Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know I am.
It was a long night of dying.
The healers had come and left, as had the members of the company, their hobbit the last one. Dwalin had stood in the background as his king had asked Bilbo's forgiveness and received it. A small weight had seemingly fallen off his shoulders then, his laboured breathing becoming lighter for a second. The wizard had ushered the hobbit out of the tent again to get his own wounds looked after and, with a last glance at Dwalin, closed the flap behind him, knowing the warrior would insist on staying with his king until he drew his last breath.
Dwalin carefully lowered himself onto the small stool next to the improvised bed, stretching out his own injured leg. Thorin had closed his eyes the moment that Bilbo had left, the pain that he had so carefully held back (always the king, Dwalin thought, trying to look regal even when he's dying) flooding back into his face and etching sharp lines around his mouth. He had refused the healers' brews and the milk of the poppy meant to dull the agony that had to flare through his body and nobody had dared to argue with him, not even Dwalin. He knew it was the last bit of punishment that Thorin inflicted on himself, to feel the pain with a still working mind, fully aware that his line was ended and he had led those that he had wanted to protect the most to their deaths.
He grabbed Thorin's hand and almost shrank back at how cold his fingers already were, as if the life within them had already left them. He knew the wounds that were hidden underneath the fur that somebody had drawn up over Thorin's chest, had seen the spears pierce him and the ragged orc blade opening his back. He had been fighting, screaming, clawing, but always too far away to reach him, too far to help when two shades came whirling out of nowhere to protect their uncle with their bodies and fell themselves under too many a blade.
Thorin's lips curved up into a small smile and he opened his eyes again at the touch. His breathing was ragged and wrong, betraying the broken state of his body.
"I'm sorry," he whispered quietly and Dwalin shook his head.
"No, no, no." He wanted to tell him that it wasn't Thorin's place to be sorry, that it was his and his alone, for not being able to protect either him or his nephews, for failing his sister and his entire line, for doing nothing when he should have somehow done everything.
But Thorin shushed him with a look out of his eyes, a look so painfully familiar that the prospect of never seeing it again so soon seemed almost unreal.
"Tell me about Erebor."
And Dwalin held his hand through the dark hours of the night, guarding his king as he had done all his life, but this time only against the desperation in his own heart. He told Thorin about the splendour of their halls once they had been rebuilt, how the light of torches and oil lamps would be reflected on rivers of gold and silver in the walls and how their builders would chisel images in stone of how the mountain had been reclaimed. He told him about the feasts in the Big Hall, with food, laughter and music aplenty and how Thorin would play his harp again and the crowd would fall silent in awe of his voice. How one day, when they had both grown old, he would give the kingship to Fíli and they would spend their remaining days in peace and quiet, Dwalin forever teasing him about the silver locks on his head and Thorin's beard going white sooner than his own. He talked until his voice was raw, until he could barely see behind a veil of unshed tears, talked about beauty and forgiveness, glory and love until he ran out of words.
Thorin's breathing had grown weaker throughout his talking, tremors running through his body now and then, as if it was still fighting the inevitable. At one point his eyes had fluttered shut again but the faint pressure of his fingers on Dwalin's had told the warrior to go on. When he was finished at last, Thorin opened his eyes again, the blue already gone dark with heavy clouds of pain, grief and exhaustion.
"That would have been wonderful." he muttered and turned his head slightly. His gaze locked with Dwalin's, stealing his breath away even now.
"Live for me." he said and for a moment there was a shadow of his old strength back in his voice. "Promise me, Dwalin. Live for me."
Thorin knew that his One would never break a promise given to him. The warrior nodded, unable to speak leaned forward to bring their foreheads together, never loosening the grip of his fingers on Thorin's hand.
"Don't go." The words were barely audible and Dwalin hated himself for his display of weakness for wanting his king to cling on to his life just a little bit longer, just a few more moments, even when shallow breaths and trembling hands told him that he couldn't. Thorin's lids were drooping already and with a last bout of strength he brought up his hand to Dwalin's neck, exhaling sharply at the pain, and pressing Dwalin down, bringing their mouths together.
His lips tasted of copper, ash and regret, the whiff of summer air and pine needles in the last rays of sunshine no stronger than a faint memory. Dwalin brought up his other hand that wasn't tangled in Thorin's fingers and let it rest on his lover's cheek with a gentle touch, feeling the cold of already much too clammy skin creep through his finger tips.
Thorin's last breath they shared, as they had shared everything else in life, pain and joy, blood and bond, love and hate. And when the king's hand fell down limply from Dwalin's neck the warrior didn't move, held his breath, the last precious remnants of Thorin's life, held it in his lungs until he thought they would burst, feeling the numbness inside him engulf everything.