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There and Back Again (EV)

Chapter Text

1.The Light Behind Your Eyes

Be strong and hold my hand

Time—it comes for us, you’ll understand

We’ll say goodbye today

And I'm sorry how it ends this way

If you promise not to cry

Then I’ll tell you just what I would say

 

If I could be with you tonight

I would sing you to sleep

Never let them take the light behind your eyes

One day I’ll lose this fight

As we fade in the dark

Just remember you will always burn as bright

(song)

Thorin knew it was the end. He'd fought too much and his body was starting to not respond him. There was only one way to finish the Defiler. Thorin was going to die and he knew it, but not before he took that despicable being that had killed most of his family with him. Thorin moved his sword, knowing that once he stopped resisting, Azog's blade would stab him, thus giving him the chance to kill him. He'd already pictured it so he started to move it, letting out a last sigh.

But it did not stab him.

Somebody had pushed Azog, making him lose his balance and fall to Thorin's left. Only a light touch of steel graced Thorin, leaving a shallow trail on his skin. Thorin tried to sit up, looking for his saviour, expecting his loyal friend Dwalin; but it wasn't him.

'Lat,' barked Azog, looking at Bilbo.

The hobbit had used all of his weight and speed to crash into the pale orc and save Thorin, as a result of which he was a bit dazed. He was still recovering from the hit to his head and was starting to feel dizzy. He saw a white form stand up and come close to him. His body was telling him to run, all of his survival instincts screaming to run away, but he couldn't move. It was as if his head could not order his furry feet to move.

Azog started to stand up, intending to exterminate the creature that had stood twice between the dwarf and himself, but he felt his leg being cut. Screaming in agony he turned to see Oakenshield kneeling, trying with difficulty to deliver the final blow with his blade. Azog stopped it, filled with pain and anger.

'Bilbo, run!' shouted Thorin. And Bilbo tried to do so, but he could only slide a few inches away on the ice platform.

Azog headbutted Thorin, making him step back a few feet, giving the Defiler the time to move and push himself up. Thorin recovered quickly and got up making a wide circular stroke with Orcrist, knocking down Azog again. Taking advantage of the situation Thorin went for his torso dealing blow after blow, getting leverage, until after a few minutes he cleaved open his chest with Orcrist. Azog looked up as if he could not believe that this was happening, as if he still thought he would come out of this, but Thorin threw his body on his sword, driving Orcrist so deep in the orc's body that it punctured the ice, making Azog's blood seep through to the water below and tainting everything black all around them.

Thorin looked Azog straight in the eyes, watching their light dim and feeling a heavy weight lift off his shoulders as life left them. He remained there a few seconds, in a short-lived trance until he remembered Bilbo.

'Bilbo!' cried Thorin, standing up as well as he could and walking towards the hobbit. He knelt at his side, searching for wounds on his body.

'Thorin?' The halfling's voice was weak.

'Yes, Bilbo, it's me,' answered Thorin, looking him in the eyes and seeing them more black than their usual dark blue.

'Thorin.' Slowly raising his hands, Bilbo gently framed Thorin's face. 'Are you alright?'

'I'm alright, Bilbo. Bilbo?'

But Bilbo did not answer. He'd fallen into a dark sleep.

*************

The first thing that Bilbo felt was a strong headache, a piercing pain that ran through his entire body. Then he heard voices. Senseless voices saying things he knew he should understand, but he couldn't. He felt somebody touching him. He felt his arm or leg being moved, he wasn't sure what it was. He felt more pain, this time in every little part of his body and, without knowing why, he opened his eyes. He couldn't focus his sight, there was nothing he could see that was familiar to him. The world span around him, making him feel sick. He wanted to close his eyes again but they didn't obey him. Everything kept spinning, he only wanted the pain piercing his head to stop, the voices to grow quiet and everything to go still.

'Bilbo.'

Bilbo knew that voice. Bilbo had heard that voice many times in the past few months. Bilbo knew that that voice was calling him. He tried to find the owner of that voice but he could only see blurred shapes.

'Bilbo.'

Blue. The first thing Bilbo could see was the colour blue. A blue so pure it was hard to peel his gaze  away from it. He noticed it was not only blue but something else too. Little by little all that was surrounding that blue shaped itself until Bilbo could see a bruised face, covered in fresh but clean wounds, filled with worry. Bilbo knew that face.

'Thorin.' He wanted to say, but he could only open his lips. Even so Thorin took the hint and, taking the halfling's hand between his, he called him again.

***

'He's received a strong blow to his head, he's got a concussion. I don't know yet if there'll be after-effects. We'll have to wait until he wakes up.' Oin's words ran time and time again through Thorin's mind. Thorin, who had tried to protect Bilbo from any harm with the mithril shirt, but had not foreseen to protect his head. Thorin, who knew of the softness of hobbits, of how easily they got hurt.

But Bilbo is stronger than he looks, he told himself.

Bilbo, who had opened his eyes slightly only to fall asleep again shortly afterwards. Thorin had to leave his side as duty called him.

Oin had told him he should rest. He'd received many wounds in battle, some quite painful and some quite deep. His personal physician had not ceased to insist on him needing to rest, but Thorin couldn't rest. He couldn't lie healing, there were simply too many matters he had to tend to, too many things to do.

The first thing he did once he'd left Bilbo under Oin's care, was to look for his nephews. He'd seen Azog bringing Fili to the cliff, decide to kill him in front of his eyes, knowing Thorin could do nothing to prevent it. And so it would have been, had not an arrow stuck itself in Azog making him let go of his nephew. Thorin saw Fili fall, and hurried to seek him but was unable to come to his side. Orcs had come to the lake and were about to attack both Fili and Kili, they had to run away looking for better ground to fight them. Thorin had fought two before Dwalin saved him by killing the one at his back.

'I'll go with the kids, get back to Bilbo.'

'Thorin, there're too many. You alone won't be able to fight them all,' said Dwalin, not wanting to leave his friend and king unprotected.

'I'll manage. Get back to Bilbo. Protect him.' Thorin didn't voice it as an order. He'd never ordered Dwalin about, not while being himself at least, but Dwalin knew perfectly the difference between a suggestion and an order. Dwalin had never forgotten that, above being his best friend, Thorin was his king. If Thorin asked him to protect the halfling, he would do so.

Dwalin nodded and put his hand on Thorin's shoulder as a farewell gesture. Thorin returned the gesture and turned back, knowing Bilbo would be safe.

Almost a day had passed since then, but Thorin had not stopped thanking Mahal every second since he'd found his nephews alive.

Fili had broken his leg and five ribs, he'd almost lost an eye too but he was alive and stable. Kili had been the one to get the worse out of it. A long and sharp object had driven itself in the boy's left shoulder, almost all the way through it. Luckily it had not killed him. He was asleep, sleep induced by Oin so the pain could not get him while they tried to salvage what was left of his shoulder.

When they'd brought Kili in, a female elf was with him. At first she wasn't allowed to approach the Mountain, but Fili insisted she had to be there, and thanks to the Crown Prince's insistence there she was. Thanks to her, Kili had not died nor lost more blood than he already had. But that Thorin didn't know, Thorin didn't know said elf of coppery hair had saved his nephew from dying not once but twice. Thorin didn't know he had a life debt to this elf, so Thorin did as any other dwarf would have done upon seeing a woodelf near a loved one (the same elf responsible for their incarceration in Mirkwood). He threw a dagger at her to try to keep her away from his nephew's body.

It wasn't until some time later, after much asking from a convalescent Fili, that Thorin relaxed a bit, allowing the presence of the elf if she would not leave the room without his consent. He wouldn't allow one of Thranduil's elves to wander around the Halls of his ancestors. They may have been allies due to the circumstances, but Thorin would never trust Thranduil. This elf was in his Kingdom, so she would follow his orders. He'd trust Fili, seeing as he owed him that and much more, but all things had a limit.

The next thing he did, once he knew of the losses and after asking Balin to organize the Mountain so all dwarves could seek refuge in it, was take a goat and ride to Dale. He had to talk to Bard. There was much forgiveness he had to ask for and Thorin preferred to be done with that as soon as possible.

'Who's there?' asked a bearded, grey haired man.

'Thorin, son of Thrain. I've come to talk to Bard,' said Thorin, entering the city, not waiting to be invited. Dwalin rode beside him like a shadow.

The man was going to say something else, something unfriendly judging by his face, but he couldn't, as the Dragon Slayer himself appeared in front of him.

'Thorin, son of Thrain. I'm glad to see you are alive,' said Bard meeting them. 'To what do we owe your visit?'

'There are matters that need to be dealt with,' said Thorin dismounting. ' Matters that should be cleared up as soon as possible.'

Bard knew what he was referring to, and after a few seconds, signaled him to follow. Thorin did so.

 

TBC...

Chapter Text

Things we lost to the flames

Things we'll never see again

All that we've amassed

Sits before us, shattered into ash

These are the things, the things we lost

The things we lost in the fire fire fire

These are the things, the things we lost

The things we lost in the fire fire fire

Bard let Thorin enter the modest room where he'd set up his study, as there were many those who sought his advice and at the end of the battle he'd realized that he would have to be the new leader of the men and women from the ruined Laketown.

'I shall give you all that was promised,' said Thorin, standing in the middle of the room and inspecting it. 'All of it in coins, if you so desire you may ask for a tenth of it in precious stones. But I cannot offer you more than said tenth in gems.'

'What heeds this change of mind?' asked Bard, curious. He didn't know why but a part of him had always trusted the dwarf before him. He knew he would bring death and ruin, his arrival in the lands of his ancestors could only foretell disgrace, but something in Thorin Oakenshield made Bard respect and trust him.

'I had imagined that the wizard would have informed you about it,' answered Thorin, looking him straight in the eye for the first time.

'There are many things that the wizard hasn't informed us about' said Bard, gesturing to a chair and sitting himself on another. Thorin huffed at that, as it didn't surprise him in the slightest.

'When you spoke about my grandfather's greed you were wrong. It is not greed but a sickness that lays upon that treasure. A sickness that has accompanied my family for generations. A sickness of the mind that clouds reason and makes gold appear the most important thing there is.'

Bard noticed it was not a subject that Thorin liked to dwell on, especially not with him. He knew he was being trusted with something that he shouldn't share. He noticed how Thorin was treating him as the closest to an equal that a dwarf could consider somebody from a different race. Bard was an intelligent man and saw all that in the words and gestures of the king.

'It was that sickness that made the tables turn.' Bard didn't want to say that it had made the king betray his word, as he didn't want to make an enemy of Thorin, least of all when he'd come to make peace.

Thorin nodded. 'Us dwarves value honour greatly. I made a promise and, even though it is true what I said at the doors of Erebor and I think that without said promise you would not have aided us, it was still a promise. One I must fulfill.'

'I appreciate it. But I don't seek more than what is necessary for us to rebuild our lives. Winter is close and I don't think we'll have enough time to rebuild Laketown.' Bard was worried about it and he didn't really know what made him share his worries with Thorin, as if he was looking for advice in the dwarf that up until a few hours before had tried to kill him for a handful of gold coins.

'We shall talk about it later, there are other matters I must tend to. But if I were in your place I would leave the life of a boatman on the water and I would take the role that I deserved by birth and by deed.'

'And what would that be? If I may ask.'

'Lord of Dale,' were Thorin's last words before leaving the room.

***

Dwalin was awaiting him by the door, frowning upon any man that dared to come close. When Thorin came out, Dwalin followed. It was not until they'd left the town, until they found themselves in the vast planes between the two towns, when Thorin halted his goat.

'Is somethin' wrong?' asked Dwalin doing the same.

But he got no answer from his friend. He saw Thorin dismount and did the same. He stood at his side, waiting for an explanation.

'Why are you still at my side?' asked Thorin quietly. Dwalin looked at him, surprised. He'd never noticed the change in his king, but it was evident now. Thorin had always built walls between him and the others, one he used to fill his duties as a leader, to guide his people and be the king they all wanted and needed him to be. But Dwalin was one of the few who Thorin allowed to see past those walls.

The dwarf king looked toward the horizon, searching for the right words. Dwalin was his best friend, his most loyal companion and Thorin couldn't stand by his side for even a minute without feeling ashamed. From the moment the sickness had vanished from his mind everything became clearer, it was as if he'd been wearing a blindfold that only allowed him to see through a tiny hole in it. But with that clarity had also come realisation. Realisation of everything he'd said and done, especially of what he'd said to Dwalin while on the throne, the words he'd directed toward his loyal friend. There were many matters that needed Thorin's attention after the battle, and there hadn't been time to ask forgiveness for everything that he'd done, but he knew he couldn't let a minute pass without asking Dwalin for forgiveness. Dwalin, who'd always been his support, who'd always been there. Dwalin, who he'd sworn to kill if he ever saw him again.

'Why shouldn' I be?' asked Dwalin, knowing well where the conversation was going.

'What I said to you before, in the Throne room...' Thorin couldn't finish the sentence, as Dwalin had grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him to be directly before him.

'That wasnae ya.' Dwalin's voice was firm but kind.

'Yes it was.' Thorin looked him in the eye for the first time, and Dwalin saw in them the shame he felt in doing so.

'Thorin. I ain't good at this, nor're ye. We're not dwarves o' pretty words 'n elaborate apologies. Ye don' have to ask me for forgiveness. I know ye feel it, just as I know that wasnae ye who said that to me.'

'Dwalin...'

'Shut up 'n listen, we're only gonna 'ave this talk once.' And for once Thorin did so. 'Ye shouldnae feel guilty for lettin' a sickness overpower ya. Ya should feel proud o' beating it. It's true your actions weren't the best, but all's well thanks to designs outta our un'erstanding. Ye don't have to ask for forgiveness, there's nothin' to forgive. I'll be always at yer side, as ye've been at mine, cousin.'

Thorin's eyes filled with love and gratitude. People used to forget Dwalin was born to be a Lord of Erebor, under his rude appearance and rough gestures.

'Mahal blessed me with friends like you,' said Thorin, pressing his forehead to Dwalin's.

After a few seconds they separated. They mounted their goats and rode back to Erebor at a brisk pace. Thorin had a lot to do and many forgivenesses to seek. His nephews worried him, although he knew they'd survive. The halfling's state unsettled him. Bilbo, who'd been loyal to him at all times, who had done what no one else had dared to do. Bilbo, the sweet creature he'd taken to a war that didn't concern him and who he'd almost killed with his own bare hands. Thorin felt the pain that weighed his chest since he'd become conscious of what he'd done to Bilbo grow, making it difficult to breathe.

They were about to reach Erebor and Thorin had many matters to tend to before he could permit himself the luxury of visiting Bilbo, to check if he was awake and sound and kneel before him to apologize. He was no longer a king in name, all his people depended on him. His obligations had grown and, even though part of him should feel happy to be doing what was necessary to rebuild the home of his people and to occupy the place that was legitimately his, a big part of him only wanted to leave all that behind and go to watch over the sleeping Bilbo, hoping to be there when he woke up. Being the first person he saw when he did so.

Chapter Text

There's something sweet and almost kind

But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined

And now he's dear and so unsure

I wonder why I didn't see it there before

Bilbo couldn't tell when the exact moment was he'd started to see Thorin in a different light. He'd known of his tragic past thanks to Balin but he imagined there was much more that the ancient dwarf hadn't told. Their leader's eyes were far too sad, with too much pain, and something in Bilbo wanted to change it into something merrier. Someone who was always so angry must have some motives to be so, or so thought Bilbo.

It wasn't until some days later, after the embrace they shared and when they found themselves protected in Beorn's grounds, when Bilbo noticed that something had changed in the way he saw Thorin. Bilbo remembered the embrace and, not knowing well why, his cheeks reddened. He was alone, enjoying the flowers of the skinchanger's gardens, when he started to remember all the moments he'd shared with Thorin; there weren't many but he'd unknowingly treasured them. He'd never felt that way before in his life, so he identified his growing feelings towards Thorin as friendship grown from strong respect. Who wouldn't feel respect and admiration for Thorin? It couldn't be anything else.

***

'Does it hurt?' asked Bilbo, standing beside Thorin.

The Dwarf Prince looked surprised at the hobbit, as he'd not heard him come. His features sombred quickly.

'Dwarves are strong creatures, Master Baggins. We can endure injury better than other races.' His tone was serious, as always, but it lacked the accustomed scorn that he used when talking to him.

'I don't doubt it. But that does not mean that it doesn't hurt. It was quite a blow,' answered Bilbo, sitting by the dwarf without waiting to be invited. He'd spent enough time among dwarves to know they lacked all manners. 'And that warg was enormous.'

Thorin looked at the hobbit but said nothing. A few seconds later he looked again at the horizon.

'I understand that you cannot say that it hurts with the others around. I mean, I don't really understand it but I can see the reason why you cannot do it, being their leader and supposedly not being allowed to show weaknesses and such, or that is what the leaders in my books did. To be honest, I know very little of how people like you should behave.'

'People like me?' asked Thorin, who had remained silent during Bilbo's speech.

'You know, heir princes exiled from their kingdoms and doomed to wander the earth seeking a place where their people could start again.' Bilbo looked at Thorin as if searching confirmation but he only found surprise in his fair eyes. 'Is that not the way it is? So Balin told me.'

'So it is,' affirmed Thorin.

'That's it. I understand that you have to maintain that attitude of "nothing hurts me, for I am made of stone" in front of the others, because I guess they see you as their king and such, but there is no need for you to be like that in front of me. I'm just a simple hobbit and I know that my company is of little meaning compared to that of your people, but if you want, I can be there for you. ' Bilbo had been reddening as he said this. He did not know how he had managed to carry out his speech. He had only wanted to approach the dwarf and ask about his health, as he had noticed it cost him a little to move and Bilbo just wanted to help. Unknowingly, he had gotten himself into a maze from which he was not sure how to get out. And Thorin sat there, saying nothing, his face a mask. Bilbo snorted, he did not know why he bothered. Thorin had done nothing to show that what had happened on the top of the rock had been more than a sporadic display of affection.

'I'm sorry. It's clear that I'm only bothering you. I had better go,' he said standing up, but Thorin stopped him, gently taking his arm. His hands seem so big and made to destroy, but they touch me with so much care, was Bilbo's quick thought before he let it go and listened to the prince.

'You're right,' said Thorin and Bilbo sat back down beside him. 'I'm not used to showing how I feel. I cannot afford it. Hundreds of dwarves depend on me. I know that for you we must be nothing more than a dozen dwarves with a crazy leader willing the impossible, but my people await me in Ered Luin and I can not disappoint them.'

Bilbo said nothing, but looked at Thorin begging him to keep talking and, for some strange reason, Thorin did.

'What do you know of royalty?' asked Thorin. Changing the subject from Bilbo's point of view.

'Only what I read in books.'

'Do you not have royalty in the Shire?' Thorin's question was sincere, like his interest.

'No, good heavens, no. We have mayors and sheriffs and a council, that takes care of the important things that nobody wants to tend to, such as the collection and distribution of taxes, or organizing a fair or a party, but little else. We are simple folk with simple lives. We do not need kings or great leaders as little or nothing happens in the region. I know that the most fuss we've had in twenty years was when Cornelia Brandybuck's wedding coincided with the daisy fair. Sweet Yavanna! The commotion that ensued ... But I have come to interrupt you with matters that do not interest you. Please do continue.'

'It interests me.'

'Oh, yes?' said Bilbo, surprised. 'If you want, another day I'll tell you more. If I'm not mistaken you were the one telling.'

Thorin nodded as if sealing a deal. They spent a few seconds in silence, listening to the wind batter the branches of the trees and enjoying the momentary peace, when Thorin decided to speak again.

'The dwarves have always had kings. Mahal the Maker created them. When he created the dwarves he created the seven parents who would be the seven leaders of the people. The first he made was Durin the Deathless, my ancestor.' Thorin said these words solemnly but automatically, as if they had been memorized and would have had to be repeated several times. 'It's a long story, if you're interested I can tell it at another time.'

'I'd love that,' Bilbo said, because it was true. He had always been fascinated by stories and knew enough of Elves and Men, but not of dwarves. He would never have imagined them to be such a fascinating people, and if it were not for Thorin he would have never known.

'What I wanted to say, Master Baggins, is that the dwarves have always had kings, great lords or leaders of their people, that is the way that Mahal created us. My duty is to look after and see my people prosper. I have to be a figure they see as someone they can trust, someone invincible, someone whose hands they know they can put their lives in, thus I'll see that they lack nothing.'

'But that's quite unfair.' Bilbo, who, if he had known better, would have realized that he should have remained quiet, but who after every passing day grew a little more Took, said. 'You're nothing but a dwarf. They can not expect you to be almost a god.'

'It is my duty,' Thorin said without getting angry at Bilbo's words.

'But you're always so alone.' There was sorrow in Bilbo's words. He could not imagine what it was like, being Thorin. He had never realised the importance of the role that the dwarf had to fulfill, but now, thanks to the words of the prince, he was beginning to understand why Thorin was the way he was.

***

She glanced this way, I thought I saw

And when we touched she did not shudder at my paw

No it can't be, I'll just ignore

But then she's never looked at me that way before

'But you're always so alone.' Those words echoed in Thorin's mind.

The halfling was right. He had always been alone. Since he was born he had led a lonely life, preparing almost from the cradle to be the king who he would be in the future. He had never been like the other dwarves, going to school, playing with friends and making mischief appropriate to their age. The closest thing to a friend he had was his brother Frerin. Five years, although an insignificant amount for an adult dwarf, were a great many years when one was small. Eventually he got used to everybody treating him with the respect someone his position deserved, but he would have changed everything for a friend in whom he could trust, someone who would not speak to and feign interest in the prince he was, but because they really wanted to spend time with Thorin.

It was not until many years later when he found all that in Dwalin, someone who had never treated him as the king he would someday be, but the dwarf he was. But by then his solitary nature and not knowing how or wanting to open up to others had already taken a toll on him.

'I've always been alone. Since I was born.'

Thorin saw that Bilbo's face was filled with sorrow and that bothered him. He did not want anyone to feel sorry for him.

'And your sister? I mean the mother of Fili and Kili.'

'Fourteen years separate us. Five separated me and my brother, and I hardly saw him. My grandfather and my father made sure my schedule was always full.' Thorin looked away, fixing his eyes on the beautiful mountains that were in front of them. He did not know what it was in the halfling, but it was so easy to talk to him, so easy to tell things him he had not told anyone.

'I didn't know you had a brother.'

Thorin saw Frerin, saw his face before they separated in Azanulbizar, saw the smile that he gave as a farewell. It was too painful to remember.

'He died.' Thorin said no more. His brother was a subject he did not like mentioning. He had fought with his father and grandfather to prevent Frerin from going to battle. He was too young, but all had ignored him. It was not in the nature of a Durin to flee battle and his brother had always been impulsive, much like Kili now.

Thorin did not know how long they were silent, he had forgotten the presence of the halfling, until the smell of a pipe made him turn his head. What he saw left him perplexed. Bilbo was there, beside him, he had not moved an inch, smoking a tobacco that smelled particularly good with his long pipe. How had he managed to keep the pipe after all the adventures?

'You want some? Old Toby is the best pipeweed you'll find. I still have enough left for another pipe,' Bilbo said with a warm, sweet voice. He did not know what was in that voice but it dispersed Thorin's ghosts.

'I do not want to deprive you of it. Anyway I have no pipe.'

'Here,' said the halfling offering his. Thorin took it without really knowing why and puffed.

'I have never had anything like this. It is truly exceptional. '

'Sure it is,' Bilbo said. 'If there is anything that us hobbits are proud of, it is pipeweed and our beers. Big People tend to say that it was them who created it, but it's not true. The pipeweed was a hobbit invention.' There was pride in Bilbo's words.

'I did not know that.'

'Many people do not know. At the end of the day, it's not as if we hobbits stepped out of the Shire to educate them about it.'

'Is it true you never abandon your land?' Thorin said taking another drag, as Bilbo had not made a move to take his pipe back.

'Never. Not beyond Bree, yet only the very adventurous go to Bree. No self-respecting Hobbit goes there.'

'You've gone far beyond that.' Thorin was surprised by the sweet tone with which he had said that. A tone reserved for family only.

'Well, yes, I suppose. Although that means I'm no longer a respectable, trustworthy hobbit.'

'But you're the only hobbit I would trust.'

Bilbo smiled. It was a smile from the heart, timid, which made his cheeks redden and made a knot in Thorin's stomach.

***

Thorin did not know why but he was convinced that Bilbo would come. Logic told him it was impossible. Bilbo could be dead, a spider could have hurt him, he could be wandering aimlessly through the cursed forest. And although it was not so, although he had followed them with that miraculous ability to walk without being seen, it was impossible for him to enter Thranduil's kingdom without being seen and free them. No one, ever, had fled the elven kingdom. But something inside told him that Bilbo would.

"Not our only hope," he had told Balin, and he believed it blindly.

Bilbo. Locked in a cage, with no one to see him, with time to spare, Thorin could do nothing but think about him. Much had changed his opinion about the halfling in recent months, while Thorin had not realized how important he was to him until Bilbo went from being a burden to something vital. Thorin recalled the first impression he had of him. It was of a hobbit, true one more graceful than the other hobbits he had seen throughout his life, but still a hobbit. A creature of peace, he did not know pain, nor war, nor what it was not knowing if he would eat tomorrow. Thorin had seen enough hobbits to know that they were creatures that had nothing to bring to his life. At least until the wizard was determined to put one in his company.

Bilbo. His gentle face and round nose were the first thing that caught his attention. Thorin had never seen such an expressive face as Bilbo's. He could feel the curiosity in him when Gandalf began to speak of the mission, or the fear when Bofur described the dragon. Bilbo's face was an open book to the world and that did nothing but reinforce the impression that the hobbit would not step out of his hole. It was not that he was going to be a burden to them, as Thorin knew he would be, but he did not want another death on their backs. He did not want to be to blamed for the creature leaving his comfortable life, full of peace and all amenities typical of his race, to go across the world to die.

Bilbo. Who Thorin had always seen as a burden, because for some reason his eyes had been covered with a thick black blindfold that only fell away when the helpless creature, the race least capable of fighting, had come between him and the Pale Orc. The halfling had risked his life for Thorin, for someone who had done nothing but despise him, but the hobbit had been willing to die for him. Thorin still remembered Bilbo's embrace, as his little arms had tried to surround him. He still remembered the smell of his hair.

Bilbo. There was something in him that made Thorin feel like he was at peace. There was something about the halfling that made Thorin feel he could trust him. Something that made him leave the mask he always wore and feel like he could be himself, without pretensions, without fear, because Bilbo was not his subject, to him he was not his king. To Bilbo, Thorin was himself, nothing else. No king, no heir of Durin, no authority figure. And every time they were alone, in those rare moments they shared stories of their people, Thorin did not want to be anything more.

Thorin knew that what he felt for Bilbo was not simple friendship, as he knew what friendship was. Dwalin was his friend. Balin was his friend. Glóin was his friend. All the Company to a greater or lesser extent were his friends, but Bilbo... Bilbo made him feel different. He did not know it was, but it was not simple friendship. Perhaps it was because he was of another race, but he doubted it. There were things in Bilbo that disturbed Thorin, things that made him feel strange things, like whenever the hobbit smiled, and whenever he moved his nose in a circular fashion, or when balanced on his furry feet, or his furry feet. His leaf-shaped ears. There were things in Bilbo that woke strange feelings Thorin did not know how to catalogue. Things that he had never stopped to think about due to a lack of time, because there was always something more important. But now, trapped without any possibility of escape, his mind kept focusing on the hobbit. And as if he had the power of invocation, Bilbo appeared with a bunch of keys in his hand.

Thorin looked at him, almost in awe of his apparition, and ran to him. Bilbo opened the door looking at him as if to say "what would you lot do without me?". Too fast for Thorin Bilbo went to open another door, and Thorin could not say a thing. It was not the time for words, Bilbo had come to get them out of the dungeon, as Thorin knew he would, and now it was time to follow him.

Thorin went down the stairs, making sure the company followed Bilbo, and leaving behind this disgusting place along with his strange thoughts about the burglar. It was no time to meditate. They had plenty to do and plenty of time to recover. Bilbo was waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

***

New and a bit alarming

Who'd have ever thought that this could be?

True that he's no Prince Charming

But there's something in him that I simply did not see

Bilbo had to hurry, he couldn't leave the dwarves to their fate, having seen just how far they got without him. He hurried behind the elf with blond hair and went in nearly brushing against him, entering the realm of the elves. Bilbo could not help but stand still, admiring the rooms surrounding him. It was beautiful, not as Rivendell was, Bilbo thought he would never see anything more beautiful in his life than Rivendell, but it's beauty was of the rough kind. Everything was open and followed the natural shape of the branches and trunks, nature was the site's guide. Bilbo stared longer than he should because he could no longer see the dwarves. He walked down the hall, taking care to avoid anyone noticing his presence, until he made it to the throne room. There was Thorin. Thorin with hair full of cobwebs. "That's the least important thing at the moment," he said to himself, looking for a place where the could stand and see what would happen.

He watched as the elf king, golden-haired and of overwhelming presence, offered a deal to Thorin and Bilbo thought for a moment they were having a bit of luck again. But no. Thorin did not accept the deal, and not only that, he was furious. Bilbo had never seen Thorin so, there was pain and anger in his words mixed with powerlessness. He accused the elf king of not helping them when he had the chance and Bilbo almost let out a moan at that. This was Thranduil, the elf who had turned his back to the kingdom of Erebor and dwarves, the reason Thorin did not trust any elf. Bilbo knew there was history between them, but could not find out much more, as they took Thorin away from the room and Bilbo followed him, discovering as he did so where the others were.

Hours passed, and days, and Bilbo did not know how to get out of the kingdom. He searched for a way out on all sides, but he could not find a solution to take away thirteen dwarves under the noses of many elves. Desolate he walked through the corridors that he knew almost as well as his home, down to the cell that kept Thorin. He did not know why, but he did not want to take off the ring and let Thorin know he was there, he wanted to wait to have the solution to their problem.

Bilbo sat and looked at Thorin. There was something about the dwarf that put Bilbo on edge, something prevented him from looking away. Thorin, even stripped of all his belongings, locked in a cell and in his worst condition yet, was the most beautiful thing Bilbo had seen in his life. A small part of him called for controlling those feelings, which were not appropriate. Everyone in the land knew that male hobbits married female hobbits and had children, it was the natural course of life. True, some had experimented a little when young, but nothing more. All self-respecting Hobbits got married and had children. However Bilbo had never wanted that, Bilbo had never found someone who woke up the feelings he supposed that your partner was meant to awaken in you. However, he was there in front of Thorin, watching him. And the fact that he was a dwarf did nothing but increase the concern his feelings brought him.

Bilbo had reached a point where he could not keep lying to himself, he was attracted to Thorin. Everything about him was attractive. His black mane with those grey hairs that were like silver threads and which looked to be so soft to the touch, his straight nose, a little big some would consider it but Bilbo thought it was wonderful, his body ... It is true that Bilbo was used to curves and small things, but Thorin ... Thorin was simply stunning, he was like those heroes from the stories that his mother used to read to him when he was little, he was a creature of legend, and when Bilbo saw him, he did not doubt that his lineage had been created by the gods. But if there was something that made his heart beat faster than it should, it was his eyes. Bilbo had never in all his life seen anything like them, not even among the elves, beautiful beings by definition, his were simply beautiful. Thorin was an emotional person and all his feelings, Bilbo had learned over time, were in his eyes. Bilbo could write songs about those eyes, but he had no time, no pen and no paper. Now he had to find a solution. So he left Thorin, gently touching the bars of the cell, and let his fantasies of comforting hugs at dawn to go to find a solution. He had heard something about a party that night and wanted to see what it was.

***

'Bilbo!'

Bilbo could hear Thorin's screams, but was unable to get up. The current had taken him farther than the others, and he was too tired. Bilbo was afraid, he could not swim, not really, and he was moving away from the barrels. He tried to get out of the water and approach his companions, but it was impossible. He was sinking, getting back to the surface was getting hard and he could not scream. Only when his head was already under water did he notice a pair of powerful hands pulling him up to the surface. It was Thorin. He said nothing, just left him on the shore, as he went to check on the others. Bilbo tried to breathe normally, until he got up to continue. They couldn't stand still, the orcs were behind them and the Mountain was so close ...

Eventually they stopped for a couple of minutes, enough time to bandage Kili's leg. Bilbo stepped away from the group, looking for the best way to skirt the river to reach the Mountain. He didn't notice Thorin until he spoke.

'Are you hurt?" asked the dwarf, looking Bilbo up and down.

'No. I'm fine. Well, as fine as I can be after riding a barrel. I never would have thought that I would do that. '

'If I'm not mistaken you've done many things that you never thought you would do.' Thorin's voice was softer than before, calmer. Bilbo looked at him and knew not what to say. Thorin was wet from top to bottom, with only a blue shirt sticking to his body. It was an image that Bilbo had not analysed, but now, feeling so close to him, so cold from the water, he could feel the heat emanating from the Thorin's body and could not stop associating one thought with the other.

'Although to be honest, I would also have never imagined that you would get us out in barrels. '

'It was the only thing that occurred to me.' It was the most coherent thing Bilbo could say.

Thorin looked at him turning his head, as if trying to analyse his thoughts, and it was then that Bilbo realized the meaning of Thorin's sentence. "that you would get us out". Thorin knew that Bilbo was going to free them. Thorin had not doubted that Bilbo would come back for them and release them. Thorin trusted him, relied on his skills and wit to rescue the Company from any trouble. And although if Bilbo had stopped to think about it he would have realized the great responsibility he had now, he could not help feeling a little warmth in his body at the thought of Thorin trusting him without question.

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

To these memories I will hold

With your blessing I will go

To turn at last to paths that lead home

And though where the road then takes me

I cannot tell

We came all this way

But now comes the day

To bid you farewell

Bilbo woke up and looked around, realizing he was in Erebor. It took him a few minutes to remember everything that had happened, still he did not know how he'd made it there or if Thorin was alright. Thorin! What had happened to him? And to Fili and Kili? He needed to know. He rose from the bed where he lay and went looking for someone who could tell him what had happened. He did not have to walk far, because soon a dwarf passed him and informed Bilbo where the rest of the wounded were.

Bilbo quickly moved up to a room guarded by two guards. He tried to get in but they blocked his way.

'Excuse me, I'm looking for Fili and Kili. "He said with his best voice.

'You cannot pass.' Said the dwarf on the right.

'Are they alright? I need to see them, really. 'Bilbo had no time for stubborn dwarves he did not know, so he tried again to walk through, but they didn't allow it. They took Bilbo by his arms and walked him away, but not before they got the hobbit to make a ruckus about how they were treating him. Ruckus that was helpful, because in that moment Gloin passed by stopping both guards and helping Bilbo to his feet.

'Don't ya even thing of laying a hand on him again.' Said Gloin, furious.

'He wanted to enter the princes' chambers and the King gave orders not to let anyone other than one of ours in or out.'

'Well, I do not see anyone here who meets that description.' Said a serious Gloin. 'Bilbo is a member of the King's Company. He can go whenever he wants. '

'But the King ...' One of the guards was not very keen on letting Bilbo pass. He did not know the creature before him and it did not inspire him confidence. Although he knew Gloin and his reputation and knew that it was not a good idea to have him as an enemy.

'For your sake, lad, I would treat this hobbit with the utmost respect, and be thankful if the King does not hear of this.'

Bilbo did not know what to do with himself, he would like to say something, but he wasn't sure what. The last time he had seen the Company, Thorin had almost thrown him over the wall of the gates. He was on which terms he was with them, but apparently they were back to being friends. At least with Gloin. The red haired dwarf gave him a smile and let him into the parlor, where he was met with a most picturesque scene. Fili and Kili were lying on two beds, with a dwarf changing blond's bandages as an elf of coppery hair approached Kili with a bowl of food. Various sensations flooded through Bilbo at that time. The first was relief at seeing the sons of Durin healthy and sound, the second was surprise at finding an elf with Kili in Erebor, Bilbo didn't know who she was, but she undoubtedly came from the realm of Thranduil, and the third was hunger. He had not realized how hungry he was until he had seen the bowl with food. His stomach growled at that time and that made everyone turn around to see who it was.

'Bilbo.' Shouted Kili. His voice showed that, though sore, he was very happy to see him.

'Bilbo.' Shouted his brother also. Bilbo approached Fili and hugged him gently and, removing the unbraided hair from his face, inspected the wound.

'I'm so glad to see you lads. I'm so glad you are well.'

'Of course we are.' Said Fili with a smile, letting Bilbo fuss about him. 'The sons of Durin do not die easily, remember?'

Bilbo smiled and went to Kili. He had a horrible wound, but was conscious. He gently hugged him and stroked his face as he had done with his older brother.

'We were worried about you, Bilbo. I did not know that had happened. 'Kili said, looking seriously at Bilbo. The last time they had seen each other, these two had tried to prevent Thorin from killing him. A horrible feeling coursed through the halfling's body, remembering the time, but it was not the place nor time to remember the eyes of Thorin bathed in madness. There were more important things now, such as the kids.

'I'm fine. I got an awful blow to the head, I think. But I'm fine. Oh, how rude I am, where are my manners? I do not know your friend. 'Bilbo looked at the red-haired elf with a smile. Said elf was watching Bilbo as if she had never seen a creature like him. And surely that was the case, thought the halfling.

'My name is Tauriel.' Her voice was melodious and full of life. 'And I think we've met before.'

'Oh, yes ... You're the Captain of Thranduil's Guard, right? 'Bilbo said, worried. He was not sure of what was an elf doing there. And even less if Thorin knew. Thorin! He did not know what had become of him. he knew he was alive, he had seen him, or so he thought, but he did not know where he was or what had happened. He told himself it was not the time for that. Thorin whould be fine. Now what was important were his nephews.

'So I am. At least I was. 'Her voice was sad but not bitter.

'I see ...' Bilbo said, he saw nothing. 'Anyway. My name is Bilbo Baggins. A pleasure.'

'Sorry to ask, but what are you?' To this Fili and Kili both laughed and Bilbo looked at them reproachful. 'I'm sorry to ask the question, but I had never seen someone like you.'

'I am a hobbit.' Bilbo said.

'A halfling.' Fili added.

Bilbo did as if he had not heard him. 'I'm from the Shire. We do not usually leave our land. '

'I do understand. Wait. Are you responsible for the dwarves escape in barrels? '

Bilbo's hand went to his face, he did not know how many times he was able to say that yes, he was. He was sorry to have upset the elves, and having been in their kingdom and eaten their food without their permission, but he needed to free his friends ... Wait a moment, the elf was the captain, she had caught them. Good heavens, surely she no longer being captain was his fault.

'Yes. I feel sorry for all that. 'But Bilbo had no time to apologize further, as the elf smiled, and gestured with her hand.

'It was a great idea. I never in all my years of life have seen something so clever. '

'Bilbo is the best.' Kili said recovering somewhat his jovial spirit. 'Right, Fee?'

'He is. He's solved so many of our problems. We would not have come this far without him. 'The words of Fili were more serious than those of his brother, and Bilbo realized it. It had taken some time for him to realize that the courage of the crown prince was not shown in grand gestures and bold actions, but in his silence and reasoning. It was something that he definitely would need throughout his life.

After introductions were made, they sent to bring some food for Bilbo. While the halfling ate, Fili and Tauriel, with small small interventions from Kili, told what had happened after their separation.

It was not until an hour later when Bilbo heard commotion outside and decided that no matter how nice being with them was, it was time to go see what had happened to the rest of the Company. And to Thorin. Thorin was someone who he longed to see and at the same time feared. He knew he should no longer be under the influence of the sickness, as he'd seen him at the Raven's Hill, however too much had happened between them and with sickness or without, nothing slowed the fact that Bilbo had betrayed the king, giving the most precious jewel he had in his kingdom to his enemy.

Bilbo left the brothers and the beautiful elf with a small idea of what really was she doing there, for he knew too well the looks they threw at each other. But decided against thinking about it for now, there were more important matters at hand. He left the room and went to where he thought the exit was. He had to see Bofur. That was his main objective. All dwarves were his friends, but no one as close as Bofur. From the first day he noticed that, if he was going to feel close to someone sympathetic, it would be the dwarf with the funny hat and braids in his hair.

Thinking about this, and what he would say to everyone. He did not realize he was going to collide with a small delegation of dwarves who walked towards him. However, when he did he had already crashed into one of them, almos falling to the ground had not a pair of strong hands prevented it.

'Bilbo.' He heard. And Bilbo did not need to look to know who owned that voice. 'Leave us.' Ordered the dwarf and soon both were found alone. Bilbo looked and he almost escaped a sigh of relief at seeing in the eyes of Thorin the dwarf he loved and who had knocked at his door so many months ago at Bag End.

'I had not been informed that you were awake. "Thorin said as he indicated Bilbo to follow him.

'I have not been for long.' He said, not quite knowing what to say. Soon they found themselves in a small room, which previously would have been a kind of weapons storehouse, because there were still some hanging, but everything was full of cobwebs and dust. Bilbo turned when he heard the door close and realized that after a long time, he was alone with Thorin.

'Bilbo. I would like to apologize. 'Thorin said leaning on the door. And Bilbo's heart sank. Thorin did not have to apologize for anything. 'I would withdraw the words I said to you at the door if I could. You did what a good friend would have done. 'Bilbo looked at Thorin looked and let out a groan. 'Forgive me, I was too blind to see ...'

At those words Bilbo could not take it anymore and went to him. 'No, Thorin. There is no need to apologize. '

'I'm so sorry.' Thorin was staring at Bilbo and Bilbo took his hand to get to him. 'I'm sorry I put you in so many dangers. "Before he looked away, Bilbo saw deep pain and regret in the eyes of Thorin.

'No. I'm glad I shared your dangers, Thorin, each one of them. 'He said, grabbing Thorin's hand between his two. Thorin looked at Bilbo surprised, and Bilbo realized he could not really say the words he wanted . 'And it's much more than any Baggins deserves.' But it was not necessary to say them, as Bilbo saw in Thorin's eyes that he saw the feeling behind them.

Bilbo could not stop looking at those eyes. They were so full of life, of so many feelings. He felt how the dwarf enveloped his hands with his other hand and Bilbo could not avoid approaching him. Thorin was there, looking at him as if he were the most wonderful creature on all Middle-earth, and Bilbo did not know what to do, did not know what to say, but he knew everything in him asked to come closer the dwarf king. He needed Thorin close, he needed his strong arms surrounding him, he needed to see those eyes every day of his life. Thorin came closer and Bilbo stopped breathing.

'Thorin. "A knock on the door and all the magic that surrounded them disappeared. 'Thorin, we need you.' It was Dwalin.

Thorin separated from Bilbo, dropping his hands. Bilbo did not let him speak. 'Go.' He told him, stepping away from him. Thorin nodded and turned to leave. However, he stopped before opening the door.

'This conversation is not over. We have much to discuss. '

Bilbo did not know what Thorin wanted to talk with him, in his opinion there was nothing more to say.

'Meet me tonight in the throne room.'

Bilbo nodded. Thorin left, leaving the hobbit full of doubt and anxiety. What would Thorin like to speak with him? And what the hell had been about to happen? He did not want to think about what would have happened had Dwalin not knocked. It was too absurd. Nothing would have happened. Thorin saw him as a friend and so had told him. And Bilbo .... Bilbo needed to get away from all this. He had too many crazy ideas about Thorin and him that did nothing but increase with each time the dwarf looked at him. For your sake you must stay away, he said to himself, before yo do something you will regret all your life. You're a halfling. Your role in this adventure is over. It's time to go home.

Bilbo knew he had to come back. There was nothing more he could do there. He had fulfilled his part of the contract. He had seen Thorin regain his home and his throne and had achieved that none of his friends came out injured. It was time to go home and close this adventure. He was a hobbit, a simple creature of simple ways, and there was no room for him in grand palaces, important kingdoms and, even less, in the arms of the King of the Dwarves. It was a dream, nothing more. Now he had to wake up, be more Baggins than Tuk, and go back home.

Chapter Text

 

And there will come a time,

you'll see, with no more tears.

And love will not break your heart,

but dismiss your fears.

Get over your hill and see

what you find there,

With grace in your heart

and flowers in your hair.

 

Thorin was beginning to think the location hadn’t been a good idea. He didn’t want to seem like an intimidating figure to Bilbo, and that was exactly the image the throne room gave. On the other hand it was completely empty, and Thorin needed it to be just the two of them alone for what he had in mind. He had had doubts, lots of doubts, and most of the time he thought his feelings towards the Halfling would never be returned. Thorin was afraid of that somehow, for he knew dwarves only fell in love once in all their lives, and he had fallen for a Halfling, for a hobbit.

 

Thorin didn’t know what he was going to say, but they needed to talk. Something had been about to happen that morning, something that had made Thorin’s insecurities melt away. Bilbo felt more than friendship for him and Thorin had spent too many decades alone to want to spend even one minute more. He would never be ashamed that his heart had chosen the hobbit. Mahal had put him in his way for a reason and now he saw what it was. Bilbo was the one who was always there, the one who confronted him, the one who saw him as the dwarf he was and not what he represented. Bilbo had seen in him a kindness and honour that even he himself had trouble seeing sometimes. Bilbo… who had been at his side when sickness had consumed him. Bilbo… who had forgiven him in less than a couple of minutes for all he had done to him.

 

Thorin knew he didn’t deserve Bilbo, not after all he had done, but still he needed to talk. Needed to tell him. He knew if he didn’t do it they would never speak of the matter. He had a kingdom to rebuild and many negotiations on the way. He heard some footsteps and turned around. Bilbo was there.

 

‘Hello, Thorin,’ said the Halfling with his sweet voice.

 

‘Bilbo.’

 

‘Thorin, I wanted to speak with you.’ Bilbo neared him, climbing the stairs that led to the throne.

 

‘I wanted to speak with you too, Master Baggins,’ Thorin said fondly and saw that Bilbo had taken it that way. Thorin made a gesture while saying ‘you first’.

 

Bilbo took a deep breath and Thorin could see how nervous he was. He wiggled on his hairy feet, balancing his weight. Even so, Thorin told himself there was no reason to get nervous, it was clear the hobbit returned his feelings, he saw it in his eyes, noticed it in his tone of voice. Thorin smiled slightly, moved by the nervousness of the halfling. It was adorable that Bilbo got nervous with a matter like this, even without reason to.

 

‘I’m going to leave.’

 

Thorin’s face turned to stone. All his being turned to stone at Bilbo’s words.

 

‘I was thinking about leaving before winter fell on the roads. It’s been a long time since I left home and I must return.’ Bilbo wasn’t looking at Thorin; if he had he would have seen the horror in his eyes. ‘I fulfilled my part of the contract and you are all alright and… well, there’s nothing left for me here. You have your kingdom and I…’

 

Bilbo stopped and looked at his hands, which were covered by Thorin’s bigger ones.

 

‘You are not serious.’ His voice was hard, but with a hint of desperation.

 

Bilbo looked up and stared into Thorin’s eyes. ‘Thorin. I have to go.’

 

Thorin couldn’t say anything. He had never imagined Bilbo would leave, in none of the possible scenarios had that happened. Bilbo had always been at his side, Bilbo was the one he intended to spend the rest of his life with, Bilbo was going to be in Erebor with him. Thorin was going to turn Erebor into a home for the halfling and remind him every day how precious he was.  Thorin had seen the future and Bilbo had been at his side every moment of it. Bilbo couldn’t leave.

 

‘No. Bilbo. You can’t.’

 

‘Of course I can, Thorin, and I must. This is not my home.’

 

‘It could be. Please Bilbo, let me build a home for you here.’

 

Bilbo whimpered, and Thorin noticed how he was holding back tears. ‘You already have enough to worry about without worrying about me too.’ Thorin wanted to say something, but Bilbo didn’t let him. ‘You are the King of the Dwarves, heir of Durin. Your people need you. You belong here, in this throne, rebuilding your kingdom with its glory days. My place is in the Shire, where kings and great battles belong only in the books. It’s been an adventure, but now it’s time to go back.’ Bilbo pulled away from Thorin, turning around and taking some steps to leave.

 

Thorin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t think, couldn’t refute Bilbo’s words for there was truth and wisdom in them. He couldn’t think what to say to change the mind of the halfling. There was only one thing left.

 

‘Bilbo.’ Bilbo stopped but didn’t look at him. ‘Amrâlimê.

 

Thorin observed Bilbo take a slow breath. He knew Bilbo didn’t understand khuzdul, but he couldn’t think any other words now. He saw Bilbo turn around slowly. Saw him walk towards him. Thorin felt his heart beating so hard he was afraid it would leap out of his chest. He saw Bilbo get close to him and raise a hand to touch his face. Thorin leaned into the caress, closing his eyes slightly and feeling his cheeks being covered by two soft hands. He opened his eyes and looked at Bilbo’s, so close to his, in them he saw reflected all the love he felt himself, but also pain, and something else, resignation. Thorin didn’t want to see that resignation, he closed his eyes and it was then he felt Bilbo’s soft lips against his. The kiss was light, a simple touch of lips, however for Thorin it was much more. That kiss was the proof that Bilbo felt the same for him, it was proof their love was true and Thorin had found his One in Bilbo. Thorin felt Bilbo’s lips drawing away before he could help it and opened his eyes.

 

‘It was a dream, nothing more.’ Bilbo let his hands fall and left.

 

Thorin could do nothing as he watched the halfling walk away across the majestic hall of the throne room, under the stare of the old kings’ statues. Bilbo’s words echoed in his mind again and again.

 

“It was a dream, nothing more.”

Chapter Text

 

In another life, I would be your girl.

We keep all our promises,

Be us against the world.

In another life, I would make you stay.

So I don't have to say you were

The one that got away,

The one that got away.

 

Bilbo checked again that he wasn’t leaving anything behind. He didn’t have much to take with him, yet he wanted to make sure all his little belongings came back with him. He hadn’t slept at all last night remembering the kiss and Thorin’s words. “Amrâlimê” he had told him, and even if Bilbo didn’t understand the secret language of the dwarves, he had understood perfectly the meaning of that word. His heart sunk irredeemably and he had a knot in his stomach that made it impossible to eat anything.

 

Bilbo closed his rucksack and put it on his shoulder, he must leave and the sooner the better. He knew Gandalf would be waiting for him at the doors of the kingdom. He didn’t know how he was going to say goodbye to the others, or if Thorin would be there. Bilbo didn’t know if he would rather see Thorin one last time or leave with the memory of last night, with the warmth of his lips, with the love of his gaze. Bilbo shook his head, forcing himself to forget such nonsensical thoughts. He was not a lad in his youth anymore; those ideas were not appropriate for someone his age, and much less if the object of affection was a dwarven king. “You are doing the right thing,” he told himself once again. Bilbo looked at the beautiful room and left, going straight to the front door taking care not to meet anyone he knew. However, at the door, together with two guards that were doubtlessly of Dain’s legions, he found Balin. “If you owe someone a goodbye, it’s him.” And with said thoughts he walked towards the dwarf.

 

‘Bilbo,’ said Balin when he saw him. ‘I see it’s true, you are leaving us.’

 

‘That’s right, Balin. I must leave. It’s time to go back home.’

 

The dwarf gave him a sad look, but didn’t try to change his mind.

 

‘Could you say goodbye to the others for me? Could you tell them they are more than welcome to come by whenever they wish?’

 

‘You could tell them yourself,’ said the old dwarf with a smile that made it clear he knew what Bilbo was going through. He didn’t know why, but the hobbit had always suspected that Balin knew more than he let on. Bilbo scrunched his noise in a sign of annoyance; he knew Balin’s words carried truth, he ought to say goodbye, but he couldn’t. Once again he was running away from Erebor like a thief.

 

Balin touched his shoulder in an affectionate gesture. ‘Ease, laddie. Go in peace. But don’t forget us. Don’t forget to write.’

 

‘I could never forget you,’ replied Bilbo with a thankful smile. In the distance Gandalf was coming closer. It was time to go. Balin patted his shoulder fondly and Bilbo prepared to leave, but a deep voice he knew very well prevented him from doing so, making his eyes close, tensing up without noticing.

 

‘Leave us,’ commanded Thorin to Balin and the two guards, and so they did. Balin, however, before leaving, patted his shoulder again in a sign of support, as if he knew what had happened between them.

 

Bilbo didn’t turn around, he waited for Thorin to get near him. On the other side of the bridge Gandalf waited with his horse and a pony.

 

‘You are leaving my kingdom like a thief in the night.’ Thorin’s tone of voice wasn’t harsh nor reproachful, but rather neutral, like he was trying to hide his emotions, and Bilbo didn’t know what to do with neutral. He was used to a passionate Thorin, who didn’t hesitate on insulting or giving gallant speeches, not to a restrained one - however, he didn’t want to leave with a bad taste in his mouth.

 

‘I didn’t want to cause a scene. I’m sure you have more important things to do.’

 

Thorin nodded and looked at Gandalf. Bilbo didn’t know what to say, didn’t know if they should talk about last night or make as if it never happened for their friendship’s sake, or what was left of it.

 

He wanted to say something, but at the same time he wanted to enjoy the silence. He had missed being like this with Thorin, in silence, without the need for talking. That silence should have been uncomfortable, but it wasn’t. It was familiar, comforting, it was what their relationship had been in its best moments, before the disaster at Erebor, and it was precisely that which made it even more painful. A part of Bilbo told him he should stay, that he and Thorin had a future together, that they could work as a couple, that the silence was proof of that. But another part of Bilbo, a more Baggins part, told him he was living in a tale of fairies and trolls. He must see the reality as it was and not how he wanted it to be. He and Thorin were nothing more than two people that had come together for a mutual benefit, friends at best, yes, friends, nothing else. Thorin didn’t need a hobbit at his side. Thorin had a kingdom to rebuild and many things to do and there was no place for Bilbo there when everything came back to normal.

 

‘You will always be welcome,’ said Thorin breaking the silence. ‘If one day you wish to return, you will always be welcome.’

 

Bilbo didn’t know what to say except thank you. He was fighting to hold back tears. Thorin saw Gandalf waiting and looked at Bilbo with so much love and pain in his eyes that Bilbo couldn’t help but whimper.

 

‘Go back to your home, Master Burglar. Go back to your books, your armchair, plant your trees and watch them grow. If more people valued home above gold this world would be a merrier place, but now you must go, the wizard awaits you.’

 

‘Thorin…’

 

But Thorin didn’t let him speak, he looked at him for a last time and bid him farewell.

 

‘It’s been an honour to meet you. I wish you a good journey to your home.’ And saying that he was gone, leaving Bilbo alone.

 

Bilbo breathed heavily and turned to go meet the wizard. There were many things he would have liked to tell Thorin, but he hadn’t been able to. He had been afraid if he’d opened his mouth he’d do something stupid.

 

‘Ready to go back home?’ Inquired Gandalf.

 

Bilbo nodded and got on the pony, letting the wizard guide him, and saying no word for a long time. Left behind was Erebor, which would be again the most powerful kingdom of the dwarves on all Middle Earth. Left behind was the company, strangers that had become friends that he had left without saying goodbye. Left behind were his extravagant dreams, left behind was a life he hadn’t even dare to imagine. He didn’t look back as he went away, because nothing was there for him, but if he’d had, he could have seen the King under the Mountain on the main balcony,  staring in his direction and whispering words only he could hear.

 

‘Look back. Look back and look at me.’

 

But Bilbo never looked back and the King went into his big mountain, leaving behind himself the dreams of Thorin Oakenshield, for that dwarf did no longer exists, he had left the mountain with Bilbo. Now he ought to be King, ought to devote himself to his people, ought to rebuild his kingdom. There was much to do, and Bilbo wasn’t there to help him anymore.  

Chapter Text

 

Without you

The moon glows

The river flows

But I die without you

The world revives

(Colors renew)

But I know blue, only blue

Lonely blue

(Within me blue)

Without you

 

Bilbo sat on his favorite sofa, the one he had missed so much during the journey, and observed the fire, with a freshly made cup of tea between his hands. He was alone, there was silence at last. It had taken him days to recover all his neighbors had taken, and a long and tedious evening explaining everyone that yes, it was him, he wasn’t dead and he had come back to stay. Fortunately Bilbo had kept the contract with him all the time, and thanks to that he had been able to prove his identity. But he didn’t want to think about that now. He didn’t want to think of the months he had been away, back to the Shire, nor of how much it had taken him to arrange his house until it was what he remembered. He wanted peace and quiet now. He had missed the silence so much… One could never find silence around dwarves, always so noisy and full of things to say. Except Thorin, Thorin was someone you could be in silence with… Bilbo shook his head. He wasn’t going to think of Thorin, it did him no good.

 

He sipped his tea and leaned his head back, closing his eyes for a moment. He didn’t have anything to do, nowhere to go. There was quiet, but there was something uneasy inside of him. He didn’t know what, but something wasn’t right.

 

Days passed and Bilbo decided it was time to write his friends a letter apologizing for his quick escapade. He sat on his dear armchair and took paper from his beloved desk, however he didn’t know how to start. After discarding several sheets of paper, he ended with a long letter, directed to Balin, but where he asked him to give a specific message to every member. To every one sans Thorin. He didn’t know what to tell Thorin, at the same time he thought he didn’t have the right to tell him anything. Bilbo was at home, and Thorin at his own. It’s true they had been friends, and Bilbo valued his friendship above everything he had ever had, but there was something more between them, something he didn’t have the right to stir up after leaving. Thorin had to move on, he had to be king and not worry about a silly hobbit. Bilbo knew it was for the better, it was the most logical thing, what any Baggins would do, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard.

 

***

 

Thorin closed the door of his chambers and the second he did he let slip the mask he had been wearing since Bilbo’s letter arrived. Months had passed without news of the hobbit and more than one time Thorin had had to keep himself from sending a raven on his search. Months without any news, and although Thorin pretended he didn’t care, every day that passed took its toll on him. With all his work and the arrival of part of his people from Ered Luin he had been very busy. Every second was dedicated to the rebuild of Erebor, for he didn’t want to have not even a minute to think of other things. The situation was clear, he was king and had to take care of his people, he wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. Yet, there were days where he would give all the gold under his precious mountain to find the hobbit on his bedchambers at the end of the day.

 

“It’s been a dream, nothing more.”

 

Bilbo’s words echoed on his mind each day, reminding him of the reality, until he came to a point he stopped hearing them, stopped remembering which color Bilbo’s eyes were, or his smell, or his height. Months passed, and sometimes letters from Bilbo arrived, but none for him, and with time Thorin forgot even the sound of the Halfling’s voice, because remembering was too painful.   

 

***

 

It was too quiet, Bilbo thought at least four times a day. Almost a year had passed since he had left the Mountain and he still wasn’t getting used to the calm. At first, when he arrived, he had loved the silence, the peace, as he had been yearning for it for months, but with time he had started to hate it. Why was all so quiet? Bilbo spent the day locked up at home, only going out when it was absolutely necessary. He didn’t want to meet his neighbors, he had never liked them and he liked them even less since he came back. He acted like he didn’t hear the other hobbits whispering about him, acted like he didn’t know a large part of the Shire called him “Mad Baggins” since his return.

 

Bilbo had come back to his dear home, to the Shire, with its green hills and beautiful streams, but Gandalf had been right. He wasn’t the same hobbit he had been before the adventure. The green hills didn’t seem as beautiful anymore, the streams didn’t sound with the water they carried as comforting as he remembered, the singing of the birds didn’t make him feel as heady, and with time, Bilbo began to notice he had idealized his home.

 

***

 

Kili entered his uncle’s study. He knew why he was there. In fact he could have sworn the conversation they were doubtlessly about to have they should had have it months ago. Kili was in love with an elf and that was something that couldn’t be. He was aware of that, he knew it would never be accepted, but he had had faith that his family would understand it. There was something that told him his uncle would understand, for much absurd it sounded, given the fame of hate for the elves the King under the Mountain had. Kili had been months slipping away to Dale to meet with Tauriel, but he knew that sooner or later that wouldn’t be enough. Kili had an idea of future, but for that he needed his uncle’s permission.

 

‘Close the door.’ Said Thorin without looking up from his writing.

 

Kili did as much and neared him. Thorin raised his head up after some seconds, putting away the quill and paying attention to his nephew. Kili noticed it wasn’t going to be a nice conversation. He knew that look and he knew he had to be very careful.

 

‘I’ve been informed you spent a long time at Dale lately. Could I know what does that human city have that requires your presence more than your own kingdom?’

 

‘I hadn’t neglected my duties of prince.’ Said Kili without wanting to get to the matter so soon.

 

‘That is not what I asked.’ Thorin got up and for a moment Kili felt like a child again. ‘Do you think I hadn’t known what you do for months? Do you think I don’t know your business in Dale?’

 

‘I didn’t mean to hide it. I wanted to talk to you about it.’

 

‘What did you want to talk about? Of your relationship with the elf?’ Thorin’s tone was harsh and his voice high. Kili looked at him surprised, not imagining his uncle had known about it for months.    

 

‘You know.’ He said.

 

‘I know. And be thankful I’ve taken an effort so no one else knows. What are you thinking? How can you betray your people that way?’

 

‘Betray?’ Said Kili, his tone getting high as his uncle’s. ‘I hadn’t betrayed anyone.’

 

‘She is Thranduil’s captain. Had you forgotten that if it was for him all our people would be dead? Had you forgotten who locked us up on his dungeons?’

 

‘She was obeying orders, nothing else!’ Shouted Kili.

 

‘That doesn’t excuse her. Not to add she’s an elf. When had you seen something like that?’

 

‘Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time to left behind all those centuries of grudges and notice we are not so different.’

 

‘She is an elf and you are a dwarf! That will NEVER happen! I will never allow it!’

 

‘I’m in love with her!’ both were shouting high, but fortunately the stone walls prevented any noise from going outside.

 

‘Is not love what you feel. It can’t be love.’ Said Thorin lowering his tone a bit. He had to make his nephew see it was impossible. He couldn’t love the elf. It was true that Thorin owed her for life, and it was true he respected her for the events of the battle, but that didn’t mean her relationship with his nephew was not impossible. Would had Kili been a common dwarf it could have happened, they could leave, where nobody knew them, and live in peace. But Kili was prince of Erebor, he had a role to fulfill, an example to give, and as such he couldn’t be with an elf. Much less an elf that had been captain of the worst enemy Erebor had had after Smaug and Azog. His people would never understand it. His people would never approve of the union of a dwarf and someone of another race.

 

‘What do you know!?’ Kili yelled, for he refused to believe his uncle had forbidden him his dreams. ‘You haven’t loved anyone in your life. We are not all like you, obsessed with revenge and duty. What do you know of love? What do you know of my feelings? You live thinking only the traditional is valid, that we can’t trust anyone that is not of our race, and much less love. You believe that if they are not like you they don’t deserve your trust. Do you know what? You are wrong. Tauriel loves me, for who I am, even having been raised up in hating our kin; and I love her. You’ll never understand what is to be loved, because behind all the duty to our people and all that façade there’s nothing. There’s no love in you. And if you think I’m going to stay here, to turn into someone like you, you are wrong.’

 

And that said Kili left and Thorin couldn’t go in his search, couldn’t rebut anything, couldn’t make him see he understood him more than he thought, that they had in common more than what met the eye, for the words of his nephew had hurt him more than any weapon.

 

There was no love in him. Revenge and duty had occupied all his life. There was no love in him. All that confirmed Thorin’s thoughts about his relationship with Bilbo and, in times like that, he was glad he had left, because who would love someone like him?       

Chapter Text

In sleep he sang to me 

In dreams he came 

That voice which calls to me 

And speaks my name 

And in this labyrinth 

Where night is blind 

The Phantom of the Opera is there 

Inside my mind 

  

Thorin was looking at the starry night, lost in his thoughts, and Bilbo looked at him. There was something in Thorin Oakenshield that made him unique: the way he moved, the air he had, not of superiority, but of someone that knows he is followed, that he is considered a leader. There was a heartbreaking beauty in him, a beauty that Bilbo had never seen. He had grown up knowing what was pretty and what wasn’t, what was considered beautiful and he knew dwarves were not. He had never seen dwarves so closely, only when his mother had taken him a little out of the borders of the Shire to visit her relatives. They were a strange race, full of hair and rough, a race that inspired more fear than tenderness due to their muscled bodies and the jobs they did. When Bilbo had had the opportunity to see up close, very close, a dwarf he couldn’t but confirm such theory. Dwalin was an intimidating being, nothing in him told of manners or culture or gentleness. Nothing in him had aptitudes that a hobbit could consider valuables, and Bilbo thought, mistakenly, that all were the same. Bilbo could have never imagined a dwarf could be beautiful, able to create the sweetest melody. 

  

Bilbo heard the song Thorin had sung month ago in his house. He heard it like the first time he listened to it. Thorin’s voice was deep and strong, like rock, though full of emotion. It was a beautiful voice, a voice that moved something inside of Bilbo, something he didn’t know he had. Bilbo wanted to see the world, see the lakes and mountains, he wanted to see everything the voice sang of. 

  

Bilbo listened to Thorin sing. His blue eyes even clearer thanks to the campfire. Thorin was singing, his voice was beautiful, however Bilbo had never heard that melody before. Thorin sang alone, there was no sign of the other dwarves, and Bilbo decided to approach him. The melody was soft, like it was written to be sung by the heir of Durin. Thorin stared at the fire and Bilbo could see there were more than flames there. Bilbo got closer, listening to the song without knowing its meaning, as it was written in the secret language of the dwarves, however, Bilbo knew the song was meant for him. Thorin was singing to him. Bilbo looked at the fire and saw in it how the flames turned into a tree and a mountain. Bilbo glanced at Thorin, but Thorin didn’t take his eyes off from the fire. Bilbo looked again and saw the tree moving, transforming slowly into a woman of abundant curly hair, the mountain took the form of a strong fitted man, who let a hammer fall to take the hand of the woman. Both danced, getting swept in Thorin’s melody. Bilbo stared at them, and knew inside of him what he was seeing, he knew who those figures were, and glanced up at Thorin, trying to confirm his thoughts, but Thorin wasn’t there. There wasn’t a campfire, or woods, or any of his friends. The figures had disappeared, giving into darkness, like they had never been there. Bilbo was alone. 

  

Bilbo woke up, and for a few seconds he continued hearing Thorin’s melody. It wasn’t until it ended, turning to silence, that he realized it had all been a dream, a string of dreams. He thought about going back to sleep, but he knew it was impossible. He closed his eyes, hoping to hear the voice again, but he couldn’t remember it anymore. He knew it was beautiful, knew he had heard it on his dream all the time, but he wasn’t able to remember. He couldn’t remember Thorin’s singing voice, or the colour of his eyes during the day or in front of the campfire. 

  

Bilbo took his pillow and screamed onto it. He had thought distance would do him good, that it was the right thing, that it was best to return home and leave it all behind, just as a story to tell to his nephews and little neighbors. He had thought forgetting would be the best. Forget Thorin’s smell, the tact of his hands, the colour of his eyes, the deepness of his voice. Forget the tender way in which he said his name. Bilbo thought it would be the best, but which each day that passed and he forgot a little detail, he noticed how part of him left him with it, leaving him full of sorrow, alone. 

  

The only way Bilbo had to remember, to see again, to hear again, was in his dreams. And he was beginning to realize he couldn’t spend the rest of his life dreaming. 

  

*** 

 

No more talk of darkness

Forget these wide-eyed fears

I'm here

Nothing can harm you

My words will warm and calm you

 

Thorin closed the door, leaving outside all the problems of the day. Which each step he took he took off a layer of clothing, and he let each worry fall with it: Fili and how much he needed to learn about being crown prince, Kili and their last conversation a week ago, Dis and how she hadn’t stopped screaming about the subject. Balin and the problems they’d had with the supply of vegetables. The leaders of the syndicates of jewelers and miners and their arguments for the land. Dain and his request to visit Erebor with his court. Too many things run around Thorin’s head, and in the day he was thankful for it, it kept him busy, however, closing the door and saying goodbye to them for a couple of hours was the most painful part of the day. Saying goodbye to his problems and duties, stopping being king, made the memories come back. And Thorin remembered it all. 

  

Thorin remember how his skin shone with the sun, how it turned paler when they had been in the shadow for days. Thorin remembered his laugh, the sound of his smile. Thorin remembered the colour of his eyes when he was angry, when he was sad, when he was at peace. He remembered each one of his expressions. He remembered each of his gestures, the way he moved, the way he took things, the way he moved his nose. Thorin remembered it all and hated himself for it. Each night he prayed to forget, but each night he dreamt of him. With the life they didn’t have, with lives they could have had in different worlds. 

  

There was a dream that repeated itself. He slept and noticed how something moved beside him. It was Bilbo, waking in fear. He saw how Bilbo had tears in his eyes, how he called to him in whispers and Thorin got closer to him, but he couldn’t touch him, it was like he wasn’t there. There was no way to reach him and make him relax, to calm him down. Thorin had dreamt the same dream over and over again, watching Bilbo wake up and feeling his anguish, he knew, in that unconscious but certain way one has in dream, that the only thing that could reach him, the only thing that could to calm him down, was his voice. So Thorin sung. Every night Thorin sung, praying his voice would reach Bilbo. 

  

*** 

All I want is freedom

A world with no more night

And you

Always beside me

To hold me and to hide me

 

Bilbo got out of bed, it didn’t make sense to continue tossing around, burrowed in his bedsheets. He walked around the house, the one which had always seemed wonderful, perfect size, but now seemed big and deserted, like something was missing. Since the death of his parents he had gotten used to living alone, to be alone. Bilbo knew how to live on his own, he didn’t need anyone, he had been completely independent for decades, but he never had noticed that is not the same to know how to be alone and to want to be alone. He had never noticed the difference between being alone and being lonely. 

  

While he put the water to boil he thought of Thorin and how it would be to live with him. He had only known the dwarf on the journey to Erebor, always on the go, from one problem to another. Bilbo served the tea while he realized he didn’t know how Thorin was on his daily life. How would it be to spend a day with him? Without having to flee from orcs, runaway from elves, fight spiders, fly on eagles? Bilbo couldn’t imagine Thorin on a usual day, doing things like any other person. He had always seen Thorin as a figure of legend, one from his books, that spend the time doing great deeds, but Bilbo knew there was something more behind the legendary figure of Thorin Oakenshield. He had come to know the dwarf for what he was, not for what they told of him, and Bilbo knew that if someone valued the home and the daily things that was Thorin. 

  

Why did you leave? Asked a voice in his head. 

    

‘It was the right thing, and you know it.’ 

  

It wasn’t what you wanted.

 

‘What was I going to do there? They are dwarves, I’m a hobbit.’ 

  

You don’t stop repeating yourself that, but they accepted you like one of them. You could come back.

  

Bilbo looked at his hand and saw the ring. He didn’t know how it got there, or when he had taken it, but touching it comforted him. He thought about Thorin, and how much he would give to turn back time, what he would give to be a little more Took than Baggins. What he would give to feel his embrace once again. He put the ring on his pocket, took his teacup and went outside to see the sunrise. It was too early to think about those things. 

  

*** 

Then say you'll share with me one love

One lifetime

Let me lead you from your solitude

And say you need me with you here

Beside you

Anywhere you go let me go too

Love me that's all I ask of you

 

Thorin woke up with Bilbo’s eyes still on his mind. He knew there was not much time left for the sunrise, so it didn’t make sense to go back to sleep. Dress with a light robe and his boots he left his chambers, on his way to the raven’s hall. He needed to clear his mind. He wanted to forget Bilbo, but at the same time forgetting him hurt like if Azog’s warg bit him again. In moments like this he knew he would give anything, all the gold he possessed, all it represented, to be by Bilbo’s side, to share the rest of his life with him. 

  

*** 

Night time sharpens

Heightens each sensation

Darkness stirs

And wakes Imagination

Silently the senses

Abandon their defenses

Helpless to resist the notes I write

The power of the Music of the Night

Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world

Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before

Let your soul take you where you long to be

Only then can you belong to me

You alone can make my song take flight

Help me make the music of the night

 

Fili saw his uncle leave his chambers, he had come back from talking to his brother not long ago and they had fallen asleep by accident. He saw Thorin wasn’t head for the citadel, but for the stairs that connected to the lower chambers. He didn’t know why, but he followed him, there was something unusual in his uncle, something different. Thorin didn’t realize he was being followed and Fili could see how he head to the raven’s hall, how these welcomed him, as they had been awake for a while, and how the largest of them, Roäc, approached Thorin, perching on his arm. 

  

The next thing that happened was something Fili would had never imagined. Thorin began singing a melody in a low voice, Fili had to pay attention as from his hiding spot he couldn’t hear very well, but there was no doubt. Thorin was singing and the ravens listened. Fili noticed his uncle’s voice was full of love, sweetness and also sadness. It wasn’t until Thorin stopped singing and Fili turned, silently, back to his chambers, when he realized his uncle was in love. Thorin was in love with someone and Fili knew this information was valuable, that this information could help his brother, but he still didn’t know what to do with it. 

 

TBC

Chapter Text

But plant your hope with good seeds

Don't cover yourself with thistle and weeds

Rain down, rain down on me

Look over your hills and be still

The sky above us shoots to kill

Rain down, rain down on me

 

‘It’s an opportunity’ said Fili to his brother.

 

‘It is not. He’s throwing me out. He hasn’t spoken to me in a week and now he does it to throw me out.’

 

Kili was furious. Both brothers were outside the Mountain, close to the Raven Hill.

 

‘You know that’s not true, you know our uncle. He would never do that.’ Fili took a couple of nuts and began cracking them, sat on the grass, watching as his brother paced back and fro.

 

‘Tell me then why has he given me the task to go to Ered Luin instead of you. Or anyone else. I can’t see what I’ve got to do there.’

 

‘It’s a noble task to bring back the part of our people that hasn’t returned yet. Besides, what you don’t see is that he can’t send me, I need to be in Erebor. You don’t. And you, unlike me, should be thankful.’

 

‘I don’t see why.’

 

Fili sighed. His brother confused him sometimes.

 

‘Naddith, the situation is tense at Erebor. Thorin has many worries, he’s stressed, and you know he doesn’t answer well to stress, even worse now that he had discovered that your intentions with the elf are more than platonic. You know how much Uncle hates elves.’

 

Kili let out a sigh, nodding, and Fili continued.

 

‘Don’t you think it’d be good for your image to go on a noble task, things cool down a little bit, and at the same time you spend more time with your friend?’

 

‘What do you mean?’ Kili asked as he sat down and grabbed a nut.

 

‘I mean our people are going to have a hard time accepting Tauriel, Thorin will have a hard time accepting Tauriel, and I think it would be good if you leave for a while, so he calms down, and meanwhile you can go with Tauriel to Ered Luin.’

 

Kili looked at him surprised. ‘That’s right. I can go with her.’ Fili nodded ‘You are right.’

 

Fili nodded and Kili smiled. His brother had always been someone who changed mood easily. ‘Good. We’ve solved this and I’ve helped you, now I need your help. This thing I’m going to tell you is a secret. You can’t tell anyone.’

 

Kili swore he wouldn’t do it and both brothers knew he wouldn’t. Between them there was an unspoken pact of loyalty they respected more than anything. So Fili told him what he had seen, he told him that he thought their uncle was in love and told him that what they ought to do now was figure of with who and help him, for Fili was convinced that if they did that their uncle would be much more receptive of his relationship with the elf.

 

‘Are you sure he is in love?’

 

‘Kili, there’s no doubt. And with someone that’s not in Erebor, it seems. It showed in his voice. You know how expressive Uncle is when he sings.’

 

‘Fili, I told him horrible things the other day and now I regret it. I ought to apologize.’

 

‘You ought to. But what’s urgent now is this. We must figure out who. You go to Ered Luin and look into it, it may be someone from there, he could have been in a relationship with someone he didn’t told us about and now he misses that person. I’ll search around here, but Kili, no one can know. We have to find out for ourselves. Knowing our uncle, he’ll never make the first move, you know how useless he is with relationships.’

 

‘We’ll do it, Fili, we’ll figure out who it is and we’ll bring them together. Surely that way he’ll see my relationship with Tauriel in a different light.’

 

***

 

“Dear Thorin,”

 

‘No.’ Bilbo crumpled the paper and threw it away.

 

“Esteemed Tho”

 

‘Esteemed, seriously?’

 

“Thorin,

 

I’m sorry I haven’t written to you on this last month. Our farewell gave me the impression that it would be better to stay out of contact for some time. I’m writing you now because…”

 

‘Because I can’t stop thinking about you.’ Said Bilbo putting his head in his hands.

 

It had taken him more than half an hour to gather the courage to sit and write the letter. It was time to do it. He knew he couldn’t continue like this. He needed to speak with Thorin, to know about him. He knew he couldn’t come back to Erebor, not after the way he left, not now, but he needed to speak with the dwarf. Again and again he has stopped to think what he was going to tell him, to write him. Should he tell him about the flowers on his garden? About his daily life? Act as if nothing had happened? Bilbo didn’t know if to write him about how he was doing, how he felt, or act like it all had been a dream. As he himself had told him before leaving.

 

“I’m writing you now because I can’t stop thinking about you.

 

Since I left I have tried to leave behind my adventure, archive it like one of the many stories that are in my shelf, but I can’t. It haunts me every time I go to the market, every time I take care of my garden, every time I sit on my armchair. Do you remember that acorn, Thorin? The acorn from Beorn’s garden? I told you I would plant it at home to remember, but I hadn’t been able to plant it yet. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want for all of this to become a memory or because I don’t feel at home here anymore.

 

I miss you, I miss you all. I feel like some part of me, a part I didn’t know existed until you appeared at my door, had stayed there. A part I lived with before without knowing it, and now I can’t live without it.

 

I know I have no right to ask anything of you, not after the way I left, but if I could ask something from you I’d ask to spend a day with you. In these months I have come to realize I don’t know how you are in your daily life, I long to know how you act, I long to know what you do in the morning, your habits, the way you eat breakfast, know the little things about you given by a peaceful life. I can’t imagine you living one, maybe you are one of those people too important for little things, but us, hobbits, value day-to-day life and peace more than anything.

 

I know there are many things we didn’t tell each other, many unspoken things. But if you would give me another chance I’d like to talk about them all. There are so many things I want to tell you.

 

I’ll understand if you don’t reply to this letter. I just wanted you to know I still think about you. I know it’s not a big deal, a hobbit thinking about a great king, but to me you were never that. To me you were always Thorin.

 

I hope everything is alright and that Erebor it’s on its way to be as beautiful as you remember it.

 

Forever yours,

 

Bilbo.”

 

Bilbo read the letter and sighed. He took an envelope, folded the letter and left it on the side of his desk. His mother had always told him that if he needed to write something that was hard to write, it was better to let out your feelings first, put them on paper, and then write the letter. And Bilbo did as much. He took another piece of paper, and wrote another letter to Thorin where he didn’t talk about his feelings, nor how much he missed him, nor any of the foolish things he had written him in his previous letter. Bilbo wrote him saying sorry for the tardiness and telling him nothing had happened to him that was worthy of bothering a king. It was a formal letter, a well-written letter that didn’t reveal his longing for the king, but let it clear he still thought highly of him.

 

 Bilbo took the letter and put it in an envelope to be sent the next day on the post. He knew the letter would take long to arrive, possibly months, but he thought he ought to write. He needed to write him, and prayed that Thorin would write him back.

 

***

 

Kili had gone on his way to Ered Luin three months ago and Fili hadn’t been able to figure out who was the person his uncle was in love with. Months in which Dain had come to celebrate feast with his court, and Fili had started to notice more and more how dwarves of both sexes approached his uncle with intentions very clear for the young dwarf. Fili supposed his uncle was now the most desired dwarf in all Arda, but still it made him angry they approached him now that he was king of Erebor, while when he was Oakenshield nobody would have given two coppers for him. 

 

That was why Fili wanted to find the person his uncle was in love with. No doubts it was someone from his past, someone who knew him for the dwarf he really was, not what his titles showed of him. His uncle deserved someone who loved him for who he was, not for what he represented.

 

***

 

Thorin closed the door of his chamber giving thanks for not having to spend even one second more with the nobles that had come to celebrate some-or-another-party Dain had set up and Balin had sworn would be good for the moral of the people. Thorin didn’t care, he didn’t want to be with anyone. He knew he had to be there, lead the party, but he always left as soon as he could, was there just the necessary amount of time, and this time it hadn’t been different.

 

He approached his hall, where he had a sitting room, and saw a letter on top of his desk, a letter with a penmanship that was neither dwarven nor elven.

 

‘When did this arrive?’ he asked his manservant, who was rekindling the fire.    

 

‘This morning, thanu men.

 

‘Why wasn’t I informed?’ Thorin’s voice was harsh, reprimand, and the dwarf worried, afraid of a possible scolding.

 

 

‘Lord Balin said to leave it here.’ 

 

Thorin didn’t answer, but he looked away from the dwarf and focused on the letter, and the manservant took it as a signal to leave. 

Thorin took the letter and didn’t need more than two second to notice it was from Bilbo. His hands shook lightly, he turned it over and indeed there was his name, in emerald green ink, above a beautiful seal with the halfling initials. Thorin took a seat in front of the fireplace and prepared to open it, making a small mental note of shouting at Balin the next day.

 

Of everything he could have imagined, he never thought Bilbo would write him something like that. Not after his farewell, not after leaving saying “‘it was a dream, nothing more.” Thorin read the letter over and over again, until he didn’t have to read the words to know what it said. After sometime, Thorin looked up to the fire and noticed he didn’t know how to answer. He thought it would be better to leave it for tomorrow, he had drank more alcohol than he needed to, and Bilbo’s words had affected him too much.

 

He went to bed, however he couldn’t stop seeing emerald green sentences of the letter.

 

“I’m writing you now because I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“…I long to know what you do in the morning…”

“I miss you…”

 

And above all, two word that didn’t stop rolling around on his mind:

 

“Forever yours”

 

 

Thanu men: My king