His heartbeat sounded like the heavy death drums that had beat out after the Battle of Azanulbizar, announcing the number of deaths and deepest of sorrows to the survivors. To this day Dwalin, son of Fundin, still heard them during the darkest of his dreams. The reason for his beating heart now though, was far from those dark dreams. Now it beat heavily as he gazed at the woman he had been writing to for some five and twenty years and dreaming of for a century longer than that.
How small she had looked back when he had first laid eyes upon his heart-lode, where it not for the eyes he would not have believed that it was her. His Billana. As a child her hair had been darker and her size had been terrifying in its smallness, now she appeared before him as a woman, with eyes that rivaled the loveliest of emeralds, shimmering ringlets of copper hair, and a figure so pleasing to the eyes that it was a wonder she had not been married off the moment she had come of age. The aged warrior was almost afraid to blink for fear of this being a dream, conjured up by a sleeping mind.
Thorin was leading his heart-lode away and it took all of his control to bite back the growl that wanted to slip forth. Sadly the person who nudged him from his inner battle was faced with his rage and he snarled at the owner of the elbow that was digging into his side went. Undaunted, Nori did nothing more than blink at him before grabbing his wrist and leading him upstairs, following Thorin's path.
“I am in no mood for your games thief.” He growled, wondering when it was that the dwarf had managed to develop such a strong grasp.
“Lucky ‘nough fer me, eh?” Nori’s playful reply was strained, as he had to force the warrior up the stairs. “Sides” he grunted, “Yer can’t be killin our King afore this journey has even started.”
Dwalin scowled darkly at the star-haired dwarf, quite seriously thinking on the consequences of stabbing the man right now. At least that way he wouldn’t have to deal with his irritating foists, then again Thorin and Balin would probably be quite angry with him for ripping the thief apart and leaving his bloodied bits on the street.
The sound of a door being slammed shut shook the warrior from his thoughts and he blinked, finding himself in Thorin’s quarters with Balin, his King, and Billana. All three looked at him before Thorin turned to the confused Hobbit. “Are you or are you not Billana Baggins, heart-lode of Head Guardsman Dwalin, son of Fundin?”
The affronted expression that filled her face as she practically snarled at their King in reply, “H-h-how dare you?! You believe me to be lying?!” told Balin and Dwalin all they needed to know, while Thorin took a step back at the vehement reply, before remembering just who he was and standing straight whilst at the same time defensively crossing his arms over his chest. Far too familiar with the ire of a female to be anything less, though he defiantly kept his head held high and unrepentant.
“As their King and friend, it is my sacred duty to ensure that any who claim to be the soulmate of one of my people speak true.”
Emerald eyes were narrowed quite dangerously up at the dwarf, enraged yet further by this dwarf’s high and mighty attitude. Quite stubbornly she kept her lips sealed, letting her stony silence say everything and for many long moments Thorin scowled right back at her, all too clearly seeing the person who had written him that letter those many years ago.
“As the closest friend to the sons of Fundin,” He growled out the words every dwarf memorized in their earliest years, “it is my honored duty to introduce to you Balin, son of Fundin.”
Billa’s eyes widened and she whirled around to look at Balin, taking in the forked beard with red tunic and robes, before looking at Dwalin. In the back of his mind, the dwarf could not help the pride swell within him at how quickly his emerald put pieces together, but nervousness overcame everything else as his brother bowed.
“Ever am I at your service and your family’s Lady Baggins.” Balin said formally in Westron, voice smooth and pleasant despite the circumstances.
Billana blinked, her mouth in a perfect little ‘o’ of surprise before the expression cleared and she dipped into a graceful curtsy in return, and she willed herself to say the proper words only to find that they were stuck in her throat. After a moment of silence, Balin gifted her an understanding smile, full of gentleness, and moved forward to take her hand and guide her towards his brother in the most formal fashion he could offer her in this small setting, moving until the two lodes were a little more than an arm’s length apart.
“May I have the honor of presenting to you my younger brother, Dwalin, whose name you have born through life, thus supporting him and giving him a reason to remain when all others reasons were of little use.” Someone, possibly Nori, inhaled sharply at this, likely having never guessed the true extent of the damage of the years, the battles, and the running had taken on Dwalin's life and mind.
Dwalin swallowed as he looked down at his heart-lode. Never before had he been so conscience of his appearance, the messiness of his unkempt beard and the wear of his travel stained clothes- the warming of the tips of his ears was a giveaway of the beginning blush. “D-Dwalin at your service.” He bent at the waist but kept her gaze, unwilling to look away should this all be a dream.
Silently she held out her hand and touched his arm where hidden by his tunic and armor lay her name. “Billana Baggins at yours., though I would very much prefer it if you called me Billa.”
Her voice was soft, calling to mind calming spring breezes and the warm summers of a chilhood long lost to time and memory....
And her lips were even sweeter than he'd ever dared to imagine.