Months went by and the cooler autumn weather set in. The trees in the distant forest turned red, orange and gold. Sigrid loved to look out over the lake and the forest. She and Fili still wrote every week. Post day was her favorite day of the week. She could never get straight answers out of Fili in regards to his proposal. All he would say was that he was working things out.
Another formal diplomatic dinner was to be held at her father's home and an invitation was set to Erebor. To Sigrid's disappointment, it would not be Fili attending the dinner. It wasn't even going to be Kili. If it was Kili coming, she might have been able to get a few answers out of him, but it was going to be King Thorin.
Sigrid wore her yellow gown and her emerald necklace. When Thorin walked in, she gave her best curtsy.
"King Thorin, welcome."
"Lady Sigrid. I trust you are well?"
"I am your Majesty, thank you."
"I'm glad to hear it," he said and moved on. She did not have the chance to speak to him again that evening, although she saw her father and Thorin talking quite a lot. Sigrid could only hope.
The first frost settled over Dale on a very cloudy post day. Sigrid's breath was thick about her as she walked to the post stop. She wore a thick woolen skirt and her new coat. She eagerly waited for the messenger from Erebor to arrive. The dwarf who brought the post each week was a nice young dwarf named Hunur. She saw him coming down the road.
"Lady Sigrid!" he called out, riding up to her. He slid off his pony. "Got a package for you today." He grinned.
He untied a large bundle from the back of his pony. "Aye, lass."
The package was heavier than Sigrid expected it to be. She couldn't imagine what was in the bundle, which was wrapped in brown paper and had a great red wax seal with Fili's sigil on it. She passed on her letter to Hunur and thanked him. Then she walked home as quickly as she could without breaking into a run and looking very undignified.
It wasn't until she could shut the door and be in the privacy of her own room did Sigrid open the bundle. Inside was a letter, once again bearing Fili's wax seal and a large ream of cream colored fabric. It was soft and smooth with patterns woven right into the cloth. Sigrid ran her hand over the material before opening the letter with a trembling hand.
I hope this is enough cloth. If you are still agreeable to the proposal I made to you back in the summer, this is for your wedding dress. I've seen how handy you are with a needle and thread since you made your beautiful dinner gown. However, if you don't wish to sew it yourself, you are free to call upon any seamstress of your choosing. We have several in Erebor who would be delighted to sew your dress. They would give it a bit of dwarvish flair, if that interests you.
I also wish to invite you to Erebor two weeks from today. There is much to discuss and I really want to see you again. Kiss you again. It has been much too long since the picnic and I miss you. Send your reply with next week's post.
All is well here. The last of the winter stores are being gathered and the mountain will soon be ready for wintertime. Milly has been very fussy. Mother tells me it is because more teeth are coming in. Kili took a nasty fall the other day and twisted his ankle. He's fine, just moaning and complaining about having to rest in bed or in a chair all day. He's never been one to sit still for very long.
I hope you can be here in two weeks. I can hardly wait.
Sigrid's hand was clutched to her chest. She was having trouble breathing. She would marry Fili? She could hardly believe it. She had wanted this for months, even before that glorious summer picnic when he had asked her if she would marry him. And now, it would be real.
There was a knock at her door. "Sigrid?" Her father opened the door and poked his head in. "Did you get something special from Fili?" he asked.
She ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. "Da! Da! You agreed?"
"I had several meetings and many letters with Fili and Thorin. It has taken time to work through all the proper protocols for such a union of a lady to a prince, but yes, dearest Sigrid, I agreed and all is ready. Are you happy?"
"More than anything, Da! I'm very happy."
"And are you alright with becoming a mother straight away to his child from another woman?" Bard asked his daughter.
"Of course. I love little Milly and she isn't his child with another woman, it was his wife, whom he loved a great deal. He's a wonderful father and he has been a good husband. I know he will be for me as well," Sigrid said. She believed that with all her heart. He would love her and be very good to her.
"I want your happiness. If you love him and this is what you want, it is what I want, too. I am happy for you." Bard hugged his daughter again. He knew it was the beginning of the end of his time with his eldest daughter. It was certainly a bitter-sweet time. He didn't want his little girl to grow up any more, but he knew he could be very proud. He had done his best to raise her and now she was off to become the wife of a prince.
* * * * * *
The weeks could not go fast enough for Fili. Sigrid would be arriving this evening. He had been to the gate five times today already, hoping to find the sun was ready to set, but every time he went the sun was always high in the sky. Did the sun always move so slowly? He was nervous. It had been almost five months since he had seen Sigrid last. She had agreed to marry him and he couldn't believe how lucky he was.
He sighed. There were still several hours until sunset. He would go back and finish the work he had left behind. He took one last glimpse of the horizon before turning back to the mountain and there she was. A small party on horseback was approaching the gate. Fili waved at them and Sigrid waved back. She kicked her horse into a run and reached the gate soon after. She hopped off her horse and curtsied to Fili.
"Lady Sigrid, welcome," Fili said. He wanted to abandon all protocol and throw his arms around her and kiss her. Instead he bowed.
"Prince Fili, I thank you for your invitation. It's good to see you again."
The rest of her escorts rode up and dismounted. They all bowed to the dwarven prince, who greeted them warmly and invited them in to the reception room. He had refreshments brought to the guest and polite chat was exchanged. When the guests were ready, they were led to the throne room to be received by the King Under the Mountain.
Thorin was very gracious in his welcoming. "I'm afraid tonight's feast isn't ready yet. We weren't expecting you until later," he said.
"Sigrid couldn't wait, so we set our much earlier than we intended," Bard answered.
Thorin laughed. He went to Sigrid and took her hands in his. "Welcome, lass. I can't tell you how happy I am that you will be joining our family. I will do everything in my power to make sure your life here is a good one."
"Thank you, my Lord. I know that I will have a very good life with Prince Fili and all his kin."
Thorin gave her a smile. "Have you seen my niece yet?" he asked.
"Not yet, but I imagine she has grown a great deal these last few months," Sigrid answered.
"Indeed she has," Thorin nodded. "If you all are ready, you will be show to your rooms so you may relax from your journey and I will see you all this evening at the feast."
Everyone bowed to Thorin and then were led away to the guest rooms. Fili took Sigrid's arm in the formal way he had been taught to escort a lady. He was happy to be with her again. "You're looking very lovely."
Sigrid giggled. "How long do we have to keep up these formalities?" she whispered.
"Just until I get you out of these public halls," he whispered back. It was several minutes of walking the many halls and rooms, making polite conversation about the weather before they reached the more private halls of guest rooms. As soon as they could, Fili let go of her arm and took her gently by the hand. She squeezed his hand back and gave him a smile.
"I've missed you," she said.
"I've missed you, too."
"You said we had much to discuss?" she asked him as they approached the guest room she had stayed in every time she had come to Erebor.
"Yes, many things, but it's not going to be easy. I'm afraid we'll have escorts most of the time. This is your room while you are here. Do you need some time to refresh?" Fili asked.
"No, I don't need time to refresh," she gently nudged him in the side. "I want to go see Milly very soon, but first, I have something to ask you. Come on in and leave the door open." Sigrid walked into her room. Her belongings had already been brought up. Fili stood just inside the door, leaving it open, incase her father or any of their guards or escorts came for them.
She opened one of her packs and pulled out the large ream of white cloth he had given her two weeks ago. She held it out to him.
"Do you not like it? We can go to the market. You can pick out anything you like," he spoke quickly, embarrassed that he had made such a choice without her. Of course she would have wanted to pick out her own cloth. He was beating himself up in his head.
"No, Fili. I love it. It is beautiful, which is why I brought it here. I don't trust myself to make a dress with such fine material. You mentioned there are seamstresses here. Perhaps I can turn over the dress to them?"
Fili relaxed and gave a nervous laugh. "Oh, yes. Of course there are. I'm sure they would be very happy to make your dress for you. We don't have many weddings here. In fact, since coming back to Erebor, there has only been one wedding, so I know they would be very excited to make your dress."
"And a royal wedding at that," Sigrid smiled. "Are there traditional dwarven styles of wedding dresses?"
"Oh yes, especially for royalty."
"Then I will turn this over to them. It's one thing for me to sew myself a skirt, but it's quite another thing to sew a wedding dress."
Fili reached up to touch her face. "You're better than you give yourself credit for. Here, give me the material." He took the bolt of cloth from her and tucked it under one arm. With his other hand, he took hers and they left her room.
"Ah, there you are!"
Fili and Sigrid turned around to see her father, Bard, walking up to them.
"Good day, Lord Bard."
"Where are we off to?" Bard asked.
Fili and Sigrid looked at each other and smiled. They would get no privacy during this visit. Well, they would marry soon and then they wouldn't have to worry about escorts any longer.
"We are going to the Room of the Prince," Fili answered. "I will have the seamstresses brought there and I will also have Milly's nurse bring her to us. There are also wedding details I would like to discuss and it will be good to have you there for those."
"The Room of the Prince?" Sigrid giggled. "Sounds very grand."
Fili blushed. "Not really. It's just an ostentatious name for the office Kili and I share."
The Room of the Prince was a cross between a small throne room and an office. There were two large chairs, thrones for Fili and Kili. There were also several desks, book shelves, and a variety of comfortable chairs. Kili was there, sitting at a desk, writing. He jumped up when he saw Sigrid walk in with Fili.
"Sigrid!" He started towards here, but stopped when he saw her father. "Lady Sigrid. It's good to see you again," he bowed.
Sigrid went up to Kili, "Silly. We are to be brother and sister. Now give me a hug." Kili grinned and hugged Sigrid.
"Hey, I didn't get one of those," Fili pouted.
Kili laughed, but Sigrid turned back to Fili. "There, there, I was saving one for you. I just haven't had the chance to share it with you yet." She turned to Fili, hugged him and kissed him gently on the lips. "How was that?"
"Sigrid!" Bard called in warning.
Fili touched her face again, running his hand along her jaw line. "That was perfect." He took her by the hand again and led her to one of the chairs. Kili returned to his desk. "Klor?" Fili called.
Another dwarf, wearing a short red cape got up from a small desk in a corner of the room. He went before Fili and waited. Fili noticed Sigrid blushing. Obviously she didn't know Klor was in the room when she had hugged and kissed Kili and himself.
"Would you be good enough to have Milly brought here and also the head seamstress and her apprentice?" Fili asked.
Klor bowed. "Yes, my Prince," and he was off.
"That's Klor, Kili and my's chancellor. He's a good dwarf. Use to be a member of Thorin's guard, but on route to Erebor from the Blue Mountains, he got injured in an attack. So now, he helps keep Kili and myself in line," Fili explained.
Kili snorted from his desk. Fili ignored him.
There was something of an awkward silence as Fili debated what to say next. What he really wanted to say and do couldn’t be done in front of Bard or Kili.
"So, Fili," Sigrid broke the ice. "When are you planning this wedding to be?"
"Well, that was one of the things I wanted to talk about with you. Due to various circumstances, and the fact that my uncle is the king and can make changes to the rules, some of the courtship time restraints have been lifted. According to our laws in the loosest sense, the correspondence we have been exchanging can be counted as time courting, which means we have been courting for over a year, now. There are a few ceremonial traditions that must be observed, but I'm hoping we can cover much of that during your visit."
"Ceremonial traditions?" Sigrid gave a sly smile. "What does that mean?"
"Something quite formal, I'm afraid. There must be a gift exchange to show our promise for each other during an official ceremony where we are promised to each other by our family. So, Thorin will present me to you and your family, and then you are presented to Thorin and my family. If we accept each other, we place courtship beads into our hair, which are worn until the wedding day."
"Sounds very complicated," Sigrid frowned. She had been given some warning about the gift exchanged and was prepared for that, but she didn’t know anything about dwarven courting braids.
"It's not really," Fili casually waved his hand. "My mother will teach you the braid you will place in my hair. That's about all you will have to do. We can get married any time after that. So, it could be next week, or on Durin's Day, or we could wait until spring."
"Really? Anytime?" Sigrid asked.
Fili nodded, but there was a knock at the door and moments later two dwarrowdams walked in. They curtsied before Fili and then turned to Kili with another curtsy. “My Lord,” the oldest of the two females said.
"Thank you for coming, Besgra," Fili stood and picked up the white fabric. "This is Lady Sigrid, my intended, or will officially be my intended very soon. She has requested you to make her wedding dress."
Besgra bowed to Sigrid. "It would be an honor, my Lady. Have you any requests as to how your dress should be?"
"It will be with this fabric," Sigrid took the cloth from Fili and handed it to the seamstress. "And I would like it to be traditional to your people."
"I've never sewn for a human before. It will take some adjusting, but with the proper measurements and several fittings, I will be able to make you a beautiful gown," Besgra said. "If you will come to my shop later, I will take your measurements and get to work right away. In the meantime, my assistant and I shall draw up some ideas so that when you come, you may tell us what you like best."
"Thank you, I will come as soon as I am able," Sigrid said.
The two dwarrowdams bowed again and left. It wasn't a moment later that the door opened again and an elderly dwarrowdam walked in holding Milly. Milly let out a squeal when she saw Fili and she started to squirm in her nurse's arms. The nurse set Milly down, who quickly toddled to her father. "Dada!"
Fili scooped her up and gave his precious daughter a kiss. "Milly, look who's here." He turned so she could see Sigrid. Milly buried her head into her father's chest. Sigrid went closer and held out her hand to Milly.
"I can't believe how big you've grown," Sigrid smiled. Milly peeked her eyes around from Fili's chest, but after one look at Sigrid, she buried her face again.
"Milly, it's Sigrid," Fili said. He looked apologetically at Sigrid. "I don't understand."
"It's alright," Sigrid smiled. She patted the little girl's back. "It's been five months since we saw each other last. It's like a lifetime to one so young. Don't worry. We'll become friends again soon."
Kili came over to Fili's side. "Where's my favorite girl?" he peeked up over Fili's shoulder. Milly gave another squeal of delight and threw out her hands to her uncle. Kili grabbed Milly from Fili's arms and tossed her gently into the air.
"Sometimes I think she likes Kili more than she likes me," Fili said.
"That's because when we are together, we play. When you are together, you’re Adad. I've got the funner job," Kili said.
"Just wait until you have your own children," Fili waved his finger at Kili. "Then I will be the favorite uncle and your dwarflings will like me more than they like you." Fili turned back to the elderly nurse. "How has she been today?"
"She's a joy, as always, my Lord."
"Hadwerra, this is the Lady Sigrid. Sigrid, this is Hadwerra, Milly's nurse," Fili introduced.
The two women curtsied at each other. "It's very nice to meet you, my Lady," Hadwerra said.
"And I you," Sigrid said. "Milly is looking very well. Last time I saw her, she could barely crawl and now she runs."