A/N: Yay, another chapter! I'm getting back in the groove again with my writing so updates should be be regular but I won't promise an exact day every week as I'd probably end up breaking it though I hope to not go any longer than 2 weeks between updates.

Anyway, guess who's arriving in Hobbiton? I find it so much easier to write from Thorin's POV for some reason (probably because I adore him!) and this chapter seemed to fly out.

I hope any of you in the UK and USA are keeping safe, well and warm in the shocking weather you've been having and that sunny skies are on their way.

As usual, I don't own anything but if I did, I would have Thorin as my own personal electric blanket - winter and summer!

Chapter 16

Several months later, with a cool dusk approaching, seven weary travellers guided their equally weary ponies through the low cutting that acted as a gateway into the village of Hobbiton.

The westering sun gilded the fields and roofs of the multitude of hobbit-holes in a golden glow. The lake, with its stone, arched bridge was a pool of gold set amidst the green fields and pastures that were somewhat bare of flowers and crops, now that the winter was fast approaching. The farmers would have completed their harvest and food would be stored away in pantries to see the population through to the spring, when new crops would be sown.

None of the dwarves had really seen Hobbiton like this. It had been dark when they first knocked on Bella's door and they had left at first light the next morning, too preoccupied with the journey ahead to take in the bucolic splendour of the place. Now, they could see the numerous front-doors, painted in many colours, but always round, that signified a family of hobbits lived there, the gentle trails of smoke emerging from the chimneys. Most, but not all, had a small, wooden front gate that guarded a small yard that was either meticulously neat or messily unkempt, with pots, implements and plants laying around.

"I didn't realise how pretty Bella's home actually was," commented Ori, looking around the seemingly idyllic scenery.

"Nor did we," replied Fili, with Kili nodding in agreement.

"Aye, and they have good food too," said Dwalin.

"Poor Bella," chuckled Bofur. "What frightful guests we turned out to be. I am still amazed she came with us after that display of our table manners."

"Do you think she'll be pleased to see us?" asked Ori, looking sideways at Thorin, whose face had that closed look he wore when he didn't want others to see what he was feeling.

The many months on the road had seen him become more open and relaxed with his friends but he was still hard to read. Many times, Ori had caught a glimpse of the emotion on his face when it was obvious he was thinking of Bella and could see the longing and also the fear. Ori had made a number of sketches of his king during their travels but he was not game to show them to anyone yet. He had a feeling that Thorin would be horrified by how much the artist in Ori had seen and had portrayed on paper. He planned to give it to Bella at some point in time; hopefully as a wedding present.

Thorin's heart was threatening to burst out of his chest with a mixture of fear, apprehension and anticipation. He could feel the sweat running down his neck into his tunic and it took all the willpower he possessed to school his face into showing none of his feelings to his companions.

Every step on the long journey had brought a mix of emotions. At times, the fear of Bella's rejection had almost caused him to turn back before his stubbornness would kick into gear. He was a king, for Mahal's sake. He had re-taken a mountain from a dragon, fought in numerous battles and he was restoring his people's rightful home. Surely, he could convince one stubborn, angry, beautiful little hobbit lass of the sincerity of his remorse and the depth of the love he bore her. It was at these times that he would hold the silver betrothal bead and imagine the softness of Bella's hair as he braided it again and it would give him courage. As they drew closer to their destination, these emotions grew stronger until Thorin felt like there was a constant battle going on inside him which resulted in him growing more and more irritable and surly as the days passed.

When he had lost his temper at Kili a few weeks ago over what he now saw as an inconsequential thing and certainly not worth the tongue-lashing his nephew had received, Dwalin had finally stepped in, drawn him aside and proceeded to give his king and friend the dressing down he'd needed.

"Do you think this kind of behaviour is going win over your lass?" Dwalin had spat. "It was this kind of temper that got you into this mess. Are you going to yell at her if she refuses your suit? How in Mahal's name are you going to convince Bella that you won't ever hurt her again if you fly into terrible rages because something doesn't go your way or you can't deal with what you are feeling?"

Thorin bowed his head in acknowledgement of Dwalin's words. He did have a temper, which, during the years of exile had been used to fan the anger and hatred and determination to get his home back. This same temper had been magnified by the gold-sickness and had led to his abhorrent behaviour towards Bella. Yet, during the short time he and Bella had been a couple, her presence had mellowed this part of him and things that would have irritated him no end before, had not seemed worth getting angry over. He had still been grimly determined to reclaim the mountain but that desire had been channelled into action and not wasted on getting angry. He realised now it was because, despite all they still faced and the high probability of losing their lives, he had been happy. Bella had made him happy for the first time he could remember since before Erebor was lost.

He wanted to be happy again and acting like a churlish orc towards his family and friends was not the way to go about it.

Thorin had apologised to Kili and made a conscious decision not to allow his own feelings to affect his behaviour towards the others. Of course, he still lost his temper and was his usual irritable and surly self, particularly when his nephews acted childishly, but it was more measured and only when deserved. The knot in his stomach he kept to himself, even if he knew that Dwalin was aware of his feelings.

After their run-in with the orcs, they had encountered relatively little trouble. There had been a spell of bad weather which had made fording streams more perilous than usual and which had made travelling conditions particularly miserable. Game had not been too difficult to catch and the few farmhouses they encountered, which hadn't been destroyed by the orc armies, had been prepared to sell some of their supplies after the occupants were convinced of the dwarves' innocent intentions.

Dwalin had stressed the importance of not going anywhere near Beorn's house and Thorin had agreed. They had no desire to encounter him in his bear shape and Thorin did not want to linger at his house. It was tiring, but he wanted to get to Hobbiton as soon as possible.

One night, they did set up camp at the base of the Carrock as the River Anduin flowed past it and they were able to catch fish for their dinner. From there it would it be a two to three day ride to the Old Ford where they could cross the river and head towards the Misty Mountains.

As the company all settled down to sleep, Thorin volunteered to take watch, his eyes looking up towards the top of the rocky monolith. A part of him wanted to climb up the steep steps in order to visit the place where he had finally surrendered, acknowledging to himself that fighting against his feelings for the hobbit was futile.

Pain. Pain and warmth.

This is what Thorin could feel as he struggled to escape from the mists of unconsciousness. A warmth that was centred at his chest but spread to the rest of his body was accompanied by the vague whispers of a voice that was muttering something unintelligible above him. As the mists began to slowly dissolve, the pain flooded in. Everywhere hurt but,again, the epicentre was on his torso and he couldn't understand why.

Then he realised that the warmth was spreading and, where it touched, the pain receded. The whispers grew louder and, with what seemed an epic struggle, he broke through the haze and opened his eyes, a deep gasp leaving his mouth. Above him, the blue eyes of the wizard smiled down at him in relief, the wrinkled skin and long grey hair shaded by the enormous pointed hat he wore. Gandalf.

Memories rushed at him as he lay on what he became aware of was something hard, like rock, and that it was now daylight. Images of the Company's frantic run towards the trees to escape the wargs, trees on fire, Azog's taunting and his own single-minded desire to extract revenge on the pale orc flooded his mind. How had he even survived that? He remembered being picked up in the jaws of the massive white warg and being flung down like a dead carcass, the pain spearing through him as he felt a couple of ribs crack on impact. He managed to get back up that time but not the next.

The blackness was taking him fast and although he knew the orc above him was going to kill him, his body refused to move, his mind too blurred to do anything. He was going to the halls of his fathers and hoped that the Company would do what he couldn't and take back their home.

Closing his eyes as he awaited the final blow, he heard a small grunt and the weight of the orc disappeared. With a final effort, he forced his eyes open and saw the tiny body of the hobbit land on top of the orc, her little sword glowing bright blue in the darkness. Bella. Bella was fighting for him. Why? He had been so dreadful to her. Regret speared through him and that was the last he remembered until now.

His heart raced at the memory. Where was she? Was she alright? Why would she do such a foolish thing? How could she even contemplate going up against an orc for his wretched sake? She had saved his life even after all the nasty words and appalling behaviour towards her. Had she died? Oh please, Mahal, please don't let her have died saving my miserable, undeserving life.

"The halfling?" he gasped hoarsely, his eyes frantically searching for her. Turning his head, he could see the members of his Company looking at him, relief in their eyes, but he could not see Bella. Where was she? Where was Bella?

"It's alright. Bella is here. She is quite safe," reassured Gandalf as Thorin struggled to sit up, relief flowing through him at the words. Then the anger came.

How could she do such a stupid thing? He might have lost her – before he even had the chance to acknowledge to himself that she was important to him. More than important. Vital. Such a foolish, reckless, brave hobbit. But he was so angry at her for endangering herself like that.

Helped to his feet by Dwalin and Kili, he shrugged them off and looked at her properly, his breath catching slightly at the confirmation that she was safe and uninjured. He took in her dirty, unkempt hair, the smudges of dirt on her face, a faint bruise becoming visible on her jaw and thought he'd never seen such a beautiful sight. She was alive! The vault he kept inside his heart that contained those feelings for her that he'd struggled so hard keep inside, was coming apart at the hinges, as if the strength of those emotions were trying to force them open.

"You!" he glared at her. "What were you doing? You nearly got yourself killed!" Bella looked at him in dismay as he stepped closer. "Didn't I say you would be a burden? That you would not survive in the wild? That you had no place amongst us?" He was now about a foot away from her and he saw the look of despair on her little face at his harsh words, her eyes looking down and filling with tears, unable to face him and all anger evaporated just like that.

Unable to help himself, he took her in his arms and held her tightly. "I have never been so wrong in all of my life." With that, the vault gave way and everything he'd tried to repress was set free. His initial attraction and desire had now deepened to something all-encompassing despite all his efforts over the last months. Now, he was ready to admit it to himself: she was his 'One' and there was no going back. The quest had allowed him to see the true value of his little hobbit and he wanted her forever. No other could have the wit, compassion, beauty and bravery of his Bella Baggins. He loved her.

He held her for what seemed both an eternity and was not nearly long enough in his eyes. Thorin savoured the feel of her body pressed tightly to his and the beast inside began demanding that he make her truly his. Oh how he would love to give in to his desires! To hold her, kiss her, while he begged for her love and forgiveness.

Thorin knew he could do none of these things. He had wronged her so badly and it was because he had been too afraid to admit that he needed her. He, who didn't need anyone, had fought against it until he couldn't fight any more. Now, he had much to atone for.

An apology would be a start. Bella greatly deserved one.

With all the humility he felt he looked into her brown eyes, wishing he could kiss her. "I am sorry I doubted you," he said humbly.

He could see the shock in her face. She probably believed that he had never apologised to anyone before and she would almost be right. Thorin could count on one hand how many people he had apologised to in his life.

And sweet, sweet thing that she was, Bella accepted his apology with the grace and humour that he had not allowed himself to acknowledge before. Whilst she spoke, Thorin gazed at her with a smile on his face. How long had it been since he had really smiled?

We'll start with friendship, he thought. I must build her trust in me and we'll start by becoming what we should have been from the beginning if not for my own pig-headedness: friends. Then, by Mahal's grace, I will show her that she can entrust her heart to me, as I have already entrusted mine to her, though she does not know it. I will make her see that I will be everything she needs and that she is everything to me. That I would have her for my queen.

The first sight of the Lonely Mountain, after so many long, long decades, at that point seemed as a good omen to Thorin and for the first time in longer than he could remember, he felt happy.

"Who do you think should be the one knocking on the door?" asked Bofur, his words slightly slurred as they made their way up the hill towards Bag End.

After arriving in Hobbiton, the company had decided to stop at the inn located on the far side of the lake. Thorin had been told about the dwarves' goings-on in Bella's pantry before he had arrived and felt it prudent that they get the worst of their hunger sated before invading her home again. He had enough to ask forgiveness for without having to apologise for their lack of table manners.

They had been given many wary looks by the local inhabitants and you could hear a pin drop when they had entered The Green Dragon. Every eye in the pub had turned towards the dwarves and Thorin remembered the hundreds of times he had experienced the same thing when looking for work during their exile. He had hated it then and he hated it now but there was no choice for him. Besides, unlike men, he knew that hobbits were generally peaceful people and unlikely to attempt to pick a fight with the dwarves, who were larger and much stronger. Bella had told him that very few outsiders ever entered Hobbiton except for traders, so the sudden appearance of seven dwarves would cause a stir.

Ignoring the looks, Thorin and the others sat down and a tiny, female hobbit nervously made her way to their table to take their orders. Once she left, the other patrons in the pub seemed to believe that they had been distracted from their ale long enough and the noise of various conversations began again. Thorin was certain their presence was the main topic.

During their stay in Laketown, between bouts of lovemaking, Bella and Thorin would lie together and Bella would chatter away, telling him about her family and friends, her life in Hobbiton and whatever else came into her head. She had told him that hobbits loved three things most: family, food and drink. As long as you didn't interfere with these three things, then all would be well. They were wary of strangers, simply because every other race was so much bigger than them and the scarcity of any visitors. Once they saw that a visitor posed no threat, then they would be warmly welcomed.

Two of Bella's teachings were certainly true: the food they were served was hearty and plentiful, his company digging in with absolute delight, and the ale was nearly as good as what the dwarves could make. It was definitely better than what was found in the villages of men.

As more ale was consumed, the spirits of the company, in particular his nephews and Bofur, rose, attracting the attention of other patrons and somehow, Bofur ended up on the table with a couple of hobbits singing their lungs out. Thorin just shook his head and was reminded of the dinner at Rivendell. He had taken great pleasure in watching the discomfiture of the very staid and proper elves at the antics of the company. Whilst relations with them were much better, he did still enjoy the thought of upsetting their very orderly lives.

The noise around him rose as the hobbits proved Bella right and were singing and drinking along with the dwarves, but Thorin sat back and became lost in his thoughts. Bella was so close. He looked out the large front windows and could see up the hill where her house was situated. What was he going to say first? Much of the journey had been spent mulling over his words to her when they met. Sometimes, he thought he should tell her he loved her and then other times, he believed he should apologise first. Or maybe both at the same time. Would he even be able to speak when he saw her? Thorin, King Under the Mountain had never been tongue-tied in his life but if it was going to happen, it would probably happen when he first saw Bella and the prospect terrified him.

The raucous laughter around him pulled his attention back to the pub and he decided it was time to get the dwarves out of here before they became too rowdy and drunk. That would be just what he needed: to have to beg Bella's help in dealing with his drunk nephews and friends. She would be perfectly within her rights to slam the door in their faces – if she didn't do that anyway.

Dragging his nephews away from the now overly-friendly hobbits was harder work than he thought and only a couple of cuffs on the back of their heads by Dwalin got them moving. Thorin had warned all of them that they were not to divulge their destination as he didn't want any hobbits racing up to Bag End and warning Bella. He felt the element of surprise would work much more in his favour. They all denied that they had said anything and Thorin could do nothing but believe them.

It was now dark and once again it painfully reminded Thorin of the first time he saw her and the immediate impact that beautiful, little hobbit had made on him.

"Well, certainly not you," growled Dwalin. "You're drunk."

"Bella's shee…seen me drunk before," argued Bofur before letting out a large belch that had Thorin shaking his head. Why had he allowed them to come?

"We'll knock. Bella lovesh ush," declared Kili with a tipsy giggle which was echoed by Ori.

"Yeah, and we're much prettier than you lot," agreed Fili who then caught his uncle's glare. "But…but not prettier than Th…Th…Thorin."

"Mahal, help me," muttered Thorin under his breath. That hobbit brew must be stronger than he thought. "I will knock and you fools will stay quiet behind me. In fact, you lot will stay with Dwalin until I call for you."

"But I wanna see Bellaaaa," whined Kili.

Another cuff across the back of his head from Dwalin was the answer. There was silence after that as they walked up the hill. Knowing their exact destination made things a lot easier this time. Thorin looked up and saw the light shining at the front door and the large tree silhouetted against the navy sky that indicated the location of Bella's home.

His heart felt like it was going to explode out of his chest with every step. When they arrived at the gate, Thorin turned to his companions. "You all stay here. I don't know what Bella's reaction will be to my, our, arrival so wait until I call you."

Taking a deep breath, he pushed the gate open and climbed the steps to the front door which had now been painted a rather garish yellow. He would not have thought Bella's tastes would run to such an unappealing colour but it had been many months since he had seen her and all that they had been through, what he had put her through, may have changed her. It had changed him. He also vaguely noted that the flowers and shrubs in the small yard and around the stairs were now somewhat straggly and unkempt, quite unlike the well-tended plants he remembered. It gave him a sense of unease. Had he damaged and hurt her so badly that she had stopped caring about things that she had once taken pride in? He prayed not but if it was the case, he would spend the rest of his life doing whatever was needed to help her heal.

Steeling his courage, he raised his hand and knocked on the door. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Brow furrowing, he knocked again, harder this time. It was surely too early for Bella to have retired for the night, wasn't it? What if Bella had found out he was here was ignoring the knock? Well, he would knock until his knuckles were raw, if that was the case.

After his third bout of knocking, he heard a male voice yelling from inside and Thorin's face immediately darkened, the beast within flaring to life with jealousy and anger. If this male had laid a finger on his Bella, it would be his last day to live. He was struggling now not to break down the door, kill this person and claim his hobbit.

He had just banged on the door with the palm of his hand, when it was opened and the male voice spoke angrily.

"What is going on? Who are you and what do you want at this inconvenient hour?"

Standing in the doorway was a hobbit dressed all in brown: brown pants, brown undershirt and brown robe. He looked to be about Bella's age or slightly younger, with the dark brown, curly locks of his race. His brown eyes glared up at the stranger with a mixture of anger, annoyance and not a small trace of fear at being confronted by a tall, heavily armed dwarf.

Thorin wanted to kill him on the spot.

A dead body on her front doorstep would not endear him to Bella or help his cause, so he struggled to rein in his temper. "Who are you? Where is Mistress Baggins?" he spat.

"I am Otho Sackville-Baggins, and I live here, thank you very much!" retorted the hobbit.

Thorin's hand instinctively went for his sword in order to strike him down but he managed to stop himself. Had Bella moved on already? Despair rose in him briefly before his anger reasserted itself. She was his and he would take her by force if need be. There was no way he would allow this creature in excrement-coloured clothing to have her.

"You do not live here. This is the home of Bella Baggins, and I want to see her!" thundered Thorin right in the usurper's face.

"Who is it? Otho? Who's at the door?" shrieked a high-pitched female voice from inside.

That was most certainly not Bella and Thorin stepped closer, forcing the hobbit backwards. As he stepped inside the door, a most hideous looking thing came trundling down the hallway.

"Otho? Otho? Who is that? What is a dwarf doing on our doorstep? Are we to be murdered in our homes?" The voice was painful to listen to and Thorin would have loved to cut her down just to silence that awful noise. The female hobbit was shorter and much wider than his Bella. She had a hard, joyless face with small squinty eyes and a thin-lipped mouth. Thorin could not make out the colour of her hair as it was covered in a scarf that only served to make her look more like a sewer rat than a hobbit. She glared up at Thorin, drawing herself up to her full height, which didn't amount to much. "Get off my property!"

"Your property?" snarled Thorin. "This home belongs to Bella Baggins and I demand to see her!"

"This house does certainly not belong to that hussy anymore. Which is more than she deserves for running off with the likes of your kind!" she threw back.

Thorin took a further step in, making the two step back warily. "Do not DARE call Bella that or I will slit your throat, you she-orc!" The female gasped indignantly at the insult and the threat. "Now, I will only ask once more. Where is Bella Baggins?"

"She…she's not here," replied the male, Otho.

"Where is she?" demanded Thorin.

"Why should we tell you anything?" interrupted the female. "You have no right to be here. This is my home now and no common dwarf will demand anything from me!"

This one was either very brave or very stupid, thought Thorin. "Common? I am Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror and the King of Erebor! And you WILL tell me where Bella is or Mahal help you." He had put all the authority and arrogance he possessed into his voice and he felt satisfaction at the two hobbits' faces paling at his words and tone.

Otho seemed to be the first to realise that it would be wiser to give this dwarf king the answer he was seeking. "Bella has not returned to Hobbiton since she left. We had word a few months ago that she is staying with the elves."

The information shook Thorin. Bella was in Rivendell. He had come all this way and she was not even here. The feeling of disappointment rushed through him before he pushed it away. This was only a setback. He would find his Bella one way or another. First, he had to deal with these two.

"What are your names?" he demanded.

The female glared at him before answering. "I am Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and this is my husband, Otho, and Bag End belongs to us now."

Thorin recalled Bella mentioning those names, usually in anger and disgust. She seemed to have a hate/hate relationship with Lobelia who was related to her by marriage and who felt that Bag End should be hers and her husband's because Bella was unmarried and Otho should have been the rightful heir of Bag End. Bella had told him of the numerous arguments between them and how Lobelia had even petitioned The Thain, the hobbits' leader, to have Bella removed from her home and have Bag End given to Otho. A petition she had lost. Now, it seemed that these two had taken Bella's absence as the opportunity to take what they wanted. Thorin hated usurpers, knowing all too well the suffering they caused.

Bella might not be here, but he was not going to let her hated enemies take what was hers. A home was sacred, and Bella would have her home. It would be for her to decide what to do with it, not these rats before him.

"And by what rights do you claim this house?" he asked.

"What right do you have to question us?" replied Lobelia rudely. Oh, he would have pleasure tossing her out on her fat behind.

"By the right of being Bella Baggins' betrothed and soon-to-be husband. It is my job to protect what is hers and this is her home," he replied firmly. They did not need to know the truth and it was what he hoped would happen anyway. Bella would surely thank him for it, wouldn't she?

Their eyes widened in surprise at his words. Lobelia recovered first, unfortunately. "If you are her betrothed, why isn't she with you and why didn't you know she wasn't here?" she asked snidely.

"There was a battle and I was gravely injured. I sent her home as it was not certain I would recover. Once I was well again I was to collect her. Obviously I did not get the message that she was waiting for me in Rivendell. It does not matter, I will meet her there instead. But first I will ask you to remove yourself from her home." Thorin had never been a good liar and he was surprised it came so easily to him now. Although it was not really a lie, more a bending of the truth.

"We will certainly not leave!" cried Lobelia. "That tramp left and was considered dead by all so The Thain granted us Bag End."

"Well, you know now that Bella is alive, so why have you not left? Also, if you insult my future queen again I will cut your tongue out. I'm sure your husband will be grateful," he growled in her face. Her frightful features turned a mottled shade of purple in her indignation. "You are to pack your things and leave now."

"How dare you?" gasped Lobelia.

"I am a King and dare what I wish, you harpy. I suggest you hurry."

"We will not go!"

Thorin stared at her for a moment before calling out. "DWALIN!" It didn't take long before the intimidating dwarf appeared at the door and the hobbits' faces paled even more.

"You called, Sire?" said Dwalin, reverting to formality in the presence of strangers.

"Dwalin, these two erroneously believe that they have a right to Mistress Bella's home and I have just disabused them of this notion. I have ordered they leave immediately but they are being stubborn. I believe they may need some further persuasion."

The burly dwarf glared at the two hobbits. He was smart enough not to question Thorin about Bella at this moment. He would find out what was going on later, after these two left. Deliberately, he raised his hands, clenching and unclenching his fists, making sure Insult and Injury, the knuckle-dusters having been reforged after the battle, were quite visible to the now shaking hobbits.

"Of course, Sire," agreed Dwalin. "I will just go and call the others and we will help them to gather their things."

"Uh…others?" squeaked Otho.

"The rest of my guard," explained Thorin. "All battle-hardened warriors who are extremely loyal to their future queen." With a menacing smile, Dwalin went back outside to call the rest of the company.

"I suggest you start packing," advised Thorin.

Lobelia looked like she was going to say something but her husband finally took charge. "Let's go, Lobelia. We'll go and see The Thain tomorrow." He grabbed her arm and dragged her back into the house.

"There's something going on with Bella but I don't know what it is yet. There're two fools who are trying to steal Bella's home and we have to 'urge' them to leave," explained Dwalin. "Don't say anything about Bella except that she is your future queen and your loyalties are with her. Thorin will explain after they've left."

"I hope she's alright," said Ori.

"Is she there?" asked Fili.

"I don't know," replied Dwalin. "Let's just get them out and then we'll talk."

"No-one messes with our Aunt," snapped Kili. "Let's go."

Thorin looked around the receiving room whilst waiting for the dwarves and saw that while all the furniture he could remember was there, it didn't look like it had been properly looked after and there was a general air of neglect about the place. Poor Bella would have a fit if she saw this.

Bella. Bella who was in Rivendell. If only he'd known. He would have pushed aside his natural aversion to spending time in the elven colony if it meant seeing her. Now, he had to plan what he was going to do next.

It was too late to do anything now and they all needed rest. The Company would stay in Bag End for a few days before setting out once again. He would get the place cleaned for her and it would also ensure he got the point across to those two miserable hobbits that they had no right to this home. He would go and see this 'Thain' if he had to.

For the next hour, they watched Lobelia and Otho gather their possessions. Fili and Kili kept a close eye on them to ensure they only took what was theirs. Well, as much as they could.

"That's Bella's silverware!" exclaimed Fili sternly when Lobelia tried to pack up the knives and forks in the kitchen. "I remember those from the last time I was here. Put it back."

With a hateful glare at the young dwarf, Lobelia did as instructed. A few more orders to return items soon ensured the message was not lost on the hobbits. The dwarves were going to protect Bella and her possessions and it would be a mistake to think otherwise.

Finally, two hours later, Otho's cart was loaded with their surprisingly few possessions. They had obviously just taken over everything that Bella owned. Thorin believed Lobelia would have worn Bella's clothes had she fit into them.

"This is not the end of this!" warned Lobelia as the pony moved off.

"It is as far as I'm concerned," replied Thorin. "You will never get your hands on this house. Be gone!"

Once it was quiet, the dwarves sat in Bella's parlour and listened to Thorin's explanation of Bella's whereabouts.

"So we've come all this way for nothing," said Kili.

"No, not for nothing. If we hadn't arrived, those two would still have possession of Bella's home. I know she would hate that. She hates the Sackville-Bagginses and it would have hurt her to see it occupied by them. I know only too well how that feels." The others nodded in agreement. "We will rest here a few days, take care of Bella's home, clean and repair what needs doing and then we will set out for Rivendell. I will not rest until I have her back."

"Good for you, uncle," smiled Fili.

"Shall we go an' have a look at what's in the pantry?" asked Bofur cheekily. "I won't feel guilty as those Sackville-Bagginses paid for it all."

A/N: Thanks once again to lizajay12 for her sterling beta work for me and picking out the faults I miss.