Bilbo found himself waking slowly, comfortably nestled between a thick blanket and a sturdy dwarf. He rolled onto his back and gazed at the ceiling as he tried to decipher whether it was yet morning. The hobbit had grown up learning to tell time simply from the relative brightness or the position of the sun, but it became clear that such methods were unhelpful when living underneath a mountain. The dwarves of Erebor seemed to know instinctively when it was time to wake, leaving Bilbo almost entirely reliant on Thorin and the other dwarves’ guidance for keeping to a schedule.
He turned onto his side to look at his companion- Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain. Snoring lightly, the king looked younger in sleep, the creases on his faced smoothed in the comfort of rest. Bilbo thought Thorin an excellent king, but even the greatest leader could not shoulder the stress of being responsible for a young society and come out entirely unscathed. Nonetheless, being king was Thorin’s destiny, and successfully reclaiming his homeland had lifted a darkness that had followed him ever since Smaug’s first attack. He would never be as jovial as Bofur or Bombur, but the comfort of finally being home had allowed him to open up enough to make merry with his friends, to sing (and possibly dance, if enough ale was consumed) and celebrate the new life he had created for Durin’s folk.
Bilbo absent-mindedly ran his fingers across Thorin’s bare chest as he contemplated the strange life he found himself living. He had always imagined himself living in the Shire his whole life, likely never getting married. Somehow one evening and thirteen dwarves stomping through his hobbit hole completely changed the course of his life. The quest ignited within the hobbit a passion for the world outside the Shire, and accepting Thorin’s proposal gave him the opportunity to experience just that. Bilbo had been tentative at first- the idea of living across the map from the only home he’d ever known to live with a dwarf he’d known for but a year and loved for less frightened him out of his wits- until he’d seen in Thorin’s eyes a vulnerability and fear that surpassed his own. The dwarf made his proposal earnestly (‘If you would have me’, Bilbo could still hear, as if he were a treasure beyond the jewels of Erebor instead of a simple hobbit) and how could Bilbo have refused when he had before him a prince who had lost nearly everything yet still offered the last remains of his heart-
-“A dwarf falls in love only once in his lifetime”, Balin had told him softly, explaining Thorin’s initial acts of courtship. “And if he is not accepted, he is doomed to live alone for the rest of his life.”
And what else could Bilbo have done but take Thorin’s hand, worn from years in battle and in the forge, and lift it to his lips, allowing a soft yes to break the silence between them.
Bilbo was torn from his thoughts as he felt Thorin’s arm tighten around him, meaning that the dwarf had awoken.
“Good morning.” Bilbo said softly. “I hope I didn’t wake you.”
Thorin simply hummed in response, kissing the hobbit’s forehead lightly before leaning down to capture his lips. Such moments were Bilbo’s favourite, when he was simply lazing about with no major concerns on his mind. A Took he might be, but his Baggins side still appreciated the comfort of home, of a warm bed and a body to share it with. Thorin deepened the kiss and Bilbo couldn’t help but shift, crawling on top of him so that he was straddling the dwarf’s waist. He had a feeling that this morning would end much like the night before had ended (with his body sore and spent but satisfied, basking in the musk of sex and sweat as Thorin, surrounding the hobbit on all sides, gently ran his fingers through Bilbo’s light curls), and while somewhere in the corner of his mind he knew there was no doubt work to do, he couldn’t bring himself to care enough to stop.
Thorin let out a groan as Bilbo shifted his attention to his neck and collarbone, a deep reverberating sound that sent a wave of pleasure down the hobbit’s spine. Bilbo continued on his path downward, leaving kisses and gentle nips across Thorin’s broad and defined chest. He could feel the dwarf tense beneath him, grasping a handful of Bilbo’s hair as he grazed his lips across Thorin’s thigh.
A knock on the door caused both dwarf and hobbit to snap their heads to the side, instinctually facing the source of the distraction. Thorin groaned and allowed his hand to drop from Bilbo’s head.
“Damn it,” he muttered under his breath. “Give it a moment, perhaps they’ll think we’ve not yet woken.” When a second, more urgent knock came, Bilbo rolled over, reaching for his robe so that he looked at least somewhat decent- though he certainly had no qualms about making sure whoever was at the door was entirely aware of what they’d interrupted. Opening the door revealed a lightly-armoured dwarf guard who gave a quick bow upon seeing the king’s consort.
“Master Baggins, I do apologize for disturbing you so early, but I have an urgent message to deliver.”
“Yes, well, let me have it.” Bilbo turned to see Thorin step beside him, dressed only in his breeches (which he smugly noticed were quite obviously tented), reaching for the envelope the other dwarf carried.
“Actually-“ the dwarf paused momentarily, as though he feared offending the king, “It’s addressed to Master Baggins.”
Thorin’s gaze turned to the hobbit, who bore a look of surprise that morphed into confusion.
“For me? But, I don’t- I mean… who would be writing to me that it would be so urgent?” Bilbo had been present for a fair number of urgent messages, but they were always for Thorin, informing him of some crisis or problem. Besides the odd letter from family, the hobbit hardly received any mail at all.
“It’s apparently come from the Shire, my lord.”
Bilbo hesitantly reached for the envelope, still confused but with a growing curiousity. He tore it open, and as his eyes scanned the page he could himself growing faint. Thorin immediately took notice of the hobbit’s paling face and turned towards the dwarf still standing in the doorway.
“Go to the kitchens and inform the cooks that we will need our food delivered here but it is to be left outside the door- We are not to be disturbed.” The dwarf bowed and turned away, leaving Thorin to close the door and face Bilbo.
Bilbo had read all the words on the page, reread them again and then simply stared.
To Mister Bilbo Baggins (Consort to Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain)
It is with sincerest regret that we write to inform you of the accidental death of your cousin Drogo Baggins and his wife Primula. They leave behind their young son Frodo Baggins. While their possessions have been passed on to other family members, the matter of the guardianship for Frodo has yet to be resolved as Drogo and Primula made no mention of who they wished to take care of him should such an event occur. A suitable guardian has yet to be found as all of young Frodo’s nearest relatives have families of their own and are unable to take in another child.
Therefore it has been decided that, despite your unusual situation, as his closest living relative with a stable home and no children of your own, you would be best suited to take in Frodo.
We hope that this letter has reached you in a timely manner and that your response will be swift. Upon your arrival you will find the young Baggins in Brandybuck Hall.
Master of Buckland
He could hear Thorin asking quietly what was in the letter- so softly, as if he worried Bilbo might fall apart at the sound of his voice- and though he tried to form the words, none came. Instead he silently handed the letter to Thorin and backed into his beloved armchair, still reeling from the blow. It did not take long for Thorin to finish reading and he looked at Bilbo with an unreadable expression. Suddenly the hobbit realized the implications of what he’d read – if he were to take in Frodo, that would mean the child would have to live in Erebor, with him and Thorin. What would a dwarf king want to do with a hobbit child, and one only distantly related to his consort at that? Such a responsibility would certainly be nothing but an unnecessary burden to Thorin. Yet at the same time Bilbo could not imagine refusing, leaving the poor child abandoned already having already lost his parents. He wished he could believe that someone, anyone would have heart to care for the boy, but he too much about his own kind to have such faith. While hobbits were generally a kind and sociable people, they were quick to spurn those who deemed too different- at least when he’d discovered as much through experience, he’d already been of age to fend for himself.
Thorin had yet to say anything, which wasn’t entirely surprising. Bilbo recognized that he was giving the hobbit space, allowing him to speak first. Yet he had no idea where to begin because he could not begin to imagine what was going through the king’s mind. He lifted his eyes to meet Thorin’s gaze for the first time since receiving the letter.
“I… I do not wish to presume that the child would be welcome here.” Bilbo finally stated.
Thorin raised his eyebrows, an expression nearing surprise. “You mean to say you wish to take him?”
Bilbo took a moment to collect his thoughts- hearing the question framed so directly forced him in that moment to make a decision that could quite possibly change the entire course of his life.
“Yes. Yes, I do. I understand it would not be the most agreeable for you, but I can’t bear the thought of leaving my kinsman in need, especially one so young.” Bilbo was honestly surprised of the firmness in his voice. “Of course it would only be with your approval.”
Bilbo wasn’t sure how he expected Thorin to respond, but the dwarf surprised him by saying nothing at all. He took the hobbit’s hand, pulling him out of the armchair and gently leading him to the bed. There he sat them both down and allowed Bilbo to lean against his chest, running his hand through the hobbit’s hair as he finally spoke.
“You are right. Keeping the child here would certainly not be convenient, and I’m sure many would deem it unwise. A hobbit lad would be out of place here in Erebor, nothing more than a burden.” Bilbo could not help the feeling of his heart dropping. What else was he expecting? That Frodo could simply live with them as though he belonged there, as if he was the child him and Thorin could never have? But before he had time to respond, he could feel more than hear Thorin chuckling lightly. “I must admit, that was my natural reaction. Yet those feelings seemed so familiar- and I realized that was exactly how I felt when I first met you.”
Bilbo lifted his head to look at Thorin with wide eyes. Was he saying…?
“I’ve never forgotten how wrong I was about you. Now I cannot in good conscience allow myself to make the same mistake again. If it is your will to take in this child, I will not object. I have the utmost faith in you.”
Bilbo never doubted the depth of Thorin’s love and devotion, but to hear it spoken so plainly, as if the dwarf was simply describing the weather instead of accepting a life-changing responsibility nearly overwhelmed him.
“Well, then. I suppose it’s been decided.” He was suddenly struck with an image- of Thorin, himself and the hobbit child (Frodo, his mind supplied, his name is Frodo), carefree and laughing at nothing, a picture perfect little family. What an absurd idea, he thought to himself, letting out what he hoped to be a tension-easing chuckle. It was more of a hysterical choked sound, betraying the uneasiness he felt within. Bilbo’s body thrummed with tension and suddenly he was overwhelmed with the need to run, to do something because if he stayed still for one more moment he would surely explode. Thorin took notice of the hobbit’s flustered state and in one swift movement placed a broad hand on the back of his neck and brought their lips together for a long but chaste kiss. Bilbo’s shoulders sagged as some of the tension coiling within him was released. They remained, hardly moving, for a few moments until Thorin gently pulled away. Resting their foreheads together, the dwarf spoke softly against Bilbo’s lips.
“There are arrangements that will need to be made. I must inform the others of what has been decided, and you can start with writing a reply to the letter.”
As if suddenly remembering everything that had transpired, Bilbo regained his lost energy, nearly throwing himself off the bed and towards his desk. “Yes, yes of course! They’ll want a response, quick as we can.”
Dressing himself in the simplest of clothes, hair and beard yet unbraided, the king quietly exited their chambers as Bilbo sat down at his desk and pulled out an unused piece of parchment. It was only as he put the quill to paper with shaking hands that he finally had a moment to let a sudden bout of fear wash over him- what had he gotten himself into now?