Antarctica-or-bust (rata_toskr) wrote,

This Long and Winding Road - Chapter 8

Title: This Long and Winding Road
Chapter 8: Gimon
Pairings: Mostly Platonic Kíli/Fíli, Kíli/Bilbo/Fíli, Dwalin/Ori, Dwalin/Nori, Bilbo/Thorin, minor and background pairings
Rating/Warnings: None for this part unless you count epic amounts of pining
Word Count: 5240 (44,118 so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, there would be more threesomes.
Summary: Fíli and Kíli have spent decades searching for the last piece of their hearts, but meeting Bilbo is just the beginning of the tale.  Because hobbits believe in love, not destiny and someone else catches their burglar's eye.

Chapter 1: Ze'                           Chapter 6: Ges
Chapter 2: Nu'                           Chapter 7: Haded
Chapter 3: Gem
Chapter 4: Ramekh
Chapter 5: Gamekh

The hours pass slowly, thirteen dwarves and a hobbit keeping themselves occupied as best they can. Some dwarves talk, some listen and some doze, while their leader falls to brooding and Fíli tends to his brother with Óin's help.

Now that he has time, the prince wants to clean Kíli's wound properly. He asks Sigrid for a strip of cloth and some hot water while he and Óin roll up the archer's trouser leg. Fíli removes the bandage with some effort, his amrâbulnas wincing sharply as the bloody fabric sticks to his skin. Kíli's injury does not look much better, strange black-flecked blood still seeping from the wound. When Fíli looks to Óin, the healer can only shake his head, washing the gash thoroughly and then helping the prince wrap up his brother's leg again.

Once that task is finished, Óin moves to sit by Balin and Fíli is left rather at loose ends. He paces back and forth, asking Kíli if he needs anything every twenty minutes until the archer can't help but roll his eyes. He loves his amrâbulnas, he really does, but the pain in his leg isn't helped by Fíli's hovering.

Kíli will manage somehow. He has to, so he will. Thorin doesn't need to know how weak the younger prince is feeling now.

If his uncle realizes the truth then he might order his sister-sons to stay behind when the rest of their companions go to face the dragon. The dwarf lord has already shown his impatience with Kíli's injury and the archer hasn't spent weeks watching Bilbo fall in love with Thorin only to falter now. If Smaug still lives, Kíli and his brother must be there when he wakes. They must be there to fight the creature that stole their people's legacy.

So the archer paints a smile on his face to try and cover up the pain. Kíli smiles because he won't allow himself to cry when Fíli is already fraying around the edges, his worry a dull ache inside the younger prince's chest.

Both of them are suffering and their companions hate to see it. Those dwarves who have amrâbulnâs of their own see their worst fears realized and even those who don't cannot miss the change in Kíli's energy or the dismay in Fíli's eyes.

However, the other dwarves can't help their princes. Even Óin's skill is limited without his herbs and ointments and Thranduil's elves stole everything when Thorin's company was captured in the wood.

“Lass, can you assist me?” Óin asks Bard's eldest daughter, hoping that the girl may know where he can find more supplies. But while Sigrid is willing to help, she does not recognize the herbs that he describes. Either the Lakemen do not have such plants or they use different names and without them, the healer cannot even try to ease the archer's pain. Óin hasn't felt so useless since Azanulbizar, since death and suffering nearly overwhelmed him and he failed to save the princes' father from his injuries.

“It's not your fault,” Bofur tells the older dwarf as he sits down at his side. “Those damn orcs are the ones to blame for Kíli's suffering and once we reach the Lonely Mountain, you'll be able to do more.”

“I hope you're right. I really do,” Óin replies despondently. “But if Smaug has torched the storerooms then our prince has little chance, not if his symptoms truly point to what I fear. We're going to lose both of them, Kíli and his brother, but Thorin hardly seems to care.”

“Maybe he doesn't realize how badly Kíli's injured,” Bofur says optimistically. The miner could be right, but Óin isn't the only dwarf who's worried about their leader's state of mind.

“I do not like this plan,” Dwalin mutters to Nori and Ori quietly. The younger dwarf is patching up their tunics while his husband and his brother try to turn some of Bard's tools into decent weaponry. “We are not thieves to skulk about at nighttime and steal the things we need.”

“Speak for yourself,” Nori retorts, though he relents when Dwalin glares. “I'll admit that this isn't Thorin's style. But we do not have the coin to barter so I see no other choice.”

“Perhaps Thorin means to repay the Master once Azsâlul'abad has been retaken,” Ori offers hopefully. “From the stories that you’ve told me, there should be gold enough. We could buy all of Laketown with the treasure that the dragon stole from us.”

“Maybe. But there would be no need for subterfuge if that were his design,” Nori tells his brother. “I've heard that the Master of Laketown would sell off his own mother if the price were right and Thorin could promise him a portion of the mountain's gold in exchange for aid right now. With us taking all the risk, the Master would have no reason to refuse. And if Thorin truly means to rob him, he should have asked for my advice.”

“I wish you wouldn't talk like that,” Dwalin says with a sigh. The warrior has never been entirely comfortable with Nori's alternate profession. While he admires the other dwarf's abilities, he dreads the day that his amrâbulnas steals something that he shouldn't. Leading Nori to the executioner would be the ruin of him and Dwalin's control is already starting to crack after so many weeks in his second amrâbulnas' company. “Why can't you just stick with glassblowing? You know you have the skill.”

“I admit that I enjoy it. But I get bored too easily,” Nori says, testing a crow-bill in his hands. “And you really needn't worry. It's not as though Thrór's guards came close to catching me back then.”

“Your luck won't last forever,” Dwalin retorts. “Can't you even try to find a legal outlet for your boredom? Our new king will need a spymaster and I could put in a good word.”

“You know, that doesn't sound too awful,” Nori muses. “Can I think about it?”

“He'll take the job,” Ori interrupts as he looks up from his darning. “If you don't, Nori, then I'll set Dori on you and we all know how that would end.”

“That is blackmail, little brother.”

“Yes, it is. You've taught me well. So suck it up and say that you'll retire. I'm tired of you running off for years on end; I hate not knowing when you might be in danger and I'm sure that my husband here agrees.”

“Fine then,” Nori sighs. “You win, the both of you. But don't forget, none of that will matter if Smaug just kills us all.”

He has a point but it's not one that Dwalin and Ori truly wish to think about and soon their conversation turns to other things. Indeed, most of the dwarves have been trying not to think about the dragon ever since their journey started.

Thorin told only Balin and Gandalf of his plan to steal the Arkenstone and then raise a dwarven army. The rest of his companions have been bolstering their courage with a combination of blind faith and loyalty. Although there is something to be said for the power of denial, the Lonely Mountain is drawing ever closer and even Balin is starting to feel misgivings about their leader's plan.

This quest seemed so simple back in the Blue Mountains. Hire a burglar and escort him to Azsâlul'abad. Send him inside to steal the Arkenstone and if Smaug woke up to eat him, that would be no great loss. At least the dwarves would know for certain that their enemy survived.

The problem now is Bilbo. Balin likes Bilbo and while the hobbit has proved himself both brave and clever, Thorin cannot truly expect him to face a dragon on his own. The hobbit won't stand a chance if Smaug still lives within the mountain and Balin doesn't want to believe that Thorin is willing to sacrifice his beloved for his throne. But then again, the dwarf can hardly believe that his old friend is planning a burglary right now.

“Do you truly intend to steal the Master's weapons?” Balin asks quietly. “Iron-forged or not, they won't help us fight the dragon. We have as much chance of killing the great wyrm with a crow-bill as with an elvish broadsword and I cannot advise you to antagonize Laketown needlessly.”

“I will not be defenseless,” Thorin growls back. “We must be ready to avenge our burglar if he should fail his mission. I will not have Bilbo die in vain.”

“I would hope you mean to save him,” Balin replies a little sharply. That is not how Thorin should be speaking of the one he plans to court.

“Yes, of course,” the other dwarf agrees, shaking his head sharply as though to chase away dark thoughts. “I will not see Bilbo harmed. But the hobbit is our burglar and I cannot turn aside. I must reclaim the Lonely Mountain for our people – that is my duty, Balin – and so Bilbo must attempt the job that we contracted. However, as long as he tries his best, his failure would not alter the feelings in my heart.”

“Pretty words. But I am not the one who needs to hear them,” Balin tells Thorin and then tilts his head toward Bilbo. The hobbit is sitting by the fire, entertaining Bard's son and younger daughter with stories of his home. But even as his hands paint pictures in the air, Bilbo keeps glancing at the dwarf lord longingly.

“You are right again, old friend. Will you excuse me?” Thorin asks and Balin smiles, waving his friend forward with a bow. The other dwarf moves to stand by Bilbo, waiting until the hobbit has finished his last story before he interrupts.

“May we speak?” he asks the burglar quietly.

“Oh, of course. Whatever you want,” Bilbo exclaims, jumping to his feet. Thorin walks to the far corner of the house and Bilbo follows, the two of them settling on the window seat. Although it isn't entirely private, no one else should be able to hear their conversation if they talk quietly and the hobbit smiles when the dwarf lord grabs his hand.

“I should not have kissed you,” Thorin tells his burglar and Bilbo flinches sharply; he was not expecting that. But the dwarf does not let go and when he continues speaking, his words quickly soothe the hobbit's heart.

“I do wish to court you, Bilbo. If you agree to have me, I will pledge my troth the moment that my kingdom is reclaimed. But until then you must be my burglar instead of my beloved. I cannot plan our strategy if I am distracted and I am afraid that you distract me terribly. This is not a mark against you, Bilbo. Please, you must know that. I care about you greatly and I would not see you harmed.”

“I understand, Thorin. Of course, I understand,” Bilbo answers, stroking the dwarf lord's palm. “I care about you too and I will be honored to accept your promise once our quest is done.”

The hobbit is slightly disappointed but he can't refuse this plea. Thorin bares his heart so rarely that each glimpse is a treasure and Bilbo knows how much Erebor means to his beloved. The burglar may be nervous about facing Smaug within the mountain, but he does not intend to flee.

He has found his courage over the course of their long journey. His courage and a magic ring to boost his bravery. Having a trick up his sleeve is comforting even if turning invisible does strange things to the hobbit's senses. Better to feel dull and empty than be eaten by a dragon and this is Bilbo's moment in the sun. This is the burglar's chance to prove that Thorin made the right decision picking him.

So he kisses the dwarf lord on the cheek and then climbs back to his feet. The hobbit leaves Thorin with a smile before returning to Tilda by the fire, her face lighting up when he begins another tale.

Thorin watches Bilbo for a moment, his affection for the burglar a warm ember in his chest. Then the dwarf takes a look around Bard's house to check on the rest of his companions. His eyes find Dwalin, Nori, and Ori laughing with each other over the human's shoddy weapons, the captain of his guard doing his best to turn castoffs into gold. Meanwhile, Óin and Bofur are having a surprisingly animated conversation with the bargeman's older daughter as Bain and Bard look on. A few feet away, Bifur has pulled out a piece of wood and a small knife from somewhere, the dwarf carving a new toy skillful hands. On Bifur's other side, Dori, Glóin, and Bombur are attempting to fix their hair with varying levels of success while Balin is sitting right where the dwarf lord left him. His expression is pensive as he stares out the window and Thorin feels a wave of fondness for his old friend.

Balin should have been a scholar in Azsâlul'abad, teaching the next generation about their people's history. All of Thorin's companions should be at home with their own families; it's only love and loyalty that has brought them all this far.

Speaking of family, the dwarf lord's sister-sons are not sitting with the others. Thorin looks around the room until he finds the pair tucked back in a corner and then climbs to his feet. He needs to check on Kíli's injury.

If Bilbo fails and the dwarves are forced battle Smaug within the mountain, Thorin's companions must be at their full strength. If Kíli cannot stand at Fíli's shoulder, then the dwarf lord's younger sister-son will just distract his brother and the wyrm would surely take advantage of such an opening. Dragons are cruel creatures and Smaug is the cruelest of them all; he would revel in the chance to break amrâbulnâs. He would shatter Fíli gladly and then revel in his pain.

“How are you, Kíli?” Thorin asks quietly.

“I will survive, uncle. And I'll be all right by morning, I promise. I will not let you down,” his sister-son replies. The archer's words are earnest but the dwarf lord can't believe them when he sees the stress on Kíli's face. For all the prince's skill, he really should not be here. He and his brother are much too young for this. Perhaps Thorin should order both of them to stay behind.

After all, the first sight of the Arkenstone belongs to me alone, a stray thought whispers through his mind. Otherwise Fíli might get ideas about usurping my position. And I did promise Dís that I'd protect them, did I not? Better to leave them here in Laketown until the day is won; we must travel quickly now and Kíli will slow us down. And yet... who knows what bargains might be made while I am gone?

The Master of Laketown holds no allegiance to the rightful King Under the Mountain. He would accept any claim in exchange for a share of treasure and Fíli has always had a knack for charming men. The prince's disarming smile has tilted many negotiations in his favor and so perhaps it would be safer if Thorin kept his heir right at his side. Better to keep Fíli pinned beneath his watchful eye where the prince cannot be tempted to take what is not his. Keep him close and weak without his amrâbulnas nearby.

This plan makes a certain sense, Thorin can't deny it. But he knows that the rest of his companions probably wouldn't understand. Thus, the dwarf lord reveals nothing of his thoughts or scheming; he just lays a gentle hand on Kíli's shoulder now.

“I am glad that you are feeling better,” Thorin tells the archer. “Rest now, the both of you. You will need to be ready later on.”

“Of course, uncle,” Kíli tells him with a faint smile. His sister-son's expression is so trusting that the dwarf lord feels a little guilty for his thoughts. The younger prince would never work against him – he doesn't have the brains for double-dealing – and Fíli would not betray his brother; as long as they're together, Thorin should not doubt their loyalty.

“Take care of your husband, Fíli, like you always do,” Thorin says and Fíli nods resolutely. “If you need me, I will be with Balin. We need to discuss our strategy.”

As the dwarf lord turns to leave, he glances out the window next to Kíli's head and what he sees in the distance makes him stop short in surprise.

“Uncle? Are you all right?”

“Yes, Fíli,” Thorin replies. “I just saw something unexpected. It seems the Master of Laketown has chosen to decorate his house with a dwarvish wind-lance, though I did not know that any of those weapons still remained. I have not seen a wind-lance in many years. Not since the city of Dale was burned by dragon fire and Lord Girion made his last stand against the beast.”

“The man fought Smaug?” Kíli asks in surprise. The prince thought that he and Fíli knew every story about the loss of Azsâlul'abad, but neither dwarf has ever heard this tale before. Perhaps their uncle had not wanted to admit that Girion stood against the dragon; he may have failed but he'd shown courage that many dwarves did not.

“Indeed, my sister-son,” Thorin tells him gravely. “Girion took the Black Arrows that our kin had forged for that great weapon and he loosed them fruitlessly. If the aim of men had been true that day, many things would be different.”

His voice grows a little louder with each word, the pain of old memories washing over him. The dwarf lord will never forget the way his people screamed in agony, the sound of their flesh sizzling as their lives snuffed out.

“You speak as though you were there.”

Thorin turns to see Bard looking down at him. He must have spoken louder than he'd realized if the bargeman heard him, but there's no point in denying the truth now.

“Yes, I was there. All of us were there except for Kíli who had not yet been born. My sister-son only lives now by the luck of the Valar; his brother Fíli was in the womb when my sister fled the dragon and both of them were nearly burned to ashes where they stood. So yes, bargeman, I saw the slaughter that Smaug brought upon our people. I remember those dark days and the losses that we suffered when the great wyrm came. Lord Girion was brave, I won't deny that, but his failure doomed us all.”

“It wasn't his fault!” Bain interrupts before Bard can respond. “If you were really there then you would know that Girion hit the dragon. He struck Smaug in the chest and loosed a scale above his heart. If the tower underneath Girion's feet had not collapsed before he took his final shot, then the dragon would have died.”

Thorin opens his mouth to teach the boy some manners, a hard knot of anger rising in his chest. Bain should know better than to eavesdrop on his elders and this boy does not understand the dwarf lord's pain. Bain hasn't seen death or true destruction; he may have known hunger but he does not know despair.

“Peace, Thorin,” Balin says, grabbing the dwarf lord's arm. “Leave the lad to his illusions. The Lakemen have been living in Erebor's shadow for generations; don't begrudge their children hope.”

Thorin wants to snarl. But Balin holds his gaze with a quiet strength that silences his insults and keeps his rage lodged in his throat. This isn't the time or place for the dwarf to lose control; these aren't the enemies that he truly wants to fight.

The Lakemen do not understand the pain of Thorin's people because the dragon is nothing but a legend in their minds, a ghost story that they tell their children when the mountain shakes at night. None of these men were alive when Smaug destroyed Thrór's kingdom and it's not fair to blame the boy for speaking of his ancestor's bravery.

But Thorin still wants to hit him.

So the dwarf lord yanks his arm free, his glare silencing Balin before he can offer more advice. Thorin can feel everyone staring at him – Bard, his children, Fíli, Kíli, and rest of his companions – and the sensation makes him cringe. His grief is closer to the surface than it has been for many years and he does not need an audience to watch him fall apart. The dwarf spins sharply on his heel and stalks to the far corner of Bard's house. He glares out the window blindly, the tense set of his shoulders warning everyone away.

Although, in truth, most of Thorin's audience is too shocked to think of following. Most of the dwarves are gaping at their leader's back – few of them have ever seen him lose control like that.

Only Fíli and Kíli are more interested in the Lakemen's story than with their uncle's state of mind. If Bain spoke truth then Smaug may now be vulnerable; a missing scale is a weakness that the princes can exploit and Kíli is sure that he can find a bow in Laketown's armory.

In contrast, Bard is staring after Thorin with a spark of recognition. The sorrow in his words resonated inside the bargeman's heart, echoing the grief that Bard has felt since the day that his wife died. However, despite a twinge of sympathy, it's the dwarf's name that leaves the man unsettled; Bard has heard that name before.

He can’t remember where exactly, but the context must have something to do with Erebor. Bard would not have remembered Thorin's name if it were not important and few dwarves have been remembered down through Laketown’s history. Very, very few and if this Thorin is a member of the Lonely Mountain's royal family, he and his companions cannot possibly be merchants heading to the Iron Hills. Every tale agrees that the dwarves of Erebor are the proudest of their brethren and their prince would only be in Laketown to reclaim his family's crown.

Which would be ill news indeed, Bard thinks as he looks around his home. Such a small company cannot hope to kill Smaug when the full might of two kingdoms failed to touch him and if these dwarves mean to steal the dragon’s treasure before fleeing, Laketown will pay the price.

No wyrm would allow such a theft to go unpunished and Smaug is unlikely to care that the men are innocent. A dragon in a rage could destroy this city easily.

However, the bargeman has no proof and he can't confront the dwarves on the strength of his suspicions. If this Thorin is trying to reclaim his homeland, Bard will need to plan his words out carefully. If he cannot convince the dwarves to turn aside then he will be forced to take his worries to the Master and he will not do that without utter certainty.

Dealing with the Master is the bargeman's last resort. That man is an utter bastard and he despises Bard enough to ignore him out of spite. But the bowman will swallow his pride in order to save his children; Sigrid, Bain, and Tilda are worth anything.

Although... Bard thinks, glancing at the ceiling. His ancestor's last Black Arrow has been hidden in the rafters there for decades, ever since he and his wife first moved into this house. If Bard took down that weapon, perhaps he could face the dragon. Perhaps he could restore honor to the line of Girion by completing the last task that the lord of Dale had left undone.

But, no, that is foolishness, Bard tells himself. Although he is quite skilled with bow and arrow, he has never used a wind-lance and he won't risk his children's lives on such a chance. Not unless he has exhausted all other avenues.

“Watch our guests, Bain, and listen if they speak about the Lonely Mountain. I would know their purpose here,” the bargeman says, pulling his son aside. “Do not let them leave ‘til I return.”

“Of course, da,” Bain promises. “But where are you going?”

“To find the truth,” Bard replies before running out the door. It’s late enough that the Master’s spies shouldn’t care about his passage and it’s not as though he’s doing anything illegal anyway. However, the lateness of the hour means that Bard doesn’t have much time before his guests get restless and while he doesn’t doubt Bain’s heart, his son will be rather seriously outnumbered if the dwarves prove belligerent.

So the man hurries through the floating streets of Laketown as quickly as he can. The sun has not set completely and the streets have yet to empty, fisherman and shopkeepers dealing with the last business of the day. Bard sees several of his neighbors amongst that number and he gives each a nod in greeting although he doesn’t stop.

Eventually the bowman’s feet bring him to his destination: a small shop with a sign proclaiming Books and Other Sundries hanging by the door. If anyone can confirm his suspicions, it will be old Denten. The shopkeeper often complains about low sales on books and histories – he makes his living from more practical wares – but he refuses to throw out a damn thing anyway.

When Bard enters the shop, he makes his way straight to the far corner where Denten keeps a pile of old tapestries. The bargeman has a faint memory of seeing a family tree some weeks ago, the only record of Erebor’s royal line that he’s aware of, and he wishes that he'd paid more attention at the time. But Bard never thought he'd actually need to know the names of Thrór's descendants; he never thought that anyone would be stupid enough to challenge Smaug for Erebor.

“Damn it, where is it?” Bard mutters, tossing another tapestry aside. He's careful not to damage the fabric – he has better uses for his coin than fancy decorations – and he lets out a cry of triumph when he spies a shock of blue.

That's the color of royalty, that deep dark indigo to match the evening sky, and Bard pulls the tapestry free with trembling hands. The names are there just as he remembered, the line of Durin embroidered in gleaming golden thread.

“Thorin, son of Thráin, son of Thrór,” Bard murmurs, tracing the dwarf's line back to the last lord of Erebor. The man was right; Thorin is the rightful King Under the Mountain and he must be here to reclaim his family's throne. Although, it seems the tapestry is incomplete; there is no mention of the younger dwarves that Thorin called his nephews and Bard sees something lonely in the empty spaces where their names should be.

“Dwarves? What would dwarves be doing in Laketown?”

At this, Bard's head snaps up and he looks around a little wildly. But these questions were not meant for the bargeman. Two women are talking loudly on the street outside and while the one who spoke is facing away from Denten’s shop, Bard recognizes the other. It's Dame Freda, one of his closest neighbors; she must have seen the dwarves sneaking to his house.

Indeed, her voice is certain when she answers the other woman's question. “I know what I saw. They appeared out of nowhere – full beards and fierce eyes like all the legends say.”

The bargeman puts down the tapestry and starts moving toward the door. He keeps his head down, unwilling to draw notice in case Freda saw him with Thorin’s company. But the woman pays him no attention as he slips past; she's preoccupied with the swiftly growing crowd of people gathering around her now.

“I don't believe it. No one here has seen a dwarf in generations,” one fisherman scoffs.

“He's right. They keep to their trade routes in the North. No need to travel near the mountain or let us share in any coin.”

“And why should they? Even if they cared for fish, we have none to spare.”

“It's the prophecy,” old Denten announces firmly. Every head swings around to look at the shopkeeper, even Bard pausing in his steps. Because the old man is in his element; history is his passion and for once, he has a willing audience.

“It is the prophecy of Durin's Folk,” the old man continues. “And the foretelling of Smaug's doom:

The Lord of Silver Fountains,
The King of Carven Stone,
The King Beneath the Mountain shall finally come home,
The bells shall ring in gladness at the mountain's king's return.
For the dragon cannot stand against the might of Durin's own.”

Denten falls silent even as the other Lakemen break into excited whispers, their eyes shining with the gleam of greed and gold. But the old man's prophecy sparks a memory inside of Bard, a conversation from his youth that he had forgotten until now. Perhaps Denten is right. Perhaps that is the prophecy of Erebor's lost children, but the version that Bard's father told him was a cautionary tale. Durin's Folk are brave but Lord Girion had faced the dragon and his descendants know exactly what the outcome of such a fight would be.

“Yet all shall fall in sadness and the lake will shine and burn,” Bard whispers, the words echoing with his father's voice inside his head. Although his kin may dream of richness, he knows that Laketown will get only death instead.

With this thought, the bargeman turns and runs back to his house. He must speak with Thorin before the dwarf and his companions leave for Erebor.

However, when Bard bursts through his front door, he knows that he's too late. His house is empty of dwarves – the only sign of his guests a few dirty bowls and spoons – and Bain's expression is regretful when he speaks, “I'm sorry, da. I tried to stop them but they wouldn't listen.”

“How long have they been gone? Do you know which way they went?”

“Ten minutes at least,” Bain replies. “And they didn't say where they were going. They wouldn't tell me when I asked.”

“East. The dwarves went east toward the center of the city,” Sigrid interjects. “I watched them through the window until they disappeared.”

“Thank you, darling,” Bard says and then clasps his children's shoulders. “Both of you, wait here with Tilda. I have to try and find the dwarves before they get too far. I fear they're going to do something very stupid if I cannot convince their leader otherwise.”

In fact, Bard is right, although not exactly as he's thinking. Thorin and his companions are about to do something very foolish in the service of their quest.

Chapter 9: Tager

Tags: angst, canon!au, fi/bi/ki, fic, long and winding road*, mid-series, minor pov, the hobbit, thilbo
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