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She shuddered as the tree slipped and fell slightly, clinging to the branches to the best of her ability. If the tree tilted even a little bit farther, they were all lost. As is was, she could hear the distress of the Ri family, poor Ori and Dori, with Nori trying to frantically reach them, save them from falling although his own perch was even more precarious.

All of the dwarves were clinging precariously to the branches, all except for Thorin, who had somehow managed to end up sprawled across the trunk of the great pine instead. She was the closest to him and knew the moment that he locked eyes with Azog, his entire body stiffening with outrage and something else, something more. Then, seeming to forget the company and their plight entirely, he rose to his feet, his sword gripped firmly in his hand.

So fixated was he on his enemy that he didn't hear her quiet gasp, Balin and Dwalin's cries of 'No!', of Kili scrabbling frantically for a better grip. Instead, he started running down the flaming tree, heading straight towards the white orc to the exclusion of all else. And judging from the nasty grin that spread across the orc's scarred face, this was precisely what Azog had been waiting for, for his mortal enemy to throw himself right onto his waiting weapons.

Not only that, Thorin's charge ended as well as could be anticipated, when throwing oneself blindly at an enemy that had managed to keep their head. Thorin was knocked down by the white warg that Azog rode within moments of their clash, only to be sent back to the ground again moments later by Azog's mace to the chest, causing the dwarves still in the tree to cry out anguish.

It was in that moment that Bella blocked all of them out, from the cries of the Ri's to the struggles of the rest to stay balanced on the shaky limbs. Instead, she pulled herself up onto the trunk and steadied herself, the world having gone very quiet around her. She couldn't hear the crackling of the flame, the growling of the wargs, or Azog's cry of triumph, although she could see his mouth moving.

She distantly saw Azog's cursed warg treat Thorin like a chew toy and then cast him aside after the dwarf king hit it with his sword. When Thorin hit the ground, she couldn't even tell if he was dead or alive.

However, she put that aside, that was out of her control for the moment. Instead, she took a deep breath and drew her sword, starting down the trunk as soon as she saw the second orc start to dismount from it's warg. There was a chance, a slim one, that Thorin was alive after all.

Picking up speed, she barreled into the orc right as it was about to take Thorin's head, stabbing in a frenzied, desperate attempt to keep it from killing her instead. Once the orc stopped moving, she stumbled away from it and planted herself firmly between a still Thorin and a startled Azog. Her mind distantly warned her that she was about to die and very painfully, but she couldn't bring herself to care, too many shocks to the system in too short of time making her numb. Instead, she did a couple of warning slashes towards the war party. If this was how she was to die, it might as well be a good death instead of one cowering in a burning tree. It was better to die on her feet fighting for something good than to live out her days without courage.

However, to her bemusement and relief, the dwarves arrived with their war cries and weapons flashing. Instead of watching them, she threw herself at her own foe, determined to protect her dwarves at all costs. To her dismay, she was quickly reminded of the fact that no matter how much she wished it, she was not a warrior. Instead, she was quickly struck flat by a strong enemy blow, sending her sprawling next to where Thorin lay limply.

So imagine her shock and surprise when one of the war party menacing them was simply swept away, disappearing as if it had never been. Through the ringing in her ears, she could hear the cries of eagles, but they were much louder than any eagle she had ever heard before. Her eyes widened when she saw them, they were much larger than any eagles that she had seen before, giants of their kind.

The eagles quickly rained havoc on the orcs and wargs, scattering them as they attempted to save themselves. Bella panicked when she saw that the eagles were also scooping up dwarves and carrying them away. She couldn't even scream when she was scooped up and dropped by one of the eagles, only to land on the back of another one. Glancing around, she saw other eagles carrying the company as they flew, towards what destination Bella didn't know nor did she care so long as it was away from the orcs. Hastily sheathing her sword, she lightly grasped the eagle's feathers, her body trying to shake itself apart with terror and anger now that the ordeal was over.

She heard Fili call desperately for Thorin, but she couldn't reassure him, unsure herself whether or not Thorin still lived. Instead, she whispered prayers quietly to Yavanna in thanks for being alive and prayers for healing and strength for the company. She even added a few prayers to Aule for his children, for his strength, protection, and guidance. Once she finished, she watched the sunrise, unable to fully enjoy it's beauty with all the uncertainty hanging heavily over her. Still, a small part of her couldn't help but notice it's beauty, having thought that she would never again see a sunrise.

Finally they landed on a large rock in the middle of nowhere, which was hopefully far enough away from the orcs that they wouldn't be able to catch up easily. Sliding carefully off the eagle that had carried her, she had shakily bowed to him and murmured her thanks. The eagle nodded regally before flying away. Once the eagle left, it was all she could do not to collapse on the hard surface beneath her.

She heard the other dwarves exclaiming over Thorin, but she couldn't make herself go look, couldn't bear to see if he was actually dead or alive. From his injuries and the way that he had been attacked, he should be dead. By all rights, all of them should be dead. She rubbed her face tiredly, how long had it been since they'd last slept or eaten, anyway?

Hearing Gandalf say her name, relief in his voice, Bella looked up sharply. Thorin was somehow awake and alert, struggling to get to his feet with Dwalin's help, his gaze locked on her. She took a half step towards him, torn between hugging him and scolding him for moving so quickly. Then he opened his mouth and it was all that she could do to keep her jaw from hitting the ground. She had saved him and he was scolding her for running into danger like he had just moments before. Just when she was about to light into him, he admitted that he was wrong and hugged her.

She froze, her brain short circuiting. Maybe she was still in the mountain, unconscious from hitting her head on the way down, dreaming the impossible. Because there was no way that Thorin McBroodyface had first apologized and then hugged her. Yes, this was definitely some sort of almost fever dream. Either that or the warg had chewed on him quite a bit harder than she realized and he was the one suffering from muddled brain. Since both scenarios were equally likely, she didn't bother answering but simply patted him on the shoulder gently, mindful of his injuries.

He pulled back to add something more when he saw something over her shoulder, his face filling with awe and wonder. She took half a step away before turning to see what had captured his attention. There, far off, was a single mountain peak shrouded in mist. She had a feeling that she knew what it was, but she asked anyway, "Is that what I think it is?"

Gandalf was the one that replied, "Erebor. The Lonely Mountain. The last of the great dwarf kingdoms of Middle Earth."

The dwarves crowded the edge of the Carrock, eager for a glimpse of their home. Bella admitted to feeling a hint of longing for a home as well as a lot of dismay at how far they had yet to go. Still, she wouldn't break the moment with her personal feelings about the quest at this moment. Instead she bit her tongue and held her peace during the following bit while they sorted out the most severe injuries and figured out how to descend that enormous rock.

Once a rough camp was set up, she took the opportunity to catch a quick nap, only to be prodded awake a short time later by Oin wanting to check her over for any injuries.

It was then that Thorin decided to open his mouth and put his foot squarely in it, "Make sure that you check her over thoroughly, Oin. Who knows what injuries she might've gotten when she foolishly faced off with those orcs."

She whirled to face him, ignoring the fact that his torso was bare except for where it was swathed in bandages. Propping her hands on her hips, she just barely managed to keep her voice under a shout, remembering at the last moment that they were still in unknown territory, "Yes, it might have been foolish for me to face off against the orcs, but may I remind you, O mighty leader, that you faced them alone first? Honestly, don't you ever think before doing things?"

She took a step closer so she could jab a finger at him, her face filled with ire, "Did you even pause and think of the company? Of poor Fili, who would have to lead this insanity if you had perished? Of Kili, who has already known too much loss in his young life? What about Dwalin or Balin, your brothers in all but blood? They have been by your side for nigh on centuries. Not days, weeks, months, or even years. Decades and centuries, Thorin! And yet you were willing to throw that bond away like it was nothing!"

Thorin was leaning away from her, his eyes wide, but she had a full head of steam built up and was not about to be stopped now. "And for what? It wasn't a noble sacrifice so that we could escape, oh no! The rest of us were trapped in a burning tree dangling over a cliff. The only one who could move easily was you. But instead of helping haul dwarves up to safety, you decide to go prove who's a better warrior with an insane orc on a gigantic beast. One that used you as a chew toy, in case you somehow managed to forget. You are the one leading this quest, you are not free to throw your life away merely to settle an old grudge. I know what he did, the pain and suffering that he caused you. But you are not free, you are king of Durin's folk and they are looking to you for survival."

She turned and stomped away two feet before pivoting and storming back, "That's another thing! You're the only one with the bloody key, you git! If we lose you or that key, there goes the plan and we're left trying to beard a dragon in it's den. A den with only a single entrance. Are you just trying to get everyone eaten? Because you know what, even should we lose you, your nephews will do their best to see this insane quest through. They have honor and duty down to their bones, their characters so mithril bright. Would you take their future? Because I guarantee that they would face the dragon bravely and die just as quickly, along with the entire company!"

Thorin had sunk further and further down onto the log he was perched on as she ranted on. When she finally stopped, her chest heaving for air and her face flushed prettily with anger, he murmured, "You're right. Sorry."

However, this was apparently the wrong thing to say as she threw her hands up in the air, "Sorry! He's sorry! Sweet Yavanna! Why did I have to fall for such a rock headed idiot? Just why?!"

Ignoring the way that all of the dwarves gaped at her, she turned away from Thorin and started across camp. She told Dwalin, since he was technically in charge of the camp, "I'm going to the river to clean up and I'll be back when I'm good and ready." Dwalin started to speak and Bella cut him off, "Yes, I know. Oin has to go to make sure that I'm not hurt and I'll need a guard to keep me out of trouble."

She glanced over the company, all of whom were still staring at her in shock and bemusement, before calling, "Fili, if you don't mind?"

He rose tiredly, checking his weapons as he made his way over. He smiled and offered her a tiny bow, "Whenever you're ready."

She gave him a crooked smile, "You're a good lad. I shan't tarry too long, but I need to get out of here before I strangle a certain dwarf."

She raised an eyebrow at Dwalin, but he just grinned at her and nodded. She, Fili, and Oin all left the clearing without looking back. Silence fell over the clearing, Thorin looking rather poleaxed while the rest were torn between awe and disbelief. Finally it seemed to sink in and the dwarves burst out laughing. Gloin sighed happily over how the hobbit lass reminded him of his own fiery wife.

Moving over to his gobsmacked friend, Dwalin said only half teasingly, "If you don't court the lass after a declaration like that, I will. Forget Erebor, a lass like that is a treasure in and of herself."

This seemed to draw Thorin from his daze and he snarled at Dwalin, groaning as the movement strained his bruised and sore ribs. Settling reluctantly back onto the log, he wondered how in the world his life had ever reached this point? Still, he couldn't help the tiny smile that curled up the corners of his mouth. Things had suddenly become much more interesting, by Mahal.