Chapter 40 was too abrupt. Here is a softer ending. Such is the power I wield.

Song inspired by Gjallarhorn - I Riden Så

Chapter 41 – Unexpected Song

As Fíli entered, he was assaulted by the scent of Hanah which had already saturated the place since she moved in. It overwhelmed his senses, and he felt himself relax. He shed his weapons, his cloak, and his boots before he carefully pushed open the door to the bedroom. The soft glow of the fire cast just enough light for him to make out a shape in the chair in front of the golden embers. The small bundle of blankets in Hanah's lap where their infant daughter, Híli, rested and the swell of a woman's body beneath a white linen shift. Her bare feet peeked out beneath the hem, grazing the stone floor.

The click of the door as Fíli closed it behind him made Híli stir. He could see her hands above the edge of the blanket, reaching for something she could not name, and he heard her tiny whimper. Not wanting her to wake Hanah, he approached the chair and carefully picked up the bundle, blankets and all, cradling her in his arms and rocking her softly to help her settle.

"Dumith," he whispered to the baby. "Rest now. You have a long life ahead of you, and you need your mother strong, so let her sleep."

Soon Híli's breathing evened out until she went limp in his grasp. He put her down in her own bed by the wall, gazing at his daughter a moment. Such a wee, pudgy thing. How would they ever keep her safe from all the dangers of the world?

He took a deep breath, letting Hanah's scent fill his lungs, finding comfort in knowing they were both here with him. He turned to lay a solid slab of wood on the embers to make it burn slow until morning.

A crack from the fireplace made Hanah jerk awake. With a small gasp she opened her eyes to find Híli removed from her arms and a dwarf beside her.

"'Twas nothing," Fíli mumbled. "Come to bed." He took her hand, ushering her to her feet and directing her to the bed. After she took a good look at Híli soundly asleep in her cot, she complied. Fíli pulled a quilt over her and laid himself next to Hanah.

"She'll be hungry soon," Hanah said. "I'll barely get a wink of sleep before she starts cryin'." She laughed without humour, leaning on Fíli's shoulder as he lay down beside her.

"A wink is better than nothing," he replied, stroking her side leisurely.

"Was your business done with in Esgaroth?"

"Aye, for now," he sighed. "Just a matter of time before the next financial crisis. I'll send Kíli next time."

Hanah laughed, smothering the noise in his shirt.

He squeezed her tightly, relishing in her warm, relaxed, and pliant body. It had taken a while, but it seemed she had finally gotten used to sharing her bed with him. He still kept his own chambers, but mostly for duties, paperwork, and meetings. The rest of his time was spent with Hanah and Híli in Hanah's chambers.

He loved watching her work––which she did, all the time, until late at night. Her precise fingers forced leather, metal, stone, and bone to bond in all sorts of ways. She would ask his opinion on the more difficult pieces, and he would tease her and say it needed no more work for she was the best leather smith in the kingdom. At least, she always thought he teased her, while it actually was Mahal's honest truth. She would scowl at him adorably, and he would kiss her frown away and take her to bed. Afterwards, she would accuse him of keeping her from her work, but soon tempt him to make love again before he even got his trousers back on.

How Fíli would love to enjoy her warm body tonight, but it was very soon after Híli's birth––too soon.

"I was asked by the guild to join the harvest fair in Esgaroth," she said.

"That's . . . quite the honour," he said, though feeling a bit worried that she might travel down to Lake Town just to stand in a market stall. "What was your answer?"

"I haven't decided. I wanted to talk to you first."

Fíli's chest swelled at that, but tried not to let it show. "You don't need my permission," he said.

"I know, it's just––" she hesitated. "I think they asked me because of you. You know, because of Híli and everythin'."

He nodded. "It would look fine for them to have you on their corner. If you wish to go, we'll arrange it."

"The security would be extensive, wouldn't it?" she asked.

"Aye, that's true."

"But if they truly appreciated my work, the customers would come here, wouldn't they? It's not like I need any more work. I have enough to do as it is."

"Quite right," Fíli agreed, smiling. He guessed where this was going.

"I might as well stay home." Hanah adjusted her position against him, burrowing deeper in his shirt, as if she wanted to wear it. "I don't have time to promote the guild and their politics."

"Whatever you wish, love." Smirking, he kissed the top of her head.

He was grateful to be spared from relating the trouble gathering in Esgaroth. The crime and the poverty. He would try to help Bain resolve it, but he did not know if he could. Keeping his face pressed against Hanah's hair, he breathed in, trying to let go of the day's work.

"What is it?" she asked.

Fíli smiled. Of course she knew without looking at him that he was miles away in his thoughts. Perhaps it was because his hands never stilled, but kept drawing patterns on her skin through the shift. Never stopping for sleep.

"Just––" he sighed deeply, "everyone else's problems." He shook his head. "If only everyone was like me, there'd be no more conflicts," he reasoned, lowering himself to lie next to her, nuzzling her neck.

She chuckled. "Of course, Your Highness." She put her arms around his neck, keeping him close. She stroked his hair. It soothed him.

"I could––" she began, put stopped.


"I was just goin' to ask if you, perhaps, would like me to sing to you? To get your mind off things?"

Fíli had heard her hum some tunes to Híli a few times, but never sing properly. He had no idea if she could do it well, but he did not care at the moment. He was suddenly very intrigued by the prospect of hearing Hanah sing.

"I would like nothing better," he said.

Hanah cleared her throat and softly began.

"O, woe is me, what do I see – All under the green linden tree – I see my daughter coming to me – She rides so carefully through the grove with thee

I spread out my blue cloak by choice – All under the green linden tree – On it she bore two baby boys – She rides so carefully through the grove with thee

I shall give my father my grey walker – All under the green linden tree – He will ride to the temple beside her – She rides so carefully through the grove with thee

I shall give my brother my house – All under the green linden tree – Where he will feed on geese and grouse – She rides so carefully through the grove with thee

I shall give my sister my golden rings – All under the green linden tree – I have not worn them, the weight of them stings – She rides so carefully through the grove with thee

I shall go to the place I like best – All under the green linden tree – Where I am loved and I am blessed– We ride so carefully through the grove with thee"

When Fíli fell asleep that night, it was in Hanah's arms and to her voice speaking softly, " I love you." And when Hanah heard him reply, she would pretend she had not––only to ask him to say it again.

To be continued.