You are perched up on the armrest of his gilded chair. The monotonous reports of the scouts standing in front of the low table mix with the quiet conversations of others in the room. He is obviously only half-listening, his hand absent-mindedly stroking the black beard. Maps are covering the table. You are pretending to study one in your hands. If you put it down, there might be a question to answer, an opinion to express, or, Durin forbid, a decision to make. Everyone in the room seems to be going along with the pretense, whispering conversations and quiet laughter in the corners having little to do with current affairs. Your mind is idle and soon slips back to the events of this morning. You look at him from the corner of your eye and the thoughtful expression on his face strikes you as such a contrast with a mischievous glint in his eyes this morning. Sudden image of his silver and raven strands of hair mixed with hot and fragrant water in the large tub you both occupied this morning hits you to the back of your neck with a wave of heat. You screw your eyes a bit more to follow the two black braids. Your hand immediately tingles from the memories of them slipping through your fingers. You palms sweat as if they are once again caress the chest with coarse hair and wide shoulders in the hot water, rubbing the tension out of them, the heady sweet smell of herbs and flowers floating in the tub filling the air. Your lips twitch and you have to tense your jaw to avoid licking them. You take a deep breath. You tell yourself you are not a naive youngling, ogling your king. You lift your chin and almost go back to studying your map, when he suddenly turns his head to you and gives you one of his rare, small smiles almost hidden in the corners of his lips. Fire, which dragons have nothing to match with, explodes in your heart, behind your temples and below your stomach. It bursts in scorching swirls and with deafening roar spreads through your body.