Notes: I am very thrilled to have an illustration to go with this chapter. A lovely digital painting by the amazing Jadedsilk. It is in not work safe, so be prepared ... all I'm saying ;) Thank you so much, sweetie. It's beautiful.

Translation of Khuzdul: Ukrd - greatest heart, zyungel - love of love (greatest love). Ughvash - greatest treasure. zyungl - lover (beloved).


Interlude - Hunger

By the time Bilbo returned, servants carrying trays of food in his tracks, a bath had been run and Thorin was hiding inside the bedchamber, clad in nought but his skin. The hobbit had probably tried to simply pick the dishes he wanted and take them to their rooms himself, but had been overruled. A future consort did not carry his own food, it simply was not done. Thorin smirked, his head coming to rest against the solid wood of the door. He would be disgruntled about that, especially now that he could hear the servants rummage in Bilbo's little kitchen to ensure the food remained warm until he and the king ate it. Smirking, the dwarf made his way back to the bathroom, there to await his betrothed.

And when Bilbo finally entered, he stopped dead in his tracks. "Thorin..." his right hand came up to this throat, but his left went somewhere else entirely. Good. So the dwarf's current positioning and actions had the desired effect. He was sitting in the large tub facing the door, his eyes burning embers that were undressing the hobbit where he stood. His left arm lay on the edge of the water basin, hand beckoning to Bilbo. But his other hand was under the waterline, and Thorin was sure his betrothed had no difficulty guessing what it was doing there. "You started dinner without me," Bilbo eventually gasped out. "How very impolite of you." His eyes were no longer on Thorin's face, but trained on the king's right arm where it moved beneath the water.

As if in a trance, Bilbo divested himself of his clothing, and Thorin guessed that only rigid self control and the hobbit's appreciation of the fine garments had stopped him from stepping into the water still fully dressed. When at last he was naked, his need very much interested and ready, he wasted no time but stepped down into the basin and walked through the warm water to where Thorin was sitting. "I grew bored, my hobbit, and you know what I do when I am bored..." The dwarf smirked, but then moaned as Bilbo's hand joined his own, stroking the king to full hardness.

"Mine. You are touching what is mine, Thorin." The hunger in both Bilbo's eyes and voice made the dwarf shudder with want. It was hard to pry his hands away and reach for the oil that was sitting on the edge of the tub, but they would need it, and need it soon. It had been weeks, and unlike the month of being celibate they would have to endure, this time without any lovemaking had come without warning. If Thorin was honest with himself, it had played a large part in his bout of idiocy a week back. Now there was nothing he wanted more than to be one with his betrothed once more, to hold Bilbo close and to know that he would never lose this. That the halfling would always be by his side. Morgoth, he'd fight Morgoth to stay with Thorin.

For a moment it was this thought that made him shiver and not his need to bury himself in his betrothed's oh so pliant body. But when Bilbo whispered his name, when he kissed the dwarf's lips tenderly, lovingly, Thorin remembered where they were, and why they were here. With a growl, the king claimed the hobbit's lips, and before long he was mapping Bilbo's mouth, exploring it with his tongue and at the same time playing with Bilbo's. That kiss was enough to disintegrate that feeble remainder of his patience and he pulled the hobbit closer so he was seated in the dwarven king's lap. The hobbit's hands were buried in Thorin's hair, pulling at it once in a while and serving to heighten the dwarf's pleasure.

Panting, Thorin finally broke the kiss, and he smiled as he gazed upon Bilbo's face. His lips were swollen, his breathing was ragged and his eyes ... those beautiful grey eyes were almost entirely made of pupils, dilated with desire as they were. "The oil?" the hobbit enquired, reaching for the vial as Thorin held it out. "Let me just..." And then he opened the flask, pouring some of the liquid on his fingers and lifted himself out of the water somewhat, holding on to Thorin's strong back with one hand while the other... The king gasped, his need throbbing when he realised what Bilbo was about to do.

Grey eyes, filled with lust, held his, and time both flew by and stood still at the same time. Suddenly, Bilbo lifted himself up once more, his hands closing around Thorin's need and spreading some of the viscous liquid, and then, finally, he was engulfed in satiny heat as the hobbit sank down upon him until he was seated in the king's lap once more. Bilbo's lips had formed a silent 'Oh' and a blissful expression was on that beloved face. "Bilbo," the dwarf rasped, "my betrothed..." The halfling smiled, eyes sparking. His arms were once again wound around Thorin's neck, and slowly he began to move his hips.

It was a gentle rocking motion that should have ensured that they both would last for quite some time, but it had been too long and too sudden, and they were both already closer than they wanted to admit. Too soon, their movements became more powerful, and erratic, Bilbo sliding up and down Thorin's need, and the dwarf meeting each and every stroke, making the hobbit moan and mewl, the delicious noises echoing in the bath chamber. Bilbo was sobbing now, though not from pain. "I love you," he whispered through his tears. "Oh Valar... Please, Thorin, touch me." He could never deny his hobbit anything, and this was no exception. His hand closed around Bilbo, stroking him in time with the movements of his hips.

Bilbo was beautiful like this; cheeks flushed, eyes half closed and his lips swollen from the kisses they had shared. Thorin brought up his other hand to wipe away the hobbit's tears, the gesture gentle despite the heat and urgency between them. He seemed to be so fragile and yet, there was strength to the halfling that was beyond surprising. His heart though, that was the most amazing thing. Fiercely loyal and steadfast, and oh so forgiving. And passionate. Passionate enough that he could not only keep up with Thorin, but astound him on numerous occasions. Like right then. Bilbo had let go of the dwarf's neck and was bending backwards, his hands now resting on Thorin's strong thighs. His head was thrown back, but his eyes were still firmly trained on Thorin's face.

"Close, ukrd, so very close." Grey had turned to near black, and Thorin found himself drowning in those beautiful orbs. Bilbo's need and desire were swimming in them, yes, but so was all the love he felt for the dwarven king. And it were the hobbit's eyes that nearly tipped Thorin over the edge. But no, Bilbo first. And so he shifted minutely, and on the next thrust he was sure he would hit... Oh yes. Bilbo groaned loudly, and then again and again, until at last, Thorin's name on his lips, he came undone. The contractions around him brought Thorin to completion as well, and he pulled the hobbit closer, burying his face against Bilbo's neck. This was home. Not the mountain around them, nor this marvellous land. No, Bilbo was home.

---

His lungs were burning and his thighs were on fire, but Bilbo had never felt this alive. Well, not in a long time. And yes, two weeks was a very long time. The prospect of a whole month was not appealing in the slightest and yet, in a way, he was almost looking forward to it. For when the month ended, they would be married. They would speak their vows in front of not only their people, but also their allies, hobbits and elves alike. They would finally be one. Not that they weren't already, but to be able to call Thorin his husband... He shivered at the thought, and smiled. Carefully he moved first one and then the other arm around the dwarf's neck, holding on as he nuzzled into Thorin's long hair. "You have no idea how much I missed this," he whispered, earning a chuckle in response.

"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure if I were you, zyungel. You are not the only one who has been longing for this, as you very well know. I will always want you, will always need you. Only you, my hobbit, only you." He lifted his head then, and Bilbo's eyes were caught by sapphire blue that shone with love and warmth and a gentle hand wiped away the last remnants of the hobbit's tears. "Don't cry, zyungel. I never want to see you in tears again. Unless of course they are tears of joy." Bilbo grinned at that. They both knew that it was a rather silly request, considering how much time they now had, but it was touching nonetheless. "I will do my utmost to never make you cry again. Especially not the way Balin told me..."

"Then don't leave me again," the hobbit deadpanned. Strangely enough, there was no pain anymore when he thought of Thorin's passing. How could there be when the dwarf was holding him in his arms, and he was warm and alive, their bodies still one... "That is the only way you could make me cry again in such a manner, but I know that you won't and thus, I will never shed tears like that again. Though ... I wonder. I know you will not leave me, but is that because you want to stay with me or because you are afraid that I will tear down the Halls of Waiting to drag you out by your hair?"

Thorin laughed out loud and shook his head. "You may jest, but the thought of you tearing through Mandos is rather scary. And I know you would do it as well. After all, who is Nmo compared to Morgoth?" Bilbo nodded earnestly, for a second or two, and then began giggling. "Will you bring your mother's frying pan? Just to be certain you get your way?" The hobbit poked Thorin in the side and then moved his hands to his sides, which had started to hurt from laughing so hard. Thorin held him, and kissed his forehead and the side of his neck. "I promise," he whispered, "I will never leave you again. Once was more than enough, I assure you. To know that you forgave me, that you still loved me despite my actions, it was both a balm and an aching thorn. I would have done anything to stay with you. Anything, Bilbo."

The laughter abated, and the hobbit nodded, arms once more wrapped around his betrothed. "I know. It was the same for me, Thorin. But to have your ring, it was an ever-present reminder that you had loved me. And maybe, somewhere deep down inside my broken heart, I knew that you still did. Love me that is. That you were somewhere out there, thinking of me."

"Every waking moment, Bilbo. There was not a single second when you were not on my mind. When I was not hoping that you would find your way to these shores. Though," and the dwarf lowered his gaze then, "I've behaved rather badly when you did finally arrive. Do you wish to know what I wanted to do? Instead of standing around quietly, riding ahead of you mutely, and saying those stupid things?" Bilbo nodded, his breath hitching in his throat. "I wanted to drop the reins and run towards you, I wanted to pull you into my arms and not let go, ever. I wanted to kiss you, Bilbo, and lose myself in you. I wanted to beg your forgiveness and pledge my love all at the same time. But I was afraid, so afraid that you had found someone truly worthy of you. I know ... I know that I am not." He signed as he reached up to touch Bilbo's braid. "However, I am also too selfish to let you go."

"You're not the only one who is rather selfish, ukrd. And I believe you are worthy. It is I who is lacking in so many aspects, but I am learning." Thorin was about to speak up, to deny Bilbo's words, but the hobbit silenced any argument by placing his lips on the king's. "It does not matter," he whispered against the dwarf's mouth. "It does not matter what you said or what I did or didn't do. All that matters is that our hearts are entwined. I saw yours ... noble and loving and strong. And pure, Thorin. The goldlust, it clouded your thoughts, yes, but it never touched your heart." He placed his hand on his betrothed's chest then, feeling that great heart beat against his palm.

Thorin nodded, clearly signalling that he would not pursue this argument further. Gently, he lifted Bilbo, breaking their connection. Then again, that wasn't true at all. The hobbit smiled, realising that their hearts were always as one, even though their bodies were not. Gently, the dwarf was then washing them both, mindful to always keep Bilbo close, and every so often placing a kiss on the hobbit's skin. Bilbo felt as if he was floating; warm and safe and exactly where he wanted to be. He closed his eyes, leaning back to let the water carry him, no longer afraid of drowning. Not since the barrel ride during their escape from Thranduil's dungeons. He sighed contentedly, but then, as always, his stomach rumbled, announcing that it was still around and expected sustenance.

Thorin chuckled. "I think it is time we find out what delicacies the kitchens provided for us." He stood, pulling Bilbo with him, and together they stepped from the water, the dwarf flipping the switch to drain the basin as an afterthought. The hobbit was toweled off and then clad in his beautiful and soft purple dressing robes that had been a gift from Balin upon their 'trothal. Thorin's were in the dark blue of Durin's line, or as Bilbo insisted, the colour of the king's eyes. Both had a golden border run all the way along the edges, and they were beautiful. A worthy replacement for the hobbit's patchwork robes if he said so himself.

Before long they were seated in front of the warm fireplace, furs beneath them keeping the cold of the mountain away. Their dinner was spread out all around them, and despite his ongoing protests that he could cook for himself just fine, and thank you very much, Bilbo had to admit that he truly enjoyed everything that had been brought up from the kitchens. Especially the roast duck was simply beautifully done, and with the cranberry compote on the side he was rather put upon when Thorin asked to taste it. He was hovering over the plate like a vulture, and eventually the king decided that, in order to have just the slightest taste, he might have to resort to other means than simply asking. And so Bilbo suddenly found himself kissed rather thoroughly.

Suddenly, his hunger for food was secondary, and his hunger for ... something quite different came to the fore once again. His hands quickly undid the tie of Thorin's robes, and he could feel the dwarf chuckle into the kiss. When the king pulled away, his gaze was feral, and yet also gentle at the same time. "What would you say if I suggested we take a break from eating and have some dessert before continuing?" He smirked and Bilbo could only nod, still trying to catch his breath. Thorin quickly gathered up the various plates and returned them to the kitchen to keep everything warm, and by the time he rejoined the hobbit, he had divested himself of his robes, whereas Bilbo had only managed to take off the tie of his. And when he raised his hands to pull them off his shoulders, Thorin growled and shook his head. "No, leave them. You are my prize, ughvash, and mine to unwrap."

"Then come and claim what is yours, my King, for I desire nothing more." And then he remembered something, and grinned, "Come to me, zyungl, for I wish to take tea with you..." He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively, but at seeing Thorin's expression, he began to giggle. The dwarf seemed torn between want, which was rather hard to miss given the state of certain parts of him, and a laughing fit that bordered on being hysterical.

"Let me guess, my hobbit. You will never ever let them live that one down." Bilbo shook his head and grinned rather smugly. "You know that they meant no harm by it, though I agree, it is rather funny. Maybe we should invite Elrond and the Lady Celebran for tea one afternoon, and tell our dearest nephews about it?" His eyes were sparkling mischievously as he slowly sauntered over to the furs.

"They have brought it upon themselves, don't you agree? To think, having tea with Smaug, the thought!" Bilbo giggled again, but the moment Thorin lowered himself to the furs and moved closer, arms coming up to gather the hobbit to him, his mirth abated and turned to a beaming smile. "Though I would rather not think of Fli and Kli right now. There are better things to be done after all." His right hand was once again buried in the king's hair, but the left was covering that strong heart. Thorin's hand on his back was warming him through the fabric of his robes, and the other was busy pushing the piece of garment off the hobbit's shoulder. Then it slid upwards, along his neck. And when their lips finally met, all thoughts of Kli and Fli fled, and once more passion took over. And as Thorin lay him down on the soft furs, Bilbo's last conscious thought was that he must be the luckiest hobbit ever to live. For none other would ever hold the most precious of treasures. The heart of Thorin Oakenshield, King of Erebor.