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A King's Bond, A Prince's Heart

Chapter Text

A pained howl bounced off the walls of the expertly hewn cave. The laboring mother lay on a pile of lush furs and pelts, her sisters doing everything they could to make the birth easier. On the opposite side of the tapestries which separated them from the remainder of the cave, a white-haired man with piercing blue eyes paced, his pale hands clutched behind his back. "Please, Dimaethor." A blonde male with pointed ears gently spoke up from his seat next to the wall. "Worrying yourself will do Malrin no good." Dimaethor sighed, running his clawed fingers through his thick white tresses, displaying his pointed ears.

"I realize that, Thranduil. But…" The Elven King tilted his head. "But I cannot fight the urge much longer. She is my mate. I am bound by instinct to protect her." Thranduil sighed softly.

"She is not being attacked, mellon. She is giving birth to your heir." Dimaethor nodded, knowing he was right. Thranduil motioned for Dimaethor to sit. "Now please. Sit." With a heavy sigh, Dimaethor sunk beside his friend.

"I am grateful you are here, Thranduil. I do not know if I would be able to handle this alone." The Elf smirked softly.

"That is what I am here for, mellon."

~Ÿ~

"Alpha." Dimaethor looked up when a maid poked her head through the gap in the tapestries. The birth had lasted for more than two hours, and many of Dimaethor's fellows had joined their leader in support of his mate. The females had taken turns relieving each other, giving the laboring mother fresh support. "You may come in now."

"Good luck." Dimaethor clasped forearms with Thranduil, nodding. With a deep breath, he stepped through the tapestries. Once his eyes adjusted to the lower light, he felt his heart swell with love and pride.

His mate, Malrin, lay resting on the furs. A blanket made of deer skin rested over her body. Her blonde hair was slicked to her forehead with sweat, and her breathing was still slightly shallow. Nevertheless, her blue eyes cracked open when she felt another presence, smiling at the sight of her mate. "Hello, my love." Dimaethor quickly crossed the room, kneeling by her side. She smiled at him, leaning her head into his hand when he rested it on her hair.

"Hello, my heart." Malrin's smile grew. With some effort, she sat up on her elbow. In doing so, the blanket fell aside to reveal the wrapped bundle cuddled to her chest. Dimaethor's breath caught in his throat.

"Say hello to your daughter." Carefully, Dimaethor slipped his clawed fingers under the bundle. With the touch of a moth, he lifted the infant into his arms, turning her to see her face. His eyes widened at the sight.

The babe had white hair, same as him.

"Malrin…" he breathed, unable to say anymore. Malrin smirked at him.

"She has eyes of starlight." She whispered. Reaching a hand up, she stroked a cheek of the infant with the back of her claw. "She has your stare, too." As if the newborn could understand her mother, her eyelids fluttered open, revealing irises of light grey. She stared up at her father, an inquisitive whimper rumbling in her throat. Dimaethor growled back, comforting the infant in his arms. The babe giggled, showing off toothless pink gums.

"Did you think of a name, love?" Dimaethor nodded. Lifting a hand, he waggled his finger at the child. She latched onto his finger, instinctively avoiding his claw. Malrin smiled tiredly. "Well, go tell the others. I'm too tired."

"Of course." Dimaethor kissed her forehead. "I love you, my heart. I'm proud of you." Malrin hummed contentedly.

"Thank you, but she is the only one. Ever." The white-haired male chuckled.

"As you wish." Once Malrin drifted into sleep's sweet embrace, Dimaethor stood. Careful to not jostle his newborn daughter, he walked out from behind the tapestries. The council had gathered whilst he was inside, and all stood when he emerged.

"Behold, Lothiualmerilin Silefphind," Dimaethor turned the babe so all could see her. All gathered gasped at the sight of her snow white hair and light grey eyes, which swept curiously across the room. "My heir and the next Nimpgorphen of the Northern Pack."

A pained howl bounced off the walls of the expertly hewn cave. The laboring mother lay on a pile of lush furs and pelts, her sisters doing everything they could to make the birth easier. On the opposite side of the tapestries which separated them from the remainder of the cave, a white-haired man with piercing blue eyes paced, his pale hands clutched behind his back. "Please, Dimaethor." A blonde male with pointed ears gently spoke up from his seat next to the wall. "Worrying yourself will do Malrin no good." Dimaethor sighed, running his clawed fingers through his thick white tresses, displaying his pointed ears.

"I realize that, Thranduil. But…" The Elven King tilted his head. "But I cannot fight the urge much longer. She is my mate. I am bound by instinct to protect her." Thranduil sighed softly.

"She is not being attacked, mellon. She is giving birth to your heir." Dimaethor nodded, knowing he was right. Thranduil motioned for Dimaethor to sit. "Now please. Sit." With a heavy sigh, Dimaethor sunk beside his friend.

"I am grateful you are here, Thranduil. I do not know if I would be able to handle this alone." The Elf smirked softly.

"That is what I am here for, mellon."

~Ÿ~

"Alpha." Dimaethor looked up when a maid poked her head through the gap in the tapestries. The birth had lasted for more than two hours, and many of Dimaethor's fellows had joined their leader in support of his mate. The females had taken turns relieving each other, giving the laboring mother fresh support. "You may come in now."

"Good luck." Dimaethor clasped forearms with Thranduil, nodding. With a deep breath, he stepped through the tapestries. Once his eyes adjusted to the lower light, he felt his heart swell with love and pride.

His mate, Malrin, lay resting on the furs. A blanket made of deer skin rested over her body. Her blonde hair was slicked to her forehead with sweat, and her breathing was still slightly shallow. Nevertheless, her blue eyes cracked open when she felt another presence, smiling at the sight of her mate. "Hello, my love." Dimaethor quickly crossed the room, kneeling by her side. She smiled at him, leaning her head into his hand when he rested it on her hair.

"Hello, my heart." Malrin's smile grew. With some effort, she sat up on her elbow. In doing so, the blanket fell aside to reveal the wrapped bundle cuddled to her chest. Dimaethor's breath caught in his throat.

"Say hello to your daughter." Carefully, Dimaethor slipped his clawed fingers under the bundle. With the touch of a moth, he lifted the infant into his arms, turning her to see her face. His eyes widened at the sight.

The babe had white hair, same as him.

"Malrin…" he breathed, unable to say anymore. Malrin smirked at him.

"She has eyes of starlight." She whispered. Reaching a hand up, she stroked a cheek of the infant with the back of her claw. "She has your stare, too." As if the newborn could understand her mother, her eyelids fluttered open, revealing irises of light grey. She stared up at her father, an inquisitive whimper rumbling in her throat. Dimaethor growled back, comforting the infant in his arms. The babe giggled, showing off toothless pink gums.

"Did you think of a name, love?" Dimaethor nodded. Lifting a hand, he waggled his finger at the child. She latched onto his finger, instinctively avoiding his claw. Malrin smiled tiredly. "Well, go tell the others. I'm too tired."

"Of course." Dimaethor kissed her forehead. "I love you, my heart. I'm proud of you." Malrin hummed contentedly.

"Thank you, but she is the only one. Ever." The white-haired male chuckled.

"As you wish." Once Malrin drifted into sleep's sweet embrace, Dimaethor stood. Careful to not jostle his newborn daughter, he walked out from behind the tapestries. The council had gathered whilst he was inside, and all stood when he emerged.

"Behold, Lothiualmerilin Silefphind," Dimaethor turned the babe so all could see her. All gathered gasped at the sight of her snow white hair and light grey eyes, which swept curiously across the room. "My heir and the next Nimpgorphen of the Northern Pack."

Chapter Text

A blonde Elf ran through the trees. His breathing was shallow in his chest. In his left hand was clutched a bow. His right held the notch of the arrow securely to the string. Jumping over a ravine, his senses were on overdrive as he raced around a boulder.

The pounding of heavy paws echoed through the earth. Harsh panting filled his ears, making it difficult to tell from what direction came the source. The very earth seemed to tremble from the weight of his pursuer. The sharp skidding of claws sounded as the massive animal rounded the corner, only to stop short at the sight of an arrow pointing directly in between their eyes.

After an intense moment, both started to laugh.

"I have never run so fast in my life!" The Elf panted, the light of youth and adrenaline spiking in his eyes. He returned the arrow to his quiver, lowering his bow. His pursuer sat on her haunches, licking her jowls with her pink tongue. "I can see why you are able to fight so long. You're hardly out of breath, mellon." The massive animal snorted, standing to shake leaves and sticks out of her snow white fur. She nudged him with her large, black nose, before turning to disappear behind some trees. The Elfling sat on a rock, tending to his bow as he awaited her return.

"You need to work on watching your surroundings." A soft, feminine voice made him look up. "You almost ran into five dead ends." The Elfling snorted, lightly leaping off the rock.

"Almost, my dear Merilin. Almost." He slung an arm around her shoulders, feeling the muscle that rippled beneath her dark indigo shirt and brown leather corset when she shrugged. Her irises of starlight sparkled with mischief moments before she elbowed him in the side. It wasn't meant to harm, so no strength was behind the strike, but he pouted nonetheless.

"Alright, Your Highness." She teased. "Now what was it that you were going to teach me?" This time, it was his eyes of open sky that sparkled with mischief. Before his companion could ask, he jumped up into a tree. He sat on a branch, smirking down at her.

"How to climb." The female crossed her arms, her clawed fingers splaying across her defined biceps.

"Legolas Greenleaf, Gorphen do not climb." His smirk grew.

"Oh. I wasn't aware Lothiualmerilin Silefphind was afraid." The spark of offense lit up her eyes.

"I am not afraid."

"Then get up here." The white-haired female hesitated for a moment, before sighing through her nose.

"Alright. Show me how."

~Ÿ~

"My king." Thranduil looked up from his book to see a young, redheaded elleth standing in the doorway. "Prince Legolas and Lady Lothiualmerilin have returned."

"Thank you Tauriel." She bowed, closing the door behind her.

"They seem to be getting along well." Thranduil turned his head so he could look at the owner of the voice. A white-haired male with bright blue eyes stood from where he had been sitting by the fire.

"Indeed." They walked out together, still speaking. "I must thank you, Dimaethor." The white-haired male tilted his head.

"What for, my friend?"

"For introducing your daughter to my son." Thranduil's visage darkened ever so slightly. "This is hard for me to admit, but I had failed to find a way to bring joy back into Legolas' life. Ever since the death of his mother, he lost most of the happiness he once possessed… but Lothiualmerilin has brought that back into his life." Thranduil momentarily locked eyes with Dimaethor. "So I thank you." Dimaethor smirked softly, showing off a fang.

"Well, thank you for allowing me to steal your captain of the guard." Thranduil cracked a small smirk.

"I couldn't have stopped Malrin if I tried. She always was hardheaded."

"Like her young successor." Dimaethor remarked. "I see Tauriel is growing into a fine young Elf." Thranduil nodded.

"Indeed." They turned a corner, watching as Legolas and Lothiualmerilin emerged from the stables. Thranduil felt his heart warm at the sight of his son laughing with the young Gorphen female. Dimaethor smirked at the sight of his daughter teasing the young woodland Prince.

"Father!" Lothiualmerilin smiled, waving at him. They butted heads slightly, growling at each other.

"Hello my daughter. Did you enjoy yourselves?" Both nodded. Thranduil swept a piercing gaze over his son.

"You are winded." Legolas nodded slightly.

"Merilin is helping me with my endurance. I am becoming much faster." Lothiualmerilin snorted softly.

"About time. It has only been three hundred years." Legolas rolled his eyes, elbowing her. She laughed it off, her fangs catching the low light.

"Laugh it up now. I'll get you back." Lothiualmerilin clamped her mouth shut, her alabaster skin paling another shade.

"Eru no. I am never climbing another tree again." Dimaethor's eyes widened.

"You climbed a tree?"

"No." Lothiualmerilin sighed heavily. "Legolas made me climb three hundred." Legolas smirked this time.

"One for every year we’ve been training.” Lothiualmerilin growled at him, jabbing a claw into his hip.

"Just you wait. I won't hold back next time."

"Bring it." The two glared playfully at each other, much to the amusement of their fathers.

"If you two are done mentally killing each other…" Thranduil's gentle voice snapped them from their staring contest. "Perhaps we could have something to eat." Lothiualmerilin blushed slightly, while Legolas looked away.

"Of course." Legolas pushed Lothiualmerilin slightly, causing her to stumble a step.

"Race you!"

"Low move, Blondie!" Lothiualmerilin jumped over her father's head, racing after the young Elf. Their fathers watched them fondly, following at a more leisurely pace.

"They are wonderful together."

"Don't get your hopes up, Dimaethor. They are still young. They have time."

~Ÿ~

“Merilin!” The white-haired female looked up at the sound of a deep voice, smiling at the owner when she spotted him.

“Thráin!” She briskly walked over to the Dwarf, kneeling so she could embrace him. “It is so good to see you, my friend. How have you been?”

“Quite well, thank you.” The Prince of Erebor smiled up at his friend. Though she had known him since the day he was born, she looked no older than she had when he was a child. Comparatively, his face had aged considerably, his beard now reaching to his hips. “And you? It has been a while since I have last seen you.” Lothiualmerilin nodded, walking alongside the Prince as they ambled their way through Dale.

“I accompanied my father to a meeting of elders on the other side of the Misty Mountains. It was a long journey, but necessary to maintain good relations between the packs.” Thráin looked up at the woman. Her starlight eyes were subdued with thoughts of the past.

“What is wrong, my friend?” Lothiualmerilin shook her head, dismissing her thoughts and his question.

“It is nothing.” She smiled reassuringly. “How has your father been?”

“He is doing fantastic.” Thráin gloated, the guards before the gate bowing to them as they entered the halls of Erebor. “We made an interesting discovery several months ago, and it has given my father power we have never seen before.” Lothiualmerilin’s brow knitted. As she had known Thráin since his birth, she had been present at Thrór’s as well. She worried for her oldest friend, having sensed the weakening of his mind before she left eight months prior.

“What was this discovery?”

“That.” Thráin pointed to the shining gem that adorned Thrór’s throne. Lothiualmerilin’s eyes widened, entranced by its ethereal glow. It seemed to pulse, as if it had a heartbeat. “The Heart of the Mountain, our most sacred treasure.” Lothiualmerilin tore her gaze away from the stone to stare at Thráin. His voice had taken on a tone that disconcerted her greatly. “The Arkenstone.”

~Ÿ~

“Dís!” The Princess whirled around, a brilliant smile splitting her face.

“Merilin!” Lothiualmerilin grinned, striding over to her. Of all of Thráin’s children, she got along with Dís the best. Of course, she was the only Dwarven woman that the Nimpgorphen knew, not to mention she was the youngest of Thráin’s children: she was only four. The Princess broke away from her nanny, running to Lothiualmerilin. The Nimpgorphen scooped the little girl up, twirling her around. She giggled, wrapping her arms around the whitette’s neck. “Welcome back!”

“Thank you, my dear.” Lothiualmerilin kneeled, placing the little Princess. “How have you been?”

“Great! Though I missed you a lot.” Dís leaned in, a sneaky expression on her face. “Big Brother has really missed you too.” Lothiualmerilin leaned in as well, her expression mimicking the young Dwarf’s.

“Is that so?” Both giggled.

“What is this?” Both turned around to see Thorin and Frerin walking in, smiles on their faces. From their garb, they had just returned from a hunting trip. Frerin was the one who had spoken. “Are you two having a joke at our expense?”

“Possibly.” Lothiualmerilin chuckled, turning around so both could embrace her. “Hm.” She hummed in pleasure as a familiar scent wafted into her nose. “Venison?”

“It never ceases to scare me what you are able to find out with that nose.” Thorin teased her, his slate-blue eyes sparking in merriment. Lothiualmerilin laughed, slinging an arm around the eldest Prince’s shoulders.

“There is no need for you to fear me, my friend. Unless you’re trying to hide something from me, in which case I would find out very quickly what it is.” Frerin shook his head. Despite only being fourteen, he was already a formidable warrior. Lothiualmerilin didn’t doubt Thorin helped with that.

The eldest Prince already carried much of the responsibility of heir to the throne of Erebor, despite only being nineteen himself.

“Where have you been, Merilin?” Dis asked, her eyes shining in innocence. The Nimpgorphen chuckled, sweeping the child up onto her hip as she walked with the Princes.

“I have my own people to watch over, young one.” Lothiualmerilin smiled, nodding at Balin as they passed. The advisor smiled in return, bowing to his princes and princess. “We have a vast family, so it is necessary from time to time for the elders to meet to ensure we are doing all we can to thrive.”

“Where were you meeting this time?” Thorin asked, his eyes shining in curiosity.

“Imladris. Lord Elrond was kind enough to allow us to host our meeting in his home this year.” Lothiualmerilin smiled softly at the thought. “It seems my uncle, the Alpha of the Western Pack, has established and maintained a steady friendship with the Lord of the Last Homely House.”

“Could you take us with you the next time you go?” Lothiualmerilin stared down at Frerin. “I’ve always wanted to see the relatives of King Thranduil. I wonder if they are any different than he is.” The whitette smiled softly.

“If your father and grandfather allow it, I would be more than pleased to bring you with me.”

~Ÿ~

“Catch up, Calithilon!” The brunette male chuckled at his adoptive older sister.

“Easy, Lothiual. I am right behind you.” The whitette rolled her eyes, playfully glaring at her younger brother. Though not related by blood, she cared for him as deeply as if they had been born twins.

It was twenty-five years after the birth of Thráin that she had found the young elf, wounded and starving in the high peaks of the Misty Mountains. She had taken him in and nursed him back to health. Her mother was all too willing to help, and gave him the name Calithilon, which means Moon Light, for it was by the light of the full moon that Lothiualmerilin found him. Now, at the age of seventy-nine, he was growing into a fine young Elf.

“There you two are!” Dimaethor turned around, glowering at his children. “You’re late.”

“Apologies Father.” Calithilon bowed his head respectfully. “It was my fault.” Dimaethor sighed after a few moments, shaking his head.

“No matter. Just ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

“Yes Father.” The two chorused. Malrin was waiting for them outside of the cave. Lothiualmerilin kissed her mother’s cheek before following her father into the cave, Calithilon staying with Malrin. The two Nimpgorphen took their places at the head of the cave, Lothiualmerilin sitting on Dimaethor’s right.

“Please begin, Elder.” Dimaethor said once he was settled.

“Our brothers in the West have seen more Rogue activity of late.” Lothiualmerilin narrowed her eyes.

“It is not uncommon for them to become more active during the summer.” She mentioned.

“Yes.” The Elder agreed slowly. “But not in these numbers. Packs of eighteen or more have been spotted frequently. We know they are different packs because each has a different leader.” Dimaethor and Lothiualmerilin glanced at each other.

“This is disconcerting. How often have these packs been seen?”

“Thrice within the past two weeks.” Dimaethor looked at his daughter again.

“Did you hear about this in the meeting?”

“It was mentioned, but the topic moved away before I could question them further.” Lothiualmerilin pressed her palms together, leaning her nose on her fingertips. “When I tried to bring it up later, the Alpha refused to speak with me.”

“I see.” Dimaethor nodded, his expression grave. “This is indeed a problem.”

“Lothiualmerilin.” The whitette looked up when an Elder said her name. “Is that all?” She narrowed her eyes, realizing what he was actually saying, but nodded nonetheless.

“Yes.” She stood. Without saying a word, she left the cave. Calithilon had left, but Malrin was still there. Her golden tresses sparkled in the sunlight, her light blue eyes narrowing sympathetically at the sight of her daughter.

“Blossom?” Lothiualmerilin’s tense shoulders relaxed when her mother called her by her childhood nickname. “What is wrong?” The Elf laid a gentle hand on her daughter’s shoulders, directing her into the forest.

“They still treat me like a child.” Lothiualmerilin groaned. “I am almost six hundred years old! I am far from being a child.”

“I know, my dear.” The two sat down on a rock next to a gentle stream. Malrin situated herself behind her daughter, threading her fingers through her thick white tresses. Lothiualmerilin hummed in pleasure, closing her eyes. “That is not the only thing that is bothering you, is it?”

“I should know better than to try to hide something from you.” Lothiualmerilin sighed. Malrin’s eyes flickered to her face before returning her gaze to her daughter’s hair as she braided it. “The Dwarves have found a stone from the heart of Erebor.” Malrin’s brow knitted in confusion.

“I cannot say I am following, dear.”

“Ordinarily, it would not be a problem. All kinds of precious jewels come from the mountain.”

“Including the one you wear.” Lothiualmerilin lifted a hand to clasp the necklace that hung around her neck. It was a hexagon made of silver with intricate lines cut out of it, the remaining lines having diamonds embedded in them. In the center was a beautiful, deep-red ruby cut in the same shape. It had been a gift from Thorin on her five hundred eighty-eighth birthday. He had been fifteen at the time, and was practicing his forging abilities. Lothiualmerilin hadn’t taken it off since he gave it to her.

“Yes… but this one is different. It glows and pulses as if it is alive.” Malrin sat back, finished with the braid. It was an elaborate waterfall along one side of her head. Malrin had braided the falling strands before loosely braiding them back, causing them to drape gracefully over Lothiualmerilin’s pointed ear.

“Alive?”

“Yes. What’s worse…” Lothiualmerilin’s grip on her necklace tightened. “Is that it seems to have put a spell on Thrór and Thráin. Thrór’s desire for gold has become even more fierce, Thráin is succumbing to it as well, and neither are listening to me anymore.” Malrin’s eyes filled with the sadness that was threatening to take over her daughter's heart.

Malrin knew how deeply her daughter cared for the Dwarves of Erebor. Ever since she had first seen Thrór as a babe, she was fascinated by the mortal race. She had, in many ways, grown up alongside Thrór, and both had been integral in the development of each other’s abilities as leaders. Thrór’s coronation, his marriage, the birth of his heirs… Lothiualmerilin had been present for all of it, just as he had been present for her transformation and coming of age ceremony, as well as her first battle. He had introduced her to the other Dwarf Lords. They had met Gandalf the Grey at the same time.

The bond they had quite literally transcended generations, as Lothiualmerilin had continued to stand by Thrór’s side as Thráin was born, and eventually Thorin and his siblings.

“Oh my darling Blossom.” Malrin hugged her daughter, petting her hair. “I do not know at this time what the Valar has planned, but I do know that all you can do is continue to stand by his side as you have all these years. If you abandon him now, I know you will lose him. Perhaps, continuing to be by his side is all he will need to return to the Dwarf you knew.”

“Thank you Mother.” Lothiualmerilin closed her eyes, falling asleep in her mother’s arms. As her daughter slept, Malrin stared out into the forest.

‘I shall speak with Gandalf about this. Perhaps he will know what to do.’

Chapter Text

“Lothiualmerilin.” The whitette snapped out of her sleep, her head whipping around to face the voice. Calithilon was crouched next to her, his blue-green eyes filled with worry. “You were whimpering in your sleep. Are you alright?”

“Yes.” She croaked, her throat dry from sleep. She sat up, her blanket falling off her shoulders.

“What were you dreaming about?” He asked gently. Lothiualmerilin stared into the fire, her starlit eyes glazed over.

“I was dreaming of the day I told Mother about the Arkenstone.” Calithilon swallowed uncomfortably. He reached out, taking his sister’s left hand in his right. The rough, scarred skin felt foreign against the smooth skin of his own hand. He looked down at her arm. The burn scar covered ninety-five percent of her forearm, with only a small sliver of skin on the underside remaining unmarred. He still remembered vividly the day she had received this scar.

The day Smaug attacked, four years to the day of their mother’s death.

“Do you think they got what they deserved?” Lothiualmerilin glanced at her brother. “The Dwarves I mean.”

“Thrór and Thráin deserved a fate worse than dragon fire.” The Nimpgorphen snarled, her eyes flashing in hate for the ones she had once considered her closest friends. “But…” the heat cooled, pity overtaking the flame. “I did not wish that fate on their people, nor Thorin and his siblings.”

“Is that why you saved Dís?” Lothiualmerilin nodded, her own eyes flickering to her scarred arm.

“I left them to suffer through their grandfather’s madness and father’s obstinacy for four years. I count myself lucky she doesn’t hate me.”

“You saved her life. How could she?”

“I didn’t save Frerin or Víli. Now Dís must live without one of her brothers and her husband, and Dís’ newest son will grow up without ever knowing his father. Since Fíli is only five years old, he is growing up without memory of either of them as well.” Lothiualmerilin swallowed, taking her hand from her brother’s.

“They were in the middle of a battle. You couldn’t have found Frerin before he was slain, and what happened to Víli was beyond anyone’s power.” Calithilon soothed her. It was not the first time Lothiualmerilin had these episodes. She would blame herself for things outside her power. Even though it had been over one hundred years since Smaug took the mountain, and almost fifty since the Battle of Azanulbizar, she still blamed herself for not doing more for Thorin’s people. Frerin had been slain at the Battle of Azanulbizar, and Víli had recently been killed by a bear during a hunting trip.1

Calithilon supposed he could thank Gandalf for the return Lothiualmerilin’s heart. After their mother was killed, she had sworn she would kill any Dwarf she saw, even if they carried Gorphen blood. Their father wasn’t much better. He hadn’t left his forest in a century, leaving the two of them to maintain relations with the other Gorphen packs.

The Wizard had been present at one of the meetings in Imladris. Calithilon had asked him to speak to Lothiualmerilin after the meeting had ended. It seemed the Wizard had acquiesced to the Elf’s request, for he didn’t see either of them for two days. When Lothiualmerilin had returned, she had hugged Calithilon, something she hadn’t done in years.

It was then he knew that his sister was returning.

Once they had returned home, Lothiualmerilin snuck back into Dale, hoping to find a sign of Thorin or his siblings. Dís had found her first, the two sneaking into the forest. Despite her young age, Dís was very understanding of the situation. The two had agreed to not speak to the men about their meeting, since Thrór and Thráin were becoming worse, and Thorin held some resentment towards her as well.

They continued meeting in secret for years. The day Smaug attacked, Dís and Lothiualmerilin had agreed to visit the site where the Nimpgorphen’s mother had been slain four years prior. When the dragon forced his way into the mountain, Lothiualmerilin followed on his heels, helping Dwarves out of the mountain and away from the flames. As she helped Balin escape, he had told her that Dís was still in her room.

The Nimpgorphen had run through the halls, still knowing them as well as the day she had left. Guards and warriors had left, likely to fight the dragon and then escape, leaving the Princess alone. Her frightened cries made it all too easy for the Nimpgorphen to find her. Her door was already in flames, but Lothiualmerilin paid them no mind, breaking through the solid oak door.

Dís was huddled in the back of her room, hugging a doll to her chest. Lothiualmerilin had grabbed the girl and wrapped her in a slightly scorched blanket. As she tried to escape, a beam had fallen on them. Lothiualmerilin blocked the flaming wood with her left hand, shouting in pain as the flames licked at her skin. She left her sleeve behind, the cloth having been pinned by the beam. After leaving Dís with Balin, the Nimpgorphen had transformed and fled the scene. She nursed her wounds in secret, hiding them under cloaks and long sleeves.

After they lost the mountain, Lothiualmerilin shadowed the exiled people, protecting them in secret. Calithilon had covered for her, saying she was traveling to visit their kin in the Blue Mountains. Dimaethor had agreed, and was no wiser to why his daughter was following the murderers of his mate. Both Lothiualmerilin and Calithilon decided to keep it that way.

At that moment, they were visiting Dís. She had recently given birth to another son. Lothiualmerilin had originally traveled there for Fíli's birthday, but upon seeing how close Dís was to giving birth, she had decided to stay to ensure the birth went well.

“It’s almost midnight.” Lothiualmerilin looked up from the fire to the sky.

“You’re right.” Calithilon smiled, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“You should go. You don’t want to be late.” Lothiualmerilin turned her head to stare at him. He smiled. “Go. I’ll be here when you return.” She nodded.

“Very well then.” Lothiualmerilin stood, brushing off her pants. She ruffled Calithilon’s hair before vanishing into the shadows. The Elf smiled, returning his attention to the fire.

Lothiualmerilin slipped through the trees, her natural instincts making her footfalls soft as snow. Her eyes had long since adjusted to the dark, allowing her to see as well as she did during the day. It helped that there was a full moon.

It did not take long before she drew closer to the Dwarven village. Thorin had built a large home for his family near the head of the village, suiting of the Prince. It made it easier for Lothiualmerilin to visit his sister, since his house was close to the edge of the forest. The Nimpgorphen crouched on a rock ledge above the house, watching the scene through the window.

Dís was lying in bed, stroking the head of her newborn son. Thorin was standing next to her right, pride beaming from every pore as he stared down at the babe, his arm wrapped around the shoulders of his sister. On Dís’ left, sitting very still on the bed, was Fíli, his golden locks just barely brushing his shoulders. His head was tilted, no doubt staring in awe at his little brother. Lothiualmerilin smiled tenderly, remembering a scene much like that one.

When Frerin had been born, Thorin had been sitting just like Fíli, his sky blue eyes staring in awe and joy at the life his mother had brought into the world. Lothiualmerilin didn’t doubt Fíli looked just like Thorin did.

‘I was allowed to be present for that birth.’ She thought, an arrow of sorrow piercing her heart. ‘I suppose I brought it on myself. If I hadn’t allowed my rage and hate to blind me, perhaps I would still be able to speak with him.’

“I am exhausted, dear Brother. Could you take Fíli to bed?” Dís’ voice snapped the Nimpgorphen from her thoughts.

“Of course, Sister.” Thorin tenderly touched his forehead to Dís’, smiling broadly. “Come Fíli.”

“Yes Uncle!” Fíli gingerly climbed off the bed after he kissed his mother on the cheek, taking his uncle’s hand as they exited the room.

“Thorin.” The Dwarf froze, turning around. “Would you mind opening the window? It’s a mite stifling in here.”

“As you wish.” Leaving Fíli in the doorway, Thorin walked over to the window to push it open slightly. “Is that alright?”

“Perfect, thank you.” Thorin nodded, smiling fondly at the two on the bed before leaving the room with his eldest nephew, gently closing the door behind them. Within ten minutes, only the light from Dís’ fire shone from the house.

“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show.” Dís hissed softly. Lothiualmerilin chuckled softly as she gently alighted from the windowsill. Her bare feet made no noise on the wooden floors. She stealthily made her way over to Dís, easing her weight onto the bed. The tired mother smiled up at her friend.

“Hello dear one.” Lothiualmerilin kissed Dís’ forehead, tilting her own head down to look upon the babe sleeping in his mother’s arms. “He is beautiful.”

“He has his father’s smile.” Dís’ voice choked up when she mentioned her passed husband, but remained strong.

“And his mother’s beauty.” Lothiualmerilin soothed, brushing her hair down.

“Would you like to hold him?” Lothiualmerilin’s silver eyes widened. Dís smiled comfortingly. “I trust you, Merilin. Besides, you held Fíli. It would be unfair to not let you hold Kíli.”

“Kíli, hm? A fitting name for an heir to the Line of Durin.” Lothiualmerilin smiled down at the babe. Slowly, she slipped her clawed fingers under the blanketed bundle, lifting the babe out of his mother’s arms. He did not wake. “I see he sleeps like his mother as well.” Dís pouted, making Lothiualmerilin chuckle. “I shall stay with you again, should you like.”

“Yes, please.” Dís yawned, snuggling deeper into her pillows and blankets. “He will be a troublesome one.” Lothiualmerilin chuckled again, tucking the woman in as she had when she was a child.

“Nothing I haven’t handled before.” Lothiualmerilin smirked, standing. She watched as Dís fell asleep, rocking her own body back and forth slightly to keep Kíli asleep. She walked to the window, closing it slightly so no one would see her in the room. She then took up her place at the foot of Dís’ bed, sitting on the trunk that rested there. The fire danced in front of her, warming the room.

“Ssh, ssh.” Lothiualmerilin hushed Kíli, who had started to fuss. She bounced him softly, attempting to stimulate the rocking a babe is used to in the womb. He quieted down some, but refused to go back to sleep. He had awoken in the arms of someone other than his mother, and was very curious. Lothiualmerilin chuckled, shifting her grip on him so she could hold him with one arm. “Your mother is right: you will be a troublemaker. Only hours old and you are already this curious.” her hushed whisper was full of pride as if he had been her own.

Soft footfalls snapped her from her reverie. From the soft pad, Lothiualmerilin knew exactly who it was. She smirked, positioning herself so she wouldn’t be seen until her newcomer had entered the room.

The moment the door opened, Lothiualmerilin put a finger to her lips, a silent sign. Fíli beamed, nodding. He swiftly closed the door, ensuring it was silent. When he whirled, Lothiualmerilin made a patting motion, telling him to slow down. He nodded again, tiptoeing across the room.

“Your mother is asleep.” She hissed. Fíli smiled and nodded yet again, clambering up onto the trunk next to the Nimpgorphen.

“Have you come down from heaven to visit Mother again?” Lothiualmerilin smiled. Fíli believed her to be a messenger from Mahal, a protector for their family. If he ever spoke of her to his uncle, Thorin brushed it off as child’s folly, and Dís simply nodded along as a mother would to the story of her child.

Thorin didn’t know it was Dís that had told Fíli the story, however, and he didn’t know that the protector of his family was the same as she had been for generations.

“Yes.” The Nimpgorphen played along. “I heard that a new heir to the Line of Durin was to be born. I had to see for myself.”

“Is he going to be strong? Is he going to be a warrior?” Fíli asked excitedly. Lothiualmerilin pretended to look critically at the babe, who stared back in wonder.

“Yes indeed.” Lothiualmerilin nodded solemnly. “He will be a fine warrior and a strong Prince, if he is raised correctly.” Lothiualmerilin turned her “critical” stare to the five-year-old. “Are you up to the task, my young Warrior Prince?” Fíli nodded as solemnly as he could.

“I am. I will raise my little brother to be a fine warrior and a strong Prince.” Lothiualmerilin smiled.

“Very good, Henigii.” She lowered her arm so Fíli could see the face of his younger brother. Both stared at each other, before smiling at the same time. ‘They will be together until the end of time. Of this I am certain.’

Fíli yawned, but didn’t move from his spot. Lothiualmerilin smiled, recognizing the stubbornness of the Dwarven race already manifesting in his young spirit. Using her free arm, she scooped up the young Dwarf and stood up, walking around the bed to place both boys by their mother. Kíli was snug in between his brother and mother, still staring at Lothiualmerilin. She didn’t blame the child; Fíli did the same when he first saw her.

“Gelil?” Fíli called softly. “Could you sing?” Lothiualmerilin smiled, nodding. Two years ago, Fíli had asked for her name, so that he might ask Mahal to send her back by name. She had given him the name Gelil. She knew he didn’t know Elvish, which meant that he would not know the name meant “Wolf-Howl”.

“Of course, Henig.” She kneeled, petting his head softly. “Close your eyes,” she whispered. He complied, his body relaxing almost immediately. Once she was certain no one else was listening, she began to sing a lullaby she had been singing to Dís ever since they reconciled. A lullaby she knew by heart, for her mother sang it to her when she was a child.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

For auld lang syne!

 

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne.

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.”

As she sang, Lothiualmerilin crept towards the window, stocking the fire before she left the room. She closed the window as she jumped down from the sill, disappearing into the forest once more, leaving Dís dreaming of the day when she would see her homeland again, and her sons dreaming of a white-haired angel sent from Mahal to sing them to sleep.

~Ÿ~

Thorin gently pushed open the door to his sister’s room. To his surprise, Fíli was sleeping on Dís’ bed. He didn’t know why he was surprised. After all, he had done the same when Frerin was born.

Ignoring the pang that shot his heart, Thorin stepped into the room as quietly as he could. He smiled at the sight of Fíli's arm wrapped protectively around his newborn brother. He hated to do it, but someone had to help him get breakfast ready, and Fíli was swiftly becoming a man. If he wanted to learn how to crack a skull, he must first learn how to crack an egg. Besides, he wasn’t about to ask anyone else for help. They were all so excited about the new babe that there was no way Dís would get any sleep should he let them in the house.

“Fíli.” He hissed, lightly shaking the boy. “It is time to get up.”

“Mhhm.” Fíli cracked an eye open, looking up at his uncle blearily. “Uncle?”

“Come. Let’s make your mother breakfast.” Fíli blinked the sleep from his eyes as he allowed his uncle to pull him out of bed. His body was a little slower to follow the lead of his eyes, sleep still dogging his heels as he climbed down the stairs after his uncle. “Fíli…”

“Yes?”

“Was… someone in the room last night with your mother and brother?” Fíli blinked up at his uncle, innocence shining in his eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“I thought I heard something last night.” Fíli's smile grew into a beaming grin.

“Maybe you heard Mahal’s angel singing to us!” Thorin chuckled, willing to drop the subject now that the topic of “Mahal’s angel” had been brought up.

“Maybe.” He humored his nephew, though he did not believe in such a thing. Mahal, he believed in without a doubt. A protector sent by him? He once would have said “Definitely not”. He, Thorin II, Thorin Oakenshield, was all the protection his family needed. And yet…

Within the last two years, whenever he went on a hunting expedition, he could not help but feel like he was being watched. What’s more, strange things would happen on those expeditions. Stags would fly directly into their path, wolves would suddenly turn away, and bears kept their distance. After Víli’s death, not one hunter came back with so much as a scratch, and  it would not be uncommon for them to be carrying a stag each.

With these events, Thorin had been thinking about the last time that had happened. They had been driven from Erebor, and were travelling the lands, trying to find a place to settle. As they wandered, scouts would occasionally come back with reports of a massive white animal appearing on mountain ridges parallel to their current position. What was stranger, was when they would come upon packs of slain Orcs, with massive gouges in the earth, the pattern reminiscent of claws. Yet nothing was ever confirmed, and Thorin chalked it up to tricks of the eyes and forgot about the incidents… until Fili’s “angel” became an everyday topic for the child, followed by the repeating situations.

Three weeks later, when the bodies of slain Orcs, the very ones that had been harassing merchants, were found fifty miles away from the town, Thorin found himself once again questioning his lack of belief in Mahal’s guardian angel.

Chapter Text

“Eight, nine, ten! Ready or not, here I come!” Fíli whirled around, trying to find his younger brother. “Now where is he~?” He heard snickering from behind a bush. Fíli smirked, clasping his hands behind him and stepping around the clearing in overexaggerated movements.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are~!” He sang, purposely taking the long way around to his brother’s hiding place. Silencing his footsteps, he hid behind a tree, watching as Kíli crawled underneath the bush, trying to see his shoes. With the footfall of a kitten, Fíli snuck up behind Kíli. “Gotcha!” he shouted as he grabbed Kíli by the waist, hauling him up.

“Fee!!” His twelve-year-old brother squealed, squirming in the larger boy’s grip. The blonde laughed, swinging his brother around for good measure before setting him down. Kíli pouted at him. “Why’d you do that?”

“Because you let me.” Fíli poked his brother’s nose, chuckling at him. “If you ever want to be a warrior, you are going to have to learn to have eyes and ears everywhere.” Kíli nodded.

“Alright, Fili. I’ll work harder.” The seventeen-year-old nodded.

“Good. I’ll help you.”

~Ÿ~

“Really?” Fíli and Kíli sat silently at the table, listening to their mother talk with Uncle Thorin and Dwalin. The two had just come back from a hunting trip. “So they were all killed?’

“Aye.” Dwalin nodded solemnly.

“Who were killed?” Kíli asked, his brown eyes still innocent of many things. Thorin and Dwalin exchanged a glance.

“Some bad people who were causing problem for the merchants we trade with, love.” Dís thankfully came to the rescue. “Are you done with dinner?”

“Yes Mom!” Both boys immediately stood up and took their dishes to the kitchen. Dwalin watched them fondly.

“I remember when we were about that age.” Thorin snorted, but his eyes held a warmth that only occurred when he thought of his home.

“Indeed. Young and innocent of the world’s horrors.” Dís smiled softly.

“Maybe, one day, they too will experience what we had.” Thorin nodded thoughtfully.

“Nothing would make me happier, dear Sister. But until we know what happened to Father, I cannot risk going back. None of us can.” The two Dwarves nodded, knowing he was right.

“Are you still intent on going?”

“If the merchants have anything I could go on, then yes.” Dís sighed softly.

“Thorin…” she reached across the table, taking her brother’s hand in hers. “I can’t lose you too.” Thorin swallowed uncomfortably.

“I know.” He covered her hand with his free one. “I promise I won’t go unless they have anything new.” Dís nodded after a few moments.

“I can accept that.”

~Ÿ~

“Did Uncle Thorin leave today?” Dís nodded, not looking at Kíli as she washed the dishes. “Where is he going?”

“He is meeting the merchants.”

“I’ll go help him!”

“Kíli no!” Dís whirled to stop her youngest son, but it was too late. Kíli was already out the door and running down the lane. “Fíli!” The blonde’s head snapped up from where he was polishing his swords in his room. Poking his head out the window, he saw Kíli’s brown head bolting down the dirt road.

“Kíli!” Fíli jumped out of the window into the tree that grew next to the house. He quickly climbed down, running after his brother. “I’ll get him Mom!” Dís watched worriedly as her two sons ran down the street. She had faith Fíli would catch his brother; with five years on his brother, Fíli’s legs were longer and his lungs were stronger. He could run faster and farther than his twelve-year-old brother.

“Those two will be the death of me.” She shook her head, sighing deeply.

Down the road, Kíli heard his brother yelling at him to stop. He frowned. ‘Brother never lets me do anything on my own. I’ll show him! I’ll make it to Uncle first!’ He ducked into the forest.

“Kíli!” Fíli tore after the twelve-year-old, not heeding the branches that slapped his face. With Kíli being smaller than him, Kíli could easily slip through the thick brush that his brother had to fight through. Fíli mentally cursed himself for not bringing his sword with him. He had his small axes tucked into his boots, but they wouldn’t do much good against a wolf, let alone a bear.

“Kíli!” Fíli called, cupping his hands around his mouth. “Kíli come back! Please!” He wandered through the forest for what felt like hours, calling for his younger brother.

“FÍLI!!” Kíli’s terrified voice had Fíli bolting to the right. He pushed his way through the thick underbrush, shouting Kíli’s name. “Fee help me!” When Fíli finally saw him, his heart sunk.

Kíli was cornered. In front of him was a pack of starving wolves; Fíli could see their ribs poking through their drawn stomachs. Their jaws dripped with saliva, their eyes glued to Kíli. Behind the young Dwarf was a chasm too wide to jump across, and too deep to survive a fall into.

Without thinking, Fíli threw one of his axes at the wolves. It hit one in the hind leg, distracting them long enough for Fíli to run over to Kíli’s side. The young Dwarf latched onto his brother’s vest, crying.

“Ssh, it’s okay.” Fíli took out his remaining axe. “I’ll protect you.” He couldn’t let his brother see the fear in his eyes, so he made sure Kíli wasn’t looking at anything but his vest. Slowly, Fílistarted moving them to his right, where the path he had made was still open.

The wolves seemed to sense his intent, because one moved to block his path. Fíli mentally cursed, tightening his grip on Kíli. “I won’t let them get you, Kee. I promise.” Kíli whimpered, huddling closer to Fíli. The wolves started to close in.

Suddenly they stopped. Fíli narrowed his eyes, but didn’t move. He watched the predators, waiting for any sign they were going to attack. But they stayed still.

“Fíli.”

“Ssh.” Fíli hushed his brother.

“Fíli look.” Kíli tugged on his vest. Fíli glanced down to see Kíli pointing behind him. A glance back at the wolves showed they were looking in the same direction. Daring to risk it, Fíli followed suit.

He felt his pounding heart freeze in fear.

A massive white wolf was standing on the other side of the ravine. Its grey eyes watched them with an intelligence he wasn’t used to seeing in animals. It tilted its head, its slightly pointed ears flickering towards them.

“What is it?” Kíli hissed.

“I don’t know Kee.” Fíli whispered back. He glanced back at the wolves cornering them. They were closer than they had been. When Kíli whimpered again, Fili quickly glanced at the white wolf again. It was walking closer, no hurry or rush in its step. Fíli, feeling the ground beneath them start to loosen, had no choice but to step closer to the wolves on their side of the ravine. The white wolf noticed, its grey eyes shifting to their feet.

That was all the wolves intent on eating the Dwarves needed.

With a snarl, the leader leapt at the brothers. Fíli hunched over Kíli, intent on taking the bite. He resisted covering his ears when a snarl exploded from behind him, followed shortly by a huge weight landing around them, making the ground shake. Daring to crack his eyes open, Fíli’s eyes widened in shock.

The white wolf was standing over them, the much smaller wolf hanging limply in its jaws. The other wolves were whimpering, their tails tucked under their legs as they cowered on the ground, submitting to their massive kinsman. The white wolf loosed its grip on the dead wolf, the body landing harshly on the ground. Taking the hint, the smaller wolves ran away with a speed that surprised Fíli. As his mind slowly processed the events, he realized just how enormous this animal was.

Fíli was considered a tall Dwarf for his age, but he barely reached this wolf’s fore ankle joint. Its jaw was long enough to engulf both him and Kíli in one bite, evidenced when it held the almost six-foot long wolf in its jaws. He didn’t doubt this wolf was as tall as his house, if not taller.

He watched in fear as the giant canine shifted, walking a little bit before turning around so it could bring its muzzle down directly in front of the brothers. Fíli's grip on his brother and axe involuntarily tightened. To his surprise, the animal seemed to chuckle. In one swift movement, it laid down, its enormous paws extended to almost touching the brothers before resting its head on them, seemingly content to stay there.

Fíli stared in an odd mixture of horror and awe at the wolf’s left leg. From the paw up to the elbow, it was covered in a horrendous burn scar. The claws and toes seemed unaffected, because they dug into the earth with no effort. Still, he couldn’t shake the haunting image of what kind of flame the wolf had been exposed to in order to cause such a scar. He couldn’t imagine what the initial injury was like.

They stayed that way for a while. Eventually, Fíli’s and Kíli’s heart rates slowed down enough for both of them to talk.

“Thank you… for saving us.” Fíli started slowly, unsure how he should phrase his words, or if he should say anything at all. After all, it was a wolf. Who was to say it wouldn’t eat them?

The wolf blinked, lifting its head to tilt it. Fíli swallowed harshly when the wolf extended its head, its massive black nose sniffing at him. The sensory organ was larger than his head, making him feel even smaller than he already did. The nose shifted down to sniff at Kíli.

The younger Dwarf giggled when the hot breath tickled his neck. Deep thumping coming from his right gave Fíli cause to look over. His eyes widened when he realized the wolf’s tail was wagging. Every time Kíli giggled, the tail thumped the ground harder.

“Thank you.” Kíli said, reaching up to pat the nose. Fíli hesitated in stopping him; for some reason, Kíli’s laughter placated the wolf. He wasn’t going to risk ending that, and giving the wolf cause to push them over the cliff or eat them itself. “Are you a boy or a girl? I bet you’re a girl. You’re too pretty to be a boy.”

“Kili!” Fíli hissed. “Stop it!”

“Why?” Kíli’s young eyes shone in confusion. “This wolf saved us. She deserves to be thanked.”

“I… still…” The wolf shifted slightly, tucking its paws under her so she could turn her back to the brothers. “What?” The wolf looked over her shoulder, giving them a look that he swore could be translated as “What are you waiting for?”

Before Fíli could stop him, Kíli stood up and ran over to the wolf, climbing onto her back. “Fíli! You have to feel her fur! It’s so soft and smooth! It feels like silk!”

“Really?” Fíli’s curiosity won in its war against his caution. Standing, he slowly walked over to the wolf and rested a hand on her back. “Wow. You’re right.”

The wolf’s fur felt less like the usual wolf’s fur, and more like his hair after his mother had brushed it after he took a bath. It was thicker than any fur he had felt before, and longer as well. Seeing the wolf’s flanks expand and swiftly expel air, he looked up. The wolf was staring at him from his side now.

Fíli stayed stock still as the wolf’s head came around to nudge him closer to her back. “What do you want?” he whispered. The wolf huffed and literally rolled her eyes. Before Fíli could recover, the wolf had used her muzzle to push him up. He had no choice but to latch onto her fur higher up her back. “Wait! What are you-!?” The wolf stood up, making the brothers gasp and grip onto her fur tighter.

“Woah!” Kíli stared in awe as the wolf started to slowly walk through the woods. “You’re really tall!” The wolf huffed again, one of her ears flickering back to listen to the Dwarves. Fíli glanced down, realizing they were in fact quite high off the ground. It was akin to looking down from his bedroom window.

‘She really is as tall as our house.’ He finally allowed himself to relax slightly. This wolf wasn’t going to hurt them for the time being. The blonde Dwarf decided to use the moment to really look at his savior.

Her face was long and angular, but slimmer than some wolves. He suspected that was due to her being female (he had subconsciously decided Kíli was right: this wolf was too beautiful to be a boy, and too nice besides.). Her enormous paws made far less noise than he had anticipated, which explained why she was able to sneak up behind them and the other wolves.

Her pure white fur seemed familiar to him, but he couldn’t quite place his finger on it. Fíli returned his gaze to her face. From this angle, he could see the corner of her grey eyes. They too were familiar, but he couldn’t remember how or why. The wolf glanced back at him, catching his gaze. Embarrassed at being caught staring, Fíli quickly looked away.

It was an hour before they drew near to the village. It struck Fíli as odd that the wolf knew where they lived, before he supposed that she had followed their scent. The wolf stopped at a ridge overlooking the village. From his vantage point, Fíli could see a group was gathered outside of their house, armed with swords, axes, and torches.

“Woah!” Fíli gasped when he felt teeth gently grab the back of his vest. He was in too much shock to struggle, so when his feet touched the ground, he fell rather unceremoniously onto his butt. The wolf seemed to chuckle at him, before turning her head around to do the same with Kíli. Fíli stood up, taking his brother from the wolf. The younger Dwarf had passed out on the way back, no doubt emotionally exhausted from the ordeal.

“Thank you, my friend.” Fíli said sincerely, staring into the wolf’s eyes. “For saving us and bringing us home.” The wolf bowed her head, surprising Fíli for the umpteenth time that day. Thankfully, he snapped out of it fast enough this time, and bowed his own head in return. Straightening, he started to walk down the slope. Every once in a while, he would look back to see the wolf watching them.

“Find them!” Thorin’s voice rang out clearly from the group.

“Wait! We’re here! We’re here!” Everyone turned around at Fíli’s voice. Not two seconds after, the blonde emerged from the undergrowth, holding a still sleeping Kíli.

“Boys!” Thorin rushed over to them, relief and anger mixing on his face. “Where in the name of Mahal have you been!?”

“Iss, not Fee’s fault.” Kíli’s sleepy voice spoke up. He rubbed his eyes as he spoke. “I wanted to help you meet the merchants, so I took a shortcut through the woods. Fíli was following me to try to bring me back to the house.”

“Why were you gone so long!?” Dwalin barked at them.

“I was ambushed by wolves.” Kíli hung his head. “Fíli defended me.” Thorin and Dwalin, as well as the rest of the group, turned as one to Fíli.

“You fought off wolves… without a sword?” Fíli shook his head.

“No, Uncle. We were saved.”

“It was Mahal’s angel!” Kíli beamed. “She took the form of a massive white wolf to defend us! She brought us home!” Kíli may not have noticed or understood the sudden tension in Thorin’s spine, as well as Dwalin’s, but Fíli did.

“What?” Thorin kneeled down, placing firm hands on Kíli’s shoulders. “What did you say?”

“Yeah!” Kíli was still so young, he didn’t understand the look in his uncle’s eyes. “She had fur of moonlight and eyes like stars! It was Mahal’s angel! See! She’s up-!” Kíli turned around, intent on pointing out the white wolf standing on the ravine that overlooked the village…

Only to see it empty.

“There.” Kíli’s voice dropped in disappointment. “She was right there! She carried us back on her back!” Thorin turned to his eldest nephew.

“Fíli.” It wasn’t a question posed, and Fíli had no intention of lying.

“Kíli is telling the truth, Uncle. We were cornered between a chasm and a pack of wolves. When one struck, a massive white wolf appeared on the other side and jumped the chasm, killing the wolf that attacked us.” All eyes and ears were on Fíli. “After she was certain we were unharmed, she brought us home.” Fíli turned to point at the same ravine. “She let us off at that ravine, and I walked back, carrying Kíli”

“A wolf with fur of moonlight and eyes like stars…” Dís repeated quietly. Her hands were clenched over her chest. “Thorin… you don’t think-.”

“No.” Thorin quickly cut Dís off. “It isn’t her.”

“But how else do you explain this, laddie?” Balin spoke up, stroking his greying beard as he thought. “Fíli is not the type to make things up, and Kíli does not lie.” Thorin stood, his eyes closed in thought.

“We will discuss this inside.” With that, everyone else dispersed while the Durin family, followed by Dwalin and Balin, went inside. Fíli and Kílisat on the ground next to the fire to warm up while the adults stood in a circle behind them, speaking in hushed tones. “I refuse to believe it is Lothiualmerilin.” Thorin’s voice was filled with anger. “She betrayed our people. Why would she come back now?”

“Maybe she is trying to make amends?” Balin suggested.

“You sound like you know something, Balin.” Thorin growled. “If you know anything, spit it out.” Bain held the fuming Prince’s gaze. Realizing where the conversation was going, Dís silently took her leave and led her sons upstairs to bed. After tucking them in, she returned to see the men sitting on the couches and chairs. She sat down in the far right chair in time for Balin to explain.

“While Smaug attacked, I realized Dís was still in her room. I tried to get through the flames, but they were growing too large and too intense. Someone tugged me away from the flames and out of the mountain. When I was able to see, I realized it was Lothiualmerilin.”

“What!?” Thorin hissed in surprise. Balin held his gaze evenly, unaffected by the Prince’s flaring temper; he had survived Thráin’s, he could survive Thorin’s.

“She asked if I was alright. I told her I was, but that Dís was still in her room. Without another word, she leapt into the flames, leaving her cloak behind. I waited in agony, both physical and mental, for her to return.

“It felt like an eternity before I saw her again. Her left arm was horrendously burned, but in her right she cradled Dís, who had been rendered unconscious by the smoke. Lothiualmerilin handed Dís to me and helped both of us escape. The moment we cleared the gates, she transformed and ran across the fields, vanishing in the smoke and flame.” Balin sighed, his ancient eyes staring into the fire of the hearth.

“So all of those reports our scouts had,” Dwalin mused. “Those slain Orcs, the success our hunters had after-.” He stopped himself before he continued.

“Did you know?” Thorin turned his gaze to Dís. The woman sighed, unwilling to keep the truth from her brother.

“I first saw Lothiualmerilin about two years after she and her people had been exiled. I was walking through Dale when two men approached me. I never found out their intention, because they were knocked out. Before I could thank my rescuer, I was dragged into the forest. Once we were a fair distance away, my rescuer let down her hood, letting me see her face.”

“Lothiualmerilin.” Dís nodded. Unbeknownst to the adults, Fíli and Kíli had snuck back down to listen to the conversation.

“She fussed over me, ensuring I wasn’t hurt. After I assured her I wasn’t, I asked what she was doing in Dale. She told me she wanted to see us again.” Dís smiled softly, though it was full of pain. “She had seen your attempts to reach her, Thorin, but couldn’t respond to them because of her father’s orders and her own rage and hate. She wanted to make amends.” Thorin stared down at his lap.

“We continued to meet for a while. The day Smaug attacked, we were to visit the place of her mother’s death.” Dís’ eyes glazed over. “I don’t remember much that day, but I do remember an angel with hair of moonlight and eyes of stars reaching for me through the flames. When I came to, I was in Balin’s arms, and we were far away from Erebor.”

“I don’t believe this.” Thorin sighed, running his hands over his face. “So that time, when Kíli was born, when I heard singing, that was Merilin.” Dís and Balin exchanged a glance at the nickname.

“She watched over Kíli as he slept, as she did Fíli.”

“She’s been here twice!?” Thorin roared in a whisper. Dís fixed her brother with an even glare.

“She's been here more than that." Before Thorin could go off, Dís continued speaking. "I trust Merilin. She was there at our births, as well as our father’s and uncles’, as well as our grandfathers’. She had a right to be present at Fíli’s and Kíli’s, but the banishment of our grandfather and the order of her father prevented her from that.” Thorin glared at his sister.

“Her mother betrayed us.”

“But Lothiualmerilin didn’t.”

“She tried to kill Father and Grandfather!”

“After they killed and desecrated her mother!” Dís shouted, making all three of the men recoil. Dís did not often shout, but when she did, it was cause to be silent. “Had our grandfather not shot Malrin, or Father not spat upon her corpse, Lothiualmerilin and her father would not have had cause to kill our men and war goats. As it was, both sides were at fault.”

“I suppose Merilin told you that.” Thorin hissed.

“I came to that conclusion on my own.” Dís’ eyes flashed at her brother. “You may call me a fool. You may even hate me for not telling you about her. But it is because I knew you would react like this that I did not.”

“What about you two?” Thorin turned his scorching gaze to the brothers. “Anything to add?”

“They did not know about Merilin’s visits here.” Dís said calmly. “I kept it that way.”

“And you two?” Thorin lifted his voice, making the two younger Durins jump. “Anything to add?” Knowing they wre busted, Fíli and Kíli shuffled into the room.

“I really do think Mahal’s Angel saved us.” Kíli dug his toes into the floor, his eyes just as fixed on it.

“The wolf that saved us has a burn scar on her left arm.” Fíli spoke up, trying to meet his uncle’s gaze evenly. “It reached from her elbow to the tips of her toes.” Thorin nodded after a little while. The two quickly scrambled up the stairs, thankful they had gotten off without a punishment and intent on keeping it that way.

“So Fíli’s and Kíli’s “Angel of Mahal” is, in reality, Lothiualmerilin Silefphind.” Dís nodded. Thorin groaned, rubbing his hand over his face again. “All this time, she has been so close, and yet so far.”

“Can you blame the lass?” Dwalin sighed, staring into the flames. “None of us have been exactly welcoming to her or her kind since the incident.”

“It has been one hundred and ten years since the death of her mother.” Balin noted. “Maybe she has forgiven us.”

“I don’t think she was ever mad at us, Balin.” Dís spoke up softly. “I once asked her if she did. She responded that she would never forgive our father or grandfather for what they had done…” she trailed off, prompting all of the males to look at her. “But she never blamed us, as in you, or me, or Frerin, or anyone else, for the death of her mother.” Thorin watched his sister carefully.

“Do you think she’ll come back?” Dís shrugged.

“I have no idea. This was the first I’ve heard of her in ten years. The last I saw her was the night Kíli was born.” Thorin stared into the fire, watching the flames lick at the wood.

“Some protector.”

Chapter Text

"What? What do you mean Father has been removed?" Lothiualmerilin gaped at the Beta. He cowered away from the fuming female, submitting in front of the younger Gorphen. "Do the Elders not realize that our people still need him!?"

"Your father has not been n the right mind since the death of Lady Malrin." Lothiualmerilin snarled at the reminder, causing the Beta to submit again. "He was removed a few days ago. The Elders are still in their cave if you wish-."

"So I do." Lothiualmerilin stormed past the Beta, leaving Calithilon to speak with him. She stomped her way through the forrest, Gorphen scattering left and right to get out of her way. She made no attempt to announce herself to the Elders, instead barging right into their cave. All of them lifted their heads from their paws, staring at the fuming female. "Care to explain this?!"

"We do not have to explain anything, young one." A female Elder regarded Lothiualmerilin harshly.

"I beg to differ." The Nimpgorphen was in no mood to have patience with the Elders. "You depose the Alpha whilst I am away, and you do not have the common sense to speak to me about it!?" One of the male Elders growled warningly at the young Alpha female.

"Watch your tongue, Lothiualmerilin." He stood, walking over to the white-haired Gorphen. "Your father has not been in his right mind for a century and a half. The Northern Pack needs strong leadership unaffected by emotional barriers."

"Emotional barriers?" Lothiualmerilin hissed. "You call mourning the loss of his soulmate, my mother, an emotional barrier?!" She snapped at him, her fangs flashing in tandem with her eyes.

"Mourning is perfectly acceptable, little one." Lornel, an Elder who had served as Dimaethor's Beta before she became too old, spoke up from where she lay next to the wall. Her calm voice always helped in soothing Lothiualmerilin's temper, for she rarely spoke up unless it was necessary. "But not when it comes at the detriment to the Pack. Do you disagree?" Lothiuamerilin held her breath for a few moments, before letting it out in a hefty sigh.

"No, I do not." She clenched her fists. "But I still do not approve of you simply brushing aside my father. If you are going to no longer recognize him as Alpha, have him challenge me for the right! That is the honorable thing to do!"

"We cannot."

"Why?!" Lothiualmerilin searched the eyes of her Elders. "Is it the tradition of the Gorphen. Why will you not honor it?"

"Because Dimaethor will not challenge you." the male Elder form before narrowed his eyes. "It was all we could do to convince him to acquiesce to this request. He will not fight you, for he does not wish to step down." Lothiualmerilin's tense shoulders relaxed.

"What are you saying?"

"I am saying that your father refuses to be depose honorably. He wishes for this outcome, and in return he will be made an Elder."

~Ÿ~

"Baarrooomm." A deep voice grabbed the Nimpgorphen's attention. After her conversation with the Elders, Lothiualmerilin had wandered into the forest, deep in thought. "What is that has you troubled so, young Wolf?" Lothiualmerilin sighed, staring up at the Ent who had spoken to her.

"Did you know about my father, Treebeard? Did you know about his refusal to step down? His refusal to fight?" The Ent opened his ancient eyes, standing up so he could face the young female directly.

"It is not my place to stop a Gorphen from their desires, young one. You of all should know that, hoom harumm." Lothiualmerilin chuckled softly.

"Indeed. I do apologize for scratching you." Treebeard waved her off.

"I am pleased to have aided in your eduction, Blossom." After her mother's death, Lothiualmerilin refused to allow anyone save Treebeard call her "Blossom". Malrin had possessed a special relationship with the Ents, a relationship passed down to her daughter. But it was not for that reason that Lothiualmerilin averted her eyes. "What is it?"

"It was not so much education as it was child's folly. I wished to hold on to some of the past." Treebeard's eyes narrowed sympathetically.

"Ah. The Elfling whom taught you how to climb is still very present in your heart." Lothiualmerilin nodded. "How log has it been since you saw him last?"

"One hundred and fifty-five years." Lothiualmerilin sighed, plopping down unceremoniously on the ground. "I miss him, Treebeard. I miss Legolas and Thranduil. I miss being able to run through the Greenwood as Legolas and I trained. I miss walking through the trees as we talked.

"I miss the way things used to be." Treebeard crouched down. Lifting an ancient hand of bark, he scratched the Nimpgorphen's head. She playfully glared at him, even though she leaned into the caress. "I am not a pup any longer, Treebeard."

"And yet you insist on acting like one. If this weighs so heavily on your heart, why do you not change the situation?"

"I could not, with Father still in charge. He refused any contact with anyone who knew the Dwarves of Erebor, and threatened anyone who dared contact them with death." Treebeard hummed. "But... now that Father will be removed..." Lothiualmerilin's eyes lit up. "I could see him again! I could try to rebuild the bridge Father burned!"

Treebeard chuckled at the enthusiastic Nimpgorphen. "Then what are you waiting for, dear one? Go out and make your mother proud." Lothiualmerilin nodded. Springing to her feet, she hugged the Ent before running off.

"Thank you Treebeard!" she yelled over her shoulder. Treebeard chuckled, returning to his original position.

"You are most welcome, my dear Wolf."

~Ÿ~

Calithilon watched anxiously as he stood on the outskirts of the pack. All able-bodied Gorphen of the Northern Pack had gathered over the past few days, making Taurcaew seem to grow smaller as more and more Gorphen flooded in. It truly served to show how large the Pack was: all of the elders, Betas, and Deltas were present, along with many Hunters, Warriors, Pup Watchers, Pups, Healers, Assassins, and Scouts. In total, there were almost two thousand Gorphen present for the upcoming event, and yet there still remained over one thousand who chose not to attend, for one reason or another, instead sending emissaries in their place.1

The removal of Dimaethor as Alpha of the Northern Pack, and the installation of Lothiualmerilin as the new Alpha, would indeed be a sight to behold, as a ceremony such as this had not taken place in an Age.

Hearing the sound of hooves against the ground, Calithilon turned around. His eyes widened at the sight of a redheaded Elleth riding towards him on a brown mare. When she was close enough, she gracefully dismounted, walking over to him. "Tauriel" he breathed, not believing his eyes. She smiled gently at him.

"Hello Calithilon. It has been quite a while."

"A century and a half." Calithilon agreed. "What are you doing here?"

"Rumors have spread of Dimaethor being replaced. Is it true?" Calithilon nodded, turning back to face the crowd. Lothiualmerilin, in her Gorphen form, was seated on the left side of the Elders. Dimaethor was standing on their right, also in his Gorphen form.

"Our father will step down and be given the title of Elder. After which, Lothiualmerilin will be made Alpha." Tauriel furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

"I thought Gorphen fought for the title of Alpha."

"We do..." Calithilon replied slowly. "But sometimes we do it this way. Usually if an Alpha is too old to be active in the pack any longer, but too well respected to be killed."

"Killed?" Tauriel hissed, her pale face whitening. Calithilon nodded solemnly.

"That is what happens in a Gorphen fight for Alpha. One will rise, one will fall. The loser is either killed by the victor, or driven out by the pack to die on their own, be it of their wounds or falling prey to something else." Tauriel rested a hand on Calithilon's shoulder.

"And you're okay with that?"

"It is tradition, Tauriel." Calithilon sighed, turning to face the redhead. "In any case, you did not answer my question." She titled her head. "Why are you here?"

"My king has heard the rumors. He sent me to see if they are true." Calithilon's blue eyes widened.

"King Thranduil? Is he coming?"

"No." Tauriel frowned. "He was quite hurt over Dimaethor's abandonment. It seemed Dimaethor forgot he was not the only one who cared about Malrin."

"You are correct in that." Calithilon agreed softly. Both turned to see Lothiualmerilin bit her father's scruff and force him to lay down, a sign of dominance. When she released him, she lifted her head and began to howl. The rest of the pack took up the call, heralding the new Alpha to all who could hear them. Dimaethor remained prone on the ground, his blue eyes filled with disgust over being forced away from his position as Alpha.

"He did forget."

~Ÿ~

"Who were you speaking with?" Calithilon looked up from polishing his sword to see L0thiualmerilin standing in front of him. Her soaked white hair clung to her body that was clothed in simple garments. It was clear she had just returned from bathing.

"Hm?"

"During the ceremony, I heard you speaking to a female. Who was she?" Calithilon swallowed, silently debating whether or not he should tell her. "Calith?" Lothiualmerilin crouched in front of her brother, her head tilted in concern.

"It was Tauriel." Lothiualmerilin gasped softly. "She came on orders from Thranduil. Apparently, he had heard rumors of Father's removal as Alpha, and sent her to confirm or confute them." Lothiualmerilin stood, her silver eyes filled with her inner turmoil.

"And?"

"After the pack joined you in the howl, she mounted her horse and left. She was gone before anyone else knew she was there."

"So he did not even care to be here himself." Lothiualmerilin sighed heavily, running a clawed hand through her thick tresses. "It seems the wounds our father inflicted are still raw in those who used to be our allies and friends."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing." Lothiualmerilin sighed again. She seemed to have suddenly aged a hundred years, her angular face appearing drawn from the burdens that weighed on her shoulders. "I wish I did more. Perhaps then we would not be striving for friends as we are now." Her gaze lifted to the mouth of the cave. Outside, she could hear the Pups playing with their fellows, while those older were sitting with the Hunters, Warriors, and Scouts, learning all they could. The Deltas were walking around, maintaining order. The Elders were speaking with Dimaethor, who was being showed his new lodgings in the Elder's Den directly beneath them. Lothiualmerilin's new Den, his old one, overlooked it all.

"Merilin." Calithilon called softly. She turned to him, her heavy heart shining in her eyes. "You will be a fine Alpha. The Pack respects and honors you. They will follow you."

"I know that." Lothiualmerilin walked to the the front of the cave, leaning against it. Down below, several Hunters and Warriors sat around fires, sharing stories from their borders. "it is our brethren in the other Packs who concern me the most." Calithilon stood and walked over to her.

"What do you mean?"

"While I was Alpha Female, they had no issue with me. They understood that I was acting in Dimaethor's place, while he remained behind in the Pack. While they understood that I would one day take over as Alpha, they doubtfully expected it so soon, and in such a manner. They hold true to the old ways, just as I try to. They honor tradition, but our father's mental state has left him in a state of uncaring, both for his own and for the traditions of our kind. When they find out that I have been made Alpha, while Dimaethor yet remains in the Pack, even as an Elder, it will doubtless raise questions amongst the other Alphas.

"Why did I not follow the tradition? Why did I not insist on it? Why did the Elders allow it?" The newly appointed Alpha sighed heavily, leaning her head on the cave wall. "I have so many obstacles in my way for my acceptance within our own kind alone. How will I ever reconcile the Gorphen to the Elves and Dwarves and Men of Middle Earth? Even Gandalf has left us behind."
"I doubt that very much, dear Sister." Calithilon rested a hand on Lothiualmerilin's shoulder. "Gandalf shows up when he is needed. The fact that he has remained out of our affairs shows how much faith he has in you." She glanced at him.

"The other Alphas may not accept you right away, but they will in time. As you said, they had no issue with you before, and everyone know s how stubborn Father is. there will be some who oppose you, but so long as you stay true to what you know is right, the Pack will follow you. Always." Calithilon smiled gently. "I certainly will."

"Thank you, my dear Brother." Lothiualmerilin laid her hand over his. "I needed to hear that." He smiled wider when she smirked.

"Come. You have had a long night. Edwenor, Tadion, and I will watch over the Pack." Lothiualmerilin nodded. She turned, walking inside her cave. She smiled over her shoulder at Calithilon before vanishing behind the tapestries. After a few moments, Calithilon left the cave to join the other Betas.

"How is she?"

"Resting. It has been a long day for her." Edwenor nodded, his black hair glowing blue in the fire's light.

"Indeed. Let's make sure we do not need to wake her then." Tadion nodded. Shifting into his Gorphen form, he bounded out to the outskirts of the Forest, joining up with the patrol team to get their report. Edwenor walked up to his post outside of the Elder's Den, while Calithilon began to wander the lower grounds.

"It is a new time for the Northern Pack." Calithilon mused to himself as he stared up at the stars. "How will it end?"

~Ÿ~

"Tauriel." The redhead bowed herself to her king. To her right stood Legolas, his sky-blue eyes fixated on her. Above, wreathed in summer leaves and berries, similar eyes watched her as well, but with far more scrutiny. "What is your report?"

"Dimaethor has indeed been deposed as Alpha."

"Is he dead?" Legolas couldn't resist a lifted eyebrow at how quickly his father inquired of the death of his old friend.

"No, sire." Even though he tried to hide it, Thranduil's eyes betrayed his surprise. "It seems he was forced to step down by the Elders, and Lothiualmerilin took his place as Alpha."

"So she is Alpha now." Thranduil mused, through Tauriel could not tell if he was merely repeating her words or speaking aloud to himself. "What of her brother?"

"Calithilon is well. It was to him that I spoke."

"I see." Thranduil waved his hand, dismissing Tauriel. She left with a bow. Legolas waited until she was gone before speaking.

"What are you thinking, Father?" Thranduil sighed softly to himself.

"What do you think, Legolas?" Legolas clenched his hand at his side. "You miss her." Legolas swallowed.

"Yes." He knew better than to try and dispute his father. Thranduil had seen them grow up together. He knew how close his son and Lothiualmerilin were.

"As do I." Legolas could not hide his surprise. "Lothiualmerilin brought a light I had not seen in centuries into this forest. A light that vanished after..." Thranduil trailed off. Legolas didn't try to get him to complete his thought, because he knew what his father was going to say.

Just as Legolas had grown up with Lothiualmerilin, Thranduil had grown up with Malrin. She had been assigned as his personal guard while he was yet a prince. She had been by his side from the beginning, from Oropher's conquest of the Greenwood, to the Battle of Dagorlad that had claimed Oropher's life. Malrin had been by his side when he became king, and when he had married Legolas' mother; evidently, Malrin was the one who ahd introduced them. Malrin had been the one to teach Legolas how to use a bow and arrow. She had allowed him to hold Lothiualmerilin when she was only a few weeks old, a right usually reserved for family, which, as far as Thranduil was concerned, Malrin had been.

Malrin had been Thranduil's last link to his father, and his past prior to Legolas. When she was killed, Thranduil drew even further within himself, but not as far as Lothiualmerilin had. Legolas hadn't seen his best friend in almost two centuries, and it was starting to get at him. He missed her, desperately.

"What will you do?" Legolas questioned softly.

"It is not my place." Thranduil stated coldly, though his eyes were smoldering with unspoken emotion. "If Lothiualmerilin reaches out to us, we will receive her." Legolas felt his spirits rise.

"Do you think she will?" Thranduil did not answer for several minutes.

"I do not know." He finally conceded. "I do not know."

Chapter Text

Lothiualmerilin gritted her teeth against the pain. "This will be over soon. Stay strong." She scoffed slightly, choosing not to answer the male lest it come out as a snarl. Now that she held the rank of Alpha, she had to bear the mark.

In the past, Gorphen would wear the scars they earned in their battle with the previous Alpha as their claim. However, as is typical in the life of a Gorphen, you never have just one battle. Soon, scars would overlap, and claims would be disputed.

As the Gorphen started to grow from one pack into four, it became obvious there needed to be a manner of distinguishing Alphas. Once they began to intermingle with other races of Middle Earth, and started to take on some of their traditions, a solution presented itself: tattoos.

The Eastern Pack were the first to implement the tradition, since they interacted with Dwarves more often than the other Packs, and Dwarves use tattoos much more extensively than other races. The Northern Pack followed, after which the Southern and Western did as well.

The Eastern Pack's Alpha once took a tattoo of a wolf inscribed with Dwarven runes facing its bearer's companions. It was worn on the left pectoral of the Alpha, over their heart. After the Pack's dispersal, the mark was used to distinguish goods, such as weapons and clothes, made by those of Gorphen descent instead.

The Western Pack's Alpha bears a tattoo of a seated wolf staring at the moon, hearkening to that Alpha's responsibility to watching over Angmar. It also represents the Pack's relationship with Imladris.

The Southern Pack's Alpha bears a snarling wolf on his right shoulder, symbolizing the Southern's tendency to be much more prone to violence, despite the Alpha's diplomatic skills. As the Pack closest to Mordor, and the Pack that has intermarried with the men of Gondor, the warrior blood of Gorphen is very much alive in this Pack.

Finally, the Northern Pack's Alpha takes a bust of a wolf whose chest fur tapers into three stars, symbolizing the three stars in the tail of Valacirca, a constellation in the night sky set by Varda. The Northern Pack is the only one to have contact with the Mirkwood and Lorien Elves, and as such have been exposed to much of their history. The tattoo is a symbol, not only of Lothiualmerilin's rank as Alpha, but of her relationship with the Elves as well. The tattoo is worn it on their right bicep, symbolizing the power and strength of the Pack.

"There." the man said in pride as he wiped the last of the blood away. "All done." Lothiualmerilin exhaled deeply, waiting until the man had finished cleaning the blood and excess ink away before rotating her shoulder. "You are marked, my Alpha."

"Thank you, my friend." Lothiualmerilin turned her head to look at her shoulder. The wolf seemed to look back at her, reminding her of her responsibilities. The stars were sharp and defined, causing a pang of pain in her heart. "It is beautiful."

"I am pleased you like it." The man's eyes dropped. "I was hurt when your father removed his mark." Lothiualmerilin sighed. Placing a hand on his shoulder, she temporarily rested her forehead on his. He sighed in relief.

"My father was not in his right mind." Lothiualmerilin smiled at him. "I swear to you: I will wear this mark till my death." He smiled back, his back straightening.

"Thank you, my Alpha." She nodded. Standing, she patted him on the shoulder before exiting the shop, dropping a bag of coins on the counter as she left. Calithilon was leaning on the doorframe, waiting for her. He smiled at her, handing her the cloak she had brought with her. Lothiualmerilin gratefully took it, gingerly placing it over her shoulders.

"Do they really hurt that much?" Calithilon asked as they walked down the street. Lothiualmerilin sighed, nodding.

"I'm going to be quite sore for a few days, I think. But it's worth it." Calithilon smiled. His sister's eyes were filled with pride and hope, something he hadn't seen in a century. "The path to reconciliation has been paved." Lothiualmerilin mounted her horse, smiling at her brother when he mounted his stallion. "Shall we?"

"Let's go." With twin smiles, the Alpha and her Beta cantered away from the Iron Hills.

~Ÿ~

"What is the meaning of this?" Dáin II stared at the man in shock. "Lothiualmerilin was here?" The Dwarf nodded, cleaning his supplies.

"A few days ago."

"What was her purpose?" The Dwarf held up a finger, silently asking his lord to wait. The redbearded Dwarf did so as the artist pulled out his sketch book. It was his custom that when he and a client decided on a tattoo, he would sketch it down to ensure he stayed true to the client's wishes.

"This." The Dwarf opened the book to a page near the back, showing it to Dáin. His brown eyes widened at the sight.

"The mark of the Alpha of the Northern Pack." The Dwarf nodded in assent. "Why did she take this mark?"

"Lothiualmerilin is the new Alpha." Dáin stared in shock at the Dwarf. "Her father was deposed nigh of a month ago."

"What is her aim?" The Dwarf smiled gently, placing his sketch book back in the book shelf.

"To rebuild the bridges her father burned." He turned, handing a few papers to Dáin. "She left these for you." Dáin took the papers, eyeing them suspiciously.

"Why would she leave me letters?" The Dwarf shrugged, leaning his muscular and tattooed arms on the counter.

"She was afraid you wouldn't receive her. She knows how much animosity is between our races because of what happened at Erebor." The Dwarf gestured to the letters with a hand. "She believed that, this way, you could decide for yourself whether or not to receive her, and neither party will be put through the embarrassment of having to turn away the other."

Dáin stared at the papers. He had only met the Nimpgorphen a few times, but he had been impressed with the way she held herself. They had sparred once, and he was amazed at her ferocity and determination. Despite her obvious pride in her upbringing, Lothiualmerilin was always cordial to him. To all of his kind.

"Well well." Dáin laughed softly, his eyes growing soft. "So Kandith has grown up." Dáin tapped the letters on his hand. "Did she tell you how to reach her?" The Dwarf shook his head.

"She said you'll know how."

"Indeed I do." Dáin sighed, clasping forearms with his brother before leaving the shop. Just as he was about to cross the threshold, he was called back.

"Will you tell him?" Dáin immediately knew who the artist was speaking of. After a moment, Dáin shook his head.

"No. If Lothiualmerilin reaches out to him, that is her choice. I will not bring them together of my own will. If they are to reconcile, they must on their own terms."

~Ÿ~

"Are you ready?" Calithilon asked softly. Lothiualmerilin breathed out shakily, shaking her head.

"How do I face them? It has been almost two centuries. What if Thranduil feels the same as Father?" The whitette swallowed thickly. "What if he hates me?" Somehow, Calithilon knew that his sister wasn't speaking of just Thranduil.

"It was Father that gave the order, not you, Merilin." The Alpha glanced nervously at her brother. He smiled comfortingly, squeezing her left shoulder in comfort. "You are Alpha. You will be fine." Lothiualmerilin breathed out, straightening her back when she inhaled.

"You're right. Thank you, Calithilon." The brunette nodded, dropping his hand from her shoulder just as they entered the forest.

They walked for a few hours. After midday, they lost the path, but Lothiualmerilin continued on. Calithilon trusted his sister's judgement; she had trained in these forests since before he was adopted into the family. She knew them better than anyone, save Legolas and the Royal Guard.

'Speaking of,' Calithilon thought wryly when Elves dropped from the canopy, arrows trained on them. Lothiualmerilin did not flinch, instead keeping the gaze of the lead Elf evenly. Calithlion immediately recognized her. "Tauriel!"

"Mankoi naa lle sinome?" She asked in her native tongue.

"We seek audience with his Majesty, Thranduil Elvenking." Lothiualmerilin replied smoothly. The guards exchanged uneasy glances; a few of them had trained with Lothiualmerilin whilst she was yet considered a pup. They knew of her strength, and feared her even then. They had little desire to cross her now that she was older and in better control of her abilities.

Tauriel stared back at Lothiualmerilin. Eventually, her eyes shifted to Calithilon. "We are unarmed." he soothed, slowly opening his cloak to prove his point. Lothiualmerilin simply shrugged her cloak from her shoulders, displaying the short-sleeved tunic she had opted to wear. Since receiving her tattoo, she had not worn a long sleeve. As such, both her mark and heavily scarred left arm were on full display.

Calithilon noticed Tauriel and several of her men stared in a mixture of shock and horror at Lothiualmerilin's arm. He had to remind himself that they had not seen her since Malrin had been slain.

"Khila amin." Tauriel finally spoke. Lothiualmerilin nodded, silently picking up her cloak and replacing it on her shoulders. The party set off on foot, as silent as they had arrived.

~Ÿ~

"Heruamin." Thranduil lifted his eyes from his lap, watching Tauriel ascend the stairs. She bowed to him. "Lothiualmerilin is here. She has requested an audience with you."

'Already? It has barely been a month.' "I will see her." Tauriel bowed again, swiftly leaving. She returned a few minutes later, Lothiualmerilin in tow. Thranduil swept his eyes over her, observing the young Gorphen for the first time in one hundred and fifty five years.

She had grown much taller than he remembered. She was now taller than Tauriel by at least two inches, barring the boots she and the Elf wore. Her silver hair now reached to her knees, and was held back from her face by two small braids. Thranduil noticed them as the same Legolas had braided into her hair when they were children. It was her arms that drew his attention the most, however.

On her right bicep glowed a black wolf, vibrant against her pale skin and moonlight hair. Thranduil felt his heart swell with a mixture of pride and distrust upon seeing the three stars that her tattoo's chest fur tapered into. 'She is trying to hold to the old ways... and old alliances.' His eyes then swept to her left arm.

From her fingers to just above her elbow was covered in a horrendous burn scar. When she turned to wave off her brother, who then paused at the top of the stairs, Thranduil saw that a small sliver of skin was unburned on the underside, but not enough for the arm to be considered unhindered. It was obvious it didn't heal well, something that stabbed Thranduil in his heart.

'The only way she could have received that burn was when the dragon took the mountain. That means she was there, and when I returned to the Greenwood... I turned my back on her as well.'

"Lothiualmerilin Silefphind." Tauriel customarily announced. Thranduil nodded, waving off the Elleth. She bowed, exchanging a glance with Lothiualmerilin before leaving. Calithilon followed her, speaking quietly to the redhead.

Lothiualmerilin dropped to her knee, bowing her head to Thranduil. "King Thranduil." She waited in painful silence for him to say something. It had been almost two centuries, but she still remembered proper etiquette: aside from greetings, one had to wait for the king to give them permission to speak.

"Creoso..." Thranduil spoke slowly. Lothiualmerilin kept her head bowed, her shoulders stiffening. "Mellonamin."

A shaky gasp escaped the Nimpgorphen. She raised her head to see Thranduil walking down the stairs, a gentle light in his eyes. "Hîr vin?" She inquired. Thranduil smiled gently, further surprising the female.

"Nae saian luume’, Lothiualmerilin." Thranduil tucked some of her hair behind her ear, tracing her jawline with his fingers. "You have grown much since I saw you last." Lothiualmerilin exhaled shakily, her lips wobbling in a tearful smile.

"Thranduil, I..." She gently covered his hand with hers. "I am so sorry. For all the pain we caused you. I am-" Thranduil shook his head, cutting her off.

"Malrin's death was a blow to us all." He exhaled softly, bringing the younger woman in a hug. "I am just grateful to see you again." Lothiualmerilin returned the embrace, inhaling his comforting scent of summer berries and warm breezes.

"Ni lassui, Thranduil." He nodded against her head, drawing back from the embrace. His eyes and hand trailed down her left arm, gently following the valleys and indentations of her skin where it had attempted to heal on its own. Lothiualmerilin softened, seeing the regret in his eyes. "I received this scar saving Dís from the dragon's fire." Thranduil lifted his eyes to hers in shock. "I could not risk anyone knowing, so I left the mountain as soon as I had ensured she was safe."

"So you reconciled with one of the Line of Durin." Thranduil placed a hand on the small of Lothiualmerilin's back, gently directing her down the stairs. Lothiualmerilin nodded, keeping pace with the king.

"Gandalf reminded me that the children should not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers." Lothiualmerilin sighed heavily. "Though, it seems I cannot help but take on the sins of my father." Thranduil gently brushed some of her hair away from her face.

"Your father's sins are not your own to carry. How you respond to them, how you aim to fix them, that is your burden." The Nimpgorphen stared up at the Elvenking. He smiled gently. "Now, there is someone else who wishes to see you." Lothiualmerilin nodded.

Soon enough, they stood outside the door to Legolas' room. Thranduil and Lothiualmerilin exhanged a glance. When he nodded, Lothiualmerilin knocked on the door. "Tula sinome." Taking a deep breath, Lothiualmerilin opened the door.

Legolas looked up from his book, his eyes widening at the sight of Lothiualmerilin entering his room. His father was behind her. Before Legolas could say anything, Thranduil flashed him a look and closed the door, leaving the two alone.

Legolas looked over the woman who had once been his best friend the same as his father did. He too noted her tattoo, burns, and, to his inner delight, her braids, but he noticed something else.

She was nervous.

Lothiualmerilin tried looking him in the eyes, but soon enough she looked away, looking around his room instead. She inhaled and exhaled shakily, obviously unsure on what to say. Legolas shut his book, slowly standing. Her silver eyes whipped back to him, and her lips parted, but nothing came out.

"You came back." Lothiualmerilin nodded, swallowing. When Legolas started walking towards her, it seems that was all that was needed to break the spell binding her tongue.

"Legolas I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for leaving you behind. I was lost, and angry, and hurt, and I forgot that Mother was loved by more than my people, and-." Her rant was cut off by a crushing embrace.

Legolas buried his head in the crook of Lothiualmerilin's neck. One hand was laced through her hair, the other wrapped firmly around her hips. When Lothiualmerilin froze, Legolas drew her closer, breathing shakily.

"Cormamin lindua ele lle, Lothiual. Amin nae dele ten' lle." Lothiualmerilin returned the embrace, nuzzling into Legolas' shoulder. "I missed you so much."

"I missed you too." The Nimpgorphen sniffled, grabbing fistfuls of his tunic; she was careful to avoid ripping it with her claws, though. "Valar I missed you so much, Legolas." Legolas nodded silently, lightly grabbing a handful of her hair. They stayed that way for a while, basking in the warmth of rekindled friendship and forgiveness.

Outside the door, Thranduil and Calithilon smiled at each other, a knowing look glimmering in their eyes.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 2

1 It is often speculated that Fíli’s and Kíli’s father died in the Battle of Azanulbizar. However, that battle happened 60 years before Fíli’s birth (65 years before Kíli’s), making it impossible for their father to have died alongside Frerin. It is possible that Dís’ first husband died in that battle; however, this is also just as unlikely, because of the loyalty of Dwarves. Thus, I have Víli (the fan-accepted name of Fíli’s and Kíli’s father) dying in a hunting accident after they lost the mountain.

Henig: My child [Elvish]


CHAPTER 4

1 There are 10 Elders in Lothiualmerilin's pack. All of them were once Betas. The reason none were once Alpha is because the rank of Alpha is usually decided by a brutal fight that very rarely leaves on party relatively unscathed. These Betas were able to serve under several Alphas, and thus have a wealth of wisdom to draw from. They are very highly respected throughout the Pack, and the Pups will often ask them for stories. The Elders also get along very well with the Ents of Taurcaew. All were present at the ceremony.

Along with Calithilon, there are 2 other Betas, both males: Edwenor and Tadion. Each are responsible for maintaining the pack order when Lothiualmerilin and/or Dimaethor are indisposed. When the Alphas are around, the Betas handle training the Deltas and watching over the pack. Calithilon is the only Beta that actively stays with the Alphas. Edwenor watches over Taurcaew and the Elders that live there, and Tadion oversees the hunting parties. All were present at the ceremony.

There are 300 Deltas, each Beta having 100 that report to them directly. The Deltas handle day-to-day business, learning how to be Betas. All were present at the ceremony.

There are 250 Healers. 1 Healer travels with each Hunter party, while 25 travel with the Warrior parties, and 25 stay in Taurcaew, with 5 stationed with the Pup Watchers at all times. 25 were present at the ceremony.

There are 2,000 Hunters, ages ranging from young to full-grown adult. With a pack as large as the Northern, it is necessary to have a large number of Hunters in order to ensure everyone is fed. They travel in packs of 10. 1,000 were present at the ceremony.

There are 15 Assassins. They very rarely leave Taurcaew, but if a large hunting party leaves, 1 Assassin will trail behind the party, ready to pick off any who attempt to betray the pack. 9 were present at the ceremony.

There are 250 Scouts. 1 Scout travels with each Hunter party, while 25 travel with the Warrior parties along the borders, 20 remain on the outskirts of Taurcaew, and 5 stay with the Pup Watchers at all times. 25 were present at the ceremony.

Save for the Pups, every Gorphen in the Northern Pack is a Warrior. There are, however, 150 Gorphen that are devoted to patrolling the Pack's borders. They travel in packs of 6, not including the Healer and Scout. these are the ones that most often engage in scuffles from neighboring Hunter parties. They do try to steer away from Men, Elves, and Dwarves. 30 were present at the ceremony.

There are 70 Pup Watchers. All of them are Females, and all of them have had at least 1 litter of their own. They, along with the Pups, stay within the interior of Taurcaew. 51 were present at the ceremony.

There are 670 Pups in the Northern Pack. With each of the Pup Watchers having several Pups of their own, not to mention the several hundred adult Females within the Pack, the Northern Pack's Pup population is greater than the entire population of the Western Pack's Hunters and Scouts combined. Of the 670 Pups, only 160 are newborn to preteen age (1 year for a Gorphen is equivalent to 20 human years, making the Pups anywhere from 20 to 240 human years old). The rest are in their early to late teens (260 to 380 human years old). Once the Gorphen turn 420, the human equivalent being 21, and are able to successfully shift, the Pups then move on to whatever place they were groomed for. 510 were present at the ceremony.

Total Number: 3720

Total Number present for the ceremony: 1,963

Edwenor: Second Male [Elvish]

Tadion: Second Son [Elvish]


CHAPTER 5

Kandith: Little Wolf [Khuzdul]

Mankoi naa lle sinome?: Why are you here? [Elvish]

Khila amin.: Follow me. [Elvish]

Heruamin.: My lord (reverential). [Elvish]

Creoso, mellonamin.: Hello, my friend. [Elvish]

Hîr vin?: My lord? (literally beloved lord). [Elvish]

Nae saian luume’, Lothiualmerilin.: It has been too long, Lothiualmerilin. [Elvish]

Ni lassui, Thranduil.: Thank you, Thranduil. [Elvish]

Tula sinome.: Come in. [Elvish]

Cormamin lindua ele lle, Lothiual. Amin nae dele ten' lle.: My heart sings to thee, Lothiual. I was worried about you.