An Unexpected Interruption
Author's note: This is set some vague amount of time after Bilbo returned to the Shire. I tried to look up when Drogo & Primula got married but I couldn't find any info on it; hopefully the time frame is vaguely plausible!
Also, I believe that Drogo is actually the second cousin to Bilbo but I have them address one another just as 'cousin' for the sake of simplicity.
When the day begun there was nothing to suggest that it was going to be anything other than an ordinary, if rather happy, day in Hobbiton. Past experience perhaps should have told Bilbo that any day (no matter how routine it appeared on the surface) could end up leading to all manner of strange adventures but indeed Bilbo expected nothing more that day than to officiate the wedding of his dear cousin Drogo to Primula Brandybuck.
Everything had gone according to plan: the various relative and friends had gathered together and were sitting in the general state of excitement that weddings tended to generate amongst Shire-folk; a great deal of food and drink had been prepared for after the ceremony was over (though certain naughty hobbits had already pilfered some apples and bread rolls to snack on whilst waiting for it all to begin); the bower of flowers was all set up for the soon to be happy couple.
Drogo was a little nervous but that was to be expected. Bilbo was quite glad that his cousin had asked him to officiate, not only because he was rather fond of the lad, but because having so many duties to keep him busy on the day meant that he could handily avoid being drawn into 'conversation' with the dreaded Sackville-Bagginses.
He bound together the couple's hands with a length of yellow ribbon and then begun to speak the words. Bilbo faltered in his recitation of the words as his eye was caught by something moving at great speed towards them. Drogo and Primula waited for him to continue the speech and, when he did not, followed his eye-line. Several hobbits, most perturbed at the interruption to what (had up until this point) been a most respectable and routine wedding started to mutter quietly amongst themselves.
Whatever it was, it was large and getting closer very swiftly, Bilbo realised. His heart jolted. A dragon?
He caught his breath again as he remembered that all the great dragons were dead. Still, he steadied himself and started to think as to what he would do should the mysterious creature be of an unfriendly nature, desperately wishing that he had Sting on hand should hostilities occur.
Soon, however, it became clear that such action would probably be rather unnecessary, for as it got closer it became clear to Bilbo that the being was in fact one of the Great Eagles, such as had saved the company from the host of wargs and goblins. What an Eagle would be doing in the Shire was anyone's guess but it did appear to be carrying someone upon its back, though Bilbo could not make out whom at this distance.
The Eagle swooped in onto a free patch of grass. Great gusts of air emanated from its wings, causing several hats to go flying off the heads of hobbits. Off the eagle stepped Thorin Oakenshield, looking every inch the King. He was clad in a fine shirt of dark-blue, unburdened by the heavy armour he had worn throughout the journey, only wearing minimal protection. Most notably, his beard seemed to have grown substantially in length since the last time Bilbo had laid eyes upon him.
Some of Bilbo's more delicate relatives fainted. Thanks to the rather harrowing string of events that had occurred on the adventure, Bilbo's fainting days were pretty well and truly behind him – a fact he was rather grateful for as he suspected the reason he felt liable to swoon was rather different to that of his kinsmen.
They stared at each other for a while; Bilbo waiting, desperately, for Thorin to offer up some explanation for his unannounced presence here but Thorin seemed quite lost for words.
"Incredible! This is so typical, he's so anxious to keep folk talking about him that he brings in some strange dwarf to upstage poor sweet Drogo's wedding," Lobelia Sackville-Baggins shrieked, breaking the silence.
Drogo turned to look at her in surprise for, up until this point, she had never shown any particular fondness for him – indeed; she'd made several impolite remarks about everything from the quality of the food to the choice of officiator (unsurprisingly). His reply was lost in a clamour of noise as all the guests started to speak at once.
Bilbo blinked. He'd been so lost in the moment that he'd quite forgotten where he was.
"Right, yes, apologies for the interruption. There will now be a short interval. Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves," Bilbo managed to say, sprinting off towards Thorin.
There was a sudden surge of outrage amongst the crowd – an interval? This was just not the done thing and had this been planned from the start? It was probably a nasty foreign custom, some murmured, something strange Mr Bilbo Baggins had picked up from dwarves or men and had convinced his poor vulnerable cousin to go along with.
Primula, trying not to be put out at the whole thing, directed the guests towards the food which made some quarters considerably more cheerful – though there was still a sense of suspicion and disruption amongst the hobbits at large.
Bilbo moved past them all, resolutely ignoring all of their commentary, reaching Thorin and steering him away so that they might talk unheard by everybody else.
"I am glad to see you looking so well, Thorin despite the, ah, timing of your visit," Bilbo said, stumbling over his words a little. "I have to admit that your visit has rather taken me by surprise."
"As I am glad to see you again."
Bilbo waited patiently for Thorin to explain his purpose in being there but it appeared that he did not intend to elaborate.
"It must be a matter of great importance for Thorin Oakenshield to visit the Shire," said Bilbo, seriously. Thorin had been none too impressed by Hobbiton on his last visit and he imagined that the demands of ruling of Kingdom did not exactly leave much time for travelling on a whim regardless of how you felt about a place. A sudden panic flared up in Bilbo – could it be that something terrible had happened?
Thorin certainly appeared rather unhappy (though with him it was often difficult to tell). From Thorin's letters, it had sounded like all the company were settled and doing well but that was not to say that something had not happened in the interim.
"Do you really not know why I have come?" Thorin asked, leaving Bilbo even more confused.
"I'm afraid I do not."
"The wedding," Thorin said, shortly, as though this should be obvious.
"My cousin's wedding?" Of all the answers Bilbo had anticipated, this had not been one of them. "Why should my cousin's wedding be of any concern to the King under the Mountain?"
"Your cousin's wedding?" Thorin's brow was furrowed and he seemed frozen in some kind of terror? But that couldn't be right.
"Yes, yes! My cousin is marrying his sweetheart today and I was supposed to be officiating before you happened to swoop in here apparently for no good reason," Bilbo said, rather crossly.
Thorin looked distinctly taken aback at Bilbo's words and indeed, a redness spread across his cheeks. Now there was a sight that Bilbo never expected to witness – the great Thorin Oakenshield blushing!
It occurred to Bilbo that perhaps he had been a little overly harsh to his friend. "I am sorry," he said, hastily. "I didn't mean to…I am sure you have had a long and tiring journey. How might I be of assistance to you?"
Thorin seemed to be waging some internal battle as to whether to speak but eventually he came out with it. "I seem to be here under a misunderstanding…You see, when you wrote to me of a marriage, I was rather under the impression that it was, well, yours." Thorin looked more embarrassed than Bilbo had ever seen him look (and that included the time they had been captured by elves in Mirkwood).
"Honestly Thorin, if I were to marry – which I do not intend to – would I really just mention it in such an offhand manner without providing details or indeed, invitations for my dear friends amongst the dwarves," Bilbo replied, more amused by the mere thought of it than anything else.
Bilbo wasn't sure if he was imagining things but Thorin seemed distinctly relieved; his entire body, which had until now been held rather rigidly, seemed to loosen.
"I confess that I'm not much interested in hobbit maids," Bilbo blurted, despite his best instincts telling him not to say anything.
"Indeed?" Bilbo was almost certain now that he was not imagining the note of sudden optimism in Thorin's voice.
"I am, however, curious as to how you managed to get here so quickly – I did not send that letter so long ago and I the journey between here and Erebor is long and arduous – even without all the encounters with orcs, spiders and goblins."
Thorin seemed thankful to be on safer ground and answered quickly. "I was carried on the wings of a great eagle from Erebor to the Shire in a matter of days; I am sure you recall how swift their flight is."
"How, may I ask, did you manage to convince an eagle to carry you all the way here from Erebor? If I recall correctly, they were rather put out about having to carry us last time and that was in rather more dire circumstances," Bilbo asked, – this whole affair was proving to be just one mystery after another.
Thorin looked down and the red colour, which had receded for a while, came rushing back to his cheeks. Bilbo felt a strange urge to reach out and touch them, to feel whether they were hot to the touch, but he sternly told himself that now was definitely not the time for that.
"I may have promised them nesting grounds on the slopes of Erebor…and an alliance to fight against orcs…and a certain percentage of our livestock for food…" Thorin admitted, somewhat reluctantly.
Bilbo could see that there was something to be gained in creating an alliance with the eagles based on a hatred of orcs but, from what Thorin said, it seemed more as if the agreement had been rather hastily made and not exactly two-sided. "All that for a lift to and from the Shire?"
A sudden look of horrified realisation crossed Thorin's face.
"What is the matter?" Bilbo asked, tentatively.
Thorin seemed to be resisting the urge to place his head in his hands. "In my haste, I rather…forgot about the return journey. I only bargained for the journey here."
Bilbo shook his head and amended his question. "So, all that for one journey to the Shire?"
"Indeed and it was almost as difficult as striking a bargain with Thranduil." Thorin said the name in his customary tone of distaste.
Bilbo raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Note that I said almost." Thorin smiled slightly. Somehow he seemed less burdened with the grudges of the past than he had the last time Bilbo had seen him.
Bilbo smiled back and looked up into Thorin's eyes, a warm feeling spreading throughout his body. Oh how he'd missed him! Though the circumstances of his being here were peculiar in the extreme, he was glad that he was here.
Thorin looked back at him and Bilbo was left quite speechless for once in his life. There were a thousand other questions that he could ask Thorin but they all seemed to shrivel in his mouth; his tongue felt oddly dry. There was warm rush of blood his face and he was sure now that Thorin was not the only one who was blushing. He wondered if or when Thorin would look away, but his gaze was steady and unwavering.
There was a sudden burst of noise from in the distance and, like being doused with cold water, Bilbo remembered that whilst he was standing here the entire wedding was waiting upon his return. He looked away, glancing back towards the source of the noise, before turning back to Thorin with a small sigh.
"Since you are already here, how would you like to witness an authentic hobbit marriage ceremony?" Bilbo asked. "Though traditionally our weddings do not contain interruptions by visiting kings, the rest of the service will be most traditional." At least Bilbo hoped that would be the case.
"I would be honoured."
Bilbo came back to the crowd, loudly proclaiming: "Alright everyone, the interval is now over and the wedding can commence – can everyone please retake their seats."
There was another scramble of noise and motion as the hobbits all went to find their seats again, the grumbling (which had not ceased since the interval began) getting seemingly ever louder. Many of the hobbits seemed particularly distressed by the continued presence of the eagle, who was sleeping on a patch of grass - apparently completely indifferent its surroundings.
"May I announce to all of you that we have with us today a most esteemed guest," Bilbo shouted, so as to be clearly heard. "Our visitor is Thorin, son of Thráin, and King under the Mountain."
There were gasps amongst the crowd then everyone quickly quietened down (perhaps feeling that they ought to behave well in front of royalty); Bilbo just hoped that it would last so that the wedding could get back to some semblance of normality. Bilbo strode over to where poor Primula and Drogo had apparently been stood waiting the with their hands still bound.
"I do apologise for the disruption," Bilbo said to the couple, in a low voice, uncertain as how he could satisfactorily account for Thorin's presence – finally settling on a vague version of the truth. "I'm afraid I sent some correspondence that was rather misinterpreted by my friend, leaving him with the impression that his presence was required immediately."
The two nodded though they, naturally, looked anxious to continue with the wedding – asking no follow up questions. Obliging, Bilbo picked up from where he had left off – hoping that his recitation was not hindered by a sudden nervousness that had seized upon him. There was something about knowing that Thorin was watching the ceremony.
Somehow Bilbo managed to make it through the words without stumbling – finally announcing that the bride and groom were free to kiss. Primula grabbed Drogo rather enthusiastically and pressed their lips together. The hobbits clapped dutifully, Bilbo more than most – partially out of joy for his cousin but mostly because at least something had gone right today.
Though much of the food had already been consumed during the spontaneous interval, there was still plenty to make for a good party and there was yet more ale that was as of yet undrunk (though that wouldn't be the case for long). Bilbo had returned to Thorin's side to ensure that he would not be left alone amongst folk he was not acquainted with. The rest of the hobbits continued to cast occasional nervous glances towards Thorin though few seemed brave enough to engage him in conversation of even the most superficial kind. Bilbo supposed that it wasn't surprising given Thorin's great height and imposing demeanour.
"Well hullo, Mr Bilbo, I don't believe you've introduced us to your guest," Hamfast Gamgee said, wandering over – apparently courageous or perhaps just polite enough to address the strange dwarf.
"Indeed, it seems I've quite forgotten my manners. Hamfast Gamgee, this is Thorin Oakenshield, King under the Mountain and a very dear friend of mine."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, Mister Thorin, Master Oakenshield…or should that be, King Oakenshield? I'm afraid we're not much used to royalty round these here parts."
"Master Gamgee," Thorin inclined his head a little. "I have no authority over any who dwell in these lands; you must address me in the manner considered most fitting amongst your own people."
Bilbo felt a smile spread to his face at Thorin's smoothness of manner. In truth, he had not always been the most courteous to those that they had encountered on their journey.
"Right, Mister Thorin it is then," Hamfest Gamgee said, sounding satisfied. "Might I direct you towards the food and drink – I have to say that my home brew is particularly good, pardon me for saying myself…"
Satisfied that they seemed to getting along fine, Bilbo took the opportunity to excuse himself so that he could apologise, once again, to his cousin for the interruption to his wedding day. Bilbo looked around for him and spotted him, apparently caught in unpleasant discourse with the Sackville-Bagginses (Bilbo could not actually hear what they were saying but he felt he knew them well enough to know that the conversation was no good).
Bilbo wandered over and interrupted (bad manners really but there was no way he could sink any lower in the estimation of the Sackville Bagginses) glad that he could at least save Drogo from this. He drew the lad aside and started to make his apology.
"I really am most sorry about all this; I am sure that when you asked me to officiate you did not anticipate that this would end up in your wedding being disrupted by a dwarven king; I hope that the wedding was not ruined for you both."
"Oh it's quite alright," Drogo said, cheerfully. He seemed to be in a wedding-related daze of some sort (though that might have been down to the copious amount of ale he had managed to consume in the past few minutes). "It is certainly a wedding that no-one will ever forget."
"No, I expect they will be talking about this for years to come." In fact, Bilbo imagined that the tale would survive him and Drogo and everyone by a great number of years – there were so few strange happenings in the Shire that when something out of the ordinary did occur, it was recounted with disapproval and secret wonder for centuries.
"I bet there are not many hobbits that can say that a king of the dwarves attended their wedding," Drogo continued. "Primula thought the whole thing was marvellous – she has such a wonderful sense of humour."
Bilbo felt a rush of fondness and made sure to express his happiness, once again, at the marriage of the young couple (he felt absolutely certain that the two of them would have a wonderful life together) before allowing his cousin to rejoin his bride.
Bilbo walked over to where Thorin was standing quietly, observing the proceedings – a mug of ale now in his hands.
"Wherever did Hamfast get to?" Bilbo asked, looking around for him.
"He was required by one of his kinsmen who had had rather too much of this very ale," Thorin said, a note of amusement in his voice.
Bilbo nodded. "Understandable – these occasions are not marked by restraint. What did you think of your first hobbit wedding then? I suppose our customs are probably most unlike those of the dwarves."
"Well, considering that my sudden entrance rather disturbed the ceremony, I thought that the matter was conducted well. It seems there are rather more flowers involved in your wedding ceremonies, that is true, and I noticed that the ceremony was absent of any exchange of jewellery as is customary amongst my own people."
"We're simply folk and not much prone to wearing great jewels." It was just a statement of fact.
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world," Thorin said, softly. He'd spoken those words to Bilbo before, on the battlefield, when it had seemed certain he would die. "It seems to me that on the surface the ceremonies might be different but the feeling behind it all seems much the same."
"Why did you rush over to the Shire when you thought that I was the one getting married?" Bilbo's heart was hammering in his chest as he said the words but the question had been on his mind ever since Thorin had revealed his reason for being there.
Thorin looked out into the distance as if there was something particularly interesting out there. He pursed his lips together in an infuriating way that was yet somehow mesmerising.
"Thorin?" Bilbo prompted, feeling reckless and impatient.
"I'll confess that I had rather hoped that my presence might alter your course though I am aware of how selfish that thought was. Please forgive me."
"I cannot forgive you unless you tell me fully and truthfully what it is that you want me to forgive. You say you wished to alter my course; what exactly did you mean by all that?"
"I had hoped, against hope, that you might come away from the Shire. That you might return with me to Erebor and pledge yourself to me, that you might be my consort. I am aware that such thoughts are foolish
"I accept your apology," said Bilbo, smiling. "But there is one matter that is of yet unresolved."
Thorin looked at him blankly. He seemed unsure as to how to respond to this emotionally – should he feel relieved that he was forgiven so easily yet again or he consign himself to misery that Bilbo was reacting so calmly to his confession? It was uncommon for a dwarf to fall in love more than once and in this moment Thorin could see why – one heartbreak seemed almost more than even the most battle-hardened dwarf could survive.
"Does your offer still stand?"
A hint of a smile appeared on Thorin's face though he suppressed it quickly, fearing that this was just another misunderstanding in the long chain of misconceptions that had lead them to this point. "You would leave your home, your life here, for me?
"I love Bag End but it no longer feels quite like home. In all truth, it hasn't since I returned from our journey. My heart lies with you, Thorin Oakenshield. I followed you once and I will follow you once again," said Bilbo. "In fact, I think I shall give Bag End to Drogo and Primula – that ought to make up for the rather unexpected interruption to their wedding. Yes, I think that's decided."
"Truly, you never cease to amaze me," Thorin said. He moved to embrace Bilbo but stopped short, looking around at all the gathered hobbits milling around the place in various.
The two of them exchanged looks, making a silent agreement: later.
"Though I do hope that you can convince that eagle to fly us back to Erebor," Bilbo added. "I imagine your subjects are missing their King."
Thorin's sudden departure from Erebor had been the subject of much discussion amongst the dwarves that resided there. Naturally, and despite Fíli's best attempts to convince them all that Thorin was just following up on some routine business, rumours abounded as to what their absent King was doing - the most popular seemed to be the absurd notion that he had a plan to singlehandedly assassinate Thranduil. A more sensible suggestion (which was hence much less popular) was that he had been called away by some of their kin on an errand of some great secrecy and importance.
Perhaps it wasn't surprising, Fíli mused, that he wasn't able to douse the flames of speculation when you considered that even he did not know where his Uncle was nor his purpose in leaving. Privately, he guessed that perhaps this was related to the growing concerns over the seeming increase in the number and tenacity of orcs venturing into the lands of the free people – that had certainly been the subject of many meetings and messages. In the end, heir to the throne or no, he was just as in the dark as everyone else.
A great many dwarves lost a good deal of gold on the day that Thorin returned with a certain master-burglar. That Thorin's journey had been of a personal nature had barely been considered an option during the placing of bets – let alone that he would come back betrothed to a hobbit of the Shire. There was also the matter of a treaty with the Great Eagles – a detail that was difficult to connect to the business of the marriage, especially given that Thorin was being characteristically tight-lipped about it all.
Despite this, there was only minimal complaining amongst the populace. Dwarves, as a rule, were rather fond of weddings and a royal wedding was certainly a cause for celebration. Admittedly, the King's choice of consort was rather unconventional but in some ways, this only increased the romance of it all in the eyes of the population. Not to mention no dwarf would dare stand between Thorin Oakenshield and his heart's desire. Not after he had achieved the impossible and restored them to their home.
The members of the company were the most pleased of all; Thorin may have reclaimed the mountain but Bilbo had managed something that had once seemed even more unlikely – he had won the heart of their proud and stubborn friend.
As for Bilbo, he was just looking forward to learning more about the marriage customs of the dwarves first-hand.
Author's note: Alternative title for the fic: Two weddings, no funerals. This fic was actually based on a dream of mine and oh god, I'm turning into Stephanie Meyer, aren't I? Anyways, I have to thank and give credit to missisjoker on tumblr who came up with what Thorin could use to bribe the eagles when making his very hasty deal.
I should probably also point that the line: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world," is of course quoted directly from the book.
I'd love any feedback on this as I'm quite nervous about writing for this fandom!