9. The Unexpected Journey
***AN: Hobbit Spoilers here!***
Spring came quickly that April, as the small band of dwarves and their hobbit burglar traveled along the Great East Road. The journey thus far had been uneventful and Dwalin found it rather…boring. However, as they passed the Weather Hills, the dwarf felt his spirit pull at him as if telling him to turn north and return to Talliya. If anyone noticed that the largest of their company, save Gandalf himself, was more somber than normal or that he often seemed distant, they said nothing. Most assumed that the old warrior was lost in thoughts of his homeland and intent on the business at hand. Little did they know that Dwalin's thoughts did not lie ahead, but rather behind. After some days, they came to the remnant of a cabin.
"We rest here tonight. Bofur, see to supper; Fili and Kili tend the horses," Thorin said, surveying the clearing.
Gandalf appraised the area and was not pleased. He voiced his concern. "I suggest we move on as there is still a bit of daylight. This is not a good place to stay; something fell happened to the sweet family that lived here."
"I don't sense any danger and travel goes well. We can afford to stop now. This place is fine."
Gandalf all but threw up his arms in disgust as he stalked off mumbling something about the stubbornness of dwarves. Bilbo and the younger dwarves showed signs of concern at the wizard's leaving. Thorin simply went about his business.
The night was pleasant and despite the little scuffle between Thorin and the wizard, spirits were good. Dwalin sat against a stone, trying to imagine the so-called stew in his bowl was some of Talliya's thick rabbit stew. It wasn't working. The warrior soon realized that for as often as Bilbo bemoaned aloud of missing home and the comforts therein, Dwalin found himself thinking of the small homestead in the middle of nowhere and the comfort that lived there. As much as he longed to reclaim his birth home, drive the filth from the majestic halls, he found his spirit again feeling restless. Only thoughts of the gentle half blood eased the turmoil within.
The elves of Rivendell were most kind; however, their idea of a meal and a dwarf's idea differed greatly! After an exceptionally light meal, the group of dwarves found themselves in a comfortably large area with plenty of room for bedrolls and a fire on the balcony. They settled in, managed to acquire some sausages and smoked meats so spirits were light.
"Aye, I could go for some of Talliya's roast turkey right now," Dwalin commented as he reclined. "Some fine roasted root vegetables and a large tankard of ale."
Bofur sat near the fire, a sausage on a stick. "Sounds like a fine meal! Finish it off with an apple cobbler and it would be perfect." Several heartily agreed.
Thorin stood suddenly. "Stop filling their heads with nonsense. We have more important matters at hand. You've gotten soft, Dwalin; you are beginning to sound like our little burglar. She's already forgotten you and moved on. Do the same!"
The group went deathly silent. The two formidable dwarves stared at one another, as the others dared not move. Betrayal shone in Dwalin's eyes as he looked at the one he called friend, barely able to contain his fury. Thorin looked away first though there was no sign of regret in his eyes.
"Balin, come." With that, Thorin left apparently oblivious to the hurt he caused.
"Don't mind him, Brother; he is nearsighted and has but one treasure in mind and it is a cold mistress. It sounds to me that you, on the other hand, have found a treasure that is warm and loving. Hold tight to that," Balin whispered so only his brother heard him. "It will brighten even the darkest hour. I am happy for you." The elder dwarf patted his brother's shoulder and headed off to follow Thorin.
From his place in the corner, Fili spoke up. "Well, she sounds like a fine woman and I hope to try some of that fine cooking when all this adventuring is done." He gave the elder dwarf a kind smile and a nod. Dwalin returned the gesture. When all his companions were asleep, for there was no need for a guard, Dwalin alone lay awake, his thoughts lingering on what Thorin had said.
He had much thinking to do. In the few months that he had stayed with Talliya, they had never spoken words of love or such. Dwalin had assumed it was understood once they began sharing their bed and bodies. Dwarves usually did not take 'lovers,' only mates. Now he wished he had told her of his feelings, explained that she was his treasure. Unfortunately, he could only hope her father had explained the manner of dwarven relationships before he passed and that she would await his return. He then made a silent promise to himself, when this madness was done, he would return to her and claim her has his mate. He would bring her before the King of the Mountain, show Thorin he was wrong, and pledge to her his life. Now, he only needed to survive.
Dwalin never again spoke of Talliya to any on the journey; he only allowed himself thoughts of her when he sought rest. While the sun traveled the sky, he focused on the present and when duty called, he was ready. However, in his heart, he knew he fought for her; he survived for her. At the Goblin city, he stood strong so as to return to her. In the Elf King's dungeon he dreamt of her and his strength was renewed. Not even the certain death of the great spiders' webs could smother the flames that burned within the tall dwarf. He *would* survive, with or without reclaiming Erebor, and he *would* return to her!
It had been a battle like never before and in the end, they claimed victory. While one could rejoice that so few of the small company were lost, losing both Fili and Kili, dwarves not yet in their prime, on the battlefield made the victory seem hollow. As the sun sank beneath the distant hills, Dwalin knelt next to his king's cot. The dirt and grime of the long battle still clung to him.
"I have learned much," Thorin rasped, "on this quest. Lessons that, had I learned and heeded sooner might have brought about a different ending." A pale hand reached for Dwalin.
The warrior clasped it and brought it to his cheek, not bothering to hide the tears. No one held false hope that Thorin Oakenshield would live out the night. A sense of helplessness seeped into Dwalin's soul.
"I was wrong about so many things; blinded by my pride." The dying king continued, "Promise me…" He gasped then coughed, a trickle of blood running through his trimmed beard. Thorin turned his head to Dwalin, eyes ablaze, squeezing the massive dwarf's hand with as much strength as he had left. "…Promise me you will return to your treasure and never let her go; such a gem is more precious than even the Arkenstone. It matters not if she is dwarf or half-blood or human; she is welcome among our kin for her kindness—and as I name her your mate. You are now the Lord of Ered Luin, rule our people justly with your lady by your side." His energy spent, the mighty Thorin Oakenshield sank back in to the pillow and breathed his last.
Dwalin dropped his head to the cold hand he still clutched and wept for his companion, brother in arms…King. The line of Durin was broken.
Dwalin granted himself time to grieve during the winter months and saw Dáin ascend to the throne as King Under the Mountain. Now the time had come for the old warrior to take up his mantle of Lord of the Blue Mountains. However, he had a stop to make on the way, one that filled his heart with a mixture of elation and dread. He needed to reclaim his treasure…if she had not—as Thorin had once indicated—moved on with her life.
The day was crisp and clear when Dwalin and his brother set out from the Lonely Mountain. For a time they traveled with Bofur, Bifor, Bofur's sister (who had lived in the Iron Hills), and Ori, all of whom decided to return to the Blue Mountains. When they again took a respite in Rivendell, Dwalin and Balin continued on, the former anxious to reach Weatherton. The others agreed to meet at Talliya's homestead; Bofur saying they would only be about a week behind. The two elder dwarves made good time along the Great East Road. However, the closer Dwalin got to his precious treasure, the more unquiet his spirit became.
It had been nearly thirteen cycles of the moon since he left and it seemed an eternity. They never spoke of commitment; Dwalin took for granted that she might not know of the unspoken arrangement. Furthermore, it was not only the dwarf who had remained silent; Talliya never spoke of love either. That is what truly worried him. What if she did not love him? What if she had moved on? Dwalin's heart began to sink. It had been a long time and he could not honestly expect her to wait for him. She knew the perils of the quest. Dwalin sighed. How he wished he'd done right by her.
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.