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A knock on the door echoed through Bag End and Bilbo startled. Was it that time already? Was this already happening? He didn't have to do this; he didn't have to make this trip. Certainly he could be happy here, shut in his hobbit hole where there are no prying eyes. Spend the rest of his days in peace. He was still grieving, there was still so much time. Maybe he could be happy this way, maybe he could...

Another knock on the door and Bilbo let out the breath he'd been holding.

"Coming! Coming!" Bilbo hurried to the door. For a moment he debated opening it just to slam it on the wizard's face. But that would be rude! So Bilbo instead opted for opening the door and smiling at his friend.

"Ah, Bilbo, I was afraid you had gotten cold feet on the matter," Gandalf's eyes twinkled. Bilbo shook his head and forced a small smile.

"I will admit, I thought about letting my feet freeze over. But you are here now! Come in, have some tea while we talk!" Bilbo stepped aside and invited the wizard in.

"You have every right to be nervous, you don't have to do this. But know, my friend, that this would be in your best interest," Gandalf meandered to the dining room. Bilbo followed silently, feeling anxiety blooming in his chest. The kettle was already whistling on the stove, a signal that it was now time for tea. Hopefully it would soothe Bilbo's frayed nerves.

"It's just with all that has happened, maybe I should give...give it a chance. You know? My mother would want it," he was trying hard to focus on the tea, but his hands were shaking and he felt short of breath. Gandalf, bless his heart, came up behind him and put a comforting hand on the hobbit's shoulder. 

"Sit down, Bilbo. Let us discuss this over tea in cups, not all over the counter," Bilbo only nodded. He felt ashamed for not being able to keep it together for his guest. He abandoned the tea to the wizard and instead slumped into a chair at the table. Gandalf hummed while he worked, trying to fill the silence of the hobbit hole. 

"You have every right to be nervous Bilbo. We can go to Rivendell; you can be there amongst the elves instead. You do not have to travel all the way to Erebor," Gandalf puts a tea cup down in front of Bilbo, a warm smile on his face. Nervous hands happily cradled the cup, the warmth seeping into his palms. Bilbo gave the wizard a small half smile.

"I know Gandalf it just seems fitting to travel to the mountain. Maybe to Rivendell later, it's just...too close to home do you understand?" 

"No I understand; I just know you are nervous to travel so far out. And if you decide you don't want to do this Rivendell is closer. You'll have an easier time coming home," Bilbo silenced for a moment. Gandalf was right. The elves would maybe be a better option. His mother had always talked about taking him to Rivendell. But Bilbo had been too nervous. The Shire wasn't the best place for someone like him. His mother knew it too. What a shame. If only things were just a little bit easier.

"That's the problem Gandalf," Bilbo finally said. "I would get cold feet. I'd come running back with my tail tucked between my legs. Then I'd go back to being that weird, reclusive bachelorette. I would tell myself I could live like that for the rest of my life. The truth is I cannot be Mirabella anymore, Gandalf. I can't live here with my mother's shadow on my shoulders, urging me on. I decided to do this when my parents passed. When my mother held my hand and told me she wanted me to be happy. I can tell myself all I want that I'm OK this way but that's a lie."

Bilbo could feel tears welling up in his eyes. Gandalf reached across the table and put a hand over his friends' smaller one.

"It is your choice in the end Bilbo. I will take you where you have decided. I apologize for upsetting you. I want to make sure you are at peace," Bilbo pulled his hands away and rubbed at his eyes. A soft smile pulled on his lips and a sniffle escaped him.

"Besides, the dwarves of Erebor will understand the weird facial hair that runs in my family. Neither the hobbits here nor the elves of Rivendell or Greenwood would understand that."

"Aye, that they wouldn't laddie," Gandalf smiled. "Well, I should get a raven to Erebor and let King Thorin know."

Chapter Text

 Things were settled quickly. A letter from the mountain, an assurance that there would be rooms, furniture and the like packed. Bilbo found himself nervous. For obvious reasons, and less obvious reasons. The roads were clear, everything was calm on the roads. But was he ready to face strange dwarfs as they joined the caravan? He would be living amongst them after all. But these dwarf were here because Bilbo was paying them to protect the cart. They also provided overflow for the things that wouldn't into Gandalf's cart. 

Bag End would be left to Drogo and his new wife. Everything that Bilbo didn't need stayed in the house for them. It was only fitting; Drogo was a Baggins worth giving Bag End to. None of those Sackville-Baggins would ever have their claws on this place. 

At the end of the day, Bilbo didn't have much to take. His armchair, teacups, his books, precious knickknacks and the like.  It was a good start. His home was in good hands. And yet...

Gandalf had stayed with Bilbo in Bag End, helping him prepare for the adventure. It was an emotional time and Bilbo found his mind spinning. He was feeling more out of his body with the trip coming up. His voice too soft, his body soft in the wrong ways, too short, too soft, too soft, too soft, too soft, too-

"Bilbo," Gandalf knocked on the bathroom door, voice heavy with worry. "We are leaving soon." Bilbo hiccupped for a moment and brushed away tears.

"I-I think so. My apologies," Bilbo drew himself up off the floor and took a deep breath. When he pulled the door open Gandalf had a worried expression in his soft eyes.

"Do you have everything together you need, laddie?" 

"It's all by the door, my pack, what I need for the road," Bilbo murmured. 

"Good, we have a few dwarf here already and we're getting the last of your things strapped together. Your favorite chair will be secure and your books put away and secure." 

"Thank you my friend, let us not dally now," Bilbo gave the wizard a soft smile and padded past him to the door. He drew his pack off the floor and stepped out the front door. This would be the last time he'd look upon his house and he did not look back. There was nothing in The Shire for him now. 

***

The first few days of the trip were unassuming and boring. Bilbo kept to himself, the feeling of being around strangers too much. He felt like everything gave him away amongst the dwarf. He was too soft, too timid. Already a few members of the dwarven company had already insulted Bilbo's pride. They referred to him as "Mistress" or "Young Lady". His skin crawled and he had flinched at the words. He didn't speak up though, which did not help. He was so soft and reclusive, Bilbo cursed himself.

After the blow to his pride he opted to resign himself to hiding in Gandalf's card. The wizard was kind and patient and understanding to Bilbo's plight. It was quite nice to have someone address him as the proper gentleman he was.

"I worry I am doing this for the wrong reasons," Bilbo murmured one day. His hands fidgeted as he sat next to his tall wizard friend.

"Oh, and what would be those reasons?"

"I, just in my gut that it would be better off if I could just hide it all away. Like if I could just ignore it..."

"And what good would that do other than make you miserable?" 

Bilbo did not have an answer for that. He knew he was doing this for all the right reasons but the nervousness in his gut wouldn't stop squirming. He wished there was a spell for it, to change his body and make it better. But there were only temporary spells for that. Illusions of an idea. It would be a strain on his body and mind anyway. Even in a world with wizards it was not all perfect.

The journeys made in search of his dreams were also important. He had no home amongst the Shire folk even if he could swap his body. His parents were gone. The Shire was not known for being the most welcoming for anything odd and unusual. His mother had tried so hard to shelter her son, she loved him as her son. Despite her kindness and love it set them aside from the rest of the Shire. They became known as the reclusive, odd folk in Bag End. 

No, Bilbo couldn't stay at home, there was too much there. His mother wouldn't like him to hide away instead of finding happiness.

"I just wish I didn't feel this way," Bilbo finally said. The breath he'd been holding escaping his lungs. Gandalf glanced at him with a sad look behind his eyes.

"I understand Bilbo, and I wish there was something I could do to make it easier."

"You are doing so much already, my friend. I just want to be happy with myself. I wish..." Bilbo trailed off, tears prickling at his eyes. Gandalf rested a hand on his friends back and sighed.

"I understand Bilbo. You will get there my friend, you are so strong, you will see that in time."

*** 

Bilbo had wanted to adventure away from the side of his tall companion. Just to try and seek friendship with the dwarf of the company. But he did not feel confident. He was peculiar to them and he didn't share the love of gold and rocks and violence that they had. He stayed with Gandalf where it was safe. He smoked pipe weed and joked as they made the trip through Bree. They only stayed for a short time to rest and make sure their supplies were well stocked.

The elves of Rivendell were kind to Bilbo. That was probably because the Hobbit spoke to them in their own tongue. They were perhaps the kindest to Bilbo aside from Gandalf.  Bilbo considered maybe staying with them but he had already made up his mind. The trip was to Erebor, to the Lonely Mountain.

Honestly he  would be best off in the company of elves. Perhaps one day when Bilbo was more comfortable in his own skin he would come live here. But something about the Lonely Mountain called to him. Perhaps it was because dwarves were the closeted Bilbo would get to hobbits. Not as tall and willowy as elves, not as loud and boisterous as men, and not as naive as hobbits. Dwarves were the best likeness. He watched them at dinner, loud and cheery, singing songs. Perhaps rougher and coarser in their manners but Bilbo would adjust. He was going to be a wholly new person after some years spent in the Lonely Mountain. The dwarven kingdom would be his chrysalis. One day, comfortable in body and mind Bilbo would travel. For now, he needed to hide. The rocks would shelter and protect him, he knew it in his gut.

Once through Rivendell there was the miserable trek through the Misty Mountains. Thankfully it went over without much disaster. None-the-less Bilbo was glad to put the somber mountains behind him.

With the mountain range behind them, Greenwood was a soothing trip. The elves of the realm greeted them warmly. They were not as wonderful and welcoming as the Rivendell elves but they were polite. Bilbo was grateful for the kindness of Prince Legolas despite the fact that he had no need to be there. Surely he had things more pressing to attend to. Still, Bilbo was grateful for a kind face through the trip. Gandalf might've been grateful that babysitting duty was passed off to the elf. Bilbo did not voice this opinion though.

Lake Town was only another quick pit stop. Bilbo was grateful for it. It was infuriating to be mistaken for a child. It was up there with being mistaken for a lady. Even worse was being mistaken for a small girl. The absolute worst. 

Bilbo did his best to stay out from under the feet of the men and out of sight. The dwarves and Gandalf got just enough supplies to take them to the mountain. It loomed in the horizon, grand and foreboding.

Bilbo was both completely unprepared and completely ready.

Chapter Text

The king met the caravan at the gates of his kingdom. Bilbo found himself shrinking behind Gandalf. The king was so beautiful and it through Bilbo threw a loop. He had always had a soft spot for handsome lads but this was too much for his little heart. The king was stoic as he greeted the caravan and guided them through the gates.

"I hope your trip was smooth?" King Thorin stood a head and a half over Bilbo and the stern look on his face was accented by the streaks of gray in his hair. Bilbo knew he was blushing from his cheeks to the tips of his ears. He was a foolish boy.

"Surprisingly and thankfully so," Gandalf stepped in to save poor Bilbo from the gaze of the king. But fate would have no such luck as King Thorin's intense gaze was fixated on the tiny creature.

"And this is the hobbit that will be taking residence in my halls?" King Thorin raised an eyebrow and Bilbo felt like he was going to ignite under the gaze. Gandalf nudged the hobbit and Bilbo shuffled forward, bowing to the king; his king.

"Bilbo Baggins, at your service."

"Welcome Master Baggins," as Bilbo dipped back up from his bow he swears he could see mirth on the king's face. "We have a room for you. Gandalf made sure to emphasize that hobbits are creatures of the sun. So I made sure to have a room aside that will allow for some natural sunlight. I hope you will find them to your liking. We will get your things moved up there as soon as possible."

"T-T-Thank you very much, your majesty. I am honoured that you have put so much thought into it," Bilbo's face was heating up. He really wanted to be done with this whole conversation and to hide away forever.

"I must take my leave now," Thorin nodded curtly before turning on his heel. He barked orders at the dwarves as he passed through the crowd. Gandalf peered down at his hobbit, amusement dancing in his eyes.

"Quite a character, isn't he Bilbo?" Bilbo shot the wizard a death glare.

***

Bilbo loved the rooms. It was cozy and also somewhat away from the bustle of the commons. He assumed it to be part of the royal wing but Bilbo did not put too much thought into it. His things were moved into his quarters and Bilbo was thankful for the few pots he brought for planting. He needed some past time that didn't mean trying to leave his room. Bilbo didn't want to leave his quarters. He was nervous and didn't want to be in the public eye yet. 

He padded around the rooms, which were quite grand. Why on earth the king would offer someone like him such extravagant rooms was beyond him. He expected he should be paying for it, this couldn't just come out of kindness. Bilbo's pride would not allow it. 

But Bilbo didn't know his way around the massive mountain so maybe it was best to just...not. He shrugged to himself as though to dismiss his troubled thoughts.

A knock on the door startled the poor hobbit and for a second Bilbo considered hiding. Who could want him? It didn't sound like Gandalf. Heavens know where that wizard went off to.

Bilbo drew in a breath and made it to the door. It was a little heavy for him to pull open but not so much that it strained him. On the other side a bald and bearded dwarf was peering down at Bilbo. Again the hobbit resisted the urge to flee.

"Master Baggins I presume. Our Master healer would like to see you," oh yes, of course, he was here for a reason. This is why he had come all the way out to Erebor.

"Yes, of course," Bilbo stepped out of the rooms, allowing the door to shut behind him. This dwarf was as stoic as his king. Or at least not giving away any disgust he may have for Bilbo. The hobbit was sure he looked odd amongst them. His clear skin with freckles and golden curly hair. Everyone in the shire thought him a beautiful woman. And he thought them absolutely insufferable. 

The walk was quiet. But Bilbo did not look to start conversation. There was too much on his mind already. It seemed as though the dwarf wasn't much for talk either. That was fine with Bilbo. His voice often betrayed him, too light and soft. Granted most men in the Shire were soft and light but he was just...too much so. Curves in the wrong places, breasts were there should be none, a voice too much like wind chimes. Now here amongst dwarves with big beards and gruff voices he may never be enough. The thought made him shrink in on himself.

"We are here, Mister Hobbit," the dwarf peered down at him and Bilbo couldn't resist the small jump he made. Easily startled too. Maker guide him.

"Yes, of course."

"You can just let yourself in, Óin knows you're arriving," Bilbo nodded. He hesitated for a moment before letting himself into the study. He wondered if the big dwarf would escort him back or if he would be on his own.

"Ah! Our new resident all the way here from the Shire! Welcome! I am Óin, I am the healer of this mountain and I will be seeing to you. Did Dwalin give you any grief?" the dwarf, Óin, was someone Bilbo immediately liked. He looked like a grandfather kind of type and reminded Bilbo vaguely of Gandalf.

"H-Hello. Yes, my name is Bilbo as I'm you've heard. And Dwalin," Bilbo assumed that had been his escort. "wasn't much for talk but I am grateful. It has been a long trip."

Bilbo smiled, drawing his shoulders up and trying to keep himself composed. This was going to be it; this was the dwarf in charge of helping Bilbo fix his...ailment? He was still not sure how to phrase it.

"Ah yes, all the way from the Shire, quite a trip, and you have a rather curious request. Why you came all the way to Erebor is beyond me. You seem like you'd rather fit in with elves than us, but none-the-less I am happy to have you here. We do in fact, have a fix. It's traditionally for dwarves who want to grow a fuller beard but is also used in...similar cases. I will be watching your health over the next few months. It isn't every day that we get something like this," Óin was chattering on as he moved about his office. Bilbo felt so small. He knew this was something unusual but at least Óin was happy to do it. It was true, hobbits in the past that had done this opted to go to Rivendell. But Bilbo was going to be here. It was right.

"I am glad. I thought about staying in Rivendell. It just did not seem like the proper choice," his voice was soft and for a second he wasn't sure if the dwarf heard him.

"Understandable, we have our own reasons las-laddie," Óin caught himself. Bilbo's breath still hitched though. He shoved his panic down. He knew he had to expect this. It wasn't going to be perfect. "Today we will start small, stay on low dosage of the salve. You are smaller than most dwarves and I do not want you to get sick. We will have a guard stationed outside of your rooms just to be safe. If you have any bad feelings come up they will be sure to get you to my right away."

Bilbo only nodded as Óin gestured for him to sit. "I will be honest with ya laddie. I do not know how long it will take for changes to occur so you will need patience. It is not a miracle salve by any means."

"If it does anything I will consider it a miracle," Bilbo joked, his voice wavering only a little. Óin laughed though and Bilbo found himself more at ease. 

"Now, you can either roll up your sleeve or take your shirt off," Bilbo's heart skipped. Did Óin even know what he was asking? Bilbo would never...

"I-I-I can just roll up my sleeve that is fine. How far up?"

"To your shoulder, I need to see your upper arm," Bilbo nodded. It took significant effort to get it rolled up but he couldn't imagine removing his shirt. A dragon would have to light this kingdom ablaze before Bilbo would consider taking his shirt off. Especially in the company of a stranger. It did not matter how nice of company. Óin was patient though and only gave Bilbo a soft smile.

The salve was cool against his arm but Bilbo stayed put. The dwarf seemed pleased with his work. He moved away from the hobbit to jot something down in a notebook. 

"That should be that, I will want to see you in a week. See how you feel, re-apply the salve, and go from there. Dwalin should be outside to take you back to your rooms," Óin gave Bilbo a smile and the hobbit returned it. He felt light, like anything could be possible. He was actually doing this.

 

Dwalin was in fact outside and nodded at Óin before focusing his gaze to Bilbo.

"Ready to head back?" Bilbo nodded and fell in line behind the dwarf.

***

Bilbo was only in his rooms for a few hours before more knocks came to his door. Was it Dwalin? He didn't seem like the talkative type or the one to make visits. Could something be wrong? The hobbit moved from his comfortable chair and away from his book to the door.

He wasn't expecting the two dwarves with mischievous smiles. Maker guide him.

"Fili." The blond one.

"And Kili!" The brunette one.

"At your service!" Bilbo found himself impressed at their synchronization. He couldn't help the smile that crept onto his face.

"We heard there was a new arrival and looks like you're him!" Both of the boys were holding trays of food and his stomach grumbled.

"We weren't sure if you'd eaten today. No one noticed you in the dining hall so we thought we would bring you food as a welcome gift!" Kili was grinning ear to ear. Bilbo had in fact been too nervous to go find the dining halls and was in fact quite hungry.

"Thank you boys. I hadn't actually gotten around to eating. It's been quite the busy day. I do appreciate it. Come inside!" Bilbo held open the door and the brothers bolted inside. Well, Bilbo could only assume they were brothers.

"So, Master Boggins," Bilbo thought for a moment to correct him but Kili didn't seem to notice his error. "What brings you to our wonderful mountain? Uncle hadn't told us and you don't look like a dwarf!"

"Kili! At least let Master Baggins eat!" Fili elbowed his brother and Kili pouted. Bilbo had stilled. He hadn't thought of an excuse for why he was here and he wasn't certain he was ready to tell them the real reason. There was no need to.

"It's a personal matter," Bilbo said softly, taking the tray from the blond brother. He pulled the lid off and found himself face to face with a glorious meal. His stomach grumbled again and he didn't hesitate to dig in.

"We understand, Master Baggins. It isn't any of our business," Fili glared at his brother but Kili didn't look cowed in the slightest.

"But we are curious!" Kili waggled his eyebrows and Bilbo did his best to glare him down. Rather hard to look intimidating with mashed potatoes in your mouth though.

"But you understand if Master Baggins don't want to share this personal matter with you," a deep voice startled them. The trio looked up to find the king standing in the doorway. Bilbo swallowed his mouthful of food. It would be embarrassing to choke on a meal in front of royalty.

"Oh it's fine," the king locked eyes with Bilbo. The hobbit tried to curl into himself without being obvious about it. Why had he spoken up? The king was only trying to help. Curses.

"It is not their place to be prying after they stole food from the kitchen," the king's gaze moved to the boys.

"But uncle! Our guest hadn't eaten all day!"

"We just wanted to make sure he was fed!"

"You wouldn't want him wasting away!"

Their theatrics would've been amusing in any other light. But right now Bilbo could feel his anxiety worming in his stomach.

"Is this true Master Baggins?" The king's piercing gaze was now on Bilbo and his anxiety was now alight. He wished he could just disappear.

"Yes but I had been busy and I didn't know how to get to the dining hall. I didn't mean to cause any trouble!" He squeaked, feeling his face flush a deep red.

"It is no fault of yours Master Baggins, but of my sister-sons. They should know better. And they are to report to their mother immediately," the boys looked terrified for a moment.

"Please tell us you didn't let her know!"

"It would break her heart!"

"You've already broken her heart and given her gray hairs. Now go!" The boys stumbled over each other before bolting out the door. The king sighed and Bilbo was keenly aware that they were both alone now.

"Apologies, Master Baggins. I was going to have someone show you around but it seems the boys were listening in on me. They are young and still act like children," Thorin seemed unsure of how to continue. If he should let himself in or wait for an invitation. Could Bilbo handle it if he invited the beautiful king to sit with him? Would the king even want to? The hobbit could not imagine the king sitting with him. He was royalty after all.

"It is quite alright, your majesty. I am grateful for the food. I had wanted to eat but I fear I would get lost," Bilbo admitted. His hands moved to toy with his fork, anything to soothe his anxieties. He wanted desperately to avert his eyes but the king's gaze had him locked in place like a rabbit in a trap.

"It is just Thorin, if you must."

"Alright...Master Thorin," Bilbo tried not to stumble over the words. Thorin seemed pained for a moment but Bilbo didn't pry.

"Has Óin seen you yet?" 

"Yes he has."

"Good, he is the best healer in this mountain and we will see to it that you receive the best care for your..." Thorin seemed lost for words and Bilbo couldn't stop the nervous laugh that came out of him. Thorin narrowed his eyes at the hobbit.

"Sorry! No it is fine. Thank you. I do not know what to call it either. I suppose it is an ailment...of sorts," Bilbo gave a weak smile. He hoped it made up for the fact that he had just laughed at the king. For shame!

"It is an interesting position to be in, I wish you the utmost comfort. I will not pry into why you chose my kingdom over...other options. I will do my best to provide," Thorin seemed uncomfortable. Bilbo finally averted his eyes. He didn't know what to do, what to say. He was speaking to a king for crying out loud!

"Again, I thank you kindly. The rooms are wonderful and you have been a great host. I look forward to being here," Bilbo meant it. He really did. 

"Well, I will arrange for a tour tomorrow. I am glad you are fed. If there is anything you need, I made sure Dwalin will be outside for the rest of the evening. I will also make sure there will be a guard around the clock. In the case there any emergencies so you do not have to go far for help. For now, I bid you goodnight Master Hobbit."

"I bid you goodnight as well, my king," goodness! He had slipped and for a moment he thought he had made a grievous error. When he peeked up from his food Thorin was as stoic as ever. Bilbo nodded at the king, a small smile on his lips. The king then turned and let himself out.

Oh, the king was truly was as majestic as this mountain. Save this hobbit's poor heart.

Chapter Text

The day had only just started and Bilbo already found himself on the brink of tears. He had drawn up a bath, enjoyed the warm water. It had been all over pleasant. But after he pulled himself away from the warm bath, he found himself in front of the mirror. Bilbo felt uncomfortable looking at himself.

It was unnerving. Often he would stand in front of a mirror to try and find the best parts of his body. But this morning it was too much for his poor heart. The little comfort he would usually find in this ritual seemed to have slipped away.

His chest was not large by any means. But it was there. It took a tight undershirt to hide it then another layer over it. It always proved to be too much on warmer days. Bilbo hadn't thought about this before, a grievous mistake on his part. Gandalf had left and he didn't know what to do about it. He should've known better. Ignoring it was always his go-to. But that may prove impossible when his body starts changing. If it starts to change.

Bilbo found himself crossing his arms over his chest and taking a deep breath. If he could just ignore the obvious wrongness of his figure he was...OK looking. A smattering of freckles on his shoulders and collar bones. Chubby arms and a soft tummy. When he squinted his eyes and stood a certain way in the light you could see his light arm hair. Soft and fine in the light. And only in the perfect light Bilbo could see small hairs just under his belly button. His legs and feet had the most hair, soft and fine like the rest. Too soft.

Would it change? Would he get more hair? Would it be thick and darker? Did he want that? His father and both his grandfathers had dark, thick hair on their heads. They would also grow some fuzz on their face if they neglected to shave. 

Would he look like a Bilbo or would he forever look like a Mirabella? What did Bilbo even look like? He was standing here in front of this mirror but even then he wasn't sure. He did not feel like Bilbo this morning.  Lads had found him beautiful before he was ever upfront about who he was. The memory makes him ache. Would anyone ever love him if he changed his body? 

"You silly hobbit, why would they?" He murmured, hot tears burning his eyes.  No one will ever love you. There is nothing to love about you. You left the comfort of the Shire for some dwarfs. There is nothing for you here

A soft sob escaped his lips as he fumbled for the nearest towel. The linen was too large for him but it was soft, almost like a blanket. He wrapped himself up in it, trying to find some comfort as hot tears ran down his face. Bilbo had always felt alone in this experience and now, here in this mountain he was more alone than ever. How ironic it is that he now lives in the Lonely Mountain.

Bilbo just wanted to be happy and comfortable and loved. With his parents gone there was nobody to love him through this time. Oh, how he wished for his mother to be here. She would love him and comfort him. She would be proud. She had always wanted his happiness since he was a fauntling. 

A knock reverberated through his rooms and Bilbo started. Was that the tour guide? What strange dwarf would cart him around this sprawling kingdom? He hoped it was someone nice.

"Give me just a minute!" Bilbo called out. He slipped on his tightest undershirt, some comfortable pants, and a robe. Just enough to hide his figure so he could be at least decent to answer the door. He could finish up dressing after greeting his guest. He rubbed his eyes to dry any remaining tears, took a deep breath, then moved to the main door.

"Sorry for the delay I was just in the bath and--" Bilbo's words died on his tongue. Behind the door was his king. He was talking to the king in what is pretty much his underwear. His face immediately lit up bright red and embarrassment coiled in his gut. "OH! M-m-my king, I apologize. If I had known you were coming this morning I would've been ready earlier!"

The king looked at him, his face passive as ever. Small tinges of red visible on his cheeks gave away Thorin's embarrassment. Oh, Bilbo had messed up, making his king uncomfortable like this!

"My apologies for not giving you forewarning, Master Baggins. I will come back later if you'd like."

"No no no! I mean, you're quite fine! I just hadn't expected you is all, your highness. I can get dressed in just a few minutes, apologies again my king! Give me just a few moments!" Bilbo didn't think to give King Thorin time to respond. Instead, the hobbit pushed the door shut and bolted from the door. It took him a few moments of digging through clothing before he realized he had shut the door on his king! 

Panic alarms went off like distressed bird calls in Bilbo's head. He was such a mess. He had answered the king in completely inappropriate garb and shut the door on him like some kind of rude child. Oh, the King was going to be upset with Bilbo. Why was he even here? Couldn't he have sent a messenger to tell Bilbo? He couldn't turn around and apologize to the king then leave him waiting again.

Bilbo did his best to get dressed in a timely fashion. He put on actual pants and a comfy shirt over his undershirt. His hands brushed down his front to make sure everything laid flat. He hoped it didn't expose anything...treacherous. Was the the King aware of Bilbo's...predicament? Even if he was, Bilbo still didn't want his figure obvious to anyone looking. He was going to be in the public eye!

After confirming he was at least half decent, Bilbo made a beeline for the door. He took a deep breath before pulling the door open. Bilbo prayed the king wasn't too grumpy with the little hobbit.

"Apologies, my king! I hadn't meant to shut the door on you like that! I hadn't expected you and I was hardly decent and I-"

"Master Baggins, you are quite alright," the king cut him off, his face giving nothing away. Bilbo wanted to curl in on himself and disappear forever. "I just wanted to come by and give you the tour myself since there is hardly anyone more qualified than the king. If you would allow it."

The king? Guiding him through this mountain. Bilbo's heart skipped a beat.

"I-I would like that but I don't to keep you from anything important," Bilbo stammered. He was certain his heartbeat was audible. It almost felt like it was going to leap straight from his chest.

“Fear not Master Baggins, you are not keeping me from anything. I made sure today was clear so I could give you a proper tour,” oh, oh boy the king himself set aside time? Bilbo knew at this point it would be best not to argue, especially not with the king.

“Thank you, my king, I am honoured,” Bilbo stepped outside of his rooms and gave King Thorin a small smile. The dwarf nodded and turned his on heel and the hobbit followed after him.

***

Bilbo did his best to pay attention to where he was going. It was important that he knew how to get around his new home. But oh, his king was so handsome and Bilbo found it hard to stay focused on the matter at hand. When Bilbo first thought about the King of Erebor he expected someone…older and grayer. Thorin might have streaks of gray but it looks dignified on him. He was well built too, like he had been carved from the mountain itself. Bilbo couldn’t help but think about broad those shoulders would be under all the armour he wore.

The hobbit shook himself and focused instead on what King Thorin was talking about.

“The mines of Erebor are our pride, our joy. The reason we are the most prosperous dwarven kingdom.  Now, Master Baggins how does breakfast sound?” King Thorin turned to face him and Bilbo resist the urge to jump. The dwarf was stunningly handsome and Bilbo couldn’t NOT be aware of it.

“I would like that,” and as if on cue his stomach grumbled, agreeing with him. Thorin chuckled and Bilbo swore he could feel it in his bones. Maker preserve him.

“Let us not waste time then,” Bilbo only nodded, following the dwarf. He hadn’t been eating as much as he would at home. Bilbo chalked it up to stress and his anxiety about leaving his rooms.

This was part of the tour he paid close attention to. He would need to know how to get to the dining hall, he couldn’t just wait around for a King or his nephews to come around. It is also important that he is able to fend for himself as well.

Bilbo smelt breakfast before they even stepped into the dining hall. He deeply regretted letting himself skip meals, it was very un-hobbitlike of him. Thorin guided him to an open table and motioned for him to sit. It was weird to Bilbo that he wouldn’t just get up and get his own food, but he didn’t argue. Thorin talked to another dwarf and food was brought over for the hobbit.

“Aren’t you going to eat as well?” He asked, looking at his king. Thorin looked perplexed for a moment before nodding.

“You are right, I should eat something as well,” as if on cue another dwarf came out of the kitchen with food. Thorin sat himself down opposite of Bilbo. The hobbit could feel the blush that was creeping up to his cheeks. He was sure the king was aware he was being obvious in his starring. It was a little unnerving. But he was a well-mannered hobbit and simply ignored it. Perhaps he was missing some dwarven custom. Dwarven manners are just plain odd frankly and Bilbo wouldn't be suprised.

Food was more important to Bilbo anyway. Happily the little hobbit dug into the wonderful looking meal in front of him. Bacon, eggs, potatoes, it was all so much and all so good. He hadn’t eaten his normal course of meals and Bilbo was grateful for the meal.

“Have you been eating enough lately, Master Hobbit?” The dwarf finally asked as Bilbo finished his food. Thorin had only gotten himself through half his own meal. The hobbit flushed and a small laugh escaped him.

“I will admit I have not been eating enough. We have six to seven meals a day back in the Shire. I’ve been…putting off leaving my rooms if I’m honest, my king,” Bilbo set down the silverware. He grabbed the cloth napkin and wiped his hands clean.

“Seven?” Thorin seemed impressed for a moment and looked down at his own half-finished meal. “You are such a small creature, where do you even put it?”

Bilbo laughed openly this time. “It is a well-kept hobbit secret, my king. You’d be surprised how much food and ale we can put away.” This got a bark of laughter out of Thorin and Bilbo’s heart felt like it was floating in the clouds. This dwarven kingdom must feel blessed by the king’s presence.

“You are a curious little creature, Master Hobbit. I hope you are finding your rooms to be adequate?”

“Ah yes! Definitely. In fact, I would insist I give you some kind of payment for them. It is far more extravagant than I anticipated. I feel guilty for not returning some funds back to your mountain,” silence settled over the table. Bilbo wondered if he had just said something insensitive. When Thorin’s eyes narrowed, Bilbo squirmed.  He really did not have enough exposure to dwarven culture to know if maybe he did insult the king. It would not be the first time this morning if so. Oh bother…

“Master Baggins, I assume you meant not to insult me. These rooms and services are a gift. You are a rare kind of guest and as the King of this vast kingdom I will happily give you the most comfortable stay. It is no burden to our wealth here in Erebor,” Bilbo sighed and smiled softly.

“If you say so, my king,” Thorin bristled for a moment. The conversation stagnated, neither man certain of how to continue. 

“Does the Lonely Mountain perhaps have a library?” Bilbo asked, trying to move the conversation anywhere.

“Why of course we do Master Baggins. It is not too far from your rooms in fact.”

“Perfect, you should finish your food and I will badger your kitchen folk for tea. Uh, do not bother calling for help,” Bilbo stopped the king before he could motion someone over. “I am very specific about my tea and prefer to brew it myself.”

Thorin looked deep in thought for a moment before relenting. “Of course Master Baggins. I will catch up with you shortly.”

 

***

A full belly and a good cup of tea, the best prelude to a library visit if you asked Bilbo. They walked in silence but it was a comfortable one this time. Thorin seemed lost in thought and Bilbo was more than happy to just follow the king like a duckling to its mother.

“Here we are,” Thorin said finally. They stood before an ornate looking door. A thrill ran through Bilbo, he could only image how grand of a library this would be. The king pushed the door and Bilbo couldn’t help the gasp that escaped him. A grand library indeed.

“By the Maker it is beautiful,” Bilbo stepped ahead of the king. Bright eyes took in the shelves and what could be hiding there.

“Hello your majesty and hello to you as well! You must be our guest! M’name is Ori,” the younger dwarf had looked up from his desk perch under a pile of books.

“Hello Master Ori, I’m Bilbo. This is a beautiful library you have here!” Bilbo was still trying to take it all in, there were so many tomes and scrolls. He could spend the last of his days here and never get through it all.

“Why thank you! And you can just call me Ori, hardly the master of anything,” the dwarf chuckled and there was a thud! as he let himself down from his desk. “Is there anything you’re looking for in particular?”

“Not really, I have only my small collection of books. They were what I bring from the Shire.  I am glad there is such a selection here for me,” Bilbo had forgotten about his king. He was far too wrapped up in the wonders that the library had to offer.

“Well the organization isn’t the best but as long as you are gentle you should be able to reach anything. Granted you can read the language. A large amount of our collection is in Khuzdul. Although many of our scripts are in common. I am happy to help you find anything if you need it,” this was nice. Ori could probably be a good friend. At least Bilbo hoped. It would be good to have friends. With Ori standing closer Bilbo noted that the dwarf was closer in height to the hobbit. Where Thorin towered over him, Ori only had a head on him. He seemed short for a dwarf. It was nice having someone of his interests and near his size in this towering mountain.

“Well, Master Baggins it looks like you are in safe hands with our scribe. I must take my leave now,” Bilbo started and spun on his heel.

“Oh, my apologies King Thorin, I did not mean to forget about you!” Bilbo blushed and ran a hand through his hair. Really a nervous habit he needed to break.

“It is not problem. I am glad the library is to your liking,” Thorin nodded politely before exiting the library.

“So how are you enjoying your stay in the mountain, Bilbo?” The hobbit turned back to the scribe, who now had an armful of books.

“It is nice, the rooms are quite beautiful and I look forward to settling in. The food is good and I think the library is going to occupy my time. I look forward to it,” Bilbo gave a warm smile and Ori nodded.

“I am glad. Here, some books on dwarven customs. Iit may help you to adjust to our ways. They may not be great but we don't have too many in common. I can transcribe some into common as well. My treat. And, if you do mind, I would like to get more information on hobbits. What information we have is very limited and I fear inaccurate. If you don’t mind of course!”

“I would be more than happy to help out,” Bilbo cradled the books in his arms and gave a warm smile. “Well, we are quiet folk. We take pride in good food, good company, and the comfort of our hobbit holes.”

Chapter Text

 It was straight forward. Give this halfling a place to stay and medical attention. Master Baggins hadn't wanted to go the elves for help. That was reason enough for the King Under the Mountain. There was a swell of pride that this halfling would travel to a place so new to him. Over the Misty Mountains to Erebor, to Thorin's kingdom.

Gandalf had not elaborated on the medical matter. He only required that Thorin agree to house the hobbit. He assured Thorin that he would write to Óin on what was to be expected. That was easy, it was the least Thorin could do for the halfling. The journey would be long and the king would give their guest only the best.

So Thorin set up Master Baggins up rooms in the royal wing, somewhere with light. Gandalf had insisted on that point. And there was no reason to argue with the grey wizard. Thorin knew that from experience. In the days before the wizard and the hobbit arrived, Thorin wondered what a hobbit looked like. What kind of guest would he be?

In retrospect, there was no way the king could’ve been ready. Nothing to prepare him for the small creature Gandalf brought him. The tiny man that would burgle his heart right out of his chest. 

When the caravan arrived Gandalf approached the king. The halfling was hiding behind the wizard. Most likely uncertain of the whole ordeal. Thorin did not blame him. 

And, by Mahal the halfling looked...adorable. He had wide green eyes and honey curls that framed his face like a crown. Master Baggins seemed so out of place in contrast to Thorin's mountain. He looked like a grocer. The king raised his eyebrow. He could not comprehend the existence of something so small and so...radiant. Thorin's heart was thundering in his chest and he did his best to steady himself. The wizard looked pleased with himself and nudged Master Baggins forward.

 "Bilbo Baggins, at your service," oh Mahal. The hobbit's voice was soft and lilting voice. The bounce of his curls when he bowed to Thorin struck a fire inside the king. FuckThe hobbit was so small, only coming up to Thorin’s chest.

"Welcome Master Baggins," Thorin did his best to keep himself composed. Trying to force down the small grin on his face did not do him favors. Thorin hoped the hobbit did not think him disgusted. "We have a room for you. Gandalf made sure to emphasize that hobbits are creatures of the sun. So I made sure to have a room aside that will allow for some natural sunlight. I hope you will find them to your liking. We will get your things moved up there as soon as possible."

"T-T-Thank you very much, your majesty. I am honoured that you have put so much thought into it," the hobbit was blushing bright. It reminded Thorin of a ruby glinting in the light of the mountain. He had to leave immediately before he strode the hobbit and pressed kisses to his face. It was rude to not guide the poor hobbit to his rooms but his composure was crumbling. He was a proper king and not some clumsy young boy.

"I must take my leave now," Thorin nodded to his guest and turned on heels. A king doesn't flee mind you, and that was most certainly not what Thorin was doing. He waved his hand and barked orders to the other dwarfs in Khuzdul as he passed. The dwarfs disappeared almost right away, returning to their tasks instead of staring.

***

"Oh Thorin, this is lovely news!" Dís clapped her hands together and beamed at Thorin. "Mahal had brought you a gift indeed. How does it feel?"

"He is so small; he looks like a grocer. If this is Mahal's idea of a joke..." Thorin buried his face in his hands. His sister sighed, putting a comforting hand on her brother's shoulders.

"I am certain Mahal is not laughing at you, my brother. I am sure this hobbit will be a wonderful fit for you. You just have to give him a chance," Dís was rubbing circles on his shoulders and Thorin let out an uneasy breath.

"He is here to see a healer Dís, we may not have the time to--" Thorin couldn't help the tears that prickled at his eyes. 

"And maybe you should talk to him about it. Thorin you may not have time but at least Mahal has guided him to our mountain, to you. This hobbit chose the dwarfs over the elves, it has to mean something," Thorin could only nod, tears burning in his eyes. Dís let out another soft sigh and hauled her brother into a hug. This time Thorin didn't hold back and sobbed into his sister's arms.

***

He recovered from his heart-to-heart with his sister quickly. There were other matters to attend to. He wanted to make sure his treasure..the hobbit was taken care of. Thorin would send for Dwalin to take that task tonight. Thankfully he found the dwarf in the training room, overseeing his sister-sons' training.

"I was hoping I would find you here. I have a favor to ask of you,” Dwalin raised an eyebrow at his king.

“Well you better make it quick, once I am done here I have another task from Óin to take up. Something about guiding our Master Hobbit. Just to see that the poor thing doesn’t end up lost,” Dwalin then turned his attention to the brothers. Sharp orders from the blad dwarf and he boys tumbled over each other. Trying and failing to hide that they were most definitely not eavesdropping.

Thorin leveled a glare at the two before turning his focus back to Dwalin.

“I would like to see you posted at Master Baggins’ rooms tonight in case he has an emergency or is in need of something. I have yet to give him a proper tour of the mountain and I would like to make sure he knows the way around. Although it will have to wait until tomorrow,” Thorin was rambling. He brought his thoughts to a halt and Dwalin only nodded.

“Are you sure you have the time? I’m happy to take the halfling around the mountain,” Dwalin offered. He raised an eyebrow to the king, not buying it.

“I can find the time; I would rather guide Master Baggins around. I am the king after all. I want him to feel welcome in his time of need,” his friend knew something was up but did not push.

“Whatever works for you Thorin. I must take my leave now,” Thorin only nodded and turned to glare at his sister-sons. The glint in their eyes only meant mischief. But before the king could even get a word in the boys darted away. Luckily for them Thorin had no energy to chase after them. There were things to finish before he could promise time to the hobbit in the morning.

***

Dís found Thorin in his rooms, a small smile on her face. That look of mischief the boys got was something they learned from their mother. Thorin felt dread settle in his stomach.

“Good evening Thorin. How has your day treated you?” Of course his sister would not jump into what she wanted to say right away.

“What have you done?” No patience tonight from the king. He was exhausted from this whole day. Dís just gave another mischievous smile.

“Well it seems my sons have learned some unfortunate news about our little hobbit guest. They may have caused ruckus in the kitchens. I suggest perhaps intervening. Lest they overwhelm our tiny guest,” Thorin let out a heavy sigh. He ran a hand through his hair, closing his eyes for a moment. Mahal gave him no peace. Why would Thorin deserve peace?

“And you have done nothing to contain them?” Dís gave another sly smile. Thorin swore he could feel another patch of grey hair coming in.

“I was hoping that my precious brother could wrangle them up. I am awfully tired tonight,” another conniving smile and Thorin only shook his head.

“Of course, darling sister. What kind of brother would I be if I sent you after your boys when you have had such a long day?” Thorin leveled a glare at the younger, gold haired dwarf. She only laughed, eyes bright.

“I knew you could see reason, my brother.”

“But I am sending them to you for this meddling.”

“Only fair,” Thorin pulled himself up off his desk and rolled his shoulders. Dís gave him a reassuring pat on the back. “I also figured you would want to see your hobbit again tonight.”

Oh his sister knew him far too well. Thorin didn’t bother with another glare, only put on his coat and made his way to the hobbit’s rooms.

Now here he was, standing before the door to the hobbit's room. He was trying not to eavesdrop as the boys bantered back and forth. But the boys have no real sense did they? No they didn't. They were pushing for the reason for the halfling's visit. The hobbit had only responded by calling it a personal matter. Thorin found himself wishing the hobbit had been willing to disclose the information. Thorin wouldn't press him, especially if Bilbo didn't wish to share. 

But of course his sister-sons pushed. Thorin sighed. He pushed the door open and interjected. He did not want the boys to make their poor guest uncomfortable.

"But you understand if Master Baggins don't want to share this personal matter with you."

The boys startled, the whole trio looking ashamed. And Bilbo spoke up and Thorin found his eyes immediately snapping to him. The tiny creature was trying to excuse the twin trouble makers' behavior. But Thorin's eyes moved back to his sister-sons. They were now holding each other, trying to hide their mirth.

"It is not their place to be prying after they stole food from the kitchen," the king reprimanded. The boys spoke up, trying to defend themselves.

"But Uncle! Our guest hadn't eaten all day!" "We just wanted to make sure he was fed!" "You wouldn't want him wasting away!"

Something dropped in Thorin's stomach. Had his hobbit not eaten? The need to take care and shelter the halfling wormed into his chest. Thorin shoved it down and smacked it with a broom.

"Is this true Master Baggins?" Thorin tried to keep his tone light but he felt like he was gasping for breath. How was it that he had remained so passive over the years but this tiny creature pulled emotions out of him? Thorin was hardly a young lad won over by the beautiful dwarves who worked in the smiths with him.

"Yes but I had been busy and I didn't know how to get to the dining hall. I didn't mean to cause any trouble!" Bilbo's voice was high and light, music to the king. Thorin wanted nothing more to cross the room and hold him. But that would be improper and Bilbo hardly knows the effect he has on the king. He is not a dwarf and that means he does not feel the same pull that Thorin does. The thought cut through him. Thorin took a brief moment before turning to his treasured nephews.

"It is no fault of yours Master Baggins, but of my sister-sons. They should know better. And they are to report to their mother immediately."

"Please tell us you didn't let her know!" "It would break her heart!"

"You've already broken her heart and given her gray hairs. Now go!" A deep sigh left Thorin as the boys bolted from the room. And now it was just Thorin and this tiny halfling, who hadn’t given him peace since his arrival.

"Apologies, Master Baggins. I was going to have someone show you around but it seems the boys were listening in on me. They are young and still act like children," Thorin stood, unsure of how to continue. Would it be best to leave Bilbo to his meal or should he invite himself in? It was too late to offer to show him around the mountain now, the halfling would need his sleep. The hobbit was watching him with those beautiful eyes of his. They were emerald in color and Thorin could not look away. This small hobbit was the most beautiful treasure Erebor could've been blessed with.

"It is quite alright, your majesty. I am grateful for the food. I had wanted to eat but I fear I would get lost," the hobbit sounded uncertain.  Thorin couldn't help but catch on the stuffy title. Granted Thorin hadn't found himself able to call the hobbit by his name. Perhaps if he offered his first name...

"It is just Thorin, if you must."

"Alright...Master Thorin," the hobbit was close enough. And frankly, hearing his name in that wind-chime voice struck a chord deep in Thorin. He tried to school his expression, hoping the hobbit had missed the grimace he surley made. Not likely. Thorin changed the subject.

"Has Óin seen you yet?" 

"Yes he has."

"Good, he is the best healer in this mountain and we will see to it that you receive the best care for your..." Sickness? Thorin didn't know how to broach the subject. What should he call it? How sick was Bilbo even? The hobbit let out a laugh and Thorin felt rooted to the spot. It was a nervous but beautiful sound and Thorin squashed his feelings once again.

"Sorry! No it is fine. Thank you. I do not know what to call it either. I suppose it is an ailment...of sorts," a small smile adorned the hobbit's lips. Mahal guide him this hobbit would be the end of him. Perhaps he had already died and this was his punishment. For the second time, Thorin did his best to derail the conversation to something safer.

"It is an interesting position to be in, I wish you the utmost comfort. I will not pry into why you chose my kingdom over...other options but I will do my best to provide." 

"Again, I thank you very much. The rooms are wonderful and you have been a great host. I look forward to being here," pride swelled in the king's chest, pleased that the rooms were in fact up to par. He felt relieved that the hobbit had not been off put by the past few hours. Thorin would be wise to excuse him before the conversation went south. Plus, the poor hobbit would need to eat. Standing here and chatting would only keep Bilbo from his meal.

"Well, I will arrange for a tour tomorrow. I am glad you are fed. If there is anything you need, I made sure Dwalin will be outside for the rest of the evening. I will also make sure there will be a guard around the clock. In the case there any emergencies so you do not have to go far for help. For now, I bid you goodnight Master Hobbit."

"I bid you goodnight as well, my king," that title again, but this time it was different. The hint of possession was not lost on the king and he kept his face impassive. There was no reason for him to grin like an idiot. Bilbo gave the king a nod and smile. Thorin took that as his cue to leave. For the second time today the king made a strategic escape from the hobbit's presence.

With the door shut behind him, Thorin finally let out a breath. Dwalin had arrived early and grinned at the king. Thorin only glared and stalked back to his rooms.

Mahal guide him.

***

The next morning was not the best for Thorin either. Perhaps he would never get a break.

He made sure to let the council know that he was going to set aside time and made a beeline for Bilbo’s rooms. It was a little earlier than anticipated but Thorin couldn’t help himself. Bilbo drew him in like a moth to flame. Bilbo was his One. Thorin didn’t want to think about it. It was already too much knowing he had a One but to think he had so little time...

Thorin shook himself and instead knocked on Bilbo’s rooms. The hobbit’s voice came from inside and Thorin focused on looking at stoic as possible.

When Bilbo flung the door open Thorin was not ready. The hobbit had answered in a robe. His golden hair tousled from the shower  and a towel dry. His eyes red as though he’d been crying. There was so much for Thorin to take in and his heart ached. He wanted so bad to pull the hobbit close and ask what had him so troubled.

But instead, here Bilbo was, excusing himself for being improper and unprepared.

"My apologies for not giving you forewarning, Master Baggins. I will come back later if you'd like," Thorin was trying hard to remain passive. Drill some kind of sensibility into himself. But Bilbo was rattling on and before the king could process a response Bilbo closed the door on him.

Thorin couldn’t help the small chuckle that escaped him. He would wait. He had already set aside the time for his halfling. There was no reason to rush the poor little thing. Usually Thorin reserved this patience only for his closest friends and his family. Yet Bilbo already felt so close to him. But still they were so far away.

If only things were simpler.

Bilbo was back before Thorin could get too lost in his thoughts and was clothed this time. The tiny hobbit was trying to apologize but Thorin would not have none of it.

"Master Baggins, you are quite alright. I just wanted to come by and give you the tour myself since there is hardly anyone more qualified than the king. If you would allow it. If you would allow it,” Bilbo’s eyes grew a little wider and Thorin’s heart skipped a beat.

"I-I would like that but I don't to keep you from anything important."

Oh tiny halfling, there is nothing more important than you. Thorin couldn’t help the thought but he definitely would not be voicing it. 

“Fear not Master Baggins, you are not keeping me from anything. I made sure today was clear so I could give you a proper tour.”

“Thank you, my king, I am honoured,” again with the title. A possessive feeling jolted through Thorin’s body. The mighty king could only respond with a nod as he turned to guide the hobbit through the mountain.

Thorin started with the royal wing since it was where the rooms where. He pointed out the obvious things Bilbo would be familiar with.  Óin’s office, how to get out of the royal wing without getting too lost. He then guided the hobbit through the marketplace and down to the mines. While explaining the beauty of it Thorin couldn’t help but preen.

But Bilbo was being quite silent. From the feeling of eyes on him Thorin was certain that the hobbit wasn’t paying attention to what he had to say. More attention paid to Thorin's back than anything else. Was there something stuck to his coat?

“The mines of Erebor are our pride, our joy. The reason we are the most prosperous dwarven kingdom,” Thorin paused. Bilbo offered no response. Well, there was something Thorin saved for last. He had figured he would get this response. A creature that preferred gardens to mines would hardly have interest in gemstones. Maybe he could teach Bilbo one day the beauty they held. “Now, Master Baggins how does breakfast sound?”

When the king addressed the hobbit directly, the poor thing jumped. Thorin stifled the chuckle that tried to escape him.

The agreement of both the hobbit and his stomach was too much. Thorin couldn’t help the laughter that escaped him. He resisted the urge to grab Bilbo by the hand. Instead he moved to walk in front of Bilbo. He could not bear to look at the beautiful face of his hobbit.

On this leg of the journey Thorin did not feel the hobbit’s eyes boring into his back. At least the hobbit would pay attention for food. Maybe Thorin could use that in the future.

Thorin ushered the hobbit into the dining room and waved to one of the cooks. There was a nod of acknowledgment as Thorin guided Bilbo to a table. Once seated the king took the opposite chair. Praise be to Mahal, there was food ready for Bilbo almost immediately. Thorin wondered if the tiny thing was eating enough.

“Aren’t you going to eat as well?” The hobbit was looking at him from across the table and Thorin pulled himself out of his thoughts.

“You are right, I should eat something as well,” one of the kitchen dwarfs heard him. There was a plate of food ushered out for the king as well before he could call someone over.

But Thorin couldn’t draw his attention away from the tiny halfling. He just couldn’t stop drinking in every detail of this tiny creature. His beautiful curls, how he seemed to radiant life and joy. His cheeks were turning that beautiful shade of red again. Thorin noted that it crept all the way up to the points of Bilbo’s ears. What a shame Mahal would take him before his time.

Thorin pulled himself away from the morbid thoughts and forced himself to focus on his meal. But his attention was brought back to the hobbit by the sound of silverware on an empty plate. Thorin raised his eyebrow at the hobbit and he found himself voicing his earlier thought.

“Have you been eating enough lately, Master Hobbit?” 

“I will admit I have not been eating enough. We have six to seven meals a day back in the Shire. I’ve been…putting off leaving my rooms if I’m honest, my king,” by Mahal. Something in Thorin twisted. That was not acceptable, Bilbo needed more meals if he were to keep his health as good as it could be.

But the fact that something so small could put away more food than even he was baffling.

“Seven? You are such a small creature, where do you even put it?” And, oh. Bilbo’s full and beautiful laugh filled the dining area. Thorin felt like a blessed dwarf to hear such a wonderful sound.

“It is a well-kept hobbit secret, my king. You’d be surprised how much food and ale we can put away,” Thorin laughed openly. He couldn't resist joining his hobbit in the merriment of the moment.

“You are a curious little creature, Master Hobbit. I hope you are finding your rooms to be adequate?”

“Ah yes! Definitely. In fact, I would insist I give you some kind of payment for them. It is far more extravagant than I anticipated. I feel guilty for not returning some funds back to your mountain,” oh Bilbo. That was definitely not acceptable. His One, his heart, his other half, the part that Mahal forged for him should be not feeling indebted to Thorin. This wonderful and beautiful creature should be enjoying the last of his days in luxury.

“Master Baggins, I assume you meant not to insult me. These rooms and services are a gift. You are a rare kind of guest and as the King of this vast kingdom I will happily give you the most comfortable stay. It is no burden to our wealth here in Erebor,” Thorin smiled . He did not want to the hobbit to think himself a burden. It was not a problem in the slightest.

“If you say so, my king,” oh that title again, Bilbo was truly and fully going to be the end of him. Thorin was such a possessive dwarf. “Does the Lonely Mountain perhaps have a library?”

That did pull Thorin back to the reality of the situation.

“Why of course we do Master Baggins. It is not too far from your rooms in fact.”

“Perfect, you should finish your food and I will badger your kitchen folk for tea,” Thorin moved to get up. The hobbit continued on, putting his hands up to stop the king. “Uh, do not bother calling for help. I am very specific about my tea and prefer to brew it myself.”

Thorin scowled for a moment before agreeing. He assured the hobbit he would catch back up in the kitchens.

***

 The library was their last stop. Thorin had other matters to be attending to. As much as he would like to he couldn’t spend the rest of the day admiring the hobbit. But this was the best note to end on. The audible gasp of the hobbit was worth the time spent dwelling.

Thorin introduced the halfling to the Master Scribe. The two seemed to click immediately and jealousy reared up in Thorin. The king did his best to shove it down. Bilbo would need friends in this mountain other than one grumpy king.

 “Well, Master Baggins it looks like you are in safe hands with our scribe. I must take my leave now,” Thorin interjected and Bilbo startled again. It was endearing how the hobbit got lost in other tasks. Easily startled, squeaked a lot, and seemed nervous around the clock. The hobbit was more like a bunny than anything else.

“Oh, my apologies King Thorin, I did not mean to forget about you!” And how the little bunny blushed. A hand through his golden locks was too much and Thorin needed out.

“It is not problem. I am glad the library is to your liking,” Thorin nodded before making exiting the library. He hoped Bilbo was too lost in his books to notice how the king left the rooms. How unfair for the hobbit to make him feel like this.

Once out of the library Thorin buried his face in his hands and sighed to himself. This was going to be a long adventure. Hopefully the hobbit would be comfortable in these halls. How blessed Thorin was that his One had found him. Perhaps it is best to have at least known than to have never found it.

But for a moment Thorin considered it a curse. How could Mahal grant him a wonderful gift only to tear it away? It seems as though Thorin may not even be able to let his hobbit know. A burden Thorin would carry for his life while the hobbit faded from this life.

Oh gods guide him. He was not a strong enough dwarf for this. 

Chapter Text

Bilbo's found his last few weeks in the mountain surprisingly pleasant. He was finally adjusting to everything and was even beginning to feel confident. His second meeting with Óin went without a hitch. The healer had decided that since Bilbo had yet to keel over that he was going to up the amount of salve he gave Bilbo. 

So Biblo got a slap on the arm, a grin from the older dwarf, and a pat on the back. The hobbit considered it a success.

Nothing had changed yet body wise but Bilbo found himself more confident and happy. Going down to the dining hall to eat didn't make him anxious. He ate seven good meals a day and it had done wonders for his mind and body. Eating enough was a big deal to Bilbo. Tea time was also soothing. He had no problem sneaking into the kitchens late at night when he couldn't sleep and making himself a cup. 

And thankfully Bilbo was not alone in this mountain. Ori was a wonderful friend. The hobbit missed that so much and was glad they clicked as soon as they did. It felt good to have that familiarity. The young dwarf loved translating for Bilbo and was quick and efficient about it. It seemed as though Bilbo would never run out of things to read. The scribe had even found the time to teach Bilbo to knit. This became one of the hobbit's favorite past times. 

The repetitive actions involved in knitting was soothing. Just as calming as a cup of tea. Bilbo had even found a way to read while knitting small squares. It was easy to do without looking once he had gotten good at them. The same back and forth motions over and over. It became a muscle memory in just a few days of practicing.  Plus the little squares could be undone with one easy motion, meaning he didn't even use up yarn. Bilbo used the same beautiful golden yarn he had found again and again. It was the perfect length and Bilbo loved it.

 

Then there was Thorin.

The stoic king was still an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Bilbo wasn't certain if they were friends or if the king was just being polite. Did he act out of kindness or courtesy? Bilbo did not know for the life of him and it drove the little hobbit mad. Was he reading too far into Thorin's actions or not far enough? 

There had been one night the king had come up with teacups and all the makings for tea. He looked almost...hopeful. Bilbo still didn't know what to make of that, even after mulling it over.

But after the initial weird and uncomfortable night it became a ritual. Thorin would come upstairs and Bilbo would open the door. Sometimes the two would make small talk. Other times they sat in relatively comfortable silence.

Regardless, Bilbo appreciated the company. It was a comfort knowing that if he ran into any issues Thorin would be there at night to help him out. He would also admit to enjoying the view. Thorin wasn't handsome in a way he would've considered back in the Shire. But here he fit in perfectly. As beautiful and sturdy as the mountain itself. 

Of course Bilbo would have a wee bit of a crush on the most unobtainable person in this forsaken rock. Bilbo was helpless. There was no saving him.

This ritual had gone on for a few nights now. They still danced around the issue of why Bilbo had traveled so far out to the mountain. But the hobbit didn't feel like there was a need for Thorin to know. It wasn't important or at least didn't feel important. Besides, Thorin never asked outright. No harm, no foul. Maybe Thorin didn't even want to know. 

Some nights Bilbo would look into his tea and consider bringing it up. He wanted someone to be excited with. But he hadn't confided in Ori whom Bilbo considered his dearest and closest friend. By that logic there wasn't any reason to drag the king into it. Bilbo still didn't know if they were friends or if the king was just courteous. Deep down Bilbo hoped Thorin considered them friends. He didn't want to believe that Thorin saw him as a pity case. A pet project.

Bilbo shoved those thoughts deep down where they would never see the light of day. 

 

And that's how Bilbo found himself knitting Thorin gloves. He wanted to give Thorin a gift of appreciation. Nothing quite like a handmade gift as a gesture of thanks. And while he wasn't particularly great at knitting he wasn't bad either.

When the idea came to him Bilbo went down to the market in search of the perfect color of yarn for his king. There was a stall run by a nice dwarf lass. This  stand had the most beautiful yarn and some days there were even exotic and wonderful colors. Bilbo loved those the most. But today he needed a specific shade of blue.

The king wore a royal blue color in all his outfits. If it wasn't an obvious part of a shirt or coat, it was an accessory. If Bilbo was honest it was a beautiful color on the king. Although there wasn't anything that wasn't beautiful on that dwarf. That color though, it brought out the striking blue of Thorin's eyes . Oh how Bilbo loved those eyes. He wanted nothing more than to get lost in them. 

Bilbo shook himself and returned his thoughts to the matter at hand. He looked over the selection with a careful eye while making small talk with the dwarf. It was a pleasant chat and she was excited about her newest exotic colors. But again, Bilbo had eyes only for the various hues of blue. 

When he spotted that deep, rich color he scooped it up immediately. It felt wonderful to hold it in his hands. He had hardly realized how muchhe had associated the color with Thorin. It almost felt like holding a piece of the king in his hands. The color was a near perfect match. 

Whether this blue was the king's favorite color or the "official royal color" Bilbo did not know. He hoped Thorin would appreciate the sentiment nonetheless, even if he never wore them. And Bilbo wouldn't blame the king if he decided to not wear them. It's the thought that counts. Or at least Bilbo told himself.

So Bilbo bought that color, skipping on the other colors for now. He thanked the lass and paid just a little extra. If she noticed, she didn't point it out. Bilbo was just so thankful she had the color. By inheritance he was rich and here he had hardly need for his coin. It felt good to give back. Especially since Thorin would have none of it.

After tucking the purchase into his waistcoat pocket, Bilbo hurried to the library. He wanted Ori's help on figuring out how the pattern would work out.

The hobbit had already talked to the scribe about Thorin's visits. The boys loved talking back and forth about what the king could want. Ori, being a romantic, was convinced that the king was smitten with Bilbo. That he was so drawn by the hobbit that he wanted nothing more than to be around him. Bilbo had laughed and shook his head. He assured the scribe that if anything Thorin was being merely polite. Just wanting to make sure that the hobbit was comfortable.

Once in the library, Ori peeked up from his stack of books and beamed at Bilbo.

"Hello! What fine news do you have for me today?" The young dwarf hopped down from his seat and to Bilbo. They hugged before Bilbo showed off the beautiful yarn he'd found.

"I wanted some help figuring out how to turn this into gloves. I wanted to show Thorin how much I appreciate his kindness by making him something. This seems to be the same color he wears all the time so I figured it would be a good match," Bilbo smiled. Ori had taken the yarn and was turning it over in his hands.

"What a wonderful idea! I would make sure to tell the king it is specifically a friendship gift though."

"Why is that?" Bilbo looked confused for a moment. Ori had an odd expression on his face as he thumbed the yarn.

"Making the king something with your own hands and presenting it to him is often the first step in courting. I would not want you two to end up hurting your friendship. Especially over an avoidable miscommunication," Ori mused. Then, he looked at Bilbo and grinned. "Unless you are planning on courting the dwarf."

Bilbo laughed openly at that notion. 

"Hardly! He is a king after all. I'm just some hobbit. He could have anyone," Bilbo took the yarn back from the scribe. The hobbit wished he had the kind of courage to do that. But their friendship was tentative at best and Bilbo did not wish to scare the king away. "I do appreciate the heads up though."

Ori only nodded.

"Glad to help. Now let's make this yarn into some gloves for your king!"

***

It took Bilbo a few days to finish making the gloves. He and Ori agreed that fingerless gloves would be best. That way, if the king decided to wear them, it wouldn't interfere with his work. 

The hobbit couldn't help his excitement when he finished them. His main projects had been the squares and a scarf. The scarf was really just a long square. Now that it was finished, Bilbo couldn't help the swell of pride at finishing such a project. He hoped Thorin liked them.

Bilbo had thought about wrapping them up in some paper as a kind of gift wrap. The idea seemed a little complicated for a friendship gift. And one that didn't even fall on a birthday. Instead the hobbit tucked them into an inside pocket in his waistcoat. 

He spent the rest of his day curled up in his favorite armchair reading. The fireplace crackled, helping soothe Bilbo's nerves. He was going to give them to the king tonight and he didn't have a whole lot of time before that time rolled around. Hopefully this wouldn't be an insult to the king. Ori had assured him that as long as he made it clear it's a friendship gift as a thank you, it should not be an issue. 

A knock on the door pulled Bilbo out of his thoughts. That would be the king. For a moment Bilbo wondered if maybe he should just hold off on the gift. But no, tonight would be the night. There was reason to delay it. It was just a gift to someone who was a friend.

Bilbo answered the door with a warm smile.  Thorin was cradling a tray as usual and returned Bilbo's smile with his own.

"Good evening Master Hobbit," Thorin steeped inside as Bilbo held the door.

"A good evening to you as well, my king," Bilbo pulled the door shut behind the king. Thorin made himself at home right away. He set the tray down on the table and sat down.

Originally there hadn't been a table in the sitting room. The first night with Fili and Kili involved a desk and the mischievous brother standing. Then that first night with Thorin there was impromptu moving of furniture. Bilbo later just commissioned help from Dwalin to get two chairs and a table up to the room. It also proved to be a nice place to Bilbo to eat meals if he wasn't eating them down at the dining hall.

Bilbo took the seat across from the king and occupied himself with his own tea makings. Thorin took that as a sign to figure out his as well. At first the king had been dreadful at making himself tea. Bilbo had helped walk him through it. It seemed now that he was finally getting the hang of it and Bilbo was proud of him.

It was now or never on gift giving. If Bilbo sat here for any longer he was going to get cold feet.

"I have a gift for you," Bilbo piped up. Thorin looked up from his tea with a look on his face the hobbit couldn't place. Bilbo swallowed his anxiety and kept talking. "As a thank you. For your kindness and being my friend. Er well, I think we are friends. I consider you my friend."

Bilbo stopped himself from rambling and instead fished the gift out of his waistcoat. The gloves were warm from being hidden away all day. The hobbit unfurled them and placed them in front of the king. Thorin got another look on his face but only smiled.

"I consider you my friend as well, Master Baggins. In fact, if we are friends, I would prefer you address me as Thorin. No need for titles."

"Alright Thorin. In that case, enough with this Master Hobbit business. It is just Bilbo to you," Thorin smiled again, picking up the gloves. He turned them over in his hands, examining them closely. Bilbo hoped they were up to par for a king. 

"These are nice. Where did you get them?"

"I made them myself," Thorin looked surprised at this.

"I did not know you knew how to knit."

"Ori taught me. I figured it would be appropriate to make you something myself since you have been kind to give me these rooms. You'll hardly accept my coin anyway," Bilbo laughed. Thorin got another warm smile on his face before trying them on. 

"They are a near perfect fit. Did you pay someone to get measurements?" Thorin wiggled his hands, testing the feel.

"It was a lucky guess," Bilbo flushed and held his tea. The hobbit would not admit to having spent too much time admiring Thorin's hands. He would also rather eat his own foot than tell Thorin he thought a lot about how it would be to hold the king's hand. 

"They are marvelous. I am grateful for the time it must've taken you to make them," Thorin turned his attention back to his tea. "The color is also wonderful. It has been my favorite color for a long time."

So it was a favorite color. Bilbo tucked that information away for later usage. 

They spent the rest of their tea time in silence. Bilbo loved how his handiwork looked on the king. The hobbit hoped he would wear them often. 

"I must take my leave now. I have an early morning tomorrow and I will need rest. I thank you again for the gift. Sleep well, Bilbo," hearing his name in the dwarf's voice sent chills down Bilbo's spine.

"Of course. The least I could do. You as well, Thorin," the king smiled warmly before slipping out the door with the tray. Bilbo couldn't be more smitten.

Chapter Text

Bilbo ran a hand through his hair, fussing to himself. It was starting to get too long. His hair had always grown too fast and now it hung just below his collarbone. Shoulder length he could deal with but letting it get this long was troublesome.

It made him feel like a girl.

The hobbit shuddered at that thought.

“What’s wrong Bilbo?” Thorin asked, looking up from his cup of tea.

“I need to cut my hair.” Bilbo mumbled. “It’s getting way too long.”

Across from him Thorin made a noise Bilbo couldn’t quite place. Bilbo wonders if he’s said something wrong.

“By Mahal Bilbo! Why would you want to cut your hair?” Thorin tries, and fails, to hide the look of horror that comes over his face. Bilbo runs his hand through his hair again and stares down at his tea.

“It’s not common for hobbits to grow out their hair this long. It gets in the way.” Bilbo shudders to himself. The king’s expression changed, this time he looked thoughtful.

“Have you noticed how no one in the mountain has short hair?” Bilbo thought about it for a moment. He looked up this time and studied his king. How had he not realized it before? Thorin wore his hair in two elegant braids that framed his face. Bilbo still could not get over how gorgeous he was. “It is unheard of to cut your hair unless you are deeply shamed.”

There had only been a few instances where Bilbo had seen braids at home. That was on cute lasses.

But here it’s different.

“I can help you braid them,” Thorin offered. His voice sounded almost…uncertain. Bilbo certainly wouldn’t be able to do them himself if he was honest.

“I would appreciate that a lot Thorin.” Bilbo smiled. Thorin seemed startled for a brief moment before giving him a small smile.

“And I will make you your own beads.”

“Oh! It’s honestly not that big of a deal!” Bilbo fussed, fiddling with his teacup.

“Nonsense, you made me beautiful gloves.” Bilbo was still not over the fact that Thorin had been wearing his gloves every time they met. It made his heart do flips in his chest. “And I would love to give you a friendship gift in return.”

“I’m so flattered you actually wear my gloves. I didn’t think that were that great.” Thorin looks appalled for a moment before reaching out and touching Bilbo’s hand. Bilbo’s heart jumps to his throat. He’s certain his face is flushed bright red. Thorin is practically holding his hands.

“Bilbo.” Thorin’s voice is soft and Bilbo is certain he’s going to melt. “The gloves are beautiful.”

The moment is so intimate. Bilbo feels his face flushed hot. It was almost too much.

“Besides, I smith in my free time. It should be no problem to get the beads done in a few days.” Thorin runs his thumb over the back of Bilbo’s hand.

“I don’t know if I can survive a few days of this.” Bilbo hopes his voice doesn’t sound too strained. His heart is thudding so hard and loud. He’s afraid it’s going to beat right out of his chest.

“Do not fret. I have an idea.” Thorin pulls his hand away and Bilbo almost reaches out to grab it. Thorin unclasps both of his beads and runs his hands through the braids to untangle them. The hair is even wavier than the rest and Bilbo is in shock. It’s beautiful and Bilbo resists the urge to reach out and touch it. It’s so messy and wild and Bilbo cannot help but imagine how amazing Thorin’s hair would be after a good fuck.

Bilbo shakes the thought out of his mind, his face threatening to burn him alive. He’s certain the blush has reached his ears. Thorin can probably tell. Bilbo wants to disappear.

Instead the king gets up from his seat and moves into Bilbo’s personal space. Bilbo had admired Thorin’s eyes for a while, but up close Bilbo cannot help but actually see how brilliant the blue is. Thorin moves Bilbo’s chair with ease, adjusting the hobbit so he can get to his hair better.

Then Thorin touches Bilbo’s hair. It's too much. His calloused and strong hands are so delicate and they run through Bilbo’s curls with ease.

Bilbo cannot help but close his eyes. Thorin’s face was too much to take in along with the feeling of his hands in Bilbo's hair.

The dwarf hums, his hands working the curls into manageable braids.

“A shame I did not bring a brush. Your curls are difficult. But it is not impossible.” Bilbo only hums an acknowledgement.

“Your hair is so beautiful.” Thorin’s voice is quiet. Bilbo wouldn’t have heard it if the king hadn’t been so close. He wonders if the king even meant to say it aloud. There is a small stutter in movement but Thorin recovers.

There is another small pause as Thorin recovers a bead from a pocket. He fastens it to the braid and lets go. The bead falls back onto Bilbo’s cheek, the cool metal a stark contrast to his hot skin.

Bilbo still has to sit through the second braid. He is not sure if his heart can handle much more.

But he does. Bilbo’s eyes remained closed, listening to Thorin hum as he works. He soaks in the wonderful feeling of Thorin’s hands. Part of him wants this moment to never be over.

Another bead is clasped and the metal again rests against Bilbo’s cheeks. His eyes flutter open and Thorin has a look on his face. The hobbit couldn’t place it to save his life.

It’s almost as if he’s being punished. Thorin reaches out and grabs Bilbo’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. He tilts Bilbo's face up, admiring his handiwork. Bilbo cannot help the small squeak that leaves him. Thorin’s eyes are taking in everything. The braids and Bilbo’s face. He’s certain he’s going to burn the king's hand if held too long.

“Ah, they are even. I was worried.” Bilbo is paralyzed, helplessly lost in Thorin’s intense blue eyes. It reminds him of a deep blue sky at evening where the sun is almost gone completely. Then Thorin removes his hand and gives Bilbo a small smile.

“Thank you,” is all Bilbo can manage.

“Of course. I must take my leave now. I will see you tomorrow evening.” There is another soft, fleeting smile before Thorin picks up the tray. Before he gets to the door he halts.

"Oh, Bilbo?"

"Yes?" Bilbo squeaks.

"What is your favorite flower?" Bilbo hesitates.

"Forget me nots." There is a silence between them.

"Forgive my ignorance but I have not heard of them. Can you have a picture drawn up for me by tomorrow night?"

"Yes." The king hums and leaves, satisfied with the answer. Bilbo is stuck to his chair, still paralyzed by his beating heart.

 

***

 

Bilbo turns to the library and Ori for help. The scribe is grinning from ear to ear as Bilbo sketches the tiny blue flowers.

"When are you guys going to stop dancing around each other?" Ori has his elbows rested on his knees and has his chin resting on his palms. He's got a mischievous glint in his eyes as he watching Bilbo sketch. They are sitting cross-legged on the library floor.

"He insisted that it was a friendship gift. In exchange for the one I gave," Bilbo sighed. He was trying hard to ignore the dwarf, instead focusing intently on his drawing. The flowers were tiny and he needed to concentrate to get the petals right.

"Well, if anything Bilbo, you are smitten," Ori teased. He reached out to touch one of the beads in Bilbo's hair but the hobbit waves his hand away.

"And what if I am!?" Bilbo countered, exasperated, "He's a king!"

"See! You're not denying it anymore!" Ori made a fist pump. Bilbo huffed and rolled his eyes.

"What of it?"

"Tell me about him." Bilbo hesitates. He puts down the pencil and moves a hand to one of the beads. The metal is cool against his fingertips. Bilbo rolls it back and forth between his thumb and forefinger.

"I don't know how to. He's just, all too much at once. He is gorgeous. I've always been sweet on lads at home with softer features. Thorin is the opposite. It's as though he's sculpted from the mountain itself. But there is softness in him. Sometimes he smiles and his whole demeanor softens. It's those moments that I want to kiss him the most,

"And oh! He's so tall. I'd have to lean up on my tiptoes to kiss him first. I've thought about kissing him more times than I would ever admit. I just, he's a king !  At best I'm a fleeting pet project. He could have anyone for crying out loud!

"But he's beautiful and I cannot explain it. Despite his intimidating stature he's so...inviting. I wonder what it would be like to hug him, hold his hand. Goodness I have it bad for him," Bilbo gave a wistful sigh and smiled softly. He looked up to Ori who had a grin on his face.

"That's so lovely Bilbo. You should tell him!" Bilbo scowled this time and smacked Ori. The scribe gave a laugh and Bilbo shook his head. Instead of chastising the dwarf anymore he went back to his sketch.

 

***

 

"They are beautiful Biblo." Thorin smiles as he looks up from the sketch. Bilbo blushes and returns the smile.

"They are much more beautiful in person, I assure you." He absentmindedly reaches up to touch one of the beads. The metal is just soothing against his skin and he hasn't been able to squelch the habit. Thorin follows the motion with his eyes, not giving any emotions away.

"What do they mean?" Thorin asks, eyes watching Bilbo closely. The hobbit froze. He had not recounted their meaning before. Since he was a fauntling he'd loved that something so small could be so beautiful.

Fidelity. Loyalty. Remembrance. Affection. Love in it's rawest form.

"Despite being a creature of flowers I do not remember. I've just loved their beauty since I was small." Bilbo thumbed the bead more and averted his eyes. The lie escaped his lips easily. He hadn't realized the gravity of his favorite flowers being forget me nots. But now it hit him hard. After the conversation with Ori earlier, he hadn't even realized how deep he'd fallen. He had insisted that it was just this foreign idea and kindness.

But if it was just kindness he was looking for he would've liked Ori instead. Thorin was more than likely just being polite. Bilbo was a different guest and Thorin was being a warm host.

It didn't explain the tea. The smiles. The lingering touch last night.

Bilbo stamped those feelings down deep, not allowing himself to feel them.

When Bilbo looked up again, Thorin had an unreadable expression on his face. His eyes, his face, his body language. Nothing gave Bilbo any information.

"I will have to spend a few days on these beads. I will have to miss out next few nights together." Thorin returned to his tea. Bilbo dropped the bead and took up his tea as well. They sat for a few moments in silence. Bilbo wasn't sure what to say. Finally, he found his words.

"It is fine. I look forward to seeing what you will make for me." A small smile breaks onto his face. Thorin returns the smile. They finish their tea in a comfortable silence.

As Thorin leaves he touches Bilbo's shoulder. They exchange no words but they look at each other for several long seconds. Bilbo doesn't know what to make of it.

 

***

 

Bilbo didn't realize how lonely his nights would be without Thorin. He tosses and turns in bed, uncertain how to process these feelings. He shouldn't feel so damn alone without Thorin.

Yet here he was, loneliness sinking in his chest. Bilbo wanted his king here. Warm tea and smiles. Bilbo was curious about what the beads would look like. His stomach feels as though it's housing several families of butterflies.

He couldn't wait for Thorin to return. He could hardly stand the wait.

 

***

 

It was three long nights before Thorin turned up again. Bilbo had been restless. He did his best to occupy his time but found it all too much. When the resounding knock came finally Bilbo nearly jumped out of his skin.

The hobbit pulled open the door and beamed up at his king. Thorin was holding a dark brown box instead of tea. There was a small smile on his face. He seemed... uncertain .

"Hello." Thorin sounded sheepish almost. Bilbo felt a blush rise to his cheeks.

"Good evening, Thorin." Bilbo gave a soft smile and stepped aside so the king could enter. Thorin hesitated for a moment before stepping inside.

"I finally finished the beads." Thorin held out the box for Bilbo to take. The wood was a deep rich brown and with an acorn engraved on the top. He wondered where Thorin got the idea for it. The hobbit reached out and took it in his hands. It wasn't as heavy as he thought it would've been. He could hold it in one hand with ease.

Bilbo couldn't stop himself. He balanced the box in the palm of his left hand and traced the acorn on the top. The wood was cool and pleasing to the touch, the acorn carved perfectly in the middle. The clasp on the front was in the shape of a small maple leaf and looked to be steel. It was breathtaking.

"It's beautiful Thorin," Bilbo murmured, still in awe over the box.

"You haven't even opened it yet," Thorin chuckled. Bilbo flushed bright red.

"The box is stunning though! I didn't think dwarves would know much about trees," Bilbo teased, a small smile on his face.

"I noticed the tree on a few of your journals and books. You seem to have a fascination with them," Thorin pointed out. The hobbit found himself speechless. Had Thorin really paid that much attention to him?

"There was a maple tree in our yard growing up. It was a beautiful thing," Bilbo mused, running a thumb over the clasp.

If this is just the box what do the beads look like? Thorin certainly had a way with his hands. Bilbo flushed at the thought and focused on the gift in his own hands.

The clasp, while beautiful, wasn't complicated. It opened with ease exposing a beautiful blue velvet lining. The beads were nestled snuggly, the silver glinting in the light of the room. The little flowers on them were carved delicately and beautifully.

" Thorin ," Bilbo murmured, awe overtaking him.

"I apologize, I am not the greatest with silver." Bilbo couldn't help but laugh.

"Thorin it's beautiful. " Bilbo felt like smacking the dwarf. " They're beautiful ."

"Have you taken out your own braids yet?"

"I...have not." Bilbo hadn't wanted to because he knew he wouldn't be able to get them back in. It was also comforting to have the piece of Thorin so close to him. "I wouldn't have known how to re-braid them."

"Well, let's get your new beads in. I did bring a brush this time so your curls cannot thwart my efforts," Thorin teased. Bilbo felt the blush return in full force. The box was removed from Bilbo's hands and placed onto their tea table. Thorin then pressed his hand to the small of Bilbo's back and guided him to a chair.

The dwarf didn’t hesitate, going right to untangling the braids. They were messy from a few days of sleeping on them. Bilbo ignored the small twinges of pain when his hair was pulled. It was heaven to have Thorin's hand in his hair.

"So I'm going to talk you through this, so you can do this yourself later," Thorin started. Bilbo knew right away he wasn't going to actually be able to pay attention but he just nodded. "Also keep your head still."

"Yes, sorry!" Bilbo squeaked, folding his hands into his lap and closing his eyes. He focuses on Thorin's hands as he finishing undoing the braids. Just like last time Thorin is surprisingly gentle. There is a soft clink as Thorin puts his beads onto the table. Then a tug as a hairbrush is brought to Bilbo’s hair. It isn't a rough pull but a little uncomfortable.

But oh! Thorin moves to hold Bilbo's head in his other hand to steady him.

"I just want to untangle your hair a bit so braiding is easier," Thorin explains. Bilbo murmurs an acknowledgment as Thorin continues his brushing. It had been so long since someone brushed his hair. It was so lovely.

Finally Thorin started braiding. He was talking to Bilbo but the hobbit could hardly focus. It was almost too much to ask. Thorin's deep voice, his gentle hands, how warm he was even though they weren't really touching. Thorin was beautiful even with Bilbo's eyes closed. His heart flipped. How he had managed to fall so quickly for this dwarf was beyond him.

It was over far too soon and Thorin was asking Bilbo to try and do the other one. Bilbo's eyes opened and he blinked.

"I can try! I doubt I'll be as good as you." Bilbo blushed, smiling up at Thorin. Thorin gave a smile in return and sighed.

"I'll do the other one but you should try tomorrow night." Thorin moved onto the next braid with a smile still on his lips. Bilbo felt radiant.

 

***

 

"Your braids are beautiful Bilbo." Thorin had a pleased smile on his face as Bilbo clasped the beads. Bilbo felt his heart flip at the compliment.  

"You're still better at it then me," Bilbo murmured. Thorin had made Bilbo braid his own hair as he had promised last night. He missed the feeling of Thorin's hands in his hair but the warmth of the dwarf's smile was almost as good.

“So, I hate to turn this evening onto a sour note.” Thorin looked uncomfortable for a moment and Bilbo’s stomach turned to lead. “But your health worries me and I want to know...how much longer you have.”

Bilbo blinked, unsure of how to process what Thorin was saying to him.

“Thorin?” His voice cracked, he couldn’t help it. “What do you mean?”

“You came all the way out to my mountain! Gandalf didn’t disclose your health but that you needed a healer. I am honoured that you chose my mountain over the elves. But Bilbo! There must be something really wrong for you to come so far out here.” Was Thorin trembling? Were those honest tears? Bilbo's head was spinning. Thorin had come into his personal bubble and was cradling Bilbo's hands between his own. "You have become my friend and I want to know how much longer until you pass on from here."

Thorin thought....thought Bilbo was dying! Bilbo couldn't help it, he burst into laughter. It was the worst response to this entire situation because Thorin looked furious but oh! Bilbo couldn't help it.

"Thorin!" Bilbo exclaimed after his laughter subsided. The poor dwarf looked bewildered and angry and hurt. Bilbo pulled his hands out of Thorin's grasp and wiped his eyes.  

Bilbo found the courage to step forward and hold Thorin's face in his hands. He selfishly took a small moment to process how soft Thorin's beard was.

" Thorin. " This time his voice was softer and Bilbo looked at Thorin in earnest. "I'm not dying, Thorin."

"Bilbo," it was a soft sound, as though it was a treasure on Thorin's lips. His whole body language softened and Thorin looked relieved. Bilbo flushed and gave the dwarf an apologetic look.

"I did not think you were so misinformed. I thought you knew. "

"If you do not mind...may I pry into why you are here?" And here was the problem. Bilbo's face lit up bright red and he dropped his hands and looked away. Now there was this : the issue of explaining why he was actually here.

"I..." What could he say? How could he even begin to explain this? Bilbo dropped his hands and stepped back. Thorin looked wounded.

"You do not have to...share." Thorin stepped forward tentatively, unsure of how to proceed. "I just wish to know what ails you. You have become a very close friend and I want to help in whatever way I can."

A very close friend . The words bounced around in Bilbo's brain and it was so much.

"Nothing particularly ails me...it's..." Bilbo ran a hand through what loose hair he had and sighed. "You're going to need to sit down. Please."

Chapter Text

It's been three years since I've updated this. A lot has happened and a lot has changed. I'm going to be re-writing this from the ground up. It was much easier than just changing everything I have. I'm sorry for how long it's taken me. I'm an easily stressed out adult and I've been burdened heavily by my life as an autistic adult. It will be a very slow update so I want to warn you ahead of time.

You can find the new work here: Shire Roots, Erebor Heart