well i know i had it all on the line
but don't just sit with folded hands and become blind
The walk to his room had never felt longer, Bilbo thought. He’d had to push through throngs of drunken dwarves, all at least a head taller and too merry to notice someone the size of a hobbit trying to squeeze past.
“Eat, drink, and enjoy the party!” Bofur had insisted. After all, it wasn’t only their first Durin’s Day in Erebor but also the one-year anniversary of when the great company of Thorin Oakenshield had finally returned to the once Lonely Mountain. And how much had changed since that day.
Bilbo hadn’t meant to stay in Erebor this long. If you had told him the day he’d left the Shire that it would be well over a year and a half before he returned, Bilbo would’ve fainted on the spot. It wasn’t like adventures went as planned, he knew that now, of course. He hadn’t planned on growing so close with the other members of the company; swapping recipes with Bombur, sharing stories with Ori, and even managing to become such a trusted companion of Thorin himself. A younger Bilbo would have a fit if he’d known.
The truth was that Bilbo couldn’t have left, not with Thorin and Kili and Fili on their deathbeds. It was with a miracle, and the help of a little elvish magic, they had survived at all. Fili still walked with a bit of a limp, but he could fight as good as ever, and Kili lost two fingers but was managing with his bow just fine. And Thorin. Oh, Yavanna, then there was Thorin.
Bilbo had refused to leave his side unless Oin chased him out. It had been almost a week before Thorin finally awoke and another month before he was on his feet again. With Erebor needing rebuilding and the line of Durin still recovering, Bilbo couldn’t leave them; they were his friends, after all.
So Bilbo stayed, through the spring and the rebuilding of both Erebor and Dale and Thorin’s heartfelt apology, through the summer when the trade talks began and the days grew warmer, and through the autumn when the first caravan arrived from the Iron Hills and Erebor began to feel more like a home than a Lonely Mountain.
But it was winter now, officially to the dwarves, and Bilbo had still not returned to Bag End. He’d put it out of his mind, instead thinking of how the company had agreed to celebrate Yule in Bilbo’s honor and how Thorin’s sister, Dis, had sent a raven just last week announcing that she would be leaving for Erebor as soon as the last of the snow melted next spring. He thought of brushing up on his Sindarin with Ori and occasionally needling Dwalin for another lesson in sword-fighting. He thought of late nights spent with Thorin by the fire, talking about things Bilbo never imaged a king would care for until Thorin dozed off in his chair.
Bilbo realized he’d been wandering now, leaving the festivities of Durin’s Day long behind and losing himself in his thoughts. As a hobbit he could always appreciate a well-celebrated holiday, but his heart just wasn’t in it. Instead it longed for something other than delicious mead and the company of friends; it longed for something Bilbo knew he could never have.
He’d thought of telling Thorin his true feelings, confessing to the king the regard for him that stretched far beyond that of affection for a close friend. He couldn’t imagine losing the friendship that he held so dearly to his heart though, no matter how much it made his chest ache.
Bilbo was just approaching the long hallway that led to his rooms when he heard his name. He turned, catching sight of none other than the King Under the Mountain.
“Thorin,” he said, trying to slow his racing heart.
“Bilbo.” Thorin was beaming as he drew closer, taking Bilbo’s forearm in his large hand and giving it a familiar squeeze. “I was looking for you. Balin told me you had left the celebrations early.”
“Ah, yes.” Bilbo rubbed the back of his neck, averting his eyes so he didn’t have to see the curious disappointment he knew was written all over Thorin’s face. “I’m tired is all.”
Thorin looked at Bilbo like he didn’t believe him.
“And I needed some air,” he added quickly, “that wasn’t polluted by drunken dwarf breath.”
Thorin chuckled, finally dropping his arm back to his side. “I had thought hobbits could hold their drink better.”
Bilbo puffed up defensively. “We’ve got a tolerance better than dwarves, that’s for sure! Nori was barely three mugs in and he was already close to falling asleep in his chair!”
Thorin chuckled some more, holding up his hands. “Peace, Master Burglar,” he said, “I only jest. I recall visiting an inn just outside the Shire where a pair of hobbits drank a giant of a man under the table.” His gaze grew softer. “I learned long ago not to underestimate you or your people.”
Bilbo sniffed. “Right you are, on a good day I could drink you lot under the table!”
Thorin’s smile faded and his brow furrowed. “And is today not a good day?”
“NO! I mean, yes, I mean-“ Bilbo stumbled over his words. His cheeks were warm, as he had indulged in enough mulled wine before he left to be slightly tipsy. Not enough to make him trip over his own words, of course. That was all Thorin’s fault and that beaten puppy look of his.
Bilbo finally managed to collect himself. “I just think I’m getting too old for these types of parties.”
“I’m managing just fine,” Thorin replied.
And oh, he was smiling again. The things that smile did to Bilbo’s heart. He felt his stomach flutter and his cheeks color even more, this time not from the wine.
Thorin laughed again, quieter and more tentative. “I suppose I should admit when I have been found out.” He reached into the pocket of his large, fur coat and pulled out a small, ornate box. “I came to give you this.”
Bilbo’s fingertips brushed Thorin’s as he took the gift. It was just big enough to fit in the palm of Bilbo’s hand and the outsides were decorated with tiny symbols. He glanced up at Thorin, trying not to notice how much closer they had gravitated towards each other.
“I didn’t know it was customary to give gifts on Durin’s Day, I would have gotten you something.”
When Thorin didn’t respond, Bilbo opened the box. Inside, surrounded by a delicate silk, sat a golden ring. It was nothing like that little, magic ring he used to have; it was just the right size for his pinky finger, but what really drew his attention were the designs etched along the outside. For how small it was, the details were precise. Bilbo could make out a tree and an acorn, surrounded by intricate swirls.
“It’s beautiful,” Bilbo gasped, holding the ring up so it caught the light of the nearby torches. “Did you make this?”
“Aye, I did.” Thorin lifted his hand. “May I?”
Bilbo nodded, placing the ring in his palm. Thorin took Bilbo’s hand in his, gently slipping the ring on his last finger. It fit perfectly and Thorin traced his finger along the golden band, sending a shiver up Bilbo’s spine.
“I never truly thanked you for all you have done for us,” Thorin said. He met Bilbo’s gaze with those sparkling blue eyes of his. “Not properly, at least.”
Bilbo swatted him with his free hand. “Psh, I’ve told you a thousand times that all of you have done enough just by letting me stay.”
Thorin’s face grew serious and he lifted his other hand so he was fully cupping Bilbo’s. It was an innocent touch, but Bilbo savored it like a hobbit savors the first rays of sun after a long, cold winter.
“We are not letting you stay,” Thorin said, firmly. “We want you to stay.” His eyes drifted downward. “I want you to stay.”
Bilbo’s breath caught in his throat. Was this Thorin's way of asking him to stay in Erebor? Permanently? No, no that couldn’t be it. Thorin was a king and Bilbo was just a hobbit. And his friend. And desperately in love with him.
“Thorin,” Bilbo whispered, placing his hand over his. They were mere inches apart now, the heat from his presence seeping into Bilbo and warming him from head to toe.
Just then a shout came from down the hall. Thorin pulled away, stepping in front of him protectively. Another shout was heard and then a slur of words and a peal of laughter echoed along the walls. It was just a pair of dwarves, probably returning to their rooms like Bilbo had intended to do, after drinking themselves into a stupor.
Thorin’s shoulders relaxed as he turned back to face Bilbo.
“It’s late.” Bilbo wrapped his arms around himself, shivering from the loss of Thorin’s warmth. “I should be getting back to my room.”
Thorin stared at him for a moment, his features unreadable. “Of course.” He nodded, removing his coat. He draped it over Bilbo’s shoulders before the hobbit could protest.
“We can’t have our burglar catching a cold, now can we?”
Bilbo snorted, shaking his head. “I suppose not. I don’t know what you lot would do without me.”
“We’d be utterly lost.” Thorin smiled, enough to hide what Bilbo could’ve sworn was disappointment in his eyes. He bowed slightly, almost teasingly. “I bid you a good Durin’s Night, Bilbo.”
“Good night, Your Majesty.”
He watched the king disappear back down the hallway, unable to wipe the grin from his face. Bilbo sighed wistfully before returning to his room. What a mess he was, completely besotted and almost making a fool of himself. But Thorin had been so warm and looked so lovely in his party clothes. For a moment, Bilbo let himself imagine what it would be like if he had, just briefly, pressed his lips to Thorin’s.
Bilbo had been about to remove Thorin’s borrowed coat and blow out his candle when there was a knock at his door.
His mouth twisted into a frown. “Now who could that possibly be at this hour?” he muttered, opening it a crack.
Thorin stood before him, out of breath and the crown on his head askew. “Bilbo.”
“Thorin?” Bilbo’s eyes widened at the worried look on his face. “What is it? What’s wro-“
Bilbo was cut off by warm hands cupping his cheeks and the press of lips against his. Before he realized what was happening, let alone revel in the sweet taste of sugary dessert on Thorin’s lips, he was pulling away.
“I apologize,” Thorin said, though the intensity on his face said otherwise.
“I do not know if you could ever feel the same way, after all I have done to you.” He took Bilbo’s hands in his, just as he had not an hour ago in the hallway. “I am not worthy of your love.”
Bilbo straightened up, realizing that the shock of the kiss had caused him to sag against the door. “Thorin-“
“However,” Thorin continued, despite Bilbo’s attempts to interject. “I could not let you return to the Shire without telling you the truth: I love you.”
Bilbo’s mouth hung open in shock. “You’re telling me this now?”
Thorin’s gaze flickered to his feet. “I-“
“Thorin, I never wanted to go back to the Shire.”
Thorin’s eyes widened in confusion. “You did not?”
“No, not since I…” Bilbo smiled sheepishly. “Not since I fell in love with you.”
If Thorin looked surprised before, he looked absolutely slack-jawed now. Clearly, a confession wasn’t enough.
Bilbo huffed. “You ridiculous, confounded-“
This time, he cut himself off, his fingers gripping the braids framing Thorin’s face and pulling him in for a proper kiss. This seemed to get the message across, because Thorin faltered only for a moment before wrapping his arms around Bilbo’s waist. He savored the scrape of Thorin’s beard and the tangle of his hair between his fingers.
Bilbo kissed him feverishly, relishing in something he never dared dream could become a reality. To think, Thorin was in his doorway, Thorin was kissing him senseless (or rather, in this case, he was the one kissing Thorin senseless, he’d like to think).
When they finally broke apart, Thorin rested his forehead against Bilbo’s.
“Ghivashel,” he whispered, his voice rough. “I never let myself believe…”
Bilbo twined one of Thorin’s silvery-black braids around his ringed, pinky finger. “You don’t have to. I’m right here.” He kissed the tiny bead at the end of the braid. “I’m all yours.”
Thorin pressed another earnest kiss to Bilbo’s lips. “And I, yours.”
'cause even when there is no star in sight
you'll always be my only guiding light