Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 14

Pulling himself out of his brother's arms, Bofur rose to his feet, heart sinking to the floor.

"Thorin?" the toymaker called as Bombur pulled himself up beside his brother.

"Aye," came the reply, "Now tell me what has befallen my youngest nephew."

Bofur fell back a few steps as Thorin materialised in the door, grey-blue eyes flashing formidably against the dwarfish leader's disheveled appearance. Swallowing the toymaker nervously glanced back at where Kili lay in slumber, twiddling his thumbs all the while. Bombur had all but melted into the shadows in the corner.

"How much do you already know?" Bofur asked with a slight quaver in his voice. Thorin moved to sit beside his nephew, eyes focused on the youth's face but listening intently.

"Just that Kili had a fit of some sort," he replied, reaching up one hand to stroke the brown hair before him, "I suspect you can shed some light on the situation."

"That I can," Bofur replied before lapsing into silence. It took several quiet and controlled breaths as well as a nod from his brother to start the toymaker up again. "It happened when I was changing his bandages," Bofur began, "He woke for a short period of time, but-"

"He woke?" Thorin cried, joy tingeing his voice. Bofur closed his eyes against the dwarf's false hope.

"He did not recognise me," he said bluntly, "And it was not long after that when he started jolting around as though he were possessed."

This time it was Thorin closing his eyes against the spoken words. Bofur watched him for a moment.

"Go on," the dwarfish leader said and the toymaker obeyed.

"Luckily Bombur turned up when he did," Bofur stated casting a grateful glance in his brother's direction, "In any case, he fetched Oin. By the time he arrived the entire thing had finished."

"Do you know what caused it?"

"No," Bofur replied with an apologetic look, "Oin didn't know either, though he guessed it was something to do with Kili's fever rising and the infection that has begun to settle in."

"What?" Thorin rumbled, his hand freezing halfway across his nephew's fevered brow as he turned to stare at Bofur, "Infection? Already?"

"I…I am afraid so," Bofur replied, stumbling slightly over his words. He bit his lip, fingers twitching nervously in the fabric of his tunic as he watched Thorin heave out a large breath and rub both hands down his face.

"Leave me please," the dwarfish leader finally said. Bofur frowned.

"I don't think that is a good idea," he replied, "I was unable to get help when the fit started due to being the only one in the house."

"I am not asking you to leave completely," Thorin stated, "Merely to leave the room so I may have some time alone with my nephew."

After everything the generally stoic dwarf had been through that day and in the past few ones, Bofur could not deny him this one thing.

"Very well," he said, "I will be outside if you need me." Nodding to his brother, the toymaker lead the way out the door.

It was with weary legs that Bofur sank into a chair, head drooping down to his chest as he allowed the events of the day to wash over him and finally drain his strength. He had yet to apologise to Thorin for his failure to keep anything further happening to Kili, but he was too exhausted to follow through with the notion.

"You look like you need some time to yourself," Bombur commented. Bofur started as his pipe appeared beneath his nose.

"T…thanks," he managed to stutter, grabbing the pipe from his brother, "Though I suppose I had better not smoke it in here."

"I think some air would do you good," came Bombur's reply.

The round dwarf grabbed Bofur by the arm and guided him out of the house before allowing the hollowed out toymaker to sink back against the wall. Lighting the pipe, Bombur passed it to his brother before sitting beside him.

Bofur drew in a long breath, inhaling the intoxicating smoke before blowing it back out again in one big whoosh. He sighed into the air wondering how the world could seem so peaceful when Kili was fighting for life only a small way away from him.

The light drizzle of rain only a foot away from where the two brothers sat under the overhang of the house's roof washed everything in grey. It dampened the atmosphere, yet in a light and refreshing way, the constant beat of water falling on the earth around him lulling Bofur into a dreamlike state. His mind emptied and cleared save for the thoughts of the young dwarf he had held so carefully in his arms earlier that day.

"Do you think he is hurting?"

"What?" Bombur asked, turning his head so it faced the toymaker.

"Kili," Bofur said, "Do you think he is hurting? Or do you think he is just merely unable to express his pain?"

"I don't know what to think," Bombur replied slowly, frowning as he spoke, "I suppose it would be best if he could not feel the pain, but for all I know he could. Feel the pain I mean."

"Thorin seems so…distressed by it," Bofur said, "Not that I would blame him. If Kili were my nephew…."

"You seem pretty torn up about the situation regardless," the toymaker's brother commented.

"You should have seen him when Dwalin first brought him in. No, actually I am glad you didn't," Bofur corrected, "It is something I wouldn't wish anyone to see if they did not have to. The amount of blood…that is something I don't think I will be able to forget."

Bombur did not reply, rather staring out into the rain deep in thought. Bofur puffed away on his pipe beside the round dwarf, his trademark hat sliding down his forehead from time to time. The day was growing older with each passing moment, and it was only a little later that Bombur sighed and stood.

"I should be getting back," the ginger dwarf said, "Azania will be wondering where I got to."

"I will see you tomorrow then," Bofur replied lifting his head from where it had dropped against his chest. The toymaker made no move to stand.

"Will you not return to your own home?"

"Nay," Bofur said, "After today I fear to leave Thorin alone in case the same fit strikes Kili again. It is better if there is two of us to care for the lad, one to mind him and one to fetch help if needed."

"I will tell Bifur not to worry then," the toymaker's brother said, "For he no doubt already is."

Bofur nodded and the round dwarf was gone, disappearing into the now ceasing rain. The toymaker sat and watched the world alone a while more before he too got up, putting out his pipe and walking back inside to where a young dwarf lay fading away ever so slowly.


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