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Much Ado About Nothing: Chapter 13

Title: Much Ado About Nothing
Rating: T (rating subject to change)
Fandom: Tolkien's Hobbit
Pairing: Thorin Oakenshield/Bilbo Baggins, more to come
Genre: Romance/Adventure/HumorSummary Belladonna Baggins, child of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took, hadn't much taste for Adventure. More's the pity that Adventure had a taste for Belladonna Baggins A what-if fic.
WARNINGS: Liberal application of gender-swap! As in, always-the-other-gender gender-swap! You have been warned! Eventual explicit scenes, liberal application of fibercrafting, comedy of errors



“...Mahal take it - now she’s lost?” The voice was deep, angry, and not too far away, despite the fact that Bilbo felt as if she had cotton-wool in her ears. She found them, thank the Green Lady. The relief made her dizzy, or perhaps it was the headache still pounding in her temples like a dwarf at a forge, and she stopped briefly to lean against a tree, adrenaline starting to ebb from her veins.

“I thought she was with Dori!” Someone else exclaimed.

“Don’t blame me!” Dori protested. Had they really given Dori charge of her as if she were his sister, like Ori was? That would explain the sheer amount of mother-henning she’d been receiving since the revelation of her gender.

“But where did you last see her?” Gandalf, good old Gandalf. She’d adored the old wizard as a child, and despite him dragging her far from the comforts of home, she was quickly rekindling that adoration. It was very similar to how she remembered feeling for her ancient grandfather, Gerontius. He’d always told the best stories. She wondered why she kept sidetracking her own thoughts and stood from her leaning-tree - oooh, not a good move.

“I think I saw him slip away when they first collared us.” That was Nori. Huh. Why would Nori be standing up for her in particular? She’d not done much for the other dwarf, spent far more time with his little sister than with him.

“What happened, exactly? Tell me!” Gandalf sounded as worried as her granda had, the one time she’d accidentally gotten stuck up a tree when the two of them had been “adventuring” in the Tookborough. Bilbo stumbled forward, moving to work the ring from her finger, when Thorin spoke up.

“I’ll tell you what happened.” Thorin sounded angry, but when she looked at him, she could see relief and regret in those stunning blue eyes. “Miss Baggins saw her chance and she took it.” She turned away, his words striking at her heart in a manner that was almost physically painful, and hid herself behind a tree. “She’s thought of nothing but her soft bed and her warm hearth since first she stepped out of her door. And why should she not? She’s gentlefolk, a young female, on the road. We’ll not be seeing our hobbit again. She is long gone.” She was suddenly spitting mad. She wouldn’t abandon the company like that! She cared about them, mostly about Ori, Fíli and Kíli. She almost stomped out from behind her tree once she got the magic trinket stored away.

“No, she isn’t.” She was pretty sure nobody thought she was as mad as she was, given that she was still slightly out of breath.

“Bilbo Baggins, I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in my life,” Gandalf stepped forward, and she almost smiled at him - he was as relieved as granda had been once they’d gotten her out of the tree. She walked forward as well, briefly clasping a beaming Balin on the shoulder, as much for balance as for reassurance.

“Bilbo! We’d given you up!” Kíli looked adorably happy and reassured, as did a quieter Fíli beside her. She smiled at them tiredly. ‘No, Thorin gave me up and you believed him,’ she thought, slightly uncharitably. That wasn’t fair, Fíli and Kíli were young yet, looking to the head of their household for guidance, as they should.

“How did you get past the goblins?” Fíli asked in a wide-eyed way that sharply reminded her of the fact that he was scarcely older than his sister, for all he was quieter and seemed to be more mature.

“How indeed?” That was Dwalin, ever grim, eyeing her sideways. She had no idea what he was attempting to insinuate. She stared at him with a puzzled frown and Gandalf intervened.

“Well, what does it matter? She’s back.” He said, with a finality that reassured her. Thorin wasn’t so quick to forgive.

“It matters. I want to know.” He said, looking between Bilbo and Gandalf. “Why did you come back?”She felt transfixed by his eyes, burning blue and questioning.

“Look, I know you doubt me,” she said, ignoring the flash of regret that crossed those eyes. “And I know you always have. And you’re right, I often think of Bag End.” She said, srugging her good shoulder slightly. “I miss my books, and my armchair, and my garden.” Oh, she’d love to garden right now, sink her fingers and toes into rich black earth and grow. “See, that’s what I’m used to. That’s home.” She said, meeting Thorin’s eyes and ignoring the emotion building up inside her. “And that’s why I came back. Because you don’t have one. A home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back, if I can.” Because these folk deserved a home - how many children were there, living in a place where they had to rely on another’s hospitality? How many were there growing up without proper roots? Roots were important to a growing child, to establish a family.

Thorin was the one to break eye contact, flicking his gaze to the ground, and then back up, eyes suspiciously shiny but face still scowling.

She shifted awkwardly in the heavy, emotional silence. Eyes flicking about the company. The young ones looked about ready to cry.

Distant howls broke the silence - not distant enough for anyone’s comfort. Hands flew to weapons. Bilbo’s heart rate picked back up as the prickle of adrenaline rushed through her body once more.

“Out of the frying pan,” Thorin gritted out, looking resigned.

“And into the fire.” Gandalf finished, looking angry. “Run. Run!” They all obeyed, and Bilbo felt almost relieved. She was good at running. Well. Comparatively. To fighting, anyway. Why was she having such a difficult time focusing?

The sun was dipping below the horizon and the wargs were catching up. One leapt off a boulder and turned toward her, snarling. She scrambled to get her sword out, bullying her left arm into working properly as she held it shakily in front of her with both hands. The tingly numbness was turning slowly to dully-throbbing pain, and her sides were on fire. She managed to get her sword in front of her just in time for the warg to lunge and impale itself. She stared and it fell to the ground, tearing the sword from her hands.

Gandalf shouted about getting into the trees, and she realized they had reached a dead end, a cliff. She scrambled to obey, trying to tug her little blade from the warg’s skull.

It would not come. She frantically looked over her shoulder, and pulled with both hands. It came free with a sound she decided not to think about and she was up the nearest tree in a matter of minutes, propelled by fear and adrenaline.

She stilled in terror, the leader of the orc-pack (because these were not goblins, these creatures still bore the trappings of civilization, and were the more terrifying for it) occupying the front and center. It was a great white being on a huge white beast, which spoke in a foul tongue, and named Thorin. That was almost the most terrifying - everyone knew names had power.

Then the wargs were leaping at the trees, clawing, biting, digging at the roots. Bilbo’s heart was in her throat, as all of them edged higher and bashed what warg-skulls they could.

Their tree was the first to fall, and they leapt to the next, and then the next, taking more and more dwarfs with them in some sort of macabre game of topple-dominoes. They all ended up in the tree at the very edge of the cliff.

They were going to fall. Bilbo clung to her branch in abject terror.

Something smallish and fiery came streaking past her vision to land in the dry autumn brush and ignite. She looked up - Gandalf! He’d contrived to set pinecones alight, and soon they were all flinging fiery pinecones and trying not to burn themselves or set themselves alight.

Neither the wargs nor orcs liked this whole fire business, and soon they were ringed with fire, keeping them at bay.

Keeping them at bay and also making the people in the tree uncomfortably hot.

Just as they were crying triumph, the tree began to fall. Bilbo choked on a whimper and hung on for dear life.

Ori fell.

Bilbo choked on a scream, but the young dwarf caught hold of Dori’s foot - he fell too. Gandalf had his staff down quick enough for Dori to catch it, but everything was suddenly too precarious for Bilbo.

Then Thorin was standing, sword in hand, striding over tree-trunk and through flame.

For what? He would be killed.

Thorin charged the pale orc. The white warg leapt.

Thorin was on the ground, and flame and smoke made it difficult to see. She heard Thorin cry out, and Balin cried out for his king - he could apparently see better through the haze.

She stood, and could see the warg as it picked Thorin up, none-too-kindly, in jaws made for ripping and crushing and the flaying-of-meat-from-bone. Dwalin tried to get up to the trunk, but his branch broke.

Thorin’s sword came down awkwardly but heavily over the warg’s muzzle. It tossed him through the air and he landed, but did not stand.

Another orc dismounted, walking toward the fallen king and drawing a blade.

She thought no more. She would not allow this. This would not happen. Faster than she can even track she is across the tree, across the flame, tackling the orc, who was caught off-guard and went down pretty easily, and stabbing viciously downwards with all her might, her left shoulder grinding ominously. She pulled back and stumbled between the pale orc and Thorin, world tilting dangerously with the quickness of her movement and the pin now making itself known all down her left arm. She waved her sword ineffectually at him, saw him smirk and growl a command to his lackeys, and knew she was going to die. There was no way.

Still she did not back down.

Rescue came as Fíli and Kíli, screaming battle-cries and swinging their swords with far more skill than she. Dwalin was not far behind. She joined the fray, cutting a warg across the muzzle before being thrown onto the head of the white warg.

She was on the ground, the marked prey of this terrifying creature.

She was afraid, but she had made her stand, hopefully cemented her loyalties to the dwarfs. They will not find cause to doubt her again, even if she is dead. Perhaps especially if she is dead.

An earsplitting call fills the smoky air. It almost sounded like a hawk or an eagle, but too loud, too big.

They were eagles.

Not just eagles, they were Eagles, Messengers of the Sky-King. They plucked wargs and orcs from the clifftop, dropping them from the great height. Bilbo hoped they could see well enough that they would not grab any dwarfs. Bilbo grabbed her blade from where she had dropped it and scrambled to Thorin’s side. She patted his cheek gently, and hazy blue eyes opened obediently for her. They were cloudy with pain, but seemed cognizant enough. He raised a hand to her cheek and murmured something she could not hear before falling unconscious again.

An Eagle came and gently lifted him. She stood clear, taking Orcrist and the oakenshield before being rather unceremoniously grabbed herself. Grabbed and dropped. She shrieked, but managed to not stab either herself or the Eagle she landed on with Orcrist’s naked blade.

They flew, which was a new and nerve-wracking experience. She was nearly ill, several times. Flying, it seemed, was not something hobbits, or at least this hobbit, were either fond of or good at. Her disorientation increased hugely, and the dizziness made it difficult to even see. Her thoughts dissolved to a steady mantra of putmedown. She didn’t realize she was chanting it aloud it until one of the dwarfs flew close to her and frowned, calling up to Gandalf.

“The hobbit’s unwell, Gandalf!”

She lost time.

When had the sun risen?

She didn’t register anything else until the Eagle tipped her onto solid ground and she tried to plaster herself to it. A wrinkled hand passed over her brow and the dizziness eased, she could stand up, though shakily.

“I did not know it would take you this way, forgive me,” Gandalf murmured to her and she nodded shakily. Gandalf then rushed to Thorin’s side and did something similar to what he’d done for her. The Dwarf opened his eyes.

“The halfling,” Bilbo froze - his first words, murmured on a wisp of breath, were for her?

“It’s all right,” Gandalf soothed. “Bilbo is here, she’s quite safe.” Dwalin and Kíli helped Thorin up, and all the intensity of those bright blue eyes was suddenly focused on her.

You.” Thorin said. Well. That didn’t sound good. “What were you doing?” He demanded. ‘Saving your life?’ was the cheeky Tookish answer at the tip of her tongue, but Baggins sense held her back. “You nearly got yourself killed!” Bilbo flinched away from him as he walked slowly forward. “Did I not say that you would be a burden? That you would not survive in the wild?” Her shoulders rounded, despite the agony that suddenly lanced through her left one, as she tried to make herself as small as she could. “That you had no place amongst us?” She broke eye contact and bowed her head. ‘Some thanks this is,’ she thought bitterly. “I have never been so wrong in all my life.”

What? surely she’d heard that wrong -

She was suddenly utterly wrapped up in an embrace, one she barely managed to return for shock. She did, though, and felt very small when she couldn’t even meet her hands about his back, when his overlapped across hers. He pulled back and looked her square in the eye.

“I am sorry I doubted you.” He said, very seriously. She blinked, and only managed a nod and some mostly incoherent stuttering. Something about not being a hero or a warrior or even a burglar.

Then Thorin was staring, mouth agape at something over her shoulder, and she turned.

A solitary mountain greeted her eyes, and relief flooded her veins.

Exhaustion hit her like a cartload of bricks. Pain flared across her left arm, and all through her back and ribs. She staggered, lifting a hand to her head as if that would abate the dizziness, the disoriented, sick feeling, and her curls were sticky with tacky dry blood.

“I can’t-” she managed, and fell.

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