You were reading by the bright but fading light of the window in your chambers when the large door swung open. You glanced up to see the princes falling into the room.
“What are you-” you began.
“Damn it, Fili! We need to knock first!” Kili whisper shouted. “Come, come, come, we’ll do it again. Go! Go out.” He dragged his brother out into the corridor and closed the door again.
You rolled your eyes and chuckled, waiting for the sound. When they knocked, you called, “Who is it?”
“Damn it, (Y/N), you know it’s us,” you heard Fili growl.
“It’s Kili! And Fili. May we come in?” Kili said through the door over his brother.
“Come in,” you called, stifling your laugh.
Again, they stumbled into the room. Their shenanigans were nothing new to you, and often you took part in them. The three of you had been friends since you were dwarflings and you could usually read their minds when they were up to something. But today, you weren’t sure of their plans.
“What’s got you two so riled up?” you asked, taking in their heaving chests and flushed faces. You guessed they had run to your chambers from the other side of the mountain.
“We came to get you. We’re going to the pub,” Fili said, leaning on the wall in front of you.
You placed your marker in your book and set it on the windowsill before standing up with a stuck out hip. “I think I’ll pass. Going to the pub with you two is never a good idea. I learned that lesson well last time.”
“We’ll behave,” Fili said.
Kili took your hand and pulled. “Please, (Y/N). This may be the last time it’s just the three of us.”
That had dawned on you before he actually said it. It had taken weeks, but Thorin had finally put the last arrangements of Kili’s marriage to plan. Tomorrow morning, a kind and beautiful princess from another kingdom would arrive in Erebor to marry Kili in a few days. You were excited and happy for him, but you knew things would have to change a bit.
You winced, thinking it over. You would have been kicked out of the pub last week if you weren’t with the royals of Erebor. Kili whined at your face.
“Please!” He hugged you tight, squeezing the air out of you and bending to push his face into the crook of your neck. “I’ll carry you on my back if it means you’ll come.” His words were muffled and contorted as he spoke into your skin.
You glared at Fili as he chuckled. Kili started pulling you toward the door.
“Fine, but I need to change,” you said.
“Nonsense, you look perfect,” Fili said. You stuck your tongue out at him.
“But I need to at least do something with my hair-”
Kili lifted from your neck. “Leave it down, I like it down.”
You rolled your eyes and then looked closer at Kili’s face. His skin was flushed and his eyes slower than usual. He giggled and lowered his forehead to your neck again. You looked to Fili with wide eyes. “He’s already drunk.”
“Yes,” Fili said.
“And we’re going to bring him to the pub for more ale?”
You sucked in a lip. “Okay.”
Kili cheered and vaulted you up over his shoulder. He ran to the door before you could yell at him.
“Put. Me. Down. Now.”
He set you down immediately. “Sorry.”
You noticed mixed reactions when the three of you entered the pub. The bartender and illegally painted ladies welcomed the boys with open arms, knowing they would earn their gold tonight. The waitresses and some of the patrons, however, rolled their eyes or shook their heads, probably thinking about the trouble they had caused the week before.
You shied into Kili when Buck turned from the bar and grinned brightly at you. You should have known he’d be there. You knew he liked you but you weren’t sure how you felt about him. He was more forward than you would have liked him to be. So for now, you’d stay in the boys’ care.
The first round was easily chugged but you took your time with the second. The princes, however, were on their third very quickly. It didn’t take long for Fili’s attention to be pulled away from you and Kili. Maggie Vopper had hiked up her skirts and sat herself on his lap, twirling his mustache around her finger and giggling incessantly.
You rolled your eyes at one of her louder cackles and tried to pay attention to Kili. Most of the times you had asked him about his intended, he steered the conversation away from the marriage. Now, with Mahal knows how many beers in him, he chatted without reserve. You learned he was quite nervous about meeting her and especially about the wedding.
“You don’t need to fret, Kili. She’ll love you. I’m sure you’ll be very happy together. She seems so nice from her letters and Dain said she’s beautiful.”
“She is- she seems to be. But… I don’t know.”
“Nnnnothin’,” he slurred.
You covered his hand with yours and smiled. “What? You can tell me.”
“What if I don’t love her? What if I love someone else? Then I’ll spend my whole life with the wrong person. I mean, I’ve always dreamed of living with… What-what if that happens?”
He was rambling now. “I don’t think you’ll regret this, Kili. I think you’re going to be really happy. I’m gonna go get something to eat for us, okay?”
He stumbled trying to stand. “I’ll go get it.”
“No, I’ll go. I wanted to say hello to Buck anyway.”
Kili wrinkled his nose. “He’s been staring at you.”
“No he hasn’t.”
You glanced to the bar. He was staring at you. Even from your brief look you could see his eyes were dark and his grin was wide. You almost shivered at the thought. But if you didn’t get Kili something to eat, you could imagine how sick he would be when he met his bride to be in the morning. Thorin would execute you. And Fili was no help in this matter, his tongue had been down Maggie Vopper’s throat for the last ten minutes. You took a deep breath and stood.
Kili grabbed at your hand. “Don’t go.”
“I’ll be right back.”
“I don’t like that guy. I don’t like the way he’s lookin’ at you.” He stood, cursing when he bumped his knee on the table. He was glaring at Buck with his hands heavy on your waist. “I don’t want you to go over there.”
“I’m just gonna get us some food-”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Well, I am. I’ll be right back. I can handle Buck.”
You pushed his hair from his eyes. “Sit. I’ll be right over there, I’ll get your favorite. Stay here and make sure your brother doesn’t suffocate.”
You peeled his hands from you and walked to the bar, standing as far away from Buck as possible. But of course, as soon as you ordered Kili’s meat pies, his gruff voice was low in your ear.
“Took you long enough to come over and say hi.”
You turned, getting your ear away from his mouth. “Sorry, I was just-”
“With that prince again.”
You hummed and quickly changed the subject. “I heard your business is going well. The drop in price of… ore must be be-beneficial.” You were distracted by his gaze falling from your eyes to your lips to your chest and wished you had the chance to change your dress before you left the mountain. You spun away from him, watching the bartender go into the kitchen.
“Yes, it’s going very well-”
“I could make you something.” He pushed your loose hair from your shoulder and again you were cursing Fili and Kili for whisking you away before you could braid it back. “Forge a necklace for ya. Or a holster for that pretty dagger of yours.” His fingers trailed up your skirt to your thigh and you jerked away, grabbing the food from the bartender and making your escape.
“Don’t think so. Thanks, though,” you called over your shoulder. You let out a held breath as you plopped the pies on the table and sat. “After you eat these we can go-” You looked up to Kili and swallowed your words.
He pulled his lips from the scantily dressed dam on his lap and looked at you. “No, thanks. I already have plans for the rest of the evening.” He stuck one of the pies in the dam’s mouth and bit off the other end. “This one won’t leave me when I ask her not to.” He took the other pie and stood, slapping the dam’s bottom as she led him upstairs.
You sighed, leaning back in your chair. When you looked up, Fili was staring at you. “What?”
“You think we should let him do that?” he asked.
You shrugged. “He’ll treat her well, at least. Might be his last ever.”
He hummed and returned to Maggie Vopper’s neck.
You waved at the bartender for more pies and they were soon brought over to you. You gave one to Fili and the dam on his lap and picked at the crust of yours, your appetite gone. You knew Kili was only drunk and all would be forgiven and most likely forgotten in the morning. But you had never seen him speak so to anyone, especially you. You pushed the plate away and leaned on your fist, trying to decide if you should leave the pub now, or wait for Kili to come down.
As you stared at the staircase, another one of the working dams ran down them, flying straight through the bar to Fili. She whispered something in his ear. “Help? What do you mean help?” he asked.
You straightened. “What?”
“She says the dam with Kili needs help with him. We may have let him drink too much.”
“We?” you said.
He rolled his eyes. “(Y/N), please. I’m a little indisposed here,” he said, motioning to the dam on his lap.
You groaned and stood. “Unbelievable. The things I do for you. I swear to Mahal, if I get up there and he’s naked, I’m coming right back down here and sending you up.”
Fili waved at you from inside Maggie’s mouth.
You huffed and stomped upstairs. As you rounded the corner into the corridor, someone ran right into you, knocking the air from your lungs. When you straightened, you saw it was the dam Kili had brought upstairs.
“You’re the royal rescuer?” she asked.
“I thought I’d be rescuing you from him. Where is he?”
She turned and waved down the corridor. “Third room down. He’s a mess.”
“I’m sorry about that, his brother gave him too much to drink.”
“Not that,” she said, hoisting up her corset. “He’s cryin’!”
“Cryin’! Moanin’! A blubbering mess about some dam he loves more than anythin’. (Y/N) or somethin’. I tried everything but he can’t stop cryin’ about her lovely hair, her tiny hands, her sweet smile. I do a lot of things, but I don’t do that.”
She huffed and slid down the stairs. Now that it was quiet, you could hear him. You leaned your ear against the door and heard sniffles and soft, broken sobs. If you didn’t know his voice so well, you would have refused to believe it was him.
The door creaked as you opened it, but he didn’t take notice of it. You thanked Mahal that his trousers were on, but didn’t rejoice for anything else. Seeing him lying on the bed with his face buried in a pillow was heartbreaking.
You whispered his name, sat on the bed and pushed his hair from his face. It was tear soaked and his eyes were red and puffy. You winced. “Kili, what is it?”
His breath hitched. “I couldn’t do it.”
“Oh,” you said. Fili should be here for this kind of conversation. “Well, doesn’t that happen sometimes? It’s okay, she didn’t care.”
He slapped the pillow hard and sat up. “Not that, (Y/N)! Mahal!”
You pushed his hair behind his ears and wiped the streaks of tears from his cheeks. “Then what is it?”
He pushed your hands away and looked at you. You could see his eyes were still sluggish with drink. “Why did you go with Buck?”
“I didn’t go with Buck. I hate Buck. I went to get you some food so you wouldn’t be sick when you meet your bride to be in the morning.”
“Oh, Mahal,” he groaned, slamming his head back against the wall.
“Is that what this is about? The arrangement?”
“No! Yes. It is but it’s also about- it’s about everything! Why is it all happening now? Tonight?” He slurred his way through, dumping every thought onto you.
You took his hands. “Kili, look at me. What’s all happening now?”
He forced his eyes to yours and sucked in a breath, shaking his head. His hair fell around his eyes and the words tumbled from his mouth. “I thought I could do it- I thought I could do all of this, but I can’t. When I saw you with Buck I thought I just needed- to be with someone else but I couldn’t do it. And now she’s coming tomorrow and I’m supposed to be with her but I can’t do it. You-you… I can’t do it.”
You brushed his hair from his eyes again, twisting it back and away. He leaned into your touch like you were the only thing keeping him upright. “I don’t understand. I thought you were excited about the marriage.”
“I tried to be excited. I tried because I’m the prince and I have to do certain things and this is one of those things but I can’t because it’s not with you. I can’t live my life without you.” His voice broke in his thick throat.
“I’m not going anywhere.” More tears streamed down his face and you felt your chest tighten.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too, you know that. You and Fili are my closest friends-”
“No, (Y/N).” He took your hands from his hair and held them. “I love you. I can’t marry anyone else because I love you.”
You started to shake. You weren’t sure if it was the alcohol, or the late hour, or your shock but your fingers trembled in his. “But it’s all- it’s arranged. She’s coming tomorrow. I thought you liked her. You never told me this.”
He pulled your hands into his lap. “How could I? For the longest time the biggest barrier was that I’d lose you, I’d lose my best friend. Then, Uncle made the arrangements so quickly and didn’t tell me about it and then it was too late.”
You stood, dragging your hands away. It is too late, you thought. “Fili… will know what to do. I shouldn’t have come up here, he’ll help you.” You backed away and headed for the door.
“Please don’t leave.”
You froze. His words were a harsh blow to your stomach. How could you leave when he asked you not to? But how could you stay?
“Please don’t leave. Please, just-just lay here with me. Tomorrow I’ll do what I have to but tonight… I need my best friend, (Y/N).”
His broken voice made you want to crumble to the floor. It was the worst sound you’d ever heard. You pushed your own tears down and walked back to him, lying next to him on the bed. You hovered above him for a moment and he ran his fingers through your hair.
“You left it down. I like it down.”
You sank to lie next to him, resting your head on his shoulder. It took a while for his breathing to normalize and you felt his chest shake a few times in the aftermath of his sobs. But soon it slowed and when you knew he was asleep, you snuck a glance to his face. You should have known it wouldn’t be enough.
You propped yourself up on your elbow and took in his peaceful features. His skin was still red and puffy and again, you pushed his hair from his eyes. Your fingers gently traced his cheek, jaw, and neck until they landed on his chest. You pushed the black curls absently, thinking about all he had said. Looking back, it made sense. You didn’t think the pressure or the beer made him lie, but you did think it gave him the courage to finally tell you.
You returned to his side, thinking about what was to be done now.
It was probably the commotion downstairs in the pub that woke you up the next morning. You sighed and rolled, blindly and subconsciously reaching for Kili. When all you could find was empty sheets, you buried your face in the pillow and growled. “I’m gonna kill him.”
“I’m right here.”
His voice startled you. You spun and lifted your head to look at him. He was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, fully dressed and fully awake. You suddenly felt very self-conscious, like you were missing a layer. You were.
At the foot of the bed was your outer corset. When you laid eyes on it, Kili said, “It was digging into you as you slept so I loosened it. You took it off but I don’t think you were fully awake.” He chuckled.
You stood, tucking your tunic into your skirt, and shrugged into the corset before lacing it up the front. “Thanks. Wearing this all night would have been a mistake.”
“I know it bothers your skin,” he said.
You glanced at him and felt yourself flush as he watched you. “We should get back. Your intended will be arriving soon.” You sent him a shallow smile.
“She’s not coming.”
Your fingers slipped from the laces. “What? What happened?”
He walked over and finished lacing your corset for you. “Last night happened.”
You watched his gentle fingers deftly weave and tie the strings. Then his hands were on your waist. “Kili. You didn’t have to- Just because… I’m so sorry.”
“It’s all right. It’s not anyone’s fault. I can’t marry her when I know I love someone else. It’s not fair to her.”
His hair fell in his eyes and you resisted the urge to fix it. “Kili, I-”
“You don’t have to say anything right now, you just woke up,” he chuckled. He reached for your cloaks and handed you yours. You stopped his hands before he slipped into his.
“Wait, don’t. I don’t want to leave yet,” you said, staring at your hands.
“You want to stay in the sleazy room of the pub?” He laughed at you and tossed the cloak back on the bed. “You like it here?”
“This is where you told me you loved me, so yeah, I like it here.”
He pulled your chin up and studied your face. When he saw the sincerity in your features, his softened. He pushed your loose hair, running his finger behind the shell of your ear. You knew you had to say more but the look on his face took your words away. You started to fix the ties on his vest for something to do, something else to look at as you focused your mind.
“I don’t really know what to say to you. I’ve been trying to think all night, but I just-”
“It’s all right, (Y/N). I didn’t mean to spring it all on you like this. I know you don’t feel the same way and that’s okay-”
“But I do feel the same way.” You tugged at the knot you had tied and wrapped the strings around your fingers in the silence. “I’ve always loved you more than I thought I should. I just- I didn’t know what it was until you said it first.”
“Look at me,” he said with a chuckle. You smirked, despite yourself, and sighed as you dropped the ties of his vest. You looked up to see a sweeter than cream, knee-weakening, heart-swelling smile and you felt your chest tighten. “Let me court you,” he said. “If you have any confusion or doubts-”
“Do you ever let me finish a sentence?”
“I let you finish that one.”
His head dropped as he laughed. He grabbed your hands and kissed your fingers. “Let me court you. Let me show you how much I love you.”
“What will your uncle say? I’m no princess, Kili.”
“You’re a princess to me.”
You rolled your eyes hard but before you could look to him, he was kissing you. His arms wrapped tight around you and pulled you to him as his hand cupped the back of your head. He released you only to mumble against your lips. “Do not roll your eyes at me.” You could hear the smile in his voice.
You shook your head and threw your arm around his shoulders, bringing him down for another kiss that sent your heart soaring. He held your waist so tightly, it brought you to you tip toes. Then you felt him laughing.
He set you down. “Can we please get out of this room? I don’t even want to think of the kinds of activities that have been-”
You grabbed your cloak and pulled him out the door. “Please don’t even finish that thought.”
“As if you’d let me.”
When you reached the corridor, he pulled on your hips and spun you. He bent to kiss your lips and then led you down the stairs and out of the pub. “Next time I see Buck, I’m gonna kill him.”
“Forget about him. It’s just us now. And Fili.”
“And Fili,” he said, pulling your shoulders into him and kissing your forehead as you walked arm in arm back to the mountain.