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Crochet Club

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Bilbo Baggins owned a yarn shop called The Sip & Stitch in Dublin’s Georgian quarter. There was always a pot of tea at the ready and delicious baked treats for customers. He sold the softest yarns in the most beautiful colors. His special orders always arrived on time. Anyone who knitted, needlepointed, embroidered, or did any kind of other needlework swore by his shop. But his real specialty was crochet. Six nights a week, not Sunday, he held a crochet club. There was a ladies’ club, a men’s club, two mixed clubs, a beginner club, and a children’s club on Saturday. It was whispered that his patience was legendary.

Perhaps his patience was polished over the years by the world’s grumpiest neighbour, Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin owned the Erebor Coffee shop across the street from The Sip & Stitch. Thorin’s nephew Kili managed it, but it was Thorin’s first and favorite so he spent more time than was good for Kili’s nerves hanging around micromanaging the shop.

Kili regularly pointed out that the coffee empire stretched over all of Ireland and he really should make a point of visiting each shop once per quarter. Kili had calculated that would keep Thorin out of his hair at least 40% of the year. That left another 60% to figure out.

A miracle appeared in the form of one Bofur Kefurson. A successful businessman from Northern Ireland, Bofur tasted the Erebor Coffee special proprietary blend while on a business trip and had immediately fallen in love. So, Kili blissfully watched his uncle spend hours a day haggling with Bofur about franchise rights in Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. Anything but harassing him!

On the second day of his second visit to Dublin to haggle with Thorin, Bofur returned to the Blue Mountain Bed & Breakfast run by Dori Rison where he always stayed when he had business in Dublin. Dori’s brother Ori was checking in a handsome new guest with golden blond hair and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. But that butt… he had to take a deep breath and force himself to look away before he embarrassed himself.

Ori called him over. “Mr. Kefurson! Meet Mr. Durin. He’s just arrived. Perhaps you’d share a table at dinner and give him a bit of orientation?”

Now, Bofur was the most congenial person ever born. He could have a stimulating conversation with a wall. Chatting with this young Adonis suddenly thrust in their midst required no effort and he readily agreed. Not that he was seriously interested, but he always appreciated beauty.

Fíli was pleasantly surprised, if a little overwhelmed, by the friendly welcome and the fact that the receptionist immediately assigned him a companion.

Born into an old family in the Normandie, on France’s Atlantic coast, Philippe Durin, moved to New Zealand at the tender age of 2. His climatologist parents spent much of their time studying ice cores from Antarctica and not so much raising their son. Often traveling to the frozen continent whenever possible, they left him safely in the care of his mother’s cousins Balin and Dwalin who lived in Auckland and did a good job turning the boy into the quintessential Kiwi man.

Balin was a lecturer of philosophy at Auckland University. Dwalin was a trainer and professional sportsman. Neither of them ever called him Philippe, always Fili. It was an Auckland thing.

Still, after having completed his doctorate in recreational sports therapy in Wellington, Fíli felt an itch to spend some time in Europe and explore his roots. He was not quite sure himself how that ended up with him accepting a position lecturing at Ravenhill University near Dublin, Ireland instead of setting up a practice in France.

That had been Monday. On Tuesday Fíli came back to an early dinner at the B&B to find out that part of Fíli’s orientation included being whisked off to a crochet club. It was men’s night and Bofur assured him it was the best way to start meeting people.

“But I don’t crochet…” Fili started.

“Doesn’t matter. Bilbo will teach you. Come on.” Bofur fairly dragged him out the front door after a very early dinner.

They made a quick stop at Erebor Coffee on the way. Kili looked at Fili and smiled crookedly. He made sure to put extra sprinkles on his babycchino. Bofur went behind the counter and made his own drink. He watched as looks passed between the two young men. Matchmaking thoughts began to form. He invited Kili to join them at Crochet Club.

Kili begged off because he had to close up the shop. But he promised to arrange the schedule so he could go the next week. Fili smiled at him flashing impossible dimples. Kili totally did not blush.

Despite his initial doubts, Fíli loved his evening in the crochet circle. Nobody made fun of him for being a novice. On the contrary, Bilbo put the complicated doily he was working on aside and proceeded to teach Fíli how to hold a hook, how to make a chain and then, because Fíli was a very fast learner, how to start on a simple square that would become a potholder.

Meanwhile, Kíli worried about the fact that he could not actually crochet. But of course he had not wanted to admit such a shortcoming in front of the most gorgeous guy he ever met immediately after just having met him. The guy looked like he was an expert on just about anything.

The Irishman figured it could not be that hard. It was like knitting but with one stick, so it had to be easy right? So Kíli watched a few videos on YouTube to learn the basics. Having learned that there are such things as different sizes of hooks and that they had to match the yarn, he went over to Bilbo’s shop the next day during his lunchbreak to get some supplies without making a total fool of himself. He lingered a little in the hopes that a certain Kiwi with a gorgeous butt would manifest, but he did not.

Fíli dropped by the coffeeshop twice the next week to grab a coffee - his office was only 30 minutes away, which was practically next door. It had nothing to do with Kíli’s broad smile or his over the top Irish charm.

The following Tuesday, Kíli bounded over to the crochet shop like an overeager puppy once he had seen Fíli go in. Truthfully, he had stood in the corner of the coffee shop window waiting for the opportunity to get a first ogle, before he went over himself. He thought he was discreet.

Unfortunately, despite the YouTube tutorials, Kíli managed to pretend that he was able to crochet for about as long as it took to get the mangled beginnings of his scarf out of his bag.

Bilbo began teaching both of them, and soon Fíli and Kíli giggled over their own mistakes.

Tuesdays became their favourite evenings. Although Bilbo asked them to join the beginners' club, they only sometimes were able to go crocheting twice a week. But Tuesdays were sacrosanct.

A week after their first meeting, they exchanged their phone numbers. Bofur insisted that Kíli was absolutely the best person to ask anything about Dublin and Fíli was a newcomer. Kíli had no idea what he had done right to give Bofur that impression, but he did not contradict, of course.

They took to sending each other images of their crochet mishaps when at home without Bilbo’s guidance.

The experience was only marred by the occasional appearance of Kíli’s uncle, Thorin. Usually he just waited outside the shop when they finished, berating Kíli for having failed to do something small in the coffeeshop and then accusing Bilbo of making his nephew remiss in his duties. At one point Kíli bought yarn in Bilbo’s shop during his lunch break, and Thorin came in to tell him his lunchbreak was over and why was he wasting his money on overpriced material for an effeminate hobby.

Kíli discreetly put the yarn back and left while Bilbo was still shouting at Thorin. He was glad Fíli was not there to witness that.

A month later, a miracle had happened. Fíli found an apartment just around the corner from the Blue Mountain B&B in a quaint old victorian mansion that had been split into small apartments.

As he did not know many people in Dublin yet, he invited everyone he knew of course - and thus Kíli, Bofur and Bilbo found themselves mingling with a few scientists.

Bofur almost despaired. Those two gorgeous idiots were dancing around each other, each missing the other’s awkward attempts of flirting. After a few beers, Bofur and Bilbo started to keep a slightly tipsy bet of who would try to hit on the other more - Kíli or Fíli. Bilbo bet on Fíli, and lost.

Now that Fíli had a proper apartment, his French cousin decided she needed to come for a visit - because she had not seen her Kiwi cousin in ages of course, nothing to do with her love for everything Irish or her thing for men with an Irish accent.

Livia Durin-Boucher was stormy and passionate in a way that baffled her Kiwi cousin. Unfortunately, she was also very perceptive. When Fíli mysteriously insisted that on Tuesday night Livia had to find her own entertainment because he HAD to go to his crochet club, she just cocked her head and asked, “So what’s his name?”

She agreed to sit in Fíli’s home Tuesday night eating take out and watching Netflix, if, and only if, in the afternoon they would visit the coffeeshop.

When Kíli had to attend to another customer, Livia dragged Fíli to a corner table.

“So. You say you’re not dating?”

“We’re just friends.”

“Right. If my last boyfriend had looked at me with half as much love as you look at Kíli, we’d be married by now.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“You need to ask him out. And let me tell you this.” She crossed her arms. “I know I meant to fly back home tomorrow, but I’m a freelancer. I can work from here. I will camp out at your place until you get that guy.”

Fíli’s lips twitched. “I don’t mind having you here. And I think you just want to ride my bike.”

It was a nice bike. Motorbikes are not terribly common in Ireland, because of the weather, but Fíli had one. He had a bit of a wild side too. It was just not as obvious as in his cousin.

So he took several detours when he gave her a ride back home, picked up his crochet bag and was on his way to the city again.

Livia had given him food for thought.

When Fili arrived at The Sip & Stitch a few minutes later, everyone was smiling at him, except Kili. Kili was grinning like a loon. He had a small wrapped package in his lap.

Fili dropped into the seat next to him. “Is that for me?”

Somehow, Kili smiled bigger and the room got brighter. Fili had to blink.

“I made it,” Kili said, suddenly soft and nervous.

Instantly, Fili knew exactly what it was. It was the most hideous scarf he had ever seen. He knew because he had sat beside Kili while he worked on it. Kili had merrily used whatever color he fancied the day he ran out of wool. He had incorporated new stitches as he learned them. It was a mess. Fili also knew that he would wear it for the rest of his life, one that he knew would be spent with this wild irresistible Irishman.

Kili handed over the package. Fili tore into it carefully, looking into Kili’s eyes the whole time. The onlookers cooed and awwed. Kili draped the scarf artfully around Fili’s neck and whispered an invitation in his ear.

Nothing more got done that night. Cheers of, “Finally,” and “It’s about time,” echoed through the shop. Bilbo threw up his hands, put away the crochet and pushed everyone out to the pub where he bought the first round. He disappeared a bit later making excuses about closing the shop properly.

Two pints later, Fili and Kili slipped out the door and hopped on the motorbike for the short ride to Kili’s place. While Kili adjusted his helmet, Fíli texted Livia that he would not be home and she could catch her flight back to France. He promised to call the next day.

Kíli's place turned out to be his Uncle’s house that has been in the family for generations. With rent in Dublin so brutal, Kili had been saving for a mortgage. They walked in the front door and had to spin around and avert their eyes. Thorin had beat them to it and was already on the couch making out with Bilbo.

After much hysterical shouting about knocking, and getting a room, and “gross” from both parties, Fili texted Dori to see if there was a room free. No need to put Livia out at this hour. And of course Dori had a room available for one of his favorite customers. Evidently, Bofur had apprised him of the situation and the two young men found themselves in the honeymoon suite with a bottle of champagne and a scarf that found several new uses.