Ever since he, Loni and Andvari had rescued Lyndheid from the brigands his thoughts had been preoccupied with their wedding. He had made the engagement beads and his proposal out on that trial after her rescue, but it had seemed inappropriate to braid her hair with the presence of the brothers nearby and while she had been so exhausted. She’d needed time to recover from her ordeal. But time just slipped away from them, it seemed. After their return to the mountain and once she had recovered, they’d had no time for engaging in romance due to the preparations for Linny’s arrival. Time flew by without the opportunity to present them to her properly, and before he knew it, Linny was born, and then, then came the sleepless nights, the tirdness, the adjustments that needed to be made now that Linny was in their life, not to mention the many other tasks that he needed to attend to that came with being a Prince of Durin’s Line - even his building of Heidi’s new enclosure had started and stopped, started and stopped numerous times and was no where near done. Winter turned to spring and even spring was now on the cusp of turning to summer.
Where in Arda had the time gone?
He would not be surprised at all if his lady was feeling rather neglected due to his inattentiveness. Yes, he had been there when she’d needed him to care for her while she was recovering from her exhaustion after her encounter with the brigands. Yes, he had been there at Linny’s birth and he had supported her through those days afterwards, and he had even given her that special Yule gift he had battled snow, wind and ice to obtain. But the one thing that he could do to declare his love for her to world he had not done, and it was time for him to change that and right that mistake.
These were the thoughts that passed through the young Prince’s mind, as he sat in his study, trying to come up with a new composition one late spring morning. Several screwed up pieces of parchment lay crumpled on the floor around his feet as all the ideas that he had come up with that morning failed to take root. For the umpteenth time that morning, he put his quill down, picked up the piece of parchment that he was writing on, screwed it up and threw it on the floor in frustration, muttering in Khuzdul, “Morgoth, be damned to the Void!”
Looking around at the mess at his feet, he knew that Balin wouldn’t be very pleased with him because of all the parchment he had wasted. Even a Prince must be careful of waste. He kicked a ball of parchment away from him and, with a sense of resignation, he sighed and got up out of his chair, the wood scraping on the stone floor and walked over to the window. The weather had turned cold and wet recently and he noticed a stiffness and some pain in the knee which had never quite healed. He would have to ask Lyndheid later to put some of the salve Oin had given him on it. Earlier, he had turfed Kari outside because the raven’s cawing had been giving him a headache, and he now watched the raven pottering about, hunting what he presumed was an unseen snail in the rocks. He was in fact, hunting insects that fed on rotting wood, and was poking about with a stick at a rotting log. As he watched the bird’s antics, it came to him why he was having so much difficulty with his creativity.
The woods were calling to him and his study, normally a sanctuary for him, made him feel like he was closed in today. He turned from the window and headed for the closed door of his study, which he kept shut while he was working to avoid undesired interruptions. The closed door may have kept out unwanted visitors, but it didn’t dissuade boisterous behaviour from taking place near it. When he opened the door, he came face to face with Beyla’s lads, Dreng and Bivor playing a raucous game of football with a roughly stitched leather ball. Dreng, the eldest of the two lads, belted the so hard it flew through the air and hit Kili in the chest, knocking the wind out of him. He caught the ball neatly and let out a chuckle.
Bivor looked at the Prince, with a worried expression on his face, and Dreng stammered an apology, “I - I’m sorry.” They clearly thought they were in trouble, and perhaps would have been if it had been Lofar or one of the guards he’d accidently hit. Kili found the incident amusing and took it in good humour because it reminded of the times when he and Fili had done the same thing.
He passed it to the nearest lad, who happened to be Bivor as he spoke. “No need to apologise, lad, and I’ll consider the incident forgotten if you could both do a couple of favours for me.” Dreng nodded, uncertainly. Bivor accept the ball from him shyly and it was clear that they thought they were in trouble.
Kili smiled, in an attempt to put them at ease, and spoke first to Dreng. “Dreng, you know the home of the Lady Lofnheid, don’t you?”
Dreng nodded, “Yes, I do. Amad sometimes does work for her.”
“Good. I require her presence. Go fetch her for me, lad,” Kili said. Dreng hurried off at a fast pace to do as he was bid. The Prince turned to the younger boy. “Your Amad is here, is she not? I’d like her to prepare a food basket for me, with enough food for two - cooked meats, bread, jam, honey, a small cask of mead, and ask her to brew some tea. When she’s done that, she’s to bring it to my study.” The lad scammpered off to the kitchen, where he thought he would most likely find his mother, and he turned to go back into his study. As he did so, he couldn’t help but feel that they needed to be set tasks to keep them occupied.
They had been getting into quite a bit of trouble of late, as young dwarflings are want to do, and Lofar the housecarl had was beginning to get more impatient with them than usual. While he waited for Lofnheid to arrive, he wrote a short letter to Balin requesting a tutor for the boys - to teach them the things that he and Fili learned as dwarflings in Ered Luin, minus the lessons that had been required of their station.
He had just set his quill down, and put the letter aside to dry, when Lofar, who was on his rounds to make sure that all the torches were lit, and the fire-places were kept supplied with coal, barged in. He was lugging around a sack of coal and a coal bucket, and appeared to be in a bad mood.
“Lofar, just the fellow I wanted to see,” Kili said. “Ye can leave that for now. I’ve a couple of things I need doing.”
Lofar put down the sack of coal and the bucket, and turned to look at him. “Aye, and what is that, young Prince?”
He always put emphasis on the fact that Kili was the youngest of Dis’ sons.
“I’d like you to take this letter to Balin - I’m getting a tutor for Beyla’s lads. I know they have been a bother for you these past weeks.”
“A bother? A plague, more like. They’ve been kicking that blasted ball around the corridors, leaving a trail of over-turned statues and knocked over armour all over the place.” He muttered what he thought should be done to the boys in Khuzdul.
Kili nodded, now understanding the cause of the housecarl’s words. “I’ll have a word with their mother, Lofar. She’ll deal with it.”
Lofar muttered something derogatory about that, too in Khuzdul, which caused Kili to frown. “I’ll be away for a few days, Lofar. I want you to get out the tent and camping gear and leave it in the garden for me. Once I’m gone, I want you to tidy up my study, and sort out the mess those lads made, but don’t terrorize those lads while I’m gone.”
The housecarl responded in a manner that suggested he was put out by Kili’s instructions, and as Lofar left to run the errand, Kili laughed mentally. He didn’t like acting like a Prince, giving orders was something that wasn’t easy for him, unless it was on the battle field. When he spoke to Beyla, her boys and Loni, he usually phrased everything as a polite request, but he didn’t do that with the difficult housecarl. Lofar, he enjoyed giving orders to because there always seemed to be a power struggle between them. He considered Beyla and her lads as extended family, like those who had gone on the quest but weren’t close blood relations, or blood relations at all. He would never consider sending Lofar away from his household because despite his mannerisms, the housecarl was a very honest and loyal fellow. Kili relied on him to point out problems in the household that needed addressing.
An headache was forming and he rubbed his forehead to try and de-stress himself. It was proving to be a stressful morning, and he could not wait to be away from it. His knee also seemed to ache more when he was stressed. He sat there, knowing that he should be getting ready to pack what they needed for the trip, but he wanted to let his headache subside before he did anything. He was still sat there when Beyla arrived.
She noticed his look of discomfort, and the disarray that the room was in and placed the basket of provisions on his desk. “Are you alright, my lord? Would you like me to send for your lady, or Mister Oin?”
“I’ll be fine, in a few moments, it’s just a small headache, is all. If you mean the state my study is in, it’s nothing that a distraction won’t cure.”
“If you are sure - I’ll just go fetch the pot of tea you asked for.” She left, and she was slightly longer than she needed, and he suspected that she was telling Lyndheid of his headache. When she came back carrying a tray with a tea set on it, she placed it on a small table and poured him some tea.
“That should make you feel better, my lord.”
He nodded his thanks as he took the cup from her and took a sip. It did seem to ease the tension slightly. It was time he got down to business. “I am arranging a little surprise for Lyndheid. This -” he indicated the mess his study had become that morning “- can wait for another day.”
Beyla nods in understanding. She had noticed that he had been less focused on his work recently. “Would you like me to this mess up?”
He shook his head. “No. Don’t trouble yourself with it, Beyla. I’ve left instructions with Lofar to deal with it while Lyndheid and I are away. You already have enough to do.”
Feeling better now, he finished his tea, and put the cup to one side. He lifted the cloth and peered inside the basket. He smiled at the contents - assorted cooked meats, as he had asked, blackberry jam, honey, a small cask of mead - he noticed that there were some extra items that he hadn’t asked for, but which pleased him non-the less. “Splendid. I am planning to be gone for a few days. When I get back, we need to have a talk about those boys of yours.”
“I am sorry if they have been troubling you, lately, my lord.”
“I am not angry with them, Beyla -” he tried to reassure her. “I am not too old to remember what it was like - they just need some guidance, but we can discuss when I return. I have asked Balin to appoint a tutor for them. I’m hoping that there will be news when I am back.”
Beyla nodded at his words. “It’s the loss of their father that’s the trouble. I must get back to work - that pile of laundry won’t do itself.” The dwarrowdam left to continue her work.
Whenever he wanted to de-stress himself, look out at the majestic landscape which could be seen from his window helped. Kari had finished rooting for grubs in the log and was now investigating a mole-hill. He was sure that the mole was safe deep underground where the raven couldn’t get at it.
The loss of their father - Beyla’s words struck a chord with him after she left and he could relate to that. Luckily, he and Fili had Uncle Thorin. And what was he to those lads? An elder brother? He was contemplating that when Lofnheid arrived, with her young son in tow.
Nali squealed. “Uncle Kili!” Kili turned around as the little dwarfling toddled over to the dwarf Prince. Kili kneeled, and grinning at the lad, picked him up. He was walking and talking now, though his words and sentences were simple, and he wasn’t entirely steady on his feet.
“Ye getting big now, Nali. Soon you’ll be able to pick up your Adad’s smithing hammer!”
“Don’t encourage him, Kili. He’s into everything as it is right now, and it’s hard keeping curious hands out of things that could be dangerous to him. What is it do you want? Is everything alright with Linny and my sister?”
“Please, sit,” He indicated the sofa that his dog had once destroyed the upholstery of as a pup, and which now sported the repairs that his lady’s sister had carried out for him. You could not tell that the pup had done any damage at all.
She sat, and poured herself some tea. It was almost cold, but she drank it anyway, as it had obviously been laid out for her visit. Kili, with Nali still in his arms, sat next to her.
“They are fine, Lofnheid, but I do have a favor to ask of you and they are the reason why I called you here. Lynd and I - we’ve hardly had time to ourselves these past months, and I’ve never really got around to properly giving her the engagement beads. I was hoping that you’d be able to look after Linny for a couple of days, three at the most, while I took her away. I know a spot in the woods that she would like.”
He smiled at his nephew, who had started to play with his hair while he spoke. “We could return the favor, so you and Andvari can spend some quiet time together.”
Lofnheid, relieved that there was nothing wrong with her sister or her niece, relaxed a little and her expression brightened at the prospect of spending some time with the baby. The dwarrowdam nodded in agreement. “Linny is always welcome in my home - you know that! And I don’t mind - neither will Andvari. Andvari is due for having a break from his work for a few days, so he’ll be around to help me watch them.”
This was all going well, he thought. “I just need to make a few preparations before we leave - I’ll go and fetch Lynd. She doesn’t know about this. This is a big favor for us, Lofnheid, and you have my thanks.” He passed Nali to his mother and, feeling lighter in spirit than he had all day, he went in search of her.
Lyndheid was working in her library that day. She had managed to get Linny off to sleep so that could do her work. She was currently working on creating a neat drawing of a dead bee that she had found in the grass while checking the hives that morning. She had heard of a sickness that was affecting the hives that were kept by dwarves over in the Iron Hills, and she checked often to make sure that the hives in her garden were thriving and were healthy. So far, they were, and the dead bee was likely to be a one off, or at least, she hoped so.
She would not have been able to do this without Kili's Yule gift of the microscope because she would not have been able to see the fine details of the bee's wings, or the structure of the legs without it. What did surprise her was the fine hairs that covered the bee's body. She would not have considered them to be furry. Balls of pollen was still attached to the bee's hind limbs, indicating that it was a worker bee.
The dwarrowdam had made a non-invasive study of the bees since she'd had them and discovered there were different kinds of bees in the hive, but how that had occurred she was still trying to find out.
She had just finished the lines of the drawing and considering if she should apply colour to the drawing when the door opened and Kili walked in. Laddie, the dwarrowdam's ever-present canine companion who had until Kili walked in, been curled by the fire-place raised his head and thumped his tail in greeting before getting comfortable again.
She put down her pencil and gave her Givashel a warm smile in greeting. "I thought you were working on a composition this morning."
"Change of plans," he replied, glancing first at the sleeping Linny before crossing the room to stand behind her, and placed his hands on her shoulders. He did not go into all the difficulties he'd had that morning. "How would you like to get out of this place for a while, and spend a few days in the woods? No one but us two?"
"I would not say no to that, but ye must be making a joke, Kili, since you know I have Linny to look after and cannot leave her."
"I've already considered that," he began to massage her shoulders. "And it's no joke - I've arranged for someone to look after her so we are free to go."
The dwarrowdam's eyes lit up, and she couldn't contain the grin that began to spread across her face. "Really? Then we must get ready to go."
Kili smiled at her reaction and continued to massage her shoulders. "I thought that it would take more persuading than this," he said, breaking off massaging one of her shoulders to indicate her work with his right hand. "I can see that you are busy."
Before answering, she thought of her recent sojourn in the woods, and about how much she'd wished for Kili to spend that day with her. "It is nothing important, Kili. Besides, the last time we went on an adventure together, I wasn't in a position to actually enjoy it, was I?"
She was referring to the incident where she had attempted to leave Erebor last summer, while being encumbered with her pregnancy.
"Neither of us were," he agreed, sweeping her hair back over her shoulders. They'd had company in the form of Loni and Andvari. "But this adventure will be different - just us, no dogs - maybe a couple of riding goats because we need to carry our equipment, but we will be traveling light."
She had mixed feelings about having this sprung on her - she was both pleased to be spending some time alone with him, but she felt out of sorts at not being consulted before hand, and it irked her a little, but she tried to hide her frustration.
"And just who will be caring for Linny while we are gone?"
"Your sister, of course," her One replied. "But the bargain is we'll have to return the favour and look after Nali for awhile."
Caring for her nephew wouldn't be too much of a hardship, and she looked forward to spending time with the lad. She leaned back into Kili's arms, enjoying his presence close to her.
"It is settled, then. Lofnheid and Andvari will have her for a few days," Lyndheid said. Kili hugged her and kissed the crown of her head before moving over to his sleeping daughter. It was a shame to wake the lass, but he didn't see any alternative if they were to get away and have good chance of finding a quiet spot to settle before nightfall. He gently picked Linny up out of her cot to take her to Lofnheid. Balancing the babe in one arm, he touched one of the boxes he had carved for her as one of the many courting gifts he'd given her. He knew what it contained. With a broad smile, he turned to her.
"Don't forget to bring this."
She nodded. "I will not forget." It was then that she realised this wasn't just some ordinary outing and her frustration with him melted away. Her One had something special in mind for this. If they were taking goats, then it was likely that they were heading up the mountain. Looking at the drawing, with the thought in mind of what was to come, deciding whether to colour it or not no longer seemed all that important. She popped the dead bee in a jar of alcohol for her return.
Kili, with Linny in his arms, exited the library. Wanting to see her sister before they left, she picked up the box and followed.