Sacred Duty, Bleeding Heart

Chapter 20

When the two mothers of the newlyweds entered Fili’s halls the next morning, accompanied by the Master of Ceremonies and the Head Scribe, they found the pair in a scene of apparent domestic bliss.
Ysona was seated in one of the large armchairs at the heart, and before her Fili sat on the foot bench, enjoying a pipe while Ysona combed and braided his hair.

“Good morning!” Balin greeted them heartily, mostly to conceal his mild embarrassment about what was to come. Ori beside him was less successful in hiding his feelings; he was clutching his quills and looked like he would rather be polishing the scales on Smaug’s rear end than be here to witness and document the events.

“Well, you know why we are here,” Bradda said, addressing her daughter in a sharp voice.
“I do.” Ysona got up and Fili did the same, giving her mother a long, stern look that he held until she looked away.
“Good morning to you, Lady Bradda.” Then he bowed his head to greet everyone. “Mother. Balin. Ori.”
“Well.” Balin flicked his head, trying to smile. “Sorry about this, lad, but you know the drill.”
Fili gave him a weak smile and shrugged. “I gather it would be less awkward if this wasn’t done by people I know so well and count as my friends.”
Balin sighed. “Let’s get this over with.”

The two mothers now entered the bed chamber through Ysona’s room while Balin and Ori went through Fili’s, to inspect the sheets of the wedding bed. Once it was confirmed and witnessed that Ysona had been a virgin and was no longer and thus the marriage consummated, Ysona’s maid would be allowed to change the sheets and everything would be in place.

“It is so humiliating,” Ysona whispered.
Fili took her hand in his. “Try not to think about it. You have nothing to be ashamed of; everything is as it should be.”
“Is it?” She looked up and met his eyes. “Four people sniffing around in our wedding bed?”
“I doubt that they sniff it.” Fili couldn’t suppress a tiny smile. “But I understand. I, too, wish that my word in this matter would be enough.”
Ysona straightened up as the doors to the hearth chamber opened again.
“We’re in this together,” Fili whispered into her ear and put a reassuring arm around her waist.
Ysona nodded and thrust out her chin.

“Well, that concludes things,” Balin said brightly. “Now we can go on to the more pleasurable part of the day.”
Ori, his ears still burning, quickly rolled up the scroll he had been writing on and after a hasty bow towards the couple and Balin, left them in a manner that suggested he would rather have run than walked.
“Poor lad.” Balin winked at Fili. “He better get used to this.”
Fili cleared his throat, he could not sort out the mixture of embarrassment and amusement he felt.

“Since everything went well, I hereby welcome you into my family, Fili.” Bradda held both her hands out to him.
Fili took them and bowed. “Thank you, Mother Bradda.”
Dís showed fewer reservations and embraced Ysona warmly. “Welcome, daughter. I am so happy for you, although I must say it makes a woman feel old, having her children marry.”
“Thank you, mother Dís.” Ysona´s voice was a little wavering.
Dís now looked at her with a bit of concern. “Are you well?”
“I am.” Ysona took a deep breath to steady herself. “I am just...” She broke off with reddening cheeks.

“Oh, please, my dear.” Dís smiled warmly and slipped an arm through hers. “I know how it feels, but your mother and I have been there, too. Put it behind you. And now, let’s get you dressed for your coronation.” She led Ysona into her dressing room, followed by Bradda, and Fili went and dressed himself while he let the two older women fuss over the new princess.

While he waited in the hearth chamber, he contemplated his situation, and found it could be worse. Ysona had lost something of her shyness, and she was not, as he had feared, full of shallow thoughts and mindless chatter. On the contrary, she was educated and thoughtful and Fili found himself entertaining the thought of teaching her how to play bâkhza.
And while there was certainly no love between them, he found that he actually liked her, and was sure that in time, he would become very fond of her. Somehow, last night had brought them together in a way he had not expected, it had created a feeling of being in this together and together, making the best of it.

No, it could have been worse. He forced his thoughts away from the pointless musings of what could have been better. Only bitterness lay down that road.

After her mother and mother-in-law had fussed over Ysona for the better part of an hour she had finally emerged from her dressing room, and Fili could only admit that she looked stunning. Her long-trained dress was made from white and silver satin, delicately embroidered with silver thread, and her hair was partly braided, but flowed free down the back of her head.

Fili kissed her hand before taking her arm, and all four of them made their way down towards the Gallery of the Kings. Admiring looks and whispers followed Ysona as she walked across the golden floor towards the throne; no one could deny that she had the beauty and the bearings of a true princess and future queen.

After having reached the throne Fili let go of Ysona’s arm and positioned himself to Thorin’s right and Thorin, after giving him a nod, now slowly descended the steps from the throne and stood before Ysona with a gentle, reassuring smile. Ysona bowed her head and then knelt down, head lowered.

In the sacred tongue of the ancients Thorin then spoke the ritual blessings before Balin stepped up to his side, bearing the pillow with the silver diadem inlaid with three shining sapphires.
He gently placed it on Ysona’s head and blessed her again before he bade her rise.
Then his voice rose, and it rang clear and strong through the gallery, reaching into the farthest corners.

Ysona, nâthu Glerin, khagalalnâs'aban uzbadnâtha Ereborû!”

Ysona slowly turned to face the onlookers and listened to their cheering and applause with a faint blush.

Fili stepped to her side and took both her hands in his. “Uzbadnâthaê.”
Ysona inclined her head. “Uzbad-dashatê.”
Their eyes met, and Fili could see a sparkle in Ysona’s eyes that hadn’t been there before. He couldn’t help but smile.

When they settled down at the banquet table, it was the first time that Ysona was seated at Fili’s side. Fili watched her with a mildly amused glance as she looked around nervously until her eyes finally fell on him.

Ysona managed a shy smile. “No. It’s... I will have to get used to not sitting with my family anymore.”
“And is that a bad thing?” Fili leaned a little forward and took her hand.
“No.” Ysona returned the pressure of his fingers around hers, her smile growing. “No, it just feels... odd.”
“It feels odd sitting next to your husband?”
“No.” She chuckled despite herself. “You fool. It feels odd not sitting next to my father. It feels good sitting next to you, my prince.”
“Well, that’s a relief.” Fili winked at her.
“Are you deliberately trying to make me laugh?” Ysona’s eyes sparkled.
“And what if I am? You seem so nervous and uncomfortable; I just want to lighten your mood.”
Ysona’s smile softened. “I assure you, it is working.”

Before Fili could reply to that the food arrived, and again, Bombur had outdone himself and probably shortened the life expectancy of his kitchen staff. It was a feast worthy of the occasion, the crowning of the future queen, and Fili noticed to his satisfaction that Ysona, while she ate very mannered and elegantly, was indeed enjoying her food.

Throughout the banquet Fili was keeping the conversation going with telling her about his various friends in the crowds and their journey from Ered Luin to Erebor.
“You know, if it wasn’t for the simple fact that I could ask almost any man here in this hall for confirmation I would say half of what you tell me is made up.” Ysona shook her head with a smile.

“No way!” Kili, who was sitting on Fili’s other side, leaned forward and saluted her with his tankard. “We’re heroes! To the last dwarf!”
He grinned at his brother and the two smacked their tankards together before knocking them back.
Ysona had to laugh. “Sure enough! Surviving orcs, goblins, elves and a dragon, who else but heroes could claim that?”

Someone stepped towards their board, and Ysona’s smile instantly vanished.
“Ysona, love.” Her brother bowed and held out his hand. “We will be gone day after tomorrow, and I would beg you to go for a walk with me, since I won’t be seeing you again for a while.”
“Sure.” All of a sudden, the meek, fearful wren was back and Fili, who couldn’t say anything against her brother’s request, watched them go with a deep frown.
“Seems not very fond of her brother,” Kili stated after exchanging a quick look with his own brother.
Fili could only shake his head. “I can’t stand him, so I can hardly blame her.”

When they returned, not so long after that, Fili watched Ysona closely, but could not determine if anything was out of place. She sat down a little stiffly, and Fili could see her hands were shaking.
“Ysona?” He spoke very softly. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing.” She stared straight ahead.
“Please.” He leaned closer to her and lowered his voice even more. “I asked honesty of you.”
“I know.” Ysona’s voice was a shaky whisper. “Please... not now.”

Fili leaned back and watched her, but she had put a mask on that he could not see through. She was smiling and picking at her food again, but Fili was absolutely sure that whatever had transpired between her and her brother, that it had scared her badly.

Ysona, nâthu Glerin, khagalalnâs'aban uzbadnâtha Ereborû: Ysona, daughter of Glerin, Sapphire Princess of Erebor

uzbadnâthaê: My Princess

uzbad-dashatê: My Prince

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