Translation of Khuzdul: Ukr‚d - greatest heart. Uzayang - greatest love. Ughvash‚ - greatest treasure. ¬zyung‚l - lover (beloved).

Chapter 34 - Surprising Wisdom

Now (1 F.A.)

"He will be fine. It's just a few broken bones. Bilbo," Thorin's arm came up to stop the hobbit from pacing the space before the fireplace one more time, and a gentle hand pulled Bilbo closer until he found himself sitting in the king's lap. "You have heard our two healers, have you not? Even Primula wasn't as upset as you are. Why is that?" The dwarf knew of course, but just because he had asked for a certain tome from the library did not make him responsible for what had happened. If anything it was Thorin's fault for not making sure the bookshelves were sturdier.

The hobbit simply shrugged and shivered, leaning closer to Thorin's warmth. "This is all my fault. I don't mean that Frodo got hurt today, but that he deems himself unworthy. Had I not found the ring, or had I allowed Gandalf more than a cursory glance at it before...maybe none of this would have happened." The king shook his head, kissing Bilbo's hair. "I know. I know. If none of this would have happened then Ori would never have met Frodo and would forever be missing the one he was destined to be with. Or maybe not. Frodo would still end up here, eventually, wouldn't he?"

Thorin wanted to argue, wanted to tell his betrothed that everything had happened for a reason. That it had been predestined, just like the fact that Gandalf had chosen Bilbo to be the Company's burglar. But the hobbit was hurting and blamed himself yet again, so he simply held him as he began to sob against the dwarf's shoulder. However, he could only stand the silence between them for so long and eventually whispered, "Had you not found the Ring, Bilbo, I would have lost you before I ever found you. I can never regret that. Never, ukr‚d, never. I only wish I had not left you behind. That is my only regret. Those eighty years, I cannot begin to fathom how we survived them. All I know is that I am glad how it all played out. And Frodo...he will heal, as will you."

Bilbo looked up at him then, opening his mouth to say something, in all likelihood to deny his need to rest and heal, but Thorin stopped him by placing a gentle hand over his lips. "No, my hobbit, no. You have been grieving for eighty years and it does not matter that you found the three of us here, alive and well. Your soul was wounded, and I can see now that what I did on the battlements is nothing compared to this soul-deep hurt we both felt at being torn apart. And I know the guilt you felt, and still feel because you found the One. But uzayang, answer me this question. What would have happened had you not picked it up there in Gollum's cave? Sauron was searching for it. You know this. How long until he would have found it there, under the Misty Mountains? Arda would have been covered in darkness again, and none would have been able to withstand it. Bilbo, by finding it when you did, you very well might have saved Middle-earth. And even though Frodo faltered in the end, he had to bring the Ring to Mount Doom so Gollum could reclaim his Precious. You both are heroes and I wish you would see that."

Thorin lowered his head then and touched his forehead to Bilbo's until they were breathing the same air. "And you have saved me. You stood by me even though I was pushing you away and belittled you. You rescued me more times than I can tell, and I know that you regret not being able to protect me on the battlefield. But Bilbo, you did. Simply by being there you soothed my heart. I knew then that I could have forgiveness, and that was all that mattered. And I knew then that I had not lost your love, that your heart was still mine. I was a fool to think that you could ever take a wife or another lover when I could not. I was only ever yours, and you were only ever mine."

The king didn't know who had initiated it, but one moment they were still a breath apart and the next their lips had found each other, and Thorin could taste the salt of the hobbit's tears, could feel him sigh into the kiss. Bilbo's arms came up to wrap around the dwarf's neck and he turned in Thorin's lap so they were chest to chest. For once, there was nothing carnal about the kiss, though it was passionate. It was simply the hobbit's way to respond to the king's little monologue. Something that was safer than words might be in that very moment. And when they parted, Bilbo was smiling despite his tears, his fingers tangled in Thorin's hair. The dwarf knew that the halfling had reservations still and did not believe his words completely, but this was a step in the right direction.

"Maybe...maybe it is true. Maybe I cannot see the wisdom in your words," he smirked at that and Thorin snorted. "And I know that our meeting was fated; how could it not have been? Gandalf choosing me over another dwarf or a different hobbit...and trust me there were a lot of Tooks better suited for the was no coincidence. But heroes? I do not know about that. Frodo surely is, but me? I never felt very heroic. More like a bumbling fool who was in over his head and so far out of his depth that it was almost comical. And yet, had I not run out of my door, I would never have found love and a family I hold dearer than the one I left behind in the Shire. It is little wonder that I could not settle back into my old life, even though I pretended to. No, surely I'm no hero, but my adventures changed me, and I wouldn't want to go back if I was offered the chance to do so."

Thorin nodded thoughtfully, kissing Bilbo's brow before moving his head so his lips were mere inches from one of those elegant pointed ears. "And do you think your nephew would? Choose to go back and live his quiet life in Hobbiton again if he could? I do not think so and I know you feel the same. You have seen his eyes lighting up in wonder, and you more than me know his heart. Do you truly believe that he would rather be back in Bag-end and not here with the one he clearly cares more about than he lets on?" Bilbo pulled back a little, and glared before shaking his head. "I know it is unusual for me to be the one speaking reason, but you know the truth of it." Besides, something had been different between Frodo and Ori when they visited the infirmary earlier, though Thorin could not put his finger on what it was. Which irritated the dwarven king to no end. What he did know though, was that it was something good. Very good.

"I still feel responsible for what happened today," the hobbit said somewhat grumpily. Bilbo didn't like to be proven wrong, or at least finding himself faced with sound arguments he had no comeback for. Normally it was, after all, he who triumphed in discussions. "And to think that he was still more concerned about me getting my book than his own poor hand." Thorin glanced over to the side table that was weighed down by the old tome. It was a history of his people, of the Line of Durin when they dwelt in Beleriand. It had been a surprise to the king to find just how many dwarven relics had been saved and secured by the —oldor to the point where they even took them across the sea when they returned to Aman.

"It is not your duty to make sure the library is safe to work it. It is mine. I am king and at the end of the day the wellbeing of everyone within Erebor is my main concern and it is my duty to watch out over our subjects and guests. It is I who is to blame, not you." Once again the hobbit fixed him with a very Tookish glare, and Thorin had to smirk. "And you heard Frodo. Ori tried to warn him to be careful. Do not worry so much, ukr‚d. Frodo is well and the injury he took today will be forgotten in but a few weeks; sooner than my own." That made Bilbo chuckle and bump his shoulder into Thorin's. "Watch yourself, my hobbit. We wouldn't want you to hurt your bones as well." The chuckle turned to a giggle then, and for a while all the dwarf could do was hold his betrothed who was shaking with laughter.

When he calmed down, he smiled at the king, his head coming to rest on the shoulder he had just bumped into. "How is it that you are suddenly the calming influence and I am ruled by my emotions? Surely something happened somewhere, and I am not sure I like it." He lifted his eyes to Thorin's, batting his lashes. "You haven't complained about being confined to our chambers, nor about the elven poultice. Who are you and what have you done to my betrothed?" The king grinned and winked. "I...I am proud of you, I really am. On our journey to the Lonely Mountain, you would not have reacted this way. Not even had it been your nephews who were saddened over something. On the contrary. You have changed..."

"For the better I hope?" Bilbo smiled and nodded. "We have all grown and are no longer who we used to be. Eighty years is a long time to realise one's mistakes. I have made so many on that journey, Bilbo, and my leadership was failing a long time before we reached Esgaroth. You were the heart of the Company, not me. And I tore you away from our companions when I exiled you. I owe them all apologies for that. If my sister does not kill me first for how ill I treated you. And for getting her sons killed. I am sure she knows the tales, and..." Bilbo's lips covered his suddenly and when the hobbit pulled back he smirked.

"That's better. Things are back to normal." The king raised a questioning eyebrow and the smile turned beaming. "Don't you think that she will be too happy to see you all alive and well to think of committing murder? And I will defend you, do not worry. And so will FŪli and KŪli." The hobbit had begun to toy with Thorin's hair idly and was now sighing rather wistfully. "Did I hear ”in and Elrond correctly? Your ankle is fully healed?" Oh, so his betrothed had heard. "I wonder... Maybe we should put that to the test? Though not on the balcony. I don't want to destroy what we worked on today. Well, what you supervised I should say." Bilbo's clever hand had snuck in under the dwarf's tunic and he was now carding his fingers through the hair on his chest.

Thorin shivered at the hobbit's touch, the way he always did. His body responded, as Bilbo had known it would, and the king growled. "Don't make promises you cannot or won't keep, ughvash‚. You are right, though, I have been allowed to return to my duties, but I will let you be the judge of what I can and cannot do as yet. And I would have you by my side at council meetings as well." He had grown used to having the hobbit's input over the past week when any meeting had taken place in their study. Bilbo's grasp on what was needed to run a kingdom and aid their elven allies while they were building their city was astounding, and Thorin knew that even the councilors had grown used to seeing the halfling not only attend their sessions but make suggestions that effectively were orders. Bilbo did not speak as a mere advisor, but as the future consort of their king and co-ruler of Erebor. Some of the old dwarves might have had reservations, but they would not go against the will of their king.

"Oh, I fully intend to keep my promise, ‚zyung‚l. Tonight. We shall dine and then ... we have a lovely fireplace in our bed chamber, Thorin. And I do not think we've ever truly made use of it." He winked, his hand slipping out from under his tunic, only to cover the lacings of the dwarf's breeches and massage there. Thorin groaned, loudly. "You cannot imagine how much I missed you, how much I long to be with you again. Now even more so than before, for Balin has told me that we will have to abstain for a month before the wedding." Thorin sighed, but nodded. It was true, even though he had tried his best to make his old advisor and mentor see reason. Failing that, he had pushed that particular fact to the very farthest recesses of his mind and had not wanted to dwell on it again until it became imperative to do so.

"I'm afraid Balin is right. I have tried to talk sense into him, but he demands we adhere to tradition in this. Be glad he doesn't force us to sleep apart, for he would be within his rights to do so as well. He trusts us, and it would be wrong of us to betray him. No matter how great the temptation will be." He kissed the tip of Bilbo's ear then, whispering, "He would also be able to demand he witness our union once we are bonded in front of our people. But he has said, and I quote, 'I've heard you two the night before Bilbo's accident, and I'm fairly certain that you will consummate your union the moment the door shuts behind you, so I'll pass.' The entire camp heard, I'm afraid..." The hobbit's blush was endearing to say the least, and the way he buried his face in Thorin's hair was even more so.

"We should simply marry in accordance to hobbit customs and then we wouldn't be in this mess." But then Bilbo gasped, and shook his head vigorously. "Or rather not. We'd be in even more trouble then. Forget I ever mentioned it. Dwarven customs are most wonderful." The hobbit's reaction piqued Thorin's curiosity and he made a mental note that he would ask someone, not Belladonna, about the wedding traditions of hobbits. But that thought quickly dissolved into nothing when Bilbo moved his hips; by accident or purposefully, Thorin couldn't say. Until his betrothed spoke again that was. "So, we have a few months still to make the most of things, and then thirty long days without touch?" On purpose then.

Thorin shook his head, smiling. He cupped Bilbo's face, lifting it so their eyes met once again. "No. I will still be able to hold you at night, for if I did not, sleep would not come to me very easily. And we can be like we are now as well, if you can keep from wriggling around so very enticingly that is." The hobbit gave Thorin a put-upon look, but only managed to keep his face frozen for a moment before chuckling. The dwarf followed suit, but then, as one, they became serious once more. "There are more things to explore, Bilbo, than the other's body, no matter how tempting that might be. Passion and desire play an important part in dwarven marriages, but it is our souls that are bound as one as well. That is what the month before the wedding ceremony is about. To give both parties a chance to fully comprehend the gravity of what they are about to enter in. We only love once, Bilbo, it is true. But many a dwarven lad and lass have mistaken desire for love. To abstain for a month..."

"It gives both parties the chance to truly search their hearts without being distracted by their carnal desires? Thorin, I've had eighty years of that. I know that there can never be another. Not for me." Bilbo's eyes were loving and gentle, and he brought his hands up to touch the dwarf's face, stroking it tenderly. "I know who you are, but to be given a month to get to know you even better ... it might not be such a bad idea after all." He smiled and, closing his eyes, touched his forehead to Thorin's. "And you will have to teach me what it is that will be expected of me once we are wed. As long as you can hold me like this, that is all I'll need. I've missed you. More than I can ever say."

"Nothing will ever tear us apart again. I promise. There will be times when you or I will have to leave the Mountain to travel elsewhere, but my heart will never be further from yours as it is now. It never was, Bilbo. You held it since the night Gandalf opened the door of Bag-end to let me in." The king pulled back just slightly to kiss Bilbo's brow. "And I know you. I know your braveness and your courage. I know your loyalty and your wisdom. The dwarves of Erebor are lucky to have you here, ughvash‚, and I'm the luckiest of them all. Don't think I do not know how much you missed me when every day I woke without you near was torture."

The hobbit smiled, his fingers closing around Thorin's braid and betrothal bead. "Never again. We've had eighty years of enforced celibacy, we will be able to survive another month." Thorin was about to point out how the two things could hardly be compared but remained silent. Bilbo knew. How could he not? "But not yet." And suddenly the fire had returned to those gentle grey eyes, and the halfling's hands pulled Thorin down into a kiss that was not loving or gentle, but filled with passion. "I am glad that the wedding is scheduled to coincide with my birthday for otherwise I may be very cross with Balin," Bilbo muttered once he broke away, breathing heavily. "Now, let me up so I may see about food and you can prepare a bath for us." He winked and bounded to his feet. "Hurry, my King, for I am starved..."