A/N Hey guys! I am so sorry for the massive delay in updating The Prices we pay and A Curse in our Veins. The truth is I've lost inspiration with A curse in our veins so I'll be adding a second epilogue to tie all loose ends in Only time will tell and put A Curse on hiatus. The same goes with The Prices we pay. I will update them, albeit very rarely. Once the Desolation comes out I will probably have more inspiration to update them.

On another note I hope this story will be updated much quicker because I have several ideas for it. I was kind of musing what would happen if things went differently during the Fell Winter ( btw the timeline will be messed up a bit ). Hope you enjoy it!

P.S. This will be a Thorin/Bilbo story. It will not be graphic, but there will be graphic depictions of violence, war, wounds etc. A more detailed description with all the necessary warnings will appear in the first chapter.

Prologue: Red prints on pristine snow

The wolf, barely more than a cub, staggered on the path. The arrow sticking out of its side drew blood with each step she made, painting the white snow, red. Each step was a struggle for survival that made breathing harder and harder. Her body shook with feverish tremors. She needed help, but the forest was eerie silent. Not even a bird chirped in the trees.

'Is this to be my end then?' the wolf mused softly to herself as the pain became too much and she fell into a heap on the cold forest ground.

A veil fell over her eyes; through the mist she barely made the form of a stranger making his way towards her. He was small, a human cub or something similar. She growled at him and barred her teeth with her last powers, but he merely cooed at the wolf, undaunted by her threat.

"Shh, there, it'll be ok," he petted her fur with a small hand, unafraid of the sharp teeth, "mama's on the path here. She's gonna make you better."

Those were the last words that followed her into that darkness that soon claimed her. For days without end the wolf knew no more and hovered on the threshold of death. She was hot and cold at the same time, aching and numb, feeling yet unfeeling. She wanted it all to be over, yet she fought to survive. All the time she heard the soft voice of the human cub willing her to live and another voice, even softer, asking her to fight.

When she finally woke up, the world was too bright around her. She could barely discern anything around her, but she fell something soft caressing her fur. Moments later, when the world started shifting into focus, she saw a small shape, with strange fur and bright blue yes, watching her kindly. She recognized the human cub from before, yet he was so much smaller than she had first thought. Next to him another shape that smelled of milk and home – the mother of the cub – cooed at the wolf as she applied something smelly to the wound.

"You're alright now, darling," the mother said, yet the sounds made no sense to the wolf. "You'll be up and running in no time."

Weeks later the wolf had mended enough to leave the cozy confines of the human shelter. She ran, without looking back, but knowing that some day she would return to her saviors. One day, when she would be strong and dangerous, she would come back to protect those that saved her.

Years later, she appeared on his doorstep... the wolf, now grown, was almost as tall as the human cub. She came with blood on her teeth and the Fell Winter in tow.