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Title: Confrontations & Reconciliation IV
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 IV



The dwarves hadn't left the Shire.

If anything, it looked like they had decided to settle. They had all but moved into Bag End.

Lobelia stared in the direction of Bag end with a narrow gaze. This wasn't what she'd planned when she'd given the dwarves directions.

"They've been holed up in there with Master Baggins," Daisy Proudfoot expanded in a scandalised whisper. "Eight dwarves, all piled in there together." She shuddered. "I'd hate to think of the state of that smial."

Lobelia's teeth ground. She'd been trying not to think about it. Those rough, rude creatures were likely scuffing the floors, breaking doors off their hinges and shattering any delicate furniture with their weight. It was appalling.

"Causing all sort of ruckus, no doubt." Lobelia said sourly. And ruining Bag End while they were at it.

Daisy's lips pursed, her brow furrowing. "Singing." She admitted dubiously. "If you can call it that."

"I thought I heard Bilbo one night." Lily Stoor looked like she'd added too much lemon to her morning tea. She shook her head. "Disgracefully unHobbitish of him."

"Bilbo Baggins can hardly be called a hobbit anymore." Lobelia said darkly. "Not since he returned. And there were signs even before that."

Lily nodded in agreement, lips twisted in their sour grimace.

"Perhaps that's why Bilbo's changed his will." Daisy mused.

Lobelia head snapped around at the news. "His will?"

Daisy nodded vigorously, her pale ringlets bobbing violently with the movement. "Halbert Took mentioned it to Franco Proudfoot. His sister told me yesterday at market."

Halbert was a fool but an honest one. And he could never keep anything from Franco, even if he was a Proudfoot. "When was this?"

Daisy blinked. "Two weeks ago, I think?"

Lobelia bit back the uncomplimentary words that lay heavy on her tongue. Daisy wasn't the brightest of hobbits but she had her uses. "So soon after the dwarves arrived." She observed mildly, taking a sip of tea.

Lily's eyes narrowed. A hint of suspicion glinting in their pale depths.

"I hope Bilbo hasn't done anything rash." Lobelia continued, keeping an eye on the other two women's reactions. "Let his affections sway his duty to the Baggins line-"

"They are not Hobbits," Lily cut in sharply.

"But Bilbo treats them better than his own kin. As more than family." Lobelia knew she had the other woman when Lily's eyes widened in shock.

The affront of it had filtered into Daisy's expression, her mouth parted in dismay. "But Bilbo-"

"Bilbo has never taken a wife." Lobelia decided to twist the knife a little deeper. "Nor has he ever given interest in doing so."

Lily gave her a sharp look at that. If the disgusted twist to her mouth was any indication, she hadn't missed the implications.

Lobelia quickly took her leave, being sure to leave a few more seeds of doubt to encourage more rumours. The arrival of the dwarves had helped in that regard. That Bilbo had taken in more than half a dozen dwarves made it easy to link even less savoury behaviours to his name.

What reputation he had regained was now little more than a tattered rag of a flag. And Lobelia hadn't even had to mention his proclivities.

Not outright, anyway. Lily Stoor had an inkling now and it wouldn't take much for her to piece together the story Lobelia wanted.

And all the better it was from Lily's mouth. She had been the catalyst for Galhast Stonefoot's ousting from the Shire several decades ago. He had taken up with a Man if the rumours were to be believed. And had shown even less discretion than Bilbo.

It would only take time, Lobelia knew. Time enough for Lily to start taking and the Bolgers and Chubbs to get wind of the perversion in Bag End. Not even Bilbo's quick words or the Thain's intervention would be able to save him.

Lobelia marched determinedly up the path towards Bag End. It may be infested with dwarves but it was still the smial Lobelia was determined to get her hands on. She at least needed to see if there had been any damage.

If there was, that was simply more evidence that Bilbo had lost his mind.

Bag End looked...better than it had been in months, Lobelia admitted grudgingly. With all the dwarves trudging through his garden, it should have looked a horror but Bilbo seemed to have managed time to tend to it between entertaining his dwarves.

Entertaining. Lobelia shuddered, resolving to thoroughly clean the smial floor to ceiling when she had Bag End safely in her care. A lot of things would have to be thrown out altogether.

Her eye caught sight of Belladonna's Plot. The wild profusion of flowers that had resisted efforts to stunt their growth in the past. Ground lime and bitter oil had failed to burn roots and stunt growth. Not even a hand full of root-eaters, surreptitiously flung into the leafy undergrowth.

Now even Bilbo's half-hearted Plot had flourished. Staples of the Shire mixed in with Belladonna's exotics. Strange plants that Bilbo had returned with, natured from seed since his return and now a thriving profusion.

It wouldn't do. A Hobbit's Plot was an indicator of their state of mind. And Lobelia needed Bilbo's to reflect his madness, the perversion he nurtured.

It had to go.

With a quick glance either side of the path, Lobelia snuck up the grassy hill, out of sight of Bag End's windows. Hiking up her skirts, she slipped over Bilbo's fence and crouched low on the lawn. It only took a few quick sliding steps and then she was in reach of Bilbo's Plot.

A split in the roots, a discrete cut in the stems. It would look like negligence on Bilbo's part and no one would be the wiser.

No one would question it at all.

Lobelia reached out for the nearest sprout, a strange low growing plant with several small fragile buds. Easy enough to cripple.

She was just about to touch soil when something large moved behind her.

Lobelia twisted, surging up from the ground-

To find the hooded dwarf standing close behind her.

He was no longer wearing his hooded cloak, dressed in simple tunic and trousers, his feet covered in boots. His hair was tied back loosely at the nape of his neck, revealing the terrible scowl on his face.

His dark blue eyes bored into her, as devoid of emotion as his face. "I thought it was polite behaviour for hobbits to knock to announce themselves."

Lobelia drew herself up to her full height. Who was this dwarf to lecture her on manners in the Shire?

"Lobelia." It was Bilbo, two dwarves in tow. He was dressed carelessly in shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his braces hanging loose at his waist. The whore-bracelet boldly adorned his wrist, glittering brilliantly in the light.

Lobelia stared at him in disgust. He wasn't even trying to hide it anymore.

Bilbo met her gaze levelly. He stopped at the dark haired dwarf's side and calmly took his hand. "Lobelia, I don't think you've been introduced."

Lobelia recoiled. Introduced?

"This is Thorin Oakenshield," Bilbo sounded proud of all things. "King of Erebor."

King? What did it matter if this dwarf called himself a king? He was a filthy, rude, brute of-

"My betrothed."

Lobelia gaped at him. At the dwarves standing around staring at her as if this were all normal. As if marrying another male, let alone a dwarf, wasn't madness.

"You can't-" Lobelia spluttered, unable to voice the abomination. "This is the Shire-" Her words trailed off as the dwarf - did Bilbo think she was so gullible to believe he was a king - holding Bilbo's hand fixed her with a chilly stare.

Bilbo smiled at the look on her face, a terse, humourless expression. "It's all quite legal, no matter how things are done in the Shire."

"Bilbo is khajmel." The young dwarf added, coming forward to lay a large hand on Bilbo's shoulder. He fixed Lobelia with a warning stare. "In Erebor he will be Royal Consort, second only to the King."

Outrage and triumph had Lobelia grasping her parasol in fury. Enraged that once again Bilbo had managed to not just worm his way out of trouble but into riches and power. And he chose to rub her face in it.

And yet. If Bilbo were to leave for some far off dwarven kingdom Bag End would be left empty.

She had wanted to get rid of Bilbo after all.

"Kingly titles mean very little in the Shire," Lobelia retorted coldly. She fixed her attention on Bilbo. "Run off again. No one will mourn your leaving." She ignored the large dwarf's growl, the look of outrage on the others' hairy faces. "You lost your respectability long ago - this lapse in morals will only confirm what was long suspected." Lobelia watched Bilbo closely, delighting in the minute lapses in his expression, the small flinches her words earned. "That Bilbo Baggins has fallen to the worst sort of low acts, selling his services."

Lobelia smiled as Bilbo turned ashen, the dwarves hissing angrily. "You may hold Bag End for now, but it won't be long."

The large dwarf made an aggressive step towards her, only to be held back by Bilbo's grip on his hand.

"No." Bilbo said calmly. "I plan to return with Thorin to Erebor. But Bag End will never be yours, Lobelia."

Lobelia's eyes narrowed into slits. "So you say. But all of the Shire knows you've not been in your right mind since your return. Your wishes count for very little," she sneered. "Less so when you leave the Shire behind you."

"In the Shire or not, you are talking to the Consort of Erebor. Show some respect." The bald dwarf loomed out of nowhere. His axes were missing but the scowl on his face and his cracking knuckles were enough to have Lobelia skipping backwards.

"You wouldn't dare!" Lobelia brandished her parasol. "You-"

"I've made Drogo my heir." Bilbo cut in tersely. "And if the worse happen, Esmeralda Took and her descendants will then inherit." Bilbo held her gaze evenly, a spark of anger finally coming to the fore. "Your efforts have been quite in vain, Lobelia. Bag End will never be yours."

Lobelia gave him a daggered stare. She opened her mouth, about to tell him just how secure his will was with the rumours of mental instability surrounding him.

Bilbo cut her off before she could. "So the Thain has agreed, the Took and the Master of Buckland. The line of inheritance is clear." Bilbo fixed Lobelia with a level stare. "So you see, Lobelia. Bag End is safely out of your reach."

"We'll see about that." With a look of disdain, Lobelia skirted around Bilbo and his dwarves, making sure her skirts didn't brush them. She glared back at the bald one as he glowered at her.

Bilbo simply watched her go, saying nothing until she had nearly reached the gate. "Lobelia."

Lobelia stopped on the path, frozen by deadly cold tone of Bilbo's words.

"There are not many crimes that the Shire holds unforgivable but desecrating another Hobbit's Plot is one of them."

Lobelia's blood froze. He knew. How had he known?

Bilbo continued, implacable. "Anyone found guilty of it would be in danger of losing their property and rights of inheritance. Let alone their reputation in the Shire."

Lobelia flung open the gate and hurried down the path, chilled and suddenly without plans.

~x~X~x~

Khuzdul:

khajmel - 'gift of all gifts'. I like to think this could be a term used to describe new family members brought in by marriage or adoption :)

~x~X~x~

I hope you've all enjoyed my take on Bilbo's return and the aftermath.

~x~X~x~
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