Disclaimer: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings and all characters therein are the property of the Tolkien Estate and Wingnut Films. This story is for entertainment only and the author is in no way profiting from it, nor exercising any claims to The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.
Past Becomes Present
Thorin felt pain explode within, liquid, drowning him as he tried to cry out with lungs that no longer drew breath. Falling. Noise roaring in his ears, chill air biting exposed skin, senses rushing to life once more in an explosion of color. Then came the jarring impact of hard ground, something round and cold flying from fingers that had to yet recall how to move, and a clatter of metal ringing against rock.
On his side, lungs fighting to expel the stale intake of death, Thorin's vision swam, taking in a small figure against bright light, bending to pick something from the ground. Then his vision was cut off by another hitting the ground, pain once more flaring as something hard impacted his thigh, hot blood gushing anew down his leg from an arrow wound. Someone cried out in shock, and flesh hit flesh, then all was lost in white light, brighter than the sun.
Fighting to retain consciousness, Thorin felt mortal wounds knitting themselves together of their own accord, the bones in his injured shoulder straightening first, then the arrow wound in his stomach, finally, the cold metal head of a crossbow beginning to force up, out of his thigh, but stopping before it could be finally expelled from the body. Sight and sound returned, and with it, pain, but duller than before, and localized mostly to his thigh. Stars stretched across the darkness overhead, the flicker of firelight dancing nearby. Cautiously, the dwarf king drew breath, marveling at the pure cold in his throat, the tingle of skin, even the hot throb of blood on his thigh, sensations proving that somehow, he lived once again.
The soft whisper of cloth and a moan nearby reminded the dwarf that he was not alone, hand fumbling instinctively for the hilt of a sword even as he cautiously turned his head to assess the situation. He seemed to be in a small mountain clearing, pines surrounding the space bending in the wind with a quiet rustle. Next to, and partially on top of him was another, solid body and muscular arms that of a dwarf, blond braids painted red in the firelight. Fili! Before Thorin could reach out to his nephew, the other was staggering to his feet, focused intently on something before him, back to his uncle. As the young dwarf took one unsteady step forward, a small figure came barreling at him from the shadows, oversized foot planting on the dwarf's unprotected side, sending him sprawling once more to the ground.
"Oi! You stay away from him!"
The figure resolved itself into a hobbit, of all things, short and solid in build, a small sword to hand, feet planted and daring anyone to come near. Just behind, Thorin could make out two bodies, limp, one sprawled atop the other near a small fire. Fili surged back to his feet, one of his twin swords in his right hand, left arm limp at his side, answering anger with anger.
"That's my brother over there!"
At those words, Thorin tried to rise, ignored by the combatants, only to be sent back to the ground with gritted teeth as his right leg refused to bare weight. Gaze darting around, he spotted Orcrist just behind him, grabbing the blade to unsheathe it with a ring of steel. Finally, the other two noted his presence, Fili's eyes widening in shocked realization. Even sitting in the dirt, there was no mistaking the deadly skill of Thorin Oakenshield as the elven blade swept through the night toward the little hobbit. The Halfling, surprisingly, blocked it, swords sparking off one another, but as it did, both Thorin and Fili received a good look at the little blade. The younger dwarf blurted the words, anger mixing with surprise.
"That's Bilbo's sword!"
The hobbit took a quick step back, wary now, hands shifting in the tell-tale nature of a nervous, inexperienced wielder.
"Aye. It is. What of it? Who are you to know Mr. Bilbo?"
They were two against one, but the hobbit was too close to Kili and the other to risk overwhelming him, especially as both Thorin and Fili were wounded, nor could the king easily stand to join the younger dwarf in a rush. Besides, Thorin knew of old that some of the deadliest foes were those inexperienced with their weapons, for they did not do as expected, nor control the consequences of their swings. This small being of a peaceful race could kill without ever intending to, as the orc henchman of Azog's had discovered among another stand of mountain pines when this sword rested in the hands of Bilbo Baggins. Far better to try talking with him for the moment.
"We are friends of Bilbo Baggins; he accompanied us on a journey to reclaim our home."
Thorin watched as the hobbit took that in, noting the rough hands that held the sword and the rustic manner of this one's speech, so different from Bilbo's proper wording. A working hobbit, then, not one of the closest that small land held to gentry, but he spoke of the burglar with familiar respect.
"And how do I know as you're tellin' the truth? Dwarves fallin' out of the sky and all. Tell me- tell me as how Mr. Bilbo got this sword, an' what one of the company said it was instead of a proper sword."
Thorin ground his teeth to keep from barking back at the Halfling, cursing the whole race's fondness for riddles.
"It was from a troll hoard along the Great East Road, near Rivendell. Three mountain trolls tried to eat us, but were caught by the dawn and turned to stone. Two other swords from ancient Gondolin were also found there."
No need to recite the more humiliating aspects of that whole debacle, but what had anyone called that thing besides a sword? A glance at Fili showed that he, too, was plumbing the depths of his memory, then the golden head shot up.
"Balin called it a letter opener at the dinner in Rivendell!"
At that, the hobbit straightened.
"Aye, that's what he put in his book. Supposin' we all put away our swords and sort out this mess. I'm Sam Gamgee."
As soon as Sam noted Fili relaxing in turn, he swiftly sheathed Sting, as Bilbo had named the weapon, and turned toward the two by the fire. In turn, Thorin and Fili both sheathed their own blades, Thorin immediately waving his nephew towards his brother. Dare he hope that his youngest sister-son, too, drew breath once again? Moving carefully, the dwarf king scooted closer to where the other two were gently untangling the bodies, letting out a sigh of relief when both chests could be seen to rise and fall. The hobbit, Sam, glanced up, and then grabbed Fili just before the dwarf could hit the ground himself.
"Here now, you'd better be sittin' down afore you fall and that's a fact. I'm right sorry about kickin' ya, but I thought you meant to hurt Mr. Frodo. You're hurtin' from more than my foot, aren't ya?"
Sam carefully maneuvered the dwarf prince two steps back until he stood next to Thorin, who reached up to take some of Fili's weight as the young one descended to the ground, then curled around his side. His face was white, forehead clammy to his uncle's touch. The hobbit's brown eyes met Thorin's deep blue.
"If you can see to him for a moment, I'll check on Mr. Frodo and his brother, though I didn't see any blood or wounds so far. Be right back."
Without waiting for Thorin's nod, the hobbit was scurrying off, gently straightening the two on the ground and running gentle hands over them to check for wounds, even as the king did the same for his own charge. Fili wasn't bleeding, but lifting his shirt revealed massive black bruising enveloping the entire left side of his body and down his arm almost to the elbow. The ribs felt intact, though Fili moaned and flinched from his probing fingers. How the young one had stood, let alone drawn a weapon with such injuries, Thorin had no idea. A small bag entered his line of vision, and he looked up to find Sam standing next to them.
"Healer's kit. It isn't much, but everything in there is good, Strider packed it himself. Neither Frodo nor your friend appears hurt, but both have fevers and they won't wake up. "
Fili stirred at that, forcing himself to uncurl and sit with his uncle's helping hand, sweat on his forehead in the cool night air giving silent indication of the pain he still fought. Under his hand, Thorin could feel the muscles spasming, stirring the bruises, chest rising and falling in short, sharp breathes. Rooting through the kit revealed a small glass jar labeled on top in Westron 'bruise ointment', the smell when Thorin took off the lid a familiar one. Good enough. Fili gasped, shooting him an annoyed look when he began slathering it on, but Thorin simply ignored him as he had every other time he'd been obliged to tend to the two.
"Kili had a wound through… I mean I thought I saw…"
The older brother faltered, stiffening in confusion and emotional agony at what his memories told him. Thorin put down the ointment and reached up, physically turning the golden head toward him as the younger dwarf began to shake.
"Fili!" He startled, blue eyes slowly focusing again. "Keep your mind on the present for now. I need you here. You both live, that is enough for now."
One hesitant nod reassured the king that the other was with him as he tucked his great fur coat around the elder of his sister-sons.
"Are you hurt anywhere other than your side and shoulder?"
It took a long moment for the other to answer him.
"I think… I was, but I felt the wounds seem to…repair when there was that bright flash." Fili's head ducked, face coloring ever so slightly. "I think I kicked someone when I landed."
Someone? The boy knew damned well who he'd kicked or he wouldn't be flushing like that! Sam snorted.
"The way you all was fallin', I doubt you could help it. Ain't never seen anything like that afore and that's sayin' something, what with all me and Frodo have been through. Fili, is it?"
"Yes. That's my brother, Kili, and this is-"
The king cut him off quickly, though it was possible this hobbit would recognize the names even shorn of titles. Sam, however, did not have a chance to react because a soft voice came from just behind him.
"Sam? What's happened? I thought I saw dwarves falling out of the sky."
The second stranger, another hobbit, was moving restlessly under the blanket Sam had draped over him, obviously struggling to sit up. Sam bolted to his side, hands grabbing shoulders to hold him down.
"You just lie still, now, Mr. Frodo. Do you hurt anywhere? That shoulder of yours?"
Not bothering to wait for an answer, Sam pulled a small pack over and gently lifted Frodo to lay propped against it, then was carefully baring the other hobbit's left shoulder. Thorin, meanwhile, scooted himself and Fili to the side of Kili, who lay on the ground next to Frodo, also covered in a blanket. The younger prince was so pale that for a moment Thorin was certain he must be dead again, but breath brushed against the hand he held to Kili's mouth. Fever spots high on his cheeks were the only spots of color to be seen and when his uncle laid a hand on his forehead, the young dwarf's skin was cold and clammy. Shock. It was a deadly killer, able to strike down even those who seemed fully healthy, even the healers unable to agree upon the true cause or best treatment. Some fought through it, and others simply faded away. Carefully, Thorin bared Kili's chest, still wrapped in linen stiff with old, dried blood. He worked one hand underneath and touched- Skin, whole with the feel of an old scar down it. One hand darted out to draw one of the small knives kept in Fili's vambraces, slicing through the wrapping cloth to confirm with his eyes what his fingers had told him. Head darting up, he and Fili almost collided in their shock.
"It isn't possible…"
"Was that where he was wounded?"
Sam's soft question snapped both dwarves back to the present, hastily wrapping up a now visibly shivering Kili.
"Yes, but it now appears months old."
Thorin noted, eyebrow raised at the hobbit, who was nodding.
"Aye, Mr. Frodo's shoulder looks the same, and Lord Elrond told us plain it wouldn't ever heal. The skin around the scar isn't even cold anymore, and the spot where old Shelob bit him on the back of the neck is gone, too. Could this big jewel as fell with you lot heal?"
He glanced in surprise at what the hobbit held out to him. The Arkenstone! Hesitantly, he took it, but the gem was cool and hard in his hand, displaying no warmth or power.
"What jewel, Sam? The one that fell at my feet? Who are these dwarves?"
At Frodo's question, Sam moved from between them, allowing Thorin his first good look at the other hobbit. Quickly, he stashed to Arkenstone inside of his tunic. Frodo was slight, almost emaciated for a hobbit, with delicate features and curly dark hair. The hands lying on the blanket showed none of the thickness of Sam's, gnarled with work, though there were scars there, and the ring finger on the left was gone.
"They really did just fall out of the sky after that big clap of thunder, Mr. Frodo." Sam began earnestly; as if afraid the other wouldn't believe him. "The jewel came outta Mr. Thorin's hand when he hit the ground and I saw you pick it up just as this one, Fili, knocked ya down, then his brother, Kili, fell on ya. There was this great flash o' light like Mr. Gandalf made that time in Moria, and now- Well, your shoulder!"
Sam was practically shouting at the end, words tripping over each other in his haste, breath finally exploding back into him as he stopped. Had it been under almost any other circumstances, Thorin would've laughed. From what was obviously long familiarity with the other, Frodo simply let him wind down before speaking again, reassuring and without a hint of smile at the comic waving arms of his friend.
"I'm perfectly fine, Sam, just exhausted. I don't think I could move very far right now even if I had to. I am cold, though. Is the tea water still heating over the fire, or did it spill in that ruckus?"
Diverted finally with a solid piece of normal behavior needing his attention, the brown haired hobbit moved off smoothly, leaving Frodo to watch curiously as Thorin went back to tending Fili. Taking the strips that had previously bound the younger brother's chest, the older dwarf found a piece that was relatively free of blood stains, first cradling Fili's left arm in a sling, then binding another strip over that to hold the arm snug to his chest, stabilizing the shoulder. His own leg still throbbed, but no longer seemed to be bleeding, so he ignored it for now in favor of his nephews.
"Bilbo is my uncle."
The soft words brought him to make eye contact with the young hobbit lying nearby, a gleam of curiosity and knowledge in his eye.
"Is that why your friend bears his sword?"
Frodo nodded slowly, accepting a cup from Sam and sipping slowly. The other hobbit soon brought over two more cups, steam curling gently from the top of them in the cool night air, handing them to Thorin and Fili. It was a soothing tea common in the Shire, and while Thorin had never cared all that much for it, he sipped, appreciating the warmth.
"Bilbo actually gave it to me, but I don't care for carrying a sword anymore, so Sam uses it. I've seen Glamdring, of course, since Gandalf still carries it, but I'd never expected to see Orcrist. However, it lies by your side, so I can only conclude that you are either both a liar and grave robber-"
Fili growled angrily, only Thorin's firm grip on his good shoulder keeping the young hot head seated. Frodo didn't seem at all alarmed, though Sam's hand strayed to Sting's hilt. Frodo simply smiled slightly, continuing.
"An unlikely conclusion given how you arrived or you truly are Thorin Oakenshield, somehow returned from the dead after over seventy years."