To Your Mark

Chapter 20

"Ren?" The elf had to suppress a sigh of frustration.

"Yes, Kili?"

"How do you say 'food' in elvish?" Again, she had to contain a growl as she tilted her head downwards in hopes that the young dwarf wouldn't notice the annoyed expression on her face.

Dawn had finally fallen over the Mirkwood forest and the Company had all awoken from a night of somewhat restful slumber.

Most of the group had had strange dreams and others had simply been afraid of what lay in the dark, watching and waiting to strike. However, having an elf in the group allowed them a few hours of peaceful sleep, her being the only member of their group who could actually see passed her nose in the dark.

The fourth night had passed much like the others with little activity and just the snoring dwarves around her and the forest sounds to keep her company. The hours had seemed to drag on for an eternity and a half before the sun decided to peak over the horizon, meaning that the female was off duty for a few minutes and could relax for a short while.

When the sun would begin to rise, she would often wake Bilbo before turning and waking the dwarf on her other side, the Company having been packed tightly together every single night in fear that one of them would be snatched away like a fox would take an egg from a chicken's coop.

On that particular morning however, Ren had woken her hobbit companion before she had turned and gazed at the other sleeping form at her side, the inhabitant unfortunately being Ori. He was curled up into a tiny ball beneath his blanket and she couldn't help but smile slightly as she looked at him. Deciding to save the young dwarf for last, she instead rose from her place before removing the arrow from her bow and putting it back with the others in her quiver.

Walking across the clearing, she nudged a few of the dwarves' boots to wake them up, the elf having to actually kick sometimes due to the fact that most of them were very heavy sleepers and needed more than just a little prod to wake up.

"Fili, wake up your brother." Ren said as she knelt down by the young heir's head and spoke softly into his ear. Feeling her hot breath upon his skin, the dwarf immediately opened his eyes and looked at the elleth, his eyes still glazed over slightly with sleep.

Seeing that he was mostly awake, she then left him alone so that he may finish waking up before he stirred Kili, only to walk across the clearing and wake one of the last members of their Company.

She hesitantly squatted down beside him before placing her hand upon his shoulder. "Thorin..." She lightly shook his arm in hopes of waking him.

"What?" Came his reply, his voice agonizingly deep and rough with disuse.

"The sun has risen. We must continue on." She told him, her hand still upon the soft furs of his jacket. Slowly letting his eyes open, he only saw the colorless forest off in the distance before he turned his head to look up her.

He frowned a bit at the realization that the blue eyes he was looking into was not the normally sparkling pair present. Awakening more at this revelation, he slowly sat up and she moved back slightly, giving him more room to do so. His eyes stayed trained upon her face as he took in her pale skin and the dark bags beneath her eyes, those never having been present before in their journey.

The dwarf lord only sent her a small look before he nodded and she stood to leave again. Thorin took note of this pushed this new problem away for later, promising that he would ask if she was well after they ate.

After a small breakfast and a sip of water from their ever-lightening canteens, the troop decided to move on.

Again, they spent hours upon hours of walking along the accursed path before the female rose her eyes from her feet to the sky. From what she could tell, Ren guessed that noon was nearly upon them and the dwarves would soon be pestering her with stopping to eat something.

Everyday though, it seemed as if the days in the forest were becoming darker and night seemed to arrive sooner the longer they spent beneath the canopy of leaves, though the Company never noticed it.

The dwarves themselves seemed cheery enough in such a dreadful place. Ren herself only trudged along, her feet feeling heavier with every step she took. Her mind was nearly humming with the whispers inside her head and adding that to the merry talk and quiet laughter behind her, the elf had just about had it.

She just wanted some peace and quiet.

"We shall stop for lunch." Thorin told the Company and Ren was never more glad for a lunch break her entire life. It the dwarves were eating, they were silent and she was spared for a short while.

Simply sitting down where she had been standing, she awaited the food that she would receive and she hardly heard Bofur come to a stop before her, her mind and ears occupied with other things. When the dwarf found her, she looked as though she were sleeping and he stood before her for a few awkward minutes before deciding to try and catch her attention.

"Ren?"

"Hmm?" She let out a high pitched hum and immediately opened her eyes, surprised to find the dwarf standing above her. "What can I do for you, Master dwarf?"

"Lunch." He said before reaching down into the bag and withdrawing a few pieces of a loaf of bread Beorn had baked. Taking them without another thought, she began to eat the first piece and apparently this pleased the dwarf because he smiled triumphantly and walked away. She hadn't felt the need to argue.

Normally, she had been skipping their midday meal in hopes of saving what little food they could even if it only was two slices of bread at a time.

She did, however, take out a small bundle of cloth from her satchel and placed the second piece of bread into the wrap before she stowed away with the small store of food she had hidden in there.

Bofur hadn't completely outdone her. He had only seen her eat one piece.

Stowing the food away, she stood up and approached Thorin. "I'm going to scout ahead. See if I can't get us anything fresh to eat tonight."

"It would be nice to have a full meal once again. This rationing you are having us do does not provide very satisfying meals." He murmured with distaste, finishing his own couple slices of soft bread.

"You are only spoiled but I will try. You and the group may move on whenever you're ready. I shouldn't be too far." She told him and as she turned to leave, she felt a hand close around her bicep.

Turning back around, she faced Thorin and raised an eyebrow at him, silently asking what he was doing.

"Something's wrong." She frowned slightly at his statement yet her cheeks began to flush as his eyes gazed over her beautiful features.

"No, nothing is wrong. It's-"

"No, there is something wrong with you." Their eyes met for a long moment, his icy blue pair searching her own and what he found wasn't hard to miss. Exhaustion. "You're tired." He said more to himself, a soft frown pulling at his lips.

Ren could only slowing blink her eyes, showing him just how exhausted she really was though she did not wish to.

"It is dangerous to not sleep for so long." He warned her and she pulled her bicep from his grasp before taking a few steps back from him.

"I've done it before." She claimed as she began to walk down the path, taking her bow off her shoulder as she went.

She did not have time to have a dwarf stop her and question how she was feeling. She needed to find the Company food. Their provisions were beginning to decrease at a steady rate, Beorn not having planned to feed a huge troop of fifteen for so long.

She then had a thought that he may have underestimated the eating power of dwarves. If they really wished too, the Company could eat all their food in about a week, maybe even less than that.

"You promised me that you would be careful." Ren stopped upon hearing his words, the same words that he had spoken to her back when they had reconciled in Rivendell. She had promised that she would definitely be more careful, seeing how she was just a tad bit reckless and always seemed to be risking her life for the sake of the group.

Once again turning back to face him, she sighed quietly through her nose before letting her shoulders slump in defeat.

"You will stay with the group and you may rest at the back today. I will lead us over the course of the day and tonight, you will get some sleep." He warned her, his eyes turning hard as he gave the command and she could only nod her head, not having the energy to properly argue.

And so, after the Company had finished their lunch and packed things away, Ren fell into step beside the two heirs of Durin. Or rather, they fell into step beside her.

With one on each side, Ren was silent as she walked along, her eyes heavy as they threatened to close, her ears listening to the conversation that floated between the two brothers.

"How do you say 'food' in elvish?" Kili repeated his question, seeing the far off look that had entered the female's eyes, her mind having shut down for a moment and her body just seemed to continue onward without stopping.

"This is the sixth time I've told you..."

"Well, you can't expect us to learn the entire elvish language in one afternoon, can you?" The blonde brother replied from her other side and she let out a small groan.

"Vasa." She told him and said nothing else.

For you see, seeing as how they were traveling in the forest of the Mirkwood elves, the dwarves had become curious about their customs and language, wanting to learn all about the Wood elves.

The entire afternoon, they had been pestering her with a variety of questions that contained a list of words she needed to translate for them, how old elves begin to learn archery, and what type of elves they were exactly dealing with.

The last question, though, Ren had a difficult time answering. She had very little information to give to them, she herself only knowing that most of the beings living their were of her Sindar relatives, a completely different elf from her. Yet she knew not of the rest of their culture, having never visited the Wood elves let alone stepped foot in their forest.

"Ren?"

"What?"

"How do you say... 'Uncle'?" She paused for a moment and turned to look over at the dark haired dwarf before raising her head, a knowing look in her eyes.

Easily finding Thorin at the head of their group, she smiled softly for a moment before turning her eyes back to Kili. "You have a special case, mellon."

"'Friend', right?" Fili asked and Ren bobbed her head in confirmation, proud that something had at least stuck in one of their minds.

"Uncle, in your relationship is... Ada." She couldn't help but smile again as both of them turned their eyes to look at said Uncle before murmuring the elvish word beneath their breath, permanently burning it into their minds so they wouldn't forget.

"Alright, what about-"

"Kili, I'm not telling you any other words..."

"Why not? Only a few more and they're really important! Please, Ren!" He began to whine and the female let her annoyance be heard this time, letting out a growl before pressing her lips into a firm line.

"Fine." The dark haired dwarf rejoiced in triumph as she gave in, glad that they could continue their lessons.

"How do I introduce myself to someone?"

"This one is rather simple. You just say Im and then state your name..."

"And how do I tell them I can't speak elvish properly?"

"Ú-bedin edhellen." Both dwarves again murmured the words under their breath as they stowed them away in their memory.

"Alright, last one. I just need a good... insult."

"I'm not teaching you elvish swear words, Kili..."

"Why not?!" He whined and Fili himself rolled his eyes as if to go along with Ren yet he himself also wanted to learn the curses of the pointy eared people.

"I don't think your Uncle would approve."

"So?" He raised a dark eyebrow up at her and she remained unblinking, finding the situation to be less than humoring in the state she was in.

At any other time, she would have definitely taught them swears but it just seemed as though she was too low on energy to truly care. She just wanted silence.

"Ego, mibo orch is the most I will give you."

"Really? What does it mean?" The blonde brother chimed in finally, having finally added an elvish swear word into his ever growing vocabulary.

"Go kiss an orc." She admitted and the mischievous glint that had been in both their eyes immediately vanished and was replaced with a less than pleased look. That wasn't even that bad!

"I want a real swear word!" The younger of the two protested heavily, his brows furrowing over his eyes and a frown marring his features.

"No."

"But-"

"No."

"Ren!"

"No."

"What if we teach you some Khuzdul?" Both dwarves watched as she paused for a moment, the gears in her brain beginning to turn, slowly but surely.

Her eyebrow twitched with mild interest at this new offer and she turned back to look at Fili who had been the one to speak, knowing that she had been just as curious about the ancient language as they had been about elvish. "We have a deal, Master dwarf." She replied with a smug smirk before she bent down and whispered a swear in his ear, one that made his chuckle slightly and he pulled back to look at Ren, a smile upon his face.

"That's a good one!" He said and the younger brother soon became jealous.

"I want to hear!" He grumbled slightly before Ren leaned over and also began to whisper the same words into his ear and a large grin befell his face as well.

"Alright. Now you keep up your end of the bargain..." She said and both brothers turned to the other across the distance between the two of them and huge, mischievous grins crossed their faces before the older of the two had to pull her shoulder down slightly so that he could whisper in her ear.

By the end of the day, Ren would learn a great deal of the ancient dwarvish language. And learn it she did.

By the time that night had begun to fall over the forest, Ren was sure that she could remember a good number of the words and phrases that the heirs had taught her, most of them concerning battle, food, and the most important thing: ale.

They also didn't forget to leave out a great number of swear words.

Rolling her bedroll out onto the ground in another, larger clearing that they had stopped at, she wasn't surprised when Bilbo copied her motions just to her left, sending her a small smile as their eyes met. However, she was greatly surprised when Thorin dropped his pack beside her place and began to unroll his own worn cot.

Not saying a word, she then unpacked the rest of her things like her cloaks to use as blankets before she sat down upon what would become her bed once the sun had set.

For their meal, the had a mixture of dried quail and a little leftover deer jerky, accompanied by some cheese and the last of the large loaf of bread from lunch. The Company didn't protest much though the bland food was beginning to get old.

They greatly missed a warm, home cooked meal.

"When can we have real food again?" Oin grumbled to his brother who only mumbled in agreement, all the dwarves thinking the exact same thing yet they knew that they had didn't have an option but to eat what was given to them.

"When will we be out of this accursed forest?" Dwalin himself snarled as he shoved his entire piece of cheese into his mouth.

"I'm afraid none of us know, brother. We will only have to wait to see." Balin replied quietly as he settled himself down upon his bedroll.

Night was quickly falling across the land and the forest around them began to grow ever darker. The dwarves themselves had found their places on their bedrolls and had begun to smoke what little pipe weed they had left.

Ren simply sat with her cheek in her palm, her elbow balanced upon her knee. She let her eyes trace the small clouds as they drifted about the bearded faces.

"Sleep." A deep voice rumbled from her right and she slowly turned her tired eyes to find Thorin with his own pipe in his mouth, a cloud of the haze drifting up around his face yet his eyes were staring blankly at the ground before him as if he was deep in thought.

The female only stared at him for a long moment before sighing softly through her nose and leaning back to lie down upon her cot.

As soon as her head hit her improvised pillow, she felt sleep begin to tug at the back of her mind. Pulling her second cloak over body, she then curled into the thick fabric and simply awaited for the darkness to claim her.

This, however, would prove to be rather difficult.

As soon as Ren had decided to sleep, it seemed as though the entire Company had the same idea and soon lay down for rest as well. Bilbo was one of the last awake and he soon felt his skin prickle as eyes fell upon him. Looking over, he found that the leader of their group was staring at him across the lanky form of Ren, her body the only thing separating them.

Watching silently, the dwarf's eyes flickered down to the sleeping female, his eyes softening a moment before raising them to look back at the hobbit. With a resounding sigh, Bilbo himself stared at Ren for a moment, taking note of the dark circles beneath her eyes and the ashen look of her smooth skin.

A look of worry passed between the two onlookers before the hobbit let out a resounding sigh and lay down on his bed as well before he shut his eyes and let sleep take hold of him, wondering when he would next be able to have a warm meal and an equally toasty bed to sleep in though the thoughts of Ren's health did not entire escape his mind.

It had been established that Thorin would take watch on that night and the dwarf prince watched as his surroundings grew ever darker before he found himself sitting in an almost suffocating blackness.

The minutes ticked by slowly as he sat up all night with Orcrist upon his lap, prepared should anything attack his Company.

The dwarf was brought from his thought process as the body beside him shifted. Tensing in fear, he only recalled that it was the lone elf of the group and that he had placed his things beside hers.

A small whimper seemed to escape her throat and it wasn't long before she rolled over again. Thorin could only sit and listen to her, the female apparently having nightmares that plagued her dreams.

He heard her gasp quietly as something horrifying invaded her restful sleep and she turned over again.

Clenching his fist, the dwarf could only resist reaching out and waking her for so long so that she may be rid of her nightmares yet he feared that she would have difficulties falling back asleep once awoken. She soon began to mutter in incoherent elvish, the words foreign upon his ears. The tone that she used almost made him feel sick, as if she were pleading.

For what? He didn't know though he guessed it was important to her.

Giving into his guilt and relieving her of her pain, he reached a hand out into the darkness and soon felt the soft fabric of her green tunic. As soon as his hand made contact with her arm, she inhaled sharply again and the fabric, soft against his palm, moved as she sat up.

He listened as she panted quietly for a moment before she realized that everything had only been of her dreams and that nothing was going to harm her or her loved ones.

"Thorin?" She asked quietly, her voice surprisingly weak, completely unlike the normally head strong and confident elf that she was. Feeling his hand upon her arm, in the darkness, he felt her hand close over his own so that she had something real to hold onto, something to prove that he was truly there.

Everything was fine. She was safe and protected. For the moment.

"I'm here." He told her and her shoulders slumped with relief, her eyes closing as she did so. "What troubles you?"

"Nightmares. And voices... inside my head." She explained and the dwarf prince could only frown upon hearing her words, neither of the two even relatively good.

He hadn't believed Gandalf when he had said that the forest was thick with enchantments but now that Ren had admitted to hearing voices, he had to rethink the wizard's words.

"What do they speak of?" He asked, wanting to elf to shed a bit more light upon the worrying subject.

"I don't know. There are many and they are all speaking at once so it is hard to tell. They apparently don't want me to sleep, though..." The dwarf again frowned softly upon hearing her words. He knew that she needed rest and with all the tossing and turning she had done and was bound to do, she would awaken more tired than when she fell asleep.

"When my nephews were younger, they often had nightmares. Most of them concerning their late father..." He admitted to her, his mind drifting back all those years ago, the image of the two dwarven children fresh in his mind.

Fili with his soft blonde hair and shimmering blue eyes and Kili with his mane, black as night and eyes the color of rich chocolate. They had been two of the happiest children he had ever seen, both of them so full of energy and undeniable spirit, often giving his sister, Dís, and her husband, Brogar, royal fits.

Both of them had been so rambunctious and naive at the time that their father had died, neither really understanding what was happening.

And so, it was his job both as the man of the family and the commander of the dwarven forces that he go to the families of the fallen and tell them of the bravery of their fallen loved ones.

Thorin had had to sit down with his sister and his nephews and explain that their father was not coming home. He was gone but he was in a better place.

He had been in battle beside Brogar when he heard the loud cry of pain as the father of his heirs was pierced through the heart with a crude Orc blade. Horror had filled the young prince's eyes as he watched his brother crumble to the ground, the blade still protruding from his chest. Thorin could clear as day hear the voice of the blonde dwarf that looked startlingly like Fili.

"Take care of my boys, Thorin." He had breathed before his eyes slowly closed. Those had been the last words he had spoken before passing into the next life.

Of course both of the children had wept for what felt like hours, Fili more so than Kili because the younger of the two was still too much of a child to understand that their father would never return home to them.

Thorin had tried his best to comfort the two young dwarves, telling them that he was to help raise them along with their mother, just as their father had asked. He was going to make sure that the two dwarflings would be taken care of for the sake of his own conscience and for the sake of carrying on the line of Durin.

The brothers had had a very rough childhood despite the fact that they were of royal blood, Kili having the most problems. He had been teased a lot in his younger years over the fact that he could't actually grow a thick beard even though both his brother and father had had one. And as he sat in the dark, Thorin realized that the joking had never really stopped. They had more or less just gotten old yet dwarves still made remarks about his nephew's stubbled cheeks.

"How old were they when he passed?"

"Fili was eleven and Kili was six." Ren felt her heart begin to ache in her chest as she thought about this revelation. The two brothers had lived without a father for nearly their whole lives.

The elf turned and looked across the clearing to find the brothers lying beside one another as they always were, right by the other's side. They were sharing a thick wool blanket that Beorn had been kind enough to provide for them, the air in the forest colder due to the lack of sunlight and because they were closer to the mountains meaning the altitude was higher.

"They were so young..." Thorin continued, his voice growing quiet as the memories continued to play through his head.

Neither of them had been the same dwarves since Brogar died.

Fili had decided to begin growing up soon afterwards, taking his responsibilities as heir to the throne of Erebor in stride. He began to both study and train more, wanting to be the best heir he could be for his Uncle. He was to take over should something happen to Thorin and he would be prepared for that day should it ever come.

The youngest heir, however, did not fair as well as his blonde brother.

Kili had fallen into a sort of depression. Despite the fact that he was young, he realized that something had happened to his father, he just didn't know what. The dark haired nephew had been somewhat of a father's boy though that had changed over the years due to the extra love his mother seemed to force upon him. And so, when their father died, Kili was a mess. It had devastated him.

He was nearly mute until he was himself was thirteen, the absence of his father causing him to withdraw into a shell and never come out. He had only ever spoken to Fili and even then it was only soft murmurs.

Kili had never been entirely fond of Thorin, not liking how he was trying to take the place of his father, almost like he was a replacement. This was also the cause for his silence.

It wasn't until his Uncle had decided to teach him archery that Kili began to speak again, for the young dwarf had found that he was rather fond of the bow and arrow instead of the typical dwarven weapons of axes, hammers, and swords.

"It seems as though you have done a fine job raising them then." Ren spoke back just as quietly, giving Thorin's hand a soft squeeze of reassurance. The dwarf said nothing for a moment before scoffing quietly, remembering the bitter looks that he had received from the both of his nephews over the years.

"I hardly did a thing. They have more or less raised one another." He admitted.

"Those two are inseparable..." The dwarf turned to face her, despite the fact that it was too dark to see her. The hand upon his fingers carefully removed it from her arm before slowly lowering it so that it rested upon the knee of her now crossed legs that was closest to him. Her fingers continued to hold onto his own before he slipped his hand from her grip and she felt disappointment wash through her as the warmth his skin provided left, only for his entire hand to engulf hers.

"Indeed."

"They are lucky to have one another. For I have known how dear they are to one another. My sister and I used to be the same way. Where you'd find one, the other would not be far behind, the elves learned that the hard way. At least, that was how it was before she got married..." She explained before quietly laughing, causing Thorin to raise his brow in interest before his lips pulled up slightly in a smile, having not heard a single sound of joy from her since their first day in the forest. "I used to get into so much trouble."

"You used to get into trouble? Your sister din't join you in reeking havoc?"

"No, she was always the one to get me out of the trouble. Always was the ambassador of our duo. She always cleaned up after the messes that I made. She could fix any problem with just her words, it always did amaze me..."

"So you were the instigator of the trouble?"

"Without a doubt but that changed long ago..." Ren's voice took on a softer tone as she spoke. "She is forever gone and just beyond my reach. She was more than just my sister, she was my best friend. She was my Fili and... I her Kili." Her voice broke with emotion at the end of her sad tale and this caused Thorin to frown softly. His eyes searched the darkness for her and he began to wonder if tears had begun to slip from her eyes.

"You will see her again one day."

"One can only hope, though I fear her voice is one of the many that torment me..." She explained and the two of them then fell into a long silence, though the air wasn't entirely uncomfortable. Ren suddenly felt sleep begin to tug at her again though she was fearful that the voices would return, for you see they had stopped when Thorin had awoken her.

A loud yawn suddenly came from her mouth, one that broke the silence between them and the dwarf knew that she was once again tired. She would need her rest the longer they stayed in the forest.

"You should go back to sleep." He told her and the female only turned to him with a look of worry written across her features, one that he couldn't see.

"I would if I could. I'm afraid that the nightmares and voices won't stop." She admitted and Thorin simply sat in the darkness for the longest time, a simple thought coming to his mind, one that may solve their problems.

It had worked for him in the past with his nephews and he wondered if it would work the same for her.

"When my nephew's dreams have been tainted in the past, I've found that music works wonders when soothing the restless mind..." He told her and Ren shifted uneasily beside him.

"What do you suggest...?" She asked after a moment of quiet and Thorin himself shifted slightly, finding that he was nervous. Him, nervous? He was of royal blood! Why should he be so nervous around a simple elf?

She sat for a moment and waited for him to do something and thought he had momentarily forgotten about her. However, that thought changed when she suddenly felt him begin to pull her towards him, his hand still enclosed around her own.

"Thorin, what-"

"Trust me." He murmured to her in a low tone as he slowly and carefully pulled her towards him. "Sit here." He commanded her and she didn't say a word as he continued to pull her forward.

Ren then found herself seated right beside him. His hand then released her own and she only looked at his dark silhouette, her brow raised in question, wanting to know exactly what he was doing. The elf maiden tensed as she felt an arm wrap around her shoulders, still unaware of his true intentions.

He was leaning back against the base of a tree as he sat in watch, leaned back slightly as he rested upon his pack.

Carefully pulling her towards him again with the arm wrapped around her shoulders, Ren's cheek soon came to rest upon the soft fur of his coat. She was still silent, her stomach beginning to do unnatural flips and twists that both excited and scared her.

Thorin himself felt uncomfortable feelings enter his gut as he pressed the female to his side, enjoying the feel of how her body felt in his arms. She was strong but lean, her body revealing to him just how great of a warrior she was despite the fact that she did not look the part at times.

The elf only continued to lay her head upon his shoulder, her hand placing itself upon his chest to brace herself. She had to fight the urge to simply bury her face into the soft furs and sleep for all eternity, his scent of pinewood, pipe smoke, and leather overwhelming her nostrils.

Swallowing the nervous lump in his throat, the dwarf prince began to hum, his voice low and Ren felt her heart stop beating in her chest for a moment.

It was like she was back in Bag End and she was hearing his wonderful voice for the very first time. It was so deep and smooth, she immediately closed her eyes and simply drank in the sound, loving the almost blissful state if put her in. The humming caused his chest to vibrate and as she continued to listen to the quiet tune he was humming, she realized that the voices had ceased to speak, almost as if they themselves had grown silent to listen to his silky voice.

Ren recognized the first song as the one that they had sung in the hobbit hole. Continuing to hum, Thorin couldn't help but let his hand drop from her shoulders and wrap carefully around her waist and he was surprised when she did not move or even tense.

Adjusting how she lay beside him, she stretched out more and lay more on his chest so that most of her body was now lying down on the ground. She still had her upper body lying more on top of him, her ear placed over his heart so that it may lull her to sleep as well.

Thorin stopped humming for a moment as Ren began to move again and he raised his arm off her shoulders so that she may get more comfortable. His body stiffened as she suddenly drew in closer to him. Her head came to rest high upon his chest, her silky hair brushing against his beard. Once she settled against his warm body, she seemed to curl into him further and his hand carefully lowered itself to rest on her waist again.

The dwarf resumed his singing and he did so until he was struggling to think of more songs to hum to her.

After he had grown silent, he was relieved to have found that she was silent and he thought her asleep until she spoke, causing him to nearly jump from his skin due to the interruption in the quiet forest around them.

"Why did you stop?" She asked and the dwarf shifted his hold on her before he rested his cheek against her soft hair, his own eyes beginning to grow heavier, his body enjoying the extra warmth provided by the female. Thorin said nothing and instead let his fingers began to toy with the bottom of her jerkin from nerves.

"I thought you asleep." He murmured, his cheek never leaving the top of her head. The female didn't say another word and simply let her fingers weave into the soft fur of his coat, her eyes sliding closed again.

With a small sigh, the dwarf lord began again, simply repeating the same songs that he had done before, a compilation of songs from both his childhood beneath the mountain and life elsewhere.

It didn't take long for Ren to fall asleep once he began to sing again. The elf easily fell prey to the low melodies and the vibrations in his chest, her body pressed against his as they provided warmth for one another.

His hand had since then moved from hip and had begun to rub her back in soothing circles. And even after she had fallen asleep, he did not cease in his humming.

It did wonders for him to stay awake and yet there was always a tug at the back of his mind, reminding him that if he stopped singing, the elf maiden would then be plagued with horrifying nightmares. And when he grew bored of the humming, he decided to switch and began to speak softly in the ancient dwarven language, simply talking in hopes of helping her continue to rest peacefully.

And as Thorin lay in the darkness, he began to find that the uncomfortable feeling was gone from his stomach. His hatred towards elves, or rather, Ren, was nearly nonexistent. He had accepted her as who she was and not by the shape of her ears.

In the short time since they had arrived at Beorn's, the dwarf had found that he was beginning to see passed her race and instead, he was seeing the lovely woman underneath. She was genuine in her actions in the past, having actually helped the dwarves or rather, attempted to and that made Thorin reconsider his anger towards her.

With her pressed into his side, he found that it felt almost... wonderful. Like she was supposed to be there, safe and secure in his strong arms, protected from all the evils of her past, present, and future.

However, the dwarf was unsure about the first nervous flutterings in his stomach when ever he thought about his feelings towards her. He was scared of his feelings towards her and it seemed as though she were just as timid.

He was afraid to admit that something, something akin to a small ember had been lit between them.

However, he would need to give himself time to think. Time to let his mind work and set his priorities straight. And until then, he would place some distance between the two of them so that he would have time to figure out his feelings in case he decided otherwise.

Yet as he moved to ease the female back onto the ground beside him, he found that he would not do so on that night. For she needed rest and he seemed to help her find enough peace to do so and she herself seemed to cause his heart to grow warmer.

Hey guys!

What's up, yo?! Just kidding.

Sorry this chapter took forever to get up. I've just been really busy as of late and to be honest, I had a bit of writer's block for this chapter.

I found it hard having to describe Thorin and Ren together in the dark so I had to imagine what it was like without being able to see. It was a mighty challenge.

So, yeah. Did you like the fluff?

Thorin is actually being nicer to her. However, that will change a bit in the next chapter which I already have written. I was going to combine the next chapter and this one together but by the time I was finished it was 13,000 words long.

So, don't be surprised if Thorin becomes jerkish again next chapter.

And I've gotten a lot of people who like my Tumblr! That's awesome!

Now, to respond to a few messages that I've received concerning the cover art:

Ren's build is sort of more described in this chapter. She is lanky abut she is still strong underneath her soft appearance but that does not mean she isn't a woman. She is also tall but she is shorter than Gandalf but a few inches taller than Thorin. She is just tall enough to bump into Bilbo's poor chandelier in Bag End.

Okay, now clothes.

The tunics stop about mid-thigh but they are normally tucked in. The neckline is more of a wider crew neck with a slight 'v' down the front yet it is extremely modest. Her tunic is long sleeved with just regular sleeves so that she may tuck it into the fingerless, dark brown leather gauntlets she wears.

The style of her jerkin is more armor-styled leather vest so that it provided some protection for her and it's laced up the front.

The color scheme does not really matter. I would like more mild colors like greens and blues for her wardrobe I guess and her leggings are brown whereas her boots are a darker brown.

You know, if some of my stuff just doesn't match up, just go ahead and make whatever you want. I really don't pay attention to her physical being and have been writing more about her inner thoughts and feelings lately.

So, yeah. Just go ahead.

But anyway. I need to go do my homework now. It's late here in America and I will probably be in a lot of trouble with my madre.

Thanks again guys. I got 27 reviews last chapter! I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH! You are the greatest people on the fact of the Earth and I want to hug you all!

Anyway, stay tuned for the next chapter which will be full of angst, spiders, feelings, and elves!

YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, READ AND REVIEW!

Love,

Blue

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