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Bilbo watched her leave, a satisfied grin still on his face. He turned back to find his stallion watching him with fond eyes. “What?”

“You always fight for him.” There was no accusation in Thorin’s voice.

“Well, it wasn’t just for him. I fight for her too. He’s family, and she deserves to be happy.” Bilbo shrugged. “You know that means we have four mated pairs in our herd now? And more likely to come. We still have three unmated mares—well, four if you count Dis, but she’s stubborn. But I know that stallion she danced with still has his eyes on her.” He tapped the side of his nose.

Thorin laughed quietly. “You are incredible. Do you know that?”

“Oh, I’m not that special.” Bilbo waved the compliment away. “I just like taking care of people. And that includes seeing them happily mated.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Chuckling, Thorin pulled him closer. “I suppose that’s fine. As long as you let us take care of you as well. What did Oin have to say?”

“Everything’s Good. There’s no problems. I’d know before he did, anyway.”

“Fair enough. When was the last time you ate?”

“It’s been forever! I’m starving!”

“So about an hour then?” Thorin chuckled.

Bilbo scoffed. “Maybe,” he said sassily.

“Then we best go fill your belly … all of your bellies.” Thorin rubbed Bilbo’s growing middle, referring to the two little beings who were housed safely within.

“I think we’d all enjoy that.” Bilbo played along with a giggle. And they returned to their tent.

~~Excerpt from chapter 66 of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on Oct 19th. Subscribe now! ❤

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Bilbo trotted to the council tent with Dagan at his side. He wasn’t happy about not being summoned for the meeting. Throwing the tent door open, he barged in. “Dagan said you’re not sending a trading party out today.”

“Unfortunately. Come sit, Ghivashel.” Thorin beckoned him in.

“Why not?” Bilbo took a seat next to his mate. “And why didn’t someone come get me?“

“You were resting,” Dis answered. “We didn’t wish to wake you.”

Bilbo snorted indignantly. “This is important.”

“I’m sorry, Amral. It wasn’t our intent to leave you out.” Thorin ran his fingers through Bilbo’s growing curly mane.

“What’s going on? Why no trading party? Are there no more settlements nearby?”

“On the contrary, there are still two settlements within our reach, though we’d likely only be able to make contact with one more before we move on,” Balin replied.

“It’s the good’s that’s the problem.” Gloin took over. “We’re out of things to trade. We ain’t got nothin’ left that we don’t need.”

“But we can’t stop,” Bilbo insisted. “Trade relations might be the only thing keeping us from delving into an all out war.”

“We understand, Amral, But we simply have nothing left to offer. It’s the excuse of trade that has granted us what interaction we’ve had so far. Without something to offer, our approaching the settlements will likely be found suspicious,” Thorin reasoned.

Bilbo thought for a few moments, his face scrunched up in concentration. “So, you just need something to trade, right?”

“Aye, something the humans would take an interest in,” Gloin confirmed.

“All right.” Bilbo stood. “Come, Dagan.”

“Bilbo? Where are you going?” Dis wondered.

“Fishing.” Bilbo disappeared out the tent.

~~Excerpt from chapter 65 of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on Oct 5th. Subscribe now! ❤

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“Bilbo.” Dis’s voice broke through his thoughts. “Get over here. We came to wash, and you are not getting out of it!” she scolded superficially.

A smile crept onto Bilbo’s face at the sound of splashing as a couple of the mares came to retrieve him. “I’m coming. So pushy!” He turned around to join Tina and Nami as they returned to the other mares.

“Bilbo Baggins! You will get over here, and let us pamper you! For Mahal’s sake! You’re carrying twins! Accept your fate!” Dis teased.

Laughing, Bilbo pranced through the water toward them. There was no reason for him to be depressed. So many cared for him now, and he would return the favor. He would figure it out. He just needed time to think.

“It can’t be my turn yet! We just got started!”

“Everyone but you has been washed,” Tina informed. “Even little Vili’s already had his bath!”

The little colt cooed around his hand from where he sat propped between Sharli’s knees.

“See? Even he think’s you’re being stubborn,” Sharli laughed, petting Vili’s little tuft of hair.

“That’s not fair! You’re supposed to be on my side, Vili!” Bilbo pouted, and the mares giggles as they boxed him in for a thorough scrubbing. “Fine. I guess I’ll suffer through it,” he sighed dramatically, but his sullen mask quickly cracked to make way for a giggle as Dis tutted.

“All right. Behave and let us make you sparkle.”

He did. And reveled in the companionship and love of his new family.

~~Excerpt from chapter 64 of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on Sept. 21st. Subscribe now! ❤

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Thorin nodded. “We’ve offered anything that we can afford to spare. How they choose to respond is up to them. Did you have fun in the fields?”

“Oh yes! The flowers are all blooming now! It makes me want to make flower crowns!”

“What are flower crowns?” Ori wondered. The new mares looked equally curious.

“Oh, they’re so much fun! You make rings out of flowers and set them right on your head. The mares in the Shire make them for their stallions or those they want to be their stallions. It’s a huge event and flowers are everywhere! Everyone wears flowers! We geldings usually just make them for each other since we can’t give them to anyone else.”

“That sounds so fun! I want to make some,” Nami gushed excitedly.

“I’ll teach you! We can all make some and decorate all of our stallions!” Bilbo offered a little too enthusiastically and the mares cheered in agreement. The stallions, however, fidgeted with unease.

Thorin huffed at their reactions and his giggling mate. He had already strutted around camp wearing one and didn’t particularly mind doing it again. Despite the sour look on Dwalin’s face, Thorin doubted he’d be able to tell Ori no either. Bilbo’s giggles took on a evil lilt and Thorin could just tell he was imagining all the strongest, toughest stallions in the herd sporting rings of flowers on their heads.

“You are a little devil.” Thorin whispered into the pony’s ear. Bilbo only laughed harder and snuggled against his stallion. There was no point in denying it.

~~Excerpt from chapter 63 of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on September 7th. Subscribe now! ❤

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“I’ll come back.” Bilbo vowed. “If I find a herd out there that would welcome us geldings. I’ll come back. To get you and any others that might want to leave. I promise.”

Dino scoffed. “They’re cowards. They wouldn’t leave even if you gave them the option.”

“Then I’ll come back or you. If I find a place for us.” He wrapped his arms around Dino’s neck and pulled him down into a hug.

“Fine.” Dino surrendered quietly. “But you better be careful… And be safe.” He chuckled softly. “That’s my Bo. Always the brave and stubborn one. Who knows, maybe you’ll find that special stallion you’re looking for.”

“Thank you, Dino.”

“Just, be careful, all right? And stay away from the humans. They can’t be trusted.”

“I will.” Bilbo nodded. “Thank you.” He pushed up onto the tips of his hooves to reach as he nuzzled his best friend. “Take care of the others.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Dino grumbled but let him go. “I better see you soon, Bo!” He called as Bilbo walked away.

Bilbo didn’t reply but gave him a final wave. By dawn, he had breached the edge of the Shire. He glanced around cautiously and headed north.

~~Excerpt from a new short fic and backstory of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3, to be updated on July 6th.

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“The Shirelings are the ponies, like Bilbo. They’re shorter and not as heavy and they have curly coats and hair that get all warm and fuzzy in the winter.”

“Really? That sounds adorable! I wish I could meet him.”

“Oh, that reminds me. He told me to tell you ‘hi’ for him.” Frerin delivered.

“To me? Why?”

“Well, he’s the one who told me I needed to apologize, remember?”

“And you’ve been . . telling him about me?” She asked suspiciously.

“Only because he asks.” Frerin defended. “He caught me this morning and pried for information. I can talk to him more than anyone else. I haven’t really told anyone else.”

“He sounds . . nice.”

“He amazing.” Frerin agreed fondly.

“He’s your brother’s mate, right? I-I heard you wi-Khazad normally only have one partner.”

“Yeah, that’s right. We mate for life . . well, most of us.”

“And are you . . in love with him? Your brother’s mate?”

“What? No! Why would you think that?” Frerin startled.

She shrugged and looked away. “You just . . when you talk about him you get … soft, I guess. I dunno.”

Frerin tried to remember how he had been talking. Was he that sappy when it came to Bilbo? “I’m not.”

She gave him a skeptical look.

“I’m not. Really. I-I thought I was.” He admitted softly. “Or rather, a not-very-good friend of mind managed to convince me that I was for his own purposes. But I don’t think what I felt was ever really like that.”

~~ Excerpt from chapter 55 of The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on May 11th. Subscribe now! 💖

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Frerin sighed. “I met a mare.” He started. It was amazing how easy it was to talk to Bilbo.

“Oooh! Rea~lly?!” Bilbo teased suggestively with a wiggle of his brows.

“It’s not like that!” Frerin defended with an amused huffed.

“Go on.”

“She’s who . . told me about the stallions breeding domestic mares. Her father was one of ours. She’s half Khuzd.”

“Mm-hm. Is she pretty?”

“What? She’s only half Khuzd.” He scrunched up his nose in disgust.”

“So? I’m not Khuzd at all. Does that disgust you?”

“What?! No! You’re … different! She’s half domestic!”

“So? Is she pretty?” Bilbo defaulted back to his original question.

“Uh. Maybe . . I guess? But she’s a domestic.”

“And what’s so bad about being domestic?”

“Uh, everything?! She might as well be one of the humans’ dogs!”

“Did she act like one? Like a human’s dog?” Bilbo continued to nibble on his leaf as they talked.

“Well . . No. Not really. She was . . really outspoken actually.”

“Sounds pretty Khuzd to me.” Bilbo snickered.

“Or pony.” Frerin jabbed back and Bilbo snorted, again not denying it.

~~ Excerpt from The Herd of Durin by Domestic Goddess on Ao3 to be updated on April 27th. Subscribe now! 💖

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