Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 8

When dawn finally chose to embraced the world around it, the new day noted two figures of interest. One lay on a bed rasping for air with a fever ravaging his already feeble body. The second was hurrying to find the fate of the first, darting along the streets in the brisk morning air. Bofur could only pray the lad had not passed away in the night.

Durin help him if that were not the case.

Upon reaching the door to Thorin's house, the toymaker raised his fist and knocked, eager to be admitted and receive the news be it good or bad. Taking a deep breath, Bofur waited.

It was if those in the house could sense his urgency, for it took only a moment for the door to be opened by Dwalin. The bald warrior greeted the toymaker with a silent nod and moved aside so that Bofur could enter.

"How's the lad?" Bofur found himself asking. Dwalin sighed and rubbed his face.

"His fever has risen again, making it the fourth time."

Bofur frowned at the statement.

"Can you not do anything?" he asked. The tattooed dwarf beside him merely closed his eyes, breathing in once before answering.

"Oin is trying what he can, but it is a miracle that the boy has survived so long as it is," Dwalin said glumly, "Oin is with him now, changing the bandages."

"And Thorin?" Bofur inquired.

"As good as he can be given the circumstances," came the reply.

Bofur took this all in, standing stock still as he brought his thoughts together. It took a long moment, but by then the toymaker had pulled himself back to the present.

"Will Oin mind if…?" The rest of the question remained unspoken, yet it was clear that Dwalin knew what knowledge Bofur desired.

"No, he will not," the warrior said, moving back a step so he was no longer blocking the way to the sickroom of the house.

Bofur moved past Dwalin smoothly, his footsteps loud upon the wooden floorboards. Pausing at the door, the toymaker peered past it taking in the sorry sight before him.

"I was wondering when you would arrive," Oin said from where he was winding fresh bandages around his young and unresponsive patient. Thorin acknowledged him with a grunt, back mostly facing Bofur as he supported his youngest nephew.

"Had to see how the lad was doing," Bofur said, trying and failing to force out his usual cheery nature. The toymaker was not condemned for this failure, however, rather sent a saddened look as Oin finished up with Kili's torso.

"Worse than when you left," the healer said, as he began to unwrap the bindings on Kili's right arm. Bofur fought back a grimace as he caught a glimpse of the deep incisions crossed over by ragged black stitching that marred the young dwarf's flesh. Resisting the wave of nausea that suddenly came upon him, the toymaker opened his mouth to speak.

"Dwalin said as much," Bofur commented, a deep frown between his eyes as he turned his gaze to a crack in the wall that was of immense interest to him.

"Would you be so kind as to pass the roll of bandages beside you," Oin asked. The toymaker nodded and dropped them next to the healer as he moved beside Thorin.

"Both my brother and Bifur wanted me to say if there was anything you need-"

"Thank them for me," Thorin cut in, his deep voice soft. Bofur managed to tweak one corner of his mouth in an acknowledging smile, though the look in his eyes was saddened if anything.

"I will be sure to pass on your words," the toymaker said.

The two dwarves looked away from each other and towards where Oin was finishing redressing Kili's wounds. Once the last bandage was secured, the three remained where they were, thoughts kept to themselves and a reverent silence maintained between them. No sooner had the silence fully cloaked the room, however, Dwalin came in, not bursting through the door, but not opening it silently either.

"There's someone here asking for you," the bald warrior said, his eyes locking with Oin's, "It's urgent."

Bofur watched as the healer's eyes moved away from Dwalin's and to Kili's prone form first before settling upon Thorin's own grey-blue gaze.

"How urgent?" the grey bearded dwarf said. Dwalin grimaced.

"The dwarf injured might lose a limb urgent," came the answer. Oin took a breath, opening his mouth to answer, but Thorin got there first.

"You said it yourself there is not much you can do for him as of now," the dwarfish leader said. Oin exhaled and stood.

"I am truly sorry," the healer replied, "But I must go if someone needs me expertise. I will return as soon as I can."

Thorin did not reply. Instead it was Bofur who gave the healer a small smile and offered to walk with him to the door.

"If there is any change-"

"We should be able to manage," Bofur cut in, the smile from before still upon his face as he somehow managed to create a mask of assurance to hide behind. Oin merely gazed at him with worried eyes.

"Bear attacks rarely ever result in a happy ending and I fear this may not be any different," he said briefly before turning on his heel and walking out the door to where another dwarf was waiting in the close distance.

Bofur watched him go before swallowing drily and retreating back into the room where both Dwalin and Thorin were now in quite conversation. They paused upon the toymaker's entrance, but Bofur had caught the last few words to know that something was wrong.

"What is the matter?" the toymaker asked, a small frown appearing upon his face. Dwalin sighed and Thorin cast his blue eyes down to were his hands were gripping one of his nephew's.

"The dwarf that Oin was just called away to tend to," Dwalin began, speaking for both himself and Thorin, "He was on patrol when he was attacked."

"Bear?" Bofur asked, his eyes widening in concern and fear. Dwalin shook his head grimly.

"Orc," came the correction. Bofur gulped in a breath of air, taking in the news.

"Do you know how many?" the toymaker asked.

"Enough to cause havoc to those on and near the edge of the village, but not enough for them to storm us," Thorin answered in a monotone, "Unless it was only a small scout party the dwarves ran into. Either way, we need to eliminate the danger."

Bofur bit the inside of his cheek.

"You will have to leave Kili's side," he said seeing the problem as it appeared right before his face. Thorin closed his eyes.

"As much as I loath to I have no choice," the dwarfish leader answered, "The safety of my people must come first."

"I can watch him."

The words were out of Bofur's mouth before he himself realised he had said them. The toymaker waited anxiously for Thorin's answer, the grey-blue eyed dwarf having donned a face devoid of any emotion as soon as the suggestion had left Bofur's lips.

"I mean, Oin showed me what to do before and I hardly think that anything major will happen when you are gone, and if it does I know where Oin is, but again I highly doubt I will need to fetch him, and I can get Bifur or Bombur to come as well and-"

"I am sure Kili will be fine in your hands," Thorin cut in, the small smile upon his lips tainted by the worry and fear within. Bofur let him mouth snap shut, his earlier tirade now meaningless.

"Alright then," he said, unsure how to respond for Thorin was more or less making him responsible for the life of his youngest nephew, a life that was broken enough as it was. He was saved as Dwalin stood, the tattooed warrior placing one hand on his friend's shoulder.

"The longer we wait, the more chance the orcs have to attack," Dwalin said, appearing as though he were talking to the air, yet his words were unmistakably meant for Thorin. The dwarfish leader bowed his head and then stood.

Bofur watched as Thorin brushed his hand along his nephew's fevered forehead, bending close to whisper something inaudible in his air. He then shoot Bofur a look which needed no words to explain.

"He will be here when you get back."

I hope.

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