Title: A tale about friendship, Part 1?

Author: Dís Thráinsdotter

E-mail: Overall rating: M, for violence and orctorment. This chapter: K+

Summary: A group of children are told the tale of their friendship with the dwarves in general and the Folk of Durin in particular.

Warnings: The overall rating of this fic is R, as parts of it deals with violent battle and torment. There are also Original Characters in the fic, but no Mary Sues. Unbetaed, all mistakes belong to me.

Disclaimer: I don't own any one of Tolkien's characters, never have, and never will. The only ones I own are the people you have never met before.

Chapter 1, Friends meet and tales are told

One May morning, some years after the Battle of Five Armies, Melian daughter of Edrahil was walking towards the Gates of Erebor. She was the daughter of Edrahil son of Amlash and Morwen daughter of Imlash, and like her mother, she was a healer of both Dale and Erebor. She had come the day before to help a woman in labour. It was the first time the woman gave birth and when her husband understood something was wrong he had sent a messenger to Dale, asking Melian to come quickly. The gate guard laughed when he saw Melian approaching with her pack of medicines and instruments. "I wish you were as quick to come when WE need your aid," he said, and Melian answered

"I do, but most often you go to my mother or sister". But there was no insult either meant or taken in this, which was shown when the gate guard said to the messenger that he hoped that everything would be all right and the messenger agreed with him.

As soon as Melian came to the couple and examined the mother to be, she found out why it had taken so long. "You are expecting twins," she said smiling and after a while, and with a hand from the husband, two strong and healthy boys had entered the world. After they had been washed, clad and fed the two new additions to the population of Erebor rested in the cradles, one of them had been borrowed from a next-door neighbour until the father could go to Dale and buy another one the following day. The happy parents and Melian sat speaking about good names for the boys, when suddenly the father said, "what do you think about Fili and Kili? Do you both think that they would be good names for them?" Melian smiled, even as tears formed in her eyes and she answered, "if they grow up to become like the Fili and Kili I knew, then they will become most valiant". The parents looked at her with surprise in their eyes and the father asked, "did you know Fili and Kili, the sister-sons of Thórin Oakenshield?"

"Only for a short time" Melian answered, "they were very valiant and fiercely loyal to their uncle. I am glad that I made friends with them." By then it was late, and Melian went to a guestroom that Dáin Ironfoot had given her when she started to work as a healer in the Mountain. Both Dáin and king Bard of Dale agreed that it was best if she didn't have to go back to Dale in darkness as one couldn't be sure of who might lie in wait for unsuspecting people.

The following morning Melian had breakfast, and then went to the mother and children to check on them. After finding that both mother and children were well she promised to come the following day. Then she went towards the Gates but found the going slow, as she met many former patients who showed her how injuries had healed. She spoke with each one of them, feeling happy to see that they had recovered so well and finally she had the Gates in sight when she heard running feet behind her and a voice calling out "Melian, wait for us!" Turning she saw that Dáin Ironfoot and Balin were fast approaching and she bowed before them, saying "Balin, Uzbadi".

"There is no need to be formal," Dáin answered and Melian replied that some politeness could be useful at times. No one was surprised to hear the conversation, not even the fact that it was in khuzdul surprised anyone overhearing it. It was common knowledge in Erebor that Morwen, her daughters and granddaughters spoke khuzdul fluently. "I heard that you received a message from king Bard yesterday" Dáin continued and Melian answered

"I did. The Kings message said ´we would like to meet you tomorrow at the Inn, The Inn to be precise."

"Could we go with you?" Balin asked and Melian answered

"By all means, but the first round is on me".

"No, it is on me" Balin answered and Dáin said

"I am quite certain that it is mine".

The three of them went through the Gates and onto the road to Dale, still speaking about who of them had taken the last round the last time they had been to the Inn and who should take the first round this time. Suddenly Melian laughed and said, "Who would have thought in the days when things looked as black as black that we would be walking together like this?"

"Who would have believed that we would" Balin answered, "fortunately our worst fears didn't come true". He then looked at Melian, who had tears in her eyes, and said quietly to her "you still miss him, don't you?" Melian nodded and answered

"I do. I still wake up at times, thinking about what could have happened if I had given him other medicines or treated his injuries differently. But such buts and what-ifs are in vain" she said shrugging. "I told mother afterwards how I had treated him and she said that I couldn't have acted in any other way. The Orcpoison was slowly overcoming his heart. But that is a part of being a healer, it keeps me from becoming overconfident." Melian dried her tears and they continued to Dale.

Even though there were four large Inns in Dale everyone meant one Inn when they said The Inn, the Inn named Thórin Oakenshield. It's sign had a picture of Thórin Oakenshield made by a wandering wood Wright according to the description given by Melian, a description she was encouraged to give as her father feared that she would in her grief do something rash, and the description was so accurate and so lovingly given that the wood Wright said afterwards that he had had the feeling that Thórin stood there, looking at Melian while she described him. This meant that when the sign was unveiled the Dwarves present said that it was a lifelike image of their fallen King.

It didn't take long for the rumour to spread around Dale that there was more to the Inn sign than met the eyes. Customers sometimes swore that he had stood in one pose when they went into the Inn, and in another when they left. Some people had the feeling that they had eyes upon them and when they turned around no one was there but still they heard a voice giving them warnings. The night guards in Dale used to tell about the time when they had arrested two Men who had planned to rob a merchant but the person turning the corner hadn't been the expected merchant but a Dwarf, axe in hand, who had asked them what they were up to. King Bard found it very hard to keep a straight face when he confronted the would-be robbers the following morning. From their description he knew who it was and he simply told them "you have been warned. Next time he sees you doing anything like that he will not be so merciful." Needless to say, the would-be robbers had stopped robbing people and become carpenters instead, which they were far more suited for. But they could never pass the Inn sign without shivering.

As the three companions approached the Inn, they saw a large group of Men standing outside the entrance, another Man was fleeing inside followed by the jeer of the onlookers. As Melian saw one of her brothers in the group, she went to them and asked "Boromir, what is going on?"

"Nothing in particular" Boromir answered, the response from Melian being a snort and a suspicious "nothing?" Boromir then said

"We met a Man from some strange place who was making boasts about his valour. As that couldn't be tolerated, I simply showed him my handless arm and asked ´where were you the day I fought alongside Thórin Oakenshield, his companions and kinsmen? It stopped his boasting." One of the onlookers then said

"It did, particularly when Boromir said that he would have given an arm and a leg if it had meant that Thórin Oakenshield, Fili and Kili had been rescued. He looked even more astonished when we all agreed with him."

"I am sure you did" Dáin answered, looking at Boromir with amusement, "it must have been a shock for him to hear it".

At that moment the Innkeeper came out and said, as he saw the three of them "you are expected in the second room to the left in the corridor. You'll be wanting Ale I doubt not, I will bring it there in a moment." They then went to the second door to the left in the corridor that left the Common Room, knocked and entered. As they had expected, king Bard wasn't alone in the room but king Thranduil and Gandalf joined him. "My Lords" Melian said bowing in Dwarf-fashion as was her habit and Thranduil laughed. "You were not so polite to me the first time we met," he said and Melian answered

"I wasn't," adding to Balin "I was barely polite to the King in those days".

"You were more polite to him than I was when we first met" Balin said, "for I wasn't polite at all". Thranduil smiled when he heard it and said

"It wasn't one of your best days, not one of my best days either". The Innkeeper came in, gave the three latest guests their Ale and then left. A few seconds afterwards, there was a commotion in the corridor, a voice asked the Innkeeper "is mother here?" and Melian said to all of them "what is going on now?"

"The second door to the left" the Innkeeper answered and soon afterwards there was a knock on the door. "Enter" king Bard told the person knocking and the children of Melian entered the room. "You had better introduce yourselves," Melian told them and they did, standing in a row. "Thrór at your service, and Thráin, and Thórin, and Frerin, and Dis, and Fili, and Kili, and Náin, and Fundin" each of them said in turn.

"You named a son after my father?" Balin said, looking very astonished "I am most honoured".

"You speak my thought also," Dáin said, and Melian told them that the names had simply come to her when she has looked at them for the first time. "What did your father-in-law say about it?" Bard asked and Melian said that he had asked her if the Dwarves she named the boys after were worthy of that honour. She had told him that they were indeed and he hadn't said anything further about it.

"But now I would ask you, what on earth or under it is going on?" Melian said, glaring at her children, and Frerin answered "you have spoken at times about the friendship between our family and the Dwarves in general but the Folk of Durin in particular, but you have never told us how the friendship was forged, who did it and so on and further. We would like to know and we are sure that they would aswell" Frerin moved his hand in a circle, indicating all of the persons present "so we think we have you cornered here".

"Do you know what Dwarves do when they are cornered?" Melian asked them and when they said that they didn't know, although their voices showed that they knew, Melian said to them "they fight like mad". Balin then said to her

"You are in no better position to fight than we were in the Mirkwood glade, save that you aren't spider poisoned".

"Spider poisoned?" the children said, looking most astonished and Thranduil told them about the Great Spiders of Mirkwood that had been driven away the year Smaug fell and that it was the hope of the people of Mirkwood that they would stay away. "But we don't know if they will stay away from us" he ended his description and Gandalf agreed with him that no one knows anything about the future.

TBC