Chapter 11: A Gemstone Glows
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, hints of a couple others
Warnings: Can I warn for epic fluff?
Word Count: 3205 (31,315 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. Unicorn!Smaug and some alternates.
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 10: A Dragon Flies
Chapter 3: A Burglar Woos Chapter 7: A Company Walks
Chapter 4: A Romance Grows Chapter 8: A Hobbit Bargains
“I'm sorry, but what?!”
“I don't know all the details,” Bilbo explained as Kíli gaped at his beloved and Smaug watched them both with open curiosity. “But supposedly Arabelle, my great-great-great-grandmother, fell for a dragon in her youth and she told my ancestors to call upon the children of that union if they ever needed help. Smaug was the elder, a dragon of fiery scales and unbridled fury, while his younger sister was an ice drake named Evarel. None of my relatives ever tried to find them, but we've been passing down the story since Arabelle left the Shire and I recognized the description when your uncle hired me.”
“You are close to the truth, little cousin, though I never expected to meet another of my kindred,” Smaug rumbled, bending his enormous head to look Bilbo in the eye. “Halflings always seemed like such small and fragile creatures; I assumed your bloodline had been hunted to extinction long ago.”
“We are tougher than we look,” Bilbo replied, meeting the dragon's gaze as best he could. “And my magic is no weaker for the compactness of my form.”
“I suppose you must be strong to have reached this mountain from the Westlands,” Smaug chuckled. “And I do not doubt your courage either. Only the truly brave or truly foolish make demands of dragons and you could not have been certain of our kinship until recently.”
“But if you're a unicorn, how could you destroy Dale and attack the Lonely Mountain?” Kíli asked in bafflement. “Bilbo says that unicorns can't hurt innocents.”
“I am sure that Bilbo says many things,” the dragon hissed scornfully. “But the halfling knows only what has been passed down within his family and you will learn that legends do not always speak the truth. While unicorns are light incarnate, being good and being kind do not always go together and so few souls are truly innocent these days. I could probably slaughter every dwarf outside this mountain and barely blink an eye.”
“You will not hurt the Sons of Durin. They are under my protection as the kindred of my heart,” Bilbo growled fiercely, the horn on his forehead flashing bright.
“You malign me, cousin,” Smaug replied, brushing off the hobbit's threat dismissively. “I merely wished to prove a point to your pretty virgin there. In truth, I killed only half a dozen warriors when I took this kingdom and their hearts were black as sin. Everyone else ran like cowards from my fangs and fire and the stories that they carried have let me sleep in peace.”
“And what of those who died on the road or from their injuries?”
“Those dwarves are not my problem,” the dragon retorted. “I was called to this mountain by the evil in its heart; if Thrór did not want to suffer then he should have tossed the gemstone back into the deeps.”
“Do you mean the Arkenstone?” Kíli asked. “I have never heard that it was evil.”
“Because no one wishes to believe the worst of something beautiful,” Smaug told him, a shining jewel appearing in his claws. “This gem was cursed. It bred greed and sickness in anyone who saw it and even if I had not come, Erebor would have fallen soon enough. Your kingdom would have crumbled as Thrór fell into madness, the blood of his people flowing like rivers on the plain. Your kindred should be thanking me for the service that I've done.”
“Yeah... I don't think that's gonna happen.”
“You cannot truly expect the dwarves of Erebor to be grateful,” Bilbo said. “You could have purified the Arkenstone without forcing them to leave.”
“Perhaps,” Smaug acknowledged with a sinuous shrug. “But I am as much a dragon as I am a unicorn. You could not expect me to overlook such a hoard as this. I deserve to complete my work in comfort, do I not?”
“Your work is done,” the hobbit replied. “Whatever evil once lived within that gemstone, I cannot feel it now. Take what you must as compensation but give the Lonely Mountain back.”
“And if I don't?” Smaug asked with a sneer. “Our shared blood does not give you the right to command my actions and you cannot beat me in a fight. I go where I will and do what I wish; I am Smaug the Terrible and no can defy me, particularly not one midget unicorn.”
“Well, I never,” Bilbo huffed. “Didn't your mother teach you any manners?”
“Dragon, remember? I don't have to be polite.”
“Fine. Then I guess the gloves come off. Leave this mountain or be overrun by dwarrows, a thousand tiny warriors who aren't remotely virginal. You won't be able to touch them, you won't be able to eat them, and I won't let you threaten anyone,” Bilbo snarled, jabbing his finger at the dragon. “And if that's not bad enough, I'll stay right here with Kíli so that you can feel him and want him and never ever have him because this dwarf is mine and mine alone. Stay here and I'll ensure that you never find a virgin of your own. So tell me, cousin, is this golden treasure worth that much to you?”
The hobbit finished his rant and trailed off panting, Kíli's fingers tightening on his bow as he waited for the dragon to react. Smaug was watching Bilbo with wide-eyed consternation and indeed, it had been a long time since anyone had dared to speak to him like that.
“You truly are a vicious little creature, aren't you?” Smaug said finally, both Kíli and Bilbo relaxing slightly at the admiration in his voice. “And I will admit that I grow bored of posturing sometimes. It can be difficult to balance both sides of my nature and I crave a proper fight. I miss the days when good and evil existed in stark contrast and I could drench my claws in blood without paying such a cost.”
“Then go to Dol Guldur.”
“Dol Guldur is the answer to your problem,” the hobbit explained. “It is a fortress filled with orcs and goblins and I've heard rumors of a necromancer in its deepest halls. Anything you find there will be evil to the core. So let them feel your fury and when your wrath is sated, you will have a fortress of your own.”
“I am listening,” the dragon replied. “Where is this place of which you speak?”
“In Mirkwood, far to the north and the west from what I have been told,” Bilbo continued. “Outside the boundaries of Thranduil's kingdom and close to the Misty Mountains should you ever feel the need for goblin flesh again.”
“There is mithril in those mountains,” Kíli added, trying to strengthen his beloved's argument. “Mithril, gold, and other treasures from the time of Khazad-dûm.”
“You could build a new hoard, a better hoard,” the hobbit said, building on these details. “One filled with silver steel and cradled upon the bones of enemies. With Erebor restored, there will be trade traveling across the mountains and perhaps you will find your virgin in a merchant caravan. You would certainly have a better shot in Dol Guldur than you will inside this mountain, sleeping your life away with nothing but these cold gems for company.”
“Enough, cousin,” Smaug said, stopping Bilbo when he paused for breath. “I will accept your offer if only to have some peace again. But I will not leave Erebor empty-handed. That is too much to ask.”
“Well... I don't actually have the authority to give you any treasure.”
“I do. He can have my share,” Kíli interrupted before the deal could fall apart. Thorin would be furious but there was gold to spare and the archer refused to miss this opportunity. “We'll rig you up a giant bag full if you just leave tonight. Take whatever gems you want to start your hoard in Dol Guldur.”
“Except the Arkenstone,” Bilbo amended. “I was contracted to retrieve that jewel for Thorin and I'm gonna need it back.”
“Fine. Whatever,” Smaug snorted dismissively. He tossed the gem to Bilbo and then reared up on his hind legs to tear a pennant from the walls. “Help me load this cloth with treasure and we can call our business done.”
It took several hours before the dragon was satisfied with his portion of the treasure, a king's ransom in gold and gemstones bundled together carefully. He rejected any jewel that wasn't perfect and any coin that wasn't round and Kíli was ready to tear his hair out with frustration by the time that were done. But eventually Smaug lifted his makeshift bag of treasure and slithered his way toward the southern battlements.
Bilbo and Kíli followed, wanting to ensure that the dragon kept his word. Although, truthfully, there was something else weighing on the archer's mind and as Smaug climbed onto the ramparts, Kíli's curiosity got the better of his self-control.
“Wait!” the dwarf called. “Before you leave, can I see your other form?”
Smaug's head swung back to look at Kíli, pinning the archer beneath one amber eye, and for a moment he thought that he'd ruined everything. But then the dragon smiled toothily.
“For you, my lovely virgin, yes. I will show you my true magnificence and you will dream of me. You will see that I am the most gorgeous creature in all of Middle Earth and if you ever tire of living with my lesser cousin, you know where I shall be.”
Smaug set down his treasure and then began to shimmer as a great rush of wind nearly knocked Kíli from his feet. When he'd recovered, the dragon was gone and a blood red unicorn was standing in his place. Like Bilbo, Smaug's heritage bled through the transformation but that was the end of their similarities. For while Smaug also had a spiral horn upon his forehead, he had two more horns as well and no mane or tail to speak of. There were wings upon his back, too small with which to fly but mirroring the clawed webbing of the dragon he had been. Smaug was both strange and beautiful, like an intricately detailed painting that Kíli didn't dare to touch, and the dwarf was almost relieved when he shifted back again.
“Goodbye, cousin. You may visit if you wish to and your virgin comes along,” the dragon told Bilbo with a wink. Then Smaug grasped his bag of treasure and leaped into the sky.
“Do you think he's really gone?” Kíli asked, watching the fire drake until he'd disappeared behind the clouds. “This seems rather anticlimactic somehow, like our quest should have ended with flame and fury and a bloodstained arrow in my hands.”
“Trust me, this is better. Any hobbit will tell you that the best way to solve a conflict is with pointed words and a good cup of tea, none of that mucking about with swords and injuries,” Bilbo replied. “Erebor is free now. Smaug gave his word and a promise is something that every unicorn holds dear. He will not return unless invited even if he chooses not to stay in Dol Guldur and I rather doubt your uncle will ever ask the dragon back.”
No, that does seem unlikely,” the archer agreed with a laugh. “And if it really is over, there's something I need to say. Bilbo...”
“Next time, tell me when you've got something crazy planned,” Kíli ordered, smacking the hobbit on the shoulder. “I thought that you'd lost your mind when you woke the dragon up.”
“Sorry, darling,” the hobbit apologized. “I didn't want to get your hopes up if I turned out to be wrong but I should have told you once I knew for sure. I was showing off again.”
“Yes, you were. What if I had tried to shoot Smaug and ruined everything?”
Bilbo winced. “It won't happen again. Forgive me?”
“Of course I forgive you. I'll always forgive your showing off as long as you forgive my recklessness,” Kíli replied, throwing an arm around the hobbit's shoulders. “We'll keep each other honest and get better inch by inch. Now, come on. The others must have noticed Smaug's departure and my brother is probably freaking out.”
Indeed, the dwarf was greeted by an ear-splitting, “Dammit, Kíli! I thought you died in there!” when he and Bilbo walked back to the gates, Fíli nearly taking all three of them down as he slammed into his brother at full speed. “What the hell happened?”
“An explanation would be welcome,” Thorin agreed, following more sedately in his nephew's wake. “How did you make Smaug leave the mountain and will he be coming back?”
“Well... that's really Bilbo's story,” Kíli said, looking at his hobbit. “But we don't have to worry about the dragon anymore.”
“Smaug's a relative,” Bilbo told Thorin with a shrug. “And we had a little chat. He's flown off to conquer Dol Guldur instead.”
“I... you... what... ?!” the dwarf lord stuttered, gaping at his burglar in shock. Bilbo had to bite back a smirk at his expression; although, to be fair, the rest of his companions were just as confused right now.
“How could you possibly be related?” Fíli asked when his uncle showed no signs of recovering.
“He's my great-great-great-half-uncle and part unicorn as well,” Bilbo explained. “Which means that Smaug can't hurt me or anyone that I call kindred. All of Durin's Folk are off limits due to my relationship with Kíli and it was pretty easy to convince him to move on after that. I can't imagine why, but the thought of living with a bunch of dwarrows underfoot made the dragon cringe. So with a little bit of gold to sweeten the deal, Smaug was willing to leave the Lonely Mountain. And I doubt he'd even eat you if you went by Dol Guldur.”
“You gave away my treasure?!” Thorin shouted, finding his voice at last.
“Just a little. Trust me, you'll barely notice,” the hobbit replied, waving his hand dismissively. “And I got your pretty rock back, which was all you paid me for.”
“I didn't pay you anything.”
“Exactly. So you can hardly complain about my methods, can you?” Bilbo snorted, reaching into his tunic and pulling out the Arkenstone. He tossed the gem to Thorin, the dwarf falling silent at the sight of the King's Jewel. “Don't worry about the dragon. Just be happy that you've reclaimed your homeland and your people won't have to wander anymore.”
“Our quest is truly over?” Thorin asked quietly. “This isn't some cruel trick on the dragon's part?”
“No. It is no trick,” the hobbit promised. “Smaug gave me his word. Your kin are safe now and will be forevermore.”
“Because you plan to marry Kíli?”
“Well, yeah, I guess so.”
“Then you must be wed this instant,” the dwarf lord pronounced. “Balin! Dori! Come here. Find these two some proper clothes and give them vows to read. We will have a wedding now so that Smaug can't change his mind.”
“Really?” Bilbo asked in surprise. “But I thought you hated me?”
“Are you kidding? You sent Smaug to live in Mirkwood. You're my favorite nephew now,” Thorin cackled. “Thranduil is going to pitch a fit when he finds out what happened here.”
“There's just one small problem, uncle,” Kíli interrupted.
“Mother will kill the both of us if I get married now,” the archer said, his brother nodding in agreement at his side.
“All three of us,” Fíli corrected.
“Right... you have a point,” Thorin conceded, wincing at the thought of his sister's icy wrath. Dís was all about slow revenge, striking when the original insult was long forgotten by everyone but her. Indeed, the dwarf lord was still paying for things he'd said in the past decade and the last thing he wanted to do was add another tally mark. “Fine, the wedding can wait until your mother joins us. But Bilbo isn't going anywhere until the two of you are married. I want him here to explain in case Smaug decides to visit and wonders why you haven't tied the knot.”
“That's all right with me,” the hobbit shrugged. “I'll need to send a message home so no one declares me dead, but I don't really want to cross the Misty Mountains in the winter anyway. As long as Kíli agrees, we'll leave for the Shire in the spring.”
“Of course, I don't mind. This way you get to meet my mother,” Kíli said excitedly. “Although, did no one think that I planned to stay here? I could be a prince if I really wanted to.”
“Don't be silly.”
“Sure you could.”
“I tried to bet on this weeks ago, but Nori wouldn't take it.”
“Because it's too damn obvious.”
“But Bag End was so nice.”
“Did you want to stay?” Thorin asked, talking over his companions. “You will always have a place here, but I assumed that you'd be happier living quietly with Bilbo than dealing with a court full of dwarven nobles. You've always hated politics.”
“Well, I do,” Kíli admitted. “But I would have done my duty if you asked.”
“We know that, little brother,” Fíli told him. “That's why we haven't. Go live your life the way you want to. I'll be doing just the same.”
“If you're sure, you diplomatic weirdo. But you had better write me lots of letters,” the archer ordered. “And come visit when you can. Also, tell me if you need me. You know that I'll come back.”
“Both of us,” Bilbo promised, smiling at Fíli. “It never hurts to have a unicorn.”
The dwarf let out a bark of laughter and clapped the hobbit on the shoulder. “It's a deal. You visit me and I'll visit you and between us we'll turn that little pathway into a proper thoroughfare. Maybe Smaug will even come along someday.”
“Lord, I hope not,” Thorin muttered, but he was smiling.
“Wonderful, that's settled then,” Bombur said, clapping his hands together cheerfully. “Which means it's time for supper. If everyone follows me to the kitchens, I'll make a pot of stew. I've been saving something special for this moment since our quest began. Three cheers for our burglar and the return of Erebor.”
“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”
“Three cheers for unicorns!”
The halls echoed loudly with the sound of dwarven voices, words and laughter bouncing from the stone. And the Lonely Mountain stood a little taller, her gems shone a little brighter in the darkness, for Erebor and her children were no longer parted; Thorin's people had come home.
Chapter 12: A Story Ends