Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 20

Dwalin gritted his teeth as he swung the hammer yet again, crashing the instrument into the metal in front of him with an almighty bang. The whole world was against him, he was sure of it. The world and the gods, both of whom seemed to take particular joy in causing him the uttermost grief.

Bang.

The bear attack had shattered his confidence, namely his confidence in his ability to keep those of the line of Durin safe. The incident with Thorin and the orcs only served to deepen this feeling as well as the guilt he felt over the entire situation.

Bang.

To worsen his feelings of self doubt and guilt, one more of his men had died in Oin's care from the wounds the orcs had given him. It was a death that had been completely unexpected as well, Oin's words telling him that it would only be a matter of weeks before Reade was up and about again haunting the warrior's mind. It was now obvious the words had been blatant lies, even to the healer who had spoken them. To add insult to injury, the same healer had no idea why Reade had died so suddenly. They were all befuddled by the fact that the dwarf had been doing so well and had just suddenly…died.

Bang.

Reade's family had not been pleased to hear the news, news of which had been delivered by Dwalin. His mother had screamed at him. His father had blamed him. His three brothers had all turned their shoulders in cold anger. Reade's wife had been the worst, wailing and screaming and ripping her own hair out in handfuls. It had taken all of her family to restrain and calm her down.

Bang.

The worst part was Fili and Dis were back from their journey. Dwalin had no idea how they would react to the news that Kili had almost been killed by a bear under his watch.

Bang.

No, that was wrong. The warrior knew how they were going to react. Angry, scornful, looking for someone to blame, and that someone would be him and rightly so, but however right and just their reactions would be, Dwalin could not bring himself to face them just yet. That was why he was at the forge mutilating the metal before him instead of at the house where he could gain news of Kili's condition and if he had awoken again.

Bang.

Kili.

Bang.

He was the other reason why Dwalin was avoiding the house for the warrior knew that the young brunette would only, could only blame him for what had happened.

Bang.

"There's someone here to see you," a dwarf called from beside him causing Dwalin to halt the downward fall of the hammer in his hand.

"Who?" he grunted, taking the opportunity to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

"Dis, the sister of Thorin Oakenshield," came the reply.

"I know who she is," Dwalin snapped even as his mind began to flail around for an escape, "Tell her I am busy."

"She is insistent," the other dwarf said. Dwalin had to close his eyes and breath in deeply a few times to stop him from strangling the dwarf. His problems were not the other's fault.

"Fine," he managed to grind out. The dwarf before him nodded and darted away to fetch his visitor.

Dwalin swallowed in anticipation, his mouth suddenly going dry.

The tattooed dwarf could only imagine the things that Dis would say, the things that she would scream at him about his failure to protect her youngest child for Kili was still only a child. Dwalin wasn't sure that anything could prepare him for the torrent of verbal abuse that would no doubt be hurled his way. He allowed his body to relax completely, arms falling limp at his sides as he tried to reinforce his mind, and so it was that the burly warrior was immensely surprised when instead of a flood of words, a flood of hair and flesh struck him instead.

"Thank you, thank you," was all Dis seemed able to say as she sobbed into the taller dwarf's tunic. Dwalin himself was speechless.

Awkwardly the bald dwarf patted Dis on the shoulder, neither pulling away or drawing closer to the female dwarf. Over the top of the raven head before him, Dwalin glared at the rest of the dwarves who had ceased their work in order to view the spectacle. Those on the receiving end of the warrior's glare immediately ducked their heads and continued with their work, ears still pricked for what might be said.

"What are you doing here?" Dwalin asked Dis. The female dwarf pulled back a little, a small crease forming on her forehead as she stared at the dwarf towering above her.

"You do not know?" she asked in disbelief, "My youngest son was attacked by a bear and you do not know why I am here?"

Dwalin could only shake his head in bewilderment. He could say she had come to finally grind her axe with him, but then it would not explain why she had been thanking him only a few moments before.

"No," the warrior finally said, finding his voice amongst all his confusion. Dis shook her own head in bewilderment.

"You save my son's life yet you have no idea why I am here," she said half to herself, "I thought you were smarter than that."

Oh.

It was as if everything had fallen into place leaving Dwalin with a sudden clarity of mind. "It was Oin who treated him," the warrior heard himself mumbling.

"But it was you who fought off the bear in the first place," Dis responded, "You who brought my boy back home, and you who sewed him up before he bled to death on my table."

Dwalin bit his lip, not knowing how to respond to what had been said. Instead he chose to change the subject somewhat.

"How is he?" the warrior asked as he began to guide Dis out of the forge. The dwarfish woman smiled warmly

"He woke just as we arrived. Recongised all of us and seemed to know where he was," she replied, "He also asked to see you."

"Did he?" There was a catch in Dwalin's breathing as a wave of worry and guilt washed over him. This earned him a glance from Dis.

"He did," she confirmed, "But he was asleep when I left, so you might have to wait to visit."

"I can wait." Dwalin wasn't even sure that he wanted to visit.

"He asked to see you."

The tattooed warrior rubbed his face in despair. He was at a loss for what to do, and as such retreated back into the harsh comfort of the forge with all the fire and heat and noise. There he could think clearly, could decide what was best to do.


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