Chapter 21: The Incident
Kili is nowhere to be found.
They have left me here, alone in Rivendell...
The Dwarves are gone.
Almost instinctively, I find myself heading out of the dormitory with my bag over my shoulder, hand nervously in my hair as I navigate my way out of the Elven halls. I ask one of the drifting Elf-maids where my friends have gone, and she confirms that they left half an hour ago. I thank her and manage to find my way to the front entrance, slipping past a platoon of armour-clad Elves as I go, and head down the steps and towards the open road. I don't know where I'm going, really. All I know is that there is no way on God's Earth that I'm going to stay here with a bunch of too-attractive, oddly awkward Elves when there's a group of Dwarves out there. How could they leave me? I don't know whether to be angry or to just cry.
There is a paddock at the front of the Elven hall containing three horses; far too big for me to mount, never mind ride, but there is no way I'll be able to catch up with the group on foot; by the fact that there are no longer any ponies in the paddock, I assume that the Elves have provided the group with transport.
"Hey, Elf-horse," I say to the nearest creature, a white mare, carefully stroking her huge mane, "could you do me a huge favour and get me out of here?"
The horse bows her head, and I frown. Now I'm talking to a horse. Maybe I am just going crazy.
With a sudden burst of divine inspiration, I plunge my hand into the bag and pull out one of the red apples. "Horses like apples, right? You get me out of here, Elf-horse, and you can have all the apples in Erebor."
As if she understands, the mare heads towards the fence; gratefully I clamor up its side and pull myself atop the saddle.
"Okay, girl... or boy, whatever you are... let's get out of here. Now, I have no idea how to ride a horse, so you're gonna have to work with me here."
I voice from behind me calls my name (well, my middle name), and I scarcely turn my head. It's Lord Elrond's little bitch-Elf, the one with the long dark hair and the fancy robe. I turn to him and throw him a quick smile as he descends the steps after me.
"Can't talk, gotta run!" I call over my shoulder, waving my hand, "thanks for the hospitality and the bread and the- uh- the horse! I'll bring her back, I swear! Goodboo- I mean, goodbye- fair Elf!"
With that the horse takes off without my instruction, faster than I thought a horse could, and I cling to her saddle for dear life.
Taking off in the wrong direction.
"No!" I yell at the speeding horse, tugging on the reins as she leads me down the opposite path to the one the Dwarves and I were taking, "no, not this way, that way-!"
The stubborn mare is having none of it. She tears down the path for a long while, whinnying every now and then, her hooves slapping hard against the cobbled terrain as it begins to rain heavily. I regret wearing the sleeveless Elven dress as the water hammers down hard on my arms, spitting at them until they flare bright red from the cold. I lean down closer against the warmth of the mare's broad back, wondering how on Earth I am supposed to find the company now and where the horse is taking me.
Eventually the beast comes to a standstill at the side of a rapid river. I peer up over her strong shoulders, eyes squinting against the rain, and realise with a loud screeching 'eh!' that the horse has, in fact, brought me to my destination; barely fifty meters ahead of us the company can be seen, hoods pulled low over their heads to accommodate the assaulting rain. Kili rides at the back, his blue hood billowing in the harsh wind.
"Oh, good horse, good horse!" I sing, sitting up straight; I open my mouth wide and cry in a hoarse voice to the final rider,
He veers around, his pony whinnying; a few of the others hear me and turn around, as well. I wave my hands high and see an involuntary grin spread across Kili's face.
"Wait!" I yell after them, "wait!"
Kili stops at the edge of the river and rears his pony around further to face me; the creature loses its footing. It shrieks in horror as its hooves slip on the wet rock, and it falls into the rampaging stream, dragging Kili down with it.
"Kili!" I scream as he disappears beneath the water; I yell for the white horse to ride onwards in panic, clipping her sides and pulling at her reigns, but she refuses to move. In a panic I try to escape the height of her back, and end up falling from her. I scrabble quickly to my feet, a searing pain stabbing at my leg, and run as best I can towards the company of Dwarves. I trip over the long velvet dress more than once, running alongside the river to try and catch up with the group- the rapids carry Kili upstream, the Dwarves chasing after him on their own ponies. Dori's loses its footing and spins off the road, spread-eagled; he leaves the fallen beast and chases the others up the soaked path. Kili, only his arms above water, fights against the churning rapids; he manages to grab hold of a rock and the others catch up with him. Fili dismounts his pony and runs at the stream; Thorin reels his horse around to stop him, but Fili dives in head-first all the same.
"I'm coming, Ki-!"
"Fili, no!" Thorin roars after him as Fili fights against the rapids to reach his younger brother. He manages to make it to the rock that Kili is barely clinging to, his head lost beneath the water as he chokes. Fili hauls the boy up so that his forid lies against the top of the sharp stone, slicing into the young Dwarf's head. Realizing that there is no way he will be able to pull the weakened Kili along with himself to the river's edge, Thorin rushes to the river and helps his older nephew drag the younger. Dwalin and Oin pull the trio back to the surface, shaking with cold and spluttering, just as I come up alongside them.
"Oh my God," I pant, falling to my knees beside Kili as he lies unconscious on the ground, "is he okay-?!"
"Does he look to be okay?!" Thorin roars, batting me away and lifting Kili up by the shoulders, "you've killed him-!"
"Out of the way, out of the way!" Oin barks, ushering the leader of the company aside and taking hold of Kili's limp body, "I brought the boy forth into the world, and by the beard of Durin himself, I shall not live to see him leave it! He needs ointment- Ori, fetch my satchel-"
"He needs to be resuscitated!" I cry, fighting for space beside Kili, "ointment isn't going to get the water out of his lungs-"
Whoever thought that one lesson of First Aid training back in high school would ever be any use? It's a bloody good job I was paying attention; that, a brief peruse through a first-aid manual and some television adverts equip me with the bare bones of the knowledge I need to at least attempt resuscitation. I grab Kili's face and turn him to the side, smacking his back quickly so that a pool of water bursts from his blue-tinged lips. I check his breathing, judge it to be too faint and grab his stubbled face with my hand, squeeze his cheeks, pinch his nose and clasp my mouth over his own.
One, two, three, four, five,
One two, three, four-
"What are you doing?!" Thorin roars, grabbing me by the back of my shirt and pulling me away- I bat him off and roar,
"He needs CPR, you bloody idiot! Let me go, Thorin-!"
"He needs what?!"
"CPR- Cardio-somethingy-Resuscitation, now get off me and let me help him, for God's sake!"
His pulse is barely there when I check his limp wrist. I pump my interlocked hands against his soaked chest five times before remembering a tip that I saw on TV once and straightening my elbows. I take a deep breath and change the rhythm with which I palpate Kili's chest.
"Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a woman's man, no time to talk-"
"Now she is singing-?!"
"It was on an advert!" I snap, refusing to elaborate. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive- come on, Kili, for God's sake, stay alive-!"
Kili gasps aloud, and the shock of his immediate resuscitation almost scares the life clear out of me. I cheer along with the others as his arms grasp wildly for someone; one hand grabs my forearm, and the other Fili's thigh. Fili gathers his disorientated, gasping baby brother up into his arms and laughs into his shoulder, tears pricking his sparkling blue eyes. Kili immediately pushes him away and vomits ungracefully into the rapidly-flowing river. Wiping his mouth, he falls back against his brother. Fili holds him with his back against his own chest, rocking him carefully as Kili the younger Dwarf gasps for air.
"It's alright, Kili," Fili tells him, "you're okay, we're all okay."
"Where's- the pony, my pony-?"
"Lost to the rapids," Dwalin decrees. "It was you or the horse, lad."
Kili frowns. "I was... what happened?"
"She happened," Thorin barks angrily, and I realize that, even after saving his nephew's life (a feeling which is pretty damn amazing, I might add), the rightful heir to the Dwarven throne still hates my guts. I turn to him, arms held to the sky and declare,
"Go ahead, master Oakenshield. Throw a bitch-fit."
Before he has the chance Kili looks at me, eyes squinting. "You... you came back? W... why?"
"You all left me," I declare, "you can't get rid of me that easily; why did you all leave without me? Without even saying goodbye? I mean, I know I haven't known any of you long, but... well."
The group exchange looks half way between confusion and bewilderment.
"Well you were supposed to be staying with the Elves in Rivendell, Miss Lavender," Bofur says eventually, "there seemed no point in waking you."
"I don't want to stay with the bloody Elves!" I say, shivering to my feet; the look of confusion heightens. Kili purses his lips, still breathless, and addresses his uncle.
"You said the plan was for Lavender to stay in Rivendell all along."
Thorin turns his back on his nephew. "It was," he says in his low drawl.
"Well, nobody told me about the plan!" I shriek, breathless and heaving. "Thanks for the heads-up on that one, sire."
"You..." Kili begins, sitting up a little more in Fili's arms now, "...you said she knew."
Thorin turns to him with a frown. "I did not need your whining over the girl to accompany us on the road... I thought you might come a little easier if you thought she had planned to stay there; and I was right, was I not?"
Fili, too, looks offended; the others stand in silence.
"Then why did you let her come in the first place?!" Kili wheezes from Fili's arms, trying his best to sit up again, "why did you allow her along if you were only going to send her away-!?"
"She was never supposed to make it past Rivendell," Thorin decrees, "the Wizard and I discussed it the night she appeared. He told me that she is something of an anomaly, that there is some strange magic about her. The Wizard wanted to take her to the Elves, as they would know what to do with her; I agreed that she could journey with us as we would be traveling in that direction regardless, and it was decided that he would take the girl to the Elves when the time was right and meet with us in the mountains. I did not think his plan would be to lead us into the valley of Imaldris, with her; I allowed her to accompany us this far as a favour to the Wizard. That's all she is, all she ever was... a favour."
"'Favour?!'" I yelp, offended by his choice of words, "who are you calling a 'favour-?!'"
"We have a cook," Thorin declares, "Bombur would have been perfectly able of dealing with food preparation alone. Do you really think I would have allowed someone like you, with no weapons training and no fighting skill, to come along on this venture?! You are a liability-!"
"No," Kili says, shaking his head, and Bofur intrudes,
"In all fairness, she did just save the boy's life."
"Oin would have done that without any interference from foreign means," Thorin decrees. I laugh unintentionally and say before I can stop myself,
"No thank you, then?!"
Thorin glares at me, his cold blue eyes piercing my damp skin. "Do not try my patience," he barks, waving a dismissive hand in my general direction.
"I'll try more than your bloody patience, Thorin Oakenshield!" I screech, and he raises a hand to silence me.
"You will go back to the valley," he tells me firmly, then directs his attention to Kili. "And you will go home."
Kili cannot find words; Fili provides them for him.
"Home?!" the older brother barks, "you're sending him back to Ered Luin-?!"
"you can't send him away!" I bark at Thorin, "me, fair enough, I'm flipping useless, but can't you see how much Kili is trying to impress you?!"
Thorin ignores me, turning to Fili. "Try and see sense, son. He cannot travel in this state. Your brother is reckless, his survival so far has been purely chance-"
"Kili has been skilled with a bow since before he could toddle," Fili defends, holding his brother close as he splutters in his arms, "he has proven himself time and time again, and you would send him away on a whim-?!"
"This is no whim," Thorin corrects his elder nephew, "your mother was weary of his joining us, and she was right. I have had my reservations since the beginning-"
"Mother worries about both of us."
"Of course she does. Dis is-"
"Would you send me away, too, because she worries-?!"
"You are not your brother," Thorin snaps at him, "you are a King, Fili, and always have been. Your brother..."
Thorin pauses, looks away, unable to hold the pained gaze of either of his nephews.
"...He is not."
It is clear by Kili's contorted expression that the words have dug deeper than any knife could have.
"But... Uncle, I-"
"Enough," Thorin says in a dry tone, and bows his head hopelessly. "Go home, Kili... just go home."
Fili sucks in his lower lip, brows contorted as he watches his uncle. "I won't go on without him," the blond says bluntly. "If you send Kili away, you're sending me away, too."
"Fili, don't be absurd. There is no reason for-"
"I go where my brother goes." With a bitterness I would never have expected from Fili he bites, "that's what family do; stay together."
Thorin rolls his jaw as though he is about to answer back, but restrains himself. Instead he quips,
"So be it."
He turns to the rest of the company, who stand in utter silence, unsure of what to say or do.
"Move, all of you."
"You're angry," I say, trying my hardest to control my own voice, "and you're scared, worried about them; they're you're family, I understand that. But Kili's fine, he can still travel; can't you, Ki-?"
"You know nothing of this," Thorin practically growls; I stare at him hopelessly before looking to his nephews, Kili looking wounded beyond the exhaustion of his semi-drowning, Fili seething with silent rage.
"Thorin," Balin tries through the quiet, "there is no need for this-"
"Yes, there is. Durin's day is fast approaching, and time is ahead of us... we go, now."
"I'll hear no more of it!" the Dwarven prince declares, irate and more stubborn than ever, "I have made my decision, and he has made his. Let us both stick by them." He turns to his nephews then and says, "I shall see the both of you when this is over."
Kili shouts after his uncle from Fili's arms, but he is still too exhausted to stand; I stand stricken in the spitting rain, watching as the company of Dwarves and the bewildered Hobbit begin to walk away reluctantly. Bofur claps the two boys and myself on the shoulder and apologizes, trying despite all odds to remain optimistic. The others do the same as Thorin charges ahead of them, mounting his pony once more. Once they are gone, we are left with only silence.
"Help me get him to his feet," Fili says to me eventually, his voice devoid of all emotion. I do so, and we help Kili up onto Fili's pony; I look around to find the Elven horse is already gone.
"Hold on to him," Fili tells me, kneeling a little and allowing me to use his thigh as a stepping stone up to the pony's back. I do so and fuss over Kili as he sits slumped on the pony; I put my hand to his shoulder and ask,
"Ki, how's your chest-?"
"I'm fine," he says sharply, shrugging me away and bowing down again, shivering against the cold. Fili takes hold of the reigns and clicks the beast onwards. The three of us begin the journey back down the road in the pouring rain, silent and disheartened.
AN: Thorin, y u do dis?
Can we all take a moment to vegetate over the act that this story has 300 reviews? I just... potato! Wow! Thank you so much, you beautiful squids!