Chapter 10: A Dragon Flies
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, hints of a couple others
Warnings: Can I warn for epic fluff?
Word Count: 2932 (28,110 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 5: A Mountain Shakes Chapter 9: A River Flows
Chapter 2: A Quest Begins Chapter 6: An Archer Dreams
Chapter 3: A Burglar Woos Chapter 7: A Company Walks
Chapter 4: A Romance Grows Chapter 8: A Hobbit Bargains
“So... What do we do now?” Kíli asked, setting down his last load of firewood. “Durin's Day isn't for another seven weeks.”
Indeed, Thorin's company had arrived at Erebor almost two months early and while setting up their camp had taken several hours, Bombur could only move his cook pot so many times before pronouncing himself satisfied.
“I guess we settle in and wait,” Fíli told his brother with a shrug. “If we find the right stone now then we'll be ready on Durin's Day.”
“We have food to last as long as we ration carefully,” Bofur agreed.
“And maybe Gandalf will come back,” Dori and Ori added. “It would be nice to have a wizard with us before we face the dragon.”
“Don't be silly; we don't need Gandalf,” Bilbo said. “And we certainly don't need to wait here for seven weeks. I mean, you're dwarves, aren't you? I know the gate is blocked but can't you just move the rubble? I don't need a giant opening.”
“You know... he has a point,” Dwalin told Thorin. “I could rig up a pulley on the side of the gate and have the largest chunks of rubble moved within the week.”
“That sounds like a decent plan,” Balin agreed. “We could keep the secret door as backup in case the rocks shift wrong.”
“I suppose it would be good to have an alternate escape route,” Thorin said grudgingly. “And the sooner Bilbo recovers the Arkenstone, the sooner we can all go home again. I do not relish a cold month sleeping on this mountainside and I can't wait to see Thranduil's face when we win victory. The smug old elven bastard thinks that we will die here but I plan to prove him wrong; he's going to choke on his damn disbelief.”
Great, uncle, just great, Fíli thought with a sigh. When did spiting Thranduil become the basis of our strategy?.
The dwarf loved his uncle, he really did, but this was ridiculous. Their quest had seemed so simple back in the Shire; indeed, the trip had seemed like a grand adventure the way that Gandalf framed it and hiring a thief had appeared like the most brilliant scheme. Fíli had even enjoyed the journey for the most part – sure there had been dangers, but none truly threatening.
However, now that the company was here, the dwarf was far from confident about their chances of success. While Bilbo had become a friend, no amount of unicorn magic would make him a burglar and Fíli didn't want to see him hurt. He was worried about Bilbo and he was worried about his brother because Kíli would be devastated if the hobbit died in this attempt. The pair of them might be sickeningly cute together, but Fíli would prefer gagging on their sweetness to patching up his brother's broken heart.
Honestly, if his uncle hadn't been so set on going home, Fíli might have tried to stop this. Let Smaug have Erebor and all its treasures; the dwarf didn't need to be a prince and he liked Ered Luin just fine. But Thorin would never turn aside at this juncture and Bilbo didn't seem inclined to run away.
So with Thorin's permission granted, the dwarf lord's companions began to clear the stone away from Erebor's blocked gates. Bilbo had never seen such structures before – even bent and blackened, the gates were beautiful, their twisted remnants towering far above the plain. The hobbit would have to return to the Lonely Mountain someday, bring Kíli home to visit once Erebor had been restored.
“Are you excited, love?” Bilbo asked the archer. “I know you've been hearing stories about this place for years.”
“I don't know. I am and yet I'm worried,” Kíli told him with a sigh. “What if Smaug wakes up while you're in the mountain or uncle raises up his army and then the dragon kills them all? I want you and me to get our happy ending but there's so much that could go wrong...”
“Hey now, none of that,” the hobbit chided gently. “We're gonna be all right. I have no intention of being eaten by a dragon and your uncle does have some sense beneath all that majestic hair. If this first plan doesn't work – and I admit it's not the greatest – then we'll figure something out. I am a unicorn.”
“You know, that doesn't actually solve everything,” the archer replied, quirking his lips into a grin. “And this is all your fault anyway. I used to run off without thinking and let Fíli pick up the pieces but I've never had this much to lose before.”
“So you're growing up a bit,” Bilbo said, smiling at Kíli. “That doesn't mean you can't still be adventurous. I'll watch out for you and you can watch out for me and we'll muddle through somehow. However, if you're that worried, why don't you come with me? We'll sneak into Erebor together and be the first to see your family's fabled halls. I want to share that with you, whatever happens afterward.”
“I think I'd like that,” Kíli told him. “I think that I'd go crazy sitting out here wondering.”
“Good, then it's decided,” the hobbit replied. “You're coming with me and that's that.”
So when the dwarves had finally cleared a passage through the gates, Kíli and Bilbo both made ready, the archer sharpening his sword and checking every arrow to ensure it would fly straight. Then he took the hobbit's hand and they walked forward to enter Erebor.
“What do you think you're doing, nephew?” Thorin asked, blocking Kíli's way.
“I'm going with him, uncle.”
“No. You are not. It's much too dangerous,” the dwarf lord sputtered. “Stealing from the dragon is the job of our burglar and I won't have you risk our own life needlessly. Bilbo here is good at disappearing; if he can travel invisibly with our company for hours, Smaug shouldn't even notice his presence when he grabs the Arkenstone.”
“... Are you serious?”
After Kíli's exclamation, there was dead silence for a moment as Thorin looked at his nephew quizzically. But then Nori leaned and loudly whispered in Dwalin's ear, “Well, I guess Bilbo wins the bet then; he put his gold on never a few weeks ago. Sometimes I worry about the future of this kingdom.”
“That's why we're here. Thorin looks pretty for the paintings and we keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes,” the other dwarf replied, trying not to laugh.
Fíli overheard Dwalin and let out a snicker of his own before reaching out to poke his brother in the side. Kíli startled, snapping his mouth shut and pretending that he hadn't just been gaping at his uncle's stupidity.
“Right. Like I was saying... I am entering Erebor with Bilbo. It may be dangerous but he is my fiancé and I won't let him go alone,” Kíli told the dwarf lord firmly. “If I'm old enough to get married then I'm old enough for this.”
Thorin wanted to protest – his nephew would never be old enough to fight a dragon – but he recognized the stubborn look on the archer's face. Kíli had never liked being told how he should live and indeed, he often did the opposite just to prove he could. So, after a long moment of consideration, the dwarf lord sighed, “All right, lad. I guess you win. Even if I forbid this, you'll just sneak in anyway. But please be careful and remember that fleeing is sometimes the better part of valor; we'll be waiting by the gate here just in case.”
“Thank you, uncle,” Kíli beamed, his stern expression breaking into a brilliant grin. He bounced forward to embrace the dwarf lord tightly, waiting until Thorin returned his hug before letting go again.
“Don't worry too much,” the archer said, turning to his brother. “We'll be back in a flash.”
“Of course I'll worry, you idiot,” Fíli replied, pulling Kíli into a fierce hug of his own. “But whatever happens, I'm still proud of you. My little brother is growing up before my eyes.”
The dwarf ruffled Kíli's hair and then released him, pushing the archer toward Bilbo who had been listening to this exchange with a fond smile on his face. Watching his beloved was always enjoyable, watching him stand up for himself was even better, and watching him stand up to Thorin with confidence was a positive delight.
“Let's go, Bilbo,” Kíli said, taking the hobbit's hand again. His face was red from a combination of Fíli's praise and the thumbs up that Nori gave him, but there was a proud little spring in his step as he walked up to the gates.
Kíli and Bilbo climbed the rubble and squeezed through the narrow passage that Dwalin had created, leaving behind the sunshine for the dusty gloom of Erebor. Even in the near dark, Kíli could see the bones of grandeur all around them, tattered tapestries and statues lining the entrance hall while high arching ceilings rose far above his head. His ancestors had built to last and even a dragon's fury had not destroyed their masterwork, though Smaug's claws had left deep gouges in the floor.
“We're the first people to walk these halls in decades, Bilbo. Can you believe that?” the archer whispered as he looked around. “Everything feels frozen, like they all left just yesterday.”
“The Lonely Mountain has been waiting for her children,” the unicorn replied, his own voice hushed in deference. “Soon this kingdom will live again, ringing with the sound of hammers and warmed by furnaces. There will be young dwarrowlings raised within these caverns, a whole new generation born in Erebor's embrace, and their laughter will echo brightly from the walls.”
“I hope you're right,” Kíli answered. “I really do.”
“Of course I am, you'll see. Smaug's time in Erebor is done,” Bilbo told him with a quick flash of grin. “In fact, we may be able to resolve this whole mess peacefully.”
“Now that would be a miracle,” Kíli replied. “Although, if anyone could pull it off, I suppose it would be you. Still, I think I'll keep my bow at the ready just in case.”
“That's probably a good idea. If things go wrong, I'll be glad to have an archer at my back,” Bilbo agreed, patting the archer on the shoulder. “Now, which way to the dragon, love?”
“Well, the treasure chamber should be in that direction according to the stories,” the dwarf told him, pointing deeper into the mountain. “And I'd wager Smaug is there.”
Kíli couldn't deny that he was nervous as he and Bilbo climbed the stairs, making their way into the heart of Erebor. His bow seemed a fragile weapon with which to face a monster out of legend, particularly when there was far more than his own life on the line. However, Kíli refused to show his fear or allow his hands to tremble; the dwarf was here to protect his beloved and he was going to do exactly that.
Even so, his nerves were wound tight by the time the stairs opened up into an enormous treasure chamber, hills of gold stretching as far as he could see. Kíli had never imagined such wealth – his wildest dreams had barely scratched the surface – and for a moment the archer could not breathe.
His life would have been so different if Smaug had never attacked the Lonely Mountain; he and Fíli would have been princes in truth instead of only name. Maybe their mother wouldn't look so worn by hard work and deprivation and their uncle would be known for smiling rather than his frowns. Maybe their father wouldn't have died plying his trade in the Northlands one hard cold winter and Kíli would have more than a vague memory of that cheerful face.
But even as the archer wondered, he shook the thought away. While Kíli might have been born a prince in some other lifetime, the idea of being bound by rules and dignity made him feel rather faint. Besides, the dwarf might never have met Bilbo without the quest for Erebor and he wouldn't trade his hobbit for all the gold in Middle Earth.
So Kíli took one last look at his family's treasure and then he put it from his mind. The gemstones might be pretty but as soon as Thorin had his kingdom, the archer was heading back to Hobbiton. Second breakfast and lazy cuddles seemed like a much better way to live.
“Do you see Smaug or the Arkenstone?” Kíli asked. “Supposedly the King's Jewel glows so it shouldn't be too hard to find.”
“Seriously? It glows?” Bilbo whispered back incredulously. “You'd think someone would have mentioned that before. But no, I don't see anything except a whole lot of treasure. I don't know how Thorin expects me to find one tiny gemstone in this great bloody mess.”
“Mum says Thrór kept his treasure organized, every jewel cross-referenced by hue and carat size. Maybe uncle thought that Smaug would do the same?”
“Well, clearly not,” the hobbit replied before sighing heavily. “All right, I guess there's nothing for it. We'll just have to start looking and hope luck is on our side. Tell me if you see a glowing gemstone or a giant fire drake.”
Kíli wasn't sure how long he and Bilbo wandered through the endless sea of treasure, coins and baubles shifting underfoot. But the archer was just leaning down to check yet another gem for signs of glowing when something rippled in the corner of his eye. He snapped upright, his bow nocked and ready as he searched for a target in the gloom. Yet there was nothing to be seen, only more gold and gleaming treasure, and eventually Kíli released his draw again.
You're jumping at shadows, the dwarf told himself with a shake of his head. You need to get a grip.
He was about to return to helping Bilbo when there was another movement, a handful of coins suddenly sliding toward his boots. A great rolling motion rippled through the gold as though it were breathing, and Kíli stopped dead in his tracks as he realized what this meant. Smaug was here, buried in his family's treasure, and the dwarf could barely comprehend the dragon's size as what had seemed like random piles suddenly took on dangerous shape.
“Bilbo!” Kíli hissed, looking around for his hobbit wildly. He was kneeling a few meters away, hands pressed to the gold only inches from the dragon's snout, and the archer swore that his heart skipped a beat.
“Bilbo, don't move!” he warned, starting toward the unicorn with some vague idea of pulling him to safety – as though any place in this mountain could be safe from such a beast.
“It's okay, my dear. You can put your bow away,” Bilbo replied with a wide smile. “Smaug isn't going to hurt you. He can't hurt you or me. I was right and so we're just going to have a little chat about proper manners and eating relatives.”
“What are you talking about?”
The hobbit seemed far too unconcerned by their current situation and Kíli had a sudden burst of sympathy for all his relatives. No wonder Fíli kept threatening to tie their hands together and Thorin blamed him for the grey streaks in his beard. If the dwarf survived this, he owed them both apologies.
“Bilbo?! What are you doing?!”
Kíli watched in disbelief as his beloved picked up a handful of gold coins and threw them at the dragon, aiming roughly where his eyes should be. The coins landed with a clatter, the sound ricocheting loudly off the walls. Then there was silence and the dwarf was about to breathe a sigh of relief when Smaug erupted from the treasure with a roar.
“Who dares to disturb my slumber?” the dragon bellowed, rearing up and up and up until his wings brushed against the ceiling. “Who dares to challenge me?”
“My name is Bilbo Baggins and I am not here to fight,” the hobbit shouted back. “I am here to tell you that the dwarves of Erebor are returning to their homeland. By right of blood and kinship, you will grant this boon to me.”
“And how do you claim kinship with a creature such as me?” Smaug laughed. “Why should I grant you anything when I could simply eat you now?”
“Well, if you stopped your posturing for one quick second and actually listened to your senses, you wouldn't need to ask,” Bilbo replied as Kíli stood gaping, frozen in shock by the hobbit's audacity. He couldn't move even when his beloved shifted briefly, one tiny unicorn glaring at the dragon fearlessly before he changed back again. “I'm a unicorn.”
“So you are,” Smaug rumbled, lowering himself gracefully onto his bed of gold. “Blood of my blood and distant kin indeed. I suppose that I must listen, though that does not mean I will agree. Unless you have brought that virgin here in payment. All this gold is beautiful but it does not smell so sweet; the true treasure of my heart is one that lives and breathes.”
“This virgin is mine, thank you, and thus your kin as well; you would do well to keep your desires to yourself,” the hobbit retorted fiercely. Then he turned to his beloved and smiled sheepishly, “Kíli, I'd like you to meet my great-great-great-half-uncle: Smaug the Terrible.”
Chapter 11: A Gemstone Glows