Thorin Discovers The Truth

“What do you mean we’re a ‘thing’?” Thorin asked one night around the fire. Bilbo turned as red as the beets in his garden as he tried to explain.

“Yes, um, well, it’s because of the hug, you see,” he said fiddling with the buttons on his weskit. “Because you hugged me on the mountain, people are seeing that as, uh, well, um, proof that you and me are, ah, um, a …thing.”

The king-in-exile’s brows lowered on his face until they almost touched his eyes.

“What EXACTLY is a … thing?” he asked in a voice that demanded plain speech, something of which Bilbo was increasingly incapable.

“Aha, yes, well, what is a … thing, you ask?” he stuttered as he dropped his baked potato into the fire. He frowned sadly and mourned the hissing remains of his supper that charred black in the fire. “Confusticate these fan-fiction writers!”

Bofur’s eyes widened while Balin shook his head in disbelief.

“Ya mean that they think that you two are … together?” Bofur asked with a series of merciless jokes coming to mind.

“Well, of course, we’re together,” Thorin said irritably. “All of us are together. Are we not all sitting around this fire on a quest together?”

Even Dwalin’s eyes rolled at his king’s ignorance.

“What the good hobbit means, laddie,” Balin began gently, “is that many of these writers think that you and Bilbo are more than friends—if you catch my meaning.”

Thorin glowered imperially, but even he could not miss Balin’s insinuation.

“You mean because of one simple hug of gratitude,” he began, his large fists clenching in ever-increasing distress, “these people are writing stories about us being, being …,” and he flicked his fingers to gesture the rest.

“Aye,” Balin said, “that about sums it up.”

Thorin stood and paced back and forth, his footsteps stomping louder and louder across the clearing.

“What’s wrong with these people?” he shouted finally. “Such a thought never crossed my mind, nor would it ever! I’d be a happily wed dwarf now if I wasn’t always brooding about the loss of Erebor and being surly to everyone I meet—well, except Fili and Kili when they aren’t making stupid comments about night raids by orcs. Mahal! Don’t they know I’m going to threaten your life later and hang you by your ankles over the battlements for stealing the Arkenstone?”

The company nodded soberly, and Bilbo cleared his throat.

“I’d prefer you grab my shins when the time comes, Thorin,” he said. “Weak ankles, you know.”

Thorin shook his head baffled at the strange imaginations some people possessed, and he could not for the life of him figure out how they came up with such notions.

“So what else should I know about?” he asked.

The company suddenly stared into the fire, and no one would meet his eyes.

“What?” he demanded with his hands on his hips. “I command you to tell me!”

Balin cleared his throat, and all heads swiveled in his direction, eyes boring into him as if to somehow force his mouth shut.

“Don’t do it, Balin,” Gloin whispered. “He’s insufferable enough as it is.”

Thorin strode regally over to Balin and stood before him with his long, raven locks waving gently in the slight breeze, his sapphire eyes willing his old friend to give up his secrets. Balin looked up into that fiercely masculine face with its thick, black brows; aquiline nose; and strong mouth and jaw—a face that caused women of all races to write stories of passion and pain—and he flinched.

“What is it, Balin?” Thorin asked in a rich baritone that was the stuff of girls’ dreams both day and night.

Balin sighed, and the others groaned, knowing that the trip was going to be only that much harder from now on.

“Well, laddie,” he began, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your appearance has changed somewhat since you left Ered Luin.”

Thorin looked down at himself. “Changed? Changed how?”

He did notice that his clothes seemed much finer and that he lost his ridiculous blue hood with its childish tassel somewhere on his way to Bilbo’s house, but he was so busy being condescending to everyone he met that he didn’t notice much else. He looked down at his garb and fingered his armor and leather and fur cloak.

“Who came up with this?” he asked impressed. “This is much more fitting for a warrior and king.”

Bofur took his pipe out of his mouth.

“It was that filmmaker from New Zealand, I think,” he said. “Right good costume designers he’s got.”

Then Thorin noticed his long, black hair.

“What? Wait, no, I’m supposed to have white hair,” he exclaimed, and then he felt his cheeks. “Someone give me a mirror.”

Everyone groaned, and Dwalin shot Balin a be-it-on-your-own-head glare.

“This is a quest to reclaim a kingdom, my lord,” Oin said, “so we don’t carry pocket mirrors. Besides, we’re dwarves and don’t care for such frippery.”

Thorin marched over and pointed at Dori. “Then why does he have such a ridiculous hairstyle?”

The dwarves all sighed and nodded in agreement.

“I told you it was too much, Dori,” Nori said.

“Like yours is any better,” Dori shot back.

Bilbo gave a little squeak when Thorin stopped in front of him.

“For a hobbit who cares so much about handkerchiefs,” Thorin began, “I’m sure you have a pocket mirror.”

Bilbo looked around at the pleading eyes and sighed heavily.

“Say you lost it in the deluge,” Bofur whispered.

But Bilbo crumbled under the weight of Thorin’s smoldering stare and slowly pulled out his pocket mirror.

“Just don’t make too much of it,” he said in defeat. “Remember that you die at the end.”

Thorin stood in the firelight and examined his face. His grandfatherly appearance was replaced by a virile dwarf with broad shoulders, dark hair, and broodingly handsome face. He exuded sex appeal in a way that the beautiful elves and scruffy men could not. Well, Aragorn did well for himself, but that was after his time. Ah, no wonder all these whisperings he heard of him and various women that Gandalf brought back from the future, or beautiful elvish princesses falling for him, or female rangers, or half-dwarf and half-something-elses making eyes at him after instant attraction on both sides. Of course, some stories had him and the female disliking each other at first and then falling insanely in love after persevering through trials together, but he always wondered why the writers depicted him attracting these beautiful, young girls when he thought he was more likely to appeal to their grandmothers. Well, now he knew.

“Not bad,” he murmured, checking out his now studly features. He vaguely overheard Balin recounting the battle of Azanulbizar, and he looked out over the cliff and struck a kingly profile. “Yes, this works quite well,” and he turned slowly, maximizing his majesty to face the company while they stood in awe and respect.

“Hmm, how many times can I pull this off?” he wondered, while Fili and Fili smirked at each other.

“You know, uncle,” Kili said, “you’re not the only one who’s changed. I’m really cute now with a boy-band look, and I’ve got loads of my own stories with various lovelies.”

Fili nodded. “Yep, and I’m a blond and handsome prince myself with a number of stories of my own, uncle, so you’re not the only one who gets the girl over and over and over again.”

Thorin frowned at his nephews and wagged his finger.

“You both make sure you behave yourselves!” he commanded. “We have the House of Durin reputation to uphold, and you will conduct yourselves honorably. These women are not to be trifled with. Make sure that there’s no, well, hanky-panky until after you’re properly wed!”

Fili looked askance while Kili rubbed his head.

“Well, uncle,” Kili said hesitantly, “we don’t have any control over what situations they put our personas in. Our make-believe selves just sorta follow whatever they write for us.”

Thorin’s eyes opened wide, and he glanced at Bilbo who kept his eyes trained on the fire. All at once, he felt sick.

“You mean to tell me that they have us, erm, in certain, um, compromising positions that anyone can read about?” he asked as his face turned an ugly shade of gray.

His nephews nodded with their heads down.

“Aye,” Fili said, “some are quite, um, graphic even, but we don’t read those.”

Thorin choked back a retch and then struck another romantic pose while he gazed off into the distance, ruminating over this unwelcome news.

“How do you know they’re graphic if you don’t read them, eh?” Dwalin asked with his eyebrows raised.

“We-ell,” Kili hedged, “most often they say so in the summary, but there’s also ratings for adult themes and such. Of course, not all adult stories means there’s, well, you know. Some are tasteful where all the males get married first. Quite inspiring really.”

“Ooo, maybe we’ll get to see one of those next,” Ori said hoping for the best.

“Disrespectful, I say,” Oin remarked. “They need to stick strictly to battles and long-term-deposit interest rates.”

Nori scoffed.

“You say that only because you haven’t got any stories of any kind, you great lump,” he said.

Thorin plopped down by the fire dismayed, and he and Bilbo gave each other a wide berth.

No one spoke while they tried to figure out a solution. Balin rubbed his beard for a moment and chuckled.

“This is not funny,” Thorin growled. “This is undignified. I’m a king, and I’ll not be”—and he struck another noble pose with his chin lifted and his glossy, black hair moving sensually in the breeze—”fodder for anyone’s puerile imagination! I do not take advantage of lasses or, er, lads, nor do I grope anyone in the bushes or anywhere else. When the time is right, before I die, which ought to be after I’m seriously wounded and forgive Bilbo, I’ll plight my troth and declare my undying love with my last breath.”

“How does he get the wind to blow at just the right time?” Bofur asked Bombur who shrugged. “No one else’s hair ever blows in the breeze.”

“Aye, but laddie,” Balin said after an uncomfortable pause, “Bilbo is the last one with you at the end.”

Thorin and Bilbo glanced at each other in horror, and Thorin stifled another gag.

“Well, then there’ll just have to be someone else there at the end, a beautiful dwarrowdam,” he intoned, “the love of my life whom I happen to meet on the battlefield.”

The others made doubtful noises in their throats.

“Awfully quick, don’t you think, uncle?” Kili asked skeptically. “I think most readers go in for the slow-burn scenario. Besides, where are we going to find someone now?”

Balin cleared his throat, and all looked at him expectantly.

“We’re going to Rivendell next, aye?” he asked. “Well, why don’t we put our heads together and write our own story with Gandalf’s help—and this time no bringing lovely lasses from the future, female Bilbos, or other women who act as guides through Mirkwood.” He stared down Gandalf, who shrugged and winked at Fili and Kili. “We’ll create our own warrior who fights beside Thorin in the Battle of the Five Armies.”

“Which armies are those?” Oin asked. Dwalin groaned.

“We’re not going to list them again,” he growled.

Balin waved Oin’s question away.

“We’ll write our own story and have it end our own way,” he finished triumphantly.

“Can I live this time?” Kili asked eagerly.

“Oh, me too!” Fili said nodding.

Thorin looked glumly over at his nephews.

“Only if you two clowns behave yourselves and that means limiting the comic relief,” he said wagging a finger. “Oh, and, Kili, no falling for Tauriel this time. It only drags down the plot.”

“But, uncle, no romance?” he wailed. “Those were my only close-ups!”

“Did you see anyone else falling in love?” Thorin growled. “Mahal, why make me this gorgeous if not to have women falling at my feet? Hmm, I suppose my deep, unresolved bitterness might have something to do with it.”

Balin shook his head.

“They have a handsome, young British actor playing you, Thorin, for greater profits,” he said irritably. “Don’t make me explain box office returns again.”

Thorin waved his hand dismissively.

“On to Rivendell now,” he rumbled deep in his impossibly broad and powerful chest. “It’s time we take matters into our own hands, but first I must express my distrust of Lord Elrond before I grudgingly agree to his help.”

“Are we having salad again?” Ori asked. “Why don’t they ever remember the meat?”

They trudged through passageway, all discussing various plotlines and narratives.

“Has anyone told uncle that he’s a terrible writer?” Fili asked Balin who rolled his eyes. “No one’s gonna want to read his story about his hair blowing in the breeze as he stands brooding majestically, and you know he’ll expect lots of reviews and follows.”

“I know, lad,” he whispered with his finger by his nose, “but that’s where something called editing comes into play, and I’m the only one who knows the password!”

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