The italic sections in this are flashbacks. Both sections run linearly but I'm being SECRETIVE so the flashbacks are giving some information on the big reveal of this chapter.

/ / / The Mark Of The Hobbit \ \ \

Three days after they went down to the forest to meet Legolas Bilbo went to visit Bofur.

"Bilbo," Bofur said, happily when he opened his chamber door. "What are you doing here?"

"I have a favour to ask."

Bofur's eyes twinkled as he opened the door wider. "Come in and tell me all about it."

Bilbo walked in and looked around Bofur's chambers to make sure they were alone.

"My good lady Runbura is with her mother," Bofur said. "Would you like some tea?"

Bilbo held up the package in his hand. "I have some little sweet bread things from Griumma that I have never seen before."

"Sweet buns?"

Bilbo smiled. "Yes, I think that is what she called them."

"Oh, they are the very best thing. How did you get so far on Griumma's good side?"

"I keep her in food. Though, really she should be being nice to Legolas and his elves not to me. I have done so little really and the elves have woven their magic on the forest for us. All I am doing is collecting the fruits of their labour."

Bofur made a face as though he could not understand Bilbo at all. "Dwarves know little of the foods that they can collect and eat that live within Mirkwood. Without you they would not have known what to do. I heard Thorin's speech at Open Court. Every dwarf in the mountain heard what he said and knows what you have done."

Bilbo looked down at his hands. "I just do not know that I deserve everything that was said about me."

Bofur used his elbow to shove at Bilbo's shoulder. "I know that you do."

Bilbo smiled at his friend and nodded. "That is not why I came here."

Bofur nodded. "Tea and then you can tell me all about your secret mission."

"Who said it was a mission?"

"The look in your eye," Bofur said. "It is the same one I remember from our journey from your hobbithole to the mountain."

Bilbo smiled and helped Bofur with the tea. Then they settled before Bofur's fire and the dwarf turned to look at Bilbo with an open, questioning face.

"Have you heard of the Mark of a Dwarf?"

Bofur's face twisted into a look of disbelief. "Have I heard of the Mark of a Dwarf?"

"Sorry," Bilbo said. "Of course you have. I'm going to get one."

"Why?"

"Because I want Thorin to know I'm serious about staying here."

"Have you ever had one?"

"No. will you help me?"

/ \ / \ / \

"Have you ever heard of the Mark of a Dwarf?" Fíli asked him quietly.

"No," Bilbo said. "What is it?"

"It is an ancient rite, not one that most couples participate in anymore. It was a way for dwarves to make bonds that were perhaps…not acceptable to their families. At least, that was the original use for it. Now it's generally used when there is contention within a match or if a dwarf simply wants to be very clear about their intentions."

"Okay," Bilbo said. "That sounds about right. Tell me everything."

/ \ / \ / \

Two days after his meeting with Bofur; Bilbo, Bofur, Gani and a party of dwarves left Erebor headed for the town of Lisraith, a town of Men, in the foothills of the Grey Mountains. Thorin was not pleased that Bilbo would be gone for days but he accepted that Bofur needed Bilbo's assistance and sent Gani and Kíli along with him.

Thorin had looked confused when Kíli stood beside him to wave them off while Fíli rode out with the party but Biorn had gone to stand next to the king and told him how pleased she was that Fíli was travelling to the Kingdom of King Kilga to bring her back something. Bilbo had caught the smirk on Kíli's face but the dark haired dwarf did a better job of hiding it from Thorin.

The journey to Lisraith took them two days, riding from the very first light of dawn to the last moments of dusk. They made it there a full day before they had told Thorin they would.

Bilbo immediately went out and located Häil the Nomad. They set to work on his mark immediately. By arriving early Bilbo had enough time for the mark to be completed and for time to pass before they journeyed back towards Erebor.

The last thing Bilbo did before he left Lisraith was to visit the local baker and do a very poor deal for all of the ingredients he would need to make a number of batches of scones when he returned to Erebor. The Baker of Lisraith made more money that day than he would for the rest of the week but Bilbo had wanted the ingredients so he was more than happy to pay. He had never had any need for money even when he had been a hobbit. Now, thanks to his adventure, he had more money than he could use in a hundred lifetimes and he wanted to help others. Even if it was a baker who charged a visitor to the town extra because it was the middle of Winter.

"Do you have everything?" Bofur asked picking up Bilbo's packages.

"I think so," Bilbo said. "I promise you a batch of scones when we get home."

Fíli cleared his throat loudly.

"I promise you all a batch of scones, each, as soon as we are home and everything is out in the open."

Fíli beamed at him before the dwarf helped him up onto the pony. "I am holding you to that, Uncle."

Bilbo rolled his eyes at Fíli who laughed heartily. Bilbo blinked when he realised that the laugh sounded wrong without the echo of Kíli's deeper laugh.

"If we want to reach the best camping ground by night we need to begin," Bofur said.

Bilbo nodded and they started out. He noticed the way Gani rode close by his side as Bilbo controlled his pony with only one hand. They rode more gently on the journey to Erebor than they had when riding away from it. It took them three days to get back to the mountain.

Bilbo dismounted from his pony just outside of the outer doors and walked the pony to the guards in charge of the mountain mounts. Bilbo reached out for his bag but Gani made it there before him and grabbed the bags.

"I will bring them up for you," Gani said with a tight smile.

"Where is Thorin?" Bilbo asked one of the guards.

Another rushed forward and dipped his head when he stopped before Bilbo. "King Thorin is in a meeting with Balin, I can have him notified for your arrival."

"Oh no," Bilbo said with a smile. Thorin being busy fit with his plans very well. "I would not wish to disturb him."

The guard looked at one of the others and something strange passed over his face before he stepped back and nodded. "Of course, Master Baggins."

"Bilbo," Bilbo corrected – and not for the first time, though it was better than when they called him Bilbo Dragonthief.

The guard did not say a thing but Bilbo had a feeling he desperately wanted to go and tell Thorin that Bilbo had arrived back in the mountain. He would need to ask Kíli…no, Dís, how Thorin had been while he had been away. Though, his main focus right now was to keep his secret from Thorin until the next morning and the visit by Dale when Bilbo would reveal what he had done in front of all of the dwarves who would come out to watch the procession of Men and the official greetings. Dwarves, for being secluded happily in their mountains, did love to come out whenever anyone was visiting or anything at all was happening. Bilbo wanted to make his statement publically. Fíli had assured him that that was the dwarfish way and he wanted to do this for Thorin.

"I am going to go and bake some scones," Bilbo said. "I am sure Thorin will find me when he is no longer busy."

The dwarfish guard in front of him nodded though he still did not seem happy about it.

"I shall bring your belongings to your room," Gani said, before Bilbo could reach for anything. The guards who were standing with him saw the bandage on Bilbo's wrist at the same time and let out small noises.

"Nothing important," Bilbo said with a bright smile. "Just a little burn from around the campfire."

The guards looked at one another and Bilbo thought back to the last time he was injured and he looked at the guards with his firmest expression. "It is almost healed but I did not want to expose it to the dirt and dust of the journey. Neither of you will tell Thorin about this wound."

The guards looked at one another and then back at Bilbo; they grimaced as they nodded at him.

"Thank you," Bilbo said with a bright smile. He turned to Gani but the dwarf looked at him stubbornly so he accepted that he would not be allowed to carry any of his packages himself until his hand was completely healed. "I will see you soon, Gani."

Gani nodded at him and watched Bilbo walk away. He did not like leaving everything to the dwarves but he knew that Gani would never allow any of the dwarves to let him help so he would return to his rooms and have his first proper bath in days. He did not mind bathing in the rivers that they found along the journey but they were simply not the same as a proper hot bath.

Bilbo made his way through the mountain and towards his room smiling at the dwarves he found along the way. The first thing he did when he walked inside was to wash his face and hands and look at the chair before the fire longingly. The fire was burning and Bilbo still felt cold from the journey. He wanted to sink down into the soft chair and just get warm and have a little nap. Bilbo shook his head and turned away from the chair and the fire and went into the kitchen. He lit the fire in the oven and pulled out everything he already had that he would need for the scones.

Gani knocked on the door minutes later and Bilbo opened it surprised at how many things the dwarf was carrying.

"I brought all of the items for the farms as well."

"Thank you," Bilbo said moving in to try and help the dwarf who shook his head and refused to let Bilbo take anything.

"You are welcome, but until that is completely healed I shall keep assisting you in this."

"It is fine."

Gani simply gave him a look.

"I do appreciate your help." Bilbo said, knowing he would not win this argument against Gani.

"I know you do, Master Baggins."

"Bilbo."

Gani's mouth quirked and he continued like Bilbo hadn't spoken. "Now where do you want what?"

Bilbo sighed. "The things for the farms in my old room and the food in the kitchen."

"I can do that," Gani said, going through and placing the satchels where they needed to be. "Do you need anything else?"

"No, go and relax. I will see you tomorrow, for the meeting."

Gani nodded and handed Bilbo the last bag. "That is for the King, apparently."

Bilbo frowned. "What is it?"

Gani shrugged. "Probably need to ask the King."

Bilbo grabbed the bag and pulled it over to him. He wanted to look inside but he nodded and dropped it next to the chair which Thorin normally used.

"Thank you, Gani. And for coming with me, I know it is technically your job but I appreciate it, and for keeping my secret."

"I am happy to," Gani said.

"Well, you can go whenever you are ready unless there is something else?"

"I will see you tomorrow, Bilbo. Have a good afternoon."

Bilbo smiled, glad that Gani would at least call him Bilbo in private. "You too, I shall see you tomorrow."

Gani left and Bilbo sighed. He wanted to make a batch of scones before he sank into the bath. He began measuring out the ingredients and mixing the first batch quickly. He added nothing to this mixture and then spooned it out onto a tray before sliding it into the oven over the flames. Bilbo went into their bathroom and began drawing his bath while the smell of freshly baked scones slowly spread through their chamber. He would need to make another batch, with cheese and herbs, but the plain ones would tide them over until after Bilbo's bath. When the water was the right temperature and the scones were ready he pulled them from the oven before he stripped off his clothes and sunk down into the water. When the heat had sunk into his bones and he felt utterly relaxed her unwound the bandage from around his wrist. He bathed it gently in a bowl of cooled water until it was clean and Bilbo could see it clearly. He sunk back into the water, his wrist out in the air as he closed his eyes and simply relaxed. He had missed a good bath, his good bath, the entire time he had been away. Now he only wanted Thorin to come back for a few sweet, and not so sweet, kisses. Bilbo thought about Thorin as he cleaned himself properly. Finally, the water had become cold and as much as Bilbo did not want to move he stood up and poured the rinsing water over himself. He found the largest, softest towel – which was meant for Thorin as he was the larger of the two of them but Bilbo stole it more often than he left it for the dwarf. He bundled himself up in the towel and went out into the main room.

He would have sat down but he worried that if he did he may never stand again. He found some smallclothes and began mixing the second batch, a double batch, with cheese and herbs. The smells of the first batch were fading from the air as the second batch, sweeter smelling than the last, began to brown in the oven. When they were done and he had three on a plate before him with a layer of bright yellow butter on each he sunk down into the chair before the fire. He stretched out with his hair spread wide to dry in the heat thrown off the flames.

While it was drying he ate the scones and re-wrapped his wrist in a fresh bandage.

/ \ / \ / \

Bilbo woke to the gentle stroke of a finger over the arch of his cheekbone. He smiled without opening his eyes. "Thorin."

"Aye," Thorin's voice was soft and Bilbo let his eyes drift open. "I was quite surprised to find a half-naked hobbit in my chambers when I returned to them."

Bilbo smiled. "A pleasant one I presume."

"Oh yes," Thorin said. "Most pleasant."

Bilbo smiled just before Thorin leaned down and kissed him soundly, firmly, with the pent up loneliness and want from the time they had been apart. Bilbo reached up to slide his fingers into the curls covering Thorin's head and felt the rough pads of the dwarf's fingers slid down his arms until he was holding one of Bilbo's wrists. Then the dwarf pulled away.

"What is this?" Thorin asked, fingering the clean, white bandage around Bilbo's wrist.

"I burned myself on the journey."

Thorin's eyes darkened.

"It is not terribly bad however given that we were on the road when it happens I have been told to keep it bandaged until tomorrow night."

"I want to see it."

"Tomorrow night," Bilbo said tugging Thorin close again. "It is to stay covered until then, with the salve that should help it heal."

Thorin did not look pleased but he gave in to the pull of Bilbo's hands until he was kissing the hobbit again.

"When I was in Lisraith I was able to purchase enough ingredients to make scones." Bilbo said, a long while later when he pulled his lips from Thorin's. They felt plump and well used and Bilbo smiled at the sensation.

"You made me scones?"

"I made them for myself as well. And I shall be giving some to the dwarves who accompanied me on my journey."

"I do not think your scones should be shared with others," Thorin said.

"They all kept me safe while we were away. I think that deserves some reward."

Thorin smiled. "That does deserve a reward. Though perhaps not your scones."

"I have already promised them scones," Bilbo said kissing Thorin again.

He looked torn and Bilbo laughed and pushed him away. "Go and get some scones and I will find something to put on."

"Why?"

Bilbo smiled softly at the dwarf and pushing him away. "Very well, go and get some scones and I shall not find anything more to wear."

Thorin ran his fingers through Bilbo's hair. "You get cold, you should make sure you are warm enough."

"You shall simply have to keep me warm," Bilbo said, with a lazy smile.

Thorin nodded and left the room to bath quickly and then he came back to Bilbo with a plate of scones.

"Perhaps," Bilbo said, breaking the edge off one of Thorin's scones. "We should not eat so many scones."

"You have stopped having second breakfasts and elevenses because there is a shortage of food within the mountain but you think eating too many scones may be bad for us?"

"Not bad for us," Bilbo said. "I worry more that we will not have enough to make them for much longer. I purchased the ingredients from the baker in Lisraith while I was there."

Thorin sighed. "We shall all have to make sacrifices while the mountain is restored to its previous glory. I suppose your scones may be one of the more missed items I have to give up."

Bilbo laughed, quietly, and kissed Thorin.

They spent the rest of the evening together before the fire. Discussing the meetings that Thorin had held while Bilbo was away and the meeting tomorrow with Bard. Bilbo completely forgotten about the package that Gani had delivered for the King.

/ \ / \ / \

Bilbo woke to the feeling of lips pressed to the skin between his shoulder blades. He could feel the air cooling the skin above where Thorin had started at the nape of his neck.

"I have something for you," Thorin said.

"I do hope it has something to do with kissing me," Bilbo said, turning over and smiling at Thorin.

"No," Thorin said. "Though I do enjoy kissing you. I asked Fíli to purchase something for you while you were away."

"What?"

"A coat for today. A garment fine enough for the consort of the King. You are to stand by my side when we receive Bard today and as such I would want him to know you are one of Erebor's most important citizens."

Bilbo smiled and curled his hand into Thorin's hair to pull him down into a kiss. "You mean that you wish to show Bard that I am here in your bed and your life?"

Thorin had the good grace to drop his eyes from Bilbo's.

"Then I shall wear it with pride."

Thorin leaned forward to kiss Bilbo. Bilbo curled his arms over Thorin's shoulders and held the dwarf tight. Later, when Thorin pulled away it was because there was a knock on the door.

"Tell them to go away," Bilbo said, kissing Thorin's neck.

"It may be important, especially with the convoy coming today."

Bilbo nodded and pulled back from Thorin who pulled on sleeping clothes and went to the door. Dís was standing on the other side.

"We need to discuss some of the items before the meeting today."

Thorin nodded. "I shall dress and be with you shortly."

"Bilbo?" Dís asked, looking beyond her brother to the bed where Bilbo was still sitting.

Thorin turned and followed his sister's gaze. "Bilbo has just returned from a long journey. If he is not needed then he may wish to relax until the official welcoming."

Bilbo knew it was a question and he knew he could disagree with Thorin if he wanted to. Normally he would want to be in the meeting but today the time would definitely work in his favour.

"I would appreciate the extra time." Bilbo said, with a smile.

Dís nodded and stepped back. "I will be waiting for you, Thorin."

Thorin inclined his head to show he had heard her and closed the door.

"I think the package near your chair is what you asked Fíli to bring back with him." Bilbo said, pulling himself out of bed. He checked that his bandage was still secure and then walked over to Thorin.

"It is," Thorin broke the seal on the package and pulled something covered in waxed paper from within. "I hope you like it."

"I am sure I will."

Bilbo watched as Thorin opened the waxed paper and then pulled from within a dark, deep purple coat.

"This purple is a traditional colour for royal consorts in Dwarven courts. I asked my cousin Dáin to supply me with the material so that it could be made."

"How did you get this organised when the trip was so spontaneous?"

Thorin smiled at him. "The item was waiting for me to send a dwarf to collect it."

"Fortuitous timing."

"Yes." Thorin said, laying it out on the bed. "I should get dressed or Dís will be back."

"She will."

Thorin walked towards Bilbo though, instead of towards the bathroom. Bilbo stepped forward to meet the dwarf, sliding his arms around Thorin's waist and lifting himself up onto his toes so that he could meet the King in a kiss.

"You should be out there preparing for your meeting." Bilbo murmured, long moments later, while he was catching his breath.

Thorin smiled and tugged Bilbo closer. "You had been gone for too long."

Bilbo thrilled at the words almost as much as he did at the hold Thorin had on him.

There was another knock on the door and Bilbo smiled before he kissed Thorin again. He pulled back and stepped out of Thorin's arms. He walked towards the kitchen smiling all the way. He could hear Thorin walking into the bathroom to wash. Bilbo continued to smile while he pulled out scones and boiled water for tea. He was sitting before the fire sipping from his cup by the time Thorin came back out of the bathroom to get dressed.

"Are you eating my scones?"

Bilbo laughed and nodded. "I am. There is one here for you and some tea. Breakfast is an important meal."

"It is," Thorin kissed Bilbo again and took a scone to the wardrobe pulling out his best clothes for the meeting.

Bilbo sipped his tea and watched Thorin, enjoying the way the dwarf moved. He could see the way Thorin's royal blue coat complemented the colour of his own. Bilbo wanted to walk over and pull his own on now, he wanted to stand next to Thorin out in the Great Hall. Bilbo took another sip of his tea and watched instead. His wrist ached slightly as he sat and watched.

The moment Thorin strode through the door, a last scone in his hand, Bilbo stood and pulled his own clothes out of the wardrobe. He went into the kitchen to make one last thing before he washed himself and dressed.

Bilbo heard the knock and adjusted Sting on his hip, he fiddled with the ring – slipping it on for a moment and disappearing before he tugged it off and tucked the gold band back into the drawer.

Gani was standing on the other side of the door. "Master Baggins, King Thorin sent me to collect you."

Bilbo nodded and checked one last time that everything was set and then followed Gani out of the room, pulling the door closed securely behind him.

"Are you ready, Master Baggins?"

Bilbo looked down at his wrist and nodded. "I am."

They walked through the mountain to the antechamber next to the Great Hall where Thorin was standing with Dís, Balin, Fíli, Kíli, and Biorn. The door closed behind him but only Thorin looked up from the table.

"Bilbo, come and check these crop projections," Thorin said. "You have spent the most time down at the farms."

Bilbo nodded and walked over to the table. He very carefully placed his hand down on the table to look down at the map of the proposed farms and the crops that they would be growing.

"What is this?" Thorin asked, catching Bilbo's fingers so that he could see Bilbo's wrist properly.

"I thought you would recognise it, Fíli called it the Mark of a Dwarf but I think of it as the Mark of the Hobbit."

"You…" Thorin pulled Bilbo with him. "You got a tattoo for me?"

"I wanted to do something from the dwarfish culture to prove to you that I am not going anywhere."

"Fíli told you about it?" Thorin asked, turning towards his nephew.

/ \ / \ / \

"You have seen Dwalin's tattoos." Fíli said. "They are not the same as Marks but they follow the same principle."

"So it is a tattoo?"

"It is, where Dwalin's map his conquests and battles yours would be a sign of your relationship with Thorin."

Bilbo looked down at the ground. "I do not understand."

Fíli opened his mouth and then closed it with a sigh. "It is a tattoo to show that you are committed to this relationship with Thorin."

"It sounds more like a mark of possession."

"It does not have to be a brand," Fíli explained carefully. "It is not a marking of ownership it is a marking of bonding, of acceptance."

"It does sound like a brand."

"No," Fíli said. "It is meant to signify your journey together as a couple."

"So having Thorin tattooed over my heart isn't the basic idea?"

"I think Uncle Thorin would love that," Fíli said. "However, it is more about the things that drew you to this moment."

Bilbo nodded with his mind drifting to what he could do. "So, it is not to mark me as his but to explain why I want him?"

Fíli paused for a moment and thought. "Yes. I think so. As you know dwarf bonds are for life, not like the ones of Men, and the Mark was more about proving a claim to members of a family who were unsupportive or attempted to block the union. As such the mark chronicled the relationship between the two dwarves. As time passed the Mark became more fashionable and more couples used it. Since the fall of Erebor it has fallen out of favour. However, all dwarves will understand what this Mark means."

Bilbo was silent for several minutes, thinking about what Fíli had told him. Then he turned to the blonde dwarf and smiled. "I think I know what it should be."

Fíli smiled. "Are you going to tell me about it?"

Bilbo shook his head. "You shall have to see it at the same time everyone else does."

/ \ / \ / \

Thorin held Bilbo's hand gently and twisted it around so that he could see the whole of the tattoo.

"We will be in the Hall," Dís said, and everyone walked out of the room, leaving Bilbo and Thorin alone.

"You got this for me?"

Bilbo shook his head. "If I understood what Fíli was telling me I think this would be for both of us."

Thorin nodded but he did not look up from Bilbo's wrist. The hobbit looked down at the Mark with a smile. On the back of his wrist was a small tattoo of Sting and Orcrist pointing in towards one another, their tips meeting. That was the only sign that there was anything on his hand at all but as Thorin twisted his arm around the swords mirrored on the fragile skin inside his wrist. Their tips meeting at the blue vein so prominent under the skin. Thorin's fingertip touched to the place where the swords met and trailed the rest of the tattoo to the place where it ended between Bilbo's middle and ring fingers.

"Tell me about it," Thorin said, quietly.

"The swords are for the times we fought back to back…" Bilbo went on to explain the stylised, wispy red and blue and green sweeps of colour that represented the eagles' spread wings, which covered the join of wrist to palm for the eagles that saved both of them. A green circle below the matching points of the swords for his hobbithole door, with fourteen cross marks surrounding it for the rest of the company. Travelling up from the hilt of each sword were lines that ended at the webbing between his ring and middle fingers. The dragon just under the apex of Erebor, it's wings pointing down below it, an arrow sticking out of its chest with a small splash of colour in his claws for the Arkenstone. There was a small web of tunnels on one side of the wings to mark Bilbo's time alone in the goblin King's tunnels, and a small cluster of buildings, tall and majestic, on the other, that Bilbo had been so excited to see when he knew they were near the elves. Between the wings and the dragon was a swirling mass of the harsh lines of Khuzdul; words of orc, wolves, shapeshifter, Mirkwood, hobbit, dwarf, elf, and more from their journey all laid out on a pattern that made up the forest and the farms. All of the things that were now so important to him.

Bilbo did not explain the small ring of gold that sat in the middle of the goblin tunnels.

"I was not sure that it would come out so well. But Häil the Nomad is an artist. And what I need you to understand is that this is for you, because everything I put into this mark took me out of my hobbithole and brought me here to this mountain and shaped who I am. But you are the reason I am staying so this is a Mark of the Dwarf, as you know, but it is also a reminder to me of all that I am capable of. Which is also why I chose my right hand, for if I should need to use Sting again, this mark with hold the hilt just as my hand does, and I will remember everything that I can accomplish."

Thorin smiled at him widely.

"However," Bilbo said, twisting his hand around so that he was holding onto Thorin's. "It is also a reminder that I have chosen you, like you chose me, and I am not going anywhere."

Then Thorin kissed him.

/ \ / \ / \

Bilbo knocked on Fíli's door one evening.

Biorn answered the door and welcomed him in. "I'll make some tea."

"Thank you."

"Is this about the Mark?" Biorn questioned as she walked towards their kitchen.

"Yes."

"Do you have an idea?" Fíli asked, coming out into the main room pulling a crisp cream shirt over his head.

"I have designed it," Bilbo said, laying out a piece of parchment. "This section will wrap around my wrist and this part will sit within my palm so that it is only visible when I chose for it to be."

Fili looked at the design and smiled.

"Can you check my Khuzdul?" Bilbo said somewhat nervously.

"I don't think I need to," Fíli said. "Not if Uncle Thorin taught you. Though I will check it anyway."

"I'm going to commission need someone with skill."

Fíli nodded and looked down at the sketch. "You really will, if this is what you want. You will need to go to a town of Men, called Lisraith, it's in the foothills of the Grey Mountains. His name is Häil the Nomad. There is a rumour that his grandfather was a dwarf and his grandmother a Woman. He knows Khuzdul and he is apparently the best in all of Middle Earth."

Bilbo sat back into the chair properly and stared at the fire. "How on Earth am I going to convince Thorin that I need to go all the way there alone?"

Fíli laughed. "I don't know but he is not going to want you to leave."

"No."

"I'll send word to Häil as soon as we know when we are going."

"So you know him?"

Fíli grinned. "Kíli and I got a mark when he came of age."

"Can I see it?"

Fíli smirked hard. "You really want to see my arse."

"Say no," Biorn called from the kitchen. "It's not a pretty sight."

"Hey!"

"I love you," Biorn said, and then came out with a plate of biscuits. "But you have a fairly furry backside."

Fíli's smile widened. "It is quite furry."

Bilbo looked at them both for a long moment and then shook his head.

/ \ / \ / \

"We should go into the Great Hall," Thorin said, pulling away from Bilbo and tugging on his jacket.

"Yes," Bilbo said, a little breathlessly. "I did not realise the tattoo would garner such a response from you."

"You should have," Thorin said, tugging at Bilbo's waistcoat.

Bilbo tried to bite back his smile.

"It is a good thing I did not reveal it to you in the Great Hall then."

"I think that my dwarves would have understood."

"Perhaps," Bilbo said, unable to stop himself from looking down at the tattoo. "However, I think I prefer to do this in private."

Thorin reached down to grab Bilbo's hand, he trailed a finger down the length of the tattoo before he started walking out of the room, Bilbo at his side. They stopped just outside the doors.

Thorin turned to Bilbo. "Remember that you are my Royal Advisor as well."

"I do."

"And I need your help with everything today. You are Bard's friend and you know more of the farms than anyone else."

Bilbo smiled and nodded. "I am here to help you."

"I am relying on that," Thorin said, turning for the door. He released Bilbo's hand with a nod and they walked into the Great Hall together. "And I love you."

Bilbo grinned broadly as he was dragged into the Great Hall, Thorin's words ringing in his ears.

/ / /

Only one more part to go...it will definitely be finished by the time the next movie comes out.
I hope you enjoy...