Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 17

Dwalin was frozen in the doorway. It only took a glance from Thorin to invite the warrior in. The tattooed dwarf tentatively took his place beside the dwarfish leader.

"His fever seems to be down," he said. Oin frowned and swiped one hand over his head.

"No, he still has a temperature," the healer replied, "A high one too."

"Then why-?"

"How long since he last drank?" Oin asked, cutting Dwalin off. Thorin gave a shrug of his shoulders before turning his gaze to the warrior beside him.

"Sometime before we caught sight of the deer," the tattooed dwarf answered. Oin frowned and felt the youth's head again.

"And that was…?" the healer prompted. Dwalin did not hesitate to answer.

"Around three days," he said. Now Thorin was frowning too, in both confusion and concern. Oin closed his eyes for a moment as he pulled a bandage tight around one of his patient's arms.

"We need to get some water into him," came the healer's final evaluation, "Thorin, if you would be so kind as to fetch me some."

The dwarfish leader nodded and exited the room with one last glance towards his nephew. Dwalin watched the heels of his boots disappear around a corner before turning to Oin.

"Do you think he will make it?"

The half deaf dwarf did not seem to have heard him and Dwalin could not bring himself to repeat the question again. Instead he leaned back against the wall, nodding to Thorin as the dark haired dwarf re-entered with a cup of water.

"Give that here," Oin said, stretching out one hand as he finished rewinding fresh bandages around Kili's chest, "Lift his head."

Dwalin made to swoop in, but Thorin got there first, tenderly raising his nephew's head. Dwalin fell back against the wall as Oin delicately opened Kili's mouth and tipped a small amount of water in. The healer then allowed the youth's mouth to fall shut, waiting for the lad to swallow. It took only a few moments before he did.

That's a relief.

Dwalin hadn't realise he had been holding his breath.

"He needs to wake," Thorin said, his voice soft enough to be heard only by the dwarf at his side.

Dwalin closed his eyes, unsure of what to say. He couldn't reply with an encouraging 'he will' in the case Kili actually would not wake, but the bald warrior also couldn't say as much, not when his friend already seemed so crushed.

For a while, the only sound in the room was that of swallowing and breathing, the only signs that Kili was still with them at all. Eventually the swallowing silenced as the cup in Oin's hand was finally emptied.

"Now to take a look at his arms," Dwalin heard the healer mutter to himself, the dwarf clearly tired from running around between patients.

"I need to speak to you," Dwalin said as he turned to Thorin beside him. The dwarfish leader tore his gaze away from his nephew and looked up at the taller dwarf before nodding. The two made their way to the front of the fireplace across from the table. Dwalin leaned against its stony wall as Thorin sank into a chair before him.

"What is it?" the dark haired dwarf asked wearily.

"The dwarf's who were injured in the attack," the warrior began. His leader looked at him with detached eyes, his mouth set in a grim line.

"What of them?"

"Uric's dead. Oin believes Darien will not survive his wounds either," Dwalin said, the words tasting foul and bitter on his tongue.

"Reade?" Thorin asked hesitantly as if he were afraid of more bad news. Dwalin twitched the corner of his mouth.

"He will live to cause more trouble later on," the warrior replied.

"At least that is one piece of good news for today," Thorin said, combing his fingers through his hair, "Truth be told I wasn't expecting it."

"Then prepare yourself for more," a voice behind the dwarfish leader said, "For I have some to give."

"Kili?" Thorin cried, knocking his chair over in his haste to stand. Dwalin too straightened in anticipation only to slouch back down as Oin shook his head softly.

"I am afraid he is still unconscious," the healer said.

"Then what is that you want-"

"The infection on his arm seems to have been caught in time," Oin cut in, ignoring the vicious tone Thorin had been using a moment before. Dwalin raised one eyebrow.

"What do you mean caught in time?" he asked. Oin shot him a small smile.

"I mean it has not gotten worse since I last saw it," he said, "The paste I put on it seems to have done its work."

"It's gone?" Thorin asked in disbelief.

"It is beginning to fade," Oin corrected, "But it won't be completely gone for several days. As such, it cans still-"

"Can't we just leave it at that it is fading?" Dwalin asked, glancing at Thorin as he did so. Oin followed his gaze before nodding his head.

"Very well," the healer said softly.

A stretch of silence began, the three dwarves facing each other deep in their own thoughts. After a while Oin opened his mouth to speak.

"I should be getting back to my patient," he said offhandedly, moving back towards the door from which he had come.

Dwalin followed the healer, Thorin taking a moment to move before coming in close behind. Closing his eyes, the tattooed dwarf sent a quick prayer up to the heavens in hope that they would hear him and allow fate to smile upon the youngest of the line of Durin. He had only just begun to think the words, however, when a light touch at his elbow startled him back into the present.

"And in answer to your earlier question," Oin said softly, "I believe he will pull through."


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