Translation of Elvish: Peredhel - Half-elf. Mellonen - my friend.

Translation of Khuzdul: Ukrd - greatest heart.


Chapter 31 - Fool of a King

Now (1 F.A.)

Fli had joined his brother and their hobbit uncle as soon as he had heard about Thorin's ... behaviour. He wanted to call it a childish tantrum, but if anyone had the right to do so, it was Bilbo. Who was seething with anger. Even now after an hour had passed. Kli had taken to reading a book...Kli...reading!...and was clearly trying to ignore what was happening right under their noses. He was obviously afraid that their little family unit was about to break apart and there was nothing Fli could do to ease his brother's fears. Even though he was certain nothing of that kind was going to happen. And he was equally certain that he did not want to be in Thorin's place the next time his uncle and their hobbit crossed paths. There was a fire in Bilbo's eyes that was, in a word, scary.

The halfling was currently standing by the huge doors leading out onto the balcony, staring at the grey clouds that had gathered all afternoon. Soon it would be raining. Fitting. "He is going to hurt himself because of his stubbornness." Fli blinked. Those were the first words anyone had spoken in a long while. And Bilbo was right, of course. Thorin's ankle was still not fully healed and now...now he was putting everything at risk again and for what? His bruised ego? The fear of losing Bilbo that was the most ludicrous thing Fli had heard in ages? The blond dwarf sighed, stepping up to the hobbit, a hand coming up to rest on Bilbo's shoulder. The halfling turned and nodded in thanks before turning back to studying the clouds. "To think that he believes I would ever...that I could... It's just madness!"

"I don't think he truly meant that. He simply doesn't deal well with being ill. None of us are. We don't have sicknesses like you do, Bilbo, as you know, and as such being stuck in bed feels rather unnatural to us. And that's the calmest and gentlest of dwarves. Ori would hate it, you see. But for Thorin...it must be nigh unbearable." The hobbit nodded, frowning at his own reflection. "It's not an excuse for his behaviour, but maybe an explanation?" Bilbo shrugged, and then, to Fli's great surprise, he turned and walked over to where Kli was sitting. The brunette was seemingly engrossed in his book, but the older dwarf knew that this was just for show. There was no way his brother could concentrate on anything under the current circumstances.

Bilbo sat down next to the young dwarf, his arm wrapping around Kli's waist. "I love your uncle. I have longed to be reunited with him for eighty long years, and I would have gladly taken his anger again if that meant he was alive and well. So this means nothing in the long run. But I will still give him a piece of my mind once he's fallen flat on his face. And I think we can all agree that he will do so." Kli nodded and, with a sigh, put down the book. "I might even borrow one of my mother's frying pans, though I fear I might damage the pan more than Thorin's head. Hard as it is." Kli's head came to rest on the hobbit's shoulder, big brown eyes gazing up at Bilbo's face. "I promise you though, nothing is ever going to tear us apart again. And I know that in his heart of hearts, Thorin knows this as well."

"He wasn't listening to me at all. And I was hoping he would to you, but then... Then he didn't. He was so angry. Like the day..." The day Thorin had nearly thrown Bilbo to his death. They all knew it and yet none of them was willing to say the words. "He wasn't himself that day either. I'm just afraid that he..."

"He won't. It's like your brother said. Thorin is the worst patient imaginable, but since I don't think any of us ever witnessed him being bedridden before, we simply underestimated the situation. This is not like the gold sickness. It's boredom." Kli pulled away at that, blinking. "I will cure him of it, don't you worry. After I'm done shouting at him. He will learn that I am no longer the meek little hobbit he met all those years ago." Fli had to chuckle at that, and two sets of eyes turned to him. But then Bilbo began laughing as well, and eventually Kli joined in. And when they finally calmed, the brunette mumbled something that sounded very much like, "I really don't want to swap places with Uncle Thorin when you have a go at him. You are truly a formidable hobbit."

---

Elrond was not pleased. Not pleased at all. When he had received his summons...for summons they were and not a mere request...to meet with the King of Erebor, he had assumed he would be expected in the private chambers of the royal couple. Which would have been just fine. Thorin was well on his way to full recovery and moving about in his own rooms was probably a good thing. As long as he did not tire himself out too much. However, when the peredhel had heard where the meeting was going to be, his human side nearly overtook him and he almost cursed. Walking around his own apartments was one thing. Traversing a good part of Erebor to get to the audience chambers was quite another.

So when he walked into the room, he was of a mind to tell the king exactly what he thought of his escapades. But he was forestalled by a glare and glower and then pulled aside by Turgon himself. "We all know this will end badly for him. Let us not make matters even worse by calling him on his foolishness," the High King whispered under his breath. "Though I am certain Master Baggins will make sure that this will not happen again anytime soon. And I am glad that I will not be around to see it." Elrond had to agree with that assessment of the situation and thus, with a sigh and a glare of his own, he took his seat next to King Turgon.

When minutes later, Balin sat by his other side, he had to chuckle at how the older dwarf was huffing and puffing, shaking his head so much that the former Lord of Imladris feared it would fall off. "Fool of a dwarf. Bilbo is not going to let him forget this, you have my word on that. If anything, the years he spent alone and grieving have given our dearest hobbit strength he may not have possessed before. He may not look it, but he is more than capable of curbing Thorin's anger and idiocy. And our king knows so as well. Even though right now it would appear that he has forgotten about it. Maybe the bedrest has softened his brain or something." Elrond could barely keep from chuckling at Balin's indignation, for that would surely have brought Thorin's rage down upon the both of them.

So Elrond simply sat back and tried not to look up when the dwarven king sat in his own seat, gritting his teeth in pain. He also paid Thorin no heed whatsoever when he tried to stand for emphasis at one point, only to fall back into his chair. He simply felt saddened on Bilbo's behalf. For it wouldn't be Master Oakenshield who paid for this, or at least not only. It was the hobbit. He would have to deal with his bedridden betrothed for much longer than anticipated originally. And the peredhel would make sure that the dwarf rested. in would back him up on it as well. Oh, in would be livid to hear of Thorin's folly.

It was also rather interesting to watch how, initially extremely irate, Thorin mellowed over the space of only a few hours, and how eventually a small, somewhat sad smile appeared on his face. Balin had just finished recounting that morning's meeting between dwarves and elves, paying special tribute to Bilbo's efforts. And in truth, it had been the hobbit's gentle nature and his thorough understanding of both elven and dwarven culture that had brought success. Even Erestor had been ashamed of himself when he let his old prejudices haunt him yet again and cloud his judgement. "Bilbo eventually had to put his foot down as the future Royal Consort to stop those fools we call our Council from making even bigger...well...fools of themselves. It's thanks to him and the High King that agreement was reached at last. And it will do us good, I assure you. All of us." He looked pointedly at Turgon and Elrond, and the peredhel could see the High King smile from the corner of his eye.

"He did well," Thorin said with a nod. And then he whispered under his breath, but still loud enough for Elrond's elven ears to pick it up, "Better than I could have." And he wanted to agree, simply because the dwarven king was acting so very infuriating at the moment. But he could not. Thorin had worked just as hard to see this come to pass as Bilbo. Elrond was astounded at the change within the dwarf. And not all of it could be attributed to the hobbit's calming influence. In part it was, that was for certain. But there was also the fact that both Thorin's father and grandfather had more than embraced their new situation and the elven inhabitants of Aman. Well, with one glaring exception, but he did not care to dwell on King Thingol. None of the elves of Turgon's court did. Thorin had, albeit grudgingly, joined Thrr and Thrin in their negotiations with the elves, or so Gil-galad and Ecthelion had told the peredhel. And now... Things truly were different.

"He did indeed," Balin agreed, and for a moment Elrond thought the older dwarf would leave it at that. But as he glanced over, he could see how that initially so stern face softened, and Balin's gentle nature came to the fore. "But he couldn't have done any of it if it wasn't for you, Thorin. Without you backing him up, his word would be for nought." The king looked up at that, swallowing. "Erebor is lucky to have you both." There was just the slightest hint of mirth in the dwarf's voice, something that anyone who did not know him well would miss. Thorin, however, knew and nodded. And then he seemed to shrink even more into his seat and one did not have to be a genius to figure out that he was contrite over...something. Probably his behaviour towards the hobbit before he had left their chambers. Elrond was sure they had argued. Otherwise Bilbo would be here now, by his betrothed's side.

It was Turgon who spoke up next. "I do agree with you, Master Balin. We are all lucky to have both our resident hobbit and King Thorin ruling under the mountain. Though, that is not entirely true. You are no longer simply king of Erebor, but the land around it as well. And I am proud to call you our ally." Elrond could barely keep himself from gasping. True, they were allied, but to hear the High King say as much? Thingol would have a fit when he heard of it. And he most surely would. Somehow the Sinda always learned of these things. "I hope to see the bond between our people strengthen over time until such a day that we can forget the past and look forward to a future we will share as friends." Oh yes, Thingol would be livid. Which was probably one of the reasons Turgon was saying it. To show the King of Doriath that he was not cowed nor intimidated. The Line of Durin was now entwined with the oldor in alliance and an ever strengthening friendship, and nothing would destroy this. Not even the mate of one of the Maiar.

Turgon's words also served as a signal that the meeting was over, and with a graceful nod towards Thorin, he got to his feet and left in a flurry of robes. The few dwarven councilors followed suit, and soon the only ones remaining where Balin, Elrond himself, and the dwarven king. When Elrond turned from the doorway having watched everyone slip away, he found himself the object of Thorin's attention. The dwarf seemed to be weighing his options for a moment, before he sighed. "I have been a fool. I should not have left my chambers and I thank you for not pointing out as much when you set foot into this room, Lord Elrond." That was the closest akin to an apology Elrond had ever heard from the dwarf's lips. "Though I fear I will need your assistance now." The peredhel nodded, but Thorin's attention had already shifted to Balin. "Would you see if you can find Bilbo?" Yes, they had been rowing. And now the dwarven king was clearly going to have to plead with the hobbit for mercy. This would be entertaining...

---

Elrond had renewed his strong recommendation that Thorin remain put, which came as no surprise to the dwarven king. It wasn't as if he wanted to move around. At least not now, with his foot pulsing as if the ankle was newly broken. The elven lord has assured him that wasn't the case, but it was hard to believe it. "It is simply swollen because you used it more than was wise. It will be fine if you do as both in and myself have suggested and remain in your quarters. You can move around, providing you let someone help you." Thorin nodded, knowing that Elrond spoke true. He had been a fool, and whatever anyone, and especially Bilbo, now had to say to him, he deserved it, and so much more.

As it turned out, he didn't have to wait long to hear exactly what his betrothed thought of him. Only a few moments later the door opened to admit not only Balin and Bilbo, but Kli and Fli as well. His younger nephew was glaring daggers at him while the older one tried to keep his brother from, as it appeared, committing murder. But as always, his gaze was involuntarily drawn towards his hobbit. His beloved Bilbo he had shouted at. A king he might be, but at that moment he wished to disappear into thin air at seeing the hurt and pain on his beloved's face. And the anger. Thank the Valar, at least he was angry and not only wounded. Anger Thorin could deal with. Or so he thought before the hobbit spoke.

"So now you are asking for my help? Now you suddenly need me again? After you so very pointedly declared that my presence, or lack thereof, was of no import to you?" He turned to Lord Elrond then, smiling. And that smile was a stark contrast to the glare Thorin himself had received. "Forgive me, mellonen, but I'm afraid this cannot wait. So please do not think badly of me for what I am saying to...to my betrothed." His eyes were grey steel when they caught Thorin's again. "You made your nephew cry! There is no excuse for that, Thorin. None whatsoever. You were behaving unkingly and childish, pushing away those who were doing their all to help you! I guess I should have known better than to think you had truly changed!" He was visibly seething, and his gaze turned to liquid fire when he delivered his final blow. "And to top it all off, you send Balin to me to summon me to your side. To do what exactly? To tell me that my help is no longer required?! That I am no longer..."

"No!" Thorin had thought he could bear everything the hobbit would throw at him. But this. Not this. He had to interrupt Bilbo, or his heart would have splintered into a million pieces. Never again. "I...I know I don't deserve your help, anyone's help, not after how I acted. I cannot explain what came over me. I only know that I woke and you were not there and I was overwhelmed by this fear that somehow you were gone. For what would you want with an invalid?" The steel in Bilbo's eyes melted at that, and he took a step towards the dwarven king, but Thorin raised his hand to stop him. "Hear me out. I don't deserve to even ask your forgiveness." He looked to Kli for a moment, "Or yours for that matter." He sighed and closed his eyes then. "But I'm doing so despite it all. I have never needed help as desperately as I do now, Bilbo; your help. And it is the hardest thing for me to admit as much. But..."

His words were cut short by gentle hands cupping his face, and soft lips that pressed against his own. Thorin's eyes flew open in surprise and shock, and he gazed upon a smiling, if still a bit stern, face. "I let you speak, now you will do me the courtesy of allowing me to finish what I meant to say. For even had you told me that I was no longer needed, I would have fought you. Don't think that I am still the meek little hobbit you once knew. I have spent too many years without you to let you slip away now. Even if that means fighting you and your...your stupidity." Thorin snorted. "You know I am right. We are one, ukrd, and even though I may have wanted to feed you to a dragon earlier, I will never leave your side. If I have to chain myself to you." And then he smacked Thorin's head for good measure, rubbing his hand in pain straight after. "By Aul, why do you dwarves have to have such hard skulls."

"So that we can bear all the necessary hits across our heads to drill some sense into us?" Now it was Bilbo's turn to snort, before the snort became a sigh when Thorin kissed the hobbit's palm. "I am sorry. And I promise that I will listen to Lord Elrond and in from now on."

The hobbit nodded, "I will try and relocate the most important meetings to our chambers so you can be a part of them. That way, I won't have to leave your side. Oh, and I think I should warn you. If any of this ever reaches the ears of my mother, she will come after you, with one of her frying pans." Thorin groaned and prayed that, somehow, this would forever be kept from one Belladonna Baggins.