Characters: Kili/Tauriel, Oin, Dis, Bilbo Baggins
Rating/Warnings: T, none
Word Count: 5700
Summary: Because sometimes perspective can change everything. (There and back again)
(Chapter 4 of To Catch a Falling Star, but can be read as a one-shot)
A/N: Thanks to anddante for the beta! And here, have the chapter in time for the actual firemoon tonight! :D
The lord of silver fountains
The king of carven stone
The king beneath the mountain
Shall come into his own
And the bells shall ring in gladness
At the mountain king’s return
But all shall fade in sadness
And the lake will shine and burn
(The prophecy of Durin’s Folk)
Once they emerge from enemy territory, they all breathe a little easier. They’d suffered only a single attack from a pack of wild Wargs, and dispatched them easily enough, which they all agree bodes well for their return along the same route.
The dwarves are familiar with the lay of the land and varied peoples in the Arnor region, and the lush greenery and patchwork of farms are a welcome sight.
They keep to the north to avoid the hilly regions, cutting across the countryside with an eagerness that comes of knowing that home is almost in sight. Even Ori and Kíli are quick to rise in the mornings, and Óin and Bifur reluctant to stop for the night once they spot Ered Luin’s familiar silhouette in the distance.
And the ecstatic welcome that greets them when they finally arrive brings tears to Tauriel’s eyes.
She hangs back, the only stranger in the flurry of warm embraces and shouts. So she studies the entrance hall, already surprised by how different Ered Luin is to Erebor.
For all that it is hewn into the mountains, there’s an unfinished quality to it, with hardly a hint of the intricate carving and grandeur that she has come to associate with Dwarf hewn stone. And as she looks upon the laden wagons lining the walls and circling the quiet silver fountain in the center of the hall, she understands.
It was built with an expectation that they would leave.
“Tauriel!” Kíli struggles through the crowd toward her, grinning. “I apologize for the noise and confusion. There’s somebody I wish for you to meet.”
She shakes her head, smiling as she takes the hand he offers. “I have lived among dwarves for months. I expect little else upon such a momentous occasion,” she assures him.
But there’s a growing hush followed by bewildered murmurs as he leads her through the crowd.
There’s no mistaking the woman who awaits: her presence, coloring, and even her beard so like that of her brother.
There’s also no mistaking the consternation that crosses her face when she spots their linked hands before she carefully assumes a more neutral expression.
Kíli’s too eager for them to meet to notice. “Mother, I want you to meet Tauriel. She fought beside me at the Battle of the Five Armies and lives now in Erebor, working as a healer for both our people and Dale’s. We have been grateful for her skills many a time. Tauriel, this is my mother: Dís, daughter of Thrain, princess of Erebor.”
Dís gives her a measured smile. “I have heard a little of you by raven, Tauriel. I bid you welcome, in the name of my son, our king. Who has much to explain,” she adds, raising a brow at Kíli, who twinkles charmingly.
Tauriel inclines her head, striving to ignore the disquiet tugging at her heart. “Greetings, Lady Dis. I thank you for your welcome.”
For the next couple of days, all appears well enough. Tauriel knows how to find and use the facilities and is accustomed to dwelling under stone. She’s also familiar with the steps to the dances and the songs that are sung in celebration. But his kin are rather disconcerted to find Kíli so unthinkably familiar with her, especially in the gaping absence of Fíli and Thorin.
As king, Kili’s invitation must take precedence over their suspicions. But they find small ways to underscore how much she does not belong. Like “forgetting” to tell her how to unlock the stone door of her room and fitting it with glows that go out after only minutes of use (as do the spares). Or seating her between Bifur (who speaks only Khuzdhul) and the end of the table at meals, ensuring that she can easily speak to nobody.
She tries to view the situation with cool logic. Long ingrained prejudices will take time to overcome and they see her as a threat to one whom they love and must obey.
But it’s hard not to feel that despite long months of earning acceptance, all progress has been undone. She hears all too clearly the whispers about her bald-faced ugliness, and how she must have used her Elven magic on Kíli to obtain his favor. It’s a shock to see women fearfully keep the curious littles from her, as if she were Orc and not Elf.
She feels especially lonely after so many weeks in Kili’s company on the road. And unlike in Erebor, she does not have the friendships of others or other productive tasks to bolster her.
So she seeks out Óin, who is grim and regretful to see her so diminished and unhappy.
“I must rest, and having gone so long without, it will be a deep slumber. I may not wake for several days, so I thought it prudent to inform a friend beforehand. There have been a number of …jests. It would reassure me if you could ensure that my body is left in peace. Kíli already has so much keeping him occupied,” Tauriel says.
“…and you don’t wish to let him know you’re having a hard time of it here.” Óin looks at her sadly. “Lass, I’m sorry.”
“…You warned me.”
“It still pains me to see you suffer.” He sighs. “You were banished from the Woodland Realm. But there is a small Elvish community just to the south of us, where the Lhûn River meets the sea. Would they look upon you unkindly?”
She pauses for a long moment, feeling the creeping dread of a fateful choice upon her. “You speak of the Grey Havens. No, those who dwell there would not turn away any Elf.”
“Would it not be easier to go back to your own people, then? I know it has been hard for you without any of your kin. And they are hardly a week’s travel south, through safe country.”
She stares unseeing at the wall, unable to answer. Dwarves are, perhaps, not aware of the larger purpose of the Grey Havens.
“I know Kíli has been paying you court, and you care deeply for each other. Anyone can see that. But it is not too late to return his gifts and allow him the freedom to continue his line. And he is the last, Tauriel. Azog made sure of that on Ravenhill. While I know Elves and Men have had unions in the past, I know of no Elf/Dwarf example in either history or legend. Or I would not speak of this to you.”
She bows her head, hope dwindling with each terrible truth he speaks. “…But I love him.”
“Ah, lass! I’d feared as much. But surely you see that such feelings can only end in tragedy. Whether it is today or two hundred years from now, you’ll still be fated to part. You are the finest healer I have ever had the privilege of working with. But all your skill will not save him in the end.”
More painful echoes. And perhaps it is fate that has brought her so close to the Grey Havens already.
Oin continues. “You left your people to save him. But I fear staying dooms both him and you, all the same. This might be a chance to save you both.”
Stricken, she meets his eye.
She has never been one to stand idly by.
Kili has tried to avoid having this particular private conversation with his mother ever since he saw her thunderous expression when he asked Tauriel to dance. And there has been work enough to forestall it-- planning signals and procedures for the caravan; selling as much as they can to the neighboring communities of Men and Hobbits; loading wagon after endless wagon with provisions and possessions. But his mother is seldom denied anything for long, and she descends upon his chambers in the time he’s carved out to pack up his own things.
“You court an Elf? While you are still new to ruling? Are you trying to test the loyalty of your kin? Thorin would never have done something so foolish!”
Kíli rolls his eyes and gives up trying to sort through his belongings while his mother agitatedly paces and gesticulates to emphasize her points. “Well, maybe not with an Elf…”
Dís doesn’t have to pretend to be scandalized. “Kíli!”
He sighs. “I mean no disrespect! It’s just that we all saw the way he felt about— never mind. I suppose it doesn’t matter now, anyway.”
She taps her foot, seething. Kili’s always been reckless, teetering from the brink of one disaster to the next. And without Fíli to steady him… “They say she’s used magic on you. It’s true, isn’t it?”
“Healing magic. She saved my life and you act like this is some unspeakable evil!”
“You think it coincidence that a dwarf prince gets snared by some Elf-witch as soon as he comes into a large sum of gold and the crown? When he’s lost two of his closest kin in one fell swoop?”
He patiently explains, although he judges it wiser to leave out the bit about her being their jailer. “I loved her well before she healed me. She only learned of my bloodline after the battle, when we were both grieving. And my own kin were the ones pressuring me despite that, not an Elf who prefers starlight and stories to jewels and prestige.”
“Because that’s not the least bit abnormal.”
Kíli grits his teeth. “What I’m trying to tell you is that she is not interested in power or wealth. She wants me. Just me. Kíli. Name me a single dwarf woman who will not see me as king first now.”
That softens her, at last, and she sits and grips his hands imploringly.
“Dashat, I understand that. And if anybody knows the pressure that comes with a royal heritage, you know it is me. But how can this be something with roots? Elves are known for being liars and cheats. And she is not like us. She did not sleep the whole of your journey; she can do magic- these are not things that show me she can be wife to you. Do you not want children? Would you allow our line to die as that thrice-cursed Azog wanted all along?”
Kíli scoffs bitterly. “You would have me give up the woman I love to breed me like livestock? Accord me fewer rights than any of our people? Just to spite some dead Orc?”
“You’ve a duty, Kíli.”
“And I’ve done it. I treated with our allies after the battle, honored the memories of our dead. Kept our people fed and warm in cooperation with Men in the cold season after. Rebuilt both Erebor and Dale-- halls, mines and forges stand ready. And we’ve scouted the route to lead our people home. I may not be as great a warrior as my uncle, and I may spend gold at a rate that would have horrified my forbears. But everything I’ve done has been for the future of our people. And this is not a matter any but she and I get to decide.”
“How can you say that? Do you love this Elf more than your own people? Some may never come around to accepting her as Queen. Would you give up being king if they demand it?”
Kíli sobers. “…You know the answer to that.”
Dís shakes her head in despair. “Kíli…”
“She gave up her people for me. If it came down to it, I could do no less. Please. Don’t force me to choose when there isn’t a need. All you have now is fear, not fact. And Durin’s folk do not flee from a fight. You know as well as I do that what seems impossible does not always prove so. And she’s already won over Dain’s folk. All I ask is for you to give her a chance.”
Dís sits back, moved and humbled. She’s never known Kíli to be so sure and decisive. This adventure --or perhaps being king—has changed him. “…Must you do everything the difficult way? I will try to smooth things over with the grumblers. But I reserve the right to speak my mind on the matter. Even if the final decision remains yours.”
Kíli laughs and presses a kiss to her cheek. He can ask nothing more than that. “It’s a promise, then. I’ll go get her- order some tea. Or wine, if that would make it easier on you.”
But when he passes through the entrance chamber to his rooms, he stops, bewildered to find the door ajar.
The traditional sign for a way out offered. His eyes widen. But surely Tauriel would not know…
His face goes ashen when he turns his gaze to the entrance table.
Placed carefully upon it are a neat pile of dried wildflowers, her bow and arrows and the bridle for her mare.
His courting gifts, returned. Even the flowers.
He sits numbly, stunned and heartbroken. He’s been buried in the leaving preparations since they’ve arrived, but her decision leaves him at a loss. Only a week ago they’d kissed each other to the breathless brink on their last night watch; two nights ago they were dancing and laughing at the feast.
But this morning he’d stolen a moment to chat with her after breakfast, because she’d seemed melancholy.
She’d dodged the observation, as usual, and he’d been pulled away before he could tease it out of her. He rues that dreadfully now-- he is always too busy, and she is far too patient in comparison to his kin. With his mother to help with the day-to-day responsibilities of ruling, things at Erebor should be easier, but still…
He touches the sprig of baby’s breath, the wild roses, remembering offering them to her. They still smell as sweet as the time they’d spent together, and the memories bring tears to his eyes. They hadn’t exchanged beads but he’d been so sure of her heart…
And he realizes suddenly that there is something missing.
He sorts through the flowers to check that it isn’t hidden underneath, heart thudding in his ears.
And he swipes the tears off his cheeks when he confirms, and leaps to his feet.
She must still have the runestone. And if she left the horse, he may still be able to catch her.
He finds her trail easily, and her, within minutes. “Tauriel! What happened? Don’t leave!”
She slows, but doesn’t look back. “I must. For your sake, and my own. Forgive me-- I should have heeded wisdom instead of taking us both to the edge of ruin. You were right: this was just a dream, a selfish, foolish one.”
He blinks, appalled. “Words spoken in the wake of fever- you can’t be serious! Think on these past months-- was that also a dream? It hardly felt ruinous to me, and I’m sure you felt the same! What can possibly have changed?”
She halts him with her hand. “Please. Don’t come any closer.” If he touches her she knows her resolve will falter and this time, at least, she should heed wisdom.
“I go back to my people, and you should return to yours. You are the last of your line, and a king now. Every step we take forward makes your future even more uncertain. And your people need you. I should have realized this was an impossible path to tread. Perhaps it is fate that Ered Luin lies so close to the Grey Havens.”
He regards the determined set of her back miserably. “So this is how you would have us part?”
“…Death will separate us eventually. Surely doing this now will be less cruel.”
“Death separates all mortals eventually-- you don’t see us throwing love away because of it! If you no longer return my feelings, I will not hold you. But-- I think you still do.”
She presses her lips together, wavering. “I wish love were enough. But there is more at stake than just how we feel. So I have given you back your gifts so that you may one day find a more suitable mate.”
He scoffs. “You would have me marry someone else?”
Imagining him with another is agonizing, but she forcefully pushes the image away. Real love is not a cage. And she offers only a childless future, or worse, revolt and exile…
But she chokes on the words so she simply dips her head in reply.
He laughs humorlessly, shaking his head in disbelief. “I thought you understood how stubborn Dwarves are. We are as steadfast as the stones from which Mahal created us: we only love once. You will always hold my heart-- and I know you still bear a token of that.”
She closes her eyes and clutches at the runestone tucked in the pocket at her breast. He’d joked once that this stone had held a curse. And perhaps he’d spoken the truth unknowing: she’d been unable to give it up. So she finally speaks, unable to refute his words. “The same is true for Elves.”
He takes a hopeful step forward. “Then you know it won’t change anything for either of us if you leave. I will be childless like Thorin, and Dain or his son will rule Erebor when I die.”
She stills as hope sparks, and half-turns. “But Azog swore-- Dain is your heir?”
“Yes. Dain Ironfoot heads the secondary bloodline. Dwarves are not Men-- there will be no bloodshed over something as straightforward as succession.”
He plunges on as she considers. “You kept the stone because of the memories it holds. And I know I can’t promise you forever the way another Elf could. But I can vow to give you love and laughter for the rest of my life, memories you can keep against the grief of parting-- if you will grant me the honor. I don’t know if it will be enough… But surely we have a greater chance of happiness together than apart?”
To be wed, and share their lives and bodies fully… She inhales at the heady allure of that promise. Surely the joy of those years would eclipse the eventual sorrow? Still, she is all too aware of what drove her decision to leave. “There are still so many challenges. Your close kin despise me even more than Dain did. I fear this is still folly.”
He closes the distance between them. “I’ve always thought it brave to take on a challenge. Look at how far we’ve already come! Surviving Smaug, winning a battle, restoring Dale and Erebor and figuring out our new roles there. You’ve already won over the Iron Hills Folk, and I was on my way to find you after convincing my mother. I promise you: she’s a much harder nut to crack than Dain. Even my uncle dreaded debating with her. You can’t give up when I’ve already done half the work here.”
She can’t help huffing a laugh. And she can’t stop the tears when she finally turns back to him, but they fall now out of hope and joyous certainty.
“Then I will endeavor not to be afraid.”
And if the kiss to cement the new promises is rather desperate and tinged with the taste of tears, it is no less heartfelt.
Kíli carefully adds beads to her hair that signal their formal attachment and proudly seats Tauriel on his left at meals. They also make and exchange silver rings, in keeping with Elven tradition.
The conferred status quells most of the overt resistance to her presence, although they are all aware that misgivings still remain. Private teas with Dís are rather stilted and awkward despite his mother’s efforts to stay open-minded. She’s simply baffled by Tauriel’s lack of interest in managing Erebor as a queen is expected to, but she makes her stance on the engagement clear when Tauriel’s unnatural long rest is unkindly remarked upon.
“An Elvish trick, aye. But it is done to keep us and ours safe. And I, for one, appreciate the gesture.”
Óin still worries, no matter how happy they appear now that they are formally betrothed. “I know Dís has accepted Kili’s word on this. But will you really be all right without your people?”
“Kíli inspires courage even in the darkest places. I suppose it is part of what makes him a good king. And I have you and Sigrid, Tilda and Bard besides.” She takes hold of his hands earnestly when he still looks doubtful. “If I had gone on, we would both have lived in regret for the rest of our lives. I could not throw away love with both hands when what we had feared would come to pass regardless. And this way I will have more memories to hold dear when we part. I would rather not mourn prematurely.”
He sighs. “A healer must be prepared for the worst. And to seek the best course of treatment.”
“But that is no way to live. And love is not a sickness that needs curing.”
He tilts his head and sighs. “Well, you have me there. And you look fine enough, with the flush back in your cheeks and your braids finished in beads like a proper dwarrodam. Now help me get these herbs wrapped.”
Which she knows is his way of saying he will make peace with it, so she smiles and complies.
The return of Durin’s Folk begins under the summer sun. Hundreds of Dwarves, women, children and a sizable number of livestock make the journey. Progress is slow and halting, especially at first. They need to stop to rest feet unused to tramping so far and tender bottoms unused to their mounts; to grow accustomed to the rhythm of life on the road. So as the caravan makes to travel north of the Shire, Kili and Tauriel ride south to drop in on Bilbo.
And the Hobbit stops short, squeaking and clutching a pair of oven mitts to his chest when he opens the door to find Thranduil’s Guard Captain on his doorstep.
She smirks, eyes bright with humor. It’s small revenge on the one who had bested her when she’d had charge of the dungeons, but nonetheless…
“I was told tea is at four?” she says, raising her brows expectantly.
His brow furrows as he pauses with his mouth wide, searching for an explanation. “Well… yes. But I don’t understand how-- that is, I don’t recall speaking to any elves about-“
He hears a snort of laughter, and his fussy manner immediately changes when he ducks his head out.
“At your service,” he chuckles, pulling Bilbo into a hug.
Bilbo laughs and claps Kili’s back in return rather haplessly. “Well, whatever are you doing here in Bag End?! Your timing is excellent! I’ve just put some orange poundcake in the oven, and it will be done just in time to finish off our tea. I also have plenty of that cheese Bombur was so fond of if he’s also coming along…?”
“He won’t be. But a few of the Company will probably drop in. They’re in different places in the guard around the caravan.”
Bilbo frowns, puzzled. “Caravan?”
Kili smiles, proud and wistful. “We bring our people home to Erebor,” he says. And there’s something so like Thorin in the way he speaks that Bilbo feels his eyes and nose sting.
But the hobbit smiles bracingly and grips Kili’s shoulder, blinking. “That’s…wonderful news. I’m thrilled, for you all, truly. And you’ve made the time to visit! Come in, come in!”
And he turns to find Tauriel before him again, and Kíli wheezes with laughter again at the befuddled look on Bilbo’s face. Ah, if only Fili were here…
“Bilbo, this is Tauriel, formerly of the Woodland Realm. She’s agreed to do me the honor of becoming my lady wife.”
Bilbo swallows and blinks, bowing as he attempts to process the information. “Wi- My- congratulations,” he stammers.
She smiles. “It is a pleasure to meet Kili’s famous Burglar at last.”
He pauses and scratches at the back of his neck, abashed. “Yes, well. I do apologize for the inconvenience.”
Her smile widens, and she meets his eyes. “It is rare for dwarves to count another among their own,” she says.
Bilbo regards her with sudden understanding.
“Ah. That was mostly a matter of time, really. And perhaps a small amount of courage.” Suddenly realizing they are lingering on the doorstep, he shakes his head and hops back, waving them inwards with the oven mitts. “Pardon my manners! Come in, welcome, welcome!”
And so it is that an Elf joins another unexpected dinner party in a little hobbit hole.
The journey back through the Gundabad pass realizes their worst fears. Orc and Goblin forces have been lying in wait for the final phase of the prophecy.
They aren’t the huge armies they had faced previously, but there are no walls to shelter behind either as enemies stream down the mountains toward them from both sides. The dwarves grimly put their defensive plans into motion, stragglers hurrying to enter the protection of concentric rings of armed and armored dwarves.
But as she checks her quiver and readies her bow, Tauriel is dismayed by Kili’s assumption that she will stay behind with the other women and children.
“I have been killing Orcs since before any of you were born. Have you forgotten Ravenhill? My place is at your side.”
He meets her eyes, pleading. “Dwarves protect their women. And if you will be Queen my warriors will spend their lives trying to keep you from harm…Please. Stay with my mother at the center of the caravan.”
There is no time for arguments. She estimates the wave of orcs and trolls will reach them in a minute, and the goblin forces on the other side will arrive soon after. “We will speak on this later. And I will do what I must from behind you.”
He nods and puts his fist to his heart before leaping onto a Battle Ram and rushing off, shouting orders.
Dís hisses with annoyance at Tauriel’s unseemly interruption of their emergency procedures, issuing her own commands to arrange the wagons in a rough circular barricade around the women and children, making sure all carry something to shield from arrows. But she can hardly ignore Tauriel when she leaps lightly on top of one of the wagons, studying the battlefield.
“Do you think arrows will not find you, Elf?! Think on Kili’s grief and stay behind cover as you’ve been told!”
“Kíli told me where to stand, not how to act, and I am not one to stand idly by. He knows this full well.”
There’s a clash of metal and the roar of battle cries when the first orcs reach the lines.
Tauriel ignores Dís’ furious gestures to get down, gauging where her arrows will best be put to use. Their forces can easily withstand the meager weapons of the Goblins- the danger mostly comes from the larger and better armed foes from the north.
She fires first on the Wargs swooping down the slopes from the northwest, smiling as their bodies crash into the orcs before them. Then she knocks aside an arrow with a hastily drawn blade and takes out the Goblin archer who fired it, then another.
It’s a war of attrition between her and the enemy archers for the next few minutes. She is faster and more accurate, but they greatly outnumber her and she often wastes arrows deflecting theirs. Still, she steadily empties her quiver until she is satisfied that she can spot no more before she turns back to the north.
Her eyes widen in consternation. “Kíli!”
Three heavily armed trolls are almost upon the vanguard Kíli heads. And each one has been armored specifically for a battle against dwarves, their limbs and lower bodies protected by steel plates.
Luckily for her, none of them wear helms.
She gets two through the eye before they realize what is happening. Kíli shouts for his warriors to avoid their falling bodies and salutes her before leaping back into the fray.
Tauriel has to draw hard to puncture the base of the skull of the third, who has turned to avoid her arrows. And with the contents of her quiver spent, she leaps down off the wagon. “I need more arrows. There are still many targets,” she says to Dis.
“Skirfir- you know where the weapons are kept. Do as your future queen commands. Stay low,” Dis snaps. The boy, who had been chafing at the unfairness of being deemed too young to fight, obeys with a delighted grin.
Tauriel blinks in surprise and turns to look at Dis.
Dís smiles grimly. “Kíli had the naming of your bow?”
Tauriel nods, brow furrowed.
“I found it so odd. Amarakh. Defender with a feminine prefix, a seeming nonsense word. But now? …I understand.”
And from the emotion in her eyes, Tauriel realizes that she means more than the odd naming of bows.
And she smiles and inclines her head.
The battle is over quickly- it seems nothing inspires dwarves like the peril of their kin, and the orcs and goblins had expected easier pickings. Much of the unrestrained livestock has bolted in fear or been carried off, but better to lose boars and goats than their people.
Dis gets the caravan back in order as best she can, directing the disposal of enemy bodies and livestock too injured to travel on, and repairs to the wagons so they can move on at first light. And she has to admit that the healing magic Tauriel employs is useful indeed, and that she doesn’t mind having sole charge of the caravan while their fighters chase down the remnants of their attackers and try to round up livestock.
When Kili returns with his victorious warriors, there’s no mistaking the passion with which he claims a kiss from his bride-to-be or the anxiety in her eyes as she inspects him for signs of injury.
And Dís smiles with sheer delight when she overhears Tauriel berating him in that damnably calm voice of hers for taking unnecessary risks.
That night, as Kili is toasting his warriors at their makeshift feast, Dís clears her throat and reaches over to pat her hand. “I’m Dwarf enough to admit it. We can make this work, Elf or not. But you need to learn a few things about how dwarrowdams get things done.”
Tauriel lifts a brow and smiles. “A novice should always listen to the advice of those more experienced.”
Dis smiles back at her, pleased. “Good. You will need to ask Kíli for a dance or he’ll drink himself under the table. There are too many triumphant warriors to toast tonight, but honor demands that he do so anyway. As his intended you can claim his attention without sullying anybody’s honor. But maybe wait until after he toasts Gimli, Gloin’s son there. He made his first kills tonight, and deserves a king’s recognition.”
Tauriel blinks and inhales. “I see I have much to learn.”
“Ach.” Dís flutters a hand. “Don’t worry yourself overmuch. Dwarves are far more forgiving than Elves.”
Tauriel’s brow furrows and she blinks rapidly. That statement is blatantly false, and yet she’s hesitant to disturb their newfound understanding.
Until she realizes Dís is studying her and shaking with restrained laughter.
She lifts her eyes and sighs, smiling. “I see where Kíli gets his sense of humor.”
Dís chortles and raises her glass to Tauriel. She’ll do just fine.
They finally get to Ravenhill as the sun is setting, after a long day of travel. And Dís looks upon the spot where her brother and son died, with Erebor so close, and weeps.
Home. But it’s bittersweet.
Tauriel notes that harvest has already been completed and the fields are stubble and straw. And she smiles with delight to see the trees growing on the mountain, leaves yellowing on the young saplings. But they all turn towards Dale as its bells start chiming, and a minute later, Erebor’s great bell begins to toll.
Kíli raises his arm and waves when he spots the riders coming towards them: Bard, Dain and Balin, all grinning like fools.
“I go to meet them. We’ll need an orderly way to get everybody settled. Plus I want to see what Bombur has planned for tonight’s feast. I hope to never eat cram again as long as I live. Amad- are you all right?”
Dís shakes her head tearfully.
“I’m fine. Forgive me a few sentimental tears. I imagined this moment far different.”
Kíli looks appealingly at Tauriel, and she nods and places her hand on Dis’ shoulder. Dis gratefully covers it with her own before tilting her head to indicate he should go. Nodding, he rides off.
“I am certain they are with us in spirit,” Tauriel offers.
Dís huffs a laugh. “Of course. But that is not what troubles me. Do you know the prophecy of Durin’s Folk? My brother and father kept it close to their hearts all those years we lived in exile, wandering the world until we made ourselves lesser halls. And then the portents began to come true. Thorin left to fulfill his fate, with my boys along for the adventure. But now I am not so sure the king it referred to was only my brother,” she says, eyes brimming with tears as she watches her son hail his fellow king and lords.
Tauriel follows her gaze to Erebor, dwarves streaming from its gates, gushing fountains on either side of the entrance. The setting sun changing the lake to molten amber and bleeding reds in the background. Hears Erebor’s bell sounding deep and Dale’s in musical counterpoint. Sees Kíli gesturing and nodding as he discusses plans for getting hundreds of dwarves and their things up into the halls waiting for them.
And she understands, thunderstruck. “The King under the mountain shall come into his own,” she whispers.
Dís nods proudly. “And it seems he has.”