So this fic is a continuation of "How to Offend a Hobbit."
I swear, I had no intention of continuing it, but the other night I was hit with a fic idea that fit nicely in the story I already developed.
So here it is! Enjoy!
Burden has a way of wearing down on someone. It cuts deep, but slow, like water on stone. It leaves marks that can sometimes be filled or repaired, if shallow enough. A truly great burden however, leaves holes and ruts, scars that will never quite go away.
Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror, former King Under the Mountain, knew this all too well. The burden he carried came from the fall of his people, the loss of their home. He shouldered his grandfather's greed and death, and the loss of his father. He was heir to the mountain and he took all burdens that came with it.
But now, for the first time in over a century, Thorin felt... light. The dragon slain, his homeland returned, his people would be restored. Though he was no longer king, everything he had set out to do had been accomplished. He was free. And while that felt strange, empty even, everything was right with the world.
Well almost everything. He was dead after all. Cut down in the Battle of the Five Armies, he had died under Bilbo's watchful eye, his hobbit. Oh how he missed him.
Bilbo had talked until darkness took him, speaking of love, a promise of life together, hopeful and bright. Unable to bear the Lonely Mountain after that, the hobbit had departed for his home less than a day later, red-eyed and with little more than a broken heart to show for it.
So while Thorin's spirit felt light, he couldn't help but worry a little. How was his little burglar? As Thorin lay dying, Bilbo had admitted to returning his love. He had been ecstatic at the time, but now he realized that such a confession likely tore into his hobbits heart. Loving someone as their life drained from their eyes before you. He could only hope that Bilbo was holding it together as best he could now.
He also worried for his sister-sons. After his passing, Fili was to take the throne of Erebor. He knew that both boys could handle the pressures of leadership, but after what he had suffered, leaving them to the same fate was hard. How would this burden change them? How long would they remain the boys he had always known?
There was nothing he could do now of course. His actions were set in stone, his mind made up. He continued forward.
Thorin had expected to run into company on his journey. He had been counting on it. However, he had been hoping for a far happier greeting than the one he was receiving now."
Thorin deflected the spear aimed at his face with his sword, feeling the scars on his chest pull painfully. "Cease this attack at once!" he grunted.
Bifur only swept his weapon toward him again.
"Bofur, stop him!" Thorin shouted, stepping out of the way just in time. Despite the axe embedded in his head, Bifur was exceptionally good with a spear and it was only a matter of time before he ended up a pin cushion for him.
"To be honest, I'm not sure if I should." Bofur piped up from behind Bifur. He was brandishing his mattock, but looked hesitant to actually use it. "Thorin, when last we saw, ye were dead!"
"And that is a justifiable reason to try to kill me again?!"
For a moment, Bofur looked ready to retort, but seemed to think better of it. He lowered his weapon and stepped toward where his cousin was swinging intently at the former leader of their company. He laid a hand on his shoulder and murmured something in his ear. Bifur seemed none too pleased, leveling Thorin with a glare, but he stopped his attack for the time being.
"Thank you." Thorin grunted, rubbing one hand over his aching chest as he relaxed his stance.
"Look, no offense, but until ye explain all of..." Bofur waved an arm at his former king. "This, the being alive business, we can't exactly trust ya."
Bifur grunted something and jabbed his spear toward Thorin.
"Basically, we want to make sure ya aren't some sort of evil spirit or crazed hallucination, ya see."
On one hand, Thorin understood their suspicion. Bofur and Bifur had left with Bilbo after the battle, intent on getting him back to the Shire unharmed. The return journey was bound to have been significantly easier, but not entirely without it's risks. He had not been around to make the decision, but he was more than pleased that the company had arranged it as such.
On the other hand, to have his companions, his friends, look on him as a malevolent spirit intent on haunting them was more than a little frustrating.
"I'm not dead, though many still believe me to be." Thorin began, sheathing his sword now that Bifur seemed to have concluded his jabbing. "Apparently, after Bilbo pronounced me to have passed, Oin failed to perform his own examination of my body before I was moved to the crypt for proper burial." Following this mistake, Thorin had given the resident medic an earful, most of which he failed to hear anyway.
"Ye were covered in yer own blood! Ye looked nearly split in half from yer wounds!" Bofur protested. "Ye can't tell me ye were still alive."
Thorin nodded grimly. "For the next two days. Apparently no one noticed my lack of rigor mortis and the fact that my skin wasn't completely frigid. At least until Gandalf came to check on my corpse."
Bifur nudged his cousin and gestured wildly, to which Bofur nodded quickly, repeating the question to Thorin.
"Why did no one come after us? We were less than two days gone from Erebor! Our burglar was beside himself with grief!"
Thorin grimaced and glared at a rock by his foot. "Had I been conscious to make the decision, I would have sent for you. Oin thought it best not to get anyone's hopes up. I was far gone as it was and he doubted I would live."
"But ye did? Ye recovered and now... Ye are here. Instead of in Erebor?" Bofur's brow furrowed beneath his hat. "Why?"
Nudging the rock with his toe, Thorin looked up at the toymaker and smiled. "Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror, King Under the Mountain is dead. Buried in Erebor with the Dwarf Lords of Old."
For a moment, this only seemed to confuse Bofur more, and then, understanding dawning in his eyes, he grinned back. "Everyone thinks yer dead." He said slowly. "Well, most everyone. Who else?"
"Just the company and Gandalf."
"And yer on the East Road." The toymaker continued, his grin crinkling his face, glee sounding in his voice now. "Yer going to see Bilbo!"
All of a sudden, Bifur dropped his spear to the road and let out a whoop, his fist pumping in the air. He gave a big, toothy grin to the former King Under the Mountain before sweeping him into a crushing hug.
Thorin grunted at the indignity of it, as well as from the crushing grip. He tried to remind himself that he may be royalty, he can no longer claim the necessity of maintaining the public image to disallow this kind of... social contact.
It was another moment before Bofur descended and squeezed the two of them with a laugh. "Always knew you had sense when it came to our little hobbit."
"Yes, well... I may not have purposely faked my own death, but I am willing to use the situation to my own advantage." Thorin replied when he managed to extract himself from the two, though Bifur continued his excited patting of his shoulder.
"By going to the Shire and sweeping our esteemed Mr. Baggins off of his large hairy feet and living happily ever after?"
"With any luck."
"Then I wish you all the luck in the world, my friend." Bofur replied, grinning as he gave Thorin a hearty slap to his back. "Now hurry and rescue our burglar from his grief."
It was, after another month of travel, that Thorin found himself in Hobbiton, where all of this had started.
By his estimate, Bilbo had been back in his Hobbit-Hole for nearly two months. It was a long time to be alone, grieving. The thought of it drove Thorin's feet faster through the narrows paths of the settlement.
The sun had set more than an hour ago, and he felt himself reliving that first night where he had lost his way twice before finding the residence of Gandalf's chosen fourteenth member of their company. The night was pleasantly cool and the heady scent of grass drifted around him. Lights twinkled out of windows around him and he could hear the sound of families laughing and talking together. There was merriment in this little settlement he had missed the first time he had come. It was all very domestic, something he had never wanted back then, such a short time ago. But now... Domestic had driven him from his kingdom, through forests, and mountains. It was all he really wanted now.
Thorin was pleased when he found he remembered the way to Bag-End and its big green door appeared on the hill above him. A single dim light flickered out into the night from the kitchen.
He was home.
So I want to thank bilbolovesthorin over on tumblr for giving me the idea on how Thorin survives after my previous fic!
And I would just like to say, that if all goes as planned, there are quite a few more chapters involved in this fic...
*Muradul! - Khuzdul for spirit. It's probably not correct, because the language is complicated, but I tried...