*** sorry it took so long too update! prepare for more drama and a longer chapter! :P enjoy!****
Durin's day was fast approaching and it was a mere couple of days away. It was incredible. The whole mountain seemed to come to life and the people of the neighboring villages were just as excited. Every night for the past week they threw fireworks that were just dazzling to look at. I had no idea what sort of festivities I was in for and the Durins themselves were not about to give away any secrets.
Thorin had allowed me to take leave of him and venture into Dale - though I continued to convince myself that I didn't need his permission. He was by himself in the throne room, quietly staring at the Arkenstone when he sent the brothers out with me, muttering something about buying myself a new dress and how he was too busy to come. I was about to throw back a nasty reply, one that would point out how I couldn't be bought and forget about my sister, when Fili put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and suggested,
"Maybe Leena, you could consider the fact that Uncle is not the best at showing his feelings... and take this gesture as a kindness; so that you will forget about your problems for a moment."
I huffed, a little defeated. I almost didn't like this caring Thorin - it made me a little uneasy.
"And you're not bothered by the fact that he's forcing you to go dress shopping?" I questioned.
Kili gave me a sideways look.
"Are you kidding? You don't think these beauties braid themselves do you?" he teased as he yanked on Fili's rather disheveled facial hair. Fili winced and punched his younger sibling in the gut.
"The royal hairdresser lives in Dale, now I'll accompany you there but, as you can see its hardly necessary for this one..." Fili stated. Kili looked genuinely hurt at that comment, still recovering from the hit.
Fili began walking towards the palace gates and I leaned over to Kili, "Don't worry, I hear that women in Dale prefer the clean shaven look." he seemed to beam at that and took off after his brother.
As soon as we stepped outside my mood had lightened considerably. It was overcast and in the distance dark heavy clouds were threatening to approach. Besides that it was a beautiful day and the smell of rain made me realize how very caged I'd been inside that mountain.
It took the three of us no time at all to reach Dale and when we did it was not at all what I expected. There were people everywhere. Buying, selling, trading in every inch of street. Children ran screaming in and out of stalls and I would have laughed along with them if it wasn't for the fear creeping up on me. Everyone was at least 2ft taller than me-maybe even more, and the sheer number of these people was overwhelming. I glanced at the nephews and was disappointed to find that I was the only one who was freaking out. Sure, I had seen a Man before- at a distance. They were so much more intimidating up close.
It wasn't only that though. These giants were staring at me- not at the royal brothers- just me, as if I was on display.
Kili actually picked up on my inner distress and came to my rescue.
"Back off!" he shouted to a newly-formed crowd. He was just drawing his sword when Fili stopped him.
"Leena! Don't be afraid."
"Have they never seen a dwarf before?!" I snapped back.
"Not a female one." a voice from the crowd replied.
We all turned to find the source of the reply.
A tall man with what I can only describe as perfect hair stepped out of the crowd and stopped before me. I gathered most of my courage as well as a handful of Kili's overcoat and looked this man in the eyes.
"My lady, my name is Aetheoran - but you may call me Theo." he gave me a warm smile.
I frowned and moved further behind Kili, I had no idea what this human had said to me- a damnit if I was going to be sold like livestock again! I slowly reached around and tried to grab Kili's knife, to try my luck again.
"Not this time." he placed a firm grip on my hand which was now conveniently caressing his waist.
"He's a friend Leena! Did you not-" he stopped and his eyes grew wide. "Can you not speak human-tongue!?" he laughed. I didn't think it was very funny.
Against my mild protests, Fili and Kili followed the strange man, pulling me along with them. We ended up at his house where he proceeded to sit us down in the largest room I'd ever seen. Fili translated for me as Kili wholeheartedly chatted up the human. I didn't trust this place.
Before long though Fili had explained that this 'Theo' was charged with dressing and hairdressing the royals of Erebor and would spend the afternoon working on the brothers.
I was quite relieved. "I'll leave you to it then." I was heading out the door when the human shouted from across the room. Fili nodded looking thoughtful.
"Leena, you can't go out there looking like that! You'll never make it out alive!" I didn't take that as a joke.
Before I knew what was happening the brothers began removing random articles of their clothing and throwing them in my direction. It was almost identical to the earlier scene in my bedroom with my clothes. They worked quickly to be as helpful as possible. But because it was Fili and Kili they were doing so with the utmost innocence and naivety and I hated to be the one to point out the situation.
"Wait!" I cried as Kili was removing his belt. They both looked at me expectantly clearly not seeing what position they were putting me in. As much as I would have not minded to see my nephews like that, (I mean, they weren't exactly unattractive!) I had to remember that they were my nephews.
"You're very helpful, but what are you going to wear, my dress?!" I held my breathe hoping that would be enough to stop him. I carefully gathered the fallen clothes and hurried out to put them on. When I came back, the two were in the same place as I left them.
"Yes brother, you wouldn't want to sway the lady's feelings." Fili smirked suggestively at me. I could tell he wasn't as innocent as I had thought. I crossed my arms and tried my best to stop from blushing.
"No, you're mistaken brother!" He elbowed him in the waist. " I believe Miss Leena would rather see Thor-" He was unable to finish his sentence before an assistant of Theo's knocked over a large pail of water splashing the brothers into silence. Before I could hear their protests I stormed out of the house and rushed into the crowded streets.
As much as I hated them I had to admit that I was thankful for their genius idea. Sure, I had to squeeze in between people but they merely shrugged me away and didn't give me a second thought. Thankful for this new found invisibility I wandered between the stands slowly taking in all the sights and smells. The yards upon yards of fabric adorned a row of the market and I let my eyes lead me down it. As the rain began to lightly fall I stopped a few feet away from an emerald green lace fabric that pretty well took my breathe away. Never before had a material, man-made object been able to hold my attention as this one did. It's delicate beauty suddenly reminded me of my sister and I could have sworn I could hear her voice. I wiped my eyes and dismissed the thought.
Then I heard it again. It was a nervous laugh this time. I whipped my head around to locate the familiar voice. It was getting more difficult to see through the downpour but there was no mistaking her. There she was standing only a few feet away from me!
"Raessa." I gasped and hid myself quickly. She was not alone. There, standing in her midst was Lord Vorin - and from the looks of things he hadn't changed.
"You call this craftsmanship?! I've seen my horse produce better quality! " he chided at a poor salesgirl right before he ordered his guards to knock over the stand and destroy everything in it.
My sister must have heard me for she turned and began waving frantically at me. Didn't she realize that I was trying not to be seen? It was no use trying to get her to stop as her master walked up and peered through the rain.
"You there! What business do you have associating with my wife!?" He demanded rudely. He quickly turned to Raessa and grabbed her roughly by the collar. "Hmm? Do you have something you want to tell me?"
"Leave her be!" I bellowed from where I stood about 20ft away from the pair. By now the rain had soaked my clothes and my slim, girlish figure was beginning to show through.
He immediately let go and crept a little closer towards me. "Magdalena? Is that you?" An eerie grin appeared on his lips. "So glad you could join us..." He turned and nodded to his guards. I gasped as I saw their bulky persons quickly approaching me. "Seize her!" He brushed his hand over my sisters cheek. "Isn't this a treat, two sisters for the price of one."
At that moment I turned and ran. I had no idea where I was going and to my dismay that streets were rapidly clearing as people sought shelter from the rain. Of course the humans never thought to stop and help a poor dwarf being chased by two other dwarfs so I was left to my own defences. I continued to turn corner after corner and still I could hear the impending footsteps behind me. Suddenly I had an idea as I saw a lone cart making its way up the street. Quietly I lept onto the back of the cart, hidden from view and made my escape.
I waited a good long while before dismounting the cart and calmly strutted down the lane way quite impressed with myself. "Some guards." I thought to myself. I looked around and realized where I was. I had mistakenly taken the road out of Dale and was now just at the gates looking back upon the city, with The Lonely Mountain looming in the distance behind it.
This was my chance. I had the whole world ahead of me and I had the chance to leave all my mistakes and fears behind. I took a few steps forward. Soon I found myself continuing, letting my drenched feet take me away.
I was just breathing in the scent of freedom when out of nowhere someone grabbed me and pulled me backwards. Their hand went over my mouth while the other was fastened tightly around my waist - there was no escape. I screamed with all my might but it was no use.
When my attacker had dragged me back into a shadowed alley I braced myself for death - or worse. I glared up at the man once he had released his hold on me. He was in a large cloak with a wide, deep hood that concealed his features.
"Well?" I demanded, with a sudden burst of courage. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me and I knew then that I wasn't going down without a fight. The man proceeded to remove his hood.
"Thorin!?" I cried. This was all a bit too exciting for me and a felt his strong arms holding me up as I slightly collapsed. "What are you doing here?!" I had to make the lightness in my head go away before I could really start yelling at him.
"Saving you, apparently." He replied in a rather annoyed and gruff tone. "Where are Fili and Kili?" He demanded as if it was my fault that they weren't present.
"I left them back at the hair house. They -"
"That was not your decision to make." He thundered. "I allowed you to leave under the condition that they remain with you at all times."
"I don't need to be babysat!" I cried. I could feel my hair sticking to my face and I really doubted that this king could ever take me seriously. "You weren't there, you didn't hear what they were saying..." I faltered as I saw a sheepish look begin to appear on his face. I looked at him in confusion. Then I remembered. "No. No it couldn't have been." I backed up shaking my head.
"I had no choice." He stated firmly.
"That was you? You knocked that bucket over?" I couldn't believe it.
"I couldn't let them speak to you like that! You are to be the Queen of Erebor!" He rushed over and secured his hands roughly on my shoulders.
"Get off me." I sneered. "I wouldn't doubt that you have no trust in me, but your own family? Now I know exactly what kind of man you really are; controlling and heartless!"
He went quiet, his brooding eyes never leaving mine. I suspected that that last one really dug in deep. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. I know you're not heartless. But why did you lie and then follow me? " I looked for an answer in those blue eyes.
He stood a little taller and placed a hand on his belt looking past me into the distance. He sighed, unsure of whether or not to continue. "I cannot risk losing you, Fili and Kili are much too young and inexperienced to assess the dangers here." I considered this for a moment. The fight in us had died down somewhat and we were speaking in normal voices and with a relative calmness.
"I'm that precious to you that you would travel this far in secret and then spy on me for an entire afternoon? Thorin, we barely know each other and from what little we do know I'm pretty sure forms a hatred." I hadn't meant that last part to be funny but the corner of his mouth rose a little.
While he was thinking of a reply a thought dawned on me. What if there was no ploy and Thorin had actually developed feelings for me? What if it was just as simple as being a mail-order bride and him wanting to fall in love with whatever girl was sent to him? I felt bad for not considering that before.
"It's a complicated matter." He stated. He continued gazing into the distance and I wondered if he would stay like that forever.
I looked over out of boredom as some movement caught my eye. As I was forming the words Thorin had collected himself and was brought back to reality.
"We have to run!" I pleaded.
He looked around and shook his head. He hurried to throw his hood back on. Just then he faced me and with an overwhelming amount of force shoved me aggressively against the brick wall. "There's no time." He whispered viscously. I tried to convince him to let me go- to escape but he would not have it. I could hear their sinister voices approaching and I turned my head to visualize my oncoming attackers. I was just able to see the armoured foot coming around the corner when my vision was enveloped by Thorin's dark black mane.
"What are you-" I demanded as he forcefully pressed his lips against mine. I took my hands and pushed against him to get him off but it was as futile as the numerous other times he had invading my personal space. My fingers slipped off the sharp, wet armor that covered his chest. His lips were warm and unsurprisingly rough. They moved against mine with such ease and affection that i was beginning to doubt my current hatred for him. I closed my eyes and felt as if I was introduced to a different side of him- one that exposed me to years of tragedy and anger. When i felt his teeth close around my lower lip I snapped myself back to reality. I reached up and dug my nails into his neck in an effort to dissuade him, but to my dismay he only took it as encouragement and pressed himself harder against me - if it was physically possible. The sheer proximity of his body from mine was enough to make his cloak cover him and myself entirely. Oh, I realized then what his plan was. I couldn't believe that worked. The guards were out of site by now so I let my hands drop and stood there almost limp. The king knew I wouldn't be giving in that easily so he stole one more kiss before stepping back. He was having a difficult time controlling that smirk of his.
"Proud of yourself?" I questioned secretly enjoying the look of humor on his face.
His smile faded just as fast as it came. "I did what was necessary."
"I hardly think that was necessary! We could have-"
"I saved you again, did I not?" His tone hinted that the conversation was over.
I wasn't satisfied with that, so I approached him again and couldn't help but sound like a upset child.
"Then why did you stop me? Why not let me go? I fail to see what value I am to you!"
"You're my future Queen, their future Queen, doesn't that stand for something? Is that not good enough for you?"
"Why am I the future Queen?!" I was yelling now. I didn't care who heard me or even if the guards came back. I looked at him seriously. "I had no choice in this arrangement, you knew that. And yet you still plan to go through with it!"
"Everyone has a choice." He wouldn't meet my eyes.
"A 'choice'? If I recall, Thorin Oakenshield, I didn't make the choice to come here I didn't make the choice to marry you and I didn't make the choice to have my sister sold off!"
His anger flared up once more. "But you did, you naive, thoughtless girl! You made the choice to not only make your life a living hell, but mine as well. You chose to love a weak character like your sister. And you chose your own fate by causing your own stepfather to sell you off!" His brow deepened and I could see the white appearing on his knuckles.
Even though the tears were clearly welling up in my eyes I rose them to meet his. "You never answered my question. Why did you agree to help save my sister? Why. Do. You. Want. To. Marry. Me."
I prepared myself for the worst. After a kiss like that my fears were proving to be true. He had to have feelings for me, and now he was too scared to admit it. Of course, there were worse things than having a fiancé that actually cares for you, but in my mind I could only see him becoming more possessive of me. What scared me the most though was the increasing possibility that I would be able to reciprocate those feelings.
To say that he looked handsome standing before me would've be the understatement of the century. He had taken his hood off again and exposed his dark features and a flowing mane that laid dramatically on his shoulders. He was looking away so I continued down and even though his person was concealed the powerfulness still managed to surface for my eyes to take in. My eyes finally rested on his boots. I hadn't noticed before just how large they were. Anyone could command an army in those boots. They made me consider that I was addressing a king and just how unworthy I may have been at that moment.
He looked back at me and caught my eye before turning slowly to walk away. It was as if he was holding his head in shame- though at what I could not decipher.
"Wait!" I cried. He turned and looked. His eyes widened in horror.
"You tell me why you want to marry me so badly. Why, when you could have anyone in all of Erebor and beyond, you would put up with me for this long." I tightened my grip around the dagger that I had pointed at my lower body. I laughed inwardly as Kili was still unable to keep that thing with him.
"That's enough." He commanded, trying to keep his voice steady. "Put it down and we shall speak." He made a lowering motion with his hand.
"No. I'm done talking, I'm done with all of this. You know I'll do it. If it doesn't kill me it will certainly kill any hopes of an heir!" I chuckled darkly as the realization sneaked onto his face. "Won't that dampen your beloved Durin's day? Won't be many after this I can guarantee..."
"Silence." He ordered. He closed his eyes below a deeply furrowed brow. "It is true that I came into this union willingly. But that reason dishonors me... and my name."
"What, did my stepfather pay you off or something?" I smiled, jokingly. I had considered my new arrangement as a result of being sold, but that was only ever in exaggerated frustration!
He looked at me gravely. "Yes."
I couldn't feel my legs. I heard what I thought was the dagger fall to the ground. "What did he pay you." Thorin didn't answer.
"Tell me what I am worth to you!"
*** GASP. So more drama and angst-ness! The two are always fighting but it seems that's the only way Thorin and Leena can communicate anymore! :) anyway reviews are ALWAYS welcome and the next chapter should delve into the details of the 'transaction' :D ***