Notes: Once a person steps foot on Valinor grounds, aging reverts to a point when they were in their prime. There is no further aging after that either, so any children born in Valinor will grow older normally until they reach their prime as well.

Chapter 3 - Reunion

Now (3021 T.A.)

The ship had finally reached the harbour, and disembarkment was in full swing when the two hobbits at last walked down the gangway, closely followed by Gandalf. "There he is!" Bilbo heard a shout that sounded somewhat familiar followed by "Excuse me, pardon me, coming through" and then he was lifted by two pairs of arms and hugged so tightly that he was worried he might faint or worse. "We missed you so much, we finally have our burglar back!" Fíli? Kíli? Oh no, it was official. He had lost his mind. But he couldn't think of a better way to go, not really.

Someone chuckled behind them. And as Bilbo turned, his eyes all of a sudden sharper than they had been for years, Gandalf had suddenly disappeared and there was a fair haired elf in the wizard's robes standing where the Gandalf had been. "I see you will be in good hands, Bilbo. As will you I'm sure Frodo..." He chuckled again, "Oh don't look at me like that. You didn't really think the old wizard was out of tricks, did you?" And then he turned to the two dwarves who still had an arm each around Bilbo. "And you two, close your mouths, will you? It's unbecoming of dwarves of Durin's line." He brushed past dwarves and hobbits alike. "If you should need me, send word to Olórin...or He-who-used-to-be-Gandalf if you wish." Yes, Bilbo had most definitely lost his mind...

Then the two young dwarves pushed him forward, dragging a startled Frodo with them and... "Balin? Ori?" It wasn't possible. Dwarves didn't go to Valinor, they just didn't! Or maybe...

"Ah, Bilbo... And Master Frodo... Balin, Son of your service." But it was a much younger Balin that bowed to both hobbits, his hair and beard not the white of snow, but a grey that was closer to being black than white. And Ori just smiled one of his shy smiles and bowed as well.

Frodo stood next to Bilbo and looked beyond shell-shocked. "Um, Frodo...these are Fíli and Kíli, and Balin, and here's Ori too." Frodo just stared. "How did can you is this possible?"

Fíli smiled at the other dwarves and then at Bilbo. "All will be explained, but for now...why don't you leave your nephew with us? I'm sure he knows who we are, right?" Bilbo nodded. "Good. That's settled then. We've heard so much about the quest of the Fellowship from all the elves coming across these past few years, but we finally want to hear the whole story, you know, from someone who lived it. We promise we won't bite him or anything nasty. And look, Balin is here, and Ori... They're no fun at all when it comes know... Ouch!" Balin had smacked him across the head at that last part and Fíli grumbled to himself. "He's acting like he's still my teacher!"

"And I will always be, young Fíli, until the day you're old and grey...and as that will never happen unless you venture into the Halls..." Balin smirked. He actually smirked! And winked at Bilbo. "Don't worry, laddie, we have it all under control, and young Frodo will be perfectly safe with us. But..." and at that he turned more serious, "there is someone who has been waiting patiently to see you and I'm afraid his patience is about to run out, if it hasn't done so already." He turned and pointed towards a lone figure with two ponies standing apart from the hustle and bustle of the harbour. Bilbo's heart skipped a beat. It could not be... "Eighty years is a long time, Master Baggins..." And Bilbo couldn't agree more.

"Frodo...will you be alright if I..."

His nephew looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded, "They are your friends, right? And I know at least one of their company, so... And Uncle..." Bilbo raised an eyebrow at the younger hobbit, "you, um, you look like that hobbit in your drawing know, the one that was private and I was supposed to keep my sticky paws off? I think Valinor will indeed be very good for us." And then he turned to Balin and Ori, "Bilbo told me that you both were scholars of some sort. I would love to hear about dwarven customs and so on. Gimli was always very secretive about these things..."

"Go to him," Kíli whispered into his ear then. "There is much you will wish to discuss." Bilbo made to leave but Kíli suddenly pulled him into another embrace. "We missed you so much, all of us did. Promise you won't leave us again?" Bilbo was about to point out that the dwarves had done the leaving, in quite a spectacular way, but thought better of it and just nodded. Kíli smiled broadly as he let Bilbo go at long last, but then shouted something in Khuzdul as his brother smacked him over the head.

"Let him go, brother, or Thorin will have your hide." Turning to Bilbo, Fíli added, "Forgive him please, but apparently this whole death business has killed off all the sanity Kíli may or may not have possessed before. Debatable, I know..." He grinned and then pushed Bilbo in the direction of Thorin.

Thorin... Everything else seemed to melt away as he slowly approached the dwarf. He looked almost the same as he had the first time they had met. Maybe there was less grey in his hair and beard, and maybe his eyes were less stern... "Master Baggins..." Oh? Bilbo's heart sank. So they were back to Master Baggins, were they? But then... " must be tired after the long journey." Um, what? "And my good-for-nothing nephews have decreed you should be staying with us for the time being. Don't worry, it's not far." Hello to you, too. Yes, I've missed you as well, I can't believe I'm actually here with you... Thorin threw him the reigns of one of the ponies. "Let's be off." Unbelievable!

They had been trotting along a small dirt path for about an hour, and Bilbo was seriously considering turning back and spending time with dwarves who actually acknowledged his presence and had missed him by the looks of it, when Thorin announced that they had arrived. So, this small cottage was where the former King under the Mountain was staying now? No wonder he was His Grumpiness himself. But really, eighty years and now this?! He was sure even Gollum would have greeted him with more emotions after such a long time...except that Gollum was dead and would probably have tried to kill Bilbo for stealing his Precious. But even that sounded more fun than Thorin Oakenshield's silent treatment.

Silently the dwarf took the ponies into the stables next to the cottage proper, silently he lead Bilbo inside and equally silently did he prepare tea and placed a steaming cup in front of the hobbit. Bilbo was about to burst. Thorin's back was to him and he was just about to start yelling at the stoic dwarf when... "I know I already asked your forgiveness, but... Bilbo...I am sorry." He turned around then, and those eyes... The eyes Bilbo had been dreaming of for eighty long years. "I cannot even begin to explain why I acted the way I did. It was as if I needed to possess the Arkenstone and when you took it to Bard... I couldn't think clearly anymore. Part of me was screaming that I was pushing away the best thing in my life, but I did it anyway." He sighed...a sound that tore open all the old wounds and healed them at the same time.

Thorin was still his. His stubborn, frustrating, arrogant, rude, beloved dwarf. His dwarf who could heal all his scars with a simple word... He hadn't needed Elrond's elvish medicine, he had needed this. "I know I will never be able to undo the hurts I have caused you, wittingly and those that were beyond my control..." Like the whole dying part... "But I swear I will try. If you will let me, I will try..." His whole face was so open, so vulnerable in that moment...and then suddenly it hardened again. "Though, I am sure there are things you will not want to rekindle. None of the elves would speak of it, but I'm sure you settled down eventually. Eighty years is a long time..."

And that was it. "How dare you, Thorin Oakenshield? How dare you?! Do you really think that I would be able to just forget and go back to being a proper and respectable hobbit with a cute little wife and a houseful of children?! Is that what you think of me?!" Thorin had the grace to look startled, but that simply wasn't enough right then. "But you're right. Yes, I was married. All these years. To a pig-headed son of elves!" He reached inside his shirt and pulled out the chain with Thorin's signet ring. Holding it up for Thorin to see, he shouted, "Here! See this?! Ever since you gave this to me I have considered myself tied to you, even if it was only your memory! I couldn't have taken a wife or lover or whatever you think I've had, couldn't have betrayed you in such a way! But maybe you have... Actually, I'm quite sure you have since you think like that of me, but..." And his heart broke again, tears filling his eyes.

Until he felt strong arms lift him off the bench he had sunken down upon at the end of his outburst and he was pulled into an embrace. "I had to know..." Thorin breathed into his ear, "Eighty years is a long time, and you had no way of knowing that there was even a chance we could be reunited. I had at least that." His hand closed over Bilbo's right that was still holding the ring, "I was hoping you'd know what I was trying to say with it..." It had been a far shot from the usual dwarven courting rituals, but Thorin was dying then, and there was no other way to show Bilbo... "I will make it up to you...I will try to make you forget all those years..."

Bilbo had had enough...enough of talking at least. And thus he silenced Thorin the only way he knew would work. For the first time it was the hobbit who took charge of the kiss, and it was Bilbo who pushed Thorin to the bedchamber. And as they began exploring each other, bodies no longer marred by scars, Bilbo was still dominating. And as he finally sank into the furnace beneath him he knew...he had finally come home.


Thorin woke to the sound of birds singing just outside the window. He hurt in places he hadn't known existed before last night and smiled to himself. His burglar could be quite possessive if he wanted to be. His burglar... Bilbo had wrapped himself around Thorin during the night, his slumbering head resting on the dwarf's broad chest; the rest of him seemed to have melded itself to Thorin's side. And the dwarf couldn't think of anything better. Bilbo was here, was still his... Despite the years, there had never been anyone else, of that Thorin was sure now. So his nephews had been calling him crazy and stupid for even entertaining the thought, but... After everything he had put the hobbit through before his death... You're mine, and you always will be...

He had felt that way even before aging had been reversed as Bilbo stepped onto Valinor ground. He would have loved the white-haired hobbit just as much as he did the younger hobbit that was now sleeping in his arms. Maybe not quite as fiercely, but... The days and weeks leading up to this day had been torturous. They had known of the Last Ship, had known the Ring-bearers would be on it, all of them. And Thorin started snapping at every little thing... A blueprint wasn't the way Thorin had wanted it to be, even if it was better, and he would throw a fit. If dinner wasn't served at the exact time Thorin expected it... It had gotten so bad, Fíli and Kíli had temporarily moved out and were staying at Balin's now. Even though their old teacher still treated them like small dwarflings at times... He owed them an apology for that.

But he owed so much more to the hobbit next to him. And it was thus that Thorin Oakenshield, former King under the Mountain and now King of the new Kingdom of Erebor closed his eyes. I will do whatever it takes to stay with him. You hear me Aulë? Even if that means being civil to the tree-hugging elves. I will do everything in my power to stay here with him. So don't even think about dragging me to the Halls. I choose Valinor with everything that's in it. Including Thingol of Doriath! And something seemed to lift off of him. He couldn't say what it was, but he felt...more alive now that it was gone.

There was much he would have to explain to Bilbo, much they would have to discuss. The whole Arkenstone Incident as he referred to it in his own mind first and foremost. The fact that he had come so dangerously close to killing Bilbo...something he would never be able to forgive himself for; something that still made him wake in cold sweat almost every night. For in his dreams, or nightmares as it were, no one had stopped him. And he had seen Bilbo's broken body, had cradled the hobbit's corpse, or had thrown himself off the very same wall moments after... All over a stupid piece of rock! Even Thrór had by now admitted that there was something dark about the stone and had been glad it was now lost to them forever.

And then Bilbo's ring...the ring the hobbit had used on an almost permanent basis in Thranduil's help them. Thorin dreaded to think what it had done to Bilbo, what using it for so long had broken within the halfling. What sort of hold had it taken and whether it was like that gem? And there was the topic that Thorin would have loved to avoid at all costs but knew he couldn't. Those eighty years... Eighty long years Bilbo had been alone...almost completely alone as far as Thorin could tell. Grieving, mourning...while Thorin had been here with his family, building a new life for the dwarves of...Valinor. How could he even begin to make amends for that? For something that hadn't been in his power to begin with... He sighed as he pulled Bilbo closer. The hobbit was here, that was the main thing. Everything else they could face...together.

That thought put a smile on his face. They were together again, after years of waiting, of longing... It was a shame he would have to share Bilbo and it would take all the restraint Thorin possessed not to be the greedy, jealous dwarf he knew he could be. For there were others who wished to see the hobbit, least of all his father and grandfather. Bilbo had been essential in the retaking of the Mountain, and that in itself made the hobbit an honorary member of their family. And that annoying elf. Yes, Ecthelion was helpful and all, but he was still... Nothing Aulë, nothing at all. Ecthelion is charming and really nice... His choice would be the death of him... Yes, there was the Lord of the Fountain, and of course Balin and Ori. And then there were two hobbits...