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The Quest for Ourselves

Chapter Text

‘I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.’

Gandalf’s words flooded through Ro’s senses and she felt as though every bone in her body were vibrating.

It was time!

Ro rushed about Bag End trying to get everything ready for her family’s arrival. She hadn’t seen anyone besides her parents in the past ten years. Now they were coming to her home and they were going to go on their quest for Erebor. Ro could hardly contain her excitement.

The time had finally come and she was ready.

Everything felt sorted. She felt like she could jump in and maybe, just maybe, things could be how they once were, before… before everything.

A knock came to the door. The dwarrow weren’t coming until this evening. Ro rushed to the door and practically threw it open. Caspian and Lobelia and their little daughter Rosie were smiling at her.

“Good afternoon!” Lobelia said with a big smile. “We figured you might have forgotten to have afternoon tea so we thought we might make sure.”

Caspian rolled his eyes affectionately towards his wife. “What she means is, Rosie wouldn’t stop crying until we brought her to see her Auntie Ro.”

“And how is my favorite niece?” Ro reaches out and picked the darling girl up in her arms and sprinkled kisses across her cheeks.

Rosie giggled. “I’m your only niece!”

“Shhh!” Ro nuzzled Rosie’s nose with her own. “That’s supposed to be a secret!” The girl giggled. “Come in, come in! Believe it or not, I do have the kettle on.”

The Evergreens came in and glanced around the place.

“It looks like a wind storm has come through,” Caspian whistled.

Lobelia elbowed him in the side. “Must be a lot to do, would you like me to stay and help? Thirteen people are coming right?”

“Mahal, there are.” Ro laughed, bouncing her niece on her hip. “It’s going to be crowded! I’d love the help. Especially the food prep.”

“Consider it done,” Lobelia smiled.

“Thanks again for agreeing to look after the place for me. Once we’ve settled in Erebor again, I’ll send word and you can send my stuff on it’s way, then the deed is yours.”

Caspian and Lobelia glanced at each other.

“What?”

Lobelia chewed her lip. “It’s just… are you certain you want to leave the Shire… permanently?”

Ro sighed. “I love it here, you know I do. But the mountains are my home. They always have been. I grew up on the stories of Erebor and of the vast lands that surround it. It’s my home.”

Caspian nodded. “You’ll always have a place here, with us. Just so you know.”

“I know.” Ro pressed a chaste kiss to Caspian’s cheek. “I’ll come back and visit. Well,” she grinned. “I’ll visit Lobelia and Rosie at least.” She looked at her little niece and bumped her forehead gently. “Boys are gross!”

“Yucky!” Rosie shrieked.

Caspian sighed and Lobelia giggled.

***

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Lobelia asked as they prepared the meal for the dwarrow.

“What do you mean?” Ro narrowed her eyes in confusion.

“I mean… you haven’t seen… THEM in ten years. You’ve only written to them. I know you’ve been… trying to sort out your feelings.”

Besides her grandfather and grandmother, Lobelia was the only one who knew about Ro’s dreams. She was the only one who knew the full extend of them and Ro’s own suspicions though.

“I just don’t want you to be hurt.” Lobelia reaches out and took Ro’s hand in hers. “You’re my best friend and it’s been torture to watch you tear yourself apart over it.” Ro knew she was speaking, in part, of the first time Ro had cried in front of Lobelia, when she first began to think her feelings for Fíli were hopeless.

“I know. I’m okay.” Lobelia squeezed her hand. “Really. Völva is Völva and I am me. There’s… a difference. It’s not much, but there’s a difference. I am my own person. I shouldn’t have to wait around for some prince to find me. Mahal knows they're probably stuck in a tree somewhere.”

Lobelia snorted.

“We’ll just get through this quest and I’ll see where this goes. Like you said, I haven’t seen them in ten years. We’ve all changed.”

“Caspian was speaking for both of us when he said you’d always be welcomed here,” Lobelia insisted. “You’re family. The annoying sister we both wished we had.”

Ro rolled her eyes. “You already have sisters.”

“That’s why I added annoying.”

Ro scoffed and blew some flour into Lobelia’s face.

***

“Mum! Da!” Ro threw her arms around her parents.

Dwalin swept both her and Nori up in his arms and showered kisses upon Ro’s face. “You’ve grown, bunnanunê.”

Ro giggled as he put them down. “So have you! I suppose mum hasn’t been cooking lately?”

Nori rolled her eyes and pressed a kiss to her daughter’s temple. “We’ve missed you.”

Ro pressed her forehead to her mum’s. “I missed you too.” She smiled. “Come in! Come in! Help me set the table for everyone. Is Thorin coming with anyone or is he going to get lost so he’ll make a dramatic entrance?”

Dwalin threw back his head and barked out a laugh. “I’ll tell him you said that. But he’s coming late, meeting with some of the lords to see if any are going to join us.”

Ro nodded and they set out to make room for everyone. Ro might be stronger than other hobbits, but that didn’t mean she could lift furniture around as well as her parents could. Soon another knock came to the door.

“I got it!” Ro rushed to the entryway and opened the door. “Uncle Balin!” She rushed to hug him quickly.

“Hello, nadadnathith,” he squeezed her back. “It’s been too long. Now look at you, at your majority for a second time. No doubt your da had to fight his way in here with all the boys you’re attracting.”

Ro rolled her eyes affectionately before placing a kiss on his cheek. “Come inside. Mum and Da are here and helping setting everything together.”

Balin came in and began to help his brother and sister-in-law, catching up since they hadn’t seen each other in a while as well. Ro began setting the plates and then they all started to put the food together.

There was another knock. “I’ll get it!”

Ro opened the door and found the two dwarrow she was truly the most nervous to see again. And of course they would come together.

Fíli looked every bit the prince that he had been last that she’d seen him. The little girl that Ro had been so many decades ago would have melted right on the spot with the gentle smirk he was giving her. His blond hair was kept and just as long as she remembered it. He had a braid to show he was a master smith just like his uncle. He had a braid to show his status as the heir under Thorin. His beard was short, almost like Thorin’s but his mustache was grown and he had two neat braids to keep it sharp. His blue eyes were just as bright as ever. Lion prince indeed.

Kíli had changed a little. His beard was close shave with mostly stubble sprinkling his chin and cheeks and neck. He had told her it was because it helped with his bow. Ro had to agree with him. She doubted shooting an arrow would be easy if she had to think of a beard, not that she was able to grow one. He kept his face stern, but she could see a gleam of mischief in his brown eyes. She could almost imagine the wolffish grin he was trying to suppress.

“Fíli.”

“And Kíli.”

The two gave her a mocked bow in unison. “At your service.”

Chapter Text

She was radiant.

For the past ten years, Fíli had done everything he could to put his feelings for Ro behind him. He had tried to forget her smile, her eyes that shone like stars, her laughter that bubbled up like a spring. He had tried so hard to allow himself to look at another dam. He had tried.

Thorin had told him that he should try and court someone and court someone seriously before the quest. He had tried to find someone he could care about. Someone he could at least like. He wasn’t going to be bullied into marrying someone like Durin’s second wife. He just couldn’t bring himself to live through something like that again.

Thinking his heart was safe, he told his uncle he would look more seriously after the Quest was finished. That’s what he had planned on doing.

Then he saw her again.

She had grown up since he had last seen her. The Shire had allowed her to flourish. Her cheeks were rosy and her elf-like features had softened into such a gentle way that Fíli knew there was no hope for him.

He smirked. There was no hope for him at all.

After he and Kíli jokingly offered her their services, she threw her arms around them and Fíli was so very close to falling over because of it. He gripped her waist on instinct, while Kíli steadied her by her back, just under her arm. Fíli pulled her towards them and he felt her muzzle his neck before turning to do the same to his brother.

Yep. No hope at all.

She pulled back, still holding onto them, and smiled brightly, her eyes dancing between the two of them. “I’ve missed you too so much! Tied for my sixth favorite dwarf,”

Fíli chuckled. “Sixth?”

“Mum and Da are tied for first and then my uncles come after them. Then your amad. You both tie for sixth.”

“And we feel so very honored,” Kíli smirked, rolling his eyes.

“If you two are done feeling up my daughter,” Nori called from out of sight, “come in and help us set everything for the others’ arrival!”

“Who’s feeling up my daughter?” Dwalin’s earning bark came.

Fíli was almost certain he was flushed completely. He and Kíli both set Ro down and she welcomed inside her smial.

“Is there someone you want me to put my knives, Ro? Just had them sharpened.” He turned to look at her. Mahal, had she always been this small in comparison to him? She was almost a head and a half shorter than him. She had to actually look up now. Mahal…

“Figured you would actually ask me,” she smiled, shaking her head. “Da still just plops his axes anywhere even though he KNOWS where to put them.” She motioned towards a rack for weapons. “Over there is fine. But I want to see what you have. I haven’t seen any of your recent work.”

“I have gotten better.”

“Obviously, or else you wouldn’t have gotten a master bead.” She rolled her eyes and Fíli smiled.

He showed her the newest daggers he had made, nowhere as delicate as the one he had made for her all those years ago. Fíli considered that one to be his finest.

“Do you still have the dagger I made you?” Nope he shouldn’t have asked that. He didn’t want to know.

“I do.” She pulled open her jacket and Fíli saw that it was strapped at her hip.

He knew full well he was glowing with pride at that. He made that and she wore it for protection. Even in the moments where he couldn’t be there, he could still… Fíli shook the remaining thought from his head.

“Hopefully you won’t need to use it during the quest.”

Ro snorted. “Mahal’s beard, imagine if I took it in when I face Smaug.”

Fíli grimaced. The one part of this quest that he didn’t like. Oh, he knew he could never ask Ro NOT to do it—that would make her do it just to spite him for thinking she couldn’t. He knew she could, he just wished she didn’t have to. Imagining her anywhere near that dragon made his stomach knot.

Seeing his expression, Ro put her hand on his arm. “I’m joking.”

Without much thought, Fíli put his hand over hers and squeezed it. “I know.”

She smiled up at him.

“I still have my axe on me!” Dwalin barked from further inside.

Ro sighed. “Da, I’m fine!” She huffed, pulling away from him. “It’s just Fíli.”

It felt like she had taken her dagger and gutted him only to leave him flailing on the floor. Just Fíli. That hurt more than he expected it to. The place where her hand had been felt like a brand upon his skin.

Fíli took a deep breath. This was going to be a long night.

***

Once Thorin had finally arrived, after admitting to having gotten lost, the talks about the quest truly began to grow serious.

Balin was the first to speak after Thorin had eaten a little. “What news from the meeting in Ered Luin? Did they all come?”

“Aye,” Thorin answered. “Envoys from all seven kingdoms.”

Dwalin leaned forward in his chair. Ro sat between him and her mum. The guard narrowed his eyes as though he already knew the answer to his coming questions. “What do the dwarves of the Iron Hills say? Is Dain with us?”

“They will not come.”

Fíli felt himself deflate. Would none of their people answer the call? A sense of guilt washed over him. Perhaps if he had made a political alliance.

Kíli nudged him, as though sensing his thoughts. Fíli glanced at him and saw his brother shaking his head before mouthing, ‘not your fault.’

Thorin continued. “They say this quest is ours, and ours alone.”

 

“Cowards,” Ro said. “The lot of them. We may be few in numbers, but we’re fighters. All of us. To the last dwarf and dam.” Her mum smirked.

“And you forget,” Kíli added, seeming to try and add to the momentum Ro had started. “We have a wizard in our company. Gandalf will have killed hundreds of dragons in his time.”

“Oh,” the wizard appeared quite alarmed at being addressed. “Well, now, uh, I-I-I wouldn’t say that, I—”

Fíli was fairly certain Gandalf had never once faced a dragon in his life.

The entire smial erupted into questions before Thorin silenced them all.

***

Fíli woke up in the middle of the night, needing to smoke his pipe. He hadn’t had a dream in years. It wasn’t an actual memory this time though. It was one of those wishing memories where he had been a better dwarf, the life Durin could have had if he hadn’t fallen into madness.

He had dreamed of traveling. The destination was home, wherever that was. Völva was in his arms and a small pebble, a girl that looked like HER, tucked between them. The pebble’s face was pressed against his chest and his hand was wrapped around her and her mother.

“Are you certain,” Völva had asked. “You won’t regret it?”

“My one regret is not coming after you sooner.” Fíli tucked a lock of hair behind her pointed ear and dragged his thumb across her jaw. “You shouldn’t have gone through that alone.”

“I wasn’t alone,” she tried to assure him.

“I still should have been there.” He closed his eyes as he felt her warm hand press against his cheek. “I should have done more.”

“You’re here now. That’s all that matters.” Fíli opened his eyes to grey ones. Not Völva’s. “That’s all that matters.”

Fíli had woken up and really needed a smoke.

He wandered out to the back gardens to find Ro already there. He froze. He really should just go back inside and just try to go to sleep.

Just as he was about to turn away, Ro glanced back at him, pipe in hand. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“Restless dreaming,” he answered.

She smiled gently. Ro scooted over on her bench and patted for Fíli to sit next to her. How could he possibly refuse that? Fíli sat down next to her and pulled out his pipe and lit it.

“I’m glad you’re sixty,” Fíli said. “Or else Dwalin would skin me alive.”

Ro snickered and elbowed him gently. “I came of age twenty years ago, you know.”

“Yeah, and Dwalin might skin me regardless.”

“But then we’d have Kíli for a king and then where would we be?”

Fíli coughed out a laugh. “Anything we should expect from that hobbit party that’s being thrown for us?”

“Just dancing and a lot of food.” She smiled. “You’ll get to meet my two best hobbit friends and their daughter.” She motioned back to the smial. “They’re the ones who are going to live here when we leave.”

“It’s an impressive smial.”

Ro nodded. “My hobbit da made it for my hobbit mum. They’d hoped to have a bunch of pebbles to fill it with.”

“You definitely didn’t inherit his craftsmanship—Ow!” He rubbed his side.

“My friends are hoping for another baby soon. They’ll fill this place with pebbles in a couple years.”

“Have you thought of them? Children, I mean.”

Nope. That was not a conversation he wanted to have. Abort. Abort. Abort!

“I have,” she admitted. “A pebble, maybe two, maybe three.” The image of the child that looked like her danced across his vision. His heart clenched. Ro blew out a smoke ring. “It’s hard not to think of children around here. Hobbits have an abundance of children compared to dwarrow. My hobbit mum was one of twelve.”

Smoke went down the wrong way and Fíli began to hack which turned into a cough. Ro patted his back firmly and rubbed circles between his shoulders. “Twelve?!”

Ro smirked. “I know.”

Fíli shook his head, trying to collect himself.

They sat in silence for a few moments.

“I’ve really missed you guys,” she said quietly.

Fíli closed his eyes. “We missed you too.”

Ro leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. “Do you remember when you asked me about what my dreams were at my majority ball?”

He remembered every single moment of that night.

The night he realized Kíli might be better for her.

The night he realized he couldn’t give Ro everything she deserved.

The night he realized that he loved her and probably always had.

The night he realized she was his One.

“Of course.”

She linked her arm with his. Ro looked up at him and the stars could not compare. “We’re going to see Arda.”

Fíli smiled down at her. He could give her this at least. Fíli pressed a kiss to her forehead. “That we are.”

“No fair, why do you two get to smoke and I don’t?”

They turned around and saw Kíli grinning at them.

Fíli tried not to feel too sad that this moment with Ro had ended. “Because you sleep like a rock.”

Kíli scoffed. “I resent that.”

The three of them sat on the ground, ignoring the bench completely, and smoked under the stars.

Chapter Text

“That dress is far too short!” Dori fussed as Ro led the Company to the Party Tree in the late afternoon.

Ro rolled her eyes. Her dress went just below her knees. “It’s hobbit fashion, Dori,” she assured him. “All the other lasses will be wearing the same length of skit.”

“I say it’s short too,” her da grumbled.

Ro sighed. “It’s so our feet don’t get caught.” She was used to dwarven dresses that touched the floor, but she loved hobbit fashion. It felt strangely freeing to have her feet out in the open. “Besides, it’s my last night to wear a dress until the quest is over.”

“You mean you won’t fight Smaug in a dress?” She could hear Kíli smirking. “Ow!”

Ro glanced back and saw that Thorin had smacked him upside the head. “I’m gonna go with pants. I usually wear them anyway.”

The large oak tree finally came into view. The hobbits were already starting the party. Gandalf has somehow managed to arrive early and set up some fireworks for later in the night. The tree was gorgeous with all the lights that twinkled like stars.

“Auntie Ro!” A squeal erupted from the hobbits and the adults moved away quickly as the fauntling girl rushed to her. Ro bent down slightly and swept the girl into her arms. Rosie bonked her head against Ro’s. “Auntie Ro, there’s cake!”

Ro chuckled. “And how many pieces have you had already?”

“One.” She held out a finger.

“And how many pieces have you had without your parents noticing?”

The faunt grinned and held out her fingers. “Four.”

“Good girl.” She looked to the Company. “Everyone, this is my goddaughter Rosie. Rosie, you know my mum and da.” She began to point at the other members of the Company. “Those are my mum’s brothers Dori and Ori. That’s my da’s brother Balin. That’s Óin, my healing master, and his brother Góin. That’s Bofur, Bombur, and Bifur. These are the princes Fíli and Kíli.”

The girl shrieked. “Like from your stories?!”

“The very same. And this is Thorin Oakenshield. He’s the king of the dwarrow.”

Rosie looked at Thorin in complete awe. The princes forgotten. “I can curtsy!” Rosie said, bouncing on Ro’s hip. She scrambled out of Ro’s arms and did her very best curtsy to Thorin. It was rather adorable. “Rosie Evergreen, at your service!”

Thorin chuckled and gave a small bow. “At yours, Miss Evergreen.”

Rosie squealed again and ran off screaming. “Mum! The dwarf king bowed to me!!!”

The dwarrow all burst into laughter.

“Are all hobbit children like that?” Bofur asked.

“No,” Ro smiled. “She’s one of the louder ones.” She nodded towards the starting party. “Come on. Don’t want to miss all that food.”

***

She told the rest of the Company to join in once they understood the dance. It was one of the simpler dances, especially for the lad parts. The lass part was far more complicated.

‘A single thread in a tapestry / Though its color brightly shine / Can never see its purpose / In the pattern of the grand design’

The lads danced around the trunk of the Party Tree. Their arms locked over each other’s shoulders. Unity and strength in others. They occasionally stopped to twist their legs in elaborate steps, but it was together.

‘And the stone that sits on the very top / Of the mountains mighty face / Does it think it's more important / Than the stones that form the base?’

The lasses twirled around outside the circle with scarves and ribbons as their partners. Freedom and the everlasting connection to family.

‘So how can you see what your life is worth / Or where your value lies? / You can never see through the eyes of man / You must look at your life’

‘Look at your life through heaven's eyes / Lai-la-lai…’

There were a few couples dancing amongst themselves. Caspian and Lobelia twirled around each other with Rosie jumping and spinning between them, singing along to the oldest song of their race.

‘A lake of gold in the desert sand / Is less than a cool fresh spring / And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy / Is greater than the richest king / If a man lose everything he owns / Has he truly lost his worth? / Or is it the beginning / Of a new and brighter birth?’

All of it was why Ro had been so welcomed when she came to live with the hobbits. She was odd, but she was one of them. She had made her place in their community, especially after the winter she had been forced to stay and miss Kíli’s majority ball. It was then that she thought that that must be what she was made for. The dwarrow would always be her people and family. But the hobbits were her family as well. Their races would always be connected. Their races were always meant to be together.

‘So how do you measure the worth of a man / In wealth or strength or size? / In how much he gained or how much he gave? / The answer will come / The answer will come to him who tries / To look at his life through heaven’s eyes’

The dancing became more frenzied as they began to spin. Peace. This is what they were all feeling. Peace.

‘And that’s why we share all we have with you / Though there’s little to be found / When all you’ve got is nothing / There’s a lot to go around,

Ro swung her blue scarf around her body in wide motions. She twirled it before her until it thinned and wrapped itself into a rope. Her leg extended as she rolled her hips against the stringed and drummed music. The roped fabric hooked around her thumbs and she held it close to her chest. A bird preparing to take flight. Her scarf unraveled and she spun along the outside of the circle, letting the scarf billow behind her.

‘No life can escape being blown about / By the winds of change and chance / And though you never know all the steps / You must learn to join the dance / You must learn to join the dance / Lai-la-lai…’

Out of the corner of her eyes she saw that a few members of the company still standing on the outskirts, although they were clapping along. Ro smirked. She couldn’t have that, could she. Ori was too busy writing down everything he was seeing and knew not to disturb her young uncle in his cataloging. His dwarven stubbornness only ever really came out then.

Ro spun until she got closer to her dwarven family. Her hips swayed as she did so, following the quickening music. She threw her scarf around the collective necks of Fíli and Kíli who looked at her in a mix of awe and horror. Mainly horror.

“Dance with me!” She beamed.

“Wait—” Fíli’s cheeks turned a bright red.

“No—” Kíli pulled back slightly, although not with a lot of force.

Ro laughed as she pulled them towards her. She let go of one end of the scarf and it whispered against their necks. With the hand still holding the scarf, she grabbed Fíli’s hand and with her free one she grabbed Kíli’s. “Come on!”

She pulled them to where she had been before , pulling out a green scarf, only letting Kíli’s hand go for a second. She indicated that they needed to hold the other end of the scarf and they began to circle around her when they understood what she was having them do.

Ro twisted herself in the scarf Kíli was holding, her back brushing against his chest. He paused slightly, unsure of what he was supposed to do. Ro twirled away again and Kíli seemed to realize she was creating a greater momentum as she spun into Fíli as well, this time lifting his arm with the scarf to allow her to pass under him and twisting the two scarves together. She led them to the lads circle and pushed them to join the others.

‘So how do you judge what a man is worth / By what he builds or buys? / You can never see with your eyes on earth / Look through heaven's eyes / Look at your life / Look at your life / Look at your life through heaven's eyes’

If he was there, even if he didn’t love her, Ro hoped Durin had heard the words of this song and took them to heart. Even if he didn’t love her, Ro would not let a single dwarrow of the Line of Durin fall to the sickness of gold.

Perhaps she was there for that reason and that reason alone.

And if that were true, then that would be enough.

***

The Company gathered in the living room of Bag End before they headed to bed, smoking their pipes by the fire. It was the calm before whatever storm they might whether during their quest. The room began to full with humming.

Ro had grown up with this song. The song that told of the dwarrow longing to return to Erebor. Moria had been lost to them for ages. Erebor was the home all dwarrow longed for. They had wandered too long in recent memory. It wasn’t like the hobbits who could find peace anywhere. Their home was the land itself. The dwarrow needed the stones of the mountain, the mountain Durin had first awoken.

Thorin’s voice came from the deep hum.

‘Far over the misty mountains cold / To dungeons deep and caverns old / We must away ere break of day / To find our long-forgotten gold’

Ro felt Ori’s hands on her shoulders from where she sat. She reached out and took Fíli and Kíli’s hands in her own, pulling them onto her lap and squeezed them tightly. They squeezed back.

They had never been to Erebor. They weren’t there when the dragon came and killed so many of their people. They themselves had never endured the desperateness of wandering. Ro only understood it because of her memories as Völva, but even then, that was different.

The others began to join Thorin in his song.

‘The pines were roaring on the height / The winds were moaning in the night / The fire was red, it flaming spread / The trees like torches blazed with light’

Ro looked into the fire.

Whatever happened in these coming months, Ro knew that she would not be the same dam that she had been once she walked through that door.

Home would be behind her and the world was ahead.

Chapter Text

Ro was near the back of the pony train as they made their way out of the land of hobbits. This would be the furthest she had ever gotten from her home in Ered Luin and her home of Bag End. Little Rosie had cried when she had said goodbye. That had probably been the most difficult farewell out of all of them.

She rode now between Ori and Kíli. Her parents were riding in front of them with Dori, ahead of them were the Urs, then there was Óin and Glóin, and ahead of them was Balin and then Fíli and Thorin and Gandalf.

If she were being honest with herself, Ro hated that Fíli was riding so far ahead of her. It wasn’t because it brought back old issues, but because she had felt closer to him in the past two days in the Shire. She felt like they (her, Fíli, and Kíli and Ori) were getting back to how they used to be. But, Ro supposed, this was his duty as crown prince. He needed to follow Thorin’s lead. She couldn’t fault h for that.

“How is An, by the way?” Ro asked Kíli. “I haven’t heard from her in a while.”

“She’s taking on some apprentices and helping run the healing ward while Óin is gone,” Kíli told her. “She says ‘thank you’ for all that information you sent. Hobbits really do have a lot of medical knowledge. I couldn’t understand half the stuff she was thanking you for.”

Ro smirked. She and An had become better friends since Ro had moved to the Shire. An had even visited a few times. “I wish she could have come, but she’s not really the the type to like getting all sweaty.”

Kíli barked a laugh and Ro couldn’t quite figure out why that was.

***

They set up camp that night and got into some of their groupings. Ro sat next to her mum with her da sitting between his wife and Thorin. Kíli was sitting on Ro’s other side next to Fíli and Ori, who were talking about different things they noticed as being the back and front of the Company. Dori and Balin were on the other side of Thorin discussing some logistics or another, although Thorin had begun to smoke his pipe. Óin and Glóin were talking to Bombur as he cooked. Bifur was fiddling with some toy he was working on. It was sort of fascinating to listen to him only speak in Khuzdul. It was a good thing Ro hadn’t gotten out of practice with that. Bofur was busy swapping stories with Ro’s mum.

“Then I told him if I wanted to get off I would find me a nice dam to do it with instead of cramping my mattock hand,” Bofur smirked as Nori rolled her eyes.

Kíli and Ori snickered next to Ro.

Her da, however cuffed the back of the miner’s head. “I’ll not have you saying stuff like that. My little Ro doesn’t need to hear about you getting off.”

“It’s fine,” Ro said, without thinking. “It’s not like I don’t know what he’s talking about. It’s not like I haven’t done it too.” She regretted it as soon as it came out of her mouth and blamed it on lack of sleep on her part.

The reaction was almost immediate and Ro had forgotten that she was the youngest in the Company as well as related to most of them and the only dam who was not married.

Gandalf had wandered off so Ro, luckily, didn’t have to deal with that knowing smirk of his.

Apparently, Thorin breathed wrong and all the smoke went down the wrong pipe, causing him to gag. Dori, who had been walking over to Bofur to give him a piece of his mind for talking like that around his niece, fell flat on his face. Bombur actually dropped some food on the ground. Bifur snapped the toy he was working on. Balin looked as though Smaug had just asked him to tea. Óin’s eyes bugged out. Glóin turned red with embarrassment. Bofur looked like he didn’t know what to think. Dwalin snapped the hilt of the dagger he had been sharpening. Nori looked like she was either going to pass out or laugh. Ori’s hand clamped over his mouth. Kíli started to laugh, but Fíli, who had been drinking, had water shoot out from his nose, so the younger prince was patting his brother on the back as Fíli began to splutter and cough.

“I mean…” There was no possible way for her to salvage this situation.

“You…” her mum’s voice was quiet. “You haven’t even been officially courted yet…”

“Well, no.” Ro blushed. “But—”

“You let some snot-nosed hobbit lad touch you without any promises?” Her da’s voice went soft, which meant he was about to bubble over into a berserker-da-level rage, which had only happened when Nar had the nerve to purposefully grab Ro’s chest during a spar.

“They would get to, so why can’t I?” She pointed to Fíli, Kíli, and Ori. The latter two were no longer sniggering.

“That’s different!” Dwalin’s voice got louder.

“No it’s not. He and I were dating, which is a hobbit thing. Since we weren’t officially courting I didn’t think to mention it and we fooled around a bit.” Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. “Mahal’s beard, it’s not like we went all the way.” She crosses her arms. “We were always fully clothed.” It was the truth but she still turned red while saying it.

This was the single most embarrassing moment in her entire life. Ro was definitely willing to just go up to Smaug and politely ask him to eat her.

“Wait…” Ori raises his hand, everyone turned to him slowly. “THAT’S what you meant when you said you were ‘dating’ Caspian?! Is that why you wouldn’t explain what that word meant?!”

Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.

Ro had forgotten that she had talked to her youngest uncle about Caspian.

“You slept with the guy you gave your smial to!” Kíli gasped. “YOU SLEPT WITH A MARRIED PERSON!”

Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.

The rest of the Company began shouting for her honor and that they needed to go back to the Shire to deal with this. Someone, she didn’t know who (probably Balin) was shouting that she was raised better than this. Eventually she couldn’t make out what any of them were saying.

Ro gave an exasperated sigh. “SHUT IT.”

They all quieted down.

“Mahal’s beard, I’m still a maid,” again, she felt her face turn red. “Caspian and I dated a little after the first year I started living in the Shire. We never actually slept together. We broke up because we wanted different thing and then he and Lobelia started spending time together because they were both friends with me and realized they were each other’s Other, which is like the dwarven Ones. There’s no hard feelings and I didn’t bother telling any of you, save Ori, because it wasn’t important enough. We weren’t courting!” Bofur was about to say something. “That’s all I’m going to say about it. It’s been almost fifteen years since it happened and I haven’t dated since then, I’ve been too busy. If it makes you feel any better just think of it as my first and only bout of teenage rebellion since, by dwarven standards, I was still kid.”

Her da buried his face in his hands. “That makes it worse.”

“Well, I’m still a maid, so take comfort in that.”

Chapter Text

“I’m going in,” Ro said.

“No,” Fíli hissed. “You are not.”

Kíli felt dread beginning to churn in his stomach. “Let’s go get Thorin or your da.”

Ro lifted her chin. Shoot, they shouldn’t have told her no. “I’m the Company’s burglar. The least I can do is steal our ponies back. Mountain trolls are slow and stupid. I’m small and fast.”

“Ro.” Kíli honestly hadn’t heard his brother’s ‘lion prince’ voice in a while. “You are not going near them. It’s one thing for you to go steal from a dragon who may or may not be dead, it’s another to go face three mountain trolls.”

“It’s perfectly safe,” she persisted, an indignant gleam in her eye. Mahal, Kíli hadn’t missed this side of her. “You’ll be right behind me.” She grinned at both of them. “If I run into trouble, I’ll hoot twice like a barn owl and once like a brown owl.” She gave them a mock salute. “Wish me luck.”

“Ro, wait—RO.” She ignored Fíli completely and went forward, getting away from either of their grasps. Fíli began to curse under his breath and Kíli was fairly certain he hadn’t known his brother even knew such foul language. “Stay here and watch her,” he growled. “I’m getting Thorin and Dwalin so she doesn’t wind up killing herself.” He stalked off, still swearing under his breath.

Kíli crept forward, keeping an eye on Ro as the three mountain trolls were complaining about only ever eating mutton. What were they even doing this far out? He saw Ro pull out the dagger Fíli had crafted for her as she neared the makeshift pen the trolls had made for the ponies. There was a rope tying the gate closed. Her dagger was too small to cut ropes as thick as the trolls’ if she wanted to get out quickly.

Oh, good. She’d give up and come back to Kíli and they could go get the others and handle this logically.

He saw Ro look around and then zero in on the knife one of the trolls had on his belt. Kíli knew that gleam in her eye.

Darn it.

Where were Fíli and the others?!

Kíli began to wave his hands frantically at her but she seemed to pointedly ignore him.

Darn it. Darn it. Darn it!

He crept forward some more. As Ro made her way to the troll with the knife. Oh yes, let’s just go towards the big creature that could easily pull her in half.

Now Kíli was swearing.

Ro was about to pull the knife from the troll’s belt when the troll reached behind him and grabbed Ro and the disgusting cloth next to her. The troll sneezed all over her and the sight made Kíli feel sick to his stomach. He couldn’t imagine how Ro felt.

“Argh!!!” The troll realized Ro was in his hand. “Blimey! Bert! Bert! Look what’s come out of me ‘ooter! It’s got arms and legs and everything.”

The other trolls gathered around to look.

“What is it?” One of them asked.

The troll holding Ro shrugged. “I don’t know, but I don’t like the way it wriggles around!” He began to shake Ro off the clothand onto the ground.

“What are you then? An oversized squirrel?”

“I’m a burglaruhh, hobbit dam.”

Kíli smacked his forehead with his hand. Really, Ro? Really?”

“A burglahobbitdam?”

“Can we cook `er?

“We can try!”

The one that had sneezed tried to grab Ro, but she dodged his hand, only to be cornered by the third troll.

“She wouldn’t make more than a mouthful, not when she’s skinned and boned!”

“Perhaps there’s more burglarhobbitdams around these parts. Might be enough for a pie.”

“Grab her!”

“It’s too quick!”

Where was everyone?!

As the trolls tried to catch Ro, she ran around trying to dodge them, trying to get to where he was. One of the trolls accidentally hit another with his ladle while trying to hit Ro. She was almost able to break free when one of the trolls grabbed her by the leg. She cried out as she was hoisted upside down.

“Gotcha! Are there any more of you little fellas `iding where you shouldn’t?”

Ro shook her head quickly. “Nope.”

“She’s lying.”

She struggled against the troll’s hold on her leg, trying to push his hand with her free foot. “No I’m not!”

“Hold her toes over the fire. Make ‘er squeal.”

Kíli couldn’t wait any longer. He rushed out from the bushes and cut the leg of one of the tolls, making him howl and fall.

“Drop her!” Kíli roared.

“You what?”

Kíli gave a feral smile. He twirled his sword in his hand before clasping it in both. “I said,” he spat, “drop her.”

The troll there Ro at him and Kíli dropped his sword to catch her, hoping he took away most of the impact as they fell. When they hit the ground, the rest of the Company charged from the bushes yelling and brandishing their weapons. They began fighting the trolls, hacking, slashing, and hammering at their legs. Kíli lost sight of Ro during the skirmish, and didn’t see her again until he saw her being hoisted up by two of the trolls. They held her by her arms and her legs. The Company froze.

Kíli’s heart dropped into his stomach.

“Ro!” Fíli’s voice broke into a roar. He stepped forward but Thorin held him back.

“No!”

“Lay down your arms, or we’ll rip hers off.”

Thorin planted his sword into the ground as soon as the ultimatum was made. The others dropped their weapons just as quickly.

Half of them were tossed in bags and the other half were stripped to their underclothes and tied to a spit. Ro was tossed between Kíli and Fíli.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, curling slightly into herself. “I’m so sorry.”

“Shh…” Fíli twisted himself to his side and pressed his forehead against hers. “Hey, it’s okay.”

Kíli squirmed until he could shoulder Ro, so she could lay on her back. He pressed his face into her shoulder, hoping to give her some comfort. “It’s not your fault, Ro. It’s ours.”

They shouldn’t have let Ro do it alone. They shouldn’t have been goofing off. They shouldn’t have let her come.

They were going to be eaten and it was all their fault.

Völva’s pained eyes echoed in Kíli’s mind.

Once again, he’d failed.

***

“Don’t bother cooking them. Let’s just sit on them and squash them into jelly.”

“They should be sautéed and grilled with a sprinkle of sage.”

“Is this really necessary?” Dori huffed.

“Ooh, that does sound quite nice.”

“Untie us, you monsters!” Óin shouted.

“Take on someone your own size!” Glóin challenged.

“Never mind the seasoning; we ain’t got all night! Dawn ain’t far away, so let’s get a move on. I don’t fancy being turned to stone.”

Ro, who had been quiet since apologizing, jumped up. “Wait! You are making a terrible mistake.”

“You can’t reason with them, they’re half-wits!” Dori shouted.

“Half-wits?” Bofur laughed, humorlessly. “What does that make us?”

“Ro!” Fíli’s voice hitched slightly in warning.

“What are—” Kíli began.

“I meant with the seasoning!” Ro piped up.

What in Mahal’s name—?

The trolls froze for a moment.

“What about the seasoning?”

“Well have you smelt them?” She giggled. Kíli blinked. Okay… she’s officially lost it. “You’re going to need something stronger than sage before you plate this lot up.”

The rest of the Company just stared at her, not sure what she was trying to do.

“What do you know about cooking dwarf?”

“Shut up, and let the, uh, flurgaburburrahobbitdum talk.”

“Uh…” Ro shifted slightly. “The secret to cooking dwarf is, um…”

“Yes? Come on.”

“It’s, uh…”

“Tell us the secret.”

“Yes, yes, I’m telling you!” Ro shouted as though speaking to a petulant child. “The secret is to… skin them first!”

Kíli’s jaw dropped. She’d lost her mind. That was the only possible—

“Tom, get me the filleting knife.”

The dwarrow began to shout in protest.

“What a load of rubbish! I’ve eaten plenty with their skins on. Scuff them, I say, boots and all.”

“`e’s right! Nothing wrong with a bit of raw dwarf! Nice and crunchy.” He grabbed Bombur and dangled him upside down over his mouth.

“Not that one!” Ro shouted. “He—he’s infected!”

“You what?”

“He’s for worms in his… tubes.”

Bombur was dropped back into the pile of dwarrow in disgust.

“In fact they all have!” Ro continued. “They’re all infested with parasites. It’s a terrible business.” She shook her head. “I wouldn’t risk it. I really wouldn’t.”

“Parasites?” Óin asked. “Did she say parasites?”

“We don’t have parasites!” Kíli shouted. If he was going to die he would not have it as his future eater believing he had worms. “You have parasites!”

The rest of the dwarrow began to chime in when Kíli noticed Ro close her eyes and sigh as though THEY were the idiots. Then, he felt Thorin kick him in the shoulder.

Everyone froze for a moment.

“I’ve got parasites as big as my arm!” Óin shouted.

“Mind are the biggest parasites!” Kíli yelled quickly. Now he got it. “I’ve got huge parasites!”

“We’re riddled!” Nori shouted.

“Yes, I’m riddled,” Ori added.

“Yes we are,” Dori agreed. “Badly!”

“What would you have us do, then, let ‘em all go?” A troll asked.

“Well…” Ro laughed nervously.

“You think I don’t know what you’re up to? This little ferret is taking us for fools!”

“Ferret?” Ro looked at the troll with mild confusion and offense.

“Fools?” Another troll just looked confused.

The one who had wisened up to Ro’s plan made a grab for her and the dam jumped back and fell down.

Tharkûn suddenly appeared on top of a large rock above the clearing. “The dawn take you all!”

“Who’s that?”

“No idea.”

“Can we eat `im too?”

Gandalf struck the rock with his staff, splitting it in half, allowing sunlight to pour into the clearing. When the light hit the trolls’ skin, they began to burn, turning into stone amidst loud screams and bowls of pain. Within seconds, there were three stone statues in the clearing.

Chapter Text

Her parents were upon her almost as soon as they were freed. Her mum was cupping her face in her hands and sprinkling kisses across her cheeks and brow. Her da was looking her over to see if she was injured. Just a few bruises.

“I’m fine,” Ro sighed as they pulled away to help with the others. “Not hurt at all.”

“Fine?” She winced at Fíli’s shrill question. “FINE?” He stomped over to her. “You almost got eaten by trolls!”

“To be fair we were all almost eaten by trolls.”

That didn’t seem to help any as Fíli’s face became beet red.

“Come on, Fí,” Kíli said, coming up next to his brother. “She’s fine. We’re fine. It’s all good.”

Fíli glared at his younger brother and then back to Ro. “We told you not to go in there and you didn’t listen. I know you think you know what’s best, but you don’t. You almost died!”

Ro felt her cheeks burn. No. She wasn’t going to cry. “You’re not my brother, Fíli.”

“I’m well aware of that.”

Don’t cry. “You aren’t my uncle or my da or even my intended.” The rest of the Company was kind enough to act like they weren’t listening in. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. “You’re my crown prince and future king, but before any of that, you’re my friend and I thought I had it handled and you should have trusted my judgement.”

Fíli closed his eyes and took a deep breathe through his nose before releasing it. “Then can’t you pay me the same courtesy? I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Don’t cry. Ro closed her eyes. She was supposed to have gotten over this decades ago. She was just a friend. That’s all she was to him. It didn’t matter what she felt—HAD felt. She needed to move on and not let this moment of worry and protectiveness let her fall back into that painful place of rejection.

They had never talked about it, but what if he had someone waiting for him back in Ered Luin.

Someone beautiful like Adrina.

“There’s always going to be the chance of me getting hurt, Fíli,” Ro said gently. “I signed the same contract you all did, although mine included the possibility of dragonfire.” He and Kíli both paled at that. “I’m an adult, Fí.” She put her hand on his arm and squeezed it slightly. “If I make mistakes, let them be my own.”

Fíli’s blue eyes burrowed into her grey ones and, for a moment, Ro thought they looked almost like—

“Found it!” Someone, sounded almost like Bofur, shouted. The three turned to see that the hatted dwarf was motioning them to a cave.

“Just…” She turned her gaze back to Fíli when he spoke. “There’s nothing wrong with realizing your in over your head. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.” He turned and went to Thorin, who had been watching them for a while now.

“He’s just worried about you, you know,” Kíli said.

Ro sighed. “I know. I just… I’m not a child that gets lost in the snow anymore.”

Kíli chuckled a bit. “Yeah, but I think we’ll always remember that kid. Just as you’ll remember me as the pebble that would run stark naked through the house to get out of a bath and you’ll remember him as the guy who once fell out of a tree because a squirrel chucked an acorn at him.”

Giggles spilled from Ro’s throat and Kíli’s laugh mingled in with hers. Ro clutched at his coat sleeve as she began to double over. She could feel Kíli’s grin as he pressed his face to the top of her bowed head.

She missed this. This easiness.

“I’m going to see what I can find in the cave that has everyone so excited.” Kíli pulled away. “Want to come?”

Ro shook her head. “If that’s where the trolls stayed, no thanks. I could barely handle that smell as it was.”

Kíli chuckled and turned to go to the cave.

Ro sat down on a rock, trying to rebuild the crumbling part of her heart that she thought she had crammed into her drawer of unsent letters back in Bag End.

***

“Ro,” Gandalf’s voice pulled her from her thoughts.

“Hm?”

“Here,” he held out a blade that was the size of a sword to her, but a short very short sword to him. “This is about your size.”

Ro took the blade. It was perfectly balanced. She twirled the sword with her wrist. It wasn’t dwarven made. Nothing like The dagger Fíli had given her.

“The blade is of elvish make, which means it will glow blue when orcs or goblins are nearby.”

Ro nodded. “I’m not much of a sword user, but I suppose it would be useful. I don’t really know how to use it though.” She supposed she would have to ask her da how to use it. She was terribly out of practice when it came to swords.

“And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”

Ro thought of Durin.

He may not have loved her, but he had let her live.

She thought of the children.

At least he had let her live.

***

Kíli slid down into the crack of the rock and right into Ro.

He sagged against her for only a moment as the momentum brought him down. His stubbles chin scrapped against her cheek, his lips brushed along her temple. A shiver ran down Ro’s spine.

“Sorry,” he muttered as he straightened.

Ro shook her head in reply. “It’s nothing.”

A horn sounded and the Company froze.

On instinct, Kíli seemed to pull Ro close to him. He smelled of morning dew and feathers and trees.

They listened to the fighting outside. An orc fell in to where they were and the Company were ready to fight but found the orc already dead.

Thorin knelt down next to the orc and looked at the arrow that fell him. He plucked it from the orc’s back and then threw it down as though it were fire.

“Elves,” he spat.

Chapter Text

If Ro was to say anything kind about the elves, it would be that their city was beautiful.

Rivendell was all light and air and trees. It was nothing like the cities of men or hobbits or dwarrow. It was a beauty to behold and it was hard to believe that such a place should be hidden away. But, perhaps it was for the best. They would not be so well protected if it were so out in the open.

Ro herself didn’t really hate the elves. She had memories of their kindness in her days as Völva, but she knew that the did not understand the passage of time that the other races of Arda did. Their memories were long, but things went by so quickly for them, Ro was surprised they cared at all.

She rolled her eyes at Thorin’s rudeness though. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t planned on coming there. They were there now and at least they could get some rest in soft beds before they returned to traveling. Ro was very happy at the thought of sleep considering the physical and emotional exhaustion of situation with the trolls.

She had yet to talk to Fíli again since their argument by the troll cave. She understood why he had been worried. The lion prince was always quick to anger whenever someone he cared about was in danger. He was like Thorin in that way. But it still hurt her to think it took her being in danger to show how much he cared.

Her drawer of unsent letters came to mind.

No.

She would not think of it. Her feelings for Fíli were those of a child who preened under the affections of someone older who made her feel safe and secure. Perhaps it had been echoes Völva’s unrest and fear of being alone that had resounded in her at such a young age.

Fíli had made his feelings clear when he pushed her away after she left for the Shire. She was just a sister to him. Perhaps a cousin he felt the need to protect. She was younger and a dam as well. He was her prince in all ways but the one she used to dream.

Fíli was not her Durin.

If he was… no… his rejection would only be more painful. She couldn’t imagine being denied again as she had all those ages ago.

It would destroy her and she had no children to keep her from fading.

***

Elves appeared to have hobbit manners when it came to food, while the Company was… well, they were dwarrow. Now, the dwarrow had their manners and courtesies, but they were never ones to not take the chance to annoy elves.

She knew that Kíli was looking to bolster his dwarrowness when he learned the elleth he had been attempting to flirt with was not an elleth at all. He had tried to back peddle and comment that the elf would not tempt him even if he were an elleth because of the lack of facial hair.

Ro could not keep herself from giggling at his expense.

“Come on, Ro,” he whined. “It’s not funny.”

“It’s pretty funny.” She elbowed him playfully in the ribs. “Not enough facial hair?” The comment hurt, but only a little. “That’s the best excuse you could come up with?”

Her mum and da continued to laugh at Kíli’s expense. Ro could see Kíli was easily about to go into one of his moods and Ro could think of only one thing she could do that would not get her in more trouble with Thorin.

“Oi, Bofur!”

The hatted dwarf looked to her and smirked when he saw her take up her knife and fork into her fists. She began to bang them on the table, stomping her feet and it didn’t take too long for everyone to figure out what she was doing.

“Can you not do that?” the elf steward asked. “You’ll blunt them!”

“Ooooh!” Bofur cooed. “You hear that, lads? He said we'll blunt the knives!”

‘Blunt the knives,’ Kíli sang, ‘bend the forks.’

‘Smash the bottles,’ Fíli continued, ‘and burn the corks.’

‘Chip the glasses and crack the plates,’ the Company continued. ‘That’s what every elf lord hates!’

They began throwing their finished plates around towards one another to the end of the table where Bombur sat. Nothing would actually be chipped or cracked. But the elves didn’t know that.

Gandalf probably did though considering how he was smiling.

‘Cut the cloth, tread on the fat / Leave the bones on the bedroom mat / Pour the milk on the pantry floor / Splash the wine on every door!’

They began to play on their whistles and carried the bear with their fists and feet. Soon enough, Kíli was yanking her up onto the table to dance. He spun her around in his arms and Ro squealed with delight as they danced.

‘Dump the crocks in a boiling bowls / Pound them up with a thumping pole / When you're finished if they are whole / Send them down the hall to roll / That's what every elf lord hates!’

Kíli dipped her at the last word and brought her back up to him in a rush. He let go and they pulled apart to clap and laugh with the others. But even as they were helped back down to their seats, Ro’s heart beat wildly in her chest.

***

“It is good to see you again, Lady Völva,” a voice of silk came from behind her in the darkness. “Even if this body is different from the one I knew.”

Ro turned and saw a beautiful blonde elf standing before her, clothed in starlight. “Galadriel,” the name tasted familiar on her tongue. “You set me on this path, didn’t you?”

“Not entirely,” the elleth smiled. “This has always been the path you were meant to take. Your destiny has always been tied to the Line of Durin. It’s why you were reborn into it and raised in it.”

“Is Durin—”

“He is.”

Ro’s heart stuttered in her chest.

She was truly hopeless wasn’t she? She had not seen him or felt him for ages and yet she still reacted this way at the thought that he might be near. That he had been reborn as she had.

“Why have the Valar done this to us? Why are we—”

“You all have a part to play in what is to come.”

“But why? The world has changed. What could possibly be coming that the Valar have called us here? It cannot just be because of the mountain. We had no home there in the beginning.”

“The world is changed,” Galadriel said, looking out into the night. “I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

“Speak plainly. I don’t understand. What could Durin and I possibly…”

“It began with the forging of the Great Rings.”

A chill ran up Ro’s spine.

“Three were given to the elves, imortal, wisest and fairest of all beings.”

Ro could see the ring glitter on the elleth’s finger.

“Seven to the dwarf lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls.” She looked down to Ro. “Your Durin received such a ring in his third life.”

“Where is it?”

“Gone,” Galadriel said simply. “Taken.” She paused. “And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of men, who, above all else, desire power. None were made for the hobbits for you hid them well. You and your people were left untouched by it all.”

“I did what I could to protect my people.” But she hadn’t been able to protect Durin’s. “I don’t see the point in this story. Why are you telling it now?”

“They were, all of them, deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a master ring to control the others. And into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One ring to rule them all.”

“Yet he was defeated,” Ro said carefully.

“But not destroyed.”

“This is legend. This is all legend. A story told to children.”

“History became legend,” Galadriel insisted. “Legend became myth. For two thousand years the Ring passed out of all knowledge. Darkness has crept back into the forests of the world. Rumors of a shadow in the East… whispers of a nameless fear.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Your people have been hidden for too long. The time has come for hobbits to bring an end to this.”

“My people and I had nothing to do with that fight. We were not warriors. We were healers and smallfolk. We were not touched—”

“But Völva was.”

“Sauron was after my time.”

“You know him by another name. He made himself out to be your friend, but it was he that planted the seed of darkness into your line that frightened the hobbits away from the mountain. The one who has sent out scouts to end the Line of Durin. For, in the end, you and he both delayed his actions for an age.”

“Mairon.” Her heart beat wildly in her chest against the person who had torn her family apart.

“The very same.”

“Galadriel, why are you saying this now?”

“Because it is time.” The elleth looked out into the night again. “You must take your company and go. The stars sing that it is time for you to leave this place. Go. The Line of Durin will need you. They won’t be able to push the darkness away for a second time.”

“But how? I was long gone if Durin was able to break the control and power of Mairon. What help could I be? I was… I am nothing.”

“You are perhaps the most important person in Arda right now. You will know what to do when the time comes. Now go.”

Chapter Text

Fíli watched as Dwalin fiddled with Ro’s pack again. She, in turn, continued to bat his hand away giving him a good natured glare when he continued to offer to take it since the night was young and they had not slept and could not sleep until they were well enough away from Rivendell. Because of his position, he was able to see Nori occasionally lift something from Ro’s back and stuff it in her own or her husband’s. Fíli shook his head, but smiled. It was a sweet gesture and looked as natural as breathing.

An ache twisted in his chest. He hadn’t properly apologized for getting angry with her after the troll incident. She was not avoiding him, but he felt as though the Company were keeping them apart to let the two simmer.

He thought briefly of the arguments he and Völva had before his mind had dwindled into gold sickness. They had a similar argument where Völva had become determined that she did not need to tell Durin or even Dvarin where she was going. The two dwarrow had lost their minds with worry when she had gone missing, only for her to turn up with a bunch of flowers in her basket.

Fíli needed to apologize and he wasn’t able to until later that morning when they had found a cave to rest briefly before setting out again and actually sleeping the following night.

“Ro.”

She looked away from Ori, who she had been talking to, and looked up to him. Her grey eyes looked almost silver in the light. Ori fidgeted slightly and Ro waved him away saying it was fine. “It was only Fíli,” afterall.

How that statement hurt.

Ori left them although it was obvious he was watching how the situation went.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “About getting angry with you after the trolls.”

She looked down. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not. You aren’t a child anymore.” Thank Mahal for that. “And I shouldn’t treat you like one.”

She stepped forward and got on her toes, pressing her forehead to his own. “It was always your job to protect me when we were pebbles.” She sighed softly. He could feel the slight heat of her breath against his lips. “I know that’s a hard habit to break.”

“Even so,” he replied.

She got back onto her heels and looked back up at him. Ro smiled at him gently, although her eyes shone. “Even so.” She stepped back. “I better go help Bombur with the food before we all rest up.”

Fíli watched her as she went.

***

Fíli watched as Kíli got Ro to laugh. He’d been doing that a lot lately.

Thorin’s words about Ro’s freedom and her possibly being Kíli’s One filled the lion prince’s head. She would always have his heart and soul, that much was certain. He wasn’t even certain if he loved Völva as much as he loved Ro.

Völva was a strange mix of Durin’s feelings and Fíli’s own. There had been an underlying flaw in Durin’s love for Völva. It had been physical more than it had been emotional. It wasn’t to say that Durin did not love Völva. But he hadn’t loved her enough to look for her and he didn’t love her enough to shed his duty and never marry again.

Fíli wasn’t sure if he would even be able to. The dwarven lords just might have to tie him to the altar of Mahal to get him to marry anyone save her. There were none who held his heart or his mind as Ro did. She was his One and he loathed the thought of giving another dam or a child the heartbreak Durin had given his second wife and only son.

Fíli couldn’t imagine every being able to betray his heart like that. He understood Durin’s love for Völva, but it did not compare to what Fíli felt for Ro.

They settled in for the night and Kíli made his way over to Fíli and laid down. “You and Ro make up?”

“Yes.”

“Good because it’s super awkward when you guys argue. It’s weird. You guys almost never argued when she lived in Ered Luin.”

Fíli shrugged. “I guess we changed.”

“You also can’t pick her up and move her when you know she’s about to do something stupid.”

Fíli closed his eyes and remembered the warmth of her as she pressed her forehead against his. He wasn’t sure holding her would keep her from doing something stupid.

It would just make him do something stupid too.

***

They had all barely settled in the cave, Fíli’s heart still pounded loudly in his chest. He’d almost died. The pure horror in Kíli and Ro’s eyes as they had been pulled away. The relief of not dying had lasted for only so long.

When Ro had lost her footing and slipped along the edge, Fíli’s heart had stopped. He would thank Mahal every day for the fact that she had been pulled up. The thought of losing her.

Mahal. He would not be able to take it.

He could not even imagine a world where Ro were not living in it.

Now they could rest in a cave away from the cold. Her parents were spooned against each other with Ro’s back pressed into her mother’s chest. Fíli has the first guard duty since they did not know what else could be dwelling in the mountains considering there were stone giants.

He glanced over at Ro and saw that she was still awake although everyone else was resting. “Are you alright?” he asked in a low whisper. His voice almost broke at the thought that she had almost not been. “Are you okay?”

“You almost died,” she whispered back. “I saw you get crushed.” Tears began to catch on her lashes. Ro had never been an overly weepy person, but her heart was too big and this quest was so straining. “I almost lost you.”

Fíli scooted closer to her and put his hand over her outstretched one. “You will never lose me. I promise.” He squeezed her hand gently. “I promise.”

“Fíli…” her voice caught in her throat. “I—”

“What’s that?” Fíli wanted to hear what Ro had to say, but something was glowing.

Ro followed his gaze and looked at her sword which had shifted in its sheath. She pulled her sword slightly to allow the blade to be visible. It was glowing a bright blue.

Something shifted and the sound of gears began to grind and cracks began to form along the sand floor.

“Wake up!” Fíli roared. “Wake up!”

Before any of them could truly react, the floor collapsed under them as though it were a door. Fíli grabbed Ro to him and held her as they fell down a shoot. They all cried out in panic until they landed abruptly in a giant wooden cage. As they struggled to get up, a horde of goblins attacked them.

The goblins pushed and whacked as the Company struggled against them. Ro and Fíli fought back to back as they tried to subdue their captors. They hadn’t realized they were near a ledge. Ro screamed as her foot fell and pulled her down off the side of the jagged path. Fíli dropped his weapon and fell to his stomach grabbing her wrist.

“Fíli!” She held onto his as well.

Something hard and long hit his back, knocking the air from his lungs but he held tight. “Just hold on, I’ve got you.”

She tried to find purchase to help him but there was nothing. “Fíl, you have to—”

“I’m not losing you again!” He shouted above the chaos behind him. “Just hold on!”

Her eyes widened “Fíli! Look out!”

He felt something slice into his shoulder and Fíli cried out in pain before he heard someone know whoever hit him away. One of his arms spasmed at the contact and Fíli held on tightly with his good arm.

“Just hold on, Ro,” he begged, slipping forward over the edge. “Just hold on.”

She was slipping from his grasp. “You can’t hold us both.”

“It will,” he assured her. “It will, Ro.” Blood began to soak through his shoulder, sliding down his hand and dripping to Ro’s cheek. He tried to pull them up but there was too much pulling them down.

“Fíli…” She was smiling up at him as a tear slid down her cheek. “I’m sorry.”

She let go.

“Please,” Fíli whispered as she slipped through his hand, falling into the darkness below. “Ro!”

An image of her dancing in his arms. His lips pressed against her brow. Her forehead pressed against his own.

He screamed, continuing to reach for her as she fell from sight. “Ro!”

He didn’t even fight as the goblins grabbed him and dragged him with the others.

He had lost his One and he had never felt so cold.

Chapter Text

Ro winced as she struggled to sit up, but found lying down more comfortable at the moment. She had landed on something soft because the hobbit doubted that this was what Yavanna’s Garden looked like—she then wondered if she would even go to Yavanna’s Garden or if she would got to Mahal’s Halls. She was underground still in what appeared to be a dark cavern—Mahal’s then, if she were actually dead. She looked up and could not even see the ledge she had fallen from.

Fíli…

Her heart twisted terribly in her chest at the memory of his blue eyes when she let him go, but she couldn’t drag him down with her. The others needed him. Kíli needed him too.

Kíli…

He would be sad too. He was always so happy, or at least tried to be. Ro wondered if they all thought her dead. Would he be heartbroken. She thought perhaps…

Ro shook her head. She needed to think of a way out. She NEEDED to get out. Thinking about the princes or… or her parents would not help her.

She heard a groan and Ro froze. She looked through the leaf-like heads of the mushrooms and saw a goblin lying nearby. The creature was breathing but barely. She heard a noise that was somewhere between a snakes hiss and a cats purr and a pale skinny creature crawled towards the goblin slowly, as though assessing its prey.

The creature stopped and gave a sort of squeal. “Yes,” It croaked. “Yes. Yes! Yes!” It then began to cough, convulsing in on itself. “Gollum. Gollum.”

Ro was not certain why, but she knew—she KNEW—this creature was a hobbit, or some type of one at least. She held her breath as she watched the creature—Gollum, perhaps—began to pull the goblin away by its feet. The goblin was only dragged for a moment before it regained consciousness and began flailing about. Gollum screamed and grabbed a rock, pounding the goblin on the head with it. Ro covered her mouth in horror as the creature pounded away until the goblin was either unconscious or dead. Gollum continued his trek to drag the goblin away.

“Nasty goblinses,” Gollum hissed. “Better than old bones, Precious; better than nothing.”

Ro waited until she could no longer hear Gollum before she sat up. She checked herself over and found a few scratches and bruises, but nothing she needed to heal right away. Fíli’s dagger was still strapped to her hip. She sighed in relief. She wasn’t sure what she would do if she had lost it.

Her elvish letter opener was nearby, the blue glow meant the goblin was either still alive or there were even more nearby. Ro picked her sword up and held it tightly in her grip. She felt safer holding it. Something heavy pulled at her heart and Ro looked down and saw a gold ring on the ground. Slowly, she bent down and picked it up. She straightened and examined the ring carefully.

It was a plain gold ring. Even so, Ro recognizes this power, this darkness that surrounded it. It was the same power that had taken her Durin from her. The same power that drove Völva from her home and had her children grow up without a father. Her hand curled around the ring. The Ring.

Was this the path she was meant to take?

What of the quest?

Ro bit her lip and closed her eyes. That quest would come first. Once they got the Arkenstone, they would go to the Iron Hills to get aid to fight the dragon. In that time, Ro and a few others who were willing to go could take the Ring to Mount Doom to destroy it. It would be almost a month’s journey. But they could do it. They could end it all at once and the Line of Durin would be safe.

Even if Durin never loved her… she would keep them all safe.

Ro heard what sounded like Gollum’s voice singing. She tucked the Ring into her pocket and followed the sound.

A lighter sounding voice seemed to come from the creature. “Too many boneses, Precious! Nothing of flesh!”

“Shut up!” came its own harsh reply. “Get its skin off. Start with its head.”

The lighter voice began to sing. “The cold hard lands, they bites our hands, they gnaws our feet. The rocks and stones, they’re like old bones, all bare of meat. Cold as death, they have no breath, it’s good to eat!”

Ro rounded a corner and saw Gollum’s silhouette on top of a rock in the middle of a small lake. The creature continued his song as he beat the goblin, smashing its head with a rock. Gollum froze and looked in Ro’s direction. Ro his behind the rock, realizing that of course she would be noticed with her sword still glowing. However, the light began to flicker before dying out completely. The goblin was dead.

She peaked out from behind the rock and her heart stopped when she saw that the creature was no longer there. She looked up and saw Gollum growling down it like a spider. Ro stumbled back as the creature jumped down in front of her.

“Bless us and splash us, Precious! That’s a meaty mouthful.” He tried to approach her, but she held her sword to his throat, causing him to scuttle backwards. “Aaahh. Gollum. Gollum. Ack”

“Back,” she said steadily. “Stay back. I’m warning you, don’t come any closer.”

“It’s got an elfish blade,” the creature said, “but it’s not an Elfs. Not an Elfs, no. What is it, Precious? What is it?”

“My name is… well… Ro,” dwarrow didn’t have last names. “Ro Baggins.”

“Bagginses? What is a Bagginses, Precious?”

“I’m a hobbit.”

“Oh!” Gollum seemed to cheer. “We like Goblinses, batses, and fishes, but we hasn’t tried Hobbitses before. Is it soft? Is it juicy?”

He tried to approach her again, but Ro held out her sword warningly. “Keep your distance! Or I’ll use this if I have to!” Gollum’s snarled at her but Ro held her ground. “I don’t want any trouble, do you understand? Just show me the way to get out of here, and I’ll be on my way.”

Gollum tilted his head. “Why, is it lost?”

“Yes, and I want to get unlost as soon as possible.”

The softer voice replied. “Ooh! We knows! We knows safe paths for Hobbitses. Safe paths in the dark.”

“Shut up,” the harsher voice came.

Ro blinked. “I didn’t say anything.”

“Wasn’t talking to you,” the harsh voice growled.

However, the softer voice added. “But yes, we was, Precious, we was.”

Ro remembered Durin had been like this in the beginning. There had been moments where he had been soft and gentle towards her and then violent and possessive the next. But she did not have time for this.

“I don’t have time for your games,” she said harshly, tightening her hold on her sword. “I—”

Gollum perked up. “Games? We love games, doesn’t we, Precious? Does it like games? Does it? Does it? Does it like to play?”

“Maybe?”

Gollum clapped happily. “What has roots as nobody sees, is taller than trees. Up, up, up it goes, and yet, never
grows.”

“The mountain.”

The creature laughed. “Yess, yess, oh, let’s have another one, eh?” the lighter voice said. “Yes, come on, do it again, do it—do it again. Ask us.”

“No!” the harsh voice came. “No more riddles. Finish her off. Finish her now. Gollum! Gollum!”

Gollum rushed her, dodging her sword and knocked her to the ground. His teeth sank into her neck and she screamed.

“No!”

She pushed against his head and everything became white.

***

Her head was one fire.

It was as though she were being slowly unraveled. As though everything that made her her were being torn apart to show the darkness and bitterness that remained through the ages.

Durin had remarried. He had given a dam a child and raised him while her own children had been left fatherless. Life after life he remarried while she remained alone without even a child to ease her pain.

His people had been able to thrive while hers had remained in the shadows, shut away from the rest of Arda. Her people, their history had been lost for ages. He had let them go. He had not searched for them.

He had not come for her. In not one of his lives did he ever come for her.

She had been a mistake.

A mistake.

Mistake.

Mistake.

Durin didn’t love her.

No!

That wasn’t true.

It couldn’t have all been imagined.

The way he would hold her as they danced. The way his lips whispered against her skin in the slow moments of the evening when everyone else had gone to bed. His forehead pressed against hers.

That could not all have been fake.

He had loved her.

She knew he had.

He had.

But it didn’t matter. She needed to protect him—protect all of them.

This was beyond Völva and Durin. This was beyond the lives they had lead. This was beyond her broken heart.

Her family, the people she loved most in the world, needed her. Arda needed her.

Ro pushed back.

***

Ro opened her eyes and Gollum stumbled back screeching.

“No!” he wailed pulling at what little hair he had on his head. “Makes it stop, Precious! Makes it stop! Sméagol wants it to stop!”

Ro pushed herself back, putting her hand over the bite mark, letting it heal at least a little to stop infection. What had just happened? She watched as Gollum writhed against himself, ducking his head down and crying out in pain.

“Sméagol wants it to stop!”

Perhaps his name was Sméagol, a Stoor Hobbit name, if she remembered correctly, so not one of hers. Had the Ring made him like this?

Ro stood carefully. “Sméagol,” she walked closer to him. “Does Sméagol hurt?”

“It hurts us, Móðirin,” the poor creature wailed. “It hurts.”

It somehow knew The title other hobbits had given Völva. The name that means “the Mother.” Ro approached him as though he were a child. “You’ve been gone a long time Sméagol.”

“It mades us kill our friend.”

Ro’s heart went out to the poor creature that had once been a hobbit. The creature’s skin became more like ash and Ro saw cracks beginning to form in the skin. Oh… he had become too corrupted. Mairon has perfected his technique after all.

She took the creature into her arms and held him as if he were a child who had suffered a nightmare. A long nightmare. “Shhhh…” she whispered. “It will all be over soon.” Ro rocked them gently, stroking his back. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to come sooner Sméagol.”

“Will Sméagol be able to say sorry to friend in the Lady’s garden?”

“I hope so, Sméagol.”

“Precious is gone, Móðirin.”

“Soon.”

“Sméagol is tired.”

Ro closed her eyes. “Then go to sleep, Sméagol. Go to sleep. I’ll be right here till you do.”

“Sings to us…”

Ro thought for a moment.

‘They say there's a place where dreams have all gone / They never said where, but I think I know / It's miles through the night just over the dawn / On the road that will take me home’

Sméagol began to purr softly, his body sank so that his head might rest on Ro’s lap. She carefully brushed at his hair with her fingers as she saw his body begin to crumble.

‘I know in my bones, I've been here before / The ground feels the same, though the land's been torn / I've a long way to go, the stars tell me so / On this road that will take me home’

She felt him breathe one more time before he was still and turned to ash. Ro took a shaky breath and prayed to Yavanna and hoped that he had found peace in the end.

Ro carefully stood up and touched the outside of her pocket to make sure the Ring was still there. It could get lost there. But she did not wish to bare it in the same chain as Kíli’s necklace. She smiled softly. This was why she always carried an extra chain, she supposed.

Ro pulled out the extra chain and slipped the Ring on it before putting it back on, hiding it away on her person.

She needed to find the others. She needed to get out. Ro walked over to a wall and pressed her hands and forehead to it. She was part dwarf, no matter how far back that went in her lifetimes. Stone sense had to remain somewhere. Ro closed her eyes and felt the mountain. She felt the lake underneath it. She felt the wind. Ro focused on that.

She opened her eyes and, keeping her hand on the wall, made her way towards the exit. Once she found herself outside, she began to run, hearing distantly the sound of dwarrow feet pounding against the floor of the expanding forest. She saw them all and was surprised to see and hear Gandalf.

“Five, six, seven, eight...Bifur, Bofur...that’s ten...Fili, Kili...that’s twelve...and Bombur that makes thirteen. Where’s Ro? Where is our hobbit?” the wizard demanded.

“She was with Fíli!” She heard her da shout.

“She fell,” came the blond prince’s reply. He sounded so utterly broken.

Ro’s heart went out to him. “I did,” she said, stepping out from the trees. “But it would take a lot more than that to keep me away from you lot. A fall? Bah. I doubt even a balrog could keep me from coming back to all of you.”

Suddenly, Kíli’s arms were wrapped around her, lifting and spinning her around before she could even think. His face pressed into her neck, his lips ghosting against her flesh as his warm breath fanned against her.

“I knew you were okay,” he whispered, still hugging her.

Ro hugged him back, burying her face into his neck as well. She relished in his warmth and scent before the rest of the Company hugged her as well, their company and family back together again.

Chapter Text

Völva rested her head against Durin’s chest, listening to his heartbeat even out as they caught their breath. Her husband rubbed her back, his calloused hands scratching against her skin and causing a tingle to crawl up her spine. Völva shifted and ran her nose along his bearded jaw. Durin groaned against the friction and wrapped his arms more firmly around her. Even though they were still recovering from their very recent lovemaking, Durin seemed ready to sink into her again. 

“You have a meeting tomorrow morning,” she told him breathlessly as he began to mouth her neck. Oh, she was going to have bruises tomorrow. But so was he. 

“I don’t care,” he growled, his lips descending to her chest, cradling himself between her thighs.

Völva grasped at his hair, fisting at his braids. “Durin—oh!”

“I could never tire of this,” he grunted as he slid his hands down her body. 

“Durin, please—”

“Please, what?” He was smirking up at her and Völva found herself smirking back. 

She put all her weight forward and knocked her husband onto his back. She straddled his hips and tossed her loose red hair over her shoulder, her beads clicking against each other. Völva slid her hands slowly across the hard planes of his chest. 

“Don’t play with me.”

Durin smiled up at her, his blue eyes shining with amusement. He grabbed her backside and ground her hips down onto his. 

Völva gasped out a giggle. “You’re going to regret that, Durin.”

“I’ll never regret you, Âzyungel,” he grinned, rolling them around so he was atop her again. “Never.”

***

The moment of happy respite was dashed the second they heard the howling of wards. 

“Out is the frying pan…” Thorin muttered. 

“... and into the fire,” Gandalf continued. “Run! Run!

Night comes upon them quickly as they ran from the warg pack. No matter how quick the dwarrow could run, the wargs still caught up to them. Ro was barely able to duck behind a rock as a warg’s jaw snapped over her head. The warg growled in annoyance and charged at her. 

Ro drew her sword and let the warg impale its head in it. She slid the sword from it’s skull and it slumped to the ground, dead. A few other wargs had caught up to them but they were quickly dispatched. 

They continued to run, reaching a large outcropping of land with a sparse amount of tree. It was a cliff there was no way down or around it. They were being cornered. 

“Up into the trees, all of you!” the wizard shouted. “Come on, climb!”

The Company did their best to climb up the trees, helping each other move. 

“They’re coming!” Thorin shouted. 

Ro’s da hoisted her up into the tree to her mum. The two dams climbed higher and higher with Dwalin following closely behind. The wargs began to circle the trees, waiting for their leader or alpha or whatever it was that headed their pack. The beasts ceased their growling and turned to face the direction from whence they came. Ro looked and her heart stuttered in her chest. 

The orc that had sworn to end her family’s line. To end the Line of Durin. 

“Azog.”

The Pale Orc rose towards them on a white warg. 

She heard Thorin repeat her horror, his voice shaking at the mix of fear and anger that the orc still lived. 

The white warg growled and his master sneered as he spoke. “Nuzdigid? Nuzdi gast? Ganziligi unarug obod nauzdanish, Torin undag Trainob.”

Oh, Mahal, he had been the one to capture Thrain. 

“It cannot be,” She could hear Thorin’s broken whisper.

“Kod, Toragid biriz,” the orc said, pointing to Thorin. “Wororida!”

At his command, the wargs leapt towards the trees, trying to scrabble up the trunks, snapping at branches and breaking them between their jaws. The trees began to shake violently at the assault and the Company held on for dead life. 

“Sho gad adol!” Azog roared. 

The weight of the wargs climbing causes the tree Ro, her parents and several other dwarrow are in began to uproot itself from the ground, leaning towards the cliff. As more attempted to climb, the tree tipped over and landed on the next tree. Ro and her family jumped from the falling tree to the next, but it fell as well, falling over like an arrangement of cards. Everyone managed to jump onto the very past tree at the edge of the cliff the tree had yet to fall over, but Ro had little faith in such a thing and wished one of her gifts was plantlife. 

Azog’s rumbled laugh echoed against the empty sky and a chill ran up Ro’s spine. 

Suddenly, a pine cone of fire is thrown amidst the warts who begin to tip and whine against the fire. Ro looks up. 

“Fíli!” the wizard calls. 

The Company began to gather pine cones and shared Gandalf’s fire, letting it spread from hand to hand as they began to throw the flaming pine cones like missiles at the wargs. The fire began to spread, forcing the wargs to retreat. The Pale Orc roared in frustration as the Company began to cheer. 

They had celebrated too early as they all felt the roots of their last tree begin to give way. The tree tipped over the edge, crashing down and knocking many of the dwarrow around. Ro heard her uncles Ori and Dori shout. She glanced behind herself and sees her mum’s older brother holding onto Gandalf’s staff with Ori holding onto Dori’s leg.  

Ro looked around and felt her heart drop at their precarious situation. They all might die here. Her stomach twisted into knots. 

“I’m sorry, Durin,” she whispered, tears pricking at her vision. “I failed.”

Ro senses movement near her and she looked up. Thorin had managed to pull himself up and had drawn his sword. The king slowly walked down the trunk, fire and smoke billowing all around them. They all watched in horror as Thorin ran through the fire towards Azog and his warg. The Pale Orc opens his arms wide with a smug smile on his lips, taunting Thorin to come at him. Thorin raised his sword and oaken shield before him. Azog crouched with his warg and the beast leapt at Thorin. The king tried to swing his sword but the warg’s forepaw hit him squarely in the chest, knocking Thorin to the ground. The dwarf got back to his feet quickly as Azog and his steed turned around to charge at Thorin again. The Pale Orc swung his mace around and smashed Thorin’s face before the dwarf had even a second to react. Thorin was flung to the ground once more. 

“No!” Balin cried.

Ro managed to push herself up to stand on the tree as Azog roared. The white warg clamped its jaws around Thorin and the dwarf cried out in pain. Ro heard a branch snap and saw her da hanging over the edge of the cliff. 

“Thorin!” he shouted. “No!”

The dwarf king managed to hit the warg’s head with the pommel of his sword, causing the beast to fling Thorin several feet away onto a flat rock, knocking his sword from his hand.

“Biriz torag khobdudol.”

Ro pulled out her glowing sword as another orc jumped from his own steed ro approach Thorin.  He placed his sword to the dwarf’s neck, ready to take Thorin’s head. Before the orc’s blade could finish its downward arc, Ro rushed him, knocking the orc to the ground. She managed a fatal stab through the chest and yanked her sword out. She stood between the now unconscious Thorin and Azog to protect her king. 

“My name is Rosalin, daughter of the Line of Durin and you will not touch him!”

Azog growled at her. “Durin.”

The Pale Orc leapt from his steed and Ro’s heart thundered in her chest. She heard someone call her name and she almost wanted to believe it was Durin, but she would never know. Ro grabbed Thorin’s heavy shield and blocked Azog’s first blow. She swung her sword at him, barely managing a scratch. He was smiling at her and Ro knew he was playing with her. 

Azog grabbed Ro by the neck as one might grab a chicken. On instinct, Ro dropped her sword and began clawing at his hand and wrist. He sneered at her but, but Ro has no idea what he said. She faintly heard others call her name. 

Âzyungel !”

Ro pulled the dagger Fíli had gifted her all those years ago from her hip and stabbed Azog in the eye. The Pale Orc roared in pain as he reared back. He dropped her to the ground and Ro sheathed her dagger before picking up her glowing sword again. She held it between herself and the orcs. 

“You want to end our line?” She shouted. “You’ll have to go through me!”

Azog roared at his orcs to kill her, they were barely able to approach her when Fíli and Kíli rushed forward to defend her. The Line of Durin would not end that day.