Pairings: Many minor/implied pairings, including:[Spoilers]Ori/Dwalin, Dori/Bifur, Kíli/Bilbo, Thorin/Bilbo, Kíli/Tauriel, Fíli/Bard, Fíli/Legolas/Kíli, Fíli/Bilbo/Kíli, Bombur/Bilbo and implied Legolas/Tauriel amongst others.
Warnings: Crack deaths, lots of them; Some violence
Word Count: 3665
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit it would be seriously ridiculous
Summary: Ori is cursed to relive their journey until the company succeeds; it takes a very long time.
We almost make it this time but I should have known better than to get my hopes up before our quest was through. Because of course our fearless leader decides that he should be the one to face the dragon and that never could end well.
Indeed, all I hear is a string of furious cursing before a wave of fire sweeps down the mountain and my life resets again.
I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that our company was on its way to Erebor already and everything kept going wrong. For while we found allies in the elves of Rivendell, there were also trolls and goblins and stone giants and I had never before realized just how dangerous Arda was. Truly it seemed as though something wished to kill us around every corner and eventually our luck ran out.
It was the goblins who struck the final blow deep in the Misty Mountains, capturing our company whilst we were hiding from the storm. A cowardly way to strike but I must admit it was effective in its straightforward cravenness. The foul creatures took us before their king and although I tried to be brave, I cannot deny that my heart was pounding. How could it not when faced with such a monster? How could it not when faced with my demise?
Though the helpless expressions on my brothers' faces were somehow worse than the sight of the sword swinging towards me and I cried out their names as the weapon fell.
And then I woke up, my chest aching with a phantom echo of impalement and a scream on my lips. But I am safe in bed, here in a tavern on the edge of the Shire, Nori and Dori snoring across the way. I am safe and that dream was little more than a nightmare created by my nervousness. After all, I've never been on such an important journey and helping Thorin reclaim Erebor would go a long way toward restoring our family name. Not that Nori or Dori really seem to care that we're considered the Petty-dwarves of Durin's Folk but no one wants to hire a scholar with a legacy like that.
So this journey is my best chance for glory and I'm not going to let one silly nightmare threaten my resolve, even if I can't forget the taste of blood upon my lips. Even if I feel a strange sense of familiarity as we ride into Hobbiton, every flower and cobblestone pathway looking just as I expect.
Which is ridiculous because we haven't even met our burglar yet.
It wasn't a dream.
I think I'm starting to get the hang of this. After a few bad runs in the beginning - how was I supposed to know that hobbits couldn't swim - the dangers have become predictable and our company makes it to the Misty Mountains almost every time. Admittedly, it took me five tries to figure out how not to die at the hands of the Goblin King, but if promising the wizard a sweater makes him come back to rescue us, then I'll knit until my fingers bleed and like it.
Only now it seems that this optimism may have been misplaced. Because we defeat the goblins, the tunnels, and the mountains only to be attacked by warg-riders on the eastern slope. They trap us in the treetops like prey to be taken and when we will not rise to their taunting, they light the ground aflame.
I can see my death mirrored in the fire's scarlet glow but just when I think that all is lost again, Gandalf finds a miracle. He summons the Lord of the Eagles and his brethren, the great raptors snatching us from the jaws of danger like avenging Ainur and I could have stayed forever on their backs. Because the land spreads out below us in a tapestry of mountains and while dwarves were made for earthen glory, this one could love the sky. Just think how quickly our journey would be completed if we had such wings as these or if the eagles would consent to fly us home.
But these birds are proud folk and they cannot be used as beasts of burden, no more than Thorin would agree to drag a human's cart. So they circle down to land in the first light of dawn, leaving us on a rock spire near the Mirkwood's western edge while my friends clutch each other tight in relief.
And then, after we survive all that, well that's when Bofur gets eaten by a bear.
Some days you just want to drink yourself into a stupor and refuse to go outside. However, borrowing some ale off Dwalin probably would have been safer than trying to steal the elf lord's wine.
This is not fun at all. I don't know whether it's a curse or blessing but this strange magic refuses to wear off and I am getting very tired of watching my companions die. For that matter, getting killed myself isn't very pleasant and even if I always wake up afterward, the pain takes time to fade.
The weirdest part is that it doesn't matter which of us returns to Mahal, only that someone does, and yet I am the only one to remember that we've done all this before.
I am the only one who remembers anything and while this should give me an advantage, that doesn't seem to be the case. Because for every danger I manage to successfully avoid, another deadly obstacle springs up in its place. Orcs and trolls and wargs and giants and as I've just discovered: old men in white robes who go on violent rampages when you spill soup across their feet.
The Mirkwood fucking sucks.
Seriously, we've died more in this forest than in the first parts of our journey combined and there's no end in sight. If it isn't spiders, enormous terrifying spiders, it's cursed rivers and evil trees.
So in truth, I'm almost relieved to turn the corner and see elves standing with bows before me, because no matter how unpleasant I find Thranduil's dungeons, at least there's nothing deadly here. This is actually one of the few places on our journey where no one manages to die, though Thorin certainly makes a fine attempt.
Our leader has never been good at hiding his emotions, particularly not his hatreds, and the Mirkwood elves are some of his least favorite people in the world. So he goes out of his way to antagonize our captors, growling curses at every guard who walks by, and I can only imagine how his meeting with Thranduil might go. Indeed, it does not end with our freedom and I resign myself to discovering how it feels to starve to death.
But to my surprise, Bilbo appears only a few hours later, a grin on his face and keys in his hands. He leads us deep into the elf king's cellars, slipping us out beneath the guards' very noses and I have never been so happy to see the sky again.
Though when that sky is suddenly filled with arrows, I start to think we should have stayed to rot instead.
That almost I mentioned in my last life, that's for times like these. Times when Thorin manages to piss Bilbo off so much that the hobbit doesn't join us and the lot of us get swallowed whole. It takes a long time to die inside a troll, something which I would have been perfectly happy never to find out.
Although it is worn and wet and dirt, Laketown may be the most beautiful city that I have ever seen. Because the sight means that our company has finally survived the Mirkwood and at least now I know it's possible. Even if our entrance to the town is hardly auspicious, covered in fish and skulking about like thieves in the shadows, this is farther than we've ever traveled before.
This is progress and I didn't even have to get shot by orcs again. Indeed, for the first time in almost twenty lives, none of us are full of arrows – as long as you don't count that pesky shaft in Kíli's leg.
But hey, compared to some of the deaths that we've encountered, that little stick is nothing and I am definitely looking forward to sleeping in a bed. Or a cot or a floor or whatever this smuggler has to offer us. Although a bed would truly be preferable and Bard owes us that for what we've paid.
Even if Fíli could probably share his bed for free.
Of course, my hopes are sorely dashed when the company decides that burglary is much preferable to sleeping and I don't know why they couldn't just accept the boat-hooks that Bard tried to offer us. It's not as though the strongest swords would truly help against the dragon and at least that way we'd have a sharp stick or two in hand.
But no, Thorin just can't bear to wait another minute and I mean, sure, no one else knows that our chances are endless, but I wanted to enjoy my freedom while I could. I wanted to relax for at least one evening and my eyes grow teary when we are captured once more.
Damn Kíli and his accursed stumbling. Though in his defense that arrow may have been poisoned because after the Master of Laketown throws our company in prison, my young friend doesn't last through the night.
While burning to death is messy and painful and the smell lingers in my nose, somehow it is still far less annoying than watching Thorin stride off a cliff again.
I've become quite fond of my own particular cell in Thranduil's dungeons and this time when Bilbo comes to rescue us, I refuse to leave. Let the company go die again without me, I'm going to stay here for a few lives and enjoy the quiet while it lasts.
But of course, my brothers will not accept this decision without an argument and soon the entire company is trying to drag me from my cell. However, while I feel slightly guilty about the desperation on their faces, the memory of arrows piercing me is a far stronger weight right now. So I dig in my heels, refusing to budge with every fiber of my being and eventually the whole tangle collapses in a heap.
No, sorry. That was the floor. Curse these elves and their shoddy architecture.
I give up. Nothing I do seems to make any difference so I'm just going to enjoy myself instead. I'm going to drink and laugh and seduce half the company because at least this way I'll have a little fun before I die. Though in truth, I'll settle for just one.
Because knowing that no one will remember any of this on the next trip round somehow gives me the courage that I have always lacked and Dwalin tastes just as amazing as I thought he would.
Honestly, seducing the warrior turns out to be surprisingly easy so perhaps I'm not the only one who has been pining through the years. We manage to thoroughly scandalize my eldest brother when he stumbles upon us kissing in Rivendell and his sputtering is an interesting counterpoint to the soft touch of Dwalin's beard.
While the warrior would have stopped out of politeness, or maybe just embarrassment, I refuse to let him back away. Let Dori freak out as he will, this is the most fun I've had in ages and I'm not going to allow his fussiness to ruin anything.
Though I discover later that my brother walked back into camp, marched up to Bifur and declared, “I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming so you better kiss me now.”
After that this life becomes a bit ridiculous as every member of our company decides to throw caution to the wind. Suddenly everyone is following my example, declarations of their intentions occurring left and right, and the quest for Erebor quickly becomes a forgotten memory. Because Kíli won't leave his pretty elf and Bombur somehow wooed himself a hobbit and no matter how much Thorin threatens, our entire company is deadweight on the ground.
Actually, I've often wondered what would happen if we strode off the beaten path and now that the promise of sex has succeeded where all my best plans failed, I will finally have my chance. Even if I am far too busy enjoying the feel of Dwalin's muscles to give it the study it deserves.
Though if I had, all I would have discovered is that the Valar will not allow us to escape our fate this way. For I have only three glorious weeks with my fine warrior before the first wargs track us down.
VALAR DAMN IT, THORIN. STOP CHARGING THE GIANT ORC WHO WANTS TO CLAIM YOUR HEAD!!
It's fascinating how some things never change. Because for all the differences contained within each loop, I can track our journey by the hearts of my companions and I have grown to know them far better than I ever did before.
Our leader always starts off angry, seeming to hate the fact that we even need a burglar and cursing the hobbit's very name. But if we survive long enough for Bilbo to prove his courage, Thorin changes his tune gladly and the rest of the company is rarely far behind. Though Fíli and Kíli are usually the first to befriend him, often even before their uncle sees the light, and it no longer surprises me when they become inseparable.
Honestly, the princes fall in love and friendship far too fast and while the archer is more obvious about his crushes, Fíli's heart is lost just as easily. Some lives Kíli falls for Bilbo, some lives the elder falls for Bard and sometimes both of them are smitten by a random elf who just happens to walk by.
Yet even though their beloveds vary with each reset and the princes have a weird fondness for members of other races, I've never been able to doubt that their hearts are true. Because Fíli and Kíli are more alike than I used to believe and they love with the same burning selflessness. It makes them stupidly reckless and possessive and I swear that half our failures are entirely their fault.
Though to be fair, Nori is the only member of the company who has never perished, something which makes me strangely proud. My older brother has always been accomplished at survival and I find it comforting to know that he'll always be around.
Unlike Dwalin, who always charges forward with abandon and while I admire the warrior's courage, I sometimes wish he'd put more thought into the safety of his skin. He and all of our company's skilled fighters, those who are the first to enter every battle no matter which life I'm on. But at least I've finally had the time to know them in their softer moments, to discover all the things they used to hide.
So far I've learned that Bifur writes poems in Iglishmêk, Bombur likes to watch for rare birds out on the trail and Óin's level of deafness changes depending on whom he's talking to. So too I've found that Balin has a knack for juggling and Glóin is extremely ticklish upon his ankles, while Dwalin watches over Thorin like a father for his son. Every small tidbit of information is a jewel to my starved mind and I would have given up hope long ago if not for the anticipation of something new each time that I awake.
Because it soothes my pain to watch Nori pamper our ponies, my tough as nails brother turning into a softhearted fuss pot when one of them has a tangle in her tail. He reminds me much of Dori in these moments and even our eldest brother has secrets left to share.
Thus I watch and I learn and I know that no matter how often his stubbornness gets us killed, Thorin truly does care about every member of this company.
Trees should not have teeth.
Our leader's madness never becomes less creepy, no matter how often I am there to see its birth. It's almost painful to chart the shift in his expression, the slow fall from honor into a gold-tinged fury and the first time I saw him threaten Bilbo, all I could do was gape.
That was some lives ago and Fíli and Kíli were there with us to defuse their uncle's fury so we made it to the battle before any of our number died. However, this time the princes have been left behind in Laketown, the archer's injury seeping filth once more. They are meant to join us in Erebor once Kíli's wound has healed and while past experience has taught me that his survival is unlikely, my doubts do not matter anymore.
They do not matter because without his nephews here to help hold back the madness, Thorin throws their lover into the mines of Erebor.
Beorn may be my favorite person in the world. Except for that whole eating Bofur thing awhile back.
However, anyone who pours milk by the gallon is a friend in my eyes, particularly when he has the cutest ponies that I've ever seen. Besides, Gandalf swears Beorn is more or less an ally and I believe our wizard, despite the slightly disturbing contrast between our host's quiet voice and his huge skull-cracking hands. The skin-changer also doesn't seem to like Thorin very much, his glare enough to silence even our leader's stern pomposity.
Still, I am sure that Beorn hides a gentle heart beneath his gruff facade because no one who does not enjoy caring for others could have created such as feast as that I see. The selection is truly incredible, fruits and vegetables long past their season and I dig into the turnip bowl with glee.
It's amazing how food makes the world seem better, particularly such good food as this. Indeed everyone seems far more cheerful when we have finished and when Dwalin starts humming a tune under his breath, all I can think is that the warrior should really smile more. It makes him appear decades younger, hardly more than Nori's age, and a blush crawls up my face as he turns that grin my way.
I've always had a fondness for the other dwarf, a crush of sorts if you prefer, and all this time together has only made my admiration grow. But I am still too much of a coward to do anything about it because unlike our two wild princes, I've never been very good at saying what I feel.
Though perhaps when our journey has finally succeeded and this strange magic lets me be, perhaps then I will have the chance of which I've always dreamed. The chance for respect, for honor and maybe even love once Thorin Oakenshield is finally crowned King.
Only Kíli could manage to flirt with the one lady elf who has Thranduil's son on hand to stab her suitors in the back. Though at least this time I didn't have to watch Fíli make out with his guards.
Okay, that was a little premature. But I'm pretty sure we've got it this time as long as I can keep our dear leader from tripping on his way to the throne.
Though that shouldn't be too difficult now that he has Bilbo to watch his back, for the hobbit is much better at protecting Thorin than I've ever been. It's somewhat strange to see the two of them together after so many lives where they were hardly even friends, but they're so in love this time that it almost hurts to watch. Indeed, our burglar seems to be a good influence on the King Under the Mountain and perhaps that's why this company has finally survived.
Or perhaps it's due to Fíli and Kíli stealing themselves an elf prince who fights like a demon and somehow talked his father out of murdering us all.
Whatever the reason, I'm just glad we made it and I finally have a future to be looking forward to. Because surely now this curse must be lifted; surely now my friends and family will be safe until we return to Mahal's hall for good. So the next time that any of us die, I better be old and grey and famous, with a gaggle of dwarrowlings to tell our story to.
And it will be a fantastic story: the tale of Thorin's Company and how we made our dreams come true. How Nori, Dori and Ori rescued our family name from the scorn heaped upon it and earned the love of fine dwarves along the way.
I must admit that Dwalin is a far better prize than I dared to hope for when this journey first began so many lives ago, far better than glory and respect from Durin's Folk. Because he is brave and kind and honorable and somehow still loves me, so I know we will build ourselves a fine life in Erebor.
Though in the future, once Thorin passes his throne on to his nephews and no longer requires my lover at his side, I think that I would like to travel once again.
I would like to travel without the fear of dying every mile and Dwalin said he's always wanted to see the halls of Khazad-dûm.
You know, I think it is a blessing after all.