Title: The Gold Zone
Author: Alania Black
Fandom/Genre: The Hobbit
Relationship(s): Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Explicit sex, canon-typical violence
Summary: In a world where the Dwarves exiled from Erebor stumbled into the warm embrace of the Shire and built their new homes in the hills surrounding it, Thorin Oakenshield has grown into one of the strongest and most well-respected Alpha Sentinels the Dwarven race has ever had. But the King Under the Mountain has never taken a Guide amongst his kin, and after almost 100 years of struggling with his gifts on his own, his people grow concerned for his mental well-being.
Meanwhile, tucked safely away in his Smial, Bilbo Baggins has grown accustomed to his quiet, respectable life. Until the day a Wizard emerges from his past with promises of an adventure Bilbo never asked for and doesn’t want, and Bilbo mind awakens gifts that no Hobbit has ever had…
Bilbo was so exhausted and drained from the conversation with Gandalf and the headache that was returning that he just wanted to go to bed. Unfortunately, he had not actually been told where his bed would be, so he was forced to face the dwarves still in the common room. Only Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were still in the room, Bombur was apparently finally getting around to his bath, and Bifur and Bofur were sitting beside the fire with a drink.
“Um, hello,” Bilbo stuttered, suddenly overcome with nerves he hadn’t previously felt around the Dwarves. “Do any of you know where I can sleep tonight?” He asked.
“Thorin’s room is the second door to the right.” Bofur said, grinning jovially. “I’m sure you can sleep there if you want.”
Bilbo flushed terribly and stammered for a few seconds. Bofur seemed to take pity on him, because he laughed and clambered to his feet, clapping Bilbo on the shoulder. “Sorry, my friend, I was only teasing you. Thorin will want to talk to you properly before you Bond.”
Bilbo thought about protesting for a moment, but he was just so tired. They could deal with this tomorrow, he decided – tonight he was going to enjoy his last night in a real bed for a long while.
Bofur gamely led Bilbo to a room with two beds in it, where he travel pack had already been stowed.
“Bif and Bom are sharing the room next door, we’ve decided I will go and join them as well. We don’t feel really comfortable with anyone sharing a room with you in private at the moment.”
“What? Bofur, that’s ridiculous! I’ve shared rooms every night so far, you can’t just start treating me differently now because of this… this… hokum!”
“No, Bilbo. It’s not… It’s hard to explain, your people don’t have Guides so you don’t understand. Unbonded Guides are uniquely vulnerable to the mental presence of others, even mundanes, especially when their defences are down like in sleep. And I’m not… not really mundane, even if I am latent. It’s not a slight against you Bilbo; we just want to protect you. ‘Sides, it’s not like I haven’t shared a bed with them before, even if Bom snores awfully.”
Bilbo sighed, irrationally irritated by the latest bit of nonsense in this whole Guide situation, but nodded gratefully and went to prepare for bed.
* * * * *
The next morning was overcast but warm for the season, which was probably the best weather they could have for a long day’s travel; unless the clouds darkened and rain started.
Bilbo wasn’t sure what he expected from the company or from Thorin – from the King. But it was quickly clear that the priority was to push on and cover as much distance as possible, so after an early breakfast they mounted up and started out. Bilbo was aware of the stares and looks of the others but ignored them resolutely the whole journey.
They broke for lunch eventually, but Bilbo found that he wasn’t hungry. It was probably the first time he could ever say such a thing, and he thought he should be worried but his emotions felt fuzzy and distant. The day passed in a quiet blur for Bilbo and he didn’t really come back to himself until they were seated around the campfire that evening, and someone put a plate of food into his hands. He followed the line of the arm up to find Thorin – the King – crouched in front of him.
“How are you, Bilbo?” He asked quietly, watching Bilbo closely with solemn eyes. Bilbo realised suddenly that he could feel everything – the worry in his mind, the hunger gnawing at his stomach. He could even feel a strange, foreign feeling of pride and worry and joy mixed together. It took him several long minutes before he realised that the feelings were coming from outside of himself, and a few more to realise they were coming from Thorin.
“I don’t know anymore.” He whispered quietly, and bent his head to his food. He finished his meal quickly and was quaffing some drink before he realised that Thorin was still holding his hand. He flushed and tried to pull his hand away – Thorin kept a hold for a few seconds before reluctantly letting go. Bilbo immediately felt much worse.
He retired to bed early, but found he was unable to sleep in the bedroll on the rocky ground. He closed his eyes and drifted, shifting uncomfortably every so often. After a few minutes, he heard the sounds of music starting up as the Dwarves began playing and singing. At first the singing was the rough but oddly pleasing sounds of the Dwarven language, but after a few songs a rather more familiar tune started up – one of many rousing and rowdy inn songs from the Shire. He turned his face into his pillow to stifle his fond grin as he listened.
Somehow the songs of home were a lullaby to him, because when he next came to awareness the night had deepened and only a handful of Dwarves were sitting round the fire speaking quietly. Bilbo, lying close to the fire, was able to hear them if he listened carefully, and he couldn’t help it when he heard himself mentioned.
“…need to Bond with Bilbo already, Thorin! You have not had any sensory spikes, rashes or pain since he helped you yesterday.” Bilbo frowned into the dark, but finally placed the voice as Kili’s. Fili, he recognised, was sitting beside and nodding along with his brother. Dwalin and Ori were also there, backing the Princes up on their argument.
“I will not Bond with anyone just because they helped me once – the Hobbit did not even realise what he was doing. He is extremely confused by all of this and does not understand what is moving between us. I will not take advantage of him.”
“Thorin,” Dwalin rumbled quietly, “you know how… conflicted I felt when I found Ori. He was – is – too young and too innocent for my life. But I did him, and us both, a disservice by denying him. Ori suffered because of me, Thorin.” Bilbo’s heart twisted for the young Dwarf, but he heard Ori murmur soothingly to his Sentinel.
“I know, Dwalin. But you are together now, and happy. That’s what is right for you both.”
“And this is what is right for you, Thorin. You came online when the Dragon came; you have spent over a hundred and seventy years on your own without a Bond. Most Sentinels would not have survived that, I don’t understand how you haven’t. You have met every online or latent Guide there is among our people – there are those who have come from all over to visit with you, in case they turn out to be your One. Bilbo is the only Guide you have ever had a positive reaction with. You cannot deny that, Thorin. He is your One – he is perfect for you.” Bilbo’s breath caught in his throat, he had never been – no one in the Shire had ever – and now suddenly someone was saying that he, that Bilbo, could be… everything to someone? He could scarcely believe it, and Thorin’s next words made his heart plummet.
“He is not a Dwarf, he is a Hobbit.” Bilbo turned his face back into the pillow, this time to muffle his soft, ragged breaths. It felt like his heart might be breaking. For a single, shining second he had thought someone could want him, where no one in his life had ever even given him a second look. He almost wanted to stop listening to them, but he couldn’t help listen to Thorin as he continued speaking.
“He was raised to believe he would not be a Guide, that he could not be a Guide. If he were a Dwarf, I would have Bonded with him already, gratefully. But right now he is suffering coming online and doesn’t even understand half of what is happening to him. I could Bond with him now, easily, but he would suffer for it afterwards when he realises what it all means, and he would have no recourse or safety, because I would be the only thing offering him safety and I would be who he needed to be safe from. It is my worst nightmare, after my Grandfather… after everything… I could not imagine being the thing my Guide is scared of.”
That made sense, and Bilbo realised he was smiling at the thought. Thorin might like him, they could work. And, although the King intimidated Bilbo, in ways no one else in the Shire did, he was not afraid of him. He couldn’t imagine ever being scared of him.
“He’s right.” Ori said softly. “Dwalin, I suffered because I knew I was your Guide and I felt rejected. Bilbo would suffer because he doesn’t know anything about this. I will speak with him, help him understand what is happening to him and what it means to be a Guide, and then you can Bond with him if that’s what he wants.”
“That sounds like the best idea, Ori.” Thorin agreed. Bilbo agreed as well, it was time someone explained exactly what this whole Guide thing meant, because it was becoming clear that this was not going to stop happening to him.
“But, there is one thing you need to do,” Ori said, “for Bilbo’s sake. You must have noticed how he was today?”
“That won’t stop happening to him. He initiated a partial Bond, in the bathtub – it’s something all Guides can do, it’s what I would have done for you had he not been there.” Dwalin growled, low, at the thought and Bilbo frowned irritably as well. He did not like that idea at all. “He is connected to you now and without that connection he will start to fade. We can break it, at this stage that is easy, but if we do, you won’t ever be able to Bond properly with him. I think it is best for both of your sakes to keep the partial Bond in place – it is helping you with your senses and making his awakening much easier for him, never mind what breaking it would do to your future.”
“He seemed fine at dinner.”
“He seemed fine when you were holding him.” Ori explained wryly. Bilbo felt oddly embarrassed at the way he worded it.
“You’re saying I need to… hold… the Hobbit?”
“You can try not saying it like it horrifies you. And yes, you already know this. A partial Bond is sustained and strengthened through contact. Dwalin and I slept together every night until we completed the Bond. I would suggest, given our circumstances, that you do the same.”
Bilbo blushed, suddenly feeling like he couldn’t keep listening to this conversation. He grumbled a low breath and shuffled himself to lie on his other side, hoping that it wouldn’t be as rocky on that side. It was, but he was still able to finally close his eyes and sleep.
He slept so well, in fact, that when he felt someone moving him, felt suddenly much more comfortable and so deliciously warm, he woke up only enough to accept that he was completely safe before he fell into the deepest sleep of his life.
When he woke up the next morning, he stretched out the kinks from lying on the ground, and froze when he realised he was stretching his body against someone. Someone who was lying behind him, on the same bedroll.
“Relax, Hobbit.” The deep voice of the King rumbled behind him, before he moved. Bilbo yelped as he suddenly rolled backwards when the supporting weight disappeared, and by the time he struggled out of the bedroll Thorin was standing tall and directing the pack up of the camp. Bilbo scurried to pack up his bedroll – and Thorin’s, he noticed. He felt incredible, better than he had in years in fact.
They completed necessary ablutions and collected water from the stream nearby. Breakfast was a hard packed roll of oats and syrup that had been specifically designed by a couple of Hobbits for travelling Dwarves. They were pushing forward within a short while of waking up, galloping on pony-back towards their next stop. Bilbo didn’t get a chance to speak to Thorin, to find out what was going on.
When they settled for lunch, Bilbo found he was ravenously hungry and quickly ate his share. It was a huge difference to yesterday, and he found himself remembering the overheard conversation from the previous day. Whatever this partial Bond worked, he realised that he liked it.
“Bilbo, do you mind if I sit here?” Ori’s soft voice asked. Bilbo smiled at him and nodded.
“Of course, Ori. I was hoping to speak with you. I have a few questions.”
“About being a Guide?”
“Yes. I was hoping, well… I don’t really understand much.”
“OK. Well, there’s a lot to learn, more than I can really cover here. But the important things, I can explain. You’re a Guide. Before yesterday, you were a latent Guide, but when you helped Thorin your full abilities woke up. I think, to be honest, that you were coming online the whole week – your mindscape felt… different. And you had the headaches, they are fairly common in Guides when they are first coming online.”
“I’ve heard stories, Guides who first come online and they always sound like they are in so much pain.”
“Usually, yes. I suffered for over a year before I met Dwalin. Some go longer… but not many. Guides, we only tend to come online around Sentinels that are right for us. I met Dwalin once, he was escorting Nori home after… well. I was latent, but being in his presence for only that short space of time was enough and a week later I was fully online. A year later, I finally found him again and we created the partial Bond.
“You and Thorin are slightly different – you’ve been coming online slowly since the two of you met, but when you helped him last night you created the partial Bond and came online. You never had a chance to feel the pain of being online without a Sentinel because you had a Sentinel in your mind from the second you came online.”
“What is the partial Bond?” Bilbo asked quietly, trying to process the things Ori had told him.
“How much do you understand about the Bond?” Ori asked instead.
“It’s a Bond between Sentinels and Guides, it’s a mental thing.”
“Yes, and no. Sentinels have five advanced senses – they can see, hear, smell, taste and touch better than others. They also have abilities to process that information in ways that others don’t, it can sometimes seem like… like a premonition. Several online Sentinels had premonitions of something dangerous coming before the Dragon came, and their warning saved hundreds of Dwarves. But with their strengths come risks – zone outs like Thorin had yesterday, when he became so focused on something that he lost track of the world around him, because all he could sense was that one thing. And sensory spikes – suddenly one or more sense goes so high they can’t process it any more and it just hurts. His rash, yesterday, was a form of a sensory spike where his skin couldn’t handle what it was touching and started up an allergic reaction.”
“So they have Guides.”
“So they have Guides. We have mental abilities beyond others of our kind, it gives us empathetic abilities and the ability to connect with the minds of others. We can sense if people are lying, and catch hints of emotion, especially strong emotion. But we have no natural shields for our minds, and we are vulnerable to others. This is why you had a headache all week – our minds were pressing in on yours, you couldn’t process it because you weren’t online but you could feel it.
“We build a connection with our Sentinels, nest ourselves in their minds and they create shields – they don’t have the same abilities we do but they have enough to shelter and Bond with us. This is the partial Bond. This is then built on to create the full Bond through a physical connection – usually sex, but it doesn’t have to be. The Sentinel imprints all of their senses on us and we become the centre of their senses. They no longer suffer sensory spikes because they balance their senses on us, they are less likely to zone and when they do zone our Bond allows us to connect with them and bring them around quickly. Others can bring them out of it but it takes a long time.”
“Sex?” Bilbo squeaked. Ori grinned.
“It’s not needed for a Bond. But it is a lot easier and stronger than a Bond without sex and really, once you’re Bonded, the idea of letting someone else touch you is… well, if you want sex, you’re going to want it with your Sentinel.”
“Ok,” Bilbo said, and decided that was more than enough of that conversation. “So I have a partial Bond with Thorin. What happens now?”
“The partial Bond doesn’t go away on its own, but you can break it if you want to. But it creates… I don’t know how to explain it. I’d say it’s like a scar. You can both still Bond but you can’t Bond with each other – the broken Bond blocks you from creating a new one.”
“I’d never be able to Bond with Thorin?” Bilbo hadn’t realised how he felt about the Bond, really, but the idea of never sharing this with Thorin again was awful.
“No,” Ori said gently, clearly understanding Bilbo’s sudden pain.
“Ok, that’s not… I don’t want that.”
“Well then, you would Bond fully. You can keep the partial Bond but it’s not enough, really – for either of you. You’re still vulnerable to particularly strong emotion or a mental attack, and Thorin is still at risk of sensory spikes. You don’t have to rush into anything, but you should Bond as soon as you can.”
“And we do that by…”
“Well, Thorin does most of the work at this point. He needs to imprint all of his senses on you. He probably already has a full imprint for hearing – he needs to listen to the sound of your heartbeat and breathing and imprint on that, I would be very surprised if he hasn’t already. He needs to imprint your natural scent as well, he’s probably got a partial imprint but the deeper scent – that’s in your glands behind your ears, your wrists and stomach and your groin. Then he tastes – they usually taste at the glands, to get both the taste and smell from the richest source. Touch comes next, he needs to touch every inch of your body, memorise your scars and moles and freckles, the feel of your skin and your hair…” Ori trailed off and shivered from positive memories. Bilbo was feeling quite… flushed himself.
“Then you make the mental connection. Sex is the best way to do it, really, but if you’re not comfortable with that, you would need to meditate together and Bond mentally. And that’s it, you’re his Guide.”
“Bilbo?” Bilbo squeaked, and went bright red as Thorin strode up and stared at him. He had no doubts, suddenly, that Thorin had been listening to the entire conversation.
Ori melted away quickly, leaving just Bilbo and Thorin together. Bilbo stood up, looking the King in the eye. He could see Dwarves moving around, packing away their lunch things. They were preparing to go again, he realised – had probably been waiting for he and Ori to be ready.
“Are we ready to go?” Bilbo asked softly. Thorin nodded, once, and touched his cheek gently. Then he turned around and strode back to camp. Bilbo slumped a little, then squirmed as he realised he needed to get on a pony in his… current state.
It was a fairly uncomfortable ride.
* * * * *
“Thorin, may I have a word?” Bilbo asked that night after they had eaten their fill. The others were already pulling out instruments and starting up some tunes, which gave he and Thorin some privacy as they moved away from the others and towards a copse of trees. Bilbo spread out his bedroll and sat carefully on it, inviting Thorin to join him. Thorin lowered himself to the blankets carefully, but his face was open as he looked at Bilbo.
“I spoke to Ori today. I understand what has happened between us and know what comes next. I also overheard your conversation yesterday – you have been alone for a long time, Thorin. I might not be a Dwarf, or a real Guide. But I can help you, and you… you make me feel safe. My Gift is not going to go away, I know that, and I can’t comprehend living without you. I want… I want to complete our Bond.”
Thorin watched him in stone-faced silence for a long time, until Bilbo was squirming under his gaze and bright red. Then he spoke. “First, I never want to hear you speak that way again. You are a real Guide, Bilbo; you are strong, and empathetic and have powerful mental abilities. Even before your gifts manifested, you were generous and kind and welcoming; and brave for all your fears. You were the ideal Guide before you ever became my Guide and I would be honoured to have you as mine. But… I’m not sure if I feel comfortable Bonding with you while you still know so little about your nature.”
“I know this, Thorin. Ori has explained about the Bond, and how important it is. And I may never have been online without our Bond but I already know that it would be painful. I don’t want to lose our partial Bond. But, I need you to hear me on this Thorin, I know we could keep the partial Bond and I would be fine, for the time. You would be fine for the time being. But we might die on this journey – we probably will, lets be honest. It’s going to be a long, difficult journey and I don’t want to do it with only part of you. If this is all we have I want it to be everything. I don’t want to face that dragon and regret what time we could have had. And I’m definitely not letting you face the dragon with less than everything, so we will Bond before we get there, no matter what else happens.”
“Don’t you want time?” Thorin asked, worry clear in his eyes. Bilbo grumbled, and decisively began stripping off his clothes.
“You have as much time as it takes to get naked.” He retorted sharply. “That’s all I need. I might not know everything about being a Guide, but I know enough to know that this Bond is the best thing for us both and I want this.”
Thorin grunted, wide eyes drinking Bilbo in as he got down to his smallclothes. Bilbo’s hands slowed finally – he’d gotten this far on passion, but suddenly he realised he was about to completely expose his soft, naked body to the Dwarven King. Thorin was watching Bilbo’s hands as they fumbled with his smallclothes, before he growled sharply and began almost tearing his own clothes off. Bilbo took the brief reprieve from his eyes to strip the remaining clothes off and shame-facedly pull out the vial of lavender oil he had filched from the baths at the Guardhouse. He had planned to use it if Thorin had another reaction, but this was as good a reason to use it.
Thorin’s eyes went from the naked Hobbit, to the vial, to the bedroll. He smirked; confidence suddenly in his every move as he swaggered naked to Bilbo, pushed him down on the bedroll and crouched over him.
“It is flattering to see how much planning went into this, dear Hobbit.” He rumbled happily, bent down and kissed him thoroughly.
Bilbo moaned, letting the vial roll out of his hand to thunk lightly onto the bedroll, and buried his hands in Thorin’s hair. He felt Thorin’s hands roam over his body, touching him everywhere he could reach – his ears, his hair, his cheeks. His neck, shoulders and chest were mapped out with careful, thorough hands. He paid particular attention to his nipples when they made Bilbo shiver, trailed lightly over his sides but didn’t linger when it made him ticklish. They touched his stomach with gentle, almost reverent hands, and stroked slowly lower. He whimpered disappointedly when the hands lifted away a hairsbreadth away from his groin.
Thorin’s mouth trailed lower, lingering at Bilbo’s throat. The scent glands, he realised, but it didn’t feel like imprinting – it felt like seduction, like possession. His back arched with a soft cry when Thorin bit down gently, panting wildly as the mouth just kept going, sucking and biting over and over. He’d never believed that his neck was so sensitive but it felt like every nerve-ending in his body was singing.
Thorin pulled back, lips shiny and eyes bright.
“I’ve imprinted on hearing, sight, smell and taste.” He rumbled. “Now all that’s left is touch. I’m going to touch you, Bilbo.” His hands returned to their previous place on his stomach, stroking a burning line down his quivering abdomen. “Everywhere,” he promised darkly.
Bilbo’s head flopped back onto his pillow as Thorin, true to his word, touched him everywhere. Some touches, like the quick strokes down his calves, were clinical and quick. Some, like the several long, teasing strokes over the top of his feet, were not. His hips earned gentle trickling fingers, his legs a full palm. His cock earned one soft, teasing finger, that stroked slowly from base to tip, then dipped into the slit in the middle. Thorin caught and held Bilbo’s eyes as he licked the drop of semen from the tip.
The Bilbo was flipped onto his stomach and the touches resumed, shoulders to back, thighs, calves. Bilbo squirmed and giggled when his feet were stroked over, then his ankles. Then his arsecheeks were cupped and stroked, earning a blissful sigh. Finally, Thorin drew back and the vial was picked up.
“One more place, Bilbo, and we’re all done.” He promised. By the time Bilbo realised his meaning, the scent of lavender was filling the air and one oil-slick finger was pressing inside him.
Thorin mapped him out carefully inside, finger pushing and prodding then curling. Bilbo groaned at the strange but pleasurable feeling of Thorin inside him and wiggled a little in encouragement.
Thorin rolled him back over. Bilbo looked up and caught his eyes – they were still bright, but now fond and soft as well. There was something so light in Thorin’s eyes, and he realised it was the Bond. Bilbo cupped his cheek and drew him into a tender kiss.
“Finish the Bond, Thorin.” He asked quietly. Thorin nodded, and gently tugged Bilbo’s legs until they were wrapped around his waist and his hips were hiked up. It wasn’t the best position, but he couldn’t imagine not watching Thorin’s face as this happened.
The oil was spread over Thorin’s cock, and he could feel the reside sliding over his hands and Thorin lined himself up and pressed inside.
It wasn’t comfortable, not really – too big and stretched and on the point of sore, like having ridden a pony for too long. But it didn’t hurt and the connection he could already feel was incredible. His own joy and arousal was joined by Thorin’s, then excitement crept in, and lust burning with affection. He revelled in the sensations to the point that he was barely aware of Thorin thrusting into Bilbo in long, deep pushes. He came back into his body all of a sudden, crying loudly as the pressure and pleasure inside him suddenly exploded. He and Thorin spiralled higher and tighter together, pleasure and emotion building on themselves and each other over and over and over until they plummeted together as one being.
* * * * *
Bilbo wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. They had a long journey ahead of them, dangers he wouldn’t even know about until they happened, and if they survived they would have to face a dragon. There was so much coming, but all of it was worth it. Because he had Thorin now, by his side and in his heart, lodged there permanently.
Whatever came next, he knew they could face this together.