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Elrond smiled when he entered Bilbo's room with a tray of supper and discovered his old friend sitting with his head dropped on his chest in a chair before the fire, fast asleep. Bilbo was usually very punctual as a rule, and he seldom failed to wake up in time for Elrond's nightly visits, but increasingly of late, the seldom had become more commonplace.

After closing and locking the door, Elrond carried the tray over to the fire whereupon he set them down upon the table next to Bilbo. Then he leaned down and pressed a kiss to the old hobbit's cheek. It did not wake Bilbo, who looked peaceful and sleepy, and Elrond's smile faded slightly. A small exhale - a little sorrowful, a little resigned - touched the air.

He looked up and down the hobbit, and then turned his head, his long dark hair sliding smoothly and silkily across his robed shoulders, to look at the small, but comfortable bed in the corner of the room. Then he looked back at Bilbo and his lips parted in an expression of surprise when he found his old friend gazing at him, the old eyes having suddenly opened. "Hullo, hullo! So it's night already?" Bilbo asked.

"Indeed. I wondered if perhaps you would be more comfortable sleeping in bed. You have been sitting in this chair all day."

"Perhaps I would. Care to carry me?" A twinkle entered the old drooping eyes.

Elrond bent his head and chuckled for a moment, and then turned and went over to the bed to pull back the white blankets. Then he returned to Bilbo's side and said, "But come, dear Bilbo, how am I to carry you to bed when you are so dressed?" He nodded at the hobbit's ink stained clothes and then, on glancing at the sleepy face, said, "Come, I will help you to change your garb." Then he helped Bilbo first change his shirt to a long nightshirt and then knelt before him to help him take off his slippers and socks and then his trousers. As he withdrew the latter item, he paused to sniff at the legs, and then commented, "I am so glad that you no longer smoke."

"A little persuasion, on the part of a dashing son of Eärendil, goes a long way."

Elrond snorted and folded the trousers, and then lowered them to his lap. Then, smiling, he leaned over and pressed a kiss to one of Bilbo's knees. "I wish that I had known you better when you were younger." He laved his tongue across the bony cap, and then with a deep sigh and glance upwards at the smiling, peaceful face, cupped the back of the ankle with one hand and the heel with another, before beginning to press descending kisses down the hobbit's calf. As he reached the ankle, he suddenly drew his mouth away to the end of the foot and opened his lips to draw in the big toe. Then he drew back and took it lightly between his teeth for a moment, his eyes closed, before drawing the digit within his mouth once more. Then he drew back and proceeded to do the same with the other smaller digits, pausing between each toe to lave the tip of his tongue within the arcs.

As he reached the last, tiniest digit, Bilbo suddenly said, "An old hobbit indulges a half-elf's base whims."

Elrond released the toe and looked up, and chuckled at the twinkle in the hobbit's eyes. "Aye," he said as he bent his head to rub his nose and mouth and cheeks on the bridge of Bilbo's foot and the thick brown curls there. "But I think you enjoy this, even if your creaking bones no longer allow you to render the full act."

"Much to your disappointment, I presume?"

Elrond chuckled softly and pressed a last kiss to Bilbo's ankle before carefully lowering the foot and looking up. "Indeed." He shifted closer and leaned his chin lightly on Bilbo's knee. "Much to my disappointment, my dear."

There was a long pause. Their eyes were both twinkling with warm mirth. Then, finally, Elrond suddenly turned his graceful head and slowly rose. "I am afraid we must stop there tonight," he said. "I fear I have a daughter agonised over whether her wedding dress should be white with silk or white with lace or white with velvet, and she requires my support." He smiled. "You will not be coming with us to Gondor, then?"

"Oi, oi, you are the one who told me not to come. 'In your state, Bilbo dear, I am afraid you are not fit enough to travel.'" The hobbit smiled broadly, the wrinkles stretching and disappearing around his mouth for a few moments before suddenly reappearing as his face relaxed. He sighed. "But I agree completely with you, my friend."

Elrond smiled and reached down to slide his arms beneath the hobbit and pick him up. He carried him over to the bed and set him down so that Bilbo's head lay on the deep pillows and his body on the sheets. Then he withdrew his arms, pulled the blankets over his old friend, and kissed him gently on the lips. "Rest well, Bilbo," he said as he pulled back and straightened.

"Good night, Elrond."

Their eyes met once more, both twinkling again as merry as children, and then Elrond dipped his head, turned away and left the room.
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