Translation of Elvish: Tarnin Austa - Gates of Summer.
Translation of Khuzdul: Ukrâd - greatest heart. Âzyungel - love of love (greatest love).
Chapter 37 - Revelations
Now (1 F.A.)
Lanterns lined the road between the great gates of the dwarven mountain and the building site of the grand elven city. It took shape quicker and quicker now, which was not surprising. The last snows had long since receded from the paths of the Pelóri Mountains, and caravans were arriving weekly from Tirion with building supplies and materials. And even the Valar seemed to take an interest in Gondolin, or at least Bilbo believed so. A great eagle had appeared a morning not so long ago, carrying two richly adorned stoles for the High King and Queen. To be placed upon their new thrones within their new city.
It was the evening of Tarnin Austa, the beginning of a night of quiet contemplation, and silence from midnight to dawn. Then song would rise to mingle with the first rays of the sun, and elves, hobbits and dwarves would welcome summer. But for Bilbo and Thorin the celebration marked something even more important than the coming of the warm season. It was on this day that Elrond had read the Moon Runes on Thrór's map so many years ago, and it was also only three more months now until the two lovers would be wed before their families and people.
"I'm nervous," Bilbo admitted. They had been asked to speak a few words on behalf of the dwarves and hobbits, something Thorin was clearly not at all fussed about, but Bilbo... Well, if he was honest, the only time he had ever truly given a public speech had been at his one hundred and eleventieth birthday, and he still remembered how cross a certain wizard had been with him over it. Not the speech itself, but his whole vanishing act. "I don't do very well with this kind of stuff."
"You will be fine, and you know it yourself. And besides, you won't be alone now will you? Unless of course it is my presence that makes you nervous." Even in the twilight of the lanterns Bilbo could see the smirk that graced his betrothed's face. He huffed. "I mean, if that is the case, maybe you want to rethink what is to happen in the not so very distant future. And I do not speak of your birthday, ukrâd, for I am afraid there really is nothing you can do about growing older and wiser."
"That's not funny, oh great King under the Mountain. If you think that I waited for eighty long years for this moment to come and then let you slip from my grasp, you are sadly mistaken. You will marry me, and after one month of longing for your touch, I will know it again that night and it will be the best birthday present I've ever given to someone." Thorin blinked and shook his head once he understood what Bilbo meant. "What? You think I'm not a good enough gift, do you? Have I not reduced you to squirming and moaning last night? And only with my hands, mind you. We shan't talk of the noises I evoked when I put my mouth to use, nor the ones that tumbled from those kingly lips when I..."
He couldn't finish that thought because a certain dwarven king decided that enough was enough, stopped dead in his tracks and silenced his hobbit in a most delicious way. The hobbit was flustered when at last he was set down again. Set down! The guts of the dwarven king! Flustered, and smiling rather broadly. Though words would be spoken of this, of the manhandling at the very least. Later. When Bilbo was not flushed and unable to string two words together. Not when he wanted to drag the dwarf into a bush and demand he follow through on the unspoken promise he had just given the hobbit.
"I love you, Bilbo Baggins," Thorin whispered then, and was immediately forgiven. And it was quite clear that he knew it. But there was no gloating, just love and longing in those beautiful eyes. "I longed for this, Bilbo. To have you by my side, as my husband. Ever since that morning on the Carrock. I knew it could only ever be you. My brave hobbit." That made Bilbo blush, and he was glad for the darkness surrounding them. Surely Thorin would not be able to see. Oh, but he could feel it. For right then a gentle dwarven hand touched his cheek. "Don't be embarrassed. You ... you must know that it is the truth. You were the only one who ever made my heart sing, the only one I ever wanted to hold close and never let go again. You have no idea how hard it was to do exactly that."
"You didn't have to on my account," Bilbo smiled. "I was ... I was startled at first, but then I never wanted to leave your embrace. I felt so safe, I always felt safe in your arms, âzyungel, always. Strangely enough even when you held me by my throat," Thorin hissed at the memory. "No, you will listen to me. I still felt safe. I knew that you would not hurt me. I knew it. I've always known it. Trust me in that." The dwarf huffed, but eventually nodded. "My heart and soul, they know yours. And they call out to you. Oh my!" he suddenly exclaimed. "That's it! That's what I will put into my vows." He was positively bouncing now. "That's so much better than all the things I wrote so far. It's simple, and yet, it's the truth."
"So that is what you and Balin are working on, huh?" Oh bugger! But there was no way he could deny it now that Thorin was asking him directly. "Don't forget there is no time limit, nor a minimum amount of words. As long as the words you do speak come from your heart, that is all that matters." Were there tears in Thorin's eyes? Bilbo could not be sure but it looked like it. "I cannot wait, ukrâd, to make you mine. I wish we did not have to wait for eighty long years to make it so, but I promise you, never again will we be parted like that. Simply because I know where the Halls are, and you do as well. Not even a Vala will stand in my way, my hobbit. Not when you are at the end of my path."
The kiss that followed those words left them both just as breathless as the previous one, despite it being the most gentle and loving kind. And they were still lip-locked when their nephews, all three of them, caught up with them, Ori in tow as always. "Oh please," Kíli complained loudly. "Get a room! Your subjects don't need to see what you do behind closed doors." The hobbit and dwarven king ignored him, smiling into the kiss. "Alright, fine. Maybe your subjects do want to see it, but your nephews don't. Uncle Bilbo, Frodo looks green. I suggest you stop." But Bilbo could hear his nephew giggle, proving Kíli a liar.
In the end, it was the need to breathe that broke the two apart, and as one, they turned to their gathered family. "Be glad, my nephew, that we are not taking tea instead. Surely that would be the most wonderful gossip for weeks on end." Bilbo elbowed his betrothed, but grinned. Kíli was leaning on his brother, both of them groaning, and Frodo blinked in confusion, exchanging glances with Ori. "You see, young Frodo, my good-for-nothing nephews here have decided to take an interest in what goes on in our bedroom. And they have started to refer to it as taking tea." The eyes of the young hobbit widened almost comically, and then he started laughing. And if only for that, it had all been worth it.
Frodo seemed, on a whole, to be more balanced and happy than he had been before, making Bilbo wonder if Thorin was right. Maybe Frodo and Ori had come to an understanding as the dwarf believed. There were many signs to support such an assumption after all. Like the way Ori was now laying a hand on Frodo's shoulder to keep him from doubling over in his mirth. Friends would do such a thing, but the warmth in the young dwarf's eyes spoke of deeper emotions than mere friendship. And when his nephew grasped that gentle hand with his own, Bilbo finally had enough of this guessing game.
"So, how long were you two going to wait before announcing your relationship to us all?" he enquired rather bluntly, something he had learned from his dwarven friends, that worked better on occasion than beating around the bush like hobbits normally would. Gasps filled the warm night air, but Ori and Frodo looked ... smug. Yes, there was no better way to describe it. They were both smug.
"I don't know, Uncle. Maybe until you four admitted that you were working towards getting us to admit our feelings? To each other that is? We didn't notice straight away, but please. I didn't walk across half of Middle-earth and remained as oblivious as..." he bit his bottom lip and then shrugged, "as another of my companions." Pippin. No doubt he was speaking of Peregrin Took. "Anyway, while I do appreciate what you were trying to do, Ori and I can take care of ourselves just fine. And I know that I said things that may have made you fear I would never even try, but you should know better than anyone else that we are but pawns in this. Just like you couldn't fight your feelings for King Thorin, I stood no real chance. Not without hurting Ori." The young dwarf in question swallowed hard as Frodo took his hand. "And that is the one thing, Uncle, the one thing I could not bear."
Bilbo nodded and turned his head to glance at his betrothed. Thorin's eyes were resting on him, and had probably done so ever since he had asked his question. "He is right, ukrâd. You and I both know it. Neither of us meant to fall for the other at the start of our journey, and yet, we did. Almost straight away. When I saw you, I knew that you would be important, Bilbo. And I tried my utmost to deny it. You know this as well. But on the Carrock ... I saw, and for the first time truly acknowledged, what my harsh words were doing to you. And I couldn't ... I couldn't continue." He touched the hobbit's cheek, stroking Bilbo's soft skin with the pad of his thumb. "It is why I knew that something had happened between your nephew and our scholar here. That day when Frodo broke his hand."
"Yes, I had a feeling that King Thorin might be the first to know," Frodo admitted. "We spoke a few times of your journey, Uncle, and he told me how he had first come to realise what you meant to him, and then how he had come to understand that he could not push you away anymore. Not after you saved his life. For there truly was but one reason for you to do so. That you, too, cared. It opened my eyes. I don't think that Ori and I would have come this far had you not told me, Ki..." Thorin cleared his throat, and Frodo shook his head. "I mean Thorin. I'd still have thought I was doing the right thing not acknowledging what my heart wanted. I might not have told Ori that he was a burden, or that he was lost, but I still hurt him by always calling him a friend, and saying how glad I was to have found such a dear friend."
The young dwarf made to interject, to deny Frodo's words, but the hobbit simply took the other's hand, squeezing it tightly. "No. You know very well that I am right. You may have never said it, but I could tell the difference between how things were before that day, and the aftermath of my silly little accident." Frodo turned back to Bilbo and Thorin then, beaming. "It wasn't me, you know, who took matters into his own hands. It was Ori. He was so very sorry about my hand and he ... he kissed it. And I froze." He chuckled. "Ori thought I was going to reject him, and started to apologise but I ... I couldn't see him hurting anymore. And so I caught his arm, with my poor broken hand that I had totally forgotten and somehow we ended up much like we found you two just a few minutes ago. And then Ori took me to Óin."
"So kisses first, healer after?" Thorin asked with a big grin. "I like your style, Frodo. Your Uncle wouldn't hear of such a thing, always fussing over my injuries, even if it's just a splinter." Oh yes, the splinter. Bilbo remembered it well and also how infected the small wound had become and how long it had festered. He elbowed Thorin in the ribs, but remained quiet, rather satisfied when his betrothed grunted in sudden and unexpected pain. "But," the dwarf eventually continued while rubbing his side, "as you can see he has no qualms concerning injuries that he himself inflicts. Your uncle, Frodo Baggins, is a bully."
"Which is why you love him, though, isn't it? He's the only one who will stand up to you, my King." Ori was trying to hide behind Fíli and attempted to drag Frodo with him, but the young hobbit stood his ground. "And it's the same for Bilbo. You're the only one for him. I think he would have died of boredom had he settled for another hobbit, even a Took. I've always known that there were things about his journey that he never told anyone. It was clear that he was heartbroken, and equally obvious that it was no longer so once you were reunited. I am happy for you. Both of you."
Thorin had put his hand around Bilbo's waist, and had pulled his betrothed closer when Frodo spoke of his uncle's broken heart. Now he was smiling down at Bilbo, and the hobbit felt as if he was everything to the dwarven king and he swallowed. "You are correct, young Frodo. There's never been anyone else for me. And the only thing I regret is that I never travelled to the Shire before that evening. I would give anything to be able to see Bilbo in Bag End, surrounded by the things he held dear. I would love to wake in his little bedroom and smell toast, eggs and bacon. To see him sit by the fire, reading a book or perusing a map. I never saw his face like it is now, peaceful and truly happy. And, like it did the first time I beheld its beauty, it takes my breath away."
Bilbo was close to tears, and Ori seemed to have given in to them already. But Kíli had different ideas altogether. "You two are truly sickeningly sappy at times. Uncle, I promise you that mother won't let you live this down when she joins us. Thorin Oakenshield, grandmaster of 'love does not exist, it is but a fancy', not only in love but besotted with it." He stuck out his tongue at the same time as Thorin turned around to glare at his nephew. "It won't work. Not anymore, Uncle. I know how happy you are, and you won't be able to fool anyone. Frown at me all you want."
The young dwarf then rounded on Frodo and Ori. "And you... You've been an item for weeks! And not once did you think to tell any of us. Aren't we your friends? Shouldn't we know that we have yet another reason to celebrate?" He crossed his arms in front of his chest and did most definitely not pout. No, not at all. His lower lip was not at all pushed forward and wasn't trembling either.
Frodo grinned. "You mean so the four of you could congratulate yourselves on a job well done?" Bilbo blinked. And then blinked again. Of course. His nephew was, indeed, a Baggins ... and not some block headed Bracegirdle from Hardbottle; just like he had explained to Gandalf so many years ago. He had picked up on what the four conspirators had been up to, and turned it against them. Somehow, despite being somewhat upset at Frodo for not saying a word, he was also proud of the younger hobbit. "Besides, we didn't know for all that long. A few weeks at most. It all fell into place after Fíli once more pointed out how happy you are, Uncle. With your dwarven mate. And then Kíli was talking to Ori about how he wished he had someone like Bilbo, and, well, it all came together and we realised what you tried to do for so very long. We do appreciate it."
"We only wanted to make you two see what was so obvious to us," Bilbo explained then. "And we are very happy to see that you are now very much aware of it." And then he hugged both Ori and Frodo, his heart beating with the pride of a father. "I wish you all the luck in the world and all the happiness you so deserve." He pulled back then, studying his young nephew. "I hope though that you have told your mother. She'll never forgive you if you haven't, you know that."
"She knows, Uncle. We made both father and mother swear that they would not breathe a word to you. We ... we owe this to you. We do. And we wanted to find a way to thank you for it. Properly." He looked to Ori then. "We thought of something as well. Something we will gift you on your wedding day." That sparked Bilbo's curiosity, as Frodo clearly must have known it would. He glowered at his nephew. Who smirked back. "And we will not disclose any further information about what it is." He then turned away from his uncle and to Kíli and Fíli. "We also decided on a similar gift for you, even though it is not going to be finished yet." There was a mysterious smile on the young hobbit's face, and when he turned back to Bilbo, Ori's hand in his, he winked at his uncle. "I think we should be going though, or we will be late for the festival." And that was that.