Title: Bella’s Garden
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: The Hobbit
Challenge: Fluff Bingo (Gifts)
Relationship: Bellarose Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield
Genre: Romance, Established Relationship, Alternate Universe, Rule 63
Warnings: No beta
Word Count: 3,818
Author’s Note: Post-Battle of the Five Armies – the Durins live, AlwaysAGirl!Bilbo. The first time I ever read about cabbage patch babies was in Flowers for Yavanna by SOABA. It remains my favorite fic in the trope six years on.
Summary: Life in the mountain isn’t everything she was promised, but she’s not unhappy. Truly. She has everything she needs.
* * * *
Bella carefully tucked the last of her letters into the pouch that she’d been preparing for a week. A ranger had brought her a letter from the Thain regarding her property in Hobbiton, and she’d had to make a decision she’d been putting off since she’d agreed to stay in Erebor and marry Thorin Oakenshield. Dwarrow coming from the Blue Mountains had detoured into the Shire and retrieved her belongings six months after the battle against the Pale Orc’s army.
“Shall I take your message pouch to the Dale, Your Majesty? The ranger is staying with Lord Bard.”
Bella looked up and focused on Dwalin, who still insisted on speaking so formally to her after everything they’d gone through. There had been a shift in their interactions on the quest when Bella had accepted Thorin’s courting bead. From that moment forward, no matter anything else, she’d been a queen in Dwalin’s eyes. When Thorin had briefly succumbed to dragon-induced gold madness, Dwalin had stood in her defense so ardently that even now months later, the friendship between the two dwarrow was strained.
“Yes, thank you.” She held the pouch out. “Where’s Thorin?”
“The king is currently in the council chambers having a meeting with the Master’s Guild regarding the price of goods being exported out of the mountain,” Dwalin explained. “If he escapes without drawing blood, I’ll be astonished.”
“Should I extract him or leave him to his brawl?” Bella questioned and grinned when Dwalin laughed.
“Let him have his brawl,” Dwalin suggested. “Every dwarf in that room has it coming.” He tucked the pouch into his cloak pocket and inclined his head. “I’ll spend the evening in Dale if anyone asks. Balin knows my plans.”
Bella nodded and refrained from slouching back in her chair until he’d closed the door behind. She fiddled with her quill briefly, then stood and left her elegantly appointed office with a frown. She honestly couldn’t hardly stand to be in the room. It was her public space and had nothing of her own things in it. She had a private study in the royal suite with her furniture and books from the Shire. It was a cozy, lovely space with a fireplace, and very few in the mountain could move that far into the suite so there would be no interruptions.
She made it all the way to the anteroom that the whole royal household shared before she was stopped. Bella swallowed back unexpected ire as her sister-in-law stood. Dís was actually one of her favorite people in the whole mountain, but Bella desperately needed to be alone.
“Dís.” She tried to smile, but her eyes welled with tears unexpectedly, and she took a shaky breath. “How can I help you?”
Dís paused. “The supplies from Dale have been sorted. I had your crate brought up, but Dori took possession of the cloth you’d purchased. He said you’d already put your order in with his guild.”
“I did,” Bella said and cleared her throat. “A winter cloak and boots.” She curled her bare feet against the stone floor. “And some slippers since the floor is so cold in the winter.” She swallowed deeply and tried to blink away the tears, but they slipped down her cheeks.
“Bella, darling, what’s wrong?” Dís asked in shock. She came forward and took one of her hands. “You’re shaking.”
“I gave away Bag End today,” she said, and her breath hitched. “My cousin Drogo’s wife will plant things in my mother’s garden, and she’ll cradle her faunts there, and I always thought it would be me, but even before the quest no hobbit wanted that life with me, and I never understood what was wrong with me.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Dís protested vehemently, and Bella found herself hauled into a rough hug.
Honestly, Dís was no better than her brother when it came to such things, but Bella just clung to the dwarrowdam and sobbed. She felt like her heart was breaking, and that didn’t make any sense since she had a perfectly good life in Erebor. She found herself abruptly put on a sofa and huffed a little as it was tall, and her feet dangled.
“You don’t have to give your smial away,” Dís said. “I’ll have the letters retrieved.”
“The Thain made it clear I had to make a choice,” Bella said. “Otherwise he’d do it for me. He said Bag End couldn’t sit empty.” She accepted the handkerchief Dís offered and patted her face. “But my father built it for my mother, and it’s not fair. He said I wasn’t a proper hobbit anymore, so I shouldn’t plan to ever return to the Shire and didn’t need a smial at all anymore.”
“Did you tell Thorin about this?” Dís demanded.
“No, things are already tense between them since the Thain refused to acknowledge our marriage. In a way, he’s right. I’m not a proper hobbit, and maybe I’ll never get a chance to go back to the Shire anyway. It just hurts.”
“When Smaug came, and we were driven from the mountain, I thought I’d never have a home again,” Dís said quietly. “Thorin worked so hard to shelter me from our reality, even though he was no more of an adult than I. My father was forced to focus on his own father, who was gold mad. His insanity drove him to make terrible decisions, and our clan paid for those mistakes for decades. Even the dragon’s arrival could be lain at Thror’s feet.”
“Smaug would’ve come no matter how much Thror hoarded. Dragons are drawn to gold ore, and there is no richer mountain for gold in Arda than Erebor.” Bella took a deep breath. “All of your history books talk about it at length. I’ve been helping Ori repair and remake books in the library.” She rubbed her arms and took a deep breath. “I thought I was adjusting.”
“We did as well,” Dís said quietly and took a deep breath. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No.” Bella shook her head. “I just need more time I guess. I think I’ll bake.” She glanced toward the door that led to her private kitchen. She’d been thrilled to find it in the royal wing, but it had been a genuine battle keeping it unstaffed. “Bread or perhaps biscuits.”
“I really liked the lemon scones you made last week,” Dís said.
“I think I have two lemons left,” Bella said and slipped off the sofa. “I’ll be fine, Dís, I just need to adjust to losing a part of my childhood. I thought I would… live my whole life in Bag End. It’s a very reasonable sort of expectation for a hobbit, and my life got unexpectedly bigger than that little dream.”
Dís gave her a long, searching look then nodded. “Have a good afternoon, Bella.”
Bella retreated to the kitchen. It was one of the spaces in the royal wing that had been renovated to fit her needs—the counters had been quite tall to start, and Thorin hadn’t wanted her perching on various chairs to cook. She made the lemon scones and tucked them in a lidded basket for Dís to find later then retreated to her study. She considered unpacking her shopping, but there was nothing in it that she needed at the moment. After staring at the walls for a few moments, she left the room and went to the bed chamber she’d slept in since they’d claimed the mountain. Thorin had insisted on a very proper courting, so he hadn’t shared her bed until after they married.
It had amused her really since hobbits didn’t put such restrictions on courtships in the Shire. She’d taken four lovers throughout her life, and when she’d confessed to such Thorin had taken it in stride but had still insisted on a proper courting period. She went to the balcony and pushed open the doors. It was autumn in Erebor, and the crisp, cold air streaming down off the snowcap was breathtaking. She looked out over the valley. There was beauty in this part of Arda, but it was so different than what she’d grown up with.
“Bella,” Thorin murmured as he wrapped a cloak around her shoulders. “It’s quite cold.”
She turned and offered him a smile. “I thought you were in a guild meeting.”
Thorin brushed his fingers gently across her cheek. “Dís told me you were upset.”
“I’m sorry. I should’ve told her not to bother you,” she said and turned back to the view. “The desolation is recovering—next year I want to speak with Bard about repairing the land. It will require his cooperation.”
“Bard mentioned it himself—he said that your input would be invaluable. There was a discussion of sourcing seeds and the like. Perhaps you could send him a letter.”
“I will,” Bella said and took a deep breath as Thorin’s hands settled on her hips. He pulled her back against his chest. “I’m fine.”
“Oh, lass, you look like someone broke your heart,” Thorin whispered fiercely against her hair. “I stand here in my ancestral home because of the sacrifices you made, and you’ve been forced to give up everything.”
“Not everything,” Bella protested. “I’d change nothing.” She frowned. “Well, perhaps I would’ve chucked that magic ring at Smaug sooner rather than later given a chance to do it again.” She made a face. “Or maybe you could’ve done it so people wouldn’t call me Bellarose Dragonslayer behind my back.”
Thorin laughed against her hair. “I am humbled to be in such company, Wife.”
Bella huffed dramatically and curled her hands around the railing. Throwing the ring at the dragon had been a moment of panic and desperation. The magical explosion had destroyed the ring, the dragon, and a large portion of the treasury. It had taken the company four days to dig her and Thorin out.
“Is there anything I can do to ease you?” Thorin questioned.
Bella’s hand went to her breastbone because the heartseed she carried took that moment to vibrate gently against the bone. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “I just need a bit of time, that’s all.”
One of the most disheartening conversations she’d had with Thorin during the quest had been about children. He’d told her that he had two heirs and had no need for another. She’d been surprised since dwarrow clearly valued their children highly. Still, she’d said yes to marrying him, knowing that he’d never welcome children with her. There were times, in the Shire, when a heartseed didn’t get planted for one reason or another. Most often, Bella would admit it was due to a lack of resources. To create a child, one could not provide for was a grave crime amongst hobbits.
“I never suspected I would get to this age and have no children of my own,” Bella blurted out and winced at his sharp exhale. “Most start their families shortly after they marry in the Shire. I received my first courting gesture just after I turned 34, but the hobbit in question was a dreadful bore, so I declined it. My grandfather soon realized I was going to be a very difficult hobbit to please when it came to such things and often found my interactions with others to be very amusing. Perhaps if he’d known I’d dart out of the Shire at the first opportunity, he wouldn’t have found my disposition so amusing.”
“Is he punishing you for marrying me?” Thorin questioned.
“No, because in his mind, I am not married and never will be,” Bella shrugged. “If he is punishing me, it is because I dared to leave the Shire and live elsewhere. Such behavior is considered quite unnatural.”
“I am sorry that you never had the chance to have children,” Thorin said. “But selfishly grateful, you’d not given your heart to some hobbit lad before we ever had an opportunity to meet.”
“Oh, none of those lads were ever going to hold my interest,” Bella said. “My mother claimed I was born with adventure in my heart, and my father often added that she was to blame. She’d have liked you.”
“And your father?”
“Oh, he’d find you genuinely appalling,” Bella admitted with a laugh. “He was a very proper sort of hobbit who never once strayed from the Shire. Many were surprised when he married my mother because she spent most of her youth trying to escape everyone else’s expectations. If Gandalf had shown up at his door with thirteen dwarrow, my father would’ve dragged that wizard straight out of the Shire by his beard.”
“It’s terrible, but I would’ve liked to have seen it,” Thorin confessed. “If I could, I would give you a child.”
Bella frowned and turned to face him. “What?”
He cupped her cheek and took a deep breath. “I saw the way you reacted when Duma and Fíli announced that she’d conceived. No matter how well you hid it from everyone else—I know it upset you.”
“I’m pleased for them,” Bella protested.
“And sad for yourself,” Thorin said. “And that’s fine, Bella, you’re entitled to feel as you do. If it were within my power to heal whatever prevents you from conceiving—I would see it done.”
“Thorin.” Bella took a deep breath. “What on Arda are you talking about?”
“The fact that you can’t have children,” Thorin said.
“I…” She pursed her lips. “You said you didn’t want children. You were very clear about it. After you offered me the courting bead, I thought that you just didn’t want to have half-hobbit children…” She trailed off when his mouth dropped open. “But then I noticed in Lake-town that you avoided Bard’s children as if they were little trolls out to toss you in a soup pot, so then I just decided that you didn’t like children.”
Thorin snorted. “Still not funny, lass.” He cleared his throat. “When Gandalf told us that the burglar he’d chosen for us was female—Óin asked what sort of supplies he should pack to help you manage your monthly cycle. Many of our females use tea to control physical discomfort, so he wanted to be prepared if your own supplies were lost or ran out. Gandalf stated that it wouldn’t be an issue for you at all.”
“Thorin.” Bella huffed. “We have terrible communication skills!” She wrapped one hand around a thick braid and tugged it sharply. “Female hobbits don’t have any sort of monthly cycle. At all. Ever.” She pursed her lips. “We don’t have babies like everyone else, either, for that matter.”
“I don’t understand,” Thorin admitted. “Where do hobbits come from?”
She laughed a little despite how ridiculous the situation was turning out to be. “You told me you didn’t want children before you offered me a courting bead, so I wouldn’t…”
“Reject me,” Thorin supplied. “And to assure you that it didn’t matter to me. And it doesn’t, Bella. I love you.”
Bella shook her head. “I’m going to send Gandalf a deeply offensive letter.” She leaned into him a little. “Hobbits cradle their children in the ground—in the garden.”
“In the garden,” Thorin said. “How does the baby get in the ground?”
“Well, we plant them, of course.” She inclined her head. “How else would they get there?”
“How else, indeed,” Thorin repeated faintly. “You can just plant a baby whenever you want?”
“Oh, no.” Bella shook her head. “It’s a mixture of love and fey magic. It requires a deep, romantic love to create a heartseed.” She took his hand and settled it between her breasts. “The heartseed is just a physical representation of that magic that takes form once the nurturing parent cradles it.”
“This fluttering in your chest—I thought it was your heart,” Thorin said. “I felt it for the first time when we embraced on the Carrock. It was beating so wildly that I worried it might burst out of your little body.”
“It’s not my heart,” Bella said gently. “It’s our daughter.”
“Daughter,” Thorin said hoarsely. “Bella.”
Bella squeaked when her husband unceremoniously plucked her up and carried her into their bed-chamber. He sat down in the large chair by the fire and buried his face in her hair. He took one ragged breath after another.
“You’ve been carrying our child since the bloody Carrock?” Thorin demanded harshly.
“Well, since I fell in the orc mountain and was separated from the company. I did think about leaving, then, you know. I was tired and hungry, and that creature in the mountain had tried to kill me. But then I found you all—and you were clearly devastated because you thought I was dead. And I started to feel this movement in my chest, and I realized I had a heartseed. I couldn’t leave you then.” She made a face and focused on the fireplace where a bustling fire was burning. He must have stirred it before joining her on the balcony.
“Did you ever intend on telling me?” Thorin asked quietly.
“It’s considered quite beyond the pale in the Shire to force parenthood on another,” Bella murmured. “To cradle a faunt as a single parent is certainly done, but there is a conversation before it takes place so that the other party has a voice in what sort of involvement they want in the sowing and raising of the child. My father… was unwilling to cradle more than one child, and he made that clear to my mother before their marriage.” She turned her face into his hair as her eyes stung with tears.
“All these months of marriage and I feel as if I barely know you at all,” Thorin said roughly. “I would adore having as many children as we can together, Bella. Is there anything else that you’ve been keeping to yourself? Do you hate it here? Do you want to go back to the Shire?”
“I miss the Shire,” she admitted. “But not the way I thought I would. You’re my home now, and I can’t see a circumstance where that will change.” Bella shrugged. “I miss my grandmother, and sometimes I have this ache deep inside for the land in the Shire that I can’t begin to describe. I started to feel that ache before we even reached the mountain. It’s less now than it was—settling in the mountain made it easier. I’m not sure it’ll ever truly go away.”
“I can’t pretend to understand that. I missed Erebor, but I found myself at home in the Blue Mountains for many decades. Perhaps I would’ve stayed there had the resources been enough to support the clan,” Thorin murmured. “I romanticized Erebor a great deal—perhaps because I was so young when we were driven out by Smaug. But I never physically ached for it.”
“Hobbits are deeply connected to the land—we were nurtured in it and live off of it all of our lives. I don’t have that here in Erebor.”
“You’ve not asked for a garden—I kept waiting,” Thorin admitted. “We’ve all been waiting and preparing the space to make it happen. The silversmiths dedicated themselves to creating sun reflectors for the royal conservatory as soon as their workshops were operational. Taurel helped us source rich, fertile soil for it just a few weeks ago. She thought perhaps you’d want to start in the spring. I thought to give it to you as a Yule present, but I worried that it would be a misstep. I didn’t want to remind you of what you’d given up in the Shire.”
Bella’s hand clenched in his shirt briefly. “Can I see it now?”
“It’s not quite ready,” Thorin cautioned. “Most of the glass for the greenhouse needs to be replaced and is exposed to the elements.”
“It’s open-air?” Bella asked in shock.
“Partially—there is a large balcony that was once enclosed entirely, but age and no maintenance was not kind to the space. It is on the east side of the mountain—a 20-minute walk from here. There is cart access, but the tracks are disrepair. We took the soil in with push-carts. The older dwarflings took care of much of that since they can’t work in other parts of the mountain.” He cleared his throat. “There is also an ancient royal mansion near the conservatory that will eventually be renovated for us. My grandparents used those quarters once my father married. Dís suggested that you might enjoy being closer to the garden space and a larger balcony. The mansion has a balcony that connects to the conservatory and is twice the size of the one you currently have. It’s well below the snow cap, so the draft isn’t nearly as cool even in winter.”
“There are other parts of the mountain that surely need the work more.”
“Ah, Bella,” Thorin murmured. “You gave everything you had, including nearly your own life, to see Longbeards returned to this mountain. Let us give you this. It is the least of what you’re owed.”
“I don’t wish to be owed anything,” Bella protested. “That your people accept me as their queen is all that I could hope for.”
“They’d sooner toss me out of this mountain than part with you,” Thorin informed her wryly. “Their very own little dragonslayer. That’s not even to say how they’ll respond to the news of a daughter for the line of Durin. Dís was the first born in many generations. There will be a rebellion, and hopefully, I will be allowed to remain as your consort—my sweet little Queen Under the Mountain.”
“I’ll protect you,” Bella declared with a laugh. “Show me my garden. We’ll decide where to cradle our baby.”
“When?” Thorin asked.
“It’s best to cradle in the spring,” Bella said. “We have a lot to do before then—I think I want to plant tulips for her cradle, so finding bulbs might be difficult.”
“If need be, lass, I’ll send someone all the way to the Shire to get you what you need,” Thorin promised.
Bella touched her breast bone as she slipped from her husband’s lap. The fluttering changed under her fingertips abruptly, and she smiled. She’d wait, just a bit, before she told her husband that they would be cradling for two. Twins were considered a blessing and gift from Yavanna herself in the Shire. She wondered how the dwarrow of Erebor would view them.