Even in Death
"With the Battle of Five Armies fall the heirs of Durin's line."
Balin looked away from the horizon and at his brother's face. Dwalin's face was solemn, sad. As it should be after such an occurrence. The battle had cost them much. Thorin Oakenshield had been their leader, the dwarf they had followed to the very end. A dwarf who should have been King Under the Mountain. Instead his life had been cut short at the swing of a sword, and with him died his nephews, his only heirs.
Inwardly, Balin sighed. Durin's heirs...dwarves who had shown so much potential, only to have their lives snuffed out in one single battle. Dwarves who had seemed to be able to endure anything and anyone. But nothing lasted forever.
"Thorin, Fili and Kili were strong," Balin said softly. "True, Fili and Kili had little experience in real battle, but they were so very talented...I do not believe Durin's heirs would have fallen this day had it not been the will of almighty Iluvator. They would have lived on, and ruled us as well as they were able. But it was not to be."
"I do not envy the dwarf who will have the job of telling Dis what has become of her brother and sons." Dwalin was staring at the ground.
In the chaos, Balin had forgotten all about the one person whom this would affect the most. Dis, who had lost a father, brother and her home at such a young age. Only to be told close to two hundred years later that the remainder of her family were dead.
Balin remembered Thorin's words in the tent where he had lain, mortally wounded. "I failed my sister..."
He did not think she would view it that way. But Balin knew the last thing she was going to do was take this well. How she would feel, knowing she was going to have to bury her own sons...
"Where are the bodies?"
Dwalin looked up from the rock next to his shoe. "In a tent somewhere. I have not been to see them."
"Will you accompany me?"
"If that is your wish, I will do so."
Balin wished to say one last goodbye to Thorin Oakenshield, and his stalwart nephews. He had a few things to say to them, even though they were not there to listen. But they needed to be said.
All three were still dressed in their armour, which did not need to be taken off. Balin could see some of the wounds on their bodies. There were many.
He looked sideways at Dwalin. This was a little worse for him. He had found the bodies on the battlefield, experienced a greater shock than the rest of them had. He'd had to carry them off, one by one, until someone came to help him.
Balin knelt next to Thorin to pay his respects. The dwarf's face was calm, untroubled. Never again would it crease with worry, or irritation. Or joy. "Thorin Oakenshield...I know there's only a small chance you can hear me right now, if you happen to be watching. But there are things I must say to you. We all saw you as our leader, our king. You knew that. But I also saw you as a brother. That, I don't think you really knew. I did my best to protect you, and to follow you. Because I loved you like my brother. Sleep in peace."
He moved on to Fili. The dwarf's face was different that Thorin's. It seemed almost twisted. With grief, most likely. Thorin had told Balin that Kili had fallen first. His last moments would have been spent in mourning. "Fili. You would have been king after your uncle, had all gone better than it did. I know you were apprehensive about the prospect. I would have been, too. But I believe you would have done well. Even at your age you possessed a sort of wisdom rare among such a young lad. I commend you for that. I would have followed you as surely as your Uncle. I know you would have been a worthy ruler. Sleep in peace."
Lastly he knelt next to Kili. Kili's face was hard to make sense of. It seemed neither calm nor troubled, happy nor sad. "Kili. I could say much to you, and mostly about all those shenanigans you pulled on me on this journey. But I am not here to lecture you." He paused, and his voice cracked. "It seems so unfair that one so young as you should have their life cut short. You had so much potential, although I know you sometimes saw yourself as a failure. You were almost glad Fili was your elder brother, thinking you weren't fit to be a king. But I think that you could have done it. Your heart was in the right place. Very much so. With more experience, you would have done a fine job, if the duty had ever fallen to you. Never doubt yourself again. Sleep in peace...Hopefully. I dare say there's lots of opportunities for mischief up there."
His voice rose in a sudden laugh, but then broke, and tears filled his eyes. "My kin. How I will miss you."
He rose and looked Dwalin in the eyes. "Do you have anything you wish to say?"
Dwalin did, and he whispered to each dwarf. What it was he said, Balin never discovered. For Dwalin made a point of keeping it a secret. But when they left the tent, there was a sad smile on his face. "At least they're together now. The hell we would have gone through if Fili or Kili had returned without the other. How broken they would have been."
Balin nodded. "Inseparable, they were. The same applies to Thorin, though he made sure it wasn't too obvious."
"Thorin was their father, in most things."
"Aye, so he was."
Balin had said what he had come to say. He had emptied his heart, pretty much. As he walked away, the only thing he regretted was not saying those things to them when they were alive, and he could know for sure that they were listening.
But even in death, Thorin, Fili and Kili were listening. And they thanked him.