This series continues where the series, "How To Make A Hobbit Do Things In Five Minutes Or Less" ended. Again, each story in the series is sequential in nature and correlates with "The Desolation of Smaug" and its time line. However, each story is a stand-alone and is meant to be enjoyed in and of itself.
Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are copyrighted by Warner Brothers and the J.R.R. Tolkien estate. No infringement of these copyrights intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. I write this fan fiction only for love of the The Hobbit and not for profit.
Within the Elven Keep of Mirkwood...
After all in the Company had been thoroughly searched by the Elven Guard, they had been led through winding, descending corridors until they took up residence in Thranduil's dungeon. While Dwalin charged repeatedly at the iron bar door of his cell trying to knock it down, Nori had retrieved his lock picks stored within the intricate braids of his beard. Only the most sensitive ears heard the gentle clicks of metal as he tried to trip the tumbler within the enchanted Elven lock of his cell door. However, they notices that two of the Guard came behind Thorin and took him up one of the corridors leading away from the dungeon.
"Aye, a deal is the only thing that will get us out of here," Balin told Thorin as the Elves led him away. "Don't be so dense as to not listen to whatever Thranduil proposes. Give it due consideration."
With one final look over his shoulder, Thorin gave his old friend one curt nod of understanding before Balin was locked into his cell by one of the Guard. He knew that Thranduil was Manash Kah who was no better than some of the Men who had exploited the Dwarrows for profit after their exile from Erebor. Still, a part of him hoped for honor amongst Elves, but doubted that he'd see it.
The monarch of the woodland realm towered above him as he sat upon his pedestaled throne, cold blue eyes staring down at the little Dwarven prince, dirty and humbled before him.
"There are those who may envision your Company's endeavor as a Noble quest; a crusade to restore a birthright and destroy an enemy. I propose a more practical agenda. Reclamation of heirloom or something akin to that." Thranduil slowly circled Thorin, leaning closely to his ear. "You seek the hidden entrance to Erebor and may know its location. You quest for that which will endow you with the right of sovereignty amongst your people and restore to you the lost throne of Thror's line."
"And what that might be?" Thorin's brow rose in question.
"We both know you seek the Arkenstone. You cherish it above all else and I know it to be truth. There are treasures within the dragon's horde that belong to my line that are heirlooms of my ancestors, symbols of sovereignty that were stolen from my family and I want them returned. White gems of pure starlight stolen from Mirkwood by my sister, your mother. I extend my aid to you in an act of forgiveness of her past treachery and for the safety of all."
Thorin felt small bubbles of rage explode within his blood as he heard the King speak of Dross. He exhaled slowly, giving him a dark smile. "I am listening."
"I free you to continue your quest if you restore to me what I desire."
"Your goodwill and letting bygones fall by the wayside," Thorin added. "A new beginning for our peoples."
Thranduil nodded his head slowly. "Yes, an establishing of favor between our peoples as in the days of old."
"For all the gold in Erebor, I will never trust you. Until mountains turn to dust, your word is worth less than slag." With each word, Thorin's voice grew from a rumble to a roar, resonating within the great chamber in the heart of Mirkwood. Grim amusement filled Thorin as he watched his uncle's eyes widen at his declaration.
"You dare-" began Thranduil.
"You, who lacks all honor. I know of your supposed goodwill with your allies and how you treat your family. My people came to you, hungry and broken, beseeching your aid. You abandoned them an showed them no mercy. You ignored their hardship and let them burn. You murdered us." Thorin's voice thundered from his chest, filling the throne room and then in anger, he cursed Thranduil in his mother tongue.
"I know the wrath and ruin of dragon fire. You know nothing of what I've seen," In that moment, Thorin's eyes grew wide when he saw Thranduil's left cheek smoke and burn, bone and scarred flesh replaced his features, one eye turning white with blindness. "Nothing. I warned Dross that stealing those gems would bring destruction upon us all, but she paid me no heed. It only fueled her father-in-law Thror's lust for treasure and look what it summoned. Fool that he was, he wouldn't return them to Mirkwood for safekeeping and it turned Erebor into a mountain of ash." Thranduil said nothing as he walked away from Thorin, returning to his throne.
"You know nothing of my family-" Thorin bellowed.
"I know you more than you think and you are all of the same ilk: conniving, deceitful creatures who have no honor. Your mother was the bastard child of a drunken tup, your grandfather was mad with gold-sickness, your father thought only with his lust and nothing better. You are of that flawed line -greedy and obstinate. Enough of this," Thranduil motioned for the guards who immediately restrained Thorin. "Take him back to his cell. Thorin, whether a day or a century, it matters not. Time has no meaning for an Elf. I know how to wait."
With a dismissive wave of his hand a flip of his hair as he turned and sat in his throne, Thranduil gave one nod to two armored guards. They grabbed Thorin by each arm, dragging him backwards down the steep curving stone stairs. He struggled against their hold, nearly breaking free a time or two, but the solid strength of two Elven warriors proved greater than the resolution of one stubborn Dwarf. Once returning to the dungeon, a ginger-haired jailor thrust him into the small cell, deftly slamming the iron door behind Thorin.
A low growl or frustration grew within Thorin and erupted exactly when his fist slammed into the wall of wood long turned to stone. The pain in his hand faded in comparison to the mushrooming fury flowing from every part of his being. He had to get his company out of the underground hellhole as fast as possible because they were losing precious time. Now, he understood why Dross took such great satisfaction of wiping that smirk off the face of that that tree-shagging sprite. Thorin vowed in Khuzdul to Mahal that he would would avenge the insult and dishonor he had experienced that day thanks to Thranduil.
He prowled back and forth in his cell, trying to rein in his rage and thinking of a way out of that accursed dungeon. If only he had his burglar. Where was Bella?
"Laddie, what did Thranduil say?" Balin made no attempt to hide his curiosity.
"He offered me a deal," Thorin scoffed. Bitterness and hate tasting like bile burning his tongue. "I told him what he could do with his deal. He could go ish kakhfe ai-'d dur-rugnu! I spit upon his grave: him and all his kind!"
"That's the end of it, then." Balin shook his head. "We're stuck here."
"You forget we have someone that he doesn't," Thorin reminded his oldest friend. "We have a Hobbit."
"No one has seen hide nor hair of our burglar since the forest," Balin said.
A small draft of cool air wafted past his cell carrying the scent of heather in summer. Thorin thought he caught the aroma as he paced close to his cell door and the smell caused his rage to subside to something just within the boundaries of sanity. He grasped the iron bars and let his gaze sweep through the torch-lit dungeon, looking for any signs of his his Ghivashel. "We have one hope and she is near. I feel her presence."
Something was afoot in all of Middle Earth and all of the elements heralded the change. Still waters rippled, Dark soil trembled, storms roared and blazed with lightning, fire blazed from tiny embers. Thorin had felt as he and the Company had traveled on the quest to reclaim Erebor and today he felt it strongest of all. He missed the soothing presence and comforting warmth of his Bella. She had an affect upon his mind that he could reach beyond it, seeing and sensing those things unknown and unseen. If there was one thing his burglar had taught him, it was to focus on patience.
Thorin leaned against the rough stone wall of his cell, the fossilized vines and branches twisting to make his quarters cramped and narrow. Given the worry haunting him over Thranduil's twisting of fate and the well-being of his burglar, the rough crags of the cell walls were a welcome distraction. The pebbles between his fingers that he picked up made echos as he threw them out his cell door, making pinging noises as they landed on the pathways below his cell.
"Surely, it must be dawn," Bofur scoffed as he pulled his hat over his eyes to block out the growing brightness. If they were going to be here awhile, then some sleep was something that seemed like an an unspoken blessing.
"We're never going to reach the mountain, are we?" Ori sniffed, trying not to let a tear escape.
"Oh, ye Dwarrows of such little faith," a distinctly female voice answered. "Thorin?"
"Who is there?" he growled.
"It surely isn't your friendly neighborhood Mirkwood sprite."
A smirk tugged at his lips at the acrid remark and joy filled him. "Bella."
"The one and only, O great one," he watched a shimmer flit from the shadows into full view, the scent of daisies and jasmine filled his senses. His heart nearly burst with relief and joy as his One was near him again.
"I see time away from us hasn't dulled your tongue," he laughed.
"I am sure you have been dreaming, O King, exactly about what I can do with my tongue," she quipped. Thorin opened his mouth to say something, but out came nothing. Her saucy innuendo left him only able to gasp at her remark.
"Get out of here while you still can, Bella. This dungeon is no place for a Hobbit."
"Oh, and it's a better place for you?" Bella stood akimbo in front of his cell door, giving the scowling Dwarrow a disbelieving look."You can't just uninvite me from the Company as if you simply telling me something would stop me from doing it."
"I've basically told Thranduil what he can do with himself and all of his kin," he admitted sheepishly, sinking into a sitting position against the ornate bars of his cell door. "I have inherited my mother's temper and we will be here for some time to come."
"That doesn't surprise me," Bella smirked. "How do you boots taste?"
"Like Elven salad," Thorin sighed. "Balin is right. I have cost us the one chance of ever getting out of this accursed place."
"What would your mother do?" Bella asked quietly, staying in the shadows as she crept closer to his cell.
"She'd arrive at some unorthodox solution, trick every Elf in Mirkwood and save the day," a smile tugged at his lips. "If she were here, she'd beat Thranduil in battle and do it without tearing her gown or breaking a sweat and laughing while she did it."
"I'm sorry, Thorin," Bella reached through the bars, laying a hand on his shoulder. "I'm not like that, but, I will think of something to get you out of here."
Thorin took the Hobbit's hand in his, brushing his lips across the sensitive flesh of her fingers. "That's why I want you to leave now, Ghivashel. I want no harm coming to you. I release you from your contract."
"I'm not leaving," she gave him a hard look.
"Stubborn Took." he grumbled.
"Oakenheaded fool," Bella countered. They sat there for several moments in the darkness of the dungeon, neither moving nor speaking, simply holding hands and pressed closed together as the bars allowed. "Tell me about your mother, Thorin. Why do you never speak of her?"
"I never saw the need," he shrugged. "It hadn't occurred to speak of her to you."
"It hadn't occurred?" Bella blinked slowly several times in succession. She raised her hand in protest, her mouth opened but no sound came. Two delicate hands balled into tight fists. "It hadn't occurred to you? You practically shag me in my dreams, then by the river, bead braids in my hair and call my Your One and it never occurred to you? Were you thrown from the mountain as a babe and land on your head?"
"No," Thorin's eyes fell to the floor and the Hobbit said nothing as she gaped at him.
"Did she desert you?"
"No, she is in Erid Luen," he gave her an odd look. "She left for a diplomatic meeting several weeks before Erebor was attacked and that was when my father's gold sickness returned. She thought that Dis and I didn't survive the inferno, thus, she wandered the world trying to follow the rumors of my father's sitings. Only by Mahal's will did we find each other again."
"Tell me about her, Thorin," Bella said. When he spoke to her, he sounded as if hope had deserted him. When he mentioned his mother, she heard a bit of that brave fighting spirit of his which she had grown to love.
"Let me start the tale as she told to me when I was a child," he pressed a kiss to Bella's brow. "It didn't start with my mother, but hers -a sly and crafty woman. Born on a night when stars fell from the sky, pelting Middle Earth with gems of from the heavens: sparkling white stones that became known as Mirkwood's treasure."
"So your granny was a star child," Bella murmured, her thumb absently rubbing the calluses of his hands. "Why does that not surprise me?"
"She was born to a human woodsman and a wise woman," Thorin began.
"Human?" Bella's jaw dropped several inches as her eyes widened.
"Yes, human." Thorin pulled playfully on one of her honey brown curls. "Now, does that surprise you, Halfing?"
"My grandmother knew of the forest's ways and learned its secrets and her mother's trade. The Mirkwood Elves called her Morfin. They knew her for her elixirs and tinctures that she traded for their goods and services." Thorin said proudly. "In fact, some of the ointments Oin uses come from recipes that belonged to the dams in my family. My sister, Dis, is also a gifted wise Dwarrowdam, following in the family tradition."
"Some of those ointments stink," Bella chuckled. "Oh, but, how they've worked for sore feet and cuts."
"Morphin traded with the King of Mirkwood and became somewhat wealthy because of their business dealings. With him, she saw an opportunity to power and prestige, but no matter her schemes, the King of Mirkwood took no interest in a human. Yet, Morfin, wasn't one to be bested so easily. She knew his kind well and how they loved their starlight and their wine. Knowing this gave her inspiration to bring about her wishes during "Meleth en Gilith" - a Feast of Starlight."
"Ins't that the feast that they're celebrating now?" Bella glanced above to the roof of the dungeon. "I heard something about the Elves getting wine ready for the festival."
"I don't know," Thorin said. "Perhaps."
"Tell me more about your grandmother and your mother," Bella prompted, hoping that recalling those memories would help restore his morale. She couldn't help but notice the smile and and the bright gleam in his eyes when he spoke of the first woman he ever loved.
"In the light of the full moon, Morfin concocted a potion made from forest plants, pouring the mixture into his goblet one night during festivities as he conversed with his head turned from her. Its effect was subtle, at first, but immediate so that his flesh felt a hunger that could only be sated by passion. With senses dulled and euphoria from he potion in his veins, Morfin took Oropher to her bed and the potion made him virile for a night. In morning's light, she was with child."
"Are you serious?" Bella squeaked, giggling. "An Elf got bed-notched? Oh, the irony!"
Thorin grinned and nodded in understanding. "Rumors spread through Mirkwood that a witch had seduced him with a magic potion, making him unfit to rule. He attempted banishing her, but she revealed to all of Mirkwood that she carried his child and gave birth."
"Yes," he answered. "Morphin died mysteriously not long after, leaving Oropher with a bastard child that brought shame to him. He named the girl child, Dross. Her name was a human word that means 'unwanted impurity or imperfection."
"Now, that's just rude," Bella fumed. "One never blames a child for the circumstances of his or her conception."
"We are talking about Elves, you know," Thorin reminded her, gently nudging her in the ribs. "Have you ever known an Elf not to look down their nose at someone?"
Bella thought she heard Thorin grunt in grudging agreement. "Not wishing to be reminded of the humiliation of being seduced, he sent the her to Rivendell. He never wanted to be reminded of his intoxicated transgression."
"What does she look like?" Bella asked "Is she blonde and fair?"
"No," Thorin pressed a kiss to Bella's palm. "Dross has the hair and ears of an Elf, slender as Elves are, but lacks their fairness. Her hair is dark like a raven's wing and her eyes are bright blue like those of her grandfather, Oropher and his son, Thranduil."
"Thranduil?" Bella pointed to the dungeon's ceiling, blinking several times as her comprehension dawned with Thorin's words. "As in Mr. Tall, blond and arrogant upstairs strutting around like he has an anvil shoved up his ar-"
"Bella," Thorin's deep chuckle echoed off the dungeon walls. "Swearing isn't becoming of a lady."
"I don't give an Orc's arse what is becoming right now," she snorted. "By the Valor, Thorin! "You're telling me that self-absorbed sod prancing around above us is your uncle?"
"Now, you know."
"What I don't understand is why he hates you so much or Dwarves," Bella shook her head in disbelief. "Why is he keeping you imprisoned?"
"Let me tell you the rest, my Love." Thorin smiled. "Do you have your pipe with you?"
"I do. Would you like to have a puff or two?"
"I would," he said. A few moments later after Old Toby had worked its wonders,she leaned against the Elven-wrought bars of Thorin's cell, letting his fingers card gently through her curls. His pause became a long silence and she turned to look up to him.
"Do go on, Thorin, you can't stop the tale there. What happened next?" Bella excitedly prompted him. "Tell the rest of the tale!"
He chuckled darkly. "Oh, Dross was nothing like her cold, arrogant brother. Like Morfin, she was hot-tempered and uninhibited, so Elrond sent her home to remind her brother of his familial obligation. She, like her mother, was drawn to the woods and found her friends amongst the Wood Elves. She loved the parties, festivals and wine. She is as warm and alive as Thranduil is aloof and cold. He looked for any way to remove the living reminder of his father's weakness and he found one."
"How did he do that?" Bella asked, enchanted by the tale.
"Thranduil was host to a diplomatic party of Dwarrows from Erebor. Among them was a young prince with a love for gold and gems. The envoy was there to seal a trade agreement: Thranduil wanted the talented smiths of Erebor to craft him jewelry made from the mysterious white stones that fell from the sky not far from Mirkwood. Only Dwarrows could cut and shape the stones into jewelry and weapons while when others tried, their tools shattered. The young prince was immediately taken with the black-haired elf with eyes like sapphires and a tongue sharp as a Dwarven axe. She found him 'grumpy, arrogant and short,' she once said.
"Thrain, your father?" Bella asked. "Oh, by Valor! What a pairing."
"Yes," he chuckled darkly. "Do you want to hear the rest of the tale?"
"Yes, please!" Bella looked at him with an eager smile.
"Thranduil agreed that if my father, Thrain, married Dross, he would pay well for the jewelry he wanted crafted from those mysterious white stones that sparkled like stars and snow. The young prince immediately agreed, but Dross refused to have him. He showered her with gifts of fine gems and precious metals that would have made her richer than Thranduil a hundred times over."
"So, unrequited love?" Bella sighed, feeling disappointed that the tale didn't have a happy ending.
"She had no interest in gems or riches," Thorin continued, pressing a kiss to the crown of Bella's head through the metal bars. "He gave her a gift so precious that it melted the ice around her heart and she saw him with new eyes."
"What was it?"
"Thranduil made her feel worthless and Father, she once told me, made her feel priceless. He told her that she had a lovely heart and a keen mind. If he entrusted her heart into his care, he would treasure her more than all the gold in Erebor." Thorin said. "He saw her a beautiful creature full of love and life, not a blight or walking badge of his father's weakness. She also wanted to spite her arrogant sod of a brother. She agreed to marry Thrain on his last night in Mirkwood and return with him to Erebor. However, she came up with a way to be a thorn in Thranduil's backside one last time."
"What did she do?" Bella's eagerness brought another chuckle from Thorin. "Steal his crown?"
"Better," he said. Bella turned around to sit on her knees, watching those blue eyes twinkle with mirth. "Much better than that."
"What?" Bella said with growing irritation. "Don't keep me in suspense, Thorin. It isn't fair."
"She stole his family jewels, put them in a lockbox and left with them the next day without him being the wiser," Thorin's chuckle echoed deep and rich off the fossilized wooden walls of the Elven dungeon. "She was already halfway to Erebor before he discovered them missing and she was Queen of Erebor for a year before he finally knew it was she who had stolen them."
"How did she find out?" Bella giggled with anticipation.
"King Thrain put them into a necklace which he gave her on their anniversary which just so happened to fall during the time Thranduil came to visit two years later. By then, she was heavy with her first child and she refused to return the jewels to him."
"That was quite the slap to his face. I'm sure his pride was bruised," Bella snuggled into Thorin as much as the cold iron bars allowed, suppressing a giggle as a vision of Thranduil, glowing and angry, endured humiliation of having his most prized family heirlooms paraded in public by the thief that stole them.
"Now, you now the truth of the tale," Thorin flashed Bella one of his rare grins. "And every thread of my sordid family history. How do you find me?"
"Arrogant and grumpy." Bella huffed.
He let loose laughter that echoed throughout the cavern walls of the dungeon.
"Oh, no wonder Thranduil hates the Dwarrow so much!" Bella said. Black hair, blue eyes, the enmity between Mirkwood's King and the Dwarven Prince. Thorin was the spitting image of his mother and a reminder of Thranduil's humiliation at the hands of Dross Durin. Bella's eyes widened to the size of saucers and she blinked several time as her lips formed a silent, "Oh!"
Bella clapped her hand over her mouth. "Oh, no wonder you two don't get along. It also explains why you're so tall and so handsome for a Dwarrow. Those are where the rumors of you having Human and Elven blood come from. Now, I understand."
Bella abruptly cut off her words in mid-sentence as she watched dark brows furrow into stern disdain. "Do you find Dwarves ugly, Bella?"
"No," she shook her head, curls bouncing from the motion. "I just find you more handsome than most."
His glare softened. "Well said, Burglar."
"Well, you must admit that you and your nephews don't quite look like the rest of your company," Bella spread her hands open in a helpless motion. "Your features are finer and more chiseled than say, Bofur or Balin. All three of you are taller than the average Dwarrow."
"Yes," he growled. "Thranduil never forgave my mother for stealing his white jewels that reminded him of starlight and he wanted them back. When the Orcs attacked Erebor, he turned his back on my father's people out of a desire of revenge of how my mother bested him. He has no integrity! I know how he treats his own kin. After Erebor burned, we came to him, starving, destitute, seeking aid and he turned away from us. My people suffered from the fire of the demon that murdered us."
"Because of some sparkling trinkets, your Uncle let innocent people suffer," Bella said in a low voice. "He committed murder and knowingly did it."
"Exactly, Ghivashel." Thorin grimly replied. "Now, you know what few outsiders know about the house of Durin and why we despise Elves, with my mother being the exception."
Thorin's mother! Bella thought about the tale she had just heard of the saucy half-elf telling her prig of a brother what he could do with himself. She chuckled when she thought of what drunks Elves truly were and how easily they succumbed to wine and its affects. One Hobbit could drink three Elves under the table as easily as a Dwarf found gold.
Dross knew well the ways of Elves and they under estimated her shrewdness and guile. A plan began forming in the burglars mind, reaching completion within a few seconds of its forming. She winked at Thorin, planting a quick kiss on his lips between the bars. "I have a solution."
"What are you going to do?" Thorin gave her a curious look.
"Something of which I think your mother would approve," she blew him a kiss as she round the corner from his cell. "Burgle."
An hour later, the Dwarrows were mostly asleep as dawn crept down through the cracks in the dungeon, dimly lighting places within it.
"Let's get you out of here," she whispered to her King on the other side of his cell door. Thorin's smirk grew into a road grin when he heard a jangle as she dug into her pocket, pulling out a ring of several keys. "For the moment, you'll simply have to be content with me unlocking your cell door. Oh, by the way, Thorin?"
"Yes, Mistress Burglar?" he asked as she put the key in the lock and turned, the door springing open. Two powerful arms wrapped around his little Burglar and Thorin held her close, lips meeting and tasting, nose nuzzling and brows touching.
He saw a wicked twinkle in those hazel eyes and knew he was in trouble. "I hope you know how to swim. I have a plan."
"Mahal save us all," blue eyes looked skyward.
To Be Continued. . . . . .