Pairing: Past Bilbo/Thorin
Fandom: The Hobbit
Warnings: Canon Typical
Word Total: 3392
It took six weeks for all of his belongings to come home. The last thing to arrive back had been the writing desk his father had used in his study. He had no idea who had bought it, but apparently, they had finally left a door or two open so the desk could come home. He made a special trip into his study to pat it once in welcome.
On the way across the front parlor, he glanced at the mantle. The Hobbit pouch was exactly where he had left it. Bilbo shuddered lightly at the small piece of enchanted leather. He had done his research, as soon as his library had returned and he now knew what he had carried home.
The heart seeds he carried shifted in his chest and he rubbed at them in a soothing motion. It was not yet time for him to plant them. Not until he dealt with the last products of his travels.
The One Ring was sitting in his smial. In a Hobbit pouch. On his mantle. And no one knew it. Well, maybe Gollum knew he had it. But the rest of Arda was in the dark and that was a good thing indeed.
Bilbo hissed at the shaft of irritation he felt at the thought of the strange little creature. The emotion was not his own. All he felt for Gollum was pity and he knew that emotion was his alone. The anger and irritation he felt was coming from the Ring. Pulling in a deep breath, he pushed the emotion away from him and kept walking before he gave in to the urge to open the pouch. The Ring would not get any more hooks into him.
Bilbo hummed softly to himself as he grabbed the market basket from its place by the door. His finances were back in place and he had reinstituted the schedule for his tenants to pay him their rents. While he had been gone, the Thain had been taking care of everything. Getting his funds out of his grandfather had been a pain in the arse. But now that things were settled, he needed to do a spot of shopping. While was out, he wanted to pick up a few things before Gandalf showed back up. The Wizard rarely ate, but Bilbo decided that he wanted to have his favorites on hand.
The main market in Hobbiton was bustling. He recognized many of his tenets, cousins, and neighbors as they went about their day. The bit of coin he had to spend was well relieved by the merchants and his list was quickly taken care of. He even managed to get a wee barrel of Longbottom leaf.
“Did you want a barrel of ale to be delivered to Bag End, Mr. Baggins?” Daisy Noakes the Green Dragon’s brew mistress asked when he went to inquire about purchasing some to take home.
“Yes, I think so,” Bilbo agreed. “Please include a barrel of ale that is suitable for big people or dwarrow.”
“Are you going to be entertaining that wizard? I thought he could handle Hobbit ale?” Daisy asked as she walked over to check their available barrels. “We have a petite barrel of the ale we serve the Dunedin. Would that work for you?”
Bilbo nodded at that. “That’s not too strong, so it should be fine for big folk and dwarrow.”
“You’re expecting elves, Mr. Baggins?” Daisy asked.
“No, dwarrow,” Bilbo corrected carefully.
“We had a whole mess of them go through several months before you came back, Mr. Baggins,” Daisy told him, voice cheerful. “There was a very good fair and everyone left it happy.”
“Good to know,” Bilbo murmured. Thorin’s dwarrow needed all the goodwill they could get. And if they had bargained for food and travel supplies while there, he was sure they had been well-stocked for the trip.
“Yup. Okay, I’ll get the boys to deliver your barrels this afternoon,” Daisy told him before naming the price.
Bilbo paid the cost without a wince. Ale from the Green Dragon was excellent and he enjoyed having some on hand. And, to be honest, he was a crap brewer.
“Pleasure doing business with you again, Mr. Baggins,” Daisy told him before slipping him a half-pint of hobbit-strength ale on her way to take care of a table.
He settled back into his seat and sipped at his drink. If he remembered the schedule right Dís was packing up the last of the dwarrow in the Blue Mountains and would be heading out to Erebor. The trip had been planned to go through the Shire to take advantage of the abundant production of foodstuffs available.
Bilbo could admit he was both looking forward to and dreading her arrival. He had been a part of the Company and had been there when her brother and sons had died. He ignored the familiar stab of pain he felt at the death of Thorin. He had things to do before he could truly grieve.
Once he finished his drink, Bilbo gave Daisy a wave before heading off. He had a few things to do before evening.
Hours later he was putting the finishing touches on his meal when there was a firm knock on the door. Bag End stirred and let him know the gray one was there. “Open the door, love,” Bilbo murmured as he poured some ale in a large tankard.
“Bilbo? Bag End feels more alive than it did before. What’s going on?” Gandalf asked as he entered the entrance hall.
Bilbo passed the wizard the tankard of ale and took his staff in return. Setting it against the inner wall of the smial, he grunted at the weight. The bloody thing was heavy. “The smial is more alive than it was before I left, Gandalf. And Bag End took care of itself. Since I’ve come back, it’s settled down, but it responds to my wants much quicker than before.”
“How interesting,” Gandalf said, voice soft with wonder.
“Yes, it is,” Bilbo confirmed. “But the status of my smial wasn’t why I asked the ravens to find you before the fall.”
“Why did you send ravens to fetch me?” Gandalf asked, clearly puzzled, “Is it the heart seeds you’ve developed?”
Bilbo touched the place by his heart where his children rested. “No, it’s not them. Do you know what a hobbit pouch is, Gandalf?”
The wizard hummed softly to himself as he took a sip of his ale. “I do. Those pouches can hold an untold amount of goods, and I know you carried three on the quest. Why?”
“I did carry three. One came back with food from Rivendell, one filled with my share of the treasure, and the final one with an item I picked up in the goblin caves,” Bilbo paused before he took a deep breath and pushed on. “It’s a small gold ring, and if I’m right, it’s the most dangerous thing on Arda.”
Gandalf put the tankard down before folding himself into a seated position. Like that, he was eye level with Bilbo and he stared at the hobbit, eyes serious and powerful. “What do you think you found, Bilbo Baggins?”
“I think I found the One Ring,” Bilbo confessed in a rush. “And it cannot stay here in the Shire.”
He had never seen an Istari turn white before, Bilbo thought to himself, and he never wanted to again. Bag End shook briefly as if the wizard had tried to shed his form and ran into the structure before he shrunk back into the guise of an old man. Bilbo gulped once before standing tall and kept his eyes level.
“You believe you have the One Ring here?” Gandalf asked, voice soft.
Bilbo was going to ignore the sounds he heard under that soft, kind voice. Battles had no place in his smial. “Everything I have found says it’s the Ring.”
“And why are you telling me this Bilbo?” Gandalf asked, voice still soft, but filled with the sound of death and destruction.
He touched his heart seeds again and drew courage from how they moved to the beat of his heart. “Because I cannot cradle my children in a world where the One Ring exists. Their father was driven mad by gold and I do not want them to have to face that temptation. If it stays here, it will try to get to them, either through me or by tempting one to take it.”
“So Thorin is their father?” Gandalf asked.
“Yes,” Bilbo agreed.
“Do the Company know you carry their king’s children?” the wizard pressed. The sounds of battle had disappeared from his voice and Bilbo was grateful for the respite.
“Balin and Dwalin know. And I requested Dís come by on her journey to Erebor,” Bilbo confessed. “She should be here next week.”
“Hmm,” the contemplative noise the wizard let out sounded distracted and Bilbo took a deep breath. “So what do you want to do with the Ring?”
“I want to throw the Ring into Mt. Doom and get rid of it,” Bilbo said. “And I don’t know the way. I was hoping to ask an Eagle to take me so it can be done quickly.”
“The Great Eagles are not some feathered ferry service, Bilbo,” Gandalf told him sounding almost scandalized.
“No, they are not,” Bilbo agreed. “But they do live in this world and the surge of goblins near their nesting grounds has to be annoying. If the One Ring is gone and Sauron’s power wanes, they will be safer.”
The wizard sat back at that and picked up his tankard to take a deep drink of it. “That is a good point. What do you propose?”
Bilbo suppressed the urge to clap his hands together in glee. Now they were getting somewhere. “I want to see if they can fly us to Mt. Doom, and let me drop the damn thing down the throat of it. As I understand it, the One Ring can only be destroyed where it was created. And that in Mordor.”
“Right,” Gandalf agreed before taking another deep pull from his ale. “We would have to word the request right…”
“I’m sure I can get Erebor to allow the Eagles to nest on the mountain. Dian was keen on meeting them when we got to that part of the story,” Bilbo offered.
The sigh Bilbo let out was heartfelt. “Thorin and I married in Laketown. The Company witnessed it.”
“So you are the Dowager Consort of Erebor?” Gandalf asked. “And they let you go?”
“Dian had no choice,” Bilbo said, voice hard. “There was no way I could stay there. Dis will see me here for many reasons, not just because they are traveling through the Shire.”
“I’m sure,” Gandalf agreed voice faint. “Could I trouble you for some Hobbit ale? While tasty, this stuff isn’t up to the discussion.”
The snort of laughter that escaped Bilbo was unexpected, but he rolled with it. “Give it here then. But if you get a hangover you are on your own. Just don’t destroy Bag End.”
“Fair enough,” the wizard allowed before handing over his tankard. “Once you’re back with that we can get started planning.”
“Agreed,” Bilbo called with a grunt. A wizard sized tankard was not light.
By the time he made it back into the front parlor, Gandalf had pulled out the large chair Bilbo had commissioned and was busy smoking. His own chair was set opposite the wizard and they were both in front of the fire. The Hobbit pouch was on the mantle still and sealed.
“So now what?” Bilbo asked as he passed Gandalf his ale.
“Now, I need to do one test on the ring you have, Bilbo,” Gandalf told him before taking a drink of his new pot of ale. “Oh, this is a very good brewing. Anyway, take the ring out and throw it in the fire.”
Bilbo raised one eyebrow as he reached for the pouch to upend it over the fire. The hook the Ring had in him tugged hard as it fell. Shooing the feeling away, he watched the small gold circle ignore the heat. “Even I know that’s not hot enough to melt it, Gandalf.”
“But it is hot enough to show any hidden script it might carry,” the wizard said before grabbing the fireplace tongs to pull it out. He let it sit on the hearth for a moment before elven script flowed across the gold surface. “And there it is,” he said with a heavy sigh.
“Well shite,” Bilbo muttered.
It took Bilbo hours to fully talk Gandalf around to his plan. They didn’t have time to do the whole journey on foot. Plus, walking the ring into Mordor sounded like a fantastic way to die.
Bilbo had no interest in becoming a meal for an orc or a troll. Hobbits were not food.
By his calculations, a trip by eagle would take three to four days just to reach Mt. Doom. Barring anything unforeseen, it would take an equal amount of time to come back. He just had to hope there was nothing barring his way into the volcano.
“So we are decided then?” Bilbo asked as he poured the last of the ale into Gandalf’s tankard.
The wizard kept a close eye on what Bilbo was doing before nodding his head. “Yes. I shall send a messenger to Gwaihir in the morning. I expect he will arrive after Dís.”
“Good. It will give me time to put travel packs together and get arrange for the slaughter of several cows,” Bilbo paused, his own tankard full of ale. “They eat cows, right?”
“Cows, deer, fish… whatever they can catch,” Gandalf confirmed.
“Alright then. I’ll get what I can and add it to a pouch to keep it fresh,” Bilbo said with a nod.
Hobbit pouches would totally be their saving grace, he was sure. Because as soon as he had tipped the Ring back into it, he had stopped wanting it. Now all he wanted to do was destroy it. And that wasn’t going to change.
The following week was busy. Bilbo was both getting ready for his trip to Mordor and organizing space for the final caravan of dwarrow to arrive. He and Dís were exchanging ravens on a daily basis and while most of the news they exchanged was for work, some personal tidbits snuck in.
After all, he had spent close to a year in the company of her sons and brother and he had a lot of stories to tell. He tried to keep the anecdotes light, but he was sure those were painful too. He had just finished reading her last missive when one of the Grubb youngsters stumbled to a halt on Bagshot Row and waved to get his attention.
“Mr. Baggins, sir. You said you wanted to know when the dwarrow were close. Well, there’s one coming this way on a pony!” Michael Grubb panted.
“Thank you, lad,” Bilbo called as he wrapped several sweet scones, rich with honey and apples in a bit of cheesecloth as thanks.
“Wow, thank you Mr. Bilbo!” the boy told him with a smile before running off to enjoy his bounty.
Bilbo wasn’t really paying attention. The dwarrow the boy had spoken of was maneuvering her pony up the Row and he was struck dumb. Dís strongly resembled Thorin and the absence of him was a fresh wound.
“Hello, Bilbo Baggins,” Dís said voice quiet as she got off her pony.
He swallowed heavily before nodding. “Hello Dís. Welcome to Bag End.”
The dwarrow were in the Shire for three days before they had to move on. Hobbiton held a huge market day where every hobbit who set up a stall sold out. The dwarrow had hard coin, the hobbits had wares and everyone left happy.
Bilbo and Dís had spent the three days talking. At times the conversations were beyond painful and both of them used the ale he kept on hand to dull the pain. And yet, they went back to talking, because, despite the pain, it helped.
“So what will you do now?” Dís asked as she poured the last of the ale into her tankard.
Bilbo touched the spot by his heart where his children lay. “Now? Now I will garden, raise my children, and live my life as long as I can.”
Dís stared at him for several heartbeats. “It amazes me that Hobbits grow their children in the ground and that you carry my brother’s children in your heart. Thank you for that, Bilbo. For loving him enough that you created children and allowing them to live.”
“How could I not?” Bilbo asked. “He gave everything for Erebor, even his sanity and I did not hold his madness against him.”
“You will write and let me know how things go?” Dís asked.
“Yes. And I will send portraits as I can,” Bilbo promised.
“Will you tell Dian?” Dís asked and Bilbo could hear the echoes of Her Royal Highness, Princess Dís of the line of Durin her voice.
“Do you think I should?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Dian has his own heir and Thorin II is a good enough boy,” Dís allowed. “But Erebor has been under the rule of my family for a very long time.”
“And the last three kings from your line succumbed to gold sickness,” Bilbo carefully laid the facts out. He was not and never had been blind to Thorin’s faults.
“Point. Dian’s never showed sign of a need for gold, so there’s that,” Dís said with a sigh. “But it galls me to know that my brother and my sons died to reclaim Erebor only to lose it.”
“Balin knows, as does Dwalin,” Bilbo revealed, voice soft. “If there is a need for my children to reclaim their father’s kingdom, they will have help.”
Dís relaxed at that news and then nodded. “Will you let me send tutors for the children? So they might know the other half of their family?”
“Certainly,” Bilbo assured her. Actually, he would welcome the help. He was sure that a blending of dwarrow and hobbit would display some interesting traits. “I just hope they get my sense of direction above ground and Thorin’s under.”
“He was rather hopeless, wasn’t he?” Dís asked with a small laugh. “Fili and Kili at least were spared that.”
“Yes, they were,” Bilbo smiled fondly at the memory of the two boys who had burrowed so deep into his heart.
“I miss them, Bilbo,” Dís whispered, voice broken in a way he was sure would never mend.
“I do too,” he whispered.
By mutual agreement, they avoided the worst of their grief for the rest of the time Dís was in the Shire. They talked about other things. It was hard to move around their mutual wounds, but Bilbo never wanted to see devastation in Durin blue eyes again.
When it came time for the dwarrow to leave Bilbo let go of Dís only reluctantly. It was hard but it had to be done. If he was honest he had thought about going back to Erebor, but if he did, his children would become pawns.
“May Mahal bless your journey,” Bilbo told Dís, voice hoarse with emotion.
“And may Yavanna bring you good harvests,” Dís whispered back. “I’ll send ravens as I can on the road.”
“And I will keep you up to date on my planting. I will start in the spring so I have enough time to make the ground rich enough to support a dwobbit or three,” Bilbo told her. “You are always welcome here. Tea is at four and you don’t have to knock,”
“I’ll remember,” Dís told him before mounting her pony to start the next leg of her journey.
Bilbo stood watch at the top of Bag End as the dwarrow left the Shire. Once they were out of sight he took a deep breath.
“And now we need to go to Mordor,” Gandalf announced. “Gwaihir is waiting in the far pasture and has agreed to carry us to Mt. Doom to complete our quest.”
Nodding, he turned to his smial to get dressed. It was time to show how brave a Hobbit’s heart was.