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Long Live the Journey

Chapter Text

A flame casted a shadow over an old wrinkled face, the face that belonged to an old woman who was one of the bravest that lived in middle-earth. True, she did not have all knowledge or fighting skill but she did what many had ever over looked; she lived.

A scarlet quill from the feather of a phoenix touched the crumbled parchment. The page was painted with the ink swirls of a story only she could write. Her wrist moved fluidly writing each character with perfection. She now was going to tell the tale to herself, because you know she had forgotten. Even after her many adventure, over ageing she had begun to forget many things, but the tale she wrote would never fade, not even after so many years after her own death...


 

I write this in the name that I was born of instead of the many names and titles I have received over the years. These wrinkled pieces of papyrus are to list down my adventures and should it concern any one this may be quite the take for you to read. I have sailed far into paradise but it is true that not everyone lives forever, not even the high elves. Before I truly die, I want to write my life in fear it may be lost through word of mouth. So my dear reader, gaze and listen to the tweeting birds outside the garden, they may be the last good thing you hear.

Now, I have many names, one including was the name I was given by my parents when I was born. My Father Lord Girion house of Gilford was King of the city Dale, while my mother Lady Mélliorna ruled as Queen by his side. They were the most beautiful marriages in existence with the most forbidden wedding. Never was there a better pairing, not even between myself and loved ones. 

I as a young princess, I already had high expectations before I came out of my mothers’ womb into this world; I was after all the heir for Dale’s throne, destined to be a mighty Queen. I was bathed in the pools praising to the mighty Goddess Vána the Ever-young in the great hall of my people. At the time I was a tiny babe, but when I was in my childhood I adored the bells of the great hall. I can still remember the beautiful chimes the bells made. Hundreds of individuals had come to the great meeting to celebrate my royal birth. And out of all these hundreds came a few higher powers who blessed me with seven gifts for my new life to this strange world.

But through my years I have discovered one gift that I can never and will never have, I learnt that I will never be able to keep time. Time was never enough for me; it went so quickly before you knew it. I realized how precious life was, especially when you lose the life of someone you hold dear to. It was only when I was nine years of age that my mother fell ill and faded into the next life. Having to watch her suffer in sickness was a worse torture than having to walk on embroidering needles. She'd lay sick in bed all day. Her last words to me were, with my vague memory:

 “O my sweet and only child, if the dead can come back to Middle-earth and fly unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night, always…always. And when the warm breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath or the cold air on your tiny temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. My dearest daughter please do not mourn for me; think I am only gone for a little while and wait for me, for we shall meet again…I love you my little Darling…I love you.”

And then she looked to me smiling, as if everything she could say was in that one facial expression, and I didn’t cry. You see I did not see her die, the crying nurse maids pulled me aside. To be truthful, I didn’t know she was dying; I thought she just wanted to see me since she was so sick, I just thought she wanted me to play with her, but when her chamber door shut I came to realise in a few hours that it was the last time I’d ever see her again alive.

My mother the Queen was adored by all, as she was the one to unite Dale to the elves and to the dwarves of Middle-earth. She spoke many different languages that she taught to me few, some now I have forgotten- but most I know still today. All the highest officials from royalty to mayorhood had come to bow their heads and pay their respects to the fallen Queen. Thousands upon thousands had come to the funeral. They had her body wrapped in white cotton and laid lightly across a perfectly laid out pyre. The falling and death of my mother was beyond any natural pain. My Papa hadn't cried at all while the flames carried higher and higher into the night sky, he only held me as young innocent tears trailed out from my blue eyes. However, I knew he hurt greatly.

I was sent to bed early that night, alone and cold, sobbing for the mother I had lost at only nine years old. My father didn’t enter his chambers and instead spoke with the mourning lords and ladies before going to the great hall and drinking until he passed out naked across the grand table. It caused quite the kafuffle when the servants found him.

For many mornings that had come after, the people mourned for her calling her the wise and gentle Queen Mélliorna, only hoping that her daughter would be the same. Every sun rise the people would chant through the street, “Our High Queen Mélliorna has fallen and our new future shall thrive in her spirit…Long Live Princess Theresa!”

And reader, as you glide across my pages you will know me as that; for that is one of my many names, truly my favourite- Theresa.

Chapter Text

Months after Queen Mélliorna’s death, my Father started going back to ruling his Kingdom as he’d done with my unforgettable mother, and for five years he ruled strategically.

Of the third age of the sun of the year twenty-seven and sixty nine in the highest room of the tallest tower in the City Dale there laid a sleeping princess of fourteen name days. My eyes had been tightly shut that morning, I was basking in the joys of a warm blanket and soft pillow. I was so young and carefree when it came to those days.

The clicking of shoes against my floor woke me up, but knowing exactly who it was I tightened my closed eyes and dove deeper into the pillow I craved.

"I know you are awake my daughter," came his heart warming chuckle “Rise, today is a special day!”

I felt the mattress sink as he sat beside me, his hand pawed at my shoulder while urging me to ‘rise’. As stubborn as a child could be, I was very persistent to go back to my dreaming and refused my father’s request; that is until he decided to open the curtains of my balcony. I hissed. The burning light shone through my entire room and even with my eyes closed they hurt in the light of the blazing sun.

Groaning in anguish and hurt feelings I finally sat up and opened my eyes and glared at the King that stood before me.

“Wonderful, you’re awake!” he beamed.

I groaned and rolled my eyes. It did annoy me how he would do that. My father would always lighten a heavy mood, whether it was sadness or anger or distress, you could always laugh whilst my father was around. It was nice but annoying, especially when his only child was trying to gain her wonderful rest.

I ran my fingers over my face and rubbed my eyes open before combing through the knots of my mane. My red hair was a terrible clump of knots and strands caused by the multiple tosses I had turned in during my dreaming.

I winced as I combed out the forest of hair whilst grumbling, “Yes, unfortunately since it’s such a ‘special day’ when I cannot understand why it is so special since yesterday was a special day too just because Franny made blueberry tarts and cream.”

Franny was the royal head cook. She made the greatest berry flavoured sweets in the entire world, it’s a shame I never knew how she made hers.

Father of course grinned at this, besides his humour he was best known for his smile. Maybe that is why my mother loved him so much?

He pulled down my blankets and took both my hands away from my hair, his hands holding them tightly while he made sure I was paying attention, “Today is special because today we are visiting the King of Erebor and his son.”

About a month ago across the border of the Erebor and the Withered Heath mountains, there had been a spotting of Orc raiders. The dwarven prince Thrain and my Father had led out a lead of men and dwarves to face the intruders from the north. Successfully the threatening creatures were driven back, but unfortunately not without near losses. An arrow had been aimed at the dwarf heir and my father did what his honour told him to; my father pushed Prince Thrain aside and sacrificed himself to it. Thankful to the use of medicine and bandaging my father lived through the incident. The arrow was not quite close enough to pierce his heart.

Once the King of Erebor had discovered my father’s heroic sacrifice, the bonds between our Kingdoms became tighter and tighter. Thror, King under the mountain had declared my father would receive a reward and thus today my father and I would be attending before his council to be praised and honoured with a gift. My attendance was to be a royal symbol, after all I was on the cusp of womanhood and I would need to learn how to respectfully represent the Kingdom of men.

I rolled my eyes and smiled at him. I was proud of him, he was my father.

Moving from my bed, I wondered my way to the balcony and lent against the stone arch, looking over what would hopefully be mine one day. My grey eyes glazed over the streets of Dale out across the running river towards Esgaroth or better known as the lake town. Oh how beautiful the water did gleam and sparklingly glimmered from the dawning sun. Below me the people of Dale had already awoken and workers bustled in the streets lively.

I sighed, remember though I was at an age when I was constantly displeased and my emotions fairly heightened.

“Must I go too?”

“Of course you must come Tessie,” He came up behind me and slipped his arms around my shoulders, swaying me side to side “After all, I must tease shouldn’t I? To flaunt my most precious treasure to them and taunt them with the knowledge that they shall never have her!” he cackled, rubbing his beard down with his hand and releasing me from his endearing hold.

I smirked and slapped him across the arm as I stalked back inside, dragging out my chest of clothes from beneath my bed. It would seem I had the pleasure of dressing myself. The royal maids had not arrived for father came to me early than my usual waking hour. Opening the lid, I dug and dove for an appealing gown. The dwarves and dwarrow-maidens would need to see the future queen in a fitting gown that spread elegance around herself. I smiled finding two dresses fit for the day. Turning back to my father I asked for his opinion.

“Red or green?”

He raised his brows and licked his teeth shaking his head slowly. Breathing out through his nose he lifted his hand back towards the chest.

“Wear the blue dear,” he suggested and kissed her forehead hurriedly before scurrying out the door. I wanted to object, the red velvet had recently been a gift from the governor of Esgaroth and the green a gown specially made for my birthday that year. But the blue, it was not special, it had now value, it was just a dress for play or lazing around the castle gardens.

Two royal maids had entered passed him while I threw the two gowns across my bed, reaching in to feel the smooth silken fabrics of light blue sky. Despite the knowledge of the outfits’ worth, something also came to my mind as it was draped over me. Fitting, elegantly simple but also…regal. For the regal princess.

 

We rode out before the midday. Four horses stood by the city centre fountains, drinking happily as they awaited the arrival of me and my father. Two escorting guards saddled themselves once we were astride and off through the city we trotted. The people would stop and wave to us, such a loving place to be. As the city of Dale, my home held the masses of multiple races. From elves, humans, dwarves and even Drúedain woses. The stalls of busy markets and laughter of children running about the streets always was a fond memory of mine. The gates of the city opened in a loud crack and opened to the wilderness meadows between Dale and the entrance of the Erebor Mountain.

Across the stone road unto the path of dirty, the horses hooves dread in a gallop, my hands holding tightly to the reigns of my steed as we rode forth. This would be the first time I would enter into the dwarven mountain of Erebor. It was a true fact that the trade between our two large Kingdoms were strong, however quite rarely did my father and the dwarven King Thror ever meet personally face to face. Usually the councils of dwarves and men would consult the matters of trading and alliances.

We galloped over the grand bridge leading over the waters of the stream leading out into the running river. My eyes looked to the hills and minor mountains surrounding the valley, the strong holds of security stood strong but nonetheless a scavenger enemy was nothing to ever risk which is why my father and I were escorted by two human guards with swords strapped to their waists. The traveling party soon came upon two gigantic stone dwarves guarding the grand stone gates of Erebor. Above laid the tall structure of archers’ lookouts to search the distant valley between our two Kingdoms. This was it, the dwarf Kingdom Erebor.

The wind blew low and high, my hair once auburn flowed across my freckled face. The artitecture was impressive. A entire race of dwarves had built a Kingdom within a large rock mountain.

Atop the archers build was a dwarven guard who called out to his fellow guardsmans below within the mountain "Open the gates! Lord Girion King of Dale and Lady Theresa Princess of Dale! Hail, March forth!"

And just like that the gates of the great hold slowly opened and closed as we rode inside. Riding in, my unpreventable gasp echoed through the magnificent structure. An entire city within the mountain was what came to view. Beneath the roads’ edge we rode on were the grand catacombs and halls of the mountain. Lights and noise gathered deep inside the middle-earth far beyond the ground level of the meadows surface. Emerald and gold shone and reflected greatly around every corner I looked. Pillar after pillar held it all, but who kept the mountain running so beautifully were the dwarves themselves. The race were well advanced and structured, it was a glorious view inside this mountain built Kingdom.

Eventually the four of us in attendance were stopped and told to dismount from our horses, awkwardly the tall beasts were led away by the stable dwarves and our escort guards whilst my father and I were then both escorted quickly by a grey, wrinkled face Dwarf to the vast retreat of the throne room.

Down the hall leading to the grand chair itself were more statues of the past famous dwarf Kings, each holding their chosen weapons in life. A long path trailed to the middle where stood members of the royal family and council of dwarfs surrounding the great dwarven King himself Thror. Father bowed, as I did curtsied to the miniature King in his mighty stone chair.

Thror House of Durin, the Dwarven Lord, King Under The Mountain. This was the King to doom us all but I thought he was a good King… 

The throne if it would seem, was the centering heart of the very mountain. My head was bent to stare at the floor in respect of his highness. Even as a royal princess you must bow before another royal especially whence in their kingdom.

My eyes peered up as my knee bent to the floor, covered by the blue skirts of my gown. My circlet glittering light reflected by the fire torches surrounding us. The King Thror an older dwarf with a long grey beard groomed neatly with jeweled beads laced within his hairs. A small smile flittered on his lips. His eyes met with his council, showing his approving of our behaviours. I took notice of this, for one day I believed this would be what my future would include. The conversion between governmental leaders.

Standing slowly from his throne and making his way down the stair case of three steps he shouted gleefully, "My friends, arise and behold my glory!!"

When my father began to rise up from his bow, he was greeted with a tight hug around the waist by the Dwarf King. Steadily I rose, observing and studying. My eyes flickered to the royal family, there were a plentiful assortment, from dwarrows to dwarves. But it was two young dwarves that caught my eyes. A dwarfling dwarrow, possible only nine or ten years old, small whiskers growing on the sides of her round face. Her hand clenched to a dwarf whom looked to be just a little bit older than myself. My eyes scanned their similarities, their relations uncanny. Above their brows sat circulets, much more detailed in carving than my own; realisation hit me that these two might’ve been a prince and princess. Its a shame I didn’t know at the time of the names and faces of the Durin tree.

My father and King Thror laughed, "Lord Girion, my friend," his eyes filled with overwhelming joy, "I give you thanks for your deeds and now I will give onto you a reward for your kind selflessness; the debt of my son could never be repaid by either him, me or the entire line of Durin, All I ask for now is that you know my gratitude of what you’ve done for us all.”

After the dwarven Kings’ short speech, my father shot out his hand and grabbed mine, locking our fingers together. He laughed and tugged me by his side.

His eyes beamed back to the king and kindly shook his head, "Thror, King under the mountain never you mind of that; my only wish from you and your descendants is to stand beside me till my days end and the end of my daughters.”

Nobles stood in front of one another, happy and filled with life everlasting between the two kingdoms of men and dwarves. The look of the council, nodding their heads and the royal family bowing them was the feeling of the greatest honour. To know that our alliances would reign forever together and our bonds never to break apart was a pleasure filled with loving hope and compassion. Release my hand my father tilted his head to the crowds surround us, his eyes widened and his smile lifted higher. Out came running a dwarf with a beard as long down to his chest, his arm bandaged yet his demeanor lively and positive.

"Giri!" he called out.

The King of Dale barreled towards the dwarf, picking him up and spinning him in her long arms as he happily cackled, “Thrain!“

And selfishly for some unreasonable understanding, my own father completely forgot I stood there in the same throne room. Thrain and he made their way out through the halls with his arm slung over the dwarven prince’s shoulder. Sticking out like a sore thumb, I stood in my place where I hadn’t moved since my father released me. I felt petrified. My gaze looking over the council and King not knowing what to do or say. I didn’t know whether to apologies for my fathers’ ignorant exit. He hadn’t been excused nor had he officially excused himself from the presence of the dwarven King.

“Child,” I jumped in surprise, noticing that Thror had seen the events folding and called me forth with the curls of his fingers, “What is your name?” he asked.

Of course he knew I was the Princess of Dale, but to ask my name seemed to come across as a slight insult. This dwarf was the dwarven lord who had come to my infantile blessing, he was the dwarf to bless me with the gift of unity; to be able to unite friendships with charming kindness. Except when you think about the question, he did not ask for my title, he asked for my name. Maybe it was a deeper question than I had first anticipated; ‘Who was I?’ or maybe it was his older age and the time of slowly becoming senile.

I stuttered, “T-Theresa house of Gilford, your highness, princess of Dale,” humiliation creeping up my spine and pinching my back.

He smiled and clapped his hands, "Oh! That's right, you are Lord Girion’s and Lady Mélliorna’s child!"

I nodded and returned his smile, nervousness beneath it, “Yes, your majesty.”

He chuckled and grasped my hands into his, he was gentle and cradled my palms. I bent to one knee before him, our eyes leveling. It felt improper to crane my gaze down to him, to a king as powerful and respected as he. He pressed his wrinkled lips to my hands, his beard softly brushing against my fingers. His eyes were soft and filled with welcoming friendship. My shoulders lessened their stiffness, relief calmed me. One day I would be queen and Thror might still be alive as the king of Erebors dwarves, why should I feel so on edge. We would be alliancing friends.

The king pat my hands as he looked me in the eyes and sweetly said, "You are very beautiful, dear," it was rare for me to be complemented by a King other than my own father, "And yet you have no jewels to frame your beauty," his eyes squinted and frown spread.

His brows lifted and on his lips spread a smile that would resemble a cheeky child. Releasing my hands he gestured for me to stand. Obeying him, I stood up and had him take my hand, "Come with me, my dear."

 

TO BE CONTINUED....

Chapter Text

His brows lifted and on his lips spread a smile that would resemble a cheeky child. Releasing my hands he gestured for me to stand. Obeying him, I stood up and had him take my hand, "Come with me, my dear."

 


 

Swiftly guiding me back to where I had entered, we had taken another path down a staircase. I awed at the views we passed. Tapestries hung images across archways of dwarven stories the King pointed out to me. This Kingdom was built to accommodate nearly all races alike. I had imagined I would have to tuck and bend my head under beams but the truth was, even with my hands stretched above me, I could barely touch the arches and rooftops. The home of dwarves reminded me of an ant hill, many passages and all the citizens worKing hard every day all together. Bridges and stairs carried us through it all safely. Thror proudly showed me his world and I loved it all. It made me smile, imagining what it would feel like to be a dwarf and wake up to this every single day. Eventually we walked through a lengthy hall that started to drag on forever. The walls blank besides the handing torches that lit our way. It was eerily silent, the banging of hammers and ticKing of picks and sprucing of voices disappeared the deeper we ventured down the hall.

My mind did ponder at the strange situation of the dwarf King and I being all alone, walKing down somewhere else where no one knew where we were. He wouldn’t lead me to danger, but something forbidden lurked around us. I felt uncomfortable and fidget with my fingers that I placed behind my back so the dwarven King couldn’t sense my unsettlement.


"Your Majesty?” I inquired in a polite tone “If I may ask, where are we going?"
The King was tall for his age and a dwarf, his head managing to stand just below my shoulder.

The King looked up and chuckled with a winking mischief in his aged eyes, “That dear Princess is a surprise.” His hand took mine once more and he spiced up a conversation before eventually asKing "Princess of Dale, refresh my old memory would you please, how old are you? I’m afraid this old goat just cannot remember.”

I was slightly daunted by his desire to know my age, but taKing it out of a kind and personal interest I answered respectfully and truthfully so, “Fourteen name days gone by your Majesty, however my fifteen comes on the first day of spring.” A day which was coming very soon. He nodded his head with a childlike grin. How could it be that the dwarven King always looked so happy, surely he would do anything but smile.

“Good.” Was all he said as we continued passed a large room. Looking closer I noticed it looked like an arena. Sand covered the floor and weapons hang around the walls. A training room for dwarves filled with great dwarvish iron. The King and I stood atop the balcony overseeing the events fold out. Sounds of grunts, laughter and metal clash made me jump in sudden fright. King Thror led me closer to the balcony above the training room, while putting a ringed finger over his mouth. Silence. Understanding his message and quietly I peered down and watched two dwarves fighting unseen and unheard by them.

Covered in chest armor and metal gauntlets the two raced towards one another and clashed swords.

A tattooed covered dwarf with an unusual hair cut that rose to the ceiling rather like a roosters comb cackled and jeered at his sparring partner, "Oh come now Thorin! Where is your fighting gift that the dwarrow-maids foretell of behind dark corridors eh?"

His sword swung high only to be blocked by the dwarf he face, pushing him aside and sliding his weapon forward for a ‘killing blow’. I knew the swords were not dangerous, they were for sparring and practice, completely harmless. It settle relief to not witness any major pain.

His counterpart took off his helmet and there I saw him for the very first time. Thorin, the crown prince to Erebor. Alas I didn’t know it was him at the time, but I do remember feeling my chest thump. My teenage attraction was wild. With his neatly groomed beard and tied up hair that looked so deeply brow it could be mistaken for black, he looked like a knight. The dwarf prince was exceedingly handsome. He was dirty with sweat gliding down his face but the way he smiled and laughed at the other dwarf was romantically sweet. I hadn’t ever seen a dwarf so memorizing as him. His eyes lit up in joy and it was a blessing to view.

"Gift you say? Well, if I have one I have never lost it, Dwalin!"

Dawlin had lunged forward with a Sword in one hand and a shield in the other, Thorin was able to dodge the movement and trip Dwalin. The dwarf in the sand quickly flipped to his back to rise but it was the smooth twist of thorin that prevented him from so. Holding the sharp of the sword at Dwalins’ throat, I gasped and tightly squeezed King Thror's hand. Sparring swords indeed where not meant to wound but they could still cut with enough pressure.

My blood pumped loudly through my ears in terror.

I turned to Thror in hopes he or someone else may stop Thorin from killing Dwalin, instead he grinned with the loving expression my father usually would give me. Waiting for what would happen, Thorin laughed at the surprise on Dwalins' face and dropped his sword; holding out his hand to the other dwarf and lifting him up they laughed together until their faces turned red.

"Let’s go and have a drink my friend! Ale on me, aye?" Thorin clapped a hand on his friends back as they giggled all the way out of the training room.

Thror started to lead me away from the training room whilst my mind raced. I bit my lip and eventually steadily breathed out all the worries of an event that thankfully never happened. “Nothing to fret over, princess Theresa.”

After some time I unexpectedly commented without thinking properly, "The dwarf that won is quite a handsome swordsmen.” The words accidentally slipped out of my mouth, they weren’t even in my control really.

“I would agree, yes. After all his genes must be appealing, being that he is my granddwarfling,” King Thror hummed, obviously letting me know that special fact. His grandson. My jaw dropped for a split moment, nearly choking on the air. I bowed my head, I released my comment could’ve come off as inappropriate in the sense of my youthful attraction to him. It was something a princess should not have commented on in the first place. I was supposed to be reserved and mature, ladylike so it seems. To express my attractions was a very incorrect statement indeed. My face became flustered and my whole self felt flushed.

“Your Majesty, please forgive me, I only meant to-“

Humiliated enough the King chuckled and shook his head “It’s quiet alright my dear, many dwarrows are known to bare red cheeks at the sight of him.”

My eyes blinked once, then twice. “Oh.” He must’ve been popular with the company of women was all I could think.

Before I could respond further to the dwarf King, we came to two large emerald doors. The end of the longest hall I have ever walked.

"Now, young highness, close your eyes." the King ordered. Close my eyes?
This must’ve been the surprise he spoke of, behind the door was why I wasn’t allowed to know where we were going. Something mystical and exciting intrigued me. I shut my eyes obediently and heard him push the doors aside, the hinges squealing. His hand touched mine and softly took hold of my wrist, leading me forward. Wholeheartedly I trusted the dwarf King. Sniffing my surrounding I sensed a metallic scent.

I heard the doors close behind us and then King Thror let go of my wrist while coaxing, "You may open them now.”

Fluttering my eyes open, I took in a massive gasp of air at the sight around me. From towers of gold to pillars of silver, encrusted in millions of gems ranging from the biggest diamonds to the tiniest ambers. Opals and rubies, sapphires and emeralds just fanned around us.

The Kings’ grand treasury. Mountains of golden coins and chests overflowing with colourful and expensive items.

"I have led you here to give you something,” King Thror held up his hand to continue, "a gift with the condition of a single favour.” He wandered over to a mound and came back with a medium box in his grasp. Coming back before me he opened its lid in front of me. Inside laid a beautiful necklace, a single gem, a single diamond tear drop on a silver chain. I was amazed, something so simple looked very beautiful and if I didn’t know any better I would’ve said it glowed like a star.

"This is no ordinary gem…" I gasped shocked as I carefully plucked the chain and lifted out the sparkling diamond. I cradled the tear drop with care, afraid to possible drop and even shatter it.

The King closed the box and placed it aside. His eyes knowing and watching my every movement. "You're correct. This is one of the many white gems of Lasgalen. Elves who brought them to us, informed that they held a grand power of sight." King Thror held a proud smile.

"Please put it on my dear," King Thror begged. I slipped the jewel around my neck and fastened the end lock. The tear drop resting in the crease of my chest outside of my dress. Tapping the diamond with the tip of my nail I asked without look towards the king, “What favour do you wish me to return for such a priceless item, your majesty?” Admiring the glow it gave on my skin while waiting for an answer. King Thror had stared at me for a period of time in a long unexpected silence. I lifted my face away from his gift to see his answer.

Our eyes met before he casted his to the side and he lowly sighed, “I will give you one year in advance total from this day to decide. You may return the gems within the year if you decline my favour.”

He looked…worried, “My lord? What is it?”

Slowly coming forward, cupped my hand. My eyes looking at his trembling fingers and back to his quivering lip, “I wish for you to marry my grandson Thorin, house of Durin.”

My mouth felt dry and my stomach heavy, my eyeslids drooping down and my eyes rolling up. I fainted.

TO BE CONTINUED...

 

Chapter Text

 

Now, now before you get all hissy and roll your eyes at my words, I did not faint because of the proposal to the prince. Oh no, my body exhausted itself out for a different reason, a terrible and giving reason that would curse me for most my days yet gift me for all my years. After all, I was fourteen name days soon to be fifteen, it wasn’t unusual to have a marriage proposal at my age; but it was my first and to be expected to accept one so young was unheard of.

My sudden loss of consciousness was the first time I ever experienced it; my visions. When the King touched my hands I felt sick. The wind knocked out of me and throwing me back into darkness. I saw shadows, molds of black moving in a humane shapes. My ears split with the sound of thousands screaming in terror or pain. Wails and screeches hurt my ears, the pain stinging and cutting into my head.

The shadows raced around me. A loud creak and massive crash. Horses galloping and whinnying. And a loud noise that resembled the sound of a lion and thunder combined such a creature sound that was all but unbeknownst to me. And finally in my shadowy world I felt my body burning up, scolding like boiling water and yet cold like ice.

My mouth opened to scream only to be shut by the heavy jerk up and backwards into the darkness.

My head looked up and saw ripples of water, my chest felt tight, my skin cool again and my body being lifted up to the surface. Feeling water roll off and down my cheeks, I gasped for air. My eyes blinking to see my father. Lord Girion and King Thror gazes were pinned down to me. My eyes caught the ceiling above their faces. I was utterly terrified and shrieked, scrambling up and crawling on my hands and knees. I held up my hands to the light, afraid to see charred skin or hot boils. Tears streaming out of my blood shot eyes. A heave of relief left my chest seeing perfectly normal hands.

I was the definition of utter hysteria.

I reached to my feet with the aid of a table filled will golden coins, my heart pounded violently against my chest with heaving pants falling from my mouth.

What…was that?…

A heavy weight clamped down onto my shoulder, causing me to shriek and spin around in terror. I met my father’s, his eyes wide and confused. My trembling hands gripped his that laid on my shoulder before launching forward to weep into his chest.

“Theresa, what has happened?” his voice was gentle, he was calm and comforting to me like this. His arms pulled me off, forcing me to look up to him. I didn’t know how to reply, but slight frustration made me mad knowing I couldn’t. The nightmare was nearly indescribable, well- at least in my state of mind. If I could speak to my father now, I would tell him everything I’m telling you.

Father was became furious, “What happened!?” He turned and yelled to Thror. The King in turn laughed. Girion was provoked and lifted his hand pointingly at the King and the prince Thrain who had come running into the chambers.

Thror shook his head, “Now, now,” he admitted. Turning to his son, he spoke in their tongue before the prince stepped forward, passed my father and towards me.

“May we speak?” Thrain intermitted, my father grunted. He took my hand assuredly and carefully led me to stand in between the kings. My father looked rather dumbfounded, a frown of his anger pasted on his face. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot, glaring down to the dwarvish crown prince.

“Giri, my father has finally asked the princess,” Thrain laughed with his arms widely spread apart, “About the union?”

Within a second my father changed. His demeanor of protective parent had melted into excitement. His hands lifted up with the corners of his mouth. Holding me to him he moved from foot to foot.

“What have you decided darling?” He asked.

“I…”

The king had interjected. No one had allowed me to speak and by the way my father had reacted, all I remember was thinking, He knew of the proposal before hand?

Walking us all out. We of two kings, a prince and princess made our way back to the throne room. The two dwarf children were still there, each sitting on the arms of the throne. When they were scolded by a nursemaid, they gasped and leapt off the mighty stone structure. There the two ran off, giggling from the shock they’d given themselves.

I noticed the wide grin Thror had. Maybe they were of his grandchildren as well, along with Thorin. When the king perched back onto his throne he clapped his hands and stated on my behalf, “I have given her royal highness princess Theresa the chance to decide on the proposal to Prince Thorin within a year. Afterall, we respectfully hold customs that state she may not be of age to be wedded.”

Of age? I was clearly of age. A girl who begins her bleeding is expected to wed and I have bled for a couple years. I was by society standards allowed to marry.
My father was overly joyful by this event, but I? I didn’t know what to think about first. I had just come out of one of the worst nightmares I had ever received.

After bowing and escorted out of Erebor, I felt the weight of the gem around my neck. I looked down to it and back behind me to the great city gates.

One year, I needed to decide.

 


 

 

It had been nearly a whole year since the meeting of Thror and given the gift of an elvish jewel. I had reached my sixteenth name day when Thror sent a raven for my answer. 

I had accepted the proposal and it was organized that Thorin and I would be wed in two months, but next week we would officially meet face to face. If I wasn’t so young I would’ve demanded to meet the prince before accepting anything, but there I was anyway; standing still as an ivory cotton dress was fitted to my body and a ruby gemmed ring wrapped around my finger; “A gift, chosen by the prince himself,” The messenger insured.

Ever since I informed my father that I wished to accept the proposal, he made me practice speech after speech and vow after vow. I hated every moment of it. Granted I was provided a lot of attention from everyone in Dale, but the way they treated the ordeal was humiliating to watch. I was now not seen as “Princess Theresa the mighty future queen of Dale”, instead I was now just “the Daughter of Girion who would marry the future dwarf kind of Erebor”… how demeaning of my worth is that?

That day a horse and wagon had been sent out filled with gifts and decorations for our wedding day, along with a painted portrait of myself. Thorin would being seeing my face for the first time today, unlike I who had seen his nearly a year ago.

I huffed and groaned as women walked around me, telling me to constantly hold up my arms. If this wasn’t torture at the time, I didn’t know what was.

“What is wrong milady?” a child spoke up, she was newly employed working along side her mother. In her hands was a broom she used to sweep the dust away. Her red cap bobbled around while she moved, staring at me.

While she swept I sighed, “All this for a wedding, goodness; You’d think I would be meeting a god wouldn’t you?” The girl hummed and smiled. She didn’t reply even though I wish she did. Younger she was yes but in some small way we were the same.

I hissed, another needle pinched me, “Hold still.” Was the scold that followed.

I felt trapped into something forced by kings and I was scared; what does Thorin think of this mess himself? What if he was a bad husband? Abusive and violent? Surely he wouldn’t be, but I had heard rumour and seen first hand what dwarves are like within taverns.

I would be queen and he would be king. I would rule Dale and him Erebor. But how? I had theorized it was a plot of wicked scheming. The life of a dwarf compared to a human was a four hundred years to eighty years. It wasn’t possible for us to grow old together. So, Thrain his father would be king for at least one hundred years and my father only fifty at most. My marriage to Thorin would make him King or at least a lord of Dale when I am in my old age. But when I cease my livability I will still not have the title of queen of Erebor, and Thorin would be reigning as prince lord over Dale once I have passed. The dwarves would control everything.

When I had shared my belief to my father he rolled his eyes and scolded me for questioning all the hard work he and my mother put in into building Dale into its multi-cultural plazas today….

“Finished your highness, you may be free.” A maid had finally plucked the last pin, saying this, “Be on your way.”

And thus I ran as fast as I could out of my bedroom. I walked down the steep passages and down, down to the ground level. Passing kitchens and libraries I found the gardens. These lush green filled bushes with many fine white roses settled me and yet their colourings made me frustrated. White the colour of purity and death; marriage was both those things to me.

Something hateful and vile built up inside me, I didn’t want to go through with any of this! My hand clawed to the back of my neck and ripped the chain away. That single diamond swung side to side before I threw it aside. The gem fell into a fountain with a plop and I sighed. It wasn’t fair. How could I have been so foolish to accept this trial of commitment? No one, not even my father understood me.

My eyes watered. I walked to the fountain and let a tear fall into the water. The ripples framed the glittering diamond that sat at the bottom. I shook my head. I didn’t want to be rude, I needed to grow up. My hand reached in and grabbed it again, my thumb wiped away the algae and green sludge for its gleaming self.

The red ruby resting on my finger made my eyes roll, that should’ve been thrown too.

And when I clipped the jewel back on, that is when I heard him, the same noise I heard a year ago.

His roar shook the city, it was fierce like a lions but gruff like a bears. This unholy creature was a thing no man had ever expected to come. The sound of wind and wing flew across the courtyards and garden. I ran outside to the main street and looked to the sky as everyone else had.

Red, green, blue and purple filled the sky. Scales that shone like gems. Wings as wide as the ferry ships and body long like a deadly adder…this was a dragon.

I screamed. Fire blew down from his dragon snout and flooded the east streets in flames. People screamed and ran, while people within the eastern way were running out covered in fire, killing them slowly and painfully.

I was in shock, standing still, watching as all this destruction unfolded. Arrow men were flung by the sheer force of his wings, knocking me down as well. I didn’t know what to do. I ran back inside and prayed that I could find my father without becoming a burnt meal.

It would seem everyone was hysterical, maids and servants were running away and passed me as I tried to reach the throne room. Everyone feared for their lives while the dragon continued his desolation on my home.

A loud crack swept across the way. Its mighty bang alone made be scream. The building was split into two. The wack of his tail brought down the towers. The shaking ground knocked me off of my feet, I screamed and cried. I was too scared. I used a stone to pick myself off and run. Tears blinding my side, blurrying my way, I continued to run for my life. Many of the citizens had run to the docks towards the north. The eastern gates destroyed by fiery blazes, we were trapped like feral rats. I too took my chances to the boats, but once I passed the halls, the flying demon took his chance and blew the ships away. I shook my head in disbelief and turned to the battlements, where warriors would be firing from.

Father!

I saw him on the great wall shouting down orders and running to the grand crossbow. In his hands he loaded black arrows. The black arrows were the only arrows that were fired to stop naturally the giant eagles from the north from clawing their way on our people, they were peaceful creatures as they choose to be.

I watched as each arrow was shot and one I was so hopeful had hit the dragon, missed by a fraction, my heart sank very low.

The winds of his wings picked up, my father was flung from the tower…I watched in horror as his body landed into the market place stalls. My feet picked up and went to the fallen man. My blood pumped in my heart, each breath I made hurt. My chest ached but I still ran towards him. Our falling city was crumbling like dry bread.

My knees burned as I fell in front of his body. He was cradled by tapestries and wooden splinters while blood manifested from his stomach, out of it was a broken wooden pole…his mouth dribbled red when his head turned to face me. My fathers’ hands trembled. Dirt and sweat covering his face and his eyes filled with fear.

I sobbed for him. There was no chance he would live…none.

“Theresa? Ch-child, my child…” His lips spilling out blood more and more, running down his neck and soaking his tunic. "T-take this," Father held out his dagger to me; his gift from Thrain, his prized possession…"And dr-drink th-this," he reached into his neck and held out to me a single vial attached to a chain. The red liquid surged from side to side. My shock was enamored by the question, “Why father?” I took his dagger from his hand and the vial from the other.

The world seemed quiet. I was wholly focused on him, despite the wails behind me and he dragons fire blowing deeds.

He pushed the vial to my lips and forced me to drink what tasted like sour wine. “You will live as long as an elf…” I gasped and slapped the glass away, but it was too late, I had drunk the poison. I hadnt understood his words, he was insane, but if what he said was true, he had forced me to live a life of misery for eternity. A life without him.

“Runaway, f-far away, be safe but return to Dale when all is well, she needs a ruler,” Father pleaded. His eyes were straining while his trembling became more rapid under my touch.

I cried and begged him to not die, I pressed my head to his and kissed his cheek, praying he would be alright. Father shook his head slowly, a small smile tugged at his lips. His eyes looked to the sky as he gave a final soft chuckle, "My child, I will be with your mother now, but we will always be with you in here."

Looking to me again, he placed his hand upon my chest, and when his eyes slowly closed shut, his hand began to fall, sliding to rest on my lap.

“Father? Father?! Father open your eyes! I order you to open them!” I shook his shoulders but he did not wake. “Father!!! Listen to me, Father! Father" I screamed. Weeping I curled up into a ball and rested my head onto his unmoving chest. His heart ceased its beating…He was dead because of a dragon.

The dragon gave a foul squeal and flew away, flying to the city of Dwarves. My eyes were glassy as I laid beside my father, praying to die with him. My world became black…But with his wishes…I had lived…

Chapter Text

 

 

175 years later…

It has been a century and a half after the destruction of Dale, the desolation of Smaug the dragon had taken many lives. That including the life of the princess Theresa and her father Lord Girion. The dragon had destroyed the city of men and made his claim over the kingdom of Erebor. The royal family in complete and utter shock, only the dwarf prince suffered sleepless nights leading his people and family through the forests and human towns until they reached the Blue Mountains.

The dwarves of Erebor were no more, their home taken as much as their pride; they could not return to what was no longer there.

And the princess Theresa? Dead. The people of Esgaroth had come with many ships to the aid of the King, alas they could not find him...everyone had perished, the only one who they found alive, was a child floating and freezing half to death by the docks and the rumble. A young boy who proclaimed the king had lain with his mother, that he was a bastard prince…

In the dark tones of rain and lightning, a hooded figure collapsed at the steps of an inn called “The Green Dragon, the emerald serpent curled and painted upon the door.” Their hands patted the mud, standing up in their drenched state. Tired, cold and hungry, they managed to clamber up to the door and forced their way through into the grand warmth of shelter.

The tavern was small, tiny tables filled with just as many small people with large feet. Hobbits. The gentlest creatures of middle-earth were these hobbits who dwelled in the quiet and safe farming lands and meadows. Whilst adjusting their hood, a young hobbit waddled up to the stranger, he was as tall as their waist, his head craned up with a pipe hanging off the side of his smiling lips.

“’Ello there, now what can I get you Ma’am? Can I take yer coat?”

Lifting the hood away from her head, the woman with red hair smiled weakly, “If you’d be ever so kind, thank you.”

As she unclipped her cloak and handed it to the very welcoming inn keeper, she looked around the quite tavern. Her eyes scanning saw drinking hobbits with pipes, all laughing and having a fun evening; paying no attention to her. Silently she sat at a little table, while the young hobbit took her coat and hung it by the door.

A bob of curls came waddling back to her. Massive hairy feet stood on their toes as the hobbit asked her next, "What can I get 'cha' Ma'am?" the woman who looked youthful, smiled and wiped her hands onto her apron.

“May I please acquire a jug of warm ale and a place to rest for the night,” she coughed and reached into her pocket, laying three gold pieces into his small hand, “The warm barn if possible?”

She did not know if the inn was fit for a woman of her size, but a stable is big and warm with enough hay. She was drenched and cold, and there was no fireplace for her to warm her hands and feet. She sighed internally.

The hobbit gasped, the gold pieces in his hand seemed to surprise him, “Ma’am we ‘ave a man size bed next to the kitchens, its right behind the wall of the oven. It’s a warm enough place for your pretty head to rest for the next week with the fortune you’ve given me!”

His grin soared, “I’ll be on me way, get yer drink before you can say ‘Green Dragon’!”

Her eyes fluttered back to her shaking hands. The hobbit quickly walked away, clicking his heels at the notion of his new wealth. Solemnly she sighed silently, “…Green Dragon…” not surprised by the disappointment of the hobbits unrealistic promise. Folding her hands into her lap, she rubbed them against her dirty apron. The friction of warmth was just there between the fabric and her skin. Her mind delve and wondered back into her memories. Dark, painful and lonely…it would be the anniversary soon...

A cough broke her mind away, the heavy weight of a hand clamping down onto her shoulder, nails with purpose digging into her skin. She rolled her eyes, she didn’t know what she had done, but she knew something had begun. It was not her first time facing a foe at hand, just because she was either too pretty and they were too drunk, or her ‘possessions’ showed out a little too much. Her hand reached to her boot wear her dagger laid inside. And as her finger types touched the handle, the stranger spoke, “I never thought he would leave.”

The deep voiced person- man, was tall; too tall to be a hobbit. He released his harsh grip and circled to front her and sit at the very table she was placed. Her eyes met with the gaze of an elder, a familiar soul rather than a dangerous enemy. A thick white beard rolling down to his waist with a long grey robe as his distinguishing clothing. A wise and ancient being was sitting before her.

“Mithrandir?” She smiled cheekily, leaning forward against the table, “Is that you?”

The wizard took his chance to grin and toy, “Only if that is you, my dear Theresa?” lifting out his long, thin pipe. He was suddenly surprised by a large hug from the woman across the table, tugging him in, his pipe almost knocked out of his hand. The pair laughed in greeting and began subtle conversation, both leaning forward to hear one another’s news.

“By Eru’s divinity! Gandalf, it’s almost been what ten- twenty years?” Her eyes squinted while her side smile shaped her flushing embarrassment. How humiliating of her to forget the years apart. It had been so long since she and the wizard had crossed paths. She had seemingly decided to part her way and have her own adventures around middle-earth.

“Fifteen,” he huffed with a lifted brow and returning amusement, “Now what are the chances that I would find you in such a comfortable establishment as the Shire?” he laughed again. Lighting his pipe with his thumb and bringing it to his lip he sucked in and released a swirl of white from his nose, “Last time I saw you my dear girl, was in that blasted heath of an Ice bay up north.”

Fifteen years had gone by, to the north she had stayed where it was quiet and almost vacant. The well-being of her mind had progressed with her staying away from civilisation, it was peaceful and it gave her plenty of time to think over many things along with learning different tongues. Yes it was cold, but it was comforting in some way; she felt safe and secure, away from any danger and giant flying reptiles.

Her eyes shut while she softly sighed. Theresa indeed had almost no chances ever coming to the shire except…“Well, besides hating how cold it was, it would seem that I was destined to meet with you Gandalf.”

Yes, Theresa knew it the moment she saw Gandalfs face that this meeting was fate with not a spec of coincidence.

The wizards brows raised with surprised as his voice lifted, “I would agree to some part Princess, but amuse me of how you speculate such a thing.”

Theresa smirked and threw a sarcastic expression to Gandalf, he knew how, but let us amuse.

“My visions Gandalf,” Theresa stated, “They had shown me the symbol on the door.” She gestured to the exit with two fingers. “The Green Dragon. It called me for weeks, Gandalf and so I decided to leave Forochel and asked everyone I walked by where I would find a green dragon.”

She wouldn’t deny it, asking for a thing was dangerous, but eventually from ear to mouth and hand to feet she managed to finally find the curled symbol. It was the constantly painful ringing of the image that forced her to come and it never stopped until she arrived in Bree, a town of pig mannered men. She would’ve preferred to stay in her apartment in the ice town. Quiet and private.

Gandalf clapped a hand on the table and winked. Gesturing to her with his pipe, he announced what he viewed as great news. “It is a sign that you are meant to join us in our journey.”

Theresa’s eyes widened.

The inn fell silent just after the groups of hobbits left drunk out the door, singing hand in hand. Now they were alone to speak in peace. The host came padding to her with the jug of ale and a plate of roasted carrots, potatoes and rabbit leg. Before explaining that this wasn’t her meal, the hobbit puffed up his chest, “Meal is on the house ma’am!” he said proudly and completely discredited the wizard of anything. The ale was sitting beside her hot meal and the smell made her mouth watery with hunger. Blinking out of the delicious trance she turned her attention back to the quiet man.

She shook her head and laughed softly, “I beg your pardon? Journey did you say?”

The wizards’ eyes flickered away to the side, he coughed and waved his hand around trying to blow steam off from her food, “Well, not exactly a journey per se…more a chance to be able to have…. an adventure."

Taking in his behaviours Theresa knew there was more information to be taken, her hand grasped his and she whispered, "What kind of adventure?"

“…Well,” He coughed, “Actually it’s more of a quest and-”

“Gandalf!” The once princess scolded, “Tell me what is it you plan?”

His lips pursed and he rubbed his thumb across her palm and looked from side to side before taking all his nervousness and swallowing it down, “It… would seem… that a time is drawing nearer and nearer to the foretelling of…Erebor.”

Erebor….

“Erebor?” Her brows crossed, “The lonely mountain?” it had been over a century since she had heard the name of the fallen kingdom. It wasn’t something she really thought about anymore. Her mouth felt dry, something didn’t feel right. A slight ache behind her eyes started to grow.

Nodding and scratching his beard the wizard explained slowly, “Yes, the portents are showing the dragons reigning end.”

Portents! Who listens to that dribble!? The Princess felt a spite of fire light in her chest. Her head began to shake, a frown instantly spread across her mouth. Something was off!

“The end of that beast? What are you getting at Gandalf? That dragon cannot and will not die, those portents are mere silly rumours of fortune tellers no doubt.”

What way could anyone take down Smaug!? His thick hide is untouchable!

“I am telling you that a band of dwarves have come together to walk back and reclaim their stolen home, I am inviting you to return back to Dale and to-”

She could feel the urge to curl up her fists, her fingers trembled. For so long she would have nightmares, so many years she could still see the faces of the dead and the screams of her people haunting her. The wizard was only bringing her the emotions of uncontrollable anger and stress upon her heart and mind. To mention such a creature that took everything from her was enough to shatter the person she had been building herself up to.

She snapped, “I will not speak of this Mithrandir, you know my answer. I have wasted my time coming here.” She huffed, moving from her chair.

She went to stand before the elder grasped her wrist and held her firmly and sternly exerted “Theresa, you told me in the past that Lord Girion’s wishes were for you to-”

Her hand slammed onto the table before he could ever finish his sentence. Her face was red, heart thumping and mind screaming.

“You will leave his name out of this matter!”

The face of the not quite stranger she hadn’t seen in fifteen years looked utterly shocked by her reaction. His eyes turned sad, filling with the same pity she has always felt disgusted. She felt weak like this, still pawning and weeping over something that happened over one hundred and fifty years ago. She slowly sat down, sighing in defeat of the situation. Her face fell into her hands as while she groaned, “I apologise for raising my voice.”

"I understand your highness. However I assumed that if you wished to obey his final command, now is the opportune moment to return and rebuild Dale, to take back throne, to being Dales’ hope." Gandalf suggested putting his pipe out. When she lifted her fingers away, she saw the small smile on his lips, all was easily forgiven. But her eyes did roll.

Dales’ hope? Hilarious, my people are dead, what hope do they have?

She rested her chin on her knuckle, what was the harm now listening to his proposition and explanation? It would be fun picking out the faults in the wizards scheme, “Very well, continue. I and these dwarves arrive at the door step and the dragon is breathing. How are we to kill it?”

Gandalf brightened completely. His whiskers fluffing up as he exclaimed, “That is why every member of our travelling party has an important role to play. I have only chosen the best of the best for this job, including a burglar.”

She looked unimpressed, drawling on, “A burglar? Why would you need a thief?”

“This burglar is trained with stealthiest enough that Smaug wouldn’t be able to hear or smell him, he will go in and kill the dragon.”

Theresa scoffed, “And what is the name of this stupid dwarf?” followed by a snorting laugh of disbelief.

Suicide, that’s all this is for them!

“Actually it is a hobbit. His name is Bilbo Baggins and if you wish to join us, we will be gathering in his home tomorrow at seven o’clock sharp.”

Now, she was honestly stunned. Gandalf has planned indeed. A hobbit going up against a dragon, unbelievable. And yet…if she were to come, what use was she?

“You claim every member has a role, and mine is?”

The wizards smile fell slightly and lifted back into its uneasy grin. He has planned EVERYTHING.

“Well I mean….your feminine charm?” he paused, “and fortune telling!”

Theresa shoved her hand into her shirt and lifted out the cursed pendent. Rolling the single diamond between her thumb and finger she made it clear and obvious with a disrespectful hum, “I am not a fortune teller Gandalf. You know it is not I who sees it.”

“Soothsayer?” he offered.

“Is there even a difference?”

He shook his head and crossed his arms, “oh, trust me, there’s a big one, my dear.”

“Now,” He tapped the table, “What do you say? Will you return home?”

Home is back at the frozen mountain and icy bay…Dale is dead.

And yet, a thought, a laugh and a memory of the town was set in her heart. She wondered if anything had changed. No one remembers her, she is a history character. She wouldn’t have to come back to rule, would she? It wouldn’t even be her place now would it? all the lords and other neighbouring kings of men to lean on and depend on as advisors were all but dust now.

She bit her lip and tucked the necklace back into her shirt, “I shall think upon the matter. Do they know I might be joining? The dwarves?”

It would be embarrassing if they were the souls who knew of her, how she had abandoned her people in the last moments, how she ran away from all her privileges and even vow of marriage. Thorin of Durin is married now, is he not? A son or two surely is what I heard.

“No, and they will not know you as Princess Theresa when you meet them.” The wizard breathed with relief, he was starting to drag her in with a hook to a fish.

“I haven’t been a princess in over a hundred years,” Theresa giggled and suddenly stopped, brushing a stray hair behind her ear she whispered. “You seem very confident that I will attend.” Her grey eyes shined with curiosity which pleased the old one very much.

Slowly he stood in silence and as he made his way towards the door he called back, “It is a hope my dear.”

Theresa grinned, she would be there…

Her bulging eyes and watery mouth devoured the meal as fast as she could, sculling down her ale and tipsily waving toward the inn keeper who helped her too her room. A warm large bed with a small bedside table. Plopping down and snuggling beneath the blankets, she dreamt of green grass and a growing oak tree….

Chapter Text

That morning was different. It was unfamiliar. She was warm, and content. Something in her spirit was spitting with joy. Despite her reluctance with the old wizard the night before, she seemed to have had grown a slight excitement. It was an odd feeling. Her logic fighting against her emotions. But it felt wonderful.

Waking up and bathing herself in a basin that the inn keepers’ wife provided her was enough heavenly. To feel her finger nails become clean and rake out the dirt and sweat from her hair made her into a new and happy woman. The soaps washed out all her filth and left the fine scent of honey imprinted into her skin. And from the kindness of strangers and a golden coin she was able to have the inn keepers’ wife wash and dry her apron and dress.

While awaiting for the sun to complete its drying duty the inn keeper provided her a large breakfast of eggs and more fish with a jug of milk, inside the kitchen. Theresa never had felt as full as she had when she ate this meal. It healed all the growing aches of her belly and put her in a fantastic mood. She took notice on the values of Hobbits with their large and filling meals every second hour. Life within this country aside was calming and seemed to be always joyful; this was very different from her secluded life up north in the ice.

The three talked with enjoyable company throughout the day, ‘not many guests or customers to come by at this time, they came by the setting of the sun’, said the inn keeper.

They were a humble and generous couple, Gaffer and Bell, the inn keeper and his wife. They talked and talked until the day seemed to simple slip away. Theresa was somewhat disappointed when she noticed the sun setting and then surprised when she realised where she was meant to be. She had no idea where the hobbit Master Baggins even lived!

When she asked Gaffer, he gladly stroller her through the village to the hill while his Bell manned the tavern.

Theresa was grateful to him and provided him another coin with the knowledge of his future of a big and happy family to which he was ever so glad to hear of. When he travelled on his, she looked up the path and caught sight of light filling windows. She gently opened the closed gate and stood around the muddy foot prints of feet going up. Steadily stepping on the stones up and finally facing the door, her knuckle reached out to knock against the wood. Woosh!…hesitation hit, fear and guilt swept into her mind. Frantically she looked from side to side. Her hand shook and her fist clenched, she took in a deep breath of air. Why was she so scared? If the dwarves shammed her, she could always leave and hide in the middle of a desolate area again.

You are strong Theresa, you can do this.

Her name! Wait! What would she call herself? She could always lie to the dwarves who might recognise her, and besides; she was ‘dead’ after all.

She knocked on the door with a hitched breath and waited for an answer. She quickly was thinking of a name that would be easy for her and Gandalf to go by, nothing like ‘Alice Bundaberg’. Theresa remembered back to names she had used in the past. Biting her lip she agreed up the name Tess, it was after all her nickname, and Grimgray was the name she took when she stumbled upon other high ranked people  ‘Tess Grimgray’ that’s a name she could defiantly go by.

As she settled on a single name, the door of the hobbit door opened hastily, with a hobbit standing there looking annoyed and tired; until his eyes met hers and instantly widened in surprise.

"Miss Tess Grimgray, at your service." she curtsied respectively, bowing her head in more drowning respect. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach praying that she sounded realistic and hadn’t stuttered by any chance.

The hobbit was not what she had truly expected. Yes the hobbits were a clean kind, but to face a dragon would mean adventurous and possibly stupid youth. This hobbit was older and well dressed, he didn’t look like someone who would even leave their own house unless it was an emergency.

He blinked and choked. His hand ran through his brown curls before looking back into his home and then back to her. His face quickly wore and uneasy smile. His mouth opened and closed as if he was to inform or of something, but he never did.

Loud bangs echoed from inside and Theresa wondered if she had actually come to the wrong home.

“Are you Master Baggins?”

He jumped from the sound of her soft voice asking a question, he balanced his weight from foot to foot and nodded nervously. He bowed at the waist and hurriedly confirmed, “Yes, I am Bilbo Baggins, please come in.” his hand held the door a little more open for her to bend down and walk inside. She made a sharp point to avoid the shrunken roof and lights, her body slightly hunching over as she stood in his welcome arch. The green dragon was large, made for men and hobbits, this hole was only designed for the stubby species.

As she made her way through and into the parlour in the right, she noticed that in the kitchen in the next room was four dwarves. They were attempting to move a dining trolley it would seem into the parlor. They were a large lot, cladded in leather and stubby in size, standing up straight their heads might’ve reached her lower chest. When the dwarves noticed her entrance, they froze as did Theresa.

Do the recognise me? How could they!?

She bit her lip and felt her face grow a cold sweat.

A dwarf with a golden head asked bluntly, “Who are you?” a grey haired dwarf smacked him on the arm correcting the younger in a high voice, “Who might you be, Miss?”

The younger dwarf smiled and nodded sheepishly, asking Theresa again politely, “Who might you be Miss?”

Thank the heavens!

A weight of stress fell to the floor, a spurt of giggles left her lips, “My apologies, I am Miss Tess Grimgray. I am here on the account of Gandalfs’ invitation.”

A sheer gasp came from the hobbit beside her, his eyes narrowed at Theresa and he huffed, “Gandalf?!”

His hand smacked his forehead and he groaned, stomping his large foot on his floor in anguish and frustration. The door of his home knocked, followed by a loud bell. Theresa didn’t remember seeing a bell beside the door.

“Kili, c’mon lift, or else the others won’t fit in here,” Said the third dwarf to the forth.

And the host looked to them as he marched back to the door “Wait! How many are there?”

The bell of the door rang chaotically and the Hobbit finally started to yell. No, there is noboby home!”

Theresa blinked, something started to feel off. The host was extremely unprepared and didn’t seem to understand the amount of dwarves arriving, she thought it was very distasteful for him to volunteer to hold the meeting within his home without understanding or even preparing for the arrival. Her hand slightly pinched at the chain of her necklace, hoping to be provided with some guidance.

“Go away and bother somebody else! There is far too many dwarves in my dining room as it is!” the hobbit hoarsely proclaimed, “If this is some plotheads idea of a joke? Well, I can almost say it is in very poor taste!” his hand reached for the door handle and as it pulled out, a loud thud was heard followed by many irritable grunts. Theresa looked back to gasp and see a maintaining pile of dwarves in the door way.

"Gandalf?" Master Baggins sighed.

Walking quickly towards the kafuffle, Theresa took in the large sight of the dwarves rising and dusting themselves off while the wizard also stood inside. When Mithrandir and Theresa met, they smiled to each other.

“I am glad you decided to join us.”

Theresa laughed, “Miss out on all the danger? I think not.”

The dwarves had but only the look of confusion and some of surprise. They must’ve been shocked, a woman? What was Gandalf thinking? Dwarves surrounded them, but only one stood beside the wizard tugging at his robe asking, “Mister Gandalf, would you mind introducing us to the lovely lady?” while taking off his floppy hat.

Mithrandir started to randomly contract a coughing fit. “This is-Lady-of-” he finished, making eye contact with the princess.

"Miss Tess Grimgray of Forchel," she introduced myself by finishing Gandalf’s struggling sentence, “And you are Master Dwarf?”

Flashing her a goofy grin, he bowed deeply to the floor and introduce himself without any hesitation or waver in his voice, "It's a pleasure to meet cha' Miss Grimgray, if I may call you that? My name’s Bofur, and this ‘ere is me brother, Bombur and cousin Bifur," the dwarf then gestured to the fattest of their band and another with an axe blade lodged into his dear skull.

Theresa stared at the lodged axe blade with surprise and before she could even ask of it’s affects, the three fled into the next room.

The hobbit tried desperately to intervene and demand the wizard’s attention, but all the dwarves were moving around his home already and he was busy chasing them. On her way passed, she touched his shoulder slightly and saw an image of Gandalf in front of the hobbits fence. Something was strange, a cloud surrounded Gandalf, an angry emotion filled her chest.

Gandalf had started to count and then Theresa realised he was counting the dwarves as his finger gently pointed to one and another again. His eyes furrowed and he shook his head before walking into the hall and around the corner.

On Theresa’s right as Gandalf walked away to do his counting, a dwarf came up to her offering up a pot, “Would you like some camomile tea? I’ll heat some up for you over the fire.”

Theresa was both surprised and honoured by the offer. However despite her growing hunger and thirst, camomile tea was not her preferred taste. She would settle on a cup of wine, water or even ale like the night previous.

"Thank you for your offer Master Dwarf, however I think I might settle upon water for the moment," she folded her hands into her lap sweetly; the dwarf looked disappointed, rejected as if; thankfully only for a split moment until she inquired, "Master Dwarf, I do believe Gandalf might like some though." pointing towards the pantry where she thought Gandalf might’ve walked around to by now.

He nodded and hummed pleasantly, “If I may Miss Grimgray, may we you call Miss Tess? And there’s no need for this master dwarf business with me Miss, you may call me Dori," He beamed gingerly.

Her eyes widened. She was filled with a familiar joy. “Of course you may…Dori,” she giggled. It was good that at least some were kind to her; possibly due to her womanliness. She tapped his shoulder as she moved back into the parlour and out toward the kitchen. She stumbled into a large mess and continued through into the dining room. 

Coming into the dining room Theresa smiled to find that some of the feasting dwarves were having a contest in belching and burping. This was just some of the ways the wee little men of Aules’ children lived in their culture. Dwarrows were of no exception to this lifestyle and practise.

"Pardon me lass,” an older dwarf asked noticing how she stood by the archway, “if you want, you can sit by me," he politely offer a small chair beside him, it was small for her size however it would’ve been more comfortable than how she slouched under the wall. As he smoked his pipe he watched her gently deplete to the chair.

Sweeping her apron to the side she nodded to the dwarf with a gracious answer, "Why thank you, Master Dwarf."

"Balin,” he nodded to her, “What did you say your name was again, lass?" he asked, his grey brows lifted in the air.

"Oh it's Theresa-” her heart skipped a beat, “But please Master Balin, call me Tess Grimgray" she had almost said her real name! It was a troubled task as to keep identity secret, in truth a tip is to get use to the name you use before actually using it!

She bit her lip and smiled uneasily before steering her eyes to the audience of a heavy burping challenge. Theresa thought as a child it had a point system, but in fact it was a very simple contest in which one would have to be the most impressive whilst belching whether it was the length, pitch, rhythm of the belch.

"Is that so?" He stared at her for some time, no smile on his face. However Balin eventually sighed, blessing her with a warm smile, lifting up her hand and patted it gently, “Such a pretty name for a pretty girl, Miss Tess." It was not the words that made her internally shiver, it was the way his eyes locked to hers. The princess was wary and considered seeing his surrounding memories. It was a gamble to see into the past or the future and to see them clearly was still hard. The choice of which memories was not in her hands entirely. Either way she never did find Balin’s memories as the old dwarf slid his hand away from her too soon.

Theresa felt ill despite the kind smiled he gave. She sensed even without the necklace that he was far more interested in her than anyone in the room. In his eyes was the spark of curiosity and thought; this unsettled the once princess terribly. Her eyes drooped, she felt tired; she rolled her eyes at herself. Of course you’re tired you fool, you’ve been over exerting the power of the gem! She scolded.

As she looked on at the dwarves she concluded that through the burps and belches and heavy gas filled throat, it was a young dwarf with a shaven scalp who took on the winnings.

Master Bofur peered over at the fair lady sitting distantly on her stool besides the old man, his skilful mischief got the better of him. His hands slammed onto the table and his voice bellowed throughout the dining room.

“Care to participate in our undyin’ contest Miss Tess?”

Theresa was rattled by the sudden request. Why did he wrap her up into this? She knew better than anyone that she was not capable of such an art. She flushed, embarrassed by the many dozen eyes that laid onto her in expectance.

“Yes Miss, please show us a mark of a grand lady such as yourself!” proclaimed a redbearded dwarf. He reached forward along the table of food scraps a clumsily clasped a cup in which a dwarf beside him poured a heavy amount of ale into.

“Knock yerself out lass!” Bofur giggled.

The cupped was passed down the table to Balin and then onto Theresa herself who accepted it with an uneasy smile.

“Pray, I am in no manner in comparison to you, my dear Master Dwarf.” She said down to the young dwarf who appeared to bestow the most impressive noise before. Bofur lifted up his own mug and winked to her. Theresa reached out down to him with her long human arm and clinked his pint to hers.

The ginger dwarf rose his voice, “Ready?” looking to each ‘contestant’, “Set” Theresa’s heart thumped. Her lips barely a kiss away from the lips of the cup in her unsteady hand, “Go!”

The young woman guzzled as much down as she possible could of the cool drink. In the back of her head she could hear the intensity of Bofur releasing his mighty gas filled burp. It was short but impressively loud. When Theresa slammed the cup down, she felt the swelling in her stomach rise into her chest and up her throat. She squinted in concentration. She focused on the control of the activity while she let loose a softer sounding belch, it’s prolong of time in which it took to finish must have crowned her the winner. The dwarves sat back, verbally impressed.

“She ain’t no high-born lady after all lads!”

Theresa covered her mouth daintily and shook her head before laughing lightly. She didn’t think she’d win a contest like this let alone be challenged to one in the first place. She felt accepted by a rite of passage into the dwarven community. Better yet this solidified her past identity perfectly! What kind of princesses would ever make such a disgusting display? Never would this happen if she was married to the crown prince’s son at the time.

She looked around the room and made a notice, the King of the Blue Mountains had not arrived, unless she had forgotten what he had looked like and somehow he was the grey haired dwarf with a trumpet in his ear…

Mithrandir ducked into the room, looking down at her on her stool with an expression of amusement. He looked passed her and narrowed his eyes, his mouth soundlessly counting.

“Nine…eleven…twelve…it appears we have one dwarvish member short.”

“All of us are short Gandalf!” a young dwarf sitting beside the blonde laughed drunkenly, “if we wasn’t, we wouldn’t be dwarves!” he laughed harder, holding his side before tipping backwards and almost falling off his chair like a clumsy idiot, Theresa observed.

The wizard shook his head and lifted his finger, silently counting once more before a louder and rather scarier dwarf piped up from the corner of the dining room.

"Ah, he is just late is all. He travelled north to a meeting of our kin,” his voice softened with reassurance, “He will come." The thick dark tattoos covering his arms and his long black beard spread over his lips along with his massive eyebrows made him intimidating to look at.

By ‘He’ Theresa had assumed the worst, that ‘he’ was actually a ‘king’.

Her heart raced, she prayed to the higher powers that the dwarf whom may not recognise her the most would be the prince. They had never met on a personal occasion but her royal painting must’ve made it to him. She prayed that the king had a terrible memory of faces or gentle forgiveness towards weak human women.

The wizard exhaled thoughtfully, Dori walking up to his side with a glass cup in his palm, “Gandalf here is your red wine, it has a fruity bouquet!", before the wizard drank, she gave him a glare. A little unknown fact. Theresa had known Gandalf long enough to know he was a lightweight drinker, especially to the strong hood of a nice cherry wine. Mithrandir clearly saw her warning, but shrugged and ignored her. As the drink was swallowed down, the princess pinched the ancient being on the side. He chuckled and put aside the cup before going about the hobbit hole for more room.

Shaking her head she leant over and picked up a piece of cut cheese and looked behind her to see a very sad hobbit looking at his very empty pantry, she felt a pang of empathy for him. Theresa assumed that the poor Master Baggins hadn’t known the appetite of dwarves.

The dwarves started to rise up from their seats and started to move about, relaxing in other rooms of the cosy abode. Mister Baggin’s he, well…he then went chasing about his guests. Like a dwarf with reddish hair he went up and stole a doily off him.

“Ex…excuse me! That is a doily, not a dish cloth!” exclaimed the passing Hobbit.

Bofur had been standing beside the fireplace and remarked, “But it’s full of holes!”

Theresa followed the hobbit, attempting to calm him down. He seemed to be far too anxious, maybe he’s embarrassed to have not served enough food?

“It’s supposed to look like that!” He yelled, and then took a deep breath before calmly explaining, “It’s crochet…” holding up the doily in the light in front of the dwarf’s eyes.

Theresa rested her hand upon the hobbit’s shoulder and before she could ask him to sit down with her, Bofur replied with all sarcasm in his tone, “Oh! And a wonderful game it is too!...If you got the balls for it.”

Theresa shook her head slightly to the chuckle dwarf who immediately flushed in embarrassment. Mithrandir stood beside her thoughtfully, watching as well at the scene playing out for his poor hobbit host.

Master Baggins whined and smacked his head, “I can’t believe I’m bothering to confusticate these dwarves!”

Gandalf shook his head at Theresa, she wondered what was stirring the hobbit up so tightly. When she asked silently the wizard shrugged.

“My dear Bilbo, what on earth is the matter?” Gandalf asked moving between Theresa and Master Baggins.

The Hobbit did stop, his shoulders drooped in defeat and even Theresa suspected he might burst into tears. Bilbo, Theresa remembered was a kind fellow and refrained from using foul language especially in front of a woman.

Finally his red face calmed down into a soft blush pink, he swallowed and pointed a jabbing finger at Gandalf, “What’s the matter?” he scoffed and spread his arms out and gestured to his home, “I am surrounded by dwarves. What they’re doing here?"

As he was expressing his distress, Theresa began to piece something together. He didn’t know they were coming? And yet he is the host?

But how, why…who?....Gandalf. Theresa rolled her eyes, of course.

As the grand wizard began to settle, “Oh, well they're quite a merry gathering," two dwarves passed, tugging at each other over a leash of sausages. Theresa watched just as uncomfortably as Master Baggins had. Had Master Baggins ever met a dwarf?

"…Once you get use to them." she added quickly.

"I don't want to get use to them," complained Mister Baggins pushing his way through Gandalf and Theresa.

Then that's when he snapped, "The state of my kitchen! There's mud trotting the carpet!” he kicked a rug aside and continued storming through his home. “Th-they’ve pillaged the pantry!” and he froze, twirling back to face the concerned pair, “I'm not even going to tell you what they've done in the bathroom, they've all but destroyed the plumping!”

Plumbing? It’s been less than thirty minutes and the plumbing is destroyed?

Theresa didn’t remember dwarves being that chaotic and unclean; she hoped it wasn’t just the dwarrows who were clean.

Bilbo cried, “Gandalf! I don't understand! What they're doing in my house?" tears formed in the corners of his eyes, his nose sniffling, the poor hobbit was incredibly overwhelmed and with good reason too. Before Theresa could console the struggling Halfling, the young shaved bald dwarf came waddling up to Master Baggins.

"Excuse me,” he politely asked, bowing his head slightly, “I'm sorry to interrupt but what shall I do with my plate?" he asked sincerely.

Bilbo groaned and rubbed his face, his sweaty palms reached for the dish before a sudden hand swiped it away from both of them.

"Here you go Ori, give it to me," A slight chuckle departed with the plate and then hurtled towards another dwarf who then dangerously in turn throws it into the dining room. A pounding came from the dining room and on honest concern, Theresa rushed in to view a familiar gag. She grinned and decided the dwarves had everything completely under control, she should place herself down beside Balin and respectfully allow the ‘show’ to commence.  

Dwarves were known to be very…entertaining. If the dwarves were good at anything other than craftsmanship and mining, it was singing and dancing. Her mother told her of a story about dwarves once, a story for children that Theresa always kept close to herself as the years went on; a story about dwarves who sand whilst they mined and helped a princess named something silly like Snowy or something. Theresa always imagined she was that princess.

The dwarves were putting on a spectacle and from their fists slamming on the table design a beat she had assumed correctly that the short men would break out a melody.

"Excuse me! That’s my mother’s West Farthing bowl!...It’s over a hundred years old”, she could hear Mister Baggins panic. Turning back to the other dwarves, they started to play with knives and forks making a beat of music. Bilbo Baggins came running into the room after hunting down his other bowls were rolling.

He pleadingly asked, "C-can you not do that,” the dwarves chuckled as they chimed the cutlery, “Y-you'll blunt them!" Mister Baggins tried to stop them, but he had realised fully that dwarves don’t listen to anyone.

"You ‘ear that lads?” piped Bofur, “He says we'll blunt the knives!?"

Bofur smiled mockingly towards Master Baggins. Finally a song broke out from the dwarves as they tossed plates around the room, "Blunt the knives and bend the forks!" each item being passed around the room in a patterned line.

"Smash the bottles and burn the corks!" Theresa found that the cups were landing into her palms suddenly and the shock caused a joy to erupt inside of her despite the obvious sight of a displeased hobbit.

"Chip the glasses and crack the plates!” She soon got the hang of it, go with the beat, just catch the plate or dish and pass it to Balin’s hands.

“That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!”

Dwarves got out of the seats and started to sweep the floor,

“Cut the cloth and trail the fat!”

Theresa found a cloth and started to wipe down the table,

“Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!”

Cups and plates piled up in the sink, a dwarf washing away as his duty.

“Pour the milk on the pantry floor, splash the wine on every door!”

The dwarves drank briefly before passing on their mugs and such.

“Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl! Pound them up with a thumping pole!”

 The extra food scraps were thrown into a bucket and tossed outside the window.

“And when you've finished, if they are whole, send them down the hall to roll!”

The lyrics were things of old forgotten times of her youth, those days in which she snuck away from her room and walked down town to the taverns, hidden away so none saw or recognised the princess. But on a rare occasion…her father caught her and lifted her onto his hip.

“That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!" They all laughed loudly as a tired, stressed and miserable Master Baggins pushed through all the dwarves, shocked at the clean room and dishes that laid stacked on the table. Theresa stood beside a brunette dwarf who cackled, "Look at his face," nudging her and holding onto his middle as he leaned backwards. The dwarves all clapped their hands and joked about Master Baggins reaction, congratulating one another.

And then it happened…

A knock on the door followed by a pitching ring of a bell.

Theresa stared to Master Baggins for any answers, it was Mithrandir who whispered, "He's here."

He’s here…Theresa noticed that Gandalf was only looking to her, none of the dwarves.

He’s here…Theresa blinked, oh, him, he’s here…

The wizard and Princess managed to make first audience into the front entrance hall. The dwarves all stumbled pushing each other towards the door as Bilbo Baggins sighed and opened it with a mighty swing, stepping back to see who had also interrupted him on this fair night.

There stood a dwarf, yet not any dwarf. He was majestic and handsome, the moon behind him shone a halo around his body. He was different, from the last time she saw him. His eyes were filled with age, his skin tanned and tattooed and scarred from the many battles he had fought… a blue cloak trailed behind him as he slowly stepped in.

This was Thorin of Durin, son of Thrain, son of Thror… “King beneath the mountain.” She mouthed silently behind Gandalf.