorin finally smiled at Frodo, Frodo could see that he was, in fact, very kind and that he wasn’t always grumpy because he could be just as merry and silly as Fili and Kili. Also, that low, rumbling, growly voice was absolutely perfect when Frodo needed someone to play Smaug and Frodo and his toy Dwarves and Hobbit would come in to save the day. And the best part was that Uncle King Thorin could sing and sing very well indeed and when little Frodo was sung to sleep, he’d have good dreams of the Misty Mountains and the treasures within, waiting to be discovered by a brave little hobbit and his older dwarven siblings.
Frodo thought that the Very Best Thing he could do, since he loved both Uncle Bilbo and Uncle King Thorin very much, was to crawl up into Thorin’s lap at the end of a very long day so that he could give the man a much-needed hug. That always seemed to make Uncle King Thorin less grumpy.
And also, it got him to smile again.
Bilbo Baggins, of course, has a different reaction to describing Thorin’s smile. “Heart-stopping” and “beautiful” are two words that first come to mind, of course, before Bilbo chides himself internally for acting like a lovestruck fool. Then again, that is what he is and happily so and if the Valar, especially Mahal, so wished it, he hoped that he would be a lovestruck fool by Thorin’s side for many more years to come.
These days, he likes to think that he does his utmost to make Thorin happy. There is Bilbo acting as the King’s Consort, both a listening ear and a trusted adviser on affairs of state. There is Bilbo as Thorin’s husband, who will still insist on dragging Thorin into the homey kitchen installed in the Royal Wing, so that they can snatch a few blessed moments of sanity and domestic bliss, happily arguing over what to prepare for dinner. There is Bilbo as Thorin’s lover and of course, lest we traumatize impressionable Dwarves and Hobbitlings, we will leave the rest of that to the incredibly filthy imaginations of the grown-ups.
If Bilbo’s skin, especially the area around his neck, is a bit red due to beard burn and if Thorin carefully hides a lovebite under his collar, if their eyes are sparkling after a particularly restful night and if there is a secret little smile playing on Thorin’s lips that will not go away, even after a visit from the ambassadors of Mirkwood, well, Bilbo will thank everybody not to poke their noses into other people’s private business.
No, Bofur can certainly stop leering and make pointed jokes.
No, Bifur, even if this is in Khuzdul, that suggestion should not be made when there are children present!
All right, so these days, Thorin Oakenshield has found much to smile and laugh about and the people who are nearest and dearest to his heart delight in coaxing those smiles out of him.
And then, there was this exchange:
A sniff. “You heard me perfectly well. I know you’re a Dwarf in your prime and your hearing is certainly undamaged.”
“Thorin Oakenshield, if you have to ask that when you were very much present and …. ahem…. very happy in your participation…”
“That is not what I meant and you know it, my hobbit and I am not as completely ignorant about hobbits as you might think!”
“Well, I really should have told you about my Took fairy ancestor…. it was all Snowlock’s fault, really, for passing this on….” And of course, there is a story, a very good story, about a stalwart Took ancestor, his Fairy Husband, the breaking of curses and evil cat sorcerers. Bilbo loves telling stories and his family actually enjoys hearing them.
So finally, there is a reverent look. “How long?”
A blush. “Six weeks along, I should think. I should say it was that night you sung to me that old Dwarvish story… you know what your voice does to me…. ”
“Uncle Bilbo! Impressionable and easily-traumatized children present!” said an aggrieved Kili.
“But what does Uncle King Thorin’s singing got to do with Uncle Bilbo’s baby?” Frodo wondered aloud.
Fili cuddled his tiny cousin. “We’ll explain it to you when you’re older, little dwobbit.”
At that, Thorin Oakenshield simply, though very carefully, takes his very precious, very pregnant husband into his arms. There is a rather lengthy kiss exchanged, much to the pretended horror of the older nephews and the giggling of the youngest.
And in the end, there is laughter and joy from the King Under the Mountain, who may have found his own happy ending, at long last.
A Very Short Epilogue:
The daughter of the King Under the Mountain and His Consort is born in Winter, with Gandalf the Grey in attendance.
The little one is born with a head of gloriously dark curls and the blue eyes of her Sire. She is absolutely beautiful and while she has made unhappy protests at leaving the safety of her Da’s womb, she was easily contented when her Da cuddled her close and nuzzled her hair.
She manages to bewitch her Papa and her cousin-brothers with her very first glance. Her second ensnares the rest of the Company.
Bilbo wryly notes that Valar help the poor soul that would eventually come for her hand in marriage, which would hopefully not happen until a great many years into the future, if Bilbo himself had anything to say about it.
They name her Belladonna.