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Title: Confrontations & Reconciliation III
Author: Flakedice
Fandom (Hobbit/LOTR/SIL/crossover): Hobbit
Characters/pairings: Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield
Rating/warnings/etc: PG. Nothing worse than the book or the movies
Summary: His letter sent to Thorin, Bilbo waits in the Shire for a reply.

Green Hills:

Confrontation & Reconciliation III

Bilbo left his eyes fall shut, blowing out a mouthful of smoke. He opened them again to see a perfectly formed ring gently floating in the air before him.

A faint sense of satisfaction filled him. He sat back, letting his back rest against the side of Bag End.

It had been a good day. The peaceful routine that had been so jarring and unnatural had been close to familiar for once. He'd woken with energy and had decided to attack the weeds that had been taking over his Mother's Plot and become increasingly distressing for poor Hamfast.

It had been good for him to work with soil again. To pull out the straggly grasses and spiny thickets that had sprouted. Returning order to what had been chaos.

His mother had prepared the bed for her Planting soon after moving into Bag End. It had deep scarlet roses and fragile forget-me-nots, marigolds and sweet peas. But there were also strange grasses and odd creepers, a coil of glossy ivy and small cushion-like silvery bushes. Oddities gathered on her travels and carefully brought back to be planted and tended in the Shire.

Bilbo had started his own Planting when he was a child, a mix of his mother's and father's plants with space for future plantings. A few additions had been made over the years but the empty spaces had remained. And Bilbo had been content with that before the quest.

After working on his mother's Planting Bilbo was finally starting to think on his own. He had been avoiding it for months. The bare soil had been a reproach, a dull reminder of a life that could have been.

But now. Now Bilbo was finally thinking that some of the spaces in his Plot should be filled.

In time he hoped to sow the seeds he had gathered during the quest. A seed head from the small stubborn flowers that grew up on the mountains. A few nuts gathered along the dark road through Mirkwood. Strange dried pods he'd picked up from Beorn's garden and the small packet of seeds the skin changer had pressed into his hand as he left after his return visit.

The acorn.

The fragile seeds from the withered plant he had found on the field before Erebor.

He had started gathering on the quest purely by habit. But slowly he had begun to pick his seeds with purpose, with a different Planting in mind. He didn't know what sort of garden he might create in Erebor but he was willing to try.

As had Thorin. Bilbo's mouth twitched in a bittersweet smile. He still had the dried paper daisy Thorin had picked for him. It hadn't been in seed yet, but Bilbo hadn't the heart to tell Thorin that.

Bilbo pressed his head back against the wall, stretching his neck. He fingered the pipe in his hands, tracing over the carving on the side of the bowl.

There had been no reply to his letter. He had sent it months ago. Spring had turned to Summer and now the days were starting to shorten. It had been long enough for a letter to arrive from Erebor. If one had been written to be sent.

The thought of it had been agony. That after pouring his thoughts out onto parchment, Thorin had not bothered to reply.

He might not have even read it. Bilbo couldn't be certain that Thorin's anger and sense of betrayal hadn't led him to throw the letter into the fire unread.

The thought had haunted him for weeks as the days stretched with silence. But as weeks turned to months, Bilbo found that there was only so long he could wait with hope for reply. Thorin would not be writing back, he realised. There would be no reply.

It was almost worse than being banished. He knew Thorin had been angry. Hurt. But Bilbo hoped that he might have read Bilbo's letter, listened to his explanations. Considered reaching out like Bilbo had.

Those hopes had been dashed.

Bilbo had started spending more time in Bag End. Stopping his painfully short visits to the markets and walking the winding roads of the Shire. Instead he paced the halls of Bag End, started dozens of new letters and threw all of them into the fire in despair.

There may have been several bouts of bitter crying, as well, but Bilbo tried not to think of those long nights.

But Bilbo could not mourn forever. One day, instead of attempting another letter, he had started to gather all his failed efforts and throw them into the fire. The map of Erebor was set aside for the Baggins accounts, Thorin's portrait tucked away carefully in a draw.

The bracelet, though. That stayed wrapped around his wrist, a bittersweet reminder he could not let go of.

There were days where he could barely manage to get out of bed, let alone Bag End. But they were getting fewer and the days like today - with small tasks set and accomplished - were starting to grow in number.

Bilbo had survived laughing at a dragon. He would survive Thorin Oakenshield as well.

Bilbo opened his eyes, surveying his garden, the green bounty of the valley below. It still looked strange to him at times, smaller than he remembered. But it was starting to grow closer to what he remembered of home.

He closed his eyes again, basking in the warmth of the sun. Trying to focus on the sun's caress and block out everything else.

Seeking out a small kernel of peace.

There was a creak. The front gate.

Bilbo had left it unoiled for that very purpose, a warning of unwelcome visitors.

He stayed still in the hopes that he wouldn't be seen, that his visitor would decide to move on.

Instead, the creak became a long drawn out groan as the gate was swung open.

Bilbo drew in a deep breath, head hanging down to hide his annoyance. He glared down at his knees. If it was Lobelia, he'd-

Bilbo looked up and his pipe fell from numb fingers, hot ashes scattering carelessly across his feet and the ground.

Thorin stood before him.

For a moment Bilbo was sure that Lobelia was right and he had gone mad. But then Bilbo saw the changes. The thickened streaks of silver in Thorin's long dark hair. The jewelled beads threaded through his hair next to the plain silver that he had worn. The fine pale fur that edged his heavy cloak.

A new scar cut across his long fine nose. But his eyes. His eyes were the same. Dark blue like a deep lake and Bilbo felt cut to the core by them.

Thorin's gaze roved Bilbo's face, stopping as his eyes settled to one side. At the small braid hanging at Bilbo's ear.

"You wear my bead." Thorin's voice was as deep as it ever was and Bilbo swayed as it echoed with the words Thorin had last spoke to him.

Bilbo's finger's twitched. He had left Sting inside for once, he thought distantly. Not that was sure he could have lifted in defence. Not against Thorin.

Not when he wasn't sure he shouldn't have been struck down.

Thorin took a step forward and Bilbo flinched, back pressing against the wall behind him.

Thorin stopped. With the sun behind him, his face could have been carved from stone.

Had he come all this way to take it back? Bilbo thought, panicked edged. Cool metal met his fingers and Bilbo realised he was clutching at the bead, as if trying to hide it.

He waited, shoulders hunched protectively even as his eyes darted across his garden, looking for an escape route.

"Bilbo." Thorin's voice broke on his name, trembling on the last syllable.

Bilbo found his gaze dragged back to Thorin, unable to ignore the sound of his name, wrecked, in that beloved voice.

"Bilbo." Thorin took another slow careful step, his hands held out from his sides. "I have not come here to hurt you."

There was no anger in his gaze. No sign of censure. Only a deep pain that Bilbo recognised from his own wan features in the mirror.

"Then why did you come?" It came out more harshly than Bilbo had intended. His hand rose contritely as Thorin flinched.

"It pains me that you have to ask." Thorin drew in a deep breath, eyes closing for a moment as if gathering strength. When he opened them again, they were filled with resolve. "I received your letter."

Bilbo was speechless. He had hoped for a reply, longed for one, but he had never...never dreamed that Thorin would come to the Shire.

"You received my letter," Bilbo repeated slowly. Thorin had read his letter. And come to the Shire.

"I did," Thorin confirmed and Bilbo was horrified to realise that he had been speaking aloud.

Thorin took another step closer, warily as he might a wild animal. "I could not stay away. Not when I knew you blamed yourself for my mistakes."

Bilbo's hands were trembling. He clenched them at his sides. "I did what I had to." His voice wavered. "Even if you hated me for it."

"Bilbo." Thorin's expression crumbled. "GayadĂȘ. I could never hate you."

Bilbo's vision blurred. "But you did." He choked on a sob, recalling the terrible look Thorin had given him. The vile words he had thrown. "You did."

Large hands gingerly rested on his shoulders. "Bilbo." Thorin sounded lost, heartbroken. "Bilbo."

Bilbo sagged against him, Thorin's arms folding around him, cautiously and then more firmly.

Bilbo's fingers dug into the thick pale fur resting on Thorin's chest, breathing him in, scents both strange and familiar. "You cast me out." It was barely short of a wail.

Thorin's arm's tightened around him, his breath hitching in his chest. "I was blinded by my pride." His voice wavered. "My anger."

Bilbo let out a small pained sound.

Thorin's voice thickened, his thick fingers moving slowly through Bilbo's tangled curls. "And in doing so, I cast aside that which was most precious, most beloved." He lowered his head, lips pressed to Bilbo's head. "I have wronged you, ukradel. Hurt you in ways that I can never mend."

Bilbo's hands clutched harder, sinking deep into fur.

"But I have come here to ask if you can forgive me." Thorin spoke into his curls, his deep voice ragged and desperate. "If you can once again look at me as you once did."

Bilbo peered up at him blinking the tears from his gaze.

Thorin pulled back slightly to meet his gaze, arms still wrapped tightly around Bilbo. Waiting patiently for whatever reply Bilbo would give.

It was a familiar gaze, even filled with unshed tears. The open, warm fond regard that had snared Bilbo during the quest. Thorin guarded himself so tightly that when he allowed his affections to show it was like the sun appearing from behind clouds. Dazzling and impossibly warm.

Bilbo heart clenched at the sight, longing and affection closing his throat. This was the Thorin he had fallen in love with. Who had loved him in return. "I never stopped." His words were choked, confession and heartbreak, barely above a whisper. His hands grasped tightly at Thorin's coat. "But-" He trailed off, unable to express the terrible mixture of anxiousness and hopeful terror.

Even with Thorin before him, he could not forget.

Thorin bent and pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead. And when Bilbo allowed it, a soft, reverent brush of lips. "But I have hurt you and bruised your heart." Thorin kissed Bilbo's cheek and rested their foreheads together. "I will earn your trust and love again, if you allow it." One of his large hands shifted, moving to gently clasp Bilbo's where it rested on his chest. "To mend what I have broken." He held Bilbo's gaze.

Slowly, Bilbo loosened his hold on Thorin's coat and grasped the dwarf's hand in his own. He nodded.

Thorin let out a shaky breath, lifting his head to press another kiss into Bilbo's hair. "I have missed you, my Bilbo."

The pained confession was enough. Bilbo clutched at Thorin's hand tighter, a sob shaking his shoulders.

For a long moment they simply stood, clasping each other, breaths mingling. Thorin's free hand tracing comfortingly over Bilbo's hair.

Bilbo finally pulled back. He wiped at his eyes with one hand, the other clinging tightly to Thorin's large fingers. Even with Thorin standing before him, he wasn't sure the dwarf wouldn't disappear if he looked away.

"You'd better come in." Most of the Shire was attending the markets but someone would come along the path sooner or later. And Bilbo didn't need to make another spectacle of himself.

He didn't want to share Thorin with anyone at the moment. If they were to build what they once had, to heal, Bilbo would do so in private, not for the world to see.

He tugged on Thorin's hand and the dwarf king willingly followed. Bilbo led Thorin into Bag End with a sense of hope and determination.

It was the return to Bag End that he had hoped for at the end of the quest. Hand in hand with Thorin, sharing his home simply because it was part of his history.

This was what he wanted. Thorin by his side. It wasn't settled by far - Bilbo was certain he owed the dwarf king a good scolding when he recovered from the shock of seeing Thorin again. But for now he had Thorin with him. Thorin who had crossed half of Arda for him and was giving no indication of letting go.

Bilbo let out a tearful half huff of amusement as he pushed open the door and pulled Thorin inside.

Thorin's hand tightened around his in encouragement and Bilbo shut the door behind them, closing out the world.


Khuzdul translations:

gayadĂȘ - 'my joy'

ukradel - 'greatest heart of all hearts'

On to Part Four



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