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Smaug, the only skin-changer dragon, not satisfied with having taken his home and gold is now in search of the one thing that Thorin isn’t willing to budge. Bilbo, on the other hand, will face the awesome responsibility of being the only one able to make vulnerable a dragon. But Bilbo discover that Smaug is not the only vulnerable to him.
Bilbo was constantly confused by his own feelings. First, every time he thought about what he had promised Gandalf he couldn’t help feeling guilty. Of course, he knew that Smaug was a creature that had caused terrible damage, but he still not be able to betray him. Also he seriously doubted the power that the wizard had said he had over the dragon. He didn’t believe that he was important to Smaug, therefore, also felt fear at the thought that he would have to see him.
However, that wasn’t the only problem that haunted his thoughts; Thorin Oakenshield was also one of the reasons for his growing frustration. His attraction to him was growing and was becoming unbearable. So he had chosen, whenever the Company rested, take a walk, while the others were eating. And Thorin was too busy in anything else and Bilbo couldn’t approach him as he wished, he had decided that perhaps he could erase him from his thoughts.
As always, he was wrong.
One morning, however, one of those walks brought him serious consequences, or at least that’s what he thought at first. It had finished raining, so the ground was soft and slippery, but the hobbit thought that after so many weeks away from home, he was sufficiently prepared for any situation that presented itself. So, as he saw Thorin spoke and laughed with his nephews, decided to leave the group for a while. He knew it was childish behavior, but, at times, he felt annoyed when Thorin spent so much time with his nephews and he was left in oblivion. Of course, they were nothing, sometimes he not even thought were friends, but Bilbo couldn’t, even if he wanted to, stop feeling that way.
So, annoyed with himself, he decided to venture into the woods and walk without stopping. But his mistake was that he didn’t focus on the ground, because that led to his downfall. Due to mud and curve towards the ground at that place, Bilbo slipped and fell several yards down to hit the trunk of a tree. Little scared, the hobbit tried to stand up, but realized he couldn’t stand up because his ankle caused him acute pain and he couldn’t even move.
He was about to shout at others, when he heard a noise near him. His little eyes looked in all directions, trying to find the source of the sound, but without success. With a lot of pain, but without complaint, Bilbo crept back with his arms, trying to do something to get away from possible danger. He tried to lean on the trunk of a tree to get up but the pain was too unbearable and so he could do. Probably would have broken his ankle.
Then, without having heard any sound of footsteps, he saw a boots approaching and stopped beside him. Bilbo covered his face in a futile attempt to protect himself, he hadn’t even bothered to tilt his head up to see what kind of creature was standing beside him.
"Calm down, little hobbit, my intention is not to hurt you," said a clear and melodious voice.
Bilbo, attracted by that voice, uncovered his face and was surprised to realize it was an elf who stood before him. Being a hobbit who all his life had been in the peaceful lands of the Shire, he had never seen an elf. He had heard and read of them also Gandalf used to tell him amazing stories about these creatures but his eyes never had had the pleasure of seeing one. He, for example, was tall and had long blond hair that fell quite gracefully on his shoulders, and, though he had the bearing of a prince, his clothes weren’t like the elves of Rivendell, at least they weren’t like those Gandalf had described. He was armed with a bow and arrows, and that made him look a little wild.
The elf smiled and crouched down for a better look.
"I am Legolas, son of Thranduil, the Elvenking.
"My name is …"
"Bilbo," Legolas said.
The hobbit looked at him, confused.
"How do you know that?"
"Let’s say I’ve been sent to protect you."
Legolas, without hearing his protests, took him in his arms and lifted him off the ground.
"Come on, I’ll take you with your fellows" he said, walking with a confidence that surprised Bilbo. No matter how slippery was the ground, the elf never stumbled.
All were in a circle, eating animatedly until they saw them. Unfortunately, Thorin was the first to notice him. He stood up abruptly and addressed them, seemed divided between concern and anger.
"What happen, Bilbo?" he said, looking at the hobbit with anxiously. After turned angrily to the elf "What did you do to him?"
"My father warned me that I wouldn’t be well received by you, Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror. But I have no intention of harming anyone, much less to the little hobbit.
"If that’s true, then give him to me."
The elf looked pretty amused with that situation, but suppressed his laughter and deposited the hobbit carefully in the arms of the prince.
Bilbo made an effort to show he wasn’t too pleased with this change, but he couldn’t ignore the warm feeling of being in Thorin’s arms, nor he couldn’t help blushing and sigh with happiness. He put his arms around Thorin’s neck and leaned his head on his chest. Despite the pain it caused his ankle, he was happy.
"Legolas!" Gandalf’s voice, laughing, broke some of the tension that had been generated at that time.
The elf smiled and said something in Elvish to the wizard, who answered in the same language. The dwarves were looking suspiciously at the newcomer, but Gandalf assured them he was a friend of him. Thorin didn’t seem very happy about it, but decided not to say more, as he was much more concerned about Bilbo at that time, so he let Legolas and Gandalf talk a while.
Thorin deposited Bilbo on the ground carefully and had him recharged in the trunk of a tree. Without straying from his side, he called Balin to cure him. The dwarf was very careful with him, but Bilbo had been injured so much that every time Balin moved his foot for cures or bandage, Bilbo couldn’t help groan in pain.
Thorin took one of his hands and laced his fingers with his, forcing the hobbit to looking him in the eye.
"The pain will be over soon" he promised, stroking his cheek tenderly. Bilbo, completely flushed, smiled. He had discovered that he liked to have the Prince around and he didn’t want to stay away from him.
Finally, Balin finished. Thorin gave him a quizzical look.
"The good news are that there isn’t a fracture," said the dwarf, "so I don’t think it takes long to recover him, but he should avoid moving the foot for a while."
Bilbo nodded, a little tired.
"Balin, tell the others that we will stay here until tomorrow," said Thorin. "And remind them that they shouldn’t lose sight of the elf, we can’t trust him."
Balin nodded and left them alone. The hobbit wanted to protest, he didn’t want to make they delay.
"I just need someone to help me to get on a pony, I can still …"
Thorin smiled and shook his head.
"You need to rest. Also, from now you’ll ride with me."
Bilbo suppressed a groan; he remembered exactly what he felt when his body was so close to Thorin. He beginning to think that isn’t a good idea, at least not to preserve his sanity.
"Thorin, I think it would be best …" but he couldn’t finish because the prince sat beside him and gently rubbed his nose on hobbit’s neck.
"I’m listening," said Thorin. But that was even worse because his warm breath made Bilbo tremble.
"I … I forgot what I was going to say."
Thorin laughed and moved away from him. Of course, it helped that Bilbo could concentrate better, but he hated not feel the warmth of his body surrounding him. In addition, he was quite upset because he believed that the prince was mocking him, knowing that he was attracted to him. So he frowned, hating being unable to move and put some distance between them.
But Thorin looked amuse with his reactions. Or at least he was until Gandalf and Legolas approached them. The elf leaned over Bilbo and stroked his hair. The hobbit blushed and Thorin growled.
"Don’t touch him."
Legolas raised his eyebrows at the dwarf, seemed more amused than surprised.
"I knew the dwarves were jealous, but I thought that feeling was limited to their jewels and gold" he commented.
Bilbo knew that the elf was joking, but he couldn’t help feeling that his heart shook with joy at the thought of the possibility that Thorin was jealous.
"How do you feel, Bilbo?" Legolas asked, ignoring the glare that Thorin threw him.
"Much better, thank you, if it wasn’t for you …"
The prince of dwarves growled again.
"What are you doing here?" he asked abruptly, interrupting the hobbit.
"I have planned to accompany you on your journey, at least until we arrive to my father’s kingdom in Mirkwood.
Thorin stood up.
"Are you the son of Thranduil?" roared the prince of the dwarves.
"Get out of here."
"Then I’ll have to take Bilbo with me, because I’m here to protect him."
Thorin stepped forward, menacingly. In those moments, no matter what the elf was taller than him, Thorin’s presence was still pretty intimidating. However, another figure came between Legolas and the dwarf: Gandalf. He looked annoyed.
"It is time to stop this nonsense grudge, Thorin Oakenshield" said the wizard with powerful voice "and Legolas, stop provoking him."
"Thranduil abandoned us when we needed him most" growled Thorin.
"And he regrets it," said Legolas.
Bilbo wanted to do something to calm the situation, but all he could think was to take Thorin’s hand. The prince turned to face him. Bilbo smiled and tugged him. Thorin, understanding the message, sat back down beside him. He didn’t look quite calm, but at least he relaxed a little.
"The most important thing now," said Gandalf "is protect Bilbo. And that is why we need the help of Legolas. I think you appreciate our hobbit enough for swallow your pride and let the elf help us, Thorin."
To the surprise of Bilbo, the prince nodded.
"Although no one has yet explained to me why the orcs are hunting him" he said.
Bilbo looked away. He didn’t know exactly why, but he didn’t want Thorin to know about his encounter with Smaug.
"This is not the time for explanations" snapped Gandalf, "we have to act. And I think we’d better start with going to Beorn’s house."
"Who is Beorn?" Bilbo asked.
"He’s an old friend of mine" Gandalf smiled, "we could rest a few days at his home. But most importantly, he is a skin-changer."
This time Thorin was who looked confused. Bilbo realized, at that moment, that very few creatures in Middle-earth knew what was a skin-changer.
"He can transform into a bear."
"And is he someone we can trust?" asked Thorin "I don’t want to put Bilbo in danger"
The hobbit flushed with pleasure at hearing that, but tried to hide his joy.
"I told you, he is my friend, he won’t hurt us. Also, I have to ask him a few important questions. Maybe he will give me the answer I’m looking for."
They agreed to take the rest of the day and take their way the next day, because according to the calculations of Gandalf it wasn’t far to reach the forest where Beorn lived. Legolas, much to the annoyance of Thorin, insisted on staying with Bilbo and started telling him stories about elves. The hobbit, who was very passionate about stories, was soon fascinated with all that Legolas told him. However, he felt a little bad when Thorin, sick of hearing the elf, left them.
"And how did you get here?" Bilbo asked, once he was sure that no one was listening them.
"Lady Galadriel informed my father of your situation," said Legolas, she is very worried about you. But she knows we need you"
Bilbo grimaced, still couldn’t believe that he, a simple hobbit, was so important in this strange mission.
"You’re the only one that makes him vulnerable," said Legolas, though Bilbo had not asked any questions. "Long ago we tried to destroy him, but it’s impossible. And now, we have the opportunity, we can’t waste it. If he joined the dark it would mean the devastation of Middle Earth."
Bilbo nodded, but still doubted.
"I still don’t think I can do much"
Legolas stared at him and smiled.
"You’re wrong, little hobbit."
The elf reached down and stroked his cheek tenderly.
"If you keep doing that, Legolas, Thorin will rip off your head and I won’t be able to stop him" said Gandalf, when he approached them. "I told you not to provoke him."
Legolas smiled, but he left the hobbit.
"Okay, okay. I can only imagine how Thorin going to react when he finds out why the orcs are hunting Bilbo."
And the hobbit was left all alone and very confused. Although not for long, as Bofur approached him and offered him a plate full of stew.
"Thanks!" Bilbo smiled.
"I was wondering if I could sit next to …"
But then Thorin came and sat next to Bilbo, in a somewhat possessive. He frowned at Bofur. The dwarf, seeing that his presence was not desired, walked away.
"Why are you so rude to him?" Bilbo asked, after a while.
"I wouldn’t be if he didn’t approach you so often" growled Thorin, looking at Bofur.
Bilbo, completely confused and distracted by all his thoughts, didn’t realize that he was spilling the liquid, not until he felt it on his fingers. However, as he was too hungry, he licked his fingers.
"No, Bilbo, don’t be cruel" Thorin said huskily, taking his hand in his, "don’t do that in front of me, is too tempting. Let me try …"
Thorin put his hand to his mouth and began to suck his fingers slowly, causing Bilbo felt a shiver and an unbearable warmth throughout his body. But Thorin took his time, looking him in the eye, while he licked the hobbit’s fingers. Bilbo couldn’t help moaning.
But he got up and winked.
"I will let you eat. Also, you might want to see your friend again, that stupid elf, don’t you?"
"No, I’d rather your …" but it was too late, Thorin had already walked away. Bilbo frowned, sometimes he thought that damn prince does that on purpose.
However, Fili and Kili decided to keep him company and managed to make him laugh on several occasions.
Several strange things happened the next morning, the first of which was that a gray horse, beautiful, but wild appearance, went quickly to the call of Legolas. Nobody knew how he was that had gotten a horse in such a short time. Moreover, for a change, Thorin was upset with Legolas when the elf suggested that he could carry Bilbo with him.
"He’ll be safer with me," said the elf.
Thorin ignored him and, very carefully, took the hobbit and put him on his pony, once he assured Bilbo was fine, the Prince rode behind him. Although, in reality, was a terrible torture to Bilbo, as he felt Thorin’s body rubbing his back constantly.
It was not until the evening when Gandalf told them to stop. Bilbo thought the wizard had decided to rest in that place, until he realized that a house was hidden among the trees. He instructed the dwarves before entering.
"Legolas, Bilbo and I will go first," he said, "I’ll talk to Beorn and when I call you, you’ll can come in.
"Bilbo can not walk" Thorin protested, unwilling to be left behind.
"And that’s why I’ll carry him" Legolas said, smiling.
"Please, Thorin, this is no time to argue. If you want a safe place for Bilbo to rest a few days, then you have to do what I tell you," said Gandalf. "Beorn has a good heart, but his humor is a little dangerous. You have to know how to treat him."
Finally, Thorin snorted, resigned.
Legolas took the hobbit in his arms and winked at Thorin.
"Don’t worry, Bilbo will be safe with me."
Thorin glared at him and the elf laughed.
"Legolas, what did I tell you about provoking him…"
"I’m sorry, Gandalf! It won’t happen again."
Then the magician waved them to be quiet. Gandalf moved slowly and gently knocked at the door.
"Who is it?" said a deep voice that made Bilbo trembled.
"Gandalf the Grey."
The door opened and a huge figure met them at the doorway. His thick black brows furrowed over his dark eyes. At first, noted suspiciously, but when he recognized Gandalf he relaxed a little and let them in.
"What do you need, Gandalf?" he asked abruptly.
He offered three chairs; Legolas put Bilbo carefully on one of them. The hobbit looked even smaller seated. Beorn gave him a curious look.
"We had a trip quite problematic, so I would ask you, for me and my friends, that you let us stay at your home for a few days. Also I would like to ask you some questions that will be extremely vital when we reach the end of our journey."
Bilbo noticed that the wizard didn’t speak directly, as if he wanted to intrigue Beorn giving him incomplete information and, apparently, he was succeeding.
"Questions about what?"