Third Time’s the Charm (3/3)
Third Time’s the Charm is a story prompted by @anjhope1’s ask. Thank you very much for your patience - I hope you will enjoy the three chapters I prepared for you. Enjoy! 💙💙💙
Relationships: Thorin x Reader
As always, you can read this and other stories I wrote on AO3 (link in bio).
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
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The third time you saw the King Under the Mountain in Erebor. But meeting him wasn’t easy.
When you arrived at the green marble gates of the dwarven kingdom, all your attention was focused on taking in all the details of this breathtaking structure that fitted perfectly with the face of the mountain. The level of craftsmanship of the dwarven Master Builders who created this marvel was greater than you imagined. And now the King Under the Mountain wanted you to enter his domain and work on some special project of his… You knew you were a skilled architect, but something told you that you had quite a bit to learn if you wanted your skills to match theirs.
The feeling only escalated when you were allowed to enter the Lonely Mountain. The guards frowned at you until you showed them your invitation. After that, they were all politeness and deep bows. Standing on a large platform, you didn’t know whether to look up, down or glance to the sides. The architecture of this place made your head spin. There were uncountable staircases, walkways, ambulatories, alcoves, tunnels and lifts; everything breathtaking, meticulously planned and executed with a great attention both to detail and aesthetic. Unlike you suspected, Erebor wasn't a dark and cold place, on the contrary: it was pleasantly warm, filled with the light of thousands of cleverly placed lamps, and bustling with life. Dozens of Dwarves went about their business, but none of them seemed to notice you. Wasn’t there supposed to be someone waiting for you? You looked around, wondering which of the walkways or staircases you should take. Which of them would lead you to your destination?
“Excuse me,” you asked a portly lady in a beautiful purple gown, “Where can I find Thorin? Thorin Oakenshield? The king? Your king, I mean...”
While you were mentally facepalming yourself, the lady frowned at you haughtily, said some throaty-sounding words in her language and walked away. Damn it, this didn’t go too well.
“My lady! Here you are!” someone called in Westron. Finally a language you could understand!
A golden-haired Dwarf in dark clothes adorned with a geometric pattern appeared before you and made a courtly bow, the beads in his moustache braids clinking against each other. His impressive mane of hair, noble profile and blue gaze somehow reminded you of the king of Erebor. It looked like this place was full of handsome Dwarves.
“Hello, um…” you start, trying not to ogle him too much.
“Fili, at your service, Lady of Gondor!” he exclaims. “It’s an honor to have you here. I hope you didn't have to wait too long, it’s been very busy here. There’s been some trouble in the forges, and… Ah, never mind, let me take you to your quarters.”
“It is nice to meet you, Master Fili,” you reply. “What do you mean, my quarters? I was invited by your king to discuss a project…”
“Of course you were. But it will take some time. Unc--,” he clears his throat, “The king is very busy today, you will meet him tomorrow. Until then, let me be your guide to Erebor. And if you need anything, just let me know!”
When you reached your quarters, the place took your breath away. It looked more like a chamber fit for a royal than a guest, luxurious and immensely comfortable, but Fili assured you it was an usual sign of dwarven hospitality.
You ate a delicious lunch and then took a tour of the dwarven kingdom with the cheerful golden-haired Dwarf. He answered all of your questions, showed you several interesting places and shared some great anecdotes that made you laugh. You couldn’t have wished for a better companion.
When the next day came, you were informed by a courtier that the king sent his apologies, but had to postpone the meeting due to urgent matters. You were left to your own devices until the afternoon when Fili appeared, and took you to the famous markets of Erebor. You had a great time together, you even bought a few trinkets and snacks, but you kept having bad feelings about meeting the king. Fili assured you that everything was well and you would meet the King Under the Mountain on the day after, but you still remembered your last encounter with Thorin Oakenshield, including the look on his face when you invited him to your home. Let’s face it, that was one embarrassing blunder.
Third time’s the charm, as they say. After you had your breakfast on the next day, a courtier led you to the king’s office, asking you to wait. And so you waited. And waited. And waited. You were so nervous, you couldn’t even focus on your surroundings. Finally, a side door opened and the king entered the chamber, greeting you with a curt nod.
Thorin Oakenshield looked even more handsome than you remembered, wearing royal black robes with golden embroideries, beads glittering in his dark hair that cascaded majestically down his shoulders. This was the king of the greatest dwarven realm, not a Dwarf you’d meet by chance in one of Dale's dark alleys. As he set his ice-blue eyes on you, you felt a familiar shiver running down your spine.
“Your majesty,” you made a mandatory bow, just like the courtier who brought you there had told you to do.
“Thank you for your patience, Lady of Gondor,” he said in his low, velvety voice. “And for accepting the invitation to my kingdom.”
As he said those words, his eyes again rested on your face for a few moments and you had to tell your heart to stop beating so fast, even though his face looked as if it had been carved of stone. His manner was very formal, as if you had never met before. You sighed. Was there anything else you could have expected? Of course not. You made a very bad first impression and now you had to make up for it. By inviting you to Erebor Thorin Oakenshield gave you a second chance and you didn’t want to ruin it.
“I’m honored to be invited to the legendary Erebor. It is even more beautiful than I imagined,” your words were rewarded with a benevolent smile. It was clear that he was proud of this place.
“I hope you will help us make it even more beautiful,” he admitted.
“I will try, if you deem me worthy,” you lowered your gaze, happy that he wasn’t able to read your thoughts.
“Your work speaks for itself,” Thorin Oakenshield said matter-of-factly. “That is why I chose you. Let us not waste any more time.”
He unrolled a large roll of parchment on his desk, revealing a meticulously made layout plan of a… you weren’t sure what it was. You gave him a puzzled look.
“My sister is going to marry soon. She and her future husband, Dwalin, need new, spacious chambers in the royal wing. Here you can see the plan of the part that needs to be renovated, or rather rebuilt. There is not much left of it after the dragon’s…. visit,” a shadow passed over his face at the recollection of this event.
“The damage is quite extensive. Here, here and here,” he pointed at the parchment, “ there are gaping holes into the abyss of the Mountain. Those rooms,” he pointed again, “were completely burned, and there is a heap of rubble in place of this part of the royal wing.”
You were staring at the plans with your eyes wide open in disbelief. Had the king of Erebor just offered you to work on one of the most important parts of his kingdom? The royal wing, the private living space of the ruling family, the place that should awe all the visitors with its beauty and splendour?
“And... you... would like... me to do it?” you heard yourself say. “But… there are many gifted dwarven Master Builders, I’m sure…”
“I’ll understand if you think this is a task below you, but my sister wished to have her halls built in the newest Gondorian style, the white stucco and so on,” he furrowed his brow. “This is my wedding gift to her and her husband and I intend to fulfill her wishes. Do you know what King Bard said when I asked him to recommend the best architect for this task?”
You sighed. Of course.
“‘Ask for the Gondorian?’” you replied in defeat, once again reminding yourself why you were invited here.
“Exactly. So I did, and I found you,” he started pacing back and forth, his hands clasped behind his back. “Money is not an issue. I am willing to pay you the equivalent of your rates, tripled, in gold, including all the costs. You will receive the best dwarven workers, stonemasons and engineers to help you, and anything else you might need.”
Thorin Oakenshield stopped pacing and turned towards you, his icy-blue eyes piercing you to the very core of your soul.
“The question is, are you interested, or should I send a letter to Turgon, the Steward of Gondor, asking him to send me an architect who is more interested in the task?”
This was a very generous offer. An opportunity of a lifetime. Judging by how easily the king of Dwarves offered his terms, you were sure that with a bit of haggling you could have raised your payment even more. And if this was any other client of yours, you would probably have done it without thinking. But this, this was somehow different. This was the legendary Thorin Oakenshield and his kingdom. Here, you would have the chance to learn the secrets of the dwarven stonemasonry and engineering as well as explore this place thoroughly - a feat that none of the people of Dale and probably neither of Gondor had achieved.
“I am, your majesty. I will help you with this project,” the words rolled out of your mouth confidently.
The king simply nodded in acknowledgment. You noticed a shadow of a smile hiding in his beard that somehow made you want to give him a big smile in return, but you schooled your face in a professional expression, determined not to do anything stupid again and ruin your chances for working on this prestigious project forever.
When you were leaving the king’s office, you were grinning widely, making a passing courtier look at you in surprise. Accepting this job was the correct decision to make, you congratulated yourself. And it had absolutely nothing to do with how blue Thorin’s eyes were as he rested his gaze on your face.
Renovating a large part of the royal wing was the most demanding task in your life. You had to learn as much as you could about the dwarven construction methods, spend countless hours with the best Master Builders, engineers and stonemasons of Erebor, discuss every single detail of your plan and then actually start executing it. Days passed like hours; weeks passed like days. The work was both demanding and rewarding, but you did everything you could to finish it on time. You only wished you could see Thorin more often.
Thorin. You didn’t know when you started thinking of him this way, as a person, not as a great king, an official figure. Perhaps it was on that day when you accidentally ran into him one early morning when you hurried to work through one of the corridors in the royal wing? He was in his morning clothes, wearing a simple tunic and linen trousers, but the regal air around him was unmistakable. You still remember how fast you were walking with a mug of tea in your hand, turning around the corner, and how hard his body was when you collided into one another. As hard as rock. The impact knocked the breath out of your lungs and you lost your balance, spilling the warm liquid on his tunic. You gasped and would have fallen to the floor, but a pair of strong arms kept you in place.
You blinked. Yes, a pair of strong arms. And a pair of wide, dwarven hands resting on your upper arms. You could feel the warmth of his skin through the fabric of your blouse. Lowering your gaze you saw the handsome face of the Dwarf that has been haunting you in your dreams since you saw him for the first time.
“Thorin…” his name slipped out of your mouth and you cursed yourself for being so indecorous. At the same moment, your eyes widened, seeing the dark stain on his clothes. Great. A double disaster.
“Your majesty, forgive me. I didn’t see where I was going.”
“If you are as swift with your work as you are when walking, the royal wing will be finished quite soon I imagine!” he gave out a low chuckle and you couldn’t take your eyes away from his face, his white teeth contrasting with the lush darkness of his beard. When he smiled, he seemed even more handsome.
“Your tunic… I am so sorry,” you mumbled, quickly taking out a handkerchief and frantically patting the fabric on his chest with it. “Have I burned you? I swear, I didn’t see you walking…”
Sometimes when you were stressed, you would blab a lot. Like at that very moment. You scolded yourself again, trying to avert the damage. As your hand started moving across his tunic, you realized that your fingers brushed against his pectoral. Perhaps it was true what they said and the Dwarves were really made from rock, a thought crossed your mind as your fingers traced the curves of his muscles with only a layer of fabric between you. You swallowed. Why was it so hot in here?
“My lady,” you heard Thorin’s velvety voice as one of his hands covered yours, keeping it against his chest. His very warm chest. Did he have a furnace inside of his body? You swallowed again and lowered your eyes. You were in deep, deep trouble.
“My lady,” he repeated. “Please, there is no need. I am well.”
“But the tea was hot, are you sure…?” your cheeks were burning and you didn’t dare to look him in the eyes. Instead, you focused on his hand; those long yet thick fingers, the powerfully looking palm and the strong wrist of a warrior.
“I am sure,” the hand you observed, Thorin’s hand, lifted yours from his chest, moved it slowly to his face and then his sensually curved lips brushed against it, sending a myriad of shivers from your palm straight to your spine.
Thorin. Oakenshield. Has. Just. Kissed. Your. Hand.
Your heart made a flip.
The handkerchief fell out of your hand and glided down to the floor.
You gave out a small gasp of surprise.
“Forgive me,” you mumbled.
And then you ran.
Bad luck comes in threes.
At least that’s what someone told you many years ago.
One: you disgraced yourself in the eyes of Thorin Oakenshield by inviting him to your own home. Shameless.
Two: you slammed blindly into him and spilled hot tea all over his (very well honed) chest. Rude.
Three: when he decorously kissed your hand, you ran away as fast as you could. Crazy.
What’s worse, you couldn’t stop thinking about his eyes, his hands, his touch and his voice. You didn’t even dare thinking about his lips, too ashamed of the thoughts that might appear in your head.
It was clear: there was no hope for you. You had wanted Thorin to… well, never mind what you wanted. It wouldn’t happen anyway, not after the latest disaster when you made a fool out of yourself. It’s been a week since you attacked the king of Erebor with tea and you should be probably thanking the Valar that no one put you to jail for an attempted assasination or something. Everyone knew that the Dwarves were very touchy when it came to their honour and the honour of their king. To be honest, you were surprised that none of his advisors asked you for a “talk” to tell you to pack your things for offending the crown or something like that. At least not yet.
You decided to keep your profile low, work as much and as fast as you could, and to minimize your presence in the corridors of the royal wing at the times of the day when it was likely to meet the king himself. Avoiding him was the safest option, or at least that was what you told yourself.
Everything seemed to work well, you were making progress renovating the royal wing, but then a serious problem appeared.
Remember the huge, gaping holes where the floors and walls used to be? Judging by the size of them, it was probably where the dragon pulled his huge body through when leaving the mountain, destroying even the hardest marble on his way. And finding an equivalent that would be sturdy enough to guarantee the structural integrity of the whole royal wing seemed to be a hopeless endeavour. For some reason, whatever you and the Dwarven Master Builders came up with, turned out to be useless. None of the gondorian nor ereborean techniques would work, you tried everything. The best engineers of Erebor shook their heads and pulled at their beards in worry. It simply could not be done, the damage was too extensive, they said. They even recommended rebuilding the whole royal wing in another part of the Mountain, but you wouldn’t give up that easily.
After the last disastrous meeting with Thorin Oakenshield you tended to work in the night (lesser chance of accidentally meeting the king), and it was after midnight when you finally came up with a brilliant idea. Or rather, a very obvious one - for someone from your world.
Making concrete shouldn’t be the problem, all the ingredients could be found in Erebor, but you needed the steel rods that would reinforce the structure. You didn’t know much about dwarven metallurgy, but heard a lot about the Forges of Erebor. Perhaps the Dwarves could produce the reinforcement rods according to your specifications? There was a chance that it could work! You jumped up, and, without thinking, ran to the Forges. Master Fili showed you the entrance to that place once, but you’ve never had a chance to visit it yourself. Many of the Dwarves knew of you by then so you were sure that the Forge Masters would help you solve the problem. Only when you stopped in the doorway did you realize what the time was. Two hours past midnight. The huge cavern seemed to be almost empty. Only a few of the great furnaces were working, but it was a spectacular sight anyway. Unfortunately, as you walked through the cavern, you couldn’t find any Dwarves there. It was very probable that there were no night shifts, everyone was asleep and you should go to bed too. You were about to turn back when you heard a sound of metal being hammered. So there was someone there! Someone who could help! Following the sounds, you quickly reached a workbench at the side of the cavern and saw a dark silhouette of a dwarven blacksmith raising his hammer into the air and then hitting a long piece of metal with great strength.
In the light from the forges you could see the Dwarf’s back muscles dancing, his powerful arm moving through the air with unrelenting precision, his long dark hair gathered in a bun at the back of his head.
It was getting very hot and your cheeks were burning. From the heat, of course. No wonder that the blacksmith took off his shirt, the temperature was rising very fast. Trying to stop ogling his amazing shoulder-to-hip ratio, you took a step back, your courage suddenly fizzling away. Perhaps it was better not to disturb him.
And then you stepped on something, lost your balance and fell on the ground with a horrible cacophony of a dozen metal blades and axes falling to the floor.
The blacksmith immediately stopped working and turned around towards the source of noise. His ice-blue eyes found you at once. The beads on his temple braids clinked. Thorin tilted his head and looked straight at you.
“Lady of Gondor?” he put away his tools and stepped ahead, his gloved arm reaching out towards you. “What are you doing here?”
You groaned internally, but took his hand. As he helped you to get up, you couldn’t help but notice all the glorious details of his torso. There was coarse dark hair, and those muscles, and tattoos, and more muscles, and some smudges, and his skin glistening in the firelight. It was getting very, very hot.
“Thank you, your majesty,” you started, unable to say anything more, but very much able to stare at his glorious body.
“You may call me Thorin,” you heard his voice. “You have already called me that once and I must say I rather enjoy it.”
“Thank you, your m--, Thorin,” you mumbled, feeling your cheeks burn. You couldn’t believe it. Shouldn’t he be distancing himself from you, that shameless, rude and crazy woman of Men?
“I didn’t want to disturb you, I only wanted to find a Forge Master…” you explained.
“At this hour?” he lifted his eyebrow and mysterious sparks danced in his eyes.
“I… I have been working.”
“Ah, so that is why I have not seen you for a while,” he nodded, as if to himself. “What do you need a Forge Master for, if I may ask?”
“There is, or rather there was this construction problem, but you don’t need to worry, your-- Thorin,” you bit on your lip. “I believe I’ve solved it. But I wanted to ask a Forge Master some questions to be sure.”
“Feel free to ask, then,” Thorin gave you an encouraging smile.
You looked around and then back at him.
“You… you are a Forge Master?” your eyes widened. “But… aren’t you a king?”
“It is good for a king to know a thing or two about forging metals. Especially if a said king is a dwarf,” he grinned at you playfully. This was the side of him you never knew existed. “Forgive me for my state of undress, please, speak, I am listening.”
With those words, he walked to a nearby bucket filled with water and splashed it all over his torso. Water drops ran along the hills and valleys of his broad back and you had to avert your gaze for a few moments in order to keep your sanity.
“I… I would like to know,” you cleared your throat, “whether your forges can produce rods made of a specific kind of steel.”
When you looked back at him, Thorin was dressed in a plain dark blue tunic, his hair damp. You let out a quiet sigh of relief mixed with disappointment. But he was dressed now, it was good, right? It was the heat that muddled your brain, it had to be.
Somehow you managed to trick your brain into work mode and got into a discussion with Thorin about the correct specifications of the reinforcement rods. Who would have thought, a king who knew so much of forging and metallurgy?! You tried to not admit it to yourself, but you’ve always found intelligent, knowledgeable men to be very alluring.
“I believe we can make it work, my lady,” Thorin said.
“What a relief!” a big smile appeared on your face. “Now I can finally go to sleep! I spent many sleepless nights working on this issue.”
“Then sleep is definitely what you deserve. Will you allow me to walk you back to your chambers?” his low voice rang in the air.
“It would be my pleasure!” you blurted out, still excited about solving the problem. Only after you had said it did you realize what it meant. “But… you are a king, would it be proper…?”
He gave out a chuckle that pleasantly rang in your ears.
“Proper? May I remind you that you were the one who invited me to your home in front of everyone?” he grinned.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what it meant back then,” you looked away in embarrassment.
“I gathered as much. You are of Men, you don’t know our customs.”
“I made a really bad first impression.”
“Do you know what Dwalin said to me after that night? I like this one, she is as bold as dwarf-women!” Thorin offered, clearly amused.
“So… you don’t hold it against me?” you blinked in surprise.
Thorin closed the distance between you and spoke in a softer tone of voice, “Have you not noticed that I invited you to my home, to my kingdom myself? And you accepted this invitation?”
Your jaw dropped. The conversation with Josiah and Leah flashed before your eyes. If an unwed person invites another unwed person into their home, for the Dwarves it means that they are open to the idea of courting.
“But… but you… but I… you never… I never…” you spoke very eloquently, staring into his eyes and desperately trying not to drown in them. He was so close now, if you tilted your head down you could touch his forehead with yours.
“Do not be alarmed, my lady. As I said, I am aware you do not know our customs. But I do admire boldness and a warrior’s spirit,” he took a deep breath. “And I have grown to admire you from afar.”
“You… you have?” this was not happening. It couldn’t. He was a Dwarf. You were a woman of Men. He was a king. You were an architect employed by him. “But you are a…”
“A king, indeed. Even a king needs a companion in his life. Someone whose beauty is surpassed only by her intelligence. Someone… like you,” his last words were merely a whisper, enveloping you with their velvety timbre.
“But… we barely know each other!” you blurted out and added quietly, “I would like to know you better, though.”
There, you said it, and there was no coming back. You looked deep into the sapphire blue eyes of the Dwarf who stood in front of you, the king that had been reining your heart since you saw him for the first time, and you realized your heart was beating faster and faster in anticipation of his next words.
Something glittered in Thorin’s eyes and then a smile bloomed on his face, reaching all the way to his gaze, “Your wish is my command, my lady!”
This is when he took your hand and kissed it gently, your skin tingling under his lips, his soft beard brushing against the back of your hand. With great reverence he placed your hand on his arm and led you away from the forges, showing you the secrets of Erebor that only a king knew. And each time he gazed at you it was as if diamonds shone in his eyes.
Half a year later the restoration of the royal wing was finished. In the meantime, you and Thorin grew closer together, and soon you discovered how much you had in common. Before, meeting him made you giddy and you tried to avoid it. Now, not meeting him every day felt weird, unnatural. As the months passed by, you learned more about Erebor and its people, and even more about the dwarven culture. You visited Dale from time to time, but every time you found yourself counting hours until your return to the Lonely Mountain. You chuckled at its name. There was nothing lonely about that mountain, not since you and Thorin found yourselves for good.
In the very early hours of the morning, when the song and music of Dis and Dwalin’s wedding feast still reverberated in the mountain, Thorin took you to one of the outside terraces of the Mountain to look at the sunrise. As the pink wisps of dawn slowly creeped up onto the brightening sky, as the first, soft rays of sun warmed your faces, Thorin took your hands into his, and as he gazed into your eyes, he asked you a simple question.
“My lady, will you allow me to court you?”
You looked at his face that has grown so dear to you during these months, you saw the glints in his eyes that matched the hope blooming in your heart, and then you replied.
“I will, Thorin, with all my heart.”
As your lips met his in a gentle kiss, you realized something. That saying about bad luck was wrong, very wrong.
Happiness comes in threes.
>> THE END <<
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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
So, this is it. The end. Thank you for reading this story and staying until the grand finale!
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