Dolraw turned from the fire at the sound of Thorin's voice, stealing her away from thoughts of Beorn. "You took our money, where are the weapons?"

With a reluctant sigh she stood, wrapping her blanket around Bilbo's still shivering shoulders, and moved to stand behind Thorin as they waited listening to them talk softly to one another; Durin's day was in two short days, they now had the impossible task of reaching the Mountain and finding the hidden door before then.

Thorin stepped back when Bard returned with a bundle, feeling the warmth of Dolraw against him as he moved out of the way of the man as he dropped the weapons on the table. She watched silently as the weapons were revealed to be nothing more than a fisherman's array of useless tools, to which the dwarves offered immediately complaint; she could not fault them for they had paid all they had for weapons and these would do nothing against a dragon save get them killed. But she could not fault the man either for she could clearly see he had nothing else to offer, and she stood in his home seeing his poverty and his children and knowing he had offered to help if only to give them a bit more.

"We paid for weapons. Iron forged swords and axes!" Gloin exclaimed angrily, insulted by what Bard had given them.

"It's a joke," Bofur said throwing what he held back onto the table; he was normally very kind, very sweet and funny, it was only in great anger that he was so callous.

With his words the others threw their useless tools on the table as well grumbling and glaring at the man. Bard looked at them having feared they would demand more, and he regretted not for the first time ever agreeing to offer them aid. "You won't find better outside the city armory. All iron forged weapons are held there under lock and key," he told them hoping to settle the matter and send them on their way and be done with them.

She watched Bard closely, closely enough she saw the recognition in his dark eyes at Thorin's name when Balin spoke it; that had been a mistake even if she agreed with Balin's request to take the weapons offered and leave. For now Bard was thinking of why he knew that name, and nothing good would come from the man should he know the company's true purpose.

"I say we leave now."

"You're not going anywhere," Bard said roughly as he folded the bundle of weapons, earning himself the surprised fury of the dwarves at the threat they thought he offered.

Dwalin stepped forward as he glared up at the man enraged, ready to grab whatever was closest and kill the man to be done with him. "What did you say?" he hissed dangerously.

"There are spies watching this house in probably every dock and wharf in the town," Bard told them, realizing the impossibility of getting them out and on their way unseen; and they were so very ungrateful leaving him little kindness to give. "We must wait til nightfall."

With little else to do the dwarves settled once more in their chairs, taking the tea the children offered them as their father paced outside. Thorin looked up at Dolraw to find her watching the door intently, and without word or reason he knew the man had gone simply from the look on her face. He remained by her side as the sun slowly sank in the sky, watching her warm smile as the youngest girl came to stand beside her. "Can you speak to other animals?" "Do you have any children of your own, and are they half lion and bear?" "Do you miss your husband?" "Why are you travelling with the dwarves?"

These were the things Tilda asked, and Thorin listened as Dolraw answered them all – taking note of the gentleness in her voice, of the affection in her voice. Motherhood would suit her well, Thorin thought to himself as he turned to tell Dwalin to make to leave.

Tilda moved away from Dolraw when the dwarf who hadn't left her side moved to stand in front her, and Dorlaw turned to look down at him. "We will take weapons and leave for the Mountain," he told her softly. They were on the last leg of their journey and she should have already left them, but he so greatly wished for her to stay.

"Then here is where I leave you," she replied just as soft, an ache in her chest at the thought of leaving them now when they would face the dragon for what hope did they truly have.

It was what he had known she would say for Beorn had voiced very clearly his refusal of her going near the Mountain, it did not make the thought of journeying without her any easier to bear. He took her hand in his own and pressed a kiss to it. "Thank you, for coming with us this far. It would have been an honor to have you continue with us even the smallest bit forward."

She nodded knowing she had no words for him, at least none that would end in her listening to Beorn – if she spoke she would cry, and if she cried then she would stay for she had bound herself to these dwarves. And she took her eyes from Thorin to look at them all behind him, seeing on their faces they knew she would not be going with them.

He stepped aside as the others bid her farewell, bowing or kissing her hand, parting with kind words of loyalty and friendship; Ori had thrown his arms around her waist, his eyes tearing and his heart breaking. He did not want to leave their lion behind, she was apart of their company, she was a friend.

Bilbo was the last to bid her goodbye and he was left unable to speak as he stared up at her, remembering her tongue on his face or the comfort of feeling her beside him as they slept – he did not think he would have made it as far as he had in the quest without her caring for him, without her warmth.

"When you make your journey home you will be very welcomed if you wished to stay for a time," she told him, smiling as he hugged her fiercely.

When Bilbo fell in line behind the last dwarf she turned once to Thorin, hearing Dwalin's gruff voice speaking some threat to Bain as he tried to keep them from leaving. She was left once more with little to say as she looked down at his face made hard by years of sadness and loss; she would have seen the quest to the end if only for him. "You will make a great king," she told him, the greatest words she could have ever given him; and she watched him take a breath at hearing them.

"What will you do now?" he asked finding he could not let her go, not without knowing exactly where she would go.

She looked at Tilda and Sigrid who stood watching the dwarves leaving with Bain frantically trying to call them back. "I will stay here until he has come and then I will return home," she answered seeing he was satisfied with it.

With a finally nod he turned from her and followed the others, casting the boy a hard look before closing the door after him; leaving behind the lion woman he had not known he had grown to care for so greatly, enough that her absence from his side was felt like a cold wind.

Bard found her a little while later, after he had returned home knowing exactly who Thorin was and what they planned to do, after his son had rushed out to tell him the dwarves had already gone, after the town had welcomed the dwarves after taking in Thorin's wondrous promises of riches and gold once more restoring this town. When he finally returned home and walked through his door he found his children sitting at the table and the woman giving them the stew she had prepared them.

Dolraw looked up when the door opened and saw his surprise at finding her still there and she moved around the table to meet him at the door knowing he would wish for her to leave. "Thank you," he told her taking her off guard. He was so very touched that she had stayed behind to care for his children instead of return immediately to her husband, to see they were well until he returned to his home. "You are welcome to stay for the night if you wish," he offered.

She stared at him surprised and warmed finding he was not quite so threatening now that the dwarves were gone; he was simply a man trying to do his best for his children. "I would like that very much," she replied softly.

With an uncomfortable nod he motioned her to the table to eat. He sat quietly as his children questioned her, about other lions or bears she knew, about her home – they asked her a great many questions about her home when they discovered the many animals she lived with. "She can speak to them and they can understand and talk back," Tilda told her father excitedly. He only smiled at his daughter before turning back to the woman as curious as his children of her; though he knew of what she did not speak, there was a time in her life when she had known pain, the evidence was in the scars on her back.

It was hours later, after his children had retired to their beds – though they had been greatly unhappy to – that he finally dared ask. "Are there others like you?"

She was quiet several moments before she shook her head. "Only Beorn and myself," she answered, turning to him to see he wished to ask what happened. And so with a sigh she answered. "Both our kin were killed by orcs. Some were enslaved as we had been but we were only ones who survived to escape."

It was more horrible than he had imagined, for orcs were not known for their mercy especially not to women; he knew the horrors she had faced and he was left speechless. Though before it was his turn to speak a loud knock sounded on his door.

She watched Bard answer it, not seeing who was behind the door. "No, I have paid my debt you may have nothing else," Bard said upon seeing who had come.

She stood prepared to defend the man should the need arise though a familiar gruff voice set her at ease. "I did not come for you," Thorin replied.

Bard stepped aside when he felt the woman at his back knowing she would go with him. And of course she would for she had thought they had already left. "Might I say goodbye after breakfast?" she asked him knowing Tilda's sweet heart would be broken if she didn't. He nodded knowing the same, though in all truth he did not mind her company – as fearsome as she was, she was very kind.

"We are staying for the night," Thorin said when Bard had closed the door, leaving the two to walk by torch and moonlight. "They would be glad for one more night with you."

She smiled at his stubbornness knowing she would miss him greatly. "Is it so hard for you to admit it is you who wishes it?"

"I do no such thing," he said smiling, nodding his head at those who hailed him as King under the Mountain. "A house has been given, many of the others are there."

She walked at his side feeling the stare of many eyes, a half clothed woman too tall to be natural – she knew the strangeness of herself. "And I assume those who are not are enjoying the festivities," she said making Thorin laugh briefly.

It was quiet in the house, the dwarves sleeping out of exhaustion or drunkenness – little Bilbo sleeping on a soft warm bed as he had been longing for. She listened to the familiar chorus of their loud snores wondering how she would sleep without it, though a hand on her arm had her moving further into the wooden home.

"This was to be my room," he said when he led her to the master room with the large bed – long enough to fit her height for she was as tall as a grown man. "I do not mind sharing it."

It was a moment before her mind understood what he was saying and she looked at him with wide eyes wondering exactly what he meant, until she saw him reach for a pillow and a blanket. "Do you plan to sleep on the floor?" she asked not thinking it were fair, this was to be his bed and he may never have one again.

He looked up at where she now sat at the edge of the bed and nodded. "I will not earn your husband's wrath," he answered making her laugh lightly.

"My husband was never worried of that," she told him honestly, nor did Beorn have any need to worry, not when it came to her. She waited until Thorin returned the pillow to the bed before laying back prepared to sleep; it would be many days before she would rest once more in own bed. Though sleep did not come for her or Thorin for the dawn would break and he would leave.

"Where is he?" he asked. He had seen the look on her face when Bilbo had asked, so broken and worried he knew wherever Beorn had followed Gandalf to it was no place good.

She was startled by his asking for she had been thinking of him moments before; feeling Thorin laying beside her she could almost imagine it were Beorn, almost. "A dark place that he should never have gone to, neither should Gandalf," she answered softly.

Though she did not speak it he knew there was a great possibility he might not return to her; and he recalled Beorn having spoken of the necromancer. It plagued her mind greatly, hiding behind her eyes only visible if he looked hard enough; he could see a great amount of pain in her eyes with it, the same that dwelt in Beorn's eyes as well. "Has it always been Beorn for you?" he dared ask, for he truly knew only little of her and he wished to know more. He wanted to know her, to have a reason for why he would miss her so greatly.

It was a while before she answered, long enough he turned to her wondering if she'd fallen asleep. "No," she whispered. It had been over ten years since she had spoken of her intended, and never once did she ever say his name – not even to herself. "I was meant to be married only weeks before the orcs came. He had, h-, he had trained, trained for years to be the greatest fighter in our clan. So that when I finally came of age and my suitors fought my father for my hand he was only one to actually win."

He had waited with more patience than he'd ever had in all his years, for she often paused unable to speak or could not make the words come; but after several long moments he lay beside her wondering so much more about her. "It is your custom for suitors to fight for your hand in marriage?" he asked.

"It is when you are the daughter of the clan's leader," she said finding it much easier to recall the customs she had once lived under, the tradition and rules she had followed – there were no faces, no names, and so it was easier.

"Were you the only daughter?" he asked, not seeing the importance of winning a woman's hand – not if there were a possibility for death because of it.

She smiled though unamused, knowing he did not understand the customs. "I was the daughter of our leader, he had been challenged by many strong males but he was always stronger. Therefore my children would be great, strong enough to overtake him. There will always be someone stronger than you, but a woman born with strength in her blood to pass onto your children is not as easy to find."

He understood then, or at least he thought he did – she was the most important person of her kin, at least the children she would harbor; and he understood that taking such a woman and adding a man even stronger would make for mighty descendents. "What would have happened had he not won?"

"I would have been given to whichever brother was strongest," she said simply with a shrug, though a look to Thorin's face and she knew that was an unspeakable custom.

Sometimes he forgot how inhuman she was, and the thought of a marriage being arranged between a brother and a sister was simply – wrong. To think of his own sister. "Did you ever doubt he would overtake your father?" he asked suddenly, wishing for different thoughts no matter what they were.

"No," she said quietly, trying not to recall his face to mind for it would leave her unable to speak beneath the weight of such despair. "As skin changers we mature as the way of man. He was older than me though not terribly, I had captivated him early on – he had seen the hunter I would become. Instead of taking a mate when he came of age he vowed to win my hand no matter how long it took; though he waited years for me, fighting and training, growing stronger each year until he could challenge my father; or brother, if any of mine had been able to beat our father in a fight."

He had laid silently as he listened, as he imagined this strange world more animal than man, as he drowned with her in her sadness for this world was now gone forever. He did not have to ask what would happen if a brother had beaten her father, he could well enough guess that when she'd come of age that brother would have taken her for a wife; it was an unsettling thought, a barbaric one. "Did you love him?" he asked gently knowing how hard this was for her.

She nodded as she stared at the wooden ceiling, finally allowing his memory to enter her mind. "He was," she said pausing to think of adequate word, "beautiful. He had long golden hair and green eyes. He was daring too," she said smiling brokenly. "If my father had discovered him stealing kisses from me he would have been exiled. But he'd chanced it any for he was brave and strong and kind and stubborn. And I loved him greatly."

He reached for her hand at the strain in her voice seeing now the normality of it; he had loved her and so he'd done what was needed to win her hand – it not so different than any other custom in those thoughts. And his heart ached for her as he realized the life she could have had, the children she would have born. He realized then this man had not been enslaved with her, for together they surely would have escaped and she certainly would not have left him behind; which meant Azog had killed him, and then he had taken the bride to be and made her his own. He did not dare ask if she sometimes wished the orcs had not come, for the answer was yes though he knew those days had grown fewer and fewer the more she had loved Beorn; and after losing everything he knew she locked her memories away so they could not haunt her.

"What about you, had there been a woman?" she asked wishing for something else to speak of.

He shook his head. "There might have if there'd been more time. As it were the dragon came as I was getting to know her; it might have hurt more if I had loved her but there simply hadn't been the time." They lay silently side by side for many moments as they remembered the past and all that had been lost. "May I make another request of you?" he asked rather suddenly. She turned to him curiously and nodded as she waited. "If Kili remained here until he was healed, would it be too great of a request to ask that you staid with him?"

She had wondered how Kili would continue for he could hardly stand for a few moments. "You needn't ask," she answered watching him turn to her grateful and relieved at knowing his nephew would be safe and cared for. She continued watching him as he stared ahead of him lost in thought knowing he would find little rest when dawn was only a few short hours away and with it the last day to find the door; and then of course to deal with the dragon if they did. "Are you afraid?" she asked him softly.

It was so quiet and calm, so intimate a moment with a woman who was hardly a woman; and so he was able to answer honestly. "Greatly." He turned at the feel of her moving to find her sitting as she pulled the top of her dress over her head and then slipped the bottom down the length of her legs. With a single blink she was a lion moving to lay beside him, her fur soft and warm and inviting. This was the beast he had grown so fond of, had come to know so well he could tell her thoughts by simply looking at her; this was his lion. He turned himself to lay against her, an arm around her and his face buried in her fur as he allowed her purring to lull him to sleep.

And as dawn broke the dwarves made to leave, bidding their lion once more goodbye save the four dwarves who were left behind with her; and she watched the boat Thorin was on sail away long after they had disappeared from sight.