"I'm married?!" Billa gaped at Kili, who fidgeted nervously with the metal bead at the end of one of his small braids. Life in the mountain had suited him well, and he looked better-groomed now than she'd ever seen him. But right now, how well-groomed her friend was had no place in her mind. Her brain was too overloaded with Kili's latest joke. At least, she hoped it was a joke.

"Well, it was..." Kili continued to fidget. "We thought it was pretty obvious..."

"Obvious?" she exploded, not sure whether to be furious or overcome. "You're kidding, right? This is a joke. Ha ha, very funny." Billa paused, looking at Kili expectantly. When he didn't meet her eyes, anxiety won out over the maelstrom of other emotions threatening to swamp her. "What in the name of all things good is going on?"

"The coronation," Kili admitted, "wasn't just a coronation. You know, I thought you'd be happy about this." Bofur entered the room with a tray that had Billa's customary lunch on it, but he hesitated when he saw the furious hobbit.

"Maybe I should come back later," he mumbled.

"No! You stop right there!" Billa rounded on him, pointing a finger savagely into his face. "Did you know about this?"

"Know about what-?"

"This!" she insisted angrily, gesturing at the coronation dress that hung in the corner. "All of this! If you knew, I swear I'm going to-"

"Billa!" Kili wrapped his arms around the female and actually picked her up, fearing for his friend's welfare. Bofur nearly dropped the tray.

"No ma'am! I mean yes! Well, I sort of knew, but I swear, I had nothing to do with it, ma'am."

"Don't you 'ma'am' me!" Billa struggled against Kili's arms, but was reminded of how strong he was as he squeezed the air out of her lungs. Eventually she had to stop fighting so she could breathe, and slowly, Kili set her down. A faint scuffling out in the hall heralded the approach of another dwarf, and Fili stumbled into the room. Billa could only assume he'd been pushed. Bofur took this opportunity to flee, escaping and leaving the lunch tray behind.

Billa sat down trembling slightly from a combination of exertion and emotional tension. Kili handed her a mug of ale and glanced at his brother. Fili shifted nervously and looked anywhere but at Billa, who was breathing in a very determined rhythm.

"One of you had better start explaining. You have five minutes before I go find Thorin myself." The brothers exchanged an anxious glance.

"I'm not sure that'd be wise, ma'am," muttered Fili. Billa stood up and threw the mug at him. The ale splashed over both dwarves and the clay mug, after bouncing off Fili's shoulder, shattered against the wall.

"Not you too!" she barked, and Kili was startled to see tears in her eyes. "What's with all the ma'aming and honorifics all of a sudden? Someone tell me what's going on!"

"Well, you see-" Fili was interrupted when the door burst open, slamming into his back and sending him face-first into his brother. Both dwarves yelped as they fell, sprawling on the stone floor as Thorin froze in the doorway, staring at Billa.

"YOU!" Billa stood up, furious tears streaking her face now. "How dare you-!" Thorin flinched, his face a mask of bewilderment.

"Billa? I-"

"Don't you 'Billa' me!" she yelled, gesticulating wildly. "You knew what was going on! You knew and thrice damned if you didn't even think to warn me first! Throwing me into this head-first- I suppose that's your idea of a marvelous joke, isn't it? Never asked, never even considered whether or not I wanted this! You could have at least asked, you great lump of a dwarf! It would serve you right if I did go back to the Shire, after all you put me through, dragging me off on your idiotic quest, endangering my life, nearly getting me eaten who knows how many times- all for your stupid mountain!"

Thorin blinked, seeming rather overwhelmed by this tidal wave of anger. Usually the hobbit was so quiet and peaceful. Even when she was irritated, she hardly made more than a passing insult at any of them. This new, outraged Billa was a stranger to him.

"I did ask," he began, bringing his hands up as though to defend himself. Billa marched up to him, angling her face upward so she could glare at him properly. The seven inches' difference in their height really showed at times like these, and Thorin found himself leaning away from her slightly. As short as she was, her fury made him want to retreat. Quickly.


"Yesterday," Fili interjected, sitting up and promptly toppling as his brother pushed him off.

"During the ceremony," offered Kili helpfully.

"It was very moving," pointed out Fili with a hopeful smile.

"And everyone cheered when you said yes." Kili nudged his brother.

"Yeah. It was very-"

"I did not!" Billa turned to glare at the pair of them.

"Well, it was more of a nod," amended Kili quickly.

"A silent yes," agreed Fili. Billa turned to glare at Thorin.

"And what language did you ask me in, pray tell?" she hissed. Thorin shifted, looking guilty now.

"I thought you understood," he mumbled sheepishly, avoiding her gaze.

A tense silence descended on the room. Billa didn't move for what felt like a long time. At last, she turned her back on him and made her way to the bed. Jerking her bag out from under the mattress, she started to stuff it full of her belongings. Thorin watched in horror as the bag filled with clothes, blankets, and her lunch. Without a word, she shouldered the bag and, with one last furious glare, brushed past him. Bofur, Balin, Ori, and Gloin, huddled in the hallway to listen, fell away from the door as Billa brushed past them. Kili emerged first to watch her disappear down the hall, noting how strangely silent she was, even when she was stalking angrily across the bare stone. And then... she was gone.

As one, the dwarves turned to look at their leader in silence. Thorin stood still, looking at the place Billa had stood moments before. His face was a stony mask, but Fili could see the pain and confusion in his uncle's posture.

"Should we stop her?" Bofur asked hesitantly.

"No." Thorin's voice was harsh in the quiet room. "If she wants to leave, that's her choice."