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Getting it Right

Chapter Text

Starting Over

 

Bilbo was wet. He was laying in a puddle, of course he was wet! Argh!

He was also in the middle of a wood. Trees in all directions. Beech, oak, elm, birch, ash, maple and was that a wild cherry? Oh, it was,… he was so raiding that.

Hmm… What was he missing?

Taking a minute to get to his feet and try to shake off some of the excess water and mud, he looked around. Nope, he had no clear idea of where he was.

There were three large woods in the Shire, he could be in any one of them. He really hoped he was still in the shire, if he wasn’t…? Well, best not think about that.

The Old Forest, on the east side of the Brandywine River.

Woody End, between the Brandywine and the South Farthing fields.

Bindbole Woods north of Hobbiton.

Which one of those was he in one of those? Only one way to find out.

He looked up and down, checking the positions, of the sun in the sky and the shadows of the trees, he marked shadow of one tree with a pale pebble, while he waited for the shadows to move, he got to work stripping that cherry tree of it’s luscious fruit, taking off his jacket to carry the in. After 10-15 mins, he checked the distance between his pebble and where the tree’s shadow was now, he placed another pebble and scratched a line from one to the other, that gave him east and west, which in turn gave him north and south.

Now, if he was in Bindbole Wood, going south would get him to Hobbiton, but if he wasn’t then going south could mean that he missed everything, there’s nothing but empty lands to the south The Old Forest. Woody End met the Thistle Brook, with nothing else but pipeweed fields for miles.

If he went east, Bindbole would get him to the Brokenborings, the Old Forest might get him to Bree, but Woody End would land him in The Marsh. Too many good hobbits had died in The Marsh for him to risk going east.

North meant that both Old Forest and Bindbole would take him nowhere, only from Woody End could he get somewhere.

But going west, The Old Forest would meet the Brandywine River, Woody End again had the Thistle Brook and Bindbole had the Rushrock Water.

That meant he was going west. He checked his positions again and turned in the appropriate direction. As he cleared the edge of the forest, he could make out the southern edge of the mountain range of Ered Luin. This was Bindbole Woods, he was close to Hobbiton and home.

Thank Erú.

Hang on… there was still something he was missing. What was it?

Walking around in sodden clothes was very uncomfortable and the mud irritated, he needed to do something about that. Reaching a stream with clear running water, he looked around, checking. No one about, he decided to risk it. He quickly stripped off his sodden clothes, dumped them in the water, shaking them briskly until the water ran clear, he wrung them out and draped them over some large rocks. On a bright, breezy day like it was, they should dry very quickly. He spied some more fruit trees, plum and peach, this time and went raiding, again. His hike through the woods had made significant inroads into the cherries he’d picked, adding some plums and peaches? If he hadn’t eaten them all by the time he got home, maybe he’d have enough for a cobbler. Hmm… peach cobbler, yum.

When his clothes were nearly dry he shook them out, dressed and headed down stream towards the heart of the Shire. As he came closer to Hobbiton he kept an eye out for people.

Ironically the first person he saw was Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and his nose wrinkled in distaste.

Suddenly Bilbo stopped.

This couldn’t be right. While she wasn’t a young lass anymore, Lobelia was definitely still alive when he left. How could she be in Valinor?

Without alerting her to his presence, Bilbo looked for other people. He saw many that had died before him, but he also saw many that he knew were alive after he and Frodo sailed west.

There. That’s Ferumbras, he was the Thain when Frodo brought Bilbo to the Grey Havens. But he looked to be in his late tweens, maybe even early thirties, was he even of age?

What in the name of Erú was going on?

The thought went through his head. What if he wasn’t in Valinor? What if that dream wasn’t a dream?

Carefully Bilbo made his way to Bag End, using all the back yards and sneaky paths he could. Letting himself in the back door, he quietly went to his study and his event calendar. His father had taught him at the end of the day to cross out that day’s date, ready for the next day to begin. That meant that today’s date was…?

 

23rd of September 2940.

The day after his 50th birthday.

Before Gandalf showed up.

Before the dwarrow showed up.

Before the Orcs.

Before the Goblins.

Before the Dragon.

Before the Arkenstöne.

Before the Battle.

Before Thorin died.

Before Thorin died.

Before Thorin died.

Before Thorin died.

 

It wasn’t a dream, then, he really did meet with the Valar.

There was a note written under today’s date.

 

You have seven months.

Use them well.

You will not be alone.

Others will remember.

Allies will join you.

DO NOT LET THEM DIE!

 

Well, that made things clear, didn’t it?

Now, the old Bilbo, the Bilbo of before that Quest would have likely have likely said something like, ‘Nope’ and fainted, but this Bilbo? This Bilbo had lived an entire life and was made of sterner stuff, he had faced Orcs, goblins, a dragon and even a mad King. This Bilbo just went and made himself a cup of tea. He had planning to do.

 

***

 

The blonde dwarf sat up quickly, almost screaming, his hand flying to his chest. Looking around very quickly he realised it must have been a dream.

He hoped it’d been a dream.

He prayed it had been a dream.

On the other bed, his brother rolled over and looked at him.

“Fíli? You alright? Bad dream?” The raven haired dwarf asked.

“Yes, Kíli. Just a dream.” He muttered. “I hope.”

Fíli sat on the edge of his bed and reached for a goblet and the water jug, pouring himself a drink, he looked out the window of his mother’s little house. The little house in the Blue Mountains they shared with Uncle. If it was a dream, it was a warning from Mahal. If it wasn’t dream, if it was real, then why was he here? How did he get here? Was there anybody else that would remember? Something flashed behind his eyes, it was almost like watching through a window or through someone else’s eyes, he shuddered at the thought.

Oh.

Oh, thank you, Mahal. The last thing he saw in the dream, or the not-a-dream, was a page of a calendar, there was writing on it, a note, written in soft sweeping lines of Westron, it said?

 

You have seven months.

Use them well.

You will not be alone.

Others will remember

Allies will join you

DO NOT LET THEM DIE!

 

The calendar was on a desk and the desk was in a room and the room looked like the brief glimpse he’d had of Bilbo’s study, when he had snooped around after everyone else was asleep. The walls were rounded, the windows were rounded, it was small, the ceiling low, cosy. An unknown voice spoke, deep and strong.

“You will help him. You will not be alone either.”

And then… White and he woke.

 

Fíli climbed from his bed from the next morning, his heart aching. He remembered, but so far his brother didn’t. They were so close, to not have Kíli remember was painful. He was alone. Was this how Bilbo felt? How could he help?

Over the next few days, things he remembered from the dream, happened. Uncle made decisions, sent letters, called meetings and arranged supplies. Fíli did his best to help, but uncle still saw him as a child and Kíli on his heels just made it worse.

A week after his dream, Fíli was woken by Kili’s screaming. Before he could get to Kíli, their bedroom door opened, their mother came running in.

“Kíli? What’s wrong, my little one?”

“A bad dream, Amad. That’s all, just a bad dream.” Said Fíli.

“A bad dream?”

“Yes Amad. Just a dream.”

“Sounds like more than a dream, Fíli.”

Something made him say it.

“He dreamt about his One, Amad, about losing his One.”

“Oh, my sweet boy. His One? Who is his One?”

“He hasn’t met her yet. He’s just dreamed about her.”

“How do you know? Has he said?”

“We share the same dream, the same battle, where he loses his One. And I meet and lose mine. The same battle. Leave him be, Amad. I’ll stay with him.” Amad looked him in the eyes and stood quickly.

“Yes, you stay with him.” Amad was stunned, that didn’t happen often. What did she see in his eyes that would startle her?

She left the room, passing uncle in the door, uncle looked at them, sadness in his eyes.

“The quest?” He asked, quietly

“Yes Uncle.”

“You could stay home. Stay safe.”

“No Uncle, we cannot. We travel with you.” Fíli’s voice was quiet but strong, hard. “You are not going alone.” They were going, it was the only way to save Uncle… and themselves.

Uncle nodded and turned and left, Fíli heard his door close, not until then did he get up and move to Kíli’s bed, he sat beside his sobbing brother. He leaned close and whispered in his ear.

“It wasn’t a dream, it was real, Kí. Real.”

Kíli lifted his head and looked at Fíli.

“What?”

“It’s not a dream, Kí. It was real. Real.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I-”

“How do you know what I dreamt about?” His ever curious brother asked.

“Kí, it wasn’t a dream. Our quest, Bilbo, trolls, elves, goblins, Orcs, dragons, gold madness. Sound familiar?” Fíli growled.

“Oh, Mahal. Fíli, you died, I saw you die. I died, too… Did…? Did Uncle die?”

“I don’t know, Ki, I don’t know. I didn’t see.”

The two brothers sat on Kíli’s bed for a while, but when Fíli made to move back to his own bed, Kíli whimpered and clutched at him. He ran his hand through his brother’s hair and began to hum, the two lay down and finally went back to sleep, holding each other.

 

The following week had Thorin watching the brothers, their nightmares had changed them, gone were the reckless, immature hot-heads. They were more mature, not as exuberant. He found he missed the light-hearted brats, these two with the same faces were strong, serious dwarrow.

A week after the house was woken by Kíli, Thorin sat up in bed, waking himself.

Was that what had happened to the boys?

Oh, Mahal! What had he done?!

He spent the rest of the night just sitting, trying to come to grips with what he’d done. Done to Bilbo, to his nephews, about the war he’d nearly caused. In the darkness he sat trying to work out what to do next. With Dís meeting the guild masters of Ered Luin, he and the boys had the house to themselves for a few more days, they could talk, hopefully they would accept his apology. Just because they were joining him on this Quest, didn’t mean they forgave him for leading them to deaths, for failing them.

As the light of dawn broke Thorin finally dressed and left his room, heading for the kitchen and coffee. Shortly after the smell of coffee filled the small house and his nephews came stumbling out.

“Morning, Uncle.” Kíli was far more awake than Fíli. As always.

“Hmunca.” The blonde brother grunted.

Thorin places mugs in front of them without a word. Kíli looked askance at the mugs, Thorin rarely let them have coffee, he said they didn’t need the stimulation.

Thorin nodded and picked up his own mug, sipping the brew.

When the lads looked like they were more awake, he spoke.

“I’m sorry, boys, I’m so sorry. I should have fought the madness harder. I should have listened to Balin, to Bilbo, to you. I’m sorry.” He hung his head.

The brothers lifted theirs in shock and looked at their Uncle, they turned and looked at each other, having one of their rapid ‘no-words needed’ conversations.

“Did you survive the battle, Uncle?” Kíli finally asked.

“I survived Azog’s death, I lived long enough to apologise to Bilbo, to take back my words and actions at the Gate. I did not survive the battle long.” He whispered.

“Do you remember the note?”

“What note?”

“At the end of the dream or the ‘not-a-dream’, before we woke, Kíli and I were in Bilbo’s house, in his study I think. There was a desk with a calendar on it. The date was 23 September and under that there was a note. It said

You have seven months.

Use them well.

You will not be alone.

Others will remember

Allies will join you

DO NOT LET THEM DIE!

Then there was a voice, a deep male voice and he said You will help him. You will not be alone either.’ After that everything was bright white and I woke trying to scream.” Said Fíli. “We think that means that Bilbo is the one that came back first and that we have to help him. We’re not sure who the them is, that the note talks about, though, at first we thought it might be us, but if you think about it?”

Others will remember, that obviously means us. Allies will join you, it could be talking about the Company. Or it could mean other allies. We… think that it’s the allies that Bilbo has to keep alive. Either way, he’s been there since September. Fíli remembered in October and you and I, in November. Can we write to him? Please, Uncle?” Kíli continued.

“And say what, Kíli? That we remember taking him on a quest that’s going put him in danger many times. A Quest that gets us killed? That I’m going threaten to kill him? You really think that’s a good idea, Kíli?”

“No, Uncle, don’t be silly. We write and say that Gandalf gave us his name and recommended him in regards a matter of our quest. If he does remember, all we have to do is hint at a couple of things that did happen and that will let him know that we remember.”

“We’ve been thinking about doing ourselves for a few days, but couldn’t come up with a good enough reason why. Not until you met Gandalf at the tavern again last night.”

“Do you think he’ll forgive us, Uncle? We didn’t stand by him, when you…” Fíli hesitated.

“He forgave me Fíli. Me. Bilbo is too caring not to forgive you, not if he forgave me. My irakdashshat, how could he not?” Thorin reached across the table for his nephews hands, he gave each of them a squeeze. “Write to him. At the very least, he will be warned of our arrival… And of our numbers. Blasted wizards.”

 

Dear Mister Baggins,

 

“Master Baggins, Fíli. Remember, he corrected Elrond when he called Bilbo ‘mister’.”

“Oh, yeah. Forgot that.” Fíli crossed out the mister and wrote master above it.

“Shouldn’t you start a new page?”

“No. Not until we get this right and know exactly what we want to say and how to say it.”

“Oh…, yeah. Good point.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

A letter arrived at Bag End, written in a formal hand on heavy parchment. It looked very out of place in his hand, amongst the rough paper used in the Shire.

 

Dear Master Baggins.

We have been given your name by the Wizard, Gandalf the Grey. He has recommended you to our Uncle, Thorin, Son of Thráin, Son of Thrór, King-in-Exile of Erebor. We are hopeful that you may be willing to be of assistance to us in our Quest to reclaim our home.

We understand that Hobbits value home and family above most and so we ask that you consider our request.

The Company of Thorin Oakenshield will face many dangers, including trolls, wargs, goblins and Orcs, but you may also meet Elves, Skin-Changers, Men and perhaps someone to riddle with. The wilds of the east also hold dark forests with giant spiders and river rapids. We will try to avoid these.

Our Uncle will travel to Ered Luin to meet with envoys from the Seven Dwarrow Kingdoms. We, and the 10 other members of our Company, are planning to meet with him in Bree in mid-to-late April and hope that we will have the chance to visit your home, then.

Please, Master Baggins, give us a chance. Dwarrow are noisy and can be volatile, it is true, but we are also friendly and when we like someone, we are extremely loyal. We value our friends and family greatly, just as Hobbits do.

Yours

Fíli and Kíli, Sons of Víli, Son Gr á li,  

Princes of the Line of Durin

 

Well, thank heavens for that. He’d begun to wonder if the lads were going to just turn up the same was as last time. Now he had some backup, Fortimbras was being a pain and arguing with him, Bilbo was sure it was just for the sake of arguing.

The shire was getting crowded and Bilbo had a plan, but… of course there was some objection, there always was to something new. Talking to Fortim about where some of his younger cousins could hear, well? That might have been a bit underhanded, but it got the job done. What better way to spread a rumour than to not spread it yourself?

 

Sindarin = (S)                        Quenya = (Q)                        Khuzdul = (K)

 

Amad = Mother (K)

Irakdashshat = nephew (K)

*Stone-headed = personal insult accusing someone of being dense/stupid