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Nothing Like the Sun

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The skin of her hand is smooth, he knows - but not the same polished smooth that it was when she opened that strange round door to him in the Shire.
Red raw blisters form along the edges of her palm, shiny with newness, slick to the touch. When she cups his cheek, he thinks not of the analogous curve around a porcelain cup but the curl around steel, the blade biting past bone and softness. Her little sword saved him as easily as it punished her with every swing and every feverish grip.

And the skin of her stomach - that is smooth too. It slides under his rough worn hands like buttery silk, perfect and unmarred.
But for the purple, black, and yellow, violent pigments dappled across its breadth.
But for the fat, spidery scar-mass that sprouts just an inch from her heart.

His first glimpse of the Morgul wound lasts only an instant; his fingers catch it as they skim delicate lace and velvet, and Thorin pauses.

Bella wrenches shut her wedding-robe and cries.

It is not until after he plies her with soothing tones, and pulls off his tunic, letting her map the ridges and puckers on his own ravaged chest, that Bella welcomes his touch. Even then, Thorin feels her desperation well up through every pore, and he burns for her as much as she blooms for him, as if such mad adoration can deliver them both.

They are neither of them meant for songs.
Minstrels will sing ballads of his sweet summer queen and her brave deeds, but Thorin will always remember the lips cracked by winter and thirst that seek his in the dark. And when their bodies twine in the long hours of the night, he will find her more beautiful than any fair maiden of old. She is battered but whole, delicate but iron-strong, pliant and unyielding in equal measure. She is his Bella, and she binds him with a love fiercer than mere words can tell.