Summary: After the Battle of Five Armies, Bilbo leaves with the clothes on his back, memories, and scars, but no riches. Unbeknownst to Thorin, Bilbo takes with him a treasure greater than the Arkenstone and the kingdom of Erebor put together. Bilbo/Thorin, M-Preg/Slash. Also Dwalin/Ori and Balin/OC.
A/N: This is completely new material for me. Never written something like this before, but I'm always one for a challenge. This is obviously an AU story for a LOT of reasons, one of which being I couldn't find the heart to kill off any of the original company. However, that doesn't mean all is going to be peaches and cream after the Battle of Five Armies, nor with Bilbo and Thorin particularly throughout all of this, quite the opposite in fact. Male pregnancies just do not happen, fact of life that one, but I'm hoping my interpretation and the story to follow will make that just a tiny little oversight. My hopes are to incorporate a lot of different elements like humor, drama, romance, suspense, fantasy faithful to the nature and world of Middle-Earth (as much as I can)-all the good stuff jam-packed into one believable and realistic story. Understandably I have my work cut out for me, but I blame my nuisance of a rabid plot-bunny infestation for actually getting me this far. I can't say for sure how often I'll be able to update this with grad school rapidly approaching, but know that I will continue to put my best foot forward.
Warnings: Slash obviously. However, the only two slash pairings I'll be exploring here will be Thorin/Bilbo and Dwalin/Ori. Can't bring myself to write incest, just not my thing, so no Kili/Fili bromance, just normal brother companionship. There will eventually be a Balin/OC pairing too. The sexuality of these relationships will not be explicit, leastways I don't think. That aside, there will be plenty of cursing and colorful language (maybe even in multiple languages at once), some graphic descriptions pertaining to the birth much later and some earlier medical mishaps-so in other words blood-and a fair amount of suspense and scariness later on towards the end. So in some respects this story may be rated above what the material truly warrants, but I'm not one for giving myself limits either, so we'll see where the story takes us. It could very well at one point or another earn the M-rating.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make no profit from this. All are sole property of the Tolkien estate, the original creator J.R.R. Tolkien, and Christopher Tolkien.
Chapter One – The Traitor of Erebor
"Just not natural," Bilbo grumbled to himself in the dirt, after tripping over the fourth tree root since this morning. "Nope."
This forest is bewitched.
The water in the streams make you sleep.
And the tree roots have wills of their own.
The worn hobbit sighed and started to pick himself up again, but was suddenly hoisted up onto his feet by a familiar hand on his back, dirty fingers digging into the folds of his poor coat. He squirmed and yelped, completely undignified, and didn't bother restraining himself from glaring at Thorin as he passed. The dwarf said nothing in reply. And Bilbo would swear on his mother's good china that their 'king' was hiding a smirk too, albeit a tired one.
Kili caught up to his brother, ahead of Bilbo, and gave Fili a good-natured victory shove. "Pay up, brother."
"The day's not done yet, brother. And I'm sure Master Baggins will find another root to trip over," Fili said, turning around and bowing his head in apology. "No offense meant, of course."
Bilbo shrugged with a frown.
"But then neither of us wins the bet," Kili complained. "You bet he'd trip three times. I bet four."
Fili turned to Kili with a smile and clapped him on the arm. "And if neither of us wins, neither change purse loses any weight and they live to bet another day."
Kili stopped with a confused look. "But neither of us wins!"
Fili sighed loudly and continued on. Kili eventually followed, but Bilbo fell to the back with Ori who was looking a bit more downtrodden than usual. Neither one said a thing, but Bilbo could tell that having someone to walk beside him helped matters. Mirkwood was wearing on all of them. Endless darkness, ominous sounds that echoed for ages, dank smells, little to forage for. There was no doubt in Bilbo's mind that any family of hobbits, aside from the Tooks maybe (and on a particularly adventurous day), wouldn't last an hour in a place like this. There was absolutely nothing comforting about it, and Bilbo had heard tales of this place since he was a little boy. It was hardly the place his mother made it out to be from the books. And it didn't feel right either. The air felt stale and old in an unnatural way. How elves could be living here was beyond his imagining, and if they truly did, Bilbo wondered what kind of elves they were.
Up ahead, Thorin climbed onto a tall rock to get a better sense of where the path continued to blindly lead them. Bilbo stopped short as he looked on the kind of elves that could live in a place like this had inspired the loyalty and courage he saw every day in those that followed Thorin Oakenshield. Elves that helped shape this stalwart leader, his mind whispered to him. Elves that must in some way be terrible indeed.
Later that night, or when the darkness around them got darker, Thorin called for a halt and the company went about setting up camp. Normally they would have stopped long before then, but there were no suitable places like there used to be outside the wood that would serve as a proper resting place. The aerie, though out in the open, had served them as a perfect resting place above the treetops. Even some camps they made outside of the shire that didn't have too much cover had served them better than this wood. The problem was, there was no safe place in Mirkwood. No rock, nor hole, nor tree could save them a moment from the eyes.
Those awful eyes that never left them alone.
They followed, they bred unease, they stole sleep. To Bilbo they were the most horrid thing he had yet to come across on this journey because if they belonged to some vile beast that wanted nothing more than to eat them all whole (for you could also say the same of Bilbo's hunger at this point), then it could at the very least have the decency to not wait until its prey withered down to nothing more than skin and bone. Seeing an enemy coming toward you with full intent to kill you was one thing, but waiting for one to spring felt ten times worse.
Bilbo dropped down onto a rock and pulled his pack off his shoulders with a wince. You'd think he'd be used to carrying this kind of weight around by now, and it was getting slightly lighter each day too! He sighed and leaned back, feeling exhaustion take its turn to weigh him down again. All he wanted to do was just close his eyes and rest. He was dead on his feet. He'd wound up tripping again before they made camp, which didn't go unnoticed by both of Thorin's nephews. And the last time he very nearly fell face first into a pile of questionable goo, left by nature knows what. He knew it wasn't all the cause of roots rising out of the dirt to meet him, but he almost wished that was the truth instead. Leastways that would make him feel a bit more sound of mind.
Thorin stopped in front of him and crouched down, his back to the rest of the group, speaking lowly. "You're not sleeping."
It wasn't really an accusation or a question, though it felt like a little of both. Bilbo scoffed in reply. "Who can with eyes staring at them everywhere? And things growling and moving around. I keep having nightmares I'm being eaten by something only to wake up and find they haven't gotten on with it yet. The noises I can stand, but the eyes, well, they're downright rude if you ask me."
Thorin cracked a smile, but it just as soon faded away on their topic of conversation. "I have felt them as well. They are most unwelcome."
"And yet you find rest! Sorry, I'm just envious is all. I haven't had a proper sleep in…can't remember when."
"Would you know my secret?"
"I would give up half my share of the treasure to know your secret."
Thorin raised one of his bushy brows. "Careful what you risk, burglar."
Bilbo shrugged his aching shoulders with a bitter smile. "Well, it all depends on me not getting incinerated, so in the very likely outcome I do you get my whole share anyway. Either way you win something."
"Your share will be yours to keep because that will not happen. You need not give up anything. I seem to remember I am still indebted to you for saving my life."
"Oh, not this again," the hobbit groaned. How many times did he have to tell the stubborn dwarf he owed him nothing?! Still yet once more it seemed, and just as the familiar words were on his tongue, Thorin grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him towards his face.
"You could have died yourself," the dwarf hissed. "Because of my foolishness, my pride, and my anger. You did a very brave and selfless deed. To older dwarves like Balin that would have been as good as a declaration of love."
Bilbo's eyes widened in surprise so quickly it caused Thorin to laugh.
"Please tell me that was your attempt at a joke," Bilbo said, feeling the tips of his ears flush and nervous laughter build up in his chest.
"A poor jest perhaps," the king allowed as he stood. "Come to me tonight after the others have gone to sleep, and I will show you my secret. I would wager you tire of tripping over tree roots."
As Thorin walked away, Bilbo narrowed his eyes at the dwarf's retreating back. No one else had noticed, for they had given them some rare privacy at a wordless request of their leader by only turning a back. It reminded Bilbo how much respect Thorin commanded among the group, but had he ever seen the king look like that at anyone else? It struck him as odd, and he wasn't entirely sure why.
He wasn't sure which came first, the darkness or the pain, but in the darkness he felt a cool breeze across his face and warm rays from the sun. They were comforts that reminded him of a cool autumn day back in the shire, when he used to fall asleep on the swing seat under the tall tree behind Bag End. His mind wanted him to believe he was back home, but something told him he wasn't, that he hadn't been for a very long time. Something else tugged at his heart, wanting him to stay blissfully unaware in sleep, as if there were things he shouldn't want to remember. But he remembered them regardless.
There had been a battle.
Heartache led to it.
Blood had been shed.
And then nothing.
He opened his eyes and quickly shut them with a hiss.
Something creaked to his left. A chair maybe. Someone was sitting at the bedside of the traitor. He turned his head away from the light and tried opening his eyes again. His vision swam as the throbbing in his head beat against his skull harder. Had he hit his head?
"Yes, you did indeed hit your head. And you have a decent size lump to show for it."
An old face with wrinkles, bushy eyebrows, and long grey beard filled his line of sight.
"Gandalf?" His voice sounded horrible, like he'd swallowed gravel.
The wizard smiled down at him in relief nonetheless. "My dear hobbit. We worried it would be much longer before you woke."
Bilbo frowned as his vision cleared. A small ladle was put in front of his mouth and he drank the water down like a dying man to quench the fire in his throat. He choked a little and coughed, but waved off a second portion, knowing from experience that too much would only make his stomach worse. As he laid back down he took stock of what he could see and feel. He was lying down on a cot in a tent with flaps that were being blown about in the chill autumn wind. He was barely covered with a threadbare woolen blanket that had seen better days. And somehow there was a small rolled up cloak pillowing his bandaged head.
"We," he asked, or croaked.
"Thranduil and his son were kind enough to tend to you in your sleep," Gandalf informed him, dropping the ladle back into the bucket of water by the bedside. "Thankfully all you received as a result of the battle were nothing more than some scrapes and bruises, and an unfortunate bump on the head."
Bilbo glanced at the wizard and saw how battle-worn he seemed as well. Then he turned away to look at the canvas top of the tent, taking note of the holes and suspicious speckled stains. He wondered whose blood it was. "Seems unlikely."
Gandalf frowned as he pulled his pipe away from his mouth. "Unlikely?"
Bilbo scoffed. "I'm the traitor of Erebor, remember? Who would concern themselves with someone like that, and royalty for that matter?"
"Those who see the truth, Bilbo. The elves think very highly of you for your efforts, despite what any dwarf may mistakenly choose to believe."
He sighed and closed his eyes, wanting sleep to come back and pull him under. "At least someone does," he muttered.
"And do not be so ready to judge those who are bound to hold allegiance to their king. Some among the company know of the sacrifice you made for their sakes. Not all were as affected by the gold-lust as Thorin was."
Bilbo's eyes popped open, and he could feel the fear welling up inside as he searched the wizard for any trace of truth to the whispers that erupted in his head. "Was? Is he…? Where-Where is everyone," he asked, trying to push himself into a sitting position. "Are they-?"
Gandalf put a hand on his shoulder and pressed him back down on the cot. Bilbo didn't protest much since his headache only worsened and he started to feel a bit dizzy. "How quickly you forget that head wounds are not to be trifled with. To answer your question, my friend, all are accounted for though not without injury and some loss. You were the last of the company we were fortunate to find among the dead."
"Who did we lose?"
"Many on both sides, though none of our own as far as today allows me to see."
Bilbo was almost afraid to ask, but the need in his heart gave him the strength to ask. "The boys?"
The wizard paused to take a few puffs of his pipe before continuing in a graver tone than before. "Fili has not woken since he fell, and with each passing day his chances will continue to decline. He took a poisoned blade meant for his brother by Bolg, son of Azog. It has caused much bleeding, some inside that cannot be properly drained, and infection has set in. If he wakes, it is very possible the fever may have altered his mind. It has been too high for too long."
Bilbo felt sick, sicker than he'd felt the past few days at the thought of Fili doing so poorly. That boy never failed to put a smile on his face, to reassure him of brighter days to come, victorious days with honor and a return to glory. He was full of life and light in a way that made Bilbo think of some of his hobbit cousins back home. There was untainted innocence in him still. He was young, far too young for death yet. He was Thorin's heir. He had so much in front of him that it was impossible for Bilbo to even fathom the possibility that he may not be the same, nor the other possibility that…
"And Kili," he asked. "What of him? What of his brother?"
"He lives, though there is a chance he may not walk of his own free will again. He took a heavy blow to his leg, which crippled the muscle and very nearly severed one of his major bloodlines. Both are lucky to be breathing, though I do not know if luck would be the most appropriate word."
Bilbo bit his lip and spent a moment trying to rein in a sudden burst of anger. It seemed entirely unfair, unfair that those boys were suffering and here he was with only a lump on his head to show for the peril they had all been in not so long ago. "And Thorin?"
Gandalf pursed his lips and a dark look passed through his eyes. "Nothing more than a few broken bones and wounds that will scar over. Though the fallings of his nephews brought him back to us, in many ways he is still lost. Loss has a way of bringing lost souls home, but grief can blind the greatest of seers for a century. I had hoped fate would shake Thorin of his foolish pride, but not at the cost his nephews paid in his stead. Do not mistake me, Bilbo, I would not wish ill on any living being, no matter their crimes, for in due time wrongs will be answered and in more time after that perhaps forgiven. Though it is not in my power to cast such judgment, what is in my power as well as yours is our capacity for pity. It is not as thin a thing that man has come to take it for nowadays. At its heart, pity is the very thing that separates the darkness of this world from the light. Between both compelling forces are shades, and within them lie the secrets of life. Of courage, of forgiveness, resistance, and even redemption once in an age. Every soul loses its way. Every soul passes for a time through trial, through challenges that will decide which side they will ultimately turn out on. But we cannot force them, much less guide them by our own judgment if their path is theirs to find."
Bilbo shifted on his cot with a wince. "What can we do?"
"Hope," the wizard said, sitting back in the creaky chair.
Hope? Bilbo wanted to laugh. Hope was the very thing that brought him here and took everything away. Hope led him to sadness. Hope led him to loss. Hope led him to pain. Hope made him take that cursed stone. Hope made him think he could save his friends. Hope made him think he would still have friends.
And where were they now, his mind whispered. Where had hope led him?
"He trusted me," Bilbo whispered. "Gandalf, he trusted me and I betrayed him. It's my fault-"
"Never before has a more foolish statement passed those lips of yours, Bilbo Baggins," the wizard snapped. "Have you not listened to a word I have said? Thorin Oakenshield made his own choices and they are his to right. Blame is a pauper's slight of hand. You acted nobly and as fate would have you serve, through the good of your own heart. Never question that Bilbo, for if you do your eyes will turn as dark as Thorin's did."
Bilbo closed his eyes and took a deep shuddering breath before forcing himself to open them again to the light. He didn't understand how he could ever banish the memory of those foreign eyes glaring down at him, but there was one important thing that outshone those painful ordeals. "He's alive. That's what matters. That's all that mattered." Bilbo tried to sit up again and waved Gandalf's protests off. His head swam a bit, but the pain wasn't as bad as before. "But I can't imagine he'd want to see me again after what was said. If he ever does, he needs more than time. I can't stay here. Everything's over and done with, the contract's carried out, there's no reason why I shouldn't go back home where I belong. Back to the shire…"
Bilbo frowned as the words came out so easily. Somehow they didn't hold the same meaning anymore and the feeling frightened him a little. But Bag End was his home. Erebor was Thorin's. And he had done what he set out to do. He had helped them reclaim it, even at his own expense. He would deal with the loss in time. He wasn't really sure how, but he would, and with his head held high like a hobbit of his name should.
But the funny thing was Gandalf's reaction. The old wizard started to say something in reply and then stopped himself with a curiously confused expression. When Bilbo frowned Gandalf stuck his pipe into his mouth and narrowed his eyes at the hobbit in thought. Bilbo raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, passing the moments by in confusion himself. Then the wizard finally relented and a strangely apologetic look overtook the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes. "There is one thing more of your condition you must know, Bilbo. Something that you must consider in your…plans."
"All right? What is it?"
Gandalf leaned forward in his chair and laid his arms over his knees, folding his hands together. "It would seem…that there is another you must be responsible for aside from yourself. Another…life."
Bilbo stared at the wizard, not really understanding what he was getting at. "Who?"
"As Thranduil was tending to your person he and myself were made aware, by his son's discovery, that you are, by some strange blessing, with child."
Bilbo blinked and stared blankly. "What did you just say?"
Gandalf frowned in annoyance as he repeated himself. "You are with child."
Bilbo nodded, pursing his lips together. "Yes, that's what I thought you said. Right then. Makes sense."
Gandalf narrowed his eyes at Bilbo, who turned back to the wizard, a little affronted.
"Well, forgive an old man for thinking you would be a bit more shocked at receiving such news. You are acting far too cavalier, even for a hobbit."
Bilbo sniffed. "Well, this is my dream, I think I can react to whatever news I like however I want to."
Gandalf tried not to wince, but didn't succeed. "Dream? Oh Bilbo, I'm afraid this is no dream."
Bilbo shrugged. "Of course it is. Males don't carry children. It's physically impossible. We don't ah, we don't have the ah…-ahem-parts."
"Where is that ring of yours, Bilbo?"
"My ring-why do you want to know that? It's right here in my pocket where it's always been. Why does that matter?"
Gandalf snuffed out the smoldering ashes in his pipe and knocked them out with a bit more force than necessary. "It matters because I recall telling you some time ago that magic rings are not to be-"
"Trifled with, yes, just like bumps on the head as you just told me a mere few minutes ago-"
"This is nothing to jest about."
"Telling me there's a growing child inside of me isn't your try at a j-"
Bilbo stopped short and fisted his hands in the blanket covering his stomach, sealing his lips shut against the odd but familiar nausea that hadn't left him for weeks. A flash of heat crept up the sides of his neck, threatening him with imminent consequences if there wasn't a bucket nearby. But he did as he always had and focused on breathing in through his nose and out his mouth, as Ori once told him when he'd nearly gotten sick in the dungeons of Mirkwood. After a few moments the nausea passed, and he was being stared at by a suspiciously silent wizard.
Why in the world was he…?
Bilbo dropped his hand from his stomach and glared in frustration and exhaustion. "Don't," he warned.
Gandalf sat back and crossed his arms with an air of smugness that was starting to irritate Bilbo. "Mmm? Don't what now?"
"Don't. Say it."
"Well, I'm afraid you'll have to be a bit more particular with what you do not wish for me to say. There are any number of things one could say for this situation you've found yourself in-"
"For your information," Bilbo interrupted. "My stomach hasn't been feeling well since Laketown. There are plenty of explanations for it considering within the past week I confronted a dragon, betrayed a lo-friend, and somehow escaped a bloody war with my life. I doubt at this point it's ever going to feel the same again."
"You haven't had much food in weeks now-"
Bilbo threw his hands up. "Then hunger pains! I am not…that. Women have that lovely gift of life, not me. Why are you even-did Thorin put you up to this? Does he want to humiliate me more by making me out to be a complete halfwit?!-"
Gandalf grabbed Bilbo's hand, lifted his shirt, and pressed it into his bare stomach before another word could be spoken. Bilbo started to protest once it was done, but he was quickly silenced. "Feel," the wizard said in a terse tone and with a stern look.
Bilbo answered the look with one of his own before rolling his eyes in defeat. Feel! He wanted to laugh out loud at the complete lunacy of it all, but instead he only shook his head and pressed his lips together. Feel what? The same indigestion he'd been feeling for the past few weeks? This was some awful joke. They were all probably right outside the tent listening in and having a good laugh amongst themselves at his expense. His cheeks burned as he pictured it and his heart twisted a little in hurt. Maybe he should have expected something like this after being publicly denounced and then having the nerve to stay and think he could do something to right his wrongs. But he didn't think for one moment that Gandalf, of all folk, would go along with it-
His depressive chain of thoughts stopped dead.
He nearly gasped out loud.
Maybe he had.
He didn't know, because his whole body froze and he stopped breathing.
He looked down at himself and-
He started, losing his balance, but a large hand on his shoulder kept him firmly in place when it came a third time. The first time it was barely noticeable. The second was a little stronger, but that last one was quite forceful.
"That's not," Bilbo breathed, trailing off.
Not his stomach.
Not a muscle twitch.
Definitely not indigestion.
That was something.
A chill started to creep up his spine.
Bilbo dared to look up, his vision tunneling in on the wizard who hadn't moved an inch from his side. "I'm not dreaming?"
Gandalf shook his head and spoke softly. "No, Bilbo. I am afraid you are not."
HOW was something like this even-it wasn't. It wasn't! There was no biological or natural reason for how something like this could be. The very fact that he was considering that it could be was scaring him. He yanked his hand away and wasn't quite sure what to do with it. He wanted to shove it in his pocket, but…
His hand moved of its own accord, dipping into his coat pocket and rising back out with a familiar slight weight between his fingers. The unadorned golden band felt cool to the touch. Bilbo wanted to say it was his imagination, but the ring felt different in his hand. It felt heavier. And ominous. Bilbo looked up to Gandalf who was staring intently on the ring too. A strange feeling came over the hobbit and his fingers closed around the object again, dropping it right back down into the dark depths of his pocket.
"No," Bilbo said, feeling the fear starting to take hold of his voice. "No, no, it's impossible. I don't, no, I don't believe it. I can't believe it. How do you expect me to believe something so absurd? This whole conversation is absurd-you're absurd for even saying something so-"
"I think you've used that word one too many times already, Bilbo."
Bilbo deadpanned. "All right. Ridiculous. Preposterous. Ludicrous. Inane. Insane. Idiotic. Crazy, mental, stupid, foolish, daft, outrageous, imbecilic, harebrained! UN-reasonable, IM-practical, NON-sensical, IL-logical! Have I left any similar word unturned?!"
Gandalf pursed his lips and cocked his head, eyes widening in slight amusement as he answered. "Mad, perhaps?"
Bilbo started to laugh, and quickly found he couldn't stop. He couldn't remember laughing to hard in all his life. In fact, he couldn't ever remember laughing himself unconscious before.
A/N: If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are and if it's not too much to ask (since this is new territory for me) please leave a review and let me know what you think. Next up some elves, some dwarves, and maybe an eagle or two.