Chapter 24

Thorin gazed down at his new young wife and felt an overwhelming sense of possessiveness toward the young woman who was now fully his wife. She had changed him. He knew she would call what he felt for her was love but for him the word felt too small and simple.

Bella had changed everything for him. He had lived a bless life until the demon had burned through his life, destroying his family, friends and home. Afterward he had lived a life of struggling to provide a safe place for his people and aching for revenge. Then he had met Bella, like a cleansing breeze she had blown into his life, making him think of a future less grim and full of possibilities. She had no real idea how cruel and savage life could be in middle earth and he intended that she never discover those truths for herself. He would continue to protect her from those who would use her for their own gain.

He let this fingers trail threw her light curls and picking up a curl he rubbed it between his fingers savouring the silken feel. He brushed her hair away from her bare back and leaning forward he trailed kisses down the skin he had bared and then placed a kiss upon each cheek. Seeing that she didn't stir, from his touch he grinned smugly.

He had taken her many times throughout the night, teaching her the various ways they could find pleasure in each other. The last time he had used his lips and tongue on her sensitive skin to bring her to fulfillment, after which she had slipped away into a deep sleep. Although he had found his own satisfaction many times as well, within her tight body, he could feel his body stirring to life once more, as he viewed her bare beauty.

He moved away from her and began dressing. Once dressed, he buckled on his sword and walked toward the bed to gaze down at her one last time before he left. He strongly suspected that she already carried his child but knew she was not ready yet to face the truth of how quickly they had conceived a child together so quickly after they were wed.

Dwalin and Balin were waiting for him outside his private chambers. They both stood as they saw him emerge and close the thick stone door behind himself.

"Give me your report Balin." Thorin asked as they all walked toward the throne room.

"The restoration of Erebor is continuing well. The payments to men, elves and dwarves have been given as you instructed. The elves were particularly pleased with your additional gift of blue diamonds as well as the white star diamonds. Food supplies are low and more supplies will be needed soon. The queen and I have arranged for envoys to be sent out to all the farming villages near and far that if they come here to sell goods then they will be given a good price for all their wares."

Dwalin seeing that his brother was done continued on where he had left off. "The outer wall is slowly being repaired. The number of dwarves within Erebor continues to grow every day and all are willing to help lend a hand in repairing the damage done by the slug. I will begin training of the new royal guard today and I will need you to appoint captains. The elves and men have finally all left, I gave them your regrets for not seeing them off, and I had scouts follow them to the edge of the forest. You will need to meet with them soon to finalize the truce."

They had reached the outer doors of the throne room. Thorin stopped and looked to Balin. "The queen will need to rest for several more days, after which I will need for you to instruct her on more of her duties as queen. You must ensure that she does nothing to laborious." He then looked to Dwalin. "I will appoint the captains today, give me a list of names you would recommend, and as soon as the outer wall is completed I want a secondary outer wall created. This new wall will be made in preparation for the war to come."

"What war?" questioned both brothers together?

"One of Bella's early visions was of a war yet to come. The dark lord will rise once more and all peoples of middle earth will rise together to fight this war. Erebor will be ready for this war. I will not have dwarves slaughtered again by dark forces; we will become a haven for all dwarves."
Thorin then entered the throne room and made his way to the throne. The crowd of waiting dwarves parted for him. He recognized many dwarves from his younger years when his grandfather sat of the throne. Taking his seat on the throne, he waited while introductions were made and requests were put forward to him regarding the many matters of the Erebor.

Bella yawned, stretched, and reached for Thorin but found only an empty cold space where he used to be. Raising her head she looked about but found no one. Leaving bed she went to the bathing room, where she quickly washed, and dried her skin, noticing two small red marks on her hips from where Thorin had gripped her tightly. She was curious to know if Thorin had marks on him from her as well.

Humming a happy tune, she hurried to find some clothes to wear. Most of her clothes were new, and made of very fine quality but she was looking for something simple that she could work in. Then tucked in a corner of her clothes chest she found a familiar blue dress. Pulling out the dress that she had made with her own hands when she had lived in the Shire, she shook out the wrinkles and slipped it on over her head. Picking up a gold comb from the table, she combed out the knots from her hair before quickly dividing her hair and braiding each side loosely, the ends of the braids she tied with fat ribbons. She noticed her crown sitting where on the table but decided to leave it. The only jewelry she wore would be Thorin's ring on her finger as well as the chain around her neck, today she decided. Finding some dainty brown leather slippers, she put them on before open the door the leaving to go find her husband.

As she wandered about the palace, she saw many new faces as they continued to clean and organize the palace. Approaching one your girl who was busy scrubbing the floor, she knelt down and asked, "Good morning, have you seen Thorin pass this way?"

Bella tried not to laugh when, her mouth gapped open and closed for a moment before she bowed her head and mumbled, "The King rose early this morning and had been holding court in the throne room."

"Thank you. What is your name?"

"Ruby, you're Majesty."

Bella still not used to being addressed as such or seeing anyone bowing to her tried a different approach, ``you are one of the new maids that works just for the palace?''

"Yes, your majesty." She replied without looking up.

"Well then, since we are going to be seeing so much of each other how about we be a little less formal. Please address me as Bella."

The young maid, glanced up once before bowing her head and shaking it negatively in a nervous manner.

"I am afraid that will not be allowed", replied Balin as he approached them. Looking down at the young maid, he added, "that will be all Ruby".

Bella watched as she hurried to collect her scrub brush and bucket before quickly rushing away.

"Bella, you must not be so informal. You are now queen of the most powerful kingdom of middle earth; you are not in the Shire anymore."

Bella wanted to argue but knew that Balin was only trying to guide her in this new life with Thorin.

"Come with me Bella. I take it you are looking for Thorin. I will lead you to him."

Bella let Balin guide her to Thorin as he continued to steer her from the palace to the throne room.

"Life is so different here. I don't know if I will ever grow used to all these bowing heads and bent knees."

As they walked together through the hallways, Bella watched as guards stood at attention when they saw her while servants either dipped their heads or curtseyed to her.

"Thorin told me to ask you to explain what my duties as queen would be, as you advised his both his grandfather but also his grandmother at times."

Balin smiled and replied, "Thorin is being generous. I was one of many in the palace who advised the line of Durin, but I did observe the role of the queen. Thorin's mother was a quiet woman, who loved her family but spent much of her life in seclusion, coming out only when duty demanded it. Still she ensured that the palace ran smoothly. She oversaw the purchase of all foods for the palace, clothes for servants, and made sure that all servants where paid properly. Once Thorin was born, he was raised mostly by his father."

Seeing how silent Bella had grown and the worried look on her face, he stopped walking and turned toward her. "Bella you are not expected to know everything right away. Thorin and I will advise you until you can do everything on your own. Everyone in Erebor wants you to succeed in your new life."

"I just want to do a good job, Balin. I would not want Thorin to regret marrying me." Bella felt overwhelmed for a moment thinking about all the different things she would need to master in order to run a palace." Then she felt familiar strong arms encircle her and pull her against a hard chest.

"Did Balin tell you about your most important job?" asked Thorin.

"No, what is that?" replied Bella as she leaned into his embrace and breathed in his strong clean scent.

"I was leaving that to you. I take my leave now." Balin replied before walking away, a broad smile across his face, as he observed the happy couple.

Bella let Thorin draw her away into a small alcove off one of the many stairways. The alcove had deep blue banners on the walls and a large stone bench. She noticed four guards stood guard as they sat down on the bench, providing extra privacy.

"Why must we always have guards within Erebor?"

"Dwalin insisted, and he has always been overly causous when it comes to protection of the crown and now that will extend to you as the queen. Did you not notice your own guards?" He asked the question while he drew her deeper into his embrace and kissed the side of her neck, enjoying the way she trembled from his touch.

"I thought you would rest longer. I was hoping to finish my work and join you once more in our chambers." He told her after she pulled away from him enough to turn and face him.

She smiled up at him. "I would have enjoyed waking up in your arms instead of an empty bed. Now tell me what my most important duty is."

"I would have thought that is obvious. You are to be the mother of the future king." He spread a hand over her stomach and gently stroked her for a brief moment. "Already you could be carrying our son. Did you know that twins are a common occurrence in my family?''

Bella wanted to grab something heavy and hit him on the head but instead decided to be a little mischievous instead. "Did you know that girls are more common than boys in mine?"

She felt him tense and then she continued on, "I have so many female cousins, a veritable swarm of girls in pink dresses at family gatherings. My mother was very surprised when my brother was born." Looking up at him, she gave him an innocent smile. "Just think of all the suitors that will be lined up at the gate to meet the daughters of the great Thorin Oakensheild."

Thorin took one look at the smile on her sweet lips and knew she was getting back at him for his remark about a son. "You think I would not cherish a girl as much as a boy? Little do you know woman, the years I spend with you I thought I would never have. Be it a girl or boy that you bring forth, know that it will be cherished by both of us."

Bella let him kiss her lightly for a moment before she took a step back and asked, "So Balin was telling me a little of my responsibilities, and I have a few questions."

They started walking again and Bella let him lead her down the hallways, until they reached a double doorway of the main dining hall.

"Ask me anything."

"Do I have your full support?"

"Yes, of course Bella. Why do you ask?"

"No reason. Can I have some space of my own within Erebor?"

He paused now before answering. "How much space? The entire palace is yours?"

"Oh I know it is just that I wanted to plant a garden and…"

Thorin relaxed and smiled at his young wife.

"There are caves on the outer edge Erebor that are large with rich black soil lining the bottom of them. You need only tell Balin what you are seeking and he will ensure you are given the aid you need from others. You are queen now Bella. You need only direct others and they will give you the garden you require. I will not have you pushing yourself to hard. You need more rest."

A servant came then with a message from Dwalin for Thorin, giving her a chase kiss and instructions once more to eat and rest more he left her to go and join Dwalin.

Shaking her head, she went to find her brother and found him in the kitchen. There seated at a table eating a large meal, he did not seem happy to see her coming to join him.

"I see you have finally come to see how I fare sister. I see you faithful watch dog of a husband is not with you." Bilbo commented sullenly.

"Careful brother what you say for even though I am your sister, they will not spare you if the dwarves hear you speak ill of their king. Citizens of Erebor are fiercely loyal and dwarves can be quickly angered when provoked."

Seating herself beside him, she tried not to let his sour mood ruin her day. "I came to see if you would like to spend some time together."

"Are you sure you can spare me the time." He replied sourly.

Sighing loudly, she tried again, "Can we not get along for the sake of our parents?"

"Can you not see that our parents would want me to take you away from this shadowed place? I feel like something is pushing me to take you from this place, like our parents will not rest easy knowing you are here."

Bella watched as her brother became more and angry at each word he spoke. He rubbed his head in an agitation. Feeling her own anger rise she stood up and cursed herself a fool for trying to reach out to him.

"My parents would want me to be happy. I was alone in the Shire, pestered daily by suitors more interested in my home and property then me. Here I have a husband and friends who love and cherish me. It is time you leave the past and see that I am a grown woman. I had so many hopes for when you returned, but I see now that it was childish for me to hope that we could be close after so many years apart. "

Instead of apologizing as she hoped, he only continued to rub his head with both hands.

Pushing herself, away from the table she stumbled away, deciding to go looking for Balin or one of her other dwarven brothers, anyone who would be a friendly face.

After looking what felt like hours for a friendly face, she gave up and headed back to the palace and dismissing her maids, she slipped out of her dress and put on a simple white nightgown trimmed in white lace. Seeing a goblet of warm wine and some biscuits laid ready for her, she took a deep sip. After swallowing the wine almost immediately, she felt numbness take over her body. The goblet slipped from her cold fingers and clattered loudly on the floor. Falling to her knees, she tried to grab onto a chair but could not find the strength to raise her arms, as she slumped face first into the soft rug at her feet.

Bella heard the outer door to the room open but struggled to keep her eyes open, it felt too difficult to even try. She never felt her head being lift by her hair or being carelessly dropped down, nor did she feel rough hands tie her hands being her back with her own necklace.