When Thorin Met Tauriel - 1
Saraleee's version of what might have happened (with apologies to Tolkien, Jackson, Walsh, et al.)
Tauriel peered curiously at the dwarf in the prison cell. Why should elves bother with such a one? The patrol should have shot him full of arrows, or let the spiders take him.
He looked harmless enough now, slumped on the cell’s bench. A tangle of granite-colored hair spread over his face. His blocky form was covered in dark, heavy fabric studded with bits of shiny metal, like flecks of mica in stone. Perhaps the rockiness was natural for his kind. Dwarves lived in tunnels underground. Tauriel knew all the stories.
She wouldn’t have minded if he had become a spider’s lunch. But the King had said to put the dwarf in the dungeon, and now it was Tauriel’s duty to guard him.
She sighed. Although she was Captain of the Guards, guard duty was not fun. It was dark in the dungeon. There was nothing to do except stay there, watch the prisoner, and try not to get bored. Usually she was able to avoid serving as a guard herself—simply a matter of proper scheduling. However, it was better for morale if she took the occasional shift, so she stood regular guard duty at least once a moon.
And last time, she’d guarded Lothiel—that had been fun, because he'd spent the whole time arguing with her and pleading to be let out. She’d pretended to consider it and once she’d even picked up her keys, enjoying the bright eager look that came into the thief’s eyes. But she'd put the keys right down again, and given him a tongue-lashing for daring to think that she, the Captain, would shirk her solemn duty.
“I need water,” the dwarf said, startling her. One bright blue eye was open and glaring at her. “Or do you plan to let me die of thirst?” He struggled to sit up without using his hands, which were bound behind him. Cuts and bruises covered his face, and he winced as he righted himself. He looked even more rocklike sitting up.
Tauriel exhaled slowly. The dwarf's sudden speech had caught her by surprise. She nodded toward the small table on his left, which held a carved wooden pitcher and a drinking cup. “The water is clean.”
He curled his lip. “How do you expect me to lift the cup?”
The elves who had brought him in should have freed his hands. What was she, a servant to be attending to the prisoner's basic needs? Huffing out an impatient breath, she grabbed the keys from her belt and opened the cell door. “Stay where you are.”
He sat back and raised his eyebrows, his eyes fixed on her.
She sloshed some water into the cup and put it up to his lips. “Drink it.”
After a long moment, he drank. He gulped as much as he could, awkwardly, and she helped him drink until he’d emptied the pitcher. His panting breaths revealed how thirsty he’d been.
After a moment, the dwarf spoke. “Thank you.” In the lamplight, the sharp angles of his face looked resentful, as if he regretted having to show even a tiny amount of gratitude. “For the water.”
She shook her head, dismissing his thanks.
He watched her as if weighing her. Testing her. “The bonds on my wrists are tied too tightly. If you don’t free me soon, I’ll lose my hands.”
She rolled her eyes. Did this dwarf believe she would fall for a pathetic, childish trick like that? She’d come up with cleverer dodges before she’d climbed her first tree.
“You don’t believe me? Take off my gloves and see for yourself.”
Carefully she approached him and tugged off one glove. To her dismay, she saw that the hand was purpling with a lack of circulation. Or was that normal for dwarves? How was she supposed to know? The dwarf’s hand was bigger than she expected, callused, with square, blunt fingers and a wide thumb.
He glared at her over his shoulder. “You see? It would be more merciful just to cut them off.”
She flexed her own fingers, imagining what it would be like to lose the use of her hands, and felt a little sick.
Troubled, she gathered up the cup and pitcher and re-locked the cell door. Sitting down again in the shadowy nook intended for jailers, she tried to sort out what she should do.
Usually, the patrol would search their captives, remove all weapons, and bind them to ensure they could be led to the dungeon without any trouble. Once they were in their cell, the patrol released the bonds. This time, they hadn't done so. Had they just been careless, or was this prisoner extremely dangerous?
She strode down the corridor to the hidden door that led out into the forest, and whispered to the archer stationed there. “The patrol left the prisoner's hands bound. Go to the King, and ask if I am permitted to cut his bonds.”
She watched as he made his unhurried way through the trees to the front of the palace. Sethiel, his name was. He was an ambitious young elf, confident of his abilities and never eager to follow orders.