By the time the company reached the foot of the rocky promontory, it was sunset.
"We will camp here for the night, but we'll leave at dawn: we cannot risk the orcs reaching us."
Thorin asserted in a decisive tone. Everyone then began to arrange their own bed for the night, while Bombur lit the fire to cook something.
"So, what's it like to have a dragon for a friend?"
Bofur asked Arya jokingly, as they sat by the fire to warm up. Soon they were joined by other dwarfs, intrigued and fascinated by the matter.
"Well, sometimes can be useful!"
The girl answered with a smile, causing a general laugh.
"Besides, it's not just one..."
She added, almost whispering.
"What do you mean, lass?"
Gloin asked her. Arya had the eyes of all her companions focused on her, so she decided to spill the beans.
"There are three of them. Saphira is the smallest, then there is Viseryon and finally Drogon, the largest."
The young woman clarified.
"For all the Valar! Three?! Three dragons! And that would be the smallest?!"
Dwalin exclaimed, expressing with his words the wonder that could be read on everyone's face.
"How did you manage to befriend three dragons?"
Kili asked her, dying of curiosity.
"Oh, but she's not just their friend, young Kili, Arya is their mother!"
Gandalf intervened, leaving everyone speechless again.
"What does that mean?"
Then Bilbo asked, turning to the girl with a slightly confused expression.
"It means I delivered them."
The young woman began.
"It happened while I was in Rivendell. One night, on the advice of King Elrond, I brought the eggs into the forest and set them on fire. At dawn, when I woke up, three little dragons were sleeping quietly at my feet. We are, in a sense, bound."
"What do you mean by bound?"
Thorin stepped in, with the usual serious and intimidating voice wherewith he was able to make everyone uncomfortable, but which had no effect on the girl. Arya was surprised instead of seeing him there, along with them: he was usually on his own when they were camping, or he was arguing with Balin and Dwalin about the trip.
"Well, for example, we can communicate telepathically. That's how I asked for Saphira's help when we were stuck on the tree."
She explained. The young King seemed satisfied with the information received that evening, in fact, he got up and reached his bedroll, followed, as always, by Balin and Dwalin.
Tiredness was beginning to show and, little by little, all the members of the company fell asleep...or almost all.
Arya was lying between Fili and Kili but, despite being tired, she could not sleep in any way. Thus she decided to get up and take a look around. She entered the grove at the foot of the promontory and soon reached a stream. "Probably one of the tributaries of the Anduin" thought the girl before sitting on the shore.
The forest was silent, the only noise you could hear was the quiet flow of the river water, sometimes interrupted by the roar of the leaves in the wind or the bubbling owls.
Immersed in that quiet the young girl soon found herself thinking about her home, about Rivendell, even if she couldn't really really call the house of King Elrond "hers". She and her brother had lived there for a long time, that's true, but in their hearts they knew they belonged to another place. Yeah, her brother, Arya missed Aragorn so much. They had always been very close, since childhood, always giving each other strength. Aragorn was her touchstone, the shoulder to cry on, the brave warrior who fought by her side and the friend who made her laugh at any occasion. Since he had left for the north she was no longer the same: closed in on herself, rarely spoke to anyone, didn't laugh anymore, ate and slept hardly. It was the dragons who saved her, her beloved dragons. The girl was amazed by how the dwarves had taken the news that day: they hadn't been mad at her, they hadn't kicked her out of the company, quite the opposite, they had thanked her. However, she wasn't entirely convinced that she had their full confidence, and how to blame them? After all, she had kept hidden a lot about herself, while they had opened up and welcomed her into their big family.
The course of those thoughts was interrupted by a noise of footsteps behind her.
Fili. Arya lost a beat in hearing that voice. The dwarf hadn't spoken to her since Saphira had left them on the rocky promontory.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
He hastened to add, seeing an expression partly astonished and partly frightened on the girl's face.
"Do you mind if I sit with you?"
He continued, in a kind and gentle tone.
"Not at all."
She answered, waking from her trance state.
"Is there something wrong?"
He asked her apprehensively. The girl had, in fact, an air a bit absent. Sitting there, with her knees to her chest, staring at the river, she seemed almost sad in the dwarf's eyes.
"No, I just got lost in my thoughts."
She answered, turning her head to look at him and giving him one of her charming smiles to reassure him. But Fili was not reassured at all, he was certain that there was something that was upsetting and wanted at all costs to find out what.
"If you don't mind me asking, what were you thinking?"
"About today, about what happened: I didn't expect you to take the news of the dragons well."
"And what did you expect? You saved our lives!"
Arya smiled and lowered her head.
"I was afraid of losing your trust, of being kicked out of the company..."
"No way. This will never happen, get it out of your head!"
The dwarf hurried to say her, placing a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. With all the dangers they had faced, and would certainly face, her greatest fear was really to lose their trust. Arya couldn't bear the thought of losing another family.
Fili found courage in this thought, together with an immense loyalty and a great need for affection.
Arya turned around and looked at him. His eyes were like powerful magnets for her, she couldn't stop looking at them.
Fili stroked her cheek.
"I wouldn't allow it."
He whispered softly to her before cancelling the remaining distance between them. The dwarf's lips began to move gently on the girl's ones, Fili was trying to understand if that was what she wanted, he was testing the waters waiting for permission to deepen that contact. Arya opened her lips and the kiss became more intense, passionate. The young dwarf put a hand on the girl's side surrounding her waist and bringing her closer to him. She clutched the prince's thick jacket with one hand and moved the other down his neck, to the back of his head, until she was able to intertwine her fingers with his beautiful blond hair.
After moments that seemed endless to both, the two broke off to catch their breath. Arya leaned her head on Fili's chest and he held her close to himself, as if he was afraid of losing her at any time. At that very moment, in the arms of the dwarf, she felt protected and happy, happy as she hadn't been for a long time. Then she understood that she would no longer be able to separate from him, because Fili loved her, he really loved her, and there was nothing was more important to her.
They remained like that for a while but, unfortunately, that beautiful moment was interrupted by a threatening growl. Arya raised her head.
"They can't be far from us."
The dwarf added, before taking the hand of the girl to go back to the others: they had to hurry to leave, if Azog had reached them this time they would have no escape route.