- Death-Minor Character
- Canon Divergent
He'd really prefer another quest.
Dís watched as the great eagles approached, two of them descending toward the open space in front of the great gate, heart in her throat. She noticed others join her, dwarrow who were curious what was going on, who had seen her hurrying through the mountain. She nodded briefly to Dori and Ori when they arrived. It seemed the raven had found and told them, just as she had asked it to.
The two eagles landed, then sank down with one wing extended to allow their passenger to get off easier. The way they stumbled off, so unlike the controlled grace she was used to from Nori or elves, told her a lot already about the state they were in. She noted the limp form of the human, supported by the elf, but her attention was on the two smaller figures slowly coming towards her, towards the gate.
She could well understand Dori’s dismayed gasp. They were all pale and wan, deep circles under their eyes, their hair dull and untidy. Their movements were slow and the looked like the only thing keeping them upright was stubbornness and the way they leaned against one another. Considering what she knew about Nori and what she had heard about the hobbit, she would not be surprised in the least if that was true.
They came to a stop in front of her. Nori bowed to her, swaying slightly at the change in posture. The hobbit’s grip on his clothes tightened, likely afraid they would both fall down any moment. “My princess,” he began, his voice rasping, “we have succeeded. We –“
She held up a hand, signalling him to stop. “Thank you.” Unable to help herself, she closed the gap between them. She rested her hands of his shoulders and lightly knocked their heads together. “Thank you for coming back, nadadith,” she said softly. She allowed herself a moment to revel in the relief that she had not lost another little brother, then straightened up and continued in a more official tone: “The report can wait. Rest for now and let the healers look you over. You can tell us all later.” She nodded to Dori.
He joined them quickly, Ori at his heel. “Come on, nadadith, let me show you our rooms. I can make you a cup of tea perhaps, hm?” He couldn’t help but reach out, fussing with his clothes and hair, the way he had done with Ori during the journey. Nori had not permitted his fussing over him in decades. Feeling him not lean into his touches, Dori had to swallow hard. His voice was husky as he added softly: “It’s over, you’re back and safe now. Come.” He wrapped an arm around Nori’s shoulders to lead him inside. He wanted to yell when Nori leaned heavily on him. Why did it have to be Nori who carried this burden? Why did it have to be Nori and Bilbo, he corrected himself. He glanced at Bilbo, at the way he and Nori had still not let go of each other. He offered Bilbo a smile, as well as he could in this moment. “I did promise you a cup of tea, didn’t I, Master Baggins?”
Bilbo smiled tiredly. “Bilbo. We’re all past formalities. And tea would be lovely.”
Dís watched them slowly make their way inside. She wanted to go with them, to see for herself that there was nothing some rest would not cure, but she knew that this was not the time. Tomorrow, she reminded herself, tomorrow she would go and see them. Or Nori would show up to report to her, it certainly would not be the first time he’d come to her while still recovering.
She was relieved to see that Balin had arrived with Dwalin and Thorin and was keeping a hold of them. Neither of them were the most patient and neither she nor Nori and Bilbo needed to deal with them right now. Instead she turned to the elf. The elf her little Kíli had fallen for. She was less familiar with elves but even her ageless features looked somehow worn down to her, her red hair dull and tangled, her armour and face splattered with blood. “Tauriel of Mirkwood,” she said, “you have saved and healed by son, now let us offer you safety and healing. Be welcome to rest here in Erebor.” Now that she got a closer look, she saw that the limpness of the human woman was not the limpness of unconsciousness. “We can take her to where her body can be safe until she is taken to her final resting place. What about you? Do you need a healer?”
She looked down at herself as if startled by the blood. “It’s mostly hers. And orc blood.” She lifted her gaze again and stared at Dís. “We had to buy them time.”
Dís gentled her voice. “You did. You helped them succeed.”
“I need to tell Lord Elrond that Gilraen… that she…”
“He is staying with the humans in the ruins of Dale. We will send word to him.”
“I can take her to Óin,” Bofur offered. “Bifur can carry Gilraen.”
His cousin bowed wordlessly, then held out his arms. They patiently waited for her to pass the body to him, then, after she thanked the eagles for their help, Bofur led them inside.
She would have to thank them later. Fortunately with the four of them in Erebor and the eagles taking off again, most dwarrow had lost interest or were at least back inside to catch another glimpse of them. Either way, it gave her more privacy to deal with Dwalin and Thorin.
“What was that?” Thorin demanded.
She just looked at him for a moment, one brow raised. “I was welcoming them back, which is my job as your sister. At least until you have a spouse I can share the responsibility with. And I was offering my son’s intended the help she needs right now.”
“You could have offered Bilbo the guest room we have prepared for him,” Thorin said. The guest room in the same wing as their rooms, as close to his own rooms as he could manage before they were bonded and married, close enough he would not have to stretch his senses overly much to check on him, to be reassured that Bilbo was back, safe under his watch.
“He just went to an ordeal we don’t yet know the extent of. I doubt he would take us up on the offer to be away from the Sentinel shielding him right now.” She did not even bat an eye at the growl Thorin and Dwalin let out.
Balin was just as unimpressed. “You may have acknowledged to us that they are your Ones, not to them. You have not made any courting overtures yet.” He was not sure if it had been stubbornness or them being blind to their own feelings – both were quite common in the Line of Dúrin, unfortunately – but they would have to live with their not having the right now to be that involved in their care and recovery yet.
“It’s not like I can make any overtures,” Dwalin argued. “Or at least he cannot accept, whether he wants to or not.”
Thorin shifted uncomfortably when they all turned to look at him. He knew that a lot depended on him. He needed to figure out how to undo the law and how to apologize to Bilbo and court him.
Sometimes the former seemed easier than the latter. How could he even begin to apologize for the way he had dismissed and disrespected Bilbo for most of their journey? How could he apologize for almost killing him? How could he convince Bilbo that the duties that came with being his Guide and husband would be worth it?
“We are working on it,” Thorin said, hoping he sounded convincing. He cleared his throat. “Actually, Dís, we were looking for you. Or perhaps you can help, Balin.”
Nori gladly curled up in the bed Dori and Ori had shown him, pulling an already sleeping Bilbo closer, just as they had done during the past weeks. He was tired, so very tired. He had barely had the energy to wash off the worst of the dirt before falling into bed, though a proper bath was in his definitely in his near future. After the nap. If he was lucky, the hot springs Nolir had told him about were still working.
Nolir, the previous spymaster and his teacher as both spymaster and sentinel, had often told him stories about Erebor at its peak, back before Thror had fallen to goldsickness. It was one of his fondest memories. Thanks to his Sentinel senses, he could remember it all, the feel of his presence, the sound of his voice, his scent, his appearance. He remembered how Dori had struggled with guilt as his memory of their mother had started to fade, that he could no longer properly remember her face. It made him regret that he did not share Ori’s talent at drawing or he would have created a portrait of her for Dori and Ori.
He reached out with his senses at the thought of his brothers, needing to know that they were safe, nor that he was within reach again. The stale scent of a mountain inhabited only by a dragon for so long was quickly fading. Other, more familiar scents were spreading instead. Here in the rooms his brothers had moved into, he could also smell tea, ink and parchment. Part of it came from the teas Dori had made them earlier. Simple, herbal teas, the herbs likely gathered nearby. And yet he could also smell hints of the other teas Dori enjoyed, their smell long since having become part of Dori’s personal scent. The scent of his older brother, his hero when he had been small, the caretaker of their little family after their mother had died and they had been left alone, three bastards with no fathers and no prospects. And yet here they were.
Little Ori, their darling little brother, smelled like the ink and parchment he liked to surround himself all day. He could also hear the scratching of quill on parchment, could hear the different breathing pattern Ori fell into when deeply concentrating. Perhaps he was working on his account of their quest. He knew it was a project that was very important to Ori. And not just because it could serve as his mastery project.
There was another well known heartbeat close by, though not in the apartment nor in the hall outside. Nori smiled slightly. It seemed his little Thoile had found the secret passages throughout the mountain while he had been away. The spymaster’s associates were typically recruited from the common dwarrow while the more influential families liked to send their children to the army or the officials guilds. After the fall of Erebor, many of the high number of orphans had been recruited by Nolir, partially to keep them from having to turn to other means of making a living. He had continued this, trying to find them families or at least offer them a life where they would not have to turn to crime or selling themselves to survive.
Thoile was not just one of his associates, however, he was also training her to be his successor. She was also the closest he likely to ever come to having a daughter.
“The elf, Tauriel, is alright,” Thoile reported quietly, knowing he would be able to hear her. “Óin is taking care of her personally and she is Dís’ guest while in the mountain.” It offered her the best possible protection while relations between dwarrow and elves were still strained. “The dwarrow at the mountain are happy enough at the moment.”
Nori relaxed, his senses stopping from extending further. If she said that there were currently no immediate dangers to his charges, that his territory was safe. He felt Bilbo relax as well, reacting to his own emotions he felt through their casual bond even in his sleep. Nori sighed and finally allowed himself to fall asleep as well.