Tauriel has waited a lifetime and then some for this reunion.

Will Kíli still remember her? Will he still love her, as he promised in that one bold, wonderful moment on a lake shore in Middle-earth? Or has he thought better of that rash confession in the years he has waited in the halls of his fathers and then in the years after that while he and his dwarven brothers have built this New Arda?

She has not forgotten him. In life, they knew each other for such a brief time, it is true, but even those few moments in which he touched her long immortality have changed her forever. His eagerness and joy captivated her from the first, and then, when he was gone, she carried that eagerness and joy with her still. She lived more freely and boldly because of him, refusing to stay pent in her native forest when there was a whole world to be known and people to defend and to love.

The fact that she is different because of him has been her consolation and her proof that her love, at least, is real. They did not have time for love to take any other form than that of a cherished memory and an inspiration, but it has truly been both to her.

But now, at the ending of one world and the beginning of another... can't they have what they were denied in that first lifetime? She wants a second chance, but will he?

She hears footsteps crunch on the gravel walk, just round the curve of the lilac hedge, and her heart leaps into her throat, as it has not in such a very, very long time.

It will be him, she thinks. It is his workshop below the garden, and she has been told he often walks here in the evening. The sunlight is slanting low over leaves and grass even now.

Oh, Valar, what will he think? Will he laugh at her for having carried him in her heart all this time? Or will he—

He has come around the curve in the garden path now. He sees her and stops mid-stride, his eyes going round. Is it happiness or merely shock that glazes his features?

"Tauriel?" he says softly. Frozen, he makes no other move or sound.

"Yes, Kíli." She would run to him, embrace him, but surely they do not know each other well enough for that. They have only spent three short days together. And yet she has loved him nearly all her life.

Silence stretches out between them, and she feels disappointment and fear crowding in on her. Because one of them must speak, or they will stand here forever, she says, "You remember."

At those words, he becomes animated again.

"Of course I remember!" he cries, black brows lifting to signal his astonishment that she could think the contrary possible. "I—" He steps toward her and she sees his chest rise and fall as he draws a deep, agitated breath. "I promised."

Somehow, she has the feeling that he had meant to say something else at first. Hope blooms warm and welcome in her heart.

"Kíli." She steps forward and takes his hand, winding her fingers in his as she has done just once before. "I hardly know you, but..."

He is smiling up at her now, with that look of sweet adoration in his eyes that has not changed at all in the ages they have been apart.

"But I very much want to," she finishes.

"And I want to know you." With his other hand, the one that is not in hers, he reaches out and gently gathers a handful of her hair, then lets it spill through his fingers. Next, encouraged by her own smile, he takes her face in both his hands and draws her down to kiss him.

This time his lips are warm, and they move in a gentle caress against hers.

She feels her heart break: so this is what it is like to be kissed. She has wondered.

He draws back then, and she sees tears on his cheeks, though his eyes are dry. The tears are her own.

"Tauriel?"

"I've kissed you once before," she admits.

He stares at her, forehead creased as he seeks for a memory he cannot find. "I don't— Oh." He grins then, understanding. "I hope this time was better."

"Yes." She sinks down on her knees so that she may repeat the experiment. He is less cautious now, though still tender and reverent. His arms find their way around her, drawing her body against him. His nose is caught on hers, and she feels his eyelashes brush her cheek and his whiskers scratch her and then his teeth press her lip.

She laughs, breathless and weak, and tightens her fingers in his hair.

"I'm sorry," he breathes. "I'm sorry if I'm going too fast. I'll try to remember, we've only just met."

"Have we?" She presses her brow to his and gazes into warm dark eyes. Their brown is touched lightly with green, she realizes—she has been imagining him wrong all this time. "But I've loved you all of my life. Amrâlimê."

She knows he smiles; she can see it in his eyes.

"I knew you understood," he says fondly.

"I did. I do."

"I'm glad. Oh, Tauriel, I love you." He kisses her once more.

"And I love you, Kíli."

He chuckles, and she feels the vibration in her own chest.

"Let's find out what that really means now, shall we?" he says.

"Yes, Kíli, let's."


Author's note:

I wrote this as a companion piece to "Parting Gifts," which is the only one of my Kiliel fics (besides this one, now) that is canon compliant. I just couldn't resist finally giving it a happy ending.