This is a little something I've been writing on the side of my other hobbit fic, which I've decided to throw up here too. Set a few years after the Battle of the five armies, which Thorin and his nephews survived. Hope you like it, please read and review, I'd love to know what you guys think of it - the next chapter will have some more familiar faces, though there is one hidden a little sneakily in here if you can find him?
In search of a Queen
I watch with a sour expression as my pony grows closer and closer to the looming mountain that is our destination. Several weeks of travel have bought my family from deep within the dwarven fortress of Norinbad, in the Grey Mountains, to the foot of Erebor – and I have hated every moment of it.
It is not the travel itself I disliked – in fact I quite enjoyed being able to get out and see the rest of the world – no, it was the purpose of out journey that I am against.
The reason for our long and -in my opinion- pointless journey was riding a little ahead of myself, with mother and father. My sister, Trúin, who fancies herself a bit of a princess already, is eager to try and elevate herself to the rank of Queen and she was willing to uproot the entire family in order to do it.
Trúin, the first born child of Dalkin and Yutte, who can do no wrong in our parents eyes. She is the perfect lady, with sparkling blue eyes and rosy cheeks framed by long golden hair – an uncommon thing amongst dwarves, which only adds to her flawlessness, much to my annoyance. She is of course, mother's unofficial favourite.
There is muffled chuckling to my left, and I realise I have been glaring at my sisters back for some time. With a grunt I cast one last look at my oblivious sister before turning to look at my brother, who is grinning from ear to ear.
"You know your face will stick like that, if the wind changes." Brúin says, still smiling.
"Well at least then I won't have to look like you any more." I grumble back.
Brúin is the second born child and first born son, which makes him the heir and father's unofficial favourite. He is also my twin, much to our parent's delight. Twins are another uncommon sight among dwarves, and very rarely do both survive, so we are another feather in our mothers cap.
Where Trúin is light haired and fair skinned, Brúin and I are dark. We share the same thick brown hair and deep grey eyes, flecked with silver. There are differences, of course – Brúin, for example, has a rather impressive beard, while my face remains bare of all but sideburns, and his face a more weather beaten than mine since he has travelled more than I.
"You wound me, little sister." Brúin says, pressing a hand to his chest with a pained expression. I smirked and rolled my eyes.
"I certainly will if you're not careful," I replied pleasantly. "Now leave me to sulk in peace, if you will."
"Must you still be angry Rúin? It is beginning to get boring." Brúin huffs, rubbing a hand across his chin, mussing his beard.
"Yes, I must still be angry!" I snapped, hands tightening on the reins. "So should you for that matter! We are neither of us younglings any more, why did we even have to come?"
"Aren't you even a little curious to see what Erebor looks like?" Brúin questioned, a rare frown crossing his face. "After all the stories father told us?"
"It is a mountain, Brúin, and we have certainly seen plenty of them," I countered, feeling unreasonably annoyed with him for not sharing my feelings on the move. "We are only moving because it was what Trúin wants, and she always gets her way."
"You cannot blame her," Brúin shrugs, letting his eyes wander first to our sister in front, then to the lonely mountain itself. "We were minor nobility in Norinbad but here we've the chance to become royalty. Does that not appeal to you, even in the slightest?"
"It appeals to me about as much as an arrow in the knee," I say, jabbing myself in the leg with a finger to get my point across. "Besides, I'll bet there are more noble ladies under that mountain than you can count – what are the chances that Trúin will be the one?"
"Slim, but the same goes for all those other ladies," Brúin shrugged again. "And none of them have our mother! She is a force to be reckoned with and she wants this almost as much as Trúin does."
"I wonder if King Thorin realises he is about to let another dragon into his mountain?" I ponder, smirking at mothers back as Brúin lets out a loud belly laugh from beside me that leaves my ears ringing.
"Whatever you two are scheming back there, stop it." Father's gruff voice calls from up front. We both looked up to see that he had paused his pony and was watching us with his thick dark brows pulled down into a frown.
"Scheming!" Brúin repeats, as if the very word offends him.
"Father, we would never!" I add, my eyes widening innocently.
"Well see that you don't, your mother is pulled tighter than a bow string as it is," Dalkin grumbles as the two of us draw level with him. "The last thing I need is the two of you setting her off!"
"Then perhaps you should have thought about that before you dragged us all the way down here." I muttered quietly. Not quiet enough, it would seem, because father fixes me with a hard look.
"And perhaps you should remember what your mother said about that attitude of yours lass," Dalkin warned, making me pout despite myself. "Sometimes we must do things that we don't want to, for the sake of others."
"For the sake of Trúin, you mean?" I ask. It is not a wise comment on my part, especially since he has just warned me on my attitude, and I know I am being petty but I am still angry about it.
"For the sake of our family," Father replies flatly. "You are the youngest of my children, you are unmarried and despite being one hundred and seventy you and your brother still act as if you were babes – so you will go where I go and do as I do, until such time as I see fit you say otherwise. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes father." I say through gritted teeth, keeping my eyes locked with his. Brúin and I get our colouring from our father, who looks more like a bear than a dwarf, so covered in dark hair is he.
"To do as you do, we would have to start drinking more." Brúin cuts in, breaking my fathers gaze from me and turning it onto himself as he attempts to lighten the mood.
"And eating more." I put in, grateful for the change of subject.
"You are lucky that the two of you have grown too big to put over my knee," Dalkin grumbled, eyes flicking between the two of us and looking unimpressed. "Because you're both in need of a good thrashing."
"I don't think you could beat the both of us, father." Brúin says, giving a cheeky grin that I mirror a moment later. Father splutters and his face turns a comical shade of pink at the thought.
"You think you could beat me, lad?" He asks, his eyebrows raising and his beard twitching. "I taught you little dirt lickers everything you know about fighting!"
"Yes, but there are two of us." I say, still smiling.
"And you're not as young as you used to be!" Brúin points out. Our father looks as if he is about to throw himself off his pony and tackle my brother to the ground – which would have been quite entertaining, if mother had not intervened.
"Dalkin!" Her voice slices through my fathers anger, firm and furious. Both Mother and Trúin have stopped their ponies and are watching us with equally disapproving looks. My fathers head whips round and I can see Brúin trying to hold back his chuckle as the anger drains from Dalkin's face and is replaced by an expression of chargrin.
"Yes dear?" He questions. It is a constant source of entertainment for Brúin and I, that our father can go from angry dwarven war machine to kicked puppy in a matter of seconds. I have seen my father take down a warg with his bare hands before, but apparently that is nothing compared to my mothers anger.
"I thought I told you – all of you- how important our first impression is!" Mother says in a dangerous voice. "We are going to present ourselves to the King, not enter a tavern brawl!"
"Yes dear, it won't happen again," Father assures her, then turns to us with a growl. "Will it, you two?"
"Of course not father." I say, giving him my most winning smile, the one that has always gotten me out of trouble. Father regards me for a moment as if he is suspicious of my willingness to comply, before turning his steely gaze to my twin.
"As my little sister says," Brúin says with a copy of my smile, though it has never worked for him as well as it does for me. Still, father is apparently satisfied. He grunts and nudges his pony back to where mother and Trúin are waiting. Brúin is silent until he is out of ear shot before leaning towards me slightly and whispering "We would not want to incur mothers wrath, after all."
I snort, and the two of us fall in behind the rest of our family as we approach the grand doors, flanked by huge carved stone statues. Now they are impressive, certainly more so than anything I have ever seen in Norinbad. I will not admit it out loud, but perhaps Erebor's architecture will make my trip worth while.
We dismount once we reach the gate, my father assisting mother and Brúin helping Trúin. I hop down on my own, dusting off my travel dirtied breeches and patting my pony as I wait for the others.
Father takes my reins and disappears with Brúin and the others ponies, heading off towards a ramp which looks as if it leads down under the walkway we have just ridden up and into the roots of the mountain. I assume this is where the stables are.
"Now, we have some time to freshen up before our audience with his majesty," My mother says as she fusses with my sisters hair. I tug at my own, looking over the numerous strands escaping from my braids – I suppose I could look a little more respectable. "Rúin, oh come here my girl, just look at you."
Yutte grabs me by the elbow and begins preening me, which I suspect is a wasted effort on her part, but I stand and take it because to argue with mother is a fruitless experience. She gives up when she sees my father and brother returning with a few of our bags, the rest of which have been whisked off to Mahal knows where.
"Oh good! Brúin, dear, do be careful! Those dresses have not survived all this way for you to throw them on the floor now!" Mother says, hurrying forwards to take the carefully wrapped bundles from his hands. "Here you go, Trúin, this one is yours." Then she turns to me, holding out a second bag.
"We do not have all day Rúin," Mother says, firmly pushing the package into my unwilling arms. "No daughter of mine is going to meet a King looking like that!"
"Mother I thought we had discussed -" I began, but she cut me off.
"I have already told you! You don't see your sister making a fuss, do you?" Mother asked, motioning to Trúin who smiles pleasantly at me in a way that makes me want to punch her. "Right, come along, Dalkin, you and Brúin have your change of clothes?"
"Yes dear, right here." Father says, lifting his own parcel with a look similar to my own. Well at least he doesn't have to wear a dress!
When I was younger I always wore dresses, because that was the only way Brúin and I could be told apart, without yanking our trousers down of course. As I grew older however and it became easier to differentiate between my brother and myself, I began wearing trousers – mainly because when father whisked Brúin off to teach him how to fight, I wanted to go too.
I follow reluctantly behind mother and Trúin as we finally enter Erebor and promptly stop dead, causing Brúin to curse as he walked straight into my back, sending the both of us sprawling. There is a few moments of awkward fumbling as we untangle ourselves and get back to our feet, trying to ignore the icy gaze of our mother.
"Why in Durin's name did you stop?" Brúin demands, but I ignore him in favour of filling my eyes with every glimpse of Erebor I can get. It is truly magnificent.
We had entered into a large open room with a ceiling so high it made me dizzy to look at! The walls
were carved right into the rock, and every surface was a rippled green, like malachite with veins of quarts running through them. Stairways led off in different directions, some going up, some descending into the mountain and each one beautifully carved with a golden handrail running along its side.
Fires were lit in strategic places, their light bouncing off plates of gold set into the walls and illuminating the Kingdom under the Mountain in a warm glow. The light caught the silvery lines in the walls too, making them shine.
"Durin's beard, look at this place!" I breathed, eyes wide in awe that I couldn't suppress even if I'd wanted to.
"Welcome to Erebor my girl," My father said, clapping a hand down on my shoulder and partially breaking me from my revere. "Welcome home."
My father knows full well that Norinbad is my home. I may have been born in Erebor, but I was raised in Norinbad – that is where I grew up, where most of my friends still reside and where my life was, until we came here.
I remember nothing of this place, and it is certainly somewhere I would remember had I been old enough.
"You will have time to admire the view later," Mother assures me, though she is getting impatient. She beckons me forwards as a steward greets us, and then we are off, following our dwarf guide as he directs us to one of the many rooms that Erebor holds.
I try to pay attention to where we are going, but lose interest after the first two turns, my eyes drawn back to the Kingdom under the mountain. It really is amazing.
"Rúin, pay attention to where you are going!" My mother scolds as I almost knock into a dwarf miner in a floppy hat. His moustache curls up as he smiles, and gives me a wink before stepping around me, I walk backwards a few steps to watch him go before Brúin grabs my arm and spins me back around to avoid any more collisions.
We are directed into a large room, partitioned by wooden panels decorated in silvery patterns. It's a bustle of activity and almost filled to bursting with ladies trying to pretty themselves up for their first meeting with the King.
Brúin and Dalkin are shooed off to a different section or another room entirely, I'm not sure because mother is dragging me forwards and thrusting me into a booth, Trúin follows a second behind with Yutte bringing up the rear.
"Right my lovely girls, lets get to work!" She says, clapping her hands.
If I had been allowed to slouch, I would have. Instead I sat with my back straight and allowed my mother to drag a brush through my hair, beating out any knots and tangles that got in her way. I would have done it myself, but the dress I am wearing is quite restrictive of my movements, anything above shoulder height is lost to me.
As dresses go it is not the worst one I have ever been forced into – we will not speak of that one – and as I am not fond of admitting that I am wrong I will not be telling mother that I actually quite like it.
The dress itself is simple, emerald green and made of some silky sort of material with white lace down the bodice. There are golden bands around the cuffs and hem, with gold embroidering. Simple compared to many of the others I see around me, but that suits me just fine.
"Mother, there are many other Ladies here." Trúin says, and I am surprised to find that she sounds nervous. Little miss perfect, having doubts?
"Yes dear, there are," My mother says from behind me, trying to tease out a particularly stubborn tangle. "But we anticipated that, it's not every day a King searches for a queen! Competition is expected."
"Why are they so many of them wearing blue?" I ask, glancing down at my own green dress, then to Trúin in her navy one, and then to the gaggle of women folk who are gathered outside of our cubicle, all wearing varying shades of blue.
"Did you pay attention to any of the lessons mother gave you?" Trúin asks in familiar superior tone – apparently her moment of nervousness has past.
"I would not of asked, if I had." I reply, not even bothering to look at her.
"Rúin, honestly!" Mother huffs, almost breaking the handle off the brush as she forces it through my hair. "We spent almost a week going over what colours represent!"
"Did we?" I question, wincing slightly. "It was obviously thrilling."
"You'll get a clout in a moment my girl," My mother warns. She is close enough to my head that I decide to watch my mouth, if possible. "Now think!"
I think, and then think some more. I have a feeling that the week my mother started teaching me about colours was also the week my father introduced me to my first bow. Which means I have absolutely no idea what they're meant to mean.
"Ugh, blue is the colour of royalty," Trúin tells me, earning a frown from my mother, who had obviously wanted me to get it on my own. It's almost as if I am a child again. "By wearing blue candidates are matched with the King, he is more likely to feel that we are more attuned to him, more at his level."
"Instead of minor nobles, which is what everyone here really is?" I question. My sister looks as if she is going to say something rude, but doesn't get the chance, because mother has finally fought her way through the birds nest that is my hair.
"Not everyone here is a minor noble dear, I have seen several very influential people already," Yutte tells me, pushing me back down into the chair as I try to rise. I can feel her tugging at my hair, plaiting a braid on either side of my head and joining them together at the back. "It seems as though everyone else has had the same idea as we, with blue."
"What does green mean then?" I ask, making a braid of my own, starting just under my left ear and going down till I run out of hair. Mother hands me a small silver clasp that I use to hold it in place before repeating the process on the other side.
"Green lets everyone else know that you're a second hand choice." Trúin tells me, with a smile.
"Trúin!" Mother snaps, putting a hand on my shoulder as if my sisters words have hurt me. They have not. I am neither the first girl child nor the first boy child, I have no expectations placed upon me as Trúin and Brúin do, and as such I am without much social standing. Very few dwarves have more than two children, one is uncommon and three is simply ridiculous – having more than one girl is also rare.
Had I been born a boy, I could have gone off to become a guard or soldier, something respectable for a second son without the responsibility of being heir. But alas, I was not. Not that it stopped me from trying though.
Mother wanted me to become a proper lady, like herself and Trúin, and father didn't care one way or another – until I showed interest in fighting. Dwarven women are fierce by nature, though not many are proficient at fighting with weapons like the men are. My father wanted to see how I faired with a sword in my hand, and so mother tried to teach me how to be a lady and father tried to teach me how to be a warrior. I learnt bits from each of them, though not as well as either of my siblings, as you can probably tell. Jack of all trades, master of none.
"Fine by me, I don't really want to be a choice at all." I say, shrugging off my mothers comforting hand and standing. I want to stretch, but I'm afraid something will rip if I try to reach up over my head.
"I think we are ready," Mother says after a few final touches to Trúin's hair. She takes a step backwards and looks at the two of us – my sister, with her shining golden hair, brilliant smile and sparkling eyes that match her stunning, intricate blue dress. Then to me with my neatly brushed brown hair, uneasy grin and cloudy grey eyes, standing awkwardly in my simple dress – under which I am still wearing my boots. "Perfect!"
There you have it! For those who are wondering, Rúin (and siblings) is pronounced more like Ruen than Ruin and Yutte is pronounced Yut, Dalkin is pretty much just how it's spelt! Thanks again for reading and please review :D