Written by kkolmakov

7 years ago...

Thorin's feet slid in the mud, his weight supported by Fili's shoulder and his sword, the Deathless that he jabbed into the ground.

"Uncle, we need to move, there might be more of them..." Thorin snarled through his teeth. He knew they needed to get off the road, but the thick trickle of his blood was quickly filling the boot, and the burning wound on the side deep and open. He pressed his elbow in it. It slashed his shoulder with a new wave of livid pain. The arrow head was still stuck deep into the muscles.

By the time they reached the infirmary in Bree, the loss of blood blurred his vision, strange colourful shapes floating in his eyes. Fili pushed the door with his other shoulder and dragged him in. Thorin felt his body sagging, and he clenched his teeth. He knew Fili was wounded too, but surely the boy could have been more careful!

"Put him on the table!" A young clear voice rang, and he felt a couple of little hands on himself. They were strong, deft, and unpleasantly cold when they slid on his pulse on the neck. He winced and felt his clothes being dragged off him, brigandine jerked over his head, and he hissed. "How long have you been walking?"

"About two hours," Fili sounded exhausted, "There is a sword wound on the side, and..."

"I will see everything myself, I just need the timeline. Go with Todd, he will see to your shoulder."

"I will not leave my uncle..."

"It is my infirmary, and you will do as I say. Go!" The voice was self-assured, and Thorin involuntarily smirked. "Master Dwarf, do you hear me?" A pair of strange green eyes peered in his. He tried to focus. He realized the healer was a young maiden and cursed his luck. It would be so very foolish to die in the hands of an inexperienced girl in a rotten town of Men!

He heard the sound of his tunic being cut and cold hands lay on his abdomen. He ground his teeth and tried to focus on her.

"Your name, Master Dwarf." "Boin, son of Gloin," he felt there was no need flailing his titles around when there was price on his head.

"Well, Boin, son of Gloin, that will hurt." And it did. He growled through clenched teeth and felt as if she poked his slashed side with red hot iron bar. Something metal clanged, and he understood she pulled out a piece of the blade stuck in him. He remembered the attacker's sword breaking off the tip over his armour.

The tangy strange smell of some balm filled his nose. Then cold palm pressed into the wound, and it actually felt even tolerable. He took an easier breath and finally managed to look at her. Young, freckled nose, strange slanted eyes, and the brightest orange hair he has ever seen. Small curls around her head escaping a modest do with a braid going around her head. He hoped she was over twelve, because she surely did not look like it.

She was busy with his wound, movements confident, even white teeth worrying a plump bottom lip. And then he felt a needle going through his flesh.

"I need to close the wound, the sides are too jagged." She was not talking to him obviously, but the certain, clear tone helped. He breathed through the pain.

She finished with his side, and then her hands ran over his body. He could not believe she needed guidance to locate a giant bleeding hole in his shoulder!

"The shoulder..." She shushed him and continued feeling his muscles. He gnashed his teeth. The unassuming lass just shushed him! She finished her examination, and he felt the same spicy smell again. This time he knew the touch of the cold palm was coming, and he welcomed it. And then the burning pain again.

"Maiar, your tissues are so much denser than that of a Man," she jammed her surgery tool deeper into his shoulder, and white spots danced in front of his eyes. Through the haze he felt surprised at her tone. She sounded angry, as if it was his fault she could not pull the arrow head stuck in his shoulder. He turned his head and looked at her face.

Pale skin, translucent, radiant, orange freckles, frowned brows, she bit into her lower lip and pulled with a surprising strength. The arrow head clanged on the table, and she reached for another balm.

"Well, Master Boin, another small prick," a curved needle appeared in her hand.

XXX

A week passed, and he could finally get up. He staggered into the baths and finally started to wash. He felt as if he would never feel clean again, hair entangled and dirty, his whole body covered in grime. He was soaking in the hot water, when the door flew open. Wren, as such was the name of the healer, rushed in and then swirled on her heels, having realized he was in a tub.

"What are you doing, Master Dwarf?" She stood with her back to him, her voice enraged and disdainful.

"What does it look like, honourable healer?"

"You cannot stay there for so long! You were allowed to wash quickly, not soak your stitches in boiling water. I came in to make sure you are not sprawled on a floor having lost consciousness. Get out of there immediately!" He did not even know what to say. Not only she did not know her place, such insolence in a simple girl of Men, but she also was not leaving.

"Are you aware you are in a bath chamber, honourable healer? With a naked man?" His voice mocking, he pointedly made splashing noises. Her shoulders grew tense.

"I do not care what is between your legs, Master Dwarf, you are in my care. And you need to come out." Besides unexpected pleasure of teasing the contemptuous bird, he simply enjoyed the heat and the comfort of the bath. The muscles felt relaxed, skin clean and fresh, his head blissfully empty. He chuckled and considered splashing some water at her straight back. Or possibly the delightful small bum. Then he realized what he was thinking and halted.

And then she exhaled and slowly turned. Her green eyes burning, strange narrow face furious, she pointedly gave him a look over, as if saying, "Here, I am looking at you naked in a tub. So what?" and strode towards him.

"Get up and get out of the cursed tub! Right now!"

He felt strange lightness in his head. He spread his arms on the edges of the bath.

"Or what?" She looked good when she was angry. Feverish blush on the cheekbones, tiny hands fisted, jaw tense, she looked less of a skinny bird and more of a tongue of flame. And then he shook his head. What sort of rubbish was that thought?

"Or you will bleed out in this bath." She pointed at the water, blood speedily colouring it. He looked down and pushed up from the edges of the tub. His head swam, and he swayed. She darted forward and pushed her shoulder towards him for support. He hesitated, and she made a scornful noise. "Don't be an imbecile, you will not get out on your own."

She helped him to step out and pushed him on the nearest bench. And then she knelt in front of him, and her nimble little fingers started inspecting the wound. He heard her grumbling under her breath, and he thought he heard "cantankerous" and "puffed up". He looked down at her and then realized their positions.

He stared on the crown of her flaming head. The back of her neck was gentle and delicate, and he could see the contours of her shoulder blades under the healer's robe. She lifted her eyes at him, and he felt like a child that is about to be scolded. He felt faint and strangely giddy. And then he dove in and pressed his lips to hers. She squeaked and pushed away from him.

He chuckled and gave her a look over. She sat on the floor, on her delectable backside, he thought it was time to admit he really liked the round little buttocks, her eyes wide open and pupils almost hiding the green irises. Or were they brown? Something in the middle, he thought, and smirked.

And then she lifted a brow and asked sarcastically, "How much time exactly did you spend in that tub, Master Dwarf? How delirious one has to get from blood loss to make his advances to me," the last phrase she obviously addressed to herself, after which she got up and smoothed her robe. "Let us return you to the bed, the orderly already changed your sheets." She came up to him and stretched her hand to him. "And I brought your fresh clothes, your nephew bought them."

XXX

Almost two months passed, and Thorin decided that this madness had to stop. The realization came when he caught himself standing in the yard of the infirmary in a foolish hope to catch a glimpse of her running by on some errands. His wounds were partially healed, and had he not been exaggerating his pain for the last two weeks, he and Fili would have been on the road.

He stayed, he complained and said he could not sleep, he refused to take draughts, and faked more pain. She inspected the wound again and again, the pulps of her fingers sliding on his skin, and she would frown. He was staring at her long elegant neck. "I do not understand, I was certain it should be healed by now. Are you sure it is not something else? How do you eat? A stomach pain perhaps?"

He would schooled his face into a peevish expression, "Which one of us two is a healer, lady Wren?"

She sighed, "How many time have I asked you, master Boin, not to call me that. Honourable healer would suffice." She touched his abdomen again, and he clenched his teeth to suppress a shiver. She looked embarrassed. "I honestly do not understand..." He saw pulse beating on her neck and imagined pressing his lips to that spot. And then he berated himself for stupidity. And then imagined her neck and the narrow back with graceful shoulder blades arch while her head was dropped back in rapture.

He stood in the yard for half an hour when finally she rushed by, swift on her tiny feet, the unruly curls bobbing with each step, her head set regally and gracefully. She was chatting with another healer, and passing by she gave him a small bow. Her astonishing eyes were laughing, and he decided he was an imbecile indeed.

The last drop was the day when he realized that he was gazing on her ankles when sitting on a window sill of the sun room she was dangling her legs and chewing an apple. Was he completely out of his mind? The next thing would be writing poetry and carving her name on a tree. He mentally gave himself a smack at the back of the head. Her white teeth sank into the flesh of the fruit, and his mouth went dry. He imagined those red lips on some parts of his own anatomy, and the said parts rejoiced. That had to end, and quickly.

XXX

He learnt her schedule by then, and knew she was going to be in the kitchen late at night, washing vials and dosing draughts. He just needed to extinguish this strange hunger for her body and be done with it. He would have his fill, might have to go a few rounds, and leave. She was very different from the women he usually went for, too skinny, too strange. He could not understand this. What was there to entice him? She did not try to be attractive, unlike other female healers, she did not decorate her robe, hair in a simple braid, turned up nose, no curves. He even thought that perhaps once he could lay his hands on her, the hunger would go away on its own. She was all angles and bones, and that would be bones of a small bird, note the name.

If she was willing, he would just need to make sure there was no child. If she was a maiden, he could try seduction. He was not good at it, but surely a simple healer from Bree was not the most sophisticated of women. Or he would offer her money. Perhaps he could mention his title and status. If she was unwilling, that would be even better. He would leave and get to the nearest brothel. Surely they had redheads there.

XXX

With a clear plan in his mind he entered the kitchen and stared at her ankles. She was putting some boxes on a tall shelf, tiptoeing on the top of a ladder. She pushed the box in and climbed down. She smoothed her hair and then noticed him.

"Master Boin, are you alright? Is it the pain?" Her face was concerned, and he could not find a single word. She stepped closer and touched his shoulder. "Master Boin?.." He could see the delicate wings of her nose, long black lashes and the tender concern in her eyes, and something snapped.

His head suddenly filled with some strange roaring fire, his ears ringing, and he grabbed her, pressed her into him, caught her mouth, greedy, hungry, pained. She whimpered and her narrow palms pressed into his chest. He did not notice. All he could feel is the smell of her skin, her hair, her delicate body under his roaming hands, her smooth skin. One of his hands grabbed the back of her dress, the second covered her breast, and his lips slipped on her jaw.

The feeling of the pulse beating on her neck suddenly returned him to reality. That and her hands gently stroking his hair and shoulders. He realized he was shaking and that she was making some small comforting noises. The absurdity of her behaviour made him halt and look at her, that was not how a potential victim of assault was to behave. His hands still clutching her dress, she cupped his face and looked into his eyes.

"What is it, Master Boin? What troubles you?" And he just could not do that anymore.

"That is not my name," his voice was gruff, he took a shuddering breath in. "It is Thorin, Thorin Oakenshield." Her eyes grew wider. Her hands continued stroking his cheeks though, and she gave him a small encouraging smile.

"That is a beautiful name, Master Dwarf. It is sad it comes with so much responsibility." Her hands on his beard, she made him look into her eyes. She ran her hands through his hair and chuckled, "No wonder you are such a grouch all the time!" He hiked up his brows at her. Inconceivable woman! She smiled wider. And then suddenly he was just blurting everything out, what he felt, what the look at her body did to him, how they could never be together, how he wanted her, take her, possess her, right there, press her body into the kitchen wall, just to cope with the hunger, and pain, and the longing…

Through his absurd feverish mumbling, she was soothing him, rubbing his shoulders, and he realized she was quietly laughing and crying at the same time. "I thought I was alone in these feeling, my lord…" And he could not hold it back anymore, he jumped at her again, pushed her on the table, spread her under him, his hand rudely shoved up her skirts. Her giant amber eyes, neither green nor brown, pupils dilated, were staring at him. And he froze.

"Are you a maiden, honourable healer?" He could not believe he was even talking, his jaws clenched so hard that his words sounded like a snarl. He realized he was probably hurting her, his hands grasped on her slender shoulders, his knee pressed between her legs. Rosy blush was burning on her cheekbones, but he realized she was not fighting him. Her right hand was clenched in a small delicate fist on the table near her hip, while the left one was pressed into his chest. He took a shuddering breath in. She was not pushing him away though. The little fingers twitched, and he felt it through the tunic.

"No," she licked her lips, he felt his whole body jolt, "And yes, of sorts... There was one man, long time ago…" She swallowed, and the fragile throat moved. It took all the willpower left in him not to bite into the pale skin there. She still was not moving, spread under him. Suddenly she smiled. Her hands cupped his face, little strong fingers scratching his beard. His breathing hitched.

He realized he could not do it. Not with her, not on the table, hastily and roughly. Not this way, as if an animal, as if forcing her, as if conquering her body. He wanted this caress, this warmth in her eyes, her soft red lips to smile, to say his name, to speak of love. He recoiled, his own thoughts terrifying him.

He moved away and slid off the table. He stepped back to the wall, his heart beating painfully, his member still tense in his breeches. He saw confusion on her face, she sat up and the tiny feet dangled off the edge of the table. He closed his eyes. He wanted to kneel in front of her and kiss the delicate calves and knees, a memory of little pink toes flashing in his mind. It was a rainy day, and she was jumping over the puddles, her shoes in her hand...

"I apologize, honourable healer… It was outrageous behaviour… I..." He had no words, he felt dizzy and berated himself for feeling like a brainless village girl in love. She was staring at him attentively, eyes wide open, lips pressed together.

Then she nodded and smiled sadly, "Thank you, my lord, for your mindfulness, I would not have been able to stop." He jerked his head up. That was the first time in his life he was ever praised for being conscious and reasonable, and he gave out an incredulous chuckle.

She was sitting and staring at her knees, her skirt still bunched up around her hips. He stepped forward and gently pulled at the hem. It fell down and covered her knees. He felt his body lament the disappearance of smooth pale skin of her thighs, but he already made his decision. She lifted her eyes at him. They were tender and sad. He cupped her face and pressed his lips to hers.

That was their first genuine kiss, and his head swam. Her lips warm and willing, obviously inexperienced but eager, the smell of those white flowers by the road from her skin and hair, her small hands sliding around his ribs, and then a small moan she emitted made his heart clench. He realized with aching clarity that Mahal was so endlessly cruel to him. She was the One. His first kiss of love broke the barriers he had built around his soul all through the years, the roaring fire flooding his body and mind, crushing his spirit and breaking his heart. She signed into his lips, unaware of the excruciating pain he felt in every muscles of his body, and her knees spread, one leg snaking around his. He pushed her away and stepped back.

"I cannot have you to myself," his breathing was laboured, and he fisted his hands. "Not now, not ever. I am a Dwarf and a King." Her brows flew up. For an instant he thought that she was going to offer him at least one night. And he hastily pondered whether he should agree. To have her for at least one night… And then he internally winced from the thought, surely she should feel how wrong that would be. It was not about coupling like beasts, to satisfy physical hunger, a pain of suspicion gripped his heart. Was he wrong to assume she was the pure and noble maiden he thought she was? "I will leave immediately."

"I will never love another," her voice was so quiet that for a second he thought he misheard. She lifted her eyes, serious and sad, and the long black lashes fluttered. "Forgive me, my lord," she shook her head, "Now I am behaving outrageously," she chuckled mirthlessly, "But I wanted you to know. More for myself than for your sake, I suppose..." Her eyes shifted on the floor again. He stepped forwards and wrapped his arms around her, pressed her small body into his, feeling her heart beating through the two thin tunics. She fit into him perfectly, and he felt like screaming, and raging, and breaking everything around him.

He reigned his rage and spoke softly, reveling in her warmth for the last time, "Neither will I, honourable healer. And Dwarves never break promises such as this one."

Him and Fili set on the road the next day before dawn. He did not get to see her in the morning. He only regretted he did not ask for any token. But then he berated himself for stupid sentimentality. Not that he would be able to forget her without one.

A/N: Alrighty, my lovelies! This is a collaboration fic with RagdollPrincess, a companion to her story What The Future Brings.

Remember, it is Thorin 2.0 and Wren 2.0, not the ones from my other stories, except Another Night, Another Path. That is Universe 2.0. from now on officially marked in the descriptions of the stories as U2 :)

The story will consist of chapters written by me and RagdollPrincess. There will be smut, fluff and pretty much no angst for my babies, but Kili is a wreck...:( If you want to know more, check out her story!