It was late in the day when you had to return to the bakery for Mrs. Mimms’ medicine. Summer had set in to a merciless heat, but at least it meant that daylight lasted a little longer. You walked outside to. behold a treacherous looking sky, but the doctor insisted that the medicine be taken at each meal and the walk was less than a mile, so you went on, determined to get as far as you could before the rain began. When the first warm, heavy droplets hit you, you were shocked. Less by the precipitation than by your own reaction to it. It felt like all the cares of the past years were somehow sopped up into those sweet rolling drops of rain. You felt light. Free. Even a little ridiculous, but it didn’t matter. You felt like a child again. You didn’t care about the odd looks you were getting from every other person on the road as they trudged miserably through the mud. You were truly, purely happy and that was something you hadn’t felt in far too long.
When you arrived at the bakery, you noticed how awful your boots looked, caked in mud and leaves. Any other time you would have sighed and gotten to work cleaning them, but instead you laughed. You laughed at the thought of Mrs. Mimms’ face when she would see you in your wild mess. In a moment of sobriety, you carefully took off your boots in the mudroom and hiked your skirt as you tiptoed into the back room to grab the medicine. Marco was still there, keeping the shop in case anyone wanted to buy the odds and ends that were left after a busy day, but there was no need to give him a heart attack. You inwardly scolded him for being so careless as to not notice someone sneaking into the kitchen, but it worked in your favor. Being so careless, he probably wouldn’t even notice the small loaf of sweet bread you tucked into your satchel.
You giggled as you snuck back out. You grinned at the butcher across the street as he looked on at you in horror. Yes, you were drenched from head to toe and beaming like a groom on his wedding day, but was that really so bad? Oh well. Maybe he would finally stop throwing his son at you like a prized pig that you should want. You stood a moment to breathe in the moment before you began to dance. You twirled in the mud like a child, revelling in the satisfying squish of the Earth moving to accommodate your whims… and then you hit something. You wiped your sleeve across your face, pushing the water enough to let you see the figure in front of you, and at that moment all of your carefree happiness seemed to evaporate. There stood the only reminder you needed that happiness is fleeting.
Thorin stood staring at you, his lips parted, eyes pensive. Neither of you knew what to say, and so you didn’t. For a moment you stood unsure of how this meeting felt. The feeling in your chest was flavored with joy and anger at the same time, and you didn’t know which to let win.
“I haven’t seen you like this since we were children.” He finally broke the silence, and your relief was almost tangible. You ran to him and hugged him, and he held you fast. His body was like a furnace against the cold wet of your own, but you broke the hug to get a proper look at him.
“What’s happened?” You asked, a thousand thoughts running through your head. The worst being that the rumors of a dragon were not mere rumors… the best being that he could have somehow realized the hope you dared not let yourself give in to. The latter you choked down to the smallest corner of your heart.
“We need you. There was a fire drake… Grandfather, he…” Thorin couldn’t seem to piece enough information together to form a coherent thought, but you nodded anyway and he turned to lead you Mahal knows where.
“I can’t.” You blurted out suddenly remembering the old woman whose medicine had driven you into this torrential rain.
“You can’t?” And like that you were reminded of the thunderous temper that made loving Thorin difficult at times.
“I can’t. I have to bring this medicine to Mrs. Mimms! If she doesn’t have it she may fall ill again and I owe her far too much to let that happen on my account.” You stood your ground stubbornly.
Thorin smiled sadly, lowering his gaze for a moment, calculating some unspoken thing.
“Fine. Lead the way, m’lady.” He conceded almost too easily, but your wariness is washed away with the need to see to this business.