This is a story I spent a few days writing based off a short story I read a long time ago. I thought it would make a nice AU. I thought I'd warn you before you read that in this story Thorin is a sort-of-villain, and it can also sort of be read as Smaug/Bilbo if you really want it to be that, so I'm just warning you about that now and if you don't like that sort of thing, then please don't read it and then complain about it afterwards. Thanks
"You're a fool not to marry her Bilbo. You listen to me; we're not rich, you're not the most handsome in the village, and you're too adventurous. Take her. Who else will come along?"
Bilbo ground his teeth – his cheeks flushed with chagrin at his mother's words – as he scraped the brush bristles along the fibres of the cloak in his hands.
He was a merchant living in a town called Dale, which sat morosely in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain and was surrounded on all sides by a massive lake.
Although he had no siblings, he had many cousins, all of which who had married now and most had children.
Bilbo wasn't particularly old, but at his age, most everyone was married or they at least fancied someone.
He had believed that he wanted company when he was younger and he had always talked about pretty girls. But now, he did not mind being by himself so much.
Words of disdain bubbled up in his throat as he glared at his hands, but when he looked up to say them, he saw his mother gazing over his shoulder, her eyes wide and her face full of astonishment.
"Bilbo, get inside!"
She grabbed for his arm, but he stepped back, away from her, shocked and confused as she looked as though she were about to weep.
He frowned, and then turned around to follow her gaze and his eyes widened in wonder at the parade of horses approaching.
Their riders had their heads held high and they followed one man with a horse like midnight.
Bilbo imagined he could see the stars glistening in its coat as it puffed steam from its nostrils and shook its head.
"Down, on your knees, you fool, for the King!"
He dropped to his knees obediently at the command, gaping up at them.
He'd never really been very tall, shorter than most in the village, but he felt very, very small and very, very insignificant before this magnificent parade.
He counted a total of thirteen mounted men, but only the first one did he stare at.
He wore clothes of great wealth, not like what he and his fellow villagers wore.
His boots were of metal, and the coat that settled upon his shoulders and arms was of a deep blue with fur trimming.
His braided hair was long intricately braided in places, billowing out behind him in the frigid wind.
He had a short beard, a rather handsome face and he sat upon his horse with a regal straightness in his back, and tension in his arms and legs.
As he scanned the villagers, his eyes alighted on Bilbo.
This extravagant and intimidating man called, pulling his horse up and it whinnied, as if – to Bilbo – in protest, and its hooves came down too close to his face for comfort.
"I am down!"
He cried in fear as he fell back, half-lying and braced with one arm, propped up on his elbow.
His other arm was raised in front of his face, as if to protect himself if the horse came down again, although there was little he could do to defend himself from beneath the huge beast.
His mother wept behind him and he wanted to comfort her, but he dared not move as the man unmounted his steed, his clothes clinking when he hit the ground.
Bilbo He swallowed as he approached him, but he did not hurt him, as he had feared.
Instead, he began to speak.
"I am Thorin!"
He declared with a booming voice.
Bilbo cowered before him and though he could hear the commotion behind him, he felt as though he could not remove his eyes from the man.
"And I am the King!"
Thorin continued, his eyes finally leaving Bilbo to scan over the village.
He was speaking loud enough that Bilbo was sure the whole of Dale could hear him, but perhaps that was what he was aiming for.
"I have caught word from very reliable sources that Dale is the greatest fishing village and winter harvester for miles to come. That it is unprecedented."
There was a half-hearted, uncertain cheer at these words of compliment, but Bilbo did not cheer, for it was clear that the King had not yet finished speaking, and that the villagers had interrupted him.
He could see it in the way he scowled a little more at the noise.
"Quiet, all of you."
He demanded, and an obedient silence fell upon the village.
The only the sound was of the horses stamping their feet and chomping on their bits and of the wind blowing through the huts, harsh and unforgiving.
It was an unwelcome guest who paraded through their village as if they should be proud of it.
It only brought cold and snow in winter, but it brought sunlight and warmth and great harvests months later, as if asking forgiveness for its rude behaviour.
"So therefore, with your feast of plenty, we, the people of Erebor, will now claim half of your yearly harvest."
No one moved.
No one spoke.
Bilbo turned now, twisting on the wet, muddy ground to see the faces of his fellow villagers.
Most of them were on their knees, and now the rest who had been standing fell also, their faces pleading, though no one spoke.
No one except his mother, Belladonna.
She stepped forward, past Bilbo, and stood all alone before the King.
Bilbo began to plan how to escape and how to take his mother with him when he attacked.
She stood tall and without any show of fear, only defiance and determination.
"Your highness, we cannot. Already we give most of our harvest to you. We are trying to give you as much we can, but we have to live."
The King turned and mounted his steed again, his eyes cold and hard as he gazed down on Bilbo and his mother.
"Then try harder."
He spurred his horse forward and Bilbo threw his arms up as it leapt over him, and then the pillage began as the King's men plundered their huts.
He got himself up from the ground and sprinted for the mountain.
He found great rocks that had tumbled down from the mountainside that scattered the barren, lifeless ground like horrible gravestones marking the resting place of the life that might once have flourished there, and found he was small enough to hide behind one.
There he sat, panting, his breath coming in quick, fearful gasps as he listened to the screams of his fellow villagers.
He was not the only one who did not fear the mountain and had used this place as an area to hide, for he could see four or five children who had either seen him and followed or thought the same when the horses trampled through the streets.
He waited until he could no longer hear any noise at all, except for the wind, who had done nothing to help them.
It had only knocked them off of their feet and stolen their words, carrying them away with it.
When he felt it safe, he tentatively peeked around the rock.
The town was not in ruins, but he believed that if he blinked, in the darkness, in the space of a second, the town would be demolished and he would be a coward who ran and hid when his friends and family died, but when he opened his eyes it was still there.
He ran back in search of his mother, and after their teary reunion they helped search the village.
Those who were left built a big bonfire and they all sat around it, bedraggled, with weary faces and morose eyes.
Bilbo's mother clutched him in her arms and petted his hair as if he were a frightened child, though he had been terribly afraid of Thorin, the King, when he had loomed above him.
"The King said he will return in two days to claim something."
Ponto, one of his great uncles said after the whispered exchanges had turned to a despairing quiet.
Bilbo shuddered to think of what the King would be coming back for.
"He said he'd found something in the village that intrigued him and that he would return to take it then."
The whispers arose again, and then it became louder, and then there was an uproar of protests, anger and hate piled into a sound that echoed around Bilbo and closed in on him.
He felt like he were suffocating, everyone shouting over everyone else, everyone wanting their opinion heard, each one the same as the next.
The night came upon them, and although night was usually the time that they told stories and there was much drinking and merriment, everyone remained just sitting and watching the fire.
Many had screamed themselves hoarse and others just didn't have anything to say.
"We cannot stay here."
Someone finally said, breaking the heavy silence.
There were a few grunts of approval here and there, though many were probably too weary to even speak anymore.
The noise choked him and the quiet drowned him.
Bilbo felt that either way, nothing they said or didn't say helped in any way at all.
"Where can we go?"
Bilbo asked in a quiet, hesitant voice.
He did not usually speak up during these kinds of meetings – or whatever you wanted to call them – and he was not surprised when many shocked eyes turned on him.
He wilted under the intense gaze of almost everyone in Dale, or everyone who had not fled anyway.
"There's nowhere to go."
Some others started to argue between themselves.
Ponto shook his head, but did not interrupt them.
Everyone thankfully stopped staring at Bilbo, who had felt their eyes boring into him like knives, searching for blood.
"There is the mountain."
One young man meekly suggested.
There were many raised voices of disapproval, but Ponto shushed them, having evidently lost his patience.
"There is a great harvest upon the mountainside, where we villagers have not touched. The food is fresh and plenty and there is a small lake there overflowing with untouched fish,"
"They're untouched for a reason."
Gandalf didn't come from Dale.
No one knew where he had come from.
He'd just turned up one day and they let him in.
He was a kind old man who helped with the harvest, and he'd quickly made friends and a place in the town.
His wizened old face was grim, his pipe puffing smoke rings as he leaned his elbow upon his knee, his eyes twinkling from beneath his bushy eyebrows.
"Do all of you not know of the dragon that lives in that mountain?"
There were more protests.
Everyone was getting desperate and impatient and although no one ever raised their voice against him or disagreed with Gandalf, they did now.
Gandalf sat and waited as they're voices died again before continuing, seemingly unabashed.
Bilbo hadn't heard of a dragon in the mountain before and he was awfully curious, so he sat forward and the old man seemed to see his eager curiousity, because he smiled in that mysterious way only Gandalf could.
"That's an old legend."
Ponto mumbled, though he lowered his eyes as if he did not wish to upset Gandalf.
"No one has ever seen a dragon."
Gandalf only smiled some more as he turned his head to stare into the looming darkness.
"No one has ever seen the wind; that does not mean it is not there."
Bilbo liked Gandalf.
He was like a grandfather to him and he used to take him out of the town and show him fireworks.
He didn't see him so much now.
"If we could harvest the side of the mountain, then we would have enough food to last the whole winter."
Ponto insisted, though there was little fight left in his voice.
Gandalf had never been wrong about anything before.
Gandalf laughed, as if he had found something very amusing, and he rose to his feet, brushing off his purple-blue robes and pocketing his pipe before clapping his hands together.
Those who had not been listening most definitely were doing so now.
"If you so insist on digging into that mountain with picks and axes and disturbing the slumber of a very big and very dangerous dragon, I will not stop you."
He then turned and disappeared into the blackness.
Ponto grunted at his retreating form and stood also.
"Well, I am going. I'm not going to sit here and starve."
Bilbo leapt to his feet, struggling free from his mother's grip and standing beside Ponto.
"I will go with you!"
He declared with steely determination.
There were a few mocking laughs from the gathered people and Bilbo's cheeks flushed, but Ponto put his hand on his shoulder and he looked proud of Bilbo, who smiled back unsurely.
He then turned to the people and waved an arm, motioning at all of them.
"Is anyone else as brave as Bilbo? Or are you all cowards?"
The laughing ceased, and a few of the men hesitantly suggested that they will help, and then some more, and then more until there was a great many of them who had said they would come.
Bilbo breathed in the cool, fresh air of the mountain and then let it out in an exhausted grunt as he swung again, slashing at the thick reeds and they cascaded around his feet in a golden shower as he straightened up again.
He'd helped with the harvests before, but the corn and the wheat had never been so thick and lush, and he had to hack at the stalks with all his strength to make even the slightest impact.
Half of the men were fishing on the lake and the other half were harvesting the wheat and the corn and whatever else had managed to grow on the mountainside.
It was a very stark contrast to the side that they saw from Dale; grey, rocky and desolate.
He could easily believe he was in a completely different part of the world standing where he was.
He pulled the scythe back, ready to swing it again, but a stone rolled along and stopped by his feet.
He gave it a curious look and gazed up at the mountain.
More rocks were tumbling down the side, not enough to be called a rock-slide, which they got many of in Dale, but still a great number of them.
He blinked and gazed at them, trying to find their source.
"It's the dragon."
Laughed the man working beside him, who shook his head and chuckled as if he'd said something very funny.
"We've woken it we 'ave."
Bilbo mumbled something incoherent in reply and turned his eyes back to the corn stalks swaying around his legs.
He jumped out the outburst and looked at the man again, but he was staring up at the mountain with a face as white as the snowy slush melting around them and he dropped his scythe and fled.
Bilbo stared at him for a long time in confusion before turning his eyes back up to the mountain, and then he dropped his own scythe, his jaw dropping open and his eyes widening at the sight before him.
The mountain was exploding.
Boulders rained down around him like a grey, jagged snowstorm and it was too late for him to flee.
He could only watch in horror as red flashed through the storm and then from the mountainside came a great, triangle-shaped head, all horns and jaws and glowing eyes, and then a long thin neck and then shoulders thrust through the crumbling mountain.
For a moment, Bilbo imagined everyone frozen at the sight of the great beast, and then over the rumble of falling rocks, he heard the screaming.
"Get back Bilbo!"
He heard someone call and he managed to take a step back, but the great crimson head turned towards him and he saw a ripple in its long neck as its wicked jaws parted and a great burst of yellow fire erupted from its throat.
The stream of fire hit the corn fields and now Bilbo had the sense to run as the flames tore much too close to him.
The heat seared his clothes as he tripped over the rocks and he could feel the ones that were still falling hitting his arms and his back and his head and he stumbled.
The noise was deafening and it only grew louder as a wing burst from the side of the mountain, and then another, and then the dragon was leaping forward, landing amidst the fire and crawling on its belly like a cat stalking a mouse.
He whimpered in fear and scrambled back to his feet as the dragons scales shone like the very fire clutching at them and its head darted past him.
He fell to his knees, doubled over and then covered his head as the dragons belly came above him, its legs on either side of him as he cowered in silent terror, daring to look up and see those long jaws clamp down on his own friends and family to be swallowed whole.
The dragon continued to step forward and its tail hit Bilbo with the force of a whip as it lashed from side to side, the spines cutting into his skin as he cried out at the pain.
He froze up, but then scrambled to grab the quickly thinning tail and he clasped it, gripping it so hard his knuckles whitened as it dragged him forward, along the rocky ground and he squeezed his eyes shut as he was suddenly lifted into the air.
He was borne higher up into the sky as the beast flapped its wings and they cracked like a sudden burst of thunder, his scream stolen by the sudden rushing wind before it could escape his mouth.
The thunder sound of its wings echoed in his skull and he felt nauseous as the world tilted and disappeared, twirling from blue sky to mottled ground and then snapping back to blue sky again as he was thrown around like a pitiful rag doll.
Just as he felt like he was going to be sick, everything turned to the colour of stone as the dragon returned to the mountain and as its great body hit the ground, its tail swished violently to the left and though Bilbo tried to hold on he was ripped from the little spines and his fingers scrabbled for place upon the smooth scales, but he was sent careering along the ground, the rough stone floor ripping at his clothes.
He came to a halt and lay there, marvelling in the fact that he was still alive, but he quickly realised he would not be for much longer if the dragon noticed his presence.
He fled to a crevice in the sheer rock wall and scrambled as far back into it as he could before the crack pinched into nothing, just rock.
He collapsed and lay there, panting and shaking and sweating, deathly afraid, his vision tunnelling and he must have blacked out, because he blinked awake again.
He was still lying where he was, so the dragon had not got to him, and he sat up wearily, his exhausted limbs quaking with the effort.
He crawled to the edge of the little crack in the wall and gazed out as far as he could without actually crawling into the open.
He could see the dragon.
Its head rested less than ten feet away, lying in profile, though its body curled around it, its tail tip lying near its mouth.
Its eyes were closed, and its wings were folded upon its back like a birds and he could hear its deep, heavy breathing as it slept peacefully, well fed on its feast of his comrades.
He scrambled back again and curled into a ball, pulling his legs up and hugging his knees to his chest and then he wept.
He wept for his mother and for himself and for his aunts and uncles and for Gandalf and for everyone else who had volunteered to help and for everyone the dragon had swallowed in its frenzy.
He sat there until the sun went down and still he remained sitting there all through the night until the light returned from the gaping hole in the mountainside the next morning.
He had not slept at all in his fear and self-pity and he was now tired and exhausted and he was hungry and thirsty, so he crawled back to the mouth of the crevice to look out again.
The dragon was nowhere to be seen.
He swallowed his fear and wobbled to his feet, stepping out unsurely into the open and gazing around himself.
It was a strange, big place the dragon lived in, much bigger than any house he'd ever been in.
He imagined he could fit hundreds of houses – the whole of Dale – inside the massive expanse and there would still be plenty of room to spare.
Even the dragon would look tiny in here.
There was gold all around him, so much of it that in some places Bilbo could not even see the floor.
The walls rose up around him, sheer and desolate on three sides, the fourth side having been blown open by the dragons dramatic exist and it took him a very long time to get over to it.
He felt a sudden dizziness when he gazed over the edge.
It was a steep, vertical drop down, and there was no way he would survive if he jumped.
And if he did make it to the ground, it would be just his luck to get impaled on something.
He frowned at this and turned back to the massive cave he was in, gazing around him.
Water trickled down in a deplorable attempt at a waterfall not far from him, and he went to it and drank the water.
Though it tasted like dirt, it was better than nothing.
Then he continued to explore.
The little crevice he'd hidden in wasn't the only one, and some were bigger than others and most would probably lead to nothing.
He'd be wasting his time if he tried to escape through them.
Stalactites hung precariously from the ceiling above, creaking and groaning ominously, as if they could barely hold up the great heavy mountain pressing down on them.
He gazed up at them until he heard a familiar thunderous beating and he scuttled back into his little crevice as the dragon flew into the cave.
It had something very dead in its mouth and it landed right in front of his hiding place, holding the dead thing down with the hands at the ends of its wings.
Bilbo shuddered at the sickening crunching and grinding of bones being broken and crushed under the incredible pressure.
The dragon stopped, and Bilbo held his breath as its eyes trained on his hiding place.
It sniffed the air and then released its prey, stepping closer to the crevice and lowering its head, though its eye was too far up on is head to see him and Bilbo could only see its scaly lips as they pulled back from its teeth and a low snarl escaped its throat.
He scrambled back as far as he could.
"Why don't you come out thief?"
A low, deep voice growled with contempt.
It felt like the mountain shuddered from such a voice.
Bilbo thought it was very odd to see those reptilian lips shaping words.
"I smell you, I feel your air, I hear your breath! You cannot hide forever."
He stayed where he was, his muscles taught as he stared at the mouth.
The dragon laughed, a wicked, reverberating sound.
"You will die in there, and then there will be no point in digging out your rotting corpse."
He moved away from the crack and his claws clicked on the stones as he walked.
Bilbo dared to creep closer to the edge and gaze out.
The dragon was sitting on its haunches, facing away from Bilbo, staring out over the lush grass just visible on the horizon.
The land below the mountain was black and lifeless.
Bilbo swallowed nervously, and then emerged, stepping out into the open and standing, wobbling on his feet slightly.
He gained no response, so he started to approach the dragon, getting further and further away from safety.
He stepped on a small rock and it crumbled under his foot with a horribly loud crunch.
The dragons head snapped around on its lithe neck instantly, too fast for its massive size and then he leapt onto his – hands? Wings? – and legs and his great jaws opened as he made a dash for Bilbo
Bilbo cried out in fear and ran, sprinting for the safety of his little hidey-hole.
One of the dragons hands came down right between him and his safety and he whirled around.
He loomed above him, glistening in the sun, the fire glowing in his belly as he gazed down at Bilbo, his fangs dripping saliva.
"Nowhere to run thief."
He rumbled, lowering his head to snap Bilbo up and swallow him whole.
"I'm not a thief; I don't want to steal anything!"
He wailed, throwing his hands up in a gesture of innocence.
The dragon paused, his head tilting, and he stayed like that for what felt like a long time, his eyes searing holes into Bilbo's skull.
"Please don't eat me."
He squeaked after the long silence made him believe the dragon might be reconsidering eating him.
"Give me a reason why I should not,"
"Because I have a f-family, and friends and-and-"
This did not please the beast, for it went to eat him again but he cried for it to wait.
"Please, there must be some way I can be of use to you!"
He growled and he saw the sound ripple the dragon's throat before it turned and moved its hand.
He made an instant dash for his crevice and dived into it, crawling back as far as he could, panting and shaking.
The dragon flew away and it was gone for what felt to Bilbo like a long time.
He didn't dare move, and he waited, sitting exactly where he was until it returned, though his curiousity made him edge forward and look outside.
He didn't seem to have any more food and Bilbo wondered why he had even left until he came over to his hiding place – though he couldn't really call it that any more, since he'd been found – and he lay down there, his head very close, but far enough away that he could see Bilbo.
"Come out. I will not eat you, but if you try to escape, I most certainly will."
He didn't believe him, and his lack of compliance elicited a snarl, and he quickly crawled out into the open out of fear of the dragon's wrath.
He moved his head right next to Bilbo and dropped something small that he had hidden in his mouth.
It was all wet and slimy and it was still flopping meekly.
Bilbo stared at it, not really sure what he was supposed to do.
"Aren't you hungry?"
The dragon asked, pushing the tiny morsel closer to Bilbo with his nose.
He was suspicious of this dragon's motives, but he nodded anyway.
The fish stopped flopping.
"Then eat it,"
"I can't eat raw fish,"
He seemed genuinely confused, and also slightly agitated.
He probably didn't like Bilbo using up his time and effort.
"Because it's raw."
He growled at Bilbo, who picked up the fish and hesitated with it close to his mouth.
The dragon's pupil shrank slightly as he stared intently at him with patience.
He really wanted him to eat raw fish.
He shuddered and then bit into the scaly flesh and the squishy, bloody raw meat beneath.
He gagged, and then covered his mouth to try and stop himself from vomiting.
It took him a second, but he managed to swallow it.
This pleased the dragon, for it made a rumble, almost a purring noise, like a satisfied cat.
Until Bilbo put the fish down.
"Why aren't you eating it?"
He asked angrily, turning his head so his nose was right in Bilbo's face and he bared his teeth at him.
Bilbo had the urge to push him away, but didn't in case he accidently impaled himself on his teeth or something.
"Because it's raw, and I can't eat raw fish."
The dragon suddenly grabbed Bilbo's jacket between his teeth and lifted him into the air.
"Ok, Ok, I'll eat it, I'll eat it!"
He cried, clutching at the air, at the smooth scales, terrified, and then he was put down again, roughly, hitting the ground hard enough to knock the air from his lungs.
He gasped for a few seconds before he grabbed the fish again, closing his eyes and biting it.
It took him a very long time to eat as much as he could and when he'd finished the dragon went to grab him in his jaws and he fled back to his little crevice-home.
He slept there, and when he awoke he vaguely realised he'd started referring to the dragon as a 'he' now that he'd heard its voice.
It sounded very much like a he.
The dragon had curled up into a ball right in front of his home, and his eye opened as soon as Bilbo moved.
They stared at each other silently for a while before Bilbo asked;
"Do you have a name?"
The dragon replied, its head resting on its far-paws – hands? Wings? He still had no idea what to call them – its tail flicking back and forth.
He, Smaug, blinked very slowly and Bilbo vaguely observed that he had two eyelids.
"Do you have a name?"
He echoed, directing Bilbo's question back at him and Bilbo nodded.
"Yes, yes, I'm-I'm Bilbo."
Smaug hauled himself up onto his feet and then flew away wordlessly.
Bilbo took this time to explore some more and he went around the cave, finding other cracks and seeing if they led anywhere, if he could escape through them, but alas, every one ended in nothing.
The dragon returned quickly and he went straight to Bilbo, who cowered before him as he dropped another fish at his feet.
And then he lay down and watched Bilbo.
It was raw again, but Bilbo did not complain this time as he stomached it.
Smaug seemed very happy about this.
"I will not eat you," he said, "if you tell me a story."
Bilbo gazed up at him, confused.
"Yes. If you will tell me a story, I will not eat you."
Bilbo had never told anyone a story before.
He knew lots of stories that all the old folk always told back in Dale, but none would surely satisfy a dragon.
So he would have to make one up.
"Er, once-once there a Prince, and he was a great Prince and he was very handsome and everyone loved the Prince as soon as they set eyes on him."
The dragon blinked and gained a patient, waiting essence.
Bilbo spent quite a while describing the Prince and the kingdom in which he lived, and how lush and full of life everything was and how nothing bad ever happened to this kingdom.
Bilbo wracked his brain, trying to come up with something right on the spot.
Smaug would eat him if he didn't tell him a story.
"He was a very selfish Prince! Yes, he only cared about himself. He didn't care about what others thought of him, he was a Prince, and he was going to be King and that's how he thought of it and that's all he cared about,"
The dragon growled, and Bilbo hoped that meant Smaug liked the story already.
If he did then hopefully that meant he wasn't going to die today.
"Well, yes. Anyway, this Prince could choose anyone he wanted to be his bride, anyone at all, in the whole kingdom. And he chose a very wealthy young maiden from a neighbouring land. Not because he loved her, but because she was very pretty and very wealthy. That was all that mattered to him."
Now the dragon growled and Bilbo reminded himself that it wasn't because he was angry with him, he was just enthusiastic about the story.
"His father, the King, didn't like the way his son was acting, and he did not want his kingdom to be ruled by such a narcissistic and careless person, so he found a great wizard and turned his son into a mighty dragon."
He made motions with his arms to accentuate his point, though Smaug did not move.
It didn't even look like he was breathing.
"As soon as his son took step in the kingdom, everyone cowered in fear and the guards and the soldiers attacked him, thinking he was there to kill everyone and eat everyone. They did not know he was the Prince,"
Smaug replied before he made to grab Bilbo in his mouth again, but again Bilbo fled.
He didn't know why Smaug wanted to grab him, though he said he wasn't going to eat him, so maybe he just wanted to kill him.
He was a dragon after all, and he'd just eaten at least half of his town.
He stayed in his crevice until Smaug stopped standing by the opening and went and flew away out of the mountain.
As soon as he was gone Bilbo explored again, searching more and more cracks and little caves, searching desperately for a way out, but, alas, once again he was unsuccessful.
He explored all day and Smaug did not return.
He disliked his absence as much as he disliked his presence.
He didn't know where he was going or what he was doing.
He had fallen asleep and it wasn't until the next afternoon that Smaug finally returned to the mountain.
Bilbo was still very hungry all the time.
He couldn't survive on just one uncooked fish a day, and today was the day he'd gotten the courage up to ask Smaug if he would bring him more food.
He ate the raw fish that Smaug had brought him as he watched him pace.
He had a net wrapped around some of the spines on his back and arrows stuck out of his scales.
He wondered whether he had destroyed another town the day before or in the morning and it took him a long time to return.
He asked, and the dragon whirled around to face him instantly, his eyes narrowing and his lips pulling back from his teeth.
He was agitated.
He hesitated, and then took a deep breath.
"I-I was wondering whether you could- whether I could have more food?"
Smaug snarled, snapping at Bilbo and then turning away again.
"Because I can't survive on just one fish,"
"You are too much trouble already!"
Smaug roared, and then he leapt for Bilbo, who scrambled back and his teeth clicked together as he bit nothing but air.
He sprinted back to his crevice and hid there again.
It was becoming too much of a home to him.
A place of safety, where the dragon couldn't get his wicked claws and teeth around him.
He emerged again once Smaug had lay down near him and was watching him with calm patience.
He sat by his head, fidgeting nervously, and Smaug snarled again when he got too close, going to grab him, but he didn't move back.
"If-if you eat me you won't hear the end of the story!"
He squeezed his eyes shut, cringing, but there was no pain.
He opened his eyes again.
Smaug was gazing at him, eyes narrowed.
He finally said, laying his head down again and continuing to watch him.
"Tell me the story."
Bilbo had to try and remember where the story had ended and whether he had even had any ideas for it.
"Um, so, the Prince ran away after the kingdom turned on him. His appearance had been so important to him, and it was how he got everyone to love him, and now everyone hated and feared him as soon as they laid eyes on his reptilian form."
He sat with his legs crossed, not exactly relaxed, but not so frightened that Smaug was about to eat him.
He felt mesmerized by Smaug's eye, so very close.
It was unlike any colour he'd ever seen.
No, more like toffee.
Caramel that had been made molten by isolation and rage and then hardened by time.
Damn it he was making himself hungry.
"So the King had the Prince captured and taken far, far away, and he locked him up in a mountain that stood all on its lonesome and there he stayed, by himself, pitying and loathing himself for the way he had acted,"
Smaug said again, like he had the last time Bilbo had told him the story and Bilbo stood, taking it as an indication that Smaug had had enough of the story and that he wanted to be rid of Bilbo now, but when he went to go back to his crevice a great clawed foot came down and blocked him.
He turned around, shocked, wondering whether he had done something wrong, when the paw hit him and he was sent careering backwards, stumbling and flailing, as he was hit by the other paw and then he went tumbling forwards.
What was going on? Was he playing with him?
There was a wicked laugh as he whirled around again and again, the world twirling around him, a red and grey blur until Smaug finally stopped and he dropped onto his knees, terribly dizzy and nauseous.
"Please, please stop."
He begged when the claws came at him again and he winced, but Smaug didn't hit him, instead he pushed him gently, gaining more and more force until he fell sideways and he hit the ground, rolling onto his back and gazing up at Smaug.
Everything was slightly blurry and was still spinning and he blinked rapidly, trying to get rid of the extra two Smaug's.
He curled in on himself slightly when Smaug lowered his great head, but he did not eat Bilbo, as he had suspected.
Instead, he watched as Smaug's tongue unfurled and he started to lick him all over.
He made a face at the unpleasant feeling.
His tongue was much longer than Bilbo was tall, so at times he was licking him all at once and Bilbo lay there, stiff and rigid, his hands clenched into fists.
"W-what are you doing?"
He asked as Smaug laid his clawed hands on either side of him, trapping him with his paws.
Every time he tried to move his arms or legs to protect himself from Smaug's invasive tongue, it pushed his limbs back again and now he was very wet and all covered in dragon saliva.
Smaug seemed to be enjoying himself though and he chuckled as he assaulted Bilbo with his tongue.
"Don't worry, it's just me. The Prince."
He replied as his tongue kept raking over Bilbo, who tried not to whimper as his soggy clothes started to bunch up and he squirmed, but Smaug continued to hold him still with an impatient swat of his claws, tapping Bilbo in a warning.
Those claws could do a lot of damage.
He wrapped his tongue around Bilbo's left leg and then ran it up his thigh and Bilbo gasped as he got much too lose to a certain area he really didn't want Smaug going, but thankfully he stopped and released Bilbo, who went and hid in his crevice, sopping wet and shivering from the cold.
He had nightmares all through the night, and was very glad when Smaug left in the morning and he searched with more fervour, desperate to find a way out, but he was unsurprisingly unsuccessful.
After at least an hour of searching, he gave up and sat down where Smaug always returned to, thinking up ways of continuing his story.
He looked up when he heard the thunderous sound of Smaug's wings and the crimson dragon landed right near him, walking over and lying down, dropping three fish in front of Bilbo, who stared in disbelief.
And then Smaug opened his jaws and he saw his throat ripple and Bilbo went to move away, but a thin stream of fire burst onto the fish.
Smaug then lay his head down and watched him intently as he took the cooked fish and bit into it, greedily chomping on the roasted, flaky meat.
He ate the three fish and then wiped his hands on his trousers.
"Why did you do that?"
It had been a very big change and Bilbo wondered whether Smaug was going to give him more fish every day.
Smaug didn't give him an explanation, instead he just looked at him and rumbled.
"Tell me the story."
Bilbo had chosen how the story was going to continue and how it was going to end, but he feared what would happen when it finished; whether Smaug would eat him or let him go.
Oh how he wished to be freed.
"The dragon Prince was alone for a very long time."
He started, watching as Smaug moved his head closer and tilted it to face him, his eyes wide and patient.
"But, after many years, he was awoken from his slumber by a peasant boy who had run away to the mountain after he had stolen some apples from the market. The Prince had not seen anyone in a long time and he didn't really want to see anyone now, but the boy travelled deeper and deeper into the mountain until he found the dragon."
He leaned forward enthusiastically and Smaug narrowed his eyes, but he did not try and make him move back.
"And the boy didn't scream. He didn't run, he didn't tremble in fear at the sight of the Prince."
Smaug grumbled and shifted, his head resting between his paws – he'd decided to call them paws.
"Instead he offered him the apples. And so once a day, the boy would steal apples from the grocer and take them to the dragon, and the boy and the Prince became very close friends."
Smaug made a grunting noise and then nodded, getting to his feet.
Bilbo was shocked, since he'd only told him a few sentences of the story.
He moved away across the cave and Bilbo watched him and then he gasped and leapt to his feet when Smaug clawed at the cave wall until it crumbled and rocks filled up his little crevice-home and now he had nowhere to flee to when he needed to be away from Smaug.
The dragon turned to face him again, a wicked glint in his eyes and then he lunged for Bilbo, who covered his head with his arms as he cringed and quaked in fear.
Smaug grabbed him between his teeth and he made a shocked noise as he was thrown into the air.
As he fell, Smaug caught him and then threw him up again, and he kept doing this over and over and Bilbo screamed as he fell for the ninth time and after that Smaug did not throw him up again and he found himself resting on Smaug's nose, who had his head tilted vertical and Bilbo sprawled on the very tip of his jaws.
If he opened his mouth Bilbo would drop straight down into his throat.
"P-please put me down."
He was still very frightened of Smaug and still very sure he wanted to eat him.
The dragon made a rumbling noise, but lay down and gently lowered Bilbo to the ground, who curled into a ball on the rough stone floor and shook with fear and exhaustion.
Smaug couldn't just keep throwing him around like a toy to be played with, it was doing bad things to him – it made him feel terribly nauseous and tired.
He waited like that, curled up and shaking, until Smaug left and he searched again, scratching at the walls in his desperation, trying to find something, anything that could get him out of here.
He fell into the waterfall after he'd given up again and had gone over to drink from it, but he didn't hit the wall behind it, instead he just went straight through it and fell onto the ground.
He lay there for a few seconds, dumbfounded, before standing and realising there was a tunnel hidden behind the little waterfall.
He ran up the steadily climbing slope, tripping many times and he could see blood on his hands, but he wasn't sure where it was coming from, whether his hands were bleeding or something else.
Either way he didn't care.
He kept running even after his legs grew tired and his chest ached and then he saw light and he was suddenly out on the mountainside.
He stood there and threw his arms wide, feeling the wind buffeting him and the sunlight on his face and he could smell the scent of grass after rain and he hadn't even known that it had been raining and then he ran down the mountain, even though he felt like he couldn't run any more- though gravity helped – he kept running because soon Smaug would return and he would see that Bilbo was gone.
There was a roar from the mountain and he ran faster, though he wanted to collapse and just lie in the grass forever because grass and he had never known he appreciated grass so much, the feeling of it between his toes.
He wasn't sure when he'd lost his shoes.
He could see Dale in the distance and his pace slowed because he couldn't run anymore and he tried to walk, but he fell and then he crawled because he could see his home and he couldn't give up now.
There was smoke blooming from over the houses and he kept his eyes trained on it as the grass turned to dirt and then turned to a gravel road.
"Mother! Ponto! Gandalf!"
He called, pushing himself back to his feet and stumbling into the town, but he quickly knew that something was very wrong.
The houses had been destroyed.
They were all falling apart, and he at first thought of Smaug, who could have easily come down and devastated the town while he was away, but there was no sign of fire, nothing had been burnt.
The houses had been destroyed by axe and spear.
He must have returned and destroyed the town.
He clutched at the fallen wood and bricks and straw and he started to dig through the rubble.
He didn't know what he was searching for, but still he searched, desperately.
Tears welled up in his eyes and spilled down his cheeks as he threw the wood and the bricks around him and then he fell to his knees and sobbed.
He had lost his home and his friends and his family.
They had all died in fear and in pain while he had been complaining about being given somewhere to live and food to eat.
"This is all your fault! I hate you!"
He called to the sky, loathing Thorin and loathing Smaug.
He hated Thorin for taking almost everything from them and then destroying what little they'd had left and he hated Smaug for taking him away and being wicked to him and for starving him and for playing cruel games with him like he was a toy.
He turned, still on his knees, and through the haze of tears he saw a person and he recognised his mother's voice.
He wobbled and fell when he tried to stand again and then his mother pulled him up and hugged him tight, burying her face in his shoulder and squeezing him as she wept into his ragged clothes.
"Oh Bilbo, you're alive!"
He hugged her back tightly, and then she led him out of the ruin of Dale and to a small shanty town nearby, where there were some of the members of Dale, though there weren't many of them, and they were all gathered around a decrepit bonfire.
The bonfire must have been the smoke he'd seen.
Some rejoiced when they saw him, others looked at him and smiled, and some didn't even acknowledge him at all.
They looked tired and worn, and Bilbo imagined he looked very much like them, except their clothes were in a better way than his.
He was so glad to be back with all the people he knew and he sat with them and told stories about how Smaug had kidnapped him and taken him back to the mountain and everyone listened as he spoke about how he had been thrown him around and how he fed him only on raw fish except for that one instance.
As soon as he said this they all gave him fruit and vegetables and beef and chicken and they gave him everything but fish and he ate until he could eat no more.
He was so glad to sleep in a bed again that he slept late until the next morning, and all through the afternoon he thought about Smaug.
He thought about how Smaug had been wrong.
He wasn't the Prince, he was the little peasant boy who risked his life every day to bring him food, and Bilbo was the selfish Prince who never thought once about how dangerous it was for Smaug to keep going and getting him things to eat.
He felt very bad after realising this and he sat and thought about new story ideas, but then he realised he had no one to tell them to, and he felt a bit upset about this, though he didn't say a word about it to the others.
The Prince didn't dare go home. He had seen it in the distance, and it had looked terrible, and he wanted very little to disturb the people further. So he found a little town who let them stay with him, and although he missed home, he missed the peasant more. He had told many stories to him about royal life, and though he believed they had grown a sort of friendship, he had left him at the first chance he could.
He had been sitting cross-legged on a boulder just outside of their makeshift home, just sitting there, and he was waiting, but he had nothing to wait for.
He was feeling frustrated by his lack of anything to do.
He had gotten so used to expecting Smaug's return, that it was an odd experience knowing he wouldn't see him.
He turned to see Ponto approaching.
He sat beside him on the rock and they both watched the horizon.
From their vantage point, they could see what was left of Dale and the blackened ruins of the mountainside.
Bilbo saw it as a reminder of Smaug's wrath and cruelty.
"I want to apologise to you Bilbo. If not for me, then that beast would never have attacked,"
"It wasn't your fault Ponto; we all thought it was just a story."
They sat in silence for another few seconds before Ponto turned to face Bilbo, his face stern.
"The dragon will come for you Bilbo,"
"His name is Smaug."
He'd already told everyone that his name was Smaug, he'd prefer it if they called him by his name.
"Right, yes. He will find you Bilbo, and I do not believe he will show you mercy this time."
He chewed on his lip and looked at the mountain.
Ponto patted his shoulder and then got off the rock again.
"We have no harvest now, we make it by stealing from travellers. It isn't the best way to get by, but we have no choice now. I hope you do not think less of us,"
"No, no of course not."
Ponto smiled, and then ruffled Bilbo's hair.
"You're a good boy Bilbo."
He said before leaving.
Bilbo watched his retreating form dejectedly.
Ponto's words hung heavy in his mind and he dreaded Smaug's malice when he would most definitely find him.
There was no way he could hide from him; he had tried that while in the mountain and he had not succeeded.
He didn't want to admit it, but as the days past and as there was no sign of Smaug, he started to get fidgety and nervous.
He couldn't sit still, he couldn't concentrate when people were talking to him, he stared at the mountain, his sleeping pattern became very erratic, and he lost his appetite.
He'd slip out at night to watch the stars and he imagined the King's horse and shuddered at the memory.
A week passed and there was still no sign of Smaug, but the King returned on the eighth day and he paraded through their makeshift town and Bilbo's mother tried to hide him again, but he refused.
This man had destroyed everything he'd ever known, and he wasn't just going to do whatever he demanded.
He had no right to look so proud of himself.
He stopped his horse when Bilbo refused to move and he smirked and Bilbo was so reminded of Smaug's reptilian grin that he bit his lip to stop himself from saying something stupid.
When he still didn't move, Thorin leapt off his horse and he winced at the thud as his boots hit the ground, but he still stood strong.
He had faced a dragon! The petty anger of a man was nothing.
"Why do you not move?"
The King asked, motioning at Bilbo to take a step to the right.
He crossed his arms.
"Because there is nothing left for you to take from us; you already have everything,"
"You think a child scares me?"
"I'm not a child!"
There was a sudden, hot pain in his cheek and he reeled at the sting.
Had he just hit him?
"You are whatever I say you are."
The King snapped.
"You don't know anything about what you are getting yourself into, and it would wiser of me to just get rid of you."
He drew his sword and Bilbo threw his arms up, but he didn't hurt him.
"Punish this runt for being a nuisance and for defying the King."
He grabbed Bilbo's arm and threw him aside.
He tumbled into the arms of one of the King's men, and he struggled in the thick arms until he suddenly gasped as he felt cool, sharp metal against his neck.
He stopped struggling.
"Get him out of my sight!"
The King demanded, turning to face the little town as Bilbo was dragged back and then he found himself being thrown into a ditch.
Or, more of a trench dug at least six feet into the ground.
He hit the mud and coughed, but before he could move there was a loud clinking and he found a shackle around his wrist.
It led into the ground and he pulled with all his might, but all his might wasn't enough and it didn't budge.
He couldn't see what was going on above the trench, though he could hear screaming, and there was no one anywhere near him.
He shouldn't have been so stupid.
He can't face a King!
He sat there, pitying himself, until he started to imagine that the King was the one from his story and that Bilbo was the Prince who was locked away because of his disgraceful behaviour.
Smaug was the peasant boy who had risked himself for the Prince.
Now the story would come true if only Smaug would come and save him.
He sighed, for that was not going to happen.
The King came to the town after hearing word that the Prince was there, and he came upon him with swords and authority and even as the Prince struggled and refused to give, he was locked in a dungeon all on his own.
He wondered why there was a trench outside of the town, why the King and his men had returned and what he wanted with the rest of them; the ones who had survived Smaug's attack.
He waited, wondering, dreading, hoping, all into night and into the morning.
It had rained during the night and no one had come and he had pulled his jacket off and covered himself with it, but he was still soaked through and freezing cold, his limbs stiff and numb.
He did not move until the sun was high in the sky, directly above the trench, and his clothes had mostly dried.
He sat up, his body aching and his head pounding.
Still, no one came, and he waited, cold and alone and still very confused until archers arrived in the evening.
They filled the trench and surrounded Bilbo, though none of them acknowledged him until the King arrived, and it was the King who spoke to him.
He crouched in front of Bilbo, who pleaded with his eyes.
"I know the dragon will come, and you will watch this town burn and that beast will fall with it."
Bilbo tried to pull the chain again, tried to move away.
"Why are you doing this to me?"
He asked as he lowered his eyes.
He had never even seen the King before, why would he do this?
Why would he want to hurt him?
"Oh I'm not doing this to you. I'm doing this to kill the dragon."
He stood again.
"And you will lead it to us,"
Bilbo cried as the King smiled and walked off, leaving him alone again.
They were going to use him as bait!
They were going to kill Smaug and it would all be because of him.
But Smaug hadn't done anything to the King or the town since he'd escaped!
"Please, please come back! Please don't do this!"
No one listened, and he was left by himself again, chained to the ground, until evening, where the King returned and took the shackle off him.
He dared not attempt to flee though, and in seconds there was a rope tied around his wrists, binding them together.
Thorin held the other end of the rope and he yanked on it, forcing Bilbo to stumble after him as they travelled out of the trench and back into the open.
The little shanty town was occupied only by the King's men, and they were all positioned with bows and arrows, ready to fire.
Thorin took Bilbo right up to the mountainside and threw him onto the ground and he fell at the King's feet.
He was developing the story in his head as events planned out.
It was too bad he wouldn't be able to tell it to Smaug.
And the Prince escaped the dungeon after days of isolation, but when he returned he saw the kingdom in ruins. The King had found out about the peasant boy and about what he was doing for his son, and it had become an obsession. He had let his kingdom fall apart. So when the Prince returned, and he saw that he had escaped again, he bound him and took him into the town centre. The Prince pleaded with his father, but he had disgraced him a long time ago, and the King had had enough of the thieving peasant and had a plan to arrest him and have him hanged.
He made a waving motion and Bilbo watched as burning arrows cascaded against the mountainside.
"I know you are in there, filthy beast!"
More arrows fell against the rocky cliffs and there was a rumble that shook the ground.
"Come and get what is yours!"
Bilbo gazed up at the mountains tip as great red wings appeared above it, scattering the very clouds themselves and then the great, horned head appeared and Smaug opened his terrible jaws and roared.
"Smaug! Smaug no! Go back!"
Bilbo screamed, but his tiny voice was drowned out by a sudden uproar from the King's men.
"It's a trap! It's a trap Smaug!"
He continued, even though he knew there was no point.
Smaug had good hearing, but there was no way he'd hear him over the din of war cries.
The King called out to the peasant, and when he revealed himself the whole kingdom turned against him. The Prince screamed and begged for the peasant boy to run away, but he could not hear him over the sounds of the King's soldiers.
Smaug flew over Bilbo and Thorin, heading for the makeshift town, and the archers let loose their bows and it looked like a terrible, black rain as it flew through the sky.
Smaug did not so much as flinch as the puny weapons ricocheted off his scales.
Flame gushed from his mouth and the great fireball fell upon the trench and Smaug came upon them, taking the archers in his jaws and swallowing them.
Smaug's teeth and claws were fearful weapons and the men seemed to realise they were trying to fight a losing battle.
The men who didn't flee were devoured, and then he then turned to the King, his eyes blazing like the very fire that came from his throat.
All of the King's men charged against the peasant, but he wore armour made from the Prince's scales and weapons formed from his teeth and claws. He was a force unmatchable and when he had slain all of the King's men he turned on the King, blinded by fury. He showed no fear and the Prince watched in awe.
Smaug flew so very low that Bilbo could probably touch him if he reached up and he grabbed the King as he landed on the ground, throwing the King into the air and then catching him between his teeth, and then throwing him up again, in the same way he'd done to Bilbo.
He kicked the King down, and every time he tried to stand, he kicked him down again. He was showing everyone in the kingdom that the King was powerless against him.
Smaug finally threw him into the air and opened his mouth, but as the King fell he drew his blade.
He was going to slice Smaug's throat from the inside!
Bilbo screamed, and although his voice was hoarse and of no use now, Smaug still heard him and his head turned quickly on his lithe neck and the King continued to fall.
His eyes narrowed and he roared, and Bilbo could feel the hot air wash over him.
He grabbed the King again, who had almost hit the ground, and the sudden stop jerked the sword from his hands and it tumbled to the ground uselessly.
And then Smaug swallowed the King too and Bilbo watched as he paused like that, head still lifted.
The King drew his sword while the peasant raised his, leaving him very vulnerable to an attack. The Prince called a warning to him and he brought his sword down upon the King's hand, and he dropped his only weapon, and the peasant did not hesitated as he chopped off the tyrant King's head.
Bilbo pushed himself up onto his knees, gazing up at the dragon, glowing almost golden as the sun started to dip below the mountaintop, throwing colours into the sky and harsh light against Smaug's hide.
He could barely make a sound now from all the screaming he'd done.
Smaug turned to face him again, and then he came up to Bilbo and lowered his head, blood dripping from his teeth.
"I warned you, you little worm! I told you if you tried to escape me I'd eat you!"
"I-I know and I'm very, very sorry-"
"And still you searched when I was gone. You think I could not smell you on the walls? In the cracks and crevices? I knew you were trying to get away, but I underestimated you and now you will pay for your foolishness!"
He went to grab Bilbo in his jaws, and he scrambled backwards, falling onto his back as he tripped on the rope.
"If you eat me you won't hear the end of the story!"
He cried desperately.
Smaug stopped, his teeth inches from Bilbo's face, and he remained exactly where he was for a long time, until he finally moved away and he gazed down at Bilbo silently.
"You won't hear the end of the story if you eat me."
Bilbo said again, determinedly.
Smaug snarled at him and he winced.
And then he leaned down again and gently took Bilbo's jacket in his teeth and he lifted him into the air as his great wings flapped thunderously.
He took Bilbo back to the mountain and he sat him on the ground.
Bilbo pulled at the rope until the knot loosened and he dropped the ropes.
He rubbed at the raw skin on his wrists as he waited.
He had completely rethought the whole story.
He was originally going to have it end in a 'happily ever after' kind of way, but he knew now that stories never really had a happy ending.
Something else was always going to come along.
It did not take long for Smaug to return.
He once again had many arrows stuck in his scales – some buried deep into his hide – and he trailed drops of blood onto the ground as he walked.
He dropped three fish at Bilbo's feet, cooked them with a stream of fire and then curled up around Bilbo with a satisfied rumble, his toffee eye wide as he blinked.
"Tell me the story."
Please do tell me what you think if you manage to get to the end :)