In the realm of Middle-Earth, to the north and then to the east, lay the Iron Hills. The dwarven kingdom of Dain II Ironfoot, it was rich in minerals but particularly iron, from which it derived its name. It was the year 2941 of the Third Age, and Dain had recently come to the aid of his second cousin Thorin II Oakenshield in the Battle of the Five Armies, as Thorin reclaimed the great dwarven Kingdom of Erebor from which his people had been exiled for many years.

In a show of gratitude and to continue the great and noble house of Durin that had finally been restored to the throne of Erebor, Thorin and Dain arranged for a royal marriage. Dain's only daughter Ila was to wed Thorin and become queen of Erebor, further securing royal lines and producing a direct heir to the throne, as Thorin currently had only his two nephews to succeed him.

There, in the Iron Hills, the dwarven princess Ila sat at her vanity and looked at her reflection. She slowly and gently touched her face, studying herself intently. Was she beautiful? She had always been told so, but she was royalty, and it was expected that people tell her so. She had long brown, wavy hair that fell nearly to her hips down her back, with two thin braids hanging around her face. Her eyes were hazel, but more green than brown. Her lips were full and she took care not to sport a beard like most females dwarves. She did not think it suited her. She didn't exactly look like other female dwarves either. She was short yes, but she was not so stocky and her face had humanish features. She knew the rumor that she had a human ancestor some ways back, and the features that blood passed down didn't present themselves in most of her kin, but they had surfaced in her. It had been on her mother's side, the integrity of her father's line was indisputable. And it was not so hard to believe really; female dwarves were few and far between, and some ways back on her mother's side an ancestor had fallen in love with a human female. Such relations were passionately discouraged however. First, the dwarves were a very proud race and interspecies breeding was heavily frowned upon. Secondly, the life span of dwarves was so much greater than humans that such a union could never end well. How her ancestors had faired she did not know, but she feared no matter how tragic it had been it would be a happier fate still than the one she currently faced.

As for whether or not she was truly beautiful, she had never thought much of it, but she had also never thought much on marrying. She knew that one day she would have to, but it had always been far from her mind. She had spent her time in books, when she wasn't watching her brothers training and practicing with each other. She had always wanted so much to join them, to learn to swing a sword or launch an arrow. Her father would have none of that though. She, as a dwarf princess, had one purpose, to strengthen alliances and ultimately produce royal dwarven heirs. Again, Ila had pushed this from her mind, telling herself it would be years before she would have to fulfill those duties. And it likely would have been even longer, but with Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, reclaiming the lost kingdom of Erebor and being crowned King Under the Mountain, her father had sought to form the greatest of alliances with his second cousin. Marrying Thorin was a greater match than she could have ever hoped for, she knew that. Still, that did not make her any less anxious about the matter.

Now, as she studied herself in the mirror, she wondered if she would please him. What if he did not find her beautiful? What if she disappointed him? What if he already had mistresses and she would be only a figurehead, a necessary but undesired addition to his life? She would be needed for ceremonies and of course to bring forth an heir for the line of Durin, but she had heard King Thorin had two nephews that were presently in line for the throne. His sister's sons, the eldest of which he had groomed to follow him for years now. No, she was not needed to provide the great line of Durin with an heir, not really she thought. This troubled her greatly, and she wondered if after their wedding that she would even see her husband at all.

So many answerable questions left Ila practically having a panic attack. She rose from her vanity to walk about her room, trying to relieve some of her tension. But everywhere she looked were signs of her impending fate. The many bags waiting to be packed, the new dresses her mother had had fashioned for her, the few familial items she was to take with her. Ila felt tears threatening her eyes and she turned to walk out to onto her small balcony.

Her new home would be underground. This only made her feel worse. How was she supposed to adjust to such a thing? And King Thorin. She had heard little of him, but what she had was not comforting. Nearly twice her age and tall for a dwarf, he was said to be imposing and gloomy. She wondered that they would have any real relationship at all, outside of polite courtesy and tolerance.

While Ila had tried to keep her mind from men and marriage, she had secretly hoped, as all females do, to fall in love one day. To have the man she married be a man she wanted, and fancied, and that was good and kind to her. Now, she feared that those things were all too much to hope for. Now, she only wished that time would stand still and that she could remain here forever, with things as they had always been. But it was not to be. In three days' time she would be on her way to Erebor, never knowing if she would return.

She could only hope, she thought, that King Thorin would be cordial, and if he did not like her, leave her to herself. She was allowed to bring her handmaiden, Dwala, so at least she would not be completely alone or without anyone she knew. That was the only thing about the entire matter she could find any comfort in.

Staring out over the rolling hills and countryside she called home, she tried to sear the image into her mind, fearful that she would never lay eyes on it again.

AN: If you have read my one-shot I did with Thorin and his nephews, you will find this to be a very different story, though there will be mature scenes to come as the story progresses. Kili will become a more prominent character as the story goes on as well. I've wanted to do this story for a while, but am unsure of how it would be received. Please review and let me know if I should continue this one.