Nineteen

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I love you.

Three words, that's all they were. Yet coming from Thorin, they became my world. Before coming to Fennhill knowing that I'd join the dwarves to Dunland, I wanted so much to be independent, to prove to everyone that I could be just like them - resilient, stubborn and willing to do all this alone for after all, I had my craft to keep me busy, just as it had always kept me single-mindedly busy for as long as I could remember.

But those three words changed all that, and now all I wanted was Thorin by my side through it all, the mere thought of being without him making my chest ache, as if a deep pit had opened up inside me on its own accord, driven only to seal itself with him next to me. It was horrible. I hated feeling like this, but I could not deny that with him, I also felt complete - as if I was never going to be alone from here on. Didn't Mahal create partners for the dwarven lords he created?  Maybe Thorin was mine.

"I wish we could stay here forever," I whispered as Thorin kissed me again, his tongue lazily tracing the outline of my lips and making me shiver as my belly knotted up again. We'd been lying in bed for some time just holding each other, trying to ignore the sounds of merriment from the main building. It was a reminder that we needed to be somewhere other than here snuggled in bed. It was decadent, Thorin said. After months on the road and having to sleep only on hard ground, sleeping on a real bed - a soft one at that - was luxury that he missed from home. Somehow Master Renner's news that he had received enough gold  to warrant some much needed luxury for the wedding party had lifted the dwarves' spirits.  Even king Thror, Thorin said, had finally cracked a rare smile when he stood before a luxurious bed in the midst of the inn’s best room.  Thorin wondered if his uncle, King Gror of the Iron Hills, had sent it, for if he had, his messenger would certainly have stayed for the ceremony.  But Master Renner said the messenger had left as soon as he had arrived.  

“It came from the Iron Hills was all Master Renner knew,” Thorin said.  “I was at the forge the whole time with Frerin when he came and left.”

I bit my lip, not wanting to say anything that would lead to the truth.  So what if men, not dwarves, had paid for such a celebration?  I had seen the unbridled happiness during the wedding, just as Thorin and I could hear the sounds of music and laughter wafting from the dining hall.  Bernd was right.  No one needed to know the truth.

“But we need to join everyone else before Bernd and Jürgen send out a search party for you,” Thorin smiled, rolling over to his back and sitting up on the side of the bed.  I watched the muscles of his broad back ripple as he moved, bringing my hand across it to feel its warmth and smoothness, catching a lock of hair that had come loose from its braid.  I saw the marks of my fingernails against his shoulder blades, relieved that I did not cut through his skin.  

Thorin’s skin prickled and he shivered.  When I traced the dip of his spine along the middle of his back, his hand shot behind him and caught my wrist.  He turned to face me, smiling playfully.  “Any more of that, my dearest, and we’ll never make it out of here.”

We washed and dressed, smoothing out the wrinkles from our clothes and braiding loose plaits, doing our best to look as if nothing had happened in the past hour or so.  I pulled open the curtains to look at my faint reflection on the glass window. Outside it was dark, the blinking lights of the city below us.  

But I hadn’t been the only one leaving marks on Thorin’s body.  For he, too, had left a mark along the base of my neck and I brought my hand up to cover it, blushing.  

“I can’t go into the dining hall like this!” I exclaimed as I let go of the curtain and turned around to face Thorin.  “What will they think?”

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