Title: Foundations of Sorrow, Kingdom of Ash
Characters/Pairings: Unconsummated Thilbo and mostly platonic het
Warnings: Somewhat implied by the topic, but character death and angst
Word Count: 2921
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Not created for profit. The Hobbit does not belong to me, etc. etc.
Summary: BAMF! Dis becomes queen under the mountain after the BoFA
She had never wanted to be queen.
She had never wanted to be the last.
No one had the heart to tell her when she arrived on the battlefield's edge. No one had the courage to meet her eyes as she looked for her sons in the crowd. But when Dís arrived on her brother's deathbed and saw only Dáin and a hobbit at his side, she knew her children's fate.
She swayed then, holding back her tears with fury, for Thorin had sworn to her that he would keep his nephews safe.
“Leave us,” Dís ordered when Dáin moved to speak, choking on her rage and the red haze that filled her vision. The Lord of the Iron Hills recoiled from the malice in her voice and quickly fled the tent, but the hobbit sat there numbly, arms curled around his knees.
Dismissing him as unimportant, Dís approached the bed and drew breath to speak her wrongs, but the words died within her when she looked upon her brother's ravaged face.
There was pain there, etched in lines across Thorin's clammy brow, but as his eyes opened it was the endless guilt within them that quenched the fire of her hate. And when he whispered, “I am sorry, sister,” Dís crumpled to her knees beside his bed, for without fury there was only the despair. Thorin touched her shoulder gently, offering what comfort that he could, before turning to the hobbit at his side.
“You came. Do you forgive me then?”
“Forgive you?” Bilbo's head came up in surprise. “I betrayed you! I thought...I thought you never wanted to see me again.”
“Never my dear hobbit. Never. Those words were spoken in anger and in madness and I would take them back if I could,” Thorin smiled sadly. “My mind is clear now and I know you only meant it for the best.”
“I just didn't want you to die...I didn't want anyone to die, but it went all wrong.” Bilbo whispered, wringing his hands.
Thorin reached out and placed his hand against the hobbit's cheek, wiping away a tear. “None of us wanted our journey to end as it did. But better fight and die with honor than perish locked within the mountain, sick with hoarded gold. I only wish that my nephews had lived to see this day, and that we had had more time.”
The pain in her brother's voice drew Dís from her grief and she grasped his hand tightly as Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain, exhaled one last time and passed into Mahal's embrace. A strangled sob beside her drew Dís' attention and at the desolation in the hobbit's eyes she finally understood. We are both widows of Erebor, Dís thought and gathered Bilbo into her arms as they succumbed to their shared grief.
Hours passed, lost in mourning, until movement at the entrance of the tent pulled Dís from her stupor. She watched numbly as Dáin entered and walked up to the bed, looking down at the body of the king. The dwarf lord reached out slowly, an odd light shining in his eyes, and when his grasping hand touched her brother's crown, Dís felt something snap inside.
“That is not yours.”
Dáin turned toward her, face tightening into a frown, “Thorin is dead, Dís. I know you grieve for your brother and your sons but his people need a leader if we are to return Erebor to its former glory. Is that not what you want? ”
“Do not presume to tell me what I want.” Dís released Bilbo and rose, piercing Dáin with a penetrating glare. “Do not presume to tell me what my people need. Where were you when Smaug destroyed our homeland? Where were you when Thorin called for allies in his quest? You were hiding. Hiding in the Iron Hills while I acted as Regent for my people and the House of Durin reclaimed its ancient home. It was only once the beast was dead and Erebor's gold ripe for the taking that you came to my brother's aid, and now you seek to claim the treasure that my family's deaths have won.”
Dáin reddened in anger, fists clenching at his sides, “Why should I not be king? Why should I not claim it? Will you give it to Thorin's hobbit burglar so that he may pass it to our enemies as he gave away the Arkenstone? Better Erebor's treasure go to me than to the Lake-men, or those misbegotten elves.”
As he reached for the crown again, Dís drew Orcrist from where it lay against the bed and held the blade to the dwarf lord's throat. Her hands were steady and her voice unyielding.
“You forget your place Dáin Ironfoot. I am Dís, daughter of Thráin, son of Thrór, of the House of Durin the Deathless and you will take your hand off my crown.”
“You will regret this.” Dáin snarled, backing towards the flap. “You will rue the day you kept me from my prize. For who will you turn to to rebuild your kingdom after I have led my people home. And when your rule fails and Erebor falls to ruin, no matter how you beg, no matter how you plead, no one will protect you from my wrath.”
Dís stood unblinking as the dwarf lord fled the tent, before sheathing Orcrist with a sigh. I do not wish to be queen, and perhaps Dáin is right and this will end in wrath and ruin. But I could not stand by and watch him steal the kingdom that my sons bought with blood.
“Will you stay?” She asked, turning to the hobbit who watched her still with wide and haunted eyes.
“Stay? Here? But how can I when...I can't,” Bilbo replied, staring mournfully where Thorin lay. “Not without him.”
“That is why you must. Help me, help me build him a legacy that he would have been proud of. Let us show Dáin that my people are not as weak as he thinks, and that the House of Durin still has friends in this world.” Dís reached out and clasped the hobbit's hands between her own, staring at him with pleading eyes.
“We will rebuild Erebor from the ashes of our sorrow, build a kingdom that will honor those we lost. I can do it without you, and I will if I must, but this burden would be lighter if shared.”
Bilbo was silent a long moment before he nodded slowly. “I will help you in any way I can.”
“Thank you,” Dís whispered, pulling the hobbit to his feet and throwing Orcrist over her shoulder. Then she lifted Thorin's crown from his head and placed it on her own, the weight of it a bitter vow.
“Come my dear Bilbo, there is much to be done.”
The days that followed were some of the hardest Dís had ever known, harder even then those long years after the dragon cast her people to the wind.
When the surviving members of Thorin's company chose to support her claim, Dáin carried out his threat, waiting only until the last of his dead were buried before returning to the Iron Hills. Though some of his people decided to remain, swearing their loyalty to Dís without complaint, they were few in number, far too few to deal with the legions of wounded and dead.
As she knew she would, Dís found herself turning to men and elves for aid and it was here that Bilbo was invaluable. For though Bard and Thranduil were unsure of Erebor's new-found queen, the hobbit was a friend and ally and when he spoke they listened.
It was for him that they sent her overtures of peace, and when Dís kept Bilbo's bargain and asked nothing in exchange, the great rift between their peoples began to heal.
And thus it came to pass that when Dís buried her brother, members of all races stood beside her to offer their respect. She buried Thorin in a tomb under the mountain, in the resting place of Erebor's fallen kings. She buried her brother with his nephews beside him, finding small comfort in the knowledge that they would not be alone.
There was no grand memorial, just a grief-filled quiet as the last of Thorin's company placed each of their fellows gently within his tomb. The bodies had been cleaned and dressed in armor as befitted warrior kings, and were buried with their possessions, save only for Orcrist and the silver clasps Dís had taken from Kíli and Fíli's hair.
“This should stay with Thorin,” Bard's voice broke the silence as he drew out the Arkenstone, its soft silver light filling the hall. The man looked to Dís for permission but she did not acknowledge him, eyes locked on the glowing stone.
Is this it, is this what they died for? she thought, suddenly filled with a bottomless hate. A pretty stone, a pretty useless stone that drips with the blood of my children. Thrór's madness has claimed too many of my kinsmen, sick with lust for gold and gemstones just like this. Let it stay here with my brother, let it pass into the dark and leave us all in peace.
It was Bilbo who nodded as Dís stood paralyzed by hatred, freeing Bard to place the stone on Thorin's chest. It was Bilbo who stood by her as the tombs were sealed and each member of the funeral party paid their last respects. And the two leaned on each other as they went back to their duties, hearts left within the stone.
Life went on, but the progress of rebuilding was achingly slow. At Bilbo's urging Dís allowed Bard to begin the restoration of Dale, but while this earned his undying friendship, it left few men free to toil in Erebor's halls. Soon too Thranduil was forced to return to his kingdom and though he offered what aid he could, only dwarves had the skill to heal such shattered stone.
Dís had left her people in her husband's care on the long road from the Blue Mountains, riding far and fast to reach her king. But with each day that passed without word or sight of Jirilí, Dís felt a chill grow within her, for the message that she sent should have reached them long before.
Yet she was queen, and queens may not display their fear in such desperate times, so she waited, she made do, and she missed her husband dearly.
And when the blow came, it was swift and terrible.
Dís was standing at the gate when she heard them, the great horns blowing deep and low that proclaimed the arrival of her clan. She turned joyfully toward the sound to see the first riders crest the hill, long banners streaming in the wind. At the sight, Dís felt the knot of fear within her ease, for surely now the future would be bright.
But when she rode to meet them, there was no joy upon their faces and when she came to greet him, Jirilí was not there.
It was his cousin who told her what had happened, told her of the madness that took her husband in his grief. For though her message had not spoken of their private sorrow, he had known the route the crown must take to lie across her brow and in his anguish he threw himself from the peak of Aren-Dor.
Under the weight of these words, Dís almost buckled, only the hobbit beside her keeping her up. She shook her head numbly, first denying the message, for accepting its truth only promised despair. But Dís knew her duty, and she would fulfill it, so she forced herself upright and forced her voice calm.
“Where is his body?” Dís asked his cousin, a slight tremble the only sign of the turmoil in her heart. But even in this, her hopes would be broken, as the dwarf before her slowly shook his head.
“I am sorry my queen. We could not recover it, though we stayed as long as we dared. That is why we are late, the attempts cost us much time. This here is all I could find.” He held out his hand and gave Dís a bright spark of shining silver, the circlet that Jirilí had worn.
Though the weight of it was a wound upon her soul, Dís held herself together to bring her people home. Only once the day was over did she allow her knees to weaken, stumbling into the small chamber she and Bilbo shared as they waited for their chosen rooms to clear.
That night Dís was grateful for his presence, for the hobbit understood her all-consuming grief. He offered her no platitudes to try and lessen her dark sorrow, just the solid comfort of another mourning soul.
Widows of Erebor indeed, she thought at the knowing in his eyes, and this time Bilbo held her as she wept for her soft-hearted husband and the last bright piece of her world.
Years passed and though the crown remained a bitter weight, Dís lost herself in ruling and Erebor grew in strength and power. Her people prospered, as did her allies, and the Queen Under the Mountain grew famous far and wide. The survivors of Thorin's company made up the foundation of her court and though some left with Balin to reclaim Moria, Bilbo remained always by her side. He was Dís' most trusted adviser, her emissary to the lords of Dale and Mirkwood, and her friend, the only one she allowed herself to have.
Only with Bilbo could Dís drop her guard and voice her fears and sorrow, for only he knew and shared her driving purpose. Only he knew that although she loved her people, she guarded Erebor not as a kingdom, but as a living monument to their unrelenting grief.
Many sleepless nights the two talked together, for they found some small comfort in their shared pain. And it was on one of these nights that Dís thought upon her kingdom and realized she had one final duty to fulfill.
“Marry me,” she said, turning toward the hobbit where he sat against the window.
“What? No! Why would you ask that?” was the horrified reply.
“We rebuilt this kingdom on foundations of blood and rivers of sorrow and we have done right by our glorious dead. But if I die without an heir, Erebor will fall to Dáin and though he may rule the Lonely Mountain well he will not love it. He will not honor my brother or my sons and all our long years of sacrifice will come to naught unless my line continues.”
“And so it must, but in case you have forgotten, I'm a hobbit.”
“I have not forgotten. Hobbits and dwarves are close enough kin that our children would be recognized as Durin's heirs. And better you than one who does not understand.”
“Dís! I can't...you know why I can't.” Bilbo refused desperately, shaking his head.
Her voice was soft, but implacable.
“I know you loved my brother, just as I loved Jirilí. But I will not marry another dwarf, not with Thrór's weakness in my blood. If my children prize food and cheer and friendship above hoarded gold and treasure then I know Erebor will survive long after my death. So you see, it must be you. One final sacrifice and then we both can rest.”
Dís waited calmly for Bilbo's answer, knowing in her heart that he would not fail her now. And she was right, for when he finally replied it was only to say,
“Once more then, once more for our dead.”
And so Dís, daughter of Thráin, Queen Under the Mountain married the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, thirty-seven years after she first took the crown. They ruled as wisely together as they had apart and so began the Second Golden Age of Erebor.
And if their marriage bed was often vacant and their hearts were filled with ghosts, no one could say that they did not do their duty. For Dís bore three children to carry on her line and the halls beneath the mountain were filled with laughter and with light.
First was Thorin III, her eldest and her heir, who was the image of his mother in visage and in stature but bore his father's brave kindness in his heart. He was followed by twin sisters, as different as night and day yet never far apart. Dís named them Fíli II and Kíli II, and taught them all she knew, and they grew to be fine warriors and fine wives.
So the dwarf queen and her hobbit died with smiles on their faces, knowing that Dáin's prophecy would never come to pass. Instead, Erebor would prosper greatly under the reign of Thorin III, for though he loved its treasure he loved his people more.
His parents' funeral was magnificent, the finest ever seen. Their memories were honored by all those their lives had touched, and the celebration lasted through day and dark and dawn.
Then they were buried with their hearts in the tombs of Erebor.