Chapter 2: A Quest Begins
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, hints of a couple others
Warnings: Can I warn for epic fluff?
Word Count: 1697 (5037 so far)
Summary: Kíli is a virgin. Bilbo is a unicorn. Together they fight goblins and cuddle epically.
Art: Unicorn!Bilbo 1, Unicorn!Bilbo 2.
Chapter 1: A Wizard Meddles
Fíli and Kíli woke up early the next morning, too excited about the beginning of their journey to sleep in much past dawn. However, when the dwarves walked into the stable yard to saddle up their ponies, they found Bilbo already waiting and so the hobbit must have woken even earlier. He was feeding Myrtle apples and when he caught sight of Kíli, his face lit up again.
“I told you, brother; someone likes you,” Fíli whispered, dancing away when the archer tried to elbow him. Kíli could feel his cheeks burning and he really hoped that Bilbo had not overheard.
The worst thing about his brother's teasing was that he didn't really mean it – he couldn't mean it when no one ever wanted Kíli and the archer didn't need to be reminded of that fact. And yet, even though he knew Fíli must be joking, Kíli couldn't deny that Bilbo's smile made his knees a little weak. The hobbit might not be handsome in the dwarven sense, but that did not stop him from being utterly adorable. With his curls and his walking stick and his tiny little horn; he was just too cute for words.
Truthfully, Kíli was rather curious about that horn. The archer had yet to see another hobbit with a similar appendage, though the innkeeper did have tiny antlers and the stable lad a tail. None of those features was exactly normal but despite his curiosity, it did not seem polite to ask.
Maybe he'll explain once I know him better, the dwarf thought hopefully and then promptly forgot all about Bilbo's horn when the hobbit lifted a pack saddle from the rack.
“What are you doing?” the archer asked as Bilbo began to tack up Myrtle. Their burglar seemed to know what he was doing but that just made his choice even weirder. Does he not plan to ride?
“I'm getting ready, of course. Should I have chosen a different pony?” the hobbit replied, tying his walking stick and his pack to Myrtle's saddle once he got it settled properly. “Myrtle here didn't think that you would mind.”
“Yes, I mean no, she's a good pony and no one else was using her,” Kíli said, walking over and patting Myrtle on the neck. “But don't you need to ride? We're going to be moving fast and I'd hate to see you left behind.”
“Gandalf really didn't tell you anything, did he?” Bilbo asked instead of answering the archer's question, the seeming non sequitur just confusing Kíli more. “No, of course not. He probably just gave you my address and walked off cackling; he seems like the type. But I don't need to ride and you won't need your pony either; not while I'm around.”
Before the dwarf could ask what in Mahal's name that meant, the air around Bilbo suddenly began to shimmer, bending and warping like the heat off a forge. He grew blurrier and blurrier and then there was a pony standing where there had been a hobbit just before – a pony that looked remarkably like Bilbo in its coloring. A curly brown mane and tail, darker spots of hair right were Bilbo had his freckles and the largest eyes that Kíli had ever seen on any living thing. Even their horns were similar, although the pony's was much sharper than the hobbit's, that ivory spiral tapering to a wicked point.
“You're a skin-changer?!” Fíli exclaimed while the younger dwarf stared in shock, blinking at their former burglar in disbelief. He couldn't seem to wrap his mind around the change – where did all that extra mass even come from? – not until the pony took two steps forward and nudged him in the chest.
Because that adoring expression was all Bilbo and Kíli just had to give him a quick scratch behind the ears. He'd wanted to run his fingers through the hobbit's hair ever since he saw it – it was just so fluffy – and now that their burglar was a pony, he had gotten his excuse.
Indeed, Bilbo's hair was just as soft as the archer had imagined, the hobbit – pony? – practically melting when Kíli rubbed his ears. Soon Bilbo was leaning most of his weight against Kíli and if the archer had been any weaker, he would have fallen on his ass. But he was a dwarf, thank you very much, so he just braced his feet and dug his fingers deeper into the pony's mane.
Kíli and Bilbo stayed like that until Fíli loudly cleared his throat behind them, older brother code for: “Stop that right this instant, I need to talk to you.” When Kíli turned around, Fíli had almost finished tacking up all the other ponies, only Fíli's Daisy and the archer's own Bungo left unsaddled now.
“As sickeningly cute as this is, Kí, we need to finish getting ready before uncle and the others come outside,” Fíli said. “You can go back to petting our burglar once you've saddled Bungo up.”
Unfortunately, his brother was right and so Kíli removed his hands from Bilbo's mane with a reluctant sigh, wincing at the look of sheer betrayal that the pony sent to him. The archer actually felt guilty, really really guilty, and that was ridiculous.
“Look, you can understand me, right?” Kíli asked when Bilbo just kept staring at him expectantly. “So you know that I can't keep scratching you. Fíli and I barely managed to convince uncle to let us come along; if he thinks we're shirking our duties, he'll send us home again.”
The archer thought this was a perfectly reasonable explanation for needing to saddle Bungo but the pony just let out a great sigh – a “Why must I deal with these fools?” sort of sigh – and looked heavenward for strength. Then he sidled around so that the dwarf was standing at his flank and turned his nose to point at his own side.
“So... I guess I'm not riding Bungo. Is that what you're telling me?” Kíli asked, unable to hold back a grin when Bilbo nodded emphatically.
“All right, then. Only... do you need a saddle? I don't want to...” the dwarf trailed off at the pony's affronted glare, holding up his hands in surrender when Bilbo nipped his sleeve. “Okay, okay, no saddle. I suppose you're hardly going to throw me off if something startles you. But, you know, I should still saddle Bungo; you might get tired later and we can't leave his tack behind.”
Bilbo seemed insulted by the suggestion that he wasn't strong enough to carry Kíli all the way to Erebor and while he waved the archer toward Bungo with a regal sweep of his hoof, his manner was much more aloof when the dwarf returned. But Kíli soon melted away his irritation with an apple from his pockets and another scratch behind the ears.
“You'll always be my favorite pony,” the archer promised and everything was forgiven after that.
When the rest of Thorin's company finally wandered outside, they found Kíli and Bilbo cavorting around the stable yard, dashing and jumping like they'd been riding together all their lives. Even without a saddle, Bilbo was the most comfortable pony that the dwarf had ever ridden and he was grinning widely when they finally skidded to a halt.
Then Kíli swept an imaginary hat off his head and bowed to his companions. The other dwarves had mounted up while he was busy, their expressions ranging from laughter to serious irritation at his antics now.
Although, in truth, that last was mostly Thorin, the dwarf lord taking one look at his nephew's mount and asking, “Where did you get that pony, Kíli? If you've spent all your gold already then we need to have a talk.”
“Of course not, uncle,” the archer protested indignantly. “I wouldn't do that. This is Bilbo.”
“You named your pony Bilbo?” Thorin replied, his tone thick with disapproval. “Speaking of which, where is our burglar? He should have been here already and I will not wait for him; his courage probably broke as soon as he realized that he would have to leave his precious hobbit hole.”
Kíli's uncle was about to continue when Bilbo's teeth snapped shut an inch from his boot, the dwarf lord and the pony getting into a glaring match instead. Their burglar had clearly taken offense at Thorin's comments – indeed, he looked ready to impale the dwarf lord on his horn – and Kíli wasn't sure why the hobbit didn't just shift back. At least not until he looked over at Fíli for assistance and his brother signed, 'Get off him, you idiot' in Iglishmêk with a sharp roll of his eyes. However, before the archer could dismount – and honestly, Fíli was never gonna let him hear the end of this – Gandalf intervened.
“Do not worry about our burglar, Thorin. I am sure that Bilbo will catch up with us eventually,” the wizard said, looking at Kíli and his pony with a glint of amusement in his eyes. “The rest of us should ride before the morning grows too late.”
“Yes. We shall ride. Onward to glory and our homeland,” Thorin shouted, wheeling his pony around dramatically. He was the perfect picture of a king, his face shining with the righteous virtue of his cause, and Kíli felt a great swell of admiration in his heart.
Which, of course, was when Bilbo stretched out his neck and nipped the dwarf lord's pony on its rump. Suddenly Thorin was careening down the path, trying to get his mount under control while the rest of his companions quickly galloped after him. Bilbo brought up the rear at a much more leisurely trot, choosing his own path while Kíli giggled madly on his back. The members of Thorin's company would reconvene a few miles down the road and attempt to scrape up a bit of dignity, but the archer would always remember his uncle's startled expression as how their quest began.
Chapter 3: A Burglar Woos