- Death-Major Character
- Fix It
Dís daughter of Thrain son of Thror was not impressed when she entered the mountain her brother had reclaimed. She looked at the gates: barely serviceable, although she supposed a battle could do that. Slowly sweeping her eyes across the entrance hall, Dís’s eyes fell on the small hobbit nervously shifting in front of her. His curly hair barely fell to his chin and was only adorned with a single braid. Squinting, she recognized the bead her brother had cherished their entire lives; he swore it would be for his One.
“So this is the hobbit.”
The statement met with multiple flinches, and the hobbit himself stepped back. Around them bustling dwarves led her caravan out of the way. There were no words of welcome, just business, as if this was an ordinary day, not something worthy of a grand speech. It was hard to fathom.
“Princess Dís,” Balin bowed low, “we’re relieved you have arrived safely. Welcome home.”
“Thank you,” she let her disappointment show through, “this is not quite what I had in mind.” Apparently her words were enough to make the hobbit grow a backbone.
“Perhaps you should have waited until we had a chance to repair then, instead of just deciding to cross Middle Earth on your own,” the hobbit retorted. Dís chose to ignore the muffled chuckles from Dwalin and raised her eyebrow.
“May I present His Highness, Prince Consort Bilbo Baggins,” Balin hurriedly stepped in, “Bilbo, this is Her Highness, Princess Dís, daughter of Thrain, son of Thror of the line of Durin.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” judging by his tone, Bilbo was biting back a few choice words.
The staring match they engaged in seemed to make everyone uncomfortable, but this early on Dís was not willing to give in to the hobbit her brother had married. As the last of their line with a sound mind, it was her job to weigh his worthiness. She couldn’t just trust that Fíli, Kíli, and Thorin weren’t being led astray by a pretty face.
“I would like to see my family,” Dís didn’t take her eyes off the hobbit, taking in his flinch and the way he hunched in on himself.
“Of course Princess,” Balin darted a look at Bilbo, but no response came from him. It was an awkward silence before Balin finally sighed, “I would be happy to show you.”
“Thank you, Balin, but I’m sure Bilbo could take me. They’re in the stone room, correct?” It was hard to imagine him getting any smaller, but Bilbo seemed to shrink even further into himself.
“I…I’m sure Balin can take you,” Bilbo stuttered.
“I really would rather—”
“I’m sorry, I have to make sure everything is running smoothly,” Bilbo practically ran out the room. Dís watched him go with a frown before turning to look at Balin.
“He’s certainly not what I expected. I assumed he would want to see his husband. Does he even spend any time with them? Not the best fit for a dwarf.” It was hard to keep the skepticism out of her voice, and impossible to keep the surprise off her face when Dwalin basically spit at her.
“Bilbo is twice the dwarf you’ve ever met! He’s single handedly keeping this mountain together, with no help from you, I might add,” Dwalin didn’t wait for a response. He spun on his heel and followed Bilbo out of the room.
In shock, Dís turned to Balin, “What has been going on while my brother heals in the stones? I swear I never expected Dwalin to even speak to someone who was not a dwarf.”
“It’s a long story,” Balin sighed.
“Perhaps you’d be willing to tell me while we walk. I do believe it’s time my boys had some family company.”
– – – –
Bilbo was in the kitchen scaring the working dwarves by the time Dwalin found him. The pots and pans were banging into each other, and Bilbo could honestly care less. The noise matched his level of frustration.
“I cannot believe her!” Bilbo yelled. Dwarves around him ducked for cover and Bilbo felt extremely satisfied that at least someone was afraid of him.
“She wasn’t at her best,” Dwalin admitted. Bilbo frowned at him, not feeling the least bit reassured.
“That doesn’t excuse her! She just came in here like she owned the entire mountain! She hasn’t had anything to do with it! She’s been a real problem actually! I cannot believe her, just acting like that. Like I did something wrong!”
Dwalin just let him fume, which was actually a relief. Bilbo had been holding in a lot of anger. This whole situation was not like he had expected. He was here, taking care of a mountain, and missing his husband. He slammed another pot down.
“I never wanted this!”
“We know,” Bombur whispered. During Bilbo’s small breakdown he’d crept over to stand next to Dwalin. The sadness on his face made Bilbo feel guilty. He may feel frustrated, but he didn’t regret staying here, with his friends.
“I’m sorry,” Bilbo put the pots in his hands down. He leaned forward on the counter and rested his weight on his hands. “I just, I wanted her to like me, and I don’t think she does.”
“Well, she’s always been like that,” Dwalin moved to snoop around the kitchen. With the influx of food the cooks always had a treat or two in the oven. Bilbo watched as he found a tray of cookies and snagged one. Through a mouthful of crumbs, Dwalin added, “She’s probably just missing her family.”
“And I’m not?” Bilbo didn’t try to keep the hurt out of his voice. It had been one of the few things he’d been looking forward to about having Dís here: family. He didn’t like the way she’d arrived, the thoughtlessness actions she’d taken, but there was nothing he could do about that. So he’d been focusing on the fact that her arrival meant he’d have family again. He didn’t think she would just want to focus on what she’d lost. He sighed. It didn’t seem fair.
“We know you miss them,” Bombur patted Bilbo on the back. “Just give her time, and after she sees them I’m sure it’ll get better.”
Bilbo nodded. He could only hope. It wasn’t like things could get much worse.
– – – –
Three Weeks Later
Things got worse.
It seemed like everything Bilbo was doing was wrong in Dís’s eyes, and it really hurt. Eventually, Bilbo couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as her. He took to spending as much time in his garden as possible without neglecting his other duties, and his efforts paid off.
Slowly, before his eyes, the child he’d planted almost a month ago was sprouting. He knew it would be months before the harvest would be ready, but just seeing the small seedling reaching for the sky helped calm him down.
“I really wish your father was here,” Bilbo whispered to the child. Every hobbit swore the baby could hear while still in the ground, and he wasn’t one for ignoring tradition. “He would have loved to see you.”
It was a shame the seedling couldn’t speak back; it would be nice to hear someone saying something positive.
With a sigh, Bilbo turned to face Dwalin. They’d had an unspoken agreement that he was supposed to remain undisturbed in the garden. “Yes?”
“Balin called together the council, apparently the first rotation of dwarves has come back from Dale.”
Bilbo nodded and stood up. He’d been expecting them back all day. They were supposed to report back to the council on how the rebuilding was going and how the men had treated them while in Dale. Though the dwarves had been in contact the entire time they were gone, it was still a good idea to check in with them on their return and make sure everything did go well.
“I’ll be right there,” Dwalin nodded and left the terrace. Bilbo leaned down and slowly stroked one of the newly formed leaves, “I’ll see you soon. I love you.”
He nodded to Dwalin as he left the room and held back another sigh as the dwarf fell into step behind him. Though he’d planned to make sure there was a permanent guard for Bilbo, Dwalin still hadn’t gotten around to it. That might have been Bilbo’s fault, he’d demanded he have some say when it came to his shadow.
Their arrival in the council room went mostly unnoticed; everyone settling in and preparing for the discussion that would follow. Balin smiled at him and gestured to the seat next to him. “How are you?”
“I’m fine, just spending some time in the garden,” Bilbo shrugged, “it’s been nice to have some quiet time.”
“I never really understood gardening,” Tor said, drawing everyone’s attention, “it never seemed to have much purpose.”
“Well, the food that’s grown is certainly helpful,” Bilbo pointed out, “but really, it’s a family bonding activity. Everyone wants to be around the faunts as they grow, and it’s good for the child as well.”
“We prefer to bond with training,” Umoni said.
“That seems a little dangerous.”
“The dwarflings begins with easy weapons, made of wood,” Nelack’s sarcasm was a blunt object in the room, much like the dwarf himself.
“But surely while they’re growing you take more care?”
Before anyone could say anything a guard leaned into the room, “The dwarves from Dale are here.”
“Alright,” Balin straightened his papers, “send them in.”
A group of dwarves entered, dirty, but well fed and smiling. It released a knot in Bilbo’s chest that had formed. He’d known this was their only option, but so much could have gone wrong.
“Who will speak for you?” Thosgrat asked.
“I will,” a shorter than normal dwarf stepped forward, his brown braids were dusted with dirt and his mustache twitched as he spoke.
“Talin son of Valin. I believe you were placed in charge while in Dale?”
“Yes, sir,” Talin nodded.
“And can you describe your experience?”
“They were very kind,” Talin’s face was open and sincere. “Upon our arrival the men provided us with a mostly in tact building. We had a roof over our heads, and every morning they sent us off with breakfast. We were brought lunch by whatever women remained from watching children or foraging in the woods. Dinner was provided when we finished.”
“What were you able to accomplish?”
“We finished repairing the main meeting hall, and another large building. The men stayed their with their families while we worked on other buildings. We were able to complete a few homes as well as some of the marketplace. Even if it wasn’t enough, everyone will have shelter for the winter.”
“I’m glad to hear that. The next group will continue your work.” Talin nodded and the group of dwarves exited. “It seems this was a very profitable venture for both groups.”
Nelack snorted at Balin’s words, “We could have accomplished much more without losing valuable help to the men of Dale.”
“I don’t think so,” Bilbo disagreed. “We needed the food they were able to provide and they needed our help with rebuilding.”
“We probably would have been fine,” Nelack countered.
“I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t have been, and there was the problem of the caravans arriving. Do you really think we could have supported them as well?”
“I’m sure we would have found a way.”
“This was the way! There are children who came with the caravans,” it was hard to believe that some of the dwarves were this dense, “there was no reason for them to go hungry!”
“Your Highness, no one is disagreeing with the results of your plan,” Dundna responded. From the slight jolt of the table and Nelack’s corresponding yelp, someone may have kicked him. “Thank you for your good work.”
“Yes, we are extremely grateful we’ve had full bellies these past weeks,” Girmit said. “Thank you.”
A round of “thank you” echoed them, and Bilbo worked to keep the blush from his face. He was honestly flattered at their words and grateful that they appreciated his hard work.
“I was glad to help,” he said honestly, “I would do anything for my people.”
“You are a true dwarf of Erebor,” Umoni informed him, “Even if you do garden.”
The meeting wrapped up quickly after that, a list for the second wave of dwarves to be sent to Dale was drawn up. At the beginning, Bilbo had written a list of volunteers, and then double checked as the time drew closer for the first group to return.
When Bilbo walked out the door it was with a little bounce in his step that had been notably absent since the battle. Dwalin, of course, felt the urge to comment on it.
“You seem happier than usual today.”
“Just thinking,” Dwalin followed Bilbo back to his chambers.
“It’s been a good day,” Bilbo admitted. “The dwarves are back, the kitchen is running smoothly, and my garden is flourishing.”
“Your garden…” Dwalin didn’t say anything for a moment. The pause seemed to stretch into an infinite space between them.
“My garden?” Bilbo couldn’t help but end the silence.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time in there.”
“Well…yes,” Bilbo looked both ways in the hall, making sure no one was around, “I guess I’ve really just wanted to spend as much time as possible with the last gift Thorin gave me.”
“It’s starting to look a little strange,” the gruff comment took Bilbo off guard. He hadn’t realized he’d been that obvious. Well, maybe he had, but he’d hoped no one would say anything about it.
“It’s not a bad thing.”
“Well, it’s making the company nervous,” Dwalin said.
“I promise, it’s really nothing to worry about,” Dwalin didn’t look like he was buying it, so Bilbo sighed and pushed open the doors to his room. If this were practically anyone else, he wouldn’t be doing this yet, but Dwalin had been a constant presence as Bilbo got his feet under him, and he had backed every move Bilbo had made. He was, perhaps, the closest friend Bilbo had in the mountain.
Bilbo walked out to the terrace and waved at Dwalin. The dwarf followed him slowly, obviously uncomfortable navigating the garden. Bilbo stopped in front of his seedling.
It was a small mound, barely noticeable if you didn’t know what you were looking for, and if you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t see the slight movement. Bilbo settled down next to it. He patted the ground next to him.
Dwalin made a face, but sat down. “So what am I doing here?”
“Dwalin,” Bilbo took a deep breath, “I’d like to introduce you to the child of Thorin.” He gently stroked the small leaf. A glance at Dwalin showed the dwarf was completely gobsmacked, and Bilbo held in a giggle.
“Well, it’s not ready yet, but in four months time, the child will be ready to emerge from the ground.”
His words didn’t seem to reassure Dwalin, “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“What? Why wouldn’t I be okay?”
“You’re talking about a child. In the ground,” Dwalin’s words were spoken slowly as if he believed Bilbo was not in control of his own mind.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Bilbo let his confidence show through, hoping it would reassure his friend, “I know men do things differently, and from conversations with Thorin I know that extends to dwarves as well, but hobbits grow their children in the ground.”
It was as if by invoking Thorin’s name, which he’d rarely spoken since the battle, Dwalin could suddenly believe Bilbo, “Thorin’s child?”
“Yes,” Bilbo said, happy to have someone else share his good news. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
“It’s a miracle,” the awe in Dwalin’s face was amusingly sweet, even as he gently reached out and placed his hand on the child’s bed.
Bilbo let himself lay back on the dirt, safe beside his friend as they both enjoyed the cool night air and the promise of another in the line of Durin.
– – – –