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Fire-moon and Starlight
Fili cannot believe his ears. Can his crazy little brother actually be . . . no, he cannot think the word. But Kili certainly is fraternizing with the enemy Elf-maid. Whom he seems to think quite lovely, for all his derogatory comments at Rivendell. There he goes again, tossing that cheeky grin of his at her as she returns his rune-stone. Mahal, what is Kee thinking?
“Sounds like quite a party you’re having up there.” Kili has ever been one for stating the obvious. Take that comment back at Bilbo’s house, for instance. Of course there’s another way in. Fili rolls his eyes.
“It is Mereth en Gilith–a Feast of Starlight. All light is sacred to the Eldar, but Wood Elves love best the light of the stars.” The woman begins pacing to and fro, eyes sparkling like the stars she speaks of. For a moment Fili thinks he can understand his brother’s urge to keep her attention, but then he remembers. She is an Elf. One of Thranduil’s people, no less. Again he wishes he were there in his brother’s cell to provide him with the slap upside the head he needs so desperately. Mahal save his brother from this Elf-witch’s wiles.
Kili speaks more soberly this time. “I always thought it is a cold light, remote and far away.” Good boy, Kee.
She responds quietly, dreamily one might say. “It is memory, precious and pure . . . like your promise. I have walked there sometimes, beyond the forest and into the night. I have seen the world fall away and the white light forever fill the air. . . .” Her voice trails off, and Fili shakes his head to clear it of the temporary trance. Elf magic, he’s certain of it. No other race could so dull the senses with mere words. Kee is still under her spell, gazing at her with something in his dark eyes that even Fili cannot read as he recounts the fire-moon sighting of years ago. Personally Fili thinks this vivid light is much more fitting for his brother than the crystal shine of stars.
A slight movement catches Fili’s attention, and he glances upward to his right. The golden-haired leader of the Elves stands and watches. He looks as disapproving as Fili feels. The Dwarf smirks to himself at the thought that he, an Heir of Durin, could be in agreement with an Elf of Thranduil’s halls.
The Elves leave shortly, presumably for the feast in the upper halls, and Fili can relax. But before he slumps down against the wall of his cell, he whispers across to his brother, “Perhaps I should search your head when we get out of here? I certainly hope there’s something there at least.”
Kee’s snort is the only answer.
~ ~ ~
The boat is being loaded. Soon the Dwarves will set out from Laketown for Erebor–their homeland at last. But as excited as Fili may be, he cannot help but worry. Kili may be trying to hide it, but his leg is still paining him. He limps when he thinks no one is looking, stumbles over a tiny pebble in the street. He is worsening.
Nevertheless, he makes to enter the boat. Thorin puts out his hand and stops him. “Not you. We must travel at top speed; you will slow us down.”
What? Fili’s head jerks up even as Kili protests, “What are you talking about? I’m coming with you. I’m going to be there when that door is opened, when we first look upon the halls of our fathers. Thorin. . . .”
Thorin’s ice-blue eyes do not soften, even as his nephew’s pleading dark ones look up with the kicked puppy expression that so often brought triumph at a younger age. Fili knows this cause, however, is far more dear to Kee’s heart than staying up an hour later or hearing just one more story.
“Kili,” Thorin repeats, “stay here. Rest. Join us when you’re healed.” Fili can tell he’s trying to be kind, but he also knows Kee won’t see it that way. Oin volunteers to stay; his duties as healer demand it. Fili finally steps in. He won’t let his little brother down.
“Uncle . . . we grew up on tales of the Mountain, tales you told us. You cannot take that away from him.”
Thorin’s gaze lifts from the younger dwarf to the older. “Fili–” He looks tired, strained, but Fili presses on.
“I will carry him if I must!”
His uncle shakes his head stubbornly. “One day you will be King and you will understand. I cannot risk the fate of this quest for the sake of one Dwarf.” He adds, more kindly and almost regretfully, “Not even my own kin.”
Mahal help him if he will forsake Kee now. Fili leaps out of the boat in one easy motion. It’s not only Thorin who can be bullheaded.
“Fili, don’t be a fool! You belong with the Company.”
Fili shakes his head in his turn. The Company takes second place in his affections. First–“I belong with my brother.” His eyes bore into his uncle’s, never backing down. At last Thorin accepts his decision and moves off.
Away sails the boat, leaving the two princes and the healer standing at the water’s edge. Fili looks down at his brother, now leaning on a dock piling. “You don’t look that good, Kee–Kili!” His only answer is a groan as the dwarf collapses. Fili wastes not a moment before scooping him up and turning back into the town. “Oin, Bofur, we’ve got to get him back to Bard’s.” Wait. Bofur? “What are you doing here?”
The toymaker has a sheepish smile on his face. “Let’s talk about that later, shall we, lad?”
Yes. Later. After Kee is safe. Fili looks down at his brother’s face, sweat starting to appear on it. “I’m here, Kee. I’ll always be here for you.”
~ ~ ~
How his brother survived the orc attack, Fili will never know. Mahal, he doesn’t know how he himself survived without the knives the Elves appropriated! Nevertheless, all the Dwarves as well as Bard’s three children are safe, and apparently they have the Elf prince and that redhead to thank. If niceties weren’t required in such a case, Fili would give no such gratitude, but seeing as this makes the second time the woman has saved his brother, he supposes some sort of appreciation is in order. Thankfully, by the time he has arrived at this unwelcome conclusion, she is stepping out the door.
Mahal will Bofur never stop creating awkward circumstances! Now that Elf is stopped in the door. “Athelas,” she breathes. And she’s turning around, a leafy plant clutched in her hand.
“What are you doing?” Fili reaches out to stop her, but she glides around him–curse that Elvish grace–and moves toward his brother. Kili is thrashing now, eyes wild with delirium and fever that Oin could not abate. His incoherent moans and cries cut Fili to the quick. He has promised to help Kee but can do nothing to calm the flames burning him from the inside out. “Don’t touch him, Elf!” he cries as she reaches Kee’s side.
She wheels on him, the light of battle shining in her eyes, and the candlelight on her hair suddenly reminds him of Kili’s fire-moon. Before, she has been a creature of the distant stars, but now she is a warrior defending her own. “First, my name is Tauriel. Second, can you not see how he burns? He needs my help. Even your healer cannot use the athelas as I can. If you would keep your brother alive, you will let me do as I must.” Her eyes soften momentarily. “I promise you I will not let him die. I swear it on all the gold in Erebor, if that means anything to you.”
Almost against his will Fili drops his hand and lets her by. After all, he wishes more than anything that Kili live. If that must mean allowing an Elf to help him, then so be it.
She grinds the athelas into a paste and rubs it into the wound on Kili’s leg. Bard’s daughters help the dwarves strain to control his thrashings as Tauriel chants Elvish words over him. At last she has completed her work, and he sinks back against the table where she has laid him.
“Tauriel . . .” He speaks. Faintly, but audibly. Thank Mahal. But does he have to call for her first of all?
“Lie still.” The Elf presses him back down as he tries to sit up. Are all the Line of Durin as stubborn as Thorin?
He slips back into delirious wanderings again. “No, you cannot be her . . . she is far away, she . . . she is far, far away from me. She walks . . . in starlight in another world . . . It was just a dream . . . Do you think she could have loved me?”
She hushes him and turns away, walking slowly out the door onto Bard’s balcony. Fili follows her, Kili’s words echoing in his mind. Could she love him? The Elf, the strange mixture of fire and crystal, fierce as a dragon yet tender as a mother? “Tauriel.”
She turns and looks down at him. “What is it?”
Fili meets her gaze steadily, sky-blue eyes joining forest-green. “I thank you for saving my brother, my lady. He is strong, but you brought him back when that strength was not enough. I would not see him broken.”
Tauriel seems to understand his underlying message. “He will not break. He will be strong again, be the warrior he is meant to be. You need not fear for him; if necessary, I will guard him with you till he be well enough to rejoin your company at the Mountain. No harm will come to him from me, rest assured.”
Somehow, Fili feels he can trust her. Despite her strange contradictions, her very Elvishness itself. He may be going soft, but this is his Kee in question. And he will do anything, even partner with an Elf, for his brother.
He fingers the rune-stone in his innermost pocket. Dis has claimed more than one promise for Kili’s safe return.