Is this my very last story? Probably. Possibly. It has been such a long journey, with me posting almost weekly for nearly one and a half years. My very first piece of writing ever, too, and now just under half a million words. A huge thank you to those who have stuck with me from the very beginning or to those who have galloped through the episodes like crazy to catch up with me. And it was always encouraging to hear from people who paused to comment.

However, although it is true that I have nothing left on my laptop except this one to post, people have been sending me suggestions for new stories. So, who knows? The lovely Thorin is a very difficult character to let go of.

Anyway, this chapter is based on an idea in the film with just a few adjustments. Tauriel is mad with Thranduil but he has a terrible secret which has dictated his response to certain things for centuries. Now that the elven king has found Nennia, will he be more or less willing to share his secret with her and Thorin? And will he get sympathy or rejection if he does?

.o00o.

All About Thorin…..and Everyone Else

Thorin and the Secret

Pt I

Tauriel was sitting up in bed with her arms crossed, glowering into the darkness.

"Lie down, my love," sighed Thorin, as he slid an encouraging hand up her thigh. "Getting angry about things serves no good purpose."

"Well, I can't help it," muttered Tauriel. "There was I, having a really nice chat with Borondin and Tagrith down near the harbour, when up rides Thranduil. He says hello to both me and Borondin but totally ignores Tagrith before riding on his way. I think that Borondin was ready to punch him on the nose – and so was I."

"You'll never change him," muttered Thorin, "so why get into such a state? He's obsessed with beauty and Tagrith's scar offends him, I'm afraid."

"Trust you to excuse him," snapped Tauriel. "I know he's your best friend now and you're practically a second father to his baby daughter, but, personally, I just want to give him a slap." And, as this thought passed through her mind, she slapped away Thorin's wandering hand. "Oh, just stop it, Thorin," she exclaimed. "I am just so fed up with you men!" And she lay down in bed with her back towards him.

Thorin tried to snuggle up behind her but she shrugged him away. In the end, Thorin lay on his back and wondered what he could do to rectify the situation.

.o00o.

The next morning, he got up and opened the laptop. "What's the story going to be about this time?!" asked Tauriel sleepily, coming into the room.

"I'm trying to right a wrong," muttered Thorin, as he thought about an appropriate title.

"Oh, that's nice," said the elf vaguely and she wandered off into the kitchen to make breakfast.

Thorin and the Secret

(typed Thorin. Not exactly inspiring, he thought, but it'll have to do. Come on, laptop! I think I'll need some help with this one.)

Thranduil sat in front of his mirror in his private apartments. He had firmly locked the door and now he examined his image with the utmost care.

No-one would ever guess, he thought. The face that stared back at him was extraordinarily beautiful: pale and perfect skin, magnetic blue eyes, interesting eyebrows, sensuously moulded lips and a fall of straight, silver-gilt hair that was silken and touchable. Yes, even though he said it himself, he was absolutely gorgeous. Why on earth Tauriel had preferred the rough beauty of a dwarven king, he would never know. But, at least Nennia thought him the loveliest thing that walked the earth and he would be content with that.

Then he sank back in his chair with a sigh. The trouble is, he thought, he wasn't the loveliest thing that walked the earth – far from it. He was a monster and whenever he saw someone like Tagrith – as he had done today – he was reminded of this unpalatable truth.

He relaxed and let go with that part of him that controlled the spell. Yes, Olorien the Alchemist had had his problems and had now escaped to Mary Sue's world, never to return. But he had also had his uses. The elf lord closed his eyes momentarily and then opened them again. Always, he hoped that things would be different – that his problem had been miraculously cured or at least improved upon. But, when he opened his eyes, nothing had changed. Half of his face was still horribly burned and eaten away by the dragon fire. He was horrific to look upon and he had nearly died during that attack by the fire-drakes of the north, hundreds of years ago. Olorien had saved his life and had taught him the spell of holding which had restored his beauty. Only Olorien had nursed him and only Olorien had known the extent of his injuries. It was Thranduil's horrible secret and not even the powers of Valinor had healed his wound.

And now he had found the lovely Nennia and he was terrified of losing her. He had nightmares in which his control over the scar relaxed whilst he was asleep and he was awoken by terrified screaming to find Nennia staring at his face in horror. In other bad dreams, he was nursing his baby daughter when the spell suddenly wore off and the baby started crying in terror too whilst Idris snatched her out of his arms saying that he would never see her again.

Who would tolerate him, he thought, if they knew the truth or if he lost control of the spell? No-one would want to come near him, not even his best friend, the dwarf, he concluded with a wry grimace. Thorin had a surprisingly high level of tolerance for most things but even he would back away from the loathsome thing that was Thranduil's face.

After only a few moments, he could stand it no longer and, taking a deep breath, he exerted the power of the spell again. His face became beautiful once more and he closed his eyes with a sigh. He had been seeing Nennia for some time and she was visiting him today. He would take her in his arms and try to forget the vile, deformed monstrosity that he actually was.

.o00o.

Pt II

Nennia arrived a few hours later and Thranduil lifted her down from her horse, knelt in the dirt and kissed her hand. The pretty elf grinned, enjoying his obeisance and the king grinned back, taking pleasure in humbling himself before her. After a suitable period of time, she ordered him to his feet and opened her arms to him. He kissed her tenderly and then invited her to take a walk in his gardens.

They drifted hand in hand between the trees until they reached a lovely, flowery bower. Then they sat down together and gazed into each other's eyes. Both were confident that they had found the One. Nennia's autocratic and domineering personality totally suited Thranduil and he had wondered for centuries if he would ever find someone who conformed to his sexual tastes. And now, here she was.

Nennia had always loved arranging people's lives and telling them what to do; and now she had found someone who wasn't irritated by her bossy ways but rather liked – and was even aroused by – her manner.

Quietly, Thranduil took off one of his beautiful silver rings and offered it to her. She smiled and slipped it over her largest digit, her thumb; and then she took off one of her own and gave it to the elven king who placed it on his little finger. They gazed solemnly at each other and then they laughed. "Thank you for accepting my betrothal ring," he said.

"And, thank you for accepting mine in return," she replied. "We shall have to get chains for these before we lose them."

That night, they were intimate for the first time. This was a new experience for Nennia but not for Thranduil and he led her through it all gently. Nennia had been reading and re-reading Frodo's sex manual ever since Thranduil had shown an interest in her and so felt ready for this consummation. But, the elf lord felt a bit fraught: on the other two occasions, with his wife and his former betrothed, it had not been a complete success for him, because of his special 'interests'. However, when the dawn came, he began to let himself feel at least a little confident that, this time, things would work out just fine.

In fact, after their first hour or so together, when he was still trying to show considerable restraint, it was Nennia who giggled and wanted to know where he kept the handcuffs and it was she who chained him to the bed. He had really enjoyed the next hour of being dominated: it was such an exhilarating change to let someone else take charge after having to march around all day being a king and forcing others to your will, and he sighed with pleasure at the thought of doing it all over again the following night.

But, once they had both drifted off to sleep, he had had that dreadful nightmare again where Nennia found out about his scarred face and had started screaming. In fact, it was Thranduil who shouted out in his sleep and awoke to find Nennia cradling him in her arms, telling him that he had had a bad dream. But, the kinder she was to him, the more afraid he became that he would lose her.

.o00o.

The next morning when they woke up together and gazed smilingly into each other's eyes, Nennia suggested that they visit Thorin and Tauriel to tell them of their betrothal. "I'm sure they'll be very pleased about it," she said. "And, perhaps a ride in the fresh air will make you sleep better tonight."

Yes, he wanted Thorin to know because he had helped to bring them together with his SoulMates page. He was sure that the dwarf would be delighted at his matchmaking success. There had been a number of betrothals already because of his idea and Thorin was proudly ticking them off on a little list. Nennia and Thranduil had not been an obvious couple at first because they just seemed to snipe at each other but then Thorin and Tauriel began to realise that they were both getting a bit of fun out of this and that they even found it rather stimulating.

There was a big age gap too but this seemed to bother neither of them. In the elven world, age differences could be quite vast and you just got used to it. The important thing – as Thorin had discovered with his rather 'elderly' wife – was compatibility. And Nennia and Thranduil seemed to be a good match.

And so, it wasn't exactly a big surprise when Tauriel looked out the window that afternoon and saw Thranduil riding up the hill with Nennia seated before him on his horse. "Look, Thorin," she cried. "Don't they look lovely together? Do you think they're coming with a piece of good news?"

It was Nennia who led the way into the room whilst Thranduil followed shyly behind her. "We've got something to tell you," she said, "haven't we, Thranduil? Go on, tell them." And the elven king stepped forward obediently at her command and told them about the betrothal.

"I knew it!" cried Tauriel, clapping her hands. "You seem so right for each other!" Then there was a lot of hugging and kissing. After that, the ladies bustled into the kitchen whilst Thorin sat with Thranduil outside on the bench for a bit of a chat.

"She's a lovely girl," said Thorin. "You were attracted to her straight away after my trial, weren't you? Even I could see that."

"Yes," laughed Thranduil. "I suppose I was. She reminded me a bit of Tauriel – only more so. Very managing, you know. And I really need that sort of partner – otherwise I tend to walk all over them, just like I did Idris."

They gazed out to sea for a quiet moment and then Thorin murmured: "So, everything's all right in bed, is it?"

"Brilliant!" exclaimed Thranduil. "You know it was her who asked without any prompting last night where I kept the handcuffs and, this morning, I found her rifling through all my chests and drawers, digging out my toys and asking all about them. We can't wait to get back home tonight for a bit of experimentation."

Thorin grinned and shook his head at the thought that two such people existed in Valinor and had found each other, but he was pleased for his friend all the same. "Well, I hope you'll be very happy," he said.

"I'm sure we will be," exclaimed the elven king but Thorin noticed that a shadow passed over his beautiful face as he said it.

.o00o.

Pt III

As Nennia and Thranduil rode back to the elf king's palace, more than gratified by the enthusiastic congratulations they had received from Thorin and Tauriel, they crossed paths with Borondin and Tagrith who were both living in a tree-house together down in the harbour area, close to other members of Tauriel's old troop.

Nennia waved enthusiastically at them. "Stop the horse!" she ordered Thranduil and the elf did so rather sullenly. When the smiling couple approached, Nennia excitedly waggled her hand around, displaying the large silver ring on her thumb. "Look!" she cried. And then she grabbed Thranduil's hand and forced him to display her ring on his little finger. "We're betrothed!"

"Congratulations," said Borondin, and Thranduil nodded politely in response. The elf lord had tried to say this as pleasantly as possible but he found it difficult to believe that anyone would ever be happy with the arrogant king of Mirkwood. Just look at what happened with idris! But, perhaps this would be a case of third time lucky. Tagrith seemed hesitant too, and he knew why. Every meeting they had with Thranduil was unpleasant for her because the king always did his best to ignore her. But Borondin gave her a gentle push in the small of her back, hoping that such a happy occasion would provoke the king into being a bit nicer.

"That's wonderful!" exclaimed Tagrith, giving Nennia a beaming smile. And Nennia bent down from the horse and gave her hand a squeeze. Then, Tagrith turned with shy apprehension towards Thranduil. "Congratulations," she said in her sweet, melodious voice. "You have found a wonderful bride. I hope you will be very happy together."

Thranduil looked down at Tagrith and saw how the ugly scar crinkled across her face. It made him think how much more repulsive his own face would look if ever anyone should see it. His mouth twisted in a sneer and then he tugged at the horse's reins and moved away from the couple. "I think we'd better get moving, Nennia," he said, "if we want to get back before dark." And before his betrothed could do anything about it, he had his mount trotting down the road without a single courteous farewell.

"Thranduil!" gasped Nennia, turning to gaze at her beloved's face which was grim and set. "What on earth was all that about? She's a lovely woman and you were so rude to her!"

The elven king tried to speak to her in the same way as he had Idris and said haughtily that he didn't want her to associate with Tagrith. Idris had bent her head in acquiescence but Nennia wasn't Idris. "How dare you dictate to me who should and shouldn't be my friend!" she snapped. "And I can't tell you how many notches you have gone down in my opinion for despising someone just because she has a scar on her face."

Thranduil compressed his lips. How could he explain to her why Tagrith's scar disturbed him so much? Better to say nothing at all. And the two of them rode in complete silence all the way home although both their thoughts were working overtime.

Nennia began to wonder just how well she knew Thranduil. Yes, he was arrogant and haughty but she had never seen him be downright rude like this. And over something unimportant like a scar. The more she thought, the more she wondered if something lay behind his attitude.

Thranduil, meanwhile, was squirming in distress. He knew he had upset everyone and, most importantly, Nennia. And, yet, he had been unable to prevent his response to Tagrith, so how could he ever explain without revealing his secret? No, he could never do that.

Lost in these thoughts, they finally reached the palace where Nennia dismounted without waiting for the king's help and then strode up to their rooms. Thranduil followed anxiously behind her.

"I'm sorry," he said humbly, as the door closed behind them. "I didn't mean to upset anyone."

Nennia rounded on him. "Of course you did," she snapped. "You just can't stand things that are less than beautiful, can you? And Tagrith falls into that category. I'm not quite sure I can remain betrothed to someone who is so shallow." And she turned and marched over to the cupboards and began to pull out her clothes and throw them on the bed.

"What are you doing?" cried Thranduil, his heart turning pitifully in his breast.

"What do you think?" was the sharp response. "I'm going home to think things through."

The king fell on his knees and seized the hem of her skirt. "Please don't go," he whispered. "I'll do anything to keep you."

Nennia turned slowly and stared down at his bowed head for a few moments. "There's something you're not telling me, isn't there?" she said slowly.

He didn't speak for such a long time that she thought he wasn't going to answer. But then he gave the faintest nod. She knelt on the floor with him and said quietly: "I want you to tell me what it is."

"I can't," he answered in such low tones that she hardly caught what he was saying.

She stood up and said decisively: "I shall sleep in the other room tonight. Tomorrow, we shall return to the forge and you will tell me, Thorin, Tauriel, Tagrith and Borondin what is going on or I shall leave you."

"I can't," he whispered again.

"You have the night to think about it," she said and then she scooped up her clothes from the bed and walked from the room.

.o00o.

Pt IV

Thranduil didn't sleep a wink that night and when Nennia saw his wan, tired face the next morning, she nearly let him off the hook. But she sensed the importance of the king revealing his secret and so she stood her ground.

"Why do they all have to be there?" he asked her pleadingly.

"Because you owe it to me, to Tagrith and to Borondin; and, after you have revealed whatever this secret is, you may need the support of your two best friends, especially Thorin.

Yes, he thought; she was probably right. He would definitely need the support of Thorin and Tauriel afterwards – that is, providing that they didn't turn from him in horror.

They ate a little breakfast in silence once more and then they set out for Thorin's forge. Nennia sat stiffly in front of Thranduil and the way that she was distancing herself from him was very difficult for the elf to cope with. When they finally reached the tree houses in the harbour, Nennia dismounted and knocked on Borondin's door. Tagrith opened it and cast a startled glance at Thranduil who was sitting, slumped and despondent, on his horse. She had never seen him looking less than arrogant and she looked back to Nennia with an enquiring expression on her face.

"Thranduil has something to tell us," Nennia said. "We want you and Borondin to meet us up at Thorin's forge as soon as possible." Tagrith nodded and then watched the two depart up the hill with a puzzled expression on her face.

When they reached the forge, Nennia told Thorin and Tauriel what had happened since they had last met whilst Thranduil sat hunched in the corner. "He has a secret," she finally said, "and he will tell everyone all about it once Borondin and Tagrith have arrived. I believe it will explain his appalling behaviour towards her."

"I hope so," said Tauriel. "His rudeness has been difficult for me to swallow for a long time."

Thorin glanced worriedly towards his friend. His face was drained of colour and he looked as though he were going to his execution. "Get him a cup of tea, Tauriel," he said quietly; and, when she had made it, he gently eased it into Thranduil's cold hands.

"He looks almost in a state of shock," said Tauriel in Nennia's ear.

"I know," she replied. "I can't imagine a secret so dreadful that he has never told anyone. But, I can't marry him until I know everything about him."

Tauriel nodded in agreement. She had kept a secret about her and Lostwithiel for years and when it had finally surfaced, it had caused a lot of trouble. It was better to start off life together with a clean slate.

Borondin and Tagrith knocked on the door then; and, finally, they were all sitting in a circle together.

"Come on, my friend," said Thorin, placing a gentle hand on Thranduil's arm.

"But friend for how much longer?" the king asked with a wry grimace.

"That bad, hey?" asked the dwarf, giving his arm a little pat.

"Yes, that bad," said the elf grimly. Then he took a deep breath and began.

"It was centuries ago," he said, "when a group of fire-drakes came down from the north and the battle against them was long and hard."

The surrounding group nodded, an intent look on their faces. They had all heard of this although none had been involved.

"I was part of an armed force that had been sent out on patrol. One of the dragons attacked us and nearly finished us all off. Olorien and I were the last two left standing. But, the dragon had a weak spot, just like Smaug. I hid in a ditch and, as he crawled above me, I managed to drive my blade into his heart."

They all sat wide-eyed, listening to his tale. They had heard that Thranduil had once been called the greatest warrior on Middle-earth. Nowadays, he seemed more interested in clothes than swords and it was difficult to imagine him being such a renowned warrior. But this heroic moment must be one reason why.

"I had survived – but only just. With his dying breath, the fire-drake burned away the left hand side of my face."

All eyes now fixed upon Thranduil's left cheek and they studied its untouched perfection.

"Olorien had escaped practically unscathed. He nursed me and healed my wounds. Are you surprised he was a close friend?" Then, he sighed. "Even though he went bad, I owed him a great debt and I am sorry that he is no longer with us in Valinor."

That explained a lot, thought Thorin.

"The left side of my face was totally burned through. You could see my teeth and part of my skull. I was lucky not to lose my sight."

They were all gripped by his account and were appalled at what he had gone through. "That's a dreadful story," murmured Tauriel, "but everything's all right now, isn't it?"

"Is it?" asked Thranduil. He had come to the difficult bit but he managed to get it out. "My face is as horrific as it ever was but Olorien taught me a powerful spell of holding so that I could disguise the damage. Whenever I see anyone with a scarred face, as with Tagrith, I can't cope because I immediately think of my own – and how much worse it is."

"You must let us see," said Nennia quietly.

White-faced, Thranduil rose to his feet and the others stood up with him. "I shall now release the spell," he said in a strained voice.

It was almost as if something were eating his face away. The jaws of the men dropped and the hands of the ladies flew to their mouths. Thranduil waited for the screams.

"Oh, my love," said Nennia, stepping forward and taking him by one of his hands. "What you must have suffered." And she cupped her hand gently to the damaged cheek.

"Dearest Thranduil," said Tauriel, taking him by the other hand.

"No wonder my scar upset you," murmured Tagrith.

"I can understand now," said Borondin.

"I'm not surprised they called you the greatest warrior of Middle-earth," grinned Thorin. "But, cover it up now, you old show-off, or all the ladies of Valinor will be after you, offering you their comfort."

Thorin's remark broke the tension and they all laughed gently. The terrible wound closed up and Thranduil gave a relieved smile. "I thought you would all scream and run away," he said.

Thorin grunted. "So that's your opinion of our friendship, is it?"

"Or my love," said Nennia indignantly. And she kissed the now perfect cheek.

Tears came to Thranduil's eyes and he gulped. But then he swallowed hard and turned to Tagrith. "How can I ever apologise to you," he said. "I could only show you scorn because of my fear; but you have offered me compassion. And I thank you from my heart."

Tagrith was crying too by this time and could only pat his shoulder and keep saying 'there, there'. Then Thranduil bent forward and gently kissed her on her scarred forehead.

"Time for a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate cake," smiled Tauriel. And they all cheered.

.o00o.

("Oh, my goodness!" exclaimed Tauriel. "I just never knew about his scar."

"Neither did I," said Thorin, "but the laptop did and it guided me through this story."

"Well," said Tauriel, giving him a hug. "You've certainly righted a wrong there. I'm so glad that Thranduil and Tagrith can now be friends. And I can't believe how much Thranduil has changed: he's turning into quite a lovely person."

Thorin let out a snort of laughter. "Don't you believe it! He'll never change. The rest of us have just learned how to manage him better. But I think that Nennia has forgiven him, thank goodness. It would have been a real shame if they had broken up all over a stupid deformity – that no-one can see anyway. He's luckier than Tagrith in that respect."

Tauriel sighed. "I quite regret that Olorien is no longer with us – perhaps he could have cast a spell for Tagrith too."

"But, if her scar is no problem for her friends and those who love her, then it shouldn't be a problem for Tagrith."

"Thorin," said Tauriel tenderly, "your face may be perfect on the outside, but the more important thing is that you are perfect on the inside." And she grasped his plaits and gave him a passionate and heartfelt kiss.

That evening, as a purple twilight drew in, they sat outside on the bench and watched the stars slowly come out.

"Are you happy, Thorin?" asked Tauriel, taking hold of his hand.

"What do you think, my love?" he replied. "You know me better than I know myself."

"Hmm," she pondered for a moment. "Not completely happy," she finally said, and he raised a curious eyebrow. "But that's because you're a malcontent, not happy with the present moment, but always seeking to improve it for your family and your friends and, in fact for all of Valinor."

Thorin sighed. "I'm sorry I have such a restless spirit," he said.

"I'm not," smiled Tauriel. "Without you, our world would be a more wretched and miserable place." And she kissed him gently on the cheek and led him into the house.)

.o00o.

Well, I've left it open ended, just in case one of your ideas inspires me to write some more. The most popular suggestions have been about what happens next to Thranduil and Nennia. How will she get along with Idris and Gilrin? And how about a description of Thranduil's splendiferous wedding?

If you want to know whether or not I continue this story, then make sure you are on Alert. And, if you like slash, then you can always check out my Thorinduil stories.

Thank you very much for all your support! (Dabs eyes with tissues.) And a big thank you to the lovely Richard Armitage for providing me with the inspiration in the first place.

.o00o.