West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive



Fire in the Dark
Bilbo/Dinodas. Bilbo finds that one of his cousins has a taste for adventure.
Author: Stranger
Rating: R


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Notes: Written for the Hobbit_Smut Livejournal Community "Birthday Candles are Hot" Challenge. This has been edited and expanded a bit since it appeared there.

Dinodas, in case you're all going "Huh what," is Bilbo's first cousin by his mother's sister (who married a Brandybuck). He's on the hobbit genealogy charts, and that's it, but here he is.

Many thanks to Elderberrywine and for beta-reading and useful comments.

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The night before Bilbo's Birthday Party (and Going-away Party, but most folk didn't know that and Bilbo was just as happy that they didn't), the doorbell rang while Bilbo was examining the Cake of Special Magnificence that would serve a dozen dozen guests at tomorrow's dinner.

"Uncle Dinodas," Frodo's voice carried from the entryway, "it's good to see you. Merry, I know you're hiding behind him like a rabbit. Did you think you were going to surprise me? Are Saradoc and Aunt Esme with you?"

The reply was muffled, but a moment later Frodo appeared in the pantry doorway. "Uncle! Merry and Dinodas Brandybuck have come early. They say the Master and everyone else will follow tomorrow."

"Dinodas? Oh, my, my, tell them to come in."

There was a confusion of greetings then, with the obligatory cries that Bilbo hadn't aged a hair since his last appearance in Buckland, and offers of late tea, and some very lascivious eyeing of the Cake in all its butter-creamed, leaf-fluted, edging-piped and sugar-flowered glory.

"Hands off, lads, that's for tomorrow," said Bilbo firmly.

"Your hands are sticky," said Frodo, with his usual irreverence. Merry said nothing but his eyes yearned toward the cake.

"That's as may be. I'll be too old to enjoy such things soon."

"You fraud," said Dinodas cheerfully. "You'll outlive us all, I shouldn't wonder. You're looking extremely well."

"Likewise," said Bilbo, smiling with real warmth at his cousin. "Oh, bother it all, come into the pantry and sample a bit with me. When could I ever resist a Brandybuck lad?"

"You've made a career of raising one," said Dinodas, as Frodo and Merry each tried to find a portion of cake-frosting that looked like it wouldn't be missed or minded. Frodo settled for a discreet swipe of two fingers that merely added another ridge to a much-ridged side surface. Merry dared to make off with a sugared violet and its nest of cream together. "He's a fine lively lad."

Bilbo nodded. "Who'd have thought it? That's enough, Frodo, Merry. You'll have every chance at it tomorrow. Go have some of the spiced-mutton stew I made this morning. There were a couple of late tomatoes, too, so you might as well have them, and cheese, and there's enough fresh bread in the first pantry for an army."

Frodo grinned. "Of trolls," he said, and laughed at Bilbo's frown. "Come on, Merry, he's right about the food." The two of them disappeared down the smial in a flow of excited chatter about who was giving whom what for his birthday.

Dinodas, still empty-handed, glanced toward the towering and not quite pristine cake, and mimed disappointment. "Never you mind that," said Bilbo in an undertone. "I've the sample cake that Mistress Twigroot made yesterday, half of it still, in my room. Come share it with me and tell me all the news."

"Let you tell me about old times, you mean," said Dinodas, following with all good will.

"Not really. I've had the old times, and they were good." Bilbo smiled, knowing it would seem mysterious, at Dinodas. "I'll tell you a thing I've told no one else, not even Frodo."

"It's hard to believe he's of age tomorrow."

"You should know as well as I do exactly how old he is."

Dinodas took a seat at the bedroom's window alcove and accepted the fork Bilbo handed him, and the piece of cream-frosted cake that went down all the better with a splash of sweet sherry in one of Bilbo's gilded tumblers. "So I do."

# # #

S.R. 1368

Bilbo sat at Brandybuck Hall's largest dining table, nearly full enough again after his two-days' walk from Hobbiton to Buckland. The lavish offerings of Rorimac's table could not be called disappointing, but he wondered where the company had got to.

He'd had a thought to come to Brandy Hall for his birthday, this mild Autumn when travelers from further east might be found in Buckland. Here he was, and here it was the very eve of that event, and where was everybody save two kitchen-lads and a few old uncles far too staid to want to know about anything beyond the Shire?

"Bilbo Baggins!" exclaimed someone behind him. "Welcome to Brandy Hall this year. I've been hoping to see you again!"

That was more like it. Bilbo turned, and saw one of his cousins, Dinodas the Unnecessary (as Aunt Donnamira unkindly put it), saunter across the dining room.

"What brings you here?" asked Dinodas, a tall hobbit with no more paunch than was strictly necessary under his moleskin trousers, and hair that grew thick on his toes, and curling and long on his head.

"I'd a whim to see my this-year's birthday at Brandy Hall, since the weather's so fine for walking."

"Just that?" asked Dinodas. "The womenfolk won't be about tonight; they're all with Prim and it's an occasion where we're not invited until it's over. As it happens, I'm delighted to have a chance to speak with you myself for a few hours, if you'll indulge me."

Bilbo tried to remember more about Dinodas than the memory of Rorimac's nearly-youngest brother. The lad had taken to staying in the library -- whether he's needed there or not, came the memory of Aunt Mirabella's voice, not unlike Belladonna's. Had his mother or Dinodas' said that, on some long-ago visit to Brandy Hall? Surely the lad hadn't been much above thirty at Drogo's wedding, ten years ago? Where was Cousin Drogo, tonight? Being unbearable to whoever would bide him, probably.

"I'm always ready for a willing audience," said Bilbo. "Am I remembering aright that you used to read the Dwarvish bills of lading for Rory?"

"I still do that, yes," said Dinodas. "Indeed, that's near to what I hoped you'd speak about, if you could bear to tell me of your travels with Dwarves."

Bilbo smiled. "Cousin Dinodas, you are a prince among hobbits and a jolly good fellow. Do you know if there's more of this cake and perhaps another bottle of wine? Let's take them to the library and I'll tell you anything you can ask."

Vanilla-nutmeg cake and a bottle of dawn-pink wine in hand, they made their way along a sloping passage up to a room where evening still showed pale in the skylight over Brandy Hall's books, shelved in seldom-dusted glory.

Half the cake and two glasses of wine later, Bilbo was more convinced than ever that his cousin Dinodas was the most charming hobbit who'd ever graced Brandy Hall. He read books, and poems. He read Dwarvish runes, at least enough to keep Master Rorimac from paying out more than necessary when he traded with the Dwarves. While the room darkened and the branch of candles lit the table, Dinodas let Bilbo tell parts of his famous Adventure that weren't the flashy and exciting tales of escaping from goblins and spiders, but the day-to-day ways of Dwarves, and how their halls under the mountain seemed overly angular to a hobbit, and how Men lived in their town on the Long Lake.

"Din," Bilbo said, knowing he was just slightly tipsy and not minding. "The Dwarves count everything twice when they're on business, but they're fair as fair if you've made a bargain."

"So I've read," said Dinodas. "May I ask if other tales of them are true?"

Bilbo rolled his eyes. "Not if you want to know how I know."

"A-hem. I had no intention of asking for your own particulars, Cousin Bilbo." Dinodas took another sip of wine and glanced at him under fine brown eyelashes. "That is, unless you'd want to tell me."

Bilbo's eyebrows ascended toward his own curls, which were still more pepper than salt even in sunlight, thank you very much. "So you'd want a special tale or two, lad?" he asked.

"Not so much of the lad, if you please. I'm fifty, you must know. I'm told it's a good age for adventuring."

"Oh, a very good age," said Bilbo, considering his bookish cousin in a new and not altogether unflattering light. "For quite a few things."

"For sealing wax and cabbages, and ships that sail, and kings?"

"Pardon?" said Bilbo to this turn in the conversation.

"It's a bit of nonsense I read on a scrap of paper I found in some book. It's around here somewhere." Dinodas waved a vague hand at the shelves that jostled and gaped in the gloom beyond the candle-lit table. "The rhythm of it caught my ear, but it doesn't mean anything, as far as I can tell."

"You'd like the songs I heard among the Elves, I'll wager," said Bilbo. "They have some marvelously silly things to sing, all in good rhyme. But you know, if you tell them a riddle they just look at you. They might be able to solve it like that" -- he snapped his fingers -- "but they don't understand why it matters."

"Hmm, Elves. No good at riddles," said Dinodas, as though he were taking notes.

"Oh, they can give you the answer," said Bilbo. "There's just no spirit in it for them."

"There's spirit in you," said Dinodas, softly.

Bilbo did not miss the admiring tone, but he said, "There has been. There might be again someday. I haven't done all the journeying I plan to do."

"Nor have I."

"Does that mean you'd go out adventuring, just to see the roads and lands?"

"I've thought of it," Dinodas admitted. "I've no good reason to want to go, it's true."

"Goodness, you shouldn't need a reason! Where do your feet want to walk?"

"Tonight, tell me if your feet want to follow mine."

Bilbo smiled. "On a little adventure of our own? Very privately?"

"Wherever you like. I've a big, soft bed, but perhaps you like the thought of adventuring in the library, or the lower gardens?"

Bilbo took in a shocked, delighted breath. "Din, I didn't know you had it in you!"

"Not yet," said Dinodas, "but one may hope." His eyelashes lowered demurely over the last sip of wine in his glass.

Bilbo gave an unrefined crack of laughter. "You'll be the death of me, you handsome rogue. You'd take me out into the mist and the dew if I asked for it, wouldn't you?"

"One adventures where one may," said Dinodas, "but I daresay the best adventures carry the promise of a warm dinner or breakfast afterward."

Bilbo pinched out two of the candles, handed the third to Dinodas and picked up the last one for himself. "So I've always said. You show more spirit than I'd ever dreamed."

Dinodas only chuckled. "Follow me."

The library tunnel continued upward to a snug, well-curtained bedroom that must be nearly above the hill. Bilbo had only a moment's glance around the room before his attention went to more important matters.

Dinodas let them into the room and turned -- and Bilbo handed him the candle and kissed him soundly. Dinodas, trapped by an upright flames in either hand, stayed quite still, but when Bilbo pressed close enough, there was a third point of warmth growing directly between them. Dinodas' mouth was warm and wine-scented, and it was the work of a moment to slide confining hands up his arms, up around his shoulders, up to his nape to hold his head still while Bilbo tasted him at length.

It couldn't last forever. They drew apart for breath, and Bilbo felt his cousin's arms start to close around him and then spring open. "Do that again and I'll let the candles go out," said Dinodas.

"Is that a promise or a dare?"

"As it happens, I like a bit of light for the business, but I'm not afraid of the dark, either." Dinodas freed himself for long enough to set one candle securely into a lamp and lay the other, dark and still hissing, beside it on the table. "Do you want to play with my mouth, or would you rather I played with yours?" he asked, and deliberately unbuttoned one button of his waistcoat.

Bilbo let his eyes take in as much of Dinodas as the candle and its shadows would allow, and did not omit to loosen two gold buttons on his own brocade garments. "Lad, lad, if everything was as simple as that, I'd have been an orc's dinner long since. It's not one or the other." He ran one finger up the line of Dinodas' buttons. "It's all in exploring the territory one finds." And he flicked open another button. "I might find... for one instance..." two more neat little bone buttons sprang undone, one at a time, "an unexpected beauty... in the library."

Dinodas' mouth curled smiling as his waistcoat parted completely and peeled open almost of itself. "You might." Deft fingers touched Bilbo through brocade and linen, releasing gold from thread and cloth. "I might quest through a familiar smial... and find a dragon's treasure... in the dining hall." Bilbo's waistcoat opened as well, the silk whisking over his shirt as it fell. The space between them closed again to so small a span that rising dragon-heat was evident on two fronts, and all of Bilbo's senses prickled with eagerness.

Dinodas was solid hobbit beneath the smooth cloth of his shirt, and more interesting solidity was betrayed by the close fit of his moleskins. Bilbo discovered a fascination with the soft material as it swelled under his exploring fingers, but it took only a few moments of such play before Dinodas rallied, slipping both hands around to squeeze a double handful of rounded, sinewy flesh, pulling them closer together. Dragon-heat met dragon-heat while their mouths mated again, open and wet and hot as silken steam.

Bilbo realized that he was being edged backward. "Here, now, none of that. D'you want me to burgle you properly or not?"

"How properly?" Dinodas' eyes laughed at him from an inch or two above his own.

"Unless you've a fancy for that chair" -- an upholstered thing that actually looked quite comfortable, in Bilbo's estimation, whether one might find oneself in it or bent over it -- "I'd look in your bed. For treasure." He spared a hand to slip into Dinodas' now-open trouser front and found something worth treasuring indeed, something to fondle with covetous glee worthy of Smaug with his gold.

"Come and find me, then," whispered Dinodas, melting backward into warm shadows and an enticing rustle of cloth sliding free of flesh, and sigh of pillows as they parted from smooth sheeting.

Only a moment, and one undignified collision with a dressing table later, Bilbo joined him on the bedstead, skin to naked skin. His foot-hair prickled on the sheets and over Dinodas' lean legs as Bilbo explored his bedmate with fingers and nose and breath. In return Dinodas liked to squeeze him in handfuls and presently found a handful that made Bilbo stand up on his knees and gasp. The warm, solid hand followed him up. "Here's a precious jewel or two," Dinodas said, and ran one hard-edged thumb -- it must be his writing hand, Bilbo thought amid a daze of springing lust -- a slow length upward. "Guarded by a fiery dragon." That hard thumb nestled at the dragon's neck, making it strain upward.

"Best beware... ahh... that dragon you hold," Bilbo held himself still under the moving hand with an effort. "You're making it hotter. I... ah... it might choose to breathe fire back at you."

Dinodas chuckled and nibbled sharp little bites down Bilbo's near arm. "I think a good thief could find a place for his dragon to nest." Dinodas' body rippled under Bilbo, displaying spare curves and hollows in the low light.

Bilbo, his upright dragon deliciously trapped, could still seek for treasure or nesting spaces with his free hand. He let it quest around Dinodas' person in a slow, meandering pathway. "A treasure hunt?" suggested Bilbo, dipping and squeezing gently at the tender horde he found.

Dinodas' legs squirmed closed, then opened in invitation. "Who knows what you'd find if..." He broke off as Bilbo stroked, very deliberately, over a closed entrance. "... you... unlock..." he shuddered and reached for Bilbo, one hand tangling in his hair, one pulling him closer. He took a deep breath. "Please."

Bilbo tucked a fingertip where it would do the most good, barely moving, and curled himself over Dinodas: belly to belly and face to barely-seen face in the dim light. "Dragonfire and teeth, do you want it so much?"

"I've a fondness for treasure-hunts. You..." his hands fluttered and then closed to hold Bilbo tightly, "You're finding the doors I want you to open." He shuddered again, his body tight under Bilbo, clenching harshly. "Please."

"Do you doubt I can fit the key to the lock?" Bilbo whispered back.

A gasp and a breathy chuckle. "I've no doubts. Go on, find your way."

Bilbo explored the territories and passages, not neglecting the treasures to be found along the way that called up shivers and needed kisses to soothe them. "I found a useful bit of treasure on the way here," he said presently, letting his feet brush over bare skin where Dinodas seemed to appreciate it. He found and uncorked the small bottle that had all but fallen, like a gift, into his hand when he'd bumped along the dressing-table earlier.

The sharp herbal scent wafted out like an invisible presence and Dinodas breathed, "Yes." Bilbo smiled at his bedmate's red-lit sprawl of limbs and settled himself over and around, hands and mouth both busy making warm skin warmer and soft murmurs less restrained. "Yes, there... oh, more..." Rough-soled feet held him steady and warm fingers pinched him, a quick bite of feeling Bilbo appreciated in its way -- and Dinodas gave a stronger, "Ahhh, yes!" when he returned the gesture.

In the byways of making his bedmate gasp with inner heat, Bilbo was reminded of his Adventure again, and was only fired higher by the thought that Dinodas, under him, could and would spring closed around him the moment he unlocked that particular door. Daring all, he played in the doorway, spreading the oil where it would be needed. Dinodas gave a long sigh and his legs relaxed from around Bilbo's, knees falling aside. "That's good. They say a careful thief finds the best reward."

Bilbo whispered, "I was frightened a good many times, in that great mountain. A dragon is no lightsome thing."

"I shouldn't think so." Dinodas drew in a sharp breath. "Yes, go on."

Bilbo took the invitation as it was intended, slipping an oiled finger deeper into the tight crevasse that quivered around it, eager but by no means easy as yet. "I nearly turned back once."

"Don't, oh no, go on!"

"You're right," he said meditatively, gentling the quiver with slow strokes. "I didn't turn back. And that was before I'd seen the dragon." He found that his mouth was brushing a nipple, and he licked it, then bit it, quick and sharp.

"Ah! I, ah... see what... you mean."

The candle guttered low and with a flickering last gout of red fire, finally went dark.

"You may, at that." He teased in and out with one hand, up and around hard warmth with the other, smoothing both of them with oil to keep the progress slow. There was an art in distracting his quarry with words between surprises. "It was never as easy as it sounds in the telling afterward." His fingertip withdrew and circled in a question.

"Show me a dragon," whispered Dinodas, his breath harsh with need and hunger. His hands found Bilbo and pulled him forward to the brink of entering.

"That I will, but slowly." Dinodas' body was hot as dragon-breath and much more welcoming. "Slow to start and..."

He went in slow and hard, painfully slow in the tightness. Bilbo knew he was trembling as much as Dinodas, held up by the other hobbit's strength as much as his own. He delved slow and careful and deeper and Dinodas moaned wordlessly and then moaned, "Yes."

Deeper, and again, and then Bilbo gasped, "... bold when it's... time to... move!" And they moved together, groaning with the fire that took them both.

Afterward, Bilbo said, "It's always new, and never as easy as I remember. It's always an adventure."

Dinodas sighed under him, around him. "You're a bad influence. I might want more adventures."

Bilbo yawned. "You haven't heard nearly all my stories, I promise you." He managed to slide off Dinodas without doing either of them an injury and buried his face in a shoulder, feeling his bedmate's long arm curve around his back.

Dinodas snickered. "I'll look forward to that, but I do think that perhaps later I'll go walking East, as you did. Perhaps I'll meet some Dwarves."

"More likely Men, on that road," said Bilbo.

"Those, also. Are they very strange?"

"They're tall as Elves and have hair on their chins instead of their feet, but they're rather like hobbits. Unless they're like bears."


"Some are..." said Bilbo, and felt the heaviness of advancing sleep. It closed like a dark sack around him.

# # #

He woke to a warm and sticky bed, to dawn at the curtain-edges, and to a knock on the door. "Master Dinodas! There's news!"

"That will be about Prim." Dinodas was out of bed as he spoke, using a cloth wetted at his wash-basin and pulling on a pristine night-shirt before he opened the door. Bilbo prudently buried himself in the bedclothes as Dinodas carried on a low-voiced conference with the hurried visitor.

"It's good news, I'm glad to say." Dinodas was back, sitting on the edge of the bed, evidently not ready to fall back into the feather mattress and Bilbo's arms. Well, a warm breakfast and a new baby were two good reasons to get up in the morning.

"We'll be able to pay our respects to Primula and the new lad later today." His smile showed relief. "I've always been fond of my little sister. I don't know why, when the Brandybucks taken together drive me mad and may yet drive me out of the Hall."

"But not forever," suggested Bilbo.

"Not forever."

# # #

"I've seen your trolls," said Dinodas, on the night before Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday. "The stones ones in the dell past Bree, that is." He made one ear-tip wiggle suggestively. "But I never saw a dragon to equal yours."

"None of your sauce, lad," said Bilbo, not as sharply as he could have.

"You say you're going back that way, soon. I'd almost ask to keep you company that far."

"Almost?" asked Bilbo, touched despite knowing it was more gesture than real offer.

"I'm for the Shire, these days, but you were my hero when I first heard of you, before we met. You were... mmm, more than a hero to me, I promise you, when we did meet."

"Am I still?" suggested Bilbo, eyes half-closed with amusement.

"Well, now. Do you think you've time for a bit of adventure tonight?"

"A bit. Perhaps more." Bilbo gave a sharp chuckle. "Tonight or tomorrow, I might still surprise you."

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