The summer day was perfect. Dis had suggested, or rather insisted that today be a holiday. They packed up enough food to feed an army of dwarves and rode their horses to a clearing at the base of the mountain. It was as close to a meadow as the mountain provided. Fili invited Sigrid to join them, so she came to them from Dale and Kili had invited Tauriel. Thorin had grumbled a great deal, saying he had too much to do to go on a picnic, but that morning as they rode out, he was just as excited as the rest of them.
They spread out large blankets, some in the open sun, some under the shade of the lone tree in the middle of the clearing. Milly, who had recently turned one, crawled all over the place. All of her favorite people were there. She would crawl about from person to person to play with them and be cuddled by them. Even Thorin would give a great, jolly laugh when Milly would sit with him.
Sigrid was in love with the tiny child, with her sky blue eyes, thick blond hair and a smile as wide as Kili's. Her hair was long enough now that Dis could put in some amazing braids. Sigrid wondered how she managed to keep Milly still long enough. When she had been younger and caring for her baby sister, Tilda, it was all Sigrid could do to even brush Tilda's hair, much less braid it.
Fili and Kili spent a long while sparing with each other. Sometimes with weapons and sometimes it was just all out wrestling. They convinced Thorin to join them and the three of them took on each other. No one could best the others and finally a draw was called. They all returned to the blankets, sweaty, exhausted and laughing. Dis and Thorin sat together on one blanket, in the sun. Thorin stretched out on his back and pulled his tunic over his eyes, blocking out the sun. It wasn't long before his snores could be heard. Dis had an embroidery she was working on. Sigrid could hear Dis humming to herself while she worked.
Kili and Tauriel dragged another blanket a ways off. They laid side by side, on their stomachs and propped up on their elbows. Sigrid couldn't hear them, but once in a while she would see them lean their heads together. She suspected there was some kissing going on and it made her smile. Sigrid was on the blanket under the tree, sitting next to a sleeping Milly. Fili plopped down next to his daughter and gave a great, happy sigh.
"You aright?" Sigrid asked.
"Oh aye. It's been a long time since all three of us went at each other like that. I remember the first time Kili and I beat Uncle. Of course, we were working together as a team and when it comes to Thorin, that is the only way I can best him, with Kili at my side. Whew!" He laid back onto the blanket and closed his eyes. Sigrid looked at the father and daughter sprawled out on the blanket. The sight of the pair of them made her chuckle.
"And what are you laughing about, my pretty lass?" Fili asked, sitting up.
"Oh nothing. Just looking at the two of you, napping on the blanket."
"I wasn't napping," Fili said with a frown. "Is my water pouch over there?"
It was and Sigrid held it out to him. When he took it, their hands touched and Sigrid felt a tingle in her hands. If Fili noticed their hands had touched, he made no indication and he eagerly drank his water before pouring a little of it onto his head. Sigrid laughed as the water dripped down his hair and beard. He grinned at her.
"You having fun?" he asked.
"Oh yes," Sigrid said. "This is a perfectly wonderful day."
Fili smiled and stretched out on the blanket again. His blue eyes were open and he watched the leaves moving in the gentle breeze.
"Can I ask you another question about your culture?" Sigrid asked. She had been waiting for a long time to ask this question and she figured now was as good a time as any.
"You can always ask, but I make no promises to answer," Fili smiled.
She took a deep breath. "I've heard," she began slowly, "that dwarves only ever love once in their life and that if their love dies, so do they." She looked at him nervously. He raised one eyebrow, but kept staring straight ahead, looking up into the tree. Sigrid regretted immediately asking her question. How could she ask him that? His wife had only died just over a year ago.
"And your question is?" Fili asked without any expression.
"Never mind," she said. "It was an improper subject. Forgive me and forget it."
"You want to know if that is true?" he asked.
"No. Forget it." She started to stand. "I'm going to go get," she started, but stopped when she felt Fili's hand grasp hers.
"Sit down. I'll answer your question," Fili said.
"You don't need too,” her face was burning with shame. “It was wrong for me to ask." She sat back down but she couldn't look at him. He was still holding her hand.
"If I didn't want to answer, I'd just say so. But I will answer. What you have heard is both true and false."
She looked into his blue eyes. They were shining and he had a half smile.
"Dwarves are a loyal, passionate race. That passion drives us when we fight, when we craft and when we love. Females are few in number among us, so most dwarrows go through life without finding someone to love. But those who do find their love, love them with all their hearts. If a dwarf loses his or her spouse, it is devastating to them. And what makes it worse is that there is almost no chance that we will ever find someone to love again. So yes, usually a dwarf only ever loves but once in his life, but it does not mean that we aren't capable of loving again."
"I see," Sigrid said, doing her best to sound interested but impartial to the information.
"And yes, many dwarves die when their love does. How can you go on when the one you gave your heart to dies?" He sighed and for a moment was lost in memory.
"But your mother," Sigrid said. From previous conversations, Sigrid had learned that Fili's father had died when he was a small child.
"Mother could have easily followed Father in death because of her grief, but she didn't. She chose not to because she had Kili and I to raise. Often, if there are young children in the marriage, the living spouse stays to care for them, but not always. If it hadn't been for Milly, I could have died from grief after Mailli's death. I stayed for Milly. Mailli gave her life to bring Milly into the world. I won't let her sacrifice go in vain. I will raise our daughter." He looked at Milly with a sweet, loving gaze.
Sigrid had to swallow hard and blink back a few tears. "You're doing a wonderful job, too. She is such a wonderful child."
"Aye, she is. I didn't think I could love someone as much as I do her. She is my light." They sat for a few minutes in silence, watching Milly sleep. "Why do you ask, Sigrid?" Fili smiled playfully at her. "You have your eye on a dwarf?"
Sigrid was mortified that she wasn't as impartial sounding as she hoped and that he might guess her heart's secret. So she played along with his tease. "Could be. I was thinking of Kili. If I can get him away from Tauriel, though."
Fili laughed. "I think you'd better quit now. There's no separating those two."
They both looked at Fili's brother and the elf. Their heads were very close together.
"No doubt they are discussing politics and trade routes between the two kingdoms," Sigrid said. Fili rolled over with laughter, causing Kili and Tauriel to turn around and look at them.
"What are you two laughing about?" Kili called over.
"Nothing, brother," Fili called back, "you can go back to your discussions on trade routes."
Tauriel blushed, but Kili laughed. "We will, thank you very much." And they laid back down on their blanket, their faces pressed close together.
Sigrid glanced over at Dis and Thorin. They were both snoozing in the sunshine. She didn't know what to do next. She felt slightly uncomfortable since Fili answered her question. Of course, she had asked, but now she didn't know what to say.
Fili reached into one of the baskets of food and pulled out an apple. He took a knife from his belt and cut a slice. He held it out to Sigrid. "Apple?"
"Thank you," she said, taking the apple slice and biting into it. Fili scooted slightly closer to her as he cut off a slice of apple for himself. Milly still slept between them.
"You know," Fili began, cutting another piece of the apple, "I thought my heart died forever when Mailli died. Yes, I have Milly and I love her dearly, but I figured I would live the rest of my life like my mother, missing my heart's love every day for the rest of my life. It wasn't a happy thought, but mother has done it, so I could too." He passed another apple slice to Sigrid, but when she reached to take it, he took her hand and held it. "I was wrong to think I could never love again."
Sigrid's heart pounded in her chest and her hands tingled at his touch. She was afraid to even hope that he could want what she wanted. "I have found that I can love again." His fingers stroked her hand. "I love you."
Now Sigrid was absolutely certain her heart would pound its way out of her chest. "Really?" she squeaked.
Fili squeezed her hand. "Really."
She was having trouble breathing. "Oh, that's nice," she said as calmly as she could, "Because I love you, too."
They wore identical smiles. Fili wanted nothing more than to lean over his sleeping daughter and kiss Sigrid. And Sigrid wanted nothing more than to kiss Fili, but here? In front of his brother, his mother and the great King Under the Mountain? She couldn't do it.
"Come on, brother!" Kili yelled from where he and Tauriel sat. "Kiss her!"
This time it was Sigrid who blushed. Dis and Thorin woke from their naps and looked at the two couples. Sigrid could feel their eyes on her. Fili leaned forward and kissed her gently on the cheek.
Kili let out an exasperated sigh. "You call that a kiss? Do you need me to demonstrate?" He threw his arms around Tauriel's neck and gave her a big playful kiss.
"Kili!" Thorin barked, making Kili laugh.
"I don't need lessons from my baby brother!" Fili yelled back. Sigrid grinned, leaned into Fili and let him properly kiss her. Her whole body trembled.
Kili let out a triumphant whoop. When they separated, Sigrid shyly looked at Dis and Thorin. They both smiled at her. Their smiles weren't as friendly as Kili and Tauriel's but at least they weren't scowls. Fili leaned over and kissed her again, this time he disturbed Milly by accident and she woke up.
The little toddler grabbed at her father's beard. He looked down at her and saw her pretty blue eyes looking back at him. He laughed and picked her up, tickling her tummy. More kisses were passed between Fili, Sigrid and Milly, much to Fili and Sigrid's delight.
The afternoon was quickly passing.
"I think it's time we all headed home," Thorin said.
No one wanted the day to end, but they all had a long way to go to get home. The dwarves were going back to the mountain, Sigrid to Dale and Tauriel was headed back to the Greenwood. Sigrid did not want to say good bye, fearing this would all be a dream or that Fili would regret his words and she would never hear from nor speak to him again. However, Fili seemed quite as upset as she about parting each other's company. If only Dale and Erebor weren't so far apart.
"Please keep writing to me," Fili said. "You don't know how much I look forward to the post these days."
"I think I do know," Sigrid smiled. "I look forward to them too."
Fili pulled her away from the rest and helped her pack her horse. "We've been friends for a year now," he said, "so I feel I can skip some of the rules of politeness." He took a deep breath. "Sigrid, what would be your answer if I could ask you to marry me right now?"
"I would say yes. I love no one more than I love you, and Milly," she answered.
He reached out to her neck and ran his fingers along the emerald necklace he had given her. She shivered under his touch. He pulled on Sigrid's arms, bringing her face down closer to his. He kissed her again with a little more passion now that they were out of sight from the rest of the family. "May I start working on the proper negotiations then, to make you my wife?"
"Fili, if Thorin would perform the ceremony, I would marry you right now." Fili looked around to his uncle, excited by the news. "But," she spoke quickly, "seeing as how you are a prince, it probably wouldn't be proper for you to leave in the morning to go on a picnic, only to return that afternoon with a wife."
He grinned at her and nodded. "I suppose you're right. Can I just say, you have made me a very happy dwarf. I love you Sigrid."
"And I love you, too. Give Milly a kiss for me." They kissed once more then she climbed onto her horse. Fili was so very short next to her horse, but he reached up, took her hand and kissed it.
Tauriel rode to Sigrid's side. She would accompany Sigrid to Dale. They waved their goodbyes to the dwarven royal family and started home.