Translation of Khuzdul: zyungel - love of love (greatest love). Ukrd - greatest heart. Ughvash - greatest treasure.


Chapter 33 - Love Knows no Bounds

Now (1 F.A.)

Thorin had heard muffled voices through the closed glass doors, and if he was not very much mistaken, he had caught the word 'tea' quite clearly. So Bilbo had heard. He had to grin at that. His hobbit would not soon let their nephews live that one down. He knew that, as a kind uncle, he should feel sorry for them. But they had brought this upon themselves. His hobbit... Bilbo had been quiet almost the entire way back to their chambers, unless he had snarled at something or someone. Or glared in his direction. But his beloved's voice had been warm as he was speaking to Kli and Fli, warm and loving. And then full of mirth...and something else.

Still, he was afraid that Bilbo was having second thoughts in regards to his pledge to never leave Thorin's side, but his fears didn't have time to take hold again as in that very moment, the halfling entered the bedchamber. And smiled. Thorin was sure that the hobbit had no idea just what that smile was doing to him. If Bilbo glanced at him like this, he would agree to everything. Well, almost everything. Part of him screamed at himself for giving the hobbit so much power over him, but his heart shut that small voice up, pointing out how much happier his life was with Bilbo in it. He couldn't lose him. Wouldn't lose him. He'd had a glimpse of this, and then it had been taken away from him and he had been banished to endure an eternity of loneliness. And he had condemned the hobbit to the same fate.

However, they had been given a second chance, and Thorin would not waste it. Not that he had a choice in it at all he guessed. Not where Bilbo was concerned. If the hobbit made up his mind, then...then his mind was truly made up and he would listen to no arguments. Which, the dwarf realised, was for the better most of the times. The hobbit had a level head, or at least he was less irrational than the king himself was so often. Bilbo wouldn't let his passions and feelings run away with him, unless of course they were alone and, as his nephews would put it, shared a nice cup of tea. Then there was nothing level-headed about the hobbit, and he turned into a creature that was a slave to its own desires. How much he loved seeing the scholar and mediator change that way, and he finally became aware of the fact that while Bilbo had power over him, he, too, had power over the halfling. A mere touch, or a glance even, could kindle that flame within his betrothed, and it thrilled him that he was the only one who would ever see the hobbit in the throes of passion. His hobbit.

His hobbit who was now turning back to the doors he had just come through, closing them. And yet his hand was still resting on the door handle, as if lost in thought. "Is it true? What you said earlier, do you really feel that way? You would face down Ilvatar himself? For me?" So he had heard that, too? Bilbo slowly moved his head to glance at him, and Thorin found himself unable to speak. He could only nod, and try to smile. "I would do the same," the hobbit whispered. "That, and so much more. If I had to, I would travel to the Void and battle Morgoth." Then he suddenly smirked. "After all, Morgoth should be child's play after fighting with you." He stuck out his tongue and then launched himself at the bed and was lying next to him within moments.

And Thorin held on to his hobbit as if for dear life. Maybe he did at that. "I am sorry, Bilbo. I do not know why I doubted you, why I doubted our bond. Balin took great pleasure in telling me just how foolish I had been, and how much you have done for our people. You brought Turgon's people and ours together and forged new alliances, and how did I repay you? By shouting at you and hurting you. By hurting our nephews. If I were any less selfish I would tell you that I am not good enough for you; that you should leave. But I can't. I cannot be without you, never again." Gently he reached out to pull his betrothed closer, his fingers running through that unruly hair, his thumb coming to rest on Bilbo's braid. "I love you, Bilbo Baggins. At times I forget what losing you would mean, and when I remember, when I realise what I have done, I thank the Maker that you are still by my side. I could not..."

Gentle fingers covered his lips, stopping his wordflow. "Enough. I know you, Thorin. Don't forget that I fell in love with you when you quite obviously wanted me gone. It was your courage and the way you cared for those near and dear to you that made me love you, even before you ever showed me any kindness. The only reason I left before, and stayed away, was ... was Gandalf. He was afraid you would harm me, truly afraid. He wouldn't let me return to your side, no matter how much I wanted to. When he found out I had run out onto the battlefield he was less than happy. Much like you if I recall correctly." Thorin nodded, kissing the fingers that still lay over his mouth. "I know you, zyungel. You can tell me I am no longer wanted, no longer needed a thousand times and I will fight you. For I know your heart." Bilbo's smile was brighter than any jewel.

He closed his hand over Bilbo's wrist then, pulling the hand away from his lips, but not before kissing it one more time. "You were in my heart from the moment I saw you. No, no I think that is wrong. You were always there. Always. I knew that I was missing something, and I foolishly thought it was Erebor and that accursed stone. It was you, Bilbo. It had to be you. No one else would now be able to achieve what you have. Elves and dwarves, working together? Sharing their wisdoms and artistry? It is barely conceivable. I have heard a lot this afternoon, and I am humbled. Especially in the light of my own behaviour. To accuse you of..." He held on to that hand that wanted to cover his mouth again. "No, let me speak. I am sorry. I am sorry that I never spoke of the fear that was still in my heart. I swear to you, that it is gone. I simply ... I feared that you would see me the way I saw myself. Weak and broken, not nearly strong enough to be a king."

Bilbo's brow furrowed, and then he shook his head. "Everything I ever said about pig-headed dwarves; it is more than true where you are concerned. Thorin!" The hobbit sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You saved that miner. You were courageous and brave and every bit how a king should be. And you were hurt. That is no weakness. I've only ever seen it as a mark of your deed. The price you had to pay for the life you saved. You see it as a weakness, but I ... I am so proud to call you mine." His eyes were misting over with tears, but he smiled. "It reminded me of that night in the Misty Mountains when you saved me, do you remember? You risked your life for me, even though you wanted me gone. You could have left me to die, but you didn't. You acted without a thought, taking care of one of your subjects as it were. And yes, you acted foolishly, risking yourself as you did, but how I admired you for it. Until you all but told me that I had no place amongst you. Oh no, wait, you did say exactly that."

"You think that my ankle is ... a battle scar I should carry proudly?" The hobbit nodded. That confused Thorin, but maybe Bilbo was right. Maybe it was not the weakness the dwarven king had thought it had been. "And do not mention that dreadful night. You will never know how I fought the urge to pull you into my arms and never let you go. How seeing you walk away from me tore at my heart. How worried I was realising that you were not with us, after. But you are wrong. I did not act without a thought. And I didn't save a mere subject, Bilbo. Had you perished, part of me would have died with you. And I would have hated myself for the rest of my life, which, admittedly, would have been even shorter than it turned out to be." He looked away. "What I said to Dwalin ... I cannot explain. Words simply..."

"Run away with you at times?" Bilbo was cupping his face, turning it around again. "I hadn't noticed," he grinned. "Thorin, I am not saying that your words did not hurt, just as much as they did back then. But I have learned something since. Well, a lot of things actually, but that is beside the point. I have learned that dwarves are fiercely loyal to those they love. And I have seen you scold your nephews, but still I always knew you loved them. I know now that you sometimes speak before you think. That you regret your actions more than anyone else. That you feel the pain of those you hurt manifold. Unless it's a foolish elven king we shall not mention for he deserved your words, and many more."

"I wish I could undo..." This time it was Bilbo's lips that shut him up with the most tender and loving kiss Thorin could imagine.

"I wasn't finished yet," the hobbit chuckled when he pulled away. "I saw the regret in your eyes. And always, always have I seen the love you have for me. Under all your anger and fear and sometimes even rage, I always know you love me. Dwarves only love once, do they not?" Thorin nodded mutely. "Well, then you better get used to the fact that you are stuck with me. Hobbits ... once we have chosen our mate, that's it. It's like I explained earlier to your nephews; I will always love you, even though at times I feel like strangling you for being an utter bastard." And then those lips returned, only slightly less gentle but infinitely more passionate. "I wish I could show you," Bilbo panted once the kiss broke and the king tried to regain his breath. "I wish I could show you right now just how much I love you, ukrd."

Thorin groaned, feeling parts of him respond to his betrothed's words. "This is your revenge, is it not?" The way the hobbit blinked and smiled all innocently was answer enough. "When you know full well that Elrond and in would kill me if I did anything even remotely like what you are suggesting." His mind was working vigorously at trying to find a way that would not put any strain on his ankle, but only drew up blanks. And Bilbo knew! "Don't think that I have forgotten, ughvash. You and I will soon be out there, under the stars, and I will make you scream my name." The halfling gulped, swallowing and Thorin was very happy to feel how his words now affected Bilbo.

"You are truly wicked, Master Dwarf," the hobbit lamented, pulling away from Thorin's side to take deep breaths. "But you are right, we cannot, not until your ankle is fully healed. So, seeing as we cannot sate our hunger for one another, I suggest dinner instead." That made the king chuckle. His betrothed truly was a hobbit. Bilbo's eyebrow shot up, and he shook his head. "You think this is funny? That I've not eaten since luncheon? It is dire news for any decent hobbit. Dreadful really." His smirk faded as soon as it had come, and he sat back on his knees, reaching out for Thorin's hands. "I meant what I said. I would fight Morgoth to remain by your side. I love you, my betrothed. I love you." And then he kissed the backs of the king's hands, and Thorin felt his heart flow over. Somehow, he had been forgiven. Bilbo was still here. Was still his.

---

"So I was saying to Fli, we should maybe be a bit more, you know, proactive? Uncle is doing a lot to make sure Frodo and Ori are working together, but unfortunately that's it. They are working. Nothing else." Kli sighed, rubbing his face. They were sitting in Bilbo's garden, all helping the hobbit in one way or another. Except for Thorin, who was supervising. As far as the young dwarf was concerned though, his uncle was simply lazy. If he and Fli had been roped into helping their hobbit plant flowers and some such, then his betrothed should lend his assistance as well. But Thorin had simply pointed at his ankle, his almost healed ankle, had smirked and then returned to his pipe.

Bilbo paused, hands covered in dirt, and raised an eyebrow. "What do you suggest? Locking them into a room and wait to see what might happen? Knowing those two, not much. They would simply find a topic to discuss and would do that until we unlocked the door." The hobbit sighed, glancing down at the small rose plant he had just put into the ground, as if he was hoping he had placed it in the right spot and that it would survive the harsh weather of the mountain or some other gardenerish stuff that Kli didn't understand. "It is painfully obvious that they care about one another, but I don't know how to make them see that. I think Ori is too shy and Frodo ... he feels as if he is too damaged for anyone to love him. He said so himself when I saw him yesterday. Well, not explicitly but it was implied. He was saying how happy he was for Thorin and I, but that he believed he would never find happiness like we have. He also said he was fine with that as here at least he could find joy again. That he'd already found it, and so much more than he dared hope for."

Kli's face fell, and so did his brother's. This was bad news. He was about to say something when Thorin's voice made all of them jump. Well, Kli at least. "Maybe I should speak to your nephew? He seems to feel much like I do myself at times. After everything that happened with the Arkenstone, the crimes I committed and nearly committed," he glanced to Bilbo and the halfling reached out to touch the king's hand, dirt or not, "I didn't believe I deserved to have our burglar by my side. But we all have been given a new chance, and it would be a shame if Frodo did not use it. Or if he waited for years."

Kli turned to look at his brother, a wistful expression on his face. Fli's was no different and for a moment they could all but feel each other's pain at being alone. "Surely, if the one that you love is around, you would want to do something about it?" the brunette finally asked.

"It is not that easy, dear Kli," Bilbo replied. "If Frodo truly believes he is unworthy because of what happened with my stupid ring... Thorin...he thought I might not want to rekindle certain aspects of our relationship, as I'm sure you know by now. I had to shout at him to make him realise that I didn't care what he thought or didn't think. I spent eighty years longing for him, and that was that. If I had not done so, do you think we would be here, right now?" Kli wanted to say that, yes, he very much believed they would be. But he couldn't. If Thorin had pushed the hobbit away, or been truly indifferent and Bilbo's temper had been anything but what it was... "I simply cannot see Ori do anything of the kind." He looked to Thorin then, and Kli felt as if they were intruding on their uncles having a moment. "If you talked to Frodo, I am not sure anything would change. He believes the Arkenstone to be quite different than the One Ring."

A lone tear escaped Bilbo's eye then, and before anyone could react, anyone but him that was, Kli was hugging the hobbit tightly. "It was just your magic ring, Bilbo. You couldn't have known. And you offered to take it to Mordor, didn't you. And we would have come with you. We would have. If we hadn't fallen in battle, you would have been a wonderful consort, and..." And he was beginning to babble, he knew, but he couldn't help himself. Bilbo was shaking in his arms, and for a moment Kli feared for his hobbit uncle, looking worriedly at Thorin. The king had set his pipe aside and was now sinking to the floor next to Kli, enveloping both his nephew and betrothed in a strong embrace. Fli joined them momentarily and they held Bilbo as he cried for Frodo.

---

Ori's words of warning had been just a little bit too late, and instead of retrieving just one book, Frodo had upended the entire shelf, the wooden plank coming down on his hand. He didn't need to be a healer to know that it was broken, and Ori moved as quickly as possible to move the books away and place the shelf back where it belonged. There was such fear in the young dwarf's eyes, and so much compassion that the hobbit nearly regretted the words he had spoken to his uncle the previous day. But Ori deserved better. Especially Ori. He was kind and gentle and always trying to lift Frodo's spirits. He was worthy of being with someone who could give him what he deserved; not a foolish halfling who had nearly destroyed Arda.

He averted his gaze, and so he didn't see Ori's hand come up to gently take his. His head spun around in surprise, and he held his breath as the dwarf's other hand covered his mangled one. "We have to get you to in. I fear your bones have shattered." He removed his hand, his eyes catching Frodo's. They were frozen, both shocked and shaking, but then Ori leaned down and placed his lips where his hand had been just a moment ago...