Arkenstone Heart

Close Encounter

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That ball of fear I knew all too well suddenly came back in my stomach. I had no idea what kind of man - well dwarf, stood before me and what kind of morals he possessed. The smirk disappeared as fast as it came and I began to wonder if I had just imagined it... Before I knew what was happening though, I felt his hot breath on my face. I was so preoccupied with the room, the situation, that smirk, that I hadn't noticed him approach me with such stealth . This sudden movement just added to my prey-like feeling. The intensity of his stare was overpowering and I felt (in my mind anyway) that I was already admitting defeat. I lowered my eyes so he wouldn't detect the fear in them and stared into his armor studying the delicate intricacies in the metal. The rise and fall of his chest corresponded to mine and with each breath I could feel the softness of his enormous fur collar against my shoulders. Having said that, I still had the seed of anger within me and I couldn't believe that this possessive, heartless man was so closely related to wonderful, caring, honest men like Fili and Kili. The thought of them saddened me deeply. How could I hold my head up and look them in the eye knowing that I could be bought and sold as a nighttime muse for their king?

Just then he lifted his arm and I felt the rough, calloused skin of his hand caress my jaw. It was warm and gentle yet the cold hard metal of his rings contradicted this as he lifted my face so it was mere inches away from his. I was frozen - and I hated myself for it. I hated that little voice in the back of my head that reminded me that I had duties as a future wife.

We stood like this for what seemed like forever. His gaze continued as he closely studied my face. I began to imagine what would happen if he got any closer- if that was even possible. What his lips surrounded by the scruffy beard would feel like... Before I could finish that thought I was dragged back to reality as he actually moved his face to mine. I didn't close my eyes. The rational part of me reminded myself that I didn't want this- at least I figured it was the rational part. I was bracing myself for what was to come, as I couldn't move away with his hand there holding me in place. My eyelids were recovering from a rush of his breath when he turned his mouth and slowly pulled something out of his sleeve with his teeth. It was a key.

The bastard. I sighed inwardly.

"I hope you find these accommodations suitable to your needs." he said as he lowered his hand.

I nodded quickly - thankful for the return of my jaw freedom and tried to gather myself together. He could tell I was uneasy about the whole situation and after a few moments he pulled away and walked over to the smaller wooden door. I began to breathe normally again - realizing that I had been holding my breath for some time.

"These will be your chambers, for now" he added. I tried to hide the relief from my face.

"Goodnight." I managed to say and shut the door behind me.

As I leaned with my back to the cold wood I could have sworn I heard him chuckling to himself. He laughed as if it was all a game to him, and he had every right to see it as such; he knew that I was vulnerable in every way possible. Without looking I reached my hand down to the handle to try to feel for a lock but didn't succeed in finding one. I was too tired and distraught to care anymore. I pushed myself away from the door and looked around.

The room itself was the size of a large closet; there was a single bed and a small vanity mirror across from the door. Other than that it was pretty empty. I unpacked only a few of my belongings; a nightgown and my favourite plain mauve dress for tomorrow. I cringed as I examined its structure. Apparently my step-father's tailors had made a few changes to my wardrobe to secure a good impression on the king of Erebor. The original neckline had been cut so low and wide that now it would barely cover my shoulders. It was outlined with gold trim and the sleeves were as present as my present love for my step-father: not at all. I creased my brow in thought. Hurriedly, I pulled out every article of clothing I had brought with me. Each one had been adjusted or remade. This could only mean that he had been planning it for sometime.

I put the idea aside, maybe I could get some info from Thorin somehow of the exact timeline of this whole mess. Until then, I had to come up with some alternate clothes. I smiled as I considered the idea of asking Fili or Kili for a pair of slacks that I could wear. I could just see Thorin's stern, arrogant face after laying eyes on me in those. Imagine, the future queen of Erebor dressed as a man! Though he would probably use it as an excuse to control me once more.

In fact, maybe I wouldn't give him the chance and spend the day tomorrow with the brothers in the mine. I would rather spend a whole day in the dark, depressing mountain than an hour with him. Plus, I thought, I could hopefully find a path to the outside and catch a glimpse of daylight. Sure, I had been outside only this afternoon, but the suffocating nature of the rock was wearing on me and I feared claustrophobia would set in before long.

I strolled over to the mirror and began taking my hair out, removing small pins that resulted in a cascade of blonde braids tumbling down.

Soon I was occupying my hands with the task of undoing the multitudes of braids, french braids and the occasional fishtail. In doing so I contemplated ways to avoid the upcoming event that would undoubtedly bind me to the man in the next room.

As I was removing a stray pin from my hair I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Something was moving in the reflection and I whipped around to see the intruder, but there was nothing there. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I looked again, more closely this time. I was wrong. The reflection that I saw in my mirror wasn't coming from inside my room. I turned and quietly investigated the area that was in the reflection. It was a crack in the stone of the door frame. And through it I saw, much to my dismay and shock, the half naked figure of my future husband.

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