Title: Where the Heart Is
Word Count: 1560
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit no one would die
Summary: Bilbo and Kíli start falling for each other out on the trail, adorable courting ensues.
It all started with a smile, a sweet open smile which caught Bilbo's eye and set his heart to fluttering.
He had noticed the dwarf before, how could he not, but it was more of a general appreciation for the other's charms than anything with intent. After all, why would a young and handsome dwarf, a prince no less, be interested in a chubby, common hobbit like himself? Yet when Kíli smiled at Bilbo over their stew that night, the halfling started to wonder if maybe he was wrong. Maybe such a dwarf could fall for him after all and the way that the lad blushed when Bilbo returned his grin kindled hope within the hobbit's heart.
So the very next day he began to test the waters, starting with simple overtures of friendship to see where Kíli stood. While the dwarf seemed surprised when Bilbo nudged their ponies side by side, he greeted him happily and soon the pair was lost in conversation.
The hobbit learned that Kíli might have been inexperienced but his reckless mouth hid a quick mind and a willingness to listen that Bilbo quite admired. So he traded stories of the Shire for tales of the dwarves' past wanderings and when the talk became too serious, Kíli always had a joke or comedic account to bring their spirit's up.
After Bilbo's first overture, the two were rarely parted long, spending hours locked in discussion and the hobbit soon was falling hard for the person he discovered behind Kíli's pretty face. Thankfully the admiration seemed quite mutual if the dwarf's shy glances were any indication and eventually Bilbo decided that it was time to make his feelings clear.
So he sat next to Bofur by the fire one night and tried to ask him subtly, just how exactly one would woo a dwarf out on the road. Although the hobbit was pretty sure that the other saw through his casual air, Bofur just winked and told Bilbo what he asked.
“Dwarf courtship is pretty simply really. To show your interest you create something unique with your own hands and give this to your intended. If he returns your feelings, then he'll make you a gift of his own and from then on you're free to do as you wish, despite what any overbearing relatives might think. So good luck, and try not to keep the poor lad waiting too long.”
Bilbo flushed under Bofur's knowing gaze but he was thankful for the advice and spent the next week trying to figure out what he could make. Unfortunately, while the hobbit was skilled in a number of crafts, he hadn't brought his tools with him and there was little for him to work with out on the trail. It had to be something special, something that would show Kíli how much Bilbo cared and prove his worth to any doubters.
Yet, just when the hobbit was about to despair of finding something suitable, Ori pulled out one of his own projects to keep his hands busy during the long hours of his watch. Bilbo sidled up to the young dwarf and after a short friendly conversation, the hobbit walked away with the supplies he needed tucked into his pockets. He started work that night but it was slow going because Bilbo had to hide his present from Kíli's curious eyes until it was ready and the company kept having other things to worry about. Indeed the hobbit was almost surprised that it stayed in his pocket throughout the long fall in the Misty Mountains and the struggle against Azog and his wargs.
So Bilbo's gift was only half-finished when Kíli came up to him and shyly handed him a present of his own. It was the hobbit's turn to glow with delight when he looked down and saw a complete set of hand-carved wooden buttons to replace the ones he'd lost in Gollum's caves. He thanked the dwarf profusely and kissed him on the cheek, causing Kíli to stammer and run away.
Bilbo just shook his head fondly at the dwarf's antics, and redoubled his efforts to finish his own project so that Kíli could have his answer. He's lucky I already know what these buttons mean since he didn't stick around to explain himself.
Once the company reached Beorn's Hall, the hobbit had far more free time on his hands and by their second night his gift was finally finished. Not a moment too soon either, because Bilbo could tell the dwarf was starting to worry about his lack of a proper response. So the hobbit pulled Kíli aside from the others and laid his present in the dwarf's hands, offering the formal words that Bofur had taught him when he asked.
“I recognize your interest and return it, offering the fruits of my skill to show my worth as you have shown me yours.” Bilbo said, before grinning and adding cheekily, “Also known as, I like you too and I made you a hat. Sorry it took so long, knitting has never been my favored craft.”
Kíli just looked down at his gift and beamed, glowing with the knowledge that Bilbo returned his interest after all. It was not the hobbit's best work for he was quite out of practice, but as he saw it through the dwarf's eyes, Bilbo decided that he could be proud of it nonetheless.
It was a relatively simple hat but the stitches were tight and even and it would keep Kíli's ears warm on the chilly autumn nights. The hobbit had used one color for the body in a basic textured pattern, adding another to create a border of little arrows along the bottom edge and the hat fit perfectly when the dwarf finally tried it on.
“You are a wonder,” Kíli told Bilbo, amazed at what he had managed to accomplish with such limited time and supplies. Then, finally knowing that his feelings were reciprocated, the dwarf intertwined their fingers and leaned down to kiss the hobbit firmly on his mouth. .
Now that their courtship was recognized by both parties, public affection was acceptable and the rest of the company soon got used to seeing the two of them tangled together. The pair were always within arms reach and held hands while they traveled, Kíli leaning down to whisper in the hobbit's ear and making Bilbo laugh.
Fíli would roll his eyes and nudge his brother in the shoulder when they became too sappy, teasing his younger brother about his lovestruck daze. However, Kíli just ignored him because he knew that the other actually approved of how Bilbo helped to tame his restless spirit. In truth none of the company minded their romance for the hobbit's act of bravery on the mountain had lifted him into everyone's good graces and their new love seemed in keeping with the hopeful spirit of their quest.
Indeed, watching Bilbo and Kíli together, obviously on their way to being utterly smitten with each other, made the older members of the company smile fondly and remember their own young and happy days. Even Thorin quietly approved, going out of his way to assign them duties together and just shaking his head at their frivolous behavior instead of taking them to task.
It was not all soft touches and giggling either, though there was quite a bit of that. But Kíli started giving Bilbo sword lessons, determined that no love of his would be unable to defend himself and with thirteen skilled teachers, the hobbit learned in leaps and bounds. The dwarf also cajoled Bilbo into teaching him how to knit and it soon became common to hear needles clacking away at night. They'd sit together by the campfire, the hobbit on the ground between Kíli's knees and the dwarf's arms wrapped around him so that Bilbo could critique his stitches as he worked, though often very little knitting actually got done.
The others would watch in amusement as yarn was set aside and some outlandish excuse made as the pair ran off into the trees. They'd always return some time later with kiss-swollen lips and tangled hair, blushing red at their companions knowing smirks. When it got late, the pair would curl up to sleep with Bilbo's head tucked under Kíli's chin and Fíli there to watch his brother's back.
For the dwarf and the hobbit this was one of the happiest times of their lives, despite the ever present danger through which they traveled. Even when Bilbo was tired and cold and wondering what madness had made him think adventures were a good idea, all Kíli had to do was wrap him in his arms and the world seemed a brighter place.
Similarly, the dwarf's smile was rarely absent when Bilbo was in view, and every moment they spent together was filled with an effervescent joy. Indeed, as Kíli gazed down fondly at the hobbit in his arms, he found himself thinking that no matter how it ended this quest was worth it, for it had already given him more than he had ever dreamed. The dwarf knew that Erebor was his family's kingdom and he would fight to reclaim it, but home is in the heart and when Bilbo smiled at him, Kíli was already there.