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Mahal's Folly

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“Captain, Red Patrol reporting back, General” Amayla stood at attention.

“You are late. We expected you yesterday, Captain. Proceed,” replied the white-haired dwarf.

“Nothing significant to report, sir. No orc signs at all.”

“Then why were you late?”

Amayla smiled and sat down, “Only good news Ardru,” and the old dwarf relaxed knowing Amayla would only refer to him by name outside of official business. “We saw Haimla, and she had three healthy cubs with her!”

“Three?! That is good news.”

“That’s why we were late. She and the cubs were out in the meadow near the bend of Blue creek – the one to the west of the rapids. We didn’t want to disturb her and there was no way around. So we made it to the blind in the old oak grove and waited her out there. By the time the way was clear, it was nearly sunset, so we spent the night. I’m famished!”

Ardru pushed his half-eaten plate of ham and bread her way and glanced wistfully at the female warrior. Amayla busily made herself a small sandwich, eating greedily before noticing Ardru’s expression.

“What did I miss?”

“The letter arrived just after you left on patrol.”

“What letter?”

“The letter that I’ve been dreading since he visited last fall.”

“From Thorin Oakenshield?” Amayla whispered. “Is it time?”

“Yes, my daughter, it is time.”

“You will allow me to go?”

“Is there any way I can stop you?”

“He is our King; it is our home. I must go.”

“If only I could go in your place, or send another.”

“Father, we’ve talked about this. Your time for such adventures has passed. You served Thror honorably. Your duty now lies with protecting this village and its dwarves. And the only other warrior worthy of the opportunity is Galen, and with the baby due in a few months, he won’t leave Sarna, nor should he when I am perfectly willing to go.”

“There is Terssu.”

“Please father, do not dishonor me by comparing me to Terssu. He was the best choice for captain, but that does not mean he is my equal.”

“I will miss you daughter.”

“And I you, father. But have no worries. Mahal willing, I will be back in a year and will escort you myself back to Erebor.” She laid a kiss on her father’s forehead as a single tear fell down his cheek.

“Here is the letter.”

“Dammit! This letter was written almost three weeks ago, asking to meet up in Hobbiton in a month. That only gives me 8 days to make a trip that should take me 2 weeks! Mahal curse the slow mail here!”

“Gather your things. I’ll have your pony saddled. There’ll be no time for long good-byes. I’ll pass on your regards to the garrison. GO CHILD!”

It took Amayla less than two hours to be on her way. As she gathered her weapons and training sword, Galen stopped by with a plate of food. “Didn’t think you had a chance to eat since you’ve been back. You need something before you leave.” “Thanks,” was her reply as she stuffed a sausage into her mouth.

Galen slumped into a chair, “It should be me going.”

“No Galen, it shouldn’t. You have a family here, a good life, and my honorary niece or nephew on the way. Besides, the garrison should be represented by its FINEST warrior!” Amayla smiled down to her best friend.

“And that’s why I said that I should be going,” Galen smirked back. “Oh, you might want this for the trip,” he continued throwing a bag of coins at her.

Amayla caught the bag in midair, before testing its weight. “Wow, do you think I’ll need this much?” she questioned.

Galen just shrugged, “Ardru said to give it to you.”

“Ardru,” she whispered, “Galen, you must promise me to watch over him, he’s ….”

Reaching over to give her a hug, Galen just whispered back, “I know and I will.”

Her good-bye to Ardru was brief but intense. Father and daughter stood in silence, foreheads touching, tears flowing for a moment, but Amayla felt it lasted for hours. Finally, it was Ardru who took her face in his hands and placed a final kiss on her forehead. “Be strong, my daughter.” “I love you father.” With that, Amayla mounted her pony and rode away.

Amayla followed the Lune river south until the eastern fork joined in. As it was early spring, the weather kept getting nicer the further south she went. Bulbs were poking out of the warming earth and animals were emerging from hibernation, making food fairly easy for Amayla to gather or hunt. Fish was readily available in the river, but Amayla was in too much of a hurry to stop and fish, and fish was never one of her favorite foods for that matter. When all else failed, she could always eat some of the jerky she brought along, but hoped to use it only as a last resort. The new spring grass was perfect for her pony Tigr, a chestnut stallion with blond tail and mane. There were also plenty of trees for Tigr to rest under and Amayla to rest in.

But as they left the river on the sixth day and headed east, rain clouds were ever present. While Amalya was grateful there was no serious storms to halt them, the going was much slower as Tigr had to slog through the mud. And trees were few and far between allowing for very little cover. The best she could do for cover at night was some rock outcrops that allowed her to rest up off the mud. There were also small pools of water for both dwarf and pony to drink.

It was finally on the morning of the eighth day that the weather cleared and Amayla could see the change in the landscape. The land was greener, small streams were everywhere. She had never been in the Shire before or met a Hobbit, but she knew from the stories that Ardru told her that she was getting close. As the sun started to set, she came across her first hobbit farm. She heard the young hobbits before laying eyes of them. As she got close, the three younglings stared at her from afar. The youngest finally making the decision to scream, turning and running to the farmhouse. The next oldest quickly and just as loudly, followed suit. But the last young hobbit just stood and stared at the dwarf. Amayla decided it would be prudent to approach the child on foot, dismounting and leaving her sword on Tigr.

“Are you a dwarf?” the young hobbit asked walking along with Amayla but keeping a fair distance away.

“Yes I am. Are you a hobbit?”

“Yes. I’ve never seen a dwarf before.”

“And I’ve never seen a hobbit.”

“What’s your name?”

“Amayla, what’s yours.”

“Foldram. That’s a nice pony. What’s her name?”

“HIS name is Tigr, he’s a boy pony,” Amayla chuckled at the youngster.

“Can I ride him?”

“Hmmm, I think we better ask you mother permission to do that, but you could hold his reins.”

Foldram’s eyes grew wide and he puffed out his chest as he walked closer and proudly took hold of Tigr. “What are you doing here?”

“I am meeting some of kin nearby. Any chance you know where Hobbiton is?”

“Hobbiton? Sure! ….. Well, not really. I mean I’ve been there before, with my family for the Harvest Fair. But I don’t really know how to get there, yet. My mother knows. You can ask her.”

“Do you think she’ll talk to me?”

“Sure, she’s really nice. Come on!” And Foldram started skipping down the lane.

When they reached the front walkway, Amayla asked “Why don’t you go ask your mother to come out while I tie up Tigr.” Amayla also took a moment to tie her throwing axes onto Tigr also.

A curtain in the side window moved and Amayla saw an older Hobbit female peek out. Amayla smiled and waved slightly trying to look as unassuming as possible. After a few moments, the front door opened with little Foldram pulling his mother out by her hand. Amayla had to smile when she saw the heavy frying pan in her hand.

Amayla took the opportunity to bow, hands extended to show that they were empty, “Amayla, at your service.”

“See ma, I told you she was nice,” chirped Foldram.

“What do you want?” Foldram’s mother stated harshly.

“Mistress Hobbit, I am simply on my way to Hobbiton. I’m meeting some kin there. My map is lacking in details. It has gotten me this far, but I am in need for more detailed directions to get to my final destination.”

“What’s your business in Hobbiton?”

“Just meeting up with some fellow dwarfs at the home of …. Let me see here .. a master Bilbo Baggins. You wouldn’t be chance know him, would you?”

“As a matter of fact, he’s a distant relation. But why would a group of dwarves be meeting at Bag End?”

“Bag End?”

“That’s Bilbo’s home.”

“Oh, well, I honestly have no idea why we are meeting there. You would have to ask Gandalf the Grey about that. I’m just following directives.”

At that name, Foldram squeaked, “Gandalf the Wizard? You know him? He has the best fire works! Always shoots them off at the harvest fair!”

“Well if Gandalf is involved, perhaps you are respectable. I’ll give you directions. Here, give me the map. I’ll put all the details on it.” The Hobbit took the map inside, nodding her head for Amalya to step inside, and walked over to a desk in the corner. It only took her a few short minutes to mark out the directions.

“Thank you most kindly, Mistress ..ummmm…” Amayla paused waiting to be given the Hobbit’s name.

“Iris Brandybuck”

“Thank you, Mistress Brandybuck. About how long do you think it will take to get there?”

“By pony, I would guess four hours.”

“Mahal! Four more hours?! I was hoping to make it there tonight.”

“I would not suggest that Miss Amayla. It’s a cloudy night; in fact, I think we’re in for more rain. You’ll never find all the right turns in the dark.”

“Can she stay here Ma?” asked Foldram looking up with his big brown puppy dog eyes.

“Oh no, I couldn’t possible intrude in your home,” insisted Amayla saving Iris from answering, “but I saw your barn back there. I would be most appreciative if you’d let me bed down there with my pony. I’ll pay you of course. It’s been several weeks since I’ve had a roof over my head. I’ll be out at first light.”

Iris didn’t know why exactly she decided that she could trust the dwarf. Maybe it was because she had never seen a female dwarf before or maybe it was because the dwarf was going to visit Bilbo, but most likely it was the excitement in her son’s dark eyes. Always looking for an adventure, here was one that had come to him. “Fine, you can stay in the barn. And I won’t be accepting any money from you. Far be it from me to have a relative say that I didn’t welcome one of his guests. Foldram, show her to the barn and the well. You’re welcome to share our supper.”

“Can I ride her pony to the barn ma?” Foldram tried for even more, “Amayla said I could if you gave me permission.”

Amayla smiled down at Foldram and reassured Iris, “He’s very gentle and I’ll keep the lad’s hands away from all my weapons.”

Iris smiled and nodded her permission.

Foldram clapped with glee and ran down to where Tigr was tied up. He started to climb up the post next to the pony attempting to climb onto the saddle.

“Hold up there Master Foldram!” Amayla shouted walking toward the hobbit, “Wrong side. Step on down and go to the other side. Always mount on the left.” She lifted up the young hobbit and placed him on her saddle. Tigr tossed his head at the strange load on his back. “Give him a pat on the neck and talk to him gently,” Amayla encouraged him, “Hold on tight to the pommel. I’ll lead him.”

Amayla started towards the back of the house. She looked up to see Foldram grinning madly and waving. Standing at the door was Iris with two small hobbit lasses hanging on to her skirt. Both had huge dark eyes and open mouths as they watched their brother riding a strange pony.

It took a few minutes to reach the barn but Foldram’s smile never faded. Amayla led Tigr into an empty stall next to a black and white cow who only raised her eyes briefly before continuing to chew her cud. “Slide on down, big man!” Amayla called as she reached for Foldram.

“I’m not a man, I’m a hobbit!”

Amayla tossled his curly hair and chuckled. “Show me the well please, Master Hobbit!”

Foldram grabbed a bucket and led Amayla out the door, pointing at the well. “I can fetch it all by myself!” he bragged.

Amayla kept smiling as she started to remove her gear from Tigr. It felt good to be under cover in a place where she knew she could sleep unimpeded. She was worried about being a day late for the meeting but could only hope that she could catch up tomorrow. Foldram came in struggling with the full bucket but managed to pour it into Tigr’s trough without spilling too much. “Can you fill it once more for me please. I’d like to clean up before super. I think your mother would prefer that.”

“Yes, she always makes me wash up before we eat.” Foldram answered somberly.

Amalya tied up Tigr on a long lead that allowed him to start eating the oats Amayla had poured out for him. After checking his hooves, Amayla started brushing him down, humming a dwarvish tune as she went along.

“Can I help” asked Foldram.

“How about you brush his tail. He’ll like that. Just remember to stay at his side, not directly behind him. Don’t want you to get kicked.” Foldram found a brush and proudly started workig on Tigr’s tail.

“Miss Amayla, are all those weapons really yours?”

“Yes, they are.”

“Are you really a warrior?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I didn’t know girls could be warriors.”

“They can.”

“I want to be a warrior and go on adventures. I read about them all the time, but I’m stuck on this farm.”

“Well my dear lad, warriors have to be smart and strong. So you keep reading and keep working hard on the farm to build up your strength and maybe you can be a warrior. But I’ll tell you a little secret,” Amayla bent to whisper to Foldram, “Sometimes I wish I had a nice home like this instead of a smelly old barracks.”

Foldram looked at her like she was crazy.

“You’ve done a fine job on Tigr’s tail. You go run inside and wash up while I wash up out here. I’ll see you inside in a few minutes.”

With Foldram gone, Amayla took the opportunity to strip out of her clothes and give each piece a good brushing. While she didn’t have the time to wash them, at least she got rid of most of the dust and dried mud. She took special care of her boots so she wouldn’t track mud into the house. Using a separate bowl of water, she was able to soap up, scrub down, and rinse off her entire body. She took out her single braid and brushed out her plain brown hair too before retying it in the same simple style. Mahal, it feels good to be at least this clean! she thought as she redressed and headed back to the house.

Foldram had been watching for her and flung open the door as soon as she turned the corner around the house. “She’s here, she’s here!” he shouted.

The house was small and well appointed. There was a warm fire blazing in the hearth. The living room was full of well-made wooden furniture, with a second room taken up by a beautiful wooden table inlaid with various different woods the center of which appeared to be a small garden of irises. The table was laden with platters of food ranging from ham, sausages, whole small fish (which Amayla was planning on passing on) as well as cheeses, pickled vegetables, and piles of what appeared to be fresh rolls. It was only at special feasts that Amayla had ever seen such a varied spread. “Are there more coming?” ask Amayla amazed by the large quantities.

“Welcome, Miss dwarf, and no, there is only us here. My husband is away helping to repair a bridge that was washed out in the last heavy storm we had a week back. He’s a fine carpenter as well as a farmer.”

“That explains the beautiful furniture. Did he make it all?”

“Yes, over the winters, he usually makes a piece or two.”

“He is quite gifted. This is the most beautiful table I’ve ever seen.” Amayla smiled, “Now is there something I can do to help with supper? Is smells wonderful.”

“Just getting the butter now, and we are all set. Please sit.”

“Here, sit next to me Amayla.” Foldram grabbed her hand and led her to a seat on one side of the table.

The two younger hobbits sat across from Amayla and Foldram and shyly looked at her. Foldram spoke up, “These are my sisters: Flora and Petal.” Amayla smiled at them all.

Iris sat at the foot of the table. Obviously, the head of the table was left for the children’s father. “Please help yourself from that platters and pass them around. We don’t stand on much ceremony.”

The dinner was most pleasant. The food was delicious and Amayla was able to avoid eating the fish without Iris noticing. Foldram peppered Amayla with questions between bites of food. Amayla told stories about bears, and cubs, and dwarf feasts, while avoiding any tales of orcs so as to not frighten the young hobbits.

“I hope you left some room for some fruit cake for dessert,” Iris grinned as she stood to go to the kitchen. “Cake!! Yay!!” yelled the children. “There’s more?” groaned Amayla. “I couldn’t eat another bite. How did we possibly eat all that you served for dinner?”

Iris just laughed, “You don’t know much about Hobbits do you? We love our food!”

“Well honestly, I’m certain that your cake is wonderful, but I am not used to such treats or such quantities of food, and I do not want to be sick. So I must decline your most gracious offer and really need to head off to sleep if I am going to be off at first light. Let me help with the dishes first?”

“You can help me clear the table, but that’s all. You look tired and need to get up early. You should go to sleep.”

Amayla gave a tired smile and turned to Foldram. “Come on young hobbit. Even warriors have to help with the dishes.”

When the dishes were cleared away, Amayla gave a hug good-bye to all the girls and Iris. Iris handed Amayla a small package, “Something for you to eat in the morning. And please give Bilbo my warmest regards.”

She knelt down to Foldram and wrapped her arms around him. “Come back and visit please?” he whimpered.

“I promise,” and she gave him a gentle bump to his forehead. “That’s how dwarf warriors say good-bye.”

Chapter Text

When the first light of dawn shone through a crack in the barn, Amayla sprung from her bed in the hay. She had slept well, if not overly long. She was on her way in a matter of minutes, having arranged everything the night before. Following Iris’ direction was quite easy, as the hobbit had done a wonderful job with adding specific details on the map. Tigr moved quite quickly over the soft warm ground on the Shire. The rain that had come the overnight had not been heavy and the puddles were disappearing rapidly. The ride was pleasant and Amayla found herself smiling and waving to many of the hobbits who stared opening at the swiftly moving, heavily armed dwarf.

Iris’ estimation of travel was dead-on as Amayla approached Bag-End just short of four hours later. She once again tied Tigr to the post out front and left her sword tied to his saddle. This home was much different that Foldram’s. His had been free standing, four walls and a thatched roof, much like the houses in Gorvuud. This one seemed to be built straight into a hill with sod as its roof. It was similar to most of the other houses she had seen in the Shire. Foldram’s house must be unusual around here. Spotting the mark on the green door, Amayla was certain she was at the right house, but concerned that there was no movement or sounds coming from within. Mahal - The company has already left! Hope it wasn’t too long ago. Hope this Mr. Baggins fellow knows which way they went or I’m really in trouble.

Amayla knock loudly on the door. When it opened to a frowning hobbit, Amayla bowed formally, “Amayla, at your service.”

“You’re late! They’ve already left,” said the clearly flustered hobbit frowning.

“You are Mr. Baggins?”

“Yes, yes. Bilbo Baggins, at your service,” sighed Bilbo extremely loudly.

“Iris Brandbuck sends you her warmest regards,” started Amayla hoping that words from his relative would calm the obviously stressed hobbit.

“You know Iris?”

“Yes. I most lovely lady with adorable children. Unfortunately, I did not meet her husband. She was quite hospitable to me.”

Bilbo took the hint about hospitality and motioned for Amayla to come in. “I assume you are with the other Dwarves and Gandalf, but as you can see, they already left and I did not join them.”

“Were you supposed to join them?” That surprised Amalya.

“Well yes, Gandalf had insisted that I would make a good burgler. Although why he said that, I’m sure I have no idea. Did you know they are setting off to face a dragon?”

“Aye, and reclaim our home. Speaking of which, yours is quite nice. It would seem that hobbits are quite excellent carpenters,” Amayla said looking around noticing the maps on the walls.

“Umm, thank you. It’s been in the family for generations.”

“Why did Gandalf think you would make a good burgler may I ask?”

“He remembered me from my days as a youth. I used to be quite the daring lad, running off on adventures around the shire, looking for Elves and slaying make-believe orcs . . . staying out late, coming home dirty.”

“Reminds me of young Foldram Brandybuck. He wants to be a warrior when he grows up.”

“Aye, that’s the Took in him. He’s a Took on his mother’s side, as am I. That’s how we’re related.”

“Took?”

“Tooks are adventurous hobbits, not the best reputations you see. We Baggins are respectable . . . never doing anything unexpected.” Amayla caught the wistfulness in his voice as he said that. It was definitely regret.

“I know if Foldram was given an opportunity to go on an adventure, he wouldn’t hesitate.”

“Well, yes . . . “ Bilbo didn’t finish, just looked out the window.

“So how long ago did the Dwarves leave, if I may ask? And did they say which way they were going?”

Bilbo came out of his daydream and turned to Amayla. “They were gone shortly after sun up. They were headed into Bywater to buy some ponies. And then they were off toward the East Road.”

“Bywater,” said Amayla pulling out her map again. “Can you give me directions on how to get there quickly? My map isn’t the most detailed. Iris was most helpful in giving me to directions to get here.”

Bilbo looked at her map. Walking to his desk, he started marking it up, trying to explain the shortcuts.

“You could come with me,” she whispered, not even looking at Bilbo. “It doesn’t seem like they are too far ahead. We could catch them today.”

Amayla stayed still as she watched the hobbit struggle with his own thoughts and feelings.

Finally giving up, she walked over and took the map from out from under his hands, “It should be a most wonderful adventure – and thank you for this.” With that, she walked out the door.

Amayla purposely took her time adjusting her sword and untying Tigr, double checking his saddle and harness. Instead of mounting, she led him away from Bag-End walking at an easy pace. It wasn’t fifteen minutes later when she heard him, “Wait, Wait! I’m coming too!” Amayla turned to see the hobbit, running barefoot, dressed in a green vest, red top coat, knapsack on his back, carrying a very long document in his hand. She stopped, smiled and waved.

“Let’s mount up and catch up to the company!” Amayla said brightly when Bilbo caught up. She quickly climbed up on Tigr.

“Mount up? No, no. I’m fine walking, thank you!”

“We will never catch up to the others with you walking, so up you go!” She grabbed Bilbo and helped him settle behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Hold on tight!” Amayla snapped the reins and Tigr took off at a slow trot.

After a short time, Amayla could feel Bilbo overcome his fears and begin to relax. He spoke up, “Would you mind slowing down for a minute so I could put this contract away, please?”

Amayla slowed down Tigr. “What’s the contract for.”

“It’s a contract to join the company. Lists my share of the treasure, funeral arrangements, things like that. Don’t you have one?” he asked while rolling up the contract and putting it into his coat pocket.

“No, don’t need one. I’m a warrior. I am just fulfilling my duty to my king and my father. I’m not looking for any treasure.”

“Take the right here. So, are you kin to the company?”

Amayla directed Tigr and resumed their speed.

“No. My blood kin all died when the dragon attacked. I am called “daughter of Erebor.” I was adopted by Ardru, who was King Thror’s general. We relocated to the northern edge of Ered Luin where he raised me to be a warrior like him.”

“Ered Luid? That’s the Blue mountains, right?”

“Yes. I lived in a place called Gorvuud. In a forest to the north.”

“You lived in a forest? I thought that dwarves lived in mountains or underground.”

“That’s true. Most do. And there were some homes within the mountains next to the forest. But I lived in the garrison outside the mountain. The mountains weren’t very good for mining, so the dwarves of Gorvuud were farmers mostly. We had to feed ourselves. The garrison’s job was to keep the fields safe. My father wanted to be the first line of defense against orc attacks on the Blue Mountains.”

“So you are a warrior, like your father?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve never met a female warrior before, or a female dwarf for that matter.”

“There aren’t many of us, female dwarves I mean. There is only about one female for every three males born. A few of us do chose to be warriors. It’s a perfectly respectable profession. And you might have met a female dwarf and never known it. Other races have difficulty telling us apart at times. Females can have beards as great as any male. Not me though, as you can see!”

“Take the right branch here. The East Road is on the other side of that small forest.”

“How much time did we cut off, do you reckon?”

“At least an hour.”

“Good, then when we hit the East Road, I’m going to let Tigr gallop a bit. Be prepared!”

The two made it through the forest and Amayla let Tigr gallop as promised. It only took about 20 minutes before they spotted a line of dwarves riding ponies ahead of them.

“Wait! Halloooooo! Gandalf!!! Wait!!! Stop!!” both Amayla and Bilbo shouted until they got the dwarves attention.

When they reached the dwarves, Bilbo scrambled down and ran forward to Balin and Thorin. He pulled out his contract and waved it around proudly, “I signed it!”

Balin took the contract, reviewed it, and nodded to Thorin before turning to Bilbo, “Welcome, to the company of Thorin Oakenshield.”

“Give him a pony!” instructed Thorin.

“And you lassie?” Balin asked quizzically. Amyala smiled at Balin and dismounted, walking up to Thorin. Dropping to one knee, she unsheathed her sword and stabbed it into the ground in front of her. “I, Amayla, daughter of Erebor, Heir to Ardru, Captain of the Gorvuud Garrison, pledge you my sword and all weapons to the fulfillment of your quest to reclaim Erebor. I am yours to command, my King.”

Dwalin, sitting next to Thorin, muttered in disdain, “Ardru sent us a female? Has the old dwarf completely lost it?” At that remark, Amayla rose to her feet and stood at attention. Reaching into her coat, Amayla pulled out a rolled parchment and handed it to Thorin. “From GENERAL Ardru, my king, he sends his regards and my recommendation.” Turning her gaze to Dwalin, she continued, “You are Dwalin, son of Fundin, are you not?” Dwalin grunted yes. “I recognize you based on my father’s description. Tell me Dwalin, do you question the military decisions of Ardru, General to Thror? Do you think that he would send HIS heir on a journey to protect HIS king and reclaim HIS birthplace if he was not certain that she was more than capable? While his legs are not as strong and his arms cannot swing an axe as in the past, I can assure you that my FATHER’S mind is as sharp as it has ever been, far sharper than you could ever hope to be!”

“Stand down, Amayla” Thorin spoke with voice slightly raised. “I assure you that no one is offering insult to your father. He trained me as a dwarfling. No one has more respect for Ardru than I. It’s just that we are surprised to have a dam with us. There was another from the garrison that we were expecting.”

“Yes, Galen. He is a fine warrior and my EQUAL in many ways, but he has a family with a baby on the way. I have only Ardru. It was my honor to come.” Amayla continued on, “Your majesty, I was raised at the garrison for as long as I can remember. There have only been a few dams that have joined and none remained more than a few years. I have patrolled with dwarrows for over sixty years. My sex will not be a problem.”

Thorin stared at Amayla and finally nodded, “Balin, give her a contract.”

Amayla scrunched her face in confusion, “A contract for what?”

Balin began, “You are now a member of the company of Thorin Oakenshield, entitled to a share of the treasure when we reclaim Erebor. And there are a few other minor details . . .”

“Share of the treasure? But I am here at my King’s command. I am here to serve and protect, not for treasure. I am a NOT a mercenary and take offense at such a suggestion!” Amayla interrupted heatedly.

Balin looked to Thorin for instructions. “Amayla, I am not yet your king. You are not obliged to serve me.”

“You are Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, you are my king and I serve you of my volition. I ask only for fair wages when our quest is complete.”

“Agreed, but only if you stop calling me “King” as I cannot rightly claim that title until we retake the mountain. Until then, please call me Thorin.”

“Agreed your majest .. . . I’m mean Thorin.”

“Ride on!” shouted Thorin and the company resumed their travels.

Chapter Text

Amayla spent much of the day working her way up the line, introducing herself and talking to each member of the company, other than Dwalin and Thorin, finally reaching Balin.

 

“So you met everyone Lassie?”

 

“Yep, and I think I have everyone down.  Let me see if I can do it:  the Princes are Fili and Kili, Fili is the blond and uses twin swords.  Kili is the dark one and uses a bow.  Very interesting.  Bofur has the hat, a miner, uses a mattock.  Bifur, toymaker, speaks Iglishmek and Kudzuhl only, boar spear.  Bombur, cook and axe.  Oin, healer, battle staff.  Gloin, with the amazing beard, axe.  Dori, tailor, uses a sword.  Nori, not sure what his trade is, staff.  Ori, their brother, uses a sling-shot, which worries me.  And then there’s Thorin, who uses an axe and an oaken shield, and Dwalin, warrior, looks like he prefers a war hammer and axes.  Finally, there is you good sir! According to Ardru, you prefer sword or mace.” She paused to catch her breath, “How’d I do?”

 

“Very Well Amayla!  Impressive.  Although I must say that I prefer words to swords, if at all possible.”

 

“Can’t say that I’ve ever encountered an orc who was willing to talk things out.”

 

“Right you are there.  For orcs, I do prefer swords.  So tell me, how is the General?”

 

“He’s 381 years old, mind still as sharp as ever, but his body is …. slowing down.” Amayla’s voice started to crack. “I really want him to see Erebor again.  I’m just not sure that ….. that he could make the trip.”

 

Balin reached out to pat Amayla’s hands, “Then we’ll just have to waste no time retaking the mountain.”

 

Amayla smiled at the old dwarf, wiping away a single tear that fell.

 

The rest of the day was most pleasant.  The land was still populated here and there and there appeared to be no real threats as of yet.  Amayla spent much of the time talking to Gandalf as he seemed to want to learn as much as he could about her.  Amayla could tell that she was being interrogated, but Gandalf was asking in such an enjoyable manner that Amayla did not mind.  And because she had nothing to hide, it didn’t bother her in the least.

 

When Thorin finally called a halt for the night, Amayla was assigned pony duty with Fili and Kili.  They each led several ponies down to a stream to let them drink.  When they returned with the horses they quickly set out a picket line on an area of sweet green grass.  As Fili and Kili turned to leave, Amayla called to the brothers, “Lads, their feet.”

 

“What about their feet?” Kili replied.

 

“We need to check their feet for problems before we lose the light.  Don’t want a stone to cause them to go lame, do we?  It’s part of pony duty.”  Amayla had to smile at the pouty faces the two princes made as they came back, but they both started picking up the feet of the ponies and began checking.

 

“So General Ardru is your father?” asked Fili.

 

“Uncle has told us stories about him,” added Kili.

 

“Yes, Ardru is my adopted father.  I was orphaned by Smaug as an dwarfling and Ardru raised me.  He is an incredible Dwarf.  Settled up in Gorvuud so he could be the first line of defense against any orc raids on the Blue Mountains.”

 

“Have you fought many orcs?” asked Kili somewhat in awe.

 

“Yes,” was the simple answer.  “All done?  I’m hungry.  Let’s go see what for dinner.”

 

Dinner wouldn’t be ready for about a half hour so Amayla made her way to Thorin who was talking with Dwalin.  “Thorin, with your permission, I’ll go up and have a look-about.  Double check that there is nothing of any concern,” Amayla stated while looking for permission.  “I’ve scouted around, the area is clear,” replied Dwalin gruffly.  Amayla ignored Dwalin and continued to wait for Thorin’s response.  “Up where?” asked Thorin.  Amayla pointed to a stand of large fir trees a little bit away, “One of those.  Standard procedure for our patrols.  When possible, climb the tallest tree and look around.”  Thorin nodded his consent, “Take someone with you.”  “Of course, your . . .Thorin.”  Amayla heard Dwalin’s harrumph as she turned, causing her to shake her head.

  

Amayla caught Bifur’s eye as she looked for someone to spot her.  Using Iglishmek, she asked him to accompany her.  He jumped up and followed her.  Amayla was quite comfortable in Iglishmek as it was very useful out on patrol when not wanting to disturb animals or for ambushing orcs.  Amayla explained that she needed a boost up to the lower branches so that she could climb up to look around.  “It is too dangerous,” Bifur signed looking concerned.  “No worries,” Amayla signed back, “just give me a boost please!”  Bifur frowned but put his hands together under the lowest branch and gave Amayla the boost she needed.

 

It was an easy tree to climb, so it only took Amayla a few minutes to reach the highest point she dared.  She had a fairly clear view of miles around.  The sun was starting to set, sending out streams of yellows and pinks through the layers of clouds.  There was nothing of concern to Amayla.  She saw a small plume of smoke, but could follow it down to a distant farm house.  Birds were circling and landing in trees all around.  Frogs and insects were starting their nighttime choruses.  All was well, so Amayla started the climb back down.  When she reached the lowest branch, Bifur asked if she needed him to catch her.  She shook her head no, swung herself down and simply jumped the last several feet.  Bifur slapped her on the back and smiled at her.  “Let’s go eat!” he signed.

 

Bombur dished out the rabbit stew he had been working on and everyone grabbed a bowl and sat around the fire, eating and talking.  As they finished, Thorin announced the nighttime guard duty schedule.  When he didn’t include her in the list, Amayla tensed and frowned.  She took her bowl back to Bilbo who was doing the dishes and asked Thorin for a word in private.  “I am perfectly capable of standing guard duty, Thorin,” spat out Amayla, tensing visibly.

 

“Relax Amayla, it is no mark of your capability that I did not assign you the night watch tonight.”

 

“Then WHY?” she responded angrily.

 

“Amayla, you made a trip from Ered Luin in nine days that should have taken over two weeks - alone.  I can only imagine how little sleep you’ve had.  Believe me, I will be assigning you night watch, probably tomorrow.  But tonight, you need to rest.  What is it that your father said about sleep?  When rest is free and safe, take it.”

 

At the words of her father, Amayla relaxed and smiled, “I cannot argue with my own father. Thank you Thorin.”

 

Amayla walked into the woods to take care of her business before returning to the fire and starting to lay out her bedroll.  She couldn’t help but notice Thorin and Dwalin talking rather heatedly beyond the fire on the other side, but couldn’t hear what they were saying.  Moments later, Dwalin’s heavy boots came stomping up beside her.  “Lass, could I speak to you a moment, in private?”  

 

What in Mahal’s name was this going to be about? She followed behind Dwalin taking note of the bald dwarf.  She’d never seen a bald dwarf before. I wonder what those tattoos mean.  He’s tall, maybe taller than Thorin, wonder which one is taller.  Very broad, with arms like tree trunks, muscular tree trunks.  Obviously, a seasoned warrior. Wonder what it would be like to spar with him.

  

Dwalin stopped short and Amayla ran right into his back.  “Oops, sorry,” she muttered. 

 

Dwalin turned, looking rather sheepish and rubbing his bald head, “I owe you an apology.  What I said when you arrived.  I shouldn’t have that about you without giving you a chance first.”

 

Amayla looked hard at Dwalin for a moment, “Did Thorin make you say that to me?”

 

“Aye, and Balin. He’s always after me to think before I speak.”

 

“Well, you don’t owe ME an apology and I don’t want one. You do owe ARDRU an apology, and Mahal willing, when this journey is successful, you will have the opportunity to deliver it.  Don’t worry about me.  I know that’s it’s your duty to assess all the members in the company.  It’s just that’s it’s been a long time since anyone has questioned my abilities, much less because of my sex.  But it doesn’t matter.  I won’t be doing anything special to prove myself.  I will do whatever duties Thorin or you assign me and use my training to help this company in all ways.”  Smiling wickedly, and walking up to put her face next to bald dwarf, Amayla continued whispering into his ear, “If you are smart, you’ll figure out my worth soon enough and learn to trust me.  If not, I’m SURE that Thorin is smart enough to give me your position.” With that, Amayla gently patted Dwalin on the cheek and walked away.

 

Startled, Dwalin watched the dam as she headed back to camp.  She is well built.  Arms look good, strong.  Nice ass.  Probably a good warrior, for a female.  Wonder what it would be like to spar with her?

Chapter Text

The next few days were rather unremarkable.  The weather was fair, so they were able to travel easily and far.  The company began to fall into patterns and roles.  Bilbo helped Bombur out with much of the cooking and Amayla usually helped the princes take care of the ponies.  Amayla discovered Fili’s affinity for knives and the two often enjoyed throwing contests and discussing the finer points of hiding knives on one’s body.  True to his word, Thorin used Amayla consistently on night watches.  She and Bilbo were becoming fast friends and both were getting to know all the dwarves much better.  At night, they exchanged stories or sang songs, enjoying the warming weather and clear star-filled skies.

 

 

One one such night, Amayla noticed Ori scribbling in a journal and asked what he was writing. 

 

“I’m writing about our journey.  Keeping a history of it.  Speaking of which, would you mind answering a few questions?”

 

“Sure, go right ahead.”

 

“You are a daughter of Erebor, so you were born there.  How old are you?”

 

“I am 153.  I was a toddler when Smaug attacked.  It is possible that I’m really 154 as I don’t know my actual birthday.”

 

“And your name, I’ve never heard a name like yours.  What does it mean?”

 

Amayla chuckled, “It means  - one who is too little to say her name correctly.”

 

“What??”

 

“My mother, and maybe my father, was killed by falling rocks when Smaug attacked.  Ardru found me and pulled me out of my mother’s arms.  He tried asking my name and the best he figured I was saying was Amayla.  Over the years, my guess is that I was saying something about my Amad, but Ardru went with Amayla, so that’s my name.”

 

“And General Ardru raised you?”

 

“Aye.  He carried me out of Erebor.  He couldn’t find anyone who knew me, so he just kept me.  But Dis helped raise me too.”

 

At the mention of his sister, Thorin perked up, “You were one of Dis’ dwarflings?”

 

“Aye, I was.” Amayla smiled back. 

 

“Our amad raised you?” Fili asked amazed.

 

“She helped.  Ardru kept me with him as much as possible, but often times he would leave me with Dis.  She was in her fourties, I believe, and helped with many of the orphans.  I remember there was a whole gaggle of us running around at times.  We never had much to eat, but we always had a lot of fun.  What I remember most is Dis being very nice to us.”

 

“That almost makes you our sister!  But why did we never meet you growing up?” Kili asked, fascinated at almost having the warrior as a family member.

 

“Azanulbizar happened.” She replied softly.  “You know that story.  When we finally settled in the Blue Mountains, Ardru took me with him to Gorvuud and I grew up there.”

 

“And you are not married?” asked Ori, wanting to get back to having his questions answered. 

 

“No.”

 

At that, Kili piped up.  “Why not?”

 

Fili whacked his brother upside his head.  “Kee, you can’t ask that!”

 

“Why not?  Amayla is pretty enough and she’s a great warrior.  Somebody should want to court her.”

 

Amayla chuckled and shook her head as the rest of the company groaned at Kili’s remarks. 

 

“Thank you Kili. I’m going to take that as a compliment.  And I never said that I hadn’t been courted.  Just not married.”

 

“So why not?” Kili continued insistently.

 

“Kili!”   Thorin bellowed at his nephew.  “Amayla, I apologize for my nephew.  It is none of his business.”

 

“I don’t mind.  Its actually a funny story.”

 

“See, Amayla doesn’t mind,” Kili muttered defensively. 

 

“Here’s the story.  Growing up, I had a best friend, Galen, whom I believe you met when you visited Gorvuud.  We did everything together, learned to fight, learned to track, everything.  We were inseparable.  Everyone, including us, believed that when the time came, we would court and marry.  Ardru finally agreed that on my 95th naming day, that our official courting could begin.  All the papers were drawn up and everything was in order.  So, my naming day comes and during the celebration, Galen and I sneak off by ourselves to officially seal the courtship.”

 

“Lassie, should we be hearing this?” Dori asked, concerned about Ori. 

 

“Don’t worry Dori, there’s nothing graphic.   Believe me, Ardru was very strict.  Anyway, Galen and I decided that it was time to kiss, so we snuck out by ourselves and had our first kiss.  I was expecting fireworks.  You know, all the things that are supposed to happen when you kiss your one.” 

 

Amayla paused for a moment. 

 

“And then?” Kili asked, eyes wide. 

 

“And then – nothing!  Nothing happened.  Actually, less than nothing.  The kiss was awful, almost repulsive,” Amayla said smiling. 

 

“So he wasn’t your one,” Dwalin asked although it was more like a statement. 

 

“No.  He wasn’t.  It was rather shocking to both of us.  And then we were sad.  Although not as sad as his father and Ardru.  I think they were more disappointed then Galen and I were.  But we remained best of friends.  And I always tease him that if he were a better kisser, I would have married him!”  Amayla smiled at her friends but was taken aback when nobody else seemed to be laughing. 

 

“Fellas!  Why so glum?  I thought it was a funny story.”

 

“So you are not upset that you haven’t found your one?” Ori asked. 

 

“No.  It is Mahal’s will.  Besides, now I know that if someone wants to court me, I just kiss him right away.   No need to waste any time!” 

 

“Do you want to kiss me?” Kill asked. 

 

Amayla burst out laughing, while shaking her head no.  Fili hit his brother in the head again.  Bofur fell off his log backwards laughing.  And Nori threw a clod of dirt that smacked the young prince right in the middle of his chest.  No one could stop laughing until Thorin broke up the merriment sending everyone to their bedrolls. 

 

One day the usual spring rains finally caught up with them.  Thorin called a halt so that everyone could get their rain gear out of their packs.  Amayla noticed that Bilbo hadn’t bothered to dismount and realized why, “Oh no, Bilbo don’t you have a cloak?” Looking beleaguered, all Bilbo could do was shake his head no and tighten his overcoat.  Amayla wanted to help out the some-to-be drenched hobbit, but she had nothing to give that would help.  Mounting back up, she noticed Dwaling turning his pony towards them.  She was shocked when the bald dwarf threw a bundle toward Bilbo, who barely caught it.  “Here,” was all she could make out as Dwalin mumbled his way back to the front.  Amayla smiled as Bilbo unrolled a rain cloak.  It was much too big for him and the poor hobbit struggled to roll up the sleeves and see out of the hood.  “At least you should stay dry in there!” she laughed.  Hmmm, Dwalin helped him out.  Didn’t see that coming.

 

Hours later, the rain finally stopped and Thorin called a halt for the night, “After your duties, everyone should look for dry firewood before supper.”  Amayla finished with the ponies and noticed Dwalin heading out to look for wood, so she decided to follow him.  She came across Dwalin eyeing a small tree that had obviously fallen months, if not years, before.  “The wood should be dry, but we’ll need to break it up,” he stated blankly.  “You mean you don’t want to just drag the whole thing back?” Amayla responded sarcastically.  Dwalin just gave her a look and pulled out one of his axes.  “Just trying to lighten the mood,” she said more to herself than to him, while pulling out one of her axes to join him.  They did a number on the tree and soon had enough firewood for the two of them to carry.  “That was very nice of you, giving Bilbo that cloak.”  Amayla said softly as she picked up the wood.” 

 

“It was nothing.  I had a spare.  Couldn’t let our burglar drown, could I?”

 

“My father always says that a good leader takes care of the dwarves under his command.  I guess that holds true for hobbits too, eh?” Amayla replied smiling up at Dwalin.

 

“Aye, I suppose.” Dwalin eyed Amayla suspiciously, never having received a true smile from Amayla before.

 

Dwalin’s expression caused Amayla to burst out laughing, “Relax!  That was a compliment!”

 

Dwalin just growled more, resulting in Amayla laughing harder.  Spinning on her heals and taking off, Amayla taunted Dwalin, “Betcha I can get back to camp before you!”

 

Dwalin just stood there, frowning, not certain of what he was feeling.  He just knew that he was feeling something. 

Chapter Text

 

The next day. Amalya woke up feeling restless.  She had slept fine after taking the third watch, but something was off.  She went through her normal routine, ate some breakfast, and saddled up Tigr.  The morning ride was routine, she stayed in the back with Fili and Kili, joined by Bilbo.  The conversation was amicable, with Kili telling stories of guarding trade caravans, but Amayla kept growing increasingly antsy.  She flexed and stretched but could not get comfortable. 

 

Finally, Bilbo spoke up, “What is going on with you Amayla?  You’re acting like you’re sitting on an ant hill.” 

 

“I don’t know Bilbo, I’m just on edge. I’ve never ridden this long before and I’m getting .. I don’t know how to describe it right … I’m just out of sorts.  I feel the need to hit something.” 

 

“Are you upset about something?” Bilbo asked concerned. 

 

“No, it’s not that. I just need to DO something.” 

 

“You can always hit Kili,” Fili suggested laughing. 

 

“Hey!” came his brother’s reply. 

 

“That’s not a bad idea Fili!”

 

“Wait a minute!  What did I do?  You’re not mad at me about that kiss business, are you?” Kili was getting a bit worried now.

 

“Don’t worry Kili.  Here, take Tigr’s reins.  I need to talk to your uncle and I think I’ll stretch my legs.”

 

“You’re not just giving me his reins so my hands are full, are you?” asked Kili warily.  Fili burst out laughing at his brother’s concern.

 

Amayla laughed with Fili as she started sprinting towards the front of the line.  The other dwarves were startled as she ran by.  Amayla waved them off, “Just stretching my legs!”

 

Thorin and Dwalin heard her coming and pulled up their ponies.  “What’s the matter?” asked the future king. 

 

“Nothing, nothing, keep going” Amayla assured him.  “I was just feeling a little pent up and wanted to ask you something so I took a quick run up here.”

 

“You wanted to ask something?”

 

“Yes, I guess this is for both of you,” she said looking at Dwalin too.  “Could we possibly stop an hour or so earlier tonight, and then do some sparring?  I haven’t gone this long without hitting anyone in at least 100 years and I’m starting to get a little restless. I could really use a good fight.” 

 

Thorin looked over to Dwalin.  “It has been a while,” the bald dwarf shrugged.

 

“Alright, agreed.  You can let everyone know as you go back to your pony.”

 

“Thank you Thorin!  I’ll do that.  Umm, do you want me to spar with anyone in particular?  I don’t know what your normal sparring routine is.” 

 

“Go ahead and start with Fili and Kili once you get the ponies settled.  We’ll figure out more from there.”

 

“Yes Thorin, and thank you.”  Amayla sprinted back down the line letting everyone know about the sparring.  Nobody else seemed as happy about it as she was. 

 

 

Amayla was nearly bouncing in her saddle by the time Thorin decided to make camp.  She hurried the princes along, anxious to start the sparring session.  “Who’s going to be first?” Amayla asked as they staked out the ponies. 

 

“Me!” the two answered at the same time.

 

“I’m older, I should go first!”

 

“I’m younger, I should go first!”

 

The two glared at each other and Amayla was afraid that they were going to start fighting before she could get to her weapons, “Lads! I’ve got it.  I’ll take on both of you to start, and whoever gets a kill hit on me, gets his choice to go first or second.” 

 

“Both of us, but that’s not fair,” was Kili’s response. 

 

“I think I can handle you two.  Besides, orcs don’t usually worry about fighting fair and I could use the practice.” Amayla assured him.  

 

Fili looked at his brother, “I guess that’s fine.  Hope uncle doesn’t get mad at us.”

 

Kili waved him off, “He doesn’t need to know.  I’ll just get the hit on her quickly.”  Amayla grinned at the two and finished up with the ponies. 

 

 

Amayla gathered her training swords and met up with the princes in an area that they had marked off for sparring.  The lads were surprised when they saw her wooden sword.  “What’s that?” they asked confused. 

 

“I use this for sparring.  Its specially made.  Matches my real sword perfectly.  Allows for a little more reality in sparring.  I don’t need to hold back at all.  So beware.” 

 

“But won’t we just cut it when we hit it?”

 

Amayla smiled at the two, “It wouldn’t last very long if it were that easy to destroy, now would it?  There is steel in there too.  Now assume your stances.”

 

The two exchanged worried glances between them, but drew their weapons.  “Attack!” Amayla demanded.  The brothers kept trying to break through Amayla’s defenses, but she was always quicker, using her sword or dagger to block or her feet to step away.  Fighting felt so good to Amayla. She enjoyed watching the two grow more frustrated and sloppy as each tried to get the better of her. 

 

At first it was only Bilbo watching, but the other dwarves soon surrounded the three. Very quickly, bets were being laid.  Finally, Dwalin and Thorin walked over to see what was going on.  Upon noticing that it was Amayla fighting both his nephews, Thorin grew angry. “HOLD!” he shouted, moving into the make-shift ring, “What in Mahal’s name is going on?” 

 

All three immediately dropped their weapons to their sides and turned to Thorin.  Fili and Kili were gasping for breath, so Amayla spoke up first, “Just sparring Thorin.” 

 

Thorin glared at his nephews, “Why are both of you sparring against her at the same time?” he roared. 

 

Fili could finally speak, “Uncle, we couldn’t decide who would spar against her first, so we decided to both do it.  Whoever got the first kill strike was going to decide who got to go first.” 

 

“And????”

 

“And neither of us has managed to get one yet.” 

 

Thorin rubbed his head while Dwalin shook his head in disgust. 

 

“Uncle, she’s really good!” Kili tried to explain. 

 

“Aye, that she is!” added Bofur chuckling. 

 

Thorin turned to Amayla.  She didn’t say anything, trying to keep herself from smiling. 

 

“Explain yourself,” demanded Thorin. 

 

“I told you I needed a good fight, and they were giving me a good fight!” she shrugged.  Thorin just glared.  “Besides,” Amayla continued, looking for a way out of being in trouble, “It’s always good to fight as a team or against a team.  Orcs don’t always fight one-on-one.  And these two NEED to practice more as a team.  Both are so worried about losing to the other that it’s pretty easy to defend against them.” 

 

Fili and Kili could only look at the ground in shame.  Thorin’s eyes went from Fili to Kili to Amayla, “Carry on.” 

 

“Okay lads, let’s do this again.  And this time why don’t you try to work TOGETHER to beat me, rather than fighting against each other.” 

 

The brothers bent their heads together whispering before they assumed their stances.  This time, Fili went left and high, and Kili went right and low.  Amayla shifted as quickly as she could, holding them off for a few minutes, before Fili got the kill strike in on her.  Half the dwarves watching cheered, while half grumbled angrily depending on where they had laid their bets.  The two brothers hugged and did a little jig while Amayla smiled in amusement. 

 

Dwalin had to step in and calm the brothers down, “I wouldn’t be so pleased to take over ten minutes to defeat ONE opponent lads!  You both need more practice.”  He turned to Amayla, “Well done lass.”

 

Amayla smiled up at him.  Turning to the audience watching, Dwalin growled, “The rest of you, the show’s over, match up, get practicing yourselves!”

 

Since Fili had gotten the kill, Amayla assumed that he would want to spar, “Alright Fili, let’s go!”

 

Fili shook his head no, still breathing heavily, “I won, so I get to pick, and I pick Kili to go first.” 

 

“I’ll get you back for this brother,” Kili responded. 

 

Amayla sparred against each brother in turn, allowing neither to get another kill strike on her.  Afterwards she consoled the downcast princes.  “You both did very well,” she assured them. 

 

“Yeah right, you’re just saying that,” whined Kili.  Fili, who once again couldn’t catch his breath after just finishing sparring, just waved his hand. 

 

“Seriously, you did well.  I’m not trying to spare your feelings.  I do not lie about fighting.  You are both fine warriors and I would be honored to fight by your sides.  Kili, you need to work on not drawing back too far on your strikes.  It leaves you vulnerable.  And Fili, you need to trust your strikes.  You are watching them too long.  Remember, I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you and I trained under my father, the general’s watchful eye.  You’ll get better.  It just takes practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  And now you have me to help you train, whenever we get a chance!” 

 

The two princes slumped further thinking about what training under Amayla might be like.  “I’m afraid she may be worse than Dwalin,” Kili whispered to his brother.  Fili could only nod in agreement.

 

After collecting her weapons, Amayla moseyed along watching the other members of the company sparring.  She took mental notes on their abilities, planning on sparring against each member and working on their weaknesses.  Only Gandalf, Bomber, Ori, and Bilbo didn’t participate in sparring and Amayla was planning on changing that at the next opportunity.  Finally, it was only Thorin and Dwalin that she hadn’t watched.  She heard them before she found them as they had moved further away from the camp than everyone else.  She stopped a way back so that she could watch them without being seen.  It was a magnificent fight.  Amayla always enjoyed watching a good sparring match between two equal warriors, and this was a beauty.  Thorin used a sword and dagger, much like she did. Dwalin used double axes.  The two warriors obviously knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses well.  Unlike when the princes were trying to beat her, these two were taking turns attacking and defending.  It was more practice than battle, but it was still thrilling to watch.  Thorin would attack with speed and movement, while Dwalin was much more straight forward, using brute force in his swings to push Thorin back.  Amayla soon found herself captivated by Dwalin’s sheer power display.  She could actually feel the reverberations when his axe slammed against Thorin’s sword.  It was exhilarating.  Mahal, I want to spar against him!  Fili and Kili came tramping through the woods startling Amayla out of her thoughts.  “Dinner’s ready.”

 

Around the fire, most of the dwarves sat quietly eating their dinners, but not Amayla, she was too hyped up to sit silently.  “Dinner is GREAT Bomber; you outdid yourself tonight.  Bilbo, I can tell you helped too.  Great job!” 

 

Fili and Kili looked at each other questioningly as they played with their bowls.  “Really Amayla? Tastes pretty much the same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that,” muttered Kili. 

 

“Everything tastes better after a good work out!” she almost shouted.  “Doesn’t it feel GOOD to use your muscles.  I think I was starting to get soft, but you guys really helped me out.  Come on – admit it.  You feel better after hitting something!” 

 

“Not so sure about that,” responded Fili miserably, “since Kee and I were the thing you were hitting!” 

 

 

After dinner, Amalya made her way to where Thorin and Dwalin were standing off by themselves.  “Can we talk about how the sparring went?” she asked. 

 

Dwalin frowned at her, “why?” 

 

“I’d like to discuss what I saw and areas where individuals need more work.  Of course, I didn’t see Bombur, Ori, or Bilbo, so we should make certain that they spar the next time.” 

 

Thorin turned to Dwalin, “I’ll leave you two to it.” 

 

“Can we sit, please, away from everyone else?” asked Amayla. He motioned to a fallen tree that they can lean against while sitting.  “Overall, I was very impressed,” she started, “There are some things here and there that I would mention to certain individuals to work on, but I believe that they can all hold their own.  I didn’t see Bombur, but based on his brothers, I would imagine that he is fine.  It’s Ori and of course Bilbo that I’m most worried about.” 

 

“Bombur is very capable with an axe.  Ori is better with a sword than you might guess by looking at him, but he doesn’t like to carry one.  As for the Hobbit, well I would guess that he’s never picked up a weapon.”

 

“We must make certain that Bombur and Ori spar the next time we stop.  And Ori needs to start carrying a sword. Who can do the cooking while they spar?  I’d say Bilbo, but I want him to practice also.”

 

"Agreed.  Bofur isn’t a bad cook.  He could probably do it.  Bifur could help, they all learned from their mother who was the best cook in Erebor before Smaug.”

 

“Ok, so the plan is that Bombur and Ori spar against each other and I’ll see what Bilbo can do with one of my daggers.”  At Dwalin’s scoff, Amayla continued, “He needs to HAVE something for protection as we go further into the wild!” 

 

“What he NEEDS is to be behind you or me!

 

Amayla smiled at that, and looked directly at Dwalin, “Speaking of you and me … I saw you sparring with Thorin.  Nice axes.  I was wondering if you’d like to do some sparring against me, maybe after the others finish?”

 

“Are you certain you want to do that?”

 

“Most definitely!”

 

“You’re on, lassie!”

 

 

 

The next evening went as planned.  Bofur and Bifur started on dinner so Bombur could spar against Ori.  Amayla watched for a few minutes, satisfied that Ori could handle himself and confirmed her confidence in Bomber.  She had warned Bilbo that he was going to have to try to spar and he had sat quietly the rest of the day after learning of it.  “Come on Bilbo, it won’t be that bad,” Amayla tried to reassure him.  When Fili and Kili followed laughing, Amayla turned on them and sent them away, but Gandalf came along in their stead, “to offer encouragement.”

 

Amayla started by offering Bilbo him her wooden sword so he wouldn’t hurt himself, much.  She taught him the opening stance, which he mastered, but had difficulty with any additional steps.  “This sword is too long, it’s too heavy!” Bilbo complained.  

 

“Perhaps he is right about that, Amayla,” stated Gandalf. 

 

“Let’s try this instead,” Amayla said giving Bilbo one of her daggers. 

 

Bilbo was far more efficient with the smaller blade, and was growing in confidence until Amayla easily tapped his head with her weapon even though he had his sword fully extended.  They both frowned. 

 

“He needs a longer weapon, yet not one as long as the first,” said Gandalf stating the obvious. 

 

“And do you have one?” responded Amayla irritably. 

 

“No, my dear, I do not,” was his reply as he turned to go back to camp.  Amayla just threw her hands up in frustration. 

 

“I’m sorry Amayla,” Bilbo started to say. 

 

“No Bilbo, it’s not your fault.  We just need to find you the proper weapon.  Keep the dagger for now.  It’s better than nothing.  We’ll figure something out.” 

 

Dwalin walked up about then.  “How’d he do?” he grunted to Amayla.

 

“Sword is too big; dagger is too small.  We need to find something in between.  But he was doing well with his feet; he’s very quick.”  Bilbo smiled at the compliment. 

 

“Well we don’t have a forge out here to make something for him.”

 

“You’re as helpful as Gandalf,” was all Amayla could say.

 

“If you are done with our burgler, would you like to spar now?” Dwalin asked, pulling out his axes. 

 

Amayla’s face lit up.  “Yes!” she almost purred, “Bilbo, I’ll be needing my dagger back for this.  Then it’s yours.”

 

Both warriors took off their outer layers, leaving only a single shirt on each of them.  Amayla admired the muscular chest that she knew Dwalin had but was only seeing for the first time.  His shirt was open half-way and she could see the dark curly chest hair and part of a larger tattoo.  Dwalin could see that Amayla wore a corset under her shirt which served to hold down her breasts – breasts that were surprisingly larger than he had assumed.  They both jumped slightly when they heard a voice.

 

“Are you two going to start anytime soon?” It was Kili, standing with Fili and several other members of the company. 

 

“Oy! We’re not putting on a show, you know!” Dwalin snarled as he moved to get in his stance.

 

“Well, we’re watching anyway!” replied Nori as he made himself comfortable. 

 

The two went at it like the warriors they were.  Neither held anything back.  Their strikes were fierce.  Amayla used her speed and agility to circle Dwalin, deflecting his strikes with her sword and jabbing with her dagger.  Dwalin attacked much as he did against Thorin, straight ahead and with all his force.  Amayla had to work at making sure to deflect most of his force rather than try to withstand direct hits.  When she couldn’t deflect it, the power of Dwalin’s strikes reverberated through her entire body.  She was not certain how many direct hits she could take and remain standing.  Dwalin, for his part, was having difficulty keeping Amayla in front of him.  She was so quick and he was having difficulty blocking her strikes when she managed to get behind him.  They kept at each other, attacking and defending time and time again. The sweat was dripping off both as they continued.  Bets were being laid among the company to see who would yield first, but it appeared that neither was going to.  Finally, as the last rays of the sun fell behind the horizon, Thorin stepped forward and shouted, “Hold!” 

 

The two warriors dropped their stances, Dwalin leaning heavily on the handle of one of his axes, Amayla’s arms hanging by her side as if she were a rag doll; both gasping for breath. “I call it a draw,” declared Thorin.  The company all moaned in disappointment as no bets would be paid off.  Amayla and Dwalin both collapsed on the ground.  Thorin walked over to them, looking down.  A smile spread across his face.  “Well done both of you” turning to the company, “Come on everyone, dinner is ready.  Leave these two to get cleaned up.”   

 

“Oy, he could have at least helped us up,” Dwalin muttered.  Amayla struggled to sit, “Or ordered one of his royal subjects to help.”  They both started to laugh.  Dwalin managed to get up and walk over to Amayla, holding out a hand to help her up, “That was fun.”  “Yes, it was.  Thanks.” 

Chapter Text

During one rather long day of travel, Bilbo pulled his pony back to ride next to Amayla who was bringing up the rear.  “Amayla, I’d like to be more help around camp.” 

 

Amayla could tell that Bilbo had something on his mind.  “Okay Bilbo, what are you getting at?”

 

“Well, you may not believe this, but I’m pretty good at climbing trees, so I was thinking that maybe I could help you out with when you have your look-about when we make camp.” 

 

“You want to do the look-about?” 

 

“Yes, I think I can handle that.” 

 

See the determination in his eyes, Amayla simply responded, “Alright then.” 

 

“Really, you’ll let me do it?” 

 

“Sure, why not?  We’ll both go up today and I’ll make sure you know what to look for and then the job is yours!”  Bilbo’s smile went from ear to ear and his chest puffed out as they continued to ride. 

 

When Amayla rode up to talk to Thorin about the plan, he was less than enthused.  “Do you think the hobbit can do it?” 

 

“I don’t see why not.  He’s got very good eye sight and he’s much lighter than I am so he can climb higher.  He may do an even better job than me.”  Both Thorin and Dwalin scoffed at that.  “I will go up with him and show him what to do.  He’ll be fine and he wants to help.  We should let him.”

 

“Alright, but as I told Gandalf, he’s your responsibility.”  “Yes sire.”

 

The sun was just starting to set when they made camp.  Amayla made Fili and Kili care for the ponies themselves so that she and Bilbo could climb. There was a good stand of trees nearby, and Amayla let Bilbo pick out the one he thought was best.  They climbed up as far as Amayla could go.  “You’ll be able to go further, but let’s stop here.  You just want to look and listen.  Listen for normal sounds: birds, frogs, insects, squirrels, you know.  If you don’t hear sounds, that’s very important, call down and I’ll come up.  After sounds, look around.  One of the first things I always look for is smoke plumes.  It’s easy to see and very important.  If you see smoke, follow it down to see if you can figure out where its coming from.  If it’s a building, like a house, there’s probably nothing to worry about.  If it’s a campfire, that’s important and let Thorin know immediately.  Keep track of the direction based on the tree trunk, don’t worry about North or West.  If you see any clearings, especially ones with game in them, let us know.  If see any bears, let me know.  Also, take a look at the weather, clouds and such, especially if we don’t have a clear view of the sky.  Just report anything that you think is important.  Got it?”

 

“And if I see any orcs or goblins?” Bilbo smiled at Amayla.

 

“That would be important.” Amayla smiled back, “now tell me what you’d report today.”

 

After about fifteen minutes, the two game down and walked directly to Thorin.  Amayla pushed Bilbo in front of where Thorin and Dwalin were standing, off to the side of camp per usual, “Go ahead,” she encouraged. 

 

“Uh Thorin, I looked around and have nothing significant to report, and the weather looks clear.” he stammered out.  Thorin continued to stare at the hobbit, making Bilbo squirm uncomfortably.  He finally looked to Amayla, and raised his eyebrows. 

 

“I would have given the very same report,” Amalya stated simply, holding her ground.  Thorin nodded and grunted out a “very good.” 

 

Amayla put her arm around Bilbo’s shoulder, turned him around, and walked him away.  “You did well!” she whispered.  Bilbo just beamed up at her. 

------------------------------------------

 

“Come Kili, let’s go get something for Bombur to cook.   Bilbo said there was a nice clearing just a little way away.  You can finally show me how good you are with that bow,” Amayla said to the eager dark-haired prince while gathering her own bow and small quiver.  Kili couldn’t stop smiling at the chance to show Amayla his skills, “Let’s get a deer!” 

 

The two made their way through the trees until they came across a small clearing.  “This is a perfect place for deer to come through, let’s go up into the trees,” Amalya whispered.  They climbed several feet up into a nearby fir and waited. 

 

Within ten minutes, a doe and fawn appeared on the edge of the clearing.  The mother deer was obviously tense; tail raised, ears flicking, nose in the air.  She wouldn’t let her baby move forward.  Both Kili and Amayla raised their bows, waiting for the deer to step out so they could get a clear shot.  Suddenly, the doe spooked and turned around disappearing into the woods. 

 

Kili whisped, “What happened?”  Amayla signed back to him in Iglishmek to be quiet. 

 

They turned as they heard a sound from across the other side of the clearing. A black bear came ambling out, nose in the air, sniffing.  Amayla enjoyed the sight as it brought back memories of her home.  She lowered her bow and watched the bear until she caught Kili’s movement out of the corner of her eye.  She was absolutely horrified as she saw Kili draw back his bow, arrow at the ready. 

 

“KILI STOP!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, startling both Kili and the bear.  The bear turned and ran back into the trees, while Kili lost his balance and half fell, half jumped out of the tree, landing on his feet and rolling. 

 

“Amayla! What in Durin’s name was that for?” he yelled, while checking that his bow was alright. 

 

Amayla jumped down next to him, “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?” she yelled back.

 

“I was going to shoot that bear, but you scared him away!”

 

At that, Amayla slammed her fist into his face before turning and stomping away. 

 

Having heard the yelling, Thorin, Dwalin, and Fili came bursting through the woods as she made her way back to camp.  Thorin looked frantic, “Where’s Kili?” he demanded. 

 

“Back there,” was all Amayla would say as she kept walking. 

 

“Lassie, are you okay?” questioned Dwalin trying to look into Amayla’s angry face. 

 

“FINE!” was her only response. 

 

The three dwarves found Kili sitting on the ground, gingerly touching his cheek.  “What happened?” asked Thorin bending down to look at his youngest nephew. 

 

“She hit me!” Kili responded as if he couldn’t believe it himself. 

 

“Let me see it,” said Thorin as he pressed on Kili’s nose and cheeks.  “Nothing broken, but you’re going to have one heck of a black eye.”

 

“What did you do?” demanded Dwalin. 

 

“I didn’t do anything! Honestly!  I was going to shoot a bear.  She yelled at me to stop and I fell --- jumped --- out of the tree and she came down and hit me!” The dwarves all exchanged confused looks between them, while Fili helped his brother up. 

 

When Amayla got back to camp, she slammed her bow and quiver down near her pack before yelling at Bomber that he would have to “make do” with what he had because no meat was coming.  The anger in her voice scared all the rest of the dwarves.  Their confusion grew when Thorin came marching up to Amayla furiously. 

 

“WHY DID YOU STRIKE MY NEPHEW?” he yelled in her face. 

 

Amayla raised herself on her toes to get closer to Thorin’s face, replying, “HE WAS GOING TO SHOOT A BEAR!”

 

“AND THAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO STRIKE HIM!?”

 

“HE’S LUCKY THAT’S ALL I DID!”

 

Dwalin got between the two and pushed them away from each other.  “STAND DOWN, BOTH OF YOU!”

 

Balin stepped in to try and calm things down.  “Amayla, can you please – calmly – explain what is going on?”

 

Amayla took a few deep breathes before looking straight at Balin, “That idiot over there was about to shoot a bear that was posing no danger to us at all.”  Turning to Kili she continued, “and it was not a “he”, it was a female bear and I guarantee that there was at least one cub somewhere behind her.” Turning to Thorin, “There was no reason for him to shoot her.  And I will not abide the senseless killing of bears! EVER!”  She then turned to Dwalin, “Get your axes, I need to hit something, and apparently I’m not supposed to hit the damned prince!”  With that, Amayla grabbed her sword and dagger and marched off. 

 

Dwalin looked to Thorin who was still somewhat shocked. “Go to her,” he nodded. 

 

Dwalin grabbed his weapons and followed where he saw her go.  She was standing in a very small clearing, stretching and twirling her sword.  When he saw her take her stance, he attacked.  The two of them went at each other for what seemed like an hour but was actually just several minutes of solid fighting.  Dwalin could feel Amayla’s tension lessening with each strike.  When she finally started smiling, he knew that she was fighting him, and not Kili or Thorin.  After a couple more minutes of enjoyable sparring, he called a halt.  “Tired old man?” Amayla taunted.

 

“Old man?! – I’m not a man and I’m only eight years older than you are Lassie!  So what does that make you?”

 

“Younger than you! And willing to keep fighting!” Amayla teased him.

 

“Well I’m a hungry old dwarf.  Can we go eat now?”

 

Amalya sheathed her weapons.  She started talking softly, not even looking at Dwalin, “I am not sorry I hit Kili.  I could never have forgiven him if he had shot that bear.  I know there was a cub somewhere and I wouldn’t have wanted to have to put it down.  I had to do that once.”

 

He walked up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, “You had to kill a cub?”

 

“We were out on patrol one spring.  We heard orcs. They were fighting with a bear.  She killed several of them, and we took care of the rest.  But they managed to kill her first.  We found the cub nearby.  It was only a few months old.  There was no way it could survive without her.  It would have starved to death.  Since I was the Captain, it was my duty to put it down.  I NEVER want to do that again.”

 

At that, she started sobbing.  Dwalin took her in his arms and held her tight, “Let it out lass,” he murmured in her ear.  She clung to him until her tears stopped.  Pulling away, Amayla managed a wan smile and could only say “thank you.” 

 

They walked back to the camp in silence.  All eyes turned to them as they approached the fire.  Amayla stood strong and started speaking, “I owe you all an explanation.  Kili was going to shoot a bear and I couldn’t let him.  Where I was raised, bears are special to us.  They protect us and we protect them.  I could no more kill a bear than I could kill a dwarf.  So, when I said that Kili was lucky that I only punched him, I really meant it.  I don’t even know what the punishment for killing a bear in Gorvuud would be because nobody would ever do that.  It would be his beard at the very least.  So Kili, I apologize for hitting you without explanation.  I am sorry.” She bowed to Kili.

 

“Apology accepted,” he returned. 

 

Bombur broke the ackward silence by announcing that dinner was ready. 

 

Ori came over to Amayla when everyone was done cleaning up after dinner.  “Amayla, can I ask you some questions about Gorvuud?  I’d like to add some things about it into my journal.”

 

“Of course Ori.  Ask away.”

 

“Why do people in Gorvuud like bears so much?”

 

Amayla noticed most of the others in the company settling down and listening in on the conversation.  “To put it simply Ori, we like bears because bears hate orcs, maybe as much as we dwarves do.  And we use that to our advantage.  The whole purpose of the Gorvuud garrison is to protect the rest of Ered Luin from Orc attacks from the north.  To get to the garrison, the orcs have to come through the forest, and to get through the forest, they have to get past any bears living there.  I’ve seen many an orc carcass that did not get past the bears.”

 

“Do the bears like dwarves?” Ori asked.

 

“Well no, I wouldn’t say that they ‘like’ dwarves - after all, they are wild animals -  but they HATE orcs.  I’ve seen bears track down and chase orcs that were trying to avoid bears.  They don’t do that to dwarves.  A bear will certainly attack a dwarf, especially a mother protecting her young, or a young male during the rutting season, or in the late fall when they are desperate to gain weight before hibernation.  But we in the garrison know their ways and how to avoid most problems.  We know which scents deter bears and use those plants around the fields to help keep the bears away. It’s as much a part of our training as is sparring practice.  The less interaction we have with the bears, the better it is for us and them.”

 

“Have you ever killed a bear?”

 

Amayla got very quiet, “Yes, but It’s not something that I am proud of.” She paused and took a large breath.  “It was fall and I was out on patrol with my squad. The bear came out of nowhere and attacked us.  He had one of my dwarves, tore at him with his teeth, and tossed him around like he was a leaf falling from a tree.  My squad and I took him down.  It turned out that he was a very old bear and very underweight.  We think he was just looking for any source of food before winter.”

 

“Is that where you got the bear tooth you wear as a necklace?”

 

“This?” Amayla grabbed instinctively at the necklace she never took off, “No, this is a cub tooth. An adult tooth would be about three times the size.  This cub is still alive and well.  We buried the carcass of the bear we had to kill.  We won’t skin a bear; always return it to the forest.  Any other questions?”

 

Bilbo spoke up, “So how did you get the cub’s tooth?”

 

Amayla laughed to her herself, “There’s a very good story behind this tooth, but it’s not one you’re going to hear tonight.  I’ve got the last watch of the night so I am turning in.”

 

“Awwwwe, come on Amayla, please?  Just one more story?” Kili begged, turning his eyes up at Amayla and giving her the innocent face that melted most dams’ resolves. 

 

Amayla frowned at him asking incredulously, “What is that look?  Do you really think that face is going to make me give in?”

 

Kili’s puppy dog face quickly turned into a disappointed frown. 

 

“Wow Kee, haven’t see you fail that spectacularly in a long time!” Fili ribbed him.

 

Chapter Text

 

The journey continued peacefully for many days.  It was becoming routine for Amayla to spar with at least one member of the company each night as the sun was setting later each day.  At night, Thorin would usually give her one of the later watches, often following Dwalin.  She was becoming used to the large warrior waking her gently during the night to relieve him.  He usually had a cup of hot tea ready for her and they would often talk for a while before he turned in.  She had begun to look forward to those quiet moments when Dwalin would tell her stories of helping to raise Fili and Kili and all the trouble they caused and she in turn told stories of Ardru, patrolling Gorvuud, and meeting Foldram. 

 

One especially warm day, Thorin chose to make camp near a stream that would finally allow them all a chance to bathe.   After the ponies were picketed and the food was started, all the dwarves started off to the stream.  Dwalin and Thorin looked to Amayla questioningly.  “Don’t worry, I’ll bathe after you all.  I’m sure Gandalf and I can look after camp while you’re gone.” 

 

They all came back much later, hair dripping, carrying many of their clothing layers and laying them out to dry.  “Ok, now I need a volunteer to come stand guard while I bathe,” announced Amayla.  Fili and Kili sprinted forward, trying to push each other out of the way, “I’ll do it!” they both shouted.  Dwalin managed to grab them both by their collars and yank them back.  “I don’t think so lads,” he grumbled. 

 

“Thank you Dwalin, and NO to both of you!  I need someone I can trust not to peek.  Gloin, would you mind?”

 

“I’d be honored Amayla.  Since I have the most beautiful dam in the world as my wife, you can trust me.”

 

As they walked, Amayla explained how her bathing worked.  “You sit nearby, with a weapon, and keep your back to me.”

 

“Of course, but then how do I know if you are safe?”

 

“I will sing.”

 

“Excuse me lassie?”

 

“You heard me, I’ll sing while I bathe.  As long as I’m singing, I’m obviously fine.  I’ll warn you if I need to duck under.”

 

“Sounds like a plan to me!”

 

Gloin settled in and Amayla took off her clothes and proceeding into the stream.  The cool water felt magnificent!  She then started to sing one of her favorite songs from her childhood, very enthusiastically and very off-key. 

 

Gloin was shocked when he heard the first notes.  “You alright there Lassie?” he asked grimacing.

 

“Just fine!” and she kept singing, even louder.

 

Suddenly, half the company came racing through the trees, weapons drawn. 

 

Gloin immediately jumped up and drew his, “What’s the matter?”

 

“Hey, get out of here!” Amayla screamed, diving under the water so only her head peeked out. 

 

The dwarves all lowered their weapons.  “We thought someone was hurt.  We heard some strange noises,” Thorin stated looking around. 

 

Gloin lowered his voice and pointed behind him, “That’s the lass, she’s singing.”

 

“That was singing?” asked Bofur stunned, “I thought an orc got her.”

 

Kili and Fili burst out laughing and were immediately silenced by a smack from Dwalin.

 

“I heard that – now all of you GO AWAY!” Amayla screamed even louder.

 

All the dwarves stifled laughs and gave Gloin looks of sympathy as they walked back to camp. 

 

Amayla picked up her singing from where she left off, but at a lower volume.  Gloin sighed and put his fingers in his ears, blocking out some, but not all of the noise. 

 

Amayla finished up and she and Gloin started back to the camp.  “That bad huh?” she asked. 

 

“Lassie, you’re a fine warrior,” Gloin answered putting an arm around her, “let’s keep it at that.”  Amayla laughed.  “My wife though, has the voice of an angel …….” Gloin regaled Amayla as they walked back to camp. 

 

When they arrived, everyone stopped talking and looked at Amayla, most smirking.  “Not one word,” she warned them all, “or you’ll be needing to sleep with your hand on your beards!”  That shut them all up.

 

********

 

As they approached the Trollshaws, Thorin called up Amayla to discuss the plans with Dwalin and Gandalf.  “I’m not comfortable, there seems to be something in the air,” Thorin explained. 

 

“We should make for Rivendell.  We can rest, replenish our supplies, and get information that may be vital to completing our task!” Gandalf argued. 

 

“I have said no to that before Wizard.  We will not seek aid from any elves!”

 

Gandalf muttered something under his breath and turned his horse to the back of the line. 

 

When they made camp, Thorin ordered everyone to be on alert.  No one was to go off on their own.  And he ordered Amayla to do the look-about with Bilbo.  There was an excellent tree that had a wonderful view that would be perfect for a look-about except that the lowest branches were too high to reach even with a boost. 

 

“We need a ladder,” groused Bilbo. 

 

“We’ll have to make one,” replied Amayla. 

 

“Make a ladder, and just how to you suggest we do that? By the time we make one, it’ll be dark.” 

 

“Not a wooden ladder,” laughed Amayla, “a dwarven ladder.  Call the lads over.” 

 

Bilbo trotted off and came back not only with Fili and Kili, but Dwalin too as he did not trust what might be happening. Amayla laid out her plans for the group.  “Kili you lean against the trunk and let Fili climb on your shoulders, then Bilbo and I will climb up on you guys.  I think we can reach the lowest branch from there.  I’ll go first to help Bilbo up if he can’t reach.  Understand?”

 

“Do you really think this a good idea?” asked Dwalin frowning. 

 

“No worries Dwalin. It’ll be fine,” assured Amayla while patting his arm. 

 

Kili took his position against the tree and braced himself as Fili climbed on his shoulders.  “Why am I on the bottom?” he grunted as his brother positioned himself.

 

“I’m set,” shouted down Fili.

 

Amayla walked over to Kili and put her hands on his shoulder avoiding Fili’s feet.  “Wait a minute lass, no need to be climbing on Kili, I’ll give you a boost,” Dwalin stated, grabbing Amayla by her hips and lifting her up.

 

“Awe Dwalin, you’re taking the fun out of this,” whined Kili earning him a growl from Dwalin.  

 

Fili grabbed Amayla’s arms and hoisted her up, moving his arms to her waist to steady her.  He glanced down to see Dwalin frowning at him and immediately let go.  Amayla told Fili to put his hands together so she could step up on his shoulders.  From there she easily reached a branch and pulled herself up.  “I’m good. Come on up Bilbo!” she shouted down. 

 

Bilbo started climbing up Kili first.  “Oy Dwalin, why aren’t you given Bilbo a boost too?” complained Kili as Bilbo’s groin smashed right into Kili’s face.  Dwalin only laughed.  Fili grabbed Bilbo and pulled him up, noticing that Dwalin did not seem to care if he held on to Bilbo’s waist.  Fili moved to boost Bilbo up as he did Amayla, but Bilbo couldn’t quite reach the branch.  Amayla was forced to lay down on the branch to grab Bilbo’s hand and lift him up.

 

“Be careful there, Lassie,” Dwalin yelled. 

 

“I’ve got him.  We’re good.”

 

After reaching the top, Amayla and Bilbo looked around.  “Do you notice the sounds Bilbo?” Amayla asked. 

 

“Yes, there’s not as much as usual.  Do you think something is wrong?”

 

“I’m not certain, Thorin definitely thinks so, so look sharp.”

 

They both began searching the horizon.  “Over there,” Bilbo nearly shouted, “I think I see a fire.”

 

“Where?”

 

Bilbo aligned Amayla and pointed far in the distance.  “Stay still and wait, you’ll see a flicker.”

 

Amayla waited for several minutes until she saw it, “Got it!  Good eyes Bilbo!  That certainly is suspicious.  How far away would you guess?”

 

Bilbo scrunched up his nose, thinking “I would venture to say 20 miles, give or take a few.”

 

“Let’s get down and tell Thorin.”

 

The way down went easy until they reached the bottom branch once again.  Fili, Kili, and Dwalin were still at the bottom looking up at them. 

 

“Just jump,” suggested Fili.  “We’ll catch you!”

 

Even in the fading light, Amayla could see Bilbo blanch at that suggestion.  “I’ll hold on to your arms and lower you Bilbo.  I may have to drop you, but this way, it will be a shorter fall.  And I’m sure Fili will catch you.” 

 

Bilbo climbed a way out on the branch, and Amayla laid next to him, anchoring her legs around the branch.  They locked their hands on each other’s wrists and Amayla slowly lowered Bilbo down until he was free from the branch.  “Ready Fili?  Here he comes!”  With that, she let go of Bilbo and watched as he landed neatly in Fili’s arms like a bride crossing the threshold. 

 

Kili then stepped up shouting, “I’ll catch you Amayla,” only to find himself being pushed out of the way by Dwalin.  “I don’t think so Laddie.”

 

As Dwalin moved into position, they all heard a sickening crack.  The tree branch snapped away from the trunk and Amayla heard herself scream as she plummeted towards the hard earth.  Kili knew that Dwalin was quick, but he was shocked to see how fast the big dwarf dove towards Amayla.  He managed to get his arms underneath her and roll her onto his chest right before she would have hit the ground. 

 

They laid still for a few moments, Dwalins holding her tight and Amayla resting her head on his chest.  She could hear his heart pounding as fast as her own. “Are ye alright lassie?” Dwalin whispered as he moved his hands to her face, raising it so he could look into her eyes.  Still in shock, Amayla couldn’t answer. 

 

“Amayla, say something, please lass. Are you hurt?”

 

Finally finding her voice, Amayla responded softly, “No…I’m fine….I think…. Just a little…. shaky.

 

“Good,” Dwalin smiled at her, “I wouldn’t have wanted you to get hurt.”  He rubbed her cheek gently, not wanting to stop holding her face.

 

“Thank you,” she whispered back smiling. 

 

They sat up as Fili, Kili, and Bilbo came rushing up yelling Amayla’s name. 

 

“I’m fine, fine.  Nothings broken, don’t even think I’m bruised thanks to Dwalin here,” Amayla assured them, waving off the help they offered.  “Bilbo let’s go report to Thorin.  Dwalin you’ll want to hear this too.”  

 

Amayla swayed slightly as she stood up and Dwalin’s arms were on her shoulders in a flash.  “Steady there, lassie,” he moved his hands down to her arms, rubbing them gently.  Amayla looked up at Dwalin shyly and gave him a small smile, only murmuring “Thank you.” Dwalin led Amayla back to camp, his hand resting softly on her back, with Bilbo at their side. 

 

Fili and Kili just stood back, mouths agape, elbowing each other.  “Did you see that?” “Do you think it means what I think it means?” “Dwalin???” “and Amayla?”  “Ten gold he asks to court her.” “No, I bet she asks him.”  “You’re on.”  The two bumped foreheads sealing the deal. 

 

Back at camp, Thorin listened to what Bilbo and Amayla reported.  “So you think that whatever is out there is at least a day away?” Thorin questioned Amayla.  “That’s what Bilbo said, yes.”

 

“Fine, then we double the watch tonight.  And we run patrols tomorrow while we travel.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The next morning, Thorin ordered Kili to patrol with Dwalin and Fili to patrol with Amayla, riding ahead of and to the sides of the company.   Nobody came across anything of interest.  Thorin called a halt when they came across the ruins of a farm.  Gandalf and Thorin quarreled yet again resulting in Gandalf storming away. 

 

Amayla and Dwalin were sitting quietly eating the stew Bofur had prepared that evening when Fili burst out of the trees yelling “Trolls!” They both jumped up, spilling their bowls, grabbing for their weapons.  All in the company joined them, following Fili’s lead.  Amayla was expecting Thorin or Dwalin to announce a plan of attack and was more than disappointed when they simply charged straight in to attack the trolls.  Even so, they were making serious progress against the three large monsters, until two of them held up Bilbo spread eagle between them threatening to rip off his arms.   Thorin ordered the company to drop their weapons.  Amayla was humiliated to find herself stuffed into a sack and thrown into a pile next to Fili and Bilbo.  To her horror, half of the company including Dwalin, was tied to a spit that was slowing turning over a fire. 

 

The trolls really were idiots because they didn’t check Amayla for weapons when they put her in the sack.  Although her hands were tied together, they weren’t tied down and Amayla could easily reach one of her daggers in her boots. 

 

“Bilbo, I can reach my knife, but I need some time to get through the ropes.  We need to stall for time.  Got any ideas?”

 

“Let me think about it.”

 

“Think fast!”

 

Amayla cut the bonds around her ankle and was able to scoot closer to Fili. 

 

Bilbo jumped up and started advising the trolls on the best way to cook dwarves.  While not thrilled with the topic, Amayla had to admire Bilbo’s ability to distract and stall the bumbling goliaths. 

 

“Fili, do you have any of your knives on you?” Amayla whispered.  Fili nodded yes.  “Good, put your hands where I can cut off your ropes.”

 

Amayla saw where Fili’s hands were pressed against the sack. She sliced through her sack before working on cutting a slice next to Fili’s hands without slicing him.  When she succeeded, Fili stuck his hands through and easily cut his hands free.  He quickly took the knife and cut Amayla’s hands free too. “Stay inside your sack so the Trolls can’t tell what we’re doing and roll over and start freeing the others.”

 

Amayla started to roll over to where Thorin was laying when one of the trolls grabbed Bomber, threatening to eat him raw. Bilbo started saying something about parasites, but Amayla wasn’t exactly certain what he was talking about.  She whispered to Thorin, “Bilbo is stalling while Fili and I cut you all out.  Where are your hands?”  Kili started yelling about not having parasites until Thorin kicked him.  Amayla wasn’t paying attention as she started to cut through Thorin’s sack. Why is Kili bragging about the size of his parasites?  She had just gotten through Thorin’s bindings when they all heard Gandalf’s voice shout, “The dawn will take you all!” A cheer went up when the three trolls quickly turned to stone. 

 

Fili and Amayla proceeded to cut free all the others on the ground while Gandalf put out the fire.  Together they lifted the pole away from the fire and started to release everyone.  Amayla went to Dwalin first making certain that he was alright.  “Aye, except for a bruise in my back from Bofur, I’m fine lassie.”  Amayla smiled and brushed a tear from her eye as she turned to cut down Ori.

 

*************************

 

“I am not going in there!” Disgusted, Amayla stomped away from the Troll’s cave.  She sat down next to Fili, Kili, and Bilbo while they waited for the others to finish whatever they were doing in the revolting place.  “Kili, why were you bragging about the size of your parasites to the trolls?” she asked. 

 

Kili blushed and kicked at the dirt, “Didn’t you hear what Bilbo was saying about us?” 

 

“I was trying to stall for time,” defended Bilbo.

 

“By telling them how to cook us and that we all had parasites?” Kili asked back.

 

“Is that what you were saying?  I was too busy trying to cut us out of the sacks to pay attention.  That’s hysterical Bilbo! And job well done!”  Amayla burst out laughing and gave Bilbo a big hug. Bilbo couldn’t help blushing at her praise. 

 

Gandalf approached the group and laid a small sword in the hobbit’s lap.  “Here Bilbo, this appears to be your size.”  Amayla watched Bilbo unsheathe the sword.  Gandalf continued, “It is elvish made and will glow blue when orcs or goblins are nearby.” 

 

Concerned, Bilbo tried to refuse the weapon, but Gandalf assured him, “I hope you never have to use it, but if you do remember this, true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”

 

Amayla patted Bilbo on the shoulder, “That’s a beautiful weapon Bilbo.  Looks like sparring practice is going to get restarted!”

 

“Ori, Nori – go get the ponies, let’s get mounted up and move out,” commanded Thorin. 

 

Suddenly, they heard a long howl.

 

“Is that a wolf,” asked Bilbo hopefully.

 

“Wolf? no that is not a wolf,” Bofur answered, weapon raised. 

 

“It’s a warg,” Amayla sprung to her feet unsheathing her sword and pushing Bilbo behind her. 

Suddenly, a large dark warg leaped into the middle of the company.  Amayla sliced its face while Thorin plunged his sword into its neck, killing it instantly.  Another warg appeared behind Thorin ready to pounce, but Kili put an arrow in it and Dwalin took its head with one of its axes. 

 

“Warg scouts,” Thorin nearly spit out. 

 

“That means there’s an orc pack nearby,” added Amayla.  The company looked to Thorin for his decision.

 

“Mount up – we ride!”

 

“We can’t, the ponies have bolted,” shouted Ori.

 

“We must make for the hidden pass to Rivendell,” insisted Gandalf, “It’s our only chance.”

 

Thorin glared at Gandalf until another warg howled in the distance. 

 

“Lead the way wizard,” Thorin sneared, obviously displeased with his choice.

 

“Everyone stay together and hurry,” Gandalf shouted.

 

The group rushed through the forest only to stop short when they reached the open.  Ahead lay a vast expanse of rolling hills and rock outcrops, offering very little cover. 

 

“Where is this pass?” Thorin demanded, breathing hard.

 

“It is somewhere over there,” Gandalf pointed with his staff in a general direction toward some rocks.

 

“There’s the pack, to the north,” Amayla pointed, frowning. 

 

“It’s going to be close!” Bofur whispered under his breath.

 

“Amayla, Kili, you take the rear, bows at the ready. Gandalf lead the way. Let’s go!” Thorin shouted.

 

Amayla felt someone give her shoulder a squeeze as she sheathed her sword.  She looked up to see Dwalin walk by, face firm, lips drawn in a tight line. He nodded his head briefly as he locked eyes with her before turning and trotting forward.  She could only nod back.  

 

The company took off at a full sprint knowing they would be spotted immediately.  An orc horn confirmed it.  

 

Bofur was right.  It was very close.  It didn’t help that Gandalf didn’t seem to know exactly where he was going.  Kili and Amayla were able to shoot several of the lead wargs as they approached the company, but it wasn’t enough.  The pack quickly surrounded them.  Thorin formed the company into a circle, with only Kili and Amayla out on point, trying to slay the closest orcs.  Amayla heard Thorin order the company to stand their ground, and knew that they were in serious trouble.   Suddenly Gandalf yelled, “This way you fools!”  Amayla turned to see the company running and sliding behind a large rock, but she couldn’t look for long as more orcs approached.  After firing a few more arrows, she heard Thorin call for her and Kili. 

 

“You go Kili, I’ll cover you,” she yelled to the dark-haired archer. 

 

Kili didn’t respond, and kept firing.  Amayla was trying to hold down her panic as she noticed that she and Kili were both down to their last few arrows. 

 

“KILI GO NOW!” Amayla tried again.

 

“ONE MORE,” he yelled back, smiling.

 

“DAMMIT KILI MOVE! I HAVE YOU COVERED! GO!”

 

“KILI!” This time it was Thorin’s voice yelling. 

 

At his uncle’s voice, Kili finally turned and ran.  Amayla stood and waited a few moments to fire an arrow at the nearest orc after Kili passed her.  She saw more orcs coming but had no choice but to run and try to make it to the rock.  She saw Thorin standing, sword at the ready, yelling at her to hurry.  She knew a warg was gaining on her and could hear its orc riding laughing in black speech.  It was definitely going to be close.  She watching Kili jump down what she could only guess was an opening in the rocks and followed suit.  She felt, more than saw, Thorin jump down and slay the warg that was closing in on her right before she jumped into the opening.  She fell down hard on her side as she landed on the unforgiving stone and heard a sickening crack.  Dammit, that was my bow!

 

She landed unceremoniously on the ground and was immediately picked up by Dwalin who started looking her over.  “Are you alright lassie?” he asked concern written all over his face.  Amayla nodded while looking at her bow.  Thorin landed smoothly behind her.  Just then they heard a horn call different from the orc’s.  “Ah, that is an Elvish horn I believe,” said Gandalf, “I would think we are quite safe now.”

 

Amayla brushed off Dwalin’s arms and marched over to Kili getting straight up in his face, “IF YOU EVER DISOBEY ME IN BATTLE AGAIN, I WILL SHAVE YOUR HEAD AND EVERY BIT OF YOUR MISERABLE BEARD, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!” 

 

Thorin stepped between the enraged dam and his nephew, “What happened out there?”

  

Amayla turned to Thorin, standing at attention, “You ordered us back.  I yelled to Kili that I had him covered and that he should go.  He didn’t.  I yelled again.  He responded that he wanted to take down one more orc; mind you, it was an orc that was within my range.  I yelled at him a third time to leave, but it was not until you yelled again that he finally went.”

 

“Uncle, the orc was closer to me, I knew I could get it.” Kili tried to defend himself.

 

Amayla turned back on Kili, “That is not the point.  YOU WERE ORDERED TO LEAVE.  You were faRther out.  I was COVERING YOU!  I couldn’t leave until you were past ME!  You waiting to get an orc that I could just as easily kill, WASTED TIME and PUT ME AND THORIN AT RISK!  AND IT COST ME MY BOW!” She threw her broken bow at his feet. 

 

Thorin frowned at his nephew.  “Amayla is right, nephew.  But now is not the time.  We will discuss this further when the there is a moment.  Right now we see where that path takes us.  Bofur lead on.”

 

“I’m sorry Amayla,” Kili whispered, looking miserable and bending to pick up Amayla’s bow. 

 

“Leave it.”

 

“I . . I . . “ Kiliing stuttered, not knowing what to say.

 

“Thorin is right. We’ll discuss this later.  Just go,” Amayla answered softly, a slight hitch in her voice.

 

Fili pushed his brother ahead following behind the others.  Finally, it was just Amayla and Dwalin left.  He put an arm around her shoulder and she rested her head against him. “My father gave me that bow when I turned 100,” Amayla whispered, wiping tears from her eyes. 

 

“I’m sorry lassie.” And he led her away.

Chapter Text

 

Meeting elves was an experience that Amayla had always looked forward to.  Ardru had told her many tales of his dealing with elves before Smaug had come to Erebor.  He had admired them then, holding many as friends.  His attitude changed after Thrandruil turned them away, but he didn’t install the deep hatred of elves into Amayla that seemed to inhabit the other members of the company.  She even liked the food the elves served even though there was no meat, having often survived on berries, nuts, and whatever edible bits she could forage while patrolling.  Amayla was just too tired and sad about her bow and Tigr to eat much.  When Bofur started dancing on the table, she excused herself allowing Lord Elrond to assign her an escort to her room. 

 

The room itself was very nice.  There was a large bed with fluffy pillows and blankets, but it was the private bathroom that had Amayla entranced.  She almost wept when she saw the large bathtub in the corner of the room.

 

“May I use it?” she asked almost reverently, running her hands over the sides. 

 

The she-elf escorting her actually chuckled at Amayla’s reaction, “Of course m’lady.” 

 

“Please, just call me Amayla, none of this m’lady stuff.” 

 

“Then you must call me Tialla.  Here, let me show you how it works.”  Tialla demonstrated the working of the tub and explained that the pipes came from a hot spring far underground.  “Would you like me to have your clothing laundered also, Amayla?” Tialla asked, “I’m sure I can find something that you could wear while its being done?” 

 

“You would have something that would fit me?” Amayla asked skeptically. 

 

“Well, we don’t get many dwarves here.  Truthfully, you are the first dwarrowdam that I have ever seen, but I think I can come up with something.  Maybe a robe to start with. I’ll be right back with one.” 

 

“That would be very nice.  Thank you so much Tialla. I appreciate your kindness.” 

 

“It is my pleasure to make you most comfortable.  Please don’t hesitate to ask for anything.” Tialla smiled and bowed before leaving.

 

True to her word, Tialla returned with a robe within minutes.  “It belongs to the daughter of a friend,” she explained.  The length was just right, but the front barely overlapped.  “I don’t think any of her other clothes would be large enough for you,” said Tialla looking over Amayla with a critical eye, “I’ll look for some sort of tunic that we could belt up. And perhaps some trousers that we could roll up the bottoms.”

 

“That sounds fine.  Thank you.  I am just going to go to sleep after this bath so there is no hurry.”

 

“Very good.  Just leave your dirty clothes next to the door and I’ll take them to the laundry.” Tialla bowed and left Amayla to her bath.

 

Amayla could not recall experiencing anything as luxurious as that bath.  The oil that had been left for her smelled like pine and reminded her of Gorvuud.  After washing her hair and scrubbing her body nearly raw, she emptied the tub and filled it a second time just for soaking.  Sometime during her bath Tialla came in and took her soiled clothes and wished her a good night. 

 

Amayla found herself drifting off when an insistent pounding on her bathroom door startled her back to reality.  “Amaaaaayla! Are you in there?”

 

“Kili? Is that you?”

 

“Yes.  Can I come in?”

 

“No. I’m not here.”

 

That seemed to stump him into silence for a moment.  “Yes you are.  Can we talk please? I want to apologize; I don’t want you to be mad at me.”

 

“Kili, I’m not mad, but if you come in here, I swear to Mahal that I will never, ever forgive you.”

 

“Why, what are you doing?”

 

“I’m taking a bath, and if you don’t leave, I’m going to start singing.”

 

“Ok, talk to you tomorrow. Bye!”  Amayla chuckled as she heard Kili’s rapid retreat out of her room, door slamming shut.  It amused her so much that she decided to actually start singing, just not very loudly.

 

*******

 

Ahhhh . . . floating in a cloud . . . . so soft . . . so peaceful . . . must be dreaming . . . so quiet . . . so quiet . . . not so quiet…

 

“But we want to see her, we’re her friends!”

 

“No, she’s not awake yet.”

 

“How is she not awake yet, the suns been up for hours!”

 

“I don’t care, you’re not going in!”

 

Who is that?  It kind of sounds like Kili and maybe Fili, but there’s a female voice too.  Who is that? Ahhh, too soft, don’t care. 

 

“Pleeeeeaaaasssseeee?”

 

That is definitely Kili. 

 

“Fine, I will peek and see if she is awake.”

 

Guess I’m awake now. 

 

The creaking of the door confirmed that somebody was coming into her room, causing Amayla to spring up in bed.  “Who’s there?”

 

“Excuse me Amayla, it is me, Tialla.  I was just checking to see if you were awake yet.  You have some visitors who are very anxious to see you.”

 

“Let me guess, two young dwarfs; one blond, one brunette?”

 

“Yes, the brunette has been most relentless.”

 

“Fili and Kili.  You can let them in.”

 

“But you’re not dressed yet.  I’ve brought in some items that might be able to wear. I am happy to assist you.”

 

“Amaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyylllllllllllllaaaaaaaa!” Kili sounded pitiful.

 

“We can just let them in for a minute.  I’ll stay under the covers and then throw them out.”

 

“As you wish.”  Tialla opened the door and Kili came falling in flat on his face.

 

Fili stepped on his brother as he walked in before flopping onto Amayla’s bed. “Nice room.  Much nicer than ours.  We’re sharing with the Ur brothers, and you know how Bombur snores.”

 

Kili took a flying leap onto the bed to join them, nearly bouncing Amayla out from under the covers.  “Nice bed!  No wonder you haven’t gotten up yet. Can we join sleep here tonight?”

 

“No!”

 

 “Pllleeeeeaaaassseee?”

 

“You know those eyes don’t work on me Kili,” Amayla snapped.

 

“They worked on your elf-friend there,” Fili whispered to Amayla, winking.  Kili just grinned proudly, until a pillow whacked him on the head. 

 

“What do you two want?”

 

“Nothing special,” Fili shrugged.

 

“You woke me up for nothing special?!” Amayla hit Fili on the head with her other pillow.

 

“Oww! I was kidding! We have some good news.  We overheard one of the elves talking about some ponies they had found roaming around near the hidden pass and they brought them in!” 

 

“Really? Do you know which ones? Is Tigr one of them?”

 

“We haven’t gone to see yet.  We thought you’d like to come with us.  So get dressed and we’ll go.  Hurry up!”

 

“I have some fruit here for you for breakfast and we can get you dressed quite quickly if these TWO would care to leave us in peace.” Tialla said eyeing the princes.

 

“Out lads.  I’ll be ready in a jiffy,” Amayla promised.

 

Amayla got up and took care of her morning routine in the bathroom and came out to see the clothing that Tialla had laid out for her, “Try the dark green leggings first.”

 

Amayla put them on and they were fine in the waist but at least 8 inches too long. 

 

“Let me just roll up the bottom a bit,” Tialla fussed.

 

“Well they look fairly ridiculous but they work,” Amayla sighed, “Now for the top.” 

 

“I’m hoping this will work as an undershirt,” explained Tialla, “It’s a elfing’s shirt so it shouldn’t be too long for you.” 

 

Amayla got the shirt over her head, but it was way too narrow through the chest.  “Hmm, try this shirt.  It’s from my brother.  It might work.” 

 

This time the plain white linen shirt fell over her chest fine, but the sleeves completely swallowed her hands.  “I can fix that!” said Tialla as she grabbed a pair of shears out of a sewing basket she had brought along and proceeded to cut off the extra length.

 
“Hey, what’s your brother going to say about this?” asked Amayla shocked at the she-elf’s action. 

 

“No worries.  I made this one for him.  I’ll just make him another.  He’ll never know.” Smiled Tialla.  “Now if we just roll up the bottom of the sleeves, they’ll fit fine.” 

 

Tialla took a step back, studying Amayla through squinty eyes.  “Instead of a tunic, I think if we use the jerkin over top of the shirt, it will work.”  Tialla handed Amayla a light green jerkin with laces up the front and down the sides.  Tialla pulled the laces on the front first, to make certain that Amayla was modestly covered.  She had to leave large gaps in the side laces, but as she expected, it worked.  “Well, nobody will mistake you for an elf, but I think you’ll be comfortable until your clothes are finished.  I talked to the laundry and they will be ready by dinner.  Speaking of which, I’m told that dinner will be more formal this evening, do you have a dress you’d like to wear or should I try to find you something?”

 

“A dress? No, I didn’t bring a dress for the journey.  But I don’t want to cause you any problems.”

 

“I take it as a challenge!” Tialla smiled rubbing her hands together.  “I’ll find you something, and it will be beautiful!”

 

“Please don’t go to any trouble! I can just wear my own clothes when they’re clean.”

 

“No, no. Really Amayla.  It will be my pleasure, if you will allow me.”

 

“Thank you.  You are really too kind.”

 

“Ammmaaaaaayyylllllaaaaaa!” came the familiar cry of Kili.

 

Amayla rolled her eyes and Tialla laughed. 

 

**********

Tialla gave the three dwarves directions to the stables, but before they made it, Thorin found them. “Kili, Amayla, we should talk now about yesterday.  Fili you may join us.”

 

Kili’s expression changed immediately, but he kept his back straight as he followed Thorin into an empty room.  It appeared to me some sort of art gallery as there were exquisite tapestries hanging on the walls and beautifully decorated vases lined up on tables. 

 

Thorin faced Kili while Fili and Amayla stood on either side of him. 

 

“Is what Amayla said yesterday true?”

 

“Yes, uncle”

 

“Dammit Kili, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

 

“Uncle, I knew I could kill that last orc.  I just wanted to put him down.”

 

“You heard Amayla order you to leave didn’t you?”

 

 “Aye.”

 

“Mahal,” Thorin rubbed his beard, “I should have trained you better.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have ever brought you. You are so young.”

 

“Uncle, please!” It was Fili who stood up for his brother.  “He just made a mistake!”

 

“A mistake that could have cost Amayla her life as well as his own, Fili!” Thorin shouted to the blond. 

 

Amayla was incredibly uncomfortable, standing and listening, but knowing not to speak.

 

After a few minutes of Thorin staring at Kili, he sighed heavily.  “If I could, I would send you home Kili.  Your mother is right; you are far too reckless!  But I cannot afford to send anyone with you and I won’t send you alone.  But understand this, if you EVER disobey an order from Amayla, Dwalin, or me, it will mean your beard, such that it is.”  Both Kili and Fili released the breathes they’d both been holding. 

 

“Amayla, what punishment would he receive if he were in Gorvuud?”

 

“Assuming that he was not kicked out of the garrison, he would be put on latrine duty, made to muck out the stalls, and have to do urine collection.”

 

Both Fili and Kili blanched at the last one.  Even Thorin looked confused. 

 

Amayla chuckled at their expressions.  “Urine collection is just what it sounds.  You collect bear urine.  But not just any bears; it must be from female bears who are in heat.  Believe me, it’s as bad as it sounds.”

 

It was Thorin who finally asked, “Why?”

 

“Oh, we use it to make what we call a “bear bomb.”  It’s good for distracting male bears when all else fails,” Amayla stated rather matter of factly. 

 

“Mahal Kee, that would be nasty!” whisperred Fili.

 

“Do I have to do that?” asked Kili, real fear in his voice. 

 

“It’s up to Amayla,” stated Thorin. 

 

Kili stood up straight and looked Amayla straight in the eyes.  Amayla returned the stare for a minute and then smiled, “No, you don’t have to, but mainly because I would have to teach you how and I don’t want to do it.  Besides, I don’t even know if there are bears in these woods.”

 

Thorin didn’t let Kili off that easy.  “You will have latrine duty once we resume our journey until I say otherwise.  And you will replace Amayla’s bow!”

 

Once they left Thorin behind, Amayla turned to Kili, “You made a good decision not making the puppy dog face at me Kili, because if you had, I would have made you do urine collection even if I had to do it with you!”

Chapter Text

 

With the directions from Tialla, it wasn’t difficult for the three to make it to the stables. They immediately saw Myrtle and Minty in stalls and started looking for more of their ponies.  Shortly thereafter, a dark haired elf dressed in riding clothes covered with light armor and carrying a large bow on his back and a tall man with shorter brown hair, dressed similarly came walking in leading six more of their ponies.  Fili ran up and took Dolly, his mount, who whinnied in apparent happiness. Kili found his pony, Maisy, but Tigr was not among them. 

 

“Are there any more?” Amayla asked the dark haired elf. 

 

“My brother is bringing in three more.  I take it they belong to you, mistress dwarf.” 

 

“To our company, yes,” Amayla answered anxiously looking around him. 

 

“That’s only eleven,” sighed Kili after putting Maisy in her stall. 

 

Unable to wait any longer, Amayla finally ran out to see if Tigr was among the new arrivals.  She was very confused as the elf she had just been talking to in the stables - same hair, same face, same clothing - appeared to be heading her way leading three more ponies.  But again, she was disappointed not to see Tigr.  “Can I help you with them?” she asked.

 

“Thank you, I take it they belong to you, mistress dwarf.”

 

Amayla frowned in confusion as she claimed Bongo from the elf.  “Yes . . . . to our company,” was her hesitant reply. 

 

She followed dark haired elf number two into the stables and put Bongo into a stall.  Walking out, she spotted Fili and Kili further down the stable talking to the dark haired elf and man again.  Completely confused, Amayla stood turning her head side to side trying to figure out what was going on.  Finally, the man noticed her and started laughing.  Taking pity on her, he approached the confused Dam, bowed crisply saying, “Strider at your service.” 

 

“Amayla at yours.”

 

“Seeing double?” he asked smiling.

 

“I’m not certain, am I?”

 

Strider offered his arm and led her to the others.  Dark haired elf number one bowed, “Elledan, son of Elrond.”

 

“Amayla, heir of Ardru.  PLEASE tell me you have a twin!”

 

Another voice came from behind her, “Elrohir, son of Elrond, at your service.”

 

Amayla turned to see dark haired elf number two bowing to her, grinning ear to pointed ear.  “Thank Mahal, I am NOT going crazy!  Amayla, daughter of Erebor.” 

 

After all the introductions were made and ponies stabled, Amayla approached the twins and Strider, “Do you think any more patrols might bring in more ponies today?”  The concern in her voice was obvious.

 

“I do not believe so m’lady,” Strider was the first to answer, “But patrols will go out again tomorrow morning.”

 

“May I go with them?  Please! My pony hasn’t been found and he is most dear to me.  I could ride one of our ponies.  Believe me, I am quite experienced in patrolling for orcs, I’ve been doing it all my life.” She looked at all three with her most pleading face.  Kili is going to give be crap for this!  Sure enough, when she peaked at him, he was smirking at her. 

 

The two elves and man were discussing her request, but in elvish, so she couldn’t tell how the conversation was going. 

 

Finally, Elrohir, aka dark haired elf number two, spoke up, “Can you ride a horse?”

 

Amayla looked crestfallen to have to admit that she had never ridden a horse, “But I can try.  It can’t be much different than a pony.”

 

The three began speaking among themselves again until finally Strider told her, “We must speak to our father.  We will leave it to Lord Elrond to decide.  Will you accompany us?”

 

“Yes, thank you!”  Amayla was almost bouncing with excitement.

 

As they all started walking, Fili came up behind Amayla and whispered in her ear, “Do you think Thorin would allow you to patrol with elves?”

 

“Shhhhh, I’ll deal with Thorin after Lord Elrond.”

 

“Good luck with that.”

 

Elledan started asking Amayla questions as she struggled to keep up with their long strides.  “So how is it that you have patrolled against orcs all your life?” 

 

“I come from an area of the Blue Mountains call Gorvuud.  I grew up in the garrison there.  It was our duty to protect our people from orc attacks.  To get to the mountains, they had to come through our forest first.  And they didn’t survive if they tried.”

 

“And your weapon of choice?”

 

“I prefer the sword, but am proficient in the bow and battle axe.  I also carry throwing axes and daggers of course.  My least preferred weapon would be the mattock, but I can wield one if necessary.”

 

“Have you ever fought mounted?” asked Elrohir.

 

“No, I cannot say that I have.  Gorvuud is heavily forested.  We patrol on foot.  If we have to travel distances, we would use ponies to get us there, but then we would dismount before continuing. It is much easier to track on foot.  And I am an excellent tracker.”

 

Elrohir smiled at Amayla’s last statement, “You love your mount very much, don’t you?”

 

“Aye, I raised him from a colt.  I saw him the day he was born.  It was love at first sight.”

 

“I will try my best on your behalf.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

They eventually found Lord Elrond in his council chambers with Gandalf, Thorin, Balin, Dwalin and Lindir. Elrond introduced his sons to Thorin and proceeded to ask why the group was there.

 

Elrohir spoke first, “My lord, the dwarrowdam Amalya has asked if she could go on the Western patrol tomorrow.  We have found many of the company’s ponies, but not hers or several others.” 

 

Elrond looked surprised and turned to Amayla, “You wish to ride with the patrol?”

 

“Yes, m’lord, with Thorin’s permission also.” Amayla turned to Thorin who was standing with arms crossed, frowning.

 

“Please uncle, you know how much Tigr means to her.” This time Kili turned on his puppy dog face on to Thorin.

 

“She is most capable,” added Gandalf.

 

Thorin turned to Elrond, “It is your decision to make.  She has my permission.”

 

Elrond nodded to Thorin before turning to Amayla, “You are experienced patrolling for orcs?”

 

“Aye m’lord.  I am a captain of the Gorvuud garrison.  I was trained by my adoptive father, Ardru, general to Thror.  I am very experienced.”

 

“General Ardru is your father?”

 

“Yes m’lord, my adopted father.  I was orphaned when Smaug attacked.”

 

“I am acquainted with Ardru.  We met one time in Mirkwood. Is he well?”

 

At that, Amayla smiled broadly, “Yes m’lord.  Although age is catching up with him, he is still well.”

 

“Do you ride Amayla?”

 

 “I ride ponies, m’lord, but I have never ridden a horse.”

 

“She could ride with me,” offered Strider.

 

“I don’t think so!” came a growl out of Dwalin.

 

All eyes turned to Dwalin, with Thorin looking especially surprised.  Balin spoke up quickly, “Brother, it is not really your decision.”

 

“She should not be sharing a ride with some man!” shouted Dwalin eyeing Strider threateningly.

 

“I don’t see how this is any of your business Dwalin!  It is MY pony that is missing!” Amayla growled back. 

 

Thorin put an arm out to stop Dwalin from advancing and gave him a look to stand down.

 

Elrond broke the silence, “If my sons can make the necessary arrangements to carry Amayla on a horse, I see no reason why she should not join the patrol.  In fact, I am pleased to see the three races working together.”

 

“Thank you m’lord Elrond, Thorin.”  Amayla bowed politely, her smile fading when she saw Dwalin’s face.

 

Once they left, Amayla had to admit to the twins and man that she needed a new bow.  “Mine got broken during the orc attack,” she said looking sideways at Kili.  He had the good grace to mouth to her that he was sorry. 

 

“I’m sure we can find something in the armory,” replied Strider, leading the way. 

 

However, finding a bow for the much shorter dwarf was far harder than expected.  Finally, Strider said he had an idea, that they should wait right there, and he would be back.  While he was gone, Fili, Elrohir, Elledan, and Amayla started a knife throwing contest, with Fili very proudly equal to the twins. 

 

Strider finally came back with a beautifully carved small elvish bow which he presented to Amayla.  She picked it up almost gingerly.  The size seemed perfect.  It was lighter weight than a dwarvish bow would be, but it still felt right in her hands.  Kili came over to admire it also.  It had obviously been recently strung, and Amayla looked at Strider questioningly. 

 

“I restrung it quickly before I brought it here.  It hasn’t been used in about 30 years.” 

 

“Where did it come from?”

 

“I made it when I was a youth.”

 

“It is beautiful.”

 

Amayla notched an arrow and let it fly.  While not a bulls-eye, it was close.  “I could get use to this,” she said smiling.  She tried another arrow, getting it even closer to the center.  She smiled even bigger. 

 

“You like it then?” Strider asked. 

 

“Yes, very much.” She answered. 

 

“Then I give it you as a gift.  It is yours.”

 

Amayla, Fili, and Kili all froze and exchanged looks of horror between each other. 

 

The twins and Strider exchanged looks of confusion. 

 

Amayla spoke first, choosing her words carefully, “Strider, are you married?”

 

He chuckled, and said “no.”

 

Fili and Kili looked even more horrified.

 

Amayla continued, “Ummm, Strider, I’m going to assume that you are not well acquainted with Dwarven customs are you?”

 

“No Amayla, I’m not.  Have I done something to insult you? For I assure you, none was intended.”

 

“No, you did not insult me.  In fact, I would call it a compliment, but I don’t think you intended that either.”

 

Strider looked even more concerned.

 

Amayla calmly explained, “To Dwarves, a handmade gift such as this, from a single male to a single female, would be considered an offering of courtship, essentially you are proposing marriage.”

 

Strider’s face went pale.  Elohir and Elladan broke into laughter and rushed up to their brother offering their congratulations to the stricken man.

 

“Wait a second!” Amayla interrupted, also smiling, “I did NOT accept they gift  - yet.”

 

“Oh no, don’t break his heart!” Elledan cried out, while still laughing.

 

“What happens if he takes it back?” asked Elrohir.

 

Fili and Kili looked appropriately appalled.  Fili spoke up, “That would be about the biggest insult you could give a dam.  We would be forced to ask for retribution.” They both moved to stand next to Amayla assuming their most fierce protective stance.

 

Strider looked to both his brothers, unable to speak. “Don’t look to us brother.  I doubt that father would want you to create a diplomatic crisis by insulting her,” Elrohir stated shrugging his shoulders.

 

Amayla made a big show of slowly looking over the bow, then looking over Strider. “It is a VERY nice bow, so I am tempted. . . .” 

 

Strider stood tall, ready to take whatever Amayla was going to give him. 

 

“But . . . you are a little young for me, so I’m afraid I have to turn down the gift.  No hard feelings I hope?” And she started to laugh. 

 

 Strider slouched visibly, but joined in the laughter that broke out all around him. 

 

“Well, I for one am terribly disappointed that we’re not going to have a wedding,” groused Elledan. 

 

“I think our sister might be a bit relieved,” Elrohir added, nudging Strider. 

 

“And I think I know a certain dwarf who might be also,” Kili whispered to Fili, causing them both to smirk.

 

“Does this mean that you don’t want the bow?” questioned Strider.

 

“No, I do, I really do.  You just can’t gift it to me.”

 

“But Kili can buy it from him,” suggested Fili, finally stopping laughing.  “Uncle told him that he was supposed to replace her bow.”

 

“That seems reasonable,” agreed Elrohir.

 

“Yes, would you sell it to me?” asked Kili.

 

“As much as this really means too much to me to put a price on in it, it would seem to be the best way out of the situation.  So yes, I will sell it to you.”

 

“How much?” asked Kili.

 

“One single gold coin.”

 

“That’s it?  It’s worth far more than that,” questioned Kili.

 

“It’s priceless to me, so I will not ask for anymore.”

 

Kili reached into a pocket, pulled out a coin and gave it to Strider.  Strider gave Kili the bow and he gave the bow to Amayla.

 

“Thank you Strider.  I will treasure it,” said Amayla sincerely.

 

Elledan then questioned out loud, “Is it okay for Kili to give Amayla the bow? Are they getting married now?”

 

“No, because Kili didn’t make it.  Plus, he was ordered to replace it.  He’s not doing it of his own free will so it’s not considered a courting gift,” Fili assured him.

 

“Well you’ve got the bow, now how about some arrows?  Are we off to the fletcher?” asked Strider.

 

“You read my mind!”  smiled Amalya.  “Come on Kili, you need new arrows too.”

 

“Can we eat some lunch first?” grumbled Kili.

 

“Good idea!” responded Elrohir, slapping Kili on the back. “This way!”

 

The six new friends made their way to a dining hall and followed it up spending most of the afternoon making new arrows until Tialla tracked down Amayla, demanding that she return to her room to start getting ready for dinner. 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

When they returned to her room, Amayla saw an exquisite light purple dress that Tialla had laid out on her bed.  It was very simple, scoop neck and short, loose, fluttering sleeves.  It appeared that the length was short enough to fit her.  There was also a corset lying next to it as well as a pair of silver slippers on the floor.  “It is beautiful,” Amayla whispered in awe.  How did you manage this?”

 

Tialla smiled in appreciation, “I’m pleased you like it.  But you need to take a quick bath before you put it on.”

 

Amayla hastily stripped and jumped into the warm bath that Tialla had already drawn.  She washed her hair and body quickly and hopped out to start drying off.  “I’m out,” she shouted to Tialla.

 

“Well that was a quick bath! Good, now we can start on your hair,” she said grabbing a brush.  Tialla toweled and brushed Amayla’s hair while she sat quietly in a robe.  She started braiding and twisting it up into an elaborate half-up, half-down style.  “There, all set, I want to emphasize your lovely neck and I think this does it.  Now into the undergarments.”

 

Tialla helped Amayla into the corset which was shaped differently than what Amayla was used to. Usually her corset held her breasts down and tight, but this corset pushed her breasts up and out.  “Hmmmm,” frowned Tialla, “you are a little bit larger on top than I thought.  Let’s put the dress on and see.”

 

They slipped the dress carefully over her head and let it slide down her arms.  When it came to her breasts, they had to tug it slight to get it down, but once it did, the dress hung perfectly.  It came in slightly at the waist flaring at the hips to hang full to the floor.  The length was perfect.  While Tialla was lacing up the back, Amayla asked, “How did you manage such a perfect fit without measuring me?” 

 

“Easy, I just measured your clothes as they were hanging out to dry.”

 

Finally, Tialla let Amayla look at herself in a mirror.  Amayla barely recognized herself.  “You look beautiful,” Tialla whispered.  Amayla tugged on the dress across her chest, “Is it too tight? Or too low?”

 

“No, it is perfect.  It shows you off perfectly.  Do not be ashamed of your body.”

 

“I’ve never worn anything like this before.  You can see my cleavage!”

 

“There is no reason you should not.  You are female and I think it’s nice to flaunt what we have every now and then, it keeps the males on their toes.”  She winked.  “Who is escorting you to dinner?” Tialla asked.

 

“Ummm nobody.  I was just going to walk by myself.”

 

“You most certainly will not.  I will go with you.” Tialla insisted.

 

When they arrived neared the dining room, they ran into Strider.  “M’lord, would you escort mistress Amayla into dinner please?”

 

“Of course, it would be my privilege.”

 

Tialla gave Amayla’s hand a squeeze, “Have a wonderful time, my dear.” And she left.

 

“You look lovely, Amayla,” Strider stated.

 

“Thank you, but I feel a little ridiculous.  I’m a warrior.  I never dress like this!”

 

“Who says that a warrior cannot wear a dress sometimes?”  He smiled at her as they entered the room. 

 

The dinner was set up outdoors as it was a warm evening.  The sun had recently set leaving streaks of red and purple filling the sky.  The early evening stars were just beginning to shine next to the thinnest sliver of new moon.

 

Strider left Amayla off with Fili, Kili, and Bofur before seeking his father.  Kili’s eyes grew big as he stared at Amayla in her dress.  Fili politely complimented her while Kili just stared at her breasts. “Wow Amayla, have you always had those?” Kili asked waving his hand in the direction of her cleavage, “OWWW” 

 

Bofur smacked him upside his head, “Lad, you can’t be saying stuff like that!”

 

“I saw you looking too Bofur!” Kili accused the hatted dwarf while rubbing his sore head. 

 

“Well it’s okay to look but you’re not supposed to stare and you DEFINITELY can’t point it out lad!”

 

Amayla stepped between them, “Thank you Bofur, I think.  It is nice to see all of you all cleaned up.”

 

The three exchanged evil smiles. 

 

“Ok, what’s the story. What did you guys do?” Amayla groaned.

 

Fili snickered, “We just bathed.”

 

Kili continued, “Yeah, we all just bathed. . .  outside . . . “

 

“Oh no,” Amayla squeezed her eyes in fear.

 

“In one of those fancy baths these elves have,” Fili added.

 

“With the statues in them!” finished Bofur as the three of them burst out laughing.

 

“Who is all?” demanded Amayla.

 

“The company, minus you of course and Thorin and Bilbo.”

 

“The whole company bathed outside in a fountain? Please tell me you left SOME clothes on!” Amayla moaned in despair.

 

“Not a stitch! Thorin told us to clean up for dinner, so we did!” choked out Kili through the laughter. 

 

“Did anybody see you?”

 

“Sure did! We gave a few elves some sights that they won’t soon forget!  Didn’t we lads?” Bofur nudged Kili.

 

“Oh Mahal! I am walking away from you three right now! Please try to behave yourselves tonight!” Amayla scolded. 

 

She walked over to where Oin and Gloin were talking with Bifur and Bombur.  They stopped talking immediately and began showering Amayla with compliments.  Gloin topped all of them by saying, “Amayla, you are undoubtedly the second most beautiful dam in all of Arda!  I must introduce you to my wee lad Gimli.”

 

Laughing, Amayla responded, hand on her heart, “Gloin, that is probably the nicest compliment I will ever receive!  But don’t you think I’m a little old for Gimli?  He’s younger than Kili, right?”

 

“Aye he is.  But he’s very mature for his age and takes after me!” he responded, puffing out his chest and stroking his beard.

 

Amayla could only shake her head in amusement.  Changing the subject, she asked, “Do any of you know how long we are staying in here in Rivendell?”

 

“Aye, Balin said we were staying at least three more nights.  Said something about waiting for the crescent moon,” replied Bombur.  “Not sure what we’re going to do the next few days, especially with no real food to eat.”

 

“Awww poor Bombur,” Amayla gave him squeeze, “You could always spar with me!”

 

Bombur just growled at Amayla. 

 

During their discussion, Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, and Bilbo walked into the room.  Dwalin spotted her immediately, laughing with Bombur.  Mahal, what is she wearing? . . . Where’d she get that dress?. . . Why is it so tight across her chest? . . . Where did those luscious breasts come from?. . .  I’ve never noticed those before. . . . Shite – she should not be wearing such a dress . . .  She should have a coat on over her. . . Anyone could see down her dress, especially these blasted tall elves. . .  But, she does look bonnie in it. . . . And with her hair like that, I would have easy access to her neck, that lovely neck. . .   I can imagine kissing that neck, starting behind her ear, then moving to around to the hollow in her throat and going down, lower, to the crease between her breasts … that dress would need to go. . . . I bet that it would be easy to slide off her shoulders. . . .  a simple little push and it would fall to the floor . . .

 

“Brother?  Are you listening?”

 

“What?” Dwalin grumbled back to Balin.

 

“I said, did you see Amayla in her dress?”

 

“Aye, I see it.  She should have a coat on over it.  It’s not proper.” 

 

“Now brother. Don’t be so stuffy.  She looks quite lovely.”

 

Bilbo agreed heartily, “Who knew she was so beautiful?”

 

Dwalin just frowned at him. 

 

Noticing that the four had walked in, Amayla waved from across the room.  All the compliments she had received gave her the confidence to hold her head up and stride right up to the only being whose opinion she really cared about.  Thorin spoke first telling her she looked lovely.  Balin followed.  When Dwalin said nothing, his brother prompted him, “Dwalin, doesn’t Amayla look nice tonight?”

 

Unfortunately, Dwalin’s mind wasn’t functioning properly, completely overloaded with thoughts that he did not want to say out loud.  “Aren’t you going to be cold in that?” was all the came out. 

 

Amayla was shocked to her core.  Every muscle in her body clenched.  Her eyes bore into him, not blinking.  Nobody moved for a second, until Amayla finally spat out, “No, I won’t be.”  She turned to the hobbit who couldn’t believe what Dwalin had just said, “Bilbo, would you like to meet Lord Elrond’s sons?”  She grabbed him fiercely by the hand, and nearly dragged him away. 

 

Amayla made the necessary introductions and Bilbo and the elves started some lively discussions about life in the Shire.  Amayla smiled politely but kept fairly quiet.  Why should I care so much about what he thinks . . . It’s not as if he has pledged himself to me . . . he’s never said anything even remotely romantic . . . reclaiming Erebor is all that matters . . . Stop thinking about it. . . .

 

“Amayla?”

 

“I’m sorry, what did you say Bilbo?”

 

“Dinner is ready; shall we sit?”

 

Amayla took a seat between Bilbo and Strider.  Lord Elrond stood at the head of the table next to Thorin and Gandalf.  He raised a wine glass and made a toast, “To our guests, may the road ahead be safe and smooth and may all find themselves safely home.”

 

“Here, Here!” All raised their glasses and took a drink of an excellent vintage wine. 

 

“Do you like the wine?” asked Strider.

 

“Yes, very much, but I don’t want to have more than one glass so I will be clear-headed tomorrow.”

 

“I am hopeful that we will be successful and find your mount.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Elrond clinked his wine glass to make another announcement, “I realize that we elves do not eat as much meat as you dwarves, so I had the cooks fix something that would be palatable to both races.”  As he spoke, servants carrying large covered platters set them down along the table.  At Elrond’s nod, they lifted the covers to reveal large, whole fishes, dressed and spiced.  Most around the table “ohh’d” and “ahh’d” over the beautiful dishes.  Amayla slumped in her seat.  Mahal, could this night get any worse?

 

Amayla made it through dinner, picking at the fish and enjoying many of the vegetable dishes the elves served.  She listened to Bilbo tell more stories to the elves as they all seemed eager to learn everything about hobbits.  Bilbo was thrilled to be the center of attention.  It pleased Amayla to see Bilbo so animated and proud, and allowed her to fade into the background, only needing to smile at appropriate times.  She managed to sneak a few peaks at Dwalin who seemed happily consuming copious amounts of fish while engaged with other members of the company. 

 

When she finally thought that she could leave without seeming rude, she stood to say good-night, explaining that she wanted to be fresh for the morning patrol.  She was surprised when it was Balin who stood and said that he would escort her to her room.  She graciously accepted his arm, but as they left the others behind she couldn’t help telling Balin that she was perfectly capable of walking to her room on her own. 

 

“Oh course you are Lassie, but it’s not often that an old dwarrow like me has the opportunity to have such a beautiful, young dam on his arm.”

 

Amayla smiled and held the the white-haired dwarf’s arm a little tighter as they made their way through Rivendell.  

 

“Amayla, I feel I should apologize for my brother.  He is not the most gallant of dwarves.”

 

Amayla chuckled at Balin’s word choice, “Gallant? No, I do not not imagine that is a word that is used to describe Dwalin very often.  But I don’t see why it is your job to make apologies for him.  He only said what he thought.”

 

“No lassie, he often says things without thinking, and that is why I often have to apologize for him.”

 

Amayla couldn’t speak as her throat started to constrict and her eyes began to fill with tears.  Luckily, they reached her door before any spilled over.  She whispered good-night to Balin and quickly closed the door behind.  Tialla had left her now freshly laundered clothes on a table for her.  Amayla made quick work of her laces and let the dress fall to the floor.  Part of Amayla wanted to rip the dress to pieces but her more rationale side did not want to hurt Tialla who had gone to so much trouble to create the beautiful garment.  In the end, she draped the gown over a chair, hurried into a sleep shirt, and sank into the blissfully welcoming bed.  Enveloped in softness, her anxious mind succumbed to the comfort around her, and she fell asleep mercifully quickly. 

Chapter Text

 

Tialla gently shook Amayla awake just as the first rays of the sun appeared over the horizon.  “Good morning Mistress Amayla, I have some food ready for you so you can go down to the stables right away,” the elf happily chirped. “Did you have a good time last night?”

 

“Just about everyone loved the dress,” Amayla stretched as she spoke. 

 

“Just about?” Tialla questioned, eyes furrowed. 

 

“Nevermind, it was a lovely evening.  Thank you again for all your troubles,” Amayla smiled.  “And thank you for this breakfast.  I do want to get the stables as soon as possible.”

 

Amayla made her way to her bathroom, finished her ablutions quickly, and dressed in her freshly cleaned clothes.  Pausing but a moment to eat some grapes and a delicious raisin scone, she grabbed some weapons and was out the door in a flash. 

 

Elledan, Elrohir, and Strider were already in the stables pulling out their horses when Amayla arrived.  “Good morning, I hope I’m not late,” she greeted brightly. 

 

“We haven’t been here but a few minutes ourselves, Amayla.  We haven’t yet decided what mount you should try . . .” started Elrohir.

 

“I was thinking about that – Elrohir?” The elf smiled and nodded. “I think it would be best if I rode behind one of you rather than wasting time trying to learn to ride myself.  I don’t want to slow down the patrol at all.  Also, when we find Tigr, I’ll just ride him back!” Amayla stated firmly. 

 

Elrohir’s face fell slightly, “That makes sense, but I was hoping to be able to try to see if you could ride a horse.”

 

Amayla smiled in response, “I would like that also.  And after Tigr is safely in the stable, we can try.”

 

“So you’re with me then?” asked Strider, “or is your dwarven guard going to take off my head?”

 

Amayla shook her head in disgust. “He can rot in a troll cave for all I care!”

 

The three shot smirks between them.    

 

“I didn’t bring my new bow yet as I don’t think I’m ready for shooting while mounted yet, but I have my sword and dagger and some throwing axes if necessary.  Are we ready?” 

 

Strider mounted first, with Elledan and Elrohir ready to assist Amayla.  Elrohir helped keep Strider’s horse still, while Elledan boosted Amayla up with his hands.   Strider grabbed an arm and Amayla stepped up and threw her leg over the back of the saddle.  It was a tight fit as Amayla wrapped her arms around Strider and grabbed his belt.  Her legs managed to reach about half way down the horse’s belly, so she could use them to keep her steady.  She couldn’t help but think of what Dwalin would say about how intimately she was positioned behind Strider.  Screw him! 

 

“Are you okay back there?” Strider asked.

 

“Yes, it’s not bad for me.  Are you okay?”

 

“I’m good.  I’ll take it slowly at first, just let me know if you need me to slow down.”

 

Elrohir and Elledan mounted up and led them out to where the rest of the patrol, six other mounted elves, were waiting.  They all moved out at a walk and it took Amayla only a short time to relax into the gait, as it was not much different than riding Tigr.  When they moved into a trot, Amayla found herself holding on a little tighter to Strider’s belt, but was still comfortable. 

 

“You doing alright?” Strider asked after a while.

 

“Yes! I’m enjoying this.  You get quite the view from up here!”

 

“We’re heading to that forested area ahead.  It’s probably two miles or so away.  That’s where the other ponies were found.” 

 

“When we get there, I’d like to get down and look for tracks.” 

 

Strider nodded in agreement. 

 

When they reached the forest, they walked the horses into the forest for a few meters before dismounting.  Amayla walked a way off by herself and gave a loud whistle in three short bursts.  She waited for a moment and then continued walking.  Strider, Elledan, and several Elven guards joined her.  They all looked around for tracks but could find none. 

 

“Where’s the nearest water source?” Amayla asked. 

 

Elledan pointed and they headed off in that direction.  Two elves stayed back with the horses.  They all kept checking for tracks or any signs of the ponies along the way.  It was finally at a small stream that Amayla found the first tracks.  Strider cautioned her that it could have been from the ponies they found yesterday, but she didn’t lose hope.  Amayla whistled again, but still no Tigr. 

 

“We’ll split up.  Elrohir and I will take some guards and go one way, you and Strider go the other.  We meet back here in two hours.  Which way do you want to go Amayla, upstream or downstream?” Elledan asked. 

Amayla looked around.  “Our garrison’s stable was upstream from the forest.   I’ll go up.”

 

After walking for nearly an hour, Amayla found more tracks.  She whistled again and waited.  Growing frustrated and a little scared, she whistled again and again.  Strider put his hand on her shoulder when they heard a rustling.  Turning to the sound, Amayla burst into tears as she saw her beloved pony coming trotting out of the trees, trailed by three mares.  “Tigr!” Amayla ran to him and threw her arms around his neck, whispering words of love and scratching his ears.  Tigr responded with a loud whinny and tossed his head.  Strider and the guards gathered the reins of the other three ponies and began to check them over.  Amayla did the same to Tigr was as relieved to see that he seemed to not have suffered any injuries. 

 

They walked back downstream to meet up with the twins and the rest of the patrol.  Amayla’s walk was much lighter and brisker as she led her pony.  She was smiling and talking to Tigr, constantly patting the pony.  Strider couldn’t help but chuckle at her, “He seems as happy to see you as you to see him.” 

 

“I am beyond relieved.  I was imagining some horrible things with him out here all alone. Poor boy.”

 

“He wasn’t alone, and looking at the way the mares are following him, I don’t think anything horrible happened.  In fact, I’m thinking that he might have been having a very good time!  I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some chestnut foals born in the spring.” Strider winker at Amayla. 

 

“Tigr!” The pony tossed his head, seemingly verifying everything Strider had said. 

 

Both parties met up at about the same time.  Elledan and Elohir rushed up to greet Amayla and meet her pony.  Amayla glowed with happiness as she showed off Tigr to the elves and started back to where the horses were left.  All joy left her though as they approached the two guards who had been left behind.  Amayla’s keen eye spotted it immediately, a large lump of dark fur at the bottom of a tree.  Her heart fell and for a moment she couldn’t breathe.  Mahal, no! Don’t let that be what I think it is!  She dropped Tigr’s reins and ran forward.  “NO, NO, NO!” was all she could scream.  The two guards moved away from her as she fell to the ground to cradle the head of the bear.  “WHAT HAPPENED?  WHY DID YOU KILL HIM?” 

 

The guards looked to Elledan for guidance.  “Answer her, why did you kill it?”  

 

“We were up in a tree keeping watch when the bear came out from the trees.  It stopped at the bottom of the tree we were in and stood up like it was going to climb up.  So we shot him.”

 

“That’s it? That’s all he was doing? He was sniffing you; he was curious!  And you KILLED HIM?  There was no reason it.  YOU ARE MURDERERS!”  Amayla sprang forward and since she was too short to punch either guard in the face, she came up between the first’s legs and slammed her fist into his groin.  When the elf doubled over in pain, she followed with a punch straight at his nose.  The sickening sound of the cartilage breaking gave Amayla a small measure of satisfaction.  She turned to the second elf who rapidly ducked behind the tree. 

 

Strider grabbed Amayla from behind, wrapping his arms around her and lifting her up off the ground.  She kicked back at him, her armored boots slamming into his shin causing him to drop her.  She rolled over closer to the tree, jumping to her feet to go after the second guard.  He jumped up, catching hold of a branch and pulled himself up the tree.  Unfortunately for Amayla, she was too short to reach the lowest branch, instead settling for a string of curses in Khuzdul that would have made Bofur blush. 

 

Meanwhile, Strider managed to hobble over to Amayla and stood next to her.  She eyed him warily but he held his arms up in peace.  “I’m not going to touch you again, but would you please tell us what is going on?”

 

Amayla turned to Strider and looked at him as if he was completely daft, “They killed a bear!”  When Strider didn’t register understanding, she turned to all the elves and was displeased to see similar looks of confusion. 

 

She sighed in frustration, “There was no reason for it!  Look at him, he was a yearling.  He was just curious.  All they had to do was to yell at him and he would have left!”

 

Strider responded, “Amayla you must calm down.  The guards were just doing their jobs.”

 

“Their jobs do not include killing innocent bears!  I do not understand why you are all being so calm about this! Do you not care that bears protect you against orcs?  Are you that ignorant or simply foolish?”

 

Elleden stepped forward, “There is no prohibition against killing bears when necessary.”

 

“I guarantee you it wasn’t necessary!”  Tears were now streaming down Amayla’s face. 

 

Elleden put his arm on her shoulder, “Amayla, let the guard come down.  We need to return your ponies to the stable.  We will talk more about this with our father when we get home.”

 

Amayla realized that the elves were not as concerned about the bear killing as she was, but she would speak to Lord Elrond about it!  “Fine, I won’t do anything to that one, but they will bury the bear before we leave.”

 

“Bury a bear?”

 

“You will give him the respect in death that was not given to him in life.  Return him to the forest!”

 

Elrohir directed the elf on the tree to come down and start digging.  The other elf was still trying to stop his nose from bleeding. 

 

Amayla stood back, arms crossed, frowning, as the elves dug a hole for the murdered bear.  When they laid the bear down into the hole, she stepped up and gave a silent prayer to Mahal before she allowed them to begin to cover him with dirt.  It wasn’t until the last shovelful was patted down that Amayla turned to mount Tigr.  The ride back was not the most pleasant.  Amayla sat grim-faced on Tigr’s back, refusing to engage in Strider’s attempt at conversation, merely giving short answers or grunts when necessary. 

 

When they arrived back in Rivendell, they went straight to the stables.  Surprisingly, Fili, Kili, and Thorin were waiting there to greet them. 

 

“You found them Amayla!” Kili shouted. 

 

Amayla could not bring herself to join in his enthusiasm.  The look on her face raised concern in the three dwarves. 

 

“What happened?” asked Thorin.

 

“Stupid, ignorant, f’ing elves killed an innocent bear!  And they’re not even sorry about it!”

 

Thorin and his nephews could only look between themselves, eyes wide and mouths hanging open.  They were well aware of what Amayla’s level of anger must be. 

 

“I need to hit something!” Amalya growled in frustration. 

 

“I’ll take care of Tigr!” Fili immediately offered grabbing his reins and staying out of Amayla’s reach.

 

“And I’ve got the other ponies.” Kili followed without missing a beat.

 

“I guess that only leaves me.  Will I do?” Thorin asked humbly. 

 

“Yes, I suppose you will.  Come on.”

 

“I look forward to it.” Thorin bowed to Amayla and move to have her lead the way. 

 

Upon arrival to an empty sparring ring, Thorin remarked, “It is strange that we have not yet sparred.  This should be fun.”

 

“Just be warned that I will hold nothing back; no wooden toys today.”

 

“Agreed.” 

 

And they took their stances.

 

 

Back at the stables, Dwalin had arrived hoping to see if Amayla had found Tigr.  He was startled to find Fili in the stall with her chestnut pony.  “She found him then.  I’m sure she’s pleased.  Where is Amayla?”

 

“She was really upset when she arrived.  The elves she was with shot and killed a bear!”

 

“Shite, how pissed was she?”

 

Kili came walking up and joined the conversation, “I’ve never seen her so mad, even when she punched me.  She said the elves didn’t even seem sorry.”

 

Fili continued, “She said that she wanted to hit something, so we volunteered to stable the ponies and Uncle volunteered to spar with her.”

 

“Oh Mahal!” Dwalin rubbed his beard, “This is not good.  She should not be sparring with Thorin when she’s upset.  Dammit!  This is not good!!”  With that Dwalin took off at a run.

 

Fili and Kili looked at each other in confusion.  “Do you know what’s going on?” Kili asked.  “No, let’s just get the ponies settled and go find out.”

 

 

Amayla was enjoying sparring with Thorin.  She could swing as hard as she wanted and Thorin was able to take it.  Her first swings were against the stupid, murderous guards.  Next, she imagined swinging against the rest of the elves who didn’t even care about the dead bear.  Then it was against the despicable orcs that cause Tigr to get lost in the forest in the first place.  She was sparring without even thinking, which began to surprise her.  It was all so familiar.  Shift, feint, strike, dodge.  Thrust, block, turn, strike.  The movements took her back sixty years when she was training to join the garrision.  Her father would drill her over and over again.  Shift, feint, strike, dodge.  Thrust, block, turn, strike.  Thorin’s responses to her attacks were just like her father’s.  Soon all Amayla could hear in her head was her Ardru’s instructions, “Block left, strike right.  Parry, shift, thrust, block.”   When Amayla slowed, Thorin attacked and again it reminded her of Ardru.  He’ll shift right, step left, and come back high right.  Amayla could hear Ardru repeating that sequence as Thorin performed each move.  It was becoming harder to concentrate on Thorin’s attacks when all she could see was Ardru’s face before her; the scar down the left side of his face, the few remaining red streaks in his white beard, the three braids he always wore in it.  Soon her eyes began to fill with tears and she barely caught Thorin’s sword as he swung it towards her head.  Thorin froze immediately.  “Amayla, are you alright, are you hurt?” he huffed out, dropping his sword to his side. 

 

“I yield,” she whispered as the tears started to flow.  She dropped her sword and dagger and ran out of the ring and out of the hall.  

 

Thorin stood confused and tired, trying to catch his breath as Dwalin came running in.  Seeing Thorin by himself, Dwalin knew what had happened.  “Where’d she go?” he demanded of Thorin.  Startled by Dwalin, Thorin tried to explain, “We were sparring and she just started crying.  I don’t know what happened.” 

 

“I do.  Just tell me where she went!”

 

Thorin pointed in the general direction and Dwalin took off again.

 

He found her in one of the small gardens that seemed to populate Rivendell.  She was sitting on one of two benches, tree branches overhanging them laden with blooming flowers.  Very pretty if you liked that sort of thing.  Dwalin could not have cared less.  All he saw was Amayla, hands in her head, crying. 

 

He approached her quietly, sat down next to her, and put his hand on her shoulder.  “Lassie.”

 

“Go away!” she spat out.

 

“No.”

 

“Just go away!”

 

“You miss your father, don’t you Amayla.”

 

“Yes,” she sobbed, trying to settle down, “how . . . how did you know?”

 

“Why do you think I never arranged for you and Thorin to spar before?  I knew this would happen.”

 

“You knew?”

 

“Aye.  He fights just like your father, doesn’t he Lassie?”

 

“Yes.” She sniffed.  “It was like I was a dwarfling again, training to join the garrison.  Thorin’s every move reminded me of Ardru when he was still at his best.  How did you know?”  She tried to wipe the tears that were now flowing freely down her face.

 

“I’m a warrior Lassie.  I can recognize fighting styles and yours and Thorin’s are almost exactly the same.  I saw it when we first sparred.  That’s why I did so well against you.  It was like sparring with Thorin.  I thought it might upset you to spar against Thorin given your feelings about your father.  You have a very tender heart.” 

 

Amayla wiped her eyes again and frowned at him.

 

Dwalin immediately began to try to recover, “Don’t get me wrong now Lassie, you’re as strong a warrior as there is.  I’m honored to fight by your side, but you also have a very tender heart.  There are not many dwarves who would be so kind to our burgler, or to the young hobbit lad you told me about, or even to Bifur.  You’ve even made friends with these blasted elves, well at least you did before they killed a bear.  See, I knew you shouldn’t trust them!”

 

That got a smile out of Amayla.  “Thank you Dwalin. But I still haven’t forgiven you for last night.  You were very mean.”

 

Dwalin put his arm around her and gave her a squeeze.  “I am sorry about that.  You know how we dwarves are about dams.  I didn’t like the way the elves could look . . . down at you.” 

 

She laid her head on against his arm, “I think maybe Balin was wrong.  Last night, when he was walking me home, he said that you weren’t very gallant and that’s why you said what you said to me.”

 

Dwalin chuckled.  “That sounds like my brother.  Father always said that Balin got all the vocabulary when he was born. Didn’t leave any for me.  That’s why I only grunted until I was about ten years old. I’m more of an ‘actions speak louder than words’ kind of dwarf.”

 

Amayla turned to Dwalin and smiled, “You didn’t talk until you were ten?!”

 

Dwalin shrugged. “Apparently Balin was really good at figuring out what I wanted and just spoke for me.  My mother was worried that there was something wrong with me, but my father kept saying that any lad who could handle an axe the way I did had nothing wrong with him.”

 

“You were handling an axe at ten years old?!”

 

“It was wood lassie; but, aye, I was.  My adad said that my very first words were ‘DU BEKAR’!”

 

At that, Amayla started laughing. 

 

“Good to hear you laughing, Lassie.”

 

Amayla turned to face Dwalin. He returned her gaze, reaching up to her face and wiping away the last of her tears.  His touch was so gentle against her skin.  Their eyes locked, and the world seemed to stop.  She looked down at his lips and he leaned forward . . . .

Chapter Text

. . . until Thorin, Fili, and Kili came storming into the garden.  Sitting up quickly, they both frowned at the line of Durin. 

 

“Is everything alright?  What’s going on?  Amayla are you hurt?” he demanded, seemingly oblivious to what he had interrupted. 

 

“I’m fine Thorin.” 

 

“Aye,” Dwalin added, “Everything’s just fine.”  “Might have been much better if you three hadn’t showed up.” He added under his breath.

 

“Amayla I was worried.  I didn’t hurt you, did I?”  Thorin asked.

 

Amayla stood up and patted his arm.  “No, I wasn’t hurt, just sad.  I need to go back and get my weapons.  I’ll explain on the way.”

 

Fili and Kili exchanged smirks as they followed behind the others.

 

As they walked, Amayla explained to Thorin the reason for her tears.  Thorin seemed to puff up a little more than was usual even for him when Amayla told him that he fought just like Ardru.  She even got to witness a rare Thorin Oakenshield smile. 

 

After picking up Amayla’s weapons and letting Amayla and Thorin clean up, the five decided to get something to eat.  In the dining room, Thorin held out a chair for Amayla to sit in, while Dwalin shoved Kili out of the way when he attempted to sit on Amayla’s other side.  Lunch consisted of potatoes, cheese, and a salad of greens. 

 

“You would think that if the elves have all this cheese that there would be some beef from one of the cows that got old or something,” groused Dwalin.  That got a good round of laughs from everyone. 

 

“I think the potatoes are really good,” Kili said as he stuffed another helping in his mouth. 

 

“What did you say Kee?  I couldn’t hear you with all that food in your mouth.  And thank you SO much for spraying half of it on my plate!” Fili replied while hitting his brother on the arm. 

 

The two stopped their tussling when Lindir appeared, giving them a sneer that seemed permanent on his pretty face.  “My Lord Elrond requests that Mistress Amayla join him and his sons in his chambers.” 

 

Amayla grimaced, “He’s going to want to talk about what happened in the woods this morning.”

 

“About the bear?” asked Kili.

 

“Yes, but maybe something about what I did to the elves who killed him.  That’s fine, I have a few things I want to say to him too!”

 

“What did you do to them?” asked Thorin raising an eyebrow.

 

Amalya shrugged, “Just punched one in the nose and the family jewels; a little worse than what I did to Kili.  Definitely broke his nose, heard the pop as clear as day.” 

 

“That’s my lassie!” Dwalin replied proudly slapping Amayla on the back.

 

“I do want to talk to Lord Elrond but I promised Elrohir that he could try to teach me to ride a horse this afternoon and I really need to get some sparring practice in with Bilbo.” Amayla rubbed her head and turned to Fili and Kili.  “Lads, would you please find Bilbo and start with him.  He needs to get comfortable with that new sword of his.”

 

“That sounds like a good idea,” Thorin added, giving his nephews the royal glare. 

 

“Thank you Thorin, I guess I’ll go now.”  Amayla stood up from the table.

 

“You’ll not be going by yourself, Lassie.  I’ll go with you,” Dwalin insisted.  And the two followed behind Lindir. 

 

*****

 

Fili and Kili immediately started chuckling and nudging each other once Dwalin was out of sight. 

 

“Stop acting like dwarflings!  What is the matter with you two?” Thorin demanded.

 

The brothers looked to each other, trying to hold back their laughter.  “Come on Uncle Thorin, surely you see what’s going on!” said Fili.

 

“Going on where?” Thorin frowned.

 

“Between Dwalin and Amayla!  We’ve got bets going on who will ask the other to court first.  Do you want in on it?”

 

“What do you mean ‘Dwalin and Amayla courting’?”

 

“Do you truly mean that you haven’t noticed?” Kili completely lost it and burst out laughing.  “Uncle, I can’t believe it.  Dwalin can’t take his eyes off her.  He practically knocked me over when I went to sit next to her!  And he just called her ‘his lassie’!”

 

“And haven’t you ever seen them while they are on watch?” Fili added. “He always makes her tea and then they sit together and talk quietly, like two little lovebirds.  I’ve seen it a couple of times when they thought I was asleep.” 

 

“And there was what was happening on that bench right before we got there.  Good thing we weren’t a few minutes later, who knows what we might have seen!” Kili nudged his brother once again. 

 

Thorin frowned at his nephews, thinking it all over.  “That would explain why he didn’t want her to ride with that Strider fellow. --- Dwalin and Amayla?  I guess that makes sense.  I’m just a little surprised.  Didn’t think Dwalin had it in him.”  Even Thorin couldn’t hold back a chuckle. 

 

“So, you want in on the bets?” asked Kili. 

 

“No! And I wouldn’t let Dwalin find out about your wagers if you value your beards!” he warned.  “Now go find the hobbit.”

 

***** 

 

Amayla and Dwalin followed Lindir to a beautifully appointed room.  There was a large round table in the middle around which sat Elrond, Elrohir, Elledan and Strider.  Amayla and Dwalin sat on the other side. 

 

“So I understand you found all your missing ponies.  That is quite good news.” Elrond started the conversation.

 

“Yes.  I am greatly relieved.  I thank you again for letting me go with the patrol.”

 

“But I understand there was an incident afterwards, about a bear.”

 

“Yes, Lord Elrond, two of your guards shot a bear and I --- disagreed -- with their actions.  I disagreed most vehemently.”  Amayla replied politely.  Dwalin chuckled at the statement.

 

“You struck one?”

 

“Yes m’lord, in the groin and in the nose.  I believe I broke it – his nose that is.”  Dwalin chuckled even louder that time.  Even the twins seemed to be smirking a little.

 

Elrond shot looks of disapproval around the room. 

 

“You do not seem apologetic for your actions Amayla.”

 

“Not in the least, m’lord.”

 

“Would you care to explain yourself, please.”

 

“Gladly m’lord.  Your guards shot a young bear who was no threat to them and I base that on what they themselves said.  Where I was raised, we respect bears and rely on them to keep orcs at bay.  I am quite surprised that beings so wise as elves do not feel the same way.  Bears rarely attack dwarves and I expect that to be the same for men and elves.  Bears will keep the forest clear of orcs, or at least, reduce their numbers significantly.  They should only be killed as a last resort.  I promise that that was not the case for the bear that was killed,” Amayla explained calmly, but passionately.

 

“So you felt it appropriate to strike one of my guards?”

 

“I will say to you what I said to Thorin when I struck Kili for simply drawing an arrow on a bear – the guard is lucky that I merely struck him with my fist.” 

 

“You struck one of the princes over a bear?”

 

Dwalin spoke up in Amayla’s defense, “Aye she did.  Gave him a right beautiful black eye.  Didn’t break his nose though.  I guess Dwarf bones are a little harder than elves.”

 

Elrond seemed to ponder what Amayla and Dwalin had said.  “Perhaps we need to learn more about bears.”

 

“M’lord, if I were to stay longer, I would be more than pleased to teach you about living with bears and how they can help you against orcs.  However, I believe we are leaving the day after tomorrow so there is no way I could even begin to teach you.  I ask only that you leave bears alone.  Avoid them.  Let them breed and grow in numbers.  If you are truly interested in learning more, I suggest that you go to Gorvuud in Ered Luin. I could write a letter telling my father to help.  Perhaps when I return after freeing Erebor, I could bring some elves back with me.”

 

“Ah Lassie . . .” Dwalin seemed to want to caution her. 

 

“I guess it’s not my place to offer such visits, but you should talk to Thorin.  It would be something that dwarves and elves could do together!”  Amayla started to get more emotional as she went along. 

 

“I appreciate your passion Amayla.  You give me, and my sons, much to think about.  I thank you.” Elrond bowed elegantly.  “Now I understand that Elrohir is going to teach you to ride a horse?”

 

Amayla, somewhat surprised, glanced questioningly at Elrohir, “Yes, m’lord, if he is still willing.”

 

“Of course, Amayla, I’m looking forward to it!” Elrohir assured her. 

 

“Hrmph” came from the bald dwarf. 

 

When the group arrived at the stables, Dwalin managed to pull Amayla aside as the others decided which mount Amayla should try.  “Why do you want to learn to ride a horse? Ponies are fine!”

 

“Because I can!  I’ve never had the opportunity before and who knows when I will again.  It might come in handy someday.  And if you don’t like it, you can just leave!”

 

“As if I would just leave you to the likes of these elves and that man!” Dwalin muttered.  

 

“All three have been nothing but gracious to me since I’ve met them and if you say anything bad about them or to them I will take an axe to you myself!”

 

Dwalin grunted.

 

“And don’t you grunt at me either!  I can figure out your grunts just as easily as Balin!”

 

Dwalin resorted to growling instead. 

 

*****

 

Elrohir came out leading a beautiful chestnut mare, but unlike Tigr, her mane and tail were also chestnut. “Her name is Laerlóth, which means Meadow Flower.”

 

“She is as pretty as a flower.” Amayla reached up to pet the horse.

 

“She is also gentle.  She should be perfect for you.  And Elledan should be back with a saddle any minute now.”

 

“And here I am!”

 

Elrohir and Elledan saddled Laerloth while Amayla watched.  “Well that’s not any different than my saddle for Tigr, just a little higher up!  I think I’ll be needing a little boost to get up though.”

 

“I’ll take care of that, Lassie!” Dwalin strode past the elves to stand next to Amayla.  Elrohir held on to Laerloth’s bridle while Amayla stepped into Dwalin’s cupped hands.  He lifted her up and she settled into the saddle. 

 

“Stirrups need to be shortened,” she said stating the obvious.  Elledan took care of them as Dwalin watched his every move. 

 

“How do you feel Amayla?” Elrohir asked.

 

“Just fine.  It’s really not much different than Tigr.  A bit higher up though.  Are you saddling up also?”

 

Strider coming out leading three saddled horses was the answer to her question. 

 

She walked Laerloth around the paddock while the others mounted up. 

 

“Lassie, where do you think you’re going?” Dwalin grunted at Amayla. 

 

“I think I’m going for a horse ride Dwalin!” Amayla couldn’t contain the little squeal in her voice. 

 

“Well, be careful!” Dwalin was frustrated that there was nothing else for him to say.  All he had left was to assume his favorite position, legs firmly planted apart with armed crossed, and glare at the two elves and man as they rode by.

 

******

 

Amayla had a wonderful time riding Laerloth.  They started at a trot before finally reaching a gallop.  Her legs were getting quite a workout but the weeks of riding Tigr had accustomed them to riding and she was never worried about losing her seat. 

 

They took a break near a stream to rest the horses and let them drink.  Strider pulled out some cheese and lembras bread and the four lounged against some boulders.  “So Strider,” Amayla asked, “how is it that you became Elrond’s son, if I may ask?”

 

“My father was killed in an orc attack and Lord Elrond took me in and raised me.”

 

“I am very sorry for your loss. Were you very young?”

 

“Aye, I was only two at the time.”

 

“And what a sweet boy he was, our Estel,” Elledan chimed in, “always tagging after us, trying to keep up.  He was always covered in dirt or mud as I remember.”

 

“Estel?” asked Amayla.

 

“One of his many name,” chuckled Elrohir. 

 

“Why so many names?”

 

At Amayla’s question, the three exchanged enough looks between them that Amayla realized that she would not be getting an answer. 

 

“Nevermind, I will just call you Strider.  I have another question for you though, how old are you?  You made that bow 30 years ago, yet you don’t look 30 years old now for a man?”

 

“I am a Dunedain.  We are much longer lived than most men.”

 

“A Dunedain? So you are a ranger?  My father told me about rangers.  He spoke of them most highly.”

 

“It is my honor to serve as a ranger, and I was taught by the best.”

 

“Well thank you young Estel!” Elrohir smiled at the compliment.

 

“I was talking about Glorfindel.” Strider shot back, laughing. 

 

“Glorfindel? The Balrog slayer?! You know him?” Amayla asked wide-eyed.

 

“Aye, he trained me and these two.” Strider pointed at the twins.  “I am surprised that a dwarf knows about Glorfindel.”

 

“My father was a great believer in education.  I grew up either reading or training.  There was not much else to do in the garrison. I only had one book about elves, and Glorfindel was my favorite part!  Did he really return from the dead?”  Amayla could barely contain her excitement. 

 

Elrohir sighed loudly shaking his head, “He even has fans among dwarves.”

 

“So??  Tell me!”  Amayla squeeled.

 

“Yes, he killed a balrog.  Yes, he came back from the dead.  And yes, his hair is as golden as the sun.” Elledan stated as blandly as possible as if he had repeated it thousands of times. 

 

“And yes, he is the finest warrior in all of Arda,” Strider added without the sarcasm. 

 

“Does he live in Rivendell?”

 

“Aye, when he’s not traveling, but he is most often away.”

 

“That’s a shame.  I would have very much liked to have met him.” Said Amayla whistfully. 

 

“That’s enough! We should head back now.” Elrohir insisted.

Chapter Text

Amayla, Elrohir, Elledan, and Strider all walked to where their horses where grazing pleasantly. 

“Who’s going to give me a boost this time?”  Amayla asked.  None of them spoke up.  “Guys, I really need a boost please!”  The three brothers looked between them.  “What’s the problem, one of you please give me a boost!” Amayla was starting to get miffed. 

 

Finally, Elledan walked over.  “Just don’t be telling that bald protector of yours that I’m doing this.  I’d like to keep my hair.” 

 

“He’s not my protector, and what do you mean by keeping your hair? Please tell me he didn’t threaten you!”

 

“Well not in so many words, but there were a few gestures that have me worried.”

 

Amayla closed her eyes and shook her head.  “I’m sorry.  Dwarves can be a little over protective of dams.” 

 

“Uh huh,” replied Elledan, “I’m certain that he would act the same for any dam.”  Amayla frowned at the sarcasm in his voice. 

 

They were just about to start out when Elrohir raised his hand to halt.  They all froze in place.  Elrohir pointed south.  After a few moments, Elrohir finally said, “Somebody is coming, mounted, many horses.”

 

“Horses? Not wargs?” asked Amayla.  She couldn’t hear anything. 

 

“No, not wargs.  Definitely horses.  We should go towards them,” ordered Elrohir. 

 

The twins took the lead and Strider and Amayla followed.  It wasn’t long before they could see a troop of elves approaching at a distance. 

 

“Grandmother!” Elledan shouted, and spurred his horse onward. 

 

“Looks like you’re going to get your wish!” Strider smiled at Amayla.  She looked at him curiously.

 

“Do you hear the bells?  It’s Glorfindel!” And he spurred his horse on.  Amayla broke into a huge smile and urged Laerloth on. 

 

Amayla was speechless when the groups met up.  There were eight riders surrounding a female elf.  It was easy for her to recognize Glorfindel.  He was taller than the others, and his hair was exactly as written:  long, flowing, and golden.  He was riding on a huge white horse with bells hanging off him.  But Amayla was even more stunned to see the lady in the middle.  Obviously, she was someone of great importance to have such an impressive guard.  She was a tall as the others, at least as far as Amayla could tell on a horse.  She had wavy, blond hair, lighter than Glorindel’s, and stunning light blue eyes.  But there was more to her that Amayla had never experienced before.  It seemed like she glowed, as if light emanated from her.  When the lady looked at Amayla, the dwarf couldn’t move.  She wasn’t frightened, but felt that the lady was reading her mind, her feelings, and her memories.  Amayla sat frozen until Elrohir and Elledan greeted the lady, breaking the connection. 

 

The twins motioned for Amayla to approach and proceeded to introduce her to their grandmother, Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien.  Amayla bowed as politely as possible on the horse and received a smile in return, a smile that somehow put Amayla completely at ease.  Strider made his bows to the lady also and then introduced Amayla to Glorfindel.  Amayla couldn’t seem to sit still in her saddle and she kept fidgeting with her hair.  She was appalled at herself to hear a giggle slip out when Glorfindel spoke to her and her ability to speak seemed to have fled.  She sat and smiled and tried unsuccessfully to speak until Strider mercifully gave Glorfindel her name for her.  Finally, Amayla shook her head clear and managed to squeak out an “at your service” to the golden elf. 

 

“I have never me a dwarf that could ride a horse before,” Glorfindel remarked. 

 

“It is my first time to do so,” Amayla stammered in return, only able to glance at the elf from the corner of her eye. 

 

“Well, you’re doing quite well for your first time.”

 

“Thank you m’lord.”

 

“Please, just call me Glorfindel.”

 

Amayla giggled again and could only smile.  Strider however, laughed fully and loudly. 

 

 

 

When they rode into Rivendell, Glorfindel, Elrohir and Elledan escorted their grandmother to the front, while Amayla, Strider, and the other guards rode directly to the stables.  Amayla was surprised to see Dwalin waiting in the paddock area, sharpening one of his axes.  He immediately rose to greet her, helping her down from her horse. 

 

“How was your ride, Lassie?”

 

“Fine, just fine.  Riding a horse is not much different than a pony, except for the getting on and off parts.  But never mind about that.  You won’t believe who we met on the way back!”  Amayla was talking so fast and smiling so broadly that Dwalin couldn’t help but smile with her. 

 

An elf came and took Laerloth by the reins and said that he would take care of him, which Amayla thanked him for. 

 

“Who lassie?”

 

“We met Glorfindel, the Glorfindel!”

 

“Who’s Glorfindel?”

 

Amayla frowned at Dwalin, “Do you really not know about Glorfindel?  The Balrog slayer, who came back from the dead?”

 

“Sounds like some Elven fairy story that Balin was always trying to get me to read,” Dwalin grumbled. 

 

“It’s not a fairy story!  He’s real, and he’s here, and I met him!!”

 

Dwalin frowned at Amayla, but she didn’t notice.  “And he was escorting the White Lady of Lothlorien, Galadriel.  I met her too.”

 

“You mean the white witch?  I thought she was a fairy story too.”

 

“Don’t call her that!  She’s Lord Elrond’s mother-in-law, and Elrohir and Elledan’s grandmother.  Although you would never know it to look at her.  She’s beautiful, radiant really.  She almost seems to glow.”

 

“Hrumpf,” was all Dwalin could muster, frowning even more. 

 

“Well, what did you do this afternoon?  Hope you didn’t sit around just waiting for me,” Amayla asked trying to get Dwalin to lighten up.

 

“No.  I watched Fili and Kili attempt to train Bilbo.  That was amusing.”

 

“How did Bilbo do with the new sword.”

 

“Better actually, but that’s not saying much considering where he started from.”

 

“Good.  I’ll work with him tomorrow.  I need to get some archery practice in too.  I’m still not used to the new bow.  We’re leaving the day after tomorrow right?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Good then we will have a good chance to spend some time with Glorfindel too!  We should go tell Balin about him.  I’m sure your brother will want to meet him!”  Amayla gave a little squeal again and practically started skipping back towards their quarters.  Grawlin growled and stomped behind her.  They found Balin with Ori in Rivendell’s library. 

 

The library was beyond her wildest imagination.  Living in Gorvuud, Amayla never had access to many books.  Her father would try to buy her one every year when he went to the annual council meeting in the heart of Ered Luin.  She would usually share them with the farmers around Gorvuud once she finished with them.  To see the bookshelf after bookshelf filled with hundreds of volumes of books stopped her cold.

 

“It’s quite the sight, isn’t it Lass?” asked Balin bringing Amayla out of her stupor.

 

“I’ve never seen so many books in one place.   Where would one even start?” Amayla wondered aloud. 

 

“Just wait until we get to Erebor, Lassie.  The library there is three times the size,” smiled Balin. 

 

“Can you imagine Amayla?  Three times as big as this!  I can’t wait to see it,” added Ori.  He was seated at a table with a stack of books in front of him, one opened to a map. 

 

“Which treasure are you more excited for Ori, the gold in Erebor or the library?” asked Amayla.

 

Ori tilted his head and started thinking.  “Why not both Lad?!” Balin answered for him, slapping him on the back. 

 

“Well, Ori, in any of your books have you read about Glorfindel?” asked Amayla with a sneaky grin on her face. 

 

“Glorfindel, the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower?” returned Ori.

 

Amayla turned to Dwalin and made an ‘I told you so’ face before looking at both Ori and Balin smiling widely, “Yes, that Glorfindel!  Well, what would you say if I told you that I just met him!?!”  she squealed.

 

Ori’s eye grew wide and his mouth dropped.  “You met Glorfindel?”

 

“Truly lass?” added in Balin, his eyes alight.

 

“Yes, he is here!  I just rode in with him.  He was escorting the Lady Galadriel.” 

 

“The White Witch of Lothlorien?” asked Ori, still amazed.

 

“Don’t call her that!” Amayla warned.  “She is Lord Elrond’s mother-in-law and quite amazing!”

 

“And you met her too?” asked Balin.

 

“Yes,” Amayla nodded.  “Would you like to meet them?  Dwalin here doesn’t seem to care.”

 

“Hrmph.”

 

“Of course!” the two said at the same time.

 

“Well, actually, only Glorfindel said that he would join us in the dining room at dinner.  So you can definitely meet him.  I can’t say for certain about the Lady Galadriel.” 

 

“Glorfindel,” Ori sighed.  “Dwalin, did you know that he slew a balrog?”

 

“Aye, so I’ve heard,” the bald dwarf frowned even further.

 

“So please, be on time for dinner, and I’ll introduce you!” Amayla bent down and gave Ori a tap on his forehead.  “I’m going to go tell Bilbo.  I’m sure he’ll want to meet him also. And then I’m going to get cleaned up.” She waggled her eye brows at Balin. 

 

Dwalin went with her as she told Bilbo about Glorfindel and the dinner plans.  They found him with most of the company at the sparring rings.  The hobbit was indeed excited to meet the famous elf.  Thorin, who had finished with Kili, asked to speak to Amayla.  He pulled her away from all the others and sat her down on a bench.  His face was even more grim than usual and it was seriously worrying Amayla. 

 

“We will be leaving the day after tomorrow, and will be taking the mountain pass.”

 

Amayla nodded in acknowledgement and frowned, expecting more.

 

“The path is treacherous and not suitable for ponies.  We’ll be going on foot.”

 

Amayla’s heart sunk, “The ponies,” she whispered.

 

“We will not be taking them.”

 

Tears started to fill Amayla’s eyes.  “What will happen to them?”

 

“Lord Elrond has agreed to have someone take them back to Bree and will sell them there.”

 

“Not Tigr!”

 

“No, of course not, Tigr is your pony.  Lord Elrond will do whatever you want with him.”

 

Amayla didn’t know what to say.  “I must think about this . . . I don’t know . . . I will have to . . . think . . .”

 

“I am sorry Amayla.  Of course you should think on it, but you must tell Lord Elrond tomorrow.”

 

“Yes sir, thank you Thorin.”

 

All the excitement that had built up inside Amayla left, leaving her completely deflated.  She needed some time alone to think.

 

As she moved to return to her room, Dwalin stepped up to escort her back. Amayla lashed out at him.  “Reallly Dwalin? First Balin, and now you!  Am I to have a son of Fundin escorting me everywhere in Rivendell?  I think I can make it to my room, by myself, in the middle of day! I would like to be left alone! Thank you very much!”  With that, Amayla marched off, by herself.

 

She took a bath and tried to think about what to do, but could come up with no good plan.  She only hoped that dinner and an evening with Glorfindel would improve her mood.   

Chapter Text

Dinner did nothing to lighten her mood as it was only with the company, although Dwalin and Thorin weren’t there.  It wasn’t until dinner was over that Glorfindel was able to join the dwarves.  He was accompanied by the twins and Strider.  They entered as Bofur was starting another of his raucous songs.  Glorfindel immediately started stamping his foot and clapping along.  His was the most boisterous of clapping when the song finished, helping to lift Amayla’s spirits. 

 

Amayla made all the introductions but sat off slightly, letting Bilbo, Balin, and Ori pepper the golden elf with questions.  Elrohir and Strider approached her quietly. 

 

“I heard about the ponies,” Strider said softly, “I am sorry Amayla.”

 

Amayla smiled weakly in return.

 

“Tigr is most welcome to remain here at Rivendell.  I will personally take good care of him . . . when I am here,” promised Elrohir.

 

“And how long will you be in Rivendell?  Won’t you be going back North with the Rangers?” Amayla asked.

 

Elrohir could only shrug and nod. 

 

“I don’t want him to be left as the only pony here,” Amayla said sadly.  “He is used to being ridden and no elf can ride him.  And he wouldn’t even have any mares that he could . . . “ She looked at Strider, “you know!”

 

Strider chuckled.

 

“But I will not sell him.  I plan on picking him up when I return to Gorvuud after reclaiming Erebor!”

 

“Then leave him in Rivendell.  He will not suffer.  We will try and find an elfling to ride him.” Elledan assured her.

 

Amayla could only make a face of frustration.

 

“Cheer up Amayla.  Look to the hobbit.  I think Glorfindel is more taken with him than you were with Glorfindel!” Strider nudged her and smiled.  They walked over and joined the jocularity.

 

“You eat how many times?”  Glorfindel asked astonished.

 

“Seven times:  breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.   I can’t tell how much weight I’ve lost between the exercise and the lack of food.  My coat is quite loose!” Bilbo complained causing laughter among all.

 

“I can attest to their appetites,” said Amayla.  “I had dinner with them one night and we had as much food on the table as we had on the table for all of us tonight, and there were only two adults and four small children.  And I had to pass on dessert!”

 

“Well I hope I do not insult anyone if I do not eat all that is offered when I travel there.”  Glorfindel exclaimed.

 

“You are going to the Shire?” asked Amayla. 

 

“Yes, the four of us will take the ponies to Bree and then I think we shall visit the Shire before heading back north,” answered the golden elf.

 

Amayla immediately thought of Foldram and his family.  “Do you think you could visit a friend of mine and his family?  They were most gracious to me and I would like to send a letter and perhaps some gifts.”  She turned to Bilbo, “Do you think Iris Brandybuck and her family would mind a visit from some elves?”

 

“They might be surprised, but if they were willing to host a dwarf, I imagine they would also hosts elves.  I’m certain young Foldram would enjoy it!” Bilbo answered.

 

Amayla looked to Glorfindel, Strider, and the twins.  They all smiled back to her.  “Of course Amayla.”

 

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She squealed, her face bursting into a huge smile.  She immediately ran over to Bifur and Bofur.  “Can you help me make some gifts?” she signed to Bifur.  He smiled and said that he might already have something done, but would make whatever she wanted.  Bofur said he would help too. “Anything to get out of sparring all day again.”

 

“I’d like a toy sword for a young hobbit and then something for two small lasses and they have to be ready by tomorrow evening.”

 

“It will be our pleasure lassie,” Bifur signed back.

 

“Would you like me to help?” Amayla asked.

 

“Lassie, we’ve seen you carve and while it is certainly better than you sing, I think you should leave the toy making to us.”

 

She bumped both of their foreheads and signed “thank you.”

 

Her mood now incredibly lightened, Amayla joined in when the elves started playing music.  Unlike the tunes that had been played the first night they were there, the songs this evening were much more up tempo and to the Dwarves’ liking.  Bofur of course sang, as well as Fili and Kili, followed by Glorfindel.  When the elf finished, he turned to Amayla and extended his hand to her.  “Amayla, perhaps you would honor us with a song?”  Without missing a beat, every dwarf in the room sprang forward yelling, “No!”  Glorfindel was startled but Amayla could only laugh.  “No thank you Glorfindel.  I will not subject you to my voice.  Mahal graced me with many talents, but singing is not one of them as my FRIENDS can attest.”   Elrohir took her place and started a jolly tune. 

 

While the elf was singing, Thorin and Dwalin finally joined them.  Amayla smiled at the bald dwarf who returned her smile but did not move to join her.  Amayla frowned slightly but turned her attention to the merriment.  That was kinda strange. Is he mad at me? I guess I yelled at him, but I didn’t think it was that bad.  

 

******

 

Dwalin was not mad at her but after the conversation he had just had with Thorin, he thought it better to keep his distance.  The two had spent most of the afternoon and evening going over their supplies and determining what equipment they would need to assemble the next day to be ready to leaving the following morning at first light.  They didn’t stop for dinner, settling for having some food sent in.  When their plans were in place, Thorin asked to speak to Dwalin on a different subject. 

 

“It has come to my attention that you may have feelings for Amayla.  I bring this up not only as your friend, but as Ardru’s representative.  In his letter giving Amayla’s recommendations, he also asked that I look after her as if she were my daughter.  As such, I must ask if you are considering asking to court her.”

 

Dwalin stood quietly for a moment and rubbed his head.  “Aye,” he whispered, “I am.” 

 

“Have you kissed her?” Thorin asked smiling.

 

“No, not yet.” Dwalin mumbled.

 

“As your friend, I am pleased for both of you. But as Amayla’s guardian, I must ask what you can offer her.”

 

“That is the problem Thorin.  I have nothing to offer her now, except my heart and my axes.  That is why I have not asked her, or tried to kiss her, yet.  When we reclaim Erebor, I will have everything to offer her.”

 

“I agree.  I think it would be prudent to wait, not just as Amayla’s guardian but as the leader of this company.  I do not want you to be distracted.”

 

“Never Thorin!  My duty is to you and this company.  I’m sure that Amayla feels the same way.  Our feelings will not get in the way.” 

 

“Very good, my friend.”

 

******

 

When he walked into the room where the company was singing with the elves, Dwalin’s initial instinct was to find Amayla and sit next to her.  When she smiled at him, it took every ounce of self-control to stay where he was.  He returned her smile, but then turned to watch whichever elf it was singing.  The song was pretty catchy and soon the large warrior found himself tapping along with the music.  He occasionally snuck a peak over to see what Amayla was doing, finding her happily clapping with Bilbo at her side.  The new tall blond elf sat with her also which did not please Dwalin at all.  At least she’s not wearing a dress that the elves could look down and see her luscious breasts . . . those breasts . . . Stop it lad . . . not until Erebor!

 

After a few more songs, Amayla decided it was time to turn in.  She had plans for the next day and now needed to fit in writing a letter to Foldram and Iris as well as making sure the gifts for the young hobbits were ready.  As she rose, it was Thorin who moved to escort her back, “If I may have the honor Amayla?”

 

“Of course Thorin, although I will say it again, I am perfectly capable of walking to my room by myself!” she shook her head once again. 

 

“Of course you are, you are an excellent warrior, but you are still a dam, and your father would have my beard if I let you wander around unescorted.”

 

Amayla rolled her eye.  “You know I cannot argue with that.”

 

“Yes I do!” he winked back at her placing her arm on his.

 

After walking a bit, Thorin started talking.  “You seem to have enjoyed yourself among these elves.”

 

“Aye, I have.  I know you dislike elves based on the way you were treated by Thranduil, but these elves here have been nothing but kind and honorable.  Perhaps the Mirkwood elves are different, but I would not hesitate to trust the ones I have met here.”

 

“I still cannot trust them fully.  I believe they will try to stop us from our mission.”

 

“IF they try, we will not let them.”

 

“I’m glad to hear you say that.”

 

Amayla stopped in her tracks. “Thorin, please do not doubt my loyalty to you.  My friendship with the elves mean nothing to me compared to my dedication to our mission.”

 

“You do your father proud, Amayla.  I do not doubt you. I am most pleased that you joined the company.”

 

They reached her door and Thorin wished her a good night’s sleep. 

Chapter Text

The next morning Amayla woke up with the sun’s first light.  She got washed and dressed before Tialla arrived with her breakfast.  She was grabbing her new bow and fastening her swords when the elf opened the door, a tray of food in one hand.  “Good morning Amayla, you are up early today!”

 

“Good morning to you Tialla.  I have a full day planned so I’m out early.  Thank you for the food.  I’ll just grab something and go.”

 

Amayla made her way to the archery range.  There were several elves practicing and Amayla joined in.  It took her many tries to begin to feel comfortable with her new bow, but once she got the feel of it, her accuracy was impeccable.  She stayed for a few hours, trying as many different positions as she could imagine until she was fully confident with her weapon. 

 

Following her archery practice, Amayla sought out Bifur and Bofur.  The two were in the room they shared with Bombur, Fili and Kili.  Bifur had laid out several of the wooden animals he had carved during their journey.  There were several birds, a duck, a rabbit, and a fox.  Bifur explained that the birds would look better if he had access to some paint, but that there wouldn’t be enough time to dry if it got some.  He also suggested that he make a horse with wheels that the girls could pull.  Amayla loved the idea and selected the rabbit as the other gift.  Bofur had already started working on the sword.  It was a curved blade and Amayla realized that it was a copy of Orcrist.  “That’s beautiful Bofur.  I know Foldram will love it!  Will you have it done today?” she asked.  “It will be no problem, lassie.”  “Thank you both!”

 

Next up was checking in on Tigr.  Seeing him choked her up, but she didn’t want to sob in front of her pony.  Dwarves could see her cry, but not her pony.  She gave him an extra good brushing, working on his tail and mane until they reminded her of Glorfindel.  She talked to him quietly, explaining why she was abandoning him.  When she promised to come back for him, he tossed his head abruptly, causing the tears that had been pooling in Amayla’s eyes to spill over.   She finally left him, fully intending to visit one last time.

 

At lunch, she joined Bilbo letting him know in no uncertain terms that he would have weapons practice with her as soon as they were done eating.  “This place is very nice, but I’m starting to dream about Bombur’s stews.  Can’t decide if I want rabbit first or venison,” Amayla said while picking at some greens.

 

“I have found the fish to be quite nice,” Bilbo replied innocently.

 

“Ugh! If I don’t see or smell another piece of fish for a year, it will be too soon!”

 

“You don’t care for fish Amayla?”

 

“I guess I’ve done a good job of hiding it.  That’s a relief.  I wouldn’t want to insult our hosts, but no, I hate fish!  I only eat it if I’m starving, and I’m rarely that desperate.”

 

“I’ll have to make you my famous trout-a-la-Bilbo.  The secret is a touch of dill under the skin and lemon in the sauce.  I guarantee you’ll love it!”

 

“I guarantee I won’t.  I don’t care what you put on it, it’s still fish,” she sneered.  “Now finish up.  We are going to the sparring rings!”

 

Bilbo frowned and stuffed a last bite into his mouth before following Amayla out of the dining room.  On their way, they caught sight of Gandalf with the Lady Galadriel in one of Rivendell’s gardens.  The two beings immediately turned and beckoned Bilbo and Amayla to join them.

 

“Who is that?” whispered Bilbo with awe. “She is beautiful.”

 

“She is Lord Elrond’s mother-in-law, the Lady Galadriel.”

 

Gandalf introduced Galadriel to Bilbo.  Amayla bowed as the elf remembered her name.

 

“More weapons practice?” asked Gandalf as he spied Bilbo’s new sword strapped to his hip.

 

“Fili and Kili helped him yesterday, so today’s he’s mine!” Amayla smiled almost evilly, causing Bilbo to shudder.

 

“It is good to see the cooperation between your races.  Dwarves have not been known to deal well with others,” Galadriel remarked.

 

“Bilbo is as much a part of this company as I am and more importantly is my friend.  I intend to see him safely through this journey and look forward to watching him grow old and round!”  Amayla gave Bilbo’s shoulder’s a squeeze as she said it causing Bilbo to twitch adorably.

 

“Learn well from Amayla,” Galadriel directed Bilbo.  “You will find your strength through friendship.” 

 

“I will, m’lady.”

 

“We should go Bilbo.”

 

They made their bows and walked away.

 

“That was very nice what you said back there Amayla.”

 

“I meant every word of it Bilbo.”  Looking down at the hobbit, Amayla could tell that there was more.  “What?”

 

“But we are just friends, right?”

 

Amayla was shocked.  She froze.  “What are you asking Bilbo?”

 

Bilbo twitched uncomfortably.  “I’m just making sure!  You’re very nice and I’m very fond of you.  I think I would have given up on this journey if not for you.  It’s just that when you said you wanted watch me grow old and round, well that’s kind of an intimate thing to say!”

 

Amayla started walking and laughing.  “I’m sorry if I crossed a line there Bilbo.  Rest assured that I’m not making any advances on you!  We are just friends.”

 

“Well good then.  I’m glad we cleared that up.  And I’m glad we’re friends.  Besides, I wouldn’t want to find Dwalin’s axe in my back if he thought something romantic was going on between us.”

 

Amayla froze again.  “What do you mean by that?”

 

Bilbo realized that he might have said a little too much.  He started twitching again. “Ummmm, well, you and Dwalin, right?  I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of anything there,” he stammered.

 

Amayla couldn’t look Bilbo in the eye.  “There’s no me and Dwalin,” she almost whispered.

 

“Isn’t there?  I may not understand Dwarvish customs, but I can tell when a male is attracted to a female, and not just as friends.”

 

“You think Dwalin is attracted to me?” Amayla asked in astonishment.

 

“Do you seriously not know?  It’s a plain as the nose on his face.”

 

“I’m not so sure.” Amayla said softly and started walking again.

 

“What about you?” Bilbo probed.

 

“What about me?”

 

“It would seem to me that you are attracted to him also.”

 

Amalya was quiet for a few minutes.  “Like you said, you know nothing of Dwarvish customs.”

 

“Fine, fine.  But we are friends and if you want to talk about it . . .”

 

“I don’t.  What we should be talking about is you learning to defend yourself.”

 

Bilbo let the subject drop.

 

When they reaching the sparring rings, Amayla made Bilbo go through a series of practice steps focusing on defense and movement.  “Your strength is your quickness Bilbo, so I want you to only think about blocking and moving.  Get your sword up in front of you, flat side out, and block any attack. Then move!  If you have an opportunity to strike, most likely at an attacker’s legs, take it.  Look for unprotected skin.  No need wasting strikes against armor.  Often the back of the leg is left unprotected, especially around the knee, so look for that.  But that is secondary to blocking and moving.  Your job is to stay alive and let someone else do the killing.”

 

They practiced until Bilbo was making too many mistakes out of sheer exhaustion.  “And what do you do when you can’t lift your sword anymore?” Amayla quizzed Bilbo. 

 

“Die?” answered Bilbo between gasps of breath.

 

“I certainly hope not!” Amayla replied.  “The correct answer is run, hide, get out of there.  In your case, climb a tree.  Just try to stay safe.”

“I’m not a coward,” replied Bilbo indignantly. 

 

“Of course not.  Just don’t be a fool.  Remember, I want to see you grow old and round.”

 

Amayla sent Bilbo back to his room to start packing and found some other members of the company to spar with.  After finishing with Fili and Kili, she was startled to hear some clapping.  Looking up, Amayla saw the flash of golden hair indicating the presence of Glorfindel. 

 

“You fight well Amayla.  Perhaps you would honor me with a round?”  the elf asked. 

 

“You are asking me to spar with you?” Amayla gasped.

 

“Yes, if you would be so kind.  I cannot recall the last time I was able to spar with a dwarf.”

 

Amayla stood stone still, her mind was racing and words wouldn’t form.  Glorfindel is asking me to spar with him?  Is this real?  I must be dreaming!

 

“Amayla, you’ve got to do it!  For Dwarvish pride!” Kili nudged her with his shoulder bringing Amayla back to reality. 

 

Shaking her head clear, “Yes, of course, it would be my honor Glorfindel!”

 

Amayla got herself some water while Glofindel picked out a wooden sword to use.

 

As they took their stances though, Amayla started to giggle.  Glorfindel looked at her curiously.  Amayla held up her hand and took a step back.  Fili and Kili were there to encourage her.  “Come on Amayla, you can take him, but you have to stop giggling!”

 

“But I’m sparring against Glorfindel!” and she giggled more.

 

Fili knew how to get her to concentrate.  “Amayla, I have a bet with Kili, and if you win, he’s agreed to take all my watches for the rest of the journey.  He’ll do yours too.  So go get him!”

 

“Hey!” Kili objected. 

 

“Just go with it,” Fili whispered back.

 

“You bet against me Kili?  You will pay for that!” Amayla growled.

 

“We made no such bet,” Kili whispered to his brother.

 

“I know, but look how it got her going!”

 

This time Amayla was able to go into full warrior mode.  Glorfindel transformed from the hero into the enemy and she was ready to fight.  Because of his obvious height and reach advantage, Amayla immediately went on defense.  She started channeling everything that she had been trying to teach Bilbo: block, move, strike and repeat.  After a few successes with that, Glorfindel caught on to her plan and started holding back, leaving openings for Amayla, daring her to go on the offensive.  She wouldn’t take the bait so he started taunting her. 

 

“Afraid to attack, dwarf?” he asked

 

“I wouldn’t want to mess your hair, elf,” she replied.

 

He chuckled and attacked again.  She kept on blocking but could never find the opening to strike against him and she was getting tired.  She held out as long as she could but finally lost the grip on her sword.  As it fell to the ground, she was forced to yield.

 

“Very well done Amayla,” Glorfindel praised her as he stooped to pick up her fallen sword.

 

There was clapping from beyond that ring and Amayla finally noticed the crowd that had gathered.

 

“Great,” Amayla sighed sarcastically.  “Did all of Rivendell come to witness my humiliation?”

 

“You suffered no humiliation.  You fought very well and lasted much longer than most against me.”

 

“Funny, that is what I usually say to the lads.  It doesn’t provide much comfort.  By the way, I was somewhat tired from archery practice and sparring before you came!”

 

Glorfindel chuckled, “Then we will have to try again some time when you are at full strength.  Perhaps when you have reclaimed the mountain.”

 

Amayla smiled, “I look forward to that and would offer you welcome under the mountain if it is within my purview to do so.”

 

Glorfindel returned her smile, “Fare well on your quest Amayla,” he said putting his hand to his heart before extending it towards her.  Although unfamiliar to her, Amayla returned the gesture saying simply, “Thank you Glorfindel.”

 

Fili and Kili came over to cheer up Amayla.  “You were amazing Amayla.  That was so fun to watch!” Kili exclaimed. 

 

“I thought you bet against me?” she frowned at the brunette.

 

“I never did!  Fee made that up so you would stop giggling.”

 

Amayla turned her frown towards the blond prince, “Is that true?”

 

Fili found himself trying to avoid Amayla’s eyes, “Well I had to do something to snap you out of it.  You needed to focus.  You were representing all of us!”

 

“Well I suppose I did, so thank you.”  Fili let out a big sigh of relief.  “I’m sorry I didn’t win, but I can’t be too ashamed to lose to Glorfindel.”  She started giggling again, “I sparred against Glorfindel!”

 

Even Fili and Kili had to roll their eyes at her hero worship.

 

Nori joined them.  “I’ve learned something that might be of interest,” he said waggling his eyebrows. 

 

“Been spying again Nori?  Don’t let uncle know,” sneered Fili.

 

“Oh he’ll want to know about this.”

 

“What is it?” asked Kili eagerly.   Amayla just frowned.

 

“Another wizard arrived, one all dressed in white,” Nori said smugly.

 

This got all the dwarves attention.

 

“Who is he?” asked Amayla.

 

“I heard that Lindir elf call him Saruman.”

 

“Gandalf mentioned him.  He is the head of his order.  I wonder what that means.” Amayla pondered.

 

“We should tell Thorin,” Fili stated firmly, his Durin heritage showing.

 

“I agree,” stated Amayla.  “You go, I am returning to my room.”

Chapter Text

Pleased to walk to her room unescorted for once, Amayla strolled slowly, finally able to take in the beauty and peace that prevailed throughout Rivendell.  Elves were scattered about, some tending gardens, others reading on benches.  The scent of flowers wafted on the breeze and the sounds of birds chirping were mixed with the soft melody of someone playing on a harp.  Amayla could understand wanting to spend time here, but at the same time, she couldn’t see herself living here.  Rivendell was a good place to visit, to rest and rejuvenate; but, she would need to leave after a time.  She needed a place more active and exciting to call home.

 

When she returned to her room, she drew a bath to get cleaned up.  She figured it would be her last time to experience such luxury and wanted to make it last as long possible.  She refilled the tub twice, completely relaxing and even singing a little, softly.  All she had left to do before dinner was to write a letter to Iris and Foldram and pack up the gifts for Strider to take to the Shire.

 

Dragging her body out of the tub, Amayla could only manage to put on a robe and brush her hair.  She wasn’t sure if she was tired from archery and sparring or from resting too long, probably both.  Luckily, writing a letter was not physically taxing.  Her letter to Iris and her husband was simple and straight forward.  She thanked Iris again for her past hospitality and hoped that she would extend it to the elves who were bringing the missives.  She told of the gifts for the girls and Foldram and said that she looked forward to visiting on her return trip.  To Foldram, Amayla described her adventures so far, making sure the story of the trolls wasn’t too detailed.  She insisted that he didn’t do any real damage with the sword, promising to teach him how to use it when she returned.

 

She got dressed, took her sealed letters with her, and went back to check in with Bifur and Bofur.  The brothers had the gifts on display for her.  Amayla clapped her hands when she saw the little horse on wheels, “It’s adorable.  I wish I had had one when I was small.”  Bifur grunted and signed that he would be happy to make her one.

 

 Amayla then gingerly picked up the sword.  Its likeness to Thorin’s orcrist was remarkable.  “You are truly gifted Bofur.  Thank you.”

 

“It was my pleasure, Lassie.  A most pleasant distraction,” the hatted dwarf replied taking a bow.

 

She took the gifts and letters to Strider who also admired the details the dwarves were able to carve in such a short time.  Bilbo had dropped his letter and the detailed map to the Shire off earlier.  Strider promised to pack everything carefully and see that they were delivered.

 

“Will you join us for dinner?” she asked the man.

 

“Yes, with my brothers, although I must warn you that Glorfindel is indisposed.”

 

“That’s alright.  We said our good-byes after he defeated me earlier when we sparred,” her voice heavy with embarrassment.

 

“Don’t take it too hard Amayla, I have never seen Glorfindel lose a sparring match, and I’ve gone against him many times.”

 

“Really?  That does make me feel a little better.  Thank you!”

 

“May I have the honor of escorting you, m’lady?”  Amayla took Strider’s proffered arm and proceded to the dining hall.

 

Dinner was pleasant.  Amayla sat between Elrohir and Elledan with Bilbo and Strider next to them.  Fili and Kili sat across from them and regaled all in attendance with her magnificent defeat at the hands of Glorfindel.  “Don’t think I won’t forget this lads!” she promised them as everyone laughed at her expense.  Amayla noticed one dwarf who didn’t laugh.  She hadn’t seen him all day and was beginning to worry.  Her discussion with Bilbo had started her questioning her feelings toward the warrior.  Could Bilbo be right?  But then where has he been all day?  He usually around at some point.   He certainly didn’t seem interested in me last night. What if Bilbo is right?  Nah.  Dwalin just respects me as he would any dam.  Right?  She leaned out to look down the table to where Dwalin was sitting, but he was just absorbed in a conversation with Thorin per usual.  She frowned and picked at the fish on her plate.  Mahal, I can’t wait to catch a rabbit!

 

As the sun started to set, Thorin signaled for Bilbo and Balin to join him.  Before leaving, he instructed all to make their farewells and turn into bed early.   Amayla was surprised that Dwalin did not join him as the two seemed joined at the hip as of late. 

 

Elrohir and Elledan approached Amayla, “It has been our privilege and pleasure to get to know you Mistress Amayla.  We hope that our paths will cross again soon.  May your journey be safe.”  They bowed and made the same hand gesture that Glorfindel had given her. 

 

“I thank you most sincerely for your kindness during our stay, especially with my pony.  And for teaching me to ride a horse.  That was an experience I will not soon forget.  May you stay safe on your journeys also.”  She returned the bow and the hand gesture.   

 

Strider then approached.  “You are a man; I can hug you right?” Amayla asked hopefully. 

 

“Of course,” Strider replied, bending down and picking Amayla up off the ground, hugging her tight. 

 

“Thank you for everything and stay safe!” she implored into his ear. 

 

“And you also stay safe,” he replied before setting her down.

 

The company left en masse, but Amayla turned away from the crowd as she had one more good-bye to make.  After taking but a few steps from the others, she felt a hand on her arm.  “And just where do you think you’re going, Lassie?” 

 

There was no doubt who it was, and Amayla turned to the bald dwarf stating firmly, “To say good-bye to my pony.” 

 

“Not by yourself, you’re not,” he grumbled.

 

“I’ve been walking around Rivendell all day by myself and have managed just fine Dwalin!”

 

“I’m going with you.”

 

“Suit yourself.”

 

The two walked in silence until they reached the stables.  When Dwalin moved to follow her in she turned on him with one hand on his chest, stopping him.  “I’m going to say good-bye Tigr in private.  I don’t care what you say.”  The tears were already forming in her eyes and he voice was starting to choke up. 

 

“Aye Lassie.  I’ll wait for you here.” Dwalin said softly. 

 

Amayla went to Tigr’s stall and fed him the apple she had stashed in her pocket.  “Be good my Tigr.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.  Please don’t forget me.  I’ll never forget you.”  Her tears were flowing freely now and she gave him one last kiss on his cheek.  He tossed his head in response.  At that, Amayla turned and walked quickly out of the stables. 

 

Dwalin was waiting for her, and against his better judgement, he held out his arms to her.  She walked straight into them and sobbed quietly.  “There, there, Lassie.  You know how much these elves love their horses; your pony will be just fine.”  After a few minutes, her sobs subsided and she pulled away from his arms.  They started back in silence again. 

 

Amayla started thinking about her conversation with Bilbo again.  If he really cares, he’ll say something.  Right?  . . . He’s not saying anything . . . But he seems like he’s going to . . . Should I say something? . . . No, I need to wait for him to say something . . . Why doesn’t he say anything?. . . This is so awkward!

 

Dwalin’s thinking was similar.  Mahal, I’ve missed her today . . . Sounds like she was pretty busy . . . probably didn’t even notice I wasn’t around . . . she’s awfully quiet . . . I should say something to her . . . I wish I could tell her how I feel . . . But Thorin is right . . . I have nothing to offer . . . I just need to wait . . . since when is she so quiet? . . . why isn’t she saying anything?

 

Amayla finally broke the silence when they reached her door.  “Do you know when we’re leaving tomorrow?”

 

“No, not exactly.  It will be early.  I think it depends on what is happening right now.  They are reading the map under the light of the moon.”

 

“Hmm, yes, Bilbo told me something about that.  I don’t really understand but I guess that really doesn’t matter as long as Thorin knows where we’re going.”

 

“Aye.  Restoring Erebor is most important.”

 

Amayla looked at Dwalin.  That was an odd thing to say.  “Yes, it is.”

 

Dwalin stared at Amayla.  I just want to kiss her. 

 

Amayla did not turn away.  Please kiss me.  Then I would know for certain.

 

“Good night Amayla,” Dwalin grunted before turning abruptly and stomping off. 

 

Damn! 

 

She opened the door and was startled to see Tialla waiting for her.  “Excuse me, I did not mean to startle you Amayla.  I knew you would be leaving very early, and I wanted to make certain to bid you farewell.”

 

“Thank you Tialla.  I do appreciate all that you have done for me.  You have made me feel most welcome and quite pampered.  And there are no words to express my thanks for the dress you made.  I cannot imagine ever feeling that beautiful again.”

 

“You honor me with your words Amayla.  It was my pleasure.  And I will keep the dress properly stored so that you may wear it again when you return to us.  I do so hope you will.  Good-night Amayla.” 

 

“As do I.  Good-night Tialla.”

 

Tialla bowed and made the elvish hand gesture which Amayla returned. 

 

Amayla finished packing all her gear and made it ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  Part of her was sad to be leaving, but a larger part was excited to get back on the journey.  There was also a part of her that couldn’t stop thinking about Dwalin.  Thankfully, the incredibly soft bed made sleep easy to find.

Chapter Text

The room was full of dams and dwarrows dressed in their finest.  The dance floor was full. Laughter mixed with music filled the air.  Suddenly two arms came up from behind her and gave her a squeeze.  Amayla began to giggle as a beard started tickling her neck. 

 

“You two need to get a room!” growled a voice that could only belong to the king.

 

“Did you hear that amrâlimê? Our king is ordering us to our rooms.”

 

“That was not an order, my love.  And I would like to eat something,” she replied.

 

“Ummm, so would I,” Dwalin rumbled softly into her ear.

 

“Dwalin!” she rebuked him while still giggling.  “I am not leaving until I get at least one dance with my husband!”

 

“Now that I will order!  Dwalin go dance with your wife!” Thorin crossed his arms and put on his infamous Durin stare.”

 

“Thank you your majesty!” Amayla smiled and dragged her husband on to the dance floor where he took her in his arms and started spinning around. 

 

“I love you Dwalin.”

 

“And I love you, Amayla.” 

 

“Amayla!”

 

“Amayla??”

 

“Amaaaaayyyylaaaaaaaaa, its time to go! Wake up!”

 

***************

 

Amayla sprung up in her bed.  What?   Where am I?    Where was I?    Kili?    I’m in Rivendell.   We’re leaving.  Erebor!

 

“I’m up!”  Amayla stumbled out of her bed and opened the door to the two princes.  “Just let me wash up and I’ll be ready.” 

 

They were out the door in a minute, joining the rest of the company as they walked out in the predawn light. 

 

Amayla took the rear of the line, with Bilbo in front of her.

 

“Gandalf isn’t with us,” Bilbo pointed out to her and he looked back at Rivendell.

 

“I’m sure he will catch up.  He’s left us before remember,” Amayla reassured him. 

 

They walked along in silence, with Amayla contemplating her dream.  She looked at Dwalin’s back over and over again.  The dream seemed so real and was so good.  I want it to be real!  

 

“Bilbo,” she whispered to the hobbit. “Can I tell you something?”

 

Bilbo looked at her but it was still too dark to really see her face.  “Of course, what is it?”

 

“You were right.   About my feelings for Dwalin.  I have them.”

 

“I see.  And what are you going to do about them.”

 

“I’m not sure.  I’m just figuring this out.  I’ve never felt like this before.  Please don’t tell anybody.”

 

“Of course not.”

 

They continued walking in silence for a few minutes.

 

“Amayla, I’m happy for you.”

 

“Thank you, Bilbo.”

 

They marched along all day at a heavy pace.  Thorin seemed driven to put as much space between them and Rivendell as possible.  Sometime in the afternoon, Amayla took Bilbo’s pack and threw it over her shoulder.  Bilbo tried to protest but Amayla would not listen.  The poor hobbit was dragging.  When they finally stopped for the night, Amayla indicated to Bilbo that she wanted to do the look-about with him.  Bilbro frowned but said nothing.  The two climbed the nearest tall tree but saw nothing to report so Bilbo started to go down.  “Wait, please Bilbo.  Can we talk for a few minutes?”

 

“Of course ,Amayla.”

 

“This is why I came along.  It wasn’t that I didn’t trust you.  I just wanted to find some place to talk where I could be sure that no one would over hear.”

 

Bilbo relaxed at that.  “Is it about Dwalin?”

 

“Yes,” Amayla scrunched up her face and couldn’t look Bilbo in the eye.  “I’m not sure what I should do.” 

 

“Tell me about Dwarven customs.  What is normally done?  What would you do back in Gorvuud?”

 

“In Gorvuud, I would probably make him an axe and give it to him, but I can’t do that out here.”

 

“Why would you make him an axe?”

 

“The person who wants to initiate courting makes a hand-made gift that shows how you know the other person.  It should be something personal.  If the dwarrow likes it and wants to court, he accepts it and courting begins.  Then the parents get involved and a contract is drawn up showing the male can take care of the dam properly.  If the dwarrow, or dam depending, doesn’t want to court, he or she just refuses the gift.  There is no insult taken – usually – if the gift is turned down.  The two just move on.  So, I would probably make an axe for Dwalin because it would show that I know he loves his axes and that I am capable of making one.”

 

“And it has to be hand-made?”

 

“Definitely.”

 

“You can’t just talk to him?”

 

“Not really.  It wouldn’t be proper unless a gift is involved.”

 

The two sat thinking for a few minutes.

 

“Could you cook something?”

 

“No.  It wouldn’t count if it were for the whole company, and I can’t see only cooking for one.  Bombur would never allow it.”

 

“Could you make something out of the pelts from the rabbits you’re always getting for dinner?”

 

“Possibly.  Maybe.  He does already have that fur cape.  I’m not sure what else I could make, but that’s a good thought.”

 

“Maybe mittens?”

 

“Not sure that Dwalin really wants mittens but something along those lines!  Thank you Bilbo.  At least I’ve got something to think about.”

 

They climbed down the tree and reported to Thorin that there was nothing to report.

 

At dinner Amayla was finally able to talk to Dwalin.  He had been at the front of the line all day and she had been at the back and their duties in setting up camp for the night had taken them in different directions.  She filled her bowl of rabbit stew and sat down next to the bald warrior.

 

“Meat!  It feels so good to eat meat again!  Bombur has outdone himself,” Amayla smile at him. 

 

“Aye its good.  I just think Bombur needs to be careful about all the ingredients he’s putting in,” Dwalin replied while shooting the rotund cook a nasty look.

 

Amayla frowned in confusion, glancing between the two dwarves, and not understanding Dwalin’s comment. 

 

“I’m not sure what you mean Dwalin, all I know is that the stew is delicious.”  Amayla spoke loud enough to make certain that Bombur could hear her compliment. 

 

“Thank you lassie,” Bomber replied while staring back at Dwalin. 

 

Amayla thought it best to change the subject, quickly.  “So how are things at the front of the line?  What’s Thorin thinking?”

 

“He overheard some things between Gandalf, those elves, and that other wizard that he didn’t like so he wanted to get as far away as possible.  That’s why we left so early and have come so far.”

 

“Well, Bilbo and I did not see any signs that we’re being followed, so I don’t think the elves are planning on stopping us.  But I do hope that Gandalf catches up quickly.”

 

“Aye, but he better hurry.  The worst part of the mountains is just a few days away and it would be better for all of us to be together then.  How is the back of the line?  How is our burgler holding up?”

 

“He is tired, probably more so that the rest of us.  He has to take a lot more steps than we do to keep up; but he’s managing.”

 

“With your help,” Dwalin snorted.  “I saw you carrying his pack.”

 

“Don’t say anything about that.  He has his pride.”

 

“Just don’t you wear yourself out helping him.”

 

“Nice of you to care, Dwalin.”  She smiled at him and bumped him with her shoulder.

 

Dwalin only grunted which cause Amayla to smile even bigger.

 

Suddenly Thorin plopped down next to Amayla, startling her.  “The stew is good, isn’t it Amayla?”

 

Amayla was taken aback as Thorin never included her in such small talk before.  “Yes, Thorin, it is. It is good to have meat again.”

 

“Yes, it is.  Fili and Kili did well in catching the rabbits so quickly today.”

 

“They are both good hunters.”  Amayla was slightly annoyed that she wouldn’t be able to talk to Dwalin in peace but tried not to show it.

 

“Aye, they are now.  But I remember when Kili shot his first rabbit.  He cried and wouldn’t eat dinner that night.”  Thorin chuckled to himself.

 

“I take it he got over that?” Amayla responded.

 

“Aye he did.  He was so hungry the next day he went out and shot two more and had no problem eating them.”  

 

Amayla smiled wanly at Thorin.  And then Balin sat down and joined them.

 

“The stew is good isn’t it?”  he started.

 

Amayla frowned and rolled her eyes.  What is going on?

 

“Yes, it is.  And I’m going to go see if there is anymore.  Excuse me.”  She smiled quickly at Dwalin and walked over to Bombur.  He gave her an extra scoop of stew and she decided to just eat it standing there.   Her annoyance at Thorin grew more when he announced the night watch schedule and she and Dwalin didn’t back up to each other. 

Chapter Text

“Quick, this way, amrâlimê!”  Dwalin grabbed Amayla by the hand and proceeded to pull her out to a deserted balcony. 

 

“What are you doing? Why are we out here?”

 

“Thorin’s about to give his speech.  If we didn’t get out now, we’d be stuck listening to it.”

 

“Won’t he be mad that we’re not in there?”

 

“He’ll never notice, and now we I can be alone with my wife!”  He took Amayla into his arms and bent to kiss her.  She stood on her toes to get closer.

 

“Mmmmmmmm”.

 

“Amayla.”

 

“Mmmmmmm.”

 

“Amayla, lass!  Wake up.  It’s time for your watch.”

 

“What? Bofur?”

 

“Aye lassie.  You’ve got the next watch.  Sorry to interrupt your dreaming, seems like you were enjoying yourself.”  Bofur smiled and winked at Amayla as she sat up quickly, rubbing her face. 

 

“Thanks Bofur.”

 

*******

Amayla’s watch was uneventful and the next day was much the day before.  Thorin assigned Dwalin the point and Amayla the rear. The terrain was starting to get steeper and they could not travel as quickly.  Bilbo tired again and Amayla took his pack.  When they stopped for the night, there were no trees, only scrub bushes so Bilbo didn’t have to climb.  Thorin ordered most of the company to look for fire wood.  Amayla immediately headed out the same way that Dwalin went until Thorin ordered her to spar with Fili and Kili.  Is Thorin keeping me from Dwalin on purpose? The only thing that kept her from saying anyting was the miserable looks on the brother’s faces.  They were so pathetic that it made her laugh. 

 

Amayla didn’t cut Fili or Kili any slack, making them spar against each other, against her separately, and finally against her as a team.  Their teamwork had improved markedly.  Amayla could put up a good fight against them, especially since they were obviously tired, but they still managed to get a kill strike against her in a respectable amount of time. 

 

Bilbo came to watch the sparring which surprised Amayla.  Normally, she would need to track him down and drag him to the ring.  “You want to go next Bilbo?” she asked.

 

“Me? No, No.  Please no!  I just want to talk to you Amayla . . . . alone!”  He whispered to Amayla while shooting a look at Fili and Kili.  “Its VERY important.”

 

Amayla was startled but knew it must be important for Bilbo to be acting like that. 

 

“Fili, Kili get going.  Bilbo and I will catch up.”

 

They waited for the brothers to leave, before Amayla turned to the hobbit.  “Okay, what so VERY important?”

 

“Dwalin has been asking everyone in camp for a hair tie.”

 

“A hair tie?  Why does he want a hair tie?” she asked as she cleaned her weapons.

 

“I don’t know, but he really wants one.  Maybe you could make one for him?”

 

“I can make a hair tie in my sleep.  But it’s just kind of surprising that he would want one.  Are you sure?”

 

“Definitely.  He asked everyone, even me.  He was mad that nobody had one.”

 

“A hair tie, huh?”  Amayla smiled. “I can do that!  I’ll make it while I’m on watch tonight.  Thank you Bilbo!”  She hugged the hobbit tightly and kept on smiling.

 

Amayla didn’t even try to sit next to Dwalin at dinner.  She was so excited to make the hair tie that she didn’t trust herself to have a simple conversation with him; besides, Thorin and Balin had him surrounded.  She ate quickly and then sat by herself getting out a piece of leather and her knives, preparing for her watch. 

 

While sitting next to the fire, she was able to cut the leather and make cording in a matter of a few minutes, it was the embelishments that took some time.  She wanted to make it clear that the tie was a courting gift, so she carved an A intertwined with a D into the leather.  By the time it came for Bofur to replace her, she was quite satisfied with the results.  Sleep though was hard to come by as she was just too excited. 

 

Amayla tried to catch Dwalin alone in the morning, but Thorin seemed to be sticking to his side whenever she looked.  The same thing occurred when they stopped mid-day.  Even Bilbo remarked on it. 

 
“We need to make a plan for when we stop for the night Amayla,” Bilbo whispered to Amayla conspiratorially. 

 

“What are you thinking?”

 

“What if when we stop, I go look around, and tell Thorin that I think I see something in the distance and he should take a look?  You talk to Dwalin then.”

 

“That would certainly get Thorin’s attention.  I’m just not sure that I want you making him think that there is something out there for him to worry about when there really isn’t.”

 

“Don’t worry.  I’ll make certain that he thinks whatever I see is not a real problem.  But don’t you take too long!  What do you think?”

 

“I think you’re a wonderful friend Bilbo!”

 

When they finally stopped, Bilbo found a tall rock outcropping a little way from the camp and announced that he was going to have a good look around from there.  When he came back asking Thorin to come and look, Amayla made a bee-line to Dwalin asking him to join her, signaling the direction away from Bilbo. 

 

Finally alone, Amayla reached into a pocket and pulled out the hair tie.  “I heard you were looking for one of these, so here. . . ”  She chewed on her bottom lip and looked up to Dwalin’s face.

 

Unfortunately, the plain side was only visible when Dwalin picked it up. “I hope the size is alright,” she added shyly.

 

“Aye, it’ll do just fine, Lassie.” And he returned her smile closing his fist around the tie.

 

Amayla was about to say more when they heard Thorin’s voice yelling for Dwalin to join him.

 

“Can we talk during watch?” she asked touching him gently on his arm.  He nodded back to her. 

 

Amayla nearly skipped back to camp, her smile lighting up her face.  She locked eyes with Bilbo and nodded yes.  Fili and Kili looked at her skeptically, nudging each other.  “So Amayla, why are you so happy?  asked Kili. 

 

“Its just a beautiful evening, don’t you think?”

 

“Anything special you want to share?” asked Fili, smiling.

 

“No Fili.  Nothing I want to share with you or your brother.  But if you’re looking for a sparring session, I’d be happy to accommodate,” she replied overly sweetly.  They both immediately found their bowls of stew too fascinating to look up from.

 

Dinner was enjoyable as everything that anybody said caused Amayla to laugh.  Her good mood only encouraged Bofur who took the opportunity to tell some of his most outrageous jokes and stories.  Soon even Thorin was caught up in the jocularity.  But Amayla’s mood came to a crashing halt when she went to help Bombur clean up.  That’s when she saw it; her hair tie in Bombur’s beard. 

 

Her world turned black.  She couldn’t speak.  Her head started spinning.   The spinning caused her stomach to flip making her feel like she was going to throw up.  How could he do that to me?  Why?  I don’t understand! She definitely was going to throw up.  She covered her mouth and ran outside the camp and started vomiting violently. 

 

The entire camp jumped as she ran by.  She could hear them all approaching, calling her name, to see if she was alright. 

 

“Just stay back!” she managed to shout between bouts of throwing up.  The stew, which had tasted delicious going down, was not as good coming back up.

 

She heard most of them stop, but recognized the sound of the footsteps approaching her.  How dare he!  She reached for one of her daggers in her boots and pointed it in his general direction while trying to control her stomach.  As he got closer, she growled at him, “Do not take one more step closer.” 

 

“I’m just checking on you Lassie.  Are you alright?”

 

“LEAVE ME ALONE! Or I swear to Mahal that I will put this dagger between your eyes!”

 

“Amayla!”

 

“GO!!!”

 

At that, he left.

 

Several minutes later, Amayla heard another dwarf coming.  This time it was Oin.  She let him approach her. 

 

“What’s the matter Lassie? Is it something you ate?  I checked with Bomber and he didn’t think he had put anything in the stew that was out of the ordinary.  And nobody else is bothered.”

 

“No, its not the stew, let Bombur know that.  It’s something more personal. I really don’t want to talk about it.  Please Oin.”

 

The healer put his hand on head to check for fever.  Finding none, he agreed to leave her alone but only after he recommended that she take some water and ginger to help settle her stomach. 

 

“Thank you Oin. Send Bilbo with it and ask him to bring a shovel.  I’ll take care of this.  I don’t think I have much left to throw up.”

 

She didn’t hear Bilbo approach until he called her name.  When she saw him, she burst into tears.  He ran to her and hugged her, “Amayla, what’s going on?”

 

“He . . .  gave . . . it . . . away,” she managed to say between sobs.

 

“What? I don’t understand?”

 

“Dwalin . . . gave my courting gift . . . to Bombur!” she sobbed even more.

 

“What?!?!? But I thought everything was good?  You seemed so happy!”

 

“I thought it was. But . . . he gave it away.”  Her sobbing started to subside.

 

“I’m so sorry Amayla.  What do you want to do?  Do you want me to talk to him?”

 

“No! I just want it not to have happened. How could I have been so wrong? I thought . . .”

 

“I thought so too Amayla.  I’m sorry.  I feel guilty.  If I hadn’t encouraged you so, this never would have happened.”

 

“Its not your fault Bilbo.  I just don’t understand why he accepted it in the first place.  That was cruel.  All he had to do was to refuse the gift.  I guess he wanted to make it perfectly clear.  Maybe it wasn’t Thorin trying to keep us apart.  Maybe Thorin was just doing what Dwalin wanted, keeping me away from him.  Well, message received.  I won’t bother him anymore.”

 

“Amayla, I just can’t believe that.  Let me talk to Dwalin, or Thorin.  Maybe he can fix it.”

 

Amayla stood up and started burying her vomit.  “No Bilbo.  Please don’t.  You don’t know our customs.  It’s better for me if you just don’t say anything.  Please.” 

 

“If you are sure Amalya.  I don’t like it, but I won’t say anything unless you want me to.”

 

“I don’t want you to.  Thank you, Bilbo.  But you could ask Thorin to assign someone else my watch tonight. That would be a help.”

 

“I’ll take it for you.  It’s the least I can do.”

 

The two walked back to camp and Amayla moved her bedroll to the edge of camp, as far away from most of the company as possible.  “I’m feeling better,” she muttered.  “I just need to rest quietly tonight.  I’m sure I’ll be fine in the morning.  Bilbo’s going to take my watch.”  She looked to Thorin who just nodded and left her alone.  Sleep was difficult.  Her stomach still ached and if she thought too much, she started to cry again.  She decided to concentrate on Erebor and the journey. That was all that mattered. 

Chapter Text

The morning sky was grey and perfectly matched her mood.  It was obviously going to rain.  Amayla managed to drink some tea and eat a little of the oats that were made for breakfast, but the company kept asking how she was feeling, which only served to make her feel worse.  She was never so grateful to hear Thorin yell to move out.

 

They were entering the heart of the Misty Mountains and the trail grew narrow.  They could only walk single file and even then there was barely enough room for a single dwarf to pass.  Amayla was again at the back of the line and Dwalin was at the front.  It was the first time in days that the she was happy about the positioning.  It started to rain about mid-morning which made the climb even more difficult.  Again, Amayla was happy for the rain as it covered her tears and eliminated the need to talk to anyone. 

 

Several hours into the climb, the conditions worsened dramatically.  At first, they all assumed it was a bad thunderstorm until the mountains themselves started to move.  Stone Giants!  They were caught in the middle of a thunder battle.  It was when the mountain started to shift that Amayla got really scared.  She was in the back with Fili, Kili, Bofur, and Bombur when the mountain split right between the princes.  Fili desperately tried to hang on to Kili until the divide became too great.  The four of them clung to each other desperately as the giant moved, tossing boulders like peanuts.  They saw the other group led by Thorin scramble to safety as their leg brushed against the mountain, but Amayla’s group had no such opportunity.  The giant’s movements were dizzying and Amayla’s sore stomach didn’t help.  They would come tantalizingly close to the mountain, but never close enough.  Suddenly their giant started to wobble after getting smashed in its head by a boulder.  Fili herded them together as the mountain came speeding toward them.  “Jump” he yelled as he pushed the group onto a ledge as the giant came crashing in around them.  They fell in a pile, too stunned to say anything.  When Thorin yelled for Kili, Amayla could only look at Fili and roll her eyes. 

 

There were hugs all around as the group reformed until Amayla realized that Bilbo was not with them.  “Where’s Bilbo?!” she screamed. 

 

“There!” Bofur pointed at dove at the cliff’s edge where hobbit fingers could just be made out. 

 

Bofur was only able to grab a sleeve when Bilbo slipped further down, now only holding to the slimmest of ledges.  Dwalin nudged Amayla out of the way as he layed down to try and reach the hobbit, to no avail.  Finally, Thorin eased himself over the edge and onto a ledge where he was able to grab Bilbo and lift him to Bofur and Dwalin.  All seemed well until Thorin slipped while trying to climb back up.  This time Amayla was able to grab his arm and hold him until other arms pulled up their future king.

 

Amayla moved to hug Bilbo, checking him over like a mother hen.  “Don’t scare me like that!  I thought we’d lost you!”

 

“He’s been lost since he left his home.  He should not have come, he has no place among us.”  Thorin sneered.

 

Amayla stood in front of Bilbo and glared back at Thorin.  Balin came between them stating that they had to find shelter. 

 

The rain began to let up as they moved forward, finally coming upon a small cave, barely large enough to hold all of them.  Thorin would not let them start a fire so the company grumpily settled down on the floor, desperately trying to find places to hang their wet clothing.  Dinner was handfuls of nuts and dried berries that the elves had provided for them.  They were all miserable, especially Amayla.  During the day, it had taken all her concentration to stay on the path and make certain that no one fell behind.  But now, as things quieted down, her thoughts turned to Dwalin and what had happened the day before.  She found herself staring at the bald dwarf who seemed to be able to fall asleep no matter the conditions surrounding him.  Everyone else seemed to be able to rest, but she could find none.  She finally gave up, and decided to leave the cave.  She couldn’t take the closeness anymore.  She needed space to clear her head and think. 

 

She gathered her pack and crept over to where Bofur was keeping watch.  He looked at her questioningly.  “I’m going outside Bofur.  I need to think, perhaps to talk to Mahal.  I can’t do it in here.”

 

“You’re coming back, aren’t you Lassie?” he asked pointing to her pack and bow.

 

“Aye,” she managed a weak smile, “but you never know what you might run into out there.  Don’t worry, I’ll stay within shouting distance.”

 

Bofur looked at her thoughtfully, “Be careful out there Amayla.  And if there’s something you want to talk about, I’m happy to listen.  And I promise to keep anything you say to me under my hat.”  Bofur wiggled his eyebrows at her, causing his hat to bounce up and down. 

 

“Thank you Bofur.”  She smiled at him. 

 

She climbed above the cave looking for a smooth place to sit.  The clouds had mostly cleared, and the nearly half-full moon allowed Amayla to see easily, especially given her Dwarvish eye-sight.  While looking around, she though she saw a flicker of light down the mountain side.  It appeared and then disappeared.  She couldn’t be sure what it was, but at least it was a good way away.  She settled on a spot not far from the cave that was flat enough to sit comfortably with her back against the mountain.  It had been a long time since she had spoken to Mahal.  At Gorvuud, it had been her habit to once every three weeks during her break from patrolling; but, during the journey she’d gotten out of the practice.  She pulled her rune stone out of her pack and rubbed it between her fingers, softly humming the songs to Mahal that she had been taught in her youth.  When she finished, he gave thanks to Mahal for all the gifts he had given her:  her father, bears in the forest, Galen, Tigr, the elves of Rivendell, her swords, the company, and Bilbo.  She asked Mahals’s blessing on all those she cared for and for the success of their journey.  Then she started to question Mahal in earnest.  I don’t understand your will.  I believe that you destined Dwalin as my one and yet his actions would seem otherwise.  Am I subject to your folly?  I will try to follow your plans for me, if only I were clear on your intentions.  Please help me to do you will.  At that moment, the remaining clouds parted and the moon shone directly on her sword, reflecting the light up into her face.  My sword.  My destiny is my sword.  I am Mahal’s warrior.  And I will see Erebor restored.  A certain calmness fell over Amayla.  There was still a tug in her heart when she thought about Dwalin, but she could turn her focus back to the quest.  That was Mahal’s will.

 

Amayla made her way back to the cave’s and could just hear Bofur talking to Bilbo when Thorin shouted, “Wake up! Du Bekar!” She ran to the opening only to see the company falling down some trap doors.  Goblins!  The fall was tremendous and Amayla could only hope they would survive it, much less the goblins that would no doubt be at the bottom.  Her first instinct was to jump in after them, but she quickly realized how foolish that would be.  There had to be other entrances.  The light!  That must be a way in.  She had an idea of how to get to the light, but it meant going down the narrow path in the low light.  But she had no choice.  She moved more quickly than likely was safe, but she had no time to waste.  As she reached the point where she felt that she would have to leave the path and cut across the mountains, she heard someone approaching.  Silently, she notched an arrow and prepared to shoot.

 

“Amayla, hold!  It is me, Gandalf!” she heard a familiar voice call.

 

How did he know it was me?  It didn’t matter, she was just overjoyed to find help.

 

“Gandalf, the company has been taken by Goblins.  They fell into a trap.  We’ve got to help them!”

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“I saw a light across the way here.  I am hoping it is another way in.  It has to be!  Come on!”

 

Amayla was slightly surprised, but grateful, that Gandalf did not question her further, simply following her lead.  It took longer than she would have liked, but eventually they came to the opening.  Light shone through and they could hear noises coming out, noises that sounded like really bad singing, singing that was even worse than Amayla’s.  They drew their swords and proceeded down the tunnel.  Amayla was easily able to dispatch the few goblins they ran into before they could alert anyone of their presence.  They could hear a large gathering ahead.  Gandalf took the lead and raised his staff warning Amayla to stay directly behind him and close her eyes.  Even with her eye’s closed, Amayla could see the bright flash that emanated from his staff.  When she dared to open them, she could see that everyone, goblins and dwarves, were laying on the ground. 

 

“Take up arms,” Gandalf yelled, “Fight! Fight!”

 

As Amayla rushed forward, she was relieved to see the members of the company grabbing and throwing their weapons to one another.  She immediately started slicing the nearest goblin and worked her way forward to join with her friends.  Gandalf yelled to follow him and he led them on a crazy adventure of running, jumping, slicing, and killing hundreds of goblins.  The problem was more kept coming.  The company was eventually trapped on a rickety bridge facing the goblin king.  Fortunately, the king was an idiot, allowing Gandalf easy access for the kill.  Unfortunately, the bridge they were on collapsed under them, resulting in the company sliding wildly down the side of a chasm.  The bridge held together enough to slow down their fall when the sides of the chasm closed together, preventing the dwarves from being splattered on the cave floor.  Still more goblins kept coming, leaving daylight as their only hope.  The company made a mad dash for the outdoors following Gandalf’s direction. 

 

As they got far enough from the exit of the goblin’s tunnels, Gandalf did a head count.  Amayla’s heart fell when she heard Gandalf ask where Bilbo was.  Bilbo!  How did she not notice that he wasn’t with them?  Where is he? When she heard Thorin state that Bilbo was likely headed back to the Shire, Amayla objected.  “Stop it! He would not do that!  He’s still in there and I’m going back to find him.”

 

“No, I’m not in there and I’m not headed back.”  Bilbo appeared from out of nowhere.  Amayla ran up and hugged him.

 

“I want to know why you came back,” insisted Thorin. 

 

“I know you doubt me. But I have a home and you don’t.  It was taken from you and I will help you get it back if I can.”

 

Amayla was never so proud of anyone in her life.  She moved to give Bilbo another hug, but froze when she heard the warg howl.

 

If Amayla thought that the goblin tunnels were chaotic, the fight with the wargs and orcs was worse.  The company fled into the trees when there was nowhere else to run.  They jumped between trees as they were toppled.  They lit pine cones and threw them at the wargs to hold them back, but then the last tree started to fall.  Bofur and Bifur fell on Amayla forcing the three of them to cling to each other or fall to the wargs below.  They were all trapped.  Perhaps that is why Thorin did it.  He felt that he had nothing to lose.  But the company was shocked when Thorin ran to confront Azog.  The fight did not go well for Thorin and they were all petrified to see their leader about to fall, until Bilbo saved him.  The hobbit prevented Thorin’s beheading and protected him until Fili, Kili, and Dwalin were able to join the fight.  Amayla was beyond frustrated to not be able to join in as things were still very bad, until the eagles arrived.  The first ones saved Ori and Dori as they were about to plummet to their deaths.  The next several threw wargs off the cliff and one slowly picked up the fallen Thorin.   Amayla knew it was their turn when she saw some eagles waiting beneath her and Bofur and Bifur.  Nodding to the brothers, they all let go and fell safely onto the eagles. 

Chapter Text

The ride was terrifying.  Amayla had to force herself to open her eyes so she could assure that the entire company was safe.  After she counted, it was clear that all were well except for Thorin.  Fili’s desperate calls to his uncle only confirmed that he was in serious trouble.  When they landed on a large plateau, the company surrounded Thorin and watched as Gandalf chanted over him.  Relief spread over all of them when their leader started coughing.

 

What Thorin did next shocked Amayla.  He stood before Bilbo and started to yell at him, or so Amayla thought.  She moved to protect her friend, but stopped as Thorin began to praise Bilbo and embrace him.  The entire company sighed and finally relaxed.  Their peace turned to all-out joy when they all saw the Lonely Mountain in the distance. 

 

The largest of the eagles remained watching the dwarves.  He spoke only to Gandalf who introduced to Gwaihir to all of the company.  They all bowed to the great eagle in appreciation. 

 

Because all the dwarves were exhausted and hungry and only Amayla still had her pack, the eagles generously provided them with a sheep they had hunted.  The animal was quickly put on a spit and roasted. The company spent the day resting, eating, and tending to their injuries.  Luckily, Amayla had a full water skin with her that she parsed out amoung them all.  The weather was still warm so even without bedrolls everyone could sleep as the eagles kept watch. 

 

The next morning, the eagles once again flew the dwarves down off the carrock and deposited them on the valley floor which was as far the eagles were comfortable flying.  They did not want to get too close to settlements where archers could shoot them.  As the great birds flew off, Gwaihir shrieked his farewell to Gandalf, “Farewell! wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!”

 

To which the Wizard replied, “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks." 

 

When Bilbo looked at Gandalf quizzically, Gandalf merely replied, “When you are a wizard, you must know how to speak politely to all creatures.”

 

After watching the eagles fly away, the company resumed their trek in earnest.  Thorin was certain that the orc pack was still on their tail and he wanted to keep as much distance between them as possible.  They made good time as they were traveling mostly downhill through the foothill of the Misty Mountains.  Amayla resumed her position in the back of the line, but Thorin wanted Bilbo up front with him leaving Amayla to spend much of her time talking to the Ur brothers. 

 

As the sun began to set, they started hearing noises.  Thorin sent Bilbo off to see if he could spot anything.  Amayla was not pleased to see Bilbo go off on his own, but could not contradict Thorin’s order.  When the hobbit returned, Amayla immediately recognized his agitation, but nobody would let him speak.  Finally, Bilbo put his foot down and explained that the orcs were following them but were still a far distance away, but there was something else out there, something bigger. 

 

“What shape was it?  Like a bear?” asked Gandalf.

 

Surprised, Bilbo replied, “Yes, only much, much bigger than any bear I’ve ever heard of.”  Bilbo looked at Amayla with concern, but she could only frown.

 

“You knew of such a beast?” Bofur asked of Gandalf.

 

After a short discussion between Gandalf and Thorin it was clear that they would have to try and make it to a house a short distance away, although it was not clear that they would be welcome.  As they heard a roar like no other, the company started to run.  The crashing sounds indicating a large beast was chasing them. 

 

Amayla ran up to Gandalf.  She had an idea but needed information to know if it would work.

 

“Gandalf, this bear, it is male?”

 

Gandalf turned to Amayla but kept running, “Yes.  He is male.”

 

“Does he have a mate?”

 

“Not that I am aware of.  Why?”

 

“I’ll let you know.  How much farther?”

 

“Too far.  I’m not certain we will make it.”  They both continued to run. 

 

“There!” Gandalf shouted, “Make for the house!”

 

Amayla saw the house in the distance but she heard the beast catching up.  She knew that she was going to have to distract the bear or he would be upon them in a matter of minutes. 

 

“Gandalf, keep everybody running, I’ll distract the bear.  Don’t let anybody stop!”  she shouted to the wizard as she halted, pulled of her pack and started digging through it.  She stood still to figure out the direction of the wind as the beast burst through the edge of the forest.  The bear was enormous.  Amayla had seen large bears all her life, but this was three times of the size of any she had ever seen.  She grasped the cool vial in her hand and gave a quick thanks to Ardru for giving her one of their precious bear bombs.  She also asked Mahal for help. 

 

She heard some of the dwarves scream her name, but she stood still, waiting for the bear to get close enough.  The timing would be difficult.  If the beast was not slowed by the scent, she knew he would tear her apart.  When she could wait no longer, she threw the vial toward a stand of trees and was gratified to hear it shatter.  But the beast did not seem interested.  All Amayla could do was to grab her pack and hold it in front of her as a makeshift shield.  She needed to get the bear closer to the trees so he could catch the scent.  Her hope was that he would be more interested in finding the source of the female scent than in killing her.  As the bear reached her, she thrust her pack at him and dove and rolled toward the trees.  Unfortunately, the bear’s huge paw caught Amayla as he swiped at her, slicing through her leathers covering her arm.  The pain was excruciating, but Amayla kept rolling away from the beast.  She covered her head with her arms, waiting for another blow, when he stopped and started sniffing the air.  He let out another huge roar before turning and galloping off towards the trees.  Amayla immediately scrambled to her feet and started running toward the house.  Her arm was throbbing and Amayla could see the blood pouring through the slices in her clothes.  She held her arm tight across her chest which helped slightly with the pain but prevented her from running very quickly. 

 

She could hear the bear start to chase after her again so she kept her feet moving as fast as she could, although she was slowing quickly.  As she strumbled through fields of clover with large bees flying around, she saw the door to the house open and Kili run out to her.  She wanted to yell to him to turn back, but didn’t have the energy.  When he reached her, he threw her arm around his neck, practically dragging her toward the door.  They just made it into the house when the bear tried to smash his way in.  The rest of the company shut the door shut on the beast, slamming down the bar, locking him out. 

 

Amayla fell against a large chair, trying to catch her breath.  Dwalin turned and grabbed Amayla by her arms causing her to moan.  She could see his lips moving, obviously yelling at her, but she couldn’t seem to hear him as there was a strange rushing sound in her ears.  Suddenly, she was seeing spots while the scene in front of her started to spin.  Then all went black. 

 

 

Amayla woke up to unbearable pain in her arm.  She wasn’t certain of where she was but seemed to be in a rather large bed.  Oin was standing over doing something to her arm that hurt beyond words. 

 

“She’s awake.” 

 

Amayla began grabbing at her arm trying to make Oin stop doing whatever it was he was doing.

 

“Hold her down lads!  She’s going to tear out the stitches before I get finished.”

 

“Amayla please, you have to stay still.”

 

Amayla recognized Bilbo’s voice.  She turned to where it was coming from and the hobbit slowly came into focus.

 

“Bilbo.  Where am I? What is happening?  What is Oin doing?  MAKE HIM STOP!”

 

“Shhh, shhh, Amayla.  You were injured.  Oin is stitching you up.  You must stay still.  Please!”

 

“Wait, OIN PLEASE STOP!” she screamed and tried to break free of the hands holding her down.

 

“Lassie I can’t stop.  These wounds must be stitched.  I’m sorry I don’t have anything for the pain.  Please try to stay still.”

 

“Here Amayla, bite down on this.”  Dwalin handed her his belt.  Even with all the pain she was feeling, Amayla didn’t want to take anything from him. 

 

“Please Amayla, just take it.  It will help.” Bilbo whispered to her. 

 

Reluctantly, Amayla bit down on the belt and gripped the sheets as Oin continued stitching her left arm. 

 

When Oin finally finished, Amayla was exhausted and could only lay still with tears spilling out of her eyes.  “Rest now lassie.  Try and sleep.  Maybe in the morning I’ll be able to find some herbs to help with the pain.”

 

“I’ll stay with her,” Dwalin offered drawing up a chair.

 

At those words, Amayla’s eyes flew open.  “No!” she barked out.  “Only Bilbo!” 

 

Shocked, Dwalin stopped midway down to sitting and frowned at Amayla’s words.  She, however, had closed her eyes once again, wincing in pain.  The other dwarves in the room froze.  Oin finally broke the silence saying, “You heard her lads, everybody out except Bilbo.”  Dwalin’s eyes never left the hobbit’s as he silently marched out of the room.

 

 

Amayla tossed and moaned for several hours, desperately trying to find a position to ease the pain in her arm.  Bilbo tried cold compresses and gently rubbing her legs to try and distract her from the pain, but she was becoming more and more anxious.  She started mumbling incoherently about bears, goblins, orcs, and hair ties when Gandalf came into the room with Oin and the largest man that Bilbo had ever seen.  He was taller than Gandalf by at least a foot and had long bushy hair and a beard.  Bilbo stepped aside as Oin unbandaged Amayla’s arm and the man rubbed some ointment on his friend’s wounds.  Amayla immediately quieted, both in voice and in body movements.  After a few short minutes, they were all relieved to see see breathing evenly in what appeared to be a restful sleep. 

 

When Amayla woke up, the sun was high in the sky filling her room with light.   She sat up as she heard voices outside her door. 

 

“I’m awake!  You can come in.”

 

Gandalf came in first, holding the door for Bilbo who followed with a tray of food and drink. 

 

“You seem to be feeling much better Amayla,” Gandalf told Amayla as opposed to bothering to ask her.

 

“Yes, I suppose I do,” answered Amayla as she stretched her good arm and moved to the edge of the bed.  “Is that for me Bilbo?  It smells wonderful.”

 

Bilbo set the tray of food down on the table next to Amayla’s bed.  There were raisin scones, a jar of honey, and a large slab of butter sitting next to a glass of milk.  She enjoyed the food greatly as Gandalf explained where she was. 

 

“We are guests in the home of Beorn.  He’s a skin changer.  It was he in his form of a great bear that chased us and injured you.  But as a man, it was he who applied the salve that calmed your wounds and brought you rest.  He has granted us respite and has agreed to help us continue our journey.  He would like to speak with you when you feel able.” 

 

“A skin changer?  And he was that bear?  I would most certainly like to meet with him especially if he was the one to stop my pain.  I vaguely remember somebody putting something cool on my arm and then the pain went away.”

 

“Well then come, I will introduce you.” Gandalf held out his hand to help her up and led her to the kitchen where most of the dwarves were gathered around an enormous table.  Beorn was petting one of his many dogs as Gandalf made the introductions. 

 

“Thank you for helping me last night.  Whatever you put on my wounds, helped tremendously.”  Amayla bowed her head to the giant.

 

“It is the least that I could do, considering that I was the one who caused them.  For that I apologize.”

 

“No need to apologize.  You were defending your territory against trespassers.  We should be the ones to apologize to you.”

 

Beorn nodded at Amayla’s words.  “I must ask you, when I was chasing you, I was distracted by a scent of another bear, but I did not find one, only a broken vessel.  Do you know anything about it?”

 

Amayla shifted uncomfortably.  “Aye, well, um, that vessel was mine.  I threw it.”

 

Beorn growled softly.

 

Amayla continued, “Among my people, we have created something we call a “bear bomb.”  It contains the scent of a female bear in heat.  We use it to create a diversion if we need to get away from a male bear, which I needed from you, last night.”

 

“So there was no female out there?”

 

“No.”  Amayla paused, having had a hard time looking Beorn in the eye.  “I am sorry for the deception.”

 

Beorn paced quietly in the room for a moment.  “Your people use these bomb things often?”

 

“No, as they are very difficult to create, we only use them as a last resort.  We much prefer to avoid situations where they would be necessary.”

 

“You know how to avoid bears?”

 

“Aye.  Where I live, we respect bears.  They are our allies against orcs.  We try to leave them at peace as much as possible.”

 

“And yet you wear the tooth of a cub around your neck.  Is that some sort of trophy?”

 

Amayla instinctively grasped her bear tooth necklace, and then smiled.  “No, of course not.  I can promise you that this bear was alive and well on the day I left.  She is the matriarch of our forest and the mother of three cubs this season.”

 

“Three?  That is good.  So how did you come by her tooth?”

 

At that question, all the dwarves in the room sat up in anticipation of the finally hearing the story Amayla had refused to tell.

 

Amayla looked around the room, shook her head, and sighed.  “Alright, I’ll tell.”

 

“It was well over twenty years ago.  I was a lieutenent in the barracks.  We were out on patrol and I went out hunting and shot a deer.”  Beorn growled at that.  “I’m sorry Beorn, but we dwarves eat meat.  Anyway, it wasn’t a clean shot so I had to cut his neck to put him out of his misery.  When I did, the blood spurt out and covered me.  I was right next to the river so I decided to clean myself up.  I took off my clothes and went to rinse off in the river.  But as I was getting clean, a cub came out of the woods sniffing around the deer carcass.  I was afraid she was going to try and steal my kill so I tried to scare her off.  I jumped out and starting yelling, waving my arms, and she started running.  But, somehow, she got my clothes stuck in her paws so I had to run after her.  I grabbed the clothes and started pulling and she bit into them and pulled back.  I’m not sure if she thought we were playing or what, but she was making a lot of noice, so of course, mama bear heard her and came running out of the woods towards me.  Well, I’m not stupid enough to take on an enraged mother bear, so I dropped my clothes and took off into the river, hoping that she wouldn’t follow.  Unfortunately, she did, but then she found the deer carcass and sat down and started eating it.  Every time I tried to get near shore, she would charge me; so, I had to swim down the rapids to get away.  I was incredibly lucky to survive the rapids without drowning or breaking something, but I did and I got away.  I swam in the river most of the way back to the barracks but then had to walk a ways to the actual building.  Well, it was cold, and walking in wet, torn undergarments gets you even colder, so I stripped out of them and carried them back to the barracks.  …. And yes, Kili, I was stark naked.” 

 

Amayla rolled her eyes at the dark prince who was grinning stupidly, nudging his brother.

 

“I covered myself as much as possible with my ripped clothes and reported back to my father who was, of course, in the middle of a meeting with one of the other patrols.  He gave me something to cover myself with but not before everyone got a good eyeful.”

 

“So that’s how you got your Iglishmek nickname!” Bofur laughed outloud. 

 

“What’s your Iglishek nickname?” Ori asked.

 

“Go ahead Bifur, show them.”

 

Bifur moved three fingers down his shoulder and then swiped his thumb across it. 

 

All the dwarves in the room burst into laughter. 

 

“What?” asked Bilbo.

 

“It means ‘bear naked’ Bilbo.  Which is also why I wanted to become a captain as quickly as possible, so I could lose that nickname!”

 

“But you have still not told us how you came by the tooth,” Beorn gently reminded her.

 

“Yes, well I went back the next day to let my patrol know where I was and to collect my weapons and clothing.  My good friend Galen, who was one of the dwarves who witnessed my humiliation, went with me.  When he picked up my clothing, he found the tooth stuck in the leather.  It must have come out when I was trying to get my clothes from her.  He kept it and made the necklace for me.”

 

“He made it for you?” asked Ori.  “Was it a courting gift then?”

 

“No Ori!  Remember, Galen and I didn’t court.  He is my dearest friend and is married to another of my dear friends.  He gave it to me on Durin’s day.  If it was a courting gift, I couldn’t have kept it as no honorable dwarf would ever except a courting gift if he didn’t intent on getting married.”  She shot a look at Dwalin who happened to be talking to Thorin so neither of them saw it.

 

“That was a good story mistress.  I am glad to hear that the bear is well and that you are also.  If there is anything I can do to make your stay here more comfortable, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

 

“Actually Beorn.  If it isn’t any trouble, there are some herbs I usually use to make tea.  My supply was in the bag I threw at you so I don’t image that there is anything left of them.  Would you have any I could borrow?” Amayla asked hopefully.

 

“The one you call Oin knows where my herbs are.  You are welcome to whatever you need.  Now I must go to the barns.”

 

As Beorn left, Oin motioned to Amayla to follow him to what appeared to be a large pantry.  Three shelves were full of jars containing herbs.  “You are looking for angelica root and blood leaves I presume lassie?”

 

She nodded and the two began checking out every jar that was there.  After triple checking each jar, Amayla knew that there was no hope. 

 

“How long has it been since you bled lassie?” the healer asked.

 

“Over six months.”

 

“That is not good.  You should always taper down to let your body resume your flow.  To stop so abruptly can be difficult.”

 

“I know that Oin!  That’s why I was so desparate to find some.  What do you think will happen?”

 

“Well it varies of course, but the first flow will likely be very heavy and any other problems that usually come with it will also likely be greater.”

 

“So, the cramping and the anger will be worse?”

 

“I’m afraid so lassie.  I’ll have some herbs that should help lessen the pain, but not much else.  Is it usually bad for you?”

 

“Aye, its usually bad.  You may need to keep the company away from me as much as possible when it comes.  How soon do you think?”

 

“Anywhere from a week to a month.  There’s no way to know.”

 

“I promised Thorin that me being a female would not be a problem.  This might be a problem.”

 

“I’ll do my best when the time comes Amayla.  Now let me look at that wound.”  Oin declared that it was healing nicely and he let Thorin know that she could leave the next morning.

 

During the evening meal, Beorn told them the story of skin-changers in the mountains and how orcs, led by Azog, had killed all his people.  It was his hatred of orcs that led him to agree to provide whatever aid the company would need.  

Chapter Text

Beorn was true to his word and provided the dwarves with blankets, food, and water skins as well as ponies that would carry them to Mirkwood forest.  The company left early the next morning and proceeded at a fast pace to try and keep ahead of any orcs that might be following them.  When they reached the edge of the forest and arranged all their gear on their backs, they set the ponies free having been told by Beorn that the animals would find their own way home.

 

It was there that Gandalf left them, but he promised to meet them at the overlook to Erebor.  Bilbo was most upset by the wizard’s departure so Amayla did her best to stay close to him.  Gandalf’s parting warning to them was to stay on the Elven path, which Amayla couldn’t imagine being especially difficult to do.  She quickly realized how wrong she was.

 

The path was far more overgrown than Amayla could have ever imagined.  Light barely made it through to path so it felt light night all day long.  They walked until it was absolutely too dark to go any farther.  Gloin lit a fire but it attracted so many large moths and bats that they were forced to put it out and had to settle for huddling together for comfort.  They ate little as they weren’t sure how long their stores would last so they were all hungry and miserable. 

 

The next days continued the same way.  The company kept to the path but could feel eyes peering at them from the forest. And spider webs seemed to hang from every tree.  The food and water were running out and it seemed that the air was running out too.  Amayla felt as if every breath had to be worked for.  There was nothing natural about it.  She began to grow fearful that if she she didn’t think about it, she would forget to breathe.  Because of that, she kept very quiet so she could concentrate on taking breaths.  Bilbo on the other hand, couldn’t seem to stop talking.  He kept asking Amayla questions about everything.  Amayla kept shushing him, warning him that she couldn’t talk because she was trying to breathe. 

 

Days began to blur together, and it became impossibile to tell morning from night.  The food and water soon eventually ran out, but the company had no choice but to keep walking.  Nori, who was at the front of the line, stopped short, causing each in the company to run into the dwarf in front of him.  Bilbo slammed into Amayla and landed flat on his back.  Amayla turned to see what had hit her but couldn’t find Bilbo anywhere.  “I think we’ve lost Bilbo,” she stated to no one inparticular. 

 

“We’ve lost more than the burgular.  The path is gone.”  Nori responded. 

 

“I’m down here!” came the hobbit’s voice.   Fili and Kili helped him up. 

 

“How can the path be gone, we were just on it!” roared Thorin. 

 

“Its gone!” Nori replied, looking down the edge of a steep decline. 

 

“Find it!  Everyone look!  But don’t go too far!” Thorin ordered. 

 

Amayla started twirling around and around until she got so dizzy that she fell over.  Fili and Kili kept walking into each other as they stumbled around searching the treetops.  Bombur fell to the ground, laying on his stomach, brushing leaves away.  A few of the dwarves were walking around poking at the ground, but nobody found anything.

 

“Bilbo, climb this tree and see if you can see anything.” Thorin ordered and practically threw Bilbo up to the lowest branch of the tallest tree in the area. 

 

“Why don’t we just ask that bear over there?” asked Amayla, pointing into the forest. 

 

“What bear?” asked Thorin.

 

“The one right there! Look!  Don’t you see him?” Amayla replied frustrated.

 

“There is no bear there Amayla!”

 

“Are you blind?  He’s right there!  -  Males!  Never willing to ask for directions.  Well I’m going to ask him!”  She got up and started marching off into the forest. 

 

“Fili, Kili – go with her, but don’t go too far.” Thorin ordered.

 

The brothers quickly caught up to Amayla.  “Now you’ve gone and scared him away!  Be quiet!” she complained as she marched off further into the woods. 

 

“Do you think the bear will help us?” whispered Kili. 

 

“Of course he will, he’s a bear, isn’t he?” Amayla replied disgustedly.

 

The three turned around as they heard something tramping throught the wood behind them.

 

As Dwalin burst through a bush, Amayla yelled at him to be quiet too, “Quit scaring him or he’ll never help us.” 

 

“Amayla, Fili, Kili, come back now before we all get lost!  There is no bear!” the bald dwarf yelled at them all.

 

“Great! Now you’ve frightened him off, come on lads!” Amayla shouted as she ran off.

 

Fili and Kili quickly followed behind Amayla, completely ignoring Dwalin’s protests.

 

Amayla stopped and put her fingers to her lips.  She turned to Fili and Kili, “He’s right over there.  You two stay here and I’ll go talk to him.”

 

As she tip-toed her way through the brush, Dwalin once again came stomping up behind them, yelling at them to stop.

 

Amayla threw her hands up in disgust and turned to the bald warrior, “Now you’ve done it, you big fat meanie!  He’s run away and it’s all your fault!”

 

“Way to go Dwalin!” Fili sneared at him before turning back to the forest.

 

“I am not a big, fat meanie!” Dwalin complained. 

 

“You are too!” Amayla stuck out her tongue at him.

 

“Dwalin’s right, Amayla.  He’s not fat.  He’s just a big meanie,” stated Kili.

 

Amayla walked over to Dwalin and poked her finger into his chest, “No, he IS A BIG FAT MEANIE!”

 

Dwalin grabbed Amayla’s wrist, “I AM NOT!  STOP SAYING THAT!  Now all of you, we are going back!”

 

Amayla yanked her wrist from his grasp, crossed her arms and stared down the large dwarf, “I’m not going back, and you can’t make me!”

 

Kili came up next to her, copied her stance, and repeated her words to Dwalin.

 

Dwalin started looking around, expecting Fili to join them, but he was nowhere to be seen.  “Where’s Fili?”

 

“Fee?  FILI?  Where are you?”  All three of them started looking around.

 

Amayla noticed Kili looking up in the trees.  “Why are you looking up there Kili?”

 

“Maybe he flew up there,” Kili responded still looking up.

 

“Can Fili fly?” Amayla asked amazed.

 

“Of course he can.” Kili answered. 

 

“Wow!”

 

“Where did Dwalin go?” asked Kili.

 

“The big fat meanie was right behind us, now where is he?  Did he fly away too?” Amayla complained.  She started back to look for him when something sharp stabbed her in her leg sending her into blackness. 

 

 

The next sensation Amayla felt was that of falling, gently before landing with a thud on her arm that still pained her.  She opened her eyes in total confusion.  Where am I?  What is this white stuff on me?  Why can’t I move?  Slowely, feeling came back into her arms and legs and she began to wiggle about.  She tried pushing on the white stuff, but it only stuck to her fingers.   Suddently, a knife cut through the white veil uncomfortably close to her face.  Fili’s smiling face appeared as she heard him shout, “Here’s Amayla!”  He offered her a hand and helped her stand up.

 

“Can you stand on your own?” the blond asked.

 

Amayla pulled at the white fibers sticking to her and stretched and tested her muscles.  “Yes, I’m fine.” 

 

“Good, then start freeing the others,” he ordered in a voice very reminiscent of his uncle.

 

Amayla looked around and saw several pods of what she now understood to be her companions wrapped in spider silk.  She pulled out one of her many daggers and carefully cut a slit in the nearest bundle.  She smiled at her favorited hatted dwarf as he blinked in confusion, “Good morning sunshine.”  She continued, releasing both Gloin and Ori. 

 

Thorin gathered the company gathered together when they were all released and praised Bilbo for saving them as it was the Hobbit who was the first one to cut himself out of the spider trappings.  But before Amayla could congratulate Bilbo herself, the spiders attacked.  They were enormous creatures and their shells seemed to be as hard as granite.  Each dwarf who still had a weapon struck back, slashing and hacking off their legs and fangs.  But for every one they killed, it seemed that two more crawled up behind them.

 

Suddenly, arrows flew at the spiders from somewhere in the forest.  A large contingent of elves seemed to spring from the trees, killing the creatures but then pointing the arrows at the company.  Facing a tall, blond elf that had an arrow pointed right between his eyes, Thorin laid down his weapons and the rest of the company followed suit.  However, they all turned when Kili started yelling for help.  Amayla, Fili, and Dwalin immediately moved to go to his aid, but were halted by elves.  Amayla managed to knock down one elf and throw a dagger in the eye of one of several spiders that was attacking the young prince, but she was slammed to the ground by the tall, blond elf, his arrow now pointed at her face, “Don’t think I won’t kill you dwarf, it would be my pleasure.”  Amayla lay still.  Kili was saved by a red-headed female elf and joined the company being searched.  The elf that searched Amayla did a poor job and she was left with two hidden daggers as she was marched off.  She signaled to Fili in Iglishmek who replied that he was down to one.  Her amusement in outwitting the elves was short-lived when she heard Bofur ask about Bilbo.  He was missing again. 

 

As the company was led on a path through the forest, Amayla felt her head start to clear.  The air seemed lighter and she stopped thinking about breathing.  Instead of feeling better though, Amayla’s mood steadily declined.  The more she thought about it, the angrier she felt toward the elves.  Why are we their prisoners?  What did we do?  They should keep the forest clear of these spiders!  And why is Kili staring at that red-headed she-elf?  She kept glaring at the blond elf who seemed to be in charge.  Feeling her eyes on him, the blond turned and glared back at her. Amayla muttered a curse to the blond in Khudzul that got Bofur snickering.  The blond just glared more. 

 

They were placed in cells, some together, some single.  Probably because she was female, Amayla was given a cell to herself.  She was very sad to see Fili lose his last dagger as he was shoved into his cell.  Her cell was almost empty, no stool, no bed, just a bucket in the corner.  Amayla slumped against the wall and started fantasizing about insults she could heave at the stupid blond elf.   She chuckled when Thorin told Balin that he had used one of her favorites on the great King Thranduil. 

 

The elves did bring them all bread and water, and although Amayla would have loved to throw it back in their stupid faces, she was starving and thirsty so she merely made an obscene gesture at them with a fake smile on her face. 

 

A few hours later, the red-headed she-elf came to check on the cells.  She was obviously some sort of captain Amayla surmised.  Amayla refused to even acknowledge her when she pulled on the bars of her cell to check them.  A few minutes later though, Amayla was shocked to hear Kili having a conversation with her.  She couldn’t make out the words, but by the tone, it sounded like a pleasant conversation.  What is that all about?  Is Kili flirting with her?  Amayla rose to see if she could see what was going on.  She couldn’t see Kili or the she-elf but she did spot the blond elf looking down at them with a very serious frown on.  That was the best thing Amayla had seen in weeks!  An evil smile lit her face as she slowly slumped against the wall and fell asleep. 

 

 

Amayla woke up in an even worse mood than the previous day.  All she wanted to do was to hit someone.  During the day, each of the dwarves were taken separately to see King Thranduil.  Thorin had warned everyone to simply not say a word to the elven king, but Amayla wasn’t sure she would be able to manage that.  She was right. 

 

Two guards opened her cell door and told her to stand.  Amayla ignored them.  They walked over and grabbed her by each arm and lifted her up.  “Will you come willingly?” one of them asked.  Amayla simply glared at him.  “Tie her hands.”  Amayla put her knuckles together and put them in front of her chest where she allowed the elves to tie them together.   Smiling to herself, she let them lead her out. 

 

When the elves returned her to her cell, they were none too gentle as they threw her onto the ground before slamming the door shut.  Amayla simply laughed. 

 

“Amayla, what happened.   Was that blood on that elf?” Fili, who was in the cell across from her, asked. 

 

“Yep” she laughed to herself.

 

“What did you do?  Did you speak to Thranduil?” asked Thorin angrily.

 

“Well, I might have broken the nose of one of the elves,” she chuckled as she sat against the wall again.

 

“You did what?” Thorin bellowed.

 

“Can I help it if the guards were stupid enough to tie my hands so that it took about two pulls to get my hands free?  I’m just sorry it wasn’t that blond one who captured us.”

 

“Did you speak to Thranduil?” Balin asked.

 

“Well, maybe, a little.”

 

“Amayla, I specificially told you not to speak to him.” Thorin groaned.

 

“Yes, well, he pissed me off.  Kinda like you’re doing to me right now.”

 

“What did you say?”

 

“I said you’re pissing me off like Thranduil did!  What was the point of not talking to him?  He knows where we’re going.  He’s not stupid!  He may be an arrogant prick, but he’s not stupid.” 

 

“Oh lassie, what did you say to Thranduil?”  This time it was Balin trying to make peace.

 

“Well, I might have said that he was incompetent in taking care of the forest he lived in, and that he was rude, stupid, and a stain upon the elven race. And I might have also something about him not being nearly as fair as Glorfindel which really seemed to anger him.”

 

There were some groans, coupled with some laughs that could be heard from the other cells.

 

“Oh, and I also might have knocked over a few pieces of furniture and broken his bottle of wine.”

 

“Amayla!  What has come over you?”  Fili asked.  Amayla just shrugged.

 

It was Oin who tried to explain her behavior.  “Leave her be laddie.  Just leave her alone.  She’s not quite herself right now.  She should be back to normal tomorrow.”  

Chapter Text

Oin couldn’t have been more wrong.  Amayla woke in the very early hours thinking that she had slept wrong on the hard floor.  As she come out of her morning grogginess, Amayla realized that the pain in her abdomen was not from sleeping and was only getting worse.  Shite, here it comes.  She checked her leggings and determined that her period had indeed arrived and apparently with a vengeance.  And there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.  She curled up in a ball on the floor and tried to ride out the cramps.  It was going to be a long day.  She thought about asking the guards for help when he brought her some food, but when she saw her guard had a broken nose, she didn’t even bother. 

 

Fili was the first to notice that there was something wrong with his friend.  “Amayla, what’s wrong?  Are you hurt?  Did they hurt you?”

 

“No Fili.  Nobody hurt me.  I’m just not feeling very well right now.  It will pass.”

 

Oin overheard them and saw Amayla curled on the floor.  “Is it bad Lassie?”

 

“Aye.  Worst I’ve ever had.  How long do you think they will last?”

 

“I would guess it will be awhile Lassie.  Likely most of the day, if not longer.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Oh Mahal.  I’m not sure I can hold on that long!” she moaned. 

 

“What’s wrong with Amayla?  Did they hurt her?” Dwalin yelled.   His cell had no view of Amayla’s, and he could barely hear what was going on. 

 

Oin had to shout out to Dwalin.  “She’s not been hurt, but she’s having some pains.  They’ll go away eventually, but she’s in for a long day.”

 

Thorin asked Oin if there was anyway to help her, but Oin just shook his head no. 

 

As the day wore on, Amayla’s pain increased dramatically.  The company grew silent as their frustration levels rose with every moan emanating from her cell.  The elf with the broken nose made his rounds but said nothing to any of the company members, despite their pleas on Amayla’s behalf. 

 

Finally, Amayla called out to Kili.  He was in the cell next to hers so they could talk easily but could not see each other.  “Kili, if you see your girl friend, please ask her to come to my cell.”

 

“What girlfriend?”

 

“That red-head you’ve been talking to, the captain.”

 

“Her name is Tauriel and she’s not my girlfriend.”

 

“Whatever! Just ask her to come see me PLEASE!”

 

Kili spotted Tauriel about an hour later, got her attention, and asked her to see to Amayla.  Tauriel was shocked when she saw the female dwarf curled in a fetal position, moaning.  She immediately called for the guard to come unlock the cell. 

 

“What is wrong?”  Tauriel looked the dam over from head to toe noticing the blood stains.  “Are you injured?”

 

“No, I’m not injured.  It is my period and really bad cramps.”

 

“Is it normal for dwarves to have such pain?”

 

“No.  My herbs that control it were lost to a bear, so my body could not properly adjust.  Now everything is much worse than normal.  Please, can you help me?  At least can you give me some rags or padding for the bleeding?”   Amayla clutched at her abdomen as another cramp overcame her. 

 

“You will go to our healer.  He should be able to help you.”  Turning to the guard, “How long has she been like this?”

 

“All day, Captain,” the broken-nosed elf replied.

 

“All day?!?!  You have let her suffer all day without informing me?”

 

“She is a prisoner and a dwarf, Captain.  I did not think it mattered,” he sneered at Amayla as he answered. 

 

“That is NOT how we treat our prisoners.  You will report to me immediately when you have finished your shift.  Now help her stand.”

 

Amayla couldn’t stand straight as the pain caused her to bend over and clutch her abdomen, but Tauriel grabbed her arm and gave her support.  Amayla could only whisper her thanks. 

 

As they started out her cell, Oin yelled to Tauriel begging her to let him go with them.  “I know what she needs, what herbs will help!”  Tauriel nodded to the guard to bring the healer along. 

 

When they made it to the healing room, a male elf quickly looked over Amayla and then began talking to Oin.  The elf healer instructed one of his assistants who quickly gave Amayla some a drink of a strange tasting liquid.  Almost immediately, Amayla felt woozy and stopped writhing in pain.  The healer took Oin off to a room where the two selected herbs to give to Amayla.  They brewed it in a tea and gave it to the dwarrowdam to drink.  In a few minutes, Amayla started to feel better.  She grabbed for Tauriel’s hand, as the elf had stayed by her side, and murmured “Thank you.”  She then closed her eyes and laid still. 

 

“Will she sleep for long?” Tauriel asked the healer. 

 

“Yes, likely for an at least an hour.”

 

“Then I will take him back and return for her,” Tauriel gestured toward Oin who bowed his head to the elven healer before walking out with the guard. 

 

It took some time for Amayla to fully comprehend what had happened to her as she slowly woke up and when she did, she was horrified.  Mahal!  I can’t believe what I said to Thranduil!  And knocking over the table with the wine?  Why did I do that?  Well, I know why, but I still can’t believe I actually did that.  I should try to apologize, but they’re never going to let me near the king, will they?  Damn! Damn! Damn! 

 

When Tauriel showed up to take her back to her cell, Amayla thanked her again for her kindness. 

 

“It is I who must apologize for those under my command.  They should never had let you suffer for so long.”

 

“Well, l did break his nose.  I do owe him an apology for that.”

 

“I have been meaning to ask you how you managed to do that.  The guard said you slipped out of your restraints without his noticing.” 

 

Amayla chuckled.  “Aye, he made a simple mistake which I will show you if you would do something for me.”

 

Tauriel eyed the dam suspiciously. 

 

“I would like to apologize to your king.  My behavior was beyond rude.”

 

 The red-haired elf was completely taken aback.  “You wish to talk to the king?” 

 

“Aye.”

 

“I do not think it wise.  My king’s wrath is not to be taken lightly.”

 

“I understand, but I shamed my race and I must at least try to apologize.  And maybe I will tell him what he wants to know.”

 

Tauriel snorted at that.  “But you will show me how you escaped your bonds?”

 

“Yes.” 

 

“Agreed.  Please show me first.” 

 

Amayla allowed Tauriel to bind her arms, and showed how she had held her hands and tensed her arms to make it appear that her wrists were securely bound.  “Then you simply drop your arms and relax your hands and you can usually pull them out with one or two tugs.” 

 

“Very simple, thank you.  And I will not inform your friends of what you have shown me.”

 

“Thank you, although I don’t know if they know this move.  It is something we developed in my garrison.”  

 

“You did not train with the rest?”

 

“No.  I was raised in a forest north of where the company lived.  My garrison was the first line of defense for the rest of Ered Luin, what you call the Blue Mountains.”

 

“You have travelled far to get here.”

 

“Aye, through the Shire, Rivendell, the Misty Mountains.”

 

“Rivendell?  Did you stay there?”

 

“Aye, for several days.  It is quite a wonderful place.  Have you been there?”

 

“No. I would like to but I have never traveled outside our lands.  Perhaps one day I will.”

 

Tauriel nodded to Amayla and then halted before the doors of Thranduil’s throne room.  She spoke something in Elvish to the guard stationed there who went into the room.  “I think it best to bind your hands again.  And this time, please do not escape them.” 

 

Amayla smiled at Tauriel.  “I will not, and I’ll even put my hands together so you can bind them properly.”

 

 

Thranduil was seated at a table that Amayla could only suspect was the replacement for the one she had broken when she kicked it over during her last visit.  A bottle of wine of sitting on it while the king held a full goblet in his long fingers.  He did not even bother to turn his head, looking at her only out of the corner of his clear, blue eyes. 

 

“I am told that you wish to apologize.  You may proceed,” the king said coolly as he drank from his goblet. 

 

Amayla bowed her head, but raised her eyes to elven king, “Your majesty, my behavior was reprehensible and I offer my sincerest apology.  I wish that I could take back my words and deeds. I am most sorry.”

 

“An apology from a dwarf.  Interesting.  I am not certain that I have ever received one before.  Does your great leader know you are doing this?” 

 

Amayla looked down at her feet.  “No.  I came directly from the healing halls.  I’m certain that he would prefer that I not say anything to you at all, as I was instructed before I came the first time.”

 

“And yet, you disobeyed your king and chose to provoke me.”

 

“Ummm, well, I was not myself.   I was . . . . out of balance, and not in control of my feelings.  Again, I am most sorry.”

 

“It would seem that dwarves suffer from lack of control.  I remember Thror having the same problem.”

 

“Well, I can assure you that Thror did not suffer the same issues as I did.”  Amayla smiled wanly.

 

“And Thror did not apologize for his actions.” 

 

“The white gems of Lasgalen,” whispered Amayla.

 

At those words, Thranduil rose abruptly and strode down to tower above Amayla, “What do you know them?”

 

“My father told me the story.  You gave Thror the white gems of Lasgalen to create a necklace to honor your wife.  But he refused to return it to you.  Something about asking for more payment.”

 

Amayla saw the great elf’s features change.  He had been so smug and in perfect control, but at the mention of the necklace, his face clouded over.  His smirk turned into a hard, straight line and a vein in the side of his temple began to throb.  She was worried that he might snap his wine goblet in half.  “And who is your father that he knows the story?” he asked through clenched teeth. 

 

“Ardru, general to Thror,” she whispered again, afraid to make eye contact.

 

“Ardru?” Thranduil looked Amayla up and down very slowly.  “I do not recall him having a child and you do not favor him in the least.  Do you think you can lie to me?”

 

Being accused of lying about her father struck Amayla to her core.  She straightened her back and looked Thanduil directly in his eyes, “I do not lie, your majesty.  Ardru raised me.  He is my father in all but blood.  I was orphaned when Smaug attacked.  Ardru pulled me from my fallen mother’s arms and took me as his own.  And while I was rude and out of control when I spoke to you last, I DO NOT LIE!”

 

Thranduil stared at Amayla for a moment before turning away, “And what else did Ardru tell you about me?”

 

“He said that he had fought with you and that you were a brilliant strategist.  And he disagreed with the way Thror had treated you.  He said that you and Thror had been allies, friends even, but that the incident with the necklace destroyed that.  It was then that he knew that Thror had completely succumbed to gold sickness.  He understood why you did not attack the dragon, but was upset that you did not provide aid to the refugees.”

 

“Ah yes,” Thanduil regained his composure, “the dwarven story of how I offered no assistance to the poor, suffering refugees.  It is a lie, of course, told by Thror.”

 

Amayla frowned at Thanduil in disbelief.

 

“Now you think me a liar?  But I also do not lie.  I met Thror in the forest after Smaug attacked.  I offered assistance -  medicine, foods, blankets - but Thror would not have it.  He wanted military assistance.  He wanted us to attack the dragon, to reclaim his gold.  Not the mountain, mind you, but his gold.  I refused.  I had fought dragons in the past, and I was not going to risk the life of any of my people for his gold.   We argued and I finally threw him off my land, without providing aid.  So yes, it is true that I did not assist the refugees, but that was Thror’s fault, not mine.  But since we spoke alone in the forest, Thror was free to tell his own version of the story.”

 

“I don’t know what to say.”

 

“Then say that you won’t go through with this ill-thought out quest.   Ardru was an honorable dwarf, and I would not see his daughter throw away her life.  It is of course your life, your decision.  But if you wake that dragon, how many other deaths will you cause?  If you are like your father, could you live with that?”

 

Amayla looked down in shame.

 

Thranduil bent down and gently lifted her chin, “I give you the same offer that I gave your king.  Promise me the white gems of Lasgalen, and I will aid your journey.  Tell me Oakenshield’s plans.”

 

Amayla trembled, her eye’s filled with tears, “I cannot.”

 

Thranduil dropped her face and turned, “Pity.  Then go back to your cell.  Enjoy your stay.”

 

Tauriel stepped up, took Amayla by the shoulder, and led her back to her cell.  This time they did not talk at all.

Chapter Text

While settling back into her cell, Amayla assured her companions that she was doing much better.   Fili then whispered across the walkway to her. “Amayla, you will never guess what happened while you were gone!”

 

“I’m in no mood to guess Fili, please just tell me.”

 

“Bilbo showed up and he has a plan for our escape!”

 

“What?!  Bilbo?  Where is he?  Where has he been?”

 

“He’s been here in the palace the whole time.”

 

“How is that possible?  How has he not been found out?”

 

“I have no idea.  I guess he really is a good burglar.”

 

“So what’s his plan?”

 

“I have no idea of that either.  But he said it would be tomorrow night.”

 

The next day seemed to drag on for a week before Bilbo finally showed up.  He had the keys to the cells and let everyone out before explaining his plan.  “There is some festival going on, so there are only a few guards about.  If we are very quiet, we should be able to get past them.  Follow me!”   Bilbo led them down a series of stair cases, through some empty rooms, past some drunken guards, before stopping in a room filled with barrels. 

 

“Why are we down here?”  Bofur complained, “we want to get OUT!”

 

“And we will.  Trust me.  Now everyone, into a barrel.”

 

“What?!?!” everyone in the company protested.

 

“Thorin, please!  Trust me.  This will work!”  Bilbo pleaded. 

 

After staring at the hobbit for a moment, Thorin ordered everyone into a barrel. 

 

“Now hold your breath!”  Bilbo shouted as the bottom fell out from under them and they all landed in water underneath. 

 

Within a flash they were all floating down the river.  The plan seemed to be working well until they heard an Elvish horn blowing.  When the river gate closed in front of them, all seemed to be lost.  Things only got even worse when the orcs attacked.  The dwarves were able to fight back as Amayla had two knives that she had kept hidden from the elves and Bilbo had his sword.   As each orc was killed, the dwarves managed to add an additional weapon to their arsenal.  However, Kili was struck by an arrow while releasing the gate that held them all back.  Somewhere in there, elves appeared and started killing the orcs.  Amayla felt hopeful knowing that Tauriel and that annoying blond elf were out there seemingly helping them, but there was no time to relax.  Amayla had never fought from a barrel before, but killing orcs, was killing orcs.  It didn’t matter how; protecting the line of Durin and surviving by whatever means, was all that mattered. 

 

 

Finally, they drifted into calmer water and Thorin called for the company to make for shore.  They all scrambled and stumbled out of their barrels.  Amayla helped Bilbo out of the water and gave him a great big hug not noticing the glare that Dwalin was giving them before he marched off in a huff. 

 

As everyone was getting themselves together and Fili was binding Kili’s leg, there was a commotion and Amayla looked up to see an arrow imbedded in a stick that Dwalin was holding in front of Ori.  Amayla grabbed for her last knife as she saw a tall man with a bow threatening Kili.  “Loose that arrow and you’ll be dead before it strikes him,” she threatened him back, knife at the ready.  Bard glared at Amayla before Balin stepped between them, breaking the stalemate.  Ever the diplomat, Balin arranged passage with the man on his barge.  All the dwarves had to pay for their passage and Amayla ripped out the coins that she had sewn into her underclothes, grateful that Ardru had been so generous to her. 

 

Despite her distrust of the man, Bilbo convinced Amayla to meet the bargeman, “His name is Bard.” 

 

Amayla bowed her head slightly as she gave her name.  “Thank you for giving us passage on your boat.  I am sorry to have threatened you back there, but you were threatening my pr . . . . friend.” 

 

“I assume you would have made good on your threat?” the man questioned while smiling at her.    

 

“Without hesitation.”  Amayla smiled back.  Bard bowed and Amayla went to sit down on the deck. 

 

It was then that she saw the mountain, they all did.  It loomed large, filling their view.  “Erebor,” Gloin whispered.  Of the thirteen dwarves, only Thorin, Balin, Oin, Gloin, and Bifur had any memories of Erebor before Smaug, but all were in awe of being so close.  Some stood at the railing and stared, while Amayla remained sitting.  The mountain was glorious.  Already, snow covered the top but the beauty belied that there was little to no life around it. 

 

Amayla’s eyes drifted down to the dwarves at the railing, focusing on the back of Dwalin.  He had lost his cloak in Mirkwood and was clad only in a shirt and pants.  They were still damp from the river and clung to his body, emphasizing every muscle.  Oh Mahal. . .  Why am I even looking? . . .  His arms seem ready to burst through that shirt . . . If he just flexed a little, I bet the sleeves would just rip apart. . .  And his back . . . so broad, he makes Thorin look small standing next to him. . .  And that ass - so muscular and firm.  I just want to grab it and squeeze. . . .

“Nice view, eh Amayla?”

 

Startled, Amayla looked up guiltily only to see a smiling Bofur smirking at her. 

 

“Yes, the mountain is quite breathtaking,” she stammered.

 

“Uh-huh.  And so is Erebor.”  He winked at her and walked away.

 

The ride was uneventful until Bard ordered everybody back into the barrels.  Dwalin kept complaining that the bargeman was going to betray them and Amayla was ready to defend the man until the fish started pouring on her head.  As much as she hated to eat fish, being covered by them in a barrel was nightmarish.  She opened her mouth to object but felt a fish tail touch her tongue.  She immediately spit the fish out and sealed her lips as tightly as possible to prevent any other incursion.  A small whimper eked out followed by a shushing by Bard.  “We’re approaching the guards.  KEEP QUIET!” 

 

Amayla squeezed her eyes and lips shut tight and tried hard not to breathe.  She heard voices but didn’t bother to try to understand what was going on as she was concentrating so hard on not screaming or vomiting.  When her barrel was finally dumped over, Amayla scrambled as quickly as possible to get out and away from the disgusting fish.  She kept brushing her self over and over again, trying to get all traces of the blasted fish off of her. 

 

Nori had the nerve to actually start laughing at her, “Are you alright there Amayla?”

 

“Shut up Nori!  Are there any fish still on me?” she whined as she tried to look at her back to see for certain. 

 

“No.  But you can keep dancing around like that if you want,” he snickered. 

 

“Just get me away from these damned fish!” she practically screamed. 

 

“This way, quickly, and be quiet,” Bard ordered them all.

 

Amayla looked for Fili, Kili, and Bilbo to make certain they were ahead of her and followed closely behind.  She was the only one of the company who didn’t complain when Bard directed them to swim into the lake and up the toilet, “Anything to get this fish smell off me!”

 

Bard’s house was cramped with all the company.  His children, Sigrid, Bain, and Tilda, passed out blankets and clothes for all to change into while their wet things were hung all around to dry.  The bargeman built a roaring fire and most of the dwarves huddled about it, warming up.  Amayla rested in a chair near the fire, noticing how Thorin stood next to a window staring at the mountain.  Others would talk to him, but his eyes never strayed long from Erebor.  She overheard his talk with young Bain, blaming Girion for not killing Smaug, as if the fall of Erebor was the fault of one man.  For the first time during the entire journey, Amayla started to have doubts in the one who would be her king. 

 

*****

 

A short time later, Dwalin caught her arm as she was headed toward the kitchen to see if she could help.  Amayla froze at his touch as this was the first time she had spoken directly to him since giving him the courting gift. 

 

“Amayla, we have not spoken in a long time.  Are you alright lass?”

 

“As fine as anyone in the company Dwalin,” Amayla replied tersely.

 

“Erebor is so close.  We should be there in time.  Thorin is pleased.”

 

“Aye.  He cannot take his eyes off the mountain.  Does it worry you?”

 

“Nay Lass.  It has been his life’s dream to reclaim the mountain.  I’m not worried about him.”

 

“Well I am worried about what will happen when we get there.  Is there a plan I am not aware of?  I hope there is something more thought out than our attack on the trolls as that didn’t turn out so well.”

 

“The plan is for your hobbit there to steal back the Arkenstone so that we can call on the dwarven armies to attack the worm.”

 

Amayla was slightly taken aback when Dwalin called Bilbo ‘her hobbit’ but said nothing about it.  “That is really not much of a plan.” 

 

“If he does his job well, the dragon will not even know its gone, and we can kill it in its sleep.”

 

“And if it awakens?”

 

“Then we kill it while its awake and Thorin takes back the throne.”

 

“That is what you care most about, isn’t it?  Thorin becoming king?”

 

“Aye, and our people returning to the mountain, making a real home, a place to raise a family.  Do you not think about that also Amayla?”

 

“I am a warrior.  My job is to protect my king and my people.  To that end, why don’t we agree that you will protect Thorin and I will protect Fili and Kili.  Then we will not get in each other’s way.”  Dwalin frowned at Amayla’s answer but nodded in agreement. 

 

Amalya helped Sigrid who had made a stew and was starting to dish it out.  After tasting it, Amayla complimented the young woman, gaining a smile from her shy face.  Turning to Tilda, Amayla smiled and said, “Why don’t you carry the spoons and I’ll carry the bowls out to all my friends out there.” 

 

Tilda looked up her shyly, “Are they really all your friends?  Some of them are kind of scary.”

 

“I promise you that they are very nice.  You have nothing to be afraid of.” 

 

“What about the one with the axe in his head?”

 

“His name is Bifur and he is the nicest dwarf you could ever hope to meet.  And his job is a toy maker!  But he doesn’t speak the common tongue, so if you want to talk to him, I’ll help you.”

 

At that, Tilda’s eyes grew very wide.  “He’s really a toy maker?”  Amayla smiled and nodded. 

 

“What about the bald one? He looks kinda mean.”

 

“Well, you should probably stay away from that one. . . No, no . . . that’s not fair.  He’s fine.  He won’t hurt you, I promise.  He probably won’t even say anything to you.  Now come on.  Let’s pass out this fine stew.”  She smiled at the young child and started carrying out the bowls. 

 

After they had finished their dinner, Bard came into the house with a large bundle that he threw down on the dining table.   Splayed out before them were a hodge-podge of wood and metal fashioned into crude weaponry.  Bard began explaining what each item was as the complaining rose to a fever pitch.  Amayla kept her mouth shut as she tried out a few of the items.  “I agree with Balin.  These will do for now.”  But she noticed the look between Thorin and Dwalin and knew that a raid on the treasury would be coming. 

 

Stealing from the armory did not go well.  Kili fell under weight of his haul, alerting the guards.  It was only then that Amayla realized that Kili’s wound was far worse than she realized.  Before they could even attempt to escape; they were all under arrest.

 

They were paraded before the Master of the Lake and much of the town’s population.  The master slowly inspected the company, looking at each member one by one.  He stopped and stared at Amayla for a few moments making her skin crawl.  He was tall for a man, but oddly misshaped with narrow shoulders, wide hips, and a protruding belly.  His greasy hair was strung across his bald pate and he had a narrow mustache that seamed to be twirled to stick out past his lips.  Amayla couldn’t help sneering at him but quickly cast her eyes down, not wanting any eye contact with him or his sniveling lackey.  She felt Bofur and Nori press in closer to her sides causing the Master to snort and move on. 

 

Unlike her confrontation with Thranduil, Amaylal had no intention of disobeying Thorin by saying anything to the Master.  She was surprised when it was Dwalin who spoke up announcing to the crowd who Thorin really was.  She waited and watched anxiously as Thorin and Bard argued over entering the mountain.  She felt sorry for Bard as the master’s assistant insulted his ancestor and she couldn’t help but agreeing with his fear of the dragon.  Seeing all the women and children and remembering what Thranduil had said to her was increasing her concern about their mission. 

 

The crowd erupted in cheers when the master welcomed Thorin and called for a celebration.  The dwarves were led to a large house, by Lake Town standards.  Servants, directed by master’s nasty assistant, brought in armfuls of clothes. 

 

“Don’t worry about the costs,” he assured in his nasely tone, “you can pay for everything with some of Erebor’s gold when you get it.”  Turning to Amayla, he smiled licentiously and continued, “and for you, mistress dwarf, the master has sent a special dress that he would very much like to see you wear to the celebration tonight.” 

 

His words sent chills up Amayla’s spine.  He held out a bundle for her to take, but Amayla didn’t move. 

 

Thorin admonished her, “Amayla, don’t be rude!”

 

Reluctantly, Amayla stepped over to the man and snatched the package from his hands. 

 

“Amayla . . . I’ll be sure to let the master know your lovely name,” the lackey smiled, showing his nasty teeth. 

 

He made her stomach turn. 

Chapter Text

“I am NOT wearing this!”

 

“Amayla, just come out.  It can’t be that bad and uncle is getting angry.  We’re late as it is!” Fili yelled throught the door. 

“It can TOO be that bad,” Amayla yelled back.

 

“Just let me see it,” he sighed.

 

“No! It’s awful.  Just tell Thorin that I’ll stay behind.”

 

She was relieved when the prince stomped off, but tensed when she heard heavier steps coming her way. 

 

“Amayla, you are coming with us and we’re leaving now.  THAT IS AN ORDER!”

 

Amayla opened the door and tentatively stepped out.

 

“Thorin, I can’t go out in this.”  Tears started to fill her eyes.

 

“It’s fine.  Now come along!”  He grabbed Amayla’s upper arm and practically shoved her into the main room where the rest of the company was waiting. 

 

Everyone in the room gasped when they saw her.  The dress was a harsh yellow trimmed with black lace around the extremely low cut bodice.  It was also too tight and her breasts appeared ready to burst free at any moment.  The looks of horror on the faces of all her friends made her blush to her core.  Amayla crossed her arms in front of her trying to cover herself up. 

 

“Please Thorin . . .” Amaylal started.

 

Thorin cut her off, “The master wants you to wear this dress and we are beholden to him at the moment.  We cannot do anything to risk our leaving tomorrow.  Besides, it is not much different than that elvish dress you wore.”

 

Shocked by his attitude, Amayla ripped her arms from his grasp, “This is nothing like the elven dress!  This makes me look like a . . . . prostitute!” She ran back to her room, slamming the door behind her. 

 

Amayla sat on her bed and let the tears roll down her face unabated.  How could Thorin possible think it was okay for me to go out in public dressed like this?  Didn’t he see the way the master and his assistance were looking at me?  Doesn’t it bother him? 

 

There was a soft knocking on her door.  “Amayla, it’s me, Dori.  I think I can help you with your dress.”

 

Amayla reluctantly opened the door to see Dori standing there holding a lace curtain.  “Unless you are going to throw this monstrosity into the fire, I don’t think you can help.”

 

“Unfortunately, Thorin is adamant that you wear the dres so you don’t insult the master, but I believe that I have a way for you to wear it without being so . . . . exposed.”

 

Amayla just frowned at the silver-haired dwarf. 

 

“Here take this material . . .”

 

“Where did you get this?” she asked.

 

“It’s a curtain, but no matter, it will work fine.  Take the material and put it around your neck like so.  Now take one end and stuff it down the front of your dress like . .  . well you’ll have to do it yourself.  I’ll turn around.”

 

Amayla tried to follow Dori’s directions, “Like this?”

 

He turned and shook his head no. “You need to spread it out a little more evenly.”

 

Amayla tried again.

 

“Okay, that’s not bad.  Now take the other end and cross it over the front and stuff it down the other side of your dress.”

 

Again, Amayla tried her best while Dori turned his back.

 

“Okay, how’s this?”

 

Dor turned and scrunched his face. 

 

“Push it down tighter on that side.”

 

“I’m trying!  IT JUST DOESN’T FIT RIGHT!”  Amayla’s voice started to rise as she got more frustrated.

 

“USE BOTH HANDS AMAYLA!”  Dori’ volume also went up. 

 

“I’M TRYING! I JUST DON’T KNOW WHERE TO PUT THIS PART!”

 

“JUST SHOVE IT IN!”

 

“BUT IT KEEPS SLIPPING OUT!”

 

“THEN PUT IT IN FURTHER!”

 

“YOU’LL HAVE TO DO IT FOR ME!”

 

“FINE! TURN AROUND, IT WILL BE BETTER IF I TRY FROM BEHIND!”

 

“OWWW!”

 

“SORRY, BUT IT WON’T HURT AGAIN!”

 

Amaya muttered various curses as Dori huffed and puffed trying to get the lace kerchief to lay correctly.  He was forced to loosen her laces in the back and then retie them.  Amayla had to hold on to a bed post as Dori yanked the dress closed, causing the bed to bang against the wall.  Finally, he turned Amayla around so that she could see herself in a mirror. 

 

“OHHHHHHHHHHHH, that is nice!” she gushed.

 

“See, I knew it would make you feel better!”

 

Dori held the door open for Amayla and as she walked out, she smiled and said, “Thank you Dori.  You’re really good at this!”

 

“It was my pleasure,” he returned.

 

Amayla walked out far more proudly this time as the lace kercheif that Dori had fashioned covered her chest almost to her collar bones.  They both stopped short when they noticed the expressions on the company.  They all sat frozen with their eyes bulging out and their mouths hanging open.  Dwalin, however, was beet red with a broken piece of firewood in his hand.  Amayla and Dori shared a confused look with each other before shrugging their shoulders. 

 

“Uh Thorin, shouldn’t we be going?  You said that you didn’t want to be late.”   Amayla gently reminded him. 

 

As they entered the dining hall, Amayla found it strange that Nori and Ori wouldn’t leave her side.  When the master’s assistance, who’s name she still didn’t know nor did she care to know, tried to lead her to the master, the two brothers moved in front of her, preventing the assistant from laying a finger on her.  They guided her over to a table laden with food and filled a plate for her.  When she offered to get some ale, neither allowed her to move. 

 

“While I appreciate the concern lads, what are you two doing?!” she finally asked out of frustration.

 

“No worries Amayla, we’ll not let any future sister of ours come to any harm in such a place!” Ori declared proudly, nodding at his red-haired brother.

 

Amayla spit out the bit of food that was in her mouth, “SISTER?!”

 

“Aye.  We know Dori doesn’t have a courting bead to give you right now, but as soon as we get to Erebor, he’ll make one for you.”  Nori added matter-of-factly.

 

“Courting Bead?  Dori?” Amayla stammered.

 

“Aye.  You two surprised us, but we’re both very pleased to have you join our family.” Nori stated.

 

“I’ve always wanted a sister.”  Ori added.

 

All color drained from Amayla’s face.  “WHAT ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT?”

 

The brothers exchanged frowns.  “You and Dori.” Nori shrugged.  “It’s no secret Amayla.  We all heard you two.  I don’t think you’re the type of dam to have relations with someone other than your one, and I know Dori isn’t.”

 

“Relations??  Dori??  My one?!!”

 

“Aye!” they nodded together.

 

“DORI – GET OVER HERE!” she practically screamed. 

 

When the silver-haired brother hustled over, Amayla couldn’t form complete sentences.  “Your brothers . . . us . . . relations . . . . one . . . courting beads!?”

 

Dori turned to his brothers in confusion, “Whaaaa?”

 

“I think Amayla is upset that we know your secret, but we couldn’t be happier,” Ori explained.

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Brother, you weren’t exactly quiet in that room!” Nori smirked as he nudged his brother in the side with his elbow.

 

When Dori and Amayla still looked confused, Nori continued by imitating Amayla’s voice, “just put it in . . . Ooooohhh Dori that is nice!”

 

Ori added, “and the bed banging against the wall.”

 

Bofur joined in waggling his eyebrows, “My personal favorite was – Turn around.  It will be better from behind.”

 

Amayla covered her face with her hands, “Oh Mahal!”

 

"You idiots!” Dori smacked both his brothers. 

 

Amayla then peeked at Dori and they both started laughing.  Again, full sentences were beyond her. “You guys thought . . . Dori and I?  . . .he . . . was . . . fixing . . . my . . . dress!”

 

Dori continued laughing adding, “Just shove it down!!” causing Amayla to double over laughing. 

 

“It keeps slipping out!”  she countered, arms flailing to try to hold on to something so as not to fall down.

 

Dori grabbed her arm, doubled over in laughter himself.  Both trying very hard to breathe. 

 

“So you’re not going to be our sister?” Ori said sadly.

 

Wiping the tears from her eyes, Amayla straightened to hug the young dwarf.  “I’m sorry Ori, but no.  I’m not going to be your sister.”  Turning to his brother, “No hard feelings Dori?”

 

“None at all Amayla, feels good to laugh.”

 

A thought occurred to Amayla and she sobered up, “Wait! Does everybody else think that Dori and I . . . ?”

 

“Aye lassie.” Bofur confirmed.

 

“Mahal’s Balls!” Amayla swore softly.  “Well, we need to straighten that out.  I’ll tell Thorin, Bilbo and the lads.  Bofur, please go tell your brothers.  Dori, you tell Oin and Gloin.  That just leaves Dwalin and Balin.”

 

“I am NOT telling Dwalin,” Nori immediately stated. 

 

They all turned to Ori.  “Me?  Really?”  They all nodded.  “Fine, I’ll do it, but you owe me Nori!”

 

Amayla walked over to where Thorin looked to be in deep discussion with Bilbo and his nephews.  As soon as she approached, they all stopped talking and looked at their feet. 

 

“Hello lads!  And what are we talking about?” Amayla said evilly. 

 

Nobody would look at her.  They just shared uncomfortable glances between themselves. 

 

“Oh for the love of Mahal, just relax!  I know what you’re thinking.  And just to be clear, Dori and I did not have relations!  He was just fixing my dress.  In case you didn’t notice, its far more appropriate than it was before!”

 

Again, nobody would say anything, but at least they would look at her now.

 

“Dori and I had a good laugh about it, can’t you guys?” she tried again.

 

Finally Fili spoke up, “We didn’t really think that you and Dori . . . you know.”

 

“Spare me Fili.  You ALL did.  And if that isn’t worth laughing about, I don’t know what is!” said Amayla, smiling from ear to ear.

 

“I’m sure Dwalin doesn’t think it was very funny,” Thorin spoke accusingly. 

 

“Well Dwalin can go suck an egg for all I care,” Amayla retorted harshly, the smile gone. 

 

 

 

“Mistress Amayla!  I see you’re wearing the dress I sent you.”

 

A chill ran up Amayla’s spine when she realized who had come up behind her.  She turned, and was happy to see the Master’s face fall when he looked at her chest. 

 

“Yes, thank you, sir.  Your generosity in assisting us in our journey is much appreciated.”  She glanced at Thorin as she said the words. 

 

The master looked very pleased with himself.  “Dinner is about to be served.  Will you join me?”

 

The master offered his arm to Amayla leaving her no choice to take it or offer supreme insult.   She shot a look of desperation toward Thorin, who stepped up and offered his arm on the other side.  “We would be glad to,” the dwarrow responded. 

 

The master sat them at the head table with Thorin to his right and Amayla to his left.  His nasty assistant stood hovering behind them. 

 

“You know, I don’t remember the lace being on that dress when I sent it to you,” the master remarked while handing Amayla some wine.

 

“I’m surprised as the lace is quite lovely.  Whoever made it is very talented.” Amayla took a small sip of the wine.

 

“I do hope you enjoy the wine.  It is from King Thranduil’s personnel cellars.” 

 

Amayla had to chuckle at the Master’s obvious attempt to impress her.  If only he knew that we were just in Thranduil’s wine cellar!  Instead of speaking, Amayla just smiled. 

 

Throughout dinner, the Master kept moving closer to Amayla; brushing up against her arm, putting his arm around the back of her chair.  She kept trying to get away, shifting left or forward, anything to get away from the Master’s nearness.  Even when talking to Thorin on his right, the master would lean into her, touching her with his hand.   As dessert was served, Amayla had finally had enough.  When the master rose to make a toast, Amayla discreetly reached down to her boot and slipped out her one remaining knife.  She rested it on her lap while the creepy man droned on about friendship with Thorin and gold flowing to the town once more.  Even his voice nauseated her.  Embolded by the cheers that were given his as he sat down, the master’s hand went straight under the table to give Amayla’s thigh a squeeze.  He smiled at her and licked his lips. 

 

Amayla smiled back as she gently pressed the point of her knife into his hand.  “Touch me again, and your hand will be gone.” 

 

The master was startled and quickly pulled back his hand.  Now he was frowning.  “You should be showing me some gratitude.  One word from me and you’d all be locked up.” he hissed at her. 

 

“You say the wrong word and it will be your last,” she responded overly sweetly.

 

“The guards will arrest you all!”

 

“But that would be after I slit your throat.”

 

The master stared into Amayla’s steely grey eyes and put both hands on the table.  “You would probably give me some Dwarvish disease anyway,” he muttered.

 

Amayla turned to Kili who was sitting on her left, hoping to get some support from him.  It was then that she fully grasped the change in Kili’s demeanor.  The usually jovial dwarf was sullen and frowning.  He only muttered that he was fine when she asked if he was alright.  When she noticed him barely picking at his food with shaky hands, Amayla knew that something was seriously wrong and that she needed to get him out of there.  As the dishes were being cleared and some musicians began to set up, she told Kili that it would be a perfect time for them to leave.  However, Kili’s leg gave out from him as he stood and he landed back hard on his chair. 

 

The master’s lackey noticed Kili fall and scoffed at him, “Can’t hold your liquor dwarf?”

 

“He’s kind of a lightweight,” Amayla smiled at the flunky even though it turned her stomach. 

 

“I’ll get some help and we’ll leave,” she whispered to Kili as the assistant walked away.

 

Kili reached up and grabbed her arm.  “Don’t let Thorin know, please!”  

 

Amayla immediately looked for Fili who seemed to be trapped in a discussion with the master, Bilbo, and his Thorin, so she couldn’t go to him.  She looked around for someone from the company who was not surrounded by men, and could find only one dwarf who filled the bill, Dwalin.  He was leaning in a corner next to a keg of ale, chugging down a mug, with a large amount spilling down his beard. She approached him cautiously.  He eyed her with distaste. 

 

“Whaddya want?” he said wiping the arm across his mouth.

 

“I need some help getting Kili out of here.”

 

“Why don’t you go ask your one?” he replied sarcastically.

 

Amayla wanted to scream at him, “I am asking my one, you jerk!” but held herself back.  Noticing him refilling his mug, she frowned and asked, “How many of those have you had?”

 

“Not enough to get the image of you and Dori out of my head!”

 

“Me and Dori?  Didn’t Ori tell you?  HE WAS ONLY HELPING WITH MY DRESS! AND WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS ANYWAY!?”

 

Dwalin grabbed Amayla’s upper arm and stared at her as if he was going to say something. 

 

“If you’re not going to help me, then let me go!” she fumed through clenched teeth as she jerked her arm away from his. 

 

She was able to make eye contact with Fili and signaled at him to go to Kili.  Seeing his brother’s ashen face, Fili was by his side in an instant. 

 

“Let’s get him out of here!” the blond said to Amayla. 

 

“I’m fine.  I can make it myself!”

 

“Kili, don’t be stupid!  Just lean on Fili and we’ll get you out!” Amayla scolded. 

 

Fili helped his brother up while Amayla went over and whispered into Bofur’s ear.  The hatted dwarf jumped up on a table and started singing one of his more outrageous songs, to the delight of all in the room.  As the crowd watched Bofur, Amayla and Fili managed to wrangle Kili out of the dining hall without much notice.  In a moment, they were out on a raised sidewalk, heading to their house. 

 

The two struggled to get Kili into a bed room where Fili put his brother to sleep.  Amayla built up a roaring fire and sat down to wait for Fili’s return. 

 

“How is he?” she asked when the blond prince came back.

 

“I’m worried.  The wound was not that bad.  It shouldn’t be bothering him this much.  I would think it was infected, but it is not red or warm.  It’s actually cold to the touch.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

 

“We’ll have Oin look at it in the morning.  Hopefully, it will be better by then.”

 

“Just one more thing to worry about,” he sighed.

 

“What else are you worried about Fili?”

 

“Oh not much, just finding the hidden door in time, facing a dragon, gold sickness, and now Kili’s leg.”

 

“Gold sickness, it worries you?”

 

“Aye.  I’ve seen how Thorin looks at the mountain and after the stories Amad have told about Thror, it worries me.”

 

“I’m glad to see you thinking Fili.  It’s what a king should do.”  She smiled at the blond. 

 

They sat in silence for a few more minutes.

 

“I’ve also been thinking about something else, Amayla.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“You and Dwalin.  You two don’t seem to talk much anymore.” 

 

“There is no ‘me and Dwalin’ and its nothing you need to worry about.  Just know that he will protect Thorin’s back and I will protect yours and your brother’s.”

 

“But Amayla . . .”

 

“But nothing.  I’m tired.  I’m going to bed.  You should too.  We’re leaving early tomorrow.  I hope the rest of the company comes home soon.” 

Chapter Text

Amayla woke with the sun feeling well rested. She packed quickly and went down to see that servants had set out various breads and jams for their breakfast. Within a matter of minutes, the entire company was ready to go. One look at Kili told Amayla that the young price was not any better but she said nothing.

They were boarding boats when Thorin blocked Kili, telling him to stay behind and rest. The company was exchanged glances amount each other, unsure what to say. When Fili stood up to his uncle and declared that he was staying behind because he “belonged with his brother.” Amayla was stunned and proud at the same time. She was shocked that any in the company would disobey Thorin, but proud that Fili was so devoted to his brother to do it. She was also glad when Oin stepped out of the boat to take are of Kili and she followed closely behind the healer. When Thorin questioned her, she replied firmly, “My duty is to the line of Durin.” Thorin grabbed her arms as if to stop her but instead looked deeply into her eyes and asked quietly, “You will protect them?” To which Amayla solemnly replied, “I will.”

The disappointment at not going to Erebor seemed to drain whatever will Kili was using to stay upright. He slumped down and it was all Fili and Amayla could do to drag him back to the mater’s house to beg for help. The master, however, would have nothing to do with them, turning and running in case Kili was contagious. His ever-present minion slammed the door in their faces. The only other place they knew in Laketown was Bard who was also none-to-pleased to see them.

“Please, Kili is sick. We have no place else to go. Please help us!” Amayla begged.

“No! I’ve had my fill of dwarves,” the bargeman started angrily.

Sigrid stepped dup and put her hand on her father’s arms, saying quietly, “Da, we must.” The young lady looked Amayla, “In here. Lay him on the couch.” With relief filling her voice, Amayla thanked both Sigrid and Bard.

They laid Kili out on the couch and Oin immediately began looking over the young swarf. Sigrid began ordering Tilda to bring clean towels and Bain to bring in water. Turning to Oin, she said, “I have some knowledge of healing. How can I help?”

Oin and Sigrid began working on Kili’s wound. Amayla gasped when all the bandages were removed. She had seen plenty of wounds in her days and knew the signs of infectdion; but rather than the expected raised red welts, Kili’s wound was black with grey pus oozing from it, fingers of black spreading up and down his leg.

“What is it?” Sigrid whispered.

Oi shook his head, “Some sort of orcish poison I would say. We need a tourniquet. We can’t let it spread to his heart.”

“Won’t that risk his leg?”

“Aye, but better a leg than his life.”

Sigrid and Oin fashioned the tourniquet, loosening it occasionally in hopes of not needing to amputate.

Fili never left his brother’s side, mostly wiping down his face with cool water.

Kili slipped in and out of consciousness, moaning in pain.

Meanwhile, Amayla alternated sitting in a corner watching Kili, pacing across the small house and staring out the window towards Erebor.

At some point, Tilda tugged on Amayla’s sleeve, “My mother used to sing to me when I was sick. Do you think Master Kili would like it if I sang him a song?”

“I think he would like it very much.”

Tilda padded next to Kili’s head and started singin a gentle lullaby.

Sleep my darling sleep
There’s no need to weep
Here in my arms
You’ll come to no harm
So sleep, my darling sleep.

Sleep my darling sleep
May your dreams be sweet and deep
The moon up above
Shines down on our love
So sleep my darling sleep.

Everyone in the room stood mesmerized until she finished. Even Kili seemed to quiet for awhile.

Amayla walked over to the young girl and gave her a gun around her shoulder and whispered, “That was beautiful Tilda, Thank you.”

As Kili rested, Amayla helped Sigrid heat up and serve some leftover stew. Suddenly, Kili let out a piercing scream.

Oin immediately ran to him, “He’s burning up! We’re losing him. I need some herbs!”

Sigrid immediately answered, “I have fever few and yellow root. Wil those do?”

“Nay lassie, not on a dwarf. I need Kings Foil. Have you any of that?”

“Kings Foil? But that’s just a weed. We don’t have any. Its used to feed the pigs.”

“It’s got to be Kings Foil. It’s his only hope.”

Hearing the desperate conversation, Amayla stepped up, “Sigrid, who would have some? Where can I get it?”

“Cyrus Goodwin is raising pigs. He probably has some.”

“How do I get there?”

Little Tilda stood up proudly, “I can take her.”

“Tilda no!” Bard immediately responded.

“But da, I know the way and Amayla will never find it by herself.”

Cupping his youngest’s chin, Bard smiled, “You are right my brave one, but I’m not sunding you out in the dark. Bain can take her.”

Tilda opened her mouth to protest, but was stopped by the hard look in her father’s eyes.

“Thank you for offereing Tilda, but you must mind your father.” Amayla gently admonished the young girl.

Bain and Amayila immediately headed out, Bain leading the way across small bridges and through dark neighborhoods. Tilda was right, I would never have found this on my own. During their trip, Amayla couldn’t help feeling that they were being watched. Her hand instinctively rested on her dagger. Several times she stopped and looked behind them, half expected to be ambushed, yet nothing happened. They finally reached a house with a large pigsty holding three large hogs and some smaller piglets. One enormous boar was lazily munching on some greens with small white flowers. “That’s it!” yelled Amayla as she ripped the food right out of his mouth.

The two hurried back as quickly as possible and gave the greens to Oin. As Kili cried out in pain, a lower rumble came from the mountain. They all exchanged nervous glances knowing full well what that sound meant. “Da, is it the dragon? Is he coming to kill us?” Tilda asked.

“Not if I kill him first,” Bard replied while pulling a large black, iron arrow down from the kitchen. Pots that had been hanging from it fell all around. “Watch after my girls,” Bard demanded of the dwarves as he and Bain left the house.

 

Not too many minutes later, Bain returned but as he tried to shut the door behind him, a grotesque orc pushed his way in behind him. In a flash, at least six of the creatures were inside, attacking. Amayla had one dagger in her boot that she could access and she immediately began fighting back. However, neither Fili nor Oin had a weapon and Kili was laid out on the couch. Oin threw the bowl of water he had at one orc, while Fili threw himself at an orc attacking Sigrid. Bain threw Tilda under the kitchen table while Amayla killed the orc attacking them. Things were going downhill fast as additional orcs fell through the ceiling. But amazingly, out of nowhere, Tauriel and the blond elf that Amayla didn’t like suddenly showed up and began slaughtering the orcs. Maybe he’s not so bad after all, Amayla thought briefly. A moment later, it was all over.

“You killed them all!” Bain gasped in amazement.

The blond ordered Tauriel to leave immediately, but she paused as Kili cried out in pain when Fili tried to get him back onto the couch. She noticed the greenery on the floor and picked it up. “Athelas,” she murmured, looking at Kili.

“Tauriel?” Amayla asked.

The elf looked at Amayla, saying simply, “I’m going to save him.”

Everyone followed Tauriel’s direction as the red-head steeped the weeds in warm water and pressed them in Kili’s wounds. The young dwarf writhed in pain, as everyone else tried to hold him down. Amayla didn’t understand what the elf was doing but could only pray that it she was helping Kili. She watched as Fili never took his eyes off the red-head and looked ready to pounce on her if she did anything that he perceived as hurtful to his brother. As Tauriel chanted, Kili quieted until finally his eyes opened, clear of fever, and his breathing slowed to normal.

Amayla waited until Oin checked Kili over and nodded to her that it was safe to leave him, although she couldn’t help but notice how Kili reached for Tauriel’s hand. She and Fili joined the girls and Bain in cleaning up the house by disposing of the all the dead orcs in the room and wiping up most of the black blood.

As they were putting all the furniture back where it belonged, Amayla finally was able to ask Tauriel something that had been bothering her, “Who is that blond elf that you were with?”

Tauriel smiled down at Amayla, “That is m’lord Legolas, Prince of the Greenwood.”

“Prince? You mean he’s Thranduil’s son?”

“Aye. Did you not see the resemblance?”

“I really didn’t notice, but now that you mention it, they are alike in many ways. Both Blond, both arrogant . . “

Amayla stopped talking when they heard the tolling of the town bell.

Both females immediately walked out the front door to see what was happening. The moon lit up the night, but a dark shadow wooshed over them. They looked at each other and returned inside, not needing to say a word.

“We must leave immediately,” Tauriel stated gathering her weapons. “There is a boat we can use?” she asked Bain.

“Aye, below. But we can’t leave without our da.”

“Stay, and you and your sisters will die. Is that what your father would want?” Tauriel snapped back, allowing for no further discussion.

Amayla helped Fili get Kili on his feet and then hurried Sigrid and Tilda down to the boat under the house. The town bell continued to toll and from everywhere, people were screaming. The eight of them piled into the small boat and Amayla and Fili started paddling their way out. They saw the outline of the dragon as it passed overhead and heard the roaring as the beast unleashed the firestorm on the helpless town. Screams pierced the night as did the sounds of buildings collapsing. Bain continually searched for his father while Sigrid comforted a weeping Tilda.

As they navigated the waters in Laketown, trying to avoid crashing into others also fleeing to the far side of the lake, Bain spotted his father shooting arrow after arrow from the the bell tower. Although Bard struck the dragon time and time again, none of his arrows could pierce the beast’s scales. Bain unexpectedly jumped from the boat and headed back into the burning town. There was nothing the adults could do or say to comfort his sisters as they had no choice but to continue to try and escape the conflagration.

Their boat had just passed the main gate of the town when a strange roar bellowed in the night. They all looked back to see the dragon struggling to fly up into the night, until it wings simply stopped, and the creature smashed lifelessly into the burning town below. Large waves came crashing into the boats and they all desparately held on to anything as the boat rocked, threatening to overturn. As the lake calmed, the group continued to make its way toward the water’s edge, joining the haphazard armada of vessels fleeing the inferno. There was some relief that the danger from the dragon was gone, but the massive destruction and loss of life left in its wake, brought no joy to anyone. Tilda continued to weep for her father and brother while Sigrid tried to comfort her.

Amayla and Fili paddled the boat to a spot on the shore where other refugees had managed to start some fires. They beached their boat, disembarked, and headed toward the flames. Amayla insisted that the girls sit with Kili while she, Tauriel, Fili and Oin helped pull people out of the water. Oin began tending to those who were injured, but there was no medicine to calm the many burns and broken bones. Unfortunately, Oin also had to set up an area where the dead could be laid out, an area that filled up very quickly.

When the boats stopped arriving, the group reassembled around one of the fires. The dwarves agreed to leave at first light as they were beyond desperate to head to the mountain to see how the company had fared. They didn’t dare voice their concerns, but the anxiety level was obvious. They rested, but none slept.

As soon as the sky started to lighten with the first shade of pink peaking over the horizon, the girls were up looking and calling for their father. Amayla didn’t know if she should help them or discourage them as she had little hope that Bard or Bain had survived, so she was beyond overjoyed when she saw the two girls rush toward the embrace of the tall man. When Bain joined in the group hug, Amayla felt the tears pouring out of her eyes. Bard’s gaze met hers and she raised her hand in a gesture of greeting, smiling wanly.

Fili called Amayla over to help with launching their boat. Before she did, she turned to Tauriel. All Amayla could say was ‘Thank You’ and offered the elvish parting gesture that she had learned in Riverdell. Tauriel smiled, bowed her head, and returned the gesture.

Amayla began to help Fili and Oin with the boat when she noticed that Kili wasn’t with them. She turned to see the young prince talking earnestly to the taller elf. Amayla noticed the soft expression that Tauriel had on her face when talking to Kili and could only wonder what the discussion entailed. Suddenly, Tauriel straightened up and Amayla spotted Thranduil’s son standing behind her. Fili, who was watching the encounter as closely as Amayla, called his brother over sharply. Kili turned to them but just as quickly turned back and appeared to press something into Tauriel’s hand. Amayla helped Oin into the boat as Kili finally joined them. He didn’t say anything to any of them, but took the oar from his brother and began to paddle fiercely.

It took several hours to make it across the lake but none of them spoke during the trip. Seeing the smoldering remnants of Lake Town and imagining that their family and friends might have suffered a similar fate inside the mountain left no room for idle conversation. They pressed on after reaching the shore, stopping very briefly to eat the meager rations in their packs. In the late afternoon, they found the remnants of the road to the front gate and picked up their pace despite their exhaustion.

Chapter Text

They heard Bilbo before they saw him. Looking carefully, Fili spotted the hobbit jumping up and down and waving his arms from the ramparts above the destroyed front gate.  The four ran the rest of the way crossing over the stone bridge, amazed and frightened by the damage around them.  Bilbo was soon there to great them and Amayla was beyond joyful as she lifted him up in a deep embrace.  Soon the other members of the company joined them, with hugs and head-butts all around.  Amayla hesitated a brief second before embracing Dwalin.  Her tears were already fully flowing so any additional tears at knowing her one was alive were completely masked. 

 

“Where’s uncle?” Kili asked.

 

Amayla looked around also noticing that Thorin was not there.  “Is he . . . alive?” Amayla could barely get the words out. 

 

The company quieted, exchanging frowns.  “Aye, he lives,” Balin murmured. 

 

Bilbo spoke up, “But he’s not himself.  He spends all his time down there.  He barely eats, doesn’t sleep. I’ve tried talking to him, but he won’t listen.  I think its this place. I think a sickness lies on it.”

 

“A sickness?” Distraught, Fili looked at Kili, “Take us to him – now!”

 

Balin led the way as Fili, Kili, Amayla, Bilbo and Dwalin followed.  They saw him from a stairwell, garbed in heavy robes with a crown on his head.  He was walking in piles of gold, muttering unintelligently.  The amount of gold was beyond Amayla’s imagination; piles upon piles of gold coins with the odd colorful gem strewn about.  She couldn’t understand how Thorin could possibly walk through the ever-shifting treasure. 

 

When he finally spotted them, it seemed to take a moment before recognition spread to his face.  He threw his arms out stating, “Behold the great treasure hoard of Thror!”  He then bent down to grab a large ruby and threw it at Fili. “Welcome, my sisters-sons, to the Kingdom of Erebor!”

 

The group went down to Thorin who deeply embraced his nephews.  He gave Amayla a quick embrace before turning to Dwalin.  “Now there are more to help search for it.  Where are the others?  Why have they stopped looking?”

 

“Thorin, they all went to greet them.  Gloin is with his brother.”

 

“Ah yes, Oin has returned too.  Good, good.” Thorin muttered.  “But the search needs to resume, we MUST find the Arkenstone!  Get everybody back looking!”  He turned his back on the others and started wading his way back through the coins. 

 

“Uncle, do you not want to hear about what happened in Lake Town?” Fili asked in disbelief. 

 

“It can wait until after we find the Arkenstone.”

 

Dwalin stared at Thorin’s back as he left.  Amayla had never seen Dwalin look so pained before, and it nearly broke her heart.  Balin guided them all out, “You’ll be wanting something to eat before you join in the search.  Bombur found some old stores and has managed to keep us fed.” His forlorn face in opposition to his chipper voice. 

 

Amayla exchanged looks with Bilbo, who squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head.  Amayla looked at him, eyes pleading for an explanation.  Bilbo took her hand and pulled her down to him, whispering, “We need to talk.”  Unbeknownst to the two of them, Dwalin had overseen the entire exchange. 

 

The company ate together and Amayla, Fili, Kili and Oin filled them all in on what had happened in Lake Town.  Many had tears in their eyes as they heard about the carnage.  Dwalin then got everybody up and headed them down to the treasure to look for the Arkenstone.  They searched for several hours until they were all too exhausted to move any more gold. 

 

Balin led the newcomers to rooms that they had been using.  They were part of the royal wing and had been left undamaged by Smaug.  Balin pointed out Thorin’s rooms which had once been belonged to Thror, although Thorin had remained behind with the treasure.  Fili and Kili were given Frerin’s old rooms next door to where Bilbo was in Thorin’s old rooms.  Amayla was given rooms that had belonged to a female noble.  The rest of the company was in nearby rooms. 

 

“Where would my father have lived?” she asked Balin. 

 

“He had rooms next to the armory. I’m not certain if they were damaged or not, I’ll take you tomorrow,” the old dwarf said smiling. 

 

Although her room was incredibly dusty, it was the most luxurious place she had ever been in.  There were beautiful tapestries on the walls, and all the furniture was upholstered in velvet.  But when Amayla walked into the bedroom she got very sad.  The bed was beautiful, hung with drapery, all faded to a soft pinkish mauve.  What upset Amayla was the dress laying across the foot of the bed, and the hair brush and comb laying next to small bottles of what Amayla assumed had been perfume.  Several pairs of shoes and slippers were strewn about and a book was sitting open on the bedside table.  All Amayla could think about was the dwarrowdam whose room this had been.  Who was she? Did she get out?  Had she survived Smaug’s attack?  Did she live in Ered Luin?  Or maybe the Iron Mountains? Maybe I’ve met her. Would she mind Amayla sleeping in her bed?  Was she still alive? It was too much for Amayla to ponder and gave her a headache.  She couldn’t do it.  She couldn’t sleep alone in somebody else’s room.  She picked up her few things and left for Bilbo’s room. 

 

When Bilbo opened the door to her, she was surprised to see Fili and Kili looking around the room. 

 

“Amayla!  Did you want to see what Thorin was like when he was younger too?” asked Fili. 

 

“No.  I just didn’t like being in those rooms by myself.  I wanted some company.”

 

“Awwwwe, were you lonely?” teased Kili.

 

“Actually yes,” Amayla answered honestly, “I’ve never had so much space to myself before.  I can’t sleep when it’s so quiet.  It doesn’t feel right.  I guess I’ve gotten too used to your snoring!”

 

“I do NOT snore.” Kili huffed.

 

“Riiiiiight!  Keep telling yourself that Kee!” Fili scoffed back at his brother. 

 

“Anyway, Bilbo, would you mind if I slept here tonight?  The couch would be fine.” Amayla asked. 

 

“Of course you can Amayla.  And I insist that you take the bed.  I’ll take the couch.” The hobbit replied.

 

“Well if Amayla is staying, can we stay too?” asked Kili. 

 

“Why? Are YOU lonely Kili?” Amayla shot at the dark-haired prince.

 

“Well, in here, we know who’s room this was and that he’s still alive.  It’s not so weird.  In Uncle Frerin’s room, his stuff is all laying around, just as he left it.  It’s almost like he’s going to walk in at any minute and yell at us for touching his things, even though we know that will never happen.”

 

“Besides,” added Fili, “somebody has to chaperone you two.”

 

“I really don’t think we need chaperones, but Kili’s snoring might be helpful in putting me to sleep.”

 

“I DON’T SNORE!”

 

“YES YOU DO!” the three yelled back at Kili. 

 

Kili made a face at them but still had to ask, “So it’s okay that we can sleep here too?”

 

“Yes Kili,” soothed Bilbo, “Go get some pillows and blankets and bring them over.”

 

“Great!  It’ll be just like when we slept at Bag End!”

 

“Don’t remind me!” groaned Bilbo. 

 

*****

 

The next morning they were woken up by Dwalin pounding on the door.

 

When Bilbo opened the door, the bald dwarf barged in asking, “Is Amayla here? She’s not in her room.  Have you seen her?”

 

Amayla came walking out of the bedroom, braiding her hair.  “I’m right here.  I decided to stay here last night.”

 

Dwalin looked at Amayla and then Bilbo, frowning.  His face turned red and his hands were clenched into tight fists.  Before he could say anything, Fili and Kili came out of the kitchen carrying mugs of tea.  “Mister Dwalin!” cried Kili. “Good morning!  Can I get you some tea?  Sorry, we don’t seem to have any real food.  Guess we’ll have to go to the kitchens for that.” 

 

“You two spent the night here too?” he spat out. 

 

“Aye.  Slept pretty well, even with Kili snoring!” teased Fili. 

 

Dwalin unclenched his fists and stammered, “Well, uh, yeah well, Thorin wants every one down looking for the Arkenstone as soon as possible.  Hurry up.”  With that, he turned and marched out the room, slamming the door behind him. 

 

“See, I told you it was a good idea that we chaperoned,” smirked Fili.  Amayla just made a face back at him. 

 

The company spend several hours sorting through the treasure.  Amayla and several of the others took to wrapping a cloth around their face to help keep out the stench of the hoard.  Finally, Amayla was disgusted and had to get away.  She asked Balin to take her to her father’s quarters and Bilbo asked to tag along. 

 

The three went down pathways and through tunnels, climbing over or around fallen and burned out timbers.   Several times they passed piles of what they assumed to be dried piles of dragon dung.  Sadly, they also passed several corpses along the way. 

 

“We need to deal with those,” Amayla said sadly.  “They deserve a proper burial.” 

 

“Aye lassie, I agree.  But until Thorin finds the Arkenstone, he will not allow us to do anything but search.  And here we are.  This is the armory.  The doors are destroyed, but the rest seems to be okay.   Your father’s quarters should be right next door.” 

 

The door to her father’s rooms were smashed and scorched.  Climbing over the rubble, Amayla could see that the room had obviously caught on fire.  Tears filled her eyes as she saw the charred remains of furniture, and items she couldn’t identify. 

 

“I’m sorry Amayla,” Bilbo whispered. 

 

“I was hoping to find SOMETHING,” she whispered back. 

 

“Lassie, over the fireplace, look!” Balin nearly shouted. 

 

Amayla looked up to see what had to be a sword.  The leather scabbard was black, but the sword inside could be unharmed.  She sent hopeful glances to both Balin and Bilbo and gingeringly lifted the sword down.  As she pulled out the weapon, the scabbard essentially fell apart, but what was left in her hand was a magnificent long sword.  “Ardru’s sword!  He told me so much about this!  It was his favorite weapon.”  She gently wiped away some of the soot that was on it and then stepped back and tried a few moves with it.  “Its so light!” she exclaimed. 

 

“May I?” asked Balin.

 

Amayla handed him the weapon and he looked it over closely.  “Its light because its made from mithril,” he smiled giving it back. 

 

“Mithril?  He never told me that.  I’ve never held a mithril sword before.  Never thought I would.  It’s amazing!”  Amayla’s smile lit up the room. 

 

“Check over the grip and the pommel carefully Lassie.  If I’m not mistaken, there is a hidden chamber that holds a small mithril whetstone, as only mithril can sharpen mithril,” Balin pointed out. 

 

Amayla and Bilbo both started looking carefully at the sword, but could find nothing. 

 

“I think we should return now.  Thorin will probably be anxious that we’re gone.” Balin suggested.

 

“Anxious is hardly the word for Thorin these days,” Amayla muttered sadly.

 

“Balin,” Bilbo started, “The Arkenstone.  If it is found, do you think that Thorin will . . . be satisfied . . . and return to the way he was . . . you know . . . before Erebor?”

 

“I don’t know laddie.  I’ve seen this before, this gold sickness, this terrible need . . . His grandfather had it.  I . . . WE all were hoping that Thorin would not succumb.  But . . . the Arkenstone.  It secures his right to the throne.”

 

“But Thorin is King. No one would deny that.  I thought he only wanted the Arkenstone to convince the other clans to join in the fight against Smaug.  With the dragon dead.  He doesn’t need their help.” Amayla countered.

 

“Aye Lassie, he is the king of Erebor.  There is none to dispute that. But the Arkenstone gives him the right to rule over all the clans as the one true king of all dwarves.”

 

“Is that really so important to him?” Amayla asked sadly. 

 

“I don’t know lassie.”

 

“And if the Arkenstone is found?” asked Bilbo.

 

“I think it might make things worse, but not finding it is driving him mad also.” Balin sighed heavily.

 

“So is it better that he finds it or not?” Bilbo asked getting more frustrated.

 

Balin only shrugged his shoulders in response. 

 

They rejoined the others in searching for the Arkenstone, but Amayla could see that Bilbo was merely going through the motions, which had her curious.  They both turned as Thorin bellowed out what sounded like a strangled laugh.  Having never heard such a strange sound out of their leader before, they both quickly headed over to see what he had found.  Expecting to see the Arkenstone, Amayla was surprised to see Thorin holding up a necklace dripping with dazzling diamonds.  “The white gems of Lasgalen.  I know an elf who would pay a pretty price for these!” he growled. 

 

“Thorin no!” Amayla yelled without thinking.  All eyes turned to see why Amayla had raised her voice so sharply against the king.  Thorin squinted at Amayla out of the corner of his eyes. 

 

“You can’t make Thranduil pay for the gems again.  You know what happened when Thror tried that.  It destroyed the alliance.  PLEASE just give them to him.  You know it’s the right thing to do.”  Amayla pleaded.  She looked around at the rest of the company hoping to get some support, but no one joined her in talking to Thorin. 

 

“GIVE them to Thranduil?  I’ll GIVE them to him the same way he GAVE us aid when Smaug attacked!”  Thorin snarled at Amayla.

 

“Maybe Thrandruil tried to give aid and . . . “ Amayla tried reasoning with Thorin. 

 

“And what?  My grandfather refused it?  Do you honestly think that KING Thror would have turned down aid to his people?”

 

“Well he was suffering from gold sickness!  So maybe . . . Please Thorin, don’t make that same mistake!” Amayla was desperate.

 

“LEAVE ME!  Return to looking for the Arkenstone! I WILL HAVE IT!”  Thorin threw the necklace down on a table, turned on his heels, and marched out of the room. 

 

Amayla squeezed her eyes tightly as the tears fell down her face.  When she opened them, she saw Dwalin frowning at her.  Every fiber of her being longed to have him hold her, comfort her; but, she knew he didn’t feel the same and couldn’t bear his rejection.  Instead, she asked quietly, “Isn’t there anything you can do to help him?”

 

He shook his head, “I’m trying Amayla.” 

 

Amayla nodded gently and turned away. 

 

***

 

Hours later, after they had eaten dinner, Amayla found herself out on the ramparts gazing at the setting sun with several members of the company.  She brought out Ardru’s sword and asked Bifur if he could find the hidden chamber, “I’ve been looking and can’t find ANYTHING,” she complained.  Others in the company watched as the toymaker looked over the weapon with his well-trained eye.  It took him less than five minutes when he shouted out in Khuzdul, “Got it!” 

 

Amayla was amazed as she saw a small chamber of the handle sticking out.  Bifur reached into and withdrew a length of what she assumed to be mithril. 

 

“How?” Amayla signed quickly.

 

Bifur put the piece back in and shoved it closed.  With one hand, he pressed on a jewel on the pommel and with the otherhand, pulled on the cross-guard.  Again, the chamber popped out.  Amayla squeeled with joy and gave the dwarf a huge hug.  Bifur just smiled and grunted. 

 

With reverence, Amayla took out the whetstone and proceded to sharpen the sword, although she was surprised that after 150 years, it still had an edge. 

 

 As she was busy with her sword, Ori noticed the line of torches entering the ruins of dale, “What’s that?”

 

“Refugees, from Dale!  They made it!” Kili practically screamed, pounding his brother on the back. 

 

“Thank Mahal, they’re alive!” Amayla responded smiling ear to ear. 

 

“Bard must have led them here!” Fili joined in the celebration.

 

“They’re going to need help:  food, blankets, clothes, medicine, probably anything and everything.  We need to get supplies.” Amayla encouraged everyone to look for anything to help the people of Laketown.

 

“I’ll go tell Thorin,” Dwalin stated. 

 

A short while later, Amayla returned to the ramparts carrying armloads of blankets she had stripped from various beds.  Thorin stood looking at Dale while others were down below piling up stoned in the front gate. 

 

“What’s going on?” she asked confused.

 

“And what do you think you’re doing with those?” Thorin responded looking at the blankets.

 

“They’re for people of Dale, to help them.”

 

“We will give nothing to Dale – NOTHING!” Thorin shouted. 

 

Kili dropped the rocks he was moving, “The people of Laketown have nothing, they have lost everything!”

 

“Do not tell me what they have lost. I know well enough their hardship,” Thorin responded coldly.  “Those who have lived through dragon fire should rejoice.  They have much to be grateful for.”

 

Amayla was struck to the core when she heard Thorin’s words, all respect for Thorin gone.  “IF YOU KNOW THEIR HARDSHIP, THEN YOU SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO HELP THEM!  YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT ELVES NOT HELPING DWARVES, WELL YOU ARE WORSE AS YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER!”

 

“YOU DARE TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT? I AM YOUR KING!”

 

“THEN START ACTING LIKE ONE!”

 

With that, Amayla threw the blankets on the ground and stomped away.

 

Amayla found her way back to the room she had been sharing with Bilbo, Kili, and Fili.  She took her knives out and started throwing hem against a wooden door, enjoying the satisfying ‘thunk’ they made as they imbedded into the wood.

 

“Amayla?  It’s me, Bilbo.”  The hobbit held his arms up trying not to startle the heavily armed dam.  Amayla was shocked that she hadn’t heard him enter the room.  “You really are a talented burgler!”

 

Bilbo twitched his nose in embarrassment, “Light on my feet!  Just like Gandalf said!”

 

“Gandalf,” Amayla sighed, “I wish he was here.  Maybe he could talk some sense into Thorin.”

 

“Or just cure him of this gold sickness,” Bilbo added whistfully. 

 

The two stayed silent as Amayla continued throwing her knives. 

 

After finishing a round with all knives in a tight circle, Amayla turned to Bilbo, “You have it, don’t you?”

 

Bilbo looked up to Amayla and paused, before saying simply, “Yes.”

 

“Good.  Whatever happens, don’t give it to him.”

 

“You think it would make things worse?”

 

“I’m sure of it.”

 

“What should we do?”

 

“I don’t know . . . yet.  But we’ll figure something out.”

 

Chapter Text

Early the next morning Amayla and Bilbo joined the company in the kitchen.  They were all eating bowls of some sort of breakfast mush that Bombur had managed to put together, when Bofur came running in looking for Thorin.

 

“Elves!  In Dale!  Lining the city!”

 

Dwalin and Balin left to find Thorin while everyone else climbed to the raparts to see what was happening in Dale.   They were all stunned to see rows of elves in shining armor standing upon every building and lined in front of what was left of the city walls, several hundred strong.  Amayla felt her heart drop, knowing that the arrival of the elves was going to anger Thorin even more. 

 

“So Thrandruil will help MEN!” Thorin shouted contemptuously. “Continue fortifying the gate.  Balin, Ori stand guard.  If they move toward Erebor, I want to know about it!”

 

The wait was agonizing.  Amayla helped move more rocks to the front gate where Bofur and Nori were meticulously placing them to strengthen what had once been a gaping hole.  When Ori shouted down to them that someone was coming, it was almost a relief to Amayla.  Thorin came running and the entire company climbed up to the ramparts to see Bard approaching, alone, on a horse.  When Bard greeted Thorin with deference and respect, Amayla felt a twinge of hope that all could end well, until Thorin immediately responded accusingly.  Still, he was willing to talk.  She tried to overhear what they were saying, but couldn’t.  When Thorin finally turned away from Bard, she could see it in her king’s eyes.  The gold sickness was still there.  Thorin yelling at Bard to leave or be fired upon, confirmed it. 

 

As they all watched Bard ride off, Bilbo spoke up demanding that Thorin reconsider, warning that the company could not go to war against an army of elves and hundreds of angry fishermen, pointing out that they were in fact outnumbered.  Thorin shocked them all by responding, “Not for much longer.”  When Bilbo was even more confused, Thorin admonished him, “Never underestimate dwarves.”  He then turned to the company, “We have reclaimed Erebor, now we defend it!” and marched off.  Bilbo send pleading glances to all the dwarves, but none would say anything.  Amayla put an arm around him as they all marched down the battlement, whispering, “I have a plan.” 

 

The company followed Thorin to the armory.  While they took their time selecting weapons, Amayla quickly grabbed some armor, a bow and arrows, and was done as she already had her father’s sword.  “I’ll stand guard, your majesty,” she humbly offered.  Thorin send her off with a wave of his hand.  But instead of going directly to the ramparts, the dam made a quick turn to the treasury room.  It didn’t take her long to find the necklace that she was looking for, which she hastily stuffed into a pocket, and immediately took off to begin her watch. 

 

Fili and Kili came up to relieve Amayla a few hours later and she let him know that there was nothing significant to report.  She went back to their shared room, happy to find Bilbo waiting for her there. 

 

“So what’s your plan?” Bilbo immedately asked.

 

“We give Bard the Arkenstone and Thrandruil this.”  She showed Bilbo the White Gems of Lasgalen.  “Thorin values that stone more than anything.  If Bard has it, he can use it to bargain back the aid that Thorin promised.  And if Thrandruil gets this necklace, he will have no quarrel with dwarves and hopefully will just leave.”

 

“Agreed.  But, I will take them.  Not you.”

 

“Bilbo, I can’t let you go by yourself.  Its too dangerous.  What will you do if they see you?”

 

“And what do you think they will do if they see you – a dwarf – in their midst?  Believe me.  They won’t see me.  I promise you.  Remember, light on my feet! Besides, you will need to stand guard while I get away.  I can’t get away from Erebor without whoever is on watch noticing!”    

 

“Good point, but if you go by yourself, you’ll have to stay there.  There’s no way for you to get back without being seen.”

 

“I am NOT staying behind.  I am a member of this company and I will be there through the end.  And I CAN get back without being seen, with this.” 

 

Bilbo pulled a simple gold ring out of his vest pocket and help it up for Amayla to see.  With a twinkle in his eye, he slipped it on his finger and disappeared. 

 

“Bilbo!” shrieked Amayla, looking around.  “Where’d you go?”

 

“Still here!” the hobbit laughed as he reappeared. 

 

“What in Mahal’s name is going on?  How did you do that?”

 

“I found this ring in the goblin tunnels.  Its magic, makes me invisible.” 

 

“So that’s how you escaped the goblins.”

 

“Yes. And by following the strangest creature.  I think the ring belonged to him, but I found it and won it, fair and square.  It’s mine now.”  

 

Bilbo spoke with such conviction about the ring that it almost scared Amayla, but she was still curious. 

 

“What kind of creature? And what do you mean that you won it?”

 

Amayla sat entranced as Bilbo told her the whole story of Gollum in the tunnels. 

 

“So you see, Amayla, I can do this.  Trust me.”

 

Amayla looked deeply into Bilbo’s soft blue/grey eyes and saw his fierce determination.  “Alright Bilbo, I’ll trust you.  Just DON’T get caught!  Remember, I want to see you grow old and round!”

 

****

 

After dinner, when the sky had completely darkened and most of the dwarves had settled down for some sleep, Bilbo and Amayla made their way to the ramparts.  Bofur was on watch.  He eyed the pair suspiciously. 

                                         

“Good evening Bofur.   Its cold out here.   Anything happening?”

 

“Aye, cold alright, and quiet.”

 

“Well, I can’t sleep.  Why don’t I take over the watch while you go get yourself something warm to drink.” Amayla smiled sweetly at the hatted dwarf. 

 

Bofur looked between the two of them for a moment, “Don’t mind if I do!”

 

As soon as Bofur was safely away, Amayla fastened a rope to the ramparts for Bilbo.  “We need to have a sign for when you come back to tell you in I’m alone or not.  You’ll have to use that ring and be invisible on your way back or the elves will see you.  I can help you if I’m alone, but if not . . .  Okay, let me think.  The fires will be lit on the side . . . that’s it!  If you see only two three lights up here, you’ll know it’s safe to come over the top or call for help.  If I’m not alone, I’ll light a third light, on a torch or something.   So if you see three lights up here, that means that somebody is up here with me.  You decide if you want to climb up or wait.  If you are climbing up when you’re invisible, we’ll need to signal that to let me know.”

 

“You mean like hooting twice like a barn owl and once like a screech owl?” Bilbo asked chuckling to himself.

 

Amayla looked at him as if he had gone completely daft, “There are no owls around here Bilbo!”

 

“Well that’s just what Fili told be back at the trolls.  I thought it was some secret dwarf thing . . .” Bilbo stammered.

 

“No, its not.  Now be serious!”

 

“Okay okay,” said the hobbit, raising his hands in his own defense, “How about I just tap on the stone three times.”

 

“Good.  Fine.  Just do it twice to make certain I hear it.  Now go – and BE CAREFUL – PLEASE!”

 

 

The wait for Amayla was excruciating.  Bofur came back and kept her company for a while.  She could tell that he was suspicious that Bilbo was not there but didn’t make any comments.  Finally, Amayla convinced Bofur to go to bed and let her finish his watch. 

 

While she was waiting and watching the lights of Dale, Amayla decided to take advantage of the quiet and once again talk to Mahal.  She had lost her rune stone when Beorn attacked her, so instead she rubbed her cub tooth necklace, the familiarity of the tooth bringing her a small measure of peace.  As was her practice, she began to softly hum an old tune.  She closed her eyes and gently rocked to the song in her head. 

 

“Asleep on duty Amayla?”

 

Startled, Amayla sprung to her feet, drawing her sword, only to see Dwalin smiling down at her.

 

“Mahal Dwalin!  Don’t do that!”  She dropped her sword to her side, gasping for breathes as she tried to calm her racing heart. 

 

“Sorry,” he chuckled.  “Never expected to catch you sleeping!”

 

“I wasn’t sleeping.” Amayla insisted.  At the bald dwarf’s snort of derision, Amayla defended herself.  “I was praying.  I thought we could use a little help from Mahal about now.”

 

“Aye, that we could lassie.”


They stood quietly at the wall for a few minutes.  “What are you doing on duty anyway?  I thought Bofur had the watch,” Dwalin asked while gazing out at Dale. 

 

“I couldn’t sleep.  Took over for him.”

 

Amayla ambled over to the latern that Dwalin had brought with him and set it up on the wall, smiling at him as she went.  “I’m happy to take your watch too if you would rather go back to sleep.”

 

“No.  I can’t sleep either.  What’s keeping you up?”

 

Amayla frowned, looking at Dwalin incredulously, “Do you really need to ask?”

 

Dwalin just shook his head. 

 

“Dwalin, we can’t go through with this.  It’s not right and you know it!”

 

“It is Thorin’s orders.”

 

“And you will not question it?”

 

“He is our king.”

 

“He is SICK!”

 

“I am hoping that he comes out it.”

 

“Hoping? Hoping?  That’s it? And if he doesn’t come out of it?  What then?  Are you going to take up arms against the people of Laketown?  Against people who helped us?  Gave us aid when we had nothing?  Who suffered the wrath of Smaug just as much – if not more, than any dwarf?  Who actually killed Smaug! And who have probably never held a sword in their lives?”

 

“They have sided with the elves.”

 

“Oh, you mean the elves that follow their king, their king who wants only ONE THING, a necklace that is HIS, that Thror was holding hostage!  Or do you mean the elves that saved my life, and Fili, Kili, and Oin’s too?” Amayla shouted at the top of her voice.

 

Dwalin snapped in response, shouting right back at her, “What do you want me to say Amayla?  He’s my king and my best friend!  Don’t you think this is tearing me apart?  What do you suggest I do?”

 

It was only then that Amayla noticed the pain in Dwalin’s eyes.  She desperately wanted to reach up to his face and caress away the strain so evident by the creases that she had never seen before.  But she kept her hand by her side, whispering “I’m sorry Dwalin.”

 

“So am I,” he replied turning abruptly and gazing out into the darkness.  “I have to believe that he will snap out of it or everything we’ve done, all the dreams we’ve shared about reclaiming Erebor, will be for nothing.  You don’t know him like I do.   He is completely honorable.  The things he put up with, the insults he had to ignore, the humiliation he lived down to make certain his people were safe.  And now, when he – WE – have finally succeeded and he can take his rightful place on the throne – now THIS?!  It’s not right, and it’s not fair.  But I will NOT betray him.  I can’t.”

 

It took all of Amaya’s self-control not to wrap her arms around him to offer comfort.  “I understand, and you’re right.  It’s not fair.”

 

“What will you do Amayla? If it comes down to fighting?”  he asked softly. 

 

She paused before answering, “I’ve thought long and hard about it.  I pledged myself to the line of Durin and will not go back on my word.  If we must fight, I will stand next to Fili and Kili and protect them with my life.”

 

Dwalin gave a short chuckle, “Not sure the lads will appreciate that.”

 

She smiled weakly back at him, “I wasn’t planning on asking them.” 

 

They both stood silently for several minutes before Dwalin spoke up, “Where’s Bilbo?”

 

Amayla’s heart fell in her chest.  Her eyes grew wide, and she clamped her lips tight, breathing only through her nose, trying desparately to hide her shock at the question.  Does he know? How could be possibly know? Should I tell him?   “Bilbo?” she managed to squeak out. 

 

“Aye.  Seems to me that he is always at your side these days.  Is there something more going on there that we should know about?”

 

“Not that it’s any of your business, but no.  Bilbo is just my friend, my DEAR friend.  I cherish him, much as I cherish everyone in the company.  I’m proud of him.  He’s not the scared little rabbit I first met in the Shire.  He’s brave and kind and I’ve very proud to count him as a close friend.”

 

As she finished, she heard three sharp raps of stone on stone, followed by three more raps. 

 

“What was that?” asked Dwalin, pearing over the edge of the parapet. 

 

“What was what?” Amayla asked innocently.

 

“You didn’t hear that noise?  Sounded like somebody knocking on rocks.”

 

“Oh, probably just some of the rocks in the repairs shifting. I’ve been hearing noises since I’ve been here.  Nothing that worries me though.  By the way, did Balin tell you that I found Ardru’s sword?  It’s mithril, would you like to see it?”

 

“What? Ardru’s sword?  Yes, I’d very much like to see it.”

 

“Here, come over here by the lantern, you can see it better.” Amayla pulled the sword out and walked away from where Bilbo would be climbing up and nearer to where the lantern was. 

 

Dwalin picked up the sword, looking at it very closely. 

 

“Try it,” Amayla encouraged. 

 

“It’s so light!” the large dwarrow exclaimed as he cut through the air with the sword, making several movements.  Amayla remained worried as she knew Bilbo would likely make noise when he pulled himself over the parapet.  She needed more distraction.

 

“Would you like to really try it out?” she asked, while pulling out her dagger. 

 

“You’ll need something stronger than that lassie.”  He reached over his shoulder and pulled out one of his two battle axes. 

 

“Have you named them yet?” Amayla asked knowing the dwarf’s love of his weapons.

 

“Nay, have to use them in battle to get the true feel for ‘em before I name ‘em.”

 

Amayla smiled broadly as she held the heavy weapon in her hand.  “Never thought you’d let me use of one of these!”

 

“And I never thought I’d be using a mithril sword,” he smiled back, taking his stance. 

 

Amayla struck first, bringing the axe down with all her might.  She was most excited to hear the large clang.  It was thrilling to be sparring against Dwalin once again, but more importantly, she knew the sounds they were making would drown out any noise Bilbo might make.  She began to lose herself in the fighting.  It had been awhile, and she loved the feeling of hitting something with all her might and battling against Dwalin was the best. 

 

“Worried Dwalin?” she taunted him.  “You know I’m better with an axe than you are with a sword.”

 

“Normally I’d agree, but not with this sword.  Its magnificent!  I’ll never tire out using this.  You, though, aren’t used to a heavy weapon.  You’re going to tire first.” 

 

“Not before I get you to drop MY sword.”

 

“Keep dreaming lassie.”

 

The fighting went back and forth, with neither gaining the upper hand.  It wasn’t until Bilbo suddenly appeared in the courtyard below them, that Amayla remembered why she was sparring with Dwalin in the first place. 

 

“Everything alright up there?” Bilbo called out.

 

“Hold!” Amayla shouted, dropping the axe to her side.  Turning toward the hobbit, she yelled down, “Bilbo! Didn’t hear you.  Yes, everything is fine.  Just having a bit of fun.  How are YOU?”

 

“Everything is FINE with me.  I was just checking up on you.  Wondering if you were coming back to the room.” Bilbo responded telling Amayla everything she wanted to know. 

 

“Aye.  We’re done here,” she replied offering the axe back to Dwalin. 

 

“Amayla, I was hoping to talk to you . . “ Dwalin insisted while taking his axe and offering up Amayla’s sword.

 

“No.  I’m done.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”  She quickly turned and headed down to the courtyard to join Bilbo leaving Dwalin staring after her in frustration. 

 

When Amayla and Bilbo made it back to the room, Bilbo quickly filled her in on what had happened in Dale before Fili and Kili returned.  “Bard took the Arkenstone and Thranduil took the necklace, but he was not happy to see me.  Apparently, he figured out that I was the one who stole the keys.  But Gandalf was there too and distracted him from that. I’m not certain of what will happen tomorrow, but hopefully, Thorin will see reason.”

 

“That’s a big hope, Bilbo.  But it’s all we have.  Let’s get some sleep.  Tomorrow is going to be quite a day.” 

 

*******

 

It seemed to Amayla that she had just shut her eyes, when Kili started pounding on her door to get up.  The brothers were putting on their newly found armor, while Bilbo was putting on a chain-mail shirt.

 

“Bilbo, where did you get that?” Amayla asked in wonderment.  “Is that mithril?”

 

“Yes, it is.  Thorin gave it to me.”

 

All three dwarves stared at the shirt in amazement.  Bilbo twitched in discomfort.  “Is there something wrong with it?  Should I not be wearing it.”

 

Amayla shook her head as if coming out of a daze, “No, of course not.  Its just an amazing shirt.  I’m glad that you have it.   I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m sure Fili and Kili haven’t either.  Right lads?” 

 

Fili and Kili kept staring at it. 

 

“Fili! Kili! Snap out of it!” Amayla had to shout to get the brother’s attention.

 

“Um, yeah, right.  Great shirt Bilbo!” Fili managed to mumble.

 

The four marched out to the ramparts to join the rest of the company standing there.  The elven army stood before the gate.  Row upon row of archers arrayed in golden armor with a rag tag group of several hundred men of Lake Town standing behind bearing various weapons.   Everything was silent until, at a distance, they could see Bard riding his white horse and Thrandruil astride a huge elk with the biggest rack of antlers that Amayla had ever seen.  The elven soldiers moved out of their way, making a path for the two leaders, who kept advancing on the refurbished gate. 

 

DAMMIT!  Why did Thranduil deploy his troops out there.  He has his necklace!  This is just making everything worse!  Amayla looked down at Bilbo, the concern in his eyes matched her own.

 

Suddenly, Thorin loosed an arrow at the feet of Thranduil’s elk, threatening to put the next one between his eyes.  Thrandruil was obviously angered and with a bob of his head, all the elven archers notched arrows, ready to fire upon the dwarves.  Amayla would have been more impressed by the display if the arrows weren’t pointed at her and all her friends.  With a flick of Thranduil’s finger, the elves stood down and stowed their arrows. 

 

Thranduil spoke first, “We have come to tell you payment of your debt has been offered and accepted.”

 

Amayla let out a sigh of relief.  Thank Mahal!

 

Her relief was short-lived.  “What payment? I gave you nothing! You have NOTHING!” Thorin shouted down.

 

Thranduil glanced at Bard who reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the jewel that Thorin had so desperately been looking for.  “We have this,” he stated calmly.

 

Thorin’s face dropped and there were audible gasps by all in the company. 

 

“They have the Arkenstone,” Kili cried.  “Thieves! How came you by the emblem of our house?  That stone belongs to the King!”

 

“And the king may have it, with our good will.  But first, he must honor his word.” Bard replied tucking the stone back in his pocket. 

 

“They are taking us for fools.  This is a ruse!  A filthy lie! The Arkenstone is in THIS mountain.  It is a trick!”

 

“And I suppose this is a trick too?” Thranduil mocked, holding up the white gems of Lasgalen. 

 

Thorin turned bright red and his eyes bulged from their sockets. 

 

Bilbo approached Thorin, “It is not trick.  The stones are real.  I gave them to them.  I took the Arkenstone as my 14th share of the treasure.” 

 

Amayla was frozen in place, watching Thorin carefully, scared of what he might do to Bilbo.

 

“You? You!  You miserable Hobbit! You undersized – burglar!  He grabbed Bilbo by the throat and started shaking him, “Curse you and that blasted wizard that brought you to our company!  Were that he was here to see me throw you down upon the rocks!”

 

At the threat to Bilbo’s life, Amayla launched herself into the side of her king.  She brought her arms down on his outstretched arms, causing Thorin to drop the hobbit.  She then threw a punch up under his chin, staggering Thorin against the rampart.  She grabbed Bilbo and threw him behind her. 

 

Thorin stood and stomped toward Amayla, sneering in disgust, “You would strike your KING to protect a thief? You are no better than he!”

 

“Bilbo is no thief.  He took his share of the treasure and gave it away.  It was his right!  And I will NOT let you hurt him for it!  Please Thorin, just give Bard the what you promised him and the Arkenstone will be yours!”

 

“And the necklace? Was the shire-RAT not a thief when he took that?”

 

“Bilbo didn’t take the necklace.  I did.  I gave it to Bilbo to return to its rightful owner.”  Amayla dropped her voice at her admission, but her eyes never broke from Thorin’s. 

 

A familiar wizard’s voice interrupted them, “Thorin, son of Thrain, you are not making a very splendid figure as King under the Mountain.  If you don’t like my burglar, please don’t damage him!”

 

Thorin turned back to Amayla, “You disgust me and you shame your father!  You are a TRAITOR!  Take the hobbit with you if you wish him to live, but you both are BANISHED from Erebor forever.  If I see your face again, I will have it on a pike!”

 

Amayla held her chin high as her eyes filled with tears.  She pulled Bilbo with her and walked to the corner of the parapet where Bofur was hastily tying the rope that they had left from the previous night.  Amayla let Bilbo go first.  No one in the company said a word as she looked at them all one last time before starting to climb down.  By the time she reached the bottom, her tears were flowing freely.  Bilbo stopped and stood next to Gandalf, but Amayla just kept walking to the edge of the Elven troops before turning towards Dale, not speaking to anyone.  The last thing she heard was Thorin shouting that he would have war. 

Chapter Text

A thundering noise unexpectedly rose from over a ridge.  All turned to see a host of dwarves marching down, fully armed in battle armor, led by a red-headed dwarf riding an enormous hog.  Amayla had heard enough stories to know that it had to be Lord Dain of the Iron Mountains.  Any lingering hope that Thorin would not be suicidal and attack the elves was completely lost.  Amayla knew full well that a battle would soon take place between dwarves and elves and men and there was nothing she could do to stop it.  Nor was she allowed to protect any member of the company, much less the Line of Durin.   She just kept walking towards Dale.  How did it come to this?  Banished?  For what?  They will go to war anyway!  Mahal!  Can I even return to Gorvuud?  What will I say to Ardru?  Thorin is right, I did shame him.  She just kept walking.  Even when the sounds of war started, Amayla couldn’t bring herself to look. 

 

The rumble of the ground made Amayla stop and turn.  Everyone else in the valley did too.  Popping out of the ground were giant earth crushers followed by hoards of orcs and goblins.  A low horn blared from the outpost on Ravenhill and Amayla was sickened to see Azog standing and directing his forces to battle.  This was a fight that she didn’t need to turn her back to.  Amayla drew her bow and charged forward, starting firing as soon as an orc got within her range.  Soon she drew Ardru’s sword and her dagger and started slashing.  There were dwarves next her as well as elves, both races working together.  It was obvious that the orc numbers were far greater than the elves and dwarves, but nothing would stop Amayla from fighting.  More than once, Amayla thought how grateful she was that her sword was made of mithril as the orcs kept coming and coming.  She heard Dain call out for Thorin and couldn’t help join in wondering where the company was. 

 

Finally, a low horn blast reverberated from Erebor itself.  She turned to see a huge bell come crashing through the makeshift gate repairs, followed by Thorin leading out the rest of the company.  FINALLY! Dain called the remaining dwarven forces to join the king and the tide seemed to turn. 

 

Amayla watched Thorin, Fii, Kili, and Dwalin head for the Ravenhill to go after Azog, and desperately wanted to follow.   The warrior in her would not let the line of Durin fall.  It was why she joined the company in the first place.  Her duty was to protect the King, and she would die doing it.  And that’s just what they thought she did. 

 

From where she was, she was never going to reach Ravenhill in time to make any difference.  That’s when she saw Beorn, in all his ursine glory.  She gave a quick prayer out to Mahal that the beast would remember her and shouted at the top of her lungs.  Upon hearing someone call him out, Beorn turned to Amayla.  She stood motionless as the bear roared in her face and then sniffed her up and down.   When he looked her in the eye, Amayla felt confident that Beorn remembered her. 

 

She pointed up toward Ravenhill, “Azog is up there.  If you want your revenge, it’s there.   Thorin went up there after him.  We have to get there.  Will you take me?” 

 

Beorn snorted, which Amayla took as agreement, and she climbed on his back.  She had lived among bears most of her life but never expected to ride on one.  If it weren’t for the orcs trying to kill them both, Amayla would have reveled in the moment.  As it was though, she was busy slashing at any orc who tried to stop them. 

 

Amayla and Beorn reached the Ravenhill when Azog appeared holding Fili up for execution.  They weren’t close enough to engage with a sword, but were just within the range of her bow, she hoped.  It was Amayla’s last arrow that pierced Azog’s arm, causing him to release Fili.  Amayla grimaced as Fili bounced off boulders on the way down, but she could tell he was alive from his moans of pain. 

 

Azog was pissed.  He slashed the protruding arrow shaft with his blade arm and yelled something in Black Speech to his minions before heading away.  Amayla and Beorn were able to kill several of the orcs as Bilbo pulled Fili back away from the fighting.  Dwalin took out several orcs with his ax as Thorin, trailed by Beorn, chased after Azog.  Dwalin stayed behind as scores of goblins poured over the walls.  Amayla stayed with Dwalin to finish off the goblins before they could go help Thorin.  During the battle, one goblin managed to stab Dwalin in the thigh.  The wound was not horrible but needed binding. 

 

“Help Thorin,” was all Dwalin could say in frustration while ripping part of his tunic to bind himself. 

 

Amayla had to travel down a narrow staircase to the make it where the two were battling.  She looked for Beorn, who must have been trying to find another way around as he could not have made it down the stairwell.   When she finally saw the two in the middle of the frozen river, she was scared.  Thorin was losing, it was very apparent that Azog would succeed in at least killing the head of the line of Durin if nobody stepped in, which was Amayla’s job to do.  Amayla was horrified to see Azog standing over Thorin, pressing his sword arm down only inches above the dwarf’s chest.  Thorin was using his sword to hold back Azog but was obvioiusly weaking.   Amayla realized how close Thorin was to dying.  He had mere seconds left.  She raced across the ice, sword at the ready, desperately trying to get to Thorin’s side in time.  Suddenly, Beorn came roaring from the other side.  The great white orc was shocked to see the beast rushing toward him.  He immediately jumped away from Thorin and started running away from Beorn, directly into Amayla’s path.  Amayla barely had time to brace herself and thrust her sword into Azog’s belly.  She twisted the sword for good measure, but the beast still managed to slash her side with his sword arm.  Amayla pulled her sword out just as Beorn arrived and grabbed the dying orc in his mouth, thrashing him about to leave no doubt that the enemy was dead.   Beorn pawed at Azog’s lifeless body and then roared louder than anything Amayla had ever heard.  He turned and at looked at her before heading back off toward the battle in the valley. 

 

The pain was nearly overwhelming, but Amayla rushed to Thorin’s side.  Bilbo came rushing up from behind her, with his sword drawn, ready to once again protect Thorin from any orcs.  A shadow darkened them and  Bilbo looked up and whispered, “Eagles.”  Amayla had no idea of when the Eagles had joined the battle but was overjoyed that they had.  She and Bilbo frantically waved their arms attracting Gwaihir’s attention.  The great eagle landed.  “Take the King to the healing tents – hurry - please!” Amayla begged Gwadir, “And come back for prince Fili.  He’s up there. Bilbo will flag you down,” she added.

 

The two watched the great bird fly off with the injured king before rushing back to where they had left Fili and Dwalin.  Dwalin had wrapped his stab wound was attempting to tend to Fili’s many injuries when they returned.  Despite his rejection of her, Amayla’s heart leapt knowing that Dwalin’s wound was not life-threatening.

 

 “Thorin?” he asked. 

 

“Injured, but alive.  An eagle is taking him out.  One should be coming for Fili too.   Bilbo will stay with him.”

 

“Azog?” 

 

 “Dead.  Where’s Kili?” 

 

“He and that she-elf were battling Bolg up there – come on!” 

 

“But your injury Amayla, you need to get to a healer too” Bilbo frowned as he saw the red blood staining her tunic. 

 

“I’m fine.  It can wait,” she replied as she headed towards sound of swords clashing.

 

She followed after him as fast as she could, but she was weakening quickly.  As they reached the upper levels of the crumbling tower, they came across Bolg with Kili on his back fighting desperately.  Tauriel was crumpled in a pile with Legolas protecting her as two Orcs attacked them.  Legolas was down to two daggers.  Dwalin and Amayla instinctively rushed the nearest two orcs attacking Legolas.  Dwalin took the head off one and Amayla slashed the legs out from the other.  Legolas finished him off as he fell.  They all turned as Tauriel screamed Kili’s name.  Bolg stood above him with a pike, ready to run Kili through. 

 

“Bolg!” Amayla taunted, “come and get me, for the black blood you see on me is from Azog.  Give me the pleasure of killing you both!” 

 

Bolg turned and snarled at Amayla during which time Kili managed to roll away.  Unfortunately, Amayla’s injury overcame her and she fell backwards to sit on the low edge of a battlement.  Bolg saw her weakness and charged at her.  Kili, Dwalin, and Legolas all threw weapons into Bolg, killing him, but his momentum carried him into Amayla.  In her weakened state, she could do nothing to stop Bolg as he fell on her taking them both over the battlement and down the tower.  Amayla screamed as she fell, but the screams stop as she hit the side of the tower before landing on top of the dead orc. 

 

Dwalin, Kili, Legolas and Tauriel desperately scanned the ground from the top of Ravenhill tower, but could not see anything from where they stood.  They rushed down the tower to look for Amayla.  When they got to the bottom, they saw Bolg dead in a heap, Ardru’s sword on the ground, but no Amayla.  “Where is she!?” they all questioned each other but were distracted as retreating orcs and goblins entered their area.  The battled continued for less than an hour more as the three races – along with eagles and an extremely large bear – cleared the battlefield of any living enemy. 

 

The two dwarves and two elves made their way back to Erebor, looking for their friends along the way.  Dwalin informed them that he thought both Thorin and Fili were alive but injured.  The four stayed together searching the various healing tents.  They were starting to get desperate after not finding any of their kin in the tents of men or in the healing halls of Erebor.  It was not until they got to the healing tents of the elves that they located Fili and Thorin together.  Fili had a broken arm, leg, and a few ribs as well as numerous bruises but was in decent spirits, far more worried about Thorin than himself.  Kili embraced his brother causing Fili to yelp in pain as well as joy.  “How is Thorin? I can’t tell from this bed” Fili complained.  The elven healers huddled around Thorin, washing and wrapping his wounds and chanting in elvish.  They blocked Kili and Dwalin from getting too close.  Legolas had to put a hand on Dwalin’s shoulder to hold the dwarf back from raising his ax to the healers to let him through.  “Let me find out” the blond elf calmly spoke to Dwalin.  After a few whispered murmurings in Elvish, Legolas assured the brothers and Dwalin that the healers felt that Thorin, though badly injured, would survive.  The three dwarves broke out in smiles, cheers, and head bumps.  Again, Fili ended up yelping in pain between the laughs.  Even Legolas and Tauriel smiled, which caused the dwarves to laugh even more.  Until Bilbo stepped into the tent asking if Amayla was with them.

 

The laughter stopped.  Fili struggled to sit up as best as he could, “Why are you asking, where is Amayla?!”  The four companions exchanged worried looks between them. 

 

“Isn’t she with you?” questioned Bilbo.  They shook their heads. 

 

“WHAT HAPPENED TO HER?” pressed Fili. 

 

“We don’t know,” hemmed Kili. 

 

It was finally Tauriel who spoke up, “She fell off the tower battling Bolg.” 

 

“She fell?” Bilbo whispered, his voice barely audible. 

 

“Is she dead?” croaked Fili. 

 

“We don’t know!” repeated Kili.

 

HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW, DID YOU NOT LOOK FOR HER?” Fili questioned, his voice raising. 

 

“Of course we looked,” yelled Dwalin back at him, “SHE WASN’T THERE!”

 

Tauriel stepped between them with hands raised trying to calm the dwarves. “Someone must have taken her to a healing tent.  We just need to look more.” 

 

Legolas said that he would search the other elven tents, Bilbo agreed to go with Dwalin to look in Dale as he was still banished from Erebor.  Kili asked Tauriel to help him look in Erebor.  Legolas frowned as Tauriel agreed.  They all agreed to meet back in Fili’s and Thorin’s tent after their searches. 

 

Three hours later, Dwalin and Bilbo were the first to return.  Fili looked up hopefully.  They just shook their heads.  Legolas showed up shortly after.  Seeing his questioning face, they knew that the elf had not been successful.  Thorin was still unconscious but they all could see that he was resting peacefully.  Legolas paced the tent from left to right from the foot of Thorin’s bed to the foot of Fili’s bed, while Dwalin paced up and down between the beds.  Bilbo sat on a stool next to Fili, wringing his hands nervously.  “Surely Kili and Tauriel have found her.  She’s a dwarf, of course they took her to Erebor – right?” Bilbo asked to no one in particular, continuing “They’ll be coming in here any minute now to say that she’s fine.”  Nobody spoke.  Dwalin and Legolas continued pacing, while Bilbo kept wringing his hands.  Finally, the tent door opened as the red-headed elf and dark-haired dwarf came in, faces desperately searching their companions for good news. 

 

“Anything?” asked Fili.

 

 “No” came Kili’s choaking response, “You either?”

 

The silence was deafening.

 

The quiet was broken when Bifur, Bofur, and Bomber came rushing in.  “Kili! Fili! We heard you were here lads! And Thorin too!” They tried to hug Kili but he would have nothing of it. 

 

“What is it?” asked Bofur.

 

“It’s Amayla” Kili replied, “We can’t find her.”

 

 “Where did you see her last?” asked Bomber. 

 

Bilbo filled them in quickly, “She went to Ravenhill.  She saved Fili and Thorin, killed Azog, and helped kill Bolg.  But we can’t find her! We’ve looked in all the tents!”

 

The Ur brothers could only frown. 

 

Legolas broke the silence daring to say what they were all thinking, “There is only one place left to look.”

 

 Fili whispered, “the fallen fields.”

 

Dwalin growled “NO!” while Kili yelled, “She can’t be dead!” 

 

“Then let’s hope we don’t find her there,” Tauriel spoke gently placing her hand on Kili’s arm. 

Chapter Text

What really happened to Amayla

 

After dropping Fili and Bilbo off at the Elven healing tents, Gwaihir flew back to Ravenhill.  The great eagle saw Amayla fall and rushed down to grab her.  His movement was so smooth and swift that neither Dwalin, Kili, Legolas nor Tauriel saw him as they hurried down the interior of the tower.  Gwardir dropped off Amayla and quickly returned to the battle.  The elven healers had set up a triage outside the tents.  Life threatening injuries of any race went to the elven tents. Thorin and Fili were sent there.  Dwarves with non-life threatening injuries were being moved into Erebor as the tide turned on the battle field and the way into Erebor was safe.  The men had tents set up in Dale, although they were being staffed by Elven healers as there were few healers left among men. Because of overcrowding, the healers began sending some of the wounded back to Mirkwood in the wagons that had delivered food to Dale.

 

The triage healer took a swift look at Amayla’s broken body and marked her for immediate evacuation to Mirkwood.  “I’ve stopped the bleeding, but the dwarf has broken almost every bone in his body and has a serious head injury.  And I believe the wounds may be from a morgul shaft.  There is no treatment available here in the tents.”

 

“Will he survive trip?” asked Lianthonel, one of the assistants.

 

“The trip will not make anything worse.  It will be painful, but he is so deeply unconscious that I am certain he will not awaken on the trip. I just hope that he awakens one day.  Hurry, there is a wagon leaving shortly.  Make certain he is on it.  If there is room, accompany him.  Our supplies are being stretched.  Make certain the wagon returns fully stocked.  And don’t forget to add him to the injured list.”

 

Lianthonel rushed ahead of the litter carrying Amayla.  She noticed the wagon driver climbing up into his seat, and she’ll yelled for him to stop.  “We’ve got one more to go on this trip and I will accompany you.”  The driver was annoyed as he had to rearrange the other wounded to fit Amayla in.  An injured elf started moaning and Lianthonel rushed to his side to administer some pain killing herbs.  “I’ll stay back here, get going.”  Unfortunately for Amayla, Lianthonel never added her to the evacuation list. 

 

 

Two months later, in Mirkwood

 

“You’re finally awake.” 

 

Amayla blinked rapidly.  The light felt foreign to her eyes, far too bright.  When they focused on the voice, she made out an elf staring down at here.  Amayla frowned in confusion, having no idea where she was.

 

The elf spoke softly and a bit coldly, “You are in the healing halls of the Woodland Realm.  Can you understand me?”

 

Still muddle, Amayla nodded her head.

 

“Would you like some water?”

 

Again, Amayla nodded as her throat was parched.

 

The elf sat down beside her and helped Amayla raise her head as he brought a cup of water to her lips.  “Small sips only,” he admonished. 

 

“Thank you” she managed to whisper.

 

As the elf stood, Amayla grabbed his hand, “How long?”

 

“Two months.”

 

Shocked, Amayla slumped back onto her pillow.

 

“I will bring Neston back to check on you.  He is the the head healer in this hall.”

 

Amayla began to think more clearly, as if her mind was slowing coming out of a cloud.  Looking around, she realized that she wasn’t in the same room as the last time she was in Mirkwood.  This was a private room with some sort of opening to the outside.  She could move her arms but they were SO heavy.  She tried to move her legs but they seemed incased in something, leaving her trapped in the bed.  She was so tired that it was taking all her energy to keep her eyes open. 

 

As promised, the first elf returned with another.  This new dark-haired elf put his hand on his chest, bowing slightly and introduced himself as Neston.  “We have been taking care of you these many weeks, may I now have the priviledge of knowing your name?”

 

Amayla liked this Neston elf.  She smiled, “Amayla, heir of Ardru, at your service.”

 

Neston smiled in return, “Amayla?  That is a most beautiful name, but I hardly think you will be of service to anyone right now.  I am pleased that you are finally fully awake, but you are far from healed.  If you would allow me to examine you further?”

 

Neston made Amayla sit up, squeeze his hands, and wiggle her toes.  Satisfied with her actions, he then explained, “You were badly injured when you arrived.  You had more broken bones than I could count.  We were very worried about your back and neck, but everything seems to have healed well since you still have feeling in all your limbs.  The casts on your legs can come off in a few days.  You obviously sustained head injuries as you were in and out of a coma until now.  Happily, that has passed.  I am anxious to see if there is any memory loss.  Often times there is, but more often, at least in elves, the memories return eventually.  But you remember your name, so that is a good sign.  Now I would like to see you eating more and building up your strength, as well as getting plenty of rest.”

 

“Rest?  Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for the last two months?”

 

“You were comatose Amayla.  That’s not the same as resting.  Now is there anything special you would like to eat?”

 

“Just not fish please!  And, do you know what has happened in Erebor?  Is Thorin King?”

 

“Yes, Thorin was crowned King under the mountain shortly after the battle was over.  They are working on restoring the mountain as we speak.”

 

Amayla smiled again, “That is good.  Were they told that I am here?”

 

Neston looked to the other elf who shrugged.  “We didn’t know her name until today, so we had no way of telling them.  But I’m sure she’s on the injured list.”

 

“We will let Erebor know immediately Amayla.  Now you will eat the food that is brought and then rest.” Neston ordered. 

 

Over the next several days, Brenion, the male assistant healer’s name and a female named Eliril, brought Amayla her food, starting her exercising, and assisting Neston in removing her leg casts.  And each day, Amayla asked if any messages had arrived from Erebor. 

 

Healing halls in Erebor

 

“Here’s the latest update from the elves,” one young red-headed soldier passed a letter to another red-head lounging at a desk. 

 

“Let me guess what it says, five male dwarves recovering from wounds.  Full recovery expected soon.” 

 

“Yep, except there’s something else written on the bottom.  They added another name – Amayla, female, recovering from wounds.  Full recovery expected soon.”

 

“Amayla?  Who is that?  Mirkwood doesn’t have any dams.  And what kind of name is Amayla?  That doesn’t sound dwarvish to me.  Did you know any dam named Amayla in the corps?”

 

“Nope.  Those stupid elves must have put one of their own on the list by mistake, because I know the name of EVERY dam in the corps and there’s NO Amayla,” he responded laughing. 

 

“Aye! And I think you’ve tried to kiss every one of them too!” he snorted back. 

 

“I think I might be making some progress with Sealla,” he winked. 

 

“Really?  Do tell!”

Chapter Text

 

After a week of being awake, Amayla was tired and frustrated.  Brenion and Eliril were working her hard in her rehabilitation routine and she was making progress, but she couldn’t understand why she hadn’t heard anything from Erebor.  “Are you sure Erebor was informed?” Amayla asked while lifting weights in each hand.

 

“Yes, but so I don’t have to hear you ask the very same question tomorrow, why don’t you send a personal letter to assure yourself!” stated Brenion. 

 

“Can I?  Would you bring me some paper? Thank you!  Who should I send it to?  Definitely not Thorin or Dwalin.  Bilbo would be the obvious choice but he might not be there.  Balin!  I’ll send it to Balin.  Thank you!” 

 

“You’re welcome, now give me twenty more.”

 

 

Amayla thought hard about her letter to Balin, given that the last time she had seen him was when Thorin was banishing her. 

 

Dear Balin,

 

I hope this letter finds you and the rest of the company well.  I’ve been told that Thorin was crowned King and I could not be more pleased.  I want to let you know that I am in Thranduil’s hall being very well treated.  Much nicer than the last time I was here.  My injuries are healing and I’ve just started to walk again. While I cannot go to Erebor, I would love a visit from any and all of you at your earliest convenience.  I miss you all. 

 

Yours always,

Amayla

 

 

 

Eliril promised to personally make certain that letter went in the next batch of corespondances to Erebor. She guessed that it would take four days to receive a response.  She carried the letter to the dispatch office and handed it to the elf in charge, satisfied that she could tell Amayla that it was being sent.

 

 

DISPATCH OFFICE

 

Gaviolith held the letter from Eliril in his hand and watched her walk away.  He always enjoyed the backside of a pretty elleth, and Eliril’s was exceptional.  He was partial to blonds, and her golden yellow hair reminded him of sunlight.  He started fantasizing about asking her to the next festival, dancing with her, letting his hands slide down to her round bum.  When his superior walked in asking if the incoming mail was ready for distribution, Gaviolith absentmindedly grabbed the pile, adding Amalya’s letter to it before handing it off.   Later that day, when the letter came back as nondeliverable, another elf tossed it into the pile of letters to be dealt with “later.”

 

One week later

 

“No, there was no letter today.” Brenion said for the third day in a row. 

 

“I’m sorry Amayla.  Maybe you should try writing to someone else?” Eliril suggested. 

 

“If Balin won’t answer, then I don’t know who would.  Ori maybe?”

 

“He’s the young scribe, right?” Eliril asked after having heard so much about each member of the company.

 

“Aye.”

 

“Why don’t you just write them all?  One of them is sure to respond!”

 

“Good idea Eliril!  Can you get me more paper, please?”

 

“Fine, write your letters, but first 50 leg lifts,” barked out Brenion. 

 

Amaylal wrote the same letter to each member of the company.  She even wrote one to Bilbo just in case he was still in Erebor. 

 

Dear Friend,

 

I hope this letter finds you well.  I am healing and look forward to being able to leave the Woodland Realm.  This time I plan on riding out on a horse, instead of a barrel.  My wounds have all healed and now I am trying to rebuild my strength.  I would very much like to hear from you.  A letter letting me know what is happening to Erebor would be most welcome.  I miss you all.

 

Yours always,

 

Amalya

 

 

Eliril once again took Amayla’s letters to the mail dispatch office.  Gaviolith was more than happy to see the pretty elleth once again.  She handed over Amayla’s stack of letters to him, surprising him with the numbers she was holding.  “That must be one lucky Ellon to get so many letters from such a beautiful elleth.  I must learn his secret.”

 

Despite the obvious line she had just been given, Eliril couldn’t help but smile at the handsome elf with the most beautiful green eyes framed by the darkest lashes that she had ever seen.  She had thought him pleasant when she was last there, but now, when she stopped to really look, she felt her heart quicken. 

 

“No,” she giggled, “They are for a patient of mine.  A female dwarf writing to her friends in Erebor.”

 

“Well in that case, I am your most obedient servent, Mistress ????”

 

“Eliril.”

 

“Mistress Eliril.  Lovely.  And I am Gaviolith.  May I be so bold to ask if there is an Ellon lucky enough to have captured your heart?”

 

“Maybe,” she replied flirting right back at him.  “Please see that these get sent out today.” 

 

“Anything for you,” Gaviolith replied, winking.  As he once again enjoyed watching Eliril walk away, there was no doubt in his mind who he would be asking to the next festival. 

 

A few minutes later, the two couriers came to pick up their missives.  They remarked on the unusually large number. 

 

“Most of those are from some dwarf in the healing halls.” Gaviolith replied.

 

“Now we’re couriering for dwarves?” one snorted in derision. 

 

“Just do your job.”

 

“Easy for you to say.  You don’t have to ride out in the cold when I just KNOW there’s a storm coming.” 

 

The elf was correct in his weather predictions.  Half-way to Erebor, the storm hit the couriers, snow coming down ferociously. They found a small overhang that provided enough protection for them to ride it out.  Finding wood for a fire was not a problem, but getting the fire started with wet wood was.  After numerous attempts, the two decided that they needed something to get the flame to take for a few minutes.  They looked at each other and then to the papers they were carrying, coming to the same conclusion, “Those dwarven letters!  We can roll them up and use those!  It’s not like they’re important documents from the King.”  They used all of Amayla’s letters before they got their fire roaring.

Chapter Text

Over a week later, Eliril walked into Amayla’s room, face downcast.  Amayla immediately knew that there were no posts for her once again.  Brenion came in right behind Eliril, “Ready to work?”

 

Both elves were startled as Amayla shouted, “NO!  Just leave me ALONE!”

 

“Amayla, you must do your excercises,” Brenion tried to reason.

 

He was completely taken by surprise when a wooden bowl filled with oatmeal went flying past his head.  “The next one will hit you in your nose! Now GET OUT!  BOTH OF YOU!”

 

The two hustled out of the room, leaving Amayla to wallow in her misery in peace.

 

A while later, Neston knocked on her door and let himself in. 

 

“It would be nice if there I had a lock on my door,” she complained stoically. 

 

“No locks on healing rooms, in case of emergencies.  Would you like to talk about what is bothering you?”

 

“I miss my friends,” she said softly, tears starting to flow.  “I just want to talk to them, just one of them.  I need to talk about things.”

 

“What things?”

 

“Everything!  Anything!  I need to talk about what happened.  What we went through.  To know that it was real and all worth it!”

                                                                      

“And you will.”  Neston gently patted Amayla’s arm.  “When you are strong enough, you will return to Erebor and see them all.  That is why you must do your exercises, to rebuild your strength.”

 

“No,” she said shaking her head, “I won’t.”

 

“I know it’s hard work, but -”

 

“No.  It’s not the work I won’t do.  It’s going back to Erebor.”  She stood and looked out the window, staring but not seeing anything.

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“Nevermind.  I don’t want to talk about it.” 

 

“But I think you really do want to talk.  Your mind needs to heal as much as your body does, and some times talking is the best medicine.” 

 

“I don’t think it’s anything you would understand.  I need to talk to a friend, someone who knows what we went through.”

 

“A warrior.”

 

“Aye, a warrior.”

 

“I could arrange for one of our warriors to talk to you.”

 

Amayla chuckled, “I doubt there are any elven warriors who will want to sit down and talk to me, a measly Dwarvish captain.”  Amayla suddenly stopped.  “A captain. Tauriel!  Maybe she would be willing to talk to me.  She wouldn’t care about Thorin.”

 

“Tauriel?  Captain of the Guard Tauriel?  You know her?”

 

“Yes, I do.  Do you think you could let her know that I am here?” Amayla asked, her eyes shining. 

                                                 

“If I can get a smile out of you like that, then I most certainly will let her know you are here!  And now that that is all settled, will you please let Berion and Eliril come in and perform their duties without having bowls thrown at them?”

 

 

Neston checked in on Amayla working with Eliril.  The dwarf was following Eliril’s instructions on stretching and bending, and while the elf looked graceful, almost serene, Amayla was sweating profusely.  Neston smiled at them both with approval.  His smile faded quickly when a messenger handed him a piece of paper.  When the always-composed healer crumpled the piece of paper and threw it on the ground, swearing, both females froze and stared at him.  Amayla felt his pain when he looked in her eyes. 

 

“What is it?” she asked expecting the worst.

 

Neston regained his composure, and walked over to Amayla, “I am sorry, but Captain Tauriel is stationed at Dale, and is not available to talk to you.”

 

Amayla squeezed her eyes tight, trying to hold back the tears, “Thank you for trying Neston.”

 

“This isn’t over,” Neston said, striding out. 

 

 

The healer went straight to the king’s council chambers and asked for an audience.  After waiting for over an hour, he was finally led in.  Thranduil sat at the center of a table with two scribes next to him.  Additional tables were to his left and right filled with elves that Neston recognized as being Lords and various councilors.  Neston knew the King well and could see that he was annoyed, although that seemed to be a permanent state for the king of late.

 

“It is rare to see you in these chambers Neston.  And what would you like of me today?” Thranduil asked, no small amount of annoyance in his voice.

 

“Your majesty, I would ask that you recall Captain Tauriel from Dale to help a patient of mine.”

 

Intrigued, Thranduil leaned forward in his chair, “I do not move my captains about on a whim.  Why would Tauriel be needed to help one of your patients?”

 

“It is for the last dwarf that we still have following the battle for Erebor.  She was comatose for many months and is just now rebuilding her strength.   But she is experiencing post battle stress and I find it most helpful in these cases for the patient to speak to someone who has had similar experiences.  For some reason, no one from Erebor has come to see her, but she knows Tauriel and I believe being able to talk with the captain would speed her recovery.” 

 

“She?  It is a female dwarf?  I had no idea that any female dwarves were here in my halls.  And she knows Tauriel?”

 

“Yes, your majesty.  She asked for Tauriel herself.”

 

Thranduil frowned, obviously thinking.  “What is her name?” Thranduil finally demanded.

 

“Amayla, your majesty.”

 

“AMAYLA?!?!” Thranduil nearly shouted, jumping to his feet. 

 

All in the chamber froze at the King’s overt display of emotion. 

 

“Take me to her immediately!”  he commanded. 

Chapter Text

Neston found it hard to keep up with the king’s pace as he strode toward the healing halls, the royal guards trailing behind.  The healer led Thranduil to Amayla’s door, barely getting a chance to knock before the king barged in.

 

Amayla turned from her usual spot at the window, surprised to see the great king entering her room. 

 

“Amayla?” he whispered. 

 

She nodded and burst into tears. 

 

Thranduil rushed to her side.  He sat down on her bed and pulled him into his arms.  The guards and Neston were stunned to see their king express such emotion over a dwarf.  Thranduil sent them away with a wave of his hand leaving him to talk to Amayla in private.

 

“You remember me?” Amayla sobbed, looking up at Thranduil through tearful eyes.

 

“Of course I do Amayla.  How could I forget someone who smashed my table and broke my favorite wine goblet?”

 

“Your favorite?  I am sorry.” she sniffed. 

 

“Aye, but do not worry.  I have many just like it.  Now why the tears?”

 

“It’s just nice to be remembered.  Everyone else seems to have forgotten or abandoned me.”

 

“And by everyone, you mean Oakenshield and company?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Amayla, they think you are dead.”

 

“Maybe they did once, but Neston informed them weeks ago and I’ve written so many letters.  They must know by now.  And why didn’t they come find me in the first place.  It’s not as if I was hiding!”

 

“I will let Thorin know right away. I’m sure he will be overjoyed to know you are here and will welcome you back to Erebor.”

 

“No, no he won’t.  I can’t go back.”

 

Thranduil raised his eyebrows at her.

 

“I am banished from Erebor,” she eeked out. 

 

“I see.  And would a certain necklace now in my possession have anything to do with that?”

 

“Yes.  And the fact that I struck Thorin to stop him from killing Bilbo.”

 

“On the ramparts, before the battle?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And yet, it is my understanding that you were the one who saved Thorin by killing Azog.”

 

“Aye, He is still my king, and that was on Ravenhill, not inside Erebor.”  Amayla found a handkerchief and wiped her eyes before blowing her nose. 

 

“I would think that saving his life might have softened Oakenshield’s stance on banishment.” 

 

“I was hoping that too, but the lack of any response from anyone would seem to prove that it hasn’t.”

 

“Then perhaps it is time for me to send a letter.  I do not think he will ignore me.” 

 

“You would do that for me?”

 

“Yes, I will.  I believe that I owe you something for the return of the necklace.  I was quite surprised when the hobbit showed up with it and the Arkenstone that night.”

 

“We were desperate to stop the fighting.  I know it was not my right to give you the necklace, yet I knew it was the right thing to do.  Please tell me, is Thorin free from the gold sickness?”

 

“Yes.  Apparently almost getting killed from greed is good for the soul.  He is still an obstinate dwarf but that seems to be his normal state.  The gold sickness has passed, at least that is what Tauriel has informed me.”

 

“Well that is good news.  I am happy to hear it.  Speaking of Tauriel, why is she in Dale?”

 

“Because you are not the only female to disobey her king.  Although Tauriel’s transgression was not nearly as egregious as yours, I was still displeased that she followed your company to Laketown.  I made her stay in Dale and help Bard with his defenses.”

 

“That hardly seems like a punishment to me.” Amayla scoffed. 

 

Thranduil looked down at Amayla, “You do speak your mind, don’t you?”

 

“I’ve been known to.”

 

“Well, it is a punishment to be away from home this long, although she has been doing a fine job of keeping me informed on what is going on in Dale and Erebor.”

 

“Knowing Tauriel, she probably thinks it’s a promotion.” Amayla chuckled. 

 

Upon seeing Thranduil’s frown, Amayla continued, “It’s just that I know that Tauriel was interested in travel, and seeing the world.  No insult intended!”

 

“Indeed.  Well then I may not need to ask her to come see you.”

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  Please ask her!  I would so love to talk to her!”

 

“Another apology from you?  I am shocked!” 

 

She smiled at the king, “Seriously, your majesty, thank you for all you are doing.  I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel.” 

 

“Neston tells me that you are getting stronger.  Perhaps you can join me for dinner tomorrow and I can show you around my halls.  Although I believe you are already acquainted with my wine cellar!”

 

“Thank you, your majesty,” Amayla said laughing.  “I would be honored.” 

 

.

 

 

The next morning, Amayla was woken by two elven seamstresses who came to take her measurements.  They told her that the king had ordered new clothing for her and it was their task to fulfill it.  When asked if there was anything special she would like, Amayla told them only that she wanted clothes she could spar in. 

 

Later in the day, Neston stopped by and gave Amayla some good news.  She was finally cleared to resume training.  Amayla was beyond thrilled.  Galion, the king’s butler, then showed up with a dress that she was to wear at dinner with the king that night.  It was to be a small affair, with just some of Thranduil’s closest advisors.  Between Thranduil’s letter to Thorin, Tauriel returning, training, and now dinner with the king, Amayla felt hope for the future. 

 

The dinner was pleasant and Amayla was most glad that the elves of the Woodland Realm enjoyed meat, unlike those in Rivendell.  The other elves did not seem excited that a dwarf was joining them for dinner, but as she was a guest of their king, they made an effort to be polite.  Following dinner, Thranduil was true to his word and took Amayla on a tour of his kingdom.  Amayla was most excited to see the armory and sparring rings. 

 

“You will need to select weapons for your training Amayla.  What do you prefer?” Thranduil asked while showing off the armory. 

 

“Sword, dagger, and bow are my preference,” she replied. 

 

“Then help yourself.”

 

Amayla gave a little squeal as she started picking up the weapons.  She suddenly stopped, holding up a pair of daggers.  “These are Filis!”  She looked further, “This is my old sword!” And finally came upon a sight that made her knees buckle, “Grasper and Keeper.”  She ran her fingers over Dwalin’s beloved axes.  The image of her one yielding the weapons flooded her mind, causing her to sway on her feet. 

 

Thranduil was at her side in a flash, dragging her to a bench to have her sit.  “You have over-exerted yourself.  Rest here for a moment.” 

 

“No, I’m not tired, just a little surprised.  You really need to return those weapons your majesty,” she scolded.  “Is Orcrist here too?

 

“No, I gave that to Thorin as a coronation gift.”

 

“And you didn’t think to return the others?”

 

“I never gave it much thought.  I don’t think we knew to whom they belonged.”

 

Amayla gave him a skeptical look before stating firmly that she would identify each weapon that belonged to the company so that they could be returned to their rightful owners.  “Much like I returned a certain necklace to its rightful owner.”  Thorin bowed his head in resignation. 

 

“Is my bow here also?” she asked happily. 

 

“I only recall one dwarven bow, and that one was damaged beyond repair.”

 

“That must have been Kili’s.  Mine was of elvish design.”

 

“You used an elvish bow?  How?”

 

“Technically it is a man-made bow of elvish design, but a child’s size.  Strider made it when he was young.”

 

“Oh, young Estel, Elrond’s ward.  Well go ahead and look.  See if it’s there.”

 

It only took Amayla a few minutes to spot her bow among all the others.  She clapped with delight as Thranduil pulled it down off the wall for her.  “I can’t wait to use it tomorrow!”  Even the ever somber king found her excitement contagious. 

 

~~~~~~~~~

MEANWHILE, BACK IN EREBOR

 

Grundbar took his job as assistant to the privy council of the king very seriously.  This was his first day working on his own as Balin was gone with Thorin working in the mines.   Grundbar wanted everything to be perfect in the king’s private chambers when he returned.  He laid all the missives that had come in that day in perfect order, with the ones from King Thranduil on top.  He started a fire in the large fireplace but forgot to check the flue.  When smoke started filling the room, he realized his mistake.  He got the flue open open quickly, but needed to get rid of the smoke.  His simple solution was to throw open the door to the king’s private balcony.  When he did, a large rush of wind blew the papers off Thorin’s desk with the top missive landing in the middle of the fire.  Grundbar managed to shut the door and retrieve all the rest of the papers, but he could only stare as the one document turned to ash.  His future flashed before his eyes and he made a fateful decision.  Taking another piece of wood, he laid it on top of the disintegrating ashes.  All traces of the paper disappeared, and whatever was written on that letter was gone forever.  King Thorin would never know it was there. 

 

~~~~~~ 

 

Amayla woke up after one of the best night’s sleep she had gotten since awaking in Mirkwood.  She didn’t expect a response to Thranduil’s missive to Erebor until tomorrow, so today was just going to real training with her old sword and getting reacquainted with her bow.  To their credit, the seamstresses had delivered some new clothes for her already.  They appeared to be cut down versions of elvish clothing, but Amayla didn’t mind.  She was just happy they fit her so well. 

 

Eliril met her in the sparring rings.  “First you stretch, then you may fight.”

 

Amayla didn’t argue with the blond elf.  She didn’t want anything to keep her from using her sword, so the sooner she got through with the “stretching” the sooner she would fighting.  Eliril said that she would observe her patient most of the day to make certain that Amayla did not overdo anything. 

 

Amayla started with work on a sparring dummy.  Her sword felt so familiar in her hand and the movements came back quickly, but her arm got tired faster than she would have liked.  Oh, to still have Ardru’s mithril sword again!  Eliril saw her faltering and ordered her to take a break.  Amayla agreed and watched several elves sparring.  They gave Amayla some ugly looks and made a few comments that Amayla couldn’t understand, but nothing could bring down Amayla’s happiness at being among warriors again. 

 

“Do you think that any of them would be willing to spar against me?” Amayla asked Eliril. 

 

“No.  I am quite certain those elves won’t, but if you like, I’d be happy to spar.”

 

“But you are a healer!”

 

“Yes, but I am quite capable in yielding a sword.  I just prefer the healing halls.  I may not be as great a warrior as you, but you are not full strength yet, so I think I might put up a good challenge.  Wooden swords though please!”

 

Amayla and Eliril spent the rest of the morning sparring much to Amayla’s great joy but after a break for lunch, Eliril insisted that Amayla rest the rest of the day.  When Neston agreed with his assistant, Amayla gave up but complained about being bored.  Neston smiled and took Amayla by the arm, not telling her where he was taking her. 

 

When Neston opened the large doors, Amayla’s face burst into a smile.  There were books as far as she could see.  “What do you think Amayla? Worth not being able to practice your bow?” the healer grinned.

 

“Maybe,” she whispered. 

 

As Amayla stood looking in amazement, Neston spoke to the librarian at the main desk.  Amayla couldn’t help but notice that the librarian looked at her skeptically, but Neston seemed to convince him that she should be allowed to enter.   After introductions were made, the librarian led Amayla to a section of books written the common language, where he left her. 

 

“Are you enjoying my library?” 

 

Startled, Amayla looked up to the see the elven king smirking at her. 

 

“If you had put me in here, instead of your dungeons, I never would have escaped.”

 

Thranduil gave a small chuckle.  “I thought you might join me for dinner.”

 

Amayla looked down at her clothes that she had worn for sparring, “I’m not really dressed for dinner.”

 

“It doesn’t matter.  It will just be with me, in my private dining room.  No counselors or nobles. No gossip or requests.  Perhaps you would be willing to tell me about your quest with Oakenshield – now that it is over.” 

 

Amayla couldn’t be certain, but she thought that the king sounded tired, sad even.  “I would be happy to your majesty, thank you.  I’ve been so lost in this library, that I didn’t realize that it was time for dinner.  But now that you mention it, I believe I am hungry!”

 

 

Dinner was quite enjoyable.  Amayla found herself relaxing in the king’s presence.  As requested, Amayla told Thranduil many of the stories of the quest.  He laughed about the trolls, especially Kili’s parasites.  He was very interested in Galadriel’s and Saruman’s visit to Rivendell, and was slightly disappointed that Amayla could not tell him more about that.  The king was surprised that Amayla had learned to ride a horse and offered to let her ride one of his once Neston allowed.  He was also pleased to hear that the Gandalf had killed the goblin king.  But when Amayla asked about Legolas since she had not seen him, Thranduil grew reserved only telling Amayla that he had left to join the Dunedain.   After dinner, Thranduil beat Amayla in a game of chess, after which he had his guards escort her back to her room.  She was surprised at how good she felt at the end of the day, and only hoped that tomorrow would bring word from Thorin. 

 

 

The nest morning, Amayla immediately went to the archery range.  Her arms were a little tired from the day before but she was too excited to let that stop her.  There were numerous elves already there when she arrived and they gave her the same looks that she had seen the day before, but she drew her arrows out of her quiver and took her stance.  She didn’t mind them staring and after several rounds of practice, the elves were watching her with respect. 

 

“Not bad, especially for a dwarf.”

 

Recogizing the voice, Amaylas spun around and shouted excitedly, “Tauriel, you came!”  She ran to the the elf and wrapped her arms around her waist.  Tauriel was taken aback, and hugged her back awkwardly. 

 

“It is so good to see you.  I’m so happy you came,” Amayla babbled.

 

“I can’t tell you how surprised I was when King Thranduil told me why he summoned me.  Amayla, we thought you had fallen, but we could never find your body.”

 

“That’s because I was here,” Amayla shrugged, tears starting to fill her eyes. 

 

“I’m glad of that.”  Picking up a practice bow, Tauriel pointed back to the range, “Shall we?”

 

The two started shooting, both with deadly accuracy. 

 

“How are things in Dale?” Amayla asked.

 

“They are progressing.  Bard has been crowned king and has been doing a fine job of organizing things.  Thorin delivered on his first payment of gold and it was used to buy supplies to get them through the winter.  There is still not an excess of food, but nobody goes hungry.  Luckily, the lake has not frozen over so there is plenty of fish.  Even Thorin has traded for some.  There may be plenty of gold in Erebor, but the food stocks are not great.  I believe that there have been shipments from the Iron Hills so no one is going hungry in Erebor either.”

 

“That is good to hear.  And the company?  They are all well?”

 

“Yes.  All have recovered from their injuries.  The hobbit and Gandalf left with Beorn right after the coronation.  Lord Dain left a large group of soldiers behind and they are all working on restoring Erebor.  The progress is remarkable.  Each trip I make there, I can see more of the glory restored.  The reputation of dwarves and stone is well-deserved.  But you can see that for yourself when you go back.”

 

“IF I go back.”

 

“Yes, his majesty told me about the banishment, but I am certain that it will be rescinded once King Thorin knows that you are alive.  I believe that King Thranduil is expecting a response today.”

 

“I pray so.”

 

But no message came that day.  Thranduil tried to make light of it at dinner, buy Amayla was still distressed.  When no response came the next day, Thranduil grew angry. 

 

“I will send Lord Arodir first thing tomorrow and get a response IN PERSON.  Enough of this WAITING!”

 

.

.

 

The next day Amaylal was given permission from Neston to go riding with Tauriel.  They all hoped it would distract her from the waiting.  She was thrilled to mount a horse again.  The weather was cold, but there was no snow on the ground.  The wind was bracing, but the seamstresses had somehow cobbled together a fur-lined leather coat that fit her and kept the worst of the elements at bay.  A small contingent of elves rode with the two females as they traveled eastward near the river. 

 

Tauriel directed Amayla to take her sword and bow with her.  “I expect no difficulties, but it is better to be armed than not.  We should not encounter any orcs, but there are spiders still in the forest.”

 

“I remember.  Let’s hope not to see any of them,” Amaylas shuddered.

 

“I remember that gate,” Amayla pointed out.  “That’s where the orcs attacked and Kili was shot.”

 

“I remember that also.” Tauriel replied, somewhat whistfully which Amayla dutifully noted.

 

“There is an overlook up ahead, it is a pleasant place to rest,” Tauriel suggested. 

 

Amayla agreed with Tauriel’s assessment of the overlook.  There were large fir trees forming a semi-circle around an outcropping of stone about thirty feet above the rapids in the rushing river.  She and Tauriel took some nuts and cheese out of the pack along with water skins and sat near the edge of the rocks. 

 

“Can you tell me what happened with Bolg?” Amayla asked quietly.  “I have no real memories of that.”

 

Tauriel sat quietly for a moment before beginning.  “Legolas and I arrived in Dale to warn that Bolg was coming from the north with more orcs.  Gandalf told us that Thorin, Fili, Kili and Dwalin had headed that way and asked us to warn them.  We ran into Kili and fought off many orcs before Bolg descended upon us with even more orcs.  Bolg almost killed me but Kili saved me.  That’s about when you arrived.  You and Dwalin took out the orcs that Legolas was protecting me from and then you called out Bolg before he could run Kili through.” 

 

Amayla definitely heard a catch in Tauriel’s voice as she spoke about Kili.

 

“Bolg turned to run you through instead, and Legolas, Dwalin, and I all threw our weapons at his back.  But he grabbed you as he went down and you both fell over the edge.  We heard you scream and then nothing.” 

 

Amayla sat frozen for a few moments.  “I don’t remember any of that.”

 

“We, of course, ran down the tower to look for you, but you weren’t there.  I’ll never forget the sight of Bolg; a crumpled mess, with Dwalin’s axe lodged in his back.  We found your sword, but there were no other signs of you.  We wanted to look more but then goblins came pouring out we had to continue fighting.  Amayla, I promise you, we looked and looked for you – everywhere!  But never found you.  I am so sorry.”

 

“Thank you.  But why didn’t anyone look in Mirkwood?  That’s what I don’t understand.” 

 

“We were told that Mirkwood had only male dwarves, no females.  I don’t know why they said that, but that was the report.” 

 

“And nobody went and checked for themselves,” Amayla said more to herself than to Tauriel.

 

“I am sorry Amayla.  If I had returned to Mirkwood instead of staying in Dale, maybe I would have found you.  Please forgive me.”

 

“Tauriel, you need no forgiveness.  I don’t blame you…”

 

“Well the important thing now is that you have been found and you can go back and rejoin your friends.  I can’t begin to image how happy they will be to have you back.”

 

“So happy that they cannot even write?”

 

“I’m sure that all will be clear when Lord Arodir returns.”

 

“I hope so.” 

 

They sat quietly for a few minutes, eating, drinking, and enjoying the view when Tauriel spoke up again.  “Amayla, what does amrâlimê mean?”

 

Amayla’s eyes went wide as choked on her water, covering her mouth as she coughed.  “Amrâlimê?  How do you know that word?”

 

“Kili.”

 

“Oh Mahal.” DAMMIT KILI – WHAT ARE YOU GETTING YOURSELF INTO?  Amayla held her head in her hands, she grimaced before answering.  “Do you care for him?”

 

Tauriel took a deep breath, closed her eye and replied, “yes.”

 

“It means ‘my love.’  Amayla paused before asking, “Has he given you anything?”

 

“Just this,” Tauriel answered pulling the rune stone out of her pocket. 

 

Amayla immediately recognized it as the one that Dis had given to Kili.   “Well, that doesn’t count as a courting gift, so you aren’t there yet.” 

 

“He has spoken about a bead but wants to wait until his mother returns to Erebor.”

 

“Tauriel, do you understand that Kili is proposing marriage to you?”

 

“I thought as much, but was not certain.”

 

“And you will accept him?”

 

“There is much to think about.  Would you approve?”

 

“My approval is the least of your concern!” Amayla put her hand on the elf’s arm.  “Tauriel, I like you very much and I care for Kili like a brother.  I want nothing but the best for you, but . . .”

 

“But you think that an elf and a dwarf could never work; especially a dwarf of royal blood and a simple woodland elf.”   Tauriel jerked her arm away, standing with her back to Amayla.

 

“NO!  I don’t think that at all,” Amayla stood, moving in front of the elf again.  “If Mahal has chosen you as Kili’s one, then the differences should mean nothing.  But you will face many obstacles.  I cannot imagine what Thorin will say, or Thranduil for that matter, but I really don’t envy you facing Dis, Kili’s mother.  But what I was going to say is that Kili is very young.”

 

“I know the age difference is great, but . . . “

 

“No. I’m not talking age differences.  I mean simply that Kili is young.  He is not yet 80.  It is unheard of for a dwarf to marry before 80.  Actually, 90 is considered young but acceptable, although I know of at least one couple who married at 86.  Kili doesn’t even have a proper beard yet!” 

 

“I don’t mind his beard.”

 

“The lack of beard is a sign that he is not an adult yet.”

 

“So you do not approve.”

 

“I do approve of the two of you as a couple, Tauriel.  I would support you both whatever happens, but I would advise you to take some time.  He is young and you aren’t getting any older.”

 

“I will think about what you have said, Amayla.  Thank you.”

 

They saddled back up, and returned to Mirkwood, both females with unsettled minds. 

 

~~~~~

 

Meanwhile, back in Erebor that same evening

 

Thorin was tired, physically and mentally.  Despite being the king, Thorin was helping with the manual labor needed to restore Erebor and make it habitable for returnees.  Dain had left several compaies of soldiers behind and they were split between patrolling and rebuilding.  The first job was to recover all the bodies and bury them.  Most had been found and buried in a large mass grave in the bowels of Erebor.   When more masons returned to them mountain, Thorin planned a huge monument marking the graves.   That work took most of the first two months and while some soldiers recovered bodies, others were on dragon scat duty.  All trace of dragon remains needed to be removed.  The sorting of the treasury was left to Gloin and Nori as Thorin was still slightly worried about gold sickness.  Bofur and Bifur were sent to try and reopen the mines.  Although they both were excellent toy makers, their true calling was mining.  The entrance to the mines had sustained heavy damage by Smaug and it would take weeks of back-breaking work to clear it.  Thorin usually worked in the mines in the morning, as there were simply not enough dwarves around to do the needed work.  But he much preferred that work to the afternoons when Balin had Thorin up to his neck in paperwork or meetings.  Letters were being dispatched, trade arranged, and plans drawn up for Erebor’s future. 

 

After an especially grueling day, Thorin just wanted dinner, a bath, and sleep.   There had been a breakthrough in the mines, but it had taken an extraordinary effort to remove an especially large slab of rock.  Several dwarves had been injured in the effort, thankfully, nothing life-threatening.  Dori reported that additional bodies had been found in a previously unexplored wing in the upper levels which meant more funerals.  And Thorin was tired of funerals.  As he headed back to his quarters, Balin stopped him explaining that an envoy of King Thranduil had just ridden in and wanted to see him immediately.

 

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” Thorin grumbled.

 

“He’s quite insistent, your majesty.”

 

“Can’t you handle it?”

 

“I’m afraid that he will speak only to you.”

 

“Mahal,” Thorin swore, “What does that tree-hugger want now?  I will give him two minutes!”

 

Thorin strode into the throne room where the elf was waiting for him.  “What is so important to Thranduil that it cannot wait a day?”

 

The elf stared with the customary niceties before Thorin interrupted him, “I am not in the mood for pleasantries.  Please state your business and be quick about it!”

 

“Yes, your majesty.  The last dwarf we have in our healing halls is ready to leave and . . .”

 

“And what? Is Thranduil looking for some sort of payment from me?”

 

“No, of course not, your majesty.  He wants to discuss the destination for said dwarf.”

 

“That’s it?  Send the dwarf back to their garrison.  I do not have time for such trivia!”

 

“But your majesty, my king wanted to make certain  . . . “

 

“Enough!  Just tell your king to send the dwarf home!  Now if there is nothing else, I would like my dinner!”

 

“Of course, your majesty.  My apologies for keeping you from it.”

Chapter Text

Back in Mirkwood, Amayla did not sleep well.  She woke up several times during the night thinking that somebody was calling her name.  The fourth time she heard it, she didn’t open her eyes.  She kept listening until she was certain that it was her father’s voice she was hearing.  Ardru!  I need to see Ardru.  I need to go home.  If Thorin welcomes me, I will go for a day and then start back.  If he does not, then I will be that much closer to home.   With that decision made, Amayla was able to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.

 

The next morning, Amayla met Tauriel in the sparring rings.  The elf beat her, but Amayla felt her instincts returning.  At full strength, Amayla was certain that she would give the elf a much better fight.  Amayla then took Tauriel to the armory where she pulled out each weapon that she was certain belonged to the company.  Tauriel promised to see them returned.  They followed that up with archery practice.  They were both shocked when Thranduil arrived shortly after they started.  Everyone stopped and bowed to the elven king, but he brushed them all off with a wave of his hand. 

                                                                                                                             

“Please continue.  I wanted to see Amayla shoot for myself.  I find it hard to believe a dwarf can be as good as an elf.” 

 

Amayla rolled her eyes at Thrandruil and proceeded.  Surprisingly, she wasn’t nervous.  Amayla had spent too many hours with a bow to worry about being watched, even if it was a king watching.  She was rewarded with clapping from his majesty when the two finished their rounds.  Tauriel shot Amayla a glance, wide-eyed, never having seen her king act in such a relaxed manner. 

 

“You shoot quite well Amayla.  I am impressed, especially since you use such a puny bow.”   He walked up to her, holding out his hand, “May I?”

 

Amayla gave him her bow and stood back next to Tauriel to watch.  Tauriel’s face was still frozen in disbelief.  Thandruil fired off several shots, each one with deadly accuracy. 

 

“It is a fine bow, but I doubt you will have the distance that elvens bows have,” he remarked as he handed it back to Amayla.  “And I don’t think you could possible shoot two arrows with this.  Pity.”

 

“Two arrows? At one time?” Amayla questioned.  “I’ve never heard of such a thing.  It that possible?”

 

Thranduil smirked and nodded at Tauriel.

 

The red-head pulled out two arrows, set her bow and fired.  Both arrows landed with inches of each other. 

 

“Very nice Tauriel.  But I’m curious, why would you use two arrows?  Can you hit separate targets?”

 

“Not really.  At least not out in the world.  It is more for contests, really,” Tauriel admitted. 

 

Thranduil frowned at the elf, and turned quickly to Amayla.  “Come join me for lunch.  I do not wish to sit in another council meeting and I would like to hear more about your home and the forest around it.”

 

Lunch was a leisurely affair.  Amayla told the king about life in Gorvuud and stories about bears.  She even witnessed a rare Thranduil smile when she told him the story of her bear tooth necklace which made the loss of the necklace a little less harsh.  The food was delicious, but every time Amayla felt that lunch was over, Thranduil would call for something new and delicious to be served.  Finally, after another plate of fruit tarts was brought in, Amayla threw in her napkin.  “Enough!  I am not a hobbit.  If I eat another bite, I will explode,” she moaned. 

 

“Do hobbits eat a great deal?”

 

“Yes, they do!”  And she proceeded to tell the king about Foldram and what she knew about hobbit eating habbits.

 

“They are a most interesting race.   I must admit that the hobbit with the company . . “

 

“Bilbo.”

 

“Yes, Bilbo.  He surprised me greatly.  I would still like to know how he managed to slip into my halls and hide undetected for so long.  And then to steal the keys to the dungeons right from under the nose of the keeper of the keys!  I’m sure you know that he no longer has THAT responsibility!”

 

Amayla chuckled at the memory but had no intention of revealing Bilbo’s secret.  “Hobbits are incredibly light on their feet.  Bilbo snuck up on me several times and I pride myself on not letting that happen.  I think because of their size that other races simply underestimate them.  I am no expert on hobbits, but the ones I’ve met were honorable and charming.  They love their homes and families as much as any other race.”

 

“Perhaps I should learn more about these creatures.”

 

“First you should stop referring to them as creatures!  But you could try asking Glorfindel.  He was planning spending time with them after we left Rivendell.  He was going to take some letters and gifts to Foldram and his family for me.” 

 

At the mention of Glorfindel, Thranduil rolled his eyes.

 

“What have you got against Glorfindel?  I found him most charming!”

 

“Of course you did.  Its not hard to be charming when you have no responsibilities to worry you.  Everyone fawning over you, ‘Gorfindel tell us about the balrog! Glorfindel, you have such beautiful golden hair!’ You realize that he failed and yet everyone thinks he such a marvelous warrior!”

 

“He didn’t fail.  He killed the balrog.”

 

“But he died doing it.  That’s a failure to me.”

 

“Wow! You better watch yourself your majesty.  I think your eyes are turning green.”

 

Dripping with sarcasm, Thranduil continued, “And now he’s just going off to spend time with some hobbits.  Nothing better to do!  No meetings to attend.  No disputes to settle.  No worries that his people can grow their crops in peace; that orcs won’t come and burn all the storage.  No dwarves that you have to be nice to when you’d rather . .”

 

“I don’t think you should finish that statement, your majesty,” Amayla warned.

 

Focusing back on Amayla, the king stopped, “I apologize Amayla.  Of course I’m not speaking about you; rather, your king who can’t be bothered to respond to my letter!  He doesn’t deserve to have you return.”   He calmed himself and looked deeply at Amayla, “If he is foolish enough to not rescind the banishment, you are most welcome to stay here as long as you wish.  I am certain we can find a position here worthy of your talents.” 

 

Stunned, tears immediately filled Amayla’s eyes, “I thank you most sincerely, your majesty.  I really do.  That is kind beyond words.  But no matter if Thorin allows me in to Erebor or not, I plan on returning to Gorvuud as soon as possible.  I need to see my father and I worry that I do not have much time.”

 

“I understand.  And I will help you with whatever you need.”  The great king then gestured toward his chessboard which was set up near the balcony.  “Now, why don’t you come and let me beat you in chess once again.”

 

“Are you so certain that you will beat me this time?”

 

“Yes,” came the very blunt reply.

 

Amayla threw her arms up in frustration, frowning, “Then why do you keep on playing against me?”

 

“Because you give you give me a good game.  I’ve been playing aginst these others for centuries and I usually know how I will defeat them within five moves.  You, however, play quite differently and cause me to think, which I enjoy.”

 

“Well I guess that’s a compliment.  At least I make you think.”

 

“Of course it is a compliment.”

 

“If you enjoy playing against me, you should try Princess Dis sometime.  She taught me everything I know.”

 

“Dis? That is Oakenshield’s sister, is it not?”

 

“Yes.  She helped raise a bunch of us orphans after Erebor fell.”

 

“Hmmmm,” was his only response. 

 

They sat down to play during which Thranduil started peppering her with questions.

 

“How old are you?”

 

“154 now.”

 

“Hmmmm. Quite young.”

 

“Not for a dwarf.”

 

“Of course.  How old is Ardru?”

 

“382.  Very old for a dwarf.”

 

“You are not married?”

 

“Are you trying to distract me?  Worried that I might beat you this time?”

 

“No.  And you didn’t answer the question.”

 

“No, I’m not married,” she answered tersely, moving her piece quite abruptly.

 

“Did I hit a sore spot?” he replied calmly as he captured one of her pieces causing her to swear softly.

 

“No.  I’m just tying to concentrate and you’re distracting me!”

 

“My apologies.  Checkmate.”

 

“Damn!”

 

During their third game, a guard came in announcing that Lord Arodir had returned. 

 

Amayla’s hand grasped the edges of the table, her knuckles turning white, as she inhaled sharply.  Thranduil looke at her closely, “Would you like me to talk to him alone first?”

 

Amayla shook her head no, “I just want to know.”

 

Lord Arodir came in and bowed to his king.  With a face impossible to read, he looked to Thranduil, glanced at Amayla, and back to Thranduil before saying anything. 

 

Thranduil instructed to him to proceed.

 

“King Thorin said she should go home to her garrison.”

 

At those words, Amayla froze, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to keep the tears from falling. 

 

Thranduil reacted much differently. He whipped the back of his hand across the chess board causing all the pieces to clatter across the stone floor.  He muttered something that Amayla couldn’t understand, but was quite certain was not polite. 

 

“He is a stupid fool!” He slammed his fist on the table.

 

Amayla approached him, putting her hand gently on his.  “Peace your majesty,” she spoke softly.  “It is over.  I think we both knew that this would be his answer.”

 

He took her hand in his, “I will go myself . . .”

 

Amayla covered his hand with her other, looking into his clear blue eyes, “No you won’t.  It is my king’s decision and a fair one.  I must face the consequences of my actions.  You would not want another ruler questioning your decision.  Leave it be.”

 

He patted her hands before releasing them, “You’ll be returning to the Gorvuud then?”

 

“Yes, as soon as possible.”

 

“I will see that you have everything you need.”

 

“Thank you your majesty, and thank you Lord Arodir.  I will take my leave.”  She bowed and left. 

 

.

.

 

The next morning, Amayla was packed and ready to go.  She said her good-byes to Nestor, Eliril, and Berion before heading down to the stable.  She was pleased to see Thandruil and Tauriel waiting for her, but was surprised that Tauriel appeared dressed to travel. 

 

“Are you returning to Dale?” Amayla asked.

 

“I will be accompanying you, along with a patrol guard, to Rivendell,” Tauriel answered smiling.

 

“You did not think that I would allow you to travel alone?” Thranduil asked.

 

“I did not expect this!  This was unnecessary, your majesty.”

 

“I have missives that need to go to Lord Elrond and I know that I can count on Captain Tauriel to carry them. It is a simple chance of timing that you leave at the same time.”

 

Amayla just smiled at the king as she walked to the same horse she had ridden previously.  She arranged her weapons and pack on its back before returning the king. 

 

She tilted her head back and looked into his eyes, “Thank you for everything.”  She pressed her hand to her heart and extended it toward him.

 

He responded with a hand to his own heart, “Safe journey, and you are welcome back always.”  With that, he extended his hand to her and bowed his head. 

 

.

 

The travel to Rivendell was uneventful.  The other elves had made the journey before and led them to a pass through the Misty Mountains further south than the one Thorin’s company had taken on the journey east.  This one was passable by horse.  The weather was starting to warm but the ground had not thawed completely, making their travel easy and swift.   Amayla had some guilt over causing Tauriel’s separation from Kili, but when she tried to talk to the red-head about it, Tauriel wouldn’t let her.  The other elves got used to Amayla although they did grumble about the amount of sleep she needed.  Amayla, for her part, tried her best to get by on as few hours sleep as her still recuperating body would allow.  Because they had been well stocked for the journey, there was no need to hunt along the way making their arrival in Rivendell much sooner than Amayla expected. 

 

It was late afternoon as they entered Rivendell through its main gate, the setting sun providing a dazzling light display as the last beams of the day bounced off the myriad waterfalls.   They were greated by elves who took their mounts from them and turned to a dark-haired elf who seemed to be in charge.  Amayla smiled when she recognized Lindir approaching them much as he had when she arrived with the company.  Then, he had looked disdainfully upon the dwarves; this time, his pretty face registerd full-on disbelief when he locked eyes with Amayla.  Tauriel stepped forward, making the necessary introductions, and asked to be taken to Lord Elrond so that she could deliver the missives from her king.  Lindir frowned at Amayla one more time before leading the way. 

 

They were led into the same room that Amayla had been in to discuss the incident with the bear.  Lindir immediately went to Elrond’s side and whispered in his ear.  In one graceful movement, he sprung to his feet, eyes finding Amayla’s. 

 

“Can it be?” he wondered aloud.  “Mistress Amayla?”

 

“Aye, M’Lord Elrond.  It is nice to see you again.” She replied, hand on her heart.

 

Elrond return the greeting as he moved in front of her.  He softly lifted her chin up as he smiled down at her.  “I am not often caught by surprise, but this is a most pleasant one.  We were told you had fallen.”

 

“No m’lord.  Just wounded.  Thanks to King Thranduil, I am fully recovered.” 

 

The elf-healer looked her up and down, scrutinizing her closely.  “Yes, your injuries are healed, but you are not yet fully recovered.  You have been pushing yourself too hard.  You must rest while you are here.  You shall have your same room.  I know there are others here who also will be most pleased to see you, along with a certain pony?”

 

“I thank you m’lord.  Yes, I am hoping to go to the stables next.  And I do intend to rest, but not too long.  I want to get back to Gorvuud as quickly as possible.”  She paused for a moment before continiuing, “M’lord? How did you come to hear that I had fallen?”

 

“Gandalf and Master Baggins rode through here not two weeks past.  They gave us the news.”

 

“Only two weeks?!  I might be able to catch them yet!”

 

“Unlikely, as you must rest before resuming your journey.  Now, go see your pony, and then to your room.  I will have food sent up.  I am anxious to hear your tale, but it will wait until tomorrow.”  Elrond gently chided her before sending her off. 

 

Her meeting with Tigr was brief and sweet.  The pony was happy to see her and Amayla could see that he had been well taken care of.  She brushed his mane and talked to him for awhile before deep exhaustion fell over her like a leaden blanket. 

 

She managed her way back to her old room where she found Tiala waiting for her with a tray of food.  The elf grabbed Amayla by her hands and babbled on about her joy at seeing her alive after being told differently.  Finally recognizing Amayla’s tired state, Tialla apologized and let Amayla start to eat.  The elf then drew Amayla a bath and promised to once again wash her clothes while she slept.  The bath was as luxurious as Amayla remembered but she was too tired to fully enjoy it.  She forced herself to wash her hair and scrub herself clean so that she could get out, dry herself off, and fall into bed. 

 

When Amayla woke up the next day, she was confused.  Usually when she woke up in Rivendell, the light was streaming in from the window and the birds were chirping their morning songs, but none of that was happening.  She looked around and saw her freshly laundered clothes sitting in a neat pile next to a plate of fruit and cheese.  Wrapping her old robe around her, she padded to the table and started to eat as her stomach was acting like it hadn’t eaten in a day. 

 

Tialla knocked on the door shortly thereafter.  “I’m glad to see you have finally awoken.  I was beginning to think that I would have to call Lord Elrond to check on you.”  Seeing Amayla’s confused frown, the elf continued.  “Amayla it is well into the afternoon.  You have slept most of the day away.  But I am glad you are up so that you will not miss dinner.  Your friend Tauriel has been asking after you.  She said to tell you that she would be in the sparring rings or near the main fountain in the courtyard.  You do have a few hours before you will need to get dressed.  Your purple dress is hanging in the wardrobe for you.”

 

“The afternoon?  No wonder that I am so hungry!  And I blame the bed.  It is by far the most comfortable one that I have ever slept in!” laughed the dwarf.

 

“I’m pleased you like it.” 

 

Amayla finally got dressed and searched out Tauriel.  She found her sitting on a bench near a beautiful multi-teared fountain next to the falling river. 

 

Tauriel smiled at her friend as she approached.  “Did you rest well?”

 

Amayla chuckled, “Yes, very!  I guess Lord Elrond was right when he warned me that I needed to rest.  I do feel much better now.  And how are you enjoying Imladris?”

 

“It is more beautiful than I ever imagined.  Everywhere you look, there is peace – gardens, waterfalls, and fountains like this!”

 

Amayla burst out laughing.

 

“Whats so funny?”

 

“There was a time when this particular fountain was not so peaceful.”

 

“Yes . . . “

 

“When we stopped here on our journey, the entire company – except me, Thorin, and Bilbo – all decided to use this fountain to clean up before dinner.”

 

A look of horror crossed the red-head’s face, “Used how?”

 

“From what I was told, they stripped naked and had a grand old time, put on quite a show.  I’m somewhat surprised that Lord Elrond didn’t tear down the whole thing!”

 

“No!  Did you see it?”

 

“No, thankfully, I did not.  But I heard about it.  I think it will go down in Dwarven legend!  Bofur has probably written a song about it!”

 

“Kili too?”

 

“Kill too!”

 

“Completely naked?”

 

“I’m afraid so.  There are elves here in Rivendell that have seen more of your beloved than you have Tauriel!”

 

At that, Tauriel’s cheeks flushed as red as her hair. 

 

“By the way, I wanted to say something to you about Kili on the trip, but you didn’t seem to want to talk then.  Is it alright now?”

 

“Yes.  I didn’t want to talk then because we elves have excellent hearing and I was afraid the others would overhear.”

 

“I just wanted to say that I was sorry that you were sent to accompany me on my return.  I can imagine that you would rather be back at Dale where you could see Kili.  And I’m sure that Thranduil sent you both as a favor to me but as a reward for you.”

 

“A reward?”

 

“I spoke to Thranduil about your desire to see the world.  I hope I wasn’t out of line.  It was before I knew anything about you and Kili.”

 

“No.  You were not out of line and it is probably for the best.  I did very much want to see Imladris and it may help me figure out my feelings for Kili if we are appart for awhile.  We’re going to Lothlorien on the way back.  I’ll get to meet Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn!” 

 

“Lady Galadriel is amazing.  I’m still not exactly certain of what went on when I met her, but she was very nice.”

 

They sat and looked at the fountain for a few minutes. 

 

“And have you figured out anything about Kili?” the dwarf asked.

 

“Just that I miss him, very much.”

 

Amayla gave Tauriel’s hand a squeeze.  “I’m sure everything will work out for you two.  Now come, and I’ll introduce you to my pony before dinner!”

 

At dinner, Amayla and Tauriel joined Lord Elrond in his quarters for a private dinner, with Gildor and Erestor.  Amayla was disappointed that neither Glorfindel nor any of Elrond’s sons were in Rivendell to join them, but the two new elves were quite charming.  Tauriel had complained to Amayla that she was not worthy to be included in such a meal, but Amayla just shushed her and dragged her along.  Much of the dinner conversation was about what had been happening in Erebor and Dale since the Battle of the Five Armies.  Gandalf had filled the elves of Imladris in on much of the battle details but Elrond was interested to hear the two females’ version.  Amayla could not add much to the conversation regarding Erebor and Dale, but the usually shy Tauriel grew in confidence as the meal went on, expanding on Gandalf’s dated information.  When Elrond questioned Amayla about eventually returning to Erebor, Amayla stated simply that she needed to be with her father and could make no plans past seeing him.  That was what she planned on telling anyone who asked as it was the truth and served to end the conversation.  She talked about going to the Shire and visiting Bilbo to let him know that she was alive, before heading north to the Blue Mountains and Gorvuud.  It was then that Gildor extended an offer to Amayla to join with him on his journey west to Emyn Beraid, or the North Towers as they were known in the common tongue.  It was just beyond the Shire and it would be better for her to travel with others. As Gildor’s group was planning on leaving in two days, Amayla readily agreed.    

 

Saying good-bye to Tauriel the next day was much harder on Amayla than she expected.  Tauriel was not only her friend, but also was her last link to Erebor, the company, and the reality of what had happened.  Going forward would mean half-truths and glossing over details, trying to share and yet trying to hold back those stories that couldn’t be fully revealed. 

 

When the final good-byes were said, Amayla forced Tauriel into another hug.  “I don’t care if elves don’t hug, I’m not letting you go without one,” she blubbered through tears.  She then stood back, and gave the official elven good-bye, “Safe travels, and may Mahal bless you.”   To which, Tauriel smiled and returned, “Safe travels to you, and may the Valar look over you.”

 

Amayla spent the rest of the day preparing for her journey and resting.  It was decided that she would keep her horse, as it had been a gift from Thranduil, and that Tigr would follow on a long lead.  They packed some supplies on the pony but didn’t want to overload him as he would already be slowing down the group.  There was simply nothing that could be done about it as Amayla was not going to leave her pony behind again. 

 

The journey with Gildor and the three other elves was unremarkable and for Amayla, grew to be boring.  Granted there were no orcs chasing them or trolls threatening to eat them, but there were also no bawdy songs sung by Bofur, no sparring sessions with the princes, and no late-night watches with Dwalin.  Despite her efforts to forget him, whenever one of the elves would wake her, her heart would leap for the briefest of seconds, thinking it was her one waking her.  Her travelling companions were polite and kind.  They even started teaching her some Sindarin, for which she was grateful.  Still, she was becoming more anxious to reach the Shire and return to Gorvuud. 

Chapter Text

At long last, they reached the Shire.  As Amayla had long ago lost her detailed map to Bag End, they stopped and got directions from a friendly farmer.  She bid a very fond farewell to her travelling companions as they continued Westward.  She had been considering how to approach Bilbo.  She hoped that he would be outside and see her coming; but as it was getting dark, she guessed that he would be inside fixing whatever meal it was time for.  The closer she got, the more excited she felt and soon her horse started tossing her head in reaction.  Finally, Amayla got down and started to lead her horse, with Tigr trailing behind. 

 

There were lights on inside as Amayla tied her horses to the in inside of the gate.  She planned to move them before they started eating Bilbo’s prized flowers.  She peered in the window, noting that the inside looked a little more bare than she remembered.  She knocked and waited.  Then she knocked again.  Her heart began to race as the door started to creak open.  Finally, he was there, standing open-mouthed in a patchwork robe. 

 

“Hello Bilbo!”

 

The hobbit stood blinking at Amayla, hand patting his chest, his mouth opened as if to speak before his eyes rolled back and he fainted on the spot. 

 

Amayla gathered up the fallen hobbit and took him to the inside.  The room was almost completely empty and there was no place to put the hobbit in the front.  After trying several doors, Amayla finally found a bed to lay him on.  She quickly found some water and a towel and revived Bilbo. 

 

“Am I dead?” he croaked out when his eyes focused on Amayla.

 

“No.  And neither am I.” 

 

Bilbo struggled to sit up.  “Amayla.  I can’t believe you’re alive.”

 

“I am. Believe me.  Now, how do you feel?  Can you sit up?  Here, have some water.”

 

Bilbo took a few swallows and then set down his cup.  All the time, his eyes never left Amayla’s face.

 

He broke out in a full smile, reached up and touched her cheek and whispered, “You’re alive!”

 

“I told you that I was planning on watching you grow old and round, and I never go back on my word!” The two embraced with tears flowing freely. 

 

When they finally let each other go, Amayla couldn’t help looking around and asking where all the furniture was. 

 


“Lobelia Sacksville-Baggins!  She had me declared dead and auctioned off almost everything!  I got home just in time to save a few beds and the family silver, but all the rest was gone and nobody will return anything.  They claim that the paid far and square for it, so they’re keeping it!  My mother’s glory box, my dining table, all my chairs, most of my books, it’s a disaster!”

 

“Oh Bilbo!  That’s awful.  I’m so sorry.  I promise that I will help you get everything back, but first things first,” Amayla looked at the hobbit seriously, “do you have any food?  I’m really tired of the lembas bread I’ve been eating lately.”

 

Bilbo shook his head and laughed, “Now you sound like a hobbit!  Of course I have food.  I don’t have matching dishes to serve anything on, but I do have food!”

 

“Something other than trout-a-la-Bilbo I’m hoping?”

 

“Yes, but I will make you try that while you’re here!”

 

The two sat in the kitchen enjoying eating and talking.  Bilbo told her the story of returning with Beorn and Gandalf and Amayla explained how she had been in Mirkwood for those many months. 

 

“Why didn’t you go back to Erebor?”

 

“I am still banished,” she shrugged, voice catching.

 

“No, Amayla, that can’t be true.  Thorin dropped my banishment, I’m certain he did for you too.”

 

“Bilbo, I wrote, Thranduil wrote, and even sent his top advisor.  Thorin told him to send me home to the garrison.  It’s different for me.  I pledged my service to Thorin but then I stole from him and struck him.”

 

“I pledged my service also.”

 

“But you only gave away something that you could claim was your share of the treasure.  I had no claims on the treasure and I struck my king.  I am a soldier and a dwarf.  I’m held to a different standard.  I just wish . . . I just wish that I could have said good-bye to everyone though, even just a letter from one of them.”

 

“You wrote to them all, even . . .”

 

“Aye, even him.  Nobody responded.  I assume that Thorin has forbidden it.” 

 

“What will you do now?”

 

“I’m going back to Gorvuud.  I need to see my father.  I’ll be alright Bilbo.”

 

“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you like Amayla.  I hope you know that.  Even though I don’t much hospitality to offer at the moment.” He sighed heavily as he looked around the empty, messy room. 

 

“Unfortunately, I can only stay for a few days.  I feel the need to reach my father quickly.  But before I leave, I will help you get back as much as your furniture as possible.  Do you know where most of it is?”

 

“Yes.  The auction company gave me a list, but they won’t return their fee.  They said that they performed their duty and will not give up their pay for it.  I’ve talked to a few neighbors that have some of the pieces and they won’t give them back without me paying for it.”

 

“Too bad you gave your share of the treasure to Dale.  You wouldn’t have to worry about paying anybody back if you had that.”

 

“I don’t regret that at all.  Besides, there would have been no way for me to bring it all back to the Shire.  But Gandalf and I did make one stop on the way, so I do have a fair amount of gold available to me.  It stinks though,” Bilbo said smiling. 

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Remember the troll cave?  You could say that I made a hefty withdrawal!”

 

“You mean the treasure that Nori, Gloin, and Bofur buried?” Amayla laughed.

 

“The very same!  I intend to use it to buy back my things!  And I find it very appropriate that the gold stinks.  It will serve those right!”

 

“Indeed!  And it may just help to have a fully armed Dwarven guard standing next to you when you ask for your things back!” 

 

“Agreed!  First thing tomorrow!  But I’m certain that you are tired and would like to sleep in a real bed tonight.”

 

“I couldn’t agree more!”

 

The next day, they borrowed a small cart from Hamfast Gamgee, hitched up Tigr, and started making the rounds to buy back Bilbo’s furniture.  Amayla led Tigr as the stench of the Troll gold spooked him and Amayla herself wanted as far away from it as possible.  At each stop, Amayla stood silently next to Bilbo, with her sword at her side, one throwing ax in her belt, and the other blatantly laying against her chest.  She did her best imitation of Dwalin which resulted in none of the hobbits arguing with Bilbo. 

 

The first day was a complete success with Bilbo retrieving his mother’s glory box, his writing desk, arm chair, several of his dining chairs, his mother’s china, and most of his books.  The second day was not as successful.  He did repurchase his poof, and a small side table, but when they went to a distant cousin’s home to reclaim his dining table, they met total resistance.  (Kudos to The Lord of the Rings Project for their geneology of Bilbo Baggins.  I picked a relative that seemed to be the right generation and had the needed offspring.)

 

“I don’t care how much gold you offer Bilbo Baggins, I will not sell it!”

 

“Milo Burrows, that table has been in my family for generations!”

 

“And it has been in Peony’s family just as long!  And it fits our family!  We have four young ones now and needed a bigger table.  It was for sale and I bought it!  It’s not our fault that you went galavanting off with a bunch of dwarves to who knows where, doing who knows what!”

 

Amayla took a step forward to stand next to Bilbo, hand resting on next to her sword. 

 

The irate hobbit took note of her but didn’t back down.  “And you can tell your dwarf friend there that I don’t care how many weapons she’s carrying.  I’M NOT GOING TO SELL!”

 

Amayla looked to Bilbo who nodded slightly.  She then stepped out of the little home only to see four small hobbits of varyings ages staring at her.   The second she smiled at them, they started peppering her with questions. 

 

“Are you a real dwarf?  What’s your name?  Are those weapons real?  Can I touch your sword? Are you going to fight our father?  Have you ever killed someone? Have you ever seen a dragon?  Are you really friends with Mr. Bilbo? Did he really fight a dragon?”

 

Amayla held up her hands in surrender and then plopped down on the bench next to the front door.  “Stop!  Wait a second!  Let me answer!  Let’s see, I think the correct answers are:  yes, I’m a dwarf and my name is Amayla.  Yes, I’m a friend of Bilbo’s and yes, he really fought a dragon.  Yes, the weapons are real and no, you can’t touch my sword.”

 

“Dang it!” replied the eldest boy, kicking at the dirt.

 

“Now, I’ve given you my name.  Its only polite to give me yours.”

 

Moro, Myrtle, Minto, and Mosco all gave their names. 

 

“Tell me Myrtle, what do you think of your new table?”

 

The little hobbit squeaked in an adorable voice, “I like it! It’s nice and big and everybody can fit around it even when Nana and Papa come!” 

 

Moro spoke up, adding, “Ma really likes it.  She cried when father brought it home.”

 

Minto looked up to Amayla with huge saucer eyes and asked, “Is Mr. Bilbo going to take it back?”  While, Mosco, the youngest, stood with his thumb in his mouth staring at her. 

 

The cuteness completely overwhelmed her.  “No, no he’s not.  I’ll go make certain of it.”

 

Amayla walked in as Bilbo and Milo appeared ready to come to blows.  They stood nose to nose, belly to belly, with a female hobbit, who Amayla could only presume was Peony, pulling on her husband’s arms.   Amayla strode over and separated the two, pushing them apart. 

 

With her back to the couple, Amayla looked into Bilbo’s eyes and softly whispered, “Let it go Bilbo.  Let them keep it.”

 

When he wriggled his nose and frowned at her, Amayla asked him to trust her. 

 

Disgusted, Bilbo threw up his hands and walked out of the house. 

 

Amayla turned to the angry husband and petrified wife, “We apologize for causing you any distress.  We know you’ll treasure the table as much as Bilbo has.  You have a lovely family.” 

 

Bilbo sat fuming on the wagon seat as they drove away.  “What was that all about?  I wanted that table back.  I loved that table!”

 

“And so does Peony.  She will take good care of it.  Milo was right.  You don’t need a table that big.” 

 

“Well now I don’t have a table at all!”

 

“And I know the perfect hobbit to help you with that.”

 

“Who?’

 

“Iris Brandybuck’s husband.”

 

“Frodrik?”

 

“If that’s his name.  He makes the most beautiful tables you have ever seen!”

 

When Bilbo looked at her with total disbelief, she burst out laughing.  “Just come with me, you’ll see.  It’ll be an adventure!”

 

“Hrmpf!  Just what I DON’T need, another adventure!”

 

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.

 

Despite his trepidations, Bilbo was off and riding Tigr at the morning’s first light.  Once again it took about four hours to reach the north side of the Shire and the Brandybuck farm.  Foldram saw them first and started shouting.  He was in the corn field with his father, the stalks almost reaching his chin.  The young hobbit immediately dropped his hoe, and took off running toward Amayla and Bilbo.  Amayla urged her horse into a gallop and quickly reached the excited hobbit.  He climbed through the fence and launched himself at her as soon as she slid down from her horse. 

 

“Amayla, Amayla!  You’ve come back!  I knew you would come!  I knew it!”

 

“Of course I came back Foldram!  Its so good to see you!  Look at how much you’ve grown!”

 

Bilbo and Frodrik arrived at about the same time, from opposite directions.  Foldram was so excited that it was difficult for the adults to make their formal introductions. 

 

“Please come inside,” Frodrik offered politely, “Its just about time for second breakfast and I’m sure Iris has enough to feed a few guests!” 

 

“You have a horse now Amayla, can I ride him?”

 

“This is a girl horse Foldram.  Her name in Elvish means Nightmist because she was born at night when there was a mist in the air, but I just call her Mist for short.  But how about you stick to riding Tigr.  You did so well with him the last time I was here.  With your father’s permission, of course.”

 

“Can I pa? Pleeeeeeaaaaassssee?”

 

“Aye, but I’ll lead him.  And just to the barn!”  Frodrik chuckled while lifting him onto the pony’s back. 

 

Amayla walked next to Frodrik as they walked back to the barn.  “I hope you don’t mind us just dropping in unannounced, but I promised Foldram that I would stop by on my way back to the Blue Mountains and Bilbo here has some business with you, but that can wait until we get inside.” 

 

Once inside, Amayla gave hugs to all the excited girls and even a smiling Iris. 

 

As they sat down to eat, Bilbo’s eyes lit up upon seeing the dining table. 

 

“Isn’t it beautiful Bilbo?” Amayla whispered as she nudged him.  “I did not exaggerate when I told you it was the most beautiful table I’ve ever seen.”

 

“No, you did not!”

 

During the meal Foldram and Iris told stores about Glorfindel and his companions showing up on their doorstep.  For their part, Bilbo and Amayla glossed over most of the details of their journey, although Bilbo insisted on letting them know that Amayla very bravely killed Azog and saved the King, while Amayla spoke of Bilbo facing down the dragon.  The children were mesmerized.  The girls were excited to show off the toys that Bifur had made them and Foldram could barely stay in his seat as he was so anxious to show off his sword and get some lessons from Amayla.

 

“I promise that I have not hit any of my sisters or any living thing with it, just like you said.  I’ve only hit old Sam.”  His face was most solemn and he crossed his hand over his heart so emphasize his truthfulness. 

 

“And who is old Sam?” Amayla asked amused.

 

“He’s a scarecrow that pa and I made.  I’ve killed hm a bunch of times!”

 

“Very good.  You can show me after we clear the dishes.”

 

With his parent’s permission, Amayla and Foldram went out behind the house after eating.  Before she left, she pulled Bilbo aside and told him to be generous in his negotiations with Frodrik over a new table.  Over the next hour, Amayla put Foldram through the paces of beginner’s sword play.  The young hobbit took everything she said very seriously and worked deligently to master the steps he was being taught.  Though exhausted by the end, the smile on his face went from ear to ear. 

 

Back in the house, Amayla found the tree adults huddled at the dining table with papers spread all over.  Iris was drawing while Bilbo and Frodrik were making suggestions. 

 

“What’s going on?” Amayla asked.

 

“Amayla!  Great!  You should help.  Frodrik has agreed to make me a table and Iris is sketching out some ideas now.  Come look!”  Bilbo nearly shouted with enthusiasm. 

 

The center of the table was to be a fully grown oak tree, much like the party tree in the middle of the Shire.  In the corners were books, maps, and flowers, but they were having a hard time deciding on the fourth corner.

 

“It should be an acorn,” Amayla proposed softly, looking to Bilbo.

 

“Aye, it should be,” Bilbo answered, a strain to his voice. 

 

“And I have a suggestion for the border too, but I’ll have to show you,” Amayla stated as she reached for some paper. 

 

After a few moments, she showed them a series of lines, characters, and symbols that none of them could read. 

 

“It’s very pretty,” Iris remarked, “but what is it?”

 

“Is it Khuzdul?” Bilbo asked. 

 

“Aye.  It says that this is the table of Bilbo Baggins, friend to hobbits, elves, men, and dwarves, and protector of the line of Durin.”

 

“Am I allowed to have something writted in Khuzdul?”

 

“In this case, yes Bilbo.  You have more than earned it.”

 

By the time the last of the dinner dishes had been put away, Amayla was as ready to sleep as little Petal.  The had spent the rest of the day eating copious amounts of food, letting Foldram and the girls ride Tigr, putting on a sparring demonstration with Bilbo for the children, and eating even more food.   Amayla was given a bed in with the girls and Bilbo slept on the couch. 

 

The idea came to her when she and Foldram were taking care of Tigr and Mist.  Foldram was excellent with the pony, being extra careful with brushing him and giving him his feed.  And Tigr seemed to enjoy all his ministrations.  Amayla loved her pony but had really taken to riding a horse.  She loved the height of the horse and the speed when Mist went off on a full gallop.  She knew that if she rode Mist to Gorvuud that she could probably get there at least two days earlier than if Tigr were to come along. 

 

Finding Frodrik alone, she made him the offer that both tugged at her heart and made it swell with joy.  “Would you be interested in keeping Tigr? Could you use him?”

 

Frodrik froze for a moment and squinted his eyes in disbelief, “Are you offering to sell me your pony?”

 

“No.  I would not take money for him.  He would be a gift.  I know that Foldram would take excellent care of him.  I would ask that he get to visit a mare or two at times.”

 

“Well, yes, I could use him.  But are you sure?  Foldram had told us how much you love your pony.”

 

“Aye, I’m sure.  I have a horse now and I just want to make sure Tigr has a home where someone loves him as much as I do.” 

 

“Well you can rest assured of that.”

 

“Then it’s a deal.  Although I’m not sure how Bilbo is going to get home now.”

 

“No worries.  I need to go into Hobbiton to get some supplies and I’ll use Tigr to pull the wagon.  Bilbo can ride along.”

 

“Perfect.  I’ll be leaving at first light tomorrow.” 

 

“Thank you Amayla.  I don’t know what we did to deserve your friendship, but we’ll treasure it always.  You’ve brought a lot of excitement into our lives.  And you are welcome here anytime.” 

 

 

The next morning came with many tears.  Amayla said good-bye to the girls, Iris and Frodrik, Tigr and Foldram.  She couldn’t promise when, but did promise to come back and visit sometime.  She extended the invitation for them to visit the Blue Mountains but didn’t really expect them to take her up on the offer.  Finally, she had to say good-bye to Bilbo.  They were both blubbering messes. 

 

“If you feel the need for another adventure, just come and visit me.  I could show you all the bears in the forest.  Maybe we could find a tooth, and make you a necklace.  I’m sure that caravans will start flowing both ways, you could join one to visit.  Or maybe when the elves, like Glorfindel, come back through, you could talk them into coming to visit the Blue Mountains.  I’ll make certain that they are welcome.  Just please tell me, you’ll try and visit sometime Bilbo,” Amayla begged through her sobs. 

 

“I will.  And promise me that you will join one of those caravans and come and visit me.  You know that it won’t take long on that horse of yours.  You have to come and see my new table!  And I’ll write, all the time,” he rambled, hugging the dwarf as if his life depended on it. 

 

When they finally separated, Amayla quickly climbed onto Mist and rode off, without looking back. 

Chapter Text

Amalya’s trip back to Ered Luin was uneventful.  Iris had loaded her with food and when that ran out, she still had some elvish lembas left.  The weather was good and she made it in only five days, one sooner that she had hoped. 

 

When she arrived at the entrance to the primary settlement in the Blue Mountains, Amayla was halted as no one recognized a dwarf on a horse.  Not in the mood to be hassled, Amayla gave her title as a captain of Gorvuud, heir to Arudru, and ordered the guards on duty to stable her horse and direct her to the council chambers.  She had spent most of her trip trying to decide what to say, so when she was barged her way into the council meeting, she had her plan well layed out. 

 

“I bring news of the company of Thorin Oakenshield.  I will tell all when all parties are present.  I ask that Dis, daughter of Thrain, Alva, wife of Gloin, and Ilna, wife of Bombur are brought here.  Then, and only then, will I speak.  In the meantime, I will check on my horse, and find some food.  How long will it take?”

 

When the council members objected to the wait, Amayla simply stared them down, finally repeating herself, “How long will it take?!”

 

Eventually Telmar, the council chief, spoke, “It should take no longer than two hours.”

 

“Fine, I will be back then.”

 

After two hours, Amayla returned to the council chambers to see the council members, two dams she didn’t recognize, and Dis.  The dams especially looked stricken.  They held each other’s hand, desparately staring at Amayla for some sign of their loved one’s status.    

 

Amayla bowed to the assembly and began her well-thought out speech, “I am pleased to announce that Erebor has been retaken.  Smaug is dead and Thorin is king under the mountain.  All in the company are well.”

 

At that news, the dams shrieked their relief, alternating between laughing and crying, and hugging each other for joy. 

 

The councillors began peppering Amayla with questions, but she held up her hand, asking them to stop.  “That is all the information I have for you.  I will not answer any questions.  I will meet with Princess Dis and Councillor Temlar and then I will depart for Gorvuud.” 

 

There was much grumbling among all the other dwarves, but Telmar dismissed them until only he, Dis, and Amayla remained. 

 

Amayla began, “This information is for your ears only.  I would appreciate it if you keep it to yourselves.”  She looked both dwarves in the eyes before continuing, “I really do not have any additional information for you.  I did not come on behalf of the King.  I was sent home to Gorvuud.  I am not welcome in Erebor.” 

 

Dis and Temlar looked at each other before turning back to Amayla.

 

“I am not proud of what I did, but I also do not regret it.  Thorin had succumbed to gold sickness and was picking a war with elves and men.  I tried to stop it.  It didn’t work and I succeeded only in getting banished.”

 

“There was a war between dwarves, elves, and men?” Dis questioned.

 

“Briefly, but then orcs and goblins led by Azog and Bolg appeared and the the three races joined to fight together.  Azog and Bolg were killed and peace was reached between all.”

 

“And what of the dragon?” asked Temlar.

 

“Smaug was killed by Bard of Laketown, now King of Dale.”

 

“And my sons, they are alright?”

 

“Yes, Fili was injured, but has fully recovered.”

 

“Thank Mahal for that.  And my brother?  The gold sickness?”

 

“I was told that it no longer affects him.” 

 

“But you know nothing of the plans to resettle Erebor?” Temlar asked.

 

“No.  I know nothing about them.”

 

“And you will go back to Gorvuud?” he asked.

 

“Aye.  I wish to see my father.  I will stay there and return to my duties as captain.” 

 

“Then I suggest you do not waste any time.  The last I was told, he was fading.” 

 

“Thank you, sir.  If there is nothing else, I will take your advice and leave immediately.” She bowed to Dis, “Your highness.” 

 

“I will walk with you Amayla,” Dis declared. 

 

When they arrived in the stable, Dis insisted that Amayla tell her everything. 

 

Amalya started saddling her horse, and didn’t bother to face Dis as she made her admission.  “I stole the white gems of Lasgalen and had Bilbo give them to King Thranduil.”

 

“Who is Bilbo?”

 

“He is the hobbit who joined the company as our burgler.  Gandalf insisted.  And he became my dear friend.  He is as honorable, if not moreso, then any dwarf.  Anyway, he had the Arkenstone and I gave him Thranduil’s necklace as a hope to prevent the war.  It didn’t work and when Thorin found out what we had done, he tried to kill Bilbo.”

 

She finally turned to face Dis, tears starting to well in her eyes.  “I had to stop him, both because I didn’t want Bilbo to die, and because I knew that Thorin could never live with himself if he had hurt Bilbo!”

 

“And he banished you for that?”

 

“Yes.  It is my fault.  I struck my king.  I am lucky it was only banishment.  Now if there is nothing else, your highness, I would like to go to my father.”

 

Dis stared hard at Amayla, “Why do I have the feeling you aren’t telling me everything?”

 

“I have told you everything that matters, my princess.  I really must be going.”  She pulled herself up onto the saddle and rode off. 

 

It was night when she finally reached the garrison.  Once again, the guard on duty did not recognize her on a horse, but Amayla quickly identified herself.  As word spread, every warrior in the barracks came out to greet her.  She was disappointed to hear that Galen was out on patrol and promised everyone stories the next day.  When she asked how Ardru was doing, everyone immediately quieted.

 

“Captain, it is good you have arrived now.  He is  . . . “

 

“Just let me go,” she interrupted, rushing off to their quarters. 

 

When she got there, Ardru was asleep with a soldier resting by his side.

 

“Captain Amayla!  Welcome home!” he whispered loudly. 

 

“Farrak?  What are you doing here?”

 

Farrak motioned Amayla back out of Ardru’s room.  “He is growing weaker almost every day.  The healer thought it best to have someone stay with him, even at night.”

 

“Is he dying?”

 

“Not today, not tomorrow, but he is 382,” he shrugged.  “Do you want to stay with him tonight?”

 

Amayla nodded and settled into the chair next to Ardru’s bed, falling asleep at last in her home. 

 

.

.

 

 

“Amayla?  Lassie? Is that you?”

 

Hearing the familiar voice call her name, Amayla woke up.  “Ardru, father!  Yes, its me.  I’m home!”

 

She knelt next to his bed and put her forehead to his. 

 

He took her face in his two hands, “You’re home!  You’re really home!  Thank Mahal.  I was afraid you wouldn’t make it.”

 

“I made it father.  I promised I would.” 

 

“Help me up, let me see you properly.”

 

She helped him sit up on the side of his bed and then twirled around to show him that she was fine. 

“No new scars?” he asked.

 

“A good one on my shoulder, from a bear.”

 

“A bear?  You, of all dwarves, let a bear harm you?”

 

“Actually, it was a skin changer, a man who changed into the largest bear you could ever imagine.  I had to use the bear bomb on him.  Thank you for that.  It saved the entire company.” 

 

“Well that sounds like a story that I want to hear.”

 

“Me too,” announced Farrak as he entered the room. “But first, why don’t I help you get dressed and I’ll bring in your breakfast.”

 

“I will have breakfast with my daughter in the dining hall!”

 

“But General . . .”

 

“You heard me.  That was an order!” the old dwarf nearly shouted.

 

“Yes sir.  The dining hall it is.”

 

“I will see you there, father,” she said as she kissed him on his head.

 

Breakfast was like a small party.  Every available dwarf in the garrison wanted to listen to Amayla’s stories.  They loved the story of the trolls and Beorn.  She also gave them a brief and not very detailed version of the death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies, explaining only that she had been injured during the battle and didn’t know anything about Erebor’s rebuilding.  Ardru sat next to her smiling and chuckling softly.  Amalya continually held his hand, bringing back memories of when she was just a dwarfling and wouldn’t leave his side.   After a time, Ardru held up his hand to stop the festivities, sending all the warriors off to their duties. 

 

She rubbed her father’s hand, and brushed it against her cheek.  “Can I have a day off before I resume my duties, General?”

 

“Only if you spend it with me, my daughter.”

 

They spent the rest of the morning talking in the Spring sun. 

 

“I am grateful to Mahal that you made it back Amayla.  I’m not sure how much time I have left.”

 

“Hush father.  You aren’t going anywhere.”

 

He patted her hand, “Of course my daughter.  Now that you are back, I do feel stronger.” 

 

“Then I’ll never leave.”

 

“Never? No Amayla.  You must return to Erebor.  Make your life there.  When the Longbeards return to Erebor, this settlement will be abandoned.  You should go with them.  Find your one.  Start a family.”

 

Her father mentioning finding her one was like a dagger to her chest.  If only she could tell him.  “Father,” she hesitated, “There are things I must tell you.  Things that you won’t like.  Things that may make you think less of me.”

 

“Never Amayla.”

 

“I am banished from Erebor,” she stated softly, unable to look him in the eye.

 

“Hmmmm, please explain.”

 

“I stole the white gems of Lasgalen.”

 

“King Thranduil’s necklace?”

 

“Aye.  It was still a very sore spot to him.  I returned it to him.”

 

“Although I am glad that it was returned, why did you do it?”

 

“Thorin had fallen to gold fever.”

 

“No!” The old dwarf slowly shook his head.

 

“Aye.  It was terrible.  He was not making rationale decisions.  He went back on his word to the people of Laketown and he was picking a war with Thranduil.  I just thought that if I gave Thranduil the necklace that he would leave and there would be no reason for war.  But it didn’t work.  And when Thorin found out, he banished me.  I am sorry for dishonoring you father.” 

 

“You could never dishonor me Amayla.  You say that you were banished and yet you fought in the battle against the orcs.”

 

“Aye.  At first, when the dwarves attacked the elves, I stood aside; but, when the orcs attacked, I joined in the fighting.  I used your sword father.  I found it in your quarters.  Almost everything was burned including the scabbard, but your sword was fine.”

 

“My mithril sword?  Do you have it?  I would very much like to hold it again.”

 

“I’m sorry father, but I lost it when I fell during the battle. But I did use it to kill Azog.” Amayla immediately scrunched her face in frustration.  She hadn’t intented to tell Ardru that. 

 

“You killed Azog?! Why didn’t you mention that?  What else aren’t you telling me daughter?”

 

“Nothing?” She tried to lie and failed miserably.

 

“Amayla!  Tell me everything!”

 

“Yes father.”  And she did. 

 

“I still don’t know how I ended up in Mirkwood, but the elves treated me very well.  I’m certain they saved my life.  I would even go so far to say that King Thranduil and I are now friends.  He gave me my horse.”

 

Ardru sat in silence for a moment, grasping her hand.  “You say that you saved the lives of the princes and the king and yet you are still banished?  That is not right.”

 

“It is my king’s command.  I just wish that somebody had come to Mirkwood to say good-bye and bring your sword back.  Would that I could have brought that home to you father.”

 

“I am just thankful that you came back, my daughter.  But I must say that I am not happy with the way you were treated.”

 

“Please father.  It doesn’t matter.  I needed to come back to you anyway.  I don’t need to return to Erebor.”  She laid her head against him until she felt him shudder slightly.   “You are cold.  Come, I’ll help you inside.”

.

.

 

 

After a small lunch, Amayla left Ardru as he took a nap.  Amayla took advantage of the time to visit Sarna.  Even though Galen wasn’t there, she was anxious to see her friend and their new baby.  But she was completely shocked when Sarna opened the door.  The dams screamed and threw their arms around Amayla, but during the hugs Amayla spotted two babies crawling around. 

 

“Twins? Sarna, you have twins!” 

 

The dark-haired dam laughed as Amayla’s expression.  “Aye, twin dwarrows.  Do you want one?”

 

“Yes!” Amayla laughed getting down on the floor with the two.  One of the two immediately crawled over to her and started climbing on her. 

 

“That is Gorlen, after Galen’s father.  And the other is Maylen.”

 

“Maylen?”

 

“Aye, after his honorary aunt.”

 

Amayla’s hand flew to her mouth as tears filled her eyes. 

 

“How do you tell them apart?”

 

“It wasn’t easy at first, but there are some differences, especially in personality.  Gorlen is definitely more adventurous.  Maylen is far more mellow.”

 

“Mellow?  My namesake?  I’ll have to work on that.”

 

“No please!  I can barely keep up with them as they are.  No teaching them bad habits!”

 

“We’ll see about that.” 

 

“It is good to have you back Amayla.  I know Galen will be disappointed that he wasn’t here.”

 

“When is he due back?”

 

“Tomorrow.  And not a moment too soon.  I’m always at my wit’s end by the end of his patrol.  He gets a lot of adar time as soon as he gets home!  So tell me about the journey – was it successful?”

 

Amayla kept playing with the twins as she spoke. 

 

“Aye, it was.  Erebor is reclaimed.  Thorin is king under the mountain.”

 

“Thorin is it?”

 

“KING Thorin.  Its funny, when I first joined the company, he had to keep reminding me NOT to call him King or your majesty.  And now that he IS king, I keep forgetting to call him that.”

 

“So, friends with the king, or is it more that that?  He is rather handsome!” Sarna winked at Amayla.

 

“Ah, no!  And I wouldn’t say that I am friends with him either.”

 

Sarna frowned at Amayla’s tone.  “Why not?”

 

“Sarna please, I really don’t want to talk about it.  I’d rather talk about these two darlings!”  She blew a raspberry onto the tummy of one of the two, she still couldn’t tell them apart, which sent him into a fit of giggles.  “Not hard to tell who the father is!  They’re mini-Galens but with your green eyes.”

 

“Aye.  Don’t let Galen hear you say that though.  He puffs up like a grouse whenever somebody mentions that.”

 

“How was labor?  Was it awful?”

 

“Aye, it was not enjoyable.  It lasted more than a day.  I thought I was being wrenched in half and called Galen all sorts of very bad names.”

 

Amayla snickered at that.  “But then you ended up with these two adorable babies.  Did you know you were having twins?”

 

“We were pretty certain, based on the way they were kicking me at the end.”

 

“Well Mahal has truly blessed you, and me too, since I get to be an aunt to such cuties!”   She then paused and gave a deep sniff.  “Uh oh.  I think this one needs to be changed!” 

 

“That is your namesake.  Bring him into the bedroom and I’ll teach you how to be a really good auntie!”

 

After watching Sarna with Maylen, Gorlen conveniently gave Amayla an opportunity to practice what she had just learned.  “Ugh, how many times do you have to do that?”

 

“I stopped counting a long time ago.  At this stage, I just try to take everything day to day.  My mother helps out quite a bit, but it’s exhausting.  Sometimes I dream about sparring against you again, and you know how much I tried to avoid that!” 

 

“Aye, but you always were willing to spar against Galen.”

 

“That’s because he was always willing to do close in, hand-to-hand combat.  You just smashed me with your sword.”

 

“Hand-to-hand COMBAT?  Is that what you call it?  Funny, I’ve done a lot of hand-to-hand combat and never ended up with twins!”

 

“You just weren’t doing it right!  Now, I’ll show you how to put these two down for a nap, and then we can really talk.”

 

While the twins slept, Sarna started getting dinner, the two dams continued talking. 

 

“I’m very glad you got back in time Amayla,” Sarna started. “He’s getting weaker every day.  I think he may have been hanging on just to see you again.”

 

“I’m glad too.  It’s so hard to see him like this.  He was always the strongest dwarrow I knew.  He was a mountain to me; solid, strong, never changing.  I’ve sparred against the greatest elf warrior there is but I believe that Ardru in his prime could have beaten even Glorfindel.”

 

“You sparred against Glorfindel, the elf from the book, the one who killed the balrog? 

 

“Aye!   And he whipped me, but he was very nice about it.  Actually, most of the elves I met were very nice, even King Thranduil.”

 

“No!  Not Thranduil!”  Sarna dropped the knife she was using to dice carrots and spun around to face Amayla. 

 

“Yes, King Thranduil,” Amayla replied calmly.  “He helped me through the worst time of my life.  And he gave me my horse.  I owe him much.”

 

Waving her hands in front of her, Sarna frowned trying hard to understand, “Wait!  You’re telling me that you have a horse, and King Thranduil gave it to you.  And you’re friends with him?!  And you expect me to believe all this?”

 

“You can come to the stable and see for yourself.  She’s a beautiful mare and is so much fun to ride!  I’ll teach you if you want.”

 

Both dams turned as the door opened and Sarna’s mother came walking in.  Amayla had know the older dam since they had all moved to Gorvuud at its founding. 

 

“Amayla!  I heard you had returned.”  She grabbed Amayla and squeezed the breath out of her.  “Let me see you Lassie.  You look thin.” 

“It’s good to see you too Solmata.” 

 

Turning to her daughter, “Are my darlings asleep?”

 

“Yes, mother.  I’m starting some stew now.  Amayla is helping and telling me some very interesting stories about her adventure to Erebor.  Some UNBELIEVABLE stories!”  

 

Amaya threw a carrot at her friend. 

 

“Amayla! Don’t waste food!” Solmata scolded. 

 

“Sorry, ma’am,” Amayla muttered while shooting a dirty look at Sarna.

 

“Well I am not the only dwarf in Gorvuud who would like to hear your stories Amalya.  Everyone in the settlement wants to know everything that happened.  The stories you’ve told are being spread around like wildfire.  You should really call an assembly so everyone can hear at the same time,” Solmata lectured. 

 

“You are right, of course Solmata.  That would probably be best.  Just not today.  I’ve already told so many stories today, even if not EVERYBODY believed me!” She made a face at her friend before continuing, “How about tomorrow after dinner.  That way Galen will be home too.  Will you let everyone know?”

 

“Of course, I’ll take care of everything.  And Amayla, I am glad you made it back in time.  Your father . . . . was worried.”

 

“I’m glad too Solmata.  Speaking of my father, I should go back to him.”

.

.

 

The next morning, Amayla awoke excited for the day to come.  Galen was returning.  She had spoken with Ardru and they had decided that she wouldn’t resume patrols until the next change of posts in another week.  That way she could fully re-acclimate to Gorvuud and give everyone a chance to hear all about her adventure. 

 

She hid in Ardru’s office when the patrol rode in, knowing that it would be just a few short minutes before Galen walked in to give his report.  She struggled to keep the giggle in as her best friend reported that there was nothing significant to report. 

 

“Very good Galen.  But I DO have something significant to report,” Ardru chuckled causing Galen to frown in confusion. 

 

“I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!” came the familiar voice as she popped out from her hiding place.

 

“Amayla!!!”

 

They closed the space between them in a blink and wrapped their arms around each other, tears flowing freely. 

                              

The two took several minutes of knocking foreheads together, hugging, and crying.  They managed to pass basic information on return dates, the success of the journey, and meeting the twins.  Ardru finally threw them out of his office, telling them to go see the lads and talk. 

 

Sarna was thrilled to see her husband and Amayla gave the two of the them some alone time as she played with her two favorite dwarflings.  When the two lads started fussing more than Amayla could handle, their parents came out and Galen got reacquainted with his sons. The adults played with the lads, while Amayla told many of the stories of the journey to Erebor.  Like his wife, Galen also had trouble believe the stories of Amayla’s friendships with the elves. 

 

“You two are both such skeptics!  I’m not making this up!” Amayla was growing frustrated.  “Come on, grab a lad, you’re going to meet my horse!” 

 

They all went to the stables where Mist was happy to see Amayla again.  “I need to take you out for a ride today.  You’ve been stabled too long,” Amayla cooed to the horse as she scratched her muzzle. 

 

“Okay, so you have a horse.  That doesn’t mean you got it from an elf!”  Galen insisted. 

 

“Look at my saddle.  If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.” 

 

Galen took one look at the markings on the saddle and had no argument. 

 

“As if I would make such a thing up!” Amayla huffed indignantly. 

 

The lads began to fuss and Amayla left the family to have some time to themselves while she went to spend more time with Ardru. 

 

At the assembly with most of the population of Gorvuud, Amayla stood as Ardru sat next to her.  Once again, she repeated most of the stories of the journey to reclaim Erebor.  She stressed the aid that the elves of Rivendell gave them, but skipped over being imprisoned in Mirkwood.  They all loved the story of the trolls and the use of the bear bomb.  Amayla even had to open her shirt to show everyone her scars from Beorn’s attack. They were most happy to hear about Smaug’s death.  Finally, she gave an abbreviated version of the battle of the five armies, stressing how the humans of Dale and Thranduil’s army of elves had fought side-by-side with the dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills.  She also told of how she been healed by elves in the Woodland Realm and how Thranduil gave her a horse for her return trip.  There were many questions about the state of Erebor which she had difficulty answering.  She tried to explain that yes, there were vast amounts of gold, but that the damage to Erebor had been extensive.  She told them everything that Tauriel had told her about the dwarves from the Iron Hills helping rebuild, but they all wanted more.  Exasperated, she finally explained that she didn’t know much about Erebor because she had returned to Gorvuud as soon as she was able.  When Ardru reached up to grasp her hand, the assembly understood and settled down. 

Chapter Text

Over the next week, Amayla settled back into the routine of Gorvuud.  After discussing things with Galen, Terssu, and Dhurmug, who had been filling in for Amayla, it was decided that Amayla would not resume full patrol duties, but would rather assist Ardru with his duties so that she could spend as much time with him as possible.  She still insisted on riding the perimeter of the settlement nearly everyday, to both keep check on things and to give Mist a good outing. 

 

After one such patrol, she returned to see a several strange ponies in the paddock.  The stable lad who took care of Mist informed her that an “important group of dwarves” was in talking to Ardru and Galen and that she was supposed to join them as soon as she returned.  Intrigued, Amayla hurried in to see Princess Dis, Alva, and several soldiers sitting in Ardru’s office.  But it was the look from Galen that startled Amayla the most.  He was her closest friend and could read him like a book, but the anger she sensed from him, had her completely flummoxed.  After introductions, Dis got right down to business. 

 

“Amayla, I am planning on leaving very soon to return to Erebor and need your help,” she stated firmly.

 

Amayla frowned in frustration, struggling to find the right words, “Your Highness, I am sorry, but I just returned.  I plan on staying in Gorvuud.”  She shot a look at Dis, pleading to her to not reveal her secret in front of everyone. 

 

“I realize that Amayla, and I’m not asking you to guide us, but we need your assistance in planning the trip.  I do not intend to wait until a caravan can be organized to go via the South.  I would like to get there as soon as possible.” Dis responded with a reassuring look to Amayla.  

 

“Well, if you want to go the quickest way, that will be through the mountain and you won’t be able to take wagons.  And of course you’ll need escorts,” Amayla started.

 

“I will be escorting the princess,” Galen stated coldly. 

 

“What?!  Galen you can’t go.  You can’t leave Sarna and the twins.  She needs you!”

 

“She will be going with me, and the lads.” 

 

Amayla couldn’t believe the chill in his voice.  The tears started falling as she realized that she was losing her best friends.  Shaking her head, she looked at him pleading, “No, Galen.  Please!” 

 

“Perhaps you two should discuss this in private,” Dis suggested. 

 

Galen walked over and grabbed Amayla by the arm, pulling her into the empty barracks next door. 

 

Amayla finally snapped and whirled around and pushed Galen away with all her strength, screaming, “HOW COULD YOU AGREE TO DO THIS?!”

 

“And how could you NOT tell me what they did to you!?  How they treated you after you saved their lives?!  I KNEW you were holding something back!”

 

“Who told you?” she whispered. 

 

Galen walked over to his friend and sat her down on a bed.  He plopped down next to her and pulled her close with one arm. 

 

“Ardru told me,” he answered softly.  “The princess arrived shortly after you left so we’ve had plenty of time to talk.  Ardru has ordered me to accompany the princess and I won’t leave Sarna and the lads behind.  They are still young enough to be carried in a sling and Sarna’s parent will come too.” 

 

“But Ardru . . “

 

“I know.  It will be hard to leave him behind, but it is his will.  I will not deny his last request of me.  You can come to Erebor after he goes to the Halls of Waiting.”

 

“But I can’t go to Erebor, I’m . . ” she sobbed.

 

“I will make certain you can.  The Princess has assured us that she will have the ban overturned.”

 

“But . .”

 

“No more buts Amayla.”

 

“But I will miss you, and Sarna, and the twins.  I’ve only just met them.  I haven’t even had a chance to teach them any bad habits yet.”

 

Galen laughed gently, “Then maybe it is good that we leave now!”

 

Amayla punched him in the shoulder in response. 

 

She wiped away her tears as they reentered the office. 

 

“There is a way throught the mountains on ponies, and I will help you on one condition,” Amayla stated firmly, looking directly Dis.

 

“And that condition?” Dis returned just as firmly.

 

“You must seek out assistance from the elves of Rivendell.”

 

All in the room sat frozen, until Dis bellowed.  “NEVER!  We are dwarves! We do not need the help of those treehuggers!”

 

Trying to be the voice of reason, Galen asked, “Amayla, is that really necessary?  I’ll be with them.  We won’t need help from elves.”

 

Turning to her friend, Amayla responded fiercely, “If you do not agree to seeking out the elves of Rivendell, then I will not lift a finger to help.  Do not think that you can use the maps to the High Pass.  You cannot take ponies through it and it was mostly destroyed by the stone giants.  You will never make it through the mountains.  And further more, if you intend to go without my help, I will kidnap my nephews and hide with them until a caravan going on the southern route is organized.  DO NOT THINK I WON’T!”

 

Ardru started coughing uncontrollably and Amayla immediately rushed to his side, offering a drink of water.

 

The old dwarf brushed aside her ministrations, before turning to Dis.  “My princess, do not let sour history stop you from creating a glorious future.  Now is the time to create that future, one of cooperation and peace between the races.  If the elves are willing to provide aid, which my daughter assures is the case, then let them.” 

 

Amayla looked to Dis, voice calmed “Honestly your highness, I do not believe I could show you the pass on a map.  I came through from the other direction and do not know the landmarks.  Even if I were going with you, I would have to stop in Rivendell and ask the way.” 

 

Dis threw her hands up in disgust, “Well, I see there is no way around it.  We’ll go to Rivendell.”

 

“If you wouldn’t mind, I have some letters that I ask you to carry to Rivendell and the Woodland Realm,” Amayla asked politely.

 

“THE WOODLAND REALM?! YOU MEAN THRANDUIL!?  It is one thing to stop at Rivendell, but quite another to ask HIM for help!” Dis growled.

 

“Your highness, there is no way around Mirkwood if you want to go in haste.  But rest assured, there is peace between Thranduil and Thorin.  I will give you a personal letter to guarantee your safe travels.  I am hopeful that there will be elves willing to escort you.” Amayla assured Dis. 

 

Dis glared at Amayla until Alva, Gloin’s wife, calmed her down.  “Dis, what is most important is getting to Erebor and seeing our loved ones.  It doesn’t matter who helps us get there faster, as long as they help us.  I know how much you miss your sons and your brother.  I miss my husband that much too.  If Amayla says that the elves will help us, then we must believe her and accept it.”

 

“You’re right Alva.  And you too Amayla.  We will accept whatever help is given, even if it is from elves.”  Turning to Ardru and Galen, “I am most thankful for your help.  We will return to Ered Luin and finalize our plans.  We will see you, Galen, in three days’ time.”

 

“Aye, your highness, three days,” Galen responded, bowing respectively.

 

“The rest of you please leave.  I would say my good-byes to Ardru in private,” Dis commanded. 

 

When they got outside, Amayla could only shake her head at Galen, tears running down her face.  She tried to speak, but no sound came out.  She could only mouth the words “Two days?”  Galen’s eyes were also misty.  He put his arm around her and led her to his house.  At the house, Amayla flung herself at Sarna, openly sobbing.  The two babies, not understanding what was happening but feeling all the emotions, started crying themselves.  Galen pushed the two dams into a bedroom and slammed the door before trying to calm his sons. 

 

About twenty minutes later, Amayla and Sarna came out of the room, wiping their eyes.  “I’ll take the lads outside, while you two talk,” Amayla offered while scooping up the two.  When Galen looked at her questioningly, she stated simply, “I’m going to spend as much time as I can with them.” 

 

Amayla spent the next two days playing with the twins as much she could, going over maps with Galen to chart out the fastest way to Rivendell, and writing letters to everyone she could think of that could possibly help.  Unfortunately, the group would not be going through the Shire, opting instead to go via the city ruins of Fornost, picking up the north road there before heading to Bree and following the East road to Rivendell.  So, no letters to Bilbo or Foldram, but plenty to all her friends in Rivendell, and everyone in Mirkwood, especially Thranduil.  She was determined that her honorary nephews be safe.  But when it came to letters to Erebor, Amayla was torn.  Not getting any responsed when she had written to everyone when she was in Mirkwood still hurt deeply.  Finally, she decided to write a shared letter to Fili and Kili and one to Bifur and Bofur.  In both letters, she asked her companions to look after Gorlen and Maylen.  She figured that Fili and Kili would provide some fun for the lads, teaching them about the outdoors and how to drive their parents crazy.  Bifur and Bofur would, of course, be counted on to provide toys and wooden swords when they were old enough.  A few tears stained both letters. 

 

When the time finally came for the group to leave, Amayla was numb.  She had cried so many tears that none were left.  She made certain that the group was safely saddled and the pack-ponies properly loaded down.  She gave big kisses to both lads before Sarna and Solmata climbed onto their ponies.  Too choked up to speak, all she could do was wave and wipe her eyes.  She stood next to Ardru as the ponies disappeared.  Laying her head on her father’s shoulder, Amayla could only wonder when he would leave her too. 

.

.

He lasted two months.  Amyala stayed by Ardru’s side as much as possible.  The other captains covered her patrols.  Everyone in Gorvuud cooperated to make him as comfortable as possible, as he was beloved by all.  His coughing slowly became worse and seemed to drain all the strength he had left.  On the night he finally passed to the Halls of Waiting, he made Amayla promise to return to Erebor one day.  She agreed, but in her heart, she didn’t plan on fulfilling that promise anytime in the near future.

 

Ardru’s funeral was a huge production for the dwarves of Gorvuud.  A tomb had been prepared in advance in the waiting chamber in the mountain nearest to the settlement.  A large contingent from Ered Luin, including nearly all of the councilors, arrived to sing the traditional Dwarvish funeral songs.  After the tomb was sealed, a huge feast was held celebrating the long and full life of Thror’s General, the founder of Gorvuud, and the protector of Ered Luin.  As his heir, Amayla led the processions but allowed Bladurg, Ardru’s oldest friend to lead the songs.  She said little during the celebration beyond what was expected of her. 

 

Toward the end of the celebration, Temlar stood to make an announcement.  “Normally, I would not interrupt a funeral celebration to make this type of announcement, but I am here and all are gathered and I do not think Ardru would mind.  We have received word from King Thorin that Erebor will be ready for those wanting to return.  A caravan will depart for Erebor in the Spring.  It will be traveling the greenway south through Rohan.  It is the longest way to go, but it is also the easiest for wagons.  Any may join as long as you have the resources to make it.” 

 

The announcement set off a great deal of discussion, essentially ending the party.  Many of Gorvuud’s residents clamoured for Amayla to speak.  Relunctantly, she did.  “We are here to celebrate my father whose mission it was to protect the dwarves of Ered Luin.  To that end, he established this settlement.  Gorvuud is my home and I am Ardru’s heir.  I will protect Gorvuud as long as there is a viable settlement.”  Many dwarves cheered at that statement, but Amayla continued.  “But it was also my father’s dream to return to Erebor, his home, the home of most Longbeards.  So, I will not look harshly upon anyone who wants to go.  It is your right and your decision to make freely.”  With that, Amayla bowed politely and left, wanting only to go rest by herself. 

 

Temblor stopped her and asked to speak in private.  “Amayla, I have a letter from the King addressed to Ardru.  It is yours now.”

 

Her hand trembled as she accepted the letter, “Did he bring any word of Princess Dis or Galen?”

 

“No.  They must have passed each other on the way.  He left before she could have possibly reached Erebor.”

 

Amayla nodded and left.  Sitting along in her room, Amayla could only imagine what Thorin had written.  I don’t want to open it. . . Did he tell Ardru everything? . . . Maybe its good that Ardru died when he did . . . Mahal, I miss him so much!  . . . It doesn’t matter what Thorin said.  Her mind made up, she stood and threw the unopened letter into the fire. 

 

Amayla made it through the weeks following Ardru’s death in a blur.  She knew what she was doing, but nothing held any meaning for her.  There had been no signs of orcs since she had returned to Gorvuud.  The reason was not clear, but Amayla figured that it had something to do with killing Azog and Bolg and all those orcs at Erebor.  She was grateful for the respite, but didn’t expect it to last come the spring.   The winter was not overly harsh, but there were many periods of loneliness and sadness during the long, dark nights. 

.

~~~~

.

IN EREBOR

.

Grundbar came rushing down to the mines, startling Thorin as he, Balin, Fili and Ori were watching Bifur, and Bofur show the visiting Lord Dain what had been accomplished to date. 

 

“Your Majesty,” Grundbar cried out between breaths, “Princess Dis and others just arrived!”

 

“What? Dis?!”

“Amad?!”

 

Grunbar was trying to catch his breath, having run the whole way, “Aye, it is the Princess herself demanding that you come right away.”

 

Without a word, they all turned and started heading back in a hurry.

 

“Who is with her?” Balin asked.

 

“Four dams, several dwarflings, and some guards.”

 

“Four other dams?” Thorin questioned. 

 

“Aye, sir.”

 

“Must be Alva and Ilna, Gloin and Bomber’s wives.  I don’t know who the others would be,” Balin commented.

 

As the they reached the entrance to the mines, Thorin started handing out orders, “Grunbar, go get Gloin and OIn.  Bofur & Bifur, go find Bomber.  Fili go get your brother, I believe he’s sparring with Dwalin.  Ori, let your brothers know.  Everybody move!”   

 

Thorin’s group arrived in the great hall first.  The second he saw his sister, he froze for a moment, before running to her and wrapping her in a giant hug, tears flowing down their faces.

 

“My lads?” Dis asked, as Thorin pressed his forehead against hers.

 

“On their way.  They are well, I promise.”

 

“I know.”

 

Thorin looked at her, confused, but before he could ask anything, Gloin came running in calling for his wife and son.  OIn followed shortly.

 

“Cousin!” Dain bellowed, grabbing Dis and twirling her off her feet.

 

He put her down when they heard feet pounding into the room with two voices shouting together, “AMAD!”

 

Fili and Kili embraced their mother as she alternated between kissing them, hugging them, and stroking their faces. 

 

Bomber finally came in, trailed by his brothers, tears falling before he even caught sight of his wife. 

 

Soon everyone in the company arrived, with hugs going all around. 

 

When the greetings and the tears finally slowed, Dis made the introductions of everyone who had accompanied them, ending with Galen.  When he bowed and introduced himself as a captain of Gorvuud, the Company stopped smiling and shot glances between each other.   

 

Thorin started to speak, “Captain Galen, there is something I must tell you  . . . “

 

But Dis interrupted him, “Brother, stop.  Galen has something to say first.  It is good that Dain is here for this.  Go ahead Galen, it is better to do this right away.”

 

Galen nodded curtly to Dis before standing at attention before his king.  “Thorin, King of Erebor, I stand for Ardru, General to Thror.  He seeks a trial of retribution against you and all memebers of the company that reclaimed Erebor, on behalf of his heir, Amayla, Captain of Gorvuud, Slayer of Azog.”

 

There were gasps from everyone other than Galen, Dis, and Sarna.

 

 

Dis spoke up, “We should proceed immediately to get this out of the way.  Dain, if you would preside.”

 

Dain ordered everyone in the company to stand before him, but before he could formally start, Thorin objected.  “Just wait a minute!  How did Ardru know about Amayla?  We only sent the couriers a month ago.  And for that matter, how are you all here this early? And how did you know that Fili and Kili were well?”

 

“From Amayla of course,” Dis answered simply.

 

“Amayla? That’s impossible!” Thorin shouted.

 

Dis looked completely bewildered as everyone in the company froze.  She looked at Dain who merely shrugged.  Balin put his hand on Thorins shoulder and spoke softly, “Tell them.”

 

Thorin finally choked out, “Because Amayla fell in the battle.  She died.”

 

“No she didn’t!” Dis quickly admonished him.  “She was alive and well in Gorvuud when we left.  She helped us with directions and made certain that the elves assisted us on our trip here.”

 

All the company spoke at the same time, hugging, laughing and crying once again, “Amayla’s alive!” “Really?” “The lass is alive!” Dwalin, however, approached Dis, grabbing her by the arms and looking her straight in the eyes, “She’s alive? You swear to Mahal that Amayla is alive?”

 

“Of course she is.  Why do you all think she’s dead?” Dis questioned.  Dwalin stepped back, both hands rubbing his face, until he hit a pillar.  Sliding down to the floor, he held his head in his hands and wept. 

 

Balin answered Dis, “She fell off Ravenhill, battling with Bolg.”

 

“After saving me,” Kili stated softly.

 

“And me,” Fili added.

 

“And me,” Thorin joined in.

 

“She never mentioned that,” Dis said, reaching for her boys to hug them again.

 

“Typical Amayla,” Sarna stated.  “She would keep that to herself.”

 

Dain stepped up asking, “So do we still need this trial?”

 

Galen answered, “There is still the matter of her banishment.”

 

Thorin answered quickly, “It is rescinded of course.  Ori, take care of whatever paperwork is called for.”

 

“But why didn’t any of you go to her, after she fell,” Sarna asked.

 

“We looked everywhere!   We never found her,” Kili insisted.  “I still don’t understand.  Where was she?”

 

“She was in Mirkwood, in Thranduil’s Halls,” Dis answered.

 

“Mirkwood?!” Thorin roared.  “That dam tree-shagger!  Why didn’t he let us know?”

“According to Amayla and Thranduil, he did.  You told him to send her home,” Dis replied.

 

“I did no such thing!  He lies! Typical elf!”

 

“I would not be so sure brother.  His anger at you for banishing her seemed sincere to me.  Amayla spoke most highly of him and he treated us very kindly,” Dis responded. 

 

“You would believe Thranduil over me?” Thorin looked aghast. “He NEVER told me Amayla was alive.  I NEVER would have ignored that.” 

 

“He said that he sent you a letter and when you didn’t reply, he sent Lord Arodir to you and you told him to have Thranduil send her home.” 

 

“Never! Arodir NEVER discussed Amayla with me,” Thorin insisted.

 

Balin gently reminded Thorin of Arodir’s visit, “Remember, when we finally cleared the mine entrance and he insisted on talking to you . . .”

 

“Aye, I remember that visit, but he never mentioned Amayla. . . at least not that I remember.  Just something about a soldier and sending him home. . . . MAHAL! . . . I thought he was talking about one of Dain’s soldiers . . . I don’t think he told me it was Amayla . . . He must not have . . . but I’m not sure.  I only remember being so tired and I just wanted him to leave.  OH MAHAL!  What did I do?”

 

Dis stepped in front of her brother and gently stroked Thorin’s face gently, “Peace Thorin.  What’s done is done.  It was probably just a misunderstanding.  I don’t belive you sent her back on purpose.  Amayla was going back to see her father no matter what.  There is no real harm done.”

 

As she turned, she missed the look of regret that Thorin sent to Dwalin. 

 

Dain tried again.  “Getting back to the matter of retribution, cousin, I believe that General Ardru deserves a response.”

 

Thorin replied stoically, “He does, and so does Amayla.”  Facing Galen, Thorin assumed his most kingly stance, stating loudly, “I, Thorin, King of Erebor, accept full responsibility for the dishonor shown to Amayla heir to Ardru, Captain of Gorvuud and offer my beard as compensation.”  He then bowed to Galen.

 

Dain then spoke up, “Captain Galen, as representative of General Ardur, do you accept King Thorin’s beard as full payment of retribution or do you require it of all members of the Company, as is your right?”

No sounds were heard as all in the room looked to Galen to make his decision.  After an agonizing minute, Galen stated solemnly, “The king’s beard will be payment enough.” 

 

Dwalin stood up and approached Thorin, “I’ll leave now and take it to her, let her know, make it right.”

 

Surprised, Dis objected, “Dwalin, you can’t leave now.  It is nearly Durin’s Day.  You’d never make it over the mountains!”

 

“Dis is right.  I’m sorry, my friend.” Thorin added gently.  “Go at the first sign of spring.  Bring her back.”

Chapter Text

Spring came and Amayla was pleased that only one family planned on leaving for Erebor.  Things in Gorvuud returned to normal and Galen’s replacement was fully competent, but Amayla was having a hard time filling the emptiness she felt at the loss of her father and best friends. The only thing that truly caught her interest was that Haimla, her favorite bear, had not been spotted yet.  She was old, but Amayla couldn’t imagine losing another anchor in her life.  When it was her turn to lead the outer patrols, she made it the top priority to look for Haimla. The patrol spent the first few days making their routine outer perimeter check and, finding nothing, proceeded to Haimla’s usual territory.  They camped in the area that Amayla had last seen Haimla, the last day she was in Gorvuud before leaving to catch up with the Thorin’s company.  They spent one day simply waiting with no signs of any bears.  Impatient, Amayla decided to break one of Gorvuud’s most basic rules, she was going to feed a bear.  The idea of leaving out a leaving out a fresh kill to attract a bear went against everthing she had been taught growing up and everything she had drilled into the dwarves under her command, but she simply had to know.  The next day, they moved the ponies and Mist away and tracked and killed a deer.  Leaving it cut open near a blind, the patrol group retreated to the trees and waited. 

 

By dusk, the first bears approached, a mother and cub.  Amayla’s heart sunk when she realized it wasn’t Haimla.  Fairly certain of the answer, Amayla felt even worse when the other dwarves confirmed that the bear wasn’t one of Haimla’s daughters either.  Haimla might have tolerated an offspring in her territory, but not this usurper.  After watching the newcomer feast on the carcass for awhile, the dwarves heard another bear coming through the woods.  This time it was a male bear and Amayla immediately recognized him as Grumpy.  Not wanting a confrontation, the female hurried her cub away while Grumpy sat and ate at his leisure. How many times had Amayla seen Haimla drive off the crabby male?  She would never have given up so easily.  That’s when Amayla knew that Haimla was gone too.  She slid down to sit on the floor of the blind, holding her head in her hands, letting her tears flow.  Many of the other dwarves did the same.  Haimla had long been considered the matriarch of Gorvuud, so no dwarf was ashamed to mourn her. 

 

The next day was a very quiet ride home.  For Amayla, each step by Mist seemed to drive her spirit lower and lower.  What am I supposed to do now?  Everybody is gone:  Ardru, Galen, Sarna, the twins, Dwalin, the Company, even Bilbo to some extent, and now Haimla.  Everything has changed.  What is there to look forward to?  Gorvuud’s days are numbered.  Sure, nobody is likely to leave this summer, but next spring, or the year after that?  It won’t be more than a few years, and then what?  Do I go to Erebor?  Can I go to Erebor?  Move to the Shire?  Stay with Bilbo? Go to Rivendell or Mirkwood?  They both offered. I don’t really belong anywhere. . . .

 

When they entered the garrison, Amayla could immediately tell that something was off.  Normally, dwarves would be all about, sparring, sharpening their weapons, tending to ponies, or simply sitting about smoking pipes on such a beautiful day, but nobody was around.  The dwarves all exchanged looks and glanced around, but nothing bad seemed to be happening.  Finally, the stable dwarf came running out of the dining hall to take Mist.  “Where is everybody?” Amayla asked him. 

 

Barely able to contain his excitement, the lad burst out, “There’s a general from Erebor here!  He arrived yesterday.  He’s telling us all sorts of stories about fighting orcs.  He’s been waiting for you Captain.  Says he’s your friend.”

 

Amayla froze. “A general?” she asked confused.  “What is his name?”

 

The lad stopped to think, “I don’t remember, but he’s bald.  I’ve never seen a bald dwarf before.”

 

Amayla swore softly as she shook her head.  Dammit!  Why is he here?!  Why would it have to be him?  She walked over to the water pump next to the water trough and filled her hands with water before splashing her face and rubbing it.  I don’t want to deal with this.  I just don’t have the energy for it.  She stood with her head in her hands just staring at the ground for several minutes. 

 

The rest of her patrol emerged from the stable and were alarmed at their captain’s state.  Farrak finally approached her, “Are you alright Captain?”

 

She smiled wanly at the soldier, murmuring softly, “I’m fine Farrak.  Thank you.”

 

Amayla slowly began walking to the dining hall.  She heard his familiar voice as she got closer and finally could see him through a window.  She stopped and listened for a few moments finding it too difficult to move her feet.  He looked so good, hadn’t appeared to change at all.  That only made her feel worse. Mahal please give me the strength to get through this!  After a few more deep breathes, she went in, with the rest of the patrol following. 

 

Dwalin stopped talking the second he saw her and quickly Terssu called the assembly to attention. 

 

Amayla bowed politely stating simply, “Welcome to Gorvuud, General.  I am sorry to have kept you waiting.  I trust that you have been well treated?”

 

He returned the bow, never taking his eyes off her.  She really is alive!  Mahal, she is even more beautiful than I remember.  What did she say?  What am I supposed to say?  He finally choked out, “Amayla, it is good to see you.”  Why are there so many dwarves here?  I just want to talk to her alone!    “May we speak in private?”

 

“In a moment, General.  I need to do the turn-over.”  She turned to all the dwarves standing at attention.  “I have an announcement to make.  After a thorough search by the Red Patrol and the lack of sightings by all patrols this spring, I have come to the sad conclusion that Haimla has returned to the forest.  I would guess that she never emerged from hibernation.  There is a new sow with a single cub in her territory as well as Grumpy.  I want all patrol to keep careful notes of what bears are in which territories as there is bound to be shifting and disputes without Hailma keeping everyone in line.  I also want to keep a closer eye on the northern fields as this new sow may need to learn some lessons regarding our borders.  Also, with Grumpy about, everyone needs to be especially alert as we all know how unpredictable he can be.  That is all.  Blue Patrol, you need to saddle up.  Terssu and Dhurmug, with me please.” 

 

The three captains walked into Amayla’s office, where Amayla pulled out a map and layed in out on her desk.   “Terssu, I want you to go further east on your patrol.  I have seen no signs of any orcs in our normal patrol area.  I want to take advantage of this time and see if there is any activity in areas that would be their likely route into our range.  Do your best not to engage.  This is a scouting activity only.  Dhurmug, keep particular watch on the northern fields.  Understood?” The two captains acknowledged their assignments and departed. 

 

Before the door could shut, Dwalin walked in.  “Can I come in now Amayla?”  He wanted to hold her, wrap his arms around her, and never let go, but she just pointed to the chairs across from her desk.   “Please have a seat.”  Noticing a large sack he was carrying, she asked what it was.

 

“Letters, and this,” he said softly.  Amayla gasped as he lifted up Ardru’s sword, laying it on her desk.  “We found it next to Bolg’s body.”

 

Amayla picked up the sword reverently.  “Ardru really wanted to hold this one more time,” she murmured.  Not Looking at Dwalin, she whispered “Thank you.”

 

Before he could say anything else, she started by asking about Dis, Galen, Sarna, and the twins. 

 

“They arrived safely, surprised us all.   But before we could celebrate, your friend Galen asked for a trial of retribution.”

 

“Retribution?” Amayla asked, totally caught off guard. 

 

“Aye, on behalf of Ardru.  Dain happened to be there; so, since every member of the company stood accused, he presided.  That’s when Dis told us you were alive.  Amayla, you must believe me, we didn’t know!  Why didn’t you come back?”

 

“Why didn’t I go back?  To Erebor?” Amayla’s eyes narrowed angrily at the big dwarf.  “Maybe because I was banished and didn’t want my head on a pike!” she lashed out. 

 

“Thorin was sick when he said that.  He never would have hurt you.  You could have come back.”

 

“And I was supposed to know that HOW?!?” she yelled.  Finally, something inside of her snapped, and all the anger she had been hold in, came roaring out, “I was listed on the injury reports sent to Oin.  I sent letters, to ALL OF YOU! NOBODY responded.  Thranduil sent a personal note to Thorin, and when that wasn’t answered, he sent his top advisor!  Thorin told him to SEND ME HOME!  SO DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME THAT I SHOULD HAVE GONE BACK!”

 

Dwalin was struck by Amayla’s level of anger, never before witnessing her full wrath.  Not for the first time in life, he wished he had Balin’s gift for words.  “Amayla, we’re sorry, all of us, Thorin especially.  He rescinded the banishment and accepted all the guilt for how you were treated.  He offers this.”  He pulled out a small leather bag and pushed it across the desk toward Amayla. 

 

She looked at him suspiciously before opening the bag.  “What is it?”

 

“Thorin’s beard.  Galen agreed that his beard would stand for all of us. Dis stood in your place and shaved it.”

 

Amayla looked at Dwalin’s beard before addressing the dwarrow, “Convenient for the rest of you,” she sneered sarcastically. 

 

Dwalin stood and drew a dagger from his belt, offering to Amayla, “You can take my beard right now if you desire it.”

 

Amayla put her hand up to stop him, “I don’t.  And I don’t desire this either.”  She threw the bag back across her desk.   She continued, her voice like ice, “My father asked for retribution, not me.  You can go give it to him.  His TOMB is not far.  I’ll have someone show you the way.”

 

“I heard about Ardru, Amayla.  I am very sorry.” He held out his hand to her.  She just glared at it. 

 

“I will be escorting the caravan back to Erebor.  I – we were all hoping that you would join it,” he said softly.

 

That only served to make Amayla more angry.  She stood up, knocking over her chair, and glowered at Dwalin, “Do you REALLY think that I will just FORSAKE MY DUTY TO GORVUUD just so the members of the company will feel better about abandoning me?  What would you have me tell everyone?  That I’m going back to join the dwarves that couldn’t be bothered to look for me? THIS IS MY HOME!  THESE ARE MY DWARVES, MY FAMILY!  MY RESPONSIBILITY! HOW DARE YOU EVEN SUGGEST THAT I LEAVE THEM! YOU’D NEVER FORSAKE YOUR DUTY, DON’T EXPECT ME TO EITHER!” 

 

“I’m sorry Amayla.  I didn’t mean it that way.  It’s just that we all miss you.” Dwalin was growing frustrated.  This wasn’t going at all as he imagined. 

 

"And I missed all of you too, all those days in Mirkwood, when I was alone, trying to heal," she responded with venom in her voice.

 

It was like an arrow straight through his heart.

 

Outside her office, several dwarves of Amayla's patrol were eating and relaxing when they heard the chair fall and their captain's voice rise with more anger than they had ever heard before. After exchanging glances of concern, they all sprung up and stood outside the door, straining to hear what was going on. Finally, Farrak knocked.

 

"COME!" Amayla shouted harshly.

 

"Is everything alright, Captain?" Farrak stammered hesitantly.

 

"Everything is fine, Farrak. And since you are here, you can escort the general to Ardru's tomb. He wants to visit it before he leaves!" she ordered, glaring at Dwalin the whole time.

 

Dwalin opened his mouth to speak, but shut it instead and bowed his head in acceptance. He picked up Thorin's beard before turning and slowly walking out the door.

.

.

 

While they were gone, Amayla read Sarna’s letter, the only one she was mentally prepared to read. 

 

My Dearest Amayla,

 

We arrived safe and sound in Erebor.  The trip was hard but the lads were troopers.  Thank Mahal that we did not run into any orcs or goblins. I hope to never mount a pony again, or at least for a very long time.  Thank you for making us stop at Rivendell.  It was breathtaking and we definitely needed the rest.  Lord Elrond and all the elves there could not have been more kind, although I could have done with some meat.  You didn’t warn us about that.  Tialla asked me to send you her greetings.  She took excellent care of us while we were there.  We did not get to meet Glorfindel but Lord Elrond’s sons escorted us over the mountains to Mirkwood.  They told us many stories about the tricks they pulled growing up as twins.  Frankly, I’m terrified. 

 

Meeting Thranduil was interesting.  He also sends his greetings.  Surprisingly, he and Princess Dis got along quite well. 

 

By now I’m sure you know about the trial of retribution.  I’m sorry you didn’t tell me what really happened, but please know that you will be welcomed back to Erebor with open arms.  Everyone misses you. 

 

We’ve been in Erebor for a few months as I’m writing this.  All the dwarves here have been very welcoming.  As the only dams here, Princess Dis, Alva and Ilna and I have become friends and they are very helpful with the Gorlen and Maylen.  The twins are both walking now and love it when Uncle Fili and Uncle Kili come to play.  The princes insisted on being called Uncle.  They said if it was good enough for you, it was good enough for them.  Also, Bifur and Bofur have been spoiling them with toys.  I’m not certain who has been enjoying the toys most; my lads, Fili and Kili, or Bifur and Bofur making them. 

 

Galen is now a Captain of Erebor, so his life hasn’t changed much.  He and General Dwalin have had some intense sparring matches.  Galen is enjoying having someone who appreciates axes as much as himself.  Mother is thrilled to work with gold again.  The mines are not fully producing yet, so she has been working on repairing items that were damaged by the dragon.  She has given me a few pieces to work on in my spare time.  Gold is much more enjoyable to work with than leather.  Father is thrilled to be working in the forges on items other than plows.  He has even worked side-by-side with King Thorin on several items.  We are expecting dwarves from the Iron Hills to arrive this spring and Ered Luin to come this summer.  It will be interesting to see how Erebor changes with the new arrivals.

 

Galen and I would love to for you to arrive tomorrow but we both realize that you will not leave Gorvuud while there are dwarves there for you to protect.  When the time comes, please come here as soon as possible.  The lads need their auntie.

 

We miss you and love you.

 

Sarna

 

 

Amayla had to wipe the tears away when she finished the letter, but she felt some relief that at least Galen and Sarna understood her position.  She picked up Ardru’s sword and took some swipes with it.  Each stroke made her feel a little better.  It was as if Ardru was still with her in a small way. 

 

Smiling, she walked back out to the dining room where the soldiers of her patrol were still assembled.  They all looked up to with trepidation written all over their faces.  “What?” she asked. 

 

One dwarrow stood up to Amayla, “We are all concerned about your plans now that the General has spoken with you.  Are you leaving for Erebor?”

 

Amayla put her hand to her heart, “I am touched that you are worried, but as I said before, as long as there are dwarves here, I will stay to protect them.  I’m not going to Erebor until the last dwarf leaves Gorvuud.”

 

The dwarves all cheered in appreciation, banging their fists on the tables.  She didn’t notice that Dwalin was in the doorway, hearing and seeing everything.

.

When Amayla walked out, she saw Dwalin standing next to his pony and went to say good-bye.  “Will you be going through the Shire on your return to Erebor?” she asked softly.

 

Dwalin barely glanced at her, “Aye.  Planning on stopping to see Bilbo.  I have letters for him from everyone.”

 

“Can I add one? And more for Erebor?”

 

“Of course, but I’m leaving now so I can get back to Ered Luin before dark.  The caravan is not leaving for a few or so.  Just get them to me before then,” he said sadly before mounting up. 

 

“Dwalin!” she shouted, causing him to turn. 

 

“Yes Amayla?” he asked fighting every urge to jump off and run to her. 

 

“Mahal’s blessings on your travels.” 

 

“May he watch over you too,” he mumbled back. 

 

Amayla returned to her office but stood at the window and watched Dwalin ride away.  Her heart, which she had worked so hard to repair over the last several months, shattered into pieces once again. 

Chapter Text

Four years later, in the early winter. 

 

“Bladurg, any signs of snow?” Amayla asked her father’s old friend and she wrapped her coat tighter around her.

 

“No lassie.  Afraid not.  Cold enough, just no moisture in the air.”

 

“I don’t like it.  Makes me worry.”

 

Bladurg raised his eyebrows in question.

 

Amayla explained, “It’s cold enough to keep the bears in their dens, but there’s nothing on the ground to stop any orcs.  We’ve been seeing signs that they are about but I don’t have enough soldiers left to patrol as far out as I’d like.  We could use a good blizzard to prevent any surprise attacks.”

 

“Agreed lassie, but I don’t see any signs that any is coming soon.”

 

They stared out over the empty fields.  “Has anyone else told you that they’re going to leave with the spring caravan?”  Amalya asked.

 

“No, but I know Tamblor was thinking about it.  But with Moga pregnant again, I think he will wait.”

 

“If Tamblor goes, his cousin Hanlor will go too, which means Terssu will go, and that will be the end,” she sighed sadly.

 

“Then it’s a good thing that Moga is pregnant!” Bladurg winked at Amayla. 

 

“What will you do in Erebor, Bladurg?” Amayla asked. 

 

“I don’t know Amayla.  Not sure if there’s any need for farmers there.  Hopefully, there will be some gardens that need tending.  Kinda funny that an old warrior like me took a shining to farming.  Not very dwarven of me, I know.”

 

“But what is very dwarven of you is not to have let your injuries be the end of you.  Your stubborn dwarvish pride wasn’t going to let that happen.  And you are every bit as important to Gorvuud as Ardru ever was.  There never would have been a garrison here if there weren’t farmers to feed us!  I think we all did pretty well.”

 

“Aye lassie, I think we did too, and your father would be very proud of the way you’ve protected us since he went to wait.  I don’t think I’m the only one here with some stubborn dwarvish pride.” 

 

“Well, I’m ready for another year.  Let’s just hope that the weather and the orcs let us!” 

 

Two weeks later, Amayla’s fears came true.  The sound of the horn blaring the call for aid reverberated through the settlement.  Amayla’s patrol immediately armed and mounted up.  They didn’t go far when they joined the battle.  Orcs, mounted on wargs, were just a few short miles away from their outer walls. Never before had orcs penetrated that far into their territory.  It was not an overly large group of orcs, but the number of dwarven soldiers had seriously declined over the last few years, making the battle difficult. 

 

Amayla ordered that no orc escape, but despite their best efforts, a few managed to turn tail and ride away.  Determined to not allow the escaping orcs report back to the main force, Amayla sent a troop of dwarved to pursue.  The rest returned to Gorvuud.  They left the orc bodies to rot, not risking a fire to identify their position. 

 

Back at Gorvuud, Amayla called an emergency meeting of the entire population.  She explained their dire situation, not holding anything back, “If even one orc gets through, Gorvuud is done.  They will let the main force know exactly how to get here and there is little we can do to stop them.  I want every household to prepare for an immediate evacuation.  We will load the wagons with dwarflings and mothers, one chest of goods per family. The soldiers will prepare defenses, and the adults that will remain behind will load crops into the remaining wagons.  We will need it when we get to Ered Luin.  The first wagon will leave in one hour, or when our troops return, which ever comes first.” 

 

Amayla pulled Bladurg aside, “I want you to drive the wagon.  I can give you one soldier, but that is all.  When you get there, have them come to our aid.  Hopefully, we can hold out long enough.  I also have a special request of you.”

 

Within the hour, the troops returned with the news that the orcs had gotten away.  At the distance they were away, Amayla calculated an attack in 8-10 hours, hopefully enough time for reinforcements to arrive. 

 

The families were stuffed into a wagon.  It was tight, with some of the older dwarflings sitting on top of the chests, but they all made it.  Before she boarded, Moga went to Amayla with a request, “Keep the soldier here. You need every hand. Give me a sword.  I know how to use one and I will protect the young ones and my unborn with my life.  We will make it to Ered Luin.”  One look at the dam’s face, told Amayla everything she needed to know and she gave Moga the sword. 

 

After the wagons left, Amayla immediately began issuing the orders.  Groups of soldiers were sent out to lay out obstacles to slow down any orcs, soldiers inside the settlement digging berms, and groups of non-soldiers loading the stored crops onto wagons.  The plan was to hang on long enough for troops from Ered Luin to come and support them. 

 

After the hours passed and as much crops that could be fit on the available wagons had been loaded, the dwarves sat back and waited.  Everyone had their orders and knew what was expected of them.  The questions was who would arrive first, orcs or dwarven troops. 

 

When they heard a wagon arriving from the south, hope sprang up until they realized that it was just one wagon with Bladurg and an older dwarfling sitting up front. 

 

Amayla hustled over to help the old dwarf down from the wagon.  “Why are you back?  What’s going on?  Where are the troops?” she asked.

 

“They won’t be coming,” he answered somberly.  “At least not in time.”

 

“What?!” Terssu bellowed.  “They will not answer our call for aid?”

 

“The piddly excuse for a commander says that his orders do not alow him to deploy his forces without the express command of his superior officer in the city,” he growled.

 

“What?!  What kind of dumb-ass order is that?  And what kind of cowardly commander follows it?” Amalya lashed out in frustration.

 

“I think you’re right when you said cowardly,” Bladurg spat.

 

Amayla rubber her face while taking serveral deep breaths.  Frustrated, she gritter her teeth while complaining, “I wanted to make a stand!  We could have taken them with a little help! But now …!”

 

Terssu spoke up, “We can still make a stand!  We won’t give up our home that easily!”

 

“Easy there lad, “Bladurg warned the captain. 

 

“I will NOT take it easy!  We don’t need those cowards from the city!  We can take these orcs on our own!” he yelled.

 

Amayla put her hand on Terssu’s arm to calm him.  “Bladurg is right Terssu.  As much as I hate to say it, we cannot protect Gorvuud any longer.  Before this attack, I thought that we might have one more year before we would have to leave.  This attack just makes it sooner.  I will not risk the life of any dwarf to protect abandoned buildings.”

 

At Terssu’s look of dismay, Bladurg added in, “Amayla is right.  Gorvuud is done.  Buuuut that doesn’t mean we need to leave anything of use for them!”  He winked at both of them as he walked to the back of the wagon.

 

“Were you able to get it?” Amayla asked.

 

Bladurg nodded, lifting the top off one barrel.  “Aye.  Oil.  And in these chests, all the ingredients for flash fires.” 

 

Amalya’s grin split her face.  “Bladurg, you are brilliant!”

 

“Thank you!  One of the soldiers wasn’t happy with not being sent to your aid and pulled me aside asking if he could aid us in any way.  I asked for this and he provided it!”

 

“I don’t understand,” stated Terssu frowning.

 

“Laddie, when the orcs get here, there won’t be anything here for them.  We’re going to burn everything down,” the older dwarrow replied.

 

“Not quite!” Amayla said cryptically.

 

When the two dwarrows looked at her, she continued.  “Oh, we will burn everything down, but NOT until the orcs arrive.”

 

“Lassie, that’s risky,” Bladurg warned.

 

“Not if we do it right,” she answered. 

 

Amayla laid out the orders to the troops and everyone fulfilled their duties thoroughly and swiftly.  Dwarves were either dousing the building with oil, spreading it out in trenches, or cutting trees and arranging stragically placed wood piles.  When the warning horn announced the impending enemy arrival, all but a handful of dwarves left the settlement, taking everything of value that had been left behind. 

 

Amayla, Terssu, and the few remaining dwarves watched in silence as the orcs began ransacking the settlement.  When they were convinced that most of the orcs were inside, they started throwing the flash fire bombs causing explosions and lighting fires everywhere.  They shot fire arrows into every building, many of which were occupied by looting orcs.  Many wargs caught on fire causing them to run around and start more fires.  While Amayla would have loved to stay and fire off all her arrows into the bedlam, she ordered troops back to the mountain and into the tunnel that led to the tombs.  The orcs spotted them and began to purse.  As they got close to Ardru’s tomb, Amayla turned and threw the last flash fire blomb, setting off an explosion that caused a cave-in that sealed the tunnel.  Safely on the other side of the cave in, the dwarves lit torches and continued on.  Amayla paused briefly to touch her father’s carved image and whipered her final good-bye.  They followed the tunnel until it led to the southern exit outside of the garrison’s border.  There, several troops were waiting with ponies and Mist. 

 

They rode silently and swiftly, catching up to the rest of the troops just before they entered the northern gates of Ered Luin.  Amayla and Terssu immediately marched into the office of the commanding officer, pushing by the guards outside.  The dwarf jumped to his feet backing away from the obviously irate dam.  Amayla didn’t slow or bother to listen to whatever he was blathering about, instead she simply grabbed him by his tunic and slammed her fist into his nose.  Some of his gaurds moved to help him, but were halted by Terssu’s sword.

 

“You cowardly piece of orc dung! How DARE you not answer the call for aid by a fellow dwarf?!” Amayla growled inches from his bleeding nose.

 

Cowering in fear, he fell back covering his face with his hands, “Please captain, I was only following orders.  I need permission to deplay my troops!” he whined back.

 

“What kind of pitiful commander needs permission to answer a cry for aid?” Amayla raged, fist back at the ready.

 

“Please don’t hit me again!  Those are my direct orders from General Kovlar.”

 

“General Kovlar?? Since when is he a general?” she asked incredulously. 

 

“When Ardru died, the councillors thought we needed a general to replace him.  So they named Kovlar.”

 

“Kovlar wasn’t fit to be a soldier in Gorvuud and now he’s a general?  Mahal save us from idiots!  Did you at least shelter my people?  If not, I’ll be back – for your beard!”

 

“Aye, I did!  But there is not much extra room here.  They will find more space in the city itself,” he whimpered.

 

“Don’t worry about providing aid for us.  I wouldn’t trust you to take care of a litter of kittens!” she spat, tossing him against the wall.  “But I do wish you good luck in the future.  With the fall of Gorvuud, you are now the northern most defense against orcs.  You might want to consider asking permission to deploy some patrols,” Amayla sneered at him, dripping sarcasm. 

 

Amayla and Terssu easily found the population of Gorvuud gathered in the center of the barracks area.  Although there were being fed, it did not appear to Amayla that any other comfort had been offered.  Everyone gathered around her anxious to hear from their commander. 

 

“I’m sure you all know by now that Gorvuud is lost.  We can’t go back.  While we mourn our home, I do not believe that we would have been able to stay more than a year even without the orc attack.  Gorvuud was a fine home and we must remember it in story and song, but it’s time is over.  Each one of you now had a decision to make and no one should feel pressured or shame in doing what is best for themselves or their family.  As for me, I will go to Erebor at the first sign of spring.  I welcome anyone to join, but know that we will travel by pony only, no wagons.  We will travel through the mountains and Mirkwood.  It will not be easy but we will rest with the elves of Rivendell along the way.  I know that asking for respite from elves is inconceivable to many, and that is your right.  But if you come with me, that is the path we will take, and I assure you that the elves will welcome us.  I’m certain that there will be a caravan going the southern route to Erebor in the late spring.  If you want to go by wagon, you should wait for that.  And if you want to stay here in Ered Luin, that is, of course, your right.  Mahal knows that they need well-trained warriors.  But for now, we must travel to the city.  I am told there should be plenty of space for us there.  And since we do not come empty handed, I am sure we will be welcomed.  I am tired, as are many, so rest now, and be ready to leave first thing in the morning.”

 

It was only after using the communal washrooms that Amayla came to the realization that besides her weapons and her horse, she had no other possessions.  In all the planning and preparations for the attach, she had not packed anything for herself, no clothes, no bedroll, nothing.  What hurt the most was the letters she had lost, all the stories that she would reread in her few moments of solitutde.  With months of free time facing her, their loss cut deeply. 

 

After sleeping in the stable, Amayla ate and manged to find a dam who had tea to share with her.  The dwarves of Gorvuud arranged themselves quickly and left for the short trip to the main city of Ered Luin.  All morning and on the road, dwarves came up to her telling of their intention to make the trip to Erebor with her.  Only two families with infants and young dwarflings told her that they would wait for the southern caravan.  As far as she could tell, nearly every other dwarf was planning on going with her.  She was most surprised when Tamblor said that they would go as well since Moga was pregnant.  But Moga felt certain that the due date was far enough away that she would be safe to travel.  She was concerned that the later caravan would be more risky.  Amayla’s mind already started spinning with the thought of all the logistics for the trip. 

 

When they arrived at the gates of the city, they were welcomed warmly.  Obviously alerted that they would be coming, a group of dams directed the families to empty houses.  The soldiers were invited to an empty barracks after stabling their mounts. 

 

Amayla and Terssu were asked to go to the council chambers as soon as possible.  It was the same place and the same dwarves as when Amayila returned from Erebor four years earlier, with the glaring addition of Kovlar, son of Temlar, standing behind his father wearing the shiniest armor that Amayla had ever seen.  It was in pristeen condition, without a single dent or scratch.  Amayla had trouble keeping from laughing out loud when Terssu whispered that he looked like a toy that a dwarfling had just opened on Durin’s day. 

 

Temlar asked for a report and Amayla obliged, giving a brief but accurate description of the orc attack and how they had burned the garrison down rather than let it fall into orc hands. 

 

“Was that really necessary?” the chief counselor asked.  “I can’t believe your father would have approved of you destroying the settlement he founded.”

 

If Temlar was trying to intimidate the dam, it didn’t work.  “I had hoped that with the aid of the northern guard, that we could have defeated the orcs and stayed in Gorvuud.  But when they did not answer our call for aid because they had to wait for permission to deploy, I knew that we were lost.”

 

“So you burned the garrison and ran?” General Kovlar sneered. 

 

“No we did not run, Kovlar,” Amayly replied coolly, very clearly refusing to use his title.  “We evacuated everyone, carrying as much crops and goods as possible.  Again, had we received aid, we could have got even more out.  A few of us remained in hiding until most of the orc troops were inside the garrison and then we lit it up.  We killed a few with arrows but the fires took care of most of the enemy.  We escaped through the mountain, blowing up the entrance behind us.  We lost no lives and destroyed most of the enemy.  I believe my father, Thror’s General, would be most proud.”

 

“You think he would be proud that you now leave the rest of Ered Luin open to orc attacks?” Kovlar scoffed.

 

Calmy, Amalya replied, “Gorvuud’s days were numbered.  Too many dwarves had left.  We wouldn’t have lasted more than a year as it was.  As to orc attacks, I guess that is now your problem, General.”

 

“Since I am well aware that you are not welcome to return to Erebor, and as your superior officer, I will assign you to the northern guard.  Perhaps you can defend that without having to burn it down,” Kovlar mocked.

 

“Listening to gossip is no way to lead soldiers, Kovlar.  It is a lesson true leaders learn early on,” Amayla shot back at the insufferable dwarrow. 

 

“You deny that you are banished from Erebor?” he accused maliciously.

 

“Aye, that I do,” Amayla replied icily.  “Not only am I NOT banished, but I have had the King beg me to return.  It’s funny how saving his life and the lives of his nephews in battle gains his favor.  But you wouldn’t know about that having never actually been in a battle, would you?  And just for the record, you are not now, nor ever will be, MY SUPERIOR OFFICER!”

 

“You may not be banned from Erebor, but you are now banned from Ered Luin!  As general, I have that right!  I will not have a COWARD who ran from orcs in my mountains!” he screamed, face bright red, spittle landing on the dwarves in front of him. 

 

Terssu drew his sword and had it at the general’s throat in a flash, “SHE IS NO COWARD!”

 

“Stand down, Terssu,” Amayla ordered.  “His order means nothing.  I was not planning on spending the winter here anyway.  Let’s go.  We have much to do.”

 

The two soldiers left the room without bothering to bow. 

 

When they were far enough away, Terssu turned to Amayla, “What do you mean, you’re not staying?  You said that you weren’t leaving until the spring!”

 

“I’m not leaving for Erebor until the spring, but I will leave for the Shire tomorrow.  There is much that needs to be readied for the trip and I can take care of some of it better outside of Ered Luin.  You know that the prices of the goods we need will be ridiculously high here.  But I can procure them over time at different locations, from hobbits or men.  That way we can get a lot more for our money.”

 

“And you can visit your hobbit friends,” he smiled at her.

 

Amayla returned his smile, “Aye, I can visit my hobbit friends!”

 

After discussion with Bladurg and the other elders of Gorvuud, the plan was laid out.   The earliest they could leave was thought to be three months.  Terssu would travel to the Shire in six weeks with the final count of travelers and their needs.  That would leave Amayla enough time to purchase the supplies. 

 

Amayla had no money for supplies to get her to the Shire, but the dwarves all cobbled enough for their captain so that she was well outfitted when she left the next morning. 

Chapter Text

The weather on her trip held until the last day.  Snow flakes started gently fallng as she approached the border of the Shire, but they, and the wind, quickly increased until she was in the middle of a full-blown blizzard.  The going got very rough for Mist until Amayla finally got down and led her.  Based on where she was, Amayla knew that there was no shelter until she hit Foldram’s farm.  What should have taken her no more than two hours was going on five.  She couldn’t see the farm but finally smelled a wood fire.  Her spirit buoyed, Amayla picked up the pace until she literally bumped into a fence.  After thanking Mahal, Amayla followed the fence until she came to the barn.  She considered knocking at the house first, but decided to get Mist into shelter first. 

 

The barn was dark but Amayla found and lit a lantern hanging by the door.  She immediately saw Tigr happily standing in his stall and called out to her beloved pony.  He responded by neighing and tossing his head until she went over to rub him hello.  She was caked in snow, so the greeting was brief as she peeled off her out layers and set to work on stabling Mist.  As she was rubbing down her mare, a gust of winde hit her as the door opened. 

 

“WHO’S THERE!?” came a familiar voice.

 

Amayla walked around her horse to come into the light.  There she saw Frodrik, iron shovel in his hand, raised as if it were a weapon.   Chuckling to herself at the hobbit’s attempt at fierceness, Amayla called out, “Frodrik! Its me, Amayla!”

 

“Amayla?  What are you doing out here in this storm?” he exclaimed as he rushed forward to give the dam a hug.

 

Amayla returned the hug explaining, “I almost made it here before the store, but got caught up in it a few miles back.  It was tough going.  I’m sorry that I didn’t come to the house first, but I really needed to get Mist out of the snow as quickly as possible.”

 

“Of course, of course.  It’s wonderful to see you! Such a great surprise!  Foldram will be overjoyed, as well as the rest of the family.  Here, let me help you.” 

 

With Frodrik’s help, Amayla got Mist settled and grabbed her packs before heading out into the storm again.  Frodrik had shoveld a path between the house and the barn, but it was quickly being covered by the wind and more snow. 

 

As they entered the cozy house, Frodrik shouted out to his family, “Look who I found in the barn!”

 

Amayla was literally tackled by the young hobbits as she bent down to embrace them all.  Squeals and giggles filled the room as they all welcomed their favorite dwarf back. 

 

The storm subsided that night, but had dumped enough snow to keep them all snowbound for several days.  Amayla helped Frodrik and Foldram with clearing a new path to the barn and all the chores.  The simple family and farm life was a most welcome respite for her. 

 

The weather stayed cold but was clear and after a week Amayla said her good-byes to the Brandybucks to head to Bag End.  The roads were snow covered, but passable.  This time, Bilbo managed to stay conscience when he opened his front door to her.  She stabled Mist with Hamfast Gamgee who was more than happy to care for the sweet mare. 

 

Amayla’s time with Bilbo was restful and relaxing.  Frodrik had outdone himself making Bilbo’s table and it was now his pride and joy.  She finally had a chance to delve into Bilbo’s library, gleefully reading much of what the hobbit had acquired.  Since Bilbo had started working on a book about their quest, Amayla got a good laugh reading the chapter on when the dwarves first arrived at Bag End.  She also helped him outline the chapter on the trolls.

 

She gave him the run-down on what happened in Gorvuud and the plan on returning to Erebor. 

 

“What about Dwalin?” Bilbo finally asked.

 

“I really don’t know,” she sighed.  “It’ll be hard, but I’m hoping that I can do something, command a troop, run patrols, anything, that keeps me from seeing him on a daily basis.  The would just be too hard.” 

 

“Well, maybe he’s changed his mind.  Maybe it was all just a big misunderstanding.  You never really talked to him after the whole incident.”

 

“No.  There was no misunderstand.  He made his feelings perfectly clear when he gave Bombur my gift. I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it.  My duty is to the dwarves of Gorvuud.”

 

“But once you get to Erebor, they will no longer be your responsibility.  Then what?”

 

Amayla shrugged.  “I’m hoping Mahal lets me know.”

 

Bilbo, “Well I believe that Mahal will take care of you and you’ll be very happy in Erebor.”

 

Amayla simply shrugged. 

 

Six weeks after leaving Ered Luin, Amayla and Bilbo made for the Hobbit city of Michel Delwing.  The plan was to meet up with Terssu and finalize what supplies Amayla would need to procure.  She was excited to experience the capital of the Shire, never having made it that far west before.  Bilbo paid for rooms at a charming little inn in the center of the city.  Amayla was somewhat embarrassed to let Bilbo pay for everything but was not in a position to do anything else.  Amayla never had much money in her life, but Bilbo insisted saying that she had as much right to the gold from the troll hoard as he did.  For that, and the fact that it didn’t smell much anymore, Amayla was eternally grateful.  However, her dwarvish pride insisted that she would repay him once Thorin finally got around to paying her the wages he promised on the quest. 

 

The two explored the city, Bilbo very much enjoying showing Amayla all that hobbit culture had to offer.  She took note of the shops that might have the goods she needed, pleased that since it was winter, there were not as many shoppers out and about and the merchants seemed willing to make deals.

 

Terssu and three other soldiers from Gorvuud arrived two days later and found them at the inn.  After all the introduction were made, Terssu broke his news to Amayla.  “I’m not going with you to Erebor.”

 

Frowning, Amayla asked why.

 

The dwarf got a starry look on his face, cheeks flushed, and burst out, “I FOUND MY ONE!”

 

“What? When? How?” Amayla babbled.

 

“In the city.  Her name is Deva and she was helping get all the families settled when we met.  Her father is one of the counselors and a blacksmith by trade.  She accepted my bead and we will be married in the spring.”

 

“And she doesn’t want to go to Erebor?”

 

“No.  Her family is very settled in Ered Luin and she wants to stay.  And I want to make her happy.” 

 

“Well, I’m shocked by this news, but very happy for you.  Mahals blessings on you both.  I’m sorry that I won’t be there to dance the four swords dance at your wedding.  I’m also sorry that you won’t be going to Erebor.  I will miss you.”  She moved to peress her forehad against his before continuing, “but maybe it is a good thing you’re staying.”

 

When Terssu looked askance at her statement, she clarified, “It’s obvious that Ered Luin needs trained soldiers, now more than ever.  I have been worried about the mountain’s safety.  But with you there, I can rest much easier.  We’ll have to get you in the right position though.  Do you think that Deva would be willing to go to the northern post?”

 

“Probably.  She has a brother stationed there.  In fact, he was the one who helped Bladurg.”

 

Amayla smiled at that.  “That pleases me.  It shows a strong family.  I will write to Temlar.  Despite his fool for a son, he seemed to have some sense.  I will petition for him to name you commander there.  And if he doesn’t right away, I think I can get a certain king to order it!”

 

The dwarves then huddled around the table going over the supply list.  There was a great deal on it, but Bilbo was quite confident that they would have no problem finding everything in the Shire.  If not, certainly, in Bree.  When they started to make some of the purchases, Terssu affirmed that the prices and the selection were much better than back at Ered Luin. 

 

They purchased three ponies to help carry back their supplies.  The rest Amayla would take care of buying, along with the rest of ponies.  They would meet back on the outskirts of Michel Delwing in six weeks. 

 

After the dwarves left, Amayla and Bilbo headed to Brandybuck farm rather than to back to Bag End.  Bilbo had become quite fond of Foldram over the years and had been helping the young hobbit continue with his sword play. 

 

While Bilbo was telling some of the story of Mirkwood to Foldram and the girls, Amayla had an inspiration.  She was seated at their dining table admiring Frodrik’s workmanship when she remembered her first meeting with Thranduil and breaking his table, a story that Bilbo did not know. Thranduil would love something like this! She thought as she rubbed her hands across the intricate inlay.  Something with grapes . . .

 

“Frodrik, are you working on any project right now?” she asked.

 

“Just finished up a new wardrobe for the girls, so nothing right now.  What are you thinking?”

 

“How long would it take you to make a small side table, about yay-big?” she held out her hands about shoulder width apart.  “Enough to hold a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses?”

 

“Depends on what you want on top.”

 

“A grape vine with a hanging bunch of grapes.  And it would only need to be the top, no legs.”

 

Amayla watched the wheels turn in Frodrik’s head.  “As long as the weather stays the same, about four or five weeks.”

 

“Perfect!  Would you do it?  I’ll pay you! Well, Bilbo will pay you and I’ll pay him back.” She made an ashamed face at Bilbo.

 

“Of course, of course.” He waved her off. “But how are you going to carry it?  You aren’t taking any wagons.”

 

“This won’t be any bigger than a sword.  I can attach it to a pony or Mist.  That’s why I don’t want any legs.  King Thranduil should have some craftsmen that can finish it.”

 

“This is for a king?” Frodrik gasped.

 

“Aye.  I’m sure he’ll love it.”

.

.

 

The weeks flew by as the weather warmed.  Amayla and Bilbo were kept busy buying all the supplies.  They spent most of their time based out of Frodrik and Iris’ farm where they could stage all the supplies and stable the ponies.  Amayla had a most pleasant surprise buying ponies from a dealer in Bree.  She spotted two chestnut mares, both with blond hair and tails.  When she inquired about them, she was told that they were both five years old and were born from mares that he purchased from some elves several years ago.  Although it could never be proven, Amayla knew Tigr’s heirs when she saw them.  Of course she bought them both and took them as a good sign for the trip. 

 

In fact, everything about the trip was going well. She had all the necessary supplies stored and ponies waiting at Foldram’s farm.  Frodrik had finished the table for Thrandruil and it was perfect.  With her skill with leather, Amayla managed to create straps that held the table securely onto Mist.  Spring arrived early not only in the Shire but in Ered Luin allowing the dwarves of Gorvuud to get an early start.  Amayla was gladdened when the spotted the lines of ponies and dwarven wagons heading down from the north on one of her patrols looking for them.  Terssu and two of his best friends that also decided to remain at Ered Luin drove the wagons of goods and dwarves who had not yet met their ponies.  The dwarves were anxious to start the trip so only one day was needed to get all the ponies packed for an early morning departure.  The good-byes were hard on Amayla as before, this time but her heart was not as heavy this time and Bilbo promised to catch a caravan to Erebor very soon.

 

Their luck continued on the journey.  They had plenty of travel food, dried meats and grains.  And with the early spring, rabbits seemed to be everywhere, making it easy to catch fresh game along the way.  Everyone’s spirits seemed to match the weather.  It did rain occasionally, but usually only in the morning and it always seemed fairly dry when they made camp for the night.  Amayla trusted the soldiers that she had trained in Gorvuud implicitly.  They all knew their roles and carried them out without issue.  They met few travelers and encountered no signs of orcs, and the evenings were full of songs and stories.  Amayla kept thanking Mahal for his blessings. 

 

Chapter 56

 

By the time they reached the outskirts of the Valley of Imladris, some of the dwarrows grumbled about seeking the shelter of elves.  But once again, Amayla explained that they could not get through the mountain pass without the elves’ help.  And when Amayla pointed out the availability of real mattresses for sleeping, heated water for bathing, and laundry facilities, the dams in the group shut their husbands up, and clamored to go Rivendell.

 

As the approached Rivendell, they were met by a patrol of elves.  Amayla did not recognize any of them, but used her limited Elvish language skills to formally introduce herself as Amayla, heir to Ardru, of the Gorvuud garrison of Erid Luin, friend to Lord Elrond of Imladris and King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm.   Switching to the common tongue, she continued, “We are traveling to Erebor and seek the reknowned hospitality of Lord Elrond and the elves of Imladris to rest a few short days before continuing through the mountains.  I personnaly seek the guidance of Lord Elrond while renewing the friendships that I have made during my previous visits.”

 

The elves spoke quietly between themselves, somewhat taken aback by a dwarf on a horse, using an elvish saddle that had the markings of the Woodland Realm, who spoke Elvish, and talked about their lord as if an old friend.  Large number of dwarves or not, they felt that generousity was the most prudent course.  Two elves rode ahead, while the rest stayed back to guide the dwarves.  When Amayla answered the elves’ questions, explaining that it was Gildor who had taught her some Elvish and that her horse was a gift from King Thranduil himself, they knew that they had done right by letting the group enter Imladris.  They were even more convinced when they saw Lord Elrond, Lindir, and Glorfindel among the elves waiting for their arrival. 

 

Amayla nearly lept off Mist, throwing her reins at an approaching elf.  She strode up to the elves, hand on her heart, as they came forward to greet her.  Amayla formally asked Elrond for permission for her group to stay a few days, which he agreed to happily.  When she asked for a guide through the mountain pass, Elrond smiled widely and stepped to the side asking if “she would do?”

 

Confused, Amayla looked around the two tall elves until she spotted a familiar red head.  “Tauriel!” she squeeled running forward and embracing her friend.  Still not the most comfortable with the practice of hugging, Tauriel laughed and patted Amayla on her back. 

 

“I’m so happy to see you!” Amayla gushed.  “But why are you here?”

 

“My king had some missives for Lord Elrond.  I arrived only this morning.  The mountain pass just opened.  My group is the first through this spring.  And why are you here?”

 

“I’m leading my dwarves to Erebor.  Gorvuud is done, so we’re going to the mountain.” 

 

“Well I know many dwarves who will be most pleased by that!”

 

Elrond and Glorfindel stepped up and the two turned to them.  Elrond started, “Amayla, if you would lead your group to the stables, please.  I’ll have elves there to meet you and take them to some houses.  We do not have empty rooms for all, but each will have a bed.  Tialla probably has your room ready though.  After you are settled, I would like to speak with you.  At dinner perhaps. I am eager to hear your story and what has been happening in the North.”

 

“With pleasure and thanks, Lord Elrond.  And I assure you that these particular dwarves have been given direct orders as to their behavior.  Rest assured that there are several dams among them who will making certain that they all mind their manners!” Amayla answered solemnly.

 

“For that, I am most grateful.” Elrond returned with a small smirk. 

 

“And may I have the honor of joining both of you lovelies at dinner?” Glorfindel asked bowing graciously, his glorious hair falling forward over his shoulders.

 

“Of course,” Amayla smiled up, voice squeaking just a bit. 

 

Tauriel, on the other hand, lost her ability to speak.  She stared, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, until Amayla elbowed her in the hip.  “Yes!  Thank you M’Lord …..”

 

“Glorfindel,” Amayla whispered, laughing.

 

“Ah yes, my Lord Glorfindel,” Tauriel stammered out. 

 

Elrond rolled his eyes as Glorindel turned around twirling his robe behind him. 

 

Tauriel was still staring after the golden elf when Amayla tried to get her attention.  “Tauriel, Tauriel!  Helloooooo?”

 

The elf finally looked down on her smiling friend.  “Are we really having dinner with Glorfindel? The balrog slayer?”

 

“Aye, we are!  I take it you’ve never met him before.”

 

Tauriel shook her head no.  “Oh dear! What did I say to him?  Did I make a fool out of myself? I couldn’t even say his name!”

 

Amayla patted her friend on her back.  “No worries.  Believe me.  I was far worse when I first met him.  Couldn’t even remember my own name.  Someone had to give it to him for me.  And then when he asked me to spar, I could only giggle.”

 

“You sparred against him?”

 

“Aye.  He beat me of course.  But he was very gracious about it.  Now come help us to the stables.  I’ll introduce you to everyone.”

 

With all the dwarves dismounted and looking to her for guidance, Amayla passed on what Elrond had said.  She then took the opportunity to introduce Tauriel to them.  “She is an elf from Mirkwood and she is my DEAR friend.  She is also a hero of the battle of five armies.  She saved the life of Prince Kili and slew Bolg.  I trust her completely.”

 

The dwarves stared silently for a moment, before one of the dams spoke up, “If Captain Amayla says she’s trustworthy, then that’s good enough for me.”  And she grabbed her pony and headed off in the direction of the stables.  All the other dwarves shrugged and followed after her. 

 

After unpacking all their gear, a dozen elves appeared to take the dwarves to their lodgings.  Amayla and Tauriel followed along carrying the dam’s gear as well as the table For Thranduil.  When all the dwarves were settled, the two headed off to Amayla’s room where Tialla happily greeted the dwarf. 

 

The elf had Amayla’s elven clothes all laid out for her, including her favorite purple dress.  Amayla thanked her and went to her pack, pulled out a small bundle, and handed it to Tialla.  “It’s just a small thing, but I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and all the kindess you have shown me.” 

 

Tialla opened the package to find a beautifully crafted small wooden box with a top inlaid with different woods to create a simple, but pretty, geometric pattern. 

 

“You made this for me Amayla?”

 

“Aye, but with a lot of help and supervision of a very talented hobbit.”

 

“It is lovely, simply exquisite.  I am honored to call you friend.”

 

“As am I, Tialla.  May I hug you please?”  Amayla pleaded.

 

Tauriel burst out laughing at Tialla’s expressions which was somewhere between fear and shock.  “That’s the thing about dwarves, Tialla,” Tauriel stated, “They really like physical contact.  It’s not really that bad.  You get used to it.”

 

Amayla walked over and put her arms around Tialla’s very stiff body.  Behind her, Tauriel madly gestured to Tialla to pat Amayla on the back. 

 

When they separated, Tialla looked awkwardly at her box, “Thank you again for this.  I must be going.  Oh, just leave your laundry as usual.”

 

When the door shut behind her, the two females burst out laughing.  “You would think I had asker her to murder someone for me,” Amayla giggled.  Taurial added, “Or worse, asked her to eat meat!”  They fell down laughing.

 

“You were pretty startled when I first hugged you too!” Amayla reminded her friend, while wiping away her tears. 

 

“Indeed I was, but I’ve been around more dwarves than Tialla.  I had to get used to it.”

 

“Oh really,” Amayla sing-songed, “And did a certain dwarven prince help you get used to it?”

 

Tauriel immediately put her finger to her lips, shushing Amayla.

 

“Ok, ok.  I’ll be quiet,” she whispered, “but you have to fill me in.  What’s happening between you and you-know-who?  Good news, I hope!”

 

“Yes, in a way.  And you were right about Princess Dis being the one to worry about.  She was worse than the king.”

 

“Which king? Thandruil or Thorin?”

 

“Both.  I think they bonded over their fear of Dis.  Kili wanted to give me a bead, but Dis forbade it.  Thorin would only give his blessing if Dis gave hers.  And Thrandruil would only give his, if Thorin did first.”

 

“That doesn’t sound good.”

 

“It wasn’t, but then Fili stepped in.  I don’t know what he said to her, but afterwards she agreed to a courtship – in ten years.”

 

“Ten years!?”

 

“Yes.  Kili and I cannot see each other for ten years, but after that, if we still want to court, Dis will not stand in our way.”

 

“And you are okay with this?”

 

She shrugged.  “We have to be.  It’s not easy, but a dear friend once reminded me that I’m not getting any older.”

 

Amayla smiled at that memory, “When did all this happen?”

 

“Three years ago, after Dis returned to the mountain of course.  Thranduil has sent me on several long trips to Lothlorien and Rohan, so I get to travel.  It helps being away.”

 

“You are happy then?”

 

“Aye, I’m happy.  Anxious, but happy.”

 

“And now you get to have dinner with Glorfindel!  He’s not going to sway your feelings for Kili is he?” she nudged the elf. 

 

“No! Of course not!  I am excited to speak with him, but my heart is completely spoken for.  What about you?  If I can fall for a dwarf, you could fall for an elf!”

 

“I supposed if I were to fall for an elf, he would be the one!  But no, that’s not going to happen.”  Amayla got whistful for a brief moment before continuing, “Well, I need to clean up before dinner.  I’ll meet you down there.” 

 

At dinner, the females were joined by Elrond, Glorfindel, and Gildor.  Elrond was most interested to hear about Amayla’s dealings with the orcs in the north.  She explained that the first two years after she returned, there were no orc incursions at all, but that they had started back up the third year, and they had the full attack in the fourth year.  “I think we killed most of the force, but cannot say for certain as we were forced to retreat.  I do not like to speak ill of fellow dwarves, but if we had had assistance of competent leaders, we could have made certain that none escaped.  The garrision would still have to have been abandoned, but it would have been a much more glorious end.” 

 

“Rest easy, Amayla.  You did well for your people.  Ardru would be proud.” Elrond reassured her.  “And I am interested that the orcs are showing up again in larger numbers.  I am hearing similar stories from my sons.  It seems that they have been regaining strength after their loss at Erebor.  It is disturbing.” 

 

“Your sons are patrolling in the the north?”

“Aye, with the Dunedain. I am told that Legolas Greenleaf is with them.”  They all turned to Tauriel for confirmation.

 

“That is my understanding also.  Although my Lord Thranduil does not speak of him.”

 

After dinner, Amayla wanted to vist her dwarves, feeling slightly guilty for not joining them.  She asked Glorfindel and Tauriel to join her, both readily agreeing.  They found all the dwarves gathered around a large fire pit enjoying the warm evening.  Some dwarves had pulled out instruments and were playing a lively tune.  A few eyebrows were raised when Amayla appeared wearing her purple dress as most had never seen her in a dress before.  Many of her troops nudged each other and exchanged smirks causing Amayla to finally lash out, “Enough!  Yes, I am in a dress as I am a dam in case you didn’t remember!  But I am still your commander, so the next soldier I see smirking will be on latrine duty the rest of the trip!”

 

Her soldiers all shut their mouths and looked at the ground, although many still had small smiles on their faces.  One of the older dams, Bana, took Amayla by the hand and led her over to the circle, “Never mind these clods Amayla, you look beautiful, even if it is an Elven dress.  Come join us.”

 

“Thank you.  And my friends also?”  Amayla gave her a look as if to say how important it was to welcome the elves also.

 

“Of course,” the dam answered loudly, if not enthusiastically. 

 

“Thank you, Mistress Dwarf.  I have very much enjoyed dwarvish music in the past and I also know better than to ask Amayla to sing for us,” Glorfindel winked at the dam.

 

That drew a knowing smile from the dam and a hurt “hey!” from Amayla.

 

The music continued throughout the evening with several elves bringing out some instruments and joining in.  While not as raucous as when Bofur was leading the song selection, both dwarf and elf all enjoyed the tunes. 

 

Before the evening was over, Amayla had spoken to almost all of the dwarves personally and all seemed content with staying with the elves.  The families enjoyed the chance to rest, clean themselves and their clothes.  The soldiers were happy to not have to patrol for a few days, but Amayla insisted that this was also a time for all of them to get in sparring and archery practice.  At the mention of sparring, Glorfindel could not hold back, “If I am remembering correctly Amayla, when we last faced each other, you claimed that you were tired from sparring with others before me.  Perhaps you would do me the honor of sparring with me first thing in the morning when you are well rested?”

 

Before she had the chance to reply to the grinning elf, her dwarrows were behind her cheering her on.  Tauriel, no giving her any pity, chimed in encouraging Amayla to accept the challenge.  Knowing she had no choice but to accept, Amayla faced the tall blond, “Of course I would be honored Glorfindel, but Tauriel must also participate as she confided in me that it is her dream to spar against you.”  Tauriel’s head snapped around to face her friend, eyes wide with anger, but Amayla placed a hand on her arm, “Now Tauriel,” Amayla began overly sweetly, “no need to be shy.  I’m sure that Lord Glorfindel will be happy to accommodate us both.”

 

“I would indeed, Captain Tauriel,” Glorfindel assured them. 

 

When the tall blond took his leave, Tauriel sat down hard and moaned, “How could you say that to him?  I’ll be humiliated!”

 

“Maybe, maybe not,” Amayla winked at her friend. 

 

“What?  What are you thinking?”

 

“I’m thinking that he didn’t notice that I asked him to face us both!”

 

“So?  Do you think that one us will tire him out enough that the second can take him?”

 

“No Tauriel, I think that the BOTH OF US may be able to take him, together!”

 

“But . . .”

 

“What did I say to him?  I agreed to spar as long as you could participate, and that I was certain that he could accommodate us both, to which he agreed.  Just because you, and I’m guessing he, assumed that I meant that he would spar with you AFTER me, doesn’t really matter.  We will hold him to his word!”

 

Tauriel’s frown turned into a huge grin, “Amayla that’s brilliant!”  After pausing a moment, she continued, “But do you think we can win?”

 

“Well . . . .,” Amayla hemmed, “with two of us, we stand a chance.” 

Chapter Text

After a good night’s sleep on the most comfortable bed Amayla had ever known in her life, she was ready to face Glorfindel in the sparring rings once again, at least this time she had some hope of of success.  From what she could tell, all of her soldiers were there, along with what she assumed was half the population of Rivendell.  She and Tauriel stretched and warmed up a bit before Glorfindel arrived with Lord Elrond at his side.  Even in just simple leathers, the elf was striking.  He was fair and smiling, relaxed and yet one easily sensed that he could strike out at a moment’s notice. 

 

“Amayla, are you going to be first this morning?” he asked.

 

Amaylal put on her best fake surprised face, “Whatever do you mean, Lord Glorfindel? You agreed to face Tauriel and me both!”

 

Glorfindel frowned as Tauriel came and stood next to the dam, “And we are both ready, M’Lord.”

 

“Both of you?  I didn’t agree to that!”

 

“Oh but you did, M’lord,” Amayla smiled innocently up at the golden elf.  “I agreed to spar if Tauriel could also, and you agreed to accommodate us BOTH!”

 

“But . . I just assumed that Captain Tauriel would go after you.”

 

“And that should teach you never to assume, M’lord!”

 

Lord Elrond laughed out loud, and patted Glorfindel on the back, “I believe the ladies are correct Glorfindel, or do you decline?”

 

Glorfindel frowned at both females before sighing and breaking into a dazzling smile, “Of course I do not decline.  In fact, I believe that this will be fun!” 

 

Amayla and Tauriel turned their backs to the elf, “That was a little ominous don’t you think Amayla?”

 

“Aye, but we can take him!  ---- I hope.  At least I’m not giggling this time.” 

 

They discussed their strategy while Glorfindel warmed up a bit and then the match began.   

 

Amayla didn’t remember Glorfindel being as fast as he was against the two of them.  Both females were immediately put on the defensive but seemed to be holding their own.  They tried their best to outflank him, but he was always spinning and leaping out of their way.  Amayla was appreciative of the shouts of encouragement from her people, but too often she could hear the gasps of astonishment as Glorfindel made move after move to avoid or attack the two females.  This time, though, Amayla was more rested and was more willing to go on the offensive against the great elf.

 

“Very good Amayla,” Glorfindel taunted after one such attempt, “at least this time you are willing to attack me.”

 

“Just don’t complain when your hair ends up wrapped around my sword, elf!”

 

They had been sparring for what seemed to be for hours, when Amayla noticed a small opening in Glofindel’s back when both she and Tauriel attacked up high.  Thinking this was her best chance to get a touch on the elf, Amayla repeated the attack.  Unfortunately, Tauriel had noticed the same opening, so when the opportunity presented itself again, both females jumped at the chance, attacking in the same place at the same time.  Glorfindel, having left the opening up on purpose, leapt back resulting in Amayla and Tauriel slamming into each other and falling to the ground.  Before either could resume their stances, Glorfindel calmly tapped each of them on their head with the flat of his sword, smiling as he said, “One for you, and one for you!”

 

The elves watching all cheered while all the dwarves let out large groans of disappointment.  Amayla and Tauriel looked at each other and then collapsed to the ground.  Lord Elrond came into the ring and offered his hand to Amayla while Glorfindel offered his to Tauriel.  “Well done ladies!” Elrond praised, “that was a most entertaining match!”  When Amayla only shook her head in despair, he patted her on the back.  “Now don’t be ashamed.  You should be very proud, for unless I am mistaken, I believe that I saw drops of perspiration on Glorfindel’s forehead.  You had him sweating, and I do not recall the last time I saw that!” 

 

Glorfindel immediately wiped his hand across his brow and looked down at his fingers in surprise and shock. 

 

Tauriel turned to Amayla, “That seems like a small victory to me!” 

 

“I’m counting it as one!” Amayla replied laughing. 

 

Amayla brushed herself off and then ordered her soldiers to start sparring themselves.  She and Tauriel walked among them watching.  At times, Amayla would step in to offer some instruction.  It was when she got to Farrak that Amayla asked Tauriel for advice. 

 

“He is a very good soldier, would make an excellent officer, but I just can’t promote him,” Amayla sighed sadly. 

 

“Why not?” questioned Tauriel.  “He seems like a strong warrior and if you like him, why not promote him?”

 

“Watch this,” Amayla answered.  She entered the sparring ring and took over for the dwarrow facing Farrak.  Within a matter of a few minutes, she had struck Farrak on his left side several times.  Farrak, frustrated, slammed his sword into the ground as Amayla went over to talk to Amayla.

 

“I see your problem Amayla.  Do you think he would be willing to work with me?” Tauriel asked.

 

“If you are willing, I will make certain he will be also.  Do you think you can help him?”

 

“I’ve seen something like this before.  I have a few ideas.”

 

“Thank you Tauriel.  Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

 

Farrak was hesitant at first, and Amayla left it up to him, “You can continue to get beaten by all, or you can get help from Tauriel, who has been a captain in the Woodland Realm for . . . ,” Amayla looked to Tauriel.

 

“600 hundred years.”

 

“600 hundred years.  Your choice,” Amayla finished firmly.

 

Farrak agreed to to Tauriel’s help.

 

Amayla spent the rest of the day watching over her soldiers’ sparring and later archery practice.  She also sent some of the them to the fletcher to make certain their arrow supply was full.  The dwarves were going to spend one more full day in Rivendell and all were looking forward to actually resting for a day. 

 

In the late afternoon, an elf approached Amayla at the archery range.

 

“Mistress Amayla?  Do you remember me?”

 

Amayla turned to face the elf that she did not recognize.  Frowning, she replied no.

 

The elf pointed to his nose.  Amayla looked closer, seeing that his nose didn’t look perfectly straight.  In fact, it looked like had been broken at one time. 

 

“Ohhh, I do now.  You were one of the elves that went with me to find my pony and then shot the bear.”

 

“Aye, that was me.  When I heard that you were here, I wanted to be sure and apologize to you.”

 

“I broke your nose and you want to apologize to me?”

 

“Yes, would you talk with me?”

 

Amayla nodded her consent and the elf led her a little ways away to a bench overlooking a waterfall.

 

“Pethondir,” the elf bowed formally, hand on his chest.

 

“Amayla, at your service,” the dam returned, hand on her heart. 

 

“Since you were here last, Lord Elrond tasked me with learning more about bears.  I have spent the last several years watching them, learning about them, and trying to protect them.  They really are magnificent creatures.  I understand now why you reacted the way you did.  I deserved it.  I apologize for killing the bear.”  With that, he bowed and placed his hand on his heart. 

 

“I am so pleased to hear your words Pethondir.  Apology accepted.”

 

“We will be going out on bear patrol tomorrow.  It is our first of the spring.  I would be honored if you would accompany us.” 

 

“I would love to, but I will be leaving the day after tomorrow.”

 

“We can make it a single day patrol and get you back.  I would love to get your opinions on what we are doing.   You have been doing this much longer that I.” 

 

“Then it would be my pleasure Pethondir.  I will meet you in the stables at first light.” 

 

“Thank you, Mistress Amayla.”

 

.

.

 

Early the next morning, Amayla was dressed in her freshly cleaned clothes, thanks to Tialla, and off to meet up with Pethondir.  They rode out with four other elves to the same woods that Amayla had visited when searching for Tigr.  Pethondir led them to a clearing that he said often held bears and Amayla pointed out a stand of trees that would be good for observation.  The branches started too high for Amayla to reach, but she had no problem allowing the elves to lift her up.  Within an hour, a sow and two cubs ambled into view.  They watched her overturn a few logs, obviously searching for grubs and then start digging up at the base of a tree. 

 

“Do you know what she’s doing?” Pethondir asked very, very softly. 

 

“She’s digging up a squirrel hoard.  Its probably full of pine nuts.”  The elves nodded in understanding. 

 

After the bears left, they all climbed down, with Amayla dropping to the ground on her own.  The elves rode around the forest, showing Amayla where they usually saw bears and where they’ve had problem encounters with bears.  At noon, they headed back. 

 

They stabled their horses and proceeded to the library.  There Amayla requested a map and some paper.  She gave the elves hints for identifying individual bears and then showed them how to create maps marking where each had been sighted, helping to determine the ranges of each. Then, with the help of the librarian, they searched through several bontany books to determine the elven name of plants that Amayla knew were successful in discouraging bears. 

 

At the end of the day, Pethondir thanked Amayla profusely for sharing her knowledge with them.  

 

“It has been my pleasure.  I am thrilled to know that you are being such excellent stewards of the forest,” she stated honestly.

 

“I hope you return and can spend more time with us.  We have all learned more from you in half a day than in all the years we have been doing this.  Again, you have our thanks and may the Valar watch over you on your journey.”

 

Amayla bowed and pressed her hand to her heart. 

 

 

She returned to her room for a good soak in her favorite tub before joining Lord Elrond and the others for dinner.  Amayla was laughing with Glorfindel and Tauriel when the entrées arrived.  Her mind elsewhere when the servants lifted the lids, Amayla’s face fell when she saw the fish.  Lord Elrond picked up on it immediately, raising his eyebrows.  Knowing she had been caught, Amayla admitted the obvious.  “Lord Elrond, I appreciate your hospitality more than I can say.  You are most kind.  I have been more than satisfied with all the food you have provided, but I must admit something to you, I simply do not like fish.  I realize that you provided it specially for us dwarves, but as far as I am concerned, I’ll stick with the sides.  Sorry.”

 

Before Elrond could respond, Glorfindel spoke up, “Good!  More for me!” And he helped himself to a very large serving. 

 

Elrond frowned at the golden elf before turning to Amayla, “As long as you are satisfied Amayla, I am pleased.  As to the fish, it does not seem that it will be wasted.” 

 

After dinner, Amayla checked in with her dwarves and all were prepared for an early departure.   As she wandered through Rivendell, taking in the sights, she spotted Tauriel in front of the infamous water fountain. 

 

“Thinking about him?” she asked as she snuck up on the red head.

 

“Amayla!  You startled me!”

 

“Sorry! But I didn’t think it was possible for a dwarf to startle an elf.  I guess that answers my question.”

 

“Aye, I’m thinking about him.  Seven more years.”

 

“Do you want me to say anything to him?”

 

“Yes, but no.  Is that cheating?  I don’t want to do anything to ruin our chances.”

 

“How about I just tell him that you’re counting the days.”

 

“Yes.  That is fine.  Tell him that.  That couldn’t be seen as cheating.”

 

“Of course not.  And I am counting the days also.  I am very much looking forward to your wedding!  I can only imagine what an extravagance it will be.” 

 

“So it would be under the mountain?”

 

“Of course, after all, you’d be marrying a prince of Erebor.  I would expect it to be the biggest thing since Smaug.  Although I don’t really know what kind of weddings they’ve had in the last few years.”

 

“Well I believe they’ve had at least one.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes, Kili told me that one of the members of the company was going back to Ered Luin to bring back his one and that he expected it to be a big celebration.”

 

Intrigued, Amayla asked who, never suspecting the name she was about to hear.

 

“The bald one.”

 

“Dwalin?” she whispered as all the air was sucked out of her body.

 

“Yes, that’s right.  Dwalin.  You seem surprised.”

 

It was all Amayla could do to breathe.  She turned her back to Tauriel, ostensibly looking at the fountain, “Yes, I’m surprised.  I didn’t realize he had a dam waiting for him in Ered Luin.”

 

“Then I take it you do not know her.”

 

“No.  I didn’t know any dams outside of Gorvuud.”

 

“Well I can’t say that the wedding happened.  I was gone before the first caravans returned, but Kili seemed pretty excited about it.”

 

“I’m sure it was lovely.” After pausing a moment, Amayla continued, “I think I’ll find my way back to my room and get a good night’s sleep.  See you in the morning Tauriel.”

 

After parting, Amayla found a spot right next to a waterfall where she felt that the noise of the water would cover her tears.  She sunk to the ground and wrapped her arms around her knees and let the the tears flow unabated.  Never ever had it entered her mind that Dwalin had already found his one.  Why didn’t he say something about her?  How could I have not known?  I can’t breathe.  Mahal help me, I can’t breathe! 

 

She sat that for a good part of an hour, sobbing, when she heard someone call her name.

 

“Amayla?  Is that you?  What is wrong?”

 

Amayla peered up to see Lord Elrond looking at her with concern.  He held a hand out to her and helped her to a nearby bench. 

 

“Tell me please, my dear.  I could feel your pain across the valley.”

 

“You can feel my pain?”

 

“I am a healer and am much intuned to pain in others.  Usually I cannot tell as clearly with other races, but your pain is so strong, it could not be missed.”

 

“I’m sorry to have bothered you m’Lord,” she replied, wiping her eyes.

 

“Amayla, please talk to me.  I would help if I could.”

 

“There’s nothing you can do to help me.  I am an idiot and the pain is of my own making.”

 

“I doubt that.  Your heart is broken?”

 

“Yes,” she squeeked out, “how can you tell?”

 

“I am familiar with your pain. My wife . . .”

 

“Oh, that’s right.  Your wife is gone.  I’m so sorry to have reminded you.  I didn’t mean to cause you any pain.  You’ve been so kind.”

 

“Do not worry.  You didn’t cause my pain.  I remember her every day.”

 

“How do you live with it? The pain, I mean.”

 

“I remember the good memories.  There is always some pain, but the good outweighs the bad.”

 

“I don’t have any memories, only dreams.”

 

“I do not understand Amayla.”

 

“I fell in love.  He is my one.  Of that I am sure.  But he doesn’t love me, and I just learned that he married another.  And I don’t know how to go on.”

 

“I see and am very sorry.  I wish there was something magical I could do to make your pain disappear, but there is not or I would have used it on myself.  There is only time.  But I also have the gift of foresight, and although your future is not perfectly clear to me, I do see you happy.”

 

“I don’t see how that is possible m’lord.  Not that I doubt you, I just – just – just can’t imagine it.”

 

He put an arm around her shoulder.  “You have a strong heart Amayla.  It may feel broken now, but you are too good a being to go without love.  It may not be the romantic love of your dreams, but it is real.  There are not many that I have seen that have made friends so easily or deeply, who engender the respect of all races just by being herself.  I cannot say that I know your fate, but I believe it will be one of which you will be most pleased.”

 

“I cannot think that far into the future m’lord.  I don’t know how I’m going to get through tonight, much less tomorrow.”

 

“Take it one day at a time, one task at a time. Deal only with what it directly before you. The future will come on its own.”

 

“I don’t know how.”

 

“Just get your people over the mountains.  That is the task before you now.”

 

“And then?”

 

“And then a new task will present itself.  You will deal with it and you will succeed.  And I might be able to help you with tonight.”

 

He took Amayla’s hand and gentlyl escorted her to her room.  Before leaving he put his hand on her forehead and whispered something in elvish.  Amayla felt the pain leave her and she was barely able to stand.  Elrond signaled to Tialla who put her to bed. 

 

The next morning, Tialla gently woke up her friend.  Amayla was shocked at how deeply she had slept.  She met up with everyone in the stables and was happy to see Elrond, Glorfindel, and even Pethondir there to see them off. 

 

She approached Elrond first, “I believe I have you to thank for my good night’s sleep, m’lord.”

 

He smiled down at her, nodding in acknowledgement, “It was a small thing I did.  You needed to be well rested for your journey through the mountains.”  He bent over to speak softly into her ear, “You are most welcome to return here and stay as long as you wish.  I know that Pethondir would welcome you leading the bear patrols.  May the Valar watch over you and show you the way.”

 

“Thank you m’lord, and thank you for your hospitality.”

 

“I must say Amayla, that everyone in Imladris has remarked on how pleasant it has been having your people here.  Much different than when Thorin Oakenshield’s company stayed with us.”

 

Amayla’s grin encompassed her face, “Thank you m’lord.”

 

She said her good-byes to all her elven friends, mounted up, and rode out.  Lord Elrond is right.  One step at a time. First, get everyone safely over the mountain.

Chapter Text

It took them over a week, but they made it through the mountains without incident.  It wasn’t until they hit the foothills just before they crossed over the Anduin river to enter Mirkwood than they ran into a problem.  It was evening, and two soldiers of the patrol of dwarves and elves returned shortly after setting out.  Amayla and Tauriel immediately jumped up to meet them. 

 

“Orcs, Captain!” both the dwarf and elf shouted, trying to get in front of each other. 

 

“Orcs?!” both captains replied in unison, before turning to each other.  Tauriel bowed her head, giving the lead in the inquisition to Amayla.

 

“Report!” she stated firmly, looking to her soldier. 

 

“To the south, captain, a group of about 30, probably a patrol, with wargs.”

 

She turned to the elf, “Distance?”

 

“About five miles, to the south.  They were making camp.  They didn’t detect us.”

 

“The others?”

 

“They stayed behind, watching.”

 

“Good.  Well done, both of you.”

 

“Captain?” the dwarf interjected.

 

“Aye?”

 

“They were eating a bear,” he spat out.

 

Amayla nodded curtly, anger flashing in her grey eyes.  She turned to Tauriel and the two captains walked off. 

 

Tauriel faced her friend, “Do you want to take them on?  We could probably lose them easily when we cross the river tomorrow.”

 

Amayla slowly looked up at the tall elf, “You are welcome to lead my people into the woods tomorrow, but my soldiers and I will be killing some orcs tonight.”

 

Tauriel smiled evilly, “I was hoping you would say that, and my soldiers will be right by your sides.”

 

“I will leave two soldiers behind if you will leave two behind.  If something happens, they can lead the group to safety.”

 

“Agreed.”

 

“When we reach where the patrols are watching them, I will take a group of my dwarves around to outflank them.  I prefer than no orc gets away.”

 

“Agreed.  Let’s get everyone mounted.”

 

The two captains returned to their people.  They both called over two of their soldiers.  None was happy to be left behind.

 

“Farrak, Guldam, this is not a punishment.  In fact, it is an honor because I trust you two to lead our group to safety if we do not return by the morning.  You follow the elves and go to Thrandruil’s Halls.  He will shelter you.”

 

Farrak looked skeptical.  “Just tell him that I sent you.  It will be fine.”

 

“Aye Captain.”

 

The soldiers all mounted up and as quietly as possible caught up to where the other scouts were watching the orcs. 

 

They planned for Amayla to lead half the troops around to the far side of the camp.  Tauriel and her troops would wait for her attack before joining in.  Amayla’s troops were well trained and experienced.  There was no need for voice commands.  Any communication was done through Iglishmek.  It didn’t take them long to work their way around the orcs.  And when they were in position, Amayla led the attack.  When Tauriel heard the noise, she attacked from the other side.  Although the orcs had almost twice the number as the dwarves and elves, the were caught completely unaware.  They put up a fight, but were quickly cut to pieces. 

 

Near the end of the battle, two orcs mounted on wargs appeared on the outskirts of the now decimated camp.  They took one look at the bloody scene, turned around and fled.  Tauriel and Amayla both saw them at the same time. 

 

“Let them go.  The can tell their superiors of the loss,” Tauriel remarked without much emotion.

 

“No!” Amayla answered, still running high on adrenaline, “None escape!” 

 

She jumped on her horse and took off after the two, not waiting for anyone to join her.

 

“AMAYLA!  IT’S NOT WORTH IT!” Tauriel screamed to no avail. 

 

Two dwarves standing nearby looked at each other in amazement.  Tauriel read the concern on their faces.  “Is that usual for your captain to take off by herself like that?”

 

One of them looked up at her, eyes wide, and shook his head, “No.  Never,” he nearly whispered. 

 

“Go after her!” Tauriel commanded. 

 

It took a few minutes for the dwarves to mount up, but then they were away at speed.  When they caught up to their captain, there were two dead orcs at her feet, but Amayla was facing two angry wargs.  The soldiers quickly drew their bows and shot the wargs, while Amayla finished them off with strikes to their necks. 

 

Noticing the blood dripping down her arm, one soldier ran up to her, “Captain, you are injured!”

 

Amayla looked down at her left arm, “It is nothing but a scratch.  Let’s head back.”

 

Other than Amayla, there were no injuries, and the soldiers were working together to gather the dead and start a pyre. 

 

Tauriel immediately went to her friend’s side to tend to her wound. “That was foolish of you to go after those two by yourself,” she admonished Amayla.

 

“I did not want any survivors to alert others to our location,” she replied tersely as Tauriel cleaned out her wound. 

 

“And because you did not wait, you have a lovely warg bite to deal with.  They can often lead to infection.”

 

“Just clean it out.  I’ll be fine,” Amayla answered brusquely.

 

The sun was up by the time all the orcs and wargs had been piled up and burned and they could return to the rest of the group.  The camp was empty when they arrived, but as there were no signs of any trouble, Amayla knew that Farrak had gotten every one up and away as quickly as possible.  Although they were all tired, they kept going to cross the river and head into Mirkwood.  It didn’t take long when they caught up with the group and reunited.

 

 The Forest Road was much better kept up than the Elven Road that Amayla had taken with Thorin’s Company.  This was much wider and far easier to follow.  Tauriel explained that since Erebor had been restored that here was more travel through Mirkwood, so the Forest path was being used far more often.  They stopped early and rested for the night.   The plan was for Tauriel and her troops to escort the dwarves through Mirkwood and up to Lake Town where the elves would then have an easy trip back to Thranduil’s halls.  Amayla was getting more quiet the further they went along.  Finally, Tauriel would have no more of it. 

 

The second night in Mirkwood, Tauriel pulled Amayla aside.  “What is going on with you?  You have barely spoken since the attack on the orcs, and even in the mountains, you were much more quiet than usual.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Tauriel.”

 

“Oh really!  Something is wrong, I can tell.  And I think your soldiers sense it too.  They told me that it was completely unlike you to go after those orcs by yourself and now you’re barely talking to anyone, much less smiling or laughing.  I though we were friends and friends tell each other their problems.”

 

“Maybe my arms just hurts.”

 

Concerned, Tauriel grabbed Amayla’s hand.  “Then let me see it.  I thought that I had cleaned it out properly, but it could be infected.  Warg bites are nasty.”

 

Amayla reluctantly let Tauriel look at the wound, “It is healing just fine Amayla.  That is not the problem.  What is?”

 

Amayla sighed, “Its just that I don’t want to go back to Erebor.  The closer we get, the worse I feel.”

 

“But why?  You are not banished.  They will welcome you with open arms, I’m sure of it!”

 

“There is one I cannot face.”

 

Tauriel thought for a moment.  “Dwalin?”

 

“Aye,” Amayla choked out.

 

“I thought you acted a bit strange when I mentioned him in Imladris. What happened between you two?”

 

“Nothing.  That’s the problem.  I fell in love.  He has married another.  What more is there to say?”

 

“I’m sorry Amayla.  I had no idea.  I didn’t mean to cause you distress.”

 

“Of course you didn’t. Its not your fault. Noboby knew how I felt about him except Bilbo and sort of Lord Elrond now, although he doesn’t know who.  Its good that you told me.  I wouldn’t have wanted to find out in Erebor.”  She paused for a moment, the silence growing between the two.  “I’ve gotten my people over the mountain.  Now I have to get them through Mirkwood and to Lake Town.  But at that point, they won’t need me anymore and I’m not sure that I can go all the way.  It just hurts too much.”

 

“I’m so sorry Amayla.  I wish I knew what to say.”

 

“Don’t worry Tauriel.  You are a good friend.  This is just something I need to figure out on my own.”

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the days in Mirkwood went without incident.  Finally, they hit the Celduin river and turned north.  When they first spotted the mountain through the trees in the early afternoon, all the dwarves stopped in their tracks.  Many cheered, others wept at seeing their future home.  They would have one more night on the road before making it to Laketown. 

 

As they were settling down after what they assumed would be their last dinner over a campfire, a piercing scream split the peace.  Amayla and Tauriel were on the feet in a second, weapons drawn, rushing over to see what was the problem.   They found Tamblor kneeling next to his wife, Moga, who was sprawled out on the ground grasping her pregnant abdomen. 

 

“What happened?” Amayla asked concerned.

 

“I just tripped.  I’m not even sure over what!” Moga cried out, face grimacing.

 

“She fell straight down on her belly!” Tamblor added, holding his wife’s hand and brushing the dirt off of her.

 

“I’m fine, really.  Just embarrassed,” Moga reassured everyone. 

 

But when her husband helped her to her feet, the pregnant dam doubled over in pain.

 

“Is it the baby?” Amayla asked.

 

“I think so, but it is too early!” she cried out, tears streaming down her eyes.

 

Bana, the oldest dam in the group, stepped up and took Moga from Tamblor, “Babes come when they want to, not necessarily when they are supposed to, Lass.  Let’s get you comfortable.”

 

It wasn’t long after getting Moga situated that Bana came back and pulled Amayla and Tauriel aside.  “It isn’t good, Captain.  The babe is not turned properly but the contractions have definitely started.  If the baby doesn’t turn, we may lose both of them.”

 

“Do you know how to turn the baby?” Amayla asked.

 

“I’ve heard of it being done, but I am not a mid-wife.  I don’t know how to do it,” Bana admitted.

 

Amayla looked at Tauriel who shook her head no, “I have no experience with birthing babies.”

 

Amayla held her face in her hands, desparately trying to think.  “We need a healer. How close are we to Laketown?  Could we get someone and bring them back?”

 

Tauriel responded, “At this point, I think we are just as close to Thrandruil’s Halls and I would trust elven healers far more than any in Laketown.” 

 

“Agreed.  How long would it take you to get there and bring someone back?”

 

“More than a day.”

 

Bana spoke up, “I don’t believe she has that long.”

 

“Then we’ve got to get Moga there.  That would cut the time in half,” Amayla stated.

 

“But how captain?  She cannot ride, not in her condition.  She’d fall off,” Bana insisted.

 

“What if we built a litter, and attached it between two horses?” Tauriel suggested. 

 

“Will that work?  Have you ever done that before?” Amayla asked.

 

“I did it once, hundreds of years ago, when a fellow guard fell on patrol.  I think it will work.”

 

“You think it will work?!” asked Bana. 


“It will work.  It has to,” Amayla insisted.

 

Amayla ordered several of her dwarves to help Tauriel in whatever way the elf captain needed, while she went and to talk to Moba and Tamblor.

 

After hearing of the plan, Tamblor was not impressed.  “There has to be a safer way.  I do not want our baby born in Elvish lands.”

 

“You have no choice Tamblor!  Not if you want your wife and child to live!” Amayla snapped. 

 

“Tamblor, if Captain Amalya says that is what we should do, we will do it.  I am not worried about myself, but I will not risk our baby,” Moba said softly, soothing her husband.  “But only if you come with us Amayla.  Please!  I don’t want to go into the elven lands alone.” 

 

“I will stay right by your side Moba,” Amayla assured her, before leaving to talk to Tauriel.

 

“Tauriel, I will go with Moba and Tamblor, but would you please lead my people to Dale?  I want to make certain they get to the other side of the lake, and I trust no one more than you.”

 

Tauriel thought for a moment and then nodded in agreement.  “I will send three guards with you.  One can ride ahead and alert the healers, the other two will ride the horses with the stretcher.  The husband will need to ride with you.  A pony would be too slow.” 

 

“Agreed.  And I thank you most deeply, my friend.”

 

Within an hour, a stretcher had been fashioned and secured between two elvish horses.  Amayla had given her orders to her dwarves, and while they were not happy to have their captain leave them, they were all worried about Moga and her baby.  Even though it was dark, the elves felt secure enough in the path to leave, and time was critical.  Moga and Tamblor said good-bye to their dwarfling who was going to stay with his cousin.

 

The sky was clear and the moonlight managed to provide enough light so that the small group could proceed at a decent clip.  They rode in silence except for the moans from Moga.  They were not too close together which brought Amayla some measure of comfort.  She didn’t know much about babies, but she did know that the closer together the pains were, the sooner the baby would come.  The third elf had long since left their sight.  It was Amayla’s deepest hope that he would reach Thrandruil and would return with a healer before it was too late. 

 

As the morning sun started to light the sky, Amayla was thrilled to see the Forest river in front of them.  She had been here once before, after escaping in the barrels and fighting off the orcs.  She knew that it wouldn’t be much farther, but she also knew the path would be far more difficult, rougher, more narrow, and uphill the whole way. 

 

As the sun began to rise, so did Moga’s pains.  At every moan, Tamblor would squeeze Amayla tighter as he rode behind her on Mist.  Amayla could only imagine the bruises he was leaving on her sides, but knew better than to complain.  Moga was bearing up with far more than she, and Tamblor was facing losing both his child and wife. 

 

Suddenly a troop of elves appeared before them on the path.  Amayla had never been so happy to see an elf in her life.  She was even more thrilled when she saw Neston jump off a horse and approach them.  Amayla quickly explained to Tamblor that she knew the healer and trusted him completely.  Her words didn’t slow the dwarrow down as he rushed to his wife’s side while Neston examined her.  Amayla hurried behind. 

 

Neston laid his hands on Moga’s belly before issuing some orders in Elvish.  He nodded to Amayla before turning to Tamblor.  “There is no time to lose.  We must get the baby turned before it lodges in the birth canal.  If we wait much longer, there will be nothing that I can do to save them.  There is a clearing just up ahead.  I’ve ordered a tent to be set up.  We need to move.”

 

Tamblor seemed frozen so Amayla pushed him back to her horse.  He looked directly at Amayla, face having gone ashen, “I can’t lose her,” he whispered. 

 

Amayla had no words for him, but simply boosted him up onto Mist, before pulling herself up.  She followed the elves off the path and into a clearing where some of the elves were setting up a large tent.  As soon as it was up, two elves carefully lifted Moga and carried her into it. 

 

Neston stopped Tamblor from entering the tent, to which the dwarrow vehemently objected.  “Master dwarf, I am going to have to put my hands inside your wife to turn the babe.  It will be messy and cause your wife pain.  I don’t think you will want to watch.  In fact, I am certain you won’t.  You will only be a distraction for me and your wife.  You need to stay outside.”

 

“I am not leaving my wife alone with you!” Tamblor shouted while trying to push past the much larger elf. 

 

“I will not be alone with her.  I will have female attendants with me, and if it makes you feel better, I’m sure that Amayla would be willing to sit with your wife.”

 

Amayla put her hand on Tamblor’s shoulder.  “I will stay with her just as I promised her, Tamblor.  Rest easy.  I know Neston will do everything he can for Moga.”

 

Tamblor had tears in his eyes as he looked at Amayla.  “Captain Amayla, please . . . “  He couldn’t say anymore.

 

“I know Tamblor, I know.”

 

Neston firmly guided Amayla away from the distraught dwarrow and into the tent.  Moga was laying on a cot, sweat pouring down her face, as she grimaced in pain.  Amayla was impressed with how quickly Neston’s attendants had set up the tent with several tables filled with medical instruments and knives that Amayla didn’t want to think about.  There were also bowls of water and plenty of towels. 

 

Neston pulled Amayla aside and spoke to her softly, “Have you ever assisted in a birth before Amayla?” 

When the dwarf shook her head no, Neston continued, “Hold her hand and talk to her.  Try to get her mind off of what I am doing to her.  You could also wipe her brow.  Just do anything to keep her calm.  And it would probably be best if you don’t watch what I’m doing.  If you start to feel the least bit queasy or faint, sit down!  We don’t need to deal with you along with her.” 

 

Amayla gulped, eyes wide in fear. 

 

“She’s going to need you to be strong for her Amayla, can you do it?”

 

“I’ll do it,” she answered, trying to convince herself.

 

Neston started talking to Moga in a soft, soothing voice.  He explained that he would be pushing on her abdomen to try and turn the baby.  It was going to cause her pain but the more she could relax, the easier it would go. 

 

Amayla held Moga’s hand throughout the procedure, even though at times, she though that Moga might break every bone.   Finally, Neston stopped pushing on Moga and announced that the baby was flipped and ready to be born.  Amayla sighed with relief while Moga screamed out her thanks. 

 

“Now it’s just like any other birth, and you’ve been through this before, Moga.  You can do it.” Neston encouraged the dam. 

 

The attendants brought out a birthing chair and helped Moga into it.  Neston positioned himself to catch the baby while Amayla continued her duty of wiping Moga’s brow and having her hands crushed.   Amayla had long lost any since of how long they had been in the tent when finally Neston announced that the baby was coming and for Moga to give one more push.  Shortly after, a baby’s wail could be heard throughout the clearing. 

 

“It’s a lad and he looks fine, small but fine,” Neston announced as he handed the infant off to one of the attendance to clean before handing him to his mother.  The babe was obviously not happy to have been prodded, pushed around, and finally thrust out of his nice warm womb and out into the cold, cold world and his cries let everyone know it. 

 

Neston chuckled, “Often times, an infant that is born too early suffers from weak lungs, but I have no worries about this one!  Amayla, why don’t you introduce him to his father while I finish up with his mother.” 

 

“Me? Carry the baby?” Amayla asked incredulously.

 

“You faced down Azog, and yet this tiny little thing scares you?” Neston mocked her.

 

Amayla just nodded as the babe was placed in her arms.  He stopped crying for an instant as he looked up at her, causing Amayla to start to smile, until he let out an ear-piercing scream.  “Did I do something wrong?” Amayla looked around frozen in place.

 

“Nay.  He is just not happy to be out in the world just yet.  Let his father meet him and then bring him back.  A little food from mother will soothe him,” Neston assured her. 

 

Amayla had never been as petrified in her life as she was as she walked out of the tent carrying the wee babe.  Tamblor was pacing in front of the tent and immediately went to her side.  “Congratulations Tamblor, it’s a lad!”  Amayla announced to the stricken father.

 

“A lad! And he’s alright?”

 

“Can’t you hear him?  He’s fine.”

 

“And Moga?”

 

“She is doing fine also.  Neston is finishing up with her now.  He was able to turn the babe and, after that, everything was normal.”

 

“Thank Mahal for that!” 

 

“And thank Neston.”

 

“Aye.  I will thank him too, Amayla.”

 

“Come, lets take this poor thing into his mother and see if a little nourishment might calm him down.”

 

After seeing the baby contentedly nestled at his mother’s breast, the elves and Amayla left the tent to give the family some peace. 

 

Neston took the moment to finally greet Amayla properly.  “It is wonderful to see you again Amayla, although I did not expect the circumstances.”

 

“It is good to see you too Neston,” she said, hand on her heart.  “And neither did I!”

 

“Well you did very well.  I’m glad you were there.”

 

As she walked into the center of the camp that had been hastily arranged, Amayla suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her.  Neston was by her side in a moment.

 

Amayla waved him off.  “I am just very tired and very hungry.  I haven’t eaten anything since dinner last night.  And I’m sure the Moga feels the same way.  She needs food more than I do.”

 

Neston said something to an attendant who immediately took something in to the tent.  Another elf pulled some rations out and presented Amayla with some food. 

 

“When can we leave?” she asked after eating something.

 

“I think it is best if we wait here tonight.  I would rather travel easily tomorrow than try to rush to get back before nightfall.  We can send some guards back to the king and let him know what we’re doing.  I know he is anxious for your return.

 

The thought of Thranduil being concerned over her brought a smile to face and she was grateful that the table she had made for him was safely attached to Mist.  She settled down around the fire that had been made, and ate some of the food the elves offered.  Neston insisted that she lay down after eating.  Usually Amayla would argue with anyone telling her to sleep, but after travelling all night and going through the stress of Moga’s childbirth, she was exhausted and the thought of sleeping sounded wonderful. 

.

.

She slept dreamlessly throughout the night and woke to voices saying “the King approaches.”  At those words, Amayla scrambled up and threw some water on her face.  She then looked up to see King Thranduil ride up on his magnificent stag.  Waiting with a smile on her face as he dismounted, Amayla then approached the king, hand on her heart, “Your majesty, it is good to see you again.”

 

“Amayla, it is good to see you again.  Perhaps some day you will enter my kingdom through the front gates.” 

 

“Now where would the fun be in that?”

 

Thranduil smiled, “I understand there was a child being born, I assume that all went well.”

 

“Thanks to Neston, yes.  Please come and meet him.”

 

Neston joined Amayla and Thranduil as they entered the tent holding Temblor, Moga and the newborn.  Moga was laying in the bed, while Tamblor was holding the finally quiet baby.  Amayla made the introductions as Tamblor presented the baby for viewing.

 

“He is a tiny thing, does he have a name?” Thranduil asked.

 

“We just finished discussing it, and we are proud to say that his name is Nestor,” Tamblor said before looking at the healer for approval, “at least if you do not object.”

 

Neston smiled broadly, “How could I object, you honor me,” the elf said bowing modestly.

 

“Nestor.  It is a fine name.  And perhaps he will grow up to be a healer,” Amayla remarked.

 

“If he so chooses, I would be happy to train my namesake,” Neston offered.

 

“That is very kind of you, sir,” Moga replied. 

 

Neston than shooed everybody out of the tent so that he could examine Moga.  When he came out, he informed Tamblor and the King that he wanted Moga to rest in Thranduil’s halls for a few days before making the final journey to Erebor.  “We can carry her by litter, and then in a few days, she can go by wagon to the mountain.”  Tamblor was very happy with the news, but Thranduil noticed that Amayla said nothing. 

 

It took only a few short hours for the large group to arrive in Thranduil’s halls.  They rode directly to the stables where all dismounted.  Galion, Thranduil’s butler, was there to greet them.  Amayla struggled to unpack her bags along with the table for Thranduil, and when the King noticed her predicament, he questioned what was in the wrapped package. 

 

Amayla looked up at him cryptically saying only, “That is not for you to know, just yet.”

 

Thranduil scowled, “I am not used to such attitude in my kingdom Amayla!”

 

“You’re acting like a dwarfling on Durin’s morn. Patience your majesty!” she chided him.  The elves around all froze, with Galion raising his eyes in shock.  They all expected the king to have her arrested for such disrespect.

 

“For you Amayla, I will wait, but remember, my patience is not limitless.”

 

“Of course, your majesty.  And believe me, it will be worth the wait!” Amayla smiled as she balanced all her possessions in her arms. 

 

Tamblor, Moga, and Nestor went with Neston to the healing wing to settle in, while Gallion took Amayla to her room.  In the past, she had also stayed in the healing halls, so the guest rooms were new to her.  Hers was gorgeous.  Her room in Imladris had been comfortable, but this room was luxurious.  It reminded her of the room she originally had in Erebor, but without the layers of dust or the ghosts of the past.  The furniture was beautifully carved woods, upholstered in whites and gold.  The carvings reassured her that there were craftsmen in Mirkwood who could make legs for her gift to Thranduil.

 

Galion then cleared his throat to draw Amayla’s attention.  “Mistress, I will bring your clothes from your last stay with us and you can leave your dirty clothes for the laundry.  The king will be in meetings most of the day, but would like you to join him for a private dinner.”

 

Amayla smiled at that.  A private dinner was the perfect place to give him the table.  “Galion,” she asked.  “Would you have any furniture cleanser that I could use?”

 

Confused, Galion looked the at furniture in the room, “I can assure you, Mistress Amayla, that this room is in perfect shape and doesn’t need cleansing.”

 

Amayla chuckled, and walked over the packaged table.  “I’m certain it is too Galion.  I need the cleanser for my gift for the king.  Would you like to see it?  I am hopeful that it hasn’t been damaged on the trip.”

 

“Definitely, Mistress!” the elf surged forward to get a good look. 

 

Amayla carefully unwrapped the package and gently laid the tabletop down on her bed. 

 

“It is exquisite Mistress.  His majesty will love it.”

 

“I hope so!”

 

“I will send up a servant to give it a good cleaning before you give it to him.”

 

“Thank you, but all I need is the cleanser, I will polish it myself.”

 

“As you wish,” Galion assured her before bowing and leaving the room. 

 

Amayla unpacked her gear and laid all her dirty clothes in a pile, slipping on a robe that was hanging in the bathroom.  As soon as she was done, two elves brought in her old elven dresses and the cleanser.  When they left, Amayla got to work cleaning and polishing the table to a fine sheen, comfortable that Thranduil would like it.  She then took a very long bath before getting dressed and making her way to the healing halls.  Moga and Tamblor were easy to find as she simply followed the sound of a crying baby.  Clearly little Nestor was mad about something.  She walked in to Tamblor pacing around the room trying to comfort his son, Moga also looked concerned. 

 

“He just ate, his bottom is dry, so I don’t know what the problem is!” Tamblor said obviously frustrated. 

 

Amayla held out her arms, “Maybe he just needs somebody new,” she suggested.  She picked him up and placed him on her shoulder, patting him gently.  Suddenly, a large “brrrrrraaackkkk” came from the babe’s mouth.  He then nuzzled into Amayla’s neck and shut his eyes. 

 

Amayla started to shake with laughter, “I didn’t know such a small think could make such a large burp.  He will be a fine dwarf!” 

 

“Takes after his adad!” Tamlbor said proudly. 

 

Amayla continued to walk the now contented infant while she talked quietly to the two dwarves. 

 

“Everyone here has been more than kind, Captain,” Moga stated. “I am glad to have the rest, but I look forward to finally making it to the mountain.”

 

“Good, good.  I’m glad to hear it, although I did not doubt it in the least.” 

 

When it became clear that Nestor was definitely asleep, Amayla laid him down in a crib and went to find Eliril.  She finally found her old friend in the pharmacy, checking stocks.  Amayla sat down and chatted with Eliril as she continued her work.  Eliril filled Amayla in on her courtship with Gaviolith, which was proceeding well, but she hadn’t quite decided to marry him yet.  The talk of marriage reminded Amayla of what she faced upon her return to Erebor, dampening her spirits.  Finally, Amayla decided that it was time to get ready for dinner so she took her leave. 

 

She changed her dress, grabbed the tabletop, and made her way to Thranduil’s chambers, where she waited and waited.  Eventually, the King came striding in.  Amayla could almost see the steam coming from his ears.  He dismissed his guards and slammed a chair out of his way. 

 

“Good evening your majesty,” Amayla said softly, not certain he still wanted her there. 

 

The great elf turned quickly, “Amayla,” he sighed, “I am glad to see you.”

 

“Long day, your majesty?” 

 

“A most annoying one, but I do not wish to speak of it.”

 

“Well perhaps I can turn your day around. I have brought you a gift.”  She turned and pointed to the rewrapped tabletop that was sitting on top of the side table that the king was currently using for his wine. 

 

Thranduil was intrigued and walked over examining the package.

 

“Well open it!” Amayla squeeled.

 

“And who is the dwarfling now?” Thranduil asked sarcastically. 

 

“Just open it,” she sighed.

 

Thranduil took his time, slowly removing the leather ropes around it, and then carefully lifted the wrapping off of the table. 

 

He stood silently for a moment, not moving or saying anything, making Amayla more and more nervous.

 

“Do you like it?  It’s just a table top as I couldn’t carry a whole table on my horse.  I assume that you have some carpenters who are capable of attaching legs?”  Mahal, I wish he would say something!

 

Thranduil slowly ran his long fingers over the top of the table, tracing the vine down to the grapes.  “You made this for me?”

 

“No, your majesty,” Amayla chuckled.  “I am not that talented.  I helped design it, but it was made by a hobbit of the Shire, a relative of Bilbo actually.”

 

“I had no idea that Hobbits were so talented.  It is quite remarkable and quite beautiful.  I thank you for this, Amayla.”

 

“You are quite welcome, your majesty.  It is the least I could do considering what I did to your previous table.”

 

“You apologized for that years ago, Amayla, this was not necessary.”

 

“I wanted to do it, your majesty.  You were very kind to me, and I thought you would like it.”

 

“Well you were right.  I do like it.  I like it very much.  In fact, I shall call for a carpenter right now.”   Thranduil pulled a cord on a wall and his guards immediately entered.  He gave them some instructions in elvish and then turned back to Amayla.  “The food will be brought shortly, please join me on the balcony.”

 

Spring was now in full bloom and the view from Thranduil’s balcony was breath taking.  “I never knew there were so many shade of green,” Amayla remarked.

 

“Aye, it is always in spring that the forest reminds me of the Greenwood of old, back before the darkness started creeping into our borders.  Was not Gorvuud like this?”

 

“No.  Our forest was more blue, less green.  I guess that’s why they are called the blue mountains.  We did not have as many different types of trees as you do here.  It was beautiful, but in a different way.”

 

“And yet you chose to leave it.”

 

“Aye.  It was time.  Gorvuud was populated with dwarves from Erebor, so when the mountain was reclaimed, many left to go back.  Finally, my defense force was too small to hold off raiding orcs.  We had to abandon the settlement.  It was difficult, but had to be done.  But I am proud to say that we took out many, many orcs when we left.” 

 

“Do tell.”

 

Amayla gave Thranduil the whole story of Ardru’s death and the fall of Gorvuud, which kept his interest until his guard came back with a dark-haired elf. 

 

“Your majesty, I am Hellathinir.  You requested a carpenter?”

 

“I need some legs put on a table,” Thranduil said while pointing at the Frodrik’s work.

 

Hellanthinir looked over the table with a critical eye, turning and lifting it, running his hands over all of it.  “This is quite well done.  My compliments to the master.”  Looking at Amayla, “Is it dwarvish made?”

 

“Nay, it is of Hobbit make,” Amayla answered.

 

“Hobbit?  I had no idea they were such fine carpenters, but I must admit, I have never seen Hobbit craftwork before this.”  Turning to Thranduil, “My king, is there anything in particular you want for the table’s legs?”

 

“No,” Thrandruil said rather dismissively, “Just so that it holds my wine without tipping.”

 

“Aye, your majesty.  I will create something worthy of the master who created this.  With your permission?”  After Thranduil’s wave of his hand, Hillathinir picked up the table and left. 

 

As the carpenter left, several servants came in the room with trays of food and dishes and began to set up the table for the two to eat. 

 

After sitting at the heavily laden table, Thranduil passed Amayla a wine glass and the raised his.  “A toast to Ardru, he served his king and his people most honorably, may he wait in peace.”

 

Tears filled Amayla’s eyes as she clinked her cup with Thranduil’s, “To Ardru.”

 

“I hope you are not upset that Tauriel has not yet returned.  She was very kind to escort my people to Dale for me,” Amayla remarked as they started to eat.

 

“I am not worried about Tauriel.  If Elrond had given her something that needed my immediate attention, she would not have been so kind to you, as she knows her duty.  As it is, she should arrive tomorrow.  Her report can wait until then.”

 

“Speaking of Tauriel and kindness, your agreement on her courtship with Prince Kili was kind of you.”

 

Thranduil shrugged, “Nothing is decided until the ten years is up.”

 

Amayla looked aghast, “Do you think that they will not go through with the courtship?”

 

“I know that is what Princess Dis is counting on.”

 

“And neither you nor Thorin would stand up to her?”

 

Thranduil kept eating and refused to look at her.

 

“So, two great kings, both who have faced dragons and countless armies of orcs, were afraid of one little dwarrowdam?”

 

Thranduil continued chewing before finally looking Amayla in the eye, “The Princess can be quite – fierce – when it comes to her son.”

 

“Like a momma bear protecting her cub.”

 

“Exactly.  I found it prudent to agree to the ten years.” 

 

“Well, its already been three years, and Tauriel is still content to wait.  Knowing Kili, he’s not going to change his mind.  It should be quite the wedding.”  Thranduil nodded in agreement.

 

“Other than the business with Tauriel, I was told that you and the Princess got along quite well,” Amayla remarked.

 

“Yes, surprisingly, she was quite charming and an even better chess player than you.”

 

That made Amayla smile, “I believe I told you that!  She was the one who taught me to play.  Ardru never enjoyed chess.  He said it stressed him.  He had enough to think about keeping Gorvuud safe, that he didn’t want to think that much in his free time.  He was very good at it.  I could never beat him.  But he didn’t play very often.” 

 

“Pity. Well, we will play, of course, as soon as we are done with dinner.”

 

“And you will win as always.”

 

“Of course.”

 

After getting beaten several times, Amayla finally called it quits.  “I am tired, and am very much looking forward to sleeping in a real bed.”

 

“As you wish,” Thranduil nodded while standing.  “This has been a most enjoyable evening Amayla, a very pleasant respite.   I will have a guard escort you to your room. Sleep well.”

 

“Good night.”

Chapter Text

Amayla spent most of the next day visiting Nestor and his parents and at archery practice.  She wanted to spar, but was not confident that she could find any elf willing to spar against her.  Attitudes between dwarves and elves hadn’t changed all that much.  While she was finishing up with archery practice, one of Thranduil’s guards announced that the king had requested her presence and he would would escort her. 

 

He led her to Thranduil’s throne room, bringing back bad memories for Amayla, but she put those aside when she saw Tauriel, standing at attention at the base of the high throne. 

 

“Amayla, is there a reason that you did not inform me of your encounter with orcs on our southern border?”

 

Amayla was struck by Thranduil’s very cold tone.  She froze.  Mahal!  He is pissed. All I can do is throw myself at his mercy.  I hope he has some! “Your majesty, I apologize.  I should have told you.  I simply was distracted by the events of the baby’s birth.”

 

“An attack by orcs is not something that one forgets about easily,” Thranduil spat out.

 

“I am sorry.  It has been many years since I have had to report to anyone.  It was a medium sized scouting party, and I made certain that none got away.”

 

At that statement, Thranduil glanced at Tauriel who said nothing.  “My captain has already filled me in on the details.  I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard them from you first, even if you aren’t under my command.”

 

“Again, your majesty, I am sorry.”

 

“And did you also forget that you were injured in the attack?”

 

Amayla closed her eyes tight and looked at the ground, “It was just a small bite, your majesty.  Nothing serious.”

 

“And did you have Neston look at it?”

 

“Tauriel did an excellent job of cleaning it out.  I barely feel it anymore.”

 

“Barely?” the king raised an eyebrow at Amayla who once again tried to look anywhere but at the king.

 

“When we are finished here, you will go directly to Neston and have him look you over, is that understood, Amayla?”

 

“Yes, your majesty,” Amalya mumbled as if she were a dwarfling again being admonished by Ardru. 

 

“Now, if you would look over these maps with us Amayla, I would appreciate your input,” the king said while directing Amayla and Tauriel to a table covered with a very large map of Mirkwood.

 

“Lord Elrond reports that the elves of Lothlorien have seen orcs have become more active along our southern borders.  He is afraid that they may be attempting to retake Dol Guldur.”

 

Amayla frowned, “We had assumed that the orcs had come from Moria.”

 

Tauriel added, “It is worrisome if the orcs of Moria and the south are combining forces.”

 

“Agreed,” stated the king.

 

“My people,” whispered Amayla.  “They will be traveling that way when they come in the caravan in a few months’ time.” 

 

“Through Rohan?” Tauriel asked.

 

“Aye.  On the north-south road.  It is the only way for larger wagons to travel safely.  Or so we thought.  I have to do something.  They are my people, I have to protect them,” Amayla said, her voice rising with concern.

 

“I will send letters to Lothlorien and Rohan and we will increase our patrols in the south.  Do not worry Amayla, they will be safe.  You are both dismissed.  Tauriel, please accompany Amayla to the healing halls.” Thranduil ordered.

 

 

As they started walking, Tauriel apologized to Amayla for ratting her out to the king, “I’m sorry, but he directly asked me if anyone was injured in the orc raid.  I could not lie to him.”

 

“I supposed not.  But he didn’t have to talk to me like I was an infant.”

 

“When you are as old as he is, we are all infants in his eyes, Amayla.”

 

The dwarf only shook her head at her elvish friend.

 

“So, I take it you got my people to Dale without incident?”

 

“Aye.  We hired a barge in Laketown.  They tried to overcharge us of course, but I didn’t let them.  It was actually a pleasant trip across the lake.”

 

“Much better than the one you and I made?”

 

“Aye.  No dragon to worry about!”

 

“You have my deepest appreciation for helping them Tauriel.  I owe you for that.”

 

“Nonsense.  We are friends.  I was happy to help.  And one day . . . “

 

“And one day, they will be your people too?”

 

“Aye.  One day,” the red-head said whistfully.

 

Hearing a baby cry, Amayla suggested that Tauriel come and meet the newborn.  But it was Amayla who was surprised when they walked into the room, as Nestor’s big brother was holding him. 

 

“Thumblor? How did you get here?” Amayla asked.

 

“Captain Tauriel let me ride in front of her on her horse, the whole way!” the older dwarfling answered proudly.

 

“He was desperate to see his family and willing to ride with me, so I brought him along.” Tauriel added.

 

“Isn’t he cute, Captain Amayla?  I’m a big brother!” Thumblor beamed.

 

“Aye, Thumblor.  He is a fine dwarrow and you must be a fine big brother to him!” Amalya chuckled. 

 

“Oh, I will.  I’m going to teach him how to run, and climb trees, and use an axe, and how to burp!” Thumblor proclaimed. 

 

“Trust me Thumblor, he doesn’t need any lessons in burping.” 

 

Neston came in the room to check on Moga and declared that she would be able to leave for Erebor in two days.  Tauriel couldn’t help but notice that Amayla did not join in the family’s celebration at that news.  She grabbed Amayla as the healer left the room, calling to him to please wait.  “Amayla has a wound that needs to be checked Neston.”

 

The healer frowned at Amayla, “And why am I hearing about this only now?”

 

“What is it, treat Amayla like an infant day?” she muttered sarcastically.

 

“Only if you are acting like one,” was his stern response as he led her into an examination room.

 

Eliril was there and looked very concerned when Neston instructed her to get Amayla set up for an exam, “Did you get hurt? What happened?  You didn’t mention that you had an injury yesterday.”

 

“It is nothing, really!  No need to make a fuss,” Amayla insisted.

 

“I will be the judge of that,” Neston stated firmly. 

 

Eliril helped Amayla get undressed on top so that Neston could look at the wound on her arm.  At Eliril’s sharp intake of breath, Amayla knew she was in trouble. 

 

Neston took one look at the wound and shook his head angrily, muttering things in elvish. 

 

“It doesn’t hurt,” Amayla said in her defense.

 

“Well it’s not infected, so that is good, Amayla.  But it is quite ugly.  I wish you would have showed me this back at the camp and I could have started you on some salve to calm the wound.  I cannot guarantee that it will not scar,” Neston stated, clearly annoyed at the dam.

 

“Scars are a mark of pride to dwarves,” Amayla said softly.

 

“Not ones like this!” he replied.

 

“Well, I can’t really see it on the back of my arm.”

 

“Well, I can and I do not like it.  Scars like this can limit movement if not treated properly. I will give you a salve that you will use at least four times a day.  You will still end up with some scarring but it will be more like the one right above it.  Did an animal do that?” he asked.

 

“Aye.  Beorn, the skin changer, when he was in his form as a bear.  That one I wear with great pride,” she huffed. 

 

“Hmmrph.  Are there any other wounds or problems that you are hiding from me?” Neston asked.

 

“No Neston.  That’s it.”

 

The three elves in the room all eyed her suspiciously. 

 

She threw her hands up in front of her, “I promise!  No other wounds!”

 

“Alright then.  Eliril will give you the salve and you WILL use it and you will return tomorrow to let me look at it.” Neston stated brooking no argument.

 

“Yes sir, Neston.” 

 

After receiving the jar of cream from Eliril, Amayla got redressed and she and Tauriel walked back to the main halls. 

 

“Are you having dinner with the king tonight?” Tauriel asked. 

 

“Not that I am aware of,” Amayla responded. 

 

“Good, then you should come join me in the soldier’s mess hall,” Tauriel insisted.

 

“Really?  Is that a good idea?”

 

“Elves and dwarves have fought side-by-side, I think we can learn to eat side-by-side also.”

 

“I look forward to it.”

 

Dinner with the elvish soldiers was not as ackward as Amayla had worried about.  Certainly, there were some who simply ignored her, but as she was sitting next to their captain, no elf even dared to send her a cross look.  A few of the elves she knew from the trip from Rivendell and others she recognized from the archery range.  There were friendly discussions on her archery skills, with Amayla explaining that in Gorvuud, bows were quite common among dwarves.  There were also friendly arguments on the benefits of the longer elvish bows vs the shorter, stronger Dwarvish bows.  Somehow the topic of Glorfindel was raised and Amayla shared the story of her and Tauriel’s defeat at the golden elf’s hand.  The soldiers were stunned by the fact that the two of them could not win against him.  “But we made him sweat!” Tauriel reminded her.  “Aye, and that was a victory in and of itself!” Amayla agreed.  When dessert was finished, Amayla said her good-nights, feeling more relaxed than before she had left to reclaim Erebor, back when she was a simple soldier defending her home.  Laying down to sleep, it struck her, I am a soldier.  I want to patrol.  That is what Mahal wants of me. 

 

The next morning, Amayla immediately made her way to the sparring rings.  A few of the elves at dinner had agreed to spar with her and she was excited for it.  However, she had only gotten started against her first opponent, when a guard came telling her that Thranduil had summonded her. 

 

When she arrived in the king’s office, he was standing next to the table with the large map on it.  Tauriel was there as was a blond elf wearing grey clothes that she knew were not of the Woodland Realm nor of Rivendell. 

 

“Amayla, please come.  I want you to meet, Haldir, Marchwarden of Lothlorien,” King Thranduil announced.

 

Amayla stepped forward, hand on her heart, bowed, and gave her name, “Amayla, heir to Ardru, Captain of Gorvuud.”

 

Haldir bowed slightly, politely enough, but certainly not overly so. 

 

“I was just telling Haldir about the orcs that you Tauriel met up with on your journey.” 

 

Amayla pointed to where the encounter had taked place, “It was more than a simple patrol, although not large enough for a full attack force.  They had come up from the south.”

 

At that, Haldir interrupted her, “Are you certain they came from the south and not the mountains to the West.”

 

“Completely certain.  My soldiers observed them for several hours and when they a few tried to flee, they headed straight south, not for the mountains.” 

 

“And how do you know it was not just a simple patrol?” 

 

“Unless these orcs operate completely differently than those in the North, it was more than a patrol.  Patrol groups usually number only 6 – 8, and are always completely mounted on wargs.  This was a force of about 22, half mounted, half on foot.  It was a strange group from my experience.”

 

“And do you have much experience with orcs, mistress dwarf?” Haldir asked, somewhat doubtfully.

 

“Yes, I do,” she answered simply.

 

“She has my complete confidence, Haldir,” Thranduil stated clearly. 

 

“As you say, your majesty,” Haldir answered humbly.

 

“Lord Elrond has had word from Rohan that orc attackes have grown.  The numbers are not beyond what they can handle, but it is alarming the numbers are increasing,” Thranduil announced. 

 

 

“Aye, that is what we have seen also.  My lord Celeborn is concerned with Dul Guldor.  He is concerned that there may be a move to retake it.”

 

“Retake it?  Who would retake it?” Amayla asked.

 

“An old enemy,” was all that Thranduil would say. 

 

“Are attacks against caravans coming through Rohan increasing?” Amayla had to ask.

 

Haldir nodded yes, “There has been some loss of life, but Rohan has stepped up patrols, and I have heard that the Dunedain will be sending some patrols there also.” 

 

“I am sure they will be fine Amayla,” Tauriel tried to soothe her friend.

 

“You have people making a journey?” Haldir asked.

 

“Aye.  Most of us were able to travel to Erebor on ponies, but the rest will be traveling by wagon, mainly families with young dwarflings.  They should be on their way.  I would expect them to make the Rohan Gap in a month or so.  Do you think they will be safe?” she asked, looking up at the new elf.

 

“I assume they will have guards with them?” he asked.

 

“Yes, but . . .” Amayla wrung her hands.

 

“But what Amayla?” Thrandruil asked.

 

“But no more than two trained by me.  I had not heard of the attacks in the South or I would have ordered more soldiers to stay and guard the caravan.”  Amayla began to breathe more heavily, and she was unable to stand still. 

 

“Amayla, calm yourself.  You could not have known.  I’m sure they will be fine,” Thranduil tried to assure her.

 

“You can’t know that, your majesty!” Amayla said sharply, before adding softly, “They are my people.  They are my responsibility.” 

 

Thranduil stood behind Amayla and placed his hand on her shoulder.  Seeing that, Haldir struggled to maintain an indifferent façade, but was shocked to his core.  Never had he ever seen the king show any emotion, much less to a dwarf.  Tauriel was more amused by Haldir’s struggles than shocked by her king’s actions, although she too never expected to see such blatant emotion by her king. 

 

“Amayla, I will be sending additional troops to patrol the south.  If you want, you are welcome to join them,” he offered. 

 

“Truly, your majesty?  You would allow that?” she asked.

 

“Of course, Amayla.”

 

“Your majesty!” Haldir burst out, “certainly you’re not allowing a dwarf to join an elven patrol?  It is unheard of.  And we must travel at speed, we cannot wait for a dwarvish pony.”

 

Amayla turned to the dwarf immediately and stared into his face, “Are you daring to question King Thranduil’s order?  Do you think he does not know my capabilities and shortcomings?  I may not know much about how the elves of Lothlorien follow orders, but if a dwarf under my command ever dared to question me like that, or, Mahal forbid, our King, he or she would be mucking out stalls until Durin returned!  And if you don’t want to be slowed by a dwarvish pony, I suggest you not ride one!”

 

“Enough Amayla,” Thranduil said gently.

 

Haldir looked properly chastised, turned to the King, hand on his heart, head bowed, “I apologized your majesty.  I forgot my place.  Please forgive me.  The dwarf is right.  It is not place to question your orders.” 

 

Thranduil stood frozen, looking Haldir over head to toe with his eyes, but not moving a single muscle. 
“You are right.  It is not your place.  Amayla will join the patrols riding out first thing in the morning.” 

 

Turning to everyone else in the room, he gave his final orders, “I have letters to write for Lothlorien, Imladris, and Erebor.  Amayla, I am certain that you have letters to write also.  Tauriel you will stay behind to finalize what troops will go.  The rest of you are dismissed.”

 

Amayla immediately went to Moga and Thamblor and told her that she would not be accompanying them.  They were sad but were much more comfortable around elves, so were not too upset.  They also agreed to carry letters for Amayla.  Letters she had to sit down and write.  The first was to Thorin. 

 

To King Thorin,

 

I had hoped to tell you the story of Gorvuud’s end in person, but circumstances do not allow.  Circumstances that I trust you will understand. 

 

The end Gorvuud was in sight.  Too many dwarves had left for Erebor, but I had hoped we would last another year.  However, we were attacked by a large contigent of orcs.  Unfortunately, the winter was not severe enough to help us, and the orcs got much closer than we could prevent with our dwindling numbers.  Had we had the assistance that we requested from Ered Luin’s forces, we could have made a valiant last stand.  As it was, they did not answer our call, and we were left to burn down the settlement, taking almost all of the attacking orcs with it. 

 

My reason for telling you this is that Kovlar, son of Telmar, has been named General of Ered Luin’s forces.  He is completely unqualified for the position.  It was by his order that the forces in the North were not allowed to answer Gorvuud’s call for aid, without receiving his permission first.  I worry for the dwarves of Ered Luin if he is in charge of the defenses.  I would be shocked if he has ever faced an orc in his life.  I ask you to consider putting Terssu, son of Heislu, in a commanding position in the mountains.  At the very least, commander of the Northern forces.  He was the last captain that Ardru appointed, and served with me and Galen, for the last ten years of Gorvuud.  He is experienced and trustworthy.  If you need more information on Terssu, please ask Galen.

 

I know that King Thranduil is sending you missives on what is happening in the south.  He has shared some of the information from Rohan and Rivendell with me which raised my concerns over the caravan arriving from Ered Luin this spring.  The members of Gorvuud who could not travel by pony are in the caravan and I feel responsible for their safety.  King Thranduil has generously allowed me to ride with the forces he is sending south to join with those of Lothlorien and Rohan.  I will do all in my power to see the dwarven caravan arrive safely. 

 

Please give me best to all the members of the company and your sister, Princess Dis.  I look forward to seeing you in the future.

 

Your most humble soldier,

 

Amayla, daughter of Ardru.

 

To her friends, she wrote:

 

Dear Galen and Sarna,

 

It pains me to be so close to you and the lads and not be able to see you.  But I have just learned of a serious threat to the caravan coming from Ered Luin bearing the families of Gorvuud who could not travel by pony.  I must go see to their safety first and leave tomorrow with elvish forces from the Wooodland Realm and Lothlorien.  We will join forces with men from Rohan.  I will make certain that our kin arrives safely to the mountain. 

 

By now I’m sure you heard about the end of Govuud.  I cannot begin to tell you of my level of anger at pathetic worm of a commander of the Northern patrol, but rest assured that his nose does not lay as straight as it once did.  The worse news is that Kovlar, son of Telmar, was named as the general – GENERAL! – of Ered Luin’s forces.  I fear that we did too good a job in Gorvuud keeping orcs at bay, thereby allowing for a complete fool to rise within the city’s ranks.  I explained the situation to King Thorin in a letter and asked him to consider Terssu for either the head of the North or general.  Terssu found his one in the city when we arrived. I am very happy for him and am glad that Ered Luin will have at least one worthy officer available to watch over the forces there.   I told the King to talk to you for any further information. 

 

I must end this as I need to get ready to leave first thing in the morning.  Give my love to the lads.  I miss you all more than you can imagine. 

 

Love, Amayla

 

It took the group from the Woodland Realm a full day to reach the gates of Erebor.  The watch had been expecting them since the rest of the group from Gorvuud had arrived, so when the group was spotted, word was quickly sent to the King, Dwalin, the company and Galen.  By the time the wagon and six elvish guards reached the front gate, there was a large welcoming party there to greet them 

 

Dwalin was the first to walk out.  The lead elf stopped and formally announced that he was bearing missives from his king to the King under the mountain.  Dwalin barely heard a word he said as he desparately looked for the missing dam. 

 

Frustrated, he finally looked up at the blastedly tall elf and bellowed, “Where’s Amayla?  She was supposed to be accompanying you!  Where is she?”

 

Balin hurried forward to stand next to his brother, followed closely by Galen and then Sarna who immediately went to the wagon to check on their friends from Gorvuud. 

 

The elf in the lead looked down at the irate dwarf and stated calmly, “The dwarf Amayla left with the forces of the Woodland Realm this morning.”

 

“Left?  What are you talking about?  Was she Thranduil’s prisoner?” Dwalin yelled.

 

“Of course not,” the elf sneered, “If I may deliver my king’s missives, they will likely explain everything.”

 

Dawlin looked ready to explode when Galen stopped him, “General Dwalin, Temblor says that Amayla chose to go.  She sent this letter for the King.”

 

Balin took the letter from Galen and put a restraining hand on his brother’s arm.  He turned to the elves, “You are welcome in Erebor.  I apologize for keeping you out here.  Please disembark.  We will have grooms take your horses and will escort you to the king.”   He turned to his brother and ordered him to escort the elves.  He then ordered Galen to escort the family to their quarters.  To all the others gathered, he ordered the back to their own business. 

 

Fili and Kili tromped behind the elves as they followed the Fundin brothers to the throne room.  King Thorin was there waiting, with Gloin sitting next to him.  The king also looked past the elves, expecting to see a familiar dwarrowdam. 

 

“She didn’t come with them, your majesty,” Dwalin said dejectedly before Thorin asked. 

 

Balin stepped up and started explaining, “Here is a letter from the lass, and these elves were good enough to escort the wagon carrying the dwarven couple with the new babe.  They also carry missives from King Thranduil.”

 

At that, the lead elf stepped forward and handed the parchment to the king.  Thorin broke the seal and started reading while everyone in the room stood silently waiting.  When he finished both letters, Thorin looked up at the elves solemly, “You have our thanks for escorting our people safely to Erebor.  I will prepare an answer for your king this evening for you to take back in the morning.”  Turning to his nephews, he continued, “Fili, Kili, make certain these elves are taken to their quarters and show where the dining halls are.  They are our guests.”

 

As soon as they left, Dwalin turned to Thorin, “What did the elf king say about Amayla?  Where is she?”

 

“She has gone with an elvish patrol south, to Rohan, to meet the caravan from Ered Luin.”

 

“Rohan?  With your permission, if I leave now, I can catch up to her in a few days and bring her back!”

 

“No, Dwalin.”

 

“Thorin, I'M GOING AFTER HER!”

 

“No, you’re not, Dwalin.  Your duty is here just as Amayla’s duty is to see to the caravan’s safe journey.  First of all, you don’t know which way they went.  Secondly, they are mounted on horses.  You’ll never catch them.  But most importantly, Thranduil has asked us to take over some of the patrols on their northern borders.  With the increased threat to the south, Thranduil’s forces are stretched too thin in the north.  It is part of our treaty with him.  I cannot turn him down and I need you to start arranging the new patrols right away.  I must write my response to the tree-hugger tonight.  I am sorry my friend.”

 

Dwalin didn’t move from his spot.  His hand clenched and unclenched.  He ground his teeth together, letting out a low growl.  “Fine, your highness,” he finally mumbled out, voice dripping with barely contained sarcasm, “I’ll just go find Galen and come back here to arrange the patrols, with your permission of course!”

 

Thorin just bowed his head, knowing full well that even he didn’t want to push the seasoned warrior when he was as angry and disappointed as Dwalin currently was. 

 

Dwalin caught up with Galen in the hall near Galen’s quarters and told him that he was needed in the king’s chambers.  Sarna had tears in her eyes as her husband said his good-byes and gave her one last big hug before walking off with Dwalin.

 

“She’s upset that Amayla isn’t coming anytime soon.  She wrote us a letter explaining why, but Sarna had really gotten her hopes up that she would be here,” Galen explained.

 

“She’s not the only one,” Dwalin responded.

 

“Yeah, I guess the whole company was disappointed,” Galen noted.

 

“I don’t understand why she had to ride off with a bunch of elves!  Damn tree huggers!”

 

“Once she heard of the threat against our people, there was no way she wasn’t going to try and protect them.  Amayla never does anything part way,” Galen shrugged.

 

“Aye, that sounds like her.”

 

“I imagine it will only be a few months more and she’ll finally make it here.”

 

“Mahal willing.”

Chapter Text

The ride with the elves was unremarkable.  Amayla had just made the same trip with her dwarves and the small elven patrol, being with the larger elven patrol was not much different.  Some of the elves accepted her and others barely contained their distain.  She, frankly, could not have cared less. 

 

They met their first orc group in essentially the same place as the group they had taken care of on the way to Erebor.  The size of the group was similar to that first attack and the results were the same.  Amayla said her good-byes to Tauriel as her orders were to stay and patrol the south, while Amayla rode on with the second group from the Woodland Realm and the group of elves from Lothlorien.  More elves joined them and they continued their journey south to Rohan, meeting and joining a group of the Rohirrim.  They encountered only one more small group of orcs, destroying them all, before reaching Edoras, the capitol city of Rohan. 

 

Amayla was excited to finally reach Edoras.  After joining up with the men of Rohan, she learned that the crown princess was none other than Sigrid, Bard’s daughter and Amayla was anxious to talk to an old friend.  Some of the elves tolerated her while the men of Rohan were beyond appalled to have not only a dwarf in their midst, but a female one at that.  So, for Amayla, a chance to speak to a female friend held great appeal. 

 

After stabling Mist, Amayla made her way to the court, where she requested a meeting with Sigrid.  The guards did not want to let pass, yet Amayla persisted, insisting that Sigrid would not be pleased if they kept her out.  Finally, they let the dam approach the royals sitting on their throne in the court.  When her name was announced, Sigrid stood, not believing her ears nor her eyes when they fell upon Amayla.  Before she could say a word, Sigrid crumpled to the ground. 

 

There were screams all around as the royals rushed to Sigrid’s body.  Amayla too tried to run forward, but was grabbed from behind, her arms held tight.  Somebody yelled “Witch” and pointed at Amayla.   King Fengel ordered her to be taken to the dungeons as his son, Thengel, carried his wife to their chambers.  Amayla struggled against her restrainers, managing to lossen the grip of one of them as her boot connected with his shin.  But as she turned to strike, a fist slammed into her face.  It was the last thing she saw before waking in a cell. 

 

The cell was not quite as bad as the ones in Thranduil’s halls as this one at least had a window where some light could shine in.  However, when she was a prisoner of Thranduil she had the rest of the company with her, here she had no one.  She wasn’t even certain if the elves she traveled with would stand up for her. She only hoped that Sigrid was alright and would have her released. 

 

She waited several hours with no word from a soul.  No guards came by to check on her, no offer of food or water.  She simply had to sit on the floor and wait.  The cut on her cheek had stopped bleeding but Amayla was afraid to fall asleep as she was afraid that her blood would attract rats.  The thought of rats crawling on her, nibbling on her face, was enough to prevent even a short nap.  So, the sound of feet coming down the hall and stopping outside her cell, filled her with hope.  When the door opened, she was shocked at who was standing there.

 

“Amayla?  Is is you!  I am pleased to find you alive!” came a familiar voice.

 

“Strider?  Is that you?” she asked, scrambling to her feet. 

 

“Aye, but here I am known as Thorongil.”

 

“Alright Thorongil,” she said testing the name out on her tongue, “I don’t care what your name is, as long as you’re getting me out of here.”

 

“Well, unfortunately, I don’t have that power yet.  I had to work hard just to get a visit.  What are you doing here?”

 

“I am with the forces of Thranduil, helping patrol for orcs, at the request of Rohan,” she spat out angrily.  “We arrived early this morning, and I came to visit Princess Sigrid since we are old acquaintences.  I assume that she hadn’t gotten word that I was alive, which is why she fainted upon seeing me.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Can you help me out please?  At least get me some water to wash away the blood on my face.”

 

“Are you injured?”

 

“Just a small cut from what ever guard was brave enough to punch me while my arms were held behind my back.  I would prefer it not getting infected it though.” 

 

“Of course.  I’ll see what I can do.” 

 

“And please let Sigrid know I’m here and that I apologize for startling her.  That was not my intention.” 

 

“From what I have seen of the Princess, she is very kind.  Don’t worry, Amayla, I’ll get you out of here and then we can talk.  I’m anxious to hear how you are alive as I was shocked to see you too.” 

 

“And I’ll tell you everything as soon as I get out!”

 

After Thorongil left, Amayla slowly slid down the cell wall and wrapped her arms around her knees.  Unfortunately, the window that provided the light was also letting in the cool, evening air and Amayla was starting to get cold.  She also really needed to relieve herself, but since there wasn’t even a bucket in the cell, she was trying to hold out as long as possible. 

 

Finally, Amayla heard the sounds of multiple feet heading her way.  This time when the cell door opened, it was another familiar face, a familiar female face. 

 

“Amayla!” Sigrid yelled as she rushed to help Amayla stand up.

 

The two hugged and Sigrid immediately began rambling her apologies, until she got a good look at Amayla’s face. 

 

“You’re hurt, and bleeding!” Turning to the guards, “Why wasn’t her wound treated and how did she even get this!  I will have answers!” Turning back to Amayla, she wrapped an arm around the dam and began marching out of the cell, “Come with me.  We’re going straight to the healers.”

 

“Are you alright Sigrid?” Amayla managed to ask between all of the Princess’ apologies and threats to the guards. 

 

“I’m fine.  I was just startled.  Its not every day that you see a ghost.  Nobody told me you were alive Amayla!  Where were you? I want to hear everything!” 

 

“And I will happily tell you Sigrid, but first, can you get me to someplace to relieve myself.  I really need to go!” 

 

Sigrid looked down at the dam and laughed and then frowned, “Oh, of course Amayla, and again, I’m so sorry.  You should never have been treated like that.  The healing rooms are just down here, and you can go in there.” 

 

Sigrid took care of Amayla’s wound herself, cleaning it out, wiping away the blood and covering it with a healing salve.  “There, and I don’t think you’ll even get a scar,” the princess said when finished.  “Now come with me to my quarters, where you can get a bath and we can talk.” 

 

“Thank you, your highness,” Amayla said, winking at her old friend. 

 

Sigrid led Amayla to her quarters and ordered a bath to be drawn for Amayla while her clothes were sent to the laundry.  Amayla would have like to have soaked for hours, but knew that Sigrid was waiting for her so that they could chat, so she cleaned herself quickly, toweled off, and put on a robe that had been left for her. 

 

There was an array of food laid out on a table and Sigrid signaled for her to sit and help herself. 

 

“This is delicious!  I am so tired of lembas bread.  Aren’t you eating?” Amayla asked as she stuffed some food into her mouth. 

 

“I’m not really that hungry.  I’m sticking mostly to bread right now.  Nothing else tastes good.”

 

Amayla eyed Sigrid suspiciously and then smiled.  Sigrid had been holding back a smile but then let it burst, lighting up her face. 

 

“You’re pregnant?” Amayla nearly shouted.

 

Sigrid nodded as Amayla rushed over and gave her another hug. 

 

“No wonder everyone was so worried when you fainted!”

 

“Aye.  Everyone has been a little overprotective of me since we made the announcement.  That’s why we’re here in Edoras.  We had been in Gondor for the past year.  Thengel’s mother’s family lives there and is so nice.  But Fengel, the king, wanted the baby, his heir, to be born in Rohan.  So we had to come back.” 

 

“Does your father know?  I imagine he is thrilled.” 

 

“Aye, Da is.  He and Tilde are planning on coming to be here when the baby is born.  I can’t wait to see them!”

 

“So tell me, how did you and Thengel come to be married?”

 

Sigrid smiled and explained, “Da had ordered some horses from Rohan.  He wanted some for an army and others for farming and helping in rebuilding.  And of course, there was a treaty to be negotiated with Rohan.  Thengel came with the delegation, and he claims that it was love at first sight.”

 

“Was it? For you too?”

 

“Well for me, it was more like love at third sight.  I was too worried about hosting the delegation and making certain that everything was in order, to concern myself over the handsome young prince who showed up.  It wasn’t until I could relax after the treaty ceremony was over that I actually let myself really look at Thengel.  There was dancing after the dinner and he swept me off my feet,” she giggled. 

 

“Awe, so sweet,” Amayla smirked at Sigrid. 

 

Sigrid stuck her tongue out at Amayla. 

 

“Well that’s not very princess-like of you!” she laughed.  “But seriously, Sigrid, I’m very happy for you.”

 

“Now that you know my story, I want to hear yours.  We were told that you had fallen during the battle.  What happened to you?”

 

Amayla told her story as the princess soaked up every word. 

 

“Wow.  Hard to believe that King Thrandruil could be that nice.  He always kind of frightened me.  He seems so cold.” 

 

“Aye, I think he prefers for everyone to think that way.  But there is kindness in him.” 

 

“So now you ride with the elven patrols.  How long will you be here?”

 

“There is a caravan coming from my home in Ered Luin.  I will stay with the patrols until it arrives and then accompany it back to Erebor.”

 

“Can I send you back with letters for my family?”

 

“It will be my pleasure, Sigrid.”

 

Sigrid insisted that Amayla spend the night in her guest quarters as the laundry was not yet done with the dam’s clothes.  “You can meet Thengel and the King in the morning before going back with your patrol.  I’ll have a messenger let them know.”

 

 

In the morning, Amayla’s clothes were waiting for her and she joined the royal family for breakfast.  Thengel was pleased to meet a friend of his wife’s and Amayla found him charming.  King Fengel, on the other hand, seemed more interested in how much gold Thorin had in Erebor.  When Amayla could shed little light on the subject, he seemed to ready to dismiss her.  Thengel, however, insisted on hearing more about her experiences with orcs. 

 

After breakfast, Amayla rejoined the elven patrols.  She was pleasantly surprised to see Thonogil sitting in with Lindir and Telhurmion, the leader of her patrol from the Woodland Realm. Thorongil rose as she approached, and gave her a hug.  “It is good to see you released, Amayla,” he said. 

 

“Aye, it was good to be released.  Princess Sigrid came and got me and I spent the evening with her.  I had breakfast with the royal family before coming back.”

 

“You are acquainted with the royal family of Rohan, Mirkwood, and Erebor, Amayla?” Lindir questioned. 

 

“Aye,” Amayla answered simply. 

 

“And do not forget Lord Elrond, Lord Glorfindel and Lady Galadriel,” Thorongil added to make a point. 

 

Amayla smiled, “That reminds me, don’t let me forget to tell you the story of Captain Tauriel and me sparring against Glorfindel, Thonogil.  But for now, I want to see to my horse.  When do we ride out, Telhurmion?”

 

“Sometime this afternoon, when the Rohan patrol returns.”

 

“Very good.  I’ll be ready.”

 

Thorongil added in quickly, “I won’t how let you forget, and you have to tell me about the battle for Erebor too!”

.

.

 

 

Amayla patrolled around Rohan with the elves over the next several weeks.  When they had breaks at the same time, she often trained with Thorongil, finally getting used to calling him by that name.  She told him all the stories of the battle for Erebor and her injuries as well as everything she had done over the past five years.  He caught her up on stories of Elrohir and Elladan and of Legoas joining their patrols in the north.  She occasionally ate with Sigrid but only in private as Amayla’s dislike of Fengel was not well hidden.  Amayla would have felt more guilty about it if Sigrid hadn’t confided that she very much enjoyed eating with Amayla in private for the very same reason. 

 

Finally, as summer began to blaze hot on the plains, a scout reported spotting the dwarven caravan.  Thrilled that she was out on patrol and not back in Rohan, Amayla urged Mist forward with the rest of the Elven warriors right with her. 

 

They came upon the caravan stopped with three elves at the front.  Amayla immediately spotted Bladurg talking to one of the elves.  Two dwarven guards, neither of them from Gorvuud, stood next to his wagon.  As she got closer, she could tell that the conversation between the dwarves and elves was not pleasant, and she spurred Mist into a full run until she was close enough to cry out, “Hail Bladurg!  Hail dwarves of Gorvuud!”

 

Her shout caught the attention of all in the front of the caravan and they all turned to watch the dwarf approach at speed, followed by more than a dozen elves.  She quickly dismounted, brushed aside the dwarven guards whom she did not know, and climbed the wagon to greet Bladurg. 

 

“Amayla!  Lass!  How is it possible that you are here?” the old dwarf exclaimed as she smiled and pulled him into a head bump.

 

“Did you really think that I would let my people enter hostile territory without proper escort?” she answered. 

 

“But we are in Rohan.  It is not hostile.  Why did these elves stop us?” Bladurg asked in Khuzdul while glaring at the elves. 

 

“These elves are your escort,” Amayla responded in the common tongue for all to hear.  “They are my companions.  We have been on the look-out for you for several weeks.”

 

“Captain Amayla!” Two dwarven guards rode up to join the conversation. 

 

“Gorum! Horum!  Good to see you two!” Amayla returned their greeting.

 

“Enough of this!” one of the two guards yelled to be noticed.  “I am in charge here.  I will know what is going on!  Just who are you?” he asked of Amayla. 

 

Before she could answer, Bladurg spoke up on her behalf, “This is Amayla, daughter of Ardru, Captain and Commander of Gorvuud.  And you will watch your tone around her laddie.”

 

Amayla bowed her head slightly to the dwarf, never lowering her eyes. 

 

The second dwarf had the good graces to look uncomfortable in the situation, completely understanding who she was.  The first dwarf, however, raised his face and sneered at Amayla.  “I am Captain Margad, leader of the caravan, designated by General Kovlar himself, and I do not believe that we need any elvish assistance in reaching Erebor.  If I remember correctly, you were stripped of your rank and banished from Ered Luin, am I not correct?”

 

Bladurg growled, while Gorum and Horum moved their hands to their weapons.  Amayla merely chuckled, “Kovlar holds no rank over me.  His words hold as much import to me as a snowflake falling on a bonfire.  Now tell me, how many guards have you?”

 

Margad looked at Amayla with distain, “I do not answer to you!”

 

Amayla calmly turned to the two Gorvuud soldiers, “How many guards have you?”

 

Gorum answered without pausing, “We two, Margad and Vint there.”

 

Amayla was shocked, turning back to Margad, her voice cold, “Kovlar sent my people - dams, dwarflings and infants - across Middle Earth with only four guards?!?!”

 

“We have not had any trouble,” Margad snapped back.

 

“Well then you were lucky, Mahal be thanked for that. But your luck is over.”  She turned to talk to Bladurg, Gorum, and Horum.  “Rohan and southern Mirkwood has been seeing greatly increased orc activity.  You are about to travel through the worst of it.  We will go to Rohan where the caravan can rest and restock and I’ll arrange for an escort for us the rest of the way.”  

 

“We will do no such thing!  I am in charge of this caravan and I say that we will continue on directly to Erebor,” Margad insisted. 

 

“I do not have the patience to deal with this!” Amayla said through clenched teeth.  “But to make this fair and so that you will understand, why don’t we ask the heads of all the families on the caravan and let them choose who will lead them from here?”

 

Amayla was conversent enough in elvish to let her companions know that they would be back in a few minutes.  One of the elves tied Mist to Bladurg’s wagon and she rode with him to the heart of the caravan.  There were cheers and waves as Amayla approached. 

 

Margad then spoke up explaining that it was his intention to continue directly to Erebor without any assistance from elves.  When he finished, Amayla stood up to talk, “Dwarves of Gorvuud and friends from Ered Luin, I take it as my solemn duty to make certain that this caravan reaches Erebor safetly.  I am happy to report that the earlier group is already under the mountain without the loss of a single dwarf, in fact, with the addition of one dwarf.  Moga had a small accident and went into labor, but with the assistance of a healer from Mirkwood, was safely delivered of a small, but healthy lad.  The family is now in Erebor.  It is my intention to lead you there also.  I am pleased that you met no difficulties so far, but must inform you that there is an increased orc threat in front of you.  That is why I came to meet you.  King Thranduil was kind enough to let me patrol with his elves and I will make certain that we have enough soldiers to safely journey on.  Believe me, five dwarves are not enough.  I know it is hard on many of you to trust an elf; but if you can’t trust an elf, just trust me.  They will protect us.  I believe the best course of action is to make for the capitol city of Edoras, rest and restock, and then proceed to Mirkwood.  We should be safe once there and then it is just a short trip to Erebor.  But the decision is yours.  Your can either continue on your way with Margad as your leader.  And I will join you.  Or follow my plan, with elvish and human assistance.” 

 

It took the dwarves in the caravan mere seconds to start yelling “Captain Amayla, Captain Amayla!” 

 

Amayla turned to Margad, saying simply, “I believe they have made their decision.  I hope you have no hard feelings and will continue with us to Erebor.  We will need every warrior.” 

 

Margad bowed his head to Amayla and she headed to untie Mist and mounted up.  Her patrol of elves took up positions around the caravan and escorted them to Edoras. 

 

They reached the city in the fading light of a summer evening and were allowed inside the gates and directed to an area at the base of the hill leading to the Golden Hall of Meduseld.  As soon as her people were settled, Amayla asked Margad to go with her to meet with King Fengel. 

 

“You want me to go with you?” Margad asked incredulously. 

 

“Of course.  You led the people this far.  You should talk to the King with me.  We merely ask for escort to Mirkwood.  I do not think it should be an issue.” 

 

But Amayla could not have been more wrong.  King Fengel and Prince Thengel were both sitting with their court when the dwarves approached, with Thorongil and Lindir following behind.  Princess Sigrid was not present, but Thengel smiled brightly to see his wife’s friend.  Amayla approached the king, bowed respectfully, and made what she thought would be a simple request. 

 

“Your Majesty, I am pleased to inform you that the Dwarvan caravan with my people from Gorvuud has arrived.  They are currently in Edoras resting and restocking.  We would like to leave in two days and request an escort until we reach Mirkwood.” 

 

King Fengel left his throne and walked down to stand in front of Amayla, towering over her, “And why should Rohan escort a caravan of dwarves.  What has Gorvuud done for us?”

 

Amayla’s eyes widened and she froze.  Mahal!  What is going on?  “Um, I assume that you have a treaty with Erebor?”

 

“With Erebor yes.  But as you say, these dwarves are not from Erebor, they are from Gorvuud, and I have no treaty with them.”

 

“Your majesty, I am certain that King Thorin would grant the same rights and priviledges to the dwarves of Gorvuud as to the ones who abide in Erebor.” 

 

“You speak for King Thorin?” he questioned, voice dripping with sarcasm, “I did not know you had such authority.  Usually, I am presented with papers to prove such things.”

 

“I – um, I have no such papers, your majesty,” Amayla mumbled, words completely escaping her. 

 

Margad stepped up to help, “Your majesty, I am Margad, son of Uldrad, I led the caravan until we were met by Captain Amayla.  If I may speak?”

 

Fengel nodded slightly.

 

“As the name of King Fengel is renown throughout Middle Earth as a wise and strong leader, among the dwarves of Ered Luin and Erebor, Captain Amayla’s accomplishments and reputation are beyond reproach.  As the daughter of King Thror’s general, the leader of her settlement, and member of King Thorin’s company, she holds a status of highest respect, despite her lack of title.  Being that we were without a king for so long, formal titles are only now being reintroduced into Dwarven culture.  But rest assured that whatever promise Captain Amayla gives is as if it is from the mouth of the King Thorin himself.”

 

Fengel seemed affected by Margad’s honey laden words.  He sat down in quiet contemplation for a few moments, his eyes scanning Amayla until they rested on her sword. 

 

Finally Thengel broke the silence.  “Father, Captain Amayla saved Sigrid’s life when the dragon attacked.  Without Amayla, your grandson, your HEIR, would not be arriving soon.” 

 

Fengel responded without looking at his son, “That is true, but it was the fault of the dwarves that the dragon was awakened in the first place.  And you would have married and provided me an heir as was your duty whether with Sigrid or another. Hardly a point in the dwarf’s favor.” 

 

Thengel glared daggers at his father. 

 

“As I am feeling generous, I will provide the requested escort for the Dwarven caravan, but since I have no treaty to require it, the escort must be paid for.  We in Rohan cannot just be lending out our soldiers without proper compensation,” he stated coldly. 

 

Relieved, Amalya sighed audibly as Margad bowed to Fengel, “Thank you, your majesty.  I assure you that King Thorin will provide whatever price you deem fair.” 

 

“Oh, but I will not wait until you arrive to Erebor for my payment.  That would not be very prudent of me.  What assurance would I have that payment would actually be made after-the-fact,” Fengel stated lazily.

 

“You have my word – and dwarves do not go back on their words!” Amayla answered harshly. 

 

“Is that so?” Fengel smirked, “My understanding of the battle for Erebor seemed to have included a Dwarven king who went back on his word.  I will have my payment up front!”

 

Amayla’s hand went to her sword as she took a step forward.  Margad immediately placed his hand on her arm, halting her.  “Your majesty, we will pay what you think is fair,” the dwarrow acquiesced.

 

“Well I think it only fair that you pay for the wages of the soldiers escorting you, as well as the soldiers that will have to fulfill their duties, and something for the bother.  I think that 300 gold would be acceptable.”

 

“300?!?!” Amayla gasped. 

 

Margad again stepped in front of Amayla and began talking, “King Fengel, we are but a poor caravan.  Gorvuud was an outpost with a limited iron ore deposits that grew food and raised livestock to subsist on, but little more.  Three hundred gold is far beyond our capacity to pay.”

 

Fengel raised his chin in haughty derision, “Then perhaps I would be willing to take something else of value.”

 

Amayla finally felt cool enough to speak, “Your majesty, if we sold everything of value that the caravan owns, it would not come close to 300 gold.”

 

“Oh really.  I believe that you have something in your possession that holds much value.”  His eyes once again rested on Amayla’s sword. 

 

Confused, Amayla spoke up, “I do not understand your majesty.  Do you wish me to pledge my sword in your service?  If that is what it takes to earn my people safe passage, I would be willing.”  That wouldn’t really be that bad.  I can’t imagine that he would demand more than a year’s service.  Some of the people here are nice.  Sigrid is here.  I would be able to see her new baby.  And then I wouldn’t have to live in Erebor. 

 

“You misunderstand me dwarf.  I do not want your sword in my service, I simply want your sword,” the king stated coldly.

Chapter Text

There was an audible gasp from many in the room.  Thengel jumped to his feet, “Father, you cannot!”

 

Fengel brushed off his son with a slight wave of his hand, “I can indeed.”  Turning back to Amayla, “I am told that it is made of mithril.  I would accept it in exchange for an escort for your people.”

 

Amayla felt as if she had taken a direct hit to her chest by a mace.  She couldn’t speak and was having difficulty simply breathing.  Finally, she whispered, “This was my father’s sword.  It’s all I have left of him.” 

 

“So, what means more to you, the safety of your people or a hand-me-down of your father?” Fengel mocked.

 

With tears streaming down her face, Amayla’s hand reached down to her sword.  But before she could unsheath it, Thorongil put one hand on her shoulder and the other on her hand on the sword.  He whispered into her ear, “Wait, Amayla, we will find another way.” 

 

Margad then stepped forward asking for some time for Amayla to think about it.  Fengel agreed, but warned that he would have her decision by noon the next day or the dwarves would be thrown out of Edoras. 

 

 

Thorongil, Lindir, and Margad escorted Amayla out of the Golden Hall and back to where the caravan had set up camp for the night.  The three males tried to talk to Amayla but she would have none of it.  “Do any of you have a way of coming up with 300 gold?” she yelled.  When they could only look between each other, she spat out.  “I know what I must do, I would just like some time alone to come to terms with it!”  She marched off into the night before finding a secluded spot, hugged her knees, and cried her eyes out. 

 

Bladurg found her a few hours later.  “Can I join you, lassie?” the old dwarf asked softly.    

 

Amayla nodded.

 

“You don’t have to do it, lassie.”

 

“Yes I do.  Its only a thing.”

 

“A ‘thing’ that means the world to you.”

 

“More than anything, but it’s still just a ‘thing’.  Not worth somebody’s life.”

 

“Come back to camp, lassie.  There are people there that want to talk to you.”

 

Amayla sighed but got up.  “There is nothing to talk about.  The lives of our people are worth more than my father’s memory.  Fengel is an Orc’s ass, not worthy of touching Ardru’s sword, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” 

 

“Just come back to camp, lassie.”

 

“Bladurg!  There is nothing to talk about.  We cannot risk crossing the Mark with just five guards.  I have to give Fengel the sword.”

 

“I’m not arguing with your lassie, just asking you to come back to camp.  Now listen to your elders and lend a hand to an old dwarrow.” 

 

Amayla reluctantly hooked her arm under Bladurg and walked back with the elderly dwarrow.  When they reached the camp, Bladurg led her to a gathering of dwarves, elves, and men.  Sitting around a fire were the four Dwarves guards, several couples from Gorvuud, Thorongil, Lindir, Telhurmion, and most surprisingly, Prince Thengel. 

 

Before she could say anythig, Thengel stood up, “Amayla, I must apologize for you being in such a position.  My father is an ass.  Sigrid wanted to pass on her agreement with me also.”

 

Thengel’s straightforward statement brought a smile to Amayla’s lips.  “Thank you Thengel, and thank Sigrid too.” 

 

Thorongil then took Amayla by the hand, “You do not have to give him your sword Amayla.”

 

Amayla ripped back her hand, “But I do.  I will not risk the lives of my people over a simple object.” 

 

“Your father’s sword is no simple object, lassie,” Bladurg stated softly.

 

“We will get your people to Erebor safely Amayla, you do not have to give up your sword,” Thorongil repeated. 

 

“We?” asked Amayla confused.

 

“Yes, we!” added Lindir.  “I will give you four of my soldiers to accompany you.”

 

“And I will go with you also,” Thonogil added.

 

“Ten soldiers,” Amalya mused, “thank you, but that may not be enough.”

 

“It will be enough if you are accompanied by a troup of Rohan’s finest riders,” stated Thengel.

 

“Riders of Rohan? But your father will not allow it!” Amayla retorted.

 

“My father does not need to know of it.  There is a patrol that is to go out tomorrow morn.  I will replace the leader myself and just so happen to ride in the same direction as your caravan.  A happy coincidence.”

 

“Really?! And you are all in agreement?  But how did this come about?”  she asked.

 

“It was simply the right thing to do Amayla.  We could do no other,” Thengel replied.

 

“I thank you, your highness.  Rohan will be blessed when the time comes for a new king.”  Amayla then looked at the dwarves who were gathered, “And you are all in agreement.  Willing to go tomorrow?”

 

“Of course lassie,” Bladurg answered as the rest all nodded in agreement.  “We will all be ready before the first light!”

 

Tears starting falling down her face again as Amayla hugged everyone, except Lindir and Telhurmion who both got elvish arm salutes, thanking and rethanking everyone over and over again until they all made her stop to get ready to leave. 

 

.

 

As the first light broke over the horizon, the dwarves all proceeded to the front gates of Edoras.  They were accompanied by Thonogil, Telhurmion, three other elves, and Amayla.  The caravan left as soon as the city gates opened, startling the guards, but not allowing any time for the king to be alerted.  By mid-afternoon, the Rohan riders caught up to the dwarves, bringing Amayla some peace of mind.  Thengel was to stay with them until they crossed over the Anduin river near the field of Celebrandt.  At that point, they were to meet up with forces from Lothlorien or perhaps Mirkwood. 

 

The trip was arduous as all wanted to cover as much ground as possible.  There was some fear that Fengel would send out troops to bring back Thengel, but none reached them.  The men of Rohan were impressed that although the caravan was full of dwarvlings and infants, there was no complaining about the speed of travel.  They were a hardy group and each knew his or her role in the caravan.  No one wanted to be the cause of slowing down. 

 

During the trip, Amayla and Margad had become friends of sorts.  Margad lost the chip on his shoulder over Amayla replacing him as the leader of the caravan.  It was blantantly obvious that she not only knew every adult in the caravan, while Margad knew only the dwarrows, but she knew and cared for every dwarfling in the caravan.  And the feeling was mutual.  Early after leaving Edoras, Amayla took some time to compliment and thank Margad for his actions when they spoke to King Fengel.

 

“You have quite the talent for diplomacy,” she remarked, “it’s a talent I do not possess.”

 

“Its from spending time around Kovlar.  I had to learn how to please him to get ahead,” he replied.

 

“Hmph, Kovlar,” Amayla nearly spat as she said his name.  “I would not tie yourself too closely to him.  You have a brain.  Dwarves like Kovlar do not like others around them who are smarter than them.  And most dwarves are smarter than Kovlar.  I remember when he tried to join the Gorvuud garrison.  Not only were his fighting skills sub-par, but he was too stupid to realize it.  Once Kovlar is tested in a real fighting situation, I have no doubt that he will reveal his true limitations.  I just hope that he does not cause the deaths of others by doing so.  I do not believe that the King will leave him at his post for long.”

 

“Really?  You think King Thorin will have him removed?”

 

“I know Kovlar and I know Thorin, excuse me - King Thorin; so aye, I think the king will have him removed.  My advice to you is to not try and jump ahead to a position you have not rightfully earned.  Do a good job in the position you have, no matter how insignificant you think it is.  Remember, somebody is always relying on you.  Earn the respect of those around you and you will succeed and advance.” 

 

The trip had gone well as they approached the Anduin river.  A contingent of elves from Lothlorien arrived shortly after they made camp before crossing the river.  When Amayla asked Telhumion how the elves had possibly known that the caravan had arrived, the elf simply shrugged and stated “the Lady Galadriel.” The Lothlorian elves would escort the caravan to the borders of Mirkwood where Thranduil’s elves would take over.  A scouting patrol crossed the river to make certain that there were no dangers about as the river crossing would leave the caravan completely vulnerable.  Thengel and his men planned on leaving the next morning, but all the plans changed when the scouts returned. 

 

The scouts reported seeing a large force of orcs east of the Anduin heading north.  The orcs were led by a squadron of wargs bearing riders as well as a large contingent of regular soldiers.  Amayla, Thonogil, Thengel, Telhumion, and the leaders of elves of Lothlorian all agreed that they could not let the orc force pass.  They decided that the safest place for the caravan was on the west side of the river, while the soldiers would cross and lay in wait for the orcs.  Although the orcs outnumbered the men, elves, and dwarves, the numbers were not too drastic to overcome.  And the element of surprise was on their side. 

 

Before the soldiers departed, Amayla spoke to her Dwarvish soldiers.  “Gorum and Horum will cross the river with me.  Margad, you and Vint stay behind to protect the caravan.  Margad, if I do not return, you will resume command of the caravan and lead it to Erebor.  If you are in trouble, take the Forest Road through Mirkwood.  King Thranduil’s forces will find you and I promise you that they will help you.  Trust them, please!” 

 

Margad objected, “Captain Amayla, I would rather fight with you.  Do not leave me behind like some dwarfling!”

 

“Margad, I would not leave my people in your hands if I didn’t trust you.  Do not take this as an insult for it is not intented as such.  I believe that you will get them to Erebor if I am not able to.  Mahal watch over you.”

 

Margad bowed to Amayla, “And over you too.” 

 

The soldiers all crossed the river and took up their positions, keeping out of sight of the approaching enemy.  When the orcs came into range, Amayla, Thonogil, and all the elves let loose their arrows, cutting down the number of the enemy nearly in half.  The orcs were caught completely off-guard and made for easy pickings in the follow-on fighting. In very little time, only a few orcs were left putting up a fight.  Amayla and Thonogil fought near each other and both stopped at the same time when they ran out of enemies to face. 

 

Amayla turned and smiled at the tall man when she noticed an orc drawing back an arrow that was pointed at Thorongil.  Instinctively, she shoved him out of the way only to cry out as the arrow pierced her left shoulder.  She stumbled forward, but managed to stay on her feet and turned to see her assailant who unfortunately had let loose another arrow that struck her in the side.  Amayla could feel the arrow penetrate her outer layers, but she didn’t think it had gone in far enough to do serious damage.  At least she hoped so.  She saw the orc who shot her fall to an arrow and glanced over to see Thonogil notching another while shouting to their companions about the new threat.  Although the pain was excruciating, Amayla went full-on warrior, furious at the creatures who dared to strike her down.  She charged the orcs as they poured out of the forest to the north.  The rest of the soldiers joined her quickly. 

 

This time, surprise was on the orc’s side as was the serious depletion of elvish arrows, leaving the fighting to hand-to-hand combat.  The number of orcs this time was significantly greater than before and the battle was intense.  Amayla kept fighting even though she was weakening quickly.  As she faltered, orcs got more and more strikes on her, finally forcing her to her knees.  She could barely raise her sword up for protection.  Her vulnerability became obvious and orc after orc surrounded her.  Amayla managed to block one more strike but felt her sword fall from her grasp as she collapsed on the ground.  A shadow passed over her and she looked up to see an ugly creature raise his weapon to strike her down.  There was nothing she could do to stop it.

 

Amayla looked to the ground and said a quick prayer to Mahal before facing her fate.  But before the monster could give the final blow, an arrow came through the middle of his neck.  The orc’s eyes widened right before he fell over dead, right next to her.  Behind him, Amayla saw a flash of red hair as more orcs fell to elvish arrows.  The forces of Mirkwood, led by Tauriel, joined the battle just in time.  A smile crossed Amayla’s lips as she lost consciousness. 

 

.

.

 

 

Amayla found herself standing in a meadow, the sun was shining, insects flew from flower to flower,  trees behind her and to her sides, and in front of her stood a great mountain, with enormous doors carved with Dwarven ruins.  She looked around, but saw no dwarves or any activity at all. 

 

This must be the Hall of Waiting.  I guess I’m dead.

 

“No, you’re not dead Amayla.  If you were dead, the doors would be open to you.”

 

Amayla turned to see a blinding light approaching.  She squinted until the form of Lady Galadriel came into focus. 

 

“Lady Galadriel?  I don’t understand.”

 

“You are not dead Amayla,” she repeated, “but you are close.  You are walking the thin veil between life and death.  You alone can choose to give up on life and the doors before you will open, or you can choose to fight and remain among the living.”

 

“I feel a pull from beyond the gates.  But it does not scare me.  It feels like love.” 

 

“Those are the loved ones that entered before you.”

 

“Ardru? And my parents? They are there too?”

 

Galadriel nodded.

 

“My parents and Ardru,” she whispered.

 

“Aye, two of your fathers wait behind those doors, while your third awaits you in Middle Earth.”

 

“My third father?”

 

“If you go back, you will learn.  It is your choice to make.  Forward through the gates to your loved ones who left before you or back to your life and the ones who love you still.”

 

“My family is in there,” Amayla murmured, looking at the gate. 

 

“Not all of all your family,” Galadriel smile cryptically. 

 

In her mind, Amayla saw an image of a dwarven family inside a mountain.  The husband stood with his arms around his wife laughing as a young dwarfling lass toddled toward her older brother who had his arms out to her, yelling “Come on La La, come get me!” As the little lass fell into her brother’s arms, he shouted, “Did you see her Amad?  Did you? She walked to me!”  “Of course she did, she loves her big brother!” the dam answered.   

 

“It is your choice who you will meet, Amayla.  Your parents today, or . . . “

 

“My brother.  I have a brother.  And he is alive.  I know it.  I can feel that my parents are there, behind the doors, waiting, but not my brother.  I will go back.  I must!”

 

“I must warn you Amayla.  You have been gravely injured, if you go back, there will be pain,” Galadrial cautioned. 

 

“I don’t care.  I lived through pain in the past.  I can do it again.”

 

The light around Galadriel grew brighter until it was blinding, causing Amayla to squeeze her eyes tight. When she opened them again, the sky was much darker and there were faces hovering over her. She had overwhelming pain throughout her body.  She could hear voices but had trouble understanding exacty what was being said.  Instead, she focused on red hair whirling around.  “Tauriel?”  Her lips moved but no sound came out.

 

The red-head’s face appeared before hers.  “I’m here Amayla.  Hang on.”

 

“My people,” Amayla managed to whisper.  “Keep them safe. . .”  With that amount of effort, Amayla passed out again.

 

Amayla woke up occasionally over the next several days, but could never fully comprehend what was going on.  She was still in a great deal of pain, but all she could tell was that she was strapped down and the trees and clouds were passing by rapidly.  At times, the pain became nearly unbearable and she she would cry out.  Whenever that happened, she stopped moving and was given something terrible to drink, resulting in sleep taking her over once again. 

 

Finally, Amayla found the desire to open up her eyes once again.  The pain was not nearly as bad and she could tell that she had stopped moving. She started to hear voices again that were familiar, but weren’t clear.  She had no idea of where she was or how long it had been since the battle with the orcs, and she wanted to know about the caravan and the safety of her people. 

 

Open your eyes Amayla.  You can do it.  It’s not hard.  Just OPEN THEM! 

 

It was as if her eyes were stuck closed.  She thought she was doing what it took to open them, but nothing happened.   The voices, though, became clearer.

 

“She’s stirring.”

 

“Call Neston.”

 

“Amayla!”

 

She began to distinguish the voices.  One was female, and other was male.  She tossed her head side to side, but still her eyes stayed shut. 

 

“AMAYLA, OPEN YOUR EYES!”

 

King Thrandruil?  Is that really you?  Am I dreaming again?” Amayla murmured. 

 

Thranduil grabbed her flailing had as he sat down by her side, placing it between his two.  “It is I, you are not dreaming Amayla,” he assured her.

 

“But how?”

 

“Estel and others brought you here yesterday.  You are in your old room in the healing halls.  Neston has been taking care of you.”

 

“My people – are they safe?”

 

“Tauriel and her soldiers are escorting them along with a group from Rohan.  They are going the longer, eastern route, but it is safer these days.  Your people will be fine.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty.”

 

A voice came from the doorway, causing Amayla to attempt to sit up.  “Good morning Amayla!  I see you are finally awake,” Neston spoke softly.  “You know that you are my favorite dwarvish patient, but you don’t always need an injury to come visit!”

 

“I believe I told her that the last time she was here, Neston.  It must be that hard dwarvish head of hers,” Thranduil added, although there was only laughter in his voice. 

 

“Tell that to the orcs that seem to be everywhere these days,” Amayla muttered. 

 

Thranduil’s face turned dark for a moment before he stood, “I will let Neston and Eliril tend to you now, Amayla.  Rest well.  When you are strong enough, I will have a chess board brought here so that I may beat you.”

 

“Grrrrrrrreat,” Amayla said sarcastically, before continuing, “but truly, your majesty, thank you for everything.”

 

Thranduil smiled at her and patted her hand once more before departing.

 

Amayla was pleased to see Eliril come in after Thranduil left bearing a tray of medicial what-not.  After Neston thoroughly examined her and instructed Eliril on replacing bandages he stood up to leave.  “The good news is Amayla, none of your wounds were from a morgul weapon and Estel did an excellent job of cleaning them and binding them during your little jaunt here.  It is quite amazing that you have no infections and that none of the deeper cuts hit anything major.  You are weak from bleeding but that we can take care of.  You should stay quiet to let all your wounds heal and not tear open any stiches, so limited movements until we take out them all out.  Walking is alright once you feel up to it, but that is all!  I mean it!”

 

“Thank you Neston.  I promise,” Amayla swore, crossing her heart. 

 

Eliril continued her ministrations after Neston left, filling Amayla in her continuing courtship Gaviolith.  Amayla finally got a word in edgewise asking Eliril who the elf was who had treated her.

 

“Estel is not an elf.  He’s Lord Elrond’s human foster son.  I was under the impression that you knew him,” she responded.

 

“Oh yeah.  Estel is one of his names.  I remember Elrohir calling him that.  He was Strider when I first met him, then Thonogil in Rohan, so now I guess I’ll have to get used to calling him Estel,” Amayla sighed. 

 

“Well, whatever his name, I’m sure he’ll be by shortly to see you when he wakes.  The king ordered him to sleep when he came to sit with you.  Estel had stayed by your side since you arrived.  Now, I’ll go get you some soup – and don’t even bother to ask for something else – Neston has ordered soup for you today and I won’t disobey his orders.”

 
Amayla slumped down in her bed.  “Fine.  As long as it’s not fish soup!”

]

 

Estel stopped by several hours later to check in on Amayla. 

 

 

“I hear I have you to thank for my injuries not being severe, so thank you very much Thonogil, or Estel or whatever your name is!  Neston said you did an excellent job.” Amayla teased him.

 

“It was the least I could do for someone who saved my life.  I am happy that you are doing well, Amayla.  And that was very kind of Neston, he is a well-regarded healer.  My father said that he was one of his best pupils.  And yes, here in Mirkwood, I am Estel, but I am going back to being Strider shortly.  I will be leaving with letters to Elrond and return to patrolling with the Rangers.  I have had my fill of King Fengel.  Perhaps when Thengel is on the throne, I will return to Rohan.”

 

“I don’t blame you for feeling that way Estel.  I would rather not see that man ever again in my life!  When do you leave?”

 

“The day after tomorrow, at first light.  King Thranduil wants to discuss the battle we had with the orcs before writing to my father.  He’ll probably want to talk to you too.”

 

“I take it the battle was a success?  Other than me, were there any serious injuries?  Did we lose anyone?”

 

“Thankfully, there was no loss of life.  You were, by far, the worst injured.”

 

“Lucky me.”

 

“Well that was because we were caught by surprise.  It could have easily enough been me who took the first arrow.  There was some intense fighting, but when the elves from Mirkwood arrived, the battle ended quickly.”

 

“Thank Mahal for that.”

.

 

Later in the evening Thranduil came for another visit.  “You are sitting up Amayla?  Has Neston allowed it?”

 

“He told me to take it easy.  Its hard to be more ‘easy’ than barely sitting up.  Besides, we dwarves are much heartier than you elves give us credit for.”  At Thranduil’s smirk, Amayla frowned at him, “I’m not just talking about our thick skulls!”

 

“I said nothing!” Thranduil defended himself while chuckling.

 

“You were thinking it, your majesty!  And I’ll have you know that I rode on a pony to Mirkwood two days after getting swiped by a giant bear.  I think I can ‘sit up’ after a few orc arrows.” 

 

“Well if you are well enough to sit up, you are well enough to play chess.  I’ll have the set brought up,” Thranduil said while signaling to an ever present guard.

 

“Wait, wait!  I think I’m having a relapse!” Amayla cried out, clutching at her chest. 

 

Thranduil raised an eye brow at her and ordered his guard to bring the chess set, and some wine. 

 

.

.

 

The next day, Amayla woke feeling much better.  Eliril applied salve to her wounds and bruises and Neston agreed that she could eat some “real food.”  Amayla insisted on walking around more, always escorted by Eliril.  By the afternoon, Amayla felt strong enough to walk the distance to the King’s council chambers to discuss the battle with the King and Estel.  Thranduil was very pointed in wanting to know directions, locations, and even details of the enemy’s weapons.  Although unclear exactly what her answers meant to the King, Amayla supplied the answers to the best of her memory until he was satisfied.  Before she left, Thranduil had one final question for her.

 

“I have not yet informed Erebor that you are here.  I wanted your permission to do so, Amayla.  So, do you want me to inform Oakenshield?”

 

Amayla paused and took a few deep breathes before answering, “No, not yet.  They are expecting me with the caravan so there is no hurry to let them know.”

 

“As you wish.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty.” 

 

“Oh, and if you would join me for dinner?”

 

“It would be my pleasure, your majesty.”

 

.

 

Dinner with the King was most pleasant.  Estel, as he was known in Mirkwood, was there also and regaled them with stories of being a Ranger.  Thranduil seemed pleased to learn that Legolas was riding with Elrohir and Elledan, although he was not pleased when he heard that Glorfindel often joined them.  At that, Amayla rolled her eyes and shook her head at the King.  The conversation turned to the happenings in Rohan and King Thranduil was furious to hear that Amayla had been imprisoned.  Amayla tried to calm him by letting him know that Mirkwood’s cell were far more luxurious than Rohan’s, but Thranduil was less than amused. 

 

“You were with my patrol and I know that Rohan has a treaty with Erebor, you should not have been treated thusly,” he stated angrily.

 

“Princess Sigrid more than made up for the harsh treatment and Crown Prince Thengel defied his father to protect my people, so I have no quarrel with them.  King Fengel however . . . well, I would call him something in Khudzul, but it is not polite and you would not understand.”

 

“Whatever you call him cannot be worse than he deserves,” Estel spat out. 

 

“Let us talk about something more pleasant.  If you feel up to it Amayla, I can take you down to the stable and introduce you to my newest elk.  He is quite gentle, except of course, in battle.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty!  I would very much enjoy that!  I haven’t seen Mist since I arrived and I would love to see her too.”

 

Estel left the two of them to visit the stables on their own as he prepared to leave early the next morning.  Amayla greatly enjoyed meeting the king’s mount.  He was surprisingly gentle and let her stroke his velvety nose.  Mist was also thrilled to see her rider and the carrot she brought with her.  Amayla promised to visit Mist the next day for a thorough grooming. 

 

Amayla spend the next few days growing stronger, eventually moving out of the healing halls and back into the room she had stayed in previously.  After Neston gave her permission, she began riding Mist again, often accompanying  by the king as he showed her around Mirkwood while checking on his people.  The elves in the palace became used to seeing the dwarrowdam strolling and dining with their King.  Although still shocked by it, most close to Thranduil were pleased to see him more relaxed than he had been in years, especially since his son had left the forest.

 

For her part, Amayla just enjoyed her time in Mirkwood.  She gave as little thought to her future as possible as whenever the idea of returning to Erebor crept into her head, she pushed it away, deciding to simply ignore the issue for as long as possible.  Eventually, she could ignore it no longer.  Tauriel returned, announcing that the caravan had successfully reached Dale.  With their arrival, Amayla knew that someone from Erebor was bound to come for her.  It was at dinner that night that Thranduil forced her hand. 

 

“So the time has come, Amayla.  Don’t think that I don’t know that you have been ignoring the issue.  But with the arrival of your people Amayla, even Oakenshield will figure out where you are.  You are, of course, welcome to stay here or I will send an escort with you to the mountain.  What would you like?” he asked.

 

“I still don’t know, your majesty.  There are some in the mountain that I am desperate to see.  But there are also those whom I can’t imagine facing again.”

 

“If it is Oakenshield, I can’t blame you for that.  But I thought you said that your banishment was rescinded.” 

 

“It has been, so I’ve been told.  And its not KING THORIN that I am afraid to face.”

 

“You are afraid of someone? Did they hurt you?”

 

“No,” she barely whispered, “not physically”.

 

Thranduil stood quietly and looked down at her, “Anyone who would harm you is a fool, and will answer to me.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty.  But believe me, there is nothing you can do to help me.  It is Mahal’s will.”  She turned away and started pacing.  “And what would I do when I got there?”

 

“Would you not take up a position of command in Oakenshield’s army? I would assume that General Dwalin would want you.”

 

Amayla huffed softly, “Oh I’m sure he doesn’t.”  Seeing the look of puzzlement in the king’s eye, she continued quickly, “Besides, I don’t want to be a regular army commander.  Simply drilling all the time?  That would drive me crazy.  And I don’t know if I could live in a mountain.  I’ve only ever lived in a forest.  I guess that’s why I like it here so much.  If only you had some bears, it would be perfect.”

 

“I’m afraid that that is beyond my capability Amayla.”  He put an arm around Amayla’s shoulders and she rested her head against his chest. “Why don’t you think about it tonight.  But by tomorrow, you must make a decision, or one will be made for you as I would expect a delegation from Erebor very soon.”

 

Amayla didn’t sleep much that night.  She spent most of the time staring out of her window and praying to Mahal.  The next morning, she met with King Thranduil as he was eating his breakfast.  They were interrupted by missives just arriving from Imladris.  Thranduil insisted on Amayla eating while he read through them. 

 

“Are you familiar with Fornost, Amayla?” the King asked.

 

“The old ruins?  Aye.  I’ve ridden past it.  Wouldn’t dare camp at it.  It is said to be haunted, and just being near it, I can understand why that is said.  Why do you ask?”

 

“Elrond reports that the Rangers have seen increased orc activity around it.  He thinks that they may be basing out of there.  He is concerned, as always.”

 

 

Amayla’s eyes grew wide, “Orcs basing in Fornost?  The only reason to do that is to raid Breeland and the Shire!”

 

“Elrond is not certain of that, just stating his concerns.  He tends to be a bit dramatic.”

 

“He also has the gift of fore-sight, which makes his concerns all the more real!”

 

Thranduil bowed his head to Amayla but remained quiet.

 

Amayla began pacing, thinking about Lord Elrond’s words to her, “. .  a new task will present itself.  You will deal with it and you will succeed.”

 

Amayla stopped and turned to Thranduil, “I want to join the Rangers.”

 

Thranduil waved his hand at her indicating that she should continue.

 

“I am a warrior.  I have loved ones there.  I can protect them.  It is my calling.”

 

Thranduil said nothing, just looking at her, studying her.

 

“And If I join the Rangers and meet up with Legolas, perhaps I could encourage him to return to Mirkwood.  I would be very happy to do that for you.”

 

The normally stoic king squeezed his eyes shut for a moment before turning to Amayla.  “If that is your decision, I will respect it.  I will write the necessary letters.  You should go to Imladris and speak to Elrond.  I’m sure he can assist you in reaching the Rangers.  I well send an escort with you.  When will you leave?”

 

“Tomorrow morning, your majesty.”

 

Amayla spend the rest of the day getting ready.  Tauriel stayed with her and helped arrange supplies from the fletcher and the cook.  Eliril took care of preparing a bag of necessary medical supplies.  While they were all packing, Galion found the three females.  “King Thranduil asks all of you to join him for dinner in the state dining room, in your finest attire.  Amayla, I will escort you. Please be ready in two hours.  I will send some maids to assist you.”  He then bowed and left. 

 

Tauriel sighed heavily, “You owe me for this Amayla.  I have one dress and I hate wearing it!”

 

“Sorry!” Amayla laughed.  “Its not my idea.  I’m lucky that I have a dress to wear at all.  The good thing for me is that I wasn’t going to pack it anyway.”

 

Unlike the other two, Eliril was thrilled, “I’ve never dined with the king before.  This is exciting!  Do you need anything else from me Amayla?  If not, I’d like to go get ready for dinner!  I can’t wait to tell Gaviolith about this!”

 

“Go!” both Amayla and Tauriel shouted together. 

 

After the blond elf left, Tauriel turned to Amayla, “I better be going too.  Wouldn’t want his majesty to get mad at me for not being dressed properly.  See you there.”

 

 

After being primped within an inch of her life by two extremely determined elves, Amayla was dressed and coiffed and ready to be presented to Thranduil.  The two had done their very best to make Amayla look as elvish as possible.  Given her height, or lack thereof, her build, and her coarse hair, their accomplishment was quite remarkable.  Amayla smiled and thanked them, keeping her laughter to herself. 

 

Galion came and escorted her to the King’s private chambers.  Amayla was surprised when Galion left her completely along with him. 

 

“You look lovely Amayla,” the king began. 

 

“Thank you, your majesty.  But I feel a little ridiculous, the two did their very best to turn me into an elvish lady.”

 

“And is there anything wrong with that?”

 

“Of course not, except that I am no elf nor am I a lady.  I am just a simple dwarvish warrior.” 

 

“You sell yourself short Amayla, you are far more than that.  You are a leader of your people, you are a protector of the innocent.”

 

Amayla blushed and bowed her head. 

 

“But I worry about you, which is why I had Galion bring you here so that we could speak privately.”

 

“Your majesty?  Is this about me joining the Rangers?” she questioned.

 

“Yes and no.  You have made it clear that you wish to join the Rangers and I will not stand in your way.  I am certain that you will be an asset to them.  What I worry about is that you have no one to stand for you and no one to return to.”

 

Amayla shrugged, finding no words to dispute him.

 

“And that is why I would like to offer you a home, Amayla.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“I would be honored if you would allow me the priviledge of standing as your father.”

 

“My father?”

 

“It is a not uncommon practice for the Eldar to foster young elves or the children of men.  I admit I do not know of a case of a dwarf being fostered, but I do not see why it would not work.”

 

“You wish to be my father?” Amayla barely whispered. 

 

“If you would have me, yes Amayla.   I do not expect you to see me as you did Ardru.  You are fully grown, but even adults sometimes need families to support them and homes to return to.”

 

Amayla stood silently, looking at the ground.  It would be nice to have a place to call home.  But Thranduil, as my father?  I have grown to trust him, and he certainly treats me well.  What was it that the Lady Galadriel said in my dream – if it was a dream?  That my third father awaits me in Middle Earth?  This must be what she meant. 

 

She slowly lifted her eyes to meet his.  All she saw in his clear blue eyes was love. 

 

“Yes!” she stated with a smile on her face and tears flowing freely.  She rushed toward him and wrapped her arms around his waist, her head resting on his chest. 

 

Startled, Thranduil stook awkwardly with his hands by his side.

 

Amayla leaned back to look at her new father figure, “You’re getting a dwarf as a daughter, you’re going to have to learn how to hug!”

 

“I know how to hug, it has just been awhile.”

 

“Well, get used to it!” she said while both crying and laughing. 

 

After finishing their embrace, Amayla asked, “So how do we do this? What happens next?  Does somebody have to approve it?”

 

“Amayla, I am the King.  I ask no one for approval,” he stated frowning at her. 

 

“Oh yeah.  Excuse me for that.”

 

“But to answer your question, I will announce it at dinner, where we should be headed now.” 

 

Thranduil took Amayla by the arm and led her into the dining room where all turned to bow at the king as he escorted his new daughter to sit next to him.  Thankfully, her chair was raised to that she was about the same height as everyone at the table.  Amayla was very pleased to have her friend Tauriel sit next to her while Lord Arodir sat on the other side of the king. 

 

When the meal was finished, Thranduil signaled to Galion who came forward with a small box.  Everyone sat quietly when the king stood to speak.  He held out Amayla’s chair and helped her to stand, only to frown heavily at seeing just how short she was as compared to the table.  One look to Galion sent the butler scurrying.  The king stood silently until Galion returned with an empty wine crate for Amayla to stand on.  Everyone in the room was looking to each other trying to figure out what was happening, yet no one dared speak, not even in whispers. 

 

After assisting the dwarf up on the box, Thranduil made his pronouncement.  “The dwarf Amayla has spent a good deal of time in the Woodland Realm over the last five years, much of it as a patient, some of it as an unwelcome guest, but most recently as a much-honored guest.  She has ridden with our patrols and has proved her bravery and skills time and time again.  Recently she has lost her home to orcs and her father, a dwarf I greatly respected, to the Halls of Waiting.  Because of that, I have decided to step in for her father and offer my halls as a home to her.  To my great joy, she has accepted.  Therefore, it is my pleasure to announce that Amayla will henceforth be known as honored daughter of Thranduil and the Woodland Realm.” 

 

There were gasps from all in attendance. 

 

Thranduil then opened the box and held up a necklace for all to see, “So that all may know that Amayla is a member of my family and due all the respect that one would show me, I have had this crafted for her.” 

 

The pendant was not large, made up of thin branches of antlers in silver with a small green enameled leaf at the bottom with a clear, brilliant diamond set in the middle. 

 

As he fastened it around her neck, Amayla had a good look at the stone, “This is one of the gems of Lasgalen, your majesty, I cannot!”

 

“You can and you will.  This will make it clear to all that you are my daughter.”

 

Once again, Amayla had to wipe tears from her eyes. 

 

Neston stood and made the first toast, raising his glass and saying “To Amayla, honored daughter of Thranduil, welcome to the Woodland Realm!”

 

Amayla smiled as all, though to varying degrees of enthusiasm, joined in on the toast.  Afterwards, too many elves for Amayla to remember came to her to offer their congratulations.  Tauriel, Neston, and Eliril were, of course, the most heartfelt.  The rest of the evening went by in a haze until Thranduil himself forced Amayla to go to bed before her early rise in the morning. 

 

The events of the night before made departing in the morning all the more difficult.  Thranduil, Tauriel, Neston, and Eliril were all present to wish her a farewell.  Finally, after many tears and hugs and promises to come back, Thranduil ordered Amayla to leave.  She mounted Mist, waved good-bye one last time, and rode off to start the next chapter of her life. 

Chapter Text

 

She had never planned on stepping foot in Erebor, but here she was and it was all because of Gandalf.  The wizard had run into her, Strider, Legolas, Glorfindel, Elledan, and Elrohir at the Prancing Pony.  They had just finished dispatching a small group of orcs north of the Weather Hills and had headed to Bree to rest and restock.  All were surprised when the gray wizard was sitting there, almost as if he was waiting for them.  Gandalf began to speak but Amayla interrupted him as soon as he mentioned that he had recently been in Erebor.  She grilled him on the members of the company and life under the mountain, asking about almost everyone.  When she got to Balin, she specifically asked if he had had any shocks or surprises and was relieved when Gandalf said no. 

 

“I believe you left out one dwarf Amayla,” Gandalf remarked. 

 

“Did I?” Amayla replied innocently. 

 

“Yes, General Dwalin is also well.”  

 

“Dwalin, yes, guess I forgot about him.  Good to hear that he is fine,” she said, voice straining oddly.  “And Thranduil?  All is well in the Woodland Realm?  I haven’t been there since this past winter.  And I’m certain that Legolas is eager to hear news.”

 

Legolas gave Amayla a look before politely listening to the wizard. 

 

“The treaties between Elves, Men, and Dwarves are holding nicely.  In fact, there is a meeting in Erebor in a month to discuss a topic that concerns me greatly.  It is good that you are here Amayla, as you have information that needs to be shared with the three kings.  I think it would be most useful for you to be there.  Strider and Legolas, you should accompany her.”

 

“Wait – what are you talking about?” Amayla burst out. 

 

“Nothing that I can discuss in detail here, Amayla,” Gandalf replied softly.  “You will just have to trust me.”  Turning to the other three elves, he continued, “Glorfindel, Elrohir and Elledan, I have a task for you also, which we can discuss after the others leave.”

 

“We’re leaving – now?  We just arrived and our mounts need rest,” stated Strider. 

 

“Well, in the morning then, first thing!” insisted Gandalf. 

 

Before anyone could object, Glorfindel spoke up, “As you wish Mithrandir.  If it is as important as you imply, then I’m certain the three of them will not object.” 

 

The three all frowned at the golden elf, who only beamed back at them with his most radiant smile. 

.

.

Weeks later, she found herself riding up to the mountain that she had helped reclaim. 

.

Strider took the lead in talking with the guards, explaining that they were expected at the meeting.  Several dwarves came forward to take their horses to the stables. Amayla was astounded by the splender that was now Erebor.  In ten short years, the change was remarkable.  Gone was the rubble, the ripped tapestries, and the skeletons.  Most importantly the stench was gone, the stench of dragon breath, dragon scat, and death.  Back then, the air hardly moved.  There were no sounds, only the clang of coins being sorted and thrown while the company was looking for the dammed arkenstone.  Now Erebor was alive – there was movement everyone.  Dwarves coming and going, talking, laughing shouting.  The air moved freely and smelled of food and life. 

 

The difference made it easier on Amayla to push away her memories of when she was last there, standing on the rampart, desperately trying to keep Thorin from killing Bilbo, and getting banished for her efforts.  That was the last time she saw the company, her friends.  Well that wasn’t exactly true she thought, she had seen the company fight during the battle – when they finally emerged from Erebor.  She was so proud when she saw them all running out, weapons held high.  That feeling was fleeting as she returned to the battle.  She had joined the fighting once the Orc army had appeared.  Orcs were everywhere but so too were dwarves, elves, and men.  She fought side by side with members of all the races, saving their lives and being saved by them in return.  But she also saw many – too many - fall.

 

The memories came back fiercely and clearly.  She had to stamp down the bad ones.  She had to focus on the good memories – but what good memories did she have of Erebor?  Of the mountain itself, she had no good memories.  Of the quest, well, it was successful.  The line of Durin continued.  Thorin was King and Fili and Kili were princes.  Smaug, Azog, and Bolg were all dead.  There were elves and dwarves aplenty mingling with men in the city of Dale so some sort of alliance must be holding.  Those were all good things, but they weren’t really memories.  She certainly had some good memories of the quest:  the beauty of Rivendell, learning to ride a horse, flying on the back of an eagle, and dear sweet Bilbo. How about falling out of a tree and having Dwalin catch her?  NO! Those memories she would not bring up.  Those were only allowed late at night when she couldn’t stop them.  The rest of the company raised good memories – didn’t they?  Part of Amayla loved them all deeply, but another part could only remember the abandonment.   Thrandruil was a good memory.  He had helped her and stood by her.  He reminded her so much of Ardru.  Mahal!  Why am I here?  Damn meddling wizard!!

.

 

Food first. “I’m hungry and before I have to sit in some stupid meeting for the rest of the day, I’m getting something to eat,” stated Amayla brooking no chance of dissent from her companions.  “Which way to the dining hall?” she asked the guard. 

 

Amayla was unusually quiet as the three ate their food underneath an obviously new tapestry depicting the coronation of Thorin II.  “Has Erebor changed so much since you were last here?” asked Strider.

 

“I was never in THIS Erebor,” Amayla answered softly. “The Erebor I knew was full of sickness and death.  This one is full of life.  Thorin has done well.” 

 

“KING Thorin now,” Legolas reminded Amayla as they looked at the coronation tapestry.  Amayla took notice of the scene, picking out all the members of the company – all expect her.   

.

.

 

As they finished their food, a group of dwarves arrived at the opposite side of the dining hall carrying a large tapestry. “Looks like the companion piece is going up,” observed Legolas.  The three moved closer to watch as the new piece was rolled out.  Legolas and Strider noticed Amayla stiffen as the image appeared.  She put her hand on her sword hilt and walked over to a strawberry blond dwarrowdam who seemed to be directing the unveiling.  The man and elf exchanged worried glances as they recognized Amayla’s attack posture. 

 

“Amayla?” started Strider. 

 

“Stay” Amayla responded as if talking to a dog. 

 

Amayla turned to the dam, ‘Is this your work? It is quite beautiful.” 

 

“Yes, thank you” responded the blond, “It is my masterpiece.” 

 

“Amayla, daughter of Erebor” Amayla bowed her head slightly. 

 

“Caileen, daughter of Ula.” 

 

“Well Caileen daughter of Ula, you may want to turn your head so you don’t see what is about to happen.” 

 

With that warning, Amayla drew her sword and slashed at the tapestry.  Before anyone could move, Amayla had created a cut to the middle of the tapestry.  Caileen screamed and moved towards Amayla, only to be stopped by a dagger in Amayla’s other hand pointed her way.  Strider grabbed the nearly hysterical dam and pulled her back out of the way.  Legolas tried to stop Amayla but she pointed her dagger at him also, “STAY BACK!” Seeing the near madness in Amayla’s eyes, Legolas stayed back as did all the other dwarves in the room. 

 

Hearing the commotion, two guards came running into the dining hall, swords drawn.  By the time they arrived, Amayla had been successful in hacking large chunks out of the middle of Caileen’s masterpiece.  Strider led the weeping dwarf to a seat.  One of the guards approached Amayla but halted abruptly. “Captain Amayla? Is that you?”

 

Amayla did not stop swinging her sword as she looked at the guard.  “Farrak!  Good to see you!  Are you well?” 

 

“I am fine, my Captain, thank you…….. Ahhh, Can I ask what you’re doing?” 

 

“Just taking care of this tapestry.  I’ll be done in a minute.  Have you worked on your blocking to the left?”

 

“Yes Captain, I believe I have overcome that deficiency.”

 

All the while, Amayla kept swinging.  “Good, good.  Perhaps we can spar tomorrow and I can check that out.” 

 

“It would be my privilege, my Captain.”

 

 Amayla kept hacking, “Farrak, any chance you know where I can find Galen?”

 

“Sorry Captain, but Captain Galen left on a patrol to the outer borders.  I believe he is due back in a few days.”

 

“That’s a shame.  I’m not sure I’ll still be here.” And Amayla kept hacking.

 

The other guard looked at Farrak, “Shouldn’t we stop her?” 

 

Farrak just shook his head.  “The two of us are not capable of stopping her.”

 

After a few more swings, the tapestry lay in tatters on the floor.  Amayla took a few deep breaths and sheathed her sword.  The hall was silent.  Amayla approached Caileen and sat beside her. 

 

“Why?” Caileen sobbed.

 

“It had to be done.  I’m sorry.  It was truly a masterpiece,” was Amayla’s reply as she pulled out a handkerchief for the dam. 

 

Caileen just looked at Amayla, tears rolling down her eyes, nose running.

 

“Take it. You need it.”  Amaya paused, “What you also need is retribution.  Do you want to claim it?” 

 

Caileen blew her nose, “retribution? …… yes, retribution! I claim RETRIBUTION!” 

 

She stood as she said it.  Amayla put her hands on her thighs as she stook up beside the stricken dam.  “Farrak, you heard her.  She makes a claim of retribution.  Take us to the King.” 

 

Strider and Legolas sprung to Amayla’s side.  “What is going on?!  Have you lost your mind?” they both demanded. 

 

“Relax you two.  You are both going to get to witness a Dwarven Trial of Retribution.  You should consider yourselves privileged,” Amayla calmly smiled at them both.  Farrak and his fellow guard approached Amayla and Caileen and motioned them towards the King’s council chambers.  Strider and Legolas followed.

.

.

 

When they reached the door, Farrak explained the situation to the royal guards standing there.  One guard went inside and quickly returned followed by a young red headed dwarf with a beard bedecked with so many swinging beads and jewels that he jingled as he walked. “I am Grundbar, assistant privy council to the king.  The king has royal visitors, so I highly doubt that he will hear your case today. But I will present this to Lord Balin. Your names and your parts of this action?” he sneered at the group.  It was only when Legolas stated that he was the son of Thranduil that Grundbar looked up with concern and hurried into the chamber.

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"Amayla?" Thorin responded to Grundbar.

 

"She's here, now?" Dwalin joined in. 

 

"Aye.  I believe that Caileen, daughter of Ula, is claiming Retribution against Amayla, daughter of Ardru for destroying her tapestry that was hung today.  I only interrupted you, your majesty, because one of them claims to be Legolas, son of King Thranduil.  I had them wait outside," Grundbar replied.  

 

"You made her wait outside?" Dwalin growled. 

 

"Peace brother. You know that we must deal with this trial first," Balin said softly, placing his had on his brother's arm. 

 

"Balin is right, Dwalin.  She is here now.  We are obliged to answer the call for retribution, but we'll get this over quickly as possible, then this blasted meeting, and then you can go to her.  Send orders to the front gate to make certain she doesn't leave," Thorin added. 

 

"Fine, your majesty!" Dwalin answered through clenched teeth, before signaling to a guard and issuing the orders to the front gate.  

.

.

 

Grundbar rushed back out to Amayla and the group looking flustered.  “The king will hear your case. Please follow me.” 

 

The guards stopped Amayla, Strider, and Legolas as they moved to follow, “Your weapons must be removed before entering the chambers.” 

 

Amayla looked to Farrak as she undid her weapons belt, “You will look after them?” 

 

“It will be my honor, my Captain,” he assured her.  

 

The royal guard sent a disdainful look at Farrak’s deference to Amayla.  He watched as the three warriors removed their outer weapons.  He pointed at Amayla, “The daggers on your thighs.”  Amayla sighed as she added them to the pile. 

 

Amayla looked around as she walked into the council chamber.  The room was set up with three high tables in a U shape.  The chairs were obviously of varying heights as the elves sat no higher than any of the dwarves. King Thorin sat in the direct center with Fili at his right and Kili next to his brother.  Ori was next to him, with a stack of papers, ink, and quills at the ready.  On Thorin’s left was Balin and Lady Dis with an empty seat next to her. Probably for Gandalf thought Amayla.

 

Then she saw him. Dwalin stood behind Thorin seemingly listening to a discussion between his King and his brother, arms crossed on his chest, in the familiar stance that made Amayla inhale softly and her heartbeat quicken – looking every bit as solid as the mountain he was standing under.  He was the mountain to her.  During the quest, she sought only to follow her king and re-establish her home.  Dwalin became that home to her, until he broke her heart.  She quickly looked away as he started to look up, afraid that if she saw his marriage bead that she might break down.  On the table to the Thorin’s right sat King Thrandruil, Lord Arodir, and several Elfin counselors who looked familiar to Amayla but she was going to have to work to remember their names. On the table to the left was King Bard, Crown Prince Bain, and several elderly men whom Amayla did not recognize.  Strider and Legolas were directed to seats along the back wall.   

.

 

Amayla’s eyes fell upon the Elfen King.  A huge smile lit her face as she hurriedly rushed to face him, open hand on her heart.  “Edhel adar” (father elf)!  It is good to see you again!” bowing her head and extending her hand.  King Thranduil returned the greeting.  Thrandruil looked at the guards trailing Amayla and simply raised his magnificent eyebrows.  Amayla winked at him, whispering, “You’re going to like this.”  

 

Amayla then turned around to King Bard whom she had not seen since staying in his house in those days before the company left for Erebor.  “King Bard, it has been a long time.  It is good to see you looking so well.  And Prince Bain, you have grown into a fine, handsome man.  I saw Sigrid in Rohan, she was doing well, I assume Tilda is also?  Please give her my regards,” Amayla bowed politely to the King whom she noticed sported a pleasing touch of grey at his temple, but other than that looked much the same as she remembered.  The bowman turned king returned Amayla’s smile, eyes lighting up showing the growing wrinkles around his eyes that frankly Amayla thought made him look even more handsome. 

 

At that point, Grundbar nudged Amayla toward the space in front of the king of Erebor.  Caileen stood next her and Amayla could feel the dwarrowdam tremble as she curtsied before the King. 

 

“Relax” whispered Amayla as she smiled trying to calm the poor dam.  Caileen could not understand why Amayla was being so nice to her.  

 

Amayla stood tall and spoke in an extra loud voice, “Hail Thorin, King Under the Mountain” before making a formal bow.  Although it was more traditional for females to curtsey, because of her role as a guard and warrior and because she never wore a dress – Amayla always bowed.  Amayla’s eyes never strayed from Thorin’s, but out of the corner of her eye, she could see Fili eyes shining with a tight but real smile on his lips while mimicking his uncle’s posture, while Kili was rocking forward in his seat with a smile as big as his face. 

 

Thorin broke eye contact first which Amayla considered a small victory and leaned to Balin stating simply, “Begin.”  As Balin stood up, Amayla raised her arm, startling the white-haired dwarf.

 

“Please, before we start, I must admit that I am uncomfortable standing in these chambers in front of all this royalty, armed to the extent that I am.” 

 

Dwalin sprung forward looking at the guards standing behind her.  Amayla simply raised her hand up displaying that she was not a threat. 

 

“Did ye not take her weapons from her before you let led her in,” Dwalin growled. 

 

The two guards shifted uncomfortably, looking at each other.  Finally, the larger of the two spurt out, “We had her remove her sword, bow, throwing axes, and two knives on her thighs, sir.” 

 

Amayla pursed her lips together to keep from smiling as she heard snickering from in front of her – Fili and Kili she suspected without actually making eye contact – and from behind her, Strider and Legolas she imagined.  Dwalin just glared at the two guards as he made his way in front of her, asking Caileen to step to the side.  

 

Amayla wasn’t sure what came over her, but she couldn’t resist taunting Dwalin, “I would have thought royal guards of Erebor were better trained than this.”

 

 Dwalin just frowned further.  She looked at Kili and winked, “I could have anything down my trousers.”

 

Kili lost all control, laughing out loud and even pounding on the table. Fili, shoulders shaking, had to nudge Kili in his side, pointing out the death glare that Thorin was sending his way.  

 

Amayla turned to the guards, “Don’t take it too bad lads, there’s probably only one dwarf who could find them all, but I’m sure the crown prince doesn’t usually pat down visitors at court.  Although I would wager an ale that even Prince Fili wouldn’t get them all.”  Amayla smiled wickedly at Fili. 

 

The blond prince sprang to his feet, yelling “I accept that challenge!”

 

“SIT DOWN FILI,” came the roar from Thorin. 

 

Amayla flashed Fili a quick sign of 10 as Fili was sitting.  Fili nodded, silently accepting the bet. 

 

Dwalin started with the two daggers on the side of her boots, shooting both guards a disgusted look as he handed them the knives.  Amayla turned her head to the guards, “You two really should have gotten those.” 

 

Dwalin motioned to her to take off her coat. 

 

“That’s cheating!” she complained as Dwalin patted down her coat.  The bald dwarf pulled one dagger from the collar and two from inside pockets.  He then took both her hands in his holding her arms straight out.  Amayla hated herself as the simple touch of his hands on her flesh could still make her heart flutter.  Dwalin pushed up her sleeves and removed the knives on both arms.  He then stepped back and frowned. 

 

“Is that all lass?”

 

“Nope” she shook her head slowly.  

 

Dwalin stroked his beard, looking her up and down.  He signaled for her to turn around which she did veeeery slowly.  Amayla chuckled as she saw the two princes, heads bent together, pointing and looking at her, deep in discussion.  She wasn’t too surprised when Fili’s face lit up and he fairly shouted, “Her boots!” 

 

Dwalin turned to him as if he were daft, snapping “I already got those!” 

 

“No Dwalin, the back of the boots, just above the heel. Very Nice Amayla!” 

 

Dwalin muttered as he took out the two slim, but deadly blades. 

 

“Just one more” Amayla taunted, “I’d tell you where it is, but where would the fun be in that?  Besides, I have a bet with Fili going…”

 

“Maybe you should frisk her” suggested Kili trying to be helpful. 

 

“Kili!” admonished Dis sharply.  Amayla was slightly surprised to see Dwalin’s neck go red at the idea.  She kept glancing at him, but saw no bead.  Does he has an ear cuff instead?

 

“I have had enough” stated Thorin firmly, killing the mood.

 

“Wait uncle, just one more minute” pleaded Fili. 

 

“Get on with it then” he grumbled back. 

 

Fili came around the table to take a closer look at Amayla, his bright blue eyes going up and down, left to right, looking for any strange lump or wrinkle.  Fili’s eyes began to linger on Amayla’s chest.  Dwalin’s frown grew ever deeper.  Amalya began to wonder if Dwalin’s eyebrows would actually meet in the middle if he drew them any closer together. 

 

“Raise your left arm up higher,” Fili instructed grinning.  Amayla complied.  Fili leaned over to Dwalin and whispered in his mangled ear.  Dwalin’s blush grew deeper as he looked at Amalya’s breasts. 

 

He leaned in to her and whispered hoarsely, “Under your left breast”. 

 

Amayla whispered back “Don’t you want to make certain he is right?”

 

Dwalin looked horrified, straightening immediately.   Fili coughed throwing his hand over his mouth to cover his laughter at Dwalin’s obvious discomfort.  Amayla’s reaction was the opposite, stiffening at Dwalin’s horror, “Don’t worry. It’s purely defensive, I couldn’t get to it without taking off my shirt first so I think your honor is safe,” Amayla nearly spat out.  Her voice was so thick with distain that both Fili and Caileen looked at her in concern. 

 

Turning to the blond prince, Amayla’s smile returned, “Congratulations, I owe you an ale.” 

 

Kili slapped his brother on the back as Fili returned to his seat.

 

Balin stood up again and cleared this throat, “If we may begin then .  . .” and motioned Caileen forward to stand next to Amayla.  “Caileen, daughter of Ula, you seek retribution for the destruction of your tapestry that was to be unveiled tomorrow.  Is that correct?”  Caileen responded quietly with a simple yes. 

 

“Lady Amayla, …”. 

 

“Just Amayla,” interrupted Amayla. 

 

“Ah lass, perhaps you were never informed, but King Thorin named all in the company as nobles upon his coronation,” replied Balin. 

 

“Since I was DEAD at the time, I’m certain that the King did not include me in that proclamation, Lord Balin,” Amayla stated tersely, her entire body stiffening. 

 

“Let it be,” nodded Thorin to Balin. 

 

Balin began again, “Amayla, daughter of Erebor, heir of Ardru, do ….” 

 

Amayla interrupted again, “honored daughter of Thranduil.”  The gasps echoed around the room.  Amayla continued, “If you are using my formal name, you should use ALL of my titles.”  All eyes turned to the Elfen king who bowed his head simply in acknowledgement. 

 

Balin tried again, “Amayla, daughter of Erebor, heir of Ardru, honored daughter of Thranduil, do you admit to destroying the tapestry in question. 

 

“Yes” replied Amayla simply. 

 

“Do you agree that Caileen is entitled to retribution?”

 

“Of course.  It was a beautiful tapestry.  A masterpiece.  She should receive not only compensation for materials and time, but pain and suffering too.” 

 

Balin looked at Amayla quite puzzled and turned to the other darrowdam, “Caileen, what type of compensation do you ask as retribution – coin or hair?”

 

Caileen looked completely uncomfortable, as if she might throw up.  Amayla put her arm around Caileen and spoke softly to her, “You want coin, right?”  

 

“Um yes, coin.” 

 

“How much lass?” continued Balin. 

 

Feeling Caileen’s shoulders start to heave, Amayla encouraged her softly, “Just start by telling them how much the materials cost.” 

 

Caileen thought for a minute and whispered, “about 50 gold coins.” 

 

“Materials 50 gold coins,” repeated Amayla loudly so all could hear.  “Now how long did it take you?” Amalya asked. 

 

“Slightly over two years” came the soft answer, tears filling her eyes. 

 

“Over two years of work,” repeated Amayla again, adding “let’s assume 50 gold coins per year to cover salary plus a little extra, added to materials makes 170 gold coins.” 

 

Balin nodded in agreement. 

 

“Then there is the pain of having her masterpiece destroyed, so let’s just double it to 340.  But we should round that up to a nice even 400 gold coins.  Does that sound good Caileen?”

 

 Caileen looked up at Amayla and nodded mutely. 

 

Balin nodded again and asked Caileen simply, “Is 400 gold coins acceptable retribution.” 

 

Caileen stated “Yes.” 

 

Balin then turned to Amayla and asked, “Do you agree to pay Caileen, daughter of Ula, 400 gold coins in retribution of the destruction of her tapestry?” 

 

“Me?” asked Amayla innocently “Why would I need to pay retribution?  It is not my fault that the tapestry needed to be destroyed.”

 

All eyes looked at Amayla in amazement.  Balin questioned simply, “Then whom do you say needs to pay retribution?” 

 

Amayla, face blank, replied simply “King Thorin.” 

Chapter Text

“What?!?!!?” roared Thorin pounding on the table as he jumped to his feet.  Balin’s face dropped.  Caileen took a step back and clutched her chest.  Dwalin took a step closer to Thorin.  Fili and Kili looked at each other, Amayla, and then Thorin in a continuous circle.  Amayla snuck a peek at Thrandruil to find him sitting back in his chair, arms across his chest, looking very relaxed and amused. 

 

Amayla looked down to the shorter dam next to her.  Caileen’s eyes were as wide as saucers and her mouth kept opening and closing like a fish out of water.  Amayla grew concerned that Caileen might throw up or pass out.  She took Caileen’s hand, looked deep into her eyes, and said simply, “Breathe, slowly, in and out – you can trust me.” 

 

Caileen, completely out of her element and desperate for any help, took a deep breath, stared at Amayla, shrugged her shoulders and mouthed, “Okay.” 

 

Balin finally recovered his composure, but Thorin did not.  “Why, in Mahal’s name, would I pay retribution for a tapestry that you destroyed?” he nearly shouted, staring directly at Amalya. 

 

Amalya turned to Balin, calm and composed, and stated simply, “There is one piece of information that you have not asked, Lord Balin.” 

 

“And what would that be lass?” 

 

“Please ask Caileen the subject of her tapestry.” 

 

Balin turned to Caileen wearing his most grandfatherly expression and asked, “Alright lass, please tell us what your tapestry depicted.” 

 

Caileen straightened herself up and took a deep breath, “It was a depiction of the Battle of Five Armies, m’lord.” 

 

“Go on lass,” encouraged Balin “specifically what part of the Battle of Five Armies.” 

 

“King Thorin killing Azog.”

 

With those words, Thorin sat down abruptly.  Fili and Kili looked at each other, eyes wide.  Balin simply said “oh lass” all color draining from his face.  Dwalin just stared at Amayla.  Caileen looked up at Amayla with horror, not having a clue as to what she might have said that would elicit such reactions.   Amayla just smiled and patted Caileen’s shoulder.  “Don’t worry, it will all be over in a moment.  You did nothing wrong.  I’ll explain all when we’re out of here.”

 

Balin turned to Thorin, “My King?” was all he could muster.  Thorin stared at Amayla. She stood straight and tall as the trained warrior she was, not showing any emotion.  She felt his eyes on her but she kept her glaze fixed just behind him.  Thorin finally turned to Caileen and stated simply, “I will pay the retribution.  You may go.”

 

At that moment, the wizard who was never arrived late, always arriving precisely when he intended to, walked through the chamber doors. 

 

“Hail King Thorin!” Gandalf exclaimed loudly while bowing to the throne, breaking the silence. 

 

All eyes turned to Gandalf, yet no one said a word.  You didn’t need to be a wizard to feel the uncomfortable silence.  No one seemed to want to let Gandalf know what was going on as all eyes turned back to Thorin.  Amayla took advantage of the moment to look at Thranduil again.  He raised his glass of wine to her in tribute and smiled a rare smile before returning to his usual stoic self.  Gandalf caught the exchange and looked questioningly at Amayla and Thranduil. 

 

“Exquisite timing as usual Mithrandir.” stated Thanduil.  Amayla simply bowed to Gandalf and greeted him politely.  She turned to Caileen, took her hand, and said “Let’s get out of here.”   

 

Amayla gathered her coat and all her knives before joining with Caileen to bow to Thorin.  The two dams started out of the hall together. Amayla stopped briefly to talk to Legolas and Aragon before exiting, “I warned you that I didn’t want to come to Erebor!” 

 

Strider smirked, “You never cease to surprise - My Lady!” 

 

“Oh Shut up!  I’m going to get something to drink, and hopefully bathe – not necessarily in that order.  You two can deal with Gandalf and whatever he is up to by yourselves! And don’t forget my weapons!  Come on Caileen.” 

.

.

 

 

Amalya practically dragged Caileen down the hallway until Cailleen dug her heels in at a quiet bench at sat down.  They sat next to each in silence for a few minutes.  Finally, Caileen was able to speak, “What just happened?”

 

“You just won retribution from your king.”

 

“But why did HE agree to pay?” 

 

Amayla looked down at the blond Dwarf, “I’ve heard that Erebor has the most wonderful hot springs east of Rivendell.  How about you and I go take a soak and I’ll tell you everything!” 

 

“NO! You will tell me NOW! I believe you owe me THAT!”

 

 Amayla took a deep breath, staring at the wall in front of them, “Thorin didn’t kill Azog, I did.” 

 

Caileen dropped her head into her hands, “Oh Mahal” was all she could whisper. 

 

“How ‘bout that bath now?” prodded Amayla. 

 

“How ‘bout an ale first,” came the reply.

 

 “I knew I liked you – Lead on!” exclaimed Amayla as she clapped the blond on her back. 

 

Caileen led Amayla to the food halls.  As the lunch crowd had cleared and the dinner crowds had yet to arrive, it was easy to find a quiet table near one of the bars serving ale.  “My treat,” stated Amayla as she pointed to Caileen to sit down.  The bartender gave Amayla a quizzical look as she ordered 4 ales.  “And good day to you to, my good sir,” Amayla snarked back.  She set two mugs in front of Caileen and took her seat. 

 

“Cheers,” Amayla smirked and chugged her first mug.  Caileen followed suit. 

 

“This is prime ale!” said Amayla wiping her sleeve across her mouth.  

 

Caileen smiled, continuing, “So you killed Azog?”

 

 Amayla nodded yes and started on her second mug. 

 

“I didn’t know that.  Were you part of Dain’s army?”

 

“No, I came from Ered Luin.  I was a Captain of the Gorvuud Garrison.”

 

“That’s how you knew that guard.”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

“You also seemed to know the King and the Princes pretty well. And Lord Balin and Commander Dwalin.  And those other Kings – King Bard and you’re King Thrandruil‘s adopted daughter?”

 

 “Yes.” 

 

“Yes?  All you have to say is yes?!  Who are you?” 

 

Amayla finished her second ale and pointed at Caileen’s, “Finish up.  Let’s go to the baths and I’ll tell you there.” 

 

Caileen drank down her ale in a few gulps and let out large burp “You know, you keep promising that you’ll explain everything, but you never do.”

 

“To the baths, my friend,” smiled Amayla. 

 

The two dams walked through winding corridors, always heading lower and lower.  Amayla started to notice a distinctive smell.  “Is that the pools I’m smelling?” 

 

“Yes, that’s the sulfer.  You’ll get used to it.  It’s not really that bad.  The pools in the Iron Hills smell FAR worse.  Have you never been in a pool?” asked Cailenn. 

 

“Not ones that smelled like this” Amayla said, wrinkling her nose.

 

“Don’t worry,” she continued, “there are showers that you use before and after. Before to actually get clean, and after to rinse away the smell.” 

 

Upon arriving, Caileen stepped Amayla through the process of hanging her clothes and grabbing towels.  She led Amayla to the first showers pointing out the soaps and shampoos.  “I may be a few minutes,” warned Amayla, “I’ve been on the road for a few months now, and it’s going to take some work to get really clean.” 

 

Caileen just laughed, “Take your time, and then go through those doors.  I’ll be there.  There doesn’t seem to be many Dwarves here right now.  I’ll make certain that we can get our own pool and then you’re telling me EVERYTHING!” 

 

Amayla finally emerged from the showers and tentatively lowered herself into the pool where Caileen was sitting, her head laying back on the edge, eyes closed.  “Oh yeah .. this feels good… oooooooh yeah,’ moaned Amayla. 

 

Caileen chuckled without opening her eyes, “Others are going to wonder what’s going on in here with all those noises you’re making.” 

 

“Don’t care,” was all Amayla could muster.  “Just consider yourself lucky that I’m not singing.” 

 

The two sat in silence for a long time, except for the occasional moan by Amayla, before Caileen opened her eyes and stated firmly, “Times up!  I’ve given you long enough.  START TALKING.” 

 

“Alright, but first you tell me what you know about the Battle of the Five Armies.”  

 

Caileen made an annoyed face at Amayla but started talking, “I really only paid attention to come up with something that I could weave, so most of what I learned has come from songs.  Basically, that the company of Thorin Oakenshield traveled from the Blue Mountains and faced a dragon to reclaim Erebor.  They didn’t actually kill the dragon, that was King Bard.  After that, the Elves and Men raised an army against the King, but then Lord Dain and his army came to the King’s rescue.  Thorin battled Azog.  Azog died --apparently by your hand, not by the King’s - and Thorin Oakenshield became King Under the Mountain. That’s pretty much it.” 

 

Amayla quirked an eyebrow and frowned at Caileen who could only shrug in embarrassment.  “That’s pitiful.  You left out a few things:  a hobbit burglar, a map and key, trolls turned to stone, help from the Elves in Rivendell, stone giant battles, the Goblin king and minions, being rescued by eagles, a skin changer who turned into a giant bear, spiders, escaping Mirkwood in barrels, Laketown, finding the hidden door, trying to kill a dragon, searching for the Arkenstone, dragon sickness, fighting WITH elves and men against orcs, and Azog and Bolg dying.  That’s all I remember.  After that, I woke up in Mirkwood.” 

 

Caileen just stared at Amayla for a few minutes. 

 

“I’m sorry, I had no idea. -------- Can I ask a few questions?”

 

“Go ahead, ask away.”

 

“Hmmmm, where to start.  Why did you waken in Mirkwood?”

 

“I had killed Azog and made certain that Thorin was taken to a healing tent and then Dwalin and I went after Bolg.  It was Dwalin, Legolas, and Kili who probably killed him, but he took me over Ravenhill’s wall with him when he fell.  Apparently, I had broken nearly every bone in my body so I was taken to Mirkwood right away.  I was unconscious for many weeks. My recovery took a long time.”

 

“Is that why you weren’t at the coronation?  You aren’t depicted in the tapestry.  And why did you correct Lord Balin about a Lady? You said something about being dead?”

 

“It’s complicated, but simply, nobody could find me on the battlefield or in any of the healing tents, and they finally assumed that I was dead.  But all the time, I was in Mirkwood being very well treated.  Thranduil tried to let Thorin know I was alive, but somehow, the message never got through – miscommunication I guess.  After a few months, when I was fully healed, I returned to Ered Luin.” 

 

“Why didn’t you go back to Erebor and let them know you were alive?”

 

“My body was fully healed, but my heart was broken.  I couldn’t understand why nobody had come to see me.  And there was a little problem of having been banished from Erebor.”

 

“Banished? But why?”

 

“Have you not heard about the King succumbing to dragon sickness?” Caileen shook her head. “Well, he did and before the battle, Thorin tried to throw Bilbo – he was the Hobbit with the company - off the ramparts.  I intervened, for which I was banished.  Again, it’s a long story involving the Arkenstone….”

 

“Amayyyyyylaaaaa!  Are you in there?” came a yell from a familiar voice.

 

“Who is that?” asked Caileen grabbing for towels. 

 

“Prince Kili” she answered as Caileen’s eyes went wide.  “No Kili, I’m not here!”

 

Kili seemed to fall for that line again, pausing before figuring it out.

 

“Yes, you are! Can I come in?” the voice yelled again.

 

“Noooooo!!!!” both Caileen and Amayla yelled back.

 

“When are you coming out?  Hurry up!!!!”

 

“What do you want Kili?”

 

“I want to see you!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

Amayla sighed and turned to Caileen.  “He’s pretty relentless.  He’s not going to go away.  I think our peace and quiet is over.  Want to meet him? I can introduce him to you.  He is fairly handsome now that he’s finally grown a decent beard.”

 

“Meet one of the princes? Sure, why not?  We’ll probably fall madly in love and end up getting married.  What else would I expect from a day like today.”

 

“I’m sure Lady Dis would love that! But I think Kili’s heart is spoken for.  How do you feel about blonds though?”

 

“The crown prince? Sure, why not?  That would make me queen eventually right?”  laughed Caileen. 

 

 Amayla shouted out, “Okay Kili, we’ll be out soon.  Why don’t we meet you somewhere?” Turning to Caileen “Where did we get that good ale earlier?”

 

“The Grey Stone.”

 

“Kili, we’ll meet you at The Grey Stone in about a half an hour.  Is Fili coming too?”

 

“Great!! And no, well maybe later.  He has to stay at that meeting.  Uncle let me out early.  I think they’re going to have dinner sent in.”

 

“Are Legolas and Strider still there?”

 

“They were when I left.”

 

“Go tell all three of them where we’ll be so they can join us later.”

 

“Okay – what about the rest of the company? Can I tell them too?”

 

“Of course – now go!”

 

Amayla chuckled as she heard the younger prince go crashing away. 

.

.

 

Amayla showered, redressed, and braided her hair in a simple single braid down her back in her usual hurried style.  She was shocked when she saw that Caileen had somehow mostly dried her hair and had arranged it with multiple braids pinned up on top of her head, the rest of her wavy hair hanging down her back. 

 

Paranoid at Amayla’s expression, Caileen felt her hair asking, “What? Am I lopsided or something?”

 

“No, No!” Amaylas reassured her, “I’m just amazed that you managed to do all that with your hair in such a short amount of time.  I would have thought that would have taken hours.”

 

“This? This is pretty simple – well maybe not as simple as yours,” Caileen choked out trying to hide her quizzical examination of Amayla’s messy braid. 

 

Caileen was stunned that the formidable dwarf seemed uncomfortable.  “Well,” Amayla stumbled out, “I missed the hairstyling lessons growing up.  Not much need when you live in a military barracks your whole life.  I CAN put in my family and rank braids, but it usually takes me a little while, so this is what you get!”

 

“You are a smidge uneven, would you mind if a redid it quickly?  It will drive me a little crazy if I have to look at it all night.”

 

“Fine, just make it quick.”

 

Caileen undid Amayla’s braid and brushed out her damp hair with her fingers.  Starting at the right temple, Caileen braided around the bottom of Amayla’s head, ending with a single braid hanging over her left shoulder.  “There, all done.  Simple, pretty, and most importantly EVEN.” 

 

Feeling her hair, Amayla muttered, “Thank you, but I have a feeling I’m going to get some crap from Legolas when he sees this!  Let’s get going.”

 

“Legolas huh … So are you and he …. You know ….” Caileen asked softly. 

 

“Hah!  Me and Legolas?!?“ Amayla could not contain her laughter, “No, No, No!!!  More like brother and sister, especially as we sort of ARE brother and sister.  Obviously, not by blood.  But since Thranduil sort of adopted me, it’s hard to explain as Dwarfs don’t really have an equivalent, I’m Legolas’ honorary sister.  You should have seen his face when I first met him and told him I was his sister!  Hysterical!! He wouldn’t believe me until I showed him the necklace Thranduil gave me.  It took a little while, but we’ve worked out the relationship.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him and he feels the same. “

 

“And the man?”

 

“Strider, and he’s a Dunedain.  He’s got quite the story behind him that I’m not going to get into.  But he is like a brother also – no romance there either.” 

 

“What about any lucky dwarf?  Anything happen on your quest?”  Caileen winked at Amayla.

 

Caileen was shocked as Amayla paused a second too long before answering.  “No, no romance for me - Mahal’s folly.  I think he just wants me to be a warrior.  And so I am.”

 

Caileen blushed, stammering, “I’m sorry. Wasn’t trying to be nosy.”

 

Amayla laughed and slapped Caileen on the back, “Yes you were!  No worries. It’s Mahal’s will.  So, what about you?  Any romances pending?”

 

Caileen just chuckled her response.  “Much to my mother’s great frustration – no.  I’ve been too busy with my tapestry to even THINK about romance the last few years.”

 

“Hmmmm, maybe I really DO need to introduce you to Fili!”

 

 Caileen just smiled and shook her head. 

 

The two dwarrowdams headed back toward the market.  “Speaking of family, what’s yours like and where are you from?  I feel like I know you, but I really don’t know anything about you!” Amayla inquired of Caileen. 

 

“We’re from the Iron Hills.  Came to Erebor the spring after the mountain was reclaimed.  I’m an only child. Father is miner.  He’s a foreman in the gold mines.  Mother is a seamstress.  That’s where I get my design talent from I guess.  I can sew too, but much prefer weaving.  We did a lot of the work repairing and cleaning the old tapestries when we first arrived.  You wouldn’t believe the damage.”  Amayla shot her a look.  “Oh yeah, I guess you know what it was like.  But, anyway, all my work was mostly repairing until two years ago when I was given my commission . . . .and you know the rest of THAT story.”

 

Amayla had the good grace to look sheepish.  “Have I told you how sorry I was about that?”

 

“Not in the last hour,” Caileen chuckled.

 

“Well I am! And I will make it up to you, beyond the 400 gold.  To whom do I need to talk about getting you a new commission?”

 

“That would be the Council of the Interior, including the heads of the weaver’s, Stonemason’s, and Painter’s guilds, and the Minister of Treasury and the Minister of the Interior.  For tapestries, I would have to get the designed approved by Weaver’s guild first, and then present in front of the council.  The Stonemason and Painters Guilds never object.  It’s the Interior and Treasury Lords that make the final, final decision.”

 

“Any chance I know either of those two Dwarves?”

 

Caileen smiled and looked at Amayla, “Lord Dori and Lord Gloin.”

 

Amayla smiled back, “Done and done!”

.

.

 

 

They could hear the noise well before they made it to the market.  Amayla was surprised at herself as she was torn between running to join the party and being too scared to take another step.  Caileen sensed her new friend’s hesitation.  “Sounds like fun” she encouraged Amayla.  Amayla swallowed hard, tears suddenly collecting in her eyes, “I can’t believe how scared I am.”  Caileen smiled at her, “Breath – slowly, in and out!” and pushed Amayla forward. 

 

Kili saw her first, “AMAAAAAAAAAAAAYLA!”  he screamed as he pounced on her wrapping his arms tightly around her and swinging her around. “Lassie!” Bofur followed behind shortly, joining in the hug.  Soon she was completely surrounded by Kili, Bifur, Bofur, Nori, Dori, and Oin.  There were tears, smiles, hugs, head knocks, kisses and more tears.  Someone shoved an ale in her hands as Bofur climbed on a table top, “Here’s to our lost sister, hero of Erebor, slayer of Azog, returned to us at last.  May she never leave her family again.”  “Here, Here!” came from all around as mugs were emptied. 

 

Amayla grabbed Caileen and dragged her into the middle of the fray, “Everyone, this is Caileen, daughter of Ula.  She’s my friend.  Caileen, this is the company – or at least some of them – Prince Kili, Lord Bofur - hah, LORD Bofur! That’s something I’d never thought I’d be saying,” she said winking at the floppy hatted Dwarf, “Lord Bifur, Lord Nori - watch his hands, Lord Oin, the healer, and Lord Dori, whom I believe you know and who we have to talk to, but that can wait.  And that’s the last time I’m calling any of you Lord!” Dori just looked confused but happy. 

 

The merriment continued as the ale flowed freely.  There was laughter and stories as the members tried to top each other telling Caileen stories about Amayla.  It was when the story of Mirkwook came up and the insults to Thranduil started flying that Amayla had step in.  “I know that King Thranduil is not very popular in Erebor, but he saved my life and adopted me, I care for him deeply so I will not stand for further insults.”  The dwarves stood shocked in place. 

 

It was Oin who spoke up first, “I know my hearing is bad lassie, but did you just say that Thranduil adopted you?” 

 

“Yes.  Well sort-of.  It’s not exactly like a Dwarven adoption.  I’m not a princess or anything.  But I am part of his family and consider him a father, much like Ardru was.  If it weren’t for Thranduil, I would not have survived my wounds – physical or mental.”

 

Bifur signed angrily at Amayla in response, “Then why didn’t he let us know you were alive?”

 

“He tried. I know he did! First, it was many weeks before I regained consciousness enough to tell them who I was.  More weeks before I could try to walk again.  But I saw the letter he wrote and his frustration and anger when nobody replied.  He even sent his most trusted counselor to talk to Thorin, but Thorin was “busy” and just said that to send me back to my garrison. I assumed that I was still banished so when I was fully healed, I returned to Gorvuud.  I wanted to see Ardru before he passed.  I barely made it.”  Tears began to fill her eyes.   

 

Bofur pulled Amayla into another hug.  “If you are here now because of Thranduil, then our thanks to him” and he raised a glass of ale.  “To Thranduil!” the others joined in.

 

Bofur continued after draining his mug, “Lassie, it’s so just good to be able to lay eyes on you.  It was something when Dis showed up and let us all know you weren’t dead after all – but seeing you and hugging you is ….. beyond a dream!”

 

“You really thought I was dead?” 

 

“We looked for weeks,” said Kili sadly.  “Checked and rechecked the tents.  Looked at every fallen dwarf.  Nothing.  Mirkwood reported that they only had dwarrows, no dams.  And then Dwalin found your bear tooth necklace.  I’ll never forget his face when he showed it to us.  Just dropped it on the dining table one night.  I don’t think he spoke for days.  Wouldn’t even talk when we decided to bury it, just grunted.”

 

“You buried my necklace?” she whispered. 

 

“Aye Amayla, it’s all we had of you.”

 

“I’m so sorry, so sorry! I didn’t even think about that.  I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!”  Amayla sobbed as the tears poured out of her eyes, nose running. 

 

Amayla found herself in another group hug.  “Lassie, there’s nothing for us to forgive,” they insisted.

 

“No, there is.  I was so mad at all of you for abandoning me.  When no one came to see me after my name was added to the injury reports and nobody answered my letters, I just figured that Thorin wouldn’t let you because I was banished.”

 

“Lassie, we never got any letters.  If we had known you were in Thranduil’s Halls, nothing Thorin could have said would have kept us from you!”

 

“I should have known that!  Even after Dwalin came to Gorvuud,  I never bothered to think about how you all felt about it, thinking I was dead.  How I would have felt if I thought that any of you had died!  I was so selfish!  You should all hate me!” she wept. 

 

They were all a blubbering mess. 

 

Finally, it was Caileen who lightened the mood.  “Enough!” she shouted.  “You have managed to get me crying and I didn’t even know ANY of you this morning!  This is a happy occasion!!! Everybody refill your mugs.  I’m making a toast!”

 

Everyone wiped their eyes and refilled their mugs.  This time it was Caileen who stood on the table, “To the company of Thorin Oakenshield – your small group succeeded where most thought you would fail – and now the Kingdom of Erebor thrives again!  To the company!!!” 

 

“To the company!” was the boisterous response.  Mugs were chugged, burps were burped, and laughter ensued. 

 

A few ales later, Dori turned to Caileen, “Your tapestry went up today, didn’t it?  How does it look?  I haven’t gotten to the dining halls yet today.” 

 

Caileen’s eye grew wide and Amayla spit her ale out.  “Dori – we need to talk about that.  I, uh, sort of destroyed Caileen’s tapestry earlier today.” 

 

Dori, shocked, replied “What exactly do you mean by “destroyed” may I ask Amayla?”

 

“Yeah Amayla, tell him,” laughed Kili. 

 

Before Amayla could finish sticking her tongue out at Kili, Caileen laughed explaining, “She used her sword to hack it into hundreds of pieces – that’s what she means by destroyed.” 

 

“Wha????” was Dori’s stunned reply. 

 

“I sort of lost my temper when I saw it, so I “destroyed” it.  But don’t worry, Caileen asked for retribution and Thorin, oops I mean KING Thorin, agreed to pay it.”

 

“Thorin paid the retribution?!” stammered Dori, gaining the attention of the other dwarves.

 

“Of course he did, once he heard what the tapestry depicted.  Hey! Speaking of which.  You are the Minister of Interior; didn’t you have to approve the design.  How did you let it get approved?” questioned Amayla, swaying slightly on her feet. 

 

“Yeah Dori, how come?” parroted Kili.

 

“Why?” asked Dori, “what was the problem with the design?”

 

Kili blurted, “It showed uncle killing Azog!”  Kili turned to the other dwarves, “Thorin was SO pissed when he heard that, I thought he was going to explode!”

 

“Shite! I bet he was!” was Nori’s response, “What gives brother? Shouldn’t you have noticed that?”

 

“Well obviously, I didn’t see the design!  The Weaving Guild approved it!  I was only concerned with the dimensions. And those were right!” Dori screeched at this brother, turning a most unflattering shade of red.  The company erupted with laughter at Dori’s discomfort. 

 

“That reminds me Dori,” Amalya burst out.  “You need to give Caileen some new commissions!  Good ones!  Ones showing the real story of the Battle and the journey before that.  All the good stuff, like the trolls . . .” 

 

“No! Not the trolls,” whined Kili earning more laughs from the company.

 

Dori waved off Amayla, “Of course, of course – but I’ll have to get Gloin’s approval too.”

 

“Did somebody mention my name?”

 

“Gloooooooooooooin!” the company responded.  Amayla launched herself at the auburn-haired dwarf.  He caught her in mid-flight and twirled her around. 

 

“Oh Lassie, it is SO good to see you!  I got the word you were here and came right down.  Brought my son with me.  Here, let me introduce you to Gimli!” 

 

“This is your WEE lad?!” giggled Amayla as she got a good look at the handsome red-headed young dwarf.  He was slightly taller than his father and not quite as broad, but his beard was just as spectacular as his father’s, reaching down to the middle of his chest, braided and decorated with beads.  “So nice to finally meet you Gimli, believe me, I’ve heard one or two good things about you from your father!” At that the other dwarves burst out laughing, “Very impressive beard, maybe you can teach Kili how to grow one!” 

 

“Hey!!” came a hurt grunt.  

 

Gloin puffed out his chest even further, “Aye, takes after me!  And I’m not ashamed to say that he’s even better with an axe than me.  Handed down my axes to him just last month.  Not much good to me now that Thorin has me in meetings every day.”

 

“Better than you, you say?  Perhaps I should be the judge of that,” challenged Amayla handing both Dwarves an ale. 

 

“I’d be more than happy to show you,” replied Gimli eyeing Amayla up and down in a not too subtle fashion.  “Owwww!!! Wha’ the …”

 

“No son of mine will be acting like that around Amayla!” barked Gloin as he smacked his son upside his head.  “If you want to prove yourself, do it in the sparring ring like an honorable dwarf!”

 

 “It would be my pleasure.  I already have one sparring session scheduled for first thing, but it’s with an old friend and doesn’t have to be too taxing.  I’m sure I’ll still be able to give you a go,” cooed Amayla at Gimli. 

 

Gimli’s nodded in agreement, eyes never leaving Amayla’s backside as she walked away.  Bofur sidled up to the young dwarf chuckling, “I wouldn’t let Dwalin see you looking at her like that, my friend.” 

 

Gimli spit out the ale in his mouth, “Dwalin?” he choked out.  “Dwalin,” came the curt reply.

 

The party continued until Bofur started complaining about being hungry.  “Let’s go see what Bombur has going in the kitchen tonight! Kili, any chance you can get us into the Royal dining room so we can continue this little shindig?”

 

“I’m on it!” with the reply as Kili took off running.

 

Caileen piped up, “Um, somebody needs to settle the bill before we leave.”

 

Nori turned to Gloin, “How bout billing this to our beloved King? After all, he wouldn’t be here without us!”

 

“Aye – why not” replied Gloin downing what was probably his sixth ale.  “And I’ll have them send a few kegs up to the dining room as well.”

 

As Gloin settled up with the manager, Caileen turned to Amayla.  “I should probably be heading home now.  I’m certain my mother is beyond panicked by now.” 

 

“No!  You can’t leave now.  You have to have dinner and you haven’t met my brother yet, or Strider, or Prince Fili!  Your mother would certainly wouldn’t be mad if she knew that you were having dinner with the Princes!”  insisted Amayla.

 

“My mother would faint if she knew I was having dinner with the Princes.”

 

“Great, then that’s settled.  Nori, can you get a message to Caileen’s family and let them know where she is please?  Then meet us in the dining room.”  Amayla directed.

 

“Aye Aye Captain!” Nori winked at Amayla on his way out.

Chapter Text

The crew had to pass the main dining hall on the way to the royal dining room.  Caileen suddenly stopped short and grabbed Amayla’s arm, pulling her back and forcing her to stop.  Amayla shot her a confused look.  Caileen covered her eyes and pointed around a large statue of a dwarf, marking the entrance to the dining Hall.   Amalya cringed as they approached the site of the tapestry’s destruction while the rest of the group went ahead.  “I can’t look – you do it!” grimaced Caileen averting her eyes.  Amayla slowly peaked around the statue, “Nothing!” she sighed with relief, “somebody did a good job of cleaning it up.” The two smiled at each other and hurried to follow the others to the royal dining room. It was a private room adjacent to the large dining room. Like the King’s council chambers, there were veins of green marble running through the walls, golden wall sconces reflecting the light.  There were four large and tables in the room, but nothing or nobody else. 

 

“Should we be here?” whispered Caileen. 

 

“Why are you whispering?” whispered Amayla back.

 

“I don’t know. But I would feel a lot better if I knew we had permission to be in here.”

 

At that, Bombur came rushing out of a door in the back of the room carrying a large platter of food which he quickly set down on the nearest table, “Amayla, lassie, come here!” Amayla went running to the large red-headed dwarf quickly being enveloped in a rib-bruising hug.  “Let me look at you lassie! You look thin! Come sit down and eat something!”    Amayla threw back her head and laughed, “Bombur you haven’t changed a bit!” 

 

Quickly, all the others streamed out of the kitchen door carrying more food.  Gimli and Gloin both had barrels on their shoulders. There were platters of ham and two different kinds of sausage, bowls of potatoes and onions, as well as plates of asparagus.  A kitchen worker brought out plates and cutlery and there was mayhem as everyone started filing their plates.  Caileen hung back slightly overwhelmed.  “Come on Caileen,” warned Amayla, “you better just jump in before there’s nothing left.  There’s not going to be a lot of niceties among these guys after this much ale!  And hurry, food could start flying at any minute!”

.

.

 

The bedlam quieted as everyone sat down with full plates of food.  Bombur ate a bit and then stood announcing that he had to check on the food to be served in the council chambers.  “Salads, chicken, and fish – you guys are definitely getting the better meal.”

 

Amayla turned to Kili, “Go see if you can get Fili and Ori free to join us while they’re eating dinner.  Legolas and Strider too.”

 

“How am I going to do that?” asked Kili as he stuffed a sausage into his mouth. 

 

“Just slide in and whisper it to Fili.  Let him figure it out.”

 

“If Thorin gets mad, I’m blaming you.” He replied spitting food as he spoke. 

 

“I think I’m safe from his wrath – at least today.”

 

“Alright, but only if you go with me.”

 

“Chicken!”

 

“Yep!”

 

“Okay okay, let’s go. -  Bofur, don’t let Bombur serve any desserts until we get back.”

 

The council chambers were just a few doors down the hall so it only took a minute to get there.  The royal guards were willing to let Kili inside but Amayla had to divest herself of all her hidden knives once again.  Kili chuckled as Amayla had some difficulty reaching all her knives.  Neither were perfectly steady on their feet. Finally, Amayla just threw her coat down in frustration.  “Hey, Fili never told me where the last knife was.” Kili stated looking blatantly at Amayla’s chest. 

 

“And I’m not telling you either.”

 

“Pleeeeeeese?” begged Kili giving his best puppy dog eyes.

 

“Nice try, but that face never worked on me before. It’s not going to work today!  Now go in there, but be quiet!”

 

“I’ll be steathly as a hobbit,” whispered Kili before proceeding to trip over his own feet as he tried to slide in through the door.

 

“Nice job Bilbo!” Amayla laughed at him.

 

Gandalf stopped talking and all eyes turned to Kili as he tried to straighten up.  Thorin sighed visibly rubbing his eyes with both hands.  “Sorry,” whispered Kili as he worked his way toward his brother. “Please carry on.”

 

Amayla slid into the seats next to Legolas and Strider, “Anything important happening.” 

 

“Not a bloody thing,” yawned Legolas. 

 

“Good, Kili and I are trying to break you guys out of here to join the party next door,” whispered Amayla slightly louder than she intended.

 

“Are you drunk?” asked Strider. 

 

“Maybe a little,” whispered Amayla.  Strider shook his head.

 

“Nice braid,” Legolas smirked “who did it for you?” Amayla stuck her tongue out at him in response.   

 

Kili knocked over his chair while trying to talk to Fili.  “Kili!” roared Thorin, “What in Mahal’s name are you doing!” 

 

“Sorry Uncle, don’t mind me, I just have to tell Fili something.”

 

“I DO MIND YOU! What do you want?”

 

“Well, um, Amayla and I were just trying to see if Fili, and Ori, and maybe Legolas and Strider could join us in the family dining room while you guys were eating dinner.  See, we’re kinda having a little celebration on account of Amayla being back and we wanted to them to join us.”

 

“And just who is we?”

 

“The company and Caileen and Gimli too. Bombur said he was bringing dinner here shortly, so Amayla thought maybe we could get them released to join us.”  Kili tried his puppy dog eyes at Thorin this time.

 

“Bain would be most welcome to join us too,” threw out Amayla from the back.  Bain perked up immediately, eyes begging his father. 

 

Dis was the one to speak up.  “Thorin, it’s not a bad idea.  We could all use a break.”

 

“Agreed,” added Gandalf, “and maybe the three kings could come to some decisions if you are on your own.”

 

Thorin looked to Thandruil and Bard. 

 

 “I have no issue with it.” stated Thandruil calmly.

 

“Fine with me,” followed Bard.

 

All eyes turned to Thorin.  “Agreed.  It is a good time for a break.  You may go!”

 

Fili jumped out of his chair and rushed towards Amalya.  Kili tripped over Fili’s chair this time as he attempted to follow.  Ori was busy straightening his papers and capping his ink bottles.  “I’ll just leave these here in case you need them and I’ll collect them later, your majesty.”  Thorin waved him off.

 

The group gathered at the doors before turning and bowing, some more elegantly than others, with various “your majesties” before they all departed.  As soon as the doors shut behind them, Fili grabbed Amayla into a bone crushing hug, with Ori joining in on the other side.  “Ugh, guys, let me go! I’m happy to see you too, but I just ate and have had more than a couple of ales, and I wouldn’t want to ruin this moment by throwing up on you both!” Both dwarves immediately dropped her.  Legolas picked up Amayla’s coat and knives, “Here, load up again, and let’s get going before they can change their minds.”

 

Once inside the dining room again, Amayla made her way to Caileen who was talking to Gimli.  “More introductions Caileen!  This is my brother Prince Legolas, Prince Bain, Prince Fili, Lord Ori, and Strider – and don’t be calling ANY of them by their titles!  Everybody, this is my friend Caileen, daughter of Ula.  She is very nice and doesn’t even hate me for chopping up her tapestry!”

 

Legolas rolled his eyes at his tipsy dwarven sister, and took Caileen’s hand in his and brought it to his lips, “My lady, so nice to meet you.  I am certain that I have you to thank for making my sister’s hair look so lovely this evening.”

 

“Legs!” Amayla smacked him on his arm as Caileen giggled. 

 

Not do be outdone by an elf, Fili stepped up and also took Caileen’s hand and kissed it, “My lady, it is my pleasure to make the acquaintance of such a lovely dwarrowdam.  Any friend of Amayla’s is a friend of mine.” This time it was Amayla who giggled as Caileen blushed. 

 

“Well, Dale will not be shown up by elves and dwarves,” stated Bain as he also took Caileen’s hand. “My lady, the courage you displayed today is second only to your beauty.”

 

Groans came from all around at the young man’s shameless attempt at flirting.  Amayla pushed Bain away laughing, “Enough of that! You all should go get something to eat before it’s all gone.  Bomber’s going to put out the desserts soon.”

 

The festivities continued full swing.  Kili came stumbling up to Amayla as she was chatting with Fili, Bain, and Caileen.  “Fee, will you please tell me where Amayla’s last knife is?  Its driving me crazy!”

 

“Don’t you dare, Fili!” warned Amayla.

 

“I know where it is,” stated Caileen cryptically.  She turned to whisper into Amayla’s ear, “I have no idea but let’s see how much we can tease Kili!”

 

Amayla nodded and whispered back “Go whisper it to Fili too.”

 

Caileen walked over to the blond prince and softly murmured into Fili’s ears, “I have no idea where it is, but this is fun torturing your brother.”

 

Caileen’s breath in Fili’s ear sent a shiver down the crown prince.  Oh yes! Amayla’s back, torturing Kili and standing so close to the pretty dam. This is the best day of my life! “Right you are Caileen!”  Both turned big smiles toward Kili.

 

“No fair” whined Kili. 

 

Bain laughed, wiggling his eyebrows, “Relax Kili, I don’t know either, but based on where they were looking, it’s fun to imagine!”

 

“Bain! If I could reach your head, I’d be smacking it right now!  You should not be talking about such things,” reprimanded Amayla

“You’re sounding like an old crow Amayla.  In case you haven’t notice, I am quite old enough to more than imagine such things.” 

 

“Old crow?! Now you’ve done it boy! You and me in the sparring rings tomorrow morning. I’ve already promised to spar Farrak and Gimli, but I’ll fit you in too, and show you what an old crow I am!” Amayla glared up at Bain.

 

“My pleasure!” he smiled back and kissed her on top of her head.  Amayla glared more before breaking into a huge smile and reaching up to hug him around his waist.  The group ambled toward the tables laden with food and more importantly ale and all helped themselves.

 

“Amad!” cried Kili.  All turned to see Dis walking in with Balin.  Both Dwarf princes quickly went to their mother and kissed her cheeks.  “Uncle let you out too?” asked Kili bluntly. 

 

Ever the diplomat, Balin interjected, “The King dismissed us after dinner to hold discussions with his fellow kings and Gandalf in private.” 

 

“Go get us some cake, my son,” she sent off Kili.

 

As Dis turned to her, Amayla bowed formally, “Princess Dis, it is a pleasure to see you again.” 

 

Dis lowered her head in return, “Amayla, heir to Ardru, it is a joy to see you again.  I am pleased that you have finally returned to Erebor where you belong.”

 

Amayla looked to Legolas and Strider, “My lady, may I introduce you to Prince Legolas, son of Thranduil, and Strider, he’s a Ranger of the North and is also called Estel by the elves, as he is Lord Elrond’s foster son.  They have been my dear companions these past five years.” Turning to Legolas and Strider, “My brothers, this is Princess Dis, daughter of Thrain, granddaughter of Thror.”  Both made elegant bows to Dis.  Amayla then pulled Caileen forward, “Princess Dis, this is Caileen, daughter of Ula.”  “Your Highness,” Caileen bowed prettily.  Balin stepped forward to bow to Caileen, “Lord Balin, at your service.” Caileen curtsied back to him.  During that exchange, Amayla managed to catch Dis’ eye.  She quickly looked at Caileen then Fili and back to Dis.  Amayla gave Dis the slightest bob of her head which Dis returned.  No words were spoken, but the two were in perfect agreement.  

 

Amayla turned her attention to Balin.  He smiled the sweet smile that Amalya remembered so fondly, and held out his arms to her, “Lassie” was all he needed to say. Amayla launched herself into his arms for the most loving of embraces.  Balin held her face in his hands, foreheads touching lightly, tears flowing until Kili showed up holding six different plates, “Who wants cake?”   He passed around the dessert and they all started talking again. 

 

Suddenly the party quieted.  All eyes turned as the three kings, Gandalf, and Dwalin walked in.  Amayla saw Thranduil whisper something into the air but there was no way that he could be heard over the din; at least not by Dwarven ears.  Legolas stepped up to Amayla and whisper into her ear, “Adar would like you to join him shortly in his quarters.” 

 

“You heard that?” Amayla gaped at Legolas in astonishment.  Legolas just smiled and rubbed his ears. 

 

Thorin called the room to attention.  “Where’s Amayla.  Stand up please!”  Fili and Kili pushed Amayla up onto a table.  Amayla waved.  Raising a mug of ale, Thorin shouted, “A toast! We welcome back to Erebor, Amayla, the hero of the Battle of Five Armies, the slayer of Azog, and long lost member of the company!”  The room echoed with Amayla’s name.  Thorin raised his mug again, “And one more thing, I have remedied an oversight that Amayla reminded me of earlier today, I am pleased to announce that Amayla is now, formally, Lady Amayla, noble of Erebor.” 

 

The cheers were drowned out by a nearly hysterical “What?!?!” coming out of Amayla.  “You can’t just do that?!” 

 

“Yes I can, I’m the King!” replied Thorin laughing broadly until a slice of cake smacked him on the side of his face.  The room silenced immediately.  No one moved until Thorin reached up to his face, swiped a finger into the cake, and proceeded to lick it clean.  “Bomber, this cake is excellent!  Amayla, good to see you haven’t lost your aim!”

 

At that, the room burst into laughter and the kings departed.  Amayla was relieved to see Dwalin go with them. 

 

Kili helped Amayla step down off the table.  Grinning, Dis said “I believe he deserved that, but please don’t repeat that tomorrow at the State dinner, which reminds me, I need to talk to you about the dancing.”

 

“I realize that I have been drinking a fair amount of ale this evening, and this afternoon, but I really have no idea of what you are talking about, my lady,” slurred Amayla, eyes scrunched in confusion.

 

“Has no one told you about the dinner tomorrow?  We’re having a State Dinner in the main dining hall and since you are Thranduil’s daughter of sorts, you will be seated at the head table of course.  This works out very well for the dancing.  I wasn’t happy with our previous plans, given that there were only two females for three kings, but now, with you, it’s perfect!  The first dance will be with me with Thorin, Tilda with Bard, and you and Thranduil.  And with Prince Legolas here, we can follow that with a dance switching up the females with the Crown Princes.  Would you prefer Bain or Fili?  Nevermind, you’ll get Bain, I’ll dance with Legolas.”

 

Amayla swayed slightly, mouth agape.  “What? … dinner? … dancing?”

 

The Princess patted Amayla lightly on the arm and then turned to Legolas. “I’m certain that your father can lend you something appropriate to wear.  And Amayla, we’ll have to find a dress for you, I presume.”

 

Caileen spoke up, “I’m sure my mother would have something appropriate, or she could alter something.”

 

“Thank you Caileen, that is most helpful.” Dis nodded approvingly, eyeing the dam a little closer.

 

“Yeah, thanks a lot!” murmured Amayla sarcastically.  “Wait, I can’t dance, I have no idea of the steps. I will look completely ridiculous!”

 

“No worries, my dear.  Tomorrow after your fitting with Caileen, come to my quarters, and I’ll go over everything with you.  Fili, you will join us.  And Legolas, if you are available.”

 

Amayla frowned as she saw Kili elbowing his brother and try to stifle a laugh.  Even Strider was also having a problem hiding his smile as he looked at Amalya’s and Legolas’ discomfort.

  

Dis continued, “So that takes care of everything.  I have much to do tomorrow.  I think I will be leaving. I suggest that most of you think about retiring also.  Balin, if you will escort me please.”

 

Amayla was starting to say her good-byes to the company when she noticed Dwalin heading her way.  When did he come back? “I can’t do this,” she said to no one in particular, bringing her hand up to cover her mouth as her stomach flip-flopped. 

 

Caileen saw her friend’s face go pale, “Do what Amayla? Are you alright?”

 

Amayla grabbed Strider, desperately pulling him down to whisper in his ear,” Run interference for me please!” eyes pointing to Dwalin, “I’ve got to get out of here!” 

 

Turning to Fili, she grabbed him, “Please walk Caileen home.”  “Caileen, I’ll see you in the morning, after I finish sparring.” 

 

“Wait Amayla, what’s going on?” asked the concerned dam.

 

“I just can’t do it right now.  My father wants to see me.  I’m leaving.  I just can’t!” Amayla grabbed Legolas this time, “Get me out of here!”  And the two weaved their way out of the room. 

 

Fili and Caileen looked at each other in confusion.  “What was that all about?” asked the dam. 

 

“Mahal, I do not know,” swore Fili softly shaking his head. 

 

Dwalin finally made it past Strider, “Where’s Amayla?” he growled looking around. 

 

“She just left,” replied Caileen, still frowning. 

 

“DAMMIT!” he pounded his fist onto the table, upsetting quite a few mugs.  Caileen’s eye grew wide as she watched the towering warrior clench and unclench his hands before storming off. 

 

“I would like to leave now,” whispered Caileen still slightly spooked by Dwalin’s outburst.

 

“Probably a good idea,” replied Fili as he took her elbow and guided her out.

 

As the two walked through the quiet hallways of Erebor, Caileen broke the silence, “So what was that with Amayla and Dwalin?”

 

“I’m not sure.” Fili shrugged, face grim.  “Something happened between the two of them on the quest, but none of us know what.  Early on, we were taking bets on WHEN – not IF – they would start courting.  It was so obvious to everyone that they were perfect for each other.  But then, all of a sudden, they stopped speaking.  Never understood why.  All I know is that Amayla wouldn’t talk about it.” 

 

“Mahal’s Folly,” whispered Caileen. 

 

“What? What are you talking about?” 

 

“Mahal’s Folly! You know, when a Dwarf falls in love with their one, but their one doesn’t love them back.”

 

“I KNOW what Mahal’s Folly is, but what does that have to do with Dwalin and Amayla.  Wait … are you saying, one of them turned the other down?”

 

“When I asked Amayla if she had any romance during the quest, she replied Mahal’s Folly. Wouldn’t say more. But from the way she acted, I don’t think she was the one turning somebody down.”

 

“No way did Dwalin turn her down.  He was mad about her.  We could all see it. He nearly went crazy when he thought she was dead.  Thorin made somebody stay with him at all times because he was so afraid that Dwalin might . .  . do something drastic.  And then when we found out she was alive, it was like he was reborn.  He built living quarters for them.  Met every caravan coming out of Ered Luin looking for her, but she was never with one.  He never moved into the quarters.”

 

“Ohh, that is so romantic!   But she definitely was upset.  Something went on.” Caileen turned her eyes to Fili, “We have to figure out what it was and fix it!”

 

Fili wanted only to continue to stare into her light brown eyes that glowed like amber, until he realized that she was waiting for him to reply.  “Mother,” he smiled, “Come on!”

 

Fili spun Caileen around and the two nearly sprinted to Dis’ quarters, giggling along the way.

 

Fili merely nodded at the guard standing outside his mother’s quarters before he started banging on her door.  “Amad, Amad!  Open up!”

 

The guard questioned him, “My Prince, is there a problem?” 

 

“No, no. No emergency.  Just need to speak to my Amad.”

 

“About what at this hour?” questioned Dis as she opened the door. 

 

Fili pulled Caileen into the room behind him, rushing past Dis as she shut the door.  Dis was unsure of her feelings seeing her eldest standing next to a very attractive dam, both of them looking very flushed.

 

“Amad, Caileen and I have something very important to discuss.”

 

A spark of hope rose in Dis, could Fili have finally found his one?  Granted Cailieen wasn’t a noble, but she was respectable, and most importantly a dwarf, unlike Kili’s choice.  “Yes?” Dis’ voice rose more hopefully than she intended.

 

“It’s about Amayla and Dwalin,” Fili started.  Dis’ face fell. 

 

“What’s the matter Amad?”

 

“Nothing, nothing.  Go on.  What about Amayla and Dwalin?”  Although disappointed, Dis was curious. 

 

“Amayla told Caileen that during the quest she experienced Mahal’s Folly.  That could only be about Dwalin, right?” Fili looked at Dis hopefully. 

 

“Mahal’s Folly?” repeated Dis, “That doesn’t make sense.  We all know that she’s Dwalin’s One.  He wouldn’t have turned her down.”

 

“That’s what I said!” said Fili flopping onto a sofa.  Caileen stood, not knowing what to do or say.

 

“Caileen dear, please sit, and tell me exactly what Amayla said,” instructed Dis pointing to the space next to Fili. 

 

“I asked her if anything romantic happened on the quest.  She paused for several seconds, and said ‘No, no romance.  Mahal’s Folly. I guess he just wants me to be a warrior,’ and then she changed the subject.” 

 

Dis paced, “How did she look and sound when she said it?” 

 

“She was definitely more quiet than she had ever been since I met her, but that was only a few hours earlier, so I might not be the best judge.” 

 

Fili then spoke up, “And then at the party, when Dwalin started coming over to talk to her, she made Strider stall him and then grabbed Legolas and practically ran out of the room.”

 

Caileen added, “Yes, she was definitely scared then.  She kept saying, ‘I just can’t do it’ and ran, just like Fili said. I thought she might throw up.”  Dis took note of the familiar way Caileen said Fili’s name but said nothing. 

 

“Throw up?” said Fili obviously thinking hard.  “I remember a night during the journey, right before we hit the mountains with the stone giants, when Amayla threw up, a lot. Dwalin went to check on her but came back saying that Amayla drew a knife on him.  She only let Bilbo help and never really explained what was wrong.  And it was shortly after that that she stopped talking to Dwalin.”

 

Dis nodded and paced for a minute, stroking her beard.  “Knowing both Amayla and Dwalin, my guess is that he did something very stupid and doesn’t even know it.  We just need to find out what it was.  Caileen you are fitting her for a dress to wear to the dinner tomorrow, correct?”  Caileen nodded. “I’ll join you during the fitting and we’ll have a little discussion.  See if we can get something out of her.  If she doesn’t open up then, we’ll have to continue during the dinner.  You will be joining us, won’t you?”  Dis was fully aware that Caileen was not invited to the dinner but was not going to pass up an opportunity to put her son and the pretty dam together. 

 

“Ah, no my lady.  I’m not invited.” Caileen said. 

 

“You are now, you and your parents of course.  That will be the perfect excuse for me to join you.   Will you have enough time for all of you to be ready?” 

 

“Of course, my lady, yes, thank you,” stuttered Caileen.  A state dinner tomorrow, would this craziness never end? 

 

Dis continued plotting, “Fili, make certain that Dwalin is down in the sparring room tomorrow while Amayla spars.  Proximity may give us some clues.  Caileen, I will meet you there also and we’ll convince Amayla that I need to go with you to invite your parents.”

 

“Yes m’lady.” 

 

“Yes Amad.” 

 

“Now Fili, go walk Caileen home.  We all need a good night’s sleep for all of tomorrow’s activities.”  And she gave Fili a quick kiss on the cheek as the two young dwarves left.  Dis smiled to herself as she closed the door, “Hmmmm, maybe we’ll be having TWO weddings soon!”

 

 

 

Meanwhile … Legolas pulled Amayla to a stop after running through several corridors.  “Amayla, do you know where we’re going?”  At that Amayla did stop. 

 

“No, I guess not.” She paused to catch her breath.  “Perhaps we should ask for directions.”  After finally finding a dwarf who knew where the royal guest quarters were, Legolas and his sister walked back in silence. 

 

“Are you going to tell me what that was about?” the elf finally asked.  Amayla just nodded no.

 

“It seems to me that you talked to everyone else in the company.  Why not him?”

 

“I talked to him when he searched me,” Amalya countered.

 

“That was a performance, it wasn’t talking.”

 

“I have nothing to say to him.”

 

“It looked like he had something to say to you.”

 

“I doubt that.  You don’t know him.”

 

“I know how he searched for you on the fields after the battle.  How he refused to give you up for dead.”

 

“He would have done the same for any of the company.  I meant nothing special to him.”

 

“I doubt that.”

 

“I am quite certain of it.”

 

Legolas could only frown at her as they reached Thranduil’s quarters.

 

“Are you ready for HIM?” Amayla asked as Legolas hesitated before two elven guards.  This time it was Legolas who shook his head no.

 

The two walked in to see Thranduil lounging cross-legged in a large, Elf sized upholstered chair, bottle of wine on the table next to him. It might just be a chair, but Thranduil could make almost any piece of furniture look like a throne.  He held his arms open to Amayla.  “Adar!” she greeted him in formal elven greeting, fist to heart.  Legolas did the same.  When Thranduil returned the greeting, Amayla ran jumping into his arms for an embrace.  At that, Legolas could only raise an eyebrow.

 

“It is good to see you my daughter.  I must say you made me quite proud today.” Amayla stood next to his chair, so their eyes were almost at the same level.

 

“Only today?”

 

“Especially today,” and he granted her a rare smile.

 

“I am pleased to bring you such amusement Adar.” She returned his smile. “I just hope you can remember these feelings when I dance with you tomorrow at the State Dinner.  With all those eyes on me, who knows what will happen!”

 

“There will be dancing tomorrow?” Thranduil frowned.

 

“Aye, Lady Dis just informed me not an hour ago.  First dance will be you and I, Kings and their ladies.  The second dance will be the crown princes and the ladies mixed up.  I believe I will be with Bain and Legolas will dance with Dis.  Hope you have something that he can borrow to wear.  I don’t believe any of us brought proper court clothes with us.  Caileen will be fixing up a dress for me.”

 

At that, they both turned to look at Legolas.  “I’m certain that I have something that my son can use.  It is good to see you Legolas.”

 

“As it is you, Adar.”

 

Thranduil glanced between the two, “So you two have managed to ride together these past years.”

 

“Aye father,” smiled Amayla, “Once he accepted me and got used to me, I do believe that Legolas, dare I say it … has grown fond of me!”

 

Legolas snorted, “Adar I can only imagine that you had imbibed one too many bottle of Dorwinion wine when you decided to have Amayla join our family, but, yes, I have grown fond of her.”

 

“Oh Legs, you are going to make me blush!” Amayla smirked at her big ‘brother’ and blew him a kiss.

 

“See what you have forced me to put up with Adar? It would not be so bad if she could only learn to braid her hair,” Legolas smirked which drew an immediate tongue stuck out by his ‘sister.’

 

“Father, I am exhausted and possibly slightly inebriated. Unlike you two, I do need to get some sleep.  I would very much like to find my bed as I have three sparring session set up first thing tomorrow.  After that I am to get fit into a dress.  And after that, I am to go with Lady Dis to learn the dance steps.  And then I have GOT to go see my friend Sarna and the twins.  All before getting ready for the dinner. With your permission, Adar?”

 

Thranduil nodded his assent and pointed through a door, allowing Amayla to fend for herself.  As she turned into her room, she smiled joyously when, out of the corner of her eyes, she caught sight of father and son embracing.

 

Chapter Text

Farrak was waiting for her when Amayla made it to the sparring rings the next morning. 

 

“I’m afraid it won’t be a full session, Farrak.  I have two more scheduled after you and then a dress fitting and anyway, I just want to see if you have fixed your little problem.” Amayla explained.

 

“It is my honor to spar against you again at all, my captain.”

 

“Technically, I’m not your captain anymore Farrak.  You don’t have to call me that.”

 

“I don’t think I could call you anthing else, unless you would prefer . . ?” Farrak brushed three fingers against his shoulder before swiping his thumb, grinning ear to ear.

 

“No!” she screamed, laughing.  “Captain is fine! And you’ll pay for that!”

 

The two took their positions in an empty ring and began swinging.  Amayla let Farrak assume the offensive.  After about ten minutes of solid fighting, Amayla called a halt.  Neither had struck a killing blow on the other but Amayla smiled with satisfaction.

 

“Excellent Farrak!  You have improved tremendously.  I couldn’t get passed your left side as I so easily could do in the past.  Well done!”

 

“Thank you, Captain,” he replied bowing, “You honor me.  It was your friend, Captain Tauriel who really helped me.”

 

 “That is good to hear.  I’m sorry to have to cut this short, but Prince Bain is here and then I go against Gimli.”

 

“Gimli, son of Gloin? He is very good with his axes.  I would very much like to see that!”

 

“Do you think he can take me?” she asked curiously.

 

“No, my captain.  You have my full confidence, but it should be a very good match.”

 

Bain came up dressed in leather training clothes.  “You didn’t last long in your last match Amayla.  Hope you’re not tired already!”

 

“Oh, I think this old crow might have something left for you,” she winked back at him. 

 

Once again, Amayla let her opponent take the offensive.  Bain’s reach was longer than hers but as she had spent the last five years sparring against men and elves, it was nothing she couldn’t handle.  Shortly into the match, Amayla scored a hit on Bain’s left side.  The match continued with Bain getting more frustrated as he could never break through Amayla’s defense.  Again, Amayla hit his left side.  After the third hit in the same place, Amayla stopped and called Farrak over to watch.  When Amayla quickly struck Bain on his left again, she and Farrak burst out laughing.

 

Bain was taken aback and complained, “I did not think you the type to laugh at an opponent Amayla!”

 

“Oh, I do apologize Bain.  We’re not laughing at you, believe me.  We’re laughing at him!” she replied pointing at Farrak.

 

“It’s true m’lord.  I cannot tell you how many times she hit me in that same place with that exact move.”

 

“Hundreds, if not thousands of times!”  She chuckled.  “The good news for you Bain is that Farrak has fixed his problem.  And if he can do it, then you can too.  I suggest that the two of you practice together a couple of times a week, and I think you’ll be fine.”

 

The man and dwarf looked at each other with concern. 

 

“What’s the matter?” Amayla asked.  “Do either of you have a problem with that?”

 

“No, it’s just that, my captain, we never spar with men.”

 

“Never?”

 

Both males shook their head no.

 

“Do Dale and Erebor not train together, patrol together, or at least have joint excercises?”  she questioned incredulously. 

 

“No.  The Kings plan and make agreements on patrols, but we never do any together,” answered Bain.

 

“Hmmmm,” Amayla frowned, shaking her head.  “That sounds ridiculous to me.  I’ll work something out with your father, Bain.  Farrak, whom do I need to talk to?” she asked dreading the answer.

 

“General Dwalin.”

 

“Figures,” Amanda muttered as she visibly winced. 

 

“Aaaaammmmaayyyllaaaa!”

 

The dam turned to see a smiling Kili bounding up to greet her. 

 

“Where’s Gimli?  We didn’t miss the match did we?” he asked looking around.

 

“Nope.  I just finished with Farrak and Bain.  Gimli should be here any time now.”

 

Kili looked up at Bain, “How long did you last?”

“Not very,” he answered sheepishly.

 

“Hah!  First time I went against her, Thorin had to stop the match.  Nobody won.”

 

Bain looked even more downcast. 

 

“Kili!  Stop it!” Amayla admonished before turning to Bain.  “Don’t mind him Bain.  What he’s not telling you is that he was teamed with his brother at the time and Thorin stopped the fight because they both were getting beaten so badly.”

 

“Truthfully?”  Bain perked up a litte with that news.

 

Kili shrugged, smiling broadly, “Yeah well, technicaly we didn’t lose!  Don’t worry about it Bain.  I’ve only see Amayla lose to one person, that elf, Gold Finger or something.”

 

“Glorfindel!  Really Kili!”

 

“You sparred against Glorfindel?” Bain asked, mouth falling open.

 

“Aye, several times now and I haven’t gotten a kill shot on him yet.  But I’m making him work harder to beat me.  I can at least say that!  And I’ve never beat Thranduil either, the few times we’ve sparred.  I’ve lost to Legolas, Strider, and Tauriel on occasion, but I’ll beat them too.  There’s no shame in losing.  It’s the only way you’ll ever get better.” 

 

“Thank you Amayla.  I promise never to call you an old crow again!”  Bain took her hand, raised it to his lips, and winked at her.  “I look forward to our dance tonight.”

 

“You’re staying and watching her spar with Gimli aren’t you?” Kili asked. 

 

“Wouldn’t miss it.  Just going to clean up a bit.”

 

As Bain left, Kili whispered to Amayla, “Have you sparred against her recently?”

 

The forlorn look on his face almost broke her heart.  “Not for a year.” 

 

“Its been 8 years, 3 months, and 17 days for me,” he murmured, eyes staring into the distance.

 

“I know she’s counting too,” Amayla said while giving his hand a gentle squeeze.

 

They both turned as a loud group of dwarves approached, led by Gimli, carrying two axes over his shoulders.  In the group were Gloin, Nori, Fili, and Dwalin.  Amayla smiled as the young dwarf sauntered up to her.  “Are you ready for me, Amayla?”

 

“I think perhaps I am Gimli.  In fact, I’m already warmed up.  Would you like to?  I’m sure Farrak would be happy to warm you up.”  She smiled sweetly at him when he agreed.

 

Amayla carefully studied the young dwarf as he took some swings, loosening up his muscles.

 

“Dwarfling mistake, letting you watch him warm up,” came a familiar voice behind Amayla.

 

She didn’t need to turn around to know who it was.  “He fights like his father with a little bit of you in there too.”

 

“Aye.  He’ll give you a good run.”

 

“I need to talk to you-“  Amaya started.

 

“I’d like to talk to you too Amayla.  I tried last night but you had left.” Dwalin interrupted.

 

“ - about Farrak practicing with Prince Bain.” Amayla finished firmly.  “Bain has a weakness that Farrak could easily help him with.”

 

Dwalin grunted, “Of course lassie, but I really need to talk to you –“

 

This time Amayla interrupted him, “Looks like Gimli is ready.  I’ve got to go.”

 

She paused as she passed Nori, “How’s the betting going?”

 

“Everyone from Gorvuud is betting on you, as is most of the company.”

 

“MOST?!?!”

 

“Well everybody but Gloin and he wouldn’t lay a bet at all.  I think that’s his way of supporting his son without losing any money,” he snorted.  “I’m going to make a killing of those who don’t know you.  Most from the Iron Hills don’t think you stand a chance!”

 

“I’ll do my best!”

 

It was a well fought match.  Amayla had not fought against axes in many years but hadn’t forgotten how.  Gimli was strong like his father but still didn’t have the strength of Dwalin.  His direct hits were hard and Amayla could feel them reverberate down her spine, but usually she was able to divert most of the strikes, sparing herself from the worst of his power.  Amayla was quicker than Gimli and used her speed to her advantage causing the younger dwarf to constantly turn to try and keep her in front of him. 

 

As the the match continued, many dwarves joined in to watch.  Amayla could hear different dwarves cheering for her and many, especially Gloin, cheering for Gimli.  When she heard Calileen’s voice in the mix, she realized that she needed to put an end to the match quickly so she could continue with the rest of her day.  Using a move that Legolas had taught her over the years, Amayla managed to cause Gimli to lurch forward, allowing her to spin over him, and ending with her small dagger at his throat. 

 

“Do you yield?” she whispered in his ear. 

 

“Aye, I do.”

 

The crowd, which had collectively gasped at Amayla’s move, erupted in cheering or groans, depending on the betting. 

 

Amayla offered a hand to Gimli, followed by a bump to the forehead.

 

“Very well fought Gimli!  That was most enjoyable.  You do your father proud!”

 

“What in Mahal’s name was that move?” he asked, panting for breath. 

 

“Oh, just something I picked up from Legolas.  Spend enough time with an elf and you learn a thing or two.  You should try it!”

 

“Hrmph.  As if I’m going to spend anytime with an elf!”

 

They both grabbed towels and began wiping themselves down as Gloin, Fili, Kili, Dis, and Caileen joined them.  Amayla smiled to herself as she noticed Fili guiding Caileen by her elbow.  Her smile faded as she saw Dwalin come behind them. 

 

There were extensive congratulations for both warriors on the excellent match. 

 

“Gloin, your WEE son is quite the warrior.  And I agree with you. He is SLIGHTLY better than you!”   Gloin puffed his chest out at Amayla’s praise for his offspring.

 

“Thank you Amayla.  It was my pleasure to lose to you.”  Gimli bowed stiffly, glancing up at his brooding general before walking away with his father.

 

Nori joined them and started handing out some coins to Fili and Kili.  “Wanted to wait until Gimli left.  Didn’t need to rub it in his face that you both bet against him.”

 

The brothers gleefully stuffed the coins into their pockets. 

 

“Both of you bet on me?  Very good.  I’ll let you off of sparring today for that.”

 

“Yes!” Kili slapped his brother on his back.

 

“Kee, we were never sparring with Amayla in the first place!” Fili shook his blond locks causing Caileen to giggle.

 

“But Kili, you have earned the honor of taking my weapons back to my quarters so I can go have a dress fitting,” Amayla laughed as she handed over her weapons. 

 

Kili nudged Fili chuckling, “Hope it’s a little too tight in all the RIGHT PLACES like the one she wore in Rivendell!” 

 

“Owww!” Kili complained as Amayla smacked him upside the head.  Dis looked at Amayla questioningly but Fili saved her, “Believe me, Amad, he deserved that.”

 

“I remember that dress,” Dwalin looked almost hopeful, smiling at Amayla.

 

“And I remember what you said to me when you saw me in it,” Amayla turned to respond to Dwalin, face blank, “And to answer your questin; no, I never was cold in it!”

 

Dwalin pressed on, “Right pretty it was.  Green like your eyes.”

 

Amayla kept her face blank and pursed her lips as she slightly shook her head at Dwalin before turning to leave.

 

Fili and Kili both groaned, bringing their hands to their foreheads in disappointment. 

 

“What?” whispered Dis, looking at her sons and Dwalin.

 

Fili shook his head.  “The dress was purple.” 

 

Kili added, “And her eyes are grey.”

 

This time Dwalin got the smack to his head by Dis.

.

.

 

Amayla grabbed Caileen and headed out.  She heard footsteps quickly catching up behind and turned to see the Princess of Erebor catching up.  “Well that was an interesting morning, now let’s see to your dress, shall we?  I look forward to meeting your mother Caileen, and inviting your parents to the dinner tonight.”

 

Caileen led the dams to her family’s quarters.  She introduced Ula, her mother, to both Amayla and Princess Dis.  Dis thanked Ula for helping outfit Amayla and made certain that the dam felt welcome to come to the state dinner. 

 

Ula had already laid out several dresses for consideration.

 

“Do you have a preference Lady Amayla?” she asked. 

 

“Absolutely not,” Amayla shook her head.  “I will leave this to the group’s most capable choice.”

 

Ula had Amayla stand in the middle of the room and held up each dress on Amayla for Caileen and Dis to review.  

 

“The pink one, definitely the pink one,” declared Dis.

 

“Pink? Really?? I’m not really a pink kind of person,” groaned Amayla. 

 

“Well its really more of a rose, and it is perfect with your coloring,” Caileen added her opinion.  

 

“Yes, the rose is most flattering.  And there is little altering to be done to it,” added Ula. 

 

Amayla siged heavily, “Fine, the rose one it is.”

 

Ula took Amayla to a bedroom and helped her into the dress.  When Ula shut the door, Amayla turned to talk to the seamstress, “May I ask you to please make a special alteration to the dress.”

 

“What would you like?”

 

“Please don’t tell anyone because I believe that the Princess would not approve, but could you add a small pocket in the folds of the dress where I could keep a small dagger?” asked Amayla softly.

 

“You would go armed to a state dinner?”

 

“I never go anywhere unarmed.”

 

“Caileen mentioned something about that last night.”

 

Amayla smiled, “So would you please?”

 

“How big?” Ula gave in.  

 

Amayla smiled at Caileen’s mother and showed her the size. 

 

“It will not be a problem.  Now let’s get you in the dress. Did you bring slippers with you?”

 

“Slippers?”

 

“Dress slippers to go with the dress.  You’re not planning on wearing boots are you?” Ula chuckled.

 

“Ummm” was all Amayla could come up with to say. 

 

“Caileen!” Ula shouted.  “Come find some shoes that Amayla can borrow.”

 

Caileen came into the room laughing.  “Anything else you need?”

 

“Sorry and thank you.  You can borrow one of my knives anytime!”

 

When Amayla came out to show all the dress, the dams all nodded in agreement. “Now just stand still while we pin you.” Ula instructed.

 

Dis seized the moment to press Amayla.  “Dwalin is very happy to see you again.”

 

“Uh-huh,” was all Amayla would respond.

 

“If you could have seen his face when I told the company that you were alive.  He wept.  I’ve never seen him cry except when he buried his father,” Dis continued. 

 

“I’m sure he would have felt the same about any of the company.”

 

“I don’t think that’s true.  My sons told me that you two were very close during the journey.  They expected you to start courting.  Were they mistaken?”

 

Amayla paused and sighed again, “Yes, but so was I.  I admit that there was a time when I thought he cared.  I imagined a future together, here in Erebor.  I thought he felt the same way.  But I was wrong and so are they.  He made his feelings perfectly clear to me, and it doesn’t include a future together.  What does it matter though, I was told he was courting someone.  In fact, I assumed he was married by now.”

 

Dis frowned, “No.  Dwalin isn’t married or courting anyone.”

 

“I guess I was misunderstood or was misinformed then.” Amayla answered softly, brows drawn in confusion. 

 

“Well then maybe you misunderstood his feelings for you too?” suggested Caileen.

 

“No.  There was no misunderstanding them.  I know I’m not the most feminine of dwarrowdams.  I don’t own a dress.  I can’t do my hair worth shite, but I have helped many a dwarf through the courting process.  I know all the customs and I know their meanings.  And I know that when a dwarrow gives away a dam’s courting gift, that they do not have a future together.”

 

All the dams in the room froze.  Ula dropped her pin cushion.  They exchanged horrified looked between them. 

 

“He gave away your courting gift?” Dis choked out.

 

“I’ve never heard of anyone actually doing that.  I thought it was a myth, something you heard about but never really knew anyone that it happened to,” whispered Caileen.

 

“Well, now you do,” said Amayla blankly.

 

“Why would he do such a thing? Why would he have accepted it in the first place?” asked Ula picking up her pins.

 

“I don’t know.  We didn’t get off on the right foot when we first met.  I may have sort of threatened his position with Thorin.  And he wasn’t happy when I made friends with a bunch of elves.  But I thought we had gotten past that.  I dreamed of a future together, but apparently, he didn’t feel that way, which he made perfectly clear.”

 

“You didn’t ask for retribution?  You could have, you know,” stated Dis frowning.

 

“I know, but it was so embarrassing and I didn’t want to cause any issues in the company.  We still had a long way to go. Thorin wasn’t pleased to take a dam on the journey in the first place and I promised that me being a dam wouldn’t be a problem.  I figured that I had completely misread the situation.  So I just wanted it to go away.  And then the goblins happened, and Mirkwood, and … anyway, I’ve accepted it.  I just wish everyone else would too.  It is Mahal’s will.  He wanted me to be a warrior, and I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished the last ten years, both in Gorvuud and as a ranger.  I’ve saved the lives of numbers of dwarves, elves, and men.  Many would be dead if Dwalin had accepted me. I have no regrets.” 

 

The room was dead silent as Dis exchanged a look with Caileen.

 

Ula started back on pinning, “All set.  I can get this done in a jiffy.”

 

“Thank you so much Ula,” Amayla smiled at the dam.

 

“Ula, do you think you can get by without Caileen for an hour or two? I could use her help,” asked Dis although all knew it was really a command.

 

“Of course, your majesty.  These alterations won’t take long and if I run into a problem, I can get my mother to help.”

 

“Very good.  Caileen, if you would please join Amayla and me for the dance lessons.  I’m certain she will learn better with you to help, rather than just me and Fili,” Dis shot a look at Caileen that she didn’t dare question. 

.

 

Dis led Amayla and Caileen to her quarters, asking one of her ever-present guards to “fetch” Prince Legolas.  Fili was already inside waiting as was a younger dwarf, brown hair with a beard braided straight down from his chin, fashioned with a silver bead studded with emeralds.  Dis introduced him as Falda, explaining that he was the best fiddler in the mountain, causing the young dwarf to blush and bow.  “Thank you, my lion, for arranging the room,” Dis kissed her eldest on the cheek.  Fili had obviously been busy while waiting as most of the chairs and tables in the large living room had been pushed back against the walls to leave an open expanse in the middle perfect for dancing. 

 

“I helped Amad!” Kili shouted surprising the ladies.  He sauntered out of Dis’ private kitchen stuffing a muffin into his mouth. 

 

“Kili, my babe!” Dis kissed him.  “Perfect that you are here.  I asked Caileen to join us and now we need another dwarrow until Prince Legolas arrives.”

 

“Wait, no! I just came to see Fee practice.  I have places to go … Dwarves to see…” Kili whined.

 

“Hah” threw out Fili, “Serves you right Kee.  If you weren’t so happy to see me HAVE to – I mean – GET to practice dancing with Amayla, you wouldn’t be STUCK – oops, I mean – LUCKY enough to join in!”  Dis send disapproving glares at both of her sons. 

 

“Let’s begin.  I already checked with Thandruil this morning and he is familiar with the paranzada, so that will be the first dance.”  Dis ordered.  “Caileen do you know that one?” 

 

“Yes m’lady.”

 

“Amayla?” 

 

“No,” Amayla sighed, shoulders drooping. 

 

“Fine, Fili you take Caileen and demonstrate.  Kili, you’ll be Thranduil.”

 

“Me? Why do I have to be Thrandruil?”

 

“Because you’re taller,” was Dis’ swift response.

 

Kili mumbled something under his breath while Fili stifled a laugh. 

 

Fili took Caileen by the hand and led her to the far side of the room.  Falda picked up his instrument and started the lilting measures.  Fili and Caileen started with a bow and a curtsy, then stepped forward with a hop and a skip, several steps, and a twirl.  Those steps were repeated across the floor several times.  At the far side, the two did some intricate arm movements spins, ending with another bow and curtsy.  The two then repeated the movement back across to the other side. 

 

Amayla clapped enthusiastically at the two blonds as they finished.  They certainly make a cute couple!

 

“Nicely done.  Now Amayla and Kili,” Dis instructed. 

 

Kili took Amayla by the hand as Fili taunted his brother, “Try and top that Kee!”

 

The music started and Amayla did a fine job with the curtsy and the first few steps across the floor.  The two got slightly tangled at the twirl but managed through it.  However, disaster struck at the far end of the floor with the arm movements.  “Owww, my arm, you’re going to break it!” screeched Kili.  “Well, get off my foot!” Amayla responded.  Fili and Caileen started laughing until Dis gave them the evil eye.

 

Dis stopped them, “Amayla, your right arm goes up, the left goes behind, and you spin to your right, not the left.  Then reverse it.  Simple. Now try again.”

 

“Simple my ass,” muttered Amayla, until she also received Dis’ evil eye.

 

The two tried again and got through the movements the first time, but ended up falling over when they tried to reverse it.  “Again,” repeated Dis.  Several times.

 

“You know, for a warrior, you’re really bad at dancing,” snarked Kili to Amayla after about the sixth try.

 

“I am a decent dancer, just not this STUPID dance.  I’ll take you down in the Four Sword Dance!” Amayla nearly spit at Kili.

 

Amazed, Kili responded, “Really?  You can do the Four Swords Dance?  The whole thing?”

 

“Of course, Captain of a garrison here.  You don’t make captain if you can’t do the dance!” 

 

“Then why can’t you do this one?”

 

Amayla purposely stomped on Kili’s foot for that one.

 

“Again please,” commanded Dis.

 

By the eighth time, they got it right.  Dis made them dance it one more time next to Fili and Caileen just to be certain.

 

As they finished, clapping started and the four turned to see Legolas standing in the doorway.  “Well done sister.  I’m impressed.  Didn’t think you had it in you!  Adar will be pleased.”   Amayla responded by sticking out her tongue at him.

 

“Prince Legolas, perfect timing,” Dis held out her hand to him, which he took and pressed with a kiss. “Thank you for joining us.  We are just about to start on the rootella for which you will have me as a partner.” 

 

“My honor, m’lady.  I shall endeavor to do my best so as not to embarrass you,” Legolas responded, bowing slightly.  Amayla made a gagging face behind Dis’ back that only Legolas could see.

 

“Fili and Caileen, take your positions.  Amayla, you will be dancing this with Bain.  Fili, you will be with Tilde.  Falda, the rootella please.”

 

Fili took Caileen into his arms and started dancing to the ¾ beat.  The first stanza was simple dancing with a partner, the second part was the male spinning the female around while traveling in a circle, the third measure was the male kneeling to the female while she sashayed around him, and the fourth was the male clapping around his standing partner, and the fifth and final stanza was a repeat of the first.  Fili and Caileen danced beautifully together.  Dis and Amayla exchanged glances when Fili couldn’t take his eyes off of Caileen as she circled him.  Again, no words or facial expressions were needed, but the two liked what they saw. 

 

“Think you’ve got this?” asked Kili, “or do I need to find my armored boots before we try.”

 

“Shaddup Kili.  This one is much easier!”

 

“How do you think Fee is going to do twirling Tilda around in the second part?” Kili whispered.  Amayla  laughed out loud at the thought.

 

Falda began the music again and the three couples started their dancing.  Amayla’s assessment proved accurate as she easily followed Kili’s lead without a misstep.  “See, I’m not that bad!” she smiled at Kili. 

 

“Guess not.  Still I can’t wait to watch Fili dance it with Tilda tonight!”

 

“Very well done Amayla and thank you, Prince Legolas, you are a marvelous dancer.”  Dis smiled up at Legolas, “I don’t see the need to take up anymore of your time.  If you would please escort me to the council chambers, please.”

 

“It would be my pleasure,” Legolas responded bowing his head. 

 

“I remember the last time he said that!” Fili whispered, causing Amayla to laugh. 

                                                                                                                                            “

“One moment please.  Amayla, you will need to dance with Fili during the evening.  Can you do a miner’s square?”

 

“Yes, I do know how to do a miner’s square.  We did have some celebrations in Gorvuud,” huffed Amayla.

 

“Fine, Fili you will dance a miner’s square with Amayla this evening.  Falda, my thanks, and we will see you this evening.  Amayla and Caileen, I suggest you start getting ready.”  With that, Dis took Legolas’ proffered arm and walked out of the room as everyone else bowed politely to her. 

 

Caileen grabbed Amayla, “Come on, let’s go.  You need to start getting ready.  Good bye Princes, we will see you later.”

 

Fili jumped up to join them, “Would you like me to escort you ladies?”

 

Amayla just waved him off, “I think we’ll be fine walking through Erebor in the middle of the day, thank you Fili.  You should probably be getting ready yourself.” She smiled as he frowned at being turned down.

 

The two dams walked through the halls.  “You did very well Amayla, you’ll be fine tonight.”

 

“I just hope I can manage it all in a dress!”

 

“Speaking of which, we will deliver it to you as soon as its done, but you should start getting ready and do your hair beforehand.  By the way, who are you going to get to do your hair?”

 

“Ummm, my hair?”

 

“Amayla!  We both know that there is no way that you can properly do your hair, you’ll need somebody to do it for you.”

 

Amayla looked stricken.   “I desparately want to see my friend Sarna and her twin lads.  Maybe I can get her to do it for me.”

 

“If she can’t, let me know.   I have a friend who can help. I was going to have her do my hair, but you need her more than I do.  I can have my grandmother help me.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure.  What would you do without me?”

 

“I have no idea, and thank you!” she laughed.

Chapter Text

Legolas escorted Dis to the council chambers where the three kings were deep in discussion.  “Thank you Prince Legolas, I look forward to our dance tonight.”  The elf bowed politely and left.  Thorin looked up questioningly as Dis walked in.  “I need Dwalin.  It’s important,” she whispered in the king’s ear.  He turned to Dwalin and nodded to him to go with her.  Dis turned to Dwalin.  “Come with me NOW!” she whispered.  Dwalin followed her. 

 

They walked into Thorin’s private office which was next door.  As soon as the door was closed Dis turned to Dawlin and got in his face.  “Why did you give Amayla’s courting gift away?” she spoke through clenched teeth. 

 

“What are you talking about?  What courting gift?”

 

“Amayla just told me that she gave you a courting gift on the journey and YOU gave it away.”

 

“I don’t know what you or she is talking about.  She never gave me a courting gift.”

 

“Why would she tell me she did, if she didn’t?  In fact, she said that she dreamt of a life with you, here in Erebor. But that YOU turned her away.”  Dis poked Dwalin in the chest with each sentence. 

 

“She said that? That she wanted a life with me?  She really said that?”

 

“Yes, she really said that and I know that’s what you’ve wanted.”

 

“Aye”

 

“Then why is she saying that you gave away her courting gift?”

 

“I don’t know Dis!  If she had given me a courting gift, don’t you think I would have accepted it? No matter what Thorin had said?  I would have been the happiest dwarf in all of Arda, but she never did!”

 

Dis leaned against Thorin’s desk. “I still can’t believe you took courting advice from Thorin!” she sighed.  “Let’s think about this Dwalin.  She’s not making it up.  She truly believes that you gave away her courting gift.  She must have given you something on the journey.  Fili thinks it would have been the night that she was very sick and throwing up, right before the goblins.  Does that remind you of anything?”

 

Dwalin paced, rubbing his bald head, crossing and uncrossing his arms. 

 

“She never gave me anything, but she did give Bombur a hair tie.”

 

“A hair tie to Bombur? I don’t understand.”

 

“Bombur’s hair tie had broken and his beard kept falling into the soup.  I was getting really tired of eating food that had been cooked with his beard, so I asked around for a new hair tie for him.  And she gave me one.  Leather it was.”

 

“Why would she have given it to you if it was for Bomber?”

 

“Well, I had been the one asking for it.”

 

“Wait a minute, are you saying that you asked her for a hair tie?”

 

“I don’t remember asking her exactly, she was usually off sparring with one of the company before dinner. But I know I asked Bilbo, he might have told her.”

 

“Dwalin you idiot! Bilbo must have told Amayla that you were asking for a hair tie.  She made one for you not knowing it was for Bombur.  What did she say when she gave it to you?”

 

Dwalin thought for a minute.  “She pulled me aside and said that she had heard that I was asking for a hair tie. And then she handed it to me. . . . Oh Mahal” he whispered and sat down hard.  “I remember how happy she was when I took it.  She said that she had the first watch and that we could talk then.  She walked away and I gave it to Bombur.  Never really looked at it. …. It’s no wonder she won’t speak to me.”  Dwalin slammed his fist the desk and then immediately began rubbing it. 

 

Dis had tears in her eyes.  She rubbed his back, trying to comfort him, “I’ll try and fix this.  Trust me.”  

 

After leaving Dwalin, Dis made a bee-line to Bombur’s quarters.  When Ilna, Bomber’s wife, opened the door, Dis rushed in, slamming it behind her. 

 

“Is Bomber here?” 

 

“No m’lady, he’s down in the kitchens checking on dinner for tonight. Can I help you with something?”

 

“Ilna, do you by any chance know anything about a leather hair tie that Bombur acquired during the journey?”

 

Ilna looked surprised at the question, “A hair tie, yes! Yes, I do as a matter of fact.  Would you like to see it?”

 

“Mahal be praised, yes! Please!”

 

Ilna led Dis to their bedroom.  “I found it when we moved into Erebor.  I remember it because it concerned me so.  It looked like a courting gift to me, so I questioned Bombur about it.  I felt much better when he told me that Dwalin had given it to him.  I had no reason to be worried or jealous about Dwalin!” She chuckled as she rummaged through the top drawer of a chest of clothes and pulled out the leather tie.  “Here it is,” and handed it to Dis.

 

Dis looked it over, “A and D.  She even decorated it with their initials.  Dwalin is SUCH as idiot!”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“Amayla gave this to Dwalin as a courting gift.”

 

“So it WAS a courting gift! I thought so.  – But wait, then why did Dwalin give it to Bombur?”

 

“Because he is an idiot!”

 

“Is that why Amayla never came back? Because of this?” Ilna whispered.

 

“Yes.”

 

“I can’t blame her.  I wouldn’t want to face someone who gave away my courting gift.  He’s lucky she didn’t cut off his …..”

 

Dis nodded in agreement. “But I would say that she still loves him, she just won’t talk to him, won’t even look at him, and who can blame her?  I’ve got to find a way to get them together, preferably in a locked room, with no weapons, where they can just talk.”

 

They both paused, thinking.

 

“I have an idea, to at least get her to talk to him, which will probably be more like yell at him,” said Ilna.

 

“Yelling is a start. What’s your idea?”

 

“Have Dwalin wear the hair tie. I don’t think she’ll ignore that. I certainly wouldn’t.”

 

Dis thought for a moment, then threw her arms around the dam, “Ilna, you’re brilliant!”

 

“I know.”

 

“She’ll be so mad! Who knows exactly what she’ll do to him.  We just better make sure she’s not armed.”

 

“That would probably be best.”

 

“When ‘it’ happens, we can put them both into one of the side dining rooms and lock them in there.  I’ll have to get Thanduil involved in this.  I doubt very much he would allow us to just lock up Amayla without explanation.”

 

“I would have to agree.”

 

“Help me work this through.  I don’t want the dinner ruined, so he can’t wear the tie right away.  And then there’s all the dancing.  He’ll have to put it in after that.  But how to make certain she sees it…”

 

“What if he asked her to dance?”

 

“She’d never accept.  Fili told me she had Strider run interference for her so Dwalin couldn’t get close.  Knowing Amayla, she’s probably already set that up for tonight.”

 

“What about a dance where they weren’t partners, but still have to dance together.”

 

“Like a miner’s square! Ilna, you really are brilliant!”

 

“I know,” she smiled. “What are you thinking?”

 

“I already told Amayla that she would have to dance a miner’s square with Fili.  We just need Dwalin and his partner to join them.”

 

“But what if she just walks away to find a different couple?”

 

Dis smiled wickedly, rubbing her hands together, slightly frightening Ilna. “This will be perfect! I’ll have Dwalin ask Caileen to dance. Amayla wants Fili and Caileen together as much as I do.  That might be enough to make her go through with the dance.”

 

“Who is Caileen?”

 

“It everything works out, my soon-to-be daughter-in-law.”

 

At that news, Ilna’s eyes grew wide.  Dis simply raised a finger to her lips and Ilna nodded in agreement.  

 

“Now I just have to put this all together, for tonight,” she sighed. 

 

 

Dis returned to the council chambers just as the meeting broke up.  She politely asked Thandruil to stay behind and talk with her and Thorin.  After explaining the situation and her plans, she turned to Thandruil. “Your majesty.  You are her father; do I have your permission to go through with it?”

 

“You are certain that she loves him?”

 

“I have no doubt.”

 

“Then please, go ahead. I remember how broken she was during her recovery.  I could tell that there was someone she missed … greatly.  I only want her happiness.”

 

“Thank you, your majesty.”

 

Dis returned to her quarters and sent off a few quick notes before she could finally start to get ready for the dinner. 

 

.

.

 

 

Meanwhile, after leaving Caileen, Amayla finally made it to Sarna and Galen’s quarters.  After knocking, the door was opened by two identical dwarflings.  Amayla couldn’t find any words as she smiled down at her two honorary nephews.  They’ve grown so much!

 

“Who is it lads?” a voice called out that Amayla immediately recognized as Sarna.

 

“I don’t know Amad, it’s some dam.  She hasn’t given us her name,” one of the two answered their mother.

 

Snapped out of her stupor, Amayla bowed saying, “Amayla, at your service.”

 

One of the two immediately perked up, “Aunt Amayla?”

 

“Aye, and which one are you, Gorlen or Maylen?”

 

“I am Gorlen, at your service.”

 

“And I am Maylen.  Would you like to see our Amad?  She resting.”

 

“Very much so, thank you Maylen.”

 

Maylen took Amayla by the hand and led her into a room where his mother was resting on a bed. 

 

“Sarna!”

 

“Amayla!  Is it really you?  Are you finally here?”

 

“Aye, its me, but look at you, you’re huge!”

 

Sarna smiled and rubbed her expanded belly, “Aye, I think I’m even bigger than I was with the lads.  It seems that Mahal is blessing us with another set of twins.  Please come over here.”  She patted the spot next to her on the bed.  “Its getting harder and harder for me to get around these days.”

 

Amayla carefully climbed on the bed and gave her friend a hug.  The two lads climbed up after her and sat at the foot of the bed. 

 

“You’re finally here!  I’m so happy.  Galen is out on patrol.  He’ll be mad to have missed your return, but will be happy you’re finally here.”

 

“I know.  Farrak told me.  But Sarna, I don’t know how long I’m staying.”

 

“But nothing!  You are here, and you are staying to meet these two,” she insisted and grabbed Amayla’s hand and laid it on her belly.  “You are going to be by my side this time!  And you are going to spend time with your two nephews.  Neither one of them knows how to hold a sword properly as their father only shows them axes, so you have to do it.  Its your duty!” 

 

As Amayla’s hand was resting on Sarna, she felt a small movement.  “I think one kicked!”

 

“Aye, keep your hand there and you’ll feel several more.  If one kicks, the other follows.”

 

“Will you stay and teach us how to use a sword, Auntie Amayla?” Maylen asked.

 

“Pleeeeeeeeaaaassse?” asked Gorlen turning his big greens eyes up to Amayla.

 

“Have you been hanging out with Prince Kili?” Amayla laughed. 

 

“Yes, he’s our friend.  He’s teaching us how to use a bow!”

 

“Among other tricks it would seem.  Well that’s good, he’s a pretty good archer, but I’ll tell you a secret,” Amayla leaned over to whisper to the lads, “I’m better!”

 

The two dwarves looked at each other and cheered, “Yay! Then you can teach us that too!”

 

Sarna smirked at Amayla, very proud of her sons.

 

“We’ll see,” Amayla said as she tousled their hair.  “But right now, I need your mother to do me a big favor and I doubt you two will care about it very much.”

 

“What could you possibly need from me?” asked Sarna.

 

“I have to go to a state dinner tonight and I need you to do my hair.”

 

Sarna burst out laughing, “Yes, of course I can do your hair.  It’s not like I haven’t done it before!”

 

“Yuck!  Who cares about hair,” Gorlen whined.

 

“One day you will, I promise you,” declared Amayla.

 

“Never!” Maylen agreed with his brother. 

 

“Both of you go off and play then while I do your aunt’s hair.  BE GOOD!”

 

“Yes amad,” the two said together, leaving the dams behind.

 

Amayla got Sarna her brushes and combs and sat on the floor so Sarna could easily reach her head. 

 

“So, are you finally going to tell me why you didn’t come to Erebor with the rest of Gorvuud?”

 

“Do I have to?”

 

“Yes, I think you owe me that.”

 

“You’re right.  And I’m sorry.  I was a coward.  Simple as that.”

 

“You have never been a coward a single day in your entire life, tell me.”

 

“It goes back to the original quest for Erebor, I found my one on the trip.”

 

Sarna stopped braiding her hair for a moment as that news sunk in, “Buuuut . . .”

 

“But Mahal’s folly.  I gave him a courting gift and he gave it away.”

 

“Oh Amayla,” Sarna whispered.  “Why didn’t you tell us?”

 

“I never told anyone, except Bilbo, until today.  There’s nothing to do about it.  I just had to live with it. When Gorvuud was lost, I really thought I was ready to come back to Erebor.  I was planning on it, but then I heard that he had been courting someone and was likely married.  It completely threw me.  I don’t know why I never considered that he would marry, but I hadn’t and I was a coward.  I just couldn’t face him, so I didn’t go to Erebor.  Thranduil offered me a place in the Woodland Realm.  He’s been so good to me.  And the only way I could pay him back was to try to reunite him with his son.  That’s when I joined the Rangers of the North. But then Gandalf the wizard came around and insisted that Strider, Legolas, and I come to a meeting in Erebor.  That’s why I’m here.  I still don’t know what the point of the meeting is, but I’m here and I get to see you, and the lads, and hopefully Galen.  And Thranduil and Legolas have reunited.”

 

“Well then I must thank Gandalf, but I’m not letting you leave.  Have you seen your one yet?”

 

“Aye, but I haven’t really spoken to him much.”

 

“I would think that I should know him, but I cannot think of a member of the company that has married in Erebor.”

 

“It turns out that I was misinformed.  He is not married.”

 

“So you could have been here in Erebor these past five years? What a waste!”

 

“I regret not being with you, but I don’t regret being a Ranger.  I rode with some wonderful men and elves, learned some new fighting techniques, and saved many from orcs.  I believe it is what Mahal intended of me.”

 

“Nonsense.  Mahal intends for you to live among your people here in Erebor!”

 

Amayla chuckled, “I’m glad you know what He wants.”

 

“You have to promise me that you’ll stay until Galen comes back.  Its only the day after tomorrow.  And I’m very pregnant, so you have to do what I say!”

 

“I didn’t know that was a rule.”

 

“It is!”

 

“I’ll try my best.”

 

“You’ll DO it!”

 

“Boy have you gotten bossy!”

 

“You used to boss me around all the time!”

 

“I was your captain, that hardly counts as being bossy.”

 

“I have to be.  Have you seen those two lads?  I am praying that these two are lasses.  I don’t know what I’d do if there were two more males in this household.”

 

“I can only imagine how beautiful lass versions of those two lads would be.  Galen would need to be armed day and night keeping the dwarrows away.”

 

 “Thank you.  By the way, I noticed how you didn’t tell me who your one is, but I’m sure I know.  We got to know the company very well that first year in Erebor.  They spoiled the lads rotten.  There’s only two in the company that could possible stand up to you, and I am quite certain you didn’t fall in love with a king.” 

 

“Please stop.  It doesn’t matter who he is because he doesn’t feel the same as I do.  He made that perfectly clear.  I only told you to explain why I didn’t return.  I don’t want to dwell on it.”

 

“Alright.  I’ll finish your hair and then we can talk more when Galen comes home.”

 

“You never give up, do you?”

 

“Never.”

Chapter Text

Waiting to make her entry into the brightly lit room filled with more dwarves, men, and elves than she had ever seen in one place - other than a battlefield - had Amayla more than a little on edge.  She tightly gripped the arms of her father on her right and her brother on the left until Legolas bent down and whispered in her ear, “This is the price of agreeing to join our family.  Just relax.  You don’t want to wrinkle adar’s robe!” 

 

Amayla immediately released the death grip and attempted to smooth the king’s sleeve. 

 

“Head up, my daughter,” Thrandruil instructed her, “You are representing the Woodland Realm – and you look beautiful.” 

 

“I would agree, King Thranduil, she does look beautiful,” came the voice of King Bard from behind them. 

 

“I agree!” came a much younger female voice.

 

Amayla spun around to see Tilda on her father’s arm.  She was dressed in light blue with her curls piled on top of her head.  On her head was a small tiara and around her neck a matching small diamond necklace. She looked far more grown up than her sixteen years. 

 

“Tilda?! Is that really you!  You are beautiful!  And so grown up!  You look so much like Sigrid!” Amayla gushed as she rushed to hug the girl who was so much taller than she would have ever imagined. 

 

“Aye, they are both the image of their mother,” Bard stated whistfully while kissing his youngest on the head. 

 

“Where are my manners?  Tilda, have you met my brother Legolas?” Amayla asked.  Before she could answer, Amayla had called for Legolas and Strider to come over.

 

“Tilda, this is Legolas Greenleaf, son of King Thranduil – Legolas, this is Princess Tilda.”

 

“I believe we met 10 years ago, Princess, but I am pleased to see you once again,” Legloas bowed politely while kissing Tilda’s hand.

 

Tilda giggled, “It is a pleasure seeing you again, Prince Legolas.  I must admit that I find it rather amusing that you two are brother and sister!  I hope you’re nicer to her than Bain is to me!”

 

Amayla then pulled Strider forward, “And this is our dear companion, Strider, Chief of the Dunedain.  He is also known as Estel, son of Lord Elrond of Rivendell.  Strider this is Princess Tilda and her father King Bard of Dale.”

 

Strider bowed politely to the king before also kissing Tilda on the hand.  Tilda just stood frozen, smiling at the tall, dark man. 

 

“HOLD UP THERE, STRIDER.  HANDS TO YOURSELF!”  Before anyone could say anything, Fili and Kili, dressed in their finest, took up protective stances on either side of the young princess, causing her smile to turn quickly into a frown.

 

Fili spoke up first, “Just to be clear Strider, Kili and I consider Tili here to be our honorary little sister, so before you get all handsy with her and start offering HER bows, you need to come through us FIRST!” 

 

Kili just put on his best Durin glare and added in, “What HE said!”

 

“Fili! Kili! STOP IT!” Tilda pouted, “Da, make them stop!”

 

Bard just stood by and smiled, “I don’t have any problem with what they’re doing!”

 

Strider put his hand on his heart and bowed his head slightly, “I promise to keep that in mind your highnesses.  But I do ask for the honor of a dance with the Princess tonight, if I would be allowed.”

 

The brothers eyed Strider cautiously while whispered to each other.  Finally, they turned to Bard, “What do you say, your majesty?”

 

“If Amayla vouches for him, I do not see the harm in one dance.”

 

As all eyes turned to Amayla, she spoke up, “Not only to I vouch for him, but so would Sigrid and Thengel.  Strider rode with Thengel in Rohan for a time.”

 

“Really,” asked Bard his attention fully turned to the man, “then I would very much like to speak to you later this evening.”

 

“It would be my pleasure, your majesty.”  

 

Tilda’s smile returned as she she watched Strider turn and walk away. 

 

“Did you two just call her Tili?” Amayla couldn’t help but ask the two brothers.

 

“Yes they did even though I have asked them a thousand times NOT TO!” Tilda huffed.

 

“Awe Tili, you used to love it when we called you that.  You said it made you feel like we were really your brothers,” Fili responded pretending to look devastated.

 

“I was six at the time!  Just a child!  In case you haven’t noticed, I am no longer a child!”

 

“Oh believe me, we noticed,” remarked Kili winking at her, “that’s why we protected you from that man you can’t take your eyes off of.” 

 

“And you’ll always be Tili to us, even if you are taller than both of us!” Fili added. 

 

“Amayla!  Help me!” Tilda whined. 

 

“How about I take them both down the next time we spar?” Amayla offered.

 

“That would be very nice.  Thank you,” the young lady replied, sticking her tongue out at the two. 

 

The two dwarves just laughed. 

 

 

Grundbar started politely pushing all the dignitaries into the order that they would walk into the room.  It was decided that Gandalf, Strider, Lord Arodir, Balin, and Dwalin would walk out first, followed by the royal family of Dale, then Amayla with Thranduil and Legolas, and finally Thorin, Dis, Fili and Kili.  Once again, Amayla’s grip on her elven brother and father was tighter than it needed to be, but one small smile and a few words of encouragement from Thranduil had her walking proudly into the room. 

 

Dinner was enjoyable as Amayla found herself seated between Bain and Kili.  The two of them kept Amayla laughing throughout the meal.  Much of the discussion was about how long it would take for Fili to ask Caileen to dance, and the princes placed wagers on their guesses. 

 

When dinner was finally over, Thorin stood up and made a blissfully short speech about the friendship between the kingdoms before announcing that the dancing would begin. 

 

Amayla squeezed her eyes tight and took the deepest breath she could.  Both Bain and Kili immediately sensed the opening and gave her some most inappropriate advice, “No worries Amayla, just about everyone you know will be watching!” “We’re sure that you won’t trip and fall on your face!” 

 

“You will both pay for that!” she whispered as Thranduil came to escort her.  The two laughed harder. 

 

Amayla did quite well dancing with Thranduil never missing a step and the crowd applauded the three kings and their ladies.  Next the three crown princes stepped out to dance with their partners.  Bain nudged Amayla as Fili stood next to Tilda and whispered in her ear, “Kili and I have a wager going on how Fili is going to pull off twirling Tilda around.”  Amayla couldn’t help giggling at the thought, but she sobered up thinking about the complexity of the upcoming dance, “Just pay attention to our dance.  I don’t want to fall on my face!” 

 

As it turned out, Amayla was right to be worried.  Bain’s long legs were not well matched with Amayla’s much shorter ones.  As the music started, Bain tried to step forward leading Amayla backwards but his foot landed right on top of Amayla’s causing her to stumble.  Bain managed to grab onto her, but there was nothing graceful about their movements.  Thankfully, when the second part of the dance started, Bain easily and smoothly spun the shorter dam even as both kept looking to the side to see how Fili and Tilde were doing.  The prince and princess managed the section without missing a beat as Fili stood on his toes and Tilde slightly stooped, lifting her hand just slightly above her head.  Kili whooped up a cheer for his brother when the next portion started, while Bain only grimaced.  The rest of the dance went without incidence as Amayla lengthened her steps in the last part while Bain shortened his, none-the-less, Kili was laughing openly at the two, both because of their missteps and because of the money he was going to be taking from Bain. 

 

When the dance floor was opened to all, Amayla was besieged by her old friends.  Bofur immediately thrust an ale in her hand but before she could do much more than take a quick swig, Bifur had her out on the dance floor again among all the other couples.  Nori took the next turn, followed by Bofur who elbowed out Ori.  After Ori finally got his chance, Amayla begged for a respite to catch her breath and quench her throat.  Bofur eagerly volunteered to take care of the latter problem. 

 

During her break, Amayla found herself talking with Tilda who couldn’t stop gushing about what an excellent dancer Strider was, as well as being so kind, and tall, and handsome. 

 

“And OLD,” Amayla cautioned the young lady. 

 

“Oh, I know Amayla.  He also dropped a hint about being pledged to someone.  Lucky girl,” Tilde sighed.  “But that’s not going to stop me from dreaming.  I just hope I can find someone as wonderful as him someday.”

 

Amayla pulled Tilda in for a quick hug around her waist, “You will, sweetie.  I’m sure of it.”  Amayla then spotted Caileen in the crowd, “Come on and meet a new friend of mine, Tilda.  I think you’ll really like her.”

 

Tilda and Caileen hit it off just as Amayla knew they would.  Tilda was appalled at Amayla’s treatment of Caileen’s tapestry and offered to speak to her father about a possible commission.  As they stood chatting, Fili and Kili approached.  Amayla complimented Fili and Tilda on their dancing while Kili gave Amayla grief on messing up the steps with Bain.  Caileen added in her compliments causing Fili’s chest to puff out as his dimples flashed and his mustache beads danced with the smile that lit his face. 

 

“Amad says the miner’s square is next Amayla, so I guess that’s our dance!” Fili said to Amayla gallantly holding out his arm to her. 

 

Kili simply grabbed Tilda’s hand, “Come on Tili!  Looks like Bain found himself some poor girl to dance with, lets join them and show ‘em how its done!”

 

“Fine, but quit calling me Tili!” Tilda cried as she was dragged across the floor. 

 

Amayla took Fili’s arm and stepped into the dance floor when she asked, “Who are WE going to dance with?”

 

“Could we join you?”

 

Amayla’s heart fell to her stomach as she recognized the voice. She spun on her heels ready to lash out when she saw it was Caileen on Dwalin’s arm. 

 

“Sure, Dwalin.  We’d love for you to join us!” Fili said smiling at Caileen, “Right Amayla?”

 

Mahal’s balls!  I can’t say no to Caileen even if she is with Dwalin!  Just look at the looks between her and Fili! DAMMIT!  

 

“Of course,” Amayla muttered through clenched teeth. 

 

One quick glance at Dwalin was all it took send Amayla reeling.   Oh Mahal, he cleans up nice! . . .  He looks different in his formal clothes.  Different but just as handsome. . . . . What did he do to his hair?  . . . .   I am NEVER going to get through this dance! . . .  STOP IT AMAYLA!  JUST DON’T LOOK AT HIM! . . . . eyes on Fili  . . .  that would be easier if he wasn’t staring starry-eyed at Caileen . . . they make such a cute couple . . .  I could switch places with her very quickly . . . NO! that would leave ME with Dwalin . . . .its just one dance . . .  I can do this . . . .eyes on Fili!

 

As they walked to their space on the dance floor, Caileen spoke up and approached Fili, “Your highness, you appear to have a loose thread on your collar.  Let me fix it.”  She reached up to the collar and whispered into his ear, “Mother told me that she has a knife in a pocket on the right side of her dress.” She than patted down the collar and in a loud voice said, “All set!” 

 

Fili nodded and replied, “Thank you,” far more seriously than a loose thread called for.  He then turned to Amayla, “Do you see Kili and Tili anywhere?”  As Amayla turned to look for them, Fili flashed his mother the information that Caileen had given him very quickly in Iglishmek, trusting Dis to take care of it as the music started.

 

While Amayla had her eyes stuck on Fili, Dis set things in motion.  She immediately turned to Thranduil and quickly explained the situation.  He turned to Legolas and Strider, dispatching them to the edges of the dance floor nearest the couple.  Dis then sent Thorin, Balin, and Gandalf to the other sides, while she and the elf king meandered down themselves. 

 

Half-way through the dance, Dis, a bundle of nerves, remarked to Thranduil, “I can’t believe she hasn’t noticed it yet.” The dance consisted of listening to a caller “call out” moves to the dancers either with their partners or the other couple, sometimes just the dams, sometimes just the dwarrows. 

 

“Watch her eyes,” he answered, “she is doing a remarkable job of looking anywhere but at the General, even when they are called together.  She can be quite determined when she wants to be.”

 

“Aye, she’s a dwarf,” Dis replied frowning.

 

Fili noticed Amayla’s eyes too and came up with his own plan.  The next time he and Caileen were called to dance together he whispered to her to stay on the dance floor after the dance until he gave her a signal to leave.  It was all he had time to tell her but did manage to give her hand a quick squeeze before he had to let go. 

 

The dance finally ended and Amalya closed her eyes and sighed deeply.  Fili bowed formally and thanked her for the dance before tucking her right arm under his left.  He held her on the dance floor while thanking Dwalin and Caileen for joining them and making simple small talk, giving enough time for the dance floor to clear.  Finally, he politely asked Dwalin to lead them off.  Caileen took Dwalin’s right arm in her left so that Dwalin’s back was directly in front of Amayla.  But still Amayla wouldn’t look.  With space running out, Fili finally pointed directly at Dwalin’s back, asking Amayla, “I’ve rarely seen Dwalin pull his hair back like that.  What does his hair tie have on it?  I can’t quite make it out.”

 

Fili felt Amayla freeze before she jerked her arm away from him and went to draw her knife.  “YOU ORC SPAWN!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. 

Chapter Text

Dwalin started to turn but felt his head snapped back from what he knew had to be Amayla yanking on his hair. 

 

Fili completely abandoned Dwalin while wrapping his arms around Caileen and pushing her away to safety.  Legolas and Strider were both very close and moved as soon as they saw Fili point to Dwalin.  Strider grabbed her wrist with the knife while Legolas grabbed her ar