Okay, so whew. I'm fully prepared that you all probably hate me and my unintended extended absence once again. However, my life has been a veritable shit storm with one thing after the other stopping me from writing a lot of the time and when I have gone to write Zai has been kicking my ass. Jesus her and Thorin gave me such a headache trying to write out all this beginning bit, cause I knew it had to happen but there were ten thousand ways it could go with Thorin being all crazy now and honestly getting it down was the hardest thing.
Also I feel like my writing has moved on a lot like a fuck ton since I began writing this story and it kinda makes me cringe sometimes because I wanna go back and fix things and change bits and flesh stuff out and make it better because I have that ability now. However I will draw all of your attentions (those of you still bothering with this story anyways) to one person:
She is not only my best friend in real life but she is ARUL's number one fan. I met her by starting this story and it's the best thing I ever got out of writing because she is the most amazing person I know. We met properly for the first time, not skyping or anything I flew my ass to America at the end of last year and we met and it was like the ending scene of Love Actually and honestly the woman is perfect. If there is such a thing as platonic soulmates she is mine. However, with regards to the story obviously while being totally understanding in all our skype conversations she does always ask about it and when we met in person and people asked how we met she'd be telling them I'm this awesome writer and all about the story and honestly she's the reason I finally got my ass in gear to finish this next, albeit a little short chapter. So I thought you all deserved to know that as wonderful and understanding as she is it's her gentle prodding and poking at the right moments in person and on skype and her passion for this story (she is totally my Tolkien encyclopedia btw) that finally got this delivered to you.
So without further ado. Here it is hopefully it's still good although I'll admit I'm a little rusty...
Thorin stormed down the barricade the minute Bard was out of sight although not before shouting at someone, anyone, to stay and be on watch. My eyes shifted slowly sideways and my gaze landed on Bilbo. If I didn't know better I'd have said he was pondering some form of advanced mathematics, but I did know better and as his eyes lifted to meet mine I knew he was thinking the exact same thing I was, that something, anything, had to be done about Thorin. I shrugged trying to form some sort of plan in my own mind as I moved towards the edge of the barricade to clamber down myself when a hand roughly pulled me back.
"Okay ow." I moaned rubbing my arm and turning to face Bilbo who still had my arm in a death grip. "Try hey Zai could I speak to you next time maybe." I snapped.
Bilbo didn't seem to hear me as he stared blankly after Thorin.
"Yo." I snapped my fingers in front of his face hoping to draw his attention back to me. "Either speak or let go. Actually speak and let go or just let go because you're crushing my bones."
Bilbo jumped as if I'd startled him which was horribly ironic when considering the fact that he had grabbed me. "We have to do something about him." Bilbo murmured. "He's sick."
"He's something alright." I muttered as I watched Thorin storming around shouting out orders.
"Well say something then."
"Me?!" My hand flew to my chest and my eyes widened in shock as my head snapped to Bilbo once more.
"Yes you! He listens to you."
I scoffed. "He does not."
"Zai…" It came out in a defeated sort of whine and I could feel my resolve cracking even as the swirling in my gut told me this was a terrible, awful idea.
"Okay." Holding my hands up I stared into Bilbo's pleading eyes. "I'll try but-" Flicking a quick glance over my shoulder at Bombur, the dwarf currently 'on guard' I lowered my voice to a whisper. "What if it all goes horribly wrong?"
Bilbo shrugged and then, so quietly I almost thought I'd misheard he whispered. "I have the arkenstone." His hand slapped over my mouth before my shock could even verbalise. If anything it felt as if my breath was stuck in my chest. "Last resort maybe I give them something to bargain with."
I licked Bilbo's hand and he pulled it away, face a mask of disgust. "We Bilbo." I said giving him a determined stare. "We give them something to bargain with. I know now. That's guilt by association so…in for a penny in for a pound I guess."
Although Bilbo obviously did not understand the last part of my statement he understood the sentiment well enough and nodded once, firmly before letting me clamber down to face the wrath of Thorin Oakenshield.
Once on the ground I stared at Thorin as if I was trying to come up with a complex battle plan which, in some sense I was. This was an unknown entity, not the Thorin I knew and was used to at all, a shred of that man existed in this one and diplomacy had never once been my strong suit. I did not have a way with words, thoughts came into my head and exited through my mouth much quicker than even I could comprehend. So that being the case trying to think out what to say now seemed important and yet nothing but directly telling him he was being a massive shitbag seemed to come to mind. In fact the only useful thing I could think of was to put it more delicately than 'Thorin you're being a massive shitbag' which although sound advice didn't exactly look as if it was going to help much.
Steeling myself for the inevitable bad ending I cleared my throat. "Thorin." He didn't respond. "Thorin!" I tried again, louder this time. Finally his attention seemed to be caught.
"Why are you dragging my attentions from important preparations you infernal woman?!" He snapped. The whole of Erebor went silent, tension in the air as thick as a black smoke cloud seeming to press in on everyone inside.
I bristled at the comment but tried my best to shrug it off. "You mean to fight them then?" I asked calmly, having to bite my tongue slightly to do so.
"I certainly do not mean to be fleeced whilst in my own home!" Came the gruff reply. "If a fight is what it takes to protect dwarven gold a fight is what we shall have."
"Forgetting a debt doesn't mean it's paid Thorin." I tried to keep my words level and calm but I could see the anger spark in his eyes as they fell from my lips. "We said we'd help them."
"The Master of the men of the lake-"
"Fuck the Master." I cut him off quickly seeing where this argument was going. "You agreed to help the people. You owe them."
Thorin seemed to grow with anger. "I owe them nothing!" He spat. "Where were they when we needed their help? They would have handed us over to the elves!"
"But they didn't!" I shot back. "They fed us and clothed us and gave us weapons! And where were you when the dragon we loosed upon their home fell upon them because I was there Thorin, you of all people should remember how it feels to see your friends burn, to hear them scream , feel the heat of the fire and choke on the smoke! And you gave your word does that mean nothing to you?"
When I looked back later I realised that that had perhaps been going a touch too far. Thorin advanced on me quicker than I believed he was capable of and stood glowering down at me his arm twitching as if he was barely restraining from striking me. I shuddered, my hair tickling my neck before I straightened my back, standing at my full height meagre as it was.
"This money is ours. It is more important than you could possibly imagine and if those people mean so much to you maybe you should be out there with them!" His yell caused a ringing in my ears and tears to fill my eyes as I caught on to what he was implying. That I wasn't really a dwarf but a human masquerading as one.
"A good name is better than riches Thorin." My voice shook as I spoke and I internally cursed myself for being so weak. "Money isn't everything!"
"Speak one more word and I shall not stay my blade. You must learn how one should speak to their King."
It felt as if someone had tipped a bucket of ice over my head which quickly pierced my skin and ran through my veins. This was not the Thorin I knew.
I stumbled back slightly, shock still radiating as Fili cried "Uncle!" seemingly just as amazed as I was. He took a protective step towards me as I finally stood my ground.
"Better the trouble that follows death than the trouble that follows shame." My voice was quiet but it carried throughout the vast chamber. "And all I feel right now is ashamed of what you've become since we entered this damn mountain."
"ZAI!" "MIMUR!" This time the shocked shouts were directed my way as were the dirty looks. Wow, they're pissed.
I took a further step back. "I can't stop you Thorin, but if you intend to hurt innocent people, people who need help just because you're too greedy to share a little gold then I certainly am not going to help you. If this lot had more sense" I gestured to the surrounding dwarves. "They wouldn't either. As it is they can't seem to separate what is right from what is easy but they will and when they do I hope you remember Thorin that no man is an island. You're going to need them, just like you're going to need the elves and the men I'd bet, if you ever expect to be a successful King that is."
Turning sharply, tears still threatening to fall, I locked eyes with Bilbo for half a second before storming towards the deeper parts of Erebor.
"If you go anywhere near that gold-"
Thorin's threat cut off abruptly as I yelled back, not even bothering to turn. "You don't get it do you?! The last thing I want is any of your precious gold."
I don't recall how long I walked for exactly. I couldn't begin to imagine the time it took me to pound down corridors taking erratic turns left and right whenever the thought struck me to do so but I did notice when I began to slow down, mostly because the shouts of the dwarves who had followed me finally broke through the haze of anger.
Fili was the one to find me, as if it could have ever been anyone else, he yelled to the others and I heard footsteps slowly growing in volume which I took to mean they were approaching our position as he put his hand on my waist and turned me to face him. Feeling completely deflated I sluggishly raised my eyes to meet his.
"Fili leave me alone. Please." I sighed and shattered slightly at the hurt that flashed in his blue orbs. He dropped his hands from my sides as if I had burnt him. "Wait. It… God it wasn't meant to sound like that."
Tentatively I stepped forwards, reaching my hands out and gently trailing my fingers up and down his forearms, which were still reaching towards me I spoke again, quietly, almost a whisper my eyes following the path of my fingers. "I need to be angry and upset; I need to bitch, shout, rant, rave, whine, moan and possibly cry..." I chuckled in spite of myself and flicked my gaze upwards to meet Fili's eyes. "…And I can't do that with you. For one, you'd be worried and comforting and I don't need that, I need someone to aimlessly agree how shit life is so I can just wallow for a while. Number two; Thorin is your Uncle. Sure I'm not saying I don't love him like my own father but, he is your uncle. You're always going to feel protective and I don't want to be arguing with you as well over any silly shit I say about him or this whole situation. It's the exact same reason I can't talk to Kili. I just need someone who is…" I bit my lip trying to think about the right words. "Who is just a friend. Nothing more, nothing less and who can be just that."
Fili's lips tugged up at the side slightly making his moustache braids sway, my fingers fell still on his arms as he stared down silently, apparently contemplating something, brows ever so slightly knitted together. Running a hand up my arm in a comforting manner he nodded stiffly. It seemed as if it pained him to hear that, but he was oddly calm and accepting.
"I'm not going to pretend to understand how things work in your world, but I see that you need this. Obviously you are used to being able to disagree with people, whoever they are, and voice those disagreements, you know how you need to react to this… unusual situation. That's fine, it's one of the numerous reasons I love you. I do however think I understand the need to talk to a friend, the need to talk to someone who is somewhat removed from the situation, believe it or not…" He bent down as if he was about to reveal a big secret and his breath gusted across my ear, his hair tickling my neck as he whispered; "…We do have friends here."
I giggled and a watery smile spread across my face.
I probably look a right state.
"I know." My voice cracked slightly.
"Take Bofur, I believe he is indebted to you somewhat anyway and I would feel better if you had someone with you. Come back when you're ready, not before, but Mimur, please make sure you come and retrieve food and water, I don't want you dying down there." Fixing me with an earth shattering smile Fili pecked me softly on the lips, wiped my tears away with his thumbs and stood to his full height, yelling for Bofur.
He's beautiful, gorgeous, breath-taking, caring, understanding… how did I land this man?
"Fils…" His hair fanned out slightly as he tilted his head down again to look at me. "I love you." I announced before pouncing on him, hanging tightly around his neck and burying my face in his shoulder.
With a deep sigh he dropped his head, wrapped his arms around me and placed a firm kiss in my hair. "I know Mimur, I love you too."
"Don't you ever let anyone tell you that you're anything less than perfection… honestly… I… I don't know what I'd do without you. You're…" I pulled back and stared into his eyes as my tongue darted out wetting my lips. "You're pretty much everything to me. I don't mean I love the others any less, but you I absolutely could not do without… like…ever."
Suppressing a grin he nodded, "I hope you know that is a feeling I utterly reciprocate."
"That means you feel that too right?" I asked, I'm sure, looking slightly puzzled.
Fili's eyes seemed to twinkle as he let go of me and pushed me gently towards Bofur. "Yes, that is its exact meaning."
"Oh good." I shot him a quick grin then he was leaving, striding off around the corner and ditching me in a corridor with Bofur.
He literally ditched me… for the first time like…ever just because I asked him too. I grinned in the direction he had disappeared. I really love that dwarf.
"So lassie… where are we goin'?"
Bofur and I ended up in what seemed to be an old workshop of some sort and for hours or at least what felt like hours I ranted and raved all the while Bofur merely nodded along allowing me to get out every word I possibly had on the subject. Once this was accomplished however he spoke.
"I'm not saying you're wrong Zai." He sat, perched on the edge of what I could only assume had been a stone workbench, fiddling with one of his small figures and his knife. "It's just that, that isn't how things work here."
"What honour means nothing?" I snorted. "I'd been led to believe quite the opposite."
Bofur let out a heavy sigh, putting the figure down and fixing me with a friendly yet firm stare. "If you were anyone else, still even as you, Thorin could have called that treason you realise?" He asked bringing a blush to my cheeks.
"You think it's the right thing then?" I asked, taking a seat on stone workbench opposite Bofur's and tracing my finger over the carvings around the edge. "What Throin's doing you think it's the right thing to do?"
"Lassie I come from a family of miners and I meself am a toymaker." He smiled, and shook his head, the flaps of his hat seeming to float in the air momentarily. "I don't have a head for politics."
"That's not what I asked you."
"No." He stroked one hand thoughtfully over his chin. "It ain't."
I waited content to trace the carvings and ponder over their meaning as Bofur thought. The silence wasn't exactly comfortable but it wasn't exactly uncomfortable either. We both knew it would be broken with an answer soon enough which seemed to account for the small amount of discomfort in it.
"I think that Thorin is my King." He said finally. "And that means I have to accept his decisions and do as I'm bid."
I opened my mouth to reply but Bofur didn't give me the chance.
"Most of the time." He continued. "Right now, something seems…" His mouth twisted slightly as he searched for the right word. "Off with Thorin, and maybe someone will convince him this isn't the right thing 'cause I make you right lass it's not." Fixing me with a stare that made my skin prickle and caused me to look up at him he finished. "But it won't be me and it surely ain't gonna be you after that display. Tact isn't your strongest suit. And until someone does convince him I'll do as I'm asked, because that's what seems right to me. Abandoning my King no matter how...unstable. That is not right at all."
The gears turned in my head as I replayed Bofur's words. I didn't agree with them as such, or at least I didn't feel the same loyalty he did. I mean I felt loyal but not in the same way, my sense of what was right seemed stronger than his in my opinion but that seemed to be the crux of the matter. It wasn't that either of us had a stronger sense of what was right just a different sense, at least as far as weighting the rights was concerned. We both thought it was right to follow our King and we both thought it was right to help the people of Laketown. The difference was Bofur placed more weight on the former while I placed more weight on the latter. Slowly as the day turned into night and the hours slipped past I began to gain a better understanding of how the dwarves thought and of their motives and actions. It made sense why they still followed Thorin and although I didn't agree at least I understood where they were coming from which eased my mind a little. It hadn't gone unnoticed that they hadn't stood up for me or Thorin in the argument and I'd been worrying that perhaps they all hated us both now, this at least, didn't seem to be the case.
Bofur's snores resonated around the chamber by the time I'd come to this understanding however, and my back was aching from where I'd sprawled across the hard stone workbench. I had just about steeled myself for a night of completed cold and discomfort because there was no way in hell I'd find my way back to the others in the pitch black when out of thin air Bilbo appeared.
I fell off the table.
Falling to the floor with a clatter that I'm shocked didn't wake Bofur I spluttered trying to think of some appropriate thing to say other than my initial reaction which had been to whisper "The fuck?!" as Bilbo slowly placed a hand over my mouth and motioned for me to be silent.
Creeping so quietly I now knew why Gandalf insisted he should be the burglar he moved to the doorway motioning for me to follow, not making a sound as he did. I stood and, as hard as I tried the padding my feet made across the floor seemed as loud a cannon-fire in comparison, but Bofur didn't wake up.
"What are you trying to do give me a heart attack?!" I hissed as soon as we were out of the workroom my mind searching for any reason Bilbo could have for sneaking around in the dead of night and scaring me half to death.
Bilbo fixed his eyes on mine and spoke. "Zai. We're going to give Bard the arkenstone."
Well tits. It's come to that.
So er *crickets* to anyone who comes back I hope that was worth it? Imma try and be better. I don't know if I will be but imma try.