Notes: Um...please don't hate me? And if you kill me I can't post anything else, which might be counterproductive :P
Translation of Khuzdul: uzayang - greatest love, ukrâd - greatest heart, âzyungâl - lover (beloved), âzyungel - love of love (greatest love)
Chapter 11 - On the Road
Now (3021 T.A.)
When they reached Tirion that day, Thrór and Thráin bid them farewell. The older dwarf had taken Bilbo aside for a moment and gazed at the hobbit almost sternly. "Take care of my grandson, Master Baggins. His happiness now depends on you and you only. With you by his side, he will be a better king than I ever was. You taught him compassion and kindness when all he had known for long years were suffering and hardship. And you cured him of the sickness that is the curse of our line. Never again will gold or jewels have that hold over him." The dwarf smiled down at him then. "He could not have chosen a more worthy person to share his life with."
Bilbo blushed as always when someone mentioned his worth. Part of him still marvelled at the course his life had taken when he met the grumpy dwarven king. It was the same part that could still not quite believe that the attraction he had felt almost immediately was not only reciprocated but that Thorin was willing to share everything in his life with a small hobbit of the Shire. "It is not only like that for Thorin, my king." Thrór cleared his throat, but Bilbo simply shrugged. There was just no way that he would call the former King under the Mountain by his name as the dwarf had insisted. "I...I cannot even fathom life without him. I couldn't go back now, not ever. You think I make him a better ruler, but he makes me want to be the best I could ever be. And he does that with everyone around him. He inspired such loyalty and faith in all members of the Company. That was him, all him."
"So do you, Master Hobbit, so do you. Fíli and Kíli would probably follow you as much as they would Thorin, and my grandson himself..." Thrór sighed, "The darkness of the past eighty years has finally been lifted off of him and there are no words to express my gratitude for it. There were times when I worried for him...even here in Valinor. But he would not speak of the past, would not speak of you. It was my granddaughter's sons that finally enlightened both myself and Thráin. And then we finally understood why Thorin was little more than an empty shell at times. It is you who completes him. And know this, Bilbo Baggins of the Shire. No dwarf in our kingdom will ever begrudge you your place by the King's side. For they have witnessed his heartache and will now see how changed he is."
How did Thrór know that... "I...I am but a hobbit..."
"No, you are the hobbit who helped reclaim Erebor. Who risked the wrath of a King to prevent bloodshed by stealing the Arkenstone. The hobbit who gave up so much to help a group of dwarves he didn't know. We will not soon forget that."
Thráin had joined them at that point and added, "And you have given my son the greatest gift ever, and I will not soon forget that." Bilbo lowered his gaze in embarrassment, but an almost gentle touch to his forearm made him lift his head again. "I would ask this of you, Master Baggins. Watch over my son and grandsons. And make sure that Fíli and Kíli don't get into too much trouble." That was almost asking for the impossible. But Bilbo nodded. "You are part of the House of Durin now, you and your nephew. And within a year, I will be able to call you my son." Thráin's face was altered beyond belief by the beaming smile he then bestowed upon the hobbit. "And I know of nothing that would make me prouder than being able to do just that."
Then both dwarves bowed ever so slightly again and Bilbo had to fight the urge to faint. It simply wouldn't do. "Now, I believe the High King will wish to address this new Company, and my father and I are expected as well, so we will bid you farewell now." Thráin turned, but then, as if as an afterthought added, "Oh and Master Hobbit, it can grow quite chilly up in the mountains. You may want to wear a cloak...I'm sure my son can assist with that." And if knowing glances were exchanged between the two dwarves, Bilbo could not discern their meaning.
"Farewell for now, Bilbo Baggins. I do not doubt that we will meet again soon." And then Thrór was gone as well and Bilbo walked back to where the rest of the Company was waiting, still awed by just how accepting the two dwarf lords were of him. Maybe you aren't just a simple hobbit after all? Because if you were, how could you have possibly won the heart of a king?
Of the very king who now held out his hand to him and pulled him close. "Are you ready to meet the king of all the pointy-ears?" Bilbo snorted at that and raised his hand to his own ears. "Oh, forgive me, almost all of the pointy-ears in Valinor. I'm still hoping that he changed his mind about the two elves, but knowing Turgon, I'm afraid he won't do me that particular favour. For some reason I think the High King will be glad to see the backs of Ecthelion and Glorfindel..."
Thorin might have elaborated more, but at that moment a group of dark-haired elves appeared amongst them, led by a tall male wearing a golden circlet upon his brow. The High King himself. And he was smiling. At Bilbo! "Master Baggins, finally we meet." Then he gave a curt nod to Thorin, "Everything is ready, and trade should be picking up as well now that you will begin construction of the mines. We will be sending our craftsmen to the Mountain within the month." Thorin nodded. "Lord Elrond has expressed an interest in the settlement," Bilbo could feel the dwarf king tense beside him, "I believe he thinks there is reason for you both to make amends...and he also wishes to be near his hobbit friend." Once again he smiled at Bilbo. "I foresee this to be the beginning of more than just a coexistence, King Thorin, something that I for one would welcome...even though some of my kind may be opposed to the very idea."
Was Turgon suggesting... "Erebor would be honoured to call Tirion its ally." And did Thorin... Bilbo pinched himself. Surely this was not possible. "And we will be happy to send some of our surveyors to Nargothrond once the plans of our mines have been finalised."
"I shall send word to Finrod." Turgon bowed ever so slightly, but Bilbo could tell that Thorin was beyond surprised. The tall elf then turned back to Bilbo, "And I hope that we will be able to talk next time we meet, Master Baggins. I have heard much about you from the Lords Elrond and Glorfindel, and from your nephew..." Frodo had spoken to the High King?! "For now though I have to leave you. Farewell, and may your journey be safe and swift." Then he added with a grin...a grin, "And if the Lord of the Fountain gets too troublesome for you, feel free to throw him off a cliff." Then he turned away and was gone.
Bilbo simply stared after him before rounding on the dwarf next to him, "You seem to be getting along quite well with the people you claim to hate, Master Oakenshield. I was worried that you only put up with them for my sake, but..."
"Turgon is unlike any elf I met in Middle-earth. He thinks of us as his equals, if not in height then in everything else. He's said as much to me when I first met him. Granted, back then I did not feel like cooperating with him very much. It took Ecthelion years of whittling down my false pride by insinuating himself into the planning of our new realm and making sure I knew just how helpful the elves were to us. Turgon is nothing like Thranduil, which can't be said of Thingol. I met him once and, trust me, if I never meet him again, it will be too soon." Thorin linked their fingers together and lowered his eyes to gaze at their locked hands. "It is true that in the beginning the only reason I, as you phrased it, put up with them was because there was that ever so slight possibility of being given a second chance with you. But since then I've seen the error in my ways. They were our allies before, and so they shall be again."
And maybe they would be more in due course. With Elrond as close as Bilbo imagined, there would be many chances to interact with the elf lord, many chances to move beyond the misconceptions and misgivings of the past. But for now he simply kissed Thorin and whispered, "And here I thought dwarves were too stubborn to see their own folly." The dwarven king huffed at that, but Bilbo silenced him with another kiss. "I am so very proud of you. And I love you, more than I will ever be able to express." He could see Kíli approach and quickly pulled himself away from his betrothed. "I fear we are holding up the Company, so we may have to continue this conversation later..." Thorin chuckled as they joined everyone and they set out yet again, going north and west.
Thráin had been right. It was getting colder and once again Bilbo wished he had taken up Thorin's offer of a cloak for the day's ride. But no, he was going to be fine with his coat, thank you very much. It had been enough in the Misty Mountains, it would be enough here. But maybe he could ask when they stopped for the night. "Uncle..." That was Fíli. "I think we should seek shelter. Those clouds look rather threatening and it would be foolish to be caught out in a thunderstorm in this terrain." Bilbo could only agree with that. The terrain Fíli had referred to was very similar to the Misty Mountains and the hobbit could only recall too well how fun the thunderstorm there had been. It was one thing to be cold, but quite another to be cold and wet. It was just a shame he couldn't stop to pick some of the wild chives and parsley...the fresh herbs would make their dinner so much nicer.
"Agreed. Scout ahead you two and find a suitable spot. Big enough for the tents mind you, I don't think the idea of spending a night out in the rain is appealing to our elven friends." Thorin smirked at Ecthelion and Glorfindel who pretended as if they hadn't heard the insult. By now Bilbo knew that such affronts were said in jest only and he could have sworn that something like a friendship was growing between the dwarven king and the two elf lords. Actually, he was willing to bet that Thorin already thought of Lord Ecthelion as a friend, though obviously he would rather die than admit to it.
It was a little while later that Kíli returned. "There is a clearing just up ahead. Big enough for all the tents and the ponies and horses. Fíli stayed behind to get a fire going but we will have to hurry if we plan on eating today. The storm is about to break." And indeed the clouds had grown even darker urging everyone to move faster. Once the clearing had been reached, Fíli and Kíli made short work of setting up the tents while Bilbo fussed over the cooking. The elves had caught some rabbits the previous day and thus tonight there would be another feast, this time of rabbit stew. By the time the ponies and horses had been taken care of, Bilbo was stirring the stew, the big pot emitting the most delicious scent.
Frodo was sitting with Balin and Ori, probably discussing some more dwarven histories or customs, Fíli and Kíli were busy debating this or that with the two elves and Thorin was sitting close, gazing into the fire. The evening was growing colder still, and the knowledge of the imminent thunderstorm made Bilbo shudder. "You are cold, hobbit. I knew it. Let me..." Bilbo half-expected the warmth of Thorin's fur coat around his shoulders, but no. It was a hobbit-sized cloak that was placed around him, must like the one Frodo wore. And then he saw the clasp.
"Thorin..." He inhaled, words having escaped him for the moment.
"My father gave it to me...it was my mother's. Befitting the King's chosen one." The design was identical to Thorin's ring and the hobbit's hand went to the place where it hung around his neck. "You are one of the House of Durin now, uzayang, and now everyone will know you to be just that." Bilbo's brow furrowed at the unfamiliar word. "Bilbo, what is it?" And then Thorin smiled, and it was the warmest smile Bilbo had ever seen the dwarf bestow on anyone. His eyes were sparkling as he gently took Bilbo's hand in his. "I think we should think about asking Balin or Ori to teach you our language. For if you knew it...ukrâd." Thorin was enjoying this far too much, so Bilbo prodded him in the ribs. The dwarf just chuckled.
Both heads snapped around when they heard someone...Fíli...clear his throat rather noisily. "I didn't mean to spy on you two, honest, but uncle...you are being unkind to Bilbo. So if you won't tell him, Kíli and I will be all too glad to. And we will not only translate, but also give a running commentary..."
"That won't be necessary," Thorin all but growled at his nephew. "But as you're here anyway, make yourselves useful and stir the lovely dinner Bilbo has prepared for us. We will be back shortly." With that, he dragged the startled hobbit to his feet and into their tent. Thorin's nephews would pay for their snickering, Bilbo was sure of that. Thorin turned to Bilbo in the dim twilight and the hobbit shivered at the gentleness in Thorin's eyes. "Know this, my hobbit, never have I spoken these words to anyone. And there will never be anyone else. You are âzyungâl, my lover. And âzyungel, my love of love." There was a lump in Bilbo's throat and the hobbit swallowed convulsively around it. Calloused fingers caressed his face as Thorin continued, his voice so warm and tender that Bilbo feared his heart might overflow with love. "I have never known anyone with a greater heart, so you are ukrâd, the greatest heart. And you are my greatest love...uzayang."
Tears were running down the hobbit's cheeks and Thorin brushed them away before pulling Bilbo close. "I..." There were no words, not nearly enough words to tell the dwarf, his dwarf, how he felt. So he placed a chaste kiss on Thorin's lips and whispered, "Âzyungel..." The word felt weird rolling off his tongue, but so right as well. His hands went back to the cloak clasp and with a smile he added, "Thank you. I wish I had something to give to you as well..."
"You have given me everything I could ever want, Bilbo..."
And just as Thorin was about to initiate another kiss, Balin coughed rather noisily outside the tent. "And while this is really and truly romantic, we are all hungry and those clouds look like they mean business. I don't think watered-down stew will be nearly as nice as...you know...the original version of it. So would you two mind terribly if I asked you to join us and..." Thorin opened the tent flaps at that point, staring down at his old friend and tutor. But Balin didn't flinch. "You can't scare me, laddie. Not after what I've just heard. You should beg Aulë for mercy so I don't accidentally let some of those things slip to my dearest brother when he joins us..." Valar, Balin was blackmailing Thorin, and apparently was succeeding as the dwarf king merely glared for a moment longer before pulling Bilbo along with him towards the fire.
They were just in time. Half an hour after they were finished with dinner their fire had been extinguished by the downpour and everyone had fled into their respective tents. Thunder could be heard, and lighting made the camp appear bright as day for brief moments. But for some reason Thorin seemed to like the turn of events. He had already been lying on his bedroll when Bilbo entered the tent having been kept behind by Balin who offered his services for Khuzdul lessons. With a feral growl, Thorin had pulled the startled hobbit on top of himself and proceeded to kiss him within an inch of his life. "It's been a week, my betrothed, a week! And in this weather, no one will hear you moan my name, or cry out as I make you come undone..." And cry out Bilbo did...several times.
The sound of happy chattering woke Thorin the next morning and, finding Bilbo gone, the dwarf quickly donned his garments and left the tent. The sun had barely risen but if they set out soon, they might be able to see Erebor come evening. And Thorin longed for nothing more than to show Bilbo, show his hobbit their new home. It would still take another week to reach the mountain, but soon they'd be there. Home. Though aren't you home wherever he is? That was true. And that was when he noticed that the hobbit was nowhere to be seen. "Where's Bilbo?"
Balin shrugged, "He went to find some herbs. Said he saw them yesterday before we stopped. Should be back soon." Thorin was already halfway through the camp following the trail they had come the previous day when the older dwarf called after him, "And please, whatever you do, be quiet this time. The thunder muffled most, but not all sounds of your nightly activities..." He chuckled and went back to his cram. Dear Aulë, Bilbo would kill him if he ever found out. But maybe, just maybe he could prevent that from happening. Even if it involved bribery. Thorin Oakenshield was not above that, not where Bilbo's peace of mind was concerned. And his own for that matter.
He had only walked for ten minutes when he found the site of the mudslide...the very recent mudslide. And his heart stopped in his chest. There, a few feet away from him, lay Bilbo. The hobbit had obviously noticed what was about to happen to the hillside and had tried to get away. Only his foot had been caught in the root of a tree and he had fallen to the ground. Thorin rushed to Bilbo's lifeless body to find that he had struck his head, hard. There was blood on the rock under his head, and blood on the hobbit's temple. "Dear Aulë, no... Bilbo..." And as he gathered the small form to him, he murmured over and over, "Come back to me, Bilbo...don't leave me..."