This series continues where the series, "How To Make A Hobbit Do Things In Five Minutes Or Less" ended. Again, each story in the series is sequential in nature and correlates with "The Desolation of Smaug" and it's timeline. However, each story is a stand-alone and is meant to be enjoyed in and of itself.
Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are copyrighted by Warner Brothers and the J.R.R. Tolkien estate. No infringement of these copyrights intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. I write this fan fiction only for love of the The Hobbit and not for profit.
Balin woke first, the hints of animal and stable mingled with the smell of bacon and white pepper gravy. He rose from his bedroll, smoothing his clothes and saw Thorin spooning Bella beneath her blanket, his arm wrapped protectively around her. It warmed his heart to see his friend to have finally found love after so long without it, but he worried that the Prince might forget the objective of their quest to the Lonely Mountain. Bombur was oblivious to all but the food he cooked in Beorn's kitchen and the others remained sound asleep.
Balin peered out the window, seeing the fires of their enemy on the horizon only half a league away. He knew Azog waited for any show of weakness to pounce upon the party. For now, they were safe, but the Company still had to contend with Beorn once they finally met him. Gandalf said that the bear was unpredictable, but the man could be reasoned with and Balin prayed to Mahal that the latter was truth.
He heard rustling behind him and saw that Thorin was the first of the party to rise. It was his way to be the first on his feet before the rest of the party. It was unusual to see the Prince with a smile on his face rather than the dour expression that he recently wore. He looked down at Bella who whimpered softly in her sleep as Thorin drew away from her.
"Good morning, Thorin, and how did you sleep?"
"Well," he glanced own at Bella who snuggled deeper into the bedroll where Thorin had lain. He pulled it up to her chin, tucking it in around her and a smile came to her. "You?"
"Also well," Balin cast a glance in Bella's direction, then back to Thorin. "So, it's true, then?"
"What?" Thorin asked, not understanding Balin's question.
"She is your One?" Balin asked. "Your Heart?"
"Beyond a doubt, old friend. I would be her husband if she will have me," Thorin brushed away several errant curls from her eyes before placing a sweet, lingering kiss to her brow as she slept. "I want no other than her at my side."
"You wish this Hobbit for your wife?" Balin asked in amazement, his white brows flaring in surprise at the younger Dwarrow's words. "Does she know of your intentions?"
"Aye, Balin. I have nothing to offer her except my mind, body and heart," Thorin met his elder's gentle scrutiny. "Bella is as much a part of me as Erebor or the Arkenstone. Without her, I am without direction."
"What did this one Hobbit Lass do to fill your heart with so much love?" Balin asked quietly.
"She is the Heart of the Mountain, Balin, and gives me a reason to believe that I can have a family. She gave me and our company a sense of belonging we've never before known. Then she asked for my heart with her loyalty and kindness to us all and that flayed me with that sharp tongue of hers."
"That'll do it, I imagine," Balin chuckled as he tucked some Old Toby into his pipe that Bella had given him as a gift. "Beware the poor soul foolish enough to vex that one."
"Agreed," Thorin planted a lingering kiss upon the Hobbit that, in sleep, snuggled into him for protection and warmth. "I will wear those battle scars with honor."
Balin pointed at Bella with the mouthpiece of his pipe. "She can be a shrew, that one."
A deep chuckle escaped Thorin. "True. Yet, she has shown her devotion to a people not her own and marked my heart with her loyalty. . .and her bad temper."
"No amount of ale will help you, lad, if you cross her unwisely," Balin warned him while he gave a wink.
"But, Hobbits love seven meals a day," Thorin countered. "A way to a Hobbit's heart is through her stomach."
"That is an astute observation," Balin digressed before taking another long puff on his pipe.
"Mahal has blessed me," Thorin stared down at her, his lips tugging into a smile as she snored, oblivious to their conversation. "He has a plan, but only he knows it. I thank him for Gandalf thinking we needed a burglar."
"The sun will rise soon, Thorin." Balin motioned to the east window of Bella's chamber. "The others will be waking soon and we can continue this conversation without their opinions. We will speak of this later this evening."
"Agreed, Balin." Thorin's heart trembled deep within his chest as he stared at the small and feisty Hobbit sleeping trustingly by his side. A butterfly kiss caressed her lips and lingered there. Thorin repositioned his body carefully until he and Bella both lay on his bed roll and turned into him, her small hand landing only a thread away from a part of him demanding attention, but not able to be attended to for timing's sake.
Thorin and company indulged in the first hot meal they had eaten in days. Within Beorn's house, it was easy to forget for a moment the Orcs outside its walls waiting to cut them down before they reached Mirkwood. With Bella, he nearly forgot the pain of being so far from his sister. . .nearly. Life held no guarantees that the enemy lurking at Beorn's gates would rend them asunder the moment they set foot outside Beorn's protection.
"This world is much different than when we left Erid Luen," Thorin marveled at the renewed purpose, dare he say hope, after Bella's Sakhzigir, her reading done by Oin. "After that dream in her smial that night, I knew that we would reclaim Erebor and she is the one to be at my side as Moria's queen."
"Thorin, Moria lies in ruin beneath the feet of a fire-breathing dragon, " Balin's grave reply pressed heavily upon Thorin. "By Mahal's will, don't let your visions of love cloud your sight to the talk at hand or its the peril facing us."
"I know," Thorin answered his old friend in a low voice, Khuzdul being his language of choice.
After washing their dishes in the kitchen basin and placing them carefully in the cupboard, Balin motioned for the prince to join him. "You're not one to have stars in your eyes, Thorin. You have to remember to keep your wits about you and not walk about like some lovesick fool."
"Dwalin thinks so, but Dis was married by the time he found her," Balin glanced in the stout Dwarrow's direction. "Until she sees him for more than your lieutenant, he's going to be a bitter one. Walk with me, Thorin."
While the others tended to the chores around the chalet as thanks to Beorn for his hospitality, Balin and Thorin walked behind the house, discussing matters such as travel and the Company's finances. Finally, they came upon a flower garden filled with various blooms and blossoms of which some neither had ever seen. The giant bees swarmed over the several of the flowers gathering nectar, their buzzing sounding like the purrs of several happy kittens after drinking the sweetest milk.
Thorin made a silent promise to bring Bella to the garden later in the day because he knew that she would find the place a small piece of paradise so far from her beloved Shire. He knew that the soft green grass growing would feel like silk to her travel-weary feet. A babbling brook flowed through the garden, bubbling in a small dam at the other end. Several apple trees provided fruit and shade to the two Dwarrows who spoke of important Company matters.
"Thorin, forgive my intrusion. I mean no disrespect. I can not help but ask about your rapport between you and Bella. When did it happen?" Balin threw a small stone into the stream near their feet, watching the pebble skip sink into the waters.
"It began with a dream," Thorin replied. "And a much needed bath after our encounter with the trolls."
"Finding your One, Thorin, is a rare and glorious thing," Balin conceded, but shook his head. "Have you thought this through, lad? A Hobbit's life is a short one compared to that of a Dwarf; you are 165 while she is merely 50. In 60 years, she will be in the winter of her life while you will have many seasons ahead of you. Will you be able to watch Bella breath her last while you are left alone until Mahal calls you to the halls of our fathers?"
"I have considered it," Thorin nodded. "He is the great craftsman who gave us life and the ability to love. Who am I to complain when I am fortunate enough to have found my One when others will never know how that feels? I called upon him to lead me to her and I have found her. I can not ask for more than that."
"And have you considered how the other seven families will take to you having an outsider on Moria's throne?" Balin asked, taking another puff of his pipe. "There are some who won't follow you."
"The prophesy Oin gave said that my One would be instrumental in our Company reclaiming Erebor and that I would find the heart of the mountain. Beyond that I do not know, Balin. I dreamt of the day when the Dwarves of Erebor would reclaim their homeland. There is no choice Balin. Not for me. Bella is my One. I will not risk this quest for the life of one burglar, but Bella is also the one that aids in our triumph." Thorin swatted at one of the large bees that had taken an interest in one of his braids. "I leave in Mahal's hands."
"Have you considered the more obvious ent in the room, my friend?" Balin coughed, his eyes looking over at the humming birds and bees collecting nectar from several bright flowers to their left. "Bella is not like a Dwarrowdam. She is petite and far from stout. If you and she were to, what I mean to say is, if you and she. . .consummate your bond, can she bear you an heir to the throne?"
Thorin's eyes twinkled. "By the fact, that Bella is my One, it is possible. Mahal gave Dwarrows stubbornness in more measure than the Children of Aulë. Surely, that must count for something. If a Dwarf's heart decides upon loving and marrying someone - regardless of their race - and if it was in their power to do so, we out of all the races are the ones to do it."
"Hmm," Balin chuckled. "You have given this some thought."
"Much," Thorin let forth a heavy side. "More than once, Kili and Fili have caught me deep in thought and said I looked constipated."
For the next few minutes, the two Dwarrows said nothing as they puffed their pipes and enjoyed the rare moments of peace, a hard-found commodity as of recent days with a horde of Orcs fast on their trail. Balin tapped his pipe so that the remaining tobacco came out of it before he returned it to his tunic pocket. "Lad, I mean not to pry, but have you thought of whether you will be well-suited to even know one another? If you lose yourself, your strength could cause injury and the difference in your statures may, how shall I say, make things challenging?"
Thorin gulped on his pipe smoke, choked and hacked for a good minute before he regained his composure to answer. "We have not yet spoken of it and I am sure that we have much to learn about each other."
"Hmm," The other Dwarf stroked his beard in contemplation. "Not what I thought you might say. Have you and Bella, er, what I mean to say is," Balin chose his words carefully. "Bedding her while on this quest isn't a wise thing to do, Thorin."
"Agreed," Thorin nodded once. "I haven't bedded her, Balin, but not because I think it will endanger the quest. I want us properly wed before I lie with Bella. Anything less is without honor." Thorin's gruff response was accompanied by twin spots of pink upon his cheeks. "It is also because she is small compared to me. I fear I'll break her in half."
"Once you bed her, the bond you will share with Bella will consume almost every thought like the gold sickness that claimed your Grandfather. Gloin is finding it hard to be away from his wife and son more so with each passing day. The Love of your One has a profound effect on a Dwarrow's heart," Balin strolled along the garden's cobblestone path with hands clasped behind him. "and mind."
"From what I know, before Mother left us, Father's gold sickness was held at bay by their love," Thorin replied in a low voice, so quiet that Balin strained to hear him. "I am not my grandfather or my father and pray that Bella's love will keep me from that darker fate. I fear more for her well-being in my bed than I do the sickness that lurks in my family's blood."
"It worries you that much?" Balin asked. "I'd say, lad, to worry more about the gold sickness."
"When Bella is near me, I lose my good sense. Dwarven strength could easily break a her bones if I lost control even for a second," Thorin growled. "I am praying that the graces of my mother's lineage flows through my veins enough to make this love possible both in heart and body, but neither of us will know until we come to that moment."
"A Dwarrow's love is neither fragile nor fickle, Thorin, but strong and enduring as Erebor itself." Balin bent over to smell a fragrant white bloom. "Your faith and love may aid you in the patience you seek. She has enchanted you, hasn't she?"
"Aye. To think that Bella and Erebor are both the same destiny gives me great joy. I am without words." Thorin gave his old friend a rare grin, but it quickly fell away. "What do I have to give her? If she were a dwarrowdam, I'd drape in finery of gold and gems crafted by my two hands, but Bella isn't one for cold metal or hard jewels. She wants a simple life of hearth and family. I can't properly court her until we retake the mountain from Smaug and provide her with the things she deserves."
A long, heavy shadow crossed Thorin's features, form that stoic mask that Balin saw too often from him. "Speak your mind."
"She wants a life with a husband, children and a home with a garden," A sadness crept into Thorin's baritone lilt. "I can't give her those things, Balin, not yet. I can only give her my love, my devotion, and my body to pleasure her if she'll have me."
"For Bella, she's not one for worldly things," Balin laid a consoling hand to Thorin's shoulder. "Bella is of strong heart. She fought hard against Azog for your life."
"Dwalin thinks I should bed her and get her out of my system," Thorin scoffed. "He thinks she makes me weak. Ori thinks I should be picking the blossoms from Beorn's garden, composing songs and singing to her declarations of undying love. I told them both to keep their noses out of my affairs."
"So, how do you plan to court her?" Balin asked. "Your can not let your mind be distracted from our quest."
"She wears my bead and my braid," Blue eyes stared hard at the elder Dwarf. "That is good enough for the company. Anything beyond that, they needn't know."
"Is such a thing possible?" Balin chuckled. "Your nephews are already planning your last free Dwarrow's celebration.
"I don't need some gangly she-elf slithering around me half-clothed after drinking too much ale, Balin." Thorin turned to his old friend, studied the ground for a moment before speaking. "I refuse to qive quarter to embracing my destinies because they are one and the same: Erebor and Bella. I made the ancient vows in Khuzdul to her, 'where you go, I go.' I will keep that vow and I remind her of how she touches my heart and afflicts
my body with wanting."
"And what of her ways?" Balin asked. "What does Bella want, Thorin?"
"I haven't asked," his eyes studied a butterfly flitting its wings while drinking nectar from a bright orange blossom. "Her ways are not like our ours. I admit, I want to know more."
"Hobbits are a playful, frolicsome race. They are fertile and love mate play," Balin said. "To make your way to her heart, give her comfort and indulge her senses. It has been said that a way to make a Hobbit love you is to feed them often and bed them afterwards."
"Many nights I have thought of Bella," Thorin's voice trailed off as he wondered what was hidden beneath that worn velvet traveling coat and calf-length skirts. How many times he had dreamed of caressing the silky softness of skin? He had blushed in mortification the number of times he had barked at her and walked away when his body threatened to announce his desire of her to the rest of the Company.
The awkward moment hung between Balin and Thorin for what seemed an eternity. Thorin coughed and cleared his throat, realizing that he wanted to make sure that Bella knew no discomfort when he finally pledged his body to her for all time, truly make her the Queen Under the Mountain.
"Gandalf is familiar with the ways of Hobbits," a broad smile crossed Balin's lips. "I think that if you're thinking of the more worldly things to please your Hobbit One, then he would be the one you should ask. Rumor has it that he and Belladonna Took were once an item long ago."
Blue eyes widened to the size of wagon wheels of the thin, gangly wizard who stood two Hobbits high loving such a tiny creature. How would it even be possible?
"Hang up your jaw, lad," Balin tapped his chin. "It may freeze that way. Also, remember that I said it was only a rumor and long before I knew him."
"I will not speak to the wizard of such things," Thorin huffed, crossing his arms.
"Oh, really, Master Dwarf?" a voice answered behind them.
"Ah, Master Gandalf!" Balin gave him cheerful greeting. "Good morning to you."
"And to you, Master Balin," Gandalf pushed back the brim of his hat to better gaze at the duo before him. "Speaking of the birds and bees?"
"And what affair is it of yours?" Thorin barked.
"Thorin Oakenshield, anything regarding Belladonna Baggins I make my affair," the wizard's wiry brows formed a stern V that framed his disdain. "You know little to nothing of Hobbits and I'll not have you mucking up thinks because of your obstinate thick-headedness."
"We will find our own way, Wizard," Thorin said through clenched teeth. "Without your meddling."
"And I am sure you will, Thorin Oakenshield," Gandalf cast a knowing glance to Balin. "A Hobbit's love is playful and mercurial. Don't make the mistake of thinking it weak or disloyal. A Hobbit's love of body and heart is a gift given only when trust flows freely."
"Who are you to give me advice, old man?" Thorin challenged.
Gandalf's jovial manner melted away as he glowed with raw, untamed emotion. "If she is your One, then she will wreck you and leave you shattered so that no sun rises or sets without putting her first in all things You are still on a quest to reclaim Erebor and it depends upon you having a clear head. Do not let your heart cloud your judgment."
"I have found an ancient cure to be a sure way to keep my mind sound," Thorin bellowed as he stomped away from his elders.
And what, pray tell, Master Dwarf, is that?" Gandalf asked.
"A long dip in a very cold bath." Thorin stomped away as the two elders chuckled.
Thorin walked slowly in to Beorn's home, finding Bella in a part of the house with the shelves covered in books. He found her sitting in a cushioned, oversized chair with her feet tucked beneath her, her toes poking out just beyond the hem of her skirts. She gazed up at Thorin with wide hazel eyes, a smile lighting up the room that made his heart feel shattered, wrecked and broken that he nearly fell to his knees from the power of her affection.
"Did you have a good talk with Balin?" Bella asked, setting aside her book.
"Enlightening," he hedged, pushing away baser thoughts as visions entered his mind of Bella lying upon white linen and draped in gold chains encrusted with colorful gems.
"And?" Bella press, motioning her hand for him to continue.
"He and Gandalf simply wished to give me some fatherly advice."