Chapter 1: A Fateful Healing
Author's Note: Hey guys! So this is it, the first re-installment of all my old works. Blessings and Curses is up on AO3, but I had it up on almost three years ago. Some of you might remember it from then. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for taking it down in the first place, that's something I've regretted ever since. In terms of this story going forward, I'm going to re-upload all the old chapters already on AO3 over the course of the next few days, and then afterwards maybe work on some new chapters. But no guarentees, life is hectic right now and I'm pretty busy with both college and the real world.
However, I would love to hear what you guys think and look forward to putting this story back out for everyone to see. I re-downloaded it onto Word and oh boy, did a three-year younger version of me not know how to use spellcheck... I plan on getting the AO3 version of this story fixed soon. In the meantime, please enjoy! I'll try to get another chapter up by tonight but these next few hours are my last escape before wisdom tooth surgery tomorrow.
" Of all the herbs most rare and potent, none can compare to the Athelas, better known in the common tongue as Kingsfoil. This small plant, whilst commonplace and unremarkable in both petal and leaf, hath properties most remarkable. In the hands of a King, its powers are miraculous. However, such power is not nigh as that which it is in the hands of an Elf wielding Magik of the most ancient and cathartic sort. An ancient Magik forsworn and forsaken, known by few, long since banned. Magik that penetrates both skin and sinew, tissue and bone, heart and soul.
Beware, oh heedless apothecary! Ye know not what ye meddle with, for Magik of the soul is the most dangerous kind and the most unpredictable. Thy troubles shalt be heaped down on thine own head, for there will be none to blame for any such unfortunate happenstance or consequences."
-An excerpt from the Lost Apothecary's Handbook, dated from the Second Age
The last Orc fell to the ground with a heavy thud, Tauriel's arrow embedded in its skull.
The she-elf however, did not relax her position or lower her bow as she scanned the room for further intruders. A young boy, a child from the race of Men, crawled out from beneath the table where he'd been hidden.
"You killed them all." The boy said, looking slightly wondrous and still a little hesitant. Tauriel didn't blame him, he and his siblings had probably never seen Orcs- or elves- before in his short life.
I wish it were that simple, she thought to herself, finally tucking away her bow. From the doorway, Legolas called,
"There are others. Tauriel, come!"
Tauriel hesitated. Legolas waited expectantly, eyes dark with the thought of Orcs and hair almost silver in the moonlight. She would be lying if she denied that, in some small corner of her heart, her attraction to him remained. Meanwhile, Kili lay on top of a simple oaken table, semi-conscious and groaning. One of the dwarves—Oin, was it?—had set some odd-looking plate of walnuts under his head, and looked deeply concerned. He glanced up at Tauriel.
"We're losing him!"
Her place was with Legolas, but what about Kili?
Kili, Kili, Kili, Kili… A traitorous voice in the back of her mind chanted. He's going to die if you don't help him, he's going to die… Her heart pounded fiercely in her chest, fear and grief tightening her throat. If she left now, what would happen to him?
"Tauriel," said Legolas again. To anyone else, he would have sounded even more demanding this time than the last, but Tauriel could hear the unspoken plea woven in. Are you coming? Tauriel, please. Don't do anything foolish.
She took a step back.
No, came her reply, equally silent. Legolas paused for a moment, torn, and for a heartbeat Tauriel thought he might stay. But then the moment shattered when the cry of an orc tore through the night and in a flash, Legolas was gone.
Only a second later, a second dwarf—this one with a large, floppy brown hat—came running inside, clutching a plain-flowered plant in his hand. Tauriel took it from him.
"Athelas," she murmured, and the floppy hatted dwarf eyed her uncertainly.
"What are you doing?"
Tauriel looked at him, hoping that she looked a lot calmer than she felt. "I'm going to save him." The reply was a lot simpler than the situation truly warranted. Kili had been struck by a Morgul Shaft—which to the dwarves, certainly meant bad news. But they had no real idea the potency of the arrow's poison. There were some things that not even elvish healing could fix. Not unless…
Tauriel shifted the Kingsfoil around in her palms. It felt lush and fresh. But it is forbidden- such healing has been forbidden for over seven hundred years, what will the Elvenking say to me if he finds out that I used such magic, especially to save the life of a dwarf? She wasn't as worried about the dwarves, they probably wouldn't know one elvish chant from the next, and would have no idea what Fea Evaliir- also known as soul magic- was.
It's dangerous, it's unpredictable… The more cautious side of her, which sounded suspiciously like Legolas, urged. If done wrong, it could get you killed! But the stubborn traitorous side of her was even louder. Kili's life is at stake, and you want to sit around and do nothing? You travelled to Laketown to make sure he would live, and you need to see that through!
Her mind made up, Tauriel gripped the Kingsfoil harder and said grimly to the dwarves, "Hold him down."
Once they had done so, Tauriel pulled back the cloth covering the wound. It looked infected, all swollen and red, and it didn't look like Kili had taken any time to properly treat it at all. That complicates things, the she-elf thought. If Tauriel hadn't been so used to blood, the sight would have made her sick right then and there. Gritting her teeth, she pressed the Kingsfoil against the open wound and began to chant.
Her first guess was right: ordinary elvish healing was not going to work on Kili. His injury was too severe, and had been left untreated for too long. The only option left was Fëa Evaliir.
Tauriel closed her eyes, trying to remember everything she knew about using the forbidden magic. Remember, Tauriel, the voice of her mother came back to her, unbidden. That healing is a gift. You must use it. At its core, Fëa Evaliir is simple. Energy is the truest source of healing, and our energy is life. Life flows through us all, all you need to know how to do is redirect the life and energy from your own body into another. Let the light of the Eldar guide you.
Tauriel's mother had died when she was only a little over a hundred years old, and as Captain of the Guard, Tauriel had always been more of a warrior than a healer. She truly had no idea what she was doing, but knew she had to try. Kili's life depended on it.
She focused, and as she focused, Tauriel could feel the sickness and pain radiating from the young dwarf's body. No matter how hard she focused her own energy into her fingertips and attempted to ease the healing essence into Kili's semi-conscious form, the poison fought back. It clung to Kili like flies to a dead warg, working its way again and again through his bloodstream. Everywhere their skin touched her fingers tingled. If jet black were a color, it would feel like this, Tauriel thought. Like pain and despair, she was suffocating, dying—
And still she pressed deeper. She pushed her way through the darkness, searching for the light. A light. Any light. She chanted even louder.
Then she found it- the light she was looking for. Tauriel sensed it, buried deep within his chest. She allowed herself to open her eyes. To her surprise, Kili was staring back, though he seemed too disoriented to do anything else. It was as if he too sensed that she'd found his soul, for that was what the light within truly was. Tauriel hadn't known what to expect, succeeding in finding the deepest part of the dwarf's inner being. For the first time, she could understand why Fëa Evaliir was outlawed; the soul was a vulnerable thing.
It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, so to speak. Kili's soul was light and warm and young; it felt golden if that made any sense, just as the poison from the Morgul Shaft felt like an inky black. His aura was cheerful and should have been strong, but she could feel it weakening rapidly, even as she willed him to live. She could sense within Kili fears and desires, hopes and dreams, all swirling around inside of his soul like shrouded mist. Within her, she could sense her own soul stir, almost brushing his but not quite. She held it back. It felt wrong to be so directly linked to someone who was unaware of it.
Stay with me, Kili… Stay with me… Tauriel begged. She was beginning to grow tired, and Kili was at death's door. I'm losing him! She realized. Even the forbidden magic was failing….
Let the light of the Eldar guide you…
With one final surge of effort, Tauriel drew from the last reserve of energy she had left—her own soul, her very life force. She felt her soul brush up against his. Pressing down with renewed vigor, she channeled the life force into Kili'. The poison—and even Kili's own body—rebelled against the internal invasion. The dwarfishness of his soul rose up to fight against Tauriel's elvish magic, but to no avail. She squashed it down ruthlessly, continuing to pour elven life and healing into his body, and the fight drained out of him.
Kili's eyes flickered feverishly as he looked up at her. "Tauriel?" he asked sluggishly. But before Tauriel could respond, he continued, unaware. "No, you cannot be her. She is far away… She… She walks in starlight in another world. It was just a dream."
She was only faintly aware of his fingers wrapping weakly around her wrist, so weary from the healing she was. Kili's soul, as battered from the barrage of magic as his body was healed by it, was no longer merely accepting the foreign presence, but embracing it. Adapting to it.
Tauriel frowned. That wasn't supposed to happen…
She stumbled back, head spinning and off balance with exhaustion. Meanwhile, Kili's form had begun to lengthen, his ears growing longer and more pointed while his meager beginnings of a beard faded away entirely. But Tauriel had no more time to wonder at what was happening because at that moment she fell, her head striking the ground, and she knew no more.
Fili closed his eyes in disbelief, turning away from his younger brother. How was any of this possible? The dark-haired stranger laying on top of Bard's table couldn't possibly be Kili, his Kili, the younger brother he had sworn to protect, the most rambunctious member of the Company, but most of all… his best friend. This stranger, tall as any Man—if not taller—couldn't be Kili.
For starters, Kili was a Dwarf.
"We haven't lost him, lad." The golden-haired heir felt the weight of Bofur's hand clasp his shoulder, but the touch didn't feel anywhere near reassuring. Not when Kili had been… had been… I should've done something to save him, Fili thought miserably to himself, refusing to finish his previous train of thought. If only I'd been the one to climb out of my barrel to raise the gate in Mirkwood, or- or if I could've done something to stop that Orc from firing that arrow…
It seemed that Bofur took his silence as a sign to go on. "We haven't lost him," he repeated, but to Fili's ears, it sounded like he was trying to convince himself as well. "He's just different now… He's an…"
"An Elf." Fili managed to reply. There was a terrible moment of silence.
The two fatal words were finally spoken.
Mahal, it sounded ridiculous. Kili the Elf? It sounded like someone's idea of a bad joke or perhaps a very, very bad dream. Certainly not reality. Fili snuck another glance at the strange Elf lying unconscious next to him.
It—no, not it, he, Fili reminded himself, this was Kili he was talking about—stirred slightly, and for a moment all three of the Dwarves tensed, half hoping and half fearing that the Elf was about to awake, but the moment quickly passed. Letting out a soft sigh, he shifted his weight into what Fili hoped was a more comfortable position—because in all honesty, that wooden table didn't look the slightest bit comfortable. The steady rise and fall of his chest assured Fili that the Elf was still in a deep sleep.
Not an Elf, Fili scolded himself. Kili, your brother. Kili, Kili, Kili!
As much as it pained him, Fili could see very little of his brother in the being before him. The stranger certainly had Kili's dark, slightly unruly hair, several strands overshadowing his brow. He also had Kili's clothes—the pants and no doubt the shoes that no longer fit the Elf's taller, more limber build. He'd grown into Bard's red shirt quite nicely, but as for the rest of his clothes, Kili would definitely need to change out of them. Fili cast an uncertain glance at the elleth who had healed his brother, who after losing consciousness herself, had been propped up rather haphazardly against a nearby wall (with the combined efforts of Bofur and Oin- they'd quickly learned that despite their deceptive grace, an unconscious full-grown Elf was heavy).
Had she known that in saving Kili's life, she would be taking him away from them? Fili doubted it; from the little he had seen, it was clear that his little brother was fond of the Elf—perhaps too fond—and now, seeing that she'd come all the way to Laketown to save him, it was also clear that those were feelings that she reciprocated. She would never do anything to willfully hurt him.
Oh, Kee… What have you gotten yourself into?
"I know little of Elvish medicine, and I'd considered it a great honor to watch such healing at work. I wished to see how it would manage to heal Kili," Oin's voice was heavy with regret. "But now all I wish is that I'd been a little less curious, and a little more cautious."
Fili looked directly at the elderly healer, disbelief shining in his eyes. "You mean, this was for nothing? You could've saved Kili's life, without the help of the Elf?"
"You misunderstand me," said Oin with a sad shake of his head. "Kili was fading fast; there was nothing to be done. Initially, I believed that I may have been able to treat him. That is why I stayed behind. But by dusk, I realized that that there was nothing I could do. For better or for worse, that elf," he nodded briefly in Tauriel's direction, "saved his life."
"He's going to panic when he wakes up," said Fili, casting another anxious glance at his brother. A soft smile flitted across the unconscious former Dwarf's face, and he murmured something that sounded suspiciously like 'Tauriel.' Tauriel. Was that the Elf woman's name? Fili frowned. Was his brother actually… dreaming about her? Kili, please don't tell me this means you actually like the Elf!
"What was that?" asked Bofur.
"What was what? I didn't hear anything," said Fili, perhaps a little too quickly, covering for his brother. "What I said was 'he's going to panic when he wakes up.'"
"Aye, that he is." agreed Oin. "But for all we know, this may not be permanent. The Elf who healed him may know how to reverse this. Until then, we'll just have to remain patient until she wakes up."
That's a lot easier said than done, Fili thought grimly. What will we do if Kili wakes up before she does? What will we say? How do you explain to someone that they have become something that they are supposed to hate? But the question he asked was one even more pressing. "Kili is my brother, no matter what. But how will Thorin react?"
A groggy voice caused all three Dwarves to jump.
"How will Thorin react to what?"
Consciousness returned to Kili in bits and pieces. At first, all he could remember was searing pain. Terrible pain, like none he'd ever endured before, spreading from his injured knee to the rest of his body. Then there was the jarring sensation of falling on the ground when the Orcs attacked. Wait, was it the Orcs that attacked? Kili was pretty sure it was the Orcs, but for all he knew, it could've been anything. The poison in the arrowhead made him feverish and hazy.
Then he'd seen Tauriel, and that part he was pretty sure was a dream. For one, Tauriel lived in Mirkwood, what would she be doing in Laketown? And even if she somehow had followed the Company to Laketown and healed him, it didn't make any sense for her to be glowing as she did so.
But as impossible as it was, it felt so real.
In his dream, she'd placed her hands on his wound and began to chant. And as she chanted, he'd began to feel rather… strange. Something other than the sickness had crept into his body and seeped into his very bones. At first, it had felt nice- all light and warmth and distinctly Tauriel. But then, it had grown overpowering, tearing him apart from the inside, burning and blinding him with its brightness.
Come to think of it, he could still feel the warm little light in his chest. It no longer felt uncomfortable, but welcoming and natural. He smiled softly to himself. It was nice. Like Tauriel.
It was then that he became aware of the conversation going on around him.
"…May not be permanent," came the slightly rough but unmistakable voice of Oin. "The elf who healed him… we'll just have to be patient until she wakes up." Oin's voice drifted in and out of focus. What were they talking about? Kili tried to ask, but his mouth felt like it was filled with cotton. He wanted to wake up, to reassure everyone that he was alright, but his eyelids felt so heavy…
The next voice however, Kili understood perfectly.
"Kili is my brother—" Fee! Kili wanted to embrace him. Of course I'm your brother, why wouldn't I be? Unaware of the former Dwarf's awareness, Fili continued. "—no matter what. But how will Thorin react?"
How will Uncle Thorin react?
There was something wrong with him.
Panic surged inside of Kili, and he struggled to push it down. What's wrong? He wanted to cry out. What's so bad that Uncle wouldn't accept me for it? Was he blind, and that was why he couldn't open his eyes? Or… Or had his injured leg been amputated, and he would never be able to walk again? But as far as Kili knew, Thorin had never disowned or discriminated against anyone based on an injury. In fact, it was his uncle who taught Kili to respect those severely injured in battle. Maybe Fili was simply worried that Thorin wouldn't be pleased to learn that Kili'd been healed by an Elf.
That's it, Kili told himself. My dream wasn't a dream; Tauriel was really here. Uncle isn't going to be happy to hear that an Elf saved my life.
All the same, he struggled to open his eyes. Come on, he coaxed his stubborn eyelids. For Durin's sake, work!
His eyes flew open, the lighting inside Bard's almost blinding. Squinting, he managed to ask in a voice thick and heavy with sleep, "How will Uncle react to what?"
Kili watched at the color drained out of his brother's face. Fili took a deep breath, as if bracing himself for something unpleasant, and took a step closer to him. "Kee," he said slowly. Kili stiffened. Fili hadn't used that nickname so publicly since they were children. "No matter what has happened, you will always be my brother."
Kili whimpered. "Fee, you're scaring me." He struggled to sit up, but Oin gently pushed him back down.
"Easy, laddie. I don't think you're ready for that quite yet."
The young prince ignored him and sat up anyway. His head ached, but the wrongness of the situation hit him like a thunderclap. Even though he was not standing up, it was clear that he was taller than Fili. Taller than any of the Dwarves for that matter.
"What's going on?" He asked, hating how frightened and demanding he sounded.
Fili gingerly put a reassuring hand on his arm. "An Elf woman came and healed you, brother. You were dying."
"Tauriel," Kili said softly, happy that part hadn't been a dream after all. "But what's going on? Why is everyone acting like someone just died?"
His brother took a shaky breath. "She saved you, Kili, but at a price. You're no longer a Dwarf… You're an Elf."
"What?"Kili stared disbelievingly at the three Dwarves before him. No. No, no, no, no, no…. It all made sense, in a horrible, twisted sort of way. Kili raised his hands in front of his face, staring at the elongated, elegant digits in shock. The nails were still dirty and cut to the quick, but unfamiliar. They weren't his hands.
The fact that he was taller. The strange warmth in his chest. It was magic. Desperately, he looked to Fili. "I don't believe you." His voice shook. "You're lying!" The room rocked and he rocked with it. Fili's reply was soft, barely above a whisper.
"I wouldn't lie to you, Kee."
No, no, no, no, no!
With a morbid fascination, he brought the foreign hands up to his face, tracing its contours. His face felt strange, more angular. His cheeks and jaw were now as smooth and soft as the skin of a newborn dwarfling, all traces of the scruffy beginnings of a beard gone. His hands roved higher. Kili dreaded what he would find, but found himself unable to stop. Fingertips traced over the long, sensitive pointed ears, and Kili could hold it back no more.
He was inexplicably and undeniably an Elf.
Fili was right, what was Thorin going to think? His uncle wouldn't want an Elf as one of his heirs!
Kili could see his own grief reflected in the bright blue eyes of his brother. Looking back on the moment later, neither Oin nor Bofur could tell who acted first—the second Fili opened his arms was the second Kili flung himself into his brother's embrace where they stayed for a while, rocking ever so slightly back and forth.
"It's going to be alright," murmured Fili. "Everything's going to turn out okay."
Oin and Bofur exchanged uncertain glances. Would it?