Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 18

Bofur was smoking his pipe as though his life depended on it. Images of blood, screaming and a ginormous bear continued to ravage through his mind.

Breath, just breath, Bofur instructed himself, taking in a mouthful of air and smoke. He blew out a circle, giving a slight cough as the wind blew the smoke back in his face. It was almost never as good when inhaled a second time.

The shrill call of a bird sounded overhead, piercing the rare silence that Bofur had let fall around himself. It was a welcome sound, something other than what was going on inside his head. Simple, normal, beautiful. Everything life had been before it had gotten complicated, before Thorin's nephew had been attacked by a bear.

That was the funny thing about nature, it could be so deceptive, so contrasting between good and bad that it actually wasn't that funny at all. How could things as innocent as a bird exist in a world where there were ferocious killers like bears? It was so totally unthinkable that Bofur let out a lose chortle of insanity.

"It cannot get any more twisted than that," the toymaker said to himself in a sick glee.

"Any more twisted than what?"

Bofur breathed out another mouthful of smoke and looked in the direction of the voice. It was Dwalin.

"…hurry or we'll lose him."

The toymaker shook the thought from his head. No more, he thought sternly, I will think of this no more.

"Bofur?"

"Never mind," the toymaker finally answered, "It's nothing." The warrior above him shifted the weight on his legs.

"He drunk the water Oin gave him." The words were said with an almost tentative air as though the tattooed dwarf was unsure whether the news would be accepted.

"That's a good sign," Bofur replied. He could feel Dwalin tense up behind him, but after a moment the bald dwarf decided to walk back inside. Bofur leaned his head into his hands.

The toymaker was torn between staying outside and returning to the room that Kili laid in to see how the lad was doing. Durin knows he wanted to see the young dwarf for himself, but the memories of the bloody night only three days before assaulted him with any small reminder.

What should I do?

Above him, the bird from before let out a shrill call.

"Aye, I suppose you are right," Bofur commented, allowing a small smile to grace his face. The toymaker took one last puff from his pipe before snuffing it out and placing the instrument back in his pocket. With a sigh he got to his feet and walked through the door and into the house.

Thorin acknowledged Bofur with a small nod as Dwalin moved aside to allow the dwarf past him. Moving to stand beside Oin, the toymaker looked down at Kili sadly. His eyes traced the young lad's body from the start of the bandages at his lower chest, up his arms to both his shoulders. The dwarf's eyes then alighted on Kili's face, drawn in what seemed like pain.

Bofur blinked.

"Oin...Oin!" the toymaker called, drawing the attention of four pairs of eyes. Crouching down beside the bed, Bofur allowed a large grin to break out across his face. "He's awake."

"Kili…?" Bofur heard Thorin breath behind him as Dwalin inhaled sharply by the door. Kili turned the gaze of his glinting brown eyes to his uncle, eyelids threating to shut close even as Oin rushed over with his hands full.

"Kili, can you hear me?" the healer asked as he turned the youth's head so the dark brown eyes were facing him, "Blink twice if you can." It was too late, however, for Kili had already fallen back into the depths of slumber.

Bofur stood, his eyes meeting those of Dwalin's, the two exchanging a relieved look though the warrior's gaze seemed to hold another degree of an implacable emotion. The toymaker made way for Thorin as the latter collapsed to his knees beside his now unconscious nephew. A wary joy was stretched across the dwarfish leader's face, as if he could not yet place full hope in the fact that his nephew had actually awoken.

"He will sleep for a while no doubt," Oin said as he pulled the cork from a bottle and held it to Kili's lips allowing the liquid from within to drip into the youth's mouth. Once he was done he stood and gathered his possessions. "I have given him something to dull the pain should he wake again, but I would suspect he will not until sometime tomorrow," the healer continued, "As such, I must be getting back to my other patients for there is not much more I can do here, but should anything change fetch me immediately."

"I will walk with you," Bofur said, "I have been away from my store too long." It was true for the toymaker could not remember setting foot inside his store since Dwalin had rode up with Kili.

No, I promised myself I was not going to remember that, the dwarf berated himself. He reverted his attention back to the present in time to follow Oin out the bedroom door.

Stepping outside for the second time that day, Bofur breathed in the air around him and fingered the pipe at his side. He wondered whether Bifur had managed the shop at all while he had been away. A cough behind him made the toymaker turn around.

"What are you doing out here?" Bofur asked the warrior. Dwalin shrugged.

"I thought it would be best to leave Thorin alone with his nephew for a few moments," he said. Bofur frowned. There was something wrong with the tattooed dwarf's tone of voice.

"For such a happy incident you don't seem very relieved," Bofur commented not harshly, but not gently either. Across from him Dwalin sighed.

"I am relieved that Kili has woken," the dwarf began.

"But?" Bofur cut in, his eyebrows one dark smudge on his forehead.

"But I am afraid of what Kili will say when he wakes fully," the warrior finished, disheartened.

Bofur stared at him for a moment, mind wiped completely blank by surprise.

"What do you mean?" he asked. Dwalin looked down at his feet, seemingly struggling with whether or not to tell the toymaker what was on his mind. The warrior's mouth seemed to win out, however, and it was as such that he opened it again.

"Thorin may have forgiven me for my lapse in ability to look after his nephew-"

"But you're not sure Kili will," Bofur finished, catching on. The toymaker gave a reassuring smile to the taller dwarf. "You've got nothing to worry about," he said in an almost soothing tone, "The lad will understand it was an accident."

The toymaker clapped the warrior awkwardly on the back, reaching up from his smaller height. He then turned and walked down the path from the house with a bounce in his step before disappearing around the corner of another building. Dwalin watched him go with a troubled gaze.

I can only hope he will.


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