A/N: Warning of citrus laden content ahead ...

o.o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o.o

Tauriel's green eyes were alert as she quietly watched the room full of dwarves. They were loud, raucous and without decorum. But their spontaneous songs held true warmth and grief, and although perhaps they were bolstered by large amounts of ale, they were honest in their feelings.

Dorn, the deceased master baker, was sung about in honor. His name was raised in rememberance and the stories grew bolder, braver, and perhaps even a bit on the fantastical side as the night drew longer.

"Tauriel?"

The she-elf looked up a the quiet call of her name, spotting Nurbera gesturing to her, she stood. Seated beside her, Kili looked up as she rose, his face questioning. Tauriel patted his shoulder before moving off to see what their host's spouse needed.

"Come." The dwarrowdam led her out of the large hall, down a side corridor.

Tauriel glanced back, surprised to see both Teldu and Cleadeth following her. The red-head frowned lightly. "Women do not stay for these mourning rites?"

Cleadeth scoffed. "Mourning rites? More like drunken stories and tall tales."

Teldu frowned, her face lined with the bereavement of the baker's passing. "I'd like to stay."

Nurbera shook her head, giving a sad smile to all three females. "Women can stay, it's not a gender stricture." She assured the tall elf. "But Teldu, you are about to fall out and should be excused. Cleadeth, I need your help in the kitchen. And ..." Here the stout woman hesitated a moment. "Tauriel, is that alright to be calling you?"

The elf nodded, surprised at the question. "It is my name."

The dwarf's face twitched slightly, as if amazed that she was on a first name basis with an elf of all things. "I only thought that you might be growing tired of hearing the men sing."

Now it was Tauriel's turn to be surprised. As a captain in King Thranduil's guard, it had been her duty to stand sentry whenever and wherever he directed. Including many boring meetings and entertainments. It had not occurred to her to ask to be excused. Thinking about it now, she realized that she had not been bored, and in fact had been quite comfortable. "Not as such."

"Or you might like a chance to get in a bath before we run out of time and the sun rises before we are done singing." Nurbera added in a rush.

This did sound appealing, after several days on the road and with orc blood stiffening her travel leathers.

"Oh! Do you use bath salts?" Cleadeth went from petulant to curious between one blink of the eyes and the next.

"Salt my bath water?" Tauriel asked, taken aback. "It's not for drinking or cooking."

As tired as Teldu was, the young dwarf-maid snorted in surprised amusement at the misconception. Even Nurbera lost some of her reserve and smiled widely.

Cleadeth was not deterred, however. "Then you use lotions. On your skin."

"Yes." Tauriel nodded, not understanding the connection between a food preservative and seasoning with something to keep her skin from cracking. But she didn't elaborate on her answer, feeling there was no need.

The dwarf-maid felt differently, leaning forward in her eagerness. "My lotions have milk and honey." She shared the information like it was a secret.

The red-head blinked rapidly, looking at the other females for guidance. "Really?"

"She makes it herself." Teldu murmured. "I prefer aloe. Mother makes it."

"A goodly and useful plant." Tauriel agreed, still unsure.

Cleadeth was becoming a bit anxious, not getting what information she wanted. "What do you use on your skin to make it so soft and creamy?"

Tauriel shook her head and shrugged. "When the weather turns dry, I use lotion to keep the skin from cracking. It is useful."

"No, I mean for beauty." Cleadeth waved in general at the tall she-elf. "You must add something to your bath water. Scent maybe?"

The red-head shook her head, starting to understand a bit more about what was being asked. But clueless how to really answer without offending. "Sometimes mint or herbs."

Cleadeth blinked, awed. "And that makes your skin so smooth?"

"No." Tauriel kept her expression neutral. "It helps take away scent so that when hunting we are not so easily detected."

The young female dwarf was not so easily put off, however. "You have to use something in your bath!"

The she-elf blinked twice and answered truthfully. "Soap."

Teldu actually laughed and turned away from the group. "I'm for bed. Sleep well."

Nurbera bid her daughter a good night, and reached out and snagged her into a reluctant hug. Teldu relented to the affection of her mother as her dam whispered how glad she was that they weren't singing for two lost loved ones this night.

Tauriel watched the two, glad that they had had a hand in bringing the lass home. Still bemused to find out that female dwarves had beards as well as the males though. That had startled her earlier when she realized that the apprentice baker was in fact, a she.

"It's not fair!" Cleadeth protested as her mother then prodded one daughter upstairs, and the other into the kitchen. "I'm tired too!"

"You didn't nearly die today." Nurbera muttered, pointing the youngster toward the dishes. She turned to the tall she-elf and sighed, eying her carefully. "I've had a hot bath prepared for you upstairs, come, I'll show you."

Cleadeth was wrapping an apron around her dress, pouting. She looked pointedly at Tauriel as they passed her. "Did you put a love spell on him?"

Nurbera felt her stomach drop at the rude words, her hand whipped out and cuffed her daughter's ear. "Do not bring shame to this clan." She hissed. The fine matron then shot a look at Tauriel, and reached into a container to pull out a handful of herbs. "For the bath."

Tauriel said not a word, just continued to follow the dwarrowdam up the stairs. The home was spacious and large, and clean. "She's a child." The she-elf offered the words hesitantly.

"A vain one." Nurbera nodded grimly.

"Do you think I put a love spell on him?" Tauriel asked as the dwarrowdam reached a door at the right side of the corridor.

The dwarf matron hesitated and shook her head a bit too slowly. Her voice was almost apologetic as she tried to explain. "We hear many things about the magic of the elves."

The red-head peered into the comfortable looking room, happy to see steam rising from the large bath tub that had been brought in. "We hear that all dwarves live underground and in caves."

The droll tone of the she-elf had Nurbera barking out a stiff laugh and a genuine smile. "No, some of us prefer a nice built house." She walked in and dropped the herbs into the bath water and gestured at the thick towels folded neatly on a sturdy dresser.

Tauriel sniffed the bath water, recognizing the scent of fresh herbs meant to hasten healing. "Many things can be bespelled, enhanced or enchanted. Love is not one of them." The elf dipped her hand into the water happily. "Nor do I have that talent. Those are things of the great Kings and Queens of old. Beyond us now."

Nurbera decided that elf or not, she might like this tall newcomer. "Have ye and the lad been married long?"

Tauriel shook her head, smiling at the warmth she sensed in the other female's manner. "A little over a month."

Nurbera lost her smile. "And most of that with him healing and you two travelling?" She guessed. "That's not nearly enough time alone for two just wed. Well, never mind that. You get a nice long soak."

"My thanks." Tauriel gave a short bow of her head.

The dwarrowdam studied her a moment, then smiled as she came to a decision and returned the nod.

o.o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o.o

Alone in the room, Tauriel eyed the rather large tub. It was a kindness, she hoped. And not some way to exclude her from the group downstairs. Yet she had not sensed any falseness in the dwarrowdam, who she thought she might quite like.

It took little time to strip off her stained clothing and hang it over a cleverly carved rack she guessed was for that purpose. Now that she was about to get clean, she could feel the caked on grime and the chalky feel of her feet. A hot bath was perfect.

She didn't want to wash her hair, but it had been too long and she could feel an almost-itch on her scalp from dust and sweat. Deciding it was more important to be clean, Tauriel didn't pin her hair up, but climbed into the tub.

The she-elf hissed with pleasure as she slid into the hot water without hesitation, sinking in. The heated water closed over her head as she let herself slide down for a long minute before she came up for air.

"Hello."

Her green eyes closed against the hot water, and her long hair now in her face. Tauriel startled, even though she instantly recognized that particular voice.

When she blinked the water from her eyes and parted her streaming hair out of her face, she found that Kili's dark eyes were gleaming with pleasure.

Tauriel stared at him and then a slow smile crossed her expressive lips. "Following me?"

The dark-haired dwarf sat down on a low stool and began pulling off his scuffed and heavy boots. "Dern's wife told me that you had a question for me. Sent me up here. Do you have a question?" His voice teased her.

Vividly, Nurbera's words replayed in Tauriel's mind. About how she and Kili hadn't had enough time alone together yet. "I don't have a question." Her voice turned gravelly with want as she watched her handfasted love begin stripping off his outer tunic.

"I do." Kili gave her a lascivious grin. "Want me to scrub your back?"

Tauriel didn't even think of looking away as her dark-eyed love begin taking off his clothing. "Dwarves wear too many clothes." She complained.

"No argument from me." Huffed an impatient Kili, his fingers trying to loosen the ties on his inner tunic.

She watched his clothing hit the floor one piece at a time. The red-head frowned. "There's a perfectly good clothes rack to hang those on."

He said a very naughty word and her jewel-bright eyes widened. Then she chuckled. It seemed her love was in a hurry. And truthfully, it wasn't only the water heating her blood as she watched him divest himself of piece after piece of leather and cloth.

Seeing piece by piece of his skin be revealed was an erotic sight. She watched his muscles bunch and release as he moved, power in those motions that seemed barely contained by his hair-dusted skin.

Finally Kili was down to one dark burgandy shirt hanging loosly on his muscular frame. He tossed his pants onto the steep pile of dirty clothes and reached up to unlace the ties across his chest. The shirt rose, giving Tauriel a peek-a-boo look at how much he wanted her. Her mouth went dry.

"I want to see you." She whispered darkly.

Kili looked up at her, only to freeze as he saw something in her eyes. Something that called to him down to his very marrow.

"Don't stop." She pleaded, her voice lacking strength but full of need.

Kili didn't bother with the ties after all, he ripped the shirt off over his head and ignored any ripping sounds that the cloth made.

Tauriel stared. He'd put on weight since they'd begun travelling, despite having only camp food. His chest had filled back out and she loved the way the muscles moved under his skin. She loved the soft curls of his chest hair that grew across each pectoral and then followed a line down his abdomen.

She saddened at the sight of his new scars that interrupted the flow of his body. Scars that hinted at fell wounds that had nearly cost him his life. "I love you."

Kili's heart, already racing, sped up further as he took in too much air in one breath. "Impossible."

Tauriel stared at him, slowly lifting her hand to him. Mutely asking him to join her.

The dark-eyed dwarf stared at his own personal treasure and almost wept. "You are heaven and I am earth. Elf and dwarf. Star and cavern."

"You are beautiful to me." She breathed out the words softly, still holding out her hand.

Kili shook with intensity of his love for her, he reached for her hand, but instead of joining her ...he jerked her close to the edge of the tub. Water splashed over the sides and her green eyes widened as they were suddenly face to face.

He kissed her. She kissed him. Who moved first was impossible to decipher. They were just suddenly sealed to one another. Water lapped a the edge of the tub, and neither cared. Tongues were entangled as he held the back of her head, his fingers speared through her wet hair. She held the sides of his face, his rough stubble erotic to the touch of her palms.

It was long moment later that both pulled back, their breathing labored and heavy. Their gazes intense. Kili suddenly grinned and climbed into the deep tub, hissing as the hot water surround him.

Instead of making room for him, Tauriel gave him no space but moved in quickly for another long and drugging kiss. Skin to skin, they couldn't get closer, but both tried as they ran their hands over each other. Exploring. Tasting. Exalting in the sensual play of flesh on flesh. Her breasts rubbing against his hair chest nearly made her cry out. Her touch, running up and down his hip and thigh had his eyes nearly crossing.

Tubs weren't easy to make love in. Especially not with the inherent difference in their height. Eventually they ended up with him standing, holding on to the tub's edge with Tauriel's legs wrapped around his hips. He held her weight easily, moving his hips with strength beyond measure given leverage by his hold on the tub's edge. Her arms held him tight around his shoulders and neck, scractch marks decorating his skin as his head was buried in the crook of her neck. Breathy sounds and moans escaping her as they brought each other shuddering over the edge.

"I think I drew blood." She whispered, her voice beyond hoarse, worried about his shoulders and powerful back.

Kili swallowed heavily. "Back is fine, it's my knees that are shaking."

"My toes curled." Tauriel sounded awed.

"The water's gone cold."

"I think most of the water is on the floor." She frowned, peering over the edge of the tub. Her red-hair was wet and hung straight down until it's length touched the water. From there, the red tresses spread out around the two lovers like a layer of silk upon the water.

Kili grinned against the soft texture of her skin. "I think you just tried to drown me again." He teased.

She balled up her fist and hit him on the shoulder with enough force to make him pretend to whoosh out a breath. His grin never dimmed. "We need to sop up the water off the floor." She moaned, not wanting to move and disconnect their bodies.

Kili seemed to feel the same way, frowning at the unwanted suggestion.

Tauriel sighed. "Not our house, and we don't want to be bad guests."

The dwarf sighed with regret as they each began to move. Finally out of the considerably cooled down water, Kili moved around the room unclothed and unconcerned about his nudity. Tauriel watched him with wonder in her eyes, until he tossed several of the thick towels at her. "For the floor." He teased.

Brought back to reality, the she-elf laughed lightly at her own expense and sopped up the excess water. When she looked up, Kili was holding a wide towel out for her and she stepped into him. He wrapped the soft cloth around her, but didn't let go. Kili rested his head against her chest and tightened his arms around her back.

Tauriel's own arms moved automatically around him, marvelling at the heat he was generating, and at how much she really loved him. "If you are the earth, how can you be so warm?"

Kili led her over to the bed, pushing her onto her stomach. Bemused she complied, listening as he went over to their packs. She could then feel him return and settle down, sitting beside her prone body. When the first touch came, she moaned. He was brushing out her hair.

"Sunlight heats the earth from above. But there is fire beneath the ground, make no mistake. Dangerous things live in the earth." He murmured, each stroke of the brush a caress.

Tauriel turned her head toward him, lazily opening her green eyes. He was still nude. Sitting beside her, she could clearly see his stong thigh and lower abdomen, his modesty preserved only by the way he was seated. It was a heady, and very sexy view.

"Are you a dangerous thing?" She mused.

He chuckled and she squeaked slightly as he gave her towel-covered backside a small swat. "Only to elf-maids."

Tauriel rolled in the direction away from him, the towel loosened and exposing her creamy body to him. Still holding the ends of her hair in his hands, it was long enough that it didn't pull at her.

"Just how dangerous are you?"

Kili's expression had first been him staring at her with his mouth slightly open. At her words, his lips turned up into a wide grin. Tauriel's heart sped up. She loved that smile beyond any treasure this world had to offer.

"I always assumed the light from stars to be cold." He teased her.

Tauriel's eyebrows rose as she tugged gently on her own hair, trying to move him closer to her. "Light is life. And calls life from the earth."

Kili nodded, letting her draw him closer. "Sunlight yes, but not the lights given life in the darkness. Starlight is a beautiful, but distant sight."

The she-elf reached out and did what she loved most. She touched his face. "There are plants that bloom only at night."

"Sometimes those plants are dangerous." He warned her, his rough hands running down the side of her body to her hip. His fingers curled possessvely on her sensitive skin.

"To elf-maids?" She guessed, her hands moving to his shoulders, drawing him in closer to her.

Kili grinned a moment before his lips found hers. "Oh indeed." He whispered against her kiss.

Tauriel lost her breath for several moments as he ran his subble rough face along her collarbone and then down to capture her breast with his mouth. Her head arched back, her throat white and creamy as she panted a bit.

"Then I am glad that I am the first elf-maid you met."

"Not." Kili's voice was nearly lost as he abandoned her breast to move to the other one. His hand moving to soothe the flesh he'd just let go of.

Tauriel nearly missed the word in the pleasure garnered from him suckling and teasing her body. Her hips bucked beneath him, and she was delighted to feel that he was wanting her just as much as she craved him. And yet, that word burrowed into her consciousnes enough to make her mind reconnect. "Not? Not what?"

"Not the first elf-maid I've seen." He said carelessly, his mouth moving down to the upper slope of her flat stomach, trying to nibble on the taut skin there. His tongue lapping at the silky smoothness of her body.

Without thought or command, her hand left his shoulder to gather in his thick dark hair, pulling him up so she could peer down into his face. "No?"

"You are the only one I've ever loved." He assured her, unalarmed. Kili gave her a wink. "Rivendell lasses can't hold a candle to you. Too sedate, too calm, no danger to them at all. It was all harps and flutes and looking down their noses at a poor dwarf prince."

She gave him a long stare.

His grinned widened. "I never even spoke to one. Let alone inviting any of them to search my pants."

Tauriel was teased into a laugh as she recalled his question to her back at King Thranduil's prison cells.

"They did have better accomodations for us though." Kili leaned forward, biting the skin just beneath her breast. Her lax fingers slid from his hair. "The company was pale though, compared to you."

She laughed with what little breath he left her as he delved into the soft skin around her belly button. His scruffy almost-beard was driving her to distraction, and she arched up beneath him.

"Better than the king's prison cells? Surely not."

Kili chuckled roughly against her skin and she caught her breath at the sensual feel. "The baths were bigger though, better. Large fountain that could take all of us. A bit open mind you, but fun."

Tauriel nodded absently, not really paying attention beyond the feelings he was pulling from her. It took several breathless minutes before his words even pierced her fogged brain. When it did, her green eyes flew open in shock.

Kili stared at her in surprise as she yanked on his hair again, pulling his head up so she could see his eyes. "Love?" He protested the interruption.

The red-head stared at him, her green eyes wide. "You bathed in the fountains at Rivendell? Bathed. With soap and everything? In the fountains? The ones dedicated to Eru?"

"We're not Orcs, of course we used soap." Kili blinked, his own mind still groggy with desire. "I don't know which fountain. Big fountain on the east with lots of levels and falls of water. It was fun. Held all of us. Had a grand water fight." He paused. "Well, uncle wasn't there or Gandalf. And Bilbo. But the rest of us dwarves."

Tauriel was so surprised that she gave a choked laugh more out of amazement rather than amusement. Then she was laughing even more as she could just about picture the looks on some of those Elvish faces sure to have witnessed such a scene.

Kili stared up at her, feeling her grip on his hair relax. He grinned, unsure why his story was so amusing. But he had other priorities at the moment. And he didn't like her distracted from his attentions.

Tauriel's laugh ceased as she felt his teeth on her inner thigh. Then his mouth and his tongue. Moans of pleasure replaced her laughter as his attention moved higher, to more needy things.

o.o.o.o.o

o.o.o.o.o