The next day was a sunny one. The sun had decided to bestow its grace for a little longer, warming up the earth before heavy and cold winter would descend. Dale was bustling, even early in the morning people were walking about, taking their time instead of their usual rush, because warm sunlight was precious.
Kíli was staring out of the window of Café Bree dreamingly. He’d much prefer to be outside right now. Apart from the fact that he wasn’t allowed to do that because it was his shift, he was also afraid that if he did, he’d miss her. He felt nervous for her coming back. Yesterday he didn’t know and he’d had no time to prepare himself seeing her. Not that he prepared himself today either. He had just felt like wearing a dress shirt today, she wasn’t the reason he had chosen the dark blue one that his mother said looked great with his eyes. And so what that he had clipped his hair back more neatly than usual or had trimmed his beard (stubble as Fíli would call it). It all had nothing to do with her. Why was his hand trembling and did he feel so disappointed every time someone walked in and it wasn’t her? This was pathetic! He didn’t like her. She was beautiful for sure and that didn’t leave him cold and he could flirt with her right? Flirting never hurt anyone. Love at first sight didn’t exist. Even Fíli hadn’t actually loved Arild when he met her, he just thought she was pretty and then they became friends. Kíli really wouldn’t mind being friends with Tauriel. That was it! She was his friend! He just dressed up a bit more for his friend, he’d done that before, and there was nothing wrong with that or even slightly romantic…
The door of the café opened and Tauriel came floating in. Her long red locks were tamed into a side fishtail braid that was draped over her shoulder. She wore a dress with a white lace top with quarter sleeves and a flowing dark green skirt that reached just above her knees. There was a golden belt highlighting her slim waist. Her bag hung on her shoulder, her leather jacket laying over it. The café umbrella she held in her other hand. She stood there by the door, smiling as sunlight streamed into the café. Kíli felt his mouth hanging open and quickly closed it before slapping himself mentally. Ok! Screw it! He liked her romantically. Tauriel 1, Kíli 0.
She placed the umbrella back in the rack before walking over to Kíli, who was now busying himself with her coffee. Reaching the counter she took a seat on one of the chairs there.
“Good morning!” She said happily and Kíli couldn’t resist smiling back.
“Good morning. Did you get to your class on time yesterday?”
“Yeah thank god. Many people ditched though.”
“I can’t blame them.” He laughed and she looked at him slyly.
“Were you one of those people who’d ditch everything possible?” She asked.
“Nope, I attended every class. I wasn’t allowed to ditch.” He said and laughed when she raised a questioning eyebrow. “My mother would have killed me if she ever found out. Actually my uncle too probably.”
“So you were too afraid?” She giggled.
“So would you if you knew my mother. She might be disadvantaged height wise, but she can still be very terrifying, believe me, I know.” He defended himself and she kept on laughing, clearly enjoying herself with this new information.
“Let me guess, you were a rascal when you were younger.”
“I still am.” He told her, raising an eyebrow suggestively and she smirked.
He finished her coffee. As he handed it to her, a ray of sunlight hit her face and that’s how he saw them. Perhaps two dozen light freckles highlighted the bridge of her nose and sprinkled her cheeks.
“You have freckles?” He heard himself blurt out in surprise. Why had he not seen them before? Tauriel looked at him slightly annoyed and raised an eyebrow daringly.
“Yeah. What of it?”
“No, nothing. I just hadn’t noticed before that’s all.” Kíli said, taken back by her aggressive reaction. “Why so angry?” Her expression softened at his words and she looked guilty.
“I am sorry. It’s just I’ve never liked them. Kids used to tease me because of them.” She admitted, avoiding his eyes. He reached out for her hand and her head shot up, their eyes locking. He smiled at her.
“Those kids were just jealous. They look very cute.” Tauriel smiled before looking at their hands and blushed.
“Thanks, I um… No one has ever complimented me on my freckles.” She laughed, as did he. He reluctantly let go of her hand and she drank her macchiato.
“Still as great as last time.” She told him and winked.
“Thanks! I make the best ones here, especially for beautiful freckled girls.” He said grinning and she burst out laughing. He loved the sound of her laughter.
“Aren’t you the charmer?”
“I try milady.” He winked. She smiled and looked at her watch. Hurried she threw on her jacket.
“Gotta run! But I am coming back later. I have to work on a project with my friend.” She told him. With her coffee in one hand and bag in the other, she had just turned around when she changed her mind. She twirled back to him and gave him a swift and soft kiss on the cheek. Kíli felt blood rushing to his face and looked shocked.
“Thanks Kíli.” She said with playful laughter in her voice. Then she turned around and within seconds she’d disappeared.
Rosie looked at her friend and smirked. He was completely red, his mouth hanging slightly ajar. He stood like a statue and there was a far away look in his eyes mixed with utter disbelieve. Slowly he moved his right hand to his cheek were Tauriel had kissed him. Then a huge grin started to appear on his face. His eyes twinkled with glee and he leapt into a small victory dance behind the counter. He froze when he saw Rosie standing a few feet away from him, arms crossed with a mischievous grin pasted on her lovely rosy face.
“I should really have filmed that.” She told him. Kíli coughed and straightened himself, composing his face into a mask of innocence that could have fooled anyone (except his mother) had they not just caught him celebrating. Rosie laughed. “Come on goofy, let’s get to work.”
A few hours later there was a tsunami wave of customers streaming into the café. Most classes at the university had ended and many here desired a coffee and snacks. Counting the amount of people in line was useless so Kíli focused himself on the cup in front of him. He and Rosie stood next to each and became an efficient machine. Rosie took the order, writing it on a cup and putting it in line with the waiting orders. One by one Kíli worked his way through them and praised god when the majority only wanted a regular coffee or cappuccino instead of a tall, double shot, non-fat soy milk latte. Why would you even order coffee if you wanted that? He would happily invite those peole to come make their own damn drink themselves.
Within the stream of people, Kíli saw Tauriel and her friend come in. Seeing the line they, quite wisely, decided to occupy a set of chairs and table, waiting until the line died down. He looked at her friend. She was a very beautiful lady, perhaps two years older than Tauriel. She had long black wavy hair that reached her hips. Her face, like Tauriel’s was delicately formed with high cheekbones and a slim nose. Her eyes brilliant blue eyes were large, framed by dark lashes. She wore a wide high-waist cream coloured skirt that reached her knees. Her crop sweater was a light grey colour, lined with gold thread that sparkled in the light. Though both were very beautiful and tall, they contrasted each other as well. The friend was cooler, seemingly more composed, whereas Tauriel gave off a warm vibe, full of life, fun, and recklessness. He grinned when he caught her green eyes and she gave him a small wave.
The girls got out their papers and started to work. Kíli didn’t mind as he now had an advantage point of being able to watch her. He smiled as she cutely started to nibble on the end of her pen in deep concentration. His hands kept moving along the counter until to his surprise there was no waiting cup for him and he needed a second to register that they’d finished. He looked at Rosie who smiled in relief and gave her a high five. He then turned his attention back to the two girls and walked over.
“Ladies, can I get you anything?” He asked and Tauriel looked up smiling.
“Hey. Kíli this is Arwen, Arwen Kíli, this is the guy your grandfather just loved.” Both Kíli and Arwen looked at each other curiously.
“Wow,” Kíli said looking slightly in awe and stuck out his hand. “It’s an honour to meet you. Your grandfather is fantastic.” Arwen shook his hand with a smile.
“Likewise, my grandfather doesn’t easily get impressed by people, so you must be great. Tauriel thinks you are anyway.” There was a soft thud sound from under the table and she suddenly squinted in pain. She gave Tauriel a glare but her friend looked at her innocently.
“At archery, you great at it.” Tauriel said smiling and Kíli smirked.
“Well it’s great to meet you Arwen.” He said amused. “Anything you want to drink?” He asked, looking Tauriel in the eyes.
“Hmmm a cappuccino would be nice, can you handle that?” She asked.
“Will I get another kiss for it?” Kíli replied boldly, his eyebrows raised suggestively. Tauriel heard Arwen gasped for breath and heard a squeaky ‘what?!’ But she was rather undaunted by his flirting. Resting her head in the palm of her hand she challenged him.
“Is your cappuccino as good as the macchiato?” She asked.
“Of course!” He proclaimed grinning.
“Arwen will judge too, you think you’ll convince her? She has excellent taste.” Kíli’s eye fell on the pretty raven-haired girl, who was currently looking between the two in shock. He smiled.
“Yeah, I will.”
“Then you might.” Tauriel said winking. He winked back and gave her his signature Durin smile before heading of to the counter.
Once he was a few feet away Tauriel turned to her friend who seemed to slowly regain her composure back. Arwen raised her eyebrow accusingly.
“Did I miss something? Since when are you handing out kisses… to him?” She asked, waving her hands at Kíli’s back adding some extra drama. Tauriel couldn’t help laughing at her friend.
“Since this morning actually.” She said calmly before turning to her with a mocking concerned face. “Don’t get too stressed out darling. It’ll only make you grey and wrinkled.” She said teasingly. Arwen didn’t find it very hilarious and gave her a murderous glare that could wipe out an entire army. After a few seconds she whispered.
“Did you really kiss him?”
“It was just a kiss on the cheek.”
“I thanked him for my coffee and…well…” Tauriel stopped and felt her ears turn red.
“Well what?” Arwen urged her. Tauriel didn’t look her in the eye.
“He complimented me on…on my freckles,” she said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “He said they were cute.” The blush had reached her face, her cheeks burning. Arwen looked at her friend. She had never seen her so fragile yet very happy. She had to admit she liked the guy. He was very charming and flirtatious but obviously also very kind. They probably had a similar temperament. And Thranduil would have a fit, which would make it so much more worth it. She leaned back in her chair, Tauriel’s green eyes following her.
“I like him.” Arwen told her, eyes twinkling. Tauriel blinked, not sure if she heard her friend correctly.
“You like him?”
“Yeah I like him, for you obviously.” She raised an eyebrow. “What, you didn’t think I would?” Tauriel looked at her guilty.
“I don’t know. He’s very different from the rest.” She said referencing all the other boys and men that had been presented to them. They were all gorgeous and smart men with tall and lanky frames and perfect manners. But even with all their obvious virtues and the fact that Tauriel could trust them indefinitely, they just weren’t her type. They were too perfect, too high and mighty. She wanted someone more down to earth, someone perhaps less perfect, but kind and caring, without any pretence. She wanted someone who understood her longing for adventure and travel and wanted to go with her.
“So?” Arwen shrugged her shoulders, ‘so is Aragorn. No one is complaining about him.”
“Not anymore no, but if I remember correctly, your father wasn’t too damn pleased when you told him.” Her friend waved her hand.
“That was ages ago. Ada is quite fine with it now. Actually Kíli reminds me of him, though he’sa lot shorter.” Tauriel had to agree. Both men were well built with a full head of long dark brown hair and a slight beard. If it weren’t for their different eyes and obvious height difference, they could have been related.
“How’s Aragorn?” She asked.
“He’s fine. He’s currently in Botswana helping with a malaria outbreak. Apparently it’s going well. He’s coming back next week.” Arwen said looking proudly. Aragorn was also a doctor, he graduated a few years ago and had signed up to work with Doctors Without Borders. He travelled often all around the world. Arwen worried about him but she knew that this was what made him happy and she supported him with it. He did have plans to settle down at one point and take over his family’s hospital Gondor though.
“That’s great, I haven’t seen him in a while.” Tauriel said. Arwen leaned over and whispered as Kíli came over with their coffee.
“We should go on a double date.” She winked and Tauriel felt a blush rise.
Kíli reached their table and set their cappuccino’s down.
“Here you go ladies. Enjoy!” He said smiled and they thanked him happily. He looked at their papers. “Hard project?” He asked and Tauriel nodded.
“Yeah kind off. Well it’s not too hard; we just have to elaborate a lot. It’s about the different cures to a lung infection and we have to conclude which method we think is the best, and the ways of prevention and such.” She looked at him and saw he was curiously reading their writing, genuinely interested. She smiled. He straightened and looked at them.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it, if you need anything just come over.” He winked and left.
They worked furiously for several hours, Kíli being a constant supplier of coffee who was very amused by them. Several times he and Tauriel would catch each other eyes before being brought back to reality by either Rosie or Arwen. But they couldn’t stop it from happening every so often.
The sky darkened and it was close to eight at night, when they were finally done and packed up their stuff. Kíli and Rosie were doing the same as Merry and Pippin came in for their shift. The girls paid for their drinks and Kíli walked with them outside while Rosie was picked up by her boyfriend Sam.
“I told mum we’d be at the crossing.” Arwen said having texted Celebrían. She stuck out her hand again to Kíli who shook it. “It was nice to meet you, and thanks for today. Tauriel, I’ll go stand there, come soon, mum can be here any minute.” She said and walked away to the place she’d pointed out to give the two some privacy. Tauriel looked slightly awkward which mirrored Kíli’s feelings.
“Well um… thanks again.” She said slowly twisting a ring on her fingers.
“No problem, you’re always welcome here.” He said looking at her. The lanterns outside highlighted her flaming hair. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” Her head shoot up and she stared into his beautiful dark eyes that shined so hopeful. She smiled.
“Yes, of course. I’ll be at the academy the whole day practically. There’s a garden downstairs, should we meet there? It’s not as hectic as the rest.”
“Sounds great!” he smiled broadly. Then his mind went to the package that arrived this morning. “My uniform arrived today.”
“Oh really? And? Does it fit alright?” She asked before blushing as he gave her a cheeky grin.
“Wanna find out?” He winked and laughed as she hit his arm. He then turned serious. “I am afraid it’ll look completely ridiculous.” Tauriel laughed.
“No it won’t, and otherwise we’ll all look ridiculous so it won’t matter.” And he smiled at her. They heard Arwen call for her.
“Well then bye.” She leaned forward and gave him his promised kiss on the cheek. “See you tomorrow.” She was about to walk away before Kíli grabbed her hand and turned her around. With wide eyes she looked at him as he bowed over her hand giving it a soft kiss. He straightened and looked her at her with twinkling eyes.
“See you tomorrow.” Heavily blushing she walked away, giving him a final wave before catching up with Arwen who was getting into her mother’s car.
With a stupid grin on his face Kíli walked home. He eyed his uniform he’d laid out on his bed. The silver material shone at him. He’d never thought he’d ever be glittering in some weird shirt, and it hurt his masculine feelings. Fíli was never allowed to see this or he’d never hear the end of it. But for Tauriel he wouldn’t mind wearing it.
The next day he got out his silver Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorbike. It was his pride and glory and he had saved his money up for almost two years to be able to buy it. He loved the feeling of wind rushing past him, the feeling of freedom as he drove through the country. His mother had been opposed to the idea of him getting it, thinking it dangerous and him reckless. But it was one of the few things his Uncle Thorin had talked her around, being quite amused by his nephew’s choice of transport. If Thorin was honest with himself, he’d always wanted to drive such a vehicle, but his own father Thrain had always prevented this. Thus when Kíli told him he was saving up for it, he had no problem supporting him.
Kíli packed his uniform in his duffle bag, threw on his leather jacket and helmet and drove off. The Academy lay in the further outskirts of Dale, on the border of the Lórien Forest. It was cooler that day with a soft but steady breeze. Clouds covered the sky, though at times the sun found an opening to shine some light. After a forty-five minute drive he finally reached his destination. He parked his bike and with his helmet under his arm he walked into the Academy.
He was still amazed by the beauty and elegance of the place. It breathed sophistication, but at the same time there was a feeling of nature, like something that was build high up in a tree but still had connections with its roots in the ground. Kíli had always preferred the ground and underground against something high up in the air. He wasn’t scared of flying, but he always felt extremely happy when he’d landed. Given the choice between climbing a mountain and exploring the caves, he’d definitely go for caves with all their shining glory.
He changed into his uniform and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t as bad here as it had looked at home, probably because he was supposed to blend in here. He gathered his wild hair into a ponytail to keep it out of the way as much as possible. Relatively satisfied he walked over to the garden Tauriel had talked about. To his surprise she was already there, her hair once again in its thick braid falling along her back. He took a moment to admire her as she stood looking out over the vast fields and stretches of forest. From the corner of her eye she sensed him walking towards her. He joined her standing against the low fence that indicated the end of the garden. The sun broke through the clouds lightening up their view. They stood side by side in a pleasant silence as they admired the view. After a few minutes Tauriel broke it.
“I always love coming here. It’s so calming. As a child I used to live on the borders of this forest and would play in the fields for hours on end. After my parents died Thranduil would insist on bringing me here every weekend so I wouldn’t feel homesick. He even drove Legolas and me here when his wife was sick. He changed a lot after she died, but I think this place became special to him as well. It’s where he can truly relax and forget all his worries. It reminds him of her.” She looked over at Kíli who was looking at her and smiled. “It’s why we started to shoot here, because of the view.” She made soft laughing sound. “It sounds rather weird saying that out loud.” Kíli shook his head.
“No… well a little, but it makes sense. Everyone has their own motivation of coming here.” She nodded in agreement.
“My father been teaching me how to shoot right after I could walk. Mum wasn’t too happy about it first. But I enjoyed it as a kid. When he died it was a way to let out my emotions. It felt like when I was shooting he was there with me, it still does at times.” He admitted and Tauriel smiled at him. They became lost in each other’s eyes, the earthly brown and leaf green mixing. Vaguely Kíli registered a bell ringing and stepped back.
“That’s me.” He said grinning sheepishly. “You’ll be here later?” She nodded.
“Yeah I will. Good luck!”
“Thanks.” He said and started to walk back inside. Tauriel called after him.
“Oh and Kíli?” He turned
“It suits you.” She said grinning about his uniform. Kíli flashed her a wide grin and winked before heading up to his class.
If Celeborn had feelings of favouritism towards Kíli, he didn’t let it show, but drilled his students for perfection. The targets were hard and Kíli lost count on how many arrows he had shot, his fingers started to hurt. He used the same bow as Celeborn had presented to him last time and so far the Blue Mountain had done its job perfectly. There were different arrows that they had to shoot with, which al required different measurements and stances in order for it to hit their target correctly. Sometimes they had to used multiple arrows at once, either of the same type or all completely different. Celeborn also taught them different styles of shooting, which they practiced outside in the forest. Instead of drawing each individual arrow from the quiver, he told them to hold three in their bow hand and use them from there. It was a lot quicker and efficient. In order to reach intermediate level they had to perfect this skill and also be able to shoot when holding the arrows in their drawing hand. Kíli found it all incredibly difficult but also exhilaratingly fun. The two hours flew past and soon enough he found himself walking back to the gardens after a quick shower.
With a huge smile he walked on to the patio but it quickly disappeared and a stone dropped in his stomach. Tauriel had not moved from her spot but now next to her stood a blond man, his arm draped over her shoulders. His light golden hair was long, reaching his shoulder blades. He was tall with broad muscular shoulders yet still retained the slender form that was overly present here. The jealously beast in his chest awoke and started to grumble. Kíli made a coughing noise to get their attention. They turned simultaneously and he saw the man’s face. It was pale with high cheekbones and a chiselled jawline. His long straight nose was fitted perfectly in the middle of his face. He had thin lips and his dark eyebrows stood in contrast with his light hair. His light blue eyes looked Kíli up and down with a questioning gaze. The two men made eye contact and entered a stare contest that was quickly broken my Tauriel.
“Oh you’re back! How did it go?” she placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and he looked at her. “Legolas this is Kíli, Kíli this is Legolas Greenwood.” She told them. Kíli looked at Legolas again and could now see the similarities the heir of Greenwood shared with his father. Legolas looked at him ever more sceptical.
“Kíli? Kíli Durin?” He asked and Kíli stepped into a defensive stance, crossing his arms.
“What of it?” he challenged and he saw a panicked look arise on Tauriel’s face, mixed with annoyance. Damn it, what was wrong with him, he didn’t want her to get upset with him. The Greenwood heir surprised him though by extending a hand. He took it. They shook hands albeit both decided to squeeze just a bit harder than usual.
“Pleasure to meet you.” Legolas said, his voice lacking enthusiasm.
“Likewise.” Kíli replied with equalling his tone.
A silence arose, this one rather unpleasant.
“How was practice?” Tauriel asked him, her eyes begging him to reply normally.
“It went fine.” Kíli answered trying to pretend the blond wasn’t there. “It was difficult and I think my fingers have blisters but it went great. It was good fun. Celeborn is a great teacher.” And Tauriel smiled at him. The bell rang again, this time signalling her turn. Legolas said a good bye to Kíli before walking back inside obviously expecting Tauriel to follow him. She gave Kíli an awkward smile.
“I am sorry about him, he’s usually not this tense at all. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.” She said looking at the door. Kíli shrugged his shoulders.
“Maybe he’s just having a bad day.” He offered but he knew well enough what was wrong with this guy, Legolas felt incredibly threatened. It surprised him because as Tauriel described them, they seemed to have grown up like brother and sister, but apparently Leggy hadn’t gotten the memo. Then again Kíli was surprised by his own reaction. He barely knew her and even less of this guy. Why did he feel so jealous and uncomfortable? He sighed, feeling exhausted and wanting nothing more than to go home.
“I am heading off, and so should you, or does Celeborn allow you to come in late?” Tauriel smiled.
“No I should get going too.” Her eyebrows furrowed together. “You don’t need a ride home?” She offered and Kíli grinned, waving her offer away.
“Nah it’s fine, I’ve got my bike.” She eyes widened in disbelieve.
“You have a motorbike?”
“Yep, I’ll have you know she’s a beauty.” He said teasingly and she looked in awe.
“I’ve always wanted to drive one of those.”
“Well if you want, I can give you a ride some time.” He said winking and she laughed.
“I’d like that.” She winked back and then kissed his cheek good bye.
“Good luck today.” He told her and she thanked him, waving before walking to her class.
As he drove back home his cheek as still burning with her lips. He definitely didn’t mind this type of good-bye but he also couldn’t wait to return the gesture to her, but properly next time, on her lovely lips. And he really wouldn’t mind kissing those adorable freckles on her face either.