Recipient's name: mahmfic/Megan
Title: Yuletide Reunions
Rating: PG for canon character death
Request: I would like a Hobbit era fic that deals with the dwarves + bilbo. Any of the following would be wonderful: h/c, romance, dealing with medical issues (epilepsy, panic attacks, anxiety, migraines), reunions, magical realism, any au, + winter themes. All I ask is no gender bendering, please. Thank you!
Author's notes: For some reason I really like writing this sort of story when I’m writing races I’m not used to…oh, and my discussion about Durin’s Line during the November challenge may have partially inspired this, LOL. Shout outs as usual to Fiondil, especially “Lord Námo’s Yule Gifts”, found on Stories of Arda – this takes place, mainly, the same year as Merry and Pippin’s deaths.
Summary: The End is, after all, only the Beginning; after his business with Bilbo has finished, and he has slept for a time in Mahal’s Halls, Thorin finds himself rediscovering those he has missed for a very, very long time.
There were times Thorin really second-guessed himself on his choice of companions. There have been several times, in fact, on this Quest. He loved and trusted his kinsmen, of course, especially his sister-sons and heirs. Well, he might not trust them as much as he trusted their elders, but they were young yet. He trusted, eventually, they would make something of themselves.
The one companion he seemed to question the most was not his choice, but that of he whom the Dwarves called Tharkûn, Gandalf the Grey. Blasted Wizard! Why did he choose this little grocer over any other? But Thorin had begun to see the nobility in the Hobbit. It is not Bilbo’s place he questioned any longer.
Nay, it is that of Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur – especially Bombur.
Who was it who slowed them down in the Elvenking’s lands? Who was it that got himself stuck in the blasted Enchanted River? Bombur. Bombur has been as much of a load to the Quest, perhaps even more so, than their Burglar, and if it weren’t for his brother and cousin’s staunch support, Thorin might have – probably should have – left them behind in Lake-town, or even back in the Ered Luin. But having only ten Dwarves to assail the Lonely Mountain would have been even more of a fool’s venture.
A fool’s venture it was, he thought. O, Lord Mahal, Father, the world is on fire – and because of his bumbling fools of servants, sons of Khazad-dum but not the royal line – because of their nonsense they fell into trouble more often than not.
He neglects to remind himself that it was Bilbo who woke the dragon. He has only just made his peace with the undersized Burglar, who at the last, saved them all…well, not all.
“Farewell, good thief…”
He closes his eyes for the last time in the waking world not long after Bilbo leaves him. If those bumbling fools yet live, he hopes they will at least comfort his sister, and tell her that her sons died bravely.
“Happy Yule to you, Uncle!”
“Thorin, come! There are gifts!”
Thorin rose from his couch to find his nephews and brother surrounding him, faces wreathed with identical grins. Frerin, bless him, looked just as young as he had the day he was slain – no, younger, for he seemed of an age with their nephews. Thorin, himself, felt hale and hearty and was glad of it.
“Gifts? What nonsense is this? Why should there be Yule here?” Thorin demanded. They had already established they were dead after all. What need had they of gifts?
“Because, my son,” said the laughing voice of Lord Aulë, making Thorin spin about, “it is Yule in the Outer Lands, and certain of my brother’s…guests…have decided to, ah, deck the halls. Námo did not wish me to be left out.”
“Mahal,” Thorin said, bowing deeply to the Vala. “I beg your pardon, my lord.”
“You have that, then,” Aulë replied merrily. “Now come, my sons, and let us see what gifts await you on this first Yule together.”
The four Dwarves followed their Creator into a great Hall, a cavern carpeted in silver sand, pillared with granite and marble, wreathed with ropes of balsam and ivy. There were sprigs of all-heal hanging above every door, much to the Dwarves’ consternation. So few Dwarf-women were available to kiss – they would be lingering in doorways forever, Thorin felt.
Aulë chuckled as he ‘heard’ Thorin’s fears. “No fear, my son,” he assured Thorin. “Any kiss will do; even a warrior’s kiss as between brothers, or between true brothers. For my sons and daughters are warriors all, each in their own way.”
Fili and Kili grinned at their uncle’s discomfiture, each kissing his cheek before darting away, laughing. Frerin watched them go, and smiled at his older brother. “Come, Brother. Shall we not see what awaits us?” he asked, pointing to the far end of the hall. The apron, a deposit of sediments which covered the ground, lay there at the foot of the Mountain.
Thorin shook his head at his brother and nephews’ antics. Dwarflings, he thought, and could not help but smile as he followed Frerin. It was wonderful to see Frerin’s innocence restored, if somewhat unsettling. Still, if it was indeed Yule as it seemed to be, he would not deny them a chance to be happy. He would try to be happy, himself, even as the feeling of something wrong gnawed at him. What was it that was preventing him from enjoying himself so? It wasn’t the knowledge that he was dead – he’d made his peace with that.
Was it how much interest Mahal seemed to take in him? Thorin rubbed his forehead, wondering if it was possible for him to have a headache after he was dead. Apparently not, so it was just habit…wait.
They reached the apron, where a Dwarf couple stood, their beards equally impressive, and Thorin let the thought go as the nearer one’s arms opened to him.
“Mam,” he gasped, and all worry, all shreds of dignity fled. He let himself feel the dwarfling again, too, just wanting to feel his mam’s arms around him. Then she was there, not only the Queen of Khazad-dum in Exile, but Mam, warm and safe and…”Oh, Mam, I missed you so…”
“I know, son, I know,” she whispered, pressing kisses to his brow and cheeks. “My darling lad, here now, hush…my Thorin, I never blamed you. Never.” She never blamed him…for Frerin, for Fili and Kili, for nearly losing the Mountain…Thorin’s chest heaved, and she only hugged him tighter.
“Never,” agreed her companion. It was Thráin.
“Da,” Thorin gasped, and Thráin II, free of the wounds he had sustained unto death, hugged his wife and son.
“Hush,” he ordered, and Thorin fell silent. “Listen now, Thorin – you have always made me proud. Always. Remember that, my heir, my son, my Thorin…mine to me, do you hear? Nothing you have ever ill-done has made me love you any less.”
Gifts, Mahal had said. Yes, these gifts were the best he could ask for, for Yule or any time of year. Now his question was answered – this was what he had needed to feel complete. Dis would come in her own time, and then, at last, they would all be home.
“Tell us what brought you here, Thorin,” Thráin said, and Thorin nodded into his Da’s chest.
“Well, Da, you see, it all began with your map and key, and a search for a fourteenth to help reclaim Erebor…” He exhaled slowly – did he really need to breathe, he wondered. “The Wizard chose him, a Burglar called Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit of the Shire, and at first, well…I was not very keen on his company, though as time passed, I respected him more. Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were generally more trouble, especially Bombur…”
Thorin’s family listened raptly as he spun his tale, Fili and Kili putting in their spin on things occasionally, and none of them noted the Vala watching from afar, telling his kindred the story.
It was indeed, for all, a happy Yule.
(End Note: The beginning of the story, or rather the Beginning of the Story, so to speak, takes place as Thorin is dying and reflecting on his life near the end of The Hobbit. The rest of the story takes place in the Halls of Mahal, a subset of the Halls of Mandos, in the year 70 of the Fourth Age, at Yule (which, in line with Fiondil's story, Lord Namo's Yule Gift, is the year of Merry and Pippin's death in my headcanon. That's well over a hundred years that Thorin slept, but Time means little in the Halls of the Dead.)