Author's Note: Hey guys! Welcome back to the second part of this story. Thank you so much to all of you who followed, favorited, and reviewed. I apologize for getting this chapter up later than planned, but the wisdom tooth surgery really knocked me down harder than expected. Once again, this chapter is identical to the one found on AO3 (albeit with a few minor edits) and the third one should be up shortly.
lindir's gaze: Yes, how will Thorin react is a VERY interesting question, and one you're going to have to wait a little while longer to find out... One hint though: with Thorin under the thrall of the gold sickness, it's NOT gonna be good. ;)
Without further ado, I give you Chapter 2!
The house shook as another roar sounded in the distance.
"Smaug," said Bofur grimly. "We've got to get out of here. Quickly."
Kili made a move to get off the table, but fell with a startled yelp as soon as his feet touched the ground. The former Dwarf looked pained as he staggered to his feet, gripping the table for support.
"Are you alright, brother?" asked Fili. He put a steadying hand on Kili's arm—not that it would do much good if the Elf did stumble, Fili supposed that with Kili's larger size, he may just end up dragging his brother down with him. He gripped the sides of the table so hard his knuckles turned white, which Fili pretended not to notice. Taking a few labored breaths, Kili nodded.
"I'm fine," he said, "I—I can't walk right with this body." With this body. As if the body he was currently in was not his own. Shuffling his feet underneath him, Kili drew himself to his full height and loosened his grip somewhat. However, as he continued, he looked distinctly embarrassed. "But… I think I split my pants."
"I'll ask Singrid if Bard has any to spare. And shoes too," Fili added with a pointed glance at his feet. Kili followed his brother's gaze, gasping at what he saw. His boots—his favorite, worn leather boots—were destroyed, split along the seams by much longer Elven feet. The former dwarf blinked in surprise—those couldn't—how could those be his feet? But to his dismay, when he willed his toes to move, the Elvish toes sticking out of the boots wiggled as well.
Fili encountered Singrid while racing up the stairs, both moving so quickly that they nearly ran into each other.
"I need to borrow some pants and a pair of boots," said Fili.
Singrid's eyes narrowed in confusion as she peered around the blond dwarf. "What for?" She asked. "You're a dwarf. And who's that by the table down there?"
Tilda poked her head out from behind her older sister. "I think he's an Elf," she informed Singrid with an air of childlike certainty. Her eyes widened. "But I don't remember him. Do you think he'll bring good luck like the Dwarves were supposed to? Do you suppose he got here through the toilet as well?"
"That's Kili." At both girls astonished and disbelieving glances, Fili knew he'd need a better explanation, but a better explanation would have to wait. Smaug was near enough now that they could hear wingbeats; the whole house seemed to quake under the rage of the dreaded dragon. Singrid glanced anxiously at the ceiling then nodded, dashing back upstairs. A moment later she returned carrying a brown bundle and a pair of muddied boots.
"Here," she said, tossing them to Fili. "Will these work?"
Fili nodded. "Thank you."
He brought them back to Kili, uncrumpling the pants and doing the best he could to scrape the mud off the boots. "Here, put these on."
The last thing Kili wanted to do was put on Bard's extra clothes. To put on the extra clothes was to confirm the reality of his situation, to acknowledge his change in size. It almost felt like a betrayal, casting off his Dwarven belongings.
But in the end, that is what the newly formed Elf had to do. This isn't permanent, he told himself, hastily slipping on the pants before Singrid and Tilda came hurdling back down the stairs. Next he pulled on the boots, uncertain of whether to be disturbed or relieved by the fact that they fit almost perfectly. Oin said Tauriel will be able to fix it, once she wakes up. I am not an Elf. This is not my body. I am a Dwarf of Erebor. I am a Son of Durin! It rapidly became a mantra as he fought back the tears that threatened to fall.
They climbed into the small boat tied to the side of the house overlooking the harbor, all of them- he, Fili, Oin, Bofur, Singrid, Tilda and Tauriel. Well, not so much Tauriel; the unconscious elleth was half carried, half hauled into the boat. Kili had tried to help, but only succeeded in tripping over his own too large, too foreign feet. Wordlessly, Fili had guided him back to the boat, allowing his younger brother to lean against him like a crutch.
Kili wasn't sure whether to scream or cry at his inability to be useful—weren't Elves supposed to be graceful?
He realized his slip-up almost too late: I am not an Elf, he hastily amended. Elves were supposed to be graceful, but he was not an Elf.
Laketown was in shambles, the bitter cold of the crisp winter air contrasted sharply with the blistering heat of dragon fire. People scattered like leaves on the wind; the screams of unfortunate souls caught up in the inferno mingling with the cries of men calling to one another, children crying for their parents and mothers wailing for their lost children.
Tilda hunkered closer to him, drawing her knees up against her chest. "I'm scared," she whispered, almost inaudibly. Kili did not respond—what was there to say? They had come to the Lonely Mountain seeking to reclaim their lost homeland and awakened Smaug, the dragon inflicting his ire upon Laketown. His throat tightened. We did this. This is our fault. We brought this danger to Laketown- me, Thorin, and the rest of the Company. He rowed even harder.
The fire was red, its flaming spread… Unbidden, the Song of The Lonely Mountain rang in his ears, the words eerily prophetic.
The trees like torches blazed with light… Uncle Thorin's voice was pitched low and gravelly, deep within his chest, and Kili could almost imagine a voice like that coming from deep within the heart of the mountain itself. Only meters away, a Man who caught fire plunged into the Lake. Kili wasn't sure if he ever resurfaced.
The bells were ringing in the Dale,
And Men looked up with faces pale…
"Where's Da?" Singrid crouched unsteadily, causing the boat to sway slightly back and forth, craning her neck to see over the heads of the Oin and Fili. The dark shape of Smaug swooped overhead again, so close the occupants of the boat could feel the rush of air created by his wings. Behind Kili, Tauriel slept on, oblivious to the carnage all around them.
Then dragon's ire more fierce than fire,
Laid low their houses and towers frail…
"Look, up there!"
They all looked up to where Tilda pointed. Far in the distance, Kili could see a lone figure—a Man—atop of the ruined bell tower. Tattered cloak billowing in the wind with bow and arrow in hand, the Man stood, braced against Smaug himself.
"It's too dark to see clearly," said Singrid, frowning.
"There is someone up there," added Fili in a doubtful tone, "but your sister is right. It's too dark to tell."
Kili shook his head. "No, I can see—clear as day. It's Bard!"
Bard misfired another arrow, its sharp point glancing off the dragon's hide as if nothing. But it was not nothing, and Smaug knew it. The dragon seemed to stiffen, arching his neck and changing direction in midair, flying back towards the archer and the tower. Tilda let out a muffled scream as Smaug descended, his heavy tail striking the tower and sending rubble and debris flying into the lake below. But still Bard held on.
The terrible dragon and the noble bowman disappeared from sight when the boat rounded the corner, hidden by an expanse of tall buildings.
"Do you think Da's alright?" Tilda asked softly, looking wistfully off into the direction from which they'd came.
"I'm sure your Da is fine," came Oin's response, more out of desire to comfort the child than the actual truth. "If anyone can slay that dragon, it's him."
The mountain smoked beneath the moon,
The Dwarves, they heard-
A startled gasp from behind him jolted Kili from his thoughts. He spun around quickly, one hand already subconsciously reaching for his bow- the bow that he did not possess at the time being and would've been too small to use properly anyway, but stopped in his tracks. He was confronted by none other than a very awake Tauriel.
Tauriel wasn't fond of strange situations in which she didn't know what was going on, and this was no exception.
She awoke to the sounds of people screaming and the hiss and crackle of flame, to the smell of buildings burning and the feel of cold night air and smoke leaving a bitter taste in the back of her throat. She certainly didn't expect to wake up on a small boat accompanied by two children, three Dwarves from the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, and a strange Elf.
Instantly, she sat upright. She had no idea what was happening or what she planned on doing next, but anything was better than doing nothing at all. A pressing sense of urgency nudged her onwards, but she had no idea of what to say. She surveyed the Company again—there were only three. Kili was missing, and the very thought caused her heart to skip a beat.
"Where am I, and where is Kili?" Whatever she'd needed to say so urgently, that shouldn't have been it. Such concern for the young Dwarf would only rouse suspicion from the other Dwarves and the unknown Elf, bringing unnecessary attention to both herself and Kili. She was a warrior, a Captain of the guard. Such softness should not have slipped by her.
Yet it did, and there was nothing she could say to take back her words.
Her question however, elicited a very unexpected response.
The Elf in the red shirt—in Bard's red shirt, although her mind was still too weary and addled to put two and two together- turned towards her. His eyes, a deep shade of brown, almost black in the dark but shining twice as bright, glinted with an unrecognizable emotion. It was not until the Elf spoke that Tauriel recognized the voice, though the face and form had changed.
He leaned a little closer. "Tauriel," he said. "It's me."
It was Kili.
Instantly, all traces of grogginess vanished from Tauriel's face. The elleth sat upright so suddenly the entire boat rocked, its passengers gripping the sides to steady it. Tauriel, seemingly unaffected by the upset, settled herself into a more poised seating position, legs tucked under her and feet pressed firmly against the baseboards.
"Kili?" Her voice caught in her throat. "How did this…" The words died before they left her mouth. Kili looked miserable, shoulders hunched and arms wrapped around himself as if warding off a chill. As if, the Captain of the Guard told herself. If Kili was truly as Elven as he looked, then the cold—at least not a mild cold- would have much effect on him. No, the biting pain Kili suffered from was one from within—for not only did the dark-haired Elf look miserable, he looked lost.
"I woke up like this," Kili said numbly. "Long legs, no beard, stupid ears…"
Tauriel wanted to argue that Elf ears were not stupid- she could hear the sound of a twig snapping from half a mile away, thank you very much, but decided that it probably wouldn't be best for her first real conversation with Kili since Mirkwood to be an argument. Kili's delirious ramblings at Bard's place didn't count for anything.
He shifted his own weight slightly, his saddened grin reminding Tauriel more of a grimace. "Surprise. Do you still think I'm tall for a Dwarf?"
It was intended as a joke, but neither felt like laughing.
Do you think I'm tall for a Dwarf?
There was nothing Dwarven left about Kili. That wasn't to say that he wasn't Kili; Tauriel could easily see the shadow of the Dwarf behind the face of the Elf. He was still distinct and recognizable, the dark eyes and hair virtually untouched. Perhaps his brows remained thicker, denser than those of a typical Elf, his skin a little less smooth. But everything that truly mattered in the appearance of an Elf—the ears, the build, the stature—was there. The Kili seated before her was not one who looked as if under an enchantment. He looked as though he'd always been an Elf.
Kili could see the understanding dawn in Tauriel's eyes, and felt a myriad of conflicting emotions. On one hand, she was Tauriel, his rescuer, his… friend. He felt strangely reluctant to call her anything more, for what was there to call her? Crush made him sound like he was back in his thirties and liking a female for the first time. Lover implied they were something more when they were not.
As Thorin said, she was the enemy. And in saving him, she'd made him the enemy as well.
Kili suppressed a shudder. What was his uncle going to think when he found out what had happened to him?
Hesitantly, as if afraid he would shy away from her touch, Tauriel reached out a hand. She paused only inches from his face, then drew back. "Fëa Evaliir," she murmured quietly.
"Feeya Eval-eer?" Kili echoed in confusion, mangling the Sindarin pronunciation. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Fëa Evaliir," Tauriel repeated, more firmly that time. "Soul magic. It's what I used to heal you."
"You preformed magic on his soul?" Fili demanded incredulously, whirling around so quickly that his paddle flew up out of the lake, scattering drops of water everywhere and nearly whacking Kili upside the head. The blond dwarf shot an apologetic glance at his brother. "Oops. Sorry, Kili." His attention was quickly drawn back to Tauriel. "But isn't that dangerous?"
Tauriel nodded. "Very. I wouldn't have used it if I hadn't believed it would be the only way to save his life."
I'm going to save him. It seemed that her earlier words had come back to haunt her. It was hard to believe that they'd came from her lips less than an hour before. She'd been so confident then, so sure of herself. So sure that she was doing the right thing in saving Kili's life. But was it the right thing to do? It was clear that Kili was devastated by his transformation, and Tauriel knew firsthand that if their wish for death was severe enough, an Elf could fade away from grief. To make things even more difficult, Kili was originally not an Elf but a Dwarf.
Tauriel tried to imagine what the roles would've looked like in reverse; an Elf forced into the body of a Dwarf. She did her best to stifle a cringe as she imagined what it would be like, trapped in a squat, aging body, living away from the starlight deep underground, spending the remainder of her days obsessing over gems and precious metals. Any sane Elf would prefer death over such a wretched existence.
Would a Dwarf feel the same way about being an Elf?
If he lives on, he will lose everything, Tauriel realized with a sudden jolt. He will outlive his uncle and brother. And there was no way to tell yet of how deeply Kili's transformation affected him psychologically. He may find himself claustrophobic underground, or develop a yearning for trees and open spaces, she realized with growing horror. He will live as an outcast from his people.
She said none of this out loud, but her heart cried out for what she had done to the Dwarf she'd been trying to help.
Oh Kili, what have I done to you?
Another frightening roar cut through the night. Their boat tilted ominously back and forth on the inky water as waves struck the starboard side, propelled by the collapse of a fire-ravaged structure only yards away. Oin glanced nervously out over the lake.
"This may be a discussion better reserved for another time."
The shadow of Smaug darted once more over the lake, the occupants of the boat hardly daring to breathe. No one disagreed with the old healer.
Before dawn, they set up camp.
Bofur was weary—they had to haul the boat far enough up shore it wouldn't drift away at the first opportunity- and ice—cold water sloshed around in his boots. With stiff fingers, he riffled through his coat pockets, searching for his pipe. He felt near frozen and was in need of a good smoke. He soon found his pipe, but belatedly realized that he had nothing to light it with: his matches were too soaked with lake water to be of any use.
Ah, well. At least he hadn't lost his hat.
The toy maker paused on the shore, glancing back to see how his companions were faring.
Oin was the next to trudge to shore, and behind him came Singrid holding tightly to Tilda's hand. Tauriel leapt from the boat to dry ground with irritating ease. Stupid, arrogant Elves with their natural agility. Fili had gone back to help Kili off the boat, the former Dwarf still struggling to maintain balance with his altered gait. Kili still leaned heavily on the blond Dwarf, Fili stoic and uncomplaining as he bore the icy water once again to assist his brother.
At last they were all on dry land, but they weren't the only ones.
Hundreds of Men and women- survivors from Laketown- gathered in groups, some sitting around hastily made fires, others wringing out waterlogged possessions or tending the wounded. Some simply sat down on the ground and stared listlessly off into the distance, shell shocked. The air was filled with the thrum of voices.
One voice in particular rose above the rest.
"If it isn't Bard, the hero of Laketown, the slayer of Smaug!" It was Alfrid, the sleazy advisor of the Master. The man's voice was as slick and oily as his hair. Bard, emerging from the middle of the crowd, scowled.
No amount of wheedling and assurances could earn back the trust Alfrid had lost from the people after his cowardly flight from Laketown, and the angry crowd closed in on him. Too late, the selfish advisor realized that the tide had turned against him.
"This could get ugly," Oin murmured, and Bofur was grateful for their location further down shore, where even Bard took no notice of them. It was unlikely that any would unless they were truly looking. At the sight of their father, Singrid and Tilda took off running.
"Da!" Before anyone could stop them, they launched themselves into his arms.
Bard's expression softened as he held his children close. Turning back to the crowd and Alfrid, the Bowman spoke, and his words calmed the angry sea of faces. The tension over, the Dwarves, Kili, and Tauriel resumed setting up camp.
"Now that that's settled," Bofur sighed, once again attempting to light his pipe, successfully this time. "I think there's a lot we need to talk about."
Tauriel shifted uncomfortably. "Where do I begin?"
"How about at the beginning?"
Kili had to be dreaming. There was no other explanation.
His head spun, trying to process everything Tauriel had told him as they sat around the fireside, the shore strangely quiet as most of the people of Laketown had long since gone to sleep. Their fire had begun to burn out, but no one moved to rekindle it. It would be morning in a few hours, and the sun would chase away the predawn chill. Besides, it seemed that Tauriel's account had enraptured them all.
Soul magic, forbidden healing, transformation? Kili shook his head. It all sounded like something out of a legend, a far-fetched tale like the ones Uncle used to tell him and Fili when they were dwarflings. Certainly not something that happened in real life.
Tauriel seemed apologetic as she spoke, her eyes constantly seeking out Kili's as she sought to explain. With no little difficulty, Kili gazed back. In part, he felt that he should've been angry at the elleth for what she'd done to him, for what he had lost, but found himself unable to. Maybe it was because her intentions were well-meaning, or maybe it was simply because she was Tauriel.
Either way, Kili couldn't find it in his heart to hate her.
And for that, he wasn't sure whether to be grateful or concerned.
Either way, he knew he had to return things to normal. Soon. Before Thorin or any other member of the Company could see him as a shirumund Elf.
"You don't suppose you could… change me back by any chance?" Kili's tone was so achingly hopeful, it even pained him. The doubt in Tauriel's eyes was obvious.
"I can try," she offered, moving closer to him. "But I have never done this before and it may not work. But I will give it my all."
She placed one hand on either side of the dark-haired Elf's temples, right above the ears, and began to chant. It was disconcerting to see how the Dwarf who'd not quite came up to her chest had managed to become an Elf nearly a full head taller than her. She couldn't imagine what it felt like from Kili's perspective.
Kili closed his eyes and focused on the sound of her voice. He could feel a strange, prickling sensation spreading throughout his body, and felt almost dizzy with hope. Maybe this would work after all. The ball of warmth in his chest seemed to swell, growing stronger and larger. Whether it was working with or against Tauriel's magic Kili wasn't sure, but he prayed that it was the former.
It flickered and grew, and as Tauriel's incantation increased in speed and volume, he felt a rush of excitement. This was it, he knew. Soon he would be a Dwarf again, probably looking ridiculous in Bard's oversized clothes, but none of that would matter. He would be himself again, and everything would return to normal—
Abruptly, he realized that Tauriel was no longer chanting.
Slowly, cautiously, hardly daring to breathe, he opened his eyes. To his surprise, he found Tauriel staring back, her face almost inches from his own. Staring up at him, not down. The disappointment came crashing down on him, as hard as any physical blow.
He was still an Elf.
Tauriel gently drew back, moisture gathering in the corners of her eyes as she apologized. "I am sorry, Kili. I am so, so sorry."
Kili could swear he could almost feel his heart breaking—if the pesky warmth in his chest hadn't been pulsing more strongly. Self-consciously, he rubbed at it. "Do you always feel like this?" he asked.
Tauriel looked confused. "Feel like what?"
"Like there's a furnace in your chest."
The elleth brought a hand up to her own collarbone. "I… I suppose I do," she said at last, looking thoughtful.
Kili frowned. "What do you mean, you suppose you do?"
"I guess I've never really given much thought to it before," Tauriel replied. "I have always felt this. What you feel Kili is the Light of the Eldar, a life force present in all Elves." She carefully refrained from mentioning it was the Light of the Eldar that gave Elves their long life spans and immortality.
The idea of being immortal seemed to have not yet occurred to Kili yet, and she didn't wish to bring it to the forefront of his mind until he was ready. The knowledge would devastate the former Dwarf, who was devastated enough already. Yes, Tauriel realized, he would find out soon enough.
But until that time came, there was no harm in helping to shelter him from the pain.
The group lapsed into an uncomfortable silence until at last Bofur stretched and said with a yawn, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready to hit the hay. Tomorrow we can begin the long walk to the Lonely Mountain. Just think of it, lads. Erebor awaits!"
The rest of the group hastily agreed, and as the three Dwarves and Kili lay down and got situated, Tauriel wondered if it was an appropriate time to mention that Elves didn't require the same kind of sleep that Dwarves did.