Aug 22 2016, 2:18am
Post #1 of 1
Oh that Dwalin, he's in such DENIAL! And Nori's found a new job, too. But things are about to get very interesting - and slightly dangerous!
Brothers to the Bone, Part III
Part 3 - Start of a New Day
Fili woke the next morning feeling both hopeful and giddy – hopeful that he’d be able to leave his private room, and giddy with the thought of seeing Jerusa again. He still needed help getting out of bed (not to mention going to the bathroom), but fortunately his roommate was able to help. Bilbo Baggins slept in another bed in the room. Thorin had insisted both his nephew and the Hobbit were to be treated separately from the injured soldiers from the Iron Hills; something that Fili felt some guilt about. Why should he be treated better than they, some of whom had much more severe injuries? But Fili was grateful for his roommate, who talked to him while recovering from the nasty head wound Bolg had inflicted on him. The Hobbit was better after a week, and made it his job to get Fili’s meals, gossip, and play cards to pass the time.
Of course, the other Dwarves came by often; Thorin and Kili came every day, and the others came by as time would allow. All of the Company were busy, either in the kitchens, repairing the gate and other structures, or counting and dividing the gold. Bard had decided his people needed a twelfth share, while Dain wanted one third of the gold to compensate for his losses. Balin had negotiated with Dain, who agreed to a quarter share plus lodging for his injured troops. Half of the remaining gold was moved to the treasury vaults, and the rest divided into 14 equal shares, per the original agreement between Thorin and the Company. Fili now had more gold than he could spend in one lifetime. But the promise of gold wasn’t why he came on the Quest. He came for his family, his uncle and brother. And now there was Jerusa! He knew in his heart that she was the only one for him.
He was surprised by a loud knock on the door. “My Lord Fili,” Jerusa called out, “may I come in? I have your breakfast!”
“What?” Bilbo stumbled out of bed. “Someone else brought you breakfast?”
“It’s all right, Bilbo,” Fili explained. “Can you let her in?”
“Just a moment, please,” Bilbo called out as he wrapped a robe around his body. He opened the door and gestured for her to come in.
She was surprised at first, until she saw Fili sitting up in his bed. “I didn’t realize there were two of you. If I’d known, I would have brought two trays.”
“That’s all right,” Bilbo grumbled, “I can fetch my own breakfast.” He walked out of the room in a huff.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t realize you had a servant.”
Fili laughed. “I don’t have a servant. Bilbo is a friend. He’s been helping me, but, ah – don’t worry, I’ll talk to him.” Jerusa sat his breakfast on a table and handed him the crutches. “Thank you for bringing this, but to be honest, I was hoping to start taking meals in the dining hall.”
“Well, after what King Thorin said, I thought it best to talk to my father first. I will do that right away.” Fili limped over to the table and slid into a chair. “Do you need me to stay until you’re finished?”
“Well, I’d love your company,” Fili started, “but you only brought one plate. Are you not hungry?”
“Oh, I’ve already had a little something,” she confessed. “I’m never very hungry in the morning anyway.”
“So, perhaps dinner?” She giggled and nodded. “Splendid! I hope to join you in the dining hall.”
“I’ll go find my father, and come straight back,” she offered. “How does that sound?”
“Wonderful!” He looked over his breakfast of eggs, sausage and mushrooms, bread and milk. “I’ll even drink my milk like a good boy.”
She started to leave, but then remembered Betina’s request. “My Lord, ah, Fili, can I tell you something in confidence?” He nodded, his pale blue eyes looked curious. “Well, it seems my sister is rather fond of Lord Bombur.”
Fili snickered. “Do tell!”
“Yes, well, she would like to know what his favorite meal is.”
Fili snickered again. “I think food is his favorite meal.” He thought for a moment. “I know he likes party pies. I’ve seen him sprint for those. You’d be surprised how fast he can run!”
“Party pies.” She nodded, smiling. “Thank you, my Lord. I’ll be right back.”
“You must tell me what happens,” Fili chuckled before he started eating.
Until the gate was replaced, the entry into Erebor had to be guarded at all times. Bifur and Bofur were conferring with Keruk and his apprentices, while Dwalin took the report from the night guards. Nothing eventful, which was always good. After seeing to the morning roster, Dwalin went to find Thorin. The King Under the Mountain was standing near the throne, while Boak explained what he believed could be done.
“We can fill in the gashes easily enough. There’s plenty of large stones to cut down. Once they are shaped, we’ll use plaster to hold it in place, and put some sheeting over it to hide the cracks. It will look brand new!” Thorin nodded approvingly. “Of course, we’ll fit in the Arkenstone once the repairs are made.”
“No,” Thorin shook his head, “the Arkenstone will remain in the vault. It will only come out for State visits, but will not be part of the Throne. I want the Durin crest instead.”
“Oh, very well then.” Boak began to sketch out a design. “Suppose we put a small dias off to the side, which could hold the Arkenstone during those State visits?”
“Hm, possibly,” Thorin mused. “Draw up a sketch, and we’ll discuss it after the Throne is repaired.” Tami stood nearby, wearing a work dress. Her hair was pulled back in a scarf; but blonde strands spilled down her back like a golden cascade. Dwalin nodded at her politely, noticing how the blue scarf accented her eyes. Thorin noticed his Leftenant, and excused himself. “I will check on your progress later today, Master Boak.” He nodded at Tami, who curtsied as he walked past. She smiled at Dwalin as she stood, but then turned to her father for her assignment.
After breakfast, Bilbo returned to his room to find Jeruk examining Fili’s leg. He pressed on Fili’s shin around the pins. Fili tried not to grimace, but found the area still tender. “Hm,” Jeruk hummed. “I think these pins will be able to come out in another week or so. Yes, I think you’ll be able to walk around, provided you’re escorted. And no stairs. You are restricted to this level. Understand?”
“Yes, yes, that’s fine!” He was on the same level as both the dining hall and the armory. Surely Dwalin or Dori could find him some work to do! “Bilbo can be my escort, when Jerusa’s busy.” The Hobbit’s brows shot up at the thought of the Dwarf-maid taking his place, although he supposed that Fili thought she was prettier than he.
But Jeruk shook his head. “I’m afraid my daughter will be very busy in the ward. She’s got to help train that young lass, Bryn.” He looked Bilbo over. “So, if Prince Fili should fall over, can you catch him?”
“Well, yes, of course.”
“And if he should hit the ground, can you lift him back up?”
“Of course I can,” Bilbo waived his hands at the medic. “I’ve helped him in and out of bed for the past week or so.”
“Well, very good then.” He turned back to Fili and pointed as he spoke. “Remember, always with an escort. And keep your weight off that leg as much as possible. The bones are knitting, but they are still soft. Try to walk normally now, and you risk bending the bone permanently!”
Fili found that thought disturbing enough that he asked Bilbo to help him into the leg brace. They walked the level toward the armory. They saw Nori talking to Dori, asking where he’d sent Revan. “She’s cleaning an upper level apartment, getting it ready for Lord Dain, so don’t you go running up there bothering her.”
“Dori,” Fili called out, “perhaps you can give me a task as well?”
“Well,” Dori said hesitantly, “I’m not sure I should be putting you to work just yet.”
“Jeruk said I can do some work, as long as I stay off this leg.”
“Well, um, I believe there’s some blades that need sharpening, and some chainmail to repair.” Dori turned to his brother. “Why don’t you go with him?”
“I was actually going to the library. I’ve taken an interest in studying law,” Nori explained. “I think I’d be quite good at it.”
“You should be,” Dori grumbled, “you’ve spent enough time on the wrong side of it. Very well, be on your way.” Dori watched his brother walk away, muttering, “I guess he is serious about that Dwarf-maid. Marriage could be good for him, then. Get him to settle down, make an honest trade.” Bilbo cleared his throat. “Eh? Oh, right, follow me.” He led them into the armory, motioning at a table. Once Fili was settled, Dori pulled out some tools and rings for the chain maille. “And how about you, Master Baggins?”
“I’m to stay with Fili, make sure he doesn’t walk on that leg too soon.”
“It’s fine,” Fili said, “he can help me with this.”
“Very good then.” Dori placed some chain maille on the table. “I’ll be in the next room, if you need me.” Fili spent most of the day working on the chain maille, chatting happily with Bilbo. Occasionally Dori would step in to check on their progress. Dori was proving to be a capable administrator – his sharp mind remembered where everything was, and exactly what kind of shape it was in. An axehead needed to be reattached, a sword pommel needed to be re-wrapped, and so on. Fili felt good about finally doing something useful, instead of just laying on his backside all day. Of course, Balin and Gloin had brought him books to read, but they were boring treatises on trade, history and even Dwarven law. He knew as the Crown Prince he’d be required to know all of these things, but still, they were very dull indeed, particularly the legal books. In fact, it was during one of Nori’s visits that started Nori’s new interest in the subject. Fili handed a legal scroll to Nori, asking him what it meant. “I’d be quite happy to turn the study of law over to Nori,” Fili remarked.
“Well, perhaps you can find a Dwarf barrister for him to apprentice with,” Bilbo suggested.
“That’s a splendid idea!”
“What is?” Fili turned to find his brother standing in the doorway, just back from the previous evening’s trip to Dale.
“The idea of Nori studying law, so I don’t have to.”
Kili shuddered a bit. “Better him than me.” He inspected the sword. “That’s a nice job, which one of you did it?”
“Well, Fili did most of it.,” Bilbo confessed. “I just helped a bit.”
“Good for you! Well, I came to get both of you for dinner. I believe Fili can now walk to the dining hall?”
“Yes, Jeruk cleared him for that, as long as he has an escort.”
Kili snickered. “Yes, I’m sure he needs one. Well, come along you two. Who knows? Maybe we’ll run into a certain nurse-maid while we’re there!” They made their way to the dining hall; no sooner had Fili sat down when Jerusa came in. “Jerusa!” Kili waived for her to join them.
Again Fili tried to stand, but was unable to come to his feet quickly enough. “Please, Fili,” she begged, “don’t trouble yourself on my account. I know what my father told you.”
“I look forward to the day when I can treat you properly, like a Dwarf should,” Fili explained before turning to the Hobbit. “Jerusa, I’d like to formally introduce you to my friend, Bilbo Baggins.”
Bilbo stood and bowed. “At your service, my lady.”
“You are the Hobbit that warned King Thorin of the second army,” she exclaimed. “Master Oin speaks highly of you.”
“Well, I’m sure he exaggerates.” He glanced at Fili, who seemed to be in a daze. “Will you join us for dinner?”
“I’d love to,” she started, “but really I’ve got to help serve the patients first.” She looked at Fili as she spoke. “Hopefully this won’t take too long.”
“I’ll be waiting for you,” Fili replied hopefully.
Fili wasn’t the only one hoping to meet with a dwarf-maid. Dwalin walked briskly toward the throne, hoping Tami was finished with her work and available for a tour, and perhaps dinner. As he came around the corner he saw her talking to Lor, one of the Iron Hills dwarves hired to guard the main gate. Dwalin considered walking away, but before he could move Tami noticed him. She excused herself with a polite curtsey before hurrying over to Dwalin. “Lord Dwalin,” she greeted as she again curtsied. “I was hoping you hadn’t forgotten about me.”
“I would not do such a thing.” As they walked he glanced over his shoulder at Lor, who glared angrily from where he stood. “I fear I’ve interrupted something.” Tami glanced at him innocently. “You were speaking to Lor.”
“Oh, yes.” She looked embarrassed. “He’s spoken to me before.”
“You are close, then?”
“No!” She realized she spoke a bit harshly, so she repeated, “I mean, we are barely acquainted.”
“I see.” Dwalin felt there was more she wasn’t saying. “Is there a problem between you two?”
“Oh, no,” she replied less than convincingly.
“You would tell me if there was, wouldn’t you?” He watched her reaction closely.
“Of course I would, but really, there’s no problem.” She smiled at Dwalin, anxious to change the subject. “So, are we going up or down?”
“I thought we might start with the first upper level, unless you’d like to eat first.”
She smiled. “Well, perhaps a bit – are you hungry?”
“I’m always hungry,” Dwalin replied. They made their way to the dining hall, where they found a large number of party pies. Tami took one, while Dwalin had three. They found a quiet corner where they could talk, hopefully without being interrupted by another member of the Company.
Bilbo was first to notice. “Is that Dwalin, talking to one of the Dwarf-maids?”
“I can’t believe it!” Kili started to walk over, but Fili grabbed his wrist and shook his head.
“I think your brother is right,” Bilbo said. “You should probably leave him be.”
Bryn and Edna came in, pushing a cart over to a table where Jerusa had placed several plates full of food. Jerusa kept glancing over at Fili. “You should just go talk to him,” Edna said. “Bryn and I can do this.”
“No, I want to make sure all the patients are taken care of first.” Jerusa smiled and added, “but thank you for offering.”
Bofur came in, followed by Bifur, Nori and Balin, talking excitedly. When he saw Bilbo and the Princes he came over, shouting, “You’ll never believe it! Bombur’s getting married!”
“What?” Bilbo almost laughed. “Bombur getting married? To who?”
“To Betina!” Bofur chuckled as he slapped Fili’s back. “Can you believe it? She made a batch of Party Pies – those are his favorite! So he took one bite, dropped to one knee and asked her on the spot. And she said ‘Yes’!”
“Oh, that’s fantastic!” Kili stood up and shook Bofur’s hand, then slapped him on the back. Fili just smiled as he looked at Jerusa. She smiled back, clapping her hands excitedly.
Bifur, Bofur, Nori and Balin joined Bilbo, Fili and Kili for dinner. They toasted the couple several times over mugs of ale while talking about the future wedding, and the conversation drifted to marriage contracts. “I guess I should go study up on those,” Nori said as he finished eating.
He stood to leave, not realizing that Fili stood up as well. He was almost out of the dining hall when Fili caught up with him. “Nori, can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, Fili, anything.”
Fili looked at him pensively. “While you’re looking up marriage laws, could you look to see if there’s an age limit on marriage?” Nori looked at him, puzzled. “I mean, how old a Dwarf has to be before he can marry?”
“Oh!” Nori’s eyes brightened, and a sly smile twisted the corners of his mouth. “I’ll get right on that.”
“Thank you. And,” Fili added, “could you keep this private – just between you and me?”
“Absolutely!” Nori chuckled as he headed toward the library. He noticed Jerusa hurrying toward the dining hall entrance, where Fili stood. “Best get on that,” he said to himself.
Fili smiled as Jerusa approached, but one look at her face told him there was trouble. “Fili, I’m sorry, but I can’t leave the hospital right now. Several Dwarves have developed a fever.”
“Oh, no,” Fili exclaimed. “Is there anything I can do?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think so. I’ll ask my father, though.” She squeezed his hand. “I have to get back – I’m sorry.”
Fili nodded, disappointed but understanding the situation. “Well, maybe tomorrow they’ll be better.”
“I hope so,” she said, although she looked doubtful. She curtsied before turning and hurrying back to the hospital.
Nori had to walk past the hospital to get to the library. On his way he saw Bryn sitting on a bench, crying. Edna stood nearby, talking to her. “You did nothing wrong, Bryn – it was the fever that took him.”
“What happened?” Nori stopped in front of Edna.
“We lost a Dwarf,” she said sadly. “Can you stay with her a minute? I need to get back to the patients.”
“Sure, go on.” Edna walked away, and Nori sat down next to Bryn. “It’s okay now,” he said as he offered her a handkerchief. “It’s not your fault, just bad luck really.”
Bryn dabbed her eyes. “I know, it’s just – I’ve never seen anyone die before.”
“Yeah, it’s a terrible thing to see.” Nori looked down solemnly. “When you’re in the middle of battle, you don’t have time to think about it. But afterwards….” He grew quiet, remembering the battle that claimed so many lives. After a bit he looked at Bryn. She had stopped crying, and looked at him concerned. “Oh, don’t mind me. You be alright now?”
They noticed Jerusa coming back. “I should get back to work,” Bryn said. “I’ll be alright. Thank you, good sir?”
“Ah, the name’s Nori.” He stood and bowed. “At your service.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Nori - though I wish the circumstances were better.” She stood and curtsied, before joining Jerusa in the hospital.
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