Bella bit back her sobs as she ran through the corridors, seeking the sanctuary of her chambers. The ring could make her invisible but not silent and she wouldn’t give those bastards the satisfaction of knowing that they had hurt her. As it was, it was all she could do to avoid running into anyone with the tears blurring her eyes. After what seemed like an eternity she finally reached her rooms and ran inside. Doing only the barest sweep to make sure that her chambers were empty, she shut the door and locked it before crumpling to the floor and letting her tears flow.
It had been such a good day when she’d awoken, one full of promise and hope. Things were finally settling down in Erebor. It had been six months since the battle, Thorin was back on his feet, and Spring was just around the corner, hopefully bringing with it the Lady Dis and Fili and Bella’s wedding.
And hadn’t that been the shock to end all shocks. First the battle, which was a nightmare. Then all three Durins had been so gravely injured that their chances of survival were inching farther and farther from slim and had practically reached none. Bella hadn’t left their sides for days and none of the company had had the heart to remove her, even though she’d technically been banished during the whole Arkenstone debacle.
So when Kili had woken and demanded breakfast, there had been a small celebration as hope sprang back to life. Then Thorin had woken and demanded to see her, making her cry when he forgave her and lifted her banishment. But days passed and still Fili slept. Over a week had passed since his brother and uncle had woken when Fili had finally opened his eyes. She’d smiled at him, walked out of the tent, and promptly burst into tears. The ensuing uproar and confusion that followed took the better part of an hour to sort out and by the end of it, it had been firmly established that Fili was in fact not dying and that he and Bella were betrothed.
That had been months ago and the time had passed swiftly since then as they’d all thrown themselves into the restoration of Erebor. Although each day was filled to the brim, Fili always made sure that they’d spent time together daily. The time they spent together was pleasant and she had begun resenting having to part at the end of the day. They’d been snowed in shortly after the battle, so Dis’s caravan had been delayed until Spring and Bella couldn’t wait until she arrived so that she and Fili could finally wed.
Although Erebor had been reclaimed from the dragon, there was still so much to do before it could be a fit home for the dwarves. Most of the company spent their days checking the stability of the mountain, although Gloin had begun the monumental task of trying to start organizing the treasury and Balin had the headache of the paperwork that comes with any government. She and Ori had spent the better part of the winter searching through the library and archives for any treaties that would benefit the dwarves while they worked at getting back on their feet. But as Spring approached, Bella turned her thoughts to the lands around the lonely mountain. Although Smaug had burned off all the plants, the ash would have just enriched the soil and the long rest would have enriched the land. However, dwarves were not known for their farming skills, so the task of planning and preparing fell entirely on Bella and the few dwarves that could be spared from the rebuilding effort. It wasn’t that Thorin couldn’t understand the importance of growing food, it was just that all the food in the world wouldn’t make a difference if they were dead from cave-ins or exposure.
Which brought her back to today. Bella had been hurrying to meet with her group of dwarves near a small gate on the side of the mountain. The snows had finally melted to the point where she could finally start assessing the land beneath. She’d barely noticed the hallways growing emptier as she reached the unused section of the mountain, too excited to be back out in the sunlight. It was this inattention that enabled the small groups of dwarves to grab her and drag her into a small side room.
They bound her and roughly shoved a gag into her mouth, silencing her protests over her handling. At this point, she started fearing for both her virtue and her life, as she recognized none of the dwarves surrounding her. However, what had happened had been a violation she could have never imagined. They had pinned her down and then shaved both her head and her feet. They even had gone so far as to shave her eyebrows off. They’d laughed heartily at her cries and pleas and her futile attempts at fighting. She’d seen red and known that Dwalin was going to have kittens and make her train for months. Then the dwarves scattered, the last one pausing only briefly to untie her and make a comment so foul that if she’d had the strength, she would’ve run him through without remorse. When she’d growled at him, he simply laughed and said, “See if yur prince still wants ya now with your shame apparent for everyone to see.”
Bella froze at that and the dwarf had disappeared. She’d been around dwarves long enough that some of their culture had begun to rub off on her. Their respect for their hair and it’s care had become such a fact of life that she rarely thought about it, growing hers out and allowing Fili to carefully braid her betrothal braid in daily. Her hands flew up to her bare scalp and she gave a cry of outrage as she realized that they’d taken her hair and beads with them. The braid that marked her as Fili’s intended was gone, along with the braids and beads that marked her as part of both the Ur and the Ri families. It had been one of the happiest days of her life when they’d approached her about adopting her into their families and although her tears had sent them into a frenzy of recriminations and back peddling, she’d managed to pull herself together long enough to explain that they were happy tears and that she was honored to be part of their families. They’d also taken the beads that Balin and Oin had given her that marked her as both a scholar and a farmer/healer.
These beads and braids had become such a part of her identity that she felt naked without them. Scrambling to her feet, she started panicking, her breath coming in rapid gasps. What was she to do? How would this reflect on the company, on her family? What would Fili think? He adored her hair, would he think less of her for what happened, would he be ashamed of her? Swallowing a cry, she shoved the ring on her finger and headed for her room. She couldn’t let anyone see her like this. She was never sure how she reached her rooms, but after she locked the door, she collapsed to her knees and started sobbing. How could anything good ever happen after this?