Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or actors from The Hobbit. Everything belongs to the great and powerful J.R.R. Tolkien.

Chapter XIX


"Owwww! What's in that damn stuff?"

The oldest prince of Erebor was tucked away in his bedrooms, stripped down to a flimsy pair of underpants and nothing else for his medical evaluation. His younger brother and Bilbo were sitting on either side of his bed, both holding down Fíli's twitching limbs while Óin applied some of his salves to the open wound. Poor Fíli had become even more pale after they'd reached his room, skin becoming clammy and heart rate increasing as the first stages of infection set in. Thankfully, the traitor's blade had not been poisoned with a toxic agent, which had been Óin's worst fear.

"Did you see how rusty that blade was?" said Óin, his fingers carefully picking at severely damaged tissue with a pair of tweezers. "Nastier than an orc's blade, it was. And the chances of you contracting lockjaw are very high, but the faster I clean out this wound with my salve, the less likely you are to develop the worst symptoms. Now hold still, I've almost finished the debridement. Or would you rather I use the maggots?"

Eyes widening in horror, Fíli shook his head. "No, no, I like tweezers. They're not squirmy and wormy and maggoty and…"

"Here, take another sip," said Bilbo, holding the pain tonic to Fíli's mouth. "Just a lil' bit, there you go. It'll take some of that nasty edge off."

"Why couldn't I be knocked out again?"

"Because you've lost far too much blood for my liking," answered Óin. He had an unpleasant looking set of scalpels in his hands now. "I'd prefer that you ingest some food or warm drink before we let you fall asleep. It'll help replenish some of your lost strength and fight off the infection."

"Fíli?!"

The Dwarf-King came bursting through the bedroom doors, something that he'd been doing more and more often as of late. Several members of the Royal Council could be heard in the corridor, all of them demanding clarification from the harried King about reconstructive damages, retribution, and the possibility of war with the home kingdom of the traitors. With a flick of his wrist, Balin slammed the door shut and then gave it a rather disdainful glare.

"Like a bunch of babbling toddlers, the whole lot of them," muttered the elderly dwarf. "Mahâl save us all from inborn stupidity."

"What happened?" demanded Thorin, stopping at the foot of his nephew's bed to examine the open wound. It was angry and swollen red, Óin trying his hardest to remove all the damaged tissues in and around it. "Who did this?!"

"Bilbo skewered him like a wild boar!" said Kíli with a cruel smile.

"It was quite the sight, watching a small hobbit stab straight through a full grown dwarf like that," crowed Bofur upon his arrival. Frodo was holding his hand and walking beside him, newly cleaned and clothed in a fresh pair of pajamas. Rupert, as usual, was a constant presence in his drooping arms. "Don't reckon I'd like to see it again, though. I'd much prefer our hobbit-y burglar remain just what he likes being, all paternal and garden-making and cooking extraordinaire of Erebor."

"Cupcakes?"

"Not for at least a few days, Fíli," said Bilbo, readying the razor blade to shave off all of the hair on the prince's injured thigh. "We need to get some hardier foods and warm liquids into you first, but after that, you can have all the icy cupcakes that your dwarfy lil' heart desires."

Óin nodded in grim satisfaction at the irritated wound. "I've cleared away as much of the damaged tissues as I can, but infection's still a possibility. We'll have to make sure nothing gets into it. Oh, and you can start now, Bilbo."

"I feel bald already," Fíli grumbled. "A dwarf with no leg hair…"

"Button up, you whiny whelp," said the healer. "He'll only shave the hair directly around the wound site. You'll still look pretty for the lasses, so stop your belly-aching. Is my box of salves here yet?"

"Glóin's getting them," assured Bofur. He was sitting on a plush couch in front of the fireplace, Frodo sleepily watching the miner whittle away at yet another toy for him. It was an extremely endearing sight to the older hobbit. "You'll be able to hear him bashing his way through all those grey-beards out in the hall."

"Okay, Thorin, Kíli?" called Óin, gesturing to the prince's limbs. "I'm gonna need you to hold him down while I rub some of this into the lesion. It'll sting something fierce, but this salve works wonders in preventing lockjaw. Now hold still…"

The affect was immediate, a scream of agony ripping from Fíli's throat as he tried to squirm away from the burning salve. His uncle and brother held him down, muscles in their arms and legs straining as the oldest prince tried to kick them off of him. Bilbo himself moved to the side, eyes shifting between Fíli and the chair where Bofur was attempting to distract Frodo from the prince's cries of pain.

"Did you have to bring him here?"

Bofur shrugged with a sad smile. "He was fine during the bubble bath and when I treated his head wound, but he refused to sleep without you there. And then I accidentally told him that Thorin and you were over here and he ran out the door on me. Charged right through the council members, too."

"Awww, my poor lil' Frodo," cooed Bilbo, picking the little boy up from Bofur's lap and cuddling him close with a kiss atop the head. "This truly has been a dreadful day, hasn't it?"

Frodo just grumbled at him.

"Aye, it most certainly was," agreed Bofur, tongue sticking out in concentration as he carved something intricate into his wooden…oliphant, maybe? "I'm mightily hoping a certain brother of mine doesn't truly decide to make roasted traitor stew. I don't think any of the local bears would be amenable to it."

Bilbo blinked in horror. "Wait, wait, Bombur's actually going to make a stew out of them? That's barbaric!"

"Well, he won't if they confess and spill their guts," said Bofur with a frightening amount of nonchalance. "Thorin will deal with them after that, but maybe the bears and wolves really would like some extra sustenance before hibernation. No matter how nasty it may be taste-wise."

"Valar save me from raging, sadistic dwarves," murmured Bilbo, wandering back over to the bed again. "I'm going to have nightmares for the rest of my life thanks to the last few…hours? Days? I don't even know anymore."

"He's passed out," sighed Óin. "Poor lad."

"Will he be alright? Being unconscious with the blood loss, that is?" asked Bilbo, tucking Frodo's face into his neck so that he wouldn't see the open wound. "I've heard a lot of bad stories about people not waking back up."

"A half-hour ago, I would've been very concerned," explained the healer. "But at this point, Fíli being unconscious is mostly a boon, both for us and himself. I'll be able to fully treat the wound without having to worry about his pain level and his body can begin fighting off the infection that's bound to come."

Kíli was off to the side of them, retelling the whole assassination story to Thorin, grand gestures of his arms showing what the hobbit had done to protect his older brother and kill the traitor. Bilbo tried to interject when the young dwarf embellished some parts of the incident, but Kíli would have none of it and dramatically waved off any denial the hobbit attempted to put forth. Sighing in exasperation, Bilbo wished that Kíli would not describe his actions in such vicious, gory detail. Quite frankly, the hobbit would've been happy to never speak or even think about the attack again.

"He was going to hurt Fíli," reasoned Bilbo, flushing under the intense stare that Thorin was giving him. "And, well…I had to do something. Honestly, I'm surprised my sword actually went…umm, through him. Like, yes, like that. Thank you for that lovely demonstration, little bird."

"Hey!"

Thorin's eyes narrowed. "How did you learn about that?"

"Well, you see," stuttered Bilbo, "I'm not quite sure how it all began, but—"

"He's been exchanging letters with mother," interrupted Kíli, standing between the two of them now with a wide smirk. "She even told him about Fíli's nickname, too. Very good sign. Our mother's a great judge of character."

"From one letter?"

"Depends on your definition of letter," drawled the youngest prince. "But she has all of her information on very good authority. Very, very good." The brunette was inching away from his uncle at this point. "But she's not very happy with you."

The King looked indignant. "About what?"

"Various…things…"

"Really," said Thorin, his arms crossed and eyes fixed on his nephew. "And what would those things be?"

"I'm not allowed to disclose that. Mother's orders."

Bilbo glanced between the uncle and nephew, more than little curious about what Thorin's sister could be so frustrated with him about. Of course, there was the usual, like how Thorin's unhealthy obsession with that stupid Arkenstone had nearly gotten both of her sons killed and started a multinational war between the elves, dwarves, and men. The hobbit could very easily understand her anger and frustration towards those horrid events, since Bilbo himself still felt a little miffed about them, too.

"Uh huh, well, we'll see about that when—"

"All done," said Óin from his place at Fíli's bedside. "It'll have to be checked at least once every two hours, but my poultice should do quite fine for keeping away some of the worst infection. Here, Bilbo, I'll show you how to properly make one, in case I'm not available for various reasons in the coming days."

"Of course, I'll be right over," said Bilbo. He walked up to Thorin and very gently moved Frodo into the Dwarf-King's confused arms, the sleepy halfling snuffling around a little bit before settling down again. "And look at that, not a single fuss. He probably feels safer with you than with me."

"Awww, see, he really does like you, Uncle. I told you so."

"Stop teasing, Kíli, and go take a bath," ordered Bilbo on his return to the bed. "It smells like soot and wet dwarf in here. Or would you prefer a sponge bath like your older brother will be receiving?"

The youth was already in the washroom when Bilbo turned around. Nodding with a satisfied smile, the hobbit turned back to Óin and the injured prince. The King gaped at him in surprise.

"Good boys. They just need a firm hand and the right threats, is all."

"The entertainment has been so delightful around here as of late," said Balin in the background to Bofur. "And I do believe our young Ori might very well be writing a book on it."

"Indeed, he is," replied Bofur. "Very slow going, but an interesting read. The lad agreed to translate it into Khuzdul for Bifur once it's finished."

"Thorin will have a chicken when he finds out about it. A very large chicken."

"Aye, that I believe."

Bilbo spent the next half-hour with Óin at Fíli's bedside, carefully going over the various treatments they'd be applying to the oldest prince. Lockjaw was fairly rare in the race of dwarves, most of them possessing a natural resistance to the disease that plagued humans and elves alike. However, it wasn't unheard of for a particularly filthy wound to result in the severe muscle spasms that were so characteristic of the terrible disease. Fíli would have to be watched closely in the coming days.

"Here, Thorin, I'll take Frodo for you," said Bilbo once the healer and himself had finished their demonstrations and discussions. "Kíli's just finished with his bath and you, well, you've got soot and…blood in your hair. There's not much we can do here until Fíli awakens and I'm sure the prisoners will keep for the night."

"Bilbo's trying to politely say that you stink, Uncle," snickered Kíli from his spot at the bottom of his brother's large bed. "And you've got a sticker bush bulb stuck on the left braid of your hair."

"I think Kíli's gone slap-happy," muttered Bilbo, gently placing Frodo down next to the giggling dwarf. He then draped a knitted blanket over the pair of brunette youths, a warm smile spreading across his face at the sight. "Could you keep an eye on him for me, little bird? I feel like a troll sneezed boogies all over me again."

"Nah, you were grosser back then," mumbled Kíli from beneath the blanket. "I've got the pointy-eared munchkin. And Rupert. We're good."

"Balin?"

"Everything's handled, laddie," assured the elderly dwarf. "The traitors will keep through the night. Although they might have a few more holes in them come morning. It won't hurt to grab a few hours of shut-eye, though. And that includes you, Thorin. All of the prisoners can wait until tomorrow for their punishments."

The King grumbled as he disappeared into Fíli's washroom.

"I'll be back in a few minutes," said Bilbo, smiling at the influence that Balin had over the stubborn King. "Just need to bathe and get a change of—"

"Don't worry, laddie," interrupted Balin. "Bofur and I will be here the whole time. And believe it or not, I've actually been around these two since their births. Like you said, all they need is a firm hand."

"And good threats," added Bofur.

True to his word, Bilbo returned less than a half-hour later. Dressed in his pajamas and favorite night robe, the hobbit chuckled inwardly at the sight of five sleeping dwarves and one little hobbit. Óin, Bofur, and Balin were all sound asleep on the plush couches in front of the fireplace, papers and salves and tonics scattered about the tables that lined the walls. Retrieving a few more blankets, Bilbo draped them over the dwarves and then went over to the bed.

"Shhh, it's just me, Kíli," whispered the hobbit. The youngest prince was gazing up at him through droopy eyes, Bilbo instinctively reaching out to smooth down his wild hair. "Go back to sleep. I'm checking on your brother now."

Kíli just snuffled and burrowed back into the blankets.

And then a thick arm was suddenly wrapped around Bilbo's chest. "I don't think I'll ever be able to thank you enough for everything you've done for them. My nephews, my heirs, would be gone if it wasn't for you."

"I would die for them," admitted Bilbo, tenderly fingering Fíli's moustache braid. "They're amazing, silly, rambunctious boys and I love them for it. This whole day was so long and terrible, I just couldn't…"

Thorin's arm tightened. "Tell me."

"I'm a hobbit, Thorin. I'm not a dwarf. We hobbits don't fight and brawl and cut off fingers and threaten to turn our criminals into stew. It's just not how we do things in the Shire. We like our gardens and food and doilies and never doing anything that might disturb the peace. Oh, and we like to eat our seven meals a day, which I've been missing quite consistently over the past few years. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins had the utter nerve to call me scrawny last time she saw me!"

"Are you unhappy?" whispered the Dwarf-King.

"About today's events? Yes, very much so," said Bilbo, fingers working at a knot in Fíli's golden mane. "About living here in general? No, I'm not. I can't even imagine a life without everyone here anymore. I do miss Bag End, but I'd miss these halls and these two goofy boys even more." He paused, uncertain about his thought. "And I'd miss you."

If possible, Thorin's arm tightened even more, his bigger and hairier hand joining Bilbo's in his attempts to untangle Fíli's filthy, twisted hair. They really did need to give him a good sponge bath soon.

"I reacted terribly when Frodo first went missing. Too shocked to attack any of the traitors like the mothers did," confessed the hobbit. "But seeing that…that bastard charge after Fíli with a knife like that? It must've been the straw that broke the oliphant's back. I don't even remember attacking him, to be truthful."

The King's warmth was addictive, Bilbo concluded, because he would've been an absurdly happy hobbit if he could've just stayed there for the rest of his life. Thorin was a furnace at his back, one arm wrapped around Bilbo's chest while the other reached out to soothe his nephew's troubled brow. The soft snores of Frodo and Kíli could be heard just to the left of them, both of them snuggled beneath one of Ori's knitted blankets. To Bilbo, these four people were his family now.

"Would you just kiss already?"

A pair of hazy blue eyes were watching them, Fíli's chapped lips curled into a tiny smile at the adults above him. The oldest prince even had the gall to snicker when Bilbo's pointy ears flushed bright red at the tips. And with the excuse of having pain tonics in his system, Fíli was going to speak what was on his mind about this whole starry-eyed ordeal, damn the consequences.

"We like him, mother likes him, and everyone else likes him. Well, except maybe the council members, but who gives a damned hoot what they think. And he'd make a great, fantastic, amazing, vanilla-cupcake-baking uncle," declared Fíli. He was pointing at both of them, which would've been more serious if the prince was actually wearing more than a puny pair of underpants. "And Uncle's been trying to court you for weeks now, but he's been going about it all wrong and he won't read the damn book we found for him on hobbits and… and…"

Bilbo glanced up at the King after a half-minute, but Thorin seemed to be hiding in the hobbit's drying curls now. Deciding that he'd have to be the bigger adult here, Bilbo leaned forward and gently prompted, "And what, Fíli?"

"I don't feel good."

And then the oldest prince vomited on the both of them.


Lockjaw is another name for tetanus, in case anyone was wondering. And there you go, pain meds made Fíli spill the beans about the whole situation. He's sick of cultural differences and stubbornness getting between him and his regular supply of cupcakes. I almost feel sorry for Bilbo and Thorin, having to deal with the human equivalent of two teenagers and a pre-schooler. Plus, all three of them are boys, which makes it even worse.