The Weight of Doubt

by Taryn

Disclaimers: The Iron Tower books and the world of Mithgar are the creation and property of Dennis L. McKiernan. Granted, it's a huge LotR rip-off any way you look at it, but where else can you write a slash scene between two hobbits (sorry, Warrows) that may as well be canon? Anyway, this is a "missing scene" from the second book, Shadows of Doom.

The Weight of Doubt Night in the heart of the Dimmendark was nearly indistinguishable from day. The houses and hills visible from the porch of The White Unicorn seemed to sink into the murk, giving the whole town of Stonewall the feel of something ripped from the depths of a nightmare.

Danner stood in the doorway and stared out into the nothingness, amber eyes peering into the dark as pointed ears strained for even the faintest sounds of approaching riders or the relentless warning Boom! Boom! Boom! of the Ghulen drums. It was their second night in the inn, and they'd be leaving on the morrow. If only the survivors would come, then maybe there would be a chance of hope for Laurelin and Prince Igon, if not for Challerain Keep itself. The more time that passed, the less brightly the hope burned in his heart until the smallest chance of her survival became buried under a murk that rivaled that of the dimmendark itself.

"What is it?"

Danner, his whole being so trained on the outside world that he'd completely forgotten his traveling companion, jumped as the soft voice sounded below his ear. His heart beating fast, Danner glanced down at the small Warrow staring out into the night at his side, body tensed as his senses fought against the murk.

Danner shook his head. "Nothing. I just couldn't sleep."

Patrel threw up his hands in disgust and fixed Danner with a glare filled with veridion fire. "Lor, Danner! I thought the Ghuls were just over the next hill the way you were staring into the darkness!"

Danner shrugged slightly and turned back to the night. His eyes swept the darkness once more and a lead weight settled on his heart at the continued stillness. "They're not coming, are they, Paddy?"

Patrel sighed and leaned against the doorframe. "I don't know, Danner. I don't think so. Horses are faster than ponies, and I think the King's men would have passed through by now if they were within striking distance. Either the battle still rages despite the fall of King Aurion, orů" He stopped, his gaze dropping down to the floor.

"Or maybe there aren't any more survivors," Danner finished for him.

"No, of course there are. They're just scattered, that's all." Patrel looked back up, his fierce expression just visible to Warrow eyes, daring Danner to argue. "We'll just gather Thornwalkers from the Bosky and start back. They'll need us when they set out again." With that pronouncement, the small buccan pulled Danner firmly back from the doorway and carefully latched the door against the chill of early winter.

Danner nodded in agreement and let himself be led back upstairs to bed, feeling the lead weight of doubt grow with the rhythm of each and every step.

Without a word Patrel threw more wood on the guest room fire and pulled Danner to the soft feather bed against the far wall.

"Lor, but you're freezing!"

"I know, Paddy, and I'm not sure the heat's going to help."

Patrel shook his head and pulled Danner under the covers, curling his small body around his friend's larger one and pulling the blankets tight. "It'll be all right, Danner, you'll see. Once we get to the Bosky things will all work out."

His words turned to soft touches and the touches to kisses, and outside the murky darkness slowly began to brighten towards the mocking dimness of 'Darkday.

And still, in Danner's heart, the weight of doubt and something sinister yet to come dimmed even the comforting heat of Patrel's embrace, and the Warrow could not be completely comforted.

In the end, after Patrel slept curled up in his arms, Danner turned amber eyes back towards the shuttered windows and wondered.

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