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A Party is Serious Business

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Perhaps she should have given more thought to what dwarven celebrations were like, Sigrid decided. When Tilda had said, ‘We must have a party to celebrate,’ that afternoon, after releasing Sigrid from a long hug, everyone had said, ‘Of course.’ As a result, Sigrid had had no time alone with her new fiancé, let alone time to look at the beautiful jewellery she had been given and think on the significance of the carvings and the stones that Fíli had explained to her. That would have to come later.

She had had very little time to acclimatise to her new state or her future at all. The whirl of the party had taken over.

Sigrid had flown to the kitchen, distributing orders about food and drink. Bofur had appeared and told her to double the amount she thought she needed.

“Partying is a serious business for us dwarves, lass—er, my lady,” he had said.

“As it is for us,” she had answered with a smile, but had taken heed of the advice. She would not have Dale seem to stint in any way in their celebrations.

Then Tilda had called her away to come and decorate the hall, and the next thing Sigrid knew, she was in her chamber putting on her finest gown and fretting over how to do her hair. It was an important gesture. Sigrid wasn’t merely herself in all this, but the daughter of the recently crowned King of Dale, affianced to Fili, dwarven prince and heir to Erebor. She had grasped how important braids were to the dwarves, now she must show it.

She looked down at her ring and found her inspiration.

For her work, with a little assistance from Tilda, she had received nods of approval from the royal party, and Kíli had given her an extravagant compliment that would not stay with her like the way she had felt when Fíli had squeezed her hand. It had made her think perhaps she could do this, be his princess, his wife, for all that she was no dwarf.

Everyone had shown such goodwill as the party began that Sigrid’s nerves had quietened and she was glad after all that she had not had weeks to prepare for and fret over the party, or not properly. The proposal had not been such a very big surprise. There had been discussions between Thorin and her father about the nature of the alliance between men and dwarves and settlements. There had been no need for Bard to demand what Fíli’s intentions towards his daughter were, for the prince had courted her deliberately for two seasons. After some misunderstandings and difficulties, she was far from unhappy with the way things had turned out. An union that would be useful politically had, like her esteem for Fíli, grown into more.

She had already learned that dwarves seemed to come up with the strangest toasts. But this evening a few had made her cheeks crimson, and, more impressively, a few had made Fili blush too. Her father had scowled, but his own toast had brought Sigrid close to tears. To know that he was proud of her and thought her mother would have been too meant much.

“What toast could follow that?” Thorin had demanded. “Let us have music, then.”

The musicians in their midst had brought out a hodgepodge of instruments and proceeded to play in a strange harmony that Sigrid had thought boded well.

She had not imagined, no, not even a few hours ago, when the first libations had been refilled, that celebrations could be this destructive, though.

Sigrid peered up to check that the roof was intact. It appeared to be, and so she let her gaze roam. Her sister and brother were sleeping in a corner, somehow, with Tilda leaning against Bane. Most of the men and women of Dale looked worn out, whatever their age. Da was still sitting upright, talking to Thorin and Balin at a table, but Sigrid wondered what exactly he was saying, and whether there would be a glaze in his eyes if she drew near. But to do so would involve navigating considerable obstacles.

Some of the tables had been moved to create space for dancing, in which she had participated. But those tables were now heaped together in what looked like the shape of the Lonely Mountain, and dwarves whose names she should recall had clambered upon the structure to drink and sing some more. On the dance floor, there were two dwarves sitting on the shoulders of two other dwarves, one of whom was Bombur, and they seemed to be either dancing or mock-fighting. Sigrid wasn’t quite sure which, and the lyrics of the song currently being blared out were confusing. Sigrid doubted she’d ever learn all the words of the dwarven drinking songs.

The scale of the damage they were singing over was overwhelming – upended tables, benches and chairs were the least of it. Half of the decorations seemed to have been pulled down from the wall to be worn as accessories by their guests from Erebor. Sigrid took in a small breath and wondered what she had let herself in for.

She felt a hand cup her elbow, the touch already familiar. If it were not, tipsy though she might be, she would have reached for her knife, nestled in the pocket of her fine gown, a gift from Tauriel. As it was, Sigrid looked at her fiancé, about to welcome him with a smile. Instead, she blinked.

“You were not wearing that jerkin earlier,” she observed.

He smiled in a way that made her think of her brother after he had been up to some mischief. It was a new aspect to Fíli. “Kíli and I exchanged clothes during a game of spin the pick-axe.”

She decided to bite down any further questions along that path.

Sigrid cast an eye about for Kíli, but could not see him. She could not see Tauriel either. Perhaps they were star-gazing. Perhaps not. At another party, where they were not the centre of attention, she and Fíli might wish to step away.

“What happened here?” she asked, looking around. “I was not talking to the Lady Dís that long.”

After a few dances with Fíli, accompanied by plenty of wolf-whistles rising over the instruments, her future mother-in-law had whisked her away for a friendly interrogation. Sigrid had stopped drinking wine then and listened very intently, trying to answer in a way that would honour both her father and her future husband, for she would not have Dís regret her son’s choice. Thus, she had missed out on whatever dwarven whirlwind had hit Dale’s newly reconstructed hall and was more sober than most.

“This is mild,” Fíli said gravely, although she could see the twinkle in his eyes. “Truly, it is as nothing compared with what the wedding celebrations will be like.”

“Oh,” Sigrid replied, a shot of warmth coursing through her veins as he spoke of their nuptials as something that would be. She took a deep breath and stood a little taller, looking out again at the scene before her.

Sigrid had seen true destruction; this was not it. A few broken bits of furniture could be repaired easily enough. “Well, I suppose I will have a lifetime to get used to dwarven shenanigans.”

She felt Fíli take her hand, and turned back to look at him. He bent down and kissed her in a gesture at once courtly and ticklish. The way he looked at her as he rose back up made her stomach swoop, like a thrush flying down the side of the Lonely Mountain.

“Aye,” he said, voice low, yet easy for her to hear despite the raucousness around them. “A lifetime.”