Okay, so… I'm back. It's been a year since I've started this story, and I'm sad that I've gone for so long without updating, but my life has been crazy busy.

Anyway, with the new Hobbit movie to encourage me and winter break to give me time, I've decided to revive this story. o3o Hopefully my writing style hasn't changed that much…though if it has, I'm hoping it's for the better. (College writing classes have to be worth something.)

So now, without any further ado…a disclaimer! I don't own the Hobbit or any of these characters. (Except for Jango, he's mine.) Please enjoy! (And try to ignore my little mistakes… ; -; It may take me a chapter or two to get back into the swing of things.)

Chapter Eighteen - Healing Touch

The slow walk back to the small company's rooms was perhaps the longest of Bilbo's life. His eyes were trained on Thorin's movements, even as the Dwarf-king's steps became surer and his back straighter; the little Hobbit's mind was in overdrive and coursing with remnants of adrenaline, and he was determined to protect his companion regardless of the cost. Thankfully, his vigilance was unnecessary and the pair were soon creeping back into the room Thorin and Gandalf had shared. (Or rather, Thorin creeped, while Bilbo stomped up to Gandalf's bed with a passion rarely seen when a worried Hobbit was not involved.)

"Gandalf!" The Hobbit's hands came to rest on his hips as he glared at the bleary-eyed wizard before him. "Wake up! Wake up this instant!" Anxious alertness had flashed to anger in a blink of Bilbo's eye, and Gandalf, who was quick to read the emotions of others, wasted no time in sliding off the bed and straightening his under-tunic.

"Bilbo, whatever is the matter…" The wizard's words died in his throat as Bilbo pointed a furious finger in Thorin's direction; the Dwarf-king was loitering near the doorway, shifting his weight from foot to foot almost sheepishly and muttering something along the lines of "fussy Hobbits" under his breath. Gandalf's brows immediately furrowed as he took in the Dwarf's demeanor.

"Show him!" demanded Bilbo, who was staring pointedly at Thorin. The irritated sigh that followed the Hobbit's command morphed into a hiss of pain as the Dwarf carefully peeled off his thin tunic once again, watching Gandalf stiffen with an expression of almost-apathetic annoyance.

"Who did this?" The old wizard listened carefully to Bilbo's version of the night's events as he pulled on his cloak and began hurriedly rummaging through his pack. He pushed several bottles and a small pouch into Bilbo's hands along with a mortar and pestle, then knelt down and placed a hand on the Hobbit's shoulder. "Now Bilbo, I know you are shaken, but I need you to tend to Thorin's wounds. Can you retain my instructions?" Bilbo nodded immediately; across the room, the Dwarf-king rolled his eyes.

"Excellent. This," Gandalf motioned to a small green flask, "is yarrow-water, and you must wash the cuts with it as soon as possible. It will help to speed healing and will clean the wounds. Once that is done, leave the water to dry on its own while you grind this athelas," he pointed out the pouch, which was stuffed with the plant, "into a paste; add a small amount of this," he poked another bottle, "occasionally to help with consistency. It is a tonic, again to speed healing and prevent infection. Leave the paste on until I return and give you further instructions. Do you understand?"

Bilbo nodded immediately; though he wasn't a healer by trade, he had dealt with enough wounds on his adventure to become quite adept in medicine. A minute smile flickered across Gandalf's features and he straightened up, pleased. "I am sure you'll prove to be an excellent nurse, Mr. Baggins; now, I will go deal with this…creature you have mentioned." Belting on his sword with practiced ease, the wizard nodded down at Bilbo and hurried out of the room, grabbing his staff from beside the bed as he passed.

"Room thirty-four!" Bilbo called quietly after Gandalf; he then motioned for Thorin to follow him down the hall to the room he shared with little Jango, who was staring at the door with sleep-heavy eyes as Bilbo entered. "Go," the Hobbit whispered to Thorin. "Remove that tunic and lie on your stomach on the extra bed. Be careful to disturb the cuts as little as possible; I don't fancy explaining to the innkeeper why his nice sheets have been ruined by syrup-thick Dwarf blood."

Thorin's lips quirked in a tiny smile and he obeyed without question as Bilbo bustled across the room to grab several candles and soothe Jango back to sleep. He placed a light kiss on the babe's forehead before turning back to Thorin to begin lighting the candles with a few matches he found in one of the drawers of the bedside table.

The Dwarf-king watched Bilbo's fretting through his eyelashes, forcing away the urge to sleep through the odd dizziness that came with loosing too much blood. The few hours Bilbo had slept in the bed the Dwarf was now lying in was enough that the pillow had soaked up the Hobbit's scent; this alone soothed Thorin enough to allow said Hobbit to begin gently dabbing his cuts with the yarrow-water. It burned horribly at first, but the pain began to dull as Thorin slipped into a trancelike state halfway between wakefulness and sleep.

"Thorin?" Bilbo's voice was gentle, as were his fingers as they ghosted over the fist Thorin hadn't realized he had been making; the sheets were clenched between his fingers, which cramped slightly as he loosened his grip. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to hurt you…"

"You're not," the Dwarf-king interrupted gruffly. "It just…stings. I'm fine, just finish so we can all get some sleep."

Bilbo sighed and shook his head, but obliged, pulling a stool to Thorin's bedside as he began to grind the athelas. "Kingsfoil… I had no idea it could be used for medicinal purposes. Yarrow I often use to help little ones' cuts…but I've always believed kingsfoil to be no more than a weed." He gazed thoughtfully down at the plant he was pulverizing, vaguely mulling over his own ignorance.

"I knew," Thorin chimed in, and Bilbo had to stifle a chuckle at the Dwarf's matter-of-fact tone. "We have stores of the plant in Erebor; it is especially potent against Goblin poisons." Still smiling, Bilbo sloshed a little of the tonic into the mortar and continued his grinding. It would have been amazing to him how calm the Dwarf was when he was obviously in a great deal of pain, but he knew Thorin too well to be surprised.

The pair sat in companionable silence until Bilbo had mashed enough athelas to cover Thorin's wounds. "You might want to…I'm not sure, breathe deeply?" The Hobbit gazed down at the Dwarf sympathetically. "This probably is not going to be very pleasant."

"Believe me, Mr. Baggins, I've dealt with much worse. You need not worry over me."

These empty words did little to ease Bilbo's discomfort at causing Thorin more pain than he was already experiencing, but he knew he had no alternative; using a splash of the yarrow-water to cleanse his hands, the Hobbit scooped a glob of the paste onto his fingers and began spreading it cautiously over Thorin's shoulders. Wincing at the way the Dwarf-king's muscles immediately tensed against his touch, Bilbo exhaled loudly. "I'm so sorry, I don't-"

"How are you, Master Baggins?"

Taken aback by the unexpected question, Bilbo tilted his head slightly. "Excuse me?"

"How are you? How do you…feel?" Though he could feel the back of his neck heating with embarrassment, Thorin pressed on, determined to keep both their minds off the Dwarf's discomfort.

"Umm… I feel fine, I suppose." The Hobbit's expression shifted to thoughtful uncertainty as he stared down at his work. "There have been a few…things on my mind, but nothing I can't handle." He smiled slightly. "What about you, Thorin?"

The Dwarf raised a brow amusedly. "The same, I suppose. It's a pity we never have time to talk."

"We're talking now."

"That…that's beside the point," Thorin said hurriedly. Bilbo chuckled and changed the subject, sensing that his companion was beginning to flounder.

"How are the boys? Has Fili found any nice Dwarf-maidens yet?"

Thorin immediately snorted. "Oh, he's definitely popular with the maids. Now, will he settle down anytime soon? I doubt it." They shared a quiet laugh; though Bilbo hadn't stayed in Erebor long enough to see Fili try his hand with any Dwarven women, he knew the lad well enough that picturing Fili strutting down the corridors of Erebor being followed by a pack of fawning maids was a simple task.

Silence descended once again as Bilbo turned his attention to Thorin's back. Try as he might, the Hobbit couldn't help but trace the lines of the Dwarf-king's neck and shoulders, traveling down towards the curve of his lower back and hips; indeed, his face was becoming decidedly warm as he finally finished applying the salve and stepped back to wipe his hands.

"Well, er…that should do it then. How does it feel?"

Thorin grunted in response. "Better than it was."

This was true; the pain had subsided to a dull throb, and the coolness of the salve help to relax the Dwarf's previously stiff muscles. Explaining this, Thorin watched as Bilbo's face relaxed and a small smile crinkled the Hobbit's cheeks.

"Well, that's good then." Bilbo yawned widely, gazing affectionately down at Thorin for a moment before shaking himself out of his trance. "Oh, I guess you're going to have to stay on your stomach for the rest of the night… I'll go sleep with Jango, he takes up no room at all."

It was a sign of the Dwarf-king's exhaustion that he didn't bother to argue with Bilbo's assessment; he simply nodded and gingerly adjusted his arms to cross underneath his head and pillow.

By the time Bilbo had draped a blanket over Thorin's legs and deposited his belt on top of his bag, he could barely see straight. He spared a moment to smile at the Ring, which he pulled out of his breast pocket and tucked back into his pack, then stripped off his blood-spattered shirt and made his way over to the bed parallel to Thorin's, where Jango was fast asleep. Gently pushing the youngling out of the way, Bilbo curled up behind him and closed his eyes.

"Goodnight Thorin…try not to move, yes? I don't want you to be hurt…anymore."

The Dwarf-king chuckled lowly at the Hobbit's sleep-slurred speech. "You have my word, Master Baggins," he whispered.

Bilbo missed this hushed promise; he was already asleep, snoring quietly into Jango's downy hair.

Ahh... You have no idea how good it feels to continue this. I missed writing these two.

Anyway, please favorite, follow and review! They encourage me to continue. Now, goodnight! (Or day, depending when you read this, I supppose.) :D