She was settled in her comfortable chair in front of the fireplace in the company's room. She could tell that the fire was starting to burn down and would need another log soon, but she ignored it for the moment, focused on getting an intricate section of her knitting just right. She had just finished the row when she heard the light scuff of quiet footsteps. Tilting her head slightly, she called, "Kili?"
He chuckled but there was an underlying hint of sadness, "How do you do that?"
She smiled at him, "I've told you, hobbits have good hearing. It helps us be sneaky and stay out of sight. Come, look at my knitting and tell me what you think?"
He obediently took the bundle she held out to him and examined it closely, "What are you making?"
She frowned slightly, "I'm trying to make fingerless gloves for Dwalin for when he's patrolling outside Erebor that would fit under his knuckle dusters. Trying to give them a bit of strategic cushioning for when he hits something without making it too thick that it impedes movement and flexibility. So? How does it look?"
There was honest admiration in his voice, "It looks really good. And you've got the dwarven pattern just right, it's one that he's always favored. Are you at a good stopping place?"
She nodded, "Yes, I just finished a row. So what brings you to my corner of Erebor?"
He handed her the knitting and she tucked it away in the basket, "It's a lovely day outside, I thought that you might want to go on a walk with me."
She smiled at him and stood carefully, "I would like that."
She held out her arm and he gently took it and looped her arm through his. He walked slowly, shortening his stride to make easier for her to keep up. When she heard the click of the door behind them letting her know that they'd left the room, a hint of anxiety shot through her. Trying to distract herself, she asked cheerfully, "So, tell me how things are coming along. Have they managed to get that first shaft unblocked yet? And I know that the gates are fixed, but have they truly been repaired or is it just the quick fix that they did to keep the storms out?"
She heard the sound of people around them, a myriad of voices chattering, but tuned them out easily, all of her attention on Kili. He laughed and it sounded a little bit easier than his earlier one. "My, full of questions aren't you? We're you always this nosy?"
She replied pertly, "You should be used to it by now. We've known each other nearly a year, give or take, so it shouldn't surprise you in the least. Besides, you're one to talk about being nosy. Some of the questions you asked me, you awful thing."
His voice was filled with faux innocence, "I have no idea what you mean."
She laughed at that, the sweet sound turning heads, not that she could see it. "You know exactly what I'm talking about, little brother. You're as curious as a cat and then some. And don't think that Dwalin hasn't told me about you and Fili, thick as thieves you two were according to him, and always asking why, why, why. Said that it was enough to drive a dwarf fair daft at times."
He glared at the watching dwarves and they quickly found other places to be. He fought to keep his voice light and cheerful when he mock grumbled, "It's not fair, Dwalin telling you everything. We need someone to tell us what sort of things you got up to as a pebble."
Amusement filled her voice, "I was a faunt, not a pebble. I would tell you that I was a perfect child, but I was quite the wild little thing. It amused my mother and both baffled and horrified my father at times, but he loved both of his wild lasses unconditionally. I knew that whatever trouble I had gotten into, he would just shake his head and sigh, before sitting me down and sorting out whatever it was that I had gotten myself into this time. He was a very good man, I was fortunate to have him as my papa."
He carefully steered her around a corner and down a flight of stairs, "He sounds like it. Did your mother get upset over your escapades?"
Bella laughed so hard at that that she had to lean heavily on Kili's arm so that she didn't fall. When she finally managed to pull herself together, she explained, "My mother was a Took lass through and through. Half the scrapes that I got into were directly her fault. She was wild and lovely and free. And yet somehow she and my father fit so well together, they complimented each other. What about your father? You've never really talked about him, just your amad."
Kili answered absently, steering her carefully around a section under construction, "Well, adad's quiet, I suppose, compared to the rest of us Durins. We're a noisy lot, as I'm sure you've already figured out. But he's got a mischievous streak as wide as Ered Luin. Where do you think Fee and I get it from, certainly not uncle." He greeted the guards absently as they passed and they murmured greetings in return.
Bella smiled at the guards, best she could, and they offered her quiet greetings as well. "That's true, he's not exactly the most cheerful, although he's getting better. Are the bandages still properly in place? You know what the elves said, no direct sunlight on my eyes." She frowned as she suddenly realized what he'd sat, "Wait, your adad's alive?"
Kili had released her arm and was carefully adjusting the bandage wrapped around her eyes that circled her entire head. Focused on the task, he answered, "Yeah, he stayed in Ered Luin to help amad, even though he really wanted to come. You thought he was dead?"
She shrugged, "Well, you've never mentioned him, just your amad. I was afraid to ask."
Kili waved her concern aside, "When you meet them, you'll understand. You're all set. Ready?"
She nodded, tugging her shawl closer around her, "It'll be nice to go outside, feel a breeze on my face."
He looped her arm through his and tugged her towards the gate, "As the lady wishes."
They were through the large gate in moments and stepping out into the sunshine. The breeze was light and not too brisk. Smiling, she turned her face up and just allowed the sun to soak into her skin. Kili didn't say anything, just stood there and allowed her to drink in the sunlight as much as she wished. It was several minutes before she finally tilted her head back down and smiled at him. "Thank you, Kee. It's nice to feel the sun on my face. Do you have duties that you need to tend to or can we stroll for a bit?"
He started leading her down the path, "No, my duties are done for the day and the others know where to find me. I'm yours for as long as you wish."
They walked in silence for several moments, the only sounds were his footsteps and the swish of her skirts. She was the one to break the silence, her voice gentle, "Are you going to tell me what's bothering you?"
He didn't reply for a moment before asking, "Why do you think that anything is bothering me?"
She offered him a rueful, crooked grin, "Even a blind woman can tell when she's walking in the sun. There's a shadow in your voice, my sunny Kili. You do your best to conceal it and most probably don't hear it, but as I told you, hobbits have excellent hearing."
He sighed and it was a heavy sound, laden with a burden that he had been struggling to carry alone for some time now. "Promise you won't tell anyone?"
She squeezed his arm gently, "Of course, you have my word. Tell me what's going on, Kee."
It was like a dam had finally burst and the words just poured out of him. He spoke of Tauriel, the red headed elf maiden who was the captain of Thranduil's guards. Bella vaguely remembered seeing her talking to Kili one night outside of his cell, but that whole time was a bit of a blur. She'd remembered that the elf maid had been lovely though, and kind, something that had been notable in that place. As he told Bella about her, his voice was filled with love and yearning. He told her how Tauriel had saved him in Laketown and again during the battle. How they had been working together of the past several months trying to work out a treaty between Mirkwood and Erebor.
She just listened as he spoke and offered sympathetic noises at the correct points. When he spoke about how Tauriel was pulling away and how the dwarves in Erebor and even the company were against dwarves, although they thought that Tauriel was at least tolerable. About how confused he was, whether to chase her or follow her seeming wishes and let her be.
She waited until he ran out of words and walked for a few minutes in silence to allow him to process everything that he'd just spilled. Finally he heaved a sigh and asked, "Bella, what do I do?"
Keeping her expression neutral, she asked quietly, "Do you love her?"
His voice was raw and filled with emotion as he said, "She's my heart, Bella. My everything."
She said quietly, "Your One?"
He sucked in a sharp breath before admitting, "Yes! She's my One!"
She tugged him back into motion from where he'd frozen, "Then that's all you need to know. It doesn't matter that she's an elf and you're a dwarf. It's the heart that matters, everything else is just trappings. And the world will throw enough obstacles in your way without you adding to them. I'm not saying that you should run away and elope, just spend time getting to know her, woo her, show her that she's safe to trust her heart to your keeping. You don't have to rush into this, both of you have the rest of your lives in front of you. But don't let fear stop you from taking a chance on something truly wonderful."
He hugged her tightly and murmured, "Thank you, Bella."
She hugged him back, trying to wordlessly reassure him. When he finally released her, she murmured, "No matter what, I will always be on your side, Kee. If you need to talk, you know where to find me. I know how hard it is to be in love with someone that you think doesn't love you back."
Before he could speak, her ears perked up as she heard a heavy, even tread. She offered him a wicked smirk, "Speaking of hearts, I think that mine has found us."
Kili grumbled, but she could hear the relief and smile in his voice, "He hovers too much. It's like he doesn't trust me to take care of you."
She laughed at that, "If he didn't trust you, we wouldn't have made it past the gates. No, he promised that he would take tea with today, so he's probably coming to fetch me for that."
Kili stopped them and turned them towards where Dwalin was walking down the path. He watched Dwalin's face light up when he spotted Bella, he'd never seen the older dwarf look so happy and contented before, it was amazing how love could change a person.
Bella let go of Kili's arm and moved confidently towards Dwalin, "Husband, what brings you out of Erebor on this fine day?"
He swept her up and kissed her soundly before asking teasingly, "I'm looking for my errant wife, would you happen to know where she might've gone?"
She mock frowned, "I don't know, I think that this will need further investigation. Let's discuss it further over tea?"
Dwalin rumbled a laugh, "That can be arranged, Bombur even made those scones that you've been wanting."
She said imperiously, "Well, what are we waiting for then? The scones are waiting!"
Dwalin nodded his thanks to Kili and Kili grinned and nodded back. Bella called, "Thank you, Kili. It was so nice to take a stroll. Maybe you can come and talk to me again sometime, I always enjoy talking with my brother."
Kili called after their swiftly retreating figures, "I will."
As he watched them walk away, he thought wistfully that that was the kind of relationship that he wanted. Bella was right, he decided suddenly. That chance was right there in front of him, all he had to do was be brave enough to take it. Whistling cheerfully, he headed for the kitchens. He was suddenly hungry for scones.