10. Life Moved On
Dwalin and Balin approached the small homestead. They were keenly aware of their loss as they entered through the gate crafted by Thorin Oakenshield. Neither said a word as they passed the sturdy black iron; they did not need too.
They dismounted near the barn and Dwalin shouted in a loud voice, "I hear Dwarves are welcome in this house!"
Talliya heard the greeting and her heart raced. Could it be? It sounded so like him but…her heart thumped wildly as the woman lifted her skirts and hurried around the house. When she turned the corner she froze, fearing her eyes played a horrible trick. Her stomach did summersaults and she suddenly felt faint. Still, her feet carried her quickly to the waiting dwarves. She approached with a mixture of doubt and relief on her face.
The tall dwarf stepped up to meet her, wrapping his arms around her and crushing his treasure to his chest. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and breathed deep. The restlessness in his spirit subsided.
"You survived!" Talliya said almost in disbelief. She relished the feel of Dwalin's strong body; however, again she felt ill at ease. Pulling back a bit, she looked into is eyes and added with more astonishment than she had intended, "You came back."
"Aye, lass, as I said I would."
Catching a glimpse of motion to her left, Talliya noticed an older, white haired dwarf wearing a bemused smile. She stepped out of Dwalin's embrace with a blush and straightened her skirts.
"Talliya, may I present my *older* brother Balin," Dwalin introduced with a cheeky smirk.
Balin bowed low. "At your service, lassie."
"And at yours, Master Balin," the woman replied with a smile.
Dwalin threw his arm around Talliya's shoulder. "Come! Been bragging about your fine meals. Would love a soak too." He began to move towards the small cottage, unaware of the sudden trepidation in Talliya's eyes.
"Wait! There is something I need to tell you first." Talliya stepped in front of Dwalin, her hand on his powerful chest. She had to deal with this now and she prayed she would not throw up in the process.
The dwarf stopped and regarded her. He suddenly had an uneasy feeling. He had been gone a long time. Had things changed? The thought caused ice to form in the pit of his stomach. He waited expectantly.
"It's just, well, before you left, we…" Talliya floundered and blushed. This was so difficult. Yet, she had to be honest with Dwalin. It wasn't as if she could hide it and better he hear it from her now, before…
A sound from the house brought everyone up short. Three heads turned toward the dwelling. Balin's eyebrows raised while his brother's knitted and strong features scowled. Talliya sighed and dropped her head. 'So much for breaking it to him gently,' she thought. She only hoped he would understand. She opened her mouth to speak. Suddenly Dwalin grabbed her by the upper arms.
"Who?" he growled giving her a shake.
Talliya found herself unable to answer, her heart beating madly in her chest as fear grew. "I…" she could utter nothing else.
Anger surged through Dwalin. It seemed *his*mate had found another while he was away. Thorin's words came back to him; he had been a fool! He conveniently forgot, however, that he had never made clear their relationship or his feelings for her. He glowered at her focusing the anger on Talliya rather than himself. His grip tightened.
"You're hurting me," Talliya cried, trying to pull away. Again, there was sound from the cottage. Talliya quickly became frantic.
"Tell me! With who did you betrayed me?"
"No! I didn't. I couldn't. I love you!" Tears began to fall.
"Yet you took another to your bed! Liar! How long after I left?"
Balin stepped closer sensing his brother's potential lack of control. He would be no match against the bigger dwarf, but he would do what he could to protect the now terrified woman. He was certain she could explain if given the chance and not fearing for her life.
"Answer me! Whose is it?" Dwalin bellowed.
Emerald eyes filled with trepidation and fear, finally looked up. Suddenly, a rage of her own grew from the dwarf's accusations. Finally yanking away from him, she responded harshly.
"Yours!" she spat. The two remained motionless, staring at each other balefully.
Finally, Talliya backed down rubbing at her soar arms, a look of weariness on her face. "The child is yours," she quietly said again. She could not be certain of Dwalin's response. It was entirely possible that he would still reject her and the child.
The softly spoke admission hit Dwalin harder than a troll hammer. Time stood still. "Mine?" he breathed, clearly trying to make sense of it all.
"Aye, a son," Talliya replied still fearful. Grey eyes pinned her to the spot.
"You didn't tell me…" the tall dwarf began, the accusation evident.
"I didn't know," Talliya answered quickly, "but even if I had, you still would have had to leave."
Dwalin brushed past her barely registering her words; his mind reeled. He needed to see for himself, see this 'son' of his. As his feet carried him toward the house and the crying babe, his heart thumped. Could it be? "I have a son?" he repeated over and over, as he neared the door, trying to comprehend, to believe the words. His pace quickened.
Talliya now turned pleading eyes to Balin who had remained silent and still through all this. "I swear, I didn't know. I would've told him."
The white-haired dwarf patted her arm. "It's alright, lassie." He took her by the arm and added, "But I do hope he has your looks." His eyes twinkled as he chuckled.
Talliya suddenly felt a bit more at easy. The two followed Dwalin to the house.
Dwalin's mind struggled to process the information. His son meaning he…she…that is they…
The imposing dwarf burst through the door with a crash causing the startled infant to cry harder. Dwalin made his way to the small crib in the corner of the room. Peering in, he saw the most wonderful thing! Thick, dark red-brown hair spiked in all directions on the tiny head and soft russet down lined the babe's jaw and chin. Gently Dwalin picked up the wailing baby, instinctively making shushing sounds as he did. To his surprise, the child settled. The dwarf held the little one close to his broad chest and a small chubby hand snaked from within the swaddling. Strong little fingers reached out and ensnared the end of Dwalin's long mustache. The dwarf could not help the little smile that touched his lips nor the swelling of his heart.
"He has your eyes," Talliya spoke tentatively from the door. She was still uncertain still of Dwalin's feelings.
The old warrior turned, awe radiating from his face. Upon hearing his mama's voice, the child instinctively worked his little mouth, turning his head in search of food. Finding only rough leather and fur, the babe began to cry again.
"And your appetite," the half-dwarf continued approaching Dwalin. Carefully she pried the fingers from his beard. She then took the bundle from Dwalin and moved towards a comfortable chair. At this point, Balin approached mother and child.
"He is beautiful," the elder dwarf said to Talliya. Louder, he addressed his brother. "Lad's got your lungs too," he said good-naturedly. Dwalin remained where he was and nodded mutely. Balin continued, "Come brother, let us tend the horses and let the lass tend to the wee one." The white haired dwarf moved and took his stunned brother by the arm.
Dwalin looked at Balin oddly. "I have a son," he said as if the notion was the oddest thing in Arda.
"Aye," replied Balin, eye twinkling in merriment. "That you do."
The half-dwarf waited for them to leave, then untied her top. It did not take the infant long to find his meal and began blissfully to suckle away. Talliya sighed and began to relax. Perhaps everything would turn out all right. Perhaps when the shock wore off, Dwalin would be happy about this.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.