Title: I'm Fine
Author: Forged Obsidian
Category: Tragedy/ Family
Characters: Thorin Oakenshield, Fíli, Kíli, Dís
Setting: Throughout the 'Lord of the Rings' Appendicies and 'The Hobbit' book
Disclaimer: I sincerely doubt I'm John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Summary: He spent his life telling others that he was fine. He also lied for a good portion of his life.
He spent his whole life telling others that he was fine.
It began when he was a child, running through the worn paths of his ancestors. Running, from two others who would find him, and that wasn't part of the game. All black hair and sprouting beards chased down the hallway after him, saying we'll get you, big brother!
In the end it was a silly mistake. He forgets where he is, forgets that he is tall, for a dwarf. The edge of the doorway juts out, and just as he turns his face from the ones pursuing him he runs into the overhanging stone.
The younger two gasp, dashing forward.
Are you alright?
Thorin looks up into young eyes, one set a deep brown, like Father. The other was melting ice.
A simple grin, a licking of a bloodied lip.
Yes. I am fine.
The younger ones smile in relief. They didn't want to get in trouble for getting their big brother hurt. They squeal and scamper away when Thorin suddenly lunges toward them. He watches for a moment as the young dwarves rocket down the hallway.
He is standing in the doorway, looking out at the sickening gleam of yellow gold. He can see his grandfather, shifting through the piles with ringed hands and ringed eyes. He is older, now. No time for running through halls, crashing into doorways.
That is when the lies truly start.
He leaves the gold, his Grandfather, his King, and goes to his rooms.
He tries to forget the blankness, the slate-like quality of Grandfather's eyes.
His sister comes in, still young, but older. She sees the look in his eyes, the premature wrinkles forming on a young face. Father is often away, now. Dealings in Dale and with the elves have fallen, and he tries to repair them. Thorin tries to hold his people together, and they slip through his fingers.
You are too young, she says. You should not have to do this yet.
Tired eyes look up into mirrors, frosted ice meeting the melting.
A small grin, a smirk really.
I'm fine, sister.
The dragon burns their home, their friends, their livelihood. Dale is little better. Grandfather is silent, Father is hurt. He tried to defend the Gate, but a falling stone struck his back. Thorin is dashing through the quivering masses, helping families find one another, giving orphans to those who lost children.
He tries not to see the smoke rising from Dale. He tries to ignore the fact that they were abandoned.
He expects no help from the city of men, who are running from the ruin and trying to find their own. He did expect help from the elves, though.
He can understand the reluctance to face a dragon. He knows that the king had his reasons. But food, medical supplies, even a kind hand would have done wonders for his shattered people.
Instead they turned away.
He had to take a dead child away from a mourning mother, who had no one else left in Erebor. She screamed, and collapsed. She would not make it through the winter. He buried the child, digging with his hands to the proper length, for if the child could not be put to rest in stone, then the earth would have to do.
No fiery pyre for the little one, only cool, sturdy earth.
His brother and sister are waiting for him, Grandfather having fallen asleep, Father at the medical tents, attending to and being attended.
They say nothing. Nothing about the dirtied face, the torn hands.
In return he says nothing, just steps forward, realizing that he is lucky. His family is all here, and not buried in cool earth. They fall into a pile, Thorin at the top, holding the torn clothing and singed beards of his family together, realizing that he has to lie to himself, be strong, not break.
I am fine.
The first winter is the worst. The woman whose child he took away dies, wandering out into a storm calling for family long gone. They find her frozen body in the morning, knowing that her death would be the best thing for her and them, despairing that they have grown hard enough to find such a thought acceptable.
The food is scarce, human towns are rare and unforgiving. Those trained in forging, crafting, repairing, go to the cities of men and use the skills that would be better off in a dwarf forge in the hardly adequate wooden stalls of those who think them strange, crafty, sneaky.
Thorin and a friend, taller than him, work in forges of men, casting horseshoes and mending plows. Sometimes an order for a sword comes in and they take it, though the recipient has no idea the skill it took to make such a thing, to make a pile of metal live and breathe and hunger for blood.
Thorin comes back to his people, pulling a wooden cart, the soot and ash unnoticeable in his dark hair. The nicks and bruises on his hands are ignored, for he wishes to bear it in silence. The food is taken off the cart, the coin given to the brother of his friend, small clinks in a small purse.
He sees Grandfather, pouring over maps, judging distances and metal and men.
Father sees to the guard, watching with other soldiers the outside of the camp, pushing back curious eyes.
Sister sees the the women and children, sometimes carrying tired little ones on her already strong back.
Brother, with his Father-eyes, pushes morale, telling jokes and pulling antics to coax smiles from broken faces. It works less and less often, but he keeps trying.
At night his Sister rubs the soreness out of his body, using sure knuckles to push knots out of a broad back.
He says nothing of the glares, of the strange looks, the curious eyes of little humans who have never seen fire and ash and cold frozen mothers.
When asked, all he can say is that he is fine, for he still has his family, his sister, his brother.
I am fine.
The idea to take back Moria was a false hope, a light shined through a dark cloth at night. Wishful to think about, but useless in the end. They fight because he is their King, a helm to follow through the storm. The thought of warm halls and chipping stone are welcoming, and they thought it would be easy.
Those thoughts do not cross their minds as they tread on bodies, just to stay above the puddles of blood.
Thorin does not go to Grandfather, he saw him fall. He has no desire to take the crown from a disembodied head, for he is no King. To be a king, you need a home, an unbroken people.
He does not shatter, only allowing his hands to shake as they move bodies from the field, to the mass pyre build by bloodied hands. No time to dig through stone, not time to break cool earth, for the carrion birds were coming.
He does not break when he finds the body of Grandfather, held by Father, on the field, at the rock. He simply drags Father away, gently leaning onto the wearied dwarf to give a foundation, an anchor. He tries to ignore the slate-like look in his Father's eyes, so similar to Grandfather.
He breaks when others find Brother, torn from shoulder to hip. Thorin had to hold him together, or he would fall apart, and so would Thorin.
The dwarf prince sings, softly, under his breath, like he used to in Erebor, when he comforted a brother and a sister too small to climb steps. They had been afraid of the thunder, and the cold eyes of an elven king.
He does not know when his Brother passes, when the Father-eyes grown dim, and the eyelids slip down just short of being closed.
He would never laugh again.
Sister does not understand, and never will, if Thorin has his way. He will spare her the nightmares, or his at least, for the healing tents saw the results of the battle, sometimes worse that dim eyes and unbeating hearts.
He is pulled away, hands red with blood and black with grime. Thorin looks down into they eyes of a friend, the split grey-white beard, and leans softly into a shoulder clad in iron, and tries not to scream.
When his sister wakes him from nightmares, he thanks her, hands shaking. The next morning he will have to face, lead, his people, for Father has not spoken in anything except small phrases, and can no longer use his left arm.
The people will look to him, a broken and bandaged and bloodied people, and lead them to their next home, drawn from Grandfather's maps.
I am fine, his eyes will say.
I am broken, his heart will scream.
The Blue Mountains are not home, not warm halls and carved stone. The men are cautious, but welcoming, the mountains poor, but allow them rest with open arms.
Thorin makes no attempt to delve into stone, making a more human home for him and Sister.
Father left long ago, soon after Moira, limping away to some unknown destination. They had not had the strength to chase him, deciding that he had made his choice. That night the warg howling had been loud.
More stares. Would this king, too, fall to madness?
His Sister is being courted, by who he has yet to find out, but a yellow-haired dwarf has been lurking around the forge, so perhaps him. Smiles are easier, now. His people can take care of themselves, having no need for a King who holds himself above them.
They can enjoy a king with soot coated hands, thick knuckles, and a scarred body that fought for them through winter and battle. They can speak to him, easily, for the forge is necessary. The humans have little knowledge, and less coin, but the currency of food and cheer is never passed over.
The tavern is a favorite, the warms arms of ale are open to all who are willing to share a story and some work.
When he comes home, no longer sore for he has grown used to work, his sister is waiting. Sometimes others will come with him, friends made in battle or along the road. Usually, however, he is alone. Sister smiles, grown sideburns gracing her features well. She is strong, now, clad in cloth and fraying furs, not silk or gems, but she seems happy.
How was your day, she will ask.
Thorin will hesitate, perhaps, and answer neither yes or no.
For now he was fine.
I am fine, he says.
His first nephew is born. He waits with the golden-haired dwarf in another room, listening to a deafening healer giving encouragement to his Sister. Soon the room goes quiet, and worry gnaws at Thorin's stomach. Squalling crashes throughout the room, then, breaking the suffocating silence. The dwarves look at each other in relief.
The boy is golden-haired, as well, curling fluff clinging to his head. Sister is tired, and wishes to spend time with her husband. Thorin has to be taught how to hold the child by the healer, who guides his hands with their scarred knuckles with long-suffering patience. Then, alone.
The dwarf prince looks at the Nephew, at eyes that are so much like Father's, like Brother's, laughing.
Thorin tries to not cry, but when he is able to pass Nephew to the arms of the child's father and embrace his Sister, he allows one tear to trail down a dirty cheek. Soon they are all tearing up, the combination of worry and fatigue catching up to them and spilling over the edges of their self control.
Then, Thorin starts laughing. Sister also lets out a weary chuckle, then notices the shaking hands of her brother. Looking into a weary face, she asks, with some nostalgia, if he was alright.
A smile, tired, but real.
Yes, sister. I'm fine.
The second Nephew is more trouble that the first. Smaller, more energy, and now a partner in crime. Climbing on shelves, perhaps, or running through the house being chased, screaming no bath! No bath!
Thorin thinks that, perhaps, this might be enough. He does not need halls, or a mountain, or a kingdom to look after. Perhaps this can be home.
He calls himself a liar.
Sister comes home to two tired sons nestled like deer into the side of their uncle, stretched out on the wooden floor. Thorin is pulling oatmeal from his hair, and glares at his sister when she clatters through the door. He motions for her to be quiet, and slowly moves to pick up a dwarf child. Sister grins, and moves to help him.
The brothers sleep in the same bed, curled around each other like puppies. A memory flashes of two brothers sleeping together, waiting out a storm. Thorin gives a small smile. Smiling is becoming more and more common.
Sister gives him a strange look, and for the first time in a long while, asks the question.
How are you, Thorin?
A quiet moment, a long thought, then a full smile, uninhibited by grime or blood or worry.
I am perfectly fine, sister.
And for the first time in a long while, he is fine. He has no need to lie.
The first time he meets the Wizard he is in the forge, working on a small knife bent beyond belief. A deep voice shocks Thorin out of the rhythm he built for himself.
Are you Thorin Oakenshield?
The hammer slips off the anvil, crashing near his foot. He turns to the man, expecting a, well, not a wizard.
Retorts slip back down his throat. He learned to swallow his pride long ago.
The Wizard nods when he sees the bearing of the dwarf, years of toil and work and battles having nearly no effect on the stance. Shoulders wide, hands at his side, head up, chin raised, looking the man in the eye. The man also takes in the short beard, the scarred knuckles.
I am Gandalf, a friend of your father. I am sorry to hear of his passing.
Thorin shrugs, having not thought about the dwarf not strong enough to hold his mind for years.
It happened, and there is nothing for it now. Thorin hopes the pain flaring in his chest is temporary.
The Wizard bows his head in agreement, realizing that perhaps his hopes of killing a dragon and helping a misplaced people may not work. Then, listening to the voice and not the words, the Wizard hears something that gives him hope. A broken note, a decaying melody.
These mountains are killing the dwarf prince, for he has not been home for too long. This was never home, just a temporary place to have his people rest. Except now, perhaps, Thorin thinks that this is permanent.
Sitting down on a tree stump, the Wizard looks Thorin in the eye, one hand slipping inside his sleeve to finger the key lodged to a thread. Not now, he whispers. But soon.
I hear you were forced from your mountain, Thorin.
Shaking his head, realizing that the Wizard offered hope that seemed to be nothing more than a lamp covered by a dark cloth, useless in the end.
I am fine, here, Wizard.
Thorin knows that he is lying.
It did not take long for the Wizard to convince Thorin to try for the Mountain, for home.
It took forever to deal with his Nephews, however. They are young, one with little more than stubble on his chin. Yet they wish to prove themselves, to fight, to make their Uncle proud of them. Their golden-haired father passed some time ago, the disease that swept the mountains claiming many lives.
Thorin became a father, though in his opinion, not a very good one. He considered himself too moody, melancholy for the young ones. Yet they love him still.
Both Brother and Sister fight the younger ones, telling them that their people will need to be protected while Uncle goes away. They do not listen. They beg, plead, even get on their knees, asking, telling, promising that they will be fine, that they will look out for each other.
In the end, not even Sister can deny them. They leave, traveling ahead of their uncle, who goes to search for allies.
Thorin thinks that, perhaps, now he will be fine.
It might just take a long time to get there.
The trees are burning, now. He can see them through the back of his eyelids.
He hates fire, when it gets like this.
He can see the orc, coming to end him. Scrabbling in the dirt does nothing.
A surprised gasp pushes past his teeth, as he sees the hobbit kill, perhaps for the first time.
Twisting to watch drained him.
Then, light. Pushing past a grey hat and warped staff.
An explanation, an apology, a hug.
They see Home on the horizion, and Thorin's heart soars. His feet remind him of how far he still needs to go.
After climbing down the rock, after gritting out pain through tightened jaws, the friend comes over to Thorin, white beard licking at pumping legs. He sits down next to the dwarf prince, careful of the bandages and bruising, and takes his old hands and clasps the younger pair, and smiles.
We'll be just fine, laddie.
A short pause, a long thought. Then, an answer with a true, if tired, smile.
I think you may be right, friend.
Getting out of the barrels is surprisingly difficult. Being accepted by the humans was easier, though there are some who say their quest is a folly.
Thorin sits in front of the controlled fire, which he enjoys. Fire that is out of control brings memories buried in ash.
Ribs have healed, settled in their proper positions. His nephews are walking, waltzing throughout the town. His friends are at the ale house, telling stories. He sits alone, in the building, a warm-something in his lap, cupped in his hands. The wooden walls remind him briefly of Sister, with her walls made of not-stone.
He tries not to think of the elven king.
The dragon is near, a dark blot nearly eating what was once a bright horizon. He wonders if the hobbit will be able to do it, the job of a burglar. The Wizard has not been seen, not since the house of the bear-man, who was kind enough in his own right.
And Thorin worries.
Would they all be fine?
The reclamation of Erebor was quiet, at least, in the mountain. The dwarf prince - no, king - walks throughout the halls, memories crashing in his mind. He finds the old music room.
The harp is still there, still strung. Perhaps a bit out of tune, but that does not matter.
Scarred knuckles bend in nearly forgotten ways, sliding over the strings and coaxing a melody. Then it gets more complex, two hands weaving echoes of Moria, the first winter, the disease.
It takes him some time to notice the hobbit in the doorway. When he does notice, he does not care.
Tears slide down his face, as the king says We are home.
The hobbit smiles and nods.
And Thorin was fine.
Thorin wonders how it came to this.
He cradles the body of one of his nephews - first to come, first to go, some small part of his mind comments cruelly - as he shifts over to the body of the younger. Placing his hand on the caved in chest, he can recognize what mace did this. It's owner is now rotting with the other bodies, it's head lost.
And none of it mattered.
. . . proud of . . . us?
Thorin looked down in surprise, to see the eyes of the youngest, still innocent, still trusting.
His breathing hitched, blood crawling it's way up his throat. The youngest looks at him in concern, not for himself, but for the uncle he thought was invincible.
I am proud, little one. So proud.
Thorin drags himself over, pulling the body of his eldest behind him, as he placed his hands on the head of the younger. The boy was beyond the feeling of pain, now. He pulls up the younger, holds the older to his side, and cradles them. One alive, one dead.
He holds them, as he held them when they were younger, and tired, and had curled into his side and slept on the floor.
The youngest is breathing harder, now. Fainter, faint, gone.
Thorin drops into darkness, the hand that had been stroking the hair of the younger falling into the young dwarf's lap.
They were found like that, later, by the bear-man.
Thorin knows his time has come.
He has no regrets, he is getting what he deserves. He feels a brief moment of pity for Sister, who would feel loneliness that he had never known. He wonders if she will cry for him, he who took her life and placed it in the hands of orcs and dragons.
He hopes that she does not mourn him. He does not deserve it.
The hobbit is here, now. Thorin apologizes, again, wished he could beg for forgiveness because that is what he deserves. A spear in his side, however, keeps him from bowing. An arrow in his hand keeps him from clasping.
Then, of all things, the hobbit forgives him.
For a moment, Thorn wonders if, perhaps, he had been more like Bilbo, he may never have fallen to the dragon sickness, would have been more kind, more forgiving.
He does not realize that Bilbo is forgiving the dwarf who gave him a hug, welcomed him finally into their little group. Bilbo is forgiving the King who wept when he played the harp, for he had finally came home.
A few final words, next. Then Thorin falls into black.
He is aware of floating, perhaps.
His final breaths are light, as his chest looses the strength to rise, his heart the strength to beat. His last breath is faint, and those who heard it liken it to the fading note of a harp.
And so, Thorin passed to where there is no fire, and no cold.
Thorin wanders through the large hall, searching for his nephews, for he know that they must be here. He finds them talking to a dwarf with stone brown eyes, and laughter lines webbed across his face.
Thorin falls to his knees, gripping his shoulders, because he has to hold himself together, now. Brother laughs, softly, kneeling down to wrap his arms around his sibling. The nephews soon join in, saying We were wondering when you would get here, uncle!
They stay that way for some time, simply enjoying the company of kin known and kin met.
And, for perhaps the first time since Thorin had oatmeal in his hair and shaped metal with his hands, he was more than fine.
One might even say happy.
The dwarf woman stands in front of three tombs. She slowly walks over the the smaller two, and begins dusting.
She ignores the larger tomb, instead swiping at nonexistent dust at the smaller ones, dusting at the carvings on the lids. She is aware of the other dwarf, behind her, tattooed head bowed in sadness. She turns to him and smiles softly.
Help me with this, would you?
A choked nod, and he shuffles over. They dust the larger tomb, sleeves and cloth damp with tears.
Do . . . do you think he was happy?
The dwarf looks over, sees the fresh tears falling down her face. Striding over, the dwarf wrapped his large arms around her smaller form, holding her together as she shook and cried.
She never made a sound, a sob, a gasp. The Sister became aware of damp tears dripping on the top of her head, and without looking up, wrapped her arms around the large dwarf.
They stood together, and cried together, acknowledging that they were not fine, that it was likely that they would always feel empty and eaten at inside.
He is fine, they would both say.
More than fine, they would both answer.
And they were right.
This is the first thing that I have posted to this site. I hope you all enjoyed it. I had to retype a good portion of it, because I am technologically challenged and deleted a good portion of my work.
Gahh, it was hard to write the battle scene. I had to walk away for a bit.
Criticism is appreciated, as well as reviews. If you see something that needs fixed, do not hesitate to tell me.
Originally Posted: 10/27/2013