The sword sinks into the King's abdomen, and you scream. You push blade in your hands deeper into the flesh of an Orc in front of you and then jerk it back with a squelching sound. "Thorin!" You run, your boots sinking into the foul smelling, stale swamp water. He is still standing, the Orc in front of him snarling. You can see a Dwarven warrior two steps from the King twirl and bury his wide Dwarven sword into the neck of the King's assailant.

Thorin supports himself on the Orcrist, but then his legs give in and he is sinking into the mud. You grab his upper body, but he is too heavy, his brigandine and leather cloak quickly soaking the cold water, wide body slumping. "Thorin!" He turns his face to you and for a second his eyes are warm. "Kurdu..." His lashes flutter closed. You both sag, your arms wrapped around him. You cannot see the combat around you, cannot hear the cries and growls, your eyes on the beloved face. "Dwalin! Dwalin! I need you, now!" You feel presence of the tattooed warrior but you cannot tear your eyes from the King's face. "Pull him out, I need you to get him out of the water!"

Dwalin picks up the King and supports him under one arm. You three stumble on a higher ground, and you pull off your helmet and breast plate. "Barazninh, there are archers!" "I cannot do anything in my armour!" You jerk the Kings buckle and open up the velvet vest. The Orc sword went under the lower hem of the brigandine that apparently shifted in the fight, and the wide jagged laceration is gaping in his side.

You hike up your dress and tear off a piece from your undertunic. You press it into the wound. "Dwalin, I have nothing! The sack sank!" You are panicking, the King's face is pale, he is losing a lot of blood. "And your magic?" "It does not work this way!"

The King starts coughing, bloodied foam on his lips, and you are shaking. The cold part of your mind professionally evaluates the damage. Severed tissues and internal organs, deep penetration of the wound, the position of the blade upon entering. He won't survive. Either his heart will stop in a few seconds from cold and trauma, or he will bleed out in a course of minutes.

"Thorin, Thorin..." His upper body is on your lap, you are frantically pressing your hands to the sides of his face. Dwalin is frozen a foot away from you, and you are suddenly furious. "Don't you dare, don't you dare leaving me now!" You are yelling and shake Thorin's shoulders. "How can you!... What am I without you?!.."

You feel the first silent sobs shaking your body. You press your fingers to the side of his throat, the pulse is almost impalpable. What is the use in all your skill and magic if you cannot save the only person who matters to you in this world?

You scream, unintelligent violent animalistic scream, and the King jerks. For a second his eyes open, and he seems to see you. "Thorin..." But the lashes flutter again, and his face is cold and unmoving. You gasp and press your lips to his.

The first golden sparkles flicker under your palms, and you lift your head. A soft, never before seen glow warms up your palms, and you press them to the wound. With some strange sense of serenity you can feel the tissues inside the wounded body of the King to pull back together, the torn walls of the organs fusing back, and the cut is closing in front of your eyes. The blood is still seeping out of it but you see the King to suddenly take a spasmodic deep breath, and his body jerks. You whisper his name and lose consciousness.

Never before and never again have you been able to use your magic to heal. The strange gift of golden glow that a mysterious man from over the seas, with slanted green eyes and flaming hair, passed to your grandmother's child born of his forbidden love, has never been more than a nuisance, capable of only shaking goblets on a table and making your curls bounce. Once before it has sprang to life, snaking at your feet like the fiery thongs of Balrog's whip, seemingly stinging and slicing your enemies, guiding your hand in firm and deadly thrusts, in a violent battle for the life and the love of the King Under the Mountain.

Since the day on the swamps only the smallest of sparkles would crackle around your copper locks, when heated in passion or anger you would feel the tickling of your magic. Since that day the presence of your gift would manifest in deeper understanding of hidden thoughts of men and prophetic dreams, in inquisitiveness and skillful healing, in seemingly being able to converse with unborn babes, in calming hysterical women and successfully conducting precarious negotiations. But never again would you be able to heal or wound the flesh. That is the price that you paid readily and with gratitude for the life of the man who forever stands in the center of your world.

You return to your senses by the end of the day. The King's wound gets infected, and you spend three days on the swamps, collecting herbs and tending to his burning body. He thrashed and feverishly murmurs in Khuzdul for three days and four nights, after which in the cold bleak morning he opens his eyes, and you see recognition in the blue irises. Dwalin and other surviving warriors carry him back to Erebor on hastily made stretchers.

He is put in your bed and you can finally close your eyes. You are sleeping sitting on a chair, clenching his hands on the covers. In the night Balin comes into the chambers and moves you on the bed. You wake up in the morning pressed into the King's healthy side. His breathing is even, and colour seems to be returning to his cheeks. You are gazing at the beloved face and send your prayers to all Maiar, as well as to the unknown deities that your nameless grandfather was worshiping. Whatever Gods brought him to the shores of Enedwaith and tied his heart to your grandmother's, you will forever praise them. They gave you back your life and your soul. You close your eyes and curl into the warm body of Thorin Oakenshield. The strong, even beating of his heart is the only gift you need in this life.