Thorin's Heart ~ The Hidden Years by:durinheir

To my sister who inspired me to write, my aunt who taught me the magic and adventure of life, my mother who has been my rock, my grandmother who is stronger than time, and my husband who has shown me that true love does exist especially in the form of our children.

I would give all the gold and jewels under the sun to taste the sweetness of your kiss, hear the melody of your song, and feel the love that envelopes completely as you hold me in your arms.
~Thorin Durin Oakenshield

Chapter 1 ~ A Song in the Night

Kale was playing with Nightrunner who always seemed to find her at night. She ran with him through the soft glow of the moonlit forest that bordered Rivendell's edge until a soft, heart-catching song filled the air around her and stopped her in her tracks. She spun around listening for its direction and then slowly slipped through the woods.

With the wolf at her side, she made her way to the pull of the music. She walked stealthily through the moon-bathed trees that cast slanted beams of light on her until she reached an orange glow that poured into the forest's edge. She peered through the trees and saw the dwarves standing around a small fire smoking their pipes and singing the most sad, soul-stirring music. Suddenly, she could see Erebor in their song and panicked when fire filled her eyes. Smaug, the dragon, had come to destroy and she could see everything in her vision. She shook her head trying to figure out what just happened as fear took her and she lost her breath. Tears filled her eyes but no one else seemed to notice anything, except Nightrunner who whined with worry. She was back to reality but trembling. The dwarves stood around Thorin, their leader. She looked at him then and saw the great pride that they held for him. She knew the stories of the exile of "Thorin the Bold" told by young and old elves alike through the years and had just seen with her own eyes how he tried to save his people that day. He had been heroic and fought to get them free, putting his own life at risk of Smaug's wrath.

The dwarves had reluctantly come to Rivendell for help and rest after an attack by orcs, foul goblin-like creatures that had started to come out in daylight. As she watched him, her own admiration for him started to grow. Thorin of Erebor was here, and she felt an overwhelming sense of connection to him. It was as if she already knew him and wondered what role she would play in his life. What was this strange pull that brought her here? Her nerves seemed to tingle as she thought about revealing herself. The dwarves began to discuss stories and plans for the dangerous journey that lay before them. She smiled at some of their tales and then became tense, realizing what awaited them. As the fire died down and Nightrunner's pull began to tear at her dress she slowly disappeared back into the night, forever changed by the arrival of dwarves in Rivendell.

She lay in bed that night tossing and turning as she faded in and out of her dreams. She stood in a small clearing of an ancient forest and could smell rain coming in the crisp, cool air. She was frightened, not knowing where she was, and covered herself with her arms to keep warm until she saw him. She heard his voice echoing in the air around her, and her heart stopped when she saw the loneliness that filled his eyes. She ached to comfort him and to pull the pain and loneliness from his body. He seemed so broken. She breathed in deeply, not knowing what to say, but slowly walked to him. He seemed to disappear the closer she got and would reappear somewhere else in the forest, just out of reach. He finally whispered from behind her and she froze as he wrapped his arms around her holding her close. The closeness made her body tremble as she closed her eyes trying to remember how to breathe. She felt his warmth and began to ache for it. She slowly turned to him, getting lost in his eyes, and she held his hand to her cheek refusing to let go.

"Don't leave me," she whispered.

He felt warm and smelled of the sweetest earthy scent and his eyes seemed to understand, beautiful blue eyes that made her weak. He pulled her to him then, whispering her name, and she awoke with a startled jump that left her gasping for air. What was happening to her?

In another room, on the opposite side of Rivendell's river, Thorin awoke the same way. His mind raced wildly with thoughts of her. What madness and magic had the elves poured upon him? Who was this girl that lingered on his lips and did not want him to leave? He could still smell her in the air around him and he craved more. Was she real? Had he gone crazy? It was a mistake to come to Rivendell; he cursed the old wizard for leading them here.

The next day revealed itself with tables of plain food and full but unsatisfied bellies. The whole atmosphere around them was full of cheer and warmth but somehow left Thorin on edge with the delight it carried. Gandalf presented the swords that they had found in the trolls' cave and Elrond explained where each was forged.

"This is Orcrist, the goblin-cleaver," he announced, taking Thorin's sword. "It was made in Gondolin by the high elves long ago and has performed heroically in battle. There has never been a finer blade."

Thorin was not pleased with the history of his newly-claimed Orcrist - made by elves! - but felt proud and strong to have it in his grasp. Elrond promised to read the moon letters on his map that night under the light of the crescent moon. It crossed Thorin's mind to bring up the one that had claimed his dreams, but decided to let it go, knowing that it could jeopardize the map reading if such a thing offended Elrond.
The dwarves walked endlessly around Rivendell that day, anxiously waiting for the moon to appear. Kili and Fili found interest in the elves' archery skills and Balin found a love for their ancient books. The others seemed to crave their sweet wines and rums and would gather crowds, entertaining them with their adventure stories.

The day seemed long and wasted to Thorin, but he was thankful for rest and the protection of their borders. He was bruised, stiff, and sore and could barely go on. Thorin searched the she-elves faces as they would walk by laughing and chattering to each other. He even walked up to one sitting on a bench alone just to see her face. She softly smiled at him and then continued playing her harp. She was surely a dream, he thought. The most majestic of them could not hold a light to her beauty and then he glanced up. A hawk was flying from the top of one of the highest cliffs that surrounded Rivendell, making a loud squawk. It swooped down and onto the arm of an Elf standing on her balcony. She smiled the biggest smile and fed him something from her hand, whispering Elvish words he could barely hear, and then she looked down and gasped. He was sure his mouth had been hanging open too but could not seem to take his eyes off of her, as he was left frozen in her gaze. Time seemed to stand still until he heard Kili calling his name. He quickly found the strength to look away and saw Kili and Fili coming to his side, wondering why he had not answered them. When he regained the courage to look back up she smiled shyly and then disappeared into her room.

"Who was she?" Kili whispered in awe, wide-eyed and obviously struck by her as well.

Thorin did not answer as his heart began to pound and he knew she was real, very much as real as his own soul, and he yearned to see her again.

That night they made their way to an ancient rock table engraved with the oldest of elvish languages. As the clouds parted, Elrond laid Thorin's map on the table and the light from the crescent moon made the letters glow from within. Thorin was amazed and anxious to hear it. His heart pounded as he felt his ancestors hope lingering in the air. There was no way into the mountain for any but Smaug, until Gandalf presented the map to Thorin at Bag End weeks ago. The map and key was left by his father and grandfather and it held all the answers to help them reclaim what was rightfully theirs. The signs were being revealed and it was time to return.

Elrond discovered that the map told of a secret entrance in the side of the Lonely Mountain and a keyhole that would appear when the thrush knocks with the setting sun of Durin's Day. Durin's Day was the start of the dwarvish new year. This filled Thorin with more hope and confidence, but Elrond seemed to warn him against such an adventure and deemed it unwise as long as there was a dragon at the end. This made Thorin's dislike for the elves grow more, trying to get in the way of their plans. As the party began to leave and head back to their own affairs, Thorin stayed, wanting some time to be alone. He needed to put out the fire of anger Elrond had built up in him before he said or did something that he regretted. He always found it easiest to get away and breathe before he released his anger on someone. He held onto so much anger. He never forgave, and he never forgot, leaving him bitter and uncomfortable to be around. He preferred to be alone but tried to have time for his nephews and closest kinsman. Why they loved and followed him, he did not know.

He peered over the side of the cliff and saw a small waterfall that fell into a small pool below it, almost hidden by the trees. It seemed to call his name; he knew that he was in need of a bath and relief from the worries he carried on his shoulders.

Thorin made his way down to the moonlit-filled pool. The air was cool on his face and the sound of the falling water seemed to relax his aching muscles. He removed his belt, vest, and boots and began undoing the ties of his shirt when he was taken aback.

He had never felt his heart stop the way it did that night. The moonlight that bathed down on them in blues and silvers, the look of her as she appeared out of the pool, the way she stared, not scared or shocked, but smiled a soft shy smile that stole his breath as she slowly covered herself. It was her! She could have destroyed him that day and he would have let her. In that instant, he had found a place for her in his heart. He had an overwhelming feeling of want, to hold her, to keep her safe, to let her be his, and he didn't even know her name, or did he?

She slowly turned and pulled on an ethereal robe that was lying on a rock beside her. He turned around quickly not knowing what to do, mind racing as wild as his heart and then she was there, sitting close on a rock beside him, a perfect being, thirsty for his attention. She was like a child with a thousand questions yet she seemed to know all about him and his purpose. He could barely look her in the eyes, yet could hardly look away. He answered with nods and soft smiles yet was still embarrassed and pleased at the same time that he had seen her that way.

She told him of her life here at Rivendell. How her adoptive father and brother found her alone in the woods not knowing where or who her people were. She wore a crescent moon necklace around her neck that seemed to glow in the moonlight. She looked as perfect and majestic as the most beautiful of all elves, but as small in stature as the smallest dwarf. She had the most beautiful smile that made little dimples in her cheeks and her eyes would dance as she laughed and then she would softly look at him and sigh.

How could she hold his gaze so? What power did she possess over him that made him want her? What was she thinking when she would stop a moment and look up at the moon and then find his eyes again?

As the night drew on he came to know her. He closed his eyes as she spoke her name and he realized he already knew. Kale, a simple yet beautiful and faithful name her father had given her. Fate loomed over them as he listened to her whisper in the night. He realized she loved being outdoors, a quality not much preferred by dwarves, and that she dreamed of flying, a quality most definitely not preferred. But somehow with all their differences he seemed to feel he would be lost without her and did not want the moment to end. Couldn't they stay at this little waterfall forever? Couldn't each others' company keep them alive with no need for food? He quickly thought that the fish of this little pool could be enough and smiled.

"What is it?" She smiled softly at him holding his gaze and then she looked down at his hand and frowned.

"Oh, nothing," he quickly added and then every nerve of his body stood on end as he felt her touch. He looked down at where she had softly laid her hand on his. A long, deep cut ran down the length of his thumb to the inside of his wrist and in a moment it was gone. The warmth of her touch was like a soft fire that burned within him and left him longing for more. He knew of the healing powers of the elves and did not question why or what she did, he just softly closed his hand around hers and held her there the same way she held his heart captive.

She looked up at him from under her lashes and held his gaze but left her hand in his and smiled softly. Her body tingled as she felt her hand in his and she took in a long breath to steady herself. Looking into his eyes she realized he was the one, the one that was meant for her, and was hers. Something had always told her he was coming and she had always waited, even brushing off one of her dearest friends, and now she was not going to let him go. The pull that had been calling her to him was now understood. Yet, he was only passing through Rivendell. Would he stay, stay with her? Would she be enough? Perhaps she could go with him? Her father and brother would never let her go, of course. It would be too dangerous and she would just be a distraction. But whatever was to be their fate, all that mattered was she wanted him and he was here now, with her in this moment. She knew they had that and she would cherish it forever as she would him.

She loved the shy look in his tender eyes, and she found herself keeping up the conversation to look into his eyes. She found it hard to think sometimes from the warmth of his hand in hers that did not let her go. She knew he had been through and lost so much. Could she help him fill that gap in his life, would he let her? She rambled on about small things like the weather and their life here in Rivendell but he just sat there looking perfect to her and interested in everything she said. She would stop and he would smile and urge her to continue. Did he really find her interesting or was he just being polite? Was he lonely for the company of someone else not in his party? Her mind wondered with questions she did not speak.

She knew the night was growing closer to dawn and she was holding him from bathing. She was surprised her brother or father had not sought her out yet so she decided to quietly let him be.

She stood and shyly whispered, "Good night," and realized he still had her hand. And then he did something that captured her completely.

He kissed her hand, softly and whispered, "Good night," in return and then unwillingly let her go.

She knew then that Thorin was truly "Thorin the Bold" and smiled shyly. She thought she would faint and had to concentrate on how to breathe. She focused on the cool air that floated around them to clear her head as she slowly turned to leave. When she reached the edge of the tree line she turned quickly to see him one last time, and there he was, eyes still following her. She blushed and smiled again, as did he, and then disappeared into the woods. She ran, happily smiling, and was soon joined by Nightrunner. All around her she felt life, the night creatures seemed to dance, the stars smile, the breeze sing, and her heart was catching fire.