Pairings: Bilbo/Thorin, Bofur/Nori, Dwalin/Ori

Characters: Everyone in The Company

Summary: Dwarves have One Love in their lives and when they find them they fall into the Sanâzyungurs for several days. This means a lot of things to dwarves: unconditional love, a blessing from Mahal, a sense of becoming whole; but mostly what it means is an obscene amount of sex. Sadly, not all dwarves recognize their One right away. Sometimes that realization needs to be triggered by strife or jealousy or some unfortunate predicament.

Like say, getting attacked by goblins, then orcs, then almost falling off a cliff to your death from a burning tree. Yeah. That should do it.


This is a fill for a prompt on the Hobbit Kink Meme which I intended to be a quick and simple marathon porn fic as the anon requested. But honestly, I found the prompt so entertaining that I went a little overboard and 10,000 words later... I tried to fill it up with porn, really I did, but world building IS my personal porn so there you have it.

The anon requested Nori/Bofur for the fic and I've tried to give them a larger portion of the narrative but I'm a sucker for an ensemble cast (and Bilbo is such a good straight man to play off of) so we've got quite a bit of everybody else in this too.

This fic was beta'ed by the wonderful Re_White, who is ever patient with me and always has useful advice.

P.S. Forget the long underwear, it doesn't exist for this fic.

The Heat after the Fire

The company is halfway down the Carrock, a crisp breeze nipping at their cheeks and tangling their hair, when Bilbo realizes his mistake. His worry over Thorin's injuries had been so pressing and his elation shortly after so consuming that he had not seen, nor even thought to look for, the signs of distress and pain which now become so obvious as the company makes their way down the roughly hewn steps of the great rock. Bilbo peers through his windswept curls at his friends, dismayed and more than a little ashamed.

Beside him Bofur's breathing is too deep and too loud to be anything but an attempt to hold back his discomfort. His eyes are lidded and he half pulls himself along the stone wall.

Ahead of him Bilbo can see Dwalin has lent his shoulder to his king for balance even as he himself limps at every other step. Bilbo can't help the twinge of worry in his chest. Dwalin's pain must be intense for the warrior to show it so openly and Thorin's own injuries can only be worse than Bilbo had first supposed for their stubborn leader to accept aid.

Balin looks back from further ahead and Bilbo relaxes very slightly, a small measure of guilt leaving him. Surely it can't be too bad, he thinks, if there is wry amusement mixed with the worry on the old dwarf's face.

Bofur's breath turns sharp and he stumbles on the next step. Bilbo places a hand on his arm to steady him and looks up into his friend's face. There is the barest shimmer of sweat on his brow and his cheeks have gone rose red above his mustache.

"Are you quite all right, Bofur?" He asks because it's just not done to make assumptions about another's health in polite conversation.

"Oh, certainly," Bofur replies with a slight wince. "I'll be right as breezes through air-shafts as soon as we get on the ground."

"Perhaps you should rest," Bilbo suggests, "Just for a moment."

"No." Is the immediate reply. Bofur makes an abortive movement as though about to look over his shoulder. "No, that would not be a good idea."

Bilbo turns to find what his friend had been looking to see and thinks Oh, oh dear me. How could he possibly have missed it? Bofur's clear anxiety, his flush and his sweating as they journeyed down the Carrock should have been clues enough for Bilbo to realize his friend's unfortunate predicament.

"Really, now, you should have told me," He chastises, not unkindly, and takes up Bofur's hand to pat in a comforting manner. "Not to worry, my friend. We'll soon have you back on the ground and all settled."

"Oh, uh..." Bofur stutters and clears his throat, "you've noticed then?"

"Well, certainly. Though I do apologize for not realizing it sooner. But you really could have said something instead of trying to deal with it all on your own." Bilbo admonishes and adds, a little quieter, "You can trust me, you know."

"Now, Bilbo, don't be like that." Bofur grins, a little strained, "Of course I trust you. It's just- you're a hobbit and this is a very dwarvish thing. I didn't want to cause you distress."

"Don't be silly, it's hardly distressing." He pauses, thinks. But really, if Bofur is a little embarrassed over his predicament than Bilbo ought to be a little embarrassed along with him. It's only polite. "If it makes you feel any better I'm dreadfully afraid of water."

"I- what?"

"Water, my dear. All hobbits are, well, most hobbits anyway," Bilbo amends, recalling his more Tookish cousins. "We drown so easily you see. So don't be embarrassed of your fear of heights, I expect it's quite natural after living under mountains."

There follows a high hysterical laughter. "Heights? I may have been just a lad when Smaug drove us out but I spent every day of my youth playing on the great hanging causeways of Erebor." Bofur scoffs, "No, Master hobbit, I do not fear heights."

Bilbo huffs, feeling quite flustered. "Then whatever on earth is the matter?"

"You'll find out soon enough, Master Baggins," Gloin's voice rumbles from behind them, deeply amused. "When we reach the ground."

Bilbo turns to look over his shoulder and sees the rest of the company making their way down. It's very possibly worse in the back of the line than in the front. He can see Fili and Kili over Gloin's head, poor Ori propped up between them as they exchange cheeky grins over his tousled hair. Behind Oin and Bifur is Dori with his arm wrapped around Nori's shoulders, holding him tight against his side. Nori's face looks thunderous as he trips and stumbles down the stairs, his movement so ungainly in fact that even Dori, whom Bilbo has seen beat Dwalin quite soundly at wrestling, is having trouble keeping him upright.

Bilbo turns back to Bofur, patting his hand absently as he worries over the situation. "I think we really ought," he says clearly so everyone can hear, "if only for a moment, to take a little break. Just to catch our breath."

"No!" The dwarves shout around him, so loud that birds take fright in the forest below and fly away south.

"Snow?" Oin calls out as Bilbo's ears burn, "What do you mean, snow? It's still summer!"

"Don't worry, my dear Bilbo," Gandalf looks back at him from the very front of their miserable, little procession, "We've nearly reached the bottom." The wizard twitches his lips in a tiny grin and turns to face forward again.

They walk the rest of the way down in silence.

When they reach the ground Bofur props himself up with his mattock, loosens his scarf and just breathes.

His skin is too tight across his body and his blood is burning its way through his veins. Every hair is standing on end, sending prickles along his scalp and down his arms and legs and the feel of his clothes rubbing against his skin is driving him mad. And the pulling, like a hook embedded deep beneath his ribs, is agony.

It shouldn't feel this bad, he thinks, no one ever talks about it feeling bad. They talk about bliss (bliss filling you up so full it's pouring out your ears) and the great wonder of becoming whole for the first time in your measly life. There's no mention of pain as they go on and on about Mahal's blessing to His favored children and the judiciously placed hands of fate.

Fate has the worst possible timing.

"Oh, dear." He hears their burglar whisper just beside him. "Bofur, perhaps you should sit down for a bit."

"Let's just leave him be, Mister Bilbo."

Bofur looks up from resting his head on his crossed hands to see his brother gently leading the little hobbit away, ignoring Bilbo's quiet protests. Across the small clearing at the base of the Carrock where they have stopped he can see Dwalin standing with his arms crossed and his head tipped back, staring death at the sky. Their king stands beside him, taking deep calming breathes as he watches Gloin and Oin gathering branches and sticks for a fire.

Bofur slows his own breathing to match. It doesn't really help.

Ori whines as the princes help him to sit on a low bolder. His eyes are squeezed shut and he trembles so much the brothers have to prop him up by his small shacking shoulders.

"Gandalf, can't you do anything for them?" Bilbo pipes up, "Some kind of healing magic or the like?"

Deep breathes, Bofur tells himself, keep breathing and don't look.

"I'm sorry, my friend, but what ails them is something I simply cannot help with." Gandalf replies, patting the flustered hobbit on his curly head.

He can't stop it, can't fight it at all. The hook is pulling at his eyes now, too (why doesn't anyone ever mention these things?) and so he turns his gaze to the older brothers 'Ri. Dori holds tight to Nori's arms, his feet planted and his knuckles white. Nori's clothes are mussed, his hair windswept and his eyes... his eyes burn from across the clearing and Bofur can't look away.

Someone clears their throat, Balin maybe.

"Anyone not busy," Thorin says carefully, voice deep and rough, "will search about for anything edible. Balin, see what supplies we've managed to keep. Gloin, leave the fire to Oin and see about getting Bombur enough water for soup." Their king pauses, and Bofur can see Nori begin to shake in his brother's grip. "The rest of you... do what you must."

The words have barely been spoken when a great bellow like a rock slide in deep caverns rends the air. From the corner of his eye Bofur can see the princes dive to either side as they're rushed head on, leaving little Ori to sway and tip forward. Dori is briefly distracted but manages to pull away in time, releasing his brother just as Nori begins to struggle and reach for his knives.

The rest of the clearing becomes nothing but a swirl of colors, noticed briefly but ultimately deemed unimportant as Bofur lets his mattock fall to the ground. Through the gathering fog in his mind he can hear a muffled shriek, something small and furry getting the shock of its life perhaps, before Nori is on him.

Momentum propels them backwards until they crash into a tree, managing to stay upright through nothing more than sheer force of will. Bofur can taste blood on his tongue but has no way of knowing if it's his, the bite of Nori's mouth molded to his own has his body filled with lighting.

As if over a long distance he can hear an insistent shrill, as though from an overheated tea kettle, "Not in the clearing, for goodness sake, Nori!"

Their mouths come apart and Bofur groans right down to his toes. He's pulled by his coat, back leaving the bark of the tree and feet nearly leaving the ground until he manages to exert some control over them. He stumbles along behind Nori, out of the clearing, past trees and shrubs. He trips over roots and rocks until he can't take the renewed burning in his veins any longer and slams Nori against a convenient pine.

Bofur pushes against him until there's no air between them, not so much kissing as trying to bury himself inside the other dwarf's mouth. Nori's tongue is warm and slick as it pushes past his teeth, Bofur's breath coming in harsh gasps of air until his head has come down enough that he can close his lips and suck.

A hot hand palms his thigh and hikes it up around Nori's waist, bracing them both as he rolls their hips together. They're wearing too many clothes, far too many clothes but they haven't got enough of themselves left to work out how to get out of them. Bofur can't feel Nori the way he wants but his body is solid and wide against his own and that's enough for Bofur to tip his head back and pant for air. Teeth nip at the hair on his chin, make their way down his jaw until Nori reaches the junction of his neck and bites.

Bofur's vision bleeds to white, his whole body seizes and spasms, burning hot like blue forge-fire.

His soul goes still.

Ori is falling apart. He can't stop shaking, cold and hot by turns and his chest is heavy but in the wrong way. As though if he were to trip he'd fall along the ground instead of towards it, faster and faster until he shatters on the slopes of the Misty Mountains.

He's falling apart until he's just falling, a great roar in his ears (whether from his pounding heart or the wind he isn't sure), falling and then rising. Rising up, up, up until he's floating in his own body. The ice and burn subside leaving him pleasantly warm, so he drifts for a while.

When he remembers what his eyes are and how to open them he sees trees passing by through the thick black hair pressed against his face. He blinks slowly. He's wrapped around someone, or held up against their body, or perhaps both, as they march through the woods. His hands dig into hair and fur and he tries to focus through the sweet haze in his head.

There's an ax in front of his eyes. There are runes carved into it.

They read 'Grasper'.

"Mister Dwalin," Ori smiles. In a moment his back is pressed into a bed of moss, held down by Dwalin's great weight and those are the last coherent words he says for a good long while.

"Well!" Dori huffs, settling himself rather fussily next to Balin.

"Certainly." The old dwarf replies as he searches his pockets.

"This is..." Dori's face grows steadily redder as he chokes on his words, unable to finish his thought.

"Indeed." Balin nods approvingly, pulling out his pipe.

"Will someone please," Bilbo squeaks from his hiding place behind Gandalf's legs, "explain what on earth is going on?"

"It's the Heat, Master Burglar!" Gloin answers, digging through Bomber's pack for a pot. "Best make yourself comfy, we'll be stuck here for a coupla' days at least."

"Excuse me," Dori says, glaring at Gloin's back, "but there are youngsters present!"

"No there's not." Fili scoffs, picking himself up off the ground.

"That's right," Kili adds, tipping his head back where he's laying, limbs all akimbo, "Dwalin's hauled him off into the woods!"

"That's enough out of you two," Balin says, pulling Dori back down to sit on their shared log.

"Don't worry, Bilbo, for dwarves this is all rather, well... normal, as these things go." Gandalf looks a bit bemused by his own words but sets his staff aside and pulls out his pipe all the same.

"Normal?" Bilbo blurts, aghast. "Nori drove Bofur into a tree and split his lip! And Dwalin roared like a, like... like an angry bull! And charged poor Ori, like, like -"

"An angry bull?" Kili supplies as his brother hauls him upright and dusts off his coat, snickering.

Bilbo ignores them. "We should go after them, poor Ori -"

"Will be just fine, Master Baggins." Balin sighs, lighting his pipe with a twig from the fire. He glances at Dori's pinched expression and offers it up, patting his back as Dori takes his first few puffs.

"He was just a bit strained, is all," Gloin adds, "They felt it, didn't they? From the top of that great bloody rock an' all the way down. Get's a bit much to take, puttin' it off like that," He grins to himself, eyes going misty, "Why, I remember when I met my lovely wife -"

"Mahal, no!" Kili cries, covering his ears and burying his face in Fili's shoulder.

"I've changed my mind," his brother shouts, trying to drown out Gloin's story, "We're much too young to hear any of this!"

"Atkût!" Thorin bellows, long and loud. The Company goes very still as Thorin, seated at the edge of the clearing with his shoulders hunched and his hands fisted on his knees, stares his nephews down. Bilbo finds himself back behind the wizard's legs. He's become accustomed to Thorin's intense gaze over time and Bilbo had thought it no longer affected him, but he finds he can't quite meet it now, nor can he draw his eyes away. The princes have gone pale and shift uneasily under Thorin's glare, drawing closer together. They are afraid, Bilbo realizes, though he doesn't know why.

He shudders.

Gandalf's hand strays towards his staff.

"Attack? From where?" Oin asks, looking this way and that from his place tending the fire.

The tension breaks. Thorin leans back and closes his eyes, leaving the princes to sag in relief. Gloin takes his brother by the arm and leads him off to fill Bombur's pot with water, quietly arguing about the imaginary attack and which direction it isn't coming from.

A hand comes to rest on his shoulder unexpectedly and Bilbo starts in surprise. Gandalf is smiling down at him in a reassuring sort of way and Bilbo allows himself to be led over to the fire.

"Boys, head down to the river and see about catching some fish for supper, hmm?" Balin watches the princes leave, casting glances over their shoulders, until they disappear in the shadows of the trees. He turns back, lips quirking up in a wry smile as Bilbo sits on a log across from the old dwarf. Dori continues to puff on Balin's pipe with the singular focus of someone trying and failing to avoid all sensory input aside from the taste of pipeweed.

"Well, now, where were we?" Balin asks, clasping his hands and rubbing them together.

"Something-" Bilbo's voice cracks and he stops to swallow, clears his throat and starts again, "Something about a heat?"

"Ah, yes!" Balin spares Thorin a brief glance before leaning forward, voice pitched low, "Have you ever heard, Master Hobbit, that dwarves only love once?"

Bofur is just coming back into himself when he's pushed, tipping over into a pile of soft ferns. It isn't long before Nori appears in his vision, straddling his hips and hovering over him. He stares for longer than Bofur is really comfortable with.

"You couldn't be more enticing." He states, unbuckling Bofur's belt and casting it aside.

"It's the hat, isn't it? It does wonders for my figure."

"You're figure doesn't need improvement." Nori grunts, unlacing Bofur's breaches with more dexterity than should really be allowed after orgasm. He tugs them down with Bofur's underthings, over his growing erection and along his legs. "I'll never get enough of you – your skin, your mouth, your cock and even-" a biting kiss to his hip, "-your stupid-" to his thigh, "-hat."

Bofur laughs as Nori's beard tickles at the sensitive skin of his inner thigh. "Flatterer, but you only say it because you've a sudden and unquenchable lust for my arse."

"I've been waiting for this from the moment you tried to steal those sausages at Bag End." Nori remarks, as if he isn't turning Bofur's world upside down with his words, throwing the miner's shoes casually over his shoulder, "Mahal, the way you smiled."

And that rips the breath right out of him, leaves him gasping as Nori pulls his braids loose with gentle fingers and mouths at his neck. In the interest of his own stuttering heart Bofur says the first thing that comes to mind.

"Your eyebrows are sexy."

Nori's fingers grasp and twist in his hair and his breath comes hot against Bofur's ear. "I will fuck you until you cannot speak."

Bofur takes a moment to consider this.

"Sounds like a challenge to me."

Ori is unraveling from the inside out. He's bursting at the seams, all his stitching snapped and frayed. Dwalin is big and hot and so very solid all around him, inside of him and Ori feels much too small to contain him. Great arms like banded iron dig under him, wrap around and lift him up, holding him still, pressed forehead to forehead with his One.

"Breathe, just breathe," Dwalin's words burst against his mouth and Ori pulls them in, gasping on warm air. "Easy, easy – breathe with me. Just like that."

Ori breathes. He takes in the scent of leather and iron and sweat, black ink – a permanent stain on his finger tips. Runs those fingers down Dwalin's face, threading them through his beard and then down to his broad chest. Curls his fingers, deft and sure from hours upon hours of calligraphy practice, into the short bristly coils there and presses his palm against heated skin.

"Omhîl tûmûbmênu khi?" He says softly, reverently, "Sankrushelmâ?"

"Omhîl, Sanzeuh," Dwalin moans, gripping at Ori's back and hips, rocking them into a steady rhythm, "Mizimel! Atamanel! Zâyungi mênu akhùthuzhur."

Ori gasps, arches his back and curls his toes as some feeling inside him bursts. It races up and down his spine, straight through his limbs as Dwalin thrusts up into him. It fills him up like sweet elvish wine, bright and sharp and rich and he aches to have more of it. One hand tightens in Dwalin's chest hair, the other grasping desperately at one massive shoulder. Ori digs his feet into the soft loam of the forest floor, pushing and pulling in counter measure to the warrior holding him firmly in place.

Dwalin groans and quickens the pace, buries his face beneath Ori's jaw.

The scribe tips his head back and screams.

"So..." Bilbo stutters, face burning red as Dori tries to smother himself with his own two hands, Balin's pipe safely back in his own, "That was true love then?"

"Erm, no." Balin coughs, "That was sex."

"Love of its own kind," Bombur states with authority, gathering up a small burlap sack and standing to stretch.

"Yes, certainly." Balin concedes, following Bombur with his eyes as the other dwarf makes his way towards the only section of the woods not currently... occupied. "Where are you off to, may I ask?"

"Got to have more than fish to put in the pot, don't we?" He answers, gesturing back towards the river. "Anyway, Bifur'll represent the family. He did well by me and he'll do well by my brother."

From the top of the largest bolder in the clearing comes the slick 'snick' of a very sharp blade being unsheathed. Bifur examines it from several angles as though looking for any imperfections. Bilbo can't imagine that there are any, even from his vantage point the blade glints and gleams in the last rays of the day's sun. Satisfied, Bifur takes up a piece of discarded fire wood, a short branch about the length of his forearm with an unfortunate knob on the end, and begins to carefully strip away the bark.

"Weeeelp, wish me luck," Bombur says, swinging the bag over his shoulder, "for the sake of your bellies and for mine."

Bilbo clears his throat as Bombur heads off into the woods. The steady 'plat, plat' as strips of bark fall to the ground is strangely disconcerting. "What did he mean exactly, that Bifur would-"

"Represent the family?" Gandalf supplies, blowing a smoke ring and watching it drift off towards Thorin's brooding figure. "It's for the negotiations, a very important part of dwarf courting."

"Yes, it is." Balin says, darting a rather leery look Gandalf's way. He turns back to Bilbo and smiles, the twinkle back in his eye. "You see, the heat can be quite inconvenient as I was saying before the-"

"Yes," Bilbo stumbles over his words in his desperation to skip past the earlier interruption. "Yes, before that, the hehm, before yes... you were saying?"

Gandalf coughs on his pipe smoke beside him. It sounds suspiciously like a chuckle.

Bilbo ignores him.

"Quite inconvenient," Balin continues, sounding amused. "When dwarves go into heat, you see, they ignore everything: smithing, mining, all their duties and family obligations, even food and drink. It's up to the kin involved to make arrangements, to take up the iron left to cool as it were." Balin nods to himself, taps out the dregs of his pipe weed against the sloping toe of his boot. "And as the families are already putting themselves to such trouble, and as the dwarves involved are of no use to anyone while they are-"

"Indisposed!" Dori gasps, surfacing from his own personal world of disgrace.

"Indisposed," Balin allows, giving Dori a sympathetic smile. "Representatives from each family come together to negotiate the terms of the engagement. Try to get something of use out of the whole lamentable business."

"But wait," Bilbo interrupts, puzzled. "They've found their Ones, haven't they?" He glances between the two dwarves, looking for confirmation. "I'd understand if it were just a normal engagement but there's no going back from that surely?"

"Oh, no." Balin says, looking rather astonished by the question. "Your One is your One, until the end of time. There's no... no..." The old dwarf seems lost for words for the first time since Bilbo has met him. "There's no undoing it, it cannot be done." Balin shivers, "Disturbing thought, really."

"But what if the families don't reach an agreement," Bilbo asks after a brief hesitation. "What happens then?"

"Shameful!" Dori says, shaking his head in disgust. "Simply shameful!"

"I'm sorry, I-"

"Not you, Master Baggins," Balin says, leaning over to pat the hobbit's hand, "It would be considered a great dishonor on both families if they couldn't agree on terms before the heat was over," Balin leans back and folds his hands over his lap, "Speaking of, we should get started. There are two arrangements that need to be made and not a lot of time to do both."

"Yes, of course." Dori says, pulling himself together.

"Nê nadadizu mahachrâchi zai imbharûraz nadaduh, furkhhu mulah charachuri." Bifur says, voice like a roll of thunder as he stares Dori down from his perch. There's a swift flick of his blade, a sharp crack and a resounding thud as the knob of the stick hits the ground.

Dori sputters in indignation and turns wide eyes on the other dwarf. Balin lays a hand on his shoulder and looks them over with an indulgent smile.

"I believe we share similar sentiments all around, Master Bifur." He says and squeezes just so.

Gloin bursts into the clearing, Oin trailing behind with a pot of sloshing water. He looks around the group and claps his hands together in delight. "Oh, good! We've made it back in time for the death threats," he gives Bilbo a grin and a wink, "this's my favorite part."

Dori shudders, utterly miserable.

Bofur digs his fingers into the soil as Nori breaches him with one of his own. The air is cool against his heated skin and the earth is soft under his knees. The last time he was so bare to the world was in Rivendell. He doesn't remember feeling quite so naked then, playing games and getting muck and grime all over the fancy elvish fountain. Though now he wonders, was Nori watching him? Did he wash himself and wait, thinking the bond he anticipated would take hold there, in the middle of Rivendell where they stood naked together? Was he frustrated when it didn't? Did he doubt?

"Not for a second." Nori says, pushing a second finger past the tight ring of muscle.

"Was I sayin' all that out loud?" Bofur asks, sheepish and more than a bit breathless.

"You have a tendency to babble." Nori chuckles and leans down to kiss along Bofur's spine. His fingers are still for a few moments as Bofur adjusts, relaxing around the intrusion. They twist slowly, rubbing gently against his insides. Bofur arches his back against Nori's mouth and spreads his legs wider as he groans.

"That's good," Nori says, pulling back with one last kiss just above Bofur's arse. "You open up so easy, you're nearly there."

"May I – Ah! – ask," Bofur shudders as Nori buries his fingers deeper, "Where you got that oil from?"

For several moments the only thing Bofur hears is the slide of slick fingers methodically working him open and his own panting breath.


There's no response. Nori pauses briefly in his ministrations then pulls back just enough to rub the pads of his fingers against Bofur's rim, his calluses catching and tugging in a way that sends shocks of pleasure bursting up Bofur's spine. He hangs his head, gasping at the sensation. It's not enough, however, to keep him distracted from the rising tide of worry.

"Did you dig it out o' my brother's pack?" He asks, voice straining as Nori pushes his fingers back in all at once.

"Hmmm," Nori mumbles, "No."

"Then where did you-" Bofur gasps as Nori's fingers curl inside him, "Can't – hah! – can't think of anyone who'd –"

Bofur stills, his breath leaving in a gust as the horror of realization steals over him.

"Nori, you didn't!" Bofur rocks forward, off the probing fingers and turns to gape at the other dwarf.

Nori's grin is positively gleeful as he holds up a delicate silver decanter, all gentle curves and swirling lines. "Nicked it off the elves." He says and waggles his eyebrows.

Air bursts from Bofur's lungs, sending his mustache dancing on his relieved sigh.

"Thought I'd swiped it off the goblins, eh?" Nori laughs, pouring a generous amount of the oil into his palm. The decanter is tossed aside, far enough not to be a hindrance but close enough not to loose sight of it.

"Yes!" Bofur says, watches Nori grab hold of his own cock and stroke slow and firm. Heat pools back in his belly and he has to will himself to look up to the other dwarf's face. "You utter orc!"

It comes out twice as ragged and half as annoyed as he'd like. Nori smirks at him. He looks more roguish than usual, with most of his clothes gone and his hair a wild cascade down his back. His beard is mostly in order and Bofur would like to change that, maybe tangle his fingers in and pull, if he didn't know just how long it is. His eyes wander down Nori's chest, over the tufts and curls of hair and down to his weeping cock. He wouldn't want to obscure that.

"See something you want?" Nori chuckles, rubs his thumb up over the swollen head and hisses.

"You seem to be doing fine on your own," Bofur says, but reaches out to run his hand down Nori's taut stomach. It jumps at his touch, the hairs tickling at his palm. "That wasn't very nice, you know."

"He was petting you."

Bofur looks up, startled. Nori is watching him, eyes very slightly narrowed. Bofur blinks, confused.


Bofur hears the smack of Nori's hand on his wrist, feels the grasp and pull, the twist and tug as he's whirled around and hauled against Nori's chest. His arms are pinned against his stomach, keeping him upright as he shifts off balance. His knees feel scraped but the sting is a faint shadow compared to the hot pulse of Nori's cock against his arse. It slides easily against his skin, covered in oil, slips between his cheeks like struts against the walls of a mine shaft, the head bumping against his lower back. He whimpers and tries to push himself more firmly against Nori's body.

"The hobbit." It comes as a purr against the skin of his neck, a deep rumble rising up through muscle and bone. An image of Bilbo's concerned and slightly befuddled face, nose wrinkled and curls a mess atop his head, springs to the forefront of Bofur's mind.

It's instantly sobering.

"What? Bilbo!" Bofur laughs, knocking his head against Nori's temple. He looks less than amused. "He wasn't petting me, he was just worried, is all."

"He had his hands all over you." Nori says, giving Bofur's rump a firm squeeze.

"Now that is the Heat Haze," Bofur rolls his eyes, "Are you going to be this possessive after all this is over, do you think?"

"I – maybe?" Nori says, sounding a little more like himself. "It depends."

"Oh, on what?" Bofur asks, turning to look Nori in the eye.

Nori quirks one braided brow. "On if you like it." He says, then takes Bofur's cock in hand an pulls.

"Oh! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh..." Bofur gasps, incoherent as his body tries to curl around itself. He manages to free one of his arms, grasps at Nori's thigh, then his arm, leaving scratches behind as he tries to gain leverage to thrust up into Nori's clever fingers. A hot tongue leaves trails of fire up his neck, ripping a moan from his throat as Bofur tips his head back. He brings his free hand up and buries it in Nori's thick mane of hair, gripping tight. Wanting more, demanding more.

"Mine," Nori growls, releasing Bofur's cock to seize hold of his hips. It sends sparks up his spine, turns his insides to molten gold as callused fingers squeeze against his flesh. He's dimly surprised to find he's been waiting all his life to hear that one word. "Mine and only mine."

Strong hands lift him and he feels Nori nudge his legs further open with his knees. Bofur's breath is coming fast, his head spinning as he tries to focus, but the hot, thick intrusion at his entrance shatters his thoughts.

"Nori, please." Is all he can manage.

He pushes down as Nori pulls, wanting, needing. They come together with the slapping of skin and Bofur keens as stars burst in front of his eyes.

It takes time for the rush of blood in his ears to calm enough for him to hear Nori's murmurs, hot breath against his shoulder, as soothing as the hands running up and down his sides.

"Agrîfi nekhush," Nori says, punctuating his words with the press of chapped lips against Bofur's fever hot skin. "Kanon zirikha mahachrâch zaimênu. Agrîfi nekhush, Sanzeuh."

Bofur had thought he was molten gold before – that had been a passing fancy. Now he burns. His veins are filled with shining mithril, his bones are white hot iron and he trembles in Nori's comforting hold. Hand clutching desperately at Nori's hair, his head falls back against his shoulder, mouth gaping open in silent ecstasy.


The word unmakes him. This is what they spoke of, then. Mahal's Gift.

Bofur will never curse fate again.

"You've a deft hand with my hammer, lad."

Ori collapses back onto the ground in a fit of giggles. He's lightheaded and his lips are hot and swollen. His skin tingles from his fingers to his toes but he doesn't want it soothed. He wants to feel like this all the rest of his days, dizzy and aflame and laughing until he's gasping for breath.

Dwalin cradles one of his hands in his open palm and kisses the thin skin of his wrist.

"You think that funny, Âzyungel?" He says, dragging his beard along Ori's arm, nipping at his skin.

"I did grow up with Nori, you know," Ori shivers as Dwalin sucks at the curve of his inner elbow. "I've heard all those lines before."

Dwalin stills.

"Tell me their names," He growls deep in his throat. "I'll rip their arms off."

"Not like that!" Ori hurries to reassure. Dwalin's face is hard, his eyes boring into him like cold steel. "His friends liked to say things where Dori could overhear. They liked to rile him up. They never said anything to me!"

Dwalin gives him a long look and for a moment Ori fears Dwalin may not believe him, that he thinks the worst of him. His heart skips and races like a wild hare. But Dwalin's eyes soon return to their normal cast, soft like morning fog, and he goes back to trailing kisses up Ori's arm, each one gentle and warm. The tight cords of anxiety loosen around his chest and his breath comes easily again.

"You will tell me," Dwalin instructs, voice thick and low as he moves from Ori's shoulder to lay a firm, wet kiss along his clavicle. "if anyone dares to address you crudely. I will have the uznâl grovel at your feet and beg forgiveness."

"None but you shall speak to me of hammers and mine shafts," Ori sighs, not quite teasing. "I promise."

"Kanon, Sanzeuh." Dwalin grunts, nuzzling against his sternum. "I have honor yet."

"But you just -"

"That's not the same. I was bein' serious."

"I don't understand..."

"My warhammer, lad." Dwalin says, knocking their foreheads together lightly. "You're a natural at it."

Ori stares blankly at the warrior for a few moments, mind empty of any understanding. Then he blushes scarlet.

"But I only ever killed anything by accident!"

Dwalin laughs and laughs.

"Zirikh nu gunudibukhûz, makal mabarmamach, ra gem heden hednui shakarshulk zigildughû."

"That's absurd!" Dori sputters.

"Very fair, I think." Gloin comments, stoking the fire.

"But he doesn't even like herring!"

Bombur snorts as he ladles stew into Bilbo's bowl. Fili and Kili had brought back quite the catch, having caught nine trout between them. Together with Bomber's wild onions, mushrooms and various mystery tubers, they'd managed to assemble a serviceable supper. More than serviceable, Bilbo thinks as he breathes in the aroma.

The sun has set, leaving only the barest glow behind the mountains. Stars have begun to appear across the sky, faint flashes of light across an expanse as dark and murky as Bywater pool. The Carrock is a black shadow above them and the firelight dances across the trunks and branches of the towering trees circling the clearing. Bilbo thinks he should feel small and vulnerable, like a mouse caught in a bare patch of dirt but he finds the whole effect, trees and rock and sky curling over and around him, rather comforting.

"And who ever heard of a copper chamber pot?" Dori sniffs as Bilbo passes, bowl carefully balanced. "It'll go all green inside! Porcelain is what you want; I can do a nice Durin's Key along the rim."

"Tsahif inbarnungûng."

"Yes, fine! Daffodils, if you really must."

Thorin sits on a weathered stump at the edge of their little glade, arms resting on his knees, face hidden behind a cascade of dark hair. He hasn't moved since his outburst earlier and Bilbo is beginning to worry. Oin had spoken to the king not long after he'd returned but had swiftly been turned away. The healer had seated himself at the fire and merely shrugged and shaken his head when Gloin had mumbled a question in his ear. Bilbo hadn't inquired, not wanting to impose, and he hadn't gone to Thorin directly so as not to disturb his rest. Still, it was getting on in the evening and a nice, warm bowl of fish stew was sure to be welcome.

Bilbo takes a deep breath (there's nothing to be nervous about, surely) and takes a step outside the ring of firelight.

"Bilbo!" Comes Fili's sudden joyful shout, directly in Bilbo's ear. "Helping to serve as well, I see."

"Well, actually er – that is, not precisely..." Bilbo stammers, only just managing to keep his stew from spilling.

The prince wraps one heavy arm around Bilbo's shoulders and herds him back into the warmth and glow of the fire. "Bomburs got me doing it too." He confides, lifting his own bowl as evidence. Bilbo feels sorry for whomever ends up with it, a fair bit of stew has slopped over the rim to drip down the side. Fili is rather inattentive with anything aside from his blades, it seems.

"Yes, well, I was just going to-" Bilbo begins, but his protests are ultimately in vain. They have arrived at Fili's intended destination, a log on the other side of the clearing. Kili grins up at them with a mouth full of fish and masticated tuber. Oin snores quietly beside him, listing slightly as he dozes.

"Brought you a little something to eat, nadadith." Fili says, cheerily.

"But I-" Kili is cut off by the bowl shoved under his nose.

"Seconds!" Fili insists, snatching the near empty bowl from his brother's hand. "I'll just take this and... here, lets trade!" he continues, making off with Bilbo's stew even as the poor hobbit tries to slip away.


The older dwarf wakes with a snort and a swift kick to the ankle.

"Got some supper for you." It's more of an order than an offer, the way Fili pushes the bowl against Oin's chest.

"Thank'ee, lad." Oin says, blinking owlishly at the bits of vegetable floating in the steaming broth. "But I've already eaten."

"No you haven't, that was yesterday."

Fili plunks himself down onto the log, shifting his weight back and forth until he's comfortable. When he's satisfied he hums to himself in contentment. Beside him Kili lets out a low note of dismay and wipes his hand on his trousers.

Sighing, Bilbo looks at the barren dish in his hands. It seems the company's archer doesn't like mushrooms much, as that's all that's left inside.

He turns his gaze back to Fili, who's staring up at him with an expression of guileless satisfaction.

On the other side of camp, negotiations continue.

("Uggûni sulgurûfmâ."

"I resent the implication! Nori is reformed, I'll have you know!"

"I'm afraid the silverware the goblins pulled from his pockets implies otherwise."


Bilbo narrows his eyes as Fili's expression grows steadily more ingratiating.

"You're skiving off, aren't you?"

"What?" Fili yelps, "Me? Never!"

"Of course not." Bilbo says, giving the prince a hard look. "I'll just go fill this up again, shall I?" He says, indicating the bowl in his hands and turns back towards the fire. Several steps away his ears twitch back and he nods to himself, satisfied.

"Why'd you do that?" Kili whispers, too low for dwarven ears to hear.

"What are you, dense?" Fili hisses back, "Give that here, I'm hungry."

Bomber has taken leave of the cook-pot to fill his own belly, so Bilbo ladles the stew himself. Whatever mischief Fili is up to, Bilbo has decided to ignore it, for the moment at least. And as Kili doesn't seem to be in on it yet, he can't imagine that it'll be much to worry about. Nothing too calamitous anyway.

Bilbo glances up. Thorin's face is still hidden by his hair, the fire adding flashes of red and orange like sunlight on turbulent waters. He looks too small with his shoulders curled in and his head hanging, small and weary.

Bilbo fishes a few extra pieces of flaky meat from the pot.

He crosses the camp again, moving swiftly and quietly through the raucous bustle of the dwarves ("I won't agree to that! You can't ask me to agree to that!", "Balil omhîla.", "Now, gentlemen...", "Aach, nadad!"), ducking flailing arms and watching out for improvised projectiles. As Bilbo gets closer to the king he can tell that his approach has been noticed. Thorin begins to straighten, shoulders pulling back and head rising, his hair parting just enough that Bilbo can make out one shadowed eye.

It's as though a vice has clinched around Bilbo's chest, halting the passage of air through his lungs. His lips part as his throat spasms, desperate for breath. His joints seize and pop as he slows to a halt, every hair standing on end, from the tops of his feet all the way up to his head.

He feels cornered in wide open space.

"Wait, Bilbo, I forgot to-"

A hand grasps his shoulder and jerks him backwards.

"Kili!" Bilbo hears Balin shout as they both crash to the ground, bowl of stew flying, contents sent up in a shower around their heads.

"Sorry!" Kili pants, hauling Bilbo up by his armpits. Gandalf appears in a whirl of gray fabric, blocking most of Bilbo's sight. The air suddenly feels very crowded with the wizard towering over him, staff in hand, and dwarves rushing in from all sides.

"Goodness, it's got all over his coat and vest." Dori frets, patting at Bilbo's chest with a spare strip of cloth.

Gloin extracts him from Kili's hold and turns him around, brushing down his back. "Got in yer curls too, lad." He chuckles, overly loud and a little shrill to Bilbo's sensitive ears. "Be a right pain, getting' those little green bits out."

From over Gandalf's shoulder Bilbo can hear Bifur's gravelly tones.

"Binganûg togûma! Ma nisherûb! Khuzdûnzu mahmazarzu bên Khuzdûn'ala mahmazarzu, bijûb khidu!"

"Yes, I think a bath in the river is just the thing." Gandalf says, voice rising above the clamor. Bilbo finds himself being manhandled towards the woods, the wizard's hand coming to rest on the apex of his back as he's pushed out in front. "I'll wash your things while you bathe, my friend. We'll soon have you nicely cleaned up."

"Yes, I – yes." Bilbo murmurs, not entirely present as they step over roots and fallen branches. "That sounds lovely, I'm sure..."

The clearing is oddly muted behind him.

Bofur's thighs ache and burn. Sweat drips down his back, slicking his hair to his neck and shoulders. His mouth has gone dry from panting and the muscles in his arms have started to tremble from the exertion. A slight breeze licks across his overheated skin and he moans as it tickles the hair on his chest.

All are hardly worth noticing when compared to the thick cock inside of him. It spreads him wide, bores into him like an auger through sediment. He lifts himself up, high enough that only the head remains, then lowers himself slowly down, reveling in the feeling of being filled. He lifts again, only a little, before spearing himself, hard and fast. Again and again he lifts and descends, the slip-slide of well oiled flesh producing the kind of wet sounds that would be unappealing in any other circumstance. He lets out a whimper when he hits that spot, that marvelous spot that sends fireworks up to burst behind his eyes. He's found the perfect angle now. His head lolls back as blood pounds through his ears, nearly – but not quite – drowning out the nonsense spilling from Nori's mouth.

The completely ridiculous nonsense.

"I'll write sonnets to your thighs. And your mouth," Nori proclaims, brushing his fingers along Bofur's legs but otherwise doing nothing to help things along. "Your mouth is as red and plump as dewberries."

Bofur doesn't bother to comment. Nori is obviously enjoying himself very much.

"If only I'd known back in my days of youthful innocence," Bofur snorts at that, "that every drunken fling, all those playful dalliances were only a preparation for this, ubshâguh!" Nori punctuates this statement with an impish roll of his hips. "I would have experimented more, tried the red lantern special."

Bofur gives him a long, blank look (lips twitching so briefly it's hardly noticeable) then goes back to the business of prostrate stimulation.

"Your arse is exquisite." Nori continues, "Plump and round and delectable. Malel! Hubmel! Âzyungal, you are glorious."

"Hubmel?" Bofur wheezes and tries to hide his grin. "What exactly are you trying to say about me?"

"Only that you have the finest arse in all of Middle-Earth." Nori winks, giving Bofur's rump a firm slap.

"And you said I ramble." Bofur rolls his eyes and leans back against Nori's legs. "Oh! Right there..."

"When we retake Erebor," Nori says, paying Bofur no mind at all. "I shall carve you a home from the very rock of the mountain -"

"You've never mined a day in your life." Bofur scoffs.

"- and I'll fill it with the softest furs and brightest jewels -"

"All stolen."

"- and there I shall keep you," Nori concludes, crossing his arms behind his head and smirking, "to welcome me home and warm my cock."

Bofur chokes on his laughter, nearly inhaling his own mustache. "Your cock?" He gasps, looking down at Nori's smug expression and blinking back tears. "What about your bed?"

"Phsssssshh!" Nori shrugs, dismissing the very notion. "I'm a habitual criminal, what's a bed ever done for me, except provide temporary concealment? Half the time I've never even had one." He brings his hands out from behind his head and takes a firm hold of Bofur's hips, kneading his flesh. "But my cock? My cock has always been there for me. Very faithful, definitely deserving of a cockwarmer."

Bofur squeezes his eyes tightly shut and covers his mouth very firmly with his fist but it's not enough to keep his laughter in. It erupts out of him, great whooping laughter straight from his core. His belly shakes as he convulses with it, tears streaming down his face.

"Mahal abbanhu!" Nori yelps, jerking up. He hauls Bofur in, arms around his back, and rolls them over. Bucking his hips wildly, he comes with a grunt.

Bofur chuckles, running his fingers through Nori's hair as he catches his breath. It doesn't take long for Nori to stir, pulling out with as much finesse as he can manage. He crawls up Bofur's body, leaving kisses as he passes, hot presses of his open mouth. When they are face to face Nori takes Bofur's erection in hand and sets a careful pace, slow and steady.

"You are far from my first," He says, breath ghosting across Bofur's lips. Their eyes lock together and he can hardly breathe, Nori's eyes shine so bright. "No, I can't build you a home and when we do have one, much of what I bring to furnish it will likely be stolen, from sheer force of habit if nothing else. My manners are terrible and I'm probably more trouble than I'm worth. But I promise you this," Nori whispers and kisses him soft and chaste, "I will make you laugh every day of your life."

Bofur comes with a sigh.

Dwalin watches Ori as he comes, holds him steady as his body is wracked with tremors. Even in the faint moonlight slipping through the leaves his One is beautiful. Pale skin glowing, a light dusting of hair like the halo of a naked flame. Ori is a vision laying beneath him. His trembling subsides as he comes down, breath coming softly as his eyes flutter open.

"Abanel," He says, hands coming up to frame Dwalin's face. "Don't stop. Please, I want you to."

Dwalin moans, cradles the back of Ori's head as he brings them nose to nose. They share the same air, hot against their faces as he rocks against Ori's hip. Sweat and come have left them slick and sticky in turns, the contrasting sensations set his head spinning as the turgid length of his cock slips and catches against Ori's skin. His rhythm breaks and stutters, gasping on half formed endearments, he buries his face against the soft column of Ori's neck. Gentle hands run up and down his back, soothing and coaxing, pulling him closer as a leg comes up around his hip, giving Ori an anchor as his body arcs up.

When Dwalin can think straight again, he finds he's become a boneless heap on top of his lover. With some difficulty he pulls himself up onto his elbows. Ori sighs and smiles up at him.

"Didn't mean to crush you, lad." He says and clears his throat, abashed.

"No, it's fine." Ori is quick to reply. He tightens his arms around Dwalin's thick neck, trying to bring him back down but only succeeds in lifting himself up, head and shoulders leaving the mossy forest floor. Dwalin smiles, a little smug, when Ori lets out a huff and sinks back to the ground. "I'm not so fragile as you seem to think. Really. I like it... please."

Dwalin finds he can't deny him, brown eyes wide and imploring, so he settles himself carefully, spreading his weight across Ori's frame and very slowly relaxes, head pillowed just under Ori's chin.

"Like this, Mizimel?" He asks.

"Yes," Ori sighs, breath tickling across Dwalin's scalp. "This is quite nice."

Dwalin has to agree. Despite the mess cooling between them, the feel of Ori's warmth beneath him, his rising and falling chest and the sound of his heart beating, are all soothing in the dark of the night. They stay like that awhile, breathing slowing to match and skin cooling, until Ori stirs.

"Did you –" Ori starts, then falters. "Did – no, never mind."

"You can ask me anything, Sanzeuh." Dwalin says, emphasizing his statement with a kiss to the dip of Ori's throat.

"Did you ever think it might be me?" Ori whispers, fingers tangling in Dwalin's hair. "That I could be your One?"

Ori is still beneath him, seemingly calm, but Dwalin isn't fooled. He can feel Ori's shuttered breaths, can hear the quickened skip and beat of his pulse. No answer Dwalin gives to any other question in his life will ever be as important as this one. There is no bearing on his honor, or on the line of his forefathers, or even on his oath to his king – but if he answers this one question wrongly all those things will be ground to dust under the weight of his shame. If he answers wrongly, Ori will still cherish and adore him, will welcome him in his heart and home and bed, he will allow nothing to come between them and will follow him to the very Halls of Mandos.

But Dwalin will never be able to make him happy again.

So, knowing where his strengths are and are not, he simply tells the truth.

"Not once."

A tranquil breeze stirs the leaves above them.


Dwalin wraps his arms around Ori's shoulders and head, cradles him under the expanse of his own broad body. He comes easily and without protest, as malleable as the finest gold. Dwalin bumps his nose against Ori's cheek, up along his temple and back into his hair, breathing in his scent, until his lips rest against the shell of his ear.

"Not once since I first saw you," He says, heart a throbbing ache deep in his chest. "have I ever thought I could deserve the love of one such as you."

Bilbo shivers in his little nest near the dying cinders of the fire. Even with the extra blanket (courtesy of a repentant Kili) the chill of the night nips through his shirt, raising gooseflesh along his arms and back. Around him the dwarves snore and snuffle and wheeze in a midnight refrain, sleep never seems to allude them regardless of circumstance. Bilbo might resent them any other night but it's not just the cold and noise that keeps him awake now.

He looks past the glowing embers, through the gap of his vest and coat propped up on sticks to dry, to the very edge of the clearing. Thorin remains seated on his stump, a cold bowl of stew forgotten at his feet. It had been there when Bilbo and Gandalf returned from the river, untouched then as it is now. The cold doesn't seem to touch him, sitting still as the stone of the Carrock, without cloak or blanket to warm him and much too far from the dying fire to feel its tepid heat.

Bilbo shifts, pulling his blankets tighter around his shoulders and curling in on himself.

There is something the dwarves aren't telling him, something to do with Thorin, and it disturbs him. If the king were injured, Oin would have treated him. If there was a threat, the company would have faced it head on; dwarves are not ones to ignore confrontation, Bilbo has learned. It's as if a fog of uncertainty has settled about their heads and that is nearly as distressing as all the rest combined.


Bilbo blinks and turns his gaze towards the whispered voice. Fili and Kili sit on watch with their backs to him, not far from the fire, huddled together under a blanket. Kili rests his chin on his brother's broad shoulder, his eyes wide and pleading.

"Not now." Fili replies, voice weary.

"If not now, then when?" Kili asks, flicks his eyes about the camp in a quick assessment. "Everyone is sleeping, if we're quiet, no one will wake."

"You," Fili turns to face his brother, smile small and strained. "are never quiet."

"I can be!" Kili protests. He winces and lowers his voice. "Please. Someone has to, Fee. Please."

Fili sighs, looks past Kili's dark head to their uncle's darker figure. For long moments he stays just like that, expression grim and distant. Then he takes a deep breath, taps his forehead to his brother's and relents. "All right, but don't expect too much from him. He's not himself."

Kili nods and pulls Fili up with him as he stands, blanket dropping to the ground. Fili lets him lead as they make their way around and over the sleeping bodies of the company. Bilbo hardly dares to breathe as the brothers draw closer to their king. Thorin doesn't react as they come to stand just in front of him. They wait to be acknowledged, silence stretching out uncomfortably long. They exchange a look between them and then Kili takes a step forward.

"Uncle." He speaks softly, resting a tentative hand on Thorin's ridged shoulder.

"Go away." Thorin croaks, dislodging his nephew's touch with a sharp jerk.

Fili's voice is low and steady as he takes the lead, pulling Kili back with a hand on his elbow. "Sanâzyungurs agrîfizu, Idad."

Bilbo feels his budding hope shrivel and fade. His one chance to learn what's wrong and they've switched to dwarvish.

"Ma katabizùrmênu!" Thorin hisses. He sounds on edge and at the very end of his patience.

"Ki ma binbizhrûizu." Fili replies, crossing his arms. It almost sounds like a reprimand.

Thorin surges to his feet, leather coat snapping. The princes block Bilbo's view and so he cannot see the king's face but it must be truly fierce to send Fili and Kili stumbling back like fauntlings faced with an angry cat.

"Ma zatâbhyûrizu ra ukhumî." Fili flinches at Thorin's words and drops his gaze as his uncle turns and marches towards the woods.

"Where are you going?" Kili asks, sounding startled and far too young.

"Into the forest, now leave me be." Thorin snaps, not slowing.

Bilbo gnaws at his lip.

"Alone?" Fili asks, not lifting his head.

"Do not question me in this." Thorin responds, almost gently.

"Ni i sanzeizu!" Kili shouts, forgetting his earlier assurances.

"Atkût omhùlz!" Thorin turns, slamming his fist into the hard, fractured bark of an old conifer.

"Idad!" It's a plaintive cry, sad and small, but it only seems to enrage Thorin further.

"Ma mahachrâchi zai hi gagin!" He roars and spins. Thorin tramples through the underbrush not bothering to push aside thorny shrubs or hanging branches. His passage can be heard even after his form is swallowed by the dark of the forest.

Bilbo's breath comes quick and shallow as the sound fades into the night.

Kili turns towards his brother, eyes wet and desperate.

"That was exceptionally ill-advised." Balin sighs, resigned to the foolishness of youth. Bilbo lays very still as the old dwarf passes him, skirting the blackened remains of the fire and coming to stand with the princes. The camp is devoid of the sounds of sleep and is now filled with a wary silence. It seems the entire company is now awake, if they were ever asleep in the first place.

"We had to try." Fili says, though he doesn't sound convinced of it himself.

"There's nothing to be done, laddy." Balin shakes his head, laying a comforting hand on Fili's shoulder. The prince runs a hand through his golden hair, pulling it back off his face. He looks regretful as Balin continues. "You will come to understand, in time, that there are some circumstances from which there is no easy recourse. It is a burden of leadership, one Thorin understands well."

"I don't understand," Kili interjects, stance shifting restlessly. "The Sanâzyungurs is a good thing, a happy thing! Why does he reject it?"

"It isn't always, nadadith."


"Listen to yer brother, youngen." Gloin grunts, levering himself up into a seated position. "Tis a bad turn, right enough, and yer uncle is doin' the only thing he can." He turns to look into the woods, stroking his great bushy beard. "I've puzzled over it all evenin' but there's not else to do. Tis tragic, but necessary."

"But Bilbo-" Kili starts and Bilbo freezes, thinking he's been caught eavesdropping.

"Melekûn ma shândi." Bifur rumbles, slicing his hand through the air in a dismissive gesture. "Gurûdi."

"Bifur's right, Kili." Dori sends Bifur a dubious look, as if to say 'this time, at least' and goes on, "It's perfectly normal for us, we're dwarves! But you can't ask poor Bilbo to face that, it'd be terribly cruel."

"Perhaps Bilbo should decide that." said hobbit remarks, a little amazed that he's spoken it out load.

He sits up, hiking his blankets up to his chin and looks around the camp. He is the center of attention now, the company are staring at him with expressions ranging from the shock on Dori's face to the look of discerning wryness on Balin's. Bilbo looks them each in the eye and says with all the authority he can muster, "I think that it's time someone explained just what, exactly, is going on here."

"Melhekh zirikhi mahabrûfzu."

Gloin sputters into his beard as Dori's face burns crimson. Balin coughs into his hand.

"To put it bluntly," He says, avoiding Bilbo's eye. "Quite bluntly."

"Oh, for-" Bilbo rolls his eyes. "Would someone please – I don't speak dwarvish, you know!"

"Thank Mahal, for that." Dori rasps, fanning his face with both hands.

"Thorin is in Heat." Comes Gandalf's booming voice. He rises from his chosen bed, a bare patch of earth between two great roots of a towering oak, and all focus shifts to follow him. He fixes his gaze on Bilbo, blue eyes familiar but stern. "And you, my dear Bilbo, are his One."

Bilbo feels that his heart must have stopped. There is an aching rend where it should be pulsing in his chest. He takes in a deep breath, then another and is suddenly very glad he isn't standing.

"Why-" His voice breaks so he stops, takes a breath and swallows the lump in his throat. "Why didn't he – why didn't anyone-"

"He said nothing for precisely the same reason we kept our silence," Gandalf says, voice full of sympathy, "to keep you from harm."

Bilbo trembles, suddenly – overwhelmingly – angry. He looks up at the wizard, eyes stinging. "Do not treat me like a faunt, I am eighteen years past my majority. I can make these decisions for myself, thank you so much!"

"And what would you have done had you known?" Gandalf replies, drawing himself up, up, tall as the trees. But Bilbo will not be cowed, he meets Gandalf's glower with one of his own, backed by a Baggins' prideful resolve. It seems to have little effect. "Would you have given yourself over, if only to keep him from pain? I fear your heart is too soft and too kind to have denied him in his need."

"The choice should have been mine!" Bilbo cries, coming to his feet. His eyes dart from face to face, throat tight, "My body is my own! As is my life and most especially my heart." He turns back to Gandalf, angry tears streaming down his face. "You had no right to decide for me, it should have been my choice!"

"But it had to be an informed one," Bomber's gentle tone breaks through Bilbo's fervor, drawing his attention. The large dwarf sits comfortably on his bedroll, relaxed and seemingly unaffected by the argument. He smiles up at Bilbo, without sympathy or pity, just smiling as he always does, wrinkles around his eyes. "And it wouldn't have been. Not when all this started."

A hand comes to rest on his shoulder and Bilbo turns to look into Balin's warm, brown eyes.

"You remember what we've talked about this evening, hmm?" He says, tipping his head and lifting one bushy brow. Bilbo nods and Balin smiles. "And you've had time to think on it since then. I imagine," Balin says, giving Bilbo a knowing look, "that you've done little else for the past few hours, hmm?"

"Yes – yes, I have." Bilbo blushes, recalling some of the more lurid aspects of their cultural exchange. He keeps his gaze steady regardless, he won't be found wanting, not now.

"Then you have a decision to make," Balin says, resting both hands on Bilbo's shoulders, giving them a firm squeeze. "Choose to go after him or choose to stay here, it's entirely up to you, my lad."

Bilbo swallows, stomach roiling and heart in his throat. "I can't leave him-"

"That's not what I asked," Balin cuts him off, voice sharp as flint. "You have a choice we dwarves almost never have, you can choose to turn aside, you can reject the bond."

"I don't want to." Bilbo whispers. The butterflies in his belly subside, his heart eases in his chest and for the first time since Thorin embraced him on top of the Carrock he feels perfectly calm. He squares his shoulders and says again, louder and with more certainty, "I don't want to. I'll go to him, I'm ready."

"Are you sure?" Gandalf asks, leaning down so they are face to face. "He could hurt you very easily, though he wouldn't mean to."

"I shall be perfectly fine." Bilbo replies, patting his pants pocket absently. "He won't hurt me, honestly he won't."

Gandalf searches his face, unblinking. He seems appeased by whatever he finds as he straightens with an ambiguous murmur.

"Right." Bilbo says, turning to look out into the woods. He takes a deep breath and starts walking, holding his blankets up so they don't drag in the dirt. "Right."

"Ay! Bilbo!"

He turns back, blanket swirling around his legs. The company is watching him, the last fading light of the fire casting highlights and shadows across their faces, metal beads and adornments twinkling like stars. Bilbo's reminded quite suddenly of his parlor back in Hobbiton, filled with strange dwarves (not so strange anymore) and a mournful harmony. It's so familiar he finds himself blinking back tears.

"You'll be needing this." Oin calls and tosses something small and round across the space between them.

Bilbo reaches out, fumbles the object from hand to hand and only manages to keep hold of it by crushing it to his chest. He glances down at it.

It's a small jar sealed with wax.

"It's one o' my ointments." The healer supplies, nodding to himself. "Good for the skin."

"Oh," Bilbo says, at a loss. "Thank you...?"

Oin gives him a truly disturbing wink. "Good for other things too." He says, grinning.

"Oh! Right." Bilbo turns, ignoring the dwarvish laughter behind him, he advances into the woods with as much dignity as one can when half dressed and clutching a jar of lubricant like a life line.


Nori wakes to the insistent stabbing of morning light in his eyes. He blinks rapidly and rolls over, dislodging Bofur's head from his shoulder in the process. His One huffs in his sleep and borrows deeper into the bed of moss beneath them. Nori runs his fingers over Bofur's tangled hair and kisses his temple.

For the first time in what feels like ages, with the hot itch under his skin gone and the thundering pulse of blood in his ears absent, he can think clear as quartz. His first thought is that the two of them are horribly, disgustingly filthy. Their bodies are painted in streaks of flaking dirt and crusted come, bits of leaves and twigs have woven themselves into their hair and Nori's beard is a snarl of green fern and pine needles. A small, black beetle twiddles its antennae at him from the curl of one unraveling braid.

Nori's second thought is that he's starving.

So he flicks the beetle from his beard and spends the next several minutes looking for his pants.

When he finds them (caught on a branch half way up a twisted birch) he spends several more just trying to get them on. There are aches in places he didn't know could ache and his muscles are sore and stiff. His shirt is easier but only just. He locates Bofur's clothes and the rest of his own, stomping his feet into his boots when he finds them. He puts the bare necessities aside, just enough so that Dori won't have a conniption when they arrive back at camp. The rest he rolls up in their coats along with his blades and Bofur's hat.

When he goes to shake Bofur awake he gets a swat upside his head for his trouble.


"Use your words, sanzeuh." Nori mutters, rubbing at his temple.

"Can't." Bofur protests, lips twitching up into a smirk. "You fucked 'em right out of me."

"Ah ha ha." Nori says, rolling his eyes. He leans down and plants a kiss on Bofur's mouth, nipping at his lips. "You need to get dressed so we can head back to camp and eat."

"Not sure I can manage that on my own." Bofur sighs and struggles upright with a grunt and a wince.

"Well, I got you out of your clothes," Nori says, lending Bofur his arm to lean against, "I think I can help get you back into them."

It's easier said than done, it turns out. Bofur is in worse shape than Nori, he has bruises circling his hips and running down his thighs and nearly falls when he tries to bend down to put on his pants. Nori ends up doing most of the work. He kisses every bruise as he eases Bofur's trousers up his legs and rubs his hands over his back and shoulders before he works Bofur's shirt over his head. He lets Bofur hang off his shoulders as he works his feet into his boots, one at a time.

When they're done Bofur groans into Nori's ear. "I really don't think I can walk."

Nori runs a hand up and down his spine. "Don't worry yourself, I'll handle it."

He props Bofur against a nearby tree and gathers up their bundle of clothes, securing it closed with his belt. Walking back he presses it against Bofur's chest and wraps the other dwarf's arms around it. "You hold on to that and leave the rest to me." He says then squats down, takes Bofur's thighs and hips in a firm hold and lifts.

"Hullo, Nori's arse." Bofur says, hanging down Nori's back.

"Enjoy the view." Nori takes a moment to get his bearings, catches sight of the Carrock through the upper most branches to his right and starts a steady pace towards camp. It takes longer than he expects to reach the clearing at the base of the giant rock but when they do the camp is a steady whirl of activity. Gloin has most of the company's packs emptied out on the ground, taking stock of their contents and muttering to himself. He glances up when Nori passes the last of the trees.

"Oi! You've made it back, I see." He grins, looking the pair over as Nori searches the camp for a good spot to settle in. "You missed all the excitement, o' course, but I can tell you the best bits over lunch."

Nori nods, not really paying attention and picks a decent enough log to claim as his own. He bends over, lowering Bofur onto the ground as gently as he can and takes a seat, his legs on either side of Bofur's body. He reaches out and curls his fingers in Bofur's dark hair and starts to work out the knots. Bofur moans and leans his head against Nori's thigh.

"There you are!" Nori doesn't look up as Dori approaches, carrying a large water skin in his hands. "Thought you'd slip in without me noticing, did you?" Nori rolls his eyes. "Goodness, but you reek."

"Thank you, Dori." Bofur says with remarkable sincerity as he accepts the water skin Dori hands him.

"Yes, of course. Welcome to the family, Bofur." Dori smiles indulgently before launching into his next lecture. "Really, Nori, the state of your beard. You'll both need proper baths, after you've eaten and rested up a bit." He adds hurriedly under the force of Nori's glare.

"How'd the negotiations go?" Nori asks, sweet as cream. Bofur pinches him.

Dori purses his lips and closes his eyes. He takes a deep breath, nostrils flaring. "As best as can be expected." He replies when his eye stops twitching. He gives them both a tight smile and asks, "Now, what can I do to help?"

"Some of whatever's cooking would be nice." Nori relents after his stomach rumbles. Dori nods and bustles off towards the other end of camp and the cook pot, from which a delicious aroma has been wafting. Bombur leans over to give his creation a cursory tasting and Nori catches sight of the princes sparring over his back. Kili gives him a cheeky grin, makes a not at all subtle gesture off to his left and gets clobbered from behind.

Nori smirks and lets his eyes roam in that direction. His whole body goes rigid.

Dwalin sits, bare to the waist with little Ori dozing against his chest, all curled up and wrapped in the warrior's furs. Oin kneels behind him, dabbing at Dwalin's back with a cloth in one hand and an open jar of ointment in the other. Nori narrows his eyes and starts to grind his teeth.

"Atamanel, look at me." Bofur says, drawing Nori's attention back, and smiles at him, eyes twinkling. "Now look at my cousin."

Nori's eyes flick up to the large bolder Bofur is pointing at. Bifur lounges on top of it, staring right at him and sharpening a dagger with excessive force. Slowly, like tar bubbling in the sun, he grins.

"Now look back at Dwalin."

Nori does, catching the bigger dwarf's eye.

"Now think very carefully about what your back looks like."

He's very still for a few moments, contemplating the many tunnels and side shafts of his immediate future. Dwalin glances across camp then turns back to Nori and nods, as if to say 'truce?'. Nori, mindful of the raw scrapes across his skin, nods back. 'Truce' he agrees, 'for now'.

"There, see? That wasn't so hard." Bofur says, patting Nori's knee. He sounds far too amused. Nori snorts and gives one hanging lock of his mustache a gentle tug.

Bofur chuckles as Dori returns with two bowls of soup. He looks around as Nori accepts them and grunts in surprise. "Hey now, where's Bilbo got off to?"

"Well – that is... you see," Dori stammers, wringing his hands.

"That was part of the excitement!" Gloin calls, prodding Bifur with one of his axes until the older dwarf gives up and relinquishes the whetstone he'd borrowed from one of Gloin's piles. "We're gonna be here another couple o' days longer, by the way, he and Thorin got a bit of a late start."

"A late start at what?" Bofur asks. Nori thinks he knows, if Dori's expression is anything to go by.

Before anyone can answer, Balin enters the clearing from the river side, trailed closely by the wizard. Gandalf peers around the group of dwarves, spots Nori and Bofur and nods to himself.

"Excellent," He says, leaning on his staff. "Now that all relevant parties are present, we can begin the negotiations." With that he draws himself up, seeming to grow taller and more imposing as clouds blot out the sun and a sudden wind whistles through the trees, sending their branches creaking and twigs snapping. "If your King harms Master Baggins in any way – if he bends one hair on his head, if our hobbit sheds a single tear in distress or pain – I will turn every last one of you into the most horridly unnatural creatures ever to roam the dark depths of this world."

"Oh," Gloin says to Bifur, as one connoisseur to another, "He's good."


I've got a few ideas for a sequel or two for this. But they'll have to stay on the back burner for a while while I work on another fic I'm writing (the first chapter of which has already been posted). This fic is sooooo much longer than I was expecting it to be and, by far, the longest fic I've ever written. I'm quite proud of myself. :D

Words marked with this symbol (*) were constructed by me from existing words in The Dwarrow Scholar's dictionary because no canon word existed for what I wanted. I've broken them down into their parts because I'm a linguistics geek and I love to share. ;)

P.S. Anyone who's got a better grasp on Khuzdul grammer than I do (I'm sure you're out their my geeky darlings) feel free to leave me notes, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Sanâzyungurs* - Dwarf Heat (lit. perfect/true/pure love fire)

Atkût! - Silence!

Omhîl tûmûbmênu khi? - Do you feel it?

Sankrushelmâ?* - Our soul bond? (lit. Our perfect/pure/true bond of bonds)

Omhîl, Sanzeuh* - I do, my One (lit. My perfect/pure/true one)

Mizimel! Atamanel! Zâyungi mênu akhùthuzhur. - Jewel of Jewels! Breath of Breaths! I'll love you for eternity.

Nê nadadizu mahachrâchi zai imbharûraz* nadaduh, furkhhu mulah charachuri. - If your brother hurts my cousin, his life will be painful. (Imbharûr is a word I made up for uncles/aunts and literally means 'lesser parents' – imbhar for singular. The 'az' at the end means 'to originate from'. Together with nadaduh – my brother – the whole thing reads: my brother from lesser parents - or, more simply, my cousin.)

Agrîfi nekhush – I'm sorry (lit. I have sorrow)

Kanon zirikha mahachrâch zaimênu. Agrîfi nekhush, Sanzeuh*. - I never wanted to hurt you. I'm sorry, my One.

Âzyungel – Love of loves

Uznâl – evil doer

Kanon, Sanzeuh*. - Never, my One.

Zirikh nu gunudibukhûz*, makal mabarmamach*, ra gem heden hednui shakarshulk* zigildughû*. - I want two pickaxes, a copper bedpan and three barrels of pickled herring. (Gunudibukhûz – digging hammer. Mabarmamach – bed pan. Shakarshulk – sharp water, acid but in this case, vinegar. Zigildughû – silver-colored fish)

Tsahif inbarnungûng*. - yellow daffodils (horn-flowers)

Nadadith – younger brother

Uggûni sulgurûfmâ*. - He will return everything that's ours. (lit. all our objects)

Shândûba. - Agreed

Balil omhila - I just did.

Aach*, nadad! - Ouch, brother! (Nothing could be found in the dictionary so I looked up words from Arabic and Hebrew; Aach and Aay were the expressions mentioned, so I use those in my fic.)

Binganûg togûma! Ma nisherûb! Khuzdûnzu mahmazarzu bên Khuzdûnuh mahmazarzu, bijûb khidu! - Stay seated! Do not stand! Fight yourself or fight me, choose now!

ubshâguh – My greatest conquest

Malel! - Pleasure of pleasures

Hubmel! - Bottom of bottoms (as in ass/butt/etc)

Âzyungal - Lover

Mahal abbanhu! - Mahal's stones! (essentially God's balls)

Abanel – Stone of Stones

Abanuh – my stone

Sanâzyungurs* agrîfizu, Idad. - You're in Heat, uncle.

Ma katabizùrmênu! - Don't bother me!

Ki ma binbizhrûizu. - You can't avoid it.

Ma zatâbhyûrizu ra ukhumî. - You're foolish and young. (lit. un-wise)

Ni i sanzeizu*! - But he's your One!

Atkût omhùlz! - Be silent!

Idad! - Uncle!

Ma mahachrâchi zai hi gagin! - I will not hurt him again!

Melekûn ma shândi. - A hobbit wouldn't understand.

Gurûdi. - He'd be afraid.

Melhekh zirikhi mahabrûfzu. - The king wants to fuck you.