Kili slammed three mugs down on the table and sat on the bench across from you and Fili. “What is the point of being prince if I have to wait in line for beer?” he said with a huff.
You gulped yours down. “Patience is a virtue, my friend.”
“Well, if you have so much patience, you can go get the next round.”
“I never said I had it, I just said it’s a virtue.”
The brothers chuckled at you and sipped from their mugs. The three of you met a couple times a week at this tavern, sitting at the same table and ordering the same things. It was the one sense of familiarity you all had since your return to Erebor. You had risked your lives together and now you lived together, just down the corridor from each other in the mountain. They were your closest friends.
Kili slammed his mug down, cackling at some quick remark you had said, but Fili froze with his eyes towards the door. “Oh no,” he said. “No, no, no.”
“What is it?” you asked.
“Arabella,” he whined. “She won’t leave me alone. She must have realized we come here and followed us.”
“Could you be any more arrogant?” you asked.
“Yeah, maybe the dam’s just here for a drink.” Kili said.
You both peeked over Fili’s shoulder towards the door and saw Arabella surveying the pub. She looked like a lion on the prowl.
“Or not,” Kili said.
“Yeah, she’s definitely here for you,” you said.
Fili groaned, holding his head in his hands.
You turned to around for a better look. Arabella was beautiful. Her hair was perfectly braided every moment of her life and she dressed in the finest and most fashionable clothes. Half of you was jealous. The other half was impressed she came into the tavern without a guard and bells on her toes.
“So she likes you?” you asked. “What’s bad about that? She’s rich and beautiful. Is she nice? Smart?”
“She’s smart, all right,” Fili said. “Smart enough to convince everyone her intentions are pure. But I know she only wants me for the crown.”
Kili and you both groaned. All admiration for Arabella just went right out the window.
“If you turn her down enough times, she might go for Uncle instead,” Kili said.
You laughed loudly at that. The sound was enough to pull Arabella’s attention to you, then she saw Fili and grinned like an orc.
“Mahal, here she comes,” Fili said.
“Just pretend you’re courting someone else. She can’t do anything about that,” you said. You didn’t feel badly about lying to a gold digger.
“That’s a great idea,” Kili said. “Just tell her you’re promised to a dam from another kingdom… or do that?”
Fili had yanked you into his arms and kissed you fiercely. You squeaked into his mouth. Your arms tried to flail, but he had pinned them down. You had no choice but to wait it out.
“She’s gone, she left!” Kili whispered across the table.
Fili let go of you and you smacked his arm a few times. “Fili!”
“I’m sorry! Mahal, (Y/N), I’m sorry. I panicked! I-I did what you said to do!”
You wiped your mouth with the sleeve of your tunic. “I said pretend to court someone. I didn’t mean me!”
“Well, you don’t have to wipe your mouth. Was it that bad? I thought it was a nice kiss,” Fili said.
“We’re not talking about this,” you said, gulping down the rest of your beer.
“I didn’t realize you were such a good kisser. I mean, Oliver always told us you were, but-”
“Shut your mouth right now.”
“Aw, Fi, she’s blushin’,” Kili squealed, pinching your heated cheek.
You stood and kicked your leg over the bench. “I’m leaving.”
Fili caught your waist. “(Y/N), I’m sorry. We’re just teasing but we’ll stop.” You plopped back down and gave Kili a warning look. “And I’ll set Arabella straight too.”
You shifted in your seat, thinking. “Nah. If she’s the way you say she is, she shouldn’t get what she wants.”
“So you’ll help me?”
Fili elbowed you. “You’re sure you can kiss me in front of everyone without wiping your mouth afterwards?”
“No kissing,” you said.
“No kissing?” Fili asked.
“How will she know you’re courting?” Kili asked.
“Silly, silly boys,” you sang, standing and picking up three mugs from a passing tray. You handed them out and sipped from yours. “When’s the last time you danced, Fi?”
He licked his beer soaked mustache. “Ugh, never?”
“Get practicing then, because tonight we’ll be doing a lot of it.”
The brothers shared a look. “There’s a ball tonight?” Kili asked.
“Yeah, but I wasn’t really planning on attending…” Fili said.
“Considering it’s in your uncle’s honor, I think you should be there. And if you’re there dancing with another dam, Arabella will have no choice but to accept that you’re taken.”
Your empty mug hit the table and Kili asked if you wanted another. “No, thanks. Gotta go see what I have in my wardrobe that shouts, ‘courting the future king.’”
Fili stood as you left. “Go to the dressmakers’ for a new gown. I owe you big for this, (Y/N).”
“Make sure it’s red so you’ll match,” Kili said, pointing between you and Fili.
When you left, Fili slowly sat back down, staring at the empty table.
“So how really was that kiss, brother?” Kili asked.
“Good. She-she’s a good kisser,” he answered absently. He looked up and saw Kili’s smirk and shoved his arm hard. “Shut it.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
You had just figured out how to tie the laces of your dress yourself when there was a knock on the door. “(Y/N), it’s us,” Fili said.
You jogged to the door, opened it, and then returned to your place in front of the mirror. You were too busy fussing with your hair to see the shared look between the brothers.
“(Y/N), you look radiant,” Kili said.
You met him through the mirror. “Thanks, Ki. You too.”
Fili’s gaze slowly fell from your shoulders to your ankles as he took you in. The gown accentuated the curve of your waist and your straight back while showing off your bare shoulders and neck. He was entranced until he felt his brother elbowing him. “The color matches perfectly.”
You turned and grinned, stepping to him. “News travels fast around here. By the time I got to the dressmakers’ they had already heard of our ‘courtship’ and had a matching swatch all ready.” You looked down as you wrung your hands. “We’re lying to a lot of people.”
“I know. You can still change your mind,” he said lifting your chin. When you shook your head, he continued. “We’ll set everyone straight soon. And Uncle and the others already know the truth, thanks to Kili’s big mouth.”
You looked to Kili with a tilted head. “Really?”
“Was I supposed to lie to everyone too?” He asked, shoulders high in question.
“Let’s try to keep the truth from Arabella, okay? Think you can do that?” you asked.
“Yes,” he groaned.
You laughed, returning your attention to Fili. His eyes were soft as he stared down at you. Then he shook his head and asked you to turn around.
“Because I asked you to.”
You rolled your eyes and turned, watching in the mirror as he pulled something silver out of his pocket. You whirled back around to him. “What’s that?”
“I made it for your unruly hair,” he said.
You looked at the piece in his hand. It was made of silver that circled elegantly around three large rubies. “Like your crown,” you said.
“It’s beautiful.” Your eyes met in the silence. Then you turned around and shivered as he secured it in your hair. “My hair is not unruly.”
“It was until we got to Erebor,” he said.
“Yours was no better!”
When he was done, you turned, seeing half of the piece shine in the mirror. “Thanks, Fi.”
This time, Kili was the one to break the silence. “If you’re ready, m’lady,” he said with an arm out to you.
You skipped over to him, smiled over your shoulder at Fili and let his brother lead you through the winding corridors to the grand hall. When the great doors were before you, Fili took your other arm in his. “Ready?”
“I just remembered everyone’s going to be staring at us,” you groaned.
Fili chuckled. “You can take out orcs, wargs, and trolls blindfolded. This’ll be easy.”
“And you’re in a Durin sandwich,” Kili said, smooshing you between him and his brother. “Nothing can touch you.”
“Except Fili’s mustache braids,” you said.
“You love ‘em and you know it,” Fili said, nodding to the guards to open the doors.
Your eyes blew wide and your senses were overloaded as the princes pulled you into the hall. There were hundreds of dwarfs on the dance floor and milling about the tables along the walls. The music roared from the stage in the corner and echoed off the twinkling chandeliers above. You smelled delicious food of all kinds and strong scents and perfumes assaulted you from every angle.
You were sure the princes were greeted constantly but you noticed none but the King’s as you were ushered up to the high table. The Durin sandwich continued even at the table as you were sat between them.
“Easy enough so far, right?” Fili said.
“I’ve never sat up here,” you said distractedly as you oversaw the entire hall. Pride bubbled in your stomach. It wasn’t because you were at the high table, but because you were with your friends.
“I don’t see Arabella, do you?” Kili asked.
“No,” Fili said.
“There she is. I can feel her eyes trying to burn holes into my face,” you grumbled.
Arabella had been glaring at you, but as soon as the brothers turned to her, she leaned her head back, laughing loudly and falsely at the joke told by her escort. She was wearing red as well, but the shade was wrong. You smirked.
Fili put his arm over the back of your chair. “Maybe we shouldn’t have done this. I didn’t mean to make you an enemy, (Y/N).”
“I’m in a Durin sandwich. What can she do?” While Arabella was looking, you smoothly kissed his cheek.
His smirk was blinding. “What happened to no kissing?”
“Not on the lips.”
“But my mustache braids will miss you,” he said, sending them swinging back and forth.
You leaned back into his arm, laughing so hard your eyes squinted closed. Then, you felt him reach for your hand and kiss your knuckles. Before you could say anything, he waved over a server who delivered goblets of port to the three of you.
Kili lifted his to you. “To good port and good company. What else do we need?”
You clinked your goblet to his, then turned to Fili. Again, his eyes were soft as he leaned to you and kissed your hair. “What else do we need?”
You froze. “We need to dance.”
“We need to dance, Fili. Look at her, she’s coming over.”
You watched Arabella use her elbows as swords as she cut through the crowd. She crossed the floor and flew up the steps and stood right in front of Fili on the other side of the table. She curtsied perfectly. “My Prince, My Prince.” She didn’t acknowledge you. “Prince Fili, I-”
Fili spoke over her. “Arabella, I don’t believe you’ve met my intended. This is (Y/N).”
You almost choked. Intended? You were supposed to be courting!
She made a cute, short sound. “We’ve met. Prince Fili, I wondered if I could be so bold as to ask you for the next dance?”
“I’m sorry, Arabella, but I already have a partner. Every dance for the rest of my life will be most happily spent with (Y/N).”
You pinched him under the table, but he only sent you a tooth decaying grin.
“Surely she could share you. I only ask for one dance, my Prince,” she said.
“Oh, Arabella, was it?” She hummed, tilting her head in poorly concealed rage. You continued, “You see, I am so selfish. I simply love to dance and plan to keep Fili by my side all night. Though I know your escort- is it Oliver? I know he’s a wonderful dancer, so I’m sure you’ll have a delightful night.”
Arabella almost vibrated with her anger. “Well, I can’t say I’m not disappointed. Maybe next time.”
“I don’t think so,” you said sweetly.
She turned, sending her skirts out in a wind, and started down the stairs. She growled at Oliver when he tried to take her hand.
Kili leaned to you, squeezing your arm. “You’re awful!”
“(Y/N), you’re wicked,” Fili said, laughing.
“Me?! You’re the one saying ‘we’re intended!’ Are you trying to scare off every dam in the kingdom or just Arabella?”
Fili only laughed as you took another sip of your port. After a moment, he stood, pulling you up next to him.
“What?” you asked.
“We better go dance or she’ll come right back,” he said.
You groaned. You enjoyed dancing, but not with every pair of eyes in Erebor watching you. “If you step on my feet it’s all over. I’ll give you right to her.”
“Come on,” he said, leading you to your spot by your waist. He stood across from you and bowed as you curtsied low. You chuckled and shook your head at his goofy grin. “I’ve been practicing,” he said.
Step in, step out, and back in. You circled his right shoulder, leaving a breath of air between your raised hands. “Oh, please tell me you practiced with Kili. Please tell me how it went.”
You parted. You circled the next dwarf in line and when you met Fili again he said, “That’s exactly how it went and, might I add, it went pretty well.”
You giggled, pushing your hair over your shoulder when you could stand still. “Did he curtsey?’
“Yes he did. He’s better at it than you.”
“Maybe he can give me lessons!”
You returned to the starting positions and pretended to fall over as you curtsied again. The song ended and you moved toward the high table. Fili stopped you.
You looked around watching the dwarfs on the floor pair up. “But it’s a slow one.”
He grabbed your waist and hummed. “What’s wrong with that?” He pulled you to him and laced his fingers in yours. “Isn’t is suspicious if leave just now?”
You allowed him to lead you in slow circles around the floor. You felt a bit awkward, not knowing where to look. To avoid his face, you looked at your joined hands. Your sleeves matched his perfectly, though the material of your gown was lighter and daintier than that of his robes. The weight of the hair piece he gifted you filled you with confidence. You wondered how you must look as you danced together. Again, butterflies of pride swarmed in your stomach and you leaned your head on his shoulder.
“I could get used to this,” he said.
“What? Lots of rich dams chasing after you?”
You tripped over your own foot and he caught you.
“You falling for me?” he asked with light smile.
“Of course not,” you said. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to the washroom.”
He called your name.
“I’ll be right back, promise.”
You walked swiftly out of the grand hall. When no one from the ball was in sight you ran down the corridor to the washroom. You stepped inside and closed the door, leaning against it. You felt dizzy and sick suddenly. Fili must have been joking. But why would you take it to heart in the first place? You knew his jokes and tricks. This had to be one of them. You tried to decide if you were upset about it.
Someone banged on the door. “One moment!” you called.
“(Y/N), it’s Kili. Come out.”
You opened the door. He was flushed and his hair out of place. You fixed it. “What’s wrong?”
“Are you all right? Fili went to follow you and got ambushed by Arabella.”
“Yes, I’m fine. I’ll go find him and we’ll meet you back at the table.”
Kili left and you huffed out a breath, smoothing your dress. You heard voices and followed them, knowing it must be Fili. You heard their conversation echoing in the halls before you found them.
“Arabella, I don’t feel for you that way. I’m sorry.”
“Prince Fili, we are meant to be together. We have been promised to each other since we were young.”
“No, we haven’t.”
You rolled your eyes and snorted. Then you heard Fili’s answer.
“Arabella, you know I love (Y/N). I always have.”
“Forget about her-”
You rounded the corner and saw them in the low light of the corridor. Her hands were on his chest. “Arabella, will you excuse us, please?” You asked with venom.
“No, I will not. I know this is a sham. You don’t love him. Don’t pretend you do.”
You crossed to Fili, shaking your head at her. “I’m not pretending. We don’t need to explain anything to you. Please go back to the ball and enjoy the rest of your night.”
“I will not enjoy anything! You two are both lying to the entire kingdom!”
Fili’s hand landed on your waist and he turned you to him. He was completely focused on you as if Arabella had vanished and never existed. The back of his fingers trailed down your cheek. “I am not lying to anyone. Are you?”
You leaned into his touch. “No.” You kissed him. On the lips.
You didn’t hear Arabella huff and disappear into the ball once more.
You parted from him, smiling deliriously. Then you snapped back to your senses. “Ugh. Fili!”
You paced, throwing your hands into the air. “I don’t know what this is!”
“What what is?”
Mahal, was he dense sometimes. “What this is!” You motioned violently between him and you. He caught your hands. You stood still but your emotions were running rampant through your body. You didn’t know whether to cry or scream, so you sighed instead, feeling your shoulders slouch. “What if we are pretending? What if we’re wrapped up in this game and don’t actually have real feelings for each other?”
“I know I have real feelings for you, amrâlimê.”
You paused at the term. “Because I’m in a pretty gown that matches your robes. That’s it.”
“That’s definitely not it.”
You spoke over him. “What if I’m just like her? What if I only think I love you because of my new seat at the high table and the great service at the dressmakers’ and everyone looking at me like I’m special.”
“You are special.”
“Fili,” you groaned.
“(Y/N),” he mocked you.
Your lungs deflated in a laugh.
He held your shoulders. “Ready to listen?”
“Listening,” you grumbled.
“I have loved you as a friend since we were dwarflings. You have always been different than any other dam I knew.”
“Thanks,” you said, with sarcasm.
“I thought you were listening?” You laughed and he continued. “I always thought it was because we were such good friends. Then I kissed you in the pub. And I saw you in my colors and you sat next to me at the high table, we danced, you went everywhere on my arm. You were mine. And it felt right and I don’t want that to go away.” His fingers ran through your hair. “I made that hair piece for you years ago. Every name day or Durin’s Day I planned to give it to you and I never did. Now you have it and I’m so proud to see you wearing it. I-I’m rambling now.”
You shook your head and smiled, encouraging him to continue.
He let out a breath. “I’ve always loved you, (Y/N). I’m so in love with you. I’ve realized that today.”
You pushed his hair over his shoulder. “What is Kili gonna say? He and I were the ones who were always going to get married.”
“Mahal,” he groaned.
You laughed. “Come here,” you said, pulling him down to you and kissing him. He rested his forehead against yours. “I love you too,” you said.
“Because of your spot at the high table?”
“No, silly. Because of this beautiful dress you bought me.”
“Shut it,” he said, kissing you again.
When Fili led you back to the high table, Kili was waiting for you. Fili pulled out your chair for you and when you sat, he leaned to Kili. “She said yes, by the way.”
“You’re actually courting now? (Y/N)! I thought we were supposed to get married!”
Fili rolled his eyes and you giggled.
“Sorry, Ki, he beat you.”
“Damn.” But his smile was bright. He wrapped an arm around your shoulders and kissed your cheek. “Congratulations.”
When he pulled away, his arm was replaced by Fili’s. You turned and kissed his lips again.
“You missed the mustache, didn’t you?”
“Oh, Mahal,” you groaned as the brothers laughed.