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It wasn't very surprising how everyone underestimated him.

Well... It sorta was, but at the same time, expected.

Considering who his older brothers are, you'd think people would expect more from him than they actually did.

Dori, who shouldered the task of raising two young dwarflings when he wasn't even of age yet.
Dori, who for all his hugs and his mothering was tougher then any member of the guard and could pack a punch that had suitors swarming for his affections.
Dori, who gave up many chances for happiness in order to insure the happiness of his two , who scrimped and saved. Taking any odd job he could since he was underage and a mother's son in order to make sure me and Nori were fed, even if it meant that Dori went without in the end.
Dori, who almost turned down the opportunity to become an apprentice since it meant he'd have to leave us alone for most of the day.

And then there was Nori, who despite his aloofness and shadowy ways, did indeed give a damn about his family, no matter how much he tried to deny it. Nori who always pushed me away when I'd tried to hug him, even though I could see how much it hurt him inside.

Nori took care of me and Dori, in his own way. He never led the guard back to the house whenever he was in trouble, never asked for bail money or for us to hide him away.

He'd leave money sometimes, just laying on the table or hidden in the back of the mailbox. Dori never liked the money Nori gave us. I'd always wondered why he wouldn't use it when we so desperately needed the coin, especially since it was clear the Nori was willing to go to jail and to stay away from us if it meant that he would be able to keep us fed and clothed.

I could always see how much Dori loved Nori though, despite his grumblings. The same goes for Nori, who despite his disappearing acts, always made sure he came home and let us know he was still alive.

Even with brothers like mine, filled with contradictions, you'd think I would be held with more regard.

It was sorta nice when I was asked if I wanted to join Thorin's Company. Nobody asked my brothers first and then asked if I wanted to tag along.

No. They asked me and then it was my brothers turn to beg for a chance to come along as well.

To protect me, they cried. Well... How am I supposed to grow up if they never give me a chance?

Besides, what were they really protecting me from? It would probably be safer outside of the mountain than inside! It wasn't like we lived in the best part of the mountain. We were stuck in the deep, dark places where nobody else dwelt except for those who were like us, poor and unwanted.

Who would accept a mother's son, never mind three! Who each had a different father, mind you!

The fact I was asked along on the journey was shocking. I was asked to act as a scribe and record the journey. Can you imagine my shock? I knew my letters, yes, and I delighted in the time I'd spent in the library pouring over old books and articles. But to ask me to be the record keeper when there were so many more worthy?

I accepted immediately, not bothering to question much other than asking where to sign my name. I was willing to do anything to get out of the slums of the mountain, to get away from the gangs and the violence, even if it meant embarrassing myself around a bunch of upper-class ninnies who didn't want to record their journey themselves.

xXx

 

We were the most unprepared of everyone. That is, until we met our Burglar.

Dori and Nori equipped themselves with hand-me-downs their respective fathers had left behind before ditching our mother while I was left with a slingshot that Nori had made me a few years back.

None of us really wore any armor, Dori and Nori both had a pair of vambraces, and Nori slipped me one of his daggers when Dori wasn't looking. But still...

I felt a tad bit better once I met the Ur brothers, since looking at Bombur and Bofur, it seemed like there was at least another family somewhat on par with my own.

Bofur had just his mattock and some knitted gloves like my own, and Bombur. Well, he was Bombur. Jolly and round. I knew not to underestimate either of them though. They were poor, but not as poor as were were. And Bombur had had the luck to find a wife, so obviously he must have some great talent or skill that allowed him an invitation to join the company.

Still, in comparison to the splendor of Mister Dwalin and Mister Thorin and his nephews, I felt very small.

I almost questioned Master Balin about why he chose to invite me along. I knew that Balin was a skilled scholar, he'd surely do a better job than I would.

I felt very unsure. Even after entering Master Baggins' home, I still felt unsure. Dori was babying me while pandering to Gandalf's whims, Nori was off stealing spoons or something from our poor host, and everyone else was just causing chaos.

I couldn't stop myself from speaking up. I still have no clue what I said. All I know is that I stood up, words came out of my mouth and then Dori was pulling me back down into my seat with a series of harsh whispers and some braid tugging.

I flushed and tried not to let my embarrassment distract me from the conversation that was occurring at the table.

All too soon, the little Hobbit toppled right over due to Bofur's prodding about the dragon and the rest of us were left mulling around the little hobbit hole, not quite sure what to do.

I moved to the study and started thumbing through Bilbo's collection of maps and books that were scattered throughout the room, mindful to try not and disturb them too much.

All too soon, I was torn away from the comfort of the pages into the living room where Dori pushed me onto one of the little couches.

I gripped the cheap little notebook I brought with me to my chest and watched as everyone else, minus Gandalf and the hobbit, filtered into the room.

I tried not to squeak as Dwalin took a seat in the chair beside me, the wood groaned softly under his weight. My eyes darted nervously to look at his face before returning my gaze back to the fireplace to watch Thorin.

It was easier to focus on Thorin and his kin than on the dwarf beside me. The dwarf who never failed to cause my face to flush whenever I chanced a look at him.

I knew my crush was a hopeless endeavor. He was captain of the guard in Ered Luin and Thorin's personal guard outside the mountain. What interest would he have in someone like me? A former gang member in the pits of the mountain who was pretending to be a scribe because the King asked him.

What a joke. And that was exactly why I never gave myself more than a second to look at him. Because more than a second would mean that I'd give myself hope.

I was relieved when we all started singing since Dwalin stood up and left his spot beside me. I was glad that the song was one of mourning since it could excuse the dampness in my eyes as the night grew late.

xXx

 

As our journey wore on, I was no closer to proving myself as contrary as Dori or Nori. I was no great fighter as seen during our run from the wargs nor was I terribly clever since it was Bilbo who had to figure out how to save us from the trolls.

I wasn't strong like Dori or cunning like Nori. I was just holding everyone back. I was getting to be more useless then Bilbo. At least he was learning and improving himself while I was still the weakling from the slums.

Even after entering Rivendell, I was still pushed into the interior of the protective circle along with Bilbo. It would have been one thing if it had been Dori who pushed me, but it was Dwalin of all people.

It was embarrassing to know that he considered me too weak to pose a threat against the elves. It certainly didn't help how my face flushed red at the brief contact.

It only got worse the longer we stayed in Rivendell. Lord Elrond noticed my fascination with his library and had some instructors start teaching me elvish. Then I had to bare with the teasing and the dark looks from the rest of the company, minus Bilbo who was in just as much awe of the Elven city as I was.

I almost stayed behind in Rivendell. Lord Elrond offered me a place to stay, to continue my studies and learn how to become a full scholar.

I turned him down, not only because of the disappointment I knew would come if Dori found out, but because I wanted the gold that would come if we were successful. The gold that could be used to help out my friends who were still back in the slums, scraping by. My friends who were so talented and kind but couldn't afford the cost for an apprenticeship or just didn't have the prestige required for a cheaper apprenticeship.

And so, I continued on the journey unhappily, but I wasn't alone. Bilbo shared in my longing to return to the beautiful city, although for different reasons.

Of course, Dori's continual prodding combined with Nori's whispered encouragements certainly helped egg me onwards.

A few gruff words from Dwalin directed to me may have swayed my decision as well.

 

xXx

 

The Misty Mountains made me wish I'd suffered through the ridicule of staying in Rivendell.

First the whole thing with the stone giants where I got stuck on the knee of the giant that went soaring into the mountainside. Though, it was sorta nice just because I got to have Dwalin's arm around me as he tried to keep me safe. Though, he'd been watching me pretty closely even since we started on the little track through the mountains; helping me whenever I slipped on the wet rock or needed a hand up.

Of course, I wasn't very pleased by my near death experience, but it just got worse when I realized that Bilbo wasn't with us on the little landing.

I nearly launched myself over the edge in an attempt to grab his hand, and probably would have gone over the edge if not for someone grasping my ankle and yanking me back.

Everything was a blur after that. That is, until we went plunging down into the depths of the mountain, into the horrid place called Goblin Town.

I still shudder to think of that place. How close we came to being killed. How we almost lost our entire company to one mistake. Or I suppose it was more of a series of mistakes, but either way.

There are no words to describe how terrified I was when the goblins pushed me forward. I wasn't the youngest, though I knew I probably looked like it. I was underfed, I'd been underfed since the start of the journey. Compared to Fili and Kili, I looked like lad who hadn't even reached my coming of age.

Still, I didn't fight or argue that I was third youngest! Thank you very much! I knew my duty to my King and his heirs. It was better than I was punished first than them.

Next thing I knew, the goblins were pulled off of me and I was sheltered from the Goblin King's view by a burly arm. Dwalin's.

I curled into myself, trying to make myself smaller as I sidled a bit further behind the tall dwarf, grasping the edge of his tunic lightly with my fingers.

There was a flash of light and then something heavy was being pressed into my arms.

I blinked and looked up into Dwalin's face.

"We've got work to do, lad."

I barely had time to nod before he was off, bashing in the faces of goblins with Grasper and Keeper.

I took a moment to take in my surroundings before going to work with the war hammer that had been so hastily pressed into my hands.

I don't know where I suddenly got the strength to wield the heavy hammer, I guess Dori must have rubbed off on me, but I was smashing the head into goblins left and right while running after the others.

There was no better feeling than the look and the clasp on the back I got from Dwalin after we exited the mountain and regrouped a little ways away.

I awkwardly passed back the bloodied war hammer and shuffled away from the warrior, hoping that I hadn't made too big a fool of myself.

All too soon, we were running again and scrambling up trees.

The only nice thing about the whole situation was the fact that once we started throwing flaming pinecones, I became the expert due to my slingshot and my excellent aim.

The following near death experience I could have done without. I'd never imagined that I'd be dangling from Dori's ankle as he dangled from a toppled tree gripping onto a wizard's staff.

I thought I'd be a splatter on the ground when Dori slipped. The soft feathers under my fingers were a welcome feeling.

The morning just got better when Thorin hugged Bilbo on top the Carrock.

 

xXx

 

I loved being at Beorn's house. There was so much to draw and write about. The amount of poems I wrote there rivaled what I'd done while in Rivendell. Plus, it was just nice because now we were an actual company, not a mix-mash of dwarves and a hobbit and wizard.

All too soon, we had to move onto the gloom of the Mirkwood forest.

I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all.

It just felt wrong. Everyone was angry and arguing all the time or else they were hallucinating. Of course, I write this and it seems as though I wasn't effected. I most surely was, just like everyone else.

As if the hunger and the sickness wasn't enough, then there was the spider attack.

Even after Bilbo cut us loose and we all ran from the nest, things just keep getting worse.

Elves. And not the nice kind like we'd met in Rivendell.

These elves didn't offer us rooms or a meal. Nope. Straight to the dungeons while Thorin was dragged away to speak with the king.

It was dark. I couldn't hear anyone. I was alone in my damp little cell. I missed my brothers. I would have even suffered through my embarrassment around Dwalin if it meant I wouldn't be alone.

It was wonderful to see Bilbo whenever he chanced a visit.

Still, I could feel my sanity slipping away with whatever weight I'd managed to put on over the course of the journey.

The barrel ride. Geeze. That was quite the experience. Of course, I was unlucky enough to be crammed in a barrel that had a few leaks and practically no straw for cushioning.

I was more than a little bruised and waterlogged by the time someone hauled my barrel ashore and pulled me out of it.

I felt like a drowned cat and Dwalin was nice enough to drag me out of water as he practically tossed me onto the shore.

An arrow was pointed at me. I was just sitting on a rock, pouring riverwater out of my shoes and wringing out my socks and now this human was pointing his bow at me.

My shock was amplified when Dwalin stepped in front of me protectively, wielding, of all things, a rather large stick.

All too soon, I was being ushered onto the barge under the careful watch of Dori and Nori.

I tried not to be too obvious as I watched Dwalin from the corner of my eye.

He stood with his arms crossed, looking none too pleased as he leaned against the railing near Balin.

The older dwarf was speaking to Dwalin, but I couldn't hear from where I was situated.

Bilbo tottered over and started a lesson with me on Hobbit literature in order to pass the time.

It really was quite fascinating. In the beginning, I'd thought it was going to be all about plants or growing. But it wasn't. Love, hope, despair, sorrow.

Simple enough themes, but surprisingly complex for such sheltered people.

xXx

 

Laketown was rather dreary. Nothing like the tales I'd been told of the wealthy city of old.

It was nice though to finally sleep in a real bed and to eat warm food.

Even if it meant that we had to sneak around in the night attempting to steal real weapons from the armory.

It was even nice to share a bed, crammed inbetween Nori and Dori, even though it meant that I looked like a dwarfling who still needed to be taken care of.

It was difficult, trying not to ogle Dwalin. There wasn't much to do until Thorin decided we were to leave, so all of us were crammed inside the Master's house biding our time.

Seeing him continually sharpen his new axes from the armory, watch as he did one-armed pushups and as he tussled with Fili and Kili.

And all I could do was peer over the edge of my journal and pretend to be lost in thought so I wouldn't be caught staring.

It really was heartbreaking when Fili and Kili got left behind with Bofur and Oin, but Thorin made us push onwards, despite all the hesitant looks.

xXx

It only got worse once we entered the mountain.

First Thorin tired to abandon Bilbo to the dragon once we realized that something went wrong. Then he got entranced by the gold and dragged the remaining company into the treasury to search for the Arkenstone.

Bilbo clearly was uncomfortable and didn't aid with the search. I didn't blame him. Whenever possible, I slipped away to one of the many libraries and poured over the dusty tomes, trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible before things got truly bad.

It wasn't just Thorin who was affected by the gold. Most of the others were as well. Dori and Nori were busy grabbing what gold they could and stuffing it into their pockets. Years of poverty clearly getting the best of my brothers. Balin was just distraught. Gloin and Oin along with most of the others were dutifully following orders and searching the piles of gems.

And Dwalin. Well... He was by Thorin's side, as always.

When the day came when Thorin held Bilbo over the gate, ready to drop him onto the rocks below, I fled.

Deep into the library, into a corner where I hadn't yet dared to go in fear of what may be hiding in the shadows and cobwebs.

I lost myself in the books, trying to hide myself from the death that was soon to be on our doorstep because of our selfishness. Our broken promises.

It was there in my dark corner that Dwalin found me.

I looked up in shock and shakily stood, clutching a book to my chest.

He looked tired. Defeated.

We shared a look before Dwalin waved a hand at me, telling me to sit back down.

I slowly returned to my spot on the cold floor and ran my gloved hands over the cover of the book, looking at Dwalin anxiously.

Languidly, Dwalin moved and sat down beside me, leaning his head back with a deep sigh.

After a few tense minutes, I turned my gaze from his face to my hands, fiddling with a loose thread on my gloves.

"Thorin sent me away."

I looked back at Dwalin in shock.

"He no longer recognizes me. Not as a friend or as someone who cares about him."

I nodded hesitantly, not quite sure what the appropriate response.

Dwalin sighed again.

"What are you going to do, Master Dwalin?" I questioned quietly.

He ran a hand over his bald head, "Wait, I suppose. Pray that he comes to his senses."

There was a pause.

"You should probably leave, lad. Go back to Ered Luin while you still have a chance. You don't deserve to die here."

I blinked before shaking my head vehemently. "Go back to poverty, to begging and scraping in order to make ends meet?! This journey is my one chance to mean something. To be more than the son of a whore. It's my chance to get enough money for a real apprenticeship, to take the burden off of Dori, to let Nori stop stealing. There is no life for me in Ered Luin."

Dwalin leaned over and put an arm around my shoulder, pulling me into his side.

"I can't change your mind it seems... Stay close to me then. I'll keep you safe. You can even use my hammer again."

I blushed and nodded slightly, curling into Dwalin's side.

It was probably my only opportunity to do it, so I fully planned to take advantage.

I carefully leaned my head on his chest, listening to the steady thrum of his heart as one of my hands reached up to tangle my fingers in his shirt.

Next thing I knew, Dwalin was pulling me closer with the arm he had wrapped around me. I could feel my hair ruffle with each breath he took.

I didn't dare hope that a lowly dwarf like me from the slums had somehow won over this great warrior. It was probably him taking comfort in the one person he had available.

We sat like that for a few hours, watching the shadows move across the shelves and relishing in the company of one another.

I could almost pretend that he was mine.

 

xXx

 

We lost Thorin, Fili and Kili. Bilbo left to return to the Shire. Dain was now king.

I knew I should be happy on some level. I had more gold than I knew what to do with. I could officially start an apprenticeship as a scribe. I was now known as one of the 14 of Thorin's Company.

I no longer had a hovel in the slums in the deep dark places of the mountain, but a set of rooms that I shared with Dori and Nori higher up in the mountain, just a few floors below the Royal Suites.

It was bittersweet. I'd lost my friends in exchange for fulfilling my dreams.

Dori opened up a shop and became headmaster of the Weavers Guild. Nori found a good use for all his skills as a thief and became the Spymaster for King Dain

And me? I was put in charge of the library as the head librarian despite my lack of training and qualifications.

You may be wondering, what happened between me and Dwalin?

Well... A few months after the battle, he asked for permission to start courting me.

It came as a huge surprise. I'd spent the few months dreaming about that brief afternoon I'd spent cuddled with the large warrior, but I'd always passed it off as a once in a lifetime thing. Never to happen ever again.

But apparently I'd won Dwalin over. I may not be strong and kindhearted like Dori or clever and swift like Nori, but according to Dwalin I am selfless with a big heart.

He fell in love with me because I put others before myself.

I still doubted myself sometimes; wondering if I as truly with Dwalin, if he was truly mine and mine alone.

Dwalin never hesitated to sedate my fears with a kiss. He was a dwarf of few words, but that was fine with me. Actions like the kiss, easily showed me how he felt.

The way he'd hold me so gently but with so much love and passion. How he'd watch me reverently whenever I entered a room and how he'd listen to me chatter about my day without a complaint.

The way he'd brush his thumb along my cheek and stare into my eyes before kissing me.

Somehow, I'd gotten the dwarf of my dreams and I was fine with that. I was happy, despite my losses.

We'd get through this together.