- Death-Major Character
- Fix It
Three Weeks Later
Bilbo was at his wit’s end.
It had begun with the arrival of the food wagons, which was a welcome sight to everyone. For the prior week they had been down to minimal rations—what they had left of the supplies Dain brought had run out, and they were relying only on what Bard could provide.
Bilbo had been rushing everywhere the moment the first sighting came through. They’d spent time clearing out storage rooms and making sure all the equipment was prepared to preserve the food over the coming months. It had taken a few capable dwarves and one very determined hobbit.
“Bilbo!” The voice that accompanied the cry was quite the shock, because if there was one thing Bilbo had never believed he would see, it was another hobbit in the mountain.
“Hamfast!” Bilbo hurried to greet his friend. Hamfast hopped down from the wagon and threw his arms around Bilbo, pounding his back. “What are you doing here? Elrond said he had arranged for some men to accompany the wagons.”
“As if I would trust men to know how to handle the food,” Hamfast shook his head, “you know they only have three meals,” his whisper wasn’t nearly as hushed as he pretended it was, and Bilbo could see a few dwarves hiding their smiles.
“I did know that, just like I know hobbits don’t leave the Shire!”
“Lord Elrond promised safe and speedy passage, and the harvest is almost over. It gives my son some time to handle the garden on his own,” Hamfast rubbed his hands together and turned to face the dwarves surrounding them, “Now, someone tell me where these are going? The sun’s going to waste just standing around!”
It was almost amusing to see the dwarves leap to action at the word of another hobbit, but it was efficiently taken care of. Balin had arranged for some of the stronger dwarves still in the mountain to be around to sling bags of food.
“I’ve got wheat and corn meal in my wagon,” Hamfast informed Bilbo as they watched the bags being lowered, “there are two more wagons with grains, and potatoes, and other fresh fruit and vegetables in the others.”
“You have no idea what this means,” Bilbo hummed, his stomach already striking up an insistent grumble at the thought of all that fresh food.
“I think I have a bit of an idea,” Hamfast reached up to the wagon seat and pulled out a fresh apple. He tossed it to Bilbo with a grin. The first bite was sweet and juicy, and Bilbo smiled back at Hamfast.
“How long are you here for?”
“It’ll be a quick turnabout,” Hamfast shrugged, “I’m just dropping off the food. When the wagons are clear it’s back to the Shire with me.”
Bilbo nodded, disappointed that his friend couldn’t stay longer. He realized it was the best choice, winter was coming after all, and Hamfast needed to get back to the Shire safely. It didn’t stop the sadness. Of course, Hamfast noticed.
“Don’t be like that my friend,” he wrapped an arm around Bilbo’s shoulders and pulled him close. “How about you show me what a hobbit gets up to around here.”
Bilbo led him away while the dwarves continued emptying the wagons. It was a quick tour through the mountain, showing Hamfast all that had been accomplished. They ended up in Bilbo’s quarters where Hamfast settled in with a sigh. Bilbo smiled at the familiar sight and ducked into his private kitchen to prepare a pot of tea.
“Oh,” Hamfast sat up eagerly when Bilbo brought in the hot pot and two cups, “I have missed this. They didn’t even stop for tea, can you believe that? I don’t even think they had tea.”
The two enjoyed the warm drink, sipping slowly and relishing the quiet.
“They’ll probably be done unloading the wagons in a few hours,” Bilbo said softly, “It’ll be too late for you to go anywhere, but in the morning I imagine you’ll be heading back out.”
“Most likely,” Hamfast agreed. Bilbo wasn’t sure he was ready to let his friend go, which Hamfast could apparently tell, “It’ll be alright. Your dwarves look like they’re taking good care of you.”
“You have a home here now,” Hamfast set his cup down, “you haven’t had that in the Shire for a while. You locked yourself up in that big smial, and shut yourself away from the world. Why do you think Old Took was so accommodating when it came to your requests,” he snorted at Bilbo’s startled expression. “You didn’t think he’d do this for anyone, did you? He’s glad you have a home. We all are.”
Bilbo smiled gratefully and Hamfast reached over to squeeze his hands. They settled back in, quietly drinking their tea until the dinner bell rang through the mountain.
It was an exciting meal for once, the dwarves in happy spirits, and food was plentiful on the tables. Bombur had worked wonders in the short time he’d had with the new supplies. Bilbo couldn’t imagine anyone doing better.
He took the time to introduce Hamfast to all of his friends, and the dwarves welcomed the older hobbit with great cheer.
“To the Shire!” Gloin raised his cup boisterously.
“To the Shire!” Bilbo followed suit and took a sip of the ale in his cup. His eyebrows raised in surprise at the taste, apparently someone had snuck some good Shire ale into the wagons. He wondered what else might be hiding in them.
The food and ale kept the dwarves cheerful, and Bilbo was barely able to stumble his way back to his room with Hamfast. He showed his friend the spare bedroom, and barely made it to his own room before his eyelids became to heavy to hold up.
In the morning, the wagons were empty and ready for the return journey, and Hamfast was ready to go home. Bilbo tried to push down his sadness, but Hamfast must have noticed because he pulled Bilbo into a tight hug. The squeeze lasted a long time, and when Hamfast released him Bilbo was able to pull up a smile—a small smile, but a smile nonetheless.
“Just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean we won’t see each other again,” Hamfast told him as he climbed into a wagon.
“I know,” Bilbo nodded.
“Now, don’t let those dwarves keep you too busy to visit. Living half way across Middle Earth is no excuse not to see each other.” This gave Bilbo a reason to laugh and he waved as the wagons left.
– – – –
Bilbo stopped to pull in a deep breath, the first moment he’d had to himself since Hamfast had left. He was currently hiding from everyone in a storage room, and he wasn’t the least bit ashamed. Managing a bunch of dwarves was exhausting.
It had taken everyone’s know-how to get the food organized into a somewhat reasonable method. During that time Bilbo had been dodging Balin, Oin, and Bofur who all insisted he needed to talk about Thorin now that things were more stable. Bilbo did not agree.
He had ended up in the storage room because someone had enlisted Nori in the hobbit-hunt and he was much more capable. Taking in one more deep breath Bilbo eased the door open and peeked out. No one in sight. He opened the door a little more, still clear. He stepped fully into the hallway and immediately jumped out of his skin when a hand came down on his shoulder.
“Ori!” Bilbo turned to smile at the young dwarf. Ori smiled back and fiddled with the book he was holding. The ruffling of paper was oddly soothing.
“I was just looking for you.”
“I wasn’t hiding!”
“I didn’t think you were,” Ori looked honestly confused, and Bilbo felt a little relieved. It seemed this was one dwarf that hadn’t been pulled to the “make Bilbo talk” side. “I just wanted to let you know the last of the boxes were delivered and sent to your room.”
“Thank—wait, my room?” Bilbo couldn’t think of any reason for that, nothing Hamfast had said.
“Yes, there were a few boxes that were labeled with your name. I made sure that no one opened them and that everyone was careful with them.”
“Oh, thank you. I guess I should go look at them,” Bilbo waved goodbye and turned to go before Ori’s hand stopped him again.
“I also,” the dwarf took a deep breath, “I wanted to give this to you.”
Ori opened the book he was carrying and pulled out a piece of paper. He gave it to Bilbo and shifted backwards nervously. Bilbo looked at him, confused, before glancing down at the paper. The sight made his heart hurt.
Ori had given him a beautifully drawn picture. It was a memory Bilbo clearly remembered, of Thorin laughing as he held Bilbo, their braids knocking together in the wind. It was their wedding day.
“I—I don’t—” Bilbo couldn’t finish his words.
“I just thought you might want it,” Ori shifted nervously, fingers ruffling the pages of the book, “I’m sorry it took so long. I wanted to make it perfect. I know the healers don’t,” he cut off, seemingly reading the hurt that crossed Bilbo’s face, “I just thought you might want it.”
“Thank you,” Bilbo breathed and, unable to resist, threw his arms around Ori, careful not to wrinkle the drawing.
“You’re welcome,” Ori said into his shoulder as he hugged back.
Bilbo pulled away after a few minutes, looked at the picture, and threw his arms around Ori again. He managed not to repeat this a third time, and gave Ori a final thanks and waved goodbye.
Ori waved back shyly before Bilbo headed off to his rooms.
Just like Ori had said, boxes were waiting in the center of his living area. There were five of them, all stacked neatly, and Bilbo slowly opened the first one. It was filled with hay and when he dug through it his fingers hit something hard and wooden. He pulled it out carefully and almost dropped it.
The it was a picture frame, a very familiar picture frame filled with a very familiar picture of his mother. This time it was impossible to choke back the sob and after carefully setting the frame aside he dove back into the box, pulling out a picture of his father.
It took him less than ten minutes to go through the boxes and when he had pulled everything out he was surrounded by some of the most important things from the Shire he’d owned. His mother’s glory box, the tea set they’d used every day, the silver spoons he’d had to steal back from Lobelia every time she’d visited, his father’s books.
It was just too much for Bilbo. Surrounded by his things he gave in once more to the sadness that trailed behind him. It was a long night.
– – – –
Finally, his garden was ready. Bilbo had spent numerous hours in here, hours he had told no one about as he prepared for this moment. With the arrival of the crops, and the mature plants his grandfather had promised, everything had begun falling into place. Bilbo had filled his garden with new life and with plants he’d gathered from the forests and hills surrounding them.
Now, it was time to plant the final seed.
Bilbo knelt carefully in the middle of the garden, in the space he’d left open just for this purpose. He slowly dug a hole, making sure it was deep enough for his needs. Hole dug, he settled back on his heels. Bilbo stared at the hole, gathering his courage to make this final choice.
He reached into his pocket for the acorn he’d carried so far. The acorn he’d told Thorin held their future. He remembered Thorin’s wide-eyed shock at his explanation, of the child that they could grow. At the kiss that would bring it to life.
He remembered Thorin taking the acorn from him on the night of their wedding and slicing his thumb open so the blood welled up. He remembered Thorin running his thumb along his lips, coating them with blood and carefully kissing the acorn, leaving behind a piece of himself. He’d handed the acorn back, a promise of a life together that would be filled with joy, laughter, and the pounding of little feet.
It was the only time hobbits were even a little bloodthirsty, during the planting of children. There was no sacrifice too great after all.
Bilbo took a deep breath and cut open his thumb, mirroring the cut Thorin had made so long ago. He put his thumb to his lips, painting them carefully, and then raised the acorn. On the opposite side of Thorin’s mark, Bilbo placed one final kiss. The last he’d ever share with a piece of Thorin. The rest would be saved for the child he grew.
He pulled back from the acorn, just a little, and whispered, “I ask, Lady Yavanna, that you hear our plea, see our love, and grant us a bloom. Let us water it with the sweat of our labor, sun it in our warmth, and raise it in our love. From my lips, to your gardens.”
Bilbo gently placed the acorn in the small hole he’d made and covered it. He rested his hand over the small mound of dirt, and swore he could feel it breathe. He felt a little silly, imagining the prayer had been answered, but he supposed every parent felt that way after completing the ritual.
He lowered himself to the ground next to his child, and started telling them all about their father, his will, his strength, his courage, and his great love.
Bilbo didn’t go anywhere for the rest of the night.
The next morning all seemed well, the calm before the storm. A caravan had been spotted on the horizon, and Lady Dis was leading it.
– – – –