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“Mister Dwalin!  Justilo is bothering Blackberry!” Primula yelped, bounding into the forge. Thorin, Dwalin, and a half score of hobbit males turned to stare at her.  “If – If someone were bothering me in such a way, I’d want someone to step in,” she squeaked.

Dwalin didn’t remember deciding to storm out of the forge. At some point he had ripped off his apron and was striding out of the door.  He hesitated for a moment, not realizing where to go, but started towards Mushroom Trail.  Primula was suddenly skipping ahead of him, gesturing at him to hurry.

He followed her down to the bridge before the sound of raised voices reached his ears.

“I just want to talk!”  A male voice he didn’t recognize.

“I don’t want to talk to you!”  Blackberry’s voice.  Dwalin could hear the rattle of her wine cart.

“You should – she doesn’t want – you should leave her alone.” Drogo’s uncertain squeak.

“Boy, what do you—“ the first voice began to sneer.

“Fuck off, taint goblin!”

Dwalin bit back a laugh.  That was definitely his Blackberry.  Well, it sounded like she had things well in han—

“Let go of me!  LET GO OF ME!”

Dwalin’s heart lurched.  He ran to the crest of the small hill above the bridge, leaving Primula behind.  Just this side of the bridge, Blackberry’s wine cart sat cockeyed where it had rolled away from her. Some strange male halfing – large for his species – had his hand locked around Blackberry’s forearm.  Drogo had a hand on each of their forearms, trying fruitlessly to pry them apart.  A few other hobbits watched with wide eyes.

“You must stop this now!” the hobbit youth declared, only the faintest quiver in his voice.  “This is not how you treat ladies!  You’re a – you’re a – you’re a blaggard!”

Primula’s hands went to her mouth.  She was desperately concerned for her beau, but couldn’t deny being deeply impressed by his bravery.  Dwalin was already striding towards the group.

“It’s not your concern, boy!”  The large hobbit, who could only be Justilo, shoved Drogo with his free hand, wrenching Blackberry to his side. The tiny hobbit woman tried aiming a kick at him, but was pulled off balance by the jerk.  Drogo went down, tumbling over backwards into the shallow ditch beside the road. Right around this time, Dwalin arrived on the scene.

Stark fear raced over Justilo’s face.

“It’s all right, Master Dwarf,” he tried.  “I’m just having a chat with my wife.”

“SHE’S NOT YOUR WIFE!” Dwalin thundered.  

Blackberry was between the two males, still trying to pry her arm out of Justilo’s grip and directly in the path of what would have been a very satisfying and possibly lethal punch. Dwalin settled for an open palm strike with his off hand.  It almost mirrored the shove Justilo had given Drogo, except for the force behind it. Dwalin was pretty certain he felt a rib go. The pain finally forced Justilo to release Blackberry, who staggered back into the dwarf.  Justilo slid back onto the boards of the bridge, gaping up at his attacker.  The dwarf very deliberately put Blackberry behind him and started forward.

“Dwalin!  Don’t kill him, there’s too many people watching!”  Thorin bellowed.

They had drawn quite a crowd.  Most of the marketplace was peering over the crest of the hill.  Thorin and Bofur were starting down the hill, but were quickly passed by three lawkeepers.  They spared Dwalin a passing glance, but he was already turning back to Blackberry.

Two of them yanked Justilo to his feet while the third helped Drogo out of the ditch.  

“Are ye all right, luv?” Dwalin growled.

“My arm hurts,” Blackberry said curtly, cradling her left arm against her stomach.  

“. . . then he grabbed Miss Brandywine and I told him he should stop, but—“ Drogo was explaining things to the lawkeeper.

“Blackberry’s injured!” Dwalin interrupted.

“That dwarf attacked me!” Justilo wailed, pointing an accusing finger at Dwalin.  

Thorin appeared by his side and laid a hand on the big dwarf’s shoulder, but Justilo’s cries were falling on deaf ears.

“Oh, he attacked you? Was that before you started manhandling his sweetheart?  Or after you threw the Baggins boy into the ditch?” One of the lawkeepers sneered.  The pair dragged him away towards the nearest guard house.

“’Sweetheart’?”

“She’s hurt?” The third lawkeeper asked, stepping in close.

“My arm,” she said stiffly.

“Let’s get you to the doctor,” the guardsman said.

“I’ll come as well,” Dwalin said.

“That’s not necessary--,”

“I want him to come!” Blackberry blurted.

The guardsman nodded.

“Of course, Miss.”

“I’ll handle your wine cart!” Bofur called, waving.

“See that it gets to its destination!” Blackberry yelled around Dwalin’s arm.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Just a sprained wrist, I believe,” the hobbit doctor surmised.  “I would say steer clear of Justilo until the lawkeepers decide what to do with him, but—“

The healer’s bright green eyes slid sideways to Dwalin.

“I daresay he will steer clear of you.”

Blackberry managed a chuckle.   Doctor Lil Pennyfan was one of five doctors in Hobbiton, but the only one she considered bearable.  He was a rotund fellow with half-moon glasses, bright green eyes, and flaming hair about halfway gone silver.  He neatly combed the silver bit and let the red curls frizz up as they may, which left casual acquaintances with the impression that his head was on fire.  He was also the teacher in herbs and medicines to both Blackberry’s mother and Blackberry herself. He had such an inappropriate streak Blackberry sometimes wondered if he was her natural father.  In fact, he had been the one to take her in after the Fell Winter.   Pennyfan leaned in as though sharing a great secret, but didn’t drop his voice any.

“A dwarf warrior, you naughty minx! So much hair! And such muscles! You must tell me everything, girl!”

Then again, it didn’t seem as though Lil had a great interest in lasses.  But hobbit parties being what they were, you couldn’t rule anything out.  Blackberry giggled again.  Even Dwalin gave a begrudging smile.

“And he even smiles when another male compliments his looks!”

“You aren’t the first,” Dwalin said dryly.

“Ooo! Well, let me get a brace for that wrist and you will be as good as new, dear.”

The plump healer bustled off for his supplies.  Blackberry’s good humor quickly drained away.  Dwalin sighed and bushed his knuckles across her cheek.

“You can tell me, darlin’,” he said simply.

The hobbit maid’s cheeks grew red and tears pooled in her eyes.

“I can’t do this again,” she whispered.  “I can’t go back to always being on guard, always wondering if this is the day he catches me by surprise . . .”

The tears began to stream down her face as she cried with distressingly little sound.  For the first time since he’d been stepping out with the hobbit woman, Dwalin was suddenly reminded of Dis.  

Just after the Durin princess’s husband had died in the mining accident, he’d stopped by to check on her and found her in much the same position as Blackberry.  Fili had been
asleep in his cot, Kili still snug in her belly.  Dis had wept so silently, as if she feared waking them both.  And at the time, Dwalin dared not take her in his arms. She was his princess and a widow and a mother and it was far too improper.  Without a word, the younger son of Fundin pulled Blackberry into his lap and squeezed her.

“If he even looks at you sideways, I’ll kill him,” Dwalin promised.

“  . . . you’re leaving in the spring,” Blackberry said in a flat voice.  “And I’ll be alone again.”

For a long moment, there was no sound but the quiet gasps of the hobbit woman crying.  Then Dwalin simply squeezed her as tightly as he dared.
Nobody seems to be enjoying this story but me, but. . . I'm enjoying this story.





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:iconbookwormbeth:
bookwormbeth Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2018
Yaaaaaaaaaaay! New story! Never come to deviantart anymore but yaaaaay! Love these two!
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
^^  I think everyone dropped off of DA for a while.  It was radio silence for a long time and not even Mama Thordis chapters garnered much of a reaction.
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:iconkisameisahhhhh:
kisameisahhhhh Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2018
I still keep up and adore all your writing, even the ones in fandoms i know nothing of
I just don't use deviant art for anything other than your updates and maybe two other people I guess I forget to leave feedback at all
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
That's good to hear.  I know my posting is very rare these days but . . it's still nice to hear people like it.
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:iconanimeboyluv:
animeboyluv Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2018
I love this story!
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you're enjoying it!  I've gotten hardly any feedback on the series itself and the last chapter produced radio silence so I didn't know.
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:iconanimeboyluv:
animeboyluv Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2018
I just love how headstrong Blackberry is.
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
She better be to step out with Dwalin!
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