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Oh, You're Guarding the Gates

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“Over, under, combine the two here,” Thorin's hands are loose around Bilbo's wrists, only guiding as little Hobbit fingers weave a new pattern into Thorin's hair. “Very neat. Perhaps you are good for something after all, burglar,”

“Perhaps I am,” Bilbo replies, obeying Thorin's directions. “Will you stop thinking me completely useless now?”

“Not likely,” Thorin replies, the hands still loose. “Likely I will still think you a silly thing too obsessed with his waistcoat buttons.”

Bilbo considers that for only a moment before replying. “Likely I will still think you a vain thing too obsessed with his braids.”

Now Thorin laughs, loud and deep. “You truly know nothing of Dwarf ways, do you?” When Bilbo frowns at him, he explains, though he does so with an air of great annoyance, tempered in no small part by amusement. “My braids are no simple vanity, Hobbit. The braids of a Dwarf can tell a stranger many things. What their occupation is, what their level of wealth is. Whether they are married. In love.” His hands secure themselves around Bilbo's. “A king with love-knots braided into his hair tells many things, none of them vanity.”

And now Bilbo's hands pause. “Is that what you're teaching me? A love-knot?”

Thorin's hands, huge compared to his, settle at his waist as though they belong there. “Yes.”

Bilbo sits back, Thorin's thighs huge and warm under him. His nightshirt is perfectly respectable, knee-length, but when he sits astride Thorin it rucks up to a somewhat less respectable length, something Thorin has noticed, if his smirk is anything to go by. One of Thorin's hands leaves Bilbo's waist to stroke up his thigh, slipping beneath the cotton. He goes no further, merely keeps the hand there.

“Is that appropriate?” Bilbo asks.

“Hm?” Thorin replies, thumb working into the inside of Bilbo's thigh in a very distracting manner. “My dear Hobbit, if I could decree it law for you to walk around in your nightshirt, I would and gladly, but sadly, that would perhaps be an abuse of power.”

Unimpressed, Bilbo tugs on one braid. “That is not what I meant in the slightest, as you are well aware.” The finished braid is really quite pretty, a complicated twist of one lock before plaited in with two others, and then another smaller twist wound around. Bilbo's own fine curls would certainly never be able to hold such a complicated thing. “Won't your kingdom wonder where they came from?”

Again, Thorin laughs. “Do you think Dwarrows blind, Bilbo?” He chuckles as the hand still on Bilbo's waist joins the other on his thighs, the nightshirt now pushed up to a very indecent length indeed. “And even if they were, I assure you, only the simplest of simpletons could not understand the jokes my Company see fit to tell all who will listen.” He smiles, and the hands settle on Bilbo's hips now. “My people like you, little Hobbit, have no worries. There will be no argument from any when you are declared my Consort.”

Bilbo frowns, and pushes at the hands. “When I am what?”

“Would you rather be queen?” Thorin mocks, his strong hands easily pushing away Bilbo's resistance. “Things will be settled soon enough, once we have Erebor back in order.” He presses a line of kisses up Bilbo's neck, only to frown when Bilbo pushes him away. “What now?”

“Just when did you decide all of this?” Bilbo winds the braid around his knuckles, Thorin's coarse hair scratching at his skin. “And without asking me my opinion, I might add. I admit to being rather ignorant on the ways of Dwarves, but I assume some things are the same between the races, the main thing being that both parties are usually aware of a courtship when it is going on.”

Now he has Thorin's full, undivided attention. The hands on Bilbo's hips slide off, and Thorin settles back against the headboard, his long, mostly unbound hair hanging about his shoulders like a curtain. It sometimes still amazes Bilbo that even in such a disheveled state, Thorin looks every inch a king, and not the sort who lounges about on a throne all day. No, Thorin is still a warrior, a king of old tales only told by warm firesides back in the Shire, and here Bilbo sits in his nightshirt, in this warrior-king's lap, his fingers still slick from the oil he'd used as he'd braided a love-knot into grey-streaked hair. It's a very odd notion for a Hobbit like Bilbo to conceive, and yet, he finds he's not so proper as to deny reality.

Perhaps he's turned a blind eye to the gifts of clothing, to the welcome he has in Thorin's bed, to the way he is so respectfully treated here. He supposes he's known, really, just what Thorin's been up to, and though he's not really protesting, he'd of liked to have been asked.

And besides that... “I fear you are far too great for me, Thorin.” Odder than anything else is that he uses this warrior-king's given name so freely and intimately, and this warrior-king uses his in kind. “Far, far too great for a Hobbit from the Shire.”

Thorin's expression softens considerably, as his hands cup Bilbo's face far too easily. Never before has he tumbled someone of a different race, not even a Man, so it's still a bit of a shock just how large Thorin is compared to him. For all that he is not that much taller, for which Bilbo is grateful, everything else makes him small by comparison, and he is not a small Hobbit. He wonders how ones like Dwalin manage it, and Dwalin has made enough jokes for Bilbo to know he's dallied with every race, including Elves, for all his insults against the fairest of races. He feels Dwalin would break a Hobbit with just his fingers.

He sometimes feels Thorin could break him without lifting one though, and that can be far more frightening.

“Never believe that, my little burglar.” His king breathes, with a kiss that makes Bilbo tremble. “You are a hero of Erebor. You are one of my Company. No one here finds you undeserving of the title I would gladly give you.” He chuckles again, a rich sound Bilbo is still not used to. “Were you truly unaware of my intentions? I find that hard to believe, unless you have been hiding your idiocy very well all this time.”

“You never said!” Bilbo snaps, all his awe eaten by aggravation at how he still laughs. “Am I supposed to be able to read your mind now, along with saving your life and the lives of those creatures you call your heirs?”

“Because you do not adore those creatures with your whole heart, of course,” Thorin says, quite seriously.

“No, I do not. Courting, you must be joking. How would I explain you to the Shire? How would I explain those two to the Shire?” He can just imagine that conversation. Actually, no, he cannot, nor does he want to. He would need Óin for the pains in his stomach alone. “'Oh yes, just going to pop off to marry a king, do beg your pardon'. Can you see that going well?” His Took cousins would laugh themselves sick, and the Sackville-Baggins might keel over.

Hm. There might indeed be an upside to this.

Thorin is frowning. “Are you refusing me now?”

Bilbo scoffs. “Please try not to make yourself ridiculous, Thorin. Of course I'm not refusing you.” The very idea, honestly, and he jokes about Bilbo being the idiot. “I'm just wondering if I can hide it long enough to get my things and make sure my dreadful cousins haven't auctioned off everything not nailed down, as they likely have already tried. Hopefully, my possessions have been kept safe by my friends. Including my tea set. I'm rather fond of it. It was my mother's, you know.” His fingers tangle in Thorin's hair all too easily, and still, he is amazed by what liberties he can take with this warrior-king. “My mother was a Took. I don't suppose you know what that means, in terms of the Shire. But Tooks have always been very scandalous, among the Hobbits. And now I have made the Baggins' just as scandalous, I'm afraid.” He sighs, a little put out, a small part of him desperately clinging to his respectability. “Running off to marry the King Under the Mountain, honestly. My poor father must be rolling in his grave.”

“He did marry your mother,” Thorin reminds him; he'd relaxed again against the headboard halfway through Bilbo's little speech, probably once he realized Bilbo was in no danger of disappearing. “Perhaps he's not as scandalized as you might think.” He's humoring Bilbo, and it's enough to set his mind against letting Thorin back under his nightshirt on this night. Maybe tomorrow, if he is very pleasing. Maybe. “Only a little scandalized.”

Bilbo is very resolved towards getting off his lap and going to sleep, only then he is doing that thing to Bilbo's neck again, the one that makes him weak at the knees, and he scrabbles at his king's shoulders as the great hands slide right back under the nightshirt, sure of their welcome, as always, to brace themselves at the small of his back. “My father would find you too forward, my lord,” he protests. “And far too tall. He would not like you at all.”

“Well then it is a very good thing my people do not require a parent's permission to court, isn't it? Especially not at our respective ages.” His king is very full of himself, and Bilbo resolves to at least not puff him up anymore. He's in danger of exploding if he does. “What strange creatures you Hobbits are, to not see the attentions of a king as an honor, and instead a scandal. I confess, I have never met stranger folk. Even Elves are not quite as odd as Hobbits.”

Bilbo levels him with a look, quite a feat, if he does say so himself, considering his current position. “I have given no official statement, you know. I could very well just leave tomorrow, go back to the Shire and my Hobbit hole, spend my days in my garden with my pipe, and never think of you again.”

Now it is Thorin who wears a hard look on his face as he eyes the Hobbit in his lap, and Bilbo meets it without fear. “Do not presume I am quite that foolish, Bilbo. You would not make it a month's into the journey, before you would return to my side, where you belong.”

Bilbo raises an unimpressed eyebrow. “Are you so sure of that?”

“Yes,” Thorin growls. “Because I would chase after you and carry you back myself, make no mistake.” He is being quite serious, Bilbo sees, and he can't help but laugh at his utter ridiculousness. It makes him so much more mortal, when Thorin is acting the fool, and so Bilbo laughs, and fists the ends of his nightshirt, pulling it up and over his head. It lands on the great fur spread beside the low bed, the white cotton golden in the firelight, hopefully safe from being trod on in the morning, and if not, well, he has others.

Thorin is looking at his naked body with an intensity that still makes his ears burn, for all he should be so used to it by now. “Are you just going to stare at me, or are you actually going to do something?” Bilbo teases, the hands on the small of his back still there, instead of lower.

His king is still watching him warily. “First you are cross, threatening to leave, then you are laughing and tempting me. Forgive me for being a tad suspicious, my love.”

It's too much, Bilbo cannot stand it, and he laughs heartily, burying his face in Thorin's shoulder to keep himself upright and not sprawled across the sheets. “You are absurd,” he says, when he manages to draw breath again. “Was I ever afraid of you? What a little halfwit I was, to think you truly fearsome.”

“I did once try to toss you over a wall, if you recall.” Thorin has the look of bruised pride about him, but it's little more than a sulk, and all Bilbo has to do is slide his hips forward so he sits chest to chest with Thorin to rid him of the dark cloud forming. His king inhales sharply, and finally, the hands move down to get a firmer hold on him. “Yes, I am very foolish, why ever did I think such a thing sensible?” He seals it with a kiss, as Bilbo's quick hands prove they are just as good at unlacing as they are at braiding.

The fire is big enough it needs not be tended while they go about their lovemaking, and when they are finished, Thorin rises to toss more wood in. It's more for light than heat, the great bellows down below heating the furnaces that keep Erebor habitable now back up and running, with no small amount of swearing and cursing whatever god's name first came to mind. In any case, the great bed is covered with a heavy quilt and a large fur, more than enough to keep them warm without a warming pan or hot stones.

He shivers when Thorin lets cold air back in as he ducks back down beneath the covers, the sweat cooling on his skin making the room too chilled for his comfort. “Hurry,” he whines, and gets the sheets lifted for his complaint, forcing more cold in. “You are awful.” He hisses, and turns away, curling into himself.

A large, warm body settles against his back, and tucks him in close.

Bilbo supposes he'll have to forgive him.

“What do Hobbits do, when they marry?” Thorin asks, yawning loudly. “Your hair is not long enough for marriage braids, and I fear if I ask it of you, you will refuse outright.”

Bilbo sniffs. “I am a Hobbit, not a Dwarf, and my hair will stay a respectable Hobbit length, married to you or not.”

“Peace, my heart, I have no intention of hiding the scissors and straight blades from you and your smooth face.” Thorin sighs, breath pleasingly warm against the back of his neck, and if Bilbo pushes back into him a little, well, they are engaged and there is nothing improper in this. “What is it Hobbits do then, to show marriage?”

Bilbo lifts the great hand spread across his stomach, and turns on his back in Thorin's arms. He's drowsy, but awake, and his blue eyes are very intent on Bilbo still, though the fire has banked from it's earlier passion to be something a bit more comfortable to warm his hands on.

He raises his left hand, and waggles his fingers. “A golden band, on the next to last finger. It is put on at the ceremony, and not to be removed again, unless one is fixing the plumbing or bathing or scrubbing the dishes, and that is only for precaution. My father himself had to replace his own two or three times.” Thorin takes Bilbo's much smaller hand in his, and studies the finger in question, making a circle with his thumb and index finger around it. “What are you doing?”

“Getting the measurement. Seems a simple enough piece. Only gold is allowed? No jewels?”

“No,” Bilbo says, shaking his head. “Gold is proper for love. Soft enough to bend, strong enough to not break from it, and rare enough to require effort to obtain, at least in the Shire, where it is not so common.”

“But it is common here, so is the sentiment the same?” Thorin asks, brow furrowed. “I could fashion it from anything, rarer metals than gold, set a stone worth more than the whole Shire in it.”

Bilbo sighs, and cups his face. “You are ridiculous.”

“I am in love with you,” Thorin corrects, turning his face so he may press a kiss to Bilbo's palm, and yes, it still makes his breath catch when he does such courtly things. “And it makes me behave in a very ridiculous way at times, yes.” He meets Bilbo's eyes, cradling his hand in his larger one, and asks, as though he wants to be sure, “You will marry me, won't you?”

Bilbo takes pity on him, but not much. “Ask me nicely.”

Thorin chuckles, and kisses his palm again. “Will you marry me?”

“Of course,” he says cheekily. “After all, I've had a king, and whoever will compare to that?”

Oh, he dearly wishes he'll get to see Lobelia's face when the banns are read.