/ / / Boundaries and Apologies \ \ \
Bilbo pulled the last lemon from the tree and then turned to Gani, as he did so he caught sight of Kíli and Legolas through the trees, where they must have thought they were hidden, kissing against a tree. Bilbo smiled and decided to definitely have a chat with the dwarf on their way back to the castle.
"Gani," Bilbo said. "I need you to either go ahead or behind Kíli and I on the return journey."
Gani looked over his shoulder and then thought for a moment. "I shall ride behind in case of danger."
Bilbo rolled his eyes but took a deep breath rather than get annoyed at Gani he decided to wait until he could vent to Thorin since that dwarf was the one who truly deserved it. "Very well."
As soon as Bilbo and Kíli were sitting on the back of their ponies Bilbo looked at the dwarf and smiled.
"What?" Kíli asked darting Bilbo glances as he steered his way out of the forest.
"I wanted to talk to you," Bilbo said with a smile. "About Legolas."
"What about Legolas?" Kíli asked defensively.
"I want to know what is going on with you," Bilbo said. "I know you haven't told Thorin and your mother and I doubt Fíli will be very helpful so I wanted to see what the two of you have decided to do, I mean, obviously, you don't have to tell me anything but I just wanted to make sure that you weren't going to get hurt."
Kíli stopped his horse and turned to look at Bilbo with a frown. "You're worried I might get hurt?"
"I don't know how elves do things," Bilbo said. "I do know that you like him – a lot, and I just wanted to make sure that he was going to treat you well."
Kíli began to laugh and Bilbo frowned at the strange reaction. "What?"
"Uncle Thorin would worry about me," Kíli said when he had finally got the laughing under control but he let his pony have enough lead to graze while they talked. "He would yell and fume and he would forbid me from seeing the elf ever again. It would all be because he is worried and he does not trust elves but he would never come to me and say that he is worried. Fíli offered to gut Legolas like a fish and leave his innards to the birds but he would never tell me he only wants me to be happy though I know that to be true and Mum. Well, Mum would worry because she has lost so much, more than even Uncle Thorin I think, and she would be worried that he may take me away but no one would pull me aside and tell me that they cared about me and did not want me to be hurt because an elf toyed with me sexually."
Bilbo coloured bright red. "You are…I mean, already?"
Kíli laughed. "No, it appears elves are even more reluctant to have casual sex than most other beings…thank God for the male dwarves I have lain with or I would still be a virgin and nothing could be worse."
Bilbo felt his entire body heat and he looked down at the tight clutch he had on his reins, he reminded himself that he had Thorin and there was no rush and…there was no reason that there was anything at all wrong with waiting and then he remembered the look of joy on Thorin's face when he had learned that no one else had touched Bilbo as the dwarf would get to.
"You!" Kíli said loudly. "Still? Uncle Thorin is utterly useless. How can you have been living together all this time, and have been so obviously in love with one another without actually doing something, doing everything, I mean there is so much to do. If you ever want some tips I can-"
"No!" Bilbo said firmly. "I…we," Bilbo paused to straighten up. "What Thorin and I have and have not done is none of your business."
"Poor Uncle Thorin…poor you," Kíli said with a sympathetic look.
"Kíli," Bilbo said trying to bring the dwarf back to the topic. "I would really prefer to talk about you and Legolas, have you discussed the future?"
"I'm not telling Uncle Thorin," Kíli said firmly. "Nothing you say will ever change my mind."
"I am not trying to make you tell Thorin," Bilbo said with an exasperated sigh. "I only wanted to see if Legolas had implied if he was interested in something more than meetings in the forest to steal kisses and feed the dwarves."
Kíli smiled evilly and pulled on the pony's reins and began moving through the forest again. "Oh yes, we've talked about more than just meeting in the forest." Kíli began to laugh and Bilbo knew that he must have missed something.
Bilbo sighed and followed along next to the dwarf.
As soon as the group of dwarves, and one hobbit, entered the first set of large keep doors three dwarves appeared in front of Bilbo.
"We shall take those off you," one said with a minute bow.
"It's been a long day," the next said and made a grab for one of the other food bags. "We'll take them to Griumma and you can rest."
"Is this about Thorin?" Bilbo said sharply. "Has he had you watching me?"
The last dwarf looked down at the ground apologetically. "Bilbo Dragonthief, King Thorin has been in a terrible mood since this morning and we only hoped to…end it as soon as possible."
Bilbo smiled and dropped from the back of his pony. "This bag is for me but the rest need to go to Griumma."
The three dwarves looked at him with their relief painted firmly on their faces and Bilbo smiled back at them as he began to walk further into the mountain.
/ / / \ \ \
Thorin was still annoyed even as he measured and stirred; Bilbo should never have left the mountain when Thorin told him not to but he had his mother's voice, something he deliberately hadn't thought about in years. She had been a strong dwarf; she had been the only thing that had kept Thorin's dwarves together after Erebor fell. Grief and anger had been rife among the dwarves that survived and yet she had inspired everyone and kept them moving until the few who were left were able to find a place to live in the Blue Mountains. Those years had been hard and Thorin had followed his father on the quest for Moria knowing that it was a dangerous one…by the time Thorin and the dwarves who survived made it back to the Blue Mountains his mother was dead and Dís was standing in her place doing the best she could. That day was the one where Thorin swore to get Erebor back but to wait and focus on his subjects until the time was right. He had gone to the towns of Men to work and almost everything he earned was given to keep his makeshift home and all who resided there alive and happy. The years had passed until finally everything seemed to come into alignment and they were finally able to take back their home.
Drís, Thorin's mother, had been strong and had always been heavily involved in every aspect of the mountain. She had ridden out into battle at their father's side and had negotiated with envoys from several races. She was the best example of a Queen that dwarves had ever known – in the opinion of Durin's Folk. Thorin knew that Bilbo had a lot of live up to but in a number of ways he had already proven himself more than capable.
Something Dís said, about Bilbo wanting to prove himself to the dwarves in the mountain kept popping back into Thorin's head as he set the oven and worked the dough into the baking dish. Bilbo had proven himself on their journey – he had saved them from trolls and spiders and elves, he had come to stand between Thorin and a giant orc intent on killing the injured dwarf. Bilbo did not need to prove himself to Thorin, they would not have reclaimed the mountain and Thorin would be dead if it were not for the hobbit.
Thorin slammed the oven door and swore. He had been so busy trying to keep Bilbo safe he had forgotten that the hobbit had shown his independence, his ability, his fierce need to help again and again and yet Thorin had treated him as though he did not know those things. Thorin knew that was what Dís had been trying to tell him and he had understood that Bilbo did not appreciate being ordered around as though he were a subject but Thorin hadn't given much thought to why Bilbo had disliked it.
Thorin began to look through the kitchen, through the books in the bookcase but there was not a single mention of the recipe Bilbo used to make his scones and Thorin knew that his damper was not good enough to apologise for making Bilbo think that Thorin would not trust Bilbo to have his back in battle. Thorin thought about going and seeing Griumma but then he remembered their meeting earlier and while he believed she would do anything for Bilbo he did not like the idea of having anything heavy and wooden thrown at his head. He would go down and apologise tomorrow, explain that he should never have been rude to her and hope she did not poison him.
Thorin looked around their chamber, he knew that Bilbo tidied the rooms but, at the moment with his ankle, they were a little messy…perhaps, if Thorin could not bake Bilbo scones he could at least do something more than his meagre damper to show the hobbit he was sorry. Thorin set to work, thinking of what he would say when Bilbo returned, with one eye on the oven and his ears trained on the door.
Before he was ready the handle of the door twisted and Thorin knew that Bilbo was back; after all, anyone else would knock.
"I'm sorry," Thorin said as soon as the door opened in front of him.
Bilbo blinked at him for a moment.
"I should not have ordered you to stay. I do know you are capable enough to deal with any danger that may come into the forest but-"
Bilbo stepped further into the room and closed the door behind him. He held a hand up stopping Thorin's words.
"I can take care of myself and I will not be ordered around like a subject because I am not your subject, I am your intended."
"But I am also not leaving you and I don't want anyone else and you have nothing to worry about. I shall never cheat on you but that doesn't mean I won't have friends who are Men and elves or anyone else that is nice and proves themselves trustworthy."
Thorin did not like that, he wanted Bilbo to be happy here but he also wished the hobbit would spend less time out of the mountain.
"Thorin," Bilbo said stepping closer again the bag of food forgotten next to the door. "Do you truly believe that I would be interested in anyone when I have you?" Thorin said nothing. "Do I have to worry about you-"
Thorin stepped forward urgently and grabbed Bilbo's shoulders to pull him closer. "Never!"
Bilbo smiled up at him. "Excellent, so if you feel that firmly about us why do you think I do not?"
"I," Thorin frowned down at Bilbo for a moment. "I had something I planned to say."
Bilbo smiled and pulled back. "Right, sorry, go."
Thorin shook his head. "Would you like to sit down? I can make some tea."
Bilbo opened his mouth and then frowned at Thorin. "Now?"
Thorin nodded and bent to pick up the bag of fresh food and took it with him into the kitchen. He checked the damper and let out a happy sigh when he realised it was ready and then set to making tea and placing the hot food on a plate. He placed everything on a tray and then went out to put it in front of Bilbo. Thorin did not take the seat across from him and chose instead to stand in front of the fire and attempted to smile at Bilbo.
"I spoke to Dís today and she reminded me that I should not treat you as a subject and that you deserve my respect. But later I realised that you may believe that I do not think you capable of facing any danger and coming back to me alive. I remember everything you did for me on our journey, when you had never been in situations like that before, and when you were terrified, and I wanted to tell you that if I ever ride out into battle I would want you by my side."
Thorin smiled, he knew that that would tell Bilbo everything he needed to know. Bilbo smiled at him weakly but with confusion in his eyes and Thorin sighed.
"I have a feeling," Bilbo said after a moment. "That everything you just said was your way of saying that you know I can deal with the dangers that may come from being out of the mountain?"
Thorin nodded and smiled.
"But I never want to ride into battle again," Bilbo said firmly. "I never want you to ride into battle either, I would much prefer it if we could grow old and grey in this mountain without any thought for battles or killing."
Thorin nodded. "Wise words, but I am afraid that we may not get that."
"I know," Bilbo said sadly and picked up his cup of tea. He looked up at Thorin sharply with a small smile. "You baked for me?"
Thorin nodded. "I wished to apologise."
"I forgive you," Bilbo said quietly. "But, you cannot treat me like that again."
Thorin nodded and took the seat across from Bilbo.
"I shall try," the dwarf said honestly. "Though I ask that you understand that I worry about your safety outside of my mountain."
"I have Gani with me and a number of other dwarves," Bilbo smiled at Thorin. "And though you hate him, I have Legolas who has proven himself a friend of the dwarves."
Thorin couldn't prevent the scowl that took over his face.
"The next time I leave to collect food," Bilbo said moving forward on the seat. "I ask that you come with me, we can eat lunch in the trees and you can speak to Legolas. I ask that you do me this favour and give Legolas a chance. Please."
"I shall make time to come and if he is as good an elf as you believe then I will try to develop a diplomatic relationship with him.
Bilbo smiled oddly and Thorin frowned at him before the hobbit beamed. "Thank you."
"Have some damper," Thorin said handing Bilbo a plate.
"You will support me going down to the forest to collect food and going to the farms to help?" Bilbo prompted even as he took the plate.
"I am not happy about you being out there," Thorin said, in truth it filled his stomach with displeasure but he knew that he could not force Bilbo to stay within the mountain even if he wished he could. "I do not like you being so far away from the safety of the mountain and I do not trust all the Men and elves you are dealing with but if you promise to return to me I shall be supportive."
Bilbo smiled and began to eat his damper. Thorin sat back and thought over what they had talked about and was happy except…
"You do not need to prove yourself to the dwarves."
"What?" Bilbo asked pulling the teacup from his lips.
"If you think you need to show them how good you are…you will be, as my consort, you don't."
"You saved me and have fed my kingdom, you gave us the knowledge we needed to end the reign of Smaug, you are Bilbo Dragonthief and you need to prove yourself to no one," Thorin finished firmly.
"I just want to help," Bilbo said quietly. "I cannot clean the halls as I don't have the strength of a dwarf and I cannot cook the food as Griumma has everything well in hand and your healers are quite good so they don't generally need my help though they like to talk to me occasionally about different treatments. I know farming, and plants and food, so I am helping in the way I can. If you care for me then I do not care what anyone else thinks."
Thorin felt the unease, that had settled around him like a vice this morning, lessen and he smiled at Bilbo before standing and yanking the hobbit to his feet so that he could kiss him. Bilbo smiled against his mouth and kissed back tasting of wild honey and smelling like the forest.
/ / /
They obviously have more to talk about but I wanted to post this before I become a hermit for the next couple of weeks with uni.I just wanted to thank everyone who has been so encouraging and lovely as I have been writing this. It is always appreciated so much.