The large wooden vessel lulled about on the gentle waves. Castiel struggled in this vice grip of his captors as they hauled him below decks, not moments after the boat had left the shore. His mind still scrambled to make sense of what was happening to him, where he was. There was something nagging at the back of his memory, something he knew was important, but no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't make himself remember.
"Castiel," he mumbled as they dragged him to the Captain's mess and deposited him in front of the Captain. A tall, lanky man who seemed less intimidating than the thick burley wire-haired man that had discovered him and who held him in the vice grip he was in now.
That was all he knew for sure — his name. "My name is Castiel," he said as he fell in a heap at the Captain's feet and strained his head up to look at the man. The smell of the sea and old wood permeated the room and posh maritime decor reminiscent of Earth's early pirate age filled the dilapidated looking room.
"Found him sleeping in the streets," the burly man explained. "Claims he don't remember much so I thought he'd make a good slave. No one will miss him."
"Castiel," the Captain repeated, thoughtfully scratching his chin as he looked down at his latest prize. "While yer on my ship, you'll be expected to follow the rules. This here is the quartermaster, you'll learn to obey him. Is that clear?"
Castiel blinked, shifting to sit upon his knees. "I'm not sure I want to be on your ship," he said wearily, still feeling disoriented. He didn't think these people had his best interests at heart, but he had no idea whether the place he was before had been any better. He didn't know where he belonged.
But his remark earned him a swift kick in the side, and he fell back to the floor with a grunt as pain welled up in his side as the quartermaster kicked again for good measure then grabbed him and yanked him harshly up to his feet.
"Well ye aren't going nowhere so you might as well accept it!" the quartermaster shouted. Once Castiel was standing shakingly on his feet, the Captain seemed to scrutinize his appearance. His beige trenchcoat and bright blue collar were out of place in this world, and he stood out. He didn't know why he was so oddly dressed when everyone else seemed adorned in tunics, trousers, and cloaks.
"Y-yes, sir," Castiel relented. He didn't think it would be a good idea to cause a fight, and it's not like he had anywhere to go anyway. Yet… there was still something in the deepest recesses of his memory that gnawed at him. Something that said he had done something terrible, he just didn't know what it was.
"Take him below decks with the other one," the Captain ordered. "We'll assign him as a deckhand for now."
With that, the quartermaster yanked the other man along with him, dragging him back through the ship. They passed other faces. Ragged looking men were busily going about cleaning or tending to the vessel. They shot curious glances at the newcomer as he passed.
The quartermaster came to what looked like some sort of trap door in the flooring. Lifting it, he poked at Castiel with the hilt of his sword. "Get in there," he warned. "We'll come to get ye when we've got something for you."
Castiel did as he was told. He descended the steep ladder into what appeared to be a cargo hold. Barrels and crates of various sizes and shapes filled the space, creating a labyrinth of narrow floor space to maneuver around. The stench of mold and mildew, the dampness in the air, and the rodents scurrying about along the floor told Castiel that this wasn't the place to be.
As he moved into the room, he was aware of some noise coming from somewhere in the far corner of the room. A few tiny portholes lining high on the walls allowed some sunlight to stream through and light the room, though shadows shrouded dark corners.
"Hello?" Castiel said, his voice ragged, perhaps from disuse, he wasn't sure. The shuffling stopped. Castiel navigated through the makeshift walls of crates and barrels until he turned a corner and stopped in his tracks.
What he thought was a pile of clothes began to move, rise, until they tumbled forward, revealing a huddled dark-haired form. A woman, hugging her knees close to her chest.
"Leave me alone," she warned softly. When she lifted her head, Castiel was met with a pair of deep cerulean eyes that widened in recognition. "... Castiel?"
Castiel cocked his head at hearing his name. He knelt in front of the woman; there was something about her. She seemed to glow, an aura seemed to envelop her, and what he thought was the outline of a pair of large white wings attached to her back, which upon closer look, appeared broken, The creamy white feathers were ruffled and bent.
"What are you?" he asked directly as she looked him over. "How do you know my name?"
"I'm what you are," the woman replied, eyes narrowing in suspicion as she visibly tensed when he moved a little closer. "Why are you here? This is all your fault."
"My fault?" Castiel was confused. "I don't understand. Do you know where we are?"
The woman regarded him as if trying to decide if he was really there or some sort of illusion. "Don't pretend you don't know what you did, Castiel," she scoffed. "You killed Raphael, and you got me stranded in this world."
The name Raphael sounded familiar. Castiel squinted, looking the woman over. "Apparently I got myself stranded here as well," he pointed out. "What's your name? What are you? Are those wings?"
"What?" The woman looked behind her, stretching her wings out in response. They were magnificent. Or at least he could tell they could have been. Beautiful cream colored feathers with deep marigold yellow tips fell out of the wings. They were broken, bent, scraggly, and she winced, unable to spread them to their full height.
"You mean you really don't know?" She looked him over, daring to scoot closer. She glanced behind him, and he shrugged.
"I don't have wings," he pointed out.
"Yes you do," she insisted, narrowing her eyes in disbelief. "You can't see them?" He shook his head, and she sat up on her knees, moving over to reach behind him. He felt a surge of pain and winced when she made a grab for his back.
Then, as if by magic, he noticed them. The ebony black wings were jutting out from behind him, but they were just as sickly and hurt. How did he not see them before? Had they been here this whole time? He couldn't be sure. He looked at this woman; his eyes met hers.
"My name is Hannah," the woman informed him. "You are an angel, Castiel. As am I…"
Half a world away, Kili was innocent to the horrors of the world around him. He'd never met or even heard of an angel, nor had he ever seen the ocean. At that moment, Kili had few cares in his young life. That is except for taking advantage of the last few weeks of summer to enjoy the lake with his big brother.
The Blue Mountains were in the grip of the last heatwave of the summer and the breeze off the lake was a pleasant reprieve after a long day of chores.
The lake was looking very tempting. "It's so hot…" he complained as he lay sprawled out in the grass, "I think you might be able to cook an egg on my head!"
"Summer is nearly over," Fili assured him, as he sat propped up against the tree and took a puff of his pipe. "And then you will wish for the heat to return."
Kili wasn't concerned about winter at the moment. All he cared about was how miserable he felt. He wasn't the type of Dwarf that was particularly concerned about the future. Unless the future included food, of course.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. He sat up, causing Fili to glance at him in curiosity, as he pulled off his tunic and his shoes and made a b-line for the water.
"You'll get your trousers wet," Fili pointed out in caution as Kili began to wade into the lake.
"They'll dry," Kili responded. The water was cool and inviting. Kili waded in further into the lake and let himself sink down into the water. He felt instantly refreshed as he swam under the water; the world melted away as the quietness of being under the water made him feel calm.
As Kili was coming up for a breath, he heard a large splash and felt the water ripple around him.
He smiled as he resurfaced to find Fili treading water beside him, his own tunic and shoes discarded on the lakeshore.
For the two young Dwarf princes, in the prime of adolescence, life was peaceful and pleasant. All they had to concern themselves with was getting their chores done correctly, paying attention to Balin's school lessons, and training with Dwalin.
Of course, Kili and his brother knew that their uncle had worked hard to give them this peaceful life. They knew the story of Erebor and the gold that lay in a dragon's clutches under a mountain. But that world seemed far away and existed only in the memories and stories they had grown up on. Here, they were content and carefree.
"Fili, Kili!" came Dis's call. The two of them had swum in the lake for hours and night was beginning to descend. Lights came on in the windows of the log cabins of the small village and the smell of supper cooking permeated the air. Their mother's call was the dinner bell for them, and Kili followed his brother to shore, picking up his tunic and shoes as they made their way through the houses and shops that made up this tiny Dwarf village in the mountains.
Their house was at the end of the short road, facing the forest. The young princes burst into the house casually, causing Thorin to look up from his seat at the table and Dis to turn as she tended the oven.
"By Durin's beard!" Dis exclaimed, furrowing her brow in slight agitation at her son's appearance. Water dripped from their soaked trousers and gathered on the floor, as they stood there barefoot and bare-chested, holding their boots and tunics in their arms.
"It was hot, so we took a dip," Fili said as Kili just grinned sheepishly, "We didn't see any harm in it."
"Go change into dry clothes right this instant!" Dis scolded, "And hurry before your supper gets cold."
Their mother's tone was enough to make the boys rush to their room in a hurry. They returned, dressed within minutes, their hair still dark and wet as they slipped into seats at the table beside Thorin.
Kili's eyes lit up as Dis dropped a freshly cooked whole trout onto his place. His mouth watered in anticipation as he waited for everyone to be served and for Dis to join them at the table.
"Bofur and Bombur caught these in the river earlier," Dis explained as Thorin put the pipe he had been smoking down, "I told them Fili and Kili would clean out Bombur's barn and butcher shop in return."
"Ah!" Kili protested, even as he shoved fish into his mouth, "Mum!"
"Good idea," Thorin said, ignoring his youngest nephew's protests, "A little hard work never hurt anyone. In fact, I have been thinking it's about time you two learned a trade. You aren't dwarflings anymore."
That wasn't how Kili had intended to spend his summer. He had planned to spend his summer exploring the forest or swimming in the lake with his brother- just as he had every summer that he could remember.
Kili was dismayed as he glanced over at Fili and found his brother nodding in acceptance. Of course, Fili was always the responsible one.
"Yes, Uncle," Fili said simply. Kili huffed and scowled as he continued his meal. Maybe his uncle was right. He wasn't a Dwarfling after all. He was approaching the age of 70 years, he'd be an old man if he were human, but in dwarf years, he'd be about 15 or 16. His brother, five years older, was quickly approaching what dwarves considered to be adulthood.
"Well, what would you have them do?" Dis asked as she ate, "help you in the forge?"
"For now," Thorin confirmed, "But eventually, I'd like to teach them their own crafts."
"Like what?" Fili asked. Thorin shrugged,
"Making weapons and armor out of iron and steel is not all that dwarves are skilled at, and it is not my only craft," Thorin said, "If you could see the splendor that was Erebor… an entire empire carved out of rock and stone…"
"Rocks and stones," Kili repeated, sounding bored. "I like wood." And he did. Kili was one of the few dwarves who was skilled in archery. Though Thorin had had his bow made for him, Kili had learned to make his own arrows.
"Then I will show you the art of carpentry and woodworking," Thorin said, "And how about stone works for you, Fili? The men in the city would benefit greatly by having more dwarf craftsmen in their midst."
"Alright, Uncle," Fili agreed, "I think I'd like that."
"Good," Thorin said, "I'll see you both in my workshop tomorrow after your training lesson."
Kili found he was looking forward to learning from Thorin. He idolized his uncle after all. The great king who had fought many battles and even went up against a dragon! He only hoped that this new job wouldn't cut too much into his lake time.
Their plates finished, Fili and Kili retreated to their room, leaving Thorin and Dis to clean up the dishes. The sounds of the night filled the air as Fili opened the window while Kili relaxed on his bed and pulled out his pipe. Crickets chirped, owls hooted, flies buzzed.
Fili stepped over the pile of wet trousers and tunics laying in the middle of the floor as he crossed the room to lay down on his own bed and picked up his pipe.
"It shouldn't be so bad, getting a job and learning a trade," Fili mused as Kili puffed out a ring of smoke and stared out at the stars in the window, "Maybe we could be as skilled as Uncle someday."
"I suppose so," Kili agreed, yawning as he lay there feeling content and relaxed with a belly full of fish. The two of them talked for hours that night. Dreaming of the future and what it had in store for them…
Kili was fast asleep when screams of horror pierced the still night sky...