Chapter Sixty: A Taste of Something Sweet


Emelia elbowed Legolas in her effort to cross the space faster, catching him in the side as she muscled her way past him and a very confused Strider. What would normally take her ten steps, she did in closer to three. At the first possible moment, only after being certain she wouldn't miscue her intended flying leap and end up sprawled out on the ground, she jettisoned herself.

She might have been impressed by the altitude and longitudinal distance of her jump, if she wasn't so focused on wrapping her arms and legs around Kili like a monkey.

They slammed together, graceless and desperate in their need to just hold each other. Kili's arms wrapped around her waist and supported her weight as she clung to him, pressing his face against her neck as she struggled, and failed, to control her sudden onslaught of painful sobbing. They fell backwards together, his feet slipping on the dewy grass until his back hit a small tree.

"Em," He tried to speak, readjusting his grip on her hips as she started to slip down his front. "Emelia."

Her sobbing was starting to get out of hand, making it harder and harder for her to breathe with each moment that passed. If her mind had well and truly decided to betray her, it was certainly doing a bang up job. He felt so real, so solid, and so very present in her arms that she couldn't imagine he was anything but her Kili. He was here.

He was here.

"Kili," She breathed his name against his skin. It was almost hard to say after avoiding it for so long. It felt foreign on her tongue, like tasting the sweetest fruit for the first time ever. She wanted to say it again and again until she went hoarse, to taste it until it was all she knew and all she would remember. "I can't believe you're here."

"You're here. Where else am I supposed to be?"

The commitment in his words struck her dumb and she lost all ability to comprehend and process what was happening. She pulled back, arms and legs still gripping to him for dear life, and looked at his face. He was more handsome than even her fondest memories. "I missed you so fucking much."

Using one arm to peel her legs from around his waist, he set her down as gently as possible. Faced with the possibility of even an inch of distance between them, she scooted closer, bringing their chests flush. His hand, now free, reached up to touch her face, fingers shaking ever so slightly as he brushed away a few of the tears.

In her refusal to even acknowledge his existence during the last eight months she hadn't prepared herself for how to process him standing right in front of her again. She could feel herself beginning to get overwhelmed and wrapped her arms around him tighter to ground herself as her senses started to spin. He was so handsome, and warm, and bright, and everything she had so desperately missed and he was here. It repeated in her mind like a mantra, fighting off her own doubts before they had time to take root and fester.

He was here.

He was here.

He was here.

His fingers spread across her face, cupping her chin and pulling her even closer, if that was possible. "I'm sorry it took me so long, love."

Unable to hold it in any longer, she closed the remaining distance between them, minimal though it may be.

"Is there no love for us?"

Emelia froze, mouth just a hair's breadth away from kissing Kili, and turned to face the person who had so rudely interrupted what was likely to be the best kiss of her life. He was forgiven, however, when she saw that the he was, in fact, Fili. Her knees would have buckled if not for Kili holding her upright. When he was certain she wouldn't keel over, he took a minuscule step back, one hand still resting comfortably on her hip. Fili's hair was a halo of yellow, smoother than she ever remembered seeing it, and freshly braided. The familiarity of him comforted her, slowing down her racing pulse, until she saw the thick scar than ran down his face, cutting through his eyebrow and ending in the middle of his nose.

The guilt hit her like a truck.

"Why are you crying again?"

"I'm so overwhelmed." Her voice was little more than a squeak, laughable in any other situation. "And I don't know if I can stop. Come hug me. Right now."

Fili crossed the small space and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, rocking her back in forth. "You don't have to be so dramatic."

"Shut up, Fee."

From over his shoulder, she could see the others gathered in the small clearing. Dwalin, beefy arms folded across his chest and looking very perturbed to have to be there witnessing such an emotional mess, waved one hand when she looked at him. Legolas and Strider stood side by side, each sporting expression that could not have been more opposite. Legolas, finally showing the sort of strong emotion she had always craved to see on his face, looked absolutely disgusted. Strider had a pleasant smile that seemed to actually reach his eyes and she was struck by the genuine happiness.

"Dwalin, get in here."

"I would rather not," Dwalin said, eyeing Legolas with a certain level of disdain. The elf returned the gesture in kind, prickling up like a handsome pufferfish.

"I've missed you too, Dwalin." She tightened her arms around Fili once more before she stepped back. Her arms, seemingly not content to not be holding someone, snaked around Kili again of their accord. The hand still attached to her hip flexed, fingers digging in and holding her even tighter.

Legolas and Strider continued to watch her, expressions more divergent than ever. At seeing them both continuing to stare at her, she realized what this must look like to them, and blushed a deep crimson. "Strider, this is my…"

"Kili," Strider filled in her for, saving her from having to decide what word to use to describe Kili.

Soulmate felt a touch dramatic. But, boyfriend felt too casual. Fiancé was probably right, but that might be too presumptuous given the fact that she'd pulled a runner less than a week after agreeing to marry him. "Kili. Simple, succinct, alive. Speaking of being alive, how did that happen? Because last time I saw you, well both of you actually, you were so close to death the grim reaper was basically buying stock in your soul, and now here you are alive, and warm, and so very handsome, and I'm having trouble processing it all and I think its hitting me now that this is what a panic attack feels like. But a happy panic attack. If that's a thing. Is it a thing?"

"Emmy?"

And there went her knees, trying to turn to jelly once again.

"I'm sorry, this a lot to take in." His hand moved up her back, rubbing smoothing circles. "You. Alive. You're alive, Kili. I thought you died and I'm not that lucky, so how are you here?" She took a deep breath, thinking she was over, before she spotted Legolas staring at like he always stared at her. "And Legolas, if you could stop looking so constipated, that would be fantastic."

"Wonderful." Fili cut across her before she could continue to babble her way through what was supposed to a joyful occasion. "This is wonderful. Prince Legolas, wonderful to see you again. And your friend, hello. I'm Fili."

"Strider."

"That's an action, not a name," Dwalin said, looking thoroughly unimpressed by the young man standing awkwardly next to Legolas.

"His real name is apparently a secret."

"I love mysteries."

"Like the one about how you're alive," Emelia said, before she caught herself, realizing she didn't want to ruin the moment with those sort of particulars. "Right sorry. It doesn't matter. Why don't we all go to Bilbo's?"

The pause that followed was uncomfortably long and she thought they were all waiting for her to say something else.

"I think that sounds…"

"Wonderful?"


Bilbo was clearly in the middle of taking an early evening nap when Emelia threw open the door to Bag End and shouted his name. He came streaking out of the study, eyes bleary and clothing rumpled. When he caught sight of her standing by the open door, practically vibrating with energy, he rushed forward and placed his hands on her arms, concern overtaking the sleepiness.

"What? What happened? Are you hurt?" His eyes raked over her face, checking for injuries and cataloguing the differences from the last time he had seen her. Despite the fact that it had only been a week, she hoped he would find something a little different than the last time he looked. "You're smiling. Why?" He narrowed his eyes, suspicion the third emotion on his face in the last minute.

"Mister Boggins!" Kili's arms wrapped around them both, smushing them together and rocking them back and forth. It was a joke that Emelia didn't understand, but seemed to bring Bilbo a large amount of happiness. Fili joined in after a moment, laughing as Bilbo began to splutter and stutter and stammer his way through his shock. They gave them both one final squeeze before they stepped back, Kili keeping his hand on Emelia's shoulder.

It was heavy and comforting and anchoring all at the same time and she found herself inching ever so slightly back so that she could be pressed against him, unable to give up his warmth now that she had it back.

Bilbo looked over at Emelia, mouth slightly agape. "I know."

"How…"

"I know, Bilbo."

Bilbo moved forward and wrapped Fili, who stood the closest to him, in another hug.

"After all this time," Bilbo said, stepping back from Fili as he clapped him on the back. "I had hoped, but it was starting to seem futile."

"And here they are," Emelia said, voice shaking slightly.

Her brain, it seemed, still hadn't managed to catch up to the moment. She no longer thought her mind was bullying her, not really, but the emotions of the whole thing were starting to feel a bit like not being able to come down from the most potent high imaginable. Or at least, she thought it would if she had ever been a high a day in her life.

"Tea?"

"Something a big stronger, if you don't mind." Dwalin muscled his way past the small group gathered at the door, shooting one more sour look at Legolas and Strider, who had, up until that moment, been content to hover outside Bag End. Legolas bent his shoulders to peer inside, having only been in the house briefly eight months before, and inclined his head ever so slightly when he saw Bilbo. Strider hung back, his torso and legs the only part of his body visible, making him look distinctly like a headless stalk of corn.

"Hello, Legolas. Won't you come in?"

"We cannot stay. We only wished to see Emelia home safely."

Bilbo, who had developed a distinct liking to the elf, looked genuinely crestfallen to hear it. Still, he smiled and gestured for Dwalin to follow him, a certain pep to his step that caused Emelia to smile. The lack of news about the Durins had weighed almost as heavily on Bilbo as it had on her. She caught him on more than one occasion staring into space, a melancholy look on his face that even she did not recognize. It would disappear, like he would only allow himself a few moments to wallow before he forced his mind to move on.

She imagined the news, this unexpected stroke of joy, would sustain his good mood for weeks, even months, and she was happy for him just as she was happy for herself.

"Emelia, a word," Legolas said, catching her before she could start to follow after Bilbo and Dwalin. She felt Kili's hand flex on her shoulder, but he stepped back to make room for her to step out the door, hand trailing down her back until she was out of reach. Giving her one more look, one that made a fresh blush spring up on her face, he walked further into the house with Fili, leaving her to sort out her final business with Legolas and Strider for the time being.

Truthfully, however, if Legolas hadn't said anything, she would have trailed after Kili like a duckling, hanging on his every action and word. She would follow him anywhere, it was only a matter of deciding where they wanted to go, what adventures they wanted to take. They had their whole lives ahead of them now, the possibilities intimidating in all their limitlessness, and Emelia looked forward to making those sorts of decisions together. She bit her lip for a moment to keep from smiling too brightly, before she caught herself. There was no point in hiding it, no point in pretending to be anything other than blisteringly happy.

She closed the big green door behind her, stepping out into the evening sun. In the short time she had been in the house, Strider had removed his outer cloak and placed in on the wooden railing, the sweat and heat unbearable in all his black. He smiled when she approached, moving to give her just a little more space.

"You don't have to leave, you know," She said after a short moment, although she knew that she didn't mean it and Legolas would never agree to it. She didn't imagine there would ever been a situation in which he would willingly subject himself to close quarters with a dwarf, let alone three. She was impressed he had stuck it out this long.

"He deserves your full attention."

"Did saying that cause you physical pain?" Emelia asked, smirking as Legolas rolled his eyes.

"I am happy for you, Emelia, truly, and I will say no more at the risk of ruining what should be a celebratory occasion."

"I don't think anything could ruin this moment."

"I must admit, I am thankful to avoid Ered Luin."

"It is beautiful, I think even you would see that," Strider piped up, sharing a look with Emelia that caused her to smile even wider. Legolas scoffed and found a sudden and intense interest in a flock of birds passing overhead. "He seems kind."

"He is," Emelia gushed, hopping up on the wood railing with a stupidly large smile on her face. Her hands griped it to keep from toppling backwards or forwards. "If you're not going to stick around, where are you going to go?"

"I have patrols I must do. But they will keep me close to the Shire."

"You will send word before you return to Erebor?" Legolas asked, leaning against the railing next to her. He looked oversized and out of place, all angles and sharp edges in a place that was full of soft lines and roundness.

"Of course. I want a proper send off from you, weeping and all."

"I will be prostrate with grief at your departure." Legolas smirked, turning his shoulders towards the path that led past Bag End. "Especially knowing we will be neighbors when I return home, and you to Erebor. I fear you will come visit far too often."

Emelia snorted and shook her head, knowing he didn't mean a single word of what he said. Reaching out a hand, she touched his shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. "I'll send my raven and I expect you to write back. You too, Skipper."

They both pushed off the fence, looking even taller than they usually did next to Bilbo's small house. Strider grabbed his cloak, although he made no move to put it back on, and turned to Emelia. "I wish you nothing but happiness. I will look forward to your letters." He turned away from her then and walked down the dirt path, leaving just her and Legolas.

"You will write back, won't you?" Emelia asked, watching his expression carefully. It was ironic, really. For a man who seemed to eschew any and all similarities with dwarves, he certainly favored a certain stoniness.

"I will. It is odd, Emelia, but it seems I find myself in the uncomfortable predicament of having not one human friend, but two. I have heard that it is important to maintain contact to cultivate such friendships."

"Your dad will be so proud of your growth." With one final eyeroll as a parting gift, Legolas crossed the small space between them and bent down, placing a small kiss on her forehead before he stepped back and started down the small path to follow Strider. "By the way, I still think I'll be able to learn his name before you," She called, not raising her voice despite the distance now between them.

Legolas waved his hand over his shoulder before he disappeared around the bend.

She didn't even wait for him to be fully gone before she hoped off the fence.

Emelia rushed went back inside, tripping over her own feet as she stumbled at the sound of his laughter echoing through the normally quiet hobbit hole.

She had forgotten what it sounded like.

It was so freewheeling and open, pulling her through the house like a magnet.

Before she turned into the kitchen, she caught sight of herself in the hall mirror, horrified to learn that she had looked like a sweaty gremlin this whole time. Her hair was beyond help at the moment, short and unbrushed as it was, but she could, at the very least, smooth out her clothes enough to not look like she lived underneath a bridge the majority of the time. Pinching her cheeks to add a bit of color, she finished with an unenthused once over.

It was truly amazing, really, to suddenly and so completely care what she looked like again. There was a twinge of fear, however, one that felt foreign surrounded by her happiness and joy. Even after she tried to push it away, still, it nagged at her. She wanted to look beautiful for him, to steal his breath and make his chest ache just from seeing her. She wanted to make his heart race, and his palms sweat, and his knees weak.

She wanted him to want her.

She tipped her chin upwards and reached her hands up to her chest, a fiery streak of confidence shooting through her, and adjusted her boobs to look just ever so slightly bigger, mosquito bites though they may be.

Kili's back was to her in the kitchen, his head thrown back as he laughed raucously. She stepped up behind him and placed her hands on his shoulders, stomach fluttering when one of his hand reached up to clasp hers automatically. He pivoted in his seat, arm snaking around her hips and leg shifting so that she could squeeze down and sit on the small sliver of seat left available.

They melded, thighs pressed together and touching as much as humanly possible. Her hand dropped down to his leg, resting it there just above his knee and giving it a little squeeze.

"Interesting company you've been keeping, lassie," Dwalin said, taking a large swig of his beer.

"I've always been more likable than you lot. I thought we figured that out months ago." She smiled, reaching out to grab one of the freshly made rolls. They were coated in honey butter and sprinkled with coarse grain sugar. A Baggins specialty, so she had been told, passed down through generations and perfected by Bilbo. It was a staple for tea and she usually managed to hoover her way through four or five before Bilbo cut her off.

"We were just telling Bilbo about our journey," Fili said, taking a roll for himself. "We were delayed leaving by a massive storm over Erebor, or we would have arrived in May."

"You are here now," Bilbo said, popping up out of his seat to grab more sweets. The table was already overflowing, the food spanning from tea all the way until dinner, but he seemed determined to add more. She had figured out quite quickly that hobbits tended to show their affection and appreciation with food. He had plied her with all sorts when she first moved in with him, trying all different types until she discovered her distinctive sweet tooth. To see so much food, the clear care and gratitude, Bilbo felt at having them sitting around his table reminded her that she was not the only one in pain for the last eight months.

"What happened?" Emelia blurted, unable to stop herself. She told herself that it didn't matter, ultimately, that the process wasn't important so much as the end result, but she knew if she didn't find out, the question would hang over until she couldn't think about anything else. "How are you here?"

The three dwarves shared a look, seemingly daring each other to answer the question, before Dwalin sighed and set down his beer.

"After the orc stragglers were rounded up, we started search and rescue." He smoothed his mustache down with steady fingers. It would be a nervous tick on anyone else, but on him it seemed to be nothing more than habit. "We found Thorin first. There wasn't much hope, given what we came across, but he was still alive. It was you and Kili next."

Kili's hand dropped and found her knee under the table. She wrapped both her hands around his, squeezing it. "You had to tear me off him," Emelia said, remembering the feeling quite suddenly. "I didn't want them to take you away from me."

"You kept me alive, love."

She was also, incidentally, the reason he was bleeding out in the first place. And the reason for Fili's very large scar. She was the reason for a lot of things, perhaps some of them good. She had wanted nothing more, for months on end, to forget her own faults and shortcomings and guilt. None of it mattered anymore. All that mattered were the dwarves in front of her, alive and well and very much not dead.

It was an odd thing, to be so unburdened, but she welcomed the feeling wholeheartedly.

"You also told us where Fili was before you finally passed out." Dwalin took a large scone, downing it in one single, crumbly bite. "Oin did what he could, but…"

"But you could only wait and see," Emelia finished for him.

"Thorin lost his leg. Poison, from Azog's weapon."

"But he's alive," Emelia breathed, squeezing Kili's hand tighter. "He lived through the procedure."

"Thanks, in no small part, to you."

"What?"

"It was your distraction that drew enough orcs away to give Thorin an opening to kill Azog."

All four of them stared at her.

"It seemed like the smart decision at the time," She said, wishing more than anything that one of them would decide to blink, at least at some point.

"Some might argue otherwise," Fili said, giving her a small smile. "But, it does mean that you are cordially invited to attend his upcoming coronation as one of his guests of honor."

Emelia pursed her lips, biting the edge of the bottom one as she made a sound at the back of her throat. Of course, she was absolutely ecstatic to hear that Thorin was also alive and, apparently, well enough to be ruling as king. If someone had told her eight months ago that he made it through, she might have felt a touch of indifference. But then she had felt so much anger at him, a burning pit of rage in her stomach as a testament to his stubborn foolishness. Now all she felt was relief.

"So I take it I'm allowed back in the mountain again."

"Well, actually, no," Kili said.

"I'm sorry, what?. Do I have to sit outside in a folding chair while everyone parties inside?"

"No, but there are formalities that have to be observed."

"Right, written in stone. I guess you can't just take a chisel and call it a day. No, that would just be nutty." Emelia made sure the sarcasm was evident as possible.

"It is only a formality," Kili said, flipping his hand over so he could trace the bottom of her palm with one of his fingers.

"Formality or not, it sounds like it's going to be awkward."

"More than likely, yes," Kili agreed, the agreement in his voice drawing her gaze over to him. They held eye contact, each tracing their eyes over the other and forgetting that there were other people sitting with them in the small kitchen. His mouth quirked upwards, the tiniest of dimples indenting his cheek. His finger traced her palm again, feather light and careful. Dwalin cleared his throat.

"Can it, Dwalin," Emelia said. "We're having a moment."

"Do we have to be part of it?"

"If you keep complaining, I'm going to start snogging him in front of you."

"I have the distinct impression that will happen regardless of our complaints," Fili said, shooting her a wink.

"Bingo."

"Where were you returning from?" Dwalin asked, changing the subject with finality, looking between the two of them like he wanted nothing more than to be on the opposite side of Shire from them at the moment.

"Forochel."

"That frozen wasteland? What did you possibly need there?"

"A fish," She said, reaching out to grab something a bit more savory, realizing how hungry she was for the first time.

"A fish?"

"Yes, Dwalin, a fish." She grabbed a chicken leg, breaded and browned to perfection, and put it on her plate. She would give him no more explanation than that. Forochel was for her and her alone. "How was your journey?"

"Long," Fili said, leaning back in his chair and slumping slightly. She could see the exhaustion written all over him, from the way his eyes dropped slightly to the way he hardly touched his food. "We traveled through the night at someone's insistence."

"It was me." Kili leaned over and kissed her cheek, sending the butterflies that had found a home in her stomach flying all over her body. "I strongly insisted."

"You must be exhausted," Emelia said, noticing, for the first time, that they had all already finished eating. "We can catch up tomorrow."

"I will make down the spare room," Bilbo said, hopping up with the same sort of energy that probably carried him through laying out the table spread. He was gone before any of them could protest, rushing out of the room and turning left. After only a moment, a loud clattering reverberated through the house. The two of them hardly used the spare room, although there was plenty of space for the occasional overnight guest. It was filled to the brim with the books Bilbo had already read, the stacks stretching all the way to ceiling and balanced precariously on the old squishy fainting couches. Emelia, for her part, had taken a few good naps in that room before she found the feeling of an impending book mountain collapse too overwhelming.

"We should check on the ponies before turning in," Fili said, heaving himself into a stand. He rolled his shoulders, working out the kinks before he clapped Dwalin on the shoulder and pulled the older dwarf with him out of the kitchen, although both of them managed to swipe a pair of sweet rolls before they left, leaving Emelia and Kili alone.

"I want you to…"

"I shou…"

"You first," Emelia said, popping one leg up onto the bench as she turned to face him.

"I should get my pack."

"Oh, right, of course." She tried not to deflate in front of him, but she couldn't help the slight dip in her shoulders as he stood up to follow his brother and Dwalin. He swooped down and kissed her cheek again, lightning quick and fleeting, before he left the kitchen. It was disheartening, for a moment, until she realized it gave her the perfect opportunity to actually clean up a bit before he came back.

She practically knocked the kitchen bench over as she scrambled up and ran to her room.

She didn't have time for anything but changing her clothes and swiping a damp cloth over her body, but it would be better than continuing to smell like sweat and the dusty road through the Shire.

Her room was still in disarray from when she left, her bed unmade and her clothes disorganized. Feeling very much like a human tornado, she grabbed up everything in sight and wadded it up into a contained blob. She shoved it to the end of her bed and wedged it between the wall and the trunk full of blankets. She spread up the bed as best she could, wishing she had time for a more thorough cleaning before she caught herself and stopped. She was being silly.

As if he would care that her room was a little messy.

As if he would care about anything but the person in the room.

Still, she poked her head out of her window and checked to see if he was done yet. The ponies were tied to a section of fence across from his house, protected by a large oak and happily munching on a bushel of apples. Kili's back was to her, his pack already removed from the pony and sitting waiting at his feet. Both Dwalin and Fili were already walking back to Bag End, their own ponies unsaddled and brushed down.

She turned back to the room and peeled off her traveling clothes. She gathered up the dirty clothes and added them to the pile, forced to put her weight on it a little bit to hide it from view. She dressed in a flurry, first putting on her cotton dress backwards before she was able to right it. She smoothed it compulsively as she walked back to the window to check again.

"Looking for someone?"

She nearly leapt out of her skin.

Turning around with as much grace and dignity as possible, she smiled at Kili standing in her doorway.

She crossed the length of her room and took the pack from his shoulders with one hand, practically dragging him in with the other. Emelia closed her bedroom door with a soft thud, cocooning them in a private space. It was dark save for the slip of moonlight streaming in from her open window and warmer than the rest of the house by several degrees. Kili shuffled into the space, a nervous energy about him that both surprised her and comforted her. He kept his back to her as he moved further into the room, trailing his hand over the top of her bed before he made his way over to the window.

He was quieter than normal, subdued and introspective as he took in the space she had lived in alone for months.

His shoulders were tense and his back ramrod straight, but there was a softness to his expression when he turned around, backlit by the moon, that quelled her own nerves ever so slightly. Her hand let go of the doorknob and she moved further into the room, certain that, if she didn't manage to get it under control, he would start to feel her anxiousness before long. She dropped his pack by the foot of the bed, adding it to the mess.

"Bilbo made a place for me in the spare room. I came to say goodnight," He said, taking in all the odds and ends of her room for a moment before he looked back at her. "You're nervous." His voice was low, as if he didn't want to the others in the house to overhear them.

"I am. And I don't know why."

To giver herself something to do, she sat on her bed, practically sinking into the softness as she folded her hands across her lap. The bed dipped down under his weight when he sat next to her, thigh pressed up against hers. His hand slipped into hers, fingers intertwining and forcing the fists she had clenched to loosen.

"Will you just…" She struggled, words sticking in the throat before she could get them out. Swallowing thickly, she turned on the spot and looked at him, thankful that the darkness in the room hid much of her expression from him. All but a sliver of her face, illuminated by a blade of moonlight, was hidden from him. She shouldn't want that, shouldn't want to keep anything from him, but part of her worried what he would find if he looked at her for too long.

Saving her from her own insecurities, he laid back on the bad, feet still firmly anchored on the ground, and pulled her with him.

She turned on her side propped her head up on her hand. Lifting her other hand, she traced the line of his profile. His face was not something she was likely to forget anytime soon, but the particularities, the little things that made it unique, she wanted to remember those again. She wanted to know them better than she knew her own face. "I missed you so much, Kee."

Her finger stopped on his nose, holding in there for a moment, before she kept moving down his face.

"I'm nervous too." Kili finally admitted, turning his head to face her, the movement causing his chin to tuck into her wandering hand.

"Should we just make out and get it over with?" Emelia asked, pleased when she felt him smile against her palm. "Just to make it less awkward."

She about lost the ability to breathe when he pressed his lips against her open palm. She was reminded vividly of the first time he did that, all those many months ago, when they were dangling precariously in a tree and trying desperately not to get eaten by wolves. The effect was even greater now, practically turning her insides to hot mush.

"When I was healing, I thought of you and only you." His mouth moved upwards along her arm, finding her pulse point. "It was so vivid. It was as if you were there, holding me, telling me to keep fighting, that you would be waiting for me when I woke up."

The guilt stilled the very breath in her lungs, freezing her in place and ripping a hole in her heart.

"Kili, I'm so fucking sorry."

"I'm not upset." He kept his mouth pressed to her wrist, his words slightly muffled against her skin. "I was. I thought that whatever happened while I slept was too much for you to bear and that you left me, but then I realized that I was being selfish."

"Kee…" Her dress was sleeveless, perfect for the summer months, but now felt a touch provocative as he traveled further up her arm. That damp cloth was looking even more necessary than ever. He didn't seem to mind as his lips moved up past her shoulder and found her pulse point. "Kili wait." She hated herself for it, but she pushed him back and sat up on her elbows, breathless and deep into the beginnings of an excited brain fog.

"Emelia, I'm not upset, I promise. I'm just happy to have you in my arms again."

"But I left. You have every right to be mad at me."

"And I am here now." He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her against his chest. "It is pointless to pretend that we can get the time back. We are both here, now, and that is all that is important."

"I love you," She blurted it out, feeling like he needed to know that she still felt it.

She needed him to know that she had never stopped loving him, that she would never stop loving him.

Emelia leaned down, tentative at first, and pressed her lips against his for the first time in eight months. She had catalogued all their kisses in her mind, all the sloppiness and passion and desperation. She remembered them all, even the clumsy and bad ones, and treasured them. They paled in comparison. Each and every one of them now felt like something meant for a feeling more fleeting. But this was deeper. She sank into him, moving her hands up to his hair as his own slipped down to her waist to pull her over on top of him completely, her hips straddling his.

His stubble scraped against her skin and she couldn't help but giggle, pulling back ever so slightly to look at him.

"Your beard is longer," She said moving one hand down from his hair to run her fingers along his cheek.

"Finally. I've been growing this for seventy-seven years."

She kissed him again, involuntarily moving her hips to press closer to him as his fingers splayed across her. She forgot, for the briefest of moments, that they were not alone in the house, and she started for the leather straps of his jerkin. Her fingers shook as they untied the straps and pushed the material back, giving her more access to the light shirt underneath. It was pale blue and embroidered at the collar, far too nice for traveling and too complicated for her to easily slip her fingers beneath. She persisted until she found warmth and pressed her lips to his collar bone.

His hands moved upwards, pulling her dress up ever so slightly.

Kili stopped when he touched the skin of her hip. "Are you wearing bloomers?"

"No."

"We shouldn't."

"I know."

Still, she kissed him harder than before, mouth opened in a soft gasp when his hands traveled away from her hips to grip her unclothed backside. He sat up suddenly, causing her to gasp again, louder than before, at the new sensation. They absolutely should stop. If not for the sake of taking just a little bit of time to get to know each other again, then for the sake of the others in the house who might be unfortunate enough to hear them.

But she just couldn't.

Or wouldn't.

Emelia reached down to the small space left between them, fumbling for the rest of the leather straps to his jerkin before his hands finally let go of her and moved to stop her. "Em." He was almost pained as he spoke.

"I know, I know," She said, entirely unhappy with the idea. "You can stay here tonight. If you want."

He sighed and moved his hand up to cup her cheek. His fingers traced across her lips, holding her gaze with such heat it practically burned right through her. "I can't. Not tonight." The idea seemed to truly cause him pain. His fingers lingered, the rough side of his thumb, calloused from years of practice with a bow, catching on her lip. Her breathing faltered. Everything about her tingled, buzzing and vibrating with a desire that she didn't know she was capable of until that moment. "I love you, Emmy."

She tucked her head under his chin, wrapping her arms around his middle and just breathing him in for a moment.

It hit her that she would have endless moments with him, that she would never again have to worry about forgetting the smell of his skin, or the sound of his laugh, or the particulars of his smile.

He was here.

He was here.

He was here.

And that was all that mattered.


So. This was the first scene I ever cooked up in my head for this story seven years ago and it feels like it took me a lifetime to get here! I hope this satisfies the itch to see these crazy kids happy for now, but rest assured, there is still a little bit more to go before we have to say goodbye!

Thank you for the kind words on the last chapter. I stan Emelia almost as hard as I stan the Durins and I am so happy you guys love her as much as I do.