DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN THE HOBBIT
Bifur knew he was different. Ever since that fateful day when he had collected that axe to the head, he had changed. As far as he knew his road to recovery had felt like he was trying to make a long and tiring journey home. The only problem was he never quite got there. But he got close. And for a long time it was frustrating to be so close to home, to close to going back to familiar things, but unable to attain the desired destination. Then he came to realize that he would never get there. He could never go home, could never feel and think familiar things anymore. And strangely he was not sad anymore. It was like a huge burden had been taken off his shoulders and Bifur began to learn about his new self.
He realized that he liked to talk Khuzdûl and sign with Iglishmek more than he liked to speak the common speech. Why? Because Khuzdûl and Iglishmek were considerably more expressive. So Bifur decided that he would not speak in the common speech anymore. Then he realized that he could sink deep into his thoughts, so deep that it sometimes looked like he was not present in his mind. That was not true. He could hear and see everything that went on around him; it was just that he sank so deep that his body kind of shuts down and turns all its energy to thinking. But Bifur liked that. It gave him a way out when the world began to crowd in on him.
And the world often crowded him. When he saw the looks on people's faces as they noticed the axe in his head. It got crowded. And when his kin tried to hide the brief flashes of pity that they still felt; it got crowded. But the worst times was when Bifur saw two dwarves courting or a married couple. Things got horribly crowded then. He had long given up on finding his One. For what dwarf maiden would love him, when they knew that if they married him they would have to care for him more than normal? And also he would not be able to return affection the way a normal dwarf male would. But the yearning was always there. And when things got too crowded Bifur would get up and walk out into the street and just wander.
He would walk half sunk in thought with his head tilted slightly to the side and down so he could look at people's hands as he passed them. He loved watching people's hands. Everyone's fingers moved almost all the time making subtle motions that gave away what they were thinking of feeling. It was like a universal form of Iglishmek; one which Bifur had come to learn ever since his incident. Then suddenly he saw it. A pair of hands that was not just making random motions that he was putting interpretations to; but hands that was making sure if not crude Iglishmek signs.
He almost stopped to observe it but then lost the hands when the person continued walking. Bifur hurried to find the pair of hands; he thought he had lost it when he saw them again. He began to follow the hands, trying to make sense of the signs.
"Stupid hair. It just makes no sense" was one line he made out. Then
"Threads and reels. Threads and reels. All I want is a knife and a piece of wood." And so on it went as if the person was signing responses to a conversation. But Bifur was sure that the hands were not signing to anyone else, so who was the person talking to?
Suddenly the hands made a weird sign. Bifur frowned. He was sure that was not an Iglishmek sign. The hands made the sign again and Bifur caught on the crude movements and with a flash of inspiration he realized what word the person was trying to sign. With two swift steps he caught up to the hands and took hold of the person's wrist.
A soft gasp sounded in his ears. He looked up to see a pair of angry light brown eyes staring back at him. Then the emotion in the eyes changed to something he did not recognize. He shrugged it off and said softly, "Wrong sign."
"Wrong sign?" a deep melodious voice asked him. Bifur felt a tremor run through his body. He shook that off too.
"Swine eating hog is supposed to look like this," Bifur said and took the hands in his own. As he moved the fingers to shape into the sign Bifur felt strangely calm and settled. It was the same feeling one would get if one had been searching for something precious and had finally found it. He had finished making the sign but he did not want to let go of the hands. He wanted, no he needed to hold onto them.
The voice chuckled and Bifur looked up to see the face a beautiful dwarf maiden smiling at him.
"So that's how you do it?" she said, "I…I don't know much signs. So I sometimes make some up for words I do not know. Could you teach me some more?"
Bifur felt a warmth rush through him as she spoke and settle in his heart. She was his One. He was sure of it. Then as if he got struck he stepped back. His head felt unusually clear and strong. He could not. He could not burden his One with himself. He was not fit for being a mate. As he let go of her hands he felt as if he let go of a lifeline. Then without a grunt that sounded like a sob he turned and made off into the crowd as fast as he could.