Notes: Bilbo's garden is very much a rock garden, a smallish patch of grass and lots of flowers and greens that grow in mountainous terrain. I basically imagine part of the 'balcony' to be covered not with stones but with soil and greens, but with walls running around its entirety. The aforementioned herb garden will still need to be created.

Translation of Khuzdul: Ughvash - greatest treasure, Ukrd - greatest heart.


Chapter 16 - A New World

Now (3021 T.A.)

Bilbo's eyes had widened almost comically when he laid eyes on the mountain for the first time and Thorin felt his heart swell in his chest. He had longed to show the hobbit Erebor, to see his face when Bilbo beheld the mountain for the first time. And his hobbit's expression was all the dwarf had expected it to be, and more. The pride and awe in those grey eyes...it made the memory of those long years fade to nothingness. Bilbo was here now, and that was that.

"You saw the mountain at its worst, but this, this is what it was like before the dragon came. Before the Arkenstone was found." Bilbo reached out to touch Thorin's hand, lacing their fingers together. The ponies stood unmoving, as if they knew not to disturb their riders. "I would ask you how you found the mountain when you visited but...I don't wish to remind you of..." Your tomb, where he wished to lie down beside you.

"Din had done his best to restore it to its former glory, but... I could not really see it. Bofur led me around but it just wasn't the same. It wasn't you. And Bofur knew, else he wouldn't have led me to the tombs after only a little while. There...there was a statue of you..." Bilbo's voice was breaking and Thorin squeezed the hobbit's hand encouragingly. He had to be able to see their home with new eyes, needed to let go of his memories. "It was so lifelike, Thorin. And I so wished it would...start walking down the pedestal and... But I prefer this," he gestured at their laced hands, "You're warm and alive and not a statue come to life. You're not the same dwarf you used to be, or maybe I'm only really seeing all of you now." He smiled shyly. "Back then, I never truly dared to think of you as mine. And now..."

"Yours," Thorin whispered before bringing Bilbo's hand to his lips, kissing the hobbit's knuckles. "And this is our kingdom, my hobbit. It is time that you saw it up close." With that, Thorin motioned Bilbo to follow him. The road was lined with lamps so that the path was clearly visible even in the dark. Pointing to the west, Thorin began explaining their plans in detail. "There is fertile ground about a mile from here, and even some small hills that would make it a perfect place for a hobbit settlement. Your father was quite intrigued by the idea..." Bilbo nodded numbly, but the expression on his face was simply priceless. Apparently he still found it rather hard to believe that Bungo Baggins, his father, was the Mayor of New Delving. "I think they are busy making their own plans, and have been doing so for quite some time if your mother is to be believed. They wanted to wait until we were done with the main construction works on the outside of the mountain though."

"You are aware that with her so close, we will hardly have a moment of peace. And also, there is no way that something that is going to happen in less than a year," Bilbo's hand went to his braid, "will be a nice and quiet affair...by hobbit standards, that is. She will have the whole place in an uproar, and not just the hobbitfolk. She will involve dwarves and elves as well, and I think if she could, even the Valar." Thorin chuckled at the idea of having the Valar attend their bonding ceremony. "You laugh now, but wait until you meet a very determined Belladonna Baggins. To call her a force to be reckoned with isn't given her justice enough."

"And you believe I would object? If your mother insisted on inviting Smaug himself I would let her. As long as you are mine at the end of it." And the smile Bilbo bestowed upon him in response only reaffirmed his statement. "I believe the elves wish to settle along the slopes to the east, near the waterfall. We will have elves living on top of our mountain, Bilbo. I'm not sure I will be able to take that." The hobbit simply smirked. "Oh yes, hilarious, I know. I think if Turgon could he would turn half the mountain into an elven kingdom simply to have a place to hide from Thingol." The smirk had turned into laughter and Thorin could feel the corners of his mouth tug upwards, but he reigned them in. This was serious business and not a laughing matter after all. "And there will be a great market where we are standing now. The elves are eager to resume trade with our craftsmen, as are the hobbits."

"And why are you looking so surprised at that? We might be the small people, but we do have taste. And while not all hobbits are aware just where their newest trinket came from, you would be surprised how many dwarven items could be found in the Shire." The hobbit's eyes met Thorin's then, merriment in their grey depth. But then... "And elven ones for that matter," he added with a grin.

"Well, I can't blame the small people for their lapse in judgement where that is concerned. At least hobbits have splendid taste where other things are concerned," he winked at a blushing Bilbo. "I would stop this, Master Baggins." The hobbit made a sound at the back of his throat that sounded like, "Huh?" so Thorin elaborated. "The blushing, Bilbo. It makes me want to see if I can't make you flushed all over, and that would mean cutting our tour short and making straight for the Royal Chambers. Which in turn would probably mean that both in and Lord Elrond are going to skin me alive, so.. Stop it." But instead of following Thorin's request, Bilbo's blush only deepened. Thorin groaned.

"I don't recall in or Elrond saying anything like that, my betrothed." Surely Bilbo wasn't suggesting... "All they said was that I should take things slow..." The hobbit was drawing up to him and then he felt a small hand on his thigh, the simple touch burning the skin underneath his breeches. "And I recall something you told me in Esgaroth...after... You said that in Erebor, I wouldn't have to worry about anyone hearing what we were doing as your chambers were soundproof. I would like to put that theory to the test, my King..." Every word made the blood pulse in Thorin's veins as it pooled in his groin. Any lesser dwarf than Thorin Oakenshield would have been squirming in his saddle and it was just through sheer force of will that the king refrained from doing so as well.

It still took all his self-control to wrap a hand around Bilbo's wrist and not move it higher up on his thigh but to lift it to his lips to kiss the hobbit's palm. "Soon, my hobbit. Soon. But I think you would rather our people didn't start gossiping the first day you are here." Bilbo sighed and nodded, withdrawing his hand altogether. He hadn't thought of that it would seem. "Public displays of affection are not uncommon amongst dwarves, but there are things that I will not share with anyone. They are for my eyes alone, ughvash." And if the hobbit was now glaring daggers at him, obviously trying...and failing...to will away the bulge in his trousers, Thorin surely couldn't be blamed for that. "Let's move on, my betrothed. Our people long to see the hobbit who was so brave and faced the dragon on his own, the hobbit who made me long to be a better dwarf, a better king."

Slowly they made their way down the road, the great gates drawing ever closer. Thorin saw Bilbo lift his head and followed the hobbit's gaze to the battlements. They looked different than they had... During the initial planning stages, Thorin couldn't stand the idea of them bearing any resemblance to their counterparts in Middle-earth but he also felt as if he deserved the constant reminder of what he had done to Bilbo. But it was his nephews who had straight away insisted on a different design, pointing out certain flaws. Bilbo smiled at him now, no, positively beamed at him. "New memories, Thorin... Better memories." The dwarf could only agree. Then Bilbo pointed up, at the smaller battlements, halfway up the mountain. "What's that? I don't recall Erebor..."

"Erebor never needed a garden for the king's consort, Bilbo. Now we do." The hobbit gasped. "Originally it was planned as a simple balcony for the king's chambers, but there were two rather insistent dwarves involved in the planning who wouldn't let go of their firm belief that Uncle Bilbo would need a place to be hobbitish, even in the Mountain." Then an idea struck him. "Maybe you could ask Kli to help you with it? I don't know how much you will be able to do before the first snows, but..."

Bilbo nodded slowly. "Not much, no. But there are certain things Kli might teach me. Frodo told me how he enjoyed his lessons with your nephews, so... It breaks my heart to think he believes himself..."

"Worthless." Thorin swallowed. "I never knew, Bilbo. That he blamed himself for what happened to me. It wasn't his fault, never his fault. But I'm afraid he won't even listen at the moment. However, when he does, I will make him understand that sacrificing himself meant that I could have those precious few moments with you. The memory of it haunted me, but I also treasured it as I thought it was the last time..."

"And yet, the first thing you said to me after eighty long years was 'Master Baggins' and then it all went downhill from that. How could you think that I wouldn't love you still, that I didn't still miss you, that I wouldn't long for you... Stubborn dwarves, the lot of you! I swear Kli has it from you. Have an opinion and then stick with it no matter what." The hobbit's expression had been almost angry, but it softened then, "But I know that with the right incentive, you can be swayed. Although I wish it hadn't involved Azog..."

"It didn't. Even if you hadn't saved my life, your little monologue after you miraculously reappeared was enough to destroy the remainder of my, as you call it, stubbornness. But seeing you put yourself between me and that orc...I thought my heart would shatter. After that, there was no way I could not seek you out that night..." His mind graciously provided him with flashes of that first kiss they had shared, the first time he had held his hobbit in his arms, the first time Bilbo had come undone under his ministrations... He swallowed hard and then glared at Bilbo's knowing smile. Well, he wouldn't smile for much longer. "Remember how you wanted to relive the memory of Esgaroth? Think what we can do in your garden, ukrd... Only you will need to be more quiet so the guards below us won't know what their king is doing to his hobbit..."

Bilbo seemed mortified, though Thorin wondered if it was because of what he had proposed or because of the hobbit's obvious reaction to said proposal. "And they make someone like you their king? I always thought kings were supposed to be refined and honourable and tactful and kind. Right now, I don't see any of those things in you. And now, I would like to continue our tour if you don't mind, thank you very much." Thorin laughed before urging his pony onwards to catch up with the disgruntled hobbit. Oh yes, they would make use of Bilbo's garden in more ways than just the most obvious.

---

Din had done remarkable work in his absence, Thorin had to give him that. Where there had been scaffolding still when he left for Tirion almost three months ago, the walls were now inlaid with precious metals and gems. Railings had been affixed to most of the walkways...Bilbo was obviously very glad to see that...and both the Throne Room and the main market had been completed to Thorin's specifications. The market was busy and the dwarf king could tell that the hobbit by his side was itching to look at the wares. That was before folk began to bow to him. "Why would they bow to a simple hobbit? I'm nothing special..."

"You are, Bilbo. Even if you weren't my betrothed, you are still the hobbit who helped us regain our homeland. You would still be a most trusted member of my council. But as it is, you will be their king's consort, you will rule by my side and as such my kin show you the honours you deserve. It would be a grave insult if you asked them to stop." Which was true enough. "You are part of the royal household now, and the sooner you accept that, the better. I'm afraid the time to choose whether you want this life or not is long gone. You're not just a simple hobbit; no simple hobbit would have run out of his door to go on an adventure with a company of dwarves he barely knew. You're extraordinary, always were. No matter what I said to discourage you from continuing the journey. All that was was, well, me being my not so smart self." Bilbo chuckled despite his embarrassment. "You're so much more than a grocer..."

"This is all so very grand though. I'm afraid it'll be far too big for a hobbit, for me. I never want to disappoint you and I fear that I shall." Pleading grey eyes were seeking affirmation, and Thorin gave it only too gladly. Pulling the hobbit closer, he rested his forehead against Bilbo's and could feel the halfling's breathing slow down until it was almost normal again. "I never want you to be disappointed in me again..." That blasted, blasted stone! And Bilbo had asked him to let go of the guilt when it so clearly still gnawed at the hobbit.

"That wasn't me, Bilbo. It was the gold..." The hobbit shook his head. What then?

"Not that. I know that what transpired after Smaug's demise was not your doing. I only wish you would get that into that thick head of yours. I mean the barrels. You looked at me as if you would rather stay behind than climb into one. It had been the only escape route I had been able to come up with and..." He was biting his lower lip now and pulled him closer still.

"Only because I worried about you. It was clear to me that the idea of going down the river filled you with terror, so..." Bilbo stepped out of the embrace then, his mouth forming a voiceless 'Oh!' "There was but one time I felt disappointment because of you...when we thought you had left us. Before you so miraculously appeared in our midst. I was disappointed that I had seemingly succeeded in driving you away, but I hadn't..."

"So I didn't imagine that...you did sound hurt. I simply couldn't fathom why you would be when all you had done up until then was try to drive me away." The hobbit smiled at the memory. "I guess that was my last chance to sneak away, huh?" Thorin nodded, trying to be as serious as possible when his chest was about to burst with happiness. "Well, that's too bad then. I guess I will just have to stick around then and be terribly embarrassed instead. At least the dwarves here aren't Thrin or King Thrr, so I won't faint...again." There was a sheepish grin on Bilbo's lips as he said the last bit, but then it faded away and was replaced by a shy smile. "What else do you have in store for me then, my King? What else is there you wish to show me?"

There was more, much more Bilbo needed to see, but at that moment, there was only one place Thorin wanted to take the hobbit. So when they finally stood in front of the gem-encrusted doors of the royal wing and Bilbo's eyes once again resembled saucers, Thorin couldn't stop the shivers going up and down his spine. He had dreamt of this, of having his hobbit by his side. Until now, the rooms beyond the great doors had been too empty, devoid of life, no matter the chaos his two nephews sometimes created. Most nights Thorin had been spending in his study, working on more blueprints or other papers until he fell asleep at his desk. The bed had been cold, too cold without his hobbit beside him. Now though...

Pushing open the doors, Thorin nodded to the two guards on watch duty, "Has everything been taken care of?"

"Yes, Sire. And Lord Balin instructed us to not let anyone past for the remainder of the day." The guard then turned towards Bilbo, bowing again, "My Lord, my name is Ragnar, at your service. It is an honour to finally meet you."

This time, Bilbo held his ground. "Thank you, Ragnar. I am...pleased to make your acquaintance as well." If he all but ran into the royal quarters, it couldn't lessen the pride Thorin felt in that moment.

"Thank you, Ragnar. And as you said, no interruptions until the morrow. Unless it's something that can't wait." The guard bowed yet again and Thorin followed Bilbo past the doors that closed behind him with a loud bang.

Several doors were leading away from the central hall; rooms for all members of the royal household. Reaching for Bilbo's hand, he began walking towards the doors at the far end of the hall. "Kli and Fli have the rooms to either side of ours, however they spend most of their time in Kli's, something about the view being better from there. But I won't begrudge them seeking out each other's company. How could I?" They had reached the end of the hall and Thorin motioned for Bilbo to open the doors. And as expected, the hobbit gasped as he stepped inside his new home...