She was a scout, or so Gandalf claimed. As Bofur explained to Bilbo when he asked, they wouldn’t see her much. She would come in at night, report on the way ahead, eat, and go to sleep. Leaving long before the dawn to get a head start. This continued on, until the night the Company found a ruined farmhouse. Gandalf left in a huff, and their scout did not check in. Then the trolls happened, followed shortly after by a mad wizard and a warg chase. The scout was forgotten until they reached Rivendell. Lord Elrond offered them food, and told the Company that they had a brought a wounded woman in. And there she was, their missing and heretofore forgotten scout. She lay in an elvish bed, bruised, missing two fingers, and the left side of her face and head a ruin.
She had been coming to warn them of the trolls, she said, when a warg had ambushed her and taken her horse down atop her. With her legs and sword trapped under the horse, it had gone for her head. She had tried to hold it off, losing her two outermost right fingers. Her screams as the warg’s teeth pierced her left eye and the side of her head had drawn an elvish patrol. They shot the warg and saved her, but it was too late for her face. Elvish healing can only do so much after all. Dwalin would never admit it, but he found her new scars made her unaccountably beautiful to him. His scars had never bothered her, after all.
“Every scar tells a story, Mister Dwalin. Your’s just mean you have survived more than most.”
She did not scout ahead through the mountains, it being deemed too dangerous. She fell through Goblin Town, and she fought her way out, like all the rest. It gave Dwalin an odd tugging in his chest to see her fight so fiercely. The tug only intensified after the fight with Azog and their subsequent flight. It took Dwalin two days of peace at Beorn’s to sort his feelings and realize. In his fear of what her being his One meant, he tried to rationalize to himself that the quest and his king came before all else. He tried to distance himself, but it took the darkness of Mirkwood to break them completely. The forest preyed on their fears, amplified them, played games with their minds. He turned cold to his One, and mean. After the first day, the light died in her eyes and she sharply nodded as though she expected this. She walked away to sit beside Ori. He tried to check on her after the spider fight, but she looked right through him. When they were captured, he asked Bilbo if she had wondered about him. He did not have the heart to ask again.
She sat on the log next to Fili, their backs to the camp. They looked out at the darkness of Mirkwood and sat in silence until she broke it.
“Did i ever tell you i was almost married once?”
Fili looked at her in surprise.
“I was. Engaged and everything. That is, till I learned he already had a wife and child in the next town. He didn’t deny it when I asked. I just turned and walked out, took nothing with me. Left the house and all my possessions and just walked. I suppose I’ve never really stopped since. Never making lasting friends or letting people get close. Oh, sure, i was “friendly” with anybody I traveled with, to make the way easier. But when we eventually parted, I felt no sadness and rarely thought on them after.”
Here she paused and looked at Fili, before looking ahead again.
“Then I met thirteen dwarves and a hobbit. Even a meddlesome old wizard. I started telling them the truth, when they asked me questions, rather than make something up. Even told them my real name, which I had not cared enough to do for years. I started to let them in. like a flower, gently unfurling after a frost, surprised it has survived. I found myself drawn to one dwarf in particular, even actively sought him out to converse with. I started to feel fond of him even, this gruff warrior. Then gradually, a little more than fond. But something changed and he turned on me, grew hard in word and demeanor. And a frost swept through and killed the delicate flower, leaving nothing behind but an empty, desolate waste. The little flower should not have dared to hope, for everybody knows the second frost always hits the harder.”
All the while she spoke, her voice had not risen from its flat, uncaring tone. For all her inflection, they could have been discussing the weather. She stood and patted Fili’s shoulder before leaving to seek her bedroll. He did not see the tears that slowly rolled down her cheeks for the darkness under the trees.
Fili sat all through his watch, and thought on their conversation. He did not know what had caused Dwalin to turn from her, in fact most of them didn’t. One day, they walked and talked, shared stories, just as before. The next, nothing, not even a fight. He wouldn’t look at her or speak of her, she still talked and smiled with the others, but her eyes were dull. She did not hear him, and if he crossed her path, she did not see him. For her, he simply ceased to exist. Dwarves loved Once in all their long years,and Fili suspected after whatever happened, she would never open up enough, trust enough, to love again. After all, it just gave someone more chances to hurt her again. No, Fili thought, even if Dwalin came around and tried to reconcile, he would receive cold politeness, if she acknowledged him at all.
The dragon was dead, Erebor reclaimed. The Battle fought and won, but not without it’s losses. When Thorin had banished the hobbit, she had gone with her friend. Unwilling or unable to remain near Dwalin. She had been in the thick of the fighting in Dale’s ruined streets. Shepherding the helpless, when a troll had collapsed a wall on her and several Lake-Towners. She died before he could tell her she was his One. That he had been scared and that was why he turned from her. That he was sorry for his harsh words. She died never knowing he did love her. He lived never knowing she had loved him still.
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