Title: For Better or For Worse
Author: The Emcee
Summary: A long time ago, a hobbit, a Baggins of Bag End, saved a dwarf prince, one of the line of Durin, and died in the process. As a result, the dwarf prince made a vow to the dying Baggins that one day one of his line would take a Baggins as a consort to repay the hobbit for his sacrifice. Years passed and Gandalf the Grey pays Bilbo Baggins a visit that will change his life for better or for worse.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, actors, or the fandom.
A/N: I…I just don't know. I thought of this while on the cusp of sleep, which should explain it, but still… Don't kill me!
Every hobbit in the Shire knew the story of Hollis Baggins and the dwarf prince Taegan, son of Thane of the Line of Durin.
Part Took, on his mother's side, Hollis had been visiting family in Bree when the dwarf prince and a few of his companions entered the Prancing Pony. The dwarves were ridden with wounds and injuries, but they ate and drank nonetheless and made merry. Hollis was quick to notice the dwarf prince, Taegan, and his Took side eventually made him approach the small company, albeit hesitantly. He had always been known to be a bit queer, what with having Tookish blood in his veins, and Hollis was ever the curious creature. As he had never seen a dwarf before or talked to one, he struck up a conversation about, well, food, which made quite a bite of sense when one took time to ponder it.
The night wore on and the dwarves, fascinated by a creature such as a hobbit, asked Hollis about life in the Shire, paying rapt attention to how the hobbit described the various meal times they had. It was not longer thereafter, very late in the evening or, rather, very early in the morning, that Hollis was asked to accompany Taegan and his fellow dwarves on their return home. They had been traveling on business and diplomacy issues, they had explained to the hobbit, and they found him and his peculiar ways so fascinating and intriguing that they wished for him to come. And, of course, Hollis, with his Took side outweighing his Baggins side, readily agreed. Having never been on an adventure before, he saw it as an opportunity to see more of the world than what lay in the books back in his hobbit hole.
And so, Hollis left with the dwarves the very next day. Although the Baggins in him would show itself, he quickly pushed it away with the thought that he would turn right around and head back home once he reached the city of Dale. But first, he wanted to see Erebor, the Lonely Mountain of which his dwarven companions spoke of often. However, Hollis Baggins never made it that far.
Along the way, an orc pack ambushed the dwarves and the hobbit. A great fight ensued in which most of the orcs were slain. In the midst of the battle, Taegan was fighting off two orcs, both of peculiar large size for orcs, and was being backed against a boulder. Being highly skilled with a sword, Taegan managed to strike a death blow to one by piercing its heart with his sword. In doing so, however, Taegan had to neglect the other orc, who found the opportunity to kill the dwarf prince. Although Taegan did not see it, Hollis did, and before the orc's sword could slice into the prince, the hobbit pushed him aside and was struck down himself. Realizing what had happened, Taegan quickly ended the orc's life, but the damage had already been done.
The hobbit laid in a pool of his blood on the battlefield, the only casualty the dwarves of Erebor suffered that terrible day. There was nothing that could be done to reverse the damage and Hollis had only minutes to live, if that, when Taegan knelt by his side and grasped his hand. With eyes the color of winter blue, Taegan made a promise, a vow, to Hollis as the hobbit lay dying. He vowed that, someday, a dwarf prince from the Line of Durin would take a Baggins to be his consort, to rule by his side in the Lonely Mountain of the great dwarf kingdom Erebor. The hobbit would be well loved and cherished more than any jewel or gem or piece of gold that could be found. That, Taegan had told him, was the only way he could repay Hollis for the life debt he owed.
With a smile on his face and blood seeping from his mouth, Hollis Baggins quietly thanked Taegan, son of Thane, before he closed his eyes and, with one last, fleeting breath, he died. That is how the story of Hollis Baggins and Taegan, son of Thane, went, and while most hobbits used it to tell a morale (such as, 'that is why hobbits should never partake in adventuring!'), Bilbo Baggins, as a small hobbit child, found it to be utterly heart-breaking and romantic. His mother, Belladonna, told him that the story and the vow that Taegan made were as real as the hair on his feet.
But as the years wore on, Bilbo found that he began to believe in the story less and less. When his parents passed away, he found himself agreeing with the other hobbits in the Shire who said that the story was nothing more than a morale tale for children. And that was how it remained for many years.
Bilbo Baggins had not been expecting any visitors today, but the familiar ringing of his doorbell told him that he had one nonetheless. Getting up from his comfy chair, he made his way to the door and opened it up. Standing before him was an old friend of the family's, Gandalf the Grey. His eyes lit up and Bilbo opened the door wider, inviting the wizard inside.
"Gandalf! It's so nice to see you. Come in, come in!" Gandalf entered his hobbit hole.
"Would you care for some tea?" Bilbo asked him as he made his way to the kitchen. "Some bacon? I could make you something if you'd like."
"Tea would be quite lovely, thank you," Gandalf said, smiling down at him. "Just tea."
Bilbo set about making the tea. "What brings you to the Shire, Gandalf? It's been a while since you're last visit."
"Yes, it has been." Gandalf sat down in the wooden rocking chair that he usually sat in.
"Since I was a little hobbit, I do believe," Bilbo said conversationally.
"That sounds about right," the wizard replied softly. After a few minutes, Bilbo came into the den with the tea. He placed it on the table and handed Gandalf his cup before sitting down.
"So, to what do I owe this unexpected visit, Gandalf?" Bilbo asked before taking a sip of tea. He had to admit that he was curious as to why the wizard showed up out of the blue. Not that he wasn't pleased to see him; on the contrary, he was very happy indeed to see Gandalf, but still. Something told him that this particular visit was anything but ordinary.
"As sharp as ever, I see. But then again, you always were," Gandalf chuckled before he turned serious. "You remember the story of Hollis Baggins, yes?"
"Yes…" Bilbo said slowly, not entirely sure where the wizard was going with this. "That was just a story. Surely something like that never happened. And even if it did, it couldn't have happened to a Baggins. We are the most respected hobbits in the Shire. We don't go adventuring or anything of the sort." He finished with an uneasy chuckle, trying to lighten the mood. It didn't work.
"I'm afraid, my dear Bilbo, that the story is, in fact, true. Hollis Baggins was, indeed, a Baggins of Bag End and Taegan, son of Thane, did make a vow that one of his descendents would marry a Baggins to repay the life debt that he himself could not repay."
As he listened to Gandalf, Bilbo thought back on his childhood. Back then, he willingly believed the story and thought that it was both tragic and amazing. To think that a mere hobbit, a Baggins at that, had saved a dwarf prince. Not only that, but for the dwarf prince to promise one of his own to a Baggins! The mere thought rang of romanticism and it used to make Bilbo want to venture beyond the Shire. But that was what he had thought when he was a mere child. Hearing that the story was true as a matured hobbit made it even more remarkable and astounding. Being told that his favorite childhood story was true was too good to be true.
"You…You must be… Are you sure, Gandalf?" Bilbo asked. "I mean, many of the hobbits don't believe that the story was true…" He trailed off, not knowing what else to say. What else was there to say, really? A twinkle shone in Gandalf's eye.
"Believe me, Bilbo, I would not be here if the story was not true." At that, confusion began to spread throughout Bilbo and his face showed it. His heart began to beat thunderously in his chest and his voice sounded small when he spoke.
"What…What do you mean, Gandalf?" The wizard sighed softly and leaned forward on his chair.
"What I mean is that you, Bilbo Baggins, have been chosen to be the consort of Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, of the Line of Durin and soon to be king of the Lonely Mountain."
Bilbo felt light headed. His mind began to think through what Gandalf had just told him. He, a descendent of Hollis Baggins and son of Bungo and Belladonna Baggins, was to be the consort of some dwarf prince that he had never met. The story was true and it was he who had been chosen! Thorin…soon to be king of Erebor…Bilbo was supposed to be his consort? His partner? A dwarf whom he had never met (not that Bilbo had met any dwarves, of course) was supposed to marry him because of something that happened long ago?
"Is, uh, is that r-really…um, necessary?" Bilbo asked, feeling very light headed and dizzy. "C-can't we just call it even and be done with it?" Gandalf chuckled at him.
"I'm afraid that dwarves are not ones to let things such as life debts go so easily. They are a very stubborn people, Bilbo, and would take great offense if you denied them the chance to pay a life debt, especially one from so long ago," the wizard explained.
"So…so there really is no way out, is there?" Bilbo asked, already knowing the answer but hoping and praying that, by some miracle, Gandalf was just pulling his leg. However, the look on Gandalf's face told him that he had not been mistaken at all.
"No, there isn't. Thorin has decided that, instead of finding a dwarf woman to marry, he would simply marry you. Dwarf women are scarce in number I'm afraid and as the life debt had yet to be paid, Thorin thought that it would be best and far easier to take this path."
"O-oh… I…I see," Bilbo muttered.
The next thing he knew, he was falling out of his chair with darkness surrounding his vision and he passed out cold.