Deep in the heart of the Lonely Mountain, the Dwarvish kingdom of Erebor lay thriving. The Battle of Five Armies and the burning of Lake Town were all but forgotten, though peace was returning to the lands. It had been seven long years since Smaug had been slain and the sons of Durin were finally living the lives they had been meant to live. Thorin, great King Under the Mountain, had recovered slowly from his near fatal wounding received in the conflict for his nation, but he was alive and had become a worthy king, beloved by all.

Powerful, benevolent ruler as he was, Thorin found himself growing unhappy. Day by day went by, his people prospering, relationships with Mirkwood strengthening, but it wasn’t enough for him. A large part of his heart was missing, and the longer he spent without his missing piece, the more depressed and frivolous he became.

It was one dark and foreboding day in September when the king was finally confronted. He had been out with Fili and Kili, training out in an abandoned clearing in Dale. They were now at peace, but they had to keep on their toes and in shape lest a band of Orcs attack, or worse…the inevitable impending return of Sauron. Thorin was feeling worst of all this day, as it was another birthday of a special someone that he didn’t get to share in.

“Happy birthday, Bilbo,” he whispered, sitting on the embankment of the Running River. He couldn’t deny it, he was moping. Staring into his reflection solemnly while the two brothers frolicked and misbehaved behind him. Eventually the duo stopped and took notice of their king, their brows furrowing as they exchanged alarmed looks with each other.

“Come now Master Thorin…what has you so blue?” Kili asked, nudging him gently and raising an eyebrow in concern. Thorin wasn’t in the mood.

“Who says I’m blue?” Fili scoffed playfully.

“Well no offence lad but your face does.” This earned him a light slap from his brother, who could tell that this wasn’t the time for fooling around. Thorin simply grumbled and sunk further into his funk, hardly noticing when Kili plopped down beside him and began absentmindedly kicking his feet in the water.

“Master Thorin, you don’t have to tell us, it’s okay. But we’re here for you, you know that, right?” Thorin sighed heavily and finally lifted his tired eyes to his friend, considering whether or not to tell him what had been eating him for so many years.

“I…I miss our burglar.” Both Fili and Kili’s expressions clouded with confusion.

“Burglar? Why on Earth would you miss a…” They said it simultaneously and trailed off, their eyes brightening as realization flooded throughout both of their bodies.

“You miss Bilbo! Why didn’t you say so? I know Hobbiton is far away, but if you really want to bring him back to the kingdom, or at least take leave for a little visit, you certainly can. I mean after all, you’re the king. You can do anything.” Thorin wasn’t so sure. Bilbo had been by his side on what he thought was his deathbed, and when he’d awoken the little Hobbit was already gone. For all Thorin knew, Bilbo might still think he was dead.

“Do you think that would be wise? You’re right, I am king. That makes it my responsibility to be here for this kingdom if and when something were to go wrong, I can’t just be off making year-long journeys to far off places! That’s about six months to get there, six to get back, not mentioning the days I would want to stay and visit. All that over one little Hobbit! I can’t, it’s not fair to our people.” It wasn’t until this long-winded rant ended that Kili and Fili realized that this need to see Bilbo might have a little more to it than just missing and old friend.

“It’s okay to love him,” Kili whispered quietly, locking gentle eyes with his brother from over Thorin’s shoulder. Thorin’s heart nearly stopped in his chest and he paled, turning to stare incredulously at his nephew.

“Excuse me?” Kili and Fili were both a little startled by the anger that flared up in their uncle and they each took I step back.

“I j-just meant…” Thorin cut him off by pushing him into the river and springing to his feet, leaving Fili to fish his brother out of the water while he stormed off toward his castle.

Meanwhile, back in the Shire Bilbo wasn’t doing so great himself. He’d never really recovered from watching Thorin die, especially since he never gathered the courage to tell him he loved him. After all that he’d done, all that he’d fought, he never could muster quite that much strength and it was the thing he regretted most in the world. Not even his fifty seventh birthday was enough to cheer him, and Hobbits loved birthdays. He sat alone in his arm-chair, fiddling with a cup of tea and the food from elevenses he hadn’t bothered to finish. Another year older and he still hadn’t forgotten his first and only love, living the quiet life he’d always wanted, but living it alone.

Bilbo was alone with his thoughts when the doorbell rang at his quaint Hobbit-hole, which he called Bag End. Bilbo didn’t get much company these days and the sound of the bell nearly frightened him. He didn’t want to go to the door, tired and sad and aggressively hungry, though he refused to eat. However he found it necessary to always be polite, especially to company, and heaved himself out of his chair. When he opened the door, he saw before him a sight that took his breath away.

“Thorin…” Bilbo straightened his waist-coat and attempted to look presentable, though tears had already sprung to his eyes.

“U-Um…would you like to come inside? It’s been so long and no one told me you weren’t, well…none of that matters now does it? Come on in, have tea with me,” Bilbo asked with a happy smile, the first one he’d managed in what felt like ages as a tear slid down his cheek. Thorin didn’t say anything, only smiled, and he walked up close to Bilbo, grabbing his waist and pulling him against his chest. Bilbo’s heart began to race and he looked up at his friend from under the long eyelashes he’d inherited from his mother. Thorin bent down and gently pressed a kiss to Bilbo’s lips, both their eyes fluttering closed as they melted into one another.

“I love you,” Bilbo finally whispered when they pulled apart, knowing he could hesitate no longer in exclaiming his feelings, not after a moment like that. However, when there was no response he opened his eyes to discover that he was utterly alone. He looked around frantically, inside and outside of his house, to find Thorin nowhere.

“Thorin? Thorin! Please…please come back…” The realization crashed down upon Bilbo abruptly that there had been no one there to start with, and he slid own the wall nearest his door, head in hands.

“No.” He wept harshly as he sat there, thinking of how foolish he had been to believe a man could just suddenly return from the dead. The poor Hobbit shook with grief and didn’t even notice when someone walked through his open door.

“Cousin Bilbo? Are you alright?” said the voice of a woman, prompting Bilbo to dry his eyes on his red silk handkerchief (the one he’d received from Elrond all those years ago) and look up. A heavily pregnant Primula Brandybuck stood before him, concern etched into her delicate features.

“What brings you here, my dear?” Bilbo asked softly, ignoring her question entirely.

“Drogo wanted to come himself to tell you the news but he was asked on a boating trip and he’s convinced he needs to get out and adventure a little more so…I came instead.” She smiled brightly and helped Bilbo to his feet.

“It’s a boy, and we’re calling him Frodo. We wanted to deliver the announcement to you personally because, well, we want you to be the godfather. Should anything happen to us, we think young Frodo would have the best chance at happiness here with you. After all, you’ve always been so different compared to the other Baggins’s, and Drogo likes that about you.” Bilbo didn’t know exactly what to say, he’d always been by himself since the death of his parents, and the possibility of having a little companion one day sounded both dreadful and amazing. He simply pulled the girl into a hug and gently patted the large bump she sported, a small laugh escaping despite himself.

“It’s an honor, little Frodo, to be your God Father.” Primula grinned and patted her cousin on the cheek.

“Thank you, and keep your chin up, Bilbo. Whatever has you so down, it’ll all turn out alright in the end. Happy birthday.” Bilbo shot her a final, bittersweet smile and sent her on her way with a loaf of bread for the road. He locked the door behind him and shook his head wearily.

“No my dear cousin, it won’t. But thank you for the sentiment.”

Back in Erebor, Thorin had locked himself away in his chambers, thinking long and hard about what Kili had said. His mind kept poring over the day Bilbo had saved his life from the Wargs, how they’d embraced when he awoke. Thorin still remembered the Hobbit’s scent, all sweet and savory, with a hint of tea. It was then that he made up his mind. He pulled out a quill and some old parchment, plopping down at his desk and writing a letter to his cousin Dain, tying it to the foot of a raven, and sending out the word that his cousin would need to fill in for him as king for a little while. Thorin had a Hobbit to find.

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