A/N: any and all comments or constructive criticisms are welcomed with open arms. Your encouragement means the world to me. This may also be found on AO3 under the same name.
Written for a prompt on the hobbit kink meme: "When Fili and Kili meet Bilbo's nephew, Frodo, they fall head over heels for the just-coming-of-age hobbit. Now they just have to court him :)"
When a knock on the door jolts Bilbo and Frodo from their supper, Bilbo is at once irritated. "Oh, bother," he says, putting his fork and knife down with some force.
"Don't get up, Uncle," Frodo says. "I'll get the door."
Bilbo's shoulders slump a little in relief. "Thank you, my boy. It seems that we might never get a moment of peace."
Frodo smiles as he walks to the door. There seems to be a never-ending stream of guests at Bag End, what with his and Bilbo's birthdays mere weeks away. His uncle, who is truly a cousin, would prefer to bar the doors until the day comes, and has become ever-more annoyed by the constant interferences into their days and evenings.
Opening the door with a slight flourish, Frodo finds himself frozen in place. He had expected a distant relation of some sort, perhaps two, who had come to discuss party business. That is not, however, what he is presented with.
Frodo must look as shocked as he feels, for before he can gather his wits, his guests are in motion.
"Fíli," says one.
"Kíli," says the other.
"At your service," they say together with a bow.
Frodo opens his mouth to greet them, mind awhirl with excitement and slight confusion, when a sudden cry comes from behind him. He turns in time to see Bilbo rush down the hall, his eyes beaming with happiness.
"Mr. Bilbo!" The one introduced as Fíli steps forward and meets Bilbo in an embrace, and the other joins them, both arms thrown wide.
Frodo finds that he is smiling uncertainly. He recognizes these dwarves as those from Bilbo's tales, but he is a little intimidated by their size, and how Bilbo has disappeared almost entirely between them.
When they eventually pull apart, Bilbo is held at arm's length by Kíli, who is grinning. "It is very good to see our burglar," he says.
"And it is very good to see both of you," Bilbo says. "Though I must say I nearly did not recognize you, Kíli. Your beard has filled out most impressively."
Frodo can only assume that Bilbo's words are some very impressive compliment indeed, for Kíli pulls Bilbo into his arms once again. It is at this point that Frodo notices the blonde dwarf, Fíli, watching him with interest.
"And who is this, Bilbo?" Fíli asks.
"Oh dear me," says Bilbo, ushering Frodo closer. "I'm terribly sorry my boy, I got quite caught up."
Bilbo takes hold of Frodo's shoulder and indicates the dwarves in turn. "Fíli, Kíli, I would like to introduce you to my heir and ward, Frodo Baggins."
Both of the dwarves look startled momentarily, but recover near-flawlessly by transitioning into smiles. They bow again, this time briefly, and Frodo finds himself flushing a little under both of their gazes.
"At your service and your family's," Frodo says in the Dwarvish custom that Bilbo had instructed him. "Are you here for the celebrations?"
Bilbo hums happily, bouncing a little on his toes. "Yes, are you?"
"We couldn't miss it," says Kíli. His brother nods in agreement.
"Excellent." Bilbo grins at Kíli and Fíli again and says, "You will be staying here, of course. I'll not have you put up in some inn down the way, not when we have plenty of room. Though I'm sure the innkeepers will disparage our stealing of their business."
"That's very kind of you," says Fíli. "There are two more in our party; shall we tell them to join us?"
"Yes, yes," says Bilbo. "As long as no one minds sharing rooms. Who else has come, then? It's quite the distance, and with all of the years, well, I hadn't expected so many to come."
"Bofur has come, and Bifur too. They are travelling with the cart."
"We went ahead once we entered Hobbiton," says Kíli. "They won't be far behind."
"Thorin will be along in a week, give or take a couple of days. The roads were calm, and we don't suspect he'll come upon any trouble," Fíli adds. "He was caught up in meetings."
"To get everything ready for his absence, you see." Kíli smirks. "Dwalin's escorting him. He would thump us something good to hear it said, but he's been slowing down these last few years."
Fíli nudges his brother in the ribs. "He and Dwalin didn't want to try and keep up with us."
Bilbo's hands are shaking a little, which he hides by shoving them into his pockets. "He's coming?"
Fíli smiles a little, gently. "Yes."
"This trip has been many years in the making," Kíli says. "And with your most recent correspondence, well, we couldn't keep away. Had to come see our burglar off, we did!"
Frodo frowns, a spike of anxiety fluttering in his chest. Bilbo has been speaking of plans to travel, but he had never indicated that he was serious. That he was actually going to leave.
"Well then," Bilbo says somewhat hastily. "How about a cup of tea? Or that ale that you liked so much. You lot drank the whole keg last time, if I remember correctly."
"We would enjoy some ale very much, thank you," says Fíli.
"It has been a very long journey," says Kíli in agreement.
Fíli and Kíli strip off their weapons and outer cloaks, gratefully handing the heavy burdens to Frodo and Bilbo to be stored away on the multitude of hooks and chairs surrounding the entrance hall.
"I'll get that ale flowing," Bilbo says, already heading down the hall with hurried steps. "Frodo will get you situated in the kitchen," he yells behind him.
Frodo nods easily and smiles at the dwarves. "Follow me, if you will."
Kíli's eyes had follow Bilbo as he bustled by, and now he looks to Frodo and says, "Lead on, Master Baggins."
Bag End is littered with books and maps and miscellaneous papers. It is the detritus of a well-lived life full of easy days with noses buried in written tales, and of learning. Always learning; of other places, languages, and peoples. Candle stumps and empty ink pots clutter every ledge and surface, and the scent of roasted vegetables and meat fills the air.
Frodo leads Fíli and Kíli into the kitchen, all the while stepping around chests, chairs and sheaves and piles of paper. Bilbo can be heard muttering as he taps a keg of ale in the pantry, and Frodo watches as the dwarves run the tips of their fingers along door jams and furniture as though lost in some deep memory.
When they reach the kitchen Frodo notes that Kíli has to duck down to get through the door. The brothers are both tall, especially when considered by a hobbit, but Kíli is especially so. Frodo wonders if the beds will be too short for Kíli, and if his feet will hang over the edges. Perhaps they will have to resort to setting the brothers up in the room they usually reserve for Gandalf. There a Man-sized bed resides.
Shaking the thoughts from his head, Frodo hurries to clear the table of scattered maps and things so that they can all sit comfortably. Bilbo and Frodo don't often entertain guests in the kitchen, and they have only left two spots clear, where their abandoned plates of food now lay.
Bilbo comes into the room with two mugs of ale, and sets them before Fíli and Kíli.
The dwarves raise the mugs in thanks and take deep pulls. Frodo is amused by the dribbles of golden brew that spill down their beards and dot their shirts with wet patches. But then, he supposes, it must be different to drink with those great beards than without.
"You've arrived at supper time again," says Bilbo. He sees the little smiles that Kíli and Fíli share. "Which I'm sure you didn't intend in the least," he says, knowing otherwise.
Frodo laughs at the contrition that paints the dwarves' faces, which is almost completely covered by the earnest expectation there as well. At the sound of his mirth all eyes turn to him, and Frodo finds that his smile freezes at the intensity of their eyes.
"There is plenty to eat," says Bilbo. "Frodo my boy, why don't you get that ham from the pantry? We'll cook up some more potatoes and tomatoes, and there will be enough for everyone."
Frodo is glad to have an excuse to leave the room, to break away from the stares of Fíli and Kíli, and he rushes to get the leg of cured and smoked ham from the pantry. He grabs a platter of breads and cheeses along the way, and goes back to the kitchen with his arms laden.
Kíli jumps up. "Here, let me." And he takes the plate with the ham on it from Frodo and sets it on the table.
"Thank you," Frodo says. He sets down the last plate, and turns to help Bilbo grab more plates and cutlery.
Soon they are eating a hearty meal and drinking down ale and tea. Kíli and Fíli make appreciative noises over the salted and smoked ham, and eat so much bread and cheese that they are groaning over their empty plates about their full bellies before long.
"You did not travel all this way alone, did you?" Bilbo asks when they have finished the meal and cleared away the leftovers. He looks concerned.
Kíli rolls his eyes a little and Fíli says, "No. We joined a party of miners and craftsmen on their way to the mines of Ered Luin."
"Thorin would not dare let his heirs travel the East-West Road alone," Kíli says. There is no sarcasm or ill-favour in his voice, which speaks much about the maturity the last 60 years have afforded him.
"And a good thing, too, I should say," Bilbo says. "Dark times are ahead, I think. The roads aren't as safe as they used to be."
Fíli hums in agreement. "'Tis true. There are a great many more orcs in the world now than I have every known there to be."
Kíli nods solemnly. "The East-West Road is well-used by our kin and by the elves on their way to the sea, and I fear that if it weren't so our trip might never have occurred at all."
"Then I am even more glad that you have come," says Bilbo, his voice heavy with emotion.
"Even Gandalf remarked on this occasion the last time he was in Erebor," says Kíli. "We were beginning to think that the whole of Middle-earth was going to travel to the Shire."
Frodo laughs and says, "Maybe not all of Middle-earth, but the whole of the Shire itself seems to be ready to converge on Bag End."
Bilbo lets out a hearty laugh. "One hundred and eleventy is a special number among hobbits, you see," explains Bilbo. "And with Frodo's coming of age being on the same day, we are sure to have half the Shire in attendance." He looks at Frodo and says pointedly, "Or more."
"You share a birthday, then?" asks Kíli. "That is some luck."
"Yes," Frodo says as he pours more tea for himself. The dwarves have already been plied with a third round of ale, this time drinking slowly so that Frodo hasn't had to refill their mugs quite so often. "Would you like some more, Uncle?" Frodo asks, moving to fill Bilbo's cup again.
"Yes, thank you my boy."
"Uncle?" Kíli asks. "He's not yours?" He and Fíli stare a Bilbo intently, as though they are asking for a greater reason than curiosity.
Bilbo laughs and he and Frodo share a smile. "No, no. We're cousins by two manners, and Frodo has lived here he was a young lad."
"Ah." Kíli leans back and takes a sip of ale. "I was getting concerned that we would be faced with a missus Baggins."
"And I can imagine," says Fíli, "that any person brave enough to marry our burglar would not be one to mess with."
Bilbo laughs. "I've kept my bachelorhood quite well all of these years. I'm in no hurry to change that."
And so they drink and laugh and tell tales of their exploits over the years, and generally avoid any topics too serious to warrant grim consideration. It is after Frodo and Bilbo have joined the dwarves in drinking ale when the sound of ponies and a wagon reach their ears.
"That'll be Bifur and Bofur," says Kíli as he stands.
"Aye. And they'll be needing no little amount of help in unloading everything." Fíli empties his mug in one long swallow and follows Kíli to the door.
Bilbo, looking overjoyed, hurries along.
Frodo follows at a more sedate pace. He hears laughter and joyous greetings before he makes it to the front hall. He is met once again by the sight of Bilbo being engulfed in the arms of dwarves.
This time the dwarves who greet Bilbo are closer to the height of a hobbit, though they are still broader and heftier with muscle. One has his hair braided in three ways, one to the back and two to the sides, and the other has an axe-head healed into his skull. It is easy for Frodo to distinguish Bofur and Bifur on sight, as Bilbo had always spoken well and at length of them.
"It is a joy to see you again, Bofur," says Bilbo.
Bofur's hair is mostly grey, and his great mustache is lined with jeweled beads that sway with his movements. His grin is bright and merry as he looks upon Bilbo. "And you, my friend," he says.