Title: Back Again
Fandom: The Hobbit
Prompt: Trope Bingo! Time Travel
Word Count: 4745
“Son of a bitch!”
Bilbo sat up and looked around his bedroom. This was not what he had expected when he had closed his eyes to sleep on the way to the West. He’d grown old and crotchety in his smial and moving to Rivendell hadn’t really changed that. Traveling to the West had just added to his attitude.
What he hadn’t expected was to go to sleep and then wake up in the past.
Looking at his skin, he was young again. Maybe young enough.
“Sitting in bed isn’t going to get you the answers you’re looking for, Bilbo,” he muttered to himself. Throwing back his covers, he slipped out of the bed and padded over to the window. The Shire looked like it always had. Bucolic, green and so peaceful it was boring.
“Food first, then check the study to see when I am and then…,” Bilbo instructed himself.
He quickly shrugged into his dressing gown and shuffled his way to the kitchen. On the way there, he slowly, carefully stretched, and then grunted in satisfaction. He had a full range of motion for every joint of his body, which he’d not had since he came back from his original adventure from Erebor. Patting his belly, he sighed at the pudge under his fingers.
There was a calendar in the hallway and Bilbo stopped in front of it. He had marked off the dates each day as he had always done. It was April 26, 2940. He had a year before the Company would arrive at his door. Tapping his finger against the calendar, Bilbo hummed softly in satisfaction before he continued on the way to the kitchen.
It took him only moments to get tea brewing before he started to look for something to eat. For first breakfast he had scones and fruit available and Bilbo quickly made himself a plate. Tea poured, food ready, he sat down and carefully ate his meal. He wasn’t going to think about anything until he had some food in his system. He did stupid shite when he was hungry.
Meal complete, Bilbo quickly got dressed and walked into his study. One pen, a sheaf of paper and he started making notes. He needed to get in shape so he was able to actually keep up with the Company when they came by in a year. And while he was doing that, he needed to research how to make some Hobbit pouches. He wasn’t going to deal with thin supplies on the trip out and since he wasn’t going to accept the deaths of his Durin’s this time, they needed supplies for when they retook Erebor.
Yavanna, his lists were going to have lists and he was going to be carrying dozens of pouches to cover everything they needed.
Bilbo leaned back and looked up at the ceiling of Bag End and sighed. “I’m not going to be able to do this on my own. I’ll need some help. And that help can’t be Gandalf, he’s got his own role to play. I need someone who can get the dwarrow to do what needs to be done without arguing.” He released his prayer to the skies and tried to breathe through the sudden case of anxiety he got.
He got back to work and breathed out a sigh of relief when a wave of peace and determination washed over him. “Thank you.”
“I’m going to need to need a thousand weights of wheat ground into flour,” Bilbo directed as he spoke with the miller. “And the same in a porridge cut. Along with the same amounts of oats in a rough porridge cut.”
“Do you want oat flour too, Master Baggins?” the miller asked.
Blair thought about it for several seconds and then nodded. Oat flour was as useful as wheat and could be used in a number of dishes without issue. “Yes. And make sure to bag it all in ten-pound bags. I’ll be delivering several labeled pouches to store the flour and grain in this afternoon.”
It had taken him several weeks to find the secret to making Hobbit pouches in his mother’s papers, but once he had the way of it, he’d started making them by the dozen. So far, he’d managed to order and store enough food for the trip to Erebor in four pouches, all clearly marked as to what was in each.
With that chore out of the way, he was working on the food they would need for the first winter in Erebor. Fuck if he was going to act like they would fail. If the gods had seen fit to throw him back in time, he was going to make things work right this time.
The miller smiled at that. “That’s right kind of you, Master Baggins. It will take several days to get this together. I’ll have my boy deliver your bags when they are done.”
“Thank you,” Bilbo said. He shook the miller’s hand and headed off. He had several other errands to run before he went home for afternoon tea.
He took the time to look over the market and smiled at the fresh fish that one of his tenants had hooked up from the river and had swimming in large baskets. Twenty minutes later, he had two fish, a lemon, and enough vegetables for a proper meal. He also had orders in with several of the farmers in the region for a large amount of vegetables to be processed and packed into their own pouches.
Bilbo marked off his list of chores on the daily list and the master list of needed items and stared at the biggest item left. He needed to go talk to Farmer Maggot to get a larger supply of vegetables and meat. Maggot was the Farmer for Hobbiton and he would have enough that Bilbo could buy a decent supply without worrying that he was taking the food away from his fellow hobbits. And if he asked right, he might also get seeds for fruit and veg that would thrive in the environment around Erebor. But given the Desolation, Bilbo had to wonder if he should bring soil too…
Lists done for the moment, he started to prepare dinner. Pan-fried fish, steamed broccoli, fried potatoes, plus beer and the lemon to squeeze over the fish. Delicious. He had the fruit in his hand and was starting to squeeze it over his fish when there was a knock on his door.
“For fuck’s sake,” Bilbo bitched as he looked down at his meal. “If that’s Dwalin at my door, I’m going to thump him!” He put a cover over his meal to keep the heat in before he got up to answer the knock. Pulling the door open, he stared at the figure on the other side. “You’re late!”
“Given that I wasn’t expecting to be here at all, Master Hobbit, I have no idea how I can be late,” Thorin informed him with a grimace. “Can I come in?”
“Get in here,” Bilbo sighed. He took Thorin’s pack and placed it in the sitting room while he took his coat off. “Remember to take your boots off.”
“I remember,” Thorin called. “You drilled that into our heads enough that I don’t think I could forget it.”
“Who wants to clean up dirt all the time?” Bilbo asked as he headed for the kitchen to dish up another serving of dinner. “You’re in luck. I have enough dinner for two.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t stabbed me,” Thorin commented as he slipped into place across from Bilbo’s dinner.
“I don’t have Sting, or I might,” Bilbo admitted as he slid a plate and tankard of ale in front of Thorin. “It’s a damn good thing I like your arrogant arse.”
“It is a good thing you like me. Mahal wasn’t going to let me join you until Yavanna said you needed help,” Thorin admitted. He looked at the food in front of him and raised an eyebrow. “Am I going to be able to eat this?”
“What do you mean?” Bilbo asked as he pulled the cover off his meal and started to squeeze the lemon over the fish again.
“I’m well aware, now, that Hobbits can eat things that will make Dwarrow ill. And you cooked this meal for you,” Thorin said quietly. He waved at the meal before them with a smile. “So. Am I going to get sick?”
“You’ll be fine,” Bilbo assured him. He nudged the other half of the lemon towards Thorin. “Squeeze some of this on the fish. It tastes great with it.”
“And the vegetables? Do I add the lemon to them?” Thorin asked as he carefully squeezed some of the juice onto his fish.
“You can,” Bilbo confirmed. He started to eat his meal and hummed in satisfaction. He’d done well.
“It’s good,” Thorin said after he’d finished half his meal.
“We won’t be eating this well while we’re traveling,” Bilbo offered. He stared at Thorin and raised an eyebrow when the other pouted. “There aren’t fish in every stream, Thorin.”
“Oh, I know. But between you and Bombur, I figure we’ll be eating decently, even if it isn’t quite to this quality,” Thorin said with a sigh. He took a deep pull off his tankard and then set it down. “Thank you for this. When I lived this year the first time around, it was a lean year, and a number of us went hungry.”
“Would that be why you agreed to retake Erebor?” Bilbo asked carefully. He started eating again and suppressed his satisfaction at how Thorin dug into his own meal again.
“Yes,” Thorin agreed sadly. “While we didn’t starve in this winter to come, we were very tight with food. And things weren’t looking any better for the coming year. The possibility of getting Erebor back was too alluring to pass up.”
“I get it,” Bilbo said. He had learned a lot about the dwarrow who had retaken Erebor as they had immigrated through the Shire. “We’re going to get it right this time.”
“I know we’ll do our best. Do you know why we were sent back in time?” Thorin asked as he used some of the bread Bilbo had passed him to mop up the butter that had come off his vegetables.
“I’m not totally certain, but I can guess. I picked up something on our original trip,” Bilbo admitted. He wasn’t happy with himself, but it wasn’t like he was planning on keeping the damn thing now. He both knew better and he hadn’t had it in his hand for almost thirty years when he’d died the first time. Time and distance were making a difference.
“Going to tell me? Or should I guess?” Thorin asked. He sounded resigned, but still interested.
“How much did you see while you were in Mahal’s Halls?” Bilbo asked, curious.
“Mostly, we were able to see anything concerning dwarrow. Which meant nothing about you or the Shire until the Fellowship met up in Rivendell,” Thorin admitted. He sounded disgusted and peeved, and Bilbo suppressed a small chuckle at his behavior. Mahal had better be on guard.
“Right,” Bilbo could feel his amusement drain away and he picked up his tankard to drain it. Only when he had finished the last drop of beer from it did he set it down. “So when we were in the goblin halls, I picked up something. A small gold ring.”
“Uh-huh.” Thorin eyed him closely and then crossed cutlery over his plate and leaned his arms on the table. “What was the ring, Bilbo?”
“I’m sure you can guess if you saw everything concerned with dwarrow,” Bilbo said. He was reluctant to explain further since the events didn’t paint him in the best of lights. “After all, it was well discussed while in Rivendell.”
Thorin shook his head before he bent a stern look on him. “Bilbo.”
“Fine,” Bilbo breathed out and admitted something that he’d kept mostly quiet for almost eighty years. “I picked up the One Ring in the goblin caves. Gollum had held it until it came to my hand and I used it while we were on our quest to move in and out of Thranduil’s palace without being seen. Among other events.”
“And here I thought that it was just you being stealthy, not having help by being made invisible,” Thorin mused. He kept his gaze locked on Bilbo’s as he thought things over. “So which was it?”
“Both, honestly,” Bilbo admitted after several seconds of thought. “I am able to be very quiet in how I walk, but being functionally invisible to the inhabitants of his palace helped a great deal.”
“Good to know,” Thorin said after several seconds. “So we need to what? Get rid of the ring? Before or after we retake Erebor?”
“Given who we are taking with us, I would suggest that we try to get the damn thing into the fires of Mount Doom after we retake Erebor,” Bilbo suggested.
Thorin frowned at that. “You used the One Ring when you talked to Smaug, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Bilbo confirmed. “I wasn’t able to actually find the damn Arkenstone without making a significant amount of noise. The Ring meant that Smaug had a hard time finding me without breaking out the fire while I looked. At least before the Arkenstone appeared out of the gold in front of me.”
“Let’s not do that again, okay?” Thorin suggested.
“Got your arse singed eh, Your Majesty?” Bilbo asked archly.
“Yes,” Thorin admitted sourly. “And it smarted. Badly.”
“Fair,” Bilbo said with a nod. “But after everything, I took it back here to the Shire. It stayed here for 50 years before my nephew managed to get it to Mordor to deliver it to Mount Doom. It can’t do that again.”
“So what? We restart the quest, pick the Ring up, kill Smaug, take back Erebor, survive the Battle of the Five Armies, and then make a short trip to Mordor to dump it in?” Thorin asked, ticking his points off on his fingers.
“Pretty much,” Bilbo confirmed with a shrug. “But I don’t want to actually walk to Mordor. I’m hoping that we can talk the Eagles into flying us there so I can drop the damn thing in.”
“Will you be able to let it go?” Thorin asked gently. “You held onto it for fifty years, after all.”
“It makes me ill to think about holding now,” Bilbo admitted. He pressed a hand to his belly and suppressed his nausea. “I’ll be bringing a Hobbit pouch to hold the Ring so its presence is muffled.”
“I’m good with the Ring not having a chance to influence us,” Thorin agreed with a nod. He picked up his utensils and started eating again. “Eat, Master Hobbit. We’re not on thin rations now and you can keep to your mealtimes.”
“I have no idea why I like you,” Bilbo muttered as he started to eat his meal again. “Let’s drop the heavy shite and talk about something else. I’ve been gathering supplies together to get us through the trip and keep us fed over the winter, into the spring and summer, all of it stored in special pouches that will hold far more than anyone would expect. Plus the Shire is going to have a very good harvest and we can easily trade or sell foodstuffs to your dwarrow.”
“Which will allow us to correspond and lead us to come here when it’s time to head out to Erebor,” Thorin mused as he scraped up the last of his meal. “This was delicious. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Will you stay?” Bilbo asked carefully.
“For the night? Certainly,” Thorin confirmed.
“For longer?” Bilbo pressed. “I found myself missing you in the 80 years I lived after your death.”
Thorin cleared his throat and then nodded. “I missed you too.”
Bilbo smiled at him and tried not to sigh in satisfaction like a tween. “Help me clean up and then you can get a bath?”
“Certainly,” Thorin agreed before standing up and picking up his plate before heading into the kitchen. “And I don’t start singing as I help you clean.”
“Thank you,” Bilbo said with feeling. “That was a bit nerve-wracking to watch.”
“I bet,” Thorin allowed. He looked around the kitchen and frowned. “Where is the water heated for the bath? Do I need to help haul it?”
“No,” Bilbo said, shaking his head. He twisted a tap over his sink and placed the stopper into place. Hot water poured out and he could hear more water entering the boiler in the back of the smial. “We have a system in place that warms water. Most of us don’t keep the boilers lit all the time, but we have them in place to provide hot water on demand. I was planning on a bath later so I lit mine before I left for the market. The water is well and truly hot. And enough for a bath or two.”
“We have something similar in most of our settlements,” Thorin shared. He placed his dishes into the water and tapped the second tap. “Is this for cold?”
“Yes,” Bilbo confirmed. He twisted that one open and added enough that the water was a useful temperature and wouldn’t burn him when he started cleaning. “Go get clean, Thorin. I can deal with this easily.”
“Right,” Thorin nodded once and headed for the bathing room that was in the center of Bag End.
Bilbo could hear Thorin walking around and smiled at the firm step the dwarrow was displaying. Despite having been on thin rations, he was still at a good weight and health. He would need to increase the amount of food Thorin ate. No matter how much he wanted to, there was no way that he was going to be able to keep the dwarf for the winter. The thought of not having Thorin within arm’s reach made him ache and he concentrated on washing the dishes as he tried to deal with his emotions.
“Oh, fuck me,” Bilbo breathed as he dropped a plate back into the water. The realization of his feelings for Thorin was horrific. “Eighty years. I’m a moron.”
No wonder they had been sent back together.
Thorin settled into the bath with a deep sigh. The tub in Bilbo’s house was big enough to take him without squeezing and he appreciated the gift of it. It was rare that he had been able to relax in a bath that was built for someone his size.
He relaxed in the water for several minutes before he sank under the water and let his hair get well and truly soaked. Thorin stayed under for as long as his lungs would allow him and then broke the surface of the water with a gasp. Sitting up, he grabbed his soap and started soaping his scalp up and working the suds out to the ends of his hair.
Only when his hair was well and truly covered in soap did he made sure to wash his body. It was deeply odd to feel his body in such an immediate and personal way after being dead for 80 years. He was sure that he would adjust, but while he did… he would deal with being startled with each renewed sensation.
Skin clean, he dunked his head under and ran his hands through his hair to get the worst of the soap out. Only once the suds were mostly gone did he stand up and grab the bucket he had prepared for himself before he drew the bath. Dunking his head in the bucket, he made certain to rinse every inch of his scalp. Using his hands, he worked to wring the excess moisture out of his hair and then secured it to the top of his head with a set of metal sticks he had in his pack for just that purpose. Hair clean, he used the water to rinse the rest of the soap from his body.
Clean and smelling much better, Thorin stepped out of the bath and pulled the bung before he dried off and started to deal with his hair. As he brushed out the mass, he tried to figure out what he wanted to do. Normally he left the whole mess loose, but something was telling him that he needed a bit of a change to show how serious he was about what he was planning on doing. Decision made, he reached into his pack to pull out a set of bands that would bind his hair back.
As each band went over his hair, Thorin breathed a bit easier. The style expressed the wearer’s intent. He had a war to fight and woe betide anyone who got in his way.
Hair done, he got dressed in the last clean clothes he had and stared at the contents of his pack as he repacked his bath supplies. When he’d lived this summer the first time, he’d managed to contract with a human woman to have her wash everything. She hadn’t stolen anything and even managed to get everything clean.
“Bilbo?” Thorin called as he bundled everything together and tucked it under one arm. He picked up his pack and walked out of the bathroom. He’d drop everything in whatever room Bilbo had him in and then go back and clean the tub. It would be rude to leave the mess there for the hobbit to deal with.
“Yes, Thorin?” Bilbo said from behind him.
Thorin suppressed the need to yelp and start. “By Mahal, I truly had forgotten how quiet you are,” he breathed. He took a deep breath and then let it out as his heartbeat settled down. “Where am I sleeping tonight? And can I contract someone to clean my clothes?”
“Come on, I’ll show you,” Bilbo said and then smiled as Thorin gamely followed him deeper into the hobbit hole. “And yes, we do have several women who take in washing. I can put you in contact with them to see about getting your clothes clean. Do you want to get anything repaired or replaced?”
“Yes, and yes,” Thorin admitted. “There are some things I have that are in dire need of replacement.”
“Depending on what it is, you may need to get it made custom. I don’t know if there are any hobbits of your size in the Shire at all,” Bilbo warned as he opened a door. The bedroom he had escorted Thorin to was warm and cozy with a small fireplace and a large bed. While it wasn’t the one Bilbo slept in, it was substantial and Thorin was grateful the bed was big enough for him. “Or we can buy the fabric and make it here? If you stay long enough for that?”
“I do need to make some deals to get food sent to the Blue Mountains,” Thorin allowed. He looked down at Bilbo and raised an eyebrow. “Is there much work here for a blacksmith?”
“Yes,” Bilbo said with a nod. “I have a number of properties that could use some updating and honestly, Hobbiton hasn’t had a dedicated blacksmith in almost two years. I think you can make enough over the summer to be useful.”
“And it will all be real work with no arranging on your part?” Thorin asked. He carefully settled his pack into place by the door and then dropped his laundry into an empty basket next to his pack. When Bilbo said nothing, he looked up at him. “Bilbo?”
“I…” Bilbo took a deep breath and Thorin could see the tips of his ears turn pink as they peeked through his hair. “I am the Baggins of Bag End. If I contract you to do work for all my properties in the area, others will follow suit. Depending on how much is needed, you may need to get some help.”
Thorin leaned against the door jam and watched as Bilbo’s eyes got wide. Interesting. “What does it mean that you are the Baggins of Bag End? I remember you saying that several times on our first trip.”
“It means that I am the head of the Baggins family. I have responsibilities that I sloughed off when I ran out of here the last time. I was lucky that the Family magics took me back as the head of the Family. As it was, I was looked at with a great deal of suspicion for years after I came back,” Bilbo explained. “Before I head out this time, I need to make sure that I name a successor and withdraw from the Family magic and move them into place as head.”
“Will this hurt you?” Thorin asked concerned. He wasn’t going to touch on how Bilbo had been tricked into joining the quest the last time around.
“No, it won’t,” Bilbo quickly reassured him. The pink at the tip of his ears was moving down their length and there was a light layer of it over his cheekbones. “I thought, if you were willing, to put an announcement with my grandfather, the Thain. He could publish it with the harvest announcements, saying that Erebor would be willing to accept any Hobbits who would be willing to move and farm the land there. They could come out with the first caravans of your people when they leave the Blue Mountains.”
Thorin took the time to think things over and nodded. “That sounds like a good idea. I can see the advantages of growing our own food. But I remember what the Desolation looked like. Would they be able to grow anything in that mess?”
“Well,” Bilbo blinked once and then nodded. “The Shire is as lush and productive as it is because Hobbits settled here. We’re invested in our homeland. We’ve poured the magic of our race into the ground and that helps keep us and our crops healthy. The Fell Winter happened because of the weather, not because we didn’t have enough food being grown. With enough Hobbits living in the hills around Erebor, we can bring the Desolation back to something productive and green within a decade. All while making sure that we have enough to eat on a day-to-day basis.”
“And since you would no longer be the Baggins, would you be able to pull these different Hobbits together into a new clan? Would they need to take your name?” Thorin asked. He had no idea that having Hobbits in Erebor would make such a difference.
“I would, and no, they could keep their familial names,” Bilbo confirmed with a smile. “Being able to make a new clan is part of what makes me the Baggins. It will be fine.”
“I have to ask,” Thorin started before he cleared his throat. “Why? Why do this again? Why expose yourself to the Ring, to the danger, to Smaug and all the crap that’s between us and Erebor?” When Bilbo stepped forward and placed a hand on his chest, Thorin sucked in a deep breath. It had been decades since he’d been touched by anyone and the last time had been the hobbit before him. Tilting his head, he leaned forward and let his voice drop slightly. “Why are you doing so much for me?”
“Because you’re my soulmate, you overgrown arse, and I’m not losing you again,” Bilbo hissed. He reached up and pulled Thorin’s head down and kissed him firmly before he let his forehead rest against his. “This was easier when your hair was loose and not all neat and tidy and shite.”
Thorin laughed softly before he picked Bilbo up and pressed a firm kiss to his lips. When Bilbo wrapped his legs around his waist, he let his hands slide down until they were settled under his arse. Breaking the kiss, he settled his lips against Bilbo’s ear. “I’ve wanted to do this since I met you.”
“Well, now that you have me, what are you going to do with me?” Bilbo asked.
“Anything you want me to,” Thorin promised. He turned and started walking towards Bilbo’s bedroom and pressed a firm kiss to his lips as he stepped up with the bed. “We’re not going to fail this time around.”
“No, we won’t,” Bilbo promised.