- Death-Minor Character
- Canon Divergent
He'd really prefer another quest.
Fíli massaged his shoulder which had begun to stiffen up again. The healers hadn’t completely cleared him yet but he was allowed to assume some of the administrative responsibility that came with rebuilding, just like Thorin and Kíli. He couldn’t wait to finally be allowed to train again. For now he walked slowly through the mountain, officially monitoring the rebuilding efforts as crown prince. Dáin had left volunteers there to help prepare the mountain for winter and to make it inhabitable again, aided by the architects Dís had brought with her.
Unofficially it also gave him a good opportunity to be away from the rest of the family and the short temper of Thorin and Kíli. Things were tense right now, had been ever since they had woken up after the battle. Dís had shown up, revealing that Nori was the spymaster, sent along on the quest by her to try and keep them alive, that Bilbo had found the One Ring at some point during their quest and that he was right now making his way to Moria, accompanied only by Nori, Kíli’s elf and a human who had come with Elrond and that the only way they could help was by staying behind and waiting. Kíli had not been happy when he had heard.
Thorin had been simply furious. Not that Dís had let him get away with doing anything stupid, she had quickly set him straight and instead told him to get started figuring out how to court Bilbo and convince him to bond with him. It had not been a surprise that Thorin wanted to court him – everyone else in the company was very aware that Thorin was interested in Bilbo, they did not need to be Sentinels to see that, thanks – though they had not known that he was also a compatible Guide. Perhaps he should have figured it out, considering Thorin’s near instant attraction to Bilbo, but he had not been familiar enough with Sentinels and Guides to know better. Growing up, he’d known that Thorin was a Sentinel and Dwalin his Guide and he’d thought that was that.
“It’s a different kind of bond,” his mother had explained when he had asked her. “Most Guides and Sentinels can form a working bond between each other unless they completely hate each other on sight. But that bond will be like a necklace made of gold, it will do its job but with time and use, it can stretch and wear think and then, under pressure, it will break. The bond between Ones, however, is like a necklace made out of mithril. It won’t wear down, break or tear under stress. It’s coveted, among all free people, as far as I know, but it is rare. We considered it lucky that Thorin had found someone close to that compatibility with Dwalin.”
“That’s why Nori is with Billbo on that mission now, right? They’re also close to compatible, as Dwalin’s compatible Sentinel and Uncle Thorin’s compatible Guide.”
“That’s right. Nori will protect Bilbo in Thorin’s stead.” Dís’ voice had been certain, full of confidence in Nori’s abilities. That had been another surprise, Dís’ friendship with Nori.
And yet there was something strangely familiar about it as well. As he’d lain there in the healing tents, not allowed to get up, his thoughts had kept returning to that moment during the battle when Nori had saved him from Azog, how his spirit animal had distracted Azog from dealing him a killing blow. Seeing that raven, Nori’s spirit animal, had reminded him of his early childhood in Ered Luin for some reason.
“He sent it to watch you and play with you while he reported to me when you were little,” Dís had explained. “As you got old enough to start your lessons with Balin, we timed our meeting for when you boys were in your lessons.”
“I thought I’d imagined him.” Balin had told him that what few ravens they had in Ered Luin were not living inside the mountain when he had asked during one of his first lessons, so he had figured that it had been an imaginary friend he had come up with in the confusion following the Battle of Azanulbizar and the loss of most of his family. Knowing that the raven had been real, that Nori had purposely sent him to keep him company, it meant a lot to him. “We’ll help them, won’t we? At least with the political part?”
“Most of it will be up to Thorin and Dwalin,” Dís had warned him. “Thorin will have to figure out how to reconcile with Master Baggins and how to court him on his own.”
And Thorin better figure it out quickly. Fíli and Kíli were eager to have Bilbo officially part of their family. They did not want to have to wait years for Thorin to figure out how to properly communicate.
He refused to even consider that Bilbo, Nori and the others might fail, that they might not return from Mordor. They just had to.
“Well, he will have Dwalin’s help with the courtship,” Dís had conceded, “since he can’t start on his own courtship until Thorin and Bilbo have bonded.”
“Even if Thorin abolishes the law requiring the spymaster to stay unattached, Nori will not agree to a bond if it would leave Thorin unbonded and vulnerable. He’s the spymaster. He chose to become to spymaster, to put the safety and well-being of our family above his own. So if Dwalin wants to get anywhere with Nori, Thorin needs to be bonded to someone else. Preferably Master Baggins.”
“He better bond with Bilbo,” Fíli had muttered.
Fílli stopped on the battlements and looked south, towards Mordor. Now they just had to return safe and sound.
He was not the only one at the mountain to look to where the missing members of their company where. Dwalin stood at the window of Thorin’s rooms. Weeks had passed already and still no sign of them. And it seemed like, every day, his temporary bond with Thorin deteriorated more, as if, now that they had both acknowledge who their Ones were, it was no longer enough. He shook his head. He still had a hard time wrapping his head around the revelation during the battle. Bilbo was Thorin’s One and even unbonded, Thorin had been able to pick out his voice in the middle of what was already being called Battle of the Five Armies. And Nori was the spymaster, a sentinel powerful enough to rival Thorin. He was his sentinel, his One. He had been attracted to him, from the moment he had met him, but he had pushed it aside, telling himself that it was just his pretty face, that he was a thief, a criminal, not a suitable or compatible partner.
Mahal had certainly liked to prove him wrong.
The state of the bond between him and Thorin was also what forced them to withdraw to the private living quarters regularly, to prevent Thorin from Zoning and him from going into a fugue. Fortunately for them, Balin, Dís, Fíli and Kíli were happy to help them out. Balin and Dís were experienced already, as they had often stayed behind in Ered Luin while he and Thorin had travelled to the towns of men, trying to find work to earn enough to keep their settlement running. Dís had also started on rebuilding their diplomatic relations on her way to Erebor, soothing ruffled feathers in the Shire and Rivendell. (And couldn’t Tharkûn have mentioned that their Master Baggins was a member of the ruling family of the Shire and that no one there had known about the quest, including Bilbo himself? He had definitely deserved that punch Dís had thrown.) Kíli was also helping where he could. Back in Ered Luin, he had always preferred to avoid his royal duties, citing he was just ‘the spare’, but now he offered to take on some of their responsibilities, probably to stay busy and avoid thinking about where his elf had gone.
Dwalin was not sure yet what to think of that. His cousin Óin had told them how she had healed Kíli in Laketown and she had come to help them on Ravenhill, so he would reserve judgement for now. Let Dís deal with it, perhaps. The boys tended to listen to her more than to him or Thorin.
He decisively turned around to where Thorin was sitting in a stone chair, staring at the unlit fireplace. Worrying and dwelling on how much he hated this feeling of impotence was not going to help. “Any progress with that law?”
Thorin sighed, resting his head on his hand. “Ori managed to find some information on it in the remnants of the library here. Contrary to that rule Thrór set requiring everyone interested in joining the army to pay for their own gear, it’s an older, actual law. I can’t simply abolish it, not without the backing of my council, at least.” He paused. “Well, I could do it but it would set a bad precedent. I want to introduce precautionary measures in case I or one of my successors falls to goldsickness again. I can’t do that and still circumvent my council.”
“Do you even have a proper council?”
“Not really. Some of my grandfather’s council left for other dwarven kingdoms after Erebor fell. Some fell in the Battle of Azanulbizar or left afterwards. We’ll have to see when they or their heirs return.”
Dwalin grimaced. Great, their future, their personal future, depended on a bunch of disloyal nobles who would almost certainly cling to tradition. So no abolishing ‘traditional’ laws, no hobbits or elves as royal spouses… “So we have to wait for them to show up? Do we even know how many of them are still alive or have heirs? Or how many will even want to return before Erebor is rebuild?”
Thorin ran a hand through his hair. “I have no idea.” He paused thoughtfully. “Perhaps Dís or Nori will know.”
“What if they don’t?”
“If they don’t know?” Thorin shrugged. “Then I’m afraid we’ll stuck waiting.”
“We should ask Dís first. But I meant what if they don’t return. Can you appoint someone?”
“I have no idea,” Thorin said after a moment of consideration. “This might be another point for Ori to research.”
“And we should ask Dís what she knows.” Dwalin took a few steps towards the door, then stopped. “Do you know where she is now?”
“She should be in that room we are using as office.” Thorin straightened and stood up, happier now that he had something he could do instead of sitting and waiting.
Fíli stopped in the doorway to the office, surprised not to find his mother there. He looked around, trying to spot anything that could tell her where she could have gone. They normally all met in the office to go to dinner together, to eat with the other members of the company and some of the dwarrow Dís had brought with her. But there was no hint to see. The reports on the desk were just the everyday reports of the rebuilding effort, tedious for sure but not enough to run her off.
“She received a raven.”
Fíli turned startled to find a guard standing behind him.
The guard bowed. “Forgive me, Prince Fíli. I did not mean to startle you. Ah, I’m Tulvak, son of Duvak, at your service.” He bowed again.
“Fíli, son on Dís, at yours and your family.” Fíli only just remembered not to bow completely but to only offer a half-bow. “And do not worry, I should have paid more attention. You said she received a raven?”
“Yes, though I must have misheard the message. It said that her raven has returned?”
Fíli’s eyes widened as he understood the message. He only just remembered to thank Tulvak, then he took off running towards the gate.
They were back.