Fandom: the Hobbit/LotR
Pairings: Kíli/Tauriel, past Thranduil/his wife
Warnings: Grief, angst, pining, suicidal thoughts
Word Count: 2281
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit, there would be even more angst
Summary: Tauriel should have died with Kíli but she waits instead.
When Legolas tells Tauriel about his mother, she doesn't understand. She thinks it means that Thranduil is heartless, as cold and unfeeling as the icy winter wind. She thinks her king's silence means that he does not mourn his lady for surely Thranduil would wish Legolas to know his mother otherwise. He must be a monster and indeed, only a monster would leave his allies on the field to die.
Thus Tauriel defies her king with righteous fury because she does not understand. She does not understand until she lies on the cold stone of Raven Hill and watches Bolg kill Kíli right before her eyes. The dwarf prince dies and her world shatters with his final breath.
She loves him. She loves him even though she could not admit the truth when he spoke of his own feelings and now she will never have the chance.
Tauriel will never see Kíli smile up at her again. She will never hear his laughter or the tales he had to tell and it is not her injuries that make her gasp in agony. Her wrist may be broken but that is nothing compared to the gaping emptiness where she thought that love might be.
So she does her best to kill Bolg, given strength by pain and fury, and she does not care if she survives the battle now that Kíli's gone. But when the dust has finally settled, Tauriel is still standing. She survives when so many more do not.
It does not seem right. It does not seem fair that she should continue living even though her heart is gone.
Indeed, she would give anything – life itself and gladly – to trade her fate with Kíli's now. But the Valar do not listen to her prayers as Tauriel limps back to her beloved. They do not grant her wish no matter how she begs them to take her pain away. So the elf can only wrap her arms around Kíli and grieve for all that might have been.
This is where Thranduil finds her, though Tauriel hardly notices his presence. Her gaze is locked on Kíli's face. The dwarf was always so expressive, so full of life, and she cannot bear to see him lying still. She cannot bear it and yet she cannot look away.
“They want to bury him,” she murmurs, the thought of Kíli alone in cold stone darkness making her heart clench painfully. That is not where her dwarf belongs. He belongs in woods and sunlight by her side. But that cannot be and indeed, when her king speaks, his voice is gentler than it has ever been before.
“Yes, it is their way,” Thranduil says. He offers no alternatives, only understanding, and as much as Tauriel hates it, she knows that he is right.
Taking Kíli's body would change nothing. Giving him to the stars instead of stone would not bring him back to life. Indeed, she could build a thousand monuments, write such laments as to make the Valar weep, and they would be only a tiny drop in the ocean of her grief.
“If this is love, I do not want it. Take it from me, please,” Tauriel begs, not entirely sure what she is asking for. She does not wish to forget Kíli, not really; she does not wish to forget his crooked smile or the laughter in his eyes. Yet the elf would take ignorance and gladly to stop this agony. “Why does it hurt so much?”
“Because it was real,” Thranduil tells her, a wealth of sorrow in his words. He speaks with the voice of long experience and now Tauriel finally understands.
Love is pain. Love is grief and endless sorrow, a few brief moments in the sunlight before the world goes dark again. And the most beloved memories leave the sharpest wounds behind.
So Tauriel leans down to kiss Kíli, the first and last that they will ever share. She kisses him and then she says farewell. She cannot keep his body; she gives this into the hands of his companions while Thranduil stands strong and silent at her side. But she does not need to keep her dwarf prince, not when she will always have him in her heart.
She will always carry Kíli's memory whether she wishes to or not and she is much more like Thranduil than she thought. Her king is not unfeeling; he simply feels too much and Tauriel can hardly blame him for his masks now that she knows the damage love has done. Indeed, Thranduil loves his people deeply and every elf lost in the Battle of the Five Armies weighs on him heavily. Yet no loss pains him as greatly as the gaping wound of Angmar, the wound that will not heal.
Tauriel does not know how Thranduil stands it when her own grief threatens to consume her utterly. There are days she cannot breathe for sorrow and she prays for death instead. There are days when she knows that she should have died with Kíli; it's not as though she's living now.
Indeed, the future stretches out before her in an endless sea of grey, no beacon there to bring her safe to other shores. Instead she feels each day as though it were a century, each hour spent without her dwarf might as well be a decade, and immortality seems crueler every time she wakes. But when fading begins to seem the only answer, her king is there to stop her and convince her otherwise.
“Dying will not ease your heartbreak,” Thranduil tells his captain sternly, though his hands are gentle on her face. “You will not find your dwarf amongst the Valar for mortals have no welcome there. Aulë's children were born from stone instead of starlight and they are naught but dust again once they have died. If you fade, you will be alone amongst our brethren. You will be alone while our kin dance with joy around you, your pain all the sharper for the brilliance of their light. You will not find peace in Valinor; you must find something on this earth to hold the pain at bay instead.”
His words cut deeply, shattering Tauriel’s last chance of solace with his calm certainty. If the elf must find peace on Middle Earth than her cause is hopeless for she cannot imagine anything that would make her heartache bearable and even contentment seems far beyond her grasp.
However, where love calls her into darkness, duty holds her still. She was a captain of Mirkwood before she was Kíli's and now that Thranduil has forgiven her defiance, she cannot break his trust again. If her king can live with sorrow, surely she can do the same.
Indeed, the elf admires Thranduil far more now that she understands his silence. She admires the strength that it takes to rule his people when every hall must be filled with shards of memory and she hopes that Legolas will someday realize how much his father loves him. For the greatest love that Thranduil could have shown his son was remaining here in Mirkwood when he might have found his queen in Valinor if she chose to be reborn.
For her own part, Tauriel endures without hope of love or happiness. She has no children to ease her loss, no reason to believe that her grief will end within the Halls of Mandos, and speaking of Kíli with his kindred is more than she can bear.
Instead the elf disappears into the forest whenever the dwarves of Erebor arrive to treat with Mirkwood. She does not wish to face the sympathy of those who know her sorrow and every dark-haired warrior makes her heart skip painfully.
Kíli, she thinks and then it isn’t, that brief second of confusion rubbing salt into her wound. Tauriel does not think that injury will ever cease its bleeding and she does not need to add new sorrow to the ghosts of memory. So for two decades she avoids the Lonely Mountain and its people as though those halls were plague-ridden and she would have gladly avoided them for another thousand years if possible.
But Tauriel had not counted on the stubbornness of Kíli's brethren and twenty-three years after her dwarf was slaughtered, she does not leave in time. Tauriel nearly makes it; the elf is almost to the western entrance when a quiet voice takes her by surprise.
“My lady, may we speak?”
It’s a dwarf; one of Thorin’s companions though she does not recall his name. However, Tauriel remembers that ridiculous hat quite clearly; this dwarf had allowed her to save Kíli's life. He had granted her a few more days with her beloved and she does not know whether to be grateful or to hate him for the pain he caused. All Tauriel does know is that talking to this dwarf is the last thing she wants to do right now.
But he’s standing in her way and he does not look inclined to move without an answer so she grudgingly replies, “Speak about what?”
“I think you know. My kin and I have worried for you and Kíli would want us to ensure that you’re all right.”
The statement is so ludicrous that Tauriel stands frozen for an instant and then twenty-three years of helpless anger burst from her control.
“How could I be all right?!” she hisses, every word a dagger in her throat. “Kíli is dead. He is dead and I cannot even hope of seeing him in Valinor when your kin are born from stone instead. He left me alone and sometimes I hate him as much as I ever loved him for that abandonment. My life will be empty forever because I was foolish enough to fall in love with a mortal instead of my own kind. He is nothing but dust and I am left behind.”
Then Tauriel collapses to the floor, weeping bitterly. She means every word and yet even now, she cannot imagine loving anyone but Kíli; the elf does not know how.
“Oh, my lady, I am sorry,” the dwarf murmurs, laying a gentle hand upon her shoulder. Like this their heights are nearly matched and when she looks up, his eyes are kind. “But you should not so despair. The Valar are not cruel without reason and you may yet see Kíli one more time.”
“What do you mean? There are no dwarves in Valinor.”
“Well, no. We are built for far more sturdy places than your airy elvish halls. But that does not mean that there is only darkness when we die,” the dwarf says and Tauriel finds herself listening intently to his words. “This is a secret of our people, but I think that you have earned the right to know it. Kíli would have told you himself if he were here. When dwarves die well, as Kíli did, we do not disappear. We are granted a place in the halls of our Father with the best and brightest of our kin. I do not know if you can reach this place from Valinor, though I am sure Yavanna would look upon you kindly, but Aulë's children will leave those halls someday. We are to rebuild Middle Earth after Dagor Dagorath brings all living souls to ruin and I believe that you will be able to find Kíli then. We will all be reunited with our loved ones in the last days of the world.
“So please do not despair. Live with as much joy as you can and know that Kíli would wish you to be happy until you meet again.”
“I will try,” Tauriel whispers. She does not know if she believes this dwarf but she knows that she wants to and the thought of finding her beloved in some far off future makes the present seem far more tolerable.
“Good. We can’t ask any more than that. So will you join us for dinner tonight? Thranduil always throws a splendid feast in welcome and if we hurry, we may be able to fill our plates before Bombur eats everything.”
Although the offer is surprisingly tempting, Tauriel still shakes her head. “Not today, I think. I must consider what you said. But perhaps when next you visit I may feel differently.”
“All right. My mother taught me better than to push where it’s not wanted, but I will hope to see you then. Please remember that you are always welcome amongst our company, whether here or in Erebor if you can ever face those halls again.”
“That does not seem likely. But I will remember and I thank you for your words.”
With that, Tauriel takes her leave, though her journey through the forest is not the desperate flight that is has been in years before. Instead she walks slowly, her mind in turmoil as she thinks on the afterlife. While the dwarf could be mistaken, Tauriel does not believe it. She will not believe it when her grief has a chance of ending on some distant day.
So the elf climbs high into the treetops and looks upon the starlight and she feels almost content for the first time since Kíli died. She will not fade; she knows this now. There is no guarantee that Aulë would grant her entrance to his halls from Valinor and she could not put such guilt on Kíli's shoulders if he is watching her. The elf can bear the pain for Kíli; for Kíli she can wait. Tauriel will gladly wait ten thousand years or more to see her dwarf again.