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When the bear’s away (the dwarves will play)

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The first thing that registered with Bilbo’s sleepy brain was pain. A headache, to be precise - one which rivalled even the most atrocious hangovers of his youth. The room was too bright but blessedly silent and Bilbo found that the pain lessened slightly when he closed his eyes and didn’t try to move his head much. Snuggling back into his warm, fuzzy pillow, Bilbo tried to remember the cause of his predicament. He had a vague impression that mead had been involved in some capacity or other. Before he could puzzle over the mystery any further, however, his pillow suddenly moved, drawing him from his thoughts.

Blinking slowly in confusion, Bilbo suddenly realized that his pillow wasn’t a pillow at all, but a shoulder of a sleeping dwarf. With dawning horror, Bilbo let his gaze slide over broad, muscular chest and long tresses of raven hair until it finally landed on the face of Thorin Oakenshield.

Trying not to panic, the hobbit started slowly inching away, hoping to escape from Thorin’s room before the dwarf woke up. Bilbo barely got half a foot across the bed before Thorin reached out and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, drawing him back into the embrace. Bilbo tried to wriggle away, but the limb proved impossible to move - it didn’t hurt him or squeeze uncomfortably, but it left no room to slip through, its weight holding the hobbit firmly in place. A quick look at Thorin’s face confirmed that the dwarf was still asleep, unaware of Bilbo’s predicament.

Abandoning his futile attempts to escape for the moment, Bilbo lay back down instead and tried to make some sense of the situation. Maybe he was creating a drama where was none. There could be a perfectly innocent reason for why he was sharing a bed with a shirtless dwarf. Maybe Thorin got drunk and needed assistance back to the bed. Maybe he hadn’t been feeling well and Bilbo had tended to him.

Bilbo started to nod to himself in satisfaction, glad that he had solved the problem without implicating anyone in any ungentlemanly behaviour, when he noticed that his own shirt was missing as well and that there was a suspicious-looking bruise under his collarbone. A quick peak under the cover confirmed that they were both still wearing their trousers, though that knowledge didn’t reassure him much.

Raising his head up a bit, he took stock of the state of the room. Thorin’s fur jacket lay at the foot of the bed, Bilbo’s own waistcoat just a few feet away. The dwarf’s shirt was nowhere in sight, but Bilbo suspected it had been dropped somewhere near the bed as well. A pair of heavy boots lay haphazardly on the floor and (Bilbo had to do a double take to make sure he was seeing right) there was an axe embedded in the door. Just what in the name of Valar had they been doing last night?

Alarmed more than before, Bilbo closed his eyes and frantically tried to recall the events on the previous evening. Slowly, memories started coming back to him...


Previous night

It had all started with Gandalf’s departure. Bilbo really shouldn’t have been surprised, since most trouble seemed to start with the wizard these days. They had just finished lunch when a sparrow flew into the hall, carrying a message concerning some Important Wizard Business. Gandalf refused to tell them what the message was about, but he seemed disturbed by it and when the bird left he packed with great haste.

“I am afraid I will not be able to dine with you this evening,” Gandalf told them as he climbed on the back of a giant eagle, which had come at the wizard’s request. They had all gathered outside to see him off, a few of them visibly unhappy that the wizard was leaving them again so soon after the debacle with the goblins and wargs. “I am being called away to the south by Radagast. Beorn has left for the night to go orc hunting and asked me to convey his apologies to you as well. I hope you won’t manage to get yourselves in any sort of trouble while I am gone.”

That earned him a snort from Thorin.

“We are hardly children, Gandalf. We don’t need a supervisor.”

The wizard just raised a single sceptical eyebrow. “If you say so, Master Dwarf. I believe you could find some trolls, goblins and wargs who would disagree with that statement.”

Before the dwarves could come up with a suitable comeback, the majestic bird took off, rising into the sky. Thorin stormed back into the house, mumbling about insufferable wizards.

“How dare he insult us!” Glóin grumbled. “Just because he happened to help us out of a tight spot a few times, he thinks he can make fun of us.”

“Besides,” Ori piped up, “what kind of trouble could we get into here?”

As it turned out, he had spoken too soon.

Barely an hour passed before Kíli tore into the dining hall, eyes alight in excitement.

“Gentlemen, you will never guess what I found.”

Several heads turned in mild interest, but most of the dwarves paid him little attention, being used to his outbursts by now. Balin, who had known the young dwarf for decades and therefore was intimately familiar with the tantrums Kíli could throw when he thought he was being ignored, decided to take pity on him.

“What did you find, laddie?”

“Mead. Two full barrels of it.” Kíli was now grinning like a cat that got the cream.

The mention of alcohol got him the attention of the rest of the dwarves.

“Mead? Excellent,” Dwalin slammed his fist on the table. “Bring it here, boy, let us have a feast.”

A cheer rose around the table as the dwarves scrambled up, heading for the pantry. Only Balin remained seated, shaking his head at their antics.

Bilbo’s question of “Won’t Beorn get angry that you drank all his mead?” got completely lost in the ruckus the dwarves were making.

Soon, both barrels of mead got rolled out into the main hall and the dwarves sat down around the table, laughing and drinking. The dinner was a merry affair, accompanied by songs and loud chatter. Thorin was still nowhere to be seen. The dwarven king had disappeared into his room after Gandalf’s departure and hadn’t shown himself since. Bilbo figured he was probably brooding (sulking, as Bilbo privately called it, though he would never dare say that to Thorin’s face). Since the food was disappearing swiftly and Thorin hadn’t yet eaten, Bilbo decided to bring him his portion. Besides, his head was starting to hurt from all the racket and he thought that a little walk would do him good.

As predicted, Thorin was holed up in his room, in full glower mood. Bilbo had planned to just hand him the bowl and back off slowly, to avoid provoking the dwarven king’s famous temper, so he had no idea what made him linger in the doorway for a moment longer than was necessary.

“It seems that this will be a merry evening.” Bilbo didn’t even realize he had spoken until Thorin looked at him blankly. He quickly fumbled to continue. “Fíli and Kíli found some mead in the pantry. Everyone is quite enthusiastic about it. If you want some, you should come before they drink it all.” Bilbo was aware he was babbling now, so he started backing out quickly. “Enjoy your meal.”

He turned on his heel and bolted, feeling foolish. Thorin had the ability to unnerve him with his mere presence. Thorin’s gaze always made Bilbo feel like he was being examined, measured up to some unknown standard and found wanting. A single glance was capable of exposing all his flaws and deeply guarded secrets, leaving him feeling utterly naked. The fact that he was drawn to that gaze was another matter, one best left alone.

His mood even worse now, Bilbo headed outside to sit in the garden and smoke for a while. He took long puffs from his pipe and let the serenity of his surroundings calm his thoughts, watching the smoke drift towards the slowly darkening sky.

Half an hour later, he was feeling much better, so he decided to brave the main hall once more. To his surprise, he found Thorin present, sitting comfortably in his chair at the head of the table, an amused half-smile on his face as he watched Óin and Glóin bicker. Even though Bilbo tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, he could feel the moment Thorin noticed his presence, the weight of his gaze setting in him.

Bilbo tried his best to ignore the pricking feeling at the back of his neck as he crossed the hall and slid into a corner to sit with Bofur. The dwarf grinned at him when he approached and handed him a tankard.

“Here, Bilbo, have a drink. I saved you a pint.” Bilbo wanted to protest that he didn’t plan to drink anything at all (unlike his Took cousins, he had never been very good at holding his liquor), but Bofur looked so sincere and happy with his efforts that he didn’t have the heart to refuse him. Bilbo took a small sip of the mead, earning himself another grin and a slap on the back.

Bilbo managed to pass a good while in relative peace, chatting with Bofur about woodcarving, but he should have known better than to think he would be left alone when surrounded with a bunch of drunken dwarves.

It didn’t take long before Kíli spotted him, eyes full of mischief.

“Mr Boggins!” he exclaimed, jumping down from the table, where he had been singing duets in Dwarvish with his brother. “Mr Boggins, can you sing?”

In an instant, Bilbo could feel thirteen pairs of curious eyes turned in his direction.

“Well, actually-” he started to speak, intending to deny any musical inclinations, but Bofur spoke over him.

“Of course he can sing. He’s always humming something when we ride.”

Bilbo only managed to give the traitorous dwarf a glare before he was dragged towards the table where the rest of the dwarves sat, looking expectant.

Since it looked like he wouldn’t be able to refuse them now, Bilbo looked at Kíli in resignation.

“What would you like to hear?”

“Hobbit songs!” “Drinking songs!” “Anything!” Several cries rose from the table.

“Could you sing some Hobbit songs? We’ve never heard any.” It was Dori who finally managed to put his request in a full sentence.

Bilbo sighed, reaching for his tankard.

“I suppose there is no harm in that. We have plenty of drinking songs in the Shire.”

A cheer rose around the table at his announcement and he took a sip, trying to decide which song would be popular with the dwarves. Bilbo belatedly realized that Kíli was trying to nudge him to climb on the table. He planted his feet firmly.

“I am willing to sing, but I refuse to prance on the table like some country fair jester.” He opted to stand on one of the low stools instead, still feeling uncomfortable with all the attention, and started to sing one of the most popular songs from the Green Dragon.

Like most hobbits, Bilbo had a nice, clear voice and a talent for music. His first song was received with a round of loud applause and fists pounding on the table, so he started another, and a third one. He took sips of the mead in the breaks between the songs to moisten his throat and the liquor made him slowly loosen up. Several songs and half a pint later, he abandoned the tamer songs sung at parties and moved onto the more raunchy stuff, usually sung by very drunk hobbits after midnight. Bilbo’s new repertoire entertained the dwarves greatly and they joined in for the choruses, which were mostly simple and very catchy.

He finally stopped when his throat started to itch and bowed several times to deafening applause, climbing down from the stool. Several of the dwarves took out their instruments (most of those had been lost in the goblin caves, but several flutes and clarinets got saved) and started to play a merry tune. Bilbo sat down in the nearest chair, which happened to be next to Thorin. The dark haired dwarf was actually smiling for once, his eyes warm as he regarded the hobbit. Bilbo supposed the nearly empty tankard was responsible for the King’s mellow mood.

“You are full of surprises, Mr Baggins,” the dark haired dwarf murmured as Bilbo sat down. “Who would have guessed that you have such a lovely voice?”

Bilbo had to stop himself from gaping. Thorin must have drunk a lot to praise someone so openly.

“I suppose I’m not bad by hobbit standards. I used to sing at Old Took’s parties when I was a lad.”

“Why have you not shared your talent with us sooner?” Thorin had his head tipped in curiosity and Bilbo looked away to avoid his gaze.

“It is not like there was much opportunity to sing in the wilds. Besides, you lot can entertain yourselves just fine.”

“Makes one wonder what other talents you may be hiding.” It was said so quietly that Bilbo wasn’t sure he was supposed to hear it. Surely Thorin wasn’t suggesting...? To hide his growing blush, Bilbo reached for his drink and turned his attention back to the rest of the group. Fíli and Kíli had taken the floor, dancing some sort of jig that involved a lot of kicking and stomping, and were currently trying to persuade a reluctant Ori to join them, much to the amusement of the others.

The songs got progressively dirtier as the night advanced. Bilbo was blushing nonstop as he listened to the stories and jokes that got traded around the table. Dwarves had a fairly open attitude about sex even when sober – drunk, there was no censure at all. Bilbo himself was no prude – one could hardly live for fifty years without coming across the notion of sex – but there were some things he’d never wanted to know. Dwalin’s preferences being one of them.

A few hours later found Bilbo standing on the table, singing a song about the Man of the Moon, one of his own compositions. Even though he was rather proud of his rhyming, he had never had the opportunity to share his work with an audience. By this time the dwarves were completely sloshed and very enthusiastic about his performance. They made him sing it several times, clapping and whooping when he reached their favourite parts.

During one particularly energetic repetition, as he gestured wildly to illustrate his tale, Bilbo nearly lost his footing and fell from the table, but was saved by Kíli, who caught him around the waist and drew him back, spinning him in a circle. That prompted the dwarves to start playing their jig again, and Kíli, who had been finally persuaded to help Bilbo climb down from the table, decided to teach the hobbit the steps.

Bilbo wasn’t even sure what the steps were supposed to look like, since all the dancers had a problem walking straight, but he gave it his best. After all, it wasn’t that different from hobbit dances and Bilbo was fairly good at those. With the exception of Balin, Óin and Thorin, who remained sitting, and Bifur and Bombur who played the instruments, all the others had joined the dance, staggering around and laughing. Even Dwalin, who normally couldn’t be persuaded to do anything frivolous, was now twirling around a blushing Ori, which earned him suspicious glares from the young dwarf’s brothers.

The dance was lively and informal, allowing Bilbo to travel freely between different dance partners. Everyone took a turn dancing with him, laughing and stumbling over their feet. Fíli tried to drag Thorin to dance with them, but the King wouldn’t budge, his mood growing progressively darker as he watched the group.

It was well after midnight when the entertainment finally started to slow down. Glóin had fallen asleep under the table and Óin was nodding off in his seat. Dwalin and Ori had mysteriously disappeared, much to the puzzlement of Ori’s brothers, and Bofur was yawning after every other word.

Moments later all hell broke loose.

Nori discovered the location of his younger brother and by his shouting about honour and responsibility, one could guess that Ori and Dwalin hadn’t been playing chess in the pantry. Dori stormed off to join the fray, giving them all a piece of his mind.

Kíli chose that moment to loudly announce: “Well, I suppose you aren’t half bad looking, Mr Boggins,” and kissed the astonished hobbit right on the mouth.

Bilbo froze in shock, his brain too muddled with alcohol to react properly, so the young dwarf took his lack of protest as an approval and leaned over to kiss him again. Before he could touch him, however, Bilbo suddenly found himself yanked backward into a strong chest, a low growl sounding above his head.

“Do not touch him.”

The hobbit tilted back his head just enough to confirm that the person holding him was indeed Thorin, who was looking at his nephew with a thunderous expression.

Kíli took several steps back, raising his hands in a placating gesture.

“It was just a bit of fun, Uncle. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Thorin’s gaze swept over the assembled dwarves.

“None of you are allowed to touch him. He’s mine.”

And with that, Bilbo was spun around and kissed within an inch of his life. Once he got over the shock and disbelief that Thorin, of all people, was kissing him, he was more than happy to close his eyes and kiss back, burying his hands in that thick mane of hair.

How many times had he dreamt about touching that hair, when he’d lain awake in the dark hours of the night, listening to Bombur’s snores, and watched the king’s silhouette as he sat framed by the firelight? How many times had he caught himself watching those strong hands sharpen a sword and wondered how they would feel on his skin?

He didn’t have to wonder anymore, because those hands were now gripping his waist, drawing him closer. Bilbo was vaguely aware of someone catcalling behind him, but then Thorin did an amazing thing with his tongue and Bilbo completely forgot about their audience. They would have probably continued kissing if someone hadn’t cleared their throat just as one of Thorin’s hands started to slide lower.

They drew apart reluctantly to find the rest of the party staring at them, torn between embarrassment and amusement. Balin, who had been the one to interrupt them, tried to look reproachful, but a smile kept tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“Your Highness, perhaps it would be more prudent to relocate your...activities elsewhere.”

To Bilbo’s astonishment, Thorin actually blushed at Balin’s gentle admonishment. He promptly took Bilbo by the wrist and started leading him towards his bedroom even as the dwarves behind them started snickering and shouting obscenities.

Thorin shot them one last withering look before he shut the door to his room, but not fast enough to drown out their shouted advice. Bilbo buried his head in his hands in mortification as he heard Bofur loudly offering them “ointment to ease the way”.

Bilbo barely managed to get a glimpse of Thorin’s room – a bed under the window, a small dresser, a woven rug – before he was pushed against the wall and kissed again.

Thorin kissed like he fought – with fire, precision and single-minded attentiveness, turning the hobbit into a quivering wreck with a few skilful flicks of his tongue. Although Bilbo himself was by no means a stranger to the pleasures of the flesh, none of the furtive fumblings of his youth could have prepared him for this. There were miles of difference between kissing a giggling tween under the party tree and this pure, unrestrained passion.

The dwarven king possessed him, destroyed him with every touch, every brush of lips, until Bilbo could do nothing but cling to him and kiss back, the world around him dissolving in a whirlwind of sensations. Bilbo relished the slight scrape of the dwarf’s beard against his chin and the firmness of strong hands sliding down his torso. Warrior’s hands, smith’s hands - hands that were capable of wielding both blade and fire with equal skill. Those hands now slowly drove him mad.

Suddenly there were too many clothes between them and Bilbo scrabbled uselessly at the buckles of Thorin’s leather jacket, inwardly cursing dwarves and their overly complicated clothing.

Some of his frustration must have shown because Thorin pulled back a little with a small amused smile and batted Bilbo’s hands away, undoing the clasps himself. Bilbo’s waistcoat was already unbuttoned, so he used the time to take it off. It landed somewhere on the floor, but for once the hobbit couldn’t bring himself to care about the fate of his clothes.

Once the clasps were undone, Bilbo reached up and helped Thorin pull the heavy jacket off, leaving him only in a light shirt, which was also quickly discarded. There was a vague muffled sound from the door, but neither of them paid it any attention. Bilbo was too preoccupied with looking at all the newly revealed skin.

He spent several moments just admiring the view. With a broad set of shoulders, strong chest and arms with muscles developed from decades of wielding a blacksmith’s hammer, Thorin was a picture of strength and masculine perfection.

The only thing spoiling the sight were the bandages wrapped around most of his chest and left shoulder. Bilbo had seen the wounds when Óin cleaned them, so he had a good idea about what lay beneath the gauze - several long gashes across the torso and a few deep bite marks where the white warg had chomped down. The bandages added a strange sort of fragility to Thorin’s warrior image, but didn’t detract from his attractiveness in the slightest.

Bilbo slowly ran his hands over the planes of Thorin’s chest, mindful of the injuries, and enjoyed the feeling of skin burning under his palms. When their lips met again, there was a newfound hunger and a sense of urgency.

Bilbo’s shirt got lost on the way to the bed, their progress slowed by the fact that they didn’t let go of each other, not even when Bilbo tripped over one of Thorin’s discarded shoes.

They fell on the bed in a heap, any thoughts of finesse drowned in the sheer hunger and need that burned them both. After a few failed attempts to unbuckle Thorin’s belt, Bilbo contented himself with grabbing a handful of the dwarf’s rear and pulling him closer. He let out an embarrassingly loud moan when Thorin bit his throat and tried to muffle it by burying his face in the dwarf’s shoulder.

Their movement was getting more frantic, the friction rising just to the point of perfection, when a loud giggle sounded behind the door. The laughter was promptly shushed, but another voice started giggling instead. Thorin paused above him, his glazed eyes slowly gravitating towards the door. Bilbo felt vaguely horrified.

“Are they spying on us?” he whispered. More snickering could be heard. Whoever was behind that door wasn’t even trying to stay quiet now, probably thinking the occupants of the room were too busy to notice them.

Thorin huffed in frustration as he rolled off and rose from the bed, his face darkening. He crossed the room in four long strides and flung the door open to find the usual suspects sitting on the floor with their ears pressed to the wood. The looks on Fíli and Kíli’s face when they saw him were absolutely priceless.

If Bilbo weren’t feeling so on edge from being interrupted, he might have even laughed. As it was, his skin felt too hot and his trousers were too tight and he hoped that the dwarves would all go away so that he and Thorin might finish what they had started.

Upon seeing Thorin’s thunderous expression, the brothers’ faces quickly changed from hilarity to alarm.

“You.” Thorin’s voice could cut through steel. “I should have known. Leave us. Now!” He slammed the door shut and stalked back to the bed, reaching for Bilbo again. They only managed a few kisses before the drunken dwarfs in the hall started laughing again. Thorin’s expression when he pulled back now was positively murderous.

Without a single word, he stood up, reached beside the bed for one of his small throwing axes and flung it at the door. The axe flew across the room in a flash and embedded itself deep in the wood near the top of the door. There was pair of startled yelps and a sound of hurried scuttling, like someone was trying to stand up and run away, but had trouble finding their legs.

“LEAVE US!” Thorin roared, listening with satisfaction to the sound of retreating footsteps. He turned back to the bed with a long-suffering expression.

This time Bilbo couldn’t hold back his giggles. All of a sudden, the whole situation seemed incredibly hilarious. Here he was - a respectable hobbit of the Shire, three sheets to the wind in some shack in the middle of a wilderness, in bed with an equally drunk member of dwarven royalty and unable to even get to finish because dwarves are nosy little buggers.

Unable to remain sitting, he slumped on his back on the bed and watched the room spin around him in slow circles, giggling uncontrollably. Thorin’s face came into view, regarding the drunken hobbit with a mixture of fondness and frustration. In the end he just shook his head and went to collect the blanket, drawing it over both of them as he lay down next to Bilbo, who finally managed to subdue most of his mirth, although an occasional hiccup of laughter still escaped.

“I suppose the mood is gone now, isn’t it?” Bilbo asked the dwarf when he calmed down enough to attempt speech. The look he gave Thorin was half amused, half apologetic.

The dwarf just lay on his back, staring at the ceiling with a frustrated scowl. Bilbo gave them both a few minutes to cool down before speaking again.

“You never get any peace, do you?”

Thorin shook his head.

“They are a menace.”

Bilbo gave him a smile.

“We’ll just have to be better at hiding the next time.”

Thorin sighed.

“Let’s just go to sleep, shall we?”

They lay down and cuddled up close, letting the alcohol and warmth lull them to sleep.


Bilbo awoke several hours later to the pleasant feeling of lips lightly nibbling at the skin below his ear. He hummed in appreciation and the arms around him tightened in response.

He took a moment to take stock of his state. The room wasn’t spinning anymore and even though he still felt quite drunk, it wasn’t any worse than the state in which he had been regularly leaving the Green Dragon over the years. His brain was still half asleep and too slow to process things fully, but some parts of his body had managed to catch up to the situation with remarkable eagerness. Thorin appeared to be awake as well, and very much interested in the proceedings, if the hardness digging into the small of Bilbo’s back was any indication.

Somehow, it felt completely natural to turn in Thorin’s arms and meet him halfway for a kiss. They went slower this time, taking the opportunity to explore each other’s mouths, savouring the experience. Those few hours of sleep had managed to take away the painful edge of frustration that had laced their previous attempt at coupling, leaving them mellower and less desperate. The arousal was still present, enveloping them in a slowly burning wave, but it was a gentle burn, not the blaze of a wildfire it had been before.

The room was still dark, illuminated only by a sliver of light coming through the window from the waning moon. It left Thorin’s face partly hidden in the darkness, softening his features and shadowing his eyes. When Thorin rolled on top of him, his long hair fell around Bilbo like a curtain, shielding him from the world.

Enveloped in warmth and shadows, without any nosy companions to interrupt them, they could lay aside their worries and duties and just let themselves feel. Bilbo grew bolder, letting his hands explore all the skin before him, his clever fingers mapping out the planes of Thorin’s back and shoulders. Sliding his hands up, he tangled them in that thick mane and pulled Thorin into another kiss.

Bilbo made a contented noise when Thorin drew him closer, intertwining their legs so that their bodies touched from head to toe. He groaned when Thorin’s mouth latched on his neck and used the opportunity to bury his face in Thorin’s hair, inhaling the smell of smoke and leather and musk, a combination that was rapidly becoming familiar.

Even though they hadn’t managed to get rid of their trousers, there was still enough naked skin for them to touch, the press of their heated flesh feeding their growing arousal. When Thorin reached down to tug at the fastenings of their breeches, Bilbo didn’t even hesitate before he joined in the process to hasten the effort. Finally they were both freed from the constraints of the fabric and the touch of flesh against flesh felt heavenly.

Bilbo gasped and reached up to clutch at Thorin’s shoulders as the dwarf wrapped his large, callused hand around them both and squeezed. Thorin’s mouth soon found his again and they moved together in the darkness, swallowing each other’s gasps as the dwarf’s sure hand brought them both to completion.

Thorin fell on him, panting, and even though the dwarf’s weight was crushing him a little, Bilbo didn’t protest. It felt good, intimate, to lay so close, sheltered by Thorin’s larger body. Bilbo lay there for a while, running his hands through Thorin’s hair, until the need to breathe became a priority and he was forced to nudge the dwarf king’s shoulder to make him roll away.

Instead of moving away completely Thorin just slumped on his back next to him and gathered the hobbit to his chest, enveloping him in his arms. As their breathing slowed, Bilbo sleepily wondered if he should say anything. What did one do in these situations? Was he supposed to thank Thorin? Profess his undying love? He tried to ponder the question, but before he could reach any conclusion, he fell asleep.


In the morning

Coming back from his thoughts, Bilbo looked up to find that Thorin was awake and had been probably watching him for some time now. The dwarf didn’t look angry, which was a relief, and the fact that Bilbo hadn’t been kicked from the bed was a good sign as well. Bilbo tried to come up with something witty to say, but ended up with: “Good morning.”

“So it is.” Thorin looked amused. “Have you managed to put your thoughts in order?”

“I am still working on it. To be honest, I am not entirely sure how much of what I remember really happened and how much was a delusion brought on by the mead.”

A silence stretched between them, each passing second becoming more awkward then the one before. Bilbo desperately tried to find something neutral to look at that wasn’t Thorin’s chest, because he was still tucked into the dwarf’s side and while the setup had felt completely natural in the darkness of the night, now he could feel his shoulders stiffening, the closeness making him a little uncomfortable. After all, just yesterday afternoon they could barely hold a civil conversation and now he was using the dwarven king as his personal pillow.

Finally Thorin spoke, a slight hesitation in his voice.

“Should I...release you?”

Bilbo’s first instinct was to blurt out a “yes” and run from the room, just to put this awkwardness behind them, but the word died on his lips when he raised his head and really looked at Thorin. The dwarf had made the offer in a carefully neutral tone and Bilbo would have been convinced that he was completely unaffected by the state of affairs, if it wasn’t for the apprehension tucked in the corners of his eyes. The thought that Thorin was as unnerved by their situation as he was was strangely comforting. Bilbo smiled at him.

“No, it is fine, just a little strange.” Bilbo propped his chin on Thorin’s chest and spent several moments taking in the dwarf’s appearance. Even with pillow creases on his cheek, Thorin looked as striking as ever, the sleep-tousled hair giving his regal appearance a touch of vulnerability. His eyes hadn’t yet regained their customary sharpness, leaving them soft and unguarded.

It was the look in Thorin’s eyes that made Bilbo pause, and which gave him the courage to stretch upwards, slowly, giving Thorin time to draw away before he pressed their mouths together in a short, chaste kiss. Bilbo pulled back a little, carefully watching Thorin’s expression.

His moment of bravery was short-lived, and almost immediately he started to pull away, overcome by nervousness that made him babble.

“I have no idea how you dwarfs conduct these affairs, or what I am supposed to be doing now, and I would understand if you just declared what happened last night a fit of drunken madness and wanted to forget all about it, but if you didn’t, I would like you to know that I am not exactly averse to this. Whatever it is-”

He would have rambled on, but Thorin silenced him with a finger against his lips. His eyes mirrored a strange mixture of relief and merriment and something else, something Bilbo wasn’t prepared to name just yet. When he spoke, his voice was light.

“That is nice to know.” He ran a gentle hand over Bilbo’s hair, cupping his neck. “Does that mean I may kiss you again?”

“If it is not too much trouble.” Bilbo’s grin was wide when he leaned in for the kiss, a giddy feeling spreading in his chest as their lips met.

He pulled back regretfully several kisses later as the pain in his head reminded him of why he had woken up in the first place. He gave Thorin an apologetic look.

“As much as I would love to continue this, my head feels like it is going to split in half and I would much appreciate some of Óin’s medicine. I have not drunk this much in years.”

This time Thorin let him go, getting off the bed to search for his clothes. Bilbo managed to sit up without making his head explode and shuffled to the edge of the bed, enjoying the view of Thorin bending over to retrieve his shirt. The dwarf caught his gaze, eyebrow rising in inquiry. Bilbo just grinned, feeling at ease as he started the search for his lost garments.

They dressed in companionable silence. Whatever had happened between them last night wasn’t an unwelcome development. The air between them hummed with possibilities and quiet anticipation.

Bilbo was just buttoning up his waistcoat when a vague flash of memory brought a horrible thought to his mind.

“Oh goodness. Did I really dance on a table?” He looked at Thorin in alarm. “Please tell me that did not happen.”

Thorin looked up from his shoes, amusement written over his face.

“I am afraid I will have to disappoint you in that aspect. You did indeed, in your inebriated state, perform something incredibly similar to dancing.”

Bilbo buried his face in his hands. There was a sound of heavy steps and then Thorin gently took his wrists and pulled his hands away from his face, peering down at him with a smile.

“I must say I rather enjoyed your dancing. It may have been a little uncoordinated, but you made up for that in creativity.”

Bilbo pulled one of his hands away from Thorin’s grasp and smacked him over the chest.

“Now you’re just making fun of me. Please tell me I didn’t do any more embarrassing things yesterday?”

“No, I think you didn’t.” Thorin smirked. “Unless you count that kiss in the dining hall.”

Bilbo’s eyes widened in horror.

“I can’t believe we did that in front of everyone.”

Thorin’s hands slid to his waist.

“It may have been rather improper, but I do not regret it in the slightest.” He leaned down to whisper against Bilbo’s lips: “Indeed, I believe I may do it again, if I get the opportunity.”

Bilbo only had to tilt his head back a little to meet Thorin’s mouth. The kiss was slow and leisurely, just a slow press of lips on lips, enjoying, tasting. Thorin’s hands pulled him closer and Bilbo braced his hands on Thorin’s chest, tangling them in the fabric of his shirt. He had to admit that the whole experience was much better when he didn’t have alcohol clouding his mind.

His practical nature made him pull back after a while, putting his hand against Thorin’s chest when the dwarf leaned in for another kiss.

“I think there will be enough time today to get as much privacy as we wish, but I believe we should go to breakfast now before our companions eat all the food. You know how much Bombur likes those honeycakes.”

Thorin pulled away reluctantly, giving his own clothes one more look to make sure he was presentable. For someone who spent so much of his time travelling in the wild, he was surprisingly fastidious about his own appearance. Thorin opened the door and strode out, pointedly ignoring the axe in the door. Bilbo followed after him at a more sedate pace.

The hobbit’s prediction had been accurate – when they entered the dining hall, there was very little food left, but there were plenty of agreeably full dwarves. A loud cheer and catcalls sounded as they came into view and Bilbo winced at the loud sound. Forgoing food for once in his life, Bilbo made a beeline for Óin to get some of the dwarf’s legendary hangover medicine. The shouts died soon, probably quelled by one of Thorin’s glares. Bilbo didn’t care to check – he was experiencing a moment of bliss as Óin’s potion wiped away most of the headache.

Feeling much more cheerful, Bilbo took his seat at Thorin’s left, opposite Kíli and started to put together a breakfast from the woeful scraps of honey and bread left on the table. As he ate, he tried his best to ignore the various bags of gold flying through the air over his head.

Kíli, especially, looked very smug about the substantial pile of coins in front of him, which made Bilbo instantly suspicious about his sudden interest the previous night. Judging by Thorin’s burning glare, the king still hadn’t forgiven his nephews for spying on his private business.

Looking at Fíli and Kíli’s impish grins, Bilbo got a sudden idea. Catching Thorin’s eye, he leaned close to the king to whisper in a not-so-quiet voice:

“You know, I think today we should try the ointment Bofur so helpfully provided.”

And they both watched with great satisfaction as Kíli choked on his honeycake.


The End