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Backseat Driving

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"Hey, uhm. Balin?"

The wise old dwarf lifted his head from whatever he was working on. "Yes, lass? Is your arm hurting?"

"Oh. Uhm. Not really." You said. You had dislocated it after one of the trolls threw you clear across the glen during the fight, and you were on strict orders from Oin to keep it in place for as long as possible as to not irritate the area further. "I was wondering actually," you continued, a blush beginning to color your face, "w-well you see Oin says I can't move my arm, so I can't do it myself, see I would if I could, but I- well I can't and-"

"Whatever you need, lass, I'm sure I've seen worse. Been around for a few hundred years." Balin interrupted kindly, saving you from a fair bit more rambling. 

"I can't put my hair back, and it's driving me mad." You huffed out. "I didn't know who else to ask. I'd ask Bilbo or Gandalf, but I’ve no idea what customs hobbits have, and Gandalf is far too busy to be interrupted." You leaned in conspiratorially, "and quite honestly I'm not sure how well either of them could do it, with the way they wear their hair."

Balin laughed at that. "I've no problem doin' your hair back lass, though I cannae guarantee it'll look any better than if they did it. It's been some time since I've put braids in my beard, and my brother never wanted the help."

"Oh just something simple will do really, it's just to keep it from becoming any more of a nest and out of my face."

Balin tamped the ground in front of him with a boot. "Sit right here lass, spare an old dwarf his knees."

You smiled and carefully sat down between his boots, sure to not jostle your shoulder too much. Balin dragged two hands through your hair and was immediately halted by a variety of knots and tangles. 

"Oh my." was all he said.

"You've no idea. It's been driving me mad for days!"

"I can certainly imagine why," Balin said, beginning to detangle your hair from the ends up with considerable skill. You barely felt him pulling at all. 

He was just finishing up detangling when Dwalin wandered over. 

"Well well, what's goin' on over here?" he purred. 

"The poor lass has been living with a bird's nest for hair for the last few days on account of her arm. Though Oin will be happy to learn you're followin' his orders so well. Not often that happens ‘round here." Balin gave your shoulders a quick squeeze to let you know he was talking to you, though you knew he had thrown a glance at his warrior brother. 

"Better be worth it." You mumbled. “Feels like it’s withering away in this sling.”

Balin began sectioning your hair for a simple three-strand french braid. He got about a third of the way down your head when Dwalin spoke up. 

"Now see, you've mixed them up there." 

Balin huffed, and you felt him unravel the braid a bit. 

"No, now you've lost the groups, they're uneven now." 

You could feel the look Balin gave his brother, even with your back turned. Balin unraveled the now-loose braid and began at the top again. 

"I think a fishtail might look better with her texture-"

"Then I suppose you'd like to sit and do it yourself? Or would you like to continue to stand there and tell me everything I'm doing wrong like you've woven a braid in the last fifty years?" Balin snapped, releasing your hair. 

"Well move over then, fifty is still less than a hundred!" Dwalin replied.

Your eyes widened as Balin did in fact get up, and Dwalin's stocky legs caged you in. Balin harrumphed, but you didn't hear him walk away. Dwalin started on your hair quickly and efficiently, and you felt the beginnings of the much finer style braid being woven. He left two strands of hair loose at your temples though, but you were too scared to point them out to him with the high tensions between the brothers. 

"Yer tie, lass." Dwalin finally said once he reached the end of your hair, and you silently handed it over your shoulder to him. 

Then he gently tilted your head to the side and began on the strand above one of your temples, braiding it back around your ear and down in a simple, but incredibly tiny, braid. When he reached the end, he fished around inside his furs a bit before fiddling with something you couldn't see. Balin took a sharp inhale when Dwalin tiled your head the other direction. 

"Braidin' her hair anyway. No sense in lettin' 'em go to waste." Dwalin said quietly as he worked on the second delicate temple braid. He fiddled again with something before he tilted your head back straight, and exhaled somewhat shakily. "There you are, lass." He ran a surprisingly gentle hand down the spine of the braid, and the hand of your working arm was quick to follow his. You were awed by how neat and even the long braid felt, and how quickly he had done it. You wished desperately for a mirror at that moment, and despaired that his handiwork would probably not last the night with how you tossed and turned. 

Your hand moved next to the small braids that sat behind your ears, running down the smooth rope until they caught on the end, and you pulled it in front of your face. 

Securing the end of the braid was a small metal bead, as intricate as it was tiny. Running your fingers down the other side revealed an identical bead there as well. You weren't sure what to think of it, but before you could say anything Dwalin heaved himself up and stomped away, leaving you and Balin both stunned. 

"Lass..." Balin began, and you held up a hand to stop him.

"Ignorance is bliss, Balin. Thank you for your help." And you stood and walked away with no particular direction other than ‘away from other people'.