Title: An Unusual Malady
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: The Hobbit
Genre: Canon Divergence
Warnings: Canon-typical nonsense. Author handwave of convenience. No beta.
Word Count: 2242
Author Note: This is for the One Sentence Prompt on Rough Trade. You can find the challenge here. Also, I absconded with Keira’s worldbuilding around Saruman and Erebor. Because HEAD CANON.
Keira’s Response: Accidental Dragon Slayer (link to her site)
Prompt: Bilbo Baggins accidentally kills Smaug and has to figure out how to go tell the dwarrow who are waiting for him to come back with that stupid stone.
– – – –
“Well, you see, Thorin, I gather dragons are somewhat…allergic to Hobbits…” Bilbo trailed off and fisted his hands in his tangled curls. “No, that sounds ridiculous, and I don’t even know that it was an allergy to me.” He looked back at the dragon. “Or an allergy at all, really. Maybe it was a weak heart?”
He huffed and continued to pace over the piles of gold coins. “You see, Thorin, I lost almost all my possessions during the course of this journey, and when I saw those herbs growing wild outside of Lake-town…” he dropped his head in his hands. “This is terrible. They sent me in here to steal a stupid rock, not kill a dragon.”
He eyed the body. “If that doesn’t weigh twelve-thousand stone, I’ll eat my favorite doily.” Giving a truly aggrieved sigh, he stared at the ceiling of the cavernous chamber. “Green Lady, not that you’ve ever spoken to me, but your guidance would be greatly appreciated.” He looked toward Smaug again. “Before it starts to smell.”
A glint off in the distance caught his eye. It was brighter than all the other trinkets in the treasure, and now that he wasn’t trying to prevent a dragon from eating him, it was easy enough to see. He stomped over to the source of the sparkle and stared down at a large stone, sparkling in what seemed a merry fashion.
“Are you what all this fuss is about?” It was certainly unique in appearance and just as Thorin described it, though Bilbo privately had no idea why all the hubbub. It was still just a rock. He leaned down and picked it up.
“I am what they call the Arkenstone,” a voice said in his mind.
Bilbo promptly dropped the stone, blinking in shock. After a few seconds, the stone glinted in a way that had nothing whatsoever to do with external light. He had the peculiar though that the glinting as annoyed.
Feeling more than a little trepidation, he picked up the stone again. “Did you just talk to me?”
“And how is this possible?”
“I can speak to any who hold me.”
“What are you?”
“A remnant of a time long past.”
“Do the dwarves—”
“The plural of dwarf is dwarrow.”
“Um. Okay. Interesting how you know that. Being a rock and all.”
“I most assuredly am not a rock. But I’m all that’s left of my kind.”
“Oh.” Bilbo toed the gold pile nearest him, feeling sheepish. “I’m terribly sorry. That sounds…lonely. How did you come to be here?”
“This was my home, and I went to sleep deep in the earth, waiting for time to end. I slowly crystalized into this form.”
“And then they dug you up?”
“They woke me and never had the decency to even speak with me. By the time I was completely awake, which took more than a year, only Thrór was allowed to handle me. Thrór was already consumed his gold lust. He talked to me quite a lot, but the more I said, the more he believed me talking to him was proof of his divine right to do whatever he chose. The fool.”
Bilbo scratched the back of his head. “I’m supposed to take you to Thorin, but I accidentally killed that dragon, and I’m not sure how to explain any of this. We hobbits are not cut out for adventuring.”
“You are not taking me anywhere until you break the curse on the line of Durin. He’ll be just as nutty as his grandfather in due course, and I’ll have none of that. I’ve been used as an ornament quite enough, thank you.”
“What’s this now?”
“Someone cast a curse on the line. I can feel it emanating from this very room. Any of the Durins who ever resided in the mountain will struggle with gold sickness, but being in the mountain again, and so close to the source of the curse, their fall is once again assured.”
“And who cursed them?”
“This I cannot say for I went to sleep long before any being who now walk the land even existed.”
“All right, then, point me to this curse and let’s be done with it. There’s entirely too much gold in here for me to want to deal with dwarrow lusting after it. Sounds quite dreadful and not at all hobbity.” He paused. “And if you could help me think of a way to explain the dead dragon, I would be most appreciative.”
“Dragons existed in my time, though none I knew would still breathe air. They had but one weakness.” A picture of a plant filled his mind.
“Oh. Bumblebrush. I put together an herb sachet just outside Lake-town. I was carrying it in my pocket. It grows wild all over the Shire; we use it in all manner of food and drink, not to mention medicinal tinctures.”
“Then I rather think the dragon would have been allergic to you as well if it’s a staple in your diet. Of course, the only way to prove my supposition would be for him to have eaten you.”
“We’ll have none of that, thank you. The very notion would put a hobbit right off afternoon tea.”
“In my time, it only grew in the West, so the Westerners had little fear from dragons.”
“I think it may still be so. I had seen none on our journey until that small patch outside Lake-town. I fancied that a hobbit had once journeyed here and planted that as a reminder of home.”
“And you fed the herb to the dragon?”
“Not precisely. I was invisible at the time, but he was swinging his head around much too close to me for comfort. I worried he’d smell me. The herbs I’d gathered are quite fragrant and I thought to confuse his sense of smell. I threw them at him, bounced the sachet right off his nose. He immediately took in a great breath, I think perhaps to sneeze. I must say, I have no desire to see a dragon sneeze. But then there was choking and gasping. It was quite distressing.” He shuddered at the memory. “I had to stop myself from offering aid.”
“You poisoned him, then.”
“So he’s most certainly dead?”
“Oh yes. Dragons are highly, violently allergic to your bumble weed.”
“Bumblebrush,” Bilbo muttered. “However shall I explain it though?”
“Explain or not as you choose, Master Hobbit.”
“Bilbo. I doubt your dwarrow will be particularly bothered to have the dragon dealt with. Surely they had no wish to fell the beast themselves.”
“But how will we move it?” He shot the carcass a worried look. “Before it becomes…malodorous.”
“Dragons turn to gold when they die. Tell your Thorin to think of it as a large decoration.”
“Do they really?”
“Indeed, small one. It begins from the heart and takes about one turn of the sun. Now, tell me of hobbits while I guide you to the cursed stone.”
“How did you already know about dwarrow?”
“From Thrór’s mind.”
“And you speak Westron…”
“I speak whatever you speak.”
“We’re not really speaking, are we?”
“No, that’s why touch is required. You speak out loud, but I understand your intent. You interpret the…impressions I send into your language.”
“I think I’ll have many questions.”
“We shall converse, then. But first, let us tend to this curse.”
– – – –
Bilbo made his way back to meet with the company with Emily in his pocket—she’d let him name her because it wasn’t at all hobbity to go about calling someone so pleasant “the stone.”
Thorin was the first he encountered and he was quickly pulled into a small alcove as Thorin looked him over from head to toe. “Are you well, Bilbo? Have you been harmed in any way?”
Bilbo felt a warm feeling deep in his belly. “I am well. Truly,” he added when Thorin seemed disbelieving.
“The dragon lives? Is it awake?”
“It was alive, yes. Although…” Bilbo scuffed at the floor with this toe.
“Bilbo?” Thorin asked worriedly.
Bilbo looked up, meeting Thorin’s concerned gaze. “I may have killed it.”
Thorin blinked a few times then chuckled. “Your humor is peculiar, but I find myself appreciative of it nonetheless.”
Bilbo crossed his arms over his chest. “The dragon is dead. It’s apparently quite allergic to…hobbity things.”
Frowning, Thorin took Bilbo by the upper arms and held him away. “This is no matter for pranks—”
“Well, yes, because I’m just the sort of hobbit to play pranks about dragons. Wouldn’t it be amusing if we could incorporate a balrog into my next hoax.”
“You think the dragon was allergic to you?” Thorin said slowly, skepticism laced his tone.
“I’ve had quite enough of you dwarves,” Bilbo said, stomping his foot, pulling Emily from his pocket. “Talk to Emily. Maybe she’ll be able to get through your thick, stubborn, dwarf skull.” With that, he slapped Emily into Thorin’s hand and stomped off.
– – – –
Bilbo sat at the edge of the rock ledge near the door where they’d entered the mountain. His feet dangling off the edge, with the long drop below. All the dwarrow were in the mountain, and he’d heard from no one since he came outside.
The sound of small stones shifting alerted him to someone’s presence. Thorin sat next to him, booted feet dangling the way Bilbo’s bare ones were. Bilbo glanced over and saw Thorin cradling Emily in his hands.
“She said you named her Emily.”
Bilbo shrugged. “It’s a pretty name, and she’s lovely.”
“Yes, she is. And she thanks you for the compliment.”
“She understands me when we’re not touching?”
There was a brief pause before Thorin replied, “She said she absorbed your language, so, yes, she can understand you.”
“Interesting.” Bilbo swung his feet a little.
“She also said you broke the source of the curse on my line.”
“It was one of those pretty rocks you dwarrow find so alluring.”
“I found the shards of it. We thought it to be a diamond. It was the centerpiece of a gift from Saruman.”
Bilbo shot him a sharp look. “The White Wizard?”
“Yes.” Thorin peered out at the distance. “He cursed the line of Durin with gold sickness.”
“To what end?”
“That is an interesting question, isn’t it? Why make us value gold above all else?”
“Well, there is rather a lot of it in this mountain,” Bilbo mused.
“Vast stores of it.”
“Did he wish to make you more attached to staying inside your mountain?”
“Perhaps, but it only affected the line of Durin.”
Thorin looked over at him. “Yes.”
“The ones who would have the control over the gold and could keep it in the mountain. What draws a dragon?”
“Any gold?” Bilbo pressed.
Thorin cocked his head to the side. “Emily says dragons only value gold that represents wealth. Which means it must be converted from its raw form.”
“And you do have quite the treasury.”
“Thrór’s doing. So Saruman wished to draw a dragon to Erebor,” Thorin said, tone heavy.
“But why would anyone wish for a dragon?”
“Erebor was a stabilizing force in the East.”
“In terms of…?”
“In holding off and containing the orcs and goblins, not to mention as a trade center. There were many more small settlements of men when I was last here.”
“Oh.” Bilbo thunked his heels against the rocks, thinking. “And why would he want orcs and goblins?”
“I don’t know. We can only infer his intent, but I would guess that the White Wizard has become corrupt and seeks to bring Sauron back.”
“That seems…like a poor choice.”
“Indeed,” Thorin said on a laugh. “A very poor choice.”
“So what will you do?”
“I do not know. Wait for Gandalf to return and share with him our suspicions. Let him converse with…Emily. For now, Saruman is an issue for wizards, elves, and men. Durin’s Folk are scattered and we’ve only recently found our home. But there will come a day when we will be able to join the fight against the darkness that threatens all Arda. Until then, all we do is rebuild.”
“And you’ll accept no more trinkets, no matter how shiny, from wizards?”
“Nay.” Thorin smiled at him. “No shiny trinkets.”
“What of Emily?”
“She will help me so long as I allow her to advise me and exist with me or in the keeping of those I trust. She deeply resented being used as an…ornament.”
“Terrible thing to do to one as clever as she. Placing her above your throne like she was a bit of decoration.” He shot Thorin a disapproving look.
“I didn’t know!”
Bilbo sighed and stared out at the distance. “What now?”
“I think that question is best put to you.”
Startled, Bilbo glanced at Thorin. “Pardon me?”
“I have my home again, Bilbo, thanks to you.” Thorin’s look was intense and unfathomable to Bilbo. “There is much to do, and I must arrange to bring my people here, but our quest is at its end. What will you do next?”
Bilbo frowned, staring down the side of the mountain until he felt dizzy with it.
“I would have you stay,” Thorin said softly. “If that matters.”
Bilbo felt a deep relief. “It does.”
“And if you stay, may I court you?”
Bilbo smiled and reached out for Thorin’s hand.
– – – –
EndNote: You can answer this prompt if you’d like (and link to us both) and share your link with me, but you do not have permission to continue my work on this prompt.