Thorin was confused.
Most dwarves in Erebor agreed that Thorin was a good king, fair in his dealings and never one to back away from defending his people. There were plenty, however, who agreed that politics was not his strong point. Thankfully he surrounded himself with advisors who could make up for this shortcoming. Usually that worked quite well.
The current situation, however, was just as perplexing to Thorin's sister Dis. The situation being hobbits.
More specifically, the treaty that Balin was attempting to negotiate with the Thain of the Shire, where the clever little farmers lived. The hobbits' expertise in growing food was desperately needed in Erebor itself, and trade between the Shire and Ered Luin was just as important. As such, Thorin had been prepared to offer a marriage alliance to help solidify the agreements – after all, from his point of view the dwarves were getting the most out of the potential deal. A marriage would help to reinforce the dwarven promise of martial aid should the Shire ever come under attack, as the hobbits would be considered kin of the ruling family. With himself and his two heirs unwed, Thorin had not thought there would be an issue.
Until he'd received the puzzling missive from Balin, that was.
The Thain, after some discussion, has agreed that a marriage may be beneficial. He has a few stipulations, many of which are standard and I have agreed to without concern. The others, however, I believe you must consider for yourself.
One is that the hobbit who enters this agreement must be given an area in the mountain with access to soil and sunlight. The Thain has stressed the importance of this for the health of hobbits. I believe that we should be able to accommodate this request.
“Hobbits are odd creatures, aren't they?” Dis had murmured after reading that part of the letter. “But... Amad's gardens have... deteriorated I the last few years. Perhaps...”
“Perhaps a hobbit's attention could have them flourish again,” Thorin nodded. His mother had been better with growing things than most dwarves, and her greatest treasure had been the private gardens her husband had had installed for her as a wedding gift. It would not be difficult to ensure that the hobbit had access to them.
That decided, they continued.
The second stipulation also regards the wellbeing of the intended. The Thain asks that the chosen hobbit be given a trial period for living in the mountain, with the option of returning to the Shire if they cannot adjust to the different lifestyle. He has agreed that should this happen, any treaties will still be honoured. I see no problem agreeing to this, as he is merely looking after the mental wellbeing of his kin.
“That sounds reasonable,” Throin shrugged. Dis nodded her agreement.
“I imagine it will be something of a shock for whoever comes, living amongst strangers with none of their own kin nearby. A reassurance that they may leave if needed could help them decide to stay.”
It was the third request, though, that puzzled the royal siblings.
In my discussions with the hobbits, it has become apparent that they hold little respect for the title of 'king'. They regard royal duties as largely a waste of time, an inconvenience that gets in the way of getting anything useful done.
There were times when Thorin would agree with this assessment.
As such, the Thain has requested that should a marriage take place, it not be between either yourself for your immediate heir, and that any potential children should not be high in the line of succession. Additionally, hobbits do not live as long as dwarves, so the Thain has requested that any potential dwarven partner be well into their adult years.
This was the confusing part. The hobbits didn't want a king or potential king marrying one of their own? They were willing – demanding, even – to forego the prestige that would come with a hobbit being Queen or Consort? Having children not be in the direct line of succession was probably a good thing, as having a mixed-race monarch could lead to political problems, but it was odd that the hobbits had brought it up.
“Very odd creatures,” Dis frowned. “This immediately excludes you, Fili and Kili. It cannot be me.” As a widow with children, Dis was not eligible for an alliance marriage. If she ever fell in love again Thorin would give her permission to wed, but it was not proper for this situation. “Who else is able? One of our further cousins?”
Thorin skimmed the next passage, then froze.
“It would seem Balin has already considered a suitable match.”
As this situation is unusual, I have taken the time to meet with the few hobbits willing to consider a dwarven marriage in an attempt to find suitable match. I believe that I may have found the answer. With the knowledge that my line have long been advisors to the kings of Erebor, the Thain has agreed to the possibility of a marriage between his grandchild and my brother Dwalin. If this meets with your approval, I will begin negotiations with the hobbit in question.
There was silence as the siblings considered the request. Dwalin was indeed of the same bloodline as them, distant enough for most to not consider him royalty but close enough that he was still eligible for an alliance marriage. He was also the head of Erebor's martial forces, overseeing the city watch as well as the palace guards. He was a large, violent, intimidating dwarf, battle-scarred and tattooed. Thorin tried to picture him married to a hobbit, a small butterball more adept with a trowel than a sword.
“Is Balin serious?” Dis asked, looking just as bewildered. Thorin guessed she'd been trying to picture it as well, with the same lack of success.
“He would not have suggested it unless he thought it could work,” Thorin shrugged. After a minute of deliberation, he crossed to the study door and opened it. Outside his guard stood to attention, while further along a page was sitting against the wall. Thorin beckoned the page closer.
“Fetch Dwalin for me. Tell him I require his advice.”
The page ran off quickly and Thorin returned to his desk, Dis still reading the letter. There wasn't much more to it.
“Do you think he could be happy?” Dis asked after a moment. “I've never heard Dwalin speak of settling down with someone.”
“I do not know,” Thorin shook his head. “It is his duty to follow my command, but... I will not force him to go through with it if he really is unhappy. At least there will be a trial period for the hobbit, perhaps we should consider it a trial period for Dwalin as well. If they cannot get along, let them out of the marriage.”
Dis nodded, and the conversation turned to the logistics of moving a hobbit to Erebor, what would need to be done in preparation. Several minutes passed before there was a firm knock on the door and Dwalin's voice announcing himself.
Thorin and Dis shared a final glance, and Thorin called his old friend into the room, not looking forward to the conversation in the slightest.