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On the Road to Find Out

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OTRTFO

“Misty Morning, don’t see no sun

I know you’re out there somewhere…”

            -Bob Marley


 

Sona blinked her eyes open and raised her arms overhead and stretched, popping the stiff muscles in her back. Her toes brushed the end of her sleeping bag, and she flopped over onto her stomach with a groan.

“I’m getting too old for sleeping outdoors, Sasha.”

A cold nose thrust itself into her long, dark brown, hair, mussing it further, and Sona squealed as a wet tongue slurped over her ear.

“Alright, I’m awake!” She sat up and swiped the sleep from her eyes. “Impatient dog.”

The chocolate lab just sat before her, tongue lolling out to the side, like the goofball she was.

Sona crawled out of her sleeping bag and shuffled over to Sasha’s doggie pack and pulled out a ziplock bag of kibble, poured some into a bowl and wetted it down a bit from her canteen. The dog quivered silently, tense as a drawn bow, but did not move when the stainless steel bowl was placed before her. Sona backed away, and watched as a string of drool dripped from the dog’s lips, and though her gaze was fixed completely on the food before her, Sasha still did not move.

“Okay—”

Even before the word was fully out of Sona’s mouth, the dog pounced on the bowl and was inhaling her food greedily.

Chuckling to herself, Sona kicked her sleeping bag out of the way and positioned her self on the end of her mat. She began humming a melody that had been working its way round her mind for the last few days, and she thought maybe it held some promise if she gave it her full attention when she got back home. Sona faced east to begin her first of three sun-salutations and the tune died on her lips.

“Where did all this mist come from?”

It had not just suddenly appeared, but in the fuss of waking up and feeding Sasha, Sona hadn’t noticed it before. In all the years she’d come to Big Bear Mountain to ski in the winters and hike in the summers she’d never encountered a fog like this. Other than good old-fashioned LA smog, creepy mist and fog just not something often experienced in SoCal. Unless it was on the set of a Hollywood movie.

The whisper of a breeze rustled against her bare arms, and Sona felt her hair stand up on end as the mist was blown away and she got a good look around.

Gone were the pine trees of Big Bear. The gorgeous vista of the ski lodge below had been replaced by oaks and ferns and moss covered boulders and snarled tree roots over rambling terrain for as far as she could see.

Sona’s heart hammered against her chest and she forced herself to take a deep, shuddering breath.

She had absolutely no idea where she was or how she had gotten there.


 

A/N

I’ll try to keep these things (author’s notes) short, and I’ll try to keep my updates frequent. This is my first foray into writing Middle Earth fanfic (but certainly not writing). I just cannot seem to shake this story, so out it must come! Also, I love to hear from my readers, so message me here or find me on tumblr at jennywren28. Happy reading!

Chapter Text

Into the woods without delay

But careful not to lose the way

Into the woods who knows what may

Be lurking on the journey

            -Prologue, Into The Woods


 

Sona swore under her breath as she picked up her iPhone. “No signal. Of course.” She patted Sasha on the head, who, now that she was fed, could tell her master was in distress, and was leaning the bulk of her eighty pounds against Sona’s leg, nearly knocking Sona over, though comforting her nevertheless. “At least it’s not dead.”

            Switching her phone into airplane mode to preserve the battery life, she set it aside, and pulled on her hiking boots. She quickly downed a Luna bar and chased it with some water from her camelback while neatly but efficiently re-packing her backpack. Her hand lingered a moment on a small, silver, cylindrical urn before placing it gently between some clothing in the middle of her gear. On top of it all she placed her Martin Backpacker guitar*. Sasha sat patiently while Sona buckled her doggie pack around her, and the dog gave her a quick lick on her cheek for her efforts.

            “Well, I’m glad one of us isn’t worried.” Sona scratched the lab under her chin, and tried to ignore the pounding of her own heart.

            Standing up, Sona pulled out her map and compass, knowing it was pointless. Knowing that nothing surrounding her would match what she was looking at, but she had to be sure.

She pursed her full lips together and gave a quick nod before folding the map back up and shoving it in a cargo pocket. Sona swung her pack onto her shoulders and opened her compass, double checking it against the position of the sun. Then, whistling a cheery tune** to try to calm her nerves, and, having no better plan, began walking east, toward where the ski lodge should have been. 


 

1 week later

            Sona slumped on a stump while tears silently streaked down her face. Sasha timidly licked her cheek in an effort to cheer her, and Sona was too exhausted to stop her. A brilliant sunset blazed to the west, painting the sky in vivid oranges and pinks she’d only ever seen before when visiting her extended family in Mumbai.

            It only made her want to cry all the harder. Her food had run out two days prior, as had Sasha’s, though she had rationed it as best she could.

            “I’m sorry, Sasha. I should have been better prepared.”

            The dog leaned against Sona’s leg and rested her head on her knee.

            “I know you don’t blame me. I honestly thought packing food for three days for a simple overnight trip was overkill.” She wiped her eyes and let out a shuddering breath. So this was it. This was how she would go. Lost in some crazy woods she’d never seen the likes of—at least not in Southern California—slowly starving to death. And the worst of it all was she’d doomed Sasha to a similar fate.

            “Though,” she reasoned as she ran her fingers through Sasha’s brown fur, “I suppose you can hunt and get by on whatever you find. Whereas I’m just useless—”

            She cut off as Sasha suddenly surged to her feet and pointed her entire body in rigid attention to their right.

            Getting slowly to her feet, Sona looked in the direction the dog was fixed on. Though, given the darkness that was falling, she couldn’t see anything but hazy outlines of trees beyond a few dozen feet. “What is it, girl? Is someone there?”

            Leaving her pack behind, too exhausted to carry it, she crept in the direction Sasha had indicated, with the lab silently moving behind her. At first she saw and heard nothing, but after a few minutes of walking as quietly as possible, knowing how loudly sound traveled at night, she poked her head around a wide tree, and saw him.

            Rustic, though well groomed in his appearance, a man sat on a log broodingly munching on what appeared to be some sort of jerky. He was dressed oddly, wearing what appeared to layers of dark blue velvet and leather, along with a shirt of small angular armored plates. Thick, fur lined boots wrapped around his calves and feet, which matched the fur lined, leather, sleeveless coat he wore atop it all.

The mountain man’s hair tumbled around his shoulders in dark, loose waves, and in the waning light Sona could just make out a few silver streaks coming off his crown and temples. Despite the light coat of dust on his face and hands, Sona could tell he was fair-skinned, much lighter than the natural golden hue her Indian mother’s genes had given her.

In the back of her mind she knew she should have been startled by his appearance and clothing, but instead her eyes were riveted on his mouth, or rather, the food he was putting into it. He took a bite of a biscuit of some sort, sending a few crumbs into his short, neatly trimmed, dark beard, and Sona’s stomach took that moment to let out a huge growl.

            The mountain man surged to his feet, biscuit forgotten, with a sword steady in his hand.


 

A/N

First off, I’m not Indian or Hindu, so if you are and I get something wrong with Sona culturally please LMK ASAP so I can get it right. I’ve done a lot of research and talked to Indian friends, but that will only get you so far. I know I’m bound to mess something up – but rather than let my fear of getting something wrong or offending someone inadvertently keep me from telling the stories I want to tell about the people I want to tell them about… (though if I do offend you, please let me know and how/why, and I’ll do all I can to fix it, to include a preemptive apology here)

Same goes for the Tolkien stuff. I’m not a Middle Earth scholar by any means. So, if I horribly mess something up, let me know. I’ve done (and am still doing) a ton of research… but again, that will only get you so far.

*Martin guitars in general are pretty awesome, and their backpacker guitar is absolutely amazing and exactly perfect for what it’s called. They are tiny, yet carry the sound of a full sized guitar and are perfect for traveling/backpacking.

**The cheery tune Sona was whistling was “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles, but I couldn’t find a way to include the title or lyrics without interrupting the flow of the story.

Chapter Text

I don't know what's right and what's real anymore

And I don't know how I'm meant to feel anymore

And when do you think it will all become clear?

'Cause I'm being taken over by the fear

            -Lily Allen            


 

“Who’s there?” His voice, deep and rumbling, was so demanding, Sona almost forgot herself and answered.

            Clamping a hand over her mouth, Sona crouched lower behind the tree. There was no way she was going to present herself, a woman traveling alone, to a crazy mountain man swinging a sword.

            “Show yourself,” he growled as he stepped toward the tree. Eyes narrowed, he peered into the shadows where Sona was hiding, and she posed herself to run.

            He was shorter than her by a couple inches, and weighed down with all his armor, he had to be slower than her, she reasoned. Or rather, hoped.

            Just as he took another step forward and Sona was about to make a run for it, Sasha burst from the underbrush on the man’s left and launched herself at him, growling and barking the entire time.

            The lab knocked the startled man flat on his backside, and then was off in the opposite direction. The mountain man, with a speed and agility that shocked Sona, flipped off his back and onto his feet and gave chase. As soon as he was into the trees and out of sight, Sona darted out from her cover and scooped up the remains of his meal, and was racing back to her gear before her mind caught up with what she’d just done.

            “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh. I must be crazy” She bent down to grab her pack and kept running, wincing at the loud sound her guitar made as her pack thumped against her back. Hopefully Sasha had led the scary sword guy far enough away that he didn’t hear it. She knew the lab would easily out race him and find her way back to Sona.


 

After what felt like miles of running—though Sona knew that was adrenaline and fear talking—she collapsed against the side of a massive, moss covered log.

Om Namah Shivaya,” she gasped out, bringing her breathing under control. “Om Namah Shivaya.” Then, once more, slower this time, “Om Namah Shivaya.”

She let out a slow shuddering breath and then waited to hear the heavy footfalls of the man she was certain would be pursuing her. 

And there was nothing.

Nothing but the night noises of crickets and owls and other night creatures one would expect to find in woods such as these. Just as she felt her shoulders relax and made to reach for the food she’d swiped, Sasha bounded over a fern and plopped herself next to Sona’s side. Her tongue lolled out as she panted heavily from what was obviously a hard run for her, but Sona couldn’t help but laugh as she imagined the dog having the time of her life leading the mountain man on a merry chase.

The giddy laughter died as a pang of guilt swept over Sona, and she reached out to rub the lab’s belly. “I haven’t taken you out and exercised you like I should have.” Sasha’s leg began to twitch involuntarily as Sona hit a sensitive spot. “I’m sorry I could never be the companion for you that David was.”

Sasha rolled over and gave Sona a quick lick before nosing the fabric bundle before them.

“Good idea.” Sona pulled the bundle onto her lap and was surprised to find it was extremely soft to the touch—almost as if it was a very short pile velvet. In the starlight she could see simple, yet elegant silver embroidery along the edges of the dark fabric. “Why does a crazy mountain man have such fancy stuff?”

Another pang of guilt swept through her and she felt her face heat up as she realized what she’d done. Sona sighed as she handed half the jerky strips over to Sasha, who greedily gulped them down.

“Better enjoy them, girl. I’ve never stolen anything before in my life.” She picked up a biscuit, which turned out to be a whole grain flour sort of hard tack and nibbled on it slowly, despite her ravenous stomach. “Maybe if I’d just asked him for help…” Then she remembered how quickly he’d whipped his sword out as if he was about to be attacked. “Nope,” she said, popping the P at the end.

“Though, maybe…” She eyed the fabric holding the remaining jerky that Sasha was staring longingly at. “…think you could follow his trail tomorrow, girl? Like, at a distance.  A very long, safe distance. Maybe he knows where civilization is.”

Then she remembered the sword again.

“Or maybe not.” Safely securing the food inside her pack where Sasha couldn’t get at it, Sona curled up inside her sleeping bag with the log at her back, and a warm Labrador at her front. “Still, it’s as good a plan as any at this point.”

And with her stomach, while not full, but definitely not empty for the first time in days, and the crickets providing a soft symphony in harmony with her dog’s snores, Sona fell asleep.


 

A/N

*Om Namah Shivaya is one of the most common Hindu mantras – and generally means “I honor the divinity within myself” or “I honor that which I am capable of becoming.”

Chapter Text


You shoot me down

But I won’t fall

I am Titanium

            -David Guetta


 

“If you’re watching this I guess I’ve been found. Or at least my phone has.” Sona frowned and stopped the recording on her phone. “Ugh that sounds so defeatist of me.” Sasha perked up her ears at Sona’s words, but then went back to chasing fish in the stream.

Sona grimaced at the frozen image on her phone screen as she took in her bedraggled appearance. From her dirt-smeared face (the gold of the tiny stud in her nose had lost its shine) to her messy French braid that she’d put in days ago and hardly resembled a braid at this point. Her formerly white tank top was a lost cause, and she didn’t even want to think about the state of her sports bra or underwear. At least her gray cargo pants and teal yoga sweater were holding up.

            She fingered the thumbholes of her sleeves before nodding to herself and marching down the embankment to the crystal clear stream below, stripping off her clothes as she went. Pausing only for a moment before plunging in bodily, she hissed as the water hit her.

            “Oh, holy crap that’s cold!” She didn’t have soap but was able to at least scrub off the dirt and sweat from her body, and rinse out her hair. Then she attacked her clothes, all the while humming the tune she’d been working on… before. Well, before this whole mess began. Fragments of lyrics raced around her mind, and she worked almost robotically before she finally realized her shirt was as clean as it was going to get. Once her clothes were, well, if not clean, certainly far less dirty than before, she changed into her spare set of underwear and sports bra, grateful she always overpacked, even when she had to carry it all.

            A soft smile touched her lips as she remembered David always shaking his head and laughing as they prepped for their hiking escapades.

            “Babe, you don’t need all that!” A broad smile split his dark face, his white teeth gleaming in contrast to his charcoal skin. “We’re only going to be gone a week.”

            “Just because I’m in the wild doesn’t mean I have to act wild.” She stubbornly shoved another tank top into her pack.

            “If you take all that you won’t have room for your guitar.”

            She waivered for a moment, and then, grumbling under her breath, began pulling everything out of her pack to prioritize essentials. Again. “Fine. But I don’t care what you say, I’m taking my lipstick!”

            Laughing, David pulled her into his arms and bent his head to press a soft kiss on her forehead. “Of course. I would expect nothing less.”

            Sasha whined as she butted her head against Sona’s thigh.

“Whoa!” Sona automatically reached out and grabbed the lab to steady herself. “Thanks, girl.” Looking down, she smiled at the dog. Sasha always seemed to know when she was having a “David moment.” “I promise I’m okay. It’s been five years. It’s mostly happy memories at this point.”

She ruffled Sasha’s ears before pulling a pink tank top over her head. Then she carefully combed out her nearly waist length hair and plaited it back up into a French braid before securing the thick tail with a black hair band. “Maybe since I put it up wet it’ll stay in longer this time.”

Lastly, she swiped on some lipstick and raised her phone back up into selfie mode.

“Muuuuuuch better, don’t you think? If I’m going to die out here I’m not going to look like a wild woman.”

Sasha lolled out her tongue to the side as she cocked her head.

“Okay, take two.” She pressed the record button. “My name is Sona Anand Jones. If you’re watching this then hopefully that means I’ve been found. I’m from Anaheim, California, and I left my home nine days ago to hike and camp up in Big Bear for a night.” She paused and licked her lips nervously before continuing. “I’m not sure where I am now, but I can tell you it’s not SoCal. It reminds me a bit of a hiking trip David and I took in Ireland after high school.” She angled the camera around to show her surroundings, which looked cheerful and pleasant, and had she not been so hopelessly lost she would have been thrilled. “I am doing my best to find civilization, but just in case… Mom, Dad, and Priya… I love you.” She forced a smile on her face, and watched the dimple form in her left cheek in the phone’s screen. Then she stopped the recording, and switched her phone off as it was only at forty percent battery life at this point.

After stowing the phone in her bag, she let her fingers brush longingly across the neck of her guitar, and sighed, ignoring it in favor of the blue velvet bundle nestled in next to it. She pulled out the fabric and held it out to Sasha, ignoring the lump of fear forming in her throat.

“Alright girl, I’ve procrastinated long enough.”

The dog thrust her nose into the bundle, sniffing the fabric deeply before turning around and bounding off into the forest. She paused a moment to make sure Sona was following, and then was off once again in search of the sword wielding man from the night before.


 

A/N

Chapter Text


A kick in the teeth is good for some

A kiss with a fist is better than none

-Florence and the Machine


He was gone.

            Sasha had led Sona to the right place—it was clearly his campsite for the night. A fancy looking bedroll was propped next to, of all things, richly carved travel sized, harp that Sona itched to touch. But the mountain man himself was nowhere to be seen.

            Sona peered around the tree she was crouched behind and worried her full, lower lip. She’d been waiting, according to her watch, about fifteen minutes for him to show back up from wherever he’d gone.

            Because wild or not, he was still the only other person she’d seen in these parts and she hoped that perhaps it was just her mind-crazed hunger that had painted him as scarier than he really was in her head.

            Maybe he didn’t even have a sword, she thought. It was probably just a big hunting knife. Who runs around with a sword anyways? No one. That’s who.

            Not to mention she wanted to return his embroidered velvet cloth and apologize for stealing from him. She did not need more bad karma than she apparently already had.

            That said, Sona wanted to get a look at him before she introduced herself and asked for help—she was still a woman traveling alone, after all. Her gaze drifted back to the small pile of things he had heaped by a fallen log: folded leather and fur she recognized as his coat, a wide toothed comb, a carved horn with a strap that looked like a cup she and David used to take it renaissance fairs, all topped off by some more dried meat.

            Her stomach gave a twinge at the sight of the jerky, reminding her just how hungry she was, if even meat looked appetizing her.

            Just then a brown, whiskered nose poked out from behind the log.

            “Sasha, no!” Sona hissed from her spot across the small clearing.

            The dog paused in the act, and looked toward Sona, and for a moment she thought Sasha would actually listen to her… but then the lab gently picked up one of the meat strips in her mouth.

            “Sash—”

The wind was knocked out of Sona as a something—no someone—slammed into her back throwing her to the ground.

“Thief!” His voice, just as rumbling and deep from the night before came from directly above Sona, and she felt his knee press into her back. “You should not have returned.”

“I came to apologize,” Sona gasped, trying to pull her arm out from underneath her to wave his velvet hanky. She immediately regretted it as the movement caused a rock beneath her to dig farther into her chest.

But even as the words left her mouth she could feel the weight on her back ease up, as the fabric was plucked from her hands. She rolled onto her back and caught a look of fleeting surprise shoot through his piercing blue eyes.

“You’re a woman—”

His words cut off as Sasha gave a vicious snarl. The man’s long hair spun out behind him as he whirled to face the dog, and he barely got his hands up in time as Sasha launched herself at him once again, teeth bared.

Sona didn’t stick around to see how the fight ended; she knew Sasha well enough to know the dog could hold her own. David had trained her well.

            Blast that overly protective dog! She thought that maybe she and the mountain man might have been able to have some sort of dialogue. Once he decided to stop attacking me, she amended mentally. Though in all fairness she had set her dog on him not once, but twice, and stolen from him.

            She scooped up her pack and ran blindly, knowing Sasha would find her. The terrain around her began to gentle out, and as she kept running she noticed the underbrush cleared and trees were fewer, with meadows more frequent. Sona jumped over a hedge and made to keep running but suddenly stopped as she reached the peak of the low hill.

            Her breath caught in her throat and all thoughts of the mountain man fled her mind.

A small settlement was spread out below her.

           


 

A/N

Chapter Text

All around me are familiar faces

Worn out places, worn out faces

Bright and early for the daily races

Going nowhere, going nowhere

-Mad World, as covered by Gary Jules


It was full dark now and hard to catch all the details in the starlight, but it was clearly a village of some sort before her. Little hills dotted the landscape, with round doors and cheerfully lit windows in the sides of each of them. Little paths led between them, and she could see the occasional small figure walking two and fro in the sleepy little town. Small gardens neighbored most of the hills and paddocks held livestock of varying sorts. Sona heard a low moo, and felt a bit of the panic she had carried since she’d first realized she was lost, ease. If this place had cows, and lights, and people, it surely had phone service.

            She set her pack down next to a sturdy oak and knelt next to it to pull out her phone and try for a signal when she heard the distant baritone grumbling of a voice she was quite familiar with at this point. “Lost” was the only word she could make out, but it was enough to identify him. Eyes scanning the ground directly below her she realized she missed the most obvious proof of civilization right under her nose: a path leading leading to a picket fence.

            “Mahal save me from dogs.” Her very grumpy attacker from before slammed the gate shut behind him and stomped up the path.

Sona crouched even lower in the long grass before her. Because of course she was sitting atop the very house he was going to. Knowing her luck, it was likely his house.

            Except that when he reached the door he didn’t go in.

            Instead, he paused and cocked his head to the side as the faint sounds of merry music and singing drifted out from below Sona. Had her heart not been thudding so loudly she may have caught it earlier and would have had to resist pulling out her guitar and joining in. And it may have been the darkness playing a trick on her, but she could have sworn she saw the hint of a smile flit across the man’s lips. In that moment he did not appear to be a mad man with a sword scampering about the countryside, but had the refined yet restrained movements that hinted at majesty.  

            The peace of the moment shattered when his face resumed its stony expression and he raised a fist and pounded twice on the door so hard the grass before Sona shook.

            Or, it could have been the breeze that had suddenly picked up, she decided. Leaning forward to get a better look at who would answer the door, she knocked a small clump of dirt over the edge, and the man quickly looked to his left as she ducked back down behind the grass.

            Stupid, STUPID! She berated herself.

            Sona was saved from any further investigations by the sound of the door opening and that familiar rumbling voice speaking.

            “Gandalf.”

Gandalf? Sona sat up, heedless of the noise it caused. GANDALF? Were they nuts? Or perhaps taking their cosplay very seriously? She liked dressing up in costumes as much as the next geek, but this—

“I thought you said this place would be easy to find.” Goodness that voice. She heard him walk into the room beneath her. “I lost my way. Twice.”

Sona was still reeling from hearing the person behind the door get called Gandalf, but a part of her mind was present enough to realize Sasha had likely been the cause of his delay.

Well, me and Sasha. If she was being totally honest.

“I wouldn’t have found it at all had it not been for that mark on the door.”

“Mark?” A new voice now. Lighter. More youthful sounding. “There’s no  mark on that door, it was painted a week—”

The new voice cut off as Sona heard the sound of the door clicking shut. Getting shakily to her feet, Sona looked out at the landscape surrounding her. The moon was out now, and it was much brighter, so she could see, really see the Shire for what it was.

Her hands shook as she realized what she’d automatically called this place in her head. For she’d been to New Zealand before and seen the sets for the Lord of the Rings films. David had thought he’d have to drag her there, but it had been her idea to go there for their honeymoon. It had seemed so perfect at the time. Their first date was to see The Fellowship of the Ring and a massive obsession had built from there and stayed with them both throughout college.

And so she knew what the film sets looked like.

This was not a set.


 

A/N

Each chapter is (for the most part) named for a song because either it was the perfect mood setter for the chapter, or I felt it captured the feel of the chapter, or I just like the song.

As for the story title, it’s one of my favorite songs ever, by Cat Stevens, and thematically quite appropriate.

And I'm seriously fighting the urge to post a mix for this fic on 8Tracks. I WANT TO SO BAD. 

Chapter Text

 


If you pull

Then I’ll push too deep

And I’ll fall right back to you

-Clarity, as covered by Jason Chen


 

          Sasha chose that moment to shove her wet nose into Sona’s hand and an involuntary squeak of surprise burst from her lips. “I’m glad you’re back, girl.” As her heart calmed, Sona realized her hands were still shaking. “You’re the only thing that makes sense in all this.”

            She swallowed thickly and scrubbed her hands over her face before looking out at the Shire once again. “This can’t be Middle Earth. This can’t be. I’ve got to be losing my mind. I must be asleep or in a coma or something. I need to wake up.” Using one shaky hand she pinched her arm.

            Nothing.

            Sona shoved her sleeve up to her elbow and pinched her flesh so hard she gave an involuntary cry of pain. Still nothing happened apart from giving herself a large bruise. Sasha whined and tried to lick her hand away as if to say “please stop hurting yourself.” Sona scratched the lab’s ears and hummed tunelessly to calm both herself and the dog.

            They stood quietly like that for some time gazing over the Shire until finally, Sona dropped her hand from Sasha’s head, despite the dog’s protests.

            “Sasha, stay.”

The lab whined her discontent over the command, but sat obediently next to Sona’s pack while Sona crept to the back of the hill. She began working her way around to the side of the home, not at all sure what she was looking for, but something, anything to bring some clarity to this situation. 

Suddenly she found herself before a window and peering in she could make out, inside in the dim firelight, a curly haired little man with hairy feet sitting in plump armchair made for his size. Across from him sat a full sized gray robed and bearded older gentleman. Both men were fair skinned, though the older man seemed travel worn, and the smaller man was fastidiously clean. Based on facial expression and gesticulations, they seemed to be embroiled in a very serious discussion, or perhaps even an argument. The gray man pointed right at the window and Sona ducked before either of them could look her way.

A hobbit and a human, her mind supplied.

She carefully peeked back over the lip of the window just in time to see the… hobbit—she forced herself to think the word—flit out of the room. The gray robed man sighed, slumping down in a wooden chair far too small for him. Pulling out a pipe, he raised a finger to it and Sona’s eyes widened in surprise as a flame burst from his fingertip to light the pipe.

Not a human… but a wizard. Gandalf. He really is Gandalf. They aren’t just playacting. This really is Middle Earth.

It was all too much for her and she barely had time to catch herself as she fainted to the soft earth beneath the window. A corner of her mind realized she was crushing the hobbit’s flowers, as the sweet scent of daisy’s invaded her nostrils before the darkness took her.


 

Hmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm

Through the fog Sona heard it…

Hmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm

A melody that made her soul come alive…

Hmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm

Like none had since everything in her life had changed all those years ago…

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

She blinked her eyes open as the song invaded her senses…

To dungeons deep and caverns old

Voices voices voices that understood her heart…

We must away, ere break of day

Quivering with excitement—or shaking from hunger, Sona didn’t know.

To find our long forgotten gold.

She placed her hands on the windowsill…

The pines were roaring on the height,

And there they were in the room beyond.

The winds were moaning in the night.

A dozen of them singing singing singing…

The fire was red, it flaming spread.

In the room right before her…Gandalf…

The trees like torches blazed with light.

He winked and Sona fled.

 


 

Chapter Text


You said, oh girl, it's a cold world

When you keep it all to yourself

I said, you can't hide on the inside

All the pain you've ever felt

Ransom my heart, but baby don't look back

'Cause we got nobody else

-Shadows of the Night, Pat Benatar


 

Sona bent over and dry heaved. Though she hadn’t eaten anything since the stolen biscuits the day prior her stomach insisted on attempting to vomit. Tears sprang to her eyes as she tried to retch once again and Sasha whined and attempted to lick Sona’s tears before she could push the dog away.

            “If you want to be helpful, Sasha, hand me my toothbrush.” Sona coughed and straightened while Sasha lay down. The dog rested her head on her paws while blowing a frustrated huff of air through her lips.

            “Didn’t think so.” Sona dug through her pack, her hands once again shaking. Pulling out her toothbrush, she placed a dab of toothpaste on it and sat down next to her pack, ignoring the damp ground and how it seeped wetly into her trousers. The hobbit’s house was in the distance before her, along with the rest of the Shire, and she stared at it as she scrubbed her teeth.

            “So, do I accept that I am, in fact, in Middle Earth, Sasha?” It sounded garbled as she spoke around her toothbrush. “Or do I keep trying to wake myself up from whatever coma I must be in… because how can this be real?”

            The lab just gave another sigh, and Sona spit her toothpaste out and took a sip of water from her camelback. “You’re right, girl. Regardless of whether I’m dreaming or not… this place is real to me now, and in order to survive I need to accept that. No matter how crazy that seems”

            Sona put her toothbrush back in its case and set it inside her pack once again. She then stretched out a hand and buried it in Sasha’s soft fur, stroking it gently, and taking comfort in the one real thing here she could be sure of: her four-legged companion. “So I guess the real question is figuring out when in the Arda timeline this is.”

            She bit her lower lip as she catalogued what she knew:

            1- Gandalf was in gray, not white, so unless he had been dragged through the mud, this was prior to the Fellowship of the Ring.

            2- There were loads of bearded and hairy short men in the hobbit hole, but they wore shoes and were larger than the hobbit and all of them were much shorter than Gandalf the Gray… Dwarves then, she decided with a nod.

            3- The dwarf she’d already encountered was tall, taller than the other dwarves, and only an inch or two shorter than her, putting him at maybe 5’3”. Plus his regal bearing, and the way everyone seemed to be gathered around him while they sang… her heart stuttered at the memory of the song and how it haunted her. She shook her head, banishing the memory. Focus, Sona!

            4- As for the hobbit… she’d seen no sign of Sam, and she couldn’t imagine the gardener would have let something like a dozen or so dwarves show up at Frodo’s house without saying something about it and/or trying to defend Frodo. Plus the resident in place seemed rather too old to be Frodo. So… Bilbo.

            “Oh crap.” Sona stilled the hand scratching Sasha. “We’re in The Hobbit.”

 


 

A/N

So, I plan to follow the film plot primarily, with some book stuff as I see fit, but as Sona’s here now, that makes it an AU, soooooo really anything could happen!

Chapter Text

I listen to the wind

To the wind of my soul

Where I'll end up well I think,

Only God really knows

-The Wind, Cat Stevens


 

“Crap, crap crap!” Sona tightened her grip on Sasha and the lab gave a short whine. “Oh! Sorry girl.” Sona went back to gently stroking the dog and hummed fragments of the little tune she’d been working on.

Once Sasha settled back down Sona focused back on her problem.

She barely remembered the plot of The Hobbit.

The only time she’d read it was twenty years ago when her seventh grade English teacher had assigned it to the class. She’d enjoyed it well enough and had tried to come up with melodies on her guitar to the various songs the dwarves had sung in the book—though nothing at all like what she’d heard below. These dwarves… even just the glimpse of them… if they’d struck her that viscerally when she’d read the book the first time she wouldn’t have jumped on the elf bandwagon when the Fellowship of the Rings movie had come out. As it was, she’d never felt the need to read The Hobbit again. Not even when she and David had become obsessed with the Lord of the Rings films. She’d slogged through those books too… but they just didn’t strike a chord with her the way the movies had.

Sona could probably quote the LotR films, extended editions and all, from start to finish.

And as for The Hobbit movies… she hadn’t seen them. It wasn’t because she hadn’t wanted to. It was just… she just couldn’t bring herself to do it when the first one had come out. It had been too soon. Too fresh. Too raw.

She dug into her pack and pulled out the small silver urn and traced a finger lightly over the name engraved on the cool surface: David Howard Jones, Jr.

“We were supposed to go together.” She smiled wanly at the urn. “First time you ever stood me up, you big jerk.” Sighing, a frown tugged at her lips as pulled the little, cylindrical urn into a hug. “Now what am I supposed to do?”

David would know what to do. And even if he didn’t it wouldn’t matter because at least we’d be here together, and—

Sasha leaned up and licked the tears off Sona’s cheeks. Sona didn’t even realize she had begun crying. She hadn’t cried over David in a long time. Years actually. She still got melancholy from time to time, but it had been five years. She was ready to move on. That was why she’d gone to Big Bear… to release the last of his ashes and say goodbye and hope they met again in their next lives.

“You’re right, girl.” She patted Sasha on the side and then scrubbed at the tears left on her cheeks with her sleeve. “He wouldn’t want me to cry. He’d want me to come up with a plan.” She drummed her fingers against the cool metal of the urn. “But before I can do that, I have to catalogue what I know about the current time.”  

Sona frowned again. This was going to be difficult, because what she remembered from the book was spotty at best, and what she knew for certain was in the context of the Lord of the Rings.

For example, she knew that Bilbo found The One Ring, and that, as far as she could recall, was the entire point of the The Hobbit. Bilbo finds the ring, then, in about fifty years has a giant hundred and eleventieth birthday party, gives all his family and friends the middle finger, and then leaves the ring to Frodo when he moves to Rivendell. Gandalf sends Frodo on a quest, all of Middle Earth goes to battle for survival, Sauron is defeated, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Except Boromir, she thought sourly. Maybe she could change a couple things while she was here… No! Focus on the task at hand. That doesn’t happen for like half a century.

As for the book itself, all she really remembered about The Hobbit, apart from the singing dwarves, was:

1- They encountered trolls at some point and Bilbo—or was it Gandalf?—cleverly tricked them into going into the sunlight or something—but that was only because she remembered them visiting the stone troll statues in the Lord of the Rings films while Frodo was suffering from the Morgul blade.

2- Bilbo gets separated from the dwarves at some point, meets Gollum, they trade riddles, and he runs off with the Ring of Power. NBD.

3- Spiders. Giant talking spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?

4- Elves that like to party, and their king is a douchebag. I think Legolas may be related to these guys? Oh, and barrels—she remembered that part because she’d always loved the barrel escape.

5- There is a dragon. She couldn’t remember if Bilbo killed it or just figured out its weakness or maybe made friends with it? But she was certain there was a dragon.

6- And in better news, orcs. Loads of orcs at the end and some dude named Blog? Bolg? Sona couldn’t remember other than a bunch of orcs attacked, but there was a giant battle with dwarves, and humans, and elves? Yes, definitely elves. And they won. At least she thought they did. Or was that before the dragon? Then she remembered from the adverts that the second Hobbit film was called The Desolation of Smaug and had dragons in all the promo, and the third film was The Battle of Five Armies, so yes, they definitely won. Tolkien did like his happy endings. Except for Boromir. She frowned again.

7- And then Bilbo went back to the shire, and the Sackville-Bagginses had moved in and were holding a yard sale. She definitely remembered the yard sale.

And how useless is remembering a yard sale? Like you’d think I’d remember where exactly Bilbo got separated and found the ring.

She sighed as she scrubbed a hand over her face. How was any of that going to help her get back to her world, or consciousness—which really amounted to the same thing as far as she was concerned.

Wait… Gandalf is a wizard!

            She sat up straight, determined. The first flickers of sunlight were breaking, and some of the story was coming back to her… they would leave Bag End at dawn.

            Sona gathered her things together, but paused as she held the urn in her hands. Kneeling at the base of a broad oak—well away from where she had vomited—she scraped aside a bit of the rich brown earth below it.

            “You’d never forgive me if I didn’t leave a bit of you in The Shire.” She carefully unscrewed the top of the urn and tipped a bit of the ashes to the earth below, and then swiped some dirt over top of it. Closing up the urn and placing it back in her pack, she got to her feet and dusted the dirt off her hands.

The adventure began now.


 

A/N

Yes, if you’ve done your math right, Sona is in her 30s. 32 to be precise. And in case you’re wondering what David and Sona look like, google Michael Ealy & Kareena Kapoor.

Chapter Text

Her dirty paws and furry coat,

She ran down the forest slopes.

The forest of talking trees,

They used to sing about the birds and the bees.

            - Dirty Paws, Of Monsters and Men


 

It was easy to follow the group at a safe distance given that they were staying on a road, and the dwarves were not exactly quiet. Sasha trotted next to Sona obediently as they followed well out of sight of the travelers. Sona worried her lower lip trying to figure out what she was going to say to Gandalf.

            Should she just present herself when they camped for the night?

            Then she remembered a certain bearded dwarf with a sword she’d already encountered twice, and thought it might be better to see if she could get the wizard on his own.

            “Well he certainly won’t stick around the dwarves the entire time, will he?” She patted Sasha on the head. “I mean, he’ll have to… talk to a man about a horse eventually.* Right?”

Sasha just lolled her tongue out as she panted. It was getting a bit warmer that spring afternoon.

Sona gave a wry chuckle and tried to ignore the empty pit in her stomach or the way her clothes were hanging off her. What little padding she’d before was gone now, and by her best estimate she’d lost at least ten pounds. Her mother would be all over her for that—she always told Sona she was too skinny already. Perhaps the wizard would have a sandwich hidden up his sleeve if Sona was lucky. She giggled at the absurd thought of Gandalf pulling a footlong veggie sub out of his robes and handing it to her.

What she wouldn’t give even for a simple pb and j.

It’s peanut butter jelly time.” She found herself singing the words to the silly song before she could stop herself. But, as usual, music lightened her step and Sasha wagged her tail as soon as she heard Sona sing. “Peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly…”


 

            Sona watched from the shadows as the dwarves sat around a campfire, sharing out the most delicious smelling soup she had ever encountered; she could almost ignore the clumps of meat floating around in it. Sasha whined and Sona clamped her hand around the dog’s muzzle. She gave the lab a glare and held a finger up to her lips, but one of the dwarves, the only blonde one of the group, stilled and looked up. Sona froze.

            “What’s that, Fíli?” the dwarf sitting next to him asked. He was youthful looking with shoulder length brown hair and a fringe. Possibly the youngest of the bunch, and he had the worst table manners Sona had ever seen (and that included her niece and nephew). He paused from slurping down his soup, a dribble of grease running down his stubbled chin. 

            “I thought I…” The blonde’s braided mustache waggled as he pursed his lips in thought. “It’s nothing, Kíli.”

            The youthful dwarf—Kíli, Sona catalogued in her mind—shrugged and upended his bowl again, while Fíli, the blonde one, rolled his eyes.

Quietly releasing the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding, Sona absentmindedly wondered if, based on their behavior, somewhat like appearance, and name similarity, they were brothers. She watched all the dwarves, as they interacted with each other: loud and boisterous, rude and yet considerate all at the same time. One dwarf with a particularly interesting bowl cut hair and sporting a thickly knitted sweater kept trying to reach for food and at every turn seemed to be blocked—certainly not purposefully. It just seemed the others were oblivious to his efforts to get supper. Finally, another dwarf with star shaped hair (seriously) and braided eyebrows (also seriously) elbowed a dwarf with what appeared to be the remains of an axe sticking out of his head (yes, also seriously) out of his way. Filling up the bowl he promptly made his way through the clamoring dwarves and roughly thrust the bowl at the younger looking, sweater wearing dwarf.

Sona watched the shenanigans before her with a soft smile on her face, and realized her expression was mirrored by Gandalf. That brought a frown; Sona hadn’t seen Gandalf leave once. The others all had, but noooooo not the wizard.

I know he’s not human, but he’s still flesh and blood… he’s got to pee sometime!

Forcing herself not to sigh in frustration, she let her gaze wander to the one outlier of the camp… and the one person she had absolutely no interest in seeing again.

The mountain man—who she now knew to be a dwarf—stood broodingly while he stared off into the starlit night. A light breeze ruffle his long, wavy hair out behind him, and Sona wondered why he kept himself separate from his dwarves. For surly he was the leader of this group. They were clearly following him; he exuded a pull that even Sona could feel.

He raised one hand and in the dim light, Sona could tell he was fiddling with something. He appeared to unwrap then re-wrap a bandage. Sona pursed her lips… His hand hadn’t been injured the last time she’d encountered him, when Sasha had leapt at him teeth bared—

Sona felt her eyebrows shoot up to her hairline as she turned and glared silent accusation at her companion. Sasha merely stared up at her with guileless eyes.

Just great. First guy I meet in Middle Earth and my dog bites him.

Looking back over the group it was then that Sona felt her heart freeze.

How had she not noticed this before?

A plot hole this big and she was only now seeing it!

Where was Bilbo?


 

A/N

*No this was not in reference to Beorn. It’s a Midwest/West Coast slang for going to the bathroom. (and IDK, maybe it’s used elsewhere in the States, but I’ve not heard it commonly used outside of the above areas).

In case you are wondering, yes, Sona would be doing fine (mostly) at this point without food. She would be weak, cranky, shaky, and likely make some poor decisions driven by hunger, but still have her full mental faculties since she’s got plenty of water & has had plenty of sleep. I’m speaking from personal experience here.

Chapter Text

All the wrong I've done

Will be undone in song

-Done All Wrong, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


The dwarves had finally settled in for the night and a cacophony of snores drowned out any crickets or other wildlife sounds. Gandalf was propped against a rocky outcropping a bit apart from the rest of the group. His tall pointed hat sloped over his face and Sona was fairly certain he was sleeping—though she remembered he liked to sleep with his eyes open, and prepared herself for that.

            Okay, sneak in. Wake up Gandalf, and get him to come talk to you without rousing the others. And hope he has a biscuit or something. Sona looked over the deeply slumbering forms and stared longingly at the now empty soup pot.

            Then she gave Sasha one last hard look with a finger over her lips and a quick motion down with her hand. The lab stared balefully back at her, but obediently stayed silently where she was.

            Stepping out into the clearing, Sona carefully toed her way past a red headed dwarf with a gloriously long beard. She stared for a moment thinking he looked somewhat familiar.

            Focus, Sona.

            Past the stocky redhead, she then tried to figure out the best way to get around a trio of dwarves—two of the ones from the soup incident at dinner, plus another with graying intricately braided hair—who were sleeping all over each other. Decided, she took another step forward, but felt a sudden hold around her ankle. She tugged, and the hold tightened almost painfully. Whirling, she found her leg in the grasp of the blonde dwarf, who was grinning triumphantly. That is until Sasha hurled herself between Sona and Fíli, snarling and barking even as the dwarf immediately let Sona go and scooted away.

            “Dammit, Sasha, I told you to stay!” Sona looked around wildly for any avenue of escape, only to find herself surrounded by half dressed, weapon wielding dwarfs. Well, perhaps the ladle the largest dwarf carried was not so much a weapon as—

            “Thief!”

            Sona stiffened. It was him. Of course it was him. Without even raising his voice he’d captured the attention and silence of them all.

            She slowly turned around to face her accuser even as he deftly emerged from the shadows of the trees. A breeze ruffled the fur of his coat, and his face was a mask of distrust and contempt.

            Sasha let loose another snarl and tried to lunge, but Sona caught her by her collar just as she swept past.

            “Heel, Sasha!”

            The dog whined, but obediently sat quivering at Sona’s feet when she gave a quick tug at the collar. The dwarf’s gaze flitted briefly toward the dog and he frowned before looking directly back at Sona.

“I’m not a thief” Sona stood up straight, ignoring the stares of the males surrounding her.

The Dwarf leader gripped his bandaged hand and glared. “Are you saying you did not steal from me?”

Sona tightened her grip on Sasha’s collar, more for her own support than anything else. “Well, I did only just the once—”

“—Once it enough once you’re caught!” A fierce looking bald dwarf pointed a massive axe at her, and the other dwarves erupted with jabs and comments, much of it in a language she did not understand.

“—and I apologized; I was desperate!” Sona shouted, but no one was listening. They were too busy arguing amongst themselves or glaring at her. Especially their leader. He would win first place in a glaring contest, that’s for sure, Sona thought sourly.

“Come now, Thorin, can you not see she is starving?” Suddenly Gandalf was there with a cup of hot broth that Sona gulped down greedily. She had no idea where it had come from and did not care. It was just the right temperature and had some soft potatoes and carrots near the bottom—perfect for her starved stomach. 

The wizard gently placed an arm around her shoulder and led her through the sea of both curious and distrusting dwarves. “Come now, my dear. I believe we need to have a talk.”


 

A/N

Now here’s where I finally thank my amazing beta, YM—or as I like to call them, my Thorin SME (Subject Matter Expert). If there’s something about Thorin’s characterization you like, I guarantee it’s because of YM. If there’s something I got wrong or messed up, it’s because I didn’t listen to YM. THANK YOU, YM! YOU ARE THE BEST!

Chapter Text


Your mood is like a circus wheel,

You're changing all the time,

Sometimes I can't help but feel,

That I'm wasting all of my time.

Think I'm looking on the dark side,

But everyday you hurt my pride,

I'm over my head,

But it sure feels nice

-Over My Head, Fleetwood Mac


 

The broth both filled her stomach and calmed her shaking hands. Sona felt immediately better, and watched as the wizard bent over to offer some dried meat to Sasha, who eagerly gobbled it from his outstretch hand.

            “Gandalf, I am not finished with her.” The familiar voice—Thorin—came from behind them. Sona glanced over her shoulder in time to see Sasha crouch low and let out a low growl. The dwarf paused, eying the dog warily.

            “Ah, I see you three have met.” Gandalf sat on a log. “Splendid.”

            “No, it is not splendid,” Thorin ground out, eyes flashing. “That beast attacked me—”

            “Only because you threatened me with a sword the first time we met.” Sona stepped forward and motioned for Sasha to stay back despite the dog’s discomfort. “And then attacked me the second time.”

            “You stole from me.” He strode forward, fire in his eyes.

            “I came to you for help.” Sona refused to back down, squaring her shoulders and meeting his hard gaze. “How did you expect me, a woman lost and alone in a strange land, to react to you waving your sword around?”

            Thorin narrowed his eyes. “You could have started by asking for help.”

            “Kind of hard to do when you tackle me before I even get a chance to say anything!”

            It was only then that Sona realized how close they were—their noses almost touching.

            Gandalf chose that moment to clear his throat, and Sona and Thorin simultaneously stepped apart.

“Well, my dear, it seems as you have come quite a long way, and I suspect it was not just to steal a biscuit from the leader of our merry company.” The wizard pulled out his pipe and began knocking it against the log gently.

“I came back to ask you, Gandalf,” she stared pointedly at the elderly man as he lit his pipe cheerfully, and ignored Thorin, “for help. I need a wizard.”

The dwarf scoffed. “What for?” He looked her over slowly, and Sona felt her cheeks heat up with what was surely embarrassment. “Why are you out here, woman? You need to go back to your husband. Back where you belong.”

Sona straightened and tightened her fists at her side. Sasha, sensing her companion’s tension, let out a low growl.

“How dare you—”

Gandalf coughed loudly as he tried to puff on his pipe. “Sorry, my dear.” He waved a hand to clear the smoke before him. “But let us go back to why you think need a wizard.”

And so she told him.


 

“So you see, it was magic or something that brought me here, so I figured…”

“Yes, yes, yes, you figured correctly.” Gandalf furrowed his bushy gray brows together as the morning sun peeked over the horizon. “You do need magic to go back to your world, my dear… oh what was your name?”

“Sona.” She felt a weight lift from her shoulders. Gandalf believed her.

“Sona, that’s rather lovely.”

“Thank you. It’s Indian, it means—”

“Gandalf, you cannot possibly believe this thieving Easterling—”

“Whoa, how about you lay off the name calling and the racism—”

“—and all this foolishness about a book and how this has all been written.” Thorin turned back toward the camp and his dwarves awaiting him there. “No one’s future is written. I will listen to this rubbish no longer.”

“Erebor.” The word popped from her mouth, and Sona grinned triumphantly—she’d remembered something else from the book!

Thorin slowly turned around and looked at Sona, his face a neutral mask. “How came you to know of Erebor?”

“I told you… I’ve read the book.”

“Lies!” Thorin strode forward, all pretense of calm dropped. He only stopped when Sasha interposed herself between him and Sona. “She is a spy, Gandalf. A filthy, Easterling spy.” He spat on the ground, and his hand gripping his sword hilt. “What proof do we have that she is as she says—a lost traveler from another world—other than her word? And what good is the word of men?”

Sona felt her nostrils flare. Growing up in Southern California she hadn’t dealt with much blatant racism, but there had definitely been micro aggressions, and she’d be dammed if she was going to listen to some fictional character abuse her like this. And suddenly, she remembered who he was. Well, his full name at least. And something about a kingdom under a mountain.

“Now you listen to me, Thorin Oakenshield.” She stepped around Sasha and thrust a finger in his face. “If one of the Maiar trusts and believes me, that should be more than enough for you.”

Thorin’s eyes widened and Gandalf dropped his pipe—though whether it was at her use of Thorin’s surname, or the fact that she knew what Gandalf truly was, Sona didn’t know and didn’t care. She was on a roll. “And for your own edification, I’m an American, not an Easterling, but even if I was, that’s no reason to assume I’m a spy or somehow beneath you in any way, shape, or form just because I’m from the race of men and have slightly darker skin than you. I am a living, thinking, intelligent being just like you, and am in every way your equal. I will not be spoken of as if I’m not here, and when you do talk to me it will be with courtesy and respect.”

Sona dropped her hand and stepped back, heart racing, and adrenalin coursing through her.  I can’t believe I just did that… She hadn’t shouted, and neither had he. But they had both spoken rather… stridently. Well, maybe she had raised her voice a bit in the end. Just a smidge.

As for Thorin, his face resumed its emotionless mask, and he spun on his heel, walking back to his dwarves without saying another word.

 


 

A/N

Not going to lie, I have soooooo been looking forward to writing these scenes between Sona & Thorin. The “I hate you so much but now we must work together and oh hey what are these weird romantical feelings I’m developing for you” trope is like my fave, EVER. Also, YM is the best beta EVAAAAR!

Please LMK what you think if you wouldn’t mind – it’s how I know I’m on the right track + I love talking to y’all.

Chapter Text


Tell me what you want to hear

Something that will light those ears

Sick of all the insincere

So I'm gonna give all my secrets away

-One Republic


 

“Well, I don’t know how things go in your world, Sona, but I should think that may have been more well received had you not been yelling at Thorin while you delivered your message about respect and courtesy.” Gandalf picked up his pipe and inspected it for damage, and finding none, busied himself in relighting it with his finger. “Still, it appears, to have been somewhat effective. Thorin has apparently opted to not speak to you at all.”

Sona felt her cheeks heat at Gandalf’s words. Dammit, the wizard was right and she owed that infernally prideful dwarf yet another apology. Though he owes me one too. Acting like I’m somehow beneath him and am automatically a liar because I’m not a dwarf like the rest of them.

“I would ask how you know what I am,” Gandalf continued, blissfully unaware of Sona’s inner monologue, “But, well…” He smiled around his pipe before schooling his face in a stern expression. “Best keep that bit of information—my…heritage—to yourself, if you don’t mind. Thorin already had his suspicions, which you confirmed, and he will know well enough not to say anything, but very few others know, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.”

She nodded, even more embarrassed now.

“And for that matter, let us not tell the others about your fore-knowledge. To say it could be dangerous should it become commonly known would be a gross understatement.”

Sona slumped on the log next to Gandalf, blinking in the bright sunlight. “Well, it’s not like I know all that much. At least not about all this.” She waved a hand in the general direction of the dwarf camp while she absentmindedly pulled her sunglasses out of her cargo pocket and put them on, much to Gandalf’s amusement. “Talk to me in about fifty years or so. Then I’m your girl.”

The wizard merely raised an eyebrow as he blew out a perfect smoke ring.

“This completely nuts. This is a story. How can it be real?” Scrubbing her hands over her face, Sona sighed, feeling the exhaustion of talking all night finally hitting her. “How am I even here?”

“My dear, Sona, that is entirely beside the point.” Gandalf then proceeded to blow the smoky shape of a flock of birds complete with flapping wings before continuing. “The fact is you are here now, and the real question is what precisely are you going to do about it?”

“What am I going to do about it? That’s why I’m here, to ask you! This a flippin’ story! I didn’t write it!”

“Tell me, Sona, how do you know you aren’t in a story yourself, with people reading and sharing in your experiences and adventures just as you shared in ours all those years ago?”

Sona gave him a wan look over her hands. “That’s some existential Neverending Story crap right there. And it does nothing to help me go back.”

“And where exactly is it you wish to go?”

“Home, of course! I thought that would be obvious.” She raised a hand, forestalling his next comment. “Look, at this point, I don’t really care how I got here, or why I’m here. I just want to go home. Please send me back.”

“Ahhh, so we have finally gotten to the heart of the matter.” Gandalf tapped his pipe and then tucked it away. “I am afraid that this is beyond me.”

“What?” Sona quickly stood, hands on her hips.

“But I believe I do know someone who can help. Someone Thorin needs to see as well.”

Sona pursed her lips, thinking. “You mean Elrond.”

Gandalf tapped the side of his nose and winked.

It made sense, at least from what she remembered from The Lord of the Rings. Thorin and co, must have gone to Rivendell at some point because Bilbo knew Elrond well enough to get an open invite back to live there, and…

“Gandalf, I’m almost afraid to ask… but where’s Bilbo?”

Gandalf got slowly to his feet. “He never came…” His eyes lost their merriment and a pallor of sadness seemed to permeate him. Sona wanted to give him a hug, but wasn’t sure it would be welcomed. He shook his head as he looked down the road back toward the Shire. “I was so certain he would.” Then he fixed his piercing gaze on Sona. “But now, I’m not so sure of anything.”

 


 

A/N

Sooooooo, this is an AU, remember? That means aaaaaanything can happen.

Chapter Text


Oh, all that I know,

There's nothing here to run from,

Cos yeah, everybody here's got somebody to lean on

            - Don’t panic, Coldplay


 

Panicking, Sona spoke through clenched teeth. “What do you mean he didn’t show up?”

“Precisely that.” The wizard gave her a pondering look from under his wide brimmed hat.

“No, see, you don’t understand… the book is called The Hobbit.”

Gandalf merely raised a bushy eyebrow.

“He’s the story’s hero!” Sona’s voice was steadily rising in pace with her rapidly beating heart. “It does not work without him!”

The wizard still did not speak, and Sasha reached out to grip him by the biceps. “There are things that need to happen—”

Gandalf quickly covered her mouth with his hand, his eyes boring into hers, with… was that fear? “Do not say anything about what has been written. You could ruin all!”

Sona jerked back, nearly toppling over Sasha in her haste. “THE STORY IS ALREADY RUINED! YOU HAVE TO GO BACK!”

“We do not go back.” Thorin’s baritone cut in.

Sona whirled, chest heaving, eyes darting around wildly, hoping, praying to every deity she could think of that the halfling and his hairy feet would pop up in the distance on the lane toward them.

Thorin continued, ignoring Sona’s full-blown panic. “Not for some straggling grocer. He had his chance.” The dwarf shifted his gaze toward the wizard. “It is time to go.”

And then, Gandalf smiled. “A moment, Thorin, if you would. I have had a rather brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.”

Sona clutched at Sasha’s collar, and the lab whined her concern over her companion’s obvious distress. Gandalf’s brilliant ideas often meant trouble for the people he directed them toward.

“Your company needs a burglar, and I promised you a fourteenth member.” He leaned on his staff and gave Sona broad smile.

Thorin and Sona both spoke—or rather yelled—simultaneously.

“No!”

“Oh, hell no!”

Without removing his hands from his staff, Gandalf pointed a finger at Thorin. “And why not? Has she not already proven she can steal from you quite handily?”

Thorin gave Sona a sidelong glance before rolling his eyes back to Gandalf and letting a begrudging, “Aye.” Then, seemingly unwilling to accept Gandalf’s logic, he scowled. “But I sought a burglar to employ. Not a thief to steal from me.” His gaze flicked to Sasha, who let out a low growl, and his frown deepened. “Nor one with a dog she can sick on me undeserved—”

“Oh, it was most certainly deserved,” Sona grumbled, ignoring the warning look Gandalf shot her, though she did grip the dog’s collar tighter.

“And you,” Gandalf turned toward Sona, barreling on heedless of their desires. “I have already told you I cannot get you home, but will gladly take you to those who can.”

“Those who can? I thought you said El—”

“And besides, Thorin, are you truly going to leave her here, alone, in the wild?”

            Thorin glared up at Gandalf, arms crossed over his fur coat. “She is not alone. She has that infernal beast for company.” He pointed back down the lane. “The shire is less than a day’s walk. If she seeks civilized society she can join the grocer—”

            “Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror!” Gandalf seemed to grow in size while the light faded around them and a chill seeped into Sona’s bones as the wizard loomed ominously over them both. “You tasked me with finding a fourteenth member for your company. Well I have found her. Sona is my choice. She will be your burglar.” 

            “No, Gandalf.” Thorin shook his head once. “You had your choice. You picked the hobbit, and for whatever reason, your gamble failed. I will not let you saddle this sacred quest to restore our home with a stray you picked up on the road. Or her dog.”

Sona’s jaw dropped, and she had no idea where Thorin got the gumption to do it, given that Gandalf was super scary right now—the movies did this particular trick no justice—and of course, knowing what the wizard was... The light slowly came back and Sona felt like she could breath again.

            “I am very sorry to hear it.” Gandalf leaned against his staff as though he were tired, or rather, deflated.

Sona guessed he very rarely had people say no to him. First Bilbo, and now Thorin. Bad day couple days for Gandalf.

“Very well,” the wizard continued, “if you will not take her, I will.”

            “What?” Sona finally found her voice.

            “You will travel with me, my dear,” Gandalf answered as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

            “But how is that any different than what you were just proposing?” Sona was very confused. Exhausted and hungry, and very much disliking the look Thorin currently had, as if he’d just eaten a lemon, Sona just wanted to wake up in her own bed, in her own home, back in Anaheim, and maybe take her niece and nephew out for ice cream.

            “Very well.” Thorin repeated the wizard’s words. “But she is not one of us. I cannot guarantee her safety. And you will be responsible for her fate.”

            “Yeah, I’m standing right here, thanks.”

            Ignoring her, Thorin returned to the now packed up camp. 

            “Is he always this pleasant?” Sona gave Gandalf a bleary side eyed look.

            “That actually went much better than I expected it would.” Gandalf beamed at her and held out his arm. “Shall we?”

 


 

A/N

And in case you are wondering, yep, no Bilbo in this story. So if you’re here for him… this is not the story for you.

Chapter Text


Although I'm not making plans

I hope that you understand there's a reason why

-Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac


 

The dwarves all eyed Sona with what could only be characterized as either distrust (from the tattooed bald one who had chastised her for stealing) or open curiosity (from Kíli and the dwarf with a leather hat with flaps that looked like wings). Sona stood awkwardly with her pack on her back, and Sasha tight to her side. She worried her lower lip and didn’t know where to look—they were all so different and so… real. It was almost sensory overload to her exhausted brain.

            “Sona will be traveling with me for some time.” Gandalf raised his voice to be heard over the eruption of grumblings from the dwarves. “She is an American from…”

“The west,” Sona supplied.

Gandalf nodded. “And she is in need of my assistance. And since we will be in each other’s company for some time, you may as well know each other’s names.” He then indicated the gathered dwarves. “Sona, this is the Company of Thorin Oakenshield. You’ve met their leader—”

Sona snorted, and hastily turned it into a cough at a glare from the scary bald dwarf.

“—so here we have Dori, Ori, and Nori,” Gandalf pointed at the three she’d seen sleeping in a muddled heap together. “Balin and Dwalin.” Balin was the completely white haired dwarf, and Sona’s ears perked at his name—she recognized it somehow but couldn’t place where. Dwalin was the hulking bald dwarf. And yes, he was still glaring at her.

“Bombur, Bifur, and Bofur.” Gandalf indicated the very rotund dwarf with a large red looping beard like a necklace, the dwarf with the axe in his head, and the dwarf with the odd hat. Next he point out the now familiar younger looking blond and brunette dwarves. “Fíli and Kíli.”

The two bent at the waist and announced, “At your serv—”

Thorin thumped the brothers on the back of their heads, silencing them.

“Err… thank you.” Sona nodded back at them. Sasha gave a short bark and wag of her tail, surprising everyone. Even Thorin’s eyes widened. Briefly.

Apparently the lab had forgiven the blonde dwarf for grabbing onto Sona the night before… Or perhaps she could tell he’d meant no real harm. Sona catalogued this information for later.

“And lastly,” Gandalf pressed on, “our resident healer, Oin, and his brother Gloin.”

“Gloin?” Sona’s eyes fixed on the red headed dwarf before her. He was the one with the glorious red beard from the night before that she had thought looked familiar. She now felt as if she’d been struck by lightning. How had she not seen the resemblance before now? “As in Gimli son of Gloin?”

All of the background chatter immediately silenced. If Sona thought she’d had their attention before, she was wrong. Fourteen sets of eyes were completely fixed on her.

“Aye, lass,” Gloin, slowly began, a thick lilting brogue to his words, just as Sona remembered Gimli having in the Lord of the Rings films. “And if you don’t mind me asking, how do you know about my son?”

Sona open and closed her mouth, then opened it again… but the words wouldn’t come. What could she possibly say?

Your son is kind of a big deal.

He’s going to help save all of Arda from the greatest evil ever.

He’s going to become BFF with an Elf and eventually run away with him to the undying lands.

All of it, while true, would make her sound absolutely nuts—something she wasn’t certain she was entirely avoiding at this point anyway.

Thorin stepped forward and gave Sona a brief shake of his head. No.

She felt her eyes widened and looked behind her briefly to ensure he was actually communicating with her. There was no one behind her, but when she looked back, the moment had passed and he was addressing his Company.

“Mount your ponies. We have tarried here long enough.”


 

Sona had never ridden a horse before. Motorcycle yes. Horse no.

This was nothing like a motorcycle.

She clung to Gandalf’s waist paralyzed with fear. There was a giant moving animal beneath her that could buck her off and crush her to death under his hooves at any moment.

Sona loved animals. Loved them. But loved them at a distance when they were bigger than her or could kill her. Horses qualified as both.

“My dear, if you hold on any tighter, I will not be able to breath.” Gandalf chuckled from before her as they cantered along the road.

“Sorry.” She loosened her grip. Marginally. Her gaze flitted across the surrounding company spread in a line both before and behind them as the enormity of everything hit her.

            She was in The Hobbit, but there was no hobbit. She could hardly remember the events of the book and the responsibility of it all—the very fate of Middle Earth—weighed heavily on her shoulders. Sona was determined to tell Gandalf about the Ring as soon as she could draw him away privately. And if he would not listen, Elrond certainly would. She would not let everything fall to ruin all because of one stubborn dwarf.

            Her gaze was drawn to the figure at the front of the company. He sat erect in his saddle, broad shoulders held back and thick, muscular thighs firmly around his pony. His hair waved lazily in the breeze and Sona sighed.

            He was so pretty.

            Too bad he’s a total ass, she mused. She recalled how vehemently he’d protested her addition to the company and frowned. Just because she didn’t want to go on the quest herself, didn’t mean she wanted to be immediately disregarded and thought of as a burden.

            She tried to picture the stalwart, prideful dwarf before her with the gentle smile she’d seen briefly when he’d heard his dwarves singing at Bag End. Or him playing the delicate harp she’d seen among his things at the campsite. She couldn’t make the incongruous images fit in her mind.

            If she hadn’t seen the smile for herself she wouldn’t have believed him capable of it.

            As for the harp… perhaps it was someone else’s.

 


 

A/N

If you’re enjoying the story so far, please LMK. I love to hear from my readers & talk to y’all. Also, some of you have added me on tumblr at jennywren28 – thanks! It’s a secondary blog so you can’t message me there or leave asks, unfortunately, but if you want to know my primary one, just message me here & I’ll give it to you.

Chapter Text


Electric blue eyes where did you come from?

Electric blue eyes who sent you?

Electric blue eyes, always be near me.

Electric blue eyes, I need you.

-The Cranberries


            Dinner that night was a quiet awkward affair. Gone was the loud laughter and boisterous behavior Sona had witness from the dwarves the night before. And she couldn’t help but feel it was her fault. She was the only thing that had changed in the group dynamic and she could feel eyes on her at all times. Some, like Dwalin, were blatant in their stares. Others, like Ori, seemed to be embarrassed when caught looking at her.

            She sat quietly to the side a little apart from the eating her stew and biscuit, and sneaking the chunks of meat—she thought it was venison—to Sasha. Though given how solidly muscled Sasha still was, Sona assumed the dog had caught a hare or two on the side during their journey.

            Good. Sona patted the lab on the head and stood to return her bowl to where Bofur and Bifur had gathered. She was about to offer to help to wash the dishes when she noticed Thorin standing apart a ways, overlooking the cliff side they were camped on. Well, truth be told she’d been hyper aware of where he was the entire time as she was beginning to feel physically ill over the thick pall of tension between them.

            She never could abide people disliking her. She knew it was a failing, and yet…

            Instead of dropping her bowl off, she refilled it and made her way over to Thorin’s side, and held the food out toward him.

            “I noticed you haven’t eaten yet.”

            He gave her a sidelong look and then returned his gaze to the landscape before them. “I always eat last.”

            “Oh…” She lowered the bowl and bit her lip, taking in his meaning. He wanted to be sure there was enough for everyone else first.

Even me.

Looking over her shoulder she saw that nearly everyone had finished eating at this point, and some, like Bombur, were already sleeping (given that he cooked, it was well earned).

“Everyone’s eaten.” Sona held the bowl back out to him, and after a moment he nodded towered a knee-high boulder before them. She set the food down atop the rock and turned away relieved it was over. But after taking two steps she paused and closed her eyes. Scrunching up her face, she took a deep breath to gather her courage.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Sona turned back toward Thorin.

Om Namah Shivaya

She let her breath out and walked back to his side.

Om Namah Shivaya

“Thorin…”

He didn’t look at her, but nodded, so she continued.

“I wanted to apologize.”

Thorin faced her then, and Sona nearly stumbled back at the intensity of his electric blue eyes.

“Uh… that is, I’m not sorry for what I said, but I am sorry for how I said it.” She looked down at her hiking boots, unable to take the nakedness of his gaze. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

She glanced up just in time to see him nod at her once again before he turned back to look at the skyline, but this time Sona swore she saw a hint of softness at the corners of his eyes.

Or maybe I just can’t abide the thought that someone doesn’t like me.

Sighing, she went back to her things. Sona was a bit frustrated he couldn’t even be bothered to say one word to her after she’d brought him food and apologized. But, in all fairness, she hadn’t done those things with any thanks expected. She’d done them because it was the kind and right thing to do.

            She just didn’t get him, and perhaps that’s what bothered Sona the most. It was clear his dwarves would have loved to spend more time with him, and even after only a day of observing them it was so obvious Fíli and Kíli—who she’d discovered were his nephews—were clamoring for his attention. Especially Kíli.

            So why does he hold himself apart?

            Sona pulled out her sleeping mat and spread it on the ground, determined not to look back at Thorin. She once again cursed herself for not paying closer attention to The Hobbit when she read it. She had no recollection of him being this… full of angst. No, that wasn’t the right word. She sat back on her heels, pausing mid motion of pulling her sleeping bag out of its stuff bag.

            There was just such a pallor of… something around Thorin. Something weighed him down. She bit her lower lip, considering, and snuck a quick look over at the brooding king, who was just lifting the bowl to his lips.

            At least he’s eating now. Good.

            She watched as he tipped the bowl back, careful to keep the broth and venison free of his beard. Sona realized she was staring and quickly turned away, only to see Dwalin eying her once again. Only this time it was not with scorn or distrust, but was more… evaluating? Curious? Cautious? A mixture of the three, perhaps.

            She gave him a tentative smile and he frowned, turning over on his sleeping mat, and ignored her.

            Shrugging, Sona finished spreading her sleeping bag out and Sasha, who up to this point had been happily begging scraps from Fíli and Kíli, bounded over. The dog licked Sasha’s cheek and then began spinning in place just to the side of Sona’s bedding, knowing what was coming: blissful sleep.

            They were both full of food, exhausted from travel and lack of sleep, and the emotional toll of everything going on…

            Just as Sona kicked off her boots and crawled into her sleeping bag, Sasha stood bolt upright and pointed across the ravine.

An eerie screech split the night air.


 

A/N

DUN DUN DUN....

Chapter Text

And we'll never be royals.

It don't run in our blood,

That kind of luxe just ain't for us.

We crave a different kind of buzz.

- Lorde


 

“What was that?” Sona felt like ice had been dumped over her heart at the sound. It was shrieking and alien and wrong.

She looked over at the brothers on the other side of the fire, near the rocky wall that bordered one side of the camp, and suddenly wished she was there. She felt far too exposed on the outskirts of the camp.

Even if there was a massive ravine between here and where the sound had come from.

“Orcs.” Kíli and Fíli had both frozen when they’d heard the sounds as well, but after exchanging a quick glance Fíli resumed smoking his pipe and Kíli relaxed back against the cave wall. Only Thorin, who had returned from his vigil on the cliff’s edge seemed remotely concerned. Though given that he always seemed concerned, Sona was not sure if this time was any different.

“Orcs.” Sona repeated. “Welp, that settles it.” She got out of her bag, and dragged it closer to the brothers and the rock wall. She was not sleeping with her back exposed.

“Aye, throat cutters,” Fíli began, but Sona interrupted him.

“I know what orcs are and what they can do. You don’t have to try to scare me.” She slipped inside her mummy bag, and pulled it tight around herself so that only her face showed. “I’m plenty scared already.”

The two brothers looked at Sona huddled in her bag and then collapsed against each other in quiet giggles.

“You think that’s funny?” Thorin prowled over to them, agitated and glaring at the brothers. “You would hide your own fears by mocking her?” He pointed at Sona. “She is honest with herself and right to fear orcs.”

Kíli’s smile faded and he lowered his head. “We didn’t mean anything by it.”

“No you didn’t.” Thorin stormed away. “You know nothing of the world.”

 Sona pressed tighter against the wall, not at all encouraged by what Thorin had said about orcs, though surprised that instead of taking her to task for being so cowardly about the whole thing, he’d kind of almost complimented her.

Sort of.

Still, he’d been rather harsh to Kíli, whose face had crumpled at his uncle’s words and he stared glumly into the fire. Just as Sona opened her mouth to say something to make him feel better, Balin spoke up.

“Don't mind him, laddie. Thorin has more cause than most to hate Orcs.”

Sona followed Balin’s gaze to the brooding dwarf, who stood looking over the cliff’s edge. The wind blew through his hair again, lending him a majestic air and Sona was beginning to wonder if he did it on purpose.

Of course he doesn’t do it on purpose. Now I’m just being silly.

She realized she was missing the story and focused on the white haired dwarf’s words.

“—dragon took the Lonely Mountain, King Thror tried to reclaim the ancient dwarf kingdom of Moria... but our enemy had got there first. Moria had been taken by legions of Orcs, led by the most vile of all their race, Azog the Defiler. The giant Gundabad Orc had sworn to wipe out the line of Durin.”

Sona’s heart clenched and she shot a quick glance to Fíli and Kíli as she realized this meant them. They looked somber, but unworried—as though they had heard this story before. That’s when Sona realized Balin was telling it for her benefit.

“He began by beheading the King,” Balin, continued. “Thrain, Thorin's father, was driven mad by grief. He went missing, taken prisoner or killed; we did not know.”

Sona felt a lump build in her throat and she swallowed thickly around it. This was awful. Simply awful. She’d wanted to know what had happened to Thorin… why he kept himself apart. But this was worse than she could have imagined.  

“We were leaderless, defeat and death were upon us.”

Sitting up Sona felt the scratch of a memory at the back of her mind. Thrain… Fain… Daín. DAÍN! That was it! Daín, Thorin’s uncle? Cousin? Something or other? Well, it didn’t matter, Dain had gone and lopped off Azog’s head! Sona felt a slight smile tug at the corner of her mouth. It seemed the more time she spent here, the more of The Hobbit and the history surrounding it was coming back to her—as if rust were being scraped off her memories.

“That is when I saw him.” Balin’s face lit up in a brilliant smile and Sona leaned forward, eagerly listening.

Here it comes!

“The young dwarf prince facing down the Pale Orc.” Balin looked at Thorin once again and Sona furrowed her brows in confusion. “He stood alone against this terrible foe, his armor rent, wielding nothing but an oaken branch as a shield...”

Sona’s jaw dropped—she didn’t remember any of this. Well, the oaken shield bit was familiar.

Maybe my memory is not coming back.

“Azog the Defiler learned that day that the line of Durin would not be so easily broken. Our forces rallied and drove the Orcs back; our enemy had been defeated... but there was no feast or songs that night, for our dead were beyond the count of grief. We few had survived and I thought to myself then ‘There is one I could follow. There is one I could call King’.” Balin stared with adoration and respect at Thorin, who chose that moment to turn and face them. Sona realized all the dwarves were awake and on their feet. She’d been so absorbed in the story and trying to sort out her own muddled memory of events that she hadn’t even noticed them stirring.

Thorin walked through the gathered dwarves slowly and gave them the briefest of smiles—though his regard for each and every one of them shone through in his countenance.

“But what about the pale orc? Did Daín kill him or…” Sona trailed off, realizing the words had tumbled unbidden from her mouth.

“Daín was not there. He was delayed.” The smile was gone from Thorin’s face as he spat out his next words. “As for the defiler, he slunk back into the hole whence he came.” He gave Sona a sidelong glance as he walked back to his bedroll. “That filth died of his wounds long ago.”

Sona tore her gaze away from Thorin’s retreating form and caught Gandalf and Balin exchanging a concerned glance. What they were worried about she didn’t know. She knew what she was bothered by, though…

How could she trust her memory if already it was proven to be wrong? But more pressing than that… there had been no body. So how could they be sure Azog was really dead?  


 

A/N

Thank you so much for like kudos and comments! You guys really keep me going. <3 

Chapter Text

“…I’d be safe and warm,” Sona sang miserably to herself as she clung to Gandalf’s back. “If I was in L.A.…” The rain poured down drenching them all, and Sona’s yoga gear did absolutely nothing to keep it at bay. “California dreamin’…”

“Mr. Gandalf,” Dori, the eldest of the Ri brothers, and somewhat more refined in his manners than most of the dwarves, called from behind. “Can't you do something about this deluge?”

“It is raining, Master dwarf, and it will continue to rain until the rain is done.” Gandalf turned his head sending a stream of cold water off his pointed hat right down Sona’s back. “If you wish to change the weather of the world, you should find yourself another wizard.”

“Are there any other wizards? I mean apart from Saruman.” Sona shivered and it wasn’t from being cold and wet. She knew what the white wizard would become… if he wasn’t already walking the path to darkness.

Gandalf stiffened and looked back at his charge, his twinkling blue eyes evaluating her once again. “There are five of us. The greatest of our order you mentioned, Saruman the White. And then there are the two Blue Wizards...” He turned forward again sending another shower of drops down on Sona. “You know, I've quite forgotten their names.”

“That’s only four.” Sona’s teeth chattered as she spoke. It may have been spring, but she was wholly unprepared for the weather here.

“The fifth would be Radagast the Brown.”

That jarred a memory. Sona seemed to recall a movie poster and some pre-release Hobbit promo images that David had poured over while evaluating costumes to see if there were any he wanted to make for San Diego Comic Con.

“Wait… is that… is that poop on his head?” Sona pointed a white streak on the bedraggled Wizard’s face.

David clutched his stomach with laughter. “I can’t wait to see PJ’s explanation for that!”

“He is a gentle soul who prefers the company of animals to others,” Gandalf continued, heedless of Sona’s wandering thoughts. “He keeps a watchful eye over the vast forest lands to the East, and a good thing too. For always evil will look to find a foothold in this world.”

Sona nodded against his back, knowing all too well what he meant, and then shivered as once again a waterfall of rain fell from his hat down her neck. She was going to catch her death of cold at this rate.

Suddenly a dry, warm weight alighted on her shoulders. Blinking away the rain from her eyes she looked down to see a brown cloak that must have been treated with something as the rain just beaded up and rolled off of the fabric’s surface.

Looking up she nearly fell off her horse in surprise. Dwalin was eying her with a mixture of disgust and… concern?

Before she could voice her thanks he rode off and she caught the eye of a grinning Fíli.

“I think he likes you.”

“What?” She stared back at the bald dwarf who was absolutely ignoring her presence, and getting soaked by the rain in the process. She fingered his cloak wondering what she’d done to deserve such kindness. Up until this point most of the dwarves had treated her like she had an extremely contagious disease and kept their distance.

“I’m not sure how glaring at me and ignoring me counts as liking me.” Sona burrowed deeper into the cloak, still shivering and wet, but at least she was warmer. Marginally.

“Well, he didn’t knock you off your horse.” Kíli’s voice sounded from her other side, along with Fíli’s answering snort, as if they knew from personal experience.

“Okay…” She bit her lip. “I think maybe he just felt sorry for me.” She shivered again. “I’m really not used to rain—not something we normally have to deal with back home in Cal… in the west.”

“Kal-ee-forn-ya.” Fíli tried the word out as if he was tasting it. “That’s what you were singing before. Is that where you’re from? And it never rains there?”

“Yes, and yes. Well, mostly yes.” Sona nodded her head. “It’s a coastal state. Beaches and lovely sunshine, and temperate weather year round.” She sighed and hummed the bars to California Dreamin again.

“You do that a lot.”

Sona glanced back at Fíli who was eying her once again with a half smile.

“Do what a lot?”

“Singing or humming. Especially when you think no one is paying attention,” Kíli answered.

She looked between the brothers and then shrugged, giving them both a chagrined smile. “I’m a musician. It’s what I do. I suppose I see music in everything.”

“Wait… so you’re something like a traveling minstrel then?” Kíli’s eyes widened in excitement.

“Well, no. Not exactly. I mean, when I was younger I was in a college band. And we didn’t really travel. Mostly we played local gigs and did acoustic covers of pop songs…”

This seemed to lose the brothers as their faces slackened and they shot each other questioning glances.

Too many words they don’t recognize—so Sona tried to press on in terms they would understand. “I’m a teacher now. I give private lessons to students that require extra tutoring.”

“Oh?” Bofur, the dwarf with the odd hat rode up closer, clearly listening in. “What do you play, lass?”

“Just about any stringed instrument that doesn’t require a bow.” She shrugged. “Though I prefer the guitar. Martins are my favorite brand. Their sound is so rich; it gets better with age, even on their travel guitars—I’ve actually got one with me—and the action is great, not too high, not too low, and they always smell so good…” Sona trailed off realizing she was rambling, and felt a flush warm her cheeks. “Sorry, I just really like music.”

The dwarves smiled, and she could feel Gandalf’s back vibrate with his soft laughter.
            “I love a merry jig as much as the next dwarf, lass.” Bofur’s smile broadened, soft brown eyes twinkling, as he stuck at thumb at the two brothers next to her. “And these two both play fiddle passably well. Perhaps you could be so kind as to play for us one of these evenings.”

Sona felt her mouth tug up at the corners. “I’d like that.”

The rain was falling harder now, but not even that could dampen her spirits.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A/N

A little bit of fluff and character exposition for you. :) Thank you for the kudos and comments; you put a smile on my face with every single one. :)

Chapter Text


I'm scared of change and the days stay the same

The world is spinning but only in gray

-Shatter Me, Lindsey Stirling


 

“Wait, are you saying you willingly stand atop a board of wood and hurl yourself down the center of a massive wave of water?” Kíli’s mouth hung open in shock, while Sona nodded at the brothers.

“I’m not all that great, but with a dad who won the Santa Cruz Longboard Surf contest five years running back in the seventies, I could hardly avoid it.” She gave them a wry smile. “I think I learned how to swim before I knew how to walk.”

The following days had passed much the same way as the first had, with Sona riding behind Gandalf, and Fíli and Kíli riding on either side of her. The evenings, though wet with drizzle, were pleasant enough, with Bombur making a hearty stew each night. No one commented on her picking out the meaty bits for Sasha to gobble down, and Sona had even noticed not just Fíli sneaking her bits of food, but even Dwalin, though he pretended like nothing had happened as soon as he saw Sona watching.

As for the hulking dwarf himself, when she’d tired to give him back his cloak he’d turned away grumbling something about “wet kittens who think they are lions.”

She’d managed to slip away every night for some privacy to wash her face and brush out her hair before putting it back up in a braid that would always fall out by the time they reached their next day’s camp. Though no one said anything about her absences, she noticed that if she tarried for too long or went too far, someone—more often than not, Dwalin—would randomly show up and either make stilted conversation with her or glare at her until she returned. Sona didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended by the concern the dwarves were showing her. But then she remembered there were orcs about…

The mornings were much the same, with Fíli and Kíli joining her for breakfast and more questions. Things like “why is your nose ring so small?” or “what’s that stick of color you put on your lips every morning? Can I try it?”

If not for the two keeping her laughing with their constant barrage of questions she likely would have lost her mind.

The rain had finally let up on the third day of plodding along in it and the sun burned warmly in the sky. Sona could sense a shift in the attitude of the company. Hungry, tired and wet, they all seemed ready to stop for the day and simply dry out. Conversation had all but ceased aside from Fíli and Kíli, who’s never ending curiosity kept Sona on her toes. Many of the dwarves hung around nearby on their ponies listening to the answers she struggled to give in ways they could understand. Even Dwalin, who stalwartly kept his silence, seemed fascinated by her tales.

Only Thorin steadfastly kept himself apart, up in front, pointedly ignoring her.

Guess he’s staying true to his “she is not one of us” proclamation, Sona thought with a frown. Though if she was being honest, he seemed to ignore pretty much everyone, not just her…

“Sona?”

Shaking her head, she looked at Fíli, and realized the blonde dwarf was looking at her with an amused expression before following her gaze up to his uncle.

“I asked you a question, but seem to have lost you…” He gave her a wide grin and Sona flushed. Again.

Dwarves!

“I’m sorry. What else did you want to know?”    

“He asked what your husband thought about you going off traveling all by yourself with no escort or chaperone,” Kíli answered with a smirk.

Sona bristled, remembering Thorin’s scathing words about running back to her husband.

“What is it with you guys and assuming I’m married?” She tried to keep the bite out of her voice, but given that she was gritting her teeth…

“Well,” Fíli began, completely unperturbed by her warning tone, “to begin with, there’s the piercing in your nose.”

Sona’s eyebrows shot to hairline. What did that have to do with anything?

Seeing her expression, Fíli explained. “Dwarrow-dams only wear them to signify that they are married. Not all married dwarrow-dams have a nose piercing but, all that do are wed.”

“Oh.” Sona chewed on her lower lip thinking. “We have a similar tradition. Married woman can wear the sindoor—it’s a red powder—in their hair. Not all married women do, though, but only married women are supposed to.” She didn’t explain that the removal of the sindoor symbolized widowhood. “But, Fíli, I’m not a dwarf.”

“Yes, exactly so. You are of the race of men, and most females—”

“Woman, thank you very much.”

“I apologize,” he said smoothly, not missing a beat. “Most women are married and have a brood of children by the time they reach your age.”

“And just what age am I?” Sona raised an eyebrow and ignored Gandalf’s chuckling.

“Not a day over a sixty-four, I’d say.” Kíli puffed out his chest proudly. “I know men don’t age the same way dwarfs do, so taking that into consideration…”

He trailed off when he noticed the appalled look on Sona’s face.

“You don’t know much about humans, do you?”

At this Gandalf laughed uproariously. “My dear, Fíli, and to a lesser degree Kíli—when he shows up for lessons…”

Here the young dwarf give Sona a quick wink, and Gandalf continued on unperturbed.

“…know more about the race of men than most dwarves as they have been tutored about a great many things for most of their lives to prepare them for when one of them will inherit the throne from Thorin some day.”

Sona nodded. That made sense. It also explained their curiosity to some degree.

“But to further explain for you,” Gandalf continued. “Dwarves and men do not age the same. Your lifespan is considerable shorter. Fíli here is eighty-two, while young master Kíli is only seventy-seven.”

Sona gasped. “You’re so old!”

The brothers looked at each other as if to say, “huh?”

Sona then looked at Dwalin. “What are you, three hundred?” He merely grunted in response, but she could see the corner of his mouth tug upward.

“My dear, they are not old.” Gandalf smiled back at her. “Fíli and Kíli have still not yet reached their majority and are only here because their uncle allowed it.”

“More like they kept pestering Thorin until he’d had enough of their nonesense,” Dwalin grunted from his perch.

“And then mother made him swear to look after us.” Kíli scrunched up his nose. “As if we were still dwarflings in short pants!”

“So how old, are you Sona?” Fíli asked again. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed you didn’t answer my question about your husband.”

“I’m thirty-two. Definitely an adult by human standards, and I don’t need an escort or chaperone to travel. I’m out on my own quite a bit, actually.” Sona stared straight at the back of Gandalf’s head. “And you’re right. I was married.” He fingers ghosted over the naked ring finger of her left hand. “My husband drowned several years ago saving three children from a riptide.”

A somber gloom immediately descended on the group, as all the dwarves immediately looked away from her, abject pity on their faces—even on Dwalin’s.

Sona forced herself not to bristle again—this was a different culture she was dealing with and she had no idea how things like the death of a spouse were handled among them.

“I… apologize.” Fíli sat awkwardly in his saddle. “I did not realize… I would not have asked if…”

“It’s okay, Fíli.” Sona took pity on the young dwarf. “How could you have known? It’s not like I run around advertising that I’m a widow.”

It was then that she noticed that Thorin, while not exactly turned around in his saddle facing them, had canted his head toward her, clearly listening.

As though he felt Sona’s gaze on him, he raised his brilliant blue eyes toward hers, his expression unreadable.

He abruptly stopped and swung off his pony. “We'll camp here for the night.” He shifted his gaze to his nephews. “Fíli, Kíli, look after the ponies. Make sure you stay with them.”


 

Chapter Text

I’m living in the weirdest dream

Where nothing is the way it seems

Where no one’s who they need to be

Where nothing seems that real to me

-Born of Frustration (James)


 

After Sona nearly tumbled from the back the horse she shared with Gandalf (her legs and back would not be forgiving her any time soon for four days straight of riding) she shuffled over to where Thorin and Gandalf were speaking to each other inside the ruin of a farmhouse. She ignored the warning looks Balin gave her—Gandalf had been avoiding her for days once they were done riding, and that ended now. She was going to tell him about the ring and he was going to listen.

            “…could make for the hidden valley.” Gandalf was leaning on his staff, imploring the dwarf.

But I've told you already. I will not go near that place.” Thorin’s voice and expression brooked no argument.

Why not?” Gandalf’s voice sounded strained. “The Elves could help us, we could get food, rest, advice.”

Sona paused by the stone frame of the house. Elves? Her heart began to race and she felt a smile touch her face. She’d always loved the elves in Lord of the Rings, and truth be told she’d had the biggest crush on Legolas in high school. Though it was nothing to her love for Boromir—go figure she adored the man destined to die.  

Thorin’s baritone cut into her thoughts.I do not need their advice.”

We have a map that we cannot read.” The wizard definitely sounded as if he was losing his patience with the dwarf. “Lord Elrond could help us.”

Elrond? Sona’s ears perked up. Though she thought she should feel somewhat guilty for listening to this conversation, she was standing in plain sight of Thorin and he didn’t seem to be bothered by her presence.

“Help? A dragon attacks Erebor. What help came from the Elves?”

Gandalf sighed, but Thorin pressed on. “Orcs plunder Moria, desecrate our sacred halls, the Elves looked on and did nothing!” He closed the distance between himself and the wizard. “You ask me to seek out the very people who betrayed my grandfather, who betrayed my father.” His voice dripped with contempt for both the elves and the very notion of seeking assistance, while Sona stood dumbfounded.

That did not seem like Elrond at all—the Elves of Imladris were, as far as she knew, always helpful and hospitable…

“You are neither of them.” Gandalf loomed over Thorin and the dwarf looked away. “I did not give you that map and key for you to hold on to the past.”

Thorin whipped his head up and met Gandalf’s gaze boldly. “I did not know they were yours to keep.”

Letting out a strangled sigh, the wizard whirled and stormed past Sona with out so much as a ‘by your leave’. Thorin was gazing at her, his expression inscrutable, and she opened then closed her mouth, at a loss as to what to say.

Nothing. Say nothing. And let that be a lesson to you to stick your nose in things that aren’t your business.

Blushing—goodness, would she ever stop blushing around these dwarves?—Sona whirled, sending her long braid flying out behind her and jogged after the wizard, ignoring her protesting legs.

“Gandalf, wait.”

He was already at the edge of the camp telling off Dori. “I've had enough of dwarves for one day!” And strode angrily onward.

“Hang on!” She pointed at Sasha who had just stopped tugging on a stick Fíli held out to her. “No. Stay, girl.” And for once the stubborn lab actually listened to her. Though Sona thought that likely had more to do with how tired the dog was from walking all day. That and she had really taken a shine to the blonde dwarf.

“Fíli! Kíli! What did I say about the ponies?” Thorin’s voice boomed from behind as Sona rounded a bend in the lane and finally caught up with Gandalf. The wizard was speedwalking toward the setting sun in his haste to get away from the camp.

“Hey, would you please wait?” Sona grabbed at her side as she struggled to keep up. “My legs aren’t as long as yours!”

The wizard merely grumbled and did not slow down one bit.

“Look, I’m not a dwarf, so you’ve no right to be angry with me. I didn’t yell at you.” She broke into a trot in order to keep up with the elderly gentleman. “And for that matter, you shouldn’t have snapped at Dori. He didn’t do anything to you either and…” She trailed off, realizing that Gandalf was staring at her from under his brows.

“Are you quite finished?”

“Yes.

“Good. Then leave me in peace.”

“Wait, no, actually I’m not done. We need to talk.”

He quickened his pace, but Sona would not let him put this off again.

“Gandalf, why are you even worried about Erebor? Do you have any idea of what’s coming?”

“My dear, why Erebor?” Gandalf finally stopped, and turned to face her fully, frustration plain on his face. “It is because I have a very good idea of what is coming that I wish for Erebor to be reclaimed. The dwarves will have to be strong. They will need a king to unite them. Not to mention Erebor’s strategic location.”

That was not at all the response Sona had been expecting. Still… “Then if you do know about… you know who then why are you wasting your time on this quest? Let the company go on their own because you should really be out looking for the—”

For the second time in their brief acquaintance Gandalf’s hand shot out to cover her mouth and he forcibly silenced her.

Do not speak of the future, you foolish child!” He released her and she stumbled back out of his reach. “We have Galadriel to scry things for us. And unlike you she tells of possibilities, not actualities.”

“But—”

“No!” Gandalf’s eyes gentled as he leaned down to meet her gaze, but his intensity remained the same. “My dear, I have sense enough to know that things have already changed just by you being here. I do not know what the Valar have planned for you or the rest of us, and until I get a chance to speak to the White Council, you will keep your foresight to yourself.” He straightened. “Now if you will excuse me, I need a moment alone to gather my wits.” He then walked off muttering something about the stubbornness of dwarves, leaving Sona to herself.

“More like wizards are stubborn,” Sona grumbled, kicking a rock.

The sun had well and fully set at this point and though Sona could pick up the wafting smell of a delicious dinner and the faint sounds of the jovial dwarves, she found she had lost her appetite and had no desire for company. So, she sat down on a nearby boulder and buried her face in her hands. All she could think about was how she had somehow managed to ruin everything.

            Gandalf ardently refused to listen to her. Bilbo was not on the quest to reclaim Erebor, and therefore would not find the ring of power. Thorin wanted nothing to do with her and would most certainly ditch her the soonest chance he got… and that bothered her a lot more than it should have.

            On top of all that, though it seemed trivial in the larger scheme of things, she missed sleeping in her own bed and taking a real shower.


 

A/N

I need to once again thank my wonderful Beta, YM! If not for them this story would absolutely SUUUUUUUCK. 

Also, goodness, I guess you guys really liked that last chapter – thanks so much for the comments! They definitely keep me writing.

Chapter Text

 

So when you’re near me

Darling can’t you hear me

S.O.S.

            -ABBA


 

            After several hours of sitting alone and feeling sorry for herself, Sona noticed the chill in the air and shivered. Gandalf still had not come back, and she found it odd that none of the dwarves had come to find her and escort her back for dinner. Dwalin at the very least should have been looming over her glowering. In fact, at some point in her brooding the noise from the camp had ceased… and she’d only now realized it.  

            “Hello?” She walked into camp and found the fire had died and the remnants of the soup had burned to the bottom of the pot. Not a soul was around, and Sona’s breath caught in her throat when she realized she couldn’t even hear the usual night sounds of crickets and owls… She was utterly alone.

            “Ahhh!” She nearly jumped out of her skin when Sasha leapt from between the bushes and began barking at her and running back to the trees. The lab then paused, quivering with anxiety, and Sona noticed she was trailing the end of what appeared to be a chewed off rope looped through her collar.

            “What is it, girl?” Then Sona checked herself realizing the dog was obviously not going to answer her. Scooping up her pack, because she had no idea what she was about to encounter or what she would need or what she could possibly do that thirteen well-armed and competent dwarves couldn’t handle, she ran after Sasha into the dark forest.


 

            “Don't bother cooking 'em! Let's just sit on 'em and squash 'em into jelly!” The most vile smelling creature Sona had ever encountered picked at his teeth with what appeared to be the rib bone of a… Sona’s gaze drifted across the filthy camp before her and spotted the remains of one of the dwarves’ ponies.

Trolls. Of course it’s trolls.

Sona wasn’t quite sure what she had been expecting. She’d known they’d run into the trolls eventually and was mentally kicking herself for not saying anything sooner. Though, given that Gandalf had flat refused to listen to her any time she tried to talk to him and Thorin pretty much avoided any interaction with her…

Still, I guess I could have told Dwalin, or one of the others.

            “They should be sautéed and grilled with a sprinkle of sage.” Another troll, this one with a large greasy apron indicated a heap wriggling sacks. She mentally labeled him Cook.

            “Oh, that does sound quite nice,” the first troll, whom she labeled Jelly, replied.

No, not sacks… Dwarves!

            She edged closer, while still remaining safe in the shadows and counted. Eleven, twelve… Out popped Bofur’s head from under Bombur, grumbling all the while, and Sona sighed with relief. Thirteen. They’re all here. I’m not too late.

            “Never mind the seasoning, we ain't got all night!” A third troll, she decided to call him Hulk, walked over to the pile of dwarves, a massive hand nearly the size of their bodies, extending toward them. “Dawn ain't far away, let's get a move on! I don't fancy been turned to stone.” Just as the troll was about to grab Bombur, the apron-wearing troll rapped his hand with a ladle, and a squabble broke out between the two.

            Realizing this was likely her best shot at freeing the dwarves, Sona dropped her pack silently to the ground and pulled out a knife from the side pouch. It was a tiny Kershaw Chive, but the rainbow wash to the metal meant it was heat treated titanium and she knew it would do well against whatever rope the trolls had tied around the dwarves. It just might take longer than a larger knife. Still, it was better than nothing.

            She motioned for Sasha to stay and held a finger to her lips. The dog obediently lay down next to her pack without a sound. Then, making her way around the edge of the troll camp, Sona crept up behind the dwarf closest to the tree line.

            Thorin. Of course it was Thorin.

            She silently pulled open her three-inch blade and, thankful for the brawling argument the trolls were still having, placed a soft hand on Thorin’s shoulder.

            Electric blue eyes met hers as Thorin jerked away, but then he froze when he realized who it was. Sona stared at his face, surprised by the range of emotions flitting across it. He was usually so unreadable, and yet now she could see anger, aggression, and even a hint of fear in the play of his eyes and turn of his mouth. She forced herself to tear her gaze away, and studied the rope tying the top of his sack closed.

The rope was very thick, and would take time to cut, but she could tell just by looking at the knot she wouldn’t have the strength to undo it. Sona leaned forward to get the leverage she needed, forcing herself to ignore the close proximity this put them in. Her fingers brushed lightly across the warm skin of his neck as she wrapped her fingers around the wide girth of the rope. She pressed her blade to the coarse fibre and could feel Thorin’s breath quicken as it played across the exposed skin of her own neck. Swallowing, she began to saw. It was slow work, going back and forth, and her knife was not as sharp as she would have liked, but she was patient, and Thorin held very still.

A few of the closer dwarves caught onto the fact that she was there, but the trolls remained blissfully unaware in their arguing. At least that was until…

            “Sona—” Kíli called with a relieved smile. Fíli kicked him, but the damage was done.

            Cook paused in the act of beating Hulk with his ladle. “Oi! Who’s that there?”

            “Can we eat him?” Jelly got to his feet.

            “Run.” It was the first word Thorin had spoken directly to Sona since she’d asked about the pale orc’s fate that first night. He stared at her with fierce intensity, and… was that gratitude? She couldn’t be sure. She didn’t know him well enough yet.

            But she knew one thing for certain: she would not leave the dwarves here to be eaten by the trolls.

            She couldn’t fight them, but she could play for time.

            As if sensing what she was about to do, his eyes widened, whether in shock over her disregarding his command to run, or that she was about to do something incredibly stupid. Meeting his eyes fully, only inches from her own, she gave him a rueful smile before carefully dropping her knife into Thorin’s sack.

Sona straightened and held her hands over her head in surrender.

“Her.” She stepped around the dwarves, all urging her to run, and out into the dim firelight.

            “What?” Cook lowered his ladle.

            “Her. I’m a woman. Not a he.” Her hands were surprisingly steady, and her voice was strong. Sona had no idea why she hadn’t fainted dead away when faced by these three monstrous creatures. Especially given that since so much had changed already, she had no guarantee that Gandalf would return in time to save them.

            “What does it matter?” Hulk reached toward her. “Put ‘er in a bag and let’s eat ‘er too.”

            Play for time. She stepped out of his reach, but didn’t run. Play for time! “Okay… while I’d prefer not to be eaten—”

            “We don’t really care what you’d prefer missy—”

            Sona deftly dodged his grasp, and made her way to her pack, motioning Sasha back with a flick of her head. I must be nuts. “—would you grant me one last request before you kill me?”

            This caused all three trolls to pause, and even the dwarves stopped yelling at her to run. All parties looked at her in confusion and askance.

            “It’s the gentlemanly thing to do, after all.” She slowly lowered her arms to her side, but held her ground.

            The trolls huddled together in conversation, occasionally shooting her curious glances. She dug into her pack while their backs were turned, and after a few brief moments they faced her in unison.

            “Alright, we’ll give you your last request, so long as it’s not to let you or them go.”

            Damn. Not that Sona thought for a moment that would ever work.

            “Of course not.” She smiled up at them, exuding a confidence she didn’t even remotely feel. They’re just another audience. Nothing more. Definitely not three trolls who want to squash me into jelly. “I would never insult your intelligence by asking for that.”

            The trolls preened at that, and the dwarves grumbled loudly. Sona shot them a pleading look. Shut up!

             “No, what I was going to ask is if”—she pulled her guitar from behind her back—“you would grant me the honor of playing a song for you?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A/N

Hmmmmm, wonder if Sona's skills are truly all that...

Chapter Text

Once there was a way to get back homeward

Once there was a way to get back home

Sleep pretty darling do not cry

And I will sing a lullabye

            -Golden Slumbers, The Beatles


 

“Oh yes, please let’s have a song!” Jelly clapped his hands together. “It would be so nice. We ain’t had any sort of entertainment in so very long.”

            “We ain’t got time. Sun’ll be rising soon.” Hulk pointed to the east. “Just bag her and be done with it. This lot ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

            “Oh come on, Bert, can’t we just have one song?” Jelly looked at Cook, and Sona belated realized these creatures had actual names.

            Cook/Bert peered at her over his ladle, and then nodded his head. “I suppose just one song won’t hurt. We ain’t savages after all.”

            Sona felt her eyes widened, and she wisely did not meet any of the dwarves’ gazes, lest her eyes betray her. She could only imagine the combination of shock and umbrage that would be painted across their faces.  

Hulk grumbled loudly at Bert’s pronouncement, but plopped himself on the ground next to Jelly and didn’t fight it. “Just play your jig and be done.”

Nodding, she slowly lowered her guitar’s strap over her head and settled it on her shoulders. She pulled the pick out from under the strings of the guitar’s neck and strummed. Reaching up to the head of the guitar she adjusted the tuning pegs until each string sounded right.

“Hurry up!”

“I thought you said you weren’t savages.” She stared up boldly at Hulk. “If this going to be the last song I ever play, I’m going to do it right.”

“Shot your gob and let ‘er play, William!” Bert whacked Hulk with his ladle.

“Thank you.” She nodded toward Bert, and fastidiously ignored the once again grumbling dwarves, hoping Thorin was making good use of the knife and time she was buying him. Play for time.

Then, strumming a G chord, Sona began singing the longest song she knew how to play. “Long, long time ago…

She looked up at her audience to find Jelly clapping his hands together before William/Hulk elbowed him harshly.

I can still remember, how that music used to make me smile…” The trolls settled in and watched quietly, with Jelly bobbing his head along excitedly, particularly when she got to the chorus. “So bye, bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry…

And then the strangest thing happened… one by one trolls started drifting off to sleep. William, unsurprisingly, given how bored he appeared to be by it all, was the first to go. His snores were quiet and chirping along in time with Sona as she sang about moss growing fat on a rolling stone. Her fingers deftly maneuvered along the fret board and she was grateful it wasn’t a particularly difficult song to play. Just long, all eight minutes of it.

As she rolled into the fourth verse Bert’s head was bobbing up and down as he fought against drifting off, but he succumbed before she began singing once more about good ol’ boys drinkin’ whiskey and rye. Out of the corner of her eye she could see that Thorin had freed not just himself but Dwalin and Fíli as well, and they were all silently working on cutting everyone else out.

Play for time, she repeated in her head as she rolled into the sixth verse. Jelly was stubbornly hanging on, though his eyes were half lidded. Sona slowed down the final verse as much as she dared, and by the time she strummed the last chord and sang, what she hoped was an ironic “this’ll be the day that I die” all three trolls were snoring soundly, and most of the dwarves were free.

Kíli shot her a big grin, and she gave him a thumbs up in return. Bofur and Nori were working on freeing the ponies, while Gloin and Ori helped free the last of the dwarves. Satisfied that everything was progressing well, and still shocked at how relatively easy it had been to secure their freedom, she tiptoed over to her bag and returned her guitar.

Straightening, she looked back over at the trolls, to ensure they were still asleep, just in time to see Dwalin aggressively approaching Jelly with an axe in each hand. Before she could even think about what she was doing, Sona sprinted over and yelled, “NO!” 

A meaty fist wrapped around her waist and Sona’s shout immediately cut off as William raised her off the ground. “I knew you was trouble from the moment we saw you! I’m going to pop your ‘ead off right now!”

Dwalin spun and raced toward her as the troll squeezed—

“The dawn will take you all!” Gandalf stood on a boulder shielding the camp and thrust his staff on it, breaking it in two just as Sasha hurled herself at the troll’s calf and bit down.

William dropped Sona as he yelped in pain and reached down to swat at the dog… and froze in place as the sun washed over him and his companions, turning them all into stone.

            Thorin gently set Sona down on her feet, having caught her when the troll dropped her. “Are you injured?”

            Sona slowly shook her head. Aside from being a bit sore from William’s grab and attempted squeeze, she’d escaped the ordeal unscathed.

            “Good.” Thorin’s brows furrowed in gentle concern, framing kind eyes—kind eyes? Was she seeing this clearly? But then his brows straightened, his eyes hardened, and his jaw. Dwalin, still carrying his two axes, and looking no less fierce, moved to stand right behind him. “Then perhaps you will explain. Mahal save us, but what were you thinking!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A/N

I'm certain Sona will respond to Thorin's polite query about her thought process in kind. ;-)

Chapter Text


But I’m not sorry

If I do insult you

I’m sad

I’m not sorry

‘Bout the way that things went

            -The Cranberries


 

 

“I couldn’t let Dwalin kill Jelly!” Sona was shocked at Thorin’s words. After she’d risked her own life to free them…? Ungrateful, stubborn dwarf!

“Who?” Thorin raised an eyebrow, and then put up both hands. “It does not matter. That was—”

“Jelly?” Dwalin peered at her fiercely from under his bushy brows. “Do you mean to say you actually named the filth?”

“Who cares if I did?” Sona crossed her arms. “I couldn’t very well just let you kill them. Especially not in their sleep.”

“Aye, you very well could.” Dwalin stepped around Thorin and used his ax to punctuate his words. “They’re savages, lass, and would have continued to wreck havoc and ruin! I was doing the world a service in meeting out their punishment.”

“And what was their crime?” Sona pushed Dwalin’s axe down. “Being hungry? When you’re hungry enough you’ll do anything for food.”

Dwalin screwed up his face in confusion at her stalwart defense of them. “They’re trolls. That is crime enough. They’re a menace.”

“No.” She pointed at the statues. “They were living, breathing beings and therefore had as much right to life as me or you. Who are you to decide—”

“ENOUGH!” Thorin’s words fell like a hammer as he stepped between them. “You,” he gripped Dwalin’s shoulder, “go and make sure everyone’s got their weapons back. And you,” he faced Sona. “Next time I tell you to do something, I expect to be obeyed. When I say run, you run.”

“Why?” Sona reached down to stroke Sasha’s head. The dog had just returned from checking on the other dwarves.

Why?” Thorin gave her an incredulous look. “Must I explain the obvious? I lead this Company—”

“You’ve already made it abundantly clear that I am not a member of your company, that you don’t want me along, and that you want nothing to do with me.” She listed off each item with her fingers as she spoke and Sasha gave a short bark to punctuate Sona’s words at the end. “So why should I listen to you? Besides, you should be thanking me.”

“Thanking you?” Thorin's deep voice sank even lower as his eyebrows shot up to his hairline. He opened his mouth to reply when Gandalf touched his arm.

“She had the nous to play for time.” The wizard nodded his head toward Sona. “None of the rest of you thought of that…”

Thorin’s gaze lingered on her before he gave Gandalf a slight nod and the gray wizard gently led the dwarf off to the side to speak privately.

Sona let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, and felt suddenly heavier. She hated fighting, and wished she and Thorin could say two words to each other without breaking out into an argument. And now it seemed Dwalin was angry with her too.

Why couldn’t I have arrived in Lothlorien? The elves at least would have respected my beliefs.

Bifur stepped before her and made some motions with his hands and said something in the strange language she sometimes heard the dwarves use. She nodded at the odd dwarf with the axe imbedded in his head, and felt her cheeks flush. Though she was at a loss as to what he was trying to tell her, the forceful way he was moving and speaking made her think he was upset with her too. He abruptly turned and walked off.  

“He says you play and sing very well.” Bofur was casually leaning against a tree, arms crossed, with Fíli and Kíli standing next to him, all three of them looking at her with sharp eyes, evaluating her. Sona wondered how much of her previous confrontation with Dwalin and Thorin they’d seen.

“He also says thank you.” The dwarf nodded his head with a smile, and the flaps of his hat waved gently with his motion.

“Oh… he’s welcome.” Sona had not expected that and felt at a loss as to what to say. “You’re all welcome.”

“If I’d have known all it would take was getting captured by trolls to get you to play for us, I’d have done it days ago,” Bofur replied, his smile widening. “You did promise to play for us, lass.”

“Oh, well, it’s just… it’s been raining, and my guitar… and I didn’t think certain people would like…” She trailed off and her gaze wandered toward Thorin and Gandalf, still in council with each other. Just then the wizard looked up at her, and she felt a chill wash over her. What are they talking about?

“Did you know that would happen, the trolls falling asleep, when you played for them?” Kíli drew her attention back to the three of them.

“What? No.” She gave a wry chuckle. “I’m just as surprised as you are.”

“You mean you did that, knowing they’d eat you in the end?” Fíli pursed his lips flat, causing his mustache braids to tremble.

“Well, I was banking on you being free by the time I was done and rescuing me in turn.” Sona shrugged. It had seemed like the best course of action at the time. “And speaking of, how’d you manage to get caught in the first place?”

The three dwarves immediately looked anywhere but at her and there was much stammering and muttering until Thorin strode purposefully past saying, “There must be a cave nearby.”


 

            Sona definitely did not go inside the cave. And as bad as it stank, she definitely did not go anywhere near the cave. Instead she sat on a log, a good distance away, and inventoried the contents of her pack to make sure everything was safe and sound and dry after everything that had happened over the past several days. A few of the other dwarves had gone back to their camp to gather their abandoned belongings while Gandalf, Thorin, Dwalin, Bofur, Gloin, and Nori explored the cave.

            Sasha was playing fetch with Fíli and Sona had to laugh when the silly lab tried to bring a branch to the young dwarf that was twice the length of her own body.

            The others returned from the camp, belongings in tow, and so, her meager belongings sorted, Sona carefully repacked her bag. She tucked the cloak Dwalin had loaned her around her guitar and David’s urn before zipping the backpack closed and strapped her sleeping bag to the top and sleeping mat to the bottom.

            Just then the cave explorers emerged and she got to her feet, ready to move on. She knew she should be exhausted from their adventure filled night, but she was still abuzz with what had happened. Trolls. Actual trolls! And she had stood up to them, and played for them to buy time and it had worked and—

            “Sona.”

            She looked up to find Gandalf before her holding a sword and another sheathed weapon in his hands. She took in the dusty, cobweb-covered hilt of the sword and immediately recognized its lines. She would know that sword anywhere; she knew it almost as well as Narsil and Gúthwinë.

            “Glamdring!” Sona leaned forward excitedly. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! That is so cool! I’d completely forgotten this is where you would find it!”

            The corner of Gandalf’s mouth tugged upward. “Is that what it’s called?”

            Sona nodded and reached out to touch it, but Gandalf held another weapon out to her, one she instantly recognized as well, though this one did not bring excitement to her.

            “Take this, my dear. It will be easier for you to wield.”

            Sting! Her stomach roiled, and she was once again reminded of how badly she’d screwed everything up by being there instead of Bilbo. He was supposed to receive that sword, not her.

            “I can’t take this, Gandalf.” She pushed it back toward him.

The blade is of Elvish make, my dear.” He smiled down at her, clearly not understanding why she did not want it. “Which means it will glow blue when orcs or goblins are nearby.” He held it back out toward her.

“I know all that. It’s just that… I mean… I’ve never used a weapon against someone before.”

“And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this—”

“No.” Sona pushed the short sword back. “You don’t understand. I’m a pacifist.”

A passing Dwalin froze in his tracks. “You’re a whatsafist?”

She glanced at him, then back to Gandalf. “Pacifist. I don’t believe in using violence because all lives are sacred.”

Dwalin just goggled at her, as if he could not quite comprehend what she was saying. He understood her words, but not her meaning.

Gandalf, on the other hand, let out a booming laugh. “Of course you are, my dear, of course you are.” He held the sword out to her once again. “At least take it in the event you need to cut some dwarves out of troll bonds again.”

She gingerly wrapped her hands around the hilt and scabbard of the weapon. It was one thing to carry a prop sword when cosplaying, but this, this, had the weight and feel of a real sword.

That’s because it is one, silly!

Dwalin was still standing there staring at her with a mixture of disgust and horror when Thorin’s booming voice cut in:

“Something's coming!”


 

A/N

You guys are calling Sona/Thorin “Sorin” awwwww! I love it!

You guys are the best!

Chapter Text


 

And I ran, I ran so far away.

I just ran, I ran all night and day.

I couldn't get away.

-Flock of Seagulls


 

“Stay together! Hurry, now! Arm yourselves!” Gandalf waved them toward the treeline bordering the cave. Sona ran over, still clutching Sting in her hands gingerly, unsure of what to do with it. Thorin glanced her way and then shifted his gaze to Dwalin who had already grabbed on to Sona’s biceps and yanked her back.

            The bald dwarf positioned himself between her and the approaching noise. “Stay behind me.”

            Sona nodded and grabbed onto Sasha’s collar as she tried to race by to join Fíli. “Stay, girl.” The lab whined, but heeled.

            Just then a truly wild looking man dressed in tatty browns burst through the trees on a sled pulled by rabbits nearly as large as Sasha (who, coincidentally was tugging against her collar again).

“Thieves! Fire! Murder!” The wild man bellowed in their direction as the dwarves surrounded him, each double-fisted with a weapon at the ready.

“Radagast. It's Radagast the Brown!” Gandalf sheathed his sword and a smile crossed his face. “What on earth are you doing here?”

The dwarves eased back as a communal sigh rustled through them and Sona leaned out from behind Dwalin to get a better look at the new wizard. Yup. That’s definitely poop on his face. She smiled softly knowing David would have delighted in having that confirmed.

The wizard peered up at Gandalf, a worried expression on his face. “I was looking for you, Gandalf. Something's wrong. Something's terribly wrong.”

“Yes?” Gandalf leaned forward.

“You have got to be kidding me! I’ve been saying that for days—” Sona halted, stopped by Thorin’s eyes, but then quickly looked back to the wizards.

“Just give me a minute.” Radagast scrunched up his face in concentration. “Um...Oh! I had a thought and now I've lost it. It was...it was right there, on the tip of my tongue!” His voice pitched down and he curled his tongue. “Oh! It's not a thought at all! It's a silly old... stick insect.”

Sona’s eyes widened and she and Dwalin exchanged incredulous looks as Gandalf pulled a sticklike bug from Radagast’s mouth.


 

            The two wizards stood apart discussing something Sona could only imagine, and she was burning to know what was being said. She crept forward. Maybe they’re talking about me. Maybe they’re talking about you-know-who. Maybe—

            “Oi, Sona.” Kíli plopped down beside her. “How come Sasha likes Fíli better than me?”

            Sona tried to look past him to the wizards, but he kept moving his head before hers undeterred, until she looked to where he was pointing.

            Behind her the other dwarves had all packed their things and Sasha and Fíli were back to playing fetch with a more reasonable sized branch this time.

Sona smiled. “You never can tell with dogs, Kíli.” She pulled out a piece of jerky from her pocket and whistled. Sasha froze and then abandoned Fíli to run to Sona for her treat, tongue lolling out all the while.

“Siiiiit.”

The lab promptly lowered onto her haunches and Sona handed the piece of meat to Kíli, who pinched it between his fingers.

“My husband trained her, and he used to keep little snacks in his pocket for her to reward her any time she did something she was supposed to.” She then motioned for the dwarf to pass along the jerky.

Sasha eyed the meat greedily but did nothing until Kíli looked back up at Sona, confused. His hand was right under the lab’s nose and apart from drool—

“Okay!”

Sona gobbled the meat down as Kíli jerked his hand away just in time. Sona bent over laughing. “Next time, hold it out to her with your fingers flat like a plate so you don’t lose them.

Kíli gave her a sour look, but his hint of a smile revealed he was not truly upset with her.

The dog suddenly froze and a half a moment later a piercing howl broke the morning air.

Sona shot to her feet. “Was that a wolf?”

“No,” Bofur looked around them, hammer at the ready. “That was not a wolf.”

The growl came from behind her and Sona whirled just in time to see the largest, foulest looking hairy creature leap at her. She had no time. And yet, she had all the time in the world. Around her she could see the dwarves move into action with axes, swords, and warhammers out and at the ready. Kíli had an arrow nocked and firing at another leaping warg.

All this happened in the blink of an eye, and Sona, knowing she didn’t have time to run, closed her eyes and braced for the impact of teeth and claws and hoped she would go quick. And yet, when the impact came, it was a surprise… as it came from her side, knocking her down and out of the way of the creature.

Everything was dark under the curtain of wavy black hair from her savior. It spilled over her face heavy and soft, and smelled of pine and… cardamom? Yes, definitely cardamom. It was one of her favorite spices to cook with and of course in chai it was heavenly.

Before she could give it any more thought, the weight against her shifted, and then was gone. Thorin’s baritone voice boomed toward the dwarves as he held a hand down toward Sona, his axe on the ground near his feet. She gingerly took his hand, unsurprised by the calluses she felt there. They made her think of her own, though hers were wrought from long hours of playing music, not wielding a weapon.

“Warg scouts!” He pulled her to her feet and gave her the same concerned look of furrowed brows and kind eyes from before. She nodded her head, letting him know she was fine. Releasing her hand, he turned back to the dwarves. “Which means an orc pack is not far behind!”

“Awesome,” Sona muttered quietly as she looked around for Sasha, though she needn’t look far as the dog, complete with a black bloodied muzzle, along with Fíli and Dwalin were examining the warg that had leapt at her. It was completely mangled and she realized she was going to be sick.

Sona made it two steps from the group before she fell to her knees and vomited. She heard snatches of an argument between Gandalf and Thorin about whom he’d told about his quest, to which he adamantly replied that he’d told no one.

The wizard briefly mentioned her name, though only to point out that she hadn’t met anyone else other than themselves, so it couldn’t have been her, to which Thorin swiftly agreed.

As she bent over to heave again, one thing Gandalf said rang clear: “You are being hunted.”

A weighty hand settled on her back, and another pulled her mussed braid out of the way. “There, there, lass. Let it out.” Dwalin’s growling voice was surprisingly gentle. “You’d not be the first to lose their breakfast over the sight of the battle.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” She coughed and wiped at her mouth with the sleeve of her yoga sweater. “I don’t get you. One minute you’re glaring at me like I’ve offended your mother somehow, and the next you’re looking after me like you’re some kind of cranky old uncle who feels obligated to because we’re related. Except we’re not. Obviously.” She got to her feet shakily with his assistance. “What gives?”

Dwalin’s brows were furrowed close together (forming a very epic unibrow) in his concentration as he tried to make sense of her words. He finally answered: “I suppose it’s because you remind of someone I very much respect and care for.” Then a broad smile split his face, “that is except for the whatsafist part!”

“Pacifist,” she said with a chuckle, and was about to ask more about who she reminded him of when Radagast mentioned something about his fast rabbits, and was off like a shot. Suddenly everyone was moving, grabbing gear. Sona realized the ponies were gone, and Dwalin was throwing her pack on his back. Before she could protest the dwarf shook his head.

“You need to be able to keep up,” he growled, concern shimmering through his hard face.

She knew a part of her should feel indignant about the supposition on his part that she would not be able to keep up, but then she remembered that Gimli had run for several days straight with Legolas and Aragorn: an elf and one of the Dúnedain. She was neither.

The howls sounded again, and this time, when Thorin looked directly at Sona and ordered her to run, she did not hesitate.

She ran.


 

Chapter Text


 

He's going the distance.

He's going for speed.

He's going the distance.

            -Cake


 

“Ori, no!” Thorin yanked the sweater-wearing dwarf back roughly behind the outcropping of rocks they’d raced to. “Come back.”

            Sona was doubled over gasping for breath. She felt like they’d been sprinting for days, and at that moment she no longer cared that they were being pursued by wargs and their orc riders.

            Because if they catch us, they’ll kill us, but then at least I wouldn’t be running anymore.

“All of you, come on, come on! Quick!” Gandalf ordered and before Sona could protest they were running again. She was directly behind Bombur. Watching the massive dwarf sprinting along just fine over the long distance nearly sent her into hysterical giggles.

“Gimli… full of… crap,” she gasped.

Gloin spared her a brief, yet confused, glance, but before she could clarify what she meant, Dwalin tugged her behind another rock outcropping. Placing a protective arm over her chest and pinning her against the wall, he warned her with his eyes to be silent, then pointed above their heads.

Sona looked up, then next to her as Thorin, his eyes trained on Kíli then quickly shifted to his nephew’s right hand, motioned for the young dwarf to do… something.

She furrowed her brows in confusion, then shock. Kíli let loose an arrow and a warg and his rider came tumbling down the rock, both creatures howling in anger and agony. She buried her face in the nearest shoulder, but not before she caught a glimpse of Dwalin, Bifur, Fíli and Sasha leaping at the creatures.

The warg and orc’s agonizing death noises, and the hacks of blades and axes into flesh infiltrated Sona’s ears, and she buried her face even tighter into the broad, fur covered shoulder she was currently clinging to.

Just breathe, she ordered herself. In through your nose. Out through your mouth.

Om Namah Shivaya. She breathed in, inhaling the thick scent of pine and tobacco.

Om Namah Shivaya. She breathed out. It’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to fall apart and freak out right now.

Om Namah Shivaya. She breathed in again, this time smelling wood smoke and… cardamom.

Thorin.

Of course it was Thorin she’d grabbed onto. Of course.

An arm hesitantly came up around her back, and she felt the light touch of a hand rest on her waist as he pulled her comfortingly closer to his solid mass.

Move! Run!” Gandalf bellowed, and suddenly Thorin’s arm was gone. But before she could lament its absence he took hold of her wrist and began pulling her along as they raced across the plains.

            “There they are!” Gloin pointed behind them, and Sona refused to look. Instead, she focused on Thorin’s dark hair waving before her as they ran and ignored the burning in her legs and chest. She’d caught a glimpse of the orc the others had killed and took back her previous “I don’t care if they catch me I just want to stop running” thought.

“This way! Quickly!”

Shut up, Gandalf. We know they are coming! Sona, felt herself flag just as Thorin’s grip tightened on her arm, and her panic eased a little.

He won’t let me go.

“There's more coming!” Kíli was ahead of them and already nocking an arrow and aiming.

“Kíli!” Thorin came to an abrupt halt and Sona ran smack into his back. “Shoot them!” He held out his free arm to steady her, and she gratefully hung onto it.

“Gandalf?” She watched as he ran toward a large, rocky outcropping.

“We’re surrounded!” Fíli yelled from across the clearing, Sasha by his side. “Where’s Gandalf?”

He's abandoned us!” Dwalin’s thick brogue came from behind Sona as he hefted his axe, turned, and nearly backed into her.

“No!” Sona called from between her dwarf sandwich—she knew she would find it amusing later—but right now she was too terrified. “He’s just over—

“Hold your ground!” Thorin pushed Sona further behind him as she struggled to point out where Gandalf had gone.

And suddenly the wizard was there, waving from the rocks. “This way, you fools!”

“Move on! Quickly! All of you!” Thorin dragged Sona with him again as she struggled to keep up with his powerful strides. Dwalin’s footfalls were heavy behind them as he maintained his rear guard position.

They reached the rocks and Sona quickly discovered there was a tunnel down below them. Thorin released her arm and gave a her a light shove toward the opening just as he turned back.

“Fíli! Kíli! Come now!”

About to jump, Sona paused at the edge of the tunnel. “Wait… where’s Sasha?”

She whirled, scanning the clearing. Orcs where everywhere and amidst the melee Fíli and Kíli were oblivious to their uncle’s call. Kíli was fully engrossed, taking out as many orcs as he could with his arrows—

“Kíli! Fíli!” Thorin shouted again, anger and urgency heating his voice.

Sona’s own sense of urgency rose with Thorin’s as she searched the field for Sasha.

There!

“SASHA!”

The lab looked up from her place next to Fíli just as a warg leapt at them. Before Sona could see what happened, Dwalin scooped her into his arms and jumped into the darkness.


A/N

Holy smokes – you guys are awesome! So many kudos on my last chapter… guess you like your SoRin moments. ;-) Hope you enjoyed the couple this chapter had.

Please LMK if you enjoyed this chapter, and see you this THORINSday!

Chapter Text


 

The time for sleep is now

It's nothing to cry about

'Cause we'll hold each other soon

In the blackest of rooms…

…Then I will follow you into the dark

            -Death Cab for Cutie


 

“Put me down!” Sona beat her fists against Dwalin’s shoulder. “Put me down now!” Safely at the bottom of the tunnel, she struggled against his iron hold, wriggling around for all she was worth as he frowned at her. “Sasha! SASHA!”

            She heard Thorin hollering once more for Kíli just as Fíli and Sasha slid down the tunnel. Fíli reached down and rubbed the lab behind her ears as he gushed over how wonderful she’d been in battle.

Dwalin finally set Sona down and she hurled herself at Sasha. She pulled the brown dog into her arms, ignoring the black blood that was splattered all over the lab. Hot tears streaked down her face as she squeezed Sasha in tight to her body, nearly shaking with relief that she was okay. The lab tried to lick away Sona’s tears, giving a keening whine all the while, and she found herself smiling at the dog’s clear affection. Sasha always did know how to make her feel better.

            Through all this Sona registered Kíli's presence, hearing him boast a number of kills with his well-placed arrows. Thorin was there too, grumbling something unintelligible in reply, his low baritone voice sounding relieved, before he asked if anyone was wounded. All the dwarves were safely at the bottom of the tunnel, and yet, the clang of battle—along with an elegant sounding horn—was still ongoing overhead.

            She was suddenly jerked aside by Bifur as an orc tumbled down the shaft and landed at their feet. Sasha interposed herself between the foul creature and Sona, snarling loudly, but the orc was dead.

Thorin leaned over the corpse, his body stiffened with evident distaste, and yanked out a graceful yet deadly arrow. "Elves," he spat. Recognition and disgust scrunched his regal features as he flung the weapon onto the ground. 

Gandalf looked on with smugness, obviously not in the least surprised by the source of the arrow or Thorin's dour response.

Sona's heart soared with excitement at the mention of elves, but before she could process this further, Dwalin called from farther down the path.

“I cannot see where the pathway leads. Do we follow it or not?”

“We follow it, of course!” Bofur wasted no time in taking after the hulking dwarf.

I think that would be wise,” Gandalf murmured, though only loud enough for Sona to hear. She clung to Sasha’s collar, afraid to let the dog from her sight after the scare with the orcs, and found she was still shaking. Whether from adrenaline or fear, Sona didn’t know.

As the dwarves moved out ahead of her, Sona used those few moments to attempt to compose herself. She knelt before Sasha so she was at the dog’s eye level and reached out a hand to scratch behind her ears. “Please don’t scare me like that again, girl.”

Sasha canted her head to the side and stared guilelessly at Sona, as if to say “Me, do something to scare you? Nahhhhh…”

“I’m serious.” Sona pressed her forehead to the dog’s and whispered, “I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re all I have left of—”

“Are you coming?” Thorin asked. His voice, usually so commanding and authoritative even when spoken low, was surprisingly gentle and almost welcoming.

“Yes. In a moment.” Sona scrubbed at the traitorous tears still leaking from her eyes and didn’t turn around. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this, much less him. She didn’t know why it mattered that he not see her like this, so weak and vulnerable, but it did.

She heard the solid scuffing of his boots against the stone floor and let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. He was leaving.

She didn’t know how she felt about that.

Relieved? Disappointed? Both… It was all just too much to deal with. A fight with Gandalf, no one would listen to her about the end of all things, trolls trying to eat them, running for their lives, orcs and wargs, blood and killing, she’d nearly lost Sasha, and to top it all off she had Sting instead of Bilbo, and… and had been a rather long day and she hadn’t slept and she had no idea what she felt or thought about anything at this point.

She was numb.

She was shaking and yet, she was numb.

Suddenly a familiar square of silver embroidered, blue velvet was before her face. Her gaze traced the lines from his callused fingers up his powerful forearm to his shoulders, and finally to his regal, backlit profile, as he very purposefully kept his head turned away from her.

She pulled the fabric from his grasp and used it to dab at her eyes. “Thank you.”

He nodded, still not looking at her. “We should not linger.”

She noticed a gruff breathlessness to his statement, almost as though he choked it out. She wondered if it was pity, and thought perhaps she should be angry. At least she’d feel something then. But that wasn't quite right, she knew it wasn't pity.

He was actually… moved?

The realization shocked her away from her numbness to the present moment, away from the battle, the blood and the fear, and her shaking stopped.

Thorin took a few steps down the path, but then paused, waiting with his back toward her until he heard her following. 


 

            Spread out before Sona was a sight she would have recognized anywhere. There was no mistaking the sweeping buildings interspersed with waterfalls throughout on the other side of the valley.

            “Rivendell.” The name tumbled from her lips and she could feel a smile as goofy as Sasha’s form on her face.

            Gandalf gave her a sidelong look and nodded. “Indeed, it is the Valley of Imladris.” He indicated the structures across from them. “Here lies the last homely house, east of the sea.”

            The dwarves all stared across the valley or at each other in confusion or disgust while Thorin whirled on Gandalf.

“This was your plan all along, to seek refuge with our enemy.” The customary brooding scowl resettled over Thorin’s features, only it was no longer as… intense? Fierce? Weighty? Sona couldn’t think of the proper way to describe it other than…

He’s such a grump-muffin sometimes. She then had to stifle an inopportune giggle over that thought, her sleep-deprived mind doing her no favors.

“You have no enemies here, Thorin Oakenshield. The only ill-will to be found in this valley is that which you bring yourself.”

“You think the Elves will give our quest their blessing? They will try to stop us.”

Sona stepped away from Gandalf’s side, not wanting to get involved in what was sure to be another argument between these two grumps. She’d learned her lesson the last time. This quest of theirs was none of her business, and as far as she was concerned her journey was over, and she desperately wanted a bath, and if anyone could get her back to her world, Lord Elrond could. The magic was so thick in the air here she could practically feel it tingling on her skin.

Plus, ELVES!

Gandalf seemed to have convinced Thorin of the necessity of things (or at least to allow him to do all the talking). Knowing she had no other path she could take, Sona scooped up her pack from where Dwalin had set it down, whistled for Sasha, and proceeded down the trail, feeling a welcomed excitement for her predicament for the first time since arriving in Arda.


 

A/N

Holy SMOKES y’all are awesome! So many comments on that last update *blows kisses*

Hope y’all enjoyed your Sorin moment in this chappie. LMK what you think!

Rivendell… and possibly a bath is next!

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

Chapter Text

A/N: WELCOME TO SONA SUNDAY!

At last we are in Rivendell! Now Sona finally gets to meet the elves she’s been dreaming about for years and years, and it’s gonna be so awesome!


 

Dear lord, when I get to heaven

Please let me bring my man

When he comes tell me that you'll let him in

Father tell me if you can

Oh that grace, oh that body

Oh that face makes me wanna party

He's my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds

Young and Beautiful, Lana Del Rey


 

Sona lingered at the end of the bridge, slowly turning around, her jaw dropped in wonder at the ethereal majesty surrounding her. Sweeping, graceful walls and windows and stairways that all seemed to organically flow with the sides of the valley, surrounded her. The light tinkling of waterfalls playing in the background providing a soundtrack better than anything Howard Shore had ever composed—and that was saying something… she positively loved every bit of the LotR music he’d done.

She stopped spinning and met Gandalf’s gaze. The wizard’s blue eyes were twinkling with amusement over her reaction, and he gave her an indulgent smile, which she couldn’t help returning.

And so it was that when he stepped forward out of her line of sight, she had a broad smile on her face and eyes bright with wonder at the beauty around her, that Thorin was there, staring right back at her.

His eyes were wary, his mouth a tight, drawn line, and as their eyes met, and she felt the full force of his electric blue gaze on her, she wondered how she could have ever thought her surroundings were majestic. Graceful and beautiful, yes. But not majestic.

Thorin blinked, his eyes sharpened, his brows furrowing slightly, as though he were deciphering the words of a foreign text. She saw anger there, but seemingly not directed at her, though his eyes were unwavering. He slowly blinked again and looked away, toward Gandalf and a man he was greeting.

No, not a man… an elf! Sona took him in from the hem of his robes to his gold wrought circlet. And even if she hadn’t seen his pointed ears, there was no mistaking his ethereal grace and beauty for anything but an elf.

He’s almost too pretty. Sona blinked, surprised at the thought. Since when had she ever thought elves too pretty? She loved elves, they were her favorite!

And yet… she found her gaze drawn to the back of a mane of dark, wavy hair as Thorin leaned over and whispered something to Dwalin. The bald dwarf’s eyes flashed toward her before darting back to Thorin.  

The elf and Gandalf continued to carry on a conversation that Sona could not understand, though the strains of it that she could hear had the cadence and musical sound of Sindarin.

Goodness, even their language is too pretty!

Just then the same elegant horn she’d heard outside the orc tunnel blared, and Thorin bellowed something in the language the dwarves sometimes used, moving quickly as a motioned a circle with his left hand, followed by “Close ranks!

Sona whipped her head around to the sound of the clip clopping of horseshoes on stone, but was jerked back and found herself once again pressed between dwarves.

“Whoa, guys, calm down…”

“Calm ourselves ya say?” Bofur called loud enough for her to hear “They're horsed and bearing down on us, lass, an we'll be ready for 'em.”

She struggled to get out from the midst of the press, but Dwalin only growled, muttering “guys” under his breath, and shoved her back farther as a line of mounted and fully armed elves on horseback circled them. Sona sought out Sasha, for surely the lab would be losing her mind with worry over her…

But no, the dog was sitting patiently next to the elf that had first greeted them, tongue lolling out to the side as she took in their new companions with curiosity and excitement.

            The horses finally stopped circling, and Sona finally stopped struggling to get free when Lord Elrond himself—there was certainly no mistaking him—stopped before them and greeted Gandalf with a hand to his chest and a slight bow. The wizard returned the gesture, and they were off in Sindarin again. Though Sona was fairly certain she recognized a word or two this time.

            Well, perhaps only one, mellon-nin, but hey, it was something!

            Elrond leapt gracefully from the back of his horse, and Sona shoved forward to get a better look at him, despite the sudden jump in wariness and distrust coming in waves off the press of dwarves around her. The elf lord embraced the gray wizard, and then pulled back, holding aloft an orc weapon.

            “Strange for orcs to come so close to our borders.” He passed it off to the elf who had greeted them, and then turned back to Gandalf, seemingly completely at ease with a group of dwarves at his front door and orcs at his boarders. “Something or someone has drawn them near.”

            Thorin took this moment to press forward. Something beyond anger colored his cheeks slightly.

            Gandalf raised a bushy eyebrow, and gave his elf friend an overly dramatic, chagrinned look. Ah, that may have been us.”

            Sona narrowed her eyes. “He’s laying it on thick,” she muttered. She thought she’d been quiet enough that no one could hear her, but she saw both Thorin and Elrond’s eyes quickly dart her way, and then back toward each other. For the briefest of seconds, Thorin broke eye contact with Elrond, eyes glancing over Dwalin and back to her, before he returned his attention to the elf. At the gesture, Dwalin moved to tuck her further behind him. With the slightest of nods, Thorin detached himself from the group and angled closer to Elrond.

“Welcome Thorin, son of Thrain.” Elrond’s voice rolled with the smooth cadence of the elves.

“I do not believe we have met.” Thorin was not exactly rude, though he was not exactly polite either. He was… cautiously neutral, Sona decided.

“You have your Grandfather's bearing.” Elrond nodded. “I knew Thror when he ruled under the mountain.”

Sona stifled a gasp. She knew elves were immortal, that Elrond was thousands of years old, yet still the way he so casually spoke of knowing Thorin’s grandfather from so long a time ago. Her eyes darted to Thorin, where she saw no change except for the whites of his knuckles showing all the more against the wood of his ax.

“Indeed? He made no mention of you.”

Sona let out a groan and buried her head in her hands. Why does he have to get so defensive about everything? Can’t he see there’s no threat here?

Elrond’s gaze never strayed from Thorin as he canted his head back toward Gandalf and began addressing him in Sindarin again.

Great, Sona thought, the grump muffin’s gone and gotten us banned from Rivendell with his passive aggressive rudeness.

It seemed Gloin thought along the same lines, though had a different reaction. “What is he saying? Does he offer us insult?” he growled, his voice rising on each word. The other dwarves yelled their outrage, and Gandalf shouted over them.

“No, Master Gloin, he's offering you food.”

The dwarves shared a simultaneous gasp of surprise and immediately turned to each other in small groups to discuss this turn of events. Dwalin relaxed his stance and stepped to Thorin's side, and Sona could not help noticing the fall of Thorin's hair as their heads bent together in a private word she could not understand. Thorin nodded, Dwalin produced a dry-faced grin, or grimace, Sona couldn't tell which. She took this opportunity to slip out from the center of them all and made her way over to Sasha, who still sat calmly next to the first Elf's side.

The brunette elf gave her a curious, sidelong look, followed the briefest of smiles. Encouraged, Sona held out her hand. “Hi. I’m Sona.”

The elf looked at her hand as if unsure of what to do with it, and then raised his own hand to his chest and inclined his head. “Lindir, my lady.”

Sona felt her cheeks flush as she lowered her hand to Sasha’s collar. “Oh, it’s just Sona. Not lady Sona or lady anything. Just Sona. Well, I mean I do have a middle name and a last name, but you can just call me Sona…” She trailed off realizing she was rambling and felt her face burn even hotter as Lindir kindly gazed at her.

Stupid elves with their stupid pretty perfect faces and manners and—

“My lady, your party has decided to stay.” Lindir indicated the line of dwarves following Gandalf up the stairs, led by non other than Gloin, who seemed quite excited for a hot meal. The elf offered her his arm and indicated the stairs. “I would be happy to escort you to your room so you may freshen up before the meal.”

“That won’t be necessary, lad.” Dwalin hefted Sona’s pack from her back, and Fíli disentangled her hands from Sasha’s collar and led the dog away with him. Sona felt strong fingers grasp her elbow and looking down she saw Kíli bowing. “At your service.” He then looped his arm with hers and tugged her up the stairs behind him before flashing her a cheeky grin. “My lady.”

She turned her head and gave Lindir what she hoped was an appropriately apologetic shrug, though the smile on her face over Kíli’s antics likely ruined it.

It was only once they started climbing the stairs that Sona noticed Thorin was at the top and had watched the whole encounter. Their eyes met and his gaze was once again, inscrutable.

 And yet, for a moment, Sona could have sworn she detected a hint of a smile.


 

A/N

LOL, poor Lindir. NO YOU DO NOT GET TO HANG OUT WITH SONA. She’s spoken for by the Durîns. ;-)

As always, thank you all for the follows, comments, and kudos! And most especially thank you to YM, the BESTEST BETA EVER!

See you next THORINSday - wherein SONA GETS A BATH. 

Chapter Text

A/N: Happy ThorinsDay! 

And now... Sona finally gets a bath!


 

You want the world to be fair

But you want to dictate my rules

You've got a bad, bad attitude

            - Unsteady


 

            “I don’t understand why Sona can’t just stay with us.” Kíli frowned up at the male elf before them. “She’s been kipping with us this entire time.” He stepped closer to the elf and narrowed his eyes. “How do we know you won’t try to—”

            “It’s fine, Kíli, really.” Sona stepped between them, ignoring the grumble and sour look Dwalin shot her. “Besides, it’d be nice to get a hot bath and change into something I haven’t been wearing for weeks. We all smell pretty ripe.” And I’d like to sleep without a choir of snores for once.

Kíli looked up at her as if he’d been betrayed, and Fíli sniffed at his shoulder and then looked at his brother with a shrug as if to say “I don’t smell anything.”

But Kíli was not to be deterred. “Yes, but it’s not proper is it? Him helping you and—”

“I was just to see the Lady Sona to her room, nothing more, Master Dwarf,” the elf smoothly interrupted. He canted his head gracefully toward the door to the bedroom, sending a curtain of silky brown hair over his shoulders. “An elleth will be by momentarily to assist her.”

Kíli’s frown deepened, reminding Sona of a certain Grump Muffin, but she was not about to continue the argument. She was hungry, she was tired, and she stank. This made for a combination of grouchy Sona. Or as David used to call her, hangry Sona. She raised a hand forestalling the dwarf’s next words. “This is ridiculous. I am a grown woman and do not need anyone’s assistance or approval.” She shot Kíli a pointed look. “Besides, as your uncle has made abundantly clear, I’m not a part of your Company, so why you’re all acting like the elves are trying kidnap me or something, I don’t know.” She hefted her pack from Dwalin’s feet. “I mean, it’s not like I’m continuing on with you guys from here anyways.” That realization made her stomach lurch, and the way both brothers’ faces fell made her feel like a jerk for saying it. She gentled her voice, and rested a hand on Kíli’s shoulder. “Oh come on, don’t look at me like that. You knew I wasn’t sticking around.” She could feel Dwalin’s eyes boring into her, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to handle the hard look he was sure to be giving her.

She pushed open the door to her room and whistled for Sasha, who slowly walked in, head and tail limp. “Don’t you dare be mad at me too,” she muttered. “It’s not like any of this was my idea.”

All she wanted was a bath and clean clothes and five minutes to herself before their meal. Was that too much to ask?

And yet…

She turned around to tell the dwarves… well she wasn’t sure what she was going to tell them, but found they, along with the elf, were already gone.


 

She leaned back against the copper tub practically singing with relief over finally being clean. The small-attached bathing room had both an antique and modern look to it. First world plumbing coupled with ancient elven elegance should have been jarring except that it wasn’t. Lavender scented (her fave!) hair and skin care products had been set out and waiting for her and she reveled in the simple pleasure of being clean.

Sasha peeped her head over the edge of the tub and whined, giving Sona a slow wag of her tail. She chuckled. The lab did love to play in the water. “Not right now, girl, just give me a few more minutes. I don’t know when I’ll get to do this again.”

But then she realized she could likely do this again as often as she’d like since she’d be going home shortly, once Lord Elrond sorted this entire crazy situation out.

And surprisingly the thought did not make her smile. She remembered the looks of betrayal on the brothers’ faces, and how even Dwalin seemed unhappy over her leaving. Well, unhappier than he usually was. Uncle Cranky-pants, that one.

“But I honestly don’t know why they would think that.” She looked at the dog and frowned. “I mean, they knew I wasn’t traveling with them. Thorin had to have told them… right?”

She remembered Thorin's smile at the top of the stairs. Was it a smile? For her? And was she a pre-teen, aflutter every time he glanced her way? Why was she fixated on every aspect of his expression, trying to figure him out? He didn't care; she shouldn't either. And they all had to know, after how things began, there was no way she'd be staying on.

Sasha twitched an ear, and then blew out a breath, fluttering her whiskers.

“Sometimes I wish you could talk, girl.” Sona patted her lightly on the head. “I guess I should get out; I’m getting all pruney.” She stood up (barely in time avoid Sasha leaping into the tub) and wrapped herself in a soft linen towel. “And I suppose I owe the boys an apology.” Though for what, she didn’t know.

A soft knock sounded at the door to her bedroom, interrupting her thoughts.

“Come in!” Sona called as she shooed a soaking wet Sasha out of her way (that dog never could resist a knock at the door). She bent over and wrapped another towel around her wet hair and heard the door open and close. From her inverted position she could just see ivory silk slippers peeping out from under the hem of a beautifully embroidered lavender dress. “Oh, hi! You must be the elleth that was supposed to come by and help me dress.” She straightened and turned to face her companion. “But it’s okay I don’t need… holycrapyou’reArwen!”


 

A/N

Soooooo, will Arwen loan Sona one of her dresses and then later they’ll become BFF? IDK, I guess we shall have to wait and see… ;)

As always, thank you for all the thoughtful comments and reviews. You guys sure do know how to make a writer feel appreciated and want to write more more more!

See you on Sona Sunday!

Chapter Text

A/N: As always, thanks for the comments and kudos. Y'all are the best!


 

I am, I’m too fabulous

I’m so fierce that it’s so nuts…

…Dress me, I’m your mannequin

            -Fashion, Lady Gaga


 

            The elleth before her merely quirked an elegant eyebrow and twitched the corners of her mouth as if fighting a smile.

            “Mithrandir said you were special.” She inclined her head gently and loose chestnut waves of hair rippled over her shoulders. “Yes, I am Arwen—”

“Arwen Undómiel, half-elven daughter of Elrond and Celebrían, granddaughter of the Lady Galadriel, guardian of Lothlorien, keeper of Nenya, and I’m sorry, I’m rambling, it’s just that it’s you, it’s really you, and I’ll just shut up now.” Sona pressed her mouth firmly closed while Arwen’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline, and a gentle smile crept across her face.

“And you are the Lady Sona, companion of Thorin Oakenshield and his company, and friend to Gandalf the Grey.”

“Uh, well…”

The elf walked passed her and set down an armful of what appeared to be dresses on the bed. Clutching at her towel, still feeling embarrassed by her previous outburst, Sona’s eyes widened as she looked from Arwen to the dresses, then back to the elleth.

Arwen then bent over to pat a soaked Sasha on the head, and the lab immediately rolled onto her back, displaying her belly. “And you must be Sasha.”

Sona’s jaw hung open. Sasha had only ever done that for David, and well, herself, eventually, but not after a long while of trust building between the two of them.

Arwen straightened and turned back to Sona, the gentle smile still on her face. “Would you like to choose a dress?”

“Are you serious?” Sona nearly dropped her towel in her haste to rush over. She positively loved Arwen’s dresses, and had even made her mourning gown for Comic Con back when she and David where still in college.

“Yes… I would not have offered if I was not.” Arwen’s brows furrowed together as though she were confused.

“Sorry, that’s not what I meant, it’s just… wow. WOW.” Talk about a dream come true.

Sona let her fingers drift over the top of several dresses, all of varying styles, colors, and fabric combinations. Some had very heavy embroidery; others had very little embellishment at all. She paused at the second to last dress on the bed. It was a simple silk dress, royal blue in color along the body, and lower draping sleeves that hung off the tight fitted gold-capped sleeves. The thick, woven gold fabric of the upper sleeves continued onto the sweeping broad, squared off yoke of the neckline. The neck and upper sleeves were lightly embroidered with golden beads and glinting gold thread.

She carefully picked the dress up and held it against her body and twirled, smiling all the while. This cannot be real!

“That dress becomes you.” Arwen’s smile broadened, eyes shining with some secret awareness Sona was starting to find common among elves. “The blue sets off your amber eyes, and the gold compliments the dark honey highlights in your hair.” Arwen picked up a matching blue velvet sleeveless jumper, and held it out to Sona. “And this goes atop it all.

Sona eyed the overdress warily. It seemed rather long, and Arwen was considerably taller than her already, and if she remembered correctly, she knew the elleth had a penchant for trains and dragging dresses. How she got around without tripping everywhere, Sona had no idea.

“Mmmm, probably not the best idea. I’d die on the first set of stairs I encountered.” She fingered the long, straight columns of blue, sheer silk hanging off the gold capped sleeves and bit her lower lip. “For that matter, I’ll trip on these too. Better stick with my own clothes.” She set the dress back on the bed. “But thank you for your generous…what are you doing?”

For the elf had immediately scooped the dress back up, and whipped out a pair of tiny silver scissors from who knew where and was rapidly snipping at the threads connecting the gauzy blue lower sleeves to the thick gold upper sleeves.

“I’ve had this dress for ages…”

Sona wondered if she meant that literally.

“…and haven’t worn it in centuries…”

Yep, she definitely meant it literally. Sona also then wondered how in the world the fabric was still in one piece and hadn’t shattered with time. Must be elf magic.

“…and it would be good for it to finally be put to use again.” Sleeves removed, Arwen held it up for Sona to inspect, and Sona nodded. That would do nicely. Though she stared at the yards of silk rectangles piled on the floor ruefully. Such a lovely royal blue, and the thick gold band along the edges had set the dress’s neckline off perfectly before. It seemed like such a shame to waste it…

Then a smile crossed Sona’s face as an idea hit her.

“How much time do I have before dinner?”

“They are gathering even now, but my father likely won’t sit to dine for three quarters of an hour yet, as he has a few things to attend to.”

Sona worried her lower lip, thinking. If she hurried, she just might have time.

“Do you have a needle and thread I can borrow?”

“Yes, just in the top right drawer there.” Arwen canted her head toward a richly carved dresser along one wall. “You have time.” A sparkle now visible in her gray eyes, and Sona was reminded once again, of just who her grandmother was, and certain mind reading abilities these ladies were purported to have. “I’ll be back to escort you to the dining hall when you’re ready.”


 

A/N

Two chapters in a row with no Thorin, GAH! Don’t worry though, he’s in the next one and you’ll get plenty of Sorin time. :-)

But also, YAY Arwen! Middle Earth needs some more ladies, FOR SURE.

Lastly, JSYK, I just finished writing the last chapter of Part 1 (this story will be broken in 3 parts, like the film, but they will all be posted here). My wonderful Beta will be coming back from vacation next week and will be able to get back to editing & so more frequent posts should resume in about a week or two.

In the meantime, see you next ThorinsDay!

Chapter Text


Miss independent . Miss self-sufficient. Miss keep your distance

Miss unafraid . Miss out of my way. Miss don't let a man interfere, no

Miss on her own. Miss almost grown. Miss never let a man help her off her throne

So, by keeping her heart protected . She'd never ever feel rejected. Little miss apprehensive

Said ooh, she fell in love.

            - Kelly Clarkson


 

Try it. Just a mouthful.”

I don't like green food.”

Sona could hear Dori attempting to convince Ori to try the food and Dwalin loudly complaining about the lack of meat.

She took a deep breath before stepping into the dining hall.

Om Namah Shivaya.

While Arwen had positively beamed when she saw what Sona had done with her old dress, a part of Sona worried everyone else may not be as enthusiastic over her current appearance.

Om Namah Shivaya.

She let the breath out.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Who cares what any one else thinks? I look great, and I feel a bit like me again. She straightened her back, held her chin high and swept into the room with all the regal bearing of an Indian princess, complete with a nivi draped sari.

Well, as best as she could manage with what she’d had to work with.

Given that the sleeves, though quite voluminous and long when sewn together, did not give her all the yards she needed to do a proper drape—not to mention she was wearing a dress beneath the sari, not a petticoat and cropped blouse—she’d had to get creative with the front pleating and some safety pins she had stowed in her pack. David had always teased her for bringing them along, but they came in handy.

She’d left her hair down and let it hang in loose curls, settling just above her waist. Along with a mascara, a hint of blush, and rosy hued lipstick, she’d placed a red bindi between her eyebrows (which needed some serious tweezing, but she’d attack them later). Apart from the small gold stud in her nose and stamped gold band on her pinky, she wore no other jewelry or ornamentation. To be honest she felt a little underdressed for the occasion…especially after meeting so many elegant elleths. Her confidence wavered momentarily as she gazed out on the immaculate elves serving dishes to the grumbling dwarves, and one absolutely stunning elleth playing a lovely tune on a harp that made Sona’s finger’s itch to pick up a guitar.

Just then Gandalf and Elrond swept by, with the wizard remarking how he was not dressed for dinner, and the elf quipping, “Well, you never are.”

Sona immediately felt more certain of herself, and made as if to walk to join the dwarves at their table, when—

“Will you join us.”

Startled, Sona spun, sending the end of her sari swishing out across the marble floor until it fluttered back down against her.

Thorin stood before her, a hand extended out, and the hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. It seemed her appearance amused him.

“Yes, thank you. That would be lovely.” Sona wondered where all her sudden formality had come from. Her mother would be so proud to see her right now as she gently placed her fingers in his hand and allowed him to guide her toward the high table.

Thorin gave her a sidelong glance. “I almost did not recognize you.”

“Oh…” She blushed, unsure of how to take his statement. “I’m not as tall as Arwen, so I had to modify things a bit to make her dress work, and well…”

They were nearly at the table now and Thorin pitched his voice low so only she could hear. “It suits you.”


 

            “This is Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver.” Lord Elrond examined Thorin’s sword with an appraising eye. “A famous blade, forged by the High Elves of the West. My kin.”

Sona watched from her seat across from the elf lord as he slid the sword back into its sheathe and passed it to Thorin. “May it serve you well.”

Her fork wavered in the air, her salad forgotten. From what she could tell, the sword meant a great deal to Elrond, though he was not overt with his emotions. And yet, he’d just given it to Thorin, despite the dwarf lord’s cool demeanor toward him. She was relieved to see Thorin at least had the graciousness to nod after giving the sword an appraising once-over, despite his reservations toward the elf. She supposed given his history with elves this was the best she could expect from the proud dwarf.

On the whole, despite the tension exuding from her dwarf companion (he kept his eyes on his plate a lot, seemingly lost in thought, and his over all body language was tight and coiled as if ready to spring), and how chivalrous he’d been to her when she arrived (she still didn’t know what to make of that), dinner had been delightful. The food was exactly to her taste so far as it was fully vegetarian (though she would have preferred some more spices to it, and a nice curry), the music was soothing, and when she looked over her shoulder, the antics from the dwarves behind her amused her to no end. She even caught Kíli making eyes at both an elf and an elleth (with Dwalin looking on quite perturbed by it all) and filed that information away for later.

“…this is Glamdring.”

Elrond’s melodious voice caught Sona’s attention and she immediately returned to the conversation, words tumbling from her mouth before she could stop them.

“Glamdring, the Foe-hammer, sword of the King of Gondolin. Made for the Goblin wars of the First...” Her words trailed off and she felt her cheeks flush as four sets of eyes stared at her.

Gandalf, with undisguised amusement and a wry chuckle.

Elrond, with a quirked eyebrow, and an otherwise neutral expression on his face.

Lindir—who was hovering behind his lord—mouth open in shock.

And Thorin, who kept his face just as carefully neutral as Elrond, but whose eyes seemed to sparkle and definitely crinkled at the corners with what Sona could only guess what either his amusement at her inability to control her constant word vomit at inopportune times, or the fact that she managed to surprise the elves. Perhaps both.

Sona shoved the fork in her mouth and stared down at her plate, robotically chewing and vowing not to say another word for the rest of the meal.

Awkwardness seemingly passed, Elrond turned to Gandalf. “How did you come by these?”

“We found them in a troll hoard on the Great East road, shortly before we were ambushed by orcs.”

Elrond’s eyebrow show upward again, perfectly framed by his gold wrought circlet. “And what were you doing on the Great East road?”

Sona’s fingers jerked as she reached for her wine glass and sent it tumbling over. Both she and Thorin jumped to their feet (though he was much quicker, as if avoiding an attacking foe), narrowly avoiding the red wine.

“Oh my gosh I’m so sorry, did I get you?” She leaned toward him, napkin in hand.

“No. I am untouched.” He gave her a quick once over with his eyes, and Sona felt her breath catch at the softness she thought she detected in them. “Are you?”

She hastily looked down at her dress and saw that a few drops of red clung to the four inches of gold trim on her sari’s hem. “Crap!” she hissed as she dabbed at the fabric with her napkin, trying to blot it. “I don’t suppose I can get access to some boiling water, salt, and vinegar?” She looked ruefully over at Elrond. “I’m afraid I may have stained your daughter’s dress.”

The elf lord smiled kindly, and indicated that she should take a seat. “Arwen told me she gave you the dress.” He held up a hand, forestalling further comment from Sona. “This is certainly not the first time something has been spilled on it. We will set it to rights later.”

Sona returned to her chair and sat gingerly down, still feeling as if she should do something before the stain set, but trusted that Elrond knew what he was talking about. She did not fail to notice that Thorin did not sit back down until she did.

Mom would like him. Or at least his manners.  She felt her eyes widened at the thought and stared intently at her plate, afraid to look over at the dwarf. Where did that come from?

“…tells me you are from the west, though you have the look of someone from the east.”

Sona blinked and focused on Elrond, realizing he was talking to her. “Er… yes. Well…” she realized Lindir was still hovering, and paused, considering her next words. “…perhaps I can tell you the full story later? But, I’m not an Easterling if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not really from around here at all.”

Elrond gave her a small smile. “I did not for a moment think you were an Easterling. Or from Arda.”

Sona’s mouth open and closed as she searched for how to respond.

“Your manner of dress is quite different, but more than that, so is your bearing.” He sipped his wine, and Sona’s eyes darted from Gandalf—no help in that quarter—to Thorin, who’d just set his own glass down.

His eyes had tightened around the edges, and seeming to understand her discomfort, or perhaps just simply curious himself, Thorin asked, “Your style of dress… is it common to your people?”

“Oh, you mean my sari?” She looked down at the blue fabric wrapped around her. “Yes, and no. Where I’m from is actually a melting pot of culture and dress and manners. I’m Indian, and this is common dress for women… well, kind of. It’s not exactly right, and depending on the formality of the event I would wear a lot more jewelry, maybe some henna, but yes, this is, a decent approximation.”

“Can somebody change the tune?” Nori’s voice burst from behind.

“Oy, Sona!”

She turned to see Bofur on his feet, smiling, as his hat bounced. “You promised to play us a song!”

“Yes, well—”

“Yeah!” Kíli chimed in, either no longer upset with Sona from her previous comments about leaving, or he was hiding it well. “What about us? You owe us a jig.”

“Okay, but I don’t think—”

“You’ll play for trolls but not for us?” Dwalin grumbled.

Sona’s face burned. How could she explain to the dwarves that they were being incredibly rude by interrupting the current musicians’ performance, and not just that, were making it worse by also suggesting that she play instead.

“I left my guitar in my room.” She hoped that would be the end of it.

“Surely they have a spare you can borrow.”

Sona narrowed her eyes and looked back at her table, glaring at the faint smirk on her betrayer’s face.

Thorin. Of course it was Thorin.


A/N

Oh Thorin, you little shit. 

:D

Chapter Text

Happy Sona Sunday, y'all!


 

So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways,

All my underdogs, we will never be never be anything but loud,

"Maybe gritty dirty little freaks"

Won't you come on and come on and raise your glass

            -P!nk


 

            “Yes, absolutely we do.” Elrond nodded toward Lindir, who was already departing to, Sona assumed, get the promised guitar.

            “No, it’s okay, I’m really enjoying the current selection being played…” Sona trailed off with a wince, realizing the music had long since ceased.

            “There is no requirement for you to play, of course.” Elrond took a sip of his wine, ignoring the grumbling from the dwarves at his statement. “But if you wouldn’t mind, I believe we would all love to hear a song of your people.”

            “Aye! Something from Kaly-for-nee-aah!”

            That was definitely Fíli.

            “Oh…” Sona’s mouth formed a perfect “O” shape as she considered and immediately discarded her options. While California Girls by The Beach Boys was always a crowd pleaser, she didn’t know if they’d fully appreciate or completely get the content here. Hotel California was another good one, though perhaps too long, and the tone too somber; she wasn’t trying to put trolls to sleep. Nearing a panic, now that Lindir had returned with a stunning cherry wood bowl cut guitar, she banished ridiculous images of performing Katy Perry’s California Gurls with Gandalf singing Snoop Dogg’s part, and tried to focus.

            She took her time walking to the stool the harpist had occupied and mouthed a quick “I’m sorry” to the elleth. She seemed completely unperturbed by being abruptly ended, and gave Sona a gracious nod as she moved to the side.

            It wasn’t until Sona sat down and positioned the guitar in her lap that the perfect song came to her, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

            She formed a G chord and gave the guitar a quick strum. It was in tune, perfectly of course.

            Then, taking a deep breath, Sona played the opening chord repetition and opened her mouth and sang, “Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side…”

            She channeled her beloved Kermit the Frog from her childhood and sang the very first song she ever learned how to play on a guitar when she was just seven years old.

            As she slipped into singing about someday finding the rainbow connection she felt comfort, familiarity, and warmth wash over her. Not just from the classic song, but from the reactions from every person in the room.

            The elves all listened with charmed smiles on their faces. She’d seen that look before—though not since she was a child. They were indulging her, and she knew it, though she could also tell they enjoyed the tune and lyrics, even if it was a bit simple for their tastes.

            Gandalf, as always, had a soft smile on his face, as if every new thing she did delighted him. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

            And then there were the dwarves. All of them, every last one at their table, had dreamy looks in their eyes—even Dwalin—and stared at her rapturously as she sang about wishing upon a morning star. Bombur sighed wistfully, and Nori perched with his face in his hands like a child.

            And Thorin, well, she tried not to look there because she nearly lost her composure, something that never happened when she performed. She was a professional; this is what she did for a living for goodness sakes! But those electric blue eyes seemed to sear into her as he listened, one hand rolled into a gentle fist, his cheek leaning against it.

            “…I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it, it’s something I’m supposed to be…”

He lounged back in his chair, and his gaze never wavered as she played on.

            “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

            As she struck the final chord and held the note, she risked a peek up at the dwarf.

            Bad idea.

            Though a bit of wary tightness (likely from being around elves) lingered at the corners of his eyes, a soft smile played across his lips. Sona found herself staring and briefly wondering what it would be like to kiss someone with a beard.

            Her eyes widened and she quickly banished the thought, grateful that he suddenly looked away to take a sip of his wine. She focused on the polite clapping from the elves and loud bellows of approval and rowdy demands for more from the dwarves.

            Flushed and embarrassed by her errant thoughts about a certain Company leader that she had no business thinking about in that way, she did the only thing she could think of:

            “Beer, beer, beer, tidaly, beer…”


 

While it had been no surprise to Sona that the dwarves had liked Irish drinking songs, the fact that the elves did as well had nearly sent her off her stool in shock. No, they hadn’t leapt up and danced on the table and thrown food at each other like the dwarves had, but the elves had clapped along prettily, and one elleth had gone so far as to tap her foot along with Sona’s music.

Sona groaned and rolled over in her bed, punching her pillow into a shape she liked. Sasha whined and Sona gave her a gentle nudge with her toe.

“Quiet, you. Our hosts would probably be horrified if they knew I let you up on the bed.” Sona flopped onto her back, frustrated. She’d been tossing and turning for what felt like an hour. “You’d think after weeks of sleeping on the ground I’d be out like a light now that I’m in a real bed.”

But she was too keyed up.

The dwarves had begged for song after song, and by the time she’d realized Elrond, Thorin, Gandalf, and Balin were leaving, she was midway through her third song, and couldn’t think of a way to contrive going along with them.

She needed to talk to Elrond about getting back to her world, time, dimension, wherever it was she had come from, and get that all settled before Kíli turned his puppy dog eyes on her again. She rolled over onto her stomach and blew out a frustrated sigh.

If she was being honest with herself, the truth of it was, in addition to all the thoughts running through her mind, she missed the snores of the dwarves.

She wondered if Thorin snored.

Stop that!

Sona sat up, and raked her fingers across her scalp. Where was this coming from? She needed to stop thinking about Thorin, and how pleasant he’d been all evening. She’d never denied that he was attractive—a person would have to be blind to miss that—but the fact that her mind had strayed to kissing him… that had been so sudden and out of the blue. They weren’t even friends; she hardly knew him. How could she be thinking of him like that?

“Chemistry. Attraction.” The words popped from her mouth and she felt a weight lift from her shoulders.

Of course, it was just simple attraction. He likely thought nothing more of her than as a mildly entertaining companion for his nephews at best, a nuisance on his quest at worst.

And the truth was she hadn’t so much as kissed anyone in over six months, much less done anything else, and Thorin was definitely magnetic. Something seemed to draw people to him. No wonder she was thinking of him like that.

“Well,” she climbed out of bed realizing sleep was a lost cause for now, “that stops now.” Sona nodded to herself as she pulled on a sheer gold robe over her gossamer blue nightgown. She felt much better now that she was decided and had identified the source of her ridiculous thoughts toward Thorin. Now that she knew where they were coming from—base human needs and desires—she could set them aside and focus on the task at hand: getting back home.  

But first, there was something she needed to take care of.

Digging into her pack, she pulled out David’s urn, and brushed her fingers along his name. “You’d never forgive me if I didn’t leave a bit of you in Rivendell.”


 

A/N:

Sure, Sona. That's all it is... chemistry, basic attraction. Suuuuuuuure...

Thanks for the kudos & comments! I'm so glad you are enjoying the story. 

Chapter Text

 

I'm so tired but I can't sleep

Standin' on the edge of something much too deep

It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word

We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard

            - I Will Remember You, Sarah Mclachlan


 

“Well I left my happy home, to see what I could find out…” Sona sang to herself as she walked along the pathway in the waning light of the mid-summer crescent moon. She’d left Sasha in her room, wanting to be alone with her thoughts.

“I left my folk and friends, with the aim to clear my mind out. Laaa laaa laaaaa…” Sona stopped walking. Her mind was stumbling and she couldn’t piece together any new lyrics to go along with the tune she’d been working on. She hadn’t felt this blocked in years.

She sighed deeply, knowing why.

It wasn’t often these days that thinking of David made her melancholy, but being here, seeing the Valley of Imladris, feeling the light spray of the waterfalls on her face, and smelling the scent of sweet blossoms on the air…

“You would have loved this.” She ran a callused fingertip along his name in a familiar pattern. “You’d be talking poor Lindir’s ear off, and trying out your Sindarin on him, and he’d be too polite to tell you how atrocious your pronunciation was.” She started walking again, passing a marble bench situated between two sliver leafed aspen trees. “Somehow, I think if our situation had been reversed, the last thing you’d be thinking about was going home.” She smiled down at the urn.

Gandalf would have had to pull David kicking and screaming from this place.

As for herself… well, while she found elves and Rivendell to be both lovely and beautiful… she could never live here. The realization had surprised her. For as much as she’d loved the elves—though nowhere near to David’s obsession—she’d thought she’d be in absolute heaven among them.

But… not so much.

They were all polite, and very kind… but too ethereal for her comfort. They were almost otherworldly in that regard. And it couldn’t be just because they were a different race from men… she felt perfectly comfortable with the dwarves, after all. No, it was just something about the elves that didn’t click with her. That was not to say that she didn’t like them—because she did, very much so—just that she did not fit with them at all.

And she was also surprised to find out this didn’t bother her one bit. If anything it seemed to make an odd sort of sense.

No wonder the elves, dwarves, and humans rarely got along in Middle Earth… they were all so very different. Not that it was an excuse for bad relations, just that unless the three races were willing and patient enough to work at it having harmonious relationships, well… it was easier to get offended over nothing, than to try to see something from someone else’s perspective, wasn’t it?

Goodness, humanity in her own time was the worst as far as peaceful coexistence—and they were all at least the same race genetically speaking.

And we still find reasons—something as stupid as skin color or wealth—to categorize and hate each other—

Sona’s thoughts were interrupted by the melodious sounds of a stringed instrument being played.

The harpist from before!

Delighted over the opportunity to give the elleth a real apology for interrupting her performance at dinner, Sona tripped down the rambling path into a beautifully situated garden. The marble paving stones were smooth against her bare feet, and sweet smelling trees and hedges that were both organized and yet still natural in their placement, lined her way.

She turned the corner as the tune took a strangely familiar somber turn. Before she could stop herself, Sona heard murmured rumblings of a masculine voice she’d recognize anywhere.

Thorin.

His angled profile was bathed in moonlight, accentuating the silver in his hair while the wind gently lifted loose bits around his face. His eyes were closed as he played a full sized harp with the skill of a master.

Registering her presence, his fingers stilled, resting over the stings almost as if in a stopping caress. Sona’s breath hitched as she felt her own fingers tingle with longing to play.

Thorin opened his eyes just enough to show the intense blue irises.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Sona could feel a blush up to the tips of her ears as his gaze locked onto hers. She clutched David’s urn tighter to her chest. “I thought you were an elf.”

Thorin’s eyes opened the rest of the way.

“No, I mean, I know you’re not an elf.” She watched the subtle emotions of shock, humor, confusion, and something else she hadn’t seen in his face before and couldn’t yet place. Shut up, Sona, you’re making it worse. “What I meant was, I didn’t realize you played. If I’d known it was you, I never would have…” Realizing she was just digging herself in deeper and that Thorin was just going to continue to stare at her and not say anything, Sona spun on her heel and made it two steps before his smooth baritone halted her.

“That day you were thieving from me, surely you saw my travel harp…”

Sona glanced gingerly over her shoulder and let out a slow breath when she saw the crinkling at the corners of his eyes. He was only teasing.

“…Or were you too focused on my food to notice anything else?” He lowered his head in a short nod toward her… an invitation to come back?

Slowly turning toward him, she chewed on her lower lip trying to decide how to answer. Of course she had noticed his harp. Just as she was noticing it now… the way the large, graceful instrument lay cradled in his arms like a reclining lover, with the body of it angled right down toward…

Sona jerked her eyes back up, feeling a strong desire to flee again as another embarrassed flush washed over her, heating her all the way down to her bare toes.

“Do you play?” Thorin gently tilted the massive instrument back up into a standing position and made as if rise from his seat.

“No, no, please don’t get up.” Sona nearly tripped on her robe in her haste to stop him. Stupid elves with their stupid dragging fashion, she thought, as she righted herself and pulled her now slightly gaping robe back closed.“I don’t play.”

“So when you said you played nearly every stringed instrument…” Thorin stopped his motion toward her, and Sona belated realized how quickly he’d gotten to his feet and moved to assist her… and how he just as quickly halted as soon as he recognized she was fine.

“This is one of the few I don’t.” Sona gulped; all that time he’d been sitting at the head of their travels remaining aloof and apart he’d still been listening to all her conversations. She wracked her brain trying to remember if she’d told his nephews anything truly asinine.

“Why are you here?” The words tumbled from her lips before she could recall them.

He merely cocked an eyebrow.

“I mean… you’re still in your travel clothes, and so I assume you haven’t gone to bed, and you and Elrond and Gandalf and Balin all disappeared, and well…”

He frowned at the mention of the elf’s name, but didn’t explain his sudden removal from dinner or his presence here now. Instead his gaze trailed over her, as if realizing what she was wearing for the first time.

Sona felt herself blush once more, which was completely idiotic given that her nightgown and robe covered more than the trousers and tank tops she’d been wearing during her previous weeks of travel. Well, I guess those were under my yoga sweater and Dwalin’s cloak. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Thorin canted his head to the side and nodded, a hint of warmth to his understanding. “You are not the only one who calms their mind with music.”

His eyes drifted down to the urn still clutched in her arms, and Sona could see the unasked question there.

“This is what’s left of my husband’s ashes.” She stepped forward and held out the urn gently for him to see.

Thorin seemed to recoil a bit at first, but checked himself, reaching out to carefully grasp the small silver cylinder. Sona released a small breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. He looked over the urn with the careful eyes and deft fingers of a trained metal smith, lingering on the script in the front.

“David Howard Jones, Junior.”

Thorin met Sona’s gaze and he clearly had more questions, though Sona suspected he was far too polite to ask them. She would have to corner Gandalf or Fíli and ask them about dwarven culture towards widows, because it seemed everything else was open season to talk or ask her about, but apart from that one ride, no one else had said anything else or asked any questions about her husband. Well, not since they’d found out he was deceased.

“What would you like to know?” she asked gently.

The corners of his eyes widened marginally and she only noticed because she was looking for it… she’d come to learn Thorin was very guarded with his emotional tells.

But, instead of asking anything, he handed back the urn. “It is well made.”

Despite Sona’s lack of useful knowledge about all things The Hobbit related, even she knew enough about dwarves to know what a true complement that was.

“Thank you.” She took a few steps away from the harp, toward an overlook she’d just spotted. “I don’t know what dwarves do when someone dies, but I imagine it has something to do with the earth and some sort of burial.” She ran a fingertip along David’s name again.

“That’s what David’s family wanted, but David always told me he liked aspects of my family’s Hindu tradition; specifically cremation.” Sona walked toward the break in the trees, and took in the picturesque view of a waterfall and moonlet valley before her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Thorin come to stand beside her, and found his presence comforting. He never said much and didn’t seem to mind her rambles.

“Ever since then I’ve been traveling to David’s favorite places to leave a bit of him behind: the Appalachian Trail, Zion’s, Moab, Denali… I’ve never met anybody who loved all aspects of nature more than him.” She smiled as the breeze rustled her hair out behind her. “I was actually going to our favorite local hiking spot to leave the last of his ashes. He’s long since moved onto his next life. It’s time for me to do the same.” She snuck a peek at Thorin, and nearly stepped back at the intensity of his gaze.

He was completely focused on her, merely nodding for her to continue, should she desire.

Sona bit her lower lip, suddenly feeling shy, and unsure of why she felt the need to share all of this with him. “I can’t think of a more lovely place to leave a part of him.”

Her fingers fumbled with the top of the urn, shaking, and she nearly dropped the cylinder.

Strong, callused hands closed over the top of hers, stilling her quivering fingers.

Together, they opened the urn and watched as David’s ashes were picked up by a sweet smelling elvish breeze and scattered across the Valley of Imladris.

Chapter Text

A/N: You guys are the best! Thank you so much for all the lovely comments. <3


 

So wake me up when it's all over

When I'm wiser and I'm older

All this time I was finding myself

And I didn't know I was lost

            - Avicii


 

            The walk back to her room was quiet and peaceful. Sona hadn’t asked Thorin to come along, but he seemed to sense her desire for company. As before, his presence was comforting, requiring nothing of her other than for her to be herself… even if she was somewhat unsure of who that was anymore. She hadn’t realized how adrift she felt or for how long.

            “What is this tune you hum?” Thorin’s baritone broke into her thoughts.

            “Oh, uh, just a song I’ve been working on.” Sona hadn’t even realized she’d been humming it.

            “Play it for us one evening soon?” He gave her a soft smile; just a tip of the corners of his mouth and a crinkling of his eyes, and she was momentarily struck by his resemblance to Fíli.

“Otherwise I fear for Bofur's jovial heart,” Thorin continued. “He still begrudges your serenade to the trolls.”

            A short laugh burst from Sona’s lips. “Someone had to save your skins.”

            Thorin raised an eyebrow at that, but wisely did not say anything. Still, she couldn't miss his humor, a spark of flint to those deep blue eyes. 

            “And I will play it for the Company.” They were approaching her room, and she slowed, not wanting their walk to be over. “Once I finish it, that is.”

            They reached the white columns denoting the entryway to her chambers and came to a stop, facing each other. Sona’s bare feet coupled with Thorin’s thick boots made them nearly the same height and she wasn’t sure if she should be delighted or anxious about being suddenly at the same eye level as him.

            Both. Definitely both.

            “I meant to return this before now.” Thorin held out his large hand, and atop it was Sona’s pocketknife, looking cleaner and shiner than it ever had before. She would wager he’d sharpened it as well. “I would not have you think me a thief.”

            “Oh, goodness, no,” Sona laughed. “I know how you feel about thieves! Besides we have been very busy, what with the orcs, and elves, dinner parties, and midnight meetings. You’ve hardly had a chance to give it back.” Smiling, she picked up her knife, her fingertips grazing the warm flesh of his palm. “Thank you.”

            “No… thank you.” Suddenly serious again, he bowed his head toward her, his eyes widening slightly at the end. Just then it dawned on her: he'd not expected her to come back for them.

            Sona lowered gaze and bit her lip; the earnestness in his gaze was too much for her. Of course she’d come for them.

            “It’s a good knife,” he continued. “Though somewhat crudely made. And small. And I could do without the elven lines.”

            Sona had to force herself not to snort at that last jab.

            “The metal is new to me, quite hard,” he rumbled, admiration clear in his voice. “And the rainbow wash is exquisite.”

            “It’s heat treated titanium, one of the strongest metals in existence.” She triggered the release with her thumb, carefully closed the blade, a smile on her face. He liked her knife. Even with the elven shape, he liked her knife. Sona pursed her lips thinking. “David gave it to me for my…” She scrunched up her face, looking skyward as she tried to remember. “…Twenty-second? Twenty-third birthday?”

            She looked back down in time to see Thorin’s hand drop to his side, as if he’d just been about to touch her knife again. Any hint of his previous levity was gone.

            Dammit. Sona cursed herself. She’d already picked up on the vibe that dwarves did not like to talk about deceased partners.

            Well no, that wasn’t right… Thorin had seemed to have no problem listening to her talk about David before… but that had been different. That had almost been more about her and her feelings and need for closure. This was just casual conversation.

            She realized they were both just standing there awkwardly not saying anything. And had he shuffled back a step while she was lost in her thoughts?

            “Goodnight—”

            “How do you say thank you in dwarvish?”

            “Pardon?” Thorin halted his back step and gave her an incredulous look, as if doubting he’d heard her correctly.

            “That language you guys are always speaking when you don’t think I’m paying attention.” She tapped her left ear with one finger. “At least, I assume it’s dwarvish. It sounds like the dwarf word for Moria, Khazad-dûm.” She bit her lower lip again, looking over at him through her lashes, suddenly shy. “Did I say it right?”

            Thorin was suddenly as still as stone… yet somehow very alive beneath the surface as though there was something there she couldn’t pinpoint.

Oh gosh… did I do something wrong? Her stomach clenched with unease. Did I somehow offend him?

His expression was a mixture of surprise in his eyes and… was that approval she could see in his slight half smile? He finally gave her a brief nod. “Khuzdûl..." he whispered, so gently it felt like a caress to her ears. "Where did you learn it?”

            At her confused expression he clarified, “There is no 'dwarvish'," a slight smile played on his lips. "We call it Khuzdûl. Our Language… it's sacred.”

            “Oh, of course.” Sona felt her cheeks heat and questions sped her heart.

It's sacred? Now she'd really stepped in it. She should have known better. Didn’t the elves have half a dozen languages themselves? And humans… goodness, it was not as everyone ran around speaking “mannish.” She wanted to know if dwarves had other languages or just the one and what made this one sacred, but felt as if she should answer his previous question first.

            “I don’t actually know Khuzdûl … just a few words from my… readings.” She didn’t think it was an appropriate time to explain what a movie was.

            His eyes narrowed slightly as if he'd made a decision. Then, suddenly decided, he stepped forward, closing the distance between them once again. “Âkmînruk zu.”

            “What?” Sona furrowed her brows together in confusion. “Oh! Aack-min-rook tzu.” She grinned broadly. “Thank you!”

            Thorin nodded, his slight half-smile back, and a slight bit of mischief in his eyes, reminiscent of Kíli when he was up to something. She wondered if she’d completely butchered the pronunciation.

            “I shall try again to take my leave." His chin rose slightly, like he’d won some small battle. "Goodnight, Thief.

            “Oh, wait, no, hang on just one moment.” She turned to her door, hand on the latch. “Let me just get you your hanky or else you really will think I’m a thief.”

            He murmured a reply Sona didn’t catch, and before she could ask him to repeat the door swung open and suddenly Sasha was there, hair pricked up on the back of her neck, a low growl in her throat.

            “Sasha! No! Bad! Thorin is a friend.” Sona grabbed onto Sasha’s collar and dragged her back. And though the dog immediately ceased her threatening posture as soon as the words left Sona’s mouth, still… “Better not come in,” she called from the far recesses of her room.           

She could hear Thorin clear his throat before he answered, “I wouldn't dare dream it.”

            “Stay!” Sona ordered the lab before setting David’s urn down and grabbing the blue velvet cloth from the top of her dresser.

            “I’m so so sorry.” She let out a breath as she closed the door behind her. “She’s not usually this bad.”

            Thorin raised an eyebrow, which Sona realized, was as close to getting an actually question from him as she was likely to get, or so it seemed.

            “Sasha was David’s, or rather, he was hers.” Sona leaned against the door, suddenly feeling exhausted. She realized she hadn’t slept since the night before the troll encounter. “She sometimes minds me, but only if she feels like it. And she’s super protective of me because she knows I was important to David.” She leaned her head back against the wood of the door and looked up at the bright stars overhead. “She’s way too smart for her own good.”

            “She appears to get on with Fíli well enough.” Thorin canted his head, sending his dark hair spilling loosely over his shoulders, curiosity back in his blue eyes, tucked warmly beneath creased brows.

            “Yeah, I’ve never seen her take such a shine to anyone else before. Which reminds me.” She pushed herself off the door, standing tall once again. “Why do Fíli and Kíli, and Dwalin for that matter, all think I’m still traveling with you? Have you not told the Company that I’m not going any farther?”

            Thorin blinked and she saw a flash of confirmation, but also a flicker of… she felt her eyes widen in surprise, certain it was just her exhaustion playing tricks on her… But he looked almost as sad as Fíli had when she'd kept Sasha with her that afternoon.

"So you will not." His head inclined, but he did not look away.

            “Well, no, of course not…” Sona stammered, eyes riveted to Thorin's intense gaze. This was all so confusing. “Why would you think that? And besides, I thought you didn’t even want me along…”

            "Gandalf took you as a traveling companion. He still journeys with us." Thorin shrugged, as if it should have been perfectly obvious, but there was something beneath it, like he was lifting some invisible stone. "I thought it would follow…" He looked to the floor before her feet and stopped speaking. Sona felt a slight pang of frustration, realizing she would understand more of all of this—of all of her feelings and the plans ahead—if she could actually remember anything from this blasted story.

            “Er, no. I’m staying. Elrond is going to help me get back to my… where I came from.” Sona pursed her lips recalling she hadn’t actually talked to Elrond about this yet.

            If Thorin was at all surprised by her pronouncement, the only indication he gave was that he was slow to respond.

            “I see.” He clasped his hands behind his back. “And what if Elves lack the ability to send you home?”

            “I… oh.” Sona felt almost bowled over by the suggestion. She had not even considered that as an option. “I don’t know.” She chewed on her lower lip again, considering her options. It was just too ludicrous. Of course she would go back! What about her family, what about her friends, her students… and yet, what if she couldn’t? “I guess… I guess I really could become a… what did Kíli call me? A traveling minstrel?”

            “Aye.” Thorin unclasped his hands, and reached one up to lightly stroke his beard. “Your skills would open doors in any hall, and you would have pupils lined up past the gates." 

While she felt a small measure of comfort in his confidence in her abilities, Sona’s mind was still spinning over the possibility of being “stuck” in Arda. She stared off over his shoulders, eyes unfocused as she pondered and couldn’t decide if the idea scared or thrilled her. Then another thought struck her. “I guess… I guess I can visit all the places in Middle Earth that David would have wanted to see and leave a bit of him there.”

            “If this is your course, Thief, you will need to visit Erebor once it is reclaimed.” He dropped his hand to his side and the full smile that blossomed on his face made him appear almost youthful, as if he were recalling a fond memory. “For you will find no grander halls in all of Middle Earth.” He paused, as if weighing something, growing somber. “And David,” he said fast and low, so low she hardly heard him. And when had he moved? Suddenly he was back on the path and she felt an inexplicable loss of warmth. “He is welcome. He should be there, too.”

            And with that he gave her a short half bow and was gone, leaving a stunned Sona behind.

            She clutched Thorin’s handkerchief in both hands, realizing she’d, once again, forgotten to give it to him.


 

A/N

Thorin, you naughty dwarf, teaching Sona Khuzdûl!  

Also, if you want to see what Sona’s little knife looks like, google images for a Kershaw Rainbow Chive.

Lastly, while my intent is to always update on ThorinsDay (or Thursday if you want to get technical) and SonaSunday, I do travel a lot for my job, and don’t always have regular internet access. So, if I miss a Thursday or Sunday, please don’t worry! I promise the story has NOT been abandoned, and I will update just as soon as I have internet access again.

Your comments give me wings! Thank you!

Chapter Text

A/N: I LIIIIIIIVE! Just didn't have internet access for a bit. 

So glad y'all loved the last chapter. Sounds like for many of you it was your fave, and I can honestly say it was an absolute delight to write! Happy SonaSunday!


 

Chalna aahiste ishq naya hai

Pehla yeh vada humne kiya hai

O re piya haye…

            -Shankar Tucker


 

            “You might do better with elves if you improved your table manners, Kíli.”

            The dwarf in question paused in the act of cramming an entire honey covered blueberry scone into his mouth. “What do you mean?”

Though it sounded more like “Whayoome?” Sona grimaced as breadcrumbs dribbled from his mouth in his attempt to talk, and Fíli reached over and smacked his brother in the back of the head.

“Amad would have your hide if she saw you eating like that.”

The mention of their mother, something they’d only done one other time around her, immediately caught Sona’s attention. Why had they never mentioned their father? Who was their mother? Was she Thorin’s sister or was Thorin her brother in law? Sona had so many questions—

            “Weedeaters, the lot of them.” Dwalin dropped his scone in disgust, but still shot a hand out to protect it from a thieving Kíli. Eyes, nearly barbed, jutted in the young dwarf’s direction, a warning clear as the rising sun. 

            “What do you mean by weedeaters?” Sona sipped her tea from her seat across from him, inhaling the cinnamon and cardamom spices deeply. The last few days of rest within Rivendell had been much needed, and she felt nearly human again. Though the dwarves were clearly bored out of their minds and ready to go. That brought her a smidge of discomfort and she put the thought from her mind.

            “Haven’t you noticed, Lady Sona?” Ori peered out from behind his book and scrunched up his nose. “They don’t eat any meat at all.”

            Nori smacked his brother, and at Ori’s confused expression, the older dwarf widened his eyes and gestured in Sona's direction, looking like he was trying to save his brother from getting caught stealing the silver.

            “What? I don’t understand… oh.” Ori blushed and hid back behind his book while Dori gave Sona an apologetic look.

            The rest of the dwarves at the breakfast table (with one very noticeable absence) stared at their own porridge, scones, and bowls of sliced melon with rapt attention, though Sona could see them stealing an occasional glance at her, as if waiting for her reaction.

            While she wasn’t keen over the fact that many of them had begun calling her “Lady Sona” like the elves did (it had started with Kíli, as he’d taken to calling her it when he realized she wasn’t fond of title, and then it just kinda stuck), she appreciated that her travel companions seemed to view her vegetarianism as an odd quirk or personal choice, and not as a complete character failing like they did with the elves.

            She took another sip of her tea, and then set the delicate ceramic cup down on its saucer. “I’m a vegetarian, Ori.” They clearly had noticed she didn’t eat meat, but the subject itself had not come up until now.

            “Is that anything like a whatsafist?” Dwalin asked as he carefully pulverized his scone before him with two fingers. Kíli stared at the ruined pastry sadly.

            “Pacifist,” Sona corrected automatically. “And no, but also yes, I guess. I am a vegetarian and a pacifist because of my belief that all life is scared. Why should an animal have to give up its life just to satisfy my hunger?”

            That got their attention. The dwarves were all staring at her slack jawed, so she took a bite of melon and another sip of tea.

            “But…” Ori peeped out from behind his book. “But you were alright with the trolls killing and eating our ponies, and eventually us.”

            “No, I was not.” Sona inhaled the scent of cardamom deeply, letting the mildly spicy and nutty scent wash over her. “If you’ll recall, I did aid in your rescue. I just didn’t want the trolls killed for acting on their nature… especially not while they were defenseless and sleeping. It didn’t seem right to me.”

They were all staring at her again, all food forgotten.  

“They can’t help their base instincts,” Sona continued. “They’re not as intelligent or as refined as us.” She took another sip of her tea and ignored the crumbs in most of their beards and the fact that Kíli had a finger lodged up his nose with a cheeky smirk on his face as if to dare her to correct him. “And you still have yet to explain to me just how you all got caught in the first place.”

            At that, there was much throat clearing and everyone staring at their plates once again while Fíli yanked Kíli’s hand away from his nose with another admonishing look. Dwalin suddenly smashed the crumbs of his biscuit flat with an open palm, and a thump so loud against the wooden table it jarred everyone.

            “I don’t care if you’re a whatsafist—”

            “Pacifist.”

            He grunted something muddled under his breath. Sona could swear he repeated 'whatsafist'. "Good riddance to Trolls." He snorted at his dead scone. "I'll respect your beliefs, lass, if you respect ours."

            Sona nodded her head. “Of course. I’d never dream of doing otherwise.”

            “Knew it. Liked you from the start.” Dwalin's smile was brief, but full and genuine. “And Thorin trusts you, cannae' ask for more.” The others dwarves all nodded their agreement, but Sona sputtered, nearly dropping her tea.

            “He does?” Since when?

            Balin gave her a quiet, evaluating gaze, but it was Fíli who answered.

            “Course he does. Uncle wouldn’t let anyone travel with us…” he looked around, ensuring no pointy ears were around “…on a quest like this if he didn’t trust them.”

            “Besides,” Kíli picked up where his brother left off, wiping a green bogey off on the underside of the table with a wink toward Sona. “You knew about our kin, Gimli and Dain, and he didn’t even question your knowledge. So he must have told you of them, which he wouldn’t have done if he didn’t trust you.”

            Sona thought that was a very generous interpretation of her outbursts regarding both those dwarves, but given Gandalf’s warning about sharing her knowledge, and Thorin jumping in to divert the conversation when it ventured into this territory around the other dwarves, she was not about to correct them over their assumptions. Still… Dwalin and Balin, she suspected knew more… or had at least deduced more. And they seemed to trust her.

            She bit her lower lip, trying not to dwell on the thought that Thorin might actually trust her and how that sent a thrill through her.

She fingered the gold trim of her cream colored tunic, trying to think about something other than a certain missing dwarf. Or trying not to wonder if he’d eaten. Or if he’d escort her to dinner again tonight, as he had every night .

Her fingers traced the heavy bullion on her lower sleeve that reminded her so much of the ornate trims her grandmother favored.

When Arwen had found out that Sona preferred to wear trousers to dresses during the events of the day, she’d brought her several pairs of leggings in cream, brown, and blue. Because of their height and body shape differences they fit Sona tight around the ankles and calves, but bunched around her knees and loosened somewhat around her thighs. The elleth had been concerned over the fit, but Sona smiled, pointing out that they almost looked like proper bottoms to a Punjabi suit.

To which Sona then had to explain what a Punjabi suit was, and before she could finish, Arwen had flitted off to her own quarters and brought back an armful of tunics, all heavily embroidered and more embellished than the last. Sona’s grandmother would have been on cloud nine.

With Sona being so much shorter than the elleth, the tunics had reached nearly to her knees, and it had taken just a bit of tailoring to add the side slits necessary to turn the tops into kurtas. Sona’s breasts and hips were a bit larger than Arwen’s but she thought she filled out the makeshift Punjabi rather nicely.

“No blue today, eh?” Fíli’s jovial tone broke into her thoughts.

“Huh?” Sona blinked and she went to take another sip of her tea only to find her cup was empty.

“Your clothing.” Fíli waved a hand toward her ensemble. “You usually have some shade of blue on as well… oh, never mind, I see it.”

Sona furrowed her brows as she looked down at her gold patterned cream tunic. There was no blue to be seen on it anywhere.

“Your wrap.” Fíli pointed at the back of her chair, and Sona pulled the dark blue swath of silk over her shoulder.

“Oh, yes, this.” She chuckled softly. “Arwen’s apparently decided that blue and gold are my colors, so all the clothes she’s given me follow that color scheme. “

“So you did not pick them?” Fíli’s face was overly curious, as if he were fishing for something.

“Well, no I mean, I picked my dress the first night, but all the others I’ve worn, and all these Punjabis, that was all Arwen.” Sona was very grateful for the elleth’s generosity, and would not look a gift horse in mouth. She loved pinks and greens just as much as anyone else, but Arwen was being so very kind in not only giving Sona her dresses and tunics, but helping her modify and turn them into proper saris and Punjabis. Well, as proper as they could manage in the few days they’d had together. The elleth had even given her some gold slippers that matched all her new clothing so she wouldn’t have to tromp around in her hiking boots.

“Interesting.” Fíli sat back in his chair, one hand stroking his beard braids.

“Why in the world is that interesting?” Sona busied herself in arranging her gold trimmed, blue wrap over her shoulders. Most of the dwarves had finished eating by this point and left to go back to their communal room and while away the time. She couldn’t understand why Thorin had kept them here for so long, though, she was grateful. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye to any of them just yet.

“I mean, I’m surprised you even noticed,” she continued, sliding her chair back so she could stand up.

“How could I—or anyone else here, for that matter—fail to notice how perfectly complimentary in both color and bearing you and my uncle are every evening for dinner?” A smirk played across the young dwarf’s lips and he and a grinning Kíli, who’d clearly heard everything, stood in unison, bowed, and were off before Sona could come up with a proper response.

Because the truth was, she had failed to notice.

Had Thorin?


 

A/N

*English translation of lyrics:

A story of love, a feeling till now unknown to me slowly walks in.

The first tender promise you gave was to be forever as One.

O beloved

Chapter Text

Happy ThorinsDay! This chapter gave me and my beta fits, but I think it's finally where we want it... Hope you like. :)


 

But I keep cruising

Can't stop, won't stop moving

It's like I got this music

In my mind

Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

            -Shake it off, Taylor Swift


 

Startled, Sona dropped her hairbrush when she noticed Thorin’s reflection in her mirror. She spun to face him, heart racing, as he filled her open doorway. He was clad only in a slate blue linen shirt and black suede trousers.

Somewhere in the back of Sona’s mind she realized the fact that he was there, in her bedroom, in this state of undress, meant something was off…but all she could focus on was the fact that the top of his shirt was unlaced and a patch of black chest hair was peaking out from the vee between his pectorals, and she just…guh.

He was suddenly before her, well within her personal space, the smell of pine and cardamom wafting off of him.

She swallowed, trying to get some moisture into her suddenly dry mouth. Thorin slowly crouched and reached for her hairbrush and she had to clench her hands into fists at her side to stop herself from burying her fingers into the thick head of hair below her.

As his thick fingers wrapped around the wooden handle, a callused fingertip grazed the inside of her barefoot, and Sona’s breath caught. He looked up at her, his brilliant blue eyes locking with her amber ones, before he slowly stood.

“You were not at supper.” His voice rumbled from deep in his chest as the smell tobacco and a strong port wine wafted off his breath. Sona’s heart raced over his closeness; he was mere inches away, and she could feel the heat radiating off of him.

“I wasn’t hungh…” She trailed off into unintelligible nothingness as he leaned into her to drop the brush on the table behind her. The solid mass of his broad chest brushed against the silk of her robe, and oh, she could feel him press against her. Sona heard the thunk of wood on wood... and yet he didn't move or back away.

“You were missed,” he rumbled softly into her ear.

"You...?" Sona swallowed, unable to vocalize any farther.

"Hmmm." He gave a half nod, bringing his head closer, stopping just beyond touching, neither confirming nor denying what she asked. 

He ran his forefinger over a strip of the gold trim resting along her collarbone. His touch was so light that had she not watched him do it she would have thought it nothing more than a light breeze… apart from the fire it spread along her flushed skin.

Thorin drew in a breath of air and seemed to almost sigh, but instead spoke: "Blue suits you. As does the gold. No one, by deed or word, can change the truth."

Sona bit her lower lip as the edge of his nose grazed lightly across her cheek…

And then he was…

…licking her?

“Ahhhhh!” Sona’s eyes shot open and she jerked away from a whining Sasha.

The lab stared at Sona guilelessly, completely unperturbed that she’d woken her up, or the manner in which she’d done so.

The dog leaned in to lick Sona again, and she sat up, hands out. “Okay, okay, I’m up.” She blearily rubbed at her eyes. What time is it?

As the haze of sleep wore off, Sona realized her heart was still racing, and she felt flushed, but certainly not from being startled awake by Sasha. The sent of cardamom hit her nose and she jerked her head to the right where she could see her nearly empty cup cold tea atop her dresser next to her hairbrush.

My hairbrush!

She felt the heat of a blush wash over her cheeks and neck.

What was that dream?

She’d done everything to put Thorin from her mind after what Fíli had said about the two of them. Not that what he’d said actually meant anything. So what if she and Thorin happened to match at dinner every night?

Did Arwen do it on purpose, I wonder?

But Sona quickly shook her head; it didn’t matter. The dwarves were leaving soon, and she wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that.

Sad, of course.

She’d come to very much like them. And Sasha had taken such a shine to Fíli. And Kíli was a laugh a minute (despite the boogers). And Dwalin… goodness. Sona felt like she’d just scratched the surface with him, and that maybe, if they’d had more time he truly would have become the cranky yet doting uncle she’d never had.

Which then brought her back to the grump muffin.

Thorin.

She dragged her fingers through her snarled hair as she climbed out of bed, still feeling warm and flushed. She couldn’t even look at her hairbrush without another blush heating her cheeks.

What was wrong with her? She was acting like a middle school girl with a crush on a high school football player, for goodness sakes! 

Yes, Thorin was attractive, incredibly so. And very magnetic in every way—there was a definite pull. And intelligent. And beneath his gruff exterior very kind.

But in the end he was still just a man—well, dwarf—but the point was, she was being foolish.

Sona yawned, and then pulled on her robe. Her fingers stilled as she went to tie it closed… blue and gold. She quickly shrugged out of it and opened up the armoire hoping that Arwen had stashed something in there of a different color.

Don’t want Thorin to think I’m trying to imply anything. Like I’m trying to match him. Her stomach churned with more than just hunger from skipping a meal to avoid seeing a certain dwarf. What must he think of me?

Sasha’s whines were getting more frantic. Clearly the dog had to go out. Sona pulled on a red silk robe, embroidered with oranges and pinks on the cuff, neck, and sash, and tied it firmly shut. It would do.

“You go do your business.” Sona pulled her door open and followed the dog outside. “I’m going to get a bite to eat.”


 

“Sasha!” Sona had gotten lost twice trying to find the kitchen and had finally given up. And now it seemed she was more turned around than before, finding herself on the landing between two airy stairwells looking for the errant Labrador. “Saaaaashaaaaaa!”

"She is with Fíli."

Sona whirled, letting out a small “eep” as she turned to face a fully clothed Thorin… though he was not wearing his full kit, having relaxed some in Imladris. Gone were his armor and heavy fur coat, yet he still wore his surcoat over his linen shirt and trousers. Her eyes strayed to his heavily jeweled belt right above—she jerked her head up.

"He continues teaching her to fetch with practice swords.” His voice was more quiet than usual.  

If Thorin noticed Sona’s discomposure or blush that heated her cheeks and spread all the way to her bosom, he did not let on. “She’s quite intelligent. For a dog."

Sona raised an eyebrow. Did he just compliment Sasha?

He took one step forward, stopping and clasping his hands before him, looking distractedly at one of his rings before glancing up at her. 


“You were not at supper.”

A nervous laugh forced its way out of Sona’s mouth. The words were the same, but his manner could not have been more different.

Dreams and fantasies never match up to real life. Probably for the best. “I wasn’t hungry.”

Thorin gave what Sona thought was a laugh under his breath. His head canted to one side, hair cascading in the moonlight, and she felt her mouth go dry.

Nope. I was definitely not having a dream about you not twenty minutes ago. And you definitely were not nuzzling me in it. Nope nope nope.

Her stomach chose that moment to rumble and Sona scrunched her nose up and pressed her eyes closed.

Stupid traitor stomach, couldn’t wait five minutes?

Thorin raised an eyebrow and gave a brief glance toward her stomach, but did not say anything. From there his gaze wandered over the changed colors of her robe. Now his eyes creased in a serious expression, yet still somehow friendly. Sona felt a twinge of regret over pulling this out of the back of that wardrobe, missing the blue and gold, feeling silly for switching. 

It’s not like it meant anything to him. I’m being silly and reading far too much into his expressions.

"The fire shades tonight?" He nodded once, slightly. His smile failed to reach those eyes, and yet they were warm. "Do you know, Dwarves love color? More than any other culture in Arda, we tend it outwardly."

Her eyes widened. He DID notice! Mortification rolled over Sona. When she matched him he must have thought her to be completely presumptuous or trying to imply something or—

"Some Dwarrow wear multiple colors combined; others have favored shades chosen by ourselves or by our parents, for the love of how we set together, hair, skin eyes, gemstones…" At this his blue eyes jumped from the red silk of her robe to meet hers. 

Slammed by that gaze, she could not find any words to respond with, and her embarrassment mounted.

Why is he making it worse and still talking about this? 

A part of her mind rationalized that there had to be a reason he wanted to talk about this, and he clearly had much more he wanted to say, but her anxiety and panic were mounting with her embarrassment over his persistence in discussing it. Her gaze flicked around their surroundings as she searched for an escape, looking everywhere but at the dwarf before her.

As if sensing her unease with the turn of the conversation, Thorin glanced down toward her hands where Sona twisted her wide gold ring on her right pinky finger.

It took her a moment, but she realized he was staring at the ring itself. Grateful for the shift in scrutiny off her person, she stopped twisting it around her finger, and held her hand out for Thorin to see. He blinked, as if surprised by her movement, and then focused his gaze on the ring.

Half an inch in width, a simple flat, gold band, it was scratched and worn with time, but the script along on the surface was still clear and legible.

“My dad gave it to me for my birthday.” Sona ran a thumb along the underside of the ring. “It used to fit on my index finger back then, but took up nearly all the space up to my first knuckle. My mother thought he was nuts for giving it to me. ‘What does an eight year old need with a ring like that?’ But he said he had to get it for me as soon as he saw it. That I was meant to have it.” 

She smiled as she looked down at her hand. “I love it—always made me feel fancy and grown up as a little girl.” Pulling her and back she traced the worn surface of the ring once again. “And now it reminds me that my dad loves me. And my mom. Because if she didn’t really want me to have it my dad never would have bought…” 

Sona trailed off, realizing that Thorin was staring at her again, his expression warm, but… he had moved slightly away from her and was leaning against the stone half wall banister for the stairs.

“I’m sorry, I’m rambling. I must be boring you. I’m… sorry,” she finished lamely. Could she leave now and bury her head under her pillows and pretend nothing about this evening had ever happened?

"Bored? No, Thief." His eyes were open and welcoming… so unusual she couldn't help staring. "I rather enjoy your tales." 

“Oh…” Sona blinked. That had been… unexpected.

"May I examine the ring?" He asked it so softly, Sona thought perhaps she hadn’t heard him properly.

Surprised by the request, she nevertheless worked the ring off her finger so she could hand it over. He’d been so shy to touch her knife after he’d realized it had been a gift from David…

Wait… he knows this is from my dad. Not my deceased spouse.

She still hadn’t figured out what the connotation of being a widow was in dwarf society, but clearly it carried some sort of stigma or… rules? Realizing Thorin was waiting patiently, she dropped the ring into his outstretched hand.

"What runes are these?"  

He mimicked Sona’s previous action and ran a calloused fingertip lightly across the surface of the ring. Sona forced the memory of his fingers grazing her bare foot from her mind.

GET A GRIP. It was just a dream. A great dream yeah, but IT WASN’T REAL.

“It’s a script for a language my mother’s side of the family speaks, called Hindi.”

He furrowed his brows as he looked over the straight lines and angles of the writing. 

"And their meaning?"

A small smile played at the corners of Sona’s lips. “Gold.”

Thorin looked up as if to verify she wasn’t teasing him. 

"Your father gifted you a gold ring–– engraved with the word gold upon it?" 

She nodded, forcing herself not to giggle as the corners of his mouth edged into a smile. 

He took in her amusement, and seemed to realize there was something he was not quite getting about the entire exchange. Thorin slowly handed her ring back.

“How do you say gold in Hindi?” he asked, eyes narrowing as his smile blossomed into complete bemusement.  

Sona slid her ring back onto her pinky finger. A smirk tugged at the corner of her mouth as she slowly met his gaze through her lowered lashes.

“Sona. The Hindi word for gold is Sona.”


 

A/N:

And for those of you wondering, this is the script that was on her ring: सोना

Chapter Text

 

Let me see you through

’cause I've seen the dark side too

When the night falls on you

You don't know what to do

Nothing you confess

Could make me love you less

I'll stand by you

-The Pretenders


 

“Of course it is.” Thorin let out a low, throaty chuckle. “Of course your name means gold.”

He was laughing, not at her, but with her; she could tell by the welcome in it. Sona stared back into eyes bright with something beyond amusement and felt her heart flutter.

Stop that. Of course he’s laughing. It’s funny. He doesn’t mean anything else by it.  

            Sona ducked her head, suddenly feeling shy over his focused attention on her. She shoved her hand into the pocket of her robe to hide the ring and move the conversation away from her and back to him. Her fingers grazed something soft and velvety and—

            “Oh!” Sona pulled out his crumpled handkerchief. “I meant to give this to you before, and, well…” She wrinkled her nose at the crushed velvet. “I’m sorry… I should have taken better care of it.”

            “It is fine.” Thorin took the blue fabric from her. “It has seen far worse, believe me.”

            Sona gave him a small smile and nodded her head. “Even so… dhanyavaad.”

            He continued to stare at the embroidered handkerchief, brow creased as if in thought. Then, as though a spell had broken, he blinked and looked up, meeting her gaze. “Pardon?”

            “Dhanyavaad.” She ran a bare foot shyly along the smooth stone of the landing. “Thank you.”

            “Thun-yuh-vod.” Thorin sounded the Hindi word out slowly, his lips moving with exaggerated slowness.

            Stop staring at his mouth, Sona.

            “Perfect! I suspect you have a gift for languages.” Seriously, stop staring at his mouth and thinking about how perfectly framed by his beard it is. What would it feel like to touch it—

“A gift?" he asked, but then he adamantly shook his head, his two fore braids swishing across his shoulders with the motion. "I have no gift.” He shifted his gaze to the scenery beyond her, and Sona swallowed. I'm boring him …but she didn’t want him to go just yet. She wasn’t ready for the conversation to be over.

Her eyes darted to the fabric in his hand, focusing on the silver stitching, and suddenly wondered… “Who did the embroidery on your handkerchief?”

            He glanced down, gently fingering the fabric, confirming her supposition that someone else had done it for him.

When he didn’t immediately answer Sona wondered if she’d somehow stumbled on a taboo subject. Was he a widower? Goodness, what if he was actually married and she’d been having all these inappropriate thoughts about him, and she suddenly realized she knew next to nothing about him and—

            “Fíli and Kíli's mother. She packs it with provisions whenever I travel, to carry a part of her with me, as she says...” He laughed here, gruff and low, while he carefully folded the fabric square. Sona was briefly reminded of their first encounter when she’s stolen it from him and was no longer certain she regretted it… she would not have met him—or any of the other dwarves—otherwise.  

"She embroidered it long ago,” he continued, tucking the cloth away, “a Durin's Day gift." 

            “What’s Durin’s—”

            “Of course I was going to tell you, I was waiting for this very chance.” Gandalf’s irritated voice boomed from below, and Sona and Thorin both blinked in surprise, turning to look over the ledge of the platform.

            “And really, I think you could trust that I know what I am doing,” the wizard continued, the umbrage in his words and demeanor toward his companion, Lord Elrond, clear to anyone watching.

            “Do you?” The elf gave Gandalf a sidelong look as they continued their slow, starlit stroll along the raised path below Sona and Thorin. “That dragon has slept for sixty years.”

Hah! I knew there was a dragon! Sona smiled smugly, and then just as quickly her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Oh crap THERE IS A DRAGON!

“What will happen if your plan should fail?” Elrond asked. “If you wake that beast...” 

“But if we succeed.” Gandalf was animated in his excitement. “If the Dwarves take back the mountain, our defenses in the East will be strengthened!”

Oh. Oh… That explains why he’s so hell bent on going to Erebor and not listening to me. Sona leaned out, trying to hear them better, but kept quiet so as not to be seen. Thorin stood slightly behind her, though she suspected he was listening just as keenly, if not more so.   

Elrond shook his head. “It is a dangerous move, Gandalf.” 

“It is also dangerous to do nothing or cut the throne of Erebor.” His reply was so quick, Sona wondered if Gandalf had rehearsed this discussion in his head beforehand. “It's Thorin's birthright. What is it you fear?” 

Sona nodded her head, completely in agreement with Gandalf. What was Elrond doing butting his nose into Thorin’s business anyways? Just because the elf lord was immortal and wise and had seen a lot of bad stuff go down (her mind flitted to Isildur and the first war for the ring) that didn’t mean he got to make decisions for others or that he was all knowing.

The elf stopped short, forcing the wizard to face him. “Have you forgotten? A strain of madness runs deep in that family. His grandfather lost his mind; his father succumbed to the same sickness. Can you swear Thorin Oakenshield will not also fall?” Elrond resumed walking along their path, point seemingly made. “Gandalf, these decisions do not rest with us alone. It is not up to you or me to redraw the map of Middle Earth…”

Beyond hearing range, Sona continued to stare at the area beneath the landing where the two of them had been talking so cavalierly.

About Thorin.

She blinked, trying to absorb all that she’d just heard.

The heavy scuff of Thorin’s boots against the smooth stone landing caught her attention.

He was leaving.

Sona had to say something. She knew what she wanted to say. I understand. I get it. You’re not alone.

But how could she? It was so private. All so personal. And she knew she’d just been privy to a conversation Thorin would never have wanted anyone, much less her, to hear.

Anything she said would only make things worse.

And yet, at the sound of his steps moving farther away, she couldn’t stop herself.

            “My mother’s bi-polar.” Sona continued to stare out across the delicate landscape of Rivendell. She couldn’t do this looking at him. “So’s my sister.” She wrapped her hands around the balcony’s banister for support, reveling in the feel of the cool wood beneath her fingers. “It’s a type of mental disorder. Often hereditary. But not always.” She let out a slow breath. He was still there. She could smell cardamom and pine on the breeze coming from behind her. “I grew up wondering if I would be too.” Sona shrugged one shoulder. “Sometimes I still wonder.”

            This was not something she ever shared. Only David had known the true depths of her fear. And how guilty she felt for both escaping the disorder so far and being relieved about that.

Sona heard Thorin step toward her, so she pushed on before she lost her nerve.

“And the thing is, having a mental disorder doesn’t make people bad or weak… they’re just ill. And, in many cases, like with my mom and sister, they can take a medication for it.”

He was beside her now. Not looking at her, arms crossed over his chest as he too stared off into the distance.

“If you break a leg, wouldn’t you put a cast on it?” She recited what her father had told all of them over the years. “Mental illness is no different.” And he had believed that to his very core. That, Sona often thought, more than anything, had given both her mother and sister the strength they needed to fight through their trials. To continue fighting to this day.

Sona bit her lower lip, almost ashamed to say the next part out loud, but needing to. “Do I hope I’ll escape their fate? Well, yeah. Of course I do. I’m only human.” She flicked her gaze over to him and saw he was doing the same to her. Still facing straight ahead, but eyes looking sidelong. Evaluating. Waiting. Listening.

“I refuse to let the fear of what may happen… what could happen… control me, my decisions, or stop me from making plans for the future.” Sona lowered her gaze, staring at her hands. She had nothing left to say… and it was strangely liberating.

A few quiet moments passed, and then, Thorin placed his hands next to hers on the railing. Not touching. But close. Very close.

Dhanyavaad.” He said it so quietly it was almost lost on the wind.

Swallowing thickly, and hoping she wasn’t making yet another dwarven social blunder, she slid her right hand the remaining few inches until it was flush with the warm skin of his left hand.

He didn’t so much as flinch. If anything he seemed to lean toward her. Not so much with an actual movement, but… his body language seemed more open and inviting.

Sona couldn’t quite put it into words. And so she stopped thinking about it, and instead tucked her pinky finger over the top of his and focused on the peace of the moment.

            Which was promptly ruined by Lindir showing up.

            “Lady Sona, there is someone who would speak with you.”


 

A/N

Stupid elves.

Chapter Text

Where did we leave off? 

Ah yes... pinky holding between Sona and Thorin... and Lindir just showed up and ruined it...


 

If I could

Baby I'd give you my world

Open up

Everything's waiting for you

You can go your own way

Go your own way

            - Fleetwood Mac


 

            Sona whirled, heart racing at the elf’s sudden arrival… and perhaps a little bit at being “caught” trying to hold Thorin’s hand.

            I wasn’t trying to hold his hand. I was providing mutual comfort. Besides, our pinkies were barely touching.

            “I’m sorry, who did you say wanted to speak with me?” Sona scrambled to focus on Lindir and not the grump muffin next to her. Because yeah, though she couldn't really blame Thorin for his prickly display, his grump muffin mood was most definitely showing. And Lindir? Well, he was a walking bucket of ice water spilling over them.

            The elf just shuffled his feet looking as if he felt slightly gassy.

            “Is it Lord Elrond?” Sona pressed. “Because he’s been avoiding me for days, and I really need to talk to him about my, uh, travel issue.”

            Lindir’s face just looked pinched and pained as motioned for her to follow him.

            How did I ever think he was pretty? He’s too snotty to be pretty.

            Sona turned to excuse herself and say goodbye to Thorin only to find that the dwarf was already gone. She just caught a flash of his long wavy hair as he turned a corner. She remembered how it had felt against her face, so soft yet weighty. She could just smell a hint of cardamom on the air.

            Stupid Lindir.

            “Well,” she forced a tight smile on her face as she turned back to face the elf, “I’m still in my jammies. Hope that’s okay.”

            He nodded and beckoned her to follow.


 

            The Lady of Lórien stood before her, inside an open-air atrium on a cliff face overlooking a stunning waterfall below. Well, at least it would have been stunning if the elleth hadn’t been there for comparison. She was clad head to foot in pure shimmery white. Blonde waves of hair trailed to below her hips, and a silver wrought crown rested against her brow. Sona could not help the small gasp that escaped her as she took in the enchantress’ powerful aura. She literally glowed.

            “You… you’re Galadriel.”

            The elleth nodded. And you’re Sona Anand Jones. Musician. Teacher. Widow. Lost. “And friend to dwarves.”

            Sona blinked, needed a moment to realize only the last bit had been spoken out loud. “You’re a friend to dwarves too.”

            A small smile passed over Galadriel’s lips. “Indeed?”

            “Oh boy… well, you’re certainly going to piss Fëanor off.”

The elleth’s mouth curved up into the most stunning grin Sona had ever seen, and she felt her own blossom across her face as the memory of Gimli being gifted three of the silver gold hairs from the elleth’s head. It was one of her absolute fave LotR moments.

            Galadriel’s grin slipped away and she raised an eyebrow as if surprised; Sona belatedly remembered the Lady of Lórien’s ability to read minds.

            Wait… she can read minds! Sona pressed her eyes closed, intended to blast all her memories of everything that was to come at the enchantress because maybe then everything would be back on track and—

            “Stop.”

            “But—”

            The elleth raised a graceful hand, and Sona snapped her mouth shut.

            “It is not for you to tell me what is to come.” Galadriel took slow, measured steps around the perimeter of the atrium, a long train practically floating behind her. “You would like to go home.”

            “Well…” Sona thought about this. Yes, indeed she would like to go home. She missed her family. And her house. And her students. And if she was being completely honest, Disneyland. She really loved Disneyland. “…yes. Eventually.”

The last word had just popped out, and Sona realized it was true. While she did want to go back to California, she didn’t necessarily want to go now. She wasn’t ready. That thought both thrilled and scared her.

            What the hell do I think I’m going to do here in Arda in the meantime? Travel with the dwarves? Her heart rate increased and Sona realized that’s precisely what she wanted. Stop being ridiculous. You can’t travel with them. They’re going to face a dragon. DRAGON. Think furnace with wings.

            She realized Galadriel was stopped before her, the same serene smile from before playing across her lips.

            “Lady Sona of California, you may go home once you’ve found who you are looking for.”

            Sona scrunched up her face as she looked up at the elleth. “What does that even mean?”

            But the enchantress merely gave her another knowing smile, and stepped away, up to the overlook on the edge of the atrium, clearly done with her.

            Lindir was back at Sona’s side guiding her out of the space before she was even fully aware of what was going on, and had she not turned to sneak one more peek at the Lady of Lórien, she would have missed seeing Saruman the White entering the atrium from the other end.

            He looked up and met her gaze, eyes searing almost painfully through her.

Sona ran.

Call it a fight or flight instinct, but she ignored the calls of Lindir to wait and got the hell out of there. She most definitely did not want to be anywhere near that wizard.


 

Sona slammed the door to her room, cursing under her breath over it not having a lock.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Not that a lock would do anything to stop a wizard.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Not that he was actually following her.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Not that he actually even cared one wit about who she was or why she was there.

Sasha whined from her place atop Sona’s bed.

“Oh, are you done playing with Fíli, then?”

The dog simply rolled on her back, exposing her underside for Sona to rub.

“If you think you can get back in my good graces that easily…” But Sona was already scratching the lab’s belly. “I can’t stay mad at you, goofball.”

As she ran her fingers through Sasha’s hair her mind returned to Galadriel’s parting words to her.

You may go home once you’ve found who you are looking for.

“And just who am I supposed to be looking for?”

Sasha let out a loud sigh, the air escaping her mouth fluttering her upper lip.

“You said it, girl.” Sona scrunched up her nose in irritation. “Would it have killed her to tell me who I’m suppose to find? And then she wouldn’t even let me tell her about the ring and Gollum… Gollum!”

She froze, hand resting on Sasha’s chest, mind racing. “We need to find the dwarves and go with them when they leave—”

“Your companions have already left.”

Sona whirled. Arwen was standing gracefully in the doorway, the same serene smile her grandmother had on her face. Sona was starting to hate that smile.

What?

“They took advantage of the distraction Gandalf is providing them now by tying up the White Council, and left.”

Sona goggled at her. “But if you didn’t want them to leave… you could have easily stopped them. I don’t understand…” Her voice trailed off as Arwen stepped into her room fully, Sona’s pack held in one of her elegant hands as if it weighed nothing.

“I took the liberty of packing for you.” She indicated the wardrobe across from Sona’s bed. “And I set out some new traveling clothes for you. I hope that is alright.” She gave Sona an almost shy smile, and in that moment Sona was struck with how very young the elleth appeared. For all Arwen’s long years of life, Sona still felt as if she was older, if only in experience.

“No, that’s more than alright.” Sona gave her friend a wide smile. “That’s awesome!”


 

            Ten minutes later, just as the sunrise was pinking the edge of the sky, Sona was ready.

            She was clad in sturdy brown wool leggings that actually fit her so perfectly Sona suspected Arwen had made them specifically for her. Soft suede boots laced up to her mid calf, and she wore a purple, thigh length kurta atop it all. Well, she decided to call it purple, though she suspected in sunlight it would be closer to royal blue in color. She also had a new cloak, so dark it appeared nearly black, though Sona was certain this was also blue in color—navy to be specific. Arwen had quietly mentioned she’d done the gold top stitching herself.

            She’d debated asking Arwen what had possessed the elleth to dress her in Thorin’s colors, but it had all been such a rush to leave, and after she’d changed into her travel clothes, Arwen had quietly said that the colors suited her, and left it at that.

            Sona resolved to guard her thoughts more carefully around her and her grandmother.

            The elleth had also tried to plait Sona’s hair, but she waved her off, saying there was no time, and it would just fall out of the braid anyways. Sona would deal with it later. For now, she was anxious to catch up with her friends.

            The one thing Arwen had forced on her was a set of delicate gold bangles.

            “I can’t take these. You’ve done too much for me already.”

            “Nonsense. They are mine to give as I please.” The elleth slid them up Sona’s left arm, until three full inches were covered with the bracelets. “I know how much you like pretty things.”

            “But… but they’ll make so much noise and, oh…” Sona shook her arm to demonstrate how loud they were, and all that emanated from them was a soft tinkling that sounded like a light spring rain. “But what if they get caught on something?”

            Arwen gave her another serene smile. “There is a small bag for you to store them inside of your pack should you desire to remove them for any reason.”

            Argument lost—Sona really did love the bangles—she strapped Sasha’s side pouches on the dog, which were full of elvish treats and kibble for the lab to snack on between meals.

            “Is there anything else you require, Lady Sona?”

            She turned and took in the ethereal beauty before her, wondering if she’d met Aragorn yet.

Arwen’s going to be an awesome queen.

Then she thought about the journey ahead and all that might happen, and a few things she knew for certain would.

“That depends.” She gave the elleth a sly grin. “How well can you forge your dad’s handwriting?”


 

A/N

I know I’ve messed with the movie’s timing of Gandalf seeing Galadriel directly after his conversation with Elrond, but whatevs. I think we’ve already established that I DO WHAT I WANT. Not to mention in my mind the fact that Sona’s there instead of Bilbo is slowly changing things. Even something as innocuous as a simple meeting between 4 of the oldest and wisest minds of Middle Earth. 

Chapter Text

 

I don't know where I'm goin'

But I sure know where I've been

Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday

An' I've made up my mind, I ain't wasting no more time

Here I go again, here I go again

-Whitesnake


 

            “Well I found myself alone,” Sona sang to herself as she trotted up the switchbacks leading out of the Valley of Imladris.

“…hoping someone would miss me.”

Arwen had pointed the way the Dwarves had gone, and with only an hour’s head start Sona was confident she and Sasha could catch them before nightfall. Despite the fact that she pretty much hadn’t slept the night before.

Worth it.

The next lyric to her song came to her, and she sang it between puffs of breath.

“Thinking about my home and the last man to kiss me…”

Well, they hadn’t kissed, not even in the dream, and he wasn’t a man technically in the Middle Earth sense, but the lyric worked and so…

Sasha, who up to that point had been bounding along excitedly next to Sona stiffened, and Sona barely grasped her collar in time and pulled her next to her to heel. She silenced the dog with a look and finger to her lips.

What had the lab heard? Surely orcs would not come this close to Rivendell. But then she remembered what had driven them to Rivendell’s very doors, and Gandalf had said the dwarves were being hunted.

Straining her ears to hear what Sasha had picked up on, she edged toward the next switchback, ready to run at the first indication of danger.

“…on your guard, we're about to step over the Edge of the Wild.”

Thorin!

“Balin, you know these paths, lead on.”

A grin split Sona’s face, and Sasha was tugging against her collar, setting Sona’s bangles jangling against each other. The dog was more than eager to re-join their companions. How they’d caught up with the dwarves so quickly, Sona didn’t know, and she didn’t care. She let go of Sasha and pushed herself to her feet and rounded the switchback behind the dog, all smiles…

…And nearly walked directly into two dozen axes and swords pointed her way. The dwarves all immediately relaxed as soon as they realized it was her, but…

Why are they all staring at me? And now they’re looking at Thorin, and oh crap…

That’s when it clicked.

Just because she had decided to continue on with them for the time being it did not necessarily follow that Thorin had decided to allow her to come. He’d made it very clear at the start of the journey that she was not a part of his Company, and that she’d only traveled under the protection of Gandalf.

Granted, a lot had happened over the course of the last several weeks, and she thought that perhaps they’d developed a sort of tentative friendship.

But that didn’t change the fact that he still hadn’t explicitly said she could come along. And even when they’d briefly discussed it in Rivendell he’d said he thought she would still be coming along because she was traveling with Gandalf, and the wizard wasn’t there so…   

She stood there, nervously worrying her lower lip, gazing between the double columns of dwarves leading up to their leader.

Om Namah Shivaya

Thorin looked directly back at her, eyes hooded and his face an unreadable mask for the first time in what felt like forever to Sona.

Om Namah Shivaya

She swallowed thickly. He wasn’t saying anything. Why wasn’t he saying anything? He just kept staring at her with his brilliant blue eyes, and she felt caught, unable to move.

Om Namah Shiv—

“Lose someone, Thief?” One corner of his mouth tugged upward before he glanced back toward Imladris. She swallowed hard, beginning to think this had been a big mistake. She should have never—

“Wizard’s late, but knows the way.” Then he turned around and was walking back up the path behind Balin as if nothing of consequence had happened.

“Well in that case,” Dwalin clapped her on the shoulder, welcoming her return, “we can go faster than the snail’s pace he was keeping us at.”


 

            Fíli and Kíli were ecstatic she was back. Well, Fíli seemed more excited to have Sasha back, and based on how she was leaping up on him and licking his face as if she hadn’t seen him in days instead of hours, it seemed the dog was happy to be reunited with him too.

            The other dwarves all seemed happy enough to see her too—some more than others, though all were quite welcoming.Bofur had immediately demanded a song, so she’d taught him “The Song That Never Ends”* much to nearly everyone’s horror (most especially Dori for some reason).

            They’d finally paused for a quick lunch (apparently Thorin had rousted them and gotten them out of Rivendell before they’d had a chance for a proper breakfast). And of course Sona hadn’t eaten since lunch the day prior, so she was definitely ready to stop for a bit.

            As she tore into the fruit and nut filled honey bar Arwen had thoughtfully packed her, Dwalin sat down beside her, quite obviously chewing on a thick piece of deer jerky. He eyed her elven cloak and frowned.

            “What happened to the one I gave you?”

            “Oh!” Sona stuck the fruit bar in her mouth and turned to dig in her bag. “I know it’s here somewhere.” Though it sounded more like “Ah whoa ihh here homwhere.” Finding it rolled up and tucked around David’s urn near the top, she pulled it out, and handed it back to the dwarf.

            His frown deepened and Sona had to stifle a laugh. It seemed Uncle Cranky-pants didn’t like the idea of her in an elf made cloak.

            Swallowing the bite of fruit bar, she gave him a wry smile. “Oh come on, don’t be like that. I’d feel forever guilty if I had a cloak and you didn’t. Besides,” she nudged him with her shoulder, “I don’t need another one of you guys to start calling me thief.”

            And she suddenly realized that no… no she didn’t want that at all. She didn’t want anyone but Thorin to call her thief. And that thought frightened her.

            Dwalin grumbled something about wet kittens and pretentious elves under his breath, but took the cloak back regardless.

            They ate in companionable silence for a few moments, Sona munching on her fruit bar, and Dwalin gnawing on his dried meat. The sun was high overhead, and the vista before them was stunning. Waving fields over rolling hills, with sharp mountains ringed in clouds behind them.

            “I suppose those are the Misty Mountains?” Sona said around a mouthful of food.

            Dwalin grunted his “yes” grunt and did not seem at all surprised that she’d deduced their direction of travel.

            As for Sona, well, all she could think of was a certain fellowship climbing through there majestically. Well, the soundtrack in the background was majestic in any case. She found that very few people got to have the adjective majestic applied to them anymore.

            She gave Thorin a sidelong glance.

He sat apart, as always, sharpening Orcrist and clearly impatient to be back on the road.

            Sona sighed. It seemed that whatever progress they’d made in Rivendell on their friendship had disappeared just as soon as they were traveling again. But then, he was isolating himself from everyone… just like he’d done before, so she tried not to take it too personally.

            Still, she had questions about things.

            “Dwalin?”

            “Hmm?” He continued to gnaw on his jerky.

            “If it’s not taboo to talk about… what’s the dwarf stance on widows and widowers?” Sona swallowed the last of her fruit bar, and began licking her fingers clean of the sticky honey residue. “Because you all seem to have no qualms about taking to me about just about everything… but one mention of David or anything he gave me, and you all clam up and treat me like I’ve got some horrible disease or something, or… no, that’s not quite right, what I mean is...”

            She looked at Dwalin to find him frozen in the act of chewing, panic in his eyes as he looked for a way to escape the situation.

            “That. What you’re doing right now.” She waved both her hands up and down in his direction. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. What is the deal? Would you please tell me so that I can at least stop causing awkwardness and stuff? Because if I don’t know your beliefs, how can I respect them?”

            Dwalin cast a glance toward Thorin, and Sona whipped her head over to see his response, but was too slow, because Dwalin began speaking:

            “What you have to understand, lass, is dwarves only ever have a One.”


 

A/N

*This is the song that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends…

 

You’re welcome.

Chapter Text

In the instant that you love someone

In the second that the hammer hits

Reality runs up your spine

And the pieces finally fit

And all I ever needed was the One

- Elton John


 

            “What…” Sona bit her lower lip trying to figure out how to phrase her question in a way so as to not inadvertently cause offense. She could tell this was not something easy for Dwalin to share. She’d noticed the dwarves were rather guarded and private when it came to… well just about anything about their culture or personal lives. And this was both.

“What I mean to say is, that’s not a concept or term I’m familiar with.” She repositioned herself so she was facing Dwalin and giving him her full attention. “Would it be okay for you to explain it to me? Is it all right for me to know?” She held up her hands, setting her bangles tinkling against each other. “Though I totally understand if it’s not. I promise I won’t be offended.”

Please pleeeeease tell me, Sona wanted to plead and demand all at once. But she kept her face carefully neutral. She didn’t want to put Dwalin in a more awkward spot than he already was. She was fully aware that all other conversations had ceased and the others dwarves were all carefully tuning into hers and Dwalin’s.

“Lass, I don’t know if I’m the dwarf to…” Dwalin’s eyes briefly flicked over her shoulder and then he schooled his face with a determined look. “Well it’s like this… you, you’re of the race of men.”

Sona nodded, trying not to let her impatience show.

“So, you… when you wed someone, if they then… die… you can find someone else you like just as well and marry them, yes?” He said this as if it was completely made up and ridiculous, and almost as if he was embarrassed those words were even coming from his mouth.

“Uh… kind of?” Sona pursed her lips and canted her head to the side, her long hair swishing across her back.

Ugh, so many snarls. It’s going to take forever to brush it out tonight. I should have let Arwen braid it.

“When my Dadaji married my Dadiji, she was his second wife.” Sona pulled her hair over her shoulder and began carding her fingers through it, trying to work out the worst of the knots. “His first wife died of cancer when I was only two, and he met and married my Dadiji a few years later. She’s the only grandmother I’ve ever known and I love her dearly.” She wiggled her fingers gently through her hair. “And I know my Dadaji loves her very much, but to say he felt the same for her that he felt for his first wife would be completely inaccurate.”

She frowned as her fingers got stuck in a particularly bad snarl. “Now that’s not to say he loved one more or less than the other. Just that each relationship was completely different and you can’t really compare them at all. That wouldn’t be fair for starters—because how can someone compare to a memory?” She shrugged. “And, well, I could go on, but I’d rather hear about this concept of Ones.” Sona thought it would be best not to mention divorce and the frequency of it, particularly in California.

“Er… well…” Dwalin seemed at a loss as to how to continue after her confirmation of the “ludicrous” concept he’d parroted at her. He’d clearly not expected that. “It is not like that for dwarves. Most of us never wed. Or, rather, you could say we are wedded to our work. We are very passionate about our craft, and that is often everything for us.”

At a throat clearing and stern look from Balin, Dwalin quickly amended, “Apart from existing family and close friends, of course.”

“Of course.” Sona nodded, encouraging him to keep going.

“And then…” He let out a frustrated sigh. “Look, why don’t Gloin or Bombur tell you? They actually have Ones! All I know is what I was forced to learn in a book when I was naught but a dwarfling.” He tossed the rest of his jerky toward Sasha, who bounded from her place at Fíli’s side to eagerly gobble it up.

“Yer doin’ fine!” Gloin’s thick brogue came from Sona’s right.

“Yes, please tell us all about it, Dwalin!” Bombur called from her left.

Sona forced herself to suppress a grin, and used the moment to pull her blue Camelback straw forward and suck down a sip of water. She tried not to dwell on the fact that Thorin was not mentioned as someone who had a One…

“I hate the lot of you,” Dwalin grumbled. “Very well.” He crossed his arms over his chest and looked back at Sona. “I don’t have a One. I don’t understand how it works, but what the books say is that you feel a pull to someone and then you can choose.”

“You choose?” Sona scrunched up her nose as she considered his words. “Like… there are a few possible Ones and then you pick one?”

“No… there is only one, that’s why it’s a ONE.”

Sona just stared at him, confused.

Dwalin blew out a breath of frustration. “I don’t know how it happens, but you feel a pull, and then if you choose, that person becomes your One, and there is never another. That is it. Do you understand?”

“I guess?” She took another sip of water and remembered the looks of pity on their faces when they found out about David. “Oh… Ohhhhhh… I think I get it? At least a little.” She leaned forward, putting her elbows on her knees, and cupping her face in her hands. “So, you think I’ve lost my One… and because of that I’m doomed to a life of loneliness and feeling empty?”

Dwalin nodded while rocking his head side to side, as if to say she was close enough.

“Well… yes, I was very sad when David died.” Sona had lain in bed for weeks, numb and unfeeling, and only left when her sister, Priya, had finally forced her. “Sometimes I do get caught up in melancholy moments when I think about who I’ve lost… who the world’s lost. Because David was wonderful.”

Dwalin shifted awkwardly, glancing away, so Sona moved from discussing David specifically. “But… I think I have a very different belief system. As a Hindu, I believe in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. Souls are immortal and imperishable… and… I could go into a lot more detail, but maybe that’s best saved for another conversation.” She sat up straight. “But the important thing to know is that because of that, death, to me, is not the end of all, but a natural process in existence.” She pushed her hair back over her shoulders, feeling its weight once more against her back.

“It still hurts, yeah.” David’s death was like an old wound to Sona; a dull and aching pain to her heart, especially when prodded. Not sharp and hot and all consuming like it had been at first.

“I miss David…” Point in fact, Sona missed him quite deeply. He had been her best friend and first love. Sona sighed quietly. She could have spent her entire lifetime with him happy and content. He understood her artistic nature and always made her laugh, managing to pull her out of her shell and shyness toward others. He was so loud and boisterous and out-going… they could not have been more different in personality and nature, and yet, so completely complimentary.

“…and a part of me will always love him, but he has moved onto his next life. It’s well past time for me to live the rest of mine.”

Sona stood up, dusting off her bottom. “So along those lines, I refuse to be identified by the fact that I’m a widow.” She’d hated the way all her friends and extended family had treated her differently after David died. As if she was damaged. As if she was some piteous creature doomed to a life of sorrow. ‘Widowed so young. It’s not right.’ No, it wasn’t right.

But that’s life.

“That’s an aspect of who I am, yes. But it doesn’t define me or control my happiness. I’ve dated plenty since David’s passing.” She hefted her pack onto her back. “Just haven’t met the right one. Maybe I never will.” She started back up the trail, not caring if Dwalin or the others could hear her or not. She needed to move. “But I can promise you, I’m certainly not spending the rest of my life feeling lonely and sorry for myself.”

 


 

A/N

As always, thank you for the kudos and comments. <3

Chapter Text

 

We can never go home

We no longer have one

I'll help you carry the load

I'll carry you in my arms

- No sound but the Wind, Editors


 

Om Namah Shivaya.

            Swearing under her breath, Sona tugged at the massive snarl her hair bush was stuck in.

            Om Namah Shivaya.

            The cool night air blew against her heated cheeks and dried the tears that trailed slowly down them.

            Om Namah Shivaya.

            She sat alone for her habitual grooming and thinking time a little ways up the trail apart from the rest of the camp. The grass beneath her was soft, the vista before her was stunning beneath the starlit sky, and yet…

Om Namah Shivaya.

            Why wasn’t her mantra working? Sona yanked her brush out, taking a clump of hair with it, and threw it against the nearest tree. It thunked against the trunk loudly and then fell to the ground while Sona buried her face in her hands suppressing a frustrated scream.

            “A comb may serve you better?”

            Sona sprang to her feet and whirled, heart racing.

            Thorin stood before her holding out the same wide toothed comb she’d seen next to the rest of his possessions when she’d first happened on his camp all those long weeks ago. Or had it been over a month now?

             “Âkmînruk zu.” She took the wooden comb, her fingers feeling the smooth teeth and carved spine. Keeping her head down, embarrassed by how obvious it was that she’d been crying, she turned around and gathered her hair back over her shoulder.

            “You have been gone a long while.”

            Sona’s hands stilled as he spoke, then she shrugged, a tiny, nearly imperceptible movement of her shoulders, unsure of how else to respond. This was the first time Thorin had ever come to get her from her nightly ritual, and she didn’t know what that meant.

            Was he the only one that didn’t see her as “damaged goods” after everything she’d broadcast to the entire Company that afternoon? Or did he just pity her even more than before?

            Was Dwalin upset with her for pushing the whole widow discussion?

Surely not.

And yet… everyone had kept their distance for the rest of the day. Not that she’d been all that approachable. She’d been in a foul mood since that talk… and the worst part is it had absolutely nothing to do with David or being away from home or anything like that all.

            Sona sat back down on the ground and sighed. Thorin was still there, behind her. Aside from the fact that she hadn’t heard him leave, a small gust of wind carried his scent on the air and she sighed again. At least the smell of cardamom still had a calming effect on her; even if it seemed her mantra no longer seemed to.

            “So tell me, are elves always this annoying?” She set the teeth of the comb against the knots gathered at the ends of her hair and slowly began working through them.

            “No.” Thorin said to her right as he moved in the direction she'd thrown her hairbrush. “Though I do not know what they have done, I can assure you they are generally more so.” He then sat down beside her—though left enough room that Bombur could have comfortably sat between them—and set her brush near her.

            Sona gave an un-amused chuckle. “I believe it.” She moved the comb up a few inches, having finally detangled the ends. “Wizards aren’t much better for that matter.”

            Thorin snorted before feeling inside his coat and pulling his pipe out, and Sona snuck a peek at his face, all bemusement. She’d never heard that particular sound come out of him before, and decided she liked it.

            He should laugh more.

            “It’s just so incredibly frustrating, you know?” Sona watched as he expertly lit his pipe with bronze lighter that matched the scales of his armor. Though she’d never seen it, she’d assumed he had a pipe, since a) it seemed just about every male in Middle Earth had one and b) aside from cardamom and pine, the sweet scent of tobacco was mixed in with the scent she firmly identified as Thorin.

            She took in the slight quirk to his lips as he packed the bowl, lit it, tamped, and lit it again, until a steady stream of smoke rose from his mouth. Then, pipe lit, he held the bowl and kept the end pressed to his lower lip, his upper lip closing over it as he drew smoke––

Stop staring at his lips, Sona. Oh my gosh, what are you, a twelve year old girl?

            She jerked her eyes away and focused back on her own hands. “You’d think the supposed greatest and wisest minds of Middle Earth would listen when someone tried to tell them about a great danger that threatens pretty much, oh I don’t know, EVERYONE.” Sona moved farther up her hair, Thorin’s comb doing wonders at separating and smoothing the tough snarls. “But no, it is not for the mortal human to tell them of what is to come.” She gave a disgusted “ugh” to punctuate her words.

            “Lord Elrond dismissed your concerns?” He blew out a light stream of smoke and Sona had to resist the urge to tell him to knock that off, that smoking was terrible for you, that…

            You’re staring at his mouth again, idiot.

            She hissed as she tugged too hard against a particularly tough snarl. “No. No he did not. He would have had to actually meet with me in order for that to happen.” Sona snuck a sidelong glance at Thorin. His expression hadn’t changed, but there was a tightness in around the corner of his eye and mouth that hadn’t been there before.

She didn’t know if it was because he was upset with her for seeking an elf for help, or if it was because said elf blew her off.

“It was the Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien.” Sona was nearing her scalp now, the worst of the tangles combed out. “And she, above all people, I thought would want to listen to my warning. But no, all she had to say was a super cryptic and unhelpful ‘you may go home once you’ve found who you are looking for’.

She paused, realizing that even Galadriel was not infallible. At least, not in Sona’s eyes anymore. And the thought made her sad. It was not as if one of her heroes had fallen from their pedestal… just that Sona realized there was no pedestal to begin with. And that for all of Galadriel’s wonderful qualities she was still a living, breathing, thinking, fallible person with blood running through her veins, same as Sona.

“And like… what does that even mean?” Sona tugged out the last of her snarls, probably rougher than she should have. “I find this person I’m meant to be looking for—she didn’t even bother to tell me who it was, by the way, though I think I have a good idea—and then what? She sends me back to SoCal? Do I just say ‘here I am! Found him! Now send me back’?”

Thorin took another puff from his pipe, and angled his head toward her, letting his gaze rest on Sona, giving her his full attention.

“It’s just, here I am trying to help them save all Middle Earth from a fate worse than complete destruction and just…” She clutched his comb tightly in her hands as she bit back a frustrated scream. “I’m not even supposed to be here! Bilbo is! He is supposed be on this quest. He is supposed to meet Gollum. He is supposed to find the Ring. And he’s not here, and now I guess I have to do it and I don’t even know where to start or where this all happened, and I’m going to ruin everything, and everyone in all of Arda is going to die or be enslaved and tortured and it’s just going to be absolutely awful, and it’s all going to be my fault, and—”

Thorin’s hand was in front of her face, his blue handkerchief offered toward her. It was then that Sona realized she was crying again. She heaved a shuddering breath as she took the cloth and dabbed at her eyes, mortified. She’d cried more in the past month than she’d done in the past few years combined. 

“What ring?” His voice was carefully neutral and quiet. Too quiet.

Sona froze.

Crap.

She’d mentioned the Ring.

Bad enough that she’d mentioned Gollum, but to so casually throw out THE Ring as well… and Thorin had to know all about rings of power. Shoot, he probably had one of his own being the heir and all.

Sona bit her lower lip, considering how to answer him. What could she say? Should she trust him? Could she trust him? Elrond mentioned a madness in his family.

And just then a memory of something called gold sickness… or was it called dragon sickness? Sona once again cursed herself for not paying closer attention to The Hobbit.

She looked down at her hands. At the comb he’d loaned her held in one, and the handkerchief lovingly embroidered by his sister in the other.

He’s kind. And he cares. And… I trust him.

“It all began with the forging of the Great Rings,” Sona recited, doing her best not to butcher Galadriel’s words. “Three were given to the Elves; immortal…” She decided to leave off the rest of that description given her audience. “Seven, to the Dwarf Lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else desire power. For within these rings was bound the strength and the will to govern over each race. But they were all of them deceived.”

She paused as Thorin muttered something fiercely in Khuzdûl as he smoothly got to his feet, leaving his still smoking pipe on the ground. He knew where this was going. He had to.

“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 all others.”

Thorin was standing before her now, and she focused on his metal tipped boots. She would never get through the rest of this if she looked him in the face. As it was she could feel the weight of his stare bearing down on her like a hammer to a forge.

“And into this Ring he poured all his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life.”

Sona finally forced herself to turn her head upward and meet Thorin’s piercing blue eyes.

“One Ring to rule them all.”

Chapter Text

A/N: I know I'm terrible leaving you on such a cliffhanger... Sorry not sorry. ;)


Mine's a tale that can't be told, my freedom I hold dear.

How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.

T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.

But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her....yeah.

            -Ramble On, Led Zeppelin


 

            Thorin stared down at her, his face incredulous, his eyes pleading with her to be wrong.

            “One Ring to find them.” Sona’s voice was barely above a whisper as she struggled to get the words out. “One Ring to bring them all…”

            “…and in the darkness bind them,” Thorin finished.

            They stared at each other, Sona’s breath growing more shallow under the intensity of his gaze.

            “You are certain.”

            Sona gave a jerky nod, her throat dry and unable to speak.

            He closed his eyes, and let out a quiet sigh as he turned away and began pacing.

            “That ring was lost to the ages.” He pressed a fist to his mouth as he methodically paced back and forth in front of Sona.

            “It was found.” Her voice came out as a croak, and she drew her knees in, hugging them tightly to her chest as a chill passed through her.

            The Ring of Power. The ONE RING.

            Sona started shaking, powerless to stop as panic seized her and she swallowed back a gasping sob.

            Everyone’s going to burn and I can’t stop it. Everything is wrong and I can’t fix it. It’s all my fault—

            She stilled as the weight of Thorin’s hand settled on her shoulder, and she looked over to see him crouched down at her level.

            “That you did not tell me sooner is my failing.” The corners of his eyes were crinkled with concern as he searched her panicked face. “On our first meeting I was deaf to your concerns, blind to your need to share them, and numb to your request for help. In these ways I taught you not to trust me. For this I am sorry.” The earnestness of his gaze, and the rumbling cadence of his voice calmed Sona as he continued. “I ask that you believe me now: I hear, I see.” He paused, as if weighing his words carefully. “You are not alone. This burden is not only yours to bear.”

Thorin removed his hand from Sona’s shoulder as he stood back up, and she immediately felt the loss of its warmth. But then he extended it toward her and gently pulled her to her feet. “The Ring must be found. By Mahal, I will help you.”

Sona stared at him, stunned by his words. She had not expected an apology—she had stolen from him after all, not to mention she thought they had moved well past their rough start (apart from him calling her Thief, which she found she rather liked, much to her discomfort upon discovery of that particular feeling). She had most certainly not expected him to pledge himself to helping her find the Ring.

But here he was, staring back her earnestly, his blue eyes almost pleading with her to believe him, and she wanted to. She so desperately wanted to, and yet—

“And then what?” Apprehension coated her voice. Why was he so willing to help her now and not before? What had changed?

Gold sickness. What if he wants the ring for himself? No! Don’t be silly! Look at his eyes. He means it. He wants to help you. Even at the expense of his own priorities…

“That is for you to decide.” He released her hand as if sensing her doubt and she had to stop herself from immediately grabbing it back. There was strength in his hold.

 “It has to be destroyed.” She tried not to think about everything that would not happen if she took the ring to Mordor instead of Frodo. Oh my gosh, am I really considering this? I must be insane.

There would be no Fellowship. The hobbits would never leave the shire. Gimli and Legolas would never meet, and that was tragic in and of itself. Gandalf would never go through fire and death to emerge as the White Wizard. Éowyn would never have her “I am no man” moment and slay the Witchking. And Aragorn, would he ever take up his crown? And Arwen… Sona’s heart nearly broke thinking of her fate if he did not.

But maybe then Boromir will live. Silver linings, I suppose.

“First we need to find it.” Thorin began pacing again, faster than before, hands clasped behind his back as he peppered her with questions. “Do you recall the Ring's location? Where we might start our search? Who might have it? Anything?”

Sona blinked in surprise. The way he took charge of the situation… he was clearly used to command, to planning… to fixing things. And it was all so sudden, though not unwelcome.

He was before her again, his eyes intense as he thought through everything that would need to be done. Strategizing.

“You mentioned Gollum?” He frowned, the corners of his lips ticking down only slightly if considering the name. “Would this…Gollum know where it is?”

            Sona let out a shuddering breath and closed her eyes as she recalled the rest of Galadriel’s prologue; for once grateful that the hours she spent in college (when she should have been studying) memorizing it hadn’t been a complete waste of time.

            “History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, the ring ensnared a new bearer.” She cracked her eyes open and peeked at Thorin. He was, thankfully, no longer looking at her. Standing a few feet away, he had his back to her, strong and firm as the mountains looming before them.

“The ring came to the creature Gollum, who took it deep into the tunnels under the Misty Mountains…” He stiffened but Sona pressed on. “…and there it consumed him.”

All was quiet. No birds. No crickets. None of the normal night sounds. It was as if nature itself could sense the seriousness of the moment.

Thorin nodded, his hair sliding over the fur of his coat.

“We begin our search now. I will wake the others.”

He turned and was nearly off when Sona stopped him with a hand to his arm. “No, wait!”

He stared at her hand and she quickly removed it, wondering if she’d once again committed some sort of dwarvish faux pas.

“The Misty Mountains stand before us.” His hand swept toward them. “Why wait?”

“We can’t tell the others… you have to promise me you won’t.”

He blinked, clearly surprised. “Why not? We will find it much faster with all of us searching.” His eyes softened. “You can trust them. You know this, yes?”

“Of course I do!” Sona shook her head. “It’s not that. I just… I don’t want to expose them—or you for that matter—to this.” She turned away from him, crossing her arms over her chest, trying to hold herself together. “The Ring is evil. It has destroyed everyone who has ever come into contact with it. I can’t do that to any of you. Promise me you won’t tell them. Please”

“I must tell them something. But I will not name the Ring.” He paused, as if to let that sink in. “And I will not let you go alone.”

            She turned, once again shaking her head. “But what about Erebor?” She worried her lower lip. “You can’t just set everything aside… the hopes and dreams of your people… their very future, just to help me with some crazy quest for what is the singular most evil object in all of creation. You’re likely to get yourself killed, and then where will your people be?” Sona swallowed, feeling a shiver roll through her. Thorin dying… no. Her mind immediately rejected the thought.

“This…singular harness for evil. It is why I must go with you.” Thorin shook his head, the braids before his ears bushing across the front of his shoulders. “It is the greater danger. It must be checked, or no home will be safe from fire, not even the wandering kind.” He gave a rueful smile at the last bit.

            “But… but there is still time.” Sona stepped forward, hand out, and then quickly dropped it, remembering what had happened the last time she’d touched him. “Fifty years at least, if not sixty.” She tapped her lips, considering. “Why not retake Erebor first? Rebuild your strength and reunite the dwarves. Gandalf said Erebor would be important strategically, and I think he means…” Sona’s words died as she remembered a small detail from when she’d read The Lord of the Rings.

            Or was it from fanfic? She nearly groaned in frustration.

            But given what the wizard had hinted at, Erebor would be important, and as far as she could remember had indeed been important during the War of the Ring. And Dáin … she remembered now, Dáin, Thorin’s cousin, had perished in that battle. But Erebor had remained strong against an army of Sauron’s Easterlings.

            Ironic, Sona thought with a grimace, remembering how Thorin had mistaken her for an Easterling upon her arrival. Though, that brought to mind, why could she not recall Thorin in that battle?

            “The Wizard?” Thorin prompted. “You think he means…what?”

            Sona blinked and tried to recall the threads of the conversation. “Uh… just that Erebor is going to be very important.”

            “Perhaps.”His head angled as if in doubt. “But there is risk to leave this to chance, for it to be found by others. Those mountains are full of Orcs.”

But Sona was already shaking her head before he’d finished. “Gollum… he—” She bit her lip and looked away toward the mountain. “It… won't be found until we look for it.”

“Very well,” he nodded, clearly perceiving that she hadn't fully disclosed all she knew, doubt still riddling his face. “We restore Erebor first.” His electric blue eyes bore into hers. “And then we find it.”

 

            Sona nodded, refusing to meet his gaze, not trusting her eyes to not betray her.

She couldn’t expose him to the evil of the Ring. Though she knew she couldn’t destroy it alone either. Perhaps after Erebor was restored Gandalf would be more reasonable and actually willing to help her.

            “Thus agreed,” he spoke again, interrupting her thoughts. “I must formally ask: Will you join my Company?”

            Sona jerked her head back toward him. “Are you sure?”

            A soft smile played at the corners of Thorin’s mouth. "I would not have otherwise offered."

            She held out her hand toward him and he stared at it for a moment as if unsure of what to do with it. Just as she was going to drop it, embarrassed, he held his out the same way; palm facing hers, but not touching. She grasped his hand in hers giving it a firm shake.

“I accept.”


 

            They walked back to the camp together, not talking, which was perfectly fine with Sona. She found she enjoyed her quiet moments with Thorin. Plus, not to mention how emotionally wrung out she felt and in general completely exhausted. She hadn’t slept since the day prior and they’d covered many miles.

            All she wanted to do was collapse on top of her sleeping bag and sleep for at least a year. They rounded bend in the path and there, to one side, were nearly a dozen dwarves snoring away.

            Music to my ears, Sona thought with a tired smile.

            Balin and Dwalin sat around a low burning campfire smoking pipes and were holding a quiet conversation, though it ceased when she and Thorin entered the camp.

            Dwalin could immediately tell something was wrong and rose to his feet. Sona held up a hand and shook her head, giving him a brief smile. He sat back down slowly, though did not seem too pleased about it.

            Uncle Cranky-Pants is not gonna let this go, is he?

            She searched for Sasha and found her curled up in a ball sleeping against Fíli’s chest, who, in turn, had Kíli right next to him, his brother’s arm slung over his face.

            How in the world is that comfortable for either of them?

            Someone had thoughtfully set out her sleeping mat and bag on the other side of Sasha, and Sona gave a quiet sigh of relief. She was just about to reach down and pull off her boots when she realized she still had Thorin’s comb and handkerchief.

            “Thorin,” she whispered, not wanting to wake the others. Though, as hard as dwarves seemed to sleep, she did not think that would be a problem.

            He paused in the act of sitting down next to Dwalin and straightened as she approached, holding out his comb.

            “Âkmînruk zu.” She gave him a soft smile. “And if you don’t mind, I’m going to hang onto your hanky for a bit… I’d like to wash it before I give it back. Unless you don’t mind my bogeys smeared all over it…”

            Thorin chuckled quietly, the laughter sounding more like a deep rumble in his chest, as he took back his comb and left the cloth in her hands. “As you wish, Thief.”

            And so it was that when Sona returned to her sleeping bag with a rather large smile on her face, she realized two things:

            One: that this was the first time she was sleeping as a part of the Company. Not on bunking on the outskirts of the camp, barely tolerated.

            And two: all this time she had thought no one in Middle Earth would listen to her. When the reality was she just hadn’t tried telling the right person before now.


 

A/N: My schedule is now such that I definitely won't be able to post more than once a week for a very long while... perhaps until the end of this story (which, don't worry, is a long ways out. We aren't even a1/3 done yet!). So that said keep an eye out for SorinSunday updates. See you then!

Chapter Text

“Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams,

And you know, we're on each other's team”

            -Lorde


 

            The delightful spicy smell of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves hit Sona’s nose and she felt herself smile even before she was fully awake.

            Best smell in the world.

            She inhaled deeply through her nose and blinked her eyes open to the sight of a beaten bronze mug full of creamy chai—or rather, the closest approximation she’d been able to come up with using the ingredients in the elves had in Rivendell.

She rolled onto her side before pushing herself up into a seated position, and looked around. Bombur was a few steps away, walking back toward the cook fire, but paused when he heard her move.

“Bombur, did you…?”

He nodded a broad grin splitting his face.

“But how…?” Her brain still felt foggy from the emotional upheaval of the night before, and she was not yet fully awake enough to make sentence apparently.

The rotund dwarf shrugged. “I know what food makes everyone happy. Dori likes a good smoked salmon. Gloin loves biscuits with chocolate bits. Kíli will eat anything I put in front of him, and my honey glazed scones always put a smile on Thorin’s face.”

Sona felt blush heat her cheeks, touched that he’d not only noticed her favorite beverage, but had also taken the time to learn how to make it. She pushed her mussed hair out of her face, and reached over to pick up the mug and take a quick sip of the chai.

“It’s perfect. Âkmînruk zu, Bombur.”

The dwarf’s eyebrows shot up, seemingly surprised that she’d spoken in Khuzdul, but then his grin broadened. “Yamal, a pleasure, my lady.”

It was only once he was walking away that Sona realized how odd it was that he’d had the ingredients to make her chai. She certainly didn’t recall the dwarves having it on them prior to Rivendell, which could only mean…

But how had he known she would come? She hadn’t even known she would come until she was running out the door after them. 

The others dwarves were slowly rousing themselves, and Sona had just reached for her bag to pull out her washcloth and lavender soap (ni ‘lassui, Arwen) when Balin sat down next to her, a thick piece of folded parchment in one hand, quill and ink pot in the other.

“Good morning, Lady Sona.” The white haired dwarf, beamed at her. “I trust you slept well.”

“I did, thank you.” She extended her arms over her head and stretched, feeling the muscles in her back practically sigh with happiness.

I need to get back to doing my daily sun salutations. “But please, it’s just Sona.”

“As you wish, Sona.” He nodded and handed the parchment out to her. “Here’s your contract, lass. Please look it over, and if everything is to your liking, sign it and return it to me, and all will be in order.”

She took it, and he smiled at her again before getting back to his feet and walking to the cook fire to get his breakfast.

Sona took a sip of her chai and nearly spit it out when the parchment fell open, revealing pages upon pages of tiny scrawled legal details.

She heaved a sigh and began reading.


 

“Balin?”

The advisor paused in the midst of biting into a forkful of eggs, potatoes, and sausage.

“Oh, I'm sorry, I can talk to you later—I didn't mean to interrupt your breakfast.” Sona turned to leave but found her way blocked by Bombur who held out a bowl of honey and berry sweetened porridge to her. She thanked him, once again touched that he'd made her a special meal, and sat down next to Balin who’d scooted over on his log to make room for her.

“Now's as good a time as any, Sona.” He swallowed another bite of his food before setting the bowl aside, and took the contract she held out to him. Just then Thorin came to sit on the other side of Balin.

Sona’s food immediately captured all of her attention. She took a bite of the porridge and gave Bombur a thumbs up and closed mouth smile. He'd sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and cardamom on the top and it tasted divine.

“Let's take a look here...” Balin flipped to the bottom of the contract and frowned. “You... didn't sign it.”

Thirteen sets of eyes fixed on Sona, and she fastidiously kept her own trained on her food. She most definitely was not looking at a certain company leader she could see stiffen on the other side of Balin.

“Yeah, about that... there are just some things I wanted clarified first.” She took another bite of her food.

“Such as?”

“Well, for starters… There’s the subject of what exactly my role in this company is going to be.”

Balin gave her a confused look, cocking one bushy white eyebrow. “I thought it was very clear.”

“Okay, well maybe there clarity isn’t exactly the issue, that said…” She leaned over his shoulder and read aloud: “The Lady Sona Anand Jones, who, acting as this Company’s minstrel in waiting, resident pacifist, vegetarian facilitator, erstwhile diplomat, and sometime thief, shall, upon completion of said duties…”

Her voice trailed off and she gave him an un-amused expression, pursed lips and all. “I’m supposed to do all these things?”

“It is my understanding that you already do.” Balin canted his head to the side and looked at her expectantly.

“Uhhh…”

“Is there anything else about the contract we need to clarify?”

“Well...” Sona, blinked, shifting to the next, less cheerful subject. “Here where it mentions funeral arrangements, I just wanted to make sure that if I do, you know...” She bit her spoon trying to sort out how to explain what she wanted in the event of her death. It felt weird to even be discussing this so candidly, but she knew it was a very realistic possibility. Especially with the Ring involved. But she'd gathered enough about dwarves in general and the manner of their horrific departure from Erebor that she knew they would not likely receive her request all that well. “You know what, never mind. It's fine. It doesn't matter—”

“Balin,” Thorin smoothly interrupted, “please make an addendum for the proper Hindu death rites and cremation to be observed.”

Sona's mouth opened and then closed as she struggled to put into words her gratitude for his understanding. The other dwarves all continued to blatantly stare and listen in on the conversation, food forgotten (except for Kíli). A mixture of surprise (Dori, Nori, Oin, and Gloin), smugness (Fíli, Bombur, Bifur, and Bofur), and general confusion (Ori and Kíli) over what was going on spread across their faces. Kíli leaned over and whispered something to Fíli, and his brother quickly quieted him with a murmured reply.

“Aye, that's easy enough.” Balin began scrawling on the contract—after a brief glance to Thorin—making the necessary adjustments. “Anything else, Sona?”

“Um, yes.” She took another bite of her breakfast, not wanting it to go to waste. Bombur truly had a gift. “While we're on that subject, I just wanted to make sure if anything happens to me that Sasha is taken care of.”

The lab immediately perked up from her place at where she lay at Fíli’s feet and gave Sona a soft whine.

“Don't worry, Lady Sona, nothing will happen to you,” Kíli said around a mouth full of food. “You'll be fine! We'll be with you.”

Sona gave him a half smile loving his enthusiasm but also knowing that these sorts of things needed to be arranged. This was all very real.

“I know, Kíli, and that makes me feel about a million times more comfortable about doing this.” She set aside her now empty bowl and bit her lower lip. How could she say this without making them all clam up and look at her weird?

“I just… it’s just that… well, you never know what’s going to happen.” Usually. She pushed her knowledge of the War for the Ring out of her mind. “The thing is… anyone of us could die at any time. You never know. You could kiss someone goodbye and tell them to have fun at the beach, and then…” Sona’s words trailed off and she felt a tightness building in her chest. Her breaths shallowed, and she squeezed her eyes shut.

She felt a familiar weight in her lap and heard Sasha’s whistling whine. The lab had moved to her side and set her head on Sona’s legs. She stared up at Sona with dark, loving eyes, her tail swishing back and forth slowly. Sona scratched behind the dog’s ears, calming immediately.

“Sasha’s my… well she’s family to me. And I know maybe that’s silly to all of you…” She could see Fíli shaking his head across from her… clearly he understood the sentiment. “…but I have to know she’ll be looked after.”

Sona snuck a peek around at all the gathered dwarves, fully expecting to see them all staring at her piteously again. As if she was damaged. Not whole. Perhaps even a little crazy.

But as she looked around she saw… none of that. Sure, they were all somber and reserved after what she’d said… who wouldn’t be? But somehow their entire demeanor toward her had shifted. She had a hard time putting it into words, but they were not looking at her as if she was broken. If anything, support and understanding seemed to exude from the nods and gentle half smiles and kind expressions aimed her way.

Dwalin’s hand alighted on her shoulder, and she tentatively looked up at the fierce dwarf. “Don’t worry, Whatsafist—”

“—Pacifist—”

“We’ll look after your beastie.”


 

A/N

Thank you all so much for your comments & kudos! They give me wings! <3

Chapter Text

 

And I would go to the ends of the earth

'Cause, darling, to me that's what you're worth

Where you lead, I will follow

- Carol King


 

            After that moment, where the dwarves no longer looked and treated her as if she was damaged somehow, Sona felt somewhat at peace with her current situation.

            She had not changed—she was still a widow (and she fully realized that to most dwarves, she would always be viewed with a measure of sadness and pity)—but rather, the Company’s understanding and acceptance of her had changed.

Additionally, there was no ignoring the fact that the Ring was out there, and that she felt the weight of the future of Middle Earth on her shoulders, but… she felt herself smile as she looked up the path at Thorin, leading the way.

            She was no longer alone in her burden.

Sona adjusted her pack; careful to make sure Dwalin wasn’t watching. They’d been walking for the better part of the day, only breaking for a quick lunch, and he’d already tried to take her pack twice, getting progressively grumpier every time she’d demurred.

Uncle Cranky-pants indeed.

“Hmmm? I’m sorry, Balin, what was that?” She realized the advisor had stopped talking, as if he was waiting for a response from her. He’d spent the bulk of the day walking along side of her, explaining the ins and outs of the contract to her (though she’d already signed it), and dwarven legal code, and she’d actually found it quite fascinating (though most of the other dwarves had distanced themselves as soon as Balin touched on the subject).

That is until I got distracted by Thorin.

Sona felt herself flush and nearly missed when Balin repeated himself.

“…just saying that most dwarf common law roots can be traced back to our days in Moria.”

“Khazad-dûm,” Sona corrected without thinking, and Balin’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

“Aye, Sona, so it is.” A slow smile crossed his face as he glanced toward Thorin, a few paces in front of them. “I have oft thought that perhaps after we re-take the Lonely Mountain, we could turn our attention to one of our first homes, and restore it.”

The hair on the back of Sona’s neck prickled.

“Oin and I have talked of it, and…”

Balin kept speaking but his voice faded into the background as a memory of Gandalf reading runes off a white slab took precedence in Sona’s mind.

"Here lies Balin, son of Fudin, Lord of Moria."

            “No,” she gasped, realizing now why his name had sounded so familiar when she first met him.

            “Pardon?” Balin looked at her in confusion.

            “I…” Sona swallowed. “I just don’t think… it’s just not a good idea, okay? You have no way of knowing what’s there now. For all you know it’s still overrun by goblins. Or worse.” She muttered the last bit under her breath, burning to tell the dwarf what she knew. But Gandalf’s warning about not revealing her foreknowledge blared at the forefront of her mind, so she held her tongue.

            Balin, seemingly completely confused at the turn of their conversation glanced from Sona to Thorin, and then back again.

            It was only then that Sona realized that Thorin, though not participating in the conversation, was most definitely listening. 

            She met Thorin’s questioning gaze and gave her head a single shake, hoping he could read the sadness in her eyes and tightness of her lips.

            He nodded and tuned back around, leading them toward the foothills of the Misty Mountains, and Sona felt her heart ease some.

            Balin and the others would not perish in Moria. At least, not if Thorin Oakenshield had any say in the matter.


 

            “I hit the rowdy road…” Sona sang, as she strummed her guitar. “And many kinds I met there…” She paused, working through the chord progression. “There… there… Can I use ‘there’ again? Hmmmm… And many stories told me on the way to get there…

            She smiled. “Yes, that works.” Sona took a deep breath of the crisp evening air and stretched her hands high overhead. She then bent over to begin strumming again when Kíli plopped down next to her, leaning back on his elbows.

            “Good evening, my lady.” He grinned up at her through his fringe and Sona just rolled her eyes as a smirk tugged at her lips. He just would not give it up with the “my ladies.”

            “Good evening, my little prince.”

            If she thought that would bother him in the slightest, she was mistaken.

His grin got even wider, if that was possible. “What are you doing?”

            She gave him a bemused smile and indicated her instrument

            “Well obviously I can tell you’re playing your guitar.” He gave her an exasperated look, and Sona could definitely see his uncle in his features in that moment. “It sounded like you were working on a song. Are you writing one?”

            “Yep.”

            “Can I hear it?”

            “Nope.”

            He looked like a wounded puppy at her swift response and Sona softened.

            “I’m sorry Kíli… I’m just super protective of my music until it’s ready for others to hear. I promise I’ll play it for you when I’m finished.” She plucked a few discordant notes on her guitar. “It’s just that I don’t write many songs—most of what I play are covers with my own arrangements. But this song… this one is turning out to be a lot more personal than I thought it was going to be.”

            He nodded, seeming to understand. Or at least trying to.

            “So that’s why you go off alone every night?”

            “A little bit.” Sona worried her lower lip, thinking. “I also… well, I just need a little bit of alone time every day. It’s how I recharge. I love people… but usually at a distance. I often find crowds overwhelming. The fact that I feel so comfortable being around all of you so much… well, that’s not normal for me.” She shrugged, feeling a little awkward over sharing this with him, but found that she trusted him, and wanted him to know how much she enjoyed his company. She couldn’t stand seeing him sad. “Anyways… how about if I play you something?”

            Kíli sat up. “Would you really?” His eyes sparkled with excitement.

            “Of course! Anything you’d like. Though,” she paused, considering, “it would probably be best if you just picked a genre since it’s very unlikely we know any of the same songs.” Except for the first one I heard you guys singing that fateful night in The Shire. But she was not about to play that one. It was… special to them. She instinctually knew that. And she did not feel she had any right to it.

            The young dwarf looked over his shoulder, verifying they were alone, and then shyly looked back up at Sona.

            “Could you... could you maybe play something about…” He trailed off, blushing beat red.

            “I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite hear that last bit, Kíli.”

            He mumbled again, and Sona strained to hear what he was saying, not wanting to embarrass the dwarf more.

            “Love,” he hissed.

            “Oh!” Sona smiled. “Well that’s easy. I know a lot of songs about love. I guess it just depends on what kind of love you mean. Brotherly? Friendship? Romantic?”

            His blush deepened at her last suggestion and he gave a tiny nod, refusing to look her in the eyes.

            “Why, my little prince, who knew such a fierce warrior was also a hopeless romantic?”

            “I’m leaving now. Please pretend this never happened.” He went to get to his feet, and Sona, stifling laughter, tugged him back down beside her.

            “I think it’s wonderful.” She beamed at him, his grumpy expression making him look so much like his uncle, before strumming a few chords to ensure her guitar was still in tune. “And I believe I have just the song for you. Though, be warned, this sounds better on a piano.”

            He seemed confused over what a piano was, but shrugged, and so, Sona began:

What would I do without your smart mouth?Drawing me in, and you kicking me out. You've got my head spinning, no kidding, I can't pin you down…

Kíli lay back against the grass, arms tucked behind his head while she sang through the various lyrics.

“…'Cause all of me, loves all of you… Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections…

A soft smile settled on the young dwarf’s face as he closed his eyes, absorbing the song.

“…You're my end and my beginning, even when I lose I'm winning…

Sona’s heart felt light at Kíli’s reaction. This… this was why she loved to play for others. Watching them become moved by a song she was singing, one she picked for them.

“…The world is beating you down, I'm around through every mood…”

Seeing someone like Kíli having a musical moment… it was so personal, and yet, she was a part of it.

It made her happy.

You're my downfall, you're my muse. My worst distraction...

Watching Kíli, Sona’s thoughts drifted to someone else of their own accord. Someone she imagined was perhaps very much like Kíli when he was younger.

I can't stop singing, it's ringing, in my head for you.”

She looked back down at the young dwarf, at his relaxed and peaceful smile, and she felt her heart ache a little. Had Thorin ever felt that peace?

'Cause I give you all of me…

She realized she’d seen that look once, very briefly, on his face. In the fraction of a second she saw him playing the harp in Rivendell before he’d realized she’d intruded on his privacy.

“…And you give me all of you.

As she played the final chords on her guitar, Kíli continued to lie there. His eyes slowly blinked open and his mouth spread into a wide smile, any hint of embarrassment from before gone. He sat up on his elbows and gave a contented sigh, and Sona had to resist the urge to ruffle his hair. He likely would not thank her for that. He was so desperate to be seen as a grown man, well, dwarf.

“Kíli.”

Sona and the dwarf froze, and then turned in unison toward each other to look behind them.

Of course it was Thorin. Of course.

His eyes flicked from Kíli to Sona and then back again, a hint of a smile on his face. “Bombur’s looking for you.”

The younger dwarf sprang to his feet and shouted a quick “Thank you, my lady!” as he trotted back to the camp, and Sona shook her head, chuckling at his antics.

“That was kindhearted. He's a gentle spirit… not everyone sees through his mischief.” Thorin came to stand beside her, while she pulled her guitar off and got to her feet, suddenly feeling flustered.

“It’s kind of my thing.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I guess I’m a little like Bombur in that way… he always knows what to cook for someone…”

“…And you always know what to play,” he finished and she nodded.

“Hmmm,” Thorin rumbled, a thoughtful smile playing at the corner of his lips. "I'd be curious––“ She hung on his words but then he stopped, his smile fading with the breeze. Then he looked back at her. “I need to hear what you know of Moria; as much as you are willing to share.”


 

A/N

The song she sings Kíli, is of course, John Legend’s beautiful “All of me.” In case you’re wondering how she sounds, check out Jasmine Thompson’s cover of it on youtube.

Chapter Text

 

Over the mountains high

Sun and dark she followed him

For his eyes so bright did shine

And he led her over the mountain

Beyond the mortal life

            -The Enchantment, Sheila Chandra


 

            Sona gave Thorin a tight smile. “Of course. I kinda expected this conversation to happen.” She set her guitar gently against the small oak tree she’d been sitting under. “Mind if we go for a walk?”

            “I should’ve thought you had enough of walking today?”

            Looking around to ensure they were still alone, Sona pointed at her ears. “Little pitchers have big ears.”

            Thorin nodded and guided them at a leisurely pace along the periphery of the camp—far enough away for privacy—but not too far.

There are still orcs out there. Somewhere.

            “Well… what do you want to know?” Sona felt her stomach tighten in anticipation and nerves. She loved that Thorin was willing to listen to her. It was such a change from anyone else she’d met in Middle Earth thus far, and she was so thankful and relieved.

            “All that needs knowing.” Thorin glanced at her with a bemused expression. "Though we could begin with Moria.”

            Sona nodded. “Okay. Moria… There’s a balrog.”

            Thorin abruptly stopped. “The Balrog—”

She glanced over her shoulder at the recognition in his voice—a little confused. Why would he let Balin go if… “You knew about it?”

“Durin's Bane…”  A look of horror tinged the frown creasing his forehead as he resumed walking. “…is re-awoken.”

            Ahhh… so they thought it was sleeping. Still… “And the mines are completely overrun by goblins. Soooo back to what I told Balin… it’s just not a good idea to go there.”

            “Indeed.” He gave her a sidelong look scrutinizing her face. “There’s more you’re not telling me.”

            She shrugged one shoulder and kept her gaze fixed on the stunning orange sunset ahead of them.

            “If you do not wish it, you do not have to tell—”

            “It’s Balin himself.” Sona blinked and looked down. “He leads an expedition of dwarves to retake Khazad-dûm. And they are successful. At least at first. But then the goblins and the balrog show up, and well… Gimli and the fellowship he’s traveling with find Balin’s tomb later. After. The entire city is a tomb for that matter.”

            Thorin glanced over his shoulder back toward Camp, practically growling Balin's name under his breath. Then he turned, silent for a moment, his face like stone. "How—with Durin's Bane—does Gimli…?"

"No," she interrupted, staring, caught by the same fire in his eyes she'd seen shine when he was around his nephews. “Gimli and the fellowship escape. Though at a great cost to one of their number.”

Thorin nodded once, relaxing the jaw he'd been tensing before.

She pulled her braid over her shoulder and fisted it with both hands, unsure of what to do with them in her agitation, wondering how close Thorin was to Gimli, destined to be legendary. Now that she was here and these "characters" were actually real people… Gandalf was her friend. The idea of him falling… even when she knew he would return more powerful than before…

            Thorin seemed more at ease after hearing that his kinsman would survive, but he asked no further questions.Maybe he sensed she was not enjoying the conversation any longer.

“Don’t you wonder about your Quest? If it’s successful?”

“For the Lonely Mountain?”

She nodded and he smiled, shaking his head. “There are dangers I should know of, to be better prepared against them. You know what these are––”

“Well… funny you should say that.” She dropped her braid, forcing herself not to stare at his mouth, at his smile, at his eyes shining at her, right at her. “It's just that, I don't really remember much about it. I read the book when I was just a kid.” She sighed. “Most of what I know has to do with you know what.” She pointed at the gold ring on her right hand, and Thorin nodded his understanding. “And for that matter, I’ve no idea how much I do know is even accurate any more since Bilbo never showed up.”

“How so?” Thorin raised an eyebrow as he looked over at her, and she was again caught by those eyes. “The Halfling was to find this… artifact. What else was he to do?”

Sona held her right hand out, skimming it across the top of the high, soft grass lining the path. “Well, for starters he saved you from the trolls.” At least I think he did.

“So did you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Thorin’s bemused expression returned and Sona stifled a chuckle as she held her hands up. “Honestly, he’s important. He saves you from all kinds of stuff.”

“Such as?”

“Giant spiders, for starters.”

“That is simple; you tell us where they are, and we avoid them.” He was the picture of Kíli as he said this, and Sona hated to disappoint, yet…

…she scrunched up her nose and sighed again. “That’s the problem… I don’t know where they are.”

“I see.” Thorin joined his hands behind his back, a thoughtful expression on his face as he turned and guided them back toward the camp. “Do you know of other perils that stand before us?”

“Let’s see, you already know about orcs and wargs, and you know what.” She held out her hand, counting off on her fingers. “Done with trolls, I just told you about the spiders.” She bit her lower lip, thinking. “I don’t have to warn you about the dragon…”

Thorin actually chuckled at that, much to Sona’s surprise and delight. It was a low rumbling, and felt like a velvety caress across her skin.

Focus, Sona!

“And then we’re going to meet some really douchey elves.”

Thorin just raised an eyebrow as if to say “that’s already happened,” and Sona stifled a snort with her hands.

“I’m serious! Their king puts you in jail and everything and Bilbo breaks you out using old wine barrels and it’s all very clever.” 

Thorin paused at that, eyes narrowing. “We travel through Mirkwood along the Forest Path, but I do not intend to step one foot North of that path.”

“Is Mirkwood where the douchey elves live?”

“Doo…she?” he repeated with a funny frown on his face. Sona stifled a life behind her hands. “From how you say it, I gather this is not a good trait?” 

“Nope. It’s not.” Sona shook her head. “It’s short for douchebag. And don’t ask me what that means, because we are not having that conversation.”

“Then, aye, that is where the ‘douchey’ Elves live, north of the Forest Path.”

“So we just avoid them.” Damn. Sona belated remembered that’s where Legolas was from. Guess I won’t get to meet him. Too bad.

Thorin opened his mouth to respond when Sona let out a gasped “ohhhh!” and darted past him to the other side of the trail. A shrubbery with purple flowers along the stem lined the side of the path.

Sona bent forward and inhaled deeply, a delighted smile crossing her face. She pulled a handful of the flowered shrub up and extended them toward Thorin.

“Here you go.” She shook the bunch at him when he didn’t move. “Take it.”

He just stared at the flowers, eyes slightly widened as if unsure of what to make of them.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never seen lavender before.” She stepped closer. “You should put some under your head tonight when you go to sleep.” She thrust the flowers out toward him again. “You hardly sleep, and when you do it’s light or fitful—don’t think I haven’t noticed… it’ll help you. The smell is very calming.” Just as she was about to take his hand and forcefully place the lavender in his grasp, he reached up and tentatively took them from her.

His pinky grazed her index finger before she released her hand and she smiled at its warmth. I wonder if dwarves run hotter than humans?

“I really hope it works—”

A loud cough interrupted her, and Sona and Thorin both turned to look down the path leading to the camp.

Bofur stood there whistling innocently and looking anywhere but at the two of them, his silly hat perched precariously atop his head.

“Yes, Bofur?” Thorin asked. His voice was calm enough, but Sona noticed his hand tightened around the flowers.

The cheerful dwarf smiled broadly. “So sorry to interrupt—”

Thorin grumbled something too low for Sona to make out.

“—but dinner is ready.” He held up Sona’s guitar. “And Lady Sona, as the Minstrel in Waiting, I believe you owe us some songs.”

Sona laughed, happy to be needed, especially in an area she truly enjoyed obliging. “Indeed, I believe I do, Master Bofur.”

She walked a few steps toward him, but realized Thorin hadn’t moved. Looking over her shoulder she gave him a questioning gaze. He responded with a tight smile, hands once again behind his back, assuming his “thinking pose” as Sona had mentally dubbed it.

“I’ll be along. You have given me much to ponder.”

Sona nodded, understanding completely, so grateful that he’d taken the time to listen to her. She smiled as she headed back to the camp.

Heh, who knew? Thorin as a friend… didn’t see that coming.


 

A/N

Many thanks to DaniellaBlue for introducing me to Sheila Chandra. You should all go listen to her. She’s amazing!

Chapter Text

A/N: Thanks for all the kudos, comments, and love y'all. :)


 

You are still a whisper on my lips

A feeling at my fingertips

That's pulling at my skin

Days go by and still I think about you

            -Dirty Vegas


 

            The days passed into weeks, and Sona and the Dwarves established a routine.

Sona started each day waking up to the spicy smell of chai waiting for her, thanks to Bombur. She’d walk a ways apart from the Company, sipping her tea, and then begin her sun salutations, going through three full flows.

At first she did them alone, but then one morning Bifur joined her. By mimicking her movements he got it nearly right and responded well to her gentle nudges and position corrections. Though he only spoke Khuzdul and a form of sign language a few of the others knew, he and Sona didn’t need to speak to practice yoga, and she found she did not mind his presence in her morning routine. In fact, she quite welcomed it. He was peaceful, and she enjoyed his company.

After breakfast and cleanup, the Company would depart along the path toward the Misty Mountains, every day getting closer, until they finally reached the foothills. Though the path became difficult at that point, Sona always found ways to keep her mind occupied. She generally walked with Balin, who was a wealth of information and eager to share it.

He taught her about the dwarves’ history and religious beliefs, along with a few Khuzdul words, which, Sona had managed to piece together, was an honor… the dwarves shared very little of their language—and other things they held as sacred—with outsiders.

As Balin explained, “‘Tis is not our gold or the things we make into art that would be sold, and thus we have shared with the world... ‘Tis our society and culture, our people, our true names, our way of life, and our language that we deem precious.”

If they found her random assortment of knowledge (such as knowing that Mahal was the Valar Aulë) odd, they never mentioned it, and just rolled with it when she would spout off things as her memory kicked in (which was always a gamble since she often couldn’t remember what was Middle Earth canon or something she’d read in a fanfic at some point).

Of all the things she learned from Balin the one that delighted her the most was the fact that dwarrow-dams had beards as well as their male counterparts!

The others had been surprised by her reaction, with Fíli smilingly saying how utterly ridiculous he thought it was that it seemed to him most of the race of men found body hair on women to be unattractive and distasteful.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Sona had replied. “Apparently body hair is thought of as masculine… so therefore cannot be feminine. And don’t even get me started on how over the past eighty years or so the razor companies have used that to basically shame women into thinking they can’t have any body hair in order to sell more of their product.” Sona had curled her lip in disgust before smiling broadly. “But I haven’t shaved for months at this point… and it’s awesome!”

The dwarves had all cringed at her talk of “shaving” and Sona had jokingly quipped that by their standards they must find her quite unattractive.

“I don’t even have the beginnings of sideburns like my cousin, Tali does.” She’d patted her smooth cheeks and they’d all laughed about it, with Bofur quipping: “Oh, aye, lass, I’m certain most dwarves would find you pretty enough without a beard,” and then gave her a knowing wink.

The problem was Sona had no idea what he was trying to imply with his wink, so she just shrugged it off and returned to peppering Balin with questions.

            Sasha and Fíli spent the majority of their time together, and Sona found she didn’t mind at all. The dog still sensed when Sona needed her, and Sona was just happy to see her bond with someone who would work with her and give her the constant attention she needed. Fíli had begun teaching and training the lab how to fight in tandem with him when he would spar with Kíli in the evenings.

            Which was something Kíli found to be completely unfair… but he stopped voicing that opinion after Sona pointed out he got a private concert from her every night when no one else did.

            As with Bifur, Sona found she did not mind Kíli’s intrusion on her nightly solitude. He never stayed for longer than one or two songs (always sweet love ballads) before he was called away to help Bombur with dinner prep or spar with Fíli, so Sona still had a bit of time to herself… which she found was not necessarily a good thing as her mind was more and more occupied by a certain Company leader.

She was delighted by her growing friendship with Thorin, and very relieved that the tension that clouded every interaction they’d had prior to arriving in Rivendell had dissipated. But she often wished he wasn’t so damn attractive. He had such a magnetic pull to him it was hard for her not to let her mind wander to areas they definitely should not.

Though thankfully, other than that one vivid dream in Rivendell, she’d not had any others—for which she was both grateful and disappointed. She didn’t think she could handle any others like that. Well, not and keep her bearing around Thorin the next day.

To combat her errant thoughts, she threw herself into her duties as “minstrel in waiting” and played for the Company every evening around the cook fire after dinner. Sometimes the others would pull out their own various instruments an accompany her, or, as they learned her songs, they’d sing along. She always took requests, and though at first it was by genre, eventually they developed favorites among the songs she played them, and she learned a few of theirs as well.

            Dwalin loved the lyrical poetic songs—she never would have pegged him as a Bob Dylan fan before, but it suited him. Gloin loved to rock out. She never thought she’d be attempting to recreate AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on an acoustic guitar, but it was certainly not the strangest thing she’d done on this journey.

            Without fail “Raise Your Glass” was requested at least once each night, and every single dwarf, to include Thorin, belted the chorus out as loudly as they could.

            As for the aforementioned dwarf, she’d found that he loosened up considerably the closer they got to the Misty Mountains and the farther removed they were from Rivendell.

            And much to her surprise, after dinner and singing was done, while the others drifted off to their own bedrolls and or smaller conversations, she and Thorin had gone for a walk every evening.

            Their walks were never very long, and had really only developed as a habit after the first couple nights when Sona would remember something she wanted to warn Thorin about (such as a skin changing bear-man) away from the others. Their conversations inevitably moved on from the fragments of The Hobbit that Sona could recall, to actual conversations about anything and everything.

            They began innocently enough, but eventually moved to more personal things—though nothing too private… they stuck mostly to history and stories of their respective pasts. Still, it was more of Thorin than Sona had ever seen before… A side of him she’d only had hints of. Perhaps it was their shared knowledge of the Ring of Power that made everything seem to pale in comparison? Sona wasn’t sure, but didn’t question it.

She shared with him stories of her childhood, of growing up caught between what felt like two worlds: her traditional Indian, Hindu mother, and her “California surfer dude” father. They were very much in love and somehow, despite all the culture clash between the two of them and their respective families, always made it work. Sona and her younger sister, Priya, had no idea until they were in elementary school that their family make up wasn’t the norm.

Thorin shared little stories of his siblings and childhood in Erebor, and though Sona could always detect a tinge of sadness and longing in his words (particularly when he spoke of his younger brother Frerin—who Sona learned early on had also died in the battle of Moria. Meaning Thorin had lost every male member of his family that day), his tales of the Lonely Mountain and the lives they lived there made her long to see it restored in all its glory.

            But more often than not, their walks were quiet and comfortable, with no conversation at all, where they just enjoyed the peace and companionship of their burgeoning friendship.

            Which was how Sona found herself with Thorin, ambling along the path together, while she picked daisies and slowly wove their stems together and he told her all about the line of Durin, and how he and Fíli and Kíli fit into it.

            “So… with both your father and grandfather gone… that’s means you’re the king?” Sona would have never dared ask such a question a week ago, but it seemed that so long as she approached the touchier subjects gently, and only after Thorin broached them first, he did not seem to mind answering her questions. And she had, of course, returned the favor (the previous evening he’d finally worked around to asking her what being bi-polar meant, and how it affected her mother and sister).

            “Aye,” he rumbled. “But a king uncrowned and with no kingdom.” He gave her a sidelong glance. “So not really a king at all.”

            “There are twelve dwarves back there to whom you are a king and always will be.” Sona bent to pluck another daisy. “They will follow you anywhere and do anything you ask of them. You can’t command that type of loyalty just because of who you are descended from. That comes from love and respect for you.” She gave him a half smile, just a quick quirk of her lips. “And I happen to know one human who thinks you’re pretty great king material as well.”

            A hint of a smile grazed his lips, though he looked away, and Sona detected the beginnings of a blush creeping up his neck. She quickly changed the subject, not wanting to further his discomfort.

            “So you left the Lonely Mountain and led your people…?”

            “We eventually settled in the Blue Mountains near The Shire.” He clasped his hands behind his back, settling into the conversation. “Though we wandered for a long while. I found work where I could… I had to provide for my people.”

            “And that’s what makes you a king.” Sona paused to gather a few more daisies. “Not a kingdom or a crown.”

            Thorin looked away again, his flush returning.

            “So, what kind of work did you do?” She wove the new flowers into the daisy chain, filling it out.

            Thorin smiled at that as he looked down at his callused hands, flexing his fingers. “Smithing, mostly. Though anything to do with metal…” and he proceeded to tell her all about his creations. Not just weapons and armor, but useful tools and the like.

            Sona found herself very interested in the actual process of working the metal and interjected questions throughout his explanations, which he patiently answered until her curiosity was fully satisfied.

            “It’s art.”

            He raised a questioning eyebrow.

            “What you do with metal and fire and hammers and physical strength.” Sona picked the last two flowers she needed. “It’s art, and in many ways sounds like a natural extension of making music…” She paused, scrunching up her nose. What on earth had she just said? “Never mind. Forget I said that. I’m rambling. That was weird.”

            Thorin chuckled, the rich sound sending a light shiver through Sona. It was full and sweet like honey, and she thought she’d never get tired of hearing it. “No, I understand what you meant… it is like making music in many ways.” He cast his eyes her way. “Not many make that connection.”

            “Artists,” Sona shrugged one shoulder awkwardly, unsure as to why she felt a blush coming on. “What are you gonna do?”

            Thorin’s eyes twinkled as a soft smiled flitted across his lips, though he did not respond.

            “Maybe…” She bit her lower lip, wondering at her temerity to ask this. “Maybe after Erebor… but before the artifact… you could show me your work space? And what it is you do? I promise I won’t touch anything and I’ll stay out of the way. I’ll be quiet as a mouse and you won’t even know I’m there…” The words came out in a rush, and she held her breath, fingers stilling against the flower stems she’d been working.

            “I would be honored.” He gave her a slight nod of his head.

            Letting out a relieved breath, she joined the last two flowers together. Sona smiled, excited by the prospect of seeing him work. Then, a smile tugging at her lips, she very purposefully leaned over and set the flower crown atop his head.

            “A king without a crown no more.” Grinning at his stunned face—she doubted Thorin was much for flowers based on his reaction when she’d foisted the lavender on him all those weeks ago—she’d turned on her heel and skipped back to camp. She knew that once he got over the shock of being teased by her, he’d be smiling too.


 

A/N

Sooooo lots of exposition here & I’m sorry. But I have to keep the story moving along so... Also, oh Sona, you adorable little ignorant human. Perhaps you should ask Balin about dwarf courting customs next…

 

And yes, I know Thorin being gifted a flower crown has been done several times over in fic—but 1) I do love this particular trope, and 2) after seeing RA sporting one at SDCC, well, HAD TO BE DONE. (google it if you haven’t seen the pics).

Chapter Text

A/N: Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. I am thankful for all of you, dear readers. <3


 

Girl ya gotta love your man, take him by the hand

Make him understand, the world on you depends

Our life will never end, gotta love your man, yeah

Riders on the storm

            -The Doors


 

            Sona splashed the icy cold water from the mountain stream on her face trying to shock some sense into herself.

What the hell had been that dream?

            “I am never asking Thorin to show me anything ever again.” Sona sat back on her heels as she scrubbed a wet hand over her face. Why had she ever mentioned him showing her where he worked in Erebor?

            After she’d teasingly “crowned” the dwarf the night before, she’d gone back to the camp and crawled into her sleeping bag, set out, as always, next to Sasha and Fíli and Kíli. The lab had briefly raised her head when Sona arrived and given her a happy whine when Sona had scratched her ears.

Dwalin had nodded from his place by the fire on first watch, acknowledging her return. They never let her stand watch, no matter how much she argued it—stating she more than did her part for the company and that it was most definitely not a gender thing, but more a “whatsafist” thing and not wanting to put her in a position where she’d have to do something she was morally opposed to (a round about way of saying they didn’t want her to have to use violence or wake someone else to do it for her, which, to her, amounted to nearly the same thing).

Sona didn’t like it, but agreed to it grudgingly knowing they were right. As such, she made sure to sleep as much as she could each night so she’d wake up rested and able to keep up with the dwarves, reminding herself that she was not an elf or nor one of the Dúnedain.

She’d closed her eyes and fallen straight to sleep with a choir of snores and the soothing scent of lavender and cardamom (they worked remarkably well together) bundled into the cloak she was using as a pillow.

Wherein she’d promptly had one of the most visceral and real dreams of her life.

The dream in Rivendell, while vivid and sensual, did not hold a candle to this one.

Thorin had been wrapped around Sona, holding her steady and guiding her as together they’d cut a piece of gold for… well she couldn’t recall what for. But she certainly remembered the feel of his entire body pressed up behind her, firm and hot, and the strength of his arms while they moved as one at his workbench in Erebor. For though she’d never been there, she somehow intuitively knew precisely where they were.

Her hand gripped a slippery stone from the steam bed, forcing herself into the present.

Knock it off. Focus, Sona. He’s a friend. Friends don’t have fantasies about friends. At least not that kind.

Though in all fairness, nothing had really happened in either one of the dreams she’d had about Thorin.

She then recalled the way his breath had felt hot against her ear as he tucked her in closer to his left shoulder, adjusting her position with the blade and the gold, like the master he was, and Sona released a shuddering breath.

That had not been nothing. At least not to her.

It was just a dream; holy crap, Sona, get a hold of yourself!

“Oy, Lady Sona!” Kíli called from behind her, and Sona froze, unable to turn. She couldn’t look at him, because she knew he’d be smiling just like his uncle did on those rare occasions when he let himself enjoy the moment. And she definitely could not handle that right now.

“Yes, little prince?” She was rather proud of herself for keeping her voice sounding perfectly normal.

“Breakfast’s ready!”


 

            To say the day had been awkward for Sona was a massive understatement. She couldn’t even look at Thorin without blushing. Kíli and Fíli weren’t much better since they shared so many features and facial expressions with their uncle.

            Never had Sona been so thankful for the difficulty of the mountain path as she was today, as no one was much up for talking given that they all needed to focus on foot placement. They were well into their climb of the Misty Mountains and the trail was single file along a treacherous, rock face. Dwalin stayed right behind her, steadying and helping her when she would slip.

            Because of course, on top of it all, it had begun raining.

            She pulled the hood up on her cloak as the rain began to fall harder and a massive clap of thunder sounded.

            Sasha pressed herself up against Sona, whining which each crack of thunder as the storm grew progressively worse, and Sona, was just about to suggest finding a safe place to wait it out (after she slipped for what had to have been the tenth time) when Dwalin pushed her against the rock face yelled: “Look out!”

            The Company looked up in time to see a massive boulder come hurling in their direction. It crashed into the rock face above them and Sona crouched down, pulling Sasha under her. Smaller rocks rained down on them, bounding off the back of her pack, and Sona was grateful for the modicum of protection it granted her.

            A tearing and creaking sound accompanied the next sound of thunder, and Balin yelled from down the line, “This is no thunderstorm! It's a thunder-battle! Look!”

            Sona pulled herself back up to her feet, and swiped her mussed hair out of her face just in time to see two hulking stone giants stand and face off against each other.

            “What the—” Sona dropped down as another boulder shattered over them and Bofur went on about legends being true and she just wanted to grab him and tell him to shut the hell up and stop making a target of himself.

            Thankfully Thorin took care of that, bellowing at him to “Take cover, you fool!”

            Dwalin stood protectively over Sona while Sasha whined, not at all enjoying this kind of water. “I know, girl. I don’t remember this happening in the book at all.”

            Uncle Cranky-pants gave her an odd look, but before Sona could think about what she’d just said the ground beneath them began to shake and Sona swore. She thought being out of SoCal she’d at least be spared of earthquakes.

            “Hold on!” someone, Nori she thought, yelled, and Sona watched in horror as the mountain fell apart around them. Fíli and Kíli reached for each other as the ledge they were on pulled apart and with a sudden rush Sona realized they were actually on one of the stone giants themselves.

            “ARE YOU SHITTING ME?” Sona yelled over the whipping wind and rain as they all struggled to hang on. Dwalin looked at her with both shock and delight, as if he could not believe such language had come from her mouth, but her embarrassment and his smile were short lived as everyone focused on simply surviving the next few moments.

            She saw flashes of the other group as they swung by, and could only trust to hope that Thorin and Kíli and the others were all right. Dwalin grabbed her hand and tugged, pulling her from the crumbling ledge to another and she hardly hesitated when it came to jumping the chasm between the two. The storm was winding down and Fíli was already safely on the other side, Sasha tugging against her collar trying to get at Sona.

            “It’s alright girl, we’re safe—”

            Another boom sounded and they all whirled just to see one final boulder hurling their way. Sona shoved Fíli and Sasha out of the way, and somewhere behind her could hear Thorin yelling “NOOOOOO!” as she threw herself on the ground, hoping to avoid the worst of it.

            The boulder hit and rocks rained down, and Sona could hear Balin exclaim: “We're alright! We're alive!” just as the ground broke away from beneath her.

            “Where’s the Whatsafist?” Dwalin bellowed from above as Sona scrabbled with her hands to hang on to the crumbling ledge.

            “Here!” she tried to yell, but it came out more of a squeak. Dwalin and Bofur’s faces popped over the ledge, just as her grip gave out and she slid down a few feet.

            Their horrified cries cut off as her feet found purchase on a tiny outcropping beneath her and she plastered herself to the side of the cliff face, too scared to even breath.

            She could hear Sasha’s high-pitched whines from above but didn’t dare look up.

            “Thief! Do not move!”

            Sona forced back a hysterical laugh as she felt a portion of the ledge beneath her crumble. “No chance of that, Grump-muffin.”

Her hands slipped against the smooth rock face, not even finding a tiny crevice to wedge them into.

She could hear the dwarves above calling to each other for rope, and as more of the rock gave way and her legs shook with the effort of maintaining position on something just smaller than her own foot, Sona realized they would be too late.

She looked up just in time to meet Thorin’s electric blue gaze as he lowered himself, one hand gripping the cliff face, and the other extended toward her.

Sona reached for him, stretching out against the wet rock face, feeling it tug and snag against her kurta and the exposed skin of her neck and cheek.

Their fingertips grazed and she felt his familiar heat… just as the last of the ledge broke away, and Sona fell.


A/N: I've always wanted to write a literal cliffhanger...

Chapter Text

A/N: I am so sorry NOT SORRY for the literal cliffhanger :D


 

All that’s left of the dreams I hold

Is a band of gold

            - Freda Payne


 

            Sona ran her hand across David’s smooth chest, tracing her callused fingers along his dark skin. The sun was rising over the beach and a cool Hawaiian breeze set their hammock rocking lightly. It was their first anniversary and thanks to an amazing deal on flights, and a timeshare David’s parents weren’t using that year, they were celebrating in style.

Her husband’s large hands ran up and down Sona’s bare arms and back, before he pulled her close, kissing the crown of her head. “What’s wrong, babe?”

            When Sona didn’t answer, he tipped her head up to look at him. “I know something’s wrong. You were distracted while we…”

            “Are you complaining?” She raised one eyebrow and tried to give him a teasingly disapproving face, but as always, he saw right through her.

            “A little bit, yeah.” David continued to run his hands soothingly over her skin. “But mostly I want to know what’s wrong. I know you’re upset about something. And I know it’s not something I did because I’m a perfect husband—”

            Sona snorted.

            “—but seriously, babe. What’s wrong?”

            She bit her lower lip before snuggling in against his shoulder.

            “Priya’s pregnant.”

            “Again?” His hands stilled against her. “Mat’s not even six months old!”

            “I know.” Sona began tracing her finger along his chest again. “Then my mom called…”

            “Oh boy.”

            “Yeah.”

            “That good?” He resumed running his hands along her now sun warmed skin.

            “About how you’d expect.” Sona sighed. “She won’t even listen when I tell her I’m too young to even think about kids. ‘Nonsense! Priya is twenty-one!’”

            “Well, you are an old lady.” David chuckled as Sona glared up at him.

            “I’m only twenty-five!”

            “And a cradle robber at that.”

            “I’m only two years older than you!”

            David’s brilliant smile was her only response and Sona rolled her eyes before lying back against him again. “Besides, I don’t know if I’ll ever want kids.”

            “Oh thank God.” David pulled her closer, and Sona blinked.

            “Huh?”

            “Your sister and Amit never sleep any more.” One of his hands rested on her bottom and he began tracing circles with thumb. “And I swear the only thing they know what to talk about any more is diapers. And maybe formula. I literally haven’t had an adult conversation with either one of them since Mat was born. He’s a cute little guy, but I like giving him back at the end of the day.” David shrugged. “Maybe, someday later we can think about it. Much much muuuuuuch later. Or never.”

            Sona stretched out against him, fitting her smaller form against his larger one. “You get me, babe.”

            “That’s my job!” He gave her rump a playful swat. “‘Til death do us part!”

            Chuckling, Sona slung a leg over his waist and ran her foot down his thigh. “What would I do without you?”

            “Move on, eventually,” he said with a laugh, then suddenly sobered. “But not without at least a little bit of moping and pining for me before you did.” He flung a hand across his forehead dramatically, struggling to keep his face serious. “My ego couldn’t handle it otherwise.”

            Sona rolled on top of him with a laugh. “Now you’re being ridiculous.”

            “If it makes you laugh, I’ll be ridiculous all day long.” He settled his hands on her hips. “So no kids.”

            “Nope. No kids.”

            “Can we get a dog, then?”

            Sona leaned forward and braced her hands against his shoulders before leaning in for a kiss. “I’m pretty sure we can think of something better to do right now, babe.”


 

            Pain.

            Sona’s world was pain.

            But because of that pain she knew she was still alive.

            And she was… moving?

            She slowly blinked her eyes open, the very motion of it nearly sending her back into unconsciousness for the agony of it.

            She could see stars above her, twinkling blurrily against the velvet sky.

            A groan tore from her lips as her body slid over a jagged rock and she realized there was pressure around her ankle.

She was being dragged.

A part of her knew she should be worried, that none of the Company would treat her this roughly, but she was still too disoriented and hurt too much to focus. Sona moaned as her head knocked against the ground and the motion stopped.

            “…please…” she croaked, her mouth parched. She swallowed, trying to wet her throat when a pasty white, blurry blob appeared before her.

            “…help…”

            The figure coalesced before her as it leaned in and her vision cleared some.

Gangly and small, naked but for a ragged loincloth, it had large, shrewd eyes and long wisps of hair hanging around its face.

Sona would recognize this creature anywhere.

            “Yesss. Yes! Yes. Gollum.” He held a rock in his fist, his intent clear in the wicked gleam of his gaze. “Yes! No nasty goblinses tonight! Gollum! Gollum!” He licked his lips as he looked her over, a sickly sweet smell wafting off him.

            Her breath quickened painfully and she raised her arm toward him, ignoring the lances of pain from the motion.

            “…Wait…” she wheezed. “Smeagol, wait.”

            He paused, rock held aloft, eyes widening when she said his name, his actual name.

Then his eyes narrowed and hissing, he brought the rock down and Sona saw black.


 

            “Bless us and splash us, precious. That's a meaty mouthful. Gollum!”

            Consciousness came back to Sona all at once and she immediately recognized the voice of her attacker.

            “But we don’t wants to eat it just yet, it knows my name, how does it know my name?”

            She hurt worse than last time and as she gingerly touched her head, right at her hairline, wincing the entire time. There was a very large lump there and her fingers came away damp.

            “Shut up! Cut its skin off! Start with its head.”

            Sona opened her eyes and yet could only see darkness. For a moment she panicked, thinking that she had somehow been blinded, until her eyes adjusted to the darkness surrounding her. She could just make out the huddled outline and nearly luminous eyes of her attacker, leering at her a few feet away.

            “It’s awake, precious… we can asks it how it knows us. Gollum!” It crept forward, spiderlike. “Then we eats it…” he hissed into a manic filled giggle and Sona scrambled back, on her hands and feet, nearly collapsing as her left arm gave out underneath her.

            Did I dislocate it? Never mind that, focus, Sona! Distract him!”

            “Wait, please.”

            The creature paused, blinking at her.

            “You want to know how I know your name is Smeagol.” Her back connected with the cave wall. “How I know who you are.”

            He nodded. “Yessss, precious, yesssss…Gollum!”

            “If I tell you, will you promise not to eat me?”

            Gollum hissed. “No! No nasty goblinses for dinner! Gollum!... But why? Nasty Goblinses are better than old bones, precious. Better than nothing… No! We has it now.” He looked meaningfully at Sona. “Gollum!” He skittered forward again, dragging a rock in his hand, and Sona pushed herself shakily to her feet.

            “No wait! What about fish? I thought you liked fish the best of all.” She managed a pain filled smile. “Wriggling and juicy, with crunchy bones.”

            “Yessssss…” He paused, and canted his head sideways. “What’s it know about fishes, precious?... Ignore it! Gollum! It’s just distracting us!” He lunged forward and Sona darted to the side.

            “Our only wish… to catch a fish… so juicy sweet…” Sona sang softly, her voice echoing around the cavern.

            The creature froze and slowly lowered his rock. His entire countenance seemed to change as he looked up at her almost childlike in his wonder. “How does it know this, precious?”

            Sona took a hesitant step forward, though her mind told her to run while she had the chance, instead trusting her intuition and what she knew about Gollum.

            “I know a lot about you, Smeagol.”

            He flinched as she got closer, but didn’t back away.

            “I know that you were once one of the river folk.” She knelt in front of him, tears pricking the corners of her eyes with the pain from her effort.

            He looked up at her blinkingly, mouth hanging open somewhat.

            “I know that you were cast out, driven up here into the Misty Mountains, where you were forced to seek darkness and hide.” She reached out and hesitantly set her hand on his shoulder, forcing herself not to flinch at the feel of his cool, papery skin. “I know how alone you are, and yet, how you are never truly alone.”

            “How…” he looked at her hand, as if unsure of what to make of the gentleness of her touch. “How does it know, precious, how does it know…”

            He hunched his shoulders and slunk away from her grasp, never taking his eyes off of her as he backed away and hid behind a large boulder. He began arguing with himself and Sona let out a shuddering breath, shakes wracking her body.

            No time to break down now. Gotta find my pack, get my flashlight, and find a way out before he changes his mind.

            She slowly lowered herself to her hand and knees (careful not to put any weight on her left arm, certain her shoulder was dislocated at this point, along with the litany of other injuries she surely had), and started feeling around on the ground near where she thought she’d woken up.

            Nothing.

            She found nothing, and a momentary panic gripped her as she wondered if her pack had even survived the fall with her.

            No… I bet Gollum pulled it off me before he started dragging me.

            Which was even worse, because without her flashlight how could she—

            Her hand encountered something small, hard, and cool yet it seared to the touch and Sona immediately felt nauseated.

            She jerked her hand away as if she’d just laid her hand on a hot stove.

            No.

            Was it…

            She carefully extended her hand again until her fingers closed around something flat and round, and… definitely ring shaped.

            She felt another surge of nausea upon contact as images of violence and blood and death coursed through her. She dropped it and the desire to vomit, along with other horrors, passed after a few breaths.

            How anyone could desire such an object, Sona did not know, but there was no doubt in her mind what she’d just found.

              Gollum was still arguing with himself, and so, feeling inside her inner cloak pocket, Sona pulled out the one thing she still had with her… Thorin’s handkerchief.

            She had not been able to bring herself to give it back to him yet—despite washing it— and he hadn’t asked for it, so… Guess I really am a thief.

            Reaching out once more, she gingerly scooped the Ring up with the velvet, and wrapped it tightly inside the fabric. Satisfied that it was secure, she wedged it into the side of her boot, not willing to risk it falling from her cloak pocket.

            “What is it doing, precious?”

            Sona whirled, immediately regretting the decision as her head spun.

            Gollum was before her, still crouched, staring up at her, curious, yet cautious all the same.

            “I was looking for my things.” She extended her uninjured her arm toward the cave wall to balance herself, and, struck by sudden inspiration, began feeling for a tunnel out.

            “Things?” Gollum cocked his head to the side. “What things, precious, hmmmm?”

            “Nothing really.” Sona shuffled to the side, fingers continuing their search. “Just my pack with my clothes and whatnot. You know…” she said, trying to stall for time. “…you have things, right?” She held back a relieved sigh as her hand fell back into nothingness.

            Gollum brightened. “Oh yes, we does, we does precious.” He began patting himself down, and Sona immediately realized her mistake.

            “Where is it? Where is it?!” His cries became more panicked as he began frantically looking around himself. “No! Aaah! Where is it? Nooo! Lost, lost! Curse us and splash us, my precious is lost!”

            Sona took that as her cue to leave and silently slunk back into the tunnel, hoping it would lead her out and not hopelessly deeper into the mountain.

Nooo! Gollum! Gollum!” His shrieks grew louder, and Sona kept her hand tracing the tunnel wall, forcing herself to calmly walk, lest she run into something in the darkness and knock herself out again.

She stole it.” His voice echoed down the tunnel. “She stole it from us! Gollum!” Sona’s breath quickened as did her pace. Was that a cool breeze she felt on her face or was she just imagining things?

“Aaah! She stole it!” He was in the tunnel now, she could hear him giving chase. “She pretended to be our friend and then she stole it!”

A rock exploded near Sona’s head and she gave up all pretense of calm and ran.


A/N: 2 chapters left in part 1!

Chapter Text

Oh baby there ain't no mountain high enough,

Ain't no valley low enough,

Ain't no river wide enough,

To keep me from getting to you…

            - Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye


 

            Sona followed her nose and the freshness of the air that beckoned as she ran as quickly as her injuries would allow, one hand extended before her, the other hanging loosely by her side, while Gollum gave chase.

            “Give it to us!” he shrieked and another rock exploded near Sona’s head.

            The faint glow of light showed ahead as Sona tore around a corner, boots nearly slipping from beneath her.

            There! The cave entrance was at the end of the tunnel; the bright outside sunshine glowing like a beacon to freedom.

            “It's ours. It's ours!” Gollum wailed.

            Hands grasped at her cloak, yanking and tearing, and pulling her back. Sona shrieked as she felt a bite on her collarbone, and without thinking, she unclasped Arwen’s gift and shrugged out of it, heart racing and single focused on escape.

            “Thief!” Gollum cried as he fell to the ground.

Sona lurched and nearly tripped—only Thorin got to call her that. Focus! Just a few more steps and I’ll be home free.

Lowering her head, Sona quickened her pace, somehow feeling if she could jet get into the light—

            She was suddenly on her back, the wind knocked out of her, as Gollum jerked back by her braid into the cave.

            And then he was on top of her clawing and scratching, pulling at her clothes, searching and grasping, looking everywhere for the Ring while he hissed and screamed for his precious.

            Sona blocked and tried to push him off her as best she could, but every movement caused an agony of pain, and Gollum was too strong and too fast for her, bruising her with his pinches and holds.

            His hands moved down to her legs and as soon as he touched her boot, she gave an involuntary kick to his head, sending him flying off her.

            She froze, watching as he bounced off the tunnel wall, a trickle of blood seeping from his nose where she’d kicked him. He twitched and moaned, so she knew he was still alive, and yet…

            I did that. I hurt him.

            The desire to vomit was overwhelming, and she wanted to rip the ring out from her boot and throw it at the creature and flee.

            Instead, she got shakily to her feet and backed into the burning mid-day sunlight outside.

            Whirling, Sona made it a dozen steps before she found her pack, a little worse for the wear from her fall and Gollum’s treatment of it, but still serviceable. She looked up, trying to discern how far she’d fallen—and hoping to maybe see some dwarves—but the motion nearly made her fall over in dizziness. She focused on her pack instead, checking it quickly and found everything—mostly importantly David’s urn—was still there, and that somehow, despite everything that had happened, her guitar was still in one piece, though chipped here and there. Even the strings had survived intact.

            “Small miracles.” She breathed a sigh of relief, and hefted the pack, swinging it over one shoulder—the other too injured to use (she was certain it was dislocated at this point).

            Picking up her pace, Sona picked an arbitrary direction—her primary goal to put as much distance between herself and Gollum as she could. She could worry about finding the dwarves later.

            After what felt like forever, but surely couldn’t have been longer than thirty minutes, she finally stopped, unable to take the pain of her shoulder any longer. Dropping her pack to the ground, she sat down and grasped her knees, and slowly pulled back against them, determined to stretch her shoulder and pop it back into place.

            Tears sprang into Sona’s eyes and a moan escaped her lips as she leaned back. Black spots formed at the edge of her vision, until finally, with one last pull against her knees and a loud cry of pain, darkness once again took over.


 

            “Isn’t this something we should have discussed first?” Sona sighed, yet couldn’t keep the smile off her face as David cuddled the squirming brown Labrador retriever puppy to his chest.

            “I thought we did.” He laughed as the puppy yipped and reached up to lick his face all over.

            “Getting handsy on a hammock in Hawaii does not constitute talking about it.” Sona crossed her arms, refusing to succumb to the absolutely adorable view of the puppy and her husband interacting.

“You’re absolutely right.” David schooled his features, though Sona could still see his smile—it was impossible to hide. He thrust the puppy in her arms. “Want me to take her back?”

The little dog proceeded to lunge up to Sona’s face and lick and nibble all over, as only a puppy could, her sweet puppy breath washing over Sona’s face.

Heaving a sigh, Sona cuddled the lab closer, and let the puppy chew on her finger. “Fiiiiiiiiiine. What are you going to call her?”

A brilliant white-toothed smile spread across David’s face, his sepia skin crinkling at the corners of his mouth.            

“I was thinking of Sasha.”

“I like it.” Sona nodded. “It suits her.” A wet warmth spread across her chest and Sona once again sighed. “How soon until she’s housebroken?”


 

            A repeated wet, warm, and rough surface against Sona’s cheek roused her.

           “Sasha…” she mumbled, as she reached out to pat the licking dog and let her know she was okay. “…I knew you’d find me.”

           The lab gave a keening whine and bent down to lick Sona again, so she pushed herself up with a wince. She was going to ache for a while, and her head pounded.

I bet I have a concussion.

The sun hung low in the sky and Sona realized she’d been unconscious for several hours. Panicking, she quickly reached down to grasp at her calf, but no, the bundle was still there… she could feel it.

“I’m okay, girl.” Sona reached out to scratch the worried lab behind the ears and realized her aching shoulder was finally working as it ought to.

Guess I managed to re-set it before I passed out.

If how she felt was any indication, though, she couldn't even imagine how she looked right about now: after falling from a cliff in the rain, being dragged around by Gollum through the dirt, knocked out with a rock to the head, and then later set upon by him, followed by passing out in the sunlight (she could feel a sunburn coming on her face)... she had to look (and smell) worse than an orc after being mangled by a warg.

“Now if I could just manage to stay conscious for the next little bit… at least until we find the Company again.” Sona took a swig of water from her camelback, realizing she was completely dehydrated. “Alright girl.” She looked down at the lab, who was nearly quivering with her excitement to be back on the move. “Can you find—”

Her question was cut off by a distant howl she instantly recognized.

“Crap… Seriously?” Sona crept up to the top of the low mountain finger she was on, and saw it in the distance: a pack of wargs with mounted orcs, clearly looking for their trail.

"You are being hunted" Gandalf’s words flashed through her mind along with the memory of Thorin’s eyes and how wide they were when she’d fallen from the cliff…

The Company is still on the mountain. They’re looking for me. She knew it with absolute certainty. Which meant the orcs and wargs would eventually find them and kill them.

Sliding back down the hill as quickly and quietly as she could, Sona ignored her pounding headache. The hair on Sasha's neck stood on end and a low growl rumbled in her chest.

"Shhhhhh." Sona raised a finger to her lips and the lab quieted, though she still stood as taut and quivering as a bowstring.

Slipping her pack on, Sona knelt in front of Sasha and scratched behind the dog's ears, trying to calm her. "Hey girl... think you could find Fíli and the others for me?”

Sasha leaned in and gave Sona a quick lick on her cheek before bounding down off the mountain finger into the little valley below. Taking a deep breath, and wishing she could take something for the aching pain she felt all over (it was as though she'd been beaten with a meat tenderizer, and she could see finger shaped bruises blooming on her exposed forearms), Sona thought of her friends, and the need to warn them of the pursuing orc pack.

And so, she lowered her head, gritting her teeth against the pain, and ran.


 

            “I will not leave this mountain until I find her.” Thorin’s low voice brooked no argument and Sona’s heart soared. They hadn’t left her, just as she’d known they wouldn’t.

            “Thorin,” Balin’s voice was calm as ever as Sona puffed up the foothill, legs shaking from having done her best to keep up with Sasha for the better part of an hour. “No one’s suggesting we’d leave you here. Ori merely—”

            “Sasha?” Fíli broke in. “Sasha!”

            Sona rounded the crest just as the young dwarf dropped to his knees and gathered the lab in his arms while she licked his face all over.

            But Sona only had eyes for Thorin.

            “Asti.” He was already striding in her direction, dwarves parting before him, as his eyes were searching her, taking in every cut, bruise, and bump on her body.

            She noticed he was sporting a black eye and split lip, but before she had a chance to wonder at how he got them he was before her and grasping her biceps.

            “How—” His face relaxed some. “You live.”

            Sona winced. His grasp was gentle, but Gollum had not been and she had bruises everywhere. Thorin immediately released her, and Sona quickly spoke before he could apologize.

            “Yes.” She smiled, though it was painful to do so. Yeah, I definitely have a sunburn on top of everything else. “It takes more than a fall to kill your thief.”

            “Thief…” It sounded like a caress coming from him. His hands came up and gently cupped her face as he looked her over, eyes searching, fingers gently probing. Sona closed her eyes, reveling in the warmth and comfort of his touch, knowing it was born of the same concern he would show for anyone in his Company, but not caring. She needed this right now.

            His left hand came to rest on her shoulder as his right hand drifted down to her collarbone and hovered over the bite mark, not touching, but close enough that she could feel his heat.

            “This did not happen when you fell.”

            Sona shook her head slowly as she opened her eyes, meeting his piercing blue-eyed gaze once more.

            “Gollum,” she said simply, knowing it would be enough.

            His eyes widened after a moment as the full meaning of what she was saying struck him.

            “Did you…” His eyebrows raised, giving voice to his unasked question: Had she found the Ring?

            She nodded and he opened his mouth to reply when Sasha stiffened, pointing south, a growl rumbling in her chest.

            Sona cursed under her breath. “We’re out of time.”

Looking out at the rest of the Company, she belated realized Gandalf had rejoined them at some point during her absence and that Dwalin was also sporting a black eye and bruised cheek—though no one else appeared injured. Thank you, Durga.

            She turned her attention back to Thorin. “A pack of warg mounted orcs has found your trail.”

            A familiar howl rent the air as Sona grasped Thorin’s hand in her own and pulled. “Time to run.”


 

A/N: Only one more chapter left in Part 1! Also, if you can't wait for me to update again my Beta, YMR, has just posted the first chapter of their story "Biriz Akmâth" - WHICH IS THIS STORY RETOLD FROM THORIN'S PERSPECTIVE!!!! EEEEEE!!!!!

Chapter Text

A/N: HOW DID THORIN & DWALIN GET THEIR BLACK EYES? To find out the answer to this and other things YOU NEED TO READ YMR'S STORY "Biriz Akmâth". It's this story retold from Thorin's perspective. :D 

 


 

I want to fly like an eagle, to the sea

Fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me

I want to fly like an eagle, till I'm free…

~ Steve Miller


 

            Thorin was quickly in the lead pulling Sona behind him as her strength flagged. She was completely and utterly exhausted, and her pack weighed her down tremendously. Dwalin had tried to take it from her at one point when the orcs and wargs sounded closer, but she waved him away, gasping “No time!” as they ran and ran.

            Would they never stop running?

            Every time Sona slowed, her feet dragging and head spinning, Thorin would look back, meet her gaze and give her hand a brief squeeze before he pulled her along all the harder.

            The rest of the company had no problem keeping up, and Sona thought that perhaps they were going to make it… when the first of the wargs arrived.

            Thorin released her hand and jumped off a low boulder, sword out and ready. Before Sona could even process what was going on, Dwalin scooped her up in his arms and jumped down behind Thorin, just as the company leader pulled his sword out of a dying warg.

            Black blood dripped off of the tip of Orcrist, and Sona could feel her insides churn.

            No, not now, I don’t have time to get sick now.

            The rest of the company was busy taking out the remaining advanced guard of wargs—Fíli and Sasha made a particularly lethal team—and Thorin’s free hand closed around hers again.

            Just then another warg hurled itself at them and Dwalin lunged forward with his axe, burying it in the monster’s head. Hot blood splattered the side of Sona’s face as she stood there, frozen in shock over the violence of it all and also heartbreak of the necessity.

            She could feel hot tears streaming down her face, though she didn’t know where they were coming from. How could she be crying? She was numb inside and tired, so very tired.

            And suddenly she was getting passed up a tree from Dwalin to Thorin.

            A tree? When did we get to trees? And when did it become night?

            Her head hurt so badly Sona could hardly focus on anything.

            “Thief.” That was Thorin. She tried to focus on his voice.

            The remaining dwarves were up in other trees, and she registered that Sasha was clutched in Fíli’s arms, the big, usually goofy dog growling and snarling at the wargs perched at the rocky crest fifty feet or so back up the hill.

            Sona realized she was clutching tightly onto Thorin and he had his arm around her, pulling her tight to his side as he bellowed instructions to the other dwarves.

            “Why are we in a tree?”

Dwalin looked at her as if she had lost her mind.

            “Gandalf...” Why wasn’t he doing something to help?

Sona sought the wizard out and discovered two things: 1) they were in trees because they’d been cornered on the edge of a cliff, and 2) Gandalf was talking to a moth.

            That was important—the moth bit—she knew it was, and so familiar to her for some reason, but Sona couldn’t place why. Her mind felt like it was filled with cotton.

            She felt Thorin stiffen beside her, and heard him exclaim: Azog!”

            Following his gaze up the hill, Sona saw the largest orc she’d ever encountered. His skin was pale and he was mounted atop a vicious white warg, with an entire pack of warg-mounted orcs behind him. His arm was missing yet had some sort of medieval torture device attached as a prosthetic.

            No body. They never saw a body…

            The orc looked up at Thorin and smiled cruelly before calling out something in his foul language. Sona recognized nothing but the words “Thorin” and “Thrain,” yet knew he was taunting the dwarves… their leader specifically. And based on Thorin’s reaction, he understood at least some of what Azog was saying.

            “It cannot be.” Thorin’s voice was disbelieving as he leaned forward, almost lunging off the branch they were perched on. Sona tightened her grip on him and, blinking, he seemed to come back to himself.

            Azog pointed his prosthetic directly at Thorin and bellowed something to his pack. About a dozen wargs broke off and raced down the hill toward the trees.

Sona jerked as one of the beasts leapt at the branch beneath them, and Thorin pulled her tighter against him, shouting something about moving higher, as the lower branches were ripped off.

Their tree started to wobble precariously, and then, suddenly, they were running again, leaping onto the next tree and the next. Sona’s legs were shaking so badly that had she not had Thorin to lean against, and Dwalin steadying her from behind, she would have toppled down into the rabid jaws of a warg.

They leapt on the last tree, landing on the lowest branches. Dwalin was trying to boost her higher just as a flaming pinecone landed in the midst of the wargs below. Sona looked up as she grasped a higher branch with her shaking arms, just in time to see Gandalf pass another flaming pinecone—firebombs really—to Fíli and Kíli, who in turn threw them at the rapidly fleeing wargs below.

The ground was quickly engulfed in flames as the beasts returned to their very angry master, and the Company cheered. Even Sona felt a modicum of relief in her exhaustion-addled mind.

They just had to keep the wargs away long enough for… She tried to figure out where her mind was leading her. Something about moth Gandalf had talked to… help would come. She knew it.

They just had to last until it did.

That was the moment the tree, weakened by the fire and the warg attack, sagged under the combined weight of the company and fell over, hanging precariously out over the cliff.

A shriek burst from Sona’s lips as she clung to her branch, nearly falling when her already weakened arms gave out. Thorin was there and pulling her back onto the top of the tree before she could fully process what was going on. She nodded at him when he wordlessly asked her if she was all right.

“Go,” she gasped. “Help the others.” Sona could see many of them struggling to get back on the tree, as she shakily pulled herself to the other side of the trunk to try to help Dwalin, the closest to her.

            And that was precisely when Azog made another guttural comment and pointed his weapon at… Sona?

            She froze, feeling pinned in place by his menacingly evil smile.

            How can any one creature be filled with so much hate?

            But worse than that, Thorin saw it all. He looked slowly from Sona then back to Azog, his eyes narrowing, and then he very deliberately put his oaken shield on his left arm and angled Orcrist in a ready position with his right hand.

            “No!” Sona pulled herself to her feet as Thorin stepped from the tree, down to the still flaming ground. “Thorin, NO!” Her fingertips just grazed his armored sleeve.

            But Thorin ignored her, striding purposefully toward the white orc, the flames casting him in eerie relief against the rocks.

            “He’s trying to bait you!” Sona shuffled forward on quivering legs and watched as Azog grinned cruelly down at the dwarf.

“Don’t you see? This is exactly what he wants!”

            Thorin raised his oaken shield, sword at the ready, and charged.

            No!

The blood drained from her face and Sona clutched at the tree root as she lowered herself to the ground, forcing herself to watch the horror unfolding before her.

            Azog parried Thorin’s blow easily, being both astride a warg and on the high ground, knocking the dwarf down and stunning him with a second blow.

            Sona dropped to the ground and would have collapsed had Sasha not been there, somehow, steadying her.

            Her hands wove into the thick shock of fur at the lab’s neck, and her throat went dry as she watched, disbelieving, the massive white warg close its jaws around Thorin and shake him around before tossing him like a rag doll.

            Dwalin and the others were yelling, and a part of Sona knew that those who could were frantically trying to get off the tree to help out… but all she could see was Thorin.

            Alone.

Lying on the ground.

Not moving.

            While another orc approached with a sword out, his intent clear.

            And so, Sona ran.

            It was pure adrenaline fueling her dead legs now, whether through fear or panic, she did not know, but they did not fail her until she reached Thorin’s side and threw herself over top of him, covering his body with her own.

            She felt the weight of a sword in full swing strike her pack and saw black spots when an agonizing burst of pain from her already bruised and injured back swept through her.

            Her cries seemed to rouse Thorin and his eyes cleared, then widened as he first looked at her, and then past her at what she could only presume was the orc readying for another blow. One that would certainly not miss this time.

            His arms came up around her, grasping her tightly to him as he shifted their weight, trying to roll her underneath him despite his injured and weakened state, when a snarling brown blur leapt over them and ripped out the orc’s throat.

            “Sasha,” Sona mumbled, dropping her head against Thorin’s neck, no longer able to hold it up. “Good girl.”

            She knew it wasn’t over. That she should be horrified over what had just happened instead of grateful for Sasha’s lethality. That it was just one orc of many. And that there was still Azog.

But she could feel her tenuous hold on consciousness slipping, though Thorin’s grip on her did not. Her ears felt like they were blocked with wool as all the sounds around her stretched and faded and her vision tunneled as she saw images of Dwalin, Fíli, Kíli, and Sasha fighting the remaining orcs and wargs.

            She closed her eyes, unable to keep them open any longer. She could feel the softness of Thorin’s hair against her bruised and burned cheek, and smelling, through the thick scent of blood, gore, and death… there was the sharpness of pine and spiciness of cardamom.

            Thorin.

            The air whipped around them and she heard the loud cries of eagles.

            The Eagles!

            Help had come.

            Thank you, moth.

            She felt something grab a hold of her and Thorin, pulling them closer together. Then they were soaring, flying through the air.

            And, knowing that the Company was, at least for the moment, safe, Sona gave into exhaustion and succumbed to blissful unconsciousness.

 


 

END OF PART 1


A/N: And this, my friends is where I will leave your for a little while. Part 2 (Movie 2) is already completely written (I was busy during NANOWRIMO), but my editing process takes time - expect about one chapter a week (here - I'm not starting a "new story for part 2) beginning roughly around the New Year. Though who knows - perhaps we will have a surprise for Christmas. ;)

In the meantime, please do check out YMR's story "Biriz Akmâth" - it's this story retold from Thorin's perspective.

Chapter Text

*PART 2*


 

Lately I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be

But baby I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard

Said no more counting dollars

We’ll be counting stars

            -One Republic

#

            Sona was warm. The heat from another’s body pressed up behind her, connecting them neck to toe as they spooned, and she felt the warmth radiate through her. An arm was wrapped possessively around her waist, hand splayed across the soft fabric of her nightgown, pressing firmly against her stomach.

            She felt the tickle of someone else’s hair as it fell against her cheek, and she inhaled the spicy scent of cardamom and freshness of pine.

            “Thorin,” she breathed as she slowly blinked her eyes open. She felt him bury his face into her hair, nuzzling her neck as he murmured soft words in Khuzdûl. She didn’t have the faintest idea what he was saying, but it didn’t matter… she could feel the meaning behind them. Safety, warmth, care, affection, and…

            Sona snuggled in closer to Thorin, the softness of their blankets and furs, and the feather bed beneath cocooning them together. She felt his breathing even out, and her eyes drifted closed as she fell back to sleep within the peaceful embrace of Thorin’s arms.

#

The tickle of fur against Sona’s chin was the first thing to drag her back into consciousness. It was followed quickly by the scent of tobacco, something a bit musky, and a hint of cardamom. The faint smell of lavender was coming from the small pillow beneath her head as she cracked her eyes open.

A blinding orb was overhead, but before she could snap her eyes closed against the sun, the outline of a man with a tall wizard’s hat shaded her.

“Gandalf,” she croaked. Her throat felt like sandpaper, and she immediately gulped down the skein of water the grey wizard placed against her lips.

“Easy now.” He gently pulled the water back. “You must take it slowly, my dear. You have been asleep for quite some time.”

She coughed and slowly sat up, feeling a twinge of soreness and aches across her body, but apart from that, nothing else. She seemed to recall quite a bit had happened to her, and she should feel a lot worse for the wear.

Wizards are handy, I suppose, she thought as her gray clad companion gave her a sidelong look.

“Thorin?” She coughed, and craned her neck around Gandalf. “The others?” The camp was empty and still.

“He is fine. They all are.” A smile tugged at the corner of the wizard’s whiskered mouth. “Thanks in no small part to your bravery. Though perhaps, my dear Sona, you might consider not using yourself as a shield in the future. You gave us all quite a scare.”

Sona shrugged; so long as Thorin and the others were alive, what did she care about some cuts and bruises?

“Where are we?”

"You are at the bottom of the Carrock, and it is ten o'clock in the morning, on July the twenty-first, if you want to know."

At Gandalf’s hauntingly familiar words an image of Frodo waking in a bed in Rivendell flashed through Sona’s mind, and she felt a pang of worry. Have I ruined everything by being here? By finding the ring instead of Bilbo?

The wizard offered her the water again, and this time she took a much more careful drink, using the time to try to calm her racing heart.

“What happened?” she asked between sips. “After the eagles, that is. I remember the rest.” How could she forget?

The dwarves clinging for their lives on the fallen oak.

Thorin facing Azog alone.

The warg biting into him and tossing him aside like a rag doll.

Sasha ripping the throat out of Thorin’s would be attacker.

Sona shuddered and involuntarily tried to burrow deeper into her sleeping bag… except, she belatedly realized she was not inside her sleeping bag at all.

She was wrapped up in Thorin’s bedroll!

She’d never gotten a close look at it before as Thorin always tended to sleep far from her, and was surprised to see just how richly detailed it was. The bedroll was two parts: an elaborately embroidered thick cloth, in dark midnight blue, of ultra fine silky but sturdy cotton on the inner layer. The outside was clearly a water treated dark blue leather—like that of his coat—with some cross weave work along the top and bottom edges. On the cotton, in silver embroidery along the edges, were dwarven runes. The top and bottom were edged with fabric fringe, and where his head would go were seven stars, one on top, three to each side angling down, like a pyramid. Below that was a crown, and below that was a hammer hovering horizontal over an anvil.

And of course, atop it all was Thorin’s fur coat. That had been why she woke to his scent.

And probably why I dreamt about him.

“…not surprising you don’t remember anything once the eagles arrived.” Gandalf sat back and lit his pipe, and Sona quickly focused on him, realizing he was replying to her earlier query. “Once the eagles dropped us off at the top of the Carrock I was able to attend to Thorin, who was the most grievously injured of the Company.” He raised a bushy gray eyebrow in her direction. “Followed quite closely by you, I’m sorry to say. Though, you, my dear, needed rest more than anything else to heal, so I gave it to you.”

Sona pursed her lips wondering just how he’d done that, and how she’d gotten down from the sweepingly steep mountainside before her—oooh noooo, I bet they had to take turns carrying me—but shoved the thoughts aside, realizing her anxiety for other things was mounting.

“Where is everyone?”

Fear gripped at her heart. Why were they alone? Gandalf had said everyone was okay, but if that was the case, why weren’t they here? Why wasn’t even Sasha here? Sona had to see Thorin. Her last image was of him battered and bruised and losing consciousness. She had to see with her own eyes that he was truly okay.

“They are a bit down that way.” The wizard pointed with his pipe behind and to the right of them, and Sona felt the grip on her heart ease a bit. “They went to refill the water and bathe in the stream there—”

That explains why Sasha isn’t here. Sona felt a smile pull at the corners of her mouth. The silly chocolate lab would do anything for some playtime in the water.

“—and Thorin only left your side because Dwalin threatened to forcibly strip and bathe him where he stood.”

The anxiety had mostly dissipated at this point (though Sona still wanted to see Thorin for herself) and a giggle burst from her lips as she thought about Dwalin forcing Thorin to bathe. Then she felt her mouth go dry as she followed the natural progression of that thought to a wet, soapy, and very naked Company leader.

She swallowed hard as a flush heated her cheeks and neck.

Sona immediately began humming It’s a Small World. It was a drastic move, but the annoying earworm immediately cleared her mind.

The wind shifted and a new scent hit her…

“Ugh… is that me?” Sona very indelicately angled her nose toward her underarm and made a face at both vile smell wafting off her and the state of her clothing.

She shoved off the bedding, feeling both overly warm in all the layers and disgusted that they’d allowed her to sully Thorin’s bedroll in her current state.

I’m gross!

Her exposed skin—hands, neck, and forearms—had been wiped clean, but the rest of her was splattered in dried black blood and gore from their encounter with the orcs and wargs. She didn’t even want to think about the state of her hair.

“I’m burning these.” Sona waved her hands over her clothes as she got to her feet, surprised at her lack of dizziness. Whatever Gandalf had done, it had truly worked. “And a getting clean is priority number one.”

Her stomach growled at that and she ignored it. She couldn’t live one more minute smelling or looking like this. She was beyond filthy… and the sight of the blood brought back violent memories that made her nauseated.

Gandalf let out a circular puff of smoke as he pointed at a clean pile of clothing topped with a bar of lavender soap next to his feet.

“Have I become that predictable?” She scooped up the pile, suppressing a residual chill, despite the warm summer morning.

“They should be done by now and you can take your turn at cleaning up.” He winked and she smiled back at the wizard before heading down the way he’d pointed before, excited and anxious once again.

Thorin stayed by my side while I was healing?

She felt her heart give a flip-flop.

And he’d placed her in his own bedding.

This both thrilled and worried her—where had he slept if she’d taken over his bedroll? Why would he do that? Surely he needed to rest as well; Gandalf did say he’d been injured worse than her. And the others, what about the others? What did they think when they saw her in his bedding?

Sona’s stomach churned as she stared up into the canopy of trees overhead, filtering the warm, late morning light. She hated being a burden to anyone.

First I had to be carried down the mountain, then their king gives up his own bed to take care of the fragile wo—

Suddenly she was on her back, clothes and soap scattered in the grass beside her while Sasha practically licked Sona’s face off. The ninety-pound dog was quivering with excitement as she whined and barked her joy.

Laughing, Sona ruffled the lab’s brown ears. “I’m happy to see you too, girl.” Her hand came away wet, and she laughed once again as Sasha stepped back, shaking out her wet fur. “Of course you went swim—”

Her words were cut off as two sets of arms pulled her back to her feet and she found herself smack in the middle of a Fíli and Kíli sandwich.

“Sona!”

“My lady!”

They spoke over each other, positively gleeful to see her up and walking, and in their familial joy squeezed together around her even tighter.

“…can’t…breathe…”

“Oy! You two rascals clear out!” Dwalin’s fierce arm bulldozed its way between them and tugged Sona free. “Now let me have a look at you, lass.”

His gaze traced a path over her face and body quickly evaluating, and Sona knew he didn’t miss a single scratch—nor did Sona fail to miss the fading black eye and bruised cheek he sported. The Ur and Ri brothers crowded in tightly, smiling and shouting their felicitations and happiness to see her up and about. She could just make out Gloin and Oin at the back of the group as the latter tried to shove his way through the group, grousing something about Sona being “my patient after all,” and Sona breathed a sigh of relief: they all appeared unhurt.

Seemingly satisfied, Dwalin stepped back and settled his hands lightly on her shoulders. He gave her a quick nod of approval before wrinkling up his nose.

“Ye smell worse than a rotting warg covered in piss.” His mouth split into a wide grin and Sona couldn’t help but laugh.

“Thanks, Uncle Cranky-pants. I’m happy to see you too.”

That seemed to make everyone laugh for a moment, but then the mood quickly sobered as Sona sensed a shift in everyone’s demeanor and loss of joviality.

She leaned to the side and peeked over Dwalin’s shoulder as the dwarves behind him parted, leaving her view unobstructed.

Thorin’s step hitched momentarily when his eyes latched onto her and his low rumbling words to Balin trailed off. He seemed to drink her in and a look of relief washed over his face.

Sona gave him a tentative smile and raised a hand.

“Hi.”

The relief on his face disappeared only to be quickly replaced by an emotionless mask—but not before she caught the flash of something else in his eyes, leaving Sona thoroughly confused.

Why in the world was Thorin angry with her?


 

A/N

First off, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! And any other winter holiday you may celebrate. Or, if you celebrate none of the above, Happy PART TWO DAY! I hope the wait wasn’t too long… usually I take a year between my novels. BUT, I ended up using NANOWRIMO as an opportunity to write ALLLLLL of part 2 & outline part 3, so rest assured, this story will not be abandoned or anything. It’s just my editing process takes time (YMR & I need to ensure things are JUST right), so plan for one chapter a week. That said, I think you’ll be happy—chapters in Part 2 are muuuuuuch longer than those of part 1 on average. So, yay?

  

Also, if you aren’t reading YMR’s story “Biriz Akmath” you are really missing out. It’s THIS story retold from Thorin’s perspective, and the recent update has a rather large Fíli reveal that you won't get in this story for another 19 chapters. Not to mention Sona never does find out how the trolls caught the dwarves or how Thorin & Dwalin got their black eyes. You’ll need to read YMR’s story for that… Besides, MORE THORIN! Who doesn’t want that???

 

Lastly, I love to hear from my readers, so message me here or find me on tumblr at jennywren28. Happy reading!

Chapter Text

 

Close enough to start a war

All that I have is on the floor

God only knows what we’re fighting for

All that I say, you always say more

I can’t keep up with your turning tables

            -Adele


 

The others quickly disbursed, heading back to the camp, though Dwalin did linger long enough to motion at Thorin with his hands and give him a look that was... well Sona would not have called it a glare, but maybe a warning? Caution? She couldn’t put her finger on it, and it didn’t matter as he was soon gone, leaving Sona and Thorin alone on the path, staring at each other with only the sound the stream burbling in the background to accompany them.

            He was clad in his usual blue linen shirt and wool trousers, though they were still damp, not yet dry from their wash. His hair hung wetly over his stiff shoulders as he held them back, erect as he looked her over as intensely as she gazed at him.

            A sigh of relief escaped her lips when she could see no visible wounds apart from minor cuts, and the black eye and split lip he had from before their encounter with Azog.

            “I’m so glad you’re alright.” Sona walked toward him, needing to be closer. She wanted to touch him, to be certain he was really there, but clenched her hands at her side remembering how he’d reacted the last time she’d placed her hand on him during the Ring discussion—that seemed like a lifetime ago.

            Thorin only nodded in response and Sona’s stomach churned. He had his mask up… but she could detect the quiet anger there.

            She narrowed her eyes, straightening, using every bit of the two inches she had on him. Not that it really helped—he could be two feet shorter than her and wearing a garbage bag and he’d still have a greater commanding presence and bearing than she did. But still…

            “Are you mad at me?” She put both hands on her hips and widened her stance. “Because, for the life of me, I can’t think of one reason for you to be upset with me. If anything I should be mad at you.”

            “Ē'ze,” he hissed through his lips, and Sona wondered if he’d just sworn at her. “For the life of you. Aye, Thief; that’s the heart of it.” Thorin left his arms dangling loosely at his sides, but leaned forward angling his face up toward hers, his electric blue eyes burning fiercely. “Do not ever do that again.”

            “Do what again?” Sona’s nostrils flared as she felt anger seep through her. How dare he. “Oh wait,” she put a hand up forestalling his next comment, and his eyes widened in quiet fury over being muzzled—but he was too much of a gentleman to talk over her. “You mean the part where I saved your life?” She folded her arms stiffly across her chest. “Well that’s easy, Grump-muffin. Don’t ever do something so stupid again, like, oh, I don’t know, attack an entire pack of warg mounted orcs by yourself, and I won’t have to.”

            She wasn’t yelling, not yet, and neither was he, but she could feel her blood rushing, the anger mounting within her, and based on the darkening of his face and neck and eyes, he was just furious as she was.

            “It is not for you to risk your life for mine—”

            “Oh, but it’s for you to do it for me, like I’m some damsel in distress, is that it?”

            “You misunderstand me—”

            “No, I don’t think I do.” Sona turned from him and bent to pick up her scattered clothing and soap from the grass. “You’re behaving just like every other pig-headed man I’ve ever met…” She shoved past him, intent on getting clean down at the stream if nothing else, her fury and ire rising with every word he spoke. “…whose fragile little ego can’t handle a woman helping him.”

            “That’s not it at all!” He called, stubbornly following her down to the water.

            “Would you be yelling at Dwalin if he’d done what I did?”

            “No, but—”

            “Exactly my point!” She sat down on a log and began working her right boot off.

            “If you would just let me finish one blasted sentence without willfully trying to misunderstand me, perhaps I could explain.” He wasn’t yelling, no, but a quiet fury, barely contained was evident in his entire posture as he kept a careful distance from her.

            Sona finished pulling off her boot and then straightened before waving a hand toward him as if to say “you have my attention.”

            “This is to do with you.” He let out a slow, controlled breath. “Asti.”

Sona raised an eyebrow.

“Dwalin is a warrior, trained to fight. You are not.” Thorin’s eyes gentled some. “You say yourself you are a pacifist.” He took a half a step toward her and held out a hand as if almost to beseech her. “You have no call going into battle, ever.”

            “But I couldn’t just watch you get killed!” She reached down for her other boot, very aware of the item tucked in its depths. “Don’t you understand?” Her tugging hands hesitated and she slowly looked up through her lashes to meet his gaze. “I can’t lose you too.”

She blinked, shocked by the words, the naked rawness of them… but they were the truth. “Any of you,” she quickly amended. “I can’t lose anyone else I care about. I couldn’t bear it.”

            Thorin’s hands fisted at his side as if he was struggling to contain them.            

            She finished pulling off her second boot, and, after making sure Thorin’s handkerchief was still securely inside with its “precious” cargo, she set the boot down next to her first.

            “Even so,” he said through gritted teeth, his voice deeper, more gravely than before, “you must promise never to do it again.”

            Well that’s not gonna happen.

And Sona found she was suddenly exhausted, even after days of sleeping. She could not abide fighting, especially not with Thorin, and so, as childish as it was, she ignored him.

Sona stood and reached for the hem of her foul smelling kurta and began tugging it upward. It was stiff with blood and the scent nearly made her gag.

            “What are you doing?”

            “What’s it look like?” Sona gasped, trying not to breath or smell the putrid odor in as she turned her back to him.

            She heard him suck in a breath, and wasn’t sure if it was at the sight of what was surely her bruise covered back… or simply the sight of her bare skin. Tossing the top to the ground—she would definitely not ever be wearing that again—she moved toward the cheerfully burbling stream, so at odds with the tension permeating the atmosphere.

            Sona reached for the waistband of her leggings and the sound of Thorin turning and his boots tromping heavily away hit her. Instead of relief she felt a twinge of sadness and guilt over both his departure and the method in which she’d forced it. While she did not care if he saw her nakedness—she’d never been all that concerned about nudity, her own, or others (her mother often had to chase her down as a child to force her to put clothes on)—she knew he would definitely pick up on the “I’m not talking to you right now” body language of turning her back to him and stripping for her bath. It had been a dirty, manipulative move on her part…

            …But at least the argument is over. For now.

Holding the lavender soap in one hand and eyeballing her leggings, she thought perhaps they could be salvaged as it seemed her kurta took the majority of the beating. She stuck one foot in the chilly water and sighed.


 

A/N

 

As  always, thanks for the comments & kudos <3

Chapter Text

A/N: HAPPY NEW YEAR!


 

I just wanna be myself

And I want you to love me for who I am

I just wanna be myself

And I want you to know

I am my hair

            -Lady Gaga


 

            Sona had scrubbed at her skin, nails, and hair so hard she was surprised there was anything of her left afterward. The water had turned a disgusting murky brown as it carried away the filth coating her.

Before getting out of the stream she finally got a good look at herself in the clear water’s reflection. Her face and body were peppered with tiny cuts and scrapes, and right at the join of her neck and shoulder, near her collarbone was the still tender scabbed over bite Gollum had gifted her.

Thank Durga it’s not infected.

When she turned and craned her neck over her shoulder she got a good look at her back’s reflection in the water. The lotus flower tattoo she had in the center of her back (something she’d thought was a brilliant idea to get when she was eighteen) was barely visible under the mottled yellow, green, and purple bruises in a diagonal swath from the orc’s blade. There were also various other cuts and bruises from her fall and Gollum’s cave floor drag.

            The image of the filth washing off her body made her first shudder then heave a breath of relief as she thought about another type of blood she was oh so grateful she did not have to worry about, thanks to her IUD. Based on what Gandalf had told her, she’d been in Arda for several months now, and if not for that blessed device she would certainly have had to deal with her period a couple times now.

She made face thinking about how that conversation with either the dwarves or the elves would have gone down the first time her cycle had hit as she would have had to ask how they handled it… which made her wonder if the females of either of those races even menstruated.

“I bet elleths only do like once every hundred years or so.” She pulled on a clean set of heather gray leggings. “And as for dwarrow-dams, dwarves are so secretive, I wonder if dwarrows know that it even goes on?” Sona gave a wry smile, glad she was alone. She suspected David would have been the only person who would have appreciated her comments. She felt a slight pang at the thought of missing not just her lover, but her best friend. David always found a way to make her laugh.

“You would have loved it here,” she said to the crystal blue-sky overhead as she tugged on a navy kurta, heavily embroidered with bronze and pink flowers at the neckline and over the chest. Then her melancholy dissipated some as she smiled. “But the good news is, even despite the many near death experiences, I think I love it here too.”

She knew David wasn’t really there. She knew he couldn’t hear her, not even in his next life, whatever that may be—but it felt good to talk to him anyways, especially here, in this place where it seemed no one really understood her.

But Thorin is trying. I’ll give him that. She bit her lower lip. I don’t always make it easy for him.

The guilt from before and the manner in which she’d cut off their argument nagged at her as she pulled her boots back on. She tucked the velvet hanky back into the side of her left boot after ensuring she could feel the hard circle of metal through its folds. Finally clean and put back together, Sona gathered her things and turned resolutely back toward the camp.


 

            Sona arrived back at the camp, her apology to Thorin rehearsed and ready to go in her mind. She didn’t want to fight with him—it made her physically ill—and just wanted to return to the closeness they’d had prior to the thunder battle and all the insanity with Gollum and orcs that followed.

            Only the words fled from her mind as she came upon all the dwarves grooming each other.

            She raised an eyebrow as she took in Ori and Dori working on rebuilding Nori’s fantastic star shaped coif, while Bombur, Bifur, and Bofur sat in a row, one behind the other working on each other’s hair. Oin was helping Gloin with his beard braids, and Fíli was seated behind Kíli slowly brushing out and plaiting his hair back off his face while Sasha sunned herself at their feet.

            Sona blinked, stunned.

She would have laughed at how it all looked like a pre-teen slumber party, except… it clearly wasn’t. This was obviously something they took very seriously, and up until this moment had been quite secretive about. They’d never done it in front of her before, and she found she was touched… yet another piece of dwarf culture they were willing to share with her.

Her heart felt quite full at that moment.

            Logically she knew that they fastidiously maintained their hair and beards as their various braids and whatnot always looked neat and well kept, but she’d never given much thought to how. She touched her own wet hair and suddenly felt quite self-conscious. They must think her hair always the untamable mess; especially given how it refused to stay in the French braid she put it up into daily.

            Movement caught her eye, and she looked to the side of the camp where Thorin sat alone on a fallen log, his back to everyone. He had his beautiful wood comb out and was attempting to run it through his still damp hair, but was clearly struggling. Some injury still pulled at him—likely the warg bite—and he did not have the full range of motion he normally would have.

            Remembering how Dwalin had to force Thorin to bathe not one hour prior, Sona sighed as she set her things down by her pack, ignoring its clearly sad state; she’d deal with that later. Muttering to herself about the stubbornness of dwarves, she strode over to the dwarf in question.

            He was mumbling quietly under his breath in Khuzdûl as he tried to grasp one of his two bigger braids at the back of his head, having already undone his front braids, when Sona stepped up behind him and reached over him to take his comb.

            “Here, let me.”

            Thorin immediately jerked away from her. “What are you—”

            “Stop being such a stubborn ass and let someone help you for once!” She placed one hand firmly on his outboard shoulder and leaned fully against his back as she plucked the comb from his hand. “Goodness, would it kill you to ask for help? You’re clearly still injured and going to hurt yourself worse if you keep at it.”

            She tucked the comb under one arm and with deft fingers dug into his silky soft hair and began working on unbinding his braids.

            Thorin stiffened and did not say another word to her, but neither did he move or pull away. He just remained where he was rigid as a statue, while Sona worked her fingers and his comb through his hair. She could see the other dwarves had all frozen the minute she started working on Thorin’s hair, and some, like Kíli and Ori, gaped at her open mouthed, but she ignored them.

            Just because all of them (but Dwalin, of course) were too scared to stand up to Thorin when he was being ridiculous, it didn’t follow that she would be as well. She was not about to let the grump-muffin further injure himself.

            It wasn’t until the wave of cardamom hit her nose when her fingertips brushed the base of Thorin’s head that she realized she was in dangerous territory… she felt her knees go a bit weak and she gulped.

            He must use some sort of cleansing oil or soap in his hair that smells like cardamom. That’s why he always smells so nice. So spicy and fresh.

Sona’s hands slowed, callused fingertips lingering against his scalp as she reveled in the simple glorious feel of his hair.

It was just how she’d imagined it would be to the touch. Soft and silky, yet heavy and thick, and she had to force herself to not bury her face in it as the memory of it falling across her cheek flashed through her mind.

Focus, Sona! Comb his hair, then put the braids back in.

She tried to focus on her hands then, since focusing on his hair had done nothing but flash inappropriate images of Thorin poised over her with his hair falling in a curtain around the two of them, blocking out the rest of the world.

Like it did when he pushed me out of the way of the warg.

Sona suppressed a sigh at the memory. It seemed nothing was going to keep her mind where it needed to be while she worked.

Time for desperate measures again.

So, since Thorin clearly was not going to speak to her while she worked (though she was not all that surprised—he likely did not appreciate the blow to his pride at so publicly needing assistance… that, or he was still upset with her from before; probably both), she sang quietly to herself all the while.

I can show you the world, shining, shimmering, splendid…” Her old fallback, Disney songs. “…tell me princess, now when did you last let your heart decide…


 

            Sona clipped the final bead on the last braid, and then stepped back, looking at her work. It wasn’t half bad. Not as nice as when Thorin did it himself, that was for certain, and she would certainly get better if she had more opportunities to practice.

            NOPE NOPE NOPE.

            She immediately shut down that train of thought. It was bad enough that her fingers were already itching to plunge back unto his long, dark tresses, but she’d already gone through a dozen Disney songs in order to actually focus on his hair… and combing… and braiding.

Otherwise she probably just would have ended up fondling or petting its silky softness as she drooled all over Thorin.

What the hell is wrong with me? He’s just a guy! GET IT TOGETHER, SONA!

            “Um… I think I’m done.” She leaned back over Thorin and held out his comb. He took it from her, and she noticed that he was very careful not to touch her at all.

            “I’m sorry it took so long… and doesn’t look as nice—”

            “It is fine.” His voice was low and gravely, almost strained. Thorin did not turn, but remained seated on the log facing the treeline, his back to her and the rest of the company.

            “Kay… if you say so.” Sona sighed and stepped back. She’d somehow managed to make things worse between them yet again, when all she’d wanted to do was help.

            Chewing on her lower lip, she turned and went back to her things. It was time to see just how much damage that orc sword had done.

Chapter Text

 

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart

But your blade it might be too sharp

I'm like a rubberband until you pull too hard

I may snap and I move fast

But you won't see me fall apart

'Cos I've got an elastic heart

            -Sia


 

            Her guitar was shattered.

            It had born the brunt of the sword strike intended to behead Thorin, and she did not for a moment regret its sacrifice. Thorin was worth more than any object or physical possession. They all were.

            Which made Sona feel all the worse about her reaction.

            She sat cross-legged before her pack cradling the cedar wood pieces in her arms and blinking back tears.

            She would not cry.

            Not now.

Not in full view of everyone else.

            Sona could feel the entire Company’s eyes on her—minus Thorin, of course; he’d gotten up and left as soon as she’d finished with his hair. It was as if the Company was holding its collective breath, waiting to see how she would react to this bit of news.

            How did someone react to being amputated?

            She felt naked.

Lost.

As if she was missing a limb or part of her heart. She couldn’t think of a time in her life where she didn’t have a guitar.

            This can’t be happening.

            Her hands shakily cupped the head of the instrument, still pristine and in one piece. The only portion that still was.

            What will I do now?

            Minstrel in Waiting. That’s me.

            How can I play for them with no instrument?

            Her throat was tight and raw as if she’d been sobbing for hours. She swallowed hard around the lump building there.

            I can’t look at this anymore.

            Getting carefully to her feet, she dumped the guitar pieces onto the blood-covered kurta she’d already decided to burn. She then pulled the fabric corners together, using it to carry the shattered wood, and, keeping her eyes down and away from what were surely curious looks, dumped the entire bundle on top of the campfire.

            She returned to her pack (after telling Sasha to return to Fíli) and began inventorying what was left; unemotional and robotic with her movements. She made two piles, one of things she’d acquired in Arda (like clothes, soap, and the bangles Arwen had given her), and the other of things from home (like the vial of lavender essential oil her mother had given her because she knew Sona liked to dab it on her neck and wrists, her lipstick, and of course, David’s urn).

            Everything was fine. Not even Sona’s phone had suffered a scratch. She stroked its glossy touch screen wondering if it would even power on anymore—she’d been in Middle Earth for a long time.

            She slowly repacked her bag, somehow feeling that they would be moving soon—they’d been at that camp for a while, and she didn’t for a minute think Azog had stopped chasing them.

            Which then made her wonder if she should even be continuing on with the Company at this point. She no longer had her guitar and she’d found Gollum—

            “Good day, lass.”

            Startled, Sona looked up. Bofur was standing beside her, head framed, as always, by his ridiculous hat and newly refreshed braids. He was looking over her neatly packed bag and Sona realized that she had been staring at it, lost in thought.

            “Yes?”

            He took that as invitation enough and sat down next to her with a broad smile on his face, though there was a hint of wariness in his eyes. “That’s a lovely bag. I particularly like the buckles. They’re of a material I’ve never encountered before.”

            “They’re plastic.” Sona felt a smile edge onto her face. Ah, the curiosity of dwarves. How had this question not come up before? “It’s a process that’s been developed in my land where the plastic is poured while melted and then hardens into any form you need. It’s very convenient and cheap to produce. Not as durable as metal though.”

            “Your land is very different, it would seem.” He didn’t mean it as an insult and the twinkle in his eyes made Sona snort.

            “Yeah, you could say that.” She picked up a twig and began tracing lines in the dirt, hands anxious to be doing something.

            “Aye. Do you recall when you asked about widows and Ones?”

            Sona froze then carefully angled her face toward him. “Yes?”

            “You said it was because you wanted to understand our ways and to avoid future misunderstandings and potential offense.”

            “Yeees…” Sona did not like where this was headed. What had she done now?

            “I imagine there are some deeds that for your people are insignificant, whereas for dwarves… well, they carry much meaning and weight.”

            “Oh no…” Sona closed her eyes. Please no. Please don’t say I insulted Thorin or any of them somehow...

            “Oh aye!” Bofur’s smile only broadened and Sona wanted to smack him. He seemed to be enjoying her discomfort far too much. “Hair, like our language, is sacred. You never touch another dwarf’s hair without express invitation and then it usually is only between family, close friends, or couples.”

            Sona squeezed her eyes even tighter. Why did Thorin let me do it? Why didn’t he stop me?

            Because I was too busy yelling at him once again, and not letting him get a word in edgewise.

            “—and then there is the matter of gifts.”

            Sona groaned. There’s more. How can there be more? How many things could I possibly have done wrong? Wait a sec—

            “Gifts? But I’ve never given any of you a gift…” She trailed off wracking her brain, thinking. Was Bofur just giving her a warning? So she wouldn’t somehow cause a future issue?

            He just raised an eyebrow at her and continued, his smile not weakening for a moment. “Gifts carry great meaning to us, and, as before, are generally only exchanged between family, close friends, and couples. I won’t go over all the different kinds of gifts and what they could mean or imply, or what is traditionally given for certain occasions, though I will mention that flowers are typically given by a dwarrow-dam to indicate her favor and desire to court.”

            Oh no. Nonononononononono.

Sona buried her face in her hands, knowing it was bright red, as she could feel the heat of embarrassment pouring off her skin.

            She’d only meant the lavender to help Thorin sleep and the flower crown was a teasing joke between friends.

            She certainly wasn’t trying to court him.

            Not at all.

            No.

            Never…

            Never?

            “Don’t worry, lass.” Bofur patted her shoulder lightly. “We know you aren’t familiar with our ways. That’s why I’m telling you.” He got to his feet and extended his hand to her. Taking it, she allowed him to pull her up.

            “Now why don’t you come and get some lunch?” He guided her toward the cook fire, where the others—minus Thorin—were eating and talking together as if Sona hadn’t just committed an awful social faux pas in front of all of them.

Bless these dwarves and their understanding hearts.

Her stomach rumbled and she realized she couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten. Had it been lunch the day she’d fallen from the cliff?

Before the Ring.

Sona pasted a smile on her face and graciously accepted the hot bowl of vegetable soup from a grinning Bombur, before sitting down next to Bifur, who’d slid slightly closer to her once she settled down to eat.

She had much to consider, not the least of which was how she was ever going to make things right between her and Thorin again.


 

Lunch finished, they all cleaned up and packed up their things and Thorin still hadn’t returned. No one else seemed all that worried, so Sona attributed her anxiety over his absence to do more with the fact that things were still very not okay between them.

She pulled out her hairbrush and sat back down next to Bifur. Her hair had dried enough to be easy to manage, and she figured she ought to put it up before they left, otherwise it would be an untamable snarl again when they stopped tonight.

Pulling her hair over her shoulder she started yanking her brush through it when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

Bifur made a few quick motions with his hands that she didn’t understand, but then pointed at her hair and then back at himself.

“Oh!” Sona smiled and nodded vigorously. “Yes, please!” She was touched he considered the two of them to be close enough friends to ask to do her hair. She handed Bifur her brush and he made a face at it, but took it anyways.

She turned her back to him and pushed her heavy mass of hair over her shoulder, while wondering why he didn’t just use his comb if he didn’t like her hairbrush.

Maybe dwarves just don’t share combs…

The thought came to her as Bifur gently began working her brush from the bottom on up to her scalp, detangling it as he went, making quick work of her snarls.

But if dwarves didn’t share combs, then why had Thorin allowed her to use his?

It just didn’t make sense.

She sighed quietly, and a smile crossed her face as Bifur made quick work of her hair. Sona absolutely loved it when others brushed or played with her hair—perhaps because it reminded her of being a little girl and her mother doing it every morning for her. Her eyes slid closed.

Or maybe it’s just because it’s relaxing.

Sona didn’t have further time to ruminate on dwarves and hair and combs as Bifur was once again tapping on her shoulder and holding out both her hairbrush and the unbound end of her long braid to her.

“Oh! That was fast.” She took the hairbrush and braid in one hand, and felt up to her head with the other. He’d very quickly and efficiently pulled it up into a neat Dutch braid—essentially an inside out French braid—and a style she’d never been able to do to herself.

She bound the end off with a black elastic band, and then turned to Bifur, blinking back tears from her eyes, not certain why she was so overwhelmed by emotion.

Guitar. Thorin. I’m an idiot. Ring. And I miss my family.

Oh, right.

“Thank you, my friend.” She placed her hand softly on his shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. “My mother used to braid my hair like this when I was a child. It’s the only style that’s ever managed to keep my hair in line.”

He smiled brilliantly at her in return, and, as always, she wasn’t certain if he’d fully understood her, but he’d clearly understood the sentiment behind her words.

Sasha whined just then and pointed in the direction Thorin had left earlier. Everyone turned in time to see the Company’s leader emerge from the trees, and Sona felt her heart ease at his return.

“Good, you are packed.” He looked them over quickly, his gaze seeming to skip right over Sona and she forced herself not to be upset by it. They still needed to talk, but based on the way he was carrying himself—as though he was ready to jump into battle again—something much more pressing was at hand.

“The orcs have found our trail, and…” Here he paused, his eyes flicking briefly over to Sona. “Closer still, there is a rather large bear.”

Sona quickly scooped up her pack amid the flurry of activity from the others and blew out a resigned sigh.

It appeared it was time to run again.

 

Chapter Text

 

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot

It's tying you up while you're fadin'

You give and you take and take what you got

            -Push and Pull, Nikka Costa


 

They ran through the archway of the massively tall, ivy covered stone fence that protected the property they were heading toward. Sona would have heaved a sigh of relief if she hadn’t been so exhausted—or if a massive bear hadn’t been chasing them. Though she knew it was impossible, it felt like they’d been running for hours.

            Dwalin once again carried her pack, and this time it was Gloin who pulled her along when she began to fall behind. She was reminded once more of Gimli chasing a pack of orcs and uruk-hai for days without flagging.

            Must be a family thing.

            Bombur sped by them, much to her shock, and they arrived at a set of double barn doors. The dwarves yanked and pounded on the wood doors as a loud bear roar sounded behind them, and before Sona could yell at them to lift the latch, Thorin did just that, and they poured inside, with Gandalf bringing up the rear.

            Sona bent over her knees, gasping, as her companions struggled to shut the door against the muzzle of a massive black bear.

            “Are you quite alright, my dear?” Gandalf bent over her, placing a gentle hand against her temples.

            She immediately felt better and straightened, quietly murmuring, “That is not at all how I remember it going.” Sona still didn't recall much about The Hobbit, even after being here these past months, twenty years was a hard gap to fill––but she definitely would have remembered the Company being chased by a massive bear-man.

            “I suspect, my dear, you are changing things from your little book.” Gandalf gave her a wry smile. “And of course, you already have done so, I am certain.”

            He knows! Sona forced herself not to clutch at her calf, not ready to have this conversation just yet. Don’t be stupid—how could he know about the ring? He wouldn’t even listen when you tried to tell him.

            The dwarves finally bolted the door and turned toward the wizard.

            “What was that?” Ori asked—less scared and more curious than anything. Sona supposed he’d want to sketch the encounter in his book and the thought brought a soft smile to her face.

            “That is our host,” Gandalf answered.

Sona wandered around the space while the wizard told them about Beorn, the skin-changer, and how he did not like dwarves—Sona had frowned at that last bit. Still, she tried to get a sense for the man still growling outside by walking through the common spaces of his home—which she decided was perfectly fair since he had tried to maul them just now.

            It was a massive barn-like structure, complete with animals (oxen, goats, and dogs—in fact, Sasha was sniffing at a shaggy golden retriever) and straw strewn on the floor. Yet it also had the comforts you’d expect in a home belonging to a man, such as a table and chairs in a dining area, and a very large bench and plush armchair gathered around a hearth that Bombur was already building a cook fire in.

            Sona lingered by an oversized chess-set where mice scurried across, and ran her finger along the dust free surface. There was something about seeing something so normal and familiar from her world also here in Arda that set her at ease. Not to mention it spoke volumes about their host—for all his animalistic roaring outside, this was a game that require intellect and thinking.

A snorting snuffling against Sona’s leg garnered her attention and she looked down to see a fawn colored pug staring back up at her, mouth open is if in a smile, with his tongue lolling out to the side of his flat face.

“Hey, little guy.” Sona crouched and placed her hand out toward him, and once he sniffed it and wiggled his perfectly adorable double curled tail as best he could, she carefully scooped him up in her arms. He licked her cheek while she fingered his silky soft black ears.

            “You are quite the little peanut, aren’t you?” She giggled as he proceeded to lick her face all the more vigorously. “Beorn is definitely okay in my book if he keeps the likes of you for company.” Sona laughed again as the pug barked his agreement.

            That’s when she realized how quiet things had become and turned to find fourteen sets of eyes on her, a range of bemused and confused expressions across all of them. Even Thorin, despite the current awkwardness between them, had the hint of a smile playing at the corners of his lips and an amused crinkling near his eyes.

            “He’s leaving.” Ori darted his gaze to the door, and the growling sounds of the bear outside died down until all they could hear were his heavy steps as the bear loped away on all fours.

            “Come away from there.” Dori yanked his brother back. “It’s not natural. It’s obvious he’s under some dark spell.”

            Sona raised an eyebrow as she set down the pug. Dark spell? No, she didn’t remember that at all, and that didn’t feel right

            “He’s under no enchantment!” Gandalf boomed, clearly upset over even the suggestion. “Alright now, get some sleep all of you.” He pointed is staff toward the far back of the great room, which appeared to lead to an actual barn where most of the animals seemed to be, along with heaps of clean fresh hay. It looked positively heavenly to Sona’s eyes.

“You’ll be safe here tonight,” the wizard continued, and then murmured something else Sona did not hear


 

            Sona flipped onto her back and blew out a frustrated sigh. The hay was far softer than the ground, and she was exhausted, so she should have been able to sleep, no problem. Sasha whined from her spot on Sona’s right, and even the little pug dog, curled up at her feet seemed a bit put out with Sona’s constant fidgeting, as he blew out a sigh that set his black lips fluttering.

            “You know, if you’d just go talk to him it would set your mind at ease, and you’d probably be able to sleep.” Fíli’s voice came from the other side of Sasha, and Sona felt her face heat. She didn’t need to ask whom he’d meant by him.

            “Yes, then maybe we could sleep.” Kíli added from slightly further away.

            “I’m sorry,” Sona whispered, as she got to her feet, quickly looking around the room. The others were all fast asleep, mouths agape in a loud harmony of snores. Only Thorin’s nephews—grinning guilelessly up at her—appeared to have been bothered by her constant tossing.

“I… need a drink of water. Maybe that will help.”

            Kíli snorted and Fíli elbowed him sharply.

“Good night, Sona.” The blonde dwarf turned over and curled next to Sasha once more. “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

Sona practically fled from the room as Kíli’s smile widened and he looked about to say something particularly cheeky. She didn’t need to hear it.

And Fíli was right… she should talk to Thorin. She still needed to apologize, and now was as good a time as any, especially as he clearly awake too—he was very noticeably absent from their makeshift hay pile beds.

I need to find him more lavender to help him sleep. She pursed her lips, thinking, but then caught herself. No… no more gifts. They aren’t allowed. Not unless I’m trying to show my favor. And I don’t want to do that. Right?

Right.

She frowned at that thought.

Ugh, my stupid attraction to Thorin is developing into a full-blown crush.

Sona found Thorin near the hearth talking quietly with Balin and Dwalin. They were all smoking pipes and had their heads bent toward each other. The conversation seemed quite serious, and this—her apology—could wait, so she backed away so as to not interrupt when the three of them looked up at her at the same time.

Dammit. She grasped the bangles on her wrist, quieting them instantly.

“Oh! I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to disturb you. I’ll leave.” But before she could, in fact, leave, Dwalin and Balin were both on their feet and making their way past her.

“No, no, you stay, Whatsafist—”

“—Pacifist—”

“—we were just about to turn in anyways, lass,” Balin finished, and before Sona fully realized what had happened, she found herself alone with Thorin.

He stood up from the oversized chair, a guarded expression on his face, and for a moment Sona thought he was going to leave himself, but instead he offered her the plush, padded chair he’d just been sitting in and moved toward the wooden bench his companions had just vacated.

Âkmînruk zu,” she murmured as she climbed up into the massive chair. She turned around to sit and glanced up just in time to meet Thorin’s electric blue gaze aimed squarely where her rear had been just a moment prior, before he quickly looked away.

Was he was checking me out…? Her eyes widened—she knew that look. She’d had it directed at her plenty of times… but from humans. Maybe it’s different with dwarves. She quickly banished the entire train of thought. Don’t be stupid, Sona. He’s probably wondering if you’re going to yell at him again.

He sat down across from her, and for a moment no one said anything, and the tension mounted, until finally, they both spoke at once.

“I’m sorry—”

“My apologies—”

They both stopped and after another brief moment both smiled, and Sona thought her insides would turn into jelly as the force of Thorin’s smile hit her.

He seemed to recover first, speaking while she was still trying to come back to her senses:

“My apologies... I have not behaved toward you as I should.” And then he left it at that.

Sona could not even fathom what he was apologizing for—not that he had nothing to apologize for—just that his words were so vague. For all she knew he could have been apologizing for looking at her funny… but she also knew that he did not admit fault easily, so she took it with grace, recognizing the feeling behind his words, if not the reason for them.

“I accept your apology and hope you’ll accept mine in return.” She gazed at him timidly, a blush heating her cheeks. “Though, obviously, you don’t have to.”

Thorin nodded toward her, not an acceptance, but an encouragement for her to keep speaking, and she felt a bit more at ease.

“I’m sorry for how I behaved this morning…” Was it really only this morning that I woke up from my injuries? “…I should not have yelled at you and kept interrupting every time you tried to speak.” She bit her lower lip chewing on its thick flesh worriedly. “I definitely should not have forced an ending to our argument. You have just as much right to express your opinions and feelings as I do.” Sona was careful not to apologize for what she said, because she was not sorry for that—and Thorin had to know her well enough by now to know she wouldn’t be.

He didn’t apologize for his words either, for that matter.

She peeked at him through her lashes and saw a knowing glimmer in his eyes. Yes, he definitely understood exactly what she was sorry for… and what she was not.

“No, I carry blame for that too—” Thorin canted his head to the side, sending his braids swishing across his shoulders and Sona followed their movement with her eyes. She clenched her hands together tightly in her lap.

“—I know how you detest conflict… how it wounds your spirit.” He gave her soft smile, and Sona felt her stomach flip-flop. “I should not have pressed the argument, not when I knew all you wanted––all you needed—was cleansing from the violence.”

Sona looked away, no longer able to meet his gaze. Yes, he knew she was a pacifist, but still, he paid attention to even the most subtle of her emotions.

Or maybe I’m not as subtle as I think.

Shrugging one shoulder as if to say it was no big deal, Sona pushed on, knowing she’d lose her courage if she didn’t get her next words out.

“Also… I’m sorry about the hair thing.” She swallowed hard, trying to forget the silky softness of his heavy tresses between her fingers and how good he had smelled. “I… I didn’t know the rules… what it means in your culture.” She fisted her own long braid in her hands, clinging to it as if it were a lifeline. “I only meant to help you.”

“Thief—”

“No, please let me finish.” She gave a half laugh and looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “I know I just apologized for interrupting you, but please let me say this before I lose my nerve and run away.”

He stayed silent, but his brilliant blue eyes burned with intensity.

“I’m also sorry about the flowers.” The words wooshed out of Sona’s mouth in a rush and she felt as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders the moment she said them. “I only meant the lavender to help you sleep better… I worry about you.” She wrapped her arms around her knees and pulled them tight to her chest, resting her chin atop them as she looked into the fire. “As for the other… I have no excuse for the flower crown.” She shrugged one shoulder again. “I… I just wanted to make you laugh.” Then, so quiet, it wasn’t much more than a whisper: “You have a lovely laugh… I wish…”

But no, that was not a necessary part of her apology. It didn’t matter what she wished. Sona wiggled her toes, grateful for the heat of the fire on her bare feet. It had turned into a rather chilly evening.

“What do you wish, Thief?” Thorin was leaning toward her, elbows on his knees, hands clasped together, his chin resting upon it, as he gazed at her so deeply she almost forgot to breathe. She forced herself to blink and look at the fire.

“Uhhh…” I wish you would laugh more. I wish you were half as attracted to me as I am to you. I wish I could climb onto your lap right now, and—

“I wish that the closeness we seemed to have before the cliff, before Azog, and before I found…” Sona pointed at the gold ring bearing her name—he would know what she meant, “…was still there.” She shook her head. “I don’t want to jeopardize what we have. What we… had.” She finally met his eyes, the intensity was still there, and swallowed hard. “Your friendship means so much to me… I don’t want to lose it just because I’m an ignorant idiot.” She lowered her eyes and held her breath, waiting, hoping.

            “While you may be ignorant of our ways, of things we have not shared, you are most certainly no idiot.”

            Thorin’s words had such a gentle earnestness to them that Sona couldn’t help but look back up at him. His entire bearing matched his words, and Sona felt relief wash over her.

            We’re all right.

            “Do you want to see it?” The words were out of Sona’s mouth before she could recall them, but then realized she didn’t want to pull them back… she didn’t want to keep anything from Thorin.

            Not even the Ring? No… not even the Ring.

            He blinked and sat back in surprise—whether at her abrupt subject change, or her offer, Sona didn’t know, but she was off the chair and climbing onto the bench beside him before he could respond.

            Tucking her bare feet beneath her and leaning close to the dwarf, Sona pulled Thorin’s handkerchief out from where she’d tucked it into her waistband. He followed her hands with the focus of a cat coiled to pounce.

            Sona flattened her left hand and set the blue velvet cloth atop it before slowly opening it, revealing the plain gold ring within. She felt her stomach churn at the sight of it, and thrust it toward Thorin, wanting, at the same time, to pull it back and clutch it tightly to her chest protectively as soon as she did.

            His fingers hovered over it for a moment before picking the Ring of Power up in one smooth movement.

            Thorin held it in front of his face, evaluating, and Sona noticed his lower lip slightly pull in against his teeth.

“…So much fear and doubt over so small a thing.” He lowered his head, examining it even closer. “Such a little thing.”

            Then, giving it one last curious look, he set it back down on Sona’s cloth covered hand.

            “That’s it?” When she’d heard echoes of Bormir’s words tumble from Thorin’s lips she’d been both taken aback and feared the worst…

            He raised an eyebrow.

            “Don’t you…” Sona swallowed, hand shaking slightly, disgusted with herself for feeling relieved at the Ring’s return. “Don’t you want to keep it? Aren’t you drawn to it?”

            “No,” Thorin said simply, glancing down at the Ring. “I feel its power, as anyone so near it would.” He easily looked up to meet Sona’s gaze again. “But Rings of Power hold little sway over Mahal's Children.”

Sona’s jaw dropped. Then why didn’t Gimli take the ring? Which she just as quickly answered, because no elf would have ever allowed it.

“They only magnify our natural tendencies for desiring gold and hoarding it,” Thorin continued. “…among other effects.”

            Sona nodded, understanding what he was saying. She would never forget Elrond’s words about a strain of madness in Thorin’s family—it made a horrible sort of perfect sense if they had one of the seven dwarf rings.

            “I bet Sauron was pissed when he realized that.” Sona let a weak smile play at her lips as she searched for a silver lining. “His perfect plan to control all the peoples of Middle Earth ruined by one stubborn bunch.”

            Thorin only gave her a half smile in response, then canted his head to the side again, sending those dammed distracting braids swishing across his chest once more.

            “And what of you?” he asked, and Sona thought she could detect a hint of worry in his eyes. “You are of Men. Are you not drawn to it?”

            “Yes… and no.” It was as honest as Sona could manage. “I… I don’t want to touch it… but I don’t want anyone else to touch it either.” She looked at the Ring with complete loathing. “I hate it. I hate how it makes me feel. I want to throw up every time I touch it. And the worst part is it’s as if it knows… and it’s laughing at me, and it’s just a stupid inanimate object except that it’s not, and it’s evil, and it must be destroyed.” She flipped the fabric over the top of the ring so she wouldn’t have to look at it anymore, and the oily darkness trying to find cracks in her spirit receded. “But not yet. First Erebor. Then the ring, like we planned.”

            Thorin met her gaze steadily. “Are you certain?”

            No. She nodded. “Yes.”

            His eyes narrowed slightly—as if he could see the doubt she was trying to hide—but finally, nodded once in agreement.

            Sona shifted her gaze back to his handkerchief, intending to put the ring up, and then realized with a start what she’d done once again.

            “Oh! Oh no!” She dumped the ring into the excess fabric of the corner of her kurta and quickly tied a knot around it, securing it tightly out of sight. She then held the silver embroidered blue fabric out to Thorin. “I’m so sorry—I can’t believe I still haven’t given this back to you. No wonder you still call me a thief.”

            Thorin looked at the handkerchief for a few heartbeats, then reached out and gently curled her fingers back over it, leaving his own hand lingering hotly atop hers for a long moment.

            “Keep it.” His hand dropped back to his side, and Sona blinked.

His sister had embroidered and gifted him the hanky. And now he was…

“But… but I thought gifts were a no-no.”

            One corner of Thorin’s mouth pulled up into a cautious smile, magnified by the short beard around it.

            “Close friends may exchange gifts.” He leaned fractionally closer to her, and Sona found she couldn’t resist doing the same. “You gifted me lavender to aide my rest. I give you my handkerchief to ease your burden. It's no more than any true friend would do, and nothing improper.”

            Sona wondered if he said that last bit more for his own benefit, but didn’t care… he was being playful with her again, and she was so happy she felt she would burst.

            “Now you should rest,” he continued, as if nothing amazing had just happened. “You are still injured and healing.”

            “So are you.” She lightly tapped his chest with a finger, hoping that the many layers of clothing and armor would make that okay.

Plus at this point I’m pretty sure he’ll tell me if I do something wrong.

Her mind whirled over his words. Close friends may exchange gifts… A smile tugged at her lips as a new thought crossed her mind.

I wonder… Do I dare?

He almost certainly detected the question in her face, as his eyes slightly narrowed in response. “Out with it. I promise whatever it is…” He paused, as if re-considering his words. “That is to say… you may ask me anything without fear.”

“Well…” She bit her lower lip wondering, do I dare?… do I?… “It’s just that… based on that logic…what with us being such close friends and all…” Sona leaned in a bit more, hand sliding along the smooth surface of the wood bench toward him.

Thorin’s eyes widened slightly, but he did not pull away. He didn’t move at all.

            “…technically…” She inched a little closer, her stomach flip-flopping… there was only a foot between them.

Yeah… yeah, I totally dare.

“…I did nothing wrong when I helped you with your hair this morning.”

            And with that her hand snaked up and she gave one of his braids a teasing tug before she hopped of the bench and raced to the exit, calling, “Goodnight, Thorin,” over her shoulder.

            Sona paused at the doorway, wondering if perhaps she had pushed him too far, and was about to turn and apologize once more when she heard a murmured:

            “Goodnight… Thief.”


 

A/N

If you can’t wait for my next update, read “Biriz Akmâth” by YMR, which is THIS STORY RETOLD FROM THORIN’S POV! My beta, YMR, has done a fantastic job of portraying Thorin’s POV of these events and it’s been just a joy to read their interpretation of things. I’m the beta for that story, so YES, everything in it has my thumbs up of approval (just like everything in here has YMR’s).

Chapter Text

 

We are honey and the bee

Backyard of butterflies surrounded me

I fell in love with you

Like bees to honey           

-Honey & the Bee, Owl City


 

Sona woke the next morning to a chorus of snoring dwarves and the fresh smell of hay feeling well rested and at peace.

She sat up, immediately seeking out Thorin and saw him sleeping slightly apart from the others as always, head pillowed on his arm. She frowned. Why had he not set out his bedroll? Or had he fallen asleep in that corner too exhausted to do anything else? He was still fully dressed too. Though, come to think of it, she’d never seen him with his boots off.

Except for in that first dream…

Seeing that everyone was still asleep, Sona quietly got to her feet and tiptoed over to him. She spread her sleeping bag over him, carefully tucking it under his chin, her fingers lightly grazing his soft beard in the process. It was just silky as his hair, though the individual strands were thicker and more wiry. She paused a moment to inhale the spicy scent of cardamom and freshness of pine, and had to resist the urge to kiss his forehead. She quickly straightened and backed away.

Ugh, what’s wrong with me? This crush is ridiculous. We are friends!

Her heart soared as she recalled his words from the night before.

No, not just friends, close friends!

Then her smile melted into a slight frown.

Friends. Just friends. Close friends, but still… just friends.

She pressed her lips close together, suddenly needing fresh air to clear her head and quietly left the room.

“Good morning, my dear.”

“Oh my gosh, Gandalf, you startled me.” Sona clutched at her chest, heart racing, as the wizard eyed her from the table he was perched at, puffing away on his pipe.

“Hmmm,” he rumbled. “You’re up early.”

“I couldn’t sleep.” She walked toward the main door to Beorn’s home, and then paused. “Is it…?”

“Oh yes, it’s quite safe… for you.” He eyed her bare feet and then smiled before resuming his pipe.

Wizards are weird, Sona thought as she pulled the door open and went outside just in time to catch the stunning vista before her, brilliantly lit by the purple and orange sunrise.

Gorgeous horses in mottled colors galloped by on the open field within the protected space of Beorn’s farm as enormous bees buzzed in the air. The Misty Mountains framed everything quite perfectly, and Sona was struck with how beautifully idyllic and peaceful the setting was.

Like that time David and I took Mat and Vera to the pumpkin patch and they got a pony ride. She inhaled deeply through her nose, feeling rejuvenated by the crisp air. A part of me could stay here forever.

Just then Sasha ran by, barking loudly as she was playfully pursued by the same golden retriever from the night before. They bounded into a massive sunflower field abuzz with bees, and Sona jogged after them.

“Sasha!” The flowers loomed overhead as Sona’s bare feet sank into the warm soil below. “Come back you silly…”

The words died on her lips as Sona emerged on the other side of the field of flowers into a small clearing filled with dozens of beehives and the largest man she’d ever seen in her life.

He was in profile to her as he bent over a hive, filling a ceramic crock with honeycomb. He had to be well over seven feet in height, and though he wore trousers and boots, his torso was bare, revealing horrid puckering scars from all manner of old injuries nearly everywhere. He was fit and muscular, but not in a “weight-lifter gym-rat” kind of way, but in a “daily physical labor” kind of way. His hair ran down his head and back in a wild manner, and when he straightened and turned to her, his intense dark eyes framed by huge eyebrows, Sona could see the wild bear inside the man.

“Good morning.” Sona forced a smile on her face and walked directly toward him, hand extended, praying it wasn’t shaking and betraying her fear. “You must be Beorn. I’m—”

“Honey, yes I know.” Beorn looked at her extended hand with one quizzical eyebrow, and then, shrugging, placed the full crock of honey in it before retrieving another empty container and moving off to another hive.

“P…pardon?” Sona clutched at the honey, nearly tripping in her surprise. “Did… did you just call me Honey, or were you talking about…”

She trailed off as she watched him expertly remove more honeycomb, the massive bees still flying around them, and she swallowed hard. If even one of them stung her, she would probably die. They were that big!

“Do not worry, Honey. The bees will not harm you.” He turned and gave her a broad smile, the long whiskers on his cheeks moving with his mouth. “They know you are a friend.”

“Well…” she held the crock of honey even tighter to her chest. “…that’s good, I suppose. But, uh, how do they know that? Not that I’m complaining,” she added hastily while eying one massive bee in particular as it hovered hear her head, buzzing merrily.

“I told them.” He handed her a second crock of honey and moved onto another hive.

“Okay…” Sona bit her lip considering how to phrase her next question. The fact that he could talk to bees was… not something she wanted to consider at the moment. “But…well, how do you know? We’ve only just met.”

“Hmmm, yes.” He scooped out more honeycomb and licked the residual off his finger before putting the dripping honeycomb under her nose. “Try that.”

“Uhhh…” Sona blinked, but quickly dipped a finger in the viscous golden liquid and stuck it in her mouth. A smooth sweetness hit her tongue and she couldn’t help but give a sigh of delight over the taste. “That is amazing… I’ve never had honey fresh from the hive. That’s… amazing.” She could find no better word.

Beorn’s smile broadened and Sona couldn’t help but smile back up at him. His simple joy was infectious and for a moment she had a hard time imagining this towering man as anything but gentle. But then he quickly eyed the perimeter of his farm, eyes narrowed and shoulders tensed as if he’d heard something, and the gentleness was gone in a flash. Beorn was barely contained raw power, and there was a wildness about him that hovered just under the surface of it all.

He seemed to relax after a moment and returned to his hives.

“Chases Butterflies told me all about you, Honey, and dogs are incapable of lying.” He handed her a third crock, and Sona shifted them awkwardly in her arms as they moved toward the last hive in the row. “That is how I know you are a friend.”

Chases Butterflies?” Sona looked around, who in the world was Chases Butterflies?

“Yes.” Beorn nodded toward Sasha as the chocolate lab bounded by, this time chasing the golden retriever. “She and Smells the Flowers have become fast friends.”

“Wait… do you mean Sasha?” Sona looked down as the lab skidded to a halt by her and then proceeded to scratch behind her ear as if nothing odd was happening.

“Ah yes, she said you called her that.”

“You can talk to dogs?” Sona tried to keep the incredulity out of her voice.

Beorn merely raised one fierce eyebrow. “You talk to dogs all the time. Peanut told me you were very kind to him and gave him cuddles when you met, even naming him correctly.” He canted his head to the side as if evaluating her. “Why does it surprise you that dogs talk back?”

“I…oh…” Sona bit her lower lip, unsure of how to proceed. “…did Sasha—I mean Chases Butterflies—tell you my name is Honey?”

Beorn looked down at the lab and the dog barked and gave a few high pitched whines, then looked back up at Sona, tongue lolling out to side.

“Ah…” The massive man nodded, and then looked at Sona. “Golden, she said your name is Golden like Honey.”

“Uhhh… well,” Sona chewed on her lip trying to sort out how to unsnarl this. “She’s not wrong, per se…”

“And she also says you may continue to call her by the name you have always used for her,” Beorn continued right on, headless of Sona’s attempts at correcting her name with him. “She does not mind as it is what her beloved called her.” Then with one last bark Sasha was off again, fast in pursuit of… something. “Squirrel,” he added.

“Pardon?” Sona’s eyes were wide, and she was taken aback by the entire conversation.

“Oh, she found a squirrel and left.” Beorn gave Sona a bemused look. “I thought that was obvious. Dogs are not known for long attention spans, Honey.”

“No… I suppose they aren’t.” Sona decided now was not the time to correct the name issue with her gracious host, especially as he seemed rather determined to go with what Sasha had told him it was.

Beorn reached down and lifted two of the honey crocks from her arms, and slowly guided them back toward his house. “Come, let us break our fast. You must be hungry. I certainly am.” He gave her a sidelong glance. “A night of hunting orcs will do that.”

Sona paused and took a deep breath, remembering Gandalf’s words from last night: he is not overly fond of dwarves.

“Yes, about that…”

He stopped and turned to look down at her, face openly curious and waiting for what she had to say.

“I want to apologize for bringing the orcs to your doorstep. My escort and I had nowhere else to go…” She blinked against the bright sun as she looked up at his backlit form. “Your hospitality saved us. Thank you.”

Beorn nodded and turned back to the sunflowers. “Think nothing of it. I hate orcs and take great pleasure in reducing their numbers.” Then he flashed her another full smile—it seemed this massive man did nothing by halves. “That you and your escort are safe is an added gift. Chases Butterflies spoke of another among your companions that is very dear to her.”

“Ah yes, that would be Fíli.” Sona filed in behind him as they entered in the row of flowers. “She loves him very much.”

“He must be a good man indeed.”

Sona did not feel it necessary to correct his assumption that Fíli was a man. He would know the truth soon enough, and hopefully by that time…

“Is this Fíli your mate?” Beorn asked rather bluntly, and Sona nearly tripped again, barely catching her one remaining crock in time as Beorn’s hand shot out to steady her.

“No. No, definitely not. He’s more like a…nephew if anything.” Sona blinked in surprise at her response, and then realized that despite their vast age difference, Fíli did feel like a much younger nephew to her in many ways.

It definitely has nothing to do with his uncle. Nope nope nope.

“That is good.” Beorn continued on after steadying her.

Why is that good? What does it matter to him?

“How many escorts do you have?” he continued. “Just this Fíli?

“No, there are many.” Sona thought quickly, deciding that giving him an exact number would not be the wisest at this point, and chose her next words carefully. Since he already seemed quite inclined to like her and treat her as a friend… “They are helping me find my way home, and given the perils of the road, I believe a larger company is safer than a small one, so…”

He nodded his agreement as they emerged from the flowers and walked across the lawn the horses had been galloping across before, back toward the house.

Yeah, Mat and Vera would love it here.

The chimney was smoking and Sona thought she could smell food cooking.

“Looks like Bombur is already preparing breakfast.” She smiled up at Beorn. “He’s an excellent cook—you’re in for a treat!”

He grinned back down at her, eyes taking in all of her, and chuckled. “I believe I have already had a treat this morning.” He then indicated the jars of honey in his arms as Sona’s face flushed from his nakedly appreciative look over her form.

I wish Thorin would look at me like that.

That thought only made her blush all the more, so she quickly banished it.

Beorn’s smile only widened at her deepening flush, and he waggled his eyebrows in such an over the top way that it was clear he was teasing her, and Sona could not help but giggle.

“Yes, I suppose we did already have a treat this morning.” She shifted the crock in her arms. “The honey was delicious—I can’t wait to have more.”

The teasing look left his face though the smile remained as he looked down at her and rumbled, “Neither can I.”

Sona got the distinct impression that the honey he was talking about was not the golden liquid she currently carried in her arms, and her blush was back even hotter than before.

She had not been this shamelessly flirted with in a very long time. Not since Priya dragged me out for a girl’s night last year. His name had been Joe and he had the most beautiful southern twang to go with his adorable dimpled grin. He was also far too young for her—just out of college—though Sona almost took him up on his offer of “a night of fun”… but she had not been looking for a one-night stand.

“Now,” Beorn continued bringing Sona back into the present, “will you please introduce me to your escort so I may properly welcome them to my home?”

“Yes…,” and finally looking away from her towering companion to the main doorway to the house she saw… Thorin.

Of course it was Thorin.

Of course he’d witnessed her interaction with Beorn.

Of course.

But why should that bother me? It’s not like we’re dating or anything. We’re friends. Just friends…

Though judging from the slight frown on Thorin’s face it… bothered him too. He tried to hide it beneath his “diplomat mask” but Sona could see it by the turn of his lips and flatness of his eyes. He was not happy. Not at all.

What does that mean?

Beorn stiffened next to her as Bofur and Bifur walked out to join Thorin.

Dwarves,” he rumbled, clearly agitated.

“Yes.” Sona shifted her honey to one side and laid a hand on his forearm as she looked up at him. “Is that a problem?”

The bear-man’s eyes focused on her hand as he asked through gritted teeth, “Are they your escort?”

“Yes,” she said with an innocent smile.

He let out a slow breath. “Then no, it is not a problem.”

Sona brightened and patted his arm as she walked forward. “Come; let me introduce you to my friends.”

            They stopped before the now gathering dwarves as Sona named them all (including Gandalf, who hovered at the back of the group with a frustratingly knowing smile) to Beorn, who was rapidly becoming more and more agitated with each additional member of her “escort.”

            “And this the leader of our Company,” Sona finished with a smile toward the dwarf, “Thorin Oakenshield.”

            The grump-muffin was practically glaring daggers up at the bear-man, and Beorn was not helping matters as he eyed Thorin with open contempt.

            Sona wanted to smack them both. Why can’t they play nice? They have literally just met. They don’t even know each other!

            “Leader of your Company?” Beorn settled a hand on Sona’s shoulder—much to her discomfort—as he looked down at Thorin. “Do you mean he is your lead escort?”

            “Uhh…well…that is to say…”

            “Aye.” Thorin extended his hand toward Sona the same way he had every night when he’d escorted her to dinner in Rivendell. “I am.” He gave her the barest hint of a smile and Sona thought she would melt right there on the spot.

She placed her hand in his, relishing the warmth of his touch as he led her inside to breakfast.


 

Chapter Text

 

I dream of your first kiss

And then I feel upon my lips again

A taste of honey

Tasting much sweeter than wine

            -The Beatles


 

            Sona nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt Thorin’s thumb lightly caress her knuckles, moving hotly back and forth across them as he led her toward the massive dining table. Her eyes fixed on their joined hands, but his fingers (and thumb), though pleasantly warm against her skin, lay still in her grasp.

            Great. As if the hyper realistic fantasy dreams aren’t bad enough, now my stupid crush on Thorin has me imagining things.

            He led her to the long bench on the other side of the table, and sat her on the end allowing her ease of movement to and from the table. Though, as Thorin sat next to her, she realized it also meant that no one else could sit beside her either.

            Maybe… no. No. Friends. He was very clear on that.

            “Can I help with anything?” Sona asked while the other dwarves settled around the table.

            “No, Honey, I have many helping paws.” Beorn paused near her, now wearing a rough, homespun, sleeveless tunic. He was bearing a pitcher of fresh milk and filled the tankard before Sona with the creamy white liquid. “And you are my guest.”

            The emphasis on the word you was not lost on Sona, nor was the fact that Beorn seemed to have no qualms about allowing Bombur to cook, and Ori and Dori to serve out their food.

            Sona remained quiet for most of breakfast while Beorn regaled them all with sad stories of how he knew who Azog the Defiler was… and Sona learned one of the many reasons why the pale orc was called the Defiler.

            Though he did not go into detail of the torture wrought by the orc, the scars on Beorn’s body and the fact that he was the last of his kind was enough for Sona.

            She pushed her barely touch plate of fresh bread and honey away, appetite gone.

            Seeing the movement, Thorin shot her a quick glance, concern in his eyes, but Sona only shook her head and then angled it back to Beorn, who was once again speaking.

            “Honey tells me you are escorting her home. I assume you need to be there—wherever that may be—before the last days of autumn, and the weather turns too foul for travel.”

            Gandalf answered quickly, “Before Durin’s Day, yes.”

            “You are running out of time.” Beorn paused near Sona and eyed her untouched plate curiously. She was saved from answering by a familiar whine at her feet.

            As she peeked under the table to discover pudgy little Peanut the Pug pawing at her legs, the group discussed the merits of taking the path through Mirkwood and the dangers that lay there—in particular, the elves themselves. According to Beorn they were not like their kin: less wise and more dangerous.

            How sad, Sona thought. I was so looking forward to meeting Legolas. But, it’s probably for the best. I’ve screwed things up in Arda enough already.

She pulled Peanut onto her lap, allowing him to settle in comfortably while she rubbed his silky soft ears. He gave a contented grunt of approval, as Beorn continued speaking.

“These lands are crawling with Orcs, their numbers are growing and you are on foot. You will never reach the forest alive.”

Sona’s hands stilled. She was horrified that she’d brought down Azog’s wrath on this man. He then fixed his contemptuous gaze on Thorin, and Sona felt her ire prick.

“I don’t like dwarves, they’re greedy and blind.” Beorn reached down to pick up a little white mouse that Dwalin had just shoved away from his plate. “Blind to the lives of those they deem lesser than their own.”

Sona’s jaw tightened and she forced her hands to remain soft and gentle on Peanut. It was not the pug’s fault Beorn was being a racist ass at the moment.

The skinchanger looked at Sona and his fierce face gentled as he gave her an unrestrained smile. Sona forced herself not to let her ire with Beorn show. Not yet, at least.

“But Orcs I hate more.” He set the mouse down on the chess set Sona had admired before and then gave Sona his full attention, blatantly ignoring Thorin. “What do you need, Honey?”

Sona blinked in surprise… Thorin was leader of the company, not her. He should be answering. She shot him a panicked look, but all Thorin did was widen his eyes marginally and then flick his glance back toward the bear-man, his message clear: Answer him.

“Well, if it’s not too much trouble—”

“It is not.” Beorn made his way back around the table toward her, refilling empty tankards of milk that Sona belated realized the dwarves were all quietly draining while their eyes remained fixed on the interplay between her, Thorin, and Beorn.

This is not the kind of audience I like to have, Sona thought grumpily.

“—then I think we should stay here for at least a week, if not more, while injuries heal.” She could sense Thorin stiffen beside her, and nearly groaned at his damnable pride.

Fine, I don’t mind taking the fall here.

“I’m still not a hundred percent… I could use the rest, even if you are all ready to move.”

Thorin turned slightly toward her at this, eyes quickly glancing her over, as if looking for some new or hidden injury she had not revealed to him.

“Plus,” she continued, “by cutting through Mirkwood we’ll save time—so long as we avoid any douchey elves.” She could see this last bit brought the barest hint of a smile to Thorin’s lips. “And for that we’ll need ponies and fresh supplies.”

Beorn was beside her now and Sona resumed rubbing Peanut’s soft ears as the little pug snuggled even closer to her.

“Besides…” She looked up at Beorn and gave him a brilliant, full smile. “I can’t leave Peanut yet. I’m only just getting to know him.”

“It will be as you say.” Beorn’s smile spread broadly across his whiskered cheeks. He reached down to pat the pug’s head and his massive hand easily encompassed Sona’s in the process. “I will never deny you anything that is in my power to give.”


 

            Well, that happened.

            Sona had no idea what she’d done to engender such generosity and solicitude from Beorn, but he was certainly earnest in his friendship.

            A little too earnest for Sona’s liking.

Later that day when Sona headed down to go bathe in the area Beorn had designated by the river for such things, he’d offered to take her down personally. When multiple protests on her part and explaining that she could find it quite easily on her own thankyouverymuch, did not work, she finally had to flat out say she needed some “alone time” for him to acquiesce.

“But I will not be far, should you need me,” he’d added.

Which is totally not creepy at all.

Thankfully Sasha accompanied her, along with Smells the Flowers and Peanut, ensuring there was no way anyone would be able to sneak up on her while she bathed. Not that she thought Beorn would purposely do that, or any of the others… but accidents did sometimes happen.

Though, Sona found that now that she was alone, she did not want to be. Her thoughts and feelings were too crowded and jumbled for her mind, causing her head to ache.

While she did enjoy having the attentions of a man bestowed upon her, they were most certainly coming from the wrong one.

And why do I feel like there is only ONE right one at this point?

Sona frowned as she scrubbed at her hair in the chilly water. Her crush on Thorin was ridiculous—worse than any schoolgirl crush, and certainly not at all how things had gone with David (he’d chased her quite eagerly, much to her delight) or anyone else she’d dated for that matter. They’d always given her some indication of their attraction first, and if she was interested, she signaled back. She’d never had to chase anyone before.

But with Thorin…

She’d certainly allowed her physical attraction to him to grow into something more—and boy was there some serious attraction there… the things she would like to do to him…

She bit her lower lip, her hands stilling in her hair, as images flashed through her mind… images of Thorin hot and sweaty, like he was after a sparring session with Dwalin, only he was poised over her like he had been in the moment he’d pushed her out of the way of the warg…

Stop it! She was letting herself get carried away again. This… this is why this stupid crush is consuming you, pulling at you. Because you’re letting it.

The worst part was it was going beyond simple lust and physical desires at this point.

Sona genuinely liked him.

Like… liked him liked him.

As if the way he always looked after his Company, ensuring their needs were met before ever attending to his own wasn’t enough, the playful banter with Fíli and Kíli nearly killed her whenever she caught a glimpse of it. His smile came full and readily then, and he always had a laugh for Kíli, even when what the younger dwarf said was not all that funny.

Thorin was serious and attentive to Ori’s chronicles of their journey, and always quick to compliment Bombur’s cooking. The way he remained open to both Dwalin and Balin’s advice and counsel, even when he truly did not want to hear it… well, not many, especially in his position, would surround themselves with people who wouldn’t hesitate to tell them “No” when the need arose.

He was wise; he was generous; and he was kind.

“And definitely not interested in me.” Sona muttered as she got out of the water and dried off, remembering his words on friendship from the night before. “At least, not like that.”

The retrievers took this as their cue to jump in the water and play, while Peanut happily trotted along behind Sona once she was dressed in clean clothes. She hung her newly washed kurta over a bush to dry and was about to make her way back to the house and grab something to eat (her stomach had woken back up it seemed) when she heard faint strains of music.

Heedless of her actions, Sona walked toward it, through the low brush and sharp smelling aspens that lined the way. The tune became clearer and though it had been several months since she’d heard it, she quickly recognized it as the song the dwarves had sung at BagEnd, what seemed like ages ago.

The song that woke me up.

Thorin’s rich baritone, accompanied by what she now realized was his harp, broke into her thoughts.

Farewell we call to hearth and hall…

There… she could see him now, just through the trees, only a few feet away, in profile, as he strummed his harp, twining a lovely harmony to the melody he sang.

Though wind may blow and rain may fall…”

Sona just stared at the picturesque image of Thorin; eyes closed, singing and playing in solitude, and realized she could not disturb him. Not for anything would she ruin this one moment of peace he had claimed for himself.

Just as she turned to leave, his eyes opened and he snared her with his brilliant blue gaze.

We must away ere break of day…”

Sona swallowed hard, feeling like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. And yet… he had not stopped his song like he’d done back in Rivendell. Taking that as invitation enough, she made her way forward into the small clearing and settled herself on the grass, with Peanut immediately claiming her lap. She was a few feet away from Thorin while he remained perched atop a stump.

Far over the wood and mountain tall…”

Sona closed her eyes and let the sound of his soothing baritone roll over her, until he sang no more, though he continued to play his harp.

“That’s my first happy memory of Middle Earth,” Sona murmured, eyes still closed, hands automatically petting Peanut’s soft fur.

“This moment?” Thorin sounded surprised… and confused.

Sona’s mouth quirked up into a soft smile. “No, back at the Shire… I fainted when I’d figured out where I was and who exactly was in the house before me.” Peanut gave a contented snore as Sona patted his belly. “I was pulled to wakefulness by this song… by you—all of you—singing it.”

Thorin did not immediately answer, so Sona cracked one eye open to sneak a peek at him.

He was backlit by the sun, still playing his beautifully carved travel harp, fingers dancing across it, head bent regally and soft hair framing his face. A thoughtful expression rested there, but Sona could also see lines of concern marring his brow, and once again felt as though she were intruding. Just as she needed alone time to think, and reflect, and play her guitar—

destroyed. But no, don’t think about that now

—Thorin likely needed the same, and she’d invaded his solitude.

She got slowly to her feet, Peanut bundled in her arms. “Do you need to calm your mind?”

“Hmmm,” Thorin rumbled neutrally, but continued to play. “Sometimes I play for the simple pleasure of it.” He gave her a soft smile as he looked up at her, but it did not reach his eyes.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“No.” He looked back down at his harp. “I did not.”

“Do you want me to leave?” No. Please say no. I don’t want to leave. I want—

“No.”

Sona blinked. Surprised and delighted… yet also perturbed by how that made her heart race as she settled back down near his booted feet.

He wants me to stay! Well… no, he didn’t exactly say that. He just said he didn’t want me to leave. It’s not the same, but I’ll take it.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Thorin gave her a questioning sidelong look.

“You know… whatever it is that’s bothering you.” Sona looked away toward the river below as her fingers traced her way through the snoring pug’s soft fur. “I can see it in your face. You’re worried about… something.”

“The quest weighs heavily on me.”

“Oh, don’t give me that.” Sona waved a hand at him. “The quest always weighs heavily on you. You worry about a lot of things.” She tapped her lips with one forefinger and then pointed at him. “This is something new. You’re a bigger grump-muffin than usual. Have you been sleeping? Maybe I should see if I can find you more lavender—”

“I sleep.” His response was short and crisp, clearly ending the conversation.

“I’m sorry I pushed.” Sona looked down at Peanut as the pug shifted to get more comfortable in her lap. “I just want to help.”

He didn’t respond and just continued to play.

Sona resolved to save this moment—to keep it from becoming more awkward. He was trying to relax, and she would not make him think about things he clearly didn’t want to worry about right now.

Smiling, she looked back up. “How did sparring with Dwalin go?” She cocked one eyebrow as she noticed his newly bruised cheek. “Were you distracted? He usually can’t land a hit like that.”

Thorin grumbled something under his breath and Sona pressed her lips together, trying to force her broadening smile away.

“Which reminds me… why did you and Dwalin both have black eyes while everyone was fine when I rejoined the Company after I fell?” Sona cocked her head to the side. “Did you guys run into some trouble?” She vaguely remembered something about goblins from the book, but couldn’t be certain.

Then her jaw nearly dropped in surprise as a faint blush crept up Thorin’s neck and his fingers momentarily stilled on the harp strings.

“No. No trouble.”

When he didn’t say anything else and merely resumed strumming his harp, Sona decided to leave off trying to force a conversation and just enjoy being with Thorin and the music he was creating.

She stretched out on her side, facing him, and pillowed her head in her arm as her hair fanned out behind her, drying in the warm sunlight. Peanut twirled around three times before snuggling in against her belly, and Sona gave a sigh of contentment.

Birds chirped merrily, Thorin continued to play, and she hummed along wordlessly with his melody.

Sona could get used to this.

 

Chapter Text

 

If you gave me a chance I would take it

It's a shot in the dark but I'll make it

Know with all of your heart, you can't shake me

When I am with you, there's no place I'd rather be

            -Clean Bandit


 

            Sona sat on the front stoop to Beorn’s home as the sun set behind the Misty Mountains. She watched as Sasha chased the same golden retriever around the yard and laughed when the two of them tumbled end over end and then began playfighting with each other.

            Who knew she had such a thing for blondes? Sona thought with a smirk. David would feel so betrayed… Her smirk softened into a smile. No, Sasha’s precious David would understand. He would always be the dog’s first love, no matter if she fell in love again.

            David would understand. And he would be happy.

            Just then her host sat down beside her and even seated he still towered over Sona. She stiffened; worried that he’d resume the shameless flirting he’d been aiming her way since their first meeting that morning.

            Sona didn’t know how to tell him—without offending him—that while she appreciated his generosity to the entire company, she simply wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship. She had no desire to lead him on… nor did he think he’d react well to being “played”—not that she was doing that, though she could see how he might perceive that she was using him.

            Stealing herself, Sona took a deep breath and—

            “Honey, I must apologize for making you uncomfortable.” Beorn’s voice rumbled from beside her. “I did not realize you already had a mate, else I would not have made my interest in you known.”

Sona’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline, but he continued before she could form a coherent response.

“I am not a romantic man, and I knew once I met you that you were everything and more than my friends had told me about you. I knew you could make me happy, and I hoped I could do the same for you.” He faced her, whiskered smile wide and without a hint of shame. “I saw no reason to wait to let my feelings on the matter known. In that I was wrong—I should have been certain of your freedom.”

Sona just blinked. She didn’t know where to even begin with all that. He presumed that she was “taken” that was the only reason he’d leave her alone. But rather than be offended, she reminded herself that Beorn was part bear and not exactly a man really, and clearly went about dating and courtship differently.

Though not all that different from some guys who’ve hit on me in the past. Ugh. And what was their excuse?

“I accept your apology. Thank you.” Then her eyes narrowed as she got to the heart of the matter. “But… I feel like I need to be honest with you, as you’ve been with me… I don’t have a mate.”

Sona held her breath, wondering if his “attentions” would return… but no, they did not. Instead his eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he looked over at Sasha and Smells the Flowers, now resting curled around each other, tongues out, panting, from their play.

“That is curious. Chases Butterflies says you do.”

Sona felt a wave of sadness. Of course Sasha still considered her to be David’s mate. She gave the dog a bittersweet smile, and sighed before answering simply:

“I did.”

Beorn slowly nodded, seeming to understand the depths of what she was saying, and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder… only this time it held none of the attempts at possessiveness or flirting his other touches had carried. It was clear to Sona that this was born of friendship and empathy.

“I am sorry, Honey.”

Sona patted his hand, remembering his words about having lost all his family—all his kind for that matter.

“I’m sorry too.” A sudden nugget of memory about this man jarred her and she dropped her hand back to her side. “But don’t lose hope, Beorn. You will find someone, and the two of you will have a dozen skinchanging babies that neither of you can keep up with.”

“You speak with such certainty…” He pulled his hand from her shoulder. “How?”

She shrugged. “You’ll just have to trust me.”

“I do trust you.” He turned away from her then, eyes lighting up with excitement as the sun slipped behind the mountains. “I must leave soon, to hunt orc!”

Sona frowned though she remained silent.

“You don’t like that?” He gave her a sidelong glance.

“No.” Sona shook her head. “I don’t like killing for any reason.”

“But they are orcs.” His confusion was plain on his face as his wild eyebrows pressed together and his mouth tugged down into a rare frown.

“And what made them so?” Sona’s words were short and crisp. “They were elves once. Torture, violence, and killing made them orcs.” She shook her head sadly, fighting back the tears threatening to well and spill over at the thought of what it took to turn elves into the foul creatures she’d encountered.

“You have a gentle heart.”

“As do you.” Sona smiled up at the bear-man, before giving his hand a light squeeze. “You just try to bury it in wildness, in your animal side, but it doesn’t work.” She turned to look back at the mountains before them. “Because animals don’t kill for sport.”

Beorn got to his feet and walked a few paces away before murmuring, “No, we don’t.”

Then he was off, running, shifting, changing, and a bear roared into the night.


 

            After a lot of thought, Sona decided against telling Gandalf about the Ring just yet. There was still time—loads of it—and she knew Erebor was important in the War of the Ring, and she was not willing to risk the mountain not being taken back from the dragon. Not to mention she really wanted her friends to get their home back—she knew how much this meant to all of them. And if she could somehow help them… well, she would.

            She’d thought a decision as momentous as this—deciding to go on this quest for herself… not because she needed help (pre-Rivendell), or because Galadriel spouted something about needing to find someone (Gollum), but because she wanted to be here—would be big and sweeping and dramatic… when really, it just sort of happened. Sona simply knew that was where she wanted to be. Here. With this Company. With her friends, helping them. It felt right.

            It was right.

            As far as the Ring itself, Sona did not want it anywhere near her person, so kept it hidden inside an internal pocket of her pack, under some dirty socks, figuring it was safe enough there among her current company.

The days passed and they fell into a routine at Beorn’s peaceful farm. He hunted orc every night, keeping them at bay, and in the mornings Sona would help him gather fresh honey while Bombur and some of the others would prepare breakfast. They ate together and then Beorn would sleep for a good portion of the day while the dwarves tidied their respective messes, sharpened weapons, carved wood, sparred, or in Fíli and Kíli’s case, played with Sasha and Smells the Flowers… though they called it training.

            Peanut was Sona’s constant shadow, clambering into her lap whenever she sat down for a moment, and snuggling close to her at night when she slept, which was good, as she could no longer sleep anywhere near the nephews and the nearly two-hundred pounds of dogs they had heaped around them while they snored.

            Bifur braided her hair daily and then they did their morning sun-salutations together. This brought her peace and centering, though she felt as if a piece of her was missing over the lack of her guitar. She said nothing to anyone else, though, as she did not want to burden anyone with it. Thorin in particular had enough on his mind.

Sona took to humming and dancing during her alone times down by the stream; a fusion of traditional Indian dancing, some Bollywood moves she loved, and hip-hop. Her mother would have been torn between being aghast at how she blended everything together, but pleased her daughter was dancing again. She always said Sona spent too much time with her guitar and not enough on her dance.

            Sona just wanted music in her life and a way to express it.

            Watching Thorin dance… now that was an entirely different thing all together.

            Well, Sona called it dancing. He called it sparring with Dwalin.

            In their travels she generally missed their sparring sessions. Initially (pre-Rivendell) it was because they never did them anywhere she could see, nor would she have felt welcome to watch at that time. Later, on their trek toward the Misty Mountains, she avoided watching because it was so violent it caused her a great deal of anxiety to see. If only one of them were to slip… but no.

            Now, here at Beorn’s, Sona watched. At first it was because she wanted to see how his injuries were healing, and eventually it was because she could not tear her eyes away from watching Thorin move. She had been able to swallow her initial anxiety over the intrinsic violence of it all by telling herself to focus on his feet, and to think of it as a dance. A beautiful—though deadly—dance between Thorin and Dwalin.

            And once she saw it that way, she could not un-see it. The way Thorin moved… twirling and graceful, yet so quick and powerful. Fluid and forceful.

            Dancing with Thorin… now that would be an experience.

            As for the Company leader himself, Thorin played his harp down by the stream in his clearing daily after his sparring sessions with Dwalin. Sona found her way there every time, and he did not seem to mind her presence. While he never expressly invited her to stay… he never asked her to leave either. So she passed the afternoons sprawled out in the sunlight, a fat pug on her chest snoring away, with Thorin playing and sometimes singing in the background. At times they would talk… but usually not. That same concern worried his brow, and he looked more tired as the days passed, but for the life of her Sona could not figure out how to help him.

He didn’t want to talk. He wasn’t sleeping well. And his temper seemed on a much shorter leash these days—though she attributed that to the lack of sleep.

She wished there was something she could do, but unless he let her in…

Which is how Sona found herself wandering toward Thorin’s clearing. It was a little earlier than usual… before lunch, rather than after, but she was feeling anxious. The circles under Thorin’s eyes had been darker than ever that morning and he’d hardly said two words to her during breakfast. Dwalin had managed to get several hits in during their sparring, and had called their training off early much to Thorin’s clear irritation.

He’d muttered several choice words in Khuzdûl that Sona needed no translation for before he stormed off in this direction. She gave him about twenty minutes to calm down before following, and this time she was going to make him talk to her, to tell her what was wrong, to—

Sona froze.

Thorin was definitely there.

Oh boy was he there.

His back was to her as he stood in the stream naked as the day he was born. She followed the lines of his broad, muscular shoulders as he bent slightly to splash water on his torso. The movement caused his hair to slide over his shoulder, revealing the broad expanse of his toned and defined back, with various tattoos made of angles and lines, in an almost tribal pattern. Oh how Sona wanted to study those tattoos up close. She could just imagine the feel of his warm skin beneath her fingertips as she traced along their lines. The water lapped just below his hips, teasing her with a glimpse of the swell of his taut buttocks.

I need to go. Now. Before he sees me.

But her feet refused to move. She just stood there, staring; mouth agape as her eyes hungrily consumed him.

And then it was too late.

Peanut barked at a bird; Thorin quickly straightened and turned, taking a slight step back as he faced her.

His expression, though clearly surprised at seeing her there at first, quickly became more neutral, betraying no emotion at all. It was almost as if he was watching her… watching him.

Sona swallowed hard.

His eyes. Stay looking at his eyes. His beautiful blue eyes…

But Thorin’s eyes, always so quick to ensnare her in the past, could not keep her attention now as her gaze slid down his neck to the chiseled and well formed muscles of his chest. A full pelt of hair, still glistening wetly, spread across his pectorals and teed down his sternum. Sona followed the line as the hair thinned and almost disappeared above his navel, then thickened below it as her eyes traced lower and—

Water.

Sona almost let out a groan of frustration as her hands tightened into fists.

The jingle of her bangles brought her back to reality as she realize she was ogling Thorin Oakenshield in the middle of his bath.

Her hands flew to her mouth as her cheeks, neck, and chest burned with embarrassment.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to… I didn’t know! I didn’t see anything I swear!”

Well, apart from a whole lot of wet, naked chest and back.

Thorin raised a quieting hand and Sona immediately stopped talking.

“I am finishing. If you would give me a moment, we can carry on our conversation.”

Sona blinked dumbly while Thorin stared back at her, the hint of smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Then she got it.

“I…ohhhhh!” She spun around, eyes closed, a hot flush sweeping through her again, giving him privacy, and at the same time wondering what he meant by “carry on our conversation.” All she had done was stare at him like she’d been traveling the desert for weeks and he was a tall glass of water.

And then a bunch of word vomit from me.

That was hardly a conversation.

OMG.

This. This right here is truly the most embarrassing thing that’s every happened to me.

Why had she stayed? Why hadn’t she left the minute she realized he was bathing?

Because I didn’t want to.

And what did that mean? Had she lost all control of her senses?

Sona heard Thorin exit the stream, the sound of water sloshing hitting her ears and she forced herself to most definitely not imagine how he must look right now.

Oh no… I bet he wants to talk about it… I bet I broke some other dwarf rule. Oh this is the worst. I am the worst. I—

But no, the worst was knowing that he was only a few feet away, in some state of undress, and having to listen to the whisper of cloth across his skin as he dressed. Her imagination, always vivid, was painting a more evocative picture than her eyes likely could have given her, and she once again swallowed hard as another warm flush washed over her.

I should go. I should just go right now. I already apologized—

“Now, what urgent calling brought you to interrupt my bath?”

Sona could hear the slight tease in his words and felt some of the anxiety leave her as she cautiously glanced over her shoulder. He was fully dressed once again, and she couldn’t help the slight feeling of disappointment that jabbed at her. She really did want a closer look at those tattoos.

Among other things.

“I…” Sona turned to fully face him, and took in his tired eyes despite his lighthearted smirk. “…I’m worried about you.” She decided to take a chance—they were close friends now, after all—and reached out a cautious hand.

He didn’t move, remaining perfectly still as the backs of her fingers lightly grazed his bruised cheek before she settled her hand on his shoulder, the way she’d seen him do with the others dozens of times.

This has to be an okay sort of touch for dwarves.

“You aren’t sleeping. And it’s getting worse.” Sona looked at him imploringly. “I know you don’t want to talk to me about whatever it is… but please talk to someone. Balin, Gloin, Gandalf… anyone. It helps. I promise.” She gripped him tighter. “You can’t carry all these burdens on your own. You’ll go crazy.” Finally releasing his shoulder, she looked down and bit her lower lip. “I know from experience.”

A callused finger gently came up under her chin and tilted it slowly until her amber eyes met his blue.

“Thank you for your care, Thief.” Thorin dropped his hand and Sona immediately felt the loss of his warmth. But then he held it out toward her again, as he had done every morning for breakfast when she retuned from honey gathering with Beorn. “Now come, let us return. I’m famished.”

“Me too.” Though for more than just food. Sona smiled shyly at Thorin as she placed her hand in his and allowed him to guide her back toward the house, with little Peanut—oblivious to the potential trouble he’d caused—trotting along behind them.

She inhaled deeply, the fresh scent of cardamom and pine coming from his drying hair, and she wished she could bottle the simple happiness of this moment: walking along hand in hand with Thorin through the peaceful glen, about to eat some of Bombur’s delicious cooking and—

“My name is Sona Anand Jones. If you’re watching this then hopefully that means I’ve been found—“

Sona blinked. What the?

“I’m from Anaheim, California, and I left my home nine days ago to hike and camp up in Big Bear for a night.”

No! Sona raced forward, tightening her grip on Thorin’s hand, dragging him behind her as she turned the corner around Beorn’s home.

“I’m not sure where I am now, but I can tell you it’s not SoCal.”

And there, just as she feared, was Company gathered around Nori as he held her phone.


 

A/N: As always, thanks for all the lovely comments & kudos. <3

Chapter Text

 

Your inside is out and your outside is in

Your outside is in and your inside is out

Everybody’s got something to hide

‘cept for me and my monkey

            -The Beatles


 

Sona just stared at the gathered dwarves while her voice continued in the background as they stood, frozen, transfixed by the last video she’d ever made her family.

She took in their positions in half a heartbeat:

Nori was stubbornly clinging to her phone with a guilty look on his face while Ori and Dori tugged at him, as if they’d been trying to get him to stop prior to the vid coming on. Fíli and Kíli along with the Ur family—who looked as though they’d stumbled upon the scene—had their jaws dropped. Gloin, Oin, and Balin all had concerned looks on their faces as they stood on the outskirts. Dwalin appeared as though he was about to throttle Nori, and Gandalf was nowhere to be found.

“I am doing my best to find civilization, but just in case… Mom, Dad, and Priya… I love you.”

Sona released a shuddering breath, and, dropping Thorin’s hand, whirled heedless of her direction.

She ran.


 

            Sona didn’t go far. She knew there were still orcs about beyond Beorn’s walls, so she stopped at a split log fence, nearly collapsing against it in her distress.

            She felt violated and hurt. She’d trusted Nori. She’d trusted them all. And he’d… he’d gone through her things. All he’d had to do was ask and she would have shown him her phone… but he’d violated her privacy. And the video… that intensely personal last message for her family… they’d all seen it. All of them.

            It hadn’t been meant for them.

            And the people it’s meant for… my family… will they ever see it? What am I still doing in Middle Earth? Why did I stay?

            “Lass?” Dwalin’s voice broke into her frantic thoughts, and it was as if a damn burst. She flung herself at him, arms going around his neck, clinging to him as sobs wracked her entire body.

            He immediately hugged her tight and patted her back solidly, murmuring, “There now, let it all out,” along with other soothing words in Khuzdûl. Though she couldn’t understand them, his rolling cadence was soothing.

            “I m-miss them so much, m-my family,” she cried. “T-they all think I’m dead,” she swallowed around a lump, “a-and I didn’t realize h-how selfish I’m b-being by staying h-here.” Another sob wracked her body. “I’ve b-been gone for months now, and m-my poor mom is p-probably back in therapy because of m-me.”

Which only set her off to more sobs as a vicious cycle of guilt followed by a desire to remain in Middle Earth and help the Company continued to eat at her, leading to her comments trailing off into an unintelligible mess.

Dwalin held her all the while, patting her back, and stroking head and hair, as though she were a fevered child in need of soothing, until finally, Sona, having completely soaked both the shoulders of his shirt, gently disentangled herself from him. He immediately released her, though stayed near her side. She appreciated his quiet strength.

She pulled out Thorin’s handkerchief—she kept his gift with her always—and dabbed at her eyes.

“I’m s-sorry. I guess… I guess that’s been building for a while. Ever since Azog, and my guitar getting smashed.” She bit her lip. “I don’t regret it—not for a second—it’s just… that guitar… was such a part of my identity. Really… the last part of me I was certain of after everything with David—not just losing him, but the way everyone treated me… after… Like I was broken. Incomplete. But my guitar… I’ve always had music.” She shook her head. “And… what am I still doing here? I don’t even know what my place in this Company is anymore…what purpose I serve now that I can’t be the ‘minstrel in waiting’.”

She ran a finger along the wood of the fence, smoothed by time and the elements. “And Galadriel said once I found who I was looking for I could go home… and I found him. At least I think I did. So why am I staying? What about my family? I should go back…” She dabbed at her eyes again, already tired of crying, and beginning to feel mortification over her outburst creeping in. Still the words came.

“And seeing my phone again… I just… I miss my house. I miss indoor plumbing and hot water, and popcorn, and movies, and high heels, and makeup, and the Internet, and…” She trailed off as she gripped the blue cloth between her hands tightly. “I don’t know why I’m here. Why? Is this all some sort of cruel joke by the Valar? Or do they, as Gandalf seems to think, have some higher purpose for me?” She let out a frustrated groan. “Because if so, for the life of me, I cannot figure it out!”

A few moments of silence passed before Dwalin, as if waiting to see that she was indeed finished talking, eyed her carefully, his gaze flicking from her face to her hands—or perhaps what she held tightly between them—and then back again.

“Lass, you've got no cause to be sorry.” He set a battle-scarred hand atop hers, and she took comfort in its warmth. “Feelings just come; they are yours, nothing to feel shame for. Hear now. Never once think your value to this Company rests only in your entertaining skills, fine as they are.” Dwalin gave her hand a light squeeze. “You are worthy, well beyond your lovely songs, in ways we cannot begin to count. Your value is rare and holds no price. With you we are greater together. You give us heart.” He reached up and wiped away a tear as it slid down her heated cheeks with the pad of this thumb. “As for your other cares––missing your family, your home, your ways––I understand. We all do. And because we do, we also understand that only you can decide what path is yours.” He settled both hands on her shoulders, his voice sounding a bit gruffer than usual. “But know that you will always be welcome among us.”

Sona was too overcome with emotion to give a verbal response, and so, simply nodded her head.

“Come along, Whatsafist…” He paused, giving her an opportunity to correct him. When she didn’t a slight crinkle of concern marred the corners of his eyes, but he pressed on. “Let’s get you back to the house. Some of ol' Bombur's special tea will do you good.”

Nodding again, Sona allowed him to wrap an arm around her shoulders and guide her back.


 

            They approached the group and Sona’s feet began to drag almost of their own accord. She could hear Ori laying into Nori, chastising him for behaving in such a shameless manner, bringing dishonor on their entire family, and also, how dare he steal from a fellow member of the company.

            Dwalin was having none of it, though, and kept his arm tight around Sona’s back, pulling her forward.

            They rounded the corner and Sona saw a scene laid out before her far different than before. The nephews and Ur family were off to one side, awkwardly observing the entire interplay between the Ri brothers: Ori standing on his tip toes as he tore into Nori, while Dori stood to the side fretfully watching and pulling at his sleeves as though unsure of what to do, while also casting a wary eye over to the third group. As for the third group…

            Thorin stood between Balin and Gloin, with Oin just behind his brother, and at first glance the Company leader looked completely calm and collected… that was until Sona saw the way his hands were gripped into fists so tight she would be shocked if his fingernails hadn’t dug into the flesh of his palm deep enough to draw blood. His face was a stone mask, though his eyes could not hide the white-hot fury burning inside of him.

            If Sona were to ever fear Thorin Oakenshield (though she immediately rejected that as ever being a possibility), this would be the version of him she would quake before. Instead she only felt sadness and guilt that her presence had caused this much disharmony and fighting within the Company.

            This never would have happened if I hadn’t come along.

            Ori’s words trailed off as the group seemed to realize that Sona and Dwalin had returned.

            An awkward silence settled until Nori shoved past Ori and quickly walked over to Thorin, who, Sona belatedly realized, held her phone. She clutched at the blue cloth between her hands even tighter, thankful once more for Dwalin’s comforting strength beside her. No words were exchanged between Thorin and Nori, though the latter seemed to visibly shrink before his king and the stone faced expression Thorin was giving him.

            After what seemed like a painfully long amount of time to Sona, Thorin finally held out her phone to Nori, who quickly took it and backed away a few steps before turning on nimble feet and then was suddenly before her.

            The striking and once prideful dwarf looked up at her in complete earnestness as he held out both her phone and a heavy leather pouch about the size of his fist. She took both automatically; just wanting what she knew was coming to be over and done with so they could all move past this.

            “Lady Sona—”

            And here it was.

            “—I most humbly apologize for taking something of yours…”

            Ori cleared his throat quite loudly.

            “…and for the incursion upon your privacy. You trusted all of us and by acting thusly, I broke that trust.”

            Dori and Ori came up behind Nori then, each bearing similar leather pouches and held them out to Sona. She adjusted her current load and took the bags, shocked at their weight and wondering what on earth they contained.

            “Lady Sona,” Dori began, unable to meet her eyes, his lowered in shame.

            “We too must give you our most humblest apologies, on behalf of our family,” Ori finished, blushing furiously.

            Sona blinked. That last bit had been unexpected.

            “Dori, Ori… there is nothing to forgive.” She gave them both as kind a smile as she could manage, for truly, they had not upset her. She tried to pass back the pouches they’d given her, but Dwalin’s warning look and hand on her forearm forestalled her and so she kept them despite her discomfort over the notion. “As for you, Nori…”

            Sona could feel the eyes of everyone in the company on her then, as if they were all waiting on her to pronounce a sentence on him or something. She swallowed, very carefully considering her next words:

            “I will accept your apology… If you will accept mine.”

The Company all looked stunned at that, with Kíli and Ori’s jaws dropping, and Nori’s eyebrows shooting up to his hairline.

            “I owe all of you an apology, for that matter,” Sona continued, fastidiously avoiding looking at Thorin. She did not believe he would approve of her apologizing for anything in this situation. “I’ve not been completely honest with you, and I know how curious dwarves are.” Bofur gave a chagrined chuckle at that, and Sona beamed at him, grateful for his levity in this tension filled situation. “I know that doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but still, I’m almost surprised this didn’t happen sooner.” She returned her gaze to a still very much stunned Nori. “So, do you accept my apology?”

            He swallowed and looked back at his brothers who frantically nodded their heads and waved him on.

            “Aye.” Nori nodded stiffly. “But—”

            “Then I accept yours, and that means we are good, and you are forgiven, and as far as I’m concerned, this never happened.” She gave him half smile. “Next time, just ask, okay?”

            He nodded again, and Sona looked back at the rest of the gathered Company, most still seemingly flabbergasted at the turn of events.

            “Well, I suppose the cat’s out of the bag now.” She bit her lower lip as she shrugged one shoulder awkwardly. “What would you like to know?”


 

            What they’d wanted to know varied by personality, but once they were made to understand that she was from another world the questions flew. Some, like, was everything she’d told them about herself from before true, (yes), were easier to answer than others, like, how she’d come to be in Arda, or why she was there. She had not told them that they had, at one point, been nothing more than fictional stories to her. Because, for starters, they absolutely were not, and she could not, even for a moment, think of them in that way. Additionally, Gandalf had been very clear that she should not reveal to anyone her foreknowledge, though she had to explain to the Company just how it was she knew some things. And so, swearing them all to secrecy—though she knew that was unnecessary at this point; none of them would betray her confidence—she told a little lie.

            “I’m from the future. The faaaaaaar future. Middle Earth is just called Earth now and everything that happens in your time has been recorded in our histories. To many,” like Professor Tolkien, “it’s been so long you’re considered legend at this point.”

            This had brought more jaw dropping and some other very curious looks.

            “So…” Fíli had begun, not at all surprised that she was not of Middle Earth, though the “from the future” aspect of it seemed to throw him off a bit, “you know all that awaits us; what will come to pass?”

            “Oh goodness, no. Not at all.” Sona had gone on to explain that she had a broad general knowledge about things, but had been, on the whole, a very poor “history student,” focusing big picture events and cultures of Middle Earth, particularly in this general era, rather than specific individuals.

            “Ahhhh, that’s why you know so much about elves.” Balin had nodded. “They likely read much prettier on paper than Durin’s folk.” He’d winked at her to let her know he was only teasing.

            “Or perhaps it was because Durin’s folk are so damn secretive that there wasn’t much to read about.” Sona had cocked her head to the side and raised an eyebrow in challenge, and nearly everyone laughed at that, acknowledging it to be so.

            “But Gimli! You know of my wee lad Gimli,” Gloin had pressed, and Sona could not help but smile.

            “Yes, I do.”

            Gloin’s eyes had lit up, though he had, surprisingly enough not asked any further questions, saying only:

            “‘Tis enough to see your smile and the way your eyes light with excitement at the mention of his name.”

            Balin and Dwalin had both seemed completely unsurprised at the discovery of her foreknowledge of certain things, and of course, Thorin knew all—he alone knew the full truth.

Kíli had immediately asked about her phone: what was it and what was its purpose? She thought it best to show them the limited things it could do without an internet connection, and played them a bit of music (P!nk’s Raise Your Glass seemed appropriate since they all loved it and it showed what Sona meant when she said she played an “acoustic cover”), and some photos of her family (the Ur family had asked about them) and her home. She’d just gathered the Company tightly together and taken a grinning “selfie” with the entire group when her screen went black, her phone well and truly dead. To be honest she was shocked it had lasted as long as it did.

            Ori had asked descriptions about everything, and Sona could see how transfixed he’d become on every single photo (before the battery in her phone died)—as if he was memorizing every single detail. Nori, once he’d recovered enough to speak (this was well after dinner and Beorn had left to hunt orc, and they were all gathered around the hearth), had hesitantly asked her for stories.

            Not life stories from Sona… but “popular tales from her time” like the songs she’d been singing at the base of the Carrock.

            This had caused Sona a moment of embarrassment as she recalled her own poor behavior there (by braiding Thorin’s hair uninvited), and how graciously everyone else had overlooked it, but she pressed on, and told them the story of Aladdin, a thief who won the heart of a jaded princess with a little help from his monkey, Abu (“a semi-intelligent furry animal companion”), and a genie (“a magical being who can grant wishes… like a wizard in some ways”).

            For some reason Sona couldn’t figure out Dwalin was absolutely enamored of this particular story—grinning the entire time—and she’d told it with as much gusto as she could manage, singing all the songs and impersonating voices as best she could.

            Bofur had pressed for another story though Thorin had squashed that immediately.

            “We leave for Mirkwood in the morning,” he’d reminded them, and everyone had shuffled off to pack and prepare, and get a final night of sleep in relative comfort.

            Which was how Sona found herself sitting at Beorn’s kitchen table sewing by lamplight.

            Though she trusted that none of the Company would ever go through her things again… she did not trust that someone outside the company would not. And so, she was sewing a tiny pocket into the waistband of all her leggings so she could carry the Ring at all times without having to actually touch it.

            Or look at it. Sona’s stomach lurched, hating its very existence. I’m never EVER using this thing.

            That small matter taken care of, Sona took to repacking her belongings, when her hands strayed to the pouches the Ri brothers had given her. Upon inspection she was shocked to discover they were filled with gold coins.

            “What the hell?” She did not like that. No, not one bit. It felt as if they were trying to pay her to not be angry with them, and that was ridiculous, no one should have to pay to be forgiven—

            “Honor demanded it.” Thorin’s voice rumbled, and Sona quickly looked up, taking in his exhausted features, as he leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed and eyes fixed on her.

            She nodded, not entirely understanding, but knowing well enough that though she was not comfortable with it, she had to let them do it, for their own sakes.

            “Our cultures are so very different.” Sona closed the pouches and placed them inside of her pack before zipping it closed. “I wonder if I’ll ever come to understand yours.”

            “Do you want to?”

            “Oh yes!” The words were immediate, and Sona blushed. Calm down. “I find it fascinating.”

            Thorin’s brows furrowed together. It was only a slight motion, but Sona caught it, and quickly clarified. “I don’t mean in like a ‘oh look at these quaint little dwarves and their backwards ways’ but in a ‘there is so much richness, depth, and majesty to them…I wonder how much they’ll be willing to share with me’ kind of way.” She looked away, feeling suddenly shy, and spun her name ring around her pinky finger. “I keep waiting for one of you to tell me to stop asking questions, to stop being so nosey, that it’s none of my business…”

            Thorin made no answer, and Sona snuck a sidelong peek at him to find the dwarf scrutinizing her. She didn’t understand his expression fully, but could see that he was evaluating her in some way.

            She thought about the events of the day as she looked down at her wide, flat ring as it spun round and round, remembering Thorin’s curtailed sparring with Dwalin, followed by her blunder at the stream when she’d interrupted his bath, only to be capped off by the discovery of her phone and the events thereafter.

            A wave of exhaustion passed over her as she felt the full weight of the emotional tumult of the day.

            “Will you not retire?”

            Sona looked up then, and once again took in Thorin’s tired eyes and bearing.

            “Sure…” He seemed to brighten fractionally at this. “…if you do.”

            A frown touched the corners of his mouth. “I still have much to—”

            “Nope. No way. Don’t give me that, Grump-muffin.” She put her hands on her hips, feet spread, doing her best Wonder Woman power stance. “You’re exhausted and you’re going to at least try to sleep tonight. Come on.” And, taking him by the hand, she led him back to the barn area where the others had settled in for the night. She refused to get in her sleeping bag until she saw him settled into his bedroll.

            She could tell he was frustrated, but he didn’t fight her on it, and she didn’t feel one ounce of guilt over using his care for her welfare against him.

            If anything, Sona tried to tamp down the tingle it sent up her spine that it had worked… that Thorin cared for her well being was clear. What exactly that care meant… now that was a question Sona was afraid to ponder. And so, as her eyes finally closed at the end of this very long, and emotionally trying day, and a fat little pug snuggled against her for one last night of sleep at Beorn’s, she didn’t.

            I can worry about that tomorrow.

 

Chapter Text

 

What if you don't like me

What if I'm being naive

Maybe it's love, sure I don't know

I hardly know you

And I don't want to let you go

And I don't want to let you go

            -Chasing Rubies, Hudson Taylor


 

            The sound of a harp was the first thing Sona became aware of. She was in a tall, wide corridor, either deep inside a fortress of some sort or…

            Erebor.

There were tall angular lines and runes carved everywhere, and well-lit columns with cleverly placed light sources she could not see giving it a majestic, sweeping feeling to the space. It was what she imagined Moria would have looked like had the Fellowship arrived while Balin was still alive to receive them and the goblins had been held at bay.

            She lifted a hand to trace a finger against the carved angular patterns against the wall as she walked toward the sound of the harp, and blinked. A swirling design of henna had been drawn from just above her wrist, sweeping languidly across the side of her hand, up to her ring finger, skipping over to her middle, and then wrapped its way down her index finger. She’d had much fuller and more elaborate designs done in the past, but the simplicity of the reddish ink here brought a smile to her face. It was elegant and felt right for the moment. She would have to ask Ori if he could help her find some henna when she woke up.

            For she was dreaming, of that she was certain. And like the previous dreams, this one was just as vibrant and real feeling… only the tenor of it was slightly different. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it was almost as if she’d pushed her way in… though that made no sense.

            A dream was a dream… wasn’t it?

            The music—melancholic yet lovely in its depths—became louder, and she wished with all her heart she was there with it, and suddenly, she was.

            Thorin sat before her in a well lit, comfortably furnished room, playing a full sized harp, much like he had in Rivendell. Only the instrument before him was very different than the last; still a full sized harp, but that was where the similarities ended. Where the last harp had been elegant and almost delicate in its elvish lines and sound, the one he played now… well, it suited him. It was slightly smaller in frame, but more robust, stocky, and angular. Still quite beautiful—more so than the elvish harp, Sona thought—it was dark and earthy in color and tone and fit Thorin absolutely perfectly, as if it had been made for him. Which, Sona realized, it likely had.

            The dwarf she was studying suddenly looked up, skillful fingers stilling against the strings almost in a caress.

            “Asti.”

            That was not the first time he’d said that when Sona had taken him by surprise—she didn’t know if it was the Khuzdûl word for “thief” or some other less flattering exclamation, but she decided not to ask. She liked how the word sounded on his lips and didn’t want it ruined for her.

            “Thief, what are you doing here?” He’d recovered his surprise, and tilted the harp back upright, though he did not get up from his seat.

            “I heard you playing… so I came to see you.” Sona blinked, confused. Her other dreams had not gone like this at all. Her cheeks flushed a bit at the memory of those dreams. Why was her subconscious giving her grump-muffin Thorin this time? “You’ve never minded before…”

            She walked forward, the trailing edge of her red sari swishing across the smooth stone floor behind her.

            “Do you want me to leave?” Sona traced one fingertip along the silky smooth surface of the harp’s back. A frown tinged her lips as she realized her guitar calluses were fading—it had been too long since she’d played anything.

            “You mistake me…” Thorin’s lower lip pulled back against his teeth; a miniscule movement, but Sona caught it all the same. “You should not be here, Thief. This is my dream.”

            Sona laughed, relieved. “Is that all?” She rounded the harp and stopped at his side, gazing down at him. “Given that I’m here I’d say that makes this my dream too, and I’ve just as much a right to it as you do.”

            He had no answer for her and merely looked down at his hands resting in his lap. Sona felt her breath hitch as his hair fell about his shoulders with the movement and she had to resist the temptation to bury her fingers in it—the memory of its feel searing through her.

            Whoa, calm down, Sona.

            “Scootch.” Sona nudged him back with a gentle shove to his shoulder and his eyes were suddenly fastened back on hers, confusion evident on his face over her request.

            “Pardon?”

            “Scoooootch.” She pushed against him again, slightly more forceful, though he did not budge. “Move back and give me some space, otherwise I’m gonna sit on your lap.”

            A part of Sona greatly wished to be able to go through with that threat.

            Thorin blinked, but then obligingly slid back, and before he could protest, Sona positioned herself between his legs, facing the harp.

            “The last time we were in Erebor you showed me your workbench…” She suddenly felt shy. Why did she feel shy? This was just a dream… She should feel exhilarated! Excited! Anything but shy…and anxious. “…I was thinking maybe you could show me how to play your harp too?”

            Thorin did not respond at first and she could see his hands resting on his knees on either side of her, clenched tightly. Finally, he spoke:

            “You want this?”

            “Of course.” She felt herself relax. “I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise.”

            Thorin’s hands loosened and Sona smiled; she would get her lesson.

            And then, quite suddenly, the full length and breadth of his chest was pressed against her back. Her breath hitched again as his chin came over her shoulder and his mouth, so close to her she could almost feel it moving against the shell of her ear, murmured:

            “As you wish, Thief.”

            Sona’s heart raced as he picked her arms up at the elbows and then skimmed his hands lightly down her skin until their fingers met and he placed them lightly against the strings.

            This was a terrible idea. Sona grinned as she snuggled back closer against him. The smell of cardamom and pine filled her senses and the warmth from his body surrounded her. The best terrible idea EVER.


 

            Sona woke feeling refreshed and well rested, with the warmth of a snoring pug at her stomach and a matching chorus of dwarf snores around her.

            Thorin!

Sitting up, she crawled out of her sleeping bag and tip-toed over to Thorin’s side, her a smile growing as she took in the sight before her.

            Thorin was half out of his bedroll, leg and arm flung out freely to the side, while his head was thrown back, hair fanned out around him, and mouth slightly open as deep, slow breathing moved in and out in time with his rising and falling chest. It wasn’t exactly snoring, but he was certainly not a silent sleeper when he was deeply asleep, and Sona was certain that he was.

Every other time she’d seen him sleep he’d always appeared on the verge of waking up. Now, he looked just like her nephew did after spending a day running and playing on the beach, completely worn out and exhausted from the sun and excitement. Nothing could wake Mat from a sleep that deep and Sona had always envied him the ability. She was grateful Thorin was finally getting some much needed rest.

            Leaning forward, she gently tugged his covers up from his waist to his chest, eyes lingering on the hair that peeked out from the vee in his blue shirt, and the dream came rushing back to her.

            What was that dream? Why was it so different from the others?

            She straightened, biting her lip as she considered.

            Thorin.

Thorin had been different. It was almost as if he’d been… really there.

            Impossible!

            But… was it really? In a land from books and filled with magic where she’d somehow arrived… was it really impossible that she and Thorin had shared a dream?

            And if he really had been there… did that mean he’d actually been in all the other dreams as well?

            She felt her face flush at the thought.

            Oh no. Nononononononono.

            He was going to think she wanted to be more than friends… which, she realized she maybe did… Okay, if she was being honest with herself she definitely did.

            But… what if he hadn’t actually been there? What if it was just a really weird dream this time?

            It felt so real. Just like the others…

            Thorin shifted minutely in his sleep, mumbling in Khuzdûl as his hand opened and then closed as if he were reaching for something but couldn’t find it.

            Cocking her head to the side as she watched him, Sona decided it didn’t matter.

Nothing inappropriate had really happened in any of the dreams. Sona had just let her wild imagination run away with the smallest look and bit of touch from him. All they’d done was…cuddle. And even that was a bit of a stretch. Usually under the pretense of him showing her something of his world, but other than taking comfort in each other’s company… no, nothing had happened. The dreams were innocent, and, if he really was there sharing in her dream—or her sharing in his, however it went—it seemed to help him sleep in any case.

            And truly… she enjoyed the dreams. She was free with Thorin there. He was less restrained… even in this last one where he’d seemed to be aware for the first time that they were shared.

            So, if the dreams were “real,” meaning shared by them both, well then, they were doing Thorin good and helping him sleep, and she considered that a win.

            And if they weren’t real, and remained a fantasy born of her own buried wishes and desires… well then, aside from torturing herself somewhat with things that would never be, she saw no harm in them.

            So she decided to let the matter be and not bring it up unless Thorin did.

            With that, Sona gave the slumbering dwarf king one more lingering look and left to join Beorn for one last morning of honey gathering.


 

            Gandalf was waiting for them when they returned with the honey.

            “You’re back!” Sona smiled at him, but didn’t bother to ask where he’d gone. She knew enough about this particular wizard to know he’d tell her if he wanted her to know, or be irritatingly vague if he didn’t.

            “Indeed, my dear.” He tapped out his pipe and hid it away somewhere in the many folds of his robes and walked inside with her. “You’ve been busy.”

            Sona froze, though it wasn’t at Gandalf’s comment.

            No.

            It was at the sight of Thorin eating a plateful of Bombur’s honey scones with so much obvious pleasure and gusto it almost made Sona blush to hear the appreciative noises coming from his mouth.

            “My lady.” Bombur swept by and placed a mug of chai in her hands, and Sona blinked, forcing herself to stop staring at Thorin thoroughly enjoying his breakfast. It seemed a good night of sleep had boosted his appetite.

            Bless Bombur for making his favorite.

            “I’m sorry, Gandalf… what were you saying?” She gave the wizard a sidelong glance, and he merely chuckled and shook his head before joining the remaining dwarves at the breakfast table.

            They were all cheerful, eager to be getting back on the road.

            Balin was sitting next to the Wizard, packing up the maps a huge grin on his face, quite happy to be moving again. Bifur was, as usual, whittling something out of a shank of wood—likely another delightful toy or some other amusement. Ori—a soft smile on his face—was concentrating on his notebook, charcoal in hand, while he sketched. Fíli's attention was divided between watching his uncle eat to watching Sasha play tug of war with Smells the Flowers. Gloin was on one side of Thorin, happily digging into his own breakfast as well, and occasionally jostling Thorin’s shoulder with his own as they ate.

Kíli walked in just then, hair bedraggled with bits of hay in it, and headed straight to the table, eying Thorin's breakfast, clearly looking for his own. Nori, looking very much recovered from the previous day’s events, was whispering something in Dwalin's ear, causing said dwarf to nod and chuckle. Bofur’s head popped up from a game of chess with Oin, while all the while, Bombur and Dori kept bringing people food.

It seemed Beorn was the only somber one of the bunch.

Thorin beamed at Sona when she sat beside him, and went so far as to offer her one of his scones. She took one, very cognizant of the gesture, and nibbled on it, trying to both watch and not watch Thorin eat.

            She wanted to ask if he’d slept well, but definitely wanted to avoid the dream subject with him, so settled on sipping her cardamom tea and listening to the others as they cheerfully chatted back and forth about the journey ahead. Someone—Sona suspected Dwalin—got them singing a rousing chorus of “A Whole New World” and she couldn’t help but laugh, so very glad that her blunder with Thorin’s hair was now just something they recalled with amusement… she truly felt like one of them. Like she belonged.

            As for Thorin… well, he remained very focused on his honey scones.


 

            Peanut whined as Sona held him in her arms one last time.

            She was loathe to leave the peace of Beorn’s lands, but knew that Durin’s Day was quickly approaching and they could not spend more time here. Thorin was recovered and the others were restless.

            “I wish I could take you with me.” She hugged the pug tightly as tears pricked her eyes. This was likely the last time she would ever see her tubby little companion. “But a journey like this is no place for a little fellow like you.”

            Sona tried to set him down, but he immediately began crying as only a pug could*, somehow realizing she was saying goodbye, and definitely not approving, so she held onto him for a bit longer.

            They were all gathered in the woods just outside of Beorn’s protective wall, very near the place where Sona had left a bit of David’s ashes. He would have appreciated Beorn’s peaceful abode.

A neigh sounded and Sona eyed the gathered horses and ponies warily. The skinchanger and Gandalf were to the side having a hushed conversation, and Sona watched as the dwarves mounted their chosen ponies. Only Thorin and Dwalin were still left.

            Crap.

            She’d forgotten they’d be riding to the borders of Mirkwood.

            “Honey, I have a friend for you.”

            Sona turned, still holding Peanut in her arms as Beorn led a gentle looking chestnut mare forward. She hoped he was not going to do what she thought he was going to do.

            “This is Violet.” He scratched the white star on the horse’s forehead. She was bigger than a pony, but much smaller than the horse he had for Gandalf. “She’s agreed to bear you.”

            Yep, he was doing exactly what Sona was afraid of. She clung to Peanut tighter.

            “Oh… well that’s… kind of her.” Her eyes darted around looking for some avenue of escape. “But, uh… you know what? I’m walking. So please thank her for me, but no, I’m walking.”

            Beorn just laughed before scooping Sona up and plopping her on top of Violet’s back.

            She gave a very undignified shriek at the sudden movement and would have dropped Peanut in her terror had the larger man not plucked the little pug from her arms. Sona clung to the saddle horn so tightly her knuckles whitened, and let out another shriek when the horse tossed her head.

            And then Thorin was there, a calming hand on the horse’s nose as he spoke quietly to her. Sona’s heart was still racing, but she felt slightly better at Thorin’s nearness. She opened her mouth to ask him to help her down, when he placed one booted foot in the stirrup (she’d been too terrified to even think about doing so herself), and, grabbing onto either side of the saddle, pulled himself up and settled in behind Sona.

            Her eyes widened as he leaned forward—his chest pressing against her back just as it had during the harp lesson in the dream—and reached past her, gathering the reins in his hands.

            Breath, Sona. BREATH.

She hoped he would take her continued rigidity and white knuckled grip on the saddle horn as continued fear of the horse and not what it actually was: a hyper awareness to every inch of him that was currently touching her from the arms around her waist, to his thighs molded behind hers.

            How did I ever think those dreams were realistic? Nothing can compare to the actual thing!

            She belated realized Beorn was talking to her and Peanut was crying and wriggling in his arms, trying to come back to her, breaking her heart with every moan he made.

            “…hope you will come back for a visit some time once you complete your journey. You will always be welcome here.”

            Sona gave the towering man a shaky smile, feeling genuine fondness for him, despite his penchant for flinging her atop dangerous animals.

            “Thank you, Beorn. We all thank you for your generous hospitality,” her eyes darted to Sasha as she and Smells the Flowers wrestled one last time, “and if you ever need anything from any of us, don’t hesitate to ask.” Then she leaned toward the skinchanger, somehow knowing Thorin’s arms would automatically tighten around her waist, stabilizing her, and gave Beorn a soft kiss on his whiskered cheek. “One day your son will be a great chieftain among your people.”

Then she gave Peanut a kiss on the top of his little head along with one last scratch of his velvety soft ears.

            Beorn had an almost hopeful look on his face until he shifted his gaze to Thorin and sobered. “Go. Now. While you have the light. Your hunters are not far.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold

You say you want your story to remain untold.

All the promises we make

From the cradle to the grave

When all I want is you.

            -U2


 

            “If you do not relax in your seat, you will be sorely pained when we stop, Thief.” Thorin finally spoke, breaking the half hour silence that had fallen over them after they’d left Beorn’s. “I will not let you fall.”

            His arms tightened fractionally around Sona’s waist and, if possible, she sat even more rigidly than before. How could she tell him that it wasn’t the horse that was causing her discomfort, but him?

            And discomfort was the wrong word.

            No, this was downright torture.

            How could she keep her thoughts were they ought to be—friendly—when he held her like that? No matter what she did, no matter how many songs she hummed or sang quietly to herself, she would trail off the moment he shifted his position at all, hyper aware of some new sensation of Thorin touching her. The constant rocking gait of the horse did not help things. Not at all.

            How would she survive the next ten minutes, much less the day?

            Still… she could already feel the muscles in her lower back and thighs ache with the strain of keeping everything so tense. So, determining to keep her mind off the actual action and feeling of the position, she relaxed back into Thorin’s embrace.

            She heard a sharp intake of breath at her sudden movement, and swallowed. Well… he had told her to relax…

            But maybe he didn’t mean to lie back against him.

            Before she could sit back up, though, he’d already shifted; adjusting his arms and hold on the reigns, and moving his head such that she was now resting against his shoulder. As his warm cheek pressed against the side of her head, Sona realized he could see better now too… she no longer blocked his view of the road before them.

            Oh no! No wonder he was shifting so much! He had to keep looking around me!

            Sona resolved to do whatever he suggested with regards to riding the horse in the future—she did not want to be a bigger burden than she already was.

            And to be honest, this was far more comfortable. For many reasons.

            Reasons she did not want to think about.

            Stupid crush.

            “Thorin?” She had to get out of her own head, and there was something that had been nagging her ever since the phone incident.

            “Hmmm?”

Her eyes widened as she felt his rumbled response through her back. She swallowed.

Focus, Sona!

“Why does the Company need a burglar?” She could only imagine the way his brows furrowed together at her question, so she clarified. “You already have Nori.”

Thorin tensed behind her, but it was Gandalf who answered: “Smaug would smell a dwarf in an instant. You alone, Sona, will be able to get inside Erebor undetected.”

Sona’s eyes widened and she sat straight up, heedless of Thorin’s arms tightening around her. “You want me to what? Sneak inside a dragon’s lair ARE YOU CRAZY?

“I don’t see why you are so upset, my dear.” The wizard looked truly confused. “You did sign the contract… you knew you would be employed as a burglar.”

“No one ever told me that I would be STEALING FROM A DRAGON.” Sona’s heart was racing and she thought she was going to be sick.

“You won’t be stealing, lass,” Bofur came up along their other side. “You’ll only be taking back what’s rightfully ours. He stole from us first.”

“Let me off.” Sona felt confined, trapped, like the world was collapsing in around her, even though she was in the open air. She needed a moment alone. She needed to think. Away from the other dwarves. Away from Thorin’s distracting embrace.

“The orcs still pursue us.” Thorin finally spoke.

“Let. Me. Off.”

He only tightened his hold on the reins.

Fine. If he won’t let me off, I’m getting off on my own. Sona pushed against him, intending to slide off the walking horse, but his arms were like iron. Thorin moved the reins to one hand and wrapped his free arm tightly around her waist, hand gripping her ribcage gently, but tightly.

She wasn’t going anywhere.

Knowing it was useless to fight back or to try to wriggle out—she remembered how it had been when Dwalin carried her into the cave the last time the orcs pursued them—Sona crossed her arms over her chest, fuming.

“Let me go. Now.”

“I will not allow you to put yourself in harm’s way.”

At that Sona’s eyebrows raised and she looked over her shoulder, meeting Thorin’s gaze squarely. “You won’t allow me?”

Her eyes narrowed and her lips compressed into a thin line before she leaned in close to his ear and spoke so that only he could hear. “You’d better get us out of here right now before I tear you a new one in front of everyone.”

Then she turned and silently began counting, deciding to give him until five.

She only made it to the count of three before Thorin dug his heels into Violet’s sides and they were galloping away from the rest of the Company.


 

By the time they stopped, about five terrifying minutes later, most of Sona’s initial anger with Thorin had cooled, though she still had a thing or two to say to him about “allowing” her to do things.

The ride itself had been horrifying as they tore across the landscape, and Sona had pressed herself as far back against Thorin as she could, gripping the arm he had wrapped around her as tightly as possible. If he didn’t have bruises from it, she would be shocked.

They finally slowed to a gradual stop near a rocky outcropping and some solitary trees that provided some cover. Thorin swiftly released Sona and swung off their mount. Sona tried to emulate him, but only succeeded in sliding off the side, and her legs would have buckled beneath her had he not immediately been at her side to steady her. One hand around her waist and the other firmly under her elbow, Thorin guided Sona on her shaky legs to a nearby low boulder and sat her down before he returned to Violet.

The horse was breathing harder than before—which should have been no shock to Sona, given that she’d just galloped for what had surely been at least a mile, bearing two riders. Sona immediately felt guilty realizing that it was her emotional, fury filled demand that had caused this.

Thorin rested a hand on the horse’s chest in a few places, and then, seemingly satisfied that she was fine, nodded.

“Are you going to ‘tear me a new one’ now?” he asked without turning; the words almost bitter in their delivery. Sona closed her eyes in embarrassment over allowing her emotions to drive her thoughtless words and behavior. He had every right to be upset with her… just as she did with him.

“No.” She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. “But you don’t get to decide what I can or can’t do.”

He half turned his head toward her, leaving his face in profile, chin angled down.

“I will not allow you to be harmed.”

“That’s not your decision to make.” Sona straightened, her ire beginning to rise again.

He turned then, eyes blazing, hands clenched at his side. “You are a member of my Company.”

“Yes, and as such, I signed up for the exact same danger and peril as everyone else.” Sona pushed herself shakily to her feet. “Orcs and dragons included.”

Thorin crossed his arms over his chest, mouth pressed firmly together.

“You can’t have it both ways, Thorin.” Sona crossed her arms, mimicking his posture. “I’m a member of your Company so yes, that means you make decisions for what we do as a Company. But for me as an individual? No. Never.”

Thorin did not answer, and Sona didn’t expect him to. She’d said her piece and he’d remained stubbornly silent so the conversation was over as far as she was concerned.

“Now, what in the world is so important that you need to send someone into a dragon’s lair to steal?”

            After a few moments Thorin finally thawed some and heaved a sigh. “It is a long story… although we may be somewhat safe at present, I would prefer we moved on.” He extended a hand out toward Sona. “Please come? I give my word to answer your questions as we ride.”

            “Well, since you asked so nicely…” Sona gave him a half smile as she placed her hand in his, and then allowed him to give her a leg up onto Violet’s back. She found she far preferred this method of mounting a horse to Beorn’s. Aside from the fact that Thorin touched her thigh (albeit, briefly) when he did it (and it was awesome), it also had the added benefit of being much less terrifying.

            Thorin swung up behind her, and she settled in against him without being prompted as his arms came around her once again. Though this time instead of holding onto the reins with both hands, he resumed his last posture, and held them with one hand, while his left arm snaked around her waist once again, hand firmly against her ribs.

            She was not about to leap off the horse; though she did not blame him for ensuring it did not happen.

            And once again, it felt rather nice…

            Would he ride like this with anyone else in the Company?

            She instinctively knew he would not. Not unless it was Fíli or Kíli back when they were children. Or one of the Company was injured. So unless he thought of her as a child…

            Don’t be silly, Sona. He only—

            “We call it the Arkenstone,” he began. “Found centuries ago, when Thrór was King under the Mountain—”

            “Your grandfather?”

            Thorin nodded and continued, his voice rumbling against Sona’s back. “—while our miners delved for precious gems hewn from rock, extracting gold that ran like rivers through stone. Down in the dark they found it, the Heart of the Mountain...the Arkenstone.”

Sona settled her arms over his, hands lightly holding onto his forearm, listening intently.

“My Grandfather named it the King's Jewel, claiming it as a sign from Mahal that his right to rule was divine. Many folk paid homage, even... well; it does not matter." Thorin paused for a bit before continuing their trek over an open plain. "We had no warning. None at all.”

Sona felt his hand tighten fractionally on her waist and she leaned in closer to him, wishing she could give him a hug. She had a good idea of what came next. “You don’t have to—”

“It sounded upon us like a fierce desert storm, with the pines on the mountain creaking and cracking in the hot, dry wind. A Firedrake from the North, Smaug, fell upon the city of Dale briefly, burning where he would, but his eye was bent upon Erebor, where he sensed the presence of my Grandfather's gold-filled treasury, for Dragons covet gold with a dark and fierce desire, and blasting through our defenses with fire and ash, he claimed it for his own, to guard as his plunder for as long as he should live...”

Sona gasped. She could not imagine the death and destruction that Smaug must have rained down on them. That any of them had made it out alive was astonishing. A miracle.

“What did you do?”

“What could I do?” Thorin’s voice was not angry… more, resigned. “Robbed of our homeland, we wandered for a time. I took work where I could find it, laboring in the villages of Men. Anything to feed those in my care.”

Sona was almost afraid to ask… because she thought she already knew the answer given some of Thorin’s past comments. “What about… the elves? Did no one help you?”

“Thranduil did not honor his promises.” Thorin’s voice was brittle, and Sona immediately regretted asking. “No help came from the Elves that day.”

Biting her lip, Sona snuck a quick peek up at him. His eyes were fixed on the road before them, face stony.

Better stop talking about elves.

“So, back to this Arkenstone thingy… why do you want me to sneak into Smaug’s lair—”

“No.” Thorin’s arm tightened around her again. “I do not want you anywhere near that dragon.”

Sona’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline… he’d sounded rather intense. Almost as if he… but no. No, she was being foolish again. “Okaaaaay…” She drew out the word, still surprised by his reaction. “But back to the stone… Do you need it because you can’t be king without it?”

“I seek it because it is the only way to unite the seven Dwarf Clans. The Arkenstone's meaning unites us; every house has sworn it. Once I have the Stone, I can gather an army and take back the Mountain.”

Sona swallowed. She did not like the sound of that at all. A lot of people would be injured and die… was this the big battle at the end of The Hobbit she vaguely remembered? Bilbo got the stone, and Thorin united the dwarves and they took back the mountain… and in turn got their home back and were a critical fortification in the War of the Ring?

But there has to be another way to get the mountain back without all that death and destruction, no matter what Thorin says about dragons and their hordes.

“I’ll do it.”

“No.” Thorin’s answer was immediate, brooking no argument, and Sona angled her head to look at him again, while he kept his gaze fixed firmly on the road before them.

“What did I just say about you making choices for me?” She kept her voice gentle, so he knew she was not upset, just making a point. “Is it the pacifist thing again? Because I’m not going to kill or hurt the dragon.” She nearly laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion. “I’m just going to slip in and steal a rock.” Sona turned her head forward and leaned back against his shoulder. “Besides, do you know anyone else in the Company who has the ability to become invisible thanks to a certain artifact?”

Thorin didn’t reply, but only held her closer and leaned his cheek against the crown of her head.


 

A/N

AN ENTIRE CHAPTER OF JUST THESE TWO AND LOTS OF CUDDLES. I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY. :)

Chapter Text

 

When you hold me

In your arms so tight

You let me know

Everything's all right

I'm hooked on a feeling

I'm high on believing

That you're in love with me

            - Blue Swede


 

While traveling alone together, it was easy for Sona’s imagination to run wild and for her to begin to believe that maybe… perhaps… Thorin harbored feelings for her that went beyond simple friendship. Why else would he be so vehemently opposed to her doing what she was contracted for—facing the dragon? Why else would he be so protective of her in general? Why else would he be holding her so tightly now? Why else would he…

But no. It was foolish. She was being so foolish, for once they’d reunited with the Company—who were all kind enough to not say anything about the manner of their departure—she noticed others riding double too, not just her and Thorin. Which made her recall that she’d always seen him being physically affectionate with them too. Always grasping their shoulders, or bumping their heads together—she’d seen all the others being that way as well. Dwarves were, on the whole, very touchy.

Sona was not.

She only let people she trusted and truly care for touch her, and she most certainly only did it in return if she had genuine affection for the person. So the fact that she was currently snuggling up against Thorin while they rode… well, while it meant a lot to her—

Their horses suddenly stopped, and Gandalf dismounted, announcing: “The Elven Gate.”

Sona stifled a yawn, wondering how she could be exhausted from simply being a passenger for the better part of the day, but was grateful all the same for Thorin’s assistance in getting down from Violet. Her legs felt wobbly, but strong enough to stand on their own, and she gave Thorin a quick nod when he looked at her, silently asking if she was all right.

“Here lies our path through Mirkwood,” the wizard continued.

Our path? Sona paused, looking at Gandalf curiously… she seemed to recall that he did not go with the Company into Mirkwood. Else why would Bilbo have to set the Company free from the spiders or the Douche-King’s prison?

Oh crap, the spiders! She swallowed and sought out Thorin. He’d asked where they encountered them and only now did she remember. Fat lot of good it’ll do us if we can’t go any other way.

“No sign of the Orcs.” Dwalin took in their surroundings, hefting one of his axes as he stood near Sona. “We have luck on our side.”

Gandalf narrowed his eyes, and Sona followed his gaze to a ridge top where a large black bear stood guard.

Beorn!

Set the ponies loose. Let them return to their master.” Gandalf said over his shoulder as he walked toward the forest entrance.

“Gandalf, wait…” Sona peered deeper into the forest, her gut clenching. She knew it held nothing but trouble for them. “Can we go another way? I don’t like this.”

Thorin looked at her sharply, paying keen attention to what she did not say, but it was the wizard who answered.

Not unless we go two hundred miles north, or twice that distance…south.” Gandalf stepped through the gate to inspect something, and Sona was about to walk to Thorin only to find him already at her side.

“What is it?” he whispered, careful not to clue the others to her elevated distress.

“Spiders,” she breathed.

Thorin nodded, immediately understanding, then looked into the forest as if considering his options. “The wizard is right… we cannot risk the time going around.” He passed his hand over his beard and Sona followed the movement as though she was starving and he was her dinner.

Focus, Sona!

“…but with your warning, Thief, they will face us armed and ready. We will know to look for signs. It will go well.”

Before Sona could respond, Gandalf burst out of the forest quickly commanding the dwarves not to free his horse.

“You’re leaving us.” Sona blinked… it seemed certain things were fixed in the story, no matter what her presence did. Things like Gandalf leaving them… to do… what exactly? And did that also mean the spiders and capture by the elves were also fixed?

“I would not do this unless I had to.” The wizard peered out from under his hat at her. “My dear, while you are not at all who I had planned for this Company… I think you will still work out rather nicely. Differently, but still nicely.”

“Thaaanks.” Sona tried to keep the sarcasm out of her voice, but given the way Gandalf raised one eyebrow and pursed his lips in that annoying way of his, she suspected it’d still come through quite loudly.

“I’ll be waiting for you at the overlook, before the slopes of Erebor.” He reached for his horse, but looked over his shoulder at Thorin. “Keep the map and key safe. Do not enter that mountain without me.”

Sona rolled her eyes, and muttered “yes dad” under her breath. As if Thorin wouldn’t keep the map and key safe. And as for entering the mountain… well, she didn’t see as how that was any of Gandalf’s business, especially given that he was leaving them. Nor was it his mountain or lost home.

It’s not mine either, for that matter. That thought made Sona rather sad. Though why should it? She was going home after this was all said and done.

Aren’t I?

The wizard mounted his horse and aimed it north before admonishing, “This is not the Greenwood of old, the very air of the forest is heavy with illusion that will seek to enter your mind and lead you astray.”

“Of course it is,” Sona sighed.

“You must stay on the path, do not leave it. If you do, you’ll never find it again.”

“Got it.”

He kicked his heels into the sides of his horse, and called one last time over his shoulder, “No matter what may come, stay on the path!”

“Because of course we were planning on blazing our very own trail. Oh honestly, does he think we’re idiots?” Sona grumbled to herself, knowing her irritation was mostly spawning from an attempt at covering her fear of the giant spiders this forest held, the fact that Gandalf was leaving them, and her conflicted feelings about this quest, Arda, and, well, mostly Thorin, if she was being honest with herself.

Then she heard a delightful sound… Thorin snorted. It was almost a full laugh.

At least someone appreciates my stupid humor.

He gave her a brief smile before turning toward the forest gate, rallying everyone with a reminder that Durin’s Day was approaching and that it was their only chance to find the hidden door.

And then I face a dragon.


 

            They did not walk far that evening—the darkness came quicker than it would have in the open, and, as if sensing Sona’s weariness, Thorin called the Company to an early stop. The fire Bombur managed was a sad little one; still he managed to cook up a simple stew for them, carefully preparing a meat free portion for Sona as always.

            As they settled in for the evening around the cook-fire, a somber mood weighing down on them all, Sona shivered. It felt as if the very air around them was dank and cold, trying to seep into her spirit like the ring did when she had to touch or look at it. She suddenly felt at the waistband of her leggings, panicking.

            Still there.

Sona breathed a sigh of relief, and then set her soup aside, suddenly feeling nauseated. She shivered again and immediately felt a heavy weight around her shoulders as warmth enveloped her. Looking down, she recognized Thorin’s fur coat in the flickering firelight. Though the scent and feel of the fur against her cheek would have given it away immediately had she not been able to see it.

Cardamom and pine, synonymous with Thorin for her now and forever.

He walked away before she could thank him, and Nori stopped her from going after Thorin by requesting another “Disney story” to help combat the gloom of the evening.

“Alright…” She looked over her shoulder, ensuring that Thorin did not go too far away. These woods were not safe… then she started. He was more than capable of defending himself. Why was she worried?

He leaned against a nearby tree and busied himself with lighting a pipe, so Sona returned her attention to the group. “Is there a specific kind of story you want?”

“Do you know any more stories about princesses and thieves?” Dwalin immediately asked, a cheeky grin on his face.

“No…” Sona flushed, finally understanding just why Dwalin liked that story so much. He knows about my crush… she wanted to die of embarrassment. If he knew, how many of others did? At the very least Fíli and Kíli. Maybe Balin too. And Bofur. Oh no. Oh noooooo—

“Do you know any about dwarves, Lady Sona?” Kíli sat down beside her. “Surely you have some tales of our kind?”

“Well, yes, my little prince, there is one I’m very familiar with.” A slow smile spread across Sona’s lips. “And as it happens, it has songs too.”

Kíli’s grin was immediate and Sona proceeded to tell the Company the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, complete with accompanying Disney songs.

None of them seemed to have any problem with the idea that the Prince and Snow immediately fell in love upon meeting—Sona supposed their concept of Ones aided them with that. They found the “Heigh Ho” song the dwarves sang to be amusing to the extreme, and immediately demanded she sing it again so they could all sing along. It was all Sona could do to not burst out laughing over the sight of twelve living and breathing Middle Earth dwarves singing and whistling “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s home from work we go…”

No, what they took issue with were the names for the dwarves. It seemed that Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, etc, were deemed to be completely ridiculous. Though Dwalin did allow that he had met many “Dopey” dwarves in his time.

“And I can see as how Grumpy might fit some.” The warrior’s gaze flitted over to Thorin, still standing somewhat apart from them, and Sona snorted, quickly covering it with a cough.

They adored the climax of the story, with the dwarves as the heroes, and she thought she detected Nori and Bombur weeping quietly when she described Snow White’s glass casket, and how the dwarves all maintained a vigil over her while she was in her deathlike slumber.

Resurrection with true love’s kiss, followed by riding off into the sunset, brought a heap of content sighs and demands were immediately made for another story, though once again squashed by Thorin.

“All of you need rest. I’ll take first watch.” He pointed at Dwalin and Bofur. “Second and third.”

The dwarves nodded and everyone busied themselves with shaking out their bedrolls and readying for bed. Sona stood and made her way to the edge of the camp and was just about to step beyond, when a touch she had grown to recognize halted her. She could never mistake the feel of Thorin’s callused fingers on the delicate skin of her inner wrist, the weight and heat of his hand, nor the gentle way in which he held her.

“I would prefer you not wander this night.” Thorin’s voice was low and husky.

“I’ll be right there.” Sona pointed at a tree not five feet off. “I just need a few minutes to myself… I promise not to wander.” No, not in these woods. A slight tremor ran through her at the very thought.

Thorin released her, though took a step closer, murmuring in her ear. “That tree—no farther. I will be watching.”

Sona nodded, her mouth dry, unable to speak, as she was suddenly hyper aware of how very close he was.

Get a grip! You were practically in his lap all flippin’ day, and now you’re freaking out because he’s standing near you. Really REALLY near you.

            Realizing that he was not about to move, Sona reluctantly took a step back and then turned and walked to the tree, claiming her few minutes of “alone time” to reset and recharge.

            She leaned against the trunk, pulling Thorin’s coat tight around her, and inhaled his scent.

            Maybe… maybe he really does like me. Like… LIKE me like me… maybe.


 

            That evening, after giving Thorin back his coat, Sona slept fitfully, alternating between shivering and sweating, and waking from nightmares. So very many nightmares. They were not visceral and real feeling like her dreams of Thorin were, but shadowy and dark and inky. Sona woke every time feeling as though she was drowning on the very air itself. She had a hazy memory of a familiar hand slipping into hers at one point, and being able to sleep some after that, but when she woke the next morning, apart from Sasha curled up beside her, she was alone—everyone else was already up, and packed and finishing up breakfast.

            The walk through the forest that day—and all the following—was difficult to say the least. The path was as slippery as a fish, and it took constant vigilance for the Company to remain on it. The forest itself remained oppressive and creaky and dark in its demeanor. The air was heavy, and Sona could tell that no one in the Company was getting much sleep as tempers shortened and even occasionally flared. Food was beginning to run short and rations had to be cut.

            Lack of sleep and hunger, coupled with an oppressive landscape made for quite a cranky Company.

            Sona’s stories in the evenings would brighten everyone for a while—Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Mulan, and many others—but the gloom would descend back on them almost as soon as she spoke her last words. At times others would tell stories—with Thorin telling a particularly memorable one of how he and Balin met, wherein Sona learned that most dwarves had an extreme fear of enclosed spaces… something she’d not expected from a mining folk that lived inside mountains. Though she supposed if one knew where they were and could get out at any time, that was far different than being trapped and confined.

            On what Sona thought was the fourteenth day—it was difficult to be certain—they reached the bridge Gandalf warned them of… but it was out. They managed to cross the enchanted river utilizing vines and tree-limbs… but Bombur had fallen in the water and now remained in an enchanted sleep, causing the Company to have to carry his heavy weight along the path.

            That was also the day they spotted their first web. Kíli leaned in when Sona suddenly grabbed his wrist and hissed, “Don’t touch it!”

            Everyone froze and followed the lines of the cobweb-covered tree to the webs disappearing into the gloom overhead.

            “Spiders can sense the tiniest tremors in their webs.”

            “Spiders?” Gloin scoffed. “You smash them with your boot.”

            “Not these spiders.” Sona backed up, looking overhead all the time, until she hit something solid, and instantly relaxed when she felt Thorin’s steadying hand on her hip. She didn’t move and neither did he. “They’re giant… bigger than ponies.”

            The Company stepped away from the web as one, gathering together tightly. They followed the path for another hour or so until Thorin finally called a halt in a web-free clearing.

            Sona did not go off by herself that evening.


 

            Thorin took the first watch again—with Gloin on the opposite end of the camp, doubling the watch—and this time, instead of crawling into her sleeping bag, Sona sat down on the ground beside him as he leaned back against the wide trunk of a tree. He slid over to make room for her and she scooted in closer, keenly aware of their touching shoulders, hips, and legs splayed out before them, but not caring.

            She was so tired and felt wrung out and strained… and his presence was comforting.

            And he doesn’t seem to mind.

            “You should rest,” he rumbled, without looking at her, eyes constantly scanning, looking for any sign of danger.

            “I can’t.”

            “Hmmm.” They both knew the forest was wearing on her spirit, in many ways more so than on the others.

She would not complain, but sleep was also a useless venture.

            “Besides… I miss our walks and talks.” Sona nudged him with her shoulder. “And though I know we can’t have our old walks here…”

            Thorin spared her a quick glance then returned to searching out the forest before them again.

            “What would you like to talk about?”

            Sona blinked.

            So many things. Do you like me? What does that mean if you do? Are you even allowed to like me, because I’m human and not a dwarf? What’s Dís like? Is she going to like me? What if she doesn’t? What if she hates me? What if every other dwarf we meet hates me? What if…

            “What was your dad like?”

            Thorin opened his mouth and then closed it. Sona immediately regretted her question.

            “I’m sorry—you don’t have to answer that. I just—”

            “No, no, it is fine, Thief.” He flicked his gaze her way and gave her a tight smile. “It is just… you speak of my father as though he has already passed to Itdendûm.”

            “Oh… but I thought…” he was dead.

            “Everyone believes he fell in battle.”

            “But not you.”

            Thorin shook his head slowly. “There was no body. I checked every single one. He was not there. He was not.” He sighed. “Years later, Thráin managed to escape for a brief time; he found Gandalf and gave him the map and key, Shortly thereafter he disappeared once again. By now even Gandalf believes he is dead. You may think me daft for saying this... but... I would have known if he'd died. I would have felt it.”

            “No. I don’t think you’re daft at all.” Sona leaned her head against his shoulder, not caring if it was allowed or not. “Thank you for trusting me.”

            Thorin’s arm came up around her lower back and tentatively settled on her hip, hugging her tightly to his side. She let out a sigh of contentment as her eyes slid closed and she snuggled in close to him, inhaling his scent and feeling wrapped by his warmth.

            In that moment—there in that dark, oppressive forest filled with spiders that wanted to eat them—Sona let herself believe that Thorin cared for her more than just as a friend.

            And it felt wonderful.


 

A/N: These two are FINALLY starting to get a clue. I did mention this was a slow burn, right? ;) 

Chapter Text

And when the sky's a dusky hue

And everything is bottle blue

I love you more than I ever let on

And that's a fault of mine I’m workin’ on

            -Love Loss Hope Repeat, Carbon Leaf


 

            Sona was back at Beorn’s once again… only it was darker, less inviting, as if the same darkness from Mirkwood had penetrated there as well.

            I’m dreaming again.

No one else was around.

            Well, no one else, but for Thorin.

            He was in his bedroll, head against his arm, his hand gripping into a balled fist near his head, attempting to get comfortable and failing miserably.

I wish I was there.

And suddenly Sona was curled up beside him, head pillowed on his arm. She smiled up at him.

“Asti…” his breath hitched. “How…?”

“I was looking for you.” As if that hadn’t been obvious.

His eyes closed, long lashes resting against the tops of his cheeks. But he wasn’t sleeping… no… he was tense, as if he was trying to…

“Don’t wake up.” She smoothed her hand over his cheek, down to his neck and ran her thumb along his soft beard.

It’s just as silky smooth as I remember it being…

He turned his head ever so slightly so that his lips brushed along the length of her thumb and she gasped.

I shouldn’t be doing this. What if he really is in this dream? This must all be so improper according to their customs!

Her fingers curled into his hair at the nape of his neck, and he let out a groan as he leaned into her hand even harder.

Propriety be damned! This is my dream.

With a sudden movement he turned his face away, burying it in his arm, and leaving Sona feeling stung.

“What's wrong?” Instead of pulling away, Sona leaned in closer, fighting the temptation to lay a kiss at his temple.

He gave her a sidelong look before finally answering. “I am tired.”

“Then why don't you sleep?” She furrowed her brows together. “Is… whatever was bothering you before still bothering you?”

To her surprise, he chuckled. “No. It is not a bother. Never a bother.” This confused her all the more, but before she could ask for clarification he angled his head more towards hers, until their noses were almost touching. “Why don’t you sleep?”

            “You know why.” Sona rolled onto her back, looking up to the rafters of Beorn’s roof overhead and swallowed at the inky darkness seeping in the corners.

            “Nightmares.” He propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at her, hair falling to frame his face. “Even now?”

            “No.” She forced her gaze away from the darkness and focused on his electric blue eyes, reaching up a finger to run it lightly over one of his braids... a fraying inexpertly put in braid. Mine! “Not this time.”

            Thorin’s eyes darkened and he leaned in, gently pressing his forehead against hers, nearly taking Sona’s breath away with the movement.

“Will you stay?” she whispered, wondering at the audacity of her request.

Thorin’s eyes widened and he pulled back slightly.

Crap. I shouldn’t have done that…

“Will it help you sleep?”

He had to know the answer to that.

Sona curled herself against his body, not caring if it was allowed. She was tired. So very tired.

She felt his nose brush down her cheek, as the scent of cardamom and pine enveloped her, calming her.

“Yes. Yes, it will help.”

He buried his face in her hair, arms coming around her and holding her close to his warmth. “Then I will stay.”


 

            Sona awoke to the spicy, nutty scent of her special cardamom tea. She blinked her eyes open only to find her face pressed up against Thorin’s chest as she lay splayed across it. He was leaned against the same tree from the night before, head back, eyes closed, and mouth opened as quiet snores emerged in time with the slow rise and fall of his chest beneath Sona. His arms were loosely around her; one slung across her lower back, and the other was along her arm, hand lightly holding her shoulder.

            Oh boy.

            She’d just had the best night of sleep in all her time in Arda… best night of sleep in years, actually… and that was half sitting up sprawled across Thorin like a blanket.

            I slept on Thorin. She blinked trying to process that bit of information, when the dwarf beneath her shifted slightly, the hand on her shoulder falling away.

            Sona heard movement to her right, and saw Bombur walk by as he readied breakfast. Her eyes widened.

            He can see us like this!

            And if he was up, that meant that the others would be shortly.

            As much as Sona did not want to do it, she eased out from under Thorin’s arm and got slowly to her feet. She reached down to grab her pack so she could wash her face and use the deodorant crystal Arwen had packed for her.

            She glanced over her shoulder, and Bombur gave her a cheery wave while he prepared breakfast, acting as if nothing odd—like Sona sleeping on his king as though he were a giant body pillow—had happened. She blushed and gave him a weak wave back, before gathering her things and murmuring, “I won’t go far.”

            After ensuring there were no webs about, and she could still hear the sounds of the slowly rousing camp, she set down her pack before digging inside for her hygiene gear.

            Why is my hand shaking?

            Memory of their dream—she was certain they’d shared it now—came flooding back.

            Oh, right. Thorin.

            Thorin.

            THORIN.

            Her heart raced and she swallowed.

            What did all this mean?

            Sharing dreams?

            The cuddling?

            The…overly protective behavior. And she was certain at this point it was not just because she was a pacifist. His behavior around Beorn was proof of that. She’d been in absolutely no danger there.

            If she hadn’t known better, she would have said Thorin was jealous or feeling threatened by the skinchanger.

            Which in and of itself was ridiculous.

            There was absolutely no reason for Thorin to be jealous.

            Ever.

            That realization startled Sona so much that she jerked back, knocking her pack over.

            “Crap!” she hissed, and leaned over to pick up the fallen items, when her gaze caught on a rainbow colored box braided zipper pull her niece, Vera, had made for her the last time she’d been to see Priya and her family—right before she’d left on the fateful hike to Big Bear.

            It was still spring then. Now it’s almost fall and time for school to start up again.

            Sona clasped the zipper pull to her chest and straightened, tears pricking the corners of her eyes as her breath shortened and became ragged.

            “Ahhhhh!” She screamed when a hand grasped her arm, and she whirled.

            It was Thorin.

            Of course it was Thorin.

            Whatever he was about to say died on his lips as he took in Sona’s distraught appearance.

            “What troubles you?”

            Sona’s lip quivered and she blinked back tears.

Dammit, I’m not crying in front of him again. I’m NOT.

            Shaking her head, she tried to turn away, but instead found herself pulled into Thorin’s warm embrace.

            She huddled against him, sniffing and trying not to cry. She was such an ugly crier. Red, puffy eyes, blotchy skin, and snot everywhere.

            “Will you not tell me?” He ran one hand slowly up and down her back. “Is it the forest? Is it something… else?” At that his hands stilled. “Something I did?”

            Sona quickly shook her head and wrapped an arm around his back, holding him close. “No. It’s… it’s stupid really.”

            “Stupid? Your disquiet is no small concern.”

            “It’s just… I promised Mat and Vera that I’d take them to Disneyland at the end of the summer once the crowds died down some.” She sniffed noisily, wanting to wipe at the tears running down her face, but was unwilling to let go of either Thorin or the zipper pull Vera had made her.

            “Stranded here, you are kept from your promise to your sister's son and daughter...”

            It was so much more than that. So much more. It wasn’t guilt that she wasn’t there to take them to Disneyland… it was guilt that she’d completely forgotten about it. That she wasn’t in any hurry to go back to Anaheim at all. She missed her family, she missed her modern day comforts… but

Sona nodded against his neck. “I’m the worst aunt ever.”

            Thorin hugged her tighter, not arguing her words, not offering platitudes, or even consoling words. He just held her and simply let her grieve.

            The tears eventually stopped coming, her nose stopped running, and her breathing evened out.

            Goodness, I must look like a mess.

            Still, much as she would have liked to, she couldn’t stay huddled against Thorin forever. Sona lifted her head, intending to thank him for his care, when she was halted by his searing blue gaze.

            His eyes burned into hers, unflinchingly staring at her. She licked her suddenly dry lips as her gaze darted down toward his tantalizingly close mouth. Thorin’s hold on her suddenly shifted from tender and comforting to firm and possessive. She gave a sharp intake of breath at his forceful full-bodied press against her, and her heart beat wildly.

            Is this it? Is this really happening?

            Sona leaned in, giving Thorin every opportunity to back away, to stop this…

            Yes! Yes yes yes!

            He was leaning toward her, eyes bright and eager, and—

            Sona was crashing to the ground as she heard Orcrist slide out of its sheath and Thorin bellowing at her to run.

            She rolled onto her back, narrowly avoiding the stamping leg of creature straight from hell.

            It seemed the spiders had found them after all.


 

A/N: GAH! SO CLOSE... 

Chapter Text

A/N: I'm not even a little bit sorry. :)

I promise that when they do FINALLY kiss it will be WONDERFUL. 


 

I know you're lyin

'Cause your lips are movin

Tell me do you think I'm dumb?

I might be young

But I ain't stupid

            -Meghan Trainor


 

            “Hey, Goldie.” Sona’s father sat down on the sand beside her as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. It was a brilliant orange ball lighting up the sky in one last blast of vibrant splendor before it surrendered to the night.

            “Hey, Dad.” Sona sat cross-legged, the still warm sand pricking against the bare skin her shorts didn’t cover. David’s urn—a year old now—sat nestled in the crook of her knee while she twisted her wedding band round and round in her fingers.

            “The first year is the—”

            “—worst, yeah Dad, I know.” She stared fixedly at the flash of diamond-encrusted gold in her fingers. “Believe me. I know. I’m living it every single day. David’s gone every single day.”

            Her dad blew out a frustrated breath before scrubbing his hands through his thinning, blonde, curly hair. His pale blue eyes—usually sparkling so merrily—were worried and cast with shadows.

            “And that’s not even the worst part, anymore.” She shook her head, feeling a flash of anger. “I spend every day trying to live with the fact that David’s gone—that he’s really gone and never coming back—and to do that I need to feel normal, and I can’t feel normal because no one will treat me normal.” She stared out at the ocean that had stolen away her beloved. “I’m not broken.”

            “No, you’re not.” Her father’s hand settled on her shoulder. “Have you ever heard of the art of Kintsugi*?”

            Sona blinked at the sudden subject shift. “No…?”

            “Back before I met your mom I went to Japan for a surfing competition—”

            “—shocking—”

            “—and I remember the host family I was staying with had a beautiful vase on display in a corner of one room. It had a obviously been broken at one point—”

            “—Daaaaad—”

            “—and yet, rather than throw the vase out, someone had it fixed. And I don’t mean with like super glue or anything and then turned it to hide the crack… no, they used gold to join the pieces back together; the belief being that breakage and repair is part of the history of the vase, not something to disguise or hide.”

            His arm came around her shoulders and he pulled her tight to his side. “It was the most beautiful vase I’ve ever seen, Sona. Unique and strong. A little different than it was before it fell… but so much stronger and all the more lovely for its scars.”

Sona only then realized, as she laid her head on her father’s shoulder, that silent tears were sliding down both her face and his.

They sat like that for a long while, his hand rubbing up and down her arm, until the night cooled, and finally, Sona shivered. Her father pressed a kiss on the crown of her head before he gently disentangled himself, and pulled very small guitar shaped bag forward that Sona only now realized he’d carried. His hands dug into the front pouch and he took out a plane ticket and travel brochure.

She took curiously. “Denali, Alaska?”

“David always wanted to hike Mount McKinley.”

Sona nodded, tears pricking her eyes again, but before she could respond, he opened the bag and pulled out a gorgeous cedar Martin travel guitar, placing it in her hands. She traced her smooth fingertips along the surface, missing the calluses that had faded with her lack of playing.

She then kissed her father on his cheek. “Dhanyavaad, Daddy.”

Standing, she placed the guitar back in the bag and then gathered David’s urn back into her arms before walking to the waves before her. They crashed loudly, surging around her ankles and then up to her knees before receding and then repeating the process endlessly.

“You will always be in my heart, my love.” Sona brought her wedding ring up to her lips and kissed the cool metal lightly before flinging the ring out into the ocean.


 

Sona was not ashamed to admit that when she finally regained consciousness it involved quite a bit of screaming and swearing so profuse she could have taught a sailor a thing or two.

            It seemed like an appropriate response to waking up with a giant spider corpse on top of her.

            After she’d finally extricated herself from beneath the foul creature she’d trotted back the way she’d fled when Thorin had yelled at her to run. She’d sped in the opposite direction of the camp, not wanting to draw the spiders toward the Company, but now, as she neared and saw more and more giant spider corpses dotting the deathly silent landscape, she realized what a pointless venture that had been.

            The Company! Thorin!

            Her heart raced as she called their names and… nothing. Silence greeted her and the nagging feeling of wrongness at the back of her mind only spurned Sona on faster. She was wild to find them and see for herself that they were okay—that they’d survived the attack unscathed.

            The fact that she’d woken alone and trapped under a dead spider led her to assume the worst. She felt her stomach lurch even before her mind fully formed the thought. None of them—Thorin least of all—would have left her. They would be searching for her. She should at the very least hear something.

            But there was nothing.

Not even the rustle of wind through the leaves of the trees.

            She swallowed the bile rising in her throat at the particularly gruesome scene around the remnants of the campfire. Their personal effects and the dwarves themselves were all gone, leaving Sona confused and wondering if she had actually found their camp—not to mention that growing feeling of wrongness that something she usually had was missing. She couldn’t put it into words and stopped trying as her eyes fixed on the scene before her.

            Spider carapaces, limbs, stingers, gore, and guts were everywhere—though thankfully no dwarf bodies or limbs—and the stench was overwhelming. Sona heaved into a nearby bush, emptying the entire contents from her dinner the night before—though that wasn’t much—before wiping her mouth clean on her already filthy kurta.

            Another one I’ll have to burn.

            And then she froze.

            A tooled leather pouch was on the ground, sticking out from under the bush she’d just vomited into. She recognized it instantly as Bofur’s tobacco pouch. Picking it up, she forced herself to take in the horrifying scene before her once again, paying close attention to the manner in which the spiders had died.

            Some had clearly been hacked at with swords and axes, others smashed with warhammers, but arrows felled the majority of them. She recognized Kíli’s arrows but the preponderance of them were different. Lighter, longer, elegant in their deadliness.

            “Elves.” The tightness in Sona’s chest eased some. If the elves had the Company, then that meant they were all right, that they had survived. She recalled that they’d been taken prisoner by Thranduil in the book, but hoped that would not be the case this time. Hoped that, given the manner of their meeting, perhaps this time Thranduil would see the Company for what they were: travelers in distress, and give them aide.

            As Sona trotted down to where she’d left her pack—where she and Thorin had almost—

            No! Don’t think about that right now. Focus, Sona!

—she realized that the likelihood that these elves were helping the Company was essentially none.

Thorin would have to have been incapacitated in some way—whether through injury or imprisoning—to not come looking for her, as would the others.

And there was that ever increasing nagging feeling of wrongness again.

She slung her pack on her back after ensure all its contents—David’s urn was once again unscathed and Vera’s zipper pull had somehow survived the skirmish as well—were still there, and then took a deep breath before following the glaringly obvious trail her friends and captors had left.

It appeared she would get to meet Legolas after all.


 

            The feeling of being completely alone as Sona traveled through these woods, without even Sasha as a companion, was awful. But, as bad as that was, it was the fact that she could no longer feel Thorin’s presence that was the absolute worst.

            She’d identified that feeling of “wrongness” she’d been having since she woke, and realized it wasn’t so much a feeling as rather a lack of feeling.

            A lack of feeling him.

            Sona gulped, not quite sure what to make of that. She’d discovered it and lost it all at the same time.

            As maimed as she’d felt when her guitar had been destroyed, this was worse. This was a thousand times worse.

            She’d always thought her hyper awareness of where Thorin was at all times and how attuned she was to his moods had to do with her growing attraction and feelings for him—for certainly it did. But now she wondered if it wasn’t more than that as well. If it didn’t have something to do with their shared dreams… if the two of them weren’t somehow connected on another level altogether.

That’s ridiculous. Of course we aren’t.

And yet...

            “Darol!

            Sona froze, keeping her hands open and loose by her sides as three elves materialized out of trees lining the path.

            They wore jerkins and leggings in greens and browns and were armed to the teeth, second only to the Company in the amount of weapons they carried—though they, thankfully, did not hold them in a threatening posture.

Yet.

The two at the back, a brunette male and redheaded female, Sona did not recognize. But the blonde male who stood at the forefront—

            “Legolas Thrandullion.” Even before Sona had finished speaking his name an arrow was pointed in her face, with the redhead glaring behind it.

            “Dartha, Tauriel.” Legolas placed a staying hand on the elleth’s arm and she reluctantly lowered her bow. He then looked back at Sona, bright blue eyes cautiously curious.

            “I do not know you.”

            Sona shook her head. “No, but I know you.” Then she gave him the most brilliant smile she could muster. “Or rather, who you will someday become.”

            It had been a gamble saying as much, but she knew she could trust Legolas. She knew it. Though he looked so different from what she expected, not in his appearance—no, that was exactly as she’d imagined—but in his overall bearing and character. He was not a lighthearted elf princeling filled with wonder at the great wide world. He was cautious and closed off… and it made her bit sad to see.

            He still has so much growing up to do, she thought as she reached up to grasp her braid, needing something firm and real to hold on to. I’m meeting Legolas! THE Legolas of the Fellowship of the Ring!

            The Prince of the Woodland Realm tracked her movements and then his eyes widened as they fixed on the lightly tinkling bangles on her wrist.

            He spoke over his shoulder toward his companions, never taking his eyes from Sona’s arm, and she only recognized Arwen’s and then later Thranduil’s names in the rapid stream of Sindarin.

            Then his eyes, though not quite warm, yet not as hostile as before, met hers again, and he indicated the path before them. “If you would come with us, my lady?”

            Sona knew it was not a request.


 

            Though they’d blindfolded her and searched her pack, they had not bound her or searched her person, and for that, Sona was grateful.

            For the former had been a part of her plan—in fact she’d banked on it—and the latter would have been catastrophic.

            But as the Ring still lay securely ensconced inside the hidden pocket of the waistband of her leggings and—

            “Lady Sona of California.”

            Sona blinked as a smooth voice sounded above her and she looked up when the blindfold was removed. She was in a vast chamber, at the end of a long archway, with roots and pillars and carvings, and there before her was a winding stair leading up to an antler bedecked throne, where atop it sat—

            “Thranduil, the last of the Elven Kings.” She snapped her mouth shut, irritated with herself. Shut-up, Sona!

            He raised a solitary brown eyebrow, so at contrast with his white-blonde hair, while one jewel bedecked hand gripped an oaken staff fractionally tighter.

            “How came you to be bearing a letter addressed to me?” He raised his free hand holding a rolled piece of parchment between his fingers. “By none other than the Lady Arwen?”

            It appeared Arwen hadn’t forged a letter from her father but had given Sona one from herself instead—likely for the best, Sona thought. Now that she’d met the elven king, she knew that Thranduil would have recognized it as a fake immediately.

“Did you read it?” Sona took in his long silver robes and berry-encrusted crown, accentuating his pointed ears as the monarch nodded—though she did detect the brief flash of ire in his eyes that she’d answered his question with a question.

            “Then you already know how.” She tried to ignore the fully armored and veiled guards that surrounded them on the pavilion. Beorn had been right—these elves were nothing like those of Imladris.

            “Arwen names you her particular friend and expresses the desire of both Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel that you and your companions be given whatever aide you need in your journey.” He then looked at Sona’s wrist. “And she gave you a token of her friendship—bangles forged in Lothlórien… As if I would not recognize Celeborn’s work on sight.”

            He then rose gracefully to his feet and slowly descended the stairs so fluidly it was almost as if he were gliding. “But I am perplexed.” Thranduil stopped before her, towering, as he looked down on her.

            Sona raised an eyebrow and stood straighter; she would not be intimidated by this elf lord, no matter how old or powerful he was.

            Or how tall.

            “The letter speaks of your companions.” He gestured to the empty space to either side of Sona, and she narrowed her eyes. Was he really going to act like he didn’t have them? “I see none here. Do you now travel alone?”

            “I had an escort.” Sona met his gaze head on, refusing to be cowed. “Thirteen dwarves and one dog.”

            “So many?”

            “Not nearly enough, apparently. We were attacked by spiders. My companions fought fiercely for our lives.” She pitched her voice louder to ensure Legolas and the others could hear. “I was knocked unconscious during the fighting. When I woke up, beneath one of the monsters, I was alone.”

            Thranduil raised an eyebrow before turning away and walking the length of the pavilion. “Typical. The dwarves abandoned you to save their own skins. Perhaps next time you will choose your escort more carefully.”

            Sona’s nostril’s flared as the vilest of names to call Thranduil danced through her mind.

            Om Namah Shivaya

            “It was a good thing my son found you.” He slowly ascended the staircase. “Or who knows what may have happened.”

            Om Namah Shivaya

            “My companions would not have left me.”

            “You are very certain, aren’t you?” He settled himself on his throne, casually slinging one leg overtop the other. “Then how do you explain your current circumstances?”

            Om Namah Shivaya

            As Sona looked up at the smug king, fighting the urge to tell him just exactly how she thought things went down, forcing her breathing to remain calm and steady.

            “Well if they aren’t here…”

Thranduil made no comment to that, betraying nothing on his perfectly schooled features.

Fine. He wants to play a game, I’ll play. “…then they must still be in the Greenwood.” She furrowed her brows in pretend concern and bit her lower lip. “And if that’s the case, I need to find them.” She placed a hand over her heart and bowed slightly forward, the way she’d seen Lindr do when she’d first met him. “Thank you for your assistance—”

            “Oh don’t be ridiculous.” Thranduil waved her words away with a hand. “You would not last two minutes alone in those woods.”

            Sona forced herself not to bristle at his comment. She’s survived just fine for at least thirty minutes on her own thankyouverymuch.

            “Tauriel—”

The ginger elleth came forward, giving Sona a quick sidelong glance before fixing her gaze on her king.

“—Go with a search party and see if you can locate Lady Sona’s errant companions.”

            She bowed and was off before Sona could protest.

            Something nagged at Sona… Thranduil seemed very certain they weren’t here. Very certain.

            He’s a master manipulator. All politicians are.

            But that did not explain why she still could not sense Thorin. She’d thought, in the woods, that perhaps it was the distance, but here, in Thranduil’s halls…

            I should feel something. I should feel him.

            “Liliandil—”

            Sona’s eyebrows shot up at the surprisingly familiar name. A waif-like elleth stepped forward, white blonde hair tumbling down her back in loose waves. She was clad in a simple, pale green dress with little ornamentation, though Sona could tell upon quick inspection that it was of the finest silk. Her piercing blue eyes bore into Sona’s, intelligent, evaluating, but an easy, genuine smile rested on her lips.

            “—please see to it that Lady Sona is ensconced in our finest guest quarters.” A smirk pulled at the corner of Thranduil’s sensual mouth. “Ensure they are fit for a visiting queen.”

            Sona’s eyes widened as the elleth bowed her head and indicated that Sona should follow her.

            What the hell is he playing at?


 

A/N

*Kintsugi literally translates to “golden repair”

Chapter Text

 

Now I’m floating like a butterfly

Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes

I went from zero, to my own hero

            -Roar, Katy Perry


 

            “How is it you know my name, Lady Sona?” Liliandil escorted Sona directly through the living room, lavishly furnished bedroom complete with massive four poster canopy bed and velvet curtains, and into a bathing room with a porcelain tub so large six people could have bathed at once.

            At least her priorities coincide with mine, Sona thought. She badly wanted to be out of her vile clothing and be clean again. She felt itchy—as if she had giant spider hairs buried under her clothes and digging into her skin.

            “I heard it in a story,” Sona answered. “I didn’t expect to encounter it here.” She did not hesitate to divest herself of her clothing; careful to slip the Ring in an interior pouch of her pack while Liliandil’s back was turned.

            “Indeed?” The elleth turned a handle and steaming hot water poured forth from an ornate silver faucet. She added some essential oils as well, and Sona was happy to smell lavender; it was always so calming. She needed calming. Frantic worry was not going to help her right now.

“What sort of story? Was she a villain?” Liliandil grinned over her shoulder at Sona. “Or perhaps an adventurer? Or maybe a scoundrel?” She turned away again laying out a linen towel. “Someone who controlled their own fate at the very least.”

Sona blinked, shocked at the slight tinge of bitterness in the elleth’s last words. “She was the daughter of a star, but chose love and a mortal life.” Sona unbound her hair, feeling another stab of loss and worry. I hope Bifur is okay. “She became queen of Narnia, and her children reigned in peace and prosperity to the end of time for that land.”

“So not a villain.” Liliandil gave her a small smile. “But still a rebel all the same.”

“Yes.” Sona smiled back, feeling the need to give comfort to the ageless being before her. “She decided her own future.”

“Your bath is ready.” Liliandil moved toward the door and then paused. “What would you like to wear for the evening meal?”

Ni ‘lassui, Liliandil.” Sona touched the water to make sure it wasn’t too hot. “And anything is fine so long as it’s clean and doesn’t trip me.” Sona paused in the act of stepping in the tub. “Though… if you have something in blue and gold… that would be nice.”

#

Thranduil’s dining room was, unsurprisingly, richly furnished. The ornately carved heavy oak table was large enough to seat thirty, though only four settings were out.

The elven king swept into the room, changed from his formal, tightly tailored silver robes, to looser, more voluminous blood orange and silver robes. He no longer wore his crown, though there was no doubting his regal bearing.

Legolas followed his father in, armor gone and clad in a simple, lightly embroidered silver shirt and brown leggings.

As for Sona, Liliandil had brought her a deep blue, silk gown, that had fit Sona very well, and only dragged a little, and it had been very plain, much like the elleth’s green gown. Sona had pulled out the embroidered gold wrap Arwen had thoughtfully packed for her, and draped it over her head and shoulders, leaving her hair down and loose beneath it. Let Thranduil think what he will.

“Lady Sona, thank you for accepting my dinner invitation.” The king’s gaze lazily took in her appearance. “You clean up rather nicely.”

Sona gave him a brilliant smile, while seething on the inside.

Yep. He’s a douche.

The Elven King’s words had not been all that different from what Thorin had told her the first time he saw her in Rivendell… but his tone was completely different. Arrogant and condescending where Thorin had been teasing, and in hindsight, Sona realized, almost flirting.

Well, flirting for him. But don’t think about that now. Focus.

Ni ‘lassui. Liliandil was very kind to find me something in the colors I prefer.” It was only now that Sona was taking the chair that Thranduil indicated to his right that she noticed Legolas and Liliandil both were sitting down across from her. As she took in their similar features, the shape of their eyes, the line of their nose, matching high cheekbones, and turn of their lips, it clicked.

They’re siblings!

The realization floored her and she blurted, “I didn’t realize you had a daughter,” before snapping her mouth shut.

Why wouldn’t he have a daughter? Why wouldn’t he have more sons? Elrond has a bunch of kids. There was no way Tolkien wrote about everyone.

Thranduil raised one elegant eyebrow. “You seem rather well informed about my family…” He picked up a silver fork and speared it smoothly into his salad. “…for an Easterling.”

“And you seem rather presumptuous…” Sona didn’t even bat an eye as she took a bite of the cranberry, walnut, spinach salad before her. “… for a wise immortal king.”

“Fair enough.” He took a sip of his wine, and looked over his goblet at her. “So you are not from the east.”

“No.” Sona took another bite. “This salad is amazing. Is the dressing just olive oil and lime? I love that combo.”

“As do I.” Liliandil gave Sona a small smile. “This is my favor…” She trailed off as Thranduil’s eyes darted over quickly to her, and she lowered her gaze back to the table.

“So you are not from the east?” the king repeated.

“Uh-uh,” Sona shook her head as she reached for her wine.

I need to remember to take it easy on this stuff—I do recall something about really drunk guards, and if this stuff can make elves pass out… “Do you have any water?”

Thranduil frowned while signaling at an elf. Whether the frown was from not having something readily available on the table for his guest, or because Sona was so obviously dancing around his attempts at acquiring information from her, Sona did not know, but it pleased her all the same.

He’s having too much fun with his word games.

“You appear to have been journeying far.” Thranduil finally spoke again when the next course—a chilled cucumber soup—was served.

“Yes.” Sona swallowed a spoonful. “Oh wow… I’m going to have to get the recipe for this. I bet I could get Bombur to make it for me.” Legolas and Liliandil silently followed the interplay between their father and Sona, eyes tracking back and forth between the two.

“Maybe he can add some cilantro to it,” Sona continued. “I wonder if there is cilantro here, hmmm.” She ate another spoonful, and then dabbed at her mouth with her napkin. “Yeah, definitely could use some cilantro.”

Thranduil’s fingers tightened around his spoon and Sona hid her smirk with a sip of water. His passive aggressive hinting was not getting him anything, and seeming to realize that, he asked:

“Who is David?”

Sona choked on her drink.

“Your brother perhaps? Father? Son?” Thranduil’s eyes glittered, taking in her every expression as she coughed into her napkin, not in the least bit ashamed that he was very familiar with the contents of her pack. “In any case, I am very sorry for your loss.”

            Finally composing herself, Sona set the napkin back in her lap and looked up, meeting Thranduil’s icy blue gaze unflinchingly.

            “He was my husband.”

            The elven king blinked and Sona thought she detected a hint of surprise and sorrow flit across his features. But, no, now all she could see was irritatingly cool calm in Thranduil.

            “May I ask what happened?”

            Sona’s eyes narrowed fractionally. “Well that all depends.” She picked up her spoon and dipped it into the soup. “May I ask what happened to your wife?”

            They finished the rest of their meal in silence.


 

            After the impossibly awkward evening meal, Liliandil escorted Sona back to her quarters. The elleth seemed on the verge of saying something the entire time and once they got to the door Sona finally took pity on her.

            “Whatever it is you’re dying to say, say it.” She smiled up at the blonde. “I promise I don’t bite; I’m a pacifist.” Whatsafist. Sona’s smile slipped as worry for Dwalin edged in, and she stepped back from the door, allowing the elleth entrance into the main room. “Would you like to come in?”

            “Oh, no, thank you. I don’t want to be a bother. You should find everything you need in the wardrobes and drawers.” Liliandil gave her a shy smile, though there was still a bit of worry marring the perfect skin between her brow. “I’m… sorry for Ada.” Her smile left, and she looked more like her somber brother than ever. “He’s not been the same since Naneth...”

            “I understand.” Though that doesn’t give him permission to be an ass.Ni ‘lassui, Liliandil. It was wonderful to meet you.”

            “Likewise, Lady Sona.” The shy smile was back. “Perhaps… perhaps I could fetch you for the morning meal… and we could take it in my garden… and you could tell me more stories about this Nar-nee-aa?” She said the word slowly, as if tasting it.

            “It would be my pleasure.” Sona gave the elleth an encouraging smile before shutting the door and leaning her forehead against it.

            Perhaps she had made a friend in Liliandil. That was good. She liked friends. She liked Liliandil.

            Perhaps she had made an enemy in Thranduil, the douche-king. That was not so good. Though, she did not believe he would harm her in any way.

            “Not when I’m Arwen’s particular friend, and travel with the blessing of both Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel.” Ignoring the very obvious lock and key on the inside of the door—this place is so very different than Imladris—Sona pushed away from the door and moved toward her bedroom.

            It was interesting—while she would not have hesitated to share what she knew about the future of things in Arda with Elrond or Galadriel… she didn’t want to breathe a word about her knowledge of anything to Thranduil. She didn’t trust him. He was so very careful with his words. Twisting them, allowing her to interpret what she would.

            He never said the Company was here… but he didn’t say they weren’t either.

            And I still can’t feel Thorin.

            That worried her most of all.

            If she could just get some sort of sense that he was okay, she would know the others were likely fine as well, and then she could concentrate on finding them, and, if need be, freeing them from whatever confinement they were in.

            The obvious way would be to go to the dungeons and look for her Company, cell by cell if need be. But that would be a blatant slap in her host’s face—essentially telling him she believed him to be holding them. And Thranduil would just move them before she could find them, proving nothing, and ruining whatever opportunity Sona had to find a diplomatic solution to this mess.

            If they’re even here.

            But there was an easy way to determine that.

            After divesting herself of her clothes, Sona climbed into the massive canopy bed, crawled under the covers, and lay her head back against the pillows.

            It was all so simple, really: she would find Thorin in her dreams and speak to him there.


 

A/N: As always, thank you for all the comments and kudos <3

Chapter Text

A/N: I know we are all missing Thorin & Co. Just think how Sona feels!


 

Crying, waiting, hoping you'll come back

I just can't seem to get you off my mind

Crying, waiting, hoping you'll come back

You're the one I love

And I think about you all the time

            -Buddy Holly


 

            “It is the middle of the night, my lady.” Legolas sat down beside Sona on the wooden bench at the edge of the indoor pool and fountain she’d found in her wanderings.

            “I couldn’t sleep.” That was not exactly true. She could sleep. What she couldn’t do was find Thorin. Sona had entered the Dream (she now mentally capitalizing the word to denote it’s difference from “regular” dreams), and found herself in Erebor. Endless hallways in Erebor. They were well lit, but there were no doors. Just hallway upon hallway upon hallway.

            And no Thorin.

            “Do you need a sleep aid?” He moved to stand but Sona halted him with an upraised hand.

            “No.”

            “Well then…” He gave her a sidelong glance. “Shall I escort you back to your chambers?”

            “No.” Sona kept her gaze on the water before her, focusing on the tinkling of the fountain. “Unless I’m your father’s prisoner. In which case…” She pulled a piece of her hair forward from the nape of her neck and began braiding it in an effort to keep her hands busy. “…no.”

            “You are not a prisoner.” Legolas’s response was immediate, and emphatic. “Also, I apologize for my father.”

            “Your sister did the same.” Sona flicked her eyes toward him briefly, taking in the earnestness in his expression. “You two make a habit of cleaning up after your dad’s messes?”

            “…No.” He turned to face the water as well. “It is not often Ada is taken by surprise.”

            “Hmmm, yes, I did see that on his face.” Sona gave a slight nod as she continued with her braid. “Though I’m not sure why. Surely I’m not the first person to ever sass him. He’s got you for goodness sakes.”

            “There you go again, speaking as though you know me.” He looked at her curiously, and when Sona didn’t answer, continued: “He… did not know you were married.”

            “So?” Sona rolled her eyes. “What is it with this world’s obsession with my marital status? I mean really.”

            “No… that is to say, he thought… well, never mind.” Legolas looked at her curiously again, brows furrowed like his sister’s. “Why do you travel with dwarves, my lady?”

            Sona’s eyebrows shot up at his tone of derision. “You’ve got a problem with dwarves?” She turned to face him and stifled an exasperated laugh when she took in the disgusted look on his face. “Are you kidding me? Oh my gosh… talk about irony. Hah.”

            “I do not understand half of what you say.” Legolas folded his arms over his chest and lifted his chin imperiously. “Nor do I see why you find this amusing. Dwarves are greedy and not to be trusted.”

            “Dwarves are the most generous and thoughtful beings I’ve encountered in all of Arda.” Sona said quietly yet forcefully, hands stilling in her hair. Then she gentled her voice as she took in his surprise at her strident response. “Eventually, you’ll feel the same way.”

            “You speak with such certainty. Almost as if you truly know my future.” He cocked his head, curiosity shining in his eyes… so much like his father in that regard. “Are you a seer?”

            Sona snorted and resumed her braid. “No. Not hardly. I’m a musician.”

            “Oh!” Legolas leaned in eagerly, his entire countenance changing. “What do you play?”

            “Just about anything really.” Even harp a little bit now. “But guitars are my favorite.” She finished her braid and tied off the end with an elastic from her wrist. “Do you play anything?”

            The elf slowly shook his head, and Sona detected a hint of sadness in his features before he schooled them again. “Ada always encouraged me toward my bow.”

            “Wait… did he prevent you—”

            “No!” Legolas said quickly. “He just did not encourage it.” The elf shrugged, as if it didn’t matter, but Sona knew better. “Besides, I am immortal—”

            “—so you literally have all the time in the world.” Sona chuckled. “Well… as it looks like I’m going to be here for at least a little while, if you manage to scare up a guitar, I’d be happy to give you some lessons.” She gave him a sidelong glance as his eyes brightened with excitement. “I promise not to tell your dad.”


 

            “It all started with a Lion, a Witch, and a Wardrobe.” Actually, it all started with a Magician’s Nephew, Sona thought as she sipped the tea Liliandil poured for her. But I like this one better, so… “And four siblings named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

            Liliandil listened with rapt attention as Sona spun the tale of the Penvensies and their first adventure in Narnia. She made it as far as Edmund’s betrayal, and later imprisonment by the White Witch when she realized that several hours had passed, and the food and tea were long since gone.

            “Maybe we should pick this up later?” Sona stood to stretch, her back tight. After her horrifying inability to find Thorin, her morning had been rough and she’d skipped her sun salutations. Besides… it’s not the same without Bifur anymore.

            “Oh yes, please!” Liliandil sprang to her feet, all smiles. “Could we meet again tomorrow morning?”

            “Of course.” Sona looked up at her friend. “I’d be delighted… though can you wait that long?”

            “I shall have to.” Then her features sobered. “I must go… I’m already late for my lessons.”

            Sona saw herself out of Liliandil’s garden, since the elleth refused to let her help cleanup, but found her path near a flowered archway blocked by Legolas. He was leaning against the topiary, a soft smile on his face.

            “I have not seen her this happy since our naneth...”

            Sona looked over her shoulder as Liliandil nearly danced away with the breakfast tray back into her quarters.

            “Thank you for your kindness to my sister.”

            “It’s not kindness, Legolas.” Sona looked up at him out of the corner of her eyes. “I genuinely like her. And talking to her helps keep my mind off… other things.”

            “Your missing companions.”

            Sona nodded. “And my dog.” She was a loss as to what to do other than wait for Tauriel to get back with word.

            Maybe they are still in the woods. Maybe they got lost looking for me. Maybe—

            “Then perhaps I can help keep your mind and hands occupied a bit longer…”

            Sona’s fingers stilled in her hair. She hadn’t realized she’d pulled out and had been putting the small braid in at the nape of her neck again. This is turning into an anxious habit.

            “…I found a guitar.”


 

            And so the days passed. Sona would spend her mornings with Liliandil, telling her more stories of Narnia and the adventures there, and then her afternoons with Legolas, teaching him all about music, from theory to scales and chords. He was patient (unlike many of her students back in Anaheim) and did not press her to teach him how to play an actual song—simply practicing his scales over and over methodically.

            Evenings were spent verbally sparring with Thranduil over dinner while his children silently observed. The elven king continued to passively aggressively fish around for information and Sona would dodge where she could and frustrate him with cryptic answers elsewhere. Most of their meals ended in tension filled silence.

            Nights were the worst. Sona would search for Thorin in her dreams and never find him, waking each time feeling more disconsolate than before, without even Sasha there to comfort her. And she didn’t even have a guitar to play to help console her as Legolas kept it with him (at her insistence) so he could practice.

            Still, the prince found her always at her bench, in the wee hours of the morning, staring into the fountain pool, hands listlessly braiding and unbraiding the hair at the nape of her neck.

            Only this time, silent tears trailed down her cheeks.

            “Tauriel should return on the morrow,” Legolas said as he sat beside her. “There is no need to weep. I am certain your companions—and your dog—are fine.”

            “Now who is the one speaking with such certainty?” Sona dabbed at her eyes with Thorin’s handkerchief. “You don’t understand. How could you?” She turned to look the elf fully in the face. “I can’t feel him, Legolas. I can’t find him when I Dream. And all I can think is, he must be dead.”

            Legolas didn’t ask who “he” was, but instead wrapped his arms around Sona’s shoulders and pulled her into a hug. “You must not lose faith, my lady. You must not.”

            This only made Sona cry all the harder. For how could Legolas know that? Nothing was certain now that she’d gone on the quest instead of Bilbo.


 

            That evening, as Liliandil and Sona entered the dining hall, they heard raised voices.

            “It is wrong, and you know it—” Legolas cut off as soon as he perceived they entered the room, a fierce look on his face. Thranduil simply turned away from his son, all calm and imperious haughtiness as he took his seat at the head of the table.

            Liliandil sighed quietly, and Sona wondered if this was not a frequent occurrence: watching her brother and father argue. The elleth seemed to dislike strife almost more so than Sona.

            The salad before them was a delicious looking concoction of strawberries, almonds, and leafy greens, though Sona had no stomach for it.

Ori would be grumbling over all this green and lack of meat.

Her worry for the Company continued to build, and anxiety gnawed away at her, leaving her feeling frayed.

            “Lady Sona, I have heard that you are quite an accomplished musician.” The elven king said it as though it was an inconsequential fact, but Sona knew better.

            “Yes.” She speared her salad and forced herself to take a bite.

            Used to her monosyllabic answers at this point, Thranduil continued as though she hadn’t said a word.

            “I think we should all love it if you would play for us at Mereth Nuin Giliath in a week’s time.”

            “The Feast of Starlight!” Liliandil gushed, a broad smile splitting her face. “Oh yes, please say you will, Sona, please.”

            Liliandil never called Sona by only her name unless they were in private, so the fact that she dropped off the “lady” showed just how excited the elleth was.

Thranduil gave his daughter a smile. An honest to goodness genuine smile, and Sona was struck for a minute over how beautiful it was, and how much he loved his daughter. As cold and aloof as the king was… he still very much cared for his children.

Then it was gone, hidden behind a sip of wine.

“With a request like that, how can I say no?” Sona answered weakly, trying to buoy her spirits for her friend.

“And we shall make you a new dress.” Liliandil nodded firmly. “One after the fashion of your people.”

“Yes, that would be enlightening.” Thranduil waved away an elleth who came in with more wine. “What is the fashion of your people?”

Sona ignored him, keeping her gaze on his daughter. “Alright. If you’d like.” Then she turned to Thranduil. “Has Tauriel returned yet?”

“Patience, Lady Sona. She has only been gone a week.”

Sona’s hand fisted around the small braid she now kept hanging from the nape of her neck, trailing over her shoulder and nearly down to her waist.

Thranduil followed the movement, eyes narrowing. “Though she should return later this evening.” He set down his goblet of wine. “I promise to inform you as soon as she does. Though…” He thoughtfully chewed on a bit of salad, and Sona knew it was all an act—especially his “concerned” face.

Why doesn’t he just ASK me what he wants? Aggravating elf!

“…If your companions are not in the woods, might I offer you an new escort? I promise my elves can get you to wherever you need to go in a far superior manner than any dwarves.”

Sona stared down at her plate, hands clutching each other in her lap, eyes burning. She could not even think it.

“You must not lose faith, my lady.” Legolas’s words ran through her mind and she snuck a peek through her lashes at the prince. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was glaring at his father.

“No, thank you,” Sona answered quietly. “Though, I must ask… why do you seem to hate dwarves so much? What have they ever done to you?” She did not point out how Thranduil had not helped the dwarves when they were in need, because 1) she did not believe it would do anything but incite the king’s rancor and that would be very unhelpful right now, and 2) as much as she cared for Thorin, she was not blind to his flaws. She knew that when it came to elves he rarely saw any issue clearly. And there were always two sides to every story. If not more.

            “What have they ever done to me?” Thranduil’s eyes widened fractionally as he tilted his head to the side and stared at Sona. “What would you call bringing down fire and wrath and ruin on this entire region?” He leaned forward, hands gripping arms of his chair. “Where a fire-drake lives still, a threat to all my people.”

            “I’d say they were the ones driven out of their homes and burned by dragon fire.” Sona glared right back. “Not you.” She picked her fork back up and took another bite of the salad. “Honestly, the fact that you are blaming them for this, instead of helping them when they needed you is ridiculous. Do you blame victims of all crimes for being unlucky enough to have them perpetrated on them?” She took a final bite of the salad. “Or just dwarves?”

            Thranduil stood smoothly from his chair, tall and cold. “I warned Thrór what his greed would bring, and he did not listen. Instead he forced me to pay homage to a stone just so I could speak with him.” He brought pointed a finger down at the table, swift and jabbing. “I would not risk the wrath of a dragon against my people for all the riches in Arda, not even for that which is precious to me inside that mountain.” Placing his hands against the table he leaned forward bringing his face to Sona’s level, and lowered his voice to an icy quiet. “Now tell me honestly… can you say the same about your dwarves?”

            He whirled and left the room before Sona could answer.


 

            “What did your father mean about that which is precious to him inside the Lonely Mountain?” Sona and Liliandil where walking back to Sona’s quarters and she felt her friendship with the elleth had progressed to the point where she could ask such a blunt question.

            “There were some white gems of pure starlight my naneth was particularly fond of.” Liliandil began quietly, and Sona was immediately sorry she’d asked. “After my mother died, my father put them away.” She slowed as they neared Sona’s door. “He told me when I was younger, it was because there would never be a smith talented enough to create anything with them.” A small smile reached her lips. “I made him promise me that if he ever found one, he would have them fashion me a necklace.” She blinked and looked down at her hands. “I know it was selfish… but I miss my naneth, you see.”

            “Yes, I do. Of course I do. I miss my mother too.” Sona placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Why not come inside? I’ll make you some tea. It would be no trouble,” she quickly said, forestalling the elleth’s protest.

            Once settled inside with mint tea in hand, Liliandil continued. “I hate that my selfish desire caused such strife between our peoples.”

            “How could this cause strife?” Sona set down her tea, confused.

            “Centuries passed, and finally, one day, Ada did find someone who could set the stones and create a necklace far more beautiful than any other.” Liliandil did not drink her tea, but clutched the porcelain cup as though it were precious cargo.

            “How is that a problem?” Sona leaned forward in her plush chair. “Isn’t that cause for joy?” Then it clicked… if the white jewels were in Erebor…

            “It was an artisan from the Lonely Mountain. She spent years creating the necklace, and when she was done, her husband, blinded by greed, demanded thrice the agreed upon payment.” The elleth’s fingertip circled the rim of the cup as she continued to stare at it, not meeting Sona’s gaze. “My father refused, and called him a thief, and the dwarf returned the insult in kind.”

            “Why didn’t Thranduil just go to the dwarf king and get him to settle it. I mean if they’d agreed on a price…” Sona’s voice trailed off as the other shoe dropped. “King Thrór was the husband, wasn’t he?” Thorin’s grandmother was the artisan.

            Liliandil nodded, and Sona felt her stomach sink at the confirmation.

            “A strain of madness runs deep in that family. His grandfather lost his mind; his father succumbed to the same sickness. Can you swear Thorin Oakenshield will not also fall?”

            A knock sounded at her door. Sona walked to it mechanically and opened it, her mind consumed by what she’d just learned.

            Before her stood the Elven King, his face expressionless. “Tauriel has returned.” He held out his hand and slowly uncurled his fingers, revealing what was inside.

            Sona sucked in a breath as she stared. “No.”

            “I am sorry.”

            She reached out a trembling hand and picked up one of Thorin’s braids.

 

Chapter Text

A/N: Thanks for all the wonderful comments (or should I say outrage, LOL)! 


 

I long to see the sunlight in your hair

And tell you time and time again

How much I care

Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow

Hello!

I've just got to let you know

'cause I wonder where you are

And I wonder what you do

Are you somewhere feeling lonely?

            -Hello, Lionel Richie


 

            Sona ran a finger over and over the length of the braid. It was frayed and dirty, but there was no mistaking Thorin’s bead on the end of it, the lingering hint of cardamom and pine, or the feel of his hair against her fingers—she would know it anywhere.

She recognized the mediocre braiding as her own and it touched her that he’d left it in for so long despite its deteriorating condition. It gave her further hope that she hadn’t been mistaken in her thoughts that perhaps Thorin had harbored feelings for her beyond those of simple friendship.

That’s not important right now. Focus, Sona.

            Tears flowed freely down her cheeks while she sat on her wooden bench before the fountain waiting for Legolas. She needed answers and she was not about to speak to Thranduil about this.

            I can’t trust the douche-king. No matter how noble his thinks his motives are.

            The princeling finally showed up—as she knew he would—and took a hesitant seat next to Sona, clearly agitated. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, about to speak, and then closed it, thinking better of it. Finally, Sona took pity on him.

            “I’m tired of your father’s games, Legolas.” She met the elf’s guilt filled gaze. “I would like to see my friends now.” She stood, tucking Thorin’s braid into a pocket. “And my dog.”


 

            If Thranduil had intended to use the braid to convince Sona that Thorin was truly dead, he’d been quite mistaken.

            If anything, it had given her hope.

            Once she put all the pieces together she realized that Thranduil would not have hesitated to tell her if Thorin was actually dead. And in order to have gotten Thorin’s braid, that meant Thranduil had him. And given the state of the braid… Well, the Company certainly were not in the same accommodations Sona was in. And it very soon thereafter became clear to her that Legolas had to know about her friends.

            He had been so certain they were all right. As certain as she had been that he would grow to love dwarves some day.

            Legolas led her down deeper and deeper into his father’s keep until they reached what was surely the dungeons. She shivered as the temperature dropped the lower they went. The elf had her stand in the shadows as he spoke to the jailor, who nodded, then left, never seeing Sona.

            Ah, so he doesn’t want daddy to know about this.

            She was fine with that. To be honest she did not care, so long as she got to see her companions with her own eyes, alive and whole. Her heart raced and her palms began to sweat.

            Patience, Sona. You’ve waited this long.

            Legolas waved her over after ensuring no one else was around. She then followed him down some narrow, winding stairs and under an archway until they walked out onto a landing and a vast cavern spread out beneath them with floors upon floors of barred cells that she could only just see in the darkness that seemed to permeate all, despite the torchlight.

            “Does he plan on imprisoning an entire army?” Sona realized it would have taken her days, if not weeks, to find the Company if she didn’t have Legolas escorting her. Even with the ring keeping me invisible.

            Legolas made no comment and turned down another narrow corridor that opened into a row of cells lit by a few torches.

            Cells filled with dwarves.

            She scanned them quickly, counting figures too dark to make out in the dim light until she reached thirteen.

            A familiar bark, then high-pitched frenzied whine reached her ears and the vise around her heart disappeared.

            They’re all here.

            And then she realized something else.

            I can feel Thorin again!

            She rushed past Legolas, bee-lining it to Thorin’s cell, knowing immediately where he was. She passed Tauriel, who stared at her, shocked, without paying the elleth a moment’s mind. Somewhere in the background she heard Kíli, then Fíli, then the others say her name, first in disbelief, then in happiness.

            But she only had eyes for Thorin.

            He was on his feet, hands at his side, mouth slightly open, staring at her as though she were just a specter of his imagination.

            And suddenly the distance between them was gone and she was there, wrapping her hands around the cold iron of the bars caging him.

            “You’re alive,” she breathed, as his hands, so warm and real—though cooler than usual—engulfed hers.

            “Sona…” Her name slipped from Thorin’s lips as she leaned her forehead against his.

            She gave a strangled laugh and shook her head slowly against his. “Now I know you’re not my Thorin. He would never call me that.”

            “Thief…” His voice was rough, filled with barely contained emotion. “Are you truly here?”

            “Of course I am. Where else would I be?” Sona pulled back reluctantly, and removed her hands from underneath his, but immediately reached out to cup his face as she searched his hollow, sunken features. His eyes were rimmed in dark circles and he was filthy, still covered in the dirt and grime from the forest. She swallowed hard, quailing at the thought of how this confinement had to have worn on them all.

            Claustrophobia.

Her gaze settled on the left side of Thorin’s face, were only a few inches of hair remained of what had once been one of his braids.

            “What has he done to you?” Without asking for permission—rules be damned—Sona buried her fingers in Thorin’s hair and immediately began plaiting a new braid where the last one had been, deftly incorporating the cut hair. She didn’t know how Thorin would react to her touching him like this so boldly—in front of everyone, no less—but she did not expect him to lean into her touch the way he did.

            Like a cat demanding his head be scratched.

            She could not bind the braid with Thorin’s bead—it would be too great a risk if Thranduil saw it—so she pulled a stray blue thread from Thorin’s shirt and bound the end with it. The elven king would never question that.

            “My lady,” Legolas stepped out of the shadows. “We cannot linger.”

            A hiss of Khuzdûl burst from Thorin’s lips at the sight of the elf, and Sona placed a calming hand on the side of his face.

            “Legolas is a friend.” She stroked the length of his beard with her thumb as he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch again. “Don’t lose hope. I will get you out of here.” She reluctantly pulled away once more and Thorin’s hands reached for her.

How can I leave him? A low whine from Sasha punctuated Sona’s thoughts. How can I leave any of them?

She felt tears prick the corners of her eyes.

            Don’t cry. Don’t let his last sight of you—for who knows how long—be of you crying.

            Instead, she pulled her own braid from a pocket, concealing it in her grasp. She slipped it into Thorin’s hand, then leaned forward and kissed his forehead lightly, forcing herself not to let her lips linger. “Never doubt that I’m here. Even when you can’t feel me.”

            Sona turned away then, walking as quickly as possible back the way she had come, heedless of the other dwarves and Sasha. She could not handle one more ounce of emotion right now.

Tears rolled freely down her cheeks and in that moment, as Sona felt like she was leaving half of herself back in the cell, she realized…

            I’m in love with Thorin.

 

Chapter Text

A/N: So, based on the comments, I think there's a mixture of both happy and mad at me after the last chapter. :D I'm curious what will come after this one...


 

"There must be some kind of way out of here, "

Said the joker to the thief,

"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief…”

            -All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix


 

            Legolas led them silently back toward Sona’s quarters, and for that she was grateful. She was quite overwhelmed by… well, everything.

            They’re alive! They’re okay! They’re here!... I’m in love with Thorin Oakenshield—

            The last was the most troubling because there were so many questions and issues battling for the forefront in mind. Such as: how did Thorin feel? Did he love her in return? She thought he must hold some level of affection for her based on his behavior… but love? How would he interpret the gift of her braid? Just as a token of affection, or a declaration of some sort? And did she mean for it to be a declaration?

            Well… yes. But a declaration of what exactly? She still needed to figure that out for herself.

And what would others think? Would dwarves outside the Company ever accept her? And what would her family think of Thorin?

            Her family… Home.

            Or was Anaheim even home anymore? Can any place be home without Thorin? Or Fíli, Kíli, and Dwalin or the rest?

            “Ni ‘lassui, Legolas.” Sona forced herself out of her own head before she went crazy. “I never doubted you for a moment.”

            That stopped him, and, looking around, he darted into a secluded alcove, gently pulling Sona behind him into the shadows.

            “My lady… forgive me for asking, but please, I must know…”

            “I suppose you deserve some sort of explanation.” Sona’s lips turned up into a wry smile. “The easiest way to explain it? I guess you could say I’m from the future. The far future. And this time is all history to me.” His eyes widened and he took a step back, so she quickly pressed on. “You are the master of your own fate and nothing is decided—things have already changed with me being here.” She could see the relief in his eyes. It seemed that Legolas, like Thorin, did not like the idea that his future was already written. “But the nature of who you are, as a person?” Sona took his hand in hers and patted it softly. “That is constant, and I have complete faith in you.”

            His blue eyes sparkled as his mouth turned up into a dazzling smile. “Thank you for trusting me, my lady.”

            She smiled back, relieved to have that out in the open. “Right back at you.”


 

            “Oh! I’ve been so worried.” Liliandil pulled Sona into tight hug when she and Legolas returned to her quarters. “When you ran off after Ada came to see you…” She released Sona, holding her at arm’s length and looked from her to Legolas, and then at the braid Sona still clutched in her hand… Thorin’s braid.

            Thorin is here! They’re all here! They’re all safe! But how to get them out. How—

            “Oh no.” The elleth was before her brother in a flash, one finger thrust in front of his face. “Do not tell me that they have been here all this time while Sona was riddled with worry for them. And worse… that you knew. And helped.”

            “Lil…”

            The elleth raised the rest of her fingers into a universal “stop” signal instantly silencing Legolas. “We will finish this conversation later. You have at least taken her to see them?”

            Sona already wished herself back there with her dwarves. Legolas nodded to his sister as she turned back to Sona. “I am so sorry. Words cannot adequately—”

            It was Sona’s turn to raise a hand and interrupt. “You are not responsible for your father’s actions.”

            “You are too kind.” Liliandil took Sona’s hand in her own and squeezed. “And I know that somewhere in his mind Ada thinks that what he has done is right…”

Legolas came to stand near his sister and placed a hand on her shoulder. “He fears waking the dragon and bringing destruction to the Greenwood.”

“He should want to face the dragon on our terms instead hoping Smaug never wakes.” She looked at her brother and shook her head. “Surprise is far worse.”

They held each other’s gaze until Legolas finally nodded, and she looked back at Sona. “We will make this right.”


 

            The next morning a chipper Liliandil burst into Sona’s bedroom. “Come on! We have dresses to make!”

            Sona groaned as she rolled over and pulled a pillow over her head. She felt like she’d just fallen asleep—the evening’s previous events weighed heavily on her mind keeping her awake long into the night as she thought about, well, everything. “Don’t elves sleep?”

            Legolas’s lighthearted chuckle sounded from the doorway. “Ah, something about us you don’t know.”

            Sona cracked open an eye and stuck her tongue out at the elf. “Why are you here? You gonna help me make a fancy dress too?” The idea of doing anything other than sitting alone and stewing in her thoughts and trying to come up with some sort of plan to get the dwarves out was not appealing.

            “Alas, no, not this time, my lady. Perhaps another” He crossed his arms as he leaned against the doorjamb. “Lil and I spoke with Tauriel. We have a plan.”

            That got Sona’s attention and she sat straight up, only just remembering to keep her sheet up lest she flash Legolas. “Tauriel?”

            “She can be trusted,” Liliandil was quick to defend. “And she has… cause to want to help.

            Sona raised an eyebrow at that, but then remembered how the elleth had been down hanging around the dungeons when she’d shown up. Perhaps Tauriel taken sympathy on the Company’s plight too? “Okay… then what do I need to do?”

            The siblings looked at each other and grinned before Legolas left the room with a nod toward Sona, and Liliandil faced her, clapping her hands. “First things first… put some clothes on, and then breakfast and more stories from Narnia. I believe you were just about to tell me the tale of The Horse and His Boy.”


 

            After Liliandil’s demands for more stories Sona had groaned as she flopped back onto the bed. She’d wanted to roll right into ESCAPE PLANNING. But Lil was stubborn, and Sona knew that she had the siblings on her side, and as such, her heart was much eased.

            Plus the plan they’d come up with was brilliant in its simplicity.

Liliandil brought out paper and colored pencils for Sona to design her dress, and after giving it some thought, Sona smiled. “Your dad wants me to dress in the ‘manner of my people’… okay, then.”

            The elleth’s smile widened as she watched Sona sketch out her various designs—Liliandil said she needed to have several dresses made in order to make it appear that Sona planned on spending a long time with them.

            “What are these?”

            “Waist chains. Preferably in gold.”
            “I think I have something you can borrow that will work.” Liliandil was positively gleeful. “Ohhhhh your dress will cause quite the stir! Scandalous leaving your waist bare.”

            “Trust me—these are the least scandalous.” Sona thought about popular SoCal fashion and smirked. “You seem to be enjoying yourself—feeling a bit the rebel, helping me, are you?” Sona laughed as she continued to shade and color the dress in—blue and gold of course. She sighed as she pictured Thorin looking regal in his blues and gold to match her own, as he smiled at her, hand extended to lead her to dinner in Imladris.

            “I’ve never felt more alive,” the elleth replied.


 

            That evening at dinner, Sona sat quietly at her place at the table, keeping her eyes down and remaining somber. She ensured the braid she’d been wearing from the nape of her neck was pulled forward… though now it ended abruptly just below her collarbone. She wondered if the missing half brought Thorin any comfort. His braid certainly did for her, though she hated the manner in which it had been got.

            Thranduil’s eyes, missing nothing, took in her downcast demeanor and lingered on her cut braid. “You mourn after the manner of dwarves.”

            “It seemed appropriate given the circumstances.”

            Sona did not say another word for the rest of the meal despite Thranduil’s many attempts to engage her in conversation. She used her cover of “mourning” as a ready excuse because the truth was she wanted to give the Elven King a piece of her mind.

            Filled with lots of four letter expletives.

            But that would have clued Thranduil into the fact that she knew just who he was hiding in his dungeons. And that would ruin their very careful plan to get the Company out.


 

            The week leading up to the festival dragged on, with each day seeming longer than the last. Sona desperately wanted to see the Company—to see Thorin—but Legolas refused to allow it every time she asked.

            “It is bad enough I took you the first time. We cannot risk it again.”

            That said, Liliandil visited the Company on several occasions and ensured that their circumstances much improved. Though she could not move them into more comfortable accommodations, she made sure they had an opportunity to bathe and that their clothing (cleaned and laundered) and personal items (excepting their weapons, of course) were returned to them. Nothing would truly suit Sona until they were all released, but she kept this to herself. The elleth was surely aware of that, and was doing everything in her power to make a horrid situation less bad.

            Thranduil had apparently found out about Lil’s endeavors (though remained uninformed of Sona’s knowledge) and was furious with his daughter… but immediately dropped it when she gave him “the Look” as Tauriel had dubbed it.

            “She’s the image of her mother when she does that.”

            As for the ginger haired elleth, Sona found, on the couple times she had occasion to speak with her, that she was bright, kind, and very intuitive. She also seemed to have a genuine curiosity and fascination for the dwarves, and peppered Sona with questions at every opportunity—mostly for stories of their travels, which Sona was happy to share. It helped ease her melancholy and loneliness somewhat—especially in regard to a particular dwarf, for she found that every moment she wasn’t engaged in speaking with someone, she was quietly pining for Thorin.

            Sona’s saris arrived, each more stunning and richly embroidered than the last, and she hated that she could only wear one of them. It felt like such a waste! But Liliandil had insisted…

            The festival was finally upon them and Sona was a bundle of nerves.

            “Just do like we planned,” Liliandil said, before gliding away, ethereal as always, her gauzy green gown seeming to float around her as she led Sona to the festival.

            No one commented on her attire, though she received a lot of stares. Sona was head to toe the vision of a traditional Indian woman on her way to a grand gala, from elaborate gold bedecked blue sari, to the henna on her hands, and a proliferation of gold and pearl jewelry on her head, ears, neck, arms, and scandalously bare waist (even if it was only a couple inches).

            She paused in the entryway to the hall before heading to the head table, wishing for the smallest moment she would hear Thorin's voice call behind her, Will you join us... 

Sona endured sitting at dinner beside Thranduil, who introduced her as a guest, and nothing more. She kept a polite smile on her face, and all was going well until—

“I have a gift for you, Lady Sona,” Thranduil murmured beside her.

Unless it’s thirteen dwarves and my dog with a big bow around its neck, I don’t want it.

“Oh?” She sipped from her third glass of what appeared to be Dorwinian, but, thanks to Liliandil’s help, was simple red grape juice. The elven king appeared none the wiser as he indicated a space on the open floor below the high table in front of where the other elves dined. An elf set down a padded stool and alongside it was the most beautiful guitar Sona had ever seen—all mother of pearl inlay with a cherry wood finish and elegant lines that only the elves could achieve.

“Would you play for us?”

“I…” At Liliandil’s encouraging nod, Sona slowly stood. “Of course.”

She walked down, feeling everyone’s eyes on her. This was far different than when she’d played for Lord Elrond and the elves of Imladris. Those elves had been open and welcoming. These were not… well, they were not hostile exactly… they just seemed to be reserving judgment.

They clearly don’t get visitors very often.

She let out a slow breath as she picked up the guitar, immediately feeling comforted by it. This was familiar. This she could do. As for the song… well, that was easy. This was a festival of starlight after all.

Sona sat down and gave the guitar a few experimental strums, getting a feel for it. It hummed under fingers, eager to be played and the sound it produced was sweet and full. It truly was the finest instrument she had ever held.

The strings danced under her hand as she finger picked her way through the opening of the song.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are… anything your heart desires, will come to you…”

The gathered elves settled in, soft smiles on their faces as Sona played through the rest of the lovely Disney song about fate and love and longing and dreams filled by the grace of stars. A quick peek up at the head table showed that not even Thranduil was left untouched—his eyes glittering with unshed tears as he stared down at Sona.

Her heart softened somewhat, and Sona opted to not play the second song she’d prepared for the evening—Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”—and instead set the beautiful guitar down and faked a stumble as she stood up.

“My lady!” Legolas was at her side in an instant, and Sona placed a hand to her head, as though she were dizzy. “How much wine did you drink?”

“I… don’t know…” She reached for his face. “Why are there two of you?”

“Ada, Lady Sona is ill.” Liliandil was now at her side as well, concern on her features.

“Yes, I can see that.” The elven king shook his head. “Pity… I forgot the race of men are less tolerant of Dorwinian.” He settled back in his chair, watching as tables were pushed aside and it seemed the party was about to really get going. Sona was all but forgotten by him; nothing but a poor little human apparently unable to hold her alcohol.

The siblings stayed on either side of her helping Sona out as she stumbled and leaned heavily against them until they were safely out of sight. Then Legolas was off to get the Company, and Liliandil was rushing a miraculously recovered Sona down another corridor toward the rendezvous point.


 

            They stepped on the top of a landing carved from the very stone cliff face they were emerging from. The icy night wind bit at Sona’s nose and cheeks, and she pulled the fur lined hood up on the deep red wool cloak Liliandil had given her, grateful for the warm wool’s protection. She then followed the elleth down the stone steps, slick from the water spray, to the river below. At the bottom waited a barge half filled with barrels, two trunks, and, Sona realized, her pack.

            “Is this my ride?” She stuck a thumb out toward the boat, grateful her cloak was more of a coat, with sleeves, and clasps down to just below her waist, covering most of her—now ostentatious appearing—gold and blue sari.

            Not exactly subtle “get away” clothes.

            “Yes.” Liliandil indicated a man who stepped out from behind a large rudder. “This is Bard—my bother and I know him well and trust him; he will be taking you to Lake-town.” She turned back to Sona, eyes sparkling with excitement. “And from there… wherever your journey may take you. Though, this is where I must leave you.”

            A frown pulled at Sona’s face, and she stepped forward, pulling her friend into a hug. “I wish you could come with us, Lil.”
            “As do I, Sona.” The elleth’s arms came up around Sona, slim, but strong, and squeezed her tightly. “But I will most certainly be missed. Besides, someone has to look after Ada.”

            Sona blinked back tears and gently released her friend. “Please thank Legs for me.”

            The elleth snorted into her hand at the nickname Sona bestowed upon her brother. “Of course.” And then the elleth was gone, gliding up the steps and back into the cliff face like a bird in flight.  

            Sona stared after her for a moment until she heard a throat clearing behind her, and she spun, her gold embroidered skirt flaring out fully and peaking out from beneath her cloak.

            “Oh! I’m so sorry; I’m being so rude.” She walked up toward the barge’s ramp and extended her hand. “I’m Sona.”

            Bard took it unhesitatingly and helped her onto his boat. That threw Sona for a loop given that she’d intended to shake hands, and was quite capable of climbing up a ramp herself, but, perhaps this man was super chivalrous.

            Wait… man. He’s a MAN. Sona blinked at the realization, this man before her, clad in a threadbare leather and wool coat and rough homespun, was the first human being she’d met in all of Arda! She looked closer at him, thinking he was somewhat familiar with his dark, shoulder length hair, goatee and mustache, and…

            Will Turner! From Pirates of the Caribbean! They could be brothers…

            He was staring right back at her, evaluating and curious. Sona realized her hood had fallen down, and that he could see the three strings of gold and pearls woven into her loose hair, coming together with a dangling pendant at her forehead. Couple that with her darker skin, nose-ring, henna on her hands, heavily made-over face and eyes (perhaps she’d gone a little overboard with eyeliner), and richness of her clothing peeking out from beneath her cloak (especially compared to his)…

            Oh goodness, he must think I’m some sort of Easterling princess or something.

            “Well… um, so how do you know Liliandil?” Sona waved a hand back the way the elleth had gone.

            Bard followed the motion. “Every week I pick up empty barrels from her father.”

            “Oh yes, Thrandy does love his wine.” Sona mimicked knocking back a drink in each hand. “And a party.”

            The bargeman snorted, and she gave him a sidelong glance. “What?” she smirked. “Did I say something wrong?”

            “No my lady,” Bard chuckled. “It’s just that… there are few people who would refer to the Elven King thusly.”

            “Pfffftttt, whatevs,” Sona said laughingly, falling easily into some of her old slang. “He just—” She broke off… she felt something familiar. Looking up, she saw Tauriel at the top of the landing… and behind her, smiling down at Sona, was Thorin.


 

A/N And now we're on the home stretch for Part 2! 26 chapters total in this part, so we have 8 more chapters to go. And I promise kissing happens soooooon. I won't say when (because I don't want to ruin the surprise) but I promise we won't go into the month of May without these two having locked lips... :)

Chapter Text

 

I want you to want me

I need you to need me

I’d love you to love me

            -Cheap Trick


 

            They were all there, all thirteen of them walking down the steps, and toward the barge.

            But where’s Sasha? Where’s—

            She was suddenly flat on her back, as the chocolate lab, fur all shiny and clean, stood over her, paws on Sona’s chest, whining and furiously licking Sona’s face. Sona laughed as her hands came up to scratch the dog behind her ears.

            “Yes, yes, I missed you too.” Sona turned her face away, trying to avoid the worst of the lick assault. “Silly, girl.” She gently pushed against the dog, as Fíli’s hand looped into Sasha’s collar and he pulled her back. Sona gratefully took his hand as he helped her back to her feet, and she quickly inspected her cloak, but found it no worse for the wear—Bard kept a clean ship.

            She glanced at the bargeman and saw he had a small smile on his face as he worked the rudder and moved them away from the dock.

            I’d be laughing too if I’d just witnessed that.

On the whole this entire “escape” seemed rather anti-climactic. No terrifying barrel ride, no pursuit by angry elves, no adventure really…

Well… I’m not Bilbo.

            Sona nearly fell again as Sasha leaned her full weight against her thigh. Thankfully Fíli was right there to steady her once more.

            “Honestly, Sasha.” Sona put her hand down on the dog’s head and rubbed. “I’m right here.”

            “She missed you.” Fíli leaned against the railing, releasing Sona once she was stable. “She’s not the only one.” He looked pointedly toward his uncle, who was at the far end of the barge, head bent in close conversation with Balin, Dwalin, and Gloin. “We all missed you.”           

“I—I missed all of you too.” Sona swallowed hard. She was anxious to speak with Thorin… but also quite terrified of the notion. What would she say? What would he say?

What if he doesn’t like me? What if I just saw what I wanted to see? What if—

“Aye, we all saw how much you missed all of us.” Fíli gave Sona a cheeky grin as a fierce blush spread across her face, neck, and chest.

Sona blinked and quickly looked away, focusing instead on Tauriel and Kíli, who were standing near each other. He must have said something funny because she threw back her head and laughed. Kíli stared at the elleth as if she was the sun, and Sona’s jaw dropped.

“When did that happen?”

A bemused expression settled on Fíli’s face. “Tauriel was there throughout our confinement. After you found us we surmised she'd been kept from court so she would not be seen by you. When Kíli asked she hinted she was supposed to be out searching for us and so she spent her days 'guarding' us in the Elven King's dungeons…”

Sona frowned at that. Thranduil had not lied to her exactly, but he certainly was fond of half-truths and lies of omission.

“…I don't believe it was her only reason.” Smirking, he tilted his head to the side, sending his braids—so much like Thorin’s—sliding over his shoulders. “I always knew Kíli was charming, that he would find his One early on, and that they would stand no chance to beg for time.” Fíli looked somewhat introspective here… as if he personally understood this sort of thing. “I never thought his One would be an Elf.”

Sona remembered back to Rivendell and Kíli’s behavior there, coupled with his gentle heart. “Actually… I’m not surprised at all. I think it’s perfect.” She gave Fíli a sidelong glance. “But she’s his One? Already? He’s decided? He only just met her. What will your mother think?”

Fíli blinked at the onslaught of questions, but began answering before Sona could apologize for her nosiness. “It doesn’t take long, Sona. Once you know, you know.” He smiled at his brother fondly, who now was the one laughing as Tauriel relayed some story or other that involved a lot of miming of shooting arrows. “And if he's not yet chosen, it won't be long—he's been less than patient, waiting. As for 'Amad…” Fíli shrugged. “If the elleth is his One—while it is unprecedented—she will accept her with grace. She will be happy for Kíli. No one ever questions matters of One.” He looked pointedly at Sona. “Ever.”

Sona looked away, not wanting to think about what he was so very obviously trying to hint at. “You sound like you know a whole lot about this kind of stuff… Oh my gosh!” She quickly looked back at him. “You have a One, don’t you?” At his answering smile, she pressed: “Since when? What’s their name? Why didn’t you tell me about them before?”

The blonde dwarf laughed at her exuberance. “Aye, she's Danîe daughter of Zafîr. She is a weaver and Bifur introduced us about twenty years ago. I knew the moment I saw her. Unfortunately, she did not. The pull, though strong, is not always focused. I was young, decades younger than her; she did not believe I could be the One at the other end of it, and she had no interest in courting a Dwarfling, as she called me.” He pointed at one of his braids on the right side of his head. “Ten years ago she chose me. As to why I never told you," he shrugged, "at first I hardly knew you. Then later, when it may have come up, you spent all your time talking to someone else…” Fíli winked and Sona chose to ignore his last comment.

“Are you married, then?” She was dying to know more about this dwarrow-dam who had captured Fíli’s heart, and yet also managed to keep him at arm’s length for ten years.

            I could never do that if I felt a pull that strongly.

“Mahal, no. ‘Amad insists we wait ‘til I’m of age,” he chuckled then pointed at a braid on the left side of his face. “Though we are betrothed. Danîe put my braid in on the eve of our Quest, as I did hers and swore I would return. ‘Amad gave her blessing, hoping it would inspire caution, for my part.”

Sona snorted.

“I said she hoped.”

They laughed a bit over that, until Sona felt her gaze drawn back toward Thorin, now smoking his pipe as he looked over the ice filled river that Bard skillfully navigated them through.

            “He waits on you, Sona.”

            “Huh?” Sona looked sidelong at Fíli, not certain he was talking about what she thought he was talking about.

            The blonde dwarf pressed on as though she hadn’t spoken. “You must know by now you’re his One.”

            Yeah, he’s talking about it all right. Sona turned away and gripped the railing, staring down at the henna swirls on her hands. She was most definitely not ready for this conversation. Still… who else could she have it with? She had so many questions.

            “How do you know? How can he sure? And… I’m not even a dwarf.”

            “What you are matters not, but rather who. You, and Juzrazur—the pull—” Fíli looked around and then lowered his voice. “…Nai'adâl—the shared dreams—it is obvious, Mabajbūna'ê. And he has chosen.” He kept his gaze unwaveringly fixed on her face. “I know you experience these things together. So you should ask yourself, how can you not be sure?”

            “Then why hasn’t he done anything about it?” Sona hissed in frustration after the initial elation of what she’d just heard washed over her. She leaned in, afraid someone outside the two of them would hear, but also desperate to know. “He’s nothing but attentive and courteous and kind… but that’s it.” She made a flat cutting motion with her hand as she recalled their almost kiss in the forest—which had been initiated by her, after all. “If I’m really his One… shouldn’t he want to be more… expressive about it?” Her face felt like it was on fire. This was truly agonizing.

            Fíli leaned his forearms against the railing, chuckling as he did so. “And I was called a Dwarfling. You both pine for each other, both of you gridlocked in your own heads. Thorin blames the law, you… what's your excuse?" He smiled at her and then looked toward the sun rising over the icy lake. “Or maybe you just don't understand. You still have much to learn about Dwarves, Sona. Widows cannot be courted. Because of Ones and our reverence for them. When One is lost—”

            “What?” Sona immediately lowered her voice as several dwarves looked her way. “What to you mean widows can’t be courted? Are you saying that if Thorin and I want to… you know…”

            “Cooooourt?” He drew the word out—so much like Kíli in that moment—and there was that cheeky grin again, dimples showing.

Sona’s blush deepened.

            “Sure. We’ll go with that,” she muttered. “Does that mean we can’t? Because I’m a widow? Let me tell you, that is some grade-A bullshit right there—”

            Fíli immediately held up both hands in an attempt to calm her—though his grin was even wider than before. “Widows may court others… if they so choose. Binumrâl find their own way.”

            “…Oh.” Sona rocked back on her heels. She had not expected that.

            “You must take lead, ‘N’amad,” he placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “For ‘N’adad is very patient—and stubborn—and he will wait for you ‘til the end of days.”


 

            Getting through the toll gate into Lake-town was a trial as, just as the gentleman named Percy was about to wave them through, a horrid, weaseley looking man (Sona later learned his name was Alfrid) with a rather impressive unibrow stopped them.

            “Not so fast,” Alfrid called, as he marched up with a contingent of soldiers. “You are a licensed bargeman…” He looked over the Company, his oily gaze lingering on Sona. Dwalin stepped in front of her, blocking her view of the man, but she heard his next words all the same. “…this is not a ferry. These passengers are illegal.”

            “These passengers are escorted by one of King Thranduil’s own Captains.” Bard indicated Tauriel. “Surely the Master—”

            “Don’t presume to know the Master’s mind, bargeman.” Alfrid practically spat the last word. “Take them to the town square. The Master will see them there and decide their fate.”

            As soon as the Master’s weasel left, the dwarves immediately huddled around Thorin, who listened quietly to them talking over top of each other:

“Oi, Thorin, what did he mean the Master will decide our fate?”

            “Who is he to stop us?”

            “I say we make straight for the mountain!”

            This brought a rousing chorus of agreement that only ended when Sona quietly spoke: “But then what will happen to Bard?”

            “Who?” Dwalin asked, confused.

            “Our bargeman.” Sona tilted her chin back to man, who was also clearly listening in. “If we go straight to the mountain, what will be his fate? Won’t he get in trouble?”

            Dwalin crossed his arms over his chest, completely unmoved. “Why should we care about a man’s fate?”

            Balin’s eyebrows shot to his hairline and Dori coughed into a handkerchief. Thorin merely signed something at Dwalin who seemed to only then realize what he’d just said. His face paled but before he could speak, Sona quietly continued:

            “Because he’s a person, with a life, and a family, and cares and wishes and dreams beyond being at your service, Dwalin.” Sona shook her head. “It would be one thing if he offered to help… but to coerce him? You know that would be wrong.”

            No one spoke for a few moments, and Dwalin seemed to withdraw into himself some. He was still large and fierce… yet, more subdued. Sona did not enjoy chastising him, or any of them, much less in front of others…

            But it had to be done.

            Snowflakes began to slowly fall catching in their hair. Thorin looked toward the mountain, hand coming up to run over his beard. “Tomorrow begins the last days of autumn.”

            Balin nodded. “Durin’s Day falls the morning after next. We must reach the mountain before then.”

And if we do not?” Kíli asked. “If we fail to find the hidden door before that time?”

Fíli placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Then this quest has been for nothing.”

“This quest is for nothing if we lose our honor upon it.” Thorin turned away then, waiting for Bard to deliver them to the Master.


 

            When they arrived at the wharf in front of the town center Dwalin, Fíli (with Sasha by his side), Kíli, and Tauriel immediately disembarked, forming a vee in front of Thorin. As for the Company leader, he paused at the edge of the barge, then turned back to Sona, hand extended.

            Sona could see the cautious hope in his eyes, and thought, perhaps… perhaps he meant something more by having her at his side as they went to meet the Master of Lake-town.

            Or maybe not.

            Still, she gave him a smile, and, making sure her hood was up—she knew her appearance would attract attention with it down—placed her hand in his, and let him lead her up the wharf toward the town center.

            The remaining dwarves filled in behind, and while no weapons were drawn (Tauriel had pulled them from the barrels and distributed them once they made it through the toll gate), given the signed messages Thorin and Dwalin exchanged, Sona knew they were ready and waiting to defend themselves.

            But from whom?

            She looked around, taking in the dilapidated homes on stilts, wooden walkways, and the sad gray sky framing it all.

            It’s like a depressing version of Venice.

            As for the people… Sona realized Bard (who had followed them, a somewhat worried expression on his face) was actually more prosperous than most. Their clothing was all threadbare and worn, like their faces and hands. These people worked hard every day of their lives just to make ends meet. A lump formed in Sona’s throat and she blinked back tears.

            She hated poverty. Hated what it did to people. Hated that people who toiled their lives away still died hungry.

            Though, she did notice their eyes brightened with curiosity and surprise as the dwarves cut a swath through them.

            One young woman actually blushed when Nori winked at her. And not just her, Sona realized… several of the women, especially the younger ladies, eyed the dwarves not only with curiosity, but also appreciation. Her hand reflexively gripped Thorin’s tighter when she saw several appreciative gazes aimed his way.

            Mine! Then she blinked in surprise and almost released his hand. Where had that come from?

            But before she could ruminate on it further suddenly there was Alfrid before them, as they stopped before the largest house in the town by far. It was also in the best condition… Sona would have been embarrassed to live in such palatial grandeur when everyone else was barely getting by!

            A contingent of armed and armored guards surrounded them and Thorin immediately pulled her close to his side, his arm firmly around her back and hand clamped on her hip, as the circle of dwarves and Tauriel shrunk back, tightening around them—though no weapons were drawn.

            And then, before them, the door to the manor burst open, and out came the Master of Lake-town.


 

A/N: My apologies for the lateness of my update -- my life has been incredibly busy of late, but your reviews keep my spirits buoyed, and I will always find time to post! Thank you for understanding. I love all of you!

Chapter Text

 

I wasn't jealous before we met

Now every woman I see is a potential threat

And I'm possessive, it isn't nice…

...Don't go wasting your emotion

Lay all your love on me

            -ABBA


 

            Gross.

If there was ever the human personification of indigestion it was the Master of Lake-town. And it had nothing to do with his ridiculous over the top “finery” (when the rest of his people lived in squalor), or his corpulent mass (when his people clearly lived hand to mouth), or his greasy red-haired comb over (when he was obviously bald). No, it had everything to do with his aura of greed and general unpleasantness.

He looked over the townspeople as if they were insects, completely beneath him, and to the Company… he evaluated them like they were cattle and he was figuring out how much they’d be worth to him. The Master’s gaze lingered on Sona and he narrowed his eyes as if trying to see beneath her hood. Sasha growled, though quickly silenced at a sign from Fíli. Sona would have stepped closer to Thorin if she hadn’t already been pretty much plastered to his side—she’d have to climb him to get any closer. So she settled for squeezing his hand tighter, and he responded in kind, immediately calming her.

Thorin won’t let anything happen to us.

“What is the meaning of this?” The Master shuffled forward, hands on hips, trying to appear intimidating, but looking more ridiculous than anything. If not for the mercenary glint in his eyes and gathered guards that heeded his every word, Sona would have thought him harmless.

“We caught them trying to enter Lake-town illegally, Sire,” Alfrid answered, weaseling forward. Sona was shocked he wasn’t licking the Master’s boots.

“No, not illegally, my Lord,” Tauriel answered. “We hired a bargeman to carry us, and paid all required tolls to enter.”

“You,” the Master zeroed in on the elleth. “I know you. You’re one of Thranduil’s captains, yes?”

Tauriel nodded.

“How peculiar allowing a woman to fight, much less be a captain.” Sona bristled at the Master’s condescending tone, and Tauriel looked coiled, as if ready to spring, but neither spoke, as the Master continued: “Then you are here with the Elven King’s blessing?”

“He did not stop me from leaving.” She answered firmly.

“I don’t doubt it, girl. You can’t be of much value to him, captain or not.” His gaze traveled over the dwarves slowly, once again pausing on Sona (eliciting another low growl from Sasha), and then returned to Tauriel, whose hands were fisted so tightly, her fingernails would surely draw blood from her palms. “But somehow I doubt that he feels the same way about your companions. Tell me, how much do you think Thranduil would value a dwarf at?”

Sona could see Thorin flashing a sign to the others and dwarf hands eased off the weapons they were clutching. He turned his head and murmured in Sona’s ear, “Stay close to Dwalin,” and then gave her hand a quick squeeze before easing out of her grip and pushing through the dwarves before him.

Thorin stood before the Master, several feet shorter given the Master was at the top of a landing and was also incredibly tall, even for a man. Thorin’s head was held high, shoulders back, and Sona thought he exuded more majesty and dignity in one hair of his head than the Master contained in his entire being.

“I am Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thrór.” He looked the Master straight in the eye. “We are the dwarves of Erebor. We have come to reclaim our homeland.”

A low murmur spread through the crowd and Sona watched as the Master narrowed his eyes.

He doesn’t like the towns-people listening to Thorin…

“I remember this town in the great days of old,” Thorin continued, passion and feeling filling his voice. “Fleets of boats lay at harbor, filled with silks and fine gems. This was no forsaken town on a lake. This was the center of all trade in the north!”

He turned to the gathered crowd, meeting every eye that sought his. “I would see those days return. I would relight the great forges of the dwarves and send wealth and riches flowing once more from the halls of Erebor!” He opened his arms, and the crowd cheered, and Sona, though she’d always recognized his majesty and heritage, even when she did not know it, was struck truly for the first time, that Thorin was a king.

She swallowed hard. Don’t think about that now.

“Death!” Bard pushed through the crowd. “That is what you’ll bring upon us.”

Sona’s eyes widened—she had not expected this, and, after glancing quickly at Thorin, neither had he. As for the Master, well, he was positively sour. If he did not like Thorin rallying his people, he positively loathed Bard doing it.

He views Bard as a threat to his power…

“Dragon fire and ruin,” Bard continued. “If you awaken that beast, it will destroy us all.”

Thorin was un-phased. “You can listen to this naysayer, but I promise you this; if we succeed all will share in the wealth of the mountain.”

Smiles lit the crowd’s faces.

“You will have enough gold to rebuild Esgaroth ten times over!”

The crowd cheered and Sona blinked… Did Thorin just offer to share some of the wealth of Erebor with the people here? Her heart swelled… she always knew he was generous, but this…

“All of you! Listen to me, you must listen!” Bard would not give up. “Have you forgotten what happened to Dale? Have you forgotten those who died in the firestorm? And for what purpose?” He turned to look at Thorin, lip curling. “The blind ambition of a Mountain King, so riven by greed, he could not see beyond his own desire!”

Finally, the Master spoke, and Sona immediately knew how it would go; Bard had unintentionally done the Company a favor.

“Now. Now. We must not, any of us, be too quick to lay blame…”

Sona was once again taken by surprise… was the Master actually trying to be a peacemaker?

“…Let us not forget, that it was Girion, Lord of Dale, your ancestor, who failed to kill the beast. Hmm!”

Sona sighed. Of course not. Of course the Master was only seeking to blacken Bard’s standing with the town folk.

“It’s true, Sire. We all know the story.” Alfrid mewled from his place beneath the master. “Arrow after arrow, he shot. Each one missing its mark.”

This triggered a memory, a faint memory of the dragon… flying… burning this city.

Sona stifled a gasp and watched as Bard stepped close to Thorin. They exchanged quiet words, but Sona couldn’t hear them. All she could do was look around and see the city burn in her mind, as Thorin continued to rally the crowd. The smiling faces alight with dragon-fire, twisted grotesquely.

This. This is what would happen if they went into the mountain the same way they’d done in the book.

It ended eventually. The dragon was killed—by Bard himself, if Sona remembered correctly… but at great cost to human lives and livelihoods.

Desolation of Smaug indeed, Sona recalled the film title from the movie posters.

The crowd was cheering, the Master was welcoming the King Under the Mountain, and Sona just wanted to throw up.

I have to find a way to prevent this from happening.


 

            They walked toward an Inn the Master directed be set aside for their use (after Thorin declined staying in the guest rooms of the Master’s manor when his oily gaze lingered once more on Sona). Thorin kept Sona close to his side again, and did not comment when she interlaced her fingers with his, merely allowing a small smile to touch the corners of his mouth when she did so.

            The smile left, though, as soon as he caught a glimpse of her face beneath her hood.

            “What is wrong?” he whispered, angling his lips toward her ear, his breath hot against her cheek.

            She shook her head, sending her hood sliding back a bit. This was not something she wanted to discuss right now.

            “Is the it the dragon? I said before you do not need—”

            “No,” she hissed, gripping his hand tighter. “I’m going and that’s final.”

            “I could stop you.”

            “But you won’t.”

            Thorin sighed. “Please promise me that while we are here, in Lake-town, you will never go anywhere alone. Even if it's the just a high-floored veranda you'll be escorted by someone in the Company.”

            “I promise,” she said immediately. Sona had no wish to be caught alone here. She was too different, and both Alfrid and the Master were too curious about her.

            And vile men in Middle Earth are probably just like vile men in my Earth.

            Then a pleasant thought came to her and she leaned in to whisper in Thorin’s ear, her lips just grazing his skin. “Though I’d much prefer you were my escort.”

            His eyes widened as he sucked in a breath and Sona felt his grip on her hand tighten almost painfully.

            But she’d timed her comment well, for they’d arrived at the Inn.


 

            Upon entering the Inn, Thorin helped Sona out of her cloak, and it was all she could do not to let her mind linger on the sensation of the light, warm brushes of his hands and fingers against her, and more than that, the way his eyes consumed her when he took in her appearance; for Sona was still bedecked in full Indian regalia. More than one pair of eyes strayed to the two inches of bare waist she showed between her petticoat and blouse that her sari revealed, but from the Company it was primarily curiosity with perhaps a bit of surprise—though no judgment.

From the maids who had presented themselves upon the Company’s arrival… well, Sona had been evaluated before, and paid the three young women no mind. Especially once it was clear that apart from regular scanning of their surroundings, Thorin’s gaze was fixed firmly on Sona.

            “Âkmînruk zu,” she murmured just loud enough for him to hear, and the corners of his mouth—framed so delightfully by his short beard—tugged upward, hinting at a pleased smile.

A giggle erupted from the maids, setting Sona’s teeth on edge. But aside from a couple appreciative looks thrown in Thorin’s direction, they seemed to focus on the other dwarves—though steered clear of Kíli once Tauriel stood beside him. Sona wondered if the elf even realized what she’d done. She’d bet an entire bag of gold the Ri brothers had given her, that the elleth had no idea what she was feeling or what was going on.

            Join the club, sister. She gave Thorin a sidelong glance as the elderly innkeeper led them up the stairs to the second set of rooms on the upper floor of the inn. Can’t really blame the ladies for looking, I suppose. She could stare at him all day.

            His eyes darted her way and a hidden smile crinkled at the corners of his eyes and lips.

            Busted.

He’d caught her staring, but instead of blushing and looking away, Sona smiled and gave his hand a quick squeeze. She was very much enjoying this hand holding business. What had started all those months ago with Thorin just being a gentleman and escorting her to dinners in Rivendell had morphed into fingers intertwined, straight up holding hands like teenagers, and Sona loved it.

“This will be your room, my lord and lady.” The innkeeper swept open the wooden door with one craggy, withered hand, and Sona nearly stepped in when she froze.

“Wait what? Our room?” Sona looked inside and spotted only one bed—and not a very large one at that. Though, if we spoon, we’d fit just fine.

“Aye… is there a problem with it?” The older woman—Beth, Sona recalled—looked from Sona to Thorin and back again. “It’s the finest room I have. You’ll find no better anywhere else—”

“The room is fine, my good woman…” Thorin rumbled from behind Sona, and her heart shuddered. This was it! He was meeting her halfway! Fíli had been wrong; she didn’t need to take the lead on everything—”

“…it should more than suit my Lady’s needs.” He then disengaged his hand from hers, and Sona’s heart sank, as she turned around, a pout pulling at her lip.

But wait… did he just call me HIS lady?

Thorin’s eyes twinkled as they flitted her way and then back to Beth. “Your second finest room will suffice for me.”

Another giggle erupted from the contingent of pretty young maids trailing the Company, and Sona’s gaze immediately darted their way. They were all now eying Thorin with a whole lot more than appreciation, and Sona could have sworn she even saw one of them—a tall buxom redhead—lick her lips.

Sona’s eyes narrowed and Sasha let out a low growl, leaving Fíli to stand at Sona’s side.

This would not do. This would not do at all.

“Out!” Sona looked directly at the three maids and pointed straight down the stairs toward the front door. “All of you. Out, out, out!” Each “out” was punctuated by a bark from Sasha.

When the maids just stared at Sona, jaws dropped, and unmoving, she pushed past the gathered company, and wrapped her hand around the redhead’s wrist firmly and pulled her down the stairs. Sasha barked at the other two until they followed wordlessly behind—the chocolate lab chasing them down the stairs and barking if they slowed their steps. Sona opened the front door and ushered them onto the stoop out front.

Then, spotting her backpack just inside the doorway, she bent and drew out one of the sacks of gold.

The redhead drew herself up, indignation firing in her green eyes. “But my lady—”

“Thank you, but your services will not be required for the length of our stay.” Sona tossed the bag at their feet. “That should more than compensate you.”

“But who's going to make your beds? Bring you tea? Breakfast? Tend the fires? Bring water?”

She was persistent, Sona would give her that. “This Company has taken care of itself for nearly half a year. One more night of doing so won’t kill us.”

Then, firmly closing the door in their faces, Sona turned back to the stairwell and looked up to see fourteen faces staring back down at her.

Gloin, Bofur, Bombur, Fíli, Balin, and Dwalin were all stifling knowing laughter. Oin seemed to be trying to figure out what had just happened—pulling his trumpet to his ear—while Dori and Ori both spoke over each other trying to explain it. Bifur just grinned, and Kíli was only just now looking away from a giggling Tauriel (who did not at all seem upset to see the maids gone). Nori had a sour frown on his face, and Thorin…

Thorin just looked confused, and it was only then that Sona realized what a spectacle of herself she’d just made.

I regret nothing.

Holding her head up high she primly walked up the stairs, hand trailing the worn, wooden banister lightly. When she reached the top she heard Nori mutter, “I don’t know why we should all have to suffer the loss of pretty lasses just because they happened to give Thorin the eye.”

Looking straight at the bitter dwarf, Sona arched one eyebrow. “You’re welcome to join them, outside, Nori. No one is stopping you.” Then, grabbing her cloak from Thorin’s hands, she swept past the Company—though she did not fail to notice Thorin’s face as the dawning realization of perhaps just why Sona had kicked the maids out seemed to hit him—and entered her room, shutting the door soundly behind her.

I regret NOTHING.

She leaned back against the door and sighed as a wave of exhaustion swept over her.

Yet another night without sleep. First Thranduil’s party, then their middle of the night escape…

She eyed the bed before her, and, given that dinner was still several hours away, decided a nap was in order. Smiling, she divested herself of her cloak, sari, and jewelry and crawled into bed.

If she was going to have to chase Thorin, then she’d need to be in top form.

Let the hunt begin.


 

A/N: Thank you for the comments, kudos, and love! <3 

Chapter Text

 

"Oh don't you dare look back.

Just keep your eyes on me."

I said, "You're holding back, "

She said, "Shut up and dance with me!"

This woman is my destiny

She said, "Ooh-ooh-hoo,

Shut up and dance with me."

            -Walk The Moon


 

            Sona blinked her eyes open, feeling groggy and completely disoriented.

            Where am I?

            She was face down on an unfamiliar bed, naked but for the soft cotton sheets and quilts covering her. She turned her head and looked over the side of the bed, spotting the heap of clothing and jewelry she’d deposited there.

            Oh right… Lake-town. The inn. Gotta get up for dinner soon.

            A knock sounded at her door and she realized it was the second one she’d heard—with the first being the one that woke her.

            “Come in!” she called, but stayed right where she was, on her stomach, face turned from the door. Sona felt she could sleep for several more hours at least.

            The door opened and she smelled the delicious aroma of Bombur’s special blend of chai for her. As the cardamom and cinnamon wafted through the air she rolled onto her back and sat up, careful to keep the sheet above her breasts—much as she didn’t care if the innkeeper saw her naked, she didn’t know enough about the people of Lake-town to presume she wouldn’t be causing some sort of offense.

            “Thank you for bringing—” Sona froze.

            Thorin stood before her bearing a tray with a pot of tea and a plateful of cookies.

            Of course it was Thorin.

            Of course.

            “Oh… Uhhh…” Sona opened and closed her mouth as he stood before her, eyes never leaving her face, though a smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth.

            “Given that you dismissed all the innkeeper's maids I thought I would save her knees a trip up the stairs.” He set the tray at the foot of bed, blue eyes sparkling with mirth, and turned to leave when Sona finally spoke:

            “Wait!”

            He glanced over his shoulder and Sona turned, reaching underneath the far side pillow.

            Got it. Closing her fingers around it, she pulled out his braid and held it close to her chest as she faced him again, suddenly feeling shy. He would obviously realize she slept with his braid now…

            Thorin’s gaze latched onto the braid Sona clutched in her hand, while her other hand unclasped the silver bead—his bead—and held it out to him. The braid remained held tightly in her fist. She would only give it back if he asked her for it. She hoped he would not.

            He held out his hand and she placed the bead inside, fingers lingering against the hot flesh of his palm. She bit her lip and looked up at him through her lashes hoping what she said next would not offend it, but needing to say it all the same.

            “I’m sorry for what happened… Thranduil should not have done that to you. That was… that was…” Unable to find the words to describe what a violation it had been, tears pricked her eyes as she recalled how defeated Thorin had looked when she first saw him in the cell. “But I’m also glad he did it in some ways…” Thorin’s eyes widened at her words, so she quickly pressed on. “…it gave me hope.” She withdrew her hand from his and lovingly stroked the braid she held. “I knew you were near. I knew you were okay. And selfishly… it meant I got to keep a part of you with me.”

She peeked up at him again and watched as his face softened.

His hand curled around the bead and he nodded toward her. “Dhanyavaad, Thief.” He took a step back toward the door and then finally smiled at her. “I’m glad it gave you comfort.”

Then he was gone and Sona flopped back against the bed, tea all but forgotten.

“He didn’t even try to sneak a peek!” she grumbled to herself. “I couldn’t keep my eyes off him when I caught him bathing…” Her words trailed off as she thought back, remembering the way the water had trailed through the dark hair covering his chest all the way down to—

“Ugh, no. I can’t keep doing this.” Sona sat up and crammed a cookie in her mouth and downed her cooling tea with one swallow. She immediately felt better with her blood sugar up again. “Fíli says I have to be more assertive. Okay then. Thorin has no idea what’s coming.”

She got out of bed and walked over to one of the trunks Liliandil had packed for her, insisting that she take all the dresses she’d had commissioned for Sona. The one she’d worn to Thranduil’s party was by far too fancy and over the top to wear to dinner with the Master tonight—it was more suited for an Indian bride than for a meal in Lake-town. And while Sona had no doubt she would still be much better dressed than any other human present, it could not be helped.

She dug through the trunk until she found it: a simple, modern style sari. Instead of being in shades of blue and gold like the last one she’d worn, it was a deep red, richly embroidered with varying shades of pinks and oranges. And the differences did not stop there: whereas on her pervious sari the blouse had sleeves, a relatively high, modest neckline, and only showed two inches of her waist, this one, well…

Sona pulled it out and smiled. Her grandmother would be horrified; Sona had sports bras that contained more fabric than this blouse.

Perfect!

            She decided to leave her hair down, but for the small braid she’d taken to wearing at the nape of her neck while she was in Mirkwood. Thorin seemed to like her hair down. At least, Sona noticed his eyes seemed to linger on it when she wore it loose. She also donned the bangles Arwen gave her and still had the henna designs on her hands and wrists. She lined her eyes and put mascara on her lashes along with lipstick on her lips and a red bindi on her forehead. Long dangling pearl and gold earrings to elongate her neck (a gift from Liliandil) were the only other bits of ornamentation she wore.

            Pulling her cloak on, she ensured only the bottom portion of her sari showed. She suspected Thorin—or possibly Dwalin—might try to get her to change if either one of them saw her scandalous get-up.

            But it’s not as if I left everything bare for everyone to see. I do have my sari draped over everything.

            Smirking, she opened her door just as Thorin stood there, fist raised, about to knock.

            He smiled softly as he saw her, giving her a quick once over that warmed her to the core. As his gaze latched onto the bottom of her sari peeping out from her cloak, his smile widened.

            “The fire shades tonight?”

            Now it was Sona’s turn to smile as those words from Imladris echoed back to her…

            “This guy once told me about dwarrow love for color.” She winked at him. “I always got the impression he liked how I looked in these.” Then she held out her hand to him. “Shall we?”


 

            As they entered the dining hall in the Master’s manor Sona realized this was no simple dinner for the Company, but a full up party. It seemed that every adult in entire town was crowded into hall and Sona couldn’t help notice the stark difference between the Master and Thranduil’s halls.

            Though that’s hardly fair. The elves lacked for nothing; Thranduil clearly ensured his people were well taken care of. The same could not be said of the Master.

            As she took in the gathered crowd all staring at her and Thorin as they stood at the head of the Company, she felt a slight bit of panic and debated keeping her cloak on… her outfit would surely cause a stir.

            Om Namah Shivaya

But wait… this is me. This is my culture. I don’t care what any of them think.

            So, holding her head up high, she lowered her hood, shook out her hair, and began undoing the clasps of her cloak.

            Om Namah Shivaya.

            Thorin stood close behind her, hands on the yoke of the cloak, waiting to help her out of it.

            Om Namah Shivaya.

            A serene smile on her face as many stares were already directed her way to take in her “different” appearance, Sona stepped out of the cloak, and stood, hand out, patiently waiting for Thorin to hang her cloak and return to her side.

            The expected collective gasp sounded as every remaining head in the room turned to stare at Sona.

            Her red blouse covered her breasts snugly in a fitted, gold and orange embroidered swath of fabric, with two tiny straps over her shoulder to ensure it stayed up. The back of the blouse narrowed so much that the lotus flower tattoo in the middle of her back would have been plainly visible if her waist length hair hadn’t covered it. Her petticoat sat low on her hips, several inches below her belly button, instead of at her waist as her others had. The centermost portion of the skirt came down to a vee well beneath her navel.

            Of course she had draped a pink and orange sari over top of it all.

            Though, given that the fabric is completely sheer apart from some embroidered flowers… Sona’s smile deepened slightly.

            “That…” Thorin’s voice rumbled in her ear, stirring the shorter hairs along her neck, as he slipped his hand in her grasp. “…that is a new sari.”

            “Mmm-hmm,” Sona murmured in response, tightening her grip slightly as he led her over to the head table as though they were there only two people in the room.

            Just as they were about to split from the rest of the Company—who were to be seated below with the towns-folk—Dwalin leaned in:

“If your goal was to ensure no one looked at Thorin, I think you managed it, Whatsafist—”

“—Pacifist—”

“—If it was to ensure Thorin didn’t look elsewhere, well, that you needn’t have worried about that. Though I’m certain he appreciates the view all the same.” Then the gruff dwarf was off with a wink, while Sona felt a warm, happy flush roll over her.

Thorin pulled her chair out and waited to sit until she was comfortably ensconced behind her table setting. The normal rumble of the room resumed, and servers came out with various plates of food and bottles of spirits. It was then that Sona realized just how spoiled she’d truly been during her months of travel in Arda. With elves being vegetarians and Bombur always sensitive to her dietary preferences, she’d never had to worry about finding something to eat.

Apart from those first days, she thought with a smile, as she recalled her first memory of Thorin, biting into a biscuit, sending little crumbs into his beard.

She looked down at the options before her and nearly shoved them away in disgust. Meat, meat, meat everywhere. There was even a full boar with an apple in its mouth set before the Master, who was already well into his cups, and disgustingly shoveling food into his mouth.

But she had no desire to offend the rest of the kind towns-folk—this type of feast did not come cheaply and they’d likely have skimpy meals for a while after—so she searched for something, anything, along the table that she could eat, when suddenly a large plate of fruits and cheeses alighted before her.

Sona smiled at Thorin as his hands retreated back to his own plate.

Âkmînruk zu, Jaanu,” she murmured as she popped a grape in her mouth. She wouldn’t have to starve or cause offense, it seemed, thanks to her perceptive date.

The rest of the meal passed without any issues. The Master and Alfrid tried and failed to engage both Sona and Thorin in conversation. Sona merely dodged both of their inelegant questions easily; after verbally sparring with the Elven King, these two were child’s play.

Watching the Company eat below was entertaining to be sure. Bofur and Nori kept up with a steady stream of winks and flirtations with the serving girls. Kíli sat next to Tauriel, the two of them sharing a fruit and cheese plate similar to Sona’s, though she did catch the young dwarf occasionally casting a longing look at the pork loin Fíli was hungrily consuming. Sona chuckled—Tauriel would not care if Kíli was a vegetarian or not. Silly, adorable dwarf.

As for Thorin, he answered his host’s queries quite graciously but kept his attention firmly fixed on Sona. She spent the bulk of that time quietly relaying to Thorin little stories of how she passed her time in Thranduil’s halls and how kind and generous both Liliandil and Legolas were toward her. She wisely steered clear of mentioning the Elven King at all.

Thorin seemed to enjoy simply listening to her speak and Sona lamented that this public setting was the first time in weeks they’d truly had any time to be together and just talk.

I need to fix that. She gave Thorin a sidelong glance, focusing on his lips as he answered another of the Master’s questions. And I think it’s time for more than just talking.

Eventually the dining wound down, and Sona, relieved that perhaps the evening was finally over, sighed when the tables below were pushed aside and a small troupe of musicians come out. It seemed there was to be dancing now.

“What’s wrong?” Thorin leaned in, hand covering hers under the table and Sona’s heart skipped a beat; this was incredibly forward… for him. “I should’ve thought the prospect of music would make you happy.”

The first few couples moved out onto the floor as the band struck up a merry Irish sounding jig between pipers, hand held drums, a fiddle, and even some metal spoons.

“Normally yes.” Sona turned her hand and interlaced their fingers. “But tonight…” She looked over at him and gave a slight widening of her eyes, hoping he’d pick up on her meaning. “…I’d hoped to catch up with you a bit more… privately at some point.”

His reply was interrupted as Bofur careened by, dragging a surprised, but not unwilling young woman with him onto the dance floor. Sona followed their movements, watching as the couples hopped and skipped around together, spinning and laughing with wanton abandon. This was the happiest she’d seen the town-folk, and as she flicked her gaze toward the sour faced Master, she realized he was not pleased with it. Not one bit.

Thorin had followed her gaze and, turning back to Sona, gave her a mischievous smile. Sona immediately returned it and nodded.

Pushing his chair back, Thorin was on his feet, hand extended toward Sona, and, taking it, they walked down to the dance floor together.

The music faltered for only a moment while they settled themselves in the midst of the other couples, who had all paused to stare—well, all but Bofur, who took the opportunity to hoot at them before whirling his partner back around the room.

Thorin’s hand settled warmly on the bare skin of Sona’s waist and she reveled in the feel of him.

I could get used to this.

As she placed her hand on his arm, just below his shoulder, and the other in his free hand, he pulled her against him. Sona gasped, a smile spreading across her face, as she looked straight into his sparkling blue eyes.

“Shall we?”

“Are you kidding?” Sona shook her hair out behind her. “I’ve been wanting to dance with you from the first moment I saw you sparring with Dwalin.” His hand on her waist tightened a fraction at her admission and she laughed.

“Then what are we waiting for?” came his throaty reply, and then they were off, whirling and spinning as he led her about the room. Sona followed him effortlessly, marveling at how fluidly he moved, catlike and graceful, yet also forceful and demanding. Dancing with Thorin… well, it was like everything she’d imagined and more.

Better, it’s better. So. Much. Better.

She leaned her head back, laughing as Thorin took her through several spins and twirls, always keeping her clear of the other dancing couples, no matter how drunk or rowdy the others became as the night wore on.


 

            Sona finally collapsed against a chair, unable to dance another step. Thorin had gone off to get them both something to drink and she was still flushed and humming with excitement. They’d danced through song after song, well after all the other partners had changed out, but they’d both ignored anyone who tried to cut in (though Sona eventually came to recognize that this was deemed as unaccountably rude by society… she did not care). Dwalin had bodily hauled off one particularly persistent fellow.

            She watched as Tauriel whirled by, Kíli perched atop her toes, grinning up at her so broadly Sona thought his face would split.

            I wonder when the dreams will start for them. Maybe I should—

            “My Lady.”

            Sona’s good mood immediately turned sour as Alfrid’s nasally voice sounded to her right. He had his hand extended toward her, intent clear.

            Crap.

How to get out of this without offending their hosts…

            Just then Balin appeared and stepped between them, asking Alfrid about provisions for their journey the next day, and when the weasel looked as though he was going to try to step past him back toward Sona, Gloin showed up and asked more questions. And just for good measure Fíli joined the group after giving her a quick wink, forming a solid wall between Sona and the weasel.

            “You two looked wonderful out there, lass,” Dwalin said from beside her, and Sona felt a smile tug at her mouth. “I’ve not seen Thorin look so happy in all my years.”

            Sona’s eyes widened, but before she could ask Dwalin what exactly he meant, Thorin arrived with their drinks. Feeling overly hot and flushed, and somewhat stifled by the pressing crowd, Sona slipped her hand in Thorin’s and led him out toward a small balcony off the main hall she’d spotted earlier.

            At his questioning look she cheekily grinned. “I’m warm and want to go out to the veranda to cool off. And I did promise to take an escort from the Company with me…”

            His answering smile blossomed across his full lips (framed handsomely by his short beard) and it was all Sona could do to not grab him and kiss him right then!

            A few other couples were already out on the balcony but they immediately left as soon as they saw who showed up. Though the looks they gave Sona and Thorin were of awe and admiration, not derision, so Sona assumed she and Thorin must appear somewhat intimidating to them.

            If only they knew what a bundle of nerves I am right now.

            Thorin guided her to the railing, and she remembered the last time they’d stood together like this—all the way back in Rivendell. She placed her free hand on the wooden banister and he did the same, very near, not quite touching. She took a sip of the wine he’d brought her and let out a slow breath as she slid her hand over to his and deftly tucked her pinky finger over top his. She watched him out of her periphery as his gaze latched onto the familiar movement, eyes fixed on her golden name ring. He smiled and Sona took another gulp of the red wine before setting it down.

            Okay, it’s now or never. Time to be assertive, Sona!

            She turned toward Thorin and withdrew her hand from his, only to wrap both of her hands firmly in the lapels of his coat when he faced her. He had a confused expression on his face and she thought he’d never looked more charming.

            And then, on a balcony in Lake-town, as snowflakes fell softly around them, Sona Anand Jones pulled Thorin Oakenshield into a searing kiss.


 

A/N: I did promise you a kiss before the month was out...

Chapter Text

 

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight

Lead me out on the moonlit floor

Lift your open hand

Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance

Silver moon's sparkling

So kiss me

            -Six-Pence None The Richer


 

            Thorin seemed to freeze and Sona wondered if perhaps she’d misconstrued, well, everything. But then his arms were around her, pulling her tightly to him and his lips were moving against hers eagerly. She released his coat, plunging her hands into his silky hair, sending a wave of cardamom into the air. He tasted earthy and smoky like the red wine they’d been drinking and—

            “WOOOHOOO!”

            Sona sighed and Thorin grumbled under his breath as they broke apart. Though he still kept his arms possessively around her and she did not relinquish her hold on his hair.

            “Dammit, Bofur!” She scowled at the inebriated dwarf. “You have the worst timing!”

            “I win!” Bofur grinned at them, completely ignoring the frown Sona was levying at him, a half-full pint of ale in his grip and a sloppy smile on his face. “Pay up!” He turned toward Nori, Gloin, and…

Fíli?” The sight of the blonde dwarf tossing a sack of gold at Bofur was what finally got Sona to release Thorin as her hands went slack in shock and betrayal—though he did not loosen his hold one bit... if anything he held her tighter. “You bet against us?”

“No, ‘N’amad, I would never do that.” Fíli’s cheeky grin was back as Bofur went to collect from the others still inside the dining hall. “I thought for sure you’d snog his face off at the inn. But instead you took a nap.”

“Oh…” Sona didn’t know how to reply to that nor the answering chuckle from Thorin that she feel coming from deep in his chest. Oh, how she loved it when he laughed.

Nori stood beside Fíli, arms crossed, and gleam in his eyes. “Does this mean we can have our maids back?”

Fíli coughed into his hands and Gloin immediately made himself scarce as Sona just stared at Nori, one eyebrow raised.

The smiled slowly melted off the dwarf’s face and, blinking, he mumbled a quick excuse about needing to see to Ori about something or other.

“Hmmm,” Thorin hummed against her hair as he moved behind her and hugged her tightly. “You’re very good with people. Quite compelling.”

Sona laughed. “Yes well, that is part of my contractual obligation as erstwhile diplomat of the Company.”

Fíli, who Sona had momentarily forgotten was still there, gave his uncle a meaningful look while he signed something, then turned to go with a murmured goodbye.

“What did he say?” Sona leaned her head back against Thorin’s shoulder, looking at him sidelong.

“You heard him.”

“Oh don’t you give me that, Thorin Oakenshield.” Sona pulled out of his hold, but caught his hand in hers, not ready to give up the heady sensation of touching him whenever she wanted. “I know sign language when I see it and you guys have been carrying on conversations around me for months.” She pursed her lips in mock irritation. “I’m not blind, you know.”

“No, Thief,” Thorin chuckled as he threaded his free hand in her hair and slowly guided her forehead to bump gently against his. Pausing there for a moment, he simply held her gaze with his. “You see much.” He pressed a soft kiss against her lips, but before Sona could respond (with great enthusiasm, of course), he was pulling her back into the dance hall.

Sona sighed. Looks like private time is over.

But she was wrong—private time wasn’t over! As soon as they got back inside the hall, Thorin sought out the Master—still eating at the head table (with food remnants all over his already dirty cravat). After thanking him far more politely than Sona thought the vile man deserved, Thorin said something about needing rest because of their early departure for the mountain in the morning, and then he was whisking her away to the coat room (where he stole another quick kiss… just a peck, but still Thorin was kissing her), and they were on their way after he made sure she was sufficiently bundled up against the cold.

The inn was not far, a five-minute walk at the very most… but it took them at least a full half-hour since Sona could not keep her hands to herself.

The first somewhat clear alley they passed by, Sona tugged Thorin in behind her.

“Thief, the inn is not this—”

She silenced him with a kiss.

This time there was no hesitation from Thorin and he returned her kisses with equal fervor, hands coming up to push down her hood and bury themselves in her hair. They stayed like that for a few minutes, gently exploring each other’s mouths and Sona was lost in a world of Thorin’s tender embrace as he cradled her head in his hands.

They only broke off kissing because Thorin’s mouth edged its way to the corner of hers, then across her jaw. Sona sighed, her arms coming around his neck, as she melted against him. His beard whisked across her skin in a delightfully new sensation that she thought she’d never get enough of. His nose trailed along her cheek as he worked his way across and then his whiskered mouth pressed against the sensitive skin below her ear and a giggle burst out of her.

Thorin froze and Sona tightened her grip on him.

“No, no! It’s fine. I’m just ticklish is all.” She bent her head to rub her cheek against his jaw line while one hand came up to stroke his beard, eliciting a low moan from him. She loved the feel of his soft, wiry hair against her fingers and cheek—though she was certain she was going to have a severe case of beard burn by the time this night was done. She grinned at that thought.

“I’ve never kissed anyone with a beard before. It’s a completely new sensation for me.” Sona pulled back just far enough to be able to look at him. “I love it.”

His eyes darkened, pupils dilating at her words, and then Thorin’s lips claimed hers with so much ferocity Sona gasped. With a low growl against her lips, he took advantage of the opening, plunging his tongue into her mouth. She twined her tongue with his, moving together so fluidly she could only imagine how other things would be.

They eventually surfaced for air and Thorin led them back to the inn despite Sona’s playful pouting; though he did not resist when she tugged him into two more somewhat private alcoves along the way.

I’m behaving worse than a hormone-riddled teenager, necking every chance I get! That thought only made her smile as Thorin opened the inn’s front door for her. All we need is the backseat of a car and a private overlook!

The innkeeper was still out and Sona recalled the matron dancing with Bombur back at the dining hall. The two had made quite the sight, Bombur, always so surprisingly light on his feet despite his girth, and Beth keeping up with him like it was nothing, despite her creaky old bones.

Though, once the two of them were inside, something seemed to shift… it wasn’t awkward, just… well, Sona was acutely aware that they were inside a very large house… alone. Thorin seemed to be quite attuned to that fact too and subtly gave her a bit of distance, much to her displeasure. He gently released her hand and helped her out of her cloak—touching her far less than he had when he helped her into it. Then he shed his fur coat as well, and hung them both on hooks by the front door while the snow melted off of them.

“Would you care for tea?” he asked, walking toward the kitchen.

No. I want to make-out some more! “That’d be wonderful, thank you.” Patience, Sona. You’ve waited this long…

She sat down at a high stool and watched as Thorin moved about the kitchen, clearly knowing his way around. That made Sona smile. Watching him do something so… domestic was positively delightful. She leaned her elbows against the tall, wooden center island, and perched her face in her hands as her eyes consumed him. The way he moved from place to place, deft fingers handling the ceramic mugs and hot kettle so gracefully… she sighed. He’s so pretty. Pretty and majestic. And MINE.

“Did Bombur teach you how to make my tea?”

“No.” Thorin glanced at her briefly before resuming his work, a smirk on his face. “I know what you like.”

Sona’s mind flashed back to their stolen kisses along the walk back and she flushed. Yes, my good sir, you most certainly do!

He finished and set a steaming mug before her and kept one for himself. She inhaled the heady scent of cardamom and cinnamon as the fire crackled in the hearth and savored this peaceful moment with Thorin—for they were rare and precious.

After a few sips of the delicious chai, Sona asked, “What does ‘N’amad mean?” She had fairly a good idea but wanted to see how Thorin reacted. “Fíli’s called me that twice now.”

“Hmmm.” Thorin took a sip of tea before setting down the mug and eying her carefully, though a smiled pulled at the corner of his lips. “I should not be teaching you Khuzdûl, Thief.”

Sona narrowed her eyes. He was dodging the question. “But you already have!”

“Aye. Against the laws of my people.”

“But you’re the king…” She gave him a teasing smile. “…can’t you break the rules?”

Thorin turned serious in an instant. “Yes…” His eyes grew distant for a moment then he blinked and was back with her again. “…I am king. As such I’m bound more than any Dwarrow to keep true to our sacred ways.”

“No, no… I meant… I was just joking. I would never imply…” Sona stared down at her tea, an embarrassed blush heating her cheeks. “I mean of course you have to set the standard. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”

His warm, steady hand reached across the table to cover hers. “Be at ease; I know you jest with me...” His pinky finger feathered over the top of hers, lightly stroking her name ring. “…and I treasure it. But you must know… there are reasons… why I have been constrained toward you… Asti… until you…”

Here he stalled and a smile tinged Sona’s lips as she realized what he was trying to say. She raised her eyes and met his earnest gaze. “Yes. Fíli told me on the barge about widows and Ones and things… well, until then, I just didn’t think… I couldn’t believe…” The words were too difficult to speak, and she lowered her gaze again.

Thorin gave her hand a light squeeze as he walked around the table, never releasing his grip. “The seasons have been long since we met... And wondrous… and a trial of patience.” He chuckled. “I am not known for my patience.”

Sona gave an answering laugh. “That makes two of us.” She took another sip of her tea as she looked up at him through her lashes, eyes focusing on his lips. “Still, it’s not without its upsides. We know each other pretty well now.” Then her smile softened. “You’ve become my best friend. I trust you with everything.”

Thorin’s hands were suddenly twining in her hair as he bent to capture her lips with his. He tasted of honey and spices and Sona lost herself in the feel of him, rasping her fingers along his scalp as she pulled him down against her mouth, eager for more. He groaned at her touch, but instead of escalating things, Thorin kept his kisses gentle, slowing them until he eventually pulled away despite Sona’s attempts to follow him. Thorin cupped her face tenderly with his warm hands and ran callused thumbs lightly along her cheeks. “A beautiful mind…” he placed a feather light kiss on her eyelid. “…and the loveliest spirit.” His nose lightly trailed along her forehead as he placed a kiss on her other eyelid.

Sona shivered, and not because she was cold. “Is that your way of saying you think I’m pretty even though I don’t have a beard?”

Thorin chuckled as he pulled her into hug, resting his chin atop her head. “Your beauty exceeds that of any precious gem within the Mountain.” He ran his hands lightly over hair and back. “I have not met a more radiant person in all my days.” He then pulled back, holding her at arm’s length. “And you are weary, needing rest. Tomorrow looms.” A shadow of worry crossed his features and Sona wished she could do something—anything—to take it away.

Anything other than not facing the dragon.

She allowed him to lead her up the stairs and down the long hallway to her room.

“Dwalin’s taken the room next to yours, should you need anything.” Thorin indicated with a nod of his head.

“I’m pretty sure he can’t give me what I need.” Sona ran a finger along one of his braids, and watched as Thorin’s eyes darkened again. She smiled coyly and then wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling him in for a goodnight kiss…

…which very quickly escalated.

He backed her against the door to her room and a small moan escaped Sona’s lips at feel of Thorin fully against her. Growling, his kisses became more forceful and she opened her mouth to him when his tongue pressed against the seam of her lips. She wanted to get closer, to feel the contours of his chest, but his damned armor was in the way.

One of his hands moved to her hip, then slid around to her rear as he pulled her tightly to him, moving his full lips to her neck. Sona was too far-gone to be tickled by the sensation of his beard this time—if anything it drove her even crazier as her moans and sighs of pleasure were echoed in kind by Thorin. She clung to the thick braids at the back of his head as a fevered haze of lust and desire swept through her.

“Do you want to come in?” she gasped.

Thorin’s hands stilled and his hot, opened mouth kisses on her collarbone turned into light pecks. Sona moaned again, this time in frustration.

She already knew what his answer would be.

“Aye,” he rumbled against her ear before placing a gentle kiss there, and Sona’s eyes widened.

Aye…Yes? YES!

Then he stepped back.

WHAT?

“But I will not.”

            Sona’s jaw dropped and she just stared at him as his eyes hungrily raked over her, then settled back on her face.

            “You have much to consider, Biriz Akmâth-amê.” Thorin reached down and took her hand in his, but kept his distance. “I come with demands I can't forsake. Think me greedy if you must, but I will not settle for anything frivolous with you.” He then turned her hand and bent to press a hot, open-mouthed kiss against her palm, leaving her breathless.

            And then Thorin was gone, striding down the long hall to the complete opposite end, his hair trailing behind him as he entered his room and shut the door with a soft click.


A/N: Thank you for all the kind comments and kudos -- they really make my day! And if you can't wait for my update next weekend, please do check out my beta YMR's story "Biriz Akmath" -- which is this story retold from Thorin's POV. You won't be sorry! (basically, if you like Thorin's dialogue--especially in this chapter--that's usually YMR's doing. Brilliant.)

Lastly, just a gentle reminder to those who may have missed what this story is rated. You will not find any content in this story that you wouldn't see in a PG-13 movie. Nothing explicit either in violence or sex. 

See you next week!

Chapter Text

How I hate to spend the evening on my own

Autumn winds

Blowing outside the window as I look around the room

And it makes me so depressed to see the gloom

            - Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), ABBA


 

            Dwalin jerked open his bedroom door and immediately lowered his axe when he saw Sona.

            “Oh, it’s you, Whatsafist—”

            “—Pacifist.” Sona shoved past him into the dark room. “What does biriz akmâth mean?”

            The dwarf just started at her for a moment before responding: “Lass, it’s the middle of the night.” He lit a candle and then used it to light others about the room.

            “Answer the question, Dwalin!” Sona whirled, her lavender silk robe—another gift from Liliandil—fluttering prettily around her.

            Dwalin stood there with sleep-mussed hair, wearing only his long underwear and trousers, axe in one hand, candle in another, jaw dropped.

            One part of Sona’s mind recognized she’d never snapped at him before, but the greater part needed an answer to her question.

            “Please, Dwalin.” She lowered her gaze and looked at the cooling embers of fire. “Please.”

            “Gold song.” Dwalin’s breath seemed to hitch momentarily. “It means gold song.” He set the axe by the door and the candle on the dresser. “Surely that’s not why you pounded the door so hard I thought you were a troll.”

            “I wasn’t that loud at first.” Sona sat on his bed, slumping over, exhaustion wearing at her. “You’re a very deep sleeper, you know that?”

            “I heard the first knock.” He sat beside her. “I hadn't the span of a heartbeat to put my trousers on before you knocked again. Never mind that.” Dwalin peered down at her face. “I should’ve thought you’d be happy as a gold struck mountain… what troubles you, lass?”

            “Everything!” Sona stood and immediately began pacing the length of the room. “First he kisses me senseless—”

            “—I heard tell it was you kissed him—”

            “—then he says all sorts of lovely things to me and calls me his Gold Song, but then when I invite him into my room—”

Dwalin cleared his throat and Sona rolled her eyes as red blush crept up his neck and face all the way up to the top of his bald head.

“When I invite him into my room for something that is clearly private…” Sona threw her hands in the air. “He says no!

Dwalin looked completely unsurprised by this.

“Why won’t he sleep with me, Dwalin?” She pointed a finger at him. “Tell me! Because for the life of me, I cannot figure it out.”

“That…” his eyes scanned the room as if searching for an enemy he could dispatch. “…that’s a talk you best save for—”

“If you tell me it’s a talk I’d better have with Thorin, so help me Dwalin, I will throw one of your precious axes into the lake right now.”

The dwarf immediately snapped his mouth shut.

He told me it’s because I needed time to consider things.” She began ticking things off on her fingers. “So I considered the dragon since that seems the most pressing right now, and far more important than things like romance and feelings. Think I may have actually come up with a solution for that problem, but we won’t know until I try it now, will we?” She ticked off a second finger. “Then I considered another thing—don’t ask—because it seems like it is probably way more important than my current state of sexual frustration. No solution there. I still don’t know what to do with it other than wait for Gandalf to get back.” She ticked off a third finger. “Which brings me to the wizard. Where the hell is he?” Then, not waiting for a response she resumed pacing.

“At that point, when I realized that this was probably not what Thorin meant when he said I had much to consider, I tried to consider what he wanted me to consider, and now I wish, considering everything that’s happened, he would have had more consideration for my sleep deprived brain and maybe, I don’t know, tell me WHAT IT IS HE WANTS ME TO CONSIDER!”

Sona stood before Dwalin seething, hands fisted at her sides, though pitched her voice low and spoke the next calmly: “He also told me to come see you if I need anything. So here I am.”

The dwarf swallowed hard as he looked up at her, as if unsure of where to begin. Or perhaps unsure if she was done speaking.

As the silence grew the heart of what was really bothering her came out, and her shoulders slumped as she covered her face with her hands, fighting back tears. “Did I do something wrong? Again?”

“No, lass, no.” Dwalin was on his feet and wrapping a quilt around her. She hadn’t even realized she was shaking. “I reckon you did everything right. More than right, so much so, that…” He led her over to a stuffed chair near the hearth, and after sitting her down, proceeded to build up the fire.

“That…?” Sona prodded.

“Well… it’s just that…”

“Spit it out, Dwalin. It can’t possibly be worse than the scenarios I’m running through my head already.”

I’m Thorin’s One, but he doesn’t love me… just feels a compulsion to be with me.

I’m Thorin’s One, and he loves me, but he’s already married.

Or the worst, despite what Fíli has said on the barge: I’m not Thorin’s One.

Dwalin sat on the footstool before her and took her hand in both of his. “You see, lass, you’re Thorin’s One…”

Sona let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

“…and more than that, he’s been completely besotted with you since Rivendell—maybe even earlier.”

Her heart eased. It’s not just because I’m his One. He likes me for me.

The dwarf looked up at her through his bushy brows. “So you must understand, he’ll not be wanting any sort of frivolous thing.” He cocked his head to the side, eyes searching her face. “For you, Sona, he'll not settle for anything less than Queen Under the Mountain.”

WHAT!” Sona jerked her hand out of Dwalin’s as if burned. “Oh no! Nononononononono! We just kissed a couple hours ago for the first time! There’s no way he’s already thinking about marriage and… and… why would I have to be queen at all? Can’t we just like… date—err, I mean court—indefinitely?”

“Aye, ye could.” Dwalin sat back, an eyebrow raised. “But… based on what you just told me… well, I should’ve thought you were rather eager to share the marriage bed.”

“Of course I am—wait a sec are you saying Thorin won’t have sex with me unless I marry him?”

“And consent to be the queen.”

Sona surged to her feet. “That is blackmail!”

“No…” Dwalin leaned back and eyed her evenly, completely unruffled. “…that’s my King knowing what he wants and accepting no less.”

“But… but…” Sona was at a loss for what to say. So many feelings and thoughts and competing emotions. “I don’t even know if I’m going to stay in Middle Earth, Dwalin!” That thought immediately pained her… but then so did the thought of never seeing her family again. “How can I possibly even be considering marriage? How can he? I mean, I only just realized I’m in love with him like a week ago.”

Saying those words out loud for the first time hit her like an anvil and she sank to the chair beneath her. “I can’t leave him.” She knew that with complete surety. “And I can’t take him with me either… because he could never leave his people—”

“—Your people,” Dwalin corrected. “If you want.”

Sona’s eyes widened. “You would accept a queen who wasn’t a dwarf?”

“Nobody questions when someone’s found their One, lass.” Dwalin crossed his arms. “It’s not done.”

“That’s not what I asked, Uncle Cranky-pants.” Sona narrowed her eyes. “Their king marrying someone from the race of men is one thing.” She leaned forward and jabbed a finger toward his chest. “Making her their queen? That’s a completely different issue, and you know it.”

“Aye, it is,” Dwalin sighed, passing his hand over his face. “But the truth is, lass, most will not care overmuch.”

Sona gave him her best “oh please” look, complete with pursed lips and half-rolled eyes.

“I mean it. Some will care, aye.” He shrugged as if they were inconsequential. “But for the rest, the line of Durin is assured through Fíli and Kíli…”

“The heir and the spare,” Sona murmured.

“…so any bairn you and Thorin had would not be his heirs, but would remain princesses and princes through all their days—which, if you ask Kíli, is the best way of things.”

“Bairn?” Sona tripped over the word until she used her context clues and: “Children?” Sona’s eyes widened and she gripped the arms of the chair. She wasn’t opposed to the idea of kids exactly… it was just… “Mom” was not ever a role she’d envisioned for herself. Auntie Sona or N’amad was one thing. Mummy was something altogether different. “Does… does Thorin want kids?”

“Now that, lass, is a talk for you and Thorin only.” Dwalin patted her hand. “Nor is it something you need to decide on now. Just take it one day at a time, see? You don't need to figure out the rest of your life tonight.”

“No, you’re right.” Sona scrubbed a hand over her face. “I just need to figure out tomorrow.”

She stared into the fire, chewing on her lower lip as she considered. Dwalin continued to sit beside her and hold her hand as the minutes passed until finally:

“Dwalin?”

“Aye, lass?
            “There’s one more thing I need to know.”


 

            After getting her last question thoroughly answered, Sona stumbled back to her room—escorted by Uncle Cranky-pants of course—and collapsed into bed. The last thing she recalled as a deep, dreamless sleep took her, was the happiness and bliss and feeling of completion she’d felt the moment Thorin had kissed her back.


 

A/N: Thanks for all the love and comments! I treasure every  single one. :)

Chapter Text

 

It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart

Without saying a word you can light up the dark

Try as I may I could never explain

What I hear when you don't say a thing

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There's a truth in your eyes sayin' you'll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

            -Ronan Keating


 

            Sona woke the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to face a dragon. She had kissed Thorin and he called her his Gold Song after telling her she had a beautiful mind and lovely spirit.

            And he said I was more beautiful than any gem he had ever encountered!

            She smiled as she stretched her hands over her head and flexed her toes below. The talk with Dwalin had done her a lot of good, setting her heart at ease. When Thorin had left her standing outside her room after kissing and holding her like that, she’d wondered if she’d done something wrong. Had agonized over it in fact, until Dwalin explained.

She and Thorin needed to talk more about that, though. After some consideration, she realized that Thorin would not withhold sex as a way to force her into marrying him—or worse become Queen Under the Mountain—manipulation was not his way.

Stubbornness, yes; manipulation, no.

And given how he had steadfastly avoided pressing his suit for her despite the fact that she was his One and the past few months had to have been torturous for him (what with all her ignorant teasing with flower gifts and hair touching)… she initially assumed that dwarf custom dictated that couples did not sleep together until they were married.

Except she did not for one minute believe Thorin was a virgin. Or Dwalin. Or really anyone in the Company.

Okay, well maybe Fíli and Kíli… and Ori. Though if Fíli got betrothed before he left on the quest, hmmm.

And given that both Thorin and Dwalin had mentioned casual sexual relationships as a possibility… she assumed there had to be some sort of rule or custom specifically with regard to Ones and sex and marriage.

But that doesn’t make any sense! By virtue of the fact that they are Ones and have Chosen… then that means for them there will be no other. I mean… if you’re looking for commitment, there can be no higher than that!

Which made her think that really, it must just be tradition or some religious belief she was unaware of at this point. Unless she was missing something huge here—which could very well be the case given that there was still so much she didn’t know about dwarves. But regardless, she could definitely understand having beliefs and traditions like that—her own Indian culture was extremely conservative when it came to things like sex and marriage. Her mother had been less than pleased when she and David moved in together before they were even engaged. Her grandmother had never found out, thankfully. That was a discussion Sona never wanted to have.

And as far as Thorin was concerned… he was trying to unite multiple clans of dwarves to take back a mountain after centuries of being gone. It was bad enough that his One was of men. But the fact that he wanted her to be queen as well?

Sona sighed.

No, he could not afford to “color outside the lines” here.

But that brought her back to the question… marriage? Were she and Thorin there yet? Could they not just enjoy the newness of all this and the simple joy of just being together?

She finally sat up, determined to do as Dwalin advised and just take this “one day at a time.”

And enjoy myself, dammit!

She climbed out of bed, shivering as the cold autumn air hit her bare skin, and quickly dressed; donning a kurta, leggings, and boots Arwen had given her. She also pulled out her old teal colored yoga sweater, wanting an additional warming layer, and zipped it up to her neck. After making sure her trunks were packed—Beth had kindly offered to keep them for her until their quest was done (for Sona certainly did not need two trunks worth of fancy saris to face a dragon)—she pulled out a thick brown and green fur lined wool cloak that Liliandil had gifted her. It would be so much more practical than the elegant red velvet one.

Her hair, as usual, was a mess, so she grabbed her brush, intending to find Bifur for her daily braid, when she froze in her doorway.

The house was dead quiet.

They wouldn’t…

She quickly walked down the hall peering inside of each open door.

Every room was empty. Empty of dwarves. Empty of personal belongings. Beds were made and fires were out.

It was as though no one had even been there.

He wouldn’t…

But as she looked out the window to the gray skies ringing the mountain that housed a dragon…

“I could stop you.”

“But you won’t.”

“No…” Her heart rate picked up. “…I know he wouldn’t leave me behind.” She blinked back hot tears. No.

Sona raced down the stairs and was about to rush out the front door when Bofur, Dori, and Ori walked in, arms laden with packages.

“Good morning, my lady!” Bofur tipped his hat as he walked by.

“My lady.” Dori nodded his head so low it was practically a bow.

Ori just blushed and mumbled something that could have been “my lady” as he followed his brother back toward the kitchen.

“Good morning,” Sona said automatically, her heart settling down. They’re still here.

She followed them back to the dining area where she found the rest of the Company quietly eating breakfast and carrying a very animated conversation using their sign language.

“Oi, she’s finally awake!” Bofur announced as they entered, and everyone looked up, wide grins on all their faces, and the volume level immediately increased.

Sona’s eyes searched the room; looking for the face she wanted to see most—

Baknd ghelekh, Thief,” Thorin’s voice rumbled in her ear. He pressed a soft kiss against the side of her head, lips resting lightly on her hair. “Means ‘good morning’.”

Sona spun, a tingle of warmth spreading through her as her dwarf stood before her, a smile on his face.

My smile, she realized. The turn of his lips just at the corners; the way his cheeks filled out subtly; his blue eyes sparkling with pleasure. She never saw him give that smile to anyone else.

Baknd ghelekh, Jaanu.” Sona flashed him a full smile, her heart easing. He was here. Of course he’s here, idiot. You knew he wouldn’t leave you. That… and she could feel him. Somehow.

That was certainly something she wanted to talk to him about. That and the dreams and what it all meant.

But after the mountain.

Dwalin cleared his throat, and Sona realized she and Thorin were still staring at each other. She blushed and turned away, seeking out Bifur.

Seeming to understand what she wanted—though she supposed it was obvious since she was holding her hairbrush—Bifur quickly downed the last bite of his breakfast, hopped off the bench and motioned for her to follow him.

Once they were in the living room and she was settled on the floor before his chair, Bifur waved away her brush, and instead held out a beautifully carved comb. She took it, her fingers running along the smooth finish of the maple, up to the intricately carved bird-taking wing on the end of it.

“It’s a songbird.”

Sona looked up to see Thorin leaned against the doorway, arms and legs crossed casually looking quite relaxed—the most relaxed she’d ever seen him—as he watched the scene unfold with the same smile—her smile—from before.

“He's been carving it some time now, for you, though he was delayed...” Thorin’s eyes grew distant, as though recalling their time in Thranduil’s dungeons. “... until Tauriel returned the comb along with his tools. Once Liliandil learned he intended this as a gift for you, she insisted all the more.”

“For me?” Sona looked over her shoulder at Bifur who smiled broadly. “Âkmînruk zu, Bifur. I can’t believe you made this for me. It’s exquisite.” She saw Thorin signing Bifur out of the corner of her eye, then she bit her lower lip in worry. “But… I don’t have anything in return for you. I’m so sorry.”

Bifur replied in Khuzdûl then plucked the comb from her hands and began working the knots out of her hair.

“He says your friendship is gift enough.” Thorin’s smile broadened as he leaned against the doorframe, and Sona got the distinct impression that perhaps Bifur hadn’t exactly phrased it quite like that.

I really need to learn Khuzdûl, she thought as she closed her eyes while Bifur began to plait her hair. I wonder… I wonder how it would be to have Thorin braid my hair…


 

            The Master saw them all off and a band made up of horns played for their departure as Bard took them across the lake in his barge.

            “Were those your children from before? The two girls and the boy you were speaking to?” Sona asked Bard as he steered them across the water toward the mountain. The man—who had been so amiable and pleasant to talk to when she’d first met him—merely nodded his head, eyes fixed on the mountain before them.

            Sona tried to engage him in conversation a few more times, feeling badly over their disagreement regarding the mountain (and also certain the Master made Bard take the Company as punishment for speaking out against him), but to no avail. Oh, he answered every question she asked with either a nod or short phrases—he was not blatantly rude—and through it she learned the names of his children, and that sadly, he was a widower… but he clearly did not want to speak to her.

            It made her sad, because she thought they could have been friends, particularly given their shared experiences of losing a beloved spouse… but he was clearly not interested in making friends with someone who was a part of this Company.

            He feared what the dragon would do to his city, he worried the Company would cause it… and Sona did not, no, could not, blame him for that.

            For how could he know what she had planned?


 

            Sona took in the scenery around her as they approached an overlook before the Lonely Mountain. A burnt out ruin of a city was before her, and she swallowed a lump building in her throat. Sasha, in an increasingly rare separation from Fíli, stood beside Sona, a low whine coming from her.

            “I know, girl.” Sona patted the lab’s head gently.

“This was once the city of Dale.” Balin stopped beside her, his eyes sad, as if remembering the horrors that happened here. “Now it is a ruin. The Desolation of Smaug.”

No. I will not let this happen again.

Come,” Thorin called over his shoulder as he kept moving. “We must find the hidden door into the mountain before it sets tomorrow. This way.”

The fact that he reminded them of something they all very well knew at this point let Sona know just how stressed and worried Thorin was. And as she looked out at just how much land and mountain there was to search, she did not blame him.

Bofur paused, nose scrunching and eyes squinting as he looked around. “I thought Gandalf said we were to meet him here.”

Thorin did not answer, just continued walking. The wizard wasn’t here, and they had no time. A part of Sona worried for her gray friend, but… he was also very powerful.

He’ll be fine.

Giving Bofur a shrug, she turned and followed Thorin, with Sasha trotting at her heels.


 

            They made good time and finally stopped for the night a good bit up the mountain. Camp was made quickly and efficiently, for after their months of traveling they worked seamlessly together. After observing for a few moments Tauriel eased her way in, helping out where she could, making Sona smile.

            Yes, she fits in nicely.

            While they worked, Sona could hear Kíli telling Tauriel the story of the Thief and the Princess of old, who had a wizard helping him by granting him three wishes, and even sang little bits of the songs with his sweet voice. The elleth was clearly delighted by the story, and Sona’s smile broadened.

            The rest of the company had mixed reactions to those two. Fíli was over the moon for his brother. Most of the others, like Nori, were simply confused by his choice of an elf, but didn’t much care beyond that. And a couple, like Dwalin and Gloin, clearly were not fond of Tauriel at all because of her race, but kept their mouths shut and treated her with the utmost politeness and courtesy.

            For it was clear to them all that she was Kíli’s One… even if he hadn’t decided yet.

            She has no idea what’s coming, Sona chuckled, and then let her gaze wander to her Jannu. He was smiling back at her as he stood up from setting down his bedroll and her sleeping bag.

            Next to each other.

            Her eyes widened.

            True, nothing was going to happen sleeping in full view of the others, but he had just made a pretty public pronouncement about… things.

            She blinked, and then smiled, a sense of peace washing over her.

            It’s time.

            Sona walked to her pack and, using her body to shield what she was doing, carefully opened David’s urn, pulling out the object she’d placed inside it after her conversation with Dwalin the night prior. Though it was more than a little odd to use David’s urn for this purpose, Sona knew that 1) he would not have minded, and Sona felt quite strongly that if he had some way of knowing what was going on in whatever life he had been re-born to, he would have been incredibly supportive of… everything, and 2) it was the only way the flowers would not get crushed.

            “Dhanyavaad, my love.” She ran her fingertips lightly across David’s name, a bittersweet smile flitting across her lips, and then stood.

            Sona walked toward Thorin, the simple sprig of lavender held gently between her fingers at her side. At first no one paid her any mind, but then Ori saw her, did a double take, and then elbowed Nori, who in turn smacked Dori on the shoulder, and, like a chain reaction, the entire Company quieted and fixed their gazes on her and Thorin.

            As for the Company leader, upon sensing the sudden stilling of his dwarves, he looked up, eyes meeting Sona’s. He began to smile at her again, his blue eyes sparkling; taking her entire form in, until they settled on her hand… he froze.

            She was before him now and held the flowers toward him.

            This time Thorin did not hesitate and immediately took the lavender, his fingers grazing against Sona’s warmly.

            She smiled, and he blinked, seemingly somehow still dumbfounded by it all. Sona turned and walked up the mountain path, away from the others, knowing Thorin would follow.

            She did not go far—just enough to give them some modicum of privacy. She stood on the edge of the path, as it dropped sharply to the switchback below. A view of the Greenwood was before her, with the Misty Mountains beyond that.

            We have come so far.

            Thorin stood beside her, slipping his hand into hers, and she gave it a quick squeeze before facing him.

            Her stomach flip-flopped as she looked at him, blue eyes cautiously excited, hair blown back by the breeze, her smile grazing his lips…

            Sona reached for the hair on the right side of his head and began plaiting another braid.

            A courtship braid.

            At Thorin’s sudden intake of breath, her fingers stilled, and she met his gaze… Is this okay? Is this what you want?

            “You want this?” he asked, eyes guarded.

            A relieved smile blossomed across her face. He wants this.

            “You?” She resumed braiding. “Yes.”

            When she neared the end she used one of her elastics to bind the braid, for she needed both of her hands free in order to work her gold name ring off her pinky finger.

            She didn’t have the traditional dwarven beads with name runes on them typically exchanged during courtship… but her childhood ring would more than suffice.

            No… it’s perfect. It’s so us. Different… and yet meaning the same in the end.

            And somehow it set her heart at ease… her parent’s gift to her in Thorin’s hair where she could always see it… yes, that was perfect.

            She slid the ring over the end of the braid and up, over top of the elastic, focusing on what she was doing, amazed that her hands weren’t shaking. Once the ring was secure and she was certain it was not going anywhere, she set both her hands on Thorin’s shoulders and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. She took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of him.

            Yes.

            “Asti,” he murmured under his breath when she finally pulled back.

            Eyes never leaving his, Sona pulled Bifur’s braid over her shoulder and proceeded to unbind it until she shook her entire waist length dark mass out behind her.

            Thorin’s gaze followed the movement of her hands and the way her hair flowed as it came out of the braid until it was finished. Then she stood before him, waiting… not so patiently.

            Smiling, he tucked the lavender she’d given him into his belt, before reaching toward the right side of her head, and carefully carded his fingers through her long tresses there.

            She closed her eyes, savoring the feel of his fingertips as they rasped against her skin before gently plaiting a matching courtship braid into her hair.

            Opening her eyes just in time, she watched as he removed the rune-covered bead she’d returned to him the previous morning from his own hair and used it to bind the end of her braid. He settled his hands firmly on her shoulders, and then leaned forward to press a warm kiss on her forehead.

            Sona sighed as a wave of pure joy and peace washed over, and her arms came up to encircle him, pulling him close.

            “Mine, all mine,” she murmured against his ear.

            His arms dropped from her shoulders to wrap around her just as tightly as she held him.

            “Always, Biriz Akmâth-amē,” he breathed against her hair. “Always.”


 

A/N: Just two chapters left in this part! Then I'll take a short break before we move onto the 3rd and final part of the story. Thanks for all the comments and kudos and love!

Chapter Text

 

You know that dreams, they're for those who sleep

Life is for us to keep

And if I chose the one I'd like to help me through

I'd like to make it with you

            -Bread


 

            They returned to the camp hand in hand, with fingers intertwined, and absolutely no one in the Company was surprised to see Sona and Thorin sporting courtship braids.

            Yet somehow sacks of gold were still tossed around.

            “Fíli!” Sona was appalled to see him hand gold over to a delighted Bofur once again.

            “You came back far sooner than I thought you would, ‘N’amad.” The blonde dwarf’s grin nearly split his face, and Sona felt her face flush at the implication… though she was grateful for Fíli’s constant faith in her.

            She gave Thorin a sidelong glance as he chuckled and shook his head at his nephew.

            They joined the Company and Bombur handed them bowls of stew along with warm seedy rolls. Sitting next to each other, Sona made sure to scoot in as close to Thorin as she could without hampering their eating, but still ensuring their hips and legs were touching. A smile tugged at the corners of Thorin’s lips, though he said nothing.

            “What about a story, my lady?” Nori asked from the other side of the cook fire.

            Tauriel immediately perked up. “Yes, do you know more like the one about the Thief and the Princess?”

            “A whole new woooooooooor—” Dwalin cut off as Thorin jabbed him in the ribs with a sharp elbow. Sona covered a giggle with her hand before composing herself and turning toward the elleth.

            “Well… there is one that was my favorite as a child...” She pulled her lower lip between her teeth. “I later found out as an adult how historically inaccurate…” She cocked her head to the side looking at Kíli and Tauriel as they sat together. “Actually, it doesn’t matter… it’s a lovely story.” And very timely.

            And so she proceeded to tell them the Disney version of Pocahontas, complete with songs (Tauriel was thrilled with “Colors of the Wind”). Dwalin did not seem to appreciate this story nearly as much as the last few (he didn’t scowl or anything, though he kept his expression carefully neutral, which was enough of a giveaway, given his previous delight in her stories)—though Sona supposed she was possibly a little heavy handed with the themes of two very different groups of people at odds/not liking each other, and a couple falling in love despite that.

            Thorin’s arm came around her waist and settled on her hip while she spun the tale and she snuggled closer into his side. When Sona neared the end and told how Pocahontas saved John Smith’s life by laying her head atop his to block her father’s killing blows, Thorin’s fingers on her side tightened briefly. She paused to look at him, and he was stricken—eyes wide and lips parted slightly as he sucked in a quick breath.

            But why is he—Oh. She recalled how she’d saved him from the orc, and briefly brushed the back of her fingers across his cheek to reassure him. I’m here. I’m okay.

            She ended the tale, and they all drifted off to their respective bedrolls, settling in for the night, with Bifur taking first watch.

            As Sona crawled into her sleeping bag and turned to face a reclining, Thorin, she smiled. Her name ring flashed in his hair as he lay down, pillowing his head in arms, and Sona realized she’d never get tired of this view.

            He smiled back at her, though she detected a hint of worry in his eyes—the dragon of course—but she would not think about that now. Instead she reached across and took his hand in hers. His thumb caressed her skin and she felt her eyes droop closed to the rhythmic pattern he traced as the heady scent of cardamom filled her senses and a chorus of dwarf snores lulled her to sleep.


 

            “Would you…” Sona fidgeted, hopping from one foot to the other as she stood before Thorin, while everyone else either finished their breakfast or busied themselves with packing up. She felt foolish about her nervousness. There’s no way he says no to this.

            He set aside the porridge he’d been eating and gave Sona his full attention.

            She blew out a breath and started again. “Would you…mind… you know…” Sona waved her new comb and an elastic at him and Thorin’s mouth split into the widest smile she’d ever seen on his face.

            She just stared, completely enraptured by that smile, and belatedly closed her mouth. Get it together, Sona.

            “I’d be honored.” He parted his legs so Sona could sit between them; she tried not to focus on that aspect of things too much. She settled in, back against the log he sat atop, anticipation and excitement coursing through her as he leaned forward. If this was anything like how it had felt to have him put the courting braid in…

            His hands plunged into her thick hair, and she closed her eyes with an audible sigh as his callused fingertips skimmed along her scalp, carding through her hair.

        This is better. This is SO. MUCH. BETTER.

        He did not linger, both to Sona’s relief and regret.

        I see why this is usually done in private…

        Sona had no idea how sensual and, well, quite honestly, bordering on arousing the entire experience would be when she asked him.

I never knew it could feel like this!

The tension surrounding them mounted and she swallowed thickly as his deft fingers made quick work of her hair, combing and parting and braiding. Unlike Bifur, who always put in a simple, though effective, Dutch braid, Sona could tell that Thorin’s braid, though just as tight and controlling of her errant strands, would be far more elaborate.

        She felt him begin on either side of her head, gently twisting and pulling, until all her hair—but for her courting braid—had been gathered and divided into five groups. He then proceeded to plait the five strands together into a wide, flat braid down her back, ignoring her elastic when he reached the end. Instead, Thorin took her courting braid and wrapped around the outside of the five strand braid, and, with some means she could not discern, used the courting braid to secure the end of the rest of her hair.

            When he finished, Thorin’s fingers traced their way up the braid until he reached her neck, where he gently pushed her braid over her shoulder. She tried to suppress a shiver of desire at his touch; she was nearly undone by him!

How can something as simple as—

Sona’s eyes flew open as the feel of a hot, open-mouthed kiss pressed just below her ear.

            “Thorin!” She loved the feel of him kissing her, but to kiss her like that in front of everyone…

            He chuckled, the rich sound washing over her, and continued to nibble his way down her neck, beard tickling her sensitive skin there, hands skimming lightly up and down her arms.

            It was only then that Sona realized they were completely alone, the camp picked up and gone around them.

            “They are not far.” Thorin’s lips hummed against her skin, leaving her feeling warm and flushed as his arms came around Sona, pulling her back against him.

            Determined to make the most of this brief gift of privacy, Sona arched her back, lengthening her neck and providing him better access. She reached up one hand, burying her fingers in his hair as she pulled him down tighter against her collarbone, where his lips and tongue were currently worshipping her skin. A hum of approval rumbled from deep in Thorin’s chest as his hands skimmed warmly across her ribs and his thumbs just grazed the underside of her breasts.

A low moan slipped from her lips and she turned her head, burying it in his hair, inhaling his spicy fresh scent deeply. Her nose grazed his ear and he shuddered, fingers flexing against her as his humming became rumbling. She nuzzled him until her lips found the sensitive skin of the shell of his ear and she kissed her way down past his bronze cuff until she reached his earlobe where she bit down gently.

            “Asti,” he groaned as he pulled her even tighter against him, digging his heavy jeweled belt into her back.

Sona grinned and released his ear. “We should probably go,” she murmured against his skin, “Or else we’ll never find the door.”

“Aye.” His voice was low and rough, as if he was barely contained. “We should.” But Thorin made no move to release her, and Sona made none to go, instead turning his head and capturing his full lips with hers.

And for a few moments it was nothing but Thorin. His scent, his touch, his taste, his—

“OI!” Dwalin called from just around the bend. “I know it doesn’t take this long to put in a bloody braid!”

Sona and Thorin broke off their kisses, and she giggled quietly as he leaned his forehead against hers, eyes bright, skin flushed, and lips swollen.

“Just finishing up, Dwalin,” Thorin rumbled, and Sona allowed him to help her to her feet. He traced his calloused fingers lightly along her collarbone and neck, and looked at her with such intensity, she almost grabbed him and began kissing anew.

But they had a door to find.

“I think I’ll have you braid my hair everyday.” Sona gave Thorin a quick wink as she straightened her clothes and patted a couple stray hairs down.

He raised an eyebrow, a smirk tugging at his lips as he held out his hand to lead her back to the Company. “I shall hold you to that.”


 

            They could not find the door.

            The sun was setting and they had scoured the mountain—or so it seemed to Sona—and they could not find the door.

            And all she could think was:

            This is my fault.

            All my fault.

            Maybe if Bilbo had been here he would have found it.

            Meanwhile Thorin and the rest of the company were growing more and more frantic until—

            “We lost the light.” Thorin’s voice was tight, barely in control. Sona reached for his hand but he stepped away before she could touch him. “No!” He glared up at the mountain, then back down to his map. “The hidden door should lie directly above us!”

His hand fell to his side, the map clutched in his fist as he turned and watched the sun slip below the horizon. “The last light of Durin’s Day…will shine upon the keyhole.” When he looked back at the Company Sona thought her heart would break. He was devastated. He wore no mask now; every emotion—from loss and anger to disappointment and sadness—played across his face for all to see. “It should be here. That’s what it says. What did we miss?”

He looked at Balin, and the white haired dwarf only shook his head.

“What did we miss, Balin?”

“We’ve lost the light. There’s no more to be done. We had but one chance…” Heaving a sigh, the older dwarf sat on a boulder, shoulders slumped, and if Sona wasn’t mistaken, near ready to cry. He had given up.

Sona blinked. No… no there was another way.

“…Lads… it’s over.”

The Company, a morose gloom hanging about them all, stood about listlessly, the life seemingly gone out of them.

None of them had foreseen this as a possible outcome.

Fíli and Kíli sat where they were right on the stony ground, looks of shock upon their faces. Ori and Nori stood on either side of Dori clutching his elbows, as the eldest brother tried to maintain a stoic façade. Dwalin sat by Balin, nudging him over on the boulder with his hip. He wouldn’t look anyone in the eye.

Gloin and Oin leaned against each other, foreheads touching. Bombur, Bofur, and Bifur held each other in a hug so tight it was as if they were trying to hold the pieces of their lives together.

Sona swallowed around a growing lump in her throat.

As for Thorin…

“No…” Sona made her way between them, over to the Company leader, who, mimicking his nephews, had sunk to the ground, map still clutched in his grip, though he did not look at it. “Thorin…”

His shoulders hunched; he did not acknowledge her.

She knelt before him and when he would not meet her gaze, she placed a hand on either side of his face, forcing him to look up at her. She gave a quick gasp at the depths defeat in his eyes.

“No, Jannu, no. This is not done.”

“Sona.” He let go of the map as his hands came up to wrap around her wrists and pull her hands down. She flinched; his use of her name felt almost like a gentle rebuke. “It is over. We go home.”

“This is your home.” Sona pulled against him—wanting to free to touch him—and he immediately released her. “Grump-muffin, have you forgotten…” She placed her hands on his broad shoulders, fingers burying into the fur there and leaned near his ear, dropping her voice to the lightest whisper. “…I can become invisible if I need to.”

She leaned back and his eyes widened as he realized what she was saying. She gave him a half smile. “Please tell me you at least remember where the front door is.”


 

            The entrance to Erebor was vast and looming, and despite the destruction the dragon had wrought, Sona could see what it once was.

            And what it will be again!

            The repeated knots and patterns from the Company’s weapons, beads, and clothing loomed above them on a much grander scale, as two massive dwarves carved straight from the mountain guarded the entrance.

            Though getting Thorin to lead her there had not been easy. Sona had ended up informing him she would just go looking for it on her own, and unless he wanted her wandering this area alone…

            His pace had slowed and his feet had almost dragged the closer they got to the main gate. Sona knew he did not approve of her choice. She knew that he didn’t want her anywhere near Erebor.

            But Sona also knew Thorin knew better than to try to force his will on her. And so they stood precariously on a knife’s edge…

            “I do not want this,” Thorin said from behind Sona, his voice quiet. “We can return to the Blue Mountains and—”

            Sona turned and silenced him with a quick kiss before sliding the bangles Arwen had given her of her wrist. “I know. But I want to do this and I have the means to.” She set the bangles inside Thorin’s grasp. “I can find the Arkenstone without waking the dragon. I know I can.”

He sighed, fingers closing around the bangles, and she knew that was as close to an affirmation from Thorin as she would get. Sona turned to leave when his hand shot out wrapping around her wrist, holding her within his steel grasp.

“What—”

Thorin pulled her into his arms and laid a searing kiss on her lips. Sona flung her arms around his neck and tried to pour every bit of feeling she had for him into that kiss. He broke it off suddenly and leaned his forehead against hers, cradling the back of her head with one hand tenderly, while he rested the other on her fluttering heart.

“Promise you won’t follow me,” Sona breathed as she tangled her fingers in his hair.

He shook his head, and she tightened her hold on his hair. “Promise me!”

“Come back to me, Biriz Akmâth'ulê.” He kissed her tenderly on each eyelid and Sona sighed. She could not promise that.

Amrâlimê,” he said against her forehead as he placed a one more kiss there.

Though Sona had never heard that before, she knew in her heart what he’d just told her. She heaved a shuddering breath, nearly losing the ability to walk away. She kissed him one last time, murmuring, “I know,” against his lips, before turning and walking toward the ruined entrance to Erebor.


 

            As Sona walked inside the darkened halls of the Lonely Mountain, she could see loveliness and majesty beneath the centuries of dirt and destruction by the dragon. Her heart ached to see it in shambles… and yet, it was still so strong. Despite a dragon it still stood, sweeping overhead, open and not at all confining as she once wondered it might feel like.

            Her hand patted the waistband of her leggings ensuring the Ring was still safely ensconced there, though she made no move to put it on.

            After she’d kicked Gollum when he’d nearly taken it from her, and felt it try to leach into and darken her spirit every time she had to touch or look at it, she vowed to never use it.

            Not once.

            And she’d never had to.

            She did not intend to change that now.

            She didn’t lie when she told Thorin she could find the Arkenstone without waking the dragon… for she had no doubt that she could. It was just that… she never said that she would.

            She counted her lucky stars that what she had planned was so ridiculous and insane that it had never crossed Thorin’s mind that she would try this instead…

            Otherwise he probably would have tied me up and sat on me to insure I didn’t go in the mountain.

            Smiling grimly Sona walked toward the loud sounds of breathing, her legs and hands shaking at the obvious enormity of the creature that was making that sound.

            “Time to wake a dragon.”


A/N: Couple notes...

1- Only one more chapter left in part 2! And alas, you will likely have to wait 2 weeks for it as my Beta, YMR, is currently on a trip this weekend (and it's actually the 1 year anniversary of me asking YMR to be my Beta for this -- we had no idea it would turn into what it did!), and I will be on a trip next weekend... so look for it around the 12th. If I can get it to you sooner, I will.

2- YOU GUYS LOOK AT THIS AMAZING ART SerendipitousSong DID OF SONA! She's so cute and perfect and sassy! (please excuse me while I continue to freak out). 

Sona by Deepfried-Shortpeople on Tumblr

 

Chapter Text

 

Oh, misty eye of the mountain below

Keep careful watch of my brothers' souls

And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke

Keep watching over Durin's sons

            -I See Fire, Ed Sheeran


 

            “Holy crap!” Sona stared open mouthed at the treasure horde. It was literally more wealth and gold than she could have possibly imagined. “I think this could pay off the American deficit and then some.” She swallowed hard as she looked around the multiple football fields worth of gold and jewels heaped about like glittering sand dunes. “And I was expected to find one rock in all this?”

            She blinked still trying to wrap her mind around just how much wealth was before her. “Like… how does this much gold even exist?”

            Then she realized she was stalling. She was about to take a step down gingerly into the gold, then thought better of it.

            I’d slip and fall and probably break my neck or something. Especially given how much her legs were still currently shaking.

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Nope, Not helping. Not one bit.

She blew out a breath and then clenching her hands by her side took another deep breath and yelled:

            “HELLO! WAKEY WAKEY. I KNOW YOU’RE HERE, SMAUG!”

            I’m insane, I have a death wish, I’m nuts, I’m—

            The sound of coins rattling caught her attention and she gulped. Then they stopped.

            “What?” She leaned forward looking around, wondering if she’d misjudged. Perhaps—

            A fountain of gold exploded before her and suddenly a red dragon snout bigger than she was tall was only feet away. Sona sucked in a breath, legs frozen in place, as her body trembled in fear.

            “What’s this?” An impossibly deep voice, smooth as caramel, rumbled from deep within the dragon’s belly. His putrid breath washed over Sona, nearly blowing her over. “A woman wakes me… that is… unexpected.”

            He turned his head massive gold eye, bigger than Sona’s head, peering boldly at her. It was slit down the center like a cat’s only far more alien… and cunning.

            There was a vast amount of intelligence behind those eyes, and Sona could only hope her gamble paid true.

            “Tell me, for I am curious, why do you wake me, Thief?”

            “Don’t call me that.” The words were out before Sona could recall them and she snapped her mouth shut.

            The dragon laughed, rich and low, sending coins scattering down the hills of gold in small avalanches. “You are cheeky, woman. I think I shall enjoy playing with my food a bit.” He reared back, his neck and belly burning brightly as he, Sona could only assume, prepared his dragon fire. “I’ll even give you a head start to make this more fun. For me.”

            “If you eat me, you’ll die.” Sona stared at him, not moving. That sounded far braver than it actually was—she doubted her legs would work right now.

            Smaug paused, then lowered his head back to eye level, much to Sona’s both relief and horror. “You are quite certain of that.” He narrowed his eye as he peered closely of that. “How? Are you poisonous?” He turned his head, and fixed his other eye on Sona, even closer than the last. “Hmmm, there is something about you… yes. Something you carry.” He blinked his eye, and Sona clenched her trembling hands. “Something made of gold… but far more…”

            “Precious,” Sona finished, surprised her voice remained strong. “You know what I have. And you’re too big to find it on me, and if you eat me he will stop at nothing to retrieve it.” She leaned forward staring him right in the eye. “And he will figure it out eventually. Could take a few decades… but you’ll die, just as surely as any other creature in Middle Earth who gets in his way.”

            The dragon reared back again, hissing like the winged lizard it was. “Then why have you come? To steal from me—”

            “To talk to you.”

            This seemed to surprise him, and he just stared at her blinking.

            “What is your name?”

            “Sona. And you’re Smaug.” She crossed her arms over her chest and heaved a theatrical sigh that actually served to cover a steadily rising panic welling in her gut. “Now that the pleasantries are over and we are agreed that neither one of us would like to die today can we please move on?”

            Smaug sat on his haunches like a dog and chuckled, letting loose little puffs of smoke. “You are a bold one.”

            “I just don’t like killing or death. And if I stole from you, that would definitely happen.”

            “Yesss it would!” He nearly roared. “My teeth are swords, my claws are spears. My wings are a hurricane! I kill where I wish, when I wish. My armor is iron. No blade can pierce me!”

            Sona focused on his chest, spotting a dark patch were one scale was missing. “And yet… you still have a weak spot. You can be killed.”

            He surged forward and Sona held her ground. Smaug could still kill her, yes, but at least she knew he wouldn’t eat her.

            “A darkness is coming.” She took short breaths, trying to remain calm as his snout, bearing rows of sharp teeth stopped inches from her. “You know it. He has probably already tried to enlist you on his side.”

            “I’m on no one’s side but my own,” Smaug snapped, drawing back a few feet. “Why don’t you fear me?”

            “Are you kidding?” Sona gave a strangled laugh. “I’m terrified of you. But I’m more scared of Sauron.”

            The dragon hissed when she spoke the dark lord’s name.

            “And you should be too.” She opened her arms toward the gold beneath the dragon. “What good is all this if you’re just going to die?”

            “Whaaaat?”

            “I know a thing or two about the future of Arda, Smaug, and let me tell you, there is no version of this story where you have a happily ever after.”

            He leaned in again, this time smelling her carefully while Sona forced herself not to shudder over his proximity, and then his mouth turned up at the corners. “You nearly had me convinced… Where are your dwarf friends hiding?”

            “They’re not hiding.” Sona narrowed her eyes. “They’re waiting for me and probably wondering why I haven’t returned yet. You see, I wasn’t supposed to wake you.”

            “I knew it!” His smile broadened. “It’s Oakenshield. That filthy dwarvish usurper! He sent you in here to steal the Arkenstone—wait, did you say you weren’t supposed to wake me?”

            Sona shook her head in a big slow movement so the dragon could see it.

            “Then why did you?” He was truly perplexed.

            “I told you.” Sona felt sweat beading on her brow. At least he was still talking and not rampaging after the Company outside. “I don’t like killing and death. All lives, even yours, are precious.”

            Smaug narrowed his eyes, disbelieving. “The King Under the Mountain is dead. I took his throne; I ate his people like a wolf among sheep.” He blinked as he looked at her with one luminous eye. “Is my life still precious to you?”

            “Yes,” she answered without hesitation. “As is every person outside this mountain that live in fear of your devastation.”

            “And what is to prevent me from razing them down to their very bones right now?” He raised his powerful wings as if to fly off.

            “Your sense of self preservation.”

            Smaug paused. “I’m listening.”

            “If you leave this mountain tonight and attack, you will die with utmost certainty.”

            He blew smoke out of his nose and flicked a gold chalice with one claw. “And why should I believe you?”

            “Why should you not?” She leaned forward, eyes narrowing. “It would have been so much easier for me to sneak in here invisible and steal the Arkenstone so Thorin could rally the seven clans of dwarves and take back this mountain.” She pointed outside, in a jabbing motion. “Or better yet, come up here with a black arrow and kill you while you sleep.” Sona crossed her arms again. “Why would I ever wake you if I wasn’t certain your life was in danger?”

            Smaug reared back again, eyes staring at her unblinkingly, as he pondered her words.

            “How do you know this?”

            Sona laughed again. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

            “Try me.”

            “Fine,” she sighed. Time to tell this a third time. “Have it your way.” She pulled her braid—Thorin’s braid—over her shoulder and gripped it tightly. “I come from a future time where this is all history. I know the fate of Arda and I know what’s coming.” She narrowed her eyes. “And so do you. So go ahead, stay here, sleep in your horde of gold, but some day he will come for you. Some day he will demand your allegiance. Some day you will be forced to choose if you would rather live as Sauron’s slave or die free.”

            “And just what do you propose I do, Sona of the Future?” the dragon spat.

            “Leave.” Her fingers lingered on Thorin’s bead, drawing strength from the cool metal. “Fly far away to the north, as far away from the darkness as you can get, the other side of the world if you can manage it. Maybe find a Mrs. Smaug and hatch a bunch of eggs and teach little baby dragons how to barbecue a deer for dinner. But leave and never come back.” She dropped her hands. “It’s your only chance of survival.”

            The dragon hissed and began shuffling back and forth across his horde of gold, pausing on occasion to roll in it and caress it with his claws and wings and even his tongue.

            Gross.

            And then suddenly he was before her, seething. “I should eat you anyway. I should torch every last one of your precious dwarves outside and then raze the town before I fly north. I should—”

            He froze at Sona’s smile.

“You believe me.”

            “You are still cheeky, woman.”

            Sona shrugged, feigning bravado she certainly did not feel. “If you were going to kill me, I think you’d have done it by now.”

            “I’ve never met someone like you.” He sneered. “You truly hate death and violence… you would even sacrifice yourself to save a dragon.”

            “I’d certainly prefer not to sacrifice myself, if it’s all the same to you.” She bit her lip. “But yes.”

            “Never forget, this gold, this horde is mine.” He loomed over her, the furnace in his belly glowing. “I can come back and take it any time I want, any time I please!”

            “Yes, you most certainly can.” Sona nodded. “If you don’t mind the consequence of that choice.”

            “Bah! You are much too sure of yourself.”

            Sona did not answer.

            The dragon smiled one more time before flicking an object at her with his tail. “My parting gift to you, since you saw fit to ‘save my life’.”

            A brilliant white stone with a soft crystalline blue light emanating from it clattered at her feet.

            The Arkenstone! There was no mistaking it.

            “Give it to Oakenshield with my regards.” Suddenly the wind inside the cavern was whirling like a hurricane was coming as Smaug beat his wings, rising into the air. “I hope you enjoy watching it destroy him.” He extended a claw and scooped up a solitary gold cup. “Watch it corrupt his heart and drive him mad. Like it did his grandfather.”

            And then with a roar, he was gone.

            Sona bent down and picked up the Arkenstone, staring at it all the while.

            “You’re nearly as bad as the Ring, you know.” Then, shaking her head, she tucked the stone into the inner pocket of her cloak and ran back the way she came, desperate to ensure Thorin and the others were all right.


 

            “Sona!” Thorin’s echoing voice reached her ears and she rounded the last of the pillars. There he was, running toward her. There they all were—the entire company and Sasha—whole and unhurt. She could hardly believe her eyes... surely Smaug had seen them. And yet…

            Thorin was pulling her into his arms, hands moving over her as if to ensure she was actually there. “I heard the Dragon roar, felt his power shake the Mountain, and I feared for you.”

            Sona leaned her forehead against his, closing her eyes. “It takes more than a dragon to kill your Thief.” Then she pulled back, eyes wide as she looked toward the exit Smaug had cut for himself. “I still can’t believe it worked.”

            “What worked?”

            Sona bit her lip, thinking. She needed proof. Needed to see for herself that the dragon had actually left the mountain. She pulled away from Thorin’s arms and trotted to the ruined entrance to Erebor and then up the battlements. There in the distance, flying north was Smaug, the greatest calamity of the Third Age, as he abandoned his golden horde and fled from an evil greater even he.

            “He’s really gone.” Sona blinked, clutching at the stone before her. “Holy shit it worked!”

            “What worked, Thief?” Thorin joined her at the rocky outcropping, and Sona could see the rest of the Company gathering around them, mouths hanging open as they stared from Sona to the shrinking dragon.

            “I… I convinced him to go by betting that his sense of self preservation was greater than his desire for gold.”

            “You did what?” Thorin and the rest of the Company were completely focused on her now. Thorin’s eyes were blazing. “You woke him… on purpose?”

            Sona nodded, but before Thorin could say whatever chastising words he surely wanted to heap on her, she shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it?”

            “That’s not the point!” His voice was heavy with growing anger and disbelief.

            “It was the only way!” She shook her head, turning away. “If I’d taken the Arkenstone, you would have come here with your seven armies and legions of dwarves would have died, as would the dragon.” She heaved a heavy sigh. “I couldn’t let that happen.”

            “You could have burned for this… What then?” Thorin pulled her back into his arms, hugging her tightly to him.

            “It was worth the risk,” she mumbled against the fur of his coat.

            “No!” He nearly shouted, then his breath hitched as he held her tighter, lips moving against her hair. “Never Asti. Never.”

            “Can we not talk about this now and just be glad he’s gone and hope he doesn’t come back?”

            Lowering his voice so only she could hear, Thorin rumbled against her ear: “For now. But we are not done here.”

            She nodded then pulled away. “Also, I have something for you.”

            Thorin blinked his eyes in confusion and the others stared from one to the other.

            Sona reached inside her cloak, choosing to ignore the dragon’s words. I trust Thorin. He resisted the Ring. This can’t even come close to that.

            Just before she drew forth the stone Thorin’s eyes widened as he realized what it was she carried.

            And then there, before the ruined gates of Erebor, Sona gave the King Under the Mountain the Arkenstone.

            A stunned silence followed as Thorin cradled the fist-sized stone gingerly in his hands. He kept looking from the stone to Sona and then back again as a look of complete wonder and amazement washed over his face.

And then a cheer from Kíli, followed by Bofur, then soon the rest went up—Sasha even howled and barked.

Sona’s heart soared.

            Everything’s going to be all right.

            She still didn’t know what she was going to do about her family, about going back home, about Thorin… other than knowing the very idea of leaving him was physically painful. But marriage? Kids? Her eyes fixed on the vast interior of the kingdom behind her beloved, and she gulped.

            Queen?

            “What’s that?” Ori’s brows were furrowed in consternation as he pointed below them in the direction of Lake-town.

            “What’s what, Master Ori?” Tauriel followed his gaze and then sucked in a breath. “Oh no!”

            Sona whirled, crowding the edge of the ledge with the rest of the Company, where they watched in horror as one by one, bright orange flames lit off and then licked upward toward the night sky.

            Lake-town burned… and not from dragon fire.

 


 

*To be Concluded in Part 3*


 

A/N: Nooooo I'm not starting a new story, I'll keep posting here when I'm ready. Part 3 is completely written, so never fear there, it just takes a lot of time to get through the edits of every chapter as YMR and I want to make certain each one is perfect. I'm going to be taking a  little break for a bit (just a couple weeks) before I begin posting part 3. Though who knows... my birthday is nearing, and perhaps I'll celebrate Hobbit style & give all of you a gift...

Thank you for all the comments, kudos, and love! <3

Chapter Text

 

Sorin3


A/N: Happy Independence Day to my American readers! Happy Ungrateful/Treasonous Colonies Day to my British readers! HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY FOR THIS STORY and PART 3 POST DAY to everyone else!

Thank you for all the comments & kudos. Y'all are the BEST!


 

Chapter 1: Treasure

Treasure, that is what you are

Honey, you're my golden star

You know you can make my wish come true

If you let me treasure you

-Treasure, Bruno Mars


 

            “Oh no!” Sona’s heart raced as she looked down on the burning city of Lake-town. “Those poor people!” But what could they do? They were so far away!

Tauriel was already clambering down the rampart, with the elegant grace that only an elf could muster.

            “Wait, Tauriel!” Kíli was hot on her heels.

“Kíli!” Dwalin reached for him, but there was no stopping the young dwarf. Just as Fíli turned to follow his brother Thorin’s hand shot out and wrapped around the blonde dwarf’s wrist.

            “Word will spread quickly that the dragon has flown.” He glanced briefly at Sona, a spark of anger and awe there, then he focused back on his nephew. “We need to defend our home.” Thorin’s eyes were gentle; he clearly appreciated his nephew’s desire to help the people of Lake-town, but, as much as it pained Sona to think it, she agreed with him. There were only fifteen of them after all—well, thirteen now that Kíli and Tauriel had left—and a whole lot of undefended dwarf kingdom behind them.

No one questioned Kíli following the elleth, though some, like Dwalin, were clearly put out over it.

“Your place is here, Fíli,” Thorin finished.

            “My place is with my brother.” The younger dwarf tried to jerk his wrist from Thorin’s grasp, but Sona knew from personal experience that was a useless endeavor. And as much as Sona agreed with Thorin… she also saw the pain in Fíli’s eyes as he looked behind him toward the rapidly distancing brown head of his little brother.

Sona placed a gentle hand on Thorin’s arm and his eyes immediately fixed on her. She raised her eyebrows briefly and darted her gaze toward Kíli and Tauriel before meeting Thorin’s electric blue eyes again.

            He let out a quiet sigh and released Fíli. The blonde dwarf looked back long enough to see his uncle give an almost imperceptible nod toward Kíli and flash a sign with his fingers. Then Fíli was gone with Sasha hot on his heels. Sona didn’t even bother trying to stop the Labrador.

            “Âkmînruk zu,” she murmured so only Thorin could hear.

            “Hmmm.” He flashed her a sidelong look. “Tomorrow will pass before they reach Lake-town. Townsfolk should have the fires out by then.” He crossed his arms over his chest, grumbling his next words under his breath. “I wager the Master himself set the town ablaze, or his weasel.”

            “Some help is better than none. It was the right thing to do.” Sona stepped closer and took his hand in hers, interlacing their fingers. “Besides, what better token of your good will than to send your nephews to help them?”

            Thorin did not answer and simply gave her hand a quick squeeze.

            “Not to mention, the lads would've pestered you endlessly if you'd barred their way,” Dwalin groused, running a battle-scarred band over his tattooed, bald pate.

            Thorin gave his friend a wan look as if to say “Et tu, Brute?”

            “Look!” It was Ori again, keen eyes as always, only this time he was pointing back toward the mountain’s entrance. “The ravens are returning to Erebor!”


 

            Sona and Thorin stood outside the final entryway into the treasury with the rest of the Company several lengths back from them. Thorin had stopped abruptly, pulling Sona, whose hand he still held, back beside him. Initially she’d wondered if he was just trying to savor the moment before they went in to reclaim his people’s lost heritage… except for the worried look on his face.

            It wasn’t obvious, and Sona could only see it because she had become so practiced at reading even the slightest of his facial expressions…

            …He doubted himself.

            The gold sickness. Of course. How could she be so insensitive?

            She gave his hand a gentle squeeze and sent a soft smile his way. I have faith in you.

            “You are not your grandfather,” she murmured.

            He shot her a brittle smile, but then let out a slow breath before releasing her hand and stepping through the doorway…

            …and promptly froze once again.

            Sona really couldn’t blame him, or any of the other gasping, shocked dwarves coming up behind them.

            It really was rather a lot of gold.

            Even though she’d just been in there, not an hour past, dealing with the dragon, she still felt her breath catch. It was overwhelming. Acres and acres of gold.

            “No memory can compare.” Thorin’s voice was rough with emotion. “Our people will never be homeless or hungry again.” The words were forceful, a pledge if Sona had ever heard one… and she got the distinct impression that when he said our people he included her. As in her beside him, as the queen.

She gulped.

Thorin turned, a wide smile on his face, beaming at the entire Company. “We have done it!” He moved through them, gripping a shoulder here, an arm there, as he thanked each and every member of the Company for their unique contribution to their sacred quest.

And then he stopped before Sona, smile softening.

“Asti.” He cupped her face with his hands and brushed his thumbs along her cheeks as he leaned his forehead against hers. “I'm still angry you risked yourself by purposely waking the Dragon.”

“You’re welcome.” Sona’s eyes fluttered closed as Thorin placed a light kiss on the tip of her nose, letting her know that he was not all that angry. Upset and unhappy, yes. Angry, no.

“Come, you’re spent.” He slipped his hand back in hers and led her back out toward the main hall, without even giving the gold a backward glance. “Tonight we make camp once more and then tomorrow… we claim what is ours.”


 

            Sona woke with a start, feeling empty. Her eyes felt gritty, as though she’d only been sleeping for a couple hours… and given that it was not yet light outside, she assumed it was still quite early. She looked beside her and Thorin’s bedroll was empty. In fact, it looked untouched.

            Frowning, she crawled out of her sleeping bag and looked around, keenly missing Fíli, Kíli, and Sasha’s presence. Tauriel too. She’d grown used to the elleth and considered her part of the Company now.

The other dwarves were all snoring loudly… all but Balin, who had the last watch. The white haired dwarf smiled at her and then nodded his head toward the “Hall of Kings” (or so Thorin had called it when they walked by the night before. Sona just called it the Throne Room in her head).

            And it—and everything it potentially symbolized for Sona—terrified her.

            She nodded at Balin and silently walked toward the hall, knowing that was where she would find her Thorin, more than likely brooding.

            Something is weighing on him. And it’s not the gold.

            That much was obvious. He’d clearly been glad to see the treasure trove—who wouldn’t be?—but it hadn’t immediately consumed him. Hadn’t even seemed to effect him at all really. Her hand drifted to the waistband of her leggings and felt the hard circle of the Ring in her hidden pocket there.

            Nausea washed over her and she immediately let it go.

            Not consuming like other things. She shuddered. Gandalf needs to hurry up and get here.

            “You should still be sleeping.” Thorin spoke without turning around as she neared him, despite her quiet steps. He was standing before a throne—his grandfather’s crown sitting atop the seat—staring up at it, as if it would give him the assurance he was seeking.

            “So should you.” She wrapped her arms around him from behind and set her chin on his shoulder, reveling in the spicy and fresh scent of cardamom and pine, his thick musk, and the sweet scent of tobacco coming from him. A few errant hairs of his tickled against her nose, so she reached up and swept the heavy mass aside, her fingers trailing lightly along his neck as she pushed Thorin’s hair over his other shoulder. Unable to resist, she placed a soft kiss on his now exposed neck, then another, and then another, lingering at the sensitive flesh just beneath his bearded jaw.

            “I will get no rest while you kiss me so.” Thorin groaned, low and deep, while angling his head to give her more access. “Do you with to convince me to sleep?” His voice was rough and throaty, and Sona smiled… she loved that she had this effect on him. And as it had only been two, now technically three, days since their first kiss, the novelty of it all certainly hadn’t worn off.

            I don’t think it ever will.

            “Well… I’m certainly trying to convince you to come back to bed with me,” Sona teased as she nibbled on his earlobe, then reluctantly released him and stepped beside him, sobering. “But something’s bothering you, Jaanu… so really, I came to see if I could help.”

            It was only then that Sona realized he held the Arkenstone in one hand, while the other reached for hers. She took it, and he brought her hand to his mouth, kissing her fingertips tenderly.

            “Dhanyavaad, Thief. It is nothing. You need not worry.”

            Sona looked from the Arkenstone to the throne and then back to Thorin’s worry lined face. She stepped in front of him.

            “I worry about you. That’s my job and it’s one I do gladly.” She felt a smile touch the corners of her mouth. “You worry if you’ll be a good king, the kind your people need… but you already are.” She reached up and tucked a silver streaked lock of Thorin’s hair behind his ear as his eyes finally rose to meet hers. “And I think… you also wonder if your father still lives. Which is why you won’t take up the crown currently sitting on that throne.” His eyes flicked away, so Sona leaned her forehead against his. “You’ll wear that crown when you’re ready, and not a moment before, no matter what anyone else thinks or says.”

            “My soul's bared to you, Biriz Akmâth'ulê.” A fragile smile touched his lips, even reaching his eyes, despite the worry he still carried there. “Though you’ve missed one thing…” He pressed a light kiss against her lips, and then walked to the throne, climbed atop it—careful to not disturb the crown Balin had obviously placed there for him—and then set the Arkenstone in its holder. “I'd lose that if I kept it in my pocket much longer.”

            Sona smiled, appreciating his levity, even if it was somewhat forced. His burdens weighed on him, and rightly so. The dragon was gone, yet the Lonely Mountain was far from secure, and he still had much to think and worry about.

            He then turned to her, his cares still creasing the corners of his eyes, but her smile graced his lips. “Now Thief, what is it you wish from me?”

            You. Always you. Sona’s smile broadened as she held up her comb. “If you wouldn’t mind…”

            “Yamal…” Thorin took her comb and then watched with hungry eyes as her hands unbound the five-strand braid he’d put in the day before. “…my greatest pleasure.”

            “Your greatest pleasure?” She quirked an eyebrow. “Hmmm, I’ll have to work on that…”


 

            Unfortunately, Thorin did not give Sona the opportunity, instead leading her back to the entrance of Erebor where everyone was slowly rousing and Bombur was already cooking breakfast.

            They were still far enough away from the rest of the Company as Thorin worked his clever fingers through her hair braiding and twisting, that they had a modicum of privacy, but close enough that they would certainly not get up to anything else.

It’s just as well, Sona tried to convince herself. We have a lot to do today, and plenty of time for other things later.

“So...” Sona ran a finger along the dusty stone beneath her. As long as they stayed away from the treasury it did not smell too badly in here apart from a bit of mustiness. “…what’s on the docket for today?”

“Pardon?” Thorin’s fingers never paused, and Sona focused on talking and keeping her mind off of how damn good it felt to have him working on her hair.

“Uhhh, that is to say, what are we doing today?”

“First we rebuild the door with strong rock to keep intruders out. I don't care how it looks so long as it holds. Once we've a mountain full of Dwarves, we'll carve our beauty upon it.” Seemingly happy with the crown braid he’d just plaited in her hair (and pressing a quick kiss to her temple) he then began winding the two long braids coming down her back around each other at the nape of her neck. “I’ve Bifur overseeing the door restoration and that is where most of us will work until it’s secure. But,” he picked up her courtship braid, fingers lingering on his bead at the end of it, “I've asked Bombur to start the clean up and get one of the kitchens back in order. We’ve no more need for campfire meals.” He wound her courtship braid around the bun at the back of her head, and Sona wished she could do more than just feel his finished product with her fingers. Maybe if I can find a mirror, and I do have my compact…

Thorin pulled her back against him in a tight hug, kissing her cheek before releasing her again. His hands traced along her arms as he stood, and then pulled Sona to her feet.

“What should I do? I’ve never built a wall…” She eyed Dori, who, despite his somewhat prissy demeanor rolled a massive rock toward the opening as if it weighed almost nothing. She always forgot how strong he really was. How strong they all were.

“I would be content with you at my side, singing while we worked.” Thorin brushed the back of his fingers across her cheek, and Sona reveled over how frequently he touched her now. It was like a dam had broken with that first kiss. “But I suspect you wouldn’t like that.”

“No. I want to be helpful.” She wrapped her hand around his and held it to her face for a moment longer. “But, though I pretty much hate cleaning more than just about anything else—to include giant spiders—I’ll help Bombur with the kitchen.”

Thorin chuckled as he led her back toward their waiting breakfast. “Hate’s a strong word from a pacifist.”

“Well,” she bit her lower lip and suppressed a smile as she took the cup of tea Bombur held out to her, “nobody’s perfect.”


 

A/N

And now back to our regularly scheduled posts! Expect posts to hit on the weekend (depending on my schedule it'll usually be Saturday or Sunday).

Also, I've had a few Indian readers take me up on my "If I'm messing something up please tell me" and a couple have informed me that if Sona is Hindu, she likely wouldn't have "Khan" as her middle name as it's a Muslim name. Thank you for letting me know! I researched a couple sites for the most popular Hindu names, and Khan showed up on all of them (weird), and given that Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) is pretty much my fave superhero (if you haven't read her comics PLEASE go check them out) I wanted to give her some props in my story. BUT, if it's incorrect, I'll fix it. For now, I'll leave it as is until the story is completely posted (since readers have been here all the way through for the last year & I don't want to suddenly change her name mid-stream), then go back and edit. Thanks for letting me know! 

UPDATE: I went through and edited Sona's middle name to Anand, which, according to my research, is a Hindu name that means Joy. Hopefully I got it right this time. :)

I really love hearing from my readers, so message me here, or drop me a review, or find me on tumblr at jennywren28. Happy reading!

Chapter Text

 

Just whistle while you work,

Put on the grin,

And start right in,

To whistle loud and long…

            -Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves


 

            “Just hum a merry tune…” Sona sang as she scrubbed a smooth stone counter top with hot soapy water and a coarse brush. “Hmm-mmm-m-m-m-mmm-mmmmmm…”

            “Isn’t that the song your Princess sang while cleaning the dwarves’ home in your story?” Bombur called from inside a massive oven he was sweeping out.

            “Yep.” Sona walked to the sink and emptied out her dirty water. Then she refilled the copper pot she’d appropriated with more hot water from the tap. The fact that Erebor seemed to be completely modern when it came to plumbing thoroughly delighted Sona. “I thought it was appropriate.”

            “Aye.” Bombur’s voice echoed from inside the stone chamber. “You think you could convince the forest animals to come help us clean?”

            Sona laughed as she moved to another countertop in the well-lit kitchen. Though it was deep in the mountain, through a clever series of shafts and mirrors, the room was always cheerfully lit with the outside light.

            “Well, Bombur, as I’m neither a princess nor the fairest one of all, I don’t think the forest animals will listen to me.”

            A chuckling, soot covered Bombur emerged from the oven. “There’s one dwarf who would argue that.”

            Sona didn’t even blush and merely grinned as she resumed her song and scrubbing of countertops. She’d already cleaned all the cobwebs from everywhere she could reach with the help of stepping stools and brooms, and Bombur had tackled all the stoves and ovens, leaving the two of them with a stack of dusty dishes, pots, and utensils, and then, of course, the floors.

One cheery discovery had been a fully stocked pantry with many dehydrated and canned meats, fruits, and other staples that had survived the dwarves’ long absence. Sona chocked it up to not just the dwarves’ fantastic preserving processes, but the constant temperature of the mountain. It was not cold, or even chilly, but cool, perhaps around sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit, if Sona had to guess. Bombur told her that was all to do with deep shafts into the earth’s crust that kept the mountain a consistent temperature year round, with no fluctuation despite the temperature outside be it winter snow or baking summer heat.

On the whole Sona was completely delighted by how comfortable, well organized, and, quite frankly, modern Erebor was, and told Bombur so while he washed and she dried the dishes.

He laughed, thankfully not taking offense. “Just wait ’til we get the mountain back running how it ought to be. It’ll take your breath away, my lady.”

“I don’t doubt it.” She smiled as she moved a stack of geometric patterned ceramic dishes to a newly cleaned shelf. “It’s already managed to do that a couple times.” The majesty of the mountain was in everything from the sweeping, carved pillars, to the craftsmanship of every floor, wall, and ceiling. The dwarves had inlayed a lot of the same geometric shapes carved right out of the rock and highlighted with other materials; everything from iron to wood to gold to gems. Thorin had pointed out lamps in hidden alcoves, to show the architectural lines as well as provide light in the evenings. No cupboard or closet was unimportant enough to be overlooked by the dwarves who had lived there before as their attention to detail and artistry showed lovingly in every bit of the city.

The rotund dwarf grinned as he rinsed off a copper ladle. “I cannot wait to show my wife.”

Sona’s ears perked up. That was the first time Bombur had mentioned his One… and Sona had a lot of questions. And with no one else around…

“Oh?” Sona took the ladle from his hand and began drying it. “Is she a cook like you?”

“No.” He rinsed a slotted serving spoon. “Even better… she’s a baker!” He chuckled at Sona’s bemused expression. “Who do you think taught me how to make Thorin’s favorite treat?”

“The honey scones are her recipe?” At Bombur’s pride filled nod, Sona smiled. “Then I can’t wait to thank her in person… and figure out some sort of trade where these scones show up at regular intervals for his breakfast.”

Bombur laughed as he continued with the dishes. “That will not be a problem, my lady. Baking was her first love. In fact she was quite irate when she met me.”

Sona couldn’t help but chuckle as she thought back to her first meetings with Thorin. “Yes, sometimes things can be… awkward at first.”

“Oh, it was nothing like you and Thorin.”

Sona had a memory of Thorin kneeling on her back, sword drawn while she tried to return the handkerchief she’d stolen from him.

The hanky Dís had lovingly embroidered for him.

The handkerchief he later gifted me.

“I’d gone in her shop—one I’d never been to—while on an errand, and wanted to buy a sweet roll for a snack. There she was, up to her elbows in dough. She knew, as I did, in that moment, that we were One. ‘I simply do not have time to woo someone,’ she told me even before I could say anything, then pointed at a bowl of frosting and ordered me to start glazing some cinnamon rolls. I came back to Gâlis’s bakery the next day, and then the next, and then the next, all the while doing whatever she asked. Finally, at the end of the fourth day, after I saved a baking sheet full of hot loaves of bread fresh from the oven from falling to the floor, she smiled at me.” Bombur sighed; hands paused in the soapy water, a faraway look in his eyes and a dreamy smile on his face. “She gave me flowers the very next day. Honeysuckle.”

Sona felt warm all over; delighted over Bombur’s very clear happiness, and that he’d chosen to share this with her. Then, knowing that she probably was treading on very shaky territory, but desperate for knowledge, and not having Fíli available to ask…

“When did the… Dreams start?” She gripped the damp towel in her hands, anxious.

Bombur stiffened, no longer relaxed, his hands held the mug he was washing so tightly Sona was afraid it would shatter. He looked quickly around the room as if to ensure they were alone.

“We do not speak of the Dreams.” Bombur’s voice was low and hard to hear over the running water. “Has no one spoken to you of them yet? I thought Fíli would’ve…” He did not wait for her to answer and pressed on. “Though, I suppose you are not a dwarf, so no one would think…” He gave her a sidelong look. “Are… you having the Dreams, then?”

Sona swallowed, then nodded. “I think so. Thorin and I—”

Bombur’s hand came up. “We do not speak of the Dreams.”

“But—”

“We do not.” He faced her fully; eyes gentle, and face kind as he looked up at her. “I know you have many questions, but what I say now is all I can tell you, and I need your promise you'll never ask any other about Dreams ever again.”

Sona nodded solemnly, shoving her frustration at being so constrained aside (she wanted answers to everything), and so he began:

Nai’adâl—the Dreams—are sacred. They are not written of and only spoken of once by a close family member or friend to someone when they have found their One.” The words rushed out in a single breath, and then he waited until Sona nodded her understanding.

This must be my one conversation, then. She decided the conversation with Fíli on Bard’s barge didn’t count. He’d barely brushed on the subject and she’d been completely focused on the confirmation that Thorin did indeed have feelings for her.

“Nai'ze, or Ones, experience Nai'adâl unique to themselves; no one knows how,” Bombur continued. “As it's a private matter between ’em, never to be shared or spoken of in the waking world. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Sona whispered, her voice shaky. I’m so glad I didn’t say anything to Tauriel yet, then. But wait… who else could say something to Tauriel, if not me?

“Those who aren't 'Oned' do not feel the Pull––Juzrazur. Though they know of it, they will never understand. They don’t miss it if it’s not there.” Bombur then took another deep breath, as if steeling himself to go on. “Now, they never experience Nai'adâl either, and this they do not know about. Our forefather's thought it wise to keep this from their knowledge, as a longing for Dreams could be something someone without might well imagine and miss... So, therefore, ignorant of these, they live contentedly, unaware.”

A worse thought than longing for something they could never have occurred to Sona. “If anyone knew…” She bit her lip, not even wanting to finish the thought. “Anyone outside of Nai'ze or dwarf culture… it could be used against us…”

Sona recalled how awful being cut off from Thorin had been while in Thranduil’s “care.” She didn’t know if the elf knew what his magic had wrought, but was certain it would have pleased him if he had.

Bombur nodded in complete understanding.

Sona placed her hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. “Âkmînruk zu, Bombur.”

Yamal, my lady.” Then he tucked his double chins shyly as another wide grin spread across his face. “This makes me very happy… we were all worried that perhaps… well, it does not matter now.” He turned back to the dishes and resumed washing.

“What were you and the others worried about?” Sona took her place by his side after getting a fresh towel for drying. She still had so many questions about the Dreams, but recognized that the subject had been closed.

The red bearded dwarf remained silent for a time before finally speaking. “It is very rare, and no one understands why it happens, but on occasion Mahal allows someone to be miscast.” At Sona’s confused expression Bombur continued. “We knew that you were Thorin’s One. It was so obvious, almost from the start. Certainly since Rivendell. But since you were Binurâl—a widow—we thought…”

Then the other penny dropped. “You thought Thorin was not my One.” A wave of concern for Thorin rushed over her as she realized what Bombur was saying. Thorin thought he was alone in this. That he harbored this feeling, this connection, this longing for someone who—he (and everyone else in the Company, apparently) thought—could never return it.

That must have been awful.

And then another realization washed over Sona. It may very well still be awful. Just because she cared for him, loved him, and wanted to be with him, that did not mean he was her One.

She was not a dwarf.

She couldn’t feel and experience the things they did.

Except…

“But if you are having the… well, you know. And you are feeling a Pull, yes?” Bombur kept his eyes fixed on the pot he was scrubbing.

“I…” Sona thought about the fierce attraction she felt toward Thorin. She’d always attributed it to him simply being an incredibly good-looking person, and then later her genuine friendship, affection, and now love for him. But then she thought back how it had been in the beginning, when she didn’t very much like him. When she still felt the magnetic Pull toward him. She’d just assumed it was to do with his kingly majesty and natural leadership. Didn’t he make everyone around him feel that way?

But then she remembered that of everyone he’d asked to join him on this quest, only twelve had followed…

“…yes. Yes there is a Pull. A very strong one.” Sona’s hand kept moving in a circular motion, drying the dish before her over and over again. “I had no idea… I thought… I thought…” Her mind was a jumble of emotions and fragments of thoughts she could hardly begin to navigate… except they kept coming back to one thought:

Is Thorin my One?

The idea both thrilled and terrified Sona. What if he was her One? What would that mean for them both?

Bombur’s grin spread. “This is wonderful! We were so worried that your husband had been your One, but he must not have, and—”

The dish slipped from Sona’s hand, shattering when it hit the ground.

“Bombur… You forget, I’m not a dwarf.” She quietly faced the rotund dwarf, hands gripped tightly at her side. “I loved David very deeply, and he will always occupy a large place in my heart.” She let out a slow breath, trying to find the right words and desperately needing Bombur to understand this though she was not certain she did herself. “Dwarf hearts are very large, something I have come to learn and greatly appreciate, but for you, you will only ever have a One. Can only have One, yes?”

Bombur nodded.

“I suspect that concept is as difficult for me to wrap my mind around as it is for you to understand that the hearts of men don’t work that way. Both ways—that of dwarves and of men—come with a cost. Neither is better or worse… just different.” She placed a hand on Bombur’s shoulder again.

“What I feel for Thorin is both different and the same as what I felt for David.” She gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze when his eyes clouded in confusion. “I know that what I feel for Thorin is a deep and abiding love, because I have felt it before. I know it’s real. And it’s also very uniquely him.” She lowered her hand and blinked back a sudden rush of tears she couldn’t understand.

“The two loves of my life couldn’t be more different, and yet, exactly the person I needed at that point in my life.” Movement. She needed to move. Sona walked over to the corner and picked up a broom and dustpan. “With David, we were so very young, and it was all so sudden and immediate. He was a whirlwind who swept me off my feet, and I hardly knew what happened… but that was life with David.” She chuckled as she swept the plate shards into the dustpan.

“David was a joker who never had a serious day in his life if he could help it, and spent his days surfing the waves and nerding out over Lord of the Rings and video games when he wasn’t teaching AP English at Katella High.” She dumped the broken plate into the garbage and dusted off her hands, before reaching up and fingering her courtship braid, eyes lingering on the bead at the bottom, a gentle smile creasing her lips.

“As for Thorin… well… love came softly, I suppose. Once we overcame our rough start we became friends and confidants, and then… I was in the middle of it all before I even realized I’d fallen in love with him.” She gripped the braid tightly. “I thank Durga every day that we found each other. I can’t imagine my life without Thorin.”

She faced Bombur then, who was cautiously gazing up at her, clearly trying to understand, but struggling to do so. Sona smiled kindly down at him. “What I’m saying, Bombur, is that Thorin has not replaced David in my heart, nor is your king second to my first husband in my affections… I was a different woman when I was married David, and it was a completely different relationship. It’s impossible to compare the two, and no one ever should, least of all me.”

            Bombur likely did not fully understand what she was trying to convey, but the way his eyes shined when she looked at him… well, he certainly grasped that she was deeply in love with his king. And perhaps that was enough.

            Sona’s stomach growled then and Bombur chortled.

            “Aye, my lady, it is well past time for me to begin the noon meal.”

            “Can I help?”

            “Of course, I’d greatly welcome it.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Are the stars out tonight?

I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright,

I only have eyes for you.

            -The Flamingos


 

Bombur and Sona worked to prepare a quick but filling lunch of biscuits and stew in the freshly cleaned kitchen, and not a moment too soon before the rest of the Company tromped in, covered in dust and grime, head to toe. Sona helped serve out the food as they spread out around the kitchen some sitting atop the newly cleaned counters and others leaning against the butcher-block topped center island. She pressed a quick peck against Thorin’s cheek as she danced by with a steaming bowl for him—his fingers caressing hers—and he thanked her with a smile.

Then, like a whirlwind, the dwarves were gone again, leaving empty bowls and dirt behind.

Sona sighed as she exchanged a rueful look with Bombur.

“This… this is precisely why I hate cleaning.” She picked up a scrub brush and attacked the counters once more.


 

            “Don’t you dare!” Sona pointed a stern finger at Thorin just as he was about to step across the threshold into the sparkling kitchen. It was hours later and every surface gleamed, along with every dish, utensil, and pot. “Bombur and I are just about to start cooking dinner and everyone is going to eat it somewhere that is not here.”

            Thorin held up both his arms in deferral to her wishes, a slight smile tugging at his cheeks. It was then that she noticed he was only in his blue undershirt (with the sleeves rolled to his elbows), trousers, and boots, and though still dusty, he was not nearly as sweaty and dirty as he’d appeared earlier now that he’d shed some layers.

            “I wouldn’t dream of waking your wrath, Thief.” He slowly lowered his arms, and his smile spread. “Though perhaps Bombur could spare you for a while. I would like to show you a place in the Mountain.”

            “Aye, of course,” Bombur chortled. “There’s many a supper I’ve prepared on my own.”

Sona’s curiosity was instantly piqued by Thorin’s words, and, though she felt grimy and sweaty and on the whole, gross, she took his offered hand and followed him out into the maze of hallways.

“The kitchen Bombur picked is the one closest to my family's hall, our private living quarters.” Thorin gave her hand a quick squeeze as he led her down a hallway that was almost immediately different from the others. There were more geometric inlays—this time with variances of gold and mithril, and glitters and glimmers of what were surely more costly gems. Broad lines and edges ordained the sculptures on the walls, mostly geometric, but there occasionally there were statues of Dwarves interspersed—not taking up floor space, but dug into the walls. 

And despite the shear amount of the decoration, it was not overdone. Not large and ostentatious, but certainly far more grand and ornate than the others had been.

Magnificent.

And Sona realized then that when Thorin said “my family’s living spaces” he meant “the royal living spaces.”

They paused near the end of the hallway where a massive set of double doors remained closed. The doorknobs were gold, and the surface of the doors were covered with ornate gold designs in the same runes and patterns Sona saw as a reoccurring motif throughout Erebor. Above the doors, in stark gold relief was the Durin crest of the crown, seven stars, and a hammer over an anvil.

There was no question whose quarters that had been. It was with some relief that Thorin pulled Sona to the left, down an adjacent hall. They passed three doors, all with the Durin crest painted on them in gold, and Thorin named them as they walked past.

“Dís’s, Frerin’s, mine.”

Sona paid particular attention to which room he pointed out as his, though they did not stop until they reached the end of this hall, which Sona very quickly realized was his personal family’s wing of the royal living quarters. Before them was another set of double doors, though smaller, and far less grand than the ones leading into the king’s chambers. The crest of Durin was painted on each door, and Thorin reached out and nudged one of them open and pulled Sona into a cheerfully lit living room that was mostly free of dust and cobwebs.

It wasn’t pristine in its cleanliness, but clearly someone had been in recently and made an effort. The space was large and roomy, with tasteful hand crafted furniture, and lovely tapestries of a field of lavender on one wall and a family tree on another. Sona could not wait to look more closely at the latter, especially as there appeared to be mini-portraits woven in.

Overall the room was pleasant and comfortable, and clearly a place that had harbored much love and comfort over the years; it was well lived in. Sona allowed her gaze to follow the lines of the high sweeping ceilings overhead, to the skylight letting in the last of the sun’s rays.

“Amad'ē loved to see the stars at night; feel the air, hear the wind. It opens...” Thorin pointed toward six levers on the far wall, one for each window. “With those.” He then moved behind a sofa angled to have a perfect view of the skylight. “I remember, I would sit here on her knee as a dwarfling, and she would sing to me in the starlight while she braided my hair. She took her time, and A'dad'ē smoked by the fire, watching on, a wistful smile behind the stem of his pipe.” A soft smile touched his lips.

Sona’s heart swelled over the image of child Thorin bouncing on his mother’s knee while she sang to him.

“She did the same with Frerin,” he continued, “and I helped when Dís came. Dís made sure I knew many kinds of braids.” His smile now was aimed toward Sona, and she felt her breath catch.

“I knew I could feel love in here.” She couldn’t help returning her Jaanu’s smile. “Thank you for showing me your home.”

Your home.” His lower lip pulled in against his teeth. “If you wish it.”

Sona blinked, overwhelmed by the gesture and unsure of how to respond.

“You need not decide now, Thief.” He was beside her once again, his hand sliding down her arm leaving a trail of fire in its wake before his fingers interlaced with hers and he gently pulled her toward another door on the opposite end of the room. “But until you do, you may sleep here if you'd like.”

He pushed open the door and beyond it was a bedroom as tastefully decorated and comfortable as the main room. A large bed with four wood posts that led up to and were flush with the high ceilings—almost as if the bed itself was an organic part of the mountain—dominated the room, and the linens and blankets looked fresh and clean.

“What have you been doing with your afternoon?” Sona gave him a quick smirk. “I thought you had a wall to build.”

“Bifur and the others have the task well in hand, and I wanted to look after your comfort.” He gestured toward the bed. “Amad'ē took particular care with her bed clothes––they were just as I remembered, in the cupboard, with lavender pressed between the layers to keep them scented like home.”

Sona blinked back tears for the second time that day. “Thank you, Jaanu. It’s perfect.” She stepped into the room and slowly turned around taking in everything from another tapestry of purple flowers along one wall, to her backpack sitting atop a beautiful mahogany, waist height dresser that matched the bed, along another wall.

She stopped turning and faced a smiling Thorin in the doorway. He was leaned against the doorframe; arms crossed, hands tucked under his elbows, and eyes sparkling with intensity, as he seemed to drink her in. Sona was suddenly aware of the rather large bed in the room and the fact that they were very much alone.

Even before the thought was fully formed, she was moving toward him. Thorin met her half way, pulling her into his powerful arms, full lips claiming hers. Sona’s tongue sought entrance into his mouth while she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her hands in his hair. He opened up to her, twining his tongue with hers as the heat from their kisses escalated. Sona pulled against him, seeking the bed she knew to be somewhere behind her, but Thorin guided their steps away and to the side of the room.

Sona pulled back slightly, intending to complain when the backs of her thighs hit the dresser and Thorin smoothly boosted her into a seated position atop it, his mouth claiming hers once again. Sona wrapped her legs around his back, locking her ankles, and pulled him tightly against her. This elicited a groan from Thorin as he disengaged his lips from hers and stared at her hungrily before she tilted her neck to the side and guided his mouth there. He happily obliged as his hands tightened their grip on her hips, drawing her nearer.

Sona let out a sigh of bliss and fluttered her eyes closed as Thorin moved his kisses lower to her collarbone, nose grazing just under the neckline of her kurta. She ran her hands down his neck, over his powerful shoulders, and across his back, reveling at the feel of him under just one thin layer of cloth. This was the first time they’d kissed without his armor encumbering them. Her hands came back up and fisted tightly in his hair as she arched against him. She leaned back, intending to guide him lower…

…And promptly hit her head against her backpack, knocking it to the ground.

A very unladylike snort burst from Sona’s lips and Thorin looked up with an answering smirk gracing his lips. Their passions temporarily cooled, he slowly straightened and pulled Sona back up with him.

Suppressing a giggle, Sona ran her fingers through his hair. “Bet you never thought you’d be making out like a horny teenager in your parent’s bedroom.”

Thorin shook his head, chuckling. “We are fortunate this is your room, my lady.”

Sona caught formality in his tone and twisted her mouth into a pout. “Don’t you mean our room?”

Asti…” he sighed as he slid his hands slowly down her thighs, back over her knees, along her boots, and around to her ankles, still locked behind his back. “Our room will be the one we passed when we turned down this hall.”

Sona knew precisely what room he meant.

The king’s quarters.

She was so taken aback she didn’t even protest when he pulled her legs down from around his hips, and instead dropped her hands limply by her sides.

Ē'ze, don't look at me that way. You know my wishes.” His voice had deepened with clear emotion, yet added gentleness, making Sona feel all the worse for the frustration and confusion she was feeling.

She twisted her legs to the side and pushed off the dresser, feeling hot and flustered. “Don’t I get a say in this?”

“Aye, Asti. You have all the say.” He looked like he wanted to take her in his arms again so Sona stepped back, putting space between them. They needed to talk, and him kissing her senseless would not help with that.

“No, what I get is some sort of dwarf rules of conduct nobody has seen fit to explain to me apart from Dwalin saying we’ve got to get married first if I want to ‘enjoy the marriage bed’.” She decided not to bring up the queen thing yet. She was certainly not ready for that conversation. One thing at a time. “Care to enlighten me?”

Thorin opened his mouth, then closed it, before repeating the gesture, clearly at a loss for words.

“Sex, Thorin. I’m talking about sex.” Sona crossed her arms beneath her breasts.

Thorin honest to goodness flushed at her plain speaking. “I never thought I'd be required to explain this; I did not think I was One blessed until you, and it is known among Dwarves, and—”

“I’m not a dwarf.” Sona had to resist the urge to tap her toe. She was trying to be patient for Thorin; despite the fact that everyone in the Company seemed to keep forgetting that not only was she human, she was not from Arda.

“I know that.” He pulled his lower lip against his teeth, as if pondering his words. “Couplings between Ones and the bairns born to them are—”

sacred

“—sacred, and the union holds meaning.” He looked as though he wanted to step toward her again, but, reading her closed off body language, thought better of it, and crossed his arms over his chest, mimicking her pose. “Therefore, Ones always wed before they join.”

Sona raised an eyebrow. “I don’t buy it.”

“Pardon?”

“You’re telling me that two people feeling as intense a physical attraction as we feel wait? There’s no way.” Before Thorin could respond Sona continued. “Not to mention the implication that none of you have sex until or unless you find your One.” She shrugged. “I don’t buy it.”

To Sona’s surprise, Thorin chuckled. “Asti, as you often say, you are no Dwarf. Please remember this as I try to explain.”

Sona nodded, willing to remain open-minded.

“May I ask you questions? Private ones?”

She nodded again—she trusted Thorin with everything.

“I would guess your husband was not your only… partner, yes?”

“Yes.” Sona hadn’t slept around—it just wasn’t her style—but David was certainly not the only person she’d been with physically.

“Why?”

Sona blinked. She’d not expected that question. “Well… I suppose it’s because… I like sex. A lot. Especially when I’m with someone I care about…”

“You long for it?”

She nodded.

“Most dwarves do not.” Thorin let that sink in for a moment before continuing. “At least, not 'til we recognize our One. Then there's a shift, and that longing comes.”

“Oh…” Sona’s mouth formed a perfect circle as she pondered his words. “Wait… you said most dwarves, not all.”

Thorin nodded. “Aye, some, even once they find their One, desire only to be in each other's company, with no longing to touch or join, having no desire for it even then. Still others have arousals and longings though they do not have a One. These Dwarves sometimes develop intimate friendships. Some visit brothels.” His burning blue eyes did not leave hers as he spoke. “No one pays mind to these affairs, so long as those involved are of age and make no show of it.”

Sona couldn’t tell if he was talking about himself or not and then realized she didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Thorin could have had dozens of lovers in his life—or none—and it wouldn’t change how she felt about him, or the fact that he was clearly attracted to her. Not to mention he did not seem bothered in the least by her past.

“Okay, that makes sense, actually.” Sona loosened her arms, exhaling. “So back to us…”

Now Thorin did not resist crossing the room and gathering her in his arms. “Ē'ze, do you not see?” He cradled her tenderly in his arms; close, but not confining. “I will have no one think you are a mere affair and frivolous... to me. This matters all the more for our particular circumstances, compounded not only because I am King, but because you are of Men—”

“—so everything must be done properly.” Sona leaned against him, taking comfort in his arms around her and his hands slowly stroking her back. “I figured as much.” She sighed, frustrated. “I wish that we could just enjoy being together. Learning about each other in every way without any pressure about marriage or… king stuff.” She couldn’t bring herself to say the other word out loud yet. Or even think it. It would make it too real. “I mean, we just got together. Can’t we enjoy the simple happiness of that for a while?”

Thorin pressed a light kiss on her lips before leaning his forehead against hers. “Aye, Asti, that we can. We do whatever you wish—”

“—well, in that case—”

“—Thief…” Thorin chuckled and Sona pouted, but she was mostly teasing at this point.

Mostly.

“Then what’s allowed? Because there’s a whole lot we can do leading up to a homerun.”

Thorin leaned back, confusion in his eyes. “Homerun?”

Sona smiled. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy teaching you about baseball.” She leaned in for another kiss, which Thorin happily gave her, but then he pulled away.

“Kissing, holding, caressing…” His gaze lingered on her hair and then traced a line from her neck down to her shoulder. “…nuzzling.” His eyes were back on hers, dark and intense. “Such things we may do… though I require some restraint, some fortitude.” He cupped her cheek with one hand, brushing her lips with his thumb. “My hold around you is weak, Biriz Akmâth'amê, for I desire you fully.”

Sona felt him opening her hand and looked down to see Thorin setting her bangles on her palm, before closing her fingers around them.

“As for baseball, I am your eager student. But now I need to head to my room. I'm dusty and require a wash and fresh clothes for supper.” Thorin’s hand lingered on hers, and he brushed his thumb across her fingers. “I will come back for you when I am finished.” He indicated a far wall with a nod of his head. “The wet room is there and I’ve seen to it; everything works.”

And then with a soft squeeze of her hand, Thorin left.

 

Chapter Text

 

Now I'll be bold

As well as strong

And use my head alongside my heart

So tame my flesh

And fix my eyes

A tethered mind freed from the lies

'Cause I will wait, I will wait for you

            -Mumford and Sons


 

Patience, Sona. You’ve waited this long.

Sona took a deep, calming breath, and then nearly gagged. “Ew, is that me?” She smelled disgusting and was suddenly quite grateful nothing much had happened beyond kissing.

She sighed as she heard the front door close to her new quarters. She’d never met someone like Thorin… for more reasons beyond the fact that he was both a dwarf and a king.

“I have literally thrown myself at him twice now… and he said no both times,” she grumbled under her breath. Though, upon taking another whiff of herself she supposed she couldn’t blame him all that much this last time. She moved in front of the large mirror hanging over the dresser, and, though she was sad to do it, began taking down the intricate braid Thorin had put in for her that morning. Her hair really needed a good wash.

Too bad Thorin didn’t stay to take it out.

Then she immediately flushed when she recalled how it felt when his fingers were twined in her hair.

Probably for the best, she thought as she pulled the final pin and her hair tumbled down in two thick braids. She’d never dated someone who didn’t want to sleep with her when given the chance. It was all so bizarre. Though, she supposed, Thorin did very much want to sleep with her. She thought back to their last encounter on that very dresser and nodded her head as she worked to unbraid her hair.

Given his body’s response to her… yes, he definitely wanted to sleep with her.

Sona closed her eyes and gave a frustrated groan. “Fiiiiiiiine.”

She would respect his wishes to wait. Of course she would. Though he had specifically mentioned only “joining” as being off limits which she took to mean sex… and he’d said kisses and cuddles where fine.

“And there’s a lot you can do with kisses and cuddles.” Her hair down, crimped from the tight braids they’d been in all day, she smiled at the mirror. “Now Thorin mentioned a bathroom…”

Worried that she’d already spent far too much time letting her hair down, Sona hurried over to the door he’d indicated, pulling her kurta off and depositing it on the floor along the way. Opening it, she found another well-lit space, about half the size of the bedroom. It was stone and tile, but looked like it had been carved directly out of the mountain—as much of the natural lines and movement of the stone had been preserved. A rectangular stone tub easily large enough for two occupied one end of the room and a large stone sink and counter ran along one wall with another moderately sized mirror hanging over top it. A linen towel sat folded on the counter with her lavender soap nestled on top of it.

Thorin had thought of everything.

She sat down on a stone bench just inside the door and worked her boots, then socks off and tossed them back out into the bedroom. Her leggings quickly followed, along with her sports bra, which, given its sorry state, she decided she would need to retire soon.

Good thing I’ve got little boobs that can go with no support until I figure out how they handle this sort of thing here.

She looked at her back in the mirror, eying her lotus tattoo between her shoulder blades, and was pleased to see how well her wounds from the encounter with Gollum and the orcs all those months ago had healed. Aside from the bite scar on her collarbone, it was as if it had never happened.

Apart from the memories, that is.

She would never forget the horrifying sight of Thorin going into battle against Azog, alone and overmatched, as the warg tossed him aside like a rag doll.

Never again.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the reflection of the last thing she thought she’d find in Arda.

“Is that…?” She whirled, stepping toward a tall rectangle of space carved out of the wall. Her eyes follow the lines of the small stone trough that hung out overhead, down to a bronze handle midway on the wall, and the angles of the floor leading to one corner. She reached out her hand and twisted the knob.

Nothing happened.

She twisted farther.

Still nothing.

Stepping directly into the space she jiggled the handle until it canted forward and was suddenly covered in a deluge of icy water.

A shriek tore from her lips but before she could leap from the cold water, it warmed until it was downright hot.

Sona laughed and threw her hands in the air as she twirled under the falling water.

I am taking a hot shower in Middle Earth!

She was still turning when the partially open bathroom door slammed against the wall and Thorin rushed in, a worried look on his face.

“Ē'ze, what's wrong? You screamed, and...” His words trailed off as his brain finally caught up with what his eyes were showing him.

His mouth hung open as his gaze traced her naked body from head to toe, and then back up again.

Sona lowered her arms to her side and took a half step out of the water—just far enough to keep her face clear of the deluge. “Sorry about that. I guess I was just a little bit excited to find a shower.” She cocked her head to the side and felt a smile tug at her lips at Thorin’s rapidly flushing face. His eyes were everywhere; darting first above, then around the bathroom, back to her, then back around the room, but always, always back to her. “Mind passing me the soap?”

He blinked, and seeming to finally come to his senses, whirled, grabbed the lavender soap, and then held it out without looking back at her.

“I can’t reach it from here. Mind coming closer?” She grinned at Thorin’s reflection in the mirror and he snapped his eyes shut as soon as he realized turning had not really helped him out at all.

Asti…” he warned in a low, rumbling register, and Sona chuckled, stepping out of the shower fully. She reached out to grasp the soap, letting her wet fingertips linger on the palm of his hand.

“I am finishing,” she teased. She couldn’t help quoting his own words back at him. “If you would give me a moment, we can carry on our conversation.”

Thorin let out a low chuckle as he shook his head, clearly remembering the bathing episode at Beorn’s, and left Sona to finish her shower alone.


 

            Sona emerged from her bedroom clad in a clean kurta and leggings, toweling off her hair, a large grin on her face. “Now, what urgent calling brought you to interrupt my shower?”

            “Clever lark, Biriz Akmâth'amê; now you've had your laugh.” Thorin rubbed a hand across his beard from his seat on the sofa in the center of the living room. “But since you’ve such a need to know, I did wonder if…” He held up his comb and Sona’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline.

            “Oh!” She only now realized that his hair was completely free of all his braids—apart from her courtship braid—and still damp from what must have been his own shower. Her thoughts skittered away from memories of catching Thorin bathing. Focus, Sona! “I’d love to.” The grin was back on her face. “Properly this time.”

            His answering smile made her feel warm and tingly to the tips of her toes. She made her way to the back of the couch, plucking his comb from his fingertips as she passed.

            Settling behind him, Sona took a deep breath and held it briefly.

            Cardamom and pine.

            “I love how you smell,” she murmured as she plunged her fingers into his damp tresses, carding through them. Thorin pushed back slightly against her hands when her fingertips rubbed along his scalp. Sona pressed down harder, massaging forward toward his temples then back down to the base of his head. He groaned and captured one of her hands in his, turning his head to place a soft, open mouth kiss on her wrist. A small gasp escaped her when she felt his tongue lightly graze her sensitive skin there and her fingers—still twined in his hair—reflexively tightened.

            They stood on a precipice and Sona knew hair braiding would be long forgotten if she had her way. Yet, still mindful of Thorin’s wishes, she did not press him, and waited to see what he would do. His kiss gentled to a light peck, and he slowly released her hand.

            Deciding that if they were to have any hope of getting through this she would have to, just like the last time, resort to desperate measures.

            Clearing her voice and tightening her grip on his comb, she began separating his hair from the bottom up while she sang.

            “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” Disney to the rescue once again. Though this song, the theme from Sleeping Beauty, was one she had been saving just for him. “I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam…

            She made her way through several other Disney songs while she combed and plaited his hair, until she was complete with all but his two remaining front braids. But instead of reaching forward and plaiting them in from the side like she’d done on her last disastrous attempt at braiding his hair, she moved to the front of the sofa.

At Thorin’s questioning gaze she smiled and then promptly settled herself heavily on his lap facing him, her knees tucked tightly against either side of his hips as she straddled him.

“Thief, is this wholly necessary?”

Sona’s hands were in his hair and braiding, while she nodded and gave him an innocent smile, all the while humming the Sleeping Beauty theme. He kept his arms up, lying across the back of the sofa and gave her a tight smile in return. He was trying to appear relaxed, but Sona knew better. The tendons in his neck were tight, as were the muscles of his exposed forearms.

She finished putting in the braid below her courtship braid, and then, giving him a wicked smile, shifted her pressure across his lap as she adjusted her position to reach the other side of his head. Not that she actually needed to move…

“I do not recall your need for this last time you braided my hair,” Thorin bit out as his hands clenched into fists.

Sona slowed down on the last braid and adjusted her position again. “I most definitely wanted to…” She snuck a peek at him through her lashes, and he was staring at her with such ferocious intensity she had to fight the urge to drop the braid and take his face in her hands and—

Sona focused on his braid. “…I would have kissed your face off right then if I thought I could have gotten away with it… but I didn’t think you wanted to be anything more than friends at that point.”

Thorin scoffed. “You're my One. I would be whatever you desire, then same as now.”

She flushed under the intensity of both his words and his gaze.

“But tell me, Thief,” he gently brushed the backs of his fingers along her cheek. “How long have you wanted to ‘kiss my face off’?”

“For a very long time.” She finished the last braid and clasped his bead around the end. “But I think I realized it after that first dinner in Rivendell while I was playing for all of you.” She brought her hands up and ran her fingers along his beard. “I remember you were staring at me with the kindest most open and inviting look you’d given me up to that point and I wondered what it would be like to kiss someone with a beard.”

She leaned in and placed a light kiss against his lips. “Not gonna lie, it’s pretty awesome. Definitely not a disappointment.”

Thorin’s head fell back as he laughed, his hands settling on her hips.

“And what about you?” she pressed. “When did you first know you wanted to kiss me?”

Thorin sobered as he met her gaze, blue eyes intense once again. “Almost since we met… though I did not admit this until Rivendell, not even to myself.”

“Oh my gosh, for reals? As early as that?” Sona couldn’t believe it. He was so… standoffish before then. He’d clearly not wanted her around.

Thorin nodded. “Aye, ‘for reals’.” He canted his head to the side, regarding her as his hands made their way up into her damp hair. “It was a painful knowledge, and… I tried to run. It was useless.”

Sona leaned back, a little hurt. “Painful? Run? W—why?”

Asti, you’re Binumrâl. And widows must find their own way.”

Sona settled back as she absorbed what he was saying, along with what she had learned in her conversation with Bombur that morning, until she understand what Thorin was saying without actually saying.

David. Ones. Love. Death. Love… again?

She leaned her forehead against his and placed a tender kiss against his lips. “I did find my way.” She moved her lips up and softly kissed each of his eyelids. “I found you.”

His arms tightened around her, and for a long while they were lost in nothing but gentle kisses, murmured endearments in Hindi and Khuzdûl, and the feel of the other holding each other close.


 

A/N: Bless all of you who take the time to comment. You truly make my day. :) 

Chapter Text

A/N: Early update as I'm traveling this weekend and I didn't want to make you wait.


 

If you should ever leave me

Though life would still go on believe me

The world could show nothing to me

So what good would living do me?

God only knows what I'd be without you

-The Beach Boys


 

            Dinner was a relaxed affair, with all the dwarves clean and happy in fresh clothing, gathered in what Sona learned was the royal family’s dining room. Though it had tapestries as detailed as painting on the walls, and a beautiful hexagonal table that could easily be added to for accommodating more, the room was not as grand as Sona thought it would have been. She felt comfortable here, and thought that perhaps, among these dwarves… maybe being a queen would not be so very bad. But then she overheard Balin telling Dori as they picked up some of the finished plates that they would need to prepare the formal hall next in the event Thorin needed to host visitors, and Sona’s stomach tightened with anxiety.

            Of course there is a formal hall.

            She looked at Thorin, currently trading barbs with Dwalin about some past sparring session as they smoked their pipes over by the fireplace, and her anxiety eased some…though not completely. Thorin was head to toe a king. She’d sensed his majesty right from the start. She had no doubts about him.

            But me? A queen?

            She swallowed hard around her bite of vegetable pie.

            “So when can we expect this pee-zah you promised, my lady?”

            “Huh?” Sona looked up, meeting Bombur’s querying gaze. “Oh! Pizza…” She’d intended on cooking them an Indian dish first, but perhaps pizza would be a bit easier given their somewhat austere conditions. Her father used to make the best pizza. “…Well, any time I suppose, once I have the ingredients.”

“Yamal. Tell me what you need, and I'll gather the ingredients tomorrow while I inventory the food store.”

“Perfect! Thanks. Then maybe tomorrow for dinner? If not, the day after?”

“If we wait for the day after, hopefully Fíli, Kíli, Sasha, and Tauriel will be back by then,” Bofur offered from the other end of the table, and everyone else heartily agreed—the fires in Laketown were no longer glowing.

And so it was settled in two days hence that Sona would make pizza for the evening meal, and that, now that the front gate was rebuilt, they would spend the rest of their time cleaning and preparing as much of the Lonely Mountain as they could until those from the Blue Mountains arrived.

It would be a daunting task, but they had nothing but time on their hands at this point, now that they were secure in the mountain with food, clothing, and stores.

Nothing but time… and to wait for a wizard so I can figure out what to do with this stupid Ring, and…

Sona’s fork clanged off her plate as she caught her breath.

They made three movies. The second one was the dragon movie. The dragon is gone. What’s left?

“Thief!” Thorin was by her side in a moment; hand on her shoulder, eyes searching her face. “What ails you?”

Her breath was sporadic, coming in and out in short intervals.

The Battle of the Five Armies. That’s what the last one was called.

She looked up, and meeting Thorin’s worried eyes, said as quietly as she could: “I just remembered something.”


 

            Thorin led her from the dining room, dinner forgotten, and ten sets of curious eyes staring as they left. Sona thought he was going to take her back to her room to talk, but instead, led her along the halls, toward the newly repaired entryway. How well he already knew her. The familiar action of walking alone together immediately calmed her.

            “Is it to do with the… artifact?” He certainly didn’t beat around the bush.

            “No,” Sona said quickly, grasping at her waistband and feeling the now familiar wave of nausea that passed as soon as she dropped her hand. “I promise, it is not something we need to worry about for a long while yet.”

            “What then?” Thorin’s voice was gentle, not impatient, despite his clear desire to find out what it was that caused her so much concern.

            “You know how I said this story was called The Hobbit?”

            “Aye, for the grocer.” Thorin nodded. “Things have changed, you have said it many times. It matters little by now, whatever that book says.”

            “Yes… and no.” Sona bit her lower lip, thinking. “Certain things still keep happening. Fixed points in the story. Like meeting Beorn. Or the spiders. Thranduil… and…” She paused and looked up at him through her lashes. “…the Ring.”

            Thorin’s hand came up and cupped her neck, pulling her gently into his arms. “And you fear there are more of these ‘fixed points’?”

            Sona nodded, face buried in his hair, and inhaled deeply, calming as a wave of spicy cardamom wafted over her.

            His hands stroked up and down her back soothingly. “Tell me, Asti… what do you remember?”

            She pulled away with a sigh, and resumed their walk toward the entry—it was very near now, just around one more turn. “A battle. Here, at base of the mountain. In front of the very doors of Erebor.” Thorin made no comment, so Sona continued. “I don’t remember why… what causes it.”

            “I’ve a notion...”

Sona turned at Thorin’s words and found him stopped and looking in the direction of the treasury, a concerned frown on his face. He sighed and turned back to Sona. “I hoped to avoid this.”

Sona was confused. “You think someone is after your gold?”

Our gold, Thief.” Thorin took her hand in his and led her toward the entryway. “One fourteenth is yours.”

Sona gulped… she’d somehow forgotten that little detail. “Okay, so… oh wow!” They rounded the turn and she got her first view of the repaired entryway. In a manner that only dwarves could manage, they’d fitted the stones together solidly, filling in the gaping hole left by Smaug. They’d even managed to build in steps leading up to the top, which is precisely where Thorin was leading them.

“You guys did that quick.”

“Dwarves know stone.” Thorin gave her a slight smile before sobering and guiding her up the stairs. “Do you recall who attacks us?”

“I assume the orcs.”

Thorin raised an eyebrow, clearly not expecting that.

“It’s called the Battle of the Five Armies.” The reached the top and looked out at the starlit plains before them. “There are dwarves, of course, but also elves, and men, and…huh, can’t remember who the other army is, but you are united in a battle against the orcs. I don’t know why they attacked though—aside from the fact that they’re orcs and do they really need an excuse?” A horrifying thought struck Sona. “Unless…”

            “Azog,” Thorin finished quietly. He set his hands on the stone wall before them. He appeared perfectly calm in his pronouncement… only the slight tightness around his eyes and mouth giving him away.

            “Maybe… but that’s not who I remember leading them.”

            Thorin looked at her sidelong. “Who then?”

            She shook her head. “Of all the weird things to remember in the book… it was the name of this orc: Blog.” She scrunched up her nose, concentrating. “Or… no, was it Bolg?” She sighed. “Not that it matters. I always though Azog died at Moria, killed by Dain.” She shuddered as she remembered the merciless evil filled smile the pale orc had given her when he’d taunted Thorin.

            Thorin’s arms were suddenly around her, holding her tightly to him as he whispered soothing Khuzdûl words in her ear. She was shaking. Terrified. But it wasn’t just of Azog. No, it was something else. Something uncertain. Something she could not place her finger on.

            “That filth will not touch you.” There was iron in Thorin’s voice, and Sona shook her head.

            “No, that’s not what I’m worried about.” Then she caught herself. “Okay, well maybe a little—I’d be crazy not to be afraid of him.” Thorin held her tighter, and she gladly melted against him, resting her head against his. “It’s just that… well, what good is knowing anything about the future, if what I know is wrong?” A tear slipped down her cheek and she scrubbed it away.

            His hand came up and buried itself in her hair, holding her head tenderly, the other splayed out on her lower back, pulling her closer. “As the wizard has said, you’ve changed our history. The battle may come, or it may not. But now we will be ready.” He tightened his grip on her, and Sona knew his unspoken words were of Azog.

            “He won’t ever stop, will he?”

            A long moment passed, until finally Thorin shook his head. “Not until the line of Durin is ended.”

            Sona let out a shuddering gasp before she whirled, stepping out of Thorin’s hold. “Fíli, Kíli! We have to bring them back. Now! I don’t want them anywhere out there—”

            “Ē'ze, they are safe where they are.” Thorin stood behind her, hands gently grasping her biceps. “It takes time to gather armies, especially five of them.” He rubbed his hands slowly up and down her arms. “Once he’s informed the Defiler will think they are here…” He paused and then his next words had a touch of wonder and surprise to them. “…and Fíli and Kíli have Tauriel with them.”

            Sona calmed some at his words and his touch. “What are we going to do?”

            Thorin moved beside her and extended an arm out, and to Sona’s surprise, a raven alighted upon it. “Ē'ze Sona Biriz Akmâth, meet Roäc, Lead of Ravens.”

“Uh… hello… pleased to meet you.” Sona wasn’t sure at first if the bird understood her… but the way he cocked his head and stared at her keenly when she addressed him left her in little doubt.

“Roäc will fly to the Iron Hills with a message for Dáin inviting my cousin to the Mountain.” He gave her a wry smile. “It’s past time you two meet.”

            Sona blinked. She had not expected that. “Okay… sure, I’d love to meet some of your family.” She tried not to think to deeply about what that meant. “But… what are we going to do about the upcoming battle?”

            Thorin’s wry smile became genuine then. “Dain is Lord of the Iron Hills, the closest Dwarven realm to the Lonely Mountain.” He nodded toward the raven who looked back at the dwarf with keen intelligence in its eyes, and then flew off. “And when he comes to meet my One he will arrive with an army.”

            Sona gulped. “Well… that’s nice.”


 

            Thorin sent five more ravens out—he’d sent one to Ered Luin earlier that day—letting all the dwarf kingdoms know the Lonely Mountain had been re-claimed.

            Sona was shivering at this point—light snow flurries were flying outside in the moonlight—but before she could even considering going back to her room for her cloak, Thorin had doffed his coat and slung it around her shoulders. She nestled into the softness of the fur, inhaling the scents of tobacco, pine, and cardamom.

            Thorin. Home.

            That second thought took her completely by surprise, and she stumbled as Thorin led her back toward her room. His quick hands caught her elbow, and she straightened, shaking her head. “Tripped over my own feet. Heh.”

            Thorin raised an eyebrow, not entirely buying it—Sona knew she walked with a dancer’s grace—but he didn’t press her.

            Well, not about what caused her to stumble, that is.

            “There remains an open topic, Thief, one we must discuss.”

            “Hmm?” Sona gave him a querying look as they entered the now familiar royal hallways.

            My hallways… if I want.

            “You woke the Dragon. You did that. I shake to think of it even now…”

            Sona’s stomach plunged. She did not want to have a fight right now. Not ever. Not with Thorin. Never.

            “…I wish you had not risked yourself that way,” Thorin finished calmly. There was no anger in either his words or his bearing; though Sona could tell he was holding himself back some. She recalled the last time she’d risked herself for him—Azog—and how badly things had gone when she’d regained consciousness. How they’d both behaved. How badly she’d behaved.

            “I’m sorry for worrying you.” She kept her voice as calm as his, recognizing the feelings behind his words as the same ones that drove her to protect him.

            “I would very much like it if you would promise me never to do anything like that again.” His voice was low and rumbling as they turned past the King’s quarters and made their way down Thorin’s family hall toward her rooms at the end. When she didn’t answer he looked at her sidelong, reiterating his words. “A promise, Sona.”

            “Well… unless you’ve got another dwarf kingdom that needs to be liberated from a dragon, I don’t think you need to worry.” She gave him a half smile. “I really don’t think I’ll be able to talk the Balrog into leaving Khazad-dûm, though, so it’d be best if we just steered clear of there.”

            Thorin sighed, clearly not appreciating her attempt at humor. “Asti, you know my meaning.”

            It was now Sona’s turn to sigh. “And you know I’m not going to just sit there and let the people I love put themselves in life threatening situations—not when I can do something to prevent it.”

            “But you expect me to 'sit there' and let my One do just that.”

            They were before her doors now, and Sona turned to meet Thorin’s fiery gaze. He was calm, yes. Happy, no.

            “Me convincing a dragon it’s in his best interest to leave peacefully is quite different than you attacking the very same dragon that decimated your people the first time you went up against him.” Sona crossed her arms under her breasts. “I was not about to let that happen again.”

            “That is unjust, Sona. He took us by surprise. I would have gone in with an army and a plan.” He raised a hand forestalling her next comment. “Let me finish—next time I welcome you to come to me, I beg it even, that you discuss something like this with me before you decide what is best for me or our people.”

            Sona’s mouth snapped shut. She had no response to that. He was right. She would have been furious if he’d done the same thing to her. And why hadn’t she told him about her plan?

            Because I thought he would say no. And while he likely would have… maybe he wouldn’t have. Or maybe he could have come up with a better plan… but now I’ll never know. Just because it worked, doesn’t mean it was right.

            “I’m sorry.” She looked down at her boot-clad feet, feeling suddenly quite ashamed. And as opposed to every other time they had argued, she did not specify what she was sorry for. She was simply sorry.

            His finger came under her chin and