Rating/Warnings: R for angst, grief, illnessWord Count: 2737
Disclaimer: If I owned the Hobbit, it would have a happy ending.
Summary: Hobbits cannot survive without the sun.
Bilbo dreams of sunshine, of golden light pouring across his skin, and he almost feels like weeping when he wakes to cold stone walls. The clock says that it is morning and the hobbit can feel his husband stirring but he simply cannot find the will to move.
Not when his every breath aches with exhaustion and Bilbo must drift off again because the next thing that he sees is Kíli is staring down at him with worried eyes.
“Are you all right, love?” The dwarf asks, taking in his husband's pallor anxiously. It hurts to see him looking so worn when the hobbit has always been a pillar of strength for the prince lean on, worse since he doesn't know what's wrong.
Kíli had asked Óin to examine Bilbo when he first started feeling sluggish but if their burglar had an illness, it was beyond the healer's ken. There is only this creeping lethargy taking hold of the hobbit like a blight upon the grain and Kíli fears to know where it will end.
Though whenever he speaks of this, his husband always tells him not to worry, trying to smile despite the pain. Bilbo had known there would be sacrifices when he chose to stay in Erebor and the dwarf's love was worth it, even now that hope grows dark. For while the hobbit knows that he is dying, can feel the weakness in his bones, these words will never pass his lips.
He does not wish to taint their happiness with the truth of coming sorrow, not when he cannot regret the time they've had. Because Kíli had swept into his grey world and shattered all of his perceptions, showing him what it meant to truly breathe. It had been terrifying and exhilarating and Bilbo felt alive as he never had before. Suddenly the hobbit could see that he had not been living in the Shire, he had only been existing and by the time they reached the mountain, his heart was his no more.
So when the dust had settled and the battle finally won, Bilbo had known where he belonged. The burglar could not go back to his grey existence having seen the world in living color and he had thrived at first.
For while Erebor was nothing like Hobbiton, there were always new challenges to tackle and his husband's kin had done their best to make it home. Bombur had learned to cook his favorite Shire dishes, Nori, Bifur and their brothers had carved Bilbo all new furniture while Thorin gave him a title of his own. Though their burglar had preferred to earn his position on the king's council of advisers, becoming known as the one to turn to when sensible thinking must be done.
And always there was Kíli with his bright smiles and talented hands, there to remind him exactly why he made the choice he did.
Truly the only thing that Bilbo missed was his flower garden and as long as he could take walks out on the mountainside, this helped to ease the ache. His husband had joined him sometimes, grabbed his bow and rode out with him on the verdant plains.
Kíli had loved those mornings, when he could forget his new responsibilities in the feel of wood beneath his hands and the way his hobbit glowed beneath the sun. Bilbo was beautiful like this, rosy-cheeked and shining and the dwarf could rarely resist the sight of him for long. They would tumble down into the grass in a tangle of limbs and laughter, spending hours in a haze of pleasure before finally returning to Erebor.
He missed those days when winter came and snow covered the wildflowers, drifts as tall as horses threatening to close the gates. At first Thorin managed to keep the trade routes open but it was a bad year, blizzard after blizzard beating down on Erebor, and soon even the road to Dale was blocked.
So the dwarves simply hunkered down within the Lonely Mountain, waiting patiently for spring to come, and the kingdom's lone hobbit tried to do the same. But after several weeks of this, Bilbo's energy began to fade, the cold seeping into his bones with a chill he could not shake. No matter how high they built the fire, he still shivered through the night and each day it was a little harder for him to wake.
So here they are, nearly one month later, and Kíli does not know what he will do. The archer is becoming desperate, for while he had always known that Bilbo would die young by his people's standards, this is far too soon.
This is too soon to say goodbye and despite his husband's endless reassurances, the dwarf is far from blind. He can see where this road will lead if something does not change and he hates it because Kíli would rather carve out his own heart than sit here watching helplessly as his husband wanes.
Yet with every failed remedy, every listless movement and forgotten word, the archer loses what little hope remains and he clutches Bilbo tightly in his sleep. Perhaps if he just holds on hard enough, Mahal will let his hobbit remain on Arda, and his husband returns the fervency of his embrace.
They lay tangled together every evening, pressed as close as two hearts can be, and when Kíli's mother checks on them in the morning, the sight makes her heart ache. Because every member of the company whispers the same prayers, begging the Valar to save their friend from death and their brother from despair.
But while the dwarves have scoured every myth and legend, searched out every weathered page, few texts even speak of hobbits as more than fairytale. Thorin even tried to send a message to Gandalf, one of his ravens volunteering to brave the storms. But Mingal has not returned and the king fears that his plea for help was lost. So he prays with the others, prays to Mahal for a miracle and as Bilbo continues to struggle along, the dwarves dare to hope that they've been heard.
Until the morning that their hobbit will not wake.
Kíli knows that something is wrong the moment that he touches his husband's shoulder, the other's skin icy beneath his touch.
“Bilbo,” He pleads, voice cracking as he shakes the hobbit gently. “Bilbo, please wake up.”
Yet his husband does not stir, only the faintest movement of his chest showing that he lives at all. So the dwarf watches every slow breath fiercely, suddenly convinced that if he looks away for a moment, his husband's heart will fail.
Fíli finds his brother there an hour later, wrapped around his hobbit and whispering entreaties in his ear.
“Kíli, is he...?” The young dwarf trails off, words failing him at the other's obvious distress. But Kíli just shakes his head, pulling Bilbo closer and burying his head against the hobbit's neck as Fíli runs off to fetch Óin
The elder prince sprints through the halls of Erebor, the image of their burglar laying still driving him onward when his strength begins to flag. Until he bursts into the council chamber, gasping out his mission to a dozen startled pairs of eyes.
“What is the meaning of this?” His uncle's stodgier advisers demand, rising out of their chairs in affront, but once Thorin pieces together his nephew's words, the interruption is forgiven immediately. The king orders his council to leave, offering them accommodations in his dungeons in answer to their protests and grinning evilly as the fools rush to change their tune. Then he gathers Óin and his sister and follows Fíli back to his younger nephew's chambers, sending Dwalin off to spread the news.
Kíli has not moved a muscle since his brother left him and his family almost breaks at the sight which meets their eyes. For Thorin has seen what happens to dwarves who give up living after their Ones die and he fears that losing Bilbo may be more than his nephew can survive.
It takes Dís nearly five minutes to coax her son away from his husband, drawing Kíli into her arms so that Óin can do his work. But when he finishes examining the hobbit, the healer just shakes his head.
“Our burglar has no injuries nor illnesses that I can see. His body is simply failing and I have no idea why.” His voice is tight with frustration at his helplessness, no healer wanting to be useless when his charges are in pain.
At Óin's words, Kíli gives a strangled cry and buries his head against his mother's shoulder while the others stand there at a loss. But eventually Fíli leaves the room to inform the rest of the company of the situation, while Thorin makes arrangements with Óin for Bilbo's care. Because the dwarves who took back Erebor will not lose their burglar without a fight, not when he is family now.
So if they have already searched everywhere then they will simply search again, poring through scrolls and books and old wives' tales until someone finds the answer that they seek. They will not give up hope as long as there is breath in Bilbo's body and they have faced worse odds than this.
Although Thorin must continue the work of ruling, the others burn candles through the night in their searching while Dís and Fíli take charge of Kíli, reminding him to eat and sleep. For the dwarf will not leave his husband's side, spending hours coaxing Bilbo's still form to drinking and begging Mahal to let the hobbit wake. He begs and pleads and bargains, the two of them wasting away together until their luck runs out.
Dwalin is the first to hear the screaming, the warrior on his way to check on Bilbo when the first cry rings out. This anguished wail is as nothing he has ever heard, a wordless scream of agony that makes his blood run cold.
So the dwarf runs, bursting into Kíli's chambers to find him cradling his hobbit, rocking back and forth and howling out his grief. Because Bilbo's breath has failed him, his heart no longer beating, and it takes three of his companions to pry him from Kíli's hands. The young lad has completely lost his senses, struggling mindlessly with an insane fury until he finally collapses sobbing to the ground.
Fíli wraps his arms around his brother then, hugging him as tightly as he can while trying to hold back his own tears. The entire company is unraveling, their own grief threatening to overwhelm their spirits and more than one dwarf must turn away from their friend's agony. But when their king manages to pull himself together and begins arrangements to bury Bilbo with honor in the tombs of Erebor, Kíli finally speaks.
“No!” The dwarf shouts, raising his tear-streaked face from his brother's neck. “No... M- my hobbit... My hobbit loved green and growing things and we will grant him this small comfort in his final r- rest.”
Kíli will not be swayed even when more sensible voices remind him that it is winter and so the company must find a way. They can do nothing else in the face of the archer's sorrow, his endless grief mingling with their own. For if they could not save their burglar, the dwarves must grant him this.
Although the gates of Erebor are still a lost cause, the company knows well that there are other ways into the mountain and it is Bofur who uncovers the secret passageway again. Smaug's rampage had blocked the tunnel with a pile of shattered rock but winter means idle workers and it does not take long for a score of miners to dig it clear.
The moment that Fíli steps through the door, the prince knows that this will be perfect: the area before the tunnel sheltered from the worst that winter brings. So they begin to build a bier for their hobbit, carrying earth from deep within the Lonely Mountain to cradle him beneath the sky.
It takes them three days to finish, working feverishly to fulfill Kíli's vision and they are driven as much by their own grief as by the pain in his eyes. But at last the final stone is placed, the dwarves stepping back to see what their hands have created in memorial. While the grotto is bare now, its lines are graceful and Kíli plans to build a garden when the frost begins to melt. His eyes almost look normal as he speaks of his intentions and his family hopes that the project will keep his heart alive.
Yet first the company must bury their burglar and they gather outside one morning after the clouds finally break. Although the chill of winter still hangs in the air, the storms have passed for now and more than one dwarf blames his weeping on the glare of sun on snow.
It is Kíli who carries Bilbo through the passage and lays him on the bier, his husband dressed in the best of dwarven finery. When they finish the ceremony, his company will cover him with stone to protect the hobbit from scavengers but before they say their last farewell, it is time to remember Bilbo as he was in life.
Fíli starts the storytelling and he talks of their hobbit's endless bravery, his selflessness when others were in need. He speaks until his voice gives out from sorrow and then Thorin steps forward to speak his own story, the tale of how the burglar stood against his madness when no other would. Everyone has a moment that they want to share, a moment of joy or humor, and once the company has finished, the rest of Durin's Folk have their own chance.
Through it all, Kíli has stayed silent, looking bleakly toward the hills with a blank look on his face. So everyone turns toward him in shock when the archer gives a strangled cry.
He is staring at Bilbo as though he's seen a ghost and when Fíli rushes to his brother's side, he has to choke down his own gasp. Because the hobbit is glowing, golden light flowing like blood beneath his skin and everyone watches wide-eyed as his deathly pallor disappears. In moments, their burglar is rosy-cheeked again, Kíli falling to his knees when the hobbit takes a sudden breath.
“Bilbo?” The dwarf whispers, reaching out one trembling hand to touch his husband's cheek.
“K- Kíli...” is the weak reply as Bilbo's eyes flutter open, voice rough from disuse. “I dreamed that I was lost in the dark and I couldn't find my way.”
“You were dead,” Kíli tells him, wrapping an arm around his husband and holding on tight. “I thought... you were dead!”
No one understands how this is possible but no one is going to question the Valar's gift. Be it miracle or luck or some forgotten magic, the company does not care now that their burglar has returned to them and everyone's smiles are brilliant as a celebration breaks out on the mountainside.
Though Kíli and Bilbo remain wrapped together, two lovers given a second chance.
The dwarves find out later that it was not a miracle, simply a quirk of hobbits that no one had known about. For Thorin's raven had reached Gandalf only to be lost within the storms and when he finally limps back into Erebor, he has a scroll held in his beak. The wizard writes that hobbits are truly Vána's children and like the blossoms she is known for, they cannot survive without the sun.
Armed with this knowledge, Kíli and his husband turn the hobbit's former grave into a proper garden when the ice finally thaws, spending long hours with their hands in the earth. Beneath this careful tending, flowers soon sprout wild across the hillside, protected from the harsh winds by sculpted walls.
The couple spends hours there, reveling in the scent of spring around them and the dwarf cannot believe that he almost lost his love through ignorance. But Kíli knows better now, he understands why his hobbit always seemed to blossom beneath the sky and when next winter comes, he will be prepared.