Laughter and merriment filled the halls, the marble pillars wrapped in ribbons of bright colors and fresh pine, the fires burning hot in the hearths. The tables were laden with all sorts of meats and vegetables cooked in savory spices and herbs, tankards overflowing with wine, mead, beer and ale, all the while the music played in joyful and lilting tunes to make the people dance.
It was the first celebration Erebor had seen nigh on two centuries, and after all the many toiling months of rebuilding and reorganizing, it was a deserved feast for his people and Thorin had wasted nothing. He sat on the dais next to his consort, the famed Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and he even smiled at watching his people make merry. Bilbo saw this and put his hand on his arm with a lovely, blinding smile. If Thorin was coerced into a dance or two sometime this night, it was the Hobbit to blame entirely, but Thorin would find he did not mind, not even a little. On this night of Yule, he would allow himself a measure of peace, though it came reluctantly. But with his Hobbit at his side, he would find it came easier than he thought.
Fíli pulled Kíli up onto the table and they sang a jaunty tune to get the Dwarves riled up, linking elbows and knocking tankards together, making the legs of the table bounce on the floor at their dancing and kicking. Bofur accompanied their tune with his flute and sang a few lines, or a song, and kept the beat going with his boot on the stone floor as Dwalin played on his fiddle. Fíli and Kíli hopped off the table once the song was finished, downing their ale and requesting for another fill as they were clapped on the back.
Fíli snagged an extra tankard and sauntered his way over Bofur, twisting his way between bodies and somehow managing to keep the beer from spilling. Bofur smiled as he saw him approaching, turning into a laugh from Fíli’s table-top dance scene. His suitor was as ridiculous as they came, he decided, even if he was rather resplendent in his red tunic and glittering gold clasps in his hair that stole his breath away. No one could dance as well as Fíli, however, with his quick feet and even balance, and Bofur knew it. Still, he could be flamboyant about it, and it always brought a smile to his face.
“Well, look here! An attractive flute player, simply waiting to be offered a drink,” Fíli said over the loud din of the drums and mandolins and chatter, a flush across his cheekbones that Bofur noticed even in the dim torch light of the hall. Ridiculous, flamboyant, and handsome. What was Bofur to do?
“Aye, and what’s to be done about that?” Bofur teased right back, standing up from his stool and meeting Fíli halfway, hooking his thumbs in his belt.
Fíli looked to the tankards in his hands and gave him a look of mock surprise. “I seem to have an extra beer! Would you like some?”
Bofur chuckled and took one from Fíli’s grip. “Give that here, you twit.” They knocked the tankards together and swung back their heads to down half of them at once. Bringing the tankard away from his mouth, Bofur brought his cheek next to Fíli’s and whispered into his ear, “You’re looking a little hot and bothered, there, love.”
Fíli laughed and took another swig. “Aye? I would say the same to you, since you were watching me the whole time you played!” Bofur wrapped his free arm around his waist and playfully nipped at his jaw in retribution, making Fíli laugh and squirm in his grip.
“I can’t help myself when my suitor looks so marvelous in red and gold, you can’t blame me,” Bofur said teasingly, watching the sea of dancers spin and twirl on the floor a dozen or so paces away.
“I suppose,” Fíli said contemplatively but there was a mischievous glint in his eye as he looked where Bofur was watching. He turned in Bofur’s grip and set him with a mock-serious look, raising his tankard. “You need to drink yours.”
Bofur raised his brows. “Oh, I do?”
“Yes! Drink it!”
“I’m almost done, you git!”
“Oh, fine, naggy prince,” Bofur winked and downed the rest of his beer, plopping it down on the nearest table with a meaningful look, a smile perpetually teasing his lips. “There, now you. Yes, drink up! What is this about?”
Fíli finished his tankard and put it next to Bofur’s on the table but before he could give him a proper answer, he took his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. He turned and pulled Bofur to him, putting his hand on his waist and holding his hand up. “Dance with me!” His smile was wide and his eyes bright, Bofur’s courting beads glittering in his hair, so for a moment in time Bofur forgot that his feet were moving and he tripped into Fíli. Luckily he caught him, albeit with hysterical laughter. Bofur flushed hotly but tried pretending he was not utterly embarrassed, dragging Fíli into the dance seamlessly and focusing more on his feet than he should have.
“Have I told you you’re completely adorable?” Fíli chuckled, his eyes roving the lead mine administrator’s face, admiring every wrinkle and that blush that lit up his face so well.
Bofur rolled his eyes and tugged gently on a clump of hair from where his hand was on his shoulder. “Don’t even start,” he grumbled but Fíli knew he was just putting on airs. The laughter had not left his eyes yet.
“But you are! You, tripping on your way to the dance floor? I’ve never seen such a thing! I wonder why, pray tell?” Fíli goaded, pausing in the dance along with the crowd of others to walk circles around Bofur, clapping and working some twisting steps before taking him up in the circle again.
“You’re rather full of yourself, you know that?” Bofur chuckled and shook his head, taking Fíli’s hand and spinning him around. Oh, that hair. It streamed like wheat as he spun in the golden light of the hall. He would never cease to marvel at it. And that cheeky grin he bestowed upon him when he pressed his front to his own, all dimples and sass. There was nothing about Fíli that Bofur wouldn’t delight in.
“Oh, yes,” Fíli said without hesitation, making Bofur laugh heartily. “You knew that already. But it’s only because of the way you look at me sometimes. I feel more important than I ought to,” he said blatantly, his smile subdued but meaningful, and Bofur caught the sensation of his hand on his waist gripping tighter onto him.
Bofur smiled at him as tenderly as he could amidst the boisterous dancing people around them and the sprightly music ringing in the hall. Fíli’s heart might have fluttered out of his chest at seeing those lovely eyes looking at him like he said they do, but if his heart had left him, then it had nowhere else to go but Bofur’s possession, and that was all right with him. He started laughing for no particular reason and Bofur followed suit, pulling Fíli along the dance floor with no thought but each other.
It was a few more rounds of dancing and laughter before Fíli and Bofur left to refresh themselves with more beer… and a race or two with the Company to see who could down their drink of choice fastest. Bofur won once, then Nori, and the last round, Bilbo stole the quickest gulp. The Hobbit was sufficiently drunk off the Dwarfish ale, and Thorin also (quite a surprise to Fíli, to be light), so they made to steal away. Glòin with his wife on his lap and the others jeered and hooted as the King and Consort disappeared through the crowds of people, who, all quite into their cups, started cheering also despite not knowing what was happening. Fíli had to use Bofur for a support beam as he could hardly stand up through his hysterical laughter.
The night started to fade away into the early hours of the next morning, many of the Dwarrows leaving the Great Hall to meander back to the warmth of their beds, and so the music became more and more subdued as those who stayed lingered and continued drinking, talking up storms and tales to make mothers cringe. Feeling the sweat dripping down this back, Bofur deeply wanted some cool relief, so he took Fíli by the hand and led him away from the table where the Company sat and brought him to the outside balconies that faced Dale and the snow-blanketed fields between.
Small flakes fell onto the granite-carved balustrades and piled in the corners of the balcony, but it had started snowing late this year so it was not thick, and the night was relatively cool. The air chilled Bofur’s back at first but it became bearable, especially when Fíli pressed himself along his side, his arm tentatively wrapping around his waist, laying his head on his shoulder. They were alone out here, the music from the hall filtering in quietly as background noise in the windless night. They looked out across the fields at the glittering lights of Dale, surely amidst their own Yule revelry.
“Mahal’s boots, I am tired,” Fíli said before yawning, pulling Bofur closer and burying his head under his chin.
“Oh! I nearly forgot,” Bofur said suddenly, reaching into his pocket. “I have a Yule present for you.”
Fíli perked up a little, standing a bit away to face Bofur. “You really didn’t have to give me anything, you know. I got you something too, but, really…,” he said bashfully, at least until he saw what Bofur held in his hand.
It was a pocket watch, the front carved of wood with a backdrop of a range of mountains and a thicket of pine trees along the front. Instantly Fíli recognized the Blue Mountains, captured perfectly in every detail, and if he wasn’t mistaken, it was the view from the Eastern Road, looking north-west. Gingerly Fíli took the watch, fitting the size of his palm, and ran the silver chain through his fingers in awe. It was beautiful. The wood was stained dark but it allowed for enough detail to show through, and Fíli could see the finest details on the pine trees.
“Because you keep losing track of time. You’re always late to meetings. You can be like Thorin in that way,” Bofur said shyly, watching Fíli’s face. “Y-you don’t have to keep it with you, it’s just a watch, a thing, so…,”
Fíli shook his head adamantly. “No, I’ll keep this with me all the time, Bofur. It’s lovely. It really is, truly,” he looked up at him and grinned. “Don’t be so down on your work, heart,” he lifted his free hand and held it against his jaw tenderly, keeping his eyes aligned with his to convey his meaning in earnest. He raised his head to kiss his cheek softly. “I have something for you, also, just a moment, I have to dig for it,” he laughed a little then, pulling open his jerkin to access an inner pocket.
“How many pockets do you have for all you knives? Seriously?” Bofur chuckled and shook his head.
“A lot,” he replied simply, laughing along. “Here it is, and don’t hate me for it.”
He handed over a ring of molded silver studded with garnets, careful geometric designs of Bofur’s sigil over the square front, runes along the band telling of the owner of the ring and the maker of it. “You made this?” Bofur asked in disbelief. He knew Fíli worked the forges well, but he had never heard of him making jewelry, or rings for that matter. He usually crafted swords and knives and axes and the occasional household item. His work was always practical. But a ring… a ring with garnets! Bofur’s mouth fell open as Fíli nodded, biting his lip through a smile.
“You remember me using those ring measurements on you a few weeks ago? You had no idea what I was doing, but it was for this,” he nodded toward the ring in Bofur’s palm, then as he slid it onto the middle finger of his left hand in bewilderment. “I know you don’t like jewelry really, but I wanted to give you something to wear. Does it fit? Is it too loose, too tight? I can always adjust it.”
“No, it’s perfect. Fíli, you made this… a ring! For me! Oh, Fíli, and I gave you a silly watch! A watch for a ring…,” Bofur started but he took Fíli’s jaw in his hands and pulled him forward for a kiss that warmed them to their fingertips. It lingered long, but when they pulled apart they put their foreheads together, smiles wide.
“A ring for a watch! I’ll have to get you something else, or I’ll—“ Bofur began but Fíli cut him off.
“Shut up about the ring and kiss me again or I might freeze my lips off,” Fíli pulled Bofur forward by his braids and kissed him full on the mouth once more as the snowflakes floated into their hair like dust, the music playing a soft tune in the hall.