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Cpt Hedgehopper and Lt Bellwether knocked on the door to Bag End.  The pair had stopped at the forge first, but it was closed.  Blackberry’s wine cart and empties were sat by the door. Mistress Leafwalker in the bakery said that there had been a fuss after Brandywine had entered with a lunch basket, but conceded that it looked like quite a happy fuss.

Through the green door to Bag End, the lawkeepers could hear another fuss.  It did not sound like such a happy fuss.  They knocked again and presently the door was opened by a grey-haired dwarf with his beard in elaborate braids.

“This isn’t the best time, officers,” he said apologetically.

With the door cracked, Hedgehopper and Bellwether could hear two female voices raised in anger.  It sounded like Bilba Baggins and Blackberry Brandywine, but it was hard to tell.

“We just need to do a head count,” Moro said. “For the alibis.”

The grey-haired dwarf looked off to the side, but nodded and stepped back.

Most of the dwarves they had seen were gathered in the entryway, holding mugs of ale as though they had been in mid-celebration.

“I DON’T FUCKING KNOW, ALL RIGHT?!  I NEVER GOT A CHILD WITH A HOBBIT HUSBAND AND I WAS TOLD I’D NEVER GET ONE WITH A DWARF HUSBAND!”

“GANDALF TOLD US HOBBTS AND DWARVES COULDN’T MAKE CHILDREN!”

“MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T TAKE HEALTH ADVICE FROM A FUCKING FIREWORKS VENDOR!”

“HE’S A WIZARD!”

The dwarves eyed each other awkwardly.  Erling started counting beards.

“Is no one going to tell them off for having such a fight?” Moro asked in a quiet voice.  

“Well, it’s dams, innit?” Said a red-haired dwarf with his hair in spikes.

“You don’t interfere with a dam fight,” The dwarf standing next to him added.

A young, scrawny dwarf with his sideburns just starting to fill in sighed and headed towards the sitting room the two hobbit women were screeching in.

“Brave lass, brave lass, good girl, Ori,” several dwarves said, patting (apparently her) shoulders.  

Moro had to take another look to realize that sideburns or no, the dwarf was wearing a skirt.

“Um . . . you two shouldn’t be fighting.” Ori said.

“THIS HOBBITCH ASKED WHO THE FATHER WAS IN FRONT OF MY FUCKING HUSBAND!!”

“It – it just slipped out,” Bilba admitted, much chagrinned.

“I – I don’t really understand this,” Ori admitted.  “Dwalin is Blackberry’s husband; of course it’s his baby.”

“Thank you!!”

“Blackberry is in the family way?” Moro asked, completely forgetting about counting beards.

The lawkeeper dug through his pockets for a moment before producing a small packet of pipeweed.  This he thrust into Dwalin’s free hand and shook it firmly.

Freolice bréost!

“ . . . thank you,” the big dwarf said.  “What does that mean?

“It’s an old Kuduk blessing,” Moro said.  “It means . . . well, it actually doesn’t translate to Westron very well.  I suppose you could say ‘a blessing on this new life’ but there’s also a bit of ‘may there be no complications’ and ‘I hope you have many more!’”

“So what if they used a surrogate?!  I know you and Thorin couldn’t because he’s royalty, but it’s very rude to mention it!” Ori chided, her voice rising.

“A surrogate?” Blackberry echoed.

“Dwalin has still claimed the child as his, so it’s his child!” the young dwarrowdam continued.

“I didn’t mean – you’re right, Ori, that was very rude of me,” Bilba admitted.

The male dwarrow started to relax.  It seemed the fight was past.  The door swung open again and three more dwarrow walked in.  They seemed surprised both by the presence of the Lawkeepers and the impromptu party.

“Oin!  Oin, you’re needed!” Dwalin declared, going to the grey haired healer.  “Blackberry’s with child.”

“’Ey?” Oin pulled out an ear trumpet.

“I said Blackberry’s with child! She needs to be examined!”

“Surrogate?”

“No, no surrogate.  She’s already been to see a hobbit midwife, she needs a dwarf healer now.”

“I did not sleep with anyone besides my husband!” Blackberry’s voice was starting to rise again.

Dwalin and Oin went into the living room and moments later hustled Blackberry back to one of the bedrooms.

“Is this everyone?” Erling asked.

The dwarf in the hat took a look around and started counting on his fingers.

“Thirteen dwarves,” Erling offered, ready to be on his way.  “There should be thirteen dwarves.  We aren’t counting the hobbitesses.”

“Bifur, Oin and Gloin just came back, Ori is in with Bilba and Dwalin is back – I already counted Oin.  Thirteen.  Yeah, that’s everyone.”

“Right; we’ll be on our way, then.  Freolice bréost!

“Free lice and breasts to you, too, mate,” Nori said as the Lawkeepers left.  “Is it safe?”

Bofur was peering around the corner into the living room.  Thorin had moved to stand before his wife as Dori and for some reason Fili had flown to Ori’s aide.  Bilba had her head bowed, hands over her face.

“It isn’t fair,” she finally choked.

Thorin heaved a deep sigh and reached out, gathering her to his chest.  Bilba choked out a few broken sobs.  

“No, it isn’t,” he agreed.

The King Under the Hill didn’t know what to say beyond that.  A dwarrowdam grew in the knowledge that she might never bear a child.  It was less of a shock when it didn’t happen.  Hobbits taught their daughters that children would come by the dozen if they wished.  Even two fine sons raised in Bag End didn’t lessen the sting of not bearing.  Thorin didn’t understand this.  A dwarrowdam would be over the moon if given two children when she had none.

“I was so cruel to Blackberry,” Bilba whimpered.  “Because of my own hurts.”

“Yes, you were,” Thorin stated.

The hobbitess in his arms groaned, but leaned into her husband’s embrace.  

“I’ll never be able to apologize enough, will I?”

“For Blackberry?  Likely not.” Thorin pressed a kiss to her forehead.  “I know you only said those things because you were hurting.”

Bilba tipped her head back to look up at her dwarf husband.

“So you love me still?”

“Until I’m returned to stone.”

“Don’t go heading back anytime soon.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


“I have not been unfaithful!” Blackberry insisted.

“I never doubted you for a second, luv, now dress off –“

“How dare she! She has two fine sons already!  She has no right to create!”

“None at all,” Dwalin agreed, unlacing her jumps.  “Now let’s let Oin take a look, ey?”

The healer took the jumps from Dwalin’s unresisting hand, studied them for a second, then shook them at the hobbitess.

“Wear these instead of those waist-cinchers while you’re with child!”

“They’re called corsets and I know!”

“Don’t fuss, pet, it’s not good for you to fuss now,” Dwalin said, pulling her dress over her head.  

Blackberry turned to tell her husband just what she thought of orders to calm down when he started unlacing her bloomers.  To his surprise, she gave Oin a nervous look.  By Mahal, Blackberry was so quick to strip down to her skin around him, it was a mild shock to see her shy in front of another male.  The shock changed to amusement when Dwalin tried to take her shift off only for his wee wife to yelp and clamp it against her body.

“You need me stark naked?!”

“I’m a healer, lass,” Oin stated flatly.  “I’ve seen many a dwarfling into this world.  Besides, your young man is right here.”

Dwalin did snort, then, mostly for being called a ‘young man’.  Blackberry flushed, but didn’t protest as she was stripped bare.  There was more poking and prodding.  

“Aye, I’d say the midwife was right; two months along.  Now if the babe is half-dwarf—“

“IT IS!”

“—we’ll have to keep an eye on things.”

“So no idea why Blackberry could get a child with a dwarf and Bilba can’t?” Dwalin asked.

Oin shrugged.

“Mahal carves all dams a little differently; maybe Blackberry’s a little closer to a dwarf than Bilba is.”

Blackberry opened her mouth to protest that Mahal hadn’t carved her, Yavanna had grown her, but the words died in her throat.  Perhaps . . . perhaps Mahal had carved her.  She had always been a most unhobbitish hobbit.  

“If bairn sickness hits you hard smoke more pipeweed.  And stick to wine and mead for now – sweet drinks give you a better chance at having a girl.  Many blessings, the both of you.”

Oin slipped out, giving Blackberry privacy to redress.  Dwalin helped her, beaming proudly.

“Do – do you think Mahal carved me?” Blackberry asked.  “Not Yavanna?”

“Oh, I know the Stone Father made you, luv.  Even a master craftsman’s chisel slips every now and then and he has to turn a cabochon into a rose.”

“You think I was meant to be a dwarf.”

“You are a dwarf, Berry.  On the inside.  This wee one is proof of that.”

One of my biggest pet-peeves in writing is medieval settings with modern knowledge. If it's a character that's traveled through time or whatever, okay, fine. That character can know about modern medicine. But it ticks me off when characters in medieval settings find out that they're pregnant and immediately swear off drinking and smoking. Or when they talk about having eggs. The human ovum wasn't discovered until 1928. Try again! Hell, they used to get women drunk during labor to help with the pain!

I've even seen a few where characters were actually singled out for carrying (or not carrying) a certain gene. How did they know that, huh? Did they pop down to Ye Olde Gene-Sequencing Laboratory and Barber Shoppe?

Anyhoo, I'm trusting you all to be smart enough to realize that drinking and smoking during pregnancy are actually not good ideas and eating sweets won't effect the sex of the baby.

And I think this is where I'm going to wrap this particular story up.  The next arc will be rather large, even though there's some loose ends that aren't wrapped up yet.  So stay tuned for Winter of Discontent!



:iconbookwormbeth:
bookwormbeth Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2018
Oh noes! I forgot to actually comment when I last came here! 
I really like the right between Bilba and Blackberry, they love each other and are now sisters, but occasionally their own hurts get in the way. 
I really love this series, it's just become really realistic as time goes on and problems are resolved. And I learned something! I didnt know that about the medival healthcare, that's really interesting!
YOU are the main reason I come back to the site, so that I can get more awesome stories. 
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
It's funny, I'm usually very cognizant of story arcs and acts and things like that, but in this one I just had a bunch of shit happening.  Since I wasn't getting any feedback on it, I just kept doing it for my own enjoyment and no one else's.  Now that it's picking up a little, people are praising the 'realism'.  I guess it's good to throw a monkey wrench into writing formulas every now and then.
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