Thank you very much to all of you who are following the story. I hope you like the new chapter and I can hear you in the reviews section.
Brine felt a burning sensation invade her body. She tried to get away from that uncomfortable feeling, but something was holding her back. At that moment, a voice whispered in her ear.
"Don't worry. I'm with you." It whispered sweetly to her. Brine drew out all her inner strength and managed to open her eyes to see a bright blast cross the dark sky. "Don't worry." It whispered that sweet voice again. Brine could not recognise that voice but decided to obey as she let herself be gently rocked.
Brine regained consciousness. This time there was something soft under her. Her hands caressed a softness that she had not noticed for months.
"Brine?" The sweet voice asked again and this time Brine was able to identify its owner. Fili was approaching her with a tray full of food and water. Brine saw another one just like it on the side of her head. "Brine." Fili sighed again as he released the tray and sat down next to her, taking her temperature with the back of his hand. "How do you feel?"
"I'm a little tired." She sighed as she dropped her head to the side. "I feel like the whole mountain has fallen on me."
"It's normal. Kili's wound was caused by a poisoned Orc arrow." Fili explained as he poured a glass of honey water for Brine. "The poison is able to find any little crack in the body to go into."
"That's why you insisted about not touch it." Brine closed her eyes as she smiled weakly. "But why did it affect me so much?"
"That's something I still don't understand," Fili replied by giving Brine the glass to take a sip. "The elf told me you can drink this whenever you want. He said it would help you recover."
"Legolas?" She asked as she drank and looked around nervously. She knew the boys did not get along and she did not feel up to an argument. "Where is he?" She was surprised not to see him there.
"In Valle. Thorin would never consent to have an elf here." Fili replied by looking away from her and getting up to leave.
"Here where?" Brine stood up as best she could.
"In Erebor," Fili replied without looking at her before leaving the room.
Brine managed to get out of bed at sunset. She left her room to find an empty hallway full of doors similar to hers. She assumed that these would be rooms where the dwarves would be housed. The silence of the hallway was interrupted by footsteps that were rapidly approaching her.
"Brine!" The figure of Zirb appeared running towards her. "I came as soon as I heard. How do you feel?" She looked very worried.
"I'm a little tired."
"Normal. You've been unconscious for five days. We didn't know what was happening. Thank God Fili found you in time and Legolas was able to help you." Zirb explained to Brine as she walked her down the aisle to the outside.
"How did we get to Erebor?" Brine was curious. Had it been that easy to get in and get the dragon out?
"Oh Brine. So much has happened." Zirb sighed as she saw the remains of Lake City. Brine was surprised. Everything was destroyed and an ash cloud floated around.
"What has happened, Zirb?" Brine was worried about all that had been lost. Zirb explained everything that had happened to Smaug, how it was Bard who killed him with an arrow.
"We now live in the town of Valle. At the foot of the mountain." Zirb concluded.
"Don't you live here with us?" asked an incredulous Brine. She hoped that once Thorin got his mountain back, he would invite her to live there with him so he could be near her.
"You can say I am not very welcome here," Zirb replied without further explanation. "Brine." She said after a silence. "Will you come home?" Brine looked at the horizon. It was all over. The mission was over. That was what she had promised: to help get Erebor back. She had succeeded.
"I guess." Brine responded incredulously. "It's so strange... I always knew this would end one day, but it came sooner than I expected." Thousands of feelings were beginning to grow in Brine. All directed at one particular person.
"I wish I could go with you." There was a certain melancholy in her voice.
"Come with me. I'll talk to my aunt and uncle and get them to take you back." Brine was hopeful that her plan would work.
"Brine. We both know what your aunt and uncle are like. We know they won't let me come back." Zirb answered somewhat tired.
"I wish I could help you." Brine was saddened and remained silent for a few moments. "I promise that when I get married, I will come and find you. We will be together again."
Brine walked with Balin through the corridors of Erebor. He had kindly offered to show her around Erebor as soon as she had fully recovered. The little man walked through different rooms explaining the different activities that used to take place.
"It saddens me that you will not have time to see it as it used to be," Balin commented. Brine had announced her departure the same night she woke up and waited until she was fully recovered to go home. Kili had offered to accompany her, but his health was still weak and he could not bear the journey to the Blue Mountains. In his place, Bofur and Bombur would go to make sure she arrived safely. "But I assure you that tonight's banquet will be worthy of an Erebor banquet." Balin smiled as he continued to walk. Brine smiled politely and continued to listen to all the stories of the old dwarf, as well as the story of how they had managed to drive the dragon off the mountain. Inside, Brine knew she would miss those conversations.
The walk stopped earlier than expected. Thorin required Balin's presence in the throne room. Brine assured him that she would not move from the site until he returned. She found herself in a large ballroom with enough space for hundreds of couples to dance without bumping into one another. Brine imagined what it would be like to attend a dance in that place. She bowed her head as if someone were standing before her and offering her hand to dance. Brine pretended to take it and began to walk around the room. Someone's throat clearing took her out of her thoughts. Ashamed, she turned quickly to her new companion.
"Excuse me. I didn't mean to interrupt." Kili smiled a few steps behind Brine. It made her blush even more.
"I'm waiting for Balin to continue seeing the mountain before I leave." Brine replied without looking into his eyes.
"I understand." Kili murmured as he came a little closer to her. "I wanted to thank you for your help with my leg. It's much better."
"I didn't do anything, Kili. I just made the situation worse. At least you're getting rid of me for good." She smiled sadly.
"I don't want to get rid of you, Brine," Kili answered even closer.
"Kili, I've been more of a hindrance than a help. I don't know where I got the idea to join you, but I should have stayed home." Brine dropped against a column while trying to control her nerves. Kili approached her and took her hands delicately, pulling her towards the dance floor. "Kili?"
"I wish I could do it with music and other guests." He said as he moved to a rhythm that only sounded in his head. Brine smiled, thanking him for the gesture. Kili leaned over to her. Brine began to feel uncomfortable and gently walked away. Kili's eyes turned to something behind them. Brine tried to turn around, but she could not see what had caught his eyes. "Promise me you'll come to see us again." He said as he walked away from her. Kili leaned over to kiss her hand. "Be nice to him." He mumbled before he left.
Brine followed Kili with her eyes before turning to the thing that had made him leave and to whom she should be kind. Fili was watching her with an uncomfortable look. He had changed his old clothes for new ones. They were in shades of blue that highlighted the blond in his beard and hair. Brine did not know what to say to him. She had not seen him since the day she woke up. She had waited for him to come and pay her a visit but it seemed as if he was avoiding her. But what was he going to do but after the way they ended up last time? Brine could not help but notice him. She felt stupid for letting her inexperience lead her to reject Fili. Should she be the one to take the first step this time? But how could she? She was inexperienced, she would surely end up breaking his nose or worse, Fili would reject her.
"I'm sorry if I have interrupted you." Fili apologized when he saw how Brine would not open her mouth.
"It's nothing. We were just saying goodbye." Brine replied quickly. "Kili would have liked to show me one of your dances here, but I don't have that much time."
"That's true," Fili commented more for himself than for her. "I guess you'll be going home soon." Brine looked at him in disbelief. Did not he know that this would be her last night?
"Tomorrow I'll leave at dawn. The road is long and the sooner I get out, the better." Then she could get away from Fili as soon as possible and avoid doing more stupid things. Fili looked at her with a smile but sad eyes.
"I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you the other night." He apologized by approaching her.
"And I'm sorry I didn't listen to you." Brine kept a safe distance between Fili and her. "But I assumed you were upset and angry with me because of what happened between us and..."
"I was." Fili cut it off but there was no anger in his tone of voice. "I thought something important had grown between us. But when I saw your necklace... When I saw your necklace I realized that my place was not next to a princess like you. I know that we dwarves have hurt you a lot. An injury that will hardly be healed during the months we've spent together. As much as I would have loved to ask you. Even if I had given what I love most to have you stay, I couldn't be selfish. And that made me angry." Brine was paralyzed listening to Fili's speech. It was the first time anyone had ever been so open to her. "I never wanted to see you again. In fact, I still don't want to see you. It kills me to be in the same room as you. And all because I know I can't ask you to. I can't make you do something you don't want to do." Brine felt the agony and frustration of Fili's words.
"Ask me what, Fili?" Brine was afraid of the answer he was going to give her. But it was not a terrifying fear. No. Fili looked at her and turned that sweet smile accompanied by the sad look with which he had started the conversation.
"Stay with me," Fili replied. Brine felt her legs fail her but made an effort to stay on her feet. She had to tell Fili the truth. She had to tell him she shared the same desire. She walked slowly towards him holding him by the elbows while her gaze intertwined with Fili's in the hope that he could read her thoughts.
"Sorry I'm late, kiddo." Balin's voice interrupted the young couple who were abruptly separated. Fili turned his back on them as he tried to recover from his conversation with Brine. "Oh, Fili. I thought you were in training."
"Excuse me. I was on my way back to my room and found Brine here alone." Fili replied as he controlled his breathing.
"Nonsense. I asked her nicely to wait as I was about to talk to your uncle." Balin ended up at the level of the young. "Since you're here, would you like to join us? I'm sure it won't hurt you to know the history of your future kingdom." Balin laughed as he waited for Fili's answer. Brine looked at him as she nodded, but seeing Fili's indecision, she decided to intervene.
"I'm sure he'll be delighted. His training is over now, isn't it?"
"Of course it is," Balin replied as he pushed Fili forward and forced him to walk. "Try to be careful." Fili and Brine exchanged complicit glances. Glances they had not shared in a long time.
They walked together listening to Balin's stories and historical facts he insisted Fili should remember. From time to time Fili would quietly point out the odd comment to Balin's stories. Brine could not help but laugh sometimes. Although things were not as she would have liked, she would at least leave Erebor with Fili as a friend. And the sweet feeling of having felt something for someone would always remain in her memory.
When the visit was over, dinner was prepared and served, waiting for Brine, Fili and Balin to start. Brine looked around the room and was surprised not to see Zirb. She must not have hidden her disappointed look because Fili was quick to ask her.
"I just... I was hoping to see more people." Brine replied. She did not know why Zirb had strayed so far from the company.
"Thorin will never admit that an elf enters Erebor. I've told you. Not after what they did in the past." Fili explained.
"But he has let a half elf in." Brine replied quickly as she sat next to him in the vacant seats that had been left.
"Because he knew I wouldn't let go of you as long as you weren't well." Brine looked at Fili with disbelief. She could not believe that he had really done that for her.
"I didn't know." Brine confessed without looking away from him.
"It's the second time I've been awake for days because of you," Fili responded with a slight blush. "Don't get used to it." He went on and winked at her. Brine paused in spite of the sweet detail Fili had had with her, wondering if her future husband would become like him.
"Thank you." She replied as she continued to eat and turn her head. "Fili." Brine called the dwarf who was in a battle-technique conversation with Dwalin. It did not take long for Fili to cut off the conversation to attend to Brine. "Where's Zirb?"
"Thorin doesn't think it's right to invite her," Fili replied in a low tone so that no one would interfere with the conversation. "He says he can't put his honour in that situation."
"Don't you know? Thorin has been in love with her for some time." Brine choked on the sip of wine in her mouth.
"Did they know each other before?" she asked in alarm.
"Of course they have. Zirb would have been a 14-year-old girl when Thorin saw her when he was living as a blacksmith and travelling all over the territory arranging his things. Although she was still young, her beauty was beginning to stand out."
"So why didn't he come back for her?"
"He did, but he didn't know what to say to her. He didn't even know if she would remember him. When he saw her in the ruins of the farmer's house, a single glance confirmed that her memories were still intact. Thorin wanted to offer her a kingdom, wanted to offer her a life of pride. But when he saw her again in Lago and saw how her attention was focused on the smuggler..."
"But it was a mutual interest to survive. There was no romantic interest." Brine replied quickly. She could not believe her ears. She had sensed it and suspected it, but now Fili had confirmed the whole story. "That's why Zirb is with the attitude he has, Fili. She's in love with Thorin and in pain at the same time."
"Are you sure?" Fili was also surprised to hear Brine's revelation.
"Of course I am!" Brine moved restlessly in her chair. "Fili, you have to help me get them back together so they can clear up their situation."
"Brine, I'm not sure we should interfere."
"Don't you want them to be together?" asked Brine, a little disappointed.
"It's not that," Fili replied by plunging his blue eyes into her green. "These are my things. Of course, I'll help you." He ended up accepting the dwarf's plan as he listened carefully to Brine's plan. "But what about your trip?"
"I can delay it a little longer. I'll find a way." Brine replied with a smile and a wink to Fili. After all, Zirb had done so much for her, she deserved to be happy with the man she loved.