She felt as if she were saying goodbye to her brother and her sons for the last time as she watched them mount their ponies, eager to begin the quest that her brother had dreamed of for almost 200 years. Despite her stern fortitude, she couldn't help the feeling of dread that sank into the abyss of her stomach as she watched them ride away.

She was a princess of the line of Durin, and she would not cry.

She had already lost so much. When the dragon had taken Erebor, she hadn't even been a glimmer in her mother's eye. All she had known as a child was hunger and sadness. They went from place to place, finding work in human villages as they could. Her brother had always tried to shield her from the worry, but as she grew, she began to notice more and more the defeated shoulders and despairing wails of her people.

She was born a princess, but what good was a princess of a lost kingdom?

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

Then, her grandfather began to grow strange. He would mutter to himself, fingering the bright blue ring on his finger. The ring- one of the only things that remained of their lost home. He began to wander, a queer glimmer in his eye, but always he would come back. Mr. Balin had seen to that.

But, one day, he didn't come back. The servant that had gone with him had delivered grievous news- the king had been beheaded by Azog the Defiler and his desecrated body thrown out of the Eastern Gate of Khazad dum like a sack of potatoes. In his mouth was a worthless sack of coins, and on his forehead were runes, the name Azog dripping with blood marring the once proud and mighty flesh. The king-her grandfather- was dead.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

She watched helplessly as her father and her two brothers gathered their people from all the corners of Middle-earth. For the first time in thousands of years, the 7 clans of dwarves united under one banner. Their iron shod feet stamped down on the earth, the echoing sound as the footsteps of doom for the one who dared to defile the descendant of the father of their race. And thus the 7 year War of Dwarves and Orcs began.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

From Gundabad to the mountains overshadowing Isengard, they fought the orcs. The black, copious blood of their enemy ran like rivers over stone and through vale, intermingling with the red blood of the dwarves. Many were slain, but the dwarves' vengeance was fierce, and their eyes sparked fire as the bloodlust flowed through their veins.

The foul orc led his armies with frightening precision, each battle becoming more fierce than the battle before, until finally Azog the Defiler himself emerged from the gates of their ancient halls. A mighty battle, greater than any battle before it was fought. Dwarves fell, her second brother included, and the orcs advanced. In a moment of sheer terror, the lines began to falter. There was nowhere to go- the elves of Lorien would not shelter them, and the halls of their fathers would not protect them.

It was in that moment that her brother earned his epithet, Oakenshield. For, in a desperate moment, his armor rent and his sword lost, he grabbed an oaken branch, and wielded it as a shield with the skill far surpassing his age. The young dwarf prince rallied his people, and, leading them forth with a mighty battle cry, the dwarves began to gain the upper hand.

Out of the darkness a mysterious warrior had come, and before the very gates of Khazad dum Azog the Defiler was beheaded. Her father, in his sudden madness, tried to enter the ancient realm. But Dain Ironfoot, for it was indeed her cousin that had slain the mighty orc, had seen HIM in the shadows. Durin's bane- the balrog who brought the greatest dwarven kingdom ever known to Middle-earth to ruin. And he was still there, waiting for the day when Durin's blood would again walk the halls of Moria.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

Years passed, and her father began to grow restless, as her grandfather before him. He began to speak of Erebor, desiring the repossession of their people's vast wealth and the restoration of their home. Finally, gathering those closest to him, he began the long trek, only to disappear in the forest of Mirkwood, never to be heard from again.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

That was 100 years ago, and now she watched as her brother and her sons left in an attempt to reclaim their home and restore the glory of her people. Her heart warned her that they would fail, that she would never see them again. But who was she to deny them that chance? Her brother had inherited this burden, as his father before him. And her eldest son, her light, would inherit it upon her brother's death. His son would as well, and the inheritance of this burden would continue until the lamps shone in Erebor once more, or the line of Durin the Deathless finally ended and her people faded into a whispered memory.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

Months passed, each day full of emptiness in a home that had become used to the playful tones of her children and the deep rumbling voice of her brother. Many times she looked toward the east, waiting. Wondering. Never sure of anything, and yet so sure of everything. For in her heart she knew, somehow, that her brother and her sons- the lights of her world- were alive.

The day dawned cold. Snow drifted down from the sky, landing gently upon the slopes of the mountain. She looked out her window, and knew.

Her sons- her Fili, the light of her world and sunshine of her day, and her Kili, the heart of her existence, were dead.

She could feel her brother's light dying, but not there yet. It was not until the late evening, when her heart finally shattered as her brother drew his last breath.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

She did not need the raven to tell her of their fate. She had known the moment they rejoined her grandfather, father, brother, and husband in the Halls of Mandos.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

With a stern and proud face, she led her people across Middle-earth, until her eyes beheld the snow capped mountain heard only in song.

She walked through the great gates of Erebor with her head held high. Her braids adorned her hair and beard, and her stance bespoke of someone who would not allow despair to overcome her.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

Her people rejoiced as they finally arrived home.

Home. Her home had been Ered Luin. Her home had been her grandfather telling her stories as an enraptured child tugged on his beard. Her home had been her mother braiding her hair every morning. Her home had been her father cracking jokes by the fireside. Her home had been the deep voice of her brother, his baritone song reverberating through the living room. Her home had been falling asleep in the arms of her husband, knowing he would protect her and cherish her always. Her home had been her sons as they looked to her with mischievous smirks, saying that if Uncle Thorin didn't eat greens they wouldn't either.

Erebor wasn't home. It was cold stone filled with golden coins and cursed gems.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. She would not cry.

After her people were settled, and Erebor restored, she made her way down to the crypts of Kings. She stood silent and firm like a pillar of stone in front of the tomb that held the bodies of her brother and her sons for an entire day, buried beside him with the greatest honor a dwarf could ever earn-falling in battle shielding their king with their bodies. She knew-she had always known- that would be their fate. For such is the fate of princes of a lost people.

An unfamiliar tear tracked down the aged and weathered cheek.

Those that found her later said that she was standing in that exact place. Her back was straight, her visage proud and stern. Her arms rested at her sides, and her unseeing blue eyes stared straight ahead at the tomb of King Thorin Oakenshield and his sister-sons. Tear tracks lined the proud face.

She was a princess of the line of Durin. And she cried.