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Once upon a time there lived a young dwarf named Kili. Though he was of the house of Erebor – handsome, noble – he lived in exile learning the skills of a blacksmith. A bit of an odd dwarf, the whispers ran. To use a bow and arrow for his weapons, shrink away from his uncle’s expectations, to go sailing… Oh, the sailing! During those too short trips he felt the most free, himself.

But dwarves were creatures that belonged on land, preferably underground, his uncle reminded him time after time.

Was it truly any surprise that following his disastrous birthday – the storm, his ship wrecking, he almost being drowned – that the dwarven lord finally put his foot down? No more sailing for the young prince. And Thorin wanted Kili to also drop his inane comments about a rescuer, needing to find and thank her for saving his life. He had hit his head, swallowed a lot of water.

The prince had a very active imagination, true. But he hadn’t imagined it. Never in his wildest dreams could he have envisioned smooth beardless cheeks, such curly hair, and eyes green like the ocean. Kili had not seen anything so beautiful before. And he was lost.

He did not know who his rescuer was, but he knew what she was not. (Kili told no one, not even his own brother, about those final moments before he’d blacked out again: how the singing stopped, the small hand withdrew from his face, the splash.) So the prince kept his peace and secretly plotted, longing flowing through him.

Then Thorin heard from the wizard Gandalf the Grey, put away his tools. Kili reluctantly found his gaze turning away from the sea and towards the Lonely Mountain; when a new member joined their company and the little mute creature gazed up at him with wide green eyes the prince felt his world turn upside down…