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Unsteady Flight

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He remembers a story that his mother used to tell him, about his grandfather, the Old Took, and how he met his wife. The memory surprises him as Thorin's arms circle round his shoulders and he can hear her voice, plain as day in his ear.

It was a simple little tale, sweet; a favourite, once upon a lifetime. Adamanta Chubb fell out of a tree into Gerontius's lap and he caught her like she was light as a feather - strong, he was, almost as strong as Cousin Bullroarer - and that was that. He saved her from a broken ankle and they couldn't get enough of each other ever after. Love was funny like that. Belladonna always said you couldn't fight it.

It's an odd thing to think of as Thorin wraps him in the strongest embrace Bilbo has ever been caught in, and he smiles at the strangeness of it, and...for other reasons he's not quite sure what to call. Because as much as Thorin had put him down, Bilbo wanted to be worth something to him.

Then, when Azog was so close to taking Thorin's head, Bilbo couldn't breath, couldn't speak, couldn't think for the drowning fear that threw him forwards against that goblin, waving about his letter-opener of a sword as though it could do something. As though it could defend him, or the King Under the Mountain, but he would have died trying because Thorin son of Thráin Oakenshield was someone worth dying for.

And as they watched the thrush fly its unsteady path to the Lonely Mountain and what lay beneath, it pained Bilbo to realise why. He couldn't put words to it, didn't have the heart to, but he knew it was only going to rip his heart out. Bit by bit, with every step towards his fourteenth share in a treasure he didn't want. Not anymore.

But there was just no fighting it.