I do not own anything :(
At the age of forty-nine Bilbo Baggins was a well-established spinster, who, by all accounts (well, it depended what spiteful family member you asked) had been one since the day she had been born. But the truth was that she was just different. She was always too much of …something. You see Bilbo Baggins was the only child of one of the daughters of the old Took and her husband (a very respectable gentle Hobbit) by the name of Bungo Baggins. She was too Tookish for the Baggins' and too much of a Baggins for the Tooks and as such she was far too unpredictable for any decent Hobbit to be expected to settle down with her.
The truth was though that although Bilbo (just like any other Hobbit, thank you very much) loved having company and others in her smial with her, she also enjoyed her solitude. She loved to lose herself in her books for days at a time. To pour over her maps by the light of a candle and allow her Tookish side to take her mind leagues from the Shire. But then she also enjoyed allowing her Baggins' side free reign on occasion. Cooking up a storm in her kitchen and acting the lady of the house when called for.
But mostly she enjoyed the long rambling walks she could take, after all she did not have to worry about rushing home to take care of a husband or children. She could be gone for days with just herself, her bag and her stick for company. But – she would tell herself firmly – these walks and expeditions were in no way, shape or form adventures. No. Because Baggins' did not go adventuring. A Took or two was known to have done but she was a Baggins. A strange one yes but she was not quite willing to pass that line into eccentricity entirely.
Not yet anyway.
Things changed on the day that she returned from one such ramble. She had made it as far as Bree and had even spent a night in the Prancing Pony but the Men who were so much taller than her always made her a little nervous so she had come home earlier than she had planned. She had been glad of her decision though as unusually heavy rain in the hills – for the time of year – had caused the river to swell and she had made the last ferry across the Brandywine.
She trekked home, thankful for her fine luck and was on the last leg of her journey when she decided to push on through the day and night to make it to Bag End and not have to spend another night under the stars.
A lightness filled her when the bridge over the swollen Bywater came into view the light of the moon casting a silver glow over the land….
Bilbo eyed the large puddles that had formed round the base of the bridge that lay between her and Hobbiton with a crinkled nose and sigh. There was no way around it. She was going to get her feet very wet if she wanted to get home and even from where she was standing several yards away from the bank she could feel the mud oozing between her toes and the ground squelched every time she moved.
She scanned the sodden bank of the Bywater to see just how far up the water had come and her expression remained the same when she saw that at least three feet had been added to the edge.
What was that?
Bilbo narrowed her eyes and peered at something that looked like sack snagged in the weeds, the usually still pool had a current running through it and she wondered if it had come from further up river. After all if any of the Hobbits had been caught throwing anything into the water the Thain would not have held back in punishing them. You did not pollute the land!
She thought of one of the more barbaric practises that she knew some Men farmers practised when too many young were born to a dog or a cat.
She had dropped her bag and her feet were moving before she was conscious of even making up her mind, squelching and skidding from the path to the edge of the water. She stopped. Like most Hobbits Bilbo could not swim. She gulped and glared at the lapping water as though it was going to rise up and drown her all by itself.
She eyed up the distance between herself and the sack.
She should leave it.
But what if there were kitten or puppies inside of it?
The very thought of their little lungs filling with water decided her and she rushed back to her bag for her abandoned stick and returned to the water.
The stick was quite a bit taller than herself and had a curve at the top. It was thick and hefty for leaning on and would not break easily.
She tried to lean over and reach out with the stick but still came up several inches short.
Bilbo didn't think twice about laying fat on her stomach and dragging herself as close to the water as she could get. Her elbows sank into the mud and her skirt became sodden and weighed down with the dirty water but she ignored the discomfort and focused on her goal.
The change in angle gave her a better view of the sack.
A completely different view.
It was a…person?
It was. She could make out a head and the almost weed like tendrils of hair drifting in the water.
"Oh dear, oh dear," she panicked, dragging herself recklessly closer and stretching out with the stick.
She could make out an arm. They looked slight. Maybe a child. She could manage the weight of a child and there wasn't the time to go to one of the houses across the bridge for help.
She hooked the curve of the stick around the child's arm and tugged. The sudden movement released the body from the confines of the weeds and roots and the sudden weight of the body had Bilbo digging her elbows and toes into the mud trying to stop herself from being dragged in.
The arm began to slip, working free of the stick. Sending out an apology for the pain this was going to bring the child – if it was alive – she moved the stick quickly to the child's arm pit, snagging it and wasting no time in dragging the stick up.
Hand over hand she worked the body closer until it was close enough for her to grip its soaked and slimy shirt with her hands.
She worked her way onto her knees, sobbing with the strain, and braced herself. She pulled the surprisingly heavy body to her. With one last burst of strength she succeeded. Her legs slid, and finally she had the child in her arms sprawled across her but free of the water.
She held the body tightly, sobbing and gasping, shaking like a leaf.
"It's alright," she spoke to the body, patting its back as she tried to control herself and get together enough energy to roll the body from on top of her.
But she did manage to slide herself from under it with some effort and then, standing on trembling legs, she pushed against its right shoulder and with some effort turned the body onto its back. Immediately she lowered her ear to its mouth and then its chest. She sobbed with the relief. The chest had moved.
"You're alive," she sobbed, straightening up and for the first time looking at the face of the-
It wasn't a child.
It was an elf.
The light of the moon showed her the delicately pointed ears clearly showing through the dirty hair plastered to his (yes, definitely male, her mind assured her) head. How could she have thought he was a child? He was at least several feet higher than her if not twice as high.
Mud covered him from head to toes as did chunks of weeds and things she was sure she did not want to identify. She had no doubt that she looked the same. Her skirt was plastered to her legs and she could feel the grit and the mud on her skin every time she moved.
"What am I going to do?"
Bilbo sighed wearily and rubbed at her eyes. The mud on her clothes had now dried and was making moving a restricted task. The late morning sun was shining through the round window of the sitting room.
It had been a long night.
Trying to carry the elf back to Bag End alone would have been impossible and she hadn't even attempted it. Instead she had dragged her quilt from her pack and put it over the prone figure and used the pack as a make-do surface to lift the elf's head from the wet ground. She then rushed over the bridge, no longer caring about the puddles she had to splash through and went straight to the house of the nearest person Hobbiton had to a doctor – after all Hobbits were a hardy bunch who didn't need medical aid all that often.
He along with his son had helped her in getting the elf to Bag End where she had to make a passable bed in front of the fire, dragging all the spare bedding and quilts from the linen cupboard and stripping two of the beds in the guest rooms.
She racked her brains in trying to find a suitable alternative but next to commissioning a Man sized bed the mattress of quilts, pillows and linen in front of the fire would have to do for the time being. The doctor had told her that he was more than willing to have the Elf stay at his house but Bilbo knew that there would not be enough room and the doctor was a busy man as he looked after the local animals when he was not called upon to care for the Hobbit population.
The doctor had diagnosed the elf after he had helped her in washing and changing her guest into clean dry clothes. The blush that had come to her cheeks had scorched her to the bone. It had been no surprise to Bilbo that the elf was deep in a fever and he had supplied her with the needed teas and herbs along with the instructions. She was glad to find out that there was nothing but bruising to his arm from when her stick had dug into his skin.
So now she was alone with a very sick stranger.
Well, she would be no good to the poor thing if she herself became sick, she thought practically.
Bilbo dashed to her room and stripped off her clothes and made quick work of scrubbing the mud from her body and hair. Changed into clean smelling, dirt and grit free clothing she felt rejuvenated despite the lack of sleep and was ready to care of her sick elf.
Once she had got him all tidied up and cleaned of the rest of the mud and weeds she found herself staring at him.
She remembered her mother's stories about Rivendell and Lord Elrond and his children. How it was possible for a male elf to be described as beautiful. Bilbo had a good imagination but even she had found it difficult to imagine any kind of male in anything other than terms of handsome. Beautiful was a term kept for women and babies.
But now she could see what her mother had meant.
Long blonde hair, so pale it was almost white in places, fell straight around his face, brushing the tops of his shoulders. It was strange seeing such hair on a man. Hobbit men usually kept their hair short, or, if they were feeling daring had it cropped just below the earlobe.
His skin was flushed with sickness but she had no doubt that when he was healthy it would be a paleness to complement his hair.
His face was slim and finely boned with clear cheek bones.
He was beautiful.
It took over a week for the fever to break and hours of delirium – not to mention the countless loads of sweat soaked linen Bilbo had to wash - as the fever oozed out of her guest in salty rivers, tossing and turning on her sitting room floor (which she had made as comfortable as any bed – even if she did say so herself) he would twist the quilts about him as he tossed to and fro.
Thankfully the doctor still came by twice a day and while he was there she had him take care of the patients more…intimate care.
Bilbo had also sent word to the runners that should anyone be seeking an Elf of her guest's description they could contact her. But until any family could be found she felt responsible for this sick soul who had been found so far from where any of his people travel.
She felt weak with a relief that she had not felt since she had first pulled him from the Bywater when his eyes – that thus far had held the hazy, unfocused gaze of sickness on the rare occasions that they were open at all – opened and for the first time focused on her face.
He looked at her in confusion and frowned when she felt his forehead. It was dry and sweat free for the first time in days.
She smiled at his broadly.
It took some days for Legolas – Bilbo had found out his name during one of his wakeful periods – to work up to staying awake for more than a few minutes at a time. During his fever Bilbo had only managed to get just enough food into him so he was weaker than he could have been but her main concern had been getting water down his throat.
By the fourth day he was sitting up and Bilbo had managed to pile together a bunch of pillows to make a comfortable support for his back.
She sat beside him with her legs folded under her spooning stew into his mouth. He had been on a weak broth since he had woken and she was glad to finally see him managing something a little more substantial.
She smiled at him when she could see the bottom of the bowl and felt like cheering at the accomplishment. She had purposefully picked one of her smaller bowl, true, but it did not take away from the fact that he had just eaten something that was as close to a proper meal as he could manage.
"You will be up and about in no time at all," she told him cheerfully as she shifted her legs from beneath her, allowing the blood to flow properly before she tried to stand.
"My thanks, Miss Baggins," Legolas nodded his head and smiled faintly at her.
"Oh, none of that Miss Baggins rubbish," she chided him as she stood, "My name is Bilbo you have my leave to use it,"
"My thanks, Bilbo,"
After a week of her patient-guest being awake and able to sit up he was quickly regaining his strength and she felt as though there had never been a time when he was not in her house.
It had taken a few days to get used to Legolas actually being awake and able to talk to her, she had gotten that used to him making no noise other than his fevered groans and shouts – something about spiders had come up more often than anything else so she had made sure to keep an eye out for the eight legged beasties and throw them outside before Legolas saw them – that the fact that he was suddenly able to string together sentences came as a bit of a surprise
Not that all the discomfort was only on her side.
She knew that it must have been difficult for Legolas too as he got to know her more. In fact she was sure it was more so for him as he was almost helpless in her home, ill and at her mercy.
But eventually they got to know each other well enough to talk freely without the awkward stilted silence punctuating the air every few words.
In fact it was not rare to hear laughter filling the sitting room of Bag End as Biblo told tales of her childhood or dredged up memories of her cousins and what they had gotten up to in their youth.
Legolas did not speak much of his home or his family and Bilbo did not want to appear rude by pressing him or perhaps bring up things better left alone when he was still recovering.
But what she did know she kept stored at the back of her mind ready for any more information the Elf might let slip. She knew that his mother was 'gone' whither this meant that she had died – it was so hard to imagine an Elf dying, they seemed to be eternal, but then she supposed time would demand payment from all eventually – or she had sailed from the Grey Havens she didn't know. Bilbo did not know much of such matters only that both possibilities meant that Legolas would not see her again. She also knew that though his mother was no longer in his life - a fact that made her want to hold him tight and never let go (even if he could be more than a hundred times her own age – his father was.
And that was the extent of her information.
And that was as much information as she would have because she would not ask anymore of him.
The loud thumping at the door, at what Bilbo guessed to be several hours before dawn – a very unHobbit time to be calling on anyone (unless of course you had just dragged a half-dead Elf from the Bywater and needed help getting him home – but the chance of that happening twice in one month was laughable to Bilbo) – woke her so suddenly that her heart was beating in her throat.
Panicking she leapt from the bed before her mind even had the opportunity to know what she was doing. The blood rushing to her head forced her to stand still for a moment or fall over and it gave her a moment to see that it was still dark outside and that whoever was at her door seemed to be set on banging it down.
She felt in the dark with shaking fingers for her candle and once found and after several tries she had it lit in her hand. The light flared in the darkness and she winced.
"Bilbo," the tired voice drifted to her from the sitting room and she quickly threw a dressing gown over her night clothes and dashed to what for all intents and purposes was Legolas' bedroom once the sun had gone down.
"Legolas, are you alright?" she dashed to his side when she saw him struggling with the quilts and trying to rise. He was doing a lot better but despite the fever breaking and the strength he was regaining he was still weak and his temperature was still higher than she would have liked.
"What are you doing? You stay in that bed," she snapped, trying her best to put the blanket back over him.
He was having none of it though.
"I will come with you," he told her, his tone telling her he would not welcome an argument, "they-" he jerked his head in the direction of the door "do not sound very friendly,"
As if in agreement with his words more thuds and bangs came from door and she was sure one of them sounded like a boot connecting with the wood. If they had left a mark on her door they could jolly well repaint it.
"Stay Legolas," she told him firmly.
He opened his mouth to speak but she stopped him. He was her guest and she liked to think that they had become friends during the time that he was awake and she would not have him endanger his health.
"No, if there is something wrong I will call,"
She stood before he had the chance to argue and marched to the door mumbling under her breath the whole time.
"Someone had better be dying. Rude! That's what this is. Waking up decent folk at this hour,"
She opened the door the tiniest crack, holding her candle high and before she could even squeal with the shock of it the door was knocked from her hand. She jumped back to stop it colliding with her and then regretted her actions as it gave whoever it was a clean entry.
A tall figure stood in the darkness but they had not yet entered her home.
"Where is he?" the figure demanded
Bilbo's poor befuddled mind struggled to keep up and she fought to stop the hand holding the candle from trembling like a leaf.
"Where's my son?"
"My son, Legolas," snarled the figure.
Legolas? Son? This snapping, growling shadow was Legolas' father?
"I do not know what you wished to gain by kidnapping him,"
"Now you just wait one minute," Bilbo had finally found her voice and was determined to set this stranger straight.
How dare he come to her house and…and terrorise her in this way. She was having none of it.
"Father!" Legolas' voice – the sharpest she had ever heard it, sounded from behind her and she turned slightly to see him standing slightly hunched in her hallway, gripping onto the wooden surrounding of the sitting room entry way with one hand and holding a candle with the other.
The stranger brushed past her and glided towards Legolas.
She heard the mumbling of more voices in the darkness of her garden. She tried peering into the gloom but it didn't matter how hard she tried she couldn't make out anything thanks to the heavy cloud cover that had blanketed Hobbiton for most of the day.
Wonderful, there were more of them.
She returned her gaze to Legolas and saw him wrapped in his father's arms, both of them hunched comically so as not to bang their heads on her ceiling.
They drew apart.
"This creature," the father sneered glancing over his shoulder at her, "will be punished,"
"Creature!" she snapped, the sting of the insult making her brave for a moment.
And just what did he mean by punishment? She hadn't done anything.
"Who do you think you are?" the stranger rounded on her and for the first time she got a clear look at him.
Yes, he was definitely Legolas' father.
Legolas was grasping at his father's arm trying to pull him away.
"Bilbo helped me,"
This seemed to stop the Elf in his tracks and he blinked several times before he drew back from her.
"Bilbo found me and has cared for me since,"
Bilbo gulped. If his father wanted to hurt her – she was sure she had spied a blade hidden behind the gathered fabric of his cloak – there would be nothing Legolas could do to stop it.
"I owe you an apology, Mistress," the Elf bowed slightly at his waist.
"I am Thranduil, I regret that I have not made the best impression,"
She nodded her head but did not go any nearer to him.
"Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, at your service,"
She felt a draft at her back and turned her head just enough to catch the approach of the other figures moving into the door frame from the garden.
Everything after that became a little mumbled.
She turned her gaze firmly to Legolas who met her eyes with an embarrassed flush.
Obviously he had neglected to tell her something very important.
Royalty or not Bilbo was not at all certain of her newest…guest? If you could call someone who had all but burst into your home and threatened you with bodily harm a guest. In fact for the first several days of his presence in her home she never let him out of her sight when they were in the same room.
It was clear to see where Legolas had got his looks from but there was something feline in Thranduil's movements. Something that for those first few days had Bilbo on edge until she was sure he would not sprout a tale, claws and teeth and tear into her if she sneezed wrong.
But, just as Legolas had, his father quickly became a habit and once she had grown less leery of him she found that she enjoyed the other Elf's company. And she noticed the change in Legolas now that he obviously wasn't trying to hide who he was – something that she had given him a sound talking to about.
Having another tall person in her home had been problematic when it came to making up another suitable 'bed' and she had to strip the one remaining guest bed and even take some old curtains outs of storage to produce an adequate mattress.
Both Elves were now set up in her sitting room when it came to sleeping and although Legolas' was still too weak for his bedding to be packed away daily Thranduil's was lifted from it place beside his son and replaced at night.
Bilbo was finding that she enjoyed the company of two Elves even more than the company of just one and at night once supper had been served she would sit in her father's arms chair with Legolas propped up facing her and Thranduil sitting on a large chair she had found in one of the storage rooms, his bedding draped across the hard wood.
The made a very domestic scene on an evening she supposed and she did as little talking as she could manage as she tried to tease tales from Thranduil and get him to tell her about far away places and people.
Hobbits as a rule did not like to think about the 'outside'. Middle Earth was filled with bizarre creatures that – as long as they left the Shire be – Hobbits in general were more than happy to pretend didn't exist.
But not Bilbo. She relished the idea of people, places, sights, sounds and smells she had never seen. And, if she was being perfectly honest with herself, she never would.
Thranduil humoured her with a smile and a regal nod of his head – the very kind she could imagine him giving to a crowded throne room. Did he even have a throne?
Her focus would remain fixed on him as he weaved images of times past and places far away.
It sounded wonderful.
Just as Bilbo thought she could live content like this for the rest of her days, just her and the two Elves (and of course the four royal guards who had tagged along who popped in occasionally – thankfully they had come up with their own sleeping arrangement) but like she knew it would have to it came to an end.
Legolas was well enough to travel, in other words he could sit on a horse without toppling off. And she knew it was ridiculous to expect them to continue sleeping on her sitting room floor – even if it was far comfier than a regular mattress in her opinion – and then there was the little fact that Thranduil was a king and had bigger things to worry about than telling stories to a little no-body-Hobbit.
So it was with a heavy heart that Bilbo waved them goodbye and she only just managed to stop the tears from falling when Legolas had held her close in his arm in one of the best hugs she had received since her mother had died.
"I will miss you Bilbo," Legolas murmured into her ear, pressing a kiss to her cheek before pulling away.
"You will come and visit us though?"
The hopeful, childish tone to his voice had her nodding her head although she knew it was a lie. Dreaming and imagining faraway places was one thing but she was nowhere near brave enough to actually go.
"Wonderful, it is only fair that I get to wait on you hand and foot for a little while," Legolas chuckled and she joined in with a giggle.
She did not begrudge a moment spent looking after him during his illness or in his company since.
"Indeed, we will keep a room in constant readiness for your arrival," Thranduil added, smiling broadly at her, "And should you ever be in need, I will always be at your disposal, Lady Hobbit,"
Bilbo was becoming very flustered with all of the attention and flushed when Thranduil bent low over her hand a pressed a soft kiss to the back.
"Elf-friend," he whispered into her skin, glancing up at her, his eye twinkling in the light.
And then they were gone.
Just as quickly as they had come into her life they had left it.
Where she had previously found that she enjoyed her solitude now she found the silence deafening and when she went back to her books and maps - that she had sorely neglected the past few months - she found them lacking. Thranduil had been a fount of knowledge on such things and his voice had sent her into a dreamlike state more than once as she had listened to him and painted the pictures in her mind. Her books could no longer do that for her...
It would be a year before adventure would come walking up to her gate in the form of an old man…
I started writing this as an answer to a prompt that I stumbled across on the Hobbit Kink Meme.
What if Bilbo knew Thranduil and Legola before the quest? - was the basic idea. :)
I really hope you enjoyed that.
Hopefully more to come.