"Come away from there," said Dori in a scolding manner, grasping his younger brother by the uninjured arm and guiding him determinedly back to the bed, away from the tent's entrance where Ori – swaying on his feet – had been looking at Fili and Kili's tent in a wistful manner for the better part of the past minute. "You won't help Their Highnesses by straining yourself, Ori, quite the opposite, as it will only task the healers further and prevent them from focusing on the young princes."
"But I'd really like to go to see them," said Ori softly. "Dori, please, Fili and Kili are my best friends and now they're all alone in there, aren't they, with Thorin being injured and me being here. There's no-one with them, and when they wake up, they will undoubtedly be terribly upset."
Dori helped his brother onto the bed and, once the boy was lying on his back, scoffed and hurried to move Ori's limbs gently but determinedly into a more comfortable position – the boy had a tendency to cross his legs at ankles, a dreadful habit he had adopted from Nori and one Dori was doing his best to discourage. After covering Ori with two blankets – his own and Ori's – Dori stepped pass Bofur's bed and over Bifur's thread collection to the only unmade bed in the tent. Huffing with disapproval, he gathered Nori's blanket into his arms and went back to Ori, sending exasperated glances towards the untidy surroundings of Nori's bed over his shoulder.
The tent the Ri brothers shared with the Urs was similar to the size and shape of any other tent in the camp but just as all the tents occupied by the common folk, there were several people sharing the cramped space which did make things rather frustrating to those who wanted to keep things in order and to those who cared about tidiness. When Dori had asked Nori to not spit on the ground when inside the tent and called Nori's attention to the knives, picklocks and dirty clothes scattered here and there around Nori's bed, Nori had done nothing to rectify the situation, absolutely nothing!
Even though this ignorance and the general mess his brother had made had really distressed Dori, he had tried to be patient and so he had simply asked Nori in a kind manner, time after time, to clean up after himself. Nori had eventually left the tent and stomped off to who knows where, muttering about "nagging brothers" and sticks in places that Dori prefered not to think of. It was certainly more than enough to have one brother with bad behaviour and so Dori was determined to keep Ori – who was young, naive and unfortunately impressionable – as far away from crude manners as he simply could.
Dori spread the third blanket over Ori's slender form to prevent the boy from getting cold.
"The princes are not alone," he then assured, emphasizing Fili and Kili's status in order to gently remind Ori of the proper way to refer to the royalty – being friends with the Durins certainly didn't justify improper behaviour and poor manners; as far as Dori was concerned, nothing did. "Surely there is at least one healer with them. And in any case, little vârpu, you should be more concerned with your own health. Have you yet even drunk the potions Master Oin gave you this morning?"
"Of course I have," claimed Ori, his gaze flickering towards the tent's entrance. Dori moved subtly to the right to block Ori's view, hoping that it would be enough to take all the foolish notions out of the lad's head. Perhaps if Ori didn't see the entrance, he would stop thinking about leaving the tent – "out of sight, out of mind," as the saying went.
"You're supposed to swallow four spoonfuls of the green liquid in the morning," Dori reminded Ori, "and just two of the brown one in the evening."
"I know," muttered Ori.
"It's almost noon already," Dori continued. "Have you even had anything to eat today, apart from the chicken I brought for you?"
"I have," said Ori, his voice muffled due to all the blankets. "I ate porridge for breakfast, and then more porridge not an hour ago."
"You've only eaten porridge today?" worried Dori. "There's barely any meat in that. Oh, Ori, you should know better than to have such unbalanced diet when injured. I better go and get you some nourishing roast immediately, I'm sure Bombur still has some left. And if he doesn't, he'll make some just for you."
"Oh," Ori let out a breath, "uh, I'm not really hungry anymore, Dori, so you don't need to-"
"Not hungry?" cried Dori, aghast, hastening to feel Ori's forehead in case of fever. "You have lost your appetite, uhumûd? But Master Oin assured me that you were getting better already! I have to get him back here immediately to re-examine you and he better do it properly this time, or else I'll give him an earful – and not only of words."
Dori ignored all Ori's objections and left him in the tent with strict orders to try and get rest. He then tried to locate the royal healer, which turned out to be surprisingly easy.
Oin was sitting on a wooden block outside Thorin's tent, a bowl of something steaming and delicious-smelling balanced on his knee, a red sausage in one hand, a fork in the other. The healer wasn't happy at all to have his early lunch interrupted. Instead of hurrying to see Ori, he simply grunted and continued eating, much to Dori's exasperation.
"It sounds like there's nothing wrong with the lad's appetite," Oin claimed, chewing a piece of sausage in a rather noisy manner. "Young Ori just probably wasn't hungry anymore after having already eaten twice today – it's not yet even noon, after all, and most people have only eaten once today, if even that."
"'Probably'?" Dori seethed, glaring at the healer. "There might be something seriously wrong with my brother and you're settling with 'probably'?"
"It appears that way, yes," nodded Oin. "Now go away, Dori, and let me eat my meal. This is the first time since yesterday morning that I have had a moment to myself and I would like to keep it that way – to myself."
Oin did look exhausted with the dark circles under his eyes and his beard in tangles. In any other situation Dori would have left the healer be, but when it came to his brothers and their well-being, Dori had always been quite... determined, to put it mildly, and so he now flicked his nose and crossed his arms and refused to move an inch. Oin didn't seem to care, for he pocketed his ear trumpet and began to fork his meal.
Well, Oin didn't seem to care, but it appeared that he did so anyway: it only took Dori a half an hour of following the healer around for Oin to finally twirl around to face him and say that Ori was obviously suffering from a dire case of daragum-az-bâdad-agrum, "another person holding on to his arse to keep it from hitting the ground", which was a saying used to describe a situation where someone was being unreasonably and annoyingly overprotective of a person under their care.
Dori found it so scandalous and upsetting to hear Oin – a healer – to use such crude language that he never really managed to ponder the meaning behind the saying. Instead, he informed Oin that he wouldn't let such rude dwarf near his brother and that Oin better calm down before he came to see Ori again. Oin muttered something about Dori just having proved his point before he entered one of the healing tents and Dori was left standing outside alone.
He didn't have to sputter there alone for long, though, for Bombur and Bofur soon appeared from behind one of the tents, both of them looking tired but resolute. Upon noticing Dori, Bofur smiled tensely and nudged his brother with his elbow. Bombur, too, looked over at Dori and so the two Urs changed their course and walked straight to Dori.
"There's something we need to tell you," Bombur said quietly when they were close enough to touch, grasping Dori by the left arm while Bofur took a hold of Dori's right arm.
"Not here," added the toymaker in a low voice, casting a cautious look around them. "We better go somewhere where we won't be overheard. There's something we have to tell you, Dori, and it's better that... that certain people remain oblivious to it for the time being."
"What are you on about?" demanded Dori, trying in vain to pull himself free.
"You'll find out soon enough," muttered Bofur, tightening his hold on Dori's arm, "but this is no place for the talk we're about to have. Come on, Dori, we'll tell you everything when we're somewhere other than the main road."
They were indeed standing right in the middle of the main road, blocking the way of several impatient dwarves, including a group of warriors that was rolling the refilled water barrels back towards the centre of the camp. This road had been formed between the tents on purpose, by order of one of Dain's engineers, the one that was responsible for the safety regulations in the camp (which was a task no-one in their right mind would have envied of him; all the other engineers were green with envy). The road ran straight through the camp, through the centre in the middle, going from west to east, flanked on both sides by tents of Durin's blue. It was as busy a road as only a main road in a dwarven camp could be with some of the warriors marching purposefully towards their destination, others loitering here and there, guards shouting at drunken dwarves to go to take a piss elsewhere and not on the main road or else.
"What exactly do you need to tell me?" asked Dori, growing more worried by each passing moment seeing the pinched looks on his friends' faces. "And why the secrecy? And who are these 'certain people' you wish to keep oblivious?"
"We'll tell you when we're alone," promised Bofur in an uncharacteristically terse manner.
Though Dori expressed his objections to leave the safety of the main road and even told Bofur and Bombur of Ori's lack of appetite – which certainly needed Dori's immediate attention – he was led to a more desolate part of the camp, near the disposal pits. Once they were standing between two large disposal pits, Bofur and Bombur finally came to a halt and turned to face Dori, letting go off his arms. Gagging, Dori hurried to cover his nostrils with his sleeve, so pungent was the smell of urine and faeces that near the pits.
"Now then, Dori," said Bofur without further ado. He was holding his nostrils closed with his fingers and so his voice had a nasal quality to it. "It appears that we have a problem."
The next few minutes were spent by Bofur and Bombur explaining to Dori what had happened to one certain burglar in the course of the past day. As the story progressed, the expressions on Dori's face changed from bemusement and worry to disbelief and finally to anger. Once Bofur and Bombur fell silent after saying all they had to say, Dori was equally scandalized, worried and outraged.
"Well I never!" he huffed, tears streaming down his face due to the pungent smell all around them.
He didn't say anything more, too upset to do much else but huff, frown and shake his head in a stiff manner. He had been under the belief that all members of the Company, apart from the Durins, had survived the battle with minor injuries and to hear that Bilbo had almost been killed by one of their own after the battle – well, by one of the Iron Hill dwarves, obviously – was too outrageous to even begin to comprehend.
When asked by Bofur, Dori agreed to help with the search for Bilbo.
"But I have to go see Ori first," he added. "And we'll need to take him something to eat, Bombur, as he hasn't eaten anything but porridge – and a bit of chicken – today. I'm worried for his health."
With that, determined not to waste a moment, Dori turned his back on the two Urs and began to march back towards the main road and their tent that was situated by the road. With his back on his friends, he missed Bofur's resigned eye-roll and the half-amused, half-exasperated glance the toymaker exchanged with Bombur.
To Dori's shock, Ori wasn't in their tent. Ori's bed was empty and his boots were gone, along with one of the blankets and his favourite mittens, the soft red ones. On the pillow there was a note written in Khuzdul with neat, precise handwriting.
Gone to see Fili and Kili. Ori
Grumbling to himself with exasperation, Dori folded the note and pocketed it. It appeared that while he had been gone, Ori had forgotten all about the way Dori had told him to try and get rest.
"Young ones and their span of attention," Dori muttered to himself, taking the bowl of roast from Bombur who had fetched the food from the cooking area in a record time (and was now subtly eating it).
When Dori entered Fili and Kili's tent with Bofur and Bombur – they were granted entrance only due to their status as members of Thorin's Company – they found Ori sitting on a chair between the beds where the unconscious princes were lying. A lump rose in Dori's throat at the sight of Fili and Kili and he would have hauled Ori right out of the tent and back to bed to keep him from bothering the injured princes hadn't a healer called Giril put a hand on his arm and asked him to let Ori stay.
"It might be good for the princes to have a familiar voice talking to them, to keep them company, unconscious though they may currently be," Giril claimed.
Dori had never been one to question authority and so, reluctantly, he allowed his brother to stay, but only after the healer examined Ori thoroughly – at Dori's request – and declared that Ori was well enough to be sitting on a chair on his own.
When Healer Giril went outside to fetch more clean bandages, Bofur and Bombur told Ori of Bilbo, although not quite with Dori's consent. Dori would have prefered not to burden Ori with such ill news, but on the other hand he had to admit that the boy had a right to be aware of the situation as Bilbo's friend and as a member of Thorin's Company. So, while Dori cut up Ori's roast, Bofur and Bombur filled Ori in on the details of the situation. Ori swallowed hard and blinked furiously, but otherwise he took the news in a seemingly calm manner – Dori didn't know this, but Ori was trying not to agitate him by not getting visibly upset, as he knew that Dori would never leave his side and go look for Bilbo if he didn't think that Ori was well enough to be left (momentarily) on his own.
"Who else is looking for Bilbo?" asked Ori and Bombur gave him a quick overview of all those places where a dwarf had been placed to keep a subtle eye out for an invisible hobbit as well as of those dwarves who were currently searching for him in the camp and around the battlefield. Dwalin had formed several searching groups of Dain's most discreet people as well as of the uninjured members of the Company and they all worked in rotation so that there would be constantly someone looking for Bilbo while the others got to rest for a bit.
"You ought to go look for him too, then," ushered Ori, frowning. "We'll be fine here, Fili, Kili and I, but Bilbo is in desperate need of your help."
Bofur and Bombur did leave then, clapping Ori in the shoulder and sparing Fili and Kili looks of pity as they went, but it still took a few more minutes for Dori to follow after them. He had to make sure that Ori ate all the roast, after all.
The stamped, blackened battlefield had become notably emptier in the course of the night and now only the carcasses of orcs and wargs remained. The carcasses had already been piled up in large hills and Dori assumed that Dain's warriors were merely waiting for the rising wind to veer to the south or south-west, away from the camp, before they would set them on fire. He wished that the wind would turn soon for he loathed the sight of the beasts and wanted them destroyed as soon as possible.
Dori, Bombur and Bofur were now searching the battlefield with thirty of Dain's more experienced warriors – and with one fair-haired warrior who couldn't be more than eighty-five, if that. The lad's name was Tiru and he was the only one in a group of eight Ru cousins that hadn't gotten injured during the battle, a fact that had made him so moody and ill-tempered that Rea, as the head of his unit, had ordered him to come to help with Bilbo's search simply to keep him out of trouble.
Dori walked forward carefully, feeling around with his feet and the long walking stick Rea had provided him with, just in case Bilbo was lying somewhere on the ground, unconscious or sleeping. He was just about to call out to Bombur and suggest that they should move their search further east when the young lad, Tiru, let out a sudden, startled cry.
Tiru was standing at the foot of one of the hills of wargs, pointing a finger up at the hill.
"One of the wargs is still alive!" he called out in Khuzdul, motioning frantically for the other dwarves to come closer. "I heard it let out a growl!"
Startled by the possibility that there was still at least one warg alive, Dori unsheathed his sword with slightly clumsy movements and approached the warg hill cautiously, Bombur, Bofur and Dain's warriors quickly following his suit. Bofur and Bombur frowned at the hill, while Dori swallowed hard and clenched the hilt of his sword in his fist, his heart in his throat – he had hoped to avoid all battles and fights for the rest of his life and an unexpected appearance of an alive, hungry warg would not be welcome in any way.
"Do you think it might attack me?" Tiru asked, a look of almost feverish anticipation in his eyes. "Perhaps it will give me a scar. Then I wouldn't be the only one uninjured – then I would have something to show to Aunt Brindi, to prove her that I wasn't hiding like some coward while all of my cousins fought for their lives!"
It was survivor guilt the lad was feeling, Dori realized, his heart going out for the poor boy.
"We shall talk about that later, Master Tiru," said Rea in gruff Westron, giving Tiru an assessing sidelong glance. "I need you to focus on the task at hand: where exactly was the growl coming from, can you say?"
Tiru willingly pointed out the direction and Rea, along with two of her largest warriors, began to climb uphill. To Tiru's disappointment and embarrassment, the three warriors found no evidence of any a warg having still been alive and, after a relatively long while of studying the hill, Rea let out a grunt and sheathed her sword, her pose relaxing slightly.
"It was no warg, Master Tiru," she said tersely. "And thank Eru for that."
"I'm sure I heard something," Tiru insisted even though most of the older warriors had already gone back to searching for Bilbo. "It sounded like a growl, it must have been a warg! Is it not our duty to make sure that it's not alive?"
"If you truly heard a warg growling, my boy," Dori said soothingly, patting the young dwarf in the shoulder in a patronizing manner, "it's dead by now. Otherwise it would have already attacked us. You must have heard wrong."
"I didn't!" cried Tiru, shrugging Dori's hand off his shoulder. "There was something there, I heard it!"
"Perhaps you head Bombur's stomach rumbling," suggested Bofur. "He hasn't eaten anything in an hour and so it's getting empty."
"Please don't remind me, brother," moaned Bombur, rubbing his belly in a wistful manner. "I am growing hungry, but we do not have the time for meals right now – we have a hobbit to find."
"Perhaps it was the hobbit that I heard," muttered Tiru sourly.
"I assure you," said Dori patiently, "that I have never heard Mister Baggins growl. To my ken hobbits are not in a habit of growling. If you truly heard something akin to a growl, it must have indeed been Bombur's rumbling stomach."
Dori turned away from the hill, but Bofur looked up at the wargs with a contemplative, thoughtful look on his face. While Dori spent the next several hours scouting out the battlefield, Bofur climbed on each of the warg hills calling for Bilbo every few minutes, lifting various carcasses just in case the hobbit was hiding under one of them.
They didn't find Bilbo that day though they searched for him through the night.
"I need you to go to sit with Thorin," said Dwalin as soon as he had noticed Dori by candlelight after entering the tent the Ris and the Urs resided.
Apart from Dori, there were only Bombur and Bofur in the tent, both of the brothers deep asleep after a day, a night and another day and half a night of looking for and worrying over Bilbo. Dori on his part hadn't really managed to sleep from his worries and so he was now sitting on his bed, knitting socks for Nori with grey yarn.
Bombur's snoring and the sound of knitting filled the tent in a pleasant, domestic manner while Dwalin waited impatiently for his command to get acknowledged.
"...sixteen, seventeen, eighteen," Dori finished counting the stitches on the third needle before lowering his work and casting Dwalin an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, Mister Dwalin, I was too focused on counting to properly hear you. What were you saying?"
"I said," snapped Dwalin, his voice full of exasperation over being forced to repeat himself, "that I need you to go sit with Thorin, as no-one else is available and as I'll have to go do some investigating: there have been several reported burglaries in the outermost circle – it appears that someone has been leaving hagûr-fur-sûm in the tents in exchange of some winter clothes and other equipment."
Hagûr-fur-sûm. It had been a long time – several decades, in fact – since Dori had heard someone mentioning the Sacred Gold Coins.
Dwarves were experts when it came to anything precious and any a dwarf could recognize any type of gold with easy precision. Hagûr-fur-sûm, or "Sacred Gold Coins" as they were known in Westron, were coins minted of the pure, beautiful gold mined from the depths of Erebor herself. The Sacred Coins had their own special quality, sound and scent to them, one that hadn't been detected outside the Home Mountain after that fateful day when the Great Worm had attacked. If there truly had now been Sacred Coins found in the tents in the outermost circle, it appeared that someone had snuck some of Erebor's treasures out of the Home Mountain after Smaug's death. And since only the members of the Company had been in the treasury after Smaug's death, the amount of suspects was quite defined.
With a resigned sigh, Dori put away his knitting. He opened his mouth to ask the inevitable question, but Dwalin beat him to it.
"No," the warrior said with a curt shake of his head, "It wasn't Nori – I've already interrogated him. Rather, it appears that our missing burglar, Baggins, has been doing some burglarizing in the outermost circle, leaving Sacred Coins in the tents in exchange of water skins and worn trousers, of all things. Probably doesn't quite understand the true value of those coins, our hobbit."
Dori climbed quickly off the bed, smoothing down his clothes to appear more presentable.
"You think," he then said, "that Mister Baggins has finally made an appearance?"
"Not as much of an 'appearance' as a bit of a crime," grumbled Dwalin, fiddling a bit with the wedge of his axe. "Or rather, several crimes. No-one saw him, but – or perhaps for that exact reason – I don't think it could have been anyone but him. If Baggins is going around stealing, he has to be pretty desperate for these supplies, and it is possible that he will try to leave the camp once he has gathered all the supplies he believes he will need. I'm getting tired of 'this little situation', as Ironfool keeps calling it, and I want Baggins found before Thorin becomes aware enough to realize what's going on. I'm going to go and see if I can find Baggins before he leaves and I want someone to be with Thorin while I'm gone in case he needs protecting."
"We really shouldn't be keeping information from Prince Thorin, Mister Dwalin!" hissed Dori, frowning at Dwalin with disapproval. "He is our (soon-to-be) king and he has the right to know if someone has been trying to execute one of his friends in his good name!"
"We'll tell Thorin everything once things have been sorted," said Dwalin gruffly, evading Dori's accusing glare in a way that made Dori suspect that the warrior wasn't comfortable at all with lying to his king. This didn't quell his anger one bit and for a while Dori simply pointed a trembling finger at Dwalin in a very accusing manner.
"Well I never!" he eventually managed. "I, for one, refuse to lie to my king and friend! If Prince Thorin asks, I will tell him the truth and only the truth."
"By all means," said Dwalin, leveling Dori with a dark look. "You can do that – if you want Thorin to die, that is: if Thorin finds out about the executions and about Baggins having gone missing, he will try to get up and he's not yet in any a condition to try to do that – he's currently unable to hold a spoon on his own, for grûcks sake! You might as well take a sword, Dori, and kill him yourself if you're so bent on agitating him and prompting him to leave the bed when he's not yet well enough to do so."
Dori and Dwalin glared at each other for a long while. It was Dori who looked away first, wringing his hands as he always did when he was particularly unsettled or anxious.
"I really shouldn't go sit with Prince Thorin," he eventually, reluctantly said, uncomfortable with the whole situation. "By now, Mister Dwalin, after all those times you've interrogated me of Nori's whereabouts, you must be aware that I'm terrible at lying. You know that my eye begins to twitch when I lie and I would surely give everything away - I would surely cause Thorin's death!"
"You won't," Dwalin snorted. "Thorin isn't exactly at his most observant state at the moment. He shouldn't become too suspicious, no matter what you say to him, or how much your eye keeps twitching."
"Besides," Dwalin added, "Thorin is exhausted enough to sleep very late and Bifur will come to relieve you before noon, so what are the chances of Thorin waking up on your watch!"
A/N: Oh Dori. His point of view was interesting to write, although I did consider not writing this chapter at all and just continuing with Bilbo's pov. I chose to write Dori's pov mainly because it should shed some light on the behaviour of the rest of the Company f. ex. in the scene where they're standing at the foot of the warg hill.
As this chapter is from Dori's pov and nothing we didn't already know really happens, it's identical to the sixth chapter of the gen version of this fic. On another note, this will most likely be the last chapter that has any resemblance to the gen version of this fic, as the rest of the story will be seen mostly from Bilbo and Thorin's povs.
Thanks for all the reviews! You're so sweet. :3