This story was inspired by the very lovely charathwen, and I hope she likes it. If you've read my other Hobbit story, then you know I'm a stickler for Canon, so please politely tell me if you find any mistakes. The dwarf women are all characters of my own devising, of course, but even the most original-seeming ideas have at their core a seed put there by Professor Tolkien. I thank him for letting me play in the garden that he planted.
Erebor, T.A. 2763:
Fundin looked down as Nar placed the squirming bundle in his arms. In the room behind him, he could hear the midwife speaking soothing words to his wife. It had been a difficult birth, and many steaming bowls of water had been carried into the room only to be carried out moments later, red and full of bloody cloth, but Nai was alive, and the dwarfling in Fundin's arms was alive and strong and crying out in a powerful voice
"What shall we call the little one," Nar asked. "He has a strong brow like his father
Fundin pushed back the cloth and looked into the face of his firstborn son. "He has his mother's eyes," he said, smiling and tickling the stubble under the dwarfling's chin. "Balin. My son is named Balin. He will be wise and brave, and he will live in this mountain, in the halls of his fathers, and here he will prosper."
The Iron Hills, T.A. 2772:
Fundin looked down at the dirt floor and frowned. His words had proved false, for not seven years after the birth of his firstborn, calamity had come down upon Erebor and dashed to pieces all the dreams that he had for his son. It was a blessing that Nai had survived at all, and even more that she had escaped from the Mountain with their young son while Fundin was trapped in the Second Hall, fighting against the dragon.
After a siege of three days, Smaug had broken through the gate and laid a path of ruin through the Mountain. He stalked from hall to hall, devouring and destroying all that he found. The great works of the Dwarves, their forges and mines, their carvings and their works of beauty, all were destroyed that were not gold or precious jewels.
And then the battle had been lost. All those who could run had fled out of whatever side doors or passage that they could find.
Fundin had held his company together for as long as he could to delay the dragon and win time for the women and children to flee, but Smaug had not been idle while the gates held him back. He had broken the sides of the mountain in his anger and burned the forests. Many hundreds of dwarves had been trapped under collapsing halls and there was no time to free those that had not been crushed. Many of those who had not been trapped by falling stone had fled, running for many miles through secret tunnels only to find that the lesser doors were blocked from the outside and the dragon's fire was behind them. There was no place to hide.
The dead were uncounted, and their tomb was the Mountain itself. There was no knowing how many of his friends and kin had escaped and fled, how many had died under the dragon's feet or in his flame or suffocated from the smoke of his breath. After the dragon had moved on, Fundin lay unconscious among the burned bodies of his comrades, and when he woke, there were few dwarves left alive in Erebor. The silver lanterns had all gone out and the only light was the dragon's fire that still burned on the bodies of the dead.
Fundin had gathered his weapons and gathered all the survivors that he could find, three injured soldiers and one dwarf woman. He led them by the firelight to a narrow stair that he knew and then, following his nose, he rallied their spirits and urged them up and up until they found a broken window that was not wholly blocked up with stone. They broke free and made their way down the eastern side of the mountain, limping and crying out in their grief.
It was another miracle, a third miracle, which led him to find his family again. He had thought them dead and buried under the Mountain, lost to him forever, but near the woods that edged the southeast spur of the Mountain and only a few miles from the bend of the River Running, Fundin's small company had found a camp of survivors. There were many wounded, and many more in grief, but in the camp of the refugees among the bleeding and the broken, Fundin had found his wife and son again.
The reunion was beautiful and many tears were shed, but afterwards they had gone east with the others to the Iron Hills. It was a long and weary walk with few supplies, but at the end of it, King Gror and his heir, Nain, had gladly taken in their kin and bandaged the wounds caused by the dragon.
In the east, Fundin had found Farin, his father and many others that they had feared dead who had also picked their way east. Slowly, word came to them that many more of their folk had survived as well. Thror, Thrain and young Thorin had somehow escaped and had gone south with a small company. Fundin's brother Groin had been with them and Gris, his wife.
Standing in a dim-lit hall of crudely carved stone beneath the ore-filled Hills of Iron, Fundin frowned and smoked his pipe. After the dragons had killed Dain and Fror, his grandfather had left the Grey Mountains with so many others. Borin had chosen to follow Thror and return to Erebor rather than join Gror in the Iron Hills. Fate had made Fundin's choice for him, but if King Thror still lived, then he must go to him; he knew that he could not live here in peace and forget the loyalty that he owed to Durin's heir and the eldest son of Dain.
The door opened behind him, and Fundin put aside his pipe. Nar appeared with a bundle of cloth and put it into his arms. The old dwarf smiled sadly, though the fire-burned half of his face did not move. "What shall we call the little one?" he asked.
Fundin did not answer. He could not look down at the face of his second-born son. He heard the soft words being spoken in the room behind him and was transported back to the great halls of Erebor. This birth had not been difficult, but Nai was stronger now. She had fought for their family and survived the harsh blow that had been dealt to her with the loss of Erebor. Her sister, Thrain's wife, had not escaped the dragon. Though her children were alive with Thror, Nis was gone to the Dwarf-halls and she sat and drank with Mahal, awaiting the final change of the world.
Fundin looked down at his eldest son. Balin was only nine years old, but the wisps of his brown beard were already filling in. In spite of his age, he was wise, as his father had predicted he would be, but the prosperity of his youth was in iron-ore and not the shinning gold of Erebor.
"Can I see him, da? Before I go to mum?"
Fundin smiled and knelt down, holding out the small bundle for Balin to see. This dwarfling was small, almost too small, but his black beard was long enough to curl upon his chin. He did not cry out but made a soft grunt in his throat when Balin squeezed his arm.
"What's his name, da? Does he have one?"
"Dwalin," Fundin said. "Your brother's name is Dwalin."
"Dwalin," Balin echoed, and then he screwed up his face. "I suppose that it will have to do."
The midwife had opened the door again and looked out into the hall. She nodded to Fundin, and he in turn nodded to his son. Balin was through the door in an instant, and Fundin could picture the lad hurrying to his mother's side. He was so much like Nai that it was uncanny.
Fundin looked down at the babe in his arms finally and brushed back his curly black hair. "Your elder brother has a kind heart, little Dwalin, but you shall be my strong lad." He lifted the dwarfling in his arms up into the air, and Dwalin laughed as if he knew what was said.
Nar smiled, but shook his head. "He is too small," he said. "He was born too soon. I do not know…"
"He will be my strong son," Fundin repeated. "But he is not strong yet. Not strong enough, and your mother would not let me take you with me even if you were born twice as big."
"Then you mean to make the journey?" Nar asked. "You will go south? Thror is in the White Mountains now, finding work where he can; but if you wait too long, they will have moved on again."
Fundin nodded. "I will go. Not so soon as I meant to, but before the year's end I mean to leave the Iron Hills. Gror has given me leave to go with some others. Farin will not go, not even though Groin, my brother is there and will soon have his own sons. My father still blames Thror for the gold that attracted the dragon. If he will not go, then I must be the one to renew our ties to the old King. I had thought to convince Nai that she should take Balin and come with me, but with such a youngling as we have now, that cannot be done. Farin must look after them while I am away."
The two dwarves stood in silence for a while. Dwalin was sleeping soundly against his father's chest, unaware that his fate was being decided above him.
"When you go south," Nar said, "I will go with you. I miss my friends and do not mean to be parted from my King again."
Fundin nodded. "I would be glad to travel with you, old friend. I am sure that Thror has missed your company very much."
He sighed. "Yes, I must go, but I will return as soon as I am able." He kissed the dwarfling's forehead and nodded. "When my sons are older, then we will follow our King into exile. I hope that by then Thror, or at least Thrain, will have set up a kingdom somewhere…"
This one won't be updated as regularly as I would like, but I put a lot of work into my research, so until my other fic finishes up, you'll have to bear with me. Reviews definitely help to increase my work ethic, though… I'm just saying…
This story isn't going to be a single narrative but a series of events throughout Dwalin's life, and if you have any event that you'd like to see included, feel free to suggest it.