A Rose By Any Other Name
Disclaimer: I Own Nothing, but My Own Ideas, Characters, Settings, and Plot
A Rose By Any Other Name
The first time Thorin is reborn her name is Rose or Rosie or Rosetta MacAuliffe , depending on who you ask.
Her hair is as red as the flames in the fire-place, her eyes the color of dying grass, and her skin like the wooden doll that sits in the Fancy cabinet. She is small in stature, but grand in presence and has a tendency to talk too much.
She spends most of her time, her life, trying to find others. Others with memories of other lives and places not found in this place. But most importantly, she looks for others with memories of Middle Earth. Her company, her burglar…in all honest she would settle for an elf to prove she isn't mad.
But for all that she wishes, she cannot travel far. Her roles as a sister, a daughter, a future mother, and a woman shackle him in a place in the same way a crown can shackle you to a throne.
So in her spare time between searching and dreaming, she works. Her family is neither poor nor well off. They work for the daily bread. Every day, she wakes with the sun to help till the earth and harvest the crops. On Saturdays, she and her mother spend the afternoon baking goods for the Market: pies and tarts and breads of all sorts. On Saturdays in the summers, when they are doing better than usual, Thorin is even able to make raisin bread which, as far as she's concerned, is the best type of bread one could make.
But of all this, her favorite thing to do is hunt.
Most women don't know nor wanted to know how to track and kill an animal. If her mother had any say in it, Thorin would never touch a hunting knife let alone learn to shoot a crossbow. But the winters are hard, her father's left leg lame, and their need for meat too great to stop Thorin from learning.
She learned to track, first. She was smaller than her elder, twin brothers, Ronald and Ralph, and, as such, lighter on her feet. She once followed a deer for a good quarter mile before the poor thing had realized it was being followed and tried to bolt (of course by then it had been to late). And to this day, Thorin swears on her mother's grave that she could find the burrow of any creature in the forest given enough time, even in the thickest of fogs.
Next, she learned how to skin. That part she didn't enjoy much. The blood and the smell…it wasn't pleasant. After the first few times, she went as far as to flat out refused to do it. As long as another person was there (as her brothers often were) she found no need.It was only after a good deal of begging and whining and stomping and slamming doors that she finally gained her mother's permission to learn how to shoot. (She may no longer been a dwarf, but she was as stubborn as one. It had all been a matter of time.) Ronald taught her the bow; how to stand, hitch an arrow, and aim between breaths. Ralph taught her the knife; how to grip the handle, narrow your eyes to aim, and throw with an alarming accuracy.
Thorin takes pride in her skills. She is not like the other women of this world who allow men to lock them up to keep them safe. She is a Durin and a MacAuliffe. She swears she will never need anyone but herself, let her gender be damned.
And then, one day, she meets Dwalin in the Market.
Thorin had gone under the pretence to help Ralph and Ronald sell the farm goods. In reality, she wanted as far away from her mother as she could get.
For all that she loved her; Thorin could only stand so much talk of marriage and children before considering throwing herself from a cliff or high rock. Just because she had reached marrying age didn't mean she had to get married. In her old life, she had spent her whole life unattached. She saw no reason to stop now.
She spotted him near the booksellers.
Dwalin had been wearing a gentleman's suit with a prim stiff collar and deep blue leggings under an artful shirt and brown britches. His hair was slicked back into a proper ponytail and his eyes had laugh lines. A land owner then, maybe even a figure of royalty.
Compared to Thorin, in her simple peasant blouse and yellow skirt...never before had Thorin felt shame for her social standing.
For the rest of the day, Thorin watches as Dwalin walks the market up towards the grocer and down to the seamstress. Not once does he look over at Thorin. Not once does he recognize their shared path.
After that, Thorin makes it a point to go to the market as often as she can. Her brothers tease her relentlessly about her affection for the mystery man, sure that their younger sister had developed a crush. Maybe she had, Thorin wasn't sure.
There had always been something between Dwalin and herself. A bound, first as comrades, then as brothers, and then maybe...something more...if things hadn't happened (ended) the way they had.
Well anyway, as her mother would say Thorin had finally reached marrying age and Dwalin looked to be from a well-off family. She could do worse.
Finally, one day Dwalin ambles over to their stall. He takes his time inspecting the different breads and baked goods they had to offer. There hadn't been much left. Their regulars had near cleaned them out. Dwalin would have been better off going to the official baker. Thorin liked to imagine Dwalin came because he wanted to see her.
In the end, Dwalin buys her mother's best pies and her raisin bread before asking her brothers the name of their shy sister who stands by the horses. Apparently, he had noticed her watching him and found her quite easy on the eyes.
Thorin wants to scream, to hate, to make people understand just as she does whenever her gender or status makes her less than others. She is Thorin! Son of Thrain, son of Thror, King Under the Mountain even though others don't see it, don't know it.
And to think that Dwalin, of all people, could speak of her in such a way! It made her blood boil.
Dwalin begins officially courting her three weeks later. Her parents all but throw their only daughter (and their only burden, Thorin thinks savagely) at Dwalin's feet.
Thorin doesn't accept. At first it's out of pride, but that dwindles quickly. For the few instances they speak, not once did Dwalin look down on her. Rather, he treats Thorin not as a king or as a peasant, but rather as an equal. And she isn't entirely sure what to make of it.
Instead, she refuses out of fear. Because for all that she is Thorin Oakenshield, she is also Rose MacAuliffe. She is not the same. She has been humbled by her time as the only daughter of a poor farmer. Nor is she as bitter and as cold as she was before. Because for all her hardships, she has never known true loss in this life.
So when Dwalin comes to the farm, Thorin hides. She made a habit of staying in the barn or going to the forest to hunt. And it works. She keeps her distance in a futile hope that Dwalin would lose interest and leave. That he will fall for another peasant girl and make her dreams of being a princess become true.
Thorin did not need it.
Two months pass before Dwalin finally cornered her.
"Stop," he growls, "Hold still, Thorin, goddamn you! Hold!"
Thorin hisses, low and dangerous, "I'll scream. I swear!" She tries to grab her knife, but Dwalin's hold is to strong, "And then where will your honor lie? My brothers will not stand for this!"
Dwalin freezes for a moment, a look of betrayal on his face, before he laughs and lets go. With an ungraceful cry Thorin falls to the forest floor, hands and elbows scraped and bleeding. "So you really are just another woman."
Thorin climbs to his knees, "What?"
"Just another soft face who needs taking care of." It is bitter and cold and makes Thorin's stomach churn with something more from fear, "Another girl who needs her brother's looking after. Bah!" Dwalin spits.
"I need no one," Thorin growls.
"Ha! All women need caring for don't they! Even the great King Under the Mountain has been reduced..." Dwalin trails off and shakes his head, "I'd hoped...I'd hoped when I found you I'd..."
"You'd what," Thorin prompts as he slowly stands up, hand going for the dagger he kept strapped to her belt. She would not let Dwalin get away from holding her as he did.
Dwalin shakes his head, "It'd be like finding home. Ridiculous. You're just as different as everything else."
With a roar, Thorin pounces and wrestles Dwalin to the ground and keeps him still by with a knife to his neck. Thorin can feel herself grinning.
Dwalin's words makes her realize something.
Dwalin has changed. The old Dwalin would never have spoken like this, so bitter and angry and pained. And for all that Thorin is not all Thorin but also Rosie, Dwalin isn't all Dwalin, either. He is someone else, too. So maybe they had changed. But there is one thing that kept them the same: a need for home.
After that, Thorin finally accepts Dwalin's courtship and Dwalin accepts Thorin. The pressure lifts and they start get to know each other all over again.
Thorin learns in this world that Dwalin's name is Richard Thomas Summers III. He is the duke and landlord of their small province in southern England. He cares little for strawberries and less for potatoes. Dwalin enjoys red wine after super and the color of Thorin's hair. He takes pride in caring for his soon-to-be wife's needs and buying her presents like chocolate and fancy dresses. But, of all this, Dwalin takes a special pride in braiding Thorin's hair full of flowers and calling her his Queen.
But the most fascinating of all the things, Thorin learns is that this is Dwalin's third life including his time as Dwalin.
"I was a stockbroker in a place called America," Dwalin tells Thorin late at night. It is three days till their marriage.
"What's America? And a stockbroker? It sounds terribly boring," Thorin asks as she plays with the cuffs of his future husband's shirt. It's improper for them to be so close without supervision, but no one cares. They're as good as married anyway.
"Oh, it hasn't been found yet," Dwalin answers, "I have a feeling we are not reborn in a linear fashion. Rather we get dropped in at any time or place. Though, I suppose there is a purpose to it all."
Thorin frowns, thoughtful, "If that's so...if there's a purpose, then why do you suppose I was born a girl?"
Dwalin thinks on it for a good while. He doesn't answer her that night or the night after. It takes a year after they get married and Thorin's stomach is full of life when Dwalin brings the subject back up, "You always took care of everyone," he starts as they're once again lying in bed, but this time with far less clothes on. Dwalin is slowly tracing the stretch of his skin up to the center of her belly where Thorin imagines their child's head may be resting. "I suppose, you were born a woman to make sure that this time you'd be taken care of."
Thorin has to admit that she likes that idea.
Their first child is a boy.
He has his father's face and his mother's colors.
He is not Kili. He is not Fili.
And a part of Thorin is disappointed, a small part, but a part all the same. But she does not allow it to poison the love she holds for her child.
She names his boy Ronald in honor of her brother. And when he is old enough, she teaches Ronald how to whittle an arrow and shoot a bow; how to get on your hands and knees to listen for the footsteps of animals.
It is slow going, but worth it to see Ronald slowly master the art of hunting. With every animal he tracks and with every arrow that flies from his bow, Thorin can see her boy slowly becoming a man. A pride awakens in her child, an old pride. There's a stubborn set in her son's jaw that makes Dwalin laugh for how Durin it is.
And when he is old enough, Thorin teaches Ronald the ups and downs of love.
"She's perfect," Ronald says as he rolled out the dough for the pie crust.
'I'm sure she is," Thorin replis, taking care to slice the fruit in equal sized pieces, "Doesn't mean I don't wish to see her and her parents.""And you will," Richard swears, "You will, just as soon as I work up the nerve to ask her over."
Thorin frowns and sets down her knife, "You mean to tell me, Richard Dwalin Summers, that you have yet to tell this poor girl your feelings! Have mercy! I thought for sure you were halfway to marrying her the way you've been walking about so love-sick.""Well, it's just I haven't gotten around to working up the nerve."
"The nerve," Thorin scoffs, "Your father chased me for a good two months before I accepted his proposal. You wait too long and some other handsome fellow will be snatching her up, mark my words. No girl like the one you've been moaning about is going to wait to long."It takes three months and countless pushes and shoves from his mother before Ronald Dwalin Summers finally works up enough courage to ask Briana O'Leary for her hand. It takes four more months before Thorin finally meets the girl.
"It's Nori." Dwalin scowls. "Our son is about to marry a thief. A horrid, bloody thief."
"Dwalin!" Thorin hisses, "Briana is no more a thief than I am a king or you a guardsmen. Our lives are different here. I would hate for you to go holding prejudiced against me for what I did just as much as I would hate for you to go holding prejudices against Nori."
"I don't trust her," is all Dwalin had to say on the issue.
Thorin, on the other hand, found herself trusting Nori far more than expected. Starving for proof of Middle Earth, Nori finds herself clinging to her soon-to-be mother-in-law with a desperation that spoke for itself.
"I was terrified that I was mad," Nori admitted. "I was sure that it was all just a dream and that there was something was wrong with me. And I didn't dare tell anyone."
Dwalin grunts. Thorin smiles and leans over to place a reassuring hand on the poor girls knee, "I felt the same way." She assures Nori, "It's all right to be scared. It's not like we have a lot of evidence."
"I was so grateful when I saw that you were Richard's parents," Nori grins. "It...it was like coming home to find unexpected treasure."After that, Thorin takes the young girl under her wing. She teaches her how to cook, to sew, to throw a knife, and to defend herself from an attacker. Slowly, Nori masters her lessons and begins to thrive.
It is like watching a flower bloom slowly and fragilely in the sun. And each petal is worth every ounce of effort.
Even Dwalin gives his grudging acceptance. And in the summer, Ronald marries.
Thorin never gets to see her grandchildren, though.
Three years a later, the king makes war. Thorin's son does not live to come home.
The petals fall and the flower dies. At 27, Nori remarries to a veteran. She is never the same.
Dwalin leaves Thorin widowed at the ripe age of fifty-two and Thorin follows her husband two years later. Some will chalk it up to heartache, but Thorin doesn't agree. She dies because she is ready.
She has lived all that she needs to in this life.
LOVE TO MY BETA: Musicnsneakers
She has been a blessing and a saint working with me on this first chapter. So all the love and positive energy to her!
This story is a work-in-progress and is open to critiques, suggestions, and ideas. If you have a time or place you'd like to see Thorin in tell me and I will consider it.