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Chapter I: Epilogue
Chapter II: Prologue - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Chapter III: Preface - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3A


It is not Tauriel; it is Mahal's Lady looking down at him.

“Peace, child. You will not die here for your task is not complete. My brethren have found the fulcrum upon which our destruction centered; Bilbo Baggins loved you and thus the future died.”

“But he doesn't love me,” Kíli protests, wincing at the sting of truth and the pity in Kaminzabdûna's eyes.

“You are correct. The hobbit does not love you now, but in that life he did. He loved you enough to die for you and in so doing doomed us all. So now you must ensure that Bilbo Baggins makes no such sacrifice again. If all else falters during the coming trials, my child must survive for our future can only be assured when he returns to Hobbiton. He must survive and in so doing, you might save your kin as well.”

“Then we should be fine because Bilbo is in love with Thorin and he'll probably run all the way to Mirkwood if uncle threatens him again,” the archer says, unable to help a touch of bitterness. Apparently his love destroyed the world and Kíli will never be able to think of his hobbit's final moments without remembering this fact.

Kaminzabdûna has tainted the once-king's memory of Bilbo when memory is all the once-king has ever had. She has taken the only solace that his battered heart was granted and it's all Kíli can do not to curse the Vala's name.

Perhaps he would have risked it if darkness had not begun to pull him under, Kaminzabdûna pressing a gentle kiss to Kíli's forehead as her healing finishes.

“I am sorry, child, for the pain that we have caused you, but it was necessary. The final war is coming, the war we lost is coming and the fate of Middle Earth is always worth the cost. Save my hobbit, Kíli. Save my hobbit and you will save us all.”

The Vala's voice is faint now, barely more than a whisper on the edge of the once-king's hearing even as her final words seem to burn inside his mind. “Do not lose heart, my child, not so close to victory; for you may have lost your hobbit's heart within this weaving, but the soul does not forget. The soul knows many loves from many lifetimes and you need not fear the fall.”



Kíli opened his eyes to see Tauriel staring down at him again, her skin no longer blazing like a fire in the night. Yet even without the glow, the once-king knew that he must be hallucinating because such beauty could not be real. Not here.

“You cannot be her,” the once-king whispered. “She is far away. She is far, far away from me and she walks in starlight in another world. It was just a dream.”

The elfine should not be here; she should be dancing through the boughs of Mirkwood, her feet as light as raindrops and her arrows sharp as fangs. Tauriel should not be here; she should be somewhere safer before the battle came.

But then the dwarf reached out a hand and he felt her, the elfine as solid as the wood beneath his back. Tauriel was here though it should be impossible and the once-king found himself fighting off the urge to weep. Indeed, Kíli wanted to damn himself for a fool because this was the person that the archer should have loved.

He should have loved Tauriel instead of pining after Bilbo since she, at least, might have loved him in return. Maybe she could have healed the heart that had been so long broken if he had not imagined the spark of interest in her eyes.

“Do you think she could have loved me?” Kíli murmured, speaking as much to Kaminzabdûna as to Tauriel herself. Indeed, the dwarf did not expect an answer when such a lovely dream was little more than a seed pod on the wind – fragile, delicate, and so unlikely to plant in fertile ground. Yet the once-king could not bring himself to let go either, not when the shadows were waiting for him and Tauriel's light might keep the dark at bay.

However, even the elfine could not hold back the dwarf's bone-deep exhaustion and Kíli was still gripping her hand tightly when sleep dragged him down again.


Chapter IV: Preamble - Part 1