FILI

Kili and his older brother, Fili, were 'accidentally' keeping hidden. In other words, they were currently avoiding their mother and the resulting tongue lashing they were in for once she finally clapped eyes on them. Now, with their mother, who was a proficient tracker, especially when it came to them, having decades of experience, they would have normally been found within the hour, two tops. However, that was only if they had not figured out their mother's blind spot, and oddly enough, that blind spot was Dori's rustic tea shop.

For some reason that was beyond Kili and Fili's understanding, Dis refused outright to ever step foot within the building, even going as far as having Dori deliver her tea for her, with extra coin for the service of course. Dori seemed to understand the reason why, often leaving with a pouch full of tea leaves and a sad little smile, Kili and Fili only knew the results. They had a perfect hidey-hole in which to lay low in while the heat simmered from their latest misadventure. Who were they to turn their noses and snub such a prize?

Of course, they were technically banned from the very same tea shop, something about Dis not wanting them near a painting for some inexplicable reason, but did that stop them? You bet your best armour it didn't, not when the prize, a place unreachable, was at their fingertips. And so, after going on a hunt their mother specifically told them not to go on, the brothers had dashed for the tea shop upon entering Ered Luin again, spotting their irate mother storming the streets, fire in her eyes and a twitching hand that was just waiting to scuff them up the back of the heads and drag them home by the shells of their large ears.

Dori was out that day, him and Nori, for once the dwarf being home, having been called to answer to Thorin for some sort of scandal Nori had cooked up in the nearest man village. No doubt the hearing would take most of the day and night away, Nori blatantly prodding Thorin and Dori trying to make excuses for Nori. So that left little Ori to hold down the fort, and simultaneously be the target to the brother's jovial natures and well-meaning jibes.

Now Ori was a shy little thing, always hiding behind his scrolls, books and layers of wool, but when pushed just enough, or the reason hit a bit too close to home, he was as stubborn, as headstrong and bluntly foul-mouthed as any other dwarf out there. He also got incredibly red in the face, a sight that the brothers were trying to extract from him then. With Ori's shy nature, there were a milieu of topics to use to embarrass him, but for some curious reason, the brothers had landed on the topic of Ones and had ran with it, never really questioning if they should joke about such a serious topic… Or if they should have really joked about anything with their family's luck when it came to humour.

"Well, my One is going to be a redhead."

Kili scowled as he crossed his arms, rounding on Fili who was balancing precariously on his chairs back legs, arms folded behind his head as he used his foot to ground himself on the table. Well, it had started out as a conversation to rib Ori, but it had quickly devolved into an argument between the brothers.

"I really don't think we should be talking about Ones, let alone arguing over whose will be better than whos-"

Ori's stuttering attempt at cooling the brothers off was interrupted by Fili's chair slamming back onto the ground with a mighty thud, the blonde mimicking his brother, crossing his arms and eyeing the brunette up and down.

"Really? Well mine's going to be a warrior! No point in having a One, even a redhead, who can't even lift a dagger."

Kili's face turned sour as he pushed to a stand, bracing his hands on the table ledge, leaning over so his face was prodding into Fili's personal space. Fili could hear Ori muttering, trying to stop the escalating voices, but as it normally turned out, rising Kili's ire was more fun than it was to roll over, and as the oldest brother, he had the last word. That was sibling law… Or it should be. Still, watching Kili grow flustered and flounder for those brief moments when he spoke next almost made Fili's mask break and cause him to laugh.

"Yeah… Well… My One's going to have conquered death! Just like Durin the deathless!"

Fili knew exactly what to say next to push Kili over the edge, he always did.

"Well mine's going to have conquered death twice!"

Head shot. Kili huffed and puffed, pointing an accusing finger right under Fili's nose.

"You can't do that! You can't take what I say and simply add a number to it!"

Fili was about to tell Kili he could do what he liked when there was a series of loud bangs, metal against metal, forcing the two brothers to swivel to the source of the noise. Ori stood proudly on the serving counter, two bronze pans clasped tightly in each hand, obviously the culprit.

"Stop! Just stop! One's are precious! Rare! They're not something you bet over! You- you- you don't joke about them! If you keep up like this, then you're never going to find them!"

Fili caught Kili's side eyed gaze, a hint of a smirk pulling at the corners of both their lips as they re-united once more under the cause of riling Ori up and not each other. Kili braced his hands on his hips, broadly smiling as Fili kicked back onto the table.

"Find them? We won't have to do that, will we Fili?"

Fili, catching onto the line Kili was throwing out there, gave a non-committal shrug and a brazen smile. Every dwarf, no matter their mountain or their craft, all held three things dear and close to their hearts. Their Ones. Their children. And finally, their traditions. Children, even for Fili and Kili, were out of bounds in the taunting or joking arena, and so, that left tradition and even Ones it seemed.

"Aye Kili, we won't even have to court them."

Bang. Another head shot. Blood rushed to Ori's face, painting his skin a sickly sun burnt hue. He gaped and jabbered and heaved in heavy lungfuls of breath through his quivering nostrils. Ori didn't know they were only joking, prodding the bear as it were. Mahal forbid they actually treated their Ones the way they had spoken that day, not only would they personally shave their own beards for such despicable behaviour if they did follow through with the joke, bringing open shame to themselves and their family as tradition would dictate they do, their mother and uncle would have their heads on silver platters for such behaviour. Yet again, Ori did not know that, and the red face and spluttering was all too much fun to set the record straight.

"That's it! I'm getting your mother!"

Ori jumped off the table, storming for the front door. Knowing the jig was up, Fili being the one to always know when to quit when they were ahead, he shouted towards Ori's retreating back that they were only joking. However, the same could not be said for Kili, he always, unlike his brother, had to take that one step over the line.

"Our One will fall right into our lap! Right. Into. Our. Lap! And she'll only ever have eyes for us!"

Kili's sentence was punctuated by the slam of the front door, so harshly shut, Fili was surprised it had not come clean off its hinges. Wincing, Fili was too caught up with the oncoming storm that he overlooked Kili's subconscious slip of the singular use of lap, us and One.

"Ouch! Why did you do that?"

Kili rubbed the back of his head, sending Fili a half-hearted glare from the clap he received.

"Do you know what mother will think once Ori tells her what we've said? She's going to have our braids! Never mind that we're in the tea shop she's told us to stay away from!"

Kili's feet shuffled as a hint of pink embarrassment shone on the apple of his cheeks. His Adam's apple bobbed once, twice.

"It was only a joke, mother will know we don't really think that way…"

Of course Dis would know. But that wouldn't stop the tongue lashing they were about to receive. The fact of the matter was they couldn't keep doing this, especially Fili. He was the heir, Thorin's successor, it was time he started to behave like it. It was why he had dragged his brother out for that forbidden hunt that morn, one last hurrah before he began to take his duties seriously. Fili would admit, he would miss these days, and selfishly, he had wanted one last time to soak in the childish wonder and stress-free atmosphere before he tried to shoulder some of his uncle's burdens.

It was time, Thorin, who Fili saw grow more and more grim each day, strands of grey dusting his ebony hair way before his time, could not hold the weight of their people's troubles and worries by himself for much longer, and it was Fili's job to take some of those worry lines away from his uncle's face. Problem was, Thorin saw him as being too young, too inexperienced, too… Fili, to begin to take up the mantle and wearily, Fili realized today and it's happenings would only cement that in Thorin's mind. Still, he had promised himself and his brother one last day and tomorrow would be another story. Tomorrow and the days after, well, then he could set his uncle right.

"Yes Kili, but you know what mother is like when it comes to joking! Uncle Thorin too! You know what they say-"

"Never say something you don't mean, especially in humour. I know Fili… I know."

Fili was just about to open his mouth to tell Kili it would be best to head their mother straight on instead of hiding away like dwarflings, the berating would be less severe if they came to her instead of forcing her to come to them, when something behind them began to glow blue. Slowly, the brothers turned to face the wall just at their back. The painting that had been there since either could remember was sitting innocently on the wall, staring straight back at them… Glowing. Kili cocked his head.

"Well, you don't see that every day-"

Then the light exploded, something hitting both Kili and Fili solidly in the chest, sending them sailing across the room and into a couple of tables, knocking everything over as they sprawled across the floor. Once the skidding and the world spinning stopped, Fili raised himself up by his elbows, groaning as he looked over to Kili, who thankfully was right beside him and still conscious as he too struggled to sit up, rubbing at his eyes from the blinding light.

"Are you injured?"

Kili shook his head in the negative, going to sit up when he stalled, eyes going wide and trailing to his legs.

"There's something on my lap!"

Looking down to Kili's lap, Fili saw nothing. Huffing, not in the mood for more games after having the wind knocked right out of him, Fili too went to sit up and to tell his brother to stop it when something shifted in his own lap, heavy, solid… Invisible. Wearily, Fili's hand trailed to his lap, fingers extended, prodding, when they met something he couldn't see. There really was something there!

"Mahal… It's a severed leg!"

It took a moment for Fili to understand what Kili was rambling about when he took a gander and looked to his left side, spotting the leg his brother was frantically pointing at. It was only a foot and calf, clad in a weird white shoe with laces across the front, the leg in some sort of medium blue tough material. Only, the leg stopped, the remainder disappearing at an odd angle.

"It's not severed! If it was, there would be blood?"

Wouldn't there? Fili didn't rightly know. Then again, a painting had never shot light at him before, he had never had something invisible press down upon his lap and he had just taken quite a hit to his head, so perhaps he could be excused for his dazed ignorance. Yet, curiosity won out, his hand leaving his lap to prod at the leg, going to touch where it ended when something shuffled and ruffled under his fingertip, giving way to more leg. His hand snapped back to his chest, casting a wide-eyed look to his equally dazed brother. Kili, however, was not as weary as Fili and reached over to prod at the leg, grappling… Something between his broad, thick fingers, giving an almighty tug.

Whatever it was came free, and as Kili held it up, flipping a flap of material this way and that way, the brothers found a cloak. Only, when it was turned a certain way, it went invisible… Invisible! Fili looked down at his lap, seeing a small figure sprawled across them, face down. The cloak, it had been hiding them! Fili pulled his legs free, urging his brother to do the same and as they came to a crouch, Kili still eyeing up the strange cloak, he soon dropped the cloak when Fili managed to roll the figure onto their back, finally catching a glimpse of what had sent them flying across the room.

It wasn't a what… It was a she! She was clearly dwarven, with broad shoulders, large ears that peaked out of rambunctious fire red curls and her compact short stature. Yet, her fingers and wrists were thin, delicate looking, no hair, not even a scruff, trailed her cheeks or lip and her nose was weirdly thin and sloping, a splash of freckles sweeping over the ridge of it and snaking down underneath her closed eyes. Her hair was left without a single braid, the mass of it sweeping out around her like a halo, thick and long and vibrantly alive as it swirled and curled with a mind of its own.

Her brows were thick too, sharp and angled high on her forehead, a scar splitting one eyebrow in two, long and slicing as it touched the tip of her hairline, jaggedly making its way down and across, carving the eyebrow in two and slicing down her closed eye, touching base on the very tip of her cheekbone. It was a mean looking scar, silvery and thick, deep enough to look like she had nearly lost that eye. The shape too was strange, resembling what a human would call a lightening bolt, but to Fili, it looked like a Erebor Khuzdul rune for the letter S, as well as being the rune for symbolizing deep love, sacrifice and boundless protection. It was normally the chosen rune mothers would carve repeatedly on the cradle of a new born child, or the rune lovers would give before one left for an outmatched battle or war. However, he had never seen it carved upon someone's face before…

"Is she… Is she alive? Perhaps you should check?"

Fili blinked rapidly at his brother's question, giving him a sharp look before his gaze was pulled back to the darrowdam. She was young, that was a given, but how young? Fili couldn't tell, especially without a beard to base his guess on. Fili frowned, gaze drifting to her parted lips, full and slack and red… And suddenly, he remembered a gummy smile, chubby hands tugging on his whiskers, sparkling grey eyes and childish laughter that sounded like morning birds chirping their hellos. The red hair… Now he saw it. Lily, the few fuzzy good memories Fili had of the kind, warm woman, looked almost identical to the one splayed at his feet. Of course, Lily had been taller, less scarred and a little more delicate looking, meaning this one was…

"Get mother!"

Nori's daughter would be around twenty-one, twenty-two this year… As young as this Darrowdam looked. Fili went to pick her up, one arm bracing her legs and one sliding between the crux of neck and head, wincing when he felt something hot and sticky slide along his hand and forearm. Looking at his fingers, he saw blood and his eyes locked onto the table they had went crashing into, the corner smeared with blood too. Troll's hairy balls. She'd hit her head hard. Dwarven heads were hardy, thick and nearly unbreakable… When they reached a certain age, normally age forty. During childhood and teenagerhood, they were softer, thinner, making it easier for them to grow, a certain small spot at the very back of the head being the softest and taking the longest to harden. unfortunately, it was the spot that Harri had whacked against the table.

"And a healer! She's bleeding!"

Kili, however, was a bit behind him, still locked onto the realisation Fili had come to a while back.

"That's Harri! Mahal Fili, it's Harri!"

He didn't mean to snap, but with the blow to a soft spot and the blood… It didn't bode well, and they were up against time here. Wondering and questioning could come later.

"Mother and a healer! Now Kili!"

Fili went to gently pick her up, seeing from the corner of his eye as Kili resolutely nodded and dashed out the front door, Fili bringing up the rear at a slower pace. Their mother was going to have their braids indeed.


DORI

"I cannot, in good conscience, keep letting this slip by Nori, son of Ri…"

Dori winced at the formal naming of his brother, his brother who had just been caught pilfering the mayor's house in the nearest man village. Nori was not making the matter easy, either. Standing there with stubborn pride and sardonic hilarity written all over his face and body. In the short meeting Thorin had held with them and the head of the guards, Dwalin, Nori had been nothing but antagonistic, condescending and down right snarky, leaving very little room for Dori to sneak in and try and ease the tensions building, or to at least try and explain away his brother's behaviour as he found himself often doing.

But no, that would have been all too easy, and lately, when it came to matters of the family, nothing had been easy. Nori, always off and about, lurking in shady corners, doing things no respectable dwarf would lower themselves to do, leaving messes for Dori to clean up back home. Ori was still resolutely quiet. Always with his nose in a book, shy and withdrawn… Dori… He didn't know what to do any more.

Their mother and father had been long gone and sent back to the stone, where they belonged, and that left Dori as the head of Ri. He had tried his best, Mahal he had tried, but ever since Lily's and little Harri's dea… No, he would not breathe life to that rancid thought. In the last two decades… Yes, that was better wording, things had become even more tough then they already where. Of course, after the sacking, it had not been sunshine. They had never been rich, but back in the Lonely mountain they had been comfortable. And while they could not say the same for Ered Luin, they still had a roof over their heads, good food and each other… Only, they were all fracturing apart and Dori felt the last pieces of his broken family slipping through his straining fingers.

Nori was never home any longer, leaving Dori to wonder if he would ever see his brother again or if one of his shady dealings had gone south and he was dead in a ditch somewhere, alone, forgotten, banished from the stone and ancestors that awaited them all. Whereas Ori hardly left the tea shop, and while Dori was thankful for the extra pair of hands, the lad was young but old enough, he should be out and about, living freely without stress like others his age.

Perhaps this was his fault, if he had gone to Nori sooner after… After the loss, talked to him, put aside his own mourning and grief so he could focus better on the insurmountable pain Nori had obviously gone through, perhaps they wouldn't be standing here right now. But they were, and Dori could only stand closer to his little brother, something he had not done after their little family had first been shattered. Opening his mouth to try and talk their way out of this latest fiasco, the doors to the grand hall bounced open, a frazzled and wide-eyed Dis storming her way towards them. Thorin rose from his chair, greetings bubbling on the edges of his lips when Dis by-passed him and stopped in front of Dori and Nori.

"Nori, Dori, come. You're needed in the healing wards."

Dori frowned, seeing from the corner of his eye as Nori copied the motion. Why would they be needed in the healing wards? Unless… Nori beat him to it, expression growing tight when he rounded on Dis.

"Ori? What happened? Is he injured?"

"Excuse me sister, I'm holding court and-"

Dis shot a withering look back at Thorin from over her shoulder, a look that would cow any dwarf, as it did Thorin then, forcing the king to quieten and slide back into his seat with a reprimanded glint in his eye. No doubt, Thorin had not meant to seem callous, he was just asking what was happening in his own convoluted, roundabout way, without actually asking the words outright. Dis, however, seemed to be in no mood for any formal questioning. Dread sank Dori's gut… Ori, no… However, confusion took dreads place when Dis went to face them once more.

"Ori is safe and sound, fear not. Yes, he's at the healing wards, but It's only… Well, you will just have to come, you'll only believe me when you see… Mahal, I still can't and I saw her with my own two eyes."

Saw her? Nori, Dori and Ori had not many cousins, unlike many dwarves, and not any of the female persuasion as Dori could recollect, and he could name most of his lineage off the top of his head. However, Nori had jumped and latched onto that word, breathing a single name before he dashed from the hall.

"Lily…"

Dis tried to stop him but he was a nifty thing when he wanted to be, and it left Dori and Dis racing after the ginger flash. As the two made their way to the healing ward, following the dust trail Nori had left behind, Dori's mind was a mess, thoughts never fixating on one point, leaving him dizzy and mentally unseated. Could it be, after all this time? Had Lily really came back? What about the babe? Was she here too? When they made it to the ward, bypassing injured dwarves ranging from little scolds to missing limbs from crafts gone awry, Dori spotted Nori at one sectioned off bed at the very far end of the long and narrow hall. No other occupants were situated around the bed, meaning the healers, or at least Dis, had tried to give them as much privacy as possible.

On his way to his brother, who was stock still and looking like he had returned to stone, frozen at the edge of the drawn curtain with only a single side visible, eyes locked on whoever was taking up that bed, Dori passed Dis's young ones, Kili and Fili, who were milling around, anxious and quiet. He had no time to question their presence when he slid in next to Nori, finally getting a look at the bed, and subsequently its occupant.

Ori was sitting in the only free chair next to the bed, standing once he saw his brothers, for once scroll and bookless as he wrung his hands nervously in front of him. Yet, the smile, toothy, large and ever so bright that split his face in two could put the Arkenstone to shame.

"L-l-look! It's Harri! She came back!"

Dori could hear the jagged intake of breath his brother took, but Dori was faring no better, staring at the bed, lost for words and thoughts, his own heart thundering in his ears. She looked so much like Lily that it felt bittersweet to gaze at her, and yet, he saw his brother written all across her too. Lily's jaw had been sloping, thin boned and fragile, the darrowdam on the bed's was hardy, sharp, looking like it could take a good punch or two, just like Nori's, just like Dori's own if they were beardless. Her cheekbones were more pronounced than Lily's had been, she had the same natural up twist to the corners of her lips like Nori, giving her an instinctual look of cheekiness, and while she still had Lily's lithe form, most of the softness was gone, replaced by muscle hidden under silk. The very same thin but swift and compact structure Nori sported. An oddity when it came to their race.

Right then, right there, she looked ever so small, tiny, laid upon the healing cot, eyes closed and cheeks flushed, slumbering away with a bandage wrapped around her forehead. Dori's hand violently shook as he placed it upon his brothers back, pushing him forward and towards the bed with as much strength as he could muster, which in fact, wasn't a lot.

"Go."

Nori stumbled forward, lurching towards the bed, Dori shutting the curtain behind him before he turned to face Dis and her sons.

"When… How… What happened?"

Fili was the one to answer him.

"We were at your tea shop and she came out of the painting with a flash of light…"

The painting! If it was still in the tea shop, it could zap her back like it had with Lily all those years ago. They could lose her all over again and Dori was sure, this time, Nori wouldn't survive the loss. It had been a miracle he hadn't succumbed to the loss and darkness the first time. Mahal, Dori wasn't sure he could either. Before he could move, run back to the tea shop and try and destroy the painting that had given and yet taken so much from them, Dis's warm, amicable hand landed on his shoulder, stalling him, a sad smile shadowing her face.

"It's gone Dori. I checked. The painting, it's cracked in two, dull and grey, broken. It's over…"

Dori had trouble swallowing. It had originally disappeared before but had returned, but with the knowledge that it was laying in pieces, then it was truly over… And yet…

"Lily? Was… Did… Is she?"

It was jumbled, it was messy and it was all Dori could bring himself to utter. At Dis's sorrowful sigh, Dori's eyes clamped shut but her words still reached him.

"No… No she didn't come through and I don't think she will."

The rest was left unsaid, but still clear and hanging heavy between them. If Harri was here, alone, it meant one thing. Lily would have never left her daughter. If there was a way back, she wouldn't have sent Harri by herself. Lily was dead and even after all these years, the realisation burnt a hole in his chest. But Harri was here, right behind him… Injured.

"Why is Harri here? Is it… Is she?"

Thankfully, this time Dis's smile was true and honest, radiating warmth and joy.

"She came through the painting and took a rather nasty bump to the soft spot. Wait! It's not has bad as it seems. The healers assure me it looks worse than it really is. Apparently, for her age, her skull is already quite strong, and she only hit it hard enough to knock consciousness out of her along with needing a stitch or two. The healer says she'll wake up when she's ready and the worst thing she'll suffer from is a grating headache for a day."

Dori nodded as a broken chuckle of relief bubbled free from his chest. He didn't know what he would do if Harri had come back only too… No. That wasn't the case and he would not entertain such ideas. His hand, however, still shook as he rubbed it down his face harshly. He felt Dis push him towards the sectioned off bed.

"Go, be with your family. Mahal has blessed you, it is best not to waist such a precious gift."


NORI

Nori stared… And stared… And stared, idly listening to the conversation Dori was having beyond the curtain. It was the only thing he could bring himself to do. How many times had he dreamed of this moment? Too many to count, and yet, he was still just standing there. He felt suffocated, trapped, balancing on an edge that was quickly crumbling beneath his feet, leaving him free falling. He was sure if he took one more step forward, if he reached for her, then she would fade and once more, he would awaken in a run-down inn or his room back at the tea shop, alone, silenced, with salt misting his eyes as he strangled back the cries.

The loss of a child was a pain no one could describe, a pain you didn't wish upon your worst enemies, a pain that never healed or faded. Still, if he let himself believe this was reality, if he let that festering wound he had been carrying for years to begin to close and seal, and she faded away like every other time, in sight but always out of reach, he knew the wound would rip right back open, larger, gaping, swallowing him whole. Although, faced with even the tiniest of chances that she was here, his babe, his child, he found himself biting for the chance, even with the risk weighing over his head.

One step, two step, three step, four. He reached the side of her bed, by her hip, and slowly sat down, the grinding of the metal cot squeaking under his added weight. Those freckles were new, so was the scar slicing through one eye at an angle, the bandage around her forehead hiding the rest. In all his dreams, even knowing time had passed and if she had been alive, she would have been growing, he had always pictured her as she had left. Toothless, tiny, wrapped in blankets and safely cradled in his arms. Never once had he ever thought of what she would look like grown.

His hand quaked as it rose, freezing just before his fingertips could brush her cheek. What if he woke up? What if this really was another deprecated torture his mind was putting him through?... What if it wasn't? She was still so tiny, so young, he had missed much. First word. First steps. And yet, he had hardly missed anything. Her age, she was still a child in dwarven years and he had so much to see and say and teach and…

His fingers brushed soft, warm skin, skimming thick hair as his palm came to cradle her jaw. She didn't fade away. A raw, unfiltered, craggy weep shredded itself out of his throat as his other hand came to cradle the other side of her jaw, his eyes clamping shut tightly as he bent down and rested his forehead against her prone one. Long held back tears cascaded from his eyes, dropping from eyelashes to land on her cheekbones, giving the illusion that she too was crying.

When he felt Ori's hand on his back, fingers splayed and twitching, Nori pulled back, relinquishing one hand from Harri to bring Ori down and into a hug, sobs giving way to laughter, sending his thanks up to Aule for finally being heard.

"She's alive! She's here! Thank you… Thank you…"

Ori had never hugged him as hard as he did then. And that's how Dori found them when he slithered in. Nori with one hand cradling Harri's face, his other cradling Ori's neck as he held the boy to him in a hug. Nori had just pulled away from Ori to refocus on Harri when Dori spoke up behind him.

"Lily…"

Nori's hand drifted down to Harri's slack one, threading his fingers through hers, squeezing slightly, afraid if he loosened his grip, she would float away again. He knew what Dori was getting at, how could he not? Lily wasn't here, Harri was and Nori knew deep down, nothing but one thing could ever tear Lily away from their child. However, Nori couldn't bring himself to acknowledge it, to fully form the thought, let alone tarnish this moment with loss and pain when he was finally beginning to feel whole again. He just wanted to pretend, just for a little while longer.

"I know… I know. But Harri is here, alive, and that means a little part of Lily is too. That's all that matters. It's what Lily would want to matter."

His hand squeezed Harri's tighter, his thumb curling around to stroke across her lax knuckles when something rigid, misshapen and bumpy glided across his calloused pad. Frowning, he turned her hand to the side, eyeing the skin he had brushed. Blazoned across her hand was a scar, no, not just a scar. Lettering.

I must not tell lies.

His throat closed as his gaze flickered to her sleeping face, eyeing the partially hid scar. It too was deep, pale shimmer, inflicted years ago. Now that he was looking, he could see the same glimmer of tightly knitted skin on her bare forearm too, dots that lined a large mouth. Two larger than the rest… Fangs. A bite. Snake if he had a hazard a guess, and a large one at that. How? Lily would have never let… She was only twenty-one… He was spiralling, malforming just like those scars glaring years of pain at him. All questions and no answers.

There was a grumble, a huff of grim annoyance mixed with discomfort and all thought of scars, Lily and possible pasts fled his mind in a wind rush as Harri's eyes blinked open, wincing. She had his eyes. Dori's eyes. Ori's too. All silver clouds outlined in smoke. Only, she blinked, and blinked and blinked. He could hear her breath halter, splutter and then pick up as she became erratic, jerking her hand from his, scrambling up the bed and away in fear and confusion.

He didn't know what to say, had not expected this reaction, not so violent and turbulent. He reached for her as her hands came up to her eyes, rubbing and almost clawing at the skin as if she was trying to rip a blindfold off. When her fingers met nothing, she let out a hefty breath that sounded like it was half hysteric and half grief. He reached for her, trying to gently take her hands away from her face. Yet, when he touched her, she flinched, jolting away from him with a bout of surprise. She fell of the bed in a heap, rolling through the closed curtain, jostling away on shaky limbs, eyes wide and pale and frantic. There was a bang of metal on stone and Nori jumped off the bed, movement and thought finally flooding back into his blood.

He ignored Dori's cry of shock, Ori's panicky gaze as he yanked the curtain back open, freezing when he saw Harry on the floor, huddling and pushing herself into the stonework, the next door cot knocked over.

"Harri… Harri, it's me… You know me, don't you bunnanunê?"

She never met his gaze, but her head turned partially towards him, nostrils flared, mouth nothing but a grim line, blinking rapidly as her eyes began to water. Dori and Ori came to his side, but he held his hands out silently to stop their approach, shooting a look over his shoulder. Perhaps she was dazed, confused. The painting might of took her when she had not expected it. She stopped pushing herself into the wall then, hand reaching out, towards him he would guess, but her aim was slightly off. Her voice tremored, husky but weak and oh, so fearful.

"Nori?... Adad?…"

He came to her then, falling to his knees as he took a hold of her arm. Father. She had called him father… But the quick sweetness of such an omission was easily overridden. She sounded terrified, barely hanging on. Had the bump to her soft spot been worse than previously thought? She grappled for his arm, still refusing to meet his gaze, in fact, her face was looking in the completely wrong direction. Her fingers were tight, as if she was trying to anchor herself to him and thankfully, Mahal be praised, she didn't fight it this time when he pulled her to him, nestling her head into his chest. Her shoulders quaked as he ran a hand down her hair, minding the bandage, and he realized she was crying.

"It's me Harri. Shhh. It's okay. I'm here. I'm here. Aye, look at me, I'm here."

He cradled her head then and pulled her away just enough so she could look at him, and yet, still, she did not. Then, when she spoke, the world around him shattered into tiny shards of broken metal, jabbing into his skin and mind, tearing.

"I- I can't… Everything's black… I can't see… I can't see anything… I'm blind…"

The bump… This was no headache… It was a lot worse than they had thought. He tugged her to him once more, wrapping his arms around her, anchoring himself as much as she was to him. He nuzzled his face into her wild hair, cheek against head as he tried to keep his breathing even. Dear Mahal… No. It would be okay. She was here. She was okay. They were okay. Safe. Alive. Together.

"Shhhh. All is fine. I'm here."

He rocked them back and fourth, only looking over his shoulder to Dori once her shaking stopped and her own breath came in even tides.

"Get a healer. Now."

Dori nodded and dragged a quaking Ori with him and once the two had moved from view, he clocked who was behind them. Fili, Kili, Dis, but this, he knew, had nothing to do with Dis. His anger flared to life. Those damned Durin's and their words! When would they ever learn? Had his family not paid enough for their folly's? No more. He would not lose his child again because a Durin could not watch his own tongue. His teeth clenched so hard he was sure he had broken a tooth as he barbed his words.

"What. Did. You. Say."

The boys were pale, still. He could see Dis shaking her head in disbelief, muttering underneath her breath, asking the boys that they hadn't, not after all she had warned them of. Kili was the first to come to.

"It was a joke. It was only supposed to be a joke…"

Our One will fall right into our lap! Right. Into. Our. Lap! And she'll only ever have eyes for us!


NEXT CHAPTER PREVIEW:

"You see, that sounds like a load of shit to me. Your words don't have any special power. Your guilt, however, does. I'm blind because I took a rather big bump to the noggin, not because you made a joke a few minutes before I came spiraling in. Bad things happen, and you've all latched onto it being your words fault, your own fault. It's all self-fulfilling prophecy, and trust me on this one, those things never end well. I'm blind and the healer doesn't know if it will heal or if my sight will ever come back. So? I have my family now, something I've always wanted. Dreamed of. If being blind is the price I have to pay for that, then I would pay it a thousand times over."


QUICK NOTE ON THIS CHAPTER:

Can you really go blind from a bump to the head?

Blunt trauma, even trauma that seems little, can cause a cerebral contusion (brain bruise), where by definition there is some degree of bleeding into and swelling of the brain tissues. As a result of the trauma, it can easily cause a malfunction in that area of the brain. If it is the area of the brain that controls vision, it can easily cause blindness. This sort of injury could easily happen with a blow to the back of the head or can occur after a fall where the back of the head strikes a wall, the floor, stairs, or almost anything else. So yes, you can go blind if you hit your head in the right spot.

Harri's scars:

I got the information for Harri's scars from the Potter wiki, so take it with a line of salt, but I wanted them added so I'm waving creative license here!

Does Harri have grey eyes?

In this she does. You see, in the book, Harry looks the spitting image of his father, but has his mothers eyes. Since I gender-bent this story, I thought it would be pretty cool to swap that trait too. So, in this, she looks a lot like her mother, but has her fathers eyes. I hope this doesn't bother people too much, but I wanted to twist a few things and this is one of the things I couldn't leave well enough alone.

If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask! Engaging with my readers is one of the highlights of writing fics, at least, to me it is!


A HUGE, SMAUG SIZE THANK YOU to all of those who reviewed, followed and favourited! To be honest, this chapter was a bit of a bitch to get out (You don't want to know how many time's I've re-wrote this damned chapter), and I'm still not entirely happy with all of it, but I'm pretty happy with where it ended. Either way, I hope you all liked it!

As always, drop a review! and until next time, stay beautiful! ~AlwaysEatTheRude21