Pairings: Bilbo/Kíli and non-con human!Smaug/Kíli
Rating/Warnings: NSFW; Warnings for non-con, violence, death, traumaWord Count: 7755 (18,498 total)
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit there would be probably be more angst
Summary: Titanic AU, with Rose!Kíli and Jack!Bilbo
Bilbo thought that he was going to be sick. After Kíli's fiancé had dragged him off, the thief had stood frozen for a long moment, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. However, the more he thought about it, the more Bilbo was sure that something was frightfully wrong with the situation even if he didn't know exactly what it was, and so he soon found himself chasing after the other men.
It wasn't hard to follow their trail; though Smaug had apparently stopped yelling, the shocked stares of the other First Class passengers pointed Bilbo in the right direction. However, once he reached the cabins, the thief hesitated, for Kíli had never mentioned which rooms were his and he could hardly knock on every single door. Bilbo also didn't have much time because he was still dressed for the party and any crewman that saw him here would quickly throw him out.
He paced the corridor, wondering if he should even be doing this after the other man had refused his aid earlier and this was definitely crossing the line that he had set himself.
But as Bilbo passed by one door, he heard Kíli's voice raised in a horrified refusal and he knew that he had to at least make sure that the younger man would be all right. So the thief pulled out his lock picks and knelt by the handle, cursing his shaking hands.
When the lock finally clicked, Bilbo eased the door open and quickly slipped inside as soon as he saw that the room was empty. The First Class cabin was much larger than his own, but the thief easily followed the murmur of Smaug's voice to yet another wood-paneled door. When Bilbo tried it, it was locked as well and he didn't want to pick it unless necessary so he pressed his ear to the crack instead.
Kíli and his fiancé were definitely in there and though he couldn't hear everything, the thief caught enough to realize that Smaug was seriously fucking crazy. He must have been blackmailing Kíli with something truly awful for him to be the best option that the noble had.
No wonder he's been so unhappy. However, Bilbo wasn't sure what he could actually do or if the younger man would want his help; Kíli clearly didn't think that he had any other choice, and what if interfering just made things worse instead? Yet even as he hesitated, there was a choked cry from behind the door and the thief knew that he would regret it forever if he left now and Smaug killed Kíli after all.
So the thief starting picking this lock too, trying and failing to block out the awful noises that seeped through the wood as he worked. Eventually the lock opened beneath his fingers and when Bilbo carefully cracked the door, he knew that he couldn't walk away, not with the look on Kíli's face.
Sorry Lobelia, I'm going to do something stupid after all. I could never live with myself if I didn't, even if he hates me in the end. He searched around frantically for a weapon before grabbing a heavy metal statue off a table in the corner.
This will have to do, Bilbo thought, testing its weight. Then he eased the door open ever so slowly because this would only work if Smaug did not hear him coming. Though perhaps the thief needn't have worried since the madman was far too caught up in his prey to notice anything else as Bilbo crept up behind him on silent feet.
He raised the statue up as high as he could and then brought it down with all his strength against the back of Smaug's head. There was a sickening crack before the man crumpled where he stood. He fell onto Kíli, Bilbo pulling off as quickly as he could.
"Bilbo?" the nobleman asked, voice cracking as he turned to look at the thief with startled eyes. The other man found himself at a loss for what to say, carefully keeping his own gaze away from the expanse of naked skin now on display.
Not that Kíli seemed to notice. The nobleman just staggered off the bed and ran for the bathroom where he dropped to his knees by the toilet and retched helplessly. Bilbo followed quickly, grabbing a jacket from the closet along the way, and knelt carefully by the other's side. He murmured soothing nonsense as he wrapped the long coat around the younger man's bare shoulders and gathered the hair away from his face.
Eventually Kíli's spasms stopped and the thief dared to lay a hand against his back as he whispered softly, "You're all right. It's going to be all right." But the other man just shook his head.
"No it won't. It really, really won't," he said, before turning away from the toilet and pressing his face into Bilbo's chest as his whole body shuddered. The older man wrapped his arms around Kíli and held him until his trembling finally eased.
Only then did Bilbo ask carefully, "Can you tell me about it now?"
And this time Kíli did. He spilled the whole sordid story, about how age had driven Thrór mad and he'd bankrupted his family in his greed. How the sight of the Arkenstone had corrupted his mind until there was nothing left of mercy and he had traded Kíli for the chance to one day hold it in his hands. Thrór had died still pining but the contract had been legal and his family had tried everything to break it to no avail.
"So, you see, it's never going to be all right." Kíli whispered, refusing to meet Bilbo's eyes. "While Smaug has the Arkenstone, he owns my family's future and he can destroy it on a whim. As much as he revolts me, I cannot let that happen, and the alternative is worse; I would not survive Azog and Erebor would still be lost."
Bilbo just shook his head, overwhelmed by the sheer unrelenting horror of the situation, and cast about desperately for something, anything that he could do. "What if he didn't have the Arkenstone? You said the contract is tied to it not him." What good is a thief if not thieving?
But the other man only laughed bitterly, "You think we didn't try that, over and over? That's how my grandfather disappeared, trying to get the damn stone but it was always too well protec-"
Kíli's eyes widened suddenly before he scrambled up, shoving his arms through the coat that the thief had brought him and then running back into the other room.
When Bilbo followed, he found the younger man kneeling by Smaug's side and tearing frantically at a chain around his neck, "What are you doing?"
"I'm a fucking idiot! He had the thing sealed tight before, but not now. Now it's just in that damn safe, so maybe..." Kíli looked up at him, a chain of keys dangling triumphantly from his hand.
When he tried to stand, the nobleman staggered slightly and Bilbo caught him, helping him walk into the main room. The larger key unlocked the cabin's safe and Kíli pulled out a slim metal case, laying it on the table. "The other key is for the box inside this one but I don't have the combination, and I can't risk throwing it overboard because of the damn contract. Fuck, I don't know."
Kíli put his head in his hands and Bilbo could see that the other man's store of calm was fast eroding so he stepped in. "Hey, it's all right. Let's just take the whole case and deal with it later, okay? We can stay in my cabin tonight until we work out a better plan."
"All right. I- I think I can do that. But what about Smaug? I want to slit his throat,” the younger man growled, looking toward the bedroom.
"I want to kill him too, but we have three more weeks to go and they'll search a lot harder for murderers than for thieves. It's your decision and I'll help you hide his body if you want, but it'd make it that much harder for you to win your freedom. I whacked him pretty good and he should be out 'til tomorrow at least, so we should probably just grab what you need and run," Bilbo said, hating that it was the truth.
Kíli ground his teeth for a moment and then sighed, "Damn it all, you're right. That bastard should pay for what he's done but my family is more important. However, once he can't hide behind that contract anymore, I swear he'll see how a Durin gets revenge."
The nobleman returned to the bedroom to pack while Bilbo straightened out the cabin to help cover up their tracks, closing and locking the empty safe before finding a bag in which to carry the box that held the Arkenstone.
He handed this bag to Kili when the nobleman reappeared, the younger man looking much more comfortable now that he was fully clothed again. He had changed back into his hunting gear, a small bag and a long case slung over his shoulder, and Bilbo gave him an encouraging smile before they slipped out into the hall.
Thankfully, they passed few other passengers on the way to Bilbo's cabin and soon the thief was unlocking the door and bowing Kíli inside. At the intrusion, Lobelia looked up from where she sat, her eyes narrowing when she saw the nobleman.
"You did something stupid, didn't you?" she asked, piercing Bilbo with a glare. "I told you to be careful."
"Sorry, cousin, I had to," Bilbo responded with a shrug and when Lobelia took in Kíli's pale, drawn face and the periodic shudders still wracking his body, she just shook her head.
"I guess you probably did. You always were too nice for your own good. But I hope you can get yourself out of whatever trouble that you've found."
"I hope so too," the thief replied as he ushered Kíli towards the bunk. "Though maybe you should sleep somewhere else tonight, just to be safe. And if I don't make it, just follow through with the plan - you should be able to get enough to live on, even on your own."
At this, Lobelia hugged Bilbo tightly before gathering her stuff to leave. "I'll keep an ear out and drop by tomorrow to let you know what I discover. Take care of yourself cousin; life wouldn't be nearly as interesting without you in it. And take care of him too; he looks like he needs it."
The thief showed his cousin out before turning back to Kíli who had curled up on a corner of the bed. "We should be fine here tonight, but tomorrow we need to move away from the passenger areas of the ship. I wouldn't put it past Smaug to go door to door in search of you and I don't want to cause trouble for anyone else if we can avoid it."
"Do you think this will actually work?” the younger man asked, his voice laced with doubt. “How can we possibly hide for three weeks until the Titanic reaches port? I appreciate what you've done for me but maybe I should simply leave by myself in the morning; if Smaug catches us together then we're both dead and I don't want you to get hurt."
"I knew the risks when I took them and I'm not leaving now. Besides, it'll be all right. This is a large ship and I'm rather skilled at sneaking around, you'll see,” Bilbo promised with an encouraging grin. “You should try to get some rest. It's been a long day and we'll need our wits about us."
Taking his advice, the other man settled in for the night while Bilbo started working on the Arkenstone's case - hiding would be much easier without lugging something so obvious along. It turned out to have a fascinating lock and the thief quickly lost himself in its secrets, tracing the complicated workings of its tumblers. He was sure that he nearly had it when he was distracted by a whimper and he looked up to see Kíli moving fitfully on the bed, obviously caught in a nightmare.
Bilbo went to the younger man's side and when he placed a hand on his shoulder, Kíli shot up gasping. His eyes were wild but when he recognized the older man, he threw himself into Bilbo's arms and held on tight.
The thief spoke to Kíli in soothing whispers until he eventually fell back asleep, clutching his shirt in a fierce grip. When Bilbo tried to move away, the other man would not release him, so after a few failed attempts he gave up and simply stretched out by Kíli's side.
I woke slowly, feeling warm and safe and utterly content as I had not felt in ages. Where am I? I thought as I opened my eyes and saw Bilbo's face. Did we fall asleep at the party?
But then the rest of that awful night came rushing back in a wave of muted horror. Mahal, I can still taste him. I shuddered violently and quickly scrambled over Bilbo to spit into the sink. There was nothing in my stomach but bile, yet even that burn was better than the phantom sensation of Smaug's dick against my throat. A comforting hand brushed against my neck and I slumped against the metal basin.
"Valar, I'm so stupid!" I muttered in self-loathing. How could I have agreed to that? How could I have let him touch me?
"No, you're not," Bilbo said softly over my shoulder but I just shook my head.
"Yes I am. Smaug showed me the damn stone himself two days ago, I should have thought of it then. I should have grabbed the fucking thing and ran." But Bilbo just drew me up and into his arms, letting me tuck my head beneath his chin.
"It's not your fault. Your grandfather had already tried to nick it and failed so you had no reason to think that thievery was an option. Besides, you couldn't have known what Smaug was capable of so I doubt you would have risked your family for the chance. You were just trying to make the best of a terrible situation and I happened to have a new perspective at the perfect time."
Before I could argue the point any further, there was a knock on the door and Bilbo's cousin ducked inside the room.
"Oh good, you're awake," she said, looking us over. "Though you slept late, it's just after noon and a huge commotion just went up in the First Class section so I think it's time for you to go. I brought some food which should last you through today and we can pass messages through the porter in corridor D. He's Sam's sister's cousin's son so he won't turn you in."
Bilbo stared at her bemusedly for a moment, and then hugged her with a grin. "Thank you cousin, you are a wonder."
I couldn't help but agree for I had gotten to speak with her at the Brandybuck's party and she was like few women that I had ever met. She reminded me of mother actually: stubborn, intelligent, independent, and a master at getting things done. It almost seemed a shame that Lobelia was a commoner, for a woman like her was born to rule a Manor house beneath an iron hand.
The two of us packed quickly. If Smaug was awake thenwe needed to find a safer place to stay and fast – there was no telling how much Sméagol knew of Bilbo and it wasn't fair to bring my former fiancé's wrath down upon the others here. I spared a moment to regret leaving him alive, but Bilbo had been right and we could not hide as murderers. By this point, the older man was packed and ready to leave so I threw my things over my shoulder and followed him out into the hall.
Bilbo seemed to know where he was going as he led me into parts of the Titanic that I had never seen, and I was happy to let him take point for now. I still felt raw inside and I was not sure if I trusted my own judgment at the moment, not after what I had done last night.
We walked for quite some time and I was reminded just how large the Titanic truly was when Bilbo ushered me through a plain metal door and I found myself in an enormous room. It stretched on far longer than should have been possible and wall to wall it was filled with endless rows of automobiles, gleaming beneath the lights.
"How did you find this? I didn't even know this place existed," I asked in amazement but Bilbo just smiled humbly and shrugged, walking deeper into the room.
"I explored a lot during the first few days of our journey when I had time to kill. And I doubt Smaug will know of it either, so we should be safe to hole up here for at least a few days before we have to move again." He stopped by one of the larger vehicles, pulled a pin from his pocket and quickly worked open the door before bowing me inside.
"With Lobelia's help, we can hide until we're nearly at our destination and as long as we don't do anything stupid we should be fine. The hardest part will be getting off the ship, especially if Smaug admits to our theft, but if I can get this case open that will help. If nothing else, we can empty it and then use it as a distraction while we flee."
At this point I had settled down on the long bench seat of the automobile and Bilbo followed me inside as he talked, pulling the door shut behind him. His plan seemed sound and I wasn't worried about that but something in his words did spark my curiosity. "Bilbo, what exactly do you do? They claimed you were a magician at the party, but you seem to be rather good with locks for that."
The other man's eyes widened slightly with panic and he looked away. "Oh, well, you see..."
I had to laugh at the look on his face and when he turned back in surprise, I laid my hand upon his arm. "I'm not going to judge you, I was just curious. You should see some of the company my uncle keeps these days considering that half the thieves we hired decided to stick around. I had some of the most interesting companions that a boy could ask for and it was only later that Fíli and I figured out what many of them did."
At this Bilbo relaxed and gave a short bow in my direction. "In that case, Bilbo Baggins; pickpocket, safe-cracker and sleight of hand artist at your service. Why don't you get comfortable while I see about getting this box open? We've got time to spare before dinner."
So I curled up against the door and wrapped my arms around my knees as I watched him begin his task. It was a joy to see, for Bilbo was obviously a master of his craft and his fingers were swift and sure. They were positively hypnotic as they danced across the lock and I felt myself drifting to sleep and then to dream.
Hands, large hands holding me in place. I am frozen, can't move, can't scream as they force my limbs apart. Can't fight as they spread me wide. I try to scream but there is no sound, I open my eyes but cannot see. There is nothing but the hands crawling across my skin and prying my lips open even as a heavy weight lands upon my back and -
Bilbo shook me awake. I shot up gasping for air and leaned against him, trembling. But while his warmth was soothing after the chill of my nightmare that did not change the way I felt inside.
"Dirty, I feel dirty. Like Smaug is a taint upon my skin." I whispered into his neck. "You shouldn't touch me now, I'm filthy and I'm never going to be clean."
Bilbo drew back and his eyes were sad, but I cut him off before he could speak. "I'm disgusting and tainted and no one's ever going to want me now. No one should want me now."
"What?! No! Kíli, you're not dirty! You're amazing and funny and smart and beautiful and anyone would be lucky to have you." His face was earnest but I could not accept it, not when I could still feel the hands of my dream upon my skin and the weight of Smaug's cock upon my tongue.
"No I'm not. I'm not smart or amazing or anything. My own uncle couldn't wait to sell me off in exchange for a pretty gemstone and my family won't want me back now. I agreed to let Smaug touch me, let him have me and who could love me after that?" Panic started rising inside me and I gasped helplessly.
But Bilbo just cupped my face between his hands. "Kíli, listen to me. None of this is your fault. Your family will stand by you because they love you and so will I, if you let me. I love you and I want you and nothing will ever change that."
All I could feel was the monster clawing at my chest and I couldn't believe him, not with last night on endless replay in my mind. "You say you still love me so prove it. Prove you still want me and take me now."
"Kíli... no." Bilbo's face was shocked and pained. "Not now. You're not thinking clearly. You were... You were nearly raped last night and I'm not going to take advantage of you like this."
My laugh was harsh. "I wasn't nearly raped last night, weren't you listening? I agreed to it. I agreed to it like a fucking stupid idiot and if you hadn't come, I would've let him... let him..."
I was nearly hyperventilating by this point, my voice rising higher and higher on the words. "I'm tainted already even though you stopped him before the end. I'm tainted and you don't want me anymore either, you're just making excuses now!"
All my fears were pouring out in a poisoned tide and when Bilbo tried to speak, I just overran him until he leaned forward and swallowed my voice with his mouth. I stiffened for a moment, back in the cabin and pinned to the wall by my memories but Bilbo's lips asked where Smaug's demanded and eventually I relaxed into his arms. He was gentle and warm and I deepened the kiss, trying to chase the chill from my bones. When we finally broke for air, I was sprawled on top of him across the seat and Bilbo stroked my hair softly when he spoke.
"Kíli, please will you listen to me. It was still rape even if you agreed because Smaug coerced you into it, forced you as much as if he held you down himself. And it was not your fault. The blame lies with him and him alone and you're the bravest person that I've ever known to take this chance for freedom. I know you don't believe me now but you are amazing and there is no one whom I want more in all the world."
"Then why won't you show me?"
"Because I love you and you deserve better. If I took you now, Smaug would be a ghost between us and your first tumble should be more than that. It should be about love and laughter and exploration, about finding pleasure and giving it in turn, not about proving a point to someone who is not worth an ounce of your attention.
“If you let me, I will be there every day to tell you this: to tell you that I love you and that it was not your fault. To tell you that you are amazing and you still deserve joy and happiness as much as any other. And the day that you finally believe me, I will lay you out on the bed, cover every inch of you with kisses and show you the pleasure sex can bring."
At these words I felt something break within me and I buried my face against his neck and finally cried, wept out my rage and hate and shame. Bilbo held me as I grieved for my lost innocence and when at last the tears were done, I raised my head and gave him a faint smile. "All right, you win. You have yourself a deal, Master Baggins, and I intend to hold you to it. But only if you keep kissing me along the way."
"That I can do," Bilbo replied with a smile of his own and then pulled me down again. We lost ourselves in the slide of lips and skin, the wet heat of each others' mouths, until suddenly the world tilted with a deafening crash.
"Bilbo...Bilbo, are you all right?"
Bilbo opened his eyes to see Kíli staring down at him with worried eyes.
"What happened?" he asked, struggling into an upright position with a groan.
"I'm not sure, but it seems bad. It almost felt like we hit something though I didn't think that was possible," Kíli explained and from where Bilbo sat on the floor of the car, he could see that it did indeed look bad. The entire room was tilted at an angle and many of the vehicles had broken free of their restraints and crashed into each other as they slid. Luckily their car was one of the sturdier ones and had weathered the event with minimal damage, the only real casualty being Bilbo's aching head.
"We should head for the deck and find out what happened," Kíli added and Bilbo nodded his agreement. Though his head wasn't the only thing that was hurting; something hard was poking him in the side and the thief looked down to see the Arkenstone's case on the floor.
Oh, right, I was working on that, he thought as Kíli climbed over him to get out of the car. But then the nobleman was calling his name impatiently so he just grabbed everything and followed in his wake. I'll sort it out later, when we have the time.
The pair headed out into the corridor and found that the whole ship was listing to one side, with shattered glass and wood strewn everywhere from the impact. They worked their way through the debris and headed for the deck but they ran into chaos first.
The hall in front of them was entirely blocked with screaming people, some fighting toward the stairs and others running back the other way. At the end of the corridor, just before the steps, some of the Titanic's crew were pushing back against the crowd and shouting obscenities while another man tried to shove closed a metal gate that would block off the stairs.
"What is going on here?" Kíli demanded, fighting his way to the front.
"Ship hit something. There's nothing to worry about but we're loading the lifeboats just in case. Orders say to close off the corridors so the deck stays clear and things can proceed in an efficient manner." As the crewman replied there was a loud groan of metal from below as the Titanic leaned further to the right and sent everyone crashing into the wall.
"Nothing to worry about is there?" Kíli asked, dragging himself upright. "This ship is sinking and you're just going to lock us down here and lie to our faces while we drown?"
"Orders is orders, and a guttersnipe like you ain't gonna challenge 'em,” the crewman growled, shoving Kíli back.
"Guttersnipe!" Kíli's eyes blazed, his posture straightened, and suddenly he was every inch the angry nobleman. "I am Lord Kíli Durin, second in line to the Lands of Erebor, Scion of the Lonely Mountain and you will open that gate or I will have your head."
There was something implacable in the steel of his voice and Bilbo watched in awe as the crewmen quailed beneath Kíli's gaze. Finally one of them broke and ran up the stairs and the rest followed soon after, leaving the gate unlocked and undefended. The nobleman nodded in satisfaction before turning back to the gathered throng and the thief could see the leader Kíli would one day be as he addressed the crowd.
"I know you're scared but you cannot panic now. Just gather your families and get out as fast as possible. Leave everything replaceable behind and make them hold the lifeboats as long as possible, we'll need them all to clear the ship."
As the other passengers scattered, the younger man looked at Bilbo and added. "Us as well. Let's find Lobelia and then make our escape."
"You should go now and leave Lobelia to me. There's no need for both of us to be in danger,” the older man told him, wanting to know that Kíli would be safe, but he just shook his head and shot Bilbo a scathing look.
"Don't be stupid, I won't let you go alone. Now come on, we're wasting time," Kíli said and pulled the thief down the hall. As the pair ran deeper into the Titanic, the destruction and chaos only increased for the lower levels had been hit much worse by the crash, and the corridors were often blocked by wreckage and screaming crowds. The pair sent those people that would listen back the way they came to the one gate they knew was open, but the men could not spare the time to help everyone they saw.
Their boots hit water as they reached his cabin's level and Bilbo began to worry that they would not find Lobelia before the ship sank beneath the waves. However, luck was with them and the water was only knee high when Kíli and Bilbo finally received an answer to their cries.
"Cousin! Bilbo! Get me out of here!" Lobelia was trapped in one of the cabins, door blocked by luggage and debris, but with the two men working together she was soon able to slip out into the hall. By this point the water was rising faster, so the trio dropped their least important items and ran quickly back the way they'd come. Lobelia took the lead for she was swift of foot and more familiar with these maze-like corridors so she was able to find detours whenever their route was blocked.
Bilbo was bringing up the rear when Kíli cried out that they were nearly there and the thief had just dared to hope before the hall in front of him exploded. He reeled back as what had been open air was consumed by white-hot flames and when he could hear again over the fire's roar, the others' voices were calling his name frantically. Valar's grace, they're safe.
"I'm fine, just a bit singed,” he yelled back to them. "Get to the boats and I'll cut through the grand hall to meet you there."
As soon as he heard a cry of assent, Bilbo turned and ran back down the corridor. The thief ducked into a servant's passage, down some stairs and past the kitchens, before he finally reached the main hallway that led to his destination. Only a little farther, he thought, extremely thankful for all the exploring he had done as he made his way toward the grand staircase as fast as he could.
When he finally reached it, he found that here too was a scene of destruction: furniture strewn across the room and the enormous crystal chandelier shattered on the floor. The thief was picking his way through the wreckage and giving wide berth to the gaps in the wood where he could see down to the level below, when he thought that he heard a noise behind him.
Bilbo turned to look and the last thing he saw before the world went dark was a huge pale fist rushing toward his face.
The deck was a madhouse covered in crowds of screaming, panicked passengers who were all pushing toward the lifeboats as fires flared around the ship like beacons in the night. Standing firm against the mob was a small group of the ship's crew who were somehow managing to load people into the boats in an efficient and organized manner. I heard one of them calling for women and children first so I shoved my way to the front and pushed Lobelia toward the nearest crewman.
She balked at this, shaking her head in denial but I would not let her back away. "Go, please. Get out of here while you can. I will find Bilbo and you know he'd want you safe."
"Fine. But I expect both of you to survive," Lobelia said before allowing herself to be led over to the boat. I waited long enough to see her seated and then shoved my way back through the throng as I headed toward the main staircase. Bilbo's detour should not have taken very long so as I neared the entrance without a sign of him, I began to worry.
Damn it, Bilbo, you had better be all right, I thought as I reentered the ship and headed down the corridor toward the top of the grand stair. However, as I neared it, I heard voices and when I recognized them my hope froze in my veins. I crept toward the rail and what I saw when I looked over it was my worst fears come to life.
Bilbo was there, groaning in Azog's grip as the albino twisted his arms behind his back. Smaug stood in front of him, angrily demanding to know where I was hiding, and I could see the case of the Arkenstone laying near his feet. For a second I was paralyzed with the thought that Smaug owned me once again but then Bilbo cried out in pain and I shook myself free of the terror – there were far more important things to worry about right now.
"He's gone already, off the ship and free of you," Bilbo said, spitting blood into Smaug's face. "You'll never find him now."
At that my the other man hit him once more and I knew that I had to do something before they killed him, or worse. But what can I do? I can't just go down there; they'd destroy me in a fair fight... Oh, but of course. Time to show them what my mother taught me and what a true lord of Erebor can do.
Bilbo groaned weakly when Smaug punched him again and winced at the vicious pleasure on the other man's face. Sadistic bastard. I just hope Kíli got the hell away from here. Yet even as he thought this, a voice called out from the upper level and Bilbo's spirits dimmed when he recognized the younger man's clear tenor.
"Let him go!" Kíli demanded, "I'm the one you want."
"And why exactly should I do that?" Smaug asked scornfully, trying to see where his fiancé was. "He deserves to suffer for touching what is mine."
"Because I am not yours. I am my mother's son and I have the paper crown to prove it."
Paper crown? Oh! Bilbo threw himself toward the ground as he understood Kíli's plan and though his arms screamed, Azog's grip gave out, unable to take the thief's full weight.
At the same time, Kíli stepped into view on the top of the stairs like a warrior prince of old, his great long bow drawn and ready. Though he was bloody and worn, the younger man was the most beautiful sight that Bilbo had ever seen and Azog only had time for a disbelieving gasp before he collapsed with a spray of blood, an arrow embedded in his throat.
As Kíli began to nock a second arrow, Smaug reached into his pocket for a weapon so Bilbo grabbed the Arkenstone's case from where it lay and threw it toward one of the large holes in the floor. Smaug leaped after it, snagging the container from the air just as it was about to fall and somehow managed not to fall himself. He teetered on the edge of the crack, trying desperately to catch his balance but then Kíli's next arrow slammed into his chest and knocked him down into the dark.
Bilbo ran to check that Smaug had truly fallen and indeed there was no sign of him, so he turned back to Kíli in relief. With the ship sinking, these extra deaths should go unnoticed and now at last, the other man was free.
"You are truly the most amazing person that I have ever met," Bilbo called out to Kíli as he made his way down the stairs.
Yet even as he spoke, the Titanic gave one more great shudder and the thief felt his world tilt just a bit too far. Bilbo's heart hammered in his chest as he lost his balance and he reached out to Kíli in desperation. But the distance was too wide and Bilbo had one last view of the younger man's horrified face before he too plummeted into the depths, Kíli's final "No!" ringing in his ears.
I do not remember what happened after that moment for only Bilbo's shocked face burns behind my eyes. Somehow I must have found my way back to the deck because the next thing I recall is sitting in a lifeboat, my hands locked tight around my bow as I watched the Titanic sink beneath the waves.
We were picked up eventually and though I did not manage to find Lobelia in the chaos, I was almost glad of it; for how could I tell her of my failure to save her cousin's life?
It ended up taking days before the rescue was complete and they were still pulling bodies from the water when the hospital released me, my injuries not serious enough to keep me from my home. So now I am back in Erebor just as I had wished to be and yet three weeks later my heartache will not ease. With the Arkenstone lost to the depths of the ocean, I am no longer obligated to marry anyone, but the contract is only frozen and should the gem ever reappear so too will my bonds.
Even so I find that I cannot worry too much about that possibility for I have other demons that haunt my nightmares now: the hands, Smaug's touch and Azog, and the look on Bilbo's face when I could not stop his fall. In my dreams I am always fighting, always trying to change our fates but I am helpless against the roaring tide.
I know that my family worries about me and the depression which I cannot seem to shake; although they believe it is due only to the tragedy that occurred upon the sea. Indeed Fíli has noticed how little I am sleeping and my brother tries to offer whatever comfort that he can. But despite how much I love Fíli, I find I cannot share my sorrow for this burden is mine alone to bear.
By now, I have resigned myself to numbness, to being haunted by my memories until the day I die and I have no dreams left when uncle summons me to his side.
What could he possibly want? I wonder for I have not talked to him in weeks, Smaug's accusations causing a rift between us that I do not have the energy to mend. Perhaps the bastard lied and perhaps he had spoken truly, but it makes no difference now. It does not change what happened and I go to my uncle's study as asked simply because there is nothing else for me to do.
Yet when I enter, my breath catches in my throat and I think I must be dreaming, for standing in front of Thorin's desk is someone that I never thought to see again.
"Bilbo, you're alive!" I cry out joyfully and run to hug him, mindful of the sling he wears. "I'd given you up," I confess into his shoulder but he just smiles and holds me tighter anyway.
"I made a promise didn't I? And a Baggins never breaks their word; I just got a bit delayed."
I pull away to look at him and I know my mouth has curled up in a goofy grin, but for the first time in weeks, I have hope again. That same smile is mirrored on Bilbo's lips and I think we would have stood and stared into each other's eyes forever if uncle hadn't cleared his throat. We separate somewhat guiltily and look over at him, but there is no disapproval on his face.
"It seems you were telling the truth, Mr. Baggins, and you are a friend of my nephew after all. But may I ask what exactly is your business here?" Thorin asks in that stern way he has.
Bilbo expression sobers at the question. He turns to me again and I brace myself for the worst.
"Ah, yes. I have something for you," he says quietly, pulling a cloth bag out of his pocket and placing it in my hands. When I open it, there is the Arkenstone shining like a star, and I look up at him in confusion.
"Bilbo? How is this even possible? It was lost with Smaug."
"No, it wasn't. I managed to unlock the case while you were sleeping in the car but I never got the chance to tell you before everything went to hell. When they fished me out of the water, it was still in my pocket,” he explains, shrugging awkwardly. "I thought that you should have it back."
At this explanation, I feel my heart breaking again, for the owner of the gem controls my future and why would he return it unless... "You don't wan-?" I can't even finish before my throat closes with tears but Bilbo reads my agonized question from my face.
"No, that's not it at all," he denies fervently, clasping my hands in his. "I love you more than anything and I'm yours if you desire. But you deserve the right to choose your own fate."
With these words joy bursts within me and I am filled with adoration for this foolish, marvelous man. "You are an idiot. A perfectly wonderful idiot. As if I'm going to let you go now." I say, wrapping my arms around him again and I would have kissed him then and there if uncle Thorin hadn't spoken up.
"So will I be planning a wedding then?"
And indeed he is. The preparations last for months since a lord's wedding must be filled with pomp and circumstance even when that lord and his commoner fiancé couldn't have cared less whether our centerpieces match the color of the walls.
However, I am grateful for the time nonetheless because even though our hearts have already chosen, neither of us actually knows the other very well. So Bilbo and I take this chance to court each other properly and the more I find out about him, the more I love this man. In fact, over the weeks that follow, I teach Bilbo to ride and he teaches me to pick pockets and no matter how much I learn, Bilbo never stops surprising me.
We spend our days in happiness and laughter and I am delighted when Bilbo charms the rest of my family just like he charmed me, though I think my effervescent joy makes it an easy sell. Even Thorin grows to speak of my burglar fondly, and although I watch my uncle carefully when near the Arkenstone, his eyes remain clear of his grandfather's madness.
While there is still a chance that Smaug was not lying, I know that I will never ask because as long as the ones I love are safe, I would rather trust in Thorin and my family than find out that I am wrong.
Lobelia arrives about halfway through the process in order to help us with the planning; indeed, she refuses to be left out, and it is wonderful to see her again in these better days. Watching her meet my mother is a slightly terrifying experience but between the two of them, they soon have everyone whipped into a marvel of organizational efficiency and we never would have finished in time without their help.
Uncle Thorin also finds Lobelia fascinating, though for somewhat different reasons, and I will never forget the starstruck expression on his face. He's never met a woman other than his sister who can so quickly put him in his place and suddenly his long habit of bachelorhood seems much less attractive now. Soon the two of them are as besotted with each other as I am with my burglar and I joke to Bilbo that his cousin will get to rule a manor after all.
Most importantly for me, Bilbo keeps his promise and every day he is there to tell me all the things I need to hear: that the past was not my fault, that I am not tainted, and that he still loves me more than anything. Over time my doubts begin to lessen and my nightmares start to ease as Smaug's ghost finally loses its hold upon my mind. Eventually our wedding day arrives and when I am standing before the altar with my thief and see the overwhelming joy upon his face, I feel the last of my shame disappear.
Bilbo must see the change somehow, see the shadows leave my eyes, for he smiles up at me and whispers, "So you believe me now?"
"Yes I do, I really do," I reply and lean down to kiss my husband in a promise of joyous things to come.