Oh my god, I can't believe I left you hanging for what...5 months? I'm so, so sorry for the wait :'( hopefully, next chapter won't be this long to come!
Merry christmas to all of you, my beloved readers, and may the Force be with you, since The Force Awakens was awesome.

This chapter is dedicated to my dear Wynni. I wish all the best for you and your family, dear ;D

English isn't my first language so all the mistakes are mine.

Chapter 5

Being part of a couple is a situation John isn't accustomed to.
After all, Bilbo Baggins has remained a spinster, cold and alone in an empty smial and an empty bed, until the end of her days, and if not for Sebastian Moran, John Watson would probably have suffered the same fate.

The brown mark has not helped, of course, but in this life, the rare and men and women she has dated or tried to, have had a certain tendency to flee as fast as they could as soon as they meet Sherlock. As if he had been the Plague itself. But he had been so much more than that. Smaug, Bane of Middle Earth, Chiefest and Principalest of Calamities.

It makes her sad, to realize that if the detective hadn't die, she and Sebastian couldn't have been. Not because of their old feud, but because living with Sherlock Holmes was like having a child to take care of. A very annoying, invasive, rambuctious child.
A child who thought himself strong enough to fight against the world, and wasn't. A child she failed to protect from himself and the others.
She still misses him. The pain is dull and wakes her, sometimes, in the middle of the night, but Sebastian's arms are always around her to sooth her cries.

Waking up in someone else's arms. She's not accustomed to that either.
She starts to be.
Not that she complains. She was used to one night stands, empty beds, empty words, empty hearts and grey mornings.

She isn't cold anymore, because Sebastian's embrace is warm and strong. Like being engulfed in a furnace. It can seem paradoxical, but Sherlock, who once was a dragon, fire and death and so much more, was cold.
Not that it bothered her, because they weren't intimate in that way, but still, the more she thinks of it, the more she thinks it's weird.

She doesn't dream of fire anymore, nor does she dream of death. She doesn't dream at all. Perhaps it's because she feels safer than she has ever been.

Trust is easier than she has ever thought.
The limp lingers, but she almost doesn't use her walking stick anymore, because Sebastian's arms are here to support her and catch her if she falls.

They visit Sherlock's grave together, once. Surprisingly, the idea is his, not hers. Maybe he feels guilty, though she can't see why he should be.
Whatever happened in another life doesn't really matter anymore, does it?
Or maybe he simply knows that she needs it, because he is her soulmate, the same being split in two, like two pieces of a puzzle, made to complete each other.

His hold on her hand is steady and strong as she stares worldlessly at the tombstone.
She doesn't cry.
John Watson is done with crying. She wants to laugh and smile again, because she is happy. Hard-won, bitter happiness build on the ashes of the old sorrow that was sticking to her since she was born, but happiness nonetheless.

They're not perfect.
They just are.
That's enough for her.

They both have matching red marks, and even if she's not usually someone to parade, it feels strangely good to see people looking at her with envy when they walk together in the streets.
It's new.
It's fine.
It feels right.

She almost wishes that they cross path, when they are wandering through London, arms entwined together, with her former classmates. Or even better, with the boy she has punched. All these little bullies who thought she would always be alone and unwanted.
See? she would scream at them. See?
They would be so pissed, and she will laugh. Wouldn't that be glorious?

If she still had been a Hobbit, she would have done that. Dragged Thorin with her to the market for everyone to see, because she would have been so proud to bring back to the Shire that gorgeous Dwarf King from her so unrespectable adventure.
Even as John Watson, she can still imagine Lobelia Sackville-Baggins' face. Priceless. That damn woman was a silver spoon-obsessed bitch, and the official bane of her existence.
Bilbo was terrified of her. Now, John Watson would probably eat her alive, because she is an Army Doctor, which means that she can break every single bone in her body, while naming them, but all she can do is smirk at the thought, because Lobelia is long, long gone.

The ghosts are still here, but now she can keep them at bay. Sebastian, simply by his presence, told them to go, and they went away.
He is holding her steady with his hands, and doesn't let her fall. Instead, she fights and win.

He's a fighter too. He always has been.
His hands are rough and calloused against her skin, used as they are to be wrapped around a weapon. A gun or the hilt of a sword, or herself, what difference ? She is a weapon too. The Army taught her to kill and taught her well. People forget it too easily.
Sebastian's hands are the new fortress around her mind, and she isn't ready to let it crumble to dust. If she has to fight for him, she will fights. If she has to kill, she will kill.
He's worth it.

The first person she tells about her newfound relationship is Molly. The young pathologist is delighted and beams a bit too much to be honest.
She seems to cope with Sherlock's death surprisingly well for someone who used to be head over heels for him. But that's Molly's way. Faking happiness, because she doesn't want anyone to be worried about her.
Perhaps that's why she get engaged, too. To show people that she is fine. Even if her mark is still blue. His name is Tom, and John isn't sure that she wants to meet him.

Mrs Hudson already knows, so there's no need to tell her anything, but the landlady is slightly in denial. Even if she caught them in a rather compromising position.
Sherlock. Was. Not. My. Boyfriend, John repeats slowly, for at least the hundredth time.
Live and let live, that's my motto, Mrs Hudson says with a smirk.
Oh dear.
Some things never change.
The old woman will never admit that she likes Sebastian, but the fact is, she does. Because he is well-behaved, and knows how to make tea, and will not blow up the kitchen while doing so.

Lestrade nearly chokes on his coffee when John tells him. In fact, he doesn't believe her, until he and Sebastian have a meeting which involves beer and football talking.
Lucky girl, he says afterwards, grinning, and claps her on the shoulder.

She doesn't tell Mycroft because he already knows. He always knows everything, even if she has long removed the cameras from Baker Street.

She doesn't tell Harry.
Or her parents. She doesn't feel the need to. It's not as if they cared, anyway. And it's almost been ten years since they have last spoken.
Maybe they're glad to be rid of their two failures of daughters.
It doesn't makes her feel anything anymore. It doesn't even hurt.
Because she is too happy for that.

The problem, with Sebastian, is that he is not very subtle. He has more tact than Thorin ever had, but still.
First, he asks her if he wants to move and settle in his flat. She already spends half of her time in there, so it's just another step. She gathers her things, says goodbye to Mrs Hudson and promises to keep in touch, looks one last at Sherlock's things, and shuts the door.
It doesn't feel like home anymore, but still her heart aches a bit.
She ignores it.
Memories can't reach her now.

One day, he asks her out, as he often does, but this time, it is in one of the most luxuous and expensive restaurants in London.
He is trying, really.
But she has lived for a while with Sherlock Holmes, the World Only Consulting Detective, and she, too, can deduce things.
What a wonderful idiot.
Well, at least, she can pretend to be completely oblivious. She owes him that. He's trying, after all. That's cute.

Choosing a fitting dress, however, is not. She has not worn one since high school.
She asks Molly. She asks Mrs Hudson.
God bless them.
She ends up with a correct outfit, which makes her feel horribly uncomfortable, but looks fine on her.

You're perfect, Sebastian says when he sees is.
Well, she has almost tripped on her heels while going down the stairs, and she can't run or stretch her legs in that bloody, expensive dress, but if he thinks she's perfect, everything is.
She has even brushed her hair back and tucked them with a clip. They are long, now. They fall straight to her chin because she has stopped cutting them. Mrs Hudson says it ages never says anything about that, so it must be alright.

The food is perfect, the music is perfect, the wine is perfect, everything is perfect.

Sebastian is perfect too, in his elegant black suit, blue eyes shining under the candle lights, dark beard neatly trimmed, even if he is quite awkward and obviously doesn't know how to bring his subject.

Well, it would be, if the waiter hasn't been as annoying as an obsessed wasp. Can't this guy just go bothering someone else with his ridiculous french accent?
Like a gaze from a crowd of strangers...
Sebastian is doing a funny face.
...suddenly one is aware of staring into the face of an old friend.
Did her boyfriend just pay this guy to declaim french poetry? That's bad taste.

She lifts her eyes to tell him to go away.

The world stops and her heart with it.
Tears in her eyes.
That's to much.
It can't be.
It can't.

Sebastian's voice is far, far away from her ringing ears.
John? What is it? John?

The waiter removes his glasses, revealing reptilian blue-green eyes. Eyes she knows too much. Except that this time, they are bright and alive, not glassy, cold and unseeing.
Well, short version, he says. Not. Dead.

John sees red.

The ceremony of burial is a nightmare.
She is there, but she isn't really there and wishes to be far, far away, but she's never far enough. She sees everything through the blurred veil of her tears, and wishes the salt burn her eyes until she can't see anything anymore.

There are three inert bodies laid in coffins of stone. Three. Not two.
Kili is dead.
Sweet Kili with his soft dark eyes and his beaming smile and his almost beardless face. He will never smile again now, never laugh.

They look so peaceful like that, as if they were only sleeping.
Bilbo prays Yavanna and Mahal to let them wake up, let them be fine again. She prays, prays and prays, and her tears roll down her face and burn her skin, but she doesn't care. The Valar never answer, and years later, she will recall it exactly as the very moment she looses faith.

Voices are singing in Khuzdul in the background, and she doesn't understand anything. It's like a lullaby, dragging her down to sleep, and she doesn't want it. And she canno't, even of she wanted it, because when she closes her eyes, all she sees is Death, and she dreams of Death when she is asleep and thinks of Death when she is awake.




Why didn't Death take her too?
That's unfair.
She's dead inside, but her body lives. A living corpse. It would just be another step, wouldn't it?

She wonders why she has not thought of throwing herself of the cliff. She doesn't know. She doesn't know anything anymore. She only knows Death.
Death who taunts her in the moving shadows of the candlelights, in the mourning song of the Dwarrows, in the still, cold, and pale, so pale faces of the three empty corporal vessels that are about to be laid under the stone, never to see daylight again.

They are dressed in gold, all three of them, and the Arkenstone is tucked on Thorin's chest, and she wants to rip it off and and shatter it on the ground in thousands of pieces and stomp on it until there is nothing left but sparkly dust.
And it still won't be enough.

The Lady Dis' wailful lament makes her head throb painfully. She is Thorin's living portrait, same sapphire eyes, same midnight hair and sharp feature, and everytime Bilbo looks at her, she wants to scream, and she wants to smash her own skull against the wall, and she wants to claw at her own chest and slash it open and rip her heart out of it.
Maybe it'll stop hurting.
Maybe not.

She doesn't hear anything anymore. They're probably saying nice things about the Fallen. That they were brave, strong, willful...
What use is this for?
It's not as if they could hear it, anyway.
And it hurts, listening to what they were and not what they are, because
they aren't anymore. So she doesn't.

The world fades around her, but she can't fully erase it, and there is nothing left in the tomb, except for herself and Thorin's still body.
They won't let her touch him.
She has no right and no reason, because no one knows, and her black mark is hidden under her sleeve.
She isn't the only one to wear one, embedded in her skin. Bard does, and the Elven King, too, and maybe they know, and they understand, but their pain is old and hers is new, and she doesn't want their help, or their pity.

Tauriel has had one too.
She has faded quickly after Kili's death. She has been fine, and then, in the blink of an eye, she wasn't anymore. Bilbo has held her hand while she was laying, delirious, on a miserable mattress. Her skin has slowly turned pale and cold, her voice hoarse, her once bright green eyes dull, and her fiery red hair ashen gray.
She has slowly became a shadow, and then disappeared.
Just like that.

She has been there, and then not, and there has been nothing left of her but Kili's runestone, the same runestone his mother is now clutching in her fingers.

Return to me, it says.
Never, never, never, sings the wind against the Mountain's stone.

Bilbo doesn't know where Tauriel has gone. Elves do not fade the same way Hobbit do. When her mother faded, there was a body to bury. But it's like the Elf has simply vanished and dissolved in the air.
Maybe she is dead.
Or maybe she is still there, a shade, a formless, restless soul, wandering through the Mountain Hall, forever mourning her lost love. Maybe it's her voice Bilbo hears, screaming her pain in the wind.
But it doesn'y make any difference, isn't it?

Yes, Tauriel is dead, and she died of a broken heart. Leaving Bilbo wondering why she didn't.
Why, indeed.
She should have thrown herself from the frozen cliff. She should have. Or open her wrists with Sting, or impale herself on Orcrist, or...whatever. She should have done that, when she was too deep in her grief to think clear.
Now, it is too late, and she can't, because she is too weak, too much of a coward to take her own life. She's afraid of pain, and she's afraid of Death, and of what is beyond. Afraid that she won't find him there, waiting.

Afraid to be alone in the dark.

And when they close the stone coffin over Thorin's peaceful gold-crowned face with a sepulchral sound, all the lights are blown off, and she realizes that it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter anymore. Because she already is.

Angry again.

Well, she has reasons to be. The prick fakes his death, lets her grieve for two agonizingly long years, and comes back expecting to find everything as it was before, as if nothing ever happened.
No way.
It doesn't work like that.

Her knuckles hurt. Her heart hurts. Her head hurts. Everything hurts.
At least, he must be hurting too, because she has probably broken his nose, and he may know nothing of feelings, but he knows pain. And she has punched him. Thrice.


Sebastian is surprisingly calm. In fact, when he raises his voice, it's not about Smaug. It's not about the gold. It's not about the Arkenstone, or Laketown, or Dale, or her mother burnt to ashes in the mere blink of an eye.
It's about Sherlock, not the dragon.
It's about her.

Do you have any idea what you've done to her? he snarls furiously, fists clenched.
He's taller than Sherlock from one or two inches, and the detective has the decency to look slightly guilty and even afraid, massaging his bruised throat under his scarf.

He explains, or at least tries to, and it's like he is diving and diving and diving deep down inside of himself to reach as much as possible of what makes him so infuriating.
Thirteen ways not to die. Japanese wrestling. Washing bags.
As if she cared. As if it matters. As if it was important.
She does not want the how. She wants the why.
Unfortunatly, he seems to think that she doesn't need to hear it. Or doesn't want to tell her. Whatever.

Breath, John. Breath.

Air. She needs air. Air, and getting out, and a glass of whiskey. More likely the whole bottle. And Sebastian's arms around her.
He's already there. Not helping, though.

Apparently, he has never liked her new haircut, and never said anything because he didn't know how to tell her.
That, she understands.
He's afraid to hurt her. He's terrified to hurt her. And words can cut deeper than steel, and he knows that well. So he has kept his mouth shut.
He cares too much. That's the main issue, with him. And hair isn't really a subject that hurt.
She gently squeezes his hand, and the tension in his body disappear.

What hurts, is that it takes Sherlock to expose that point. Sherlock bloody Holmes.
Smaug agreeing with Thorin Oakenshield about a matter as stupid and hopelessly ordinary as a haircut.
The world has gone definitely mad.

The more Sherlock speaks, the more she wants to strangle him with his stupid scarf and throw him back in his stupid grave in which he's likely never been, and bury him so deep that he'll stay dead like he should have been.
Murderous thoughts are not that uncommon, but hers are really vivid in this instant. Maybe Sherlock can feel them glowering around her, like dark moths drawn to a too bright flame. Doomed to burn. And she really, really feel like she might explode.

Anger is like tidal waves, rising and falling to the rythm of the detective's words.
How dare he?
How dare he?

And then the feeling of betrayal overhelms her, and she sinks her nails into the flesh of her palm and forbids herself to shed the tears that are already gathering in her burning eyes.
Mycroft has known.
Molly has known.
At least half of London's homeless population have known.
They have known, and they never said anything.
They have let her down and watched her struggle and drown and crumble and never did the one thing that could have soothed the pain.
Was it that difficult?
One word. One fucking single word.

She wants to scream. Her throat burns and tastes of ashes. She feels trapped. She needs release. Now.

Why am I the only one who thinks that this is wrong? The only one reacting like a human being? she shouts, and according to Sherlock, she's over-reacting.
Over-reaction it is, then.

She just snaps.
So you fake your own death and you waltz in 'ere large as bloody life but I'm not supposed to have a problem with that, no, because Sherlock Holmes thinks it's a perfectly okay thing to do?

She doesn't care if people are watching them. She doesn't care if she's making a public scene.
Back in the Shire, such a behavious would have been unacceptable, but she's not in the Shire anymore, and if John Watson had been there instead of Bilbo Baggins who has watched her tongue all her life, she would have screamed for all to hear that Lobelia Sackville-Baggins was a heartless, selfish, greedy bitch.
But she had not been John Watson yet. And she's too damaged to keep everything for herself.

Apparently, Sherlock's return is still a secret, and she's very tempted to scream it until there's no one left in London that doesn't know the truth.
But she doesn't.

She doesn't, but only because he has the nerves to ask for her help to prevent a terrorist attack, and she's too stunned to do anything else than staring at him blankly, listening to Sebastian's nervous laugh without really hearing it.
You have missed this. Admit it. The thrill of the chase, the blood pumping through your veins, just the two of us against the rest of the world...
Gods, that she did. It's the worst, isn't it?
She can't think. Only act.
She jumps at his throat, grabs his collar, and her forehead collides with his face.

There's blood splattered on her skin, Sherlock's blood, warm and red and sticky, and she angrily wipes it away. Nausea shakes her. It reminds of the fall. The sickening sound of his skull shattering on the pavement. Blood and brain leaking on the ground.
All of this was fake.
She wants to retch.

I don't understand, Sherlock says.
No, of course, he doesn't. He never did. That's what makes him different.
I said I'm sorry. Isn't that what you're supposed to do?
Not enough, dear. Not enough.

She turns his back on him to call a cab. He can go to hell. She doesn't care anymore. She's too tired for that.
Gosh, she hears Sebastian say. You don't know anything about human nature, do you?
She wants to sleep. She needs Sebastian's warmth. His steady heartbeat against her ear. The proof that she's alive, and that she's not in Hell, Sherlock's ghost taunting her until madness.

Holy shit.
Did she just leave Thorin Oakenshield alone with Smaug? Because they're likely going to slaughter each other, even if she is just a few feet away. Sebastian seems to take the thing surprisingly well until now, but he's the kind of person who can stay still for an awfully long time and then explode.

She swirls on her heels.

The two being she loves most in the world, or rather hates at this instant, are discussing calmly, like two very old friends.
That looks a bit surreal.
She can't remember any friendship between them. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But then again...
It's because of her, isn't it?
Sebastian doesn't want to hurt her, and probably neither does Sherlock.

Sebastian, she calls softly.

She's so exhausted she can't even linger on how unnatural this is. She just want to go. To flee. Once again. She'll have to face him later, eventually. Not this time.

Can you believe his nerve? she asks, bewildered, once she's safely tucked against her soulmate, on the backseat of the cab that drives them away, the lump in her throat softly tightening.
Sebastian smiles, watching the detective's form getting smaller and smaller by the window. It's more a smirk than a smile, actually.
I like him, he says.
I like him, he repeats, eyes returning to the window while he wraps his strong arms around her.

Small drops of rain have started to appear on the glass, shining under the londonian nocturn lights.
It's beautiful.
It just looks a bit too much like tears for her liking.

The pale morning sun is warming the Mountain's side when she decides it is time for her to leave. She can't stay, though the others wouldn't mind if she did. But she can't.
She can't.

Living in memories would do her no good. She would drown in it, letting herself sink rather than swim.
Every stone, every single statue and arch and stair and sculpture in that cursed place bear Thorin engraved in its core, and it's too much for her to handle.

Besides, what woud she do in a Mountain, without any valuable reason to acclimate herself to it?
She's a Hobbit.
She needs sun, warmth, azure sky above her head, green hills and green grass under her toes, flowers and running rivers.
Even if the the sun seems tarnished every time she looks at it. Even if the sky looks grey. Even if the grass doesn't seem that soft anymore.
And isn't that what she has always wanted anyway, throughout all this awfully long journey? To go home? Back to her armchair and her books and her garden and her trees and her west-farthing china?
Isn't that Thorin's last wish?

So she holds back tears, straps her backpack on her shoulders, baths her reddened eyes in a failed attempt to make them look less puffy, and sneaks outside. She doesn't go to the crypts. Her goodbyes have long been done there, and it would hurt too much.

Only old Balin is waiting for her at the gates, as if he had known what she was planning to do. She can't blame him for that. He's already blaming himself too much.
In the sunlight, he looks wearier, his face more wrinkled, and his beard whiter. It's probably true. They're all older now. As if they had been given all the years the deads will never live.

There is to be a great feast tonight. Songs will be sung, tales will be told, and Thorin Oakenshield will pass into legend.
Feasts, parties, feasts, parties again. That's what has been going on for a few weeks. The Mountain is litteraly shaking with joy and songs and laughs. They've lost a King, alright, and the last direct members of Durin's line, but the Dragon has been slain, and the stronghold of theur ancestors have been recovered. Theses are reasons to celebrate. The mourning times are over, except for a few people who have had a great part in this and are now isolated voices in the cheering crowd.
She finds it unbearable.

A legend.
She laughs bitterly.
She doesn't want him a
legend. She wants him alive, and safe, and happy. She wants him a King and she wants him a good one.
Was that too much to ask for ?
It doesn't even matter if she's not a part of that bright, now forever gone future.

Dain will be, and already is, a great king. But it's just not the same. It will never be.

I know that's how you must honor him, but to me, he was never that. He was…to me…he was…
And she can't say it. She can't. It's too late for that anyway.

She wonders if old Balin knows. Probably. He's got a black mark on his wrist, after all. His soulmate died the day the dragon came, before he even had the chance to meet them. Dwalin told her.
It's so easy, to have one's heart broken. She wonders how many time the older Dwarf's has been shattered. Dwarrows have such long lifespan. There's so much that can happen.
She doesn't dare to ask.

His eyes are shining with unshed tears, and suddely she can't bear looking at him anymore. Else she might choke and sob and wail and he won't be able to sooth her. No one can.
Her sorrow is her own, just as his sorrow is his own.

Will you tell the others I said goodbye?
His painful smile isn't comforting at all.
You can tell them yourself.

They're here, indeed, in line behind her, her dear, uncomplete company. It feels like being amputed. One can still feel the missing limb.
Her smile is fake, but they deserve at least that.

If any of you are ever passing Bag-End…
Of course, they won't. It's a long, long journey, to the Shire. But she's a proper Hobbit lady who never forgets her good manners.
...tea is at four. There's plenty of it, you are welcome any time.
Her Dwarrows chuckle and bow. Bofur is crying softly. She wants to hug them and make everything better. But she doesn't.
Uh…don't bother knocking.
Lame attempt to cheer them a bit, to show that she's fine even if she feels like she's dying inside. But it works.

They let her go, and their teary-eyed smiles are the last glimpse she catches of them before walking away toward Gandalf who is waiting for her, sitting on a broken statue, silently blowing smoke rings toward the sky, calm and staring with a blank, meaningless expression. Somehow, she wants to hate him, to display such little emotion, such cold indifference.
But she can't.
He is so old, has lived so many years, so many lives, that he is propably used to see people dying around him, of old age or cold steel. He forged himself an armor that doesn't show anything, and never strips of it. Not even for those he calls friends. They die and fade as everybody else. Perhaps even faster.

Shall we go, then? he asks.
She takes a deep breath. She feels strange, as if something like a string or a fishing hook was stitched in her nape, pulling her backward, toward the Mountain, tearing her apart. She takes another step, and the string snaps, ripping half of her soul, and it's not supposed to hurt, but it does.

Bilbo Baggins throws herself into the wizard's arms, buries her face in his thick grey robe that smells of Old Toby smoke, of home, and weeps.

She weeps on the road, from Dale to Mirkwood and from Mirkwood to Beorn's house and from Beorn's house to Rivendell and from Rivendell to the Shire, and when they reach the Shire, she can't weep anymore. Her eyes and her heart, or what remains of it, are as dry as the deserts of Harad.

Gandalf warns her about the Ring. Her pretty, innocent golden Ring. He calls it a Ring of Power, and say it is dangerous.
Oh, is it?
But everything is, Gandalf, she wants to retort. The world is dangerous, and so am I.
She has managed to destroy everything she had built, after all.

Until now, the Ring has proven itself useful. And how in Erù did he find out about it? She has thought she had been careful enough.
Apparently not.
Suddenly, Gandalf is a very, very annoying person.

You needn't worry about that ring, it fell out of my pocket during the battle. I lost it.
That's what she tells him. End of discussion. She doesn't know why she lies, because the small golden band is safely tucked with her pipe and her last, crumpled leaves of Old Toby, but she does.
Blasted wizard. His blue eyes are shining strangely, and of course he doesn't believe her, but he leaves it be.
You're a very fine person, Miss Baggins, and I'm very fond of you. But you're only quite a little fella in a wide world after all.
Bilbo doesn't want to know what he means, and if she has to feel insulted or not.

Farewell, my friend. May the blessings of the Valar be upon you, he says, walking back to his horse, staff in hand, leaving her standing in the middle of the road that leads home.
Bilbo snorts.
The blessings of the Valar.
He must be kidding. The Valar don't bless anyone. And he's a fool if he thinks that they'll watch over her as he requests. The truth is, they just don't care.

Bilbo used to pray.
She has prayed when her father has went in the winter, and her father has never came back alive.
She has prayed when her mother had started to fade, and her mother has faded.
She has prayed when Thorin has started to show the first signs of goldsickness, and Thorin has gone mad.
She has prayed before the battle, the battle they call of the Five Armies, and Thorin, Fili and Kili have died.

Give them back, take me instead, she has prayed upon their cooling corpses.
No answer.

Bilbo Baggins has lost faith when the stone coffin has covered Thorin's pale face.
She doesn't pray anymore. And if someone asks why, she'll tell the truth. Assumed choice. Because people deserve to know. And those who will disagree can go to Morgoth.
She hasn't tried to pray Morgoth, and maybe she should have. Maybe he would have listened. And the green hills of the Shire would still be green, and the sky would still be blue, and the sun would still be bright, and the world wouldn't be that dull, ashen grey.

It takes her a few weeks, short meetings that involves screaming and yelling, mostly from her part, a kidnapping and a failed terrorist attack to forgive Sherlock. Or a least, tell him that she forgives him. Forgiving isn't that difficult, but admitting it is humiliating.
And Sebastian isn't helpful, during these few weeks of bitter incertitude, with his more or less awkwards attempts to make things better between her and her now former best friend.

He has no valuable reasons to, after all.
Dwarrows are a resentful kin, and Sebastian may not be a Dwarf anymore, but he's certainly as stubborn as he used to be.
His behaviour is quite the opposite of what she had expected, and less than subtle, but he's trying. She can't say that she minds it.
He's smart enough to understand that the past is the past, and that what is done is done, and Sherlock can't harm him anymore.

Are you gonna see him again?
He's sitting cross-legged on the bed, and she's cutting her hair, and he flinches every time the scissors slice a new strands. Dwarrows aren't overly fond of scissors, razors, or any other device that involves hair cutting.
His own hair is short. Apparently, it has been a decision from his youth, public the display of his shame, his punishment for having hurt her in their previous life, as if the brown mark wasn't enough. Since amends have been made between them, he's letting them grow long again, and they curl on his forehead and around his ears.
She thinks it's a bit extreme, but well. Long or short, she likes his silken black strands anyway. As long as he doesn't shave himself bald.

No, she sighs. I'm going to work.
Oh. And after work, are you gonna see him again?
She rolls her eyes.

I dunno, he says, letting himself fall into the pillows. Six months of bristly kisses for me, and then her Nibs turns up ...
I don't do this for Sherlock Holmes, she snarls, and a new blond strand falls.
You should put that on a T-shirt!
She looks at him in the mirror. His blue eyes are laughing. The prick is poking fun at her.
Shut up
, she says.

The last strand is cut. She considers her handwork. It's a bit messy, but it will do. Long hair doesn't really suit her anyway.
Or what? Sebastian asks cheekily, lazily stretching his arms above his head. His shirt is slightly open on his wide chest, revealing a dark patch of very attractive chesthair.
Or I'll marry you.
It takes her a few seconds to realize the implication of what she has just said.

Sebastian grins.
Mahal, I love you, he exhales, and pulls her toward him to show her exactly how much.
Still, he says between breathless kisses, I think you should see him.

The Shire doesn't feels like home anymore. Because home is where the heart is, and her heart is buried far away beneath a mountain.
That doesn't mean she'll let the vultures plunder her smial.
dare they?

She's not dead, presumed or otherwise. Well, technically. She doesn't feel like her heart is beating anymore, but she still breathes, and Bag-End is hers, and there is no way that she has helped thirteen Dwarrows to reclaim their home only to be despossessed of hers.

As expected, Lobelia is behind this mess.
Who are you? she asks.
In her green dress and ridiculous hat, she looks like an ugly toad. Thorin would have laughed.
You know perfectly who I am, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Bilbo snarls, and yanks back her precious silver spoons.
She suddenly wishes Lobelia had been an Orc. No one would have protested of she had gutted her like a fish with Sting. She deserves at least a good punch in the face, and she'll get it, but later.
Bag-End first.

She produces the contract, silently cursing the living hell that are buraucracy and juridical problems, and she can feel the crowd's disappointment when she is officially declared undeceased.
Curse them.
Curse them
The only one that looks happy is Hamfast. Bless him.

But no one protests, because she looks dangerous, with her wild hair and exotic clothes, her skinny frame, her hollowed cheeks and her bright little elvish sword.
My reputation is definitely ruined, she internally sighs.
It's not as if she cared.

Who is this person you pledged your service to? the auctioner asks. Thorin Oakenshield?
Hearing his name hurts.
Who was he, indeed? Soulmate? King? Lover? He's never really be any of thoses things. No. He was just...
Bilbo Baggins closes her eyes, and her shoulders slumps down in defeat.
He…he was my friend.

As it turns out, Sebastian is right.
She cannot do as if nothing had changed.
The fact that she attacks a patient at work and probably traumatizes him for life, thinking it it Sherlock in disguise, is certainly not helping.
And she discovers quite abruptly that not being involved with Sherlock anymore doesn't mean being spared the collateral damages of his cases.

She almost dies, twice in the same week. It's a bit overhelming.

The first time, she's walking in the street, and then someone sticks a needle in the side of her neck.
Shit, she thinks, and blacks out.

When she awakes, she burns.

She burns, or starts to burn, and she doesn't understand how. She chokes on ashes and smoke in the dark, unable to see the flames, unable to move, unable to escape.
Somewhere, children are laughing.
Panic is rising, crushing her, flooding her sense like poison.
She's going to die, and die the most horrible fathomable way.

It reminds her of the forges of Erebor, of running for what had seemed an eternity through dark corridors, fear curling on itself like a snake inside her stomach. She remembers roars in the darkness, unbearable heat in her back, and the metallic smell of molten gold.

But this time, it won't be like Bofur once said.
Flash of light, searing pain, and then, poof, you're nothing more than a pile of ash.
This time, the flames are no dragon fire, and will devour her slowly, and she'll feel herself crumbling to charred bones.
This time, she can't run.
Can't shield herself.
Can't hide.
Can't crawl.
Can't escape.
And the last thing she'll hear will be the children laughing. It feels like they are mocking her. Though, probably not.

She tries to scream, but smoke burns her throat, fills her lungs, and the only thing that escapes her is a pitiful whimper.
She tries to move, but it feels like her limbs are made of stone and her brain is swimming in fog. Her neck hurts. What the hell was in that blasted needle?

The laughs turns to screams.
Or not.
Through the creaking and hissing of the flames and the heavy drumming of her heartbeat, she's not sure.

Someone's screaming her name. Far, far, far away. Someone. Or maybe two. Are they burning too?
John. John. That's her name, and that's all what will remain of her when it's over, when she's consumed and burn and melted in the pyre.
Hopefully Sherlock won't drop the funeral urn and scatter its content, herself, on the floor.

She wants to laugh, and wonder why she does, because it's definitely not the moment. Must be the drug, still flooding in her veins, making her drowsy.
She closes her eyes and lets herself drift. Perhaps, if she gives into the drug, she won't feel it. She doesn't want to. She doesn't. She can't. She...

Cold air hisses on her skin, so cold it hurts and she almost misses the deadly heat.
A litany of John, John, John, you're okay safe, John, John, love, John.
Warm, big calloused hands cradling her head, and still the children laughing.

Everything is blurred, and the only thing that's clear is Sebastian's tear-filled blue eyes hovering toward her, and the stary sky above his shaggy head.
And then Sherlock's shadow obstructs the sky, and she frowns in annoyance.
Move, she wants to say, but she coughs instead, pain erupting in her lungs and in her throat.

Relief washes over her and it's too much and she scrunches her eyes shut and cries, face buried in Sebastian's chest. He rocks her like a weeping child, Sherlock awkwardly standing behind him.
The children that were laughing aren't laughing anymore. They stare at them, eyes wide with terror and mouths hanging open.

Sebastian picks her up, bridal style, and calls for a cab.

Sherlock doesn't follow. Behind the former Dwarf's shoulder, she can see his dark silhouette in front of the pyre.
Guy Fawkes.
It's Guy Fawkes night, how could she forget?
And Sherlock watches it burn, and she wants to scream.

Sebastian gives her a shower, carefully washes her face that is grey from ashes and dirt and sweat and holds her tight, that night, his huge body wrapped around hers, and she somehow manages to fall asleep.
She dreams of fire, and wakes up screaming, but he's there and sooths her, and she begs him to never let her go.
Never, he vows.

Three days later, she's about to die again, and Sebastian isn't there. There's only Sherlock, and he can't save them. Not this time.

Later, she apologizes.

The words are ripped from her lungs, rushed, scorching her tongue, because she's terrified, she thinks she's going to die in that empty wagon, blown up in a single second with the Parliament, that she'll never see Sebastian again, and that he will not even have her ashes to mourn on.
And because Sherlock is begging for it, eyes wet with tears, and it's disturbing. Maybe he's afraid to die too, for real this time.
Who wouldn't be?

He's changed, since he came back. He's less reckless. Shows signs that he cares. He brought Molly on a case. Maybe he is even planning on a more regular basis, but she's engaged. To an idiot, according to Sebastian and the most common opinion, but that doesn't really change anything.

No wonder Sherlock is trying so much to earn John's trust back.

So she forgives, because she's afraid it's too late for that.

Of course, it's a trap.
The bomb isn't going to explode, they aren't going to die, and Sherlock is a manipulative bitch. But she's somehow relieved.
She wouldn't have said it otherwise, stubborn as she is.

Things go far better after that. She slaps him for scaring her to death, but in the end it's alright. That's not something he hasn't done before.

The responsible for the failed bombing is arrested. Lord Coward. That's his name. Fitting.
She doesn't get to punch him in the face, and in the end, that's the only thing she regrets. He has somehow given her the occasion to fix the mess in her life, after all. She should probably thank him. Doesn't mean she will.

Sebastian and Sherlock haven't killed each other yet, and they have saved her together. Because they care.
For her.
The thief and the liar.
Except that she isn't just that anymore.

Maybe she can have both of them in her life without going mad.

She'll see.

So, two or three more chapters to go, and then hiatus until season 4. I might write something for the Special as well...