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Title: Confrontations & Reconciliation II
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 II

Thorin rode stiffly, guiding his pony almost blindly down the narrow pathway they had missed. Hobbits really were terrible at building roads.

"Wretched woman." Dwalin growled. "Should have wrung her neck."

Thorin blinked; he hadn't been aware of Dwalin riding up beside him. "I doubt Bilbo would welcome us if you attacked his cousin." Not that Thorin was sure he would be very welcoming when they showed up on his doorstep unannounced.

Dwalin snorted. "He'd probably thank us if we ridded him of the harpy." He cast a dark glance over his shoulder.

Thorin said nothing. Bilbo's letter was tucked close under his tunic, in the very spot where his father's map of Erebor had rested. The feeling was very similar, a sense of going home and trepidation for what he might find.

The thought of facing rejection was worse than that of facing a dragon.

The sound of additional ponies signalled Kili and Bifur's arrival. Kili's face was unnaturally solemn, a hint of banked anger in his eyes. "If all of Bilbo's relatives are like that, we’re taking him back to Erebor, whether he agrees or not."

Bifur nodded vigorously. "Nasty little weasel. To call Bilbo, her own blood-" he broke off into a string of Khuzdul insults.

Thorin's own anger was tempered by guilt. To have Bilbo spoken of in that way by his own kin had Thorin hard pressed not to force the spiteful woman to swallow her vile words. But his own hypocrisy had stilled his tongue. He had spoken worse of Bilbo. Declared him a traitor, a vile manipulator who had wormed his way into Thorin's affections, used his voice, his body-

Thorin choked back the vile flood of words. That he'd thought them was bad enough. But that he had flung them at Bilbo like barbed arrows, twisting them deeper to see the flash of hurt across his bloodied face, the shock in his wide eyes-

It was worse than the dragon sickness. It had been borne of hurt and personable betrayal. Thorin had done everything he could to hurt Bilbo as badly as he had been.

And on his darkest nights, Thorin couldn't be sure that he wouldn't have acted the same way even without the goad of dragon sickness. It had come from a dark place deep within him, one he knew had predated the quest for Erebor.

Festering hurt, rage and resentment. Bottled up and swallowed down. It had built for decades and when it had finally released - one last betrayal, the only outsider he had let in and trusted with everything he was - Bilbo had borne the full brunt of it.

Thorin would have killed him if Gandalf hadn't intervened. Thorin had wanted to kill him, the lover that had betrayed him. As if Bilbo's death might have washed away the dishonour of it, his own mistake of daring to trust, to make himself vulnerable in the foolishness of love.

Bilbo, whom he loved.

Would he have killed Bilbo if he had not been in the throes of dragon sickness? If Bilbo had not been forced to take the Arkenstone, would Thorin's bitter anger have been released at a later date, focused on Bilbo yet again?

The thought haunted him. A fear that only grew when he reflected on his actions after he had broken free from the dragon sickness.

Anger had blinded him. Wounded pride and betrayal's righteous rage.

Even newly awakened from his madness, doubts had lingered. The theft of the Arkenstone, brokering deals with Thranduil and Dale who had moved against Erebor, compounding older betrayals...Whispering doubts had gathered. Was he fit king of Erebor, a proud son of Durin? He felt hollow, a caricature adorned by fur and gold that fit him ill. An exile weak to the madness that ran in his line.

And what could Bilbo see in such a dwarf? Did not his actions show how little they were tied together? Even in the throes of his madness, Thorin had held Bilbo close to him. His small beloved figure shining brighter even than the siren song of gold that was his birth right.

Yet Bilbo had used that regard to betray him.

His madness broken, Thorin knew why Bilbo had done it. Why he had acted as he did.

And yet...

Doubt wound deep like a serpent into gold. What agreement could last between them after blood had been spilt and life threatened? How could Bilbo love him and still act as he did?

Thorin had expected rejection and hardened himself against it. Against Bilbo.

Against rejection confirmed when Bilbo slipped away in the aftermath of the battle. Without a word. Or hope.

But Bilbo had kept the mithril and the bracelet had vanished with him. Surely that meant something? Thorin had clung to that hope even as he cursed it.

The months after Bilbo left had been agony. In the weeks he was confined to the infirmary under Oin's care, his anger - reignited by Bilbo slipping away in the night, without any word - had slowly faded. Left with little to do but think between Balin's visits of state, awareness of the empty spot at his side had grown.

During the last of the quest, Thorin had gotten used to have Bilbo at his side.

It had been a surprise at first. Thorin, sitting apart as was his custom, was jolted by his thoughts by a sharp cough. He had looked up to find their burglar shifting nervously from foot to foot, two bowls in his hands. He'd handed one to Thorin and then, taking an unprecedented step, settled down beside him.

Thorin wasn't sure how it happened but Bilbo seemed to end up at his side after that. And ever so slowly, Thorin began to look for Bilbo when he wasn't near.

His absence in Erebor had been an open wound worse than those Thorin had received on the battlefield.

Thorin thought on what could have been in the hours of long empty nights. What Bilbo's warmth at his side would have felt like. How he would grumble at the cold when Thorin inadvertently roused him as he left for matters of State. The joy he would have expressed at a full dwarven meal and the homey touches that would have crept into Thorin's chambers.

Books and an armchair next to the fire.

Dis had taken one look at him and known something was wrong. After fluctuating between anger at the danger her sons had faced and pride in their achievements, Dis had turned her attention to Thorin.

Thorin had taken to avoiding her, as much as he could, injured and with limited mobility. Dis had finally cornered him in his chambers, patiently waiting with two tankards of ale.

Dis was relentless when she put her mind to something.

Thorin ended up telling her everything. How he and his Hobbit burglar had grown closer during the quest, how Bilbo had accepted his bead and worn it in a small braid hanging by his ear. How Bilbo had accepted their mothers' bracelet and clasped it tenderly to his chest. How Thorin had planned to renovate the Consort's Wing and commission a second throne. How he had been lost to dragon sickness and Bilbo had acted.

How he had told Bilbo he never wanted to see him again and would kill him if he set foot in Erebor again.

How Bilbo had believed him.

Dis had been silent for a long moment then levelled him with a heavy stare. "Write to him." She had said. "Explain that you want him at your side." With that helpful advice, a bracing clasp of his shoulder, she had left in a sweep of fur and velvet skirts.

Thorin had tried. None of his words seemed to say what he meant. Countless letters had been abandoned, others aborted before they were barely started. How was he meant to convince Bilbo of his sincerity, let alone give him reason enough to reply?

And then a letter had come from the Shire. From Bilbo.

Thorin had opened it with shaking hands, not sure what it would contain. He hadn't expected Bilbo to write at all.

What he read had astounded him. Far from angry words and recriminations and bitter regrets. There had been apologies and sincere wishes for the future. A future in which Bilbo felt he had lost his place.

The words were raw, spilled onto the page like blood. Bilbo still thought himself exiled. A thief and a liar. To blame for the whole situation.

Thorin had felt himself grow cold and breathless with each shamed word he read.

No letter would suffice. Thorin was not good with words like Bilbo. And he wasn't sure that Bilbo would believe them.

Nor would Thorin wait any longer. He would see Bilbo face to face and convince him to come home. To their home in Erebor.

That conviction had brought him all this way, through Mirkwood, over the mountains and into the gentle valleys of the Shire. Doubts had crept in as they neared the green hills of the Shire. Uncertainties only swayed by the letter tucked close to his breast.

Bilbo wasn't happy, hadn't reclaimed the home he had left. His spiteful cousin's words had only confirmed what he has suspected from Bilbo's letter.

It filled him with a low burning anger but also with hope.

The path had turned, revealing the hillside dwellings of the hobbit folk. It wound gently before them, leading up to the large hill with the oak on its crest. Bag End. Bilbo's home.

He exchanged a glance with Dwalin and swung from his pony's back, handing the reins over.

"Talk to him." Dwalin advised. "Let him settle down over some tea."

Thorin shot him a look - someone had been talking with Balin - but simply nodded. He glanced over his reduced company - Dwalin, Kili, Bifur and his new guards.

Kili held his gaze. "We'll be back after lunch." Taking the narrow path down to the inn and giving Thorin time to talk to Bilbo alone.

Thorin drew in a deep breath. He nodded once again and started down the path. Towards Bilbo.


On to Part Three



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