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Having discovered the jewels which Thorin had promised Thranduil so many months ago, of course the next step was to ensure that they were returned to him as soon as possible. Thorin knew well that he could not go himself, not with his Council wrangling between themselves about which guild should get what support and what should or should not be done to help the new arrivals. He had every fear that if he took his eye off them for the length of a trip to the Woodland Realm, Erebor would fall into chaos despite the best efforts of his Company and his sister.

The obvious answer, of course, had been to send one of his nephews in his place. Kíli, being on good terms with any number of their elven allies, had taken on the duty gladly.

No one was quite sure how Bofur had managed to join the party. Thorin was tempted to blame Kíli’s sense of humour.

Either way, they had been on their way before Thorin knew anything of it and so all he could do was pray to Mahal for strength and deliverance.

He was unlikely to provide either, but it never hurt to ask.

***

Kíli couldn’t help but feel he had got the far better deal this time. While Fíli sat in Erebor attending Council meetings (and trying to find discreet ways to roll his eyes at Ori when they started discussing the same thing they talked about at the last seven meetings), Kíli got to escape the meetings, visit their friends and do all of it without a hint of censure from Uncle or Mum.

Although even Kíli would have to admit that Uncle wouldn’t have been terribly impressed with their arrival in the Woodland Realm.

‘We come bearing shiny things!’ Bofur had announced at full volume as they entered Thranduil’s throne room carrying the crate of jewels.

‘The envoys from Erebor, Your Majesty,’ Thranduil’s steward stated dryly.

Several of the assembled elves began to titter behind their hands and Kíli tried to find a subtle way of standing on Bofur’s foot. Not that he thought Thranduil would object, but Balin’s favourite maxim was running through his head; ‘There is a place and a time, Kíli, and that is neither here nor now’.

Kíli opened his mouth to apologise but Thranduil was already giving his small smile and waving his hand. Legolas laughed behind his own hand and Kíli smiled at his friend, rolling his eyes as they approached the dais on which Thranduil’s throne sat.

‘We have a long-owed gift from Erebor, Your Majesty,’ Kíli said formally, trying to remember the lines he had been given. He was fairly sure that they were meant to be followed by something about appreciating Thranduil’s help with the battle and being sorry that Thror hadn’t managed to hand them over before Erebor was attacked.

Which was complete rubbish, of course. Kíli’s great-grandfather had had no intention of giving the jewels to Thranduil and they all knew it. This was what Kíli hated about politics. There was so much lying, even when everyone knew the truth anyway. What was the point?

‘Your uncle is most kind, Kíli,’ Thranduil said politely. ‘It is good of him to think of us when there is still so much else to be done within Erebor.’

‘I think it was more a case of wanting them out of Erebor as soon as possible,’ Bofur opined blithely. ‘A few of the workers who found them got all starry-eyed at the sight. It was only natural dwarvish appreciation for such amazing jewels, but you know how twitchy Thorin gets about these things.’

‘Bofur, if you keep talking Uncle is going to have your tongue cut out when we get back to Erebor,’ Kíli hissed in warning. He knew Thranduil and Legolas would be able to hear him but he hoped no one else could.

‘In any case we appreciate both the jewels and the visit,’ Thranduil said grandly, a clear gleam of laughter in his eyes. Legolas’ expression was now utterly blank, which made it clear that he was laughing hysterically on the inside. ‘Come, we will place these in my rooms for now and there will be refreshments waiting for you. If you started at first light you must be hungry by now.’

Thranduil was a very intelligent elf, Kíli decided. He was starving. Then again, he was almost always starving, so perhaps it didn’t take a lot of thought to come to that conclusion.

‘Was Fíli not allowed to come?’ Legolas asked Kíli as they departed the throne room.

‘No,’ Kíli announced with no small amount of gloating in his voice. ‘Uncle said it did not take both of us, so Fíli had to go to the meetings instead!’

‘How unkind of Thorin,’ Thranduil said with a laugh. ‘Perhaps I should send him a note letting him know that I am not easily offended and he should feel free to keep both of you in Erebor if he has need of you and send someone else in your stead.’

‘It’s possible to stop liking someone very quickly,’ Kíli told him with a glare. He knew he was being teased, so it wasn’t quite as fierce as it might have been otherwise. ‘Besides, Fíli deserves to go to the meetings. I couldn’t find my spare bow last week and then I found that he’d hung it from the ceiling and was using it to dry his cloak!’

Legolas lost control of his composure at this point and began to howl with laughter, though he still managed to dodge the foot Kíli tried to trip him with. Thranduil kept a relatively straight face but made a slight choking sound, which made him sound like he’d swallowed something the wrong way.

‘It could be worse, lad,’ Bofur consoled Kíli. ‘At least you didn’t see what he was using your quiver for before we left.’

Kíli gave a shout of horror, knowing very well that almost everything which came out of Bofur’s mouth was true, if completely tactless. He was a second away from turning on his heel and marching back to Erebor to give his brother a good thump when Thranduil intervened again.

‘No, do not leave us, Kíli,’ he commanded easily, catching hold of Kíli’s shoulder and guiding him into his parlour. ‘Just think, if you wish to get your revenge you have experts with thousands of years of experience at hand.’

Kíli thought about this for a second before an evil smile spread across his face.

Oh, Fíli was going to regret this.

******