An Entity Apart - part 2 (2/3) - fanfiction
After his last spanking Bilbo told Thorin, "There won't be a next time." Well . . .
part one is here.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters. I just like to play with them.
An Entity Apart - part 2 (2/3)
"Perhaps I am not making myself clear," I said. Tipping up my knee, and lifting his bottom, I spanked the curve beneath his rounded backside, a swat for each word. "You. Shall. Not. Say. That. Word. Again. Understood?"
"AHHHHHH! Yes!Yes!Yes! Unnnerstood! Never! Never,ever,ever!"
"Thank you." I lowered my leg and went back to spanking his bottom, mindful of its rosy hue and careful of my pacing. We had some distance yet to go.
"Sorry! I'm s-sorry, Thorin."
"Thank you. What I taught you during your first spanking stands, though," I said. "Hold your sorries until we are finished, else we shall become drenched in them."
"B-But, I am sor--"
"Shh, little one. I know. No more fussing. We shall take care of it. After we finish here."
"Take care of - I still don't--"
He sounded close to tears now. Amazing he had held them off for this long. My stubborn wee grocer. What I had to tell him next would doubtless set him off again.
"Perhaps in the Shire you tolerate little ones using foul language, but dwarves discourage it in our beardlings. We find that a good soapy mouth washing serves as an effective deterrent."
His spine went rigid, then: "NOOO! No!No!No!"
"I should have washed your mouth out after I spanked you the first time, for lying," I said. "I gave you a reprieve, as you were already dealing with so much. But, be forewarned, little grocer, lying will also earn you a soaped mouth."
"No! You-You can't -- I won't let you wash my mouth out with soap!"
"Let?" I scoffed lightly.
"I suspect you have rarely, if ever, experienced this?"
"AHHH!" He pounded the crate with a violence that left me concerned for his small fists. "You-You cannot do that to me!" he bellowed. "I'm not a fauntling! I'm an adult hobbit and I can say whatever I--"
"Fauntling?" I interrupted, lifting a brow. Given the context in which my burglar had used it I suspected its meaning, but hoping to distract him from his tantrum, I asked, "What's a fauntling?"
He paused, made a few sounds of frustration in his throat, then sputtered and said, "Wh--What? What? You - You threaten to wash my mouth out with soap then ask, 'what's a fauntling?'"
"'Tis no threat, little one," I replied. "I shall indeed do it. Now, answer my question."
"NOOOOO!" he wailed, back to pounding. "No soap! No, no, nooo!"
I gave him a few stronger spanks and said, "Settle down. Stop that hammering. There shall be no hurting yourself, sir. And I'd best not see you biting that lip." Master Baggins went still, gasping and releasing a few pitiful whimpers that tugged at my heart. I murmured, "Now, a fauntling is--?"
"Like . . . like a child," he said in a small voice quavering with upcoming tears. "A very little, very y-young child. A bairn. S-Some in the Shire call a fauntling a 'nipper.' And I'm not either one."
I grinned, enchanted. Fauntling and 'nipper.' Perfect.
"Please don't wash my mouth out with soap, Thorin. I-I won't say that bad word again. I p-promise I won't. I really, really won't."
Bracing myself against that pleading tone, I said, "I'm glad to hear it. However we must take care of what you already said so many times. I cannot leave such a foul stain in my little fauntling's mouth."
Master Baggins tensed all over, trembled, then burst into loud tears. It is an affecting thing, hearing whomever is over my knee yield and begin to cry. It wrenches them so, the surrender. Even after disciplining my nephews for so many years their first wails never fail to have a strong impact on me. But listening to my burglar let go was somehow worse. I stopped spanking him, feeling a strong urge to pick him up and soothe him. I resisted the temptation. We had the entire meadow incident to deal with and I couldn't stop to comfort him every time his crying moved me. That wasn't what I did with my nephews.
But, watching him bury his face in his palms to weep, I suddenly could think of no reason why I should treat my burglar as I treated my nephews. He was no dwarf. He was no relation of mine. From the first time I turned him over my knee Master Baggins had been an entity apart, and by the time I had finished spanking him we were both, as a pair, something new altogether. Neither of us came out of that spanking feeling the same way towards each other as we had ere I had taken down his britches, warmed his bare backside, sat him on my lap and comforted him in my arms. I now accepted my need to watch over him rather than trying to deny it and subdue it. I allowed myself to recognize that I cared about his well-being. On occasion, rather than taking myself off alone and glancing at him from afar, I sat at the fire and welcomed him sitting next to me. I talked quietly with him during the evening when he seemed unsettled and restless. I listened to him.
"Am I being bothersome?" he had once asked me when he had been comforting himself by talking at length about life in his beloved Shire.
"Not at all, Master Baggins," I said, relighting my pipe and his. "Go on. You were telling me about the Tooks."
I enjoyed these changing times with him, and he clearly enjoyed them as well. In many ways I felt I was at my best when I was with Master Baggins. But there were also times when I felt uncomfortable and withdrew from him again, deliberately putting distance between us. I would absent myself or become busy with something, anything, in order to avoid spending time with my hobbit. It felt both entirely right and entirely wrong. I was unable to fathom my shifting behavior towards him, and when I did try to reason the matter out one possible cause behind my actions made my blood run cold: I chose to keep him at a distance because I feared he would not survive.
No. I refused to consider that notion and stopped seeking an answer to the meaning behind what I did. There were simply times when I chose to enjoy a more relaxed closeness with my hobbit and times when I did not.
I knew he struggled with it. He would say nothing, but I sensed his confusion and his sadness and I'd sink deeper into dissatisfaction, burdened by guilt. Sometimes it built within me until I became short-tempered with him again as I had been in the beginning. It was, all of it, unfair to him. When I near lost him over the side of the mountain I went wild with fear and shouted something so cruel and hurtful that it stunned my dwarves to silence. I meant not one word of it, and later, lying in that cave, unable to sleep, I wondered if I said such things to him in an attempt to drive my halfling away from us and back to a place of safety. If he left us and returned to Rivendell he would survive. Oh, Master Baggins was clever enough to make it back in one piece. Evil was pursuing me, not him, and he had learned how to survive in the wild.
So when I saw my burglar stealthily preparing to leave I forced myself to lie still, longing in part to jump up and grab him and hold him safe against me as we slept. Watching him assemble his few belongings, then listening to the bitter hurt pouring out of him when Bofur tried to stop his escape were some of the worst moments I had gone through since my burglar joined our Quest. Afterward, when we emerged from the mountain and found him gone, my insides wrenched. We knew nothing about what had happened to him, but thoughts of my halfling lying injured or dead somewhere within those caves flashed through my brain and drove me mad. No. I chose instead the comforting thought that he had escaped. Still, I raged with grief and fury, again saying unjust things of him. I wasn't angry with Master Baggins because he'd been wise enough to leave me; I was angry because he was gone. Moments later all that was replaced with joy and shame when he reappeared, speaking so nobly about commitment and loyalty despite how I had wronged him yet again.
It was outlandish that after all my unfairness to him my gentle wee hobbit stood before a ferocious enemy three times his size and fought for my life. I never thought to survive Azog, and when I awoke to find Gandalf kneeling over me my first and only thought was for my halfling. Stunned by the wizard's words of assurance, I rose, pain lancing through me, and there he stood, my unlikely little hero, whole and real, sighing with relief and flashing his sweet, shy smile. That he should smile so after the risk he had taken! Had I been at full strength I vow I would have spanked Master Baggins right there atop that eagles' perch, right there in front of the Company and the wizard and the great circling birds. For a moment all I could do was bellow. But then I saw my halfling. I saw him looking heartbroken and small and miserable, sinking inward on himself, and I crossed to him and had him in my arms ere I had finished gushing out my apology, hugging him so tightly I near heard his ribs crack.
When we finally stopped that evening I sought my burglar out and sat with him again, talking quietly, apologizing once more for my injustices against him. He listened and gave me his typical smile and shrug, but I sensed in him a reluctance to truly take in my words.
He managed a few bashful expressions of acceptance, then he grew quiet, cleared his throat, cast me a tentative glance and said, "I - I should tell you that I--" He dropped his gaze. "Thorin, I . . . I . . .."
Suddenly I understood. He was trying to find a way to confess that he had nearly stolen away from us in the night. "No," I interrupted. "Shh. No need to say anything more. Whatever you thought to do you were driven to do. There is no need to speak of it." Frowning to himself, his cheeks red, he kept his gaze lowered and cast me a few quick sideways glances. So I leaned close to him and said, "Fair enough, Master Baggins?"
He sniffed a soft giggle, then chuckled, then looked up at me with that irresistible grin. "Fair enough, Thorin Oakenshield."
I knew my halfling had shifted much within me, just as I felt I had shifted much within my halfling. I tried harder to keep from brushing him aside, although I still felt uncomfortable at times. But I continued to watch out for him, even though Master Baggins had proven himself to be a brave and worthy fighter. That was an asset to us and to himself, but it was also, I started to notice, a liability. He began, at times, to act with much haste and little caution, as a youth tests his boundaries, and I started wondering if, like Kili, my burglar was craving my attention. I became even more watchful of him, waiting . . . .
So now, the ponies. Now he lay across my lap, crying into his palms, that plaintive sound going right through me, and regardless of what routine I used with my nephews I saw no reason to deny my halfling and I what we both needed. So I reached down and picked him up, gathering his small body close to mine.
"There now, shhh," I murmured as he shuddered and wept. "Aye, having your mouth washed out will be unpleasant. But 'twill be over with quickly. And the taste of soap will be far less nasty than the taste of that naughty word in your mouth, my little burglar."
I seriously doubted that. But, although I dreaded a mouth soaping I was distracted from the thought by the feel of Thorin cuddling me. He actually was cuddling me, holding me against that solid body, his big arms surrounding me, his curtain of dark hair tickling my cheeks. And even though I'd just started crying, I paused to better take in where I was and how good it felt.
My backside wouldn't be ignored. It burned in that familiar way I'd hoped never to feel again. And Thorin wasn't done with me yet. We hadn't even started to discuss the meadow and the high offense that landed me in this situation. All too soon I'd be back over his knee, that big hand spanking down on my already stinging bottom. And there was no telling how long that might go on.
Part of the awfulness of a spanking was the helplessness. Thorin decided how long he would spank me and no amount of yelling, crying, kicking or wriggling made any difference. Nor did attempts to either reason with him or appeal to his sense of fairness. He evidently had none when a wayward hobbit lay draped over his knee. Dreadful, that helplessness.
Of course, I had to be fair and admit that I was to blame. After all, it was just one Khuzdûl word, one stupid, stupid word. I didn't even know what it meant. I was beginning to wonder if I wanted to know. Thing is, I'd overheard that word muttered by more than one of the Company, although it was clear they hadn't known I was nearby at the time. Dwalin seemed to favor it. Kili did, too. He'd been grumbling it once when I was coming up behind him.
"Kili!" Fili had muttered under his breath, nodding at me.
Kili had spun around, surprised, then said with a teasing grin, "I'm going to braid one of your curly locks and tie a bell on the end of it."
"I like the idea, little brother," Fili said, studying me and smiling, "but it might make it more difficult for our burglar to do his job."
"Don't care," Kili said. "At least we'd hear him coming. And he would look cute."
"He's already cute," Fili said, sharing a playful glance with his brother.
"Cute indeed!" I'd muttered, giving them filthy looks as they burst out laughing.
Thorin didn't yell or raise his voice at me for using that word, but the way he softly scolded made it clear that he was not keen on nasty exclamations. At least he wasn't keen on me saying them. I wasn't one to use such expressions much myself. Hobbits were, of a nature, mildly spoken and indifferent to colorful language. But Thorin had been spanking and spanking me and I'd been yelling and raising my objections and Thorin wasn't listening and he kept spanking and spanking and I became more and more frustrated and then, well, that word popped into my head and I thought I'd see what happened if I spat it out. It had just sounded good, and it felt good to say, kind of growly and dark - it seemed like something he might pay attention to if I said it, even though I wasn't sure I'd said it correctly. I hadn't practiced it beforehand.
Thorin certainly recognized it, though, and I quickly realized that there are some kinds of attention I don't want. If I'd known that one measly little word would set him off I'd have reconsidered my strategy. But when one is being held down and spanked and one's backside is smarting, one's ability to make good decisions suffers. And then he was asking questions about it and lecturing about using it and I lost my temper and, well, saying it three times sealed my fate. A soaping. And Thorin never did tell me that word's meaning. No matter. I hated that one measly little word, whatever it meant. It had earned me a soaped mouth, something I'd had done to me only once when I was a very young fauntling.
Fauntling. Clearly that name was here to stay. I suppose there were worse things Thorin could call me. 'Little gutter-mouth' wasn't amongst my favorites. But it was the way Thorin sounded when he called me these 'little' names - little burglar, little grocer, little one - he liked using them, and he said them with a tone of . . . fondness. He even said 'Master Baggins' with an undertone of fondness. And, strangely, it wasn't his scolding or his continuous spanking that had ended up shattering me. What undid me was his softly spoken, "I cannot leave such a foul stain in my little fauntling's mouth." My throat clenched and something warm burst within me and out rushed a few choked sobs and a flood of tears. And I really let go. I lay there, crying and crying, Thorin's purred 'little fauntling' echoing through my mind. He'd said those words with such quiet tenderness. I knew that side of Thorin now. He could still growl at me at times and say hurtful things. But I had a temper, too, and I understood that when he swatted me with his words it was Thorin's anger talking, or Thorin's fear, not Thorin's heart.
So, even though he was scolding me his voice was deep and warm and kind. Yes, he was handling me as though I truly was a five year-old fauntling, and while I prickled at it, another part of me felt comforted by it. Any hobbit with a shred of dignity would be outraged by such treatment, so how could I be feeling this way? I must be losing my mind. Who allowed himself to yearn for the kind of actual be-'littling' at which Thorin Oakenshield excelled? Why wasn't I appalled by it?
I had no answers for that. I only knew that I was feeling all over again what I'd felt during my first spanking, a deep, deep hunger for whatever magic Thorin was weaving. I wasn't wild about the spanking part. It hurt. I loathed the spanking part. But I craved the affection. The notice. The care. The special names that were mine alone. I longed for more, more, more of that special mine-alone attention. It made me cringe, but I couldn't stop hungering.
After Rivendell things had changed between us for awhile. Thorin seemed to accept me and notice me more. He seemed to know what I was feeling. Sometimes when my mind wouldn't rest and my fears wouldn't calm he would come sit with me, puffing his pipe and listening to me babble late into the night until suddenly I felt settled and all that remained was a cozy weariness.
"Sleep now, my burglar," he would murmur, easing me down and covering me with my blanket. And I'd close my eyes, feeling him still there beside me, smelling his pipe and hearing the soft popping puffs of his mouth on the stem until I dropped off.
Shocking, the powerful effect his notice had on me. I felt nourished by it. I relished it. So when he, for some mysterious reason, shifted back to his former self, treating me as he had in the beginning, I felt utter bewilderment. I didn't know what I'd done to cause the sudden change, and when I could see no reason for it I told myself that, well . . . well, it didn't matter. It didn't matter. Truly, how ridiculous had I become to care so much about his regard? I didn't need it. What he'd done - turning back into distant Thorin - well, it just didn't matter.
But then a deep, thundering hurt came, mixed with despair and followed by anger, piercing and cold. I went quiet inside, shuddering to admit even in my own private heart how wounded I felt. To have a thing you had so longed for suddenly withheld and for no apparent reason . . . I felt stricken. And I struggled to hide my upset from the others, sometimes without much success.
"What's wrong, laddie?" Balin had asked the first time Thorin pulled away from me. "You've not been yourself these past days."
I'd grinned and shrugged and pretended a calmness I didn't feel. "Just a bit weary. Not sleeping all that well. It'll pass. But thanks for asking."
I knew the clever dwarf hadn't been fooled for a moment, but he'd given me his squinty-eyed grin and ambled off, saying, "As you wish. But come talk to me if you like. There's others care about you, Bilbo. Don't forget that."
I appreciated Balin's gesture. And I felt a bit embarrassed to think that my misery showed. So I began to work harder at covering up my feelings and I tried to stop caring so much. Thorin didn't owe me anything just because I'd enjoyed a closer connection with him for a time. So . . . so be it. I was fine before he'd spanked me and started to care about me and I'd be fine again without that special attention of his. Fine. I was perfectly fine.
And then he'd swung back the other way, like a latch-less gate, and once again he became the thoughtful Thorin I'd so craved. I felt thunderstruck. He was back. Caring Thorin was back. Distant Thorin was gone. I hardly knew how to react. In part I wanted to shrug off his offered attention, hurt him the way he'd hurt me. That lasted about a minute, if that long. I didn't care about vengeance. I still craved his care too much for that. Thorin Oakenshield was paying attention to me again. I had no room in my heart for vengeance.
And that was how our journey had been going - back and forth, back and forth - caring Thorin, then distant Thorin, with no rhyme nor reason to any of it. At times he seemed to wrap himself in a cloak of dark despair and would frown at me in a 'keep away' manner I knew all too well. Then it would blow over, kindly Thorin returning. So, I'd learned to accept what was. There was nothing else I could do. I didn't like it, but I learned to enjoy the good times and wait out the not so good ones.
Thorin had been holding me now for just a short time, but the tightness in my stomach had already eased and my shaking all but ended. He hadn't held me like this the first time I was over his knee. He stopped several times to rub my back or to sit me on his lap for a short talk, but he hadn't held me snug against him, up in his arms, my bottom suspended above his lap. And oh, how I'd craved it! Thorin felt big and warm and safe, which made no sense whatsoever considering what he was still planning to do to me. I should've been, at the very least, anxious. He was going to keep spanking me then put soap in my mouth. Ridiculous to feel so content.
"Mmm," Thorin murmured, a deep rumbly sound in his chest vibrating into me. He gave me a gentle squeeze. "That's better."
I blinked lazily and said, "Thorin?"
"Can't we just call it a day? You know, just talk without any more spanking?"
I don't know what possessed me. I hadn't thought about saying that. I'd just opened my mouth and heard it spill out. Doomed. I was most certainly doomed. Thorin went silent for several years, then he clasped my arms and drew me back to face him.
"Pardon?" he said, gazing at me with quietly amused astonishment.
I bit my bottom lip, watched his eyebrow shoot up, spat out my lip and said, "Uhh, nothing. Nothing. Never mind." Good job, Bilbo. Back up. Fix it. Very good. But then: "I-I just thought . . . ."
He stared directly back at me. "You thought . . . ."
I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn't seem to shut up. "I thought, well, the thing is, Thorin, you've already spanked me quite a lot."
He gave a chuckly snort, still staring.
"So I just thought we could, well, you know, sort of talk things over. Just talk. I-I mean we could talk about what seems to be troubling you."
I froze. I couldn't believe I'd said that. Clearly neither could Thorin, for now both brows shot up. He studied me, then he gave a determined nod and flipped me back over his knee. I was bottom up, facing my pillowed britches before I could draw breath enough to cry out, 'I'm sorry, Thorin! I've gone daft!'
"By all means, little bratling," he said, disturbingly calm. "Now that we have dealt with your foul language we shall move on to our discussion about what is troubling me."
Nothing quite compares to the feel of a warrior's big hand spanking an already spanked bottom. I had but one response:
"I thought we were going to talk about what is troubling me," Thorin said. "Is that all you have to say, sir?"
Thorin addressing me as 'sir' at a time like this was never a good thing.
"I'm sorry!" I blurted out, clenching fistfuls of britches. "I-I dunno why I said that. It was a s-stupid, stupid thing to s-saayyyyyyy OWW!"
"No, No. None of that now. My burglar is very clever. There is nothing stupid about him and he doesn't say stupid things. He says unsuitable things, and naughty things, and impertinent, disrespectful things, but never stupid things. Understand, little one?"
And that's exactly how he was treating me again with his 'little one' tone - like a ruddy fauntling. We were back to this. No matter. I couldn't do anything about it. And he might be treating me like a fauntling but he spanked me like I was an adult. I'd forgotten just how hard Thorin spanked. I burst into tears again, couldn't help it. The first time he'd spanked me I'd fought my tears, refusing to give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Utter nonsense, that. Thorin wasn't spanking me just to see me cry. But tell that to a hobbit driven to chaotic thinking by a determined dwarf and a stinging bottom.
"Yes!" I cried out. "Yesyesyes! Unners-stand! Never s-stupid."
Right then. Thorin didn't like the word 'stupid.' But, wait . . . didn't I already know that? How did I know . . .? Ohhhh, yes.
Fili and Kili were teaching me swordsmanship and I'd lost my grip on my sword, flinging it over my shoulder a good distance. I'd 'tsked' and muttered, "That was stupid of me."
"Don't let Thorin hear you say that," Fili said.
"He hates the word, 'stupid,'" Kili added.
"Really?" I said, studying them with wary suspicion. "Why in the world would he--"
Kili shrugged. "Dunno. But we learned a long time ago never to say that word."
"If you don't believe us," Fili said with his easy grin. "Try it some time."
"Pass," I'd said.
Now why hadn't I recalled that pertinent little piece of information before blurting out a word Thorin hated? Slit my own throat a bit there. Thorin didn't need anything more to inspire his efforts. His swats were just as hot and on target as they'd been the first time he'd spanked me. I sobbed into my britches and writhed and--wait. I went still. Thorin had stretched me out flat over his lap. My legs were free! I could kick!
"I shall allow a certain amount of that," Thorin said before I even started, "but if you abuse the privilege and kick too much I shall close your legs between mine and restrain you again."
I wriggled at the scandalous injustice of that. "H-How will I know when it's too much?"
"I will warn you first," he said. "I know it is tempting to kick those little legs, but you shall needs practice a bit of willpower."
Willpower. When he was spanking me? Now I'd heard everything. "Yessir," I sputtered, getting in a few solid kicks with my 'little' legs. Honestly.
"Now that we understand each other, I shall tell you what is troubling me, as you have been so good as to offer me that opportunity."
He slowed a bit, the better to secure my attention, I suppose. I was grateful for the gesture, but his big palm was still smacking down all over my backside and every smack burned, and if he thought that slowing his pace was going to help me pay attention, well, clearly it had been a very long time indeed since Thorin Oakenshield was spanked and he no longer had a smidgen of memory as to what it felt like and how difficult it was to pay attention to anything other than squirming and yelling. I responded in my favorite manner when in this position: "AHHHHHH!"
"Better yet, my clever burglar," he said, "you tell me why I am troubled."
Me tell him. I sensed a trap, some "tangle the burglar up in his own words" kind of thing. I wasn't in the best condition to play such a game with Thorin Oakenshield. I felt besieged, my bottom blazing and my mind growing fuzzy the way it had before, as though my speech was about to seriously suffer, and yet he was still talking in that steady, reasonable, insufferably indulgent voice. He'd already won whatever game he thought to play with me, and, galling as all this felt, there was nothing for it: "Y-You're troubled because I went out to s-see the ponies."
"Very good. And why does that trouble me?"
I kicked out, fed up with this loathsome toying. "Because--Because you're a-a --"
"Careful." Thorin gave me a stronger whack.
"Careful now, little gutter-mouth. You have already earned one soaping. I doubt you would like another, now, would you?"
Another? No, confound it! I didn't want another soaping! Of all the--! I swallowed hard and kicked some more and growled into my britches. 'Little gutter-mouth.' I detested that name, no matter how fondly Thorin said it.
"And no biting. Any blood on that bottom lip and I shall become quite sorely displeased."
Ahhh, now those were words I remembered, and "quite sorely displeased" sounded just as chilling now as it had then. A hint of promised disaster. I'd be hard pressed to think of what could be worse than what had happened already, but Thorin never failed to surprise me. Who knew what he might spring on me next? I'd never seen a soaping coming and now--! No. I wasn't interested in sorely displeasing Thorin Oakenshield. Ever. So I couldn't bite my lip and I couldn't kick too much - according to whatever measure he considered 'too much' - and I couldn't mutter the occasional foul word, something I wouldn't have chosen to do anyway, but still didn't like being denied the right to do. Bilbo Baggins, besieged.
"Come now," he said, giving my back a few pats of encouragement. "You went to see the ponies. Why did that trouble me?"
I was starting to drift into thinking only of my sore bottom. Ow!Ow!Ow! was all I heard rattling through my mind. I rubbed my teary cheeks on my britches - they were going to be wet again, like they were after my first spanking.
"My britches are wet," I'd said.
"Aye. So I see. 'Tis plain where your face was buried."
"AAHHHHHHH!" I lifted my head to yell. That had been a powerful whack! "OW! OW! OWWW!"
"Am I boring you?"
"N-No, sir!" I cried. "You-You were troubled 'cause you were w-worried 'bout me bein' safe."
"Because it isn't s-safe outside the g-garden?"
"Is that a question or an answer?"
"I-I . . . I don't knowww!" Well, I didn't. And it seemed wiser to be honest about that. I knew what he wanted me to say. But the meadow had been quiet and peaceful and I still wondered if he was overreacting. It would've been smarter to just agree with him that it hadn't been safe. It shouldn't have mattered, considering where I was and what he was doing to me, but I wasn't sure and I'd just spat out the truth.
"Ah," he said. "Then let's clear that up. I showed you how far you had wandered from the enclosure and how close you were to the forest, remember?"
"Uh huh, but before you showed me that, I-I didn't realize--"
"Aye, and that troubles me as much as what you did," he said, spanking with a bit more vigor. "You were unaware of where you were and what you were doing. You were well within range of an arrow shot from those woods. You were close enough for a party of orcs to capture you. No matter how fast you ran, little one, they would have cast a net over you and my burglar would have been - my burglar would have --"
Thorin's voice wavered. He sounded . . . overcome. He'd gone quiet in the middle of his thought, and now he stopped spanking me and rested his hand on my bottom. Something profound had happened to him. I stopped crying, rubbed away the tears with my fists and listened to what he wasn't saying, then I turned and looked over my shoulder. Thorin just sat there, frozen, gazing off in a faraway manner, stricken through by whatever image he'd conjured, and I knew it was something he'd imagined about . . . me.
I didn't even think about what I did next. I just did it. I pushed myself up, turned, crawled into his lap and wrapped my arms around Thorin Oakenshield's broad shoulders. I hugged him. And he let me do it, let me climb up and sit in his lap as though he wasn't of a mind to care that I'd done it. I didn't know what to expect next. I didn't care about my burning backside. And I didn't care if hugging him in the middle of a spanking was a shocking breach of disciplinary etiquette. It might be entirely wrong, but it felt entirely right. And I guess it felt that way to Thorin, too, because he hugged me back. Tightly.
"You're r-right," I said, trying to master the trembling in my voice. "I-I wasn't thinking about anything 'cept wanting to be with the ponies. And you're right that it was dangerous. I see that. And I know I'm not sus-spposed to say it yet, but I'm sorry, Thorin. Biggest s-sorry. I made you troubled. I-I did it. And I know it wasn’t just 't-troubling'. It was bigger than just 't-troubling.' It was much bigger." He held me for a long moment, then he nodded, and when he drew back to gaze at me he was once again that commanding, masterful presence.
"Thank you, little one," he said. "I was indeed troubled, though. It troubled me to see you needlessly endanger your life. It troubled me to see it happen again and again. And watching you risk yourself today for such a frivolous whim was more than I could abide."
He paused and studied me. "But you knew that, didn't you, my fauntling?" he said. "You knew full well what you were doing. You knew that if I'd come out to check on you once I likely would do it again. So you decided to leave the safe boundaries of the garden and go out into the meadow. It was a deliberate act to gain my attention. You succeeded, little one. I should have given you my attention every time you sought it with your risky behavior. Well, Master Baggins, you have it now."
I stared at him, barely breathing. It was true, everything he said was true. I'd known what I was doing, and I hadn't known. I'd hidden away from it. Maybe I hadn't consciously planned out my actions; maybe I hadn't thought, "I know what I'll do! I'll do this dangerous thing to get Thorin's attention!" But it likely looked that way to him. Of course it looked that way to him. Because that's exactly how it was. I had done things to get his attention. And he knew. Thorin Oakenshield knew what I'd done. He'd known all along.
I wanted to run away, run home to Bag End, rush in and slam my door and lock it and crawl under my bed with my favorite blanket and hide from his understanding gaze and everything he knew about why I did what I did. But I couldn't run or struggle or get away from him or escape this horrible feeling. I looked down, my vision blurring, and I buried my face in my palms and curled down over my lap, letting the tears come. I'd thought being spanked was humiliating, but it didn't compare with this. I felt more exposed than I had the first time he'd pulled down my britches.
I couldn't bear it. I had to get away. I quick-like tried to scramble from his lap but Thorin was ready for me and he grabbed me up and held me close again. I don't know why I struggled, but I kept at it, even though his muscled arms covered my back, locking me to him. I had to escape. This felt so, so awful, like an ugliness raging inside me. Why on earth didn't he turn me loose? How could he keep holding me, knowing what I'd done? I didn't even want to be with my vile self; why, oh, why did he?
"Shhh," he kept murmuring. "Shhh. 'Tis alright. Stop trembling. Shhh." Then: "Can you settle, my little fauntling?"
How could he call me that name? How could he say it with such gentleness? Nothing made sense, and all I could hear in my head was that ugliness: "How pathetic of you, seeking his attention. None of the others behave so disgracefully. Only you. The needy hobbit. You're a burden to him after all. He's being honest when he lashes out. You really don't belong with them. How can you face him again after this? Aren't you ashamed of yourself? He knows. He knows. He knows."
I heard Thorin sigh and mutter, "Very well." He unwrapped his arms and began drawing me away from him. I kept my eyes covered. I didn't blame him for putting me down and leaving me here alone. I didn't want to see it happening, though. I didn't want to watch him leave me and stride off. And tonight, as soon as I could steal away, I'd run, and I'd head home. I'd make it. I had my sword. I was fast. I could climb trees and when a hobbit hides no one can find him. I'd go home and close myself behind my door and hide there with my humiliation; and I'd stay away from dwarves in future and never again go on another adventure.
But - what--? Thorin was turning me back over his knee? I peeked through my fingers, saw my britches-pillow, grabbed it and hid my face there. What on earth did he think he--? More spanking? Now? And then Thorin began rubbing my back. Ohhhhhh, how I remembered this! I lay there, still shaken, and now baffled as well. But I felt myself relaxing; I couldn't help relaxing, and if that had been Thorin's goal then he'd once again proven himself to be a brilliant strategist.
After I couldn't tell how long, he said, "Good. Well settled. Now listen to me. Are you listening, Master Baggins?"
I nodded. Then: "OW!"
"Answer me please," he said.
"Yes! I-I'm listening."
I reached up and ran my palm over his curls, saying, "Am I correct in assuming that you are feeling embarrassed by your attention-seeking behavior, my fauntling?"
He groaned and said in a lazy whimper, "Please stop saying tha - why are you - why do you keep calling me that?"
"Because I like it," I replied, grinning to myself. "And it suits you. Now, answer my question."
He rubbed his face on his britches. "Yes," he muttered, shuddering. "I behaved s-shamefully, so I feel ashamed of mysel--OW!"
"You are not listening," I said. "I asked if you felt embarrassed, not ashamed."
"What's the differ--OW!"
"There is a great difference. Think about it." I continued to rub his back, watching him. Of course he knew there was a difference. My burglar was quick. It didn't take long before he replied.
"Y-Yes, alright; they're different, and-and yes, I'm emb-brarre-arrassed."
Struggling to keep the smile out of my voice, I said, "I understand."
Another soft groan and a sniffled, "Y-You can't. You. Can. N-Not. You prolly never did --"
"I used to do exactly what you are doing, little one, with my father and my grandfather. I went out of my way to seek their attention, sometimes in foolish ways."
He hiccuped, turned and lay his head to one side and peeked back at me with one sore-looking eye. "You did?"
I grinned at him and smoothed a few impossibly soft curls from his face. "Aye. Of course I did. Fili and Kili have done it, too. 'Tis not an unusual thing to seek the notice of one whose attention you crave. It is a compliment. You are very clever, little burglar. Can you not see it as such?"
I hoped he could, for when I told him that I'd known what he was about and had known it for some time, he had stared at me with wide-eyed devastation, then dropped his gaze, covered his face and bent over, curling down as though he could no longer hold himself up. I watched him with dismay. I had known this would not be easy for him, but I was struck through by how distressed he became. I doubt he suffered such embarrassment often, if ever, in his Shire. He seemed to be collapsing. And just when I could bear no more of this and was resolved to gather him up again, his trembling increased, a force building within him. I readied myself for anything, and when he, amazingly, tried to scramble from my lap I scooped him up and held him tightly, murmuring to him and waiting for him to calm. I hugged my halfling as my halfling had hugged me.
Several times after Master Baggins had done something daring Balin looked at me, eyes glittering, and said something about the courage of hobbits. But my old friend would have been even more amazed by the compassion of hobbits, or perhaps I should say by the compassion of my hobbit. I had been spanking him and lecturing him when I unintentionally led myself into a sudden unspeakable vision, and I became momentarily lost in it. I imagined my halfling in the hands of the monstrous orcs who had been threatening us, imagined what they were doing to him, and what I saw so horrified me that even though it was only imaginary I could not break free of it. Then I felt a small body pressing against me and a pair of wee arms wrapping around my shoulders . . . my hobbit was hugging me. I had been scolding him and heating up his backside, unpleasant for him, to say the least, but when he saw my distress my sore-bottomed little burglar climbed up into my lap and held me and tried to comfort me. I held him, moved beyond words, and I listened to him stammer through an endearing admission of guilt and an apology.
Now my halfling lay lost in his own ugly vision. And I would not stand for it. He was still studying me with that one peeking eye, so I patted his warm bottom to move him along.
"Fili and K-Kili did it too?" he asked in a small voice. "They did s-stuff to get attention from you?"
"They still do at times."
"You have nothing to be ashamed of, little one. I do understand your embarrassment and I regret your suffering. But you are a good little hobbit with a kind nature and a large heart, and shame has no place here. Are you listening to me, my fauntling?"
He had turned away and was crying again, softly now, a sound of release rather than upset. "Uh huh," he said. "List-ning."
"And do you now ken that what you have done is no more than what others before you have done, including me, and that some are still doing it?"
"And do you know that you are not a bad hobbit or whatever wicked thing you are telling yourself you are, but that you are my good little fauntling?"
He wriggled a bit, clearly feeling awkward and bashful because of my wording and the name I'd become so fond of. I grinned, unable to stop.
"Uh huh," was all he said. "I know."
"Tell me what you know," I said, unwilling to move on until I was certain he took it all in, for when he thought on this later he would recall the truth of how I saw the matter and it would soothe him and quiet any fears that might seek to attack him. I patted his bottom once more, a bit more firmly now.
He huffed, endearingly irritated, and said, "I have a big h-heart and sh-shame has no place here and others, even you, d-did what I d-did and I'm not wicked things and I'm a good little fauntling."
He had rattled that off in haste and the last word obviously slipped out before he could snatch it back. He paused, shuddered and made a sound of clear annoyance. I chuckled. "Very good, little one. Listen to me; I'm not upset with you because of what you were trying to do. You had your reasons for seeking my attention, and we shall discuss those. However --" I stopped rubbing, lay my arm over his back and pulled him tightly against me. He went rigid at once. Pity, as I had just settled him down. No matter. What was coming next was crucial. "Before we discuss why you have sought my attention we must finish our discussion about the manner in which you did so today."
"We were finished!" he cried, wriggling around in a panic. "We did discuss-ded it! We d-diiid!"
Then he surprised me by wrenching his arm behind him and covering his bottom. I'm always surprised when this happens with my nephews. It's such a futile move. I grinned, then drew his arm away and held it at his back, saying, "Enough of that, little one. We were close to finishing before we were pulled off course by my vision of a certain naughty burglar so far from safety in the meadow."
"Nooo! Pleeeeeeeease don't spank me any m-more! No more spanks! Thorin! My bottom hurrrrrrts!"
"I imagine it does. Nevertheless, we shall finish the rest of our discussion, Master Baggins if we needs stay out here all day and into the night," I informed him in a mild tone.
We were, in truth, nearly done. But we had been interrupted at a decisive moment, and my burglar deserved more than a curtailed effort. He deserved the chance to feel as though he had fully atoned. Despite his warmhearted apologies when he was comforting me, I knew that if I ended this now he would go away feeling oddly deprived. He would never admit it, especially to his hot-bottomed self. But deep within his most private, thoughtful place he would feel that I had left something undone, and it would begin to gnaw at him. No. My fauntling deserved better than niggling uncertainty and mysterious sense of lack.
"But,but,but, please!" he said. "Can't we--"
"Call it a day? No. Talk about what is troubling me? Indeed. Time to finish that discussion."
And I started spanking his round, rosy backside again. I knew it stung. We had been at this, off and on, for awhile now. But I'd spanked him longer than this the last time he was over my knee, and with the same degree of force. Nevertheless, my burglar arched up, drew a great breath and sent forth a hearty wail.
"AHHHHHHHHHH! But we-we did finish! We finished! We diiiiiid!"
"Your stamina could still stand improving," I said.
"S-S-Stanima?" he said, mangling the word in a tone of outraged disbelief. "Stanin-ma?"
"Aye. Stamina. As I told you last time, we needs build yours up to a better level of endurance."
"Noooo we donnn't!" he cried, kicking out his indignation. "I don't want no stan-mim-na!"
"Mmm. I see." I grinned. He had already slipped down to a 'little fauntling' place in his mind, going further than he had during his first spanking. It made sense. We had grown closer now and he was more comfortable with me. If he was in trouble I would know it. I knew the sound of his crying, knew distressed crying from healthy crying. And my halfling was fine. He was sobbing and yelling and fussing, and he was kicking - within reasonable boundaries - but he was also backchatting me with a confidence I found both reassuring and amusingly unsuitable.
"As I told you before, we still have a long journey ahead, so although you might not want more stamina, 'tis best you start building it, sir."
I raised my brows. "What was that?" I asked giving him a harder swat.
"Owww! I-I mean, pleeease, no calling m-me 'sir!'"
Interesting. Well, he was far from a 'sir' now anyway. "Very well. As you wish, my little fauntling."
"Don't like t-that either!"
"I suggest you get used to it," I said with a sincere smack that made him howl. "And mind your manners, my impertinent grocer. You are in no position to dictate preferences to me."
He gave a few jerking kicks to express his displeasure then grouched an apology composed of more petulance than remorse. Surprisingly fair bit of fight remaining in my spirited hobbit who had apparently forgotten that apologies came after the spanking.
"Thank you," I said. "Picking up where we left off, you knew that I was 'troubled' because you had left the enclosure, but you seemed uncertain as to whether or not it was dangerous to go out into the meadow. So I pointed out how far you were from safety and how easily you could have been either killed by an arrow or captured. Is that a fair summary of where we left off ?"
He lifted his head and cried, "Uh huh! F-Fair. Fair summy. But - AHHH! Pleeeeease no morrre!"
I pictured him upon that rock, reaching for the ponies, arms spread wide - target practice for orcs. "A bit more, yes," I said, "but you are doing very well, little one."
More kicking, then a whimpered, "Th-Thankyouu."
"Do you now see how what you did was dangerous?"
"Uh huh," he managed between sobs. "Dangerous. Should-Shouldn't have done-ded it. Was big d-dangerous."
"It was life-threatening."
"Life-threnening. Uh huh."
"Last time I had you over my knee I promised to spank you if you ever again did anything life-threatening." I tipped him up and began swatting the pink undercurve of his bottom. "Do you recall that promise?"
He squealed and wriggled. "AHHHHHHHHH! Recall! Owww! Yes,yes,yesss! Pleeease s-stop thaaat!"
I swatted that tender area a bit more, then lowered my leg and returned to his now quite red backside. "You risked your life for a mere whim," I said, spanking more lightly and slowly. "I'll not tolerate that, Master Baggins. Nor shall I tolerate your hotheaded behavior. We both understand why you did what you did, but that does not excuse it. You cannot indulge your dreamy unawareness and expect to survive, little one. Remember what I told you before - I have only one burglar. I shall not allow you to risk yourself. Is that clear?"
"Uh huhh. C-Clearrrr."
I rested my palm on his burning backside and released his hand, grinning when he left it there on his back. I had a bit more to talk over with him, but my brave little grocer was tiring, so I smoothed my hand over his hot bottom and asked the same question I'd put to him after his first spanking, "Now, what have you to say to me?"
Onward to Part Three