A lone figure watching from her window was turning green, eager to ensure the upcoming relationship would turn sour quickly and jealous that someone else had gotten to her dwarf first. That simply would not do. Esmerelda had noticed the dwarf and Sigrid go to the edge of the city together and suspected they were falling in love. She had to figure out a way to stop them! The other dwarf already had an elf and she did not want to tangle with him, so this blonde one was her only hope. She hated to admit it, but Sigrid was a lovely maiden; no wonder a dwarf would fall for her. Yet surely she could have had her pick of any other unattached male in the world! So she would have to break them up and turn this dwarf towards herself, proving that Esmerelda was the woman of his dreams, not Sigrid.
Not long afterwards, the schoolteacher noticed the two dwarves and elf leaving Bard’s house. “Now is my chance!” she thought. “I shall go and talk to the dwarf and see if I can sway his affections towards me. I just hope the other dwarf and elf aren’t suspicious!”
The schoolmarm made her way outside. “Good day!” she greeted the trio. “I am Esmerelda, the schoolteacher here in Dale. I just wanted to thank you all for your bravery in defeating that evil dragon! You helped save my people, even if Esgaroth is a total waste and here in Dale there are still lots of needed repairs.”
“You are welcome!” Tauriel replied for the three. “I am Tauriel, and this is my fiancé Kili and his brother Fili. We are planning to help King Dain with Erebor after Kili and I are wed and visit his mother. I wish we could help you here as well!”
“That is quite understandable! Your place is with your own people!” she smiled cunningly. “Would you all like to come in and have some tea?”
“No thank you!” Tauriel answered again. “We have just finished tea with Bard and really must leave soon. Thank you for the offer! Perhaps the next time we are through town we shall stop in.” With that, she effectively finished the conversation and they went on their way.
“Tauriel!” Kili exclaimed as soon as they were out of ear shot. “Why did you take over like that?”
She snuggled against his side. “I really have no idea! I feel something strange is going on with that woman, but what I do not know. I felt an instant dislike for her, something I have with few people. I think we should watch out for her, not that we will be here long. But perhaps it is nothing; maybe my nerves about marriage are making me think I see things that are not there!”
Kili nuzzled her nose. “I certainly hope so, my love! Now I suppose we should prepare for our trip; we have a long journey ahead of us and I, for one, would like to see Mother again sooner rather than later.”
“Amen,” Fili heartily agreed. Thus the threesome gathered their things to head first for Mirkwood, then the long trek to the Blue Mountains, or Ered Luin.
At dawn the next morning, the two dwarves and lone elf met at Bard’s house to get Sigrid. She answered their knock bags in hand, looking both sad and excited at the same time, a strange mixture of emotions. Tauriel pulled her into a hug, knowing she needed the female comfort and companionship. “You do not have to join us if you do not want to. The decision is entirely up to you.”
“I know. As much as I hate to leave my family, my curiosity about the world outside of Dale and Esgaroth has won! Just let me say goodbye to my family one last time, and I shall be ready.” She probably took a few more minutes than necessary, but the rest of her companions understood her dilemma and refrained from mentioning it. Thus was the beginning of their journey.
Several hours later, the quartet found themselves on their way to Mirkwood. Tauriel was glad of some female companionship, even if she did not really need it as much as other women do. They had the best time discussing the wedding plans. It would be a simple affair, barely more than an elopement.
Fili and Kili also got in some male bonding. They had missed their carefree lives and were glad to have things closer to normal. They had matured through their long and tedious journey and were not the boys they used to be.
A couple of days later, they arrived in Mirkwood. As they approached the bridge and gates to the castle, Tauriel realized something. She grabbed Kili’s arm, “Meleth, I think I might still be banished from Mirkwood palace! What should we do?”
The dwarf smiled at her, “I suggest we request to be let in and see how it goes from there!”
The guards, who had known of their approach for some time, opened the gates and the quartet was escorted in with no problem.
The Elvenking himself greeted them. “Tauriel, Kili, Fili! Welcome back! And who is this with you?”
Tauriel pushed a shy Sigrid forward. “This is Sigrid, Bard’s eldest daughter. We believed her to be in danger and brought her so we can give her the protection she needs. And she and Fili are now officially courting!”
“Congratulations! You are a lovely young lady and I am sure just what young Fili needs. You are welcome in my courts as long as you wish; your father has been quite kind to my people.”
“King Thranduil, I need to speak with you privately for a moment. Kili, excuse us please? I will call for you soon! Um, am I still banished?” Tauriel inquired, wanting his blessing on their marriage.
“Of course you may speak with me! And no, I shall lift your banishment for now, as long as you refrain from threatening me again,” he winked, knowing she had learned her lesson. She smiled, grateful that the handsome ruler of Mirkwood had finally lightened up a bit and had mercy on her.
The Elvenking and his guard walked away into the throne room.
“Now, of what do you wish to speak?” Thranduil inquired.
“Kili and I desire to be wed, and I would like your blessing.”
“You have it! Tauriel, thank you for your faithful service to me. Once you are widowed, if you desire your job back you shall have it. Besides, I think having you away for a time will be good for Legolas. He still believes he has feelings for you, of which you know I do not approve. However, in a few centuries I may reconsider. Legolas needs to mature before he takes a wife, and I suppose if he were to choose any maiden it might as well be you. You are a brave warrior and would do well at his side. Not to mention you have almost always been loyal to me, even if you have challenged my authority from time to time.” Here he tried to glare at her but ended up smiling, fondly recalling her younger and more rebellious days, even up until the point where she threatened to kill him after he had been forced to banish her for a time. “So I wish my highest blessings on you and Kili. If you need anything at all, let me know and I shall provide it.”
“Thank you! I do agree that this will be good for Legolas. I know he shall be extremely upset with me, but in time he will get over it. As much as I like your son, you know I have never loved him quite in the way he wishes. Now could Kili come in? I want to have the wedding here and we both need to be present.”
“By all means send him in!” Thranduil felt quite charitable today. Although he hated to lose such a fine soldier, he knew she posed as a downfall for his dear son at this time and was more than happy to allow her to leave for a while. The threesome talked about the marriage ceremony and all was settled in record time. Upon their exit of the throne room, Legolas met them (he had recently returned home to gather supplies for a journey to meet with the Dúnedain; Thranduil thought it would do him good to get out of Mirkwood for an indefinite amount of time).
“Tauriel! How good to see you again!” he smiled and embraced her, then shot Kili a killer glare behind her back, unbeknownst to her. The Ruler of Mirkwood watched the interaction in the background, wondering exactly how his son would react and almost dreading it, even though he knew it was for the best.
“Thank you, Legolas! I have wonderful news! Kili and I are getting married!” the excitement in her tone lit up her whole face, but the Elvenprince did not agree with her reaction.
“What!?” Legolas’ anger was now obvious. “Tauriel, I demand to see you at once, alone.”
“Kili, Meleth, will you excuse us please?” her exasperation obvious, she looked at her fiancé apologetically.
Kili sighed, knowing his true love would remain loyal to him despite his misgivings about the other elf. “Only if you promise not to touch that elf! She is mine, and you cannot have her! Unless, of course, she changes her mind about me.”
Tauriel had a hard time suppressing a laugh, as did the Elvenking as he faded into the background. She loved how protective he was! “I promise!” She gave him a tender kiss and went off with her friend.
“Tauriel, how could you do this to me?” Legolas barely waited until they were out of earshot for this outburst. “You know I love you and plan to marry you, despite what my Ada says.”
“Legolas, Kili and I love each other. Our love is strong and true. I do not feel this kind of love towards you, and I daresay you only think you feel it for me. If you truly loved me, you would be willing to let me be with my true love. Real, pure love is not possessive but rather seeks the good of the other, not itself. On top of this, you still need to mature. You are not yet ready for marriage.”
“But Tauriel, I do love you that way! Then that dwarf came in and spoiled everything!”
“That statement proves my point even more. I would rather spend a few centuries with him than a lifetime regretting losing him. Kili will not live forever. Perhaps after I have been a widow for a few centuries you will have your chance again. However, now is Kili’s time. Legolas, you have been a dear friend to me and I wish you the best. Please, I wish to part as friends. You have stood faithfully by my side against so many foes! I will always consider you my friend.”
Legolas let out a rather uncouth snort. He marched back into the room where Kili awaited. Standing practically nose to nose, the angry elf confronted the dwarf, again much to Tauriel’s amusement. “Kili, son of Dís, I hereby challenge you to a duel over this lovely maiden’s hand in marriage. You may choose the weapons and place.”
Unable to resist, Kili took the challenge. “I accept! We shall use broad blade swords in the great hall.”
Legolas gathered the weapons from the armoury and chose his father for his second, and the dwarf asked his brother to stand by his side.
The Elvenking, a bit embarrassed at his son’s immaturity yet willing to allow him to undertake this foolhardy skirmish, regally began the fight after appearing from somewhere in the background. “On the count of three, you may begin. One, two, three!”
Metal clashed against metal, the sound ringing in the onlookers’ ears as they watched the dwarf and elf circle each other and cross swords. They dodged and lashed out, each effectively evading the other’s moves. However, all was lost for Legolas when he glanced away to flash a smile at Tauriel. Kili used that moment to come upon him and with one stroke of his blade, he knocked the sword from his opponent’s hand.
Legolas gasped. “You won?” He could hardly believe his bad luck.
Tauriel chose to ignore the immature reaction and rushed to her fiancé. “Kili, Meleth, I am so proud of you! Now you can marry me with a clear conscience!” She winked brazenly at him and then kissed him soundly. Then Legolas approached, utterly defeated and quite dismal.
“Tauriel, you are right, as usual. We have been through much together. I shall remain your friend, but do not expect me to ever like that dwarf of yours. However, I must respect your decision to take him over me and know I cannot change your mind.” He tenderly hugged her for the last time, then, heartbroken, returned to his chambers to think about the events. He needed some solitary time, with only his elf-cat, Remmirath, as a comforting companion, in order to process the sad turn of fate. The feline would serve as both a stoic constant and a reliever of the anger he held deep within himself. Perhaps finding the Rangers would do him good; he would be in different surroundings with new people, and he hoped nothing would remind him of his home and the sadness it bore within its stone walls.
Tauriel parted and returned to her fiancé, greatly distressed that Legolas was so upset but not knowing anything else she could do to help him. She needed to forget him for a time a focus on her dwarf.