Translation of Khuzdul: Nadaduh - my brother. zyungl - lover (beloved). Ukrd - greatest heart. zyungel - love of love (greatest love).


Chapter 36 - A Broken Heart

Then (2799 T.A.)

"You cannot wish to go through with it. You will not be able to keep a clear head." Balin was pacing the length of the small tent, trying his utmost to make the younger dwarf in front of him see reason. But no. Stubborn he was. Stubborn like the rest of his family. He turned to the crown prince, studying maps of the valley. "Thorin, make him understand. He has to stay behind. I don't care what the king demands ... I..."

"The king would be displeased indeed, but," Thorin turned to face his mentor's mate, "your father will not be when he finds that you survived the battle. You are reckless, and for you to fight by Balin's side ... no, it is a bad idea. Nadaduh. Listen to us. If you do not wish to stay behind then at least take your place by Dwalin's side, as the king decreed. I believe he knows, if not the full extend of your bond, he is at least aware that you care for one another. And he knows how dangerous that can be. At least consider it, Frerin." But the younger dwarf simply shook his head, arms crossed over his chest. "I tried," Thorin murmured with a sigh.

"I don't see what all the fuss is about. It will be just another battle with them, nothing major. Tomorrow night we will be laughing at your worries." Frerin glanced from Balin to Thorin and then back again. "We have our allies with us, what could possibly go wrong?" He glanced at the map, and Balin could see those dark blue eyes wandering until they fell on... "Well, they could show up to stab us in the back of course. Again!" The older dwarf sighed and shook his head. Even Thorin wasn't so completely set against the elves ... who might become their neighbours if they succeeded in retaking the Mines. But Frerin... Seeing how Thranduil broke his vows of allegiance after Smaug's attack had turned the younger dwarven prince against all of the Firstborn, and even Balin's words could not change his lover's mind.

But the older dwarf had not given up yet. "zyungl, please. I will not be able to concentrate on anything if you fight near me. Always will I look out for you, and that could be dangerous in the heat of battle. You know this. Why won't you listen?" But the younger dwarf's expression turned sulky and it was obvious that he would not accept any arguments, no matter how reasonable. At times, Balin was reminded of just how young Frerin was and he felt that their bond was wrong. He had not yet reached his maturity, and already had he bound himself to the older dwarf. Not that Balin was as old as he looked. For some reason his hair had started to go grey just after he had turned eighty, but Frerin loved it. The way he always stroked both Balin's beard and hair were testament to that.

"It's no use, Balin. He's made up his mind. Maybe you could tie him to the bed or something? Or knock him out cold in the morning?" Thorin chuckled at the murderous look his brother shot him. "Well, I think we should all catch some sleep. I shall see you on the field of battle." And then the crown prince was gone.

"It will be fine, you'll see. I'm made of stronger stuff than those orcs." Strong arms came up around Balin, and he was pulled close enough for a kiss. "I will take care, I promise..." But the older dwarf had the terrible feeling that this would be a promise Frerin was not going to be able to keep.

---

Now (1 F.A.)

"There was a commotion on the battlefield, and Frerin fought his way to Balin. But there was no time. The orc had already nocked an arrow and my brother threw himself into its path. Balin was ... heartbroken is not strong enough a word. Bilbo, I thought he would lay down and die as well. His tears, they seemed endless and I never knew that it was possible to cry so hard and for so long." Thorin frowned then, and glanced up at his hobbit. "I know now that I was wrong. Balin told me how you grieved, more so than he ever did." He gently touched his hand to the hobbit's chest, feeling that strong heartbeat. "And believe me when I say that not one night passed between the day that I woke to the night when you were finally in my arms again that I did not cry with the agony of being torn from your side. I then knew Balin's pain; intimately."

They were sitting in front of the fireplace in their living quarters, Bilbo in the king's lap, the hobbit's hands gently stroking through Thorin's hair. The moment Bilbo had entered the room that evening, he had asked about Balin and while the dwarf had first tried to discourage his betrothed from his line of enquiry, eventually Thorin had caved. Revisiting those memories though had been heartbreaking for him as well. Frerin had been too young to be on the battlefield that day, and far too passionate to ever think of his own well-being. The only good that ever came of his brother's untimely death was that Thrin finally acknowledged his second son's feelings for his older mentor, and gave them his blessing. Too late.

"That night when you saved me, Bilbo... I saw him. I saw Frerin and I so feared that you would get yourself killed the way he did. And I so hoped that I was right about your motives for doing so. When I followed you into the dark at Beorn's, I was afraid that I was mistaken, afraid that you would run the moment you realised the depth of my feelings for you." The hobbit raised an eyebrow at Thorin and then shook his head. "I know it was foolish of me, and you have told me so on numerous occasions, but ...I had treated you so badly. But Bilbo, it was that night of fire that I finally understood how Frerin and Balin felt. I was not afraid for myself, but for you. When I saw you ... I saw Frerin taking that arrow for Balin and I ... I couldn't stand myself. You were so courageous and I ... I had only ever belittled you."

"I wasn't courageous at all. I was terrified. But I couldn't just let you die either. I knew that would regret it for the rest of my life. And I would have." Bilbo sighed. "You know that I would have gladly given my life for yours though, right? I still would." Grey eyes were sincere and earnest as they caught sapphire blue. "But to think that Balin spent most of his life missing his beloved... I never knew that our lives had been so similar. Only I got you back. And I'm never ever letting you go again. Why do you think Frerin did not leave the Halls? Even after he must have found out that Balin is now here..."

"My brother's hatred for the elves is strong. Stronger maybe than his conviction that Balin is truly here. There is no way for us to speak to those in our Maker's care, and so we can only hope that Aul will let him know at some point." Thorin frowned. "And I do not wish to hear you say that, no matter that it's true. I do not deserve it. Nor do I deserve you and your unwavering faith in me. I have hurt you and yet all you ever do is tell me you love me and that you will not leave. What did I do to..."

"You gave me your heart." Bilbo said this as if it explained everything. And maybe to the hobbit it did. "Let us speak of all the things I have done to you, ukrd, for I fear you are forgetting them and only ever remember what you did to hurt me." Thorin shook his head then, sighing. "You see? You don't have to thank me for loving you, or figure out why I do. Just like I am not forever second-guessing my own luck at winning the heart of the most wonderful, if a bit headstrong, dwarf in the whole of Arda and Aman. For that is what you are to me. And to know you are mine, it fills me with so much joy and happiness. And not a small amount of glee when I see those courtiers falling all over themselves so you may notice them. They will never know you the way I do."

Thorin laughed at that. "So you are enjoying those envious looks now? I remember a hobbit who was rather ashamed of the attention bestowed upon him when he first came to Erebor. A foolish halfling, who didn't seem to understand that he means the world to the King under the Mountain and that said king would do everything to make him happy." He kissed the tip of Bilbo's nose then, who chuckled in delight. "But you are right. No one else will ever be as close to me as you are; but then again, you bewitched me with your hobbit magic. I truly stood no chance."

Bilbo poked the king in the ribs, making him snort. "Hobbit magic, as if. Must be very weak magic considering how long you resisted the temptation. I thought I might have to resort to deploying the most horrible weapon of them all. Kli's eyes. No one can resist them." The hobbit giggled and Thorin pulled him closer yet, resting his chin upon that curly head. Bilbo fell silent after a while, and the dwarf was almost certain he had fallen asleep when he asked, "Do you think that is why Balin wished to return to Moria? Do you think he felt his end draw near and wanted to be close to Frerin?"

At times, Bilbo's insight still managed to surprise the dwarven king and this was one of those times. "You ... you might be right there, zyungel. He died in the very vale where battle was raging before. Maybe even ... there was a tomb erected for all the fallen, but another for those of royal blood. I ... I like to think of it that way at least." He swallowed. "Frerin was the only one to fall, the only member of Durin's line to lose his life. I would imagine that Balin spend a lot of his time there. And to fall there; I do not think anything else could have brought him more joy in death." He sighed, his breathing shaky with unshed tears. "I could wring Frerin's neck! So close and yet so far. I could see Balin's pain when he realised that my brother was not here, but at the time I shared that pain and... But now..."

"Now you no longer feel that pain," Bilbo said, somehow both sad for Balin, but happy for himself and Thorin at the same time. "I wish there was something we could do. Like walk up to the Halls and demand that Frerin stop being an idiot maybe?" The dwarf king chuckled at that. "I mean it. You know I would have done the same thing if you had been there still. Actually, that's not right. I would have torn down the gates with my own two hands and dragged you out of Mandos by your hair." The hobbit nodded to emphasise his words; as if that were necessary.

"And this is why I am the luckiest dwarf to ever exist. I don't believe anyone else has ever been loved so fiercely before." He pulled Bilbo closer and kissed one slender shoulder through the fabric of his betrothed's shirt. "I'm afraid, passionate as we are, we are twice as stubborn. It took a hobbit to tear down all the walls I had built around myself, something no dwarf in their right mind would have attempted. But you were resilient when I was glaring at you, and even when I spoke harshly to you. At least most of the time. My brave little hobbit. My beloved." Thorin sighed, "Though Balin loves Frerin, he would never do what you would have. He believes Frerin saw the error in his ways to fall for someone older and of Balin's station. It is my brother who will have to fight for our old mentor, for I promise you, Balin will never expect anything from him. I think he has come to terms with the fact that he will forever be alone."

"But that is unfair! Your brother is here, I am sure he is. And yes, there's elves all over the place, but ... Thorin I would live amongst goblins and worse if it meant I could be near you." There were tears in Bilbo's eyes, tears of anger at Frerin's stupidity the dwarf guessed. "How can he..."

"Hush, my love. I am sure my brother's dislike of the elves is not the only reason. There is also our mother, and I am sure he is with her. He will be loathe to leave her and I do not know that she will ever join us. Her death was... I believe gruesome is the only way to describe it. It is how my father lost his eye. They were travelling from the Iron Hills where they were visiting with our kin." He gently stroked Bilbo's back, glad to have the hobbit near as he recalled what had happened. "They were ambushed. By orcs coming down from the north. They ... they had torches, Bilbo. And they thought it was fun to set aflame the carriage my mother was travelling in. She couldn't get out. My father tried to save her. He tried. But it was too late..." Tears had begun falling from his eyes, and he hadn't noticed the hobbit turn to wipe them away, grey eyes mirroring Thorin's pain.

"I like to think that Frerin is with her now. And I hope that one day, she will be joining us as well. She ... she would love you. She was always concerned about the one I would chose as my mate. I remember her saying once that my mate would have to be strong as mithril to deal with me. And she was right. You are stronger than even the strongest of steel." He caught one of Bilbo's hands and kissed his palm. "It brings me peace to think she is no longer alone. But I think her being in the Halls is particularly hard on my father. She wasn't a dwarven princess, you see. She was the daughter of the foreman of the mines. My grandfather though, having known a loveless marriage himself, did not stand in their way. On the contrary. He wanted his son to know what he himself had not."

Suddenly a smile lit up Bilbo's face. "That is why they did not try to persuade you to not bind yourself to me. That's why they were so welcoming." Thorin nodded, once again reminded that his hobbit was smarter than a lot of his councilors. "I hope she will eventually join us for I would dearly love to meet her. And then she and my mother can stick their heads together and ... on second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea after all." He was giggling though, his eyes warm and loving. "And it would please your father, I am certain, to have his wife restored to his side."

"It is all he wishes for now, I can tell. He does not aspire to rule anyone. He never has. I think it was my father's and grandfather's intention for me to take the crown after... But that didn't happen. We lost Erebor and with that all plans were for naught. We both had to lead our people after the king's death, but I know that father longed for the end." He remembered Thrin walking their halls in Dunland and later the Blue Mountains like a ghost. He did not belong there, and he never felt at home. It fell to Thorin and Ds to make decisions of import while he lived in the past.

"You see, despite his love for my mother, he would never try to influence her. Coming here; it will be her decision and no one else's. Just like he decided to dwell in Valinor, she made the decision to remain with our Maker for the time being. Her wounds were grievous after all. And Frerin will stay by her side. So if and when she chooses to leave the safety of the Halls behind, he will hopefully follow. He ... it was very hard on him to lose her, and Ds, she was but a dwarfling when mother died. But Frerin ... I think he blamed father for it. Which is another reason why he might have chosen to stay behind. I remember though; she desperately wanted to go on the journey. She hadn't left the Mountain since Frerin's birth; unless you count her occasional excursions into Dale and Esgaroth. Father had been reluctant ... and he never forgave himself. Not even after reaching these shores."

"I believe there is hope yet. Both for your father and for Balin. I do not believe that Mahal would let any of his children lead only half a life for all eternity. Yavanna wouldn't allow it." He smirked before continuing, "And right now, one of her children is hoping to meet both his future mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Now, considering the fact that I'm here, within your arms once more, which is something I longed for with all my heart while you were ... gone, I would think that my prayers might once again be heard."

"Don't forget, my betrothed, that I, too, wished for nothing else. If you believe that there is a chance, then so shall I. Seeing my father and Balin, knowing their grief, it pains me. And I hope that one day soon, our prayers will come to fruition." He leaned down to kiss the side of Bilbo's neck, before breathing into that pointed hobbit ear. "Now, rumours are ripe within Erebor and I have to admit that I am curious as well. What were you doing with Balin? Other than speak of the past I mean." Bilbo blushed and the king vowed to find out just what was going on. After dealing with certain reactions that blush had almost instantly prompted.