primrose

[Part II of II]


"Stop your fussing, all of your dashin' about is makin' me nervous," Bofur grumbled.

Bella checked herself in the mirror one more time, trying to quell the nerves that were rising in her; tucked behind her ear, the braid new and odd-looking, was the courtship bead. The gold seemed to glow warmly in the dim light, and each time she looked at it Bella got a queer fluttering, falling sensation as though she were being dropped down a very deep well. Between fussing over her hair, which was unbound for once and curling wildly around her shoulders, and pacing the room, she was making herself nervous, never mind Bofur.

The entire company had been so sweet, all of them pitching in to ensure their "courtship" and subsequent relations went about as smoothly and romantically as possible. Ori, with his sharp scholar eyes, had gone over Bella's cleanest dress and repaired all of the rips and tears, sewing tight, neat seams to hide the dirt. Balin had helped Bella braid the engagement bead into her hair, telling her about the different ways of binding a bead so it would come undone easily and yet still hold firm. Dori and Nori had gone about preparing a traditional Dwarrow wedding feast, although they had gotten quite distracted in the time being by opening yet another keg of mead.

Fili and Kili had vanished mysteriously off into one corner of the sprawling house, and had been conversing mysteriously with Beorn earlier that day. Bella had spent more time blushing than she ever had in her life; her two 'nephews' teased her incessantly, when they weren't plotting and scheming and smuggling things into the house. The only way to get them to shut up was to threaten details of her kissing Thorin, which always made the two of them gag.

In reality, she didn't even have details about kissing Thorin. Yavanna, she hadn't even kissed that churlish Dwarf and now she was becoming his wife. Oh…she felt quite sick and sat down all of a sudden, pressing a handkerchief to her forehead.

"Take it easy," Bofur cautioned. "You've been runnin' around all evenin', now sit tight and just breathe for a bit, lassie."

"Why am I so nervous?" Bella demanded, more to herself than her companion. "This is absurd. Why am I marrying a Dwarf? This is so, so Tookish, I just can't even…I'm on an adventure and I'm getting married, oh Yavanna, I swore to myself I'd never do either of them…"

Bofur blew a smoke ring across the room and chuckled. "Show me a bride who isn't nervous on her weddin' night and I'll show you a liar. An' that's the thing about promises to yourself—you're not lettin' anyone down if you break 'em, and usually it's for the best. An adventure and a good husband will do a body good, that's what I say."

All that time, cuddling next to him in his sleeping roll, she had been thinking about it, of course. What young lady wouldn't? Warm and safe in the sort-of embrace of a handsome foreigner, what girl hadn't dreamed such a thing once or twice? But she was well past her teens and it had embarrassed her to keep taking comfort and warmth with the noble Dwarf; breathing in the heat and feeling so content and warm, as close to his chest as she dared, it had been a fragile corner of heaven. They weren't themselves at night, when the company wasn't looking—they were two young idiots falling in love.

Then, of course, daylight had to come and spoil everything. They fell back into their roles easily: Thorin, shoving his emotions away in a drawer and barking out orders while Bella gritted her teeth and tried not to cry. During the warmer nights Bella would curl in a miserable little ball and wish Thorin was there to cuddle up against, the two of them pretending they weren't affecting each other so deeply.

Bella squeezed Bofur's hand tightly. "Thank you. Yes, I'm sorry, I just had…a bit of a turn a moment ago."

He patted her knee comfortingly. "S' all right, lassie."

The door flew open and Bella stood instantly, smoothing her hair self-consciously. It was Fili and Kili grinning hugely and looking indecently smug about something. "Auntie!" Fili announced, bowing low, "My lump of a brother and I have searched high and low –"

"- near and far –"

"- hither and yon, for the perfect wedding present."

"If you'll please come with us?" Kili asked, extending a hand. Bilbo accepted his arm with as much grace as she could muster, and followed the beaming loons out the door, throwing an exasperated backwards glance to Bofur as she did so. The two boys frog-marched her down the hallway, chatting her ear off and interrupting each other as though competing for space in her ears. Bella was torn between amusement and irritation, and they had almost completely distracted her from the fact that the small corner room of Beorn's house had been turned into a bedroom.

Formerly a small offshoot of the pantry, the little room was cozy and some cunning Dwarf had recently created a makeshift hearth, filling the room with warmth. Two mattresses had evidently been pushed together and heaped with cushions, covered with furs and warm knitted blankets, and the makeshift bed lay on a thick rug. Thorin's belt, engraved with the symbol of Durin, hung above the bed and Bella saw that one of her precious hair ribbons had been looped about it. A bouquet of evergreen occupied one shelf, and the whole combination was small, rustic, and oddly romantic.

"We couldn't find fresh flowers," Kili said after a moment of silence, "and I hope you don't mind we pinched a ribbon, it's one of our traditions—"

Bella hugged the two of them, feeling tears ridiculously springing to her eyes. "So kind," she said, somewhat choked, "you all have been so kind to me, I don't know how to repay you…"

"By staying in this room," Fili said, mock-seriously. "We wanted to give you privacy. And if we hear a peep from the other side of the house, then, we'll be mentally scarred and you'll never be able to live with yourself."

She swatted the back of his head. "Don't spoil it," she warned.


After that things happened in a whirlwind. Each member of the company congratulated her at least once, offering her small bits of advice, like pull your corset down or keep your hair loose or something along that nature. It was all a bit overwhelming, and with each fresh kindness Bella felt the increasing desire to cry. They were all so lovely, so wonderful to her, it was even distracting her from the matter at hand, which was going upstairs to tell Thorin she was waiting for him.

The stairs creaked beneath her padded Hobbit feet, and she knocked gently on the door with her knuckles. The nerves were building up within her again, and she feared if she didn't say everything at once then she'd never get a word out.

"Come in," Thorin's deep voice commanded, and Bella pushed open the door.

He was sitting on the edge of his bed, obviously waiting for her, and Bella had to marvel at the shocking contrast of three days prior. His skin was healthy and flushed, all traces of weary pallor gone from his cheeks, and his deep blue eyes were bright and alert. Dwarrow really were a hardy folk, and Bella was glad he was healing so well. He had evidently dressed for the occasion, wearing a dark blue tunic over his dark trousers, and his dark hair was washed and combed. There was a rather odd expression on his face—mingled happiness with desire, and something like apprehension. Oh. Right. She was supposed to be courting him.

"I…" she managed to get out, and then cleared her throat. Bella curtsied quickly. Her small fingers untucked the braid from behind her ear and the bead touched her throat, just below her jawline. "I, Belladonna Baggins, hereby accept the courtship of Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, and propose that the consummation of our marriage substitute an official courting ceremony."

She said it as quickly as possible, the phrase memorized from what Balin had told her. Thorin stood and approached her, and touched the courtship braid; he looked almost awed.

"You accept my courtship," he said quietly. "Bella…"

She swallowed and looked up at him, uncertain but trusting. "Balin told me all the bits that I need to go over, all the political things anyway, the rest I can figure out for myself—and the boys have prepared us a really lovely room downstairs, they've all been such dears…but are you still injured, I wouldn't want to –"

He kissed her then, bracing her face with both hands. In everything, Thorin was passionate and firm, and his kisses were no exception; Bella felt her knees turn to water as he slanted his mouth and deepened the kiss, her hands linking behind his neck and running through his thick black hair. She felt his ringed hands running through her hair, twining the courtship braid through his fingers. After a long moment, he broke free and bumped her nose with his. At this proximity, his cobalt eyes were positively brilliant.

"Injured? No," Thorin rumbled. This struck Bella as quite funny, and she laughed, biting her tongue and hoping not to sound too disrespectful. He kissed her again, chastely on the mouth, and she saw him smiling.

"Well then," Bella said under her breath. "If you're not injured, then I see no reason why we shouldn't…um, proceed downstairs."

He stroked her cheek with a thumb and his gaze turned tender. "I can think of a reason," he told her, "Ghivashel, if you are anxious, I shall not hurry you. I do not pretend that we have an excess of time, but I shall wait for whenever you deem yourself ready."

"No," Bella said in a voice that did not sound acutely like her own, "no, you can't kiss me like that, you can't call me...whatever it is you called me, you can't do all that and then not follow through. That's bad manners, Thorin Oakenshield, and as your new Hobbit wife I'm going to require that you brush up on being polite."

He laughed then, and dropped his head to her neck, kissing lightly where her neck met shoulder; there was a hint of teeth in that kiss. She shivered. "Polite," he growled, "I did not intend on being polite,"

She swayed against him and gripped his tunic. "Oh, Yavanna, Thorin."

His eyes were very dark. "Go downstairs. Wait for me there, I shall join you shortly."

Bella straightened her bodice and touched her rumpled hair, her cheeks pink as a primrose, and she decided she looked rather debauched. She felt rather debauched, come to think of it—Oh, this was so much better than the romantic books she had read back at Bag End. Halfway down the stairs, she glanced back up and caught a glimpse of Thorin undoing his braids, a familiar intense expression on his handsome face. Another tradition, apparently.

The entire company had seemingly pulled a vanishing act, and Bella was grateful. They were sure to tease her while she looked like this, and she hurried past the kitchen and into their own little bridal suite. Some thoughtful creature had lit a few candles and stoked the hearth, giving the whole room a soft glow. A wooden tray laden with food had been placed on the bed, and Bella sniffed the stew appreciatively. A soft loaf of bread, still warm from the oven, was set next to the bowls of soup, and Bella couldn't help but laugh at the strange situation.

Whenever she had pictured her wedding night (which had usually been in her tween years), she imagined something soft and fluffy, full of down pillows and some handsome Hobbit lad with clean feet. Never had she imagined a wedding night involving a dozen Dwarves, two bowls of rustic soup, and a makeshift bed in a former pantry. Everything was upside down but oddly right, and Bella realized that was because of Thorin.

It didn't matter what the room looked like—she was getting married to Thorin, and that was what mattered.

The door creaked open and Bella turned around, prepared to see Thorin, already a pleasant half-smile on her face. Her breath stuttered in her throat and her hand flew to her mouth.

Thorin, shirtless, his braids unbound, stood on the doorway, his leather gauntlets still on his arms. She had known he was strong, and had expected his muscles to be well defined, but this…this was ridiculous. There was a sudden bolt of desire, so quick and unexpected that she couldn't remember to breathe; breathtaking, that's what Thorin was. Breathtakingly beautiful. White scars crisscrossed his tan skin, and she saw old bruises, evidently from the injuries he suffered. There was a dark trail of hair ridging down his stomach, disappearing into the line of his belt, and she had a sudden urge to run her nails through this novelty. That chest, those strong arms…

Her eyes were shining as she shook her head. "That's what you've been hiding under all those tunics and furs?"

The prince of Erebor smirked at her. "I please you, then?"

"Do you have to ask?" Bella huffed a laugh and kissed him quickly, her fingers dancing lightly over his bare shoulders. "Of all the Dwarrow traditions I found out about today, I think this one is my favorite."

His hand never left her waist as he surveyed the room, taking in the quaintness. "This is…" he began.

"Perfect," Bella finished for him. "Come, you've got to braid my hair." She dropped the mithril bead into his hand and picked up a hairbrush, pulling her curls to one side and beginning to brush it out briskly. It would be quicker this way—that way they could get to dinner, and then the…activities…afterwards.

Thorin caught the brush. "Allow me," he said lowly, and Bella blinked in surprise. He sat on the bed and drew her comfortably into his lap; deliberately, slowly, he began combing her hair, painlessly working out any small tangles. For an instant Bella was stiff with uncertainty, but being so near to Thorin had an incredibly calming effect, and she relaxed against him. There was an ancient pleasure in getting one's hair brushed, and Bella couldn't remember anyone having brushed her hair since the death of her mother, many years ago. Even then, Belladonna had been quick and whipped through snarls like a rake through leaves; Thorin was slow and caring, and feeling his fingers through her hair was sending trails of heat down her shoulders.

She tilted her head to one side, offering one side of her neck, and Thorin impulsively kissed the smooth white line of her throat. Bella squirmed, his whiskers tickling deliciously, and Thorin laughed once against her skin.

"I wish…" Bella started, and shuddered pleasurably as he nipped her shoulder through her dress. "…I wish I had been bolder with you, back when I was sleeping in your bedroll."

Strong fingers splayed over her waist. "And I wish the same. This day would have come sooner, much sooner indeed."

"Why…why now, then?" Bella asked, turning to face him. "I mean, you were injured, and…"

He sectioned off a small thread and began braiding her hair. "I realized what was to be lost, if I died," he said simply. "Seeing you, facing down Azog…I saw that I had been lying to myself, lying to you. Had I but thought honestly about you, I would have asked you to wear my betrothal bead long before now."

Bella smiled and looked away, pressing her lips together. "You mean, if you hadn't been a great big stubborn lump."

"One way to put it," he admitted, and finished weaving the bead into her hair. "There. Marked as mine, Miss Burglar."

She shivered. Officially the wife of Thorin Oakenshield. What a terrifying, delightful prospect. She met his gaze and kissed him, intending it to be brief but she lingered, enjoying the scratch of his beard against her face; the grip on her waist tightened and he pulled her closer, and Bella plunged her fingers through his dark hair. The kiss then turned into something entirely different—almost ravenous, something deep and hungry turning inside her, and she rose up on her knees, straddling his waist, her back arched. She kissed him, and then peppered kisses on his lovely beard, which was rough but silky and added such a delicious friction; Thorin seemed rather taken aback at her sudden display of affection.

"Lovely wife," he rumbled, setting his teeth against the tip of her ear. Pleasure shot straight through her at this unexpected touch, and she could just hear him making note of this discovery. "Lovely, passionate wife, my Bella."

"Ears," she gasped, fingers tightening on his shoulders. "Ah!"

"Sensitive," Thorin remarked, nuzzling her neck and giving her pointed ear one final nip. She spasmed in his arms and he chuckled darkly.

Bella dropped her head to his shoulder and breathed for a moment, laughing despite herself. "We haven't even had dinner yet," she protested.

"Then let us eat, for I am eager to have you," Thorin purred, and Bella unwound herself from Thorin's lap with as much grace as she could muster. Fetching the tray, she dragged it closer, taking care not to spill the soup, and settled herself back against Thorin. She was developing an addiction to his chest, she decided, made all the more desirable without all the tunics and mail covering him.

The soup was delicious, and rather familiar—bits of meat had been strewn in among the grains and broth, and the bread, although cooled, was soft and tender. Thorin tore off a bit with his fingers and fed it to Bella, enjoying the little noise of appreciation she made. It took an age to eat in this way, and Thorin was tempted to simply push the soup out of the way and pounce on his new wife, but patience was a virtue. Although it was not a virtue he possessed in great supply. The dim light kept catching the mithril bead, and each time he noticed it a new wave of emotion struggled in his chest. He could not offer her anything but a promise, a far-off dream, that once they reached Erebor he would court her properly, and they would sleep in riches and silks, not on furs and cushions.

"You're brooding, husband," Bella said, startling Thorin. He smiled against her hair to hear she had titled him thusly.

"Only wishing I could give you more," he replied. "When we reclaim Erebor, I will give you the finest jewels and the most precious gems; I wished to court you more fully, and not…this." He gestured at the small, homely room.

Bella turned around in her lap and set her half-empty bowl of soup resolutely aside. "I'm a Hobbit," she pointed out, "and we're simple. I don't need fine things and gems and whatnot; just being here, with you, is enough for me. It's true, I was a bit…taken aback, to find out you wanted to court me, but to be perfectly honest I've been in love with you for a good long while. We didn't have time to fall in love, but we managed somehow. And anyway, we've got some time now."

Hearing herself say this out loud calmed her a great deal, and she moved to brush her untidy hair out of her eyes; Thorin caught her wrist and pressed a kiss to her palm. "Ghivashel," he breathed, "treasure of treasures. How eloquently you speak when you chastise me."

"If you didn't give me great loads of practice, I wouldn't be so eloquent," she informed him. "And is that what ghivashel means? What does az-uh-gel…oh, how do you say it…agg-uh-zel…"

"Pronounced âzyungâl," Thorin told her, "it means lover. Where did you hear that, little one?"

"Oh!" Bella colored, and then laughed, throwing her head back. "Oh, is that what it means. Dwalin's in a great deal of trouble then," she cooed.

"Dwalin?" Thorin asked, brow furrowed, thinking of his stoic captain.

Bella tapped his nose lightly. "I'm not saying, only that Dori and Nori may have to challenge him to a duel to protect their brother's honor."

He thought for a moment and then started. "Ah. I see. Our scribe may be in danger."

"With Dwalin's affection? Nonsense, he'll be as safe as can be," Bella smiled.

"Have you seen Dwalin's size? He'll crush the poor lad," Thorin said, and while Bella was laughing she noticed her dexterous husband had been unlacing her bodice.

"Sneaky," she chided, but didn't move to stop him, and even leaned forward to better aid him.

"You are at your most relaxed when you speak," Thorin rumbled. "Continue. I like hearing your voice."

"Thorin!" Bella said, mock-outraged, "all those times you said I prattle on, and you were secretly enjoying it? Shame on you, Mister Oakenshield. I should tell you more stories, then, perhaps about my neighbor's sheep back in the Shire?"

He groaned. "Not another sheep story, I beg of you. Speak of anything else but mutton."

"Well, then what should I talk about?" Bella said, and jumped a bit when Thorin tossed aside her bodice, cupping her breast through her dress. He rubbed a thumb over her nipple and she squirmed in his lap, noticing that he had the same focused expression that she saw whenever he was working something out. He was watching her, noticing her reactions to things, and Bella struggled to think of something to say, to please him.

"I'll talk about you," Bella said, biting her lip and feeling Thorin's hand inch the hem of her dress steadily upwards. "Let's do that—let's talk about how absurdly pigheaded you are, and yet it's all forgivable because you have such lovely eyes and a wonderful voice."

"A wonderful voice?" the prince inquired, dipping his head to close his mouth over her nipple. She dug her nails into his back and her toes curled—Yavanna, but it was difficult to think while he was doing that.

"Y-yes," Bella stuttered as his hand skimmed her hip and succeeded in pushing her skirt all the way up, "a wonderful voice, deep and intimidating and very kingly, I might add."

Thorin chuckled against her breast, his other hand carefully following the line of buttons down her back, loosening the dress around her shoulders. "Very kingly," he said lowly, purposefully making his voice rougher. It sent shivers down her spine as he kissed her bare shoulder. "I should keep that in mind the next time I wish to get your attention."

The dress bunched around her middle as his ringed fingers ran down her back, the cool metal of his rings bumping against her skin. Bella wanted to untwine herself from Thorin and undress, but his mouth had switched to the other nipple and drew it through his teeth, making her shudder deliciously as heat began to trickle into her lower belly.

"You rather have my attention now," Bella gasped, the scruff of his beard driving her nearly mad. "Wait, wait, wait."

He stopped immediately, his hands stilling on her lower back, looking at her with concern. Bella pushed him back onto the cushions, pressing her lips together nervously, and then said, "Don't look so heartbroken, I only want to get out of my shift; I don't want to bother with it any longer."

Bella stepped out of the dress and pulled the clean white shift over her head, shimmying out of her breeches as well. Feeling suddenly shy, she shook her hair over her shoulders and dove into the bed, pulling one of the furs over her belly. Thorin, strong, proud, beautiful Thorin was more than she ever would be; it embarrassed her just a little, and Thorin seemed to sense this. His large hands, scarred and heavy with callouses, pulled back the fur and dropped his head to her breast.

"Beautiful queen," he murmured, and Bella felt something within her twist at his new title for her. Carding her fingers through her hair, she quivered beneath the scratch of Thorin's beard and the gentle kisses he bestowed upon her. In all of the romantic novels she had read back at Bag End, the lady reciprocated somehow, but Thorin had her pinned to the bed now; one of his large, strong hands grasped a firm white thigh, and the other cradled the back of her head. With her legs apart and his mouth on her breast, Bella felt distinctly wanton, despite her inexperience.

His fingers moved higher, ever higher up her thigh until they reached the damp apex of her legs. Bella squirmed suddenly, violently at his touch, and it took Thorin a moment to determine that she wasn't in pain. "Thorin," she choked out, digging into his hair and twisting just slightly, needing something to keep her grounded. His fingers were sending bright little sparks of pleasure upwards, and there was a twinging in her belly, something deep and primal.

A finger entered her carefully and Yavanna but that felt good, and even better when his thumb brushed her sensitive pearl. Her hips rose up off the bed of their own accord, straining for more contact, and Thorin nipped her rosy red nipple lightly. Those agile, manipulative fingers were doing wicked, wicked things to her, and she couldn't bear to sit still; but she didn't want to discourage him, because what he was doing felt wonderful. It was like breaking and falling and cresting a peak all at once, and Bella closed her eyes, trying to be quiet but whimpering all the same, and when he drew the tip of her ear into his mouth Bella thought she might explode.

Hyper-stimulated, Bella clenched around Thorin's fingers, her thighs snapping shut around his hand, and her nails dug into his shoulders. Her muscles seemed to turn, tight as wire, and then she relaxed against the bed, melting against the furs. Thorin was still stroking her softly, riding out the aftershocks, and Bella blinked sleepily at him.

"Wicked king," she managed to say.

"I warned you that I had no intention of being polite," Thorin said darkly, and dropped to the edge of the bed. Bella stayed on her back, feeling lazy and almost sated, and then nearly jumped a foot in the air when she felt her new husband pressing a kiss against her inner thigh. His beard tickled and she giggled, wanting to close her legs but also curious to see what he would do; solid hands circled her knees and his shoulders kept her legs spread, and as he swiped his tongue between her legs Bella felt the strike of a match; less than a minute from her last peak and she was already needy—she cried out and snatched the furs, grabbing a handful of them and tried to keep herself still.

It was almost too much, too soon, but Bella wouldn't have said that for the world, since this was entirely new and she wanted to see what would happen. A Tookish curiosity outweighed her common sense and she mewled under his ministrations, fighting the urge to roll around on the bed as her body commanded her to move. He flicked her pearl with his tongue and she nearly howled, half wishing for a rope or a cord to keep her still because this was maddening.

She squeezed her thighs around his shoulders and peaked again, arching her back and feeling her muscles clench once more. This time though it was more intense but briefer, as her mind struggled to cope with the flood of new experiences, each more lovely than the last. Bella was in such a fog that she hardly noticed Thorin settling next to her, propped up on one elbow, skimming her curves with one hand.

"I fear I have broken you," he said quietly, "but I could not resist—I fear I am fast becoming addicted to your love cries. How I have dreamed, and never dared hope…"

"Bent but not a bit broken," Bella managed, rolling over and pressing a kiss against Thorin's lips. "I feel a bit…scattered, though. Like chaff. Where did you learn to do that? No, wait, don't tell me—I don't wish to become jealous of whatever other lucky Dwarrow got to have you before I did."

"None of them had my heart," Thorin told her truthfully, "and although considerate, they meant nothing. Your responses, your cries, they mean more than the treasures of the world, for I know I have pleased you. With others, it was personal pride, and with you, it is so much more."

She tweaked his nose, feeling an odd combination of bold and drowsy. "Oh that's a lot of rot, you know you're more than a bit smug right now."

Even in the darkness, she could see his smile. "…Perhaps."

The fire burned low, and for a moment Bella just snuggled against him, the cloth of his leggings a nice contrast to their bare skin; she trailed idly through the coarse line of hair descending to his hips. He sucked in a breath and jumped when she ventured lower, a small hand reaching to stroke the firm outline in his trousers. It was nice to provoke such a reaction from him, and her head seemed to clear a bit when she realized this challenge. Giving Thorin back a bit of what he had already given to her would be perfect—she had to experiment, too.

Bella sat up in bed and rolled onto his hips, examining him through half-lidded eyes. "Your gauntlets," she remarked, noticing them again, "don't they chafe you terribly?"

"Not at all," Thorin answered, "although they remain unwieldy to sleep in."

"Here, let me," Bella said, reaching for his arm, and her nimble fingers quickly picked out the tight knots in the laces. They were thick, leather chaps which would obviously protect the wearer—they had the same symbol on them as his belt, the mark of the house of Durin. A house she was now a part of, she remembered with a shiver.

She kissed his bare wrists and then allowed him to settle on her hips; her desire to please him spiked again, and she scooted lower until she could work the button on his trousers. He groaned when she tugged them down, and discarded them entirely, and his breeches soon followed suit. Now was a new, interesting specimen to examine, and Bella's small fingers wrapped around his shaft experimentally. It was much larger than she had anticipated, and a bit of apprehension flared within her. How was that supposed to fit in her? Wouldn't it hurt terribly?

Thorin, the master of self-control, was gritting his teeth tightly as Bella stroked him firmly. She watched him, much as he had, and increased pressure until he moaned audibly, his hips giving a shallow rut against her hand. Triumphant, Bella gave him a quick kiss and to her surprise his hand tangled in the back of her hair, plundering her mouth with his own.

In a moment he had turned her around and onto her back, and he was on top of her; closing his eyes, he breathed shakily. "Now it is my turn to call you wicked," he breathed against her collarbones, "for if you continued I surely would have been spent; I wish to have you as my own, first."

Bella had previously thought herself close to completion, but hearing that admittance from Thorin's lips nearly drove her off the cliff again. He was such an attentive husband, so kind and giving, and she had nearly forgotten the most important part of tonight; the bonding. She nodded and her voice was rather breathy when she said, "I'm ready when you are, husband of mine."

"Husband," he growled against her, and she widened her legs to make room for him. "Mahal, but you are a gift to me, my precious ghivashel."

She felt the tip of him at her entrance and readied herself, trying not to tense but not entirely certain what to feel. He slid slowly, agonizingly, and it was like being filled; there was a twinge but nothing else, and she felt tears spring to her eyes—not from pain but from the sweetness of the fact. How could she feel so completely surrounded by him and yet so impossibly joined? Her head fell back and Thorin kissed the line of her throat, stilling within her, and Bella realized he was waiting for her.

"Yavanna," she said desperately, and her voice had taken on an urgent edge. "Move."

Her ankle hooked around the back of his knee and drew him deeper, biting her kiss-flushed lips; she felt as though she were consuming him, and he began to withdraw slowly. Missing the contact she whimpered, and then suddenly he was back with a smooth pivot of his hips. Oh, but he was good at that—a slow grind and he drew back again, making her sob for more, because this was torture, slow and smooth and his roughened palms skimming her bitten breasts, making them tingle.

Bella had worried that it would hurt, that somehow she would be damaged, but she ought to have known better; Thorin, ever attentive, ever watchful, seemed to know when she was right on the edge, and nothing was better than this slick surety. She never wanted to leave him, wanted to stay this way forever, but as he rubbed her pearl with his thumb her hips shot up and a bolt of desire flared through her. Sweet and tender mixed with desire and need—bonding with Thorin was Thorin, and this idea made her laugh desperately, because what a thought to enter her head during this time.

He drew back again and she heard his breathing becoming ragged, his movements not as sure as his control slipped, just for a moment; his blunt nail dug into her waist and she keened, wanting to see him unravel, see her king fall apart with her. He angled himself and something bright flashed in her vision—Bella gripped his neck and pulled him down for a savage kiss as she peaked for the third time that night, tightening around him and feeling her whole body rise up to meet his. He said something in Khuzdul—an endearment, an oath, something, but she wanted to reciprocate it.

Once she had peaked Thorin seemed intent on finishing; his hips snapped flush against hers and the two of them rocked, Bella feeling protected and half-crushed and completely in love, her crested high punctuated by each of Thorin's strokes. In an instant she saw the expression on his face and he stilled deep within her, his hands clenching her hair. "Mahal," he gasped, and she shuddered beneath him, their hearts racing together.

He rolled to one side and Bella instantly reached for him. The two of them were too exhausted to move, and for a long while they stayed there, skin against skin, trying to catch their breath. Bella felt as though she could fall asleep as soon as she closed her eyes, and she might have, for it almost felt like waking up when Thorin half-sat up.

"What is it?" Bella asked, and Thorin gave her a content, lazy smile. Not even leaving the bed, he fetched a cloth and carefully cleaned her sticky thighs. Despite what had just occurred this felt shockingly intimate, and she felt her heart swell with emotion. He was so gentle with her. Who would have thought that her strong, proud, foolish king would possess such a caring heart?

Thorin pulled the quilts over their heads and tossed the rag aside. Bella cuddled down next to his bare chest, no longer worried about propriety, and felt him stroking her side slowly. He tilted her face to meet his.

"You may cry, if you wish," he said softly, a hint of a smile, and kissed her lightly. "I won't tell a soul."

"I'm not a wilting flower," Bella said, although her voice was thick and tears were pricking at her eyes. "I just…I love you so much, Thorin, I don't think…I never thought…my heart is so full."

"And I you," Thorin answered, "and you are no wilting flower, my blushing primrose. I don't know how many times I have thought of you, sleeping next to me, frustrated by my own inability to act. Now you are my privilege to awaken next to each morning, and until the end of my days I will cherish that."

"A romantic," Bella laughed through her tears, linking her arms around her husband's neck. "I married a gruff, sensible, proud, idiotic romantic."


git some smut all up on yo eyeholes. Totally unbetaed and written at midnight, so this is probably laced with typos. -fyrelark