AN: For a prompt on the Hobbit Kink Meme. The op asked for a story in which Bilbo's lack of meals becomes very evident and then there is some lovely h/c. Just wanted to take a moment and thank everyone for the fantastic response to 'Grasshopper'. I was really unsure about it, and so I'm glad so many seem to like it! It's given me more confidence as a writer! Thanks for all of the lovely reviews, I try to respond to them all, but I know I've missed some along the way.
Warnings: Hunger/starvation, Depression, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Bilbo was not prepared enough for this journey. That much was obvious. Even to himself.
He first realized it five minutes into the trip. A Hobbit without a handkerchief was like…a wizard without a staff, or a Dwarf without a beard. He missed it, and he wanted it desperately, but he found he didn't need it. However, there were some things he did need, though that didn't become apparent until a little later. Bilbo had assumed he would be eating less than usual while on the journey. After all, he couldn't fit much food into his pack, and most of what he did bring he had generously given to Myrtle. Even still Bilbo assumed he would be able to eat at least four liberal meals per day, two less than his usual average. He knew he could survive on that. But two, sometimes one meal, and situation depending…none, that was very unexpected indeed.
He struggled to get through even the first day, and when supper was upon them he eagerly dug into his first bowl. It tasted awful, but somewhat settled his aching belly, and he figured he'd be able to get three, or even four bowls more. When he approached Bofur for seconds however, and saw the Dwarf smack his brother's hand away after having only one bowl, Bilbo knew. It would be wrong for him, smaller than any here, to request more when so little was left. He watched the Dwarves ration off the rest, and did not speak up. The smell of food itched at his nose, and he slept on a still very empty stomach.
He felt sick. His stomach constantly ached and his head was never clear. He knew the Dwarves must think him weak. He said nothing of his hunger and so they noticed nothing wrong. He knew Thorin thought little of him, how much less would he think if the Hobbit began taking double rations. It was not long before Bilbo began to lose a significant amount of weight. He was sustaining himself primarily on his own body fat. He wore layers, and so no one noticed, though they hung around him much looser than before.
The night they encountered the trolls Bilbo had not yet eaten. He had taken the brothers their bowls, his head pounding hard in his ears. He was a bit confused, and found it difficult to think when he was literally thrown into the fray. The smell of whatever the trolls cooked beckoned him, despite how disgusting it was, though somehow he managed to focus on freeing the ponies. He knew not how he'd managed to survive that encounter, and he knew the Dwarves were unhappy with him for his lack of strength and for getting caught in the first place.
Bilbo felt very weak when they had arrived in Rivendell. He was unable to concentrate on much around him, though the beauty of the elven city still awed him. The sight of food lightened his heart. Bilbo for the first time in many days stuffed himself. He ate enough for five Hobbits, in that one meal, regardless of the odd looks the Dwarves directed at him. He greatly regretted it later. Bilbo departed from dinner alone and with haste, his stomach twisting and turning. He spent his entire first night in Rivendell spreading the contents of his stomach on the floor of his room. He did not sleep, unable to relax and settle his mind. Somehow he had managed to clean up his mess in the morning. The following days the Hobbit could not even bring himself to touch the food, the taste of vomit strong on his lips. When he bathed, he noticed with shock that his ribs were visible. It both terrified and disgusted him, and he made sure no one else saw.
When they left Rivendell Bilbo looked back with longing, regretting his choice to not at least nibble on the food that had been there, or stuff a bit in his pack. He was sure if they continued on this trip he would not survive, but still he managed to put one foot in front of the other. He'd thought for a moment that Thorin might have noticed something was wrong, in fact he hoped he did, but it was in his mind, as the Dwarf said nothing and they continued on their way. He communicated little with the company, withdrawing into himself, and the journey was awkward without Gandalf beside him. None of them noticed anything amiss.
The mountain pass was the last straw. Bilbo was frozen and anxious, and he shivered in the wet rain of the storm. He was hungry and he wasn't at the same time. He snapped when spoken to and Thorin's clear hatred towards him had pushed him over the edge. He began to feel incredibly depressed. Bilbo knew he was worthless, he knew he should never have come, and so he tried to leave. He'd lashed out at Bofur, who did not deserve it at all. Bilbo felt sick both in body and in mind, though he had little time to think on it when they fell into the goblin caves below.
How he had managed to escape the creature in the caverns was a mystery. The riddles that had once come to his mind so easily in the Shire were but whispers in his head. He couldn't think straight at all. As a result he had panicked unable to come up with a proper riddle. He'd lost his buttons slipping through the crevice, though he knew he should not have fit through it at all. For a moment he thought he might have gone mad, invisible magic ring indeed. He'd escaped devastated, and the similarities between the creature and his own emaciated form were vividly stuck in his head. The site of the company overjoyed him, happiness surging through his frame. Though only moments later he felt intense pain at the Dwarf king's heated words. Though he might be starving, and he might not survive, somehow he decided to stay. He wanted to prove himself, he wanted Thorin's respect, and the shiny gold ring in his pocket gave him the courage to continue.
It was pure adrenalin that had him rushing to save Thorin's life. A poor decision in retrospect, but one he would not change in a heartbeat. Despite his growing distance from the company, he still felt compelled to save this King. And it had been worth it. The embrace had been everything. The warmth from the Dwarf's arms wrapped around him and stole his breath away. He wanted to be held, he wanted to be comforted. But when Thorin had looked at him with confusion and concern on his face, his hands hovering on the Hobbit's thin body for a moment too long, Bilbo knew he needed to be stronger, and he needed to hide his pain.
It wasn't until they arrived at Beorn's that Bilbo realised just how much weight he had lost. He'd grown so used to not eating by now that he barely felt compelled to do so. But the intense gaze of Thorin Oakenshield had him forcing food down at an impossible rate. Beorn had lifted his body effortlessly and caused nausea to settle in his stomach once again. He'd escaped quickly and quietly to the forest where he retched violently on the mossy ground. He sobbed, his emotions muddled, tears falling to the forest floor. Bilbo unbuttoned his shirt and ran fingers over his front. Bones poked aggressively at his skin, every rib visible on his sides. Even his hip bones jutted and his middle sunk in slightly. He'd never felt so…empty.
Soft footfalls behind him had the Hobbit standing quickly and covering his body with his arms. The motion caused him to collapse in sickness once more. He felt gentle hands press at his shoulders and he shivered at the touch, the cold night air chilling him to the bones.
"Halfling? What ails you?" Thorin asked worriedly. The Dwarf was pulling him to his feet and turning him slowly. Bilbo struggled to close his shirt, but Thorin was pushing his hands away. The Dwarf's eyes widened at the sight and he tentatively brushed his fingers against Bilbo's chest.
"You're skin and bones!" Thorin gasped out. Bilbo looked away in shame at having been found out and tried once more to button his shirt.
"Thorin, I-I'm fine," Bilbo insisted shakily, but the Dwarf gripped his wrists and pulled them to his sides.
"No, you are not, look, your ribs, they're practically poking through your skin!" He shouted, and pressed fingers into Bilbo's sides. The Dwarf's eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at Bilbo's body.
"You were not nearly this thin when we first met," Thorin spoke gently.
"Are you ill? What's wrong, what's caused this?" He continued, now looking into the Hobbit's eyes.
"N-no…it's nothing like that. Just…not been eating enough is all," Bilbo sputtered. Thorin seemed confused by this.
"We've all been eating the same amount…you've been getting your rations, I've watched," The Dwarf spoke, concern evident upon his face. Bilbo realized the Dwarves must truly not know. They must really be able to live on such small amounts of food.
"Hobbits…we…eat more I suppose," Bilbo began in explanation.
"What do you mean?" Thorin asked, genuinely surprised.
"Back in the Shire, I would have as many as six, sometimes seven meals a day if I could. All Hobbit's eat frequently. It's just…normal. I've never had to live on such little," Bilbo finished, and he looked away from Thorin's face. The Dwarf's grip tightened at his sides. It was now apparent just why the Hobbit's pantry had been so very large and full. He had not been expecting guests at all but instead, simply needed a plentiful supply for himself.
"We...we've been starving you," Thorin gasped out, his voice horrified and Bilbo looked up at him quickly.
"No! No…it's not your fault. Really…I'm fine, in fact I'm not really even hungry anymore," Bilbo urged, and tried to smile reassuringly. Thorin looked scandalized.
"This. Is not. Fine," He spoke, his voice hard, and his face stern. Thorin pulled a hand up and brushed it against Bilbo's face.
"Even your skin is looking pale, a few more days of this deprivation and you might have…," Thorin seemed unable to finish. He closed his eyes in pain before looking back at Bilbo and brushing hairs from his face.
"Why did you not tell me?" Thorin whispered, his voice soft and full of despair. Bilbo blinked nervously and fidgeted in the Dwarf king's grasp.
"I did not want you to think less of me…than you already did," he responded, swallowing timidly. Once again Bilbo was unable to look upon Thorin's face. He felt a finger at his chin, lifting it, and Thorin's other hand pressed against his neck, brushing at the hairs under his ear.
"Can you ever forgive me?" The Dwarf questioned in a soft tone, his face filled with anguish. Bilbo's eyes widened in surprise.
"F-for what?" The Hobbit asked, unsure what the Dwarf had done wrong. Thorin's eyebrows clenched as he studied the form before him. He could not believe how much he had wronged this innocent being.
"For being so blind," Thorin spoke, then he rest his brow against Bilbo's lightly, their noses brushing as he ran thick fingers through the Hobbit's hair. It was intimate, and Bilbo flushed despite his exhaustion. He nodded slightly against the Dwarf and pulled at his tunic with small hands. Bilbo's eyes had closed when Thorin spoke again.
"May I kiss you?" The Dwarf sounded unsure and he pulled away slightly, a hand resting on Bilbo's back. The Hobbit did not respond, but when he looked up the two figures leant together and their lips touched in a gentle kiss. When they parted Bilbo shivered a bit, the cold night air biting at his bones. Thorin quickly wrapped his cloak around him, pulling Bilbo's body into a tight embrace.
"I'll help you here Bilbo, slowly. We shall not leave until you are fully recovered, and your body is strong once more," Thorin said, pressing a kiss to the Hobbit's forehead. Bilbo snuggled into the Dwarf, glad for the warmth, and so incredibly tired.
"Th-that's…really not necessary, like I said, I'll be okay. I don't want to delay your journey," Bilbo weakly claimed. Thorin's grip only tightened and he rubbed circles on the Hobbit's back.
"I promise to take care of you my Halfling, from this day forth," Thorin murmured into his ear, kissing it as well. Bilbo sniffled lightly, emotions claiming him once more. His tears soaked the front of Thorin's tunic and his shoulders shook endlessly. The Dwarf held him snug and comforted him as he wept, never letting go.
"No harm will come to you," Thorin spoke gently, and he carefully led Bilbo back into the warmth of Beorn's home.
AN: Ah….I don't know what I'll be writing next. Thilbo? Fili/Kili? Should I tackle my first Dwalin/Ori?