He had eaten nothing and drunk nothing for more than two days. Anger was useful for keeping himself on his feet and moving, but only for so long. His stomach ached with hunger, and felt as if it was lined with wet dirt, and his mouth was dry.

When anger failed, wariness was all that kept him moving. He had felt a little hopeful when the forest first lightened, but he had been traversing the same dimly lit green landscape for too long now to appreciate it. He saw no other living thing; only moths and the occasional slithering suggestion of a black lizard. He heard almost no sound except for the leaves and branches moving above him, and the comments of Bilbo's dagger, though even those were growing sparse and half-hearted.

So when the sudden appearance of a guard emerged from the dark of the woods to surround him, Thorin was secretly relieved.

Ah. Civilized company, Bilbo's dagger sighed. Thorin wondered if it was deliberately seeking to rile him now, but said nothing in response. At least we aren't alone with each other any more.

The elves took his axe, and Thorin said nothing. They did not vouch to search him. Instead they herded him, one behind him, two ahead, one on either side, all prepared to restrain him if he put up a fight. They looked as silent and serene as Lord Elrond's elves had, but Thorin could see the truth. Like a coiled snake. Their hands were never far from their swords.

He kept the dagger hidden beneath the fur trim, pushed slightly further back on his belt so it did not interfere with the shape of his coat. He did not believe they hadn't noticed, but if the opportunity was there to hold onto at least one weapon, he did not intend to waste it.

The dagger itself was strangely silent as they walked, Thorin trudging along with equal shares tiredness (unavoidable) and irascibility (avoidable, but why bother?). It only took a couple of hours of travel on foot to reach the front gate of Thranduil's home.

Thorin grew more and more sullen, the closer they got.

As expected, he was brought first not to a cell or to a healing chamber, but to the halls of the king.

Thranduil, either because his eyes were sharper than those of his kin or because he had been expecting Thorin to carry a concealed weapon, commented on the dagger as soon as Thorin was brought before him.

'That does not look like a dwarvish weapon,' he said evenly. Thorin swept back the edge of his coat to place his thumbs in his belt, straightening his back. If exhaustion lost him the use of his legs, he would not slump. Not in front of this coward. The dagger, now in plain sight, snorted at Thorin's brazen gesture.

'What are you doing in my kingdom, Thorin Oakinshield?' Thranduil asked. Though he had the nerve to ask, his voice betrayed no surprise, barely a reaction at all. Merely inquisitiveness. He must have been told in advance of their approach, and schooled his features into that maddeningly blank expression Thorin remembered from a century ago.

'I am starving, and I am lost,' Thorin replied flatly. 'That is what I am doing, in your kingdom.'

Still, no expression.

'You trespass, and you bother my people at their celebrations. This is no place for a dwarf to be going for an idle stroll. I ask again. What are you doing in my kingdom?'

The question was asked slowly, as if Thranduil were speaking to a very young child, or a simpleton. Thorin felt his anger, which had up until now been in a state of ebbing away, surge back to the surface.

'I have told you, I am lost. Is it now custom to treat all strangers with such disrespect and suspicion?'

'Only those who behave suspiciously and disrespectfully,' Thranduil replied.

Thorin did not mention the others, though he was burning to know. If they were safe, then the last thing Thorin ought to do would be to mention them to the elven king. If they were not safe ... well, what would Thranduil do? He would sit in his chair, with his blank expression, and do absolutely nothing about it.

'The weapon at your side,' Thranduil said, gesturing with a small movement of his right hand. 'I would be interested to know how it came to you.'

'What about it is so interesting?'

Lovely to know I'm appreciated. What is so interesting about me indeed, the dagger sulked.

'It does not suit you, I think,' Thranduil said lightly.

'Do you accuse me of theft?' Thorin ground out.

'I accuse you of nothing. But it will be taken from you. You have no use for a weapon here.'

Thorin's eyes narrowed, and he closed his hand around the hilt of Bilbo's dagger.

'I would keep it, if it is all the same for you.'

Thranduil quirked his head ever so slightly. His expression did not change, but the air in the room seemed to drop by the smallest degree.

'Do you intend to use it against my people?' Thranduil asked. His face was unreadable. His meaning, his tone, was unmistakable.

'Do you intend to give me reason?' Thorin snapped back.

Positively charming. Well done. Truly a master of wit and reason you are.

Thorin gritted his teeth.

'Until you give me a reason to trust you, and until you tell me the truth, I will not trust you. I will house you and provide you with a warm meal, but I will not trust you.'

With a gesture from their king, two elves set about removing the dagger from Thorin. As he sat facing the wall of his cell later that evening, with his back to the door and the plate of broth and bread that had been left for him, he liked to think he did not make it easy for them.

He purposely did not think about the feeling of loss when he brought his hand to his side, and heard no familiar shimmering voice.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE

I know, I know, in the book Thorin gets captured before the others do. In making the other dwarves get captured first I was trying to stick more or less to the timeline, because all the time Thorin was supposed to be already in Thranduil's prison he's instead been traipsing around the woods with Bilbo's dagger.

Who, since it wasn't in the spider scene, didn't get given its name.

DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNNN

PS: It occurred to me that, in translation to a modern setting, Thorin could be regarded as hugely racist. Like, the equivalent of an adult privileged white male hating all Lebanese people because the Lebanese family across the road didn't help him move his stuff when his mansion caught fire. So forgive me if I choose to portray Thranduil as not evil.