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Title: Confrontations & Reconciliation I
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 I

A thin plume of smoke rose up from the side of Bag End. Lobelia glared up at it in accusation. She couldn't see the source from where she stood on the path, but Lobelia could picture it. Bilbo Baggins perched contentedly on the bench outside Bag End's bay window, blissfully smoking.

Lobelia's mouth thinned. Whatever hopes she'd had of declaring Bilbo mad had failed to gain ground. Soon after the Thain's visit, Bilbo had started going outside again. Visiting the market and taking tea with Primula.

It was hard to convince even the worst gossips that her cousin was turning into a lock-in when he'd wandered past their door just hours before, pale but otherwise respectable. Lobelia scowled. Bilbo had always been lucky that way.

Lobelia’s scowl deepened. Let Bilbo enjoy his victory. She had waited years and a few weeks made little difference.

It wasn't as if Bilbo was going to produce an heir. A grimace pulled her lips tight. With his ...tastes, no proper hobbittess would touch him. Not that Bilbo had the decency to appear normal anymore. Not with his continued show of grief and heart break.

Lobelia's lips thinned. She gave the hidden occupant of Bag End one last glare before stamping off down the path.

Bilbo had put on a good show, she acknowledged grudgingly. What ground she had gained by spreading news of his madness had been lost. Though, Lobelia thought smugly, with gossips like Rosemary Chubb and Dandy Bolger, there would always be whispers. All Bilbo had to do was make one misstep and Lobelia would be able to set the rumours flowing again.

Her eyes narrowed. She'd be watching Bilbo closely over the next few weeks. Distraught as he was, it would likely he would slip up again.

When he did, Lobelia would be waiting. Even if it was taking a ridiculously long time.

Lobelia scowled as she stomped along the path back to her smial. It wasn't as ideally suited as Bag End but it still sat on the crest of a hill. If a slightly smaller one.

She kicked a pebble from the path with a vengeful swing.

It was a fine spring day, edging towards Summer's vital warmth. Most of the inhabitants of Hobbiton were at the market as Lobelia had been. The roads were practically empty as she made her way home. The Shire quiet except for the call of birds and occasional sound of livestock.

So it didn't take Lobelia long, marching along with her purchases swinging from one arm and her parasol from the other, to realise she was hearing something out of place.

Lobelia stopped, parasol planted on the ground, back straightening as her ears twitched. It sounded like a pony. More than one.

Her eyes narrowed. It wasn't unheard of for Hobbits to travel on ponies to market day. Some of the Chubbs had grown so large that they needed a cart to transport themselves and their produce. But very rarely was there more than one pony - entire families tended to cram into overladen wagons.

Lobelia hadn't heard of any mass movements of any of the Clans. There were no celebrations to warrant such a convoy.

Suspicious and curious, Lobelia hiked up her skirts and ran in a crouch up the side of the hill. She took cover behind a small bush, peering over the rise.

Her ears had not deceived her, Lobelia saw with some smugness. Lobelia was known for her sharp hearing; she certainly couldn't be blamed for the fact that she was able to hear fellow Hobbits' conversations from some distance away.

Several ponies were making their way up the road from Bree. They had passed Buckland, taking the less used Bree Road.

And it was clear why. Short, thick figures sat atop the equally sturdy ponies. Those riders were not Hobbits. And sneaking in as they were, they had gone to pains not to raise alarm at their passage.

Dwarves. Lobelia realised in distaste. And there was little reason for dwarves in the Shire. With the exception of one perverted hobbit who had returned only months before with a stolen dwarven hoard.

They must have come for Bilbo, Lobelia thought in satisfaction. Tracking him down to reclaim their treasure. The loss of such riches was a shame - though Lobelia knew Bilbo would have ferreted much away which she would later search for. But if they removed Bilbo for her, then she was one step closer to Bag End.

Mind made up, Lobelia straightened and marched confidently over the rise.

It took a moment for them to spot her, even dressed as she was in her fashionable yellow skirts adorned with exquisite pink heirloom roses. But used to their dark mole tunnels, Lobelia suspected they were only a few short steps from blind under the sun's wholesome rays.

It certainly explained why one of them had chosen to lie with Bilbo. Her mouth twisted in disgust.

The dwarves had drawn to a halt, the slightly larger one at the front watching her with narrowed eyes.

To see her better, no doubt.

Lobelia let out a huff. Hopeless. At this rate Bilbo would be able to avoid them entirely. "If you're looking for Bilbo, you're going the wrong way." She said tartly.

That had a few of them muttering in their low gravelly voices. Most unflattering, like rocks hitting each other. Maybe they liked that.

She shuddered. They were terrible, brutish creatures, strapped with leather, furs and bristling with weapons. Bilbo had long ago lost his mind to run off with them, let alone-

Lobelia choked off that thought with disgust.

"Wrong way?" It was a big bald brute with icy blue eyes. Two axes protruded over his shoulders.

It was a bit overdone if you asked Lobelia. Surely one axe would do. "If you follow that road you'll end up in Bree." It was a very scenic route, a loop that passed through the Shire and back. Most of the drunken Big Folk found themselves back where they started and didn't even realise they'd passed several smials.

The bald dwarf stared at her.

Another, a dark-haired dwarf with a scar on his forehead made a grinding comment that sounded very like an insult.

Lobelia didn't like being insulted. Particularly not when she couldn't understand what was being said. She drew herself upright, all 3 feet, ten inches and stared at the dwarves down the length of her nose. "If you want to find Bilbo," she started tartly, "you need to follow that path-" She pointed her parasol to the narrow trail that they were obviously too blind to see "-up to the large hill topped by the oak. Bag End lies under its branches." Beautifully shaded and with the perfect view of the Shire.

The dwarves stared at her. Two at the back started to whisper at each other, a furious flurry of dwarvish language back and forth.

Lobelia was beginning to despair of them. They must be very simple creatures for possessing such great wealth. It must have been easy for Bilbo to steal from them.

Not, Lobelia thought as she surveyed them dubiously, that they looked very rich. There were no silks or fine cotton, no ribbons in their hair or lining their cloaks. The beads and jewels in their hair, though - those Lobelia could envision a much better use for in broaches and hair pins.

"You'll find Bilbo outside on the bench, smoking." She added helpfully. "Or hiding in his study with his ridiculous scribblings." Lobelia resisted the urge to poke the nearest dwarf with her parasol to get them moving. "I'm sure if you threaten him, he'll tell you where he hides all the jewels."

That garnered a reaction. Harsh shouting broke out among them, the bald one's eyes narrowing at her even more. They made a frightful din, their voices echoing through the valley until one of the dwarves let out a sharp bark that echoed sharply in her ears.

Lobelia glared at the hooded dwarf, scowling at him as he urged his pony forward. Rudely towering over her.

Lobelia scowled up at him, down her nose. Not about to be intimidated by a dwarf of all creatures.

"Jewels?" The dwarf's voice was deep, like distant thunder. "Explain."

Lobelia bristled. How was she to know how much he had? "There was a chest when he came back. Filled with gold and jewels. And the whore's bracelet he stole-"

A scrape of steel cut her off. Quick as a snake, the hooded dwarf had reached out and caught the wrist of the bald dwarf. He'd drawn a dagger that reminded Lobelia of Farmer Maggot's scythe.

Lobelia was affronted but prudently shuffled back a few steps when she was sure the dwarves weren't watching.

The bald dwarf snapped out something, only to be cut short when the hooded dwarf snapped out a harsh phrase. With one last glance at Lobelia, the bald dwarf shoved his dagger back into its sheath.

Lobelia narrowed her eyes at him, tightening her grasp on her parasol and bag of shopping. If he came any nearer, she'd wallop him over his head as hard as she could, simple or not.

The hooded dwarf turned back to her. He reached up with a huge hand, pulling back his hood to reveal a familiar face. Dark, silver-threaded hair, two thick braids hanging down either side of his face, the rest of his long hair free. A coarse, close clipped beard.

Lobelia had only gotten a glimpse but she recognised him from the portrait on Bilbo's desk. She took a step back and then another, revulsion and disgust twisting her face.

Bilbo had lain with this, this dwarf.

The dwarf's dark blue eyes drilled into her. "That bracelet belonged to my mother."

A surge of nausea tightened her throat. Lobelia felt ill. Just the very thought of it. What Bilbo had done to earn such wealth. Her lips thinned into a flat disgusted line.

The dwarves were regarding her as if she was something to be scraped off the bottom of their feet. The bald dwarf and the scarred dwarf looked ready to commit murder.

Savages and perverts, unnatural creatures all. Clearly dwarves had no sense of propriety, let alone decency. Not if they were acting as if her words were offensive.

"Then perhaps you should take it back." Lobelia had the satisfaction of seeing the dwarf flinch. At her words, his shoulders drew in slightly under his fallen hood, the cast of his eyes almost wounded. Ashamed, as he should be. Lobelia wielded her words like weapons, on more certain ground, now. "I don't know what customs you dwarves hold-" and she didn't want to "-but in the Shire, we don't condone that sort of behaviour." Something in the dwarf's expression changed, and sensing weakness, Lobelia dared to take a step closer. "Whatever you dragged Bilbo off into, you've ruined his reputation. It's only luck Bag End wasn't taken from him." Yet. She sneered. "He's a disgrace to the Baggins Clan. Better that he had died than return as he is."

A shocked silence rang out.

The dwarf's expression had blanked, his eyes distant. But Lobelia had seen the stricken look flash across his face and knew her words had found their mark. She could see how pale he was beneath his beard.

"Why you-" The bald dwarf broke off into angry dwarvish, his face reddening.

"Thorin." A strangely gangly looking dwarf , younger looking than the others, reached out to clasp the shoulder of the dwarf with the hood.

But the older dwarf turned his pony aside, down toward the narrow path leading to Bag End. Riding past Lobelia like she didn't exist.

The bald dwarf quickly followed him, shooting Lobelia a threatening glare. Two of the other dwarves urged their ponies forward to follow in his wake.

Lobelia found herself staring at the young dwarf. The scarred dwarf sat on the pony beside him and two of the other dwarves remained. But Lobelia had little attention to spare them. She straightened her spine, locking her gaze with him.

For a long moment he simply stared at her, looking at her up and down slowly with an insolent, almost insulting gaze. "You're wrong." He stated quietly but confidently.

He continued before Lobelia had time to bristle. "Bilbo is one of the bravest, most honourable people I know. And all of Arda - Men, Elves and Dwarves know it."

The scarred dwarf nodded furiously in agreement.

The young dwarf didn't give her a chance to answer. He left her gaping after them as he urged his pony after the rest of his party.

Lobelia watched them go, speechless in outrage. Disgusting, rude brutes the lot of them.


On to Part Two



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