It was half past six in the morning when the doorbell rang. Bilbo looked up from his morning paper at Thorin, who shrugged. They weren’t expecting anyone this early, not even the mailman. Bilbo put his paper and tea cup down and got up to answer the door while Thorin was making faces. Who in the world would get up voluntarily at this ungodly hour?
If Bilbo had any expectations they sure weren’t this.
“Tauriel!” he exclaimed, and upon seeing her rucksack and suitcase he added, “Is everything okay?”
Tauriel shook her head. “I’m so sorry to barge in like this, but I had nowhere else to go. Could I please stay here for Christmas?”
Bilbo moved to let her in. Tauriel had snow in her hair and clothes, even though it was a quite short trip from Thranduil’s to the Durin manor.
“Of course you can, Kíli will be thrilled,” answered Bilbo. “But what has happened?”
Tauriel put her rucksack down, took off her coat, and sighed. “Apparently Bard can’t make it here for tonight and Thrandy is more than a little snappy about it. And then I dared to mention that I can’t see my girlfriend during the holidays either even though she lives so close by, and then we had a big stupid fight and… well, I packed up my things and here I am.”
At this point Thorin had joined them in the hallway with his coffee cup, and Bilbo gave him a look that said that they did not need any unnecessary comments from him. Tauriel was clearly distraught and Thorin making comments about his opinion of Thranduil wasn’t going to be helpful at all. And for once he showed very uncharacteristic smartness by putting his cup down and helping Tauriel get her suitcase to the drawing room. Bilbo let out a relieved sigh and went to get Tauriel a cup of tea.
Just as Bilbo had poured the tea, Kíli came in to the kitchen, yawning. Bilbo had no idea how she was up so early because usually Kíli didn’t get up until noon if she had any say in the matter (very much like her uncle).
“What’s the matter?” asked Bilbo, raising an eyebrow. “Usually we never see you before noon.”
“Haha, tha-that’s funny,” Kíli yawned again and pouted. “Sigrid called Fíli, had apparently completely forgotten about the time difference. Fee’s still up making heart eyes at his phone, and I decided that I needed a coffee. It’s not the nicest thing to wake up suddenly to Star Wars Theme.”
Bilbo pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. As Kíli sprinkled cocoa powder into her coffee, he said, “Well, your day might just get better from that. Come on, there’s a surprise for you in the drawing room.”
“I don’t see how.”
“Just come, will you?”
Kíli made a grumbling noise as she got up with her coffee and followed Bilbo who could hardly contain his glee. She almost rolled her eyes at her uncle; he’d behaved the exact same way when he’d learned they were making a new Star Wars movie. Kíli sipped her coffee and asked, “Okay, so what is that surprise you’re talking–”
Kíli’s jaw dropped (as did almost also her coffee cup) when she saw Tauriel sitting on the drawing room couch, casually chatting with Thorin who was smiling and chuckling at something Tauriel had said.
Tauriel looked up and a wide smile spread on her face when she saw her girlfriend. “Kíli!” she exclaimed, got up and hugged the other girl – and almost spilled hot coffee over the both of them.
“Ah! Careful,” squeaked Kíli.
“Oh crap, sorry!”
Thorin covered his face in his cup and was trembling from restrained laughter. Bilbo nudged him and tried to look very cross but it was hard. The combination of Thorin laughing and Kíli and Tauriel being so cute and awkward with each other was simply too adorable. (Later on Kíli would remark that Bilbo and Thorin had behaved much the same way when they had first started going out.)
Bilbo sat on an armchair next to Thorin’s and asked, “So what were you and Tauriel talking about?”
Thorin shrugged. “This and that. Mostly she ranted about Thrandy, and I think I’m starting to change my opinion about her.”
Bilbo snorted a laugh. “So you just automatically like people who don’t like Thranduil?”
“Oh, you silly thing,” Bilbo laughed. “Anyway, I have to go for last-minute Christmas shopping with Dís, so can you take care of Frodo while we’re at it?”
Thorin managed only to nod when his cell phone started to play Darth Vader’s theme and startled everyone in the room. “Sorry, I have to get this, it’s Dad,” Thorin mumbled and went to the kitchen to talk.
“Is his ringtone really Darth Vader’s theme?” wondered Tauriel.
“Well, as you heard, it is,” said Bilbo. “And he’s not the only one. Mine is Binary Sunset.”
Kíli rolled her eyes. “Yep, they’re both massive nerds. And they even met in a Star Wars convention, not very surprisingly.”
Bilbo was going to retort something (Tauriel mumbled, “Says the dork who was cosplaying Princess Leia when I met her for the first time.”) but he was interrupted by Thorin’s yell.
“Oh my God I have to dress as Santa?! But I don’t have a Santa costume! Dad? Dad!”
Two seconds later Thorin stormed in and explained the situation. Thráin’s flight was going to be late and he couldn’t be Santa Claus for Frodo that day. And since the substitutes (Balin, Dori and Bifur) weren’t arriving at the Durin family house until tomorrow Thorin was going to have to do it. The only problem just was that Thorin did not have a Santa Claus costume and the chances of getting one on Christmas Eve were close to zero but he had to try.
“Does that mean you can’t watch Frodo after all?” asked Bilbo.
“Aye,” grunted Thorin. “I’m so sorry but it’s not my fault Dad’s flight is late. To his credit he was genuinely sorry he can’t make it.”
“No, no, I wasn’t blaming you, but who’s gonna look after Frodo? I can’t do it either because of all the shopping I have to do with your sister!”
At this point Tauriel cleared her throat and pointed at herself and Kíli. “We can do it. And it’s not gonna be any trouble either,” she added when Bilbo opened his mouth. “Honestly. I’m the intruder here, and I don’t wanna be completely useless.”
“Can you manage with a six-year-old?” asked Thorin.
“Sure,” answered Tauriel.
“I was talking about Kíli.”
Kíli made a fake gasp of shock. “Uncle, you wound me deeply! Last time I watched Frodo we were fine!”
Thorin scoffed. “You got pancake dough and smoothie in the ceiling.”
“I washed it away!”
“No you didn’t! Fíli did it for you!”
To that Kíli couldn’t say anything because Thorin was right. But it had been an accident and Fíli had got all the dough and smoothie off the ceiling, so what was the big deal? Plus she had kept Frodo alive, which was the main point!
Bilbo looked at Tauriel and muttered, “Can you look after both Frodo and your girlfriend?”
Tauriel made a face. “I think so. And Fíli will be here, right?”
“As if we’d ever let Kíli watch Frodo alone.”
Kíli made a face and kept pouting up until Thorin, Bilbo and Dís took off and left her, Tauriel and Fíli alone with Frodo. They gave Frodo some sheets of paper and crayons and let him draw happily on the drawing room floor while they talked about the Santa Claus situation. Kíli and Tauriel gave Fíli the summary of the whole thing and Fíli slapped his forehead.
“But it’s Christmas Eve! Where does Uncle think he’s gonna find a Santa costume at such short notice?”
“We know and for the love of God shush!” hissed Kíli. “We can’t let Frodo know that Santa isn’t real!”
Fíli snapped his mouth shut and scratched his head with a frown. They had to find a way to help Thorin but the thing just was, how could they? They couldn’t just make a Santa costume from scratch, they didn’t have any means to it.
And that was when Fíli jumped up and dragged Kíli with him upstairs, without another word. Tauriel let out a huff. Great. Oh well, she still had Frodo there, who had actually just finished a drawing and got up to show it.
“Where did Fee and Kee go?” he asked.
“No idea, they didn’t tell me anything,” answered Tauriel. “But let’s not worry about that. What did you draw?”
Frodo blushed a bit around his ears when he put the drawing on the table for Tauriel to see. The drawing featured his family in Christmas gear – but what surprised Tauriel the most was that Frodo had included her there. It was… a very sweet gesture and oddly moving. Tauriel didn’t cry a lot but now she did.
“Are you sad?” asked Frodo. “Don’t you like it?”
Tauriel shook her head, wiped the tears away and bent down to hug Frodo. “No, I’m not sad, and I love it. Thank you.” Then she went to get the cookie jar from the cupboard in kitchen. “Here,” she said and offered it to Frodo. “You’ve deserved one.”
Frodo’s face lit up and Tauriel knew she was going to get along with the lad just fine. Since Fíli and Kíli had left, she could just as well put on some Disney movie (which ended up being Tangled) and watch it in peace for a change.
Tauriel had no idea what to think when Thorin showed up again, now wearing a platypus costume and introducing himself to Frodo as Holiday Platypus, Santa’s close friend. But Frodo seemed to buy it anyway for both of their relief. Tauriel, however, did not buy it at all.
“What happened to Santa, Holiday Platypus?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at Thorin.
“Santa was unavailable so close to Christmas Day,” replied Thorin with a fake voice.
“Well, come in then, you must be exhausted, having come all the way from Australia.”
Thorin glared at Tauriel a bit.
“Australia?” said Frodo.
Thorin nodded eagerly. “That’s right, Frodo, I’m Santa’s representative in the Land Down Under. And… New Zealand! Santa called me and asked me to get these presents for Frodo.” He pointed at the sack next to him. “Maybe the lady could help me with the presents,” he added with a hint of annoyance in his voice because he couldn’t bend to grab the sack because of the costume. Tauriel almost cracked up as she carried the sack into the drawing room and emptied its contents on the floor for Frodo’s joy.
“Wow! Thanks!” Frodo exclaimed.
“You’re welcome, Frodo, Merry Christmas!”
Frodo looked up. “Why just Merry Christmas? Why not also Pippin Christmas?”
At this point Tauriel had to leave because she couldn’t bite back her laughter any longer. She’d just heard many long stories about Frodo’s mates Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took and their antics. When she got back, Thorin had just asked Frodo if he’d like to hear the story of Christmas.
“Come on, Frodo,” Tauriel helped Frodo on the couch.
Thorin cleared his throat. “A long time ago, in a land far, far away–”
“Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!” Drawing room door opened and in came Kíli, fully clad in a Santa Claus costume, beard and everything. Frodo got up and ran to hug her, yelling “Santa!” with joy, while Thorin was staring in aghast and Tauriel was facepalming. So this was what Fíli and Kíli had left to do.
Thorin clearly wasn’t impressed. “What are you doing here, Santa?” he asked.
“Well I’m here to see my old buddy Frodo,” answered Kíli with a similar fake voice to Thorin’s. “What are you doing here… weird… duck man?”
“I’m the Holiday Platypus!” said Thorin. “Your friend from Australia! You sent me here to give Frodo presents and tell him the story of Christmas, remember?”
Kíli frowned. “What?” she asked with her normal voice.
This was when Tauriel decided she needed to save the situation. “Hey Frodo, why don’t you open some more of your presents while Santa, Platypus and I have a talk in the kitchen.” She paused for a moment. “There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.”
When they made it to the kitchen, Thorin closed the door behind him and asked, “Kíli, what are you doing?”
“Well Fíli and I figured you’d never find a Santa costume and then Fíli remembered we had this in the attic!” answered Kíli.
“That’s very nice of you but could you please go? This is Frodo’s first Christmas here and I don’t want to screw it up.”
Kíli pouted. “Is it because I’m a girl?”
Thorin groaned. “Of course it’s not because you’re a girl! You make a good Santa but I really wanted to give Frodo some good memories about this Christmas and you’re wrecking it! Kíli, I’m sorry, but this is really important to me.”
Kíli glanced at Tauriel who nodded, and with a heavy sigh she said she’d take the costume back to the attic. “Next time I hope you remember it’s there.”
Thorin chuckled. “I’ll try.”
They went back to the drawing room where Frodo had opened a couple more presents (mainly small things, he’d get the big important ones the next morning) and was now playing with a Poe Dameron figurine. He’d already got Rey and Finn.
“Okay, Frodo, Santa has to leave now,” said Tauriel. “Wave them goodbye.”
Frodo looked first at Tauriel, then at Kíli, and finally at Thorin, almost tearful. “No! Don’t make Santa go! Please Mister Platypus, please make him stay!”
Well, it wasn’t like they hadn’t expected this. Kíli bit her lip and tried to think of an excuse – and then she had an idea.
“Alright, I’ll stay,” she said, and before Thorin made any objections she added, “but I want the Holiday… Platypus tell us all the story of Christmas!”
Then she, Tauriel and Frodo all sat on the couch. After this they could all start watching Star Wars together. Thorin mouthed Kíli thanks and cleared his throat again.
“A long time ago, in a land far, far away–”
This time in came Fíli who was dressed as Thor. He even had the hammer. At this point Tauriel couldn’t help herself anymore, she just completely lost it and fell off the couch, laughing. Fíli was unfazed by this, he simply waved the hammer and seemed extremely proud of himself. Thorin groaned aloud.
“… and that is why we celebrate Christmas today. The end,” Thorin finished the story. Frodo was smiling and said he thought it was a wonderful story.
“My favourite part was when Thor appeared to the shepherds and told them about the birth of the son of God,” grinned Kíli.
Even Thorin cracked up. “Yes, that truly was the highlight of the story.”
Fíli jumped up from the couch and announced, “Alright then, let’s watch Star Wars!” Frodo looked at him with eyes round as coins and he asked if Thor really liked Star Wars.
“Oh aye,” said Fíli. “All of us in Asgård like it!”
Then he went to search for the Blu-ray box while Kíli and Tauriel went to get cookies and popcorn. Kíli lamented a bit the fact that Bilbo and Dís weren’t there yet, let alone the rest of the family, but then again there was nothing to stop them from watching the movies several times. Besides, it was almost a tradition to watch all of them several times during Christmas.
Tauriel shook her head. “What have I got myself into?”
Kíli wrapped her arms around Tauriel’s waist and looked up at her. “I still think it’s safe to say you’ve never had a Christmas like this one.”
Tauriel laughed. “Well, you’re not wrong. Usually my Christmases have had way less insanity.”
Kíli laughed as well and tiptoed to steal a kiss from Tauriel before she said she wanted go get the Santa costume off. It was hot and the beard had started to itch. Tauriel shook her head and asked if Kíli could just bear with it a while longer.
In the meantime Thorin and Fíli had to result to rock-paper-scissors to decide in which order they’d start watching the movies. Fíli won, so they’d be watching in the chronological order. He’d just got The Phantom Menace in the Blu-ray player when Frodo suddenly tugged at his cape.
“What is it, Frodo?” he asked.
“I saw Tauriel kissing Santa!”
“Aw, that was very nice of her. Santa has come all the way from Lapland so I think Tauriel kissing them was the right thing to do.”
Frodo pouted. “But she’s with Kíli! She should only be kissing her!”
Fíli patted Frodo’s head. “You’re a good lad, Frodo, I hope you know that. Now, don’t worry too much about Kíli and Tauriel. They’re both adults, they know what to do.”
“If you say so, Thor,” Frodo muttered and climbed into Thorin’s lap. Two minutes later Tauriel and Kíli came from the kitchen, Tauriel carrying a cookie jar and a whole lot of candies. When Kíli sat on the couch next to Thorin, Frodo whispered to her, “I saw Tauriel kissing you.”
“Did you now?” asked Kíli, struggling to keep a poker face. “Well, Tauriel was just being nice to me, you don’t have to worry, buddy.”
Tauriel put the cookie jar and the candies she’d got on the coffee table and confirmed this. She’d just tried to be nice to Santa. Frodo thought about it while munching a cookie and accepted the explanation. Fíli pressed the play button and the opening credits of The Phantom Menace started to roll.
They hadn’t got very far when the front door opened and Bilbo and Dís came in – followed by most of the Durin family, including Thráin, Balin, Dori and Bifur, much to Thorin’s dismay (one of them could’ve called they’d make it to the house in time and be Santa for Frodo), Dís’ wife Víli who had only now got out of work, and Dáin and his family who weren’t supposed to be able to get there until Boxing Day.
“Oh look, it’s the whole asylum,” Fíli whispered to Kíli and Tauriel who giggled.
“Looks like the Easter Bunny’s funeral here,” commented Bilbo.
“Come quickly, we’re not very far off with Star Wars!” called Thorin.
The whole bunch peeled off their coats and boots and gathered around the TV as quickly as they could. Some of them grumbled about the fact that they would’ve wanted to see A New Hope rather than The Phantom Menace but those complaints died quickly when Dís went to get everyone (except the minors) wine.
“I understand why Thor’s here,” said Dáin, “but what’s Donald Duck doing in Easter Bunny’s funeral?”
Thorin shoved Dáin off the couch.
After the movie was done, Thorin, Fíli and Kíli were finally able to get off their costumes and help the rest of the family with the final Christmas preparations. Well, Fíli wasn’t actually very helpful as he kept texting with Sigrid, to the point where Kíli all of the sudden snatched his phone and started to text herself, and the whole thing escalated into Kíli running away from her angry older brother. Tauriel, who was putting up Christmas lights to the drawing room window with Fíli and Kíli’s cousins Gimli and Stonehelm, let out an exasperated sigh.
“Sometimes I can’t believe Fíli is actually older than me,” she sighed.
“I know right,” huffed Stonehelm. “Well, I’m not saying I’m very mature myself but honestly, you’d think those two would grow up.”
“Fat chance,” stated Gimli. “They won’t.”
Then his phone beeped and he said he had to check it. Stonehelm told Tauriel that Gimli had a mysterious boyfriend whom no one had met. Tauriel made a face; oh, she knew very well who Gimli’s boyfriend was, but as it was not her secret to tell, she didn’t say a word to Stonehelm. It was Gimli’s business whether or not he wanted to tell.
“Ewww look!” yelled Víli from the other window. “Naked Thrandy has a naked friend!”
Tauriel made sure Frodo wouldn’t see a thing while everyone else gathered at the window to see. No, Tauriel would not let Frodo see anything that wasn’t at least remotely age appropriate, and Thranduil naked wasn’t one of those things.
Dís gasped. “We know that guy!”
“It’s Naked Bard!” wailed Dáin, and everyone either groaned or made gagging noises. Of course they knew Bard and Thranduil were an item but honestly, couldn’t they keep their hands off each other or at least keep the lights off?
The younger Durins fled from the window very quickly. One short sight was just enough to traumatise all of them. Tauriel sighed. Distracting Frodo with candy canes had been an excellent idea. At the same time she was surprised. So Bard had made it there right on time for Christmas after all, but that raised one question. Where were his–
And that was when the doorbell rang.
“I’ll go get it!” Tauriel told everyone and ran to the hallway. She opened the door and certainly wasn’t expecting to see Legolas, Sigrid, Bain and Tilda standing there. They all had luggage with them, and Bowmans looked like they hadn’t been inside at all.
“Hi Tauriel,” said Legolas. “Can we come in?”
“Yeah, sure,” answered Tauriel and moved so the four of them could get in. “Dís!” she yelled then. “We got some refugees from the neighbour!”
Dís came to the hallway. “So it would seem.”
“Sorry about barging in like this,” Legolas apologised to her. “But we couldn’t really stay at home.”
Dís nodded. “I understand. We saw.”
Legolas and Sigrid both made a face.
“They started to go at it almost instantly when we got there,” Sigrid told them. “So Legolas grabbed his things and got us here.”
Dís helped Tilda out of her shoes and smiled at all of them.
“Well, on my behalf you’re all very welcome to stay here as long as you need to. You’ll probably have to share rooms though, but I don’t think it will be a huge issue.”
Legolas and Sigrid assured they wouldn’t be any trouble to anyone. Then in came Fíli, Kíli and Gimli, and they all stared at the newcomers with their mouths open. Fíli recovered from the shock first when Sigrid hugged him. Kíli and Tauriel steered Bain and Tilda to the drawing room, while Gimli just kept staring at Legolas, who stared back.
The rest of the evening went on without any great hiccups. Thorin and Thráin soon got over the fact that Legolas was Thranduil’s son when Legolas told them why he and the Bowmans had come. That earned them the sympathies of the whole family, even Glóin who was rather miffed to see Legolas holding hands with Gimli.
Tauriel sipped her mulled wine while she listened to Dáin and Frerin’s stories about the house’s history. Kíli had heard all the stories before so she concentrated on playing Angry Birds on her phone, but Tauriel was intrigued.
“So do you all originate here in Scotland?” she asked.
“Oh aye, though after Smaug got the hold of this place old Thrór was forced to flee to England,” answered Dáin. “My estate is some fifty miles from here and I decided to stay and keep an eye on things. I didn’t get to see a lot of this family during that time so that makes these gatherings even more important to all of us.”
“And after all we managed to get the documents back,” added Frerin with a grin. “You ought to know, Tauriel, you were here at the time.”
“Actually I got the documents back,” scoffed Bilbo who was carrying a sleepy Frodo in his arms. “The rest of you were hilariously useless.”
“Awww, don’t be so mean, Bilbo!” pouted Frerin, and Dáin, Kíli and Tauriel laughed.
Fíli was making rounds with Sigrid and introduced her to everyone. She had briefly met most of them but this was the first time she met Víli.
“I can see now where Fíli got his looks from,” Sigrid commented as she shook hands with Fíli’s other mother.
Víli laughed. “I assume he told you I’m currently transitioning?”
“Oh yeah, he said he’s otherwise okay with it but that he hates how he and Kíli are now stuck in endless loop of ‘go ask your mum’,” Sigrid grinned.
Fíli would’ve hid his face in his hands if Víli hadn’t got there first and pinched his nose.
“Well at least you’re not stuck in endless loop of dad jokes,” she commented.
Fíli shrugged. “Silver lining. And honestly, Mum, the loop of ‘go ask your mum’ isn’t that bad, as long as you feel fine.”
Víli kissed her son’s hair affectionately, and Sigrid couldn’t stop smiling.
At the same time Thorin was demanding Thráin, Balin, Dori and Bifur why none of them had thought of calling him that they would actually make it there in time so he wouldn’t have had to go through the whole Holiday Platypus ordeal.
“Well, turned out none of us had any reception,” Balin said matter-of-factly. Thorin still kept glaring at them until Thráin offered him a big Toblerone bar as a peace offering. He’d got it from the airport exactly for this purpose. He knew Thorin couldn’t be mad for long if he got a big Toblerone bar.
“Damn it, Dad, you know I’m fond of these,” Thorin grunted but couldn’t manage to sound as threatening as he might’ve liked.
“I put my hopes on that,” laughed Thráin and patted Thorin’s shoulder. “Come on, son, at least Frodo had fun. Wasn’t that the bottom line?”
“Aye,” admitted Thorin and looked softly at Bilbo who carried Frodo upstairs to bed. “That was the bottom line.”
Fíli and Sigrid had joined Kíli and Tauriel at the story time after they’d got Bain and Tilda into bed, and Dáin started to tell them about the time his father’s pigs had got loose and how he, Thorin and Frerin chased them around the estate. Sigrid had curled up in Fíli’s lap, and Kíli and Tauriel were leaning their heads against each others’.
“Merry Christmas, Kíli,” Tauriel whispered.
“Merry Christmas, Tauriel,” answered Kíli and leaned in to kiss her girlfriend as the clock chimed midnight.
Legolas and Gimli had fallen asleep under mistletoe Víli had hung by the window. Glóin shook his head at them but covered them with a blanket nonetheless. Dwalin and Ori had disappeared somewhere, much to Dori’s annoyance.
“He could’ve at least said something so I wouldn’t have got him eggnog,” Dori grumbled to Nori who didn’t pay attention because he was too busy snogging Bofur under another mistletoe. Dori rolled his eyes and offered Balin the extra eggnog who took it gladly.
Bilbo got back downstairs and rubbed his eyes. Thorin split him a piece from his Toblerone bar and asked if Frodo was alright.
“Yeah,” answered Bilbo. “A bit overwhelmed of everything that happened today but very happy.”
“I’m happy to hear that,” said Thorin and pressed a kiss in Bilbo’s curls. “I know everything didn’t go as planned but we had fun.”
Bilbo giggled. “Holiday Platypus? Really?”
Thorin groaned. “You’re not going to let me forget that in a long time, are you?”
“Nope,” Bilbo grinned and leaned in to kiss Thorin. “Frodo liked it though,” he added when they broke apart. “Said that Mister Platypus was the best thing ever and he’d like to have him over next Christmas as well.”
Thorin nearly screamed.