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The Worth of a Lifetime

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Dwalin had lived a long life. So long, he had forgotten what it meant to feel young. All his friends and family had passed on before he did. One thing he had learned over the years was that secrets were to be kept to instill a semblance of peace. No one wanted to talk about the bad things, yet they plagued him.

 He never told anyone how much those years hurt. He never talked about the Battle of Moria. He never talked about how much he cared for Dis. He never talked about the Journey, where he supported Thorin the best he could while keeping an eye on the younger folk. 

He never talked about the scars he earned from the Spiders and the Flame of the Dragon. He never told them about how he confronted Thorin in his Gold Madness after the Burglar had almost been thrown from the ramparts. He never told how he was the only one beside Thorin that witnessed Belle's death.

He never talked about how each and every one of the people who come to care about died over the years. About finding Thorin holding another little hobbit's body and attacking him for it before understanding that orcs had done it. About how he felt when he encountered Balin, Oin and Ori in the tombs of Moria. About carrying Thorin to Mount Doom and watching his best friend die covered in ashes and superficial wounds that hid what was on the inside.

He never talked about his tears when he went to the royal family's funeral. About visiting Bofur's, Dori's, Nori's and Bombur's graves. He never admitted that if he could, he would do it all over again if he had the chance. In his final moments, all he did was shed a single tear...

And then, he woke up to see wooden boards above his head. His body was sore, and when he looked at his hands...they were not his own. Or, at least, they were not those of his elder self. He sat up faster than he had in years, to see the mirror across the room. The mirror had a wooden carving of a pony frolicking in a meadow, but that's not what got his attention.

In the reflection, was a face he hadn't seen in nearly a hundred years...his own? The face was without wrinkles, and he still had hair on his head. As he felt his body, he noted the scars from the Journey were not there. Physically, he felt better than he had in years. Mentally? He was struggling to choose between fainting and screaming.

He chose the latter.