At twenty-one, Hemery returns to Erebor after five years in Minas Tirith. How will she adapt to the changes that have occurred in her absence?


Chapter 1 – Unexpected Silence


Dear Thorin,

Kíli, Bofur, and Bifur arrived yesterday. They were very excited to join Dwalin and me in time for my birthday and share my last year in Minas Tirith. Last night, I showed them my favourite parts of the city, and they showed me how to drink a pint without stopping for breath. Needless to say, I have spent all day in my room, emptying my stomach. It is now late, and I have just managed to drink some sweet tea.

Tirith is celebrating the New Year. There are festivities and fireworks. I see it all from my window, and I can hear the music when I go to sleep. Kíli and Bofur have come in very late three nights in a row, making the most of it, so to speak. I do not wish to know any details of their nocturnal adventures, though they are more than generous with their reply if I should, naively and unthinkingly, ask. Dwalin refuses to celebrate. He wonders why we should cheer their new year if they do not cheer ours. Logical as always. He is determined to dislike Tirith, as well as any friends or fellow students I introduce him to. I plan to celebrate the elvish New Year, just to tick him off. Even your own aversion to elves would be overlooked to enjoy the purple shade on his face at that.

Though he cannot deny he enjoys the food here. I do too; it is visible now that I do not train as often as I used to. He misses the mountain. I do too.

Kindly write and tell me how boring it is in Erebor, that nothing out of the ordinary occurs, and how aggravating you find everything.

I am sure you find the mountain calm and peaceful now that I am gone.

Hemery


Dear Thorin,

I am preparing my final assignment. It takes up a lot of my time, even more than the hours I spend at the academy halls. I have not been able to accompany Dwalin on any hikes or fishing trips for some time. He says he does not mind, but I can tell it bothers him. He goes on his own instead, not even letting Bifur come along.

There was a gathering at the university in honour of the pupils who have completed their studies this year. All the students as well as our instructors were invited. It was mostly men present, which made me uncomfortable for some reason. At the social gatherings at Erebor there were always a lot of females. Here it was plenty of wine and silly boisterous talk, and I do not mean in a fun way like Kíli does it in the taverns.

I enjoy the studies immensely, and the lecturers are brilliant, but scholars are tedious and exhausting. They cannot abandon their impressing important voice for longer than it takes to swallow more wine. Now that I think about it, they are not so much different from you.

Will you answer and express your disagreement?

Hemery


Dear Thorin,

I cannot sleep. The moon lights the path of my pen as I write this. I present my finished work tomorrow. Sleep does not elude me because of some misplaced sense of uncertainty. I have done well here. My project is of great importance to me, though I doubt you will approve of it. The official approval of the academy is merely a dribble of wax on parchment for anyone outside this kingdom, but I shall keep it for myself if nothing else. To look at my name in golden letters and consider myself lucky for being able to make this journey.

After I have been evaluated, I will return to the mountain. I fear it is changed, as much as rock can change over the course of five years, or perhaps rather that I am changed, but it will be a relief to see the Lonely Mountain, nonetheless. Except the thanks I owe Fíli for the gold he spent on my education, which will be a painful conversation.

Hanah tells me that she knows for a fact that you receive my letters. More than that she cannot say. I know you are always occupied with stately business and enjoy your own time in undisturbed solitude whenever your duty allows it, but I must send a question out into the starry night––for I believe it will not matter once I return, and I shall probably not receive any sort of reply before then.

Thorin, why have you not written to me?

Hemery