Disclaimer: I do not own and am not profiting from The Hobbit or any of its characters. I'll lay claim to Scilla though.

Summary: In the late evening hours following her return to Middle Earth, Scilla the Seer realizes she might be insane.

We sent the children – barely that. Bain had grown so much that year, he was almost a whole new person, and Sigrid was blossoming into the irresistibly shy type – to bed with kisses and smiles and bellies full of warm food and ale. I realized it had been my second dinner of the night, and wondered why I had ever thought the hours would line up in time travel. It made sense, didn't it?

Bard followed them, to close down the Great House and ensured everyone was settled for the night, and I stayed behind to refill my wine glass.

I settled into a chair by the fireplace, a comfortable, well-constructed thing Bard must have made himself. I shifted my butt around until it was in just the right spot and turned my face to the fire in satisfaction.

And all at once the lunacy of what I'd done struck me.

The arrogance! Who goes back to the man they've rejected a year later and expects to be welcomed with open arms? I mean, he had…but that could have been because of the children. There's no pride where children are concerned.

I suddenly felt awful and miserable and hopeless.

Bard returned then, refilled his own glass, and took the other fireside chair. His soft smile faded into a frown.

"What is it?"

I set my wine down. "I um…I suppose I just realized how impertinent it was of me to come back here. I think I probably owe you an apology."

He didn't answer, so after a moment I went on. "I mean, we had this…this fondness, I believe we called it, and I just assumed…But of course your life is different now, and I should have known that. Only it was some absurd hour of the morning when Gandalf came to get me, and there was a storm, and the dogs were barking, and all I could think was how he was right, that I had been unhappy, and that I'd be able to see you. When he offered, I didn't think. I just left. It didn't strike me until just now that you might not want me to come back."

Again, with the silence, but he wasn't looking at me now. His frown had deepened, and his eyes, for all they were focused on anything, were on the fire.

"I…I don't have to stay. Not if you don't want me to. I have a job to do, but I don't have to be here to do it. Other arrangements can be made."

I was panicky now. It had been a gamble, returning to Middle Earth, one I hadn't even known I was making. I had simply thrown the die and run ahead of them, and now I was being called back to see what the results actually were.

I shifted in my chair again, twitchy with my own foolishness. Then I looked up, terrified, and Bard was smiling again.

"Did you really think, after a only a year, you would have simply faded from our lives?"

Speechless, my lips parted, but no sound came from them. Which was just as well, for a moment later, Bard was up and had taken the one step to cross the threshold to get to me, and his mouth was on mine.

The kiss was warm, and strangely hard and soft all at once, and fear melted like spring snows beneath it. But two people of above average height will not be comfortable maneuvering in such a position for long, and I rose, pushing him ahead of me, but not breaking contact. His arms came around me, firm and unrelenting, and I relaxed into them. This was our first embrace, I realized, that was not a farewell.

We took our time, and eventually he pulled away long enough to look at me. The lines around his eyes were deeply crinkled. I think his eyes were older than he was. His smile was wider than I'd ever seen it, but still dour by the standards of normal men. I was crazy. I loved that smile best of all.

"Will you stay this time?" he asked, arms tightening further.

Apparently I was not the only one with doubts.

"Yes," I told him with all the tenacity I had in me. I seemed to have been saving it up for this moment.

"I'm glad," he asked. "I have waited more than a year with no hope of your return."

"I'm sorry," I said, and meant it. "I'm not going anywhere this time. I promise."

"Then we'll discuss our plans in the morning. For now, you're here, and that is enough. Will you please come to bed?"

I laughed. "Of course."

I woke the next morning wondering what Gandalf had done with my dogs.

AN: Happy Valentine's Day!