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You trudged back to the camp, grumbling to yourself about having to go look for firewood by yourself this late in the night. “Stupid Thorin with his stupid demands. He’s not even the stupid king yet. And without me, he won’t be.” You smiled to yourself at that and made a mental note to bring that up to him next time he gave you some worthless command.

You froze when you heard unfamiliar voices booming through the trees. “That one’s mine! Give it back!”

“I’m the biggest, I should get the one with the most meat on it. You can have that scrawny one over there.”

Trolls, you cursed. You dropped the logs and pulled your bow from your shoulders, crouching down and hiding in the low bushes. Through the leaves you could see your company tied together, grumpy pusses donning their faces. Idiots. Did they even try to escape?

The trolls continued to argue over which dwarfs they got to eat and you cowered in the foliage. You had never seen an enemy this big and there were three of them. You had to come up with a plan quick, or they would capture you too and all hope would be lost. You father had told you about trolls and how to kill them… if only you could remember.

You looked back to the dwarfs and made eye contact with Fili. He shook his head at you, warning you to steer clear of the big ugly beasts. You smirked in answer and he huffed, defeated. He knew you too well to think you’d give up on the company to save yourself. Then Thorin grabbed your eye. He winked at you and you crinkled your nose. What was that?

Then it dawned on you. You winked back and pulled an arrow from your quiver, waiting for the trolls to stand in the perfect place.

“I’m hungry!” The smallest troll bellowed. It moved to pick up Ori. “I’ll take this one-”

An arrow through its eye silenced it and sent it falling to the ground. Quicker than a blink, you loosed another arrow from your bow and took down the second troll. But you weren’t fast enough for the third.

The most fearsome of the three growled at you, sending the foliage around you shaking in the wind of its foul breath. “What’s here?” it asked. Strong fingers the size of ponies surrounded your body and pulled you up into the air. You wiggled, dropping your bow and hearing it crack on the ground far below. You managed to pull an arm free and punched the troll’s hard skin with all your might but it only laughed at you.

“I like the fiery ones. They taste the best.”

You stilled in its grasp as it chuckled at you. It pulled you higher, closer to its face and you spat on its wrinkled cheek. Its eyes grew dark. “Come to save your friends? Your mistake.” Its hold on you tightened, sucking the breath from your lungs. You grunted and wheezed as it squeezed you and smiled at your pain. You were sure your eyes would pop out of your face at any moment, and then it stopped.

Your head lolled on your shoulder and you met your company’s worried faces. Thorin and Fili desperately pulled at their restraints, but they were both unsuccessful. Through heavy eyelids, you gazed at Fili, willing him to calm down. A sort of comfort filled you in knowing he was there, though he couldn’t save you. You closed your eyes and felt wet tears hide in your lashes.

“I said, wake up!” the troll bellowed, flicking your face with its finger with a force you were sure would throw your head from the rest of your body. You cried out in pain, but looked the enemy in the eye. “I asked you a question,” it said. “Who should I cook first? The bald, brawny one? What about your leader? Or the idiot with the mustache braids?”

Your head fell from shoulder to shoulder. “No,” you muttered.

“Oh? Ooohhhh, the girl’s in love. You in love with him?” It said, dropping its fist until you were floating right in front of Fili. “How sweet.”

You mumbled something and grunted when the ground flashed below you again as the troll brought you up to his ear. “What’d you say, girl?”

“I said, ‘dwarf is not on the menu.’” With your remaining strength, you pulled your dagger from the holster on the back of your shoulder and threw it into the troll’s eye. Its screams made your ears ring as it stuttered backwards. You fell from its grip and landed hard on the ground with a grunt.

It took a moment for the world around you to steady. You pulled your dagger from the dead thing’s eye and made your way the best you could over to the huddle of dwarfs. You couldn’t hear their grumbles of gratitude or praise, only ringing and pounding in your head. You cut the ties around Thorin and handed him your dagger, unable to help anyone else.

Your arm wrapped tight around your middle and you were sure you had injured a rib or two. You hissed at your pain and wobbled as if you were trying to walk on water. The ground tried to flip you onto your back but luckily, you were caught by strong arms before you could hit the ground again.

“Easy, (Y/N). You’ll be alright.” You recognized Fili’s voice and whispered his name as he laid your head over his thigh.

You forced your eyes open and a blurry version of Oin came into view. “Here, lass. Milk of the poppy. Drink.”

You followed his orders and dark waves of nothingness dragged you far away.

***

You awoke with a whimper. Sharp pain dug into your chest and you wished you could return to your deep sleep where your agony couldn’t reach you. Then your bedroll moved below you and you realized you weren’t sleeping on a bedroll at all. You had been sleeping on Fili’s chest and now he was as awake as you were. How on Middle Earth did you end up between his legs with your back glued to his chest? You tried to sit up and gasped at the foul pain in your ribs and the thrashing in your head.

“(Y/N), stop moving. You’ll only hurt yourself.” Fili’s voice was low with the early morning hour.

“How did I even… the last thing I remember was cutting Thorin loose.”

“You injured a couple ribs and bruised up your face pretty badly. Nothing too serious, according to Oin. Milk of the poppy helped you sleep but gave you terrible nightmares. This was the only thing that would calm you down.” He lifted you to stand as carefully as he could and you wavered in his arms a bit before he let you go.

“I’m sorry if I bothered you during the night,” you said, rubbing your forehead.

He reached for your hand. “Don’t touch it, you’ll make the pain worse. And you were no bother at all. I quite enjoyed your company,” he smiled lightly.

You hummed and turned from him. It’s the pain. It’s making you batty, you thought. You started away from him. You weren’t quite sure where to go or even how far you’d be able to go but you had to get away from him.

“(Y/N), wait. Can we- I mean, we should probably talk about-”

“Not now, Fili. I-my head is pounding and I can hardly breathe. Later, okay?”

You heard him hum before you joined the rest of the company around the morning fire. You were given breakfast and a hero’s welcome after Thorin helped you to sit on the log. “Smart girl,” he said. “We owe you our lives.”

You grinned at the high praise. “Keep my ribs from piercing my lungs and I’ll call it even.” You managed a small chuckle at the laughter that surrounded you.

You tried to ignore Fili staring at you over the fire as you ate and listened to the company’s stories about their run ins with trolls. After a few hours, before the sun rose too high in the sky, all the dwarfs left you to gather up the camp. All but one.

Fili plopped down next to you and you sighed. “This isn’t fair. You know I can’t get up by myself.”

He chuckled and your stomach flipped at the sweet sound. “You will be the death of me,” he said. “Do you know how worried I was about you?”

“Well, I couldn’t just let you all die. Getting cooked and eaten by a troll is a very bad way to go, don’t you think?”

He hummed, pulling at the sleeves of his tunic. “What it said, about me- about you… was it true?”

You waved him away. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does. It matters to me,” he breathed. “Do you?”

“Listen, I thought we were all going to die-”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Fili-”

“Are you in love with me?”

“Yes.”

You stared back at him until you couldn’t bear his gaze any longer. You watched the flames rising from the logs before you. “But I’ll get over it. We’ll get you that mountain and then I’ll go somewhere else. Back to Gondor, I don’t know. The point is, you won’t even have to think of me again.” Before the silence droned on too long, you spoke again. “Now, will you help me up? I’d like to leave.”

You finally looked back to him and saw he was frozen where he sat. “Fine,” you mumbled, struggling you get yourself up off the log. You leaned over and pushed, almost falling into the fire with a cry of pain.

Then his arms were around you, sitting you back on the log as he knelt before you. “You’re a human.”

You sighed, pushing his warm hands away from you. “Yes. I’m fully aware that I’m human and you’re a dwarf prince. You don’t have to tell me how silly and juvenile it all is. Like I said, I’ll get over it.”

His hands returned to you. “I don’t want you to get over it.”

You breathed out a laugh that dripped with ugly sarcasm and disbelief. “That’s really nice, Fili. I’ll follow you around and be at your beck and call forever, is that how you’d handle me?”

“(Y/N).” He shook his head and rifled through his pocket. “I don’t want you to move on. I want to court you, I want you to be mine.” He showed you a round, silver clasp that lie in his palm. “This is a courting bead.”

You realized he was waiting for some kind of reply from you. “I know what it is,” you whispered.

“I’ve carried it around with me since the night I first saw you. I thought I was being utterly delusional thinking such a strong, clever, stunning human woman could ever love me.”

You shook your head. “Not delusional.”

He grinned and rolled a knuckle down your soft cheek. “Then will you honor me with your permission to braid your hair and begin our courtship?”

You smiled so hard, the bruised skin on your forehead ached. Fili rose from his knees to sit next to you and ever so gently gathered the smooth tresses around your temple. He took his time twisting the locks together into an intricate and beautiful courting braid saved for the high born of Erebor. Once he fit the bead on the end, he finished the small ceremony with a kiss to your head.

You turned to him and caressed his cheek. He kissed you gently and your head now swam with longing instead of pain. He drew away and held your hand tight and you grinned with pride knowing you were the one who had made him happier than you had ever seen him.

“Are you telling me that it took trolls almost killing us all for you two to finally get together?” Kili yelled to you.

The dwarfs hooted and called to you when they saw your courting bead shining in the sun. You hid your bashful smile in Fili’s neck and he slid his arm around your waist, chuckling. “I guess he’s right. Don’t tell him I said that, he’ll never let it go.”