Title: Mahal's Blessing
Chapter 4: In Which a Dragon Finds His Heart
Pairings: Azog/Fíli & Smaug/Kíli/Bilbo
Rating/Warnings: some violence, dragons being dragonsWord Count: 4150 (18,209 total so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit no one would die
Summary: Fíli and Kíli are soul-mates, but have different names over their hearts.
In Which Mahal Makes a Choice
In Which Soulmates Are Not Lovers
In Which Flowers Are a Language
In Which Defiling is Done
The Lonely Mountain was really quite foreboding, its peak looming high above the small party camped upon the lower reaches. They had been there for days already as they searched for the kingdom's hidden door, days in which the gloom never seemed to lift.
Even Azog's wargs appeared to have lost their spirits, though that may have been the lack of prey for them to chase or the strange rumbling that would sometimes shake the ground. Thorin swore that these must be earthquakes for he refused to believe that Smaug still lived, and maybe he was right.
Or maybe, Bilbo thought as he stared up at the mountain's peak, Maybe it's the dragon.
Indeed the second tug on Kíli's heart had grown stronger with every mile that they traveled, and the brothers were relatively sure that Fíli's theory must be right. Which meant that if Smaug was still residing within the Lonely Mountain, he was unlikely to eat the hobbit, unless he decided that he didn't want to share.
Do I want to share? The hobbit wondered as he scratched his warg absently on the head. Bilbo had grown used to the idea over the course of their journey, but now that he was standing here with Erebor before him, he was starting to have his doubts.
Not that Smaug would hurt his dwarf, because watching Azog with Fíli had destroyed any fear of that, but rather that there would be no place for Bilbo anymore. His old insecurities bubbled up within him and he wondered what a hobbit could offer to a family that Mahal bound to orcs and dragons.
There was a noise behind him and Bilbo turned to see Kíli heading toward him, a smile on his face. “I've been looking for you,” the dwarf said as he wrapped one arm around the hobbit, kissing him in greeting. “Nori found the door- or at least what we're pretty sure is the door, so uncle's called everyone back. He wants to go over the plan for tomorrow.”
“Oh. That's good to hear,” Bilbo answered weakly, pasting on a smile. However, he must have let something slip because Kíli's grin dropped and the dwarf frowned down at him in concern.
“Are you all right? I know we hired you as our burglar but you don't have to do this, not alone.”
But Bilbo only nodded and shoved his doubts down harder. “I'm fine, just a bit nervous maybe. And of course I have to do this, you know I'm the best at sneaking around. Besides what if you came with me and Smaug isn't your kurdulganaz? He might decide to eat us both, Fíli would freak out and then Thorin would probably goad Azog into killing everyone.”
Kíli didn't seem entirely convinced but he allowed Bilbo to lead him back to camp and the hobbit was thankful for he did not want his fears to impede his dwarf from being happy. He only listened with half an ear as Thorin explained what he thought was the plan- they had decided not to tell him of Smaug and Kíli's bond until required- instead going over his own scheme for the morrow.
However, as the hobbit lay curled in Kíli's arms that night, he was afraid to sleep in case this was the last time he ever felt so whole. While Bilbo was determined to do his part despite his insecurities, he did not know what he would do if all his fears proved right.
If Smaug refused to share and Kíli chose the dragon over him, the hobbit did not think that he could bear to go back to his solitary existence. Not now that he knew the taste of Kíli's lips, the feel of his skin, and the joy of a reunited heart. So Bilbo prayed desperately that things would either turn out all right, or that Smaug would kill him and spare him that endless pain.
Somehow the hobbit managed to fall asleep and keep up his facade of happiness over the long course of Durin's Day. Bilbo could tell that Kíli did not entirely believe it, though he was careful to only allow positive emotions through their bond, but the prince was kept busy with preparations and could not question the hobbit more.
So eventually, the last light fell, a lock clicked open and Bilbo found himself before a long passage disappearing into the dark. Kíli reminded him one more time that he did not have to do this, but when the hobbit stood firm, the dwarf kissed him fiercely in farewell. Then Bilbo turned back to face the entrance and was just gathering his courage to step forward when a hand grabbed his wrist and he was pulled back into Kíli's arms.
“What? What are you doing, love? I have to go.” The hobbit asked in confusion, but the dwarf just hugged him tighter.
“Not until you listen to me. You've been thinking something weird all day and I don't like it.” Kíli muttered into his hair. “So you better come back Bilbo Baggins, you hear me? You are not expendable in the least, not to me.”
At these words, the hobbit felt his heart swell and he wondered in astonishment how the young dwarf always knew just what to say. But I guess that's why he's the one for me, Bilbo thought as he finally returned Kíli's embrace and let himself believe that this would not be the end.
“All right, I promise.” He said, smiling up at the dwarf. “But now I really do have to go, because I have a dragon to fetch.”
Kíli released him reluctantly but this time allowed a much happier Bilbo to walk through the secret door, vanishing into the passage and out of sight.
It was low and dark within the tunnel, though there were torch brackets on the wall that showed where light once stood. However, the torches had long since crumbled into dust, so Bilbo waited only until he rounded a curve before putting on his ring and using its strange distorted vision to find his path.
As the hobbit continued down the passage, he saw a faint reddish glow at the other end and as it brightened there grew a scent of brimstone and metal, like the aftermath of lightning on a stormy winter night. Finally Bilbo ran into a dead end, another secret door with light bleeding through around its edges, and he spared a moment to hope his ring worked on dragons before pushing it open and slipping through the crack.
He found himself in an enormous treasure hall, large enough to fit nearly all of Hobbiton inside and filled to the brim with gold and jewels. However, Bilbo did not see Smaug until there was a rush of wind and a shower of coins slid down the largest hill, revealing part of the dragon's snout. He was buried almost completely beneath the treasure, but even so the hobbit had to stop for a moment and marvel at Smaug's sheer breathtaking size.
That is going to be interesting if he is the one we seek, the hobbit mused as he crept closer. But at least he's kind of pretty in a sleek and dangerous way.
The magic of the ring washed most of the color from the world so Bilbo could not see the brilliant richness of the dragon's glittering scales. However, it also brought details into greater focus and the hobbit could see every razor-sharp inch of Smaug's fangs and claws.
Mad, mad Baggins. The things you do for love, he thought as he crept forward on silent feet, trying to get a clear view of the fire-drake's chest and discover if he truly was Kíli's second kurdulganaz. But when Bilbo circled around he found that Smaug's body was still buried and he could not see the dragon's heart.
While the hobbit stood there in consternation, trying to decide what he should do, he did not notice Smaug crack open one reptilian eye. Strange scent, strange new scent. Not like the old echoes of dwarves within these halls. Probably a thief, it's always thieves who try to steal my gold. The drake's thoughts were sluggish at first as he rose from his long slumber. Trying to steal my precious treasure. Precious, but such a poor exchange for what was promised. This though, this is intriguing.
The expectation of something different, something to break the boredom of his long centuries within the mountain had fire once again burning through the dragon's veins and he tracked the intruder carefully. Although Smaug could not see the thief due to some foul magic, the drake could hear the soft slide of disturbed gold beneath his feet and he could smell him in the air.
It was the scent that frustrated the dragon because while it was unfamiliar, there was something enticing on the air that made Smaug feel as if his long wait might be coming to an end. Yet despite this, the invisible burglar did nothing interesting; he did not even try to steal anything for the drake would have heard the clink of treasure filling greedy pockets.
After nearly five minutes of this tedium, Smaug finally decided to take matters into his own claws and struck as fast as lightning. The thief shrieked as the dragon's great hand slammed down over him and he rumbled in amusement at the other's fear.
“I cannot see you little thief, but I know that you are there. I can hear you breathing and your steps across my gold. I can smell your terror and yo-.” Smaug taunted his prey gleefully, hissing at the hidden form within his claws. However, when the intruder's scent floated across his tongue again, the drake finally recognized the trace that called out to him and his games were fast forgotten.
Instead Smaug's eyes narrowed and he bellowed in anger as he shook the one within his claws. “Tell me burglar, tell me why you smell like the jewel of my heart.”
There was no answer at first, just shuddering breaths and the stink of fear, but when the dragon let fire spill from his teeth, the other finally stammered a response. “Wait! What jewel?”
“The jewel of my heart. The one I have been waiting for.” Smaug growled in annoyance. “But I find that I am tired of waiting, so tell me where to find the one I seek.”
To the dragon's surprise the scent of fear suddenly diminished and his prisoner appeared again within his claws. The thief was a small creature, even shorter than a dwarf, but despite his soft appearance his voice was calm as he replied.
“It seems we have a lot to talk about. But if I were to say that this jewel of your heart was a dwarf, what exactly would you do to him then? I would not see him harmed.”
“Harm him?” Smaug was insulted at the very thought. “I would not harm him, even if he is a dwarf. He will be my greatest treasure and I have been waiting a lifetime to cherish him as he deserves.”
“Oh good.” The burglar sighed with relief, before finally introducing himself. “Bilbo Baggins at your service and I can bring you to Kíli very soon...There's just one more thing.” He winced at the snarl this provoked and continued hurriedly. “How do you feel about sharing?”
“Sharing?! Sharing with who? Who dares to claim the one who is mine?” Smaug roared in fury, dragging himself free of his gold and rearing back to his full height. The thought of anyone defiling his jewel, owning his most valuable possession sent him into a frenzy and his tail lashed, carving chunks out of the wall.
The fire-drake had enough sense left not to crush the fragile life he held, but it was some time before his rage faded enough that he could hear the voice that called between his claws. “Me okay, it's me! Will you calm down?”
Smaug turned to look again at his captive, marveling at the thief's audacity. “You lay claim to the jewel of my heart? You?” The dragon hissed as he snaked his head around for a closer look at this Bilbo Baggins. “And if I killed you, would you still claim him then?” He began to squeeze his fist together to destroy this threat; there would be other ways to find the one he sought.
However, as his talons began to press in around the burglar, the other shouted again and his words brought the drake up short. “You can't kill me! Kíli will hate you!”
“Hate me? He cannot hate me, he is mine.” Smaug glared at Bilbo but the small one found courage somewhere and glared back into his eyes.
“Yes, Kíli shares your heart. But he shares mine as well and if you kill me, you will cause him pain. Look.” The thief pulled back his tunic to bare a symbol on his chest, and Smaug twitched with jealousy when he saw the same runes that now graced his hide. So perhaps this Bilbo does not lie, and I cannot kill him. But my jewel is mine and I do not share what I possess.
The dragon paced angrily as he pondered the conundrum in which he found himself, stopping periodically to stare at his prisoner with an enormous baleful eye. Until finally, Smaug pinned Bilbo with an intense stare. “It seems that I cannot risk your death, so tell me, do you belong to my jewel as well or do you merely wish to claim him for yourself?”
Now it was the hobbit's turn to be offended and he retorted angrily, “I do not like what you're implying, dragon. I am Kíli's as much as he is mine and I am proud of that.”
“Then we can come to an agreement. My jewel is mine and you are his and so I will count you both among my treasures. Yesss, I believe that will be acceptable.” Smaug rumbled again, the enormous vibration passing for a laugh as his mood improved. “Now my Bilbo, take me to my heart.”
However, the dragon did not give the hobbit time to respond before moving, racing through the halls of Erebor with Bilbo still held in his talons. All he could do was hope that Smaug did not forget about him and clutch the drake's claws for dear life. Oh that's a long way down, he thought nervously as the dragon leaped onto the battlements and when Smaug jumped, Bilbo's stomach lurched and he was sure that he would die.
Until with a jolt, the drake spread his wings and their plummet turned into a glide as Smaug aimed for the dwarven camp, rightly supposing that Kíli must be there. He dropped to the ground before the company, who had prepared for battle- weapons drawn and ready, wargs crouching down to pounce.
“Wait!” Bilbo shouted, banging on Smaug's claws until the dragon released him and then running to stand before his friends. When Kíli saw him, the dwarf's face lit with relief and he and Fíli sheathed their blades. As the rest of the dwarves looked on in confusion, Kíli walked forward to stand next to the hobbit and laid his hand upon the dragons snout.
“So it is you,” he whispered in awe, before smiling wryly. “Did you work things out with Bilbo, then?”
“You could say that. I decided that it is not sharing, since both of you are mine. So do not worry about your heart.” The dragon replied, curling around his new possessions while keeping a cautious gaze on their companions. Kíli sent Bilbo a questioning glance to which the hobbit replied with a shrug and wave of reassurance. “Good enough, I guess.”
By this time, the rest of the company had finally noticed the dwarvish rune blazing on Smaug's chest and realized what was going on. Most of them lowered their weapons hesitantly, still wary of the fire-drake's claws, but not Thorin, who threw down his sword in disgust.
“Mahal's fury, nephew, are you and your brother bonded to of all my enemies?”
“If you'd rather be eaten by the dragon, uncle, I'm sure he'd be happy to oblige.” Fíli put in snarkily as Azog grinned proudly at his mate, for there were few things the orc enjoyed more than seeing Thorin squirm and this was turning into a beautiful situation. He called his wargs back slightly and settled in to watch the drama, while the dwarf king's expression twisted in annoyance.
“No thank you, Fíli, I'm rather attached to living. But I came on this quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, not play matchmaker for you and your brother.”
“Do you mean that mountain?” Smaug asked, inserting himself into the conversation and nodding back toward Erebor. “Because you can have it back.”
“What?! If you didn't want it, why in Mahal's name did you attack us? Why did you destroy Dale and murder my people?” Thorin shouted, but the dragon did not acknowledge his wrath. Instead Smaug just sniffed dismissively and gave the reptilian equivalent of a shrug.
“I was angry. All dragons have a treasure who is the jewel of their heart and it was prophesied that I would find mine in the solitary mountain by the lake of drowning stars. Yet when I came here, I could not sense my jewel anywhere and in a fit of rage I razed the city that lay at your kingdom's door.
I might have stopped then, my fury spent in ashes, but your gold called to me with a seductive song and it soothed some of the jagged edges of my soul. So I slaughtered and I waited and I slept for many, many years. But now I have found my heart and I do not need your mountain anymore.”
“So you're just going to hand back Erebor and my family's treasure without complaint, and what? Carry my nephew off somewhere?” Thorin asked suspiciously and this marked the start of a long series of negotiations.
Smaug's generosity did not actually extend to the gold within the mountain, only the stone itself and Kíli certainly did not want to leave everything behind, but after many hours they found a compromise that was acceptable to all involved.
The dragon would keep Bilbo and Kíli's shares of Erebor's gold and his roost in the treasure hall so that his heart would not have to leave his family, but the remaining wealth would return to Thorin to divide and use as he saw fit. Additionally, for another ten percent of the kingdom's yearly earnings Smaug would protect the Lonely Mountain from invaders of all kinds.
At this point, Azog decided to enter the discussion, stating that he refused to live side by side with dwarves or in their bright and open halls. While he would not force Fíli to leave his people either, the orc demanded the right for his wargs to roam the mountain's slopes and a space in the deeper tunnels that he could call his own.
Thorin balked at this at first- though he preferred Azog as far away from him as possible, he thought it was bad enough already that his people would be living under the dragon's shadow and did not want the orc within his walls.
Yet between his nephews pleading eyes and Smaug's twitching claws, the dwarf eventually caved in, turning away so he did not have to look at Azog's triumphant grin. At least Thorin had reclaimed most of his family's treasure and the rest of the mountain for any dwarves brave enough to join this madness.
However, his mood brightened greatly when Thranduil and the Master of Laketown came to take a portion of his prize and Thorin was able to meet them with Smaug crouched at his back. Their cries of historical rights soon changed to gasps of shock and, “By the Valar, he's tamed the dragon,” as the negotiations tilted firmly in his favor. His shark's grin widened when Gandalf returned with the news of an enormous army marching on their doorstep, for here at last was someone he could fight.
The day dawned grey and cold and the dwarves were thankful for their armor as they waited for their enemies to arrive. Twelve dwarves, an orc and a wizard stood as bait to trap their foe, while their reluctant allies and their secret weapon hid up on the mountain, although their weak appearance was ruined somewhat by the pack of snarling wargs that paced restlessly at their sides.
It amused Azog greatly to see these dwarves prepared to ride on wargs to battle, though he did not begrudge his pack their choice. This was his clan now, odd as it may be, and Azog was pleased that his wargs had adapted so well to the change. Indeed many of his beasts had grown fond of their strange riders and would defend them fiercely in the struggle soon to come.
Azog's mate had been adopted by Ark'u'tuk, second only to the orc's own Kil'uz for size, and Fíli would be a glorious and lethal sight on the creature's inky back. Even those dwarves, like Thorin, who had more antagonistic relationships with their wargs were now united in a common blood-lust and while they would not be allowed to ride, the beasts would fight to the death beside them.
Then the orc heard the sound of marching in the distance and as Azog warned his pack, the enormous army of their enemy swept slowly into view. However, the horde of goblins was brought up short by the sight of the Defiler standing with their prey. One orc, larger than the rest moved forward and called out to him in scorn.
“We thought you were dead, Azog, but it seems you've just gone soft. Are you truly siding with these weak and puny dwarves against your kin?”
To which the pale orc replied, “No, you fools, I'm siding with the dragon,” before calling out his battle cry.
At this signal, Smaug rose from the Lonely Mountain, scarlet wings spread wide. The dragon roared as he took to the air and swept down on their enemies, Kíli and Bilbo armed with bow and slingshot on his back. As the dragon and his mates rained fire from above, the company and their allies charged forward in a line of blood and slaughter.
Azog bared his fangs in a feral grin as enemy after enemy fell beneath his mace and he had been right about the death his mate would bring. No army could stand against the might of warg and fire and they sliced through their foe without mercy or reprieve. Even when Smaug could no longer burn without hitting his own side, the dragon was a whirlwind of teeth and tail and goblins died screaming beneath his claws. The lack of any real challenge was almost a shame, but Azog could see his same battle lust glowing in Fíli's eyes and he knew that the night at least, would be a struggle worth remembering.
However, their foe still had such numbers that defeating them took time and it was many hours before the last of their enemies perished upon their blades. Some few survivors broke and ran and when Thorin would have chased them down, Azog grabbed his arm to hold him back instead.
“Let them go. Let them go and spread the word of what happened here. This battle will go down in legend until the day the world is broken and all will think twice before attacking Erebor.”
There was sense in these words and for the first time Thorin thought that perhaps his nephew's kurdulganaz was not such a beast as he appeared. Perhaps Mahal had been right in all his bindings and only with these strange blessings could the House of Durin reach its former glory. Perhaps, but Thorin did not have to like it, so the recrowned King only growled and turned away.
Yet Azog just smirked at the dwarf's discomfort and rode off to find his mate. He had plans for the evening that would be far more pleasurable than taunting his old enemy and he now had a lifetime of chances to get under Thorin's skin. Indeed, the future should be extremely interesting with this new clan of his, sometimes infuriating but never boring, and the orc would not miss it for the world.
Epilogue: In Which a Mountain Burns
umùrad/umùrâd - soul/souls
kurdu/karûd - heart/hearts
umùradulganaz - soul of god's origin
kurdulganaz - heart of god's origin