Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations all characters find themselves in. Everything else belongs to someone else and that's the way it's gotta be according to the lawyers.

Note: I freely admit to having screwed with timelines, ages, geography, and storyline. I will however strive to keep the characters in character and you entertained. You have been warned.

By Royal Decree

The Durin line's obsession with their mountain and its gold had exacted a heavy price. One would have thought that the decades the remaining members of the royal line had spent away from the Lonely Mountain, and how they'd come to lose their home in the first place, would have insured that the dwarves would have learned what was truly important in this world and what was not. But alas, the obsession continued down the line, lying dormant at times but always bubbling to the surface at the worst of times. Thorin, son of Thrain, had seen firsthand what the madness had done to his grandfather and yet, when he was faced with the opportunity to retake his home, when he had seen the mountain again after so many years away from it, he to fell victim to its seductive call like a fallen tree. And it was because of that, after the first attempt to retake the mountain had failed, that he ended up making an agreement with the people of the Shire that honor bound him to not only come to their aid should it be needed in the future-but also to marry one of their kind to cement the deal and insure that his honor would demand that he and those after him would do right by them.

Blinded by his obsession, Thorin Oakenshield had agreed to marry a hobbit.

His second campaign to take back his home had been successful because the halflings had not only provided medical aid and supplies, but had also known of a secret way into the mountain that had been accidentally created by Smaug during his assault on Erebor. They had also gifted him with a special potion that could be opened near the dragon, the vapors from it harmless to dwarves but guaranteed to paralyze the creature, thus enabling them to slay it thanks to the vulnerable spot they discovered in its scaly armor. The new king would have preferred to make it suffer, as his people had suffered, but to avoid the loss of his companions that is what they did.

It was while they worked to chop up and remove the beast's carcass from the hollowed walls of his ancestral home that sense started to return to Thorin, his mind clearing to not only the difficulties that awaited him and his people now that they had Erebor back, but to the price he would personally pay for this triumph.

Many in his company urged him to refuse to honor the bargain he had made, especially since he was now King Under the Mountain and any bride he might take would become his consort. In his weakest moments Thorin had considered doing precisely that, but in the end he had forced himself to accept that he could not dishonor his line even though the leader of the hobbits had taken advantage of him and the situation. He had let himself be used this way and he would look at the bride he would take as a constant reminder to never again let himself be controlled so again.

And he had gotten some revenge so to speak, a bad choice in wording made in the hastily drawn up contract he'd signed when agreeing to the Thain's demands in exchange for his help. It stated in the contract that he agreed to marry a member of the Thain's own family, not specifying who that someone was-or their gender.

When he'd been in negotiations one hobbit had been present who had tried to argue on the dwarves' behalf. The halfling had tried to reason with the Thain, believing that they should give the dwarves aid because it was the right thing to do, or only demand a small amount of coin in return for their help if some trade must be made. Once his head had cleared up Thorin had recalled the hobbit's attempts to help him and it hadn't taken much effort to learn that the halfling, whose name turned out to be Bilbo Baggins, was distantly related to the Thain. In fact, most hobbits were related to each other somehow and he had named the man as his choice for consort.

That had certainly shocked the Thain, who had no doubted imagine one of his female kin producing a heir for the new king who would one day take the throne, but he had his sister's sons as heirs and had no intention of allowing someone who was not purely dwarf to ascend the throne after him.

Not about to repay the hobbit's kindness by forcing the man into something against his will, Thorin had approached Bilbo first, having already learned that the other man was a confirmed bachelor who was well thought of by most and considered kind, intelligent, and known to have a surprising interest in the world around him that was apparently quite uncommon in a hobbit.

So he had visited the hobbit, explaining both his situation and his reasons for choosing him. It would be a marriage in name only, and while the next few years would not be easy in some ways he would provide the hobbit with whatever he desired and would place no responsibilities on his shoulders. He would live a life of privilege and prestige, the consort of a king.

What he would have done if Bilbo had refused him Thorin wasn't sure, but thankfully, after the halfling had asked for a couple days to think it all over, the other man had agreed to the arrangement and a new deal was struck.

Once Erebor was fit for it, there would be a royal wedding to mark its reclaiming.

)

Many in the Shire thought Bilbo Baggins insane for agreeing to marry the King Under the Mountain, and the hobbit didn't necessarily disagree that they were wrong. He'd long ago passed the age when most of his kind married, and though no one mentioned it to his face he had no doubt that it was whispered behind closed doors that he was one of those unfortunate hobbits born with the highly regrettably inclination to desire his own sex instead of a female as was proper. Which was indeed true, though he didn't see himself in the same light as the most conservative of his kind did. Of course unlike them he was fairly familiar with the other races and knew that such inclinations were accepted among the dwarves due to the rarity of women, marriage between two males even allowed if permission was granted by their king.

Since he was marrying the king he didn't anticipate that being a problem.

And he had not agreed to marry the dwarf because he desired to be rich, powerful or famous, he did not want to be the husband of a king with all the strings and obligations that entailed regardless of what the dwarf had said about the life ahead of him. No, he had agreed to the marriage because he wanted Thorin Oakenshield.

When he'd been young he'd loved, loved with all his very being until the thought of being without his beloved had made death seem more preferable. The hobbit he'd loved had not loved him to the same degree though, choosing to marry and have children as that was what was expected of any normal, respectable member of their society. His heart had been broken, his dreams shattered, and his desire to pursue other relationships had been pretty much non-existent for the past twenty odd years.

He'd been used to that life until Thorin Oakenshield had come to the Shire asking for their help, his stunning blue eyes burning from within with power and determination, the dwarf's hard, muscled body moving with warrior grace as the king had passionately pled his case while displaying a love for his people and home that had taken Bilbo completely aback and had shocked him into feeling, wanting-drawing him like a moth to a flame.

Not being a fool he knew he was being one, which didn't make sense to him even as he thought it, but Bilbo shoved that aside to concentrate on what was important to think about. Agreeing to marry a man who'd actually told him to his face that he found him so undesirable their marriage would be in name only-it was perhaps the stupidiest decision he'd made in his fifty some years of life. But the idea of this man, this beautiful man marrying some other hobbit because he'd said no-he hadn't been able to stand the thought of it. It had hurt too much. And it had been so long since he'd felt this way for someone that he'd been determined to seize his chance and try-try to find some way to make it work.

If it didn't-well then it would be one hell of an adventure, and he had promised his mother on her deathbed that he'd have at least one before he passed on too, carrying on the Took tradition of behaving in a way no proper hobbit would.

How he wished Frodo or Gandalf was around to talk to, the hobbit thought to himself with a sigh, missing them both dreadfully. They would miss the wedding too, which would no doubt peeve them both quite a lot when they learned of it. Merry and Pippin would be annoyed too, but that was only because the two hated to miss a party and opportunity to drive their relatives to drink that much quicker. The relatives in question were going to throw him a going away party, but none of them would be traveling with him to Erebor for the actually wedding. That was probably for the best in the long run, he knew, but more friendly faces would have been nice. Thorin had offered to arrange escorts for his people so that they could attend and be brought back to the Shire safely, but he'd told the dwarf that his kind weren't comfortable leaving their homes and the very idea of going to the Lonely Mountain would have a number of them reaching for their smelling salts. The other reason was that none of them approved of what he was doing, but he hadn't mentioned that to the king least he take it as an insult.

But he'd see Gandalf and his relatives when they got back from their journey to destroy the ring the dwarves had discovered on their trek to the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo reminded himself sternly, determined not to let the attitude of his kin affect him. Personally he didn't see how a mere ring could be cause for such concern, but according to Gandalf destroying it was of the utmost importance and his heir and three of the boy's friends had ended up going with the wizard, Strider, a dwarf and an elven prince. Frodo would have quite the tales to tell when he got back, no doubt.

And he would have stories to tell him in turn, Biblo acknowledged as he forced himself to turn his attention back to packing up the belongings he would be taking with him.

Quite the stories to tell all around.

)

Thorin had made it absolutely clear to his travel companions that they were to treat the halfling like he was already a member of the royal family. The five he'd asked to travel with him were some of his closest and most trusted friends, which was why they were still quite outraged that their king was being forced by honor to marry some hobbit. A hobbit was better than an elf, they agreed, but the queer creatures didn't grow beards, were obsessed with eating, and weak as babes when it came to the battlefield. And being male this hobbit wouldn't be able to provide Thorin with children, which meant that the halfling was going to be beyond useless and nothing but trouble.

Listening them discuss the odd things they'd heard about hobbits and their habits Thorin just shook his head and mentally prayed that they would behave once they reached his intended's home. He was particularly worried about Kili, but he hadn't thought it wise to leave the boy back at the mountain. His nephews were a lot more trouble together than they were apart, and he had left Fili somewhat in charge of things. Balin was supervising, naturally, but he'd thought it a good idea to give his heir a taste of what it was like to have a kingdom on your shoulders.

He imagined the boy was going to be ridiculously happy to see him when he got back.

"I still say he must be a terrible person-not even one of his relatives wanting to come to the wedding." Kili was saying when Thorin tuned back into the conversation, his nephew's stubbornness clear in his voice. "It's very suspicious, I tell you."

"And also true that hobbits don't like to leave their territory. They're shy and timid creatures after all. The unfamiliar scares them half to death." Nori countered, trying to be a little optimistic for their king's sake.

Kili considered this and then speculated as to whether or not this Bilbo Baggins would die of natural causes before they even got to the mountain, the shock of the three day journey doing him in.

Not liking the hope that was in his nephew's voice Thorin reminded the younger dwarf that his soon to be uncle had obviously thought he could handle the journey and life on the mountain since he'd agreed to marry him in the first place. And there would be no attempts to hurry the halfling to his death or betting as to when that might occur either.

The look on the faces of the other dwarves indicated his 'no betting' edict had come a little too late.

"Well I'm looking forward to meeting the wee fellow." Bofur announced, the dwarf having volunteered for this mission because he'd feared his companions would scare the hobbit off before the ring was even on the man's finger. Thorin had picked this hobbit for a reason, and while he didn't know precisely what that reason was Bofur was sure that of all the hobbits in the Shire Bilbo Baggins must be the best one.

Grateful for Bofur Thorin could only hope the dwarf and Bilbo became fast friends on the journey home. He was concerned about the fact that the hobbit would have no one at the mountain, especially given the less than warm reception the other man would face once they arrived. Many of his people were against this marriage, especially now that he was king and therefore had the clot to marry someone appropriate to that rank. That he had decided on this course of action wouldn't stop his people's prejudices where non-dwarves were concerned. But he had warned Bilbo that he would face some opposition, feeling it was only fair to alert the hobbit to the situation, and the man hadn't seemed worried about it and he could only hope it would remain that way.

Lost in his thoughts as to how he could make this easier on his intended Thorin was surprised when they crested a hill only to spot the hobbit in question waiting for them at the bottom with a small but sturdy looking horse and cart, the latter weighed down with what he assumed were the hobbit's personal belongings. Obviously seeing them as well the hobbit gave a flick of the reins and started up the hill to meet them, the horse appearing to have no problem with the load.

"Well at least he's prompt." Bifur pointed out, studying the hobbit closely.

Deciding to meet the man part way Thorin nudged his own mount into heading down the hill, turning around so that he was riding alongside the cart when they met up. "Good morning."

"Good morning to you as well." Bilbo knew he looked sleep deprived, and boy was he ever, but he worked up a smile that he desperately hoped hid the worst of his nerves. "I hope your trip here was pleasant."

"It was. Is this everything you're bringing?"

"Yes. I decided to leave the furniture and such for Frodo when he gets back. I tried not to bring my whole library but I'm afraid there were too many I couldn't quite bear to leave behind. I hope that won't be too much trouble."

They'd have to make more stops than he would have liked to give the hobbit's horse rest from its burden, but the cart wasn't so big that they should have too many problems. The halfling seemed to have packed well, securing everything properly, and worst case scenario they could store the cart and its contents somewhere and come back for it with animals better able to carry the load.

"It should be fine. Do we need to stop anywhere so that you can say goodbye to anyone?"

"No. No I said goodbye to everyone last night. They threw me quite the going away party, which is why I probably look a mess. I didn't really sleep at all to tell you the truth, which is why I decided to come out and meet you."

From where he sat Thorin didn't think a lot of the man's relatives, who apparently didn't care enough to travel to Erebor to see Bilbo married and support him, but it wasn't his place to speak badly of them until he and the hobbit were married. Then the man's relatives would be his and he'd have plenty to say about them whenever they came this way to visit Frodo Baggins, who was Bilbo's heir and was apparently like a son to his intended. He hadn't had the chance to meet the young hobbit, but if he was willing to go off with Gandalf to destroy that cursed ring he and his company had found Thorin was inclined to think well of the lad.

"Ready to go?"

"Ready."