Chapter 7: Aftermath
Rating/Warnings: angst, grief, allusion to past dub/non-con (in other pairing)
Word Count: 2651 (59,027 total)
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit, I wouldn't have to write fanfic
Summary: Thorin believes that his nephew betrayed the company in the goblin caves and leaves him there to die; Bilbo will not stand for this.
Chapter 1: Paranoia
Chapter 2: Courage and Despair
Chapter 3: Healing
Chapter 4: Guilt and Dissension
Chapter 5: Intrigue - Part I
Chapter 5: Intrigue - Part II
Chapter 6: Truth and Insanity
Dís had never realized that she might come to hate her dreams.
But now that she walks unchallenged through the ancient halls of Erebor, the yearning that once drove her has left only bitterness. For while the dwarrowdam had prayed to Mahal that her brother's quest would be successful, her foolish dreams had never wondered at the price.
She had known that the journey would be dangerous but Dís had trusted Thorin to protect her children, never imagining that it would be he from whom the dagger fell. His actions were a betrayal of all that made them family and although she is so proud of her sons for surviving, for triumphing against these odds, everything has changed. The once strong bond between her brother and his nephews has been shattered completely and Dís does not know if this rift will ever heal.
How can it as long as Kíli's heart still burns with hatred and Thorin has naught but guilt to give him in return? How can her family ever be whole when it was her husband who drove their king to madness and Fíli has nightmares about the weakness in his blood?
Her husband... Now that is a horror of its own and Dís has spent long hours trying to reconcile the dwarf whom she married with the one who tried to end her brother's life. Yet while part of her heart still loves Ordak and refuses to believe these accusations, something in her bones knows that it is true. The dwarrowdam has always known that her husband carried darkness and in more lucid moments, the dwarf made her skin crawl. But when Ordak was with her this never seemed to matter and today Dís feels as though she is waking from an endless dream. A dream in which all her doubts were twisted into pleasure and only now that she is no longer sleeping does the horror beneath seem clear.
Dis' one consolation is that her second husband rarely bothered to seek her chambers, leaving the memories of her sons' father untainted in her heart. So she holds tight to this thought when the truth threatens to overwhelm her and the dwarrowdam has never been so glad for Erebor's scalding springs.
In her bitterest moments, she thinks that Ordak's betrayal should make things easier because even Kíli acknowledges that Thorin was not to blame for his insanity. Yet somehow this changes nothing except within her mind and Dís wishes her husband were still living so she could slaughter him herself.
It is his fault that her brother is haunted by demons despite all their clan has won. It is his fault that Thorin Oakenshield is broken, shattered by the knowledge of what his hands have wrought and she knows that the dwarf lord will not be long for Erebor. Because her brother will never claim the throne of which he dreamed and while this was his decision, it would break his heart to stay.
Watching Fíli rule his kingdom is more than he can bear and he waits only until Dís brings their people home before planning his escape. For her eldest has already proven the fire of his spirit and with his mother and companions as his advisers, the young dwarf will rule well.
Which leaves Thorin free to flee the site of his betrayal, her foolish brother who cannot give up his search for glory despite everything it's cost. Now that Erebor is lost to him, the dwarf has set his sights on Khazad-dûm and Dís sometimes wonders if her brother has learned anything at all. But while she may think that Thorin is running from his problems, she cannot force him to remain.
Even if she could change his mind through guilt or manipulation, that is not her way. A dwarven mother does not stop her children from courting failure because some lessons must be learned through pain and her brother still deserves the chance to make his own mistakes.
Though Dís cannot help but worry for his safety and so one night she asks him, “Are you sure that this is what you wish to do?”
But if she is hoping for him to reconsider, the dwarrowdam is disappointed because her brother simply nods heavily. “While Khazad-dûm does not call to my heart with the strength of our homeland, I cannot remain in Erebor if I am not to be her king. Because I will not find forgiveness for my crimes by doing nothing and even though Fíli does not hate me with the fire of his brother, he does not need me anymore. Your son is stronger than I am, he showed that when he challenged me, and I cannot steal what he has earned to salve my wounded pride.”
So the dwarrowdam wishes Thorin well and assists him with the preparations until the day of his departure comes. While none of his former companions chose to join him, Dís finds some comfort in knowing that her brother will have warriors at his back nonetheless. For this time the dwarf lord has gathered two score of his loyal Sigin-tarâg to aid him in this mission, those dwarves who are not ready to lay down their axes yet.
However, despite her people's bravery and the fact that Thorin retook Erebor with less, Dís cannot shake the feeling that this quest is doomed. The dwarrowdam remembers the Battle of Azanulbizar all too vividly in her nightmares and she never wishes to see such slaughter upon this earth again. She worries even in the face of Thorin's laughter, his claims that the Misty Mountains should be nearly empty since the goblins who once lived there lay rotting on the fields of Erebor. She worries because Durin's Bane was never conquered and who knows what lives within the deep?
Yet Dís is a princess of Durin's line, so once she speaks her warning she locks all her doubts away. This is a day of celebration for her people and the dwarrowdam will send her brother off with naught but pride and glory on her face. And if he falls, I will grieve for him as for all that I have lost.
Fíli is standing with her, the crown of Erebor shining on his brow while he waits to say farewell. Over the long days of rebuilding and preparation, Thorin and her eldest found common ground in their love for their people and thus began to bridge the pain. While her son will probably never trust his uncle as he did before, there is respect between them and Dís knows that she cannot truly ask for more.
Of all their companions, only Kíli still holds tight to his hatred and given what the dwarf has suffered, no one can deny his right. However, her son does not hate Thorin for his own sake, seeming to spare little thought for the scars of his ordeal. Instead it is the memory of Fíli's blood spilling warm across his hands that her youngest cannot bury and Dís is not surprised when he does not stand with the Sigin-tarâg to wish her brother well.
What does startle the dwarrowdam is the sight of Kíli waiting for the procession by the gates, her son leaning awkwardly against the stone with the halfling at his side. Thorin pauses before his nephew and from his tentative expression, her brother does not dare to hope that this concession means anything.
For a long moment no one moves and given the stubbornness of Durins, Dís knows it may be a lifetime before one of her boys cracks. However, just when she is considering knocking their heads together, Bilbo lets out an exasperated sigh and shoves the younger dwarf in the back. Kíli turns to glare at the hobbit fiercely but the burglar meets his gaze without flinching and although Dís cannot hear the exchange that follows, it is her son who gives in first.
“I still hate you, but I would prefer you stay alive.” He mutters grudgingly to Thorin before running off again and at these words, his uncle beams as though granted the world. Maybe this will give my fool brother something to live for, Dís hopes while watching the company ride into the distance, standing by the gate until the dwarves can be seen no more.
With Thorin gone, her focus turns back to her children and the dwarrowdam is determined to help them find happiness. Which of course means love because in her heart of hearts, Dís wants to hear the pitter-patter of tiny Durins in Erebor again.
This becomes her new mission when she is not trying to wrangle feuding Sigin-tarâg into submission and it is disheartening that she finds the latter far easier to do.
But Fíli always flees the conversation with cries of duty calling and Kíli looks at his mother like she's crazy when she mentions taking a wife. Though in her defense, Dís might have been less persistent with her youngest if someone had bothered to mention the fact that Bilbo held his heart. But while their love may have been obvious to those who had seen them fall, the dwarrowdam is operating under misconceptions of friendship and does not recognize the truth before her eyes. At least not until she finally stumbles in on them.
That is an awkward morning.
Her first thoughts, after a startled: I didn't know my son could bend that way, lean rather toward murder, though she's not sure which of them she'd rather kill. But once her initial bloody urges have subsided, Dís decides to learn more about this halfling who dares to claim her child's love.
This Bilbo Baggins seems an odd fit at first impression, for the hobbit is polite and soft-spoken where her younger son is brash. He is a healer not a fighter but when Dís mentions this to Fíli, the dwarf laughs himself nearly to tears and he only howls louder at his mother's affronted glance. However, once her eldest regains control over his breathing, the dwarrowdam stands spellbound before the story that he tells her because this was an indeed a courtship to make the Valar proud.
Spellbound and skeptical for although she does not think her son would lie, it is difficult to believe that this small hobbit could have done all that Fíli claims. Yet even if his actions were more luck than skill, Bilbo is not without his merits and perhaps Erebor does not need more warriors anyway. Because their burglar has quite a gift for diplomatic dealings and his tongue cuts sharper than many blades.
So Dís grants Kíli her blessing, whatever doubts remain not worth his happiness, and the day that someone tries to kill her children, she learns that Mahal led her right. It is another council meeting, one of the necessary evils of running a kingdom, but this morning the dwarrowdam is losing her patience fast. For the attempt to broker an agreement between the guilds of forge and mine has stalled on bitter sniping and she is about to call a recess when one of the spectators pulls out an axe.
Everything has been peaceful since the last battle ended so no one is prepared for this attempt on their king and the dwarf is almost to the throne before anyone reacts. Dís is too far away to do more than watch as Kíli jumps in front of his brother and during the struggle that follows, the dwarrowdam cannot see who has the upper hand.
Until there is a meaty thunk and the assassin collapses to the floor with a scream, revealing Bilbo's weapon in his back. The halfling's snarl is as fierce as any warrior's and when he growls, “Do not touch my family!” the entire council shudders at the death in his voice. This is the hobbit who braved the Misty Mountains to rescue my youngest; this is the hobbit who lured the dragon out, Dís realizes and at last she truly understands the love in Kíli's eyes.
And to make all others aware of the penalty they face for doubting, she finds a bard to write their star-crossed ballad down.
If Kíli's relationship is to be properly respected, the clan must know that he chose well and so Dís will turn their love to legend. Thus the dwarrowdam makes Bilbo tell his story and when the bard has finished, The Prince and the Burglar is sung in every tavern and every dancing hall.
Her son is mortified of course and the hobbit spends a whole week blushing, but their embarrassment is a small price to pay for the new esteem in dwarven eyes. This is Dís' job after all, to keep her finger on the pulse of their people, and what better than a romance to win their hearts and minds? For the sons of Durin need such admiration to help support their young kingdom, particularly if Fíli persists on remaining without a spouse.
She does not understand his resistance because there are many lovely lads and lasses to choose from and his responsibilities would be much lighter shared. While Kíli and the others certainly help to ease the burden, her son needs a proper Queen or Consort and there is that matter of grandchildren to bear.
Though this is one more dream turned to ashes when Fíli finally explains the fear that binds him, the fear that he would pass on Thorin's madness to his son. “Ordak's curse did not create uncle's sickness, it only enhanced what lived inside him, and perhaps it would be best if the Elder Line of Durin ended now. Dáin's child seems sensible enough so I could leave him Erebor in good conscience, knowing that what I build will not be thrown away.”
Nothing that Dís says can convince him otherwise and all she can do is hope that her son will someday change his mind. All she can do is support Fíli's decision while never letting him see the pain his choice has caused her, another shattered hope now cast aside.
But time heals where it can and the dwarrowdam surprises herself one morning by smiling as she walks the battlements. It is strange to smile without the hint of sorrow that has been her companion for so long and it almost seems like a betrayal of all those who fell here.
Yet how can she wallow in misery when every day brings more dwarves to aid in their restoration, strong hearts filled with the promise of Erebor? How can Dís hate what her life has brought her when her sons are thriving and Kíli's whole being glows with love? He and his hobbit are truly adorable together, Bilbo's patience tempering the archer's wild spirit, and the hardest dwarven warriors cannot help but smile fondly when the two walk by.
Such love is all that Dís should need to know the future will be brighter, such love and the new cities that are rising from the bones of the old. For the halls of Erebor are nearly cleared of rubble and when she looks to Dale, every voice is raised in joyful song. So if these men can find the strength to hope after generations of living in the dragon's shadow, what is her excuse for holding tight to pain?
The dwarrowdam has none and with every day that passes, she is learning to release the nightmares of the past. She is learning to find joy in each bright moment and if this is not the life that she expected, perhaps it was her expectations which were wrong. Because even if her old ambitions are now bitter and broken, her brother off chasing glory in the deep, her children have found dreams of their own and Dís can ask no more than that.