Sacred Duty, Bleeding Heart

Chapter 25

There was no feast that night to celebrate Durin’s Day. There was no laughter, no merriment, no drinks and no gifts. Dinner was a quiet, hushed affair, and more than half the seats in Daín’s hall remained unoccupied.

The delegation from Erebor stayed for the funerals the next day and headed home after that to leave the dwarrow in the Iron Hills to their mourning. The weather seemed eager to match the mood, and a cold, grey sky kept up a constant drizzle; leaving nothing remaining dry after a few days.

Out of respect for the dead they didn’t catch up on a celebration for Durin’s in the great halls of the king the next day, but in family gatherings without large feasting and drinking.

The Durin family had gathered in the king’s private quarters where they shared a meal and exchanged their gifts, and after a few hours of nothing but talking and drinking very sparsely, everyone retreated to private halls or chambers, the tiredness from the uncomfortable and exhausting journey reducing the mood to celebrate even more.

After Fili and Ysona had reached their halls where the fire in the hearth was blazing, Ysona looked around with a smile that Fili had never seen before.
He gave her a questioning look, paired with a tiny smile of his own.

“I cannot tell you how I feel,” Ysona said. “It is as if... as if I have had an iron ring around my chest my entire life, and suddenly, it is gone. I know I should share my family’s grief, if not for Glegnar’s death than at least for the termination of the bloodline. But I can feel nothing but relief.”
Fili felt his heart warm at the sight of Ysona’s smile. “You did little but suffer at their hands. I will not think ill of you if you rejoice in your freedom.”

Ysona laughed, a blithe, merry laugh, and embraced Fili firmly. “I cannot thank you enough my prince.”
“For disposing of your brother?” Fili closed his arms around her waist.
“For setting me free.”

Their eyes met, and Ysona’s merry smile suddenly softened. “And now, I have another gift for you.”
“Another gift?” Fili raised his eyebrows. “I am quite content with the fine gift you already gave me.”

Ysona lowered her eyes, yet her smile stayed. Her cheeks were rosy, something Fili had never seen before, and he could not help but think how pretty she looked when her honey-coloured eyes searched his face again.

“I wanted to give you this in private,” she said softly and took one of his hands in hers. “In fact, I’ve had it for some time now, but now, you shall have it.” Her smile was soft and her eyes shone with tender feelings as she placed Fili’s hand on her stomach, below the navel.

At first, Fili failed to comprehend, but when he did, he felt as if the ground had been pulled out from under him. An incredulous, ridiculously happy grin spread on his face despite himself, and he could feel his heart beat faster. He embraced Ysona firmly, and felt a little warmth in his chest, a tiny spark of joy lighting up the darkness he had thought would be eternal.

He leaned back and kissed Ysona’s forehead.

Uzbadnâthaê. Do you know how precious you are to me?”
Ysona placed a hand onto Fili’s cheek. “Enough that you would risk everything to keep me safely at your side, uzbad-dashatê.”

They embraced again and shared a fond kiss before heading to bed. Fili remained awake for some time after Ysona had fallen asleep, and he watched her relaxed and soft face, her eyes covered by long, amber coloured lashes. One of her curls was hanging across her cheek and trembling with every breath she took, and he reached out and gently brushed it back with his forefinger.

His smile had not yet left him, and as he lay there watching his beautiful, pregnant wife sleep peacefully, he realised that there was a small bit of warmth in him, a warmth he had not felt in years.

Maybe he was beginning to heal, after all.


When Fili came back to his halls the next evening he found Ysona sitting at the hearth with a large, white piece of cloth on her lap. The needle in her slender fingers went deftly up and down through the fabric and Fili found himself watching her hands as she worked. He slowly walked towards the hearth and lowered himself into the other chair.

“Good evening, my prince. How was your day?”
“Better than usual.” Fili stretched out his legs and took his pipe and pipe weed pouch from the mantelpiece. “There was not much to do, and I spent half the day in the forge.”
He lit himself a pipe and noticed Ysona’s hands had ceased their needlework.

“In the forge? What would a prince do in the forge?”
He chuckled at her mildly puzzled expression. “I may be a prince, but I am of Durin’s line. We are born with a hammer in our hands.”
Ysona cocked one eyebrow. “That sounds painful.”

They shared a gentle laugh.

“The fact is...” Fili explained as he leaned back into the chair and exhaled a long, drawn out cloud, “...that Durin himself started his life in the forge.”
“I know that legend.” Ysona picked up her needle again continued her work as she spoke. “The winter was so cold that his mother would not leave the forge and he was born while she held on to an anvil.”
“Durin spent most of his life in the forge before becoming king,” Fili went on. “And as much as he could after. So prince or no prince, a son of Durin learns how to master fire and iron and bend them to their will. It makes us strong, and it makes us remember our roots.”

Ysona smiled without taking her eyes off her work. “You sound as if you have memorized these words.”
Fili shifted in his seat. “Truth to be told, I must have heard them so many times during my childhood that I could have said them backwards. But I could never deny the truth in them, as I have always loved the forge, the fires, and even the hard work. I always feel at peace with the rhythm of the hammer and the pumping of the bellows in my ears.” He let a smoke ring rise towards the ceiling with a wistful smile.

When he looked at his wife again he found her looking at him with a smile of her own. “Is it that you would rather be a blacksmith than a king?”
Fili met her eyes. “Sometimes,” he said simply. “And sometimes, I think of the throne that someday will be mine. But at least I can rest assured that as my time allows I will always be able to take solace in the forges.”

Ysona lowered her eyes and picked up the needle again. At her feet stood a basket with several spools of thread, and she picked on, unrolled a length and cut it off with a small, golden pair of shears. Then she deftly threaded the needle before looking at Fili again. “Will you?”
“Thorin learned the craft from his father and grandfather. He told me how he used to stand beside Thror watching him wield a hammer he could hardly lift himself. It’s more than a family tradition. It’s in our blood.”

Ysona concentrated on folding the hem as she came to a corner. “I have not seen the forges of Erebor yet.”
Fili leaned forward. “You haven’t?”
She shook her head and turned the fabric around, then held it up to inspect her work.
“Do you want to?”
She looked past the rectangular cloth and smiled. “I’d love to, my prince. Especially since you seem so fond of the place.”
Fili smiled and leaned back, watching Ysona handle her needle and thread.

“And what is it you are working on? I thought the needlework is done in the women’s halls because of the better lighting?”
Ysona ran the needle loosely into the fabric and looked up. “All the clothing and other sewing is done there, yes. But this is my private task.” She held up the piece again and smiled softly. “It is a blanket.”
Fili frowned. “A very small blanket.”
Still smiling, Ysona rolled her eyes. “Yes, of course. For a very small person.”

Fili’s hand holding his pipe froze halfway to his mouth. Then he laughed. “Forgive me for being as thick as a short plank sometimes.”
Ysona joined him and her eyes sparkled. “Forgiven. So this blanket I am making? It is the one he shall be wrapped in once he is born. The cloth if a very fine wool, it was part of my dowry, and meant for making baby clothing. And even if I receive a lot of gifts for him, his very first blanket is to be made by the mother’s hand alone.”

“I didn’t know that,” Fili said in a low voice.
“These are women’s matters.” Ysona shrugged. “What concern of yours would his blanket be?”
“His?” He cocked his head with a smile.
Ysona blushed. “I would very much like to give you a son, my prince.”
Fili felt his smile widen. “Please do not be disappointed if it should be a girl. I will be just as happy having a beautiful little princess. And if so, we will just have to try again.”
Ysona’s blush deepened, but she was still smiling.

“So,” Fili said after a moment, the smile still in place. “Should I take you to the forges tomorrow?”
“I would love to, my prince.”
“Then that is settled. Tomorrow, I will show you the forges of Erebor, the birthplace of Durin himself.”


To Ysona’s and Dís’ surprise – she had told the Emerald Princess of Fili’s intention of showing her the forges – it was not Fili but his brother who came to fetch her from the Queen’s halls the next afternoon.
He offered Ysona his arm and they made their way through the halls and galleries of Erebor, heading ever downward and deeper into the mountain for the forges.

“Kili,” Ysona said after a while. “I had no chance yet to give you my thanks.”
Kili looked at her and tilted his head. “Don’t speak of it. Just as my brother, I did what had to be done.”
“You still risked a lot.”
“I would have risked a lot more, and Fili too, had we been forced to come up with our own plan. The ambush by orcs was the best that could have happened.”Kili reached over with his free hand to par hers. “Stop worrying and try to put it behind you.”
“I will try,” Ysona gave back.

They heard the forges long before they reached them: the thundering of the bellows, the hissing of steam and the song of hammers ringing on metal.

Then they began to feel the heat, and it became more and more oppressive as the sound became louder and all-pervading.

There were dozens of workers in the forges, standing at anvils, shovelling coal, loading wheelbarrows with dross and carrying water.

Looking at the giant furnaces, Ysona froze for a moment. She had known the forges of the Iron Hills, but these majestic contraptions surmounted everything she could have imagined. The noise and the heat forgotten, she looked around, wide-eyed and fascinated.
Kili enjoyed the look on her face and the tingle of pride he felt every time he accompanied someone to the forges who had not seen them before. Then he took her arm again and tugged. “This way, princess.”

They walked past a group of workers clearing a furnace of slag and ash and Kili extended a hand. “Over there.”
At first, due to the dim light, Ysona only saw another blacksmith standing at the anvil and wielding a large hammer while holding the glowing piece of iron with tongs. He was bare-chested under the heavy leather apron and she could see strong muscles flexing as he brought the hammer down. His hair was tied back into a ponytail.

It was first when he looked up at her and Kili and she saw the beads in his braided moustache that she recognised him. She stared, and Kili had to suppress a chuckle.

When Fili finally noticed them standing there, he lowered the hammer and looked up, to find his brother and his wife watching him work, the latter staring at him with wide eyes and half-parted lips. He smiled, and his smile widened into a small, slightly playful grin when he noticed Ysona’s facial expression.

Ysona noticed that smile and realised what she was doing. The blush was so bright that it was visible even in the dim, red light of the forges. Fili plunged the iron in the bucket of water beside him and when the steam had settled, he set the hammer down and sauntered over.

“Welcome to the forges of Erebor, my princess.”

Ysona swallowed and managed a feeble smile. “This is even more impressive than I could ever have imagined.”

Fili gave her a smile full of pride. “They are magnificent. Now why don’t I show you around?”

“I’ll leave you to it, brother.” Kili lifted his hand. “Dwalin wanted me in the training court later and I don’t want him upset before we even started.”
“Then you’d better get going,” Fili said and nodded. “Thank you.”

Kili turned around and left them, and once he was out of sight, Fili turned to his wife. “My princess?”
Ysona laid a hand on his bare, sweaty arm, and the two exchanged a small smile.


Fili was approached by his brother at the morning meal a few days later.

“Fili!”
“Good morning, brother.”
Kili sat down beside him. “I just wanted to ask about Ysona. She hasn’t been to breakfast ever since we came back from the Iron Hills.”
Fili could do nothing to stop the smile that spread on his face. “The poor dear doesn’t feel too good in the morning these days.”
“And why would her being ill be a reason for you to grin like a half-wit?”
“Because she is not ill,” Fili said after a chuckle. “She is with child.”

Kili’s eyes widened, and with a huge grin spreading on his face, he pulled his brother up and into an embrace. They shared a hearty laugh, and Kili slapped his brother’s back.

“As much as I enjoy seeing you in a good mood I would ask you to refrain from creating such a ruckus during breakfast!” Thorin called out at them.
“Uncle!” Kili grinned with flashing teeth.
“What is it?” Thorin began to frown.
“No!” Kili exchanged a look with his brother and both of them grinned again. “Not you, me! I’m going to be uncle! Uncle Kili!”

For a second, the hall was silent, then Dís squealed like a girl and jumped up from her chair to hurry to her son and embrace him. Moments later, Fili was completely overwhelmed with a flood of blessings and congratulations.

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