Chapter 3: A Burglar Woos
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, hints of a couple others
Warnings: Can I warn for epic fluff?
Word Count: 3913 (8950 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
Chapter 2: A Quest Begins
Most of the dwarves discovered the truth about Kíli's pony only a few days into their journey – it's not like Bilbo tried to hide it – and they took the hobbit's ability to change his form in stride. Sure it was a little weird to hold conversations with a pony but this hardly seemed like dangerous magic and Durin's Folk had produced a few skin-changers of their own in the past.
So Bilbo's companions just shrugged and treated him roughly the same no matter which form he was wearing. Yes and no questions did work best for the pony since only Kíli had any luck interpreting his neighs but Bilbo was Bilbo and most of the dwarves didn't mind his oddity.
All but Thorin, who somehow remained oblivious to their burglar's shifting form. The dwarf lord seemed to think that the hobbit was hiding somewhere whenever he changed into a pony and he could often be heard grumbling about absent burglars. When one of his companions talked to Kíli's mount, Thorin always assumed that they were speaking with his nephew and he would not believe anyone who tried to tell him otherwise. Not without hard proof, which was difficult to come by when the hobbit still refused to go anywhere near the dwarf lord and Gandalf was too amused to join the argument.
Somehow Kíli's uncle also managed to ignore the way that both the hobbit and Kíli's pony trailed after his nephew like lovesick idiots. He didn't seem to notice the adoration or the pining even as the rest of his companions found the whole thing hilarious.
Fíli and Dwalin had created a travel game based on counting Bilbo's sighs and glances and Nori was taking bets on when Thorin would get a clue. Considering how similar the hobbit's two forms looked and acted, the dwarf lord should figure it out eventually and until then the other dwarves were happy to entertain themselves by teasing Kíli mercilessly.
However, no matter how much the archer blushed at his companion's joking, he still allowed Bilbo to curl up with him by the fire; he didn't have the heart to disappoint the hobbit when he was so happy at his side. Indeed, their burglar was happiest in either form when pressed close to Kíli and he wasn't the only one who enjoyed the cuddling.
There was something very comfortable about it, perhaps because Bilbo never asked for more, and the archer was starting to think that he'd found a far more valuable treasure than the gold of Erebor.
Of course, Kíli would have known exactly what he'd found if any of the dwarves had bothered to listen to their wizard; Gandalf had been trying to explain Bilbo's true nature to the company for weeks. The wizard wanted his chance at exposition – he had written a whole speech and everything – but no one would let him speak. Ori was the only one who even cared enough to listen and Bofur or Dori would always interrupt the conversation, reminding Gandalf that it was impolite to gossip behind their burglar's back.
“If it's important, Bilbo is sure to tell us and if it's not important then we don't need to know,” Bofur had said the first time the wizard offered to share the hobbit's secrets and the dwarves' position hadn't softened since.
Truthfully, Bofur couldn't understand why Gandalf kept trying after so many clear refusals and when the wizard stalked off in a huff yet again, the dwarf just shrugged and went back to helping Bombur with the soup. Most of the other dwarves were making camp while Bilbo assisted Kíli and Fíli with the ponies and Thorin stood off to the side and brooded as he was wont to do.
Fíli reappeared at Bombur's elbow just as dinner was completed – that one always did have a nose for food – and he quickly devoured his own portion before grabbing two more bowls. These were for his brother and the hobbit but when Fíli reached them, neither was interested in eating anything.
In fact, Bilbo and Kíli were huddled in the bushes, the archer's eyes wide as he stared at something moving in the darkness, and when Fíli dropped down beside his brother, he felt his own eyes go wide as well. Because an enormous mountain troll was carrying Myrtle and Minty through the trees, their leads dangling where the troll had ripped them free.
“He's stealing our ponies,” Fíli hissed, his hand on Kíli's shoulder. “We have to tell uncle and the others.”
“Don't be silly; we need to find out where it's going,” Bilbo replied, the hobbit's voice far too cheerful for what was happening. Fíli was starting to think that their burglar had no sense of self-preservation, agreeing to face a dragon within five minutes of meeting Thorin probably should have been a sign, and when Bilbo darted after the troll, the dwarves could only follow him.
Or rather, Kíli followed Bilbo and then Fíli followed Kíli because someone had to keep his little brother out of trouble and it clearly wouldn't be their burglar. Honestly, brother wrangling had been a full time job already without Bilbo deciding to charge headfirst into danger and Fíli was going to end up like Thorin at this rate. Half the grey in the dwarf lord's hair was due to his nephews' antics and he didn't even know about their little misunderstanding with the town of Bree.
And he's not going to find out about this one either, not if I can help it, Fíli thought as he chased after his brother and their burglar. We went for help immediately as far as uncle is concerned.
Getting help was the only sensible plan of action when faced with a mountain troll; they would need their entire company just to have a chance. Our company and the wizard, Fíli amended when the troll finally reached its camp. Because two more trolls were sitting by a roaring fire and fighting three of the creatures would be nigh impossible.
Even Kíli hesitated at the sight – and this was Kíli – but Bilbo didn't seem to realize how much danger they were in. He just smiled like he was going to a garden party and started walking forward brazenly.
“What are you doing?” Kíli whispered, grabbing the hobbit before he could step into the light. “They'll kill you!”
“No they won't,” Bilbo replied with a fond glance at the archer. “Orcs or wargs might have been a problem but mountain trolls could never be a match for me.”
“Have you gone mad? Bilbo, we know you're not a burglar despite what uncle thinks. You don't have to prove yourself so recklessly,” Kíli protested again, honestly worried that the hobbit had gotten sunstroke because he could not seriously believe such lunacy. “I care about you too much to watch you die like this.”
“You are adorable and very sweet to worry,” the hobbit murmured, going up on his toes to kiss the archer's cheek. This brief touch made Kíli blush, though he wasn't flustered enough to let go of Bilbo's arm. “But I promise I would not try this if I were not certain of the outcome. I may not be a burglar but I am a unicorn and my kind always has a few tricks up our sleeves. So just sit tight, darling; I'll take care of everything.”
He patted Kíli's shoulder as though that ended the conversation, as though the archer would actually stand on the sidelines while Bilbo committed suicide by troll. Indeed, the dwarf had no intention of letting the hobbit walk into that clearing, but Bilbo could move quickly when he wanted to. He shifted into his other form, breaking Kíli's grip and trotting forward fearlessly.
Shit, he's going to die. They're going to eat him, Kíli cursed as the trolls surrounded Bilbo, their expressions sick with avarice. The thought made Kíli stagger, the idea of losing his hobbit making his heart thump painfully.
The archer hadn't realized how much he cared before this moment. He hadn't realized that Bilbo had gotten so deep beneath his skin. But Kíli might actually love him and the dwarf couldn't lose the only person who had ever made him feel like this.
However, before Kíli could run to the rescue, one of the trolls tried to grab Bilbo and his horn suddenly began to glow. That ivory spiral grew brighter and brighter, forcing the mountain trolls back with cries of agony. They tried to run but it was already too late, their skin sizzling when the light from Bilbo's horn washed over them. Kíli squinted against the brightness as the monsters writhed and twisted, their bodies slowly turning to stone until they were frozen where they stood.
Only then did Bilbo's horn stop glowing, the hobbit shifting back and smiling at the dwarves triumphantly. “I told you I could take them.”
“That was amazing,” Kíli exclaimed, unable to contain his excitement any longer. He ran forward, grabbing Bilbo in a hug and spinning him around. “How did you do that?”
“I told you, I'm a unicorn not a skin-changer. We have a different sort of magic,” the hobbit explained with a smirk. Despite his words, fighting three mountain trolls at once had been a little risky, but Kíli's reaction was well worth the danger he had faced.
The dwarf was looking at Bilbo like he had hung the moon and his arms were warm and strong around the hobbit’s waist. Indeed, Bilbo could have happily stayed right here forever, Kíli's spirit shining brightly in his mind. That soul was the dwarf's true beauty and the hobbit wanted to wrap his innocence around his heart to keep the world at bay. Kíli was something special, truly special, and Bilbo counted himself lucky that no other unicorn had found the archer first.
So the hobbit returned the hug, tucking his head beneath Kíli's chin with a contented sigh. Erebor could hang as far as Bilbo was concerned; this was the only place that he wished to be.
Of course, Kíli and Bilbo weren't actually alone and the hobbit could only ignore Fíli's presence for so long. Now, he actually liked the blond dwarf – while he was far from chaste, he adored his brother and his kind heart made his touch much less painful than his uncle's when he accidentally brushed Bilbo's skin.
However, after Fíli cleared his throat for the seventh time, the unicorn could cheerfully have run him through right then. Because Kíli pulled away from Bilbo in order to glare at his brother and thus ended the hobbit’s cuddling.
Still, the other dwarf did have a point when he said this wasn’t the time or place for hugging, what with the frozen trolls and all.
So Bilbo helped Kíli free their poor frightened ponies while Fíli searched the surrounding area for loot. As the archer cheerfully explained, mountain trolls had no use for treasure and usually left their victims' possessions strewn about haphazardly. Anyone willing to dig through the rubbish could often find great treasures hidden there. Indeed, Fíli returned about ten minutes later with three swords slung across his shoulders and he offered the shortest to Bilbo with a bow.
“You may not need a weapon, but this is yours by right and I am sure Kíli would sleep easier if he knew that you were armed.”
Neither unicorns nor hobbits usually carried weapons but when Bilbo started to refuse, Kíli gave him a pleading glance and he folded instantly.
I suppose a sword might be useful on this journey, Bilbo justified to himself as he reached for the blade. His magic was weaker as a hobbit and he needed space to shift. If the worst should happen, a weapon would give him a better chance to fight his way to open ground.
“Of course, these two blades are yours as well,” Fíli continued once Bilbo had settled his new sword on his hip. “But since they’re much too long for you, you should give one to Thorin for his permission and the other to my brother as a courting gift.”
“A what?” Bilbo asked.
“Fíli!” Kíli hissed, smacking his brother on the arm.
The archer clearly knew what Fíli was implying, but his brother ignored his protests. Instead, Fíli just narrowed his eyes at Bilbo, the hobbit’s shoulders straightening beneath that chilly stare. While he wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, Bilbo could tell it was important and he would not let Kíli down.
“You do intend to court my brother, don’t you?” Fíli asked silkily, the softness of his voice doing nothing to hide the steel behind his eyes. “Unlike some dwarves, Kíli is not the type for loveless dalliances and I have never seen my brother smile at anyone the way he grins at you. So if you wish to continue this relationship, you had best be serious; I will not see him abandoned to heartbreak when our quest is through.”
“I’m not going to leave him!” Bilbo protested. “I care about your brother deeply and I intend to remain with him for as long as he allows.”
“Good. Then you need will need these,” Fíli replied, motioning to the swords slung on his back. “Kíli is a prince of Erebor – at least, he will be – and you cannot court him without a proper gift. A masterwork of your own making would be better but, given the circumstances, the spoils of battle will have to do instead. Give one sword to Kíli to prove your worth and one to Thorin so that our uncle will grant his blessing when you ask.”
With that, the dwarf grabbed Kíli's arm and tugged him forward, planting his brother before the unicorn.
“All right, Bilbo. Here’s your chance. If you want him, ask.”
When the hobbit met Kíli's eyes, the archer looked nervous but hopeful and Bilbo should have known exactly what to say. After all, he had been planning some variant of this speech ever since Kíli fell into Bag End. But now that the moment had come, Bilbo’s mind was blank. This was too important to mess up and the hobbit’s thoughts were scattered, his mind still reeling from the sudden shift in mood.
How exactly did I go from fighting trolls to proposing anyway?
“If you do not wish to court me, you don’t have to,” Kíli said when Bilbo had been quiet for too long. “Fíli means well, but he can be overbearing sometimes and I won't let him force you into anything.”
The archer seemed sincere – of course he was sincere – but he couldn't entirely hide his disappointment and that spark of dejection broke Bilbo's paralysis.
“No! Kíli, I do! I do. It’s just… before you decide whether or not to accept my courtship, there’s something you should know,” the hobbit stammered, his usual confidence forgotten in the face of Kíli's pain. He had known that they would need to have this conversation but he had not planned to have it with Fíli watching them. Still, Bilbo could hardly ask the other dwarf to leave at this point so he just soldiered on.
“As I told you before, I am a unicorn and while I am also a hobbit, the unicorn wins out on certain things. For example, you know how I don’t let most of your companions touch me?”
“Uh-huh. I assumed you didn’t like them.”
“Well, I admit that I’m not fond of your uncle, but that's not the reason why. Unicorns can only touch people with pure hearts, we’re drawn to them in fact, and that requirement for purity includes the physical.”
“Okay. But what does that have to do with courting me?”
“Well...” Bilbo paused, trying to think of a way to phrase things gracefully.
“He can only touch you because you’re a virgin, little brother,” Fíli explained with a laugh. “And courting usually leads to other things.”
“That is not how I was going to put it,” the hobbit said, glancing over at Fíli with a touch of irritation. “However, despite his bluntness, your brother is essentially correct. I can only touch you because you are chaste in mind and body. We can never lie together and while I would still love you if you slept with someone else, I wouldn't be able to hold you anymore. I can only offer you what I have given you already and that will not change if we are wed.”
“Oh… You really mean that?” Kíli asked, his voice sounding oddly hopeful to Bilbo’s ears.
“Good. That’s good. Because I don’t want to sleep with anyone. I’ve never wanted to,” the archer said, his smile brilliant as he stepped forward and took the hobbit’s hands. “What we have now is perfect and if you promise to love me and hold me for as long as you are able, that will be more than enough. That's all I’ve ever wanted and I would be honored to accept your courtship now.”
Bilbo had to hug his dwarf then. This was everything that he had hoped for when leaving Hobbiton; this was the kind of love that most unicorns only dreamed of finding in their lives. No wonder Kíli shone so brightly in the hobbit's mind.
“I’m happy for you, little brother,” Fíli said, smiling at the pair indulgently. He patted Kíli on the shoulder, careful not to touch the hobbit by accident, and Bilbo could almost forgive him for interrupting his cuddling again. “Of course, you’re lucky that I plan to have as many kids as possible to keep our mother satisfied.
“Now… before we break the news to uncle, you have to pick a sword. I vote the shorter one.”
While Kíli tested out both swords to see which one fit him better, Fíli tugged Bilbo a few feet away and murmured quietly, “Just so you know; I also buried some treasure in the cavern. Think of it as a wedding present since you waived your right to the Lonely Mountain’s gold. You can pick it up when you come back this way.”
“You want me and Kíli to return to Hobbiton?” Bilbo asked in surprise. He had assumed that he would be staying with the archer and his kin. “What about your family?”
“Trust me. I know my brother and Kíli will be much happier with you than as a prince of Erebor,” Fíli told him. “And I never said you couldn't visit. Hell, I plan to take full advantage of your hospitality whenever I need a break from uncle's moods.”
“All right,” Bilbo chuckled. “If your brother agrees then we'll go back to the Shire and you can hide from Thorin anytime you want.”
“Glad to hear it,” Fíli said, slapping Bilbo on the shoulder. “All right, little brother, which one will it be?”
“The shorter one, of course. I'm not an idiot,” Kíli replied, slinging the shorter blade across his back. Then the trio collected their ponies and led them back to camp, the other dwarves greeting their arrival with a mix of worry and relief.
“Where in Mahal's name have you been?” Thorin shouted, rushing over to his nephews.
“Bilbo killed some mountain trolls and wants to court my brother,” Fíli answered breezily, Kíli nodding sheepishly when his uncle looked at him.
The dwarf lord opened his mouth, probably to say something full of scathing disapproval given the expression on his face. But before he could, Bilbo grabbed the second blade from Fíli and shoved it in Thorin's hands.
“I'm not entirely sure how this works amongst your people,” the hobbit said rapidly. “Things are a lot simpler in Hobbiton. But please take this weapon as a measure of my love for your nephew and grant my suit your blessing; I truly wish to spend my life with him.”
“He does, uncle,” Kíli added as he pulled his own sword from its sheath. “This was our burglar's courting gift to me. He won it by right of battle with our enemies.”
“That... That is a fine blade,” Thorin said slowly, distracted from his disapproval by the weapon's quality. No smith could have missed the skill with which Kíli's blade was forged and the dwarf lord drew his own sword with shaking hands. He took three swings and then sheathed the blade again.
“All right. You have my blessing,” the dwarf said. “You might as well go kiss your bride.”
Bilbo didn't actually kiss Kíli, but he did go over and wrap an arm around his waist. The hobbit leaned up and whispered, “That went better than I expected. I thought your uncle hated me.”
“He does. But if he refused your courtship, he wouldn't get to keep the sword,” Fíli explained, walking up next to his brother and ruffling his hair. “There's no way uncle would let a weapon like that slip away.”
“Don't say that; it makes me feel like I bought him,” Bilbo groaned in protest. “Kíli is worth far more than a sword to me.”
“I know that, love. Don't worry,” Kíli murmured, pressing a kiss to the hobbit's cheek. “But there are conventions to these things and mother would have been furious if we didn't follow them. Besides, Thorin may be gruff but he does care about us. You should have seen him when one of the clanless started sniffing around Fíli a few years ago. That poor bastard is probably still running now.”
“I remember that. Uncle can be a bit too protective sometimes; I didn't even like the guy,” Fíli chuckled. “But Kíli's right; you shouldn't judge Thorin too harshly. He accepted the sword because it's a masterwork and my brother showed you favor but that doesn't mean he wouldn't slit your throat if you hurt him later on. Then it would be an honor killing and he could still wield your blade with pride.”
“I don't think I'll ever understand dwarves entirely,” Bilbo said, shaking his head in bemusement. However, as long as Kíli wasn't hurt by his uncle's actions then the hobbit saw no need to get offended by Thorin's skewed priorities. “But I suppose they are lovely swords if you like that sort of thing.”
This was, in fact, quite an understatement on Bilbo's part, although the burglar did not discover the true worth of his bounty until Thorin's company reached Rivendell. For when the dwarves sat down at Lord Elrond's table, the elf recognized the swords that Kíli and Thorin carried on their backs. Elrond named them Orcrist and Glamdring, two fabled blades of old, and his announcement was met with sighs of jealousy from elves and dwarves alike.
Bilbo’s own sword carried no such legacy but the hobbit didn’t mind. He was a unicorn not a warrior; his first instinct was to heal not slaughter and he was okay with that. Truthfully, Bilbo didn't care about winning gold or glory, all he cared about was Kíli, and judging by Thorin's reaction to Elrond's statement, no one would able to challenge his courtship now.
Chapter 4: A Romance Grows