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A Second Chance

Chapter Text

Dwalin shifted slightly on his bed. He was over 340 years old and he was tired. He was sure Mahal had forsaken him at this point. His best friend, his kings, his brother, his lover, and all his other family had already passed on. Only little Gimli remained, and he was off with the same elf who had locked the Company up!

“Hmmph,” Dwalin croaked. “Save the world and thinks he can go off gallivanting with an elf of all creatures.” Dwalin grumbled some more before finally settling down. He hoped to die today. Perhaps that was morbid, but he missed his Ori, his brother and everyone else. Some days he even missed Nori. “Miss chasing that little bastard,” Dwalin mumbled as he closed his eyes for the last time. He felt a lightness settle over him. When he opened his eyes again, he was not in Mahal’s Halls.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” he growled. “Where in Mahal’s name am I?” Dwalin couldn’t see anything but shadows of what could be people.

“You, Dwalin Fundinson, are in the presence of Manwe,” a voice said.

“Fantastic! Have I been abandoned by Mahal? Is that why I can’t be with my people?”

“No, I have not forgotten you,” Mahal said as he left the shadows and strode over to Dwalin. “You needed to live this long to see everything that would pass.”

“Why?” Dwalin asked suspiciously.

“So you could prevent it,” another voice said.

“What?”

Before he could get an answer, Mahal touched Dwalin’s forehead and his eyes closed again. He opened them once more and found himself outside of Bag End.

“Oh for–” Dwalin cut himself off as the door opened and Bilbo Baggins stared at him.

Chapter Text

Dwalin stared back, unable to say anything. The last time he had seen Bilbo, the Hobbit was old, so very old, and barely able to walk. He had to be helped by his nephew and Gimli into Thorin’s burial chamber. Bilbo cried over the tomb for a while before having one last meal with the remaining members of the Company. Then he watched as Bilbo left for the West.

Now, though Bilbo was young and full of life. He did look slightly scared however, so Dwalin bowed low, this time making sure to not keep eye contact with him. He trusted Bilbo Baggins with his life.

“Dwalin at your service,” he said roughly as he stood back up.

Bilbo tied his robe tighter and bowed as well. “Bilbo Baggins at yours.”

“May I come in?” Dwalin asked politely.

“Y-yes, of course.” Bilbo stepped aside, opening the door wider. Dwalin stepped in and took a deep breath. If he had to fix things, he may as well start here.

He carefully took off his cloak and weapons, then asked, “Where can I place these?”

“O-over h-here,” Bilbo stuttered as he showed Dwalin a low rack.

Dwalin nodded, hung up his cloak, and laid Grasper and Keeper on the floor. He turned back to Bilbo. “Do you have any extra food? I’m quite hungry after a journey and I know the other lads will be as well.”

“Yes, right. Wait, others?” Bilbo asked in a high pitched voice.

“Didn’t the wizard tell you?” Dwalin scowled.

Bilbo shook his head furiously. “Wizard? Gandalf?”

Dwalin nodded, suddenly understanding why Bilbo had been so upset the first time.

“Gandalf told me nothing! In fact I told him to bugger off! I don’t want any adventures. Oh, that meddling old man!” Bilbo gasped slightly as a thought occurred to him. “Oh dear. How many others?” He wrung his hands together.

“Twelve others and the wizard, I suppose. We’ve travelled from the Blue Mountains.”

“That is a long way!” Bilbo sighed. “Fine, follow me. I’d be a poor host if I left my guests, unwanted or not, starve.”

“Would you mind if I put some of the tables together as there will be so many of us?”

Bilbo sighed again as he rummaged through the pantry. “Go ahead. Oh.” He popped his head out and said, “You may eat my meal over there.” Bilbo waved in the kitchen where Dwalin knew a dinner of fish and more was sitting.

“Your meal?” Dwalin asked aghast. He hadn’t know it was Bilbo’s dinner! He thought the Hobbit set it out for him. “I couldn’t,” Dwalin stated. “I shall wait until the others arrive.” He went into the pantry and guided Bilbo away. “They shall be some time, so please eat.”

“Oh, I couldn’t eat in front of you!”

“I insist,” Dwalin growled as he all but pushed Bilbo into the seat. “I’ll be moving tables and chairs anyway.”

Bilbo nodded, his eyes wide. Dwalin waited until the Hobbit was eating, then he began pushing the large table around. He knew Bombur would sit in the back and it would be better if he had easier access. This time, however, he would make sure Bifur and Bofur sat next to Bombur, mostly to keep Bofur from scaring Bilbo again. And he would make sure Balin sat on Thorin’s right hand side, with Dori next to him. Dwalin wasn’t afraid of being a matchmaker this early on. His brother had never acted on his feelings for the oldest Ri Brother and by the time Balin thought about it, it was far too late. Ori would sit next to Dwalin, with Nori on the other side. Dwalin would also make sure that Fili and Kili were not separated. He would also insure that Bilbo and Thorin started off on a much better foot, although with Thorin that would not be easy.

Perhaps Dwalin could tell Bilbo a bit about why they needed him. Dwalin nodded to himself as he put the last chair in place. Yes, that would be just the thing.

“Maybe I should make name plates?” he muttered.

“Can some people not sit by each other?” Bilbo asked from behind him.

Dwalin jumped and spun around. “By Mahal! You are quiet!” He had forgotten how softly Bilbo could walk.

“S-sorry. But I do have paper, if you would like to make name plates.”

“Perhaps once Thorin gets here,” Dwalin mused.

“Thorin? Who is that?” Bilbo asked, intrigued.

Aha! Dwalin thought. Got him! He cleared his throat and began to speak.

Chapter Text

“Well, Thorin is our king,” Dwalin began.

“King!” Bilbo interrupted. “Oh dear, oh dear.” He wrung his hands together again and was completely oblivious to Dwalin’s glare.

“Yes, king,” Dwalin huffed. “And well. He’s a bit of a bastard, if you’ll pardon my language.”

“How can you say that about your king?” Bilbo gasped.

Dwalin laughed. “He’s my best friend. I’ve known him since we were babes. If anyone call him a bastard it’s me and my brother. And Thorin’s sister, but that’s another tale. Thorin is much more serious than he used to be. He’s grumpy and rarely smiles. He’ll probably insult you as soon as he meets you.”

“Whatever for?”

“He doesn’t think you have what it takes.”

“Takes to do what?” Bilbo’s voice got slightly higher with each question.

“That isn’t for me to say.”

Bilbo huffed this time and stamped his foot. “Wizards and Dwarves invading my home for some reason and you can’t tell me.”

“I’ll let Thorin tell you. Gandalf was supposed to tell you why we need you.” Dwalin scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t know why he didn’t.”

Bilbo was about to answer when the bell rang. He blinked, then frowned and looked down the hall.

Dwalin couldn’t resist a grin as he said, “That’d be the door.”

“Yes, thank you,” Bilbo replied waspishly.

Dwalin chuckled as he heard his brother say, “Balin at your service.”

He made his way into the sitting room and looked for the cookie jar. It had made his brother laugh last time and Dwalin thought that Balin should laugh more often. He swallowed back tears as he thought about the last time he saw his brother, before he, Ori, and Oin left for Moria. Dwalin was suddenly desperate to make his brother laugh. He began trying to shove his hand in the jar and looked frustrated. He heard Balin chuckle and he knew he had succeeded.

“Brother,” Balin said.

Dwalin smiled and put the jar down. “Brother. You look shorter and wider than last we met.” They had just seen each other three days ago, but Dwalin couldn’t let an opportunity pass to tease his brother.

“Wider, not shorter,” Balin shot back.

They grasped forearms and headbutted each other. If Dwalin gripped tighter than normal, Balin said nothing. Dwalin heard Bilbo gasp in the background and looked up to see the Hobbit rubbing his forehead.

“The Wizard didn’t tell Mr. Baggins that we were coming,” Dwalin said as he lead his brother to the pantry.

Balin frowned. “I see.” He turned to Bilbo and said, “We can leave if you’d like Mr. Baggins.”

“No, no. I am looking forward to the company now. I rarely have visitors, and so many at once!” Bilbo smiled, before biting his lip nervously. “I’d also like to learn more about Dwarves, if that’s all right?”

“Of course!” Balin grinned.

“My brother loves to talk about our people. And have him tell you more about Thorin. You may get some peace and quiet before everyone else shows up.”

Bilbo cheered slightly and lead Balin into his study. Balin gave Dwalin an odd look, but Dwalin just shrugged. Then, he shook his head and made himself comfortable in the sitting room. He grabbed the cookie jar, took off his knuckle dusters and began to eat the delicious cookies.

Chapter Text

This time, instead of arguing over the food, Dwalin watched as Balin told Bilbo as much as he was able to about Dwarves.

“You must realize, Mister Baggins, that many of our ways are secret,” Balin said sternly. Bilbo frowned sadly and Dwalin covered his eyes. He couldn’t take the sad face. It seemed Balin couldn’t either and said, “However, I believe if you are able to prove yourself, we could make you an honorary Dwarf and teach you some things.”

Bilbo beamed. Dwalin huffed slightly, thinking, Bilbo is already an honorary Dwarf. Then he realized he got his timelines mixed up. I’ll be doing that a lot I think.

Soon the bell rang again and Bilbo dashed to the door. Dwalin heard, “Fili and Kili at your service.” He sighed. He had hoped Ori and his brothers would be first. Trust Dori to take a slow pace.

“Ah, we better make sure those rascals don’t cause poor Mister Baggins any trouble,” Balin sighed.

Dwalin nodded and followed his brother into the hall. He scowled as he saw Fili loading down Bilbo with weapons and Kili wiping his feet on Belladonna’s glory box. He grabbed them both by the ear, grinning when they yelped in pain.

“Mister Dwalin,” Kili grimaced.

“Lads,” Dwalin acknowledge. “Kili you will clean that mess up and Fili, you shall put your weapons with mine over there.”

“Yes, Mister Dwalin,” they chimed. He let them go and watched as they rubbed their ears, but did as he told them.

“Your mother would be appalled at your manners.”

They both winced at the mention of their mother and cleaned up faster.

Balin chuckled and said, “Works everytime.”

Bilbo giggled just as the bell rang again. He kept laughing as he opened the door. Dwalin sucked in a breath as all the others fell inside, just like last time.

“Gandalf,” Bilbo said disapprovingly, trying to hide his laughter.

Fili, Kili and Dwalin helped the others stand. Dwalin nudged his brother, who graciously helped Dori up. The oldest Ri brother flushed slightly and smiled shyly at Balin. Success. Now to make sure people sit in the right bloody places.

Dwalin reached down again and felt his hand connect with mittens. He looked down and saw Ori looking up at him.

“Mister Dwalin,” Ori said breathlessly. Dwalin hoped it was because Ori saw him, but it was probably because he had been on the bottom of the pile and unable to breath.

“Ori,” Dwalin smiled, unable to hide his happiness at seeing his One. “You look lovely.”

Ori blushed and plucked at his mittens. “You look very good as well, Mister Dwalin.”

Dwalin puffed up with pride, happy he was still appealing to his One. In the first timeline, Ori had kissed his cheek right before they left on their journey, signaling that he would like to court and be courted by Dwalin. Dwalin was unable to do much but gape as Ori dashed off to his brothers and he wasn’t able to reciprocate until Rivendell of all places. Now, however, Dwalin wasn’t about to wait. He leaned down and kissed Ori’s cheek, in full view of the company.

Dori gasped and almost came over, but Balin stopped him with a kiss of his own. Dori’s hand flew to his cheek in shock. Balin smiled, pleased he had managed to gather the courage like his brother. Dwalin watched from next to Ori as Nori poked Dori. Dori squeaked and kissed Balin’s cheek as well. The company cheered.

“What just happened?” Bilbo asked confusedly.

Ah, I should tell him after he meets Thorin. Dwalin thought as Ori snuggled up next to him.

“Dwarves,” Gandalf said fondly.

Chapter Text

“Where is Thorin?” Dwalin asked Gandalf as the others puttered around getting food.

“Well,” Gandalf said as he puffed on his pipe. “He should be here.”

Dwalin glared at the Wizard. “You didn’t tell Bilbo we were coming.”

“I didn’t know you were so informal with Bilbo,” Gandalf shot back. “As if you were old friends.”

Dwalin drew himself up and growled. “What are you up to, Wizard?” Just because the old coot was going to help save Middle Earth, didn’t mean Dwalin was going to cut him any slack.

“I could ask you the same,” Gandalf drawled. Then he left Dwalin fuming in the hallway. Dwalin muttered unflattering things about Gandalf in Khuzdul until Ori laid a hand on his arm.

“Mister Dwalin?” his One asked.

“Call me Dwalin, Ori. We’re practically married.”

“Not yet!” Nori called from the kitchen.

Ori giggled as Dwalin sighed. “Have you eaten yet?” he asked.

Dwalin shook his head. “I was helping Bilbo and I made sure he ate.”

Ori looked at him curiously, but Dwalin only shrugged. Ori grinned, took his hand, and lead them to the table. Dwalin was pleased to see that Balin was sitting next to Dori, but he was also pleased to see that Nori and Bofur were at the back of the table. Perhaps I can do more matchmaking. Aunt Yrunl never mentioned how fun it was. As he sat, Dwalin’s eyes swept over Bifur and Oin communicating through iglishmek. He was suddenly struck with the thought of Oin’s personality change after Bifur died of complications from his head wound after the Battle of Five Armies. Ah. Ah. I shall fix that as well. Even if I wasn’t supposed to.

The Company ate loudly and boisterously, this time with Bilbo joining in. The Hobbit was very pleased that they weren’t using his mother’s good china. The Company was shocked to learn how many meals Hobbits ate as Bilbo helped himself to more food. That hadn’t learned that fact until Laketown. After the meal, instead of singing a song to irritate Bilbo even further, they sang a work song as they cleaned up. Bilbo clapped along as they threw the dishes around and sang loudly. Just like last time, when the song ended, a heavy knock came at the door.

Stupid bastard, Dwalin thought with a scowl as he raced to answer the door before Gandalf. Thinks he isn’t allowed any fun. Well I’m going to make him have fun and he’ll like it. Dwalin darted out the door and shut it firmly behind him, holding onto the knob with all his might.

“Dwalin, what are you doing?” Thorin asked in surprise when Dwalin gave him a small shove backwards.

“I’m courting Ori, Balin is courting Dori, I think Bofur wants to court Nori and Oin wants to court Bifur. The burglar was not told by Gandalf what we need him for and for the love of Mahal don’t insult him. He’s our bloody host even when he didn’t have to be. And next time we sing, you better join in or I’ll thump you myself,” Dwalin said quickly.

Thorin frowned. “Well, congratulations, but can we go in? It’s cold.”

“How can you tell in that coat?” Dwalin asked jokingly as he opened the door. He peaked around the corner and saw Balin standing there, with an eyebrow raised.

“Well, someone had to tell Thorin about the Wizard’s mistake,” Dwalin protested.

Both Balin and Thorin snorted.

Dwalin huffed and said, “Hang up your bloody coat, you oaf.”

Thorin smiled slightly and did as Dwalin said. Then he looked over and saw his nephews, so his smile widened. Dwalin felt a pang in his chest and went over to Ori, whom he kissed on the head. Ori smiled up at him before going back to watch Thorin yell at Gandalf.

Chapter Text

While Thorin grilled Gandalf about what he was up too, Dwalin asked Bilbo for paper and ink. “Ori is a Scribe, you see, and he’d be the best for making name plates.”

“Oh!” Bilbo said with delight. “A Scribe! Does he like to read?”

Dwalin pointed to Ori, who had wandered off and was now reading some of Bilbo’s books. “Aye.”

Bilbo beamed. “Wonderful. I’ll have to chat with him later, but, aha, here, yes. The paper and ink.” He handed them over with a flourish.

“Thank you, Bilbo,” Dwalin said with a slight bow.

“Oh no problem. I should go help Bombur get some food ready for your king.”

Dwalin watched Bilbo scurry off and then walked over to Ori. “Would you help me with something?”

Ori looked up from his book. “Of course, Dwalin! What is it?”

Dwalin held out the paper and ink. “I want to make name plates so people know where to sit while Thorin talks.”

Ori looked confused.

“It’s very important.”

“Okay then. Why not ask Balin?”

“I want to spend time with you,” Dwalin said. He could feel a slight flush work its way up his neck.

Ori flushed as well. He followed Dwalin to the dining table. Once there he carefully wrote out each name and Dwalin placed them around the table. He had Thorin at the head of the table, with Gandalf next to him, but of the Company, since Dwalin remembered the Wizard leaving them for some time. Dwalin placed himself next to Gandalf, then Ori, Fili, Kili, Gloin, and Oin. Bombur was at the other end with Bifur next to him. Then there was Bofur, Nori, Dori, Balin, and Bilbo. Dwalin figured Dori could keep Nori out of trouble and still keep an eye on Ori. Plus, he remembered that Balin and Bilbo had grown to be close friends, so why not foster that relationship now?

Once Thorin was done scolding Gandalf, the others took that as their cue to move into the dining room. They began to sit anywhere when Bofur noticed the name plates.

“What is this?” he asked, waving around the paper with Bilbo’s name on it.

Ori blushed and stuttered out. “N-name places. Plates. For you to sit at.”

“I asked Ori to do them,” Dwalin growled deeply. He brought his shoulders back and cracked his knuckles. The other dwarves began to shuffle around, looking for their names.

“You do have a way with words, don’t you brother?” Balin laughed.

Dwalin sniffed and plopped down next to Ori. There was a conveniently placed bowl of cookies, which Dwalin dragged his way. He had not forgotten the taste of Bilbo’s cookies after all these years.

Bilbo came into the room with food for Thorin and blinked. “Oh, is that space for me?” he asked.

“Aye,” Dwalin said. “You might as well sit while Thorin explains.”

Thorin gave him a strange look, but began eating the soup, bread, and meat given to him by Bilbo. “The others will not come. They say it is a foolhardy quest.”

There was murmuring among the dwarves, but Oin spoke up and said, “The portents say–” The others groaned, cutting the healer off. He glared at them fiercely and repeated loudly, “THE PORTENTS SAY that we must go to reclaim our homeland. The thrush flies home and so must we!”

Gloin and Bifur banged on the table in agreement. Balin shook his head.

“Without an army how shall we face down a dragon?” he asked. “We aren’t the best, nor the brightest.”

“A dragon?” Bilbo squeaked.

He was ignored as Fili said, “We are few in number, but we are willing to do anything to reclaim Erebor!”

Kili cheered. Ori almost stood up, but Dwalin kept a tight grip on his One. Ori frowned slightly, but Dwalin shook his head.

Soon the others began arguing about what they needed to take back Erebor. Thorin stood up and roared in Khuzdul, “Atkât!” The group quieted as Thorin continued. “Do you not think we are the only ones to see these signs! There will be others going after our mountain.” He sank back down with a sigh. “Although I do not know what we will do once we get there.”

“I can help with that,” Gandalf said calmly.

I’m sure you can, Dwalin glared fiercely as Gandalf pulled out the map and key.

“If there’s a key, there must be a door,” Kili said.

Dwalin rolled his eyes, but saw Fili look at his brother fondly. Idiots, Dwalin thought indulgently. He knew they were smarter than most figured, but sometimes the Durin in them slipped out to show it’s stupidity. Us Durins are known for stating the obvious.

“How did you come by these?” Thorin growled.

Gandalf shrugged and laid the map flat. Bilbo rose out of his seat to read, “The Lonely Mountain.”

“Yes,” Thorin rumbled, still upset with Gandalf. “Our homeland. There lies Smaug, the dragon who has lived there for the past few decades.”

“Decades?” Bilbo repeated. “Wait, dragon?”

“Aye, he’ll melt the flesh off your bones,” Bofur joked from his end of the table. Nori snickered, while Dori rolled his eyes. Dwalin saw Bifur smack his cousin on the back of the head and smirked.

“What?” Bilbo squeaked.

“It’s all in the contract,” Thorin said.

“What contract?”

“To be our Burglar.”

“I’ve never stolen anything in my life!”

“See he’s a master at it!” Oin said, causing the others to start arguing.

Dwalin sighed as Ori said, “Gandalf could handle the dragon while Mister Bilbo stole from him!”

“He must have killed hundreds of dragons,” Dori agreed.

“The wilds is no place for a novice!” Gloin roared.

“I can teach him all he needs,” Nori shouted back.

Dwalin looked at his brother, who was chuckling and shaking his head. Balin has far too much fun in watching others fight. Idiot.

This time it was Gandalf who said quite loudly, “IF I SAY BILBO BAGGINS is a burglar, than a burglar he is.” Gandalf looked at Bilbo fondly. “Bilbo has more to offer this Company than even he knows.”

“No, no,” Bilbo shook his head. “No.” He stood and marched away.

Dwalin sighed. He looked at his brother and said, “Give our idiot cousin the contract.”

“Which one?” Balin smirked as he pulled out the contract.

There was some noise of outrage, but Balin passed it to Thorin.

“And what am I to do with this?” Thorin asked as he took the contract.

“Go talk to our Burglar, obviously,” Dwalin said. He stood and grabbed Thorin’s arm, pulling the king up. “This way.” He dragged Thorin towards Bilbo’s sitting room and pushed him inside. “Hello, Bilbo, Thorin will explain everything. Don’t be rude, cousin. The rest of us shall clean up.”

Dwalin smiled widely as he left the two behind, both with bewildered looks on their faces. “All right, you layabouts, let’s clean this place up!” he bellowed as he walked down the hallway. He was pleased to see Fili and Kili move quickly.

“Am I a layabout, Dwalin?” Ori asked shyly.

“Of course not,” Dwalin smiled affectionately at Ori. “You still have to clean though, it’s only polite since Bilbo wasn’t expecting us.”

“He wasn’t?” Ori asked wide-eyed. “Oh dear.”

Dwalin nodded and left Ori with a kiss. “I’ll go help Dori move furniture back.”

“I’ll help with the weapons.”

The group of dwarves worked efficiently and quickly, while Gandalf sat smoking his pipe and watching with amusement. They sat around in the other sitting room and smoked. Soon, Thorin and Bilbo entered. Thorin handed the contract to Balin with a shake of his head, and moved to the fireplace, while Bilbo hesitated in the doorway.

Dwalin looked between them and sighed lightly. Ori snuggled up next to him. He blinked and thought back to when he had last seen Bilbo. Old Bilbo admitted that he had only signed the contract because of Thorin’s singing. The song moved him and Thorin’s deep timber made him shiver. Old Bilbo had let out a little sob, but also said it was the best time of his life, besides raising Frodo.

Now, Dwalin once again swallowed back tears and began to hum. Thorin quickly picked up the song. As all the others joined in, Dwalin glanced over at Bilbo, who was leaning against the frame. His eyes seemed to glassy, as if he was holding back tears. Dwalin wouldn’t be surprised, especially if Thorin told him about how Smaug attacked Erebor.

Once the song ended, Bilbo cleared his throat and showed all the dwarves to bed. He had many rooms. Dwalin liked this better than last time, when they all slept on the floor. Balin placed the unsigned contract on the table as he left the room. Dwalin hoped Bilbo would sign the contract before they left the house this time.

****

Dwalin woke up to the smell of bacon. He snuffled into his pillow and felt for Ori. That side of the bed was empty. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Balin knocked on the door and stuck his head in the room.

“Get dressed, brother, or all the food will be gone,” the elder Fundinson said.

“Food?” Dwalin asked sleepily.

Balin snorted. “Like a child. Yes, food. Mister Baggins signed the contract and is now making us breakfast.”

“Did he pack?” Dwalin stood and stretched. “He can’t forget his handkerchief this time.”

“This time?” Balin repeated. He stared up at his younger brother, both eyebrows trying to reach his hairline.

“Oh, uh. I just woke up?” Dwalin tried.

“Okay. You can question Mister Baggins about his packing over breakfast.” Balin backed out of the room and shut the door.

“I will!” Dwalin shouted. “Little bugger has no idea what he’s in for,” he finished in a mumble.

Chapter Text

The Company left Bag End later than last time, but since Bilbo had signed the contract no one minded as he told his friend, Hamfast, to watch the house while he was gone. Dwalin hovered behind him, looking as intimidating as possible.

“And don’t let those Sackville-Bagginses get their paws on it,” Dwalin rumbled at Hamfast when Bilbo was out of earshot.

Hamfast nodded quickly and darted back inside his smial. Dwalin nodded and turned back to get on his horse. He ignored his brother and Gandalf’s strange looks and rode next to Ori. Dori gave him the evil eye, but allowed it.

As they rode on, Balin moved up next to Dwalin. He nodded at Ori, who smiled back and held back to ride next to his brothers for a bit.

Dwalin scowled. “What do you want?”

“Can’t I talk to my own brother?” Balin asked innocently.

“No,” Dwalin grumped. He might act annoyed, but by Mahal it had been centuries since he had been able to banter with his brother.

Balin snorted. “What are you up to?”

“What do you mean?”

“You started courting Ori, you’ve been calling Mister Baggins by his given name, and you’ve been quite rude to Gandalf.”

Dwalin muttered nasty things about Gandalf under his breath, but did feel slightly chastised as Balin gave him a look. “Well, it was rude not to tell Bilbo we were coming.”

“Since when did you care about being rude?” Balin asked accusingly.

Dwalin made a face at his brother. “I’ve got manners.”

Balin laughed. Dwalin smiled to himself and used the opportunity to question his brother about Dori.

“Why’d you kiss Dori?”

Balin stopped laughing and looked back at his One with a soppy smile on his face. “Well, if one Fundinson could work up the courage to kiss his One in front of everyone, so could the other.”

“Everything together, eh?” Dwalin recalled when they were younger and promised each other to do anything important together. It irked Dwalin to no end that Balin had left for Moria without him.

“Exactly,” Balin smiled. “Besides who knows what will happen on this journey. That is why you kissed Ori isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Dwalin said hesitantly. “It’ll be hard to court them on the road, but I feel it’ll be worth it in the end.”

Balin nodded and was quietly thoughtful for the rest of the day.

This doesn’t bode well for me, Dwalin grimaced.

****

As night approached, Dwalin rode up next to Thorin, who was in the lead. “We need to talk about who’s on watch with who,” he said.

“I thought you had decided already,” Thorin replied, shooting him a suspicious look.

Dwalin just shrugged.

“You just want to spend time with Ori,” Thorin teased.

“How else will I court him properly?”

“Fine, fine. Tell me the groups.”

Dwalin shifted on his pony and said, “Well, Nori and Bofur, Bifur and Oin, Gloin and Bombur, Balin and Dori, me and Ori, Fili and Kili, then you, Bilbo and Gandalf.”

Thorin scowled harshly at the mention of Bilbo. “The Halfling doesn’t seem to like me.”

“Well, now’s the time to show him you aren’t an ass.”

Thorin huffed. “Perhaps I did insult him as I was explaining out quest.”

“You called him a grocer didn’t you?” Dwalin groaned.

“I. Yes,” Thorin said, startled. “How did you know?”

“I know you, cousin. The groups?”

“Fine,” Thorin sighed. “Do not blame me if the Halfling runs away.”

Dwalin grumbled, but let the subject drop. The next few days would test his patience and sanity.

***

The days passed and the Company grew closer, except Thorin was still an ass towards Bilbo. Dwalin wasn’t a Wizard, so he figured that relationship would just have to move at a snail’s pace.

They reached the edge of the Shire and transitioned into Breeland, which made Dwalin tense. He knew the endless days of rain were approaching, but it was what happened after that made him uncomfortable. Fili and Kili would tease Bilbo about Orcs, setting Thorin off, making Balin tell the story of Azanulbizar, which lead to Azog. Dwalin hated Azog.

The rain did come, like Dwalin feared. He snorted as Bilbo sassed Gandalf. Old coot deserves all the hassle he gets, he thought viciously. Gandalf turned to glare at him like he could hear what Dwalin was thinking. He probably can. So, Dwalin thought the most insulting Khuzdul words at the Wizard.

****

It was three days after the rain stopped, when the night that Dwalin worried about happened. Fili and Kili were on watch, with Thorin dozing nearby. Balin and Gandalf were talking by a tree and Bilbo had just gotten up to feed his pony. Dwalin should have been asleep, but he couldn’t.

“What’s that?” Bilbo asked worriedly as he shuffled closer towards the fire.

The boys exchanged a look. Dwalin groaned internally.

“Orcs,” Fili mock whispered.

Dwalin saw Thorin’s eyes shoot up and sit up, reaching for his sword.

“O-orcs?” Bilbo stuttered.

“They come out at night,” Kili picked up. “Lots of blood and screaming.”

Bilbo shivered. Thorin stomped up behind him and asked angrily, “You think joking about an Orc raid is funny?”

Bilbo sighed in relief, but glared at the boys, who looked contrite.

“We were just having fun,” Kili tried. Fili gave him a little smack to warn him against talking anymore.

“You know nothing of the world,” Thorin snapped. He stalked away to the edge of the cliff and looked out into the night.

Balin then strode over and said, “Thorin’s got more reason than most to hate Orcs.” Balin wove his tale and the others woke up. Soon they were all watching Thorin, who turned back to the group, more composed than before.

“What about the Pale Orc?” Bilbo asked. “What happened to him?”

“He died of his wounds long ago,” Thorin said brusquely as he walked past.

This time Dwalin saw the look Gandalf and Balin exchanged. He figured Gandalf knew most things, but how did his brother know. He’d be sure to question him after Azog made an appearance.

If only I could spare Thorin that encounter, Dwalin thought sadly as he lay back down next to Ori. His One cuddled close and Dwalin sighed happily.

Chapter Text

Fili and Kili cuddled together against the cold as they watched the ponies. Uncle Thorin had told them to be careful, but watchful.

“Anything could happen,” he had said sternly.

They had nodded seriously, but soon forgot his warnings as the night became colder.

“Nothing will happen here. It’s safe here,” Kili mumbled into Fili’s chest.

“Except for the burned down house,” Fili point out.

Kili shrugged and played with Fili’s braids. Fili sighed and pulled Kili closer. They sat in silence for sometime before Kili asked, “Would you still love me if I had a fish tail?”

“What?” Fili asked in shock as he looked down at his brother.

Kili flushed slightly, but repeated, “Would you still love me if I had a fish tail?”

“Well, that’s a stupid question.” Kili flinched and made to pull away, but Fili held firm. “It’s stupid,” Fili continued. “Because I’d love you if you were a Hobbit, a Man, or even an Elf. By Mahal, I’d love you if you were an Orc. So, yes, little brother, I’d love you if you had a fish tail.”

“Oh,” Kili blushed again. He sat up so he could look Fili in the eye. Once he saw his brother wasn’t lying, Kili kissed him fiercely. They kissed until they heard a large thump. Looking up Kili blinked at the ponies.

“Fili,” he said nervously.

“Yes?” Fili mumbled against Kili’s neck.

“I think we’re missing some ponies.”

Chapter Text

Dwalin watched Gandalf stalk off with a huff, and sighed. No matter how much Dwalin kept himself as a wall between Gandalf and Thorin, his idiot cousin still managed to upset the Wizard. Which Dwalin knew that they would encounter those trolls again. I’m only letting this idiocy happen so Bilbo and Thorin can have their swords, he thought grumpily.

He scowled down at the ground until a familiar pair of shoes were in his field of vision. He looked and smiled, “Ori.”

“Dwalin,” Ori replied shyly. He held out a bowl of food to Dwalin, who took it and motioned for Ori to sit.

“Why do you look so angry?”

“Thorin,” Dwalin growled as he angrily ate the stew. “He’s an idiot.”

Ori giggled.

“Ah, so you agree with me.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you didn’t deny it either,” Dwalin teased.

“I could never say anything against our king!” Ori cried in mock anguish. He glanced around to make sure no one heard him, before smiling widely at Dwalin.

Dwalin grabbed Ori by the back of the neck and knocked their foreheads together gently. “I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Ori blushed deeply. “I feel the same,” he said. He quickly kissed Dwalin and then darted back to his brothers’ side.

Maybe this time the trolls won’t be too bad, Dwalin thought as he stared after Ori. He saw Bilbo walk past carrying bowls of food and began to prepare for battle.

Chapter Text

Thorin scowled as he watched Gandalf stalk away. That Wizard was an uchrâch. Once Gandalf had left, Dwalin practically rushed over to Thorin, beating his brother to the King’s side by mere seconds.

“What are you doing?” Dwalin growled.

Thorin looked at him askance. “I could ask the same of you!” He lowered his voice as Balin stepped forward serenely. “You have been at my back the whole journey, trying to make me like the Hobbit and take counsel from the Wizard.”

“His name is Bilbo,” Dwalin grit out. “And being a stubborn…Bund Khathuzhaz will get you killed!”

Dwalin stalked away. Thorin blinked and turned to Balin, “What has gotten into him?”

Balin sighed deeply. “Perhaps my brother is right about Master Baggins. He is coming along to face a dragon and Smaug.”

Thorin narrowed his eyes at his cousin. Balin smiled back, his eyes twinkling. Thorin scowled and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Now, now, cousin, don’t pout.” Balin pat Thorin on the arm. “If you’ll excuse me, my One needs my attention.”

Thorin made a face as Balin smirked wickedly and walked away. Thorin looked away from his cousin and swept over the Company. Bombur and Gloin were getting a fire ready for dinner, while Oin was checking Bifur’s head wound. Bofur chatted with Nori, as the middle Ri watched over both his siblings talking to Dwalin and Balin. Fili and Kili were teasing Master Baggins before going to keep watch. The Hobbit watched them with a slightly fond look on his face, which surprised Thorin. He straightened his shoulders and marched over to the Hobbit.

“Why do you look at them like that?” he asked gruffly, startling the Hobbit.

Master Baggins spun around, a hand over his chest. He frowned and said curtly, “Dwarves are usually louder than that!”

“I’ve had practice at being quiet,” Thorin shot back.

A strange look passed over the Hobbit’s face. “I look at them like that because they remind me of my cousins. Full of life and energy and trouble makers all of them.”

They stood in silence, watching the path Fili and Kili took.

Master Baggins cleared his throat. “What was all that...kissing about in my house?”

Thorin looked down at the Burglar with a small frown. “That’s how Dwarves court. It begins with a kiss on the cheek, which states your intentions.”

“Does it matter which cheek?”

“No, and that is the only part that does not matter.”

“What do you mean?” The Halfling asked with a look of confusion.

“Dwarven rituals are very...precise and rigid. They change very little over time. Everything you do after the kiss must be correct or you could insult an entire clan. Couples must exchange presents; things they make, family heirlooms, jewels, weaponry, armor, and finally something for any children that may occur.”

“Even between two males?”

Thorin shrugged. “There are always orphans or Dwarrowdams willing to birth children without taking care of the child.”

The Hobbit hummed in understanding.

Thorin shifted and finally gave in to ask, “How do Hobbits court?”

“Oh, um. It might seem silly to Dwarves, but we court with flowers. It’s not nearly so formal as yours, but there still is a structure. All flowers having meaning and if someone is ambiguous in their meaning, well, let’s just say family dinners are strained, what with everyone being related somehow,” the Burglar said with a grin.

Thorin snorted in amusement, which caused the Halfling’s grin to grow wider. “Do you make anything?” Thorin asked, as he had noticed not a lot of metal in the Shire. He thought perhaps they were woodworkers.

“Not usually.” The Hobbit’s eyes grew distant and his grin became a soft smile. “My father made Bag End for my mother. They planned to have many children, but in the end they only had me.”

Thorin reached out a hand and gently laid it on the Halfling’s shoulder. “I’m sure they were very proud of you.”

Master Baggins rubbed at his eyes before saying, “Oh yes, Mother would be chuffed at what I was doing. She’d probably try to come along, which would mean Father would have to come as well. Never separated those two.”

Before Thorin could say more, Bofur’s voice rang out, “Supper time!”

Thorin’s hand dropped from Bilbo’s shoulder. “Come Master Baggins, before all the food is gone.”

“Yes, I know. Your Dwarves cleaned out my pantry!” The Halfling stated with annoyance. He marched over to the food, shoving past Nori and Gloin.

Thorin shook his head in amusement and went to stand next to Dwalin. He nudged his cousin with his elbow, who nudged back.

Chapter Text

The thing about Trolls is that they stunk. Dwalin had tried to burn that out of his memory, but as soon as he hit the camp with the rest of the Company, it all came back. Fili had tumbled out of the woods talking about Trolls and Bilbo. Kili was left behind as a scout, but Dwalin knew the brat would try to be heroic. The Company scrambled to arms quickly and were soon fighting the trolls.

Dwalin gagged as he swung his hammer into a Trolls mouth. Troll breath wasn’t any better the second time around. He hoped to prolong the fight to give Bilbo enough time to save the ponies and give Gandalf enough time to get back. However, Dwalin forgot that Bilbo was stubborn. Once the Hobbit had released the ponies, he tried to help by throwing rocks. One Troll scooped up the small Hobbit and held him up by the arms.

“Stop or he’s ripped in half!” the Troll yelled.

All the Dwarves froze. Dwalin dropped his weapons resignedly before Thorin even made the motion. Everyone looked at strangely, but only dropped their weapons when Thorin did. Ori even threw his slingshot down as cutely as he did last time. Dwalin grinned fondly even as he was scooped up and thrown in a bag.

****

“Oh, not again!” Dwalin cried softly as he was rotated on a spit. The only good thing was that Ori was not on the spit this time, but Oin was, which was making Bifur furious. His wiggling was threatening to make the whole spit collapse, despite the strength of the Trolls.

Dwalin grunted as went around for a third time. He shouted, “I am not for eating! You can’t eat dwarves this way!” His last sentence was lost of the sound of everyone else shouting, but Dwalin did see Bilbo’s ears prick up. Hmmph, Hobbits Elf-like ears did come in handy. For once.

Bilbo stood and hopped over to the edge of the fire. He then proceeded to trick the trolls into pausing their roasting. While everyone else roared and moaned their displeasure, Dwalin grinned manically. When Bilbo mentioned that they had parasites, Dwalin was the first to shout, “Yes! I do!”

Once again, Thorin caught on quickly and with a swift kick to Kili, soon the whole Company was confessing to their parasites. Soon, Gandalf was swooping in and turning the Trolls to stone.

These swords better be bloody worth it, Dwalin thought viciously as he got off the spit. He wobbled a bit, but was helped by his brother. “Thank you, brother.”

“Anytime, brother,” Balin said with a smile.

After the Company was dressed, Gandalf lead them to the Troll Horde. Dwalin valiantly ignored Gloin, Nori, and Bofur ‘making a deposit’ and focused on Thorin claiming Orcrist. He snorted loudly when Thorin nearly dropped it when Gandalf mentioned it was made by Elves.

Bund Dhargaz,” Dwalin said when Thorin shot him a glare. He thought the insult was appropriate.

Thorin huffed, but strapped the sword to his belt. He clapped Dwalin on the shoulder and together they left the cave. Balin waited for them outside. Dwalin barely listened as Thorin and Balin talked. His attention was on Gandalf, making sure the Wizard gave Bilbo Sting.

****

It was later, as they were running from Orcs, that Dwalin appreciated Radagast more than he had last time. Yes, the Brown Wizard was barmy, but he was taking a great risk. When Radagast had crashed into them, Dwalin had moved toward Thorin.

“Ready your bow, Kili,” he said quietly as the Wizards talked.

Kili frowned, but did as Dwalin asked. Dwalin was rewarded for his memory when a sharp howl sounded.

“Is that a wolf?” Bilbo asked nervously, inching closer to Gandalf.

“No, that is no wolf,” Bofur replied, also nervous. “That’s a warg.”

A warg shot out of the trees, but didn’t even make it to Thorin before an arrow landed squarely between its eyes. Dwalin smashed it with his axe, just to make sure it was dead. He looked over at Ori, whose eyes were wide with concern. Dwalin tried to smile reassuringly, but he knew what was to come.

“No one!” Dwalin heard Thorin roar. He turned back to see Thorin and Gandalf ready to come to blows. Suddenly, a horn sounded in the distance.

“We must leave!” Gandalf shouted.

“I can head them off,” Radagast spoke up.

“These are Gundabad Wargs,” Gandalf said with concern.

“These are Rhosgobel rabbits.” Radagast gestured to his sleigh.

Gandalf blinked before nodding. “Run!”

They ran.

****

I hate running. No more running ever, Dwalin thought to himself as they hid behind an outcropping. He knew they were close to the secret entrance to Rivendell, but the Wargs were fast closing in on them.

They were surrounded in an open field. Everyone drew their weapons.

“Where is Gandalf?” Thorin cried.

“Don’t worry, cousin,” Dwalin shouted back.

Thorin threw him a confused look, but was stopped by Gandalf’s shout of, “Over here, you fools!”

They ran over to the Wizard, and Dwalin practically threw Bilbo and Ori down into the cave. He waited until Thorin had caught up with him and slid down.

“Kili!” both Thorin and Fili yelled.

Kili soon tumbled in with Thorin right behind him. A few Orc arrows came in, but the sound of horses and trumpets stopped them. An Orc body slid down and hit Bombur, who bounced away. Thorin yanked the arrow from the Orc’s body and said disgustedly, “Elves. Where do you lead us, Gandalf?”

Gandalf hummed. “Shall we?”

“Yes!” Bofur cried out, already halfway down the narrow passage.

When they emerged, Dwalin let out a deep breath. He heard Ori gasp in wonder and turned to look at his One with a grin. Ori grinned back and grabbed Dwalin’s hand. They looked over Rivendell with wonder and a sense of peace.

This time Dwalin heard how Bilbo said, “Rivendell.” It was almost reverent.

That does not bode well for future dealings, Dwalin thought as he lead Ori down the cliff passage and onto a proper road. He glanced at his cousin and winced at Thorin’s stormy look. Definitely does not bode well.

Chapter Text

For some reason the Company had to wait around in Rivendell for ten days. Thorin didn’t like it, but Gandalf insisted that it was necessary. Thorin had grumbled but after talking it over, agreed to wait. The Company needed rest and to stock up on provisions. Plus, it gave Dwalin time to scour Lord Elrond’s books about the One Ring.

Balin had found him in the Library once. His brother had given him a long, hard look before turning and leaving.

Dwalin laughed about that for hours.

He had also taken to stalking Lord Elrond around Rivendell. He wanted to corner the Elf when he was alone, but he rarely was. There was that steward Lindir following him or an Elf with long blonde hair or an Elf that looked very stressed out.

Finally, he asked Ori to keep Lindir at bay with questions about Elves. Ori was confused, but he genuinely wanted to know more about Elves so he did as Dwalin asked.

Dwalin waited until Lindir and Ori had left, then snuck inside Lord Elrond’s office. He looked around, making sure no one else was there.

“Elven ears are quite good, you know, Master Dwalin,” Lord Elrond said as he came out from behind a bookshelf. He was reading a book and walking to his desk. Dwalin was impressed. Takes a lot of training to do three or more things at once.

“I know, Lord Elrond. I came to ask you a question,” Dwalin replied with a bow.

Elrond looked up from his book and blinked. “About what?”

“The Rings of Power.”

Dwalin watched as a dark look crossed Elrond’s face. He stared back at the Elf Lord steadily.

“What do you want to know?”

“I know about the Dwarven Rings, I’ve heard about the Rings of Men, and honestly I don’t care about the Elven Rings. I want to know about the One Ring.”

Elrond shut his book with a loud clap and threw it on the desk. Items on the desk rattled from the force. “The One Ring is gone.”

“Are you certain? Gandalf got a strange package from Radagast. I know there’s a meeting being called here, with the White Wizard and the Great Elven Lady herself coming.”

Elrond sucked in a breath. “How do you know this?”

Dwalin shrugged. “I listen.” Truthfully, Gandalf had told them after young Frodo had completed his mission, but Elrond didn’t need to know that.

“Hmmph,” Lord Elrond scoffed.

“There’s something brewing. Something the pushed Gandalf enough to send us off to kill a dragon,” Dwalin insisted. He knew Thorin had told Elrond the reason for their travels when he had shown the Elf Thrain’s map.

“Perhaps,” Elrond agreed. “But the One Ring is lost forever.”

“Nothing is lost forever. Nothing that evil can just give up. It’s laying in wait for someone.”

Elrond frowned at Dwalin. “Someone?”

“Someone...special,” Dwalin replied. “Someone innocent.”

Elrond hummed and walked to a large window. Dwalin followed.

“What do you want to know, Master Dwalin?”

“How would you destroy it?”

“Heat. Immense heat.”

“Hotter than a forge I take it?”

Elrond chuckled as he looked over his valley. “Yes. It can only be destroyed by the fire from whence it was made, Mount Doom, or dragon fire.”

“Huh,” Dwalin said. Didn’t know that. Might be useful. “What does it do to a person?”

Elrond paused in thought. “It is not unlike Dwarven gold sickness. It makes you lust and covent the One Ring alone. It also enhances the lust for other things.”

“Like gems and gold?” Dwalin asked. Things were beginning to make a lot of sense.

“Yes.”

“Does it only affect the bearer?”

“No,” Elrond said with a shake of his head. “The One Ring is able to affect many beings that are near it, especially for a prolonged period of time.” The Elf Lord turned to Dwalin. “Is that all?”

Dwalin thought before asking, “May I speak to the Great Elf Lady?”

Elrond sighed, but nodded. “I will let you know when she arrives.”

“Thank you, Lord Elrond.”

****

Three days later, Dwalin was summoned to see Lady Galadriel. He straightened his back and walked proudly alongside another Elf with blonde hair. The Elf inclined his head towards the room and Dwalin swallowed. He had been wanting to meet her since Gimli came home with Legolas and did not shut up about the Great Elven Lady. Everyone in Erebor had taken to calling her that, and even now Dwalin couldn’t break the habit.

The Lady was facing a small window, her back to the door.

“My Lady,” he said with a bow. Dwalin had to take a deep breath as she turned to face him. She was just as beautiful as Gimli said.

She smiled at him kindly. “Dwalin, son of Fundin.”

“Uh, you know me my Lady?” he asked nervously.

“The Valar have given me many gifts, as they have you.”

She knows, Dwalin thought wildly. He sighed loudly in relief as her smiled widened. “I died a long time from now. Mahal saw fit to bring me back. To fix things.” It was nice to talk to someone who knew.

“Some things cannot be fixed,” she replied lightly, her face becoming neutral.

“I will save my family from being torn apart.”

The Lady inclined her head. “You still have much to face.”

“I…” Dwalin began, but the Lady cut him off.

“You know what you must do, and I do not want to know.” Suddenly, her eyes alighted with mischief and a small smile graced her face. “Besides, somethings are better left unknown.”

Dwalin chuckled. He bowed again. “Thank you, my Lady.”

“It was an honor, Dwalin, son of Fundin. I look forward to meeting more of your kin.”

“Perhaps you should come to my wedding. I think you would like it.”

Lady Galadriel laughed loudly. “I would love to come.”

Dwalin smiled, pleased. Ori would adore having an Elf come to their wedding. Dwalin bowed again and left her room.

On the way back to their rooms, he ran into his brother and cousins. They all gave him another strange look, but he only smiled.

Oh yes, a perk of repeating the past was most definitely messing with your family.

Chapter Text

Dwalin could have lived another 340 years without a stone giant battle. It was just as terrifying the second time as it had been the first time. The only positive was…actually, Dwalin decided as another large rock flew at his head, there were no positives. Not even having Ori close to him was good because the group was split up. Dwalin not only had to hear Fili and Kili cry for each other, he had to hear Ori cry for his brothers.

However, once they were reunited, Bilbo had still fallen over the edge, despite Dwalin’s best attempts at keeping the Hobbit safe. Then he watch as Thorin saved Bilbo’s life only to berate the Hobbit. Dwalin narrowed his eyes as they entered the cave and pulled his cousin aside.

“Please, do not tell me you just insulted the Hobbit for something beyond his control,” Dwalin said with a glare.

“He could have been killed,” Thorin hissed.

“Do you care for him?” Dwalin asked, not surprised in the least about his cousin’s actions.

Thorin made a strangled noise and stalked off. Dwalin grinned and moved over to Dori, Nori and Ori.

“Everything all right here?” he asked.

“Just fine, Mister Dwalin,” Dori said. “A few scrapes and bruises, but nothing we can’t handle.”

“Just Dwalin, Dori. We’re going to be brother-in-laws on all sides soon,” Dwalin said kindly. He grabbed Ori’s hand and rubbed the younger Dwarves knuckles lightly. Ori blushed, but didn’t pull away.

Nori narrowed his eyes at Dwalin and flipped his knife around and around. “You hurt my baby brother, Fundinson, and we will have words.”

Dwalin nodded. “Agreed.”

“Good.” Nori sniffed and crept over to Balin, presumably to have the same conversation.

“Don’t worry about Nori,” Ori said as he slid closer to Dwalin. “He’s just as protective as Dori, but he won’t admit it.”

Dwalin grunted and pulled Ori into a hug. “Sleep next to me.”

Ori nodded. He snuggled into Dwalin’s hold with a sigh.

****

Dwalin tried to sleep. He really did. He couldn’t though. Not with the knowledge that at any moment the floor would collapse beneath them and they would fall into Goblin hands.

So Dwalin was wide awake when Bilbo got up and headed for the cave entrance. I see, he thought. That’s why Bilbo was in the back. He’d been one of the last down. He subtly moved his head to look at Thorin, who was staring straight ahead, trying to ignore Bilbo. It wasn’t working, however, because Dwalin saw some pain and regret cross his cousin’s face. Dwalin tightened his hold on Ori as soon as Thorin yelled.

Ori screamed as they fell down the long tunnel, but Dwalin kept a tight hold on him. He spun midair and landed on his back with a thud. Ori grunted as they impacted on the catwalk.

“Are you okay, Dwalin?” Ori asked frantically.

“Yeah,” Dwalin grunted. “Had to keep you safe.”

“Oh, Dwalin.”

“Not now,” Nori hissed as a group of Goblins came running at them.

Dwalin took Ori towards the back of the pack and found Bilbo. Ori was preoccupied with staying near Dori and Nori than watching Dwalin. Dwalin glanced around, winked at Bilbo, and pushed the Hobbit down into a crouch. He motioned for Bilbo to stay and Bilbo nodded back uncertainly.

Dwalin was soon pulled at by Goblins, who paid no attention to Bilbo. He and the other Dwarves were led away. Dwalin half-hoped Bilbo would never find the ring, but half-hoped he did.

****

Dwalin could better appreciate the Goblin King’s humor the second time around, but not by much. He gave up his weapons much easier this time and made sure to hover behind Ori.

Dwalin couldn’t do much to alter or help against the Goblins since they were outnumbered and he knew Gandalf would show up soon. Still he wished the Wizard was quicker as he felt Ori shudder at the torture instruments the Goblin King hauled out.

And it was still just as funny when the fat Goblin King recoiled in horror over Thorin’s Elvish blade.

Dwalin punched a Goblin as it came at him, but was pulled down by three others. Soon, everything was flattened as Gandalf showed up with his own Elvish blade and a light source.

Dwalin shoved his warhammer into Ori’s hands and grabbed Grasper and Keeper. He beheaded two Goblin’s and watched proudly as Ori smashed a Goblin in the face.

“Takes after mum,” Nori said as he darted past. “Dori too.”

“Not you?” Dwalin asked as they ran down a hill.

“I’m more agile and sneaky than sturdy and smashy.”

“Fair enough. Duck!”

The Company ran down winding paths, fighting Goblins at every turn. Dwalin used the pole trick again and rammed Goblin’s down into the depths. He snorted as Kili used the ladder as a shield again. Gotta retrain him on hand to hand. He’s too reliant on that bow, Dwalin thought. Could save his life this time.

They ran and ran until they were blocked on both sides. The Goblin King stepped up to them, but was quickly killed by Gandalf. Dwalin pulled Ori to his side as they slid down the side of the cliff. They landed awkwardly and a piece of wood was jammed into his side. He had hoped to roll out of the way before the Goblin King landed on them, but it was of no use.

“Oh, you’ve got to be joking!” he roared as the wood was pushed deeper into his side.

They quickly pulled each other out from underneath the Goblin King and the rubble. No one looked too damaged, just more cuts and bruises.

“Dwalin your hurt!” Ori cried as he saw blood seeping into Dwalin’s shirt.

“Not right now, lad,” Dwalin grit his teeth through the pain.

Ori helped him run down a passage and out of the cavern. Once they were clear, Balin took Dwalin’s other side.

“Thank you, brother,” Dwalin grunted.

“Not a problem, brother,” Balin replied.

They limped their way down the hill as Gandalf counted them off.

“Where is Bilbo?” the Wizard asked.

Hopefully hiding in the trees with that Ring, Dwalin thought as he sat down. As, Oin fussed over him, Dwalin hoped Bilbo liked them more enough this time to speak up sooner.

Chapter Text

Dwalin barely listened as Thorin and Gandalf got into an argument about Bilbo. Ori and Oin kept fussing over him. Ori kept running a hand over Dwalin’s side and kissing his cheek. Dwalin noticed that Dori wanted to step in, but Balin grabbed his hand and kept Dori by his side. Dori turned a nice shade of pink and didn’t try to interfere again.

Just as Thorin began cursing Bilbo in Khuzdul, the Hobbit stepped out from behind a tree.

“Where did you come from?” Thorin growled.

Dwalin rolled his eyes, but kept quiet.

“Back there,” Bilbo said as he pointed with his thumb.

“And now you’re here?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Bilbo hesitated before saying, “I miss my things, my books, my chair. That’s my home. You don’t have a home. I want to help you get it back.”

Dwalin felt himself choke up and he reached out to grab Ori’s hand. Ori gripped back and smiled tearily. All the others must have felt the same way, since they were all quiet. Thorin opened his mouth to say something when a howl pierce through the valley.

“Orcs!” Thorin growled. “Move!”

“Dwalin, can you run?” Oin asked.

Dwalin nodded. “Stick with Bifur. Ori can look after me.”

Oin blinked in surprise, but nodded and made his way over to Bifur.

“Are you matchmaking now?” Ori asked incredulously as they began to run away from the sound of Orcs.

“No time like the present!” Dwalin exclaimed with a grin.

Ori laughed.

“Into the trees!” Gandalf shouted.

Dwalin let Nori jump on his head, the boosted Balin up. Ori was helped up by Nori and Dori, who had climbed up first. Dwalin kept running and watched as the others got into trees and helped each other. He scrambled up after Thorin, but waited near the bottom. He saw Bilbo straying behind and shouted, “Bilbo!”

The Hobbit darted towards Dwalin. He grunted as he lifted Bilbo up into the tree.

“Your side?” Bilbo asked.

“Be fine for now. Just stay safe.”

Once Bilbo nodded, Dwalin turned back to the oncoming Orcs. At the head was Azog. He heard Thorin let out a noise.

Babith,” Thorin said softly. “I killed him. I know I did.”

It broke Dwalin’s heart to see his cousin like this. However, he could offer no comfort because the wargs that had been chasing them had caught up and were jumping at the trees. The smaller trees were knocked over and soon all the Dwarves were on one large tree. Gandalf used his fire trick once again, which was effective for a time. The large tree soon began to collapse and Ori and Dori fell off the edge again. Dwalin’s heart leapt into his throat, but could do nothing.

Then Thorin did his stupid, heroic run down the tree with Bilbo following soon after. Dwalin grunted as he pulled himself up and went to help fight off the Orcs. The Eagles then swooped in to help. The ride was less of a blur this time now that Dwalin knew Thorin and Ori were okay. This time when Thorin hugged Bilbo, Dwalin at least smiled and pulled Ori close to him. He even managed to keep from making a noise when they all saw Erebor, but he had to groan at Bilbo’s optimistic, “I do think the worse is behind us.”

“Are you alright, Dwalin?” Ori asked worriedly.

“Fine, I just need a rest. We all do,” Dwalin said, with a hard glance at Thorin.

“Aye,” Balin said as Dori fussed over him. “The forest below looks fine.”

Gandalf hummed. “Yes, I know someone who lives nearby. We can contact him in the morning. Now, let’s get down from here.”

The group carefully made their way down the Carrock. Once at the bottom, Oin checked everyone over and declared Thorin and Dwalin the worst off.

“I can look after Dwalin,” Ori said.

“Good, good,” Oin replied. “Just put this salve on and make sure the bandages are tight.” Oin turned to Thorin, who was trying to hid behind Gandalf. “Come on, cousin don’t run!”

Dwalin snorted, then groaned.

“That’s what you get for laughing at family,” Ori teased.

“Ach, he deserves it.”

Ori helped Dwalin take off his shirts, then hissed. “At least Oin got the smaller pieces of wood out.”

Dwalin hummed. He didn’t grunt or growl once as Ori slathered on the salve and tied the bandages extra tight. He chuckled lightly when he looked up and saw Gloin holding Thorin down while Oin checked him over. Ori helped put his shirts back on, then snuggled against Dwalin’s good side. They watched as Thorin put up quite the fight until Fili, Kili, and Bilbo pulled puppy eyes on Thorin. Thorin subsided with a grumble and let Oin continue.

Ori giggled. “Your family is strange.”

“They’re your family too.”

“I guess so,” Ori said softly.

Dwalin looked down and saw that his One was falling asleep. Good idea, he thought and followed Ori into a dreamless sleep.

****

Dwalin remembered very little of how they got into Beorn’s house. Then he was worried about everything, and now. Well, to be honest he wished he didn’t remember. Gandalf was too cunning by half.

Tricking poor Beorn and Bilbo like that, Dwalin glared at the Wizard as Gloin regaled Beorn of tales of young Gimli. Dwalin liked and respect the bear-man and didn’t like tricking him.

They had been in Beorn’s lands for a few days. Dwalin knew Thorin was getting restless, but he had managed to convince his cousin to wait.

“It’s nice here,” Dwalin said. “We can start the courting rituals and be done by the time we reach Erebor.”

Thorin glared, but agreed. “Fine, just to make everyone happy.”

“Oh, you noticed Bifur kiss Oin on the rock too?”

“Yes. And I saw Bofur kiss Nori at the bottom of the rock.”

“Never knew you were that observant.”

Thorin huffed. “Once you mentioned it at Bag End, I couldn’t unsee it.”

Dwalin laughed loudly. He clapped Thorin on the shoulder. “Someday, you’ll find your One and you’ll see.” Dwalin paused before saying, “Who knows, you might have found them already.” With that he left Thorin alone and went in search of Ori.

****

The Company had been at Beorn’s for about two weeks before Fili approached his uncle. Dwalin watched from next to Ori, who was sketching Beorn’s garden, as Fili cleared his throat.

“Yes, Fili?” Thorin asked, distractedly. He was studying the map intently.

“I wish to wed Kili,” Fili said in a steady voice. The only sign of his nervousness that Dwalin could spot was his twitching hand, as it looked for something to grab. Kili smoothly slid next to Fili and took his brother’s hand. They both looked at their uncle, waiting for his response.

Thorin looked up from the map and frowned. “Okay.” He looked back down at the map.

“Um,” Fili hesitated.

“Yes?” Thorin snapped.

“We want to get married now. Well, not right now, but tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“I’d like to marry my One before we face a dragon, uncle,” Fili said softly.

Thorin swallowed and nodded. “Fine. Anyone else? Might as well do as many as I can before we leave.”

“Thorin can marry people?” Bilbo asked from Dwalin’s other side.

“Yes,” Dwalin replied. “He’s our king, so he marries everyone, from royalty to the poorest beggar.”

“What if Thorin wants to get married?” Bilbo frowned.

“It would usually be the oldest,” Ori spoke up, “but Oin is a healer, so his authority is limited. Balin would marry Thorin to whomever the king wishes.”

“Huh, interesting.”

“Dori and I would like to marry as well,” Balin said from the fireplace. He held Dori’s hand and smiled gently at his One. “We’ve exchanged everything we need to. As, I’m sure, others have as well.” Balin looked pointedly at Dwalin.

“Oh, no!” Dori cried. “Ori is too young! He’s only seventy!”

Ori jumped up and cried out, “I was old enough to come on the journey, but not old enough to marry! Dwalin and I have completed the courting rites, the same as you Dori.”

Dwalin stood and made his way over to Dori. He then knelt down in front of the other Dwarf. “Master Dori, I love your brother very much. I wish to make him my husband. The road ahead may be dangerous, I wish to be wedded to the One I love above all before anything may befall us. I am sure this is also what my brother is thinking.”

“Very eloquent, brother,” Balin said with a smile.

“Very well,” Dori sniffed and wiped at his eyes. Balin hugged Dori and kissed his forehead.

Dwalin rose and walked back to Ori. Ori threw his arms around Dwalin’s neck and kissed him.

Bifur mumbled something that Dwalin couldn’t hear, but both Bombur and Bofur got sad looks on their faces. Oin stood from where he was sitting by Gloin at the table, and pulled on his clothes to straighten them out. Everyone watched as he marched over and pushed Bifur’s head up. He signed, “Will you marry me?

Bifur stared up at Oin before nodding. Oin beamed and kissed Bifur. Bofur and Bombur cheered, as did Gloin.

“What happened?” whispered Bilbo.

“Oin asked Bifur to marry him in iglishmek,” Dwalin whispered back.

He saw Bofur looking around for Nori. He also saw Bofur’s face fall when he noticed Nori had left the room.

“Hmmph,” Dwalin grumbled. Nori needs to be sorted out, he thought as he watched Bombur hug his brother.

“Fine,” Thorin nodded. “Everyone shall be married tomorrow, then two days after that, we will be on our way!”

The Company cheered.

Dwalin held a smile as he desperately tried not to think of Mirkwood.

Chapter Text

As all the Dwarves stood around, waiting for Thorin and Gandalf, Bilbo slid over to Dwalin. The Hobbit cleared his throat.

“Yes, Bilbo?” Dwalin said with a smile.

“Isn’t this a bit...fast?” Bilbo asked.

Dwalin hummed. “Perhaps. I’m fairly sure Balin and I rushed through the courting rituals. Fili and Kili completed them sometime ago, but there was no time for them to marry.”

“And Oin and Bifur?”

“Ah,” Dwalin said sadly. He had remembered what he had forgotten about the two of them in the previous cycle. “They had courted previously to Bifur’s injury.”

“Oh,” Biblo said in a small voice. He fidgeted slightly. “What happened?”

“It was at the Battle of Azanulbizar, where Thorin got his deed-name. Oin was a medic and Bifur a warrior. I think Oin blamed himself a bit that he couldn’t help Bifur, and Bifur. Well, he changed from what I remembered of him.”

“They went their separate ways?”

“More like Bifur pushed everyone away.”

“Oin didn’t try?”

“Oh, he did. He tried everything. But, one day, Bifur went into one of his...states and nearly killed Oin. Oin came around the next day, but Bifur didn’t want to see him. Bofur and Bombur kept trying to let Oin in, but Bifur would hide. Far as I know,” Dwalin said, stroking his beard. “Oin kept trying up until a few years ago.”

“What happened then?”

Dwalin shrugged. “Don’t know. Balin and Gloin do, but they won’t tell Thorin or me. I suppose he figured Bifur wouldn’t talk to him again. Mahal, maybe Bifur forgot him,” Dwalin said aghast.

“Could that happen?” Bilbo asked, just as shocked by the idea.

“Who knows? Oin’s always said the head is tricky.”

“But, they were talking in Bag End.”

“Hmm, that is true.” Dwalin shook his head. “Maybe we’ll find out someday, eh?” He clapped Bilbo on the shoulder, lightly.

Bilbo stumbled only slightly, which he seemed pleased about. Before he could say more, Thorin and Gandalf rounded the corner and the Dwarves paired off. Bilbo went to the back with Gloin, who was sniffling slightly, Nori, who kept himself as far away from Bombur as he could, Bofur, who also had tears in his eyes, and Bombur, who was glaring fiercely at Nori.

Dwalin rolled his eyes at the scene. Ori grabbed his hand, and soon Dwalin forgot about everything but repeating the words of old.

****

After the ceremony, Ori dragged Dwalin into a secluded area. They were able to consummate their marriage in a fairly luxurious place.

“Dori will kill me,” Dwalin panted as he rolled next to Ori.

“No he won’t.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you.”

Dwalin knew he had a ridiculous grin on his face, but he didn’t care because Ori did as well. He kissed his husband. Just then, something flashed through his mind.

“Oh,” he said as he pulled away from Ori.

Ori curled up against Dwalin’s side, stroking his chest. “What?”

“I forgot I said Lady Galadriel could come to our wedding.”

“Who’s that?” Ori asked confusedly.

“An Elven Lady.”

Ori sat up and glared at Dwalin. “We could have had an Elf at our wedding and you forgot?”

“Sorry?” Dwalin said with a cheeky grin.

“Ugh, fine.” Ori flopped back down. “But we are renewing our vows as soon as we can, and she is going to be there. No matter what the King says.” Ori scowled.

“You can call him Thorin now,” Dwalin said as he played with Ori’s hair. He’d have to fix the wedding braids.

“Hmmph,” Ori huffed. “Dori would have my head.”

Dwalin pulled Ori on top of him and whispered into his ear, “Dori has to call him Thorin now as well.”

Ori giggled. “Let’s stop talking about my brother,” he said and kissed Dwalin.

****

After another relaxing two weeks at Beorn’s, it was time to leave. Beorn seemed most upset by it, as the skin-changer had grown attached to Bilbo, much to Thorin’s disgruntlement. Bilbo on the other didn’t seem to mind too much. The Hobbit had even grown used to the nickname of ‘Little Bunny’.

Dwalin laughed as Thorin scowled up at Beorn, who was hugging Bilbo very gently. He nudged his brother, who looked up and chuckled.

“No need to be jealous,” Balin said loudly. “Master Baggins is going with us after all.”

“I’m not jealous,” Thorin hissed.

Bilbo was bright red as Beorn set him down. “Yes, well.” The Hobbit coughed. “Shall we be off?”

“Yes,” Gandalf said, bemusedly. “Thank for the ponies, Beorn!”

“Anytime, my friend. Just make sure to give them back.”

“We will.”

They all mounted their ponies and followed Gandalf to the edges of Mirkwood. Once there, they saw an Elven statue and fountain. Both were covered in foliage from the forest.

“It doesn’t look safe,” said Kili, as they all dismounted and gathered their supplies together.

“I agree,” said Oin. He was he studying the plants.

“It feels sick,” Bilbo spoke up with a frown. “Yavanna has abandoned this place.”

“Or been overrun. Valar rarely abandon their chosen loves,” Gandalf said from atop his horse.

“Are you not coming?” asked Fili.

“No. I am needed...elsewhere.”

They all turned to Thorin, who was scowling.

“I was informed this morning,” he said.

Gandalf ignored the King and told them, “Stay on the path. Do not stray, or you will get lost. Something has a hold on Mirkwood and it is not Thranduil.” With that said, he rode off.

“Cheerful as ever,” Dwalin muttered. He was determined to avoid the Elves this time and avoid being drugged by the damned forest. And avoid the spiders. He helped Nori shoulder his pack and asked lowly, “You’re avoiding Bofur?”

Nori’s shoulders hunched. “Bombur more like. He’s gonna kill me.”

“He was sort of hoping you’d marry Bofur.”

“I ain’t the marrying type.”

“Not everyone is.”

Nori pulled on the straps on his bag to tighten them. “Bofur is.”

“Probably,” Dwalin agreed lightly. He didn’t want to push the thief into marrying Bofur, he just wanted to help if he could.

“Could do better than me,” Nori mumbled.

“Nah. Everyone knows the Ri’s are great.”

“Not all of us.”

“Every single one,” Dwalin said. He smiled at Nori before going to help Dori.

Balin was helping Ori and he grinned at Dwalin. “Nice to have a bigger family, isn’t it?”

Dwalin nodded. “Aye.”

They finished in silence, then Balin and Dwalin kissed their respective husbands and went over to Thorin’s side.

“You shouldn’t lead us very far,” Dwalin said to Thorin as they entered into the forest.

“Why not?” Thorin asked carefully.

“You’ll get us lost. As usual.”

Thorin squawked in outrage. “I’ll have you know that I have an excellent sense of direction.”

“Aye, if we’re underground!” Oin shouted from the back.

The Company laughed, even Bilbo let out a small chuckle, while Thorin scowled at them.

If he was younger, I’d say he was pouting, Dwalin thought fondly.

“Fine,” Thorin caved as Fili and Kili teased him. “Balin can lead.”

“Thank you,” Balin said with an incline of his head. He took over from Thorin and led the group deeper into the forest.

****

Despite Dwalin’s best intentions, the Company got horribly and completely lost. He wasn’t affected by the hallucinations of the forest this time, which was a good thing because everyone else was, even Bilbo, however slightly.

“We’re going in circles!” Bilbo cried out as they passed the same tree stump for the fifth time.

“I know,” Dwalin sighed. The others were too lost in their own world.

“These webs,” Ori mumbled from Dwalin’s side. He reached out to touch one, but Dwalin grabbed his hand.

“Best not.”

Ori nodded dumbly and held onto Dwalin’s hand. Dwalin swallowed. He wasn’t sure whether to stay near his brother or his husband. The choice was soon out of his hands as they came upon a river.

“A river!” Bombur cried. “We must be close.”

“Aye,” Bofur nodded. “A river runs right into a lake, which is close to Erebor.”

“I’m awfully thirsty,” said Kili. He swallowed and licked his lips.

Everyone else nodded.

“No,” Dwalin said loudly. They all turned and blinked at him. “This forest is wrong, the water could be as well.”

“That’s true enough,” Thorin said. “We’ll follow it until we’re out of this place. Master Baggins,” Thorin called out.

“Yes?”

“Can you climb a tree to see where we are?”

“I...yes? Why?”

“Dwarves are not natural tree climbers,” Thorin admitted.

With the help of Fili, Kili, and Dori, Bilbo was soon climbing. The rest of the Company sat down to rest. Dwalin kept a sharp eye on Bombur, but to no avail. Bombur shuffled over to the river, squatted down, and took a long drink.

“No!” Dwalin yelled, but it was too late.

Bombur fell face first into the river. Bofur and Bifur ran over and turned him over. Nori, Gloin and Oin helped pull him out, making sure to stay out of the water.

“What’s wrong with him, Oin?” Bofur cried, running his hands over his brother’s face. Bifur stood behind him, wringing his hands together.

“Asleep,” Oin said at last.

Everyone looked at the river warily and pulled Bombur farther away. Bilbo came down just at that point and said, “We aren’t far off. Oh, what’s happened?”

“Disaster,” Thorin groaned.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Dwalin said. He took his pack off and handed it to Dori. “Can you carry our things, while we carry Bombur?”

“Of course. Ori and Nori can help me.”

“So can Oin and I,” Balin spoke up. “Better to let the younger ones carry him.”

Dwalin nodded. “All right, Thorin and I have back. Fili and Kili, middle. Bifur and Bofur, front. Gloin, be ready if we need to switch out.”

“Will do, laddie.”

“I can take some things,” Bilbo said.

Thorin shook his head. “You are the quickest amongst us and we may need you to scout ahead. For that you should be light and quick on your feet.”

“Think of it as training for the dragon,” Nori joked.

Bilbo made a face, but handed some of his things to the thief. Once they were settled, they began the long march down the river.

****

The problem, Dwalin thought as he shifted one of Bombur’s feet. Is that we are lost in a dark forest full of Elves and Spiders.

The group had managed to lose track of the river, which Dwalin wasn’t sure how that happened. Thorin was reluctant to let Bilbo climb another tree, while Bilbo was adamant he should.

Ori walked next to Dwalin, biting his lip.

“What is it, love?” Dwalin asked softly.

“I see some lights over there,” Ori whispered as he pointed westward. “But I’m afraid it’s just a trick of the forest.”

Dwalin blinked in that direction. “I see them too.”

He debated about telling Thorin, when Kili yelled out, “Lights!”

“Where?” barked Thorin.

“There!” Kili said, pointing where Ori had pointed.

“Bifur, Gloin, Bofur, and Oin, stay here with Bombur. The rest of you follow me.”

They put down Bombur carefully and snuck up to the lights. As they approached, they could see it was a clearing, with a long table. There a lot of food on the table. The lights they saw seemed to hover in mid-air.

“Elves,” Thorin growled.

“Are you sure?” Dori asked.

“Look at the food, hardly any meat.”

“Still it’s more than we have,” Balin said.

“Perhaps…” Bilbo began, but Thorin cut him off.

“I’ll go check.”

“This is a bad idea,” Dwalin heard Bilbo mutter. Then the Hobbit was gone. Dwalin hesitated, should he stop Thorin or go after Bilbo? Once again, it was out of his control. As soon as Thorin touched the table, he vanished along with everything else in the clearing.

“Thorin!” multiple voices called out.

“Damn it!” Dwalin growled as he ran into the clearing. “Nothing!” he shouted. He rubbed his head and went back to the Company. “Now what?” he asked Balin, as they made their way back to the others.

“We keep going, I suppose,” his brother said.

“Helpful,” Dwalin snarked.

They came back to their small camp, but no one was there. Nori frowned and began looking around. Balin was about to respond to Dwalin, when he was suddenly encased in a web. Dwalin couldn’t react as he and the others were caught up by Spiders.

Oh for the love of Mahal! he thought, just as a stinger pricked him in the thigh. Then he blacked out.

****

When Dwalin woke again, his head was in Ori’s lap. “What a nice place to be,” he mumbled.

Ori smiled softly. “Bilbo named his sword.”

“Oh?”

“Sting because it stung the Spiders.”

“That’s good,” Dwalin slurred.

Ori hummed.

“Where’s the others?”

“Over there,” Ori waved a hand. “Bofur and Bifur are keeping Bombur away from Nori, while Balin calms Dori down.”

They both shuddered at that thought. Dwalin then frowned.

“Why?” he asked.

“Bombur woke up, I guess Spider venom counteracts sleepy water. He was furious at Nori for not wanting to marry Bofur.”

“That’s not why,” Dwalin said groggily.

“I know,” Ori replied as he ran a hand over Dwalin’s head. “Bombur punched Nori.”

“Oh, I’m sure that went over well.”

“Hence Balin.”

“Where’s Bilbo?”

“Off scouting while we all recover.”

“There’s something coming!” hissed Kili.

The Company struggled to converge, but were still lethargic from the Spider venom.

Please let it be Bilbo, Dwalin thought.

It was not Bilbo. It was Elves.

Dwalin groaned and laid his head back down in Ori’s lap. Well, at least Gloin will get to know his future in laws.

****

Dwalin hated the Elven dungeons the second time around. Sure, they had found Thorin, but they had lost Bilbo. Dwalin groaned and put his head against the bars. They kept them all in separate cells, so he couldn’t even see Ori.

Kili had once again made friends with the Elven lady, but what surprised Dwalin was that apparently Legolas liked her enough to be jealous. Which made him wonder exactly what happened on the Journey to Destroy the Ring to change the young Elven Prince’s opinion of Dwarves. Dwalin decided he didn’t really want to know.

They had been locked up for about a four days, before he heard a small shuffling sound.

“Dwalin,” a voice said very softly.

There was nothing but air.

The Ring! Dwalin screamed in his head. “Bilbo?” he said aloud.

“Yes. Where’s Thorin?”

“About two cells to the right.”

“I’ve got a way out. Just sit tight.”

“Nothing else to do.”

Bilbo snorted and Dwalin heard him shuffle away. He had to wait until the next day, when his cell door swung open.

The first thing Dwalin did, was find Ori and sweep his husband off his feet. “I missed you so much,” he said.

“I missed you as well,” Ori replied, holding on to him tightly.

Bilbo tapped his feet impatiently as everyone reunited. “Lovely, yes, but we need to hurry. The Elves had a huge party and have drunk themselves into a stupor. It’s our only chance.”

“Lead the way,” Thorin said with a smile.

Dwalin noticed that Thorin seemed a bit different than he had before he was vanished into thin air by Elven magic. Wonder what happened? He’ll tell me sooner or later, even if I have to beat it out of him.

As Bilbo lead them deeper into the stronghold, Dwalin sighed. He knew what was next. Barrels.

The others saw the barrels and stared at Bilbo. The Hobbit said it was the only way. Bofur began to argue, but Bilbo stomped his foot.

“No!” he whispered loudly. “There is no other way. You must trust me.”

Dwalin looked at Thorin, who nodded. “Get in the barrels,” the king said.

After some grumbling, all the Dwarves were soon in the barrels. Biblo pulled a lever and they fell down. Soon after there was a light splash and Bilbo popped up, spluttering. Thorin grabbed him and pulled him to the side of his barrel.
“Hang on!” he shouted over the water.

Thorin nodded again, and soon they all began to paddle. Dwalin hoped the Elves would come a bit quicker than last time. Or that the Orcs and Elves would both stay away, but he doubted they had that much luck.

Chapter Text

Dwalin had been right, their luck was shit. Not only had Orcs and Elves attacked them, Kili got shot with an Orc arrow. Then when they did reach land, that Man, Bard, nearly shot Ori with an arrow. Luckily Dwalin was quicker with his tree branch or his Husband would have been injured. Balin tried to butter Bard up, but instead they were put in barrels and had fish dumped over them.

The group had tried to hide, but Kili’s leg gave out and caused a racket. Thorin convinced the Master to let them stay. He even promised to give them money, which made the Master’s eyes gleam. Dwalin remembered how he had run off with the money and decided to make sure Bard got it, even if he had tried to kill Ori.

They were allowed to stay and given food. Oin was darting between Kili’s room and Bilbo’s room, since the Hobbit had become ill from being in the water for so long.

“ ‘Obbits were ‘ot made for w’ter,” Biblo said stuffily as Dori brought him some soup. “ ‘Ow is Kili?” He coughed harshly and winced as Dori patted him on the back.

“Fine,” Thorin said from the doorway.

“ ‘E didn’t look f’ne,” Bilbo grumbled. Dwalin knew that Bilbo had grown fond of Fili and Kili and was very worried about them.

Thorin sighed. Dwalin snickered from next to him. Thorin glared at Dwalin before walking over to Bilbo’s side. He shooed Dori away and helped Bilbo eat the soup.

“It was tinged with some kind of poison, but Oin and Bofur found a cure.”

“Go’d.”

Dwalin shook his head and pushed a grumbling Dori out of the room. He shut the door and said, “Don’t bother them.”

Dori squinted up at him. “Are trying to be a matchmaker?”

“Worked so far,” Dwalin grinned. “Now, go bother my brother.”

Dori smirked and left Dwalin standing in front of the door. Dwalin looked around before sighing and sinking to the floor.

Having guard duty without a chair was going to be a pain.

****

Later that night, Dwalin lay down next to Ori in their bed. Ori was sitting up and sketching. Dwalin watched him fondly before yawning.

“Tired?” Ori asked with a smile.

“It’s been a long day.”

“I know. Did you know, Fili and Thorin got into a fight?”

Dwalin huffed. “Yes, not sure what it was about, but I dragged them apart.”

“Thorin wanted to leave tomorrow for Erebor, but neither Kili nor Bilbo can go. Thorin was going to leave Kili behind and make Bilbo and Fili go.”

“That idiot!” Dwalin growled. “I’ll have to have a talk with him.”

“Master Balin already did. Then Bilbo yelled at Thorin until his voice was hoarse,” Ori paused and waggled his hand. “Well, more hoarse.”

Dwalin laughed. “I’m sure that went over well.”

“Like a stone into a lake.” Ori set aside his parchment and snuggled next to Dwalin. “I think Thorin is going to wait a few days now.”

“I…” Dwalin began, only to trail off.

Ori looked up at him. “What?”

“I fear that the gold sickness has already latched onto Thorin,” Dwalin said softly.

“Oh, beloved,” Ori whispered. He pushed himself up and kissed Dwalin. “Thorin is strong enough to fight it off, especially if we tell him that he’s acting like a fool.”

Dwalin chuckled and pulled Ori close. “I hope so.” Only he didn’t last time.

****

Six days later, the full Company was off to Erebor. They were given a grand send off. Dwalin looked at Kili, who looked much better, color had returned to his face. Bilbo still sniffled every now and then, but otherwise he was fine too. Oin made them sit on either side of him the whole boat ride down the lake. Neither grumbled about it too much. Thorin stood at the head of the boat, watching as Erebor came closer into view.

Dwalin wanted to mention his fears of Thorin’s gold sickness to Balin, but he didn’t. Maybe this time it’ll be different. I can hope.

As they got closer, Fili helped Kili stand and said, “Look, Kili!”

“Our new home,” Kili said wistfully.

“As soon as I take care of that dragon,” Bilbo joked.

A few others chuckled, but Dwalin noticed that Thorin’s gaze never wavered from the Mountain.

****

They made camp along the lake shore as it was dark when the landed. Gloin lit a fire and Bombur began to cook using the supplies given to them by the Master. Nori and Bofur had first watch, which Dwalin figured would give them time to talk.

After eating, Dwalin lay down next to Ori. He drifted off with the stray thought, Wonder if Smaug can burn the One Ring.

****

Dwalin shot up as he gasped for breath. It was all white, like when he had died.

“What?” he panted harshly.

“You cannot tell Bilbo Baggins anything about the One Ring. That must be found out by others,” Manwe intoned as he stepped towards Dwalin.

“But, we could end it now.”

“How?”

“Dragon fire. Elrond said so.”

“Elrond forgets that the One Ring is the most powerful. The other nineteen are more easily destroyed by Dragon fire.”

“He said…”

“I know what he said. The One Ring can only be destroyed in Mount Doom.”

“Then why did he say otherwise?” Dwalin scowled fiercely.

“Hope. You must not tell anyone, not until the events have passed. Agreed.”

Dwalin said nothing, thinking it over. He didn’t really have any other choice. “Agreed.”

Manwe nodded and touched Dwalin’s forehead. Dwalin closed his eyes.

****

He shot up again, startled, and dislodging Ori from his chest. Dwalin heaved in some breaths before slowly lying back down.

“Are you okay?” Ori asked concernedly.

“Yeah, just a nightmare.”

“Smaug,” Ori whispered.

Dwalin nodded. He had been there when Smaug attacked, but he’d lead many of his people out the gates, so hadn’t seen the great destruction of Smaug. Balin and Thorin never really talked about it, so he never asked. He wondered if he was ready to see it for the second time.

****

It was a hike up to the hidden door and then they almost abandoned Bilbo after the sun set. It was a good thing Nori had good ears or else poor Bilbo would have been all alone. Now they waited as Balin led Bilbo into Erebor so the Hobbit could face down a dragon.

Dwalin tapped his foot impatiently as he loitered by the door. Balin gave him a strange look as he came back out.

“Something the matter, brother?” he asked.

“Just worried about Bilbo. And Thorin,” Dwalin jerked his head to their cousin.

Thorin was standing on the edge of the cliff, looking over what once was Dale. No one dared approach him

“Gold sickness?” Balin whispered.

Dwalin nodded.

“I’ll keep an eye on him. Dori will help.”

“Your husband does like to mother,” Dwalin joked.

“Aye,” Balin said fondly.

Balin went over to Dori, while Ori came up next to Dwalin. Dwalin pulled Ori into a hug and kissed his forehead.

“Don’t worry about Bilbo. He can take care of himself,” Ori said.

“I know,” Dwalin replied.

****

It had been a few hours since Bilbo went inside and now everyone was getting antsy. Nori kept twirling a knife. Fili and Kili kept checking their weapons. Oin wouldn’t leave Kili’s leg alone. Dwalin hadn’t left his place by the door. Everyone else was pacing, even Thorin, though Dwalin had suspicious about why. Suddenly the ground shook and a massive roar was heard.

“Smaug,” Thorin growled. He grabbed his sword and ran inside. Dwalin grabbed his axes and followed Thorin.

They ran down a long corridor and reached the stairs into the treasure room. Thorin had paused in the doorway. Dwalin slowed down and came up behind him.

“Thorin?” he whispered.

His cousin didn’t reply. He was staring at the piles of gold everywhere. Dwalin grabbed Thorin’s left shoulder and shook him.

“Thorin! Move! We need to find Bilbo!”

That seemed to shake Thorin out of it and he ran down into the room. He nearly collided with Bilbo, who grabbed onto Thorin’s shirt.

“Run!” Bilbo said. “Dragon!”

All three turned and ran back the way they had come. A breath of fire licked at their feet and Bilbo hissed.

Damn, Dwalin thought. I forgot Hobbits don’t wear shoes. I hope his feet are tough enough to withstand fire.

They ran through the door. Ori was standing there, so Dwalin tackled him and rolled off to the side as Thorin did the same with Bilbo. The others wisely moved to the side of the doorway just in time. A long flame shot out and over the rock face.

“What did you say to him?” Fili asked from where he was hiding.

“I might have insulted his Dragon-hood,” Bilbo admitted. “I tried charming him, but it didn’t work.” He stood up and dusted himself off. He hissed again as his burnt feet touched the rock.

“Sit,” Thorin commanded. He gently pushed Bilbo onto a rock as Oin bustled over.

“Hmm, not too bad,” said the healer. “Some salve and wraps should do the trick. He shouldn’t walk too much though.”

Bilbo opened his mouth to complain, but was cut off by another roar. They ducked down and saw Smaug take off from Erebor and towards Laketown.

“What did you say to him?” Fili repeated as he helped Kili up.

“Ah, I might have mentioned Men and I think he’s going to burn Laketown,” Bilbo said. He looked sheepish and horrified.

“Since the worm is gone, I suggest we move in quickly,” Thorin said as he nodded at his nephews. The Company began gathering their items up. Dwalin waited patiently beside Bilbo.

“What if he comes back?” Bilbo asked.

“We’ll kill him,” Bofur grinned.

“How?”

“We’ll figure that out when the time comes,” Thorin replied. “Now, quickly before the beast returns.” He waved the Company towards the door. Dwalin waited until everyone had gone in and then scooped up Bilbo.

“I won’t drop you,” Dwalin said when Bilbo squeaked.

“I can walk!”

“Oin said not too. Besides this way I can talk to you in private.”

“Oh?” Bilbo stared at Dwalin quizzically.

“Thorin wants the Arkenstone.”

“Yes, he mentioned it before. In Laketown.”

“When you find it, I want you to give it to me.”

Bilbo frowned. “How do you know I’ll be the one to find it?”

Dwalin shifted Bilbo slightly as he walked down the narrow steps. “You’re our burglar aren’t you?”

“I guess,” Bilbo chuckled.

“And...” Dwalin hesitated.

“Yes?”

“Just stick with Thorin if you can. Stay by his side. I think it’ll help.”

“Help with what?”

“You’ll see.”

The two entered the treasure room and saw the others already pawing through the gold. Bofur was wearing a crown, while Bombur was rolling in some gold. Bifur was looking at a golden cup and Oin kept putting gold coins it in, which Bifur would tip out so Oin could begin again. Gloin was off to the side with Nori and they were counting a pile of gold. Ori was looking at a golden quill and golden book, while Dori was coming his hair with a gold comb. Balin was watching fondly, while fondling a gold plate. Fili and Kili were sat down near some gold armor and looking at gold weapons. Thorin had moved onto a large pile of gold, overlooking everyone. He occasionally tossed down some gems, which clinked against the gold coins.

“Oh,” Bilbo breathed in shock. “I see what you mean.”

Dwalin nodded and set Bilbo carefully down on the steps. “Call him down if you can. I need to speak with my husband.”

Bilbo nodded shakily and yelled, “Thorin!”

Dwalin watched as Thorin turned to face the Hobbit. Thorin slid down his pile of gold and passed Dwalin. Dwalin shuddered as he caught a glance of his cousins eyes.

They were unfocused and glazed over.

****

Dwalin knew Smaug wasn’t coming back, but he also knew Bard and Thranduil would come. He tried to impress this knowledge onto Balin, but his brother was more preoccupied with draping Dori in gold necklaces.

Bilbo had taken Dwalin’s advice and kept to Thorin’s side. Dwalin was also pleased to see that the other couples also stuck together. Dwalin sighed as he sat next to Ori, who was running his hand through a pile of gold coins.

It was night now and Dwalin couldn’t be sure when Bard and Thranduil would arrive. Most of the others had passed out on top of the gold. Before Dwalin knew it, Bilbo was next to him.

Dwalin jumped. “Mahal wept!” he shouted.

“Sorry,” Bilbo apologized. He fidgeted slightly. He put one hand in his waistcoat pocket where Dwalin knew the Ring to be kept. His other hand went into his coat pocket. Dwalin inhaled sharply. He stood and hustled Bilbo over into a corner of the room.

“Do you have it?” he asked quietly.

Bilbo nodded jerkily. “What will you do with it?”

“Keep it.”

“I could do that.”

Dwalin narrowed his eyes at Bilbo. How much of that is worry for me and how much of that is the Ring? Could it affect him so quickly? Are Hobbits that affected by magic?

“You’ll only get into trouble with it,” Dwalin said teasingly. He held out his hand.

Bilbo hesitated, but Dwalin kept his hand out. Finally, Bilbo slid the Arkenstone out of his jacket and into Dwalin’s hands. The Hobbit sighed in relief.

“Thank you,” Dwalin nodded. “Best go back to Thorin before he notices you missing.”

“He hasn’t noticed anything else but the gold,” Bilbo said bitterly.

Dwalin clapped Bilbo’s shoulder. “Don’t fear.”

Bilbo nodded and sniffled a little. Dwalin watched him go. He shook his head sadly, then shoved the Arkenstone into a pants pocket. It felt heavy, but he could carry the weight of it.

****

Two days later, not much had changed in the mountain. Dwalin sighed as he steered Ori away from a long drop and back towards the treasure room. Since the rest of the Company didn’t seem inclined to leave it, Dwalin and Bilbo stationed themselves at the main doorway. Thorin had left that way once and nearly took a tumble.

The only thing that had broken them out of the dragon sickness was a large Raven dive bombing Thorin. The Ravens of Erebor thanked the Company for driving off Smaug and offered their services. Thorin sent a message off to Dain in the Iron Hills. Dwalin hoped Dain arrived sooner this time. After the Raven left, they dropped back into their ways.

Thorin was the worst. He looked at every gem and tossed it away. He had even enlisted Fili and Kili into looking for the Arkenstone, increasing their own damage done by the gold sickness.

Just as Dwalin was about to sigh again, another Raven swooped in and dove at Thorin’s head. He glared at it and swatted it away. Bilbo pulled his arm down and patted it gently.

“What do you want?” Thorin asked grumpily, but he didn’t pull away from Bilbo.

“A group of Men and Elves approaches,” the Raven said. Then it flew to Dwalin, who gave it some meat. He flew off, the food drooping out of its beak.

“They want our gold!” Thorin roared. The others began to mutter in discontent. Dwalin steeled himself.

“No,” Bilbo began, but he was shushed by Thorin.

“We must not let them in!” Thorin continued. The rest of the Company, minus Dwalin and Bilbo, shouted in agreement. They swept around the room, grabbing any weapons and armor that they could find.

“Thorin,” Bilbo tried again, but Thorin shook off Bilbo’s hand and grabbed Orcrist. “To the front gate!”

They charged out of the room, pushing past Dwalin. He took a deep breath as Bilbo ran up to him.

“What do we do, Dwalin?” Bilbo asked frantically.

“Keep an eye on them for now. I’ll be right there.”

Bilbo nodded and ran after the Dwarves. Dwalin took another breath and checked his pocket for the Arkenstone. It was still there, weighing him down. He straightened his shoulders, picked up Gasper and Keeper and went outside with his family.

****

By the time Dwalin made it outside, Thorin was already yelling at Bard and Thranduil. Bilbo was in front of Thorin, trying to push him back, but it was useless.

“I killed Smaug!” Bard roared into Thorin’s face. “After you set him loose. Just like the first time! The greed of Dwarves will ruin us all!”

“Indeed,” Thranduil agreed calmly.

Dwalin made a face as he approached. He may like Elrond and Galadriel, but he’d always hate Thranduil. He pushed past the company and made his way up front. He kissed Ori as he passed and smiled at Balin. “I can fix this,” he said.

Both gave him a strange look, but he kept going until he was next to Thorin. Then he took one step further, so all eyes were focused on him.

Dwalin slowly pulled out the Arkenstone. It shone in the sunlight. Bard winced and even Thranduil’s eyes narrowed against the glare.

“The Arkenstone,” Thorin breathed. He reached out to touch it, but Dwalin jerked his hand away.

“No, Thorin. Not again. I won’t let this happen again,” Dwalin said harshly. He turned towards Thranduil and said, “I want to give this stone to your son.”

Legolas, who was just behind his father with Tauriel, blinked. “Excuse me?”

“You cannot!” Thorin yelled. He waved Orcrist in Dwalin’s face. “It is mine! It is proof that I rule Erebor.”

“You don’t need the Stone, no matter what lies Gandalf has told you. We all know you are the true king,” Dwalin said calmly. “I give it to Legolas Greenleaf to give to whomever he deems worthy.” Dwalin hoped the Elf would give it to Gimli someday.

“And where did you find the Arkenstone?” Thorin growled.

“From me,” Bilbo said meekly.

Dwalin held in a breath. Then all hell broke loose.

Chapter Text

“And where did you find the Arkenstone?” Thorin growled.

“From me,” Bilbo said meekly.

Dwalin held in a breath. Then all hell broke loose.

Dwalin could barely move before Thorin had grabbed Bilbo and lifted him off the ground. Dwalin could only stare in horror as Thorin’s hands wrapped around Bilbo’s neck and began to shake him.

Not again, Dwalin thought as the others muttered. Even the delegation of Elves and Men could only stare in shock.

The spell was finally broken when Thorin raised Bilbo over the edge of the bridge. From Dwalin’s side, Ori let out a gasp. Bilbo scratched at Thorin’s hands, but to no avail.

Dwalin roared and ran over to his cousin. He grabbed Thorin’s hands and forced him to bring Bilbo back to the ground. He brought up a fist and smashed into the side of Thorin’s face. Bilbo fell to the ground, coughing. Ori and Dori rushed over to help him up.

Nê zu tûmûb hi gagin zatamarad zu!” Dwalin yelled at his stunned cousin.

“He’s a traitor!” Thorin yelled back as he stood up.

“So am I!”

Thorin stared at him silently.

Dwalin sighed. “You shouldn’t push aside your One for cold gold and a stupid gem. You don’t need the Arkenstone to rule.”

“I don’t have a One,” Thorin sneered.

Dwalin saw red and he punched Thorin again, sending the King back to the ground. “If you ever reject Bilbo Baggins again, I’ll beat the shit out of you!” he yelled. “Stop denying it!”

Dwalin heard a small squeak from the Company, as they had gathered around Bilbo to look him over. The Men and Elves had backed away, giving the Dwarves time to regroup. Dwalin still had the Arkenstone in his pocket. Thorin sat on the ground and stared dumbly at Dwalin.

Dwalin shook his head and walked over to Legolas. He touched the Elf’s arm. Legolas looked at him quizzically.

“Here,” Dwalin said gruffly. He shoved the Arkenstone at Legolas, who took it with a long, slow blink.

“If you are sure,” Legolas replied.

“Aye. Don’t let your father have it, either. He’s too obsessed with gems as well.”

Legolas nodded curtly and turned back towards the Elven Guard. Dwalin huffed and marched back to his brother.

“We must convince Thorin to give Dale money,” he said urgently.

“Aye,” Balin sighed. “But he still might be enthralled. We might all be.”

“Look at Dori,” Dwalin suggested. “What do you think when you see him?”

“He’s the most handsome Dwarf I ever laid eyes on,” Balin said with a small smile on his face.

“He needs no improvements?”

“Improvements?” Balin asked loudly. “You can’t improve upon perfection!”

“Then you are not enthralled.”

“I...oh yes, I see. Very clever, brother.”

“I learned from you.”

Balin chuckled. “Perhaps you ought to see to Bilbo.” He nodded at the Hobbit, who had pulled away from the group and was standing next to a walled ledge.

Dwalin nodded. He patted his brother’s shoulder and made his way over to Bilbo. As he passed the Company, he saw Thorin still sitting on the ground while the others were huddled together a few feet away from him.

“Bilbo,” he said softly, so as not to startle the Hobbit.

“Dwalin,” Bilbo rasped. “Thank you.”

“Not a problem. Umanith khajimâl furkh mahmurukh zu,” Dwalin said with a smile.

“I don’t know what that means,” Bilbo said with a slight frown.

Dwalin shrugged. “I’ll tell you later.” He paused before carefully touching Bilbo’s shoulder. “Do you want to go back to Laketown? I’m sure Bard could take you.”

Bilbo shook his head. “I’ll wait for Gandalf and go back home.”

“Right,” Dwalin swallowed.

“I can’t be his One, you know,” Bilbo said softly.

“Why not?”

“I’m just a Hobbit.”

Dwalin was about to reply, but Bilbo pushed away from the wall and walked towards Thorin. Everyone’s attention turned to the Hobbit and the King. Bilbo knelt down and took one of Thorin’s hands. Dwalin couldn’t hear what was being said, but Thorin let out a sob and pulled Bilbo into a hug. No one moved as Bilbo hugged Thorin back.

Dwalin caught his brothers eye and together they walked over to Thorin and Bilbo. Thorin pulled himself up, but leaned a little bit on Bilbo. Dwalin ducked under his other arm. Thorin gave him a small smile.

Karakik zu bund nê zu tûmûb hi gagin,” Dwalin said calmly.

Balin snorted, but Thorin nodded seriously. Bilbo looked confused and then rolled his eyes.

“Thorin, Bard deserves some gold,” Balin began carefully.

“He can have as much as he needs,” Thorin said, as he stared at Bilbo. The Hobbit flushed under Thorin’s gaze.

“That’s the right way of things,” Bilbo said. He and Dwalin helped Thorin towards Bard and Thranduil.

“Bard,” Thorin started. Suddenly a big, black raven dived down and sat on Dwalin’s head. Dwalin grunted but allowed it.

“I told you the Ravens returned!” Oin yelled from the back.

The others laughed. The bird look annoyed.

“What is it Master Raven?” Balin asked. He tried not to laugh at his brothers predicament, but wasn’t very successful.

“Gandalf the Grey announces that Orcs approach,” the Raven said.

“How many?” snapped Thorin, his shoulders straightening.

“An army.”

****

“It was nice of Bard and Thranduil to help us fight the Orcs,” Bilbo said as they Company shifted through the armory. They had plenty of weapons, but needed more armor. Especially Bilbo. Dwalin looked at the Hobbit critically before shaking his head.

“Nothing will fit,” he said. “It’s all too large and then you’d trip and kill yourself before an Orc could.”

“Balin!” Thorin called out as the older Dwarf walked in.

“The Raven is off to the Iron Hills, but who knows if Dain will arrive in time. We might have to fight this battle with mainly Elves.”

Thorin made a face. “Did you get the item I asked for?”

Balin nodded and handed a package over to Thorin. Thorin went off into a corner and Dwalin watched him carefully.

“Dori, my sweet, would you, Nori, and Ori go help the Men set up barricades?” Balin asked. “The Ri strength would come in handy.”

Dori nodded, kissed Balin and left. Nori shuffled his feet before throwing himself at Bofur. Ori pulled Dwalin down into a kiss.

“For luck,” Ori said when he pulled away.

Dwalin grinned and watched as the other two Ri’s followed their brother.

“Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur, would you mind helping the Elves?” Balin asked.

“Of course not,” Bofur said for the group.

“What about us?” Kili asked.

“Oin can go with the weed-eaters and I’ll help the Men,” Gloin spoke up as he adjusted Oin’s armor. “I assume you and Dwalin are taking the boys?”

Balin nodded.

“Right.” Gloin headbutted his brother, then slapped Thorin on the back. “Try not to be an ass this time.”

Thorin made a face again. Gloin just laughed.

He won’t be laughing when his son falls for Legolas, Dwalin thought gleefully. He waved as they left, then turned his attention to Thorin.

Thorin was watching Bilbo, who was trying on different types of armor, fondly.

Is that how I look at Ori? Ugh, I hope not. I bet it’s more...oh for the love of Mahal, I do look at my One like that.

Dwalin moved next to Balin and they watched as Thorin approached Bilbo. He tapped Bilbo on the shoulder.

“Ah, Thorin!” Bilbo squeaked.

A dark look passed over Thorin’s face. Good, Dwalin thought meanly.

“This is for you,” Thorin said as he kept his head low and his eyes averted.

“Oh no,” Dwalin groaned. “Brother, you didn’t.”

“I did,” Balin grinned.

Bilbo opened the package to find a shirt of mithril. “Oh,” he breathed out. “It’s very pretty. What is it?”

“Mithril,” Thorin said as he watched Bilbo’s hands move over the shirt. “A very rare metal, but very strong. I thought since nothing fit you, this would work.”

“Thank you!” Bilbo grinned. He bit his lip, “But what if it doesn’t fit?”

Thorin swallowed. Balin had to look away, but Dwalin stared straight ahead.

“It belonged to my brother,” Thorin said softly. “He was...very young when we left Erebor and still young when he died at Azanulbizar. He left it behind when he ran to gather our sister.”

“Oh. Oh!” Bilbo gasped. “I couldn’t!” He tried to shove the shirt back at Thorin, but the King evaded him.

“I insist,” Thorin said. “May it bring you luck.” He bowed deeply before turning and stalking out of the room.

“Well, brother,” Balin said jovially. “I leave the explanations to you!” Then he followed Thorin out.

“Why you!” Dwalin shouted. He turned to Bilbo, who looked confused. Dwalin sighed and walked over to his friend.

This was going to be an interesting conversation.

Chapter Text

“Explain? Explain what?” Bilbo asked in confusion as Dwalin hustled him out of the armory.

“Look, royalty court differently than everyone else. They can do whatever they want as long as they respect the other person,” Dwalin replied. He rubbed a hand over his face and sighed.

“Thorin’s courting me?” Bilbo squeaked out.

“Yes, because you are his One.”

“He needs children!”

“What do you think Fili and Kili are for?”

“They need children!”

Dwalin shrugged. “That’s up to them to figure out.”

Bilbo shut his mouth with an audible click.

“I’m not saying you have to go along with it, seeing as he treated you, but I can tell you that I stand for you if you do court.”

“What?”

“Royals can’t be alone with their One during the courting process, especially not after what Thorin did to you.”

“That wasn’t him!” Bilbo insisted angrily. “The sickness had taken over.”

“It might again.”

“Maybe, but I’ll be here to help.”

Dwalin smiled broadly. “Good!” He slapped Bilbo on the shoulder. “Now, come on. We don’t have much time to train you on how to use your Stinger.”

“It’s called Sting!” Bilbo shouted indignantly as they left the armory.

Dwalin’s laugh carried out over the Desolation.

****

Over the next three days, the Men, Elves, and Dwarves set up a great encampment to face off against the Orcs. Oin and an Elf named Goeolhel, managed the tents set aside for healing the injured and caring for the dying. Thorin, Bard, and Thranduil were in a small tent, going over battle strategies. Balin, Bilbo, Legolas, and Tauriel were in and out of the tent, but most others tended to leave the three leaders alone.

When Dwalin wasn’t helping to train the Men and Bilbo, he was holed up with Ori. They didn’t do much, just held each other and traded kisses.

Ázyung zu,” Dwalin whispered against Ori’s lips.

Ázyung zu,” Ori replied with a smile.

Dwalin kissed him again. There was a sudden clatter outside. They heard a voice yell, “Dain has come!”

Dwalin sighed regretfully. “I must go see him.”

Ori giggled. “All right, but return to me soon.”

“I will.” Dwalin kissed Ori once more then left. He marched towards his brother, who was also looking disgruntled. “Dori didn’t take kindly to the interruption?”

“No,” Balin huffed. “Dain better be quick or I’ll beat him around the head.”

****

The arrival of Dain and his troops bolstered all the armies. Dain nearly had a fit at the thought of working with Thranduil and giving away Erebor gold, but Thorin was King and what he said went. Dain was smart enough to keep his mouth shut about Bilbo, however. At this point in time, Dwalin was glaring at his cousins back as he talked to Thorin in the War Tent.

“Why are you glaring at Dain?” Tauriel said as she quietly stepped up next to Dwalin.

“He didn’t pledge himself to Thorin until after we had secured the mountain and the Dragon was dead,” Dwalin growled.

Tauriel hummed. “That’s a good enough reason.”

Dwalin turned to look at her. He nodded and said, “You can come to our wedding too.”

“I’m sorry?” Tauriel blinked in confusion.

“Galadriel is coming to my wedding to Ori. You can come too. I’ll even let the Princeling attended.”

“Oh, he’ll be pleased,” she smirked.

Dwalin smirked back. Suddenly the War Tent flap opened and Gloin stuck his head in.

“They’re coming!” he said urgently.

Everyone in the tent scrambled and ran outside. They assembled on a high hill. Thorin, Bard, and Thranduil stood in front. Behind them were Legolas, Tauriel, Fili, Kili, Balin, Dain and Dwalin.

The Orcs came out of Mirkwood and at the head was Azog, pale as ever, and his son, Bolg.

“They come out of the Wood!” Legolas declared angrily. Dwalin rolled his eyes, but Balin nudged him in the side.

Thranduil hissed, “This shall not stand. If Gandalf does not make Dol Guldur fall then I shall make sure it does!”

“Remember,” Thorin said evenly. “Let them make the first move.”

“The archers are ready when you are,” Bard said.

Thorin nodded. Bard, Kili, Legolas, and Fili darted over to the unit of archers. The rest of the Company was spread throughout the frontlines, even Bilbo, but he was being protected by Bofur and Bifur.

Thorin and Azog stared at one another for what seemed like an eternity. Dwalin could feel his hands starting to sweat and he shifted his hold on his axes.

“Worried about your One?” Tauriel asked calmly.

“Aye. I know he can take care of himself, but…”

“I know. My wife, she’s a healer, but she used to be a warrior. I worry about her if they break through our lines, but I know she can take of herself.”

Dwalin breathed out. On the next breath, Azog had urged his Warg forward. The Orcs were charging.

Thorin raised Orcrist above his head and shouted, “Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!” Then he ran into the fight, with Dwalin hot on his heels. Dwalin heard Thranduil shout something in Elvish.

The Dwarves roared and moved quickly into battle. The Elves and Men followed behind them. A barrage of arrows hit the Orcs straight on.

Bolg broke away from the pack and raced straight at the archers.

“He’s after Fili and Kili!” Balin yelled as he decapitated an Orc.

“We have to trust the others get to them!” Dwalin shouted back. “We need to stay with Thorin!”

Balin nodded. He swung his weapon and killed another Orc. Soon, Oin and Gloin joined them.

“Where are the others?” Balin asked.

“Dori, Nori, and Ori went to the boys,” Gloin replied as his axe cut through two Orcs. “Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur are staying with Bilbo.”

“Good!”

Dwalin looked up from pulling Grasper out of an Orcs back and screamed, “Lu’!” Everyone followed his gaze and cried out.

Thorin was alone facing Azog once again, but this time he had no shield to block the blows. Just then, Thranduil came racing in, with Tauriel at his heels. The Elven King fended off the Pale Orc long enough for Tauriel to hand Thorin a shield. Thorin nodded his thanks then went back to dealing with Azog as Thranduil and Tauriel ran to the archers.

Dwalin, his brother, and cousins cut a line through the orcs, but it seemed never ending. He glanced over at the archers and saw Fili trading blows with Bolg, while Kili peppered the Orc with arrows. Dwalin ducked as a sword came at his head. He growled and cleaved the Orc in two. The battle felt as if it went on forever, as most battles tend to do.

“The Eagles!” Dwalin heard someone shout. He looked up and saw the Eagles picking up groups of Orcs and dropping them a great distance.

There was a loud roar from the forest. Beorn charged out and knocked Orcs out of his way. Gloin cheered loudly and swung his axe around. From the north, rode more Elves, with Gandalf and Radagast leading the charge.

“Finally, he shows up,” Dwalin grumbled as he used Keeper to cut an Orcs legs off.

He fought furiously, only looking up at Ori’s cry of horror. He jerked his head around at the sound and saw Fili falling to Bolg’s sword. Kili shouted something and landed an arrow in the Orcs eye, knocking Bolg back. Kili limped over to his brother and collapsed next to him. Bolg shuffled over and raised his sword again, but Kili thrust Fili’s sword upward, stabbing the Orc in the heart. Bolg fell over backward.

Azog became enraged at the sight of his sons death and became more aggressive against Thorin. Dwalin raced over to Thorin’s side, but was overtaken by Bilbo. Bilbo suddenly became invisible and small, but deep cuts appeared on Azog’s legs.

Azog swung wildly at his feet. Thorin used the distraction to his advantage and stabbed Azog in the back. The Orc sank down on his knees in shock. Thorin growled something Dwalin couldn’t hear and cut Azog’s head off.

With their leader dead, the Orcs began a retreat. The some of Elves and Beorn followed them into the Woods. The rest of the armies cheered. Dwalin charged towards Thorin and hovered over him. “Oin!” he shouted. Instead of his healer cousin, an Elf materialized next to him.

“Goeolhel,” he whispered brokenly.

“I’ll save him,” she replied. “Oin is with the Princes. Go to your One.”

Dwalin nodded and stumbled away to find Ori. “Ori!”

“Over here!”

They ran at each other and hugged tightly. Balin and Dori jogged passed them to help lift Thorin from the ground. Ori whimpered as Fili and Kili were lifted away.

“It was awful,” Ori sobbed into Dwalin’s shoulder.

“I know,” Dwalin soothed. He held Ori close as he cried.

Bofur ran up to them and asked, “Where’s Bilbo? Thorin is asking for him.”

Dwalin stiffened. “He was over by Azog. I’ll find him. Will you be okay, Ori?”

Ori nodded.

“I’ll take him to Nori,” Bofur said.

“Thank you.”

He left them and dashed back to Azog’s body. It was lying chest down. The head had rolled down the hill. “Bilbo?” It’s the damn ring, Dwalin thought as he pushed aside Azog’s body and felt for the Hobbit. He hit something that moaned. “Damn it.” He felt for a hand, found a ring and pulled it off. Dwalin stared at it for a second, before shoving it back in Bilbo’s vest pocket. “Bilbo!”

Bilbo groaned and sat up groggily. There was blood in his hair.

“Are you all right?”

“I think so. Thorin. Where’s Thorin?” Bilbo asked wildly. He grabbed onto Dwalin’s shirt and yanked down. “Is he okay? Are the boys?”

“I don’t know, but Thorin wants to see you. Oin can take care of you.”

Bilbo nodded quickly, then groaned again. Dwalin swooped Bilbo up and carried him into Thorin’s tent.

****

Bilbo was plopped down in a chair next to Thorin’s bed. He held the Dwarf’s hand as Oin fussed over his head wound. Dwalin stood in the entrance, making sure no one could disturb them.

“Thorin,” Bilbo said worriedly. He clenched Thorin’s hand tightly.

Thorin clenched back and muttered, “Zu ukhzud idùzhib agrîf unlakh.”

Oin snorted, while Dwalin smirked.

“What?” Bilbo asked, his brows furrowed in confusion.

“You are the flawless diamond that shines brightest,” Dwalin translated.

Bilbo blushed hotly. “Yes, well.”

“I wish to court you in the manner of Royalty,” Thorin rasped in an accented Westron. “I do not deserve it, but you took the Mithril, so I had hoped…”

Dwalin looked away as Bilbo’s eyes filled with tears. “We’ve talked about your actions, and yes we have much to work through, but I would love to be courted by you. If I may court you in return?”

Thorin blinked, though Dwalin didn’t know if it was from his head injury or surprise.

“Aye, he’ll let you laddie,” Oin said as he stepped away from Bilbo and towards Thorin. “Goeolhel did a fine job on you.”

“He’ll live then?” Dwalin asked.

“And the boys?” Bilbo asked.

Oin nodded. “The Line of Durin won’t fall anytime soon.”

“Good,” Dwalin let out a sigh of relief. “Now I must find my husband.”

“I’ll come with you,” Oin said as he gathered his supplies. “I believe Bifur needs me.”

With that, they left Thorin and Bilbo alone. Dwalin just hoped they talked about some things instead of kissing. Although he doubted it.

Chapter Text

A week later, the Elves were packing up to go back into Mirkwood and finish off the remaining Orcs and Spiders. Bard and his men had made their way back to Laketown so they could give the people the good news. Dain and most of his Lords were preparing their things.

One Lord, Flói, approached Thorin at a party Bilbo insisted for having for the Elves. Thorin tried to argue against it, but Dwalin reminded him that Legolas held the Arkenstone for them. Thorin had grunted and agreed to the party.

“Your M-majesty,” Flói said nervously and bowed.

“Yes?” Thorin asked.

“I have a daughter…” Flói began. He was abruptly cut off by Thorin.

“You wish to marry off your daughter, while I’m courting someone?” Thorin said with a raised voice. A few of the other nobles looked over.

Dwalin sighed. He never learns.

“N-no!” Flói insisted. “My daughter has no wish to marry. She loves her craft too much, but she does desire children. She wrote to me saying she’d be honored to have Prince Fili’s children.”

Thorin blinked. “Oh.”

At his calm answer several other Dwarf Lords rushed up to him, pushing Flói to the back. Dwalin laughed at his expression. He remembered Flói from the Other Time. He found the Lord likeable, if jumpy.

“My daughter would as well!” one shouted.

“And my niece!” another called out.

Flói shoved his way forward. He huffed and tugged on his shirt. “Anyone of the Company of King Thorin who cannot have children would be able to talk to this Dwarrowdams,” he said.

“Oh. Well, that’s up to the Company. Gloin and Bombur have children, but I’m not sure about the others. I will talk to them about it.”

“Thank you, your Majesty.” Flói bowed again and the Lords left Thorin alone.

“You and Bilbo won’t need one?” Dwalin asked. He noticed his brother already discussing it with Dori.

“No. Fili and Kili are quite enough.”

Dwalin smirked when he remembered Frodo would appear sooner or later.

“Will you ask Ori?” Thorin asked.

“Of course. It’s up to him.”

“You like children though.”

Dwalin shrugged. “I’d do anything for Ori.”

“You big sap,” Thorin said with a wide grin.

“Takes one to know one.”

****

A few days later, Thorin gathered the Company and asked them how they felt about the Dwarven Lords offer.

“Don’t feel that you have too,” Thorin said seriously. “I’ve made sure there this no marriage offer. Some of the women are married to each other and wish to have children with respectable Dwarves.” He paused before cracking a smile. “So I don’t know why they asked for some of you!”

The rest of the Company laughed loudly at the insult. Dwalin laughed harder when he saw Fili and Kili’s mouth dropped open in shock.

“Uncle made a joke!” Kili said as he leaned against Fili.

“I can make them,” Thorin smiled. “So, what say you?”

The group murmured among themselves and Balin stood. He smiled happily as he said, “We accept their kind offer.” He sat down and held Dori’s hand. Dori sighed contentedly and leaned against Balin.

Urgh, Dwalin thought, even as he wrapped an arm around Ori’s shoulders.

Suddenly, Nori stood. “I, uh.” He coughed and Dwalin looked at Ori, who only shrugged.

“Well, you see,” Nori continued. He looked over at Bilbo. The Hobbit nodded encouragingly. Nori nodded back and turned to Bofur. “You see Bofur. I love you, I really do. I’m not perfect. I’m a thief and I rude and unthinking at times, but I’m pretty sure you’re the best thing to happen to me. So, will you, uh, marry me?”

Bofur sat, stunned before his brother and cousin shoved him. “Yes!” Bofur yelled. He hugged and kissed Nori.

“Proper courting!” Bombur shouted above the others as they congratulated the couple.

Dwalin shook his head and grinned. He was just happy everyone was here to celebrate.

****

As the months drifted on, Dain and many of his Dwarves left. A few stayed behind, mostly the ones who had Dwarrowdams who would bear the Company’s children. Then the caravans started arriving. First came the Dwarrowdams from the Iron Hills.

Dwalin and Ori bowed as they met Adra, a goldsmith, and her wife, Erda, a scribe. Ori and Erda immediately began talking about books, while Dwalin and Adra looked on fondly.

I think this will be a good match for us, Dwalin thought as he and Adra discussed proper weapon crafting techniques.

A month later, caravans from the Blue Mountains came. Dis was at the head and practically fell off her pony as she raced to her boys. Everyone was a bit emotional as the trio hugged each other. Dis was pleased to meet Bilbo and gave the Hobbit and her brother smacking kisses. She was even pleased with Yuanli, the iron smith who would bear Fili and Kili’s heirs.

With Dis back, everyone decided to get remarried, or newly married in Nori and Bofur’s case. Dwalin sent out letters to Galadriel and Tauriel a month before the marriage ceremony. Both women arrived with their partners. Tauriel even managed to drag Legolas along. Dwalin made sure to introduce Legolas to Gimili and then cackled when they started bickering. Only Galadriel really got the joke in it all.

After the wedding, Thorin and Bilbo began courting in earnest. Dwalin, Bofur, who both stood for Bilbo, Dis, and Balin, who both stood for Thorin, attended any meetings between Thorin and Bilbo, but did leave them alone enough for the two to talk things out. Thorin was confused by the Hobbit way of courting, but managed to make it through with only minor missteps.

They married on the one year anniversary of the Battle of the Five Armies. Then they, and the Company, made the long journey to the Shire so they could marry there and so Bilbo could check on his family home.

And that was how it went for many years. Thorin and Bilbo split their time between Erebor and the Shire, with most of it being spent in Erebor. While they were gone, Fili and Kili ruled in Thorin’s stead, with Balin helping where he needed.

It was when they were in the Shire, that Dwalin got worried. He wanted to lead an army to find out what happened, but Ori talked him out of it.

“The roads could be closed,” his husband said calmly as he rocked their youngest. “It’s been awfully rainy lately.”

Dwalin just scowled at the door. “I could still go looking for them!”

“And little Bulin would follow you!” Ori joked. “He loves to follow his Adadûn around.”

Dwalin beamed with pride. Then he sighed. “You’re right, of course. Just like Branri loves to follow her Adadith around.”

Ori blushed, but didn’t deny it.

****

A month later, far later than planned, Thorin and Bilbo finally reached Erebor. The Company gathered in Thorin’s great chamber and saw Bilbo holding a tiny creature.

“What is that? Kili asked as he got on his knees and crawled closer.

“This is Frodo,” Bilbo said sadly.

Oh, dear, Dwalin thought as he stared at Thorin. His cousin only shrugged and laid a hand on Bilbo’s shoulder comfortingly. This could be bad. Manwe don’t strike me down please. When nothing happen, Dwalin let out a light sigh. His brother gave him a strange look, which he ignored. Instead, Dwalin focused on what Bilbo was saying. Fili had joined his brother on the floor, so they could peer at Frodo.

“His mother and father drowned. No one else would take care of him properly, so we did. Then he said he wanted to come here.” Bilbo turned Frodo around so he could see the Company better.

“Un’le T’orin said I could go back,” Frodo said softly.

Fili smiled widely. “You can. You can do anything you want.”

“Not anything,” Bilbo scolded.

“Uncle Bilbo!” Fili whined.

Thorin whacked him on the back of the head gently, which made Frodo giggle.

“We’re your family now,” Kili said as he scooted closer. “Fili and I are your cousins, and so is everyone else really.”

“It’s not as big as the Tooks or Brandybucks, but just as welcoming,” Bilbo said. He set Frodo on the ground.

Instantly, the little Hobbit was surrounded by Dwarves. Dwalin rolled his eyes, scooped Frodo up and put him on his shoulders.

“Now he can see all your ugly faces,” Dwalin said.

Frodo giggled again.

Maybe things won’t change too much, Dwalin thought as he introduced Frodo to all the Company. It definitely won’t as Manwe hasn’t struck me down yet. But I haven’t fallen asleep so I suppose I’ll find out.

Chapter Text

After Frodo arrived, Thorin and Bilbo split their time evenly between Erebor and the Shire, or as evenly as they could. Sometimes Thorin had to stay behind, while others of the Company went with the two Hobbits. This was one of those times. It was three years into Frodo arriving, when Gandalf showed up on a foggy morning. He brought word of Orc movements and said he would help guide Bilbo and Frodo to the Shire.

Bilbo frowned as he spooned some eggs onto his and Frodo’s plates. “We dealt with Azog and Bolg though.”

“Orcs always find new leaders,” Gandalf sighed as he sipped some tea.

“All the ones left are stupid anyway,” Dwalin grunted. He bounced Bulin a little and his son giggled.

“Do they still mass in Moria?” Balin asked calmly. He gave his daughter, Daglari, a piece of bread and smiled at her.

Dwalin froze, his food halfway to his mouth. No. He looked at his brother, barely breathing. For the love of Mahal, Balin, no!

“Aye,” Thorin jumped in. “However, reports on their movements have dwindled.” He looked at Gandalf. “Some of my counselors think it’s safe to go back again. We could win.”

Dwalin couldn’t listen anymore. He gave Bulin to Ori and left the room. He knew his husband was confused and he was sure everyone was looking at him strangely, but Dwalin couldn't take it. Moria is where he lost his father, brother, and One. He would do everything in his power to make sure Balin never left to Khazad-dûm.

****

That night, after the children were in bed, Ori sat on Dwalin’s lap. Even though, Dwalin was staring, unblinkingly, into the fireplace, his hands went around Ori’s waist automatically. Ori bumped his head with Dwalin’s. Dwalin blinked at his husband.

“Hello,” Ori said softly, as he pulled on the marriage braid in Dwalin’s hair.

“Hello,” Dwalin replied.

“You were off in the mines.”

Dwalin hummed. “Just thinking.”

“Very hard,” Ori teased and kissed Dwalin’s neck.

When Dwalin didn’t say or do anything, Ori pulled back, a bit offended. “What is it? You can’t even see my hints!”

“I…” Dwalin trailed off. “It’s Khazad-dûm,” he whispered.

“Oh. What about it?” Ori cocked his head. He stroked Dwalin’s hands, as a way to comfort his husband.

“I lost my father there and I don’t want to lose my brother there.”

“You think Balin wants to go to Khazad-dûm?”

Dwalin nodded. “He’s mentioned it a few times since we reclaimed Erebor. I thought it was just a thought of his.”

“He does have many.”

“Aye,” Dwalin snorted. “But I knew when he asked Gandalf, and then when Thorin jumped in, I knew he wants to reclaim it.” Dwalin’s hands tightened on Ori’s waist.

“That would be kind of fun. I’ve never been to Khazad-dûm.”

“No,” Dwalin growled. “I won’t let you go. It won’t be fun! It’ll be filled with Orcs, Goblins, and other Evil Things!”

Ori frowned at Dwalin. He grabbed Dwalin’s face and turned it to face him. “I don’t want to go to Khazad-dûm. Well, I do, but I want it to be safe. I won’t leave you or the children behind.”

Dwalin swallowed hard, trying to keep tears back. He must not have succeeded, because Ori started to tear up.

“My One,” Ori whispered sadly as he brought their heads together.

Dwalin looked into Ori’s eyes for a long time, before pulling him into a kiss. “Let us go to bed.”

“A fine idea.”

Dwalin stood, picking Ori up. Ori let out a little squeak, but held on as Dwalin walked them to their bedroom.

Dwalin would spend time with his husband before putting his plan into action tomorrow.

****

The next day, Thorin called a meeting of his counselors, plus Gandalf, together. Dwalin snuck in and stuck next to Thorin. His cousin gave him a strange look, but said nothing. Dwalin listened, stone faced, as the counselors explained why it was a good idea to go back to Moria. Balin was the most impassioned about going. Dwalin ground his teeth together in an effort to stay silent. He glanced at Gandalf, but the Wizard was just puffing on his pipe.

Stupid Wizard, Dwalin growled mentally. You know what’s in there! Stop them!

He kept his mouth shut until everyone but Balin, Thorin, and Gandalf had left. “You can’t go, brother!” he practically shouted.

Thorin, who had stood up and moved down to the large table in the middle of the room, and Balin, who was showing Thorin some maps, both turned to look at Dwalin. Gandalf kept puffing on his pipe.

“Why not?” Balin asked. “It would be good for Erebor and our people to have our first home back.”

“There’s Orcs!” Dwalin said. He knew it was a poor argument, but he didn’t want to say anything else.

“Bah,” Thorin said with a wave of his hand. “We’ve dealt with Orcs. Balin and a small team of his choosing, will go into Khazad-dûm and once it’s secure, the rest of our forces shall arrive.”

“Do you not remember last time we tried to take Khazad-dûm?” Dwalin growled as he approached the table.

“I will never forget,” Thorin barked. Then he softened, “But we are stronger now.”

Dwalin turned to his brother. “What about Dori? And your children?”

“They will come along later,” Balin replied, confused.

“What if you die?” Dwalin asked, his voice cracking a little.

Balin’s eyes softened. “Brother,” he said quietly. He pulled Dwalin close so they could knock foreheads.

Thorin looked away and towards Gandalf, who was watching them calmly.

“We may die at any time,” Balin said.

“But not so far away from our loved ones.”

“Sometimes we do.” Balin pulled away and smiled. “Now don’t worry. Oin and Bifur will be coming with me.”

Dwalin couldn’t smile back. He just watched as Thorin and Balin gathered up the maps on the table and started to leave the room.

“What about Durin’s Bane?” he asked. He had to try and save Balin.

“No one has seen or heard it in decades,” Thorin said as he opened the door. “We don’t even know what it is.”

“It’s a Balrog!” he blurted out in a panic.

Balin and Thorin turned back to him, wide eyed. Dwalin swallowed, but held his ground.

“And how,” Gandalf rumbled as he he stood up, “do you know that?”

Dwalin spun around and glared at Gandalf. “I just do! And so do you! You were gonna just let them go and die!” he shouted.

Gandalf pulled himself up to his full height and said, “Do not think I would let anyone die, Dwalin son of Fundin!” His voice echoed in the empty room. Magic radiated from him. Thorin and Balin flinched, but Dwalin stood firm. Then Gandalf pulled his magic back and sighed, “Things happen for a reason. We cannot fix them.”

“Well I did! By the Valar, I did. I won’t let my brother die just because you think it should happen. I know what’s going to happen and I’ll fix it!” Dwalin shouted. “Balin died in Moria once, I will not let it happen again!” His voice broke and he felt tears spring up.

“What have you done Dwalin?” Gandalf asked fiercely.

“What Manwe and Mahal asked of me!”

Gandalf blinked in shock and hummed. Balin dropped his maps and went to his brother.

“What are you saying?” Balin asked seriously, his own eyes wet with tears.

“You died once Balin, I can’t have it happen again. Not yet. Not the same way!” Dwalin sobbed lightly and pulled Balin into a hug.

“Gandalf,” Thorin said, but Gandalf pushed him out of the room. He nodded at Dwalin, who nodded back.

“Brother, what has happened?” Balin asked.

So Dwalin told him everything, from Bag End to when he died at 340, leaving out the War of the Ring. They sat on the floor and Dwalin clutched Balin’s hand like he used to as a child.

“Then I woke up and Manwe was there. And Mahal. They told me I could change some things, so I have been. You and Dori didn’t happen because you left, wrote a letter, then died. Oin died. My One died. Balin, brother, please, just wait a few years. We can go when have a big army at our backs, perhaps even with an Elven unit or aid from Gondor. Just wait a few years, please,” Dwalin cried.

“Okay,” Balin said brokenly. He couldn’t stand Dwalin being so sad. He hadn’t cried since their mother died. “I can wait. For you brother, I can wait.”

They clung to each other for a few hours more before leaving the room. Thorin never mentioned it and told his counselors the plan to retake Khazad-dûm were on hold.

****

A week later, Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, Fili, and Kili were ready to leave for the Shire. Thorin gave his husband and nephew a hug. Gandalf pulled Dwalin off to the side.

“Anything else I should know?” he asked.

Dwalin had divulged as much as he could to Gandalf. Now, he hesitated. He wanted to tell the Wizard about the War of the Ring, but that would change things too much.

Dwalin cleared his throat. “Bilbo’s ring.”

“Yes?” Gandalf raised his eyebrows.

“I’d just, you know, keep an eye on it. Not too many magic rings turn people invisible,” Dwalin said cheekily. He hoped that the joking manner would turn Gandalf off.

Gandalf, however, hummed and said, “Yes Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel both mentioned something about you mentioning it.”

Dwalin coughed. “Elves,” he said flippantly. “Have a safe journey, Gandalf!”

“I shall,” the Wizard said. He tipped his hat at Dwalin and mounted his horse.

Fili helped Frodo into the wagon, while Thorin helped Bilbo up. Dwalin moved back over to the Company and put an arm over Ori’s shoulders.

More waiting, I suppose, Dwalin thought as he waved at Frodo. Then it’s nearing the end.

Chapter Text

The years rolled on, with Middle-Earth seemingly at peace. The occasional Orc attack would occur, but it was soon squashed. In Erebor not much changed at all. Fili and Kili took on more duties, while Frodo grew quickly. Bilbo hardly changed at all, with many commenting on this fact. The Hobbit could only shrug and say it was the Elven in him. Then he would finger his pocket where Dwalin knew the ring to be.

Soon it was nearing Bilbo’s 111th birthday, which was nearly unheard of for Hobbits, and Frodo’s 33rd birthday. There was a celebration in Erebor that lasted four days. Then the entire Company went back to the Shire to celebrate and say farewell to Frodo, at least for the time being.

Frodo had decided he wanted to settle down in the Shire, which no one could begrudge him. Bilbo and Thorin would stay for awhile as well before coming back to Erebor. Dwalin shifted on his pony as they exited Mirkwood. He knew what was coming and he wasn’t looking forward to it.

Ori looked at him and smiled brightly. Dwalin smiled back, hoping that his fears didn’t show up too much.

****

They made in two weeks ahead of the party and settled down in Bag End. Bilbo wanted to take some things back to Erebor because, as he said, he doubted he could make the journey again.

“Oh, Uncle Bilbo,” Frodo sighed. “You’re still as spry as when you took me to Erebor!”

Bilbo laughed. “That’s true!” He gave a little jump.

Dwalin swallowed heavily and tried not to look at Thorin’s face, which he was sure held a fond look. Instead he focused on helping Balin pack up some of Bilbo’s books.

****

The day of the party was a festive day. Everyone except Dwalin was laughing and bustling around Bag End. Gandalf managed to arrive in time. He took one look at Dwalin and frowned. Gandalf pulled Dwalin outside and lit up his pipe.

“What is the matter, Dwalin?” the Wizard asked.

Dwalin shrugged. “Just a bad feeling in my gut.”

“Hmm.” Gandalf took a puff of his pipe. “No meddling?”

“I’ll do my best,” Dwalin snorted. He stood. “I need to help move tables. I’ll see you at the party.”

Gandalf nodded, lost in thought.

And you have given me an idea, Wizard, Dwalin thought smugly as he walked towards the Party Tree.

****

Dwalin stood with the rest of the Company off to the side, as Bilbo began his farewell speech. Dwalin noticed the Sackville-Baggins’ glaring at Bilbo.

“Must have told them about Frodo getting Bag End,” Bofur whispered, his eyes twinkling. “Wish I could have been there for that!”

“Aye,” Gloin replied. “It must have been a doozy of a shouting match.”

Dwalin chuckled and tuned back into Bilbo as he said, “I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

The Dwarves laughed heartily, but the Hobbits looked around in confusion. Bilbo smiled widely at the Company and continued talking.

“Uncle Bilbo isn’t usually so long winded,” Kili remarked with a yawn.

“Yeah, usually it’s Uncle Thorin,” Fili joked.

Thorin elbowed his nephew in the ribs. “Shush.”

Dwalin shook his head at his antics. He glanced over the guests and saw that they were in states of bewilderment and grumpiness. They were mumbling about what Bilbo was up too.

Suddenly, Bilbo paused. Dwalin looked at him and saw he was fingering his vest pocket.

The Ring, Dwalin scowled into his drink.

“Finally,” Bilbo said loudly. “I wish to make an announcement!” The entire party was quickly deathly silent. “I regret to announce that, though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you, this is the end. I am going. I am leaving now! Good-bye!” With that Bilbo vanished from sight.

The Hobbits erupted into a panic. Meanwhile, the Dwarves laughed themselves hoarse. Bifur even fell off his chair he was laughing so hard. Dwalin clenched his cup too hard, because he heard it crack.

Thorin clapped Dwalin on the shoulder and said, “Come we must get to Bag End before Bilbo tries to leave without us.”

The others nodded, still laughing. Dwalin noticed that Gandalf was gone and Frodo was trying to appease the remaining guests.

****

The Company barged into Bag End just in time to see Bilbo and Gandalf facing off.

“What is the matter here?” Thorin demanded as he went to his husband’s side.

“Bilbo needs to leave his ring here,” Gandalf replied calmly.

“But it’s such a helpful ring,” Nori said as he handed Dori a large box to put on their wagon.

“See?” Bilbo said angrily.

“You rely on it too much!” Gandalf shouted.

Dwalin, who had been lifting a chair, stopped what he was doing and went over to Bilbo.

“May I see the Ring?” he asked blankly.

Bilbo narrowed his eyes at Dwalin. “Why?”

“Do I need to remind you of how Thorin acted with the Arkenstone?”

Everyone froze. Bilbo’s eyes widened and he reluctantly pulled out the Ring. He handed it to Dwalin. Then he turned into Thorin’s embrace.

Dwalin turned the Ring over a few times before he casually tossed it into the fire burning in the fireplace.

“No!” Bilbo cried. He scrambled over to the fire, but Dwalin was quicker. He stuck his hand in and pulled out the Ring.

“It’s cool,” Dwalin said dully. He held it out to Bilbo who took it with a shaking hand.

“I don’t believe it,” Balin muttered from behind Gandalf.

“Dwalin…” Gandalf trailed off.

“I know.”

Dwalin took the Ring back from Bilbo. “I need a place to put this.”

Thorin pulled Bilbo to his chest. “Is it what I think it is?” he asked.

“What?” Kili asked, but was shushed by Ori.

“I will have to investigate.”

Frodo burst in just then and stared at them. “You should be gone by now!” he cried in dismay. “Hurry before Lobelia arrives!”

The Company moved into overtime, but Gandalf pulled Frodo towards Dwalin. He gestured to the Ring. “Take this from Dwalin and keep it somewhere safe.”

“Uncle Bilbo’s ring?” Frodo asked, even as he took the Ring from Dwalin and placed it in an envelope.

“Yes,” Thorin said. “He won’t need it anymore.”

“Are you alright, Uncle Bilbo?”

“I’m fine my boy, just fine.” Bilbo straightened and pulled Frodo into a hug. “Now, you behave, and don’t let Lobelia inside!”

“Yes Uncle!” Frodo hugged everyone and waved as they left.

Dwalin looked back and saw Frodo and Gandalf in deep conversation. Hope I haven’t changed anything too much.

****

When the Black Rider came asking for Thrain’s ring, Dwalin figured he’d better tell Thorin what was going on. When the Rider came back asking for a Baggins, Dwalin knew he was a dead Dwarf.

“Dwalin!” Thorin roared as he pushed into the Guard Captain’s office.

“Thorin,” Dwalin replied calmly. “Perhaps we ought to wait for Balin.”

“Here I am,” Balin panted as he jogged into Dwalin’s office. “Our cousin is fast when he wants to be.”

“What in Mahal’s name is going on?” Thorin shouted. “You said you changed things.”

“I couldn’t change everything,” Dwalin hissed. “Somethings need to stay the same!”

“Frodo,” Thorin said suddenly. He collapsed into a nearby chair. “My little Frodo.”

“I know, but don’t worry,” Dwalin said proudly. “He gives them what for.”

Balin sighed. “What do we do now?”

“Bilbo, Thorin, Gloin, Gimli, and anyone else you can think of need to go to Rivendell.”

“The whole Company,” Thorin said. “My Bilbo. He’s so fragile now.”

“Don’t let him hear you say that,” Balin joked.

“It was the Ring, keeping him young,” Dwalin said sadly.

Thorin let out a small sob, before pulling himself together. “Balin, would you inform the others. I must go be with Bilbo.”

“Of course, Thorin,” Balin replied. He smiled sadly as Thorin left the room.

“What happens next, Dwalin?” Balin asked as soon as the door was shut behind Thorin.

Dwalin let out a deep sigh. “War.”

Chapter Text

Dwalin was a little surprised that the War of the Ring went exactly like it had last time. Except this time, Thorin, Fili, and Kili were helping with the Battle for Erebor. Also, Bilbo was where he belonged, in Erebor and not with those damnable Elves. Dain had come, along with his son Thorin Stonehelm, to help and Dwalin winced. He hoped his cousin made it out alive this time, but Dwalin knew that might not happen.

The battle, when it finally happened was much like the Battle of the Five Armies. Thranduil and his troops arrived, Tauriel and Goeolhel in the lead. Dwalin blinked at Goeolhel battle armor, but just welcomed them both. Brand, Bard’s grandson, and his son, Bard, and the Men of Dale arrived shortly after. There was a grand party, with everyone giving thanks to Bilbo, who could only look slightly sad.

The next day, the armies gathered in front of Erebor. Thorin, Dain, Thranduil, Tauriel, Brand, and Bard were up on a large hill, exactly where some of them had stood sixty years earlier. Dwalin swallowed, but tighten his grip on Grasper and Keeper. He would kill as many Orcs as he could.

****

It was a fierce battle, much fiercer than the last one Dwalin had fought in. He couldn’t keep track of everything since Orcs were swarming from all sides. Some evil Men who were in league with the Enemy made up half the forces. Trolls of all kinds were also out in force as were some other things Dwalin couldn’t name.

As the battle raged on, Dwalin heard a cry of dismay. He turned, finishing off an Orc and saw Thorin fall. This time he would not wake up. An arrow had pierced his heart. It was most likely poisoned and nothing could save his cousin now. The cry had come from Kili, who notched an arrow of his own. Dwalin watched as it slammed into a Man and knocked him over. He roared and dived back into battle.

The death of their King just made the Dwarves more angry and soon Orcs and evil Men began falling like leaves. Fili, in particular, was a whirlwind of death. He protected his brother-husband with the force of a thousand armies, while Kili picked off archers.

****

As quickly as it started, it ended. Thorin, Dain, Brand, and countless others were among the dead. Stonehelm, Fili, and Kili lead the rest of the troops in removing the dead. Dwalin couldn’t have been prouder of the three young Dwarves.

“Who will tell Bilbo?” Ori asked as the Company gathered together.

No one said anything.

“I will,” Fili finally said. “He will not want to stay here without Uncle.”

Dwalin nodded. “I don’t think Frodo will either.”

“If Frodo comes back,” lamented Dori.

“He will,” Dwalin replied. “He’s strong like his uncle.”

****

Frodo did return to Erebor. As did all of his Fellowship. Gloin and Thranduil nearly had apoplectic fits when Gimli announced his intention to wed Legolas.

“You’ve come along way, Elf,” Dwalin laughed as he slapped Legolas on the back. “You called him a Goblin when you first saw him!”

Legolas blushed slightly. “Well, times have changed.”

“Aye, that they have.”

Then Legolas reached into a bag and pulled out the Arkenstone. Everyone became silent as he handed to Fili.

“I did what Dwalin suggested and tried to give it to Gimli, but he would not have it,” Legolas said.

Fili’s hand hovered over the gem, before it clenched into a fist and he turned away. Kili smiled sadly and held onto Fili’s hand.

“Thank you, Legolas,” Fili eventually said, his voice strained. “If Uncle Bilbo has no objections, we will bury it with Uncle Thorin.”

“I do not,” Bilbo said creakily. He was getting older by the day. Dwalin watched as Frodo let Bilbo lean on him.

They will not be here long, he thought sadly. Dwalin placed an arm around Ori and sighed. At least when I die, I won’t be alone.

****

Years later, Dwalin got a letter from Bilbo, who was an impressive 131. He and Frodo were sailing West.

I hope to find Thorin there and if I don’t, well. Mahal will have to put up with me at all times. I’ve faced down worse things than him. Besides, I believe I do have Yvanna on my side,” the note said. It wasn’t written in Bilbo’s hand, but his voice shone through. Dwalin snorted and showed it Ori.

His husband laughed. “I’m sure Bilbo would wear down Mahal eventually!”

“I think Mahal won’t need any wearing down,” Dwalin said fondly.

****

Time wore on, as it usually does. Gimli left Erebor and wandered Middle Earth with Legolas at his side. He wrote letters back to keep everyone up to date on his adventures. Oin and Gloin got very drunk when those letters came in.

Erebor flourished under Fili and Kili’s rule. They allowed Balin and a massive team to go to Moria now that Durin’s Bane was taken care of. They cleared out any remaining Orcs and made a small outpost. However, they were hesitant to mine, so they never went farther than a few levels down.

To Dwalin’s everlasting annoyance, the Company began to die.

Oh sure, they die off every few decades or so, but by Mahal this is annoying! Why do I have to live through all of their deaths again! he thought as he stormed down a passageway. Bifur and Oin had been found dead, lying together in their bed, by their oldest child. “It was bad enough the first time.” He paused and leaned against a wall. “Please don’t let Ori die before me again. I’m not sure I could take it.”

Gloin died in the year 15 of the Fourth Age, leaving Dwalin, Ori, Fili and Kili behind. Dwalin had hidden himself away from his husband, children, and grandchildren. He paced the room and spoke, “Please Mahal, don’t take Ori from me now. I know you’ve granted me too much, but I just. Losing him was hard enough the first time. If you’re gonna take us, let us be together.”

Nothing happened, so Dwalin figured Mahal had heard him and was ignoring him or that Mahal was thinking about it.

****

Dwalin shifted slightly on his bed. He was over 340 years old and he was tired. He had been granted his wish and lived a long life with Ori, who had passed away one month earlier. When Dwalin died, only Fili and Kili would be left.

“I bet those monsters will show up sooner rather than later,” he croaked out. He wanted to have a sip of water, but the glass was too far away. “I’ll just close my eyes.” Dwalin sighed and shut his eyes.

When he opened them, the first thing he saw was Ori.

“My One,” Ori smiled.

“Husband,” Dwalin smiled back. He sat up and swept Ori into a tight hug.

“Everyone else is here!” Ori said excitedly.

“Not Fili and Kili.”

Ori waved his hand. “They have years left. Mahal said so.”

“Where’s Bilbo?”

Ori laughed and dragged Dwalin from his bed. “Apparently, Bilbo went to Yvanna and together they assaulted Mahal until he gave in!”

“Assaulted?” Dwalin asked supicously.

“This is the best part,” Ori grinned. “They just looked very sad. Mahal gave in in about three minutes!”

Dwalin’s deep laugh echoed among the stones. He was finally where he was meant to be.