Actions

Work Header

The Second Time I Saw You

Work Text:

Part One: Days Later

 

Master Groin's son had been on Thorin's mind ever since he had seen him in his father's forge. Thorin wasn't in this part of the Blue Mountains often; the dwarves he knew personally who lived and worked here were loosely related to the royal line at best- Groin being the brother of Fundin, Balin and Dwalin's father. Yet Groin was famed for having cut ties with any familial links to Fundin, the details of which Thorin wasn't party to, nor did he wish to know or get involved with. He and his father left him well alone to carry out his blacksmith work with the company that suited Groin best, and that company was the other traders, heavy drinkers, and less than savoury people.

 

However his son didn't have the same air about him as Groin, nor did he seem to be anywhere in the Mountains for that matter. Thorin had been keeping an eye out, perhaps for a glimpse of him in the market or at a local tavern, specifically to find out more about him, and what made him so sure of himself as to defy lord Thrain's orders. No such luck came about, and Thorin was looking forward (with a certain measure of apprehension) to returning to Groin's forge, and his father's sword. He would make sure that whatever the case, Gloin would not loose his head (perhaps a bit of gold) if he failed to do a less than perfect job. But Thrain's wrath was almost as bad as Groin's, and between those two, Thorin thought Gloin would be lucky if he didn't crumble.

 

Days passed, and presently Thorin was sent to pick up his father's weapon. At the end of the long, dark passageway, he once again lifted the curtain to the inner chamber of Groin's forge, though this time he was met not with a wall of heat and flurry of sparks, nor the muscled back of Gloin (which disheartened him). It was the rather bloated frame of Master Groin, collapsed in a pile in a low chair next to his huge workbench. The forge stood unlit and cold, and as the room bore no trace of lingering warmth, Thorin suspected it had not been lit for a good while. He inwardly rolled his eyes at the pile in the chair, and stooped down so he was level with him, a gentle waft of stale sweat and alcohol buffeting him in the face.

'Master Groin?' he ventured. Groin grunted and creaked a puffy eye open- Thorin was amazed he had heard him first time around! As his gaze steadied, some spark of recognition was ignited, though he said nothing more and looked thoroughly displeased at Thorin's presence. Thorin was sure had he been anyone else unfortunate as to wake him up, he would have been cursed out with a few clips to the ear for good measure. As his status was of the king's son, Groin made an effort to struggle upright, with the other dwarf gingerly helping him to his feet.

 

'M'lord Thorin...' he muttered, declining his head, but that movement proving too painful he screwed up his eyes again, a shaking hand steadying himself on the workbench. For a few moments Thorin thought he'd fallen asleep on his feet such was his stillness.

'What do you w- may I do for you?' he said finally, his politeness forced through grinding teeth, eyes still tight shut.

'I have come to collect my sword,' said Thorin.

 

At this, Groin's eyes flew open, his deep frown curling into a sneer.

'Oh indeed you have... I was expecting this,' he growled, his dark eyes flashing- suddenly much more verbal. Thorin baulked; he should have known giving the sword to his son was a bad move, especially as the sum Thrain had given him to pay for the service was very high.

Groin staggered to a backroom, and returned almost immediately, clutching Thrain's blade, which he thrust out at Thorin.

 

He inspected it. It was, as Gloin had promised him, exceptionally crafted. He was sure his father would not be able to tell the difference easily between the handiworks. He turned it over, feeling the weight, running his fingers up he hard steel. No sign of any imperfection; the sword looked as good as it had on the day it was forged. He looked quickly up at the smith, who was standing, glowering.

 

'Done a good job has he?' he spat.

'Aye, Master, a very good job,' said Thorin.

He slipped it into his father's sheath he had brought with him.

'The work is nearly indistinguishable from yours- you have obviously taught him well,' he finished with a bow. He looked up at the other dwarf, only his eyes betraying his amusement at the old drunkard's anger. Groin grimaced, and haltingly returned the bow.

'My thanks for your gracious words, lord,' he growled. He limped to the curtain to show Thorin out of the inner chamber and to the iron door outside, when he turned abruptly. Thorin, who had been following him, nearly ran straight into him.

'I assume full payment was made,' Groin said. It was not a question, it was a statement, and one he knew he answer to- Thorin would never come here and leave a mere deposit for his work. Yet this was his son's job, not his. His beady eyes bored into Thorin's, rooting him to the spot.

'Of course, as always-' said Thorin, perplexed.

Groin's face split into a strange, wide smile, his eyes however remaining just as cold as they were before. He hitched up the curtain, and gestured to the door at the end of the corridor, which stood ajar.

'All's well then; you may leave.' He bowed, a smirk fixed on his face. Thorin was going to ask him what amused him so, but it was clear his stay was up. Probed with questions with a roaring hangover, Groin could prove ruthless. He slipped past into the dank blackness beyond, feeling the curtain clip his back as it fell.

 

 

Part Two: The Red Cap

 

He did not visit the forge again, shirking all matters to do with that end of town for fear of running into Groin; he had a feeling he wasn't too popular. Even though he was still intrigued at his son, he wasn't feeling up to playing a smith-roulette game with who he'd run into if he ventured there, and so two weeks passed.

 

It was after this time when Thorin ran into Gloin again, but it was not inside the Mountains.

 

Thorin often travelled far out of Ered Luin, across northern Eriador to the lands where Men dwelt. He was as restless as his father, yet he had been bade not to stray too far from home.

 

He enjoyed riding and walking the long roads- it gave him space to think: with the sky above his head, away from the crowded space of the southern mountain range, he could go for a day in the wild and see or speak to no one; in his home there was always someone ready to interrupt his privacy.

 

He loved the hills, tall grasses and rivers- the hidden areas he had found and carved his name, sometimes content to sit for hours and just think, or taking a book and pen to write. Secluded within rocky waterfall outcrops, weathered ruins with strange runes carved high into the stonework, he could be the master of his own citadel. Alone in the wilderness, his fortress was a mighty tree one night, a moss covered pillar the next, and ever under the stars at night, his heart yearned for Erebor.

 

He also lost himself in the villages of Men, which he found interesting, a far enough change from his own daily life to be of some comfort. The best he liked were interesting in a dirty way: too many taverns in one area, dark backstreets and more travellers passing through than permanent residents. Usually, they served the best ale here as well and were always good to have an ear out for gossip. He knew of young dwarves- and of those his own age and older- who took frequent trips away from home to Bree especially, to visit the working girls there.

 

With no one to answer to, he could drink as much as he liked and spend his money as he pleased after weeks of toil, away from the hawk-like eyes and overbearing presence of his father, who expected him to submit himself to be groomed in the way of his pleasing. In the town of Bree though, you could be whoever you wanted to be, and no one would assume any different, and sample the many strange and lethal concoctions the bartenders had acquired from all corners of Middle-Earth over the years. Thorin preferred spending his leisure time here rather than at home; with a pipe in one hand and a hood pulled down, Thorin watched the women flirt, and the strangers from far distant lands converse in their own tongues. Sometimes he would sit with he Northern rangers in the Prancing Pony, a favourite haunt of everyone who passed through Bree. The rangers never attracted a crowd, but brought tales and news from all over Middle-Earth, a valuable resource when one lives at the edge of West. Thorin was eager to ask of tales of his homeland- news of Laketown and the area surrounding the Lonely Mountain, but such news was scarce, and had little mention of anything to do with the dragon.

 

After a while in Bree, he had discovered a hidden gem- a tavern which made the Prancing Pony look like a civilised gathering at his father's halls. He didn't see the face of the man who mentioned it, but it's name sounded ominous enough- The Red Cap.

 

It was to this establishment that Thorin road two weeks after handing his father's sword back to him. Thrain, Thorin was relieved to note, had commended Master Groin once again on his perfect work (about which Thorin kept his mouth shut). He gathered his things that night- a bit of money, a knife, axe and some provisions for the road, and set off before anyone could ask him where he was off to.

 

The Red Cap was a place to be found with purpose, rather than stumbled upon on a whim. Situated at the far southern edge of Bree, one had to twist and turn through a labyrinth of smokey and filthy back alleyways to get halfway close, and then descend into the streets below the main town, down a vast steep cobbled pavement where no pony would dare go, and where no resident of Bree-town set foot. Once at the bottom of this, the buildings on either side reared up, blotting out most of the sky, and as the labyrinth of streets started up again, walkways and ramshackle houses built one upon the other made sure that once the Red Cap was found, the only light to see by was of braziers screwed into the dripping walls at intervals, which burned whether night or day overhead. Stepping over slumped bodies, piles of rubbish, and dodging vermin the size of small cats was commonplace, as was keeping a tight hand on your purse.

 

The Red Cap was entered by the 'back' door, as everyone called it, the 'front' of it being a space in an alleyway only reached by going through the pub and exiting on the other side; it seemed to Thorin street planning was not the Bree Men's strong point.

 

The sign which hung on rusted hinges above the back door was almost black, the windows of the tavern even grimier. Yet with keen dwarven eyesight in the darkness, Thorin made out the sigil: a shirtless coalminer in a red cap, with rubies for eyes, his hands thrust into his belt. Reaching the aged door, Thorin lowered his hood; there were no braziers above the door, and his plain black cloak gave away no identity. He gave one mighty push, a twist of the handle, and stepped inside.

 

 

 

Part Three: Inside The Red Cap

*Developments of this will be elaborated on in my longer fic

 

This evening it was fairly quiet, yet Thorin had expected that. He removed his cloak, and made his way to a booth at the far end, near the bar. The cramped street outside and placement beneath Bree's main streets belied the size of it's inside; it was large if not comfortable, and he had seen a ridiculous amount of men packed into here before. It was slightly lighter than the street outside, two great steel braziers hung at either end of the bar on the wall, and an iron-wrought candelabra hung lopsidedly in the centre of the ceiling. In the far right corner, far opposite Thorin, was a small raised stage, and around it many tables and chairs for onlookers. Some good music was played here, better than that of the widely visited pubs, which was one of the reasons that the anonymous man had suggested it to Thorin, as a musician himself. Near the 'back' door was a small stairwell leading downwards into what looked like pitch blackness (Thorin had not asked what was down there, and he was a little nervous to know); towards the 'front' door, a rather more inviting doorway disappeared into some wide, carpeted stairs leading to rooms upstairs.

 

As he sat and tried to see if he recognised any of the patrons here from his previous visits, he could hear merry talking from the front door outside, a popular place to meet when the main pub was too noisy. There were only about twenty others scattered around the inside, none of which he recognised, and thankfully no dwarves.

 

When he had first come here, he had why no one in Bree talked about the Red Cap, indeed, mentioning it's name seemed almost taboo. At first Thorin thought it was the placement of it, being in the rougher end of town, he thought it might be a place that would attract thieves, brigands and people looking for black market goods. That suspicion he found out was true, but there was also another reason he had quickly realised as soon as he stepped foot inside the Cap for the first time and looked around.

 

There were no women.

 

Not that women were not allowed; he saw one, perhaps two. Yet they were not the working girls he had expected to be commonplace in a tavern such as this. And he had quickly realised the reason for there being a surplus of men in this tavern.

 

The boy working at the bar tonight was quite pretty with long curly brown hair and an olive skin tone which was not common in these parts. He also looked very young- perhaps not even sixteen. Wondering at this, Thorin got up, checked he still had his purse and made his way over to him: a few people turned towards him as he did so and a few eyes lingered, yet most fell back to continuing their businesses immediately. There was a red-hooded figure sitting alone in the corner, and for a wild moment Thorin started as he thought it was Balin, but that would be quite absurd: the thought of Balin of all people in a place like this made him laugh to himself.

 

As he approached the boy looked up, and set is face into a pleasant smile.

'I've seen you before! You were here a few weeks ago when I was glass collecting,' he pointed out, as though expecting to be remembered. Thorin, however, could not place him, and shrugged.

'I don't remember you, but I am flattered you remember me in any case,' he said, with a smile. The boy looked presently put out, but bowed, and asked what Thorin would prefer to drink tonight.

Thorin raked his eyes over the array of bottles behind him, then back down to the boy, and chuckled.

'I did not expect to be served by a thirteen year old lad tonight,' he laughed, and grinned down at the boy.

 

The boy's eyes flashed at this, and he drew himself up behind the bar a few inches yet his scrawny frame did nothing to impress Thorin.

'If it pleases you sir, I am of age. And I'm only working because Master Rimmius is not well!' He pouted indignantly and raised his chin.

'Now sir, what would you prefer to drink?'

 

Thorin was still smiling, yet the news that Rimmius was ill concerned him. He had spoken to him on a few occasions and had enjoyed his company. He was an old gentleman who knew a lot about Bree's history, and had been the one to explain to him why his establishment was so very far away from the others.

 

'You see, Thorin,' he had said, when Thorin had been comfortable to use his real name around him and not an alias, 'we are not looked upon too favourably. In Bree- I'm not sure about where you come from or how the dwarves view it- we are cast out with the deviants and perverts, and treated no better than the rodents that roam these streets. Not that deviancy is a bad thing!' he winked, and Thorin laughed, finishing his pint, and feeling the buzz of drunkenness overcoming his senses. Just who 'we' referred to was plain, yet when questioned about his own preferences by Rimmius, however gently, Thorin hesitated to tell.

 

When he had met Rimmius again for perhaps the fifth time of sitting and drinking with him, he knew he needed to confess openly to someone*. When he had, the old man had gently taken Thorin's hand, which had sent his stomach lurching- a gentle touch by another man was something he hadn't experienced before.

 

'Now, this is what I say to anyone who comes here from another place who is anxious about admitting their sexuality to themselves,' Rimmius began, 'whatever your culture says about it, here at the Red Cap you will always find peace and understanding, and a safe place to do what you will. One thing I must stress to you is that there is nothing wrong with being attracted to other men, being homosexual, queer, or whatever your word for it is. Nothing wrong at all.'

 

At this, Thorin let out the breath he'd been holding. He thanked the man sincerely, stammering that he had never told another soul before, and recieved a smile back. He dimly wondered, as his head was spinning from Rimmius's words and the liquor, whether the man at the Prancing Pony had thought of him as gay, and if that was why he had been directed here. Maybe he had uttered something intensely private in an inebriated state, and was silently thankful that he had obviously done so in the presence of the right person. He resolved to be more mindful in future, and vowed to only get wildly drunk in the presence of Rimmius, such was the man's kindness and understanding.

 

Tonight, Thorin ordered a standard pint of ale instead of the grape liquor he went for, and sipped it slowly.

'What's wrong with Rimmius?' he asked.

The boy frowned, and started to make his way out from behind the table to collect the empty glasses.

'The healer says it's the flu, but he should pull through well enough... oh!-' Thorin raised his eyes in question as the young lad turned back to him, a glass already in hand.

'I forgot to mention, there's another dwarf here, one of our regulars,' he said, eyes twinkling. Thorin stilled, mid-sip, eyes fixed on the young boy bobbing in front of him. He awaited the name in intrigued apprehension. He thought to himself he would shave his beard if it really was Balin.

'I didn't get his name, but I see him a lot- I can't believe I forgot to tell you!- he hasn't been here in a few weeks, 's why you haven't seen him,' the boy rushed, grinning, 'but- but he has- tell me if you know 'im!- red hair, bright red hair and dark tattoos on his arms, very lean, and he says he's a smith... and golden rings in his ears, and one in his nose!' he dropped his voice as Thorin tried not to choke too much on his drink and remain a calm exterior, 'he's very popular with the men... as a matter of fact he's out the front now!'

 

The boy's eyes fixed on his, and his grin widened as it was unmistakeable Thorin knew him. He felt his eyebrows had rose so far they were now in the middle of his scalp, his tankard raised still in mid air, mind racing...

'I knew you would! Apparently his father works for the some king of the dwarves sometimes or something. Do you know the king of the dwarves?' he asked, breathless in his excitement.

The mention of his father brought him back to earth. Even under the town of Bree in a hole such as this he couldn't escape his name.

'Aye, I know of him,' he said, taking a long swig again. He was going to need a few more of these tonight. He sighed, and ran his tongue around his mouth, savouring the last drops of the dark, yeasty taste.

 

The door to the front creaked open, and Thorin saw a ringed hand steadying it. His heart beat faster- yet he knew not why he was acting like a nervous youth again.

 

'I'd say there he is now- your friend I mean, not the king of the dwarves!' the boy said with a laugh, and with a last gleeful look at Thorin, ran off to he storeroom.

 

 

Part Four: The Second Meeting

 

Thorin sat heavily down on a wooden stool at the edge of the bar, his eyes fixed on the door. He could hear many voices coming through the crack that the hand held open, and he imagined that Gloin was with a group of a few other men. The boy's words echoed around his brain 'he's very popular with the men'. An unexplainable pang of possessiveness hit him; common Men flirting with such a dwarf- the son of a master smith and a descendant of Durin no less! There was nothing 'wrong' with this particularly though- and he accredited his feelings to a strong sense of dwarf pride. Gloin could do what he wanted, yet these feelings still roiled within him, and he quelled it with another gulp of ale.

 

The door swung wide after a second, and a group of about seven Men strode in as a waft of smoke and chatter briefly filled the surrounding area, then faded as the door closed heavily. Thorin looked up from his tankard, and turned his head to see where they had gone to: evidently, Gloin hadn't spotted him.

 

He swivelled around and saw the party had gathered at one of the small tables in front of the stage. In the midst of the collection of typical Mannish dark hair, he spotted at once a long copper-red pony tail, the dim light glinting on a golden band around the base. The figure had his back to him, and Thorin remained silent and still in his seat, hoping to catch a voice and make sure it really was Gloin.

 

'Frightened little rabbit- filthy he was too, skinny as something you wouldn't believe-' came the voice, his back still turned. Thorin's heart leapt as he spoke. Now he couldn't be mistaken. He was drinking something frothing and red out of a goblet, and Thorin noticed his speech was loud and slurred slightly, but Gloin it was nonetheless.

 

'So, what did you do to 'im, Glo'?' asked a stout Man with a large, brown moustache, even louder than Gloin had been. Thorin took a disapproving look at his ripped clothes and bawdy jewellery as he lounged back in his chair, feet almost to the table. The jealousy had risen once again as this stranger used a nickname for Gloin ('who does he think he is!' he thought), yet he checked himself and gritted his teeth. Gloin paused, eyeing the markings on the silverware he was holding.

'I took him to my father!'

The Men whooped in laughter at this, some gave a low hiss. Lord Groin it seemed had a reputation outside Ered Luin. Thorin remembered that however incapable he was inside the stronghold, he did often go abroad with his sons to sell his wares around the towns and settlements; he would trust no others to get the best price for it.

A tall Man with glistening black hair gave a long whistle.

'I would have handed him over to the guards rather than your father! How much had the lad stolen?' he said.

'The guards said about 60 gold pieces- a rich man's full purse- plus a ring he had in his pocket. Nice haul for a young pickpocket who was stupid enough to get himself nearly caught!' said Gloin.

'So, you hid him then took him back to Master Groin, and then?' demanded the moustached man.

Gloin took another gulp of the forbidding red liquid, then gave an impressive belch.

'Father thinks he'll make a suitable apprentice now that I'm too good!'

'And he'll live with you I presume? A Bree orphan in the Mountains...' said a blond man from behind a large glass of wine (it seemed like a whole pint).

'I have no idea, Lin. All I hope is that he cooks and cleans and mends for me!' Gloin snorted derisively and the Men sniggered.

 

Thorin rose out of his stool and decided to make his way over to them at last, which proved difficult as his legs had cramped form being squashed against the bar table. He was interested to learn of Groin's apparent kindness to the young boy, probably sparked perhaps, by his own tale of wandering and poverty, an existence which had brought the best dwarf to steal to feed his family.

'Gloin?' he asked, as he arrived at the table. The Men surrounding him looked up curiously, and Gloin wheeled around at the sound of his voice.

'My Lord-' he began, but catching himself before he spoke Thorin's name, he smiled graciously and pulled up a chair beside him. The crowd of strange Men were still eyeing him; he wished they wouldn't.

'I have a table over there...' he said, gesturing vaguely behind him to the booth at the far side where he'd first sat.

'Oh... well, very good- friends...?' he said, turning back to the group, and for a horrible moment Thorin thought he was about to invite the gaggle over to sit with him. However the Men politely bade him go with him alone, much to Thorin's relief. Gloin carefully picked up his goblet, and followed hi to the back corner. As they left, one of the Men wolf-whistled, and was audibly thumped by the man beside him after a backwards glower from Thorin.

 

'I didn't know you came here, Thorin,' whispered Gloin as they reached the secluded table. Thorin looked past Gloin's shoulder: the Men were still looking over whispering amongst themselves. Gloin positioned himself to block the group from Thorin's dark gaze and sighed.

'Ignore them, we've been drinking for a while. All who come here... we don't talk about who we meet here. Though I expect they'll want to now who you are,' he said. Thorin grunted in response and finished his ale. Now he was alone with Gloin, he didn't know what to say. An awkward silence passed, and he snuck a glance at Gloin. The dwarf was dressed in a long green travelling cloak and leather boots which laced up just under his knees- Thorin thought he looked similar to a northern ranger. In the light of the melting candle on the table he could see Gloin had changed his plain gold earrings for those studded with gems, and his brow creased. Gloin smiled as he caught his gaze, and his hand reached up to his ear.

'These? I didn't buy them myself. A gift from an admirer-' he said, then chuckled at Thorin's abashed expression.

'Not that sort of admirer I should hope; I sing here to make money aside from smithing.' Thorin's brows rose again.

'You sing? I've never heard you: you've never sung in my father's halls!' he exclaimed.

Gloin flushed and dropped his eyes.

'Do you think I should? I don't know if my songs would be fit for your father to hear...'

Thorin could only imagine what songs Gloin sung in place such as this, and he grinned.

'Maybe not, but I should still like to hear you,' he said.

Gloin's eyes lit up at this and he looked excited, gesturing to the small stage.

'You should come and see me perform soon, my lord! There's always a good crowd for music here,' he said, resting his back against the chair.

Thorin nodded in agreement. He didn't know why, but it was a little strange hearing Gloin call him 'my lord', even though normally he wouldn't object to such formalities from a dwarf he'd only met once before. Something from the conversation swam back into his mind, and he suddenly remembered what he was going to ask Gloin.

'So, how was smithing my father's sword?' he asked, looking down and wishing he had another ale in hand to make him speak more freely.

Gloin waved his hand as though repairing Thrain's best weapon was no task for him.

'Fairly straightforward. Though-' he added earnestly, as though concerned he might offend, 'your father has a magnificent blade, it needs to be said- my lord' he added, and half-bowed from his seat.

'Please, Gloin' said Thorin before he could stop himself, 'I won't take any titles from you!'

He must have sounded angry, because the other dwarf shrank back into the chair back, as though wishing he could become one with it. Thorin chastised himself, and forced his face into a smile.

'To you, I'm only Thorin, nothing more,' he added gently. He could feel his face blushing and was thankful that the orange glow from the candle masked it.

Gloin looked relieved, and straightened up leaning forwards again, fingering his cup.

'I got no payment out of it- I should have expected,' he carried on.

'My father says as long as I'm under his roof, the greatest percentage of my earnings are his. He doesn't know about my other job, which is fortunate!' he winked at Thorin, and looked over at the bar table. The young boy had reappeared, and Thorin realised Gloin had finished his drink too.

'I'll get us another round,' Thorin said, getting his purse out. Gloin thanked him, and handed him his goblet. Thorin raised an eyebrow at him, wondering if he wished for the drink he'd just had, and Gloin laughed.

'Ask for Snakebite. And get yourself one of those, too! You can't drink ale forever!'

Thorin extrapolated himself from the tight space, wondering what on earth or under it, went into a 'snakebite'. He wouldn't be called a coward though, and steeling himself for a rough night of mixing his drinks, sauntered over to the bar. He deliberately didn't look at the Men Gloin had come with, but he sensed that some had left, to his relief.

 

The boy's eyes glittered in mirth as the dwarf reached him and took the tankard and the goblet from him with a half-smile.

'Another ale for you, sir?'

Thorin took a deep breath.

'A snakebite,' he said, resolving to try and get a good look at what the boy put into it before he drank it.

'A bit of a change then!' he said, and turned to get some dusty bottles out of a cupboard.

'And the same for your lover?' he added.

 

It took Thorin a few moments to realise what he boy had said but even as he registered it, he could do no more for a few seconds than stand in stunned silence.

'He's ah. He's not- I mean, Gloin isn't...' he began. He could feel his blush returning with a vengeance, and cursed the bright light of the braziers shining in his face.

The boy reappeared with two goblets of red frothy liquid, and Thorin busied himself with extracting money from his pouch. If he wasn't so startled at the comment, he would have been angry at the boy's audaciousness, and at his embarrassment.

'I was joking, sir!' he added, noticing Thorin's fumbling with the coins, yet carrying on as though this was perfectly reasonable, he added, 'but a few more of these and you never know!'

The lad threw a look over at where Gloin was sitting, and winked again at Thorin, who gripped the goblets until his knuckles were white.

His 'thank you' came out as a whisper, and deciding that to elaborate on the situation further was out of the question, he turned on his heel and strode back to the table.

 

'A few more and you never know'. Thorin had no more instigated flirting with another man than attempted to fly. He certainly didn't want to try it now if his reaction to the mere thought of it was silent stupidity. Besides, he hardly knew him apart from the briefest of meetings, and as he reached Gloin's turned back once more this evening, he decided that to even entertain the idea of more than a friendship was out of the question. He had never given much thought to a future with anyone, but perhaps, once he'd reclaimed the kingdom of Erebor, he would settle for a partner of similar standing and one that would be welcomed by his family and close friends. A lord from another House, perhaps, to regulate the affairs of the kingdom with him. If he could find one, that was.

 

He sat down and handed the goblet to Gloin, who gratefully accepted it. His dark hazel-coloured eyes closed in contentment as he took a long sip. Throwing caution to the winds, Thorin took a large draught of his own- and was pleased to find snakebite wasn't as bad as he was expecting, and actually quite sweet. He set down the goblet and wiped the foam from his mouth with a sleeve, and noticed Gloin was watching him. Their eyes met, and once again, all coherent thought deserted him, as his insides twisted uncomfortably. He felt like kicking himself hard to regain his senses.

 

This will not do, Thorin thought to himself angrily, pushing a barrage of inappropriate thoughts out of his mind. As the boy had said, Gloin was popular- tonight, he could be with anyone he wanted. He was sure Gloin wouldn't have felt obliged to entertain his company had he not been Thrain's son.

 

The night lengthened, and they drank together, making small conversation which Thorin valiantly tried to keep up, aided by numerous pints of different concoctions that had recieved Gloin's recommendation. He forced himself to put all wayward thoughts out of his mind and to enjoy himself, for tomorrow he would travel back to the Mountains. Gloin would be staying here a while longer, as he had materials and customers to source for his father, and Thorin was silently pleased he wouldn't be accompanying him on the journey. As the dawn drew nearer, although he couldn't see it, he longed to be alone in the wild once more, with space to think, away from Gloin and from the threat of being tempted into something he was sure his father would disprove most highly of if he got wind.

 

                                                                                                            ***

 

The pale light barely touched the street below, on which Thorin sat. He was almost sleeping, and was sure he'd never been this drunk in his life. He was also sure he couldn't find his way back to his room at the Prancing Pony without some form of magic to guide his feet back up the labyrinth of streets. Feeling his pockets, he realised he had spent all the money he'd taken with him. Taking comfort in the fact he had no valuables on him, he slid further down the wall into a recess, and closed his eyes, his final thoughts before he plunged into unconsciousness pleading with Mahal for the rats to leave him be.

 

 

 

TBC