Four years later…

"And I'm telling you, I do not allow that! She is not riding a pony!" Wren's voice shook with rage, and Thorin sighed.

"You can't protect her from every little thing. She is five. For four years we've been doing it your way, but you have to understand, Wren. I can't let you go on treating her like a crystal goblet. At her age Dwarven children train with battle axes."

"At five, they only start to walk!" Wren hissed at him, and he felt irritation rising.

"Do not start your usual sophism, Wren. You're well aware what I meant. She is strong, and she will be watched. It is a small, calm animal, I chose it myself, and she will be..."

"No! I prohibit it!" Wren's voice rang, and she swirled on her heels and marched to the door.

"You can't coddle her all her life. I'm certain, she needs to..." Thorin called after her, only to be interrupted by her sharp furious shout.

"You are not her father! You have no word in it!"

Some white, uncontrollable rage clouded Thorin's mind, and he stepped to her, crossing room in a few swift movements.

"Don't you ever dare saying this! I am her father!"

"No, you are not!" she screamed into his face, and he grabbed her upper arm. She hissed, and jerked in his grasp. "You are… just … You're..."

He could see that even if her desire to argue with him, she couldn't pronounce what was on her mind. And something snapped in him, after four years of walking on eggshells, and not giving anything its proper name.

"What am I?! C'mon, Wren, say it finally!" he growled at her. "What am I to you?" He knew her well by now. She only needed a small push to lose her composure.

"You are my owner! I belong to you! I owe you everything!"

"How dare you..." he snarled, and threw her away from him, almost in disgust.

She barked a sharp bitter laugh. He could see her narrowed eyes, and bared teeth. The view was painfully familiar. All they did for four years was arguing.

As soon as she'd gained her strength, all those years ago, she'd antagonise him every step of the way. As if she wanted him to lose his patience with her… And perhaps, he finally had.

"How dare I what?" she continued sneering. "It is the truth! I do not lie to myself. I am only enjoying a comfortable, careless life, because you're too noble to abuse the power you have over me!"

"Do you want me to stop?" he roared, and she jumped to him, her angry eyes suddenly right in front of his. "I can, Wren. I can forget that the Khazad respect women, and that..." He drew a sharp breath in, some dark thoughts stirring in his mind.

"What? You can't even think of anything! You can do nothing! You never have!" She scoffed and looked him over, her face a hateful mask. "Never! You've never even asked anything from me, in all these years. As if I can offer nothing in return. Any other would demand something to repay for his kindness."

"I am no Man, Wren. I don't need favours for what I thought was the right thing to do!"

"Indeed. You are so noble!" she drew out venomously. "Never asked even for a kiss. Any other would make me bed him when a whim would come, you haven't even touched me since the day I came to Erebor! I am nothing to you! I am a dirty mongrel you picked up on the road, showed kindness to, and then conveniently stuffed into back rooms! Mahal help me, I'd rather you force yourself on me every night, and beat me up, than this coldness!"

By the end of it she was screaming at the top of her lungs, her voice breaking, hysterical, and pained, and then she flailed her arms, ungracefully, and rushed to the next room, the door banging behind her. He heard something fall, and crash there, and then there was silence.

He took a few measured breaths in, and turned to follow her. But then he stopped, still not certain what he would say when he saw her.

She returned herself, and he saw that her hand was bleeding. She had wrapped a cloth around it, but he could see she hardly paid any attention to it. She walked up to him, and stopped a step away, and her face was reserved and calm now.

"Forgive me, I behaved… disgracefully." He met her eyes, and saw sincere regret in them. "I don't know why I did... It was like madness. As if something snapped, after all these years..." She chuckled joylessly. "It is just that..." She exhaled, gathering her thoughts. "It is just every time you do something of the sort, I think of how it could have been if I were different. If I deserved you… If I could be the one you needed... how different our life would have been, and Mira would be indeed your daughter, and I could have been the one you loved..."

Thorin felt his breathing hitch. They had never spoken of love. They had never spoken so openly. He was watching her face in shock.

There was silence in the room, and then he heard a drop fall on the floor. He looked down, and saw a small crimson circle of her blood.

"I broke a cup, I apologise," she spoke quietly, also looking at the red on the floorboards.

"It's nothing," he muttered, and suddenly realised how familiar this exchange was. How many times in these years he would give, and she would thank, and he would say it was nothing; and if something broke, she would apologise, and he would say it mattered not?

Was that what she felt? That everything was his, even when given to her?! To him, the cup was hers, the chambers were hers. Everything he owned was hers. At least, in his mind. What had she just said? I am nothing to you!

Did they see it all so differently?! How could he have been so blind?

He lifted his astonished eyes at her. She looked endlessly tired.

"Thorin, let me go, please."

He first saw her red lips move, and only then he heard the words.

"Pardon?"

"Let me go. And tell me to leave, becasue I am not strong enough to go myself. But... I cannot live here anymore. I can't… continue, the way I live now, in terror that a day will come when you change your mind. I know I begged you to let me stay all those years ago, and I am grateful." The last word was so grave and so full of meaning that it almost felt as a weight on his chest. "Words cannot express how I am grateful and indebted to you. You gave my child life." She then smiled to him, tenderly, and so much sorrow was in her every feature, that he stepped to her and lifted a hand. She didn't wince away. "You are her father. Only because of you, she lives, and laughs, and talks, and… And I have no right to ask for anything else, but please, I'm begging you..." Her hands closed around his lifted hand. "Let me go. I cannot go on like that anymore."

"Where will you go? You can't even ride a horse..." His words were helpless, he was already pondering her options, and paths, and how much silver she would need, and she suddenly shifted closer, and pressed her forehead to his.

"Do not think about it… I am not your responsibility. Please… Let me go, and let me release you from this slavery..."

He closed his eyes, and realised he would agree. With the next inhale, he would open his mouth and say goodbye. He wouldn't even argue with her erroneously naming his life a slavery. He had lived these four years, truly lived. Given he had been aching, and craving, restraining himself, but he lived. She had been his life. And now she wanted him to tell he to leave him.

When did it become so tangled? Had it always been like that? It had, his mind supplied the immediate answer. From the start, from their broken beginning. With the dreams, and another woman in them, with the day he had pulled her out of purgid, dark water, and the heart of another's child beat under hers, and with each day that he loved her, and didn't dare to speak of it, with each day - he was losing her. She thought he had been showing noble kindness, he harboured hunger for her body. The more they argued, the further away she moved, the less he felt he could try to make her see they didn't have to.

When did it become so tangled?..

"Mahal forgive me, I just need one..." she suddenly whispered, and he opened his eyes to ask what she meant, when she lunged and pressed her mouth to his.

Greedily. Desperately. Just the way he had been craving to press his to her bright red lips.

Her hands grabbed fistfuls of his hair, and she moaned raspily into his mouth. It sounded like she was in pain - just as he felt; as if she was dying - just as he was; and she devoured his lips, and broke his breath, and clawed at him, and whined. And then she made a strangled noise into his lips - why hadn't he moved? - and jumped from him.

She was gasping for air, as if she'd been punched into the stomach, and her long fingered hands were pressed above her navel.

"Forgive me… Forgive me… I just needed to know it… I couldn't leave without it… Not without at least one kiss… I had to have at least something, I'd die otherwise..."

She was rasping, and then a heave came, and he stepped to her, slowly, finally understanding, and feeling how the world slowly moved, everything finally taking its right place.

"I love you, Wren."

She was still half bent, and muttering something, and then she froze, and he just stood in front of her, not touching, afraid of breaking her, and breaking the moment, and the strange silence around them.

She slowly looked up, and he saw a blue vein beating on her temple.

"What?"

"I love you. I want you to be my wife. I always have, and always will."

"What?"

"I love you. I want you to be my wife."

She was still gaping at him, and he made a small step closer.

"Wren, I love you, and I want you to be my..."

"Stop repeating it!" she shrieked, and straightened up sharply. He saw a bloodstain on her stomach. She had cut her hand, he remembered.

"Wren..."

"What?"

He felt lost. He wasn't sure what she required to finally see what he saw so clearly now.

"I don't understand..." she mumbled.

"I said I loved you…"

"I said I didn't understand, I didn't say I didn't hear!"

He suddenly guffawed. This irked, argumentative tone was all so familiar to him! She was frowning and studying him.

"We need to look at your hand," he offered, assuming the change of the conversation topic could help to shake her out of her stupour.

And then she dashed to him, and hung on his neck, and cried, and laughed, and he pressed her into him, and she was mumbling something, and he would have listened, but he wanted a kiss.


They were in his bedchamber now, and she was awkwardly pulling her clothes off, her fingers not listening to her, and it was difficult because they were kissing without pause, and one could hardly pull off a tunic, if one's mouth was permanently glued to another pair of lips. And she was hurriedly and clumsily fumbling with the clasps on his doublet, and he lost patience and jerked her bodice, and something probably ripped. And then she jerked out of his hands, and he toppled forward, into suddenly empty space in front of him, but she just turned out to have moved closer to the headboard, and he rushed after her. She was trying to climb under the covers, and he realised he still had one boot on. Something was constantly on the way, and she was making little angry noses, and he thought he never loved her more.

And then they both froze, suddenly bare and pressed into each other. Her skin was cool, and hands were rough, from the sandpaper and the clay she had had in her hands constantly these days, in her pottery apprenticeship, and she was staring at him, her pupils giant, and he rolled her under him. Her eyes were suddenly widened, but then she shook her head, as if chasing some thoughts away, and opened her knees, allowing him in.

There was a moment there when he was suddenly terrified, and uncertain, and as much as he fought, he couldn't push away the thoughts of her back - he knew of excruciating pains she had to endure at least once a moon - and of his own inexperience, and her memories of her former lover… but she cupped his face and smiled to him.

"I am here with you," she whispered, and he exhaled, and kissed her, and after that he wasn't scared anymore.


He learnt that he knew nothing of physical love, that his dreams had nothing to do with what transpired between two bodies - with the fire, and ache, and tenderness.

At some moment she suddenly started scratching his shoulders, and biting him, and arching into him, and pleading for something desperately, and he couldn't understand, but he seemed to be doing everything right, because she shuddered, and wrapped her arms around his neck, and her demands and raspy cries were replaced by the words of gratitude and love. And he didn't know what it had been, but the next wave came, toppling him over, and now she was soft and warm in his arms, and her eyes were smiling, and trust was splashing in them, and he forgot he'd wanted to understand.

There was artlessness to her movements, she was somewhat clumsy, and bumped her elbow into the wall couple times, and then she whipped her head, and their temples collided, and it was painful, and his ears rang, and he laughed. There was a moment he felt she was suddenly bashful and was hiding her eyes, and he laughed again, and she smiled to him shyly, and her nose twitched in a nervous gesture.

She was Wren of Ithilien, angular, uncertain, and self-conscious, and so very dear. She started crying at some moment, and smiling through tears, and assuring him she was happy, and it was just her body, and too much pleasure, and then she blushed furiously, and he silenced her with a kiss.

And then they lay in the bed, too tired to talk, and he could feel her pulse, and then he realised that it was beating in her stomach, just above the hipbone, and it turned out he had his hand pressed to that spot, and he laughed again, because he hadn't known that women had a pulse beating near their navels. And she hummed questioningly, and then laughed as well. He assumed it was because she had no strength to ask anything. He had to agree, it was indeed funny.

She groaned then, and shifted, accommodating her back. They started moving, still not finding a comfortable position, and then she turned her back to him, and pressed her firm warm buttocks to his hip. He turned his head and stared at bright orange curls.

He wondered if she was falling asleep.

"No, I am not," she suddenly said, and then yawned loudly. He closed his eyes, his mind wandered, thoughts half formed, and lazy, and then he remembered she had cut her hand. And then he remembered why.

"Will you marry me, Wren?" he asked, and she stayed still. He looked at the delicate graceful back, and the small curls on her nape.

"I don't want to be the Queen. Can I just be your mistress?" she asked quietly, and he turned and embraced her, burying his nose into her hair.

"Alright," he agreed grudgingly, and he decided it mattered not, and he didn't want to think about it, not to spoil the mood. He had never been happier in his life, and he wasn't going to change it.

She lay in silence for a moment, and then she carefully turned, and the tip of her nose pressed into his.

"Can we marry in secret, and I will just live like I live now, but we will also..." she trailed away, and blushed.

"Alright," he agreed, and smiled to her widely.

As long as she wanted him, he could live without her wanting his Kingdom. After all she was a potter, and not a Queen. She was studying his face, and he lifted one brow.

She chuckled, a low throaty sound, and then brushed the tips of her fingers to the brow.

"I just… I just want to be with you," she said simply, and he leaned in and quickly kissed her lips.

"You are," he whispered, and she smiled to him.

THE END


Afterword:

Despite previous injuries, Wren managed to have another child. The parturiency was very difficult, several moons were spent in bed, and pains was sometimes hardly bearable, but she refused to take abortive herbs. The King spent many hours sitting by her bed, reading to her, or simply holding her hand. The delivery was complicated, but their son, Thror, son of Thorin was born healthy and in term.

Mira grew up into a smart, capable woman.

Neither Thorin, nor Wren had ever had any of the dreams again, which they were quite content with.


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romance webserial: Dr. T Series

Summary: Wren Leary, a young biochem student is placed before a choice: Will it be Philip Durinson, the self-assured ball of sunshine and a uni stud, or his cantankerous and mistrusting uncle, John Thorington? The first one is her friend, the second one regrets that night in the tent. Wrennie is in a pickle.

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My book on Amazon!

CONVINCE ME THE WINTER IS OVER

{my first novel

inspired by the story initially written here}

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paper!


Summary:

Renee Miller is a reclusive web designer who, after several hours of delirium from flu, wakes up to find a stranger in boxer briefs standing in her bathroom.

John is an archaeologist who finds himself stuck in a stranger's flat in a snowstorm.

Frozen in her neat and clean world of highly functional anxieties and her history of childhood trauma, Renee is perhaps the worst possible host for her flatmate's boyfriend's colleague. Yet, while the fervent gush of life that is John Greaves disrupts her carefully guarded existence, Renee finds herself gradually yearning for more.

Is John the first breath of Spring in her frigid world?