Author's Note: I'm really feeling this story. Hopefully you are too. A couple things I forgot to mention before:
1. Ona. I've grown very attached to Ona. She was created when I was listening to Frozen in the car and 'Love Is An Open Door' was playing. Instantly the song reminded me of Frerin. I just could see him meeting some Dwarf who was visiting for some festival or another and deciding to get hitched and Thrain putting the kabosh on it. I happened to find the Dwarf name Ona and thus she was fully developed. Now...I promise the whole Frerin/OC will not be a principal part of the story. In fact it will barely be mentioned. I think it's mentioned once. I just wanted another girl to have around and use and, as stated before, I've gotten very attached to her. She's really just here to help Thorin and be this story's version of Ellie Sattler.
2. The boys would be about the equivalent of 9/10 and 7/8. Give or take.
This chapter was supposed to be longer but I wrote was is now the last line and liked it too much to continue.
Always remember: The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the zipper is the window to the underpants.
The silhouette of the Iron Hills was black against the dark night sky. The rain was just starting to let up, calming from a massive thunderstorm to a steadily lightening drizzle. By the door of the mountain a figure could be seen standing. Thorin Oakenshield was progressively feeling that knot in his stomach tighten. Chances were the rain had slowed down the travel of his nephews to him, possible even stopped them for the night. Didn't mean Thorin couldn't wait up. He had been standing there alone for some time when he felt another presence, "Ona."
She gave him a smile that didn't quite lessen the tension by her eyes, "Still no sign of them?"
Thorin shook his head, "The rain might have slowed them down."
The two friends lapsed into silence and Thorin was grateful for her company. Despite the fact that she and Frerin had never officially even started courting, Ona had become a member of the family. The red-haired Dwarf Woman was even called Aunt by Fili and Kili both. She had proved herself time and time again to be a true friend and she cared as deeply about the boys as Thorin and Dis did.
Ona sighed and sat down, flipping her braid behind her, "Is it wrong that I have this terrible feeling something bad happened?"
Thorin joined her on the ground, "No. It just means you've noticed a theme with our family."
Ona snorted, "Ah yes. The Durin curse."
"I wouldn't call it a curse. Just a run of very, very bad luck. Grateful you didn't marry into the family?"
Ona's eyes dimmed at the thought of Frerin, "No. It would have nice to be a Durin in name."
Thorin touched his shoulder to hers, offering comfort subtly and did his best to channel his brother and lighten the mood, "Can you picture what your children would have been like?"
Ona turned to him, affronted, "Frerin and I would have had beautiful, beautiful babies!"
Thorin gave her a mocking look, "That wouldn't have had an ounce of common sense between them."
Ona stuck her tongue out at him before laughing. Her laughter was infectious and soon Thorin found himself fighting a smile. The air was lightened for a moment before Dain came running down the hall, "Thorin. We have a problem."
The inside of the stables was musky from the heavy rainfall and Thorin could spot a group of Dwarves crowded around the outside entrance. They parted as they approached and Thorin's stomach twisted. Laying on the ground was a horse. It looked like it had been in a violent battle, bite on its flanks bleeding heavily. The beast was struggling for breath. Beside was another horse, this one less injured but severely spooked, prancing in place, eyes white. Dain turned to Thorin, "These were the horses with sent with the wagon."
Thorin's stomach fell to his feet, "Are there any signs of the boys?"
Dain shook his head, "No. No sign of the Dwarves I sent either."
Thorin spun around and headed back into the mountain, Dain at his heels, "Thorin! Thorin! Where are you going?"
Thorin turned to him, "I'm going to get my nephews back."
Dwalin rolled to his feet and peered over the edge of the cliff. The wagon hadn't hit the ground, instead it was hanging precariously in the branches of a very large tree below. The Warg hadn't been so lucky, Dwalin could see it laying still below, most likely dead. Beside him Kili was curled into a ball still screaming. Dwalin swiftly picked him up, "Kili...we need to climb down there and I need you to calm down."
The youngest member of the Durin line's cries softened but didn't stop but Dwalin figured it was progress enough. Glancing around with a curse he realized that his pony had run off during the battle. Not that he could blame the best.
He placed Kili on the ground next to him and reached behind into the pack he carried to extract the one rope he had and tied it off on a rock. He tossed his pack down and watched as it hit the ground and rolled a few feet. In the woods across from them Dwalin could hear the Wargs snarling and howling at one another. He swung Kili onto his back, "Hang on tight."
Kili latched on and Dwalin felt the air rush out of him with an 'oof'. He contemplated telling Kili to let go for a moment before he felt the way the boy was shaking. He slowly grasped the rope and slowly started to descend before he heard Kili cry out, panicked. Dwalin paused his movement and turned his head slightly, "I'm not going to let you fall but we have to get down there. You hold onto me and keep your eyes shut."
He felt Kili nodded against his back and he began his descent again.
Inside the Iron Hills Thorin was finishing with the last of his weapons. Beside him Dain tried his best to reason with him, "I'm not saying you shouldn't go but at least give it some time. They may be on foot."
Thorin rounded on him, "You sent out two of your Dwarves to get my nephews. They haven't returned. I'm going to find them."
In the doorway Ona spoke, fully dressed with her weapons ready, "I'm going with you."
They made their way to the exit of the mountain when Thorin turned to Dain, "Stay here in case they return while we're out."
Dain nodded and looked at Ona, "It really should be me going instead of you."
Ona raised an eyebrow, "Because you're their kin?"
Dain gestured, "No but I'm a-...and you're...well...a-"
Ona cut him off, "We can discuss the fact that I'm a woman when I get back. Just keep an eye out for the boys."
As they left the mountain Thorin turned to Ona, "I really hope we find nothing and when we get back they're already there."
Ona's face was grave, "So do I."
At the base of the drop off Dwalin ran a hand over his face and looked up into the tree, "Fili!"
No response. Dwalin turned to Kili who was starting to sob again, "Kili I need you to stay right here while-"
"He left us! He left us!" Kili sobbed, his tiny body shaking violently.
Dwalin immediately dropped to one knee in front of the boy, "But that's not what I'm going to do. Understand?"
Kili nodded but continued to shake. Dwalin stood, "Now you stay here. I have to go up that tree and help your brother."
He led Kili over to the tree, "Stay right here. I'm going to be right back down with Fili."
Kili nodded frantically and pressed himself as closely as he could to the trunk. Dwalin looked up at the branches of the tree and with a few Khazdul curses began to climb.
Slowly his made his way up the tree before he came to where the wagon was balanced precariously between a few branches. Dwalin sent a quick prayer to Mahal, Aule, and whatever other power there might be that Fili was all right before he lifted the wagon flap, "Fili?'
At first he didn't see anything until he noticed the blonde child curled up in the farthest corner from him. There was no movement and Dwalin felt him stomach twist. He leaned inside, "Fili? Are you all right?"
Fili slowly lifted his head and his eyes were glazed over, "I threw up."
"Oh," Dwalin was at a loss. Children weren't something he understand. Or could handle. He didn't really have a choice at the moment though, "Uh...that's...that's okay. I won't tell anyone you threw up."
Fili didn't move and continued to stare at him with glassy eyes. Dwalin leaned in the wagon farther and it creaked and shifted ominously, "Fili I need you to take my hand."
The boy didn't move and Dwalin tried again, "I'm going to get you out of here but you need to take my hand."
Slowly a scraped and trembling little hand was held out and Dwalin grasped it, "Good. Now I need you to crawl over to me."
Fili nodded and slowly inched him way over. The wagon shifted again and Fili froze with a whimper. Dwalin tugged him toward the exit, "Just keep going. We need to get you down."
Fili nodded and inched over a little bit faster until Dwalin was able to help him climb out onto a branch below. His shoulders slumped in relief and he resolved that he was going to have to do something very nice for a stranger to make up for this particular good fortune. He joined Fili and on the branch and looked him over. The blonde seemed relatively unharmed but very shaken. And currently frozen in fear staring at the ground below, "I have to climb down this?"
Dwalin nodded, "Fili. Look at me."
The blonde did as he was told and his eyes were wide with fear, "I can't climb down this."
Dwalin gave him a stern look, "Yes you can. I'm going to help you. You're going to put one foot-"
"This is impossible," Fili broke in.
"-down at a time. It's not impossible. It's just like being in a treehouse. Didn't your uncle ever build you a tree house?"
Fili was growing panicked, "No."
Dwalin sighed, it was worth a shot, "My father never did either. I going to go down one branch and you're going to follow me."
He made it down a branch below and Fili followed him, breathing hard. Dwalin lowered himself down another branch, "Good. Just like that."
He reached for Fili when a horrible crack sounded from above. Dwalin looked up to see the wagon shift and drop down about a foot. Dwalin looked at Fili's who's eyes were wide, "Oh no."
Fili immediately followed down the branch. Dwalin ushered them along as quickly as he could, "We need to move quickly. That thing isn't going to hold-"
He was cut off by another creak and suddenly the wagon was falling. Dwalin immediately climbed faster, assisting Fili the best he could as the wagon loomed over them. Fili was making little panicked noises as they went down, eyes constantly on the wagon that threatened to crush them. Dwalin reached a safe height to jump and landed on the ground, "Jump Fili!"
Fili leapt into him arms and Dwalin caught him and began running forward just as the wagon hit the ground where they had been standing. They raced forward and the wagon tipped with them. Dwalin threw them to the ground and shielded Fili with his own body and the wagon crashed around them.
For one long moment Dwalin stayed perfectly still. They were alive. That was the main thing. He lifted himself off of Fili who looked up at him, eyes wide, "We're back in the wagon again."
Dwalin sighed, "At least you're out of the tree."
Slowly he extracted himself from the wagon door before guiding Fili out as well. The wagon was upside down and would provide shelter for them until the morning. Dwalin stood and looked Fili over again, "Are you hurt?"
Fili shook his head, "I don't think so."
Dwalin sighed, "Good. Let's get your brother."
He turned toward the tree only to find a distinct lack of Kili.
A soft rumble of thunder sounded in the distance and Thorin cursed. Ona looked over at him from atop her pony, "It's still a ways off. The thunder was quiet and long after the lightening. It shouldn't hit until morning."
Thorin's eyes were as dark and ominous as the clouds themselves, "I just hope we find some trace of them before that."
Dwalin scanned every tree as best he could in his panic. Fili was starting to make distressed noises over the distinct lack of his brother. A noise stopped Dwalin panic and he turned to see the Warg that had tumbled off the drop-off with the wagon. The beast wasn't dead it seemed and was conscious again. Dwalin cursed again for not having noticed it before and stalked over to it. It's legs were shattered but it still made some bone-chilling noises as it snarled up at him. The Dwarf warrior turned to Fili who was looking at it with massive eyes, "Shut your eyes and keep them shut."
Fili did what he was told to and clamped both hands over his eyes as well. Dwalin ended the Wargs life with his ax and the area fell silent. It was then Dwalin heard a few tiny sobs and turned to his right.
Curled up inside a nook of the tree he had been in was Kili, unable to be seen unless you were looking at him. Dwalin sighed again and realized more than one stranger would be getting free work done at the forge to make up for both boys being alive and unharmed.
Dwalin looked at Kili, "You want to come out of there?"
Kili shook his head violently, tiny braids flying and Dwalin sighed. He wasn't about to pull the boy out. He looked around and noticed Fili again, still obediently covering his eyes, "Fili come get your brother out of the tree."
Fili uncovered his eyes and looked up at the branches apprehensively, "I have to go back up?"
Dwalin sighed, "No. No. He's over here."
Fili walked over to where Kili was curled up and sat in front of the nook, slowly coaxing him out. Listening dully to Fili soft murmurs Dwalin surveyed the area. They still had a few more hours of darkness left and Dwalin may not have dealt with children but even he knew they had to sleep. The small forest valley seemed safe enough if he could put together a shelter. His eyes landed on the wagon, still overturned and large enough for both of the boys to sleep under. He glanced back over to the boys where Kili was now clinging to his brother, both crying. He walked the few steps over to them and knelt, "Are either of you hurt?"
They both shook their heads, eyes wide and watery. Dwalin looked over to the wagon, "We're going to sleep until morning and then I'm going to bring you to your uncle at the Iron Hills."
A nod from both but neither spoke. Dwalin stood back up, "You two are going to sleep in the overturned wagon."
He waited expectantly until he reminded himself he was dealing with a pair of distraught children and softened his demeanor the best he could, "Every thing's going to be fine."
Slowly they got to their feet, not losing their grips on one another. They inched over to the wagon and Dwalin lifted one of the flaps, "There should be enough room for you both to lay down."
Fili's voice was hoarse from a mixture of tears, screaming, and exhaustion, "What're we going to sleep on?"
Dwalin looked around searchingly until he saw his bag. He brought it back and withdrew and extra cloak and the bedroll that was attached, "Here. Both of you lay on it and use this for a blanket."
He shoved his bedroll into the wagon opening and Fili climbed in, "Thank you."
A small, scraped up hand emerged and Dwalin handed him the cloak, "We'll start moving in the morning."
Kili stayed where he was, eyes huge. Dwalin looked at him, "You have to get some sleep, Kili."
Kili's voice was soft, "But what if those things come back while we're sleeping?"
Dwalin knelt down again so he was closer to Kili's level, "Then I'll stay up and look out for them."
Kili's voice was hesitant but hopeful, "All night?"
Dwalin nodded, "All night."
Kili's eyes just glowed with gratitude and he clambered into the wagon after his brother. Dwalin settled against the wagon's side and set his gaze on the area around them. A crack of thunder sounded again and Dwalin found himself cursing yet again. It was going to be a long night.