Author's note: This story uses elements from both the book and the movies, as I enjoyed both tellings of this tale. This opening scene takes place prior to Bilbo's departure with Gandalf.

The Sindarin used throughout this story is as accurate as it is possible to get it without having Prof. Tolkien's own notes in front of me. I did a great deal of research to make sure my translations were used correctly.

Melancholy was not strong enough a word for how Tauriel felt when she said her final goodbye to Kíli.

As the lid to his stone casket was moved into place by his kin, the burning beneath her breast that left her feeling devoid of any desire to go on living could only be called despair…and even that seemed not quite adequate a description.

Tears fell silently from her eyes as one by one, the dwarves left the antechamber where they had lain to rest Thorin and his nephews—for Kíli's uncle and brother Fíli had also been slain in the battle. Many more dwarves had died, but this room under the mountain was theirs alone, for they were of the line of kings. Bard had paid his respects by placing the Arkenstone on Thorin's breast, and Thranduil—much to Tauriel's surprise—had placed the sword Orcrist on top of the late king's sarcophagus.

Though certainly she was not the only one who grieved, they all left her alone to hers, and the young elf fell to her knees as she had on Ravenhill, sobbing as her heart continued to break.

She knew not how long she stayed that way, but eventually the hardness of the stone beneath her knees allowed physical pain to hold sway over Tauriel's emotional distress, and so she rose stiffly to her feet. Wiping her cheeks, she kissed the fingertips of her right hand and touched them to Kíli's tomb, then she turned and quickly walked away.

Outside the gate of Erebor, she saw a small party waiting across the makeshift bridge. Among them was Thranduil, and her back stiffened; though he had seen her pain and acknowledged that her love for Kíli was genuine, Mirkwood's king had banished her from his realm. And if her defiance of him had not been reason enough, certainly drawing her bow on him in front of his soldiers would be. Her breath hitched in her chest at the sudden realization that not only was she heartbroken for the second time in her six hundred-plus years, but homeless as well.

Facing Thranduil now was low on her list of things she desired to do. She glanced over the faces of the three dwarves and the Man who stood to Thranduil's right—Bard, if she recalled correctly. They all seemed to be waiting for her, and so Tauriel drew a breath and marched forward.

"Majesty," she addressed Thranduil with a slight bow of her head, though she did not look at him.

"Tauriel," he replied. "I believe it is time we took our leave."

Now her eyes found his, her gaze wary. "Has my Lord forgotten that he banished me?" she asked.

Thranduil sighed. "I have not forgotten. But much has transpired since I made that edict which has shown me that I acted foolishly. I was angry, and such is not a mindset in which one should make so strong a choice. Forgive me, Tauriel, and come home. Take your place one more as a Captain of the Guard."

It took her a moment to find words with which to respond. "You are most kind, sire, to rescind the order of banishment against me—so please, do not think me spiteful when I say that I cannot accept you… at least not yet. I need time to heal the wounds of my heart before I can be of greatest service to you."

Thranduil shared a look with Bard she could not interpret. When he faced her again, the Elf-king nodded. "I thought you might be of such a mind. To that end, Bard and I have taken council with one another and he wishes to make an offer to you."

Curious in spite of herself, Tauriel turned to Bard, who gave her a nod and said, "First, allow me to convey my deepest gratitude, Captain. My children have told me you were the first to defend them against the orcs who came looking for Thorin and his kin."

"Legolas was there also, my Lord," she replied simply.

"They told me that as well—but it was you who stayed with them and in the wake of Smaug's attack on Lake-town, it was you who urged them to flee to safety. I cannot thank you enough for seeing their lives spared."

Words once again escaped her—the expression on his face was clear demonstration that he felt indebted to her for his offspring's safe keeping. "I did only what was right," she said at last.

Drawing another deep breath, she then asked, "What of this offer King Thranduil spoke of?"

Bard glanced over his shoulder for a moment; she followed his gaze to the ruined city of Dale. "My people are in great need, Captain. Few of us remain who are skilled in the art of war, and that makes us vulnerable. We cannot properly defend our home if we cannot avail ourselves in combat, so my proposal is thus: Stay on in Dale with my kin through the winter. Lord Dain here has pledged to provide armor and weapons. Your combat training would provide us with the skill to use them. In time, we'll be better equipped and able to defend ourselves and our city."

Tauriel looked from Bard to Thranduil to the three dwarves. "Men taught by an elf to fight with weapons made by dwarves?"

"No greater combination could be found in all of Middle-earth, Captain," said Dain with a smile.

"A task such as this will keep your own skills sharp, Tauriel, until you are ready to come home again," observed Thranduil.

Tauriel thought of Mirkwood, and her heart squeezed painfully as her mind was suddenly filled with memories of Kíli, for it was there under the webs of the spiders that she had first met him. And of all places, it was in the dungeon of the palace that he had charmed his way into her heart.

No, she could not go back. Not yet. At that moment, she could not imagine a time she would be able to walk among those trees or the halls of the castle and not think of her loss.

For the third time, she drew a deep breath and prepared to speak. "I shall accept your offer, Lord Bard, but only if you grant me one concession."

Bard's eyebrow rose. "Pray tell, what caveat do you require?"

"That I should not teach only men to fight," she replied. "Any woman or elder girl who wishes to learn ought be allowed to do so, for proof enough has been seen these recent days past that even those without weapons may be felled by them."

He nodded. "Indeed, it is a sad truth you say. And so shall it be that the ladies who desire to learn defense shall take instruction with you alongside the men."

"It's settled!" Dain cried. "So today we bid farewell to Thranduil's company, and tonight we feast in honor of the fallen brave. Then tomorrow, we begin the task of rebuilding two kingdoms—Erebor and Dale shall be strong once more!"

Bard clapped a hand on the Dwarf-king's shoulder. "Tomorrow begins a new day for us all. I am gratified that we shall greet the dawn together in friendship."

"Aye, it pleases me also," Dain replied.

"I, too, am pleased that we part on good terms," added Thranduil. "Too many lives have been lost on all sides to waste time over petty squabbles. May the future long see us as peaceful neighbors."

Saying goodbye then to the Elven-king, the dwarves stepped past Tauriel and returned to the mountain. Thranduil looked to Bard then and said, "If I may have a word alone with Tauriel, Lord Bard…"

"Of course," Bard replied. "Captain, I shall meet you in the market in due time—it is there that we are to gather to discuss and organize the clearing of the city."

"Yes, my Lord," Tauriel acknowledged, and with another nod to Thranduil, Bard took his leave of them.

"Walk with me… if you will," Thranduil said after a moment.

Tauriel followed in silence as he turned toward the gathered company of elves near the gate of the city. "I should not have been so harsh with you," the king said, switching to Sindarin. "After all, it is not as though I am unaware of your particular proclivities. For many years you have suggested we take an interest in matters outside of our borders—your following the dwarves merely forced my hand sooner than I'd have liked. Declaring you banished was rash, a decision influenced by anger and not logic."

"On the contrary, sire," she replied stiffly. "It was but a logical punishment for one who defied your orders, even if I was not technically present to hear them."

"But a punishment that was far more severe than the crime deserved," he countered, his speech slipping back to the Common tongue. "Even I can admit to that."

"If you say so, my Lord."

"Tauriel," Thranduil said, taking her by the arm as he stopped. Not until she turned her eyes to his did he speak again. "Goheno nin—for my treatment of you and for your loss. It is clear to me that both pain you greatly."

She fought the tears that stung her eyes. "I assure you Majesty, losing my beloved before he knew my true feeling for him wounds me far more deeply than your words ever could. Even were I still banished, it would not matter, for a home can be made anywhere."

Thranduil reached a hand under her chin and lifted it gently, until her eyes met his. "But a heart that is shattered finds shelter nowhere. Trust me in this. I pray, my daughter, that one day yours will be whole again—that one day not far from now, you will once more be at peace. Then you will know it is time to come home."

Sindarin translation:

Goheno nin - Forgive me