Disclaimer: I do not own the Hobbit or anything related to it.
None of them were particularly happy, all somewhat resembling a drowned rat. Thorin was in a feral mood as was, not surprisingly, Balin. The old dwarf hated the cold and the wet, both making his joints stiff and bones ache. Dwalin, for the most part, did not mind a few scattering drops of rain if only to poke fun of his brother's suffering.
"Not too warm there are you brother?" he asked in a deliberately cheery voice.
Balin sent the tattooed dwarf a black look but simply huffed and urged his pony onwards refusing to lower himself to his sibling's level. Dwalin was not giving up though and he guided his own steed forward so that he was in line with his brother again.
"Beautiful day," he said, looking around at the dark grey sky and the equally grey surroundings.
"Do you want something?" the white-bearded dwarf growled at his younger brother. Dwalin allowed an expression of indignant offence to cross his face.
"Am I not allowed to simply make conversation with my brother?" he asked with an air of hurt.
Balin was not fazed. "If you don't want anything, then go away and bother someone else."
Dwalin obeyed, chuckling to himself under his breath. Times like this were generally his only chance to get his own back on his brother who constantly acted as though Dwalin was still a young child in need of protection. The seasoned warrior knew that it was all in good fun, but he could not help but bear a slight grudge towards his brother for it. Revenge was certainly sweet as he watched Balin hunch over even further in his saddle.
"We will stop here," Thorin commanded after a quiet debate with Gandalf. The stream next to them was roaring at an incredible speed but the company did not acknowledge it as it showed them no immediate threat. Had it rose any higher, they would have stopped in another spot, but the water had yet to breach the banks which held it in and the rain had, blessedly, halted its onslaught in favour of the sun which was now beginning to peek through the clouds.
"And who would've thought we would miss the sweltering heat of the forges," Balin grumbled from where he was tethering his pony. Dwalin held back a smile and began to secure the reins of his own mount to the branch opposite him. It was in the next moment, however, that a grand commotion started and each of the company received their fill of excitement for that day.
The pony the hobbit had been using suddenly started and began to buck wildly around, kicking out with both its front and back hooves. Bilbo and the two dwarves who had been helping him - coincidently turning out to be Fili and Kili - leapt back in order to avoid the flailing limbs and escape injury. In doing so, the company burglar let go of the reins in his hands. The pony dashed forward, nostrils flaring as it tried to escape whatever had spooked it. It was only when the creature's body plunged into the water that any of the company recognised the danger it had precariously placed itself in.
Shouting in alarm, the dwarves all began to run around, those with a more level head checking to make sure the rest of their steeds were secure in order to avoid the same thing happening twice. By pure luck the reins which had been swirling around the pony now caught in the river had snagged on the point of a rock sticking out from frothing water. Seizing the chance, the two youngest of the company shed any unnecessary objects and dived in after the animal.
Dwalin cried out in alarm, his call alerting Thorin to the situation that was now at hand. The two old friends began to bolt towards the waterline when Balin's hand stopped them.
"Give them a chance," he said, also eyeing Nori as the shifty dwarf moved in the same direction as Thorin and Dwalin. All four turned to watch the event unfold in front of them.
Kili was in front of the pony, barely managing to be kept from washing away as he calmed the spooked animal down. Fili was at the rock, grabbing onto it with one hand and untangling the reins from it with another. After several more tugs the blonde gave up and began to hack away at the leather with his hunting knife, knowing full well that they had to get out of the river as fast as possible.
Half the lead came away and Kili grabbed hold of the frayed end which floated towards him. The pony was still on edge but seemed to be more in control and Dwalin breathed a sigh of relief as he realised everything was going to go all right. He was wrong. Very wrong.
No sooner had the tall dwarf thought this than everything moved up to a whole new level of danger. A branch, torn from a rotting tree that had fallen partly across the river a while back, slammed into a rock not that far from where the three figures were struggling.
Fili swore as he lost his grip for a moment and Kili's feet suddenly slipped as the creature he was linked to through the mangled rein reared up in fear. None of the company could do anything as the brunette was struck by a flailing hoof. The sickening crack of the impact resounded through the air and the youth went under, not resurfacing again.
This time Balin did not attempt to stop the three as Thorin, Dwalin and Nori dove into the swirling water, their hardened muscles pulling them in the direction the wanted to go. Fili had changed priorities the instant Kili had been hit and had also disappeared under the water's foaming surface.
Dwalin felt the thrill of fear beat in his heart a taboo which was both painful and suffocating. He choked on a mouthful of water but forced himself to go onwards towards where the lads had last been seen.
When the three dwarves reached the spot, Nori diverted his course towards the pony, reaching out a hand to grab the discarded rein. The dwarf began to nimbly untangle the other part of the rein from the rock, using his fingers as he had no knife with him.
Dwalin and Thorin dove down under the water just as Fili came back up. The pair watched from under in the eerily calm depths as the blonde dwarf shook wet hair from his eyes and looked around for a way to get back to shore. The precious but limp bundle in his arms only served as a dead weight to the already exhausted dwarf and it was not long before he went under again. Dwalin and Thorin both leapt into action.
The two older dwarves allowed the current to slam them into the two youths. Thorin, as he was shooting past, grabbed his elder nephew's collar and hulled him back up to the air. Kili was dumped from Fili's arms as the fast paced movement caught him by surprise and he cried out in alarm before spluttering as water ran into his open mouth. Dwalin ignored him and stretched his arms out to collect up the sinking dwarf but, to his immense horror, he overshot by a mere finger's length.
Running out of air, he moved back up towards the surface and took a few gulping breaths before diving back down into the blue-green water. His eyes, burning from being kept open under the river's surface, quickly spotted the dwarf he had meant to grab the first time round.
The tattooed dwarf swum towards his quarry refusing to entertain the notion that the spirited youth might have already drowned. The small cloud of red enveloped the young prince's head was scattered as Dwalin's powerful strokes disturbed the water and he took up the unconscious being in one arm. Holding his priceless bundle close to his chest with one arm, the bald dwarf struggled to rise. At least when Thorin had grabbed Fili, the lad had still been conscious and able to assist with the kicking. Kili, through no fault of his own, was just a deadweight.
His lungs screaming for air and unsure whether the youngster beside him still breathed, Dwalin's life began to flash before his eyes - seeing Balin's face for the first time, meeting Thorin, the taking of Erebor, the carnage of Moria, the birth of Fili and then his brother, Kili, wide innocent eyes blinking up at him in an unnaturally small face. With an almighty inward roar, Dwalin shot back up through the substance which had been pressing him against the bottom of the river.
Breaking out through the top of the water, the relieved but still frantic cries of the company reached the dwarf's ears. He turned towards them and saw that Thorin was helping Fili swim back to the bank, the pair already halfway across. Dwalin followed in their wake, dragging Kili along with him. Once he reached the shore, several hands helped to drag him up out of the water. The warrior ignored the concerned cries of his brother and turned his quarry onto his back, fingers frantically pushing against the lad's blood covered neck.
"Come on," he muttered over and over, breathing a little eccentric. He could feel both Fili and Thorin lurking behind him, recovering from their own fight with the river. He ignored them as well. "Come on! Give me something to work with."
And then he felt it, a small, weak pulse against his ice-cold fingertips.
Dwalin sat back and sighed with relief before beginning to hit the youth hard on the back, causing Kili to cough up the water he had swallowed. Nori walked past with the exhausted horse that had been the cause of all this following diligently behind him. Several dwarves peeled away to attend to the soaking beast and dwarf.
Dwalin continues to pound on Kili's back until he was sure all the water the lad had swallowed was out. The youth had groaned a few times and his heart blossomed hope at this small response. The next thing he had done on his agenda was to stem the blood flow from the cut within the hoof like bruise on the brunette's head. Dwalin grimaced when he saw that if the blow had been little to the left, it would have hit his left temple, quite possibly killing him. A rough blanket had been thrown over his shoulders and only now was he beginning to feel the cold.
"We should start moving if we are to camp away from this spot," Gandalf said, speaking up for the first time since the first pair had come ashore. The others, at his words, began to move, Gloin coming up to where Dwalin was still bent over Kili. The taller dwarf shook his head.
"I can manage him," he said, "If you help me get him on his pony." The burly warrior shot a glance at Gandalf. "Could you do something about this bleeding?" he asked. Gandalf frowned back at him.
"I am a wizard not a healer," he said indignity even as he waved his staff and the cut began to close up until it was reduced to a light pink line within the dark purple bruise, "There you go. He should be fine once he gets warm again, though he will have a bit of a headache." Dwalin nodded his thanks and, together with Gloin, managed to heft the young lad back onto his steed.
Dwalin hosted himself up with a small amount of difficulty and took the reins of the pony, leading both the creature and its unconscious burden towards a much safer campsite. He rolled his shoulders and groaned, bones stiff from the cold even though he had donned his cloak and coat and was still wearing his blanket. From the corner of his eye, he watched Balin ride up to him.
"Not to warm are you brother?" he asked in a deliberately cheerful voice.
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