It had been a long day of riding in the company through the forest. It had been a beautiful but windy day, trees swaying in the strong wind. Your braid, which had grown a lot since you first arrived in Middle Earth, was suffering the wind greatly as it blew leaves, dirt, and small sticks at the company. The dwarves were all taking the weather’s treatment in stride, only a few complaints here and there, and you could see Thorin up in the front, his hair majestically waving through the winds current as always.
You were jealous of the king and how he seemed to always keep his hair so soft and tangle-free, even with the strong winds. Was it a certain oil he used? Some sort of softening agent that kept it so silky smooth? You huffed, and Thorin finally called out when the company arrived to a small clearing, a seemingly good place for camp.
“We stop here for the day. Nori, Gloin, get the fire started.”
Nori and Gloin jumped from their horses, and Thorin turned to you.
“(Y/n), you’re watching the ponies with Master Baggins.”
You nodded, smiling softly though you were frustrated with the weather.
“Okay. Is there anything else you want me to do?”
Thorin seemed to think about it before shaking his head.
“No, but I’m sure you can make yourself more useful to someone else in the camp once the ponies are finished and Master Baggins can take them over.”
You nodded, immediately thinking of Bombur, and you jumped from your horse, gathering the ponies of the dwarves. Tying them up, you began to loosen their saddles and their bags, gently brushing their manes. Bilbo came beside you, patting Minty's mane, his hair wind-swept.
“I can take them over, dear. You should probably try to take care of your hair.”
You grabbed your braid, eyes bulging from the sight of a matted rope of the frizziest hair you’d seen in your life. Leaves, small twigs, and other small fauna was in your hair, making it a worse mess than it was before. You knew you should have rebraided it the other day, but Mahal, you’d been so busy and negligent of it that it had become what it was now. You sighed and nodded, and Bilbo looked at you apologetically.
“I don’t mean to be impolite about it, but goodness, it has to be so uncomfortable with all those sticks!”
You smiled lightly, patting Bilbo’s back.
“It’s alright, Bilbo. I didn’t take any offence to it at all. You’re right.”
Bilbo’s shoulders relaxed a bit, and you smiled before setting up your spot in the camp. Immediately, you sat down and began to work at your hair. Plucking all of the leaves that you could from it, time passed by incredibly fast, and in no time, Bombur was calling the dwarves for dinner. Having made little progress on your hair, you hoped that dinner would ease your growing agitation.
Grabbing your bowl of stew, Bofur, Fili, and Kili began to entertain the dwarves while you sat away from them all, shoveling your food into your mouth quickly so you could get back to your hair before it got too late. When your bowl was licked clean, you set it aside quickly and began to work on the braid again. Plucking the smaller sticks for your hair first, you carefully worked them out and became distracted from the pieces of dead leaves scattered in your tangled locks.
Plucking the pieces out one by one, time became an illusion all over again, and when you finally came back to reality, all of the company, except for Thorin, who was on watch, were snoring away. Your arms were burning, the joints in your fingers sore, and you were frustrated beyond relief. The matted mess of your hair was yielding to be extremely difficult to untangle, and you didn’t have a good brush with you to help with the mess.
Needless to say, you needed help.
However, the only person up that was awake along with you was Thorin, and there was no way you were enlisting the help of the King. You brought your hands bag up, tugging at a stubborn twig, and it snapped. You slammed your hands down into your lap, clutching your trousers tightly and clenching your teeth. You were so fucking frustrated, good lord.
Thorin, who had heard the sound of your frustration, looked over, and you pleaded with him, giving him a look of utter defeat and frustration.
“Thorin, please help me with my hair. I can’t get any of the tangles and fauna out so I can rebraid it. You gotta tell me what you use because your hair always so damn nice without even trying.”
Thorin seemed to freeze, bristling from the words coming from your lips. His ears went red from the compliment of his hair always looking nice, and he swallowed thickly before turning away from you.
“No, I can’t help you. Go to sleep. We will leave you behind if you sleep in.”
You felt yourself seem to sink in defeat, and Mahal, you were so frustrated, embarrassed, and just so done that your eyes welled up with tears. Thorin seemed shocked from the tears welling in your eyes, and you turned away from him, tugging at the end of your braid and trying not to sob in defeat as you hid your face from him.
Thorin clenched his fists. He hadn’t meant to make you cry, but there were certain things that he couldn’t do for you because of the customs and traditions of his people. A dwarf was only to braid the hair of immediate family and those they intended to court…it was wrong to just braid anothers hair! Even just touching anothers hair was wrong! But you were human…was it possible that you hadn’t known?
“Please…Please don’t cry, (Y/n). I’m sorry. I don’t…I don’t refuse you because I don’t want to help you. In my culture, hair braiding is reserved only for immediate family and those we intend to court…as well as even touching it.”
You sniffled a bit and nodded, seeming not really be listening to him, and Thorin sighed deeply. Your hair truly was a mess, and he swore he could see a...possibly living butterfly stuck in it too. Moving slowly, Thorin sat behind you, and you gazed back at him in surprise, your cheeks wet and red with tears. Thorin felt bad and he replied to you softly.
“Alright…I’ll help you with your hair….in the human way.”
You wiped your face furiously, asking with a broken voice.
“Yes, only because your hair truly does look terrible.”
You shook your head, head hanging down though you held a small smile.
“Oh…Thorin, you flatter me so. I might faint before you if you keep saying such things.”
Thorin could hear the sarcasm in your voice, the amusement like a soft melody in a chorus of angered voices. Thorin chuckled softly, replying as he began to skillfully fix your hair.
“I have been told that I am gifted with words.”
You hummed a bit, and a comfortable silence came upon you both. The soft tugging and brushing comforted you, and Thorin said softly.
“I am sorry for making you cry, (Y/n).”
“It wasn’t just you, Thorin. It was…at the situation. I shouldn’t be so negligent of my hair, but these past few days have kept me preoccupied. Fighting orcs, going on the run, and travelling while at the mercy of Nature doesn’t really give much time to attend to one’s hair.”
Thorin nodded, glad that he wasn’t the sole reason for making you cry, but he still felt bad all the same. Gently, Thorin brushed through your hair, taking out all of the twigs and missed leaves and tangles. As he worked his comb through your hair, Thorin thickly swallowed. Your hair was…very nice. So incredibly nice when brushed through and taken care of.
“I was so frustrated that I was ready to cut my braid off.”
Thorin almost choked on his own saliva and oxygen, and he hissed.
“Why on earth would you do that?!”
You sighed and replied softly, picking at a loose thread in your trousers.
“Because it would be easier to deal with short hair than my long hair. Hair isn’t held at such a high standard in human culture, not even in my world. We can wear our hair as we please, short or long. Besides, Bilbo’s hair is so short, he doesn’t have to worry about tangles and sticks like I have to.”
Thorin shook his head.
“Long hair can be just as manageable as short hair. With hair like yours, it would be devastating to see it cut off.”
Thorin’s ears pinked, and he admitted softly as he finally got your hair from its matted prison.
“Because you have very beautiful hair. Dwarves only cut their hair in the event of dishonor and in mourning. You have certainly not dishonored anybody and nobody in the company has perished yet.”
You asked softly as Thorin’s fingers ran through your scalp, finding where the knots were and beginning to gently brush them out.
“What about beards?”
“Of the highest degree. A dwarf’s beard is his most prized feature. The cutting and shaving of a dwarf’s beard is an incredible sign of shame.”
You paused, thinking about Thorin’s beard, and you asked him.
“Then why do you wear yours short? You haven’t shamed any of us.”
Thorin sighed deeply, his hands falling from your head and into his lap.
“No, maybe not you or the company…but my people as a whole. I have lost Erebor…lost my father and grandfather…”
His voice trailed off, and you shook your head, turning to Thorin. Thorin gazed at you with a sad look in his eyes, and you placed your hands atop his own.
“Thorin, I do not know what endeavors you have went through in your life. I only know of the ones Balin has told…but I don’t think you have shamed anyone. You’ve created a life of prosperity and plenty in Ered Luin. You have led your people for a hundred years and they prosper. If anything, you became the king that they needed, giving them what it is that they needed so desperately…and that was a home.”
Thorin’s jaw went slack, and you looked down, gently squeezing his hands in comfort.
“You might feel as though you have dishonored your people because of the loss of Erebor…for not having found your father just yet…for the death of your grandfather, but you must understand that Smaug is a much greater foe than anybody had thought he was…as well as Azog. I’ve never faced dragons or orc warlords or been betrayed by a people who had promised to stand by my side even in the greatest of challenges…but I know that the things you have done for your people is far from being called to shame…at least, in my world.”
Thorin’s eyes became glassy, and you smiled at him softly. Turning back around, you said to him, your cheeks flushing as the feeling of his hands in your own lingered.
“You are not a shame to us, Thorin…especially not to me.”
There was a moment of silence before his hands slowly came to your hair, and he whispered softly.
“You have no reason to speak such things for me, but you do it so freely…why?”
“Because it seems that nobody else is willing to do so.”
Thorin began to gently braid your hair, making sure it was tight and wouldn’t become frizzy or matted too soon. You said softly.
“Words won’t do much…but it is always a comfort to know that someone will stay by your side, no matter what has happened and what will happen.”
Thorin was quiet, simply focusing on your braid, but his fingers trembled, your words running through his mind a mile a minute. For once, Thorin was at a loss for words, unable to think of anything to say to you. You owed him nothing, not even loyalty, but yet you gave it to him so freely and unconditionally. It was mind-boggling how someone could have so much trust in him just to do it.
Tying off your braid with a leather strip, you were quiet before saying softly.
“I’m sorry for bursting out like I did.”
“It is alright. Do not apologize to me.”
Thorin held onto the end of your hair, simply feeling the softness of the lock before allowing it to fall against your back. He stood, his face red, and he cleared his throat.
“You should get some sleep.”
You nodded and lied down, trying to make the blush on your face go away as well as the pounding of your heart, and you let out a shaky breath.
It was quiet before you heard Thorin say softly.
Smiling, you allowed yourself to calm and fall to sleep. Thorin, who had gone back to his original spot, stared at you with a soft look on his face. He was rubbing his fingers together, remembering the feeling of your hair. Tingles ran down his spine, and Thorin paused before putting his face in his hands.
He was so screwed.