A/N: Hello! I am so sorry my updates are not a frequent or as regular as they have been in the past. Motivation has been flitting in and out like a bird along with other things I've been trying to deal with. I hope some of y'all are still out there! So ... things are going to be different from here on out. The main thing coming will still come but how they get to it will be different. Please let me know what y'all think! Reviews really do put a smile on my face and I could use some smiles these days.
Petal: Thanks for your continued support! And yes, he's really dark right now. It hurt a bit to write him like that.
BlueStrawberry: Hi and thank you for your kind words! I had fun with Rhae and Smaug and yes, she's FINALLY realized her feelings but things aren't over yet. :)
It's all Tolkien's and PJ's! Except Rhae and her mess. :)
"Rhaella. Rhaella, wake up."
A gentle hand ran across her brow and when she finally pried her eyes open she saw her mother sitting by her side.
"My dear girl. I am so sorry."
She didn't even ask what Miriel meant by that. "I have been so stubborn."
"Yes, you have but you come by it naturally I'm afraid. Still, that doesn't lessen the pain you feel now."
"I wasn't able to stop him from succumbing. It was either come with him and hope I could do that or stay in the town and save it in order to save us grief later on."
"You made the choice you needed to make. As you realized while still in Lake-town Thorin Oakenshield must overcome the gold sickness on his own or it will always threaten to overtake him again."
"Now I just have to get the dwarves to work with the Men before Azog shows up and even if I am successful at that will Thorin even want me? His words earlier, I know he is sick but there is always some truth to what people say when they're drunk or ill. Can I really stay here?"
"Can you go back to your old life now?" She pulled her to her feet. "Come with me."
It was her house. She looked at her mother. Miriel just nodded and motioned that she should move forward. Turning back she slowly approached the front porch. Everything looked as she remembered it: the flower pots with the remains of flowers she'd tried to keep alive, the porch swing with its faded pillows swaying gently in the breeze, a couple of David's Nerf guns. Peering through the large front window she spotted … herself standing in the middle of the living room staring at nothing. A moment later the other Rhae turned towards where the TV was sitting and sadness was written all over her face. She watched as her other self (past self? future self?) focused on what was on the TV. Rhae's heart hitched in her chest when she realized what she was watching: The Hobbit. There was a strangled sounding sob and the woman inside collapsed to the couch.
As an ache started to form in her chest there was the sound of an engine behind her and she turned to see a school bus come to a stop and an older David stepped off, giving a half hearted wave to someone as it pulled away again.
So this was something from the future.
He ambled up the short driveway, entering the house through the garage. He appeared inside seconds later and stood watching her other self sit with her head in her hands.
"You were watching it again, weren't you?" When there was no answer he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I told you we should never have returned, Mom."
"I thought it was for the best."
"Gandalf was right about your stubbornness. Now we're back here, pining for a life we lost, while those we love don't even remember us."
She stood up straight at her son's words and looked at her mother in horror. What did he mean by that?
"David is right, my daughter. If you return to your Earth you will remember everything but everyone here will only have the vaguest of memories of your existence."
"They … wouldn't know I was here? Or real?"
"You would seem like a memory they couldn't quite recall or something from a dream."
It would be as if she'd never even been here … except for the fact that Thorin and his nephews would live.
Everything shifted and another scene appeared before her. Instead of sitting alone with David in their small living room they were in a large room with a fire crackling in a huge fireplace. Thorin was there with his arm around her shoulders peering down at what she was holding in her arms. Filí and Kilí were seated on a sofa across from them and Dwalin and Balin were by the fire. There was joy and happiness here; it was so strong she could almost physically feel it. Her curiosity aroused she crept closer until she could see what her other self was holding … and let out a cry when she saw the dark haired baby with Thorin's unmistakable blue eyes staring back at her.
Everything shifted again.
Now she was standing above the main gate of Erebor. The Company was bunched around her and Thorin was in front of them all peering out at the land between the Mountain and Dale.
"It's an army. Thousands of orcs." His voice was laced with tension.
"How are we going to face an army, Uncle? There are just fifteen of us. We don't even have Gandalf here to help!" Kilí asked.
Rhae jolted up from the blankets, her heart racing.
What had she just seen? Had that really been - ? And the battle …
She quietly came to her feet, grabbing one of the candles that was flickering on the floor, and made her way out of the room trying to get her breathing under control and her heart to beat normally again. Seating herself at the large table in the council room she ran a hand over her face, wishing for once she had a mug of ale or something. Refusing to think about what she'd just seen in her dream until she was more in control of herself she sat in the silence, arms resting on the table, and watched the little candle flame as it danced back and forth in the mountain's air currents. When she felt more balanced she turned her thoughts to the dream.
Could she really stay here? Before leaving Rivendell David had even said he didn't want to leave though she'd brushed it off at the time. Could she really make that choice? Would Thorin still want her once he was free of the gold sickness? The image of her future self sitting alone in the small living room crying rose up before her. Her heart clinched at the thought of that pain. Could she willingly return to that life knowing what she had left here? Her mother's horrible revelation about what everyone in Middle Earth would remember about her flashed through her mind and the pain in her chest tightened. She would be left with her feelings while the man she loved wouldn't remember her at all. Laying her head on her arms a small sob escaped her lips. There wasn't really a choice to make, was there?
Thorin's harsh words still echoed in her head however. Even though she knew he was not himself they still stung and reiterated her feeling that dwarves returning to Erebor would have a hard time accepting her. A human with a child by another man? How would they accept her? How would David be treated – well or would he be shunned? Would Thorin eventually come to think she wasn't worth the trouble her presence might cause?
And the battle …
Up until right then she hadn't considered what all her actions might change in the events to come. Now some of the ramifications hit her like a truck and for a moment she felt sick as panic rose inside.
She needed to talk to someone immediately.
It took more time than she'd like but finally, after breakfast the next morning, she was able to convince Balin and Dwalin to help her clean one of the chambers and finally got them away from everyone else. She also asked Bilbo to come let them know if Thorin left his post above where they were searching in the Treasure Room. This was not a conversation she wanted him to hear.
"Alright, lass. You got us in here and I doubt its to clean," Balin said with a small smile.
"Yes. There are some things we need to discuss that I don't want anyone else hearing at the moment." She grabbed up a rag in order to have something in her hands as she did this … and it would look like they were cleaning if someone walked in. "I wasn't completely truthful when I told you where I was from. The Valar – damn them – would not allow me at the time to reveal much about my history. Now I am at liberty to tell you more and what I'm still nor allowed to mention I'm going to hope you'll be able to infer from what I can say."
"What do you mean you weren't truthful? Are you not the daughter of that queen?" Dwalin asked.
"Maybe that wasn't the best way to phrase that … I didn't tell you all the truth about where I am from. I am Queen Miriel's daughter and I was hidden away in preparation for this quest however I never told you where I was sent. It will sound strange but please believe me." She took a deep breath to gather her courage. "I was not hidden here on Middle Earth. I was sent to another planet, another dimension maybe – even I am not entirely sure where it is in relation to here – but things are quite different there."
"That would explain your aging," Balin mussed.
She nodded. "Where I lived this place, Middle Earth, was known to people but not as a real location. It was written about in a series of books, made into movies, and is considered something in the realm of fantasy. In that world nothing here truly exists; it is just a story many read for enjoyment."
They stared at her for a moment and she swallowed nervously. It was certainly a wild claim. She also hoped they wouldn't ask what a movie once; it was difficult enough to explain it all those years ago to Araden and it really wasn't relevant at the moment.
"What do you mean we're not real?" Dwalin's voice held an indignant note.
"I don't know how Tolkien, that is the man who wrote the stories, knew about this place but he wrote about it all – the people, the places, what has already happened and what is going to happen."
Balin's gaze was sharp. "You've known all these things were going to happen? And you didn't tell us?"
"I couldn't tell you but I tried my best to keep as much of the bad stuff from happening to the Company as I could."
"So you know … the future?"
"Yes, Dwalin, I do and that is why I was hidden where I was to grow up … so I would have that knowledge. The Valar knew what was coming and for whatever reason couldn't change it themselves so they brought me back to fix things."
"What's coming? You kept telling Thorin your job wasn't over even though we're back in the mountain," Balin asked.
"This is where I'm still not allowed to reveal all though I don't know why. Maybe the Valar don't think you'd believe me or perhaps they're afraid you – the Company – might rush into something before we're ready. I don't know. It would be so much simpler if I could but I'll do my best." She shook her head in frustration. "Azog is coming and he's bringing a massive army with him."
"An army?" Dwalin's voice was hard.
"Aye. A massive one. He will attack with the main force and once he's worn our army down Bolg will attack with a second wave. His plan is to … separate some of us so that it will be easier to … kill."
She looked expectantly at the brothers hoping they would get what she was trying to say. Just as she'd thought her words were stopped before she could reveal what happened to Thorin and his nephews. The frustration welled up in her and she wanted to hit something. Why can't I just tell them?
Balin's face was grim. "You mean Thorin and the lads." She nodded. "His goal has always been to wipe out the line of Durin."
"Where did he get such a large force?" Dwalin asked as his older brother began pacing.
"It was never made clear if he was able to round them all up himself or if he had help from … elsewhere. He has received aid and orders from a much more dangerous enemy before now and it's possible the huge numbers came from there."
They were silent a few minutes. Balin was the one to break it when he stopped his pacing.
"You said our army. Where did we get an army?"
"That is why I came to you. In the story in the world I came from Smaug destroyed Lake-Town forcing the survivors to take refuge in Dale, Thranduil arrived to help them, Bard tried to reason with Thorin over the payment that was promised, it didn't end well because of the presence of the elves, and he sent for Dain. Those three armies were here when Azog arrived. Because of my intervention Lake-Town is still standing and its people have no need for assistance from the elves. Without the elves on his doorstep Thorin won't feel threatened and may not send for Dain. Right now when Azog shows up there will be no one to face him." She met each of their gazes. "We have to find a way to get the men and elves, not to mention Dain, here and quickly."
It was a relief to get all that off her shoulders though laying it out so plainly for them really brought home how much she might still have messed up when she thought she was helping. Should she have let Smaug destroy Lake-Town? Then the elves would show up … no. Surely the Valar would not have wanted all those people to die. They must expect something else out of her and that realization scared her. Anything from here on out … she would have no knowledge of. Things were already very different and there was no way of knowing what was coming. Rhae suddenly wanted to cry. There was the distinct possibility she'd made everything worse.
"Someone will have to go talk to Bard and Thranduil. We most likely don't have time to send someone to the Iron Hills." Balin paused and looked at her. "How much time do we have, lass?"
"I'm not entirely sure. I think we got to the mountain quicker than what was written in the story so that may have gained us some time. Perhaps a week or two?"
The elderly dwarf began pacing again while she and Dwalin watched him. They couldn't think of anything to add to the conversation at this point and knew it was best to just let Balin think through the situation.
"Rhae, you will have to go talk to Bard and Thranduil. You are the only one they are going to listen to besides being the one with the knowledge of what's to come. We can let one or two from the Company go with you for protection and explain it as wanting to scout out the area to see if there are any threats facing the mountain." She bit her lip as she considered his plan.
"That should work. Thranduil at least could sense there was more to my story than I was letting on when I met with him so he won't be hard to convince."
"Good. Now for Dain … we will have to let Filí in on our plans because we will need him for this part."
"You're not sending the lad to find Dain are you, brother?"
"No but he should be able to speak to the ravens, being a direct son of Durin, and heir to Erebor. He can tell Dain that he needs to summon as large of an army as possible and head here immediately. He's stubborn but hopefully won't ignore a message from his 'king.'"
The three of them were silent for several minutes as they each thought through what Balin had come up with. Rhae came to the conclusion it was a good idea and probably had a good possibility of working … except for …
"Will Thorin allow anyone to leave the mountain?" she asked.
"Aye. I believe if we insist it is necessary for the continued safety of Erebor he shouldn't be suspicious or angry. Protecting the gold is his highest priority after finding the Arkenstone," Balin assured her.
"About that … the Arkenstone …"
Dwalin frowned. "What do you know?"
"I can't be sure if things still happened as they did in the movies but I do believe it was found some time ago."
"Then why wasn't it given to Thorin?" Dwalin hissed, lowering his voice quite a bit.
She raised an eyebrow. "Do you really think it would be for the best if he had possession of it right now?" He jerked a bit in surprise but didn't argue with her.
"Rhae is right. That stone crowns all, is the summit of all this wealth and bestows power upon he who bares it. But it would surely make his … sickness worse. Perhaps it is best if it remains lost for the time being," Balin said with a sad nod.
Dwalin's shoulders slumped and it was like a knife to her heart to see the gruff warrior looking so defeated. She took a deep breath and stood straighter. If she was here to fix a mistake then she was going to fix it despite what other problems she may have thrown in her own path.
"Alright. So we need to speak with Filí and get me on my way to Lake-Town. Time is not on our side."