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Cuddles

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Original imagine: Imagine waking up during the quest and finding Bilbo sleeping with his face between your breasts.

Submitted by: @lady-kaaseien on Imaginexhobbit

 

 

Your nose itched, and a strange weight seemed centred on your chest, while the rest of you floated in that foggy state between sleeping and waking. Swatting at whatever was tickling your nose, you grumbled slightly when it came back after a few seconds. The hand that suddenly squeezed your left breast made your eyes snap open, expecting to see one of the young rascals caught red-handed. Instead, you were greeted by the sight of honey curls, solving the now distant mystery of your itchy nose easily.

“Bilbo!” you screeched, louder than intended in surprise and more than a little shock. Around you, the Company were immediately alert, wide awake and armed in a heartbeat, searching for the foe that had made you cry out. Kíli was the first to laugh, catching sight of your predicament. You knew Bilbo was not still asleep, his breathing changing to a poorly faked version of remaining asleep. His hand was still loosely curled around your soft flesh, as you gaped incredulously at the little hobbit. His curly head was nestled between your breasts, his short legs tight against your thigh, burrowing into your warmth. His bedroll, a few feet away from your own, was obviously empty, the blanket trapped beneath the hobbit’s body.

“Cuddling for warmth with a hobbit now, sister?” Nori asked cheekily. “If you were cold, you could have asked one of us to keep you warm.” He could barely get the words out for laughing, and you knew that you must look more than a little funny, lying here with a distinctively unhappy facial expression. You would have laughed, too, if it had been anyone else caught up like this. You quickly smothered the thought that you might have minded less with a different head so intimately acquainted with your bosom, but currently you were finding it very difficult to see the humour in the situation, communicating as much to your unrepentant sod of a brother with a dark glare.

“I think, Master Baggins,” Thorin rumbled darkly, “that you may wish to remove yourself from Mori’s person with all haste… before her hand reaches the dagger my mother taught her to braid into her hair.” And now, you were blushing, you just knew, and poor master Baggins, who jumped in fright when Thorin spoke, had begun to tremble in fear. You sighed. Nori winked at you, one of his own ever-present daggers playing with the light from the moon as he flicked it nimbly from hand to hand. If the hobbit had meant anything untoward with his actions, Nori would have been the first to offer you his hair, you knew, and the thought brought a small smile, which died instantly when you caught sight of the dark anger in Thorin’s eyes. Carefully pushing the hobbit’s head away, you were surprised to see those blue eyes darken further, until you realised that his pale fingers were still loosely wrapped around your breast. Even Kíli had stopped laughing.

“Bilbo,” you whispered, “let go.” With a squeak that reminded you of Ori, the hand retreated, the hobbit pushing himself back from you and stuttering an incoherent mix of apologies as his face turned redder than you had ever seen anyone blush. It was strangely endearing, you thought, giving him a small smile of forgiveness that did not seem to help matters; probably because Bilbo could see nothing but Thorin’s anger, your intrepid leader’s hand inching towards the handle of his sword. Clearing your throat loudly, bringing everyone’s attention back on you, you spoke quietly, but with surety, knowing that you had to head this off fast, before things got worse. “I, Móeidr, daughter of Dagni, do declare myself unharmed by Master Baggins. I demand no rite of satisfaction, and challenge any who would do so on my behalf. This trespass will be forgiven and forgotten. Ins Mahal taglibi luknu.” The Khuzdul phrase, formal pardon and absolution in one, dissipated the tension slightly. Of course, Bilbo didn’t understand a word, and simply squeaked another apology in your direction. Wearily, you got to your feet, standing between the hobbit and Thorin, who still looked like he wished there had been an attack by orcs when you shrieked, rather than a sleep-cuddling hobbit. He did not seem to have heard you, Durin-blue eyes still fixed on the tousled head of your Hobbit-Burglar. Stepping in close, you forced him to look at your face, rather than glaring death at the hobbit. “Mataglayi, Thorin Uzbad. Ins Mahal taglibi luknu,” you said, keeping your voice strong when you most wanted to cower under the gaze that suddenly fixed on your face.

“So be it.” Thorin replied, before barking orders at the others. In quick succession, Bilbo’s bedroll was flanked by Glóin and Bombur – the only ones who were married – and you were surrounded by your brothers. You sighed. Sometimes, you really wished you had not taken Dís’s advice and admitted to being a dwarrowdam. It would have been easy, you knew, to hide. Most dwarrow were too polite to ask if the gender markers braided into hair or beard were accurate, after all, and even your not-insubstantial bosom could have been hidden through clever tailoring. Instead, you had gained a full Company of over-protective extra brothers – and your brothers were already over-protective enough, you felt – but at least you had saved Bilbo from their wrath. You felt a little sorry for him, hearing his teeth rattle under the thin blanket he had purchased in Bree. The Hobbit obviously wasn’t used to travelling, having packed so poorly, and if you hadn’t screamed out your surprise, you could have kept them all from realising how intimately he was acquainted with your body in his search for warmth. With a sigh, you welcomed Ori burrowing against your side, your younger brother murmuring a sleepy greeting before he fell asleep once more. You did not need to open your eyes to see Nori’s knife-edge grin, nor did you need to open them to swat at him for making a lewd joke under his breath that you dearly hoped Thorin didn’t hear. Giving Ori a comforting squeeze, you set yourself back to the task of falling asleep, hoping – futilely – that Thorin’s anger at what to your people was considered assaulting a female, would have died by morning. You did not relish the thought of having to stand with your words, but your honour would demand that you do so if any of them decided to challenge the Hobbit come morning. After all, Bilbo did not know any better, and he was pretty useless in a fight, there’d be no honour – or restoration of your own – in beating him in formal combat. The arrival of sleep did not smooth the frown on your face, and Thorin’s eyes followed you into a series of broken dreams that would leave you cranky in the morning.

 

In the end, no one dared challenge the hobbit for your honour – you had glared stink-eyes at both Dwalin and Thorin, who both looked far too likely to try. Bilbo himself had apologised profusely during breakfast, which you had accepted graciously – your family might be bastard-born, but Amad didn’t raise impolite fools – and then he had apologised even more after Nori had taken him aside during the afternoon and explained exactly what he had done, and how you had saved him from – not death, though Thorin’s eyes had promised it – at the very least a severe beating. Giving him a gentle smile, you nodded once. All was forgiven.

 

Chapter Text

A week after the Cuddling Incident - Ori was uniquely fond of capitalizing events, a good skill for a scribe, though you had asked that no mention of it was made in his final manuscript - Thorin still seemed annoyed with you. Not that Thorin being annoyed with you hadn't happened before, of course, though his grievances had decreased in number over the years. Growing up as Dís's best friend, practically her sister, you had been part of more than a few pranks and assorted shenanigans that had earned Thorin's ire - up to and including distracting him and Dwalin so Dís could sneak off with Víli, the handsome miner and occasional hunter she eventually married. Right now, however, his annoyance irked you, as compared to such plottings as turning his blanket into bedding for your cat birthing its first litter, you hadn't actually done anything wrong. Dwalin was behaving just as badly, but you'd rather expected him to be a growling bear for the whole trip and his current scowling at the Hobbit was what you'd secretly named his 'I'm not really angry, just not in the mood for talking'-face, which, based on the wide berth Master Baggins and most of the Company were giving him, was probably a distinction only you had discovered. In fairness, it was rather similar to his 'My axe is longing to cleave your head'-face, so perhaps that was understandable. The difference was all in the crinkles around Dwalin's eyes, and the tension in his body, but a soft creature like a hobbit probably couldn't tell the difference between a warrior at ease and on guard. Sometimes, you wondered what it said about you that you knew so much about both the King and the Guard-Captain. Nori had, because he knew you better than most, accepted your version - he didn't need to be an unapologetic spy/thief to read truth in your eyes - of events and taken it upon himself to give Master Baggins a crash course in Dwarven social politics and culture, which would hopefully keep him from making another blunder. Sparring was one thing, and you'd beaten both Thorin and Dwalin at such games - Dwalin claimed you cheated, but he never said you had to stick to swords... and a dirk to the kidneys was a highly effective way to kill off an opponent who thought he had you disarmed and pinned - but formal combat was a different kettle of fish. The ritual bathing and braiding alone would be a nightmare to find time for, let alone marking up a proper circle. 

"You are angry with me," you said quietly, finding yourself next to Thorin without really deciding to do so. "I would have the why of it." 

"I think, perhaps, you should have remained with Dís." Not the expected answer, which left you scrambling for a moment. 

"That is ridiculous and you know it." You hissed, keeping your voice low to avoid being overheard by the princes walking in front of you. 

"I had not considered the dangers you would face on the road," the clotheid King continued. You were feeling decidedly less guilty about the kitten incident now.

"What danger? A Hobbit looking for warmth on a cold night is no danger," you scoffed. Behind you, Dwalin smothered his involuntary chuckle.

"You know what I mean," Thorin persisted. "I could not even protect you in camp-" but you interrupted him before he could continue spouting any more of such nonsense.

"Do you think one of the Company would attack me in a fit of wanton madness?!" You asked harshly. Dwalin was no longer making any attempts at hiding his snickering behind you. Normally, you would have smacked his arm for that, but you were preoccupied with staring at Thorin as if he had been trying to convince you to marry a mule. Thorin scowled.

"No, but-"

"Because I'm sure you did not mean to imply that I am some simpering damsel, defenseless like a lady of Men!" Poking Thorin's chest with a finger, you hadn't noticed that the three of you had stopped in the middle of the road. "Nor did you mean to cast aspersions on our comrades' honour, or imply that they would suddenly fall under a powerful spell of lust, requiring instant - release," you laced the word with all the innuendo you could muster, satisfied to see the recalcitrant dwarf's ears redden. Dwalin was wheezing with the effort of holding in his chortles. "- necessitating my unwilling participation?"

"No, i did - will you stop poking me!" Thorin protested, glaring darkly at Dwalin, who had given up any semblance of dignity in favour of guffawing like the great loon he was. You had to hide a fond smile. "I know you can take care of yourself, I just... worry." He finished, lamely. Ahead of you, Fíli groaned, proving that he had been eavesdropping like the rascal you knew he was.

"Well, stop worrying!" You cried. "You'll drive yourself - and me - barmy within a month!" Turning back in the right direction, you walked slightly faster, intending to catch up Nori and Ori, for some marginally saner conversation, throwing a final comment over your shoulder. "I've got brothers, Thorin, I don't need you to be an extra one!" 

Chapter Text

“I want a bath,” you said quietly, pleased when Nori nodded at once and stood, ready to show you the way. You were not surprised that your shifty brother already knew where to find the bathhouses; after all, you’d been surrounded by the oddly flimsy elven architecture for more than a day already. If Nori hadn’t already cased the place, and found himself in more than one place the Elves would prefer he not go, you’d eat your sock. Which – as you had but the one pair and they were in a state of griminess so severe you wondered if they would stand on their own when removed – was not something you wished to attempt.

“Where are you going, Mori?” Thorin barked, which made you scowl at him. This overprotective lark he was playing at was both insulting and annoying.

“Back off, Thori-umph!” you snarled, ending in a high-pitched shriek when someone tumbled into your back, making your fall into Thorin’s chest with a whump.

“Kíli!” Thorin growled above your head, as you pushed away from the arms that had instinctually wrapped around you.

“Sorry, Uncle, I tripped,” the young archer said guilelessly. Your eyes narrowed at him, not believing a word.

“C’mon, Mo,” Nori called, his peaks showing clear against the night sky as his head popped up over the window frame. You didn’t look back when Thorin grabbed half-hearted at your forearm, nor when he called your name as you swung yourself out of the window, joining Nori on the verdant grass of the garden.

“Honestly, I wish our esteemed leader would get over himself. I’m not fragile. I tell you, No, I wish Dís had come along. Maybe Thorin would worry about someone else then!” you groused.

“Thorin knows that, sis, he’s just grumpy about the Elves or something. Now, may I tempt m’Lady with a lovely bath?” He tugged on one of your braids, tickling your cheek with the end playfully.

“Let’s go, nadad. Show me the wonders of Rivendell,” you smirked, making your brother laugh.

“The Terror Twins take on Rivendell in an epic whirlwind adventure!” he crowed, using Dwalin’s old nickname for the two of you. He was only a few months older than you, after all – your adad’s mistress was his amad, while your own had died giving birth to you – which made you almost twins. Most people who didn’t know actually believed you to be twins. You smiled.

 

Nori left you outside the bathhouse, probably standing guard somewhere he could see you and no one could see him as was his wont. It didn’t bother you. Unlike Dori’s sometimes smothering need to protect his siblings, Nori’s style of guarding was unobtrusive. The fact that you were more than capable of defending yourself – working as a sellsword for nearly six decades had given you a lot of experience in the art of survival – also meant Dori didn’t worry so much for you as he did Ori. Ori was… soft. Not just because of all the knitwear, but Ori had never had to worry about his next meal, even though his birth had stolen your Amad, he’d had three older siblings ready to take care of him. Dori provided home and hearth, and the bulk of the income for your small family, Nori was a gifted thief, of course, and you had found it easy to be hired as a caravan guard even when you were still too young for the job.

The bathhouse was everything a girl could want.

“That’s the ladies’ area, Master Dwarf,” an Elf said. You looked up, winking.

“How lucky for me to be a lady, then, Master Elf,” you smirked. The Elf’s eyes widened noticeably.

“Err… in that case, go right ahead,” he murmured sheepishly. “I’ll see if we can’t find you a robe while your clothes are washed.” Honestly, you hadn’t expected your hosts to care about laundry – you had intended to wash what you still had while you bathed anyway – but it would be nice not to have to resort to your cloak while your clothes dried.

Le fêl[1], Master Elf,” you nodded politely. It always paid to be polite in foreign lands, something Thorin seemed to forget when it came to Elves – he’d been reasonably polite to the few farmers you’d traded with on the road, bartering for permission to bed down in barns and such or buying eggs if the hunting was bad. The Elf was now staring at you as though you were a particularly interesting flower.

“I did not think the Dwarrow learned our tongue?” he wondered.

“Most do not, it is true, for most of us do not have dealings with your kind,” you averred. “I was raised as a playmate of a Princess, however, and perforce learned some phrases. Travelling in Gondor and the south has taught me a few more,” you winked at him, pleased that you’d managed to make him blush. Well, you assumed his face was doing what passed for blushing to Elves, a slight glow appearing in his ears.

“I-I will find you something to wear, Mistress,” he babbled. It was oddly endearing how flustered he was. Maybe you were the first Dwarf he had met? “Leave your laundry outside the door, someone will return it to you when it is clean.” Deciding to take pity on the hapless Elf, you simply nodded and went off to seek out your bath.

 


 

 

The elf had been better than his word. You were now wearing a dress – it was several centuries out of fashion, though that was a minor thing – but it fit properly. You twirled. The Elf had even found you some shoes, which went with the dress – a deep topaz colour that went well with your hair, bringing out the different shades of red and brown. If you were perfectly honest, you’d missed feeling pretty since you left Ered Luin – even if you were used to dressing ‘male’ while guarding caravans and travelling, you almost exclusively wore dresses while at home, enjoying the freedom of being yourself.

“It suits you,” the Elf said, sounding slightly relieved. You twirled again, making him laugh joyously with the size of your smile.

“I love it!” you promised. “How in the name of Durin did you find a real Dwarf dress in Rivendell?” you wondered.

“I asked my Lord Elrond. He said it belonged to the wife of an old friend, someone called Nauma?” he didn’t see the way you stroked your fingers over the dress. Nauma… could he mean Queen Nauma of the Grey Mountains? “He said that you may keep it, it has been in our storage rooms for centuries, my Lady.”

“Móeidr,” you heard yourself say, still awed by the ancient garment. “My name is Móeidr, Master Elf.”

“You may call me Nengeldir,” he smiled.

 


 

 

Nori whistled appreciatively when he saw your new dress, making you smack his arm, though you couldn’t keep the smile from returning to your face.

“Pretty,” he said, studying you seriously. “Dori will have a fit.” You shared a cheeky smile at that. Dori might trust you to protect yourself… but that was when you were dressed as a male, seeing you like this was bound to send him into near-hysterics.

“It would have been impolite to decline, nadad,” you said loftily, copying Dori’s most supercilious tone easily. “After all, my Lord Elrond is our host, and the dress once belonged to a Queen of our folk.”

“Really?” Nori asked, grinning back when your face split in another smile.

“Nauma, Nengeldir said, though I don’t think Elrond told him who Nauma was,” you laughed. “Think of what Thorin will say when he hears I’m wearing his great-grandmother’s dress!” you chuckled, letting Nori drag you off to the courtyard camp.

 


 

 

Thorin stared. He was somewhat concealed by remaining in a convenient doorway, but staying hidden was the last thing on his mind, staring at Mori who was showing off her new dress to the appreciative eyes of the Company. Jealousy ate at him; he wanted to be able to stare at her freely, to know she desired the feel of his eyes on her. She was always beautiful, to his mind, but tonight she was gorgeous. The dress, the way her eyes shone in the torchlight, whirling around in an impromptu dance with Nori. Thorin wanted to kiss her. As often before, he ruthlessly squashed any impulse in that direction, knowing that he was destined to pine for her until the end of days. Her words of a few days before rang in his mind ‘you’ll drive me barmy!’… could she not see that he needed to protect her, keep her safe? How could she not realise how bleak and empty his life would be without her in it? Thorin knew she thought him akin to a brother, and he supposed he had reinforced that, treating her much like he had Dís when she was growing up… but that was decades ago. His sister’s best friend, despite a thirty-year age-gap, someone the lads considered an aunt… and the first time he’d heard little Fíli call her Auntie, Thorin had known that he wanted it to be her true title. He had tried, over the years, doing his best to flirt with her – even though he had to admit that his skills at flirting were pretty dismal – but to no avail. She was friendly with Dwalin, often found sparring with him and for a long time Thorin had wondered if that was where her eyes lay. Dwalin said no, of course, and Thorin knew that he wasn’t lying, though he did not appreciate the way Dwalin would laugh whenever Mori accused Thorin of being a pseudo-brother. It hurt. Not the mockery, he was used to Dwalin mocking him for something or other, and took great pleasure in returning the mockery at any given opportunity, but the idea that Mori had placed him so firmly in the brother category was a painful realisation. For a few years after he had first realised – greatly helped by the fact that Mori had gone out with the caravans and he’d been gone a lot too – he had tried to stamp out every little ember of the flame he carried for her, to no avail. As soon as he had caught sight of her auburn locks, close to Dís’ dark as they spoke quietly to each other in the kitchen, the embers had burst back into bright flames, licking at his passionate heart. When she had smiled, grey eyes sparkling, and given him a hug in welcome, he’d nearly had to excuse himself to conceal his body’s reaction to the feel and smell of her.

“A bonny lass,” Dwalin rumbled quietly, startling Thorin out of his contemplations. He scowled at his friend.

“Keep your voice down!” he hissed. Dwalin chuckled.

“How long are you going to keep pretending that your heart doesn’t beat faster around her?” Dwalin asked, solemnly stuffing his pipe. Bofur had taken Nori’s place, and Thorin was busy glaring death at the miner. “Mahal, I thought you were going to skewer Bilbo that night,” Dwalin chuckled. A deeply buried dark part of Thorin had been more than tempted to bury Deathless in the Hobbit’s small body. A larger part had been seething with jealousy, but the largest part of him had crowed at being the centre of her attention, enjoying the spark of fire in her usually cool grey eyes as she stood up to him – challenged him – like a queen should. His Queen. Tonight, she looked the part, even if he would have added sapphires around her neck, and diamonds in her hair, sparkling jewels in her ears and maybe a ruby in her nose. He was so lost in staring at her, imagining all the things he’d love to see her wear – and not wear – that he never felt Dwalin shift behind him, the big palm pushing him forwards at the opportune moment.

 


 

 

When Thorin stumbled into your hold, his hands automatically catching yours in position for dancing, you couldn’t help laughing at the startled look in his blue eyes. Over his shoulder, Dwalin winked at you. Well, you thought, if a dance might help cheer him up, who were you to decline? Thorin was an excellent dancer – he’d been forced by their amad to help Dís learn, and in turn Dís had made him teach you – and you relaxed into his confident lead.

“You look pretty,” he blurted, scowling. You weren’t quite sure how to take that. Did he not approve of you looking pretty?

“The Elves gave it to me,” you explained. His frown deepened. That was not your goal! “They took my clothes away for laundering,” you continued, though that didn’t seem to fill him with the same joy as it had you. Truth be told, he could probably have done with a proper bath; you had noticed that he’d snuck out to wash his tunic and undershirt in a fountain of all places. “Nengeldir was kind enough to ask Lord Elrond if they had anything suitable for a dwarrowdam to wear while my own clothes dried.” The turns of dancing were almost automatic between you.

“Móeidr,” Thorin began. You shivered lightly. He rarely said your full name, but you’d have to be deaf not to appreciate the sound of it in his mouth. “Are you cold?” he asked, frowning again. You almost laughed. As if you could be cold! You had spent an hour dancing already and Thorin gave off heat like a bloody forge! You didn’t think you’d feel cold dancing with him even in the darkest night of winter.

“No,” you whispered. “A bit peckish, actually, I wonder if Nori managed to scrounge up some food yet.”

At that moment, Lord Elrond appeared, making Bifur’s quiet fluting peter out rapidly. You looked up, scowling at Thorin’s back. The big lump had unceremoniously pushed you behind him, bristling at the interrupting elf, no doubt.

“Dinner is ready,” he said, gesturing behind him. Pinching Thorin’s side, you stepped out from his shadow, ignoring the scowl on his face entirely.

Le fêl, Elrond, hîr Imladris,” you said, curtseying the best Amad had taught you. “I hamp bain.”

The Elf laughed, a delighted sound. “Nengeldir spoke truly of you, my Lady,” he bowed. “Will you do me the honour of having your enchanting company for the meal?” He offered you his arm, though the difference in height made it slightly awkward to take. Still, you made an attempt, ignoring Dori’s gasp behind you and the dark scowl Thorin was probably aiming at your back this very minute. Clearly, you’d have to apologise to Dwalin later for ruining his plans to cheer up Thorin, you thought, with a slight sigh of regret.

 

 


 

The ELF had stolen Mori! Thorin seethed, following the happily chatting elf lord. Right from his arms! And where had she picked up their silly tongue?! Stomping down the corridor, Thorin barely heard the rest of the company following, all his attention fixed on the dwarrowdam in front of him, glaring holes in the back of Elrond’s head.

 


 

“Your King is not happy with me,” Elrond chuckled quietly. He had slowed his walk slightly, you could tell, allowing you to keep up easily. It was… courteous, you thought, deciding that you rather liked the Elf Lord.

“Thorin likes to think it’s his duty to protect me. I like to remind him I can take care of myself fine,” you replied sharply. “I don’t need a fourth brother.”

“I did not think your people commonly had so many children,” Elrond mused. You flushed slightly.

“Dori, Nori, and Ori are my brothers,” you explained. “They have the same mother, the dam who adopted me when my mother died in childbed. My father and Nori’s father are the same, however, and I’ve always been raised as their sister,” you shrugged. Elrond simply hummed thoughtfully, steering you with a light touch to the shoulder.

 

 


 

 

“Your king’s heart was stolen a long time ago,” Elrond said, coming to a stop next to Balin, “by someone who doesn’t even know she holds it.” The diplomat did not reply, simply puffing on his pipe, staring into the distance. “It is obvious to me,” Elrond continued, “and I think you should make her aware of it sooner, rather than later. A heart grounded in love is far more difficult to corrupt.” Elrond did not know if love would be enough to save Thorin Oakenshield from his grandfather’s fate, but it might still help. Mithrandir was adamant that Thorin would not fall, but Elrond was not so certain. The wizard trusted in Thorin’s stubbornness, he thought, but stubbornness might not be enough to ward off what Elrond feared lay await in the Lonely Mountain.

 

 

 

[1] Thank you(you were generous)

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

“Uncle is terrible,” Fíli claimed decisively. Kíli nodded on principle, before he looked up at his brother with a puzzled look.

“Why exactly, this time?” he asked, picking at his bootlaces disinterestedly. He was eyeing the nearby fountain which looked invitingly cool compared to his warm boots and leather armour – to speak nothing of the fur trims.

“Mori,” Fíli groaned, flopping onto his back beside Kíli. His brother nodded.

“He’s worse than… actually, I don’t know anyone who is bad enough at conveying interest to warrant being compared to Uncle,” Kíli admitted, scrunching up his face as he tried to recall anyone he’d ever heard of who were worse than Uncle in matters of love.

“What about that princess of Khazad-dûm who refused to marry her One because she didn’t like that he came from a Firebeard line, thinking that he’d bring Firebeard boisterousness into her family?” Fíli suggested after a long period of silent contemplation.

“The one who spent 150 years being wooed only to be married for a little more than a year before she died?” Kíli asked thoughtfully. “If we consider the time Uncle met Mori, he’s actually not far off the 150-year mark for pining by now.”

“Doesn’t count, she was a child for at least the first 30 years,” Fíli countered.

“You mean we’ve got to watch him moon after for another 30 years?!” Kíli cried. “Mahal wept.”

“Yeah… we should do something.” Fíli proposed. “Did you see the way Dwalin made Uncle dance with her last night?”

Kíli nodded, stroking his beard – scruff, but it was the gesture that counted he told himself – thoughtfully. “Maybe we could do something like that…” He motioned towards ‘their’ courtyard. “Force Uncle o interact with her… physically.” Kíli winked at Fíli, who groaned.

“Thank you for that image, nadad, I did not need to think about Uncle Thorin touching our Auntie Mori. What would Amad say.”

“Probably ‘It’s about time, you blind old fool’” Kíli replied philosophically. “At least if she was talking to Uncle. To us… well, I think she’d say something along the lines of ‘what are you waiting for my beloved sons?’”

Fíli laughed. Kíli shot him a scowl.

“Yeah, that sounds like Amad,” Fíli admitted, after Kíli had splashed water from the fountain into his face.

“Well, I accidentally tripped Mori into Uncle’s arms yesterday… but then he chewed me out when she left with Nori,” Kíli mused. Fíli sat up suddenly, nearly startling his brother into falling into the fountain.

“We need for them to interact without it seeming forced.” Fíli stroked his beard thoughtfully – Kíli glared; Fíli’s gesture was far more effective and he knew it – “… Kíli, how do you feel about a bath?” Kíli lost his jaw.

 

Playing in the fountain was fun – they’d roped Dwalin into it by being honest about their plans of mischief, for once, and he’d dragged both Balin and Thorin along – Nori was always game for something that’d put burrs in Dori’s bedroll, but the tailor had surprised them all by gamily climbing into the fountain, taking up a spot next to Balin and smoking a companionable pipe as they watched the rest of them frolic. Mori had arrived side-by-side with Bifur, who laughed at the sight of Kíli and Fíli teaming up to dunk Thorin before shedding his clothes and joining in. of course, Bombur was a popular addition to the game, his girth making the largest waves and splashes, easily knocking over less-than surefooted Dwarrow.

 

“C’mon, Auntie,” Kíli called, strategically sharing a glance with Fíli who was pretending to overwhelm him. Kíli swallowed a mouthful of water, spluttering pathetically. Mori chortled. “I need…blurble… help!” Kíli cried, inwardly cheering when Mori began unlacing her new dress.

 


 

“Well, then, ma wee lad, I’ll come and defend ye,” you called back, laughing when Fíli dunked his brother under the water again. Stepping into the fountain – still wearing your shift for a semblance of modesty, you never knew what kind of peeping elf could be lurking about and Nori was too busy chasing Ori around with a towel to keep lookout – you sighed at the feel of the cool water swirling around your legs. Wading over to Fíli and Kíli, you yanked on Kíli’s shoulder, freeing him from Fíli’s hold only to become Fíli’s main target in the next instant. Laughing and spluttering, you didn’t even realise when the teams had shifted, finding yourself perched on Thorin’s shoulders as you play-wrestled with Kíli who was balancing on Fíli’s. Thorin’s strong hands were wrapped around your thighs to hold you steady, your shift bunched uncomfortably beneath you, dripping down Thorin’s powerful back.

“We’re going to get you good,” Thorin yelled. You laughed, pushing at Kíli, whose legs were holding tight to his brother’s shoulders and did not fall over.

“Pah!” Fíli jeered. “It’ll take more than you two oldies to take us down!” You heard Dwalin chortle. He and Nori were obviously taking bets, trying to coach the combatants at the same time. You tuned them out.

“Watch who you’re calling old, you wee louse,” you threatened, safely anchored by Thorin’s warm palms. “I’m going to get you!” Hooking your feet behind Thorin’s back for extra support, you threw yourself into a tickle fight. Kíli was unbearably ticklish, almost instantly losing his hold on Fíli’s wet shoulders. Below you, Thorin’s hands had found Fili’s side and soon both lads were laughing too hard to remain upright, falling back with a large splash.

“Ha!” Thorin crowed victoriously, squeezing your legs in celebration as he chased the laughingly fleeing Fíli once around the bottom tier of the fountain. You laughed, your braids flying freely behind you as you grabbed onto his hair for support, tangling your fingers in the dark wet strands. Your shift had ridden up, you suddenly realised, just feeling the soft bristles along his jaw where the bottom hem ended. Thorin’s hands were on your bare legs, placed just above your knees and a part of you wondered if they had always been that large and warm. You shook you head. Where did hat thought come from?? Sure, he was handsome, in a short-bearded way, but he was not for you, long-since relegated to the role of pseudo-sister as you were. Still, you told yourself, laughing brightly at Kíli’s flailing attempts at escape, there was nothing wrong with enjoying yourself and playing with friends… right?

 

Chapter Text

Thorin paced. That wasn’t new; he seemed to think better when he moved. Usually a good round of pacing and thinking would have allowed him to sort out his thoughts, but this time, he felt unaccustomedly woolly-headed, his mind continuing to throw up flashes of playing in the Rivendell fountain – specifically, the feel of Mori’s bare thighs under his hands, the surprisingly soft skin that only supreme willpower had kept him from nuzzling into. He could still feel the way his beard dragged across her skin when she moved, shifting her weight on his shoulders as she tried to unseat Kíli. He remembered the way her fingers had tangled in his hair, felt the tugging as she gripped his head and he couldn’t help but wonder if she would grip him like that if he… No. Not going there, Thorin told himself sternly, glaring down at the part of his body that wanted to know if she tasted as good as she smelled, wondered if she would be sweet… Thorin tried to tell himself that he had no idea what she smelled like, but his other brain was quick to throw up memories of things he was sure he hadn’t smelled at the time, distracting him with the scent of her freshly cleaned hair when he danced with her, or the smile on her face, the sound of her triumphant laugh when they managed to topple the nephews. Once more he thought his fingers remembered the feel of her legs, knew his shoulders remembered her weight – a warrior’s physique might give her less weight than say Bombur, but Mori was padded in all the right places, Thorin knew – though he hadn’t felt it so… intimately… before.

“What’s got your braids all tangled, Thorin?” Balin asked behind him. Thorin replied with a wordless growl of frustration. “Ah, a dam, then,” Balin nodded sagely.

“I can’t think, Balin! How can I lead you when I can't think about anything but her?!” Thorin exclaimed. “It was bad enough seeing her in Ered Luin every now and again or hearing of her through Dís, but I didn’t have to spend every moment of my day with this… torment!” Throwing up his hands, Thorin whirled, pacing to the other side of the small secluded courtyard. “It’s never been this bad, keeping my distance.”

“Have you considered telling the lass that you want her for your own?” Balin asked. "She'd make an excellent Queen for you... she's not afraid to challenge you. You need that spark, lad." Thorin snarled.

“She wouldn’t have me, Balin; she thinks of me as a brother, as she has done since she was 35 and had freckles!” raising a fist to punch the wall, Thorin thought better of it and began hitting it with his forehead instead.

“You seemed quite friendly yesterday, in the pool,” Balin tried, knowing better than to interrupt the rhythmic thumping.

Friendly?” Thorin shouted. “Balin, I damn near drove myself insane!” Hitting his forehead against the wall with each groaned word, he continued, “And. I. Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. Her.” Resting against the wall, Thorin breathed hard. “She has to stay here.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, lad,” Balin tried to counsel, but Thorin had already stormed off. Balin sighed, shaking his head. This is not going to end well.

 


 

“WHAT?!” you screeched, staring at Thorin. He looked angry, but with an undercurrent of desperation you could almost feel in the air around him.

“It is decided.” Thorin said with finality. “You’re staying in Rivendell, and that’s the end of it.”

“But-!” you protested, gripping his arm. What on earth had gotten into his head. Around you, the Company were staring. Thorin threw off your hand violently. You couldn’t help yourself, flinching back from him; more out of surprise than fear. Thorin recoiled, his face contorted in a grimace you couldn’t place, some unnameable emotion burning in the blue eyes you had thought you knew so well.

“I am your King,” he snarled. “Will you disobey the order of your king, Móeidr, daughter of Dagni?” he asked, his tone low and dangerous. You’d never seen him act anything like this; scared by the intensity of his gaze. Your own temper tried to flare, but it was doused by worry. Such a command was almost unheard of from Thorin, who’d always maintained that he was a Prince only, not the King, had claimed to be your friend. You could only stare. For a moment, you had the wild idea that you were looking at some Thorin-impostor. It was almost enough to make you laugh hysterically, but you managed to control yourself; this dwarf was deadly serious. “Well?” he challenged, making you realise that he expected you to answer.

“If it is the will of the King, I will leave his Company,” you said, feeling numb. “I apologise that my service was found wanting.” You wanted to hit the stubborn, hard-headed fool, but… no. You were raised better than that, a small voice in your mind piped up. Pivoting, you made to step away from him, a small headshake in Nori’s direction silencing his protest. Turning your head to the side, you spoke clearly, drawing all your dignity around yourself to shield you from those dark blue eyes. “Know this, Thorin, son of Thraín, son of Thrór, however… Today, you made yourself only my King, and until my dying breath, I will remember that you are no more nor less than that to me. Fare-thee-well.” Striding from the Company’s courtyard, you ignored Kíli calling for you as well as the angry protests that filled your wake.

 


 

Hours later, you still felt like punching Thorin’s face, breaking his nose, or some other act of violence. The numbness had fled, giving way to furious anger, though you almost wished it would return, stomping angrily through the gardens. You didn’t even notice the Elves you stormed past, who seemed puzzled as to your presence.

“I had heard there were Dwarrow in Imladris,” someone said mildly, “though I did not think I would meet one.”

“Linger with me, Elf, only if you feel like listening to language my mother would not approve of,” you warned, turning and punching a tree, a constant stream of invective aimed at Thorin falling from your lips in angry mutters.

“Might I offer a ‘Adadmêzu duhû bintarg[1]’ to your rant,” she asked, making you look up in sharp surprise. The face that greeted you was neither young nor old, it simply was. Surrounded by locks of gold and shining silver, her blue eyes were kind. She winked. “When last I walked the great halls of Khazad-dûm, nearly four thousand years ago, that was the insult of the day.”

In your surprise, you laughed, somehow feeling better for venting – even if it was to the pointy ears of an Elf. “Indeed, that is a good one, my Lady,” you bowed your head politely. The elf-lady laughed.

“I am Galadriel, of Lothlórien,” she introduced herself.

“Móeidr, of Ered Luin,” you stated, though currently you didn’t think Ered Luin would be your home – not once people heard that you had abandoned the quest… even if you had been following Thorin’s orders. You shuddered.

“What has upset you so?” Galadriel wondered.

“My King is a bloody fool of a Durin,” you groused, “and I have been banished.” Suddenly, you could feel tears pressing, but Galadriel simply led you to a seat on a low bench and let you weep as long as you wished, fishing out a handkerchief from one of her wide sleeves.

“There you are, Mo!” Nori cried, coming to a stop before you. You threw yourself into his arms, hiding your face in his shoulder. Things may not be as dark as they seem, Móeidr of Erebor, a voice spoke in your mind, but when you looked up, Galadriel was gone, and the worried faces of Fíli and Kíli had taken her place.

 

 

[1] Your father has no beard

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

“You can’t just banish Mori!” Dori exclaimed. “She’d have to make her way home all alone. Anything could happen!”

“Aye, and what about the Quest?” Bofur nodded, his hat nearly falling off in agitation.

“Bofur has a point, Thorin, Mori is among our best fighters.” Glóin said. Dwalin stayed quiet, but it was a very loud type of quiet that told Thorin exactly what his old friend thought.

“That’s true,” Óin nodded, “she’s a bonny lass too.” Thorin growled at that, but the old healer pretended not to hear him. The rest of the Company chimed in, making Thorin slowly realise that he had caused a rift between himself and the loyalty of those who followed him; trying to save Mori would alienate the rest of them because it looked to them as though he did not trust her – a dam he had known for more than 120 years.

Thorin had a sudden flash of Mori’s smile as she danced with him, the warmth in her eyes in that moment what he wished to guard, to keep safe. It was quickly replaced with the memory of the way she looked tonight, abject betrayal masked by icy politeness in her grey eyes as she looked at him. Thorin’s heart ached. Mori’s accusation - ‘You made yourself only my King’ - kept repeating in his mind, drowning out the Company’s protests as he stood there, a lone Dwarf in a sea of voices, staring after the path she had taken as though his eyes could follow her through the twisted Elven architecture. Did she mean that he had been more to her? More than the brother he knew she considered him? Thorin shook his head, ignoring the angry voices around him as he strode from the courtyard; away from any memory of Mori.


 

When you had cried yourself out, the anger returned. Who did he think he was, that clot-pole of a King?! Pacing along the garden path, followed by the uncharacteristically silent forms of Kíli and Fíli, you fumed.

“I’m sure Uncle didn’t mean it,” Fíli tried, but it was a weak attempt at consolation. You scowled.

“That simpleton meant exactly what he said,” you seethed. “He never wanted me along in the first place, he thinks I am too weak to protect myself, and now he’s finally in a place where he can get rid of me. I never should have listened to your mother when she asked me to join this Quest, but…” you had wanted to go, as soon as you returned to Ered Luin, even if it gave you only four days to pack before you joined your brothers on the journey to the Shire – meaning Thorin hadn’t known about your inclusion until he had showed up in Bag-End to find you sitting next to Nori, having signed your contract while he was up north for the Lords’ Council.

“Uncle cares about you,” Kíli tried next. You scoffed.

“I used to think he liked me, at least a little, used to think we were friends of a sort,” you spat. “Now… well it’s clear to me that he thinks of me as little more than burden his sister dumped on him!”

“That’s not true,” Fíli tried again, “he’s just… overprotective. It means he cares. Like with me and Kíli!” he smiled brightly, but you were not mollified. Kíli punched his arm, making Fíli wince and rub the sore muscle. The sight made you laugh almost despite yourself.

 


 

 

“We leave tonight.” Thorin commanded, whirling around and stomping away before anyone could offer him more protests. Mori had not returned to the courtyard, and her three brothers were also absent. Dwalin shared a speaking look with Balin, before he got up to follow Thorin with a heavy sigh.

 


 

 

“This isn’t right, Mo,” Nori whispered, holding you tight. One of your arms stretched out to gather Ori close and you felt Dori behind you, wrapping you in the middle of a family hug.

“It is what it is, No,” you murmured, hearing Dori’s insulted huff behind you.

“I don’t want to leave you here,” Ori complained, sounding horribly young. You pressed a kiss against his forehead.

“We’ll come back for you, sister,” Dori swore. With a small sob, you whirled and threw your arms around him.

“You be safe, you hear? All of you!” you demanded, pulling away from Dori when you were sure you weren’t going to cry.

“We’ll bring you back the dragon’s head!” Nori exclaimed, trying to coax a smile onto your face. It was a paltry effort, but you gave it your best, hating to leave them with the memories of tears until next you met, even if it was usually you who were leaving and your brothers who were left behind.

 

“I’ll miss ye, lassie,” Dwalin rumbled, pulling you in for a surprising hug. You returned it, slightly stunned. Smirking into his shoulder when he bent to whisper in your ear. You vaguely heard Thorin growl, but paid it no mind.

“You keep em safe, Dwalin, all of them,” you commanded, channelling Dís at her most regal. The big warrior nodded. Rising on your tiptoes, you pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek, making him blush. “Thank you, my friend,” you whispered, accepting another bone-cracking hug before you turned to face Fíli and Kíli who looked just as miserable as your brothers.

 

“You’re good lads, Fíli, you hear?” you said, pulling them both in for a hug. “You be careful from now on, yeah?” You managed not to sniffle. “Stick by Dwalin and Thorin, and don’t be reckless. Look out for Ori for me, and don’t wind up the Hobbit too much, aye?”

“Yes, Auntie,” they mumbled, returning the hug. Not for the first time you wondered if you could have loved them more if they were actually related to you by blood and decided it was unlikely.

“Try to keep your Uncle from making any hare-brained mistakes, promise?” you asked, unable to keep from worrying about the stupid Dwarf who was your King. He might not be your friend anymore but that made you no less his.

 


 

 

Thorin knew he had done wrong, knew it deep in his bones. He wanted to apologize, wanted to hug her like he watched Dwalin do, growling when she kissed the warrior’s scarred cheek. He also knew that if he spoke to her at all, he’d end up on his knees begging forgiveness; she was a weakness he could not afford. It’s better this way, he kept telling himself as he moved away from the serene quiet of Rivendell, when the Mountain is yours, you can come to her as a King and offer her anything she desires in return for her forgiveness of your words. For her heart… for the chance.

Thorin wasn’t sure he was persuasive enough to convince himself that all the riches in Erebor would be enough to make Mori smile at him again. The image of her laughing grey eyes as she relaxed into his lead, the steps of the dance making her hair fly behind her like a curtain of auburn silk kept being replayed over and over in his head, with every other footstep turning it into the closed-off expression of cool displeasure he had seen when she caught sight of him as the Company were saying farewells.

 


 

You stood there, waving, until they had all disappeared behind a ridge.

 


 

Thorin couldn’t help one last look back, catching sight of Mori looking small and precious as she stood alone on the bridge leading away from Rivendell. Catching the Hobbit staring too, he scowled. The small creature was already far too familiar with his Mori.

“Keep up, Master Baggins,” he glowered, making the Hobbit jump and speed past him. Thorin’s last glimpse of her was the morning sunlight catching the reds in her hair and turning it into fire, the topaz jewel-tone of her gown only enforcing the image of a goddess of flame in his mind and stealing his breath with a powerful surge of desire.

 

Chapter Text

“I have word from Mithrandir,” Lady Galadriel said, interrupting breakfast in Rivendell. You had stayed as Lord Elrond’s guest, improving your Sindarin with the help of the minstrel Lindir. “The Tombs of Rhudaur have been opened. He has gone to Dol Guldur.” Lord Elrond got to his feet, a grave expression on his face.

“I fear what he will find there…” he said quietly. Galadriel nodded.

“I will go to him,” she said. Elrond nodded.

“We should send word to Thranduil; Dol Guldur is in his lands and he has long kept the darkness there from spreading,” Elrond replied gravely.

“Send Lady Móeidr,” Galadriel proposed, turning to you. “I feel she has a role to play yet, in the Quest for Erebor; she may well be just what is needed there…” Elrond closed his eyes, remaining silent for a long time. You were still staring aghast at the Lady of Light when he nodded firmly.

“So be it; Lady Móeidr, will you consent to be the emissary of Rivendell, bring my word to the ears of King Thranduil?” he asked, bowing formally.

“I will,” you heard yourself say, smiling at the sound of Galadriel’s silver laughter ringing in your mind. “Though I don’t know what message you wish me to give him.”

 


 

You had travelled swiftly, getting through the Misty Mountains on the back of a sure-footed Elven horse. The son of Elrond, Elladan, was sitting in front of you, while his twin, Elrohir, rode beside you. You knew that your presence was largely superfluous; the sons of Elrond would have been capable of delivering any message he might like to send and be far more likely to be believed, but you had learned that it was a rare fool who gainsaid the Lady Galadriel – including her son-in-law and grandsons – when she wanted something done. You wondered where the Company was – surely they must have reached the Mountain by now? – as you looked at the large gates of Thranduil’s Halls. You were surprised that they were underground; recognising the skill of your race in their shaping as you walked through the winding hallways and airy corridors.

“Have you decided to speak truly yet?” You heard a bored voice drawl as you neared the Throne Room, led by a brown-haired guard who smiled kindly at you and introduced himself as Meludir. What made your step falter once, however, was not the Elvenking’s words, but the voice that replied to him:

“I have naught to say to you, King Thranduil,” Thorin hissed. The Door-Wardens opened the large wooden doors to the Throne Room, interrupting whatever the Elvenking was about to say.

“Thranduil Aran, an emissary from Rivendell has arrived,” Meludir announced clearly. Both of them broke the combative stare to turn and look at the three of you. Elladan and Elrohir each stepped aside, deferring to you with a slight nod as you stepped forth.

“Thranduil Aran,” you bowed politely, not missing the way Thorin gasped as he recognised you, “Le suilanthon. Im Móeidr estannen. Le togon beth od Imladris. Tôl alagos dûr[1].

“Lady Móeidr,” the pale-haired elf greeted solemnly. “Approach.” Moving towards the throne, you could feel Thorin’s eyes burning into your back as you passed him. “It is rare to meet a Dwarf who speaks our tongue,” Thranduil drawled. You smiled.

“I have been in Imladris for some months now,” you demurred, “I thought it a skill worth adding to my arsenal.” He seemed surprised to find himself laughing, but he waved you closer. Fishing your missive – official seal and everything – from your bag, you strode up the steps, handing him the scroll-tube with a solemn nod. “I forget my manners, my Lady Móeidr,” Thranduil said, taking the tube, “but perhaps you are already familiar with my belligerent guest, Thorin Oakenshield?” he gestured to Thorin. You turned, nodding at your king, who looked worn and old as he stared at you, seemingly unable to believe that you were actually standing before him. You bowed. Thorin glared, those blue eyes piercing your soul. You wished you could hug him, reassure yourself that he was well – he did not look it, his hair obviously tangled and his face a bit gaunt – but you had too much dignity and pride to throw yourself at him after the way he had treated you.

“King Thorin Oakenshield is known to me,” you agreed, turning back to the Elf, who was watching you with some interest. “Though I had not though to meet him in your Realm, Thranduil Aran.”

“He is my guest, for the time being,” Thranduil replied, disinterestedly. Behind you, Thorin snarled.

“If it would not offend…” you asked, but Thranduil simply waved at you to continue, “my three brothers were travelling with King Thorin; are they guests of yours, also?”

“Meludir!” the Elvenking called, “Bring Thorin Oakenshield back to his cell. Lady Móeidr may visit with her kin, then have her brought to one of the guest quarters along with her guard, as my honoured guests.” The guards in the room nodded, prodding at Thorin to get going. He caught your eye as left unwillingly; what you saw there nearly brought you to your knees. Such despair was not right in your Thorin’s eyes.

“Cells, Thranduil Aran?” you asked, slightly gobsmacked. The Company were being held prisoner?

“Your kinsmen are prisoners until your King and I can come to some arrangements,” Thranduil replied disinterestedly, his attention absorbed by whatever Elrond had written in the sealed scroll of parchment. “I invite you and your guard to dine with myself and my son tonight, my Lady, when you have rested after your long journey.” Thranduil offered – you were familiar enough with royalty to hear that it was a clear command – and you nodded politely, returning to Elladan’s side.

 


 

When you left the Throne Room, Meludir waved for you to follow.

Seeing them all in cells broke your heart. You reached Kíli and Fíli first, reaching between the bars to clasp their hands.

“Auntie!” Fíli exclaimed, staring at you. You could hear the others moving up to the bars, straining to stare at you.

“Oh, lads, you’re both well?” you asked, feeling near tears when you spotted Nori in the next cell.

“Yes, Auntie,” Kíli gave you a brave smile that didn’t fool you.

You heard someone thump someone else and then the sound of Dori complaining loudly about being woken.

“Dori!” you cried, running to his cell first.

“…Mori??” Your oldest brother cried, staring at you in disbelief. Beside him, Nori was grinning widely. Squeezing both their hands, you moved down the line, exchanging nods with Dwalin before moving to Ori’s cell, wishing for keys or privacy to pick the lock so you could hug him, wipe the tears off his cheeks.

“Oh, Ori,” you cooed, “hush now, little love,” you murmured, when he squeezed your fingers tightly, lifting one of your hands to his cheek. Wiping the water away, you gave him your best smile. “I’ll get you out here, kurtharuthê, yeah?” you whispered, feeling your heart lighten when he gave you a sniffly smile.

“How are you here, lass?” Balin called.

“I didn’t want to go home… and Lord Elrond needed a messenger, Balin,” you replied, wiping a tear from your own cheek as you turned to face Thorin’s old advisor. Balin gave you a gentle smile.

“Does Thorin know you’re here?” he asked. You nodded lightly.

“He was arguing with Thranduil when we arrived,” you murmured, gesturing to your two friends. Balin blanched.

“I should return you to your guest-room, my Lady,” Meludir said quietly behind you.

“Wait!” you cried. “I need to speak with Thorin too; where is he?” you asked, staring imploringly at the Elf. You were vaguely aware of Elrohir and Elladan taking up positions on either side of you, but your eyes were glued to Meludir’s gentle face, his brown eyes softening as he sighed.

“Very well, Lady Emissary,” he smiled, turning around with a small wave for you to follow.

 


 

“Mori…” Thorin could hardly believe his eyes, breathing out her name like a prayer when she stepped away from the two Elves beside her. Then he clamped his jaw shut; he had already given away too much with that small involuntary utterance. Mori didn’t acknowledge his existence as she approached the Elf on his throne. She was dressed in peculiar garb, a border of leafy vines around the hem of her tunic, armoured in mail and leather he recognised as her own though it had been modified since he had seen it last. The addition of a vividly blue cloak pleased him – she looked good in his colours – until he realised it was clasped with a jade-inlaid pin bearing the mark of Lord Elrond. He glared at her, barely deigning to accept the nod of recognition she bestowed on him as he fumed over her deference to the haughty Thranduil. He still couldn’t stop himself turning back for one more glimpse of her, certain it would be the last time he saw her, catching her eyes almost by accident.

 

Pacing in his cell – he was nowhere near the rest of the Company, he knew – kept in near darkness that bothered him far less than the Elves might assume, Thorin growled to himself. He could not see a way out of this mess; having no intention of giving Thranduil the White Jewels of Lasgalen, even if he found them when he reached the Mountain. No, Thorin thought, I must trust that the little Burglar can find us a way out.

“King Thorin,” she said, and he wondered if she could see well enough in the gloom to know how the title hurt his very soul. Not that he hadn’t fantasised about Mori calling him ‘My King’ over the years… but it was a playful title, an intimate gesture as she came to him, as he wrapped her in his arms and took whatever she was willing to give him.

“Lady Móeidr,” he replied hoarsely, drinking in the sight of her; he had thought he had seen her when he walked in Mirkwood, one of the many illusions that had tempted him. She had stood before him, just as she was that night he danced with her in Rivendell, beckoning him closer. It had been the smile in her eyes that gave away the lie then, but this apparition watched him with her emotional grey eyes veiled by a mask of indifference.

“You are… well?” she asked, her hand twitching as though she wanted to reach for him and suddenly everything was just too much to bear. Thorin nearly leapt the two steps to the bars, reaching for her hand. For a long breathless moment, he feared that she would not take it, but then her fingers wrapped around his, squeezing lightly. Thorin rested his forehead against the bars, willing himself not to break, needing his strength to continue fighting Thranduil; give their Burglar more time.

“As well as can be expected,” he admitted hoarsely. “I had not expected to see you again,” he admitted, catching her fingers with his own without thinking as he stared into her eyes; hardly caring about the Elven guard who had wisely remained by the stairs.

“Oh, Thorin,” she whispered, reaching to trace his cheek between the bars, “I had not expected to find you here, find you like this,” she exclaimed, gesturing at the small cell. Thorin chuckled.

“It has been vastly improved by your mere presence, my Lo-lady,” he replied, cursing his fatigue – it wasn’t easy to trust being able to sleep peacefully in this place, and he was tired – for his errant tongue. Mori chuckled lightly.

“Always so charming aren’t you, my King?” she asked, but this time it was playful; not so playful as in his dreams, but without the cold edge the words had carried in Rivendell. Thorin swayed on his feet, beyond caring about the Elf witnessing his fatigue.

“Have you seen the others?” He hadn’t heard anything about them since Bilbo had found him, bringing him news that they were all alive before he had to flee to avoid detection.

“Everyone is fine, Thorin.” Mori replied. Thorin sagged slightly. “The boys are keeping up their courage, and I promise; I will find a way to release you,” she continued, staring the he lifted her hands, pressing the tips of her fingers against his lips in gratitude.

“We should go, Lady Emissary,” one of the guards said. Thorin scowled. “The King is waiting.”

“Trust me,” she breathed, and then she was gone, the ghost of her touch lingering on his lips.

 


 

Thorin thought it was morning when he was brought up from his cell, staring at the reassembled Company – including one sheepish-looking Hobbit. His heart sank. The guards led them towards the Throne Room at a swift clip.

“So, we are agreed, my lady,” they heard Thranduil say placidly, Thorin stiffened, feeling his heart ripped from his chest at the voice that replied:

“Yes, Thranduil Aran. I will spend a night with you, and you will let the Company – all members of the Company – leave your Halls; returning their gear and giving them enough supplies to reach Laketown.” Mori said. Thorin looked around wildly, but he was not the only one who had heard; Fíli’s face had gone bloodless and pale, while Nori’s looked carved from granite. Ori seemed oblivious, while Dori’s face was inscrutable as he stared straight ahead.

“Agreed,” King Thranduil drawled, and they were through the door, staring at Mori who stood on the small platform of Thranduil’s Throne, staring down at them while the Elvenking lounged in his seat. She had been dressed in an Elven piece of tailoring, Thorin vaguely registered, lost in horrified staring at her, feeling sick at the price she was willing to pay for their freedom. “It seems, King Thorin, that others are not so disinclined to see a good bargain as you.” Thranduil smirked, rising from his seat and offering Mori his arm as he descended to the lower level. He nodded to the guards. “Return what was confiscated and set these Dwarrow on their way to Laketown,” he commanded. As he walked forward, Mori walked beside him, her spine ramrod straight as she avoided Thorin’s gaze.

“Mori…” Nori said, reaching for her hand. Mori smiled at him; a pale effort.

“You go now, No,” she murmured. “I promised I’d get you out, and I have. You know me,” she gave him a wink and Nori let her go with a small smile and a nod. Thorin wanted to kill him. How could he just let his sister go like that?? He wanted to offer protest, offer those blasted gems, offer anything, but he knew that if he opened his mouth, he’d be sick.

 

 

[1] I greet you, King Thranduil. I am Móeidr. I bring you word from Rivendell. A Storm of Darkness is coming.”

Chapter Text

“You do realise they heard our little conversation?” Thranduil said, as you stood on a hidden balcony, watching the Company disappear. A silk-robed arm appeared over your shoulder, offering you a goblet of wine.

“I assumed that was the point of rehashing it in the Throne Room this morning,” you replied, “though I fail to guess your purpose.”

“I simply wanted your King to know what it is to leave your treasure in the hands of another,” Thranduil retorted, slightly snide. You cocked your head, turning to face him questioningly.

“I am not his treasure,” you denied, even as your mind flashed back to the look in Thorin’s eyes when he stood before you in his cell, looking so worn as he stared at you. Looking like you were water and he had spent weeks dying of thirst.

“I think you know better than that, my dear, let’s not play games.”

You laughed, raising your glass in a wry toast, “Is it not a game we have been playing since my arrival?” you smirked, pleased when he laughed. The Elf was a mercurial being, as Elrond had warned you, unlike the Elves of Imladris in both manner and looks. Somehow, you actually enjoyed his company; there was a wildness in him that you knew from your own soul, the same restlessness that had made you go out with the caravans to see a bit of the world.

“I do see why Elrond claimed I would like you, Lady Móeidr; you have a sparkling wit I have not often seen in your people.” Thranduil replied with a perfunctory bow.

“Perhaps it has been too long since you have had cause to bandy words with one of us,” you replied demurely, “for I am hardly the most silver of tongues.”

 


 

 

Thorin was reeling, focusing on nothing besides putting one foot in front of the other as they walked towards Laketown. He kept hearing her voice over and over ‘Trust me’ and then the damning ‘I will spend a night with you’. He just… it didn’t make sense. He couldn’t stomach thinking of her being in the same room with that elf let alone… that. He was glad of Dwalin’s vigilance; his own mind was miles away, furiously shouting at him to keep himself together, to stop thinking about Mori’s utter betrayal, the death of his every hope for his future.

“How could you just let her go like that?!” Thorin wanted to nod, but he had to keep his stony countenance; now was not the time to crack, no matter how much he also wanted to rail at Nori. “She’s our Auntie, but she’s your sister!” Fíli continued, staring aghast at the star-haired Dwarf. “How could you let her whore herself out to an Elf, to Thranduil, of all people?!” Dwalin intervened when one of Nori’s daggers made a quick appearance at Fíli’s throat.

“If you think so little of my sister as to believe her capable of sinking that low, Prince Fíli, you have a lot to learn if you ever find yourself lucky enough to find a dam who’ll have you!” Nori hissed angrily.

“But…” Fíli looked so young, so lost, and Thorin had no comfort to offer, wished for a wry voice to come up behind them, fiery grey eyes alight with a joke well-played. No one came. “We heard her. She agreed.” Fíli insisted, burying the knife in Thorin’s chest ever deeper.

“Mori is not that daft,” Dori said quietly, though he too was angry, Thorin knew. “She wouldn’t want to be a Queen of Elves anyway, she’s enough to do making sure you lot don’t get yourselves – and us! – imprisoned for life!”

“Queen of Elves?” Thorin croaked, seeing again the strange elven decorations on her clothes, the dress she had been wearing this morning. He thought he might be sick.

“To Elves, lying with each other is the act of marriage,” Dori explained pointedly. Fíli’s ears burned. “If she did sleep with him – ignoring the fact that he already had a wife and an Elf cannot marry twice – she would make herself his Queen.”

“Aunt Mori will be no one’s Queen but ours!” Kíli protested hotly. Thorin flinched. Had he been that transparent? Hiding his face behind a curtain of hair, he was determined not to answer his nephew’s statement either way.

“I think that’s up to your Uncle, the King, Kíli,” Dori replied. Kíli blushed a deep red. Thorin sighed heavily. Mori was a distraction even when she wasn’t here, exactly as he had realised she would be when he found himself reaching for the spectre of her, more than once pulling Dwalin into a snuggle during their long nights in Mirkwood. Sharing a glance with his most loyal friend, Thorin knew he needed to think about something else, needed to get them further towards the Long Lake.

“I think we should get a move on. Mori is not going to be catching us up, and daylight is wasting!” he barked, getting everyone moving again. He had to admit Dori’s reasoning was sound… but was the tailor right bout Elven marriage customs? Thorin didn’t remember ever learning about them, and Dori hadn’t been raised for a future of ruling and diplomacy. Stomping through the trees, Thorin’s mood only worsened as the day wore on.

 


 

 

“So, you bargained for a night of my time, Thranduil Aran,” you said, when you’d finished the lavish dinner – roast venison in a delicious gravy so good you wondered if they might part with a recipe. “How do you wish to spend it?”

“It’ll amuse me to watch you ride my battle-elk,” he replied, smirking, “after that, we shall see. It has been a long time since I had an invited Dwarf as a guest,” he toasted you wryly, “we’ll have to show you all the wonders of Mirkwood, after all.” You chuckled, raising your goblet in return as you tried to ignore the way the Prince was choking on his wine at his father’s words. How big did Elk grow in this blasted place?

 

Very big. Very, very big indeed, you thought, staring up at the beast they expected you to mount. It was as tall – possibly bigger, in fact – as the horse you had ridden to get here, and Elrohir and Elladan had had to help you onto the mount each morning and lift you down when you took rests.

 

The less said about the Elk-experience the better, you felt, weakly landing on the mercifully solid ground. An elk was not like a horse. You wondered if the Company had made it to Laketown yet, hoping they appreciated this sacrifice of your dignity for the sake of a Quest you weren’t even part of anymore, but knowing that it was more likely that Thorin was cursing your name, calling your actions a betrayal of trust.

Elladan and Elrohir returned to Imladris the next morning, though you had been invited to stay; await the outcome of the attempt on Erebor. Part of you wanted to run away, find your way to Laketown and the Company, reassure yourself that they were no worse for wear because of their short imprisonment, but you also knew that Thorin would not welcome your appearance among them. He might have thought fondly of you in his prison cell, but you knew you had committed a grievous sin in his eyes by bargaining with the elf he hated above all others. You tried not to remember the way he had looked at you when you appeared in his cell, tried not to recall the way his eyes had burned into yours this morning; you had realised what he must think you had offered in return for his release. The thought made you slightly ill. You weren’t shy about your physical needs, of course, but an elf? Surely, even Thorin couldn’t think so low of you as to believe you’d want an Elf? Never-mind the whole marriage aspect of such a deal – Thranduil had spoken of his late Queen – you didn’t even want to consider how such a union would work. Elves were so… pointy. Bony, even, and far too tall to be even remotely attractive. No, if you’d had to sleep with someone for reasons other than lust or love… actually, you didn’t think you could do it.

As the days passed, Thorin’s blue eyes haunted you.

 

 

You went with the army, of course you did, to see how the people of Esgaroth fared after a Dragon had taken everything from them – a familiar tale to your ears, even if you’d been born almost thirty years after the sacking of Erebor. Handing out food and blankets, you couldn’t help but stare towards the Mountain, longing for some sign of life from within, any sign at all that Smaug had not simply roasted your loved ones as an aperitif before he brought destruction and death to the Men.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

You couldn’t bear to look at them, standing on the ramparts far above as Bard and Thranduil tried to negotiate a fair settlement. You caught sight of Nori, looking wan, but still trying to appear unaffected. Ori looked frightened, while Dori had retreated into himself, his countenance as unyielding as the Stone. You hardly recognised them all, wanted to weep when you looked at Thorin’s dear face and realised that you didn’t know the dwarf that lived behind those blue eyes anymore. Looking to the lads, you felt some hope for peaceful solutions, but they were dashed entirely when the Hobbit – curse him, did he know what he had done?! You should have let them beat him the night he tried to touch you! – spoke out. You snarled, for a moment feeling that Thorin was right to threaten his life, how could he simply give away the King’s Jewel, the right to rule Erebor?! Gandalf’s temper did not cool yours, though you calmed enough to realise that the Hobbit probably wasn’t aware of what his actions meant.

“Mori!” he cried, spotting you among the Elves when he finally reached the ground. He actually looked pleased to see you, a feeling you could in no way reciprocate, staring aghast at the small fool.

“Bilbo Baggins,” you replied coldly, watching his face fall as your tone registered. “What have you done?” You stared at him, nearly forcing the words past your clenched teeth, watched the realisation in his face, watched him begin to understand just how far-reaching the consequences of his actions might be.

“I just… I just wanted peace. I-I Thought Thorin would listen, would trade with them for the Arkenstone,” he pleaded, but you did not care.

“Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit of the Shire, Traitor to Erebor and the Folk of Durin,” you intoned, hardly recognizing your own voice, “you have doomed us all. May your name be cursed until the end of days.” Turning away, you couldn’t bear to look at him, you found your path blocked by Thranduil’s massive elk, the Elvenking staring down at you with a puzzled frown.

“What do you mean, Lady Móeidr?” he asked quietly. You hadn’t been party to their plans before, busy sorting out food and warm clothes for the starving refugees, otherwise you could have told them what a spectacularly bad plan they had concocted.

“Bard is currently the King of Erebor, in the eyes of our people!” you hissed, glaring death at the Hobbit who began to tremble. “The Traitor has made a Man a King of Dwarrow through deceit and trickery. Mahal curse his name!” you spat at the ground by his feet. Bilbo looked near tears, but you did not care. Thranduil studied you.

“I have a proposition, Lady Móeidr,” he said calmly, waving for Bard to join you as he dismounted, leading the way into his tent.

“What’s going on?” The Bargeman asked. You bowed to him – he had earned your respect for killing Smaug, though you felt sick at the thought that you owed him obeisance as your King.

“I want you to give the Arkenstone to Lady Móeidr.” Thranduil said. You whirled to stare at him in surprise. The Elvenking smirked.

“But she is a Dwarf, just like Thorin,” Bard objected.

“Exactly. He may listen to her, more than he would you or I,” Thranduil continued smoothly. You gaped incredulously. Bard frowned, studying you like you were a particularly odd specimen of fish. You scowled at him.

“It’s worth a try,” he finally admitted, pulling out the shining stone. You stared. Awe filled you. Suddenly, you understood.

“So… soft,” you whispered, hardly daring to reach for it. “It sings…” you fell to your knees, almost wanting to weep, “if this is not the love of the Stone Mother… I would not know what it was.” you whispered, cradling the Arkenstone in your palms. Pressing your forehead against the stone, you closed your eyes and let the gentle hum of a Mountain fill your soul.

 


 

You felt nearly dazed by the beauty of the Arkenstone, the peaceful hum it let you hear. Sitting on the elk didn’t even scare you as you felt the small weight nestled between your breasts.

When Thranduil’s Elves helped you down, you felt slightly amazed that you managed to stand on your own two feet, surrounded by the love of your home.

“Mori!” Nori called, waving. You returned the gesture, though he turned to call for the others before he could see it. You stared at your boots, listening to their loud exclamations of surprise; maybe they hadn’t spotted you earlier.

“Thorin…” you called weakly, hardly daring to lift your head to see the stranger that responded to the name. “Thorin!” you tried again, your voice stronger. The gentle hum brought you strength, you felt, giving you silent support.

“Mori!” the cry was returned; you recognised the voices of Ori and Dori.

“Thorin!” you shouted once more, knowing someone would have gone to fetch him. The Arkenstone glowed. The Mountain did not want her beloved children to die, wanted her halls filled once more with laughter and light and love. Pulling your gauntlet off with your teeth, you reached into your gambeson, pulling the Arkenstone from where it had nested between your breasts but not feeling able to stand not being in contact with it, even if it was only through the simple leather of a glove. Holding it high, you called for him again.

“My Queen,” he greeted you, his deep voice caressing the title, but you didn’t notice the avaricious glint in his eyes as they landed on you.

“Thorin! The Arkenstone…” you cried, tears of joy running down your cheeks, running into the tightly woven braids of your beard. “It sings, Thorin, it sings!” You held it towards him, wanting him to come to you, join you, share the joy you were feeling. A whole Mountain was too much for one Dwarf.

“Mori, come into the Mountain,” he asked, but his voice was not the voice you loved, the voice that would tease you or laugh with you. It was the voice of the stranger who’d taken the place of your Thorin, the discordance breaking through your happiness.

“I… I cannot,” you whispered, clenching the stone in your fist. “Thorin, please, these Men need our help, our aid. I cannot stand by to watch children freeze!”

“I see…” he said quietly, coldly, “you, too, have betrayed me, falling in bed with our enemies.” You gaped at him, catching sight of Nori and Fíli restraining Dori, who looked like he wanted to punch Thorin at the accusation. “You and the Burglar; perhaps you schemed it together? Tell me, when did one such as he earn your love? Or was it the Elf? No matter.”

“Thorin, I… I never,” you tried, but he turned away, heading back into the Mountain once more. “Thorin! Please!” you begged, though you knew he could not hear you. Nori shot you a look you’d never seen before, pure despair on his face. Looking at Kíli and Fíli, you felt your heart break at their despondent expressions.

“I’m sorry, Auntie,” Kíli mouthed, the cry of a raven stealing his words before they reached you. You nodded tightly, returning the stone to its place beneath your clothes, the gentle hum not enough to soothe your heart-ache. Falling to your knees, you heard nothing, saw nothing, did not feel the people moving around you.

 


 

A warhorn sounded its clarion call. Vaguely, you heard Thranduil bandy words with a Dwarf… Dáin??

Lurching to your feet, you pushed through the Elven ranks, staring at the Lord of the Iron Hills.

“Well, who’s this you’ve kidnapped?!” Dáin bellowed angrily at Thranduil. You gaped at him. You had heard stories of Dís’ valiant cousin, one of the Heroes of Azanulbizar, though you had never met him, being unfortunately away the few times he came to visit Thorinuldûm.

“Mori, my Lord,” you answered, bowing, “And you are Princess Dís’ cousin. I have heard much of you.” You could not utter Thorin’s name. The Dwarf in that Mountain was not Thorin, did not deserve to be called by his name.

“This is Lady Móeidr,” Thranduil said grandly, “bearer of the Arkenstone and Queen of Durin’s Folk.” You stiffened. You weren’t… not really… right? Dáin gaped.

“I am not!” you cried, glaring at the elf. “Thorin is King! YOU made me hold the Stone!”

“Aye, I have heard of you, Mori, Queen of Durin’s Folk,” Dáin laughed. You whirled, glaring at him. It was not funny! “Seems I remember a small bird telling me one day you’d be Queen with or without a Stone in your hand,” he chuckled, winking at you. You gaped. What in Durin’s name…

The ground shook.

 


 

 

Erebor was far gloomier than Ori had ever imagined. They were huddled together, waiting for something they didn’t know, waiting for something to change. They had seen Mori out there, the three of them, watched her smile as she held the Arkenstone, asked Thorin – pleaded with him – to honour his word, to join her… Ori wished he had been brave enough to do as Bilbo had done, scaled the side of the Mountain. Perhaps, then, he would not be sitting here, listening to a battle his sister could not win, praying  that she would keep fighting, keep living, praying that she would be alright. Dori’s face seemed to be carved in stone, his expression made of granite, but Ori knew the pain in his eyes, did not lift his head to see his own despair reflected at him from the eyes of his brothers.

 

Nori paced. He had been snarling at first, cursing everyone and anyone and Thorin in particular, but he had fallen silent, fallen into a dark place where there were no words as Mori’s crumbling form and Dwalin’s grey face played over and over in his head. He knew, better than anyone, how she looked at the King, why his harsh words in Rivendell had carved such scars in her heart; he knew, but he had sworn never to speak of it, let her pretend that what she felt was merely friendship, knowing that it would hurt too much to acknowledge the feelings that would never lead anywhere. At least, he had thought they wouldn’t, until he caught Thorin watching Mori laugh, had watched the way he held her as they played in the fountain. He, out of all of them, had seen his King’s heart break when they overheard her make her deal with Thranduil, and he had been angry that Thorin could believe she would go that far, until he realised that the King did not blame Mori, but himself. His words on the way to Laketown were a reminder, even though he had felt good snarling at the prince for being a fool. Pacing angrily, Nori hardly noticed the way Thorin entered the room, belatedly drawing one of his many daggers, ready to defend Kíli if his hothead ways were about to get him killed by his own uncle.

 

 

Dori was scared. He was scared in a way he had never been before, not even when they woke the dragon. He had thought he knew what it was to fear for his siblings, had thought he had prayed for their safety and well-being before, but it was nothing compared to the fear he felt now. He could feel Ori tremble beside him, but he did not have the wherewithal to pull him close, to promise him that their flightier siblings would be fine, like he used to do when Mori went off with the caravans and Nori left for Mahal-knew-where. Dori was scared, sitting here in ancient armour, wearing the best protection they had been able to find in the royal armoury, and wishing beyond wishing that he had been able to dress Mori in better mail too, offer her the shelter of his strong arms, the safety of another fighter to stand with. Dori was scared.

 


 

 

The battle was raging, chaotic around you as you wielded your twin swords. You’d stuck by Dáin, who proved to be a bonny fighter, just as the stories said. Chopping down orcs with a mindless focus, you fought for your life, the lives of those around you. At your breast, the Arkenstone rested, its light still filling your soul, though the hum was not distracting. Still, you were being forced back, back towards the Mountain, forced back by the hordes coming at you.

 


 

“I’m sorry,” Thorin said, trying to speak clearly. It didn’t quite work as he stared at the three Ri’s. Only Ori looked up. Dori remained staring at nothing, and Nori had been glaring at him since he stepped away from Kíli. “About Mori,” he whispered, knowing that he did not deserve to speak her name after what he had shouted about her as he walked away from the ramparts.

“It’s not for us to grant you forgiveness,” Ori finally whispered.

“No, Ori,” Thorin sighed, “but I would like it said, if I do not have the chance later… I am sorry for the wrongs I have done her.” He knew his survival was unlikely, though he hoped to see her again, but he did not wish to leave life without admitting at least his remorse.

“I will tell her.” Nori responded, exchanging a hard nod with the King Under the Mountain.

 


 

A horn sounded, ringing out across the field.

 

Blood streaked your face, a cut above your eyebrow making you half-blind at times, continuing to blink away the warm trickle of blood. Dáin’s hammer was making mincemeat of his enemies, blunt force and strength a good match for your speedy slashing. Usually, you fought with Dwalin, whose style was similar, and it was easy to fall into old patterns, swinging your blades in deadly arcs as you whirled through one battle after the other, spreading death as you went.

“Cousin!” Dáin cried, making you whirl around at the sudden lull of oncoming enemies. You blinked. “What took you so long?!” Thorin laughed. He laughed. You stared.

“Why aren’t you wearing armour?” you asked, dumbly, lost in staring at those blue eyes, those eyes that were warm and alive and familiar. “Thorin?”

“Mori…” he croaked, equally lost in staring at you. Hope burst into life in your chest, a smile instantly appearing on your face.

“You’re… Mahal, Thorin, you’re you!” you cried. Suddenly he was there, Orcrist dripping with black blood in one hand, while his other hand rose slowly, reaching up to cup your face, his thumb wiping away a bloody tear from your cheek.

“Mori,” he murmured, pressing his forehead against yours, “I’m sorry, so sorry, please forgive me.” You could only nod, still staring into those mesmerizing blue eyes, swirling with emotion.

“Oy, Cousin, get a move on, this is a war, if’n ye haven’ noticed!” Dáin bellowed, startling you both.

Suddenly Thorin’s arm was around your waist, his lips warm and soft and Oh!... you mewled lightly, burying your hands in his dark hair as you kissed him back for all you were worth, wondering how you’d ever gone one day without doing so and deciding to remedy the oversight immediately. “Thorin,” you sighed into his mouth, making him kiss you again.

“If you don’t keep her, you’re a bigger fool than your sister thinks, Cousin,” Dáin commented wryly, smashing in an orc’s skull as he spoke, pulling his war-hammer free with a loud grunt.

“My Queen,” Thorin murmured, stealing your lips again. “I will find you,” he swore, kissing you desperately one last time before reluctantly letting you go. “Guard her, Cousin,” he ordered, clasping Dáin’s arm. The fiery Lord of the Iron Hills nodded, though he had no time to speak, as the enemies surged against you once more. Between cutting off one head and the next, Thorin was gone, and you were too busy to search for him.

“Mo!” Nori yelled, slamming into you for a quick hug before launching himself at an enemy behind you.

“Fancy meeting you here, nadad,” you grinned turning to flash him a smile. Dáin bellowed something and then you knew no more.

Chapter Text

You woke in a hazy light. It seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, casting no shadows. A voice was singing in the distance, but you couldn’t focus on the words, had no idea what was going on. You couldn’t move, but on second thought, you didn’t actually want to, feeling content to lie on… a mattress? You weren’t sure, entirely, but it didn’t matter. The light shone. You thought it was growing brighter, but the singing – was it a male or female voice? You couldn’t tell – didn’t change. You felt… heavy, you finally decided, like after a hard day’s work when you fell into bed for well-earned rest.

Móeidr, the singing voice called. It took you a while to realise that it was your name.

“Amad?” you asked – or tried to, you didn’t think your mouth moved. The singing gave way to a fond laugh.

Queen of Erebor, the voice replied, but somehow it didn’t feel like an introduction. You will do.

With that cryptic seal of approval, the voice went back to singing, the soft tune slowly lulling you back to sleep.

Daughter, a different voice spoke, rumbling like thunder and deep like the roots of a mountain. You had never heard it before, but you knew it instantly, knew it with every part of your being.

“Mahal,” you breathed, trying to force your eyes to open, though you didn’t manage.

You are badly harmed, ‘ubnabun[1], he murmured, and you felt what you could only call a hand cradle your body – did you have a body? – lift you off the ‘mattress’ as the Maker hummed. You felt His touch, his skin like living stone, like granite that could move. It was not unpleasant, though you wondered what he was doing to you, feeling his fingertips stroking your head, your spine and all the other places that made up your body. Somehow, you realised that you were naked, but the thought didn’t bother you as much as you would have assumed it should, being uncovered before someone you couldn’t see. In his wake, he left tingles, revealing limbs you had forgotten you possessed. You tried to open your eyes again. The Maker chuckled, but it was not unkind. Only those who are waking may look upon my form, he chided, like you were attempting to look in your Yule stocking before time and he was Dori set to make sure you didn’t know what Amad had made you.

“Am I… dead?” you asked, though you did not feel your lips move, nor heard the sound of your voice. Somewhere, the singing continued. If this was death, it was quite peaceful. Somehow, you’d expected more noise, from a Hall full of all the Dwarrow that had ever died. The tingles continued, an oddly pleasurable sensation – you wondered if you should be embarrassed to enjoy it, but decided not to ask; there were only so many things one dared ask of their creator, and inconvenient arousal probably was not on the list of permissible topics.

Do you want to be? Mahal asked, continuing his work and interrupting your train of thought. You thought He sounded amused, somehow.

You considered it for a long time, listening to him hum as he worked, the deep tone mingling harmoniously with the lighter notes of the song – it was a lady singing, you thought, pleased to have realised it. Part of you wanted to meet your amad. A larger part of you wanted to punch your adad, but suddenly a vision of blue eyes flashed across your mind. Thorin, you thought, with a start of recognition, as those eyes stared at you in a thousand iterations, conveying every emotion under the sun. Next, you were hit with a powerful memory; hiding in Dori’s arms as a small dwarfling, clinging to his strong arms for safety, when amad argued with Ori’s adad. With it came Dori’s scent, that unique blend of tea, silk dye and soap that had always been Dori. Hot on his heels was the crinkly sound of Ori’s parchment, his excited glee whenever you or Nori brought him a new kind of pigment for ink, carefully stored in your packs and brought home from far off lands. Nori’s face entered your mind then, sharing one of those glances that communicated everything in the space of seconds as you stared into each other’s grey eyes. You wondered if he would still put his hair up in peaks if you died; the style had been a dare you’d once made, but he’d liked it so much, it had become something you shared, reinforcing the twin-thing, though you only bothered with the peaks for special occasions, preferring a bulky mohawk braid for everyday life. More images joined the first ones, moving so swiftly they were nearly a blur; memories of the mundane of life in Ered Luin, the everyday love of your siblings and friends, the fights you’d been in, the places and people you’d seen on your travels, the wide-eyed wonder on small faces when you told stories of far-off places.

You would have to leave them behind, He murmured gently, wiping away the tears that fell at the thought. Never seeing your siblings again, never getting to kiss Thorin – you had not had enough of that – never giggling with Dís, never scolding the lads for one of their pranks, never baking cookies only to have Dwalin show up and steal them… your mind whirled through memory after memory.

“I want to live.”

You heard the words, though you did not remember deciding to speak them, felt them resound in your soul. The singing lady laughed, a sound that made the light brighter, somehow. Mahal hummed slowly. For a long while, he said nothing. You considered begging, but you had a feeling it wouldn’t matter to the Maker how much you wanted to return to those who were waiting for you; waiting for you to wake up – had you already died? – you panicked slightly at the thought.

So be it.

 

 

[1] Tiny stone

Chapter Text

“No…” Thorin moaned, when he saw her, pale and still, her auburn hair flowing across Dori’s thick arm. The cut eyebrow had clotted, but her hair was matted along the side of her face; a bloody wound on her temple still seeping red. “Mori!” he cried, fighting to get up off the cot where Óin was trying to fix his foot. “Mori, please,” he begged, but she did not stir, Dori’s silent sobs disturbing a lock of hair, making it trail across her closed eye.

“She’s not dead, Thorin,” Nori choked out, “but we can’t wake her.”

“Get the Elf,” he ordered, staring at the thief, “please. Tell him… anything. For her life, anything.” It was the last words he spoke, staring at her gentle breathing as though he could make the small motion of her chest continue by his willpower alone. Dori undressed her, letting Óin look her over for damages, but other than the head-wound there was little but a few bruises to care for. The Arkenstone shone on her breast, but Thorin ignored it aside from telling Dori not to move it. He had not been the one to give it to her, but Mori should be Queen – would be Queen, he swore – and the Arkenstone should be hers. He saw again the way she had smiled when she’d spoken of the song – he had touched it before, before the dragon, and it had not sung for him, which made him wonder if the Mountain thought him unworthy of the seat of his forebears; yet he dared not reach to touch it, dared not test whether the song would fill his soul as he had seen it in Mori. It hardly mattered; Thorin considered himself unworthy of the Throne, and even if his apology was accepted by the small Hobbit, he did not think it would be enough to erase the shame of his actions over the past month. Dwalin had punched his good shoulder – Thorin had felt he’d earned a punch to the bad one, but Dwalin wasn’t cruel – and he knew they would eventually be alright; he had not wanted to harm Dwalin in the Throne Room, though he seemed unable to stop himself from reaching for his sword – his words meant as a warning as much as they might be perceived as a threat.

“You asked for me, King Thorin?” Thorin had never been so happy to see anyone as he was to look upon the Elvenking in that moment, had never heard a voice as sweet as the haughty drawl that filled him with a burning sense of hope.

“For Mori,” he whispered, staring at the Elf; uncaring that his heart was laid bare before those ancient eyes. “Please. Help her.” Thranduil gazed at him for what felt like eternity, but was probably no longer than a minute, turning his face towards Mori instead. He hummed, stretching out long pale fingers, resting his hand on her forehead and closing his eyes.

“Móeidr Queen,” he murmured, “where have you gone?” Later, Thorin would have sworn Mori began glowing, just like the elf; lit from within by starlight, the green walls around them brightening. The elf was singing; Thorin did not understand the words, though he felt an indefinable sense of power in the chant. Thranduil’s eyes opened, staring directly at Thorin. He did not speak, and Thorin felt absolute certainty that he didn’t even see the Dwarrow in the tent, paying no heed to Thorin’s own pleading gaze, nor to the way Ori was whimpering in Dori’s arms, while Nori was cursing at the healer trying to tend him.

“Uncle!” Fíli cried out, waking in his own cot.

“Hush, Fíli,” Thorin croaked, reaching for the lad to press him back down. “You’ll tear out Óin’s stitches.”

“Kíli?” his oldest nephew begged, staring up at him as he fought the draw of the poppymilk Óin had given him. Thorin sighed.

“He’s fine; we were only worried about you.” There had been so much blood; so much blood Thorin had felt certain that death had come for his golden prince… but it had not. “Kíli’s got a broken arm,” he murmured, squeezing Fíli’s hand. His nephew tried to return the touch, but his fingers lacked their customary strength, Thorin knew. Fíli would be weak for a time, but the blade that had pierced his side had missed all major organs, simply slicing through skin and muscle. “He’s in the food tent, I think.” Fíli nodded, subsiding into drugged sleep once more and Thorin’s attention fixed inexorably on Mori’s rising and falling chest; was her breathing slower?

 

“Cousin,” Dáin’s usually boisterous voice was comparatively quiet as he shouldered his way into the small sickroom that the Company had claimed for their own. Thorin didn’t even have to will to glare at him, the anger he felt smouldering in his breast not willing to catch flame. If she died… “I’m sorry,” Dáin continued solemnly. “Does… is there… hope?” he asked, looking torn. Thorin wondered what his face was telling his deceptively perceptive cousin in that moment, but he had no mind to formulate an answer, lost in staring at Mori. The wound on her temple had finally stopped bleeding, though the bandage showed a stain in the middle.

“We don’t know yet, cousin,” Dwalin murmured, startling Thorin who hadn’t even realised that the warrior had resumed his usual silent position at Thorin’s side.

“She has to…” he trailed off, unable to voice even the possibility that she might not. Even if the kiss had been a fluke and she was still angry with him, so long as she was alive to be angry with him, Thorin would take it; as long as Mori simply existed, his life would not be so… empty.

 

Thranduil’s eyes closed, and he seemed to sway gently. The light diminished, leaving them bathed only in the gentle glow of the Arkenstone. He moved slowly, pulling his hand back from Mori’s face with what Thorin might have called a caress and a soft smile, if he had had the presence of mind to care. He stared. The Elvenking’s eyes opened again, but this time the sharp gaze was present, the mind behind the blue eyes alert.

“So be it…” he breathed, stumbling back from the cot. Dori’s quick action kept him from falling, the tailor guiding the Elvenking to a chair in the corner. He fetched him a cup of water, helping him sip. Thranduil’s hands trembled.

“Will…” he tried, but the question would not pass the guard of his teeth. The elf held up a hand, making everyone in the tent fall silent.

“I think so,” he finally muttered, wiping a loose strand of hair away from his blood-spattered face. “It was… the oddest sensation I have ever felt.” The Dwarrow simply stared. Ori was still clinging to Nori, whose face seemed grey as he stared at his sister.

“What did you do?” Thorin heard himself ask, without choosing the words.

“I don’t… know. There was light, and singing,” Thranduil mumbled, his gaze distant as though he was staring at something only he could see. “Lady Mori was there, and a presence I could only call… Aulë, I think, though I cannot say how that could be. I- I made her remember.” He swallowed. Thorin copied the nervous move.

“Remember… what?” Some people with head injuries were never the same; just look at Bifur, Thorin thought. Would Mori be one of those?

“You,” Thranduil sighed, getting to his feet. “The rest is up to her, King Thorin; the choice is up to her.”

“What choice?!” Thorin called after him, as the elf ducked out of the doorway – he didn’t really need to, it was high enough for an elf to enter the sickroom comfortably – but Thranduil did not turn around.

“Life,” he said, his voice floating back to the group of Dwarrow who were now staring horrified at each other, “or death.” The wounded noise he heard; not quite a scream, but not a whimper either, didn’t end until Thorin realised it was coming from his own chest, turning back to Mori as though she might have perished in the seconds since he last looked at her. Dori was cleaning her hair, the dark rust colour of dried blood turning the water in his bowl red, as he combed out the auburn strands. Nori had taken her hand, staring just as intently on her chest as Thorin himself.

“Don’t!” Thorin cried, when Dori made to move the Arkenstone from her breast; she had apparently stuffed it into her breast-band, and a distant part of him knew it couldn’t be comfortable for her, but a larger part of him felt utter revulsion at the thought of taking the stone from her; in his mind, the Arkenstone belonged to Mori, his Queen… whether she lived or died. “Leave it, Dori,” he muttered, when his loud voice shocked them all. “The Arkenstone. Leave it with her; she owns it.” The Heart of the Mountain, he thought wryly. It was a fitting tribute for the one who held the Heart of the Mountain’s King. Dori nodded, but didn’t reply, though neither ri-brother objected when Thorin hobbled over to sit in the chair on Mori’s other side, stroking her palm gently.

They waited. Thorin would have liked to say – and it would have sounded better in a song – that they waited still as statues, all eyes on Mori, but it would have been a lie. As more wounded soldiers made it through the Gates and into the purview of Óin and a handful of healers from the Iron Hills, the sounds of busy hands interrupted the silence. Someone brought them food, and at some point Dáin disappeared along with Balin, but Thorin didn’t care. He looked up when Kíli returned, but he only managed a pale smile in the direction of his nephew, who was quietly filled in by Ori before he collapsed on Fíli’s cot, making Thorin think of the way they would sleep closely entwined as dwarflings when Fíli just protested sleepily and wrapped his arm around his younger brother.

Mori squeezed his hand.

Thorin looked up, gasping, to meet the equally startled gaze of Nori, who had been holding her other hand. Turning his face slowly, he feared what he would see. Mori squeezed his hand again.

“Mori,” Nori croaked, while Thorin could only stare at her, speechless. Mori smiled gently, tugging on Nori’s hand.

“Hey, nadad,” she whispered hoarsely, “fancy meeting you here.” Nori gave a watery chuckle, leaning in to press his forehead against hers. Dori was openly weeping behind him, Ori’s head pressed into his shoulder and Thorin felt like he might be able to breathe again. Nori’s shoulders shook, and Mori’s fingers remained wrapped around his thumb, a remind to Thorin’s wildly beating heart that she was there, she was alive.

“Mori,” he finally whispered, when the thief sat up, wiping his face with his grimy sleeve. Thorin didn’t dare to hug her, though he wanted nothing more, wanted to hold her as tightly as he could, kiss her like he had dared to do in the middle of battle.

“Thorin,” she replied, biting her lip. All his attention zeroed in on that spot, the contrast between her white teeth and the red lip, turning slightly bloodless with the pressure.

“Mori…” he repeated, hardly recognising his own voice. He felt her tug on his hand.

“Come here, Thorin,” she murmured, and he could do that, certainly, he was capable of following that simple command… right?

Thorin remained upright, stiff as a statue. Mori’s brows furrowed.

“Thorin?” This time, his name was a question he didn’t know how to answer, reaching out the smooth the lines between her brows with a gentle touch. “What are you doing?” she smiled, tugging on his other hand again. His grip tightened, his free hand sliding down to cup her cheek as he leaned in until her grey eyes filled his view completely.

“Never scare me like this,” he murmured, stroking her cheek and tracing the line of her jaw, marvelling at the softness of her beard. “Never again, Móeidr,” he repeated, “promise me.” He stared at her, watched as her eyes turned almost silver, crinkling around the corners.

“Thorin?” she asked, her breath whispering across his lips. He nodded. “Kiss me.” He heard some far-off groan, but it was lost to his mind when he finally moved the last distance between them, slanting his mouth across hers. She had been sweet the last time, sweet and a little hesitant, but this kiss was filled with fire and love and Thorin couldn’t get enough, sliding his hand into her hair and seeking out every part of her mouth with his tongue, his own hair falling like a curtain between them and the rest of the room. Mori chuckled against his lips, squeezing his hand gently. Thorin pulled back slightly

“My Mori,” he murmured, kissing her again just because he could. “My Queen.” Mori’s eyes widened.

“I am not!” she objected, releasing his hand to lift the Arkenstone from her breast. “Take it, Thorin,” she murmured, pressing it into his hand. Thorin chuckled. “It’s your throne,” she insisted, “I was only holding it for a little while, I swear.” He didn’t like the anxiety in her face, the way he could feel her heart race beneath the heel of his hand where it rested against her neck.

“I will take it from you,” he murmured, pleased that she responded to his kisses still, “but you would still be my Queen, love, even if I do not deserve you.” Mori froze beneath him.

“Thorin…” she repeated, “Are you… what are you doing?”

“I was kissing you,” Thorin replied, feeling nearly giddy with relief. “And I think I just implied that you should marry me. Make it official, as it were.” He kissed her again, stroking her cheek.

“O-Official?” she stammered, and Thorin felt the heat of her blush against his fingertips.

“Yes.” He nodded; it sounded like a plan. “As Dwalin will tell you – because he’s evil like that – I’ve wanted you to be my Queen since… well,” Thorin frowned, considering.

“I’d say nigh a century, give or take,” Dwalin replied matter-of-factly somewhere behind him. Thorin started; he’d quite forgotten that there were others present. He felt the heat rise in his own cheeks, but he didn’t raise his head to glare at his old friend, simply stared at Mori.

“You… want to marry me?” she asked, lifting her hand to trace his face. Thorin turned his head, pressing a kiss into her palm. He nodded. Mori’s eyebrow lifted. Thorin began to feel like this wasn’t going to plan – not that he had had a plan, really, a small voice in the back of his head added. “And this is your idea of a marriage proposal?!” she asked, gaping up at him. Thorin closed his eyes; things were definitely not going the way he had dreamed when he allowed himself to dream of such things. “Look at me!” she snapped.

“Móeidr, daughter of Dagni,” he interrupted whatever she wanted to say, speaking quickly as he tried to salvage whatever fondness she still felt for him. “I have kept my silence, and if you do not accept, I shall speak of this never again, but I love you, as I have loved you, and as I will continue to love you. There is little to say that you don’t already know, and little to give that is not already freely given. I come to you as any Dwarf comes to his love. I swear to keep you and hold you, comfort and tend you, protect you and shelter you, for all the days of my life. Will you marry me?” He stared into her eyes, hardly daring to blink. Mori looked stunned.

“Oh, Mahal’s Beard,” Dwalin groused, “just accept already, we all know you’re mad for each other.” Thorin lifted his face to glare at his unrepentant Captain, but his ire was diverted by the way Mori’s fingers tangled in his hair, drawing him back to her mouth for a kiss that stole his breath away.

“Yes.” She whispered, when he finally had to pull back, feeling dizzy. “Yes, I will marry you, my clot-heid King,” she chuckled, kissing him again, “but don’t you ever dare try to banish me for my own good again!” Thorin nodded fervently, pulling her off the cot and into his arms. Mori went willingly, her solid form warm against his chest. A loud throat clearing interrupted him before his hand could move lower than the small of her back, making Thorin start guiltily, lifting his head to stare at Dori’s stern glare of disapproval.

“Hardly the place or time, Mori!” he exclaimed, gesturing wildly. Beside him, Nori was grinning; his greatest source of amusement was putting bees in Dori’s bonnets and Thorin had just managed spectacularly. Mori moved slightly, before she froze. The beads in her hair clacked together when she turned her face to star at him. Thorin ducked his head shyly, silently gesturing at her shift-clad body. Mori’s cheeks glowed slightly, but she settled more firmly in his lap, looking up him in a way that begged him to kiss the smirk off her lips. Thorin obliged dutifully.

“I think there’s no better time to kiss my future husband, Dori,” Mori stated calmly. Dori spluttered. If possible, Nori’s grin widened, though Thorin didn’t miss the speaking glance he sent towards the dagger that had suddenly appeared in his fist. His free hand signed only ‘or else’, but Thorin understood clearly. He nodded.

“Do you feel well enough, amrâlimê?” he murmured into her hair. Mori yawned.

“Hungry,” she admitted.

“Dori!” Thorin called, interrupting the rant no one was paying attention to. Dori shut up. Little Ori stared wide-eyed at Thorin. “Your sister – and Queen – is hungry. Could you get her some food?” Dori’s mouth opened and closed a few times but then he simply nodded, ducking out of the small room. Dwalin sighed.

“About time, Thorin,” he murmured, punching Thorin’s good shoulder lightly, “about bloody time.”

“Can you hear it singing?” Mori whispered suddenly, holding up the Arkenstone, its gentle glow bathing her hand and turning her skin milky pale. Thorin shook his head, still not quite daring to touch the shining gem. Mori kissed him, distracting him with her mouth as she placed the stone in his palm, holding it with him.

Thorin heard it.

Welcome home, my Children.

Chapter Text

The council meeting was running late; more than one belly had begun clamouring for sustenance. Old – and rather deaf, admittedly – Lord Haraldr of the Merchants’ Guild, seemed more than happy to continue discussing the newest trade agreement with Dale, even when every other member of the Council had long-since begun to fidget.

The King under the Mountain was not paying any mind to the speaker; Thorin had been staring into thin air for the better part of an hour. Instead, his thoughts were occupied with far more pleasant topics; the availability of different types of fish was not interesting enough to break him of his reverie.

He’d been thinking about her all afternoon.

The curve of her smile, the way her eyes narrowed at him when she saw right through one of his less-than-true stories, the feel of her head resting on his chest, her body warm and heavy with sleep, yet soft and pliant beneath his fingers, tracing the scars that showed her skill in battle. The softness of her hair, tickling his naked skin when she lay in his arms.

Of course, the hair was just one of the things he loved about his Queen, but as Haraldr continued to drone on about a minor quibble – usually Thorin would have cared, but right now, he was far more interested in letting his imagination roam unchecked – he began to daydream of playing with that hair.

Auburn curls, snaking their way around his fingers, catching the light of the fire – banked low, but more than enough for his eyes to see – springing back into tight coils every time he pulled a lock.

His grumbling belly, however, managed to tear through the pleasant imagery.

As the esteemed members of the Council filed out of the room – more than one Dwarf among them feeling grateful that Haraldr did not show up to all meetings – Thorin began looking forward to more than his supper.

Perhaps, soon, he would be able to take a day, to spend on nothing but her; he was certain their people would understand that even a King had to take time for his still-recently wedded wife. Truthfully, with the reconstruction efforts in Dale taking much of his time, and Balin forever scheduling more council meetings – ruling had not been this filled with minutiae when he was merely an exiled Prince, Thorin was sure – it had been far too long since he’d had time or energy for anything more than a sleepy peck or two. Of course, Mori taking up the duties of diplomacy with the Elvenking – a wise choice, everyone agreed – meant she was kept busy, too, but he had hoped to see her upon her return from Mirkwood this evening.

 

 

When they finally made it to dinner, Thorin realised that it had to be far later than anyone had assumed in the lightless – aside from lamps and torches, of course – council chamber. The kitchens were in the middle of clean-up – though some kind soul had ensured that a few plates of leftovers were available for the starving Dwarrow – and even though he was informed that the Queen and Princess Dís had presided over dinner as usual, they had retired hours before.

Tip-toeing into his – their – suite of rooms, Thorin caught a flash of that auburn hair, tousled and spread across the furs; she had not braided it for the night, or perhaps she had been trying to wait up for him.

Whatever her plan, she was fast asleep, a light frown on her lovely face.

Smoothing the frown with his thumb, he began to undress, banking the fire and performing all the rituals of night-time.

“You’re home.” No more than a whisper from the direction of the bed, a smile hidden in the words. Thorin finished pulling his tunic over his head, dropping the garment on the chair by the fire.

“You should be sleeping, amrâlimê,” he replied, opening his belt. The boots had been left by the door in an attempt not to wake her with the sound of the iron soles on stone.

“So should you, Thorin,” she murmured drowsily, watching him through half-lidded eyes as he finished undressing. One arm moved beneath the fur blankets, holding up a corner for him to slide into bed, the warmth of her body immediately enveloping him. Wrapping one arm around his middle and sighing contentedly, that auburn head soon found its familiar resting place on his shoulder, and Thorin’s arm curved down to gather her sturdy body close.

“Want me to braid your hair?” he asked, twisting a wayward curl between his fingers; it would be a cloud of unmanageable frizz in the morning if she went to sleep like this, but his only reply was a sleepy grumble. Thorin chuckled. Separating her long mane into three thick sections, he braided them swiftly, enjoying the glide of each lock through his fingers.

“I missed you at dinner,” the words were pressed into his chest, her lips gentle and soft as she kissed the skin above his heart.

“Council ran late,” Thorin sighed, tying off his plait with a bit of leather cord left on the nightstand. “I should have preferred your company.”

“You’d better.” Her husky laugh did funny things to his insides – not for the first time he praised whichever power had allowed him to find this dam, this love.

 

 

Nipping lightly at his nipple, you felt Thorin tense beneath your touch, the hands still tangled in your hair tightening involuntarily. Looking up at his face, you caught those deep blue eyes, seeing the echo of desire smouldering there, and ember just waiting to catch and burst into loving flame. Smiling, you traced the tip of your tongue around his nipple, feeling it pucker slightly.

“I though you were tired,” Thorin said, but you knew it was no more than a token objection, your only reply an elegant shrug as he finished the second braid, wrapping his fist around the plaited hair and tugging in light warning when you closed your teeth around the small bud of sensitive flesh.

Running your fingers lightly down his chest, playing with the dark and silver hair there, you raised one eyebrow at him in question.

“Are you tired, amrâlimê?” you asked, making him hiss when your fingers wrapped loosely around your prize. Whatever fatigue had made his footsteps heavy as he walked through the rooms was gone in moments, willing flesh hardening under your touch. Thorin laughed softly, a deep rumble reverberating through his chest

“I think I should be dead before I was too tired for that,” he replied, giving you a cheeky wink that made him look fifty years younger. Your hand sped slowly, teasing him with the ease of familiarity; you knew what he liked, but you kept your touch light and arrhythmic, making him growl playfully at you. “Wee tease!” he accused, tugging on the last braid as he finished. You grinned.

“You love it,” you challenged, sucking a kiss-shaped bruise into his chest. Obeying the next tug on your hair willingly, you kept stroking him slowly, moving your kisses to his neck. Thorin’s hands – free of their task at last – skated down your body, one wrapping around the swell of your buttock and the other cupping your face, bringing you up to his mouth for a kiss that made you groan softly. His tongue unerringly sought out the best places in your mouth, tasting lightly of ale and stew, while the hand that alternated between stroking your arse cheek and pinching it lightly, pulled you fully on top of him.

“Oh, I’ve no complaints,” he assured you, smiling against your mouth and accepting the kiss you gave him in return. Both his hands were kneading your butt, making you move on top of him with delicious friction, and you let go of his thick hammer with some reluctance, steadying yourself on his shoulders. Hissing at a particularly pleasant glide, you nipped at his ear, tugging playfully at the silver cuff that decorated it. Thorin moaned, turning his considerable talent to torturing your neck, his beard rasping against yours as his lips and teeth made sure that no one who looked closely tomorrow would be in doubt of your current activities. “Especially when you,” the deep groan that interrupted his words when you sucked the skin that hid his pulse from view was immensely satisfying, “do that. Mahal, lass.” Increasing the pressure of your lips – repaying him for any marks that would make Dís grin knowingly at you in the morning was only fair, after all – you squeezed his hips between your thighs, feeling the soft scratch of his chest hair against your chest where the wide neckline of your shift did not cover you.

One of Thorin’s hands left your arse, trailing up your back and taking the soft linen with it, revealing all of your form to his hungry blue gaze. The fur blankets had been kicked off somewhere, but you were more than warm enough lying on top of him. Leaning back, you cupped your breasts, teasingly offering the view to the dwarf beneath you. Thorin leaned up, capturing one nipple in his warm mouth, that strong tongue skilfully playing with its captive until you moaned, wrapping your hands in his dark hair to keep him there, your hips rocking back and forth without command.

“Thoooorin,” you groaned, feeling more than hearing his chuckle, smothered by your breast. Lifting yourself, you kept one hand on his shoulder for balance, reaching beneath yourself with the other to grasp him firmly. Sinking down onto that thickness for the first time in too long – little more than a week, but too long nonetheless – made you gasp with pleasure. Thorin’s beard scratched lightly as he switched his attention to your other breast, his hand clamped tight around your buttock.

“So good,” he purred, kissing your skin gently as you took him as deeply as he’d go, both of you groaning at the sensation.

Pulling on his hair, tumbling over his shoulders, you tilted his head back, bending to steal his lips in a kiss that quickly turned needy.

“More, husband,” you said, but Thorin already knew what you needed, nipping a final time at your breast before he turned his considerable strength to the task of lifting you, aiding your movements by gripping your hips tightly. Holding you, effortlessly, suspended at the tip of him, he looked up at you with a crooked smile. “Thorin!” you complained, frowning down at him as you tried to move, but found yourself captured.

He dropped you, thrusting upwards at the same time; delicious pressure and fullness that made you throw your head back with a moan, allowing him to lean up to lick your chest as he lifted you once more.

The rhythm was swift, after that, the sound of flesh slapping against flesh mingling with your pleasured mewls and Thorin’s deeper groans as you chased your pleasure together.

Tightening around him, your back bowing in an almost surprising climax, you cried out your joy to the ceiling, trembling violently as it rushed through your body, a blinding flash of lightning.

Coming to on your back, staring into Thorin’s blue eyes, you squeezed him with your legs, making him pick up the pace. Pulling on his hair, you brought him down for kisses that were more like panting into his mouth, feeling the lovely friction of his hair against your breasts with every thrust. Running one hand down his spine, skating across an old scar, you gripped his firm buttock tightly, using the strength of your legs to meet him thrust for thrust. Thorin’s growly groans tasted like love on your tongue but felt even better panted into your ear as you turned your mouth to his neck once more, the broken moans spilling from your lips only urging him on.

“Come to me,” you panted into his ear, nibbling at the rim. Thorin shuddered above you, his rhythm faltering slightly, one hand moving between you to find your ruby, touching you just the way you needed, spiralling higher and higher until he made you fly apart, a keening sound falling from your mouth to mix with his own groan of completion. His hips stuttered a few times, the feel of his seed spilling inside you heightening the pleasure as you floated along the wave of your climax.

Thorin’s soft lips against your shoulder slowly brought you down from the clouds, his arms taking some of his weight off you as he slipped out of your body. Tangling your hands in his hair, you pulled him up for a lazy kiss or three.

“Minx,” he accused, almost a laugh, as your hand darted down to pinch his buttock, shuddering again when your fingers ran across the marks you had left on his back. Pushing him off you, you sat up to survey the damage – four reddened scratches running from his shoulder nearly to his arse that you had no memory of making. Leaning down, you pressed a gentle kiss to each line, making him chuckle into the bedding.

“Better?” you teased.

“Come here, amrâlimê,” he rumbled, turning onto his back and holding his arms wide. “I shall have to do your braids again.” You went willingly, pulling up the fur blanket on the way and snuggling into the crook of his shoulder as his deft fingers redid the braid that had come undone.

“I don’t mind,” you yawned, pressing a kiss into his skin, “it was worth it.”

Thorin’s light rumbling laugh was the last sound you heard, the feel of his lips against the top of your head following you into the softness of sleep, his warm hand running along your spine as he relaxed into sleep with you.