Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 36

Bofur didn't know what to think as Balin and Dwalin disappeared down the road, Fili already having split off from them to return home a while back. He was thankful that Dwalin had given up the notion of going after the bear, yet the guilt that the toymaker had seen in the larger dwarf had made him uncomfortable. Surely the warrior could see the lack of truth in his thoughts.

Sighing to himself the toymaker continued on his less than merry but not overly saddened path. Kili was in a bad way, his friend was making himself into a bad way, and everyone else in between were just stuck in the middle, himself included.

The local tavern seemed to be calling to his now sober mind, yet Bofur passed it by without so much as a glance. He had had enough of drinks and their consequences for the time being. He had had enough of consequences in general.

From across the road a dog eyed him warily, its back hunched over as it crept around the corner tail between its risen haunches. The toymaker it had thought a threat merely sighed again and pulled his hat down further over his cold and aching head. He rubbed the tips of his fingers though the open ends of his gloves.

"'Least it isn't raining on me," the dwarf said to himself. A small grin tweaked at the corner of his mouth.

Reaching out in front of him, Bofur spun his arms a few times not caring if anyone saw. His shoulders grinded together at the motion, the feeling of bone mashing on bone an odd sensation but not an unsavory one. His mind floated along in a strange state, completely empty and unburdened of anything. The dwarf felt free, bodiless and weightless. Perhaps he was still drunk or perhaps his body was just sick of the turmoil it had been put through in the past week. Whatever it was, Bofur found he did not care.

A humming sound began to play upon his lips, the tune without a melody or any discernable rhythm. It was one that had echoed through the house of his youth created by a dwarf with a heart as big as the toymaker's and a severe lack of musical ability. That had not kept Bofur's father from trying however. Every day he would hum the same tune if only to drive his dearest wife up the walls with madness.

"Just smile and laugh it off," Bofur found himself murmuring, age old advice he had been given that he held very close to his over accommodating heart. And when that doesn't work there's always a tankard of ale.

Again the toymaker found himself tweaking the corners of his mouth, teeth flashing ever so briefly as he allowed them to be revealed from their hiding place. His fingers twitched to the inconsistent beat he was still humming as he walked under the darkened sky of evening towards a place both warm and familiar, friendly and comforting.

Bifur would be closing up the store, Bombur arriving home to meet with his wife and children. For Bofur this was all accepted with a simple state of mind. He wanted a small moment of solitary in a familiar place and that small moment he would get. That small moment he was already getting if one counted his walk as a instant of solidarity.

Opening the door Bofur drifted to one chair by the stove and sank into it, going over the events of the day and the past few days before that. Surprisingly no emotions gripped his heart, no shock or fear or worry, no desperation or deep struck sorrow. No, his heart simply continued to beat the way it was intended to without a care in the world save for pumping blood through the dwarf it belonged to.

Since Dwalin had brought the lad in riding upon that steed for his life's worth Bofur had been caught up in a whirlwind of emotions both depressive, hopeful, real and false. Now it was all gone, absent in the face of a place that had once held a cage made of desolation and despair.

A flood of blood washed by him yet he did not flinch. Frantic yells were sent his way yet he did not bend to them. Screams echoed the cavern of his head yet he did not attempt to cover his ears. Prayers of helplessness were recited before him yet he did not join in the fevered chanting. Like a needle that had pierced ragged and torn flesh not so long ago, the toymaker's scattered self began to collect together and reshape into mere acceptance for what had happened and whatever was about happen.

It will be what it will be. Bofur blinked and released a breath as he emptied his head once more. And there isn't nothing that can change that.

Rubbing his hands together, the dwarf opened his maw in a gaping yawn of which swept up all the nearest air like the greedy flames of a fiercely burning forge. Shadows reached their formless arms towards the faint light that brushed against the toes of toymaker's boots. The moon frowned at this act and only glowed stronger as it wove its strange lullaby of a drowsy and dreamless sleep for one soul that had strayed into its clutches.

Outside Bifur brushed his hands over the rough wood of the door's frame before pushing it open with his palms. The hefty framed dwarf stepped over the boundary for the house and wandered inside, each step a small shuffle filled with the tired sleep of night. Moonlight glinted off the axe in his head reflecting onto a lineless face resting alone in a chair.

If one had peered into the uncovered window they would have beheld a strange sight – that of a formidable figure leaning tenderly over a much more likeable being in something almost akin to brotherhood. That spy would have witnessed a blanket being draped over the latter dwarf of whom was deeply asleep. They would have also seen the delicate repositioning of a certain remarkable looking hat on top of a head before the figure still awake shuffled off out of view leaving his counterpart non the wiser but a little more content.

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