Summary:During the Battle of Five Armies, the line of Durin isn't wiped out, but Kili gets wounded. He's found by the Mirkwood Elves, and instead of returning him to his people, Thranduil decides to keep him as a bargain card in the negotiations that are sure to follow the restoration of the Durin line on the throne of Erebor. He might have helped to defeat the common enemy, but it doesn't mean that he's going to roll over in front of Thorin. In fact, he plans to ensure a very profitable alliance with the Dwarves, on his terms. So, when the negotiations begin on some neutral ground, he brings Thorin's "dead" nephew with him, making it very clear he's under his "protection". Thorin has to decide which he values the most: his power, wealth and pride or his nephew.
A/N:Written for this prompt on hobbit_kink. It's spell-checked so I hope it won't be too bad.
Thranduil walked among the injured. Most of them were Elves but also men and dwarves. At the moment it didn’t matter that they had been at each other’s throat. Everyone had fought bravely against the orcs.
“Father.” It was Legolas and Thranduil was relieved to see that his son wasn’t hurt. He pulled him close for a moment to reassure himself that Legolas was really here. He had lost him in the chaos of the battle and had dreaded to think about what might have happened to him.
“We found one of Thorin’s dwarves”, Legolas told him. “He’s badly injured but the healers are certain that he’s going to make it.”
“Bring me to him.” Thranduil knew how much Thorin valued his companions. If played right a “guest” could be very useful for the negotiations. He had no illusions that Thorin would just renew the old contracts. Too much had happened since then, most of it was Thorin’s fault even if he saw that differently.
“Your Majesty”, the healer greeted him respectfully and then led him to the dwarf’s bed. “He was lucky. If we had found him later he wouldn’t have made it.
Even wrapped in bandages and with his hair shorn Thranduil recognised the dwarf and he allowed himself to smile. He couldn’t have made a better catch.
“Bring him to a tent close to mine. I want it guarded the whole time but take good care of him. We’ll need him”, Thranduil ordered. He had underestimated Thorin’s companions once, he wouldn’t repeat his mistake. “And inform me when he wakes up.”
“Shouldn’t we send a message to Thorin?” Legolas asked. “He’ll be relieved to hear that his friend is alive.”
“You need to learn to play your cards right. Never underestimate the element of surprise.” If Thranduil was right then Thorin had no idea about their new “guest’s” whereabouts. And Thranduil wanted to see Thorin’s face when he told him. He hadn’t forgotten about the humiliation of Thorin’s escape yet.
“Have you found him?” Thorin asked when Balin and Dwalin returned.
Both shook their heads.
“He has to be somewhere”, Thorin insisted.
“We even went to the Elves. Some of Dain’s soldiers are there but no sign of him.” Dwalin sounded frustrated. Like Thorin he wasn’t ready to give up the search yet.
“You know that the orcs sometimes take corpses with them as…” Balin trailed off because he didn’t need to say it out loud.
“I would know if he was dead”, Thorin snapped. He would, he was sure of it. The pitiful look Balin gave him was too much. “Maybe they didn’t recognise him.”
“Laddie-“ Balin started but Dwalin interrupted him. “I’ll go again. If he’s out there I’ll find him”, he promised.
Thorin inclined his head gratefully. He would have gone out himself but his leg was broken in two places and Bolg’s club had left deep wounds in his back. Still he wished nothing more than to go out there and if he had to turn every stone and every orc corpse to find him then he would do so.
Even Bilbo had offered his help but Thorin hadn’t forgotten his betrayal. If some of the others wanted to forgive him then that was their decision. The Arkenstone was the most valuable piece of Erebor’s treasure and the Halfling hadn’t held claim to it. Maybe he had done it for virtuous reasons as he had said but at the moment Thorin couldn’t care less.
“Two dwarves of Thorin’s company where here again and asked after him.” Legolas said as he joined Thranduil in his tent. Their prisoner hadn’t woken up yet and the healers had told him that it could be some time until he did. “They asked if we found someone of their company among the fallen.”
“So Thorin believes our “Guest” is dead. Excellent.” On the other side of the table Legolas crossed his arms with an unhappy look.
“We should tell him that he’s alive. It’s not right to keep it from him.”
“You’re young”, Thranduil dismissed his concerns. “Keeping his survival secret gives us an advantage.”
“He’s still our hostage. How would you feel if the situation was reversed? If I was Thorin’s “guest” and you believed me dead.”
“I’m disappointed in you, Legolas. You’re too soft. I will send someone else to open negotiations with the dwarves.”
Legolas stood up. “If that is your wish”, he said coldly and left the tent.
Thranduil shook his head. Legolas was young and naïve. He would learn some day.
They moved into Erebor three days after the battle with Dain’s help who would leave a few of his men there. He was anxious to return to the Iron Mountains before the winter arrived and would close the roads in the north.
Some of Thranduil’s people left as well but most stayed to help the refugees from Laketown. Thorin felt the bitterness like poison when he saw how readily Thranduil offered help to the men when he had refused to give it to the dwarves after Smaug had come.
That and Thranduil still owned the Arkenstone. Thorin didn’t think he wanted to keep it. He was conceited and greedy but not a fool.
However it was Bard who sent a message first. He offered friendship and asked for the right to rebuild Dale once the spring arrived. He also reminded Thorin that it had been him who had killed Smaug.
Thorin was tempted to throw the letter into the fire but he didn’t. Instead he gave it to Balin.
“He sounds reasonable.” Balin said and handed Gandalf the parchment as well.
“Will you accept his offer?” Gandalf asked.
“We don’t need them.” Dwalin leaned against the wall, his arms crossed.
“Without Erebor Dale doesn’t exist but without Dale Erebor cannot live either”, Gandalf reminded them. Thorin wanted to snap at him but he knew he was right. His grandfather had compared Erebor and Dale to the heart and lungs of a body often enough. You couldn’t live with only one of them.
“If he brings me the Arkenstone he can have one 14th of the treasure and Dale.” Allegedly Thranduil had only come to help Laketown so it shouldn’t be too difficult for Bard to get the Arkenstone from him. He looked at Gandalf to see his approval. Maybe that was weak but he felt tired and hurt. Five days without a sign were as good as a confirmation of Balin’s theory that the orcs had taken the corpse to eat it. If this was how Dis had felt after her husband’s death then he had grossly underestimated his sister’s strength.
“Thorin?” It was Gloin. His right hand was still bandaged but he had insisted on taking up his duties again and watched the door. He had brought Bard’s message as well.
Thorin took a deep breath before he asked, “What is it?”
“A messenger from the Elves. He says Thranduil offers to speak to you on neutral ground.”
A part of Thorin wanted to tell Thranduil to go to Mordor and take a jump into Mount Doom but he was the King Under the Mountain. He needed to do what was best for his people and before Smaug Mirkwood had been a valuable ally and trading partner. As much as he hated Thranduil he couldn’t ignore him. Dis hadn’t lied down and cried when her husband had died either.
“Tell him I’ll meet his king in Dale tomorrow at midday. Thank you, Gloin.”
Gloin nodded and left the room again but turned back and said, “Fili says he’ll come by later.”
Thorin felt the guilt crash through him like a wave. In his own grief he had kept Fili at arm’s length like a coward. He wasn’t the only one who had lost someone after all. His throat felt too tight and Thorin had to swallow a couple times until he felt that he could speak again without his voice breaking.
“Balin, write the letter to Bard. Dwalin, Gandalf I will see you at dinner.” They were dismissed and knew it although Dwalin hesitated at the door but he didn’t ask Thorin and Thorin offered nothing.
As soon as the door was closed Thorin curled on his side. He could feel the tears burning at the edge of his eyes but still held them back. He had wanted this, had been ready to pay every price to regain Erebor but in the face of his loss it didn’t seem worth it.
Dis once said that the pain dulled with time even if it never went away. It was the only thing Thorin could look forward to anymore.
He still couldn’t walk and the wounds in his back were bothering him more than Thorin wanted to admit but he wouldn’t show weakness in front of Thranduil. Two of Dain’s soldiers were carrying him down the hill and for the last few meters he relied on Balin and Dwalin who accompanied him as well as Fili. They hadn’t spoken about anything but business last night. Fili had already started to organise a survey of Erebor and his face had been flawless. He had gotten that from Dis who had always been better at concealing her true feelings than Thorin.
Thranduil of course had come with a complete entourage that had set up a tent in the middle of Dale’s old market.
“Welcome Thorin. I hadn’t expected to see you so soon.” Thranduil smiled like a cat that had caught a particularly big fish.
“The sooner you are back in your forest the easier I can sleep”, Thorin said venomously.
“If you can sleep at all”, Thranduil tilted his head and looked at Fili. “Won’t you introduce us?”
“You said you wanted to negotiate. What are your terms?” Fili asked, not rising to the bait.
“He’s your heir, I presume? The famous nephew with the golden hair. I’m glad we meet. We will see each other quite often in the future”, Thranduil said pleasantly.
Thorin gritted his teeth. “What do you want?”
Thranduil’s demands were not only ridiculously high but he actually seemed to think he could goat Thorin into accepting them.
“If I’m not willing to renew the old contract why would I agree to this?”
Thranduil reclined in his chair with an obnoxious smirk on his lips. “You will approve of this and more if I wish so.”
“You’re delusional”, Dwalin snorted.
“Am I?” Thranduil asked with faked surprise. “Then I suppose this means nothing to you?” He threw something onto the table. The hair clip looked dull and filthy, smeared with dirt or worse but Thorin recognised it.
It was Kili’s.
“Where did you get this?” He asked with barely contained fury.
“That doesn’t matter at the moment.”
“Where is he?” Thorin yelled, jumping to his feet mindless of his injuries. Thranduil’s guards rushed forwards, their weapons raised while Thranduil laughed.
“He’s my guest, Thorin and will remain that until you agree to my demands. I offer you a choice. But maybe I overestimated your love for your family. After all what do you need your second nephew for when he’s only the spare you don’t need since your heir is here and healthy.”
“If you lay a single finger on him I will-“
“Yes?” Thranduil asked in a bored voice. “I have no doubt your kin has many brutish torture devices but I’m not interested hearing about them. Your nephew is taken care of. I treat my guests with respect Thorin but should I come to harm so will he. Make up your mind what you value more and send me a message. Until then your nephew will remain my guest.”
With that Thranduil left the tent. One of his guards looked almost apologetic before he followed his king.
“I don’t care what Dain says. If I have to go there and get him out on my own I will!” Thorin yelled at Dwalin who had brought the message from Dain that there would be no attack on the elves even for Kili.
“Try to calm down”, Dwalin said, laying his hands heavily on Thorin’s shoulders so he wouldn’t try to stand up again. “We will get him out.”
“I want him now. The thought that Thranduil has him at his mercy…”
“I know but we have to do this carefully.” Underneath his hand all resistance seemed to bleed out of Thorin.
“I cannot lose him again. I can’t ever lose him…” When Thorin’s voice broke Dwalin was suddenly glad that he had never fallen in love if such an emotion could break a man like Thorin that easily.
“You won’t. We will get him back. I promise you.”
Someone knocked and Thorin quickly wiped the tears from his face. In the flickering light of the torches his red eyes were barely visible.
It was Fili. His face was a stony mask where Thorin was barely holding it together.
“There’s an elf who wants to speak with you. He says he has news about Kili.”
“I’ll meet him in a moment”, Thorin’s voice grew stronger with every word. Despite everything Thorin would always be the king first and a dwarf second.
“King Thorin of Erebor?” The elf that was escorted in by Bifur and Gloin possessed an uncanny likeness to Thranduil but his face held nothing of Thranduil’s arrogance. “I’m Legolas Thranduilion and I have come with an offer.”
“Has your father made even more ridiculous demands he wants to impose on us?” Dwalin asked.
“My father doesn’t know I’m here. He keeps one of your nephews prisoner and I don’t agree with him. My offer is this: I’m your prisoner and you can exchange me for your nephew.”
Thorin stared at him but Dawlin seized Legolas by his tunic and growled, “We don’t have time for your games, elf.”
“No games”, Legolas assured him. My father is wrong. The negotiations between our people shouldn’t be based on coercion.”
“And what is to you?” Thorin asked coldly.
“I wish to restore the faith between our people.” Dwalin scoffed at that but Legolas didn’t let that unsettle him. “I know it will take a long time but I think it will be worth it. For both our sakes.”
“What have you done?” Thranduil hissed when he saw Legolas guarded by a dozen dwarves coming in behind Thorin.
Legolas pressed his lips together and ignored the question.
“I have a new proposition for you”, Thorin said. “Your son in exchange for my nephew. After that we can talk about the trade agreements.”
Thranduil narrowed his eyes at Legolas. It was obvious that he could barely contain his anger. “Fine.”
He gave a signal to one of his guards and Thorin felt his heart starting to race. Two elves entered the tent carrying a stretcher between them. Kili was pale and his hair had been cut off for accommodate the bandage around his head.
Thorin gave a signal so that two of his guards took the stretcher from the elves while a third one cut the rope around Legolas’ wrists.
“Bring him back to the mountain”, he told Dwalin. He needed to know that Kili was safe if he wanted to concentrate on the trade negotiations.
“I think the negotiations are finished for today”, Legolas said and looked his father straight in the eye. Thorin didn’t miss the barely concealed anger in Thranduil’s face and couldn’t suppress a small but triumphant smile.
“I suppose so”, Thranduil’s voice was as cold and smooth as ice. “You will want to spend time with your nephew and I would like to speak with my son. At length.”
Thorin didn’t bother with a farewell. All he needed was to be with Kili right now.
“Do you have any idea what you have done?” Thranduil yelled as soon as he and Legolas were alone.
“I’ve done the right thing.”
“You cost us our only change to reach a fair trade agreement with Thorin.”
“Fair? Your demands were far from fair.”
“I was only looking out for our people.”
“There are more people than just us out there.”
“And they have their kings and their rulers to take care of them. The last time we went to war outside of our borders less than a third made it home. I led them back from Mordor and went to the parents, children and spouses of our fallen to tell them that they would never return. So yes, I do not care about anyone beyond our borders because I know the price war takes.”
“That has nothing to do with Thorin.”
“It has everything to do with him. Do you really believe that he will agree to a fair trade? Do you think he will care if our fortifications crumble and our people are slaughtered because we cannot pay the prices for weapons and shields?”
“Thorin will not live forever.”
Thranduil snorted. “Dwarves have a longer memory than most elves. Ask any of them about the Nauglamir and they will tell you more details than even Cirdan could approve or deny. But if you are so certain then you will lead the negotiations. I will put this weight on your shoulders.”
“Whatever you wish, father.”
Thorin and Fili waited impatiently while Oin examined Kili. The elves seemed to have treated him well enough but Thorin wanted to be sure.
“Thorin”, Fili said quietly and startled him. “I thought maybe it’d be better if I would talk with Thranduil about the trade contracts.”
“You?” Thorin asked, surprised.
“The bad blood between you and Thranduil is much more personal. And as much as I hate it, we do need Mirkwood’s cooperation if we want Erebor to thrive. Also, Kili needs you.”
“He needs you as well.”
“Yes, but I wasn’t injured as much as you. Kili will kill me if he hears that I let you out of bed like this.”
Thorin felt warmth spread through his chest. “You will make a great king, one day”, he told Fili with pride.
“Good news”, Oin said, walking up to them. “The boy should be fine. Those elves took good care of him. Can say what you want about them but they know a thing or two about healing. He’ll still need to rest for a few weeks but without them…he probably wouldn’t have made it.” He gave Thorin a stern look. “And you need to go back to bed as well. No, I don’t want to hear your excuses. Just do what I tell you”, he added when Thorin opened his mouth to protest.
“Not like I’m king or anything”, Thorin replied with a half-smile.
Oin gave him an unimpressed look.
Thorin was woken up by fingers carding through his hair. In his half-sleep he thought it was a dream until he opened his eyes and saw Kili leaning over him on his elbow.
“Hey”, Kili said with a smile spreading over his face.
“Hey”, Thorin replied, leaning into the light touch on his scalp. “How long have you been awake?”
“Not that long. How long was I asleep? The last thing I remember is being in the middle of a battle.”
“A few days. You don’t remember anything?”
Kili shook his head. “Why? Did something happen?”
“Nothing important.” Thorin pulled Kili towards him to kiss him softly. “I’m just glad to have you back.”
Fili was surprised when instead of Thranduil it was Legolas who entered the tent, an emotion Legolas seemed to share.
“I did not expect to see you”, Fili said.
“Likewise”, Legolas replied.
For a moment they simply stared at each other until Fili said, “I wanted to thank you what you did for my brother.”
“I meant what I said. I do want to rebuild the trust between our people.”
“Well, you did a good start.” Fili poured them both some wine and sat down. “Now, about those trade agreements...”
Legolas smiled. “I’m sure we can work something out.”