Disclaimer: I do not own The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or any associated characters or concepts. Consider it disclaimed.
Summary: On the way to the Undying Lands, Billa is eaten by a time-traveling sea monster.
The sea was smooth and glassy, untouched by the pleasant breeze that whispered through the air and stirred Billa's sparse white locks. The air hummed with quiet, excited anticipation as the elves, Gandalf, and even Frodo whispered eagerly about what was to come when they reached their destination. They were sailing to the Undying lands, and after years of suffering and decay, they would finally be at peace.
Billa was set apart from the others, and she watched them with eyes that were seeing clearly for the first time in decades. She watched Frodo especially, thinking of the young, blue-eyed fauntling who had come to her after her darkest years, and filled her home with laughter and lessons. Her heart ached at the differences between the playful, thoughtful lad she had left on her eleventy-first birthday, and the world-weary, dull-eyed hobbit who had come for her years later in Rivendell.
By the time Frodo had come for her at Rivendell, just a few weeks ago, Billa's old, old mind had been shuttered and dark, wandering in memory. Her bones ached and creaked, her vision was dark and blurry, and her too-old ears had made the beautiful elf songs sound dim and far away. Here on the ship, however, something about the crisp salty air or the approaching destination had renewed her, and she was strong enough to stand by herself.
She stood on the deck, gripping the railing with skeletal, liver-spotted hands and staring out into the silver sea. All the other passengers on the elegant vessel had their eyes fixed firmly, eagerly forward, but Billa didn't. She looked back.
Her mind was clear and sharp for the first time in many years, and as she reflected on her life, she found herself full of regret. She had made so many mistakes, in her life, and seen so much death and sorrow. She'd had over eighty years to imagine what she could have, should have done differently and even now as she was passing out of the mortal world, her heart was heavy.
She had done so much wrong, even when her intentions were pure. She had in her well-meaning presumption or self-satisfied idleness made messes that others had suffered or died to clean up. Although her mind told her that she ought to look forward as the others did towards the Undying Lands, Billa's heart could not bear to look away from the mortal land of her home.
She had lost so many friends, there. Balin, Ori, Oin in the Mines of Moria. Oh, how she'd wept when Frodo had told her of their fates! Fili and Kili, the young dwarves she'd known only for a few months, but had cared for almost as deeply as she'd cared for her own heir, Frodo. Their loss had pained her deeply.
And... Thorin. She sighed heavily. If there was one thing that she had bungled from the very beginning, it was her friendship with Thorin. And then, just as things were starting to look up between them, there had come disaster, and then betrayal, and then death. Their disaster, and then her betrayal, and then... his death.
Billa felt a tear sliding down her cheek, and angrily dashed it away. As if a dam had broke, more tears followed, and her vision swam as she sniffled wetly. She lifted one hand from the railing to mop at her eyes.
It was, in fact, because she was crying so much that she did not see the sea stirring suspiciously, nor the green, reptilian hide slipping insidiously in and out of the water and circling the ship. The others were gathered near the middle of the deck and looking only to each other or the distant horizon, and there was no one to shout a warning.
Then the serpent reared up, towering above the railing with yellow eyes glinting and razor fangs glistening in the silver sunlight before it struck faster than lightning. The shipped rocked horribly and one of the elves screamed in fear.
With that single movement, Billa Baggins had been swallowed whole.
Frodo gaped in horror at the leviathan that had swallowed his aunt down like a bite-sized appetizer. Gandalf glared, his hand tightening around his staff as he took up a defensive position in front of the last hobbit onboard. The elves unsheathed weapons they had not thought they would need, swiping and stabbing at the creature, thwarting her lunges and and leaping away from her snapping jaws.
It was Lord Elrond who finally scored a blow, gouging out the eye of the rare beast and it reared back, screeching in pain. The sea glowed green for a moment, and the serpent dove down into the darkness, waves roiling and rocking the ship fiercely. Everyone ran to the railing, straining their eyes to find the sea creature who had stolen their friend. It was in vain. The sea settled back into silver, with nary a ripple in sight.
The creature had vanished. Billa Baggins was gone.
The serpent dove into the timestream, away from the hunters who took her eye. She was one of only a few such serpents, whose appetites were determined too large to be confined to a linear time. They were magnificent creatures, allowed to rove through the centuries and millenia to find enough to eat. In her pain and raging fury, she dove deeper than she meant and a trip that was only supposed to be a few years spanned, in fact, a few decades. Finally, she turned and started swimming up, towards the light. She cautiously surfaced, fouling the silver water with her green blood as the stars glittered coldly in the dark night sky.
Of the hobbit in the leviathon's stomach: her heart had been pounding far too wildly throughout this whole adventure and she finally died when her old, over-worked heart gave out. However, the large old soul that was Billa's did not die, as Billa Baggins was alive and well in this time, and her younger soul was tied firmly to her body. They would move on together, or not at all. The old soul, sensing the sameness of self and a healthy, living anchor across the water was swiftly, implacably drawn towards home.