Fandom: The Hobbit (2012)
Characters: Bilbo, Frodo, Dwalin, Thorin, assorted others
Warning: There are a couple canonical characters deaths. Thorin is not one of them.
Summary: In the years since Bilbo left Erebor, he has lost his respectability, gained a nephew, and gotten on with life at Bag End.
He’d left aside adventure for the comforts and peace of his little Hobbit hole, and for the love of child who needed him. Though perhaps, adventures can yet find him.
Or also known as: The Adventures of Young Frodo Baggins and his Cookie Monster.
This story is an AU, you’ll quickly find, in which Thorin survived the Battle of the Five Armies and remained King Under the Mountain.
It’s also an AU in which I have played with dates, times, places. What have you. Some people are older than they should be, some are younger, but hey, if Peter Jackson can do it, I’ll have some fun as well.
Author Notes: This story has briefly taken over my life, oh, yes. Many, many thanks to my very good friend green_key, who has watched me agonize and write this. As always, she is my best sounding board and partner-in-crime. My mental picture of Dwalin is completely her fault.
His rest was fitful, cluttered with dreams more than half memory though less than truth and Bilbo woke long before dawn without even a playful nephew to blame. He gave up sleeping as a loss, rising in the greyness of early morning to stoke the kitchen fire. The others would surely sleep for some time yet, perhaps even Frodo given his late night, and Bilbo set out a plate of scones for them all, setting the kettle by the fire to heat for tea.
For once, his own stomach was reasonably quiet, his overindulgence the previous day keeping hunger at bay and he took only a single scone, slathering it with only a bit of jam before making his way back to his study. The pages he'd written with such care the night before were perfectly dry and he turned to another blank one, his pen at the ready.
The words flowed with ease, borne, perhaps, of his company the night before and Bilbo wrote with passion, hardly noticing the quiet voices that eventually came from his kitchen, nor even the smell of tea. Until Frodo came bearing a cup and saucer with great care, setting it still steaming at Bilbo's elbow.
He thanked the lad absently, not even looking up from the pages. Until he realized the boy had not yet left, rocking back and forth on his feet. "I'm dressed!" Frodo announced, as though this were something to be greatly admired.
"I see that you are," Bilbo agreed.
Which did not seem to be the proper answer, because Frodo frowned, clarifying, "So that we can do the shopping. I'm dressed, so we can be off whenever you are ready."
Ready was something Bilbo certainly was not, still in his dressing gown and robe, his pen hovering over the page. He was only perhaps a quarter of a way through the part where the first Dwarf, Dwalin as it were, had arrived at his door and Bilbo was reluctant to abandon it with the words flowing so freely.
"Perhaps we can do the shopping later, Frodo?" Bilbo asked, hopefully, "I really would like to finish this chapter today."
"But Uncle Bilbo, we always go to the market on Wednesday," Frodo said in a small voice.
In his chest, Bilbo's heart cramped. It was true; he and Frodo had made a habit of going to the market at midweek. That was the day Pansy Bracegirdle made fresh sesame cakes and the two of them always managed to wrangle a few from her, eating them as they browsed through the different stands, looking over the various wares that were offered, both the familiar and the exotic.
There were also the guests to consider; Dwarves were nothing if not hungry and would give the sturdiest Hobbit a run for their coin. Yes, they would need to do a little shopping, though Bilbo cast his writing a wistful look. Only to be startled by a deep voice from the hall.
"Dwalin and I can take him," Thorin said, stepping through the doorway. And again, Bilbo's heart cramped, for entirely different reasons. Thorin was dressed in a simple blue tunic, the sleeves delicately embroidered and laced closed at the chest. It was belted at the waist and again, the buckle was simple, nothing like the elaborate clasps Bilbo had seen him wearing before. His armor he'd left off and that was a rare sight indeed; even with Erebor reclaimed Bilbo had hardly ever seen him without it.
He was undeniably handsome and it proved enough of a distraction for Bilbo not to realize at first what he'd said. When he did, Bilbo could only sputter a moment, mind awhirl at the very thought, "You…" he stammered, "You and Dwalin? Oh, dear, no, I couldn't possibly allow you to—"
The look Thorin gave him was long familiar, a mixture of exasperation and pique at the mere suggestion that Bilbo might allow him to do anything. "Dwalin and I dwelt in the world of Men for many years, and, yes, we did on occasion require food," he said dryly, "I believe we can manage to navigate through one small marketplace."
"Oh, but—" Bilbo tried, but Frodo's small face was shining with delight; surely in his mind he was already off to the market with his new friends, eager and proud to show all of Hobbiton their guests, "You're…you're guests," Bilbo finished, weakly.
"I'm no more a guest here than you were at Erebor," Thorin said and the warmth in his voice sent a matching tingle up Bilbo's spine.
"Well…" Bilbo cast his book another longing glance, "Perhaps you can just get a few things."
Both of them watched in amusement as Frodo clapped his hands in delight. "I'll get my jacket!" he cried, darting away, nearly running straight into Dwalin.
"And what sort of scrape is that one heading for?" Dwalin growled and Bilbo could not help but notice he had not abandoned his armor.
"We are heading to the marketplace with him," Thorin said, with sunny, and obviously false, enthusiasm, clapping Dwalin roughly on the shoulder hard enough that he staggered forward a step. He turned back to Bilbo as though oblivious to the other Dwarf's ferocious scowl, "Make us a list and we will handle it."
Bilbo snatched up a scrap of paper, scribbling down a few items that would make good additions to dinner, adding a note to pick up Frodo a sesame cake first. Glancing up at the two of them, Thorin watching him expectantly and Dwalin watching him…like Dwalin, Bilbo bit his lip, "Perhaps I should come along after all-"
"Bilbo," Thorin said, halting his words with the weight of his exasperation.
He threw up his hands in surrender, handing over his hastily written list. "Oh, very well! But, could you possibly not mention to anyone that you're a King?"
"And why should my King have any shame in his lineage?" Dwalin glowered at him.
"I only mean it might be awkward! The Hobbits of the Shire are rather the simple sort; they aren't used to Kings and warriors doing their shopping at the market."
Dwalin was turning a ruddy shade of furious and Thorin gave him an impatient wave, "Let it be. We're here as visitors, not to lord over Bilbo's neighbors. We're merely Thorin and Dwalin, guests at Bag End, and we need only a few small things." He gave Bilbo a nod and Bilbo noted with resignation how terribly regal it was. Asking Thorin not to be a King, indeed. Perhaps he might also ask the Dwarf if he'd care to stop breathing for a time or offer an Elf a kiss, it seemed just as likely.
The patter of Frodo's bare feet running back to them stopped any thoughts of changing his mind, and Thorin gave the lad a gentle smile as he laid a hand on his shoulder, guiding him to the door, "We'll be back soon."
If only that didn't seem so ominous.
Sitting back at his desk, Bilbo soon forgot his trepidation as he was once again quickly absorbed in his book. He'd just reached the part where the Dwarves had begun tossing about his tableware, giggling to himself all the while, when a knock at the door startled him. The sun was considerably further along than he'd thought and Bilbo hopped to his feet, hurrying to answer it as all his worries came rushing back.
To find Thorin and Dwalin waiting for him with full arms, both of them laden with enough packages that even Dwalin was staggering beneath their weight. Or perhaps it was the addition of one small Hobbit child that was nearly tipping him over because Bilbo could not help but stare, mouth agape, at the sight of Frodo perched happily on one broad shoulder, one sticky hand gripping Dwalin's bald pate and the other clutching a piece of sesame cake large enough to feed three children.
"What…what have you done?" Bilbo wailed, stepping hastily aside as Dwalin ducked through the doorway, heaving his burden along with him.
"It was a strange thing," Thorin said mildly, following Dwalin as he juggled his own packages. "At first, it seemed the market might be closed. None of the shopkeepers seemed able to sell us anything. But Dwalin spoke to them and suddenly, there were items in abundance. Everyone seemed happy to assist us and none of them even asked for a coin. Perhaps Gandalf was right, Hobbits are remarkably friendly creatures."
Bilbo stood dumbly, watching the two of them unload their burdens in the pantry. "Oh, I am going to be run out of the Shire," Bilbo muttered, mentally planning to pack a bag to set aside if ever he and Frodo needed to escape in the middle of the night.
"I still paid them of course," Thorin went on. "I would not want anyone to think we were taking advantage of their generosity."
Frodo beamed down at Bilbo from his perch, his cheeks bulging with cake, "Mister Dwalin was loud!" he announced happily.
"A bit of," Dwalin allowed, gruffly, and it seemed to Bilbo that he pretended not to see when Bilbo reached to take Frodo.
"Yes, a bit of," Thorin agreed, casting a glare at the other. "He did promise to be quieter from here on out."
"Uncle Bilbo," Frodo peered down at him, seriously, "What's a pasty-arsed skinflint?"
If Bilbo had thought there was a chance he might be run out of the Shire, now he was certain of it. He looked at Thorin in horror, hardly noticing the small package that was thrust into his hands.
Thorin coughed, surely hiding a grin behind his hand, "He also promises to have a care with his language."
"It was true," Dwalin said with curt succinctness, striding out of the pantry with a crowing Frodo still clinging to him like an oversized burr. Bilbo only stood, clutching the package Thorin had given him and watching as the King Under the Mountain added a loaf of fresh bread to the box in the corner.
"Are you going to open that?" Thorin asked him politely and Bilbo blinked, looking down at the brown paper-wrapped package in his hands. The string snapped easily and he opened it to find a generous serving of Pansy's sesame cake, cut into hand-sized pieces.
"I was asked to give that to you by a young lady," Thorin told him and his voice was carefully neutral. A few of Farmer Maggot's prized tomatoes found a home in an empty bowl and Thorin added it to the shelf alongside Bilbo's own homegrown.
"Ah, yes," Bilbo nodded. "I'm rather surprised she wrapped it for you, it's quite popular. Frodo and I usually have to arrive early to get even a small piece."
"I believe it was you she was wrapping it for." Again, carefully neutral and Thorin was giving the groceries the same sort of deep attention he might have given a plan for war.
Bilbo coughed, clumsily folding the paper around the cakes again. "I suppose that's possible. Bit of a waste of her time, I'm afraid."
"Indeed?" Thorin asked, vaguely. The flick of his eyes at Bilbo, though, was blade-sharp, taking in every nuance.
"Indeed. I've little interest in Hobbit lasses," Bilbo smiled, a little, "No matter how superb their baking."
Thorin hummed softly, less agreement than commiseration and said, "Frodo was a joy at the marketplace. He is a good lad."
"He is," Bilbo agreed and this time his smile was wide and fond. Only to turn puzzled as Thorin stilled, hands resting on the shelf.
"He puts me in mind of Kili and Fili," Thorin told him quietly, his voice soft with grief, and Bilbo had known that without him having to say a word. He stepped forward unthinkingly, laying a hand upon Thorin's chest.
"I think of them often as well," Bilbo told him, softly. Of their mischievous smiles and joint laughter, their fierceness in battle, defending their friends and family. He tried not to think of their burial, of the day that laughter was forever silenced.
"Every day," Thorin said, like a confession, and his large hand closed over Bilbo's. He had no sense of how long they stood there, sharing a gaze and their silent sorrow. Thorin's eyes searched Bilbo's, for what he did not know, and his hand was warm, holding Bilbo's over his own heart.
And then a bright shout of laughter broke that heavy silence, followed by small, Hobbity feet as Frodo dashed in, his hair tousled and crumbs still clinging to his shirtfront. "Did you see," he asked, excitedly, "Miss Pansy gave us an extra cake just for you! She never does that, never ever, but Thorin told her that—"
"And are you going to allow me to put all this away on my own, young man?" Thorin asked, loudly, letting Bilbo's hand slip away. "I'm sure your uncle has taught you better manners than that."
Frodo bobbed his head eagerly, "I can help! I help really good!"
"You help very well," Thorin corrected gently, then sagged into a chair with an exaggerated sigh. "And very well that you are here to help, I believe I am too exhausted to continue."
Frodo crept over with wide, worried eyes, "Are you hurt? Did you carry too much? Uncle Bilbo got hurt once and he had to put his foot up for three whole days and not walk, and—" He squealed aloud as Thorin snatched him up, tickling the little hobbit until he shrieked, convulsing with laughter.
Bilbo only watched them, smiling, and if there was a sadness to it, there was none who might question him. He watched Thorin set Frodo gently back on his feet, the two of them solemnly sorting through the rest of the parcels as Bilbo thought of two mischievous young Dwarves, imagined the both of them playing happily just so with their adored uncle.
"Not there," Thorin chided, unaware of the wistful turn to Bilbo's thoughts. "Your uncle is very particular about his pantry. Let's make sure we put everything in its proper place."
"Yes, sir," Frodo said, and he gravely moved the packet of biscuits to the correct shelf. "Uncle puts cookies in the jar by the table."
"I think perhaps we might do better to secret them in here," Thorin leaned down to whispered in Frodo's ear, and Bilbo could only stare in astonishment as Thorin cast him a mischievous wink. "Otherwise, Dwalin will have them all by nightfall."
Frodo giggled and complied, tucking the parcel behind a bowl of apples, and Bilbo let some of his sorrow fade. Perhaps it was not Frodo alone who held a reminder of Kili and Fili inside.
It seemed their journey to the marketplace had only cemented Frodo's worship of Dwalin, though Bilbo could only wonder at what went on in the Dwarf's mind. Whatever it was, it appeared he had silently and without permission appointed himself as Frodo's guardian and when the lad had gone off to play with his friends, Dwalin had followed, a hulking shadow trailing at Frodo's skipping heels.
Samwise had only offered a shy smile at Frodo's delighted introduction, his brown eyes large and cautious. Meriadoc, scamp that he was, had looked the Dwarf up and down before announcing, "I can beat you up!"
And promptly put word to action by kicking Dwalin in the shin.
Dwalin had collapsed in an exaggerated paroxysm of pain, clutching his ankle and groaning, and when Merry had worriedly gone to him, already spilling apologies, Dwalin grabbed the child and tickled him until his delighted shrieks could be heard through the Shire.
For the rest of the morning, three little Hobbits trailed behind Dwalin like ducklings following their mother to water, and once, when another fellow failed to reply to Frodo's cheery greeting, Bilbo had heard Dwalin snarl out, "He said good afternoon!"
Suddenly, the mannerly nature of Hobbiton increased tenfold in moments. Bilbo bit his tongue and let it be, supposing that a lesson in manners wasn't completely untoward.
Now they were atop the hill, Frodo, Samwise, and Merry playing with Dwalin, or something like it. He had a boy on each arm, another astride his shoulders, climbing atop him as though he were a particularly hairy tree. Dwalin bore his burden stoically, though Bilbo fretted.
"He needn't let them trouble him so," Bilbo told Thorin worriedly. "They can be overwhelming at times."
Thorin only shook his head. "Send the children away and he will only complain the more for it. He was much the same with my nephews."
If his guests had any plans to journey on they said not so and Bilbo found he was strangely reluctant to ask. There were Dwarves at his table again and in his life, and to ask them when they would be leaving seemed more of an invitation for them to go. Better, perhaps, to accept them as they were and Bilbo simply went on with his day as he would have without a King at his heels.
Thorin had chosen to sit on Bilbo's favorite bench, pipe in hand as he watched Bilbo root through his vegetable garden for weeds. Bilbo mopped at his forehead with his pocket handkerchief, for the afternoon was already quite warm even without gardening. Thorin was watching him with strange intensity, casting the occasional glance up at the children, who shouted and squealed with laughter.
It was strange, perhaps, Bilbo mused, to see Thorin so…relaxed. Content for once to simply smoke his pipe, and without his regal garb, he might have been a particularly tall and broad Hobbit. Bilbo imagined Thorin with bare, hairy feet and had to stifle a smile. Well, perhaps not.
And while it was all well and good to enjoy the sunshine, this gardening would not finish itself, and Bilbo went back to his vegetables. Somewhere at the summer peas, Thorin's gaze upon him began to prickle, and Bilbo gave him a considering look.
"You could help me, if you like," Bilbo offered and Thorin froze, his pipe an inch from his mouth as his brows drew together, as though Bilbo had spoken to him in a language he did not understand. Thorin looked honestly flummoxed, such a rare look on him that Bilbo couldn't help but find it endearing.
"I wouldn't know where to begin," Thorin admitted.
"Come now," Bilbo teased. "You'll face down a dragon but not bear a little mud?"
That did the trick. With a firm scowl in place, Thorin tapped his pipe out on the heel of his boot and set it aside, approaching as though going to his own execution. Bilbo gestured grandly to the spot next to him and Thorin knelt, eyeing the plants before him. "And what is it we are doing?"
"Weeding," Bilbo explained. "It's quite relaxing, really."
"Weeding," Thorin repeated as though tasting a foul word. Bilbo thought he might say Elf with more affection.
"Yes, weeding. We want to pull out any rascally wilders that are threatening the vegetables. Do you see?" Bilbo tugged out a small thistle that had just begun to sprout.
"All I see are green things," Thorin admitted.
"Well, any green things that don't look like my tomatoes need to go."
Thorin went slowly, hesitating over every weed until Bilbo nodded approval. Slowly, he gained confidence, clearing away even the tiniest weedlings. His hands were dirty, as were his sleeves, but Thorin seemed to pay that no mind, concentrating on eliminating the weedy element of Bilbo's garden with the intensity he might use for smiting orcs.
"You said these were prize winning tomatoes," Thorin asked, wiping a rivulet of sweat from his forehead with his shirtsleeve.
"Oh, yes," Bilbo said proudly. "Ten years running now. Well, minus the year I spent traveling with you lot."
"You have quite the garden."
"You have no idea whether I do or not, but I will take the compliment in the spirit it was intended. These tomatoes are my prizes, but the cabbages do quite well also. The carrots are in fine health this year, though the early frost did in my strawberries. I do grow a little pipe weed, but I do believe I only smoke it in defiance, it hardly compares to old Toby." Bilbo smiled embarrassedly, "This must be dreadfully boring to you."
Thorin pulled out another sprouting thistle, wincing as the tiny prickles dug into his fingers before he cast it into the basket. He paused only to give Bilbo a faint smile, "Nothing that you love so would be boring to me."
It seemed like there should be something Bilbo had to say about that, but before he could puzzle out just what that was, an unpleasantly familiar voice shattered the peace of their afternoon with its shrillness. "Bilbo Baggins!"
Bilbo cringed and very much wished for a chance to use his ring before he was spotted; a vain hope, for Lobelia was already striding up the garden path. Dressed very much as though she were on her way to a party of some sort rather than visiting family, and she even carried a parasol, something of a waste to Bilbo's mind since a little sun could only improve her sour expression. She had the little umbrella clutched in her hand like a sword, which was quite the comparison, for Bilbo was sure that she would be delighted to shove either through his heart.
"Good morning, cousin," Lobelia said smartly, tapping her parasol on the stone path. How it was that such a lovely woman could be such a harridan, Bilbo did not know.
"Good morning, Lobelia," Bilbo said with weary politeness. "What might I do for you?"
"I came to check on Frodo, of course," she said, her voice sweet with false consideration. "What sort of Aunt would I be if I didn't see how the child was faring, living in solitude with his uncle? Where is the little hooligan?" She looked about as if expecting to see the boy crawl out from beneath the tomato plants. "Off playing with the farmer's children in the dirt, I suppose."
"I would hardly call Frodo a hooligan," Thorin said, coolly. "He's been nothing but a well-behaved, polite child in my presence.
Lobelia cast her hawk-like stare at Thorin as though only just seeing him, though surely she'd heard about him. Likely that was her true reason for coming. "Your presence, indeed," she sniffed, eyeing Thorin's shirt, its dirty sleeves and the sweat staining beneath the arms from working in the sun. "Bilbo, I do so wonder about you. Staying here at Bag End, taking in boys and beggars even after that nasty business with your adventure." She spat the word out as though it personally offended her. "Your reputation in tatters and no wonder. I expect to bring up the matter of Frodo again to the rest of the relatives, mark my words. It's not decent, raising him this way!"
A small cry came from behind them, all of them turning to see Frodo, his face reddened with impending tears and his little fists clenched. The others stood behind him, Samwise and Merry both close to hiding behind Dwalin's bulk as Frodo shouted, "I don't want to leave Uncle Bilbo!"
"Frodo Baggins, you would do well to remember who you are speaking-"
"Frodo," Dwalin interrupted her. "Why don't you and the lads nip into your Uncle's kitchen and find yourselves a snack, aye? There's a good boy."
Frodo shot him a worried glance then did as he was told, Samwise and Merry at his heels. The green door had scarcely shut before Dwalin rounded on Lobelia, towering over her.
Lobelia sputtered indignantly, "Why, you—you—"
"You will apologize to my King," Dwalin told her, shortly.
"Dwalin," Thorin began, sharply, only to be interrupted by Lobelia's shrillness.
"I would not stoop to apologizing to beggars and thieves, I know what sort you Dwarves are and I-"
"I did not stand by him through wars and death, help him battle a dragon to regain his throne, only to travel with him to this little hamlet and allow him to be insulted by the likes of you," Dwalin thundered, and for possibly the first time in her life, Lobelia quailed. "Now, you will apologize to my King!"
"Terribly sorry," she muttered and took a step back, her parasol falling unnoticed from her hands. "A misunderstanding, I'm sure."
Dwalin nodded slowly and some of the murderous rage lifted from him, to Bilbo's great relief. Not that he would have overly minded if Dwalin had taken it upon himself to murder Lobelia, but there were the children to think about.
"And you'll be staying far away from Frodo," Dwalin said, coldly. "He's a good lad, not too big-headed or snotty. Or he won't be, so long as he stays away from the likes of you."
Lobelia sputtered and hissed like a wet cat, sweeping up her skirts and marching down the garden path, her parasol left forgotten in the grass. Bilbo thought he might leave it there.
The three of them watched her storm away; Bilbo in particular was always happy to see her walking away from him rather than towards. So much was he enjoying her retreat that he started when Dwalin knelt stiffly before him, his head bowed.
"I apologize for speaking so to your kin," Dwalin said, stiffly. "But I could not allow such disrespect to my King."
Bilbo laughed aloud and clapped him on one broad shoulder. "My friend, that was an honor and a privilege to witness. All of the Shire will be miserable to think they missed the show!"
"A show, indeed," Thorin drawled and Dwalin hunched over further, his eyes firmly on the ground. "You might consider allowing me to defend my own honor as I see fit?"
"Against that shrew?" Dwalin dismissed it. "You can defend your honor against a worthy opponent; she would have been a waste of your time.
"Yes, a waste of my precious gardening time," Thorin said, dryly. "Thank you ever so much for defending me from that."
The sound of someone calling Bilbo's name caught their attention and the three of them turned to see Hamfast Gamgee puffing up the garden path, his cheeks flushed red and his broad face anxious. "Mister Bilbo," he called, breathlessly, and he was nearly staggering when he reached them, leaning over with his hands on his knees while he caught his breath.
"Easy, Hamfast," Bilbo went to him and put an arm around his shoulder anxiously. The other Hobbit leaned on him for a moment before Hamfast straightened, mopping at his forehead with his handkerchief.
"Was too late, I was," he huffed, coughing a moment, "Saw her coming up the way and I was trying to warn you." He shook his head sadly, tucking his hanky into his back pocket so that the end hung out like a bright red tail. "That woman, treating you and Frodo so, and her family! Not proper, it isn't, not at all!"
"I'm hardly known for my own properness," Bilbo pointed out, a touch wryly and Hamfast scoffed aloud.
"Gossip is all that is!" he said stoutly. "Gossip and jealousy! Fellow goes off and does something about the world and suddenly folks forget who it is they are speaking about! Don't see nobody turning away your coin, that's what I see. Snobs and better-than-thou's, all of them." He gave Bilbo an earnest look and clasped the hand Bilbo had laid on his shoulders. "You took in Frodo to do right by him. There's people who see you true, Mister Bilbo, and that’s a fact."
"Thank you, Hamfast," Bilbo said, kindly, and blinked as he recalled they still had an audience. Dwalin and Thorin both watching them, unreadable expressions on both their faces, as though they'd been carved of stone like the tales said.
"Hamfast, this is…erm…Dwalin and Thorin, guests of mine," Bilbo said, a little faintly and more than a little confused at his friends' sudden coolness.
"Dwalin?" Hamfast perked up. "You’re the fellow my Sam was going on about, are you!" Hamfast bellowed cheerfully. He strode right up to the two of them, snatching up Dwalin's hand. "Good to meet you then! Good to meet you both! Anyone whose friends with Bilbo and my boy can only be good folk!"
"Ah," Dwalin looked somewhat dazed, glancing down at his hand where Hamfast was pumping it eagerly. "He….aye? You're young Samwise's father, then."
"Oh, aye, aye," Hamfast agreed easily, "Our youngest, he is, the wife and I weren't expecting to have another but the lad is a joy, a joy! Was chattering like a magpie about the likes of you at luncheon."
"Yes, he's quite good with the children," Bilbo said and to his delight, bright color spread over Dwalin's face, even tingeing his gleaming bald pate. "He had a thing or two to say to Lobelia as well."
"Did he now!" Hamfast exclaimed, delighted. "Don't condone rudeness, a'course, but if ever there was one to deserve it, it would be that one. Well!" He slapped his thigh heartily, "I'd say I owe you a thanks or two for that alone! You'll have to come over for supper tomorrow night. I'd say tonight but best give the wife a chance to plan, she'd scold me right proper having guests without warning, she would."
Dwalin rather looked like he'd prefer another dinner at Rivendell and opened his mouth, perhaps to politely refuse but more like to send Hamfast into a dead faint. Only to be cut off as Thorin swiftly put in, "He'd be delighted. Nothing would please him more, I'm sure. Perhaps Frodo might join you? I do hate to invite another along, but it would please the child so."
Hamfast gave a hearty laugh and nodded vigorously, "Aye, it would, always right appreciative of my darling's cooking, there's a good lad. And what's one more mouth, anyhow, might as well make it an even ten!"
If anything, the horror on Dwalin's face only increased, redness fading to a greenish shade, and his beseeching look was ignored as Thorin nodded solemnly, offering Hamfast a handshake of his own, which he took, unconcerned at the dirt. "The both of them, then, tomorrow night."
"Most gracious of you and your wife," Thorin said smoothly, flicking a glance at Dwalin that could only be described as triumphant. Well, that put paid to the delicate comment the night before, Bilbo supposed.
"You and Mister Bilbo are welcome as well," Hamfast offered, "Not to be ignoring you, sir, gracious, no—"
"Alas, Bilbo and I have other matters to attend to," Thorin said gravely, "Though your kindness will be well remembered."
To Bilbo's bemusement, Hamfast went a trifle pink. He supposed there were none immune when Thorin turned the force of his gaze upon them. "Well, I'd best off. Do send Samwise home for suppertime, won't you?"
"I'm sure he wouldn't miss it," Bilbo laughed and Hamfast bobbed his head in laughing agreement, offering a cheery wave as he went back down the path, though Bilbo did not miss the kick he gave Lobelia's parasol in passing.
The three of them stood in silence, watching Hamfast until he disappeared around the corner, whistling cheerily all the while, and with each step he took, Dwalin's expression grew more thunderous, eyes blazing, though he kept the force of his glare away from Thorin.
"I won't forget that," Dwalin gritted out and Bilbo was grateful they were away from his tomatoes, for that voice might have shriveled them on the vine.
"I'm sure you can thank me later," Thorin said with easy calm. "Perhaps you'd care to look in on the children? They've been on their own in Bilbo's kitchen for some time."
With a last snarl, Dwalin stormed away and the door shuddered on its hinges as he closed it behind him. Bilbo watched him, a bit anxiously, his ears straining for childish screams but it seemed the little ones were safe from his tempers.
"I'm not sure if that was exceptionally clever or terribly cruel," Bilbo said, wonderingly.
"Less cruel than beheading," Thorin pointed out lightly and Bilbo's laugh carried over the hill.
End Chapter 2