[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Cate Blanchett/Liv Tyler as Sulisha Weaverdale, Ken Stott as Balin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Dean O’Gorman as Prince Fili, Aidan Turner as Prince Kili, Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond, Liv Tyler as Lady Arwen, Lee Pace as King Thranduil, and Billy Connolly as King Dain Ironfoot, Julia Ormond as Mistress Ella, and Claire Forlani as Lady Constantia, and others as noted, etc.]
Author’s Content Note: “Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love” is a story of romance and intrigue set against the backdrop of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (S) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments (D). I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some tense situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s recap of the previous installment: With the Kings Dain, Thorin, and Thranduil’s Tournament preparations posturing temporarily derailed by Queen Sulisha bringing a mixed Dwarven and Human races baby into their midst, thoughts regarding the surprise of the Durin Prince Fili wishing to become betrothed to the Iron Hills Princess Bethelwyn are set aside. And more will be revealed about the baby Laurel and her parentage in the days leading up to the Tournament Eve Banquet.
“Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love”, Ch. 9–Baby Laurel’s Heritage Complications
That evening of their arrival in the Iron Hills Palace–with their stay signaling the waning days of their wedding trip–is a full one for King Thorin and Queen Sulisha, and sleepless. But not why you would think for a newly wed couple. For they have taken under their wing the blended race baby named Laurel who is half Dwarven father and half Human mother. Their first order of business that night is to find a wet nurse for the child. And surprisingly, a petite lady presents herself to render that service.
There is a knock on the door of the state guest suite of King Thorin and Queen Sulisha in the Iron Hills Palace almost as soon as they return from the introductory meeting where Dwarves and Elves finalized the tournament layout. Queen Sulisha’s Dwarven Ladies Maid Sharron opens the door to see who is there–the guards outside the door having already determined that the petitioner means no harm.
Ladies Maid Sharron: “May I have your name and your petition request? I will see that King Thorin and Queen Sulisha receive it. They will be greeting petitioners during tomorrow’s mid morning audience.”
Ella: “Oh no! I have no request of their Highnesses. I am here to help them. My name is Mistress Ella of the Iron Hills.” The unbearded Dwarven attired lady smiles hopefully [(2) right].
The Ladies Maid Sharron frowns quizzically. Then she confers with King Thorin’s Assistant, named Clerk.
Clerk: “And Mistress Ella, what service do you wish to render to their highnesses?”
Ella: “I am here to help with the baby.” Then she looks pointedly at Sharron, who nods in understanding.
Being a single Dwarven man unaware of such things as baby feedings and such, he says.
Clerk: “Queen Sulisha does not require a baby nanny–she is seeing to its needs herself.” He marvels that a royal queen would condescend to tend to a baby–especially a baby who is not her own. “What she needs is a wet nurse–whatever that is.” Suddenly, the Ladies Maid Sharron elbows him in his side.
Ladies Maid Sharron: “I believe Mistress Ella is the wet nurse whom we have been hoping for.” Mistress Ella nods and smiles. “I will take her to Queen Sulisha.”
The Ladies Maid Sharron beckons and Ella eagerly follows her through a series of doors to a long hallway and finally to an open bedchamber door that is anything but tranquil and silent within. Little baby Laurel is unhappy because she is hungry and she is wailing for her supper–and for her Mama.
Ella: “Oh dear! She must be hungry!” Mistress Ella, the wet nurse, instinctively sprints ahead of Ladies Maid Sharron and goes through the open bed chamber door and sees the baby crying while being held and soothingly rocked by Queen Sulisha. “I can feed her, My Queen.”
Mistress Ella reaches for the baby and Queen Sulisha gratefully gives her to her, but she still hovers nearby as Mistress Ella nonchalantly opens her dress bodice and lets the baby feed from her breasts.
Ladies Maid Sharon: “Queen Sulisha, this is Mistress Ella of the Iron Hills, your Highness.” Ladies Maid Sharron curtsies, then leaves.
Queen Sulisha: “Thank the stars that you have come! The little one must be hungry because we changed her wrapper and gave her a bath, but she was still unhappy.” Queen Sulisha wonderingly watches the baby feed contentedly [(3) right] –thinking of the time when she will also feed her and King Thorin’s future baby. Then it occurs to Queen Sulisha that the baby calmed down very quickly when Mistress Ella came into the room. “You have a way with babies. Have you served as a wet nurse to many babies?” She asks quizzically, for Mistress Ella looks so young–in truth, she is just twenty years.
Ella: “No maam. She is my first.” Mistress Ella freezes. “I mean, she is my first baby that I have wet nursed for another.”
Then noticing a distinct embroidered design upon Mistress Ella’s gown edging and the same embroidered design on the baby’s linen bonnet, Queen Sulisha asks knowingly, but in a casual manner so has to draw the lady out.
Queen Sulisha: “Is baby Laurel always so fussy before feeding time?”
Ella: “Aye, Milady. She can be.” Then Mistress Ella realizes her mistake again–her being a new mother and not being able to act as if Laurel is not her baby.
Queen Sulisha: Smiling, she whispers. “I thought so. You are her mother. It will be our little secret while Laurel is under our care. We shall make up a bed chamber for you and the baby to sleep in while we are here. And then bring you with us back to our Blue Mountains home when we leave, so that you and the baby may stay together.”
Ella: “Thank you for understanding, My Queen. I am grateful beyond measure for your protection for our child.” Then Mistress Ella adds haltingly. “And I am prepared to leave my husband behind until Laurel is weaned.”
Queen Sulisha: “Oh no! We cannot separate you from your husband. He must come with us.” She offers graciously.
Ella: “Oh, My Lady! That would be wonderful. But we cannot risk discovery. My husband is bound in honor to the Iron Hills King Dain.”
Queen Sulisha: “But surely, your husband would wish to remain with you and your child.” I look at her questioningly.
Ella: “He would if he could. But my husband is Laurad, Captain of King Dain’s family’s personal guard.”
Queen Sulisha: “My! This complicates an already complex matter.” Queen Sulisha thinks for a moment. And then her curiosity gets the better of her. “Pardon me for asking, but how did you as a Human come to meet such a distinguished member of the Dwarven Iron Hills Palace Guard as Captain Laurad?”
Ella: “It was through my adoptive Dwarven father Elldred, the weaver of Fithandian Village. Father often weaved tapestry prophesies for King Dain, and I went along to the Palace to help Father with his threads. He would not let anyone else but me touch them. And Father noticed that Captain Laurad seemed to soften in his gaze when he escorted us to our palace chambers and elsewhere in the palace for our months long visits while Father created the king’s prophesy tapestries. I grew to love Laurad–and amazingly, he loved me. But I knew that I had to tell Laurad that I was not Dwarven, but Human. Yet Laurad continued to love me anyway and asked my Father for my hand in marriage. At first, Father was skeptical and worried. So Father did not give us his permission to see each other. But Laurad and I still met in secret–stolen moments of chaste sweetness–for we could not risk more were we to be found together. For all of Laurad’s fierceness as a Captain, he is my beloved sweetheart. Then one day, Father foresaw in a tapestry that I would marry Laurad and that our blended races child would unite the Dwarven and Human peoples. So Father allowed Laurad to court me privately, and then Laurad and I married in secret two years ago. We could not live together, but found ways to be together–such as when Laurad fetched us for the King or returned us, and my father would give us our privacy. But then Father died last year, and Laurad and I did not know what we would do. I no longer had a reason to visit the Iron Hills Palace. And then not long after, seven months ago, I realized that I was with child and gave birth in my home last month that Father left to me. I also survived with a small living stipend from King Dain. But someone jealous of my good fortune in having the King’s stipend, found out I was Human and reported me to our village elders. So I had to run away with my baby before the men came to take us away. And I do not know if King Dain knows yet that I am Human since the Iron Hills gate guard who knew me from my earlier visits with my Father, and the gate guard cheerfully let me pass through into the Iron Hills Palace Fortress with my basket of wares, which was my baby Laurel. My Queen, I came to the Iron Hills Palace knowing that you would be here–hoping that you could help us. Laurad has not even seen our daughter yet. I had told my husband in a note to stay at the palace and that I was coming to him. But I don’t dare try to see him–lest we compromise his and our baby’s safety.” She tears up telling her story.
Queen Sulisha: “This is astonishing! Do you know that I and my family are weaver seers as well?”
Ella: “I do! Your being a weaver is what gave me hope that you might protect my baby Laurel.”
This young lady, this young mother, looks at me so earnestly and hopefully as she nurses her child that I am moved to tears. I take her free hand not holding her baby in mine, even as my other hand dabs a linen hankie at my tears of empathy.
Queen Sulisha: “My Dear Mistress Ella, your baby Laurel is a blessed gift and she will have our royal protection–as will you and your husband Captain Laurad. I will talk to my husband King Thorin about the matter. He has surmounted many a seemingly impossible situation and obstacle over these hundred and sixty nine years since their forced exile from the Erebor Mountain Fortress when the Dragon Smaug attacked. And I feel certain that King Thorin will discern what can best be done to keep your family together and safe.”
Mistress Ella leans forward and kisses Queen Sulisha’s hand clasping her hand, with Mistress Ella’s tears falling freely.
Ella: “You are generous and kind, My Queen. I bless you and your family. I could not be more grateful to you, if I were Dwarven.” For Mistress Ella knows that the highest compliment that she can pay to her Queen is that Mistress Ella wishes that she were Dwarven herself–which is indeed her dearest wish. Mistress Ella may only be a very young twenty years old as a Human, but she has experienced life and hardship with grace and maturity.
That night, Queen Sulisha relates Mistress Ella’s, Captain Laurad’s, and their baby Laurel’s story to King Thorin. He listens carefully and ponders thoughtfully what might be done for this Dwarven-Human blended family–while still also honoring their Dwarven host King Dain. The Humans will arrive soon and diplomacy will also be delicate for them. And the meddlesome Elves, thinks King Thorin? The Elves be damned! And yet, among the Elven delegation, Queen Sulisha might find a surprising ally.
With the news of the new blended races baby ward to King Thorin and Queen Sulisha spreading through the Palace, the Elven King Thranduil’s recognized companion and soon to be wife, the Lady Constantia, prevails upon her love King Thranduil to allow her a private audience with Queen Sulisha and the baby the following day. The secretly Human and taller than normal Humans Lady Constantia’s with child condition predisposing her to babies since she is due to meet her own baby in a few months.
Preceded by her Elven Handmaidens, the regally beautiful Lady Constantia resplendent in royal purple is admitted into the private rooms within the stateroom suite that King Thorin and his family, and his close advisors are housed while at the Iron Hills Palace. It was a long distance to walk for the six months pregnant Lady Constantia [(4) right]–given that the Dwarves, Elves, and Humans all have separate wings allotted to them in the Iron Hills Palace during their stay–in the hope of avoiding unnecessary confrontations between rival tournament competitors. But ladies are above such squabbles.
After the Lady Constantia is seated upon a specially appointed and larger sette to accommodate her comfortably, she is eager to see the baby and dismisses her Elven attendants who are ushered into another room for refreshments. Then Queen Sulisha motions to her Ladies Maid Sharron.
Queen Sulisha: “Sharron, please ask Mistress Ella to bring Baby Laurel here to Lady Constantia and I.” Ladies Maid Sharron goes to attend that.
Lady Constantia: “Your highness, I am grateful for your seeing me in private. Of necessity, I do not attend many functions.” She gently lays her hands upon her swollen with child belly.
Not knowing Elven breeding matters, Queen Sulisha thinks that Lady Constantia is soon to be coming into even more of her with child fullness. But she replies graciously.
Queen Sulisha: “Blessings upon your soon to be baby, Lady Constantia. And My Lady, we are both Queens–you will be the Elven Queen Consort when your baby is born and your marriage to King Thranduil is finalized. So I would be most honored if we may dispense with protocol when we are in private and address each other simply as Sulisha and Constantia?”
Lady Constantia: “You are very gracious, that is my wish as well, Sulisha.”
The two royal women smile and clasp hands with each other. Then Mistress Ella enters the spacious and elegant room carrying baby Laurel, whilst Ladies Maid Sharron follows behind her with a fabric bag of baby essentials should they be needed.
Queen Sulisha: “Ah, Lady Constantia, this is baby Laurel with her wet nurse Mistress Ella. Mistress Ella, this is Lady Constantia, Queen Consort to the Elven King Thranduil.” Queen Sulisha reverts to the formal in referring to Lady Constantia, as per protocol when their attendants entered.
Mistress Ella curtsies first to Queen Sulisha and then to Lady Constantia–with Mistress Ella awed by the beautiful Elven Queen Consort’s tallness. And Mistress Ella also notes Lady Constantia’s with child condition.
Mistress Ella: “Your Highnesses. I have just wakened baby Laurel from her nap, so she is a still a little sleepy. But she will want to feed soon.”
Queen Sulisha: “Thank you, Mistress Ella.”
Queen Sulisha takes the dozing baby into her arms, gently rocks her, and kisses her on her forehead. Then seeing the eager eyes of Lady Constantia leaning forward, Queen Sulisha transfers the baby to Lady Constantia’s waiting arms.
Lady Constantia: “The baby Laurel is a precious little thing–she is very beautiful! And goodness! She is a solid little weight.” Lady Constantia smiles up at Queen Sulisha.
Mistress Ella hovers watchfully nearby, smiling with such praise for her baby. And in a little while, Mistress Ella even nurses baby Laurel in Lady Constantia’s presence– to that Elven Lady’s rapt attention, with Lady Constantia asking all manner of baby birthing and baby tending questions of Mistress Ella.
And though Queen Sulisha has not taken Lady Constantia into her confidence about Baby Laurel’s more complicated family situation, it is a delightful and a fruitful visit by the Elven Queen Consort to be. Now if only the men of the Dwarven, Human, and Elven delegations can be as easily swayed.
So Queen Sulisha thinks that tonight’s state banquet might be the forum in which all problems are solved. However, the matter of baby Laurel’s parents returning with them to Queen Sulisha’s and King Thorin’s Blue Mountains home and Court of Durin in Exile will be a very delicate matter diplomatically.
To be continued with Chapter 10
P.S. A programming note: I am contemplating a story that begins around the time of Thanksgiving week in the U.S. that will temporarily take over my writing time the next week or so as I also begin to serialize it. But I will return to this Thorin story after that, to continue it for a few more chapters. And I have always intended it to be a short story.
References for Ch. 9, November 23, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace
1) Revised: My “Thorin’s Journey: An Unexpected Love” story cover art I created is comprised of two images:
a) A cropped and masked head shot of a beautiful portrait drawing of Thorin Oakenshield by the talented artist Yanagoya of Thorin holding the Arkenstone found here http://rebloggy.com/post/the-hobbit-yana-art-thorin-arkenstone/41711190148 ; with the Thorin portrait face being in the image (cropped and masked by someone else, unknown) is of the talented actor Richard Armitage who portrayed Thorin in The Hobbit trilogy of films.
b) A cropped section of a screen cap of the Elven cave that I made from the first trailer for THDofS serves as the background image.
c) story cover image link for Wattpad: https://gratianads90.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/thorinsjourneyanunexpectedlove-storycover_oct0815gratianalovelace-256×401.jpg
2) Mistress Ella, baby Laurel’s mother, is Julia Ormond in the1995 film First Knight found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/fb/35/17/fb3517295208e7bd12c95f956542fd0d.jpg
3) QueenSulisha of Durin in crown is a composite image:
a) of Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian in Robin Hood (2010) and was found at http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/05/07/article-1273120-09527871000005DC-346_306x302.jpg and
b) of a beautiful silver crown Grati manipped gold ; by Kelly Graham Designs found at http://www.kellygrahamdesigns.com/images/jewelry/circlets/C181a4.jpg
4) Lady Constantia the Elven Queen Consort (baby bump is Grati’s manip) is Claire Forlani as Queen Guinevere in Camelot, 2011, that was found at http://meatgrinder.co/photos/claire-forlani/picture-of-claire-forlani-in-camelot-large-picture-camelot-9078b6ab964bbd26efdfdabfab95428d-large-22290.jpg
N.B. The previous blog link for Ch. 8 is: