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The Ponderings of a Hobbit and the Writings of a Bear and Balin

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Billana had never woken up quite so comfortably as she had that first morning in Bree. It started first with the vague awareness that her covers were unusually warm but she was far too satisfied to really care. Then her mind slowly realized that something about where she was wasn’t quite right. The bed was harder than usual, not at all like the soft goose feather bed she normally slept on, but that didn’t bother her in the least. Inhaling she found the smell....muskier than the smial was normally like it was a soil turning day, but with a hint of foreign spices and a faded scent of smoke.

Bleary green eyes blinked open slowly and her mind shifted into a more half-awake state, where she floated in being not quite awake but neither was she fully asleep. Her body, Billa realized was curled against something that was quite warm and reassuring. A few slow blinks and eyes sharpened to be greeted by the sight of a chest. At that her mind jolted into full awareness, quickly noting the arm the curled possessively around her waist, the heavy limb that could only be a leg thrown over hers, and the low rumble of air passing through the rather broad chest in front of her.

For a moment blind panic made the hobbit tense and become absolutely still, not even daring to breathe until the edge of a beard brushed her forehead. Puzzled, for Hobbit mean most certainly did not grow beards, Billana tipped back her head enough to glimpse the rather unforgettable face of Dwalin, son of Fundin. In a rush, last night’s memories entered the forefront of her mind, giving Billana more than enough time to feel her face warm over as she recalled all too well, her forwardness would’ve sent Lobelia running down Bag Shot Row screeching worse than a goblin during the Fell Winter.

Billa fought valiantly against the laughter that bubbled up into her chest at the thought of Lobelia as a goblin but lost the battle. Though she attempted to keep her laughter silent by pressing her face into Dwalin’s shoulder, her shaking must have awakened him- if his grunt was any indication.

“Billa?” He murmured, patting her hair worriedly as he peered down at her tiny body as it shook against him.

 “I’m fine…” She choked out, moving away from his shoulder so he could realize that she was merely laughing.

“Tell me you don’t wake this way every morning.” He groaned, voice a pleasant contrast against his gruff words.

“What? With a handsome dwarf wrapped all around me? I have to say it is an entirely new experience, though one I could quite happily get used to.” She said, manipulating his words with practiced ease as Old Took had taught her, during her secret visits.

Dwalin’s laugh, Billa discovered, was warm and full, vibrating deep in his chest before it roared from his mouth. “Aye, I think I could get used ta this as well."

Billa’s smiled faded into a look of curiosity as she looked up at her dwarf. “I almost didn’t realize it was you- last night.”

When Dwalin looked puzzled she used one of her hands and moved it back and forth over the center of her head, following the line of his signature braid. “No mohawk and you looked a little less trimmed from your descriptions in Balin's letters.”

“Oh.” Absently Dwalin released his hold on her waist, running it over his smooth head, ignoring the slight twinge of discomfort from his latest tattoos. “Less ta worry about.”

“I thought dwarves prided themselves on their fine beards and the neatness of them.”

“Tha’ we do lass. Many of the party will spend hours fixin their braids along the journey, but not me. My King bears only the braids that he must and his bear is shorn until he ends his exile, and so when I made the vow to protect him, I too removed my greatest pride and placed tattoos upon my head as evidence of that vow, so tha' til we regain our home I too will bear the marks of one in exile.”

Billa reached up bringing his hand back down and planting a gentle kiss against his scared and tattooed knuckles, before entwining their fingers together. “Balin too?”